Military Experience
Pacific Theater

LT Dorothy Still Danner, NC, USN
On 2 January, the Japanese came into Manila, but didn't come to Santa Scholastica until a few days later. At first, the Japanese were not hostile and mostly left us alone. But then they started taking quinine from us. Then, they took our beds and mattresses. They also began to slap around and beat up the men. But they ignored us—the nurses.

Surrender of Bataan: April 9, 1942
Clifford Martinez
April 9, I think it was about nine o'clock or ten in the morning when Bataan fell. They had a bunch of guys, I'm talking about the Japs, they came up to us. Of course, we'd already messed up our rifles. I was carrying a sub-machine gun at the time, I just bent the barrel. They made us lay down on the ground, searched us, kicked us around got us up, tied our hands behind our backs and just my group, put us in with another group and with us was about three Filipinos, Philippine scouts. And they put us in this group and we stayed there till, yeah I think it was the next morning. There'd been troops coming through. Finally, we got in the end of it and they marched us down...I don't remember the name of the damn road, but it was the Death March.

Ward Redshaw
Bataan fell. It was weird watching. We could see all of Bataan from where we were [on the island of Corregidor]. When Bataan fell, the whole sky was alive with all kinds of tracers, explosions and what not. Then an ammunition dump blew up and that was pretty spectacular when you see it from five mile or six miles away.

At 2 AM that morning, we had a earthquake all across Bataan and Corregidor and it really shook us and brought the whole barrack that we were in completely apart. We had to dig around and find our own foxholes. The Japanese bombers had been coming over occasionally previous couple of weeks. The minute that Bataan fell the full force of the Japanese army was lowered on Corregidor.

It was known at one time as having more shells landing there then at any where else in the world. The bombardment from above and the artillery was pretty ghastly.

Weldon Hamilton
General King went forward and surrendered the troops. When I got to the first prison camp, General King got up in front of the troops and said, "No one surrendered but me. If there's any blame it's mine. I ordered you to surrender. You didn't do anything but take orders."

He thought, and we all thought, he might get into trouble. We certainly know from history that Roosevelt said there would be no surrender; McArthur said there'd be no surrender. Wainwright said, but King was in the place. When he got his staff together that last night he asked, "Can we last 24 hours?"

They said, "No."

He said, "Can we do any important damage to the enemy?"

They said, "No."

He (King) said, "Then I'm going forward and surrendering."

Death March
Weldon Hamilton
We'd read what the Japanese had done in China since 1932 and the news we were getting in was telling about how they killed people in Singapore. We figured that was more or less true. We more or less expected to get killed when we were taken. Most of us. The general told us that he was surrendering and that we should destroy all our weapons. We surrendered the first day. We went up to the road and they came by and we met the Japanese there. They told us to go to Mariveles. Approximately three days they just kind of scooted us, browbeat us, broke people's glasses. This was probably about the 15th. How far was the march itself? I believe the March was about 91 miles from where I was. People started from different places.

Clifford Martinez
Well, they started marching us and these two Filipino guys, said "Joe, we're gonna make a break. Whenever it's clear we'll give the signal, you hit the brush."

So I says 'well hell I'm willing to try anything.' We'd heard rumors about what they'd done once they captured you. You know, they had their hands wired behind their back, bayonet 'em, shoot 'em. That's what we were scared to death of. So anyway, we made it. I'd say, approximately 12, 15 miles on the march and this guy says "Let's hit it Joe." Man, there was no guards right there like this on this side, they were all on that side, so we made a dive for the brush. And we crawled, I guess, four or five miles on our belly, through the brush.

Hell, we was all torn and scratched to hell.

Did anybody see you get away?

No. Well, the guys around us that didn't come—see there was about 15 of us that made the break and the guys that didn't, they were too afraid to do it or something, you know. It was "Good luck to you". So, we crawled I guess about five miles. We stood up and then we heard a patrol coming. So we climbed up a tree. The patrol come by, they were firing their damned machine gun, all over, up in the air and around and I got hit in the left leg. Damned thing started bleeding, going down my boot and that and I was afraid to fall down on the ground, so I tightened up my pants and hid up there. Finally, after they went by, we gave about 20 minutes, we got back down. When we got down I raised up my leg and the damn bullet was still sticking out [of my leg].

He goes. "I'll get that out."(My buddy) had a bayonet, pried it out. See, I still got a pretty clean scar you can see it there. But it was stickin' out like that and he just dug in like that and got it out. And we'd come across a place, well it was a barrio and we got us some gin before we got up in them trees. And he had a bottle of that gin with him and I had a bottle and that guy poured that damn gin. Whew man! I took mine like this [pretends to drink from bottle]. Yeah, you talk about burn. Well you know, you figure pouring alcohol over an open cut. But anyway, that healed up and we made it down to Mariveles...

We got down to Mariveles and we didn't go through the town part. We went around the side and there was a bunch of bancos, these little canoes with outriggers on them. We got aboard, waited till dark, crawled on those. These Filipinos, they led us. Hell, I didn't know where I was or where I was going. And they led us on that and we had to go across the bay, it's a mile across the bay. Now, we're getting shot from the Japs and from our own troops. So coming into the docks there in Corregidor, to the beach ...

They said "Halt, raise up your hands and give us the code." We didn't know what the hell the code is, nothing, you know. We said "We're Americans!"

I identified myself as Battery A, 59th, name, rank, serial number. So they come in "Advance and be recognized" The man had spotlights on us, you know. We couldn't see in front of them. So we came ashore, to the head, they interrogated us, and we told them we sent firing orders from Pucat Hill, said "Yeah we got them" So then they sent us back up to our outfit.

The bombings and the shelling—we went 24 hours a day bombing and shelling. You couldn't get out of a foxhole. And it seemed like every time one of those damn shells that came in or bomb, it seemed like it had your number.

We were losing patience. Oh, you'd hear "MacArthur's bringing in reinforcements." Then the thing that pissed us off—Eleanor Roosevelt, that was Roosevelt's wife. Well, before the war she would say anyone doing tropical service, when they come back to that states would have to be put in a camp to get re-indoctrinated to be an American again, which is a bunch of crap. But then she was making radio speeches, "Butt your heads against the rocky shores of Corregidor. You will never take Corregidor" and all this crap you know. Then on top of that was Tokyo Rose telling about our girlfriends getting married and deserting us and nobody wanted us anymore you know, that they were going to "live like kings" under the Jap control. That turned out to be a bunch of crap.

May 6, 1942 Corregidor falls
Clifford Martinez

They invaded Corregidor that night, wave after wave. Everybody that was around Middleside and Bottomside was shipped down to the ground that was the front lines. We couldn't fire 'cause it was too close for our mortars, too close for our big guns, so we had to sweat it out. They gave us extra ammunition... Before that I was on 50 caliber, they were crap, but they gave us extra ammunition and load[ed] us up, was starting to move, when the order came. So the next thing I know we got orders to surrender. Do not destroy your weapons. That was the first thing we did, bent the barrels on the rifle and the gun commander put the dummy shell in the gun, powdered charge, got a big long line and got in the tunnel and fired that thing and poof, just blew up like that. They never used that again.

All my belongings were down in Manila, ready to go back to the States. But the few belongings we had there, we had to leave everything. I think I got out... I had an Elgin watch, it was heart-shaped, with a stretch band and they told us to hide our stuff. Well that morning when, before we went down, some guys dug a hole and took two canisters. The guys put their watches our their money or what ever they had in there and they buried them. I kept my watch and I put it up under my sleeve up under my arm. I had a class ring, silver and they never bothered that. They looked at it but they never bothered it. Took my billfold out, had a picture of my girlfriend and some other things in it and they tore it up you know...

We didn't know what to think. We were scared to death. I was almost pissin' my pants like the rest.

Were they just really aggressive?

Tell me about them...
Well, they come at you and hell, you didn't know what the hell they were saying. They give you orders, you know, you had to go by their motions. If you didn't do it right away - rifle butt or they try [to] bayonet you or something like that. Hell, we didn't know what to do and we were scared shitless. But they marched us from Topside down to Middleside. Middleside is where the Jap lines were. We got to there and that's where they started their stuff. "Yankee cowards. American cowards" all that. On Bottomside that's where it was really something. They made us walk through where the bodies were laying, Marines, Air Force everything, dead laying on the ground, all bloated up. We just wondered what the hell was going to happen to us.

They took us down to Bottomside to what they called 92nd Garage Area and we didn't have no shower. All we had was our mess kits. We had gas masks during the war, we threw the gas masks away stuffed what stuff we could in the carrier and like I say I had about two cans of c rations...vegetable stew and a couple cans of soluble coffee, little round things like that. That's all I had and some guys didn't even have that. But they had us down there a week, over a week no food no water. And a lot of guys got diarrhea so the had these trenches.

Well, I wasn't in too bad of shape, my leg was bothering me a bit but I wasn't too bad of health. But I was hungry, I was losing weight and that. So, one morning they came down, got us all up and made us wade out to a boat and we got aboard this boat and got on this ship. They had cavalry there, they had these stalls, there was still horse shit in them. They took us, the ship, to Cebu [or Manila?] and they stopped out, made us jump in the water. We had to swim or wade almost a half a mile I'd say to shore and the Japs, the guards, they had boats you know. There were several guys who drowned on that.

They did that just because they didn't have time to transport?
They didn't have nothing to transport us in. So we got to shore....

This is in the Philippines still?
Yeah, well it's part of Manila, outside of Manila. So we got there and marched overland to the big highway called Dewey Boulevard. They held us there till they got everybody and by this time we was all pretty damn weak. And I didn't even have my helmet. So they started marching us to Manila. I don't know how far it was, it was quite a ways. No water no nothing. And Filipinos lined up on both sides of us throwing candy and sugar and rice balls.

So were people picking it up?
They were throwing it to us.

And were you guys picking it up?
Yeah, yeah. If we got caught picking it up we got a beating. But we managed to do pretty good. But the Filipinos took the worst part of it. Oh hell, they beat and bayoneted them poor guys and they'd still [do] the 'V for victory' you know. So they marched us downtown Manila to what they call Bilibid Prison. That used to be the federal prison for the Filipinos before the war. And they put us there, nothing to eat, no water, overnight. Had to sleep on the concrete. And I didn't even have a blanket there, nothing.

We curled up and next morning we came out and give us a rice ball and man we gobbled that up, I was still hungry. And they marched us to a rail yard and they got little damn boxcars, I'd say normally hold maybe 30 people, so they wound up with 100, 150 in this thing. You couldn't squat, you couldn't sit. You had to stand. [There were] some vents in the windows around there but you couldn't breathe in there it was really hot. So we rode I don't know how long to Nuedaejica [Cabanatuan]. That's as close as I can come, I've been trying to remember the name of that town.

[Note: the boxcars used in the Philippines at the time were called 40-8's because they could hold 40 men or 8 horses. These were the same size cars used to ship prisoners on the Death March from San Fernando to Capas.]

Ward Redshaw
I think there was about 12,000 of us waiting there for about three weeks while the Japanese insisted to General Wainwright, that everyone in the Philippines would be surrendered not just those they actually captured. One evening the Japanese put down a rolling artillery barrage that came within 100 yards of us. And I guess the threat was that unless Wainwright surrendered the whole Philippine Islands, the rolling barrage would come in on this prison camp and kill 12,000 people. For the first time we really saw the brutality of the Japanese.

One of the terrible things that a lot of us as professional soldiers realized [was] that we were going into harm's way. However, there are times when you're wounded and times when you're captured.

We wound up being targets of the most senseless brutality that the Japanese soldier could possibly do. I was not on the Death March, but with the Death March was the beginning of brutality for brutality's sake. There was absolutely no excuse for it. We had been on quarter ration for the last month, we had no ammunition and the Japanese with their bayonets and rifle butts killed many, many, many of us during work detail on Corregidor during those three weeks. We went by bodies of Marines which had still not been buried and the Japanese pointedly told us they would not be buried until everybody is captured in the Philippines. And the bodies had bloated up to an unbelievable size.