Sunday, May 22, 2016

A Little Bit of History

We wanted to get this posted before Memorial Day, to help others see what those people who have gone before us sacrificed, so we could enjoy the quality of life we have today.
It is has been a month since we left the Palawan Island and we were transferred to Manila. We miss the people in Palawan Island so much. We had started this blog before we left but we weren’t able to get it sent because we were so busy.  We have been really busy with new assignments along with checking over 40 missionary apartments, and doing orientation for a new missionary couple, the Porteous’ who arrived from Medicine Hat, Alberta two weeks ago.  We have been working very hard to understand the traffic and the road system in Manila and how to manipulate through the traffic Sister Wolcott has also been doing all the medical needs for the missionaries in the mission, with help from Sister Taylor.  SisterTaylor will be returning back to the US soon, so Sister Wolcott has been learning all the ins and outs of the system until our new nurse gets here on June 14th.  To say the least we have been busy, busy, busy.  It is such a fun experience though and every day is a new adventure.  We are loving our mission and serving the people of the Philippines as well as our wonderful, dedicated missionaries.  
The more that we are in the Philippines the more we understand the love and respect the Philippine people have for the American people.  We came to understand it better on one of our trips from the airport, our van driver was talking to us about the great things the Americans did for the Philippine people.  He said that the Americans came here and freed the people.  They were no longer slaves.  They taught them to read and write and the importance of education.  They let us govern ourselves and helped us set up a government so we could govern within the laws and rules that we set forth.  (The Philippines were under Spanish rule from 1521 until 1898, the United States acquired the Philippines as part of the settlement of the Spanish American War. Even more interesting is that Joanne's grandfather, Charles Frederick Campbell fought in the Spanish American War). The van driver said usually if another country conquers a country they become subject to that country, but the Americans did not do that to us.  They let us govern ourselves and helped make our country a great place to live.  This man had nothing but love and respect for the American people and the liberation that was brought to the Philippines.  It is nice place to be and the people are such a friendly, kind and respectful where we are treated daily with love and respect.
On another note we would like to share some of the things we have learned while we have been in Puerto Princesa on the Palawan Island.  We love it here and we love the people.  They are so kind, so gentle, so loving and always so polite.  We have to tell this story because of what the Philippine people did to help the American Prisoners of War that on Palawan Island during the WWII.  We wish this story had a better outcome but it doesn’t.  But, we know many of family and friends have the same names as these men and maybe some of these men were part of your families.  We feel a reverence every time we go to the area where the prisoner of war camp used to be.  It is kind of similar to the reverence one might feel at Arlington or Gettysburg.  We pray that you will feel the same reverence as you read this small bit of history which includes some very brave men. 
The main sources for this information are taken from a narrative history of Puerto Princesa during WWII and also an article from the World War II Magazine Today by V. Dennis Wrynn. We know that some of the information is redundant but it helps piece together a complicated story.
With the stunning defeats by the United States, Great Britain and the Netherlands in the early months of the Pacific War, thousands of the Allied military personnel became prisoners of war to the Japanese. In August, 1942, 346 American Prisoners of War were taken from a Prisoner of War camp north of Manila and from the Bilibid Prison in Manila and were sent 350 miles to Puerto Princesa on the Island of Palawan to build an airfield for the Japanese. (Palawan is an island which western side is on the South China Sea and its eastern side is the east edge of the Sulu Sea.)  The Japanese planned that the airfield would be completed within 3 months. The prisoners were equipped with picks, and shovels, one tractor, one roller and a few trucks.  If one could see the coral here on the island one would understand what the prisoners of war were trying to break up with a pick and shovel. It is understandable that the completion of the airfield took years.  Even today the roads that are not paved have big strips of coral sticking up out of them. The coral is relentless even after it is driven on, walked on, and used on a daily basis. The coral still penetrates out the ground and does not wear down. The Americans would take over two years to clear a strip of land over a mile long and 600 feet wide out of the jungle and build an airstrip on it.
The Americans at Puerto Princesa attempted more escapes than any other American camp of comparable size.  The first attempt, soon after their arrival on the island, was the most successful.  Out of the six that escaped five made their escape good.  The other prisoners were punished by being given reduced rations. The next escape happened soon after when two more escaped.  Then two more escape attempts followed which were largely unsuccessful. Four men escaped and two were recaptured and a third killed. The last escape was in late June, 1943 resulted in the recapture of both men making the attempt.  They were led off under guard and never seen again.  After this attempt the Japanese commandant announced that if one man escaped, the men in his ten-man squad would be executed. This announcement caused the men to stay in the compound.   
In the compound the prisoners lived in what was known as Camp 10-A and they were quartered in several unused Filipino constabulary buildings that were dilapidated.  Food was minimal; each day they received a mess kit of wormy Cambodian rice and a canteen cup of soup made from camote vines boiled in water. Camote is a Philippine variant of sweet potatoes. If prisoners could not work their rations were cut by 30%. The prisoners received brutal treatment by their captures.  The men were beaten with pick handles, and being kicked and slapped were regular daily occurrences. Prisoners who attempted to escape were executed. Two prisoners caught taking green papayas from a tree in the compound, were punished by breaking their left arms with an iron bar.  Six POWs who were caught stealing food were tied to coconut trees, beaten, whipped with a wire and beaten again with a wooden club 3 inches in diameter.  They were forced to stand at attention while a guard beat them unconscious, after which the prisoners were revived to undergo further beatings. Medical care was non-existent; One Marine underwent an appendectomy with no anesthesia and no infection-fighting drugs.  The POWs suffered from malaria, scurvy, pellagra, beriberi and tropical ulcers as well as from injuries suffered at their work or from the physical mistreatment perpetuated by their captures. In January 1944, when Red Cross supplies finally were received, the enemy removed the medicines and drugs from the parcels for their own use.

In September 1944, 159 prisoners were returned to Manila. The enemy estimated the remaining 150 men could complete the arduous labor on the airfield, hauling and crushing coral gravel by hand and pouring concrete 7 days a week. The total area to be cleared was approximately 2, 400 yards, by 225 yards, with the actual airstrip measuring 1,530 yards long and 75 yards wide. The men also repaired the trucks and performed a variety of maintenance tasks in addition to logging and other heavy labor.
In late September, the Japanese general ordered that the remaining prisoners be returned to Manila, but the order was never carried out, even though the transportation was available.
In October, 1944 there were daily sightings of American aircraft and there was an attack which sank two ships and damaged several planes on Palawan Island. Also later in the month of October another attack damaged 60 enemy aircraft on the ground. The sightings of the American aircraft   helped the morale soar in the camp but with this the treatment of the prisoners became worse, and their rations were cut. But the Japanese did let the Americans paint Prisoner of War Camp on the roof of the barracks. This gave the prisoners some protection during American air raids. The Japanese then stowed their own supplies under the POW barracks.  Because of the constant presence of Allied aircraft overhead the prisoners constructed three shelters, each 150 feet long and 4 feet high, for their own protection during the air raids. They were made so that entrances at each end of the shelters would be only large enough to admit one man at a time.  The shelters were roofed with logs and dirt and were located on the beach side of the camp.  While not totally bombproof, they did offer a significant level of protection.  There were also several shelter holes that could hold two or three men.
On December 14th it was reported that there was an American convoy, which was headed to Palawan, but it was actually going to Mindoro. All of the prisoners were called into the camp at noon.  Two American aircraft was sighted so all the prisoners were ordered into the air raid shelters.  After a short time the prisoners re-emerged from their shelters, but they were ordered to stay in the area of the barracks. A second alarm was sounded at 2:00 p.m. which sent the prisoners back into the shelters, where they remained closely guarded.
Suddenly, in an orchestrated and obviously planned move, 50 to 60 soldiers under the direction of Japanese leadership doused the wooden shelter with buckets of gasoline and set them on fire with flaming torches, followed by hand grenades.  The screams of the trapped and doomed prisoners mingled with the cheers of the Japanese soldiers and the laughter of their officer.  As men engulfed in flames broke out of their fiery deathtraps, the guard’s machine gunned, bayoneted and clubbed them to death.  Most of the Americans never made it out of the trenches or the compound before they were barbarously murdered, but several clashed with their tormentors in hand to hand combat and succeeded in killing a few of the attackers. Four of the American officers that were held prisoner had their own dugout, which was also torched.  One of them ran towards the Japanese and pleaded with them to use some sense but was soon machine-gunned down to his death.
About 30-40 Americans escaped the massacre area, either through the double woven 6 ½ foot barbed wired fence or under it, where some secret escape routes had been concealed for use in an emergency.  They fell or jumped down the cliff above the beach area, seeking hiding places among the rocks and foliage.  The men attempted to swim across Puerto Princesa’s bay immediately, but were shot in the water.  Marine Sergeant Douglas Bogue said, “I took refuge in a small crack among the rocks, where I remained, all the time hearing the butchery going on above.  They even resorted to using dynamite in forcing some of the men from their shelters.  I knew that as soon as it was over up above they would be down probing among the rocks, spotting us and shooting us.  Shortly after this they were moving in groups among the rocks dragging the Americans out and murdering them as they found them.  By the grace of God I was overlooked.”
Eugene Nielsen observed from his hiding place on the beach a group of Americans trapped at the base of the cliff.  They asked to be shot in the head.  The enemy would just laugh and shoot or bayonet them in the stomach. They just laughed and left them to suffer. Nielsen hid for three hours, when the Japs were kicking American corpses into a hole Nielson’s partially hidden body was uncovered by an enemy soldier, who yelled out to his companions that he had found another dead American. Just then there was a call for dinner and they abandoned their murderous pursuit in favor of hot food. Later, when the enemy soldiers began to close in on his hiding place, Nielson dived into the bay and swam underwater for some distance.  When he surfaced, approximately 20 Japanese were shooting at him.  He was hit in the leg, and his head and ribs were grazed by bullets.  Even though he was pushed out to sea by the current and the changing of the tide, Nielson finally managed to reach the southern shore of the bay.
Joseph Barta said, “At first I did not get into the shelter but a Jap officer drew his saber and forced me to get under cover.  About five minutes later, I heard rifle and machine-gun fire, not knowing what was happening I looked out and saw several men on fire and being shot down by the Japs.  So I along with several others went under the fence through a hole.  Just as I got outside the fence, I looked back and saw a Jap throw a torch in the other end of our hole, and another one threw in a bucket of gasoline.
The slaughter continued until dark.  Some of the wounded Americans were buried alive by the Japanese. Men who tried to swim across the bay were shot by soldiers on shore or by ones on a Japanese landing barge.
The Marine who had survived the appendectomy without anesthesia hid in the camp garbage dump with two other men.  One of them, a military policeman named Charles Street, made a run for the bay as the Japanese closed in and was shot dead.  Another man, Erving Evans stood up and said,
“All right , you Japs, here I am and don’t miss me.”  He was shot and his body set afire. Somehow the enemy missed McDole, who later witnessed a party of five or six Japs with an American who had been wounded, stabbing him with bayonets. Then another of the enemy came with some gasoline and lit the bottom of his pants on fire while others were laughing and still stabbing him with bayonets.
The Japanese ended their search for the Americans but there were still a few undiscovered and alive, several were hid in a sewer outlet. When the Japanese shone lights in the pipe the Americans hid under the water and were not discovered. After nightfall, they attempted to swim across the bay, which was 5 miles across at that point.  Several of them were successful, including Rufus Smith, who was badly bitten on his left arm and shoulder by a shark but managed to reach the opposite shore.
Out of the 150 plus men in the camp 11 of the men survived. Most of those rescued swam across the bay and were helped by the inmates of Palawan’s Iwahig Penal Colony, where several of the officials in charge were involved in the local resistance movement. Filipino civilian prisoners at the colony, who were interned during the Japanese occupation of their homeland, fed and clothed the American POWs and contacted the local guerilla leaders on their behalf.  The guerrillas escorted the Americans down coast of Palawan Island to a community called Brooke’s Point, where they were evacuated by a U.S. Navy seaplane to Leyte.
Barta, wandered in the jungle for 10 days after swimming the bay.  At one point, he came within 3 feet of a Japanese sentry on a jungle path before making his escape. Although wounded in that encounter, he managed to reach the Iwahig Colony, where he was hidden in a well.  A local witch doctor treated his wounds by spreading a solution of boiled guava leaves over them with a gray chicken feather, accompanied by much dancing and hollering.  He was reunited with Bogue and McDole, and they were ultimately evacuated from Brooke’s Point.
One Japanese soldier wrote in his journal on December 15th, which was later left at the camp.  “Due to a sudden change of situation 150 prisoners of war were executed. Although they were prisoners of war they truly died a pitiful death.  The prisoners who worked in the repair shop really worked hard.  From today on I will not hear the familiar greeting, ‘Good morning, sergeant major.’” On January 9 he continued: “After a long absence, I visited the motor vehicle repair shop.  Today, the shop is a lonely place.  The prisoners of war who were assisting in repair work are now just white bones, on the beach washed by the waves.  Furthermore, there are numerous corpses in the nearby garage and the smell is unbearable.  It gives me the creeps.”
After the liberation of Palawan the men of the Army’s 601st Quartermaster Company, excavated the burned and destroyed dugouts to properly bury the dead Americans.  The unit reported 79 individual burials during March 1945 and many more partial burials. The skulls of these skeletons either had bullet holes or had been crushed by blunt trauma. Most of the bodies were found in the shelters huddled together at a spot furthest away from the entrance.  There was an indication that they were trying to get as far away from the fire as far as possible, their bodies were in a prone position with arms extended with small conical holes at the fingertips showing that these men were trying to dig their way to freedom.
Survivors, who swam toward Iwahig, were saved by a couple of inmates or colonists.  They were given food, medicines and were sent to evacuation places to avoid detection.  Later, they were conducted to guerilla camps where they stayed until they finally found their way to freedom. The first six that were picked up were Edwin Petry, William J. Balalus, Rufus Smith, Ernest Colbos, Eugene Neilson, Albert Pacheco, and Thomas Loudon, a civilian.
Later three other servicemen were picked up by the U.S. Navy Catalina flying boat escorted by a B-24. Barta, McDole and Bogue.
The men that made it to freedom were as follows:
Rufus Smith   Hughes Spring, Texas picked up by at Brooke’s Point by Clarence L. Solander, pilot “Playmate 42”, a PBY, U. S. Navy Catalina flying boat, escorted by a B-24.
Earnest John Colbos or Koblas (spelled two different ways) Chicago, Illinois picked up by at Brooke’s Point by Clarence L. Solander, pilot “Playmate 42”, a PBY, U.S. Navy Catalina flying boat, escorted by a B-24.
Edwin Petry  Venice, California  picked up by at Brooke’s Point by Clarence L. Solander, pilot “Playmate 42”, a PBY, U.S. Navy Catalina flying boat, escorted by a B-24.
Eugene Nielson, Utah picked up by at Brooke’s Point by Clarence L. Solander, pilot “Playmate 42”, a PBY, U.S. Navy Catalina flying boat, escorted by a B-24.
William Balchus Martinville, New Jersey  picked up by at Brooke’s Point by Clarence L. Solander, pilot “Playmate 42”, a PBY, U.S.Navy Catalina flying boat, escorted by a B-24.
Albert Pacheco  Denning, New Mexico  picked up by at Brooke’s Point by Clarence L. Solander, pilot “Playmate 42”, a PBY, U.S. Navy Catalina flying boat, escorted by a B-24.
Don T. Schlot, no information about him was found, even after searching the internet. His name is listed on the monument as a survivor.
Fern Joseph Barta  Salt Lake City, Utah  wandered the jungle for 10 days after swimming the bay. At one point, he came within 3 feet of a Japanese sentry on a jungle path before making his escape. Although wounded in that encounter, he managed to reach the Iwahig Colony, where he was hidden in a well. A local witch doctor treated his wounds by spreading a solution of boiled guava leaves over them with a gray chicken feather, accompanied by much dancing and hollering. He was reunited with Bogue and Barta.
Glen Weddal McDole  Des Moines, Iowa, arrived in Brookes Point after the first group was picked up so they were picked up sometime later by a PBY, U.S. Navy Catalina flying boat.
Douglas Bogue, arrived in Brookes Point after the first group was picked up so they were picked up sometime later by a PBY, U.S. Navy Catalina flying boat.

Elmo Deal Uba City, California, was badly burned and wounded, made it.  He hid among the debris inside the Catholic Church (this church is across the street from the POW Camp) during a hard rain.  He dodged the Japanese sentry barely 30 meters away and inched his way out of Puerto Princesa into the jungle wandering aimlessly, hungry and in pain, delirious from loss of blood and his infected wounds writhing with maggots.  He was almost at the end of his human endurance-ready to give up when he thought he saw a light, he begged to be helped not knowing, if there was anyone who could help.  Fortunately, he fell into friendly hands that nursed his wounds, gave him food and a place to rest.  (The man that helped this soldier was a Mr. Loudon along with his daughter, Mary who treated and helped the soldiers. Though Mr. Loudon was 73 years old he helped by walking them the 75 miles to Brooks Point. After his sufficient recovery, thanks to able services of the AIB (Allied Intelligence Bureau) he was evacuated by, a PBY, U.S. Navy Catalina flying boat, escorted by a B-24.
The war crimes trial for the Pacific theater was held in Japan.  The Palawan Massacre trial was dismissed because of an introduction of a written order sent to each camp commander in May 1944 stating that during an attack defensive measures must be taken without returning a single POW.  In hindsight, there was very little doubt regarding the true meaning of this order to camp commanders.
In 1952 the remains of 123 of the Palawan victims were transferred to the Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery near St. Louis, Missouri, where they lie in a mass grave. These men are honored today by the few who remember and a park in Puerto Princesa where monuments have been placed to honor a few truly brave men—whose names shall never be forgotten.
The names of those whose remains were sent to National Cemetery near St. Louis Missouri, and the Branch of Service they fought for are as follows:
Navy
Carl  Barnes
Darrell Barnes
Wilber Blackburn
Harry Cook
Bill Gillespie
Waldo Hale
John Harris
Henry Knight
Arthur Lamountain
Theodore McNally
James Roe
Army
Henry Aroujo
Heraclio Anspo
Homer Bailey
Herbert Baker
Benjamin Beason
Mason Bouchy
William T. Brown
Fred Bruni
Douglas Burnett
Casey Carter
Roy Childers
James Choate
Earl Crandell
Franklin Cullens
John Czajkowski
John Diaz
Elix Clayton
Erving Evans
George Eyre
Houston Fletcher
Jessie Gee
Mike Giuffred
Samuel Glover
Richard Goodykoontz
Lenton Harbin
Douglas Hawkins
Joseph Henderson
Roy Hickle
Miner Hinkle
Hugh Hubbard
Tom Huston
Fred Hutchinson
Charles Jacobson
Joseph Kazlauskas
Robert Stevenson
James Stidham
Charles Street
Harding Stutts
Leslie Sweany
Homer Swinner
Glen Teel
Jolley Terry
Harold King
Richard Koerner
Leo Lampshire
Kenneth Lewis
Forest Lindsay
John Lyons
Carl Mango
George Manzi
Richard McAnany
Willam McElveen
Joe Mascarenas
Joe Million
Fred Moffatt
Roger Moore
Frank Newell
Harry Noel
Ernest Novak
Trinidad Otero
James Pitts
Homer Rankin
Vernon Rector
Arthur Rhoades
James Rudd
Santiago Saiz
John Sanchez
Henry Scally
Charles Schubert
Gabriel Sierra
Charles Sirfus
Kenneth O. Smith
Cecil Snyder
Carroll Spinder
Dervert Stanley
John Stanley
Delbert Thomas
Glen Turner
Joseph Uballe
Ted Vitatoe
Carl Walker
Horace Whitecotton
Willard Yeast
Marines
Jewell Adams
Robert Adkins
Sammy Caldwell
Joseph Glacken
James Grahnert
William Hammock
Kenneth Hanson
Clifford Henderson
John Hughes
Aubrey Johnson
Earl Joyner
Wilfred Kernes
Daniel Ray
Edward Schultz
Jesse Simpson
Owen Skaggs
George Walker
John Warren
Stephen Kozuch
Kenneth Lindsay
Donald Martin (also spelled Martyn)
E.C. Morris
Orlando Morris
Dillard Price

May we never forget the freedoms and liberties we enjoy each and every day were not free but earned with a price.  May we honor the great men who gave their ALL to help others enjoy the same blessings of freedom we enjoy!  The right of choice is a God given freedom that we are blessed to have each day. May we ever be thankful for that great blessing in our lives. 
The legacy of how Americans treated the people in the Philippines after the Spanish American War certainly helped cement this critical ally during WW II. Without this Ally the outcome of the war may have been entirely different. That legacy is alive today as Americans we are treated with utmost respect.
We love being here and love these wonderful people.
We hope this finds all of our family and friends well and happy.  We promise we will be faster at entering information into our blog next time.  Love to all, Elder and Sister Wolcott

3 comments:

  1. Joseph Uballe was my uncle. I never knew but would hear bits and pieces about what happened to him growing up.
    It was a atrocity that not many Americans know about.
    Thank you for writing about the Palawan Massacre.History is so important !
    He might have been just a kid from a small town in Iowa but he never got to live a full life.He had a family that was forever changed by his death. Sincerely Cheri Larson

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  2. Thanks for sharing this. Dad served in Korea and never was a POW but he was missing in action for a few days. What courage our war heros have. So thankful to all who served. My heart was touched.

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  3. Thanks so much sister Wolcott for sharing your wonderful experiences during your mission in the Philippines. I attend Makati 3rd Ward in Buendia Chapel and I think I have seen you attending the sacrament meeting in Makati 4th when I had given my talk there about the Young Women.

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