For the WAR CRIMES OFFICE
Judge Advocate General's Department
Department of the Army
United States of America
Perpetuation of Testimony of Arthur L. Shreve, Lt Colonel, 011176
Taken at: Baltimore, Maryland
Dated: 16 January 1948
In the Presence of: Jack S. Kelly, Special Agent, 109th CIC Det, Second Army
13 December 1944: The detail of 1619 officers, men and civilians were assembled early this morning with their equipment. Our destination was plainly Japan. Each officer had been issued the Japanese soldiers secondhand woolen uniform and no provisions had been made for head covering, socks, or footwear. All members of the detail had been issued soap and two packages of Japanese cigarettes. The detail fell in at about 8:30 AM. After being checked, was told to fall out and await further orders. About 11:30 the word was passed around to reform the detail. We were marched out of Bilibid Prison, through downtown Manila towards the port area.
Colonel Warner, from Baltimore, who had not been well, suffered severely from a combination of the heat and physical fatigue and finally stumbled and fell. An effort was made to place him on a truck driven by a Japanese soldier, but the officer in charge did not allow it. Some of his fellow officers finally assisted him and he made the march successfully to Pier 10. Lying beside was a very nice looking modern vessel of about 10,000 tons displacement, called the Oryoku Maru. At about 2:00 PM we were loaded into the vessel which turned out to be one of the so-called Japanese luxury liners, which had made the Manila run before the war. The holds in which we were placed were really trunk compartments and no means of ventilation or lighting was provided. The forward hold into which Colonel Warner and myself and many other officers were placed had been loaded with hay and there were some remnants of it still in the hold. I imagine that over 500 men were packed in and with us it made it so crowded that no one had sufficient room to lie down. There was only the barest space to sit with your knees drawn up under your own. Protestations were made to the Japanese about the overcrowding and we were told that readjustment would be made at some later time.
An evening meal of rice and fish with a small amount of water was served. Very shortly after dark the vessel got under way. Absolutely no ventilation was provided. The air became very foul. Colonel Brettell and Colonel Conety who both suffered from asthma, were soon in a critical condition. After long protestations to the Japanese we were finally allowed to send them up one ladder to the deck, but for some reason which I will never know, we were soon made to bring them back again. Both died that night; in addition, I estimate about 25 men died in the forward hold that night from suffocation.
14 December 1944: At about 7:00 AM a meal was served which corresponded to the evening meal before. The ration of water was particularly short. The men who went on deck to receive the food reported that we were traveling in a heavily armed convoy and were probably off the west coast of Luzon. At about 8:30 AM we suffered a violent air attack which consisted of dive bombing and very heavy strafing from our naval air forces. These attacks continued with increasing intensity until about 4:30 that afternoon. From what we could hear and feel the vessel had been severely hit. One bomb had landed on the deck above the hold in which we were placed and had blown one of the 3 anti-aircraft guns which were on deck immediately forward of the hatch which led to the hold over the side, into the ocean.
The casualties among the gun crews have been terrible, as also as among the passengers who were crowded into every available space in the boat. Later that afternoon during I believe the last attack, direct machine gun fire from our planes came through the open hatch severely wounding many of our men. While assisting Colonel North, one of our Medical Officers, in the care of the wounded, I received a machine gun wound in the back. Not bad, for I did not realize that I had been hit until someone called my attention to it. Just after dark our Medical Officer was sent for. Evidently, to assist in caring for the Japanese who had been killed and wounded during the attack. Colonel North upon his return described the conditions on deck as being horrible. Casualties of men, women and children were strewn about the deck, The vessel was on fire and had evidently dropped out of the convoy.
During that night we could hear the winches running furiously and we assumed that the Japanese were taking off any survivors. We received neither food nor water that night.
The heat was so terrific that everyone still alive was constantly in a violent perspiration. This so irritated the men's eyes, that they became practically blind. I know, for this happened to me. Sometime during the night of 14-15 December, Colonel North later told me that I had been overcome by heat and exhaustion and that he had to administer morphine in an effort to save my life. While under the influence, I evidently wandered off, for I remember falling from the wooden shelf which was about 4-1/2 feet high, which divided the hold into two levels. Someone moved me back up. During this period many of our men became insane. Some attempted to leave the hold and were shot by the guards. There were about 100 casualties from suffocation alone.
15 December 1944: Shortly after daybreak we were notified by the Japanese that we would be permitted to abandon the ship but we were also told that we would not be allowed to take but the barest necessities, mess kit, canteen, shoes and what little other clothing we had. We were told that anyone carrying too much would indicate their intention to try to escape and they would immediately be shot. I estimate that about 9:30 or 10:00 o'clock we were allowed to abandon ship. No life preservers or boats were provided.
Primarily, my equipment consisted of a pair of shorts, a pair of shoes which I tied around my neck, a pistol belt with a canteen and a mess kit. I picked up an old towel and tied it around my neck with a thought of having protection from the sun. I could find none of my belongings in the terrible disorder in the hold.
When I finally reached the deck the air was so fresh in comparison to the hold that you were really overcome, simply by the amount of oxygen which you could take into your lungs. Several of the men fainted when they first came out into the fresh air. Colonel North's description was certainly true, the vessel was in shambles. I was quite surprised to see large quantities of containers such as the tin powdered milk and the corned beefs, butter and other containers of Red cross food packages destined for prisoners of war, strewn over the decks. The Japanese herded us over the side. I held my nose and stepped off, I imagine about 55' high. My impact with the water was so great that my pistol belt became unhooked and I lost the canteen and my mess kit.
The cold water of Subic Bay instantly revived us and after looking the situation over with an idea of escape, I finally decided that it was too risky. I struck out for the shore, about 1/4 or 1/3 of a mile away.
When the water became shallow enough for me to stand I looked back and decided that it might be a good idea if I swam back with an effort to get a canteen and mess kit. I also noticed that there were many men still standing on the vessel, although she was still burning furiously. The thought occurred to me that in all possibility these men did not know how to swim. I collected up a piece of hatch cover and using it as the Hawaiians do a surf board, I paddled back to the vessel, called up and inquired who couldn't swim and told them that if they would get overboard, I would support them until they could get a hatch cover which I brought back with me. I instructed one of the officers who I knew, to bring a belt, canteen and mess kit with him, which he did. As each man jumped overboard, I assisted him to the hatch cover and told two to hold on to each side.
I then held on to the rear of the hatch cover and pushed the four of them ashore. One of them was Hendrickson, a Field Artilleryman, who was later lost.
The Japanese had placed machine guns along the shore and anyone who didn't come directly from the ship to the shore was immediately taken under fire. I know that several of our officers and men were killed that way.
As we came ashore we were herded by the Japanese guards back from the beach and finally to a large group of trees which was next to a small garden which had once been part of our Naval Base.
Fortunately, there was a water spigot available and after much protestation, the Japanese allowed us to fill our canteens, the first water that some of us had had for nearly two days. During this time our Naval planes again came and as there was no resistance from the ship they dropped several bombs which broke her in two and she sank.
I found from some of my acquaintances, that the ship had actually contained three of these so-called "holds" or "Trunk compartments" and that a few of them had been placed in the center one. The majority, however, like myself, had been placed in either the forward or the after hold. The center hold had a very few officers and men in it. They didn't suffer at all from lack of water, and air and were very comfortable, having been able to lie down to sleep. Those in the after hold had suffered severely in casualties and wounds from a near miss which landed close to the stern of the vessel caving in the plates and causing the deck to collapse above them. We estimated that between 125 and 150 were killed.
Later that afternoon, we were herded into a single tennis court which fortunately had a spigot in it so we didn't suffer from lack of water.
We had had no food since the previous morning. The Japanese made no attempt to feed us. Very few of the men had any clothes. Many had been wounded. The Japanese made no attempt to relieve this situation. One of our men, a Marine Corporal, had had his arm broken during the bombing. It became necessary to amputate, which was done by one of our Medical officers, Colonel Swartz, with the aid of a razor blade. Repeated entreaties for food and clothing fell on deaf ears.
Just before dark an effort was made to ascertain the number of men who survived. A rough count revealed that 1341 of the original 1619 were on the tennis court.
20 December 1944: We have now been on the tennis court for five days, during this period we have been issued three level mess spoons of uncooked rice per day. Some salvage Japanese under clothing was finally brought and our men most in need received either some old under-drawers or the Japanese cotton issue shirt.
At about 12:00 o'clock, orders were received for one-half of the group to march out of the tennis court. Babcock, who had been with me and also Bill North were both in this detail. We were placed on trucks, about 30 men to each truck and moved directly to San Fernando in the province of Panpango, where we were placed in the Provincial Prison court yard. This had a gravel area surrounded by high concrete walls containing a few solitary cells. We were fed that day, cooked rice for the first time since the 14th of December. Our sickest and most severely wounded were segregated into one of the cell blocks. We tried to make them as comfortable as possible. Our Medical Officers were given one box of Red Cross medical supplies, which gave us a very meager supply of the barest essential needed for the care of our wounded. We had no medication for the treatment of diarrhea and dysentery which was very current. As the Senior Officer present I assumed command of these men. Englehart acted as my interpreter. I protested through Englehart to the Senior Japanese officer present, a corporal, that our men needed above all food, particularly something more than plain rice. I also requested that I get in touch with the Philippine Relief Agency in town with an effort to get our men some sandals for the barefooted and some clothing for the naked.
23 December 1944: Repeated protests to the Japanese authorities that several men who had been injured during the sinking, and some affected with diseases for which we had no medication would surely die if they were not transferred to the Military Prison Hospital in Manila, resulted in an order that we were to select from our group seven of the sickest and most severely wounded and they could be transferred to Bilibid. After consultation, seven of the sickest men were selected and transferred. Among them was Edison of the Coast Artillery. We still received two meals of cooked rice daily brought in by the Japanese in the morning and in the afternoon. We have been told to organize a cooking detail in order to be issued uncooked rice. Colonel Happer of the FA died last night. From what we can hear, the Philippines are under constant air attack and although we have seen no planes from the sound they are land base bombs.
23 December 1944: The Japanese have lived up to their policy that we will receive cooked rice. In the last two days we have received in addition to about a canteen cup of rice twice a day a few comoties and enough dried fish so that each one of our men received a portion about as large as a 50 cent piece. We are fortunate that there is plenty of water here and although the Japanese prohibit bathing, I find that at night many of our men including myself, have been able to take a bath. We are still suffering from the effects of our mistreatment aboard the first transport. Many of the tropical ulcers which were induced by the terrific heat and foul air have became infected. We have little or no bandage, the same goes for medication to cure these ill looking ulcers. There are rumors of movement in the air.
25 December 1944: We have been reunited with the remainder of the group which we now find was in Cine Building in San Fernando. Yesterday morning we were led up in the prison court yard and marched in a column of fours after having received a meager meal at the railroad station in San Fernando. Our boys certainly gave this place a working over. The railway yard is in shambles and many disabled cars and locomotives are in evidence. About noon we were placed on board steel freight cars. One hundred ninety three men were placed in each car. As this is a small narrow gauge railroad, there was not room for all of the men to be seated at one time. Our sick and wounded were placed on top of the cars in the boiling midday heat and lashed there to keep them from failing off with ropes. The Japs insisted that they would be more comfortable, but I feel it is also in an attempt to prevent the train being bombed or strafed by our men. We should be very thankful for them. For had it not been for the many bullet holes in the car, surely more of our men would have died from suffocation during the awful trip to San Fernando, La Union. Of course, there was no food or water and several times when the train stopped and the Philippines made an effort to give us food or water, they were chased away by the Japanese guard. After being on the train from about noon on the 24th until 2:00 AM this morning, we were unloaded on the station platform at San Fernando, La Union where we were allowed to remain until daybreak. We were then marched through the town of San Fernando out on the outskirts to a small Philippine school house where we were fed one rice ball in the morning and one just before dark. We were issued about one fourth of a canteen cup of water per man, and after being what we supposed settled down for the night, we were gotten up after dark and marched about three and one half or four miles to the beach where we are to sleep.
26 December 1944: At about 4:00 AM we were awakened and an issue of rice balls was made. Of the entire detail, I imagine that about only about 800 men received any food at all. The remainder just didn't get any, as there wasn't enough to go around. The Japanese allowed us to bathe in the ocean which was taken advantage of by all concerned. This afternoon, after lying in the boiling sun all day, we were given a small amount of water. Everyone is so thirsty that what little water is given is immediately consumed. What little has been in my canteen is always long gone to some man with fever before any additional is issued. It is pitiful to see a man in this heat with a high fever without water.
27 December 1944: We were waked very early this morning, long before daybreak, and marched about a quarter of a mile to a pier where we were forced to jump about 20 feet into Jap Landing Boats which were riding heavy swells in Lingayen Gulf. We were then taken and placed on a Japanese transport, about 1000 men on 1 ship [Enoura Maru], whose name I have not been able to ascertain, and about 250 on another. We were in the center hold [see ship diagram of Enoura Maru], half of us on the upper deck of the hold and the remainder in the lower hold. It wasn't too crowded and as the hatch is very large the air is not too bad. Unfortunately, the upper deck on which my detail has been placed was used for the transportation of horses and the Japanese in their usual custom didn't bother or would not allow us to remove any of the refuse which remained in this vessel's hold, after evidently a long trip. The flies are terrible. I will say, that shortly after we came aboard, we were fed probably the best food we have had since we left Cabanatuan. Although the quantity is quite small, it is well cooked and seasoned. About 4 ounces of tea or soup is all of the liquid we are allowed. We were fed again late in the afternoon immediately after the vessels got under way.
31 December 1944: Rumor has it that we have arrived in Takao in the harbor of Formosa. I am confident that we are going north, as it has become much colder and although we are quite crowded, some of the men are beginning to suffer from the cold. We have been fed quite regularly although the food has been far from adequate particularly the liquid contents. In the absence of anyone else in the senior grades who was either not well enough or didn't care to assume the responsibility, I have organized the hold and have endeavored to see that the food and water is properly distributed to all. Dysentery is on the increase, which I understand from our medical authorities is quite common. Never once have the Japanese, even though we protested severely, supplied us with enough buckets to meet our sanitary requirements and although every effort is made to keep things as clean as possible, the ship is in a very unsanitary condition.
5 January 1945: It has been definitely established that we are in the harbor of Takao in Formosa, and have been since our arrival on 31 December. The Japanese are evidently celebrating the New Year for we have seen little or nothing of them in the last five days. Fortunately, we have been able to remove some of the refuse and clean up the hold somewhat. Our food remains about the same. The shortage of liquids is extremely hard on our sick men, and we have had quite a few casualties in the last five days. Colonel Beecher, our Senior Officer, has not been at all well, and a great deal of the load of the administration of the men has fallen to me. The weather has turned quite cool and with our scanty clothing it is very difficult to keep warm. The sanitary conditions still remain quite critical and it is only through constant protestation that the Japanese allow us to empty the refuse daily. If this is not done the conditions are beyond description.
6 January: A small detail which was loaded on a different vessel when we left the Philippines, has been brought aboard this ship. We now have approximately 1,300 men who are all in this, the #2 hold, but we are separated on 2 levels; the count is approximately the same.
The food when it is given to us is all delivered on this, the upper deck of the hold, where we divide it and send the share of the men in the lower hold down to them. The shortage of containers is very critical. The Japanese demand that we immediately empty the rice and return the container to be filled again. This is extremely difficult, the flies are a terrible problem and we have absolutely no place where the rice can be divided equally among the men. Major Ridgely, of the Marine Corps, is in charge and is doing a wonderful job.
8 January: Thirty-four Dutch and British prisoners were today removed from the ship, and about five hundred of our people mostly from the lower level were moved and placed in the #1 or forward hold of this vessel. This sounds like a simple operation but, as our men are so weak from exposure and lack of food, it has taken nearly the entire day to accomplish this move. After the men were brought up from the lower hold the Japanese began to load unrefined sugar into the lower hold.
This has created quite a problem for our men who, of course, are near starvation cannot resist the temptation to steal the sugar. The Japanese unfortunately saw someone in the lower part of the hold and have told us if the guilty men are not immediately delivered to them, we will receive no more food.
This crisis was met by two extremely brave men who volunteered to admit that they had been stealing sugar. It makes one extremely proud that our men react so well under these horrible conditions. The two men were taken before the Japanese commander, and I will say, got off quite well. They were severely reprimanded and slapped around a little bit, sent below and told not to do it again.
We have now become better organized and send one man from each group down in the lower hold to get sugar for the people in his immediate group. We are, of course, extremely careful to see that they are not discovered.
11 January: On the morning of 9 January at about 9:00 AM, we were again brought under air attack. We had just received and were in the act of distributing the food for the first meal of the day when the alert sirens were blown and the ship with the tanker which was lying next to her were heavily attacked by our Air Force. First with strafing, followed immediately by bombing. The vessel suffered two direct hits astern, immediately followed by a direct hit on the corner of the hatch immediately above me, and another one in the vicinity of the hatch in the forward hold. The bomb which landed directly above us, blew all of the heavy hatch covering down into the hold and many of our men were killed and injured as a result.
I believe that most disastrous was the near miss just off of the port bow as it blew hundreds of pieces not only through the side of the ship, but also through the bulkhead which separated our hold from the forward hold.
I was sitting with my back against this bulkhead when the attack came. Colonel Babcock who was on my right, and Lt. Roberts who was on my left, were hit. Roberts was decapitated and Babcock quite badly wounded in the chest. Further to my right where the medical officers were assembled up against the side of the ship, the casualties were very heavy.
Our losses in the second or mid-ship hold were in no way as severe as in the forward hold. Through the holes in the bulkhead it was possible for us to look into the forward hold. The carnage was terrific! One side of the ship was quite badly caved in, and the plates making up the floor were severely buckled. In addition, there were hundreds upon hundreds of plates in the ship and fragments which broke off during the bombing, causing tremendous casualties.
I estimated at least between 275 and 300 were killed outright, and about 250 wounded. The concussion was so bad that the men who were serving the meal on the hatch which separated the lower and upper levels of the hold in which we were in, were all blown off and dropped about 25 or 30 feet to the floor of the lower hold. Sea water was blown in great quantities through the upper hatch. After things quieted down a little, I undertook to trying to clean up as best I could. Captain Webb, from the Oklahoma Agriculture College was one of my main stays. I organized a detail of men who were considered well and we placed all of the bodies of those that were killed to one side. With no medication, the problem of the wounded was extremely serious. Many died that night.
On the afternoon of the 10th the Japanese medical authorities came on board. There were no commissioned officers present. The only medication that they provided was a limited supply of gauze and absorbent cotton and a red solution which I took to be mercurochrome. This, of course, was terribly inadequate as many of our men were severely wounded, many had suffered not only fractures, but compound fractures.
On the morning of the 10th of January, the survivors of the forward hold were brought back into our hold and we were all placed on the upper level. With the casualties which we have suffered we are certainly now less than eight hundred men. This morning the Japanese called for a detail to move the bodies of our dead. I have been told by the men who were on it, that the bodies were loaded on a barge, taken to the Japanese Cemetery and cremated where the remains were interred.
It is still extremely cold, and we are torn with the problem of freezing or getting the Japanese to close the hatch cover which makes the air extremely bad.
14 January: We have been moved from the ship and placed upon another [Brazil Maru]. This ship, I understand, from the men who were separated from us when we left the Philippines, was the one which brought them to Formosa. She is very old, and quite dirty. We have all been placed on the forward part of the vessel in the #2 hold [see ship diagram of Brazil Maru]. It is extremely crowded and very dark. Colonel Beecher and myself, and the other senior officers including the medical officers are just in rear of #1 hatch behind us and extending past the #2 hatch are the conventional wooden platforms which the Japanese have placed in their holds for their men to sleep on. We are so crowded that it is necessary for our men to lie on the hatch covers under the #2 hatch, i.e., the hatch covers leading below decks. It is here where we have put our sickest men and we have organized some volunteers to try to give them what little care we can.
We are again faced with the serious problem of sanitation. Colonel Beecher remains still quite sick and I have had to organize the entire force. H. K. Johnson I have appointed as my Executive and we have broken the hold down into sections with a field officer in charge of each hatch.
We have appointed a commander who is responsible that the rice and what little water we get is equally distributed between the men.
We got underway immediately and hope and pray that our trip to Japan will not be too long. We have been told that we will be fed twice a day. The food so far has consisted of cooked rice with a little bean paste, about a spoonful for each man and about a quarter of a cup of water, so called tea, twice a day.
24 January: We have been underway about 10 days. Evidently the Japanese are extremely worried about the submarine menace for it appears from what we can hear, we are never allowed to go on deck, that the vessel is in convoy during the day and lies through the night in some small harbor in an effort to dodge our submarines.
On several occasions the ship's guns have been fired and we have heard explosions in the distance. Our casualties have been very severe. Each morning, I would estimate that the bodies of 20 and 30 men are carried and placed on the upper deck. We hold services for those who died each day that night. Babcock who is beside me is very weak and all of us are suffering severely from the cold. Johnson bartered his ring to one of the Japanese guards, and in return we got one of the straw mats which the Japanese are issued to sleep on. By splitting it in two we now have enough to cover about 4 of us at night when it becomes very cold the wind blowing in the hatch which is just above us. We are also faced with the same problems with reference to sugar, but this time, profiting by our past experiences, we are well organized. Certain men are detailed each night to go below and bring up sufficient sugar and to give everyone a good supply for the day. I am sure that this will save the lives of many of our men, for when one is cold, a tablespoonful of raw sugar is a great help.
I have been called upon twice to call the role which is a very difficult task and takes nearly all afternoon. This old boat has sailed with a very severe list. This makes it tremendously uncomfortable to sleep or even to lie down which one must do to keep warm.
All of us have developed terrible sores on our sides as we are so thin that where we lie on the steel decks becomes very painful.
Colonel Babcock died last night. From our meager supply of medicines I had been able to obtain for him some pheno-barbitol which on several occasions had made him restless during the night. At about 4:00 AM, he appeared to have become quite restless. I supposed that it was due to either the sedative or the fact that he was getting cold. I attempted to quiet him and pull the grass mat over him in an attempt to keep him warm. He soon quieted down, but later I realized that he was dead. This was proven by the medical authorities at daybreak.
Our ration remains about the same. Sometimes cooked seaweed is substituted for the bean paste. The ration is so small that it makes very little difference. Unfortunately, our water supply seems to be falling off, for although it is issued twice a day the number of buckets that we get are falling off. In addition, the water is frequently quite salty. Protestations to the Japanese have simply resulted in indignities to the officers protesting.
It is now quite cold. The upper deck is partially covered with ice and snow, and the cold raw wind interspersed by snow greets you when you go on deck. Part of the sanitary facilities which are provided consist of an oblong wooden box which is hung over the side of the ship. It is necessary to climb over the rail and down into the box to use it. This is extremely difficult for our men in a weakened condition. However, a bit of fresh air is worth the risk of falling overboard.
Today, I noticed some Japanese aircraft flying above the convoy, we must be approaching Japan.
29 January: We have arrived according to the guards in Moji on the island of Kyushu. This morning we were told that every man must appear on deck for a physical examination. The weather continues very cold. We had great difficulty in getting our sick and weakened men on deck. This was a terrible hardship for us all for we were required to stand on deck in the freezing weather with practically no clothes. Many of our men with no shoes, while we were given a very cursory medical examination by the Japanese. We were told that clothing would be issued in the morning.
Late this afternoon, a detail of Japanese women came on board and removed the hatch cover from the deck and also the cover directly below it on the deck where we were quartered and began to unload the sugar that we knew was in the hold below. Many of the sacks as we know were broken and we feared a repercussion from the Japanese, however, none materialized. Great haste was made in unloading the vessel. I imagine from fear of bombing.
30 January: Very early this morning without any food we were told to go to the upper deck and like all Japanese orders it must be done immediately. Many of our men were so weak and ill that they had to be carried and were unable to stand alone. We were issued some Japanese uniforms but no head coverings. General issue consisted of a pair of long cotton underdrawers, a cotton Khaki shirt, a pair of Japanese soldier's trousers and jacket. No gloves, and in many instances, no footwear was available. Some shoes of either British or Australian make and some low cut Japanese rubber and canvas shoes were issued. Fortunately, I still retained the pair which I had salvaged from the Oryoku Maru. Immediately afterwards, we were disembarked. This process consisted of marching off of the boat in single file where we were sprayed by a disinfectant all over by a Japanese soldier and then marched to what was apparently an old shed which for some reason contained a theater. Shortly after our arrival there, we were told that some of us would have to return to the vessel to carry those who had been unable to walk. In an effort to inspire the men I with Colonel Johnson led the first detail back to the vessel. By this time the weather had cleared slightly and the sun shone for a few minutes giving us a welcome warmth for the shed in which we were quartered had a concrete floor and absolutely no heat.
Those who were too ill or too weak to walk were carried back to the shed in pieces of old sacks and laid on the concrete floor. We were then divided into four groups. One I understand from an interpreter was to go to a Japanese Military Hospital; the other three were to be distributed to prison camps on Kyushu. At about 2:30 or 3:00 PM, we were given what I learned from Englehardt to be what is generally known in Japanese as Binto Boxes. They consist of two boxes made of very thin wood, one a quite small box, and the other about the size of our one pound candy boxes. In the small box we found small pieces of pickled fish, squab, the conventional salted radishes and other vegetables of which the Japanese are so fond. In the other was I imagine 3/4 pound of cooked rice which I understand is the normal trips ration in Japan and is usually served in a station where the train stops at meal time.
I will say that although these boxes were not hot they were so much better than any of the food our men had in months. A little later Lt. Tachino who was in charge of our detail asked for some men to return to the ship to get our breakfast which of course by this time was stone cold. Nevertheless, most of it was eaten in addition to the other meal, by our men.
Late in the afternoon 3 Japanese ambulances charcoal fueled arrived and took off our most seriously weak and sick.
Just as it became dusk the detail into which I had fallen which numbered 193 men was ordered to assemble in columns of four. We marched through the town about one half mile supporting those who were unable to walk and were placed upon passenger cars and immediately left the station. The train was lighted and after a rather enjoyable ride as the train was heated, we disembarked at a station platform where a tremendous bonfire had been built by a detail of British and Canadian soldiers who had been sent to meet us. The welcome was very warm, particularly as each of us at this time was issued a British or Australian overcoat. One truck was available to carry us to camp and we sat around the fire and kept warm as it made the several trips necessary to get us into the camp. When my turn arrived we rode for about one half hour through a blackened out industrial area and arrived at camp I imagine about 8:30 or 9:00 PM. For each prisoner there had been delegated by the British Senior Officer someone to look after him. I was assisted or rather half carried to a long low building consisting of thin hoard walls which were dug into the ground about 4 feet leaving about 2 feet of wall exposed above the ground level and a peaked roof covered with tar paper. Inside were the conventional shelves about six feet wide covered with matting running the entire length of the building with an aisle of the same width covered with sand separating them. Each prisoner was issued 6 blankets, and we were then fed hot tea with sugar in it and soft rice also with sugar. This was a very invigorating and welcome meal; I immediately rolled up in my six blankets and fell fast asleep.
1 February: We were awakened before daylight and fed hot tea and soft rice porridge and a thin vegetable soup containing soya sauce. I learned from the British soldier in charge that we were in Camp #1 of the Fukuoka District consisting of about one thousand mixed British and Dutch PW that there were about 26 or 28 British officers, the Senior a Lt. Colonel.
During this day, our clothes which we had had on board were taken up and we were issued very fine soft woolen OD shirt of British issue and Japanese uniforms, however, we were only allowed to have one suit of underwear. Just how we are going to wash it is another problem. We also have been ordered to have our heads and faces shaved. A British non-commissioned officer with an old fashioned razor and cold water performed the operation on me. I must have been a horrible sight when I arrived in the camp the night before. Fortunately, there were no mirrors, for some of us would probably die of fright if we could see our condition.
It is particularly cold and damp in the huts and equally as cold outside. In an effort to break the chill, one of the British non-coms brought in a small metal bucket with holes in which was burning a charcoal fire. His efforts with green wood to increase the heat only caused the shack to be collected in a heavy pall of smoke. I learned from the British non-com that they get one Red Cress food package to be divided among two people about once a month. There are rumors that we also will receive some Red Cross food.
13 February 1945: We have now been here for nearly four days. Last night we were given an opportunity to take a bath for the first time since leaving the Philippines. I was amazed at the emaciation of not only myself, but all our men. We were literally skin and bone. All of us without exception are suffering from ulcers which are the result of our trip on the transports. Every man without exception has large sores on his hip bones which were occasioned by lying on the steel plates of the vessels.
We have been placed in three huts or barracks and so far have not been required to work. There are few if any of us who are capable of getting up and getting around. So far what little has been done for us has been done by the British non-coms.
There are two doctors in the camp, one an American and one belonging to the Dutch Army. The tragedy is the lack of medication. There just seems to be none in any of the Japanese camps. I believe that at least three fourths of our men are suffering from acute diarrhea which is a result of malnutrition. Several have already contracted pneumonia from the cold. Two have died since we arrived.
Last night just after the evening meal Colonel Englehardt one of the officers who is capable of speaking Japanese, came to the door of our barracks and told us that we were to be issued a small amount of Red Cross food. We have been given one Red Cross box from which all the canned meat and fish have been removed. One box was given for three prisoners. When I inquired as to the reason for the removal of the canned meat and fish I was told that it had been done upon the order of the Camp Commander and that it was customary in this camp for all Red Cross packages to be treated in this manner. Later, according to my informant, we will receive corned beef and the canned salmon as a part of the ration issued to us by the Japanese.
Our bath is, I believe, common to all in Japan; a series of four wooden tubs with concrete floors which are heated from below. Each group of persons is given a certain amount of time. You enter the bath and first wash with soap and water from light wooden buckets dipping the water out of the large tubs. After you are satisfied with your cleanliness, you are then allowed to get into the large tub and step in the hot water. Last night was the first time I had been warm since arriving in Japan. I can see now why the Japanese think this method of bathing is so good. It is the only way they ever get warm in the winter.
7 February 1945: The non-commissioned officers of the British and Dutch Army who have been assisting in the care of our men have been withdrawn and we have been told that from now on we will have to take care of our own. This puts a very severe strain on our weakened men. We have so many who are unable to care for themselves that the burden which is placed on the remainder, I am afraid, will cause them to become sick themselves. It is necessary that we keep someone on duty during the entire 24 hours as the majority of our men are in such bad condition. We have also been required to wash all of the clothes of the men who had died and those who are unable to perform this task for themselves. The facilities are practically none. Cold water and no soap. We have also been required to furnish our own food details. It takes about six men to carry the food for each hut; this usually consists of a large wooden box of hot rice with about 40% millet and a couple of buckets of vegetable soup. We have been furnished two bowls by the Japanese from which to eat. A small one for the soup and a large one for our rice. We have also been informed by the authorities that we can send a message setting forth our safe arrival in Japan. The price is pretty steep, amounting to about $10 in American money. It is fortunate that I have a few Philippine pesos which the Japanese have changed to yen which enables me to send a message home.
15 February 1945: Many changes have taken place since my last entry. The so called three sick barracks have been broken up. All of us have been considered well enough by the Japanese doctor and that means those who are able to get up and dress themselves have been placed in two barracks at the far end of the camp which recently have been constructed. We have been required to take over the cleaning of this area and of two additional barracks in which the British and Dutch Prisoners are kept who are currently disabled. This also includes taking care of the sanitary facilities. As for myself, I have drawn the job of policing the latrines. I have as my assistant a young Air Force officer from Texas. As is the Japanese custom nothing is provided, the only possible way that we can attain any cleanliness at all is by scrubbing the floors of these buildings, there were no seats, with sand, which is abundant, and with an old brick. After this, we sprinkle a light dry sand in an effort to absorb the moisture which is finally swept out with a broom of our own making as the Japanese supplied none. There are three of these buildings which serve about 250 men for which we are responsible.
Several of the senior officers were called, taken to the small building in which the interpreter lives and subject to about a four-hour questioning by a Japanese Staff Officer from the District Headquarters.
It is evident by his questioning that news of the treatment which we received in the Philippines has now become world wide news, for he is very anxious to get our reaction as to how we felt we had been treated. He also seemed to be tremendously interested as to whether it would be possible for us to maintain our supply lines when the final attack upon the Japanese mainland takes place. He even cited as an instance Napoleon's failure to maintain his supply lines during his attack on Russia and his retreat from Moscow.
He put the direct question to us would we say that we would be able to maintain our supply lines if we ever were successful in attacking the Japanese Mainland. I should think that the answer is quite evident as the B-29's are daily over this island and I imagine the entire Mainland of the Japs.
It still remains quite cold. It is very difficult for us to get around in our weakened condition with the clothes that we put on to try to keep us warm. The food is still on about the same level. We get something above the usual vegetable soup I should say about once or twice a week, a small amount of fish in our soup or on rare occasions a boiled squab which is divided between two prisoners. We have inquired as to why like the other prisoners we didn't receive any Red Cross food other than the meal we received after our arrival. We have been told that this food had been put aside for the British and Dutch prisoners and that there was none for us. We receive an issue of cigarettes once a week which gives us a total of about three cigarettes a day. I have met and become friendly with a very nice boy from Tacoma, Washington, a civilian who was picked up on Wake Island. He was working for the contractors there when the war broke out. Through him I am making an effort to obtain some additional money from the British officers as it is common knowledge that they are well supplied with Japanese yen, having been here for about three years.
25 February: Through the efforts of my friend, Franklin, I have made contact with two British officers from whom I have been able to obtain some funds. The rate of exchange is exceedingly high as the British demand two American dollars for one Japanese yen. This, of course, is usury. I have obtained a total of one hundred yen which has cost me two hundred dollars. 50 of this I have given to Major Marshall Hurt.
We have been able to purchase some of the Japanese B-1 tablets which are simply concentrated yeast tablets; however, the doctor advises us that they are beneficial and we should do everything that we can to preserve our health. There is also available small quantities of bean paste. In my own mind, I sometimes wonder if it is worthwhile to buy these foods on the black market, for I am highly suspicious that both the food and the cigarettes which are available on the black market are stolen by the British who work in the mess and are sold to us at these exorbitant prices. We, therefore, simply get a reduction on the amount of food and tobacco issued.
We have had one rather major tragedy. A major of the Veterinary Corps and an EM of the Medical Corps were discovered during the morning hours eating a dried squid which they undoubtedly had purchased on the black market. They were immediately taken by the Japanese Commandant where they were very roughly handled. His favorite method of chastisement is to beat around the legs and hips with a heavy bamboo pole. After this treatment they were confined to the Japanese guardhouse or prison. The Japanese are ingenious in making people uncomfortable. The prisons consist of small box-like inclosures where it is neither possible to stand up nor lie down in comfort. In addition, these box-like cells are quite open to the weather and as the men while incarcerated are only allowed one blanket they suffer severely from cold and exposure. They are also allowed only one half of our meager ration. Both of these men were confined for four days and were in very bad shape when they were released. The Veterinary Officer was suffering from frozen feet, while the Corps man came down in about three days with pneumonia, but he is part Indian from New Mexico and I am sure that he will pull through.
We have been segregated again. Unfortunately, I myself am not feeling too well, I believe the result of over-eating, as I purchased some extra rice from some of the British non-coms. Where they get rice to replace it I don't know.
I have been placed in what is known as the "Sick Barracks" next to the sergeant with pneumonia. As Senior Officer I am responsible for the barracks. I have been placed on soft rice again, and I am quite sure that it is easier for me to digest as it doesn't include as does the normal ration, a large portion of millet which is hard to digest. The quantity is not as great, but as I only get up once in the morning and once in the afternoon, I believe that I am better off. There are rumors that we, the men in the "Sick Barracks" are to receive instead of rice ration at noon, a small loaf of bread.
Several times lately we have been required even at night to leave our huts and go to the air raid shelters. The shelters themselves are extremely crude affairs dug down into the ground about four feet and penetrate about two feet above ground they are lined with bamboo and covered with sand.
During one of the raids, I was sitting next to a Dutch boy who was very much concerned that the shelter due to the concussion of the bombs falling in the nearby city would collapse. I told him we should have no fear for if the shelter would collapse ha would find that he would then be standing amidst a little broken bamboo, and about six inches of sand as the top of the shelters are only covered to that depth.
We have also been required to get weighed once a week. This in itself is an ordeal. We go by small groups to the Japanese Medical hut, which like all other huts in the camp is absolutely without heat, where we stand around waiting to be weighed with only our shoes on in the bitter cold. I have gained very slightly since the last weighing, somewhere in the vicinity of a pound. I now weigh 43 and 7/10 kilos or a little better than 96 pounds. Some of the British officers who worked in the Japanese Headquarters in the nearest town have been able to sneak into camp some Japanese newspapers so we are not entirely devoid of news. The war in Europe is certainly going well after our set-back in the Bulge. As far as this theater is concerned, I am confident that we are doing better than the Japanese admit.
From my friends who drop in to see me who are in the "Well Barracks" I find that the Japanese have made absolutely no difference between the work required by our officers and men. The lowliest and most menial work is performed even by our most senior officers such as fertilizing the garden, cleaning out the latrines, etc.
The hours are quite long, the exact length we are not able to determine for no one now has any means of recording time. We are awakened before dawn and hold morning roll call as soon as it is light enough for the Japanese to see us.
We return immediately to our huts for breakfast and then go to work. There is a short break allowed in the mid morning where the workers are allowed to go inside the huts and smoke. Peculiar, here they allow no smoking outside. Everywhere else I have been they allowed no smoking inside. I believe we get about one half hour for the noon meal, a short break in mid afternoon and it is dark when our men are recalled from work. The evening meal is always after it is quite dark. The camp is quite heavily blacked out even to the two lights which are left on at night in the huts. Sentries are continually checking to see that black out instructions are followed. I have just been notified that Marshall Hurt of whom I am so fond died yesterday. He was a fine officer. I have his few remaining personal possessions which I will attempt to get back to his next of kin.
Our death toll has been quite high, we have lost more than 50 of the original group that arrived in this camp.
10 March: Things continue about the same. I had a visit yesterday from my civilian friend Franklin who was picked up by the Japanese on Wake Island. He is recovering from a severe beating with a bamboo pole administered by the Camp Commander. He was suspected of having stolen some Japanese canned rations from a cave where his working party have been storing them, I suppose against our forthcoming attack on Japan. It appears as though Franklin and one of the other prisoners were discovered near a broken box of rations and although upon being searched none were found on him, the Japanese immediately assumed that they had broken into the case and stolen some of the cans. With the usual lack of trial he was brought up before the Camp Commander and severely beaten around the back and legs with a bamboo pole. The severity of the beating he received can be judged by the fact that he had a cake of Red Cross soap in his hip pocket which after the beating was reduced to fine powder.
He was placed in the Japanese guardhouse for three days on half rations, but as the weather has improved he fortunately did not suffer from the cold. Of course, he is terribly stiff and sore, but is able to get about.
With the advent of warmer weather our death rate has fallen off somewhat. The rations remain about the same. One of the other barracks in which some of our sicker men have been placed the ration has been changed so that the men receive a small loaf of bread at the noon day meal. It is not much larger than an ordinary hamburger bun, but it is considerable more in weight, due to the fact that the quality of flour is very poor and it is heavily diluted with soya bean flour giving the bread a very dark appearance and making it taste very sour.
I have not been at all well and have had to give up working. Evidently the coarse millet in the rice ration does not agree with me for I find that it produces terrific stomach up-sets. The Dutch doctor has recommended that I be again placed on the soft rice ration.
The camp is now entirely blacked out at night with only one black out lamp left burning in the center of the barracks. We are constantly being called to the air raid shelter. The B-29 activity is evidently increasing. We have received no further Red Cross food. The cigarette ration has disappeared.
I cashed another check for $400, for which I received from the British sergeant Major 200 yen. 100 of this I gave to one of our American medical non-coms who is in pretty bad shape.
Our schedule of work remains from dawn until dusk. We work for 15 days and then are allowed one day of rest. There are rumors in the air that we are to be transferred to another camp. Only the officers including some of the British Officers rumor has it are to leave.
March 25: Persistent rumors again indicate that we are to be moved to another camp. However, we have received no instructions so far. Considerably more substitute for rice is issued in the ration. In fact it is hard to find any rice in the ration at all.
24 April: Things have changed very little in the last month except possibly for the condition of our men. With the advent of the warmer weather our sick list has gone down, and although the food has remained practically the same a general overall improvement seems to be shown.
The persistent rumors that we are to be moved have finally materialized. All of the American POW's and ten of the British officers (senior) have been told that they will leave camp shortly and to be prepared. I was surprised this morning to find out that some of the other officers who had arrived in Japan with us and had been sent to another camp were in a barracks at the lower end of this camp. We were prohibited by the Japanese from speaking to them. However, by watching my step, I was able to talk to Wilson and Tarpley, both old friend of mine from the Philippine Campaign who had been in the camp there with me the entire time.
They both looked well and from their accounts they had fared better than we. Their general treatment and the food that they had received was much superior to ours.
26 April: We have been told that we will leave camp immediately after lunch today. All of the clothing and the uniform which we have received since we arrived here have had to be turned in. We have nothing left except the clothing which was issued to us when we disembarked to Moji. I am fortunate enough to be able to get a little extra underwear, and Franklin Burns of whom I spoke previously in this Diary, gave me a short woolen jacket. So I am not entirely devoid of clothing. He also gave me an old white hat which is the only thing I have for head cover. However, I am more fortunate than some of my associates, for they have none. I have collected what few articles I have, and have placed them in an old Red Cross food carton. These are my sole belongings.
30 April: We have arrived at a new camp in Jinsen, Korea. The trip, for one exception, has been so comfortable and the food has been so good that I am sure that the Japanese have come to the realization that they are losing the war.
We were marched from our camp down the main concrete highway about three miles to the town of Fukuoka where we were loaded on a Japanese vessel which from all that we can gather although the Japanese will tell us nothing, is a fast ferry which runs between the islands of Japan and the mainland of Asia. Our group, with that of the British, were placed on board in what we believe are the second class accommodations; a clean well kept large room with the conventional matting on which the Japanese sleep.
We were given two of the small wooden boxes containing food and told that that was to be our breakfast as we were supposed to have had our supper before leaving camp. Of course, everyone immediately ate the food.
We were just about settled for the night, the lights having been dimmed when the air alert sounded, and we were all hurried off the boat and told to remain on the pier and that we would be told when to get aboard the ship again.
According to the usual Japanese custom we were alerted several times during the night but it was beginning to get light when we were finally told to get aboard the ship again. It was very cold and we all suffered tremendously. We all finally decided that we were not going to be put on the boat, so we huddled close together on the concrete pier in an effort to keep warm.
Upon being reimbarked we were placed in another cabin very similar to the one the night before, not too crowded and with plenty of ventilation where we all promptly went to sleep.
I was awakened about noon and told that we would be fed. This time a fish stew and dried rice. Better food than we have ever had before. I was able to go and look out of the port-hole, the vessel is quite fast, I estimate about 21 knots and we are now cruising through a beautiful blue sea with many small rocky islands on the side from which I am looking.
State of Maryland)
City of Baltimore)
I, Arthur L. Shreve, of lawful age, being duly sworn on oath, state that the foregoing is an accurate and true transcript, consisting of twenty-one (21) pages, of the diary kept by me from 13 December 1944 to 10 August 1945 while a prisoner of war of the Japanese.
Subscribed and sworn to before me this 16th day of January 1948 at Baltimore, Maryland.