As I have said before, I had three close friends who were survivors of the Bataan Death March and each had stories I have kept. The following are from George Doug Idlett of Virginia all from March and April of 1993. I looked up the note you mentioned, the one from Zane, but I am sorry to say the name does not ring a bell with me. Of course I do remember the name "Tacloban", but I have no memory of any prison camp there, nor have I heard of the book he mentions. I do not mean to question the existence of the "Hotel Tacloban", I am sure there are many work detail camps that I do not remember, there were many of them, as you know. Do you know of this camp? If so, enlighten me. Up to this point, most of our experiences have been pretty much similar, except for details. You had a much worse trip to Japan than I, as I went to Japan a year earlier than you. I left Manila on about Sept. 15, 1943, about the same conditions as you describe, except we did not get sunk. We landed in Moji City, the same as you. At this point the story begins to be different. I also was put on a train, but was taken to Niigata City about 200 miles north of Tokyo, on the Sea of Japan side of Honshu. This was about the middle of Oct. 1943. Our reception and living conditions were quite different from those you describe. As you can imagine it was quite cold in that area. Our first winter we had approx 13 feet of snow. We were fresh from the tropics also, but we were given no new clothes, had one bath in a Japanese style bathhouse shortly after arriving in Niigata. Then were housed in a temporary building of some sort, also no heat, along with some Canadians, British, Dutch and Javanese who had been taken at Hong Kong. The only water was a pump outside the building, and one outhouse. This was for approximately 600 men. We had about thirty to forty men per room.Fortunately, we only stayed in this place for about a month, and then were moved to what was to become our permanent home. We had no rooms, the buildings were what might be called two story, with no windows, no heat, one light bulb, no water, and the toilets were outside, with no seats, Japanese style, just a hole in the floor. There were four of these barracks for about 660 of us. Inside were two levels or platforms of wood, the first level was about the height of a bed above the dirt floor, no other floor, the next level was about 4 feet above the first level, and a space or passage way ran the full length of the building. We had no bed as such. Each man was issued a blanket, and a rice husk pillow. There were no separate rooms. We also had no water supply, and no kitchen. What water we had was brought in buckets by ox cart. Our food was delivered the same way, what there was of it. We received a bowl of some kind of grain, either millet, barley, maize, or anything else that was available that the Japanese didn't like. A bowl of rice occasionally, was like a bowl of ice cream, a real treat. In addition to the boiled grain, (no salt) there was either a slice of daikon (radish) pickled in brine, or a bowl of hot water with a leaf or two floating in it (soup). We had no bath house, for several months we had to wash when we could, in the bay, or with a cup of water. We were told by Japanese Commander when we arrived that we were there to work or die, unfortunately before the winter was over, over a hundred men did both. I am all wound up it seems. I will have to send another note to finish this. Geo. I forgot to mention that our bed was a wooden platform, covered with rice straw. We were divided into two groups, one worked in a foundry, the other worked at the docks, unloading coal ships from Manchuria and reloading it into railroad cars by several means. One was as elevated track with small dump cars, each holding about 1/2 ton of coal, which were loaded by a conveyor from the hold of the ships. One man, one car, to be pushed around the track to a point where it could be dumped into a waiting train of gondola cars. If a train was not available, the coal was dumped on the ground, and later loaded by us using what we called a yaho pole. I do not know the real name. I am sure you have seen them, two baskets hung from a long pole that you placed on your shoulder, then carried the whole thing up planks to the top of the railroad car and dumped in the car. This was considered the worst detail in the camp, due to the heavy work, all outside, every day, regardless of the weather. As you have probably guessed, that was the one I was [/FONT][/SIZE]assigned to permanently. The baskets weighed up to 200 lbs. As time went by, conditions did improve, a little. We did get a bath house after several months, but nothing like yours, Ray. Ours was a wooden tub, about 10 x 12 feet, the same scalding water though. We worked 7 days a week in the coal dust, (2 days off each month) and were allowed to have one bath per month. After all 600+ of us had bathed, we then washed our clothes in the same water. It was a little thick by then. Oh yes, we did eventually get an issue of clothes, but quite different than yours. I received a used Japanese uniform, including Overcoat, and a pair of leather shoes (pigskin), no hat. I had an old PI Coconut fiber helmet which I wore winter and summer, mainly to help absorb the blows from the guards clubs they carried. The clothes helped a lot, I did make one (?)mistake that winter. We were allowed to warm ourselves around the open firepot the guards carried, at the two breaks we got each day. I managed to scorch one of my shoes trying to warm my feet, and the guard saw it and I was not allowed to wear my shoes at work for two months, this was in the snow. I wore some wooden clogs that I made in the Philippines, did have socks, but it was a wee bit cold. This happened to so many other men, that finally the Japanese brought in boots made of woven rice straw, and we were made to change into the straw boots every morning when we arrived at work. We walked about two miles to the docks each day. The boots of straw were fine, til they got wet. We had no camp organization such as you describe, Ray. We had two officers, one an American, the other a British Doctor. Incidentally, the hospital was the same as the barracks I described. I was put there for two months the second Winter, and as a non-worker, only received half rations. It too, Ray, was considered the Death Ward just as the one you were in at Cabanatuan. There is so much more, but I must end this for tonight. The Coal Yard detail was considered the worst detail, in the worst camp in Japan. Our Japanese Commander was tried by the War Crimes Commission, and was hanged. The Newspapers called him the most brutal man in Japan. George Idlett Niigata 5B was one of the more unfortunate camps as I mentioned, and there have been several theories advanced as to why. Probably due to no more than the fact that it was remote, from Tokyo, and received very little supervision from anyone of authority. We all blamed it on the premise that all of our guards, and camp commanders were untreatable psychotic patients, specially selected from various mental hospitals. One book has been written which concerns our camp. It is titled "Guest of Hirohito". It was written by Kenneth Cambon, M.D., a Canadian who was there in 5B. It was publlished in Vancouver, B.C., but is now out of print. I was told of the book by an old friend, from my Sq., Fran Agnes, a PNC of the American Ex-POW Organization. His wife found my name listed in some records sent to them by the British Physician I mentioned in the previous post, a Dr. Stewart. I wrote to Dr. Cambron, and received a copy of the book from his son with a note that it was no longer available, but he had found a copy for me. It tells the story of Niigata in much more detail than I can hope to tell on this BB. Ray mentioned his stomach problems, so will give you a little of my troubles. I guess the most spectacular thing that happened to me in Niigata, was managing to fall off the elevated rail trestle that I mentioned in the previous post. The dump cars we pushed were very hard to push, especially around the corners. The trestle was approx 30 ft. high, and had no safety railing, etc., had two boards between the rails to walk on. Eventually several of us missed a step and fell. I fell one day, turned a complete flip, and landed on my back. I was partially paralyzed for a few hours, but at the end of the day, I was forced to walk the two miles to the Camp, with the help of a couple of friends. I was given no treatment, but did get two days off work. I went back to work on Light Duty, which consisted of Shoveling coal instead of carrying it. I knew I hurt, but, did not know exactly what had happened until the War was over. An x-ray showed I had suffered a broken vertebrae, and a couple of broken ribs. I also spent two months in the Hosp. with Amoebic Dysentery, but I am running out of space and will tell that story later. Ray, we also had some whale blubber a few times, but didn't get sick. At times, we did have some good meals, one of the best was what we called "Gut Stew". On occasion, a beef animal would be sent to the camp. The guards ate or sold the meat, and we got the entire insides and bones; made stew of lungs, stomach, intestines, etc. Was a real treat. Out of space and, late, will write more later. George Idlett Now I am a little jittery over losing a note, maybe I will write more of them and make them shorter. At this stage of my senility, I probably won't remember what I wrote on the previous page. Ha! Had a little more to say though about our medical facilities, they were non-existent. Our one Medical Dr. could do nothing, any decision of his could be overruled by the lowest ranking Japanese guard. If the guard decided the man was well, he went to work if we had to carry him. Back to the Red Cross Parcels, a friend (not in the hosp.) did give me a few items from his parcel. It soon went, but one day I looked at what I had left, about a spoonful of powdered milk, and a couple of sugar cubes. I had a sudden inspiration, I had used Japanese toothpowder (peppermint flavored) previously to flavor other items, so I decided to make candy to gain a greater volume of food. I mixed the whole can of tooth powder with the milk and sugar and ate it. It <D> near killed me. As I mentioned, I was in this place because I had Amoebic Dysentery. I think the toothpaste set up like concrete. I did not have a B M for over two weeks!! I will spare your delicate sensibilities by not giving further description. Ray, my friend, It happened to me. I have been telling all of you how to not lose your notes, well, for the first time in months, I had just signed the last page of a 6 page note, and it was wiped out by a so-called communication error. So, I will try it again, if I can remember what I said. This note that I am replying to was a complete surprise to me. I had assumed, all these years that all POW camps were similar in most ways. But the medical facilities you describe are almost unbelievable to me. We had the same type of care and facilities that you remember from Cabanatuan. Our Hospital consisted of just another of the dirt-floored, unheated barracks we normally lived in. We had no medicine other than an occasional aspirin or soda. It was just a place to go to die, as Cabanatuan was. Unfortunately, the second winter, they brought in a Japanese doctor who tested us all for the Amoeba, and I turned up positive. In the Hospital we received 1/2 rations, as we did not work. That was a cup of soup twice a day. No medication, except for one shot of Emetine. After about two weeks of this, I was getting so weak that climbing to the second level to my bunk was a great effort. At this point, I decided that if I was to die, I might as well try to take a few chances. So, each night, I would escape over the fence ( this was winter and the snow was almost level with the top of the fence),and make my way to a warehouse nearby. This was relatively safe, as the guards did not venture out too much during this kind of weather, and never looked into the Hosp. At the warehouse, there was stored only pickled Daikons (radishes) and the dried tops hung from the rafters. I would load up all I could carry and go back over the fence at the first opportunity. Spend the rest of the night eating radishes and their dried uncooked tops. Saved my life. But to add insult to injury, this was during Christmas, and the Japanese passed out a Red Cross food parcel, to everyone but the hospital patients. We were told the food would not be good for us. As you know the Parcels were few and far between, we did receive one each Xmas. I think I will end this now and add another reply for one more little story about my Hosp. stay. George Idlett You mentioned the man being killed by exposure, etc. for trying to learn the Japanese language, we had men killed in the same way, but not for that reason. In fact, we were forced to learn some Japanese. I made a special effort, starting in the Philippines, and after I was in Japan, I continued to ask the Guards, and kept a small notebook in which I could write what I learned. It stood me in good stead. After I learned to converse fairly fluently, I was a self appointed interpreter at the job site. Of course, some times it backfired, and I would receive the beating for lying to keep someone else out of trouble. But all in all, it was an advantage to me. At our camp, everyone was made to learn some Japanese, or suffer the consequences. Each morning we were lined up and told to count off. We counted in Japanese as a guard walked down the line. If a man did not know his number, the guard walked back to the beginning of the line as hit each man on the head with his samurai shaped wooden club up to the one who had not said his number correctly. This would continue until the entire group had correctly counted off. This was a very effective teaching method, as everyone tried to teach everyone else. We also were given orders only in Japanese, and did Drill practice on our breaks, with the commands given in Japanese, and also the calisthenics that you mentioned. We did have one man in the camp who found it impossible to learn to count. To save wear and tear on our heads, we finally got smart and taught him one number, the number 4, which is pronounced the same and the english word "she". Then we made sure that he was always 4th in line whenever a count was necessary. I do have more to say concerning your experiences as the war was nearing it's end, but I will run out of space soon and I will probably finish it in a later note. I have previously posted my experiences at the end of the War, which again were different, so this too will be repetition to some. We were never told the war was over, we were almost positive, but never sure until about a week after August 15, when the Emperor made his speech, telling them it was ended. We had not received the bombings as you had, only a few times the docks where I worked were strafed, and the B-29's came over at night and dropped magnetic mines in the harbor. Most of the time they were in the water, one fell in the middle of our camp, and others were scattered around the countryside. I was on a detail to help dig up 2 of them. They were 2000 lb. magnetic mines, so I worried a little (a lot) about the shovels we were using, didn't know what it took to set one off. Niigata was scheduled to receive the Bomb that you saw dropped on Nagasaki. Two passes were made over Niigata that day, and we were clouded over. They had orders to drop the bomb by sight only. As they were about to give up, on the last pass over Nagasaki the clouds opened and they dropped it there. Will have to finish in another note. George I.