Below is an excerpt of the section titled “Chaplains as Retained Personnel” where Chaplain Earl Ray Brewster is mentioned the U.S. Navy Course, Captivity: The Extreme Circumstance. The full course can be downloaded here which may be more readable. Mention of Chaplain Earl Ray Brewster begins in chapter 2 page 14 (2-14). This was originally sourced from The History of the Chaplain Corps United States Navy – Volume Two 1939-1949 – by Clifford M. Drury
CHAPLAINS CAPTURED IN THE PHILIPPINES
War came to the Philippines on the morning of 8 December 1941. A strong force of enemy planes hit Army airfields in the vicinity of Manila shortly before noon, knocking out of action one-half of the Army bombers and two-thirds of the fighter planes. On 10 December, the Japanese, with complete air superiority, struck at Cavite. The bombs from 50 enemy planes left the Navy yard a mass of flames. About 200,000 tons of American shipping were in the harbor at the time, including the submarine tenders Holland and Canopus. Most of the American ships managed to escape. Four Navy chaplains were taken prisoners by the Japanese in the 5 months campaign waged to conquer the Philippine Islands. They were Earl Brewster of the Holland, D. L. Quinn of the Sixteenth Naval District, F. J. McManus of the Canopus, and H. R. Trump of the Fourth Marine Regiment. Brewster and Quinn were taken when Manila fell, in the closing days of 1941 and opening days of 1942. McManus and Trump were on Corregidor during the last bitter days of its defense and were made prisoners when it surrendered on 6 May 1942. Chaplain Earl Brewster of the Holland was recovering from an operation performed in the Canacao Naval Hospital, Cavite, when his ship left the Manila Bay area. He reported for duty on 15 December and was ordered by the Staff of Commander Submarines to a unit assembling at the Philippine Girls College at Caloocan that consisted largely of medical personnel and former patients of the hospital. He reported there on the 20th. The victorious Japanese forces, sweeping through the city of Manila during the closing days of December, took Brewster prisoner and confined him with others at Santa Scholastica’s College, Manila, on 2 January 1942. Chaplain D. L. Quinn was also interned at Santa Scholastica’s College, (see fig 2-1). A diary kept by R. W. Kentner, pharmacist mate first-class during the whole of his captivity, records the fact that Chaplains Brewster and Quinn were among those transferred to the Elementary School at Pasay, Rizal, on 9 May 1942, and that the two were sent to Bilibid Prison on 28 May. On 2 June, the two chaplains were sent to Cabanatuan. Regarding his experiences as a prisoner of the Japanese, Brewster has written: The transporting of prisoners between Manila and Cabanatuan was effected by means of half sized metal boxcars, which had to hold from 80 to 100 men, together with their gear. The 6- to 8-hour trip was not exactly a luxury ride in that heat. Of course, a hike was required on each end of these trips, and they were never under ideal conditions, to put it mildly. We usually found far from ideal conditions when we arrived at our destination. Arriving at Cabanatuan on 1 June 1942, we started on our rice diet, which was really quite an experience. Lack of water, sanitation, medical supplies and equipment, a combination of malaria, dysentery, beri-beri, and diphtheria, were responsible for the loss of 2,000 out of 8,000 men in 4 months, nine-tenths of whom could have been saved with decent food. We buried (after the Japs agreed to permit chaplains to officiate) from 10 to 40 a day during this period. The experience of seeing Zero Ward, where men wallowed and died in their own filth, to be moved to another barracks labeled the “morgue,” where I have seen 40 naked skeletons on the bare deck, to be carried out to the so-called cemetery by fellow prisoners, some of whom would themselves be carried out soon, to be thrown into watery common graves to be visited by roaming wild dogs, is a sight some of us will not soon forget. And may God help us if we fail to keep faith with those who can no longer enjoy the life they have helped to make possible for us. Partly because there was no other place, and partly because the Japs banned religious services for a while at Cabanatuan, I held services in my own barracks (at the request of fellow naval officers) during most of the time that I was there. In spite of the fact that some of these services had to be held in secret, and in spite of a lack of facilities (I did have my New Testament) we had some rich experiences, and I personally enjoyed a relationship with my shipmates that I could never expect to have duplicated. I was also privileged to hold services for enlisted men in their barracks. A few days after their arrival at Cabanatuan, Chaplain Quinn was transferred to camp No. 3, where he remained until that camp was closed on 28 October 1942, when he was returned to camp No. 1. In the meantime, Brewster had been sent with other prisoners to Mindanao, and the two chaplains did not meet again until October 1944. Of his trip to and experiences in Mindanao, Brewster testified: In October of 1942 I was selected to be one of 1,000 officers and men to go to a camp in Mindanao, to which place we were sent via Manila in our boxcars, and then to Davao by ship. This was a rugged experience, taking a dozen days for a trip which could have been made in two. Many of us were not in good shape by then. I myself was in such bad shape from beri-beri that I was forced to turn in to our so-called hospital soon after arriving there. This was an experience, the like of which I would not wish for my worst enemy. Suffice it to say, that I suffered the tortures of the damned, and my weight went to 120 pounds from a normal 200. But, by the grace of God, it was my good fortune to gradually recover to the extent that since I have been privileged to return home to normal living, I seem to be fully restored to my former good health. Over the period of 20 months we remained here at this former penal colony, things did not turn out as well as we had hoped. Perhaps a very successful escape by 10 Americans was partly responsible for this. Food rations were always inadequate, even when the things we needed were available. Services were banned part of the time, but we managed to hold them most of the time (the hard way) and had some rich experiences. We found there were some things they couldn’t take from us—although we had practically none of the things we were used to. On 4 April 1943, Major Jack Hawkins, USMC, escaped from Mindanao, and, on 7 February 1944, wrote about the heroic services rendered by Chaplain Brewster while in prison. Hawkins stated:
After the final surrender of the Philippines, I was interned at prison camp number 1 at Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija, P. I. I met Chaplain Brewster for the first time in this camp and was immediately struck by his splendid example of courage and fortitude under the stress of the terrible circumstances in which we found ourselves. In this camp all Naval and Marine Corps personnel, seeking to keep together as much as possible, had managed to be quartered in the same portion of the camp. It was difficult to maintain faith and hope in these horrible circumstances, but it was made easier for all of us by the moral and spiritual leadership of Chaplain Brewster, (see fig 2-2). He was our friend and counselor and a constant source of good cheer and hope. He ministered to the sick, organized a daily Bible class for us which benefited all of us greatly, and every Sunday he delivered a sermon to us which was absolutely inspiring. His efforts were endless even though his physical strength ebbed constantly as a result of the starvation we were enduring.
Finally, a group of prisoners numbering 1,000 were sent to camp number 2 at the former Davao Penal Colony in Mindanao. Chaplain Brewster and I were in this group. We all suffered terribly from exposure and the unbelievably crowded and filthy conditions on the Japanese ship during the 11-day trip to Davao. Upon our arrival there, we were forced to march about 20 miles, which, in our weakened condition, was almost beyond the limits of our endurance. It was not long after our arrival in this new camp that Chaplain Brewster developed beri-beri, the disease which caused untold suffering among the prisoners. The chaplain’s condition was very serious. He suffered endless, stabbing pain in his feet and legs and he was not able to get up from his bed in our crude hospital. He was very thin. Sleep for him was almost impossible since there were no sedatives and the pain never stopped, not even for a minute. He once told me “Jack, I never knew such suffering was possible on this earth. But I will never give up.” Major Hawkins and others managed to smuggle fruit past the guards which they brought to the suffering chaplain. It was good medicine. Brewster began to rally. “We marveled,” wrote Hawkins “when we found him on his feet, even though it caused him torturing pain, holding religious services for the other suffering patients in the hospital.” And, Hawkins added: “When I escaped with the other members of our party of 10, we left Chaplain Brewster still improving, still walking, still defying pain, still bringing hope and courage to the hearts of men.” Of his religious activities Brewster wrote: The response to religious activities was good, everything considered. I was even requested by a group of fellow bed patients, while I was not able to walk, to preach to them from my bed, which I did (sitting on my cot) for several Sundays. As I mentioned above, some services had to be held secretly, although they let us arrange for some special services at Christmas and Easter. Mother’s Day services were as well attended, as were the services on Easter. There was considerable interest in Communion Services. I had no elements or equipment. The men were asked to bring their canteen cups, and I poured the wine, which was melted grape jelly from my Red Cross box. The bread was made from rice flour. We really had some good times together and I have not enjoyed preaching anywhere more than in those strange surroundings. Personal contacts, of course, were a large part of the chaplain’s opportunity. He was with his parishioners in every kind of experience— eating, sleeping, hiking, bathing, and working. I was on a rope-making detail for a while, and on several details in the fields. For a time in Mindanao I was the only active Protestant chaplain among 2,000 fellow prisoners, and was able to spend most of my time working as a chaplain. During this period it was my privilege to read aloud each day to as many as 50 men whose eyesight had become more impaired than my own. This was also rather practical since books were scarce. I found reading aloud a couple of hours each day to be very good training. When the Japanese feared an invasion of Mindanao, the prisoners were transferred back to Luzon and sent to Cabanatuan via Bilibid Prison in Manila. On the first stage of their return trip, from the camp to Davao, the prisoners “were jammed into open trucks”; their shoes were removed; all were blindfolded; and a Japanese guard was seated on the cab armed with a stick (in addition to his gun) which he used to beat any caught trying to peek under the blindfold or who began talking. Brewster wrote: It would be quite difficult to describe adequately our trips in Jap ships where we were jammed below decks, even into dirty coal bunkers infested with rats. There was not even enough room for all of us to sit down at one time. We had to try to sleep in relays, and any adequate rest was impossible. Food (rice twice a day) and water (one Canteen a day) were terribly scarce. There was no bathing. On our trip back to Luzon most of us did not remove our clothing for the 3 weeks en route. Our friends in Bilibid Prison, upon our arrival there (on our way back to Cabanatuan) said that we were the worst looking large group they had seen, and they had seen some bad ones. It was nice to come back through Bilibid again and see many of my old friends of the Canacao hospital staff (Bilibid remained largely a hospital unit) and others. The sea trip from Mindanao to Luzon took almost three weeks, with 1,200 men packed in two small dirty holds.
Brewster was sent back to Cabanatuan, but was again returned to Bilibid on request of the Japanese commander (a doctor). A special truck was sent from Cabanatuan to transport Brewster to Manila. “I am told,” commented Brewster, “that I am the only one-man detail the Japs ever sent out from Cabanatuan—a dubious distinction, but it resulted in my being retained in Manila.” The special duty assignment at Bilibid prevented Brewster from being included in the company of prisoners sent to Japan in the closing days of 1944. This exception probably saved his life. Throughout his prison experience, a period of more than three years, Brewster carried on his religious activities as far as his strength permitted and other circumstances allowed. He reported that one of his hardest tasks was that of conducting burial services for 40 men who died in one day at Cabanatuan. As a form of punishment for some minor offense, the Japanese often banned the holding of Divine Services. At one time, the Japanese ruled that, while reading from the Bible and singing were permitted, preaching was forbidden. Commenting on this, Brewster said: “I would just look at my Bible and say, ‘If I were preaching I would say this’ and give my sermon.” Brewster’s account continues: My work as a Protestant chaplain in Bilibid was as enjoyable as could be expected under the circumstances, and it was a real privilege to work with fellow prisoners, even though they were down physically and consequently low as far as morale was concerned. The food ration (rice, corn, and a few so-called vegetables) for the last 3 months got as low as 800 calories a day, which speaks for itself. The average weight of the 800 prisoners released there was 113 pounds. I missed the October draft to Japan (there were 5 survivors out of 1,700 prisoners) because the Japs retained me as the lowest ranking reserve chaplain. I was sent out to Fort McKinley with 400 cripples about the middle of November, not to return to Bilibid until 5 January 1945, which was 3 weeks after the last group (300 survivors out of 1,600) had left for Japan. Many of my best friends were in these last two drafts, and it was heart rending to see them half starved and sick, waiting as doomed men, which most of them proved to be. I spent Christmas and Thanksgiving of ‘44 at Fort McKinley, where they almost starved us for 7 weeks. We had nothing with which to celebrate, but some of the men still had inner resources, which caused them to be able to hold up their chins and hope for a better day. We had nothing but rice and watery soup (no meat) twice a day— the same as other days. Most of what little meat we did get from time to time was so spoiled that you could smell it from across a street. But, in spite of everything we were able, by the grace of God, to hold services, reading groups, and even have some special observance of Christmas and Thanksgiving. For the Christian Christmas, Easter and Thanksgiving are always meaningful. Coming back into Manila on 5 January 1945 I found that I was the only Protestant chaplain there—all the others (several Army and three Navy) had been included in the December draft. They had retained a Catholic Army chaplain, apparently anticipating my return to fill the quota which the Japs had allowed during the whole time at Bilibid. Now, there were 800 men in Manila, which was nearly two-thirds of the military prisoners left in the Philippines, since there were about 500 cripples left at Cabanatuan, whose peak population had been at least 20 times that number. These 500 were liberated, as is well known, by the Rangers a week or so before the 1st Cavalry and the 37th Infantry came into Manila. In the closing days of his incarceration in Bilibid, Brewster was conducting funerals every day. These services were often interrupted by air-raid alarms when American planes flew overhead. “We did not object,” wrote Brewster, “for it meant that the day of our possible release was drawing nearer.” The great day of deliverance came on 4 February 1945. Brewster was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for “meritorious conduct” while detained by the Japanese …. The terrible bombing Cavite received on 10 December 1941 was the signal for a general exodus of all possible American shipping from the Manila Bay area. The Canopus, however, with her chaplain, F. J. McManus, (see fig 2-2), remained behind to tend her brood of submarines still operating in Philippine waters. On Christmas Eve, the Japanese again bombed Cavite and the Canopus narrowly escaped being hit. Since the Americans were moving all strategic supplies and available forces as rapidly as possible out of Manila to Bataan and Corregidor, the tender was
ordered to Marivales Bay on the southern tip of Bataan. There she continued to serve her submarines. A camouflage was hastily improvised but this did not prevent her from being attacked on the 29th when bombs fell all around the helpless ship. She took one direct hit that left many casualties. In the citation for the Silver Star Medal, awarded posthumously to Chaplain McManus, the following reference is made to the chaplain’s heroic service when the Canopus was hit. “When an armor-piercing bomb exploded in the vicinity of the after magazine crushing or exploding 70 rounds of ammunition, killing 6 men and wounding 6 others, and starting fires in adjacent compartments, Chaplain McManus, with complete disregard for his own safety, entered the smoke and steam filled engine room, assisted in removing the wounded and administered the last rites to the dying. His courageous action, beyond the call of duty and in the face of grave danger, is in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.”The last American submarines were ordered out of the Bay on 31 December, but it was then too late for the mother ship to slip by the Japanese blockade. When the Canopus was bombed again a week later, she was left with such a list that the Japanese evidently thought she was a derelict. The officers of the Canopus did not disillusion the enemy and made no attempt to right the vessel. Activity, however, continued aboard especially at night when the ship’s machine shop rendered valuable aid in a multitude of ways to the defenders of Bataan. During the weeks and months of the siege before being transferred to Corregidor, Chaplain McManus made frequent trips from the Canopus to the island fortress in order to minister to Catholic personnel there and especially to members of the Fourth Marine Regiment. “This was far beyond the normal call of duty,” wrote an Army chaplain, “and in addition to his other work.” As the fortunes of the defenders became increasingly desperate, it was finally decided to move the naval forces from Mariveles Bay to Corregidor. This was done in the night of April 6—7. Under cover of darkness, the Canopus was moved to deeper water and scuttled. Bataan fell on 9 April. Corregidor held out for about four more agonizing weeks and then on 6 May it, too, surrendered. The fourth naval chaplain to be included in the surrender of American forces to the Japanese in the Philippines was H. R. Trump, who left Shanghai with the Fourth Marines on 27—28 November 1941. They reached Manila the week before the outbreak of war. The Marines played a valiant role in the defense of Bataan and Corregidor. Chaplain Oliver, who had opportunity to see Chaplain Trump at work, wrote of his tireless services in behalf of his men: Upon arriving at Corregidor late in the evening of 27 December 1941, Chaplain Trump learned that final radio messages could be sent to the United States from military personnel and although very tired from the hazardous trip from Olongapo, when his regiment was forced to evacuate to Corregidor, he sat up all night collecting messages and money from the men for transmission home and censored over 800 of these radiograms. It was the final message many people received from their men who were later killed in action or died as prisoners of war. Chaplain Trump’s regiment was widely scattered over Corregidor, but he was most faithful in visiting them and conducting services for his men under enemy shelling and bombing.
Following the surrender of Corregidor, both McManus and Trump elected to go with their men. On 2 July 1942, Kentner, the faithful diarist of Bilibid Prison, noted in his journal: The following named United States Navy chaplains arrived from Corregidor this date: LCDR H. R. Trump, CHC, U. S. Navy; LT F. J. McManus, CHC, U. S. Navy. Trump and McManus remained at Bilibid for only one night and were then sent to Camp No. 1, at Cabanatuan, where they found Chaplain Brewster. Navy chaplains joined with Army chaplains at this same camp in providing Divine Services, religious instruction, and in other expressions of their spiritual ministry. The prisoners were able to construct a chapel with materials they found or salvaged, large enough to seat about 30. The roof was thatched. All faiths used this chapel. Because the seating capacity of the chapel was so small, most of the congregation attending Divine Services had to remain outside, but they could still hear the voice of the speaker. Among the prisoners was a Jewish cantor. Protestant chaplains took turns in assisting him conduct services for those of the Jewish faith. Chaplain A. C. Oliver, USA, also a prisoner a Camp No. I at Cabanatuan, in his testimony of 1 November 1945, commented as follows upon the faithful ministry rendered by Chaplain McManus: In Military Prison Camp No. I, Cabanatuan, Chaplain McManus constantly visited the sick, gave generously of very limited personal funds for the purchase of food for the sick . . . and frequently worked on details so that a sick man would not have to go out. Many times he volunteered to take the place of a sick Chaplain so that he would not have to work on the prison farm, airport project, or in cleaning the Japanese Guard Company area. He had the profound respect of men of all faiths and was a potent factor in bolstering their morale. According to Oliver, both Army and Navy chaplains often held Divine Services contrary to the orders of the Japanese. Such was done at the risk of the life of the officiating chaplain. Oliver made special mention of Chaplains McManus and Trump carrying on under these dangers and difficulties. Oliver’s commendation of Trump included the following: In Philippine Military Prison Camp No. 1, Cabanatuan, Chaplain Trump constantly visited the sick, acted as welfare officer for Group I for a period of 5 months, worked on Japanese details in order to be near his men, and in the course of this was beaten severely several times when he interfered in the interest of the men as a Japanese guard was beating them. In addition, Chaplain Trump carried on an excellent religious program and his services constantly attracted a large group of men. He had the respect of the men of all faiths and was a potent factor in keeping up their morale. Chaplain John E. Borneman, another Army chaplain who was held prisoner in Camp No. 1 and who also observed the Navy chaplains at work, told how the Protestant chaplains conducted Bible and discussion classes at night, all unknown to the Japanese and contrary to their orders. Chaplain Trump led a series of meetings on the subject: “The Man Everybody Should Know.” Protestant Army chaplains joined in this project by presenting other subjects. The attendance averaged about 80. The chaplains felt that such classes were most important, not only for the opportunity they presented for religious instruction, but also for the contribution they gave in maintaining morale. In the meantime, Chaplain Quinn was also carrying on such religious services under similar difficult conditions in camp No. 3. Chaplain Borneman reported that when Chaplain Quinn returned to camp No. 1, he joined in the Bible class that met at night and led a series of studies in the life of Paul. Among the survivors of the prison camp and of the terrible voyage on three different prison ships to Japan in January 1945 was Chief Yeoman Theodore R Brownell whose testimony regarding his experience throws further light on the work the Navy chaplains: I’m certain if facilities had been placed at our disposal, the chaplains would have carried on much the same as they would have under peace conditions, but they were as much deprived by the Japanese as any other one of us and were having a difficult time keeping themselves alive. I do believe, however, that Chaplain McManus was probably the most outstanding chaplain with us. Chaplain Cummings [U. S. Army] and Chaplain H. R. Trump were “in there pitching too,” but McManus had a quality rarely found in an individual. He was convincing in every undertaking and I personally have found him to be a man who believed in what he preached (pardon the expression). As Camp Sergeant Major for the Cabanatuan Prison Camp No. 1, I was in a position to meet and know not only the chaplains, but every other officer and man who had occasion to come near the office or, well, I now realize that I must have personally known thousands. The programs for religious services were prepared in my office. I took care of passes through to our “makeshift” hospital for chaplains and all. Late in 1944, the Japanese, realizing that they might lose the Philippines, decided to transfer to Japan the allied prisoners still held in the Islands. On 13 October. many prisoners were moved from Cabanatuan to Bilibid Prison preparatory for shipment to Japan, including Chaplains Trump, Quinn, and McManus. Brownell has given the following vivid account of the harrowing experiences through which the unfortunate prisoners passed: On the 13th of December 1944, the Japanese marched 1,639 officers and men from Bilibid Prison to Pier 7, Manila, Philippine Islands. A roundabout way was selected to help humiliate we prisoners in the eyes of the Filipinos and Japanese military in Manila. The day was a scorching-hot one and the march was not an easy one for men in the poor physical condition that then prevailed in our ranks. We were loaded like cattle into the forward and after hold of the ship the Oryoko Maru. It was just a matter of hours before many deaths resulted from heat exhaustion and suffocation. Statements by survivors tell of men, emaciated from three years’ malnutrition and ill treatment, collapsing and dying under the horrible conditions which existed below decks. One of the survivors, Ensign Jimmy Mullins, testified: “Many deaths occurred among the naval personnel on board this ship in the night of 14 December 1944 due to suffocation.” The ship was spotted by American planes after it left Manila Bay, and, since the vessel displayed no markings to identify her as a prison ship, was bombed. There were no casualties among the prisoners that day. The vessel put in at Olongapo, Subic Bay, where American planes bombed her again on the 15th, inflicting many casualties among the prisoners. Brownell’s account continues: . . . off Olongapo, Philippine Islands, the ship was strafed by the American flyers and eventually bombed. Many officers and men were killed instantly or suffered major wounds when a bomb exploded at the base of the mainmast. Part of the mast fell into the hold and, together with hatch covers, numerous men were buried in the debris. A couple of miserable days were spent on a tennis court in plain sight of attacking planes and then we were loaded into trucks and transported to a theater in San Fernando, Pampanga, on the Island of Luzon again. A couple of miserable days and nights spent in cramped positions but, for a change, a little more rice in our stomachs, we were loaded into oriental-type (small) boxcars like cattle. Men again met death on a crawling trip to San Fernando, LaUnion, from heat exhaustion and lack of water. I recall that my buddy, William Earl Surber, USA (now deceased), and I took turns sucking air through a little bolt hole in the rear of the car we were packed into. It is known that the three Navy chaplains were among those who reached the shore at Olongapo and that they shared the terrible experiences of their comrades on the tennis court and the train ride to San Fernando. Brownell’s revealing and almost unbelievable description of conditions follows: This miserable train ride ended at San Fernando, LaUnion still on the Island of Luzon. This was on Christmas Eve The following day we were marched into a schoolyard where we were furnished with a more plentiful portion of rice and limited supply of water. That night we were herded into ranks and marched to another point several kilometers away and placed on the sands of a beach. We waited there all that following day and night in the hot sun while horses were being unloaded from some Japanese ships. The next day, men and officers dying from the usual causes (dysentery mostly) were loaded into the forward and after holds of these cattle carriers for the second leg of a trip (beyond the belief of people in our so-called civilized age) and after scraping up the manure into piles in order to make sufficient room, we formed ourselves into groups of about 30 men per group; this being done in order to have some sort of order maintained in drawing anticipated rice and soup. eventually bombed. Many officers and men were killed instantly or suffered major wounds when a bomb exploded at the base of the mainmast. Part of the mast fell into the hold and, together with hatch covers, numerous men were buried in the debris. A couple of miserable days were spent on a tennis court in plain sight of attacking planes and then we were loaded into trucks and transported to a theater in San Fernando, Pampanga, on the Island of Luzon again. A couple of miserable days and nights spent in cramped positions but, for a change, a little more rice in our stomachs, we were loaded into oriental-type (small) boxcars like cattle. Men again met death on a crawling trip to San Fernando, LaUnion, from heat exhaustion and lack of water. I recall that my buddy, William Earl Surber, USA (now deceased), and I took turns sucking air through a little bolt hole in the rear of the car we were packed into. It is known that the three Navy chaplains were among those who reached the shore at Olongapo and that they shared the terrible experiences of their comrades on the tennis court and the train ride to San Fernando. Brownell’s revealing and almost unbelievable description of conditions follows: This miserable train ride ended at San Fernando, LaUnion still on the Island of Luzon. This was on Christmas Eve The following day we were marched into a schoolyard where we were furnished with a more plentiful portion of rice and limited supply of water. That night we were herded into ranks and marched to another point several kilometers away and placed on the sands of a beach. We waited there all that following day and night in the hot sun while horses were being unloaded from some Japanese ships. The next day, men and officers dying from the usual causes (dysentery mostly) were loaded into the forward and after holds of these cattle carriers for the second leg of a trip (beyond the belief of people in our so-called civilized age) and after scraping up the manure into piles in order to make sufficient room, we formed ourselves into groups of about 30 men per group; this being done in order to have some sort of order maintained in drawing anticipated rice and soup. The second transport was boarded the 28t h or 29t h of December and the Japanese again started for Japan. No words can adequately describe the horrible sufferings endured on this second hell-ship. Men died from slow starvation, lack of water, brutal beatings, exposure, and disease. Many of the men suffered from diarrhea and dysentery. On 9 January 1945, shortly before its arrival at Takao, Formosa, American planes spotted the vessel and bombed it. Ensign Mullins inserted a notation in his testimony that “Lieutenant David Long Quinn, 63952, USN, had previously died on ‘7 January’ 1945 en route to Formosa.2 7 Brownell’s account of the voyage from Formosa to Japan, on the third vessel with an account of the passing of Chaplain Trump, follows: On the 14th of January, 1945, the Americans bombed us off Takao, Formosa. Some five hundred or so were instantly killed in the forward hold (mostly all officers) and some three hundred and twenty-some odd injured or killed in the after hold. From that ship we were transferred to another pile of junk and thus started a freezing trip to Southern Japan. to Moji to be exact. Chaplain H. R. Trump, USN, laid on the deck at my feet and was cheery and had high morale, but he was (had been) a big man and seemed to require more water and rice than a small man like myself. Each day, he was wasting away and finally, on the 27th of January, 1945, about 3 or 4 o’clock in the morning, he “went to sleep.’Dying from starvation and exposure has more mental than physical agony. His last few days alive were his “hell” for the want of water. An average of about two tablespoonfuls a day were, I would consider, about maximum received. A Chaplain Murphy died the day before that. His demise was caused mostly from malnutrition-diarrhea. He shook constantly from the cold as he wouldn’t stay snuggled up close to someone else as we were all doing. We landed in Moji on the 31st of January 1945, with less than 400 of the original 1,639! According to the statement of another survivor, LTJG A.W. Long, “LT. Francis Joseph McManus died during the last week of January’.” Only Earl Brewster of the four Navy chaplains taken prisoners in the Philippines survived. He escaped because he was left behind at Bilibid Prison. Chaplains of all services performed many acts of valor in combat during World War II. The following article is reprinted in its entirety as published in the Air Force Magazine, Jan 98, entitled, “Heroic Noncombatants.” It was written by John L Frisbee. By definition chaplains are noncombatants, yet in the Pacific Theater alone, more than 20 chaplains were killed in action while ministering to the spiritual and physical needs of the troops. One of the most notable examples of sustained heroism among chaplains was that of Robert Preston Taylor. During the campaign to hold the Bataan Peninsula in the Philippines, Taylor spent many days in the battle area, searching out and caring for the physically wounded and disheartened, sometimes behind enemy lines. By his example, he brought hope and religious faith to those who had lost both and created a new faith among some who had none. These were hallmarks of his ministry throughout the war. He was awarded the Silver Star for gallantry in action. During the death march that followed the surrender of Bataan, Taylor suffered many beatings and calculated torture for his attempts to alleviate the suffering of other POWs. At Cabanatuan, the largest of the POW compounds, the inspirational Taylor soon became the best known and respected of the officers. He volunteered for duty in the worst of all areas, the hospital, where the average life of a patient was 19 days. Many men could have been saved if the Japanese had provided a minimum of medication, of which they had ample supplies. Taylor devised a plan for getting medical supplies from Philippine guerrillas and smuggling them into camp—an offense punishable by death. The plan was carried out largely by a corporal who was assigned work at railroad yards near the camp. The supplies could be obtained by Clara Phillips, an American woman who had contacts with the guerrillas. As medication began to filter into the camp, the death rate among patients declined drastically.
Eventually the smuggling operation was exposed. Phillips was sentenced to life imprisonment and several participants were executed. Taylor was threatened with immediate death by the brutal camp commandant, Captain Suzuki, then confined in a “heat box”—a four-by-five-foot cage placed in the blazing sun—where he was expected to die. With barely enough food and water to keep him alive in the pest-infested cage, Taylor survived the box for nine weeks. His example encouraged others in the boxes to not give up. Near death, Taylor was moved to the hospital to die. Against all odds, he survived. A new and more humane commandant replaced Suzuki. Conditions began to improve, in part due to Taylor’s influence over the new man. In October 1944, the Japanese ordered all American officers at Cabanatuan to be shipped to Japan. The Americans now were within 200 miles of Manila. Defeat stared Japan in the face. Some 1,600 officers were moved to Manila, where they were held nearly two months while the enemy assembled a convoy to take them and others to Japan. Early in December, the hottest and driest month in the Philippines, the men were marched to the docks. The 1,619 from Cabanatuan were assigned to Oryoku Maru, which once had been a luxury liner. The men were forced into the ship’s three sweltering, unventilated holds. About two square feet of space was available for each man. There were no sanitary facilities. The first night, 30 men died in just one of the holds. After an attack on the convoy by US bombers whose crews did not know there were Americans aboard, only Oryoku Maru survived and it was anchored in Subic Bay. The next morning it was bombed and left sinking. Taylor was severely wounded but continued to help others out of the doomed vessel. As those who could swim neared the shore, Japanese troops opened fire on them, killing many. Jammed into a succession of equally crowded, unsanitary hulks, and with the barest minimum of food and water, the officers from Cabanatuan finally reached Japan on Jan. 30 in freezing weather for which they were not clothed. Only 400 of the original 1,619 survived the horrible experience in the “hell ships,” as they became known. Throughout the long months at Cabanatuan and the terrible voyage to Japan, Taylor never ceased to encourage hope among the POWs and to enlighten their spiritual lives. When Taylor regained some strength as his wounds healed, he was assigned to work in the coal mines at Fukuoka. Soon formations of B-29s began to fill the skies of Japan. For that country, the war clearly was lost. The POWs were moved to Manchuria until the war ended. Only two chaplains who were aboard the hell ships survived. After the war, Taylor remained in the Air Force. He was assigned to wing and command chaplain posts at several US bases and ultimately was named Air Force Chief of Chaplains with the rank of Major General. On his retirement in 1966, he returned to his native Texas to continue a life of service. Throughout his years that were marked by the horrors of war and by great personal suffering, he never lost the faith that sustained him and that he engendered in those whose lives he touched. He and the many chaplains who have devoted their lives to the service of others are a part of the Air Force tradition of valor.
The next article is entitled, “Escape and Evasion: The Chaplain’s Role.” It appears in an Army Training document. It is written by Chaplain Daniel Minjares, who is endorsed by the Church of the Nazarene. He is describing his experience in survival training: The Blackhawk helicopter swooped in low and swift over the treetops, settling in a downward rush of heavy wind and receding engine noises to the landing strip at North Fort Hood. Eight pilots and I looked anxiously out of the windows. We could see the MP guards that were at the far end of the strip. As the aircraft touched down in the grassy field, the crew chief opened the door and we quickly seized the opportunity before us, jumping out and sprinting toward a nearby tree line. This was our chance to put into practice the escape and evasion techniques we had learned. Unfortunately, the MPs reacted too quickly to our escape attempt. One of the pilots and I soon found ourselves face down in the grass with MPs handcuffing and searching us.We werePOWs! I amthe chaplain for the 15th Military Intelligence Battalion (Aerial Exploitation). I recently participated with 24 pilots from my unit in phased training related to Escape and Evasion and Conduct as a Prisoner of War. During the Escape and Evasion training, I trained with CSM John Gregorcyk, a Vietnam and Desert Storm veteran with 10 years’ experience in Special Forces. At the beginning of our exercise, the Observer/Controller gave us two destinations via grid coordinates and told us to avoid capture by the Opposing Forces (OPFOR). Midway through our training, instructors from the Air Force Survival School taught classes on survival, escape and evasion techniques, and how to undergo interrogation. We also received an MRE, which was to be our only food for the two-day exercise. We were prisoners of war in the Corps Interrogation Facility (CIF), operated by Company A, 163d Military Intelligence Battalion (Tactical Exploitation). In the CIF we learned what it is like to actually be a prisoner of war. We were searched again, and then we waited to be questioned. Each pilot was given information that the interrogators were to attempt to uncover during their questioning. When I identified myself as a chaplain, and indicated that I was to be a detained person, the military police allowed me to keep the New Testament and inspirational cards that I carried to continue ministry to my fellow POWs. After several hours in the CIF, the exercise was concluded, but not before I learned critical lessons that I outline here.
LAND NAVIGATION IS CRUCIAL During the Escape and Evasion phase of the training, our ability to navigate was seriously tested. Since we were attempting to avoid capture, the terrain features and vegetation dictated our route to conceal our movement as much as possible. We could not rely only on azimuth readings, pace counts or following roads to avoid the OPFOR. A key factor affecting the ability to navigate is that virtually all movement during evasion would be done at night. The important use of terrain features as “handrails” for navigation cannot be underestimated. By carefully observing terrain (river beds, ridge lines) during daylight hours, you will be able to improve your navigation during hours of darkness. STAY CALM, BE PATIENT It is important to stay claim while attempting to evade captors. It is easy to panic. You must stop and think about what your are going to do before acting. Soldiers need to learn the importance of patiently waiting for the right moment to act. Carefully thinking through a course of action will pay great dividends. Air Force Captain Scott O’Grady successfully evaded Serbian troops for six days in war-torn Bosnia. His commander noted that O’Grady’s ability to “maintain his cool” played a key role in this achievement. O’Grady moved slowly and carefully while avoiding hostile troops, never venturing more than two miles from the spot where he initially landed.
FATIGUE AND HUNGER MAKE EVERYTHING MORE DIFFICULT Fatigue and hunger will confuse your thinking. After 10 miles of walking though dense undergrowth and “wait-a-minute” vines, the sergeant major and I were very tired and anxious to get to the end point (destination). Due to our fatigue, we made a serious mistake in reading our map. We had not gone as far as we thought we had, and crossed a creek nearly one kilometer from where we thought we were. As a result, thinking we were in the safe zone around the next point, when in reality we were not, we were captured. Such mistakes in war time can obviously spell disaster. Fatigue and hunger also play a significant role during interrogation. The Escape and Evasion phase covered more than 12 miles of difficult terrain. The sergeant major and I didn’t reach the end point until 0300 hours on the second day. I covered myself with my poncho and lay on the wet, hard ground to sleep. When I awoke after a couple of hours of restless sleep, I joined the other pilots for our flight to the Corps Interrogation Facility. I was not in the best of shape when I arrived. Fatigue and hunger reduces one’s ability to withstand the pressures of interrogation. Interrogators are trained manipulators, and they are skilled in easing information from unsuspecting soldiers. What may start as iron clad resolve may disappear quickly after several days of hiding from the enemy. An Interrogation Technician for the 163d Military Intelligence Battalion, Warrant Officer Stacy Strand, states the best strategy to take during interrogation is simply not to give any information beyond name, rank and service number. Any other information may be exploited and used as a lever against you or other prisoners. WO 1 Strand adds these tips: Don’t give the interrogator anything to key on, such as being thirsty, hungry or how long it has been since you heard from your spouse or family. Give careful short answers to questions; try to show no emotion through facial expressions or body language.
HAVE CONFIDENCE IN YOUR ABILITIES Confidence in your abilities to use all aspects of land navigation is critical in avoiding capture. Knowing you can read a map accurately, identify terrain features, and navigate will give a tremendous boost to your confidence when you need it most. Facing a real life evasion scenario is not the time to try and figure these things out. Continual practice and reviewwill help keep skills fresh and confidence high.
PREPARATION FOR MINISTRY While preparing for the escape and evasion exercise, I thought about what I would need, at a minimum, to continue my ministry in a POW environment. All I would have was what I could carry on my load bearing equipment and survival vest. What do I need to continue to function as a chaplain? What did I want to have to perform my mission despite the circumstances? What do I need to have on me at all times in the event I am captured? These are important questions to consider and the answers will vary for all chaplains. For this exercise, I took a small New Testament, and some inspirational cards to give to the pilots. Additionally, chaplains need to prepare themselves spiritually and mentally for combat. This is an obvious point that bears repeating. With adequate preparation, my own fears and concerns will be under control, which then frees me to assist others POWs. Without this preparation, I can unwittingly limit my own ministry. It is difficult to give to others what I don’t have myself. Ministry as a POW Once I have decided what I want or think I need for ministry, how do I go about my work as a POW? Individual ministry may be the main focus during captivity. Opportunities for group worship will probably be limited or nonexistent. Captors likely will not allow groups of prisoners to gather for any reason. Maintaining Hope During last year’s Escape and Evasion exercise, I prepared a class on POW survival. I found some interesting statistics that underscore the importance of maintaining hope. I believed, before then, that POWs were not likely to survive the ordeal of captivity. But the following information shows a very different reality.
WWII KOREA VIETNAM TOTAL Captured/ Interned 130,201 7,140 766 138,107 Died 14,072 2,701 114 16,887 Returned 116,129 4,418 651 121,198
—Statistics from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders: A Handbook for Clinicians, Tom Williams, Published by Disabled American Veterans, 1987. These statistics indicate that 87.7% of POWs returned to their homes. Chaplains, therefore, need to assist POWs in fighting the normal feelings of helplessness, despair, and depression. We cannot allow them to give up hope. Viktor Frankl’s book, Man’s Search for Meaning, is an excellent resource for chaplains to study this important issue.
OTHER CONSIDERATIONS These are some additional questions to consider. Do I work with the captors? Do I cooperate with them to gain concessions for the prisoners? Do I give some information in an attempt to have more freedom to do ministry? Article 3 of the Code of Conduct states “If I am captured, I will continue to resist by all means available. I will make every effort to escape and aid other to escape….” How does this apply to me, as a chaplain? Do I attempt to escape or stay with prisoners still detained? There are no schoolbook solutions to these questions. Each chaplain will have to come to his or her own position on these issues. CONCLUSION The Escape and Evasion exercise at Fort Hood taught me the importance of thinking about potential captivity during field training. I admit that during my four years as an armor battalion chaplain, the thought of becoming a POW never crossed my mind. I ministered with soldiers during rotations at the CMTC and NTC, and I deployed to Desert Storm and Desert Shield without giving captivity even a passing thought. Air Force Captain Scott O’Grady fortunately survived his harrowing trial by fire and the rigors of escape and evasion. Training and preparation were critical to his success, although he readily admits that prior to the incident, the thought of such a near tragedy was “unthinkable.” We need to remember that unthinkable events occur in war, and preparation is the key to our survival.
COMMON QUALITIES THAT AIDED SURVIVAL Learning Objective: To recall some insights into commonly accepted spiritual growth exercises and how enforced isolation and hardship can enhance these into a reality for survival. All of these experiences identify a commonality that a lot of people take for granted. Basically it became the need for a value system and the need for others to share in that same system. Each of these stories stresses the soul searching that each individual struggled with about who they were and, ultimately, why they were there, while imprisoned. Once they accepted their traumatic experience and responded to the values they had been taught, they were able to endure the worst of treatment. The noblest part of this endeavor was each individual’s growth became dramatic when they were able to help a comrade. Family background, any religious training and the bonding of the military community itself, worked in a positive way to strengthen each of these individuals in their struggle with the unknown. Once stripped of their status and relatively comfortable support systems, each of these individuals had the opportunity to identify what was of true value. They learned how to be compassionate because of the suffering and learned how to love from the hatred they witnessed. Faith and hope became the watchwords of survival. The process of Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, although primarily suggested for those in the trauma of death, aptly applies here. The denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance stages are reflected in all their stories in various intensities. Once the final stage of acceptance was reached then each of these POW’s was able to cope and become supportive and effective in their own survival of those of their shipmates. It is common to most spiritual traditions that some type of “retreat” where one isolates him or herself from the world to reflect on their very existence is recommended. Per force POW’s are given this opportunity. Generally it is also suggested that this type of experience be within a community setting. Again, the bonding of intra communication between the POW’s was the very lifeline that made their suffering endurable. The ingenuity and talents of each member became vital. Cooperation transcended personal differences and became endemic. The development of the “tap” code showed the resourcefulness of the POW’s when all else failed or seemed insurmountable. Obviously, this was a no win scenario and yet their determination made it survivable. The soul searching required that the important values of their cultural, social and military discipline be chosen carefully for this challenge. No matter what the deprivation, their spiritual powers could not be taken away. For those who had to endure isolation, they used this time constructively. Ultimately each individual became aware that taking care of each other was their primary need. How each POW survived depended upon each one’s maintenance of their own spiritual, mental and physical well-being and that of their comrades. Truly the expression of living one day at a time became their reality.
Author: This was originally sourced from The History of the Chaplain Corps United States Navy – Volume Two 1939-1949 – by Clifford M. Drury