We did head South, and I wrote (soon after reaching our destination) the following account of our trip to my wife — in my trusty notebook, for future delivery: “November 16, 1942, Penal Colony near Davao, Mindinao, P.I. Well, Rosie, we headed South on October 26; we have been here over a week, and it has been a plenty rough period. I doubt if you can imagine one thousand men crowded down in the two afterholds of this Japanese freighter, which reminded me of the old slave ships. It was really plenty rugged, terribly hot and close, and indescribably dirty. There was no place to relax, and not enough room for half of us to sleep at the same time in those Steel-decked bunkers down below. The ship was blacked out ,each night, so it was horribly dark.
We stopped at two or three ports along the way — to unload cargo, which consisted mostly of drums of gasoline, which didn’t, contribute to the safety of this voyage. Stopping at these ports of call more than doubled the normal length of time required for this run. We were aboard that “hellhole” thirteen days, and I think I lost at least thirteen pounds. It was really an experience to remember; in fact, it was an experience that could not be forgotten; it could have been such a pleasant voyage, too — under different circumstances. There were so many tropical isles near at hand, and the sea was just like a lake; so, this was one time that I didn’t get seasick. However, I did catch a heavy cold, which didn’t help my beri-beri any. My feet have bothered me a lot, which has cramped my style. However, I was able, somehow, to make the hike (of about ten miles) here, but I don’t know whether I’ll ever be quite the same again. It seems to be taking me a long time to snap out of it, but I have lots of company — others are having the same difficulty — and I mustn’t complain too much. Such a trip took a lot out of all of us. Just to indicate the crowded conditions aboard —there were six crude “heads” and two urinals for one thousand of us! Water was scarce, and naturally we got terribly dirty, as well as thirsty — and hungry. So, we were glad to get to any place where ,we could stretch out, get some water, and hope for better food, which might help clear up- some of our diet deficiencies. The better food hasn’t really materialized yet, but we still have hopes. We are in the midst of a tropical jungle, where lots of stuff grows wild. Considerable cultivation is carried on right here in the colony, which is a huge place. In fact, they seem to have brought us down here to work the place, and are already using everybody with any work left in them. They have decreed that those over thirty-six years old will be given lighter duty than the younger ones. It is hotter here (only a few degrees above the equator) than at Cabanatuan.
I will be taking my turn preaching here, I guess, since we are not separated from the Army, and there seems to be only one available place for services. The place as a whole may prove to be better, in the long run, than where we were up north — especially if the move should prove to mean an earlier liberation. Love, Earl.”
Perhaps I should supplement the above report with a few items I missed along the way. Considering the general condition of the thousand of us when we left, and also taking into account the conditions of our existence aboard, it is probably rather noteworthy that we suffered no more than two deaths during these thirteen difficult days. Carrying out “their consistency lying in their inconsistency” the Japanese allowed us to have a brief ceremony for only one of our victims. This was my first experience with burial at sea (except for scattering ashes off San Diego), and we did our best to have a dignified ceremony — under unfavorable conditions. The speed of the ship was not even slewed for us. During the brief commital service (without a prayer book or ritual), a? fellow-prisoners released the body into the peaceful sea, I repeated the following words from “Eternal Father”:
“O Holy Spirit, who dost brood upon the water dark rude,
bid their angry tumult cease, and give, for wild confusion, pease;
O hear us when we ory to Thee for those in peril on the sea.”
Our march from Davao Harbor-to our new “home” was negotiated during the night, which helped some, and we arrived at our destination in the wee small hours, soaked from rain along the way. Finally, as we began to see a few faint lights in the distance, we approached a log arch over the road ahead, and were able to make out the words: “Davao Penal Colony—estab
lished 1933.” The place soon became known aib “Dapecol.” After another mile we were here in our new barracks, which resembled the ones at Cabana- tuan. That night we slept without any covering — in our damp clothes, since our gear was left behind — to be brought in later. So, we didn’t have a very warm welcome, or reception at Dapecol. We were welcomed the next day, however, by another thousand American military prisoners, who had been captured on various southern islands. Still we were a small family of less than one-fifth the average number at Cabanatuan.
The next morning we were able to case the joint, and found that there were nine of these long barracks-type buildings — all in a row, about twenty yards apart. A hundred yards to the rear were three twenty- hole latrines; the plumbing already was installed! Not far from one end of the line of barracks were two large sheds, which proved to be the kitchen and mess hall. Next to these open-air buildings was an area used as a chapel. A barbed-wire fence enclosed the rectangular compound, in which there were no trees, but there were a few patches of coarse grass here and there. A couple of hundred yards in front of the row of barracks was a dirt road running parallel to our row. On this road were some buildings which housed the Japanese troops. Between these buildings and our bar-racks (separated by our fence) was a rather large drill field, which evi- dently had been a recreation area for the tough Filipino civilian prisoners, who had worked this plantation until shortly before we arrived; in fact, a few “trustys” were still there when we showed up. The Japanese evidently used these released prisoners elsewhere -• as forced labor — during the war.
Our first morning at our new place of abode was the first time that we had been privileged to eat a meal while sitting down at a table. Our breakfast consisted not only of rice, but also some casava root, fried in coconut oil. This is one of the staple, starchy foods of the Philippines, and it tasted good — for a change. Cabanatuan was never like this!
After breakfast we were herded onto (or into) the drill-field, where we were assembled, facing the grandstand for a “welcoming” speech by a Japanese major, our new camp commander. The interpreter, whose name was Wada, and whose nickname became “running” (he went about at a semi-dog trot), introduced the commander as Major Maeda, who proceeded to speak to us in halting English. His purpose evidently was to give us “the word”, and to let us know that this was not to be any Sunday School picnic. I distinctly remember two points he made. First, in his high-pitched, monotonous voice. he said, “You ah not heah to ”1azy“ — you ah heah to wuk.” Second, after plenty of preliminary remarks, he shouted, “You Americans ah ouh enemies! You have always been ouh enemies, and you will be ouh enemies for a thousand yeahs!” We did not doubt him then, and some of us may still wonder. As far as Wada was concerned, our people had some choice names for him … other than running; he was certainly one of the most despicable characters we encountered during our imprisonment. When we read some years after the war that he had been sentenced to twenty years imprisonment, I’m sure there wasn’t much weeping among those of us who remembered how he had operated. He certainly didn’t get any more than he deserved.
The rest of our first day at Dapecol was spent in getting settled into our new situation, which, in general, looked potentially better than’the one we had left. The Army and Navy were not separated here, but we were housed in our barracks strictly according to rank, and were intermingled with our people who were already there. I was glad that a number of my good friends were in our group from Cabanatuan; I also made some fine friends among our new associates.
On the second day in camp a Japanese bugler aroused us at about 6:00 A.M. Right after breakfast various work details were organized to carry on some of the tasks which previously had been done by “other” hardened criminals on this vast plantation. We understood that the place had not only been self-supporting, but that considerable excess produce had been shipped to Manila from this acreage which had been hewn out of the surrounding jungle. The rice fields and logging operations were located several miles from the camp and were reached by means of a quaint, narrow- gauge railroad. Our men were taken to these operations on flat cars; sometimes, when the cars were loaded with rice, etc. the men not only had to walk back, but were required to supplement the power of the almost powerless engine by pushing. Nearer the barracks were orchards of lemons, limes, avocados, papayas, bananas, pineapple, jack-fruit, star apples and other tropical fruits. A little farther from camp were smaller fields de- voted to casava, camotes, sugar cane, beans, com, and other vegetables. In addition to all this there were pigs, chickens, and cattle roaming the place.
All the above probably sounds-as if we had really reached the land of “milk and honey”! But, alas, this did not prove to be the case! Except for the rice, which our huskiest young men planted, cultivated and harvested, virtually none of the other products was available (officially) to the Americans. Practically all of these other choice items which we sorely needed for our ill-nourished bodies, were either taken by the Japanese or left to rot. Some of the guards were reported to have said, when our people asked permission to pick fruit, “That is for the birds … not for the Americans.” Some of our people, on certain work details, were able surreptitiously to pick some fruit and eat it on the spot. Some guards were more lenient than others, and some of our friends (at the risk of being whacked) were able to smuggle certain items of food back to camp. Some of these things found their way to friends who were either on inside details or in the hospital. I became one of the beneficiaries in this latter group, and I have no hesitancy in confessing that my conscience didn’t bother me about the possibility of having eaten stolen goods. Maybe we were rationalizing, but we didn’t feel that these things belonged to the enemy in the first place. My thinking still has not changed on this. Probably I should be a better Christian in some of my attitudes.
Until we arrived at Dapecol the rice had been polished by a rather crude machine in the camp. We were convinced that unpolished rice would be better for us; since a detail of our people were operating the machine, it wasn’t long until, for some “mysterious” reason, the machine became even more crude; in fact, it was made inoperable “accidentally on purpose”, and of course* nobody had the slightest idea concerning what had happened, or why. However, such a good “job” was done on the contraption that it was beyond repair, and we had unpolished rice from then on. This was not only better for us, but in the process we were being concerned with the well-being of the enemy — even though he might not have preferred unpolished rice. I don’t think any of us lost much, if any, sleep because of this maneuver.
Speaking of the food, as time went on it became not only the dominant topic of conversation, but almost the only concern — except for home. It might be well to mention some of the interns that showed up on the menu from time to time — in addition to the regular rice ration. I mentioned above that the place had been more than self-supporting; it could have been even more so if the Japanese had been willing to allow the-Americans to operate the place. Although this probably was expecting too much from this parti7 cular enemy, we did have people with us (especially among our reserves]) who were experts in agriculture, animal husbandry, etc.. We could all have had plenty of food and a balanced diet; maybe we would have become too healthy and frisky foT them, but you can hardly excuse people for not sharing food which is right at hand. When it is not available — then that might be a different matter. However, in spite of this, and in addition to the pilfered food I have mentioned, there were certain other “goodies” (in meager amounts) that were supplemented from time to time. Once in a while, when a carabao or a brahma steer (this was better meat) died of heat exhaustion or old age, or something, the soup of the day would inherit the leavings, which some of the “boys” called the “N.R.A.”; the middle initial was for “ribs”, but I could not reveal the other words in mixed company, or in polite society. If any of my male readers are curious I would be glad to speak to them privately about this matter; this would also apply to the nickname given the Japanese rising sun, which I alluded to earlier.
In the category of food there were a couple of other protein items that showed up occasionally. A few times we had fish heads to go with our rice; although these were considered delicacies in some circles, they were something quite different to us. However, most of us ate them — not because we relished such exotic food — but for the elements which we so sorely needed. Another item on the fish menu, which was not set before us every Friday, consisted of dried fish; this could be eaten more readily if you held your nose while trying to get if down. It was material, which, in the States, undoubtedly would have been used as an ingredient in certain types of fertilizers. This would have been a real good use for it, but we had no choice. We could not afford to think in terms of “living to eat”, since we had to eat to live. Another rather unusual item in the fish family, which we were privileged to “order” just once or twice, was shark. This scarce item was rather tough, and pretty potent, but many of us ate it, including me. How many of my readers are able to report that they have eaten shark? Just one other protein item: At first we were quite horrified and perplexed by the worms in our rice. Later, however, some of us, who were quite protein-conscious, became rather used to them — as we considered their possible protein value.
As far as other supplementary foods were concerned, I have listed the various fruits and vegetables that were grown, or just grew, in the colony; most of these were not available to us — they were for the Japanese — or for the birds. However, in addition to the casava root and the camotes which I have already mentioned, from time to time we were issued “mango beans”, which we would have called small peas; these were a welcome addition, since we figured they might contain elements not to be found in our regular diet. Once in a while we got some squash, but we never saw any peanuts (which would have helped), and the only way that we got valuable fruit items was through stealth. On one occasion sugar cane was made available — or, at least, it was “procured”, and brought into camp. Some of our ingenious cohorts, who were almost miracle workers, when it came to things mechanical, were able to resurrect a crude old cane-press and put it into commission. So, we had a limited, temporary supply of “squeezin’s”… to put on our rice — although nobody seemed to be ingenious enough to produce pancakes or waffles, or any butter to spread on them. The source of supply for the cane must have dried up, since this was the only time we had cane syrup. Also, somebody did occasionally bring in a few coconuts, which were quite a treat for us.
An observation, which involves food, I think is important here, since lives were at stake. I have probably indicated that some of us more readily ate what was set before us than did others, and asked no questions. Itwas no doubt harder for some than for others to eat.certain things; however, there were some who could have eaten the stuff if they had really tried; in some cases it meant the difference between life and death. I certainly don’t want to sound superior, and I know how risky it is to pass judgement, but I was glad that I had not been brought up to be “finicky.” Also, I guess I possessed a fairly strong stomach. However, I did not go so far as to participate in any activity which ultimately resulted in the virtual extinction of quite a number of dogs that roamed the area. The same kind of thing happened eventually in the case of some of the “meatier” rats which inhabited the place.
The matter of will-power involved in connection with eating the day to day food, and the will to live, were closely connected. Some of our people, especially at Cabanatuan, were so defeated and beaten, and so sick and exhausted — that they had lost interest in food (especially the kind offered them), and they lost their will to live. This seemed to be particularly true of the younger, single men, who did not have the love and responsibility of a family of their own. In many cases this was the first rough going they » had ever experienced; they had not had the responsibilities of older men, who had had to make it on their own during the skimpy depression years.
However, as I think I have indicated above, those of us who came so close to giving-up ourselves, and are here only by the Grace of God, are very reluctant to presume to judge our more unfortunate fellow-prisoners.
I had been tentatively assigned (by virtue of my age and inability to get around) to a rope-making detail, which was light duty. However, material (abaca) was not immediately made available for this work, and after a few days waiting for this operation to materialize, my beri-beri became so painful, and 1 was so immobilized that I had to be turned into the hospital. This was about the middle of November, and the next couple of months proved to embrace the most painful and agonizing experience of my life — before or since. The hospital area was about a hundred yards beyond our row of barracks, and about a hundred yards across from the mess hall and chapel area. The hospital thankfully was more inviting than that which was called a hospital at Cabanatuan. It consisted of a main building and two smaller ones built at right angles to each end, and connected to the main building by open- air, covered passageways. The buildings were very plain, and of course, lacked equipment. There, were no hospital beds, but there were cots, of sorts. We wondered what kind of medical and hospital care might-have been available for our predecessors. There were plenty of doctors and corpsmen (mostly army) among us, and they did the best they could. The very small amounts of medicines which our medics were able to bring in were totally inadequate for our needs, and wore scarcely supplemented at all by the Japanese. The result was that the hospital was largely a place of segregation — those in the barracks being considered available for work details. This was determined jointly by each barracks leader and the camp’s Japanese doctor, who, of course, had the last word. Their doctor, who was rather young, seemed at times to be quite sensitive to our condition and needs. However, he served under their camp commander, who demanded quotas of “hands1′, which had to be met; so the Japanese doctor, who also had the oversight of the hospital, was a victim of circumstances, too.
How do you tell about a nightmare? It, no doubt, is a good thing we don’t remember so much about some of our worst experiences, while re-, calling more readily some of the more pleasant things along the way. However, I can’t forget the terrific pain and tension, which kept me in bed for so long, and with which I had to live twenty-four hours a day — week after week. The pain, which centered in the extremities, was characterized by one of the doctors as being equal in intensity to that suffered in acute • , cancer cases. The pain in my feet was so intense that for quite a period they could not tolerate even the weight of the sheet. This probably seems incredible, and perhaps my ability to take pain was not very great; it is true that I had never before been called on to suffer much real pain. However, there were others who were having similar experiences; but I would not say that this was a case of ”misery loving company”! To alleviate the pressure and the pain, which was accentuated by the sheets, some of our friends made hoods, which were-placed under the sheet at the foot of the bed; this served the purpose, giving us limited temporary relief. The only other temporary relief we received during this period was available in the form of shots, some of which, at least, contained morphine. Although I suppose most of these almost routine evening shots were placebos, I am glad to say that, by the Grace of God, I was able to refuse many more of these shots than I accepted. Some of the patients accepted all of this sort of thing they could get, and when they could have eased up on it, they didn’t. The consequence was that when it was no longer available — a few of them had a pretty hard time. Here again I hope I am not sounding superior, or as if I am presuming to judge; I have been involved too much for that!
The only real permanent cure for our beri-beri and other diet-dcficiency ailments was to provide those elements that were lacking in our diet, which was the same as on mainside — except for what friends subsequently brought . in to us. I will confess that I did not ask how, or where they procured it!
I became a patient just a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving; this was to be my second such “celebration” away from home, Thanksgiving in 1941 having been spent aboard the Holland enroute from Pearl Harbor to Manila. Then I was able to conduct a service of thanksgiving, and we enjoyed the traditional turkey dinner with all the “fixin’s”. Instead of all this having been just a year before my Dapecol hospitalization it seemed as if it were an eon earlier, since so many strange and almost unbelievable happenings had taken place during that period. I was not able to conduct a Thanksgiving service in 1942, and, as far as I can recall, no extra food was forthcoming that day. The Japanese probably were not aware of this national holiday of ours, this did not prevent some of us from celebrating Thanksgiving in our hearts, as we thanked God for life, for our families, for our country, for friends, and for the “friend that sticketh closer than a brother.”
I was also thankful that I had my trusty briefcase, which contained “T.N.T.” — with Psalms. For my own thanksgiving devotions I turned to such Psalms as the 23rd, which concludes with “surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of ray life; and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever”; the 100th, whose first verse is: “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands”; also, the first 2 verses of Psalm 46: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble; therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be cast into the midst of the sea.” Before we left Cabanatuan — in anticipation of Thanksgiving — I wrote the following verses, using as a basis Rom. 1:14:1
“I AM DEBTOR”
“So many -things we do not know
In this vast world of ours,
But one thing’s certain — that we owe
For all our gifts and powers.
“We are debtore,” says St. Paul,
And so he lived always;
So, for this cause he gave his all.
And triumphed through the days.
We see this theme throughout God’s word,
Which is the Book of Life;
We see it most in our own Lord .
As He triumphed over strife.
In fact, this is really why He came:
Because He loved us all;
So, you and I must feel the same …
And answer the highest call.
What other reason can there be
For being allowed to live?
But it’s so hard for us to see
Real living means to give.
We boast of being what we are,
Hot giving others their due;
In the game of life must we always star,
Though our talents are all too few?
The Good Book says that we have naught,
Except it be given by others;
So, by this theme we need to be taught
Our true relationship: Brothers.
How, if you and I were in God’s place,
What would our attitude be?
Can we honestly, now, our creditor face
When ourselves as such debtors we see?
To think that we are heirs of the best
What riches are really ours!
Our am attitude s the real test,
Which determined Godly powers.
So, since such love has thus been shown,
The very least that we can give,
Is our whole lives — our very own —
That others, too, might live.
I used the above verses as a basis, and even as an outline, for a later Thanksgiving service. I wasn’t able to preach for a number of weeks, and I missed it. As may have been surmised by now, I enjoy preaching, and feel that proclaiming the “unsearchable riches” is a high privilege, indeed.
I am just “unreconstructed” enough that I do not go along with the so-called “new breed” of ministers, many of whom minimize the importance of preaching, and apparently don’t give it much of a priority in their ministry. Consequently, in my judgement (and I don’t mean to be destructively critical) their preaching lacks elements which the people need. Too many people are leaving too many churches without having received a helpful word for their deepest needs; “the hungry sheep look up and are not fed.” It has been my experience and observation that even in many of our larger cities it is hard to find a church of a major denomination to which a person can go and expect to find a solid word being preached consistently — an inspirational word to strengthen the faith and hope of people, who often are discouraged, desperate, and even despondent. I have also observed that the ministers who are majoring (not to the exclusion of other things) in preaching the unsearchable riches, are those whose churches are not half empty.
Getting back to my experience in the hospital at Dapecol (no extra charge for the above), in spite of the constant pain there were some pleasant aspects of my sojourn there. The doctors and corpsmen could not have been more considerate and helpful — considering their lack of practically all the things which they were accustomed to have in their work. I remember one army corpsman, especially, who constantly went beyond the call of duty to help those of us who needed help so badly. This lad was a Mexican- American from New Mexico, and the chances are that he was a Roman Catholic; he never said, and I never asked him. I don’t think it ever entered my head, but if I had been the Holy Father, Himself I don’t see how he could have given me better care. I don’t mean to say that I got any special treatment, which 1 did not expect or want; he was just nice to everybody. He almost always was smiling, and I can’t recall having seen him “lose his cool” … even under the most trying circumstances. This young man was dedicated to doing the best he could toward his shipmates and buddies — regardless of rank, race or creed. I don’t know whether or not he survived to get back to New Mexico; I hope he did, and that he has had, and is still having a good life there. All angels are not females — if any are!
I think I’ve mentioned earlier that I have had considerable Naval Hospital duty, and I have visited in many hospitals. This, added to the fact that my father was a country doctor, has contributed to my developing a healthy respect for dedicated doctors, nurses, corpsmen and others who have given themselves to the healing and caring for the sick – in mind as well as body. Our older son is on the staff of a large California State hospital, and if we had our “druthers” we would rather see him do this work, to which he is dedicated, than to have him consumed by an ambition just to make a lot of money — regardless. I am reminded here, by way of contrast, of a story of a young man who was known in his community as one .whose announced sole and consuming ambition was to make a million dollars. When he was asked why he was so anxious to make a million, his reply was, “So I can tell the other follow to go to Hell!” What a contrast to the dedicated nurse, who chose to care for the seemingly most distasteful and trying cases that could be found. When someone told her that they wouldn’t do what she was doing for a million dollars, her reply was, “Neither would I’!” I have a notion that such dedicated people will have some extra stars in their crowns! “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me”. (Matt. 25:40) Also, “And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only, in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.”
Earlier I have mentioned some friendships that I was privileged to develop at Cabanatuan; such friendships have been among the most meaningful and rewarding that I have encountered along the trail. However, when you have fellow-patients on either side and all about you, who are suffering from ailments and pain like your own — then, you really have something in common, and a common bond is developed. In a sense, you are members of a select group, since only those in this group can really understand and ..offer the kind of sympathetic help that is most meaningful. “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.: (Gal.6:2) Also, one verse of “Blest Be the Tie” goes like this: “We share each others woes, Our mutual burdens bear, and often for each other flows the sympathizing tear.”
I was glad that, while in Manila, I had had access to a few books from which I had copied a number of passages, some of which I have included earlier. Here are a few others that were helpful while I was in the hospital: “No pain, no palm; no thorns, no throne; no cross, no crown.” (Penn) Here is a stimulating sentence from Grenville Kleiser: “Open your mind to
great and noble thoughts, and your character will assume new strength and significance.” The following thought (from Cowper) fitted our situation: “He is the freeman whom the truth makes free, and all are slaves beside.” Here are a couple of anonymous passages, which were helpful: “Away in foreign fields they wondered how their simple word had power; at home, the Christians, two or three, had met to pray an hour.” It is a humbling experience to find that the strength which you had been given during trying hours, days, weeks, months and years, was due partly, if not largely, to the prayers of individuals and groups at home. By the following lines I was reminded that God is aware of every sparrow that falls: “Amid the trials.that I
meet, amid’the thorns that pierce my feet, one thought remains supremely sweet — Thou thinkest, Lord, of me.” Here is a thought that I’m sure many of us have had — as we have encountered the vicissitudes of life: “Not what happens to us, but what we let it do to us in life, matters most.”
“Lord, what a change within us one short hour
Spent in Thy presence wilt avail to make
What heavy burdens from our bosoms take
What parched grounds refresh as with a shower!”
As I have mentioned earlier, we had no hymn books; so I was especially glad that over the years (mostly unconsciously) I had memorized at least parts of some of the great hymns of the church. Here are a few lines which came to me when I needed help to take ray mind from the pain and loneliness that would not go away:
“Abide with we; fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens; Lord with me abide.
When other helpers fail, and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, O abide with me!”
Here is the last verse to an especially helpful hymn:
“Our God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Be Thou our guide while life shall last,
And our eternal’ home. ”
Here is a precious prayer, as is the case with many of our great old hymns:
“Lead kindly light, amid the encircling gloom,
Lead Thou me on;
The night is dark, and I am far from home;
Lead Thou me on. ”
“Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see the distant acene ..
One step enough for me. ”
There are so many of these wonderful hymns, and I’m afraid we are apt not to use them to the fullest in our corporate and private worship. Many of my hours in the hospital and elsewhere would have been much more bleak without these hymns (and others) that I have noted.
The source of my greatest spiritual help during these difficult days was the Scriptures. I was so glad that I had memorized at least a few passages over the years, and as I have mentioned earlier, my New Testament (with Psalms) was a life-saver. Here are just a few short passages that meant so much to me — especially while 1 was in the hospital: “There hath no temptation (testing) taken you but such as is Common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted (tested) above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way of escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” What a comfort this verse (1 Cor. 10:13) was! Although I didn’t have an old Testament with me until later, I did remember something of the story of the trials- and tribulations of Job, and it was a help to be able to identify with him when he said: “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him!” Ideally, I guess, Christians are not supposed to grit their teeth much, but once in a while you find yourself in a situation where you must stand up to life, and, in effect defy it to do its worst to you. When we do accept the challenge, realizing that God and one person represent a majority — then the battle is half won, at least. A rendezvous with death is, no doubt, a good, and even necessary experience for some of us. An especially favorite verse, which I have mentioned earlier in another context, is one where St. Paul says: “We are troubled oh every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; always bearing about in the body dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life’ also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.” (II Cor. 4:8-10) There were many other meaningful passages of Scripture which were priceless during this period, but the over-riding thought that caused me to realize that I was not alone in this experience was the realization that there was one who already had blazed this trail, and had suffered everything (and more) that His followers might be called upon to undergo. The writer of Hebrews puts it simply and succinctly in these words: “For in that He Himself suffered, being tempted, He is able to succor them that are tempted.” (Hebrews 2:18)
As the days grew into weeks I realized that I would be spending my second Christmas away from home, the first one having found me with the hospital unit at the Seventh Day Adventist school outside Manila. The Christmas card which I was handed by the young couple connected with the school was the last written communication of any kind that I had received, and it was to continue to have that distinction until late in 1943. It was some time after the outbreak of the war before our families received word that we were missing in action; and it was more than a year after Pearl Harbor, or early in 1944, when we were reported officially as POWs. , So, it was about a year and a half before our families heard from us directly — if that’s the right term for cards which reached them at least six or eight months after they were written. Of course, most of theirs never reached us at all. I received 15 or 20 letters altogether, and I estimate that probably this was ten percent of the number written by my wife, other members of my family, and friends. The rest were “lost” en- route. The same kind of thing was true regarding mail from us to the States. In the first place, we were not allowed to send any communication at all until after we reached Dapecol, which was six months after going to Cabana- tuan, and nearly a year after Pearl Harbor. It was then that the Japanese, told us that out of their “generosity” they would allow us to send one postal card every three months. In the next two years we were allowed to send six cards, and my wife got only half of those; one was received after I got home — about eight months after it was written. The above is no reflection on the International Red Cross, which was prepared to handle such communications both ways, but I’m afraid our enemy was not very cooperative. The postal cards which they handed out to us were something like the ones our kids send hom from scout or YMCA camps. If you wanted the card to go through you checked that the food was “Good’.’. Perhaps if I had been a little less honest, more of my cards would have gone through. Letters to us were censored also, but I would guess that those that didn’t look too good to the Japanese simply found their way to the circular file. There was a brief space on these cards for remarks; some of our people “discovered” the following New Testament passage, which they figured aptly described our situation, and noted chapter and verse on their cards: “For we could not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble, which came to us in Asia — that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life.” (II Cor. 1:8) Some cards with this Scripture reference may have gone through; I never had occasion to check on it.
It is evident from the above indication of such a “communication gap” that, in a sense, our families suffered even more than we did. Although we suffered from hunger, sickness (including homesickness) and bad treatment, we knew that the needs of our loved ones were being met, .and that they were among relatives and friends. From their vantage point they could not know what was happening to us, so could not help fearing for the worst. Their mental anguish must have been almost unbearable when they were not able to hear of or from us for such long intervals.
The lack of communications (we were in the midst of this jungle, entirely remote from the outside world) including Christmas cards and the usual observances in the home and church contributed to and accentuated the nostalgia among us. I was in no condition to help plan special services, much less to participate in them, but it was my privilege, at the request of a few of my fellow-patients, to lead (from ray bed) in a very informal and intimate service of our own. We sang a few of the most familiar Christmas carols, Silent Night being the most familiar and the favorite. I read the beautiful story of the birth of our Saviour from the second chapter of the Gospel of Luke, and my remarks were centered around the following three passages Of Scripture:
- Isaiah 9-:6 — “For unto us a child is bom, unto us a eon is givens and the government shall be upon Hie ehoulders and Bis name shall be called wonderful, counsellor, the mighty God, -the everlasting Father, the Prinoe of Peace.”
- Ieaiahll:6 — “And a little child shall lead them.”
- 18:4 “Whosoever, therefore, shall humble himself
as this little child, the same is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.”
This informal Christmas meditation may have been one of the most effective services I have held and I was practically lying down! Only God Himself can measure such things. We did come to a new realization of the fact that the place or manner of worship is not, in itself, the most important element, but that “God is a Spirit, and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.” For a few Sundays before I was released from the hospital I held similar services — while sitting on my cot.
A few days before Christmas it had been announced by the Japanese Command that there would be a five day holiday from work, including Christmas day. The announcement included the “word” that there would be a special Christmas dinner, and an opportunity for entertainment. Although we patients were not directly affected by the work holiday, we were glad for our friends, some of whom needed the rest. We were also interested in any extra food, (we did get a little Carabao meat), and while we could not watch the entertainment, we were able to hear some of the music, since it came from the mess hall across the way. The carols especially were nice to hear, even if they did add to our nostalgia. We were surprised to hear an orchestra, which had been formed among our fellow-prisoners. We learned that a few instruments had been furnished by the Japanese, and that some others had been left by Filipinos who had been in charge of the prison. Although typhoon conditions prevailed during this holiday period, it was not only a respite from the routine, but represented a recharging of our physical and spiritual batteries, even though it might have accentuated our homesickness.
After each such holiday — Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving — or anniversary, or whatever, we would declare that “by this time next year we’ll be home”. One of the sayings became “Christmas turkey in Albuquerque”: then the retort would come: “Of what year?” As time dragged on many of our people became increasingly pessimistic, discouraged and cynical: some even became almost hopeless, although, in the vast majority, there remained that elemental desire and determination tp live. There were a comparatively few deaths at Dapecol; those of us who were sent there had survived the first few horrible months at Cabanatuan — largely because we were in better shape than many others — to begin with. One of my friends, a Navy lieutenant with whom I became acquainted at Cabanatuan, died at the Dapecol hospital not long after I became a patient there. Some of our mutual friends served as pallbearers — to carry his body in a rough wooden box over to the railroad tracks — to be’ placed on a hand-car to be taken to the burial grounds out near the rice fields. I was granted the privilege of pronouncing a few words over the body of my departed friend — as it was being carried past the porch of the main hospital building. Since I wasn’t able to walk under my own power, a couple of friends helped me to the porch steps where, for a commital service, I used these words of the 23rd Psalm: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for Thou art with me, Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies; Thou annointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
While I was in the hospital there were a couple of important developments, which vitally affected us patients, and ultimately concerned the whole camp. In the first place, after a few weeks experience with hit’and miss work details, with the Japanese command ordering so many bodies for each project from day to day, they apparently realized that this was not the most efficient procedure. The consequence was that rather permanent details were formed, with each of our barracks commanders having quite a free hand in determining who would go on what detail. This not only gave our people some-* what more independence but people on various details about the colony had opportunities to familiarize themselves with particular areas, and also with their more or less permanent guards. This often made it possible for them to forage for extra food (sometimes certain guards conveniently turned their backs) for themselves, as well as for their friends — especially for those of us in the hospital. I was the grateful recipient of some of this much needed food (such as bananas, coconuts, lemons, etc.), and I must confess that I never felt that I was receiving, consuming and sharing contraband goods. Several of my friends, for whom I still thank the good Lord, were thoughtful in this respect — including a couple of Marines, whom I will have occasion to mention later. These people, and others, literally risked their hides to help some of us who were helpless at the time. It is true that some of the guards were more lenient than others, but our people could not always be sure. We were always aware that our captors’ consistency lay in their inconsistency.
The other development to which I alluded above was closely connected to what I have been relating. The prime mover in this development was a young Japanese lieutenant by the name of Yuki, who was directly in charge (under the Japanese command) of the outside work details. Yuki, to put it mildly, was not typical of many others; in fact, he was the most personable and considerate (maybe even reluctant) representative of the Emperor that any of us had seen. He was one of our captors, who probably was a product of the of the Christian missionary enterprise; he was even seen at our Divine services now and then.
Lieutenant Yuki’s philosophy apparently was that you can trust the Americans; therefore we don’t need to guard them so closely, and they can be put pretty much on their own — with only general supervision.” Apparently the Lieutenant was able, over quite a period of time, to “sell” his superiors on this philosophy, which they implemented soon after the holidays. They probably figured that because of the very nature of our geographical situation nobody would be foolish enough to try an escape; even though it night be quite easy for prisoners to leave the colony, where would they go, and how would they survive the rigours and hazards of the jungle? Also, they must have taken into consideration that up to this time there had been no escape attempts at Dapecol. So, most of the work details were left pretty much to themselves — except for patrols of guards circulating – and checking throughout the colony. Sometimes this supervision became quite superficial; this “new system” ultimately had an indirect, dramatic, and even a rather drastic effect on the camp.
The immediate effect of this reorganization — especially on those of us in the hospital — was that we began to have more food brought to us by our friends, who were freer now to secure and conceal the products of the soil. We found on many occasions — even during inspections — that if something were hidden from our captors, or if they didn’t choose to see it, it just wasn’t there, as far as they were concerned. At any rate, this, further supplementing of our food with some of the elements which we needed so desperately, caused some of us to begin gaining strength, which helped us to get back on our feet — even though it was a slow, painful process, which required persistence and help from others.
One of my fellow-patients, who bunked nearby, was an army captain, who was in about the same shape that I was, so we decided to try to help each other literally to get back on our individual and collective feet; we had lost our ability to walk, or even to bear our weight on our tender and sensitive pedal extremities. It was a case of the “lame and the halt” trying to help the “halt and the lame”, neither of whom scarcely had the strength to get out of bed — or off our cots — to be precise. However, we planned our attack, and started carrying out our plan, which was to start with just a few steps and to increase our activity gradually. First, it was just a few steps away from our cots; gradually we were able to walk the length of the ward. After a while we ventured out on the porch of the building, and then out into the courtyard, where there was a bench, probably a hundred feet away from our building; we would rest on this bench until we felt we had stored up enough energy to venture back to our cots, where we collapsed — exhausted, but feeling that we were progressing. After a couple of weeks or so of this cooperative endeavor, we felt that we should try it on our own, which wasn’t easy, but we both made it — by the Grace of God! I don’t mean that we became independent that suddenly; it was a gradual process. However, after a couple of more weeks or so, it was felt that I would be able to take care of myself back in my wn barracks, so I was released from the hospital — after having been there for nearly three months. Needless to say, I was happy to be released (to eventual light duty), although I did appreciate the care I had received, and the friendly associations I had had there.
An extremely important development came to fruition while I was still in the hospital. I suppose most of us had heard in civilian life of such things as Red Cross food parcels, which were to be furnished to POWs — to supplement their rations. Supposedly this “manna from Heaven” was to be issued at the rate of one package a week to each prisoner. Until we became aware of the kind of enemy who was dishing it out to us, some of us probably had that idea — or hope. During our first several months of imprisonment there were rumors that these “goodies” were on their way. After a certain length of time most of us, no doubt, had become pretty pessimistic about receiving any outside help at all. Not long after the first of the year, however, a detail of our men were sent down to Davao Harbor, where about four thousand of these elusive and mysterious packages were loaded on a barge and brought up river to the railroad, which ran through the camp.
As the “gravy train” approached, and the packages were unloaded, the ex- citement that permeated the camp when it was realized that packages were actually here — would be hard to describe. When each of us received two or three of these packages the scene must have resembled those around the tree on Christmas morning when the youngsters, and the adult youngsters as well, open their gifts with keen anticipation and joyous surprise.
Although belated, these were precious Christinas packages, indeed, and just what we wanted and needed. So, let’s see what we found: there was instant concentrated coffee — the first real coffee we had had since’imprisonment; it was a real treat. There were chocolate bars, cheese, crackers and cookies; there were small tins of spam and sardines. There were American cigare’ttes, small amounts ‘of tea, cocoa, salt, pepper and sugar. Although these items were in small containers (each of the parcels probably weighed no more than ten pounds) they looked mighty big to us — I can tell you that! Most of the items were things we really needed, and which helped some of us to get back on our feet; other items, such as cigarettes and coffee, were so craved by some people that these things (especially cigarettes) became so valuable for trading purposes that cigarettes literally became the medium of exchange within the camp. The only tobacco that smokers had had for months was a very meager, inferior, and uncertain supply from that which grew on the prison farm. Paper had to come from old magazines (if any), and this was also “another’,’ use for newspapers, which I have mentioned earlier.
In this shipment of parcels (which the Japanese held up for several months), there was a limited supply of medicines for the hospital — including the much-needed quinine — for our many victims of malaria. Also, in addition to the two parcels for each of us, there was a supply of small cans of corned beef and vegetable stew, which amounted to about ten cans per man. This was rationed to us at the rate of two cans a week, so it lasted for several weeks. So, we ate “high on the hog” for a while. There were at least three different philosophies among us as to how we would ration this bonanza to ourselves: First, there were those who went to the whole hog
extreme, with the result that it was nice while it lasted, but it didn’t last very long, and probably failed to do the maximum good. Second, there were those who went to the opposite extreme in hoarding their precious food, perhaps denying themselves immediate nourishment which was needed sooner than it was received. Third, there were the rest of us middle of the roaders, who tried to ration our food reasonably, feeling that this was the way to get the maximum good from it; I found myself in this latter group.
The worst thing that happened was the trading of valuable food items for cigarettes by habitual smokers — who seemed to value tobacco more than food; therefore, as I mentioned above, cigarettes became the medium of exchange; it was, “I’ll give you so much corned-beef for so many cigarettes, etc.” I hope I am not presuming to be holier than thou when I say that I am glad, to be able to report that I did not trade any cigarettes for food items.
I did do a little “bartering”, but I made it a point to trade cigarettes only for non-edible items — such as a note book or two — or other things that would not deprive a man of something he really needed.
As soon as our parcels were received, our captors discontinued the meager supply of vegetables, which had appeared in our regular ration; worse yet, after our supplementary food was consumed the vegetables were not resumed; so, we were Tight back on the diet we had at Cabanatuan: Lugao for breakfast, and rice with green watery soup for the other two meals of the day.
It was a good feeling to be welcomed back to the barracks, where I was to be with several friends from Cabanatuan; some of these were among those whose visits and gifts were of invaluable help and comfort during , those extra difficult days. For a while it was al^out all I could handle to take care of my needs; it was somewhat of a walk to our mess hall, to the latrine, and to the bathing platform. This latter item was something new to us from Cabanatuan, since we didn’t have such “fancy” facilities while we were there. This “bathroom” was a rough, wooden platform — built around a shallow well — right out in the open; a free show! People could check on how many times you bathed each week — or month, as the case might be. There was a bucket there, with a rope tied to it, with which you dipped up the water for your glorified sponge bath. If you had any soap, which became one of many scarce items, you simply dipped up another bucket of water, and rinsed off by pouring it over yourself. You dried off so readily that you didn’t need a towel, which was a good thing, since they were scarce items,- too.
It seemed that the items that became the most noticeably scarce the soonest were things that we usually take for granted, some of which we ordinarily think very little about — until we are deprived of them. The primary items in this general category would have to be food, shelter and clothing; with us, however, the last two items didn’t matter so much, since we were in a tropical region. The matter of food was always a pressing problem, while water was scarce at times. A person can, in a warm (hot) climate become used to making do with very few clothes, and without much housing, but, without adequate food the panes of hunger never go away — not even after eating what had to be called a meal out there.
There are other secondary things, which if you don’t have, are really missed, and physical existence can become cramped — and even crude — without them. I have mentioned earlier the scarcity pf paper on which to write; this kind of item became almost non-existent — as did anything with which to write. Our fountain pens (those some Japanese guard hadn’t “appropriated”) did us very little good without a supply of ink. Pencils also became very scarce — for some of us who were inclined to do a little scribbling from time to time.
Paper, of course, has other uses,.but it is not necessary, nor would, it be delicate for me to go into much detail here; suffice it to say that in three years as a guest of “His Imperial Majesty” I can recall only a couple of very small issues of bathroom tissue — if it could be called “tissue”. So, it was every man for himself! The newspapers (propaganda sheets, printed in Manila) which our captors brought in from time to time, did have some value to us! So, it is an ill wind that blows nobody good! Some of these mundane matters may seem rather amusing in retrospect, but I can assure you that they were not only important, but they were very Serious, indeed!
The amount of paper and paper products used by Americans is astounding in comparison to, and in contrast with that used by many, if not most, of the peoples of the world. I’m sure it would be safe to say that ten times as much of such material is used here as in most parts of the world. Newspapers alone account for much of this, while practically everything we buy is packaged in some kind of paper product. In our homes the wastebaskets fill up overnight, while the disposition of old newspapers and magazines is a constant problem. Our problem out there was to get hold of any paper, at all. Soap, which I mentioned earlier, and other toilet articles, were in the same general category; I made two razor blades do for about a year and a half! We tried to sharpen them on pieces of glass, or on the butt of our palms; any old port in a storm, and necessity (truly) is the mother of invention.
With the added strength from the essential food In the Red Cross parcels I was able to conduct services within a few weeks after getting back to the barracks; this suited me fine, and a certain number of our people seemed to welcome these services, which were held on “barracks row”, in one end of a building, which was not being used. When I say that these services were welcomed, I do not mean to infer that there was standing room only; in fact, the attendance was similar to that at home; a certain number came regularly, and there were capacity crowds on special days — especially Easter. However, it had never been my custom (as is the case with some ministers) to wish my Easter congregation a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Some of our regular church-goers welcomed services, since those in the chapel in the mess hall area had been discontinued by the Japanese — while cooking and eating in that area had also been banned. Presumably this was for their security purposes, since the mess hall area was not inside the inner enclosure embracing barracks-row. The consequence was that, although there were two other Protestant (Army) chaplains at Dapecol, no protestant services were currently being held on mainside. One of these Army (reserve) chaplains arranged to bunk in the hospital area, and held services there, in a small hut they were able to build. The other Reserve Army chaplain was inactive (not physically) during most of our sojourn there; that left me as the only active Protestant chaplain on mainside, and I held services accordingly. It was good to get back “into the harness”.
I was still on the list of the rope-making detail, and after several weeks I went on part-time duty there. This operation was carried on in an open-air shed, which was across the drill field, but within the confines of the camp barbed-wire. Since we worked at this rope-making only’half days, I had time to visit friends in the hospital and elsewhere, and also had some time to prepare for my services, etc.
There were several Roman Catholic chaplains aboard; after a while our Catholic friends were able to “rig” an altar in a small shack, where they said their masses; they also used the chapel facilities on the hospital side.
Our cooking facilities had been established, (after the mess hall was no longer available) in an open shed at the end of Barracks row — toward the hospital. We had no dining tables here. The cooking facilities consisted of a couple of large, heavy iron cauldrons, under which wood fires cooked the rice and soup, and heated water for the weak tea we had from time to time.
A permanent wood-cutting and chopping detail had to be responsible for keeping a constant supply of fuel on hand; otherwise, no wood, no ricei This was a pretty rugged detail, the members of which had to go to the surrounding jungle, cut down the trees, chop up the wood, and haul it into camp.
The supply of rice and other food items was stored under lock and key at one end of the cooking shed — for safekeeping; the Japanese determined what our ration would be periodically by the amount of rice, etc. they issued from time to time. After that it was our problem to see that /there was equitable division and distribution among all hands. In order to insure this, our (subordinate) command chose people supposedly fair and honest to cook the stuff, and dish it out equitably. By and large I suppose a fairly conscientious job of choosing people for this terribly important and tempting job was done; also, under the circumstances, no doubt most of the people had the welfare of their fellow-prisoners in mind — as well as their own. But, when a man is perennially hungry, it just isn’t as easy to think of another man’s belly as it is to think of your own; and after all, these people were human, too!• In spite of the fact that there were plenty of-self-appointed watch-dogs and detectiv.es, it was more or less- generally thought that some of the commissary people were partial to their close friends; also, it seemed to be obvious that.some-of our appointed mess hall people didn’t appear to be as undernourished as a lot of the rest of us. But, a man could hardly face greater temptations than those presented here; in order to be tolerant and charitable, perhaps a couple of Scriptural admonitions could be in order: “The laborer is worthy of his hire” (Luke 10:7); also “Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the com.” (Deuteronomy 25:4)
I have mentioned earlier that a hungry man potentially, and sometimes actually, is not a normal man. In addition to hunger, when a man, who has suffered the humiliation of defeat, plus witnessing and suffering from beastly brutality — then you have a man (humanly speaking) who easily can forget some of his finer standards and sensibilities, which are supposed to characterize our so-called civilised society. Such experiences can, and in some cases did, produce not only extreme selfishness, but gross pessir mism, cynicism, frustration and hopelessness — among us. There were many outward manifestations of these characteristics; one of the most common, noticeable, and objectionable practices (among a certain segment of our population) was the almost unconscious habit of filthy talk. I had not always led a completely sheltered life, having worked among fruit tramps, harvest hands, oil workers and shipbuilders; I had heard plenty of bad language in my time. However, some of the language I heard at Dapecol ma.de these characters sound almost like amateurs. I had, of course, heard one particular four letter word used plenty as a verb, but not as practically every other part of speech, as well. Some of the combinations were really something else! All of the offenders were not enlisted men, either; some of the chief culprits were supposed to be officers, but I have in my own mind always made a distinction between real officers and those who merely have been commissioned.
The above situation got so bad that I proceeded to preach a red-hot sermon on the subject; I really tried to “slay the Philistines” — in the Philippines! As is often the case, most of the people who needed this word the most were not in attendance, but it didn’t hurt those who were there, and the word got around. My test was taken from Matt. 26:73. It may be recalled that when Peter denied being a follower of the Galilean, a damsel in the group said to the big fisherman: “Thy speech betrayeth thee.” I used this text to point out that a man is not only known by such things as the company he keeps, by who his ancestors were, by where he lives, by his education, etc, but he is also known by his speech: “Thy speech betrayeth thee.” I pointed out, among other things, that you need to listen to most people only a couple of minutes to be able to tell what kind of people they are. I don’t know how much good the sermon did, but 1 had delivered my soul, and at least, it did me some good!
Perhaps a word or two more about the rope-making detail might be in order here. The abaca, which is related to hemp, was grown in the colony;
it was easy to work with, and the work was not hard. Fortunately for me and’ some of the others, we could sit down to do most of the work, which consisted of preparing the strands of fiber for twisting and braiding into rope of several different sizes. Most of our product was used by the Japanese for their small boats — if not for their larger ships; some of the smaller lines were used right in the colony — as harness for the carabao and brahma steers, which, with our fellow-prisoners as drivers, did the plowing and other heavy work in the fields. In connection with our rope-making, I refuse to confess to sabotage, but I will admit that we did not go out of our way to make the lines any stronger than we had to. Our reasoning (maybe rationalizing) was that most of our product was used by the Japanese, and we certainly didn’t want tobe “guilty” of aiding and abetting the enemy! As far as the part of the product, which was used in the colony, was concerned, we figured that if and when there were work stoppages on account of the inferiority of our product — well, our people could use some rest from their labors, which might be temporarily interrupted. The only fruits of our labors, which we could rely on was the rice, which our people worked so hard to produce; much of it, as weil as almost all the other products, was used by our captors.
An amusing and also a tragic incident occurred in the cas| of one of the members of our tope-making detail, with whom I became acquainted. Dan was of slight build and bald headed; he seemed to be a rather happy-go-lucky guy and was well liked. He was an old Asiatic hand, who had been a Naval Petty officer out there between wars. Dan retired on twenty as a chief, and chose to stay in the Philippines. Some would have said that he had “gone Asiatic” or “doby”, partly because supposedly he had married himself a Filipino wife. I was not aware of any marital connections, so, one day in the course of our conversations while at work, I said, “Danny, have you ever been married?” His reply was, “Well, Chaplain, not legally!” No more was said about the matter. Subsequently our friend was transferred to a work detail which operated outside the confines of the barbed wire —either in the jungle, or on the edge of it. Not long thereafter it was reported that my friend had been shot and killed while trying to escape from his work detail. Evidently there was a joint desire on the part of both the Japanese and the American command for a definite identification of the victim of this tragedy. One result was that I was designated to perform this grim duty. The body had been taken (in a rough wooden box) to the burial grounds, but not yet buried. So, I had my first and only ride on a little hand-car with two Japanese guards. When we got to the graveside the “coffin” was opened and closed so fast that I got only a quick glimpse of the body of my friend; but, in spite of this, I was satisfied that this was the body of Danny. Although I could not have sworn to it, I reported that I was completely satis- fied that I had seen the body of our shipmate. If, in fact, Dan was trying to escape, he could have thought that, having lived out there, he might have had a good chance to make his way — once, he was out of sight of the guards. We did find that, on several’occasions, guards were pretty trigger-happy. At least one incident occurred at Dapecol where one of our soldiers was killed by a guard who shot repeatedly — without any provocation whatever. Instances of slappings and beatings were not uncommon. It is true that our captors were in the habit of slapping one another around considerably, but that was a family affair; “guests” should have been entitled to greater consideration — especially “guests of the Emperor!”
Earlier I have mentioned the friendships formed in our situation; some friendships} begun among those who came from Cabanatuan, were deepened here, while new ones were made over the long period of our incarceration at Dapecol. In the earlier category was Ken W., whom I mentioned as having remained in the Navy Supply Corps — to become a Rear Admiral. At Dapecol- Ken and I had a lot of conversations during our long period of apprehension; Ken was one of the friends who visited me in the hospital — “when a feller needs a friend” — not that he doesn’t need friendships when not hospitalized. In the course of our conversations Ken repeatedly told me that after we got home (he was optimistic, too) he wanted me to perform his marriage to the young lady in Fullerton, California, to whom he was engaged. I will have occasion to continue this thrilling and romantic story later. Also, among those friendships begun at Cabanatuan, was that with Marion T. from Louisville, Kentucky — a Reserve Naval officer, who became an official Kentucky Colonel! Marion, who was a couple of years older than I, was a Communications officer, who had been called to active duty about the time I was fresh caught in San Diego; he was serving on Corregidor at the outbreak of the war. Marion was a unique character; you always knew where .to find this solid rock, who was usually good for hearty laughs — as well as for other helpful talk. Bachelor Marion was an active Southern Baptist, who had held office in his home church — in addition to singing in the choir. So, we had a lot in common. Marion, like Ken W., was an excellent swimmer, which largely •accounted for their surviving the ordeal of an unmarked Japanese “hell-ship”, which left Manila for Japan in December of 1944. My Kentucky Colonel friend, who had lived with his widowed mother for years, made me promise to come and visit them (“you all come, heah?”), and see the Kentucky Derby. Although we did enjoy their Kentucky hospitality during several visits while I was stationed at Parris Island, S.C. and Norfolk, Va., we never were able to get to the Derby. They (his mother was a unique character, too) visited us in Norfolk. The last time I saw my good Baptist friend he was very sick; a couple of years ago he preceeded his aged mother in death. Here is a friendship to remember.
Warren G. and I first met while I -was in the Dapecol hospital. He had been a patient there, too, so we had something in common to begin with. Other things we had in common were that we were both reared (or raised?) in Southern California, and were about the same age. Warren was of medium height and weight an extrovert with a pleasant personality, and a ready, welcoming smile; he was one of those vibrant, active souls, who always had to be doing something, and it was often an act of kindness for someone .else. While still a patient Warren got the idea that^he could help some fellow-patients (by massaging their backs and limbs) whose locomotion was impaired — even to the point of partial paralysis — in some cases. Although he had had no particular training or experience in this sort of thing, he was certain that he could be of help. After securing permission from our doctor in charge, Warren proceeded with his idea, and it worked! During our entire stay at Dapecol Warrea Spent many hours at this dedicated mission, which helped to put a number of our weakened cohorts on their feet. Warren came out to the Philippines to seek his fortune in the field of hotel management, which he had studied at U.C.L.A. This was in the late twenties, so he had been out there a dozen years when the war started. Evidently he had chosen the right field, since, within a few years, he became the Assistant Manager of the highly rated Manila Hotel. Subsequently he went to the mountain resort of Baggio to become the manager of the well known Baggio Hotel; it was from here that he was called to active duty, having received his reserve commission through the N.R.O.T.C. program at U.C.L.A. Although Warren was brought up in a church home, he, like many other young people, had drifted away from the church; the very nature of his work, including the hours and the atmosphere in which he found himself — these things were not always exactly conducive to things of the Spirit — to put it conservatively. So, Warren probably had not attended church much, if any, for some time until he was present at the very informal services I held during my last few weeks as a patient. He seemed to be quite receptive, however, and scarcely missed a service from then on. He was not a mere “pew warmer”, but he listened, and we often talked about the services and related subjects. Through this association, and through the power of the Holy Spirit, my friend came to realize anew, and in a deeper and fuller way, that “there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother”. With his new commitment and rededication, Warren’s smile was even more radiant and sincere; his “God is good to us” (a new greeting) was not simply from the lips, but from the heart of- one who had returned to his Father’s House. “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Prov. 22:6)
The camp continued with its usual routine — with one day (humanly speaking) being not much different from the one before. Sometimes you had to look for variety, and I will admit it often was pretty hard to find. However, there was a new sunrise every morning, and a different sunset each evening. Then there were the unseen things for those who recognized the ‘ voice of Him Who said “Behold I make all things new.” Also, St’. Paul said: “For which cause we faint not; but, though our outward man perish, yet .the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are unseen are eternal.” (II Cor. 4:16-18) When it was recalled that the man who wrote those words had suffered almost every form of hardship for his faith — including stonings, beatings, shipwrecks, and finally imprisonment in a dungeon — with chains about his legs — and ultimately a martyr’s death — then we were given hope and strength to carry on for the cause of Him who had motivated the great Apostle in his mighty crusade. “Love so amazing, so divine, demands my life, my soul — my all!”
So, for one who is committed to the cause of the Kingdom, no day can really be dull, drab, or monotonous; however, there are bound to be some periods, which are more dramatic than others — that stand out in the course of human events. Such an event will form the foundation of the next chapter in this story.