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Earl R. Brewster

Chaplain, USN (Ret.)
Alpine, California Sept. 1969


For Rosie and Cathy
sketch of Chaplain behind barbed wire, by Rosella Brewster“Barbed-wire Chaplain” is not fiction; it is composed of facts and observations from my own experience over a period of five years. This period includes the years of World War II, beginning a year before Pearl Harbor — when I was fresh-caught in San Diego, and ending near the close of 1945 — after having enjoyed “my home sweet home” in Coronado for several months.

The first part of the book is designed to provide a background for the three years behind barbed-wire, which is the heart of my story. Although this is not a travelogue, I have tried in the first chapters to picture the chaplain in different and varied situations, with which most people may not be familiar.

Although this is a serious book, I did not want it to be too morbid or grim and have gone out of my way to tell of amusing incidents…as well as those more touching…and some which had to be quite morbid and grim.

This book is not designed to be history. Although I have used facts rather than fiction, and have tried to be accurate, I have not engaged completely in the kind of research characteristic of a PhD dissertation. Any mistakes –of omission, as well as commission — are of the head, rather than the heart, you may be assured.

It may seem to some that at times I have been pretty hard on our captors; maybe I have been hard, but I trust that I have been fair, which I have aimed to be. If I didn’t dislike the expression, I would say “I have told it like it was”. The fact is, an even more brutally realistic picture could have been drawn.

This account has been written in appreciation of my fellow prisoners of war, and primarily for my family and friends, without whom I would not have been able to tell the story.

to Twin Sister 1942

Well, sister dear, here’s another year
To add to the ones gone by
It seems so strange away out here
Where I can’t expect a reply

I’m glad we were able to be with you
Last year – in your beautiful home
And I hope we can repeat it, too,
When another birthday shall come

There’s so much a fellow would like to say
To a twin as swell as you –
I haven’t the chance now – but I pray
For this thing to soon be through

I remember so much of days gone by
When we were kids together,
and a home like ours is a tie
Which nothing can ever sever

I remember, even, the pre-school days
when we used to play a lot
We were then alike in my ways
And a lot of attention we got

– I remember, too, when we went to school
on Sunday 0 and during the week,
And how we learned the golden rule
and other knowledge to seek

But as the years rolled swiftly by
– as they always seem to do
There seemed less & less a tie,
But I’ll always be tied to you
[continue reading…]

Rosie Birthday 1942

I’m thinking more than ever today
Of the one who has been so true
Before the day’s over – I just want to say,
“Happy Birthday”, my dearest, to you.

I look at your pictures on my table
(they’ve become so real to me)
I compare them – but I’m not able
Fifteen years difference to see

I may be biased – but I’ll always say –
As from the first I’ve maintained –
That you’re years younger – anyway,
Than the age that you’ve attained

It doesn’t seem sixteen years now
since I “Popped” the question to you
But the years roll by so “I reckon as how”
We’ll have to admit that it’s true

I haven’t always been able to get
the things you deserve – so nice
But I’ll make it up – to some extent – yet,
I won’t need this experience twice

What a strange year – all the way through,
but later, I’m sure, we’ll see
That the real things in life are quite few
And how thankful we should be

I’m thankful for you, sweetheart, tonight,
And I hope a good birthday you’ve had
And even though it doesn’t seem “right”
Being apart can’t keep us sad

so – “Many Happy Returns of the day,”
And may I be there next year –
To see you smile & hear you say,
“Oh , isn’t it wonderful dear”

Poem for Mother’s 75th Birthday – June 27 1942

Mother, dear, when I last “wrote” you
I had hoped to see you soon,
And now upon your birthday, too,
It would be such a boon

But I have stuck it out all right,
And I pray that you are well,
And now I think the time’s in sight
when these things I can tell.

I’ve had to miss 2 birthdays now,
But I hope to be there next year
And I still can’t help believe somehow
that the time is drawing near

In spite of all the war & strive
I hope your birthday’s keen –
Because of this: – that all your life
You have so wonderful been

I’m glad that I’m the only one
who has to be away
and I hope there will be one
Next year on this same day

I’ve thought of you so very much
This year that I’ve been away,
And I am longing for your touch
I think of you night and day

So many things come to my mind
With so much time for thought
that through such thought I often find
How things by you were bought

So many things have taken place
In these seventy-five years so long
– some things are easier for me to face
Since you have been so strong
[continue reading…]

Mother’s Day 1943 – Poem


M stands for mothers everywhere
O is for others, for whom she lives
T is for her tenderness so rare
H is for her heart, from which she gives
E is for her eagerness to share
R is for righteousness divine,
Which causes her to bear
Her burdens – and yours, & mine

—To My Mother —

Mother, dear, I’m quite sure you know
That this hasn’t had to wait
For mother’s Day (I love you so)
For I think of you early and late

this is always the hardest day
Of all the days of the year
To be away from you – I pray
that a swell reunion is near

You’ve done for me so many things
No other could ever have done
Your prayers, I know have been the springs
To refresh your unworthy son

You’ve been eager for me to know
The right – and you have always prayed
In this experience through which I go
I find that I’m not afraid

I’m sorry I’ve caused you added pain
but I’ve done what I thought was right
And if I should never see you again
– We’ll be united – by God’s might

Condon’s Birthday 1942

Another Warrant we have with us
– A Mr. Condon by name –
And though he, too is an ornery cuss,
We like him just the same

this Condon is a boisterous stiff –
And they tell me he likes to shout
“You so an d sos just call me cliff
or I’m liable to knock you out”

But most of his fighting is with his voice
(He also talks with his hands)
So, when his friends are given a choice
They disregard his commands

One thing about Cliff is always true
– He’s always ready for a ‘spute –
The choice of sides is up to you
He’s a philosopher of repute

Though he might possess a rough edge or two
He’s not really a bad sort of guy –
He’s seldom “way up” & never blue
and usually has reasons why

so, since we’ve had to be in here
With somebody – more or less
We’ve been very glad to have Cliff near
– (on his birthday we must confess)

So, many happy returns of the day
To Condon – the great big stiff –
And while to some he may be “C.K.”
You so & sos” can call him Cliff

To Rosie on Mother’s day

Well, Rosie, Dear, I must write another
Though I think of you every day,
This is a special time for mother
– And I have somewhat to say

First of all, I’ve come to know
(I learn the hard way I guess)
How stupid & how awfully slow
I’ve been – through this distress

How songs & husbands can be so dumb
When mothers & wives are so swell!!
Surely our spirits must be numb –
Our appreciation not to tell

As with other beautiful things no doubt
– sometimes you must get away
to see what they’re all about
With you – what a price to pay!

But I’m trying to think more of the day
When I can be with my own
And I also hope these days will pay
– in that I’ve wiser grown
[continue reading…]

Mud – poem

Now have you ever been to a place
That always seems to be muddy
Especially when you have to chase
Like mad to a dark brown “study”

We’ve made mud pies as a little kid,
I’ve seen mud in the brickyard,
I used to like it as all of us did
But to leave it wouldn’t be hard

Of course we don’t have places to go
but we do have to get to the “head”
Although you must also know
At night there’s a “can” instead

In spite of all of our engineers
And all of our ditches and stuff
Even long after the rain disappears
The going is pretty rough

You wonder as you slide around
And you grope through the blackness of night
Now you’ll keep your butt off the ground
And sometimes you don’t do it, quite

It’s bad enough during daylight hours
When you can see and not just feel
But at night it taxes a Chaplain’s powers
And his feelings are hard to conceal

so when a sunshiny day comes round
as they do every now and then
Considerable happiness can be found
Even though you’re in the pen

Even at the risk of preaching a bit
As a preacher must always do,
I’m sure there’s no doubt about it
That mud has a lesson for you

No matter how much mud there may be
Bright sunshine will always replace
The sloppiest stuff you ever did see
If life, with the right spirit you face

So bring on the sunshine as soon as you please
although we can take mud for a while,
But I can assure you we’ll feel more at ease
When we ask in the light of your smile

Poem – 16th Anniversary

Well, Rosie, dear, another year
Has past for us together –
So I must write away out here
Regardless of the weather

We’ve spent so little time apart
For Lo, these sixteen years
that being away ‘most breaks my heart
And I ‘spose it brings you tears

but it also brings us mem’ries
Of days that mean so much
that though in far off countries
we dream of them and such

So I’ve been dreaming of the day
When we can live anew
And do a lot of things the way
We always used to do

And I am planning lots of things
That I hope that we can do
In fact I’m sure we’ll live like kings
As we start again – we two
[continue reading…]

Christmas 1943 Poem

Christmas Poem – 1943

You ask what Christmas means to me
this year when away from home
When it is so hard to see
There are better days to come

We’ve been away from home so long
Three years for most of the men
It isn’t easy to be strong
– in fact it seems like ten

For Christmas is the time of year
When we long to be with our own
And even the strongest shed a tear
Because we’ve homesick grown

The memory of former days
When we were all together
causes us to feel it pays
To ride out stormy weather

For some things we will ne’er forget
And Christmas is the best
the things like this haven’t failed yet
To help us meet the test
[continue reading…]

by Chaplain Earl Brewster USN (Ret.)
Sketches by Rosella M. BrewsterBarbed Wire Chaplain - Round Trip to Hell


There I was — stranded on that waterfront — looking out across the bay, which had become a graveyard for ships and men. My own ship had fled the bombings, barely getting away alive and unhurt. So I had no “home”, no friends, nowhere to go. I was an orphan in a strange land, and felt something like a lost soul must feel on judgment day. It was almost a feeling of nakedness …in a frightened city … beginning to be ravaged by the hell of war. I was really “up the creek”, with no visible means of propulsion.
Barbed Wire Chaplain sketch by Rosella Brewster

Never had I experienced such a feeling of futility and frustration. How had I gotten here? What was I doing here? And what was going to happen to me now? In order to offer answers to these questions, and many others, the following true story has been written.



After the final surrender of the Philippines, I was interned at the 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. 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 chaplains 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.”

Col. Jack Hawkins USMC, (Ret.)

[continue reading…]

Chapter II

Pearl Harbor Bound

The two weeks between my detachment and reporting for new duty were accounted for by delay and proceed time, plus travel time. This gave me some time with my family, and to adjust to a new situation. Reporting to the District Transportation office, I found that passage to Pearl Harbor would be available in a Navy tanker toward the end of the month, so I was tentatively scheduled to be aboard. There was virtually no air transportation available in those days. During this period between duty stations we took a couple of short trips, visited relatives and friends in Southern California, and had visits in Coronado from friends and relatives, including my Mother and Rosella’s folks from Long Beach. Also there were “bull-sessions” with other chaplains, including my friend Ray Cook, whom I have mentioned previously. So, these were busy days, in spite of the fact that I was free of duty for two weeks.

During these days in San Diego and Coronado we renewed our acquaintance with the two veteran chaplains I have mentioned as having been instrumental in my becoming a chaplain. These were chaplains who had entered the Navy during World War I, and had over twenty years service when I went on active duty. The late H. S. Dyer was District Chaplain of the 11th Naval District, which embraces the Southwestern part of the country, with headquarters in San Diego. Chaplain Dyer’s health became impaired during World War II, forcing him into early retirement not long after the war’s end. After living in his country home in Virginia for a number of years he died several years ago. Harrel Dyer was a good friend, and I, among many others, benefited greatly from our association — from his wisdom and experience. He was one of the keenest men I have known.

The late R. W. Truitt was the other veteran chaplain whom I had met at church conferences, etc. while in the pastorate in the thirties. During my time at N.T.S. he was attached to the U.S.S. Saratoga, one of the early flat-tops, based in San Diego. Razzie and I became good friends during these few months, and our families visited back and forth during the war, since they, too, lived in Coronado, which was still quite a cozy place. Mrs. Truitt and Rosella became real good friends. Nan now lives at Rossmoor in Walnut Creek, California, where we see her frequently, since we live less than five miles apart. Nan Truitt is just as unique (in her own way) as her more widely known husband, and we enjoy her friendship. Razzie Truitt, well and favorably known throughout the Navy, was one of the most unique “characters” I have ever known. I use this expression in its highest sense, for his keen wit and friendliness were of the most genuine nature, born of a deep love of God, and for people.

T.I. Kirkpatrick, another veteran chaplain, whom I met during my “boot” training, was Senior Chaplain at the Marine Base (next door) during this period. Tom will be mentioned later on.

G.L. (Clede) Markle is still another veteran chaplain, who entered the Navy several years after the first World War. Clede was Senior Chaplain at the Air Station on North Island for some time while I was at N.T.S., later having been transferred to the U.S.S. Lexington, sister ship to the Saratoga. The Markles also lived in Coronado, where Mrs. Markle (Eloise) and Rosella became close friends, spending considerable time together while their husbands, together with Razzie Truitt, were overseas. So, these three chaplains’ wives were able to exchange stores, although Rosella didn’t hear much from me for most of the time. One of the most amusing (but potentially tragic) war stories I have heard came from Clede Markle as he was home for a few days between duties after the sinking of the “old Lex” during the Battle of the Coral Sea. My wife, who heard the story first hand, tells it something like this: “After the gallant old ship had been attacked and mortally damaged, Chaplain Markle remained aboard helping others in every way he could until he was among the last to leave the ship. As he prepared to go overboard he saw a pair of good binoculars that had been discarded at the last minute. Clede had always wanted some good binoculars so he picked them up, put the strap around his neck and jumped into the water. As he swam to get away from the sinking ship he soon found that the binoculars were not only excess baggage, but they almost became his undoing, as the motion of the water wound the strap around his neck tighter and tighter.” I am glad to report that he did survive, and lived to tell the story. The Markles now live in beautiful Carmel Valley. I have thought of using this story as the basis for a sermon on “Thou Shalt Not Covet.” That was not really covetousness, of course; all of us are apt to do strange things in emergencies. This evidently is especially true when a ship has almost literally been blown from under your feet. I have never been called on to undergo this experience, but have been in some pretty rough seas, and in a violent storm aboard the last ship I was assigned to, the U.S.S. Pocono, flagship of the Amphibious Forces of the Atlantic.

USS Pocono cap

Ed. – This cap kindly sent from  Joseph Mcelwee (crew of the USS Pocono 1957-1959)

We were bound for our home port of Norfolk, Va., after a six month Mediterranean Cruise. We left Gibraltar expecting to be home in no more than ten days, but it was seventeen long days before we reached the safety of our home port. With the exception of the first day out from Gibraltar and the last day from Norfolk we were in a constant storm, which never let up — some days were just rougher than others. The ship rolled and pitched considerably more than it was built to withstand, and at times we didn’t know what might happen. During one twenty-four hour period we scarcely made any headway at all. Under these conditions there is naturally a tendency to become tense and irritable; what with not being able to eat or sleep properly, and feeling a little “woozy”. One night the ship was rolling so much that without the guard rail on my bunk I would have rolled off onto the deck of my stateroom. So, I took my mattress off, put it athwart-ship on the deck, and was able to sleep a little better.

I have presented the above background in order to tell you one of my favorite true stories. Aboard the Pocono it was my custom each morning at 0800, as the ship’s personnel had been mustered, to get on the ship’s loudspeaker and offer a very brief prayer. The beginning was something like this: “This is the chaplain inviting all hands to stand fast for our morning prayer.” Then I would offer a prayer of just a few sentences. I would try to vary the prayers as much as possible, so one day during the storm I asked all hands to join me in repeating the Lord’s Prayer, and it was reported to me that most of them did join in. During a storm all hands are required to wear a life-jacket when on the upper decks of the ship. Some time later in the day a “salty” boatswain’s mate, a friend of mine, was observed by a mutual friend still wearing his life-jacket down in the “bowels” of the ship. So, he was asked how cone he was still wearing his life-jacket down below. “Look, Pal”, he replied, “When things get so bad that that chaplain of ours has to have help with his prayin’, man, I ain’t takin’ no chances!”.

In mentioning the fellowship among chaplains, I want to emphasize the camaraderie that exists among Navy Chaplains. Perhaps this mutual fellow-feeling among all denominations and faiths was more pronounced when the Navy had a hundred Chaplains before the war than when there were nearly three thousand at the peak of the war in 1945.  A motto of the Chaplain’s Corps, as far as our working together is concerned, is “Cooperation without compromise.” This has reference to difference of belief and practices among denominations and faiths.

During the war qualified representatives of religious groups without ordained ministers (such as Mormons and Christian Scientists) were commissioned as chaplains. While each chaplain retains his religious affiliation, and must receive periodic endorsement from his religious body, he works with other chaplains and personnel, and endeavors to see that the religious needs of all groups are met. One physical evidence of working together is found in a number of our chapels built with three-way revolving altars, each segment of which is “rigged” behind the scene for a particular service, and turned accordingly.

One of the stories Chaplain Gatlin used to tell the recruits in one of our early indoctrination lectures to Protestants might illustrate the fact that we are not primarily interested in denominations, as such, as far as our work is concerned. The story is that. In filling out one of many questionnaires, Bill and John (from the same town) were sitting next to each other. When they came to the question of church affiliation, Bill looked over and noticed that John had put down “Methodist”, and asked him why he had indicated he was a Methodist. John’s reply was that he couldn’t spell Presbyterian!

I have known of very little, if any, proselytizing (or stealing sheep) by Navy chaplains, which reminds me of another incident while on duty at Parris Island, South Carolina, soon after World War II. At that time the Chaplains center was the distribution point for magazines all over the Base. In charge of this (under the direction of the Recreation Department) was a young ex G.I., a native of South Carolina, whose name was Charlie. I never learned his last name, but I used to enjoy chatting with Charlie, who lived with his wife in a little town near our Island Base. Subsequently Charlie’s brother-in-law came to be the pastor of a small church in this little town, and our Charlie became the superintendent of the Sunday School. He was quite proud of this honor, so, I would make it a point each Monday to ask him how his Sunday School was doing. His usual reply was something to the effect that it was doing fine,and growing right along. After a while Charlie had two or three weeks leave. When he got back I asked him whether his Sunday School was still growing. “Oh yes, Chaplain,” he replied, “It’s growin’ by leaps and bounds!” “By the way, Charlie,” I replied, “You’re not doing any proselytizing over there, are you?” “Why Chaplain,” he replied, “You ought to be ashamed of yourself; you know I’m a married man … I stay home every night!” Well, I haven’t seen Charlie in more than twenty years, but I suppose he still thinks the chaplain was awful for even suggesting such a thing — unless he has consulted a dictionary.

The tanker on which I was booked for passage was the U.S.S. Kaskaskia, and we were to sail on Saturday, morning, 28 June. Navy tankers are named for rivers, and this ship was given the name of a river in downstate Illinois. This was to be my first cruise at sea. The only time I had left harbor had been on a couple of excursions on smaller ships to Catalina Island, a distance of twenty miles or so from San Pedro Harbor. The Kaskaskia was anchored in San Diego Bay, and I went aboard by water taxi a time or two before the end of the week to take my gear aboard, and to orient myself a little bit. Since there were to be only a half-dozen passengers aboard we were assigned nice, spacious quarters on this ship, which was one of the tankers recently built for the Navy, with a capacity of 125,000 barrels. Passengers were required to be aboard the night before sailing (so that nobody would “miss the boat”), so I went aboard late Friday afternoon, had supper (good chow) in the officers’ mess, saw the movie “Escape”, and spent my first night at sea in San Diego harbor.

After shoving off the next morning, as we were leaving San Diego bay and rounding Point Loma, I remember San Diego and Coronado fading from view as the ship headed West. Rosella and our boys were on the beach at Coronado, and although we were not able to see each other they could see the ship fading into the distance, not knowing when we would be reunited. We had never been separated for more than a couple of weeks since our marriage in 1926. It doesn’t take you long, under such circumstances, to develop a little feeling of homesickness, which, in some respects, is as bad as seasickness.

The Skipper of the tanker asked me if I would conduct a service aboard on Sunday morning, and I had told him I would be glad to. I enjoyed my breakfast and dinner on Saturday, but during the afternoon I developed an aversion to food, and had to send word to the Skipper that I was afraid to try to conduct that service Sunday morning. This was rather embarrassing, and I was in for some good-natured kidding, but those who had been seasick knew that it’s not “just in the mind.” So, I spent a rather quiet Sunday, and by Monday morning had recovered my sea legs and was able to enjoy the rest of the cruise. I began to realize what a “big pond” that old Pacific really is. Although the sea was not especially rough the first few days out, it began to be quite calm as we approached the area of balmier weather. The nights at sea, even in the dark of the moon, are something to make a believer out of the rankest so-called atheist. I stood in awe as never before as I looked up at the moon and the stars, hearing only the swish of the water as the ship’s bow plowed through the mighty sea. The thought of the smallness of man and the greatness of God Almighty came to me through such scripture as: “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handiwork,” (Ps. 19:1). “When I consider Thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which Thou has ordained; what is man that Thou art mindful of him, and the Son of Man that Thou visitest him? For Thou has made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honor.” (From Psalm 8).  Also in the Genesis story of Creation (Chapter I) we find that the sea is mentioned prominently:

“And God called the firmament Heaven,
The dry land earth,
and the gathering together of the waters, called He seas.
And God saw that it was good.”

A verse in another Psalm has not only helped me greatly, but many years ago I used it as the basis for a High School Baccalaureate sermon: “They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters … these see the works of the Lord, and His wonders in the deep.” The subject of the sermon was “Glorious Gamblers”, which, I think, at least got their attention. It is not for me to say whether or not I continued to hold them, but I don’t believe any of the lads and lasses went to sleep on me. The central thought, that I tried to drive home was that the real, meaningful, lasting prizes go only to those who have the faith to risk all for God and His children. After having been to sea I probably could have preached a better sermon on this theme than before I hadn’t ventured any farther than to Catalina Island.

Whenever I have been at sea, or looked out from the beach, I have remembered the Navy Hymn, which we often use to close our Divine services. Note the words to the first verse:

“Eternal Father, strong to save,
whose arm doth bind the restless wave,
Who bidd’st the mighty ocean deep.
Its own appointed limits keep;
O hear us when we cry to Thee
For those in peril on the sea.”

In spite of the roughness of many seafaring men, both in the Navy and in merchant vessels, many are men of faith — a faith bolstered by the mightiness and beauty of the sea and the heavens, and the realization that God’s all-powerful hand is behind it all. “In the beginning God created_____ .”

Our last night at sea (July 3) aboard the Kaskaskia, my diary reads, “Got ready to disembark early tomorrow morning. Sat out on deck in the moonlight, and wished Rosie were with me. We must take this cruise together sometime.” I might add that we did take that cruise together twenty years later. It was a luxury cruise on the SS Matsonia, and we enjoyed it immensely.



My diary continues on the 4th of July: “A 4th of July I should remember. Got up at 0530, and saw Diamond Head looming up before us. Had my first introduction to the Hawaiian Islands. They are different, to say the least — green hills arid beautiful cloud effects. We had to wait outside Pearl Harbor entrance for some time, but came in between 0900 and 1000. The different bases and ships are quite a sight. Sailed by the Lexington, docked to unload the 100,000/barrels of fuel at 1030. Holland’s boat came after me at 1100, and I had dinner aboard my own ship with Chaplain Bennett and a few other officers. Have been with Bennett all day. He is a fine fellow. We “cased” the ship and met some of the personnel. Tomorrow (Saturday) I will meet the Skipper and the Exec, and others. Bennett will be here over Sunday, which suits me fine. He took me out to Chaplain Twitchell’s home for supper, and we had a delightful time. Understand I will get to see Rosie and our boys before too long, which sounds swell.”

Before we get away from the happenings of the first day aboard my first ship, I must relate a parting incident. Aboard the Kaskaskia the Steward’s Mate assigned to me and my room was a very pleasant lad named Cook. Cook took real good care of me, and did a number of things beyond the call of duty. When the Holland’s boat came for me and my gear Cook carried all my “stuff”, including boxes of books, than which there is nothing heavier, from the ship to the dock. It was plenty warm, and Cook got a real work-out. Before he went back to the tanker I wanted to thank him, so I said: “Cook, I certainly do thank you for taking such good care of me, and for all the extra things you’ve done.” Cook’s reply was, “O, that’s O.K, Chaplain; think nothing of it, think nothing of it; you know, Chaplain, when I gets in trouble I’m gonna look you up.” Now Cook didn’t say “if” or “if and when”, but I don’t suppose he really planned to get in trouble. Maybe he realized (from previous experience) that he was accident prone, or something, and simply wanted to apply for some ecclesiastical insurance … just in case. I doubt if Cook subsequently got into as much trouble as did the Chaplain. I have never seen him again; I wish him well wherever he might be.

Martel Twitchell, who entered the Navy in 1937, was the Chaplain at the “sub” Base, where the Holland, a “sub” tender was tied up. Martel was very cordial to me and he and his wife Mamie, plus their two small children, were more than hospitable. I enjoyed visiting (and eating Mamie’s good cooking) in their home in Honolulu. We have remained good friends, our paths having crossed several times since the war. Martel retired as a Captain several years ago, reentered the pastorate, and now is serving a church not more than twenty miles from us in the San Francisco bay area. We are glad to be able to visit with them from time to time.

Turning to my diary again; “On Saturday, the 5th, I did meet the Holland’s Skipper, Captain Gregory, and the “Exec”, Commander Pendleton, plus others of the ship’s crew. Everyone gave me a good reception, which was a compliment to my predecessor. It is always nice to follow a man who was well-liked by those with whom he has worked.”

Continuing from the diary: “Chaplain Bennett (Sam) found on Saturday morning that he could leave for San Diego that evening, so he dashed around getting his things together in order to make it. I went with him in the afternoon to Honolulu, where he got his ticket and checked his baggage, etc. Then we went to the “Y”, where the Twitchells picked us up, and all of us went to the pier to see Sam off. I certainly do not blame Sam for not staying aboard the Holland longer; after all, he has a baby boy at his house, whom he hasn’t yet seen! I would have been just as anxious had 1 been in his place.”

It was after the war before I saw Sam again, but over the years we have had several tours of duty near enough to the Bennett’s that we have visited back and forth, becoming real good friends. After thirty years of Navy duty Sam retired as a Captain a couple of years ago, having entered the Navy’ in 1938, and now is the pastor of a little mountain church back of San Diego.

Back to the diary again: “Sun. July 6. My first Divine service aboard — quite a thrill, even though the attendance was small. Fried chicken dinner at Twitchell’s. A good dinner and a nice visit. Clede Markell was there, and we compared notes. Made calls on Chaplains Ackiss and Salisbury. Then met Chaplain Miller at the “Y” and went with him to the windward side of Oahu, for an evening service. Chaplain Miller (Thornton) took me to his home, where we had a nice “snack” and visit with his family. To my shipboard “home” rather late.”

A word about the three veteran chaplains mentioned above will probably be of interest. The late Chaplain Ernest Ackiss entered the Navy during World War 1 and served for more than thirty years; having held a number of important assignments along the way. He was Force Chaplain aboard USS INDIANAPOLIS in 1941. Chaplain Ackiss did valuable research work after the war at the Chaplains Division in Washington.

The late Chaplain Thornton Miller entered the Navy in 1920. He was District Chaplain at Pearl Harbor when I first met him, held responsible assignments, finishing his Naval career as a Rear Admiral.

The late Chaplain S. W. (Stan) Salisbury who became a Chaplain in 1921 was aboard the Battleship Pennsylvania when I first met him at Pearl Harbor in 1941. Having served in a number of responsible assignments, Stan became a Rear Admiral in 1949 and served his last tour of duty as Chief of Chaplains.

Well, now I was on my own aboard a strange ship (they were all strange to me), but already I had found that I was among friends, who were glad to help a “land-lubber” chaplain find his way around. I had found, even aboard the Kaskaskia, that this was not so easy for me to do, and it took me some time to become oriented in the Holland and other ships I served. At first I didn’t realize there were so many decks “down below.” It took some weeks to be sure what deck I was on, or whether I was facing “fore” or “aft”, or whether I was on the port or starboard side. Perhaps a slight tendency toward claustrophobia did not help, but after a while things began to fit into place, and I was able to find my way around pretty good. When I had any particular difficulty I just swallowed my pride and asked directions — as my wife has finally taught me to do out on the road. My aim was to get around the ship lot, and to become acquainted with the officers and men where they worked. Your “parishoners” like to feel that their chaplain is interested in them during the week — not just on Sunday. Some of the most meaningful contacts a chaplain makes are those so-called casual encounters he has as he circulates about his ship or station, becoming acquainted with the personnel. Of course, in the process they are “sizing up” the chaplain, too, and’are often pretty good at it. There are usually a few “customers” who will soon try to “work”, or test, a new chaplain — to see whether he’s an easy mark, or whether he expects people to help themselves, if they can. The word seems to get around, and usually the chaplain is known for what he really is. And that is the way most of us like it.

I am rather proud of myself for something I learned all by myself after reporting to the Holland. I got to figuring that it just might look as if the chaplain might know where he was going, and why, if he had something important-looking in his hand as he went about the ship. So I always made it a point to have a legal-sized envelope, or something, to carry around, and tried to look real important on such occasions.

A chaplain is assigned an office of sorts, which often is connected with the ship’s library, which traditionally is supervised by the chaplain. To man the library and office he is assigned a yeoman, who, if he is the right kind, can be a lot of help to the chaplain. When the Chaplain is “circulating”, a good yeoman can represent him, and also get in touch with him when it is necessary — especially in case of emergencies, etc. A good chaplain should not be found in his office too much — unless he has a desk job, as such. There is a certain amount of paper work to be done during office hours, but a chaplain’s reading and study usually is accomplished in his quarters, after hours. Of course, different types of duty largely determine a chaplain’s schedule. For instance, in the case of hospital duty, he should be found most of the time visiting and counseling the sick in the wards. His yeoman will need to know where he can be reached at all times during the day, and at night he is on call (by the duty officer) in emergencies.

A case in point in relation to hospital emergencies occurred while I was Senior Chaplain at Great Lakes Naval Hospital in the middle fifties. One day the Chief Surgeon called me and asked if I could come over right away — that they had a case he thought I might be able to help with. When I got there he told me they had a patient in the dependents ward, whose life was in danger, as well as that of the baby, if she didn’t undergo a caesarian section soon, since there were critical complications. He also told me they were confident that if the operation were performed immediately the lives of both would be saved. The problem was that she would not submit to the operation without the approval of her husband, who was on duty in the far east, and could not be reached soon enough. So, the chaplain hopefully was the catalyst. Upon entering the patient’s room (after asking the good Lord to give me the right words to say) the first thing I noticed was that she was black. I was glad, for it seems that have always had a certain empathy with most negroes. After introducing myself, I pulled up a chair, sat real close to the bed, placed my hand on hers and told her quietly and sincerely that I knew the doctors involved, that they were fine surgeons, and that she could have absolute confidence in what they had told her. I told the young lady, also, that I was sure her husband would want her to go ahead with the operation — under the circumstances. I further assured her that I would advise a close relative the same as I had advised her. After I had been at the patient’s bedside for no more than five minutes she smiled and said, “Well, Chaplain, if you think this is the right thing to do, you tell the doctors to go ahead, and I’m sure the Lord will take care of me and my baby.” Before I left, I offered a short prayer of trust and assurance, asking God’s guidance for the doctors. The surgery was performed that morning, and that afternoon I was notified that it was successful, both mother and baby having been spared. The next day I called on this happy lady again, and offered up a prayer of thanksgiving for the mother and baby, and for the father, too. I firmly believe that God uses human instruments (not only doctors, ministers and scientists, but so-called ordinary people) to help perform His miracles. We are told that “we are laborers together with God … His fellow-workers.”

The foregoing incident was not related to glorify the chaplain, but to indicate how a chaplain really comes in handy at times. This incident could, have involved another chaplain, but I was there, and had the opportunity of serving. Although the chaplain represented the church, my services probably would have been offered in vain, and my advice would not have been accepted, had not this lady not only been a church goer, but also a dedicated Christian — and sometimes there is a big difference. It was not that she distrusted doctors, but that she had had more association with ministers and needed reassurance. More and more doctors, both in military and civilian practice, are recognizing the value, and even necessity, of doctors and ministers working together, and this works both ways.

Many people traditionally have had the idea that a hospital is a place people go to primarily to die. This is no longer as true as it used to be, except that there are those (probably mostly among the elderly and disadvantaged) who still are extremely apprehensive about being admitted to a hospital, or about submitting to surgery. This applies not only to blacks, but to whites as well. So, we have to take this into consideration when dealing with certain people.

Before we leave the hospital scene perhaps another aspect of such duty that could be of interest is the chaplain’s relationship to the Neuro- psychiatric Department. Doctors and ministers in this field (both civilian and military) are working together more and more in this broad and important category. At Great Lakes we chaplains had a working relationship with our doctors in this Department, and I believe our working together resulted in great benefit to a number of patients. A couple of us chaplains regularly attended (at the invitation of the Senior Psychiatrist) the seminars at the N.P. section, where we heard individual cases discussed. We were free to enter into the discussion, and often did. We chaplains, sometimes as a result of our interviews, referred individuals to the Psychiatrists for further consultation and possible treatment. It is a wise chaplain who knows the point beyond which he should not try to go in some cases. After having demonstrated love and concern for such individuals they can be referred to the Psychiatrist, together with the findings of the chaplain. Some times the chaplain will have further contact with the patient in the ward, at the suggestion of the doctors. This is a two-way street, and the doctors often referred their N. P. patients to us for consultation. One of our chaplains held a brief weekly Divine Service in a room at the end of the N.P. ward. The patients were free to attend if they chose.

We do not favor any compulsion, or captive congregations. These services were the result of a joint suggestion by the doctors and chaplains, and it was felt that this was a worth-while endeavor.

Summing up the relationship between ministers and psychiatrists, I would have this brief suggestion for ministers: We should read as widely as possible in the field of mental illness – especially in the realm of religious factors in such illness, and become conversant with the basic terms used, while making an effort also to see the patient as the doctors see him. Many Seminaries are offering courses in this field, and there are many available seminars, and more and more helpful books in this important field are being published. The one big hazard for ministers is that it is so easy for some of us (consciously or not) to presume to become “experts” in this whole field. Let us keep in mind that we are not doctors, and pray the Lord that we might have enough common sense to realize it.

I would not presume to advise the Psychiatrists, but I have noted among some of them an apparent lack of any meaningful realization of the importance of religious factors in mental illness — and other kinds of illness — for that matter. We can’t expect every doctor to be devoutly religious (thank God for those who are), but it is not too much to expect them to at least take into consideration the patient’s religious background, including his religious faith, and the particular branch within that faith. Otherwise, I fail to see how some cases can be fully evaluated, diagnosed and treated. It would seem that medical training should include more than apparently is presently the case. So much for that. Be assured, I do appreciate doctors, and we get along fine together.

I am not trying to enhance the chaplain’s importance when I say that Commanding Officers of military hospitals (and heads of more and more civilian hospitals) would be quite reluctant to undertake the administration of their institutions of healing without the ready availability of the representatives of religion. For that matter I have known of more than,  one ship’s Skipper who would not sail without a chaplain aboard.

Although chaplains (a very few) go back to the very first beginnings of our Navy, there was no appreciable number before World War I,  and then there were no more than two hundred during that conflict, the number of Navy chaplains (mostly reserves) diminished along with the reduction of Navy personnel, and even a year before Pearl-Harbor there were only about one hundred on duty) practically all of these were regular Navy. While the chaplains who served before that time served faithfully and well, laying a firm foundation for the future, it was not until World War II, when the number of Navy chaplains reached almost three thousand, that the chaplains corps was adequately recognized, and chaplains more generally accepted by officers and men alike. This does not mean that everybody in the Navy is always enthusiastic about chaplains, or a particular chaplain. Sometimes we are only tolerated, if not disliked. But, by and large, I think, there is a general recognition of the place of the chaplain in the Navy, and an appreciation of his work — if he does his job.

There have been, and still are, “chaplains and chaplains” … the same as with people in other walks of life. I firmly believe, however, that in the long run chaplains, as well as other ministers, will receive respect if and as they merit it. We won’t receive, and shouldn’t expect to have, respect and admiration unless we ourselves earn it. Such recognition does not come automatically with a clerical collar, a uniform, or rank. We chaplains and other ministers have a lot to live up to, since our opportunities for serving are so great and challenging. We should be eternally grateful for those who have paved the way, making it possible for us to carry on the work they have begun. God have mercy on our souls if we betray that honor and trust! Amen.

My first week aboard “my ship” was a busy one, of course. My time was largely spent in getting acquainted with things and people aboard. The ship was undergoing a periodic overhaul when I reported for duty, so, not everything was exactly in place, and naturally there was some confusion, especially in certain parts of the ship. But this was to be expected, and I hardly noticed the difference. This was partly because I hadn’t been aboard before the overhaul was undertaken, and also because I am so notoriously “non-mechanically inclined”. It is not that I am definitely disinterested in things mechanical, but that I have always had other interests.   I do like people, and seem to have a certain affinity for most individuals. There are some persons however that I like better than others, and no doubt there are plenty of people who might not “prefer” me,  either; but I hope there are not too many in that category.  At any rate, I made an honest effort to become acquainted with things aboard, while finding it required no special strain to get acquainted with the ship’s personnel. Not even a gregarious chaplain succeeds in learning the names of five hundred people overnight, but I am anxious to learn what makes people tick, if I can. In this get-acquainted process they (those interested) were probably looking the new chaplain over, too.

The Holland was built and commissioned in the middle twenties. She ‘may not have been the most beautiful, sleek, speedy ship around, but she was a work-horse, having been built to supply the needs of her squadron of submarines while ashore and at sea. She had a clipper bow, which enabled her, in earlier years, to hoist the small subs of an earlier day up and under this concave bow, where they could be serviced and repaired. Of course, this feature no longer was of use because of the much heavier modern subs, but the bow was a distinctively noticeable and identifying feature, which added to the beauty of the old girl. As is probably somewhat well known, no matter how much a sailor might cuss his current ship while aboard, and call it “an old bucket of bolts”, etc. when ashore it is the “best d— ship in the Navy”.  If anybody undertakes to dispute that allegation there is almost certain to be an altercation, which sometimes winds up in a “donnybrook” — or just a plain old free for all, or even a brawl.

The Holland was not a huge ship, by modern standards, but housed everything from a blacksmith shop to a small instrument shop. She carried all kinds of supplies and equipment, including torpedoes for her subs. So, she was not a fast ship, but quite seaworthy. In fact, she was so seaworthy that even this chaplain can’t remember having been seasick aboard her while cruising ten or twelve thousand miles in the pacific — and that’s something.

The Holland had a pretty good baseball team, and I was able to get acquainted with most of the players, none of whom were big-leaguers, but had played sand-lot ball, and in High School, etc. They loved to play, and it wasn’t always easy — because of work and watch schedules, but they usually found a way. They played teams from other ships and from shore-based units in the area. It was hard to draw up a firm schedule very far ahead and be sure of keeping it, because of ship movements and transfers of personnel. But “we” had fun, and it was a good outlet. The Navy places a great deal of emphasis on recreational activities.

During my first week at Pearl Harbor I met some other chaplains for the first time. The late Chaplain W. A. (Bill) Maguire, who was then Chaplain of the Pacific Fleet, entered the Navy in 1917, and retired in 1946, after’ a long and distinguished career. I had heard of Chaplain Maguire while in San Diego, and was glad of the opportunity of meeting him. I saw him again several times in 1946 when he was 11th Naval District Chaplain in San Diego. He retired a few months later and died suddenly on a trip to London seven or eight years after that. I was able to attend a Requiem Mass for him in the Roman Catholic Cathedral in San Diego.

Chaplain R. C. (Ray) Hohenstein, who was aboard the battleship California at this time, entered the Navy a year before I reported for duty. Ray has the distinction of being the only chaplain to have been at Pearl Harbor at the beginning of hostilities in World War II, and also at Tokyo Bay for the surrender. Over the years Ray and I had some nearby duty, and I value his friendship. Ray retired two or .three years ago, and now has a responsible position with the Lutheran Church, with headquarters in Washington, D.C.

The late Chaplain Tom Kirkpatrick, whom I met previously at the Marine Base in San Diego, was now aboard the battleship Arizona. Tom did not have his family with him, and I enjoyed being aboard the Arizona several times, and having him aboard the Holland on a couple of occasions. Tom Kirkpatrick was one of the finest Christian gentlemen I have known. A few years after the war we had the privilege of living only a block- or so from Genevieve, his widow, and Tom, Jr., their son.

On Saturday night of my first week aboard I visited Chaplain S. [ed. Chaplain H. Cerf Straus] (whom I had “under/my wing” in San Diego) and his “Happy Hour” at the Armed Forces “Y” in Honolulu. He greeted me as a “long-lost brother”,and I “just had” to get up on the stage, where he introduced me as though I were the Chief of Chaplains, or some other V.I.P. In the process he proudly referred to himself as “a Brewster-trained man”. I was fortunate in being there that particular night, since most of the entertainment consisted of a real, old- fashioned family Hula show, which featured one large family portraying their way of life by means of the various Hula rituals. This involved every member of the family — from the youngest grandchildren through the oldest  grandparents. It was really quite a revelation, and so different from the usual concept of the Hula. In the few months that Chaplain S. [ed. Chaplain H. Cerf Straus] had been out there he had become unusually well-acquainted with people and things — so, he proved to be quite a source of information.

In the few months I was in the area, thanks to the thoughtfulness of chaplains and a few other people, who were generous with their cars, I was not only able to see different parts of Honolulu, but also different parts of the island of Oahu. The sugar cane and pineapple fields were something quite different to an old California boy. The Mormon Temple is a sight to behold, and was well worth stopping for. The Pali provides one of the most spectacular views you will find anywhere.

A memorable picnic was held for chaplains at one of the beautiful beaches on the Island. In contrast to the beaches on the California coast, the water is so warm in the islands that sometimes it is almost enervating. The swimming here, however, didn’t fail to sharpen our appetites for the good “chow” the ladies had brought for the picnic supper. In addition to the feasting there was story telling and singing. Whenever chaplains (and other ministers) get together, a good, jolly time is had by all! The one ingredient that would have made the evening complete would have been to have had Rosie and the boys along. As I mentioned before, though, it would be but a matter of weeks until I would get to see them, since around the first of September, after overhaul, dry-docking and trial runs, we were scheduled for an “R 5 R” (rest and recreation) cruise to San Diego, where we would spend a couple of weeks. So, that was something really to look forward to.

I have mentioned our Divine Services aboard, and some people might be interested to know where we hold services aboard ships. That’s a good question, since we hold them wherever it seems to be most convenient. Shore stations almost always include separate chapels. Some of them, especially in isolated areas, include facilities for Sunday School, and carry on quite a church program for the Navy families in the area. Ships can hardly be built to include chapels, as such, but the newer ships usually have suitable space available. In the case of carriers; the hangar deck is often used. On some occasions, such as Easter Sunrise services, when the weather is good, the flight deck is a unique site for a large, community service. I have participated in such services in Norfolk and San Diego. In the Holland we used the recreation lounge for services when underway; when we were tied up we held services out on the main deck forward, weather permitting.

The question of where to hold services reminds me of an incident after we had gone into drydock. About the middle of the first week we were up out of the water, and everything was in disarray. I was in the Exec’s office when he brought up the question of whether or not a church service could be held the following Sunday. He said, “Chaplain, I don’t see how we’re going to be able to rig for church Sunday.” Knowing the situation I replied, “Well, Commander, maybe it’s a case of the ox being in the ditch.” His reply was, “Well, I don’t know about that, but I do know that we’re in a hell of a hole.” But we were able to hold our service. I have found some very meaningful services can be held under seemingly adverse conditions.

Where there are no permanent chapels, such as aboard ship, portable altars with suitable equipment, are provided. A special working party, usually under the supervision of the chaplain’s yeoman, is responsible for “rigging for church”, so that everything is in readiness when church-call is sounded on the bugle (usually a record) over the loud speaker system throughout the ship or station. In the Holland we had a piano in the re-creation lounge, while for services “up above” we had a little portable pump organ. To play these instruments Chaplain Bennett had hired (out of chapel funds) a young lady in her middle twenties, who lived in Honolulu with her parents. This member of our “team” certainly did not detract from our services, and may have been partially responsible for some of the attendance we enjoyed, for she was a striking looking girl. Like many of the people of Hawaii she was a blend of several races. Her father, who was a violin teacher in town, was mostly, if not altogether, Chinese, while her mother was of Hawaiian and Portuguese extraction. Their daughter was “tall, dark and handsome.” I might say that she was well-protected, since usually her fiancé either accompanied her to the ship, or met her after the service. Maybe he had been a sailor himself!

We had some interesting people, perhaps I could even say “characters”, aboard the ship, too. – One of the most colorful was our chief boatswain, a middle-aged chief warrant officer with enough seniority that his pay probably equaled that of the Exec., if not the Skipper’s. I can’t quit’e remember his name, but he was plenty Irish, so we’ll call him “Mr. Dooley”. He was not large, but he carried a lot of weight, because of the responsible nature of his job, his seniority, and the authority of his personality. Mr. Dooley, together with the first Lieutenant, was responsible for everything and everybody out on deck. The boats and all other equipment had to be in readiness for any eventuality at all times, and the personnel had to be trained to meet any emergency. Mr. Dooley knew his job, everybody knew that he knew it, and he performed it well.

The one incident that stands out in my mind in connection with Mr, Dooley occurred after our dry-dock period, and during our trial runs in Lahaina Roads. One day when deck drills were being conducted I was standing on the quarter-deck near Mr. Dooley, who was really in fine fettle as he “cracked the whip”. He was not a terribly profane man, but he could make himself heard and understood, which he did, as the men undertook to carry out their various assignments. Among the crew some (like the chaplain) had never been to sea, and naturally were inexperienced. But as I heard Mr. Dooley’s remarks, and saw such hopeless expressions on his face, I was practically forced to the conclusion that these lads just wouldn’t do! But after this session ended, Mr. Dooley turned to me and said, “Aw, Chaplain, they’re not so bad; they’ll probably do O.K. — in fact, they are a pretty good bunch of lads.” Mr. Dooley was something like some of the football coaches I have known and heard about — they don’t want their teams to become too overconfident.

Our Exec was easy enough to work with, although he wanted things done decently and in order. Most sailors will tell you that they prefer to work for a Skipper and Exec who are “hard but fair”. Our Exec was in this latter category. I was in his office one day when a junior officer was given orders to complete a certain assignment. This young officer was unwise enough to say, “Commander, when would you like to have this done?” The reply was, “Look, Lieutenant, I want it done yesterday!” It behooves a man in the Navy to learn very soon that orders are not to be carried out with “all deliberate speed”, but with all possible speed — if not “yesterday”.

The first lieutenant aboard is in charge of maintenance work, including repairs and painting. Our first lieutenant was a merchant marine officer, who had been called up (as many other valuable officers were) from the Naval Reserve. Mr. H. looked and acted the part of a man who was used to the -roughness of the sea. You got the idea from just looking at this burly guy that the rougher it was the better he liked it. He was a bit under six feet, weighed around two hundred twenty pounds, and was about forty years old. I didn’t get acquainted with Mr. H. as readily as with some of the other officers aboard — not that we avoided each other — but we just didn’t seem to have that much in common. He wasn’t a very talkative guy, but you had a feeling he was looking you over (maybe we were looking each other over) and that if and when he had something to say, he would say it. One night, after I had been aboard a couple of weeks or so, I had my first and last encounter with Mr. H. After a movie out on deck some of us drifted back into the ward room for a cup of coffee, or a drink of water — or to just “shoot the breeze” — before going to our quarters. I had gotten a drink from the “scuttlebutt”, and was standing with my back to the bulkhead when Mr. H. sauntered up’ in front of me, looked me over, and with no preliminary greeting, said, “Chaplain, you’re a big S.O.B., aren’t you?” Although he didn’t use just the foregoing initials, I supposed he meant the combined statement and question to be just a friendly get-acquainted greeting. I had known that the term among some people is used rather loosely and not seriously. However, I wasn’t brought up that way, and hadn’t become used to it … in fact, I never have. So, my reply to my “friend” was, “Well, Lieutenant, you’re not so little yourself (I was six feet and weighed two hundred, but not exactly as hard as nails), and I will take that as a complimentary, friendly greeting; but six months ago you would have had to have taken that back, or you would have had me to whip. I don’t like the term, and I will expect you not to use it again in my presence.” He did not exactly apologize (perhaps he didn’t really know how), but we got along O.K. after that. However, I wouldn’t leave you with the idea that we became “bosom buddies”, or anything like that. I do believe that he gained respect for me, and I didn’t lose any respect for him.

Perhaps I should explain to some the term “scuttlebutt”, which is  used in the Navy for a drinking fountain and for rumors. It seems that the term comes from the days of the old sailing vessels, when they didn’t have the nice fountains which squirt ice water into your mouth by pressing down on a “gismo” (term for anything for which you do not know the name) with either a finger or a foot. The old sailors had to go for their drinking water to a barrel amidships, where they would gather and “shoot the breeze” (tell sea-stories and start rumors), as they gathered round the “scuttlebutt”. A familiar question as you go about a ship or station is “What’s the latest scuttlebutt?”, or some rumor-monger will rush up and tell you he has the latest “scuttlebutt”. For some unknown reason, a lot of the lads seem to expect the Chaplain always to have the latest scuttlebutt. The chaplain’s usual reply is, “The chaplain is always the last one to get the word.”

The Commanding Officer of the Holland during this period was Captain “Nino” Gregory [ed. Captain Joseph Wesley Gregory]. If I ever knew the Skipper’s real given name, I have forgotten it, but his nickname, which is the Spanish “Nino”, meaning boy, was probably attached to him because of his rather small stature. You usually have more contact with the Exec than the Skipper, and I find I don’t remember too much about the latter gentleman — except the following incident. Before I reported aboard, tentative plans were being made for a big ship’s party. Such parties are held from time to time for the officers and men of a ship, and their families. This one (and they “allowed” me to get in on the planning and implementing) was to be an extra big affair. Some kind of anniversary was to be commemorated, and awards were to be made, so, we didn’t spare the horses. The scene of the party was the pool area at the sub base, which we decorated and lighted up like a Christmas tree.

Around the pool, tables were set up to be loaded with plenty of chow, and certain beverages, including coffee. I don’t recall whether or not there was any water on the menu.

Captain Gregory called me to his cabin a few days before our “shin-‘ dig”. You usually wonder, when you get such a call, “What have I done now,” or “what haven’t I done that I should have done? But, this was not that kind of call; the Skipper had a problem this time. He greeted me by saying, “Chaplain, I’ve got a problem I want you to help me with.” “Well Captain, I replied, “I’ll be glad to help you if I can.” “Well, you see,” he said, “They’ve got me down for a speech at this ship’s party we’re having, and I don’t know just how to go about preparing it; I’m not used to this speech making business. Now, you’ve had a lot of experience in this department, and I’d like for you to write this thing up for me.” We agreed that the speech should be about five minutes long, and I went to work putting-words into the Skipper’s mouth. After submitting a rough draft to him after a ‘ day or two, and getting his O.K. on it, I put the finishing touches to the speech; the Skipper memorized it word for word, gave it at the party in a pretty good voice, and got considerable applause. The party wound up with a lot of music and dancing, and a good time was had by all. So, you see, a chaplain is even a ghost writer on occasion — among many other things. Ship’s parties and other recreational activities provide an opportunity for personnel to meet members of one another’s families, and to become acquainted socially. This is good for the morale of everybody concerned, and is an area of special interest to the chaplain.

Speaking of morale I am reminded of an incident in San Diego after my retirement. I had been going to this little one-chair barber shop, which was run by an Italian-American by the name of Joe. It was in the summertime and I kept telling Joe to cut my hair shorter — not that I had enough to worry about. So, one day Joe decided to take me literally, and he really cut it short. It was the next thing to running the short clippers over my head. But I rather liked it, and so did my wife, and several friends also said it was quite becoming. Besides, now I didn’t have to worry about my hair getting “mussed-up” while driving, etc., and didn’t even have to carry a comb. So, when I went back to Joe’s the next time I was quite enthusiastic when he asked how I liked the short-short cut. My reply was, “Oh, I like it fine, my wife likes it, and my friends like it.” “Sure, Chaplain,” he replied, “It’s good for your morality.” “Then that settles it Joe, let’s keep it short; anything that’s good for my “morality” I need and want.” So, I’ve been wearing it short ever since.

One aspect of a Naval officer’s routine that I probably should have mentioned before is the matter of “duty” calls, which are a traditional custom of long-standing in the Navy. As soon as convenient after reporting aboard a ship or station junior officers and their wives are supposed to call at the homes of the senior officers of the command. These calls are to be made in the late afternoon — after working hours, and before the dinner hour, or on Sunday. Sometimes a senior officer will announce a regular “at home” time, indicating when you should call at his home’. In some cases a command party will be held at the officers club, with the stipulation that attendance will mean “all calls made and received”, which makes it simpler and easier for everybody concerned. When making calls, calling cards are left if the people are not at home, in which case the call is considered made. I have heard of cases where people made reasonably sure that no one was at home, and made some calls rather fast accordingly.

Only a few of the Holland’s officers had their families in Honolulu, so it wasn’t too much of a “chore” to make the calls indicated — even without a car at my disposal. Since the junior dental officer had not been aboard much longer than I, we decided to make our calls together. It was not too easy, since we were not familiar with the area, which is pretty large, including several miles of travel between Pearl Harbor and Honolulu. This involved taxis, public transportation, transfers, and getting caught in the rain a couple of times, but we found it quite interesting and edu-cational. In the process we learned our way around parts of Honolulu. When you make a game out of something that can be rather onerous it usually makes quite a difference. This applies not only to making duty calls in the Navy, but to many aspects of life.

I have mentioned, in passing, some of the duties, opportunities and privileges of a chaplain, but I suppose that it is not always easy for the layman to understand the relationship a chaplain has to the people with whom he is working. Some people jump to the conclusion that the chaplain must be a warmonger, since he is a part, of the military system. The Chaplain does not have an easy role to play, but as far as the military aspects of his role are concerned I have found no real difficulty. The chaplain is expected to be a minister first, and he will be respected as he governs himself accordingly. When a chaplain forgets this, and begins to think primarily in terms of the military, and proceeds to “throw his weight around”… then he loses his influence and the respect of officers and men alike. In spite of the complex role of the chaplain, I have coined the following very simple definition: “A chaplain is a commissioned clergyman who works with the officers — for the men.” This has helped me to remember my place, and to maintain it, I hope.

Several yeomen who were assigned to me in different situations have also been mentioned.’ If a chaplain is fortunate he may be assigned a young man of superior ability, who has a real interest in helping him in his office. Sometimes he has to fight to get the kind of man he feels he needs, rather than somebody that nobody else wants. I have had both kinds, and the only “fights” I have had in the Navy have been at this point. During the Korean war I was staff chaplain for the Amphibious Forces of the Pacific (Phibpac), supervising the work of about fifteen chaplains on ships in the Far East. Our headquarters were at the Amphibious Base in Coronado. To my office was assigned just one man, who needed to be efficient, talented, versatile and trustworthy. Fortunately I inherited just such a man from my predecessor, who had “handpicked” him from “boot-camp”. Carroll fulfilled all the requirements — he was a good office man, a musician, an artist — with creative imagination — and could be depended upon. When my work called me away from the office, as it often did, I knew that I was well-represented. If my work was satisfactory during those years, half the credit certainly should go to my yeoman, who was indispensable.

In order to keep in touch with our chaplains overseas my office got out a quarterly communication, which with Carroll’s talents, became a pictorial booklet that attracted considerable attention, including a commendation from the Chaplains Division in Washington. This quarterly directive was sent out as an official “word” from the Command, so each issue had to have the stamp of approval of our three-star Admiral. The liaison between the Chaplain and the Admiral was the Chief of Staff. Directives and other items were usually roughed-out by me, and Carroll would fill in and do the typing, mimeographing, art work, etc. One Monday morning, after Carroll had had my material over the week-end,  I could hardly believe my eyes as I was reading one of my directives and encountered the word “invigilation,” I had never heard or seen the word before, and Carroll hadn’t either, but as he was typing the directive, which, at this point, was urging the chaplains to keep a close watch on certain aspects of their work, he decided he needed an all-inclusive word to convey my meaning.  So, he “broke out” ‘ the dictionary and found what he thought would be just what the doctor ordered. I told my very efficient yeoman, however, that this word would never do. His reply was that the word was in the dictionary, and that it conveyed just the desired meaning, “So why not use it?” “Well”, I said, “The Chief of Staff and Admiral just won’t buy such an unusual word”. He persuaded me, though, to leave “invigilation” in, saying that “they” won’t know what it means, either, but won’t dare risk losing face by admitting it. The word stayed in, and the directive went through with no questions asked. Carroll, who is now in his late thirties, is an Episcopalian clergyman — so, maybe the association with a certain Methodist chaplain didn’t do him too much harm. Perhaps I should say, however, that my predecessor, an Episcopalian, got the lad started right!

While at PhibPac another noteworthy incident happened. For some time the Chaplains Division had had a program of selecting certain interested and capable men, who would conduct some Divine services and represent the chaplains on ships with no chaplain aboard. Many of these dedicated lay-men did very valuable work — under the direction of the chaplain in their particular area. In a report from one of our chaplains in the far east he spoke of the Skipper of one of our ships having done an outstanding job of conducting Divine services on his own ship. On noting the name of this Navy Captain,  Howard C., and after a little investigation, I realized that more than thirty years earlier, when I was a High School senior and Howard was a freshman — he was the pupil and I was his so-called teacher or leader. This was at the Long Beach, Calif. Y.M.C.A. where I was the leader of a Bible class called the “Deacons”, and “our Captain” was a little fourteen year old, freckled-faced, red-headed freshman member. He was one of the sharpest lads in the group, and I was not surprised a few years later to learn that he had received an appointment to the Naval Academy. I had heard that he was still in the Navy after World War II, but I didn’t realize that he would become one of “my” lay-leaders in the Navy. Maybe I hadn’t done the lad so much harm, after all; or it could be that Howard was an illustration of the fact that some men will succeed in spite of anything. At any rate, this was a heart-warming experience for me.

It was not unusual for personnel of ships during their far-Eastern tour of duty to raise money for various worthwhile projects. This particular ship of ours had raised a considerable sum and it was decided to use at least a part of it to bring the mothers of four of the men to San Diego to meet the ship when she returned to her home port. They were to have the red-carpet treatment, and to be wined and dined for a week. The mothers were chosen by lot, and as the time approached for their arrival in San Diego, it was learned that one of the mothers was a negro. Perhaps this would have presented no particular problem in 1969, but it presented a potentially explosive problem in 1953. Since I had been designated as the official greeter, and to see that arrangements were made for the entertainment (including hotel accommodations) of the ladies, I soon realized that we had a problem on our hands.

In sounding out a couple of the best “north of Broadway” hotels in San Diego I was forced to the conclusion that, to put it mildly, they were not about to include our dark-skinned lady, although they would have been glad to have the ofher three mothers as guests. I realized that this would never do as a matter of expediency, in addition to the principle involved. To have the white mothers staying at a fine “uptown” hotel, while the black mother would be found in some little shabby place “on the other side of the tracks” was out of the question. This would have been a perfect “story” for some eager-beaver reporter to sink his fangs into, and make trouble for the Navy, and everybody concerned. So, it seemed to be up to the chaplain to find a way out.

I thought we were really stymied until, as I was thinking about any possible solution, I had a sudden brain-storm. It didn’t take me long to get over to see the Chief of Staff, who was not aware that we were facing such a serious problem until I told him about the “mixed” group, and what I had found out from the hotels. When he realized the potential seriousness of the situation, he said, “Chaplain, what are we going to do?” My reply was that I had just one suggestion — to try the Y.W.C.A. in downtown San Diego. The reply of the Chief of Staff was to call for an official car and driver to take me to see the General Secretary of the Y.W.C.A. She understood the situation perfectly, and without any hesitation offered us two of the building’s best rooms, which were being refurbished and would be ready just in time for our honored guests. Needless to say,, I reserved them on the spot. The Y.W. subsequently reported to us that “our” mothers were among the most delightful guests they had ever had. Perhaps the chaplain “made a few points” with the Chief of Staff when it was reported that this mission was accomplished. It is another illustration of the fact that the chaplain does come in handy at times.

The sequence to the story is that the chaplain met the mothers at Lindbergh Field, got them settled in their new rooms, and escorted them aboard the ship to greet their sons, who, together with their shipmates, saw that these ladies really had a “ball” in and around San Diego for the ensuing week. Incidentally, in addition to the “lady in black” being from the South, two of the white mothers were from Southern states. As far as we could determine, this made no difference to these fine ladies, or anybody else — and a good time was had by all!

An incident involving my”prize” yeoman might be of some amusement to others, as it was to me — and as it certainly was to Carroll and some of his cronies. One morning when I arrived at my office Carroll was unusually cheerful (he was capable of being moody) and very anxious that I sit at my desk and look over some things he had been working on and about which he had some questions. It so happened that I was in a pretty good mood myself that morning, and fortunately my language was not too bad. In fact, I was so cheerful that I was singing and humming a current song which went … “a-round the corner, ooh, who, beneath the berry tree, etc.. (l had to hum the rest of the words). Well, that yeoman had hidden a tape-recorder under my desk and had recorded everything that was said, sung and hummed during the first fifteen minutes I was in the office. He proceeded to play it back to our mutual friends at every opportunity, and I think he probably created some such opportunities. Boys will be boys!

While speaking of yeomen that I have had, others include those who have become a Presbyterian minister, a social worker, a dentist, a church organist and a business executive. So, you can see that all of them do not “go to the dogs” as a result of their association with chaplains.

In relating the incident of the “mixed” mothers, I was reminded of how the Navy (and other branches of the Service, too) have been integrated since World War II. Previously practically all black sailors were steward’s mates, but recently all the rates have been opened up to everybody, and now our Afro-Americans are to be found among the whites in every department of the Navy. Nowhere in our society will more complete integration be found. There is no separation as far as eating and sleeping arrangements are concerned, and certainly our Divine services are mixed. On occasion I have had a little fun with a few of my pastor friends by asking them how many black people they had in their services the previous Sunday. Usually the answer has been, “Well, er, I guess I didn’t have any.” My usual rejoinder has been that this seemed odd to me, since the church conventions and conferences were always passing resolutions on civil rights, integration, etc., and the military, which has often been criticized as being un-Christian, seemed to be beating the churches at their own game. I would usually be asked, “How come?” Then I would mention the fact that I have black people in my services right along, and nobody thinks anything of it. This has been a rather mean thing for me to do, for I realize that the churches have their problems, and that the two situations are not parallel. Often the problem is not so much with the pastors as with some laymen. Sometimes there are no blacks within the bounds of a civilian parish, and often black people would rather go to their own churches. However, I do think it is rather noteworthy that the military has taken the lead here.

Now, after having taken some “excursion cruises” we’ll get back aboard ray ship. One of the most memorable associations I had aboard the Holland, or in the Navy, resulted from the reporting aboard, several weeks after I did, of a young ensign a dozen years younger than I. Chet C. had received his reserve commission at U.C., Berkeley, where he had been an All-American basketball player. Since graduation a couple of years earlier he had been teaching school, but now since things were “warming up” he was needed on active duty. Chet was a blond giant, six feet four inches tall and weighed two hundred pounds. Although he probably wasn’t a “Hollywood type” he was striking looking, and his ready smile and polite manner caused him to be universally well-liked. Chet and I seemed to “hit it off” from the first — in spite of the difference in our ages. We were both from Southern California, having known a few people in common. Also, both of us had active church backgrounds.

At any rate, it wasn’t long before Chet and I were good friends, and we spent considerable time together. One of our recreational activities was to go over to the sub base pool for a swim after working-hours in the afternoon. Also we went into Honolulu and to the beach at Waikiki. Chet was a powerful swimmer, a good diver and a natural athlete. In spite of his popularity, and of all the accolades he had received, he was one of the most unassuming and modest men I have known. Our young lady organist whom I mentioned previously subsequently got married and left us, so Chet, who had played hymns for Sunday School when he was growing up, was “volunteered” to play for our services. When he played our little portable organ his knees would protrude on either side, but he was a big help, and was a good influence on others for church attendance, as well as otherwise.

Over a period of a week or so, as we were going to the pool about every afternoon, Chet kept complaining,”Geez (an expression he probably had unconsciously picked up in college). Chaplain, my gerts hurt”, holding his hand on his stomach. After a few days of this I began to advise him to have the ship’s doctor examine his “gerts”, thinking of the possibility, of appendicitis or something. So, finally one day after the noon meal in the wardroom I got Chet and the doctor together, having contacted the doctor, a Louisianian, beforehand. So Chet approached the doctor by saying, “Say, Doc, what should a guy do when his gerts hurt?” With a twinkle in his eye, and in his soft Southern accent the doctor, queried, “What did you say, Mistah C?” Placing his hand on his stomach, Chet replied, “Well,  Geez, doc, my gerts hurt.” “Oh, countered the doctor, “You’ve got a bellyache, huh?” “Yeah, that’s what I’ve been trying to tell you,” said Chet. “Well, Mistah C, ah believe if ah wuh you — I would see a doctuh.” So, it was arranged for Chet to go down to sick-bay, where nothing serious was found, and Chet’s complaint was eliminated. One of the worst hazards for tall men aboard ship is to be found in low overheads, which require stooping if a man is above average height. Poor “old” Chet was always forgetting to duck, and usually had bruises on his forehead to show for it.

After the ship’s period in dry-dock and our trial runs in Lahanai Roads, the next big event was the rest and recreation cruise to San Diego, which extended from late August to the latter part of September. In addition to providing leave for many of the ship’s personnel while in San Diego, the cruise provided an opportunity for a “shakedown” after the complete overhaul and trial runs. On our way to the west coast, as we joined other Navy ships for maneuvers, I experienced my first storm at sea. The Holland was a heavy ship, riding low in the water, and without too much superstructure, so we did not fare too badly. A couple of destroyers which were in view, looked almost like submarines as they ploughed through the waves which almost submerged these tough little vessels. Even the Carriers shipped plenty of green water. A storm at sea to a land-lubber is frightening, and yet it is a majestic experience, when one realizes the awesome power behind it all. It is also a humbling experience, when one realizes how small and weak is man, and how great is the Power of God. One is reminded of the popular hymn “How Great Thou Art”, one verse of which reads, “O Lord, my God, when I in awesome wonder, consider all the worlds Thy hands have made, I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder, Thy power throughout the universe displayed How Great Thou art. How great Thou art.”

In spite of the storm we reached San Diego nearly on schedule, and the ship was tied-up at one of the downtown piers. Only a skeleton crew was left aboard the ship. Many of our personnel went to their homes in various parts of the country, while those of us whose families were in the San Diego area, spent most of our time ashore, being available if and when needed. This gave me an opportunity to take Rosella and the boys aboard a couple of times or so, and the youngsters seemed to get quite a “kick” out of being aboard “their Dad’s ship”. Len, who wasn’t yet five, had acquired an “official” sailor’s uniform, which naturally made him a part of the crew, and the sailors went along with it. Sailors are particularly fond of children; I suppose they remind them of their younger brothers and sisters at

These two weeks afforded us an opportunity to arrange our affairs on a longer-range basis, since, although we didn’t know just what was going to happen, I think some of us had the feeling that anything could happen, and probably would. Also, this interval gave us an opportunity to visit with relatives and friends.

Another special privilege that I had before we were to return to Pearl Harbor was that of enrolling Len in Kindergarten. I went with him a couple of times, and “just happened” to come by a time or two after their half-day session was over. One day as we were walking home after school I asked Len what they had done all morning. “Aw, nothing much,” he replied. “Well, didn’t you play some games?” “O, yeah, we played some games, all right.” Didn’t the teacher tell you some stories?” “Oh, yeah, yeah, she told us some stories, I guess.” “How about singing — didn’t you sing some songs?” “Well, the “dames” did, but we guys didn’t.” Our kids grow up faster than we realize, I guess.

As all good things have to come to an end, our time in San Diego was up, and we were to leave the next morning early. So, we were required to be aboard by midnight. Since none of us likes “good-byes”, and since the street car line was just a block away, we decided that I would go over to Orange avenue alone to catch the old number 9 and go to the ship. How do you tell your wife and two boys good-bye when you don’t really know what your ultimate destination is, or how long you might be gone? Rosella and I had been “through the wars” together for fifteen years, including the depression, and I think we had a pretty good understanding, not that it was easy. Leland, who was twelve and a half and growing up fast, without being told in so many words, knew that he would have the responsibilities of the senior male member of the household — so I think we had a pretty good understanding. But, when it came to Len it was a different story, and it almost broke me up. As he was telling me good-bye he said, “Daddy, how long are you going to be gone this time?” As bravely as I could, I answered, “Well, son I don’t know, I just don’t know — it might be a pretty long time.” So, I guess it was a good thing I went to the street car alone, since by the time it came along I had pretty well dried-up — outwardly, that is. On boarding the car I noticed our- Exec, and when I sat down next to him he said, “I didn’t notice anybody here to see you off.” “Well,” I said, “We took care of that at home.” He replied that he thought that was a pretty good idea — in fact, he had done the same thing himself.

Our ship left on schedule early the next morning, and although I was not able to see them, my little family was on the beach at Coronado waving to “our” ship as she rounded Point Loma, headed across the big pond. This was the last we were to see of one another for three and one- half years.  I left Leland still almost singing soprano, and found him singing bass when I got back. Len had advanced from kindergarten almost to the fourth grade when I returned, while Rosella, in spite of the calendar, and the heavy load she carried for so long, looked younger and prettier than ever when she met me in San Francisco in the spring of forty-five. But more about that later. Our return cruise to Pearl Harbor was quite uneventful, and I can hardly recall anything unusual that happened aboard. Probably most of us realized that the road ahead was apt to be pretty uncertain, and that it could be pretty long and rough.

I have mentioned that Leland, who was twelve and a half, was still singing soprano (almost) when we left. Well, several days before the ship left we took the boys up to Long Beach to see their grandparents. After they had been there awhile, Grandmother Traver called Rosella aside and asked her, “What is the matter with Leland?” Rosella replied that she hadn’t noticed anything wrong with the lad, and asked what she had reference to. “Well, it’s his voice –something’s the matter with his voice.” Rosella said, “Well, his voice is changing — boys voices do that, you know.” “Yes, but Leland is only twelve, and their voices are not supposed to change until they are fourteen.” “Well, of course, all of us are categorical about some things, I’m sure.

Earlier in my story I mentioned being required to take certain courses in the Navy. Well, of course, you never get through taking courses, and some of them are “refresher” courses. In 1948-49 I was the chaplain aboard the hospital ship USS Consolation, based in Norfolk, Virginia.  I might add that this is the ship that has been used for several years by the “Hope” project. During this period the first annual Norfolk Preaching Mission was to be held. On the program were several nationally and internationally known preachers and laymen, whom I was anxious to hear. In addition to the evening meetings there were to be afternoon sessions, which would be of special interest to pastors and chaplains. Our Skipper was a big, gruff-looking, tender-hearted guy — a nominal Roman Catholic, who liked all chaplains. So, the week before the Preaching Mission was to begin I went up to see “the Old Man” to secure official permission to leave the ship each afternoon during the Preaching Mission. “What is this ‘Preaching Mission’ business?”, asked the Captain. Figuring I had better frame my answer in language he would readily understand, I replied, “Well, I guess you could call it a refresher course for preachers.” “A refresher course, huh? Hell, yes, you need it — go on!” I assumed, of course, that he meant refresher courses are good for everybody — including preachers!

There was one amusing (to me) incident that took place before we reached Pearl Harbor. We had aboard a young officer, who, in his travels, had “latched onto” this very pretty Spanish wife, whom I had seen at a couple of social gatherings at Pearl Harbor. When we were just a day or so out from our home port, I met this young “J.G.” in the ward room. Just to pass the time of day I said to him, calling him by name, “Well, I guess you’re glad to be getting back home — after being away- nearly a month.” “Yeah, Chaplain, I sure am — you know, I’m getting awfully anxious to see my dog.” I had never been in his home,  so maybe he did have a dog!

Well, anyhow, we got back to Pearl Harbor on schedule late in September, and it was “back to the salt mines.” There is always plenty to be done aboard ship [ed. USS Holland]. Chipping and painting is an endless job and there is always other maintenance work to be accomplished. The paper work is something that seems to grow almost with geometrical progression. Then, in the case of a Tender, you have your Squadron to think about, to plan and provide for. The maintenance and repair work done in the various shops of the Holland would have done justice to a good-sized factory. The Tender is really the “mother” ship, with all the problems of a mother with a large family.

Even before we left for our R & R cruise it was decided that Chet would reorganize the ship’s basketball team, and act as its player, coach and manager. This was all under the nominal direction of the ships recreation Council, of which I was an ex-officio member. On our way back to “Pearl” we made plans to have the best d___ basketball team in the fleet.  Chet, of course, was a natural for this job — in fact, it wasn’t really a job to him, since he loved the game and was anxious to get the best possible team together. His enthusiasm and personality were contagious, and there was no problem in securing a good turnout of potential players, none of whom had played beyond high school.

We decided to really outfit the team in goody style, since the uniforms that were found aboard had seen’ their best days. There was plenty of money in our ship’s recreation fund, provided by profits from our ship’s store, plus a share in the overall profits from the Navy’s “ships service” installations, which are now called Navy Exchanges. So, Chet and I went to the largest sporting goods supply in Honolulu, and ordered the best, which we figured was none too good for what we intended to be not only the best looking, but the best performing team in the area.

Previously, I have mentioned that in a situation such as ours it was impossible to maintain the kinds of leagues and schedules that we might have been used to in a civilian situation. But Chet whipped our team into shape (we had access to the very good sub base gym), and before long we were playing games, and winning, against some of the teams from much larger organizations — including ships and shore based activities in the area. So the “little old Holland” was being recognized and respected, and it was being conceded that that Holland team with “that blond all-American ensign” might just clean up around there.

Of course, I got a big kick out of all this, since I had long been a basketball fan, as well as a follower of other sports. My basketball playing goes back to pre-World War I grammar school days, when we played out of doors. While I had never played on any big-time teams, I had played through high school and junior college, and have always had a love for the game. Come to think of it, I did play some one year in my late twenties. This was in Galt, California (a village of about one thousand), the scene of my first pastorate. In the fall of 1931 (when I was twenty-seven) some of the boys about town organized the “Galt Merchants”, and I was either invited, or I volunteered to go out for the team … I’m not sure which. My policy against volunteering probably was not established until after being in the Navy awhile. At any rate, I made the team, which wasn’t a great accomplishment, since there wasn’t too much competition. I found I couldn’t go “all-out” very long, since I guess I wasn’t in the same kind of shape I had been in several years earlier. But I had fun, and I think it didn’t hurt the image of the church for its young pastor to be “mixing it up” a little. However, I did hear, by way of the grapevine, that a couple of the “good sisters” of the church didn’t think it was too dignified for their pastor to be out there before the public wearing such an abbreviated costume! But, I will have to confess (and maybe brag a little) that I didn’t let that bother me too much.

Also, I became a member of the Galt volunteer fire department. The village had no community water system. You either hooked up to the “system” across the street from the church, operated by the widow Haskins (who as a little girl, had come out west in a covered wagon), or you had your own well and some kind of pump. At the parsonage we had a very shallow well and a small pressure pump that was as hard to keep going as our 1924 model “T” Ford. The only piece of fire-fighting equipment we had was an old (around a 1915 model) tank truck, which was about as reliable as our Model “T”. The truck was housed at Quennel’s garage — about two blocks from the parsonage — if I cut across vacant lots, which I did. When the siren sounded while I was at home (my “study” was in what had been a tank house) I could sprint it to the fire truck in a couple of minutes or so, sometimes before they had been able to get the thing started. It had no self-starter. But usually we got up steam and a couple of us would get aboard, and pick up others as we bounced along. The only water we had, in addition to what might have been available at – the scene of the fire, was what was in the tank of the truck. If a fire had any head-start at all, about the only thing we could hope for was to be able to help save some belongings, and to try to keep the fire from spreading to ether nearby buildings.

Some of the good people of the church probably thought that this, also, was not too dignified, and maybe somewhat dangerous for their pastor, and I guess I should have appreciated their solicitude, but it was almost a matter of self-preservation. In other words, you didn’t have much right’ to expect your neighbor to be anxious to help put out your fire unless you were willing to do likewise.

One more incident during this period may be of interest to those bom soon enough to remember the first few years of the depression when President Hoover was being quoted as saying “prosperity is just around the corner”. In the spring of 1931 we decided to have a big spring clean-up day in and around the church — a “clean sweep down fore and aft” — as we say in the Navy. The church (of no more than fifty members) couldn’t afford a regular janitor or caretaker, and if the pastor hadn’t gone down early on Sunday mornings and fired up the basement furnace — the church would have been cold in the wintertime. So, there was plenty to be done inside and out. The ladies “turned to” inside on a thorough house cleaning, while the men and boys, including the preacher, went to work on an accumulation of weeds, etc. outside.

In those days, as is quite well known through reading “The Grapes of Wrath” and other writings, a lot of people had come to California from the dust bowl and other areas. We had a few such families in our community, and a couple of them were coming to the church. One of the “old boys” (he probably wasn’t past middle age) responded to our call for a working party for our spring clean-up. I think he was from either Oklahoma or Arkansas. He was tall, lean, loose-jointed and leathery looking, with eyes that had become squinted — maybe partly because of being out in the dust and weather so much. To counteract the dust in his throat he used a lubricant in the form of a “chaw” of tobacco — when he could afford it. Our “Okie” or “Arkie” (I was born in Oklahoma myself, so I’m not calling them names) had undertaken to hoe away the weeds from one side of the church building, and was working at a clip that I thought was surprisingly fast, so … I asked him, “How come you’re working so hard at this?” “Well, Preacher,” he said, as he got rid of some excess throat lubricant, “I’m anxious to get up to that there corner yonder,” pointing to the comer of the church. Naturally, I asked “Why are you in such a hurry to get to the corner?” “Well,” he said, “You know, Mr. Hoover has been sayin that prosperity is just around the corner, and I’m anxious to get up there and look around, and see if the President is tellin’ the truth!”

Now, we’ll cross the Pacific back to Pearl Harbor, where our Holland basketball team, aided and abetted by Chet, is winning most of its games. It was a revelation to me (and I’m sure to others, too), to see this team, which would have been no more than ordinary without Chet, respond to his leadership — especially when he was on the court as player coach. As a coach he had been able to get the most out of his material, but when he was in there as a player and a leader (but not “hogging the ball”, or taking too many shots) the team seemed to become inspired. In spite of his size (six feet four was pretty big in those days) my blond friend was poetry in motion.

While any worth-while endeavor requires teamwork, there are times when we are reminded of the fact that in some situations one individual can, and often does, make all the difference in the world. While we are told in the Navy that there is no such thing as an indispensable man, we can’t help but wonder what might have happened in certain crises had not the right man come along at just the right time. I will try to resist the temptation to cite illustrations to prove the point. However, even though no man is indispensable, there is a sense in which every individual is important, and has a contribution to make.

I have previously mentioned the late Chaplain Razzie Truitt, one of the veteran chaplains, who was instrumental in my considering the chaplaincy in the late thirties.  During this period in Pearl Harbor Razzie was assigned as force Chaplain, with headquarters aboard the Cruiser Indianapolis.  So, we had an opportunity over a period of a few weeks to renew our acquaintance.  This was not only an enjoyable experience, but one that was profitable for me, since I had the opportunity to profit from his vast experience.  Razzie knew the Navy, and he knew and liked people.  He was one of the shrewdest judges of people I have ever known, and certainly one of the best tellers of stories in the Navy.  While Razzie was not without his serious moments by any means, he could usually see the lighter side of and enjoy most any experience. So, we had some good visits together during this period while, our families were neighbors in Coronado. One afternoon we decided to go in to Honolulu together, since both of us had several errands to take care of — some at the same places in the city. Those who have been to Hawaii now that without much warning it can rain ‘most any time — and usually does. So, we got caught in the rain without any rain gear, which most people out there pay very little attention to, and enjoyed it. We paddle around from store to store, and had a great time doing it — just as happy (or more so, maybe) as if we had had good sense! It was always fun to be with Razzie … one of the best friends I have had anywhere.

Our basketball team continued to win, but as time went on and we continued to hear more and more scuttlebutt about shipping out to the Far East, some of us began to wonder whether or not we would be able to finish our season, which had been so successful — thanks to Chet. During a time of impending crisis or emergency, or during a war, everything is “hush-hush”.  Although some of the directives in connection with this sort of thing became rather ridiculous, some precautions were indicated, no doubt. However, the word around Pearl Harbor was that the barmaids in Honolulu were the best source of the latest and most reliable “dope” on ship movements. Perhaps subsequent events tended to bear this out, at least to some degree. Be that as it may, in early November, after various and sundry rumors, we did get the official word that we would be departing “Pearl” about the middle of the month. Although we didn’t know just what this was going to involve, we did know that a long cruise was probably in store, and I couldn’t help but remember that I had told little Len that “it might be a pretty long time.” Perhaps it is a good thing I didn’t know, when we left for Asiatic waters, just how long it would be  or under what conditions.

After we ‘got the firm word (although we weren’t sure where we would wind up), there wasn’t much time for basketball, or anything else, except for concentrating on getting our ship and subs ready for departure.

In the midst of serious business, however, you can usually find something, even if a little crude, that might be amusing. I had become somewhat acquainted with one of our boatswain’s mates with several years of service, who was known for his intense hatred of Honolulu. Whether some gal there had done him wrong, or whatever, I have never learned. It is said in the Navy that a sailor likes just two places: Where he’s been and where he’s going — never where he is. But our friend’s hatred for Honolulu (one of the world’s most popular tourist attractions) seemed to go deeper than that. One day, shortly before we were to shove-off, I met this boatswain’s mate out on deck where he was working. Calling him by name, I said, “Well, I guess you really hate to leave Honolulu, don’t you?” “Well Chaplain, you’ve asked for it — now I’m going to tell you just how much I love Honolulu: I’d rather have a sister in a whore-house than a brother in Honolulu!” My only reply was, “Boy, you really do love the place don’t you?” Me and my big mouth!

Even though some of us were not so anxious to get away from our own territory, not knowing what it might mean, we did leave on schedule, heading West to go to the East, our destination being Manila. This was not a rest and recreation cruise, and it was more than just changing our base of operations. While I think very few of us realized, or had any idea just how soon the fireworks might begin — some of the military people out there must have realized that things were at least warming up — if they had not already come to the boiling point. I’m sure, however, that no one had the faintest idea what would happen at Pearl Harbor about three weeks after we left there.


Illustration by Rosella Mae Brewster



This cruise to Manila was a serious one, and we went to general quarters a number of times, many drills were held during the few weeks we were at sea. Several Japanese freighters were sighted on the way, and a couple of them were close enough that there could have been incidents, so constant “invigilation” was our watchword. There are a few other things I remember about our crossing from Pearl Harbor to Manila. The first is that we spent Thanksgiving, 1941, at sea. This was my first (but not the last) Thanksgiving away from home, and although we had a special Thanksgiving service aboard, and our dinner was the traditional turkey with all the trimmings — still it was quite different, and I’m sure there was a feeling of nostalgia among most of us.

The other incident took place as we were feeling our way through the narrow San Bernardino Straits on our way up to Manila. The tropical islands on either side of the ship, with their dense, green vegetation, looked to be almost close enough for us to reach out and touch. A lot of us were topside, leaning over the railing — looking at the first land we had seen in a couple of weeks. We had passed within fifty miles of Guam, but that was not close enough for us to see that American-controlled island with its Naval Base. Among the island-watchers leaning over the railing was a veteran Filipino steward’s mate, who was quite familiar with that part of the world. I had talked with him before, and it was not hard for me to engage him in conversation. He was glad to answer any Questions I had, and he pointed out interesting things about the flora and fauna of the islands we were passing. Like many of us I had heard about the great pythons that are to be found in these regions, so I asked my Filipino friend if these creatures were to be found in these islands. With an expression of fear on his face and in his voice he replied, “Oh, yes, Chaplain, there are “beeg” snakes — they don’t bite, but they “squez” you!” I was glad to take his word for it! While I never saw one of these fearsome reptiles, apparently some of the accounts of their great length and strength are not exaggerated.

We arrived in “the Pearl of the Orient” late in November. We were really in Asia now, but, of course, the city, after forty years of American influence, had become somewhat Americanized — at least, in places. This was more true of the city itself than of the countryside (not far away), which remained quite provincial, in spite of the schools established by Americans.

The setting of Manila, and many parts of it, were indeed beautiful. Some of the shops and bazaars were evidently quite similar to those of China and India.

A lot of us were anxious to get ashore and see some of the sights, and Chet and I took a liberty boat ashore at one of the earliest opportunities after dropping anchor in Manila Bay. Just to be ashore was enjoyable, while the sights and the people made it even more interesting. As we were walking through a crowded part of the city, with people all about us, out of a clear, blue sky Chet exclaimed, “Geez, Chaplain, these people are so little!” My reply was, “How do you suppose you, and even I, look to them?” Most of the people of the Philippines are small by our standards. The ponies that pull the “Caramettas” and “Calessas” are very small, as well. These rigs constituted much of the taxi service in Manila a quarter of a century ago, but now,
I understand, many, if not most, of these have been replaced by various versions of the jeep, etc. Chet and I, six feet four and six feet respectively, and each weighing two hundred pounds, must-have presented quite a sight, indeed, as we bounced along in a carametta behind a diminutive horse, and an equally diminutive man. But we enjoyed our only liberty in Manila together, which was the next to the last liberty I ever had there, although I was ashore, if not in circulation, in Manila later on.

The other time I was ashore in Manila during this period was on the only Sunday I was there before things really began to happen. Earner in my story I mentioned Chaplain Ray Cook, who had been on his first duty at the 11th Naval District in San Diego while I was on my first assignment at the Naval Training Station there. Ray subsequently had been assigned to the cruiser Louisville, which was tied up at a dock in Manila when we arrived there. Ray and I got together after our Divine services on our ships, and we made quite a day of it — visiting some of the bazaars and other shops, eating dinner at quite a unique French restaurant, and visiting a rather well-known Chinese cemetery. This may seem rather morbid, but really it was quite an experience. It so happened that a funeral procession was in progress, and they really put on quite a show — what with their marching bands and the celebrating after the burial service. We noted the similarity between this observance and some of those held eight thousand miles away in New Orleans. It was several years before I saw Ray again, since our paths didn’t cross immediately after the war.

Most of us have noticed in our own lives, and in the lives of others, how so-called small events or incidents shape our lives, and seem to determine our future — for good or ill. We try to evaluate our lives and sometimes we are apt to think in terms of coincidences, when perhaps much more than mere coincidences have been involved. Most of us have had occasion to look back and say “if”, or ask “why?” We will no doubt agree, however, that it is the so-called little things in life that prove to be important, after all. As a case in point, while we were still at Pearl Harbor, and not long before the Holland received orders to proceed to Manila, it was determined by our “Louisiana” doctor that I needed so-called minor corrective surgery, which would require hospitalization. Since I was about to receive such orders when our sailing orders came, the ship’s doctor told me that the surgery would have to be postponed until after we readied Manila. So, after we had been there a few days (this was soon after the first of December) orders were presented to me to report to Canacao Naval Hospital -on Sangley Point near the Cavite Naval shipyards — across Manila Bay. The word was that I would be away from the ship a week or so, and I “packed” accordingly, taking along a minimum of clothing and gear.

There had seemed to be no undue apprehension, as far as we could tell, – in Manila, of any impending international emergency. Also, when I got to the hospital (via one of our ship’s boats), everything seemed to be quite leisurely, and there seemed to be an unhurried pace, which we usually associated with the tropics. Even the setting was conducive to this rather indolent atmosphere, born of the hot sun and the warm breezes over the spacious grounds covered by lawns and tropical plants. A really restful place.

The doctors seemed to be in no particular hurry to “get at me”, so, it was a couple of days or so (with an occasional test, etc.) before they got their “knives sharpened up” and gave me a spinal, which was a new experience for me. In fact, I had never been hospitalized before. The spinal was evidently indicated partly because of the location of the fistula, on my “backside”. I was able to carry on somewhat of a conversation with the doctors while they were “wielding their weapons”, which they did with admirable skill. Later I was “associated” with these doctors behind barbed wire, and jokingly blamed them for my predicament. However, I have never since seen the Louisiana doctor who ordered this procedure. I’m sure, though, if I ever do see him, that no recriminations will be in order.

The surgery was performed about five December, 1941, and I was still a bed patient during the ensuing weekend, which included Sunday, December 7 in the States. The big Corpsman, who was taking good care of me, and doing a lot of kidding in the process, came into my room Monday morning and said, “Well, Chaplain, Pearl Harbor has been bombed, and the Japs got a lot of our ships and men.” My first reaction was that he was just kidding — that couldn’t happen to us, you know! But it didn’t take me long to realize that I was not being kidded, and that the corpsman had never been more serious in his life.

My first realization of the seriousness of our situation came when the first air-raid sirens began to scream, and my big corpsman and a shipmate carried me on a litter to the underside of a building, which had been designated as an air-raid shelter. I must have been a rather heavy load, since I hadn’t lost much of-my two hundred pounds, so it was a good thing that I had a couple of husky corpsmen standing by to carry me to comparative safety. This happened a number of times during the next few days until plans were perfected to evacuate us from what had been such a peaceful looking spot, but new was so potentially precarious, since it was adjacent to the Navy Yard.

Upon hearing more or less detailed reports of the Pearl Harbor “day of infamy”, I noted that the Arizona was one of our ships which suffered frightening casualties. My immediate thoughts were of the ship’s chaplain, my friend Tom Kirkpatrick, who has been mentioned earlier in my story. I feared for the worst, since, although Tom did have an apartment ashore, he always spent Saturday night aboard — to be ready ahead of time for his Sunday services on this historic battle-wagon. I did not hear definitely that Tom was one of the casualties until more than three years later, after we were no longer “guests of the Emperor.” I was honored to be able to salute my friend Tom about twenty years after this tragic event — as Rosie and I visited the Arizona Shrine at Pearl Harbor. How humble one feels in the presence of the memory of such a dedicated chaplain and other personnel who went down with their gallant ship!

Chaplain Kirkpatrick was among four Navy chaplains to lose their lives (“he that loseth his life shall save it”) early in World War II. The other Navy chaplain lost aboard his ship at Pearl Harbor was Aloysius H. Schmitt of the Oklahoma. I had just barely met Chaplain Schmitt. Two of our chaplains went down in the Battle of Java on 1 March 1942. I did not know Chaplain John McGarrity, aboard the Langley, but I had met and heard a lot about George Rentz, who was aboard the ill-fated Houston. I have talked with a few of the survivors of this disaster, who have told me that they personally saw Chaplain Rentz, who was one of our older Chaplains, insist on
giving his life-jacket to a young man, saying that he had lived most of his life while the lad had his life ahead of him. So, George Rents drifted off, not to be seen again, but his memory and his influence linger on. “Greater love hath no man than this: that a man lay down his life for his friends.” About twenty-five Navy Chaplains lost their lives during World War II. Full accounts of all the chaplains, whom I have mentioned, plus interesting stories of many others, may be found in “The History of the Chaplains Corps, United States Navy” (Volume Two, 1939-1949), which is “NAVPERS 15808”, and is (or has been) for sale by the Sup’t. of Documents, U.S. Gov’t Printing Office, Washington, D.C. — price $3.00 (before inflation). Copies of this book, which was splendidly edited by Chaplain Clifford M. Drury, may be found (for reference) in any District Chaplain’s office.

When the evacuation took place (across Manila Bay — in small boats) to Manila I was still a litter patient — as were many others. I secretly thought, in spite of my “delicate” condition, that I might be able to get back aboard the Holland after we had landed at the waterfront. We passed within a few hundred feet of “my” ship on the way in, and maybe, if I had been in good shape, I could have jumped overboard and swum to her. So near, and yet so far! I pointed out the Holland to the medical officer in charge of us, suggesting the possibility of my getting a boat out to her after we tied up.  He “hit the overhead”, saying that I was his responsibility, and that if I tried such a thing he would have me court-martialed. I didn’t know why he got quite so excited, although I recognized that he did have the responsibility and some authority. I was in no position to “Tassle him fer it”, but in retrospect, had I known then what I was to encounter later, I believe I would have tried to disregard the medical officer’s authority. I’m quite sure that if I had been in better shape I would have gotten back to my ship somehow. It may be, however, that if I had been able to get back aboard … the ship might have been blown-up, resulting in loss of life for others, and even a worse fate than I subsequently faced.

From the dock we were taken a couple of miles to Sternberg Army Hospital, which already was too crowded, so we couldn’t expect the same kind of care we had received at Canacao. In fact, we were, for the most part, left to shift for ourselves. After a day or so of this I became restless, and in spite of my condition (which had improved some in spite of lack of care), I decided to try to get back to my ship. So, I managed to get out of the place, which wasn’t too difficult. I didn’t know just where I was after I found myself out on the street, which was quite well travelled. I was in uniform, so I was able to comandeer a car without too much difficulty. The Filipino driver, was glad to take me down to the waterfront, for which I thanked him. But, to my utter disappointment, if not despair, there was no Holland to be seen or found! I learned, with the feeling of a lost soul on Judgement Day, that she had headed South in a hurry for Australia — after Japanese bombs, which destroyed a number of ships (mostly merchant vessels), came perilously close to my ship. The Holland was absolutely essential to the operation of our subs, whose work was so valuable to our cause during the course of the war.

Naturally I was glad that my ship had not been blown-up or, even damaged, but it was difficult for my thankfulness to counteract the feeling of abandonment; here I was … with no “home,” no parishoners, no friends…thousands of miles away from my family, in an area where hostilities already had been carried out, with much more to come. I wondered at first if only the chaplain had been left ashore, but later I found that several members of the crew, some of whom I later joined as P.O.Ws., were on errands ashore for the ship when she was forced to leave in such a hurry. I’m sure that none of us blamed those who had to make this decision.

I wasn’t about to go back to Sternberg — if I could help it— and my absence may not have been noted for awhile — since everything there was in such a state of confusion. In casting about for somewhere to light in the midst of this frightened city I learned several things, some of which made the situation even more frightening. Among these was the fact that not only had ships in the bay been bombed, but the Cavite Navy Yard had undergone air raids,” which had completely wrecked the place, causing heavy casualties. I realized that we had been evacuated from the hospital none too soon, since the bombing of the Navy yard began just a day or so after we had left. They ’’got” the hospital just a few days thereafter.

One potentially good thing that I learned, or so it seemed at the time was that our squadron headquarters was still in Manilla. I thought that here might be ray means of getting back aboard my ship. So, it didn’t take me long to report to the squadron commander, whom I knew only slightly. I told him my story, and requested (and almost begged) to be put aboard one of our subs heading South to the mothership. In spite of my pleas, the Commander gave me a flat “negative”, without doing too much explaining. I suppose the potential danger involved might have motivated his thinking. Naval officers are not trained to throw caution to the wind … unless they must … and my request did not have to be granted. Many officers often find it easier to say “negative” than “affirmative.” Maybe this commander just didn’t like chaplains, or perhaps he was so concerned with other more serious matters that he just simply couldn’t be bothered. Naturally, I was deflated; from my standpoint, I did not consider my request an unreasonable one. I have been known, I’m afraid — to more or less pride myself (as modestly as possible) on occasion on being able to do a little “soft-selling” — when necessary — but it didn’t work here. However, the commander did issue temporary orders for me, to the USS Canopus, another sub-tender which was tied up at a pier opposite the enlisted men’s club on the waterfront. The late Chaplain Francis McManus, a Roman Catholic, was the Canopus’ chaplain, and I was to work with him among the personnel ashore — primarily at the enlisted men’s club. ‘ Chaplain McManus and I became good friends; we were to be together subsequently, and I will have occasion to speak of him later on.

It has been some time since I have had a “diary” item to insert …. principally because I could write home without any difficulty. Now, however, it had become a different story, so here is an item in my sporadic so-called “running account” — dated Dec. 15, 1941, which follows verbatim: “Plenty rugged since I last wrote. Still stationed at “Headquarters.” Not getting’ used to air-raids, though there are several each day. Eating aboard the Canopus for seventy-five cents (gold). Chaplain McManus has been very brotherly — even advanced me a little money — until I get my pay accounts straightened out.. Still hoping to be able to get back aboard before long, although it may take some time. My “stern” is getting better, although running away from the waterfront during air-raids is a little rugged.

Am down to one hundred eighty pounds — hope I can stay there. No use to try to send mail. Will try to Send another message before very long. Getting plenty anxious to hear from home … hoping something can come through soon. Spirits are higher the last day or two … am hoping for the best.”

It is obvious, from noting the above, that we were engaging in some wishful thinking in those days out there, where incredible things were happening. Apparently I still hadn’t given up (some of us are die-hards) on getting back aboard my ship, although I might have known better. Little did I realize that I would not only get down to one hundred eighty pounds, but at least fifty pounds lighter than that, before our ordeal was over. I don’t recall why I said that our spirits were higher than they had been, but at least it indicated that we hadn’t given up. “Hope springs eternal” — and how wonder- ful’that is! St. Paul, at the close of his memorable chapter (1 Cor.13) on love, lists “hope” as one of the three greatest qualities in the world …. as he says: “Now abideth faith, hope, love, these three, and the greatest of these is love.” These are the invisible things that “make the world go round” — especially for those who follow our Lord. I am not going to get to preaching here (not that I think it unimportant), but later on I shall have occasion to mention at least a few thoughts on some of the themes I used while really being behind “barbed-wire.”

After being attached to the Canopus for about a week I was presented with temporary orders again: this time to the Naval Hospital in which I had been a patient, and which had been re-established at a Seventh Day Adventist School several kilometers away — on the outskirts of Manila. So, I guess I had not been blamed too much for going “A.W.O.L.” from Sternberg; at least I wasn’t put in the brig. Since there was no other chaplain with the hospital unit at that time, apparently I was need to serve the patients and staff in this situation, which was better than being down on the docks in Manila, although we had air-raid alarms out in the “country”, too.

Here I spent my first Christmas (of four) away from home, and I was privileged to conduct special services, and to help create an atmosphere which had to substitute for Christmas at home. Under these strange circumstances I received only one greeting card (from a fine young American couple connected with the school), which I really appreciated. Christmas, 1941, has proved to be, along with the three spent’behind barbed-wire, memorable indeed.

The hospital unit remained at this “suburban” location only a few days after Christmas, and we became settled in our new situation in Manila proper by the end of December. Here we made use of the facilities of “Santa Scholastica’s College” – a Roman Catholic girls school, which had been abandoned — except for a few of the nuns, who had been teaching there. The school was located on one of the busy boulevards of Manila, and provided more adequate facilities for the needs (if not for the wants) of the hospital. In advance of our moving back into the city, supplies and equipment had been moved from Canacao (which had not been damaged too much, so far) to our new location. The hospital administration had realized that we were probably going to have many more casualties, and that we were apt to have to shift for ourselves — maybe for quite awhile, so they governed themselves accordingly, at which they were “experts”. The Warrant officers and chiefs (who had come up from the ranks) and the corpsmen got hold of everything they could get their hands on, at which they were also experts, being especially careful to see that no medicines and food were left to be blown-up at Canacao. These precautions proved to be the means of saving many lives and of sustaining others during the four or five months we were “detained” here.

The buildings of the school, which were quite well built, included facilities for cooking, eating and sleeping. With the hospital beds and equipment brought over from Canacao some of the buildings lent themselves quite well as hospital wards. The wash rooms were not equipped with men in mind, but this was a minor “adjustment” compared to some we were forced to make elsewhere later. The hospital unit did include ten Navy nurses, and a Red Cross representative, a full staff of doctors, dentists, administrative staff and corpsmen, plus a few civilians.

The late Chaplain David L. Quinn, who had served briefly as 16th Naval District Chaplain, with headquarters at Cavite, had also joined our hospital unit. I had met Chaplain Quinn briefly while waiting for surgery at Canacao. He was an Episcopalian — even with that name! We worked together in planning and conducting services, and in other activities — as well as in ministering to patients and members of the staff. Another clergyman, who joined our “family” of about three hundred was a young civilian Roman Catholic priest, who recently had been sent out from the states to do missionary work, which he had hardly been able to begin when the “fireworks” started. This big, red-headed young priest was able to minister to the Catholic constituency within our gates. Before we were assigned, in the Spring, to real military prisoner of war camps our young priest was interned elsewhere — as a civilian, and I never heard whether or not he “made it” — I hope so.

The supposition that there would be an influx of patients was borne out when we began receiving additional casualties from Cavite Navy yard.
We had been in our new location just a couple of days or so when the Navy yard was again bombed. This was on 31 December, and this time the enemy really finished the job, killing many, and wounding many more. I saw some of the casualties (mostly Filipinos) as they were brought to our hospital, and some of the injuries were nothing short of ghastly. This was my initiation into what takes place in a hospital when emergency patients axe brought in. Even though I saw more revolting sights later on behind barbed-wire, I’m afraid I shall never forget this initial baptism of fire.

The Navy yard had undergone a terrific bombing on 10 December. We had seen the planes go over the waterfront on their way across the bay, and heard the terrific thud of the bombs in the distance. This was really the signal for ships to leave the bay, but the Canopus, with Chaplain McManus aboard, stayed — in order to “mother” her subs, which already were operating in adjacent waters. On Christmas eve the Canopus narrowly escaped being hit while tied up at the waterfront, and was ordered out of Manila to Marivales Bay — on the Southern tip of Bataan, where she continued to service her subs. On 29 December she was no longer able to dodge the bombs, and took a direct hit, which resulted in many casualties.Chaplain McManus conducted himself in the highest traditions of the Navy, and of the Chaplains Corps, during this terrifying experience. “His courageous action, beyond the call of duty and in the face of grave danger” caused him to receive the Silver Star Medal, although it had to be awarded posthumously — to his mother.

As the fortunes of our defenders became increasingly desperate our Naval forces were moved from Mariveles Bay to Corregidor. This took place early  in April, and the Canopus was moved to deeper water and scuttled. Following the surrender of Bataan’and Corregidor Chaplain McManus found himself in Japanese hands.

Getting back to our Girls School hospital, we didn’t have long to wait before we learned what was going to happen to us. I had been forced to give up any idea of being able to get out of Manila. As far as trying to escape at this time was concerned, I was in no physical condition to make a break for it, since my “incision”, which had to heal by granulation, required daily dressing. This had not been done regularly, so it took additional time before I could get around in normal comfort. Also, where and how could you go? I had tried to get away by water and had failed, and by land I wouldn’t have known where to start. Another thing that entered into our thinking (much of it wishful — as we know now) was the-idea that “this just couldn’t last very long. Our fortifications were impregn’able, and our men, of course, were bound to be victorious.”- We Americans had to swallow*the bitter pill of learning that we don’t necessarily always win every battle.

The atmosphere in our new hospital setup was one of watchful waiting. There was a kind of an eerie feeling — it was too quiet for comfort! In a sense we were prisoners of our own situation — hoping that “something” would happen to free us — not being willing to admit to ourselves that this could be the prelude to our being interned and becoming prisoners of war for the duration, which we figured would be short. Later we were sent to real prisoner of war camps that made our present situation seem almost like a country club, by comparison. But this part of my story will come a little later on. “Leave” us “enjoy” our present situation, in which many of us thought we were being terribly deprived. Actually, however, even after being “officially” interned here as a unit by the Japanese, we had most of the necessities, if not all of the comforts, of life. Even though we were “fenced-in” by the walls around the school grounds, we did have limited freedom to circulate around the place, which, though not overly spacious, provided room for fresh air, exercise and some recreation.

I mentioned previously that from the time we landed at this school there was a definite feeling of anxious apprehension pervading the atmosphere. It was as though we were in a vacuum; we didn’t have to continue in this state very long, however. There had been all kinds of rumors, and we knew that the enemy was gaining complete control of the area. What we didn’t know was what our status would be, and how we would be treated, since we were a non-combatant unit. Finally, on 2 January we heard the clomp, clomp of hobnailed boots on the pavement in the distance, plus what might have been somewhat of a victory song on the part of the Japanese soldiers. It sounded to us more, like a cross between guttural shouting and a weird sort of singing — a very distinctive sound, which we were to hear much more of later. Incidentally, I never learned to appreciate it. Suffice it to say here that in our present situation it was even more frightening than it might have been later on in other circumstances — partly because it was new to us.

As the sounds became louder and louder, and we knew they were approaching us, Captain R. G. Davis, our Commanding Officer, called me in and placed me in charge of lowering our American flag – before the enemy might have a chance to order us to do so — or to do so himself, perhaps desecrating it in the process. So, with mixed feelings I chose a couple of my corpsmen friends to help, and we sadly, and reverently, I hope, lowered the Stars and Stripes, folded it up and hid it in a remote closet topside in the administration building. Some of us would not see Old Glory flying again for more than three years, while most of our people, who were caught over there, had seen our flag waving for the last time for three years. Since someone had to lower the flag, I am not sure but what I am glad that it fell to my lot, although I was not without a feeling of sadness and emptiness. It was an experience very hard to describe, although I can still feel it.

I have never felt that I have been essentially a so-called typical “flag-waver”, but I have never hesitated to speak out both in private and public for that for which our national emblem stands. I can certainly testify that when you have seen only the flag of the enemy, who has complete physical control over you,- for three years, — well, it does something to you when you are able to see your’ own flag flying once more. I wonder if the young flag burners, and other anarchists among us, would have the faintest idea of what I’m talking about here; I’m afraid not. I guess, however, I had better not pursue this thought further, for I have some very definite ideas, which I might not express too politely, about those who fail to’ appreciate the privileges, responsibilities and obligations of Americans.

While we pretty well knew that we had been under some kind of surveillance right along, and that the enemy knew who we were, where we were, and what we were doing, now we were anxious to see what our new status would be, and how we would be treated under an unpredictable enemy. So, we were all eyes and ears, hoping for the best. Actually, the change was not too abrupt. . Japanese officers in charge, with a detail of soldiers, did march onto the grounds in such a manner as to let us know who was in charge, and that we were to act accordingly — or else. Their officer in charge gave our Command the “word”, and proceeded, with his Staff, to give the place a crisp inspection. This included inspection of our sleeping quarters, and “all” our personal gear, which we were required to spread out on the deck. During this procedure, also, they seemed t® want to impress us with the idea that they were in charge around there, and that “we had better straighten up and fly right” — if we knew what was good for us. They didn’t smile much in the process, and I imagine that most of us had little reason to disbelieve what they were telling us. They immediately posted their guards — in plain sight now, but, for the most part, our “style was not cramped” too ouch during our stay here. They seemed to be willing to let us take care of our sick and wounded, and that kept the Staff pretty busy — especially during the first several weeks of our detention here. The Japanese also seemed to be glad to let us feed and take care of ourselves — under their surveillance and over-all supervision. This was an interim period, and everybody — including the Japanese, I suppose, where somewhat suspended in midair, not being sure what the score was, or would be.

There were still some of us that hoped against hope that something would happen soon to free us from this Quarantine right in the midst of this teeming city. The decisive battles for Bataan and Corregidor had yet to be fought, and many of us just simply didn’t realize how the odds were stacked against us … not until we had to. Naturally now all legitimate means of communication were closed. There were a few Filipino civilians among us; they and some others had certain grapevine or underground contacts with Filipinos on the outside, The prevalent word was “very soon now, Joe.” This persisted, in different forms and in various places, thoughout most of the ensuing three years. My friend, Commander Alan McCracken, wrote a very fine little factual book, whose title is “Very soon now, Joe.” I will have occasion to mention the Commander later in my story.

American civilians and those of other nationalities were interned in various places for the duration. These included women and children.
This created some very real problems — but this is another story, which if it has not been fully told, should be recorded for posterity. We had no contact whatever with civilian internees — even though, in a couple of places they, were housed within a mile or so of our POW camps. Although they suffered plenty, and their treatment and food were similar to ours in some respects, we were glad that they did not have to experience some of the-things which we were forced to undergo — as “guests of the Emperor.”

The arrangement of the buildings at our school was quite a compact one, and along with being enclosed, this set-up must have suited the enemy, as far as security was concerned. Evidently a minimum number of guards was required to ride herd on a bunch of noncombatants, most of whom were incapacitated in various degrees. The place was quite well adapted to our purposes, too. Our working, eating, and sleeping and recreation areas were not far apart, and were easily accessible, and, as I mentioned previously, the place was usable enough for patient care. I was fortunate in being assigned a room to myself; it was large enough for a cot and a small table, which I used for my desk. Toilet facilities, which I mentioned earlier were down the hall. Although there was only cold water in the shower, that was no particular hardship in that tropical, sticky atmosphere. This was peaches and cream compared to. what we were to experience later. My room was on the second deck of this two-story building, and faced-on a side street, which intersected the Boulevard.

One day, quite early in our sojourn here, 1 was sitting at my little desk reading and/or writing, when I’heard what sounded like marching soldiers approaching on our side street. As I identified the noise, and looked out of my window, I could see a squad of Japanese soldiers (making their usual noises) preceded by one lone man — not in uniform. As they drew closer I could identify, a hand-cuffed Filipino, who apparently was being taken to the outskirts of the city to face the firing-squad. Since I was within fifty feet of this scene, I could see the terrified expression on this helpless man’s face. I can testify to the fact that it was a bone-chilling experience.
This was the first scene of this kind that I was to witness, but not the last, by any means, in this general category.

In the process of taking over Manila, and other areas of the Philip- pines, the Japanese were plenty rough on the natives in general, and on certain individuals in particular, especially those who didn’t seem too anxious to lend a hand in carrying out the enemy’s wishes and purposes. From our vantage point, we could not see all that went on, but we did hear reports that we felt to be authentic, and which later have been documented.

Also, there was a microcosm of this sort of thing in our own front yard.
From topside of the administration building (our vantage-point) we could (and some of us did) look out on the boulevard entrance to the school from time to time. At times this was a scene of considerable activity. Filipinos were not only passing by, but there were some who sought to gain entrance (most of them unsuccessfully) in order to see and bring things to friends who were either patients or perhaps members of the Staff, for whom they had worked — either in business, or as domestics. In addition to regular Navy personnel we had with us some reserve officers, who had lived in Manila and elsewhere in the Islands, for years, and there resulted between’ them some very firm attachments. Here I personally saw several Filipinos beaten-up unmercifully, simply because they wanted to help a friend. A part of this treatment of the Filipinos could have been designed”, by the enemy„ to impress — and to serve as a warning — to us Americans. I rather imagine that for many of us this purpose was served.

Whether I was officially designated as such I’m not sure, but I seemed to become more or less involved with recreation and education, in addition.to being considered morale officer here in this strange situation. Within a few weeks, more and more patients became ambulatory and needed less care. Also, the work load became less demanding .for doctors, nurses, administrative officers and corpsmen. So, it became apparent to some of us that some creative activities might be indicated. The result was that we were able to organize some classes and schedule some games and tournaments — such as volleyball and horseshoes. Classes were held in such – subjects as English, Spanish, French, German — and whatever we could find teachers and “customers” for. The classes and other formal activities were conducted in the afternoon, since a hospital is a pretty busy place during the morning hours. These classes proved to be helpful, not-only in occupying spare time, but it was quite evident that they were of great value culturally, therapeutically, and also as far as morale was concerned. Miss Marie Adams, the Red Cross representative, was instrumental in helping to plan and implement this program. As far as the teachers were concerned, it was quite interesting to find hidden talent to help us carry on. Americans, wherever you find them, are usually resourceful and enterprising. This became even more evident in other situations later on.

The teacher here, with whom I had the most association, was a young Ensign almost fresh out of the Naval Academy, who taught Spanish, having had that subject as his minor at Annapolis. He was a fine looking blond chap, who had received shoulder and arm wounds at Cavite. It became my privilege to call on his mother three and one half years later in Coronado to tell her of my association with her fine son. She had previously received the word that my friend, was among the seventy-five percent who did not survive our ordeal out there. Our Ensign had two Spanish classes — one for beginners, and another for advanced students. Since, as a youngster, I had lived in a .Southern California town which was about half Mexican — maybe-absorbing some Spanish,by “osmosis” — and since I had had about three years of the language in junior and senior high (twenty-five years previously), I joined the advanced class. This was an especially interesting experience, since our ensign’s teacher at the Academy evidently specialized in pointing out and emphasizing the similarity between English and Spanish words. In fact, he must have been “hep” on this, and our ensign followed suit. Although the similarity in some words seemed quite remote and hard to figure out, this procedure was helpful, and our young teacher was a good one. After a couple of months our teacher had recovered sufficiently to be considered able- bodied enough (by the Japanese — if not by our doctors) to do manual labor, so they took him (and others) to supplement their work-force down on the docks. There was no one available to take the advanced class now, but my Ensign friend did entrust me with the beginners group, which may have been a case of the semi-blind leading the almost-blind. It was probably a good thing that this class, as well as others, had to be terminated after a few weeks, since my students were speedily overtaking me!

At the time, the classes did seem to fill a real need, and this was also true of the recreational and occupational therapy activities. We had some good athletes among the corpsmen and patients. There wasn’t room for softball, as such, but there were some spirited volleyball games, and, of course, the “old chaplain” had to show some of the “boys” how “barnyard golf” is played! If you are wondering where all this equipment, and the books for the classes, etc. came from — well, that’s a good question. Some of it … especially books — must have come from the school library, which still contained a few books. As far as other things were concerned, as I have mentioned before, everything possible was brought from Canacao. Also, these hospital corpsmen, who were among the best “scroungers” I have ever seen (this is a compliment, son), just could have done some “midnight requisitioning” elsewhere — in the process. They were people of great foresight! From the stock-pile of various and sundry items in our storeroom I was able to add a few items to the very few things I had taken with me for my “short” stay in the hospital — away from my ship. For instance, I was able to appropriate — legitimately, of course, a heavy pair of shoes, mess gear (metal mess-kit, cup and canteen), a couple of 6″ x 9″ notebooks, and even a few pocket New Testaments, which I distributed on request. Later in my story I will have an almost unbelievable tale to tell that involved one of these New Testaments. I am reminded of a story I heard many years ago, of a person who had his New Testament rebound. When it came back from the book binders, instead of the words “The New Testament” on the front cover, he found_ the letters “T.N.T.” Some of us think that was quite appropriate!

The notebooks, which were to become extremely precious later on, because paper was almost non-existent — began to come in handy even now. I had had a couple of such books, which were issued to me’when I was fresh- caught in San Diego. One of these I had used for a very sporadic diary, and the other for a kind of running account, which didn’t run very far! These had been left aboard the Holland when I went to Canacao as a patient. Now I wanted to resume my running account, since, of course, there were no other avenues of communication open, and I wanted to bring, or send home (if necessary) some of the thoughts and reactions which I had had during these weeks and months, which stretched into years. During some of my off hours I also began to put down on paper thoughts in verse form (if you can call it that), and eventually some of these verses were incorporated in my notebooks, which got pretty well beaten up. I have these before me as I am writing, and most of it is still legible, since it is in my printing, which isn’t as bad as my longhand. I might even inflict some of it (not my printing) on you from time to time.

If you should wonder, as we go along (if you stay with me), how I was able to keep anything together — and come through with it — well, it wasn’t easy — I can tell you that. Suffice it to say that, when I went to Canacao, I had with me a leatherette underarm zipper case, in which I put a couple of books — including my New Testament (TNT) with Psalms — plus some writing – materials and precious pictures of my family. I was able to keep this with me somehow — partly because I considered it, and its contents, a chaplain’s privileged materials. I don’t know, as I look back now on some of the risks involved, whether I would again take some of those risks. But, of course, I was a quarter of a century .younger then! I am happy to report that I did get home with the underarm case and its contents, which I had guarded so jealously. I wasn’t so happy, though, when Rosie made me relinquish “that old beaten-up,
• moth-eaten, musty-smelling thing.” She did replace it with a real nice kind of V.I.P. case, which, I suppose, tickled my vanity, and I gradually got used to being without my former “companion” of more than three years.

In addition to running-accounts and verse, I copied quite a few quotes from some books, which were available to us then, but not later. Some of these quotes that were helpful at the time, I expect to be interspersed now and then. Also, some of the texts, themes and thoughts in connection with sermons I preached in certain situations may be of some interest. I don’t aim to’ apologize beforehand, but it should be borne in mind that the only “tools” I had available (until I got hold of a complete Bible late in the game) consisted of “TNT” — with Psalms (thank the Lord) and a very limited amount of paper. I can testify, however, that I had plenty of material, and a thousand times more truth than I could possibly digest and proclaim. In a very real sense I never enjoyed preaching more anywhere. A preacher is really on a spot when his parishoners are people among whom he is living so closely and intimately. There probably could be no more soul-searching and » humbling experiences than those in situations that were so inhuman at times that they seemed almost hopeless. I’m sure that I must have needed such experiences, and I am thankful for the lessons I learned from them. In this sense I am grateful for some of the things I learned the hard way. “God works in a mysterious way His wonders to perform.”

Following is one of the first things (dated Feb. 1942 — the month after internment) I wrote while at our girls’ school in Manila:

“A Pacific Prayer”
O God, who rulest waves and seas, •
Our Father, guide and friend Thou art.
Why is it, Lord, through times like these,

That sons of thine are forced apart?
We see the world involved in strife

And think of what the end may he;
And yet we know that in Thy life

Alone is found true liberty.
And so we look beyond the clouds,
Reach out and take Thy hands. —
By faith — (in spite of shrouds),
Though we cannot understand.
We see young men who hear the call

Of the countries of their birth,

But we do not think their all

Can be buried in the earth.


Others we have seen with earful wounds
And fearful scars to carry through the years.
But we are sure that all which mars

Still brings the Master’s tears.
For He it was Who cared
When God’s least child was maimed,
And wept when common graves were shared,
Not asking who was blamed.
Not only so — but He alone

Did suffer more than we —
Before at- last He gave His life

For you, end even me.
So we might know that since He lived

And ever lives again.
The future must bring forth

The peace we crave,
And good-will toward all men.
With this our faith we must not fail

Our God, our tend, our home..
Then we shall find eternal peace —
No matter what may come!
I mentioned earlier that after we were interned — when Manila became an open city — our Japanese guards were much in evidence; not that they bothered us a whole lot during this period — except when it was suddenly decided that there should be an inspection. Otherwise, our paths crossed only during their usual rounds. One day, as I was about to enter our dormitory, I was stopped by a young guard who seemed to be interested in the cross (the Christian chaplain’s insignia) on my collar. Pointing to the cross, and then directly to me, he asked, “you — Christian?” I replied that I was, and since he didn’t seem to care to_pursue the conversation furtheT (perhaps because of the language barrier — or maybe because of feaT of being watched by his superior), I hurried up to my Toom, got down on my knees, and confessed that I wasn’t as good a Christian as I ought to be, and asked the Lord to help me be a better and more useful one.
This was a humbling experience.

I assumed that this Japanese lad had come under some kind of Christian influence (as a result of missionary activity) at home … and might have been trying to let me know that. At any rate, it was a memorable experience, which probably did me good, and I hope it didn’t do the guard any harm. We experienced other instances of this kind throughout our long period of captivity, some guards having openly (but not too loudly) announced that they were Christians. Most of our people, I think, were thankful for any of the enemy who had come under Christian influence; otherwise, our treatment — in some cases, at least, could have been even worse than it later proved to be. This was something to be thankful for.

This brings up the question of fraternizing with the enemy, which can be a pretty sticky problem in some situations. There are cases, from a military point of view, in which some people might gain certain ends by what might be called “selective fraternization.” For instance, this might possibly help prisoners’ representatives secure better food and living*conditions. From another angle this might be the means of helping prisoners to make a way of escape. However, there are potential risks in this kind of activity, since the enemy may just happen to be about as smart as, and maybe even smarter than you are. If he (the enemy) possesses minimum discernment, he no doubt realizes that he is sticking his neck out, in that he is in danger of incurring the wrath of his superiors. As far as 1 was concerned, early in the game I established a firm policy against such fraternizing, and was glad that I carried it out — even when I had such opportunities. Some might say that in so doing I may have passed up opportunities to witness for the Lord. My answer to that — if I need to supply an answer — is that any such critics didn’t “sit where I sat.”

“ I mentioned earlier that all the food, medicines, supplies and equipment that could be founded up were brought to our new hospital at the Girls School — at the end of one era and the beginning of ‘ another. However, these supplies could not last indefinitely, and as the days became weeks, and the weeks became months, it was inevitable that we would face serious shortages — especially evident in the food and medicine departments. As the days went by it was imperative that the rationing — especially of food should become tighter and tighter. Since we were one big family, and it was family style in the mess hall, it was expected that everyone would play the game, sharing and sharing alike. The vast majority did this, realizing that we were all in the same boat. But, as be say in the Navy, “there is always that ten percent that don’t get the word.” In some cases they get the word, but don’t choose to abide by it. This was the case in our mess hall; some developed, shall we say, “a good boarding-house reach”, and they were not all enlisted men, either. It is bad enough when anyone refuses to play the game by the rules, but when an officer (or an individual who has been granted a commission) causes his shipmates to lose their respect … then it becomes a sad situation, indeed.

There are always a certain number of people who gripe about the food anytime, anywhere. Of course we didn’t have a great variety of foods, and we lacked fresh fruit and vegetables, but nobody was going hungry, nor suffering from diet deficiencies — as many of us did just a few months later. Then some of these people who had been griping about and “turning up their noses” at the food, would have been “tickled to death” to have had what we were now privileged to enjoy My experience and observation over the years, in civilian as well as military’ situations, has forced me to the conclusion that many of the people who complain the most about such things away from home are among those who have had the least at home. There are always those (some are name-droppers) who seem to want to impress others with their sophistication, and sometimes with their affluence. We did have people behind barbed-wire with us whose families were prominent and well to do, but often these were the individuals who had the least to say about such things. I sometimes thought, while we were “detained”, that an interesting “tour of duty” soon after we were “sprung” would have been to go to the home towns of certain individuals and check up on some of the stories we had heard. Christian charity, however, should remind us that a confined, hungry, defeated, homesick man is really not a normal man.

The increasing boredom in our situation was manifested in various ways as the days and weeks melted into months, and we didn’t know whether we were fish or fowl. We were increasingly uncertain about what was happening militarily. Communications were non-existent, and the rumors we were getting were sounding more and more negative. Although some Filipinos continued to say “very soon now, Joe”, it wasn’t easy for us to see much daylight from where we sat. Of course, we had no means of entertainment (things we used to take for granted — such as movies, radio, etc.), and the Japanese were not anxious for us to make too much noise trying to entertain ourselves. They didn’t even want us to sing too loudly during our church services. With all of this gradually pressing in on us, together with the fact that patients were needing less care, the Staff had less to do. Also, able-bodied discharged patients were being taken to the waterfront, as deckhands, by the Japanese.

These combined developments caused people, including convalescent patients, to have too much time on their hands. The result was that restlessness and boredom were increasingly evident all over the place — in spite of what those of us involved with the problem of morale could do. Some people were more resourceful than others, when it came to the problem of having time hang heavy on one’s hands. This is not always determined by rank, education or station in life; it depends on what is down inside an individual. I knew of two or three men who even took up knitting to have something to occupy their hands. Others were ingenious enough to virtually make something out of nothing — as far as occupational therapy was concerned. One young, bright, ambitious Chief Pharmacist’s mate took the initiative in learn- ing the Japanese language and became so proficient in it that he served as our interpreter, and subsequently became an interpreter for the Japanese … for the duration. The last time I saw him, which was several vears ago, he was a Commander in the Hospital Administration Corps, in a very important job. By now I am sure he is one of the very few “four-stripers” in that corps.

As far as I was concerned, I realize that it was comparatively easy for me to occupy my time and thought with my work, study and writing. Naturally I don’t mean to say that I was above or beyond having feelings of boredom, frustration and homesickness. If a Chaplain isn’t “human” — he ought to be! As a negative illustration of what can happen — in this case to an officer — at least to one who had a commission (I have always made a distinction), I suppose 1 am justified in telling the following incident: One of our Staff Lieu tenants (I will not specify the corps) had been (over quite a period) developing irritability and general behaviour and attitudes, which caused him to become more and more disliked, and to be respected by less and less people. Incidentally, he was one of the worst offenders in the mess hall. There was a piano in what had been a lounge on the lower floor of our dormitory. One of our dental officers, who played quite well, often sat down and “tickled the ivories” for awhile, playing tunes which fitted his mood of the moment. I’m sure this was a source of enjoyment for many of us in the building, and some who were outside. One Sunday afternoon — when serious homesickness is apt to occur — our dentist friend gave us quite a concert, winding up with playing “Home Sweet Home.” Of course all of us were affected, but it had a very unfortunate effect on our Lieutenant, who allowed himself to go so “berserk” that he could be heard all over the place — yelling hysterically and banging on walds and furniture. Needless to say, whatever influence and respect he had had must have been largely dissipated by this unfortunate episode and his uncouth selfishness at the dining table. Such things are unfortunate, indeed.

I have not related the above as a judge, or to be destructively critical; some of us have come too close to the “edge” for that. I have told it, however, to point out the fact that it is not “what’s up front that counts”, but what a man is deep inside that determines his worth.
This was brought out more and more as we found ourselves behind barbed wire, really facing life (and death) in the raw. This will be more vividly apparent as our story develops. Wien the going gets really rough — then the men begin to be separated from the boys.

As we had more time on our hands, and no place to go, more and more “bull sessions” developed — to “shoot the breeze,” and to discuss rumors. There were various points of view — most of them increasingly pessimistic — but there were a few who clung to a thin thread of hope and that it would be “very soon, now, Joe.” Of course other things were talked about, including the opposite sex. However, as time went on there was more talk about the desire for good food than about the “other appetite.” Later, as we really got hungry, the latter subject became almost non-existent, while it was impossible to get away from drooling conversations about good things to eat. On one occasion during our present period I did overhear an old, deep-voiced Boatswain’s mate holding forth, and as he was talking about a certain well-known female, he remarked,
“Man, she would be safe on a whaler”! That expression, which I thought quite descriptive, might have been an old one even then, but I never heard it before, nor have I heard it since. “The chaplain always is the last one to get the word.” Sometimes this saying becomes true.

Included in our big “happy” family were patients from all branches of the service and a certain number of “strays”, who were non-patients — like me. As I have mentioned earlier, some of the patients  were really in bad shape. Some amputees were very much in evidence, and there were other terribly disfiguring wounds to be found in our midst. One of the most unique cases involved a story which I guess was never completely told, since the central character was the only one who knew all the details, shall we say, and he never seemed about to tell all. Our patient was a middle-aged officer who had been on duty with the Coast Geodedic Survey off one of the southern islands of the Philippines. Here there are colonies of Morros, who are militant Mohammedans. It seems that these “boys” really take their religion seriously, and are fierce in their literal interpretation and applications of its tenets. One of these requirements is that a good Mohammedan will scarcely allow an infidel (a non-Mohammedan) to even look upon one of his women — much less touch her. The penalty for so doing is immediate liquidation by means of the “criss” (pronounced “crease”), which is a deadly, razor-sharp, sword-like weapon, which can be very devastating, indeed, in the hands of one of these Morros, whose “honor” is at stake. It evidently is more than mere honor, however, since extra “stars” are placed in the crowns, and extra women placed in the celestial harems o£ those who decrease the population of infidels. Apparently this not only takes place when an individual is insulted, but also at certain times the fanatics, in their frenzy “go hermantado”, really cutting a swath, harvesting all the unbelievers they can reach.

Now, as far as I know, it was never revealed by our patient, with whom I became somewhat acquainted, whether he had been guilty of looking in the wrong direction, much less whether he had gone ashore seeking something other than Christian companionship. Nor was it revealed whether more than one of the Morros was involved in the “swishing”, but it was very evident, indeed, that our “infidel” had been very much involved. Looking at our patient it was hard to imagine how one man could possibly have done that much damage to our friend, but these guys have the reputation of being fast with the “swish.” A bopk, which some of us read out there, was titled “The Swish of the Criss”, prompted plenty of respect for these”swishers.” As far as our victim was concerned, I’m sure that none of us (including the doctors) had ever seen a man so cut-up; there were cuts from the top of his head to the bottoms of his feet. It was hard to believe that a man could survive such mutilation. I think the doctors didn’t have much optimism about saving him at first, but with constant care and several operations he did survive, although he remained a patient for the duration.
One of our non-patient strays had an interesting, if not an amusing, story. He was a good sport about it, which helped, and he finally did get home — after three and one-half years. ‘ This was a case of a’veteran captain in the Supply Corps of the Navy. He had been on the China Station and was on his way to the States for further assignment shortly before Pearl Harbor. He proceeded by ship to Manila, where he was to board another vessel to bring him to the West Coast. Upon inspecting the ship and the quarters assigned him for this voyage, he announced: “These quarters are not commensurate with my rank,” and proceeded to wait for another ship. The sad story is that another ship never came, and he, like “yours truly,” was left adrift “on the beach” in Manila. The difference was that he had a choice! Since he had no “home” he was subsequently included in our hospital family. One of the talents of this big dutchman was put to good use in that I had him sing at several of our divine services. He had done considerable church solo work in his younger years, and still had quite a good tenor voice and knew how to use it. I remember one of his favorites, which is in many church hymnals:

Come, ye disconsolate, where’er ye languish}
Come to the mercy-seat, fervently kneel;
Here bring your wounded hearts, here tell your anguish;
Earth has no sorrow that heaven cannot heal.

Joy of the desolate, light of the straying,
Hope of the penitent, fadeless and pure,
Here speaks the Comforter, tenderly saying,
“Earth has no sorrow that heaven cannot cure.”

Here see the bread of life; see waters flowing

Forth from the throne of God, pure from above;
Come to the feast of love; come, ever knowing

Earth has no sorrow but heaven can remove.” Amen.
I thought this was a very appropriate hymn for our situation then and later. My soloist., being a four striper, was taken directly to Japan, along with the other senior officers (including General Wainwright), as we were sent out to our barbed-wire enclosures. Although our prisoners in Japan were not released until several months after we were “sprung” in the Philippines, our friend did finally get home, where I hope there was no question about his having “quarters commensurate with his rank.”
Another prayer that I wrote (in verse) during this period in Manila was titled “Blackouts”:
O God, ‘please take away the darkness,
Help us see again the light.
Relieve us from this strain and stress

By the poser of Thy might.

We’ve had so many blackouts, Lord,
That we are growing tired.
We need true light from Thy great Word,
By which men are inspired.

Why is it, Lord, with so much light,
Men’s hearts to darkness turn?
And, like brute-beasts, they need to fight
And ignore Thy great concern?

It must be true, as it was of yore,
‘Tie because of evil deeds
That men love darkness more-,
And yet the Master pleads.

“I am the only Light,” he said,
And Re is pleading still:
“I am of life the real bread,
Eat, whosoever will,”

Though in this darkness, caused by greed,
Both just and wicked grope,
Through Christ alone we can be freed;
He is our only Hope.

Open, Lord, the blinded eyes

Of  rulers and of men.
Reveal thyself from out the skies.
Dwell in men’s hearts again.

We want our children, future men,
To have a world of light,
But since our darkness comes from sin,
We must recognize the right.

And so we pray again, dear Lord,
For Thy power to make men see.
So, help us all to do Thy word.
And find true light in Thee.

But, if some black-outs there must be,
We’ll have less cause to fear;
For we’ve resolved to walk with Thee.
There’s light when Thou art near.





And we would like to have a share

In bringing light to others.
Help us to know that Thou dost ears;

Thy light makes all men brothers.

Then we’ll hear Christ say again.
As He said when here on earth:
“True light is found in common men,
Who have had a second birth. ”

I used some of these “prayer-poems” now and then in my services; I don’t know how effective they were, but, at least, they were somewhat different from traditional prayers which sometimes become so familiar that they might breed contempt. I don’t want to give the impression that I minimize the great prayers of the church, but I do believe a change of pace on the part of the preacher in our services sometimes may be quite effective. I also dared to paraphrase (in verse) some of my favorite passages of Scripture, which was a good exercise, making them more meaningful — to me, at least. Another thing I did, during these days and later, was to write verses for special seasons, such as Easter, Mother’s Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas. In addition to these I wrote on some special subjects. Some of these I aim to share from time to time with my readers, assuming that there are at least a few who have stayed with me so far.

In addition to all the “versifying” I mentioned above, I also wrote “thoughts” to members of my family — especially on special days and occasions. I don’t aim to inflict all these upon others, since they concern intimate relationships and associations, which mean much more to us than to anybody else. Besides, some of them are too long, and I wouldn’t want to mutilate ny”master-pieces”. It is amazing — and quite revealing to a wife, I’m sure — how much a husband can find to say when he is away from home! Homesickness and time can account for lots of things, I guess. Added to that, we not only didn’t know when we would get back, but as time dragged on, and the rumors sounded worse and worse for our side, it increasingly became a matter of “if”, as well. So, some of us wrote certain things to our folks, hoping that some friend might see that they were delivered — just in case we were not able to do it our- selves.

Our ten Navy nurses had done their usual good job of supervising the care of our patients, under the direction of our doctors. However, after we had heen at Santa Scholastica’s College between two and three months, the Japanese evidently decided they were needed elsewhere from them on. The result was that the nurses were moved over to Santa Tomas University, a mile or two away, to work with civilian internees, a great many of whom were women and children. Our nurses were quite reluctant to leave the unit of which they had been such a vital part, but of course, they had no choice.

While the nurses’ services were missed, we had some pretty good “pinch-hitters” in our corpsmen, whose training and experience is such that they can step into ‘most any situation and give a good account of themselves. Individual corpsmen have been known to take the place of a doctor in emergencies — even to the extent of performing certain minor operations — in extreme emergencies. Veteran chiefs and first

class pharmacist’s mates (now hospitalmen) are assigned to small ships that don’t rate a doctor, and aboard these vessels they are the “medics.” With widespread use of helicopters and the high-line (from ship, to ship) doctors usually can be made available in extreme emergencies. It is an interesting and significant fact that a good number of Navy corpsmen do go on and get their medical education and come back into the service as doctors.

As the 1942 Easter season approached we had some special Lenten services, including a Maundy Thursday Communion service and a brief Good Friday service. This was to be my first Easter away from home. We were able to make more elaborate preparations this year (at least, outwardly) than in ensuing years — when we really had to do things the hard way. Marie Adams (our Red Cross representative), who did not leave with the nurses, did an extra special job on the flower arranging. She had been performing this voluntary service right along, making use of certain flowers about the grounds. The Nuns we found at the school must have helped in securing the flowers initially, but they had been gone for some time. Our Easter services did produce a larger than usual congregation, as is usually the case. Curiously — and understandably, in our situation, the attendance was equally large on Mother’s Day.

For our Easter service that year I wrote the following thoughts, titled:

Easter, 1942

You ask what Easter mans to me

This year — in the midst of strife?
One answer, only, could there be:
Resurrection speaks of life!
(“I am come that they might hare life”)

The Master says: “Because I live
You shall have life that’s real.
And to receive you need to give —
If the throb of life you’d feel.”
(“I am crucified with Christ nevertheless, I live”)

The great apostle also said
That anything that grows
Must first be buried as the dead;
And with this faith he sows.
(“Be that would save his life must lose it”)


So many things in nature prove

That life results from death —
That we can see our God’s great love

Throughout earth’s length and breadth,
(“The heavens declare the glory of God”)

The mystery of life is seen ‘
In hills and trees and oaves;
Valleys and mountain streams so clean,
In the whispering of the waves.

And Easter also means to me

That darkness does not stay;
For through the Son of God we see

That night gives way to day.
(“Weeping may endure for a night, but joy

cometh in the morning”)

And Easter comes so bright and warm

To dispel the dark and cold,
It makes us sure there comes no harm

To those who face life bold.

But the greatest meaning yet to me

Is the assurance that is ours:
Of eternal life, immortality, ’
Transcending worldly powers!
(“Because I live, ye shall live also”)

And, so I know it to be right:
Some things aren’t here to stay —

That a thousand years, in God’s sight.
Are only as a day.
(“For the things which are seen are temporal, but

the things which are unseen are eternal”)
I used the above verses, together with the interspersed passages of Scripture, as the outline and notes for my Easter sermon. I doubt that I have ever preached a better one.

Many things, especially familiar passages of Scripture, take on new meaning in such situations. This became increasingly evident as time went on and the going got rougher and rougher, and we needed more and more Spiritual sustenance. I found that passages and themes that I had used as a pastor became far more meaningful and applicable as 1 faced life in the raw, and even a “rendezvous with death.” It was not that I had not previously used such thoughts conscientiously and sincerely, but simply that I had not yet faced the testing which I was to encounter during these three years. This is no doubt one of the positive values that came from being behind barbed-wire.


Another prayer, in prose, that expressed some of my thoughts during this period (soon after Easter) I called:


“A General Prayer”
“O God, our help in ages past, our hope for years to

come, our shelter from the stormy blast, and our eternal

home” — we praise Thee for protection, for life, and

for those who have made it possible for us; we praise

Thee for the heritage that is ours. Most of all, we

bless Thee for the gift of Thy dear Son, Jesus Christ,

whom to know is life eternal, and Who came that we

might have life, and that more abundantly.

We pray for Thy continued protection and guidance dur-

ing these days of testing. May we be equal to the

test — through appropriating Thy power. Help us, O God,

not to fail Thee, jour land and our homes, for which we

ask Thy most gracious blessings — to the end that all of

us might be strengthened for present tasks, and for
those that lie ahead.

Now as we have met here under these strange circumstances,

we are mindful of the fact that there are many others

undergoing much more trying experiences and pressures.
We pray for these: the homeless, the bereft, the wounded,
the sick, the persecuted, and the hungry. Our Father,
Thou who art the Great Physician and Shepherd,
minister to the needs of these, Thy children, according
to Thy great mercy — that Thy name shall be glorified, and
that Thy cause and Kingdom might triumph. Through Jesus
Christ our Lord. Amen.

From the above you may note that I had not adopted the practice of using “you” and “your”, instead of “thy” and “thine” in addressing the Deity. I still have not changed in this regard, and don’t intend to. This has become a rather common practice in recent years, especially among many younger clergymen (Protestant and Catholic), but I can’t get used to it. The fact is, without meaning to judge my brethren of the cloth, this practice is almost an abomination to me. This probably places me in the “old fuddy-duddy” class, which frankly, doesn’t worry me too much, since I think I am in some pretty good company.

While I am “confessing”, I might as well say that I don’t go along with a lot of things that some clergymen and others are saying and doing these days. While I consider myself a moderate (I don’t like labels) in theology, politics, and human relations,, I certainly do not go along with those, and they seem to be quite numerous, who seem to have the idea that anything new is good, while anything old is bad. There are some things that do not, and cannot change, regardless of our wishful thinking. In my opinion,, we are paying the price of permissiveness in this country, as well as in other parts of the world. “Without vision the people perish.” Another way to express this Scriptural truth would be to say: “When the people cast off restraints, anything can happen, and usually does.” We also read: “Be not deceived, God is not mocked: For whatsoever a man
soweth, that also shall he reap.” It is my firm conviction that for too long we have been “sowing the wind”, and now we are “reaping the whirlwind.” Too many of us puny mortals, with a lot of us trying to play God, seem to think we can abrogate God’s laws, including the basic, eternal’ law of sowing and reaping, as well as the Ten Commandments, and others.
In the process of presuming to break God’s laws we break only ourselves, for “God is not mocked!” “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my word shall not pass away!” ‘

Well, I have delivered my soul, and I’m not sorry! Although 1 did perhaps get off the main track of my story I do not apologize for expressing some things that have been hammered out, over the years, on the anvil of my own experience and observation. After all, I have not undertaken, in “Barbed-wire Chaplain,” to take anybody on just a joyful, entertaining
excursion. This is not a “Sunday school picnic,” and I hope it will be somewhat enjoyable and entertaining to those who have stayed with me so far. Also, I hope that my experiences and observations will have been helpful, and that you will stay with me through a few more chapters, which really contain the heart of “Barbed-wire Chaplain.”

My aim is to include some of my “writings” as I go along. Also,
I copied a number of quotes from a few books that were available from time to time. I will not inflict all of these on you, but there are a few of the shorter ones that might indicate why I chose them at that time.. Here are a couple from Thackery: “Defeat isn’t bitter — if
you don’t swallow it.” Also “Without sentiment there would be no flavor in life.” From the prayer of a Scotch preacher: “0 Lord, guide us aright, for we are “verra, verra” determined!” Here is a quote from Amiel: “Be what you wish others to become. Let yourself, and not your
words,‘preach for you.” (Good advice for us preachers.) Here is an anonymous quote: “A small injury shall go as it comes; a great injury may dine or sup with me — but none at all shall lodge with me.” Another anonymous quote:


If you want to be rich — give!
If you want to be poor — grasp!
If you want abundance — scatter!
If you want, to be needy — hoard!

And from Goathe:

“We must not hope to be mowers,
And to gather the ripe, gold ears,
Unless we have first been sowers,
And watered the furrows with tears.
It is not just as we take it,
This mystical world of ours;
Life’s field will yield as we make it —
A harvest of thorns — or of flowers.”

From Montaigne:

“The pleasantest things in the world are

pleasant thoughts, and the great art of

life is to have as many of them as possible.”

From Arthur Somers Roche:

 “Worry is a thin streak of fear

trickling through the mind. If

encouraged, -it cuts a channel

into which all other thoughts are


From Robert Louis Stevenson:

“Little do ye know your blessedness; for

to travel hopefully is a better thing

than to arrive, and the true success is to labor.”
Most of the above quotes, as well as others, were copied in my notebook from books to which I had access while at Santa Scholastica’s. I was doubly glad later that I had taken advantage of this opportunity, the like of which I did not have again during the next three years.

After leaving Manila all that I had in the way of reading and study material was my New Testament (with Psalms) and what I had written in my notebook. I found, however, that there was a gold mine at my disposal, and that if I did the proper amount of digging, there were always plenty of “nuggets” for me and my parishoners. To be compelled to do expository preaching for three years without the usual “helps” was a challenging and rewarding experience — one that I no doubt needed, and one that I consider invaluable.

I mentioned earlier that I had even dared to paraphrase some favorite passages of Scripture. This was an exercise which was helpful to me in my own devotions, and in interpreting the meaning to my listeners when I used such a passage in a service. Here are some examples of what I am talking about:

The 23rd Psalm


“The Lord is my own Shepherd kind,
So no want I ever know.
Best and refreshment I always find,
Through pastures green I always go.

He also is my Leader when

Beside the waters still I lie;
And He restores my soul again.
To His bosom I can always fly,

In paths of righteousness, too,
For the sake of His dear name, ‘
He’s with me the darkest valley through —
E’en through death He is the same.

So, I will never fear an ill,
Since Thou art always near;
Thy rod and staff me comfort still —
I have nothing new to fear.


A table’s spread for me by Thee

In midst of my enemies bold;
With oil Thou ever anointest me,
Thy goodness can never be told.

So, with this Shepherd kind and true

Goodness and mercy shall always come.
Companionship Thou givest, too,
And I shall ever have a home.”

Paraphrasing also helped as a basis for a sermon on the First Psalm:


“Happy is he, who walketh not, nor stands

With ungodly or with sinful men;
But delights in God’s commands,
Nor sitteth in the mourners seat again.

This law consumes — both night and day.
So like a sturdy tree He is:
That bringeth forth his fruit alway;
A marvelous las of life is this.

His leaf shall never withered by,
He prospers in his work alway.
But the ungodly cannot see;
They’re the chaff which blows away.

Ungodly men shan’t in Judgement stand,
Bor sinners in the congregation;

The righteous’ way He doth understand,
But ungodly men produce damnation.”

I will share other passages, themes, texts and a few thoughts in connection with sermons as we go along. None of the sermons was fully written out, and if they had been, they certainly would not have been read in my services. I have tried to read only a couple of sermons (to a congregation) in my life, and I am sure they were not among my best efforts. There are a few ministers who can read a sermon to good advantage, even fewer who can give a good account of themselves in the pulpit without manuscript or notes (these are the real smart ones), while we “garden variety” boys seem to need a few notes at hand. Of course, with expository preaching (concentrating on a particular passage of scripture) you have your outline right at hand. This does not mean, however, that you can neglect your “homework.” My main objective was to offer a message of hope — not from the standpoint of a mere optimist or a Pollyanna — but based on Scripture, which pictures and offers to us the God of hope.

There are plenty of other things to talk about than the weather, but it occurs’to me that there may be those who would be interested in what our weather conditions were out there. Even the northernmost islands of the Philippines chain, which consists of hundreds of small islands, in addition to the principal ones, are not many degrees above the equator. Consequently, the climate is hot and humid — except‘in a few mountain areas of considerable elevation. Manila is supposed to have a rainy season, which would indicate that there might be’one not so rainy, but it seemed to me that at almost any time, without much warning, there could be a downpour. The brief warning you did have in the city came from the rain hitting the tin roofs in the path of the rain and wind as it proceeded in your direction. Very often these storms lasted only a little while, bringing temporary relief from the .sticky heat. However, soon after the storm (some of them preceded by thunder and lightning) the steam would rise from the hot pavements, and you would resume your sweating.

At Santa Scholastica’s we didn’t have to worry much about being caught in the rain — because of the compactness of our compound. However, people out there don’t worry about such things; the rains are taken for granted, and if you do get wet, no real harm is done, since you scanty attire is washable. One of the hazards of the humidity in such areas is that shoes, clothing and other articles will mildew — if they are not given attention, which consists partly in leaving a light burning in the closet — if you have a closet and/or a light. Our comfortable “home”., not that we had all the comforts of home … increasingly became to most of us quite a short-time arrangement as the rumors from the “front” were getting worse all- the time. While we were a hospital unit, we did have with us patients and reserves who had served and lived out there, and had a good idea of what we had, and didn’t have, to defend that area against the Japanese hordes from the north. Realistically these people knew that against such lopsided odds our embattled forces could not hold out much longer.

We had to face the fact now, as April wore on, that we were not going to be released soon, and that we had to face the prospect of a new way of life. Although some of us had realized that this set-up was too good to last, I suppose not many of us could visualize the contrast between our present situation (a country club in comparison) and those we were to encounter later. Maybe it was just as well that’way. We were not surprised, then, when toward the last of April, our Command got pretty definite word that we would be moved early in May, but of course we didn’t know where we would be going, whether we would all be going to the same place, or who might be going “where”. Naturally this announcement caused all kinds of wonderings and conjectures among us — especially from those who claimed to know of possible destinations. Some of them sounded more grim than others. It was only now that some of our people began to appreciate what we had had for the last several months.

Realizing that the going could prove to be pretty rough wherever we might land, some of us decided we had better try to be in as good condition as possible — so we increased our walking and other exercise. Also, we began to eliminate some excess baggage and to gather up what we considered to be essential, since some of us realized that we might have to march away with all our belongings .on our own backs. Now we began to see real evidences of covetousness and hoarding. I’m afraid most of us never fully learn that “a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things that he possesses.”

I am reminded here of a story I heard years, ago of an old country preacher. This good brother had been out in the “boon-docks” all his life,, never having visited a city of any size. In the course of human events a friend of his financed a trip and a visit to New York City. Our preacher was put up at a fine hotel, and given funds to see the sights and buy whatever he wanted. So, he took in the city, including the tall skyscrapers and the other usual places of interest, plus the dazzling store displays. Finally on the night before he was to leave for home, he came back to his hotel room, knelt beside his bed before he turned in (as was his custom) and prayed: “0 God, I thank Thee that I haven’t seen a single solitary thing here in New York that I really want.” This is the kind of philosophy that all of us need to learn, but, I’m afraid very few of us ever really do. A POW situation should be a good place to learn it. I should know, for trying to hold onto too many things almost meant my undoing … just a few weeks after we left our “Shangri-la”. I will be relating these details a little later on.

Preparing to move, and actually moving, a hospital unit is no small chore under normal conditions, but when a war is going on, and you are under the enemy’s gun — then there are real problems. This is doubly true when you don’t know where, or exactly when you’re going. But, as I have said earlier, this crew was a very resourceful and farsighted one, so they did a good job with the patients and supplies. The enemy had the last word, however, and confiscated some of the dwindling supplies of food and medicines, which were of such prime importance. As far as the patients were concerned, many, if not most of them now were ambulatory, a good number in the latter category having been taken by the Japanese to work on the docks in Manila. Filipino civilian patients, who were injured at Cavite, plus natives who had been working at the hospital, were returned to their homes, to work at forced labor by the enemy.

American civilians were now separated from our military personnel, and became “foreign” civilian internees. The big, young, red-headed American Roman Catholic missionary was now interned at Santa Tomas University — as far as I knew. I hope he survived to carry out his mission. Marie Adams, our Red Cross representative, was sent to Santa Tomas, and survived to write a booklet titled: Life Without Lipstick. She continued after the war to work for the Red Cross in California, and recently has been forced into semi-retirement — on account of her health. During the last few years we have been in touch through neighbors of ours, who were also interned at Santa Tomas, where they became friends of Miss Adams, who now lives in Los Altos, California. As far as I know, all ten of our Navy nurses, who , earlier had been taken to Santa Tomas, did survive, and I think most of- them stayed in the Navy — at least for awhile. At least one of them became a four-striper and these are very rare in the Corps.

Among other items that the hospital staff members had latched onto as they left Canacao to come to Manila in December, was quite a store of , cigarettes. I have no idea where they (and some other things) might have come from, and I felt no compulsion to ask. Although these cigarettes were not among the leading American name brands, our “foresighted’-’ and/or “farsighted” corpsmen realized that before long these smokes would be in demand, and were able to look ahead to the time when^they would probably be considered a very valuable item, indeed. These were distributed to all hands, and each of us received several cartons. Those of us who didn’t crave ii- garettes gave some away, while others were used for trading purposes — to secure items that would be needed in the future. This was the very beginning of a bartering practice that, behind barbed-wire, became one in which cigarettes became the primary, if not virtually the only, medium of exchange.

When we were moved -across town (to Pasay elementary school) on May 9, those of us who were able-bodied got our first taste of marching under the guns and bayonets of the enemy. There were trucks to carry patients and some of our gear, and our hike was one of no more than a couple of miles, ‘ so this was hardly a fair sample of what some of us had to encounter later.
As we approached our new “home”, and saw how crowded we would be, and how crude were the “accommodations” we were further impressed with how good we had had it for the last four months or so. This was an old abandoned school built to enclose a rectangular yard, which was the only grounds. Furniture and equipment had been removed, leaving the bare floors as our beds and mattresses. A barbed-wire fence had been built around the place, and there were plenty of guards in evidence. Sanitary facilities were far from adequate, While our resourceful corpsmen had managed to bring some food along, from a supply that had been drastically depleted — now we were to begin to learn how to eat rice, and like it, or suffer the consequences. Even though some of us did continue to eat all the rice available, there was so little else to go with it — that we suffered some pretty serious consequences later on.

This school setup was so crowded and inadequate that some of us thought, or at least hoped, that it was just an interim arrangement. We figured that this would be the case if the Japanese had in mind allowing the hospital unit to stax intact, and serve as a hospital, as they had given some previous indications of doing. Some of is learned quite early in the game, however, that predicting the thoughts and actions of the enemy was not exactly a sure thing. In fact, as time went on, some of us concocted a saying to the effect that “the only consistency about the Japs is their inconsistency.”

Since the day of our arrival here was the day before Mother’s Day, the second Sunday in May, there was very little time to get ready for a divine service. However, we soon learned to do things the hard way when necessary, and found from experience that “necessity is the mother of invention.” This was to be the case increasingly — not only in relation to religious services but also in connection with every aspect of our existence. I did not use the term “life” — for “the life is-more than meat, and the body than raiment.” We found a room, not occupied at the moment, which had no seating, no musical instrument or hymnals, and in spite of the fact that the Japanese had not given us permission (we assumed we could worship) we held a Mother’s day service. I “heisted” a couple of familiar tunes, and preached from Paul’s great chapter (I Cor 13) on love, using the following paraphrasing, after reading it from my King James New Testament, using the word “love” rather than “charity.” This I had written while we we were at Santa Scholastica’s:


“Though I speak like angels, from above,
I become like hollow, metal things —
Unless I shew the Father’s love —
Unless such love eternal springs.

Though I have gifts like prophets old.
And- understand all mysteries.
And though I have a faith that’s bold,
Without love I’m ill at ease.



And though I give all I own

To those who poor and needy are.
Like seed on barren soil sown

I find myself from God: afar.

Such love as this endures so long, ‘
That it is always true and kind;

Envy here does not belong —
For here it is that God we find.

Love does not behave with rudeness,
Does not seek its selfish ends.
Is not characterized by crudeness,
And always others it commends.

Rejoices not in the black of sin,
Bit rejoices in the true and best.
Bears all things itself within, .
Believes, hopes, endures the test.

Love like this will never fail,
But prophesies and tongue’s shall cease.
Even knowledge will not avail,
So many things must now decrease.

But when the perfect comes to light

The incomplete becomes obscure.
Where the ‘beautiful’s in sight

The unsightly can’t endure.

When I was a child in days obscure

I thought and understood as one,
But since I’ve become mature.
Of childish things there should be none.

For now we see as through a glass,
But then there shall no darkness be;
Then we’ll see things come to pass

That little did we dream we’d see.

And now abides faith, hope and love —
The three of these are great indeed;
There are no greater things above.
And love is that which we most need.”

After commenting briefly on the first three verses (“though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels”) I proceeded with my sermon by substituting the word “mother” for the word “love” (or “charity”), beginning with “Mother suffereth long and, is kind,” etc. Technically from the standpoint of sermonizing, this probably was not something to write home about’, but I think it was not inappropriate, and 1 doubt that I have ever preached a better Mother’s Day sermon. Considering our physical surroundings, and the fact that we were” in the midst of great confusion, the attendance was good, and 1 think we had a good service. ‘

Once every several years my birthday falls on Mother’s day. This was my thirty-eighth, and the first I had spen.t away from home. Nobody baked me a cake, but it was just as well, for there were no candles available to put on it. In our first year under the gun of the enemy the optimism of some of us was high enough that, when we celebrated a special day we would say “Well, we’ll be home by this time next year.” I was able to be home for my forty-first birthday, for which I am thankful.

We had arrived at Pasay School just three days after the fall of Corregidor, and a month after the gallant forces in Bataan were overwhelmed, and were forced to surrender. Consequently, our defending forces actually became prisoners of war before those of us caught in Manila came under this category. Before our men in Bataan were forced to undergo that notorious “death march,” for a month they had been penned- up and treated more like animals (or even worse) than men — having been starved and deprived of any kind of human, or even humane treatment. This story has been told quite widely, but all the horrors of those terrible days will never be fully known, and certainly not completely understood. I will not undertake to repeat those horrors now, since I was not there, and my story consists primarily in telling of events as I experienced, or observed them. Later on I will have occasion, however, to relate a few things which were told me by some of those who were there, and later became trusted friends of mine, whom I believed one hundred percent.

As we got to our “new” school veterans of Corregidor were being brought in to join us at Pasay, which was becoming a gathering point, from which we were to be sent to other places before long. This bore out our supposition that this was to be an interim arrangement. We didn’t even try to figure out why the Japanese brought us over here before they were to take us elsewhere. After all, “ours was not to ask the reason why,” and “the only thing consistent about the Japs is their inconsistency”. From our people, who had defended to the last the only entrance to Manila Bay, we got firsthand news from the front. The defenses of the “rock”, which was supposed to be impregnable, were apparently designed for a previous war, and could not hold out, beyond a certain time, against the assaults of the enemy with their modem weapons. When Bataan fell in April the people (about fifteen thousand) knew they would be next, and that now it was only a matter of time. The people from Corregidor told of how they could feel the vibrations of the constant barrage of the enemy, from the depths of their solid rock tunnels. The assaults were so heavy that it was impossible to keep the enemy from landing, which he did on May 6. Our people, including seven thousand Filipinos, gave an heroic account of themselves — against impossible odds. Although we were not victorious in the usual sense, heavy casualties were inflicted on the enemy, and his invasion of other areas was slowed up in the process.

The Corregidor survivors, after being kept on the rock for several days, and treated more like animals than as honorable prisoners of war, were brought by ship into Manila, where some of them joined us in the already crowded situation at Pasay. Some of them, Americans and Filipinos, were in such bad shape that it was impossible, under current conditions, to give them the treatment and care they needed and so richly deserved. The situation soon was somewhat relieved by the Filipinos being sent elsewhere — some to their homes. This was virtually just another form of imprisonment, since they were under constant surveillance, and were forced to work for the enemy, who was now in complete control of this part of the Philippines. By not keeping the Filipinos behind barbed-wire, the Japanese evidently figured (not very logically) that they would curry favor with them — to be capitalized on in their so-called “greater Southeast Asia co-prosperity sphere.”

After Mother’s day we were at Pasay only two more Sundays before getting the word that we would be moving on in a few days. Although conjecturing in this regard already had been going on,, now it was intensified, and the rumors flew thick and fast. Some of our people, who had been liv- ing in the Philippines, thought they knew likely places for prison camps in the Islands, while others figured they would be taking us directly to Japan. Both ideas proved to be somewhat right. Nobody but the higher ranking officers was taken directly to Japan at that time, but apparently they did have in mind eventually sending all of us up there. Too late in the game they tried to send most of us (those who had not died) north, but this is another story.

When the word came that we were to leave this “happy home” the following day (May 28) we were not exactly sorry, although — for a short stay — it was not as bad as some of the other situations we subsequently found ourselves in. This time we thought we would probably be taking a longer hike than the one across town, so we “tried to acquire things we thought we would be needing, and to eliminate what we could do without. However, you never know, and as General Eisenhower has said, “Most of us have 20/20 hindsight.” Then, I suppose, our “carnal nature”, covetousness and materialism dictate that we’want to acquire things, and hold on to them. The result was that some of us just simply tried to take along more than we should have — not that we had very much to begin with. Those who had had experience inarching in that climate knew that they couldn’t carry much — even if they had it — and most of them didn’t have much left. They were fortunate to get to Manila alive — and of course, many of their shipmates and buddies did not make it. Also some of us who had not been at the front kidded ourselves into thinking that we could handle this about like we negotiated a Boy Scout hike a quarter of a century previously. I include myself here — “honest confession is good for the soul.”

The Japanese seemed to delight in marching us through the streets again — this time to old Bilibid prison — almost in the heart of the city. Evidently the enemy thought that this would down-grade the Americans, and enhance the Japanese, in the estimation of the Filipinos. No doubt the enemy had delusions of grandeur — to the point that he tried to pose as a “master race.” Most of the Filipinos along the way were “with us” — as much as they dared.

Old Bilibid was a notorious, compact maximum security prison, from which its convicts recently had been “freed”. The former “tenants”, however, did not bother to leave the “apartments” in the most tidy condition possible. So, there was a lot to be done before the place was fit to be used by our Naval hospital unit, which was left to function there until late in the game. This became the only hospital for POW s, which was worthy of the name, in the whole area. This is not said, however, to downgrade other medical people among us, who served well in other difficult and almost impossible situations — without any kind of equipment — where medicines and supplies were practically non-existent.

I had hopes of staying with the hospital unit — even though officially I was not a member of the Staff. Some of my friends on the Staff tried to secure permission for me to remain, but the Japanese Commander at that time decreed that there would be no chaplains with the unit except from the ranks of patients. Later, under a new Japanese Commander, who was a doctor, definite allowance was made for both a Catholic and a Protestant chaplain. I was quite disappointed, but tried to look forward to what some of us thought (wishfully) might become a better situation for us. On May 31, two days after we left, the hospital officially was “put in commission” at old Bilibid, which also became the cross-roads for American prisoners of war. Here was the central point for gathering and making up the drafts to be sent to various “points of interest.” During a period of two and a half years I entered between those iron gates five times, leaving four times under my my own power,, while the last time I left in style … in a U.S. Army truck!

After staying in old Bilibid overnight we were on our way again. We marched to the railroad station — a route that was not highly populated, so we didn’t see so many Filipinos along the way. The ones we did see, however, were friendly to the point of smiling, waving, and a few even said “very soon, now, Joe.” They risked the wrath of the Japanese guards, who, at times could be plenty “wrathful.” Although I did not locate a certain bakery along the way, I could smell the bread baking, and I would almost have “sold my birthright” for a loaf of that hot bread!
We had not seen any such food for some time now, and would not even get to smell any for the next two and one-half years.

When we arrived at the depot, there stood the “super chief”, waiting to take us on a “luxury excursion.” The train consisted of seven or eight small metal box cars — drawn by a steam engine of pre-W.W.I vintage. The metal cars were about half the size of our box cars. We were divided up into groups of about seventy-five or eighty, which was the “quota”, together with our gear, for each car. Add to this four guards for each car, and a hot, muggy day, and you have a sauna bath — without the bath. Since we had no choice we threw our gear into the “oven”, and got in on top of it. The gear served as our “over-stuffed” cushions. The four guards (we were dangerous “desperadoes”) got in last, and sat near the sliding doors, which seemed to be opened just enough to provide the guards with some fresh air, which was not shared much with the rest of us — especially those near the ends of the car. Having been brought up in the interior of Southern California, and haying spent three summers working on ranches in the San Joaquin valley, I had experienced some hot weather in my time, but never had I had the experience of suffocation that we had to endure in that metal, “mini” boxcar — for a period of a half-dozen hours. It seemed as though it lasted for that many days.



As all good things must end, we finally reached our temporary destination, which was Cabanatuan City, about fifty miles north of Manila. We didn’t get a deluxe tour of the city, which was not too much of a place, but larger than most Filipino provincial towns, or barrios. After disembarking from our “streamliner”, we were immediately marched to another deserted school, which consisted of one building, with not very spacious sounds, which were surrounded by a barbed wire fence. We soon learned that we were not supposed to get very near that fence. There would have been nothing gained by our singing “don’t fence me in”, which, incidentally, I did not hear until I got back to the States in the spring of 1945. So, we were fenced in like cattle — except animals are usually provided adequate food and water. As we left Bilibid that morning we were issued a ball of boiled rice and we filled our canteens, which in most cases were emptied some time before we reached the end of our journey by rail. For our evening meal, the second and last one of the day, we had some watery, warm rice and some watery, warm tea. We were in no danger of suffering from overeating!

It was a relief to be able to stretch our legs in the school yard, and to conjecture about what the next day, which would be Memorial Day, might bring forth. Out on the school yard, while I was milling around among the “troops”, a young soldier stopped me and said, “Say, what should you do when you have a “berl”? “What did you say?” I replied. The lad’s answer was — pointing to the back of his neck — “Well, this here “berl” hurts, and I thought (evidently he mistook me for a doctor) that you might could do something fer it.” Of course I told the lad that he ought to see a doctor about his boil,and I was able to help him find a medic.

In addition to amusing incidents, there were some touching experiences along the way. One of these involved two sailors, each of whom had lost an arm (one — his right, and the other — his left) during the bombing of the navy yard. J had visited these lads at our hospital at Santa Scholastica’s college; they had become real buddies, and were quite a team. There was no water inside the barbed-wire, which enclosed our school at Cabanatuan City, where we stayed overnight. . To relieve this situation the Japanese allowed water (in the familiar five gallon Standard oil tins) to be placed inside the fence, where it was picked up by us Americans and carried to our respective groups. As we were standing there waiting our turn my two one-armed friends were just ahead of me. As their turn came I offered to help carry their water for them; their reply was, “Thanks, Chaplain, but we have two good arms between us.” So, with one right arm and one left arm this team reached down, picked up the water and strode off to another part of the schoolyard. My wife, who is a pretty good judge and critic, (constructive, of course) says this is the most poignant story of all that I have told. In spite-of selfishness, greediness, and other manifestations of frustration, as time went on there were many instances of helpfulness and selflessness along the trail.

‘Our sleeping accommodations at this “hotel” apparently had not been given much (if any) thought. Most of the men simply bedded down on the ground in the school yard. Some of them had pup tents, or a piece of supposedly waterproof material to give them some protection from the elements. Some had blankets, but many did not. Under these circumstances some of us chose to sleep under the school building, which was built on pilings above ground, as is the case with many buildings out there. Sanitary facilities, such as they were, were not operational, so there wasn’t much privacy in which to perform our elemental physical functions. This was the case for the next two and one-half years. Privacy is something you miss almost as much as you miss food.

Memorial Day, 1942, my first away from home, was to be one of the most memorable and miserable days of my life. First we had our
“club” breakfast of watery rice, which we called “lugao”, and tea. After filling our canteens from barrels of water with an oily film on top, we were supposed to be ready for a hike of undetermined length to an undisclosed destination. We were organized into companies of about one hundred, and marched four abreast, with several guards (with fixed bayonets) assigned to each company. There were no vehicles along to help carry our gear, or to pick up stragglers. Everything we owned had to be carried on our backs, and it was up to each one of us to get to our destination under our own power — with or without our belongings.

The day was hot, even at a fairly early hour, and as the sun rose higher, it became progressively hotter and “muggier.” It didn’t take me long to realize that I had started out with too much stuff to carry on a long, hard, hot hike. I have mentioned earlier that most of us like to hold onto our possessions, and are usually reluctant to let them go. I was certainly no exception to this rule, although I could say, without complete rationalization, that some of the things I included I hoped I would be able to share with my fellow-prisoners. I did have the foresight to pack my things in two different pieces of canvass, using one,for optional articles, which could be expendable — if necessary. This did become necessary before I really realized it. The fact is, I’m sure, that I was just too stubborn and proud to admit it to myself and my fellow-marchers. I found early in this game that a man will go to almost any length to gain and retain the approval of his fellows. Also, it is literally true that pride does go before a fall. Some of us have to learn the hard way.

I did hold out, however, until quite late in our march of about twenty-five kilometers, or approximately fifteen miles. However, my heavy load and my lack of condition for this kind of marching (in that tropical heat) finally caught up with me, and 1 evidently blacked out. The next thing I was aware of, as I lay along the side of the road, was a guard (with his bayonet not too far from my hide) shouting at me. I assumed he meant for me to get up and “get goin’” … or else … so, under the circumstances, I managed to do his bidding, leaving my optional pack by the side of the road. This was a reminder to me that you can do a lot of things*if and when you have to. I was also reminded of a motto, which we adopted at ray first church; it read “anything that ought to be done — can be done.” This does not mean that we can operate on our own power — without calling on the inexhaustible resources of our Creator and Redeemer.
Some might say that I made it with sheer will-power, and that would be the human thing to say, but I don’t believe it for a minute, and I don’t want you to entertain that notion. I did save my under-arm brief case, which, I suppose, in a sense, became my security blanket, since it contained my New Testament, my notebook, and precious pictures of my family.

We became aware, as we entered the area, that We would be confined in barracks in the Cabanatuan military complex, recently built for the training of Filipino Troops, many of whom had had to fight without much, if any, training. Our hike took us past the huge No. I camp in which there were already some American prisoners. We had hoped, as we saw this military
camp, and as we approached the gate on the road on which we were hiking that we would turn in here,— even though the place didn’t look exactly inviting. However, we were so completely spent that any place to stop and rest — and get some water — would have been a welcome oasis. Perhaps our disappointment can be imagined when we were marched past this welcome-looking gate (any old port in a storm), not knowing how much farther we would have to push and/or drag ourselves before we could get some rest and water … cool, cool water! Actually, our canteens were dry, and the water wouldn’t need to be cool or even clear. The fact is, that some of us, before water was made available after reaching our destination, were glad to lie down on our bellies and drink out of a muddy pool, which could have been a carabao-wallow. Some people, who have never been really thirsty, might criticize this as lack of will-power or self-control, but those who have suffered from thirst understand that a man will go to almost any length to replace the liquid lost in the process of becoming dehydrated. A man usually would be more reluctant to relinquish his canteen than his mess-kit when he is thirsty — no matter how hungry he might be.

When we did finally get to our long Memorial Day’s destination, which was an auxiliary camp only a mile or so up the road from Camp No.I, we were indeed dehydrated and completely exhausted. I had never had such an exhausting experience. The only thing 1 can remember about our overnight stay at this abandoned place is that we did get some drinking water, and it seemed as if it were a veritable stream in the desert. I-was reminded of the verse in the 23rd Psalm which says: “He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; He leadeth me beside the still waters.” We didn’t have green pastures to lie down beside, but we were so spent that we could have slept anywhere. I suppose we had some rice and tea before we hit the sack, but I’m afraid we were just too tired to eat — believe it or not. I’m not sure that we “slept the sleep of the just,” but we really slept!

Why the enemy brought us by the No. 1 camp, where we (most of us) were to stay almost five months, only to march us back the next day, is one of those imponderables to which I have referred earlier. For many of our fellow POWs (more than two thousand) it would have been appropriate if there had been a sign over that main gate reading (duplicating a sign at the entrance of another infamous prison): “Abandon hope — all ye who enter here.” This largest POW camp in the Philippines was a long, rectangle, roughly a quarter of a mile by a half-mile. On one boundary was the road from Cabanatuan City (along which we marched on Memorial Day), and on the other three sides were fields once cultivated by the Filipinos. The prison stockade was divided crosswise into three divisions of about an eighth of a mile each. The Navy and Marine personnel were assigned to section No. 1, which was nearest the Cabanatuan road.

At one end of our rectangle was a moat, which sometimes (during rains) filled with water, which was used to drain the “heads” and urinals. Henceforth I will use the Army term “latrine” rather than “head”, since the former term is more widely known. A big concession for the Navy! It was not unusual during the first few months to fine? fellow-prisoners here — dead or dying — mostly of malnutrition, dysentary, malaria and beri-beri. At the opposite end of our rectangle was the area which contained the Japanese head- quarters, consisting of an administration building, barracks, mess hall and drill fields. A road ran between “us” and “them”; along this road, farther back from the Cabanatuan road, was our so-called hospital, which was just another cluster of barracks — with almost fewer of the “amenities” than we found on the other side, if that was possible. There were enough of our own doctors (mostly Army) with us — but they were left almost entirely without medicines and equipment. So our patients actually fared very little better here than on the other side of the road. Beyond the hospital was the so-called cemetery — a very grim place.

Each division of camp No. I was virtually a camp within a camp. The whole camp was enclosed by a barbed-wire fence — with plenty of sentry towers around the perimeter. In addition to this, guards (usually in pairs) circulated quite freely and regularly throughout the whole place. So, “little” brother was watching, and we were not neglected in this respect. There wasn’t much permissiveness here, and discipline was to prove to be severe. We were neglected as far as even the basic provisions for human beings is concerned. Even to the casual reader, I’m sure it is apparent that it didn’t take us long to realize that now we were really “guests of the Emperor”, and that our “host” was either thoughtless and negligent, or maybe he didn’t really like us! Those of us who had spent several months at Santa Scholastica’s came to a new realization of how easy we had had it there — while our fellow-Americans and Filipinos were fighting, suffering, and many of them dying in Bataan and on Corregidor.

We found our camp to be a half-finished, hastily erected cantonment, planned for the expanding Philippine army during the hectic days just before war broke out. The barracks were long thatched bamboo “jobs” arranged in rows. There was not a tree or shrub to be seen in the whole camp area. When it rained, the usual dusty ground became a veritable quagmire of “gooey mud. Perhaps some verses I wrote on this subject not long after we arrived would not be out of order here:



“Now, have you ever been in a place
That always seem to be muddy
Especially when you have to chase

Like mad to a real slippery “study”?

Of course, we don’t have places to go,
But we do have to get to the “head”;
Although I should let you know:
At night there’s a “can” instead.

In spite of all our engineers,
And all of our ditches and “stuff”,
Long after the rainstorm disappears

The going ie plenty rough.

You wonder, as you slide around.
And grope through the blackness of night.
Bow you’ll keep your “bottom” off the ground;
Sometimes you don’t make it — quite!


It’s bad enough in daylight hours …
When you can see, and not just feel;
But, at night it taxes a chaplain’s powers,
And his feelings are hard to conceal!


So, when a sunshiny day comes ’round …
As they do every now and then …
Considerable happiness can be found

Even though you’re in the “pen”.


Now, at the risk of “preaching” a bit …
As chaplains often do …
There’s really, now, no doubt about it:
That mud has a lesson for you:


No matter how deep the mud may be,
Bright sunshine will always replace

The slipperiest stuff you ever did see.
If life with the right spirit we face.


So, bring on the sunshine as soon as you please,

Though we can take mud for awhile;

But, you can be sure we’ll be more at ease

When we bask in the light of your smile.
The frame buildings, which were designed as mess-halls, had not been finished. They still were unroofed, or only partially covered. There were no tables, chairs or benches. The only cooking equipment consisted of large iron cauldrons, in which the rice was cooked — over wood fires — by our own people. There were no dishes nor pots of any kind, so tin cans were fastened to sticks — to serve as ladles for serving the rice from the big iron pots to the individual’s mess kit — as we filed by for our meager ration. We ate our rice standing up or sitting down, either on the ground or in our barracks. No knives or forks were required — only a spoon was needed. Washrooms, showers and other sanitary facilities were conspicuous by their absence. Bathing and washing clothes were prohibited, since the uncompleted water system provided hardly enough water to drink. For several weeks we had to stand in line to fill our canteens from spigots, each of which had to serve several hundred men. The water was turned on for only a brief period each day. It was during this period that I wrote the following verses:

“Standing in Line”


We stand in line in the morning,
We stand in line at noon.
We stand in line in the evening,

We stand in line with the moon.


We stand in line for roll call

In the winter, fall and spring,
And for no real excuse at all …
We line-up for anything!


We greet the new day in line …
Before we’re able to see; We feel comparatively fine …

After we’ve lined up to “pee”!


And then we line-up for “tenko”; (to count off)

By our “hosts” we must be seen;

And then we are ready to go

To line-up at the crowded latrine.

We line-up to be counted at mess …

Three times each day in the week;

Sometimes you can’t help but guess

What other line-up they’ll seek.


Of line-up we’ve had enough …

To get water — -in the sun;

Sometimes it gets pretty rough …

At least, it isn’t much fun.


How swell it will be “back there”

When we won’t be standing in line.

And can sit in an easy chair,

With a pillow at our spine.


We won’t have to “tenko” at all,

Or line-up for water and food,

Won’t have to go to sick-call

Because we’ll be feeling so good.


Might even have breakfast in bed…

For a morning or two, at least.

We aan live like a man — instead

Of being treated like a beast!

NOTE:  When I wrote the above lines I didn’t realize that our folks at home would be standing in lines, too!

The only baths we had during this period were taken during rains. Hundreds of naked men standing out in the rain, washing off the sweat and grime, must have been quite a sight. We were thankful for the rains! Finally, shallow wells (the water-level was not deep) were dug — by our own men … and we were able to draw water for more regular bathing, and for “rinsing out a few things.” Our latrines for awhile were merely open, or “straddle” trenches, which bred flies and saturated the atmosphere of the camp with an unappetizing stench. In my verses on “mud” I alluded to the predicament of a man trying to utilize one of these “jobs” on a rainy night — in the slippery mud. I can assure you … it took some “doing”. It may seem amusing now, but it was humiliating and potentially “messy” then. Later, somewhat “daintier” facilities were provided — with our people providing the labor, of course. These facilities consisted of a crude open-air “twenty-holer”, complete with a metal drain to serve as a urinal. This structure did include a thatched roof, so the whole arrangement was quite an improvement over what we had (or didn’t have) before. The main draw-back for us, since our barracks was the farthest away, was that the “facilities” were rather unhandy at night, especially if time happened to be of the essence.

After awhile some of the people in our barracks decided to try to supplement the above arrangement by providing an additional urinal closer at hand. Whether or not they obtained any “official” permission for “this “project” I never learned. However, they did get hold of some shovels and started digging about twenty-five yards from our barracks. This was not too close to other barracks, either, since our row was nearest to the Cabanatuan road. When our “crew” had finished their digging the result was a rectangular hole about six feet wide, eight feet long, and four feet deep. Almost before they finished digging the “receptacle” was half filled with water and ready for night use. The banks of the “lake” were fairly firm, so the main potential hazard was- that some half-asleep “guest”, perhaps a sleep-walker, would, in the wee, small hours, inadvertently “take the plunge.” This amusing, if not tragic possibility was joked about considerably by members of our household and we wondered who would be the first. One particular officer seemed to be especially intrigued by the possibility of this happening … to somebody else. As you may have guessed, it was he who became our first “aquanaut” — but he was a pretty good sport about it. Fortunately, the liquid was quite well diluted! As far as I know, he was not only the first, but also the last casualty of this kind that we suffered. There may have been others, not reported!

With the living conditions we faced, it was not surprising that disease swept through the camp like a prairie fire, and that our shipmates began to die at a fearful rate. Soon after arriving at Camp No. I, one of our doctors had occasion to tell a group of us that it would be impossible for any of us to live more than six months on our present diet, and under current living conditions. I hope he survived, as did some of us fortunate ones. The doctors hadn’t seen anything like this before, including some of the tropical diseases from which we suffered. There was hardly a man among us, who did not in time develop symptoms of scurvy and beri-beri, two vitamin-deficiency diseases, while many others suffered and died from a combination of such diseases as malaria, jaundice, and dysentery. The reaction of the Japanese command seemed .to be one of almost complete indifference; indeed, we were forced to conclude that their objective must have been to break our spirits, as well as our bodies — without killing us outright.

It is true, of course, that a lot of our fellow-prisoners arrived at this infamous place in pretty bad shape — but many of them could have been saved with what we would normally consider to be even a minimum subsistence diet and basic medical care. During this period our captors did have the food and medicines, or could have secured them. We had the cooks, doctors and corpsmen that we needed, but there was very little, if any, concern on the part of the enemy. When you have been brought up with the idea that prisoners of war are treated according to certain accepted standards, then you are disillusioned when you are at the mercy of an enemy who recognizes no such standards. When they were reminded, by our representatives, of the Geneva Agreement, they simply advised us that they had not signed such an agreement, and that we would be. treated as they saw fit. They were consistent in this!

Soon after we arrived at Camp No. 1, prisoners from Bataan began arriving there. They (ten thousand Americans and forty-five thousand Filipinos) had been marched from Bataan to San Fernando, a distance of about one hundred and twenty miles. They were marched in different groups, and some were treated worse than others. In most cases they went for days without water and food. One officer, with whom I became acquainted, said “We often passed running streams, but the Japs seldom allowed us to drink. A few prisoners tried it. — mostly Filipinos — and they were shot down and left to die where they fell. However, if we drank from muddy carabao wallows the Japs didn’t seem to mind. That’s where so many of us got dysentery, I suppose.” Another death march participant, with whom I became acquainted, said, “There were regular clean-up squads of Japanese soldiers, who followed at the rear to dispose of the prisoners who fell out of ranks .. both Filipinos and Americans. Filipinos were bayoneted or shot, and left where they fell, while Americans were usually taken some distance from the road. At the end of the day the Japanese usually dispatched those prisoners who seemed too weak to march the following day. In some cases these victims were buried alive, sometimes with the forced assistance of fellow-prisoners. Some of the prisoners, mostly Filipinos, were forced to dig their own graves, and there were some cases of Americans being buried alive.” In relating the above I have departed somewhat from my policy of not telling of happenings unless I had experienced or observed them. However, these friends, with whom I became acquainted soon after the march, and who told me of these horrors, were people in whose integrity I came to have the utmost confidence. They told me even more than I have related, but I do not propose to go into more detail here than is necessary to indicate what our captors were capable of doing. My own experience and observation bore this out as time went on.

No wonder these fellow-prisoners had to be brought into Camp No. 1 in trucks from Camp O’Donnell, not far from our camp. They arrived in trucks simply because most of them were in such an apalling condition that they couldn’t stand up and walk. It was not surprising, but certainly revolting, that for a period of many weeks there were thirty to forty horrible deaths every day. It was even more revolting, and nearly enough to make a chaplain swear, to realize that the lives of many, if not most, of these young Americans could have been saved — with decent food and medical care. The Filipino prisoners had been kept either in other camps or sent home to work at forced labor, which was merely another form of imprisonment.

I have alluded to the lack of food (our number one problem) to the point that it might be of interest to learn just what our usual “menu” was. For breakfast we had one mess kit of “lugao”, a thin rice gruel, plus watery tea; at noon and at night we got a helping of steamed white rice, plus a half canteen cup of greenish “soup”, which sometimes contained the leaves of camotes, the Philippine version of sweet potatoes. In the five months we were at Camp No. I meat was on the menu only a few times, and this was from a carabao, which had died of heat exhaustion, old age — or something. We found it in our “soup of the day”, and a man was fortunate when he got as much as an ounce of .the meat. On one occasion (only) we were given three scrawny chickens and nine eggs for each group of five hundred men. This, no doubt, enabled the enemy to claim in their propaganda that the American prisoners were being fed chickens and eggs. Well, as the saying goes, “This was better than a kick in the pants’; or a slap in the face with a cold, wet mackerel.” I understand that the Japanese propagandists spread the word that American prisoners were given the same diet as were the Japanese soldiers. Of course, this simply was never the case. If it had been we would not have lost two thousand men in five months.

I regret to say that, as is usually the case in such situations, a black market of sorts did develop. Some of our people were not without their shortcomings, and there were those who evidently adopted the policy that says, “I’m going to get mine — regardless.” Some of our reserve officers, who had lived in the Philippines, had certain contacts with Filipino friends., who were able, by devious means, to smuggle some items of food into the camp for their American friends. A few of these officers were quite generous in sharing this food, which in some cases, probably meant the difference between life and death.

In connection with the physical aspects of our existence perhaps a word about the arrangement of our barracks would be of some interest. The very crude buildings were approximately twenty-five yards long and ten yards wide, with openings at both ends. Down the middle of each building was a three or four foot wide runway, which was a foot or two below the lower “bays”, which were formed by the framework of the building. These bays, which had to form the home for a half-dozen men, were roughly eight by ten feet, with a very low overlead, since the buildings were two story structures — in that there were an equal number of bays above. It was up to the occupants of each bay to divide the floor space on which occupants slept. It was easier if you had congenial bay-mates. To reach the upper bays there was a built-in ladder at each division post. There were no windows or screens, and the space between a three or four foot wall and the overhanging eaves was’ open. The eaves provided ordinary protection from the rains, but were not to> effective when a storm blew in at an angle. Obviously we didn’t have much privacy, which a man doesn’t think so much about — until he is deprived of it.

Since I have described at some length the physical aspects of our existence here, perhaps something of a spiritual nature might now be indicated — if you can really separate the two — which I doubt. For about the first month at Camp No. I, I found myself to be the only chaplain in our comer of the camp, which contained all the Navy and Marine personnel there. The matter of holding, religious services presented quite a problem, since there was no place set aside for them, and it didn’t take the Japanese long to place a ban on all Teligious services. However, I felt it was important for us to worship, as did many of my fellow-prisoners, so I proceeded to hold services in secret — in our barracks. This was not so terribly daring on my part, since the Japanese were notorious (although you couldn’t bank on it) for issuing edicts, and then not always following up on them. Also, one of our own “sentries” was placed at each end of the barracks during the service. I mentioned earlier that I don’t like th’e idea of a captive audience, so, before services were held in a particular barracks I was assured that it was all right with its occupants. Some of* them, I’m sure, were not terribly enthusiastic about the idea — especially if they wanted to sleep. However, under the circumstances I tried to refrain from “shouting”, and a few of my fellow-prisoners reported that these were some of the best sermons they had ever slept through. I didn’t inquire as to the number of services they had ever attended. Honest answers here might have been quite revealing.

Although we had none of the usual physical surroundings that help to provide a woTShipful atmosphere, we had a need, and I had my New Testament (plus Psalms) that tells of Him who can supply any need. One of the first texts I used was one of my favorites: II Cor. 4:8-10, which reads:

“We are troubled on 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 the dying of the

Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be

made manifest in our body.”


For a scripture lesson I read the whole chapter, which I recommend for my present audience. If this is read, marked, inwardly digested and assimilated — no further remarks of mine will be necessary.

When we first arrived at Cabanatuan, Chaplain Quinn, who had been with us at Santa Scholastica’s, was assigned to another camp in the area. About the first of July Chaplain McManus, whom I mentioned earlier, and Chaplain Herbert Trump, a Lutheran, who had been on duty with the 4th Marines, joined us at Camp No. I. In the upper part of Camp No. 1 I, which was occupied exclusively by Army personnel, a number of chaplains were included. After a few weeks the Japanese (for some unknown reason) relaxed their ban on religious services, although they didn’t want them to be too loud! So, in the army area a chapel of sorts was established, and a schedule of services arranged to accommodate people of their respective faiths. I was invited to participate in these services, along with our personnel, but our people informed me that they didn’t care to climb the hill, and that they would like for me to continue my services among them. I hope the senior and other army chaplains did not think me uncooperative, but I thought then, as I think now, that among my own shipmates was where I could make my best contribution.

During the first several weeks here there was also a ban on chaplains going out to the cemetery with the burial parties to bury the dead.
This grim duty isn’t one that anyone would have chosen, but we thought that it was important that some kind of service be held, and each chaplain served (after we were allowed to) accordingly from time to time. Each morning during the first couple of months here bodies were brought out of the hospital and other barracks. These naked skeletons were placed on the bare floor of an empty building in the hospital area — until they could be buried. I saw rows of as many as forty such bodies, which had been placed side by side, to await burial. Sometimes this was a matter of days, since first we had to get permission from the Japanese to take the bodies out to the cemetery. This permission was usually delayed because it threw the enemy’s roll-call out of balance. Also, we had the problem of finding enough able-bodied fellow-prisoners to form a burial detail, which had to dig the mass graves and then carry the bodies out to them. The naked bodies had to be carried on crude litters a distance of about a half mile. I’m sure I don’t need to go into more detail in order to suggest the grimness of these processions. However,*the actual burial procedure, about which we had no choice, was. even more grim — if that were possible. The graves, which had to accommodate as many as twenty bodies, were less than the usual depth, and because of the rains, were often half-filled with water. Sometimes some of the water had to be bailed out before the bodies could be splashed into these unspeakable mass graves. The chaplain wasn’t given much time before the shallow graves had to be filled in. Usually for a committal I used the latter part 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 anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” I still can’t think of a better brief commital service.

Our contact with the Japanese camp officials was through our chosen representatives — men that we respected and trusted. Their job was a precarious one, since the enemy interpreters seemed to be anxious to try to humiliate any Americans who tried to exercise authority. Slappings and beatings certainly were not unheard of. For the first two or three months the camp seemed to be run largely -by non-coms and civilian interpreters.
Some of the latter had lived in the U.S. and they seemed to be especially anxious to throw their weight around. Finally, however, a Lt. Colonel by the name of Mori came aboard as camp commander. The story was that “brother” Mori had had a bicycle shop in Manila, and was known by a number of our people who had lived there. The “recognition” didn’t seem to be mutual, however, and the conclusion was that the difference lay in the fact that previously he desired their business, and now he didn’t need it! We had thought, or hoped, that with an officer in charge our situation might improve, but that proved to be wishful thinking.

About this time, however, there was a temporary change for the better in that a few medicines and hospital supplies became available. Some of us believed they had been in the hands of the Japanese all along. A small amount of quinine was released late in September, nearly three months after so many of the prisoners had died — many with malaria and without the needed quinine. This medicine may have helped to decrease the death rate, although by this time many of our fellow-prisoners already had died. After less than five months three thousand Americans had died in this bleak camp. It was estimated that about twenty-two hundred Americans died at Camp O’Donnell — in addition to countless Filipinos and an unknown number of Americans who had died or been killed during the notorious death march from Bataan. The total was more than five thousand American prisoners dead by October, 1942. I understand that up to the end of 1943, the Japanese had released the names of only eighteen hundred dead. About that time we were reported as missing in action, and it was only after a year and a half that our families were notified that we were POWs. By then, of course, many of those so reported had died. Most of the people who died at Cabanatuan were men who came from Bataan. It was reported that out of one regiment of one thousand men, twenty-five had been killed in action, seventy-five were missing at the fall of Bataan, and four hundred and fifty had died while in the hands of the Japanese. It would hardly be incorrect to say that those in the last category died “at the hands of the enemy.” You do not expect a casualty rate of seventy-five percent, which may be a low estimate. Those twenty-five percent of us who did survive should never cease to wonder how or why we were spared.

While I am talking about such grim things I must speak further about the conditions in our so-called hospital, which was little more than a place of isolation and death. Those who returned from here to the main camp were few indeed. The place was a stink-hole, with fecal matter on the floors. The flies were even more plentiful, as well as bigger and greener than those on “mainside.” The odds against the doctors and corpsmen, many of whom should have been patients themselves, were just too great. In addition to the various diseases I mentioned earlier, we also experienced the beginnings of a diphtheria epidemic which took almost one hundred lives before it was checked. In some cases the actual cause of death was difficult to determine. Serum, which halted the spread of this dread disease, finally was released by the Japanese. Some of us wondered if this serum would have been released this soon had not the Japanese feared contracting the disease themselves.

Perhaps I have dwelt on the grimness of our scene long enough for a while, although I will have to come back to it again and again in order to relate accurately the happenings of those days. However, there were some pluses, as well as a lot of things on the minus side, and I certainly do not aim to neglect, nor minimize, these compensations. The following words of Lovelace took on new meaning for me during these days:

“Stone walls (barbed-wire fences) do not a prison make,
Nor iron bars a cage;
Minds innocent and quiet take

That for a heritage.
If I have freedom in my love,
And in my soul am free,
Angels alone that soar above

Enjoy such liberty. ”

Some of us realized, that although they could imprison our bodies and starve them, our minds, our spirits and our very souls, by the Grace of God, could be as free as the birds in the sky. I remembered those words of Jesus (and” they became very precious to me) when He said to His disciples, as they offered Him food: “I have meat to eat that ye know not of.”

Probably the most ^beautiful sights I was privileged to witness in the Philippines were the indescribably marvelous sunsets at Cabanatuan. I have seen and enjoyed these miracles of God’s creation in the desert and at sea, but nowhere else have they meant as much as these brilliant manifestations of God’s handiwork. In spite of the grimness of our barbed-wire enclosure, my soul was enabled to soar like the eagle. I was reminded of that great promise in Isaiah 40:31: “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” Some of us used to watch these beautiful displays of the Master Artist night after night — sometimes in groups, sometimes alone. Even in groups there would be very little, if any, talking, as we watched the Great Artist paint those matchless canvases before our very eyes. If we ever could see such colors on our TV sets, we would probably try to tone them down. the sun began to fade below the horizon, new and varied colors and blendings would begin to take its place … until above the surrounding horizon was a veritable complete panorama of color that could not be matched this side of Heaven. Not only were all the colors of the rainbow represented here, but we witnessed the mixing and blending of the colors; some colors would fade as others became more brilliant. I’m afraid I could not be very accurate about the length of these displays of God’s handiwork; such phenomena are timeless. I’m sure that for some of us, including me, they were a very meaningful worship experience, which not only helped to counteract other experiences, but caused us, by God’s grace, to be able to rise above them.

Truly, “the Heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth His handiwork.” I had also previously copied some anonymous verses that , I was reminded of here:



“What is this Life, if full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare?
No time to stand between the boughs,
And 8tare as long as sheep or cows.

No time to see when woods we pass …
Where squirrels hid their nuts in grass;
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stare, like skies at night.

No time to turn at beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet — haw they can dance!

No time to wait ’til her mouth can

Enrich that smile her eyes, began.

A poor life this, if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.”

But perhaps the most meaningful words that came to me, as these sunsets became a means of meditation, were those eternal and timely ones from the 23rd Psalm: “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of my enemies; Thou anointest my head with oil: my cup runneth over; surely, goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” I learned here that it was possible to have a feast in the midst of, and in spite of, famine. “Man does not live by bread alone.” This is literally true, but how few of us seem to learn it — even the hard way! Here is another bit of anonymous verse, which I had copied earlier:
“In Waste Places”
“As a naked man I go
Through the desert, sore afraid;
Holding high my head, although

I’m frightened as a maid.

Night or day, whate’er befall,
I must walk that desert land

Until I dare my fear and call

That lion out — to lick my hand.”


I like that! At times, during the sunsets, some of the great hymns of the church would be a part of my evening meditation. I was so glad, at these and other times, that I had become familiar with many hymns, and had memorized their tunes, and some of the words to these great means’ of worship. Here is the first verse and chorus to one which came so naturally to mind at dusk:


“Day is dying in’ the wests Heaven is touching earth

 with rests wait and worship while the night sets her

evening lamps alight through all the sky. Holy, Holy,

Holy, Lord God of Hostel Heaven and earth are full of

Thee! Heaven aid earth are praising Thee, O Lord

most high!


Another evening hymn (first verse) was helpful:


“Softly now the light of day fades upon my sight away;
Free from core, from labor free; Lord, I would commune with Thee.”


Here are the words of the first verse of still another evening hymn:


“Sun of my soul, Thou Savior Dear,
It is not night if Thou be near;
O may no earth-born aloud arise

To hide Thee from Thy servant’s eyes.”


The last of these evening prayer-hymns (first and second verses) that I remembered out there was:


“Now the day is over,
Night is drawing nigh;
Shadows of the evening
Steal across the sky.


Jesus, give the weary
Calm and sweet repose;
With Thy tenderest blessing
May our eyelids close.”


All of the above hymns are really prayers set to music, and should be used as such. I’m afraid we do not exploit, as we might, the great and valuable treasures to be found in our hymnals.

There were other pleasant experiences during these strange and trying days, and the fellowship with friends was one of the richest. I scarcely knew anyone when we landed at Cabanatuan, but I was fortunate to find some with whom I had a great deal in common, and whose friendship continues to mean a great deal to me. The unpleasant aspect lies in the fact that most of them did not survive. My life is the richer, though, because of even the brief association we had together. I hope I was able to make a similar contribution to them. Among those who did survive was a young Supply Corps Ensign by the name of Ken W., whom I had met briefly in Manila before we were interned. Ken was about Chet’s age, and also had been educated at Berkeley, so we had a common bond. Ken, who had a splendid physique — in addition to being intelligent and handsome, had an engaging personality and was also a fine athlete, having been a star water polo player at the University. His ability as a swimmer undoubtedly contributed to his survival.. I will have more to say about that later; suffice it to say now that he did survive, and is now a Rear Admiral in the Supply Corps of the Navy, which does not surprise me. , Ken had what it takes to go to the top in any one of several fields of endeavor.

A number of other friends, whom I had the privilege to know, come to mind, and the memory of their friendship reminds me anew of what a wonderful gift we have in friends, who will live in our memories forever, even though they are no longer with us in the flesh. In the Book of Proverbs there are a couple of verses concerning friends; which have meant a lot to me over the years: “A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”
(Pro. 17:17) “A man that hath friends must show himself friendly; and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother?” (Pro. 18:24) The latter part of this verse I used as a text or the basis for several sermons and talks soon after 1 got back to the States. It Wes’ also my privilege, as well as difficult duty, to visit and communicate with a number of the families of friends and acquaintances who did not return. I hope I was able, by God’s Grace, to offer then some helpful word.

Good friends are always a source of comfort and joy, but in a situation such as ours they were the most valuable asset a man could have — next to the companionship of “the Friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” The latter is the kind of fellowship that can keep the days (and nights) from becoming completely barren with monotony and boredom — especially when people have too much time on their hands — as most people did during my sojourn at Cabanatuan. Perhaps some would have agreed with a lady who had reached the century mark. After the usual questions from reporters concerning her secrets of longevity, one reporter asked this “senior” senior citizen just what she thought of life — after all these years. “Well,” she replied, “I guess life is all right, but it gets awful, awful daily!”

A chaplain had the advantage, as far as boredom is concerned, in our situation, since there always were people to whom he could minister … both collectively and individually. I don’t recall having to miss holding any services here, and after the ban on divine services was lifted a wider audience was available. I must not fail to note, among the pleasant things, the satisfaction I got out of the service I was privileged to render. Although everything had to be done the hard way, and perhaps partly because of this, proclaiming the “unsearchable riches” behind barbed-wire was an unforgetable experience, and one that I probably needed. In the process I hope, through Divine Guidance, that some needs of ray fellow-prisoners were met, and some of their burdens shared. For one of the sermons during this period I used the 6th Chapter of Paul’s letter to the Galatians, which I recommend as good reading for all of us. While I alluded in my sermon to parts of the whole chapter, two of my following three points were from verses two and five:


  1. We fulfill the law of love which is the law of Christ, by bearing and sharing one another’s burdens.


  1. “For every man shall bear his own burden.” This does not contradict the previous verse, but there are certain burdens and experiences that each of us must bear alone.


  1. “Cast thy burden upon the Lord and He shall sustain thee” (Psalm 55:22). No matter how heavy our own burdens, or those of others, there is One who can and will sustain us, and “He is the Friend that sticketh closer than a brother.”



Also, earlier I had paraphrased the passage from Galatians, and used this (in connection with the King James version):
“Now if a fault o ‘er-takes a man,
You, who are spiritual, must restore

Such a one — as beet you can

Consider you might sin e’en more.


Bear ye the burdens of one another,
And so fulfill the law of God

Counting every man a brother,
Walking the way that Jesus ‘trod.


But every man must prove himself;

Then real rejoicing will begin.
Without considering power or pelf,
For now he has his joy within.


And every man must “tote” his load,
4s well as share his brother’s part;
To help each other is our code,
And there are loads for every heart.


Everyone who gets this word
Must share the values he receives
‘ From Him whose lips he heard

Eternal words which he believes.


Do not be deceived, said Paul,
For at our God we cannot sneer;
Our God cannot be mocked at all,
Since what one sows must feeds appear.


For he who sows gust carnal things

Shall reap according as he sows;
And he that sows from higher springs —
From such seed the eternal grows.


So, let ’s not tire of doing right,
Knowing well that we shall reap — ,
If we do not cease to fight,
And in the sight of God we keep.


So, when ther’re chances that are ours

To do some good, now and again,
Let’s do the good with all our powers

… To those of faith … and to all men.


For this service I also recalled the following brief prayer, which I had memorized five years earlier from the writings of Kagawa, a dedicated Japanese Christian, who had served in the slums:


“Take Thou the burden, Lord, I am exhausted with this • heavy load; through faith in Thee alone can I go on.”


I also recalled some words (which I repeated) of a couple of familiar hymns;
I heisted the tune and we sang:


“What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear; what a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer.”


Also, parts of one of my very favorite hymns:


“Jesus, lover of my soul, let me to Thy bosom fly;
while the nearer waters roll, while the tempest still is high …
Other refuge have I none, hangs my helpless soul an Thee;

leave, ah, leave me not alone; still support and comfort me.”

I have intimated above that most of our so-called able-bodied people had too much time dh their hands during the first five months at Cabanatuan. There were no regular work details except for about one hundred of the younger, huskier men, whom the enemy detailed to go out and chop fire wood and bring it in for cooking fuel. There were other occasional work details, including those for the burial of the dead. The only other regular work was in connection with the cleaning of the barracks and the latrines, in which most of us shared. Also, we did have our own cooking crews. I understand that later a few classes were started, and there was even an opportunity for some limited recreation — if one had the energy for it — on that meager diet, which did not get much, if any, better. There were also a few “shows” with home-town talent, and with limited outdoor facilities. Occasionally the Japanese Commander would get us together and proceed to “give us the word”, which usually consisted largely of their propaganda concerning the progress of the war. These speeches were usually in Japanese (even if the speaker could use English) and interpreted by their usually very officious interpreters. One show was put on by three young escapees, and I will need to go back -a couple of months to furnish the background for this.

Escape is usually in the minds of most prisoners, and it is one of the things tnany people are interested in hearing about. Actually, the first such episode took place at Cabanatuan a few days before I arrived there. This apparently successful escape was carried out the very first night there were any prisoners in camp. The escapees were three young ensigns who didn’t like the looks of the place, so they simply took off into “no man’s land”, since the barbed-wire fences had not yet been electrified, and tight security had not yet been established. It usually was easier for an American to get out than to know what to do after getting out. We learned later that our three ensigns had hidden out in the jungle for. three months. Apparently they found enough food, but they wanted to get away from the Philippines, so gradually they made their way toward the coast; then, of course, they really ran into problems. The Japanese were all along the coast, and the Filipinos, many of whom wanted to help Americans, risked their necks if they were caught doing so. Sometimes even suspicion by the enemy caused their execution. Our ensigns consequently figured that escape from the island was practically impossible, so they voluntarily came back and turned themselves in. Our friends were beaten when they came back, but except for their bruises, they looked better than any of us; apparently they had been eating better — on the outside.

One day, after the ensigns had been back in camp a couple of days, the Japanese announced an “interesting show” for that evening before dark. The announcement included an urgent “invitation” — to which all of us were expected to respond. We took this as an “order”, not knowing what they had in mind. After we were seated on the ground, the ensigns were marched onto a platform before us — and they were the “stars” of the show. They were forced to read statements about the hardships they had undergone while away from the “benevolent” care of the “generous” Japanese. They read of weeks without food, of jungle water infested with bugs and insects, plus poisonous snakes and ferocious wild beasts of prey. I’m sure not many of us were fooled by what was going on; this was the price our three young Americans were forced to pay for their lives. They were occasionally cuffed around * by the guards after this show, and later were placed in solitary confinement, but actually received the mildest punishment of any who were caught attempting to escape. This was another example of “their consistency lying in their inconsistency.”

As a result of this escape the enemy organized us into “shooting squads” of ten men each — promising (or threatening) us that if and when a man escaped from a squad — the rest of that squad would be liquidated. Of course this edict was designed to be a deterrent, and it probably was, although it did not eliminate attempted escapes entirely. Usually a man would be inclined to think at least twice before jeopardizing the lives of nine of his barracks-mates. I witnessed but one successful escape; this was atat another camp — and I will have occasion to say more about it latex.
I did hear of, the successful escape of one individual, the other members of whose squad were executed. However, this was in still another camp, and I can’t verify it.

One of our fellow-prisoners, a Mexican-American, passed for a Filipino, and was assigned to work in the kitchen for the Japanese. Evidently he learned enough from this association that he was able to negotiate a successful escape for himself. This was before the forming of the shooting squads. When he learned (through somebody’s “grape-vine”) that the rest of the members of his squad were to be executed, he voluntarily returned and gave himself up. He was beaten by the guards, and shackled loosely enough to walk — after a fashion. He was then assigned to permanent latrine duty, and was always followed by a guard, who held a rope tied around the prisoner. He was often beaten, and they locked him up every night. A’little later on it was reported that two prisoners had escaped from the hospital area. Their respective shooting squads immediately were isolated for execution, and the date was set. In the meantime the bodies of the two men were discovered, one had fallen into a drainage ditch, and the other body was found behind a barracks.

Later on, still another attempted escape, which came pretty close home, ended tragically. The consequences of this unfortunate attempt need not have taken place, but again most of us have 20/20 hindsight. This attempt took place one very dark night in September. Their plan seemed to have been to crawl along a ditch near the barbed-wire fence, which was * around the perimeter — in order to find a selected place to climb through. The story was that while they were proceeding to do this, a soldier who was reported to have been a former football,star, stumbled into the would-be escapees in the dark. It seems that one of the officers, for some unknown reason, jumped from the ditch, and began struggling with the soldier, who executed a football tackle on him. Other curious Americans ran out of their barracks and tried to calm down the commotion, which became louder and more boisterous — to the point that the guards were alerted. Apparently one of the escapees was so loud in his accusations to the effect that there was an attempt inside the camp to prevent his escape, that the three Americans were taken into custody by the enemy, who seemed anxious to make an example of these American officers. They were first beaten around the feet and legs — until they were no longer able to stand; then they were kicked and jumped upon by the guards, who really had a “field day” at their expense.

The next morning these helpless prisoners were “marched” (more accurately: dragged) out on the Cabanatuan. road — perhaps seventy-five yards from our barracks — where we had the benefit of a ring-side seat! Here their hands were tied behind them, and they were pulled up by ropes (over a cross-piece), which stretched them to a limp upright position. Then there began the most brutal torture I have ever witnessed. This was in the form of beatings which lasted a couple of days and nights, during part of which time typhoon conditions prevailed. Filipino farmers who passed by were forced to take their turn at beating the Americans; if they hesitated, as some did, they themselves were beaten by the guards, who still insisted on the Filipinos participating in this inhuman spectacle. The area around the Americans became spattered with blood; their half-conscious groans and screams were too gruesome to describe, “man’s inhumanity to man;”

It is a wonder they stayed even serai-alive, or even half-conscious for so long — indeed if they could have been called really alive –after the second day of such beastly torture — in the hot sun and the blowing rain. I’m sure that many of us breathed a constant prayer for our fellow- prisoners during this trial by fire. Also, there must have been a, feeling of bitter relief among many of us when the enemy finally cut them down and dragged them away (behind a.truck) over the hill, from whence we heard the rifle shots soon thereafter. It was reported that one of the Americans was beheaded; some of the enemy soldiers were real “experts” at this sort of thing; their swords must have been almost as sharp as the criss, which I spoke of earlier.

Since I have been relating grim, gruesome, grisly happenings, including a beheading, perhaps this is as good a place as any to tell of the most gory spectacle of all, which took the form of a veritable parade. It was reported a day or two earlier that one of the enemy’s perimeter guards had been killed while at his post — presumably by a Filipino with a sharp bolo knife. Of course the Japanese were all wrought up by this happening, which undoubtedly caused them to lose plenty of face. So, they sent out searching squads over the.next couple of days — to comb the surrounding country for the culprit. They probably didn’t find the actual killer, but they did find a Filipino somewhere, and chopped off his head. On the afternoon of the third day after the guard was’ reportedly killed, we heard in the distance the unmistakable noise of a column of enemy soldiers on the Cabana- tuan road — marching toward the camp. The noise was the sound of their “singing”, which was louder and more lusty than usual. As they approached the camp we could not help but see what was at the head of the column of these exulting “conquering heroes.” Would you believe: a strutting Japanese soldier carrying upright a long bamboo pole with the bloody head of a Filipino impaled thereon? This was “exhibit A” — at the head of the parade — to impress the Americans, and to be an object lesson to us. The parade did not end at the gate, but proceeded to circulate throughout the camp — with the enemy’s colors held high. After duly “impressing” us, they still were not through exploiting this “noteworthy” accomplishment.
The parade proceeded back through the main gate to the Cabanatuan road; there they found a suitable utility pole, and hung that Filipino head on it — for all to see how they executed “justice.” There this exhibit hung for several days — apparently until “our heroes” had exploited this incident to their satisfaction. We were impressed, all right, but not with the enemy’s idea of justice, or retaliation.

To get back to something a little less depressing I would like to mention the association I had here with Chaplain McManus, with whom I was associated earlier. Our principal association here was what might have been called that of ecclesiastical and/or ecumenical “Robin Hoods.”
Although we didn’t exactly take from the rich and give to the poor,-we did receive food from whatever sources available, asked no questions, and distributed it to those who were sicker and hungrier than we were at the time. Soon after Chaplain McManus arrived at Cabanatuan we got together and decided that we had to do something tangible for our Navy and Marine hospitalized personnel, especially those who were in the worst shape. So, we let it be known (quietly) in our comer of the camp that any food and/or, quinine that could be procured (we didn’t ask how, or from what source) we would personally deliver to our patients who needed it the most. From the response we received there evidently were some people who trusted their chaplains (who were hungry, too) with this kind of mission.  We did not receive a great deal, for there wasn’t much to be had. Some of it came from people who had outside contacts, and some might even have come from some kind of a black market. A few of our people worked in the Japanese kitchens, and were able to smuggle us some rather choice morsels, by our current standards. The enemy evidently tried to spread the false word that we ate what their soldiers ate; this was never true at any time or at any place that I could discover.

Whenever we had received enough to do any of our people some good, we two chaplains (with our “contraband”) would go to the hospital together on these errands of mercy, which we hoped and prayed would alleviate suffering and prevent deaths. In addition, this opportunity for service was a t source of satisfaction and blessing for a Catholic Priest and a Methodist Minister. While referring to chaplains, perhaps I can at least partially answer a question that comes up from time to time. Some people seem to have the idea that chaplains might have been given special consideration and better treatment by the enemy. This did not prove to be the case in my experience or observation. In some ways we chaplains may have been even more vulnerable — because of our relationship to our people — and in our efforts to serve. Also, in some instances we could have relied too much on our assumed prerogatives, and assumed some things that the enemy wouldn’t recognize. As I have indicated earlier, however, in some isolated cases where there was contact with individuals, who had come under Christian influence, favors might have been received. However, this sort of thing could have been a potentially dangerous game (for both sides), and I, for one, didn’t choose to play it.

Some people may wonder why the Navy and Marines were so exclusive, in that we occupied one comer of the camp by ourselves. The answer is that this was the case only at Cabanatuan, and it was the enemy’s idea, which we considered an order. A related question has to do with “segregated” housing. Here again, the Japanese were very strict in their insistence on officers and enlisted men being housed in separate barracks — according to rank. We were integrated in every other respect; we all got the same food and treatment. In some cases it was true that the higher the rank the more vulnerable an American was to the Japanese — mostly because of their apparent deep-seated inferiority complex, and their consequent desire to get even with the “powerful” Americans.  From time to time I have mentioned several of our national holidays.
At Cabanatuan in 1942 I spent my second fourth of July away from home; on the previous “fourth” I had reported aboard the Holland in Pearl Harbor. A lot of water had run under the proverbial bridge during that year; Some of us had not seen an American flag for six months, and would not be able to see the star-spangled banner for nearly another three years. Many of my fellow-prisoners had a name, and used it, for the Japanese flag, which is white, with a solid red circle in the center. The name, which I did not use — at least, not out loud — was a crude two-word term; the first word was “FlamingV, and the first letter of the second word was “A”.
I can hardly state for sure, however, that I did not feel like using the term at times. This especially applied when I saw that flag flying over some of the scenes which I have described, as well as others which I will have to tell about in order to make my story accurate and complete. From the tattered and tom condition of some of the enemy’s flags that flew over our camps, one was forced to the conclusion that some of the Japanese must not have the same kind of regard for their national banner as most of us have for ours. I have had to use the word “most” here since it is quite evident that when we see flag-burnings, and witness other similar incidents and attitudes, we are1 forced to the conclusion that there are too many so-called Americans who have no regard whatever for our flag, and no appreciation of the price that has been paid to maintain the principles for which it stands.

Well, before I got “wound-up” a little there, and had to unwind, I was speaking about the absence of any of the usual outward celebrations in connection with the fourth of July. We had no parades or fireworks, but, perhaps some of us celebrated more deeply than ever — in fact our thoughts and prayers of thankfulness and appreciation resulted in a renewed and firmer dedication to our “one Nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

Rumors of an impending move, at least for some of us, began early in September, and persisted in various forms, throughout the month. Some of these rumors could have been produced, at least partly, by wishful thinking on the part of some of us, who had about given up on Cabanatuan, as far as our health and welfare were concerned. The food was still just as scarce as ever, and other conditions had improved very little, if any. Although the death rate had decreased somewhat the consensus was that this was largely due to the condition of most of the men from the death march, who were in such bad shape when they arrived at Camp No. I that the odds were greatly against their survival under the conditions I have described. Consequently, the deaths were mostly among those unfortunate victims, who never really had a chance. So, in a sense, it became a matter of the “survival of the fittest’.’ However, none of us had any cause to congratulate ourselves, or to flex our dwindling muscles, and brag about being able to take it better than the other guy. The fact is that many of us, including this chaplain, had not only lost considerable weight, but were feeling very definite effects of the starvation diet, which was virtually without protein Beri-beri had already begun to affect my extremities,’and I had lots.of company. So, no wonder some of us were hoping for a move to a place where we might have access to a more balanced diet; we figured that most any move would have to be for the better!

The rumors began to become realities around the first of October when the Japanese prison officials informed our leaders that two groups of Americans would be transferred to different camps. Consequently our leaders were ordered to select four hundred technicians, whose health was good enough to “withstand a sea voyage to Japan.” We heard later that the leader of this group, a colonel, was working in the salt mines of Mukden. This was the first of a number of drafts sent from Cabanatuan, via Silibid prison, to work in several places in Japan. The second group was to be composed of one thousand Americans, who were “weak, but still able to stand a sea voyage” — destination unannounced.  It happened that 1 was selected as a member of this group, and I, among many others, was glad — for I welcomed the opportunity to go ‘most anywhere to get away from the notorious and infamous Camp No. I. In spite of my estimate of this biggest camp in the Philippines, I did have mixed feelings about leaving because of some of the friends I had made there. Some of these I would see briefly later on, while there were others that I would not see again. I did not feel that I was deserting my post, since there were three Navy and a number of Army chaplains left there.

It proved to be difficult to find a thousand prisoners who seemed to be able to make this move, since the general condition of the men was so poor — after only five months of this existence. Some took advantage of the opportunity to volunteer, while others were Reluctant to leave, feeling that they might find something even worse. This was understandable, since we had no firm idea as to where they might be taking us, although there were all kinds of rumors, ranging almost from “Tibet to Tasmania.”

Finally, on October 26, 1942, we were marched to the main gate, where we were pleasantly surprised to see some trucks waiting — but not for us. However, the trucks did carry our gear, which was a big help. I kept my precious under-arm brief case with me, though, since it already contained items which were valuable to me, and without which I could not have written as complete and accurate a story as I’m endeavoring to relate. Since I was not overloaded this time, and since I was leaner, and perhaps tougher in a sense, the hike back to Cabanatuan City was not quite the ordeal that I had experienced before. At the end of this hike we marched directly to the Cabanatuan railroad station, where we boarded our ”bread- box” metal box cars for the “guided tour” back to Manila. Even this trip, which essentially was under the same conditions as the previous one, didn’t seem quite so rugged this time. Perhaps this was partly because of our having become somewhat hardened to rough going, while the anticipation of the possibility of a “better land” might also have entered into the picture.

It was just about dark when we reached Manila, after about a half dozen hours on (or “in”) our streamliner. On our march to old Bilibid, perhaps due partly to the lateness of the hour, there weren’t so many spectators along the way. Bilibid prison, which was the only real prison hospital in the Philippines, also had become the cross-roads, where prisoners were assembled, formed into drafts and sent on their way — usually to Japan, and not exactly “rejoicing.” There was plenty of room for us to sleep here, since several of the big, rectangular grey buildings were not only empty, but completely bare — with unusually hard cement floors, which provided the only place for us to sleep. Since we had had nothing to eat since morning, except a ball of cold rice, we welcomed our hot supper of rice and soup, which contained greens and even some traces of meat. We had almost hit the jack-pot!

The next morning, before we left, I had (or made) an opportunity to say a quick “hello” to a few of my friends, with whom I had been associated at Santa Scholastica’s school. Bilibid was being operated by members of the Naval hospital staff, most of whom I knew. It was nice to see even a few of these friends, both staff and patients, even though the greeting had to be brief; I couldn’t keep the “Emperor” waiting, since I was his guest!

Manila didn’t seem very lively as we were marched down to the docks that morning. There was virtually no traffic on the streets, except for Japanese military cars, and a few calessas, drawn by underfed, unenthusiastic mini-horses. Evidently, already there was quite a shortage of gasoline. Many of the stores, and other places of business were closed and boarded up. It was plain to see that the Japanese had paralyzed the normal routine of the city, and were holding the people in fear. The enemy probably didn’t object to the Filipinos watching the Americans being herded helplessly through the streets; they probably encouraged it, or even ordered it. It was evident that the people were not enjoying this spectacle; in spite of many expressions of anguish, some of our Filipino friends managed smiles for us, waved their handkerchiefs, and in some cases tossed us small items of food or other things they thought we might need. When the guards saw such happenings our friends often were slapped-down for their friendliness with and loyalty to the Americans. As far as I know, the full story of the inhumanity of the Japanese military toward the Filipino people never has been fully told.

The ship we boarded was quite an ancient coal-burning freighter, which was not exactly designed to carry one thousand passengers — at least, not in luxury — or even in minimum comfort. We had to stay aboard this dirty, terribly over-crowded “bucket of bolts” overnight, before shoving off the next morning toward our unknown destination. We had been herded down a ship’s ladder into the darkness of a cargo hold, where we found box-like sleeping bays, to which twelve of us were assigned to sleep — on the steel deck of each bay. The coal dust, which had not been swept out, didn’t make the decks any softer. This situation was so crowded and suffocating that many of us spent all the time possible topside.

We didn’t know when we would see Manila again — if ever. But we were glad to get away — although, like Abraham of old — we were going “to a land that we knew not of.” After leaving the Bay we entered the waters of the South China Sea; if we turned starboard — to the North — it meant Japan, which didn’t sound very inviting to most of us. However, if we turned to port, we would be heading South — probably to the big southern island, where it would be closer to our forces just in case.

Cabanatuan Chapter 5 - Illustration by Rosella Brewster align=



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



“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:

  1. 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.”


  1. Ieaiahll:6 — “And a little child shall lead them.”


  1. 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.




Now we had a new ball game! Now it can be “revealed” that the letters (B.T.E.) at the heading of the previous chapter mean “before the escape”, while those above (A.T.E.) are to denote what happened after the escape.

Earlier I mentioned Lieutenant Yuki’s policy of relative permissiveness, which was based on his theory that you can trust the Americans. He had sold his superiors on the idea — to the extent that small working details were being allowed to go out into different areas of the colony with virtually no regular supervision and with very little checking by the guards. This enabled some of our people to “appropriate” food items — such as various kinds of fruits — and even chickens, which were cooked for their noon meal right on the job. Of course, some of these activities were quite risky, but there were those who were willing to take such risks in order to supplement the meager diet. Also, there were those who had been thinking for some time about the possibility of escape, and wanted to get themselves in good physical condition — just in case. On the ship from Manila to Davao there had even been some talk (of which I was dimly aware) of us Americans trying to take over the ship and head for Australia. We had personnel who undoubtedly could have handled the ship, but the odds were so great against our being able to seize the ship without too much bloodshed that the idea had to be abandoned. But the thought of escape was constantly in the minds of many of our fellow-prisoners — especially those who were professional military people. Evidently some in this category couldn’t forget the following words from the Code of conduct for members of the Armed Forces of the United States: “If I am captured I will continue ‘to resist by all means available. I will make every effort to escape”.

I never discussed (B.T.E.) the matter of escape with anybody, and I am glad it was not mentioned to me; I felt, and still feel, that this was an individual matter that must be decided by each person for himself. As far as possible reprisals were concerned, I did not hold it against a man for trying to escape — if he felt compelled to do so, and if his planning was such that he had a reasonable chance to make his way. In my own case, I might have been tempted — except for three considerations — not necessarily in order of their importance: First, my physical condition was not conducive to such an ordeal. Second, I was not essentially, or primarily, a military person. Third, since I was the only active Protestant Chaplain on mainside,
I felt that this was where my presence and ministry were needed — not just on Sundays, but throughout the week – in various capacities.

This escape (by ten men) was the only real attempt that I was aware of at Dapeccl — up until that time — about the first of April, 1943. Also, it was the only really successful escape that I knew of in the Philippines. There were several individuals and smaller groups that did get away, but these were either apprehended, with brutal results, or they failed to survive the rigors of that forbidding environment.

I knew five of our ten escapees: three young Marine officers and
quite a famous Army flier. The marines had brought me fruit while I was in the hospital; for this I am eternally grateful. The other one of the five, whom I knew was Commander M.H. McCoy, U.S.N., who was the senior member of the group. The other five members were army personnel, headed by a Major Mellnik; I was not acquainted with any of the five.

The first account of this dramatic event was related in a book titled “Ten Escape from Tojo”, co-authored by Commander McCoy and Major Mellnik, and published by Farrar & Rinehart, Inc. (New York-Toronto) in I944 — only a matter of months after these brave men returned to the States. This story was told while the thrilling and incredible events events were fresh in the minds and hearts of the authors. While considerable background was given on Corregidor, Bataan, Cabanatuan, and Dapecol, the details of the events after leaving camp necessarily were limited. Evidently at that time it was felt by the powers that be that this was necessary for reasons of security and possible reprisals. Enough was told in this first book, however, to indicate that elaborate, ingenious, long- range preparations had been made, without which this daring and dangerous mission could not have been successful.

The other book written by one of our escapees was authored by Col. (then Lieutenant) Jack Hawkins. This book, which bears the title “Never Say Die”, was published by Dorrance & Co., Philadelphia. Jack was not bound by the limitations placed on the earlier book, which could not include many of the experiences of our ten fellow-prisoners — after they left Dapecol. In “Never Say Die” Hawkins is able to tell all, and does a splendid job of it. I say this, not just because he is a friend of mine, although I am proud to have this fine Marine officer as a friend.

Although the story of this dramatic escape is not mine to tell, I can assure you that the long, careful and very secret planning involved was a revelation of imagination, ingenuity, organization, and implementation; faith and courage also were very important requirements for this hazardous venture. Here is a list of some articles which had to be procured, taken out the gate, and stashed away in a safe place in the jungle, to be available at the appointed time: compass, sextant, chronometer, navigation tables, protractor, dividers, chart of the Southwest Pacific, pencils. Some of these items had to be hand-made. Each man had to have a change of clothing, blanket, shelter tent, mosquito net, canteen, mess kit, and food for five days. Medical supplies had to include quinine, sulfa drugs, first-aid kit, water purifier, and any other medicines they could get their hands on. Other equipment included bolo knives, field glasses, file, hammer, pliers, matches, cooking-can with handle. This indicates the kind of meticulous planning required for prisoners to effect an escape that had a chance to result in survival. That this attempt did prove to be a success testifies to the fact that, as far as possible, nothing was left to chance. Among other things, each man was chosen for certain basic qualities, such as character, physical fitness, desire and courage. Also, they were chosen for certain knowledge and/or technical skills required to do the job, and each man was assigned specific responsibilities. They were able to enlist a couple of Filipino ex-convicts still living in the area as advisors and guides, who were invaluable.

How in the world they were able to keep all their plans and preparations secret is a miracle in itself; but they did, and were able to carry out their plans, which had necessarily to be altered some in their execution to a successful conclusion. It is a thrilling story, which I hope many of my readers will be able to pursue through Colonel Hawkins’ book, which I hope is still in prints I doubt, however, that ‘Ten Escape from Tojo” is still being published. We were glad to hear (after reaching the States) that all ten of our compatriots had reached home safely — by a very circuitous route. Home to one of the group became the Philippines, since he found romance enroute and decided to settle down there.

As soon as he could, after reaching the States, Jack Hawkins paid a visit to my wife in Coronado, and told her of our association both at Gabanatuan and Dapecol.’ This call, which was made during a busy schedule, is something I appreciated (and still do) beyond words. Jack also made it a point to call on the Chief of Navy Chaplains in Washington, and told him of our association as POWs, and of my service at Cabanatuan and Dapecol. / Evidently, out of this report came the citation, which led to my being awarded the Bronze Star medal during a ceremony while I was a patient at the San Diego Naval hospital in 1945. This was something I had not expected, but which I did appreciate, and still treasure. However, and I hope this is not false modesty, I firmly believe that there were many (and this applies to all wars) whose activities were not out in the open, but were of great significance to Him who sees all. Those who served well and unselfishly, though unnoticed, must not be overlooked nor forgotten; this should apply to civilians as well as the military; after all is said and done, perhaps it is the wives, sweethearts, mothers and fathers who should have most of the medals pinned on them.

As I have indicated earlier, the matter of escape always was a prime subject of thought and discussion. Now, after an eminently successful (as far as we knew) escape from within our own camp, there was not only thought and discussion of an hypothetical question, but there was an actual occurrence which sometimes evoked rather heated discussion and bitter debate.

I think the camp was rather evenly divided between those who thought that escaping was not only a privilege and a right, but even a duty, and those who thought that such action in our situation was not justified — or even selfish — because of possible reprisals from our captors.

As far as reprisals were concerned, evidently among the first things the Japanese command thought of was to vent their spleen on young Lieutenant Yuki, whom we saw no more after the escape. At first, they may have had him out (with numerous guards) scouring the countryside for the vanished Americans. There were various conjectures as to what might have happened to the too-friendly Lieutenant, who, in the view of his superiors, was responsible for this catastrophe which caused them to lose a lot of face. Anything could have happened to him — from demotion to death — demotion to death — or, a fate even worse than death. It was evident that some of us Americans were quite concerned about the fate of one of our captors, who seemed to like Americans, and who was more like Americans than the others.

I am sure that our escapees had thought a lot about the matter of reprisals as they considered the question of escape.- Jack Hawkins, in his* book, indicates that it was an agonizing decision to make — knowing of the actions and reactions of which some of our captors were capable. Jack brought out the fact, however, that as bad as things were at Dapecol, Major Maeda didn’t (comparatively) seem to be as sadistic as was Colonel Mori at Cabanatuan. In fact, the execution squads of ten each were not formed at Dapecol, as at Cabanatuan.

The foregoing should not be interpreted, however, as meaning that we were not apprehensive about what might happen to us as a result of this terrible loss of face on the part of the Japanese. Those of us in barracks in which escapees had lived became particularly anxious about rumored threats concerning special treatment from our captors. The Japanese command assumed that many of us knew about the escape plans, and that some of us must have helped our fellow-Americans do this dastardly deed to them. They simply could not imagine how ten of us could plan and carry out such a maneuver without all (or at least some) of us being involved. We were puzzled, too, but, as far as I know, nobody among our two thousand prisoners had been aware of what was going on; if anyone had been, he had an extremely unusual ability to keep his mouth shut.

The escape did not affect us as much as might have been the case, but the results were bad enough; the most noticeable change, which affected all of us, was the cut in our already meager rations. In fact, ultimately we were reduced to only two “meals” a day, which meant about two-thirds as much food — or about 1200 calories a day; this, as may be generally known, is strictly a starvation diet. It had been about three months since our first shipment of Red Cross packages, so, except for the most miserly hoarders, all this food was gone. Also, now (as a result of the escape) there was much less opportunity for members of work details to scrounge food for themselves, and/or to bring items in to friends, who were confined to the camp, including the hospital, whose census began to grow again. These developments resulted from the fact that some of the more independent work details were eliminated altogether, while now there was very strict supervision of those remaining. Even if and when food was procured on the job, it was almost impossible to bring it in past the guards, when returning to camp. So, our food situation was pretty bleak. This was compounded by the fact that our second (and last) Red Cross shipment was not to materialize for almost another year. This was a far cry from the theoretical weekly parcel — to supplement our needs. During about one hundred and fifty weeks of imprisonment, we received, including the extra cans and some bulk food, the equivalent of no more than eight or ten parcels — one in fifteen — at the most.

There was one later development that did help a little, although, by ordinary standards, it wouldn’t have been very significant. We were able, after much negotiating, to secure the use of a plot of ground (within the inner confines) on which we could have individual or small- group vegetable gardens. We were entirely on our own here, but of course we were under the watchful view of the tower guards. In spite of the fact that tools and seeds were very scarce, and fertilizer non-existent, some of our people were able to win against the worms, insects, etc. — to the extent that they did supplement their diet enough to at least compensate for the extra energy expended. I shared somewhat in the “farming” of a small plot with three or four others — including Marion, my late Kentucky Colonel friend. As I recall, our principal crops were such things as Okra, string beans and squash.

Some of the above items we ate raw; others we either donated to the general mess — to go into the “collective” soup, or we ourselves cooked it over little outdoor fires. This kind of cooking caused us to coin (or, at least use) a word, which came into general use among us. The word was “quan” which became not only a verb, but a noun. If we were able to get something to cook, we would say, “let’s quan it”, or “we have (or had) a quan”, which could include most anything. If we were going to boil some old, worn-out coffee grounds, or some ersatz coffee, made from parched rice,’ we would say, “let’s quan some coffee”. The word (if it is a word) came to be used almost as “gismo”, which is an expression used in the Navy, for just about anything for which you don’t have a name.
One of the other manifestations of the displeasure of our hosts on losing some of their guests was the ban against wearing any kind of footwear on leaving the inner confines of the can?). This resulted, of course, in the members of the remaining work details marching to and from, and pursuing their work, completely barefooted. Many, if not most, after a few months, hardly had shoes worthy of the name. There were no shoes available until late in the< game, when a limited supply of G.I. shoes was included in a supplementary Red Cross shipment. There were many pairs of “go-aheads” whittled out of wood by individuals, who fastened a piece of leather or other material onto the wood to go over the instep of the foot. One of our Mexican-American lads, who by the way, was in High school in Santa Paula while I was a pastor there, set up a cobbling shop of sorts under the main hospital building. Here, with the barest minimum of tools, he plied his trade (his father had a cobbler shop in Santa Paula), and prolonged the life of some shoes that ordinarily would be thrown away. Among other things, my young Santa Paula amigo got hold of some discarded belting, which he used for half-soles. The last, a few tools and tacks, etc. must have been part of the equipment used by some Filipino convict before we appeared on the scene. Evidently our sub-command was able to secure permission for the “Santa Paula kid” to be assigned to this job, which was a godsend to many of us. I will have occasion to mention this lad again before my story is finished. Suffice it to say now that he did survive, and I hope he has been enjoying life in Santa Paula, or elsewhere, ever since.

So, the reprisals for the escape were not all that might have been expected — considering the magnitude of the loss of face on the part of our captors. However, in addition to what I have related above, there was a general tightening of security, and a closer general check on us. From their standpoint they could not afford to let such- a thing happen again … it might have meant that the camp commander would lose more than his face next time … it could have meant “back to the salt mines”.

One of the specific things they became more strict about was the early morning “tenko”, or roll call. Heretofore, only an occasional roll roll call was conducted; otherwise each of our barracks leaders reported his men present. This was in line with former Lieutenant Yuki’s policy of trusting the Americans, which had back-fired on him. Our barracks leaders could not afford to report anything but an accurate daily count of the bodies present in their respective domiciles; they were held responsible by the Japanese, who would have been sure to figure that the barracks leaders were in cahoots with the missing men had that fact not been reported. On week days these reports were made quite early, but on Sundays (they did let us off, for the most part, on Sunday) the schedule was a bit more leisurely and flexible. This, however, was not connected with the escapes, although it did take place early on a Sunday morning. All ten escapees had received official permission to leave the camp at the usual time that morning –thus were reported present. Two quite independent work details were involved in the escape. Five of the escapees were members of the plowing detail, and they “needed” to go out to their “head-quarters” to take care of and move their animals to new pasture — plus mending the harness, etc., which they “expected” would take them all day.

The other five were members of a coffee growing detail, and they “needed” to go out to their “headquarters” to finish building a shack, which was essential for shelter, and for storing tools, etc. The Japanese evidently figured the Americans were to be commended for being willing, and even anxious, to put in “overtime” — even to the point of giving up their Sabbath rest”!

Well, to make a long story short — not that it was easy or uncomplicated — the two groups got themselves and their gear together — at the appointed time and place — and took off on a great and precarious-adventure. This meant that they had a twenty-four hour headstart (there was no night bed-check), since they were not reported missing until the next morning.

Now, the roll call or tenko was a definite part of the Tegular routine. Seven days a week; at six a.m. we were rousted out and lined up in front of our respective barracks — to be ready for the Japanese tenko team, which required us to count off by tens in Japanese.’ So, each of us had to learn to count to ten in that language, since we did not have the same place in line each morning. I suppose I could now do the full count (with a little help), but “ichi, ni, san” (1, 2, 2) are the numbers that come to me most readily. Perhaps I should have been interested in learning more Japanese,  but I have indicated earlier that I had established a pretty strict policy against fraternization, which would have been required in order to learn more of the language. Besides, I must confess that I just wasn’t interested; this was true of most of the Americans that I knew. We found that the Japanese were much more anxious to learn English than we were to learn Japanese.

Included, also, in the tightening-up process was the matter of more frequent and stricter inspections; some of these inspections were announced beforehand, while others were of the surprise variety. Usually, I had time to hide the items I didn’t want them to see. About the only items in this category were those kept in my trusty underarm zipper case, which included my New Testament, notebooks, and pictures of my family. Several times I hid the under-arm case, which, in a sense, probably had become my security blanket. I hid it a few times behind the altar in the little Catholic chapel, which had been built behind barracks row. My Catholic chaplain friends agreed that, under the circumstances, this wouldn’t be too contaminating! On one occasion, however, my Testament was left out in plain sight, so the inspectors took it for censoring. I have always hoped, that while they had it, some of them might have read the “word” and profited by it. Stranger things have happened, and God does move in mysterious ways His wonders to perform! I was quite apprehensive about this, my most valued possession, being returned. By this time (this was later in the game) I had acquired another Bible, which was included in some books in a supplementary Red Cross shipment; but I certainly wasn’t about to part with this treasure — if I could help it. In due course, however “T.N.T.” was returned — with their stamp of approval in the form of a sticker with Japanese characters pasted on the inside cover. I have wondered if they realized what explosive dynamite they were handling! Perhaps one of their number, who had come under Christian influence had helped them identify this “dangerous” book! Seriously speaking, this can become a dangerous book — otherwise it would not have been gathered up and burned on so many occasions down through the – last two thousand years.

Another aspect of their inspections again indicates their only consistency being found in their inconsistency; sometimes they would be very methodical and meticulous, while on other occasions they would be quite casual and even careless. This may have depended on who was doing the inspecting, and on what they were specifically looking for at a given time.

Another rather amusing facet of their minds, make up, and philosophy we found on various occasions to lie in the fact that when they couldn’t see something — it just wasn’t there! This was true, for instance, if you had something hidden behind an improvised curtain — or a door — if you had one handy. On several such occasions they would just pass up such things — without even looking. Of course, you couldn’t always count on this, but to our way of thinking, they did have an oblique way of looking at and doing certain things. I realize, of course, that it would not be fair to judge the Japanese people, or even all their military personnel, by those in charge of us; after all, they weren’t going to assign their best troops or highest caliber officers to ride herd on a couple of thousand (now less ten) Americans — well removed from hearing shots fired in anger. Although many of us (including some chaplains), because of being starved and brutalized, yielded to the temptation to condemn and cuss all “Japs”, in our more sober moments we realized that it was not the Japanese people but the power of the military, which was primarily responsible for this situation. It is a fact, however, that the way is not always made easy for us to maintain Christian attitudes; after all, as I have said earlier, a hungry and beaten man is hardly a normal man.

Another personification of the pressure applied by our captors was seen in “running Wada”, the dog-trotting interpreter, who became even more ‘ overbearing, and just plain “snotty”. Perhaps I should have been able to use a more delicate word, but I don’t know of any other expression that would describe this American-hater quite as well. So, you see, some chap- lains are human, too! ‘Again, they don’t always make it easy for you to be a Christian. This applies not only to abnormal situations, but also to the so-called normal life situations, which all of us must face. After all, we have never (as Christians) been promised “flowery beds of ease”, or a con- tinuous Sunday school picnic, “must I be carried to the skies on flowery beds of ease?”

Speaking again of our “beloved” interpreter, he was the kind of despicable character that engendered and intensified hatred on the part of many Americans for all “Japs”, who, in the language of many, were always referred to as “the Goddam Japs”. Although 1 did not participate in this (out loud) I will have to confess that my attitude was not exactly a Christian one at times, and I did use the term “Japs” — as did everybody else. I am glad to say, however, that, over quite a period of time back in the States I gradually broke my habit of using the shorter term — at least, in public.

I don’t claim to have the highest Christian attitude toward the Japanese nation — or, more properly its war lords — especially when I think of what they did to many of my friends, and their families. I was one of the fortunate ones, but all of us bear scars from modern wars. If General Sherman was right — and I believe he was — when he said “War is hell” a hundred years ago, then it is compounded hell now. Undoubtedly many of our present national and international problems can be traced, directly or indirectly, to the hell of war, and its ghastly aftermath. The same can be said — as far as smaller groups and individuals are concerned. However, war itself, should not be used as an excuse for all our ills; war is simply a manifestation of a universal deadly and insidious disease, which we used to call “sin”. Perhaps I had Better change the subject, since I do not aim to preach to a captive or unsuspecting audience. Later I may try to publish a book of sermons as I preached them during those three years; naturally, they would have to be called “Barbed-wire Sermons”.

Still another manifestation of putting on the pressure was the insistence now that we either safute (if covered) or bow (if uncovered) ,to every Japanese we encountered anywhere. As far as possible, I always made it a1 point to have something on my head when I was away from the barracks. The idea of bowing has never appealed to me; in fact, to bow to anybody but God Almighty is repugnant to me, and I avoided it whenever possible. It was difficult enough to have to salute our captors, and I’m sure I was never sincere about it; but it was the lesser of two evils

As far as our religious services were concerned, we had to do everything the hard way. They did issue a decree that no preaching would be allowed; this probably would not have cramped the style of the Catholic chaplains too much, but for some of us Protestants preaching is the very essence of our services. Consistent with their consistency being found in their inconsistency, the Japanese didn’t seem to follow up and try to enforce this “no preaching” edict. But, just in case, and also as somewhat of a smart-alec, I would read my Scripture, and say something to the effect that “if I were preaching today, I would take the following text and theme” — and then proceed to hold forth with my New Testament as before. As I have indicated, this did not require any particular courage, since, as far as we could tell, this edict was not enforced — nor followed.

Speaking of services, Easter was as late (April 25) in 1943 as it ever can be: It will not (according to the Common Book of Prayer table) be that late again until 2033; some of my younger readers, if any, might live to celebrate this great Festival (on earth) then, If so, perhaps they might remember how we held our services in 1943 — within a barbed-wire enclosure – outdoors — with none of the usual ecclesiastical equipment.

One of the items included in each Red Cross parcel we had received two or three months previously was two tiny cans of grape jelly. Looking forward to the Easter season and a communion service on Maundy Thursday, I asked a few of my regular “parishioners” to join me in saving one can of this jelly. For the observance of this Sacrament the service was held out- doors in the cool (if any) of the evening. For the wine we melted the grape jelly and diluted it with water; for the bread I had one of my friends on the mess hall staff make some thin pancakes out of rice, beaten into a kind of flour. These we broke up into small pieces. I asked the communicants to » bring their canteen cups, and into each cup was poured a small amount of the wine. So, the elements were provided — even if in an improvised situation and manner.

By that time I had acquired — from somewhere — a copy of the Common Book of Prayer — legitimately, I hope. This provided the ritual from which the Methodist service is taken — so, I was orthodox in this respect. For the communion meditation I emphasized the fact that the place and the manner in which the communion elements are received are secondary to that which is in our hearts. I also pointed out that we receive these elements, not because we belong to a particular church, nor because we feel ourselves to be worthy, but that we come repenting of our’sins, and with a desire to lead a new life by the help and power of the Holy Spirit. Thus this Holy Sacrament can and should mean a new commitment and a deeper dedication to Him who was- so committed and dedicated that He gave His life willingly that we might have the life more abundant — both now and forever.

Because of our work schedule and other limitations, we did not hold Good Friday services — except in our own hearts and in private devotions. We did have a sunrise Easter service, however — even though we didn’t have a mountain top to go to; but that did not keep us from having a mountain top experience right where we were. As Jesus said, “God is a spirit, and-they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in, truth.” It is very possible that many of us have paid too much attention to the outward manifestations of worship, while neglecting the most important aspect, which must come from listening to “the still, small voice”, while realizing what it means to “be still and know that I am God”. (Psalm 46:10) We are also told that “thou shalt keep Him in perfect peace — whose mind is stayed on Thee – because he trusteth in Thee”. (Isaiah 26:3)

For both Easter services my general theme was “What if Christ had not Risen?” I acknowledged that many things were not as they should be today, and, of course, it wasn’t hard to make that point. I went on to say, however, that if the influence of Christ were removed, the world would become a madhouse overnight, and as bad as conditions are now, there are some hopeful signs. For the scripture lesson I read the following .familiar verses from the 24th chapter of Luke: “Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came upon the sepulchre, bringing the spices, which they had prepared, and certain others with them. And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre, and they entered in, and found not the body of*the Lord Jesus. And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining gar- ments; and as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen; remember how He spake unto you when He was yet in Galilee.” (Luke. 24:1-6) Since we did not have hymn books, and the few strictly Easter hymns are not very familiar or singable, I heisted the tune for “All Hail the Power of Jesus Name, Let Angels ProstTate Fall”, and another familiar hymn or two — and we had a glorious Easter day — in spite of, or perhaps because of, all that was so different from what we had been used to. We realized anew that Christ’s resurrection power is universal, and is available wherever you are — no matter what the circumstances: “I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me.” (John 12:32) Here is an anonymous quote, which was meaningful during the Easter season: “If life is a comedy to him who thinks, and a tragedy to him who feels, it is a victory to him who believes!”

Previously I have mentioned some of the frustrations, which characterized many of us; these frustrations continued to grow and be manifested in various ways — in addition to those directly connected with food — or the lack of it. We must continue, however, to be reminded that a hungry man is not a •normal man. Not many of us have really learned the answer to the basic question asked by Jesus: “Is not the life more than meat, and the body than rai ment?” Also, not many of us have really considered the admonition to “consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and yet, God feedeth them — how much more are ye better than the fowls? And which of you, with taking thought, can add one cubit to his stature? Consider the lilies of the field — how they grow; they toil not, they spin not; and yet, I say unto you that Solomon, in-all his glory, was not arrayed like one of these. If God so clothe the grass, which today is in the field, and tomorrow is cast into the oven; how much more will He clothe you, 0 ye of little faith? , And seek ye not what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind.” (Luke 12:23-29)

But we were human, and of doubtful mind, so, all of us were frustrated to varying degrees, and this was manifested in various ways. The physical basis for most of this frustration was hunger, although the surroundings, the treatment, loneliness (while lacking privacy), homesickness, a feeling Oft the part of many that we were being forgotten by our country, lack of mail — these things all took their toll.

I have marveled, under the circumstances, that there were so very few cases (to my knowledge) of mental breakdown — to the point that an individual had to be isolated. I suppose that none of us was completely normal (who is?), but I recall needing to visit but one man’in what amounted to a cage. Incidentally this individual (an Army officer) was -a classic example of a quarter-horse — one who sets a terrific pace for the short distance, but fades before reaching the home stretch. I recall first seeing this handsome, glamorous looking fellow at Cabanatuan, with his fine military bearing, strutting all over the place in his still shiny officer’s boots. I don’t want to ridicule the poor fellow, but you might have thought that he had been commissioned by the Japanese to run the camp, or something; he seemed so self assured, and even cocky. It may have been that he had the idea that this thing would end soon, and that he would go back to the States as a conquering hero, or he may have been just putting on a good front. It is difficult and tricky to probe a man’s mind, or his motives, but it sometimes is an interesting study in what makes a man tick. Here was an extreme example of those who put up a good front for six months, and then, as the road got rougher and longer than was anticipated — they faded. One hesitates to cite such examples, for most of us probably at times came near to the point of giving up, and we would not dare to presume to judge. I mention this case merely as an interesting (to me) phenomenon, and to indicate that we saw men at their best, and at their worst. We were surprised and disappointed by some, from whom we expected more, and we were pleasantly surprised by others, from whom we hadn’t expected so much. A man’s family background or wealth did not mean much, if anything at all, in our situation. One’s rank, education, his affiliations, including church membership, were not the final factors in determining his worth — in such circumstances. It was an interesting study in human nature, and I must have been exposed to a refresher course in several different and important subjects during my three years of schooling out there.

To me, another interesting and surprising thing was that, in spite of all our frustrations, there were no outright suicides that I knew of. Some of the seemingly foolhardy escape attempts, which resulted in death, may have been in that category indirectly, but when you have that many men existing as we were, a certain number of suicides might be expected. This lack of such an extreme measure must be attributed to a man’s will to live, which is a very strong urge, indeed.

It is rather amusing now to recall what a dominant part food played in our thinking, talking, and planning; no matter what subject might initiate a group discussion, food (not sex) would become the topic of primary concern. It was a vicarious thrill to talk about favorite dishes, and exotic eating places — until this became a veritable obsession with many. You should have seen some of the conglomerate recipes kept in notebooks for that specific purpose. Whether any of these “books” were ever published or not — I never learned; I rather doubt it. Also, I doubt that very many of us ever carried out our threats to quan up this and that at home; I know I didn’t. My wife was not favorably impressed with my idea of making coffee in an old rusty tin can, either, and I’m sure never insisted on it much. That “home cookin'” was plenty good for me.

Other frustrating factors that I have mentioned did contribute to doubts, discouragement, irritability, heated arguments, a few fights, and even hopelessness. I was reminded at such times of an incident I had read about before the war, which involved the late Dwight t. Morrow, who was our Ambassador to Mexico. The Honorable Mr. Morrow was to be the main speaker at a large banquet in New York. The program began and proceeded with the usual so-called jokes by the master of ceremonies. The affair continued with remarks by lesser dignitaries, with the Ambassador sitting there until at least eleven o’clock. After a long and flowery introduction, he was finally presented to the assemblage. Mr. Morrow, a wise man, whom some of us preachers might well emulate, stood up and made his speech with the following single sentence: “Ladies and gentlemen, hope is greater than history”; then he sat down. When we realise that this was during the great depression, we recognize that this was a great speech.

Hope was the one thing we had to cling to, and, as I have mentioned earlier, this was the general theme that I aimed to keep before myself and my parishoners. I remember using such texts as “the God of hope”, and “we are saved by hope”, etc. If I had had a concordance with me I could have found many more such references, but it was evidently a good thing that 1 had to dig these, and other nuggets, out of the gold mine of my New Testament and Psalms — without “modem” machinery.

To combat discouragement, among other things I recalled the following very meaningful and helpful passage of Scripture from the prophet Habakkuk:  “Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labor of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls; yet, I will rejoice in the Lord, 1 will joy in*the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength, and He will make my feet line hind’s feet, and He will make me to walk upon mine high places. (Habakkuk 3:17-19) Also, I found great encouragement and inspiration from phrases in some of the great hymns. From “A Mighty Fortress is our God” I recalled the following: “The
body they may kill; God’s truth abideth still; His Kingdom is forever”.
From the old hymn “God Will Take Care of You” I remembered the verse and chorus: “Be not dismayed, whate’er betide, God will take care of you.”


Beneath His wings of love abide, God will take care of you.”


“God will take care of you, through every day.
O’er all the way; He will take core of you,
God will take care of you.”

As I have mentioned earlier, many of the old hymns, whose words I scarcely realized I had remembered, came back to me, and were priceless as aids in private devotions, as well as in our divine services. These, together with the Scriptures, which include words for any and all occasions, not only helped to keep me going, but at times contributed to a sense of Spiritual, and even physical exhilaration, about which I almost hesitate to write, for fear of being misunderstood. However, at such times the spirit and presence of God were so real that, in a very definite sense, this kind of experience compensated for other things, and filled a specific personal need. I’m sure that I was being provided an opportunity for needed growth, and I trust that I took some advantage of that opportunity.

Heated arguments of various sorts became increasingly numerous as time wore on, and as we became down and out because of the various frustrations with which we were constantly confronted. Many of these arguments were over quite inconsequential things, which were easily escalated in our seemingly endless isolation. More and more time, however, was spent, especially by the military professionals, in discussing the war situation. Some of these discussions became very pessimistic; there were those who couldn’t see any successful conclusion to the war in the Pacific — as far as our country was concerned. The thinking of these pessimists had to be colored somewhat by our own predicament, but they also were influenced by their theories that it would take so long to do this, and so many months or even years to do that, etc. While I certainly knew less than nothing about such things, and tried to keep my mouth shut, I couldn’t resist the temptation to ask a question, or even make a statement, now and then. For instance, when one of our highly trained and respected naval officers would say, “It just has to take so many months, or even years to build carriers, battleships, cruisers, etc. —” then I would say, “How do you know it takes that long now? Maybe they’ve learned to build them faster”. I’m sure that didn’t impress the military experts much, but subsequent events proved how little they realized how the country had mobilized after Pearl Harbor, and learned to do some things as they had never been done before.

I mentioned earlier that a certain number of fights broke out between individuals.  I don’t recall any instances where group was pitted against group.  These individual battles usually were of the impetuous variety, and didn’t last very long; perhaps this was partly because there wasn’t a lot of this kind of excess energy walking around.  On the other hand there were some grudge fights, resulting from irritations of long-standing, that could have gotten out of hand had not peacemakers intervened.  One noteworthy example in this category involved two young officers living in the barracks next to my “home”.  One of the characters in this donnybrook was a rather small, hot-tempered, big city Army second lieutenant, while the other combatant was a big, rather overbearing Navy ensign from one of our most rural states.  Evidently these two gladiators were mutually allergic from the first, and this allergy became more and more unbearable … especially on the part of the lieutenant.  The boil came to a head one day when the lietenant called the ensign a “big, country SOB”.  The resulting mutually friends, some of whom probably were enjoying it, decided, everything considered, that the hostilities should cease.  The consensus was that the ensign didn’t object to being called “big”’ in fact he was rather proud of his physique.  However, when he was called “country” – well, that was more than the guy could stand, so he reacted accordingly!

The few foolhardy escape attempts were, no doubt, due largely to frustration; one such case ended in tragic and sadistic torture. This incident took place not far from our barracks when a hot-headed Texan, whom I knew slightly, tried to grab a guard’s rifle, and would have been successful (momentarily) had not another nearby guard intervened. We wondered at the time why they did not shoot the man on the spot; that . would have been much more merciful than what occurred subsequently. They took the poor guy to a guardhouse across -from the barracks,’ and that was the last any of us ever saw of him. That night, however, there was no mistaking what ultimately took place in that torture chamber; the horrible, almost animal-like screams evidently produced by indescribable sadism, which all of us could hear, were something never to be forgotten. I suppose our captors, to some extent, accomplished their evident purpose … that of impressing upon the Americans the folly of such actions.

Some of our frustrations were not expressed outwardly, but were of the inward variety, which, in a sense, are the most devastating kind, since they are visceral and more lasting. Such experiences can produce scars, which are never really healed, and may even become infectious. The hatred engendered among us was so intense that it ate at the very guts of some individuals, and I’m afraid that very few, if any of us, were entirely free of these wounds. As I have said before, “They don’t always make it easy for you to be a Christian”. ’This, of course, applies not only to a situation such as ours, but also to the typical journey of life. It wasn’t easy to preach “love your enemies”, or to live it, but I don’t imagine it was real easy for Jesus to love His enemies, either; but He did — and He was able to pray, while hanging on a cross, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

Again in 1943, Mother’s day and my birthday (the 39th) were just a day apart. This was the second time around for these special days away from home. Now I was as old as Jack Benny! The Mother’s day congregation was about as large as that on Easter; our mothers and the mothers of our children were very much in our thoughts and prayers always — and especially on their special day. For this occasion I wrote the following, which I used as the basis for my message:


“M stands for mothers everywhere;
O is for others, for whom she lives..
T is for her tenderness so rare;

  H is for her heart, from which she gives.
E is for her eagerness to share;
R is for her righteousness divine,

     Which causes her to ever bear
Her burdens … and yours … and mine.”

For the Scripture reading I used the beautiful passage beginning with the 10th verse of Proverbs 31: “Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies.” I will trust my readers to read the balance of these words of wisdom — preferably in the King James version.’ Instead of singing “Faith of our Fathers” we sang “Faith of our Mothers, living still, in Spite of Dungeon, fire and sword; O how our hearts beat high with joy whene’er we hear that glorious word. Faith of our Mothers, Holy faith, we will be true to Thee ’til death.”

After a year of imprisonment the Japanese government evidently decided that they were supposed to compensate us. This seemed rather odd to us, since they had disregarded all other rules of the game. However, they did begin to dole out so much a month to each of us according to rank. This paper money was the virtually “worthless invasion scrip that the Japanese had printed in Manila. It eventually became so worthless that it would have taken a wheelbarrow full of the stuff to buy a loaf of bread, if the bread were available. In our situation, of course, there was nothing to buy, so the money never really entered into our camp economy, as far as becoming the medium of exchange was concerned. Subsequently, however, the Japanese brought something into camp, which many of us desired, leaf tobacco. This tobacco had evidently been looted from Bodegas (warehouses) in the Philippines, and represented practically the only item we could buy with our-“pay”. Once in a while a few coconuts were brought in with the periodic deliveries of tobacco, which usually coincided with pay day. The prices were fixed to correspond with the number of pesos we had received, so it was an even trade. In this way, although our captors got their money back, they apparently could report that the American prisoners under their tender care were even being paid — because of the generosity of the Emperor, no doubt!

Since, under the above arrangement, our lower-ranking people would have been getting less than those of higher rank, we of the Navy (including our Marines) decided to share and share alike. So, when a delivery arrived we pooled OUT money, bought as a group, and divided the spoils equally. In this way the lowest ranking seaman got as much as the highest ranking commander. One of the moving spirits in this sharing arrangement was my friend, Commander Allan McCracken, whom I have mentioned earlier as the author of “Very Soon Now, Joe”. I was proud to be the Commander’s assistants in this project, and also valued his friendship. This former skipper of one of our ships, which fought against tremendous odds, was one of the most respected individuals among us. The officers and men who had served under him were loud in praise of their skipper, whom they would have followed anywhere. When he became ill and was in an extremely weakened condition over a long period of time, members of his former crew ’took care of their commander as a mother would take care of her baby. This was an inspiring scene to witness, and this concern probably was responsible for my friend’s survival.

Speaking of the tobacco, which helped to answer a craving in the case of many, the product varied considerably in quality and strength. Some of it had been stored for some time, and had been the victim of whatever eats tobacco leaves. Some of it was rather yellowish, sticky and strong, while other batches were of a somewhat milder variety. Some of the leaves lent themselves quite well as cigar wrappers, so, ci^ar-making became one of the local industries — for home consumption only. Some of the brethren became rather proficient at cigar-rolling, which required very little equipment; this became somewhat of a hobby for a certain number. Most of the weed went into cigarettes and pipes; especially the former. The big problem here was to secure paper and pipes, since cutting the tobacco into fine pieces was a comparatively simple, if tedious, process. Time, though, was not exactly of the essence here.

The shortage of paper, as I have mentioned earlier, was always a pressing problem, and had even become an item involved in barter. Had it not been for the propaganda sheets the Japanese brought in, the inveterate cigarette smokers really would have been “up the creek”. It seemed that the habit even became intensified in the case of some nicotine addicts. This craving seemed more pronounced than that of former heavy users of alcohol, which was not available. Some of the cigarette smokers turned to pipes. Yankee ingenuity came into play here, and saved the day. Some of the best hardwoods in the world are to be found in the Philippines, and certain of our enterprising Americans soon discovered they had the material here for some of the most unusual and fanciest “jobs” you ever saw. To work this extremely hard wood into pipes — one-piece productions in most cases, was a tedious task, which required patience and skill. Knives sharp enough for carving were hardly available, so most of the wood had to be scraped into shape with pieces of glass, etc. To make a hole in the stem, usually a piece of wire was sharpened as an auger, and the boring, which sometimes took weeks, began. If certain of these unusual creations ever got back to  the States, they should have been placed on exhibit.

American ingenuity manifested itself in many ways, and would have become more evident if there had been a chance to take advantage of more opportunities. I have mentioned earlier what an efficient job of operating our prison farm could have been done by our people. Among other things, I suppose our captors were afraid of losing face if the Americans should do too good a job. Also, we had a notion that they felt they could handle us better when we weren’t eating too well. As far as the ingenuity bit goes, a Japanese camp commander at Cabanatuan was reported to have said, “If we don’t watch these Americans more closely they will build a railroad right through the camp, and take off.”

Memorial day, 1943, my second away from home, was hardly the strenuous experience of the previous year, which found us on that hot, dry and exhausting road from Cabanatuan City to Camp Cabanatuan. Although we didn’t have a formal commemoration, many of us had our private thoughts and lifted our silent prayers. Many of our number had passed on to their reward during that year, and we remembered them, together with others who have made the supreme sacrifice for our country through the years. We thought of such hymns as Kipling’s “God of Our Fathers, known of old, Lord of our far-flung battle line, beneath whose awful hand we hold dominion over palm and pine: Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet, lest we forget, lest we forget.” Also, we remembered “0 beautiful for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain, for purple mountain majesties above the fruited plain.’ America! America! God shed His grace on thee, and crown thy good with brotherhood’– from sea to shining sea.”

As I look through my poor old, beaten-up notebook, I find the following additional “letter” written to Rosie June 26, 1943: “Well, Rosie, it has been about six months since I last wrote. I should have written sooner, but I was in the hospital for three months with beri-beri, which almost got the best of me. However, I have been gaining steadily since coming back to the main compound. The hospital experience was really a nightmare. Some of my friends figured I might not make it, but by the Grace of God, I’m still around. I got down to 125 pounds, but am back up to about 140 now. The suffering was intense – something I had never really experienced before.- While still in the hospital we got Red Cross packages containing various’ food items, which bolstered our meager diet a lot — for awhile. This has been one real highlight of our stay here, which is getting pretty monotonous — to put it mildly.

Things are pretty rugged here, Rosie, but I think we can see some daylight now, and I’m sure that I have been spared to do some things that need to be accomplished. Needless to mention how I miss you and the boys. Plenty of details later. Love. Earl.”

Fourth of July came and went — without any parades or bands — or speeches, and so the long, hot summer wore on. That near the equator there really are no seasons; it’s just hot, rainy and muggy all year long. The monotony of it all continued to escalate more and more as the marathon aspects of the race became increasingly apparent. As I have indicated earlier, it was a wonder that more of our people didn’t simply go all to pieces. But, there was that will to live, regardless of the odds; also, the intense desire for the approval of one’s fellows was stronger than I had ever realized it could be. A man will endure unbelievable pressures rather than run the risk of allowing his peers to have any reason for thinking that he “can’t take it”.

There were a few things that did tend to break the monotony of our routine existence. After the escape our captors relieved our musicians (those who had played for the Christmas program) of the instruments they had been allowed to use. After several months these instruments were loaned again to our group, and an occasional musical program was allowed. Perhaps the camp commander, who apparently wasn’t anxious for our morale to be too high, figured it wasn’t so safe for it to become too low, either.

A show that mother nature presented each night was an interesting phenomenon. The “sound” for this show came from the jungle, whose perimeter was no more than a quarter of a mile from OUT barbed-wire enclosure. From this sound stage, after darkness fell, came noises from monkeys, parrots and other tropical creatures that almost gave you the reeling of visiting the San Diego Zoo. About dusk each evening a happening occurred with such regularity that you could just about set your watch by it — if you had a watch left. At a low enough altitude, to make the grotesque features of these creatures plainly visible, a “flock” of a couple hundred huge fruit bats would fly directly over our compound. Their wing-spread must have measured three to five feet. These nocturnal mammals came (to feed on tropical fruit) from the same direction, bound for the same area of the jungle night after night. We never saw them leave their feeding grounds, but their flight toward the jungle was something that we looked forward to after supper. I suppose some of us thought about their comparative freedom — in contrast to our being fenced in.

In spite of some breaks from the day to day monotonous routine, there were long, lonely stretches during which all .of us — not excluding a certain chaplain — who, in varying degrees, became homesick and discouraged; also, at time.s, isolated and cut off from the rest of the world, there was an increasing sense of forsakenness among us. This did not necessarily mean that we had lost faith in our country, or our God, but we were mortal beings, subject to the infirmities of the flesh; hence we.were prone momentarily to forget the greatness of our land, and the mightiness of the Almighty. Although I had not yet heard the hymn which has become so popular since the war, my sentiments during the trying times could have been expressed by singing: “0 Lord, my God, when I, in awesome wonder, consider all the worlds Thy hands have made; I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder, Thy power throughout the universe displayed — then sings my soul, my Savior — God, to Thee; how great Thou art, how great Thou art!”

Another prayer-hymn, which is much older, became my prayer — through these familiar words: “Guide me, 0 Thou great Jehovah; Pilgram through this barren land; I am weak, but Thou art mighty; hold me with Thy powerful hand; bread of heaven, feed me ’til I want no more.” Many other hymns of prayer and praise, as well as numerous precious promises from both Testaments, sustained me and were my meat and drink during those dark days, and those long and darker nights. Earlier I have mentioned some of the most helpful and familiar passages — such as the 23rd, 46th and 139th Psalms — plus such New Testament passages as the Lord’s Prayer, the 11th chapter of Hebrews, II Cor. 4, and many others. Through such helps to meditation and devotion … in these strange circumstances I was enabled to enjoy a closeness to our Heavenly Father and my brethren that made some of the hardships not only bearable, but even exhilarating — in a sense that would be very hard to explain. Nevertheless, these experiences were very real; I feel that they filled a timely need for me and I hope that this has been translated into helping others to bear their burdens — thus fulfilling the law of Christ, which is the law of love.

From time to time I have mentioned some of the texts and themes which I used in my preaching behind barbed-wire. Reference to a few others may be in order here. For one three week period I concocted a series on “Some Common Things of Life”. The first in this series was on “Water”; for the Scripture 1 used the story of the Samaritan woman at the well — found in John 4:1-26.
For the text I used the following words from the 13th and 14th verses: “Who
soever drinketh of this water shall thirst again; but whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life”. It wasn’t hard to get the attention of my parishioners on this subject, since most o’f them had been as thirsty as I had — and some of them probably had suffered even more from this agonizing experience. So, I believe this was a timely subject, for which I had plenty of material; I trust that it was used effectively.

The next message in this series on common things (which became very uncommon to us) was on “Food”; for this basis element I used scripture readings from the 6th chapter of Matthew and the 12th chapter of Luke’s Gospel. The text was in these words: “And he said unto His disciples, therefore I say unto you, take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on. The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment”. We had all been hungry, and our stomachs were far from full at the time of this message, so this was not a theoretical or unrelated theme.

The third and last in this series of “Barbed-wire Sermons” was on the subject of “Salt”, a very uncommon and scarce item most of the time out there. During this service the Scripture reading was from Matthew 5, while the text was taken from these words in the 13th verse of that chapter: “Ye are the salt of the earth; but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is henceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men”. Anybody should have been able to hold the attention of these men on this subject, which concerned us all, since all of us had had, and would have had the experience of eating watery rice with no salt.
Incidentally this desirable item became one of the principal commodities of trade among us, since it was only occasionally that we had an adequate supply of this ingredient, which we so often take for granted — as is the case with water and food. If this series was as meaningful to my parishioners as to their chaplain — then it was worthwhile.

Our seventeenth wedding anniversary on August 22 was the occasion of these thoughts, written for Rosie to read “sometime”; Well, my dear, it has been some weeks since I last wrote, and I can’t let another anniversary pass without telling you how much I am thinking of you these days, and especially today………These last two years have, humanly speaking, been a-nightmare; they have been so unreal, and a veritable hell on earth — in that I have been forced to be away from those  I  love more than life itself. I am sure, however, that I have needed to learn some of the lessons I trust I am learning — the hard way. I am definitely hoping that life can really begin at forty. We have very little to go on here, of course, and have been repeatedly disappointed; but I am glad to say that I am still the eternal optimist. In spite of a very meager rice diet, I am holding my own now. My feet are still pretty sensitive — as a result of my bout with beri-beri, but I do not expect them to become completely normal until I’ve been on an adequate diet for a while.  All I need is to get out of here, and back home!  This is a very monotonous existence; nothing much different happens from day to do.  However, I have some very good friends – and I have you – which makes all the difference in the world; and “there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother”. They are still allowing me to carry on somewhat as a chaplain; it has been quite an experience; Just preaching out of my New Testament, which has undoubtedly been good for me – and I hope for my parishioners. A few letters have been allowed to come through; I would give plenty to get one of yours, but I know it is not because of any neglect on your part. I get so homesick and lonesome at times that I can taste it!

I hope you have received at least one of my checked cards by now.  As rugged as it might be for me here, the suspense for you is probably even greater.  I pray constantly that it might not be too great a strain on you, and the rest of the family.  I suppose there are plenty of details from here that you would be interested in, and you will be the first to hear – when there is an opportunity.

I think so often of our fine boys, who are also a constant inspiration and incentive for me to do my best to be the kind of father I ought to be; I hope they won’t grow away from their Dad.  Well, sweetheart, it will soon be chow time – and I hear we have a little meat in the soup for a change – and that is something!  I hope your part in our anniversary is as good as could be expected – under the circumstances – and that next year we can be with each other, where we belong.  More later – Love, Earl.”

Although we had many wants and a certain number of needs (there is a difference), there was always much to be thankful for.  We wqere reminded of this anew when Thanksgiving rolled around.  Thanksgiving, `1943 (my third away from home) was no exception, although our hosts didn’t exactly provide us with turkey and all the trimmings.  In fact, if we had anything extra on the menu, it was something that our cooks  had been able to scrounge and/or hoard for that special day.  Although I did not conduct a special service on that day, I did have a Thanksgiving service the Sunday before.  I read from several Psalms of Thanksgiving and praise, while my message was based largely on the following verses I wrote for the occasion:


What is there to be thankful for
This year in the midst of strife?
What good is there in the midst of war
When there is no normal life?

It is but natural that we ask
Because things are so strange
While we’re engaged in this grim task
From which there is no change

But when we think just a little bit
We find much to appreciate
There really is no doubt of it
In spite of fear and hate

so let us think a little while
about the things that are good
and we can all produce a smile
Though we haven’t Thanksgiving food

And though we miss our loved ones dear
And though we miss our home
We’ll make the most of the present year
through hope for the one to come

At least we’ve been spared our life
’tis surely by God’s grace
through it all -through hell and strife
A bright future we can face

And then we have been given health
though some are sick and dead
Now is there any greater wealth
that we could have instead?

And though our comforts are too few
We have some food and clothes
Though this is not the life we knew
We could have greater woes

We have a place to sleep at night
Where we’re sheltered from the rain
And what a blessing to have our sight
–to see God’s vast domain

And then to have our friends so true
On whom we can depend
And though the friends are all to few
Some stick until the end

Even our work could be much worse
(for some it’s quite a test)
But we have learned it’s not a curse
On the whole it’s no doubt best

Some things as our smokes stuff
are added bits of joy
Of some things there is not enough
But they’re something to enjoy

And then we’ve had our Church & shows
To give us what we need
Without these things ‘most everyone knows
It would be worse indeed

So–all in all we can give thanks
For country, homes and wives
Those things on which a fellow banks
Which make for fuller lives

So we’ll celebrate this year again
While hoping for better days
Ever looking for that day when
We can give our thanks always

My friend, Warren G., of whom I spoke earlier, was the very personification of the above sentiments.  After his spiritual renewal, his daily greeting whenever we met was an enthusiastic and sincere, “Earl, God is good to us”.  Warrant never faltered in his thankfulness – no matter what the test.   Warren never faltered in his thankfulness – no matter what the test. What an inspiration such people are to a chaplain, or to any minister, for that matter!

I also chose Thanksgiving Day to continue my sporadic running account to Rosie, who had access to my notebooks after I got home in 1945.  Here is what I had to report at this time:  “Well, honey, you will be able to see that I am running out of paper, but I just want to write a few words to you at Thanksgiving time – to let you know that we are doing pretty well, and have lots to be thankful for.   I am thankful to be alive, and in as good health as could be expected.  I thank God for you three, and pray that you are all O.K.  Surely we can have a real Thanksgiving next year, after having missed three in a row.  We hear encouragins rumors, but of course we get no real news.  I still have hopes of getting some mail; it’s plenty tough not to hear from you for so long, but I know it’s not your fault.  I hope you have received at least a card or two, which we have been allowed to write – irregularly.  Have a good Thanksgiving, my little family.  Love, Earl.”

Besides Warren G., two other friends and parishioners, whom I mentioned earlier, always had a good word of greeting when we met – even when they were not feeling so good, either.  The late Marion T. kept going when he should have been in bed, and young Ken W., in spite of his fine physique, had his bad days, too, but both of these fine friends always kept their daubers up, and their powder dry.  As I have mentioned before, some of our number were disappointing when the going got real rough, but there were others who helped you retain your faith in God and man, and also helped that faith to be restored if and when it had become weakened, or almost lost.

Earlier I had mentioned the pictures of my family, which I managed to keep in my trusty under-arm zipper case throughout those months and years; here are a few sentimental verses I wrote to Rosie – about


“Well, dear, I’m here alone tonight

With a couple pictures of you;

Away from you nothing seems right,

But “they” help me see it through


I’ll tell you all, one of these days,

How hard they were to keep;

I value them more and more always

–even “see” them in my sleep.


I’m glad I have those two of you

Representing fifteen years;

Both expressing love so true

That it’s easy to conquer fears


But they do something else to me

In here – with time for thought;

They help me now to really see

Some things are dearly bought


And I’m so glad we’ve given our best

For love that is so rare –

That when there comes the greatest test

We know there’s one to care


I know that I would have your love

Without your pictures here,

But they are angels from above,

And O, how precious, dear!


Our next annual observance was Christmas.  Although our people were not given several days off from the routine, as was the case the previous year (when I was flat on my back in the hospital), we did what we could to really observe this great day when there came into the world the light, which the darkness of sin has never been able to put out.  In spite of the blackness of our jungle surroundings there was joy in our hearts, and we could sing “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth Peace, Good will toward men”.  We rejoiced with the shepherds as we sang “Silent night, Holy night, all is calm all is bright”.  I read the beautiful Christmas story and centered my remarks around it.  I also read the following verses, which I wrote for the occasion:



You ask what Christmas means to me
this year when away from home
When it is so hard to see
There are better days to come

We’ve been away from home so long
Three years for most of the men
It isn’t easy to be strong
– in fact it seems like ten

For Christmas is the time of year
When we long to be with our own
And even the strongest shed a tear
Because we’ve homesick grown

The memory of former days
When we were all together
causes us to feel it pays
To ride out stormy weather

For some things we will ne’er forget
And Christmas is the best
the things like this haven’t failed yet
To help us meet the test

so Christmas means a lot to me
and there are other joys
Besides a lighted Christmas tree
And all the children’s toys

For Christmas speak of deeper things
Of Christ who gives us life
Of Him through whom there always springs
That which conquers strife

And Christmas speaks of Holy Birth
foretold by prophets old
When God Himself came down to Earth
To help us face life bold

And Christmas speaks of a world of peace
If men would only heed
And let the spirit of Christ increase
to meet our every need

And Christmas speaks of shepherds kind
And ancient wise men too
In Christmas we can always find
That which makes life new

And Christmas means humility
Like that of a little child
Against the rank futility
of letting the world run wild

So Christmas means a time of prayer
that peace might come again
That to all men everywhere
Christmas might come to men

So let us make real sure today
our hearts are open still
That we can hear Christ Jesus say
My Peace and God’s good-will.

This was the third Christmas away from home, so I had to write to Rosie, some of which follows:  “Well, Companeros, another Christmas season has come, and I will be glad when it is gone (by the calendar, not the Spirit), since I can’t be with you precious people.  So, we’ll look forward to next year.  These remarks will be scattered throughout this notebook – on account of the scarcity of paper.  The next big event on my calendar is Rosie’s birthday.  I have fond hopes of being differently situated by then, and I still have hopes of getting home by my 40th birthday.  Perhaps it is partly stubbornness (you know me), but if I should become the only optimist in camp, I will still not give up hope.  I am thankful that I have not lost faith in God and our country.  I am writing a couple of days before Christmas; we are hoping to get some extyra chow through the mess, and also we’re sweating out some more Red Cross packages, which would give us a much needed boost.  The items that came almost a year ago, together with the B1 shots, helped us a lot through beri-beri.  Through my feet are not normal yet, I think some good, normal living would put me back in 4.0 shape before too long.  I am not feeling badly now, and seem to be holding my own.  We are getting some of the Christmas spirit here, what with a few improvised decorations, a Christmas eve program, etc.  I will have a service Christmas day at nine o’clock the morning.  However, my thoughts are so many kilometers from here, and I am wondering what kind of Christmas you will be having back there.  I hope no one else from either side of the family will have to be away.  There always has to be one black sheep in a family, you know – but he is the one who is prayed for the most. I do feel that I have been the subject of many prayers, for which I want to be as worthy as possible; it is a very humbling experience.

I wonder what the boys are getting for Christmas;  I have made a list of some things I would get you if I were there; these I will produce when I get back – as long as the dinero holds out.  This list includes some very nice things, which you have needed, and should have had years ago.  We’ll have lots of things to talk about when we get together, which will be heavenly!  I hope you have been getting my cards;  I still hope to hear from you soon.  We are hoping to get some mail with Red Cross packages – if and when.

So for the third year in a row – A merry Christmas!   Next year surely we will be able to say it in person.  Much love, Earl. “

As we approached 1944, our thoughts turned to the past, as well as to the future.  If we had been tyold two years before that we would still be in captivity in 1944, most of us would not have believed it, and some of us might have become too discouraged to go on.  It is undoubtedly a good thing for most of us that we don’t know what a day will bring forth, and to realize that “sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof”.  This is an especially good philosophy, since we do have to live just one day at a time.

Some of us, through our wishful thinking, set certain dates or anniversaries as target dates for our release.  This probably didn’t do much harm, as long as we didn’t become too rigid about such things.  At the beginning of the New year many of us optimists figured we would be sprung before year’s end.  I guess it is a good thing we didn’t know that we were to remain jail-birds for another whole year – plus.  Maybe it is true that what you don’t know won’t hurt you – so much!

Our extreme pessimists had been talking for some time as though we would never get out of our situations – thjat we were forsaken by our country and – doomed.  There was growing discussion among some of the ‘military experts’ and “sea lawyers’ as to whether or not our forces would by-pass the Philippines altogether – if and when they worked their way north toward Japan.  Our total lack of news, and the absence of any reliable rumors caused us to be virtually completely in the dark as to the progress of the war.  None of us in his right mind was taken in by the propaganda sheets distributed among us by our captors – from time to time.  We did welcome the paper, which came in handy for various uses.

With all of our growing frustrations we entered the New Year with morale far from high, and with the barometer falling.  This sort of thing is very hard to combat or counteract.  However, as I have mentioned, I have adopted a basic theme of hope as being our only means of salvation, and I tried to stay with it personally, and to share it with my parishioners – in individual contacts, as well as through my services.  One of the sermons I preached during this period was titled “We are Saved by Hope”, a text taken from the eighth chapter of Romans and the twenty-fourth verse.  For this scripture lesson I read a good part of the chapter, and I would recommend the reading of all of this great chapter.  Just in case, here are the two verses I emphasized the most in this sermon: “Fior we are saved by hope; but hope that is seen is not hope; for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?  But, if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.”  (Rom. 8:24, 25) In the course of the sermon I pointed out that since we are saved by hoope, conversely we are lost without hope.  However, I did emphasize the positive note.  This was a theme and text made to order for our situation; what a privilege to be able to proclaim such unsearchable riches!  I trust that such experiences were as helpful to others as to me.

With the beginning of another year I wrote the following, which I used in connection with my sermon

“NEW YEARS 1944”

What’s new? I asked on every hand
Nothing at all – we usually say
But it’s not hard to understand
That there’s plenty new most every day

The day itself is new as Spring
And life itself is new as well
On this New year we still can sing

‘tho what’s in store we cannot tell

But some things are yet ever new
Though we often fail to see
So let us here put down a few
Whatever they may be:

Behold, the prophet old did say
The Lord makes all things new
And furthermore, just any day
Is fresh as morning’s dew

The lord almighty also said
I make new Heaven and Earth
A new agreement then was made
And here we find new birth

This love is every new to men
More so than in the past
For here we find God speaks again
For Christ has come at last

Opportunities are every new
To make us better men
The New Year it is every true
Means we can try again

For God forgives when we forget
His mercy knows no end
Another chance we always get
When we’ve nothing to commend

So many things are new each day
-the sun, the stars the moon
Yet, what a price we often pay
When we could learn so soon

The common things are ever new
-as food & homes & love
And yet our thanks are all too few
When we dare to look above

So let us be aware this year
That everything’s not old
And we really have no cause to fear
If we but face life bold

-so, here’s the answer I would give
To the question we often hear
Everything’s new to those who live
As though the lord were near


At the beginning of this last full year away from home – although we didn’t know it then – I had occasion to write sojme more thoughts for Rosie and the boys:

New Years, 1944

Well, precious people, another year begins away from you – but surely it cannot end that way – it just isn’t right to be away from guys like you – but I hope to make it so before too long. We haven’t received any Red Cross stuff yet – but it is expected this month. It has been almost a year since we got the one previous shipment – & more than 2 years since I have heard from you – but I know it is not because of any fault on the part of the folks at home. We really need a boost in this way of food – although we got some extra rice & some meat at Christmas time. The regular food ration is barely enough to keep body and soul together – even without heavy work – and of course we have far from a balanced diet. But I seem to be holding my own at about 150 lbs. And feel o.k. except no pep – but I have a lot to be thankful for – only by the grace of God did I come through last year. So I feel now that nothing can keep me from getting back to my precious babies – and I am still hoping to be home by my birthday – the next big event on my calendar is Rosie’s birthday.  So long for now, and Love, Earl.”

We continued to sweat out Red Cross packages, mail, and good rumors from the front; as this went on week after week, this period after the beginning of 1944 became one of the worst experiences during our sojourn out there.  The strain was showing more and more as time dragged on, and as we dragged along with it.  I must repeat that a hungry man is not a normal man; when to hunger you add sickness, homesickness (which is worse, in a sense), discouragement, defeatism and a sense of worthlessness – then you do have a serious situation.

In spite of the above note of seeming pessimism, there were incidents which helped to restore one’s faith in God, fellow-man and country.  One such incident was an experience that I (and I’m sure many others) shall never forget.  Usually our detail, which worked in the rice fields several kilometers from the compound, returned, via the railroad (Dapecol express) flat cars – in plenty of time for our evening chow.  On this particular day, however, they not only did not return at the usual time, but they didn’t show up by dark.  By eight o’clock we in the compound had become really worried, not knowing what might have happened to our “partners in crime”.  The suspense among us had grown terribly tense by nine o’clock, when, in the distance, we heard voices, which we gradually recognized as singing.  We figured it must be our men – being brought back …. After a long rainy day of back-breaking work, which had begun fourteen hours earlier.   We were convinced they were “ours” when, as they drew nearer, and were opposite the Japanese Commander’s quarters, we heard a “serenade”, in the following words”

“God bless America, land that I love;

Stand beside her, and guide her

Through the night, with a light from above.

From the mountains, to the prairies,

To the ocean white with foam;

God bless America, my home sweet home.”


We had never heard more beautiful or “melting” music; I’m sure there wasn’t a dry eye in the compound as these “conquering heroes” returned to their barracks, and to some chow, very little of which they had since early morning.

The Japanese slave-driver in charge of their project evidently decided he wanted a certain quota accomplished – regardless.  Also, he probably figured he cold in this way help to break the spirit of some Americans.  In a sense this strategy back-fired on him, and they beat him at his own game, by showing that Americans can take it, and also dish it out when indicated. I was never more proud of a group of Americans, and I was glad to be identified with such patriots.  Here were these prisoners of war, already ravaged by two years of cruel captivity; now tired, wet and

hungry, after a long, hard day in the fields, telling their captors that they could take anything that was dished out to them, and come back for more!  You can’t break the spirits of people who refuse to be broken!  I think this shot in the arm gave us a big boost as any single happening during our captivity.  It undoubtedly helped us to be able to sweat out the long days, weeks and months to come.

Our long wait for supplementary food was rewarded when we received our second shipment of Red Cross packages about March 1 – after the fourteen months of anticipation.  The packages were about the same in number and content as the previous ones.  They even included the little cans of grape jelly, which several of us again saved for another Easter season communion service.  Also there was a supplementary shipment of clothing, including some shoes.  The clothing consisted largely of blue denim G.I. pants and jackets – plus some G.I. shoes!  Those of us with larger frames and feet were fortunate that most of the items were in large sizes.  It was the general consensus among us that the Japanese had access to these items before we did, and we got what was left.  Incidentally, on the average they wore smaller sizes than we did!  We also were positive that most of the Red Cross food packages were “lost” along the way, and the enemy “let” us have what was left.  Their “generosity” no doubt allowed them to report that the Americans were being adequately clothed and fed.  These suppositions were confirmed after we got home and learned what had been reported.

The same kind of thing happened to individual packages, a shipment of which the Red Cross arranged for and handled.  Our families were notified of this shipment, and were given instructions and specifications as to the maximum size and weight of the packages to be sent, and what they could contain, etc.  I was fortunate that my brother Houston was in the food business in Southern California, and had access to all the choice items that could possibly be sent.   My wife had my brother (I later learned) fixed up the most beautiful packages you can imagine, giving it much loving care, and sent it on its way.  However, I never got the package, nor did I even see it; while others were enjoying the contents of their packages I was confident that I had been sent one.  Subsequently a d couple of our men in the detail, which handled this shipment, told me they had seen a package addressed to me.  My only possible conclusion was that either a Japanese guard or a fellow prisoner had stolen my package.  My first (unchristian) reaction was that “I hope the individual, or individuals that got my food choke on it”.  After more sober thought, However, I tried to say, “Well, whoever got that food might have needed it worse than I did”.  But, as I have said before, “they don’t always make it easy for you to be a Christian.”

What we did get through this second and last Red Cross shipment was a real boost – physically, and even mentally, since it also included some much needed books, which came in handy.  The few that had been brought into camp by individuals had been passed around so much that they were really beaten up.  The shipment of books was not large, but there were enough volumes included to warrant setting up a library in order that the books might have maximum distribution.

In addition to circulation among individuals these books subsequently met another acute and growing need.  The eyesight of more and more of our people was becoming impaired – to the point that some could read only with great difficulty – if at all.  By this time I had been relieved of work details.  The rope making had been discontinued, and I tried going out on a vegetable raising detail; my sensitive feet couldn’t take it, however, since we had to go out barefooted – so, I was excused.  This left me “free” to spend my time as I saw fit, so I saw fit to read each day to people with bad eyesight.  I had my choice of books from the library, and over a period of three of four months I was privileged to read for a couple hours a day (an hour each in the morning and afternoon) to from a half-dozen to two dozen fellow prisoners.  I remember reading several of Melville’s books and other historical novels, which the mean seemed to enjoy; at least, some of them kept coming back for more.  This was not complete altruism on my part, since reading aloud was good training for a preacher – and, besides, I enjoyed it!

The next noteworthy even was Rosie’s birthday late in March; for this occasion I wrote these thoughts:

Well, Rosie, I have saved this space (in my notebook) for you. We have received no writing paper – so I will have to make this space do – at least for the present – hoping that I won’t need much more.  Three important things have happened:

  1. Your letter (with LeLand’s note) of 4/28/43 — the first & only that I have received – in 27 months and what a thrill! – to at least know you were o.k. 10 months ago! I hope to get more soon – know you have written plenty – hope you have gotten mine – such as they are .  Will be great when we can write as we used to – or -better still when we don’t have to write at all.
  2. The Red Cross packages (received also about Mar. 1) containing canned & packaged foods, toilet articles and clothing.  Am trying to string some of my food along until my birthday – it has been a real treat – to supplement our meager diet – & the other things have come in handy, too.  I had been 14 months since our other R.C. packages came through.  I have been out of the hospital a year & am back to 160lbs. – feeling quite good – able to work half days in the fields – in addition to my work as Chaplain, which is necessarily rather limited – but I trust of some benefit.
  3. Now, for your birthday – certainly life will begin anew for us by your 40th birthday – if not by mine.  I have had to give up being with you by mine – but I still think something could happen by then – I am still the eternal optimist – & expect to continue to be. Am thinking plenty – & praying for the day when I can say a lot more.  Love – Earl”

Easter was on April 9 1944 – my third, and next to the last Easter season away from home.  We almost made it in 1945; I will have occasion to mention that later.  In ’44 we were still feeling pretty good – on account of the bonanza represented by our comparatively recent Red Cross shipment, and some letters from home.  All this was conducive to our having as good an Easter season as could be expected under conditions of such captivity. But our souls were not the captives of anything, nor anybody, except our Risen Lord.  I recalled the following words to a great hymn: ‘Make me a captive, Lord, and then I shall be free;  force me torender up my sword, and I shall conqueror be.  I think in life’s alarms when by myself I stand; imprison me within thine arms, and strong shall be my hand.

My power is faint and low ‘til I have learned to serve; it wants the needed fire to glow, it wants to breeze to nerve; it cannot drive the world, until itself be driven; its flag can only be unfurled when Thou shalt breathe from Heaven.”

God was not dead, but was very much alive in the Spirit of our Risen Lord.  So, we had our Thursday evening communion service, again using rice-flour bread, and our melted, diluted grape jelly for the elements.  Again we had a sunrise service and a later Easter service, and I believe the attendance was better than it had been in 1943.

I was able to do a little bartering (Of a non-essential item or two) after our Red Cross packages arrived; among other things I managed to get another note book, so my writing space was not as limited as before.  My birthday (and my twin sister’s) came before Mother’s day in 1944.  This was to be my fourth and last birthday away from home. I had received a letter from my twin, whose name is Pearl, so I had occasion to write the following to her – in my new notebook.

“Dear Pearl, well, that 40th business sounds pretty bad, doesn’t it?   But I guess it’s not nearly as bad as it sounds. I thought last year I would surely be with you to “begin life at 40” – & I still think we’ll get together while we’re still 40.  I’ve been thinking that we ought to have a birthday dinner at the Mission Inn – how about it? We could include our kids and mother, and put on a little dog, see?  There are of course lots of things I want to do when I get back.  It’s already been a long time maybe I can make up for lost time. I have gotten ten letters in the last two months – including one from you.  It’s really something to get some mail after not hearing a word for almost two and a half years. But the people at home have had their periods of suspense, too, which have perhaps been harder than ours.  I haven’t been doing too badly since I had a pretty rugged bout with beri-beri last year.

My birthday dinner will consist of steamed rice, boiled camotes, and a little bit of spam, which I have saved from our Red Cross packages – for this occasion.  Guess I’ll have to postpone the fried chicken and cake – hope you’ll eat a piece of each for me.  We are expecting to move soon, but we don’t know when nor where.  This is really quite a game; I expect to come out of it a better man – a better son, a better husband, , a better father – and, I hope a better twin brother.  Love, Earl”

I mentioned in the above letter a proposed dinner in the Riverside Mission Inn;  I am glad we were able to carry out the threat a year later.  Also, I spoke of the likelihood of a move in the wind.  From what we could gather, which wasn’t much (nothing really solid) some of our military strategists were figuring that if our forces were making the progress they hoped for – then it wouldn’t be too long before they would be heading up our way. If this happened, they figured the enemy would want to keep us from being recaptured, and would probably send us up to Japan.  Then there were those among us who were sure that our forces would bypass the Philippines, and leave us, surrounded by that jungle, to shift for ourselves.  Also, there were those who said that before the enemy would allow us to be recaptured or left alone, they would line us all us and machine-gun us to death.  Some of us had wondered why they hadn’t done that before; there were various theories on that, too, but I’m sure that most of us were glad that this had not happened, and hoped that it would not.

I had become so “wacky” by this time that I even wrote the following birthday verses to myself:

Now that I’m forty years old –
just how do I feel today?
Since the story must be told-
it’s really hard to say.

Though I’ve never been here before –
and never will be again,
I’m sure there’s much more in store
than in the good old days when”

Life should begin for me now
and I surely believe that it’s true.
For I’m really convinced, somehow,
that each day’s a beginning anew.

Though I thought we’d be home
by this time –
the very best of plans of a man,
go bad without reason or rhyme
– try as hard as ever you can.

But there’s always something to learn
from every experience of life.
And some things which we have to earn
– sometimes through considerable strife.

So I can thoughtfully say
that I have no cause for regret.
Though I begrudge each single day.
I have far from given up yet.

In Fact I’m proud of my years
for I’ve lived through some very
great days.
And though there have been some tears.
There have been more joys always.

Grey hairs don’t worry me much.
And baldness isn’t so bad
if with life we keep in touch.
And think of the good times we’ve had.

So anxious as all of us are,
for this thing to speedily cease.
My wagon is hitched to a star
For I’m sure there will soon be peace.

Then let the years come and go,
as they most certainly will.
For this I surely know,
That God’s in His Heaven’s still.

The attendance at Mother’s day divine services was even greater than that on Easter; naturally we were thinking more and more of home and our loved ones.  A man may love and respect his mother, and still not be an angel, but you show me a man who does not respect his mother, nor womanhood, and usually he won’t be much of a man.  On this Mother’s day I had occasion to write the following – to four mothers:  My own, the mother of my boys, the mother of my wife, and the mother (my sister) of my first nephew, who probably would have been involved in this war too – had he lived:

“Well girls, how are you doin’?  I am doing better than at this time last year, when I hadn’t been out of the hospital very long. I have been on a work detail some of the time, but lately I’ve been just carrying on my work as a chaplain within the camp.  I find plenty to do – what with my own reading, and reading aloud to some of the men who can’t see so well.  Then, of course, I have my services and personal visiting, etc.  So, I have plenty to do – to keep me out of mischief!

I thought of you all, of course, as I conducted my service this morning; all of us think constantly of our homes and loved ones, whom we miss so much.  It is hard to write our true feelings, but I hope it won’t be too long now before we can tell you these things in person.  Your recent letters have helped a lot – it had certainly been a long, dry spell for all of us, but, I’m sure the worst of it is over now. I’m so glad you were all well – at least, a year ago, and hope you still are.  I have so many things to tell you all – in person, and I’m praying for that great day!  God bless you mothers. Love, Earl”

Although we didn’t have any organized observance on Memorial Day, I’m sure that it was observed privately in the thoughts of many of us, who remembered those who had gone before us.  I did have the rare privilege of being present at an informal and impromptu presentation that warmed the hearts and watered the eyes of the few of us who were privileged to be there.  As I have mentioned before, there had been such talk recently about the possibility of our being moved away from Dapecol.  This possibility evidently had become at least a probability by now; in fact, we had been given semi-official word to be ready to go – ‘most any time – not that it would take much time for us to pack our wardrobes, etc.  However, there were certain things to do – by way of consolidating the few belongings we did have – and deciding which were the essentials – if we had to choose.

The principle character in this story was a lad that I knew only slightly.  Evidently he had decided that Memorial day would be a good time to effect some of the above preparations.  As I sauntered past his barracks that day he motioned me to join him and a few of his friends, and we went inside.  Making sure he was among friends, he asked us, as he proceeded to his bunk, if we would like to see something rare and beautiful.  Naturally we answered in the affirmative, and we were curiosity personified.  Would you believe an American flag, and a good sized one at that?  Well, there it was!  As he unfolded Old Glory, which we had not seen for two and one-half years, there wasn’t a dry eye in the group, and there was plenty of silence.  I don’t know where this flag came from or how he kept it hidden so long, but I was glad that I had been included in this unscheduled Memorial day celebration, which was one of the biggest boosts we could have had.  I couldn’t help but recall the last time I saw our colors; it was when I was delegated to be in charge of lowering the flag and hiding it – at Santa Scholastica’s College in Manila – before the enemy, who was taking over the city, had a chance to do anything with it.  I had not seen any flag but the Japanese “flaming A” since that time.  I can’t help but wonder about those in our country who scoff at flag-waving, and those smart-alecs, who even burn our national emblem; sometimes I wonder if “breathes there a man with soul so dead, who never to himself has said, “This is my own, my native land?”







Soldier - Illustration by Rosella Brewster



Right after Memorial day we did get the definite word that we would be moving on within a very few days; the word was to be ready to go at any time, and that time proved to be June 5. So, after twenty long, weary months, surrounded by that jungle, beset by hunger, trials, temptations, sickness, and other experiences, we were leaving our “shangri-la”. We were pretty sure we would be heading north, but they didn’t tell us what our destination would be.

The first leg of our journey was to Davao, a distance of about ten miles, but we didn’t have to hike it this time. After breakfast on the . day of our departure we were herded onto the drill field — to bake in the hot sun for a couple of hours — until the cattle trucks were assembled,
‘ to haul us away. Before we were allowed to board these vehicles, however, we were forced to remove our shoes, and were blindfolded. Then we were jammed into the trucks, and tied together (standing up) with a half inch rope; maybe it was some that I had helped to make. This was a good way to get the maximum number in each truck, and also to make sure that nobody jumped out — or over. I suppose the blindfolds were to impress us with the fact that this was not to be just a sightseeing tour; subsequently we were duly impressed.

A guard was placed on top of the cab of each truck, armed with a rifle, and a long bamboo pole. When the latter weapon was wielded it resulted in a bop on the head of any of us who spoke, or were thought to be peeking. I didn’t peek, but it isn’t easy for a chaplain to keep still at any time — especially when the man next to him has fainted. The resulting whack didn’t hurt, since I was wearing a pith helmet, which I had acquired somehow — legitimately, I hope. As with a youngster who has been spanked, I could have said, “Didn’t hurt”, but I didn’t say it — not outloud, at least. It can readily be imagined that this trip, which was over a very bumpy road, and took almost an hour, was not exactly a deluxe sightseeing tour.

On arrival at the port of Davao, there were two rather small., old freighters waiting at a pier for us. Immediately we were herded aboard — for security reasons, no doubt. Even before we got aboard we could see (and smell) that those old tubs were even smaller and dirtier than the one that brought a thousand of us down from Manila twenty months earlier.
Now there were two thousand of us, and we could see that, with a thousand men in each of these ships, we were going to have even a more rugged cruise this time. Added to that, it was apparent that the enemy was realizing that our forces were headed north. Consequently, we were not surprised that our captors had become even tougher than ever — and more jittery. As we were marched aboard we passed by one of the ship’s holds, into which we were supposed to throw any gear that we had with us; most of it had been put in trucks which preceded our caravan. I had been able, so far, to hold onto my precious under-arm zipper-case, containing my most valuable possessions; but now I wondered how I was going to keep it from the possibility of being lost in the shuffle. I really hadn’t counted on having this problem, which was a pressing one, since an enemy guard was standing at the hold to see that we went to our “cabins” empty-handed — except for our canteen and mess gear, which were hooked to our belts. As I started to pass by the hold, the guard, noticing my zipper case, motioned to me, and pointed to the hold. Pointing to the cross on my collar, I kept walking — not too fast — and as he pointed his rifle at me I continued to point at my cross and walk, and managed to get by with it. As I heaved a sigh of relief I wondered if I hadn’t been pretty foolhardy; but I suppose I was thinking more about my valuables than about the risk involved. I wonder if I would do such a thing now, but I was younger then. “Nothing ventured, nothing gained”, I guess. Besides, “The Lord looks after babies, preachers, and other fools”. As we say in the Navy: I’m sure I don’t live that good”. Also, like Satchel Paige,”I didn’t look back — for fear something might have – been gaining on me”.

Well, these ships were even worse than the ones we had come down in from Manila twenty long months ago. We were more crowded, the coal bunkers were dirtier, and the cruise took twice as long, since we put in at almost every port along the way. We were so crowded that it was impossible for all of us to lie down, or even sit down, at the same time.
We tried sleeping (down in our coal bunkers — on the steel decks) in shifts, which was certainly less than ideal, and that didn’t work out too well. Some of us preferred to stay a good part of the time topside, where there was fresh air — even though sometimes there was standing room only.

The first night out from Davao I underwent a humbling experience. Some of us were standing topside, leaning against a bulkhead, which was the most comfortable place we could find. Standing beside me was my friend Warren, whom I have mentioned previously as having renewed his Christian commitment. As we were standing there – hungry, tired, and already dirty — I said, to Warren: “This looks like an almost impossible situation, doesn’t it?” Warren’s reply was, “Well, Chaplain, you’re going to have to eat those words. Here you’ve been preaching to us that with God’s help nothing is impossible, but with God anything is possible; how about that? Chaplain, in spite of everything, God is good to us!” Preacher, practice what you preach! As I have said before, this preaching is a risky business!

On this “luxury” cruise we were constantly hungry and thirsty; our rations for these three weeks consisted of a couple of rice balls and one canteen of water (for all purposes) a day. Together with only the crudest, skimpiest “sanitary” facilities — this was not exactly conducive to good habits and regularity. Add to all this the filthiness of the old coal-bum- ing.vessel — then you have the conditions that make for a hell-ship. We didn’t remove our clothes or shoes (the rats were too numerous down below) for three weeks, and, of course, we had no opportunity to bathe or shave during that time.

As I think back on such an experience, I wonder how we were able to endure it. From a human standpoint, I suppose the fact that already we had endured so much helped. Also, the idea now in our minds that our being moved North meant the possibility that the day of our liberation might be drawing nearer — this may have helped to sustain us. However, some of us felt the sustaining power of the “friend that sticketh closer than a brother”.

Since on this voyage we sailed (slowly) close to the shores of inviting looking islands, it may have entered the minds of a certain number of the “passengers” that this presented a potentially good opportunity for escape — in spite of plenty of armed guards aboard. Abactor that might have made escape less difficult and dangerous at night lay in the fact that the ships were blacked-out after dark. This, as did the matter of sailing close to shore, no doubt had to do with the possibility of submarine attacks.

As far as potential escapees were concerned, however, there were at least a couple of major deterrents. First, most of us (even.the huskiest)
probably did not have enough stamina to complete what appeared to be a comparatively short swim. The second major deterrent involved the question: where would I be, and among whom, if I succeeded in making it ashore? In spite of these considerations, however, there was one young, rather brash, cocky, Army Second Lieutenant who did take the plunge one night. I never learned whether or not he made it, or what happened to him — if he got ashore. I hope he was successful — even though he and I were not exactly bosom buddies, having engaged in a couple of dialogues, in which we did not see eye to eye — so to speak.

I mentioned previously that we stopped at about every port along the way. At a couple we stayed only briefly, at a couple of others several hours, at one overnight, and at one we stayed a day or two; here we were allowed out on the dock awhile. However, we were not allowed to “go ashore!” The slowness of the ships, together with these stops, stretched this nightmare into three long weeks of the kind of discomfort that makes me shudder and experience nightmares even now. One other observation before we leave this pleasant travelogue. As we were tied up at a dock in Cebu (one of the largest ports along the way) we saw Filipino women and children (some pre-teenagers) having to carry coal to and from the ships.. Man’s inhumanity to women and children!

Perhaps it would be difficult for most of my readers to imagine what the. two thousand of us looked like when we finally landed at Manila, after those twenty months down south — and after that three weeks cruise. Maybe we were a potentially good”exhibit A” — from the standpoint of our captors, who had been preaching their “greater Southeast Asia co-prosperity sphere” propaganda to our Filipino friends. However, as our bedraggled, haggard, bearded and dirty crew was marched through the streets of Manila for all to witness the “superiority of the generous Japanese over the selfish, imperialistic Americans” — it was plain to see that not many of these gentle people had been swallowing this propaganda. As this (probably largely captive) audience lined the streets as we dragged ourselves and our gear along we could see that they had a fellow-feeling for us, and a sympathetic understanding of our plight, which they shared — in essence. There were handkerchiefs at the eyes of many, some of whom dared also to wave them in a friendly greeting.

Manila looked markedly worse than previously — as we noticed (even through our periferal vision) the deterioration and lack of activity. It was not hard to realize that its captors had caused this once bustling city to become almost completely paralyzed. In this connection — as I notice contemporary events — such as violence in our cities, I am struck with the thought of how easy it is to tear down and destroy, and what hard work and sacrifice it takes to be constructive.

As I entered the portals of old Bilibid prison for the third time I wondered how long I would be staying this time, and if and when I might return. It didn’t take long to get an answer to the first part of the question, since we were kept there only overnight. This did provide an opportunity (if you initiated it) for a bath and a shave — of sorts. I don’t recall, whether or not my tresses got trimmed during this brief sojourn, but I do remember how good and refreshing it felt to get at least some of the dirt, grime and coal dust, off — plus the whiskers — even though I didn’t have much to put on in the way of clean clothes. – I figured clean clothes wouldn’t make too much “difference, however, when I learned they were sending us back to .Cabanatuan. This was not the most pleasant possible thought for us to contemplate — especially for those of us who had been there. However, we heard at Bilibid that Camp No. 1 had improved somewhat. It has been the consensus among us that we would be going on up to Japan — either directly, or via Bilibid — until we learned otherwise. This would have meant that many of our number would have been more likely to have survived, . since in a couple of later drafts there were very few survivors. Later I will have occasion .to allude to these tragedies, which took the lives of many of my friends.

While at Bilibid I had a brief opportunity to at least say hello to some of the Naval Hospital Staff and patients with whom I had served at Santa Scholastica’s College in Manila. This unit continued to do a good » job at this crossroads. Some of my friends on the staff there again tried to have me assigned as the Protestant chaplain, since the current Japanese Commander of Bilibid was a doctor, who allowed two non-patients to be on the staff as chaplains. A veteran Army chaplain, who was not in good shape, was • serving the Protestants, but, since he was not yet in a patient status I did not get the job. Incidentally, some of my Bilibid friends told me that our contingent, which came in from Dapecol, was the worst looking large group they had seen — and they had seen a number of groups that didn’t look very “purty”! This was a dubious distinction, and I don’t know how much better we looked when we left for Cabanatuan.

So, I left this bastille for the third time, and again we were hiked to “Union” station, where we had our reservations validated on the “Cabanatuan Express” — for accommodations in our cute little mini hot-boxes. By now I was a confirmed commuter on this line, but that doesn’t imply that I enjoyed the trips. There was nothing terribly eventful about this ride compared to the ones I had taken a couple of years before. This time, however, there was a difference in the mode of transportation from Cabanatuan City to Camp No. 1. What a pleasant surprise to find trucks — not only waiting for our gear — but for us, too. Quite different from that miserable Memorial Day forced march in 19421 Perhaps there were a couple of reasons the enemy had for this change. First, we surmised when we left Dapecol that the Japanese figured that the Americans were headed for the Philippines, and that a little less rough treatment of prisoners might be indicated. Secondly, and connected with our first assumption, was the apparent realization that, for the most part, we were in no shape at all for such a march. So, we rode, if not in style.

Those of us who had served time in Camp No. 1 anticipated seeing some of our friends (many had been sent to Japan) there — even though we were not exactly anxious to renew our acquaintance with the place, itself .. in spite of our having heard at Bilibid that conditions here had improved. However, we soon found that our renewal of friendships was not to be realized until after a three week period of quarantine, which was now required for incoming individuals and groups. This must have had implications and ramifications other than health precautions, even though we couldn’t figure out what “they” might have had in mind. Maybe they thought we might have had “secret” information to exchange — or something.

So, we were kept in barracks on the hospital side, which had been cleaned up, and was not the stinking, filthy place it used to be. The fittest had survived, while the bodies of the unfortunate victims of hunger, filth, disease and neglect were in shallow, common graves, many of which the wild dogs had visited, in the so-called cemetery north of the old hospital area. Our conditions in our temporary home were about on a par with those we had left at Dapecol. Here in our interim situation we did have an opportunity to clean up and become somewhat rested from those three weeks on that dirty coal-burning “Maru”.

During this period I was able to conduct some services, and also spend some time on my sporadic running account of periods and events. One of these brief narratives was written to my mother to commemorate her birthday in June. “July 1, 1944 — to my mother — on her seventy-seventh birthday: Well, Mother, I’m a few days late for your birthday; but it couldn’t be helped, since we have been on the move again — from June 5-28. We have had a trying three weeks — coming back to where we were before, after having been gone for twenty months. This was the hardest trip we’ve had, and all of us are completely worn out, but are gradually getting somewhat rested again. It is amazing what the human body can stand. We lost only one man on this trip, although many were in bad shape to begin with.

I have stood the ordeal fairly well, except that I’m still very tired. Things may be a little better here, although we Can’t expect too much at this stage of the game. We are hoping we won’t have to move any more — until this dirty business is over — and that it won’t be too long before we are free again. I am certainly hoping it won’t be more than three years altogether. Also, we are hoping to get more mail here. Since we can’t see you, it is wonderful to hear, although the few letters we have received have averaged about a year old. A fellow gets so lonesome and homesick — but I have not lost faith, and am not too discouraged. I will continue to be optimistic — no matter what might happen. I hope to come back to you all a better son, husband, father and minister. Hope you are all well, and that the good Lord spares you, so that I can see you and tell you how much I love you. Earl.”

This was the fourth 4th of July away from home, and, although I didn’t know it at the time, it would be the last away from my native land and loved ones. We were just finishing our first of three weeks of quarantine, and, of course, there was no opportunity for any loud, outward celebration of the birth of our country. They couldn’t keep us from thinking, however, and there was plenty of inward celebration, as well as discussion among us.
The longer you are away from your country — especially if it is a forced absence — the more appreciation you have for it; that is, if you have ;he capacity for appreciation. Those old familiar words again come back to you, “Breathes there a man with soul so dead, who never to himself has said: This is ray own — my native land?” God help such a person!.

The rather long period of isolation in the old hospital area finally did come to an end, and around the 20th of July we were moved (under our own power) to mainside, where about half of us had spent five months early in our game of “musical chairs”. The place was essentially the same, although there had been some improvements and refinements accomplished — mostly at the initiative and with the hands of our people, many of whom had been sent out — mostly to Japan. Some of our old friends were still there, and we began to renew friendships as soon as possible. They, of course, had lots of questions about how we got along at Dapecol, and especially about our ten-man escape, about which they had only meager reports (or rumors) through some kind of grapevine.
I didn’t remain on mainside long enough, however, to do much visiting; in fact I had hardly had time to get unpacked before a messenger came to my new barracks, saying that I was to report immediately to the main gate … with my gear. So, it was a good thing I was not completely unpacked. I took this message as an order {wondering what’ I had done of failed to do) to not only comply “with all deliberate speed”, but almost to “do it yesterday”. Consequently it didn’t take me long to proceed to the main gate, where I found that I was being taken back to Bilibid … to become the Protestant chaplain, since Chaplain Perry Wilcox, USA, had become a patient. I later learned that some of my old friends on the staff of the Naval hospital there had requested roe by name, and the Japanese medical commander had granted their request.

slice of bread



On reporting as ordered to the main gate of Camp No. 1, I noticed a truck with two Japanese guards — looking as if they were expecting some kind of cargo. I soon learned that I was to be the valuable shipment, which was either so valuable and/or dangerous that these two armed guards stayed with me in the back of the truck during the trip to Cabanatuan City. I was told that I was the only one-man detail ever to have left Camp-No. 1. Quite a distinction! On arriving at the railroad station, which I had seen three times before, I found a troop train still discharging its troops; so, I had to wait a little while before boarding my “private” car.

As the guards were escorting me aboard this car, on which I proved to be the only “paying” passenger, a Japanese Lieutenant stepped forward and greeted me. He looked quite smart in his uniform. Whether or not he had disembarked with the troops, or whether he was assigned locally to greet me — I didn’t know. Nevertheless, he came aboard with me, and seemed to be anxious to “chat”. Evidently he knew who I was, and where I was going. Here, is the essence of our conversation: “You must be happy that you are going to Manila”. “Yes”, I replied, “I will be glad to be among friends.” Our chat in the aisle of the coach was necessarily brief, since he, no doubt, had duties elsewhere, and the train was due to leave momentarily. As my “friendly enemy” was about to take his leave he clicked his heels, stood at attention, and as he gave me a snappy salute he said, “I wish you luck.” Hoping to match his salute, I clicked my heels, stood at attention, and returned his salute with these words, “I, too, wish you luck.” I hope that this young officer, who probably had lived in America (his English was very good), survived the war, and that he is enjoying life — wherever he may be I had a feeling that he knew he was involved in a lost cause, and that his heart was not really in it.

The two young guards, who had been in the background, remained with me in the car, which was otherwise empty. These young soldiers (a corporal and a private) sat opposite me, and I had a double seat to myself. They allowed me to reverse the seat ahead of me, so I .sat there with my feet cocked up on the opposite cushion, and even had a couple of windows through which to view the passing scene — as we headed for Manila. Quite a contrast to the little hot metal box cars — filled with people sitting on all their worldly possessions! This train was no super chief, but it almost seemed like it by way of comparison.

One incident during this trip I must mention. At the train’s first stop there were several Filipinos selling their produce — at the inflated prices caused by the almost worthless Japanese invasion printing-press money. One little girl, perhaps about eight or nine years old, with big, brown wistful, calf-like eyes, had some boiled duck eggs in her little basket. As she came over (irresistibly) close to my car, my number one guard hollered out the window, “How much?” her reply was “Two pesos”, meaning, of course, two pesos for each egg. This the guard must have known, but he took all five of the little lady’s eggs, and threw her only two pesos for the lot. I cou^d .sense her helpless disappointment — as she looked up at me (I was on her side of the train) hungrily. As surreptiously as possible I reached into my pocket, and found I had two pesos, which I tossed to the little lass, whose smile was worth any risk that might have been involved. I don’t know whether or not the guards noticed what I had done, but they did give me one of the eggs So, at least, I had paid for my egg! Rosie says she isn’t jealous of this little lass, who gave me such a beautiful smile! I hope she is enjoying life, as a woman in her middle thirties.

That evening about dusk I entered old Bilibid for the fourth time, my two guards having delivered me in a small truck, which had met our train, on which there were only a few passengers. The guards did not give me a parting salute — as had the friendly Japanese officer at Cabanatuan; however, they had treated me all right — under the circumstances.

I was not a newcomer to old Bilibid; although I had stayed there only a couple of times (overnight), I had served with our Naval Hospital Staff, and also knew some of the patients who still were there. So, it was not as a stranger that I entered those gates again, and as I had told the Japanese officer at Cabanatuan City, “it waS nice to-be among friends,” from whom I received a warm welcome. Chaplain Wilcox and others were more than helpful in their efforts to bring me up to date — so that I could function as effectively as possible.

Although there were several changes in the use of the Bilibid buildings during their occupancy by American prisoners, the general arrangement had not changed. Prisoners and all others entered the compound via the front underpass just inside the double metal gates. The various buildings were adapted comparatively well for our hospital purposes, and also for temporary housing for prisoners as drafts were made up to be sent to Japan” This latter activity began in the fall of 1942, about the time one thousand of us were sent to Dapecol. In ^peaking of Bilibid’s lending itself to hospital and other needs I am, of course, speaking only in comparative terras — in relation to other facilities out there.

After being in Bilibid a few days (on August 1, 1944) I had occasion to write the following to Rosie: “Dear Rosie: I am not observing any special date this time, but am writing because something special has happened to me lately. I was called back to Manila to be with the Naval Hospital unit that I had left more than two years ago. This came out of a clear, blue sky, and was a very pleasant surprise. It is the next thing to coming home, and I hope I can stay here until I .do start back. The Protestant chaplain here became ill, and they sent for me to take his place. I hope I will be a good pinch-hitter, since there is a fine opportunity to serve here. I got several letters on arrival, and although this batch didn’t include any of yours, I know it is not because you haven’t written. The latest letter was written on August 20, 1943 — almost a year ago. I have been told I have latex letters here — being censored — so I’m looking forward to them.

Things look much better here, and I am very hopeful. I am feeling better, in that I am getting some good rest by sleeping on a thin mattress for the first time in two years. I also have the use of a cold water, outdoor shower. Being with old friends in this Naval hospital unit is a big plus. Actually, I’m having a hard time getting back to earth. I don’t know what I’ll be like when I get home, but hope I will at least be able to answer your questions; and, of course, I’ll have plenty to ask you. Writing is so unsatisfactory — as it has always been for us. We are missing a great deal, but because of this experience we will both have more to contribute. I hope our boys have not grown too far away from their Dad. Also, I hope that I will prove to be a better husband, father and minister — as a result of these experiences. I would like to be able to consider staying in the Navy — if it meets with your approval; not that I want to be away from home anymore! I am looking forward to the time when we can talk over such things — and many more. Always, Earl.”

My work as the Protestant chaplain in Bilibid was as enjoyable as could be expected, and it was a real privilege to serve fellow-prisoners, even though most of them were down physically, and consequently low, as far as morale was concerned. This business had stretched out so long that there was a lot of pessimism and discouragement in our midst. ‘The food ration had been reduced to less than a thousand calories a day, which, of course, is a starvation diet.

Among other things, it was my duty to officiate at burials more and more frequently, since some of our shipmates simply could not stand the strain any longer — after having held on for so long. These burials were inside the compound,’ and while grim enough, the situation was not as bad as it was during the early days at Cabanatuan, and also later in Manila.

A chapel of sorts had been rigged at Bilibid, and I was privileged to conduct services there regularly. Also, I was able to visit among the patients and staff — as well as “strays” and groups waiting to be formed into drafts — to be shipped up to Japan. These were mostly from Cabanatuan, so I had a chance to visit with some of my old friends now and then.

The morale level fluctuated from time to time — depending partly on the latest rumors — or the lack of them. It is difficult for a man’s morale to remain very high (humanly speaking) when he is hungry and sick. In my visiting and preaching I continued to emphasize the unseen values … such as faith, hope and love … without (I hope) seeming to be too “otherworldly” and “preachy”. Here was a real test of whether or not a man was practicing what he was preaching. Maybe more preachers (like me) need to undergo such a test.

August 22, 1944 (our eighteenth wedding anniversary) was the occasion for the following: “Well, Rosie, -it hardly seems like eighteen years since our beautiful little wedding, but it certainly seems a long time since I’ve seen you and the boys. Surely it just can’t be another long years before we get together again, and I really don’t think it will be. So much has happened that I can’t begin to tell you about on paper. Although I haven’t heard much from you, I know that you have written plenty. The latest letter I have received was dated March 15, 1944. I am ‘enjoying it here’ – compared to where I’ve been the last couple of years. It is nice to be with the hospital unit that I started the war with, and with which I feel at home. I think I am getting in somewhat better shape, and should be able to get back to par in comparatively short order — when the time comes to get back to “home-cookin’” and normal living.

This is probably rambling and disconnected, but you will understand, I just wanted to mark another milestone. I’ll answer all the questions I possibly can when I get home; what a great day that will be — to see you and my precious boys — and all the rest! May God bless and keep you. Earl.”

I mentioned a little earlier that I was able to conduct divine services regularly here at Bilibid. The only interruptions of our services were really not so unwelcome, since they were caused by our planes flying over to bomb the Manila waterfront. Our captors required us to go to our dormitories and close the wooden shutters during these raids — so,that we couldn’t see what was going on. However, these shutters didn’t always close completely, and, although we didn’t exactly have ringside seats, we enjoyed the show. This happened only a cpuple of times during divine services, and we figured the Lord would, understand these interruptions.

We saw our first American planes (or first anything American) over Manila on September 21, 1944, and they were a beautiful sight (for sore eyes) for us who had not seen or heard anything from our side for so long. This was really a shot in the arm — causing us to realize that this part of the war had not been forgotten. It also renewed our confidence that we were getting the upper hand, and gave us renewed hope that the Philippines would not be by-passed by our forces. Truly this was a red letter day, although all was not smooth sailing for the rest of the cruise, which, for some of us, was still to last for several months, and for nearly a year for others, while for many it ended abruptly and tragically within the next three months.

I have mentioned that the drafts were formed here at Bilibid, to be sent to Japan. This had been going on for about two years now, but there were still about five thousand of our people left at Cabanatuan. Apparently the Japanese had In mind sending as many as possible of us north (especially since recent developments) to keep us from falling into friendly hands— and also, perhaps, in order to have greater bargaining power in the future. In line with this procedure, one of the largest drafts (nearly two thousand) of our people was brought from Cabanatuan several days before sailing north. In this group were many of my friends from early Cabanatuan days, and from Dapecol. Renewing friendships and acquaintances was a pleasant experience — while it lasted. Telling these fellow-prisoners goodbye, however, was a different matter, since we suspected that it would be a hazardous voyage — in a crowded, unmarked ship — with our planes and subs now operating in the area.

I thought for a while that I was going to be included in this draft; in fact, my name was on the list until only a matter of hours before the contingent was to leave. They did take almost all of the Naval hospital, staff, which was replaced by an Army unit from Cabanatuan. Some of us thought this wasn’t fair (although we had learned not to expect fairness from our captors), since this Naval unit had done such a good job of cleaning up and putting this place in commission, and continued to carry on for almost two and one-half years. You don’t have to have been prejudiced against the Array to have made the above statement.

Why did the Japanese make this change? You just have to repeat, “their only consistency lies in their inconsistency”. There are, however, a couple of factors that could have entered into this decision to change hospital staffs. By and large, the Navy group represented more seniority, and also it was made up largely of regular Navy people. The Array unit was made up largely of junior people, most of whom were reserves. This followed the plan that apparently had been followed by the Japanese: When there’s a choice retain the lowest ranking reserves. This may have been what happened in my own case; since I was quite a low ranking reserve, and also since the Army unit included no chaplain, I was retained as the Protestant chaplain. Perhaps this is giving our captors too much credit; at any rate, if I had had a choice would not have chosen to go north.

Apparently “the powers that were” did not have other more important factors in mind in making up the roster of those who were to go. For instance, I saw non-ambulatory patients (on crutches) herded into formation, and sent out the main gate, and at least a couple of bed patients were carried out, to unspeakable suffering, and almost certain death. You will realize that I am not exaggerating here when, only a handful of the two thousand survived this “shipment” on this overcrowded fetid, ghastly hell-ship. Many of my good friends were lost on this unnecessarily hazardous voyage on an unmarked ship, which gave no indication of who might be aboard. It would have been more humane and merciful if the enemy had lined up our men and machine-gunned them. Two or three of my close friends, who did survive, were reluctant to tell even me some of the details of the worst things that went on during this horrible nightmare. I did learn, however, that thirst was so intense that some were reduced to drinking urine and blood. I’ll leave other things to your imagination. You don’t need to use much imagination, though, to surmise that a certain number of our people were forced into stark, raving madness. Of course, we did not hear this story until sometime later. When I did, however, my question was, “Why was I spared?” My only answer was, and still is, that there must have been unfinished work for me to do. I can assure you — it has been a humbling experience — even though I may not seem to be so humble.

On October 30, 1944 — on the occasion of his eighth birthday — I wrote the following to my number two son, Leonard: “Well, Butch, old boy (I notice Mother still calls you Butch), there isn’t too much that I can write about, but I like to put down something now and then — so you three will know that I always think of you, and especially at certain times of the year — like your birthday. It is hard to realize you were still four years old when I last saw you, and that you’re going on nine now. But, I expect to see you while you’re still eight. I’ve got to get you that bike I have in mind for you — before you get so big you’ll have to have a full sized one — like your big brother’s. I’ll try to make up for all your birth days, and Christmases, too — with some things I hope you’ll like.

I’m here now with the hospital unit I was with before the surrender. I hope I will not have to go north — so I’ll have a chance of being with you sooner. I have really been very fortunate in many ways, and I’m so proud to have such fine boys. I have been so anxious to get some pictures of you, but haven’t received any yet; nor have I gotten any personal packages, but I know it isn’t because you haven’t sent things. I certainly have enjoyed the letters that have reached me, but I’m getting so anxious to see you three. Even though all of us will have changed some … especially you boys … still, I’m sure we can still be the same happy foursome as before. I know we can have some swell times together. Some things will depend on whether I stay in the Navy, or not. We’ll have to talk over a lot of things together. I’m feeling pretty good now. Love — from your Dad.”

The next several weeks after the October draft were more or less routine — if anything in that strange experience out there could have been called routine. In a sense, however, since not only hearing, but seeing, our first American planes in September, and hearing more and better rumors from time to time, most of us were living with more hope and expectation than we had had before. Also, a new element had been introduced into our one-way “communications system”.

During my brief sojourn at Cabanatuan (before being returned to Bilibid — as a one-man detail) 1 got word of a couple of radios that had been built by some ingenious Americans — right under the noses of the Japanese. These “forerunners” of the transistor radio were put together (over quite a period of time) bit by bit. from discarded materials, and also from parts Jhat were “requisitioned” by some of our people detailed to work in the quarters of the Japanese. This was risky business, but those who engaged in it evidently thought that the rewards could outweigh the risks involved. The result was — after many months of stealth, evasiveness, and ingenuity — there were two working radios in Camp No. 1 that delighted the privileged few who were in on this deal, and evidently puzzled and frustrated the Japanese camp commander. We were told that the enemy was sure the Americans were getting word from somewhere, and that it must be through radio, but no radios were to be found in the camp. The, reason that their inspections did not bear fruit was that these two radios (one placed inside a mess kit, and the other in a canteen) were in plain sight when the inspection parties came around, and these commonplace articles were never suspect. I can imagine, however, the potential panic in the minds and hearts of the owners of these instruments — as the inspectors breathed down their necks! The above “activity” represented the kind of ingenuity, as I mentioned earlier, that caused the Japanese commander to say, “If I don’t watch these _____ ______ Americans, they’ll build a railroad right through this
camp, and take off.’”

When our people came down to Bilibid for the October draft, one of these mysterious instruments was brought along. While not many of us were privileged to listen directly to this marvel of American ingenuity, the good word that our forces were making steady progress northward did get around. This, together with our planes, which we were seeing with our own eyes, combined to be about the biggest morale booster yet. Although our living conditions (especially our food) had not improved, such encouraging word undoubtedly caused some of our people to gain new hope, and a new determination to hang on a while longer — in spite of hunger (actually our food ration was diminishing), pain, and homesickness.

Old Bilibid Prison, Manila
Old Bilibid Prison, Manila. Illustration by Rosella Brewster



About the middle of November four hundred of us “cripples” were sent out to Ft. McKinley (don’t ask me why), which was not far from Manila. Here we spent Thanksgiving and Christmas of 1944, my fourth year to be away from home on these nostalgic days. Here at v this abandoned military base our living conditions suffered by comparison with those at Bilibid, and the food was definitely more scarce, ‘ if that seems possible. The fact is — they almost starved us there for a period of seven weeks. However, our being out there at this particular time undoubtedly meant survival for many of us.

In effect I was a member of our Administrative Staff there during these bleak and hungry days. The only other officers among us were three young public health service doctors, who had come to Bilibid as a part of this October draft. So, they were fortunate, too, in that they had not been sent north, and that they were not at Bilibid at the time the last draft left in December. The senior doctor, about thirty-five years old, was our head man — under the Japanese command, which wasn’t very high-powered. Naturally our captors had the final word. The other two doctors were quite young; all three did a good job, and I was. glad to be associated with such fine Americans, who were dedicated to healing the sick, and who carried on so well — in spite of such adverse conditions. In spite of all that could be done, we had several deaths during this period. We gave these casualties of war the most dignified burials of which we were capable. Perhaps they wouldn’t have made it had they been kept at Bilibid, since some were in pretty bad shape when we left there.

At Ft. McKinley our diet consisted of practically nothing but rice and watery soup. Most of what little meat we did get (a very few times) was, so spoiled that, before it was cooked, it could be smelled for a distance of twenty-five yards. But, by the Grace of God, we were able to hold services, a few reading groups (as I had done at Dapecol), and even some special observance of Thanksgiving and Christmas. We had nothing (materially speaking) with which to celebrate these festivals, but some of the men still had inner resources, which caused them to be able to endure. “Though the outward man perish, the inner man is renewed day by day.” For the Christian — Christmas, Easter, and Thanksgiving are always meaningful — no matter what the outward circumstances.
So, life went on; more properly, perhaps I should have used the word existence, since materially and humanly speaking — that is what was taking place — but, “man does not live by bread alone”, and “the things which are seen are temporal, while the things which are not seen are eternal”. Everything considered, our morale on this detached duty was not too low. We had seen our planes over Manila, and could at least hear some “doing their stuff”, over the dock area from “our” fort, which was no more than ten miles from downtown Manila. These factors, together with the word we had received over “mini” radio (at least, indirectly) in Bilibid helped us to retain our hope and expectations, and to realize that “he that endureth to the end shall be saved”.

We were furnished no extra food for Thanksgiving, However, some of our foresighted people connected with the kitchen were resourceful — in a way. They evidently decided there wasn’t enough food around for all the local stray dogs and us, too, so they proceeded to do something about it.

The result was that for our Thanksgiving dinner we had a choice: we could have our “soup” either with or without canine meat; each individual had his choice. I didn’t learn what percentage did or didn’t choose to partake of the optional item on our Thanksgiving menu. I made the negative choice — not because I didn’t need the protein, which we all needed so badly — perhaps it was false pride. However, I had eaten (or tried to eat) everything else that had been set before me, and I concluded I would just feel better without having partaken of such exotic food! I certainly did not, however, presume to blame others who made the positive choice; I figured it was strictly an individual matter. Perhaps another thing that entered my mind was the thought and belief that we were not far from liberation, and since I had made it this far without that particular protein item — I could (by the Grace of God) finish the course.

Since, at the fort we did not have work details — except for policing-up the small, compact area assigned to us — we were able to have a special Thanksgiving service, which could have been the most meaningful of the four I spent out there; one (the first) was aboard the Holland — on the way to Manila in 1941. We didn’t have the nice sanctuary, music, decorations (such as pumpkins, cornstalks, etc.), but some of our resourceful people did find and arrange some make-do decorations – of sorts. These ingenious Americans, again! You can’t keep a man down — even when he is down physically — if he has retained those inner resources, which only God Almighty can supply. Also, necessity really is the mother of invention! For my Old Testament lesson I read the 92nd Psalm, which begins with these words: “It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord, and to sing praises unto Thy name, 0 most High: To show forth Thy loving kindness in the morning,’ and Thy faithfulness every night”. For the New Testament lesson, which formed the framework of my Thanksgiving message I used St. Paul’s testimony in Philippians 4:11-13, “not that I speak in respect of want; for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound; everywhere, and in all things. I am instructed both to be full, and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ, who strengtheneth me”. I still think that was a pretty good Thanksgiving text. However, I won’t give you the sermon now — you’ll have to wait for my next book: “Barbed-Wire Sermons!”

Naturally, at, the time, we didn’t know what was going to happen to us — out there at this deserted fort — any more than we could figure out why they brought us out in the first place. We were a bunch of “cripples” and low-ranking reserves — so, maybe we were the most expendable — and perhaps we were the ones they could afford to leave behind — just in case. Then some of us realized that we had been pretty crowded in Bilibid when the October draft came down — and that there were two or three thousand more of our people up at Cabanatuan, whom the Japanese probably planned to send to Japan via Bilibid. Perhaps all of these conjectures contained some truth — but, again, “their only consistency lies in their inconsistency”.

Since there were no permanent work details at Ft. McKinley, too many people had too much time on their hands. Even if there had been work to be done, however, I doubt if very many of our sick and lame could have qualified. There were a few books available, so, J was able to resume reading each day to groups made up of those whose eyesight was impaired, plus others who wished to join our “club”. A chaplain has, in a sense, an advantage over others’ in a situation like this — in that he doesn’t need to have time on his hands. His opportunities are right at hand — not only in the formal ministry of conducting services — but also in the more casual (but no less important) activities Of the day. It was a great privilege to be able to serve — not just in a formal sense — but as one who “sat where they sat”. Thus the days melted into weeks, and we found ourselves approaching another Christmas’.

Christmas, 1944 was to be my fourth and last away from home. As was the case with Thanksgiving, we had very little that was temporal with which to celebrate but perhaps we had a greater appreciation than ever of those unseen, lasting values, which give real meaning to life. “A man’s life does not consist in the abundance of things that he possesses”. We did have a special service, with some improvised decorations, and carol singing, for which I heisted the tunes. I would not mean to imply that this was not a time of homesickness and nostalgia — as we thought of our homes and family gatherings with our- loved ones and friends. However, I do believe that some of us had a greater realization of the meaning of Christmas than we had ever had before. We were in a position to visualize the humble surroundings at the birth of our Savior, and to more fully appreciate the humility of those who had listened to and believed the words of the prophet, Isaiah: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder; and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, the Prince of Peace”. (Isaiah 9:6)

Not long after Christmas we got word (or, at least, heard rumors) that we would be going back to Manila soon. Naturally we were excited about this, although we had no more of an idea about what this might mean than we had about our having been brought here six weeks earlier. It could have meant that we were going to be shipped to Japan — so, there was apprehension, as well as excitement, among us — as we remembered what we had heard about the tragic fate of most of the members of the October draft. Soon after the first of 194S, we got the word that we were going back to the city very soon. Naturally we arranged out belongings accordingly.

Since we were brought out to Ft. McKinley in trucks, we hardly expected that we would be called on to try to hike back. However, we did not expect to see the kind of transportation they had arranged for us. Would you believe: trolley cars? We knew there were rails running close to the entrance to the fort, but since this line had not been in commission since our arrival (and probably not for some time before), we didn’t expect that it would be reactivated for us. So, you may imagine our surprise when we saw this string of a half-dozen street cars waiting just for us! Most of us had seats, so this was better than standing up in trucks,* or being jammed into the little hot, metal box cars on the “Cabanatuan express”. However, it wasn’t as plush as ray special, private car when I was a one- man detail from Cabanatuan to Manila a few months earlier. Our trolley line didn’t go to the Bilibid gate, but we did ride to downtown Manila, and had a comparatively short hike (again as “exhibit A”), which most of us were able to make, without too much difficulty, back to “good old Bilibid”.




This was the fifth tine that I had entered those never to be forgotten gates to this compound, which had almost (but not exactly) begun to seem like a home away (a long way) from home. Not knowing what was to befall us there we were naturally anxious to learn what had happened in our absence, and what future plans might be. It didn’t take us long, however, to learn that another large draft (mostly from Cabanatuan) had left on December 13 — three weeks before our street car ride from Ft. McKinley. From the rumors we heard, this was another very tragic trip, while subsequent reports indicated that it was the most fateful and ironical of all these ill-conceived attempts to send our people north — regardless. Naturally, this caused increased anxiety about what they would do with us. The general consensus was that they aimed to send the rest of us in Bilibid (seven or eight hundred) north, if possible — before the “Yanks and tanks” got far enough north to liberate us.

I found that I was the only active Protestant chaplain left in Bilibid, since the several’ Army and two Navy Protestant chaplains who had come down from Cabanatuan were included in either the October or December draft. The other three Navy chaplains caught in the Philippines (McManus, Quinn and Trump) were on the December draft. All three of our Navy chaplains were lost on this trip. I do not know all the details of this ill- fated voyage on an unmarked ship with between fifteen hundred and two thousand weary prisoners jammed aboard. Following are some of the reports that I have gleaned from several sources: On the way from Bilibid to the ship in Manila Bay our people were marched by a roundabout way — apparently to humiliate the Americans in the eyes of the Japanese military and the Filipinos a’long the way. It is reported that many deaths resulted within a few hours after our people were herded aboard a waiting freighter with its suffocating conditions aboard. Statements of survivors tell of men, emaciated by three years of malnutrition and brutal treatment, collapsing and dying under the ghastly conditions below decks of this unmarked ship.

The ship was evidently spotted by American planes soon after leaving Manila Bay, and since the vessel showed no signs of carrying American prisoners, she was bombed. After putting in at Olongopo, Subic Bay, the ship was again bombed; this bombing resulted in many casualties. Then the survivors spent a couple of days on a tennis court — in plain sight of attacking planes. After this ordeal, the survivors (a dwindling number) were loaded like cattle into small metal box cards, where many deaths occurred on the way to San Fernando, which had figured in the infamous Bataan death march. Finally, about two weeks after leaving Bilibid, the remaining group was put aboard a ship from which horses had just been unloaded. The horse manure aboard this ship had to be scraped into piles — in order for our people to be able to move about.

As far as I know, no one has been able (or willing) to try to describe in detail the horrors aboard this second ship. Men evidently died from starvation, thirst, brutal beatings, exposure, and a combination of diseases — including diarrhea and dysentery. It is reported that on January 9, 1945, nearly a month after the draft left Manila, this second ship was heavily bombed by American planes, resulting in about five hundred killed instantly, while there were another four hundred casualties, many of whom soon died horrible deaths. The depleted ranks were transferred to still another ship, which got to Japan with only a handful of the original
draft, from which only a few survived to get home — to be able to tell this almost unbelievable story of man’s inhumanity to man — in this supposedly civilized twentieth century. Our three Navy chaplains were among those who did not survive. I got in touch with their next of kin as soon as I could after getting home — to tell them of my association with these “soldiers of the Cross”.

The Catholic Army chaplain, who had been serving in Bilibid, had been retained; apparently my early return had been anticipated — to fill the quota — to serve among the eight hundred of us left in old Bilibid. Chaplain Wilcox had done what he could to serve after the December draft had left — but his heart condition did not allow him to be very active — so he again (along with others) gave me a warm welcome on OUR return on January 5, 1945. Our eight hundred people represented a majority of the military prisoners left in the Philippines, since there were’only about five hundred cripples left at Cabanatuan, where at times there had been as many as twenty-five time’s that number. These were liberated in a thrilling surprise rescue by a group of our courageous Rangers.

Most of our eight hundred people were pretty sick, and I began conducting burial services nearly every day, since the food ration was simply not sufficient to keep people alive. Several weeks before I went out to Ft. McKinley the Japanese command had decided that there was no more room within our prison walls to bury our dead. So, they decided that these burials would be in the huge Del Norte cemetery across the city. I believe this is the cemetery that Chaplain Ray Cook and I visited the afternoon of the only Sunday I was in circulation in Manila — a week or ten days before Pearl Harbor. I was allowed to accompany the bodies, for which the Japanese sent a truck. The first and favorite truck (belonging to the sanitation department of the city of Manila) was labeled “horse manure collection”.

The bodies were wrapped in burlap sack with no embalming, of course. Then the body was placed in a plain, wooden box (which had to be used over and over again), and placed on the bed of the truck It was a good thing that this was in th# open-air, since even a few hours in that heat made quite a difference. Sometimes the truck was not sent in for a day or two after death — and that really made a difference*. I had to climb onto the bed of the horse manure collection truck — to accompany the body. There were always at least two armed guards in the back of the truck with me, and on one trip there were as many as seven! Maybe some came along for the ride, but I like to point out — at every opportunity … what a dangerous man our captors considered me to be!

On these occasions I always wore my one khaki uniform, consisting of pants, shirt, tie and cap. I wanted the service to be as dignified as possible, but I had to make it brief, since the guards didn’t allow me much time. At the cemetery Filipino workers were waiting to carry the body to previously dug graves — usually partly filled with water. After my brief committal service (sometimes in the rain) the body was rolled out of the box into the watery grave, and the moist earth was splashed into the grave, while the chaplain was guarded back to his Bilibid “home”. During a period of a month or so this procedure was repeated at least twenty times. The burials included not only Americans, but also some English and and Dutch prisoners, many of whom had been doing forced labor for the Japanese on a railroad much farther south. Their living conditions, diet and work must have been plenty rough — judging from the condition they were in when they were brought into Bilibid. Then, too, the ship they were being sent to Japan in must have been another hell-ship. She evidently was slowed considerably on this already long voyage by engine and/or propeller trouble, which caused her to have to put in at Manila for repairs.

These poor fellows must have looked even worse than our group when we arrived in Bilibid from Dapecol six months previously. Some of them were so near death that they had to be carried by their buddies. In spite of all that our doctors could do, some of these kindred souls were too far gone — physically. As I conducted the burial services for these members of our Allied forces, I tried to get as complete a list of their names and addresses as possible, but the results were quite skimpy. There was virtually no records with these victims of uncalled-for brutality; what information I did get was largely secured from close friends in their group. I was able, however, to get in touch with a few families of these victims .. after I got home. While speaking of the burials in Del Norte Cemetery, I might mention that I was quite readily recognized (having been in uniform) by Filipinos as I leaned against the cab of the truck going to and from the cemetery. Almost all seemed friendly, and many, in spite of the beating they had been taking for three years, gave me a smile of recognition, while some dared to« give me a wave — or even the victory sign. On several of the later trips to the cemetery I noticed in a grove of trees, quite close to the gravesites, hundreds and perhaps thousands of oil drums. Evidently it was gasoline — for safe keeping, since they must have been pretty sure the Americans wouldn’t bomb a cemetery — and that their precious fuel would be safe there.

After a week or ten days the ship that brought our gallant allies to us was either repaired or replaced, and the survivors were marched or carried back aboard. None was left with us — except the dead. I never learned what the fate of the others proved to be. I would guess, considering what had happened to our people, that very few of them landed in Japan. There were some fine, high-caliber young men in this group; what a waste is war!

Now our planes were coming over quite often, and they continued to be a beautiful sight to us. A few came over our bastile low enough that we could see the pilots wave to us. We were thrilled to wave back … even though there might have been some risk involved. There wasn’t much of an opportunity for us to greet our comrades in the sky, since our guards hurriedly herded us into our barracks — to keep us from enjoying the show. However, resourceful Americans often find ways to circumvent harsh regimentation.

Religious services were sometimes interrupted by air-raid alarms. I had more than one service interrupted abruptly, but we did not object too much to this kind of intrusion, for it meant that the day of our liberation probably was drawing near. I should point out the fact that these planes of ours were not bombing indiscriminately, but their targets were facilities, supplies and equipment, which the enemy could have used against us.

As the days went by (sometimes pretty slowly) we continued to wonder if they were going to try to send us to Japan, too, since apparently their plan had been to get all of us off Luzon — if possible. However, we figured they must have been running low on ships, fuel, and expendable manpower, so, hopefully, we kept our fingers crossed. Some of us went deeper than that, and there were probably prayers that went up from some who had had very little previous practice. I wonder if it isn’t quite true in the case of most of us — that the occasions when we really and desperately pray could be counted on comparatively few fingers. It is no doubt a good thing for many of us to find ourselves in a situation which causes us to pray with Kagawa, “take Thou the burden, Lord, I am exhausted with this heavy load; through faith in Thee alone can I go on”.

Since production, transportation, communications, and the whole economy had been CTippled and brought to a standstill by “the greater South east Asia co-prosperity sphere”, naturally everything and everybody suffered. Now we could more readily understand why our .food ration became so low (down to eight hundred calories), but that didn’t help us forget the situations (especially at Dapecol) where needed food was available, but was withheld from us. It was “for the birds — not the Americans”. We knew, of course, that something had to give — that we could not survive much longer on this diet. We were losing more and more people now, and it was the exception, rather than the rule, when there was a day without at least one burial. Our captors now “found” burial space within the walls, since evidently they figured things were getting too hot for them on the outside. The shortage of gasoline and guards also could have helped to end the trips in the horse manure collection truck.

Eventually some of us did get some help, even though I never learned the source of the limited supply of these vitamin pills and shots ( which were made available. The doctors chose some of us to receive these medications, which certainly were timely. Before leaving Dapecol I had begun to develop a “drag” or “drop” in my left foot. This condition had not improved over the months, so I welcomed this treatment, which did help, and no doubt caused me to be able later to get back to par faster.

I hope during these last weeks of our three year ordeal, which in some ways were the most trying of all, that I was able to share some of the great eternal truths of hope and faith with my fellow-prisoners. If I, by the Grace of God,, was able to bring a message of hope and assurance of God’s love, which made the way brighter — then I felt repaid for the privilege of serving in this part of the Lord’s vineyard. Here were men — defeated, brutalized, worn out, hungry, discouraged, and almost without hope, in spite of the signs we had seen. Such people need to hear great, eternal truths read and proclaimed. God help us preachers when the hungry sheep look up and are not fed! One of the texts I used during this period (perhaps not in context) was a part of Luke 21:28, which says, “Look up, and lift your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh,” I wanted to use every possible legitimate means to bring — not simply human — but divine encouragement and inspiration to these men (and myself) during these anxious and testing days. I didn’t want to see anybody loosen his grip and let go during this final lap of the race. Quarter-horses wouldn’t do here, but “he that endureth to the end ” More and more I used such texts as “Ye are
saved by hope”, “without faith it is impossible to please God,” “bear ye one anothers burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ,” “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble,” “cast thy burden upon the Lord, and He shall sustain thee,” — and many other words for comfort and encouragement. Just as an important television event can,fail to be caught for lack of just a few feet of cable, so can a man lose his goal if he fails to continue to press on to complete the picture.

Not that I have achieved or attained the goal, but my aim in ministering to my compadres here – as well as in my ministry elsewhere — was to extend the human touch, while brining a divine message, without trying to play God.  At least a part of this thought is expressed in the following quote by Spencer M. Free, which I copied earlier in our sojourn:

‘Tis the human touch in this world that counts,
The touch of your hand and mine;
Which means far more to the faining heart

Than shelter, and bread and wine.
For shelter is gone when the night is o’er,
And bread lasts only a day;
But the touch of the hand and the sound of the voice

Sing on in the soul alway. ”

 American Flag - Illustration by Rosella Brewster



Just about a month after we returned from Ft. McKinley to Bilibid the great day which we had been hoping, praying and living for arrived — like a thief in the night. A few hours before the first “man-mountain” Yanks broke into old Bilibid, all the guards and staff shoved-off to parts unknown — evidently in anticipation of such an imminent happening — and supposedly with the idea of trying to save their own hides. So, we were left alone to shift for ourselves — without any real military leadership of our own, since practically all of our “able-bodied” officers were medical men, while others were patients or semi-patients. If we had had any weapons, not many would have had the energy to use them if they had known how. So, for these few hours we were at the mercy of any stray American-hating guard who might have taken a notion to see how many Americans he could shoot. Fortunately for us this did not happen, but these few hours represented probably the most dangerous short period of our barbed- wire existence.

Perhaps this waiting for the coming of the “Yanks and tanks” could be likened to our waiting and wondering when (if ever) Christmas might come when we were youngsters. Now that we were adult youngsters, we, too, had looked so longingly toward that day when we would get what we wanted, and asked for so pleadingly, that when Santa Claus did come, we could hardly believe that the time was now, and that here were all the goodies to enjoy. I don’t remember what time of day it was, or just what I was doing at the time, when I heard the first report of our liberators having arrived within our prison walls, but I can still almost feel the’ exhilaration of that redeeming event which meant freedom at last! I wonder if some of these anarchists in our midst, who are always talking ‘about freedom (while practicing coercion) can possibly have the faintest notion of the meaning of the word. Perhaps I had better not pursue this subject, since I might become rather rabid!

I can certainly remember the first American combat soldiers whom I had seen in more than three years; they looked almost like men from Mars … not little ones, either! Some of them must not have been so big, but, by contrast they looked like (friendly) giants to us. Only a comparatively few came in (from several directions — they didn’t need gates) at first, but they were prepared to take on any number of Japanese guards. Although our liberators didn’t know but what some guards were still there, I’m sure they were prepared to handle any situation they might have found. The first American soldiers to crash the walls were elements of the First Cavalry or 37th Infantry — or both. Each claimed the distinction, which evidently meant a lot to them, but not to us, since Americans were Americans — regardless; all of them were heroes!

Before long there were plenty of our friends aboard, and we were in good hands. Although there was firing and bombing in different parts of Manila, including plenty of shells whizzing over Bilibid, we didn’t seem to be too frightened; in fact, we probably weren’t frightened enough, and were rather nonchalant about it all. Some of this attitude probably rubbed off from our soldiers, most of whom had fought their way up from the Southern Islands, and had become more or less hardened to the rigors of jungle warfare. No doubt, after all these hardships, which resulted in some defeats as well as victories, our people had now begun to smell ultimate victory, and they weren’t about to let their prize slip out of their grasp. So, they had one primary objective: to “kill Japs”. As excited, exhilarated and probably “wacky” as we were at our being liberated from the yoke of bondage, our comrades in arms seemed to be equally happy that they had had what they apparently considered a privilege: finding us alive. No introductions were needed, and no saluting was indicated we were all Americans involved in a common cause. So, there was plenty of fraternizing (over real coffee) between the duties these young men were expected and required to perform. Their main purpose was not to see that we were secure, and then spend all their time just visiting with us — as pleasant as that might have been for all concerned. These soldiers were members of combat units which had been sent to liberate the city from the enemy, whom they were to rout, or destroy in the process. They did both.

I have indicated how matter of fact many of these soldiers seemed to be about their dangerous mission. Of course, we didn’t know what was going on down deep inside some of these lads, and some of them may have been more sensitive and concerned than was obvious. However, I remember one lad who was having coffee with some of us one day. Suddenly, in the midst of the bull-session, he looked at his watch, gulped the rest of his coffee, and as he picked up his rifle, said, “Excuse me, but it’s time for me to go out and kill a few Japs!” Perhaps he did, but they got him, tob — not long after he had left us. Sherman was surely right when he said, “War is Hell”, and one of the many hellish things about it is that it destroys many of the finest and most promising young men of the countries involved, consequently limiting the leadership of the world for generations to come. Former Prime Minister of Britain, Mr. Harold McMillan, when he was asked to what he attributed his rise to such high office, is reported to have replied that he made it by default, since so much of the best potential leadership material was lost in World War I. This subject warrants much more space than I should try to give it here — even if I were qualified to do justice to it.

I have mentioned that I don’t remember all the exact details of initial events of our liberation; however, there were others that I have remembered quite vividly for the past quarter of a century. One of these is in connection with the mess-tent the soldiers put into commission not long after they arrived. The wonderful thrill of eating Teal American chow again can hardly be imagined by people who have not been hungry continuously for three years. Our combat soldier friends had a hard time understanding why we smacked our lips over spam, while they turned up their noses at even the thought of the stuff. Such things, as is the case with many experiences, are largely relative. Naturally, we could not be .prejudiced against spam, or anything else that came our way from the mess tent. By domestic standards this chow would have been considered quite plain, but it seemed plenty fancy to us. They didn’t spare the horses in feeding us, but most of us tolerated it very well and began to gain weight right away. In cruder terms, we were getting some wrinkles out of our bellies. We had been told, that after three years of starvation, our stomachs would be too shrunken to hold much, and that we would have to resume eating very gradually and cautiously in order to avoid trouble. Generally, however, this was not our experience; there were a few of the younger eager beavers who developed some G.I. runs, I knew of no other ill-effects.

The one specific incident that I remember in connection with the new food occurred a couple of days after our liberation. On this particular occasion I was sauntering (perhaps not accidentally) by the mess tent about mid-morning. I was not exactly looking away from this vital establishment; in fact, I was watching intently (and no doubt droolingly) while the mess sargeant was handling his freshly-baked loaves of bread. Noticing me, he hollered out, “Are you hungry, Chaplain?” It didn’t take me long to answer in the affirmative, so he said, “Nell, come and get it!” I gladly came in and took a beautiful hunk three OT four inches thick, and sat down and devoured this prize which tasted better than any angel food cake I have ever eaten — before or since! During this week we remained in Bilibid many of us must have gained at least ten pounds. Before we began our new diet, however, the average weight of the eight hundred of us in Bilibid was one hundred and thirteen pounds! This included staff, as well as patients; many were under one hundred pounds. I’m sure nobody in the whole place weighed as much as one hundred and fifty pounds. My weight at that time was about one hundred and thirty, which was, typically, about two-thirds of normal weight. On the average we had lost about one-third of our usual weight.

If you are wondering why we stayed in Manila a whole week before being evacuated, the answer in a few words is — it was just too hot!  Now, I’m not giving a weather report; there was a war going on! Shelling and bombing were occurring in the midst of the city, and there we were!
Several people were killed just outside the gates of Bilibid. It’s a good thing that some of us didn’t have any better sense than we displayed, otherwise we would have become more scared than we seemed to be at the time. In spite of the danger involved in leaving the city (in addition to being in it) an even greater potential danger to us was found almost within our prison walls — in the form of a supply of high-powered aviation fuel, which the enemy had put there — perhaps to bum us up with. This hazard, together with getting rid of the stuff, was considered too explosive for us to remain there — until after this booby-trap was removed. So, we were trucked to the outskirts of the city, where we stayed overnight in a deserted shoe factory (no shoes). When we were brought back into Bilibid the next afternoon the lethal material had been removed, and the whole situation was much calmer, thanks to the good Lord, and our armed forces, which were rapidly getting rid of the enemy.

Some of our guards who had left our compound a few hours before our men (not boys) arrived, evidently didn’t get so very far before they waved the white flag and were brought back into Bilibid — in a reverse role. When our military command heard the threats that some of our POWs hurled at these fresh-caught prisoners, they were put in the farthest corner of the compound — with a double guard — just in case! Although we were now thinking primarily of other things, it is a good thing that temptation -was not placed in the path of some of our bitterest people, who had vowed vengeance — if and when there was a chance.

A few days after our liberation (February 5– to be exact) I was able to write my first real letter home in over three years. The Red Cross had made arrangements for forwarding these letters, and also furnished the stationery, which was welcome. Here is the letter — addressed to Rosie:

 “Precious people: This is a great day — when I can write

as a free man — without censorship, except as to information

of a military nature. You no doubt know something of what is

happening out here. For the past few days I have been too excited

to light anywhere, and haven’t been able to express myself

adequately. That seems to apply to writing, as well as

speaking. I am so thrilled and thankful to realize how fortunate

I am in being able to see you soon — by Rosie’s birthday (March 22),

 I hope, Of course, that depends on how we are handled …

and that remains to be seen. We saw a Red Cross representative

for the first time today, and he brought me

your letter of December 15th, as well as one from Allie
(my sister) of November 12. It was so good to hear from

home, since I had not received any mail for some time.
It’s great to hear such good reports from my big, old

boys, and to know that you are carrying on so beautifully …

as you would. I am already as proud of you as I can be,

but I know I’ll be even prouder when I see you.

Glad to hear that Mother and all are O. K. Give them my

love – until that great day when we can be reunited.

Well, I have about used up ary space for this time. I’ll

try to do better the next chance I get to write. I have

so much that I can only say—and say to you–only.
Lovingly, Earl.”

Among the things that I did forget was being included in a group picture with several members of our hospital staff, which had to have been taken during the first few days after the Yanks and tanks arrived. I do remember several correspondents and a photographer or two, but I didn’t remember this picture having been taken until a copy was sent to me several months after getting home. I have had a little fun asking several different people (including some relatives) to identify me. Most of them haven’t been able to do it very readily; of course, most of us change some in three or four years!

A rather unique incident, involving quite an unusual handshake (for me) was an occasion I have remembered. Several days after our liberation a visit to Bilibid by a very famous soldier was rumored. Sure enough General McArthur, who had some old Army buddies among us, spent a couple of hours in Bilibid. As I was sauntering along during this period, I found myself approaching a group of our people and noticed a familiar looking figure (including cap, but minus pipe) in their midst. As I slowed my pace the General noticed the cross on my collar, and as he stepped over to shake my hand (not giving me a chance to salute), said: “How are you, Chaplain?” As I “allowed” him to shake my hand, I replied something to the effect that I was feeling fine now — since his “return”, and that I was certainly glad to see him! I didn’t try to enter into any further conversation; I thought it best to quit while I was ahead. After all, a junior chaplain doesn’t have such a famous general reach out and shake his hand every day! I think I walked away from this gathering more briskly than I had approached it. I have continued to be glad that I “just happened” along at this particular time!



The heading of this chapter does not mean that we were flown, or even shipped directly back to the States when the fighting died down in Manila —, after our last week of waiting there under our liberators and ‘ protectors. Although some of the “fly boys” (then the Army Air Corps) and others were rushed home sooner, it was two months after our liberation before some of us reached home. Naturally we griped to high heaven about those _____  _____ fly boys being the “fair-haired ones who were
always on the gravy train”. However, as time went on — in spite of being so anxious to get home — we realized that we had really been done a favor. The opportunity to gain weight, to rest, and to regain a healthy perspective was really a godsend. Because of this period I’m sure we were much more presentable at home than we would have been earlier.

This (February 10, 1945) was my last time to leave old Bilibid, and I have never been there since. I had been through those gates a dozen times coming and going … in addition to those trips to the cemetery in the “horse manure collection” hearse. While I don’t have any longing for the place, it was really my best “tour of duty” out there. My having been assigned there for the last few months perhaps was the means of my life having been spared. But there were only tears of joy as several hundred of us were trucked (in U.S. Army vehicles) away from those walls. Although we were not taken on a sightseeing tour .through the city, we could see that much of the place was a shambles. It is so easy to tear down, but so hard to build-up! This applies not only to war, but also to so-called periods of peace when there are individuals and groups (some of them undoubtedly organized) bent on destruction, and with nothing constructive with which to replace what they have so quickly destroyed.

This leg of our journey home (what a beautiful word!) took us to the north coast of Luzon to Linguyan Bay, where we stayed at an Army rest camp for about a week. It was there that we received further rehabilitation in the form of rest, plenty of good food, and some Army fatigue clothes. It wasn’t too hard for us Navy people to swallow our pride on this occasion; any old port in a storm, you know! After all, we were all Americans together. This was where groups were organized–to be sent home by various routes.

About one hundred and twenty-five of us Naval personnel were kept together, and after our week ashore, were put aboard a Navy supply ship tied up at a nearby dock. She even supplied food for other ships! We couldn’t have chosen a better source of food — we had hit the jack-pot! Our first meal aboard was at noon. In the Navy we have dinner at noon and supper at night. Well, at dinner we had enough, but we could have eaten more. During the afternoon it was learned that the chow crew had not really realized who we were, and apparently decided to make up for this lack of information; so, at supper it was a different story. As the steward’s mates served us they went out of their way to say, “You know, at dinnah tahm we didn’t know you all was prisnahs uh wah; othahwahse you all could a had secons, thuds — or even foths. So you jes’ take all you want, and we’ll come back with mo.” That’s the way we were treated the rest of the several days aboard this “beautiful” ship. Further rehabilitation aboard consisted of such things as movies, being informed of what had been happening in the outside world during the last three years, etc. Also we had access to the ship’s service (now Navy Exchange) store, and also small stores. Between these two facilities we were able to buy all the toilet gear we needed, or could possibly use, plus some items of clothing, towels, etc. I was even able to get a pair of black (regulation) shoes big enough for me here!

While we were still aboard our supply ship (before we shoved off from Linguyan Bya), it was possible to get another letter off — so, I wrote the following to Rosie on February 18: “Dear Rosie:  This is the first time I have had a chance to write from aboard ship. The last letters I wrote were from the rest camp where we were for a week — after spending some pretty exciting days in Manila. The way in which some of us have been spared is miraculous. I’ll tell you all about it when I see you, which may be a month yet, since we have to make several stops — as we understand it now. I’ll keep you posted along the way — as far as possible. I am getting very anxious, but, of course, will have to take it as it comes.

Since being freed we have received wonderful treatment and loving care. We are getting plenty to eat — for a change. I ought to be pretty well fattened up by the time’ I see you. I hope I won’t have changed too much. I need and want to talk over so many things with you that writing is quite unsatisfactory. It is wonderful’, though, to be able to write without restrictions — even though I am not where you can write to me. It is just great to know that I am on my way home! Even though we are not making as fast a trip home as we had hoped to, we will be in much better shape when we get there. Don’t be worried if some of the rest of the POWs get back first.

We are with the Navy, and I am the only Navy chaplain (out of four captured in the Philippines) coming back. The reaction to all this is quite a strain, and I probably won’t get back to earth for a while.

The mail goes out soon, and I wanted to take advantage of this opportunity to say that I love you — and that goes’ for all of you. Lovingly, Earl”.

The following telegram was sent about this time (February 19) to Rosie — from Washington:  “The Navy Department is pleased to inform you that official information just received from General McArthur’s headquarters states that your husband, Lt. (j.g.) Earl Ray Brewster, U.S. Naval Reserve, last reported to be a prisoner of war, has been rescued by our forces and returned to military control.  His condition is reported as fair.  Further details will be forwarded promptly when received.

Vice Admiral Randall Jacobs
Chief of Naval Personnel

If you are wondering what our medium of exchange was … it came from the first $500.00 (that nice green stuff) paid to us here against our back pay; our collateral was good! I musn’t  forget to mention that here we enjoyed our first hot showers in three years.

Within a few days after we boarded our first ship we had been taken to Subic Bay (still on Luzon) where we boarded our second vessel, which was quite different from the one we had just left. This transport-type ship was built in America, transferred to Great Britain, and in effect was an English vessel, manned solely by an English crew. Here we were welcomed royally, and received the best possible treatment and food, although-this did not have the advantage of being an American supply ship. There was something added each day — in the form of tea at four in the afternoon. This was really looked forward to, since they apparently added a number of food items for us hungry Americans. Another thing they added for the thirsty American officers (our enlisted men had extra grog) was hours to the regular wardroom bar schedule. This was the first time that our people had had access (legitimately) to anything stouter than beer, which was available at the Linguyan rest camp. As is generally known, liquor is not allowed aboard American Naval ships. This I think is a good rule, although the British figure otherwise. Some of our people, who had been deprived of their liquor for so long made fools of themselves by trying to drink the hospitable and experienced Englishmen under the table. It worked the other way, and some of us were not proud of the conduct of a few of our fellow – Americans’.

A certain rather young (his beard hid his age) English officer is the only one of our British brethren whom I remember. I suppose it is partly because we had something in common in that he said that when the war broke out he was about to “take Holy orders” in the church of England. On learning there was a chaplain aboard he sought me out, and we had some quite pleasant chats. He had one great distinction, which he seemed to prize quite highly,, and loved to demonstrate; this was his ability to drink beer from a stein … with his pipe in one corner of his mouth! This might have been quite a feat, I have never tried it, nor have I seen it tried by anyone else.

Subic Bay, which now is reported to be one of our finest Naval bases in the Far East, must present quite a contrast to what we saw there in February, 1945. There had been heavy fighting in and around this fine natural harbor. We didn’t have to use our imaginations much to realize what had happened there just a very few months previously. The evidence of the bombings and shellings, which had taken place* including the sunken ships — didn’t make for a very pretty sight. It was here that we were transferred from our beloved Supply ship to our English vessel, which after a few days, proceeded south with our one hundred and twenty-five Naval personnel aboard. We were not reluctant to leave the devastation of Subic Bay, and any move toward home was more than welcome.

One additional incident — while we were underway toward Leyte Gulf, might be’ of some interest; it was a unique, once in a lifetime experience for me — as it would have been for any chaplain. My bewhiskered, pipe-smoking former candidate for Holy orders had informed his Skipper that there was an American chaplain aboard. When it had been determined that we would be aboard through Sunday, a request was brought to me from the Captain of the ship (via my friend) to conduct the regular Sunday morning divine service. I sent back an affirmative answer — with thanks._ I was glad that I had acquired a Book of Common Prayer (by legitimate means, I hope), and also that I had a good advisor in the person of my English friend. I was free to conduct the service as I saw fit; the only limitation was that of time, which was doubly important, since, on British vessels the crew is mustered on deck, and stands during the service — usually conducted by the Captain. I was used to short services, but the idea of an American garden variety Methodist preacher conducting a service on one of His Majesty’s ships — that was something else! But, the Lord was with us, and we had what I trust was a helpful service for all hands. I don’t remember my theme, but I do remember this unique experience.

Before reaching Leyte Gulf I wrote the following note to Rosie, on the small V-mail forms — tb be sent out when we reached our next port of call: “Dear Rosie: Since I have a chance to write-again before starting what we hope will be the last lap of our journey home, I thought I would take advantage of it. In spite of the fact that we have been delayed some, I still hope to make it for your birthday. I am well, except for some heat rash, which will clear up in the proper atmosphere.  I’am still gaining weight, so I might be able to wear my uniforms when I get home. If not, I’ll have plenty of dough to get more. I’m sure you’re keeping Dyer (the district chaplain), and others informed.

I don’t know what the dope on communicating with you will be from here on out, but be assured, I’ll keep you informed. I’m having a hard time being patient, but, of course, we have to take one step at a time. Give the boys a slap on the back — from their Pop. Lovingly, Earl.”

We had been aboard the English ship almost a week when we anchored in Leyte Gulf, where we said goodbye to our British brethren. Here in this huge Gulf there were still a number of our ships. Subsequently, we were put aboard the Army transport, USS Puebla, for the last long leg of our journey home. During the several days we were in Leyte Gulf there is one particular incident which stands out in my mind. After we had boarded the Army transport I got a message from a Supply officer with whom I had served aboard the Holland, and now was aboard another ship a few hundred yards away. Somehow this former shipmate learned that I was in the vicinity, and invited me to come over to his ship for supper that evening. I answered in the affirmative, and went over at the appointed time in a small boat from my friend’s ship. We had a nice dinner and visit in the ship’s wardroom, after which we went out on deck and enjoyed a movie, plus a little more visiting. By this time it was no longer early, and when one of the ship’s boats brought me back to the transport, the gang plank had already been hoisted up. The only way to get back aboard was by means of a jacob’s ladder, which was hanging over the side. This device is a narrow rope ladder, probably eighteen inches wide, with rungs a foot or SO apart.. I never was too good a climber, but in spite of the fact that I was not back to my normal strength, I had no choice. Perhaps this incident wouldn’t be worth telling except for another item that went into the picture. My friend had given me, a gift of a box of cigars which I didn’t want to throw away; after three years of deprivation we were very reluctant to throw anything away, and to this day it hurts me to see food wasted. I’m afraid we Americans are not blameless here. Well, here I was — with that box of cigars instinctively tucked up under my left arm, climbing that jacob’s ladder at midnight: I must have been quite a sight, but I made it! It was quite serious business then, even though it is one of those rather inexplicable, amusing, and even ridiculous things, the like of which most of us are involved in at times.

Now I was back aboard our last ship, which was to be our home for the next twenty-five days. After three or four more days sitting there in this huge gulf, where heavy fighting had occurred, it was westward, hoi We had been surprised by the number of our ships still to be seen in the area, and could hardly believe our eyes when we saw some of the new “contraptions”, such as the ducks and other amphibious craft. I didn’t hesitate to remind (good naturedly, of course) some of ray regular Navy friends that this bore out my contention that maybe ships could be built a lot faster than had been the case. They were good sports, and were glad to acknowledge that perhaps I had something there. We could see that our fellow Americans had really been busy, and had bent every effort to win’this war as soon as possible.

This Army transport was a conglomerate — the personnel aboard represented about all branches of the service, plus the merchant marine and civilians. A really mixed group! An Army chaplain was assigned to the ship, and I spent some time with him, helping with divine services the three Sundays we were aboard. Here we heard all the latest news — some of it not fit to print, and some of it bum scuttlebutt! One of the things we heard, which we could hardly believe, was that now there were women in the service — even in the Navy, of all things! To hear some of our old salts take off on the ______  ______“petticoat Navy” was really something! This was not only not fit to print, but was not repeatable. From the way some of these old boys talked you might have thought the Navy was sunk, and that they would have to come back and straighten things out. Things had really gotten out of hand in our absence!

Before we left Leyte Gulf I wrote the following letter (dated March 6) to Rosie: “This is the second ship we have been aboard since I last wrote you and we are hoping it will be the last, although we are expecting a couple of stops along the way. We won’t make it by your birthday, and maybe not even by Easter — but maybe ten days or so after your birthday. It is pretty tedious: being so near and yet so far, but I’m trying to be patient. Certainly we shouldn’t kick now — after all this time.

We’re not supposed to know where we’re going to land, but I think I can give you a hint or two. I don’t know how long I’ll have to stay at our port of debarkation. I’ll stay no longer than I have to, but if we’re there any length of time at all I want you there; I’ll phone as soon as possible.
I wonder if you could send me some clothes — so that I’ll have something besides khakis to wear home. I won’t need shoes, but would like to have both suits of blues, shirts and cap. (I had thrown my old, beaten-up cap away). You could send them to McPheeter’s church, together with a note to him, and I could pick them up there. Maybe you could send them in a suitcase. Sorry to bother you so much, but this looks like the practical thing to try to do. This seems to be .as far as I can go at the present time. I am feeling fine — hope to look quite normal when you see me. Love, Earl.”

Perhaps a couple of items in this letter need a little explanation. First, after the Holland determined that I would not be back aboard, everything in my stateroom was meticulously inventoried, crated and shipped to our home in Coronado. The shipment was from Melbourne, Australia, and reached home in the spring of 1943. This was the source from which Rosie was to get my uniforms. Second, at the time of the above letter I knew we would be landing in San Francisco. McPheeters was (and is) Dr. J. C. McPheeters, who was pastor of Glide Memorial church in downtown San Francisco. As will be indicated later, this proved to be a good point of contact, and no military secrets were revealed! At least, the letter passed our military censorship, for which I was thankful.

Aboard the USS Puebla they continued to feed us real good (I know I should say “well”), and we continued to gain weight (the ice cream and other dairy products were so good) and to become conditioned to the ways of normal living. While this type of ship, which was outfitted to carry large numbers of troops, could not offer us private accommodations, we did have comfortable bunks, hot water shower facilities, and freedom of the ship. The only regimentation we had to undergo was in the form of periodic general quarters drills, when we donned our life-jackets, and received instructions as to what to do — just in case of any enemy sub attack — or something. We did travel in convoy, and took an out of the way course, zig-zagging our way back home. We could not help but think of how ironical it would have been had some disaster befallen us after the experiences of the last three years. But, with the anticipation of returning home, I doubt that many of us lost much sleep thinking about such things. I spent considerable time lying in my bunk — just resting, napping and reading. I remember one of the books I read was “A Bell for Adano”, a paper-back, which I enjoyed.

I mentioned helping with divine services aboard; I even preached on one of the Sundays. I don’t remember my theme; I suppose it varied from some I had been using, but I trust that it was the same basic gospel, and that it was not inappropriate for that occasion. The ship’s chaplain seemed to be quite an unsettled fellow, but, after all, war does unsettle a lot of people — and things. So, the days passed, if slowly, until we reached our one stop before San Francisco, which was at Biak — an island, which I had never heard of, in the South Pacific. Here foT two or three days (while the ship took on water, fuel, etc.) we were able to get off the ship for short periods and stretch our legs on the docks; there was nowhere else to gb, and we were not interested in going any place but home!

Perhaps I should not fail to mention that there was quite a group of Army nurses left here at Biak, and were housed not far from the docks. Maybe this was one reason why our people had instructions not to wander away from the dock area! Another potential hazard lay in the possibility that there were unexploded land mines, and even snipers in the area. I doubt if very many of us felt adventuresome enough to stretch our luck unnecessarily at this point. About the most potentially dangerous thing some of us did here was to collect some more pay — which might have been the means of getting soAe of our people in trouble — in the wicked city of San Francisco, or elsewhere.

Another possible hazard for some, and maybe a bonanza for a few, lay in the fact that some “drawing lessons” would be giving and received aboard in the form of draw poker. Even though such things were not supposed to be allowed aboard Navy ships, evidently not too much attention was paid to such activity aboard this Army transport. Perhaps the unusual circumstances had something to do with this lack of vigilance. At any rate, the two thousand air corps (fly boys) who came aboard at Biak were really loaded with back pay, and it was a “natural”. I didn’t know much about what was going on … directly, but indirectly I heard that a considerable amount of the coin of .the realm was changing hands each night.

Perhaps this activity would not have come to my attention had I not been an acquaintance of one of the principal participants. This character was an old salt whom I had first known at Cabanatuan. Evidently, he became the “teacher” in this drawing class, since a couple of mutual friends told me that he undoubtedly pocketed at least five thousand dollars from these sessions duTing the couple of weeks while we were underway from Biak to the Golden Gate. These friends no doubt echoed our poker player’s rationalization when they explained that he didn’t hurt any of these fly boys, since his victims were numerous, which resulted in only comparatively small amounts from each. Besides, if he hadn’t taken it, no doubt most of it would have been squandered in San Francisco and way places — to the detriment, or even downfall, of these lads of such tender years! The only contact that I had
with the teacher during this period was when we met daily on deck, which seemed to happen with too much regularity to be purely accidental on his part. Gamblers are notoriously superstitious, you know, and he may have * felt that it was important to contact the chaplain each day. This did not seem to be for the purpose of confessing, nor did the professor engage in bragging, in fact, he would just pass the time of day — until or unless I asked him how he was doing fHe knew that I knew “what” he was doing), and then he would never say more than “just fair”. I hope that none of these fly boys suffered too much financially, and that our friend’s winnings did not mean his ruination. He could have given the proceeds to sweet charity.’

The only other major happening during this zig-zag cruise of a couple of weeks had to do with the weather. I have mentioned that our schedule called for reaching San Francisco by April first, which would have been Easter Sunday. However, after about ten days out from Biak we ,encountered one of those “peaceful” Pacific storms, which changed our plans. The result was that we were delayed a couple of days. Man is sometimes reminded that he, with all his technology, cannot always do everything that he proposes. As I am writing this our courageous astronauts have just landed on the moon, but also, about the same time, hurricane Camille hit a part of our southern coast with unprecedented force, causing untold damage; man, in spite of all his accomplishments, was helpless to prevent this devastation to life and property.

The Golden Gate Bridge - Illustration by Rosella Mae Brewster



How often we had thought of and talked about entering that golden gate! “Open wide that golden gate, California, here I come”. It was worth being delayed a couple of day» by the storm, which caused us to sail under the majestic bridge — the gateway to home — at 0600 on April 3, 1945. How beautiful it looked! Even though we could scarcely see those graceful spans through the fog, we could feel its outstretched arms, and the enfolding embrace of its warm welcome for some of its wayward sons. This feeling was accentuated when, after certain formalities (mostly red tape) aboard, we had the privilege of setting foot on our own soil for the first time in several years. It was more than three and one- half years since I had left home. I guess some of our people actually did lie down on their bellies and kissed the pavement — to carry out the threat they had made to do just that.

Immediately after we left the Old Puebla we were loaded into waiting buses (they probably didn’t want us to get scattered), which took us to a military receiving station and hospital on the south side of the city. Until we were logged-in there, and their processing began, I hardly knew whom we belonged to; we were almost orphans until we were attached (loosely) to this new, temporary command. After we had been at this big, bustling place only a couple of hours we were given the opportunity to go over to Treasure Island to buy uniforms and other items we needed. As we took these bus rides those seven hills looked like a seventh heaven, and the bridges seemed like beautiful rainbows, at the end of which was the pot of gold we had waited for, and finally had reached.

Before we went to Treasure Island, however, I managed to slip in a phone call to Rosie — the first time I had used a phone in more than three years, and, more importantly, the first time I had heard Rosie’s voice in more than three and one-half years. An indescribable thrill!
She aimed (in spite of hell and high water) to get up there within the next day or two, and “McPheeters church” would be our communications center. Also, Razzie Truitt was now 12th Naval District chaplain — with his office right down town. So, we had a good communications set-up.

To get back to our Treasure Island deal, they were ready and waiting for us with salespeople and tailors, and of course we were loaded! They did the altering of these uniforms within a couple of hours — while we were shopping for other things. Although Rosie had sent one blue uniform,
I bought a new one, since I knew my pre-war ones would be too big. I still weighed at least thirty pounds less than I had before the war. I had not yet had a chance to get down to McPheeters “shop” to pick up the things Rosie had sent, but the next day I did manage to get away from the receiving station, and took a trip downtown. Of course, I alerted Dr. McPheeter’s office and Razzie as to the imminent arrival of Rosie, who had not been able to give us a definite E.T.A. as yet. But, in her own way, through adventurous faith, involving a series of unbelievable events (to those who think only in terms of mere coincidences), Rosie miraculously made it in record time. It is unnecessary to go into detail here with this very personal and (we think) rather romantic story. Suffice it to say, that it was in line with our motto that says, “Anything that ought to be done can be done” … with God’s help.

When my friend McPheeters learned that Rosie was going to join me, and that we were going to be in San Francisco over the following Sunday, he immediately went to work on me to get me to speak (which meant preach) at Glide Memorial that Sunday evening. I was not too enthusiastic about the idea, since I didn’t really know just what kind of shape I was in; also, I was enjoying my freedom so much that I just wanted to continue being as free as a bird. But the invitation became more interesting, when, after I had hesitated, Dr. McPheeters added — in his deep, sonorous voice: “Well, Brother Brewster, since Mrs. Brewster is going to join you here, and you want to stay in the city at least a few days, I can arrange to have you both stayas our guests for a week or more at the Hotel Californian”. This hotel just north of the church was owned by the Glide Foundation, of which the pastor of the church was an ex-officio meeker. So, since accommodations were scarce I gave him an affirmative answer. So, we were assigned one of the best rooms in the hotel — without the five day limit, which was in effect at that time. Rosie’s only thought was that she ‘didn’t want me to become too involved too soon — wisely realizing that what I needed was plenty of good normal living, including a lot of relaxation.

The next day I went into town again. It had been determined that I need not stick around the receiving station, and could stay in the city as long as I would be staying in the area. So I stayed at the receiving station just two nights, and could have gone to San Diego then, but as long as I was in San Francisco I was just required to let them know where I could be readied. As soon as I got to the Glide office this second time, the word (which had just been received from Rosie) was that she would land at the airport that afternoon. I didn’t lose much time alerting Razzie Truitt’s office, since he wanted to know as soon as I got the word. My good friend arranged to, have an official car and driver to take the two of us out to meet Rosie at the appointed time — and we were not late for this appointment!

I think I have never had more anxious moments than those spent in waiting for that plane to show up and land. When it finally did land and Rosie alighted, I must have been in an 8th heaven. She looked more glamorous than any movie star possibly could have. I still say that I think Razzie, who seemed almost as excited as I, grabbed her and kissed her first, but I did a better job than he did! On the way downtown Razzie sat up front with the driver, and let us two lovebirds sit in back holding hands, and trying to think of what to say or ask about next. After all, we had only been, married eighteen and one-half years — and the last three and a half had been an absentee arrangement — arranged by others. We were driven to our hotel, where we spent eight days, and no money, not even for meals eaten at the hotel. I must say, in self defense, however, that we did eat many of our meals away from the Californian.

Perhaps we should have felt guilty because of spending this time away from the boys and the rest of the family; but we didn’t, since we felt that we needed this time alone at this particular juncture. Our sons (Leland sixteen and Leonard, eight) were in good hands, and Leland, at least, was mature enough to understand our feelings. We did see several of our friends, who came to see us at the hotel during that week, which was all too short. We were glad to see these friends, some of whom came from quite a distance, over in the Sacramento valley, where we had served two churches back in the thirties.

There was one visitor who came to the hotel the next day after we arrived, whom I wasn’t so glad to see, and I probably wasn’t very nice to him. I offer a belated apology — wherever he is. I have reference to a young, smart-alec reporter from one of the papers, who apparently thought that a “naive, emotionally upset chaplain” would answer all his dumb questions just the way he wanted them answered, and that he could come away with a dramatic scoop for his paper. Perhaps I had lost some of my mar- bles, but I guess I hadn’t lost all of them, since Rosie said that I wasn’t as “wacky” as I might have been. At any rate, I simply didn’t like the way this young guy operated, and didn’t tell him much. I may have told him that if he wanted to hear more he could come to the church on Sunday evening. I doubt that he was present, however. Ex POWs of any kind were a curiosity, since Americans had scarcely had this experience before. Any chaplain would probably have been even more of an exhibit “A” — especially if he were the first and only Navy chaplain to be coming back from the Philip- pines. This may have seemed somewhat dramatic to some people, (I hope it did to Rosie) but 1 was satisfied with the story that the Navy Public Relations office put in the papers. |

Even though my young reporter “friend” probably did not attend Glide Memorial church that Sunday night, a lot of other people did. Dr. McPheeters, evidently circulated the word pretty widely, since there were friends and acquaintances from as far away as two hundred miles in this capacity congregation. Of course the war was still on, and anything of this kind was very current, and perhaps timely, although gasoline was pretty hard to come by.

I don’t know whether or not the Glide Foundation felt repaid for the hundred dollars worth of hospitality they had invested in us, but Dr. McPheeters and Razzie were quite complimentary, and a number of others said they were repaid for coming — some of them must have had a hard time securing the gasoline for the trip at that time of rationing. In the half hour at my disposal (I may have taken a little more) it would have been impossible for me to begin to tell all that had happened during those three years. So I hit some of the high spots (and some of the valleys, too) and told the congregation that “there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother”, who stuck by me in all these situations — including the deepest depressions. This text (supplemented by others) became the theme of most of my sermons and talks during subsequent days. Of course I aimed to direct my fire with the particular situation in mind. If I could have found a better text and/or theme I would have done so.

The only other speaking engagement, during this interim in San Francisco was at an informal gathering during the week at Epworth University Church in Berkeley. This was where we had spent the third year of our ministry (1932-33) working with University students. Although none of these young people (softie already thirty-five) was still in the group,, we were among friends and mutual friends of days gone by. I hope it was a worthwhile occasion for those present for those present — as it was for us. Rosie was not anxious for me to take on too much activity, and in her wisdom, due to her concern, finally convinced me that I was really a convalescent.

I was in a patient-in-transit status, and had to go out to the receiving station a time or two (for paper work) during that wonderful week. When I let them know that I would like to leave for San Diego on April 12 (Leland’s sixteenth birthday) I was issued orders to report to San Diego Naval hospital on or about 15 April — for further tests and treatment.

So, on the morning of April 12 we boarded the Daylight Limited — leaving the hills of our shangri-la in the mists of the morning. We left with mixed feelings — but not with sadness, for now we were going home {that beautiful word) to our sons and parents, and the rest of our family and friends. My brother Houston, the market owner who had furnished the food , for that wonderful package, had notified us that he and his wife, Dixie, would meet the train that evening in Los Angeles; and drive us to Long Beach, where bur boys and other loved ones would be waiting.

Our train trip was enjoyable but uneventful until we reached Santa Barbara about four o’clock. Before the train had pulled out, the brake- man tapped me on the shoulder (I was in uniform, of course) and relayed to me the message they had just received: “President Roosevelt has just
died”. Immediately the car began to buzz with all of us wondering (out loud) what would happen now — with our war-time Commander in Chief out of the picture^ at the very climax of this global war. Apparently Mr. Truman was not only not well known, but, as it turned out, he had not been briefed on the details of our procedures, But, that is another story.

We were met by Houston and Dixie, who had done a lot of nice things for Rosie and the boys while I was away. The four of us “just had” to have dinner at the Union Station, so when we got to Long Beach it really was an expectant, excited and perhaps curious group which met us on the front lawn of my sister Allie’s home. Poor little Leonard was almost lost among the grown folks, but it didn’t take us long to find each other; this was the case with Lelanjl, my mother, Mother and Dad Traver — and all the rest. I suppose, for some, it was as if one were returning from the dead, which wasn’t far wrong. We weren’t able to stay in Long Beach longer than overnight, since I was expected to check in at the San Diego Naval hospital within a couple of days, and I was anxious to at least see old 919 “C” Avenue in Coronado before going to the hospital — probably to stay awhile. Rosie had driven to the old Pontiac to Long Beach on her way north, so on April, 13 the four of us piled into the trusty buggy (I was a passenger) and headed south on old familiar 101. The sea was never bluer, the spray and foam of the waves never more refreshing than now — with our family intact, … joyously heading for home!

 Dog Named Brownie - Illustration by Rosella Brewster



The San Diego area had really become home to us, since it was here that I was fresh-caught, and Coronado had proved to be almost an ideal place for Rosie and the boys, since they were among friends, and in a good environment. I think I have mentioned that I had left Leland still almost singing soprano, and found him singing bass in the choir. He had not only not given his mother cause for concern during these adolescent years’, but had been a big help in the home — in many ways. Leonard, who was now eight and a half, had become quite a lad, too, and had not caused his mother much concern — except for a little dilly-dallying here and there — now and then. I was as proud as a husband and father possibly could have been of these three companeros, who played the game one-hundred percent — plus — having been with me all the way.

So, when we descended the hill toward that silver gate it was a real homecoming indeed. Then I could really sing “There’s no place like home”, and “God Bless America, my home sweet home!” There was the experience of crossing the bay to Coronado by ferry again, and viewing some of the developments which had taken place, and the realization of how much this area had contributed to the huge and almost miraculous war effort. Incidentally, those ferries will give way to a beautiful new bridge just a couple of days from the time I am writing this. This is causing much nostalgia, but as we crossed on that ferry, any nostalgia we might have had was overshadowed by the joy and exhilaration of going home together! That big palm tree in front of our house had become bigger and more beautiful than ever, and stood as a welcoming beacon to that beckoning threshold and warm hearth, which I had not seen for three and a half years. This was the moment I had longed and prayed for during those anxious hours, months and years, which would have been mere existence had it not been for that Friend that sticketh closer than a brother, and the love represented by home, including not only family, but church, country, and understanding friends — including Brownie.

Our family had indeed increased while I was away, and Brownie had become the fifth member of it. Before anybody gets excited, I must tell you that Brownie was a dog, but he never did — in all his fifteen years — find it out, even though he was a registered cocker spaniel. Leland bought him during the war — when he was just a pup, and this little liver-brown character never did get very big; in fact, his adult weight was only about twenty pounds, while their show weight is about four pounds more than that. But that suited Brownie (and us) just fine, since our “exceptional” canine didn’t care to associate with other four-legged critters; he just wanted to be with his “own” family. In fact, that’s why he was added to the family in the first place. He was about a year and a half old when I got back, so he was a full-fledged member of the clan by then — and governed himself accordingly. Evidently he had been told about the “other” family member — the one with the prison record — but was persuaded to give the old boy (who might not be so bad, after all) a chance, and to make a special effort to accept him — graciously, if possible. So, to make a long (unnecessary) story short, Brownie did accept me quite readily, and we became real good buddies for about thirteen and a half years.’ Naturally, this took some psychology on my part — I went out of my way to take him for walks and rides, which he loved, /and we developed a good mutual understanding.

Perhaps it will be in order now for me to talk about Rosie and the boys. It didn’t take me long to find out, and it didn’t surprise me, that Rosie had not only borne her own burden during these troubled years, but had carried out the Scriptural admonition to help bear the burdens of others — some of whom had a much lighter burden to bear. How proud it made me feel when person after person went out of their way to tell me how she kept on smiling; there were some bad moments and tears at times, of course. Naturally, to hear these comments made me even prouder than before, although already I was- about as proud as a man could be of his life-long partner, and the mother of his sons. Adding to my pride was the knowledge that she had become (with no previous training) proficient enough as a medical office assistant and receptionist to release a registered nurse from this job in a local medical clinic……………..to serve in the armed forces. Among other things, she took special training in lab work, and was able to give shots, etc. It had been understood, however, that this important activity would cease when her special, private patient appeared on the scene. She figured that the care of this patient would require all her time — for a while — and it did!

Leland had worked at a local flower shop, a drug store, and had set pins (no machines) at the local bowling alley — to help with family finances, in addition to his school work, and extra-curricular activities, which included playing the heavy tuba in the school band, and singing bass in the church choir. So, if he had wanted to hang around an alley pool-hall (I don’t think there was one in Coronado) he wouldn’t have had much chance. He deserved, and got a “well done” from his Dad, whose place he filled so well. His mother says a hearty “amen” to that, although she isn’t the shouting type! Before leaving the subject of our number one son, perhaps a pleasant surprise to us not long after getting home might be of interest. The music department of Coronado High’ School was scheduled to present its annual concert, and as parents of one of the band members we were among the guests with choice seats. Leland appeared not only as a member of the band and chorus, but also as a surprise soloist — playing his tuba.’ I think it is the only tuba solo I’ve ever heard, but if there had been others — this one would have been the best. We were not only surprised, but pleased, and mighty proud — as we have been ever since.

As far as eight and one-half year old Leonard was concerned, his teacher had told his mother that he had become quite a different boy at school since learning that his Pop had been released and was returning home. His teacher had told Rosie (who already knew) how Leonard would sit and dream — and perhaps brood — after I was reported missing — until my release. The thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts, which can become dreams — and sometimes veritable nightmares. Leonard and I had had a pretty good understanding, I think, during those pre-school years, as I believe had, also been the case with his older brother, and the shock of his Dad’s being a POW must have produced quite a trauma in this sensitive young son. Although this contributed to his getting a rather poor start in school, Leonard has long since regained his lost ground, and, as I write, is about to receive his PhD in Philosophy/ and will be a member of the faculty in that department at Southern Illinois University during the ensuing year. We are proud of our number two son, too.

After arriving home it didn’t take me long to carry out my threat (one of many) to get Leonard that bike I wanted him to have. So, we went over to the bicycle shop together, and picked out a nice red and white job about his size, and then we had the added fun (and work) of teaching him to ride this two-wheeled vehicle. In the process I think I probably got more exercise than Len did — but it was fun. To be able to resume family activities again was an indescribable thrill.

It didn’t take me long, either, to get some of the things for Rosie that I had been wanting to get her for some time. However, the thing that meant’the most to us was the opportunity just to be together again. If you should wonder how I was able to get around like this when I was .supposed to be a patient at the Naval Hospital over in San Diego well, I can explain everything; you gee, it was like this: I did-report to the hospital on 15 April, and was even assigned a bed in S.O.Q. (sick officers quarters), but since I didn’t seem to be very sick I was almost immediately allowed to subsist at home. They didn’t seem to know just what to do with me, since they hadn’t had POW patients before — so, I guess they played it by ear. Naturally, I wanted to help them all I could, so, realizing the crowded • condition of this huge hospital, which had had to use buildings in adjoining Balboa Park, I began on the first afternoon, to work on my ward medical officer — to persuade him to let me go subsist at home — just across the bay. At first he sounded one hundred percent against it, saying that such a thing was unheard of — that a new patient had to stay aboard at’least a couple of nights before such an arrangement could be considered — and that was that! However, I had been away from home too long to take that -as a final word — unless I had to. So, when the doctor came by later in the afternoon — after preliminary routine tests had evidently indicated that I would not endanger myself or others by subsisting at home — I spoke to him again.» Now I had sized him up enough to figure that his back was worse than his bite (which is the case with many of us), and that I could use a little different approach with him. So, among other things, I told him that I understood they were terribly crowded, and that I didn’t want to be selfish and occupy a bed that somebody else might need worse, etc. Finally, this doctor, who knew he was being conned, looked at me with a knowing grin, and said, “Aw, O.K. Chaplain, get the hell out of here, and go on home where you belong!”

So, I didn’t spend a single night in the hospital during the next eight months that I was listed as a patient there. This was not supposed to mean that I was free to roam at will, although, in effect, it almost amounted to that. There were probably two reasons for this. First, as I have mention ed, a POW was something of a curiosity, since they had not had any such patients previously, and were not acquainted with the procedure. Second, after essential examinations and tests were completed, the consensus must have been that the best therapy for me was normal living, including plenty of good food, relaxation and sunshine. Considerable time was spent at the
hospital especially during the first couple of months, in meeting appointments, including a number of sessions at dental service — mostly for prosthetic work. I had had virtually, no dental care for three years, and . there was plenty to be done. As far as my general physical condition was concerned, it was surprisingly good — everything considered. I have mentioned that evidently I was immune to malaria, for which I was thankful. While all of us had experienced some G.I. runs at times, evidently I didn’t, really have dysentery, since no such bugs were found during these post-imprisonment tests — nor since.

I mentioned earlier that Rosie and I wrote quite a number of letters to the next of kin of people I had known — most of whom were not to return. In connection with, and between my hospital appointments I dictated some letters (perhaps as many as a hundred) to Red Cross stenographers attached to that office at the hospital. Between appointments and on weekends, as well as evenings, there was time to be spent with Rosie and the boys and our parents in Long Beach, as well as other relatives and friends. It was during this period, also, that I accepted (without too much enthusiasm on Rosie’s part) several invitations to preach and give talks. The churches were the three that I had served during the thirties and several served by minister friends of mine in Southern California. Talks were given at a couple of schools and service clubs.

An “excursion” that I was privileged to take not long after returning might be of some interest to others — as it was to me. I have mentioned my brother Houston’s owning a food market in Pomona, California. While we were visiting there in June my brother asked me if I would like to go with him to a nearby POW camp where a number of German prisoners were interned. He needed to go out there in connection with some foodstuffs (including plenty of meat) he had sold the camp, and naturally I was glad to be able to see what the place looked like. This neat looking, well-manicured camp was established among orange groves (not so many had yet given way to subdivisions), and as we approached the entrance it was not difficult to see the sharp contrast between this and what I had left only a few months earlier. I suppose, among my mixed feelings, at first-there might have been an element of resentment in my reaction to this scene. But, as I noticed (during something of a tour of the place) the we11-kept grounds, the neat buildings, inside and out, the well-fed and clothed young Germans, who were being treated like human beings — then I was glad that my country had a different conception of how victims of war should be treated than the other country with which I had had experience. I was never more proud of my own country, and never so thankful for my heritage. And I was glad that any earlier resentment and even hatred had at least been softened — to make room for gratitude to God and pride in being an American.

Here were these German lads (most of them comparatively young), whose families were not sharing the. anguish our families had experienced. These German families had been notified that their loved ones, had become honorable POWs, and knew that their men were being treated accordingly. These men would not die as a result of having fallen into’ enemy hands, and would be returned home in good shape — to live out their normal lives, and make, we hope, a constructive contribution toward the welfare and peace of the world.

Although Rosie was thinking primarily of my health, I felt almost compelled to return to my former pastorates, a number of members of which had kept in touch with Rosie, and had written to me in the Philippines. I didn’t have to accept these invitations, and those of other fellow-ministers, and 1 suppose my ego was involved, but I did feel that the Lord had given me an important message — about the Friend that had stuck with me — through thick and thin — even closer than a brother. Most of these speaking engagements did not involve too much travel time or expense. The latter item, without any previous understanding, always was more than provided for; this applied also to the fifteen hundred mile round-trip to my two former churches.

This ten day trip, which included some visiting and sightseeing along the way — going and coming,– was scheduled for right after the end of the school term in Coronado — so that our whole family could make this safari together. On this tour we found the church filled (on a week night) at Galt, which was my first appointment fifteen years previously. At Willows, a hundred miles farther up the Sacramento Valley, where we served from 1933 to 1938, the church was not only filled on Sunday morning, but Memorial Hall in this county seat of three thousand people, was about filled to its capacity of nearly a thousand. Hie community gathering had been arranged by a representative committee, and was given considerable publicity by the Willows Journal, which had published several pieces about a former local pastor having become a POW. In this audience were Protestants, Catholics, and Jewish friends, as well as those without a particular church affiliation; a truly ecumenical and mixed group! But, regardless of background, I told them all essentially the same story — about how I was never really alone — even during the darkest, loneliest days out there, because of the Friend that sticketh closer than a brother.

At Santa Paula, which we had previously visited on a weekend, our former church was filled on Sunday morning, while I had the privilege of speaking at the High School assembly on Monday morning, and a meeting of the combined service clubs of the city that noon. I realize that while because of previous service in most of these places, there was a natural added interest in my return (in the midst of the war) this was a part of the tragic current drama. At Willows we visited with church-member parents of a young Army Lieutenant, who .had been killed on an European battle field. “Toby” had been in our Sunday school — an overgrown, good natured redhead, only a few years older than Leland, with whom he used to play with his trains down on all-fours. These grief-stricken parents, who had aged twenty years in a third as many, knew the tragic drama of war, about which there’s nothing glamorous! In Santa Paula, before I preached on Sunday morning, I had three visitors: They were the father and brothers of my amigo, who had “cobbled” shoes under the hospital at Dapecol. I was not able to tell these fine Americans of Mexican descent whether or not their son and brother was safe, but 1 did offer them all the hope I could, since I remembered that he was on a draft to Japan, which was sent north on a ship which sailed earlier than the last two. In talking with these three anxious men I let them know of our friendship out there, and that they could be justly proud of this lad. It turned out that he was released in August (at war’s end) and returned home to his rejoicing family and friends. I hope he is enjoying life — maybe even with a grandchild or two.

In addition to letters to next of kin I visited (in their homes and ours) anxious wives and mothers, most of whose husbands and sons did not return. We couldn’t know for sure however, until war’s end, so I offered them all the hope I could. We met several times with an organized group of .the next of kin of POWs in San Diego. It was also my sad and difficult privi lege to conduct a Memorial service for those who did not return.

I suppose I used my imagination, and I can truthfully say that I know of no reason to have had any guilt feelings, but from time to time I did ask myself if perhaps some of these people wondered how and why the chaplain got back, while their loved ones did not. It was a rather haunting question, coupled with the one I have asked myself many times: Why was I spared when the bodies off better men than I were left in shallow, watery graves?
Now, of course, I could say that God had plans for me — that perhaps my work had not been finished, etc., but, could not the same thing be said in relation to these other men? I believe that God has plans for all of us — even though many of us do not listen enough to His voice, nor do we always heed His guiding hand. Maybe some of us need to stay around longer than others in order to do some maturing. I do not mean to be morbid here; 1 know that we can only go so far in answering, or even asking why, which is a universal and eternal question. We need to take a long-range view, and let God take care of the rest; He does, indeed, move in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform!

Of the friends whom I have mentioned by name in this narrative only Warren G. was not spared. It was my privilege to visit with his mother, and to tell her of our association out there. 1 was glad to be able to tell her how Warren had found anew his frame of reference in the Friend that stick- eth closer than a brother, and how he had been an inspiration to me, and a help to others, some of whom got back on their feet due to his self-taught therapy. I also told this fine mother how her son greeted me each day with “Chaplain, God is good to us” — even when everything was at its lowest ebb, and we were all hitting rock bottom. After meeting and talking with his mother it was no puzzle to me why Warren returned to the fold. “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it”. (Pro. 22:6) There may be apparent exceptions to this rule, but, as a general thing, it applies.

One of the characters aboard the Holland called me up not long after I returned to the San Diego area. I suppose Mr. “Dooley”, our Chief Boatswain, had seen a story or two, with pictures, in the local papers, and decided to do something, which he probably did very infrequently: Initiate a
phone call. My old shipmate said that they had missed me aboard, and wanted to let me know he was glad I had survived. I thanked hip for his part in making our release possible, and.he said, “Aw, think nothing of it,Padre”. He was between assignments, having left the Holland some time earlier, and soon was going out (probably at his request) to join another ship. He said “Yeah, Chaplain, the first team is going back out there, and wind this thing up”. And they did — within a few months. Mr. Dooley was the only former Holland shipmate I was in touch with this soon, although I have been in contact with a few others since. I have mentioned that my old Skipper and Exec, had written nice letters to both Rosie and my mother while I was in the Philippines. They were greatly appreciated.

After I had accepted several invitations for talks and sermons, and after we had made our swing to northern California, I found that I didn’t have all the stamina that I seemed to think I had. I suppose that lowered resistance was at least partly responsible for my contracting a heavy cold, which marked the end of such activities. It was then that Rosie, who had been concerned all along, gave me “the word”, which resulted in our deciding to relax and enjoy the’beach, and benefit from the therapeutic value of the water, sun, and fresh sea breezes. So, during that summer we spent many happy and beneficial hours on the beach — almost under the shadow of the old and famous Del Coronado Hotel — or, “the Del” — as local residents called it, and still do. As an evidence of my lack of judgement, contrasted with Rosie’s good sense, I had the idea (for a while) that we ought to go up to Lake Arrowhead for an extended stay, since my brother Houston owned a cabin there, and it was at our disposal. I will say that it didn’t take Rosie long
to convince me of a couple of things, which indicated that 1 had not thought this matter through. First, while the mountain retreat was intriguing, we already had a shangri-la of our own, at a more relaxing elevation — of only a few feet above sea level. Second, I was reminded that I was still a patient, and although I was subsisting at home, I was supposed to be staying in the vicinity of the hospital for any further tests and/or treatment. The Coronado therapy continued to do its work, and, although it took time, my rehabilitation continued to be more and sore in evidence.

The wounds of war do heal (outwardly) in time; however, underneath some of the hurts and scars remain — to remind us that war is hell, indeed. Several times during the first weeks, or even months, after returning home,
I woke up under  tension — to Have Rosie tell me that I had really been giving the “Japs” what-for, and that she wouldn’t dare try to repeat some of the words and expressions I had used in the process. This is only a slight indication of what war can and does do to people, and one of the sad parts about it is that the sins of the fathers are visited upon their children to the fourth generation — and beyond. That is probably the biggest and most tragic result of the hell of war.

Not long after returning I got a letter from Razzie Truitt informing me that the Navy was considering a twenty year minimum retirement for officers (it had been thirty), which would make it possible for some Reserve chaplains, who had enough rank and not too much age, to transfer to the regular Navy — if they wanted to make it a career, and if they met the other requirements. I had talked to Razzie about this, and he offered to write me a recommendation. Rosie and I had talked over the pros and cons, and had decided that If I had the opportunity, I should apply, which I did as soon as the opportunity presented itself. Although, as I have1 mentioned earlier, I seemed to be in relatively good shape –everything considered —
1 did wonder if I would be in good enough shape to pass the physical for the regular Navy, which I figured might be pretty tough. But, surprisingly, I did meet the physical requirements, including my eyes, the standards for which must have been lowered since pre-war days. The physical, however, was only the first hurdle to be cleared in the long process of questionnaires and paper work, which, in the case of such large organizations, must go through many hands, and across various desks — and remain for a while at the bottom of the basket on some. Also, I was required to go before a board, which was made up not only of chaplains, but other staff as well as line officers. Perhaps this was partly for the purpose of determining how much such an applicant might have suffered emotionally, and also as far as appearance and personality were concerned.

So, this whole business went into the mill, and “the mills of the gods grind slowly”. I learned later that in addition to some recommendations that I was aware of, there were several others that went to Washington without my knowledge. These were from at least a couple of Catholics and one Jew, in addition to Protestants — active and nominal. Razzie’s recommendation was a very flattering one — to me. Also, my bronze star citation may have served as an additional recommendation. A new ecclesiastical endorsement was required, and it was forthcoming from the Methodist Commission on Chaplains.

My applying for a regular Navy commission meant that I (we — the four of us) had chosen between the chaplaincy and the pastorate, to which – I could return if my application for a regular commission were not accepted. So, in a sense, I didn’t have too much to lose, and, in my judgement, considerable to gain, since I had a rather deep conviction that it was in the chaplaincy that I could make my best contribution. We had weighed the disadvantages of the chaplaincy — such as the likelihood of being away from home some — against some of the disadvantages, and obviously voted for the latter. I am frank to acknowledge that one of the main factors in the decision in favor of the Navy was the matter of greater security —in regard to retirement — especially in regard to early retirement on account of disability, which subsequently did occur. While this was not the only, or even primary, consideration in the decision, with two sons to educate — it was an important matter to me.

As usual, Rosie was with me on whatever road I felt I should take. As I have indicated previously — Rosie is no “yes” woman, but she was like Ruth to Naomi in the Old Testament story: “Whither thou goest I will go, and where thou lodgest, I will lodge; thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God.” So, after the application, with all of its appendages, was in, there was nothing to do but to wait, as I had been doing for my three promotions and a lot (for me) of back pay. Some of the latter, which was not unwelcome, came even before my first promotion (to full Lieutenant) three or four months after returning. The mills do grind slowly — especially when there is no precedent to go on. In the service — if it has never been done before, don’t do anything — until and unless you’re absolutely sure you’re safe! But the promotions, which bore the same dates of rank as those of my contemporaries, were welcome whenever they came through, and I didn’t lose too much sleep over being one of the grayest-haired one and a half stripers around San Diego or in captivity (I didn’t mean to use that word!) — for that matter.

After I had been home about six weeks I had a very unusual letter, which is self-explanatory to any of you who have managed to stay with me since Santa Scholastica’s school days in Manila. You may remember that I mentioned presenting a New Testament to this devout young Navy doctor. Dr. Lambert was on the staff at Bilibid prison when I was assigned there in the summer of 1944, but was sent out on the December draft, and was lost at sea. The following letter tells as much of the rest of the story as is known — except by Him Who knows all things, and is concerned by the fall of the least sparrow. “For His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.” I used to sing that when I was young — and in my prime!

Hq. Sp. Troops, 38th Division,
APO 38, c/o P.M., San Francisco
16 May 1945
Chaplain Earl R. Brewster
Coronado, California
My dear Chaplain Brewster:
Recently I saw an item in the church press, saying that you had been released from a prison camp in the Philippines. I am glad to hear it. I don’t know you, but I know something about you which I believe will please you very much

Next day after I made a beach assault in this part of the Philippines a Guerilla Lieutenant handed me a New Testament which had belonged to Lt. Gordon K. Lambert, Medical Corps, U.S. Navy. We do not know whether Lt. Lambert is alive, or where, but I have turned over to Naval intelligence some clues obtained from the notations in the New Testament. But the real interesting thing about the Testament is the frequent reference to church services and Scripture lessons read from Sunday to Sunday. The Testament was presented to him by you, Decenter 28, 1941, at Manila. Marginal notes begin with January 25, 1942 and continue until November 12, 1944. Many passages which impressed him because they gave him support and courage are underscored, and occasionally with marginal notations.

What delighted me was his frequent reference to “Chaplain Brewster.” He mentions a Mother’s Day sermon on the text, Second Timothy 1:5. And he seemed to be impressed with other sermons, such as one from Psalm 23, and I Cor. 13, and Rom. 8:24. The last reference (“We are saved by hope”) is dated 9-10-44. You were certainly on the beam in your ministry to your men. Just 11 days after that sermon he records the first flight of American bombers over the port area of Manila. Under date of 12-5-42 he underscored, “Lift up your heads, for your redemption draweth nigh”. He does not say. But I have been thrilled again and again as I have thought of that expression of a hope which he held fast, by the help of his Chaplain, through the weary months.
And at the last you are still preaching, “We are saved by hope”.

The underscored passages in the New Testament have been the inspiration for some of my best sermons for my men who are engaged in the still-tough job of liberating the Philippines. You see, I can say to the men, “Here was a man who had a chance to test his Christian faith, so he has something to say to us. He has won the right to be heard. When he underscores the words: Be not anxious, but in all things by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God he is recommending to us a religion which works when the going is toughest”. Etc., etc.

I have had some rather cautious correspondence with his mother, Mrs. Alice Lambert, 6 Seneca Park Circle, Rochester, N.Y, I use the word “cautious” because I dare not give her false hopes, or give out facts which may still be regarded as contrary to military regulations.

I have participated in some of the tough fighting for the Philippines. In fact, the fighting is not nearly finished, despite the rosey press re- leases. I had the privilege of serving as Graves Registration Officer for the operations on Corregidor and lower Bataan. I located and cleaned up five of the 1942 Bataan cemeteries. I have stood in those cemeteries and traced the evidence of the progress of the war, and have said, “We are not having a tough time at all. Those boys took it on the chin for us.”

Well, my brother Chaplain, I hope this small example of the inestimable value of your ministry to your men gives you the deep satisfaction you so richly deserve. Just the examination of the evidence has encouraged me to carry on till the job is finished, although I might be considered rather old for combat service. I hope it is my good fortune to meet you some day in the dear old’homeland. My wife and three children are “parked” at Manhattan, Kansas, till the glad day when I can see their dear faces again.

(signed) James R. Wonder Chaplain (Captain)
(Central Kansas Conference)

On May 10, 1945, I was able to be hone for my first birthday (my 41st) in four years. This was the occasion that Rosie used to This “wean” me from my security blanket: “That old, beaten-up, musty smelling, dirty thing!” I had a hard time saying farewell to this old companion, which had guarded my valuable possessions for three long years. I had no choice, however, since that woman was sneaky enough to buy me a very important looking V.I.P. attaché case — to use in its stead. Some people will do anything! So,-my under arm zipper case, which had served me so well, and could have gotten me into trouble, was no more; but the memory lingers on.

Also, in connection with this birthday celebration, I mentioned earlier that I had conned my twin sister and her husband into taking us ,(including my mother) to the famous Mission Inn in Riverside. I thought this was a natural, since they lived in that beautiful city, and we had never been to the Inn for dinner; so, a good time was had by all. The menu was quite different from those placed-before me on the occasion of * my last three birthdays. Although I hadn’t made it home to begin life anew by my 40th birthday, I did manage to make it — by the Grace of God — while I was still forty; something to be thankful for!

About this time a very special event came my way in San Diego. The Chamber of Commerce sponsored a parade and a program honoring our POWs who had returned, as well as those who had not yet been returned (from Japan), plus those who were never to return. I had the honor of being chosen to represent our Naval personnel, and was proud to do so. This was the first and only time that I have ridden alone in a parade (in the back seat of a convertible), with a blonde gal driving the car. As we proceeded east on Broadway, with people lining the street, I tried to wave and smile — as I have seen “other dignitaries” do. The one event that I remember most involved a small boy — perhaps around ten years old — who evidently knew me; however, I never was able to identify him. This lad was in, or on, a multi-storied building, and as I went by his perch, he repeatedly yelled, “Hi, Chaplain Brewster”. Naturally I waved and returned his greeting, but to this day I don’t know who the boy was. He would probably be in his middle thirties now; wherever he is, I hope he is enjoying a good life.

The parade wound up at Balboa Stadium with a program, which included several speakers, of which I was one. I hope I was able to represent our people as they deserved to be remembered. There was quite a turn-out of concerned citizens for this event. It was heartening to note that the American people were aware of what was going on, and were appreciative of the contribution and sacrifice our people were making toward peace.

I was pleased to receive during this period personally signed letters of commendation from President Truman, Secretary of Defense Forrestal, and Chief of Naval Personnel, Admiral Jacobs.  The letter from the Secretary of Defense provided the basis for my being awarded the Bronze Star medal, which I received, realizing that many of my shipmates helped to make possible this recognition, which some of them deserved more than did I.  This awards ceremony, which included a number of other patients, as well as our families and friends, was held out of doors at the San Diego Naval hospital – to which we were attached.  It was another outstanding day for us.

Rosie and I were basking in the sun on the beach at Coronado one afternoon when suddenly we heard whistles blowing, bells ringing, and people shouting that the war was over.  One particular vociferous brother, who appeared on the scene waving his bottle as he shouted victory, must have been anticipating such an event. At any rate, he had obviously been preparing for it — and had gotten a head start. I’m sure it didn’t take some others very long to catch up with this announcer of good news. There were some of us, and many throughout our land and other Nations of the world, who paused to thank God, and to shout praises of peace … hoping that perhaps now swords could be beaten into plowshares, and spears into pruning hooks.

During this period of several months of enforced indolence (the enforcement didn’t need to be very rigid) I was not only being rehabilitated, but my three promotions began to come through gradually and slowly, one by one, like the first animals into Noah’s ark — according to the old spiritual, which says, “the animals are cornin’ — one by one, etc.” So, after a few months I was no longer the greyest haired J.G. running around San Diego; now I was among the oldest looking two-stripers to be seen around. But, it didn’t bother me as much as it seemed to bother some of my Chaplain friends and others, who couldn’t figure out why Washington .didn’t give me my Commander’s three stripes all at once. At least a part of the answer lay in the fact that this was something new — and there was no definite procedure for it. My application for a regular Navy commission was also in the mill, and this took even longer to materialize than did the promotions.

Bill McGuire, who had been Pacific Fleet Chaplain, with Headquarters at Pearl Harbor when I was assigned to the Holland there, was now the 11th Naval District Chaplain in San Diego. This warmhearted Irishman was very friendly and helpful to me during this period. He told me not to “volunteer” -to go back to active duty too soon — that I might as well take plenty of time. He and others probably suggested this to Washington, also; since I was not occupying a bed at the hospital, that command evidently was not anxious to get rid of me as a patient — until I was ready for ‘most any kind of duty. Chaplain McGuire told me several times to let him know where I would like to have duty when I was to be re-assigned. I told him that I didn’t feel that I was in any position to try to name my duty station — but I did let him know that I liked it around San Diego, and that my family would like to stay in Coronado during the school year of 1945-1946. From subsequent events, evidently this was all I needed to say.

I had not yet had occasion to be in touch with my friend Chet C. since our days aboard the Holland. It was several months after my happy landing that I saw Chet’s name in the San Diego paper — in the sports section. He was listed as a player on a semi-pro basketball team representing 20th Century Fox Studios, which was playing in San Diego that night so we (our family of four) made a date that night, and would have broken ‘most any other engagement, to go to that game. We were- able to see Chet only briefly before the game, but had a pretty good visit with him at half-time, and said “adios” afterwards. Chet was about twenty-nine at that time, and was not in the same kind .of shape he had maintained at the University, or aboard the Holland, but he played a good part of the game — showing the class that had made him an all-American seven or eight years earlier. Although he came along a generation too soon for pro basketball as we know it today undoubtedly he was of pro caliber. His being a member of this particular team provided him a nice interim job with the company, which evidently enabled him to secure further preparation and experience as a school administrator. As I mentioned earlier, this fine Christian gentleman now is Superintendent of schools in an important northern California district.

Here was a young man (in his fifties now) who didn’t know much more than 1 did (which was less than nothing) about submarines before the war; yet he was sharp enough, and so dedicated that he became a Commander, and before the war was over he was an instructor in submarine warfare. We need more men like Chet these days; thank God for those we do have — they are the salt of the earth.

As I mentioned earlier, Ken W., whom I first met in Manila, .and was with both at Cabanatuan and Dapecol, had told me that he wanted me to officiate at his marriage to that “beautiful girl in Fullerton” — after we both got back to Southern California. Naturally, the situation was somewhat “iffy”. The first “if” was whether or not both of us would get back. This was problematical, if not unlikely, since the odds proved to be about four to one against an individual’s making it. These odds were greatly multiplied, and it really became a matter of geometrical progression when Ken became a member of the last draft to leave Manila for Japan. I have mentioned some of the horrors of this hell-ship and its very few survivors.’ Another “if” lay in the fact that the bride might and should have something to say about who ties the knot. In fact, it is usually the bride’s wedding; the groom is some sort of necessary evil — or just excess baggage, to whom nobody pays much attention.

I had no way of knowing whether Ken had survived-until the fall of 1945 — when the rest of our people were returned from Japan. It wasn’t long after he returned that Ken got in touch with me, saying that “they” wanted me to tie the knot, so both of the “ifs” had been eliminated. Soon thereafter the date was set for early December at the Episcopal church in Fullerton, the home church of the bride’s family. I suggested that the rector of the church should have a part in the ceremony, which is the way most of us ministers like to operate. He was very gracious, and would have been willing and glad to have remained in the background, but both of us together were able to tie a real tight double-knot, which still is securely tied after nearly a quarter of a century. This was one couple that didn’t need lecturing, or even much counselling, as such, since they already had passed some pretty stiff tests, and knew what a successful marriage requires. They were very serious when they each repeated the vows: “I, Kenneth take thee,
Marilyn (and vice versa) to be my wedded wife (or husband); to have and to hold from this day forward; for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part, according to God’s Holy ordinance; and thereto I plight thee my troth.” You don’t raise four children, while moving from place to place in the Navy, without certain problems, but when sacred vows are taken seriously, there is a deep joy and satisfaction in the realization that with God all things are possible. I have mentioned that Ken became a Rear Admiral several years ago, and now is serving in the most important assignments in the Supply Corps. I am proud to have had a part in establishing this home.

The late Marion T., my Navy Lieutenant friend who became a Kentucky Colonel, also was returned about the same time as was Ken, and it wasn’t long before we were communicating between Louisville and San Diego. It was about a year, however, before we got together to talk over old times; while I was on duty at Parris Island, S. C. (1946-48) we got up to Louisville several times and enjoyed that Kentucky hospitality, although we weren’t able to make it at Derby time. Marion and his mother (quite a character), who used to torment him by catching more fish than he did, visited us in Norfolk, where I was on shipboard duty in 1948-49. Marion had a “ham” radio installation in his car, as well as at home, and on his way to visit us he would call another ham — to let us know his E.T.A. This rather intrigued our boys (especially Leonard), as well as us. I saw Marion briefly in a V.A. Hospital not long before he died two or three years ago. The P.O.W. experience had taken its toll; he was a victim of man’s inhumanity to man. I had lost a good, understanding friend, who was also acquainted with “the Friend that sticketh closer than a brother.”

Well, I began this narrative by telling about being “fresh-caught in San Diego”. I volunteered then, but now they had caught up with me, although I had in effect asked for it by applying for the regular Navy. After eight months of “loafing” I received orders to report about the middle of December to North Island Naval Air Station for duty. So, I didn’t have to commute by ferry, and North Island and Coronado were no longer separated by even a bridge. I reported here as a Lieutenant, and my regular Navy commission would not be forthcoming for several months. So, this nearby assignment kept me out of too much mischief while my other two promotions and my regular Commission came through in that order. The other benefit was that we could stay in Coronado the rest of the school year. In July of 1946 I did get orders (as a regular Navy Commander) to report to Parris Island, S.C. for duty with the Marines. In my various “flash backs” I have related a couple of incidents that took place at this well known recruit depot, and I don’t propose to indulge in any more “sea stories” that took place here, or anywhere else. This narrative has hit the high spots of one chaplain’s experiences during a period of five long years, and that should be enough. If I have not told my story by this time, no more time nor words would help much — if any. I had completed my “round trip to hell”. Praise the Lord, and “hold” the ammunition!

In the midst of my joy at being home with family and friends, I can never forget, and will always remember the friends with whom I was bound together by a peculiar tie — even though I will see the faces of most of them no more. God help us to be true to such friendships and the trust that is ours. “Greater love hath no man than this: That a man lay down ,his life for his friends;” “and there is a Friend that sticketh closer than a brother.”

from Amphibious Force Pacific Fleet – The Amphibian – 19 January, 1952

How valuable is a man?  We take great delight in recalling scientific calculations which established the value of the human body at a few dollars.  But a person’s real value is something not measured in dollars and cents.

Friendships are formed and buddies become buddies for reasons which can accurately be called spiritual ones.  Life’s values are  really measured in terms such as faithfulness, honesty, likeableness, courage, thoughtfulness.  A person must be useful.  In order for his life to have value he must be useful to others.  Abraham Lincoln was mourned by millions of people of all types and many nationalities because they felt they had lost a personal friend who had done something for them.  The debt which people owe to those who have given their lives in combat is immeasurable.  Jesus put it this way.  “Greater love hath no man than this, than a man lay down his life for his friends.”

Experience proves what Jesus first taught – a life must be lived for others in order for it to have value.  In living for others we also serve God, and bring inward happiness and peace to ourselves.

So many people flounder selfishly through life, grasping frantically for a fleeting moment of greedy but empty satisfaction.  It is these who fritter away the very things for which we fight.  It is these who degrade daily living and rob life of lasting value.  They forget that true happiness is measured by how much we put into life — not by how much we take out.  It is one of the tragedies of war that some of those who so nobly give heroic service should return to these shores and demonstrate base and ignoble principles.

Our God blesses and rewards those who firmly and courageously stand in the full stature of manhood and say, ”  I am interested in the welfare of my buddies and my loved ones.  I am concerned about the value of my life for my country and my God.  I determine to keep faith with those who founded this nation under God and with those who have preserved its greatness by serving His higher purposes.”

True immortality is assured him who obeys the Divine Command, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy mind.”  This is the first and great commandment.  The second is like unto it, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”



 from Amphibious Force Pacific Fleet – The Amphibian – 16 February, 1952

The soul of one who harbors hate is blighted. The better self has ceased to grow.  Hatred and true happiness cannot live together – they are absolutely incompatible.  One can no more nourish bitter anger and resentment against another individual and be radiantly happy in his own life than one could consume carbolic acid and avoid seared throat tissues.  Hate turns upon the one who cherishes it.  Someone has said, “Hatred is a luxury which intelligent men can’t afford.”

Christ, in teaching his disciples in in the Sermon on the Mount to “love their enemies,” was suggesting to them not an impossible ideal, but a practical necessity for satisfactory living.  He was above all others understood human personality knew that love must be uppermost in the hears of His disciples.

Throughout the history of human conflict information arousing anger and hatred has been widespread.  Personal experience and stories of treachery, wonton destruction, cruelty and violence have kindled our resentment and filled our hearts with anger.  It is easy to give way to passionate hate toward those who commit such atrocities.

If the effect of hate were confined just to those who give it lodging its danger would not be so great.  but in the final analysis its scope is broader than that.  Hate begets hate!  The wider its circle grows, the more it is fed in the human heart, the more damaging it is to human personality.  Certainly it was with this desire in mind that we experience the fullness of life in which Jesus instructed us in His Way of Life.

God made man in His own image.  He is a sacred creation in the sight of God and holds of favored place in all of creation.  When man gives himself over, even in part, to cherished bitterness, he is doing immeasurable harm to his own inner life.

It is well to remember that in war the savagery of any group becomes apparent, and therefore we need not be unduly surprised when we see in our enemies traits which could cause us to hate them.  But when we take out our feelings in blind fury we achieve no good, dissipate our energy, and lead only to further resentment.

Intense feeling is justifiable–if our lives are to be effective.  But if that feeling is simply hatred, then it is mis-directed.  Let us, therefore, direct our antagonism against evil  in whatever form we confront it.  We must resist it, we must subdue it!  But, whatever safeguards we must employ against our enemies, let us never indulge in cherished hatred.

from Amphibious Force Pacific Fleet – The Amphibian – 2 February, 1952

Former President Herbert hoover, recalling his experiences with the late President Calvin Coolidge, says that the solemn Yankee had a way of his own for meeting difficulties.  “If you see ten troubles coming your way,” Coolidge would say, “just wait; nine of them will solve themselves or disappear before they get to you.  Then you will have only one to deal with.”

There is an old proverb to the effect that a man shouldn’t cross his bridges until he comes to them.  There is an encouraging bit of scripture which says the same thing better –“Cast your burden on the Lord.”

Josh Billings added his own testimony in this matter when he said, “I have had a lot of troubles in my lifetime, but most of them never happened.”

A very large part of the world’s worry arises at precisely this point.  We grow anxious and tense over the things that can happen and may happen, but seldom do.

As we look forward into the unknown, our imagination conjures up a succession of terrors which, conceivably, could come out of the future.  As we contemplate these horrible possibilities, we grow anxious, tense, and sometimes discouraged.  The spiritual exhaustion form which so many people suffer is of this sort.  And the price we pay for worry is always excessive, and never worth it.

There are times when the best way to look at the future is by looking at the past.

“If anyone had told me that i would have been able to stand up under the load I have carried the last month, I would have called him crazy,” said a business man whose business had trembled in the balance for months.  “It has not been easy, and I am not yet through with it, but I am no longer afraid.  Every day when I come down to the office and face that high wall, I remind myself that I got over one just as high yesterday, by the Grace of God.  That means that I will somehow get over this one.  Then i tackle the first thing that comes up.  I wrestle with it until I have carried it as far as I can, and then I go back and pick up something else.  the first thing I know, I am making progress. Sometimes it is painfully slow, but I find it easy to keep up my courage when I am inching forward.

That is the way some bridges are crossed – an inch at a time.  no man needs to grow discouraged if he can count up at the close of the day a few inches gained during the day.

It is just a little bit odd that we have given bridges a bad reputation.  After all, any bridge is easier to travel than an unbridged ravine. someone has said “a detour is always better than the main road.  If that were not true, there would never be any detours.”

Finally, God never expects any man to cross his bridges alone.  he stands ready to go along with any of us.  And that makes a lot of difference in crossing bridges.


from Amphibious Force Pacific Fleet – The Amphibian – 15 March, 1952

The allies emerged victorious from World War II.  But many are asking who won what?  Was there a real victory after all?

Victory is often hollow.  One can go from place to place in the world today and see total destruction.  He sees people living amidst these ruins.  The victory sign was raised over destruction.  But victory is hollow when vast areas are laid waste when thousands are killed or maimed, when economic systems are utterly exhausted.

But someone will say that is the way of the world.  Others could say, however, that the world, which is so much with us, ,must be overcome.

On the other hand there is much fatalism abroad in the land.  Many say war is inevitable in the near future; they say the next war will annihilate civilization; they say it is only a matter of time.  A million youth standing in Unter Den Linden, Berlin, in August said only Communism will do.  They carried their pictures of Stalin, they stood for hours, they believe in their cause.  They say it can–they seem determined it shall–overcome the world.

Then there are those who dare to believe that the real victory is our faith.  The Christian Faith alone has triumphed over the destructions of the centuries.  In London much of the area around St. Paul’s Cathedral was totally laid waste.  nothing was left but ruins.  Little of it has been rebuilt.  But there below the pavement in a space covering nearly a city block some temporary huts gone up.  They say that the most interesting thing is the flower garden–little spots with beautiful flowers planted in the walls, growing in the crannies, ruins literally blossoming with roses and geraniums.  Some-one had the faith to rebuild, the faith to overcome.  Today, as always, there must be in people everywhere the faith that overcomes the world.  No less faith thatn this will do .  Those who have it have the victory, wherever they are.


from Amphibious Force Pacific Fleet – The Amphibian – 26 April, 1952

If I believe that i am going to live only 70 years, then the state, which already has lasted over 150 years, and will probably last quite a while yet, is much more important than I am.  Before you know it, some individual or groups of individuals, in places of influence, begin seriously to believe this and start using pressure to force this idea on others.  Then you have exactly what happened in Germany under Nazism, where the state became everything and the individual nothing.

But, if I am going to live forever, then the state, even if it lasts a thousand years, is less important than myself as an immortal child of God.  then my freedom of conscious, my freedom of worship, my freedom to exercise religion is a thousand times more important than the extension of authority by the state.  And so i will stand up and insist on my fundamental freedom as a citizen.  That happens to be what makes democracy work. That is what makes liberty more than just a beautiful word.  When once we have our compasses working right, life begins to make some sense and to become tremendously worth while for the citizens of this great nation.

We are living in an age when different beliefs about the world lead to different moralities. the morality of a man who looks at the world as just something that happened is certainly bound to be different from the actions of the man who thinks of the world as God’s creation.

Remember that religion involves a series of statements about things which must be either true or false.  if they are true you get one set of conclusions; if they are false you arrive at a different answer.

If the propositions of the religion of secularism to the effect that the universe is more or less the result of an accident is correct, then there follow certain results which contradict the morality of a religion which says that the world is a creation of God, to whom men, as creatures, ar therefore responsible and accountable.  doesn’t it make a difference whether I am the landlord ofmy own mind and body, or just a tenant–responsible to someone else? If somebody else created me for his own purposes, then I shall have a alot of duities which I would not have, if I just belong to myself.  There  are a good many things which would nto be worth bothering with at all if i am going to life only 70 years, but which I had better consider every seriously if i am going to life forever.

from Amphibious Force Pacific Fleet – The Amphibian – 12 April, 1952

“JOB’S QUESTION” –Long, long ago the writer of the Book of Job asked the question, “If a man shall die shall he live again?”  Centuries later Jesus Christ answered this question –beautifully, quietly, triumphantly–by His resurrection from the dead.

It was the Father who raised up the body of the entombed Son, reanimating it with spiritual power and His accustomed personality as known to His disciples prior to His crucifixion.  The Father could do this, for remember–with God all things are possible.

As believers in Christ neither does god allow us to be destroyed.  Regardless of what happens to our physical bodies–whether they become maimed, crippled by illness, even destroyed–God will not allow His spirit within us to be destroyed.  Neither will he allow us to lose our individual identity.  In life the Christian seeks unity of spirit with the Father.  Even in death that oneness of spirit continues without loss of personal identify.

Thanks be to God who gives us this victory over death through Jesus christ our Savior, whom God raised from the dead.  if God would not allow Himself, in the person of Jesus Christ, to be destroyed, neither will He allow those possessed of His Spirit to perish.


from Amphibious Force Pacific Fleet – The Amphibian “Pitching Halos”

A Good Name. How sadly mistaken we are if we have the idea that happiness ini life depends upon the things we have!  The great Teacher said, “A man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.”  In other words success in life is not determined by who we are or who our ancestors were.

So, individually we must have ideals, standards and principles.  Paraphrasing another quotation:  “What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his good name!”

You will remember old king Midas, who attached so much importance to material things that even his lovely daughter was turned to gold.

We are reminded of such good examples as George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Robert E. Lee, gentlemen who valued their good names even more than life itself.

One of our poets has put the thought into these words: Who steals my purse steals trash; ’tis something, nothing; ’twas mine, ’tis his, and has been slave to thousands; but he that filches from me my good name robs me of that which not enriches him; and makes me poor indeed.”

“A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches and loving favor rather than silver and gold.”


from Amphibious Force Pacific Fleet – The Amphibian – 24 May, 1952

AS A MAN THINKETH.  The author of Ecclesiastes asks:  “Is there anything new under the sun?”  Well, there ain’t so many things under the sun as is generally supposed; this is especially true in the realm of ideas.

The writer of Proverbs, who lived a long time ago, had a profound idea which is still true; when he said, “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.”  How shall we interpret these words?  Well, they mean that deep down in human personality at the heart, at the center or core of his life, the thoughts that a man habitually thinks are fashioning his character.

I know a man who is always saying, “I’m a failure;  I know I’m a failure.  I failed all along the line and I’m going to fail in this new opportunity that has presented itself to me.”  You see, that fellow is conditioning himself for defeat, he is laying out lines of retreat; he is preparing himself for a new failure; he is undermining all his God-given self-confidence.

Dr. Bonnell, who has interviewed many people in New York, says “one of the most unforgettable experiences I have had in my entire ministry was to see a man completely transformed in the space of twelve months.  The transformation was so amazing and so thourough that only one word will describe it: MIRACLE.  It was a miracle of the grace of God.  that man cast away failure, cast away defeat, cast away bitterness, cast away hate, and became a radiant, healthy-minded, loveable personality.  the thought processes deep within him were arrested, reversed and completely altered through the expulsive power of the love of God.  All of this resolves itself into the fact that we are the architects of our own souls.  Deep down within us is a workshop in which we are fashioning character and personality.  The tools we use are thoughts and emotions which either destroy us, or build us up.  Certainly the wise man was right when he said — “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.”

from Amphibious Force Pacific Fleet – The Amphibian  ~ 12 June 1952

MORAL BASIS. In the very shadow of war we dare to talk about brotherhood, understanding and tolerance among men.  But I see nothing too strange about that.  On the contrary, I am aware that there has never been so great a need for these qualities throughout the world.

but, is it enough today to be “aware” of the need and to let it go at that?  If we admit the necessity of understanding and brotherhood, can we afford any longer to treat these goals in a casual or offhand manner?

It seems to me that if we are to provide a much-needed spiritual leadership for the free peoples of the world, we face a two-fold task. First, to life our democracy more effectively at home.  Second, we must understand and make ourselves understood by the people of other nations.

It isn’t surprising that others should be confused about America. but I think we should take great care that we ourselves don’t become confused about what we stand for, and from what we derive our strength.

Some say that we are strong because of our great natural resources. Others say that the foundation of America’s strength lies in our economic system.  but the wellsprings of our vitality are not economic.  They go far deeper. They are ethical and spritual.  We believe in man because we believe in God.  We believe in men not merely as production units, but as the children of God.  We we dare to talk about brotherhood, understanding and tolerance among men.

One Day at a Time. Dr. Roy L. smith tells of a top executive with a terrific load of responsibility, which he seemed to carry with a minimum of strain.  His friends had frequently commented on his unusual ability to walk into a complicated situation with calmness and poise.

This man was told by his doctor that he had to turn in to the Hospital for a very serious operation. “All right,” the patient said, “if that’s your verdict, I’ll accept your judgment.  But i have the satisfaction of knowing that I will have to be there only one day at a time.”

In that last sentence we have the key to his calm and unruffled life: He had learned the great secret of living one day at a time.

It is such a temptation to live three days at a time — yesterday, today and tomorrow.  As if today did not have enough evil in it, we drag all the evils of yesterday along with us, and then borrow trouble from tomorrow.

The man who has learned how to make his religious faith effective has learned that God always provides us with enough strength, courage and power to discharge the duties of today.  Also, He promises us ower for tomorrow–when we come to tomorrow.

The Good Book says, “sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”  The Revised Standard Version makes that a little plainer by saying, “let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day.”

This, of course, is not a plea for procrastination.  The man who puts off doing his duty today will find that it has more than doubled in weight by tomorrow.  but, if we accept the full responsibility for each day as it comes, then we will discover that each tomorrow will be greatly simplified.

Suppose you being the day with a reassuring bit of Scripture to set the tone for the whole day.  For instance, “This is the Day which the Lord has made.  I will rejoice and be glad in it.”

There are many other passages or thoughts that come to your mind, or that you can turn in order to get the right start in living one day at a time.

No better word could be found than that in the 23rd Psalm where it says, “The Lord is my Shepherd (therefore) I shall not want.”


from Amphibious Force Pacific Fleet – The Amphibian  – 30 August 1952

FALSE FRONTS  There is an interesting store on the main street of a certain town.  This store has a peculiar front; it looks like a two-story building, but it is, in reality, only a one-story building.  It has what is known as a false front.

when you look at this building you see a first floor where there is a grocery store with two large windows, and above these on the so-called second floor, four small windows.   When you walk around to the side of the building and look behind the four small windows, expecting to find a second story, you are surprised to find that there is none–just an open space.

There are some people like that building; they appear to have a second story; they appear to be more or better than they are; they put on a show or a false front; but when you get around behind them you discover that there is little ore nothing there.

The actions of such people are described by words like “bluffing,” “posing,” or “make believe.”  For instance, a lad my strut around as though he could beat everybody at every game. “He talks a good game,” as the saying goes.  Many such individuals never grow up, and it is easy to see through their false fronts.

The Great Teacher spoke about those who tried to appear better than they are.  They pose as being good that they may be seen and praised.  he called them hypocrites and said they were wolv3es in sheep’s clothing.

the world in which we live has too many people like that.  What we need is more people without false fronts, who are sincerely striving to do their best with what they have.  After all, God is not going to hold us to account for the ability of someone else.  But we are responsible for living up to and developing our own resources.


from Amphibious Force Pacific Fleet – The Amphibian  ~ 2 August 1952

A very skillful photographer whose pictures commanded premium prices in the magazine market was trying to get a dramatic picture of a lovely old church. He has walked around the building several times looking at different angles.

An amateur photographer who had gone along with him in the hope of getting some valuable hints commented on the care with which he chose the angle from which to :shoot” the picture.  The old artist commented, “In every situation there is one right angle–one spot on which to fix your camera lens–if you are to get the best picture.  Almost any building, person, or scene can be made into a beautiful picture if you can get a shot from the right angle.”

A big problem of life lies in finding the right angle.

Some wit said that certain people look at god through their troubles and that other people look at their troubles through God.  The difference in their viewpoints makes the difference in their lives.

The old photographer was right–there is at least one angle from which every person, every community, and situation can be viewed which will reveal beauty, worth, honor and virtue.    There is another angle, perhaps, from which only the unworthy may be seen.  but each one of us must choose the angle from which he views.

saint Paul said, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be praise–think on these things.”

from Amphibious Force Pacific Fleet – The Amphibian  ~ September 1952

You’ve often heard the comment “He did it all by himself.” The statement applies whether it is made about a success or a failure.  Life is what you make it.  it can be a success or it can be a failure.

There are two conclusions that you can reach concerning your life.  “I have played the fool,” was the solemn finding of Saul, the first King of Israel.  here was a man richly endowed by God with the attributes of a great man.  Saul had a magnificent physique, a jovial personality, unbounded physical courage–desirable qualities which count toward brilliance and achievement.  Yet Saul made a fool of himself, his religion, and his position.  Saul was a giant who became a pigmy.  He was one of the greatest wasters of all history; his life and all his potentialities were wasted.  When Saul lost his faith in God he lost his ability to do the right thing at the right time.  “He played the fool.”

Another Saul came to an entirely different conclusion.  He was Saul of Tarsus, who said, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, and I have kept the faith.” These were among the last recorded words of this Saul, who became the great missionary. Looking through the bars of his Roman dungeon Paul reviewed a life full of sacrifices.  He could have looked back and pitied himself.  But, instead, he forgot the things which were behind and pushed on toward his goal.  here was a life rich and full and useful; rich, not in earthly possessions, power or position, but in a more important sense.  Paul was not afraid of what the future held for him, for he knew that the future would take care of itself.

What a difference between these tow men! Which one are you like? Will your friends say of you, “He lived a useful life,” or will it be “He was a man of wasted talents?”

when we can look back and say, “I have done my best; I have drunk my fill from the pool of achievement,” only then will we rest in the assurance that we have earned a complete and lasting peace–both for ourselves and our fellowmen.

then we will realize that life is what we made it.  But the important thing is to realize  now that life is what we make it, and to strive to improve ourselves in every way.  Grasp and capitalize on every opportunity; make the most of it.  Your life is what you yourself make it–in cooperation with God.

Bronze Star Medal Original Document - Chaplain Earl R. Brewster - FORMERLY DETAINED BY THE JAPANESE, RECEIVES BRONZE STAR MEDAL

19 OCTOBER 1945


The Navy Department has announced that the Bronze Star Medal has been awarded to Lieutenant Commander Earl R. Brewster, Chaplain Corps, USNR, for his heroic conduct while interned at a Prisoner of War Camp in the Philippine Islands.

Chaplain Brewster, who is now at the United States Naval Hospital, San Diego, California, was taken by the Japanese in May, 1942, when the Philippines fell.  He was first interned at Camp Number One, Cabapatuan, and was later transferred to the Davao Penal Colony in Mindanao.  He was released by the United States Forces in February, 1945.

A native of Sacred heart, Oklahoma, Chaplain Brewster entered the Methodist ministry in October, 1934.  when he entered the Navy, he was pastor of the Methodist Church in Santa Paula, California.  His wife and children live at 919 “C” Avenue, Coronado, California.

For  heroic achievement while interned at the Prisoner of War Camp, Davao Penal Colony, Philippine Islands Area.  Although in such a weakened condition from malnutrition and beri-beri that he was not expected to live when he arrived at the Davao Penal Colony from Cabanatuan, lieutenant, Junior Grade, Brewster held on with courage and determination and after six months was back in the working detail.  Required by Japanese officers to do all the compulsory work details even though he was a Chaplain, he also carried out religious services and after his regular working day performed numerous acts of kindness to his fellow prisoners, including nightly reading aloud to those Americans whose eyesight had become impaired by his repeated acts of thoughtfulness under the most adverse circumstances, Lieutenant, Junior Grade, Brewster contributed materially to the welfare of the prisoners and his unselfish spirit and tireless efforts on behalf of others were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

from Amphibious Force Pacific Fleet – The Amphibian

Dr. Roy L. Smith tells of a top executive with a terrific load of responsibility, which he seemed to carry with a minimum of strain. His friends frequently commented on his unusual ability to walk into a complicated situation with calmness and poise.

This man was told by his doctor that he had to turn in to the Hospital for a very serious operation. “All right,” the patient said, “If that’s your verdict I’ll accept your judgement. but I have the satisfaction of knowing that I will have to be there only one day at a time.”

In that last sentence we have the key to his calm and unruffled life: He had learned that great secret of living one day at a time.

It is such a temptation to live three days at a time – yesterday, today and tomorrow. As if today did not have enough evil in it, we drag all the evils of yesterday along with us, and then borrow trouble from tomorrow.

The man who has learned how to make his religious faith effective, had learned that God always provides us with enough strength, courage and power to discharge the duties of today.  Also, He promises us power for tomorrow — when we come to tomorrow.

The Good Book says, “sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” The revised Standard Version makes that a little plainer by saying, “let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day.”

This, of course, is not a plea for procrastination.  The man who puts of doing his duty today will find that it has more than doubled in weight by tomorrow.  But, if we accept the full responsibility for each day as it comes, we will discover that each tomorrow will be greatly simplified.

Suppose you begin the day with a reassuring bit of Scripture to set the tone for the whole day.  For instance, “This is the Day which the Lord has made.  I will rejoice and be glad in it.”

There are many other passages or thoughts that come to your mind, or that you can turn to in order to get the right start in living one day at a time.

No better word could be found than that in the 23rd Psalm where it says, “the Lord is my Shepherd (therefore) I shall not want.”

from Amphibious Force Pacific Fleet – The Amphibian

Religion is often represented in the Bible as growth, since real religion is the result of growth. To “grow in grace” is to increase in all that constitutes true religion.

Let us not forget that religion can be cultivated and can grow just as can any other virtue of the soul or of character. religion is likely to be very feeble in its beginnings, like the sprouting of a plant. It increases and grows as it is cultivated.

No one becomes really good, any more than anyone becomes really learned, or rich, or great, who does not intend it, purpose it, work at it.  In other words, we have about as much religion as we wish to have. We possess about the sort of character we propose to possess.

In order to really grow spiritually we must first grow downward; we must develop roots.  In order to do this we must know ourselves; this requires self-examination.  The Lenten Season is a good time to begin.

Then of course our goal is to grow upward.  Most of us live too near the ground.  our branches do not reach upward into the light and sunshine of God’s Love.  Plants and vegetation and trees grow toward the sun, the source of light and life.

It is in this direction that we must grow — toward God, the source of Life and Light – if we are to live satisfactory lives, which shall be to the Glory of God and of service to our fellowmen.  Only in this way will be contribute to “peace on earth and good will toward men.”