POW MESSAGES & INFO:

This is the story of Henry Clay Henderson  - His service to his country during WWII 

This story is told in three parts:

  • "Official Navy": in the form of naval historical reports;

  • A short commentary by Henry Henderson recorded sometime after WWII.

  • Henry Henderson's diary - kept during the actual events as they took place.
     

While the "official Navy" version offers some confirmation of the literal hell that our men went through; and the short comments by Mr. Henderson gives a bit more detail - the diary plunges the reader mercilessly into the reality of man's brutality to man during war.

This is part of the Official Navy Record regarding Prisoners of War held by the Japanese:
US Submarine Losses Navpers 15,784 1949 issue, WWII. November 13, 1944, A dispatch originated by Commander Naval Unit, Fourteenth Air Force, stated that a Japanese ship enroute from Manila to Japan with 1800 American prisoners of war had been sunk on October 24, 1944 by an American submarine in a torpedo attack. No other submarines reported the attack, and since USS Shark had given USS Seadragon a contact report only a few hours before the sinking, and could not be raised by radio after that, it can only be assumed that Shark made the attack, and perished during or after it. Five prisoners who survived and subsequently reached China stated that conditions on the prison ship were so intolerable that prisoners prayed for deliverance from their misery by a torpedo or bomb. Because many prisoners of war being transported had been rescued from the water by submarines, US submarines had been instructed to search for Allied survivors in the vicinity of all sinkings of Empire bound Japanese ships. Shark may well have been sunk trying to rescue American prisoners of war. All attempts to contact Shark by radio failed and on November 27, 1944, she was presumed lost.
 

Service Record:

  • Henry Clay Henderson Texas National Guard 5/ 8/ 1932 - 8/25/ 1933 Troop E 112th Cavalry, 56th Brigade, 36th Division Private First Class.

  • US Navy 1933-1935 Havana Cuba, Revolution of June 1934, as Fireman 1st Class, USS Bainbridge. DD246.

  • 1936-1939 USS S40. SS145. Fireman, 1st Class Shanghai, China, during the Japanese Invasion North China

  • 1940-1942 Submarine Division 203 serving USS Perch SS176, USS Otus AS-20, USS Canopus AS-9 US Philippines Defense Forces, Cavite, Agaloman Point and Corregidor

  • 1942-1945 Prisoner of War, Imperial Japanese Forces

  • 1946-1950 {missing data}

  • 1950-1953 USS YOG33 Chief Motor Machinist Mate During the Korean "Police Action."

  • 1953 Transferred to the Fleet Reserve

  • 1962 Listed as "retired" 
     

Citations: 
1. Purple Heart Medal, wounded May 6, 1942. 
2. Army Distinguished Unit Badge, with Oak Leaf Cluster. 
a. March 31, 1942 through April 9, 1942, Philippine Defense. 
b. April 29, through May 6, 1942, Philippine Defense.

Defining a word like "hell" is one thing - living it - quite another...
 

Henry Henderson's comments about his WWII experience: 
When that Damn Yankee, General William Tecumseh Sherman, made the remark "war is Hell" he knew very little of the meaning of the word hell, in that context. The men fighting in the Philippines in the early part of WWII, that had been taken Prisoner of War by the Japanese Army, knew they would suffer every indignity, live like dogs, and be worked like oxen. They also knew they would be almost starved to death. On October 1, 1944, we marched out of Bilibid prison, in Manila, and were herded on board transports to be moved to Japan, little did we know what a horrible place hell really was.

Our own armed forces started unwittingly slaughtering POW's on these transports as they were being moved to Japan. It would be two weeks before our convoy would see the same unbridled fury as unleashed on the earlier convoys. Before we would arrive at our destination in the Tokyo area, it is estimated that in excess of over 4000 Allied POW's would meet their maker at the hands of our own submarines and aircraft. One transport that sailed with us was sunk by the USS Shark 2, SS-314, and American submarine, claiming the lives of 1850 Allied POW's. Only five survived and were brought to our transport, one of which died three months later. We were so miserable, we prayed that a torpedo or bomb would hit our transport and relieve us of our misery. There was no way that we would be able to escape from the hold we were in, if we sustained a hit. An oil tanker in our convoy was sunk and there could well have been other ships sunk. About three months later, American fighter/bombers made one hit on the transport we were on, but no one was killed, however several sustained injuries as a result of this bombing.

The trauma these Submariners and pilots suffered, knowing full well the large numbers of allied POWs they were slaughtering must have been unbearable, also the trauma us POWs suffered is far beyond belief. The American POWs that lived through to the Wars end, were promised promotion up to the level of their contemporaries. The Navy being true blue, denied promotions to a very few of these men for various reasons.

During my rehabilitation leave, I was denied the promotions on the ground that I not physically qualified for promotion to Commissioned Rank. This was a horrible price to pay for a small indiscretion. I feel I was due these promotions as a result of my original recommendation in 1941, as substantiated by Admiral Eliot Bryant. Due to some oversight, this recommendation was never received by the Navy Department.
 

Come to think of it, maybe General Sherman was right. War is Hell.
 

The Diary of Henry Clay Henderson 
Part One: from: December 8, 1941 (Which was December 7, 1941 in the US) to: January 25, 1945

The Defense and Loss of the Philipines 
The March of Bataan, Bilibid Prison and Transport in Hell
 

Dec. 8, 1941 Monday morning 0235 hrs. 
General quarters was sounded on board the submarine tender, USS OTUS. It was in the dry dock in Marivelas, Bataan Peninsula, Luzon, Philippine Islands, under going emergency repairs on its propeller. I was on board, serving with the Commander Submarine Division 203, Flag Allowance, in charge of submarine spare parts. Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii, and Baguio, Luzon, Philippine Islands, US Protectorate, were both being bombed by the Japanese Air Force. This signals the beginning of World War II for the United States.
 

December 10, 1941, Wednesday 1200 hrs. 
Fifty four Japanese Air Force heavy bombers made bombing runs over the Navy Yard at Cavite, completely destroying all facilities. I went out on the dock from the USS OTUS AS-20 with the Commander of Sub-Div 203 so he could give orders to the Commanders of the USS Sealion SS-194 and the USS Sea Dragon SS-193 to get under way and make preparations for starting War patrols against all Japanese vessels. As he was giving these orders, a bomb landed on the USS Sealion SS-194 rendering it useless as a combat vessel. How he and I were spared being hit by fragments of this bomb in particular, or for that matter, how we escaped without injury by any of the hundreds of bombs that rained down on this small US Navy Repair Facility is only known to God. The alert lasted less than one hour. The USS OTUS AS-20 got underway for Port Darwin, Australia. The Commander of the Sub-Div 203, gave me orders to commandeer a small motor launch and take us across Manila Bay to the USS Holland. HE conferred with the Commander of Submarines Asiatic, Captain John Wilks. Orders were issued for the USS Holland to proceed to Port Darwin, Australia. The Submarine Tender USS Canopus was ordered to remain behind and service the USS Sea Dragon, making it sea worthy for the voyage to Australia. The USS Sea Lion was towed out to sea and sunk. I remained in the Port Area of Manila working with submarine spare parts, doing what I could to service the US Submarines helping to make them ready for war patrols. Some of these submarines intercepted the Japanese landing in Linggyen Gulf in Northern Luzon.
 

Dec. 12, 1941 Fri. morning. 
I went to the Cavite Navy Yard to try to salvage any submarine spare parts or torpedoes. GOD what a sight. Dead bodies every where. Dog, cats, chicken, and pigs were eating the flesh of these bodies. It was a scramble to find a place to put my foot down without stepping on some one or some dismembered part of a body.
 

Dec. 23, 1941 
The USS Canopus sailed to Mariveles Bay, opposite Corregidor at the entrance of Manila Bay to service submarines. I was sent to Corregidor to work with the spare parts.
 

Dec. 27, 1941 0900 hrs. 
Japanese heavy bombers started the first of a great many bombing runs on Corregidor inflicting very heavy damage.
 

Jan 2, 1942. 
All flag Personnel were assembled on the USS Canopus for assignment to submarines that would ultimately take then to Australia. This included every one except submarine spare parts personnel. When the Submarine Officers left the area, us so called stragglers were fair prey for any and all dirty details the ARMY could come up with. Some of us were assigned to the PT Boat Command. I was put on a small unarmed craft, the Fisheries II, to accompany the PT Boats on inshore patrol missions from Corregidor to seaward up to Alongpo. One night we jumped a Japanese landing craft way down inside our combat lines. This was a hell of a tussle. The PT Boat was armed with torpedoes and fifty caliber machine gun mounts. We had a Lewis machine gun and Browning automatic rifle and also several 1916 Enfield 30 caliber bolt action rifles as armament. The PT Boats had both speed and maneuverability, but we were sadly lacking in both area. This Japanese landing was at Agaloman Point, near the Section Base at Marivelas. As a result of our discovery, we later made a raid on this so called small pocket of Japanese. Boy what a surprise. They massacred us and they left the area and went back to their own lines. Several of our own landing party were killed or wounded.
 

Feb. 17, 1942. 
The Commandant of the 16th Naval District Cavite, issued a Directive authorizing Commanding Officers authority to advance personnel on their ships to Chief Petty Officer, that had successfully passed the Bureau of Navigation examination given on Oct. 31, 1941.
 

Mar 1, 1942. 
Lt. Commander E.E. Paro, assumed authority as Commanding Officer of us stragglers for the purpose of complying with the Com-16 directive pertaining to promoting personnel. This was very nice, except for one thing. I went from Senior Petty Officer First Class to Junior Chief Petty Officer. This was a whole new wrinkle, when something had to be done, who did it? Naturally, the Junior Chief had the honors. The USS Canopus was eventually bombed and had to be scuttled. This crew, as well as all of us stragglers were put in the Beach Defense Sectors, serving under the US ARMY. The US MARINES also suffered this same fate. They were put in charge of training us in the use of the rifle, bayonet, pistol, hand grenades, knife, garrote, and hand to hand combat. BOY!!! They made MARINES out of us in short order. I got so adapt with the Enfield rifle that during the invasion of Corregidor, when I got one of the enemy in my sights, he was a downed man. The training was ordered as a result of that fateful miscalculation we made at Agaloman Point to roust out the so called small pocket of infiltrators that had landed behind our lines. I tried to continue caring for the needs of the Submarines by giving them spare parts, and also technical advice when asked for. Many of the supplies had become exhausted or damaged by the incessant bombings and shelling.
 

March 15, 1942. 
I was transferred to the Beach Defense Sector on Monkey Point on Corregidor with the Marines and other stragglers like myself. Being the Junior Chief, I was put in charge of this group. This was a sorry lot, each of us knew just exactly what we were, Cannon Fodder.
 

April 9, 1942. 
Bataan had been run over by the overwhelming odds of the Japanese Army.
 

May 5, 1942. Wed. 2230 hrs. 
The alert was sounded to repel boarders. The Japanese had landed and where? Right on top of us stragglers. Now I know this was not planned, but none the less, it happened that way. The battled raged until we were told the next morning to resist until NOON, strip our guns and dispose of them and surrender. However, by 1000 hrs. this morning, we knew the end had come, after all my Enfield was no match for the TANKS that had followed the Infantry ashore and stomped us into the ground. As all of this was happening, a big shell dropped in on top of us. A small piece of shrapnel hit my left ankle and the concussion stunned me. We had been subjected to seven days and nights of constant bombing, shelling and strafing without a let up of any kind. Food and water was very short in supply and had been for the past few months. The Japanese wasted their time invading us. If they had waited a few more days, we would have finished starving to death. This is the GODS Truth. In my opinion, this was one of the contributing factors of why so many of the POW's died so early after the surrender on Bataan and Corregidor.
 

As a result of the enemy action, we were awarded the Philippine Defense Medal, The US Army Distinguished Unit Badge, with Oak Leaf Cluster covering the period of March 31, 1942 through April 9, 1942 and April 29, 1942 through May 6, 1942. I was also award the Purple Heart Medal for wounds received in action on May 6, 1942.

I don't know how long I was in this stupor, some time later, I came to. My rifle had been fired for so long and so many times, that the protective wood around the barrel showed signs of being charred by the heat of this rapid firing. A Japanese soldier was nudging me with his bayonet and pointing in the direction of the 92nd Field Artillery garage. I didn't think I could, but he convinced me otherwise. We were all moved to this location to await further developments. General Sharp of the US B17's on Mindanao would not surrender, so the Japanese Bombers hovered overhead above us about 12,000 ft. and he was told to surrender or the war on us would resume again. General Sharp complied immediately.

The shrapnel in my ankle was killing me by this time. A Corpsman from the USS Luzon, a river boat from China, removed this sliver from my ankle with a pair of needle nose pliers. He sewed the wound up, using needle and thread from a sewing kit one of my friends had on him.
 

May 23, 1942. 
It rained all night, however it hadn't rained once since the fighting began in Dec., 1941. May 24, 1942. We were moved to some Japanese transports to carry us to Manila and into Bilibid Prison. I had a new blanket slung around my shoulder. A Japanese soldier on the small craft ferrying us to the transports swapped my new blanket for one that was full of holes. I thought this was a real good deal. HE WAS VERY Convincing.
 

May 25, 1942. 
The transports got under way instead of tying up to the docks in to port area, they went way out on Dewey Blvd. and dumped us off into the water. Now these were conventional landing craft and they could have went right onto the beach, but this was more fun. OLE Lucky me, I was number One man in the front rank, right behind some cavalry horses. This was also a lot of fun. We made the Victory March from this point into Bilibid Prison.
 

May 27, 1942. 
We were Marched to the railroad tracks, to be hauled to Cabanatuan to the POW Camps. These box cars were the narrow gauge type, groups of one hundred men each were crowded into them to wait transportation to our new home. There was no ventilation and several of us were almost overcome by heat exhaustion. We unloaded and stayed in a very crowded enclosure for the night.
 

May 28, 1942, 500 hrs. 
We were fed some rice and started a twenty five kilometer march without food or water. Now this is quite a chore, because all of us had diarrhea. Many of us were recovering from wounds, also a great number had malaria. In general, we were a sorry lot. At 1400 hrs., we arrived at Camp Number Three. Some one tossed me a canteen of water, I drank all of it and threw it back to him. What a Life Saver. Several men died in the next day or so from heat exhaustion as a result of these two ordeals. After we arrived at the camp, four men walked out the front gate and as they walked down the middle of the road, they were apprehended and brought back to camp. They were tied to some corner posts for the next two days without food or water.
 

May 30, 1942. 
We witnessed our first execution of these four men. During the next two months, many, many of the POW's would die of disease.
 

July 28 1942. 
Three hundred of us were assembled with orders to go back to Bilibid in Manila to be further assigned to construct Air Bases.
 

July 29, 1942. 
We marched down to the docks and boarded Japanese transports to be moved to Puerto Princessa, Palawan Philippine Islands. August 1, 1942. The ship docked at our destination and we were billeted in a deserted Philippine Army Scout barracks. From our physical immobility during the stay in Cabanatuan, we were so weak, it was almost impossible to work. We were immediately introduced to the VITAMIN STICK, now one of these is adequate incentive to work. As a result of this hard labor, our hands were bloody pulps form using the Juji (pick ax) and the IMPI (shovel). We worked almost naked in this boiling hot sun for the next twenty seven months. We constructed a 1200 meter landing strip with turn tables at each end. The jungle had to be cleared. Try cutting down coconut, mahogany and bamboo clusters with primitive hand tools. Making cuts and fills with the Juji and Impi. Moving the soil in hand operated push carts on small light narrow rails.
 

Early Aug. 1944. 
A note was thrown to one of our POW's that was working in a shed across the street form our barracks. The note stated they were McLaughlin, Martin, and Poston, survivors from a US Submarine that had been sunk about a month ago a few miles off the west coast of Palawan. They have no idea where they are now.
 

August 14, 1944. 
We came in from work and were told to line up in two ranks, ten paces apart. The first rank was told to go inside the barracks and pack our gear, we were going back to Bilibid in Manila. There was 309 POW's in camp. Nine were classified as sick and the other one hundred and fifty was in the first rank with me. We marched down to the Japanese transport and went aboard. Little known to us, Admiral Halsey's seventh fleet of Carriers and Admiral Spruance's submarines, were sinking almost all shipping and all war crafts in the Philippines. We continued to work from the hold of the ship for the next month.
 

Sept. 15. 1944. 
The ship got underway for Manila, arriving late in the day of Sept. 18, and we debarked the next morning marching off to Bilibid prison. Sept. 20, 1944. Gad, PAY DAY. Being a non commissioned officer I was paid fifteen centavos per working day. Sixty per cent was invested in Japanese War Savings. and the other 40 per cent was paid in cash. With my twenty seven pesos, I bought one coconut. Now one might surmise that I was grossly over paid for my 27 months of hard labor in Palawan. After all, a coconut is a coconut.
 

Sept. 21, 1944. 
One hundred and seventy planes from Admiral Halsey's seventh fleet carrier task force bombed Manila. The port area was severely damaged as well as the Clark Field installation. Many gun emplacements throughout the city were rendered useless. Some were so close to Bilibid that debris from the bombing rained down on us inside, injuring several POW's.
 

Sept. 22, 1944. 
More of the Same. These planes sank Japanese transports carrying POW's from Malay to Japan. The survivors were brought to Bilibid.
 

Oct. 1, 1944. 
Our group of 1,000 men were numbered, lined up and ready to march down to the docks to board a transport bound for Japan. We were scheduled for a very large, modern ocean liner for this voyage. As Usual, we would be crammed in a lower hold of the ship like rats. A Japanese colonel pulled rank on our Japanese Major, waiving us to one side. There was 1856 POW's in his group. Our 1000 was up to 1165 by adding the 165 survivors of the transport that was sunk by Admiral Halsey's planes. There was possibly 1200 POW's on board the ship that had been sunk. As you can see, not too many souls survived these bombings and strafings.
 

We marched down to the dock and were put on a small miserable ship City of Sidney captured from Australia, for our voyage to Japan. We were stuffed into two holds of this ship and told to make our selves comfortable as the trip would take twelve days. Pea coal had been placed across the bottom to make it about level. There was absolutely no room to lay down, just sit. Bodies on all sides touched each other, and also, there was absolutely no ventilation.
 

Oct. 8, 1944. 
The northern coast of Luzon, Philippine Islands. This is my Birthday. We were in a convoy of ten ships heading for Japan. Late in the afternoon, an oil tanker off our starboard bow was struck by a torpedo. It was so close to us, the spray and debris was strewn on the decks of our ship. God it looked like the end was at long last in sight. We were all so miserable, many of us welcomed the chance to end it all by going to the bottom with the ship, because we already knew it was impossible for us to get out of the hold of the ship if it was sunk.
 

We had been getting one canteen of water a day, but when the submarine attacks began, the water was shut off. We were smack dab in the middle of a large Japanese battle fleet. But they were no deterrent to the US Submarines. The submarines had a job to do and they did it. We were without water for about 40 hrs. the bad part was, over half of the men had water before the attack, and the others had not. This created a horrible situation. People that had water were reluctant to share, because there was no reason to believe the rations would start again. Men started dying from the lack of water, dehydration, dysentery and other causes began to take it toll. We changed course and headed for Hong Kong as a haven of safety.

A friend, Zigman Budjac, even though he did not get his water ration either, shared a small amount that he had saved from the day before. He rationed it out, a teaspoon full at a time to both of us. Had it not been for Ziggie, I would not be here today writing this account of the most bizarre ocean voyage imaginable, that is a testimony of mans inhumanity to man. A typical reveille consisted of yelling, shake the man next to you and start sending up the dead bodies. In situations like these, it is imperative to have a friend you can trust your very life with. Before you can have a friend, you have got to be an absolute unselfish friend.
 

Oct. 13, 1944. 
The ship anchored in Hong Kong harbor just in time for some US P-51 fighter/bombers to start their strafing and bombing runs over us. We would go back to sea only to run into the US Submarines again. These seesaw tactics grew very frustrating. One night a large flight of US B-24 heavy bombers made runs over the Ship repair facilities as well as selected parts of the city. These air alerts continued as long as we were in the harbor.
 

The large ocean liner previously mentioned with the 1856 allied POW's on board was sunk in the US Submarine attack and I do not know how many survivors there were, but we got four, Bender, Warrant officer US Navy, Brodsky, Sgt., Hughes, Private, and ---,---, the last three were US Army personnel. There was a great many Japanese Nationals as well as a large contingent of Japanese Military personnel on board.
 

Nov. 5, 1944. 
We sailed for Toroku Formosa, Taiwan and arrived three days later. The ship was ordered out to sea because Nov. 8, 1944 was election day in the States. This twelve day voyage grew to thirty nine days and we had already buried at sea the same amount of our ship mates.
 

Nov. 9, 1944. 
We sailed back into port and disembarked, marching to a small compound. During our three months stay here, we worked in a sugar mill and on the vegetable farm. Our stay here will give us our first glimpse of the US B-29, Super Fortress bombers. God!! were they Big.
 

We remained here, working in the sugar mill and on the farm until Jan 24, 1945. We boarded a train and traveled from Toroku to Shirakawa on the northern end of the island. We were put in groups of one hundred. And as luck would have it, one of the POW's died. He was Pvt. Hughes, one of survivors of the large ship that was sunk by torpedoes. We had to have him in the ranks every time we were counted (Bango). The bango appears to be the national pass time of the Japanese Army. If they don't know what to do, have a bango. We carried him on the train until arriving at Shirakawa where he was cremated. Whooee!! what a stinker he had become.
 

Jan. 25, 1945 
We boarded a Japanese transport and the next day we were given physical examinations. Over 700 of the POW's had sleeping sickness. They left the ship for a destination unknown. While we were along side of the dock, a US P-51 fighter/bomber made a bombing run over us and dropped four of the largest bombs I had ever seen. A Chaplain on board gave us all the Last Rights of the Sacrament as the bombs were falling. The bombs landed on the ship next to us, ripping it in half. Later our ship was hit with one bomb, causing the survivors to be moved to another transport. We moved to the outer harbor and anchored, and waited about four more days for a convoy to make up so we could sail for Japan.

Part Two: from: February 14, 1945 to: September 20, 1945 Prisoner of War in Japan - Guilty by association...
 

Feb. 14, 1945. 
We arrived in Moji, Japan. We almost froze to death. Finally a Japanese Officer issued us over coats and told us we were going to Tokyo. These coats come in real handy as the only clothes we had were the very light things we wore in the Philippines.


Feb. 15, 1945 
Late Evening, we boarded a train bound for Tokyo. This was a long ride.
 

Feb. 17, 1945. 
We arrived in Kawasaki, which is across the river from Tokyo and we were assigned to the Tokyo War Prisoners Camp number 23D. It sure was cold, snow was on the ground and ice cycles were hanging from the eaves of the barracks roof. We took off all our clothes and all of our belongings were boiled to kill the lice and in general, just sterilize everything.
 

Feb. 19, 1945. 
Admiral Halsey's Carrier planes strafed and bombed every thing in our area causing considerable damage. Kawasaki was a heavy manufacturing, and chemical complex plants. Just the right ingredients to cause heavy bombing raids quite often. The US Marines were landing on Iwo Jima. Little did we know the havoc they would rain down on us in just a few short weeks.

March 8-9, 1945 1100-0130 hrs. 

USAAF General LeMay's B29 incendiary bombing of Tokyo and Kawasaki consisted of three hundred and thirty four of these large SuperForts. We were right in the middle of all this planned arson. Eighty three thousand people were killed and over forty thousand injured, plus total destruction of a large part of the cities. A gale type wind was also blowing, fanning the fires as they burned. It is utterly unbelievable the amount of destruction and loss of life a fire storm of this magnitude can cause. The plant where I worked, Kagaku (formerly Suzuki) was totally destroyed. It appears these planes come so close to the ground, we could talk to the air crewmen. The more we yelled, the more they bombed us. Boy, did they have fun. You could say there was a hot time in the old town that night. It was this area, not Hiroshima or Nagasaki, where the most loss of life and destruction took place. While I'm not down grading the destruction power of the Atomic bomb, there are other means to cause greater damage in a war.
 

April 1, 1945, NOON. 
The small fighter/bombers started operating from the newly acquired landing strips on Iwo Jima, hitting us before the air raid alarms could be sounded. Now this was a new type of warfare we had to contend with. Hit and Run at will with little or no opposition. This was the first time we saw the planes firing rockets. This became unbearable as they strafed and bombed us. After all, we were the Enemy, and didn't practice discrimination. Weren't we working in the Japanese Defense plants, and investing in Japanese War savings bonds? This area was finally designated as having no further strategic value, so the bombings became sporadic in the next few months. 

June 1, 1945, 0800 hrs. 
You guessed it, another march. This would be our last move. We were transferred to the Tokyo War Prisoners Camp number 1. We continued working at Kagaku, doing salvage and clean up work on the premise.
 

August 15, 1945, 1200hrs. 
Over 1700 carrier born planes plus a whole sky full of B-29 super-forts blacked out the sky. We were told to sit down and the Emperor of Japan had a message for the Nation. When he started speaking, we understood what he was saying. He told us we had lost the war and were to resist no longer. We marched back to the camp, and strangely enough, the next morning the Japanese guards were no longer in our camp.
 

August 16, 1945, 0800 hrs. 
Civilian overseers came into the camp along with a Swedish representative to inspect the camp and to tend to the sick and wounded. We were instructed to remilitarize ourselves, what ever that meant. We had a USN Captain and a few Chief Petty Officers to help organize the foreign Nationals, as well as our own people in groups so that we would be ready to be liberated when the cease fire was at last finalized. Colonel Sakabaru, Imperial Japanese Army Commandant of all POW's in the area stated he would place the Japanese soldiers on duty outside the camp confines to protest us from any possible civilian uprisings. We did not know if some hot head existed that would create a disturbance. Anywhere in the sky that I looked, I could see our planes and felt safe enough.
 

There were no incidents. Our Senior Officer, USN Captain Davidson and myself along with some other Chief Petty Officers went on inspection tours of the other POW facilities in our sector. All was quiet and no one was in danger of life and limb. The B-29's started dropping food, medical supplies and clothing. The Japanese civilians helped us to round up these things and bring them into the camps. We all got sick from eating all that rich food and had to stop eating it for a while. They dropped everything but ice-cream.

Aug. 17, 1945, 0800 hrs. 
The new civilian overseers cashed in our War savings bonds and gave us a regulation Japanese Army hair cut. This consists of clipping off all the hair on the head. Boy, with all that money in my pockets a little of Y30, and a hair cut I felt like a new man. For the next two weeks we just lazed around the camp, reminiscing, just waiting for the day of Jubilee.
 

Sept. 2, 1945, 0800 hr. 
Word came down to proceed to the docks and await landing crafts to take us out to the USS Benevolence, a hospital ship. In the late afternoon, a landing party, headed by USN Commander Stassen, arrived and carried us out to the USS Lansdown DD-856 for supper. Wieners and sauerkraut, boiled potatoes and ice cream. After supper, we were taken to the USS Benevolence.
 

Now talk about the uninvited guests. We were treated with disdain and scorned. God Damn, we could walk. The bunks were forbidden to us on those grounds. It gets cold in Tokyo Bay in September at night, and boy this was night time. We finally got some blankets and a few cots but we still had to sleep on the deck outside. The next morning we were herded back to the fan tail of the ship where the sterilizer was located. All belongings were placed inside and the steam turned on. It was still damp and chilly, now this is no place to be walking around with no clothes on. Someone started calling off the Foreign National's names and had them fall in to be sent to their own jurisdiction on other ships in the bay. After all foreigners had been culled out, and this took several hours, we were told to go below and get some clothes issued to us. Later in the day we were sent to an LSV, the USS Hovey, for transportation to the States. I ran into a friend of my earlier submarine days named John Perks, a USN Chief Warrant Officer. He gave me one of his old uniforms to wear on my way home. I was very grateful for this act of kindness as all I had on was a pair of dungarees. The next day he told me Admiral Halsey had ordered three planes to fly a small token number of us home. On board was the Submarine Commander that had been awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor and the Admiral wanted him sent to Washington, DC, so that President Truman could make the presentation to him. Commander O'Kane was the Commanding Officer of the USS Tang SS-306, this submarine was a one ship task force and caused tremendous damage to a convoy single handed. The last torpedo fired made a circular run, sinking the USS Tang. His submarine had sunk 13 ships in this large convoy.
 

Commander O'Kane was having some kind of medical problem and the ships doctor would not certify him for air travel. Hicks told me he would be the Officer of the Deck when the 96 names were to be called off to go to the Haneda Air Port. He said if the doctor did not allow the Commander to leave the ship he would call my name and for me to jump in the landing craft as if everything was all right.
 

The USS Peavy would not arrive in San Francisco until October.

As I was browsing through a copy of News Week magazine, I learned the fate of the 150 friends we lad left behind in Palawan. The Japanese spotted a large invasion fleet they thought was to invade them, they sounded the air alarm and put all POW's in the air raid shelter. They then tossed gasoline and a torch inside the shelter and when the POW's came out, they were shot and bayoneted. Only eleven survived and escaped to our own forces that had infiltrated the area. The others are buried in a common grave in the State of Missouri.
 

September 4, 1945 
Late afternoon. We took off from the Hanead Air Port and the pilot said he would make a wide circle over the area so we could see all of the destruction and realize how lucky we were to still be alive. For many miles in each direction, all that was still standing were some metal or concrete smoke stacks that had not been blown down by the bombs. It was unbelievable how much damage had been reeked on Tokyo, Kawasaki, and Yokahama. If the rest of Japan looked like this area, with winter coming on, I think I know how Napoleon's troops felt in Moscow. This area had been reduced from a primary strategic bombing target to one of little or no value as a target of any kind. We arrived early the next morning in Guam, immediately upon landing, this is what we heard. "Fall In, Get a Move on, We got to Interrogate All of You. You gotta make out depositions." We didn't hear any one say would you like a coke or a beer, or maybe send a message home to let the folks know we had made it to safety. Now I know they were all busy, but wasn't the fighting done and wasn't it time to relax and think of someone else? We were then sent to the field hospital for a bath and physical, and clearance for the next leg of our flight to the States.
 

September 6, 1945. 
The next morning we took off for Palmyra, Kwajalein, and Johnston Island enroute to Pearl Harbor.
 

September 7, 1945. 
We arrived at Pearl Harbor and stayed in the hospital for the next two nights. During our stay here all submarine POW's were taken to the Submarine base and awarded Purple Heart Medals for wounds received in the fighting on Bataan and Corregidor, Philippine Island in the early part of the war. Oh, Yes, I also received three months pay, a whopping $434.00.
 

September 8, 1945, 1800 hrs. 
We boarded a PBY (USN pontoon type plane and headed for the Naval Air Station at Alemeda, California. September 9, 1945, late evening. We were sent to the US Naval Hospital Oak Knoll, at Oakland, California. We stayed here for the next eight days. We were taken to a clothing store and bought new uniforms and other items of wearing apparel and in general just did a lot of goin' ashore and doin' what sailors do.
 

September 17, 1945, 0800. 
Boarded a plane for Oletha, Kansas to stay for the night. 

September 18, 1945, 0800. 
Flew to Norman, Oklahoma to the US Naval Hospital.
 

September 19, 1945, 0800. 
In compliance with a Navy Department Directive, I was advance to Chief Machinists Mate, Permanent Appointment. Now this was a joke, the effective date was March 1, 1943, for all purposes except pay. In those days, all CPO's were required to serve one year, on a sea going vessel or foreign station as Acting Appointee before being advanced to Permanent Appointment. The Commanding Officer's recommendation was also required. Japanese CO's did not apply in the situation.

September 20, 1945, 0800. 
Departed on 90 Days rehabilitation leave with orders to report to the Commandant of the Eighth Naval District in New Orleans, La. and upon completion of the leave for further assignment to a permanent duty station.
 

One further comment by Mr. Henderson: 
While on leave, another article caught my eye, of the 235,473 United States and the United Kingdom prisoners reported captured by Germany and Italy together, only 4 percent (9,348) died in the hands of their captors, whereas 27 percent of Japan's Anglo-American POW's (35,756 of 132,134) did not survive. It did not take much imagination on my part to realize that my chances of survival from December 8, 1941 to September 2, 1945, had as much chance as a snowball in hell.

I know: I've been in Hell.  

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Email: G. Crew
glen@powerup.com.au

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