2nd Lt. Harry B. Black was
the son of Harry S. Black & Alta Drain-Black
and born in June 10, 1917, and with his brother,
he was raised in Carlton and at 620 Southeast
Douglas Avenue in Roseburg, Oregon. His
family called him "Burton" to avoid confusion with
his father, but he was known as "Harry" to his
friends. He attended school in Roseburg, and
after high school, he attended and graduated from
Oregon State College in 1940.
On July 12,
1941, Harry was called to active duty from the
Army reserve and became a member of the 194th Tank
Battalion as it prepared to leave Fort Lewis,
Washington. Harry was in charge of a platoon
in the half-track reconnaissance section of the
battalion. In September 1941, Harry left the
United States with his battalion for the
On August 15, 1941, orders were issued from Ft.
Knox, Kentucky, to the 194th for duty in the
Philippines because of an event that happened
during that summer. A squadron of American
fighters were flying over Lingayen Gulf when one
of the pilots noticed something odd. He took
his plane down and identified a buoy in the
water. He came upon more buoys that lined
up, in a straight line, in the direction of an
Japanese occupied island. When the squadron
landed he reported what he had seen. The
next morning, when another squadron flew to the
area, the buoys had been picked up and a fishing
boat was seen heading toward shore. Since
communication was poor between the Air Corps and
Navy, the boat was not intercepted. It was
at that time the decision was made to build up the
American military presence in the Philippines.
The battalion was ordered
to San Francisco, California, and arrived at 7:30
A.M. on September 4th and ferried, on the U.S.A.T.
General Frank M. Coxe to Ft. McDowell on
Angel Island, where they received physicals and
inoculations. Those who had health issues
were held back and replaced by other
soldiers. They boarded the S.S.
President Calvin Coolidge and sailed to the
Philippine Islands at 9:00 P.M. on September
8th. The soldiers were quartered in the hold
of the ship while the officers slept in wardrooms
shared by four officers. At 7:00 A.M. on
Saturday, September 13th, the ship arrived at
Honolulu, Hawaii, and the soldiers were allowed
ashore, but had to be on board the ship before the
the ship sailed at 5:00 P.M.
After leaving Hawaii, the
ship was joined by, heavy cruiser, the U.S.S.
Astoria and an unknown destroyer. On
several occasions smoke was seen on the horizon
and the cruiser revved its engines up and took off
in the direction of the smoke. Each time,
the ship belonged to a friendly country. The
ships arrived in Manila Bay on Friday, September
26th, in the morning, but the soldiers did not
disembark until 3:00 P.M. The battalion,
minus itís maintenance section, rode buses to Ft.
Stotsenburg. The maintenance section, and
17th Ordnance, remained behind on the pier to
unload the tanks and reattach the turrets which
had been removed so that the tanks would fit in
the ship's hold.
The soldiers were greeted
by Colonel Edward King who apologized to them that
they had to live in tents. He made sure they
were settled into their bivouac before he left.
The first week of December
1941, the tankers were
ordered to Clark Field to
At all times, two members
of each tank crew or
half-track crew had to
remain with their tank or
The tank and half-track crews received their
meals from food trucks.
On December 8,
1941, December 7th in the United States, Harry
lived through the Japanese attack on Clark
Field. He spent the next four months
fighting the Japanese as they conquered the
Japanese attack on Clark Field, Harry was assigned
to the Headquarters of the Provisional Tank
Group. His job was that of liaison officer
between the tank group and the 194th.
During the Battle of Bataan, B
Company, 192nd Tank Battalion, had one second
lieutenant taken prisoner and another Killed in
Action. Being that the 194th had lost a
great number of tanks and could spare a platoon
commander, Harry was reassigned to B Company
as a tank platoon commander.
Over the next several months,
the battalion fought battle after battle with
tanks that were not designed for jungle
tank battalions , on January 28th, were
given the job of protecting the
beaches. The 192nd was assigned the
coast line from Paden Point to Limay along
Bataan's east coast. The Japanese
later admitted that the tanks guarding the
beaches prevented them from attempting
B Company also took part in the Battle of the
Pockets to wipe out Japanese soldiers who had
been trapped behind the main defensive
line. The tanks would enter the pocket
one at a time to replace a tank in the
pocket. Another tank did not enter the
pocket until a tank exited the pocket.
To exterminate the
Japanese, two methods were used. The
first was to have three Filipino soldiers ride
on the back of the tank. As the tank
went over a Japanese foxhole, the Filipinos
dropped three hand grenades into the
foxhole. Since the grenades were from
WWI, one out of three usually exploded.
The other method to use to
kill the Japanese was to park a tank with one
track over the foxhole. The driver gave
the other track power resulting with the tank
spinning around and grinding its way down into
the foxhole. The tankers slept upwind of
For the next
four months, the tankers fought to slow the
Japanese conquest of the Philippines. The
night of April 8, 1942, the order "crash" was given
and the tankers were suppose to destroy their
tanks. The next morning, they were Prisoners
The company remained in its
bivouac until April 10 when the Japanese
arrived. Lawrence now was officially a
Prisoner of War. HQ Company was ordered the
next day, to move to the headquarters of the
Provisional Tank Group, which was at kilometer
marker 168.2. At 7:00 P.M. on the 10th, the
POWs were ordered to march. They made their
way from the former command post, and at first
found the walk difficult. When they reached
the main road, walking became easier. At
3:00 A.M., they were given an hour break before
being ordered to move again at 4:00 A.M. The
column reached Lamao at 8:00 A.M., where the POWs
were allowed to forage for food before marching
again at 9:00.
When the POWs reached Limay,
officers with ranks of major or higher, were
separated from the enlisted men and the lower
ranking officers. The higher ranking
officers were put on trucks and driven to Balanga
from where they march north to Orani. The
lower ranking officers and enlisted men reached
the barrio later in the day having march through
Abucay and Samal.
At 6:30 in the evening, the
POWs were ordered to form detachments of 100
men. Once this was done, they resumed the
trip north, but this time they were marched at a
faster pace and were given few breaks. When
they did receive a break, they had to sit in the
road until they were ordered to move.
When they were north of
Hermosa, the POWs reached pavement which made the
march easier. At 2:00 A.M., they received an
hour break, but any POW who attempted to lay down
was jabbed with a bayonet. After the break,
they were marched through Layac and Lurao.
It was at this time that a heavy shower took place
and many of the men opened their mouths in an
attempt to get water.
The men were marched until 4:00
P.M., when they reached San Fernando. Once
there, they were herded into a bull pen,
surrounded by barbwire, and put into groups of 200
men. One POW from each group went to the
cooking area which was next to the latrine, and
received a box of rice that was divided among
the men. Water was given out in a
similar manner with each group receiving a pottery
jar of water to share.
At 4:00 A.M., the Japanese woke
the men up and organized them into detachments of
100 men. From the compound, they were
marched to the train station, where they were
packed into small wooden boxcars known as "forty
or eights." Each boxcar could hold forty men
or eight horses, but the Japanese packed 100 men
into each car and closed the doors. The POWs
were packed in so tightly that the dead could not
fall to the floor. At Capas, as the living
left the cars and those who had died - during the
trip - fell to the floors of the cars. As
they left the cars, the Filipino civilians threw
sugarcane and gave the POWs water.
The POWs walked the last eight
kilometers to Camp O'Donnell which was an
unfinished Filipino Army Training Base. The
Japanese pressed the camp into use as a POW camp
on April 1, 1942. When they arrived at the
camp, the Japanese confiscated any extra clothing
that the POWs had and refused to return it to
them. They searched the POWs and if a man
was found to have Japanese money on them, they
were taken to the guardhouse. Over the next
several days, gunshots were heard to the southeast
of the camp. These POWs had been executed
There was only one water faucet
in the camp, and the prisoners stood in line from
two to eight hours waiting for a drink. The
Japanese guards at the faucet would turn it off
for no reason and the next man in line would stand
as long as four hours waiting for it to be turned
on again. This situation improved when a
second faucet was added.
There was no water for washing
clothes, so the POWs would throw out their
clothing when it had been soiled. In
addition, water for cooking had to be carried
three miles from a river to the camp and mess kits
could not be washed. The slit trenches in
the camp were inadequate and were soon overflowing
since most of the POWs had dysentery. The
result was that flies were everywhere in the camp
including the POW kitchens and in the food.
The camp hospital had no soap,
water, or disinfectant. When the ranking
American doctor at the camp wrote a letter to the
camp commandant, Capt. Yohio Tsuneyoshi, asking
for medical supplies, he was told never to write
The Archbishop of Manila sent a
truckload of medical supplies to the camp, the
Japanese commandant refused to allow the truck
into the camp. When the Japanese Red Cross
sent medical supplies the camp the Japanese took
95% of the supplies for their own use.
The POWs in the camp hospital
lay on the floor elbow to elbow and only one of
the six medic assigned to care for 50 sick POWs
was healthy enough to care for them. When a
representative of the Philippine Red Cross stated
they could supply a 150 bed hospital for the camp,
he was slapped in the face by a Japanese
Each morning, the bodies of the
dead were found all over the camp and were carried
to the hospital and placed underneath it.
The bodies lay there for two or three days before
they were buried in the camp cemetery by other
POWs who were suffering from dysentery and/or
malaria. To clean the ground under the
hospital, the ground was scraped and lime was
spread over it. The bodies of the dead were
placed in the area, and the area they had been
laying was scrapped and lime was spread over it.
Work details were sent out on a
daily basis. Each day, the American doctors
gave a list of names to the Japanese of the POWs
who were healthier enough to work. If the
quota of POWs needed to work could not be met, the
Japanese put those POWs who were sick, but could
walk, to work. The death rate among the POWs
reached 50 men dying a day. The Japanese
finally acknowledge that they had to do something,
so the opened a new POW camp at Cabanatuan.
On June 1, 1942, the POWs
formed detachments of 100 men each and were
marched to Capas. There, the were put in
steel boxcars with two Japanese guards. At
Calumpit, the train was switched onto another line
which took it to Cabanatuan. The POWs
disembarked and were taken to a schoolyard where
they were fed cooked rice and onion soup.
From there, they were marched to Cabanatuan which
had been the headquarters of the 91st Philippine
Army Division and was formerly known at Camp
Panagaian. At Cabanatuan, he was held
assigned to Barracks #29 which was an officers
To prevent escapes, the POWs
set up a detail that patrolled the fence of the
camp. The reason this was done was that
those who did escape and were caught, were
tortured before being executed, while the other
POWs were made to watch. It is believed that
no POW successfully escaped from the camp.
The POWs were sent out on work
details to cut wood for the POW kitchens.
Meals on a daily basis consisted of 16 ounces of
cooked rice, 4 ounces of vegetable oil, and sweet
potato or corn. Other POWs worked in rice
paddies. Each morning, after arriving at the
farm, the POWs went into a tool shed to get their
tools. As they left the shed, the guards hit
them on their heads. While working in the
fields, the favorite punishment given to the men
in the rice paddies was to have their faces pushed
into the mud and stepped on by a guard.
Returning from a detail the POWs bought, or were
given, medicine, food, and tobacco, which they
somehow managed to get into the camp even though
they were searched when they returned.
The camp hospital was composed
of 30 wards. The ward for the sickest POWs
was known as "Zero Ward," which got its name
because it had been missed when the wards were
counted. Each ward had two tiers of bunks
and could hold 45 men but often had as many as 100
men in each. The sickest men slept on the
bottom tier. Medical records from Cabanatuan
show that he was hospitalized on April 8,
1943. The records do not indicate why he was
hospitalized or when he was discharged.
December 12, 1944, the POWs heard rumors that a
detail was being sent out. The POWs went
through what was a farce of an inspection.
They were told cigarettes, soap, and salt would be
issued. The POWs were also told that they
would also receive a meal to eat and one to take
with them. The Japanese stated they would
leave by 7:00 in the morning, so the lights were
left on all night. At 4:00 a.m. the morning
of December 13th, Harry and the other POWs were
By 8:00, the POWs were lined up
roll call was taken and the names of the men
selected for transport to Japan were called.
The prisoners were allowed to roam the compound
until they were told to "fall-in." The men
were fed a meal and then marched to Pier 7 in
Manila. During the march down Luzon
Boulevard, the POWs saw that the street cars had
stopped running and many things were in disrepair.
The Americans saw
that the American bombers were doing a job on the
Japanese transports. There were at least forty
wrecked ships in the bay. When the POWs
reached Pier 7, there were three ships docked.
One was a old run down ship, the other two were
large and in good shape. They soon discovered
one of the two nicer ships was their ship.
It was at this time that the POWs
were allowed to sit down. Many of the POWs
slept until 3:45 in the afternoon. They were
awakened about 5:00 PM and boarded the Oryoku
Maru for transport to Japan.
The high ranking officers were the first put into
the ship's aft hold. Being the first on meant
that they would suffer many deaths. Around the
perimeter of the hold were two tiers of bunks for
the POWs. The heat was so bad that men soon
began to pass out. One survivor said, "The fist fights began when men
began to pass out. We knew that only the
front men in bay would be able to get enough
air." The POWs who were closer
to the hold's hatch used anything they could find to
fan air toward those further away from it.
The ship left Manila at 8:00 P.M. but spent
most of the night in Manila Bay. At 10:00
P.M., the Japanese interpreter threatened to have
the guards fire into the holds unless the POWs
stopped screaming. Some of the POWs fell
silent because they were exhausted, and others
because they had died. One major of the 26th
Cavalry stated the man next to him had lost his
mind. Recalling the conversation he had with
the man he said, "Worst was
the man who had gone mad but would not sit
still. One kept pestering me, pushing a
mess kit against my chest, saying, 'Have some of
this chow? It's good.' I smelled of it, it
was not chow. 'All right' he said, 'If you
don't want it. I'm going to eat it.' And a
little later I heard him eating it , right
At 3:30 A.M. it sailed as part of
the MATA-37 a convoy bound for Takao, Formosa.
The ships sailed without any lights out of the
bay. By the swells in the water, the POWs
could tell that the ship was in open water.
The cries for air began as the men lost discipline,
so the Japanese threatened to cover the holds and
cut off all air. When the Japanese sent down
fried rice, cabbage, and fried seaweed, those
further back from the opening got nothing.
The Japanese covered the holds
and would not allow the slop buckets to be taken out
of the holds. Those POWs who were left holding
the buckets at first asked for someone else to hold
it for awhile. When that did not work, they
dumped the buckets on the men around them.
As light began to enter the hold
as morning came, the POWs could see men who were in
stupors, men out of their minds, and men who had
died. The POWs in the aft hold which also had
a sub-hold, put the POWs who out of their minds into
On the side of the holds, water
had condensed on the walls so the POWs tried to
scrap it off the wall for a drink. The
Japanese did allow men who had passed out to be put
on deck, but as soon as they revived they went back
into the holds. The Japanese would not allow
the bodies of the men who had died to be removed
from the holds.
The POWs received their first
meal at dawn. Meals on the ship consisted of a
little rice, fish, some water, and three fourths of
a cup of water was shared by 20 POWs. It was
8:00 A.M., off the coast of Luzon, and the POWs had
just finished eating breakfast when they heard the
sound of guns. At first, they thought the gun
crews were just drilling, because they had not heard
any planes. It was only when the first bomb
hit in the water and the ship shook that they knew
it was not a drill.
At first it seemed that most of
the planes were attacking the other ships in the
convoy. Commander Frank Bridgit, had made his
way to the top of the ladder into the hold and sat
down. He gave the POWs a play by play of the
planes attacking, "I can
see two planes going for a freighter off our
starboard side. Now two more are detached
from the formation. I think they may be
coming for us."
The POWs heard the change in the
sound of the planes' engines as they began their
dives toward the ships in the convoy. Several
more bombs hit the water near the ship causing it to
rock Explosions were taking place all around
the ship. In an attempt to protect themselves,
the POWs piled baggage in front of them.
Bullets from the planes were ricocheted in the hold
causing many casualties.
Lt. Col. Elvin Barr of the 60th
Coast Artillery came up to Maj, John Fowler of the
26th Cavalry on the cargo deck and said, "There's a hole knocked in the
bulkheads down there. Between 30 and 40
men have already died down there."
Barr would never reach Japan. The attack by 30
to 50 planes lasted for about 20 to 30
minutes. When the planes were ran out of bombs
they strafed. Afterwards, the planes flew off,
returning to their carrier, and there was a lull of
about 20 to 30 minutes before the next squadron of
planes appeared over the ships and resumed the
attack. This pattern repeated itself over and
over during the day.
In the hold, the POWs concluded
that the attacking planes were concentrating on the
bridge of the ship. They noted that the planes
had taken out all the anti-aircraft guns leaving
only .30 caliber machine guns to defend the ship.
At 4:30 P.M., the ship went
through the worse attack on it. It was hit at
least three times by bombs on its bridge and
stern. Most of the POWs, who were wounded,
were wounded by ricocheting bullets and shrapnel
from exploding bombs. During the attack
Chaplain Cummings, a Catholic priest, led the POWs
in the Our Father. As they prayed, the bombs
that exploded near the ship sent torrents of water
over the ship. Bullets from the planes hit the
metal plates, of the haul, at an angle that
prevented most of them from penetrating the
haul. Somewhere on the ship a fire started,
but it was put out after several hours. The
POWs lived through seven or eight attacks before
sunset. Overall, six bombs hit the ship.
One hit the stern of the ship killing many POWs.
At dusk, the ship raised anchor
and headed east. It turned south and turned
again this time heading west. The next turn it
made was north. It headed in this direction for a
good amount of time before dropping anchor at about
8:00 P.M. The POWs figured out that they had
just sailed in a circle. What had happened is
that the ship's had been hit during the attack and
the ship could not be steered.
Sometime after midnight, the POWs
heard the sound of the Japanese civilians being
evacuated from the ship. During the night, the
POW medics were ordered onto the deck to treat the
Japanese wounded. One medic recalled that the
dead, dying, and wounded were everywhere.
The ship reached Subic Bay at
2:30 in the morning and steamed closer to the beach
where its anchor was dropped. At 4:00 A.M.,
the POWs were told that they would disembark at
daybreak at a pier. The moaning and muttering
of POWs who were losing their minds kept the POWs up
all night. That night 25 POWs died in the
It was December 15 and the POWs
sat in the ship's holds for hours after dawn.
The first 35 POWs were taken out of the hold and
went into the water. At 8:00 A.M. as the other
POWs waited, the sound of A Japanese guard yelled
into the hold at the POWs,
"All go home; speedo!" He
shouted that the wounded would be the first to be
evacuated. Suddenly, he looked up and shouted,
"Planes, many planes!"
As the POWs were abandoning ship the planes returned
and continued the attack. The ship bounced in
the water from the explosions. Chief Boatswain
Clarence M. Taylor who was in the water said, "I saw
the whole thing. A bomb fall, hit near the stern
hatch, and debris go flying up in the air."
In the hold, the POWs crowded
together. Chips of rust fell on them
from the ceiling. After the raid, they took
care of the wounded before the next attack
started. In the hold a Catholic priest, Father
Duffy, began to pray,
"Father forgive them. They know not what
The Japanese guards and
interpreter had abandoned ship, but the ship's
captain remained on board. He told the POWs -
with his limited English - that they needed to get
off the ship to safety. The POWs made their
way over the side and into the water. As they
swam to shore, the Japanese fired at them, with
machine guns, to prevent them from escaping.
Four of the planes flew low over
the water above the POWs. The POWs waved
frantically at the planes so they would not be
strafed. The planes banked and flew lower over
the POWs. This time the pilots dipped their
wings to show that they knew the men in the water
were Americans. About a half hour later, the
ship began to really burn and the bodies of the dead
could be seen on the decks.
The Japanese sent out a motorboat
with a machine gun and snipers on it. The POWs
attempting to escape were hunted down and
shot. It is believed as many as 30 men died in
There was no real beach, so the
POWs climbed up on a seawall and found the the
Japanese Naval Landing Party had set up a machine
gun and had just laid flat to rest when the gun
opened up on them. Those who came ashore
were warned to stay in the water, but only did so
when one man climbed up on the seawall and was
wounded. There were also Japanese snipers in
wait to shoot anyone who attempted to escape.
The POWs were gathered together
and marched to the tennis court at Olongapo Naval
Station which was about 500 yards from the
beach. There, they were herded onto a tennis
court and roll call was taken. It was
discovered 329 of the 1,619 POWs who had boarded the
ship had died. The Japanese packed 1300 of the
POWs on the court with 100 wounded POWs taking up a
great amount of room at one end. They could
barely sit down and only lay down by lying partially
on another man.
While the POWs were at Olongapo,
a Japanese officer, Lt. Junsaburo Toshio, told the
ranking American officer, Lt. Col. E. Carl
Engelhart, that those too badly wounded to continue
the trip would be returned to Bilibid. Fifteen
men were selected and loaded onto a truck.
They were taken into the mountains and never seen
again. What was learned is that these men were
taken to a cemetery and shot. They were buried
at a cemetery nearby. The remainder of the
POWs remained on the tennis courts for five or six
days. During that time, they were given water
but not fed.
The POWs remained on the tennis
courts for nine days. During their time
on the tennis courts, American planes attacked the
area around them. The POWs watched as the
planes came in vertically releasing their bombs as
they pulled up from their dives. The POWs
watched as the planes went into dives and released
their bombs as they pulled out of their dives.
On several occasions, the planes dove right at the
POWs, dropped their bombs, and pulled out. The
bombs drifted over the POWs and landed away from
them exploding on contact.
Since the POWs had no place to
hide, they watched enjoyed the show. They
believed that the pilots knew they were Americans
but had no way of knowing if this was true.
But what is known is that not one bomb was dropped
on them even though they could be seen from the
The evening of December 16th, 50
kilo bags of rice. About half of the
rice had fallen out of the bags because of
holes. Each POW was given three spoons of raw
rice, and a quarter of a spoon of salt.
At about 8:00 AM on the morning
of December 22, 22 trucks arrived at the tennis
court. Rumors flew on where they were going to
be taken. At about 4:00 PM, a Taiwanese guard
told the POWs, in broken English,"No go Cabanatuan. Go Manila;
maybe Bilibid." The guard knew
as little as the POWs.
On December 21, the POWs were
taken by truck to San Fernando, Pampanga, arriving
there about four or five in the afternoon.
Once there, they were put in a movie theater.
Since it was dark, the POWs saw as a dungeon.
During their time at in the
barrio, the POWs lived through several air
raids. The reason for the air raids was the
barrio was military headquarters for the area.
Most of the civilians had been moved out of the
barrio. Many of the Americans began to
believe they had been taken there so that they would
be killed by their own countrymen.
At 10:00 P.M. on December 23, the
Japanese interpreter came and spoke to the ranking
American officer about moving the POWs. The
Japanese loaded the seriously ill POWs into a
truck. Those remaining behind believed they
were taken to Bilibid. The remaining POWs were
moved to a trade school building in the barrio.
The POWs were taken to the
train station on December 24 at 10:00 A.M. The
POWs saw that the station had been hit by bombings
and that the cars they were to board had bullet
holes in them from strafing. 180 to 200 were
packed into steel boxcars with four guards.
The doors of the boxcars were kept closed and the
heat in the cars was terrible. Ten to fifteen
POWs rode on the roofs of the cars along with two
guards. The guards told these POWs that it was
okay to wave to the American planes.
On December 25, the POWs
disembarked from the train at San Fernando, La
Union, at 2:00 A.M. They walked two kilometers
to a school yard on the southern outskirts of the
barrio. From December 25 until the 26.
The POWs were held in a school house. The
morning of December 26, the POWs were marched to a
beach. During this time the prisoners were
allowed one handful of rice and a canteen of
water. The heat from the sun was so bad that
men drank seawater. Many of those men
The remaining POWs were
boarded onto a second ship, the Enoura Maru,
On this ship, the POWs were held in three different
holds. The ship had been used to haul
cattle. The POWs were held in the same stalls
that the cattle had been held in. In the lower
hold, the POWs were lined up in companies of 108
men. Each man had four feet of space.
Men who attempted to get fresh air by climbing the
ladders were shot by the guards.
The daily routine for the POWs on
the ship was to have six men go on deck and pull up
the dead by rope. They also pulled up the
buckets of human waste. Afterwards, the men on
deck would lower ten buckets containing rice, soup,
and tea that had been prepared by other POWs
assigned to cook.
During the night of December 30,
the POWs heard the sound of depth charges exploding
in the water. The ship arrived at Takao,
Formosa, on December 31 and docked around 11:30
AM. After arriving at Takao, Formosa, each POW
received a six inch long, 3/4 inch wide piece
hardtack to eat. This was the first bread they
had since receiving crackers in their Red Cross
packages in 1942. During the time in the harbor, the
POWs received little water. From January 1
through 5, the POWs received one meal and day and
very little water. This resulted in the death
rate among the POWs to rise. On January 6, the
POWs began to receive two meals a day.
The Enoura Maru was
attacked by American planes the morning of January
9, 1945. The POWs were receiving their first
meal of the day, when the sound of ship's machine
guns was heard. The explosions of bombs
falling closer and closer to the ship was also
heard. The waves created from the explosions
rocked the ship.
One bomb hit the ship and
exploded in the corner of the forward hold killing
285 prisoners. The Japanese would not allow
the POWs to remove the dead from the ship's
holds. One Navy Seaman recalled, "I shall never forget the
prayer that Father (Cummings) asked that night
after the bombing, when the Japs would not let
us move the bodies. Before many men had
not paid no attention, but this night the minute
he stood up there was absolute silence. I
guess it was the first real and complete silence
that there had been since we left Manila. Even
the deranged fellows were quiet.
"And I remember what is
opening words were. He said, 'O God
-- O God, please grant that tomorrow that we
will be spared from being bombed.'
thing he did was to lead us in the Lords
Prayer. I think every man there , even the
unbalanced ones, manged to repeat at least some
of the words after him." The
surviving POWs remained in the hold for three days
with the dead, and the stench from the dead filled
On January 11 a work detail was formed
and about half the dead were removed from the
hold. The dead were unloaded from the ship on
a barge and taken to shore. The POWs were too
weak to carry them bodies, so ropes were tied to the
legs and the corpses were dragged ashore. POW
detail of thirty men took the corpses to a large
furnace where they were cremated. These men
reported that 150 POWs had been cremated.
Their ashes were buried in a large urn. Later
in the day, the survivors of the forward hold were
moved into another hold.
The living were left on the ship
and began to steal sugar from the middle hold of the
ship. The Japanese officer, Lt. Toshino,
wanted those stealing sugar turned into in and
threatened to starve the POWs. Lt. Col. Curtis
Beecher, U.S.M.C. called the officers together and
said, "We've got to have
two men who are willing to go up and offer
themselves as hostages for all the others.
I don't have any idea what Toshino and Wada will
order done to those men. They may have
them shot. I just don't know.
"The only thing I can
promise is this, if they survive whatever the
Japs do to them, I will see to it that they are
taken care of and don't go without food the rest
of the trip."
An English sergeant and a husky
medic volunteered and sent on deck. Each man
was repeatedly beaten and if he passed out, he was
slapped until he regained consciousness. When
the Japanese were finished, the men were thrown back
into the hold. Both men survived, but would
later die in Japan.
The surviving POWs were moved to
a third ship, the Brazil Maru on Saturday,
January 13. The ship sailed at dawn on the 14 as
part of a convoy. Sometime afternoon, the POWs
received their first meal of a quarter cup of red
rice for each POW. The POWs found the first
night on the ship was extremely cold. What
made it worse was that most of the POWs had
dysentery. During the trip, the POWs
received two meals a day which consisted of each man
receiving a third of a cup of rice and eight
teaspoons of tea.
During this part of the trip, as
many as 30 POWs died each day. The ship also towed
one or two other ships which had been damaged.
Of the original 1619 men that boarded the Oryoku
Maru, only 459 of the POWs had survived the trip to
ship's arrival in Japan, Harry was sent to Fukuoka
#1D, where on February 11, 1945, he died from
dysentery. After he died, Harry's remains
were cremated. His ashes were put in an
urn,with the ashes of other POWs, and given to the
camp's commandant. Harry's parents learned
of his death on September 16, 1945, in a telegram.
After the war,
the remains of 2nd Lt. Harry B. Black were
reburied in Section 82, Site 1B-1D, in a mass
grave, at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in
St. Louis, Missouri. Three of those who
share his grave are 2nd Lt. Marshall Kennady, 2nd
Lt. Everett Preston,
and Capt. Donald Hanes
of the 192nd.