GHQ | Historic Corregidor | Harbor Defense of Manila & Subic Bays | Corregidor Under Siege | Retaking Corregidor | Rediscovering Corregidor | Units & Personnel | Concrete Battleship | Secret Corregidor | PX | Now Showing | Archives | Bulletin Board | Galleries | Mail Call | Links | 503d on the Rock | 503d Heritage Bn. | Rock Force
TESTIMONY OF MAJ. ARTHUR PETERSON, 60TH CA., PRISONER OF WAR
Maj. Arthur C. Peterson
Major Peterson's testimony begins at the surrender of Corregidor and ends shortly after his liberation on May 21st,1945.
He lists numerous names of prisoners who were on the Oryoku Maru with him, then the Enoura Maru and finally on the Brasil Maru. In many instances he gives dates and manner of death of some veterans that perhaps you may be searching for, including Colonel Barr and Major Tom Smothers.
The document contains the following note, unfortunately
The document contains the following note, unfortunately without attribution:-
"Major Peterson was liberated shortly after this diary ended. He weighed about 85 pounds at that time. When he visited my mother and me (he was married to my mother's sister) at Virginia Beach just after his liberation, he had literally fistfuls of meat rationing coupons -more than we had seen for the whole war! Shortly after that, rationing was discontinued.
After his liberation he was always quite reluctant to speak of his POW days -unless he were with another POW - then the memories might flow.
Gleaned from those conversations came the very poignant memory of the first night of their capture as they were being held in a compound at the Malinta Tunnel. They were wet, cold, discouraged and at the far end of the compound someone started singing "God Bless America" and that song swelled and traveled the length of the compound in a breathtaking display of patriotism.
I also learned that while imprisoned, the POW's were able somehow to gather the makings of a camera and while waiting in line for food, to the count of one-two-three moved into position for a picture while another person moved to snap that picture. As you can read they were fed mostly rice. Pete said that the Japanese would polish the rice and of course, thereby they would lose some of the precious nutrients, so the prisoners made pretty sure that the rice polishing machine was permanently on the fritz!
He was raised to the rank of full Colonel and retained that rank until he retired. He worked for the Army Security Agency in various places and died in 1969 in Frankfurt, Germany.
This diary was used by the (then) War Department to verify the deaths of some individuals listed herein."
MAJOR ARTHUR C. PETERSON
60th C.A. (AA)
At twelve o'clock noon May 6, 1942, I fell into the hands of the Japanese Imperial Army at Fort Mills, P.I., as a result of the surrender of that stronghold. That afternoon Japanese troops entered Malinta Tunnel, location of the Antiaircraft Defense Headquarters, and took over. The Japanese soldiers immediately began to relieve us of our rings, watches, currency and other valuables appropriating them for personal use and failing to issue receipts for this personal property. The artillery and aerial bombardment of Corregidor continued throughout the 6th and 7th despite the efforts of the American commander to effect a surrender. For the next few days we were confined to the Tunnel and subject to continued stripping of jewelry and other items of value by the Japanese soldiers. No organized effort was made to feed us but most managed to get along on canned goods surreptitiously obtained from our Quartermaster storerooms. After a few days of this we were all formed, except for the General officers and certain staff officers, and marched to the 92nd C.A. garage area. There some 8000-9000 were crowded into a very small area lacking water and sanitary facilities or any description. Organizations were broken up making it extremely difficult to carry out any orderly measures for feeding, sanitation and necessary control under those trying circumstances.
Prisoner of War groups of 1000 men subdivided into ten further subdivisions of 100 men each were formed and all prisoners numbered upon direction of the Japanese. All efforts of Colonel Bunker, senior officer at this area, to ameliorate conditions and provide a necessary measure of control were met with studied insolence and completely ignored. The Japanese made every effort to break down the officer-enlisted man relationship of the prisoners increasing our problems many fold.
On May 23, 1942, we were loaded on several ships with such hand baggage as we could carry. The next morning we proceeded to the beaches off Pasay and placed aboard landing barges and ferried to a few yards off shore where we were forced to jump into the water and wade ashore. The Japanese aboard the landing barges again searched the majority of us and seized all valuables they could discover. When ashore we were formed in a column of fours and paraded through Manila to Bilibid Prison under Cavalry escort. As a result of this march Lt. Col., W.B. Short, CAC died from exhaustion and many others suffered from heat prostration.
We remained in Bilibid for several days getting a fair sized portion of steamed rice three times a day supplemented by an onion occasionally. The prisoners were then sent to Cabanatuan in 1500 man groups daily. On May 28, my group was loaded into the small box cars of the Manila R.R. with over 100 men and baggage per car and proceeded to the city of Cabanatuan, arriving the same afternoon. The trip was most arduous due to lack of water and overcrowding. We spent the night in the rain the Cabanatuan municipal corral for stray animals, everyone getting thoroughly soaked. The next day we hiked 15 kilometers to Cabanatuan Camp #2 with the Japanese guards beating all stragglers with rifle butts and bamboo rods if prisoners had difficulty in maintaining the rate of march. Some of the more serious cases were picked up by trucks if authorized to fall out by a Japanese officer. Upon arrival at the camp it was found that no water was available so we were moved to Cabanatuan Camp #1 on June 1st, and assigned to barracks in this camp after several hours delay. The water facilities at this camp were extremely limited and we had to stand in line for hours to get one or two canteens of water per day. The daily ration consisted of rice and a think soup of greens which was occasionally fortified with a few shreds of carabao meat. Medical supplies were not available and no efforts were made to provide for the comfort and care of the prisoners. Again the American officers were given no opportunity or aid in improving the conditions of the prisoners.
After I had been at Camp #1 for several days American prisoners from the POW camp at O'Donnell began arriving, most of them being in pitiful condition. (These men were Bataan survivors). Badly needed medical supplies were still lacking despite available stocks at the Bataan hospitals and Manila. The death rate jumped and ran from 25 to 50 or so deaths daily, mostly from malaria, dysentery and malnutrition. By August a diphtheria epidemic was in full swing and on September 3, 1942, I was admitted to the hospital section of the camp with a diphtheric throat infection. Up to this time many had died of diphtheria due to lack of antitoxin but I was fortunate in getting one fourth of the normal dose and was among the few survivors. This illness left me with a post-diphtheria paralysis which lasted for approximately four months due to lack of proper food and necessary medicines. It was a pitiful sight to see so many young men die for lack of adequate facilities and supplies when we all knew that necessary medicines, drugs, medical equipment and food supplies were at hand a few miles away. Efforts of Filipino charitable organizations to furnish supplies, aid and comfort to the American prisoners were blocked by the Japanese on the flimsiest pretexts.In December 1942 British and American Red Cross packages were given to the prisoners. Each man received two and a fraction boxes plus some bulk food which was issued through the mess. The Japanese food issue had also improved about Thanksgiving time. The death rate immediately
Navigation: click on the top or bottom of the papers to go to the previous or following page or the buttons below.
See this document in its intended typeface
CT&N INDEX PAGES
CORREGIDOR UNDER SIEGE
FOLLOW YOUR INTERESTS
Col. George Ruhlen's Collection
© The Corregidor Historic Society
Since 1999 - Last Updated: 07/08/12