It is Pearl Harbor Day. All too often remembrance is confined to the attack on Pearl Harbor. That attack was immediately followed by a Japanese invasion of the Phillippine Islands, an American possession at that time. After months of heroic but futile resistance US and Filipino forces surrendered to the Japanese Army. There ensued three and a half years of unmitigated brutality and murder inflicted on American prisoners of war by Japanese soldiers.
One of those POWs was Chaplain John McDonnell who was captured on the Bataan Peninsula, survived the Death March and years of abuse only to die on board the Enoura Maru, a Japanese merchant vessel en route to Japan.
Chaplain McDonnell baptised me in the post chapel at Fort Devens, Massachusetts in 1940.
Transcript of official record follows. pl
SUPREME COMMANDER FOR
THE ALLIED POWERS
25 Feb. 1947
File No. 014.13
Informational Summary No. 510
vs Junsaburo TOSHINO, Shusuke WADA, Kazutane AIHARA, Shin KAJIYAMA, Suketoshi
TANQUE, Jiro UEDA, Hisao YOSHIDA
On 9 January in mid-morning, during the completion of the morning meal, anti-aircraft fire was heard on the Enoura Maru and all ships in the harbor. Soon the drone of planes was heard and almost simultaneously the whistle of bombs was heard. The Enoura Maru rocked violently from a near miss, causing a flail of bomb fragments and steel fragments from the sides of the ship which killed about 300 outright and injured a considerable number. After the bombing such first aid as could be rendered to men was made available by the Prisoner of War doctors and corpsmen aboard. This aid consisted of collecting dirtytowels, undershirts, or anything that could be used for bandages that the other prisoners would contribute. Outside of a few first aid kits which the doctors and corpsmen may have had, there were no medicines made available by the Japanese. In fact, no aid was rendered until 11 January when two Japanese enlisted hospital corpsmen announced they would treat those with minor injuries or wounds only. Treatment consisted of dabbing injuries with mercurochrome. The dead bodies in the holds were stacked in the center of the hatch area like stacks of cord wood. They remained there until the 12th of January. During this time, a majority of the men who were wounded and who soonthereafter died from those wounds could have been saved with proper medical attention, but with lack of bandages and medicines it was impossible for thedoctors to do much for them. Finally in mid-morning of 12 January, permission was granted to remove the dead bodies from the ship. The bodies were removed by placing them into cargo slings and lowering over the side of the ship into barges. Some of the dead were removed individually by tying ropes around the legs or arms and hauling them up onto the deck, then lowering them into the barges. The scene in the holds was like a page from Dante’s Inferno—dark, but one could see the wraithlike figures wandering dazedly through a maze of stacked corpses.