In the burnt-out barracks, an old well was situated so that the enemy didn't know that it was there. The only catch was that the water was alkaline and brackish. Some of the fellows hit upon a novel idea. Some gas masks were on hand, so the hose was disconnected and the water poured through the charcoal inside the containing, with nobody experiencing any difference in taste. Many of the prisoners drank it anyway, though most of the men decided to hold out until the next day.
The third day, about 10 p.m., May 10, 1942, all prisoners were called out of the burnt- out barracks and told to assemble. The big news was that the enemy decided to hold a movie-invasion of Fort Hughes for the Japanese News Reel Company. They were ordered to form two lines about 15 to 20 feet apart with their hands up and no smiling or talking. With a great cry of "Banzai" the Japanese soldiers came charging through with their bayonets flashing in the sun. The prisoners looked exhausted, dirty and ragged, and the act would have been successful for the Japanese except the prisoners were all laughing, so the Japanese's act probably didn't look so good on the screen in Tokyo.
After the act was over, the enemy demanded that all the dry stores on Fort Hughes be taken out and loaded aboard a small Japanese ship for the journey to Manila. Most of the prisoners were weak and could hardly carry anything.
A very steep hill had to be climbed before the storerooms could be reached, and this was enough to tire a man out who had only half a canteen cup of water and two spoons per day of catsup or peas.
Some of the men fell down with cases of food on their shoulders the first time. The second time they were to get another case, somebody broke open a case of beans and each man would quickly carry some down. Next trip, cases of tomatoes would be broken open and again eaten quickly.
The Japanese guards were outside and didn't know what was going on inside. All they were interested in was to have the stores come out and be loaded aboard the sanpan at the docks. This loading of stores made most of the men feel pretty good. After the men had been working until about 4 p.m., the enemy told them to quit work, and food was issued out at 5 p.m.
About 6 p.m., the American officers were told all men would be transferred to Corregidor sometime in the evening and all prisoners were to be ready to move.
Around 8 o'clock, the men were escorted down to the docks by Japanese guards and put aboard lighters for the journey to Corregidor. In a short time they reached the docks at Corregidor and were all escorted to their destination, the 92nd garage.
As the men marched along, the Japanese guards would motion for a man to fall out of line. He would be quickly searched for a wristwatch, money or any other valuables. They were then shoved back into line. This went on for quite a while, until finally the word was passed by our men through the ranks to hide all valuables, either by putting then down into their shoes, or, if they were wearing G.I. khaki pants, by putting them into the watch pocket, as the enemy were not looking there. The enemy was keen on getting the American watches, belts and particularly leather.
We walked down the steps that led to the wonderful tunnels that were sheltered with 85 feet of solid rock above them. They stood magnificently under all the Japanese bombs that had been dropped. The road wound around the tunnels and cliffs and gradually worked down to the 92nd garage.
We arrived at the 92nd garage and were escorted to the area and told to shift as best we could. Most of the men just looked for a vacant spot and lay down for a little rest. There were some type C and D tinned rations on hand, and these were issued next morning for breakfast.
A good part of the prisoners had the back of their shirts stenciled by the Japanese with numbers and were assigned to groups to draw their food. Every morning the groups were mustered for work that had to be done about the camp, like digging latrines and cutting firewood for cooking. The Japanese were also asking for working parties. They were to clean the tunnels, which were in terrible shape, and also could pick up some clothes if they wanted them.
One morning about 9 a.m., the enemy called for 12 radio electricians and radio men. Well, here was a job for me to help my country a little more. I didn't know a thing about high-powered transmitters, so maybe I could do some sabotage work. The 12 radio electricians and radio men, including myself, were put aboard a captured American army truck and taken to Malinda Tunnel, where the Voice of Freedom radio station was located.
I was assigned to help a U.S. Army radio technician. He asked me to take out a power vacuum tube, which was a large radio tube, but I didn't know which one. So I told him, "I can't get it out," so he helped me and as I was taking it out, I dropped it accidentally. At least, that was my story. The Japanese radio supervisors were furious, and I thought for sure I would be kicked and beaten, but after much talking and gesturing, the enemy were convinced it was an accident and we all went back to work.
The Army technician had a lot of difficulty getting the wires loose, so he got a pair of wire cutters and snipped them off short. We finally got one transmitter ready to put aboard the captured truck. We dropped the transmitter on arranged signal, which made the enemy very angry. With threats of "All men shoot," we got it aboard the truck in one piece, but very much battered.
Next, we had a receiver ready and we also dropped it off the truck after nearly having it aboard. This time we all received a good beating, but we had achieved our purposes. I guess the week we worked on the radio station, we put most of the receivers and transmitters out of action, wrecking the large and high-priced tubes, cutting and removing the vital wire connections.
Sometimes during the day, two or three men were detailed by the enemy to wander around the tunnel. I was appointed to bring out all the small radio receiving sets I could find and take them to the air-conditioned official U.S. Army radio station in Malinda Tunnel. I found 35 radios and managed to jimmy some of them.
Among the things recovered by the enemy were thousands of flashlight batteries, miles of copper wire, rubber and friction tape by the hundred and 14k pen points. When I found the pen points, a lot of mail was lying around the tunnel, and I picked a letter up. It was addressed to the Post Exchange officer and was a plea for a new 14k Parker or Waterman pen point. He was told that there were no pen points to be had, and was referred to a company in Wisconsin.
Most of the desks occupied by the headquarters officers and their equipment were intact, even to the radio files, which had copies of every radio message received before surrendering. In an officer's desk I found the restricted map of Luzon showing every gun position and number of guns, etc. This I promptly destroyed.
In the officers' desks were Parker fountain pens, photographic equipment, including expensive cameras, family pictures, letters, keys, 45-caliber guns, and pearl-handled automatics, money, rings and I guess everything a man wanted.
I took a couple of hours off and read a lot of mail that would never reach its destination. Most of the letters told of the writer's grim determination to help defend Corregidor to the end. Service records of Navy men were scattered all over the tunnel.
The 12 men who worked for the Japanese radio men were allowed to pick up anything they wanted in the way of clothing, food, magazines and any material to build a shelter to live in. My friend, Pitts Eberhardt, Fireman 1st class, U.S.N., found a large canvas Army tent, and this was a welcome find as we were living under some trees. We set this tent up and it was a better place to live. We decided to scout around to find some cots and possibly a mattress. We were lucky again, and our new home was getting better every day. Whenever it started raining, we crammed as many men in our tent as possible.
While working for the enemy and helping them to dismantle and sabotage the Voice Of Freedom radio station, we would be allowed several hours of freedom from work every day. These hours were used to good advantage, looking for things the enemy could use that we could destroy or damage.
After working for 12 days, the enemy told us we would stay at the 92nd garage until we were eventually taken to Japan. The Japanese radio men told us they were so sorry to be at war with America but now that it was started, they would have to do their duty to their country.
The food was all rationed now according to groups, and we went to our group, which Colonel Bunker, U.S. Army, was in charge of. Sanitary facilities were bad and flies buzzed around by the millions. Latrines were dug every two days and were open trenches, about 30 feet long and eight to ten feet deep.
There were rumors going around the camp that we would be transferred to Manila. Most of the men would be glad to go, as sanitary conditions were becoming so bad that within three or four weeks, many diseases would break out.