To: Angus Lorenzen:

Sent: Thursday, June 23, 2011 8:38 AM
Subject: Snyder,Samuel L. POW Civilian in P.I. in WW2-on Arisan Maru

My father was a POW in P.I.,Civilian and died on the Arisan Maru torpedoed by the U.S. Shark. What POW camp was he in in the P.I.?


GB Snyder

 

Dear Gilbert,

 

My name is Fred.  Angus Lorenzen forwarded your e-mail to me in regards to your query about your father's days as a POW.  Here is what I have found, so far.

 

Before the war, in a roster dated July 9, 1941, your father was working for the "Office of the Engineering Department/Manila."  He was a Civil Service Employee with the Adjutant Generals Office.  Sometime after the war began, between Dec. 8, 1941 to Dec. 24, 1941, he was transferred to the island of Corregidor.  On Corregidor, he worked for the "Office of Engineering/Ft. Mills."

  

He was in the Administrative Division, Cost-Finance Department.  I assume this meant his work consisted of "Cost Accounting."  He drew a yearly salary of $2,300, which was in the mid-range compared to the other employees.   Obviously, his war time duties in a besieged island would have been somewhat different than what he did in Manila.  I don't know what, exactly, he did on Corregidor, but I can assume he did not crunch numbers like he did in Manila.This is from a roster dated Jan. 16, 1942.

 

Since the beginning of the war, Corregidor was assaulted with artillery fire and aerial bombings.  Prior to the fall of Bataan, these were sporadic and intermittent.  After the fall of Bataan, on April 9, 1945, the artillery fire and bombings intensified, both in strength and frequency.  On the Evening of May 5, 1942, the Japanese began a series of three landings which culminated in the early morning hours of May 6. 

 

At noon on May 6, Gen. Wainwright decided to surrender his forces on Corregidor.  His surrender was not accepted by Gen. Homma, who insisted that he would only accept the surrender of all the forces in the Philippines and not just the surrender of Corregidor.  The next day, May 7, Gen. Wainwright surrendered all the forces in the Philippines, and therefore, his surrender of Corregidor was accepted by the Japanese. 

 

Here is the sequence of events in your fatherís life in the Philippines.... 

 

1.  Your father was in Manila working for the Dept. of Engineering, AGO, until sometime before Dec. 24, 1941, after which he went to Corregidor.  He was an accountant and he was 37 years old.

 

2.  He stayed in Corregidor throughout the entire Defense of the Philippines, in 1942.

 

3.  Officially, he was surrendered to the Japanese, on Corregidor, by Gen. Jonathan Wainwright on May 7, 1942.


4.  On May 10, he was moved to the 92nd Garage, the hangar area, in Kindley Field on Corregidor and kept there for almost two weeks.

 

5.   On May 23, all but about 300 men, were put on boats and sent to Manila.  The boats dropped them on the shore line on Dewey Blvd.  After wading ashore, they were forced to march through the streets of Manila, for all to see, until they reached Bilibid, approximately, 2 miles away.

 

6.  He remained in Bilibid until around May 27, where he was marched to the train station in Manila.  The train took him to Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija.  From the train station in Cabanatuan City, he was forced to march another few miles until he reached a former Army base for the 91st Division of the Philippine Commonwealth Army.   This Army base was later known as Cabanatuan POW Camp.  His name appears in a roster dated September 8, 1942.  He was kept with Group II, in Building #10.  All the buildings in Cabanatuan were numbered, except for the two triage building where they kept the terminally ill.  Those two buildings were called Ward Zero.  One was a dysentery building and the other was for malaria and other diseases.

 

7. In November 1943, I find your father in a roster of POWs who were in the Las Pinas Work Detail.  Las Pinas was a sleepy little beach town, south of Manila.  Today it is part of Metro Manila.  The POWs were used to build an air field for the Japanese Air Force.  This air field was never completed.  In June, 1944, the Las Pinas Work Detail was shutdown and the men were transferred to Bilibid, first, and then most of them to Cabanatuan

 

8. On October 11, 1944, your father boarded the Arisan Maru.  The ship first went to Palawan to pick up prisoners there, and then returned back to Manila.  From Manila, this second time, it sailed for MojiJapan, carrying 1800 men.  On October 24, 1944, approximately 200 miles southeast of Tokyo, the Arisan took two two torpedoes in her from the Submarine, USS Shark.  She broke in half and sunk very quickly.  There were only five survivors.

 

I constructed that sequence of events using four dated rosters in which I found your father listed: the Corregidor, Cabanatuan, the Las Pinas, and Arisan Maru roster.  The Japanese had a policy of treating POWs as slave laborers, so they moved them around as they were needed.  Although your father never reached Japan, like a slave, he was sold, to a Japanese corporation for whom he would have worked for, if he had reached Japan.

 

For example, my own father, from Cabanatuan, was sold to the Mitsubishi Corporation and he was shipped to Mukden, Manchuria, where he worked in facility that made pistons and other spare parts for Japanese airplanes and other vehicles, such as tanks.  It is an alien concept, but Japanese corporations bought POWs to work as their slaves from the Japanese Army.

 

That is what I have on your father.  If you have any questions, or if I may be of more help to you, feel free to write to me.  

 

Fred