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Silence of a Soldier

The sanitary conditions were extremely crude. An open trench ran along the side of the barracks. Every night
the same sergeant who organized the burials would go outside to the open trench and spread lime on those spots
where it was obvious someone didn’t quite make the trench. This sergeant was sixty three years old. He was an
orphan, and the army was the only family he knew. He was determined to remain in the army as long as he
possible could. The men were desperately hungry. Sometimes the Japanese guards would shoot a wild pig. The
only thing the prisoners got were the intestines. The really sad thing to witness was the prisoners fighting over
this slop.
1 A detailed map of the Bataan Death March can be seen in the inside cover of Hampton Sides, “Ghost
Soldiers” New York, Doubleday, 2001.
2 For Camp O’Donnell see Gavin Daws, “ Prisoners Of The Japanese’, New York, William Morrow & Co,
1994, pp 27,74,,79-81.
3.Between San Fernando and Bontoc, the prisoners were forced to carry one hundred pound sacks of rice and
dried fish. They could manage about seven miles per day. The distance between San Fernando and Bontoc is
over two hundred miles. At the end of the day, the men received one cup of rice.
4. The men were trucked from Bontoc to Cabanatuan for burial detail. As many as one hundred per day were
buried. Cabanatuan is the center of the book, “Ghost Soldiers” by Hampton Sides, New York, Doubleday,2001.
5. Cabanatuan is mentioned in Galvin Daws” “Behind Enemy Lines” New York, William Morrow & Co.
1944, pp64, 108-110, 125, 132, 136-7.
After three weeks of burial detail, Bub and other prisoners were marched to the gates of Cabanatuan. The
were loaded into trucks for a four hour trip to Cavite, a small seaport south of Manila. The roads were rough
and the men were sick. The rough ride made them sicker. But, this rough ride with the wind blowing through
the trucks, was a far better trip than the one that awaited them. At Cavite, the ship “Totorri Maru” was waiting
at the docks. The men were loaded into two separate holds: seven hundred and fifty to a hold. These were
forward holds. Bub had no idea how many other holds were aft or how many prisoners they held. The men slept
on raised wooden platforms inches apart from one another. The daily rations consisted of a small bag of biscuits
(hardtack). Bub managed to eke out a corner in which he made a hammock out of remnants of a shelter tent he
smuggled aboard. A friendly rat would run along a beam; stop and stare at Bub. By placing a small piece of
biscuit on the beam at regular intervals, Bub was assured of a travel companion. Disease was rampant aboard
the ship.