SIPPERS OF SOUP AND EATERS OF RICE
Seven Prunes For Me, So Far
I talked with God the night before last;
He said to me, “What have you to ask?”
I said, “Only this and the answer would kill
all the wild rumors that pester this Phil –
“How long will it last? When will it end?”
God answered with haste, “Wakare masen. ”
Written by Harry Rodenburg
This poem, taken from the diary, is in italics, as is every diary
entry in this document. Anything in italics is taken verbatim from
the LECTURE NOTE BOOK diary that Harry kept hidden for nearly four
years from the Japanese Gonzaga – the Jap soldiers who were
returned from the front and were given the assignment of guarding
American prisoners like Harry and his fellow POWs. Everything else
is verbatim from the oral history he created in the early seventies
on audio-tape, marginally supplemented over the past several years,
in his own voice
This is a biographical sketch of my history and the experiences
of myself, Harry Rodenburg, made for the purpose of acquainting my
children, and possibly their children, with the history and the
experiences that I went through during the War in the Pacific in
World War Two, and also to acquaint them with their background so
that they know who they are.
FROM HOLLAND TO HARVEY
My parents were Willem and Tryntja Rodenburg, They came from
Holland as immigrants to the United States in 1905 with three
children. I was born December 8, 1917, in Harvey, Illinois. At that
time, we lived on Halsted Street in North Harvey.
My father had been born in Schedam, in Holland. He was a tough
old bird. He had sailed with the Dutch Army in the Indonesian
Islands. He was injured in a barracks accident there. I believe
they had been playing grab-ass, and at the top of the bedpost was a
spike. He was pushed by a fellow soldier, and ended up with that
spike in his voice box. The doctor discharged him as disabled, but
told him that with his physique, he should live to be a hundred
years old. He almost made it; just 17 years shy of the mark at 83.
When the car didn’t run, he rode his bicycle all the way up to
Pullman to go to work, where he worked for a long time for
International Harvester McCormick Deering building cultivators.
Even at the age of 65 or 70, he occasionally rode a bicycle all the
way down to Kankakee. He did not care for falderal, and did not
attend my wedding in 1953.
My mother had been born in Gronigen, a northern province of the
Netherlands as a member of a “schipper” family named Stallinga. The
Stallingas owned and lived aboard their vessel. The vessel happened
to be in Gronigen when Tryntje entered this world. The home port
for the family was in Delft, Netherlands. She was a genuine
sweetheart, an angel; she was quirky and endearing and made friends
wherever she went. She was dearly loved by all who knew her. She
died at 64 or 65, before 1953, anyway, and also missed the wedding.
I was born in Harvey, Illinois on December 8, 1917 and lived in
Harvey until I was twelve or thirteen years old when my father
bought a farm in Crete Township, Will County, Illinois. We moved to
the farm in 1931, and I remained on the farm until the beginning of
1939, when I enlisted in the Marines. Willem bought the farm
because he wanted to farm a larger tract than he was farming in
Harvey. As farmers, we were really trying to learn the game as we
went. Willem would go through the fields after we had picked green
beans, and whenever he found a bean accidentally overlooked, he
would say, “Vat’s de metter vis dis one?” I spent my time working
on the “truck farm” and driving up to Chicago and the surrounding
area selling the vegetables that we grew on the farm. We grew and
sold carrots, cabbage, sweet corn, pumpkins, onion sets. We raised
the best musk melons: Honey Rock.
My mother was a devout, solid, Christian woman, and there was a
Christian Reformed church for Hollanders in Munster, Indiana that
she would truck all her children to from out on Bemes Road. Except
my father, who was a skeptic, so he didn’t go along. There were ten
of us altogether. So many that my older sisters were already in
their twenties and married by the time I remember knowing them. One
of my older sisters, Peternella (I), had been killed by a train
sometime in the twenties when she was eleven or twelve, so I never
knew her. But my parents named another of my sisters Peternella (Nel
Thiery) after that. A complete list of my siblings follows: Ann
(Wick), Herman, Peternella (I), Dora (Crosby), William, Peter,
Wilhemina (Min Glover), Peternella (II) (Nel Thiery), myself,
Josephine (Dilts), and Mart (Morrell).
In 1939, I was twenty-two. I saw joining the marines as a way to
get away from the farm and to set out and make my way. So I
enlisted in the United States Marine Corps and was transported to
San Diego, California for my boot training. I thought joining the
Marines would give me a chance to “see the world.” In that respect,
I was surely not disappointed.
I went through my boot training in San Diego, a period of about
sixteen weeks and after that I was selected to go to radio training
school, which was a period of about twenty weeks. After graduation,
I and three other Marines were sent up to the naval radio station
at Point Loma for further training. While at the station, we were
used, I thought, (and so did the others of course), in an unfair
manner. We worked all night long, and then after a few minutes or
an hour after we got in bed in the morning, we would be roused and
told we had garbage detail. We would have to go out and collect the
garbage and put it on the trucks. Then we would be allowed to go
back to sleep.
Part of our duty had to do with trucks that were supplied by the
Navy. We went down to the Naval supply station and loaded lumber,
nails, and tarpaper onto the trucks and carried them to where the
commander of the Naval station was building himself a home. Quickly
we figured out that he was stealing these supplies from the Navy.
When that became clear to me, I went down to the commanding officer
at the Marine Corp. and told him what was happening. This caused a
great tumult, and rather than being rewarded for that, or the Navy
Commander being punished, the four Marines at the Naval radio
station were shipped out to China! First we were given a thirty-day
furlough. So I left San Diego, came home to Crete. On the way, I
ran into a conman in Phoenix, who called over to me, “Hey, Marine,
where you going?” When I told him “Chicago”, he said he was too,
and that since we had some time, we should go take a look at
Phoenix, walk around and see what it looks like. I ended up missing
the bus, and playing him double or nothing for the little cash that
was left in my pocket.
When I left Crete I went back to San Francisco to board a ship
At that time, in 1939, going to China didn’t seem like a bad
idea. In fact, everybody kind of wanted to go, as there was a lot
of money in it; nor were we at war with anyone. Since American
money was very valuable to the Chinese, this resulted in a very
favorable exchange rate when dollars were converted into Chinese
mex. So being in China could be a very profitable proposition.
The ship we boarded in San Diego was the USS Henderson. This had
been an Army troop transport, but it had been turned over to the
Navy. It was a rather old ship but in good condition. We stayed on
that ship forty-four days, and I enjoyed almost every single one of
them. Not all of the days were used in steaming. Some of the time
we laid over in Hawaii and also in Guam, the Philippines and
also at one port in China. Our path was through Qinghuangdao, to go
to Tientsin, our ultimate destination. In Qinghuangdao, there was a
little storefront, kind of a general store, run by a little Chinese
man. It was called Tee-tee Wong’s. We would sit there at Tee-tee
Wong’s and drink beer and eat Vienna Sausages out of a can along
with soda crackers.
I was a member of the Third Battalion of the Fourth United
States Marines, also known as the China Marines. The majority of
3rd Batt. 4th Marines was stationed in Shanghai. I was only in
Shanghai briefly, but I remember it as a beautiful place.
Not all of us went to Tientsin. Some of us went to Tientsin and
some went to Peking. I was one of those who went to Tientsin. We
went to a medieval-looking castle. It had previously been a German
embassy and had places for troops to sleep and live. They were
Being a radio man in Tientsin, I didn't do too many other
soldier duties. I worked in a radio station and frequently worked
all night long, listening to the radio and taking messages. After
serving there for some time, I was told I was going to be sent to
Qinghuangdao back south along the coast about 175 miles, which was
near the place we landed when we first entered China.
When I served in Qinghuangdao, there were twenty Marines and two
of them were radio men. I was junior radio man there. We lived
about a mile from the city, a small city for China -- I guess about
forty- or fifty-thousand people -- and
there were also forty-thousand troops stationed close by. The
duty at Qinghuangdao itself was quite pleasant, at times almost
monotonous. There weren’t that many people there, and the duty was
not very strenuous. I acted as radio operator.
Of course, at that time, China was being invaded by Japan. The
Japanese had control of Qinghuangdao. We were allowed to be there,
for the Japanese were not at war with us, or the British, the
Germans, or Italians -- only with China. The Japanese at that time
were being resisted by the Communist Army, which ultimately became
the rulers of China when Chiang Kai-shek was overthrown.
Qinghuangdao was near the Wall, possibly fifty miles away (I
don't remember exactly). I say it seemed like fifty miles because
of the time it took us to get from Qinghuangdao to the Wall. On
occasion, we would get a truck, a half dozen or so of us, and drive
to the Great Wall. There were only unimproved roads (or no roads at
all) and no bridges on the way. We drove through creeks to get
there. When we got there, we saw a monument on which a great many
people had scratched their names. One I especially noticed -- it
was kind of chiseled in there -- the name of Benito Mussolini. I
believe, and without any proof of it, that Mussolini had also
We could walk to the Wall, and there was a monastery with
Chinese monks who lived in the monastery and made wine and they
sold some to us. So that's what we did! We bought some wine and
generally had a nice picnic day. Later, we were advised to get back
and get out of the area before nightfall came. At night, the
Communists ruled and conditions were quite unpredictable. If the
Chinese caught, say, a Japanese soldier out there, they would cut
off his head and bury his body in the sand. We didn't want to take
any chances; we didn't know what they would have done to us, and we
didn't want to find out. So we got back in the truck and got back
We were told that if we walked a distance of about five miles
from the camp, we could find good hunting for bustard, which is a
large bird in the goose family. One morning, Griffin and I got up
early, before daylight, and started to walk the railroad tracks
toward the hunting place. There was a long bridge that didn't have
much water under it; although at one time, apparently, it did have
a good deal of water under it because the bridge was close to a
quarter of a mile long. We walked in the darkness on that bridge,
fifty to a hundred feet. Suddenly Griffin stopped and said to me,
"Do you hear what I hear?"
I heard some kind of rumbling noise approaching, and said, "You
bet I do!"
We ran off the bridge as fast as we could go. We jumped off the
bridge onto a sand embankment along the railroad, and as soon as we
had done that, a train went flying by, going very fast, no lights,
We sat there for a while, and Griffin said to me, "Well, we want
to go hunting, don't we?" I said, "Yeah, we want to go hunting." So
we got back on that bridge and tried it again. We got a couple
miles beyond the bridge to a point where the woods came close to
the railroad, and we could smell a very strong odor of cordite --
gunpowder. The train, by the way, was run by the Japanese because
they were in control of the countryside. We figured this train that
had passed was attacked by the Communists as it went through these
woods. About a half hour later we were walking down the railroad
tracks in the same area, innocently, you might say, but without
We got to the place where we expected the bustard to come and
fly in at daylight and we sat there and waited. It came to be
beyond daylight, but nothing came. When it was quite evident that
nothing was coming we said, "Let's go back." We decided that to
walk along the railroad tracks would not be the safest way to go,
so we walked along the shore of the bay – it could be Chee Dee Bay,
I'm not quite sure of the name. But we had pleasant things to do as
we walked. We shot birds, we found different things washed up on
the beach, and we were getting fairly close back to the area about
where the Chinese Communists had attacked the train.
When we got to that point we suddenly found ourselves walking
right into a Japanese field patrol! They weren't out there just
walking around. They were hunting for their enemies. They had
machine guns, some had what seemed like a tripod, others had other
parts of the machine gun, and some were carrying the ammunition.
camouflage on their helmets. When they saw us walking amongst
them, they were as amazed as we were! We were stunned that we could
walk amongst them and not be molested. They probably thought the
same thing, thinking, "These Americans don't know what they're
doing!" All we had were shotguns on our shoulders. They didn't harm
us, nor did they try to stop us. We walked right through the
formation and kept going toward our camp. And we made it back to
our camp without incident.
After serving a number of months in Qinghuangdao, I contracted a
serious disease. There were no American doctors there and no sick
bay. Apparently, I had a high fever, so they sent me to Kalon
Mining Company hospital which was a British-owned mining company
and they had their own hospital there -- only one doctor, no white
patients, mostly all Chinese, except for me. The doctor's name was
Hope Gill -- he had a name just like a woman's. I went in there. I
really don't know anymore what came first, pneumonia or typhoid,
but one came after the other. I was in there for a number of weeks,
maybe more than a month. I had become seriously ill. But, of
course, typhoid and pneumonia were serious, certainly in those
days, anyway. There were no miracle drugs, and if you survive, it's
by luck. I guess I had run about a 106 fever day after day. It had
caused serious damage to my interior.
After a while, a shipment of Marines came in. They were going to
go to Tientsin or Peking, so they put me on the train with them and
Dr. Gill gave me a double shot of morphine and a pocket full of
codeine pills. They carried me onto the train in a stretcher, and
they laid the stretcher on the rifles lying between the seats.
Along the way there were delays. The bridge was out or damaged, so
the train had to stop for several hours. The Marines had plenty of
beer, and they were having a good old time, but I had morphine and
codeine; I was having as good a time as they, even though I was
We got to Tientsin, and I was taken to the hospital in the
barracks in the Marine compound, and stayed there for about four
months, I believe. There I had lengthy surgery. The sustained high
fever had caused damage to my lower intestine and a fistula had
formed which required extensive surgery to remove all the damaged
tissue. But considering everything, I came out of it all right. I
recovered from it all, and all was well.
Now back in Tientsin, I went back to duty as a radio man in the
radio station and I had hired a friend, a little Japanese-American
girl. She was wiser, it seemed, than the Americans were as to our
position with the Japanese. She told me that I should get back home
because there is going to be a war. This little girl, I don't know
exactly what she did for a living; I think she sold millinery in a
shop in Tientsin. She knew there was going to be a war with the
Japanese, and the Americans didn't know -- at least the ones in
Tientsin didn't know. If they knew, they didn't tell us -- we were
living there as if nothing had changed, but apparently it had.
Around November 1941, they said we were going to leave. They
shipped out about two hundred fifty people that were in Tientsin.
They sent two hundred to the Philippines. On board a civilian ship
called the Maripolis, we landed a few days later in Manila, in the
Philippines. There, too, everything seemed to be business as usual.
No preparations were being made for war; nothing unusual was
happening in the Naval yard.
So I went to work. Since there were more radio men there than they
needed, I went to work as a telephone/switchboard operator and was
serving in that capacity. On Sunday morning, December 8, 1941, I
was going down to breakfast. I remember it
was my birthday. Now, on Sunday morning, it was traditional that
they have hotcakes and sausage, or hotcakes and bacon -- it was one
of the better breakfasts that you could expect during the week. You
always looked forward to breakfast on Sunday morning.
December 8 (International), 1941 -- The war begins on
December 7th at Hawaii with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor
Navy Yard. Our first knowledge of it came from a news commentator
on KZRH in Manila. The Marines in Cavite were routed out about 4
o’clock on the 8th, and there is some controversy as to whether
we heard of it then or about 4 hours later. Radio Cavite received
news about 2:30 a.m., when the op on watch copied “AIR RAID
HONOLULU – - NO SHIT”.
So Sunday morning, I was going down to breakfast, some
people had already gone down, and I happened to have a
radio in my locker.
|I was listening to a program from RADIO KZRH in Manila, and all of
a sudden, the announcer said: "We interrupt this program to bring
you a special announcement. The Japanese have bombed Pearl Harbor."
He repeated that, so I went down to the dining room and there were
several hundred Marines there. I got on a table and tried to get
their attention. I hollered to them, and finally I got their
attention. I said, "I just heard a special radio announcement that
the Japanese have just bombed Pearl Harbor!" But nobody believed
me! They just told me to go to hell, and went back to eating their
breakfast. Then, pretty soon, the word came in from many different
sources. Then, of course, they believed it.
We finished our breakfast and went outside. We didn't have any
special duties to do unless you had an assignment. As I recall, we
were just standing around about 10:00 in the morning when we
noticed there were airplanes approaching.
The days of the 8th and 9th we spent manning and augmenting
“AA” and inter-battery communication. On the nite of the ninth we
had numerous air raid warnings and Nichols Field across the bay
from us was bombed, some fires were started.
The 10th of December was a fateful day. Until about ten
o’clock we carried on as on the day before. Around ten or 10:30
we had a warning that enemy formations were approaching to bomb
Manila. About a half hour later we saw them approaching from the
northeast. At first they looked like a flight of geese, then as
they came closer we watched them, fascinated.
They were approaching from the seaward side of Manila. They were
extremely high. I had never seen airplanes flying so high before.
There were about twenty-seven of them flying along, and when they
reached the naval yard, they made a 45 degree turn and went right
over the navy yard. And of course, by this time, everyone knew or
expected them to bomb the compound. But they didn't bomb. We fired
anti-aircraft at them but we had nothing to reach anywhere near as
high as those planes were.
The anti-aircraft started to shoot from the ships in the
bay, the navy yard and from various places, Caridad, Imus, etc.
It was obvious from the first that we weren’t getting much more
than half way up. On the first time over, they were all in one
formation -- 56 of them. They passed on over and split into two
groups, 29 and 27 each. Then as one group turned to come back
over us, we realized we were to be the targets -- and still we
watched, spellbound on the bulls-eye. Poor innocents!
There were some ships in the bay that could shoot that high, but
they were unsuccessful in doing any damage to the planes. The
airplanes continued over the Navy yard, and 35 miles further, went
over Manila. When they passed over Manila, they broke into three
different groups of nine planes each. Then they came back to the
Navy yard. First, one group came and unloaded their bombs, hitting
the Navy yard very hard. They dropped a few bombs on one side into
the water, stretched across the yard, then dropped bombs on the
other side of the water. Then another nine planes came over the
Navy yard, criss-crossing over us, and successfully demolished it.
The first set of bombs didn't do too much damage to us, not
killing very many people. We had all been trained that in a bombing
we were to lay down and take cover. But while we were lying down,
there were plenty of Filipinos lying down -- a lot of Filipinos
worked there -- and when they saw the Americans lying down, they
laid down. The first set of bombs damaged buildings and
installations, but didn't harm many people. The noise of the bombs
dropping was so great that you didn't really hear the explosion.
But it excited the Filipinos so much that after the first rack of
bombs hit, they jumped up and about five-hundred of them tried to
get out of the gate. They were running all over the Navy yard. The
next set of bombs just slaughtered them. Not many Americans were
killed on the first attack but a lot of Filipinos died.
Inside the navy yard was holocaust. After the first run,
the native labor tried to run out of the narrow gates. The next
rain of bombs caught Filipinos running all over the place; it was
mass murder. The whole yard and most of Cavite town was ablaze.
The bombs did a great deal of damage. I didn't see it all
myself, but was told that one of the bombs had gone right down the
conning tower of a submarine that was tied up at one of the piers.
I was amazed at the damage a bomb could do, that a truck just
standing there, not directly hit, was completely destroyed when
pieces of the bomb flew through the truck and through the motor.
The truck was completely destroyed even though if you stood off a
distance, it didn't appear to be damaged. It did a great deal of
damage to our mess hall where we had had our breakfast an hour
before, and, of course, to our self-confidence.
The feeling of going from peacetime to a wartime situation is
shockingly different from anything that you can imagine. You can't
get the experience from pictures, stories that you read, or
anything that someone could tell you; the only way is to really
experience it yourself. The noises are much greater than you would
expect; the damage, the carnage is much greater than expected. The
suddenness in which these things happen is unnerving and unsettling
to otherwise competent strong men. Our Commanding Officer was one
of these -- a colonel, a good man, a good colonel. On that day he
was rendered unable to function -- crying and blubbering while at
the same time, other men, his junior officers, functioned very
When the first group of nine planes came over to make their
bombing run, I was standing with a group of men near the radio
station. There could have been about twenty in the group. That was
also near the shore of the bay. From ground level where the radio
station was down to the water level of the bay was about 10 feet.
One of the men I was standing with was a Navy commander. We stood
right where what was nearly the exact target for the bombing. We
watched those planes go overhead, not realizing what was going to
December 10, 1941 --I stood with a group of comm men near
our CP, just outside the navy yard, and as the planes were
directly overhead, I saw the sun glint on the bombs as they
turned on the way down. Instinctively I cried, “Here come the
bombs!” and jumped over the sea wall, thus putting about 8 feet
of protecting cement between the explosions and myself. Third
Battalion CP was fairly out of the bombed area, but almost
immediately the fires were threatening us.
We suddenly heard a noise getting louder and louder. I noticed a
flashing somewhere well below the planes, halfway or so to the
ground. Then I recognized what was happening. I said, "Those are
bombs!" I turned around and made a short run and jumped over that
wall down to the shore. There was a little sandy beach there about
three or four feet wide. A number of the men came tumbling down on
top of me. Of course it was not the target; that was several
hundred feet from where the bombs landed.
After the first rack of bombs fell, there was a pause. To
indicate to you how irrational thinking had become, I jumped from
this very secure place and ran out into a small park. I laid
underneath a small bench, which offered me some protection, but the
seawall was better.
Our concern was for our Radio Locater Equipment. By dark on
the 10th, we had moved all our gear and most of the comm men out
to Dahlahegan, 4 miles from the navy yard. There we set up and
worked for the next ten days or so.
The bombing ended. There were buildings destroyed, and they were
carrying people. The Navy yard was pretty well destroyed. Later on
in the day, they took us to a garage which they had previously told
us was off limits and not to go in there at all. They wanted us to
take equipment out and set it up. It was radar equipment. I, for
one, had never heard of it before that time. The people they were
asking to set it up had not even seen it before, with the exception
of this one corporal who had been sent to Canada before going to
the Philippines to learn about radar. We towed this trailer to a
small clearing about five miles from Cavite Naval Yard and set it
up and tried to operate it. We got everything working with a diesel
engine generating electricity. The people operating the radar
scanner could get one blip on the screen and that was from a three
hundred-foot tall U.S. radio tower at Cavite. That's all we could
get! After about one week of that, Major Kale, my commanding
officer, got in touch with the Army and told them to take their
radar equipment because it would just get his men killed. So they
came and got it.
The stay at Dahlahegan was the best part of the war. We
took over private homes, as they were, for our quarters, for all
civilians had fled. We lived off the land. Foraging parties went
out and we had food and drink aplenty. There were three
refrigerators available and for the first time in my experience I
received a daily ration of beer from the mess. While we were in
Dahlahegan we didn’t hear much about the progress of the war on
the fighting front, only rumors. But it seems we were concerned
mostly with fifth columnists, terrorists, mysterious flares at
Of those of us who were at Dahlehegan (there were only
about 20), most were comm men. We had First Lt. Davis and Captain
Weeks in charge; the senior N Co present was Tech. Sgt. Sparks.
The affair at Dahlehegan was certainly a sorry mess. Of all the
men there, not over six gave a damn about how things were going.
Our officers were drunk and incompetent all the time; the men,
with the exception of six or so, were running loose, almost
complete disorganization. Colonel Adams came to see us often, and
he must have seen what was going on because he put Major Kaid
over Weeks and Davis, and he made them stay on the job.
While all this was going on, there were air raids every day
and the japs were steadily pushing down from the North and up
from the South. So on about the 20th of December began the
withdrawal of all navy and marines out of Cavite area and out to
the Bataan Peninsula where we made our stand against the
After that, I was assigned to an anti-aircraft group -- three
guns, I think -- and I was a telephone operator for this aircraft
group. I was told to stay and operate the telephone, and I did not
notice that people were leaving. After some time, I guess about a
whole day, someone said, "Hey, aren't you going to leave?" He told
me that if I was going to stay there that I would be the only one.
I got a ride with him back to the Navy yard and found that the
entire Navy and Marine contingent were commandeering cars and
trucks and buses. They were heading for Bataan, which was quite a
long way, about seventy-five miles around Manila and back up the
What an epochal ride that was! I was on duty covering the
withdrawal of a AA Btry from Imus. They were dismantling the
guns, and I was there to keep in touch with a CP by a 2-way
radio-telephone. When that job was over, I proceeded back to CP
by truck. On arriving back at Dahlehegan, I found everyone and
everything packed up and prepared to evacuate the Cavite
Peninsula. All manner of trucks and cars were commandeered for
the purpose. It was a regular “Taxi-cab Army”. In our particular
car there was four other Marines, one girl (disguised in
uniform), myself and -- a bottle of White Horse Whiskey (MINE!).
We traveled in convoy, at nite, no lights, and our little Ford
(1930) with no brakes. Accidents there were many, but the patron
Saint Christopher must have rode with us on that nite, for we had
literally dozens of hair-breadth escapes. The most serious mishap
we suffered was motor failure.
I squeezed into a 1935 AirFlow Chrysler, and we traveled at
night with no lights. There were many accidents -- cars and buses
going off the road -- but we managed to stay on the road.
We proceeded from Cavite to Manila, thence northward to San
Fernando. At San Fernando, the convoy took on gasoline and I was
shaken out of a drunken sleep and decided to switch cars to ride
with some friends of mine who had a little more leg room. A
fellow named Ike Williams was driving this car, a ’35 Airflow
Chrysler. Due to his inexperience, we had several very close
calls and so a fellow named IP Davis insisted he be allowed to
take the wheel. At San Fernando we learned that the Nipponese
were coming from the south to meet us. We knew they were close,
but we knew not how close they were.
We were running out of gas, though, south of Manila. At a town
called Cabanatuan we got some gasoline from a Filipino, and he told
us that we'd better hurry because the Japs were coming in from the
other end of town. We barely squeezed by the Japs coming from
further south, who would have cut us off if we hadn't made the turn
A few miles north of San Fernando, the part of the convoy
we were following decided to make a race of it. We raced along
behind them for several miles, and then they outran us. So there
we were, lost, in a strange country. We decided not to wait for
the main group, so we traveled on by following the main traveled
roads. After a time, we met some Army trucks and one driver gave
us instructions. Then the main convoy caught up to us and we
followed a driver who knew the way. When we neared our
destination the country became very hilly. The old car had a
leaky radiator, and when we were only a few kilometers from
Mariveles, she overheated and quit altogether. We deserted the
old car, and hitch-hiked on in to the Mariveles Section Base on