American Prisoners of War: Massacre at Palawan

9/5/2006 • World War II

With the stunning defeats suffered by the United States, Great Britain and the Netherlands in the early months of the Pacific War, thousands of Allied military personnel became prisoners of the Japanese. The Americans captured in the Philippines were initially detained in filthy, overcrowded POW camps near Manila, but eventually most were shipped to other parts of the Japanese empire as slave laborers.

Among the American prisoners remaining in the Philippines were 346 men who were sent 350 miles on August 1, 1942, from the Cabanatuan POW camps north of Manila, and from Bilibid Prison in Manila itself, to Puerto Princesa on the island of Palawan. Palawan is on the western perimeter of the Sulu Sea, and the POWs were shipped there to build an airfield for their captors. Although the prisoners’ numbers fluctuated throughout the war, the brutal treatment they received at the hands of their Japanese guards was always the same. The men were beaten with pick handles, and kickings and slappings were regular daily occurrences. Prisoners who attempted to escape were summarily executed.

The Palawan compound was known as Camp 10-A, and the prisoners were quartered in several unused Filipino constabulary buildings that were sadly dilapidated. Food was minimal; each day, prisoners received a mess kit of wormy Cambodian rice and a canteen cup of soup made from camote vines boiled in water (camotes are a Philippine variant of sweet potatoes). Prisoners who could not work had their rations cut by 30 percent.

When six American POWs were caught stealing food in December 1942, they were tied to coconut trees, beaten, whipped with a wire and beaten again with a wooden club 3 inches in diameter. After this brutal episode, they were forced to stand at attention while a guard beat them unconscious, after which the prisoners were revived to undergo further beatings. A Japanese private named Nishitani punished two Americans, who were caught taking green papayas from a tree in the compound, by breaking their left arms with an iron bar.

Medical care was nonexistent, and one Marine, Pfc Glen McDole of Des Moines, Iowa, underwent an appendectomy with no anesthesia and no infection-fighting drugs. The prisoners suffered from malaria, scurvy, pellagra, beriberi and tropical ulcers, as well as from injuries suffered at their work or from the physical mistreatment perpetrated by their Japanese guards. When Red Cross supplies finally were received in January 1944, the enemy had removed the medicines and drugs from the parcels for their own use.

One American, J. D. Merritt, stated that fights broke out on occasion among U.S. POWs who were loading these supplies on the interisland steamers Naga and Isla Princesa in Manila for shipment to Palawan. It seems that some Americans were willing to rob their fellow prisoners and attempted to pilfer the Red Cross parcels. Merritt said that the men at Palawan ‘came to represent our ‘little brothers’ in that obviously their lot was much harder than ours. He also recalled that the POW dockworkers in Manila used to send notes of encouragement to the Palawan POWs and sometimes received notes back.

The Japanese unit in charge of the prisoners and airfield at Palawan was the 131st Airfield Battalion, under the command of Captain Nagayoshi Kojima, whom the Americans called the Weasel. Lieutenant Sho Yoshiwara commanded the garrison company, and Lieutenant Ryoji Ozawa was in charge of supply. Ozawa’s unit had arrived from Formosa on July 10, 1942, and had previously been in Manchuria. Master Sergeant Taichi Deguchi was acting commander of the kempeitai at Palawan, the Japanese army’s military police and intelligence unit. The kempeitai were much feared by anyone who fell into their hands because of their brutal tactics.

In September 1944, 159 of the American POWs at Palawan were returned to Manila. The Japanese estimated that the remaining 150 men could complete the arduous labor on the airfield, hauling and crushing coral gravel by hand and pouring concrete seven days a week. The total area to be cleared was approximately 2,400 yards by 225 yards, with the actual airstrip measuring 1,530 yards long and 75 yards wide. The men also repaired trucks and performed a variety of maintenance tasks in addition to logging and other heavy labor. Late in September, General Shiyoku Kou, in charge of all POWs in the Philippines, ordered the remaining 150 Americans returned to Manila, but that order was not carried out until mid-October, even though transportation was available.

An attack by a single American Consolidated B-24 Liberator bomber on October 19, 1944, sank two enemy ships and damaged several planes at Palawan. More Liberators returned on October 28 and destroyed 60 enemy aircraft on the ground. While American morale in the camp soared, the treatment of the prisoners by the Japanese grew worse, and their rations were cut. After initially refusing the prisoners’ request, the Japanese reluctantly allowed the Americans to paint American Prisoner of War Camp on the roof of their barracks. This gave the prisoners some measure of protection from American air attacks. The Japanese then stowed their own supplies under the POW barracks.

U.S. forces under General Douglas MacArthur had successfully landed in the Philippines at Leyte on October 19. While this was not known to the prisoners, the daily sightings of American aircraft led them to believe that their deliverance was not far off. MacArthur also signed a directive to the Japanese commander in chief in the Philippines, Field Marshal Count Hisaichi Terauchi, warning him that his military command would be held responsible for the abuse of prisoners, internees and noncombatants. The directive incorporated phrases such as dignity, honor and protection provided by the rules and customs of war and violation of the most sacred code of martial honor. Leaflets to this effect were dropped by air on enemy positions throughout the Philippines on November 25, 1944.

The constant presence of Allied aircraft overhead caused the prisoners to construct three shelters, each 150 feet long and 4 feet high, for their own protection during air raids. The Japanese had ordered that the entrances at each end of the shelters be only large enough to admit one man at a time. The shelters were roofed with logs and dirt and were located on the beach side of the camp. While not totally bombproof, they did offer a significant level of protection. There were also several shelter holes that could hold two or three men.

On December 14, Japanese aircraft reported the presence of an American convoy, which was actually headed for Mindoro, but which the Japanese thought was destined for Palawan. All prisoner work details were recalled to the camp at noon. Two American Lockheed P-38 Lightning fighter aircraft were sighted, and the POWs were ordered into the air raid shelters. After a short time the prisoners re-emerged from their shelters, but Japanese 1st Lt. Yoshikazu Sato, whom the prisoners called the Buzzard, ordered them to stay in the area. A second alarm at 2 p.m. sent the prisoners back into the shelters, where they remained, closely guarded.

Suddenly, in an orchestrated and obviously planned move, 50 to 60 Japanese soldiers under Sato’s leadership doused the wooden shelters with buckets of gasoline and set them afire with flaming torches, followed by hand grenades. The screams of the trapped and doomed prisoners mingled with the cheers of the Japanese soldiers and the laughter of their officer, Sato. As men engulfed in flames broke out of their fiery deathtraps, the Japanese guards machine gunned, bayoneted and clubbed them to death. Most of the Americans never made it out of the trenches and the compound before they were barbarously murdered, but several closed with their tormentors in hand-to-hand combat and succeeded in killing a few of the Japanese attackers.

Marine survivor Corporal Rufus Smith described escaping from his shelter as coming up a ladder into Hell. The four American officers in the camp, Lt. Cmdr. Henry Carlisle Knight (U.S. Navy Dental Corps), Captain Fred Brunie, Lieutenant Carl Mango (U.S. Army Medical Corps) and Warrant Officer Glen C. Turner, had their own dugout, which the Japanese also doused with gasoline and torched. Mango, his clothes on fire, ran toward the Japanese and pleaded with them to use some sense but was machine-gunned to death.

About 30 to 40 Americans escaped from the massacre area, either through the double-woven, 61Ž2-foot-high barbed-wire fence or under it, where some secret escape routes had been concealed for use in an emergency. They fell and/or jumped down the cliff above the beach area, seeking hiding places among the rocks and foliage. Marine Sergeant Douglas Bogue recalled: Maybe 30 or 40 were successful in getting through the fence down to the water’s edge. Of these, several attempted to swim across Puerto Princesa’s bay immediately, but were shot in the water. I took refuge in a small crack among the rocks, where I remained, all the time hearing the butchery going on above. They even resorted to using dynamite in forcing some of the men from their shelters. I knew [that] as soon as it was over up above they would be down probing among the rocks, spotting us and shooting us. The stench of burning flesh was strong. Shortly after this they were moving in groups among the rocks dragging the Americans out and murdering them as they found them. By the grace of God I was overlooked.

Eugene Nielsen of the 59th Coast Artillery observed, from his hiding place on the beach, a group of Americans trapped at the base of the cliff. He saw them run up to the Japs and ask to be shot in the head. The Japs would laugh and shoot or bayonet them in the stomach. When the men cried out for another bullet to end their misery, the Japs continued to make merry of it all and left them there to suffer. Twelve men were killed in this fashion. Nielson hid for three hours. As the Japanese were kicking American corpses into a hole, Nielson’s partially hidden body was uncovered by an enemy soldier, who yelled to his companions that he had found another dead American. Just then the Japanese soldiers heard the dinner call and abandoned their murderous pursuit in favor of hot food. Later, as enemy soldiers began to close in on his hiding place, Nielson dived into the bay and swam underwater for some distance. When he surfaced, approximately 20 Japanese were shooting at him. He was hit in the leg, and his head and ribs were grazed by bullets. Even though he was pushed out to sea by the current, Nielson finally managed to reach the southern shore of the bay.

Radioman 1st Class Joseph Barta, who had worked in his family’s poultry business before joining the Navy in 1934, later testified: At first I did not get into my shelter. But a Jap officer drew his saber and forced me to get under cover. About five minutes later, I heard rifle and machine-gun fire. Not knowing what was happening, I looked out and saw several men on fire and being shot down by the Japs. One of them was my friend Ron Hubbard. So I and several other fellows in the hole went under the fence. Just as I got outside the fence, I looked back and saw a Jap throw a torch in the other end of our hole, and another one threw in a bucket of gasoline.

The slaughter continued until dark. Some of the wounded Americans were buried alive by the Japanese. Men who attempted to swim to safety across the bay were shot by soldiers on the shore or on a Japanese landing barge commanded by Master Sgt. Toru Ogawa. Glen McDole, the Marine who had survived the appendectomy without anesthesia, hid in the camp garbage dump with two other men. One of them, a military policeman named Charles Street, made a run for the bay as the Japanese closed in and was shot dead. The second, Erving August Evans of the 59th Coast Artillery, stood up and said, All right, you Jap bastards, here I am and don’t miss me. He was shot and his body set afire. Somehow the enemy missed McDole, who later witnessed a party of five or six Japs with an American who had been wounded, poking him along with bayonets. I could see the bayonets draw blood when they poked him. Another Jap came up with some gasoline and a torch, and I heard the American beg them to shoot him and not to burn him. The Jap threw some gasoline on his foot and lit it, and the other Japs laughed and poked him with their bayonets. Then they did the same thing to his other foot and to his hand. When the man collapsed, the Japs then threw the whole bucket of gasoline over him, and he burst into flames.

When the Japanese ended their search for the surviving prisoners, there were still a few undiscovered Americans alive. Several prisoners hid in a sewer outlet. When the Japanese shone lights into the pipe, the POWs ducked under the water and were not discovered. After nightfall, they attempted to swim the bay, which was 5 miles across at that point. Several of them were successful, including Rufus Smith, who was badly bitten on his left arm and shoulder by a shark but managed to reach the opposite shore. Of the 146 enlisted men and four officers held in the Palawan prison camp, only 11 men survived the massacre on December 14, 1944. Most of the survivors swam across the bay and were rescued by the inmates of Palawan’s Iwahig Penal Colony, where several of the officials in charge were involved with the local resistance movement.

Another U.S. Marine, Pfc Donald Martyn, also swam the bay successfully but was never seen again after reaching land and turning north, in the opposite direction of the path taken by his surviving comrades. Filipino civilian prisoners at the colony, who were interned during the Japanese occupation of their homeland, fed and clothed the American POWs and contacted local guerrilla leaders on their behalf. The guerrillas escorted the Americans down the coast to Brooke’s Point, where they were evacuated by a U.S. Navy seaplane to Leyte. There they told their story to U.S. military authorities.

Barta, who described the Japanese kempeitai as the meanest bastards that ever walked the face of the earth, wandered the jungle for 10 days after swimming the bay. At one point, he came within 3 feet of a Japanese sentry on a jungle path before making his escape. Although wounded in that encounter, he managed to reach the Iwahig Colony, where he was hidden in a well. A local witch doctor treated his wounds by spreading a solution of boiled guava leaves over them with a gray chicken feather, accompanied by much dancing and hollering. He was reunited with Bogue and McDole, and they were ultimately evacuated from Brooke’s Point.

While there were no civilian witnesses to the massacre of unarmed prisoners at Palawan, after the war several Filipinos reported to American authorities that the Japanese officers from Captain Nagayoshi Kojima’s command and personnel from the kempeitai held a celebration to commemorate the event the same night that it occurred. Civilians who questioned the absence of the prisoners were given divergent replies–in some instances they were told that the POWs were all killed in American air raids, in other instances that the prisoners had been transferred to another camp.

The thoughts of one Japanese soldier regarding the atrocity were recorded in a diary left behind at the camp. December 15–Due to the sudden change of situation, 150 prisoners of war were executed. Although they were prisoners of war, they truly died a pitiful death. The prisoners who worked in the repair shop really worked hard. From today on I will not hear the familiar greeting, ‘Good morning, sergeant major.’ January 9–After a long absence, I visited the motor vehicle repair shop. Today, the shop is a lonely place. The prisoners of war who were assisting in repair work are now just white bones on the beach washed by the waves. Furthermore, there are numerous corpses in the nearby garage and the smell is unbearable. It gives me the creeps.

After Palawan was liberated by the 186th Infantry Regiment of the 41st Division, the men of the Army’s 601st Quartermaster Company, under Major Charles Simms, excavated the burned and destroyed dugouts to properly inter the dead Americans. The unit reported 79 individual burials during March 1945 and many more partial burials. Its report stated: 26 skeletons, some still with flesh on the bones, were found piled four and five high in one excavation. The skulls of these skeletons either had bullet holes or had been crushed by some blunt instrument. These were the dead from the compound thrown into the shelters by the Japanese after the massacre. The report also stated: Most of the bodies were found [in the shelters] huddled together at a spot furthest away from the entrance. This would indicate that they were trying to get as far away from the fire as possible. In two dugouts bodies were found in a prone position, arms extended with small conical holes at the fingertips showing that these men were trying to dig their way to freedom.

Japanese atrocities against Allied military and civilian personnel after capture were well-documented by war’s end. Although the famous Nuremberg Trials held in Europe received the lion’s share of interest, especially from the world press, the Military Tribunal for the Far East managed to capture the Americans’ attention. However heinous the crimes of the Nazi government, they rarely involved Americans, while the Japanese were brutal and criminal in their treatment of captured Americans and other Allied military personnel.

MacArthur essentially controlled the War Crimes Trials in the Pacific theater. On August 2, 1948, the Palawan Massacre trial began in Yokohama, Japan. On trial were several staff officers who had exhibited criminal liability through their failure to take command responsibility. Thus, most of the accused Japanese had very little direct involvement with the atrocities perpetrated at Puerto Princesa. However, due to the chain of command, they were deemed responsible. Their attitude was described as callous indifference to the fate of the prisoners in their hands. Of certain import in the trial was the introduction of a written order sent to each Japanese branch camp commander in May 1944. It stated that during an attack on a branch camp by the Allies, the main force shall keep strict guard over POWs, and if there is any fear that the POWs would be retaken due to the tide of battle turning against us, decisive measures must be taken without returning a single POW. In hindsight, there is very little doubt regarding the true meaning of this order to camp commanders.

Several of the American survivors of the Palawan massacre were willing to testify against their former tormentors and returned to the Far East for the trial. Under questioning, Marine Sergeant Bogue admitted that he had physically struck one of the accused, Superior Private Tomisaburo Sawa, several times while the Japanese soldier was confined in his prison cell after the war. When asked why, Bogue replied, For the same reason you’re going to hang him! But that was not to be.

At the beginning of the trial, the prosecution announced its intention to show that Lt. Gen. Seiichi Terada, commanding general of the 2nd Air Division headquartered in the Philippines, radioed instructions on the evening of December 13 to the 131st Airfield Battalion at Palawan to annihilate the 150 prisoners. Accordingly, the Japanese soldiers involved were issued 30 rounds of ammunition each, and the battalion commander announced to the men that due to an imminent Allied invasion, the prisoners regretfully were to be killed. Next, Lieutenant Sho Yoshiwara ordered fix bayonets and load five rounds (the magazine capacity of the standard Japanese infantry rifle), after which the massacre ensued.

Unfortunately, Lieutenant Yoshiwara was nowhere to be found after the war ended; nor was Captain Kojima, the prison camp commandant. In fact, it was impossible to find almost anyone from the Palawan garrison. The battle for the Philippines had been costly for both sides, but especially for the Japanese, who lost 80,000 men. There is no doubt that many of the soldiers who participated in the Palawan massacre died in battle or from disease. Many just disappeared in the hostile atmosphere engendered by the Japanese defeat.

Several weeks had passed between Japan’s agreement to surrender to the Allies and the actual signing of the surrender document aboard the battleship USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay on September 2, 1945. During that time, millions of Japanese wartime documents were destroyed, and most certainly many Japanese soldiers and civilians, who knew they would be held accountable for their actions against both soldiers and civilians, disappeared from view. The staff of the Allied War Crimes Tribunal accused the Japanese Demobilization Bureau of protecting these alleged war criminals from prosecution, but if they were, Allied threats had little effect.

The war was over, and Americans wanted to get on with their lives. The Japanese, who to this day do not accept responsibility for the initiation of hostilities in 1941, were reluctant to reveal any damaging information about their citizenry and military that could be concealed. At the same time, the U.S. government was anxious to prepare Japan for its new role as part of the defense system against the expansion of international communism, and the fate of 150 American soldiers caught up in the savagery of war was certainly not a political priority. Only the few survivors remained to beseech their government that justice be done.

In the end, six of the Japanese defendants were acquitted of the charges against them related to the massacre. The other 10 were given sentences ranging from two years’ imprisonment to death. The death sentence for kempeitai Sergeant Taichi Deguchi was commuted to confinement and hard labor for 30 years on July 19, 1950, by none other than MacArthur himself.

On March 23, 1949, Toru Ogawa, a company commander in the 131st Airfield Battalion who was charged with abusing 300 POWs and causing the death of 138 prisoners by ordering subordinates to massacre them by surprise assault and treacherous violence, and killing them by various methods, received his sentence of two years’ hard labor, reduced by 91Ž2 months for time served.

Tomisaburo Sawa, the prisoner struck by Sergeant Bogue while in jail, admitted in sworn testimony that he had participated in the Palawan massacre by killing at least three American POWs. On March 29, 1949, he received a sentence of five years’ hard labor, reduced by 131Ž2 months due to time served.

For all of the Japanese military personnel still imprisoned for their barbarous treatment of captured and interned Americans during World War II, liberation day was December 31, 1958, barely 13 years after the end of the war. At that time, any war criminals still in custody were released from Tokyo’s Sugamo Prison in a general amnesty. While all was certainly not forgiven, especially by those Americans who had survived brutal captivity at the hands of the Japanese, it certainly was officially forgotten by the American government.

In 1952, the remains of 123 of the Palawan victims were transferred to the Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery near St. Louis, Mo., where they lie in a mass grave, honored today by the few who remember.

This article was written by V. Dennis Wrynn and originally appeared in the November 1997 issue of World War II magazine. For more great articles subscribe to World War II magazine today!

94 Responses to American Prisoners of War: Massacre at Palawan

  1. stewart says:

    a terrible and tragic way to die for so many young americans

    • Dana says:

      Ive been there a couple times and i must say, its chilling to sit at whats now a very beautiful place and think about what those men must have gone through. I cant imagine how a man, of any nationality, can do what they did and as described here, get pleasure in taking another mans life in such a brutal way. Ive been all over the Philippines and visited many war memorials. The Palawan massacre is just one example of how the Japanese showed no mercy for either women or children and seemed to enjoy killing. Im glad to see that events of WWII have been memorialized so future generations can appreciate and honor men and women that are responsible for the freedoms we all share……………..visit my WWII Facebook album “Dana Potter”

  2. Gary says:

    Think about this, and Germany’s POW camps, and what went on there when you go out to buy a foriegn car. We would be eating rice or souer kraut if it were not for our troops, and their sacrafices. They say “Time heals all wounds…”
    Not for everyone….especially the ones who served

  3. Gray Foxx says:

    IT is too bad those convicted were let off so easy, sounds a lot like some of the NAZIs who got off. I guess in Post World War 2 America we were getting liberal soft then, and I foolishly thought it had not begun until the 1970’s. THe Japanese got the punishment they deserved during the war. While some more should have been made to pay more dearly, we cannot keep fighting the past. We should and always this be the case, honored those Americans who served and died for their sacrifice to keep us free.

    • Bob Last says:

      Dear gray fox,

      How sad that you have learned nothing from these stories other than hatred and anger.

      • Matt S. says:

        How sad you can’t see that someone is going to have some strong emotions when reading what they did to our American patriots who had nothing to do with the reason we were fighting a war. Even if they decided to commit crimes against they did was the best strategic move to better their position in the war… the manner it was carried out was brutal. The German fared far worse than the Japanese in trials. It was all a shame. I feel a saddened heart for the families of these brave men.

      • Richard says:

        My father, born in 1915, remembered the war first hand. He held hatred for the Japanese until his end and I won’t wrong him for that.
        Gunnery Sergeant of Marines, (ret.)

  4. Dr.Gerard says:

    I walk by the location of the massacre almost daily and always say a silent prayer for those who were killed. The reason not so many Japanese were never brought to the Filipinos hunted them down like dogs in the street and killed them.. Semper fi

    • H.Uchino says:

      I am very shocked to know Palawan POW stories. I visited the place a week ago and tour guide explained what happened there. Did you witness what you wrote about Japanese?

  5. […] in the Japanese prison camp at Puerto Princessa on Palawan and was one of eleven to escape the massacre there on December 14, 1944. You can read the story of the prison camp and the escape in Last Man […]

  6. Scott Halliday says:

    Being unaware of this atrocity in history until Veterans Day,
    2008, the words “We shall never forget” are more poignant than
    ever. God bless the souls of all those valiant men who endured a
    mission of sacrifce, torture, disease & starvation only to be
    massacred at the hands of a merciless enemy. Their lives were
    not in vain and let us never forget their sacrifice.

  7. Karen Miles says:

    My husband’s uncle, James Dewey Grahnert, was killed in Palowan in this
    massacre. His family didn’t know the details of what happened to him
    until the Marine Corps wrote a letter in May 1947 with a few details,
    including the names and addresses of three survivors. The letter claimed
    that 8 prisoners swam across the bay and made their way to guerilla forces
    and eventually to American control. The three named in the letter were,
    Douglas Bogue, Glen W. McDole and Rufus W. Smith.
    Thanks for the article. This has more detail than we ever knew. I know my
    husband will weep when he reads it.

  8. Michael Lee Mills says:

    Earl Jackson Mills ;my father, was camped at Scofield Barracks with an attachment of Marines the morning of Dec.7,1941. He later fought the Japanese on several islands in the Pacific. He never talked much about the war. I was named after his childhood friend Sammy Lee Caldwell. Both grew up in San Angelo, Tx.I don’t think my Dad ever knew the whole story of how Sam died.He only knew that Sam was captured and killed by the JAPS as he called them. Some still remember!!

  9. Robert Johnson says:

    No doubt our Government is consistant in the injustice to our veterans.

    Today, the Army Awards Branch refuse to recognize all personnel that fought the enemy as combat infantrymen, denying the Combat Infantryman Badge contrary to War Department Circular 269m dated 27 October 1943.


  10. Randy Adams says:

    My Grandfather Jewett F. Adams Sgt. Marines was one of the men killed at Palawan. At the begining of the movie The Great Raid it shows some of this massacre and my father, (Jewett’s son) cannot watch this movie and has asked us not to tell him about it because it pains him so much. My father was 8 years old when his father was killed by these murderers and it still greatly upsets him to this day knowing what his father went through.
    I have asked my father for the flag his mother recieved from the burial so I can keep his memory alive.

    • Bill Fitzgerald says:

      My father was stationed at Puerto Princess on Palawan after General MacArthur and troops liberated the island after this terrible massacre. I think of him often, especially around Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day. He was a young 18-19 year old working at a Naval Supply Station. My father never liked to talk about his time in WWII or the Phillippines, but I have his old photo album from his time there. Many pictures include the men he served with. If there is anyone you know or are related to that were stationed on Palawan during 1945-1946, please feel free to contact me at [email protected]. I may have pictures of their fathers or grandfathers.

      • Donna Jones says:

        my father’s cousin James A Pitts was killed in the Plawan Massacre I have been searching a very long time for anyone who knew him,mentioned him,has photos of him etc… any info would be greatly appreciated!! my appreciation to ou and my thanks to your father!!

      • Tracy says:

        I have a family member who was stationed on Palawan Island. Hi plane was shot down July 1945 and there is reason to believe that some of the crew survived, but were later killed on the island. There is one obscure record that reveals the discovery or remains that may or may not have included his, some of his crew members in 1952. His name was Ray Menendez. If you have any information or photos I would be very interested in them.

    • Larry Frederick Dunn says:

      Dear Randy,

      I am Larry F. Dunn the son of Octive Peggy Adams one of
      three sisters of Jewett. Peggy is now 84 years young and
      she is also a vet of WWII. Francis Adams, the younger of
      the three sisters of Jewett, is still living in Cartersville which
      is a stones throw from Canton. Bobby Adams , now in his
      mid 70’ds also lives in Cartersville. Bobby is the younger
      of the brothers of Jewett. Ty Adams has passed but as
      I recall my uncle Ty made a visit to see your father several years ago. Please contact me as we are past due to share
      our family travels through our ……
      …….” School of Life ”

  11. James Green says:

    I personally hope that the Japanese butchers had family in Hiroshima and Nagasaki when the atomic bombs were dropped. It would be partial pay back. A neighbor from my subdivision survived the Bataaan Death March and the subsequent brutal treatment until Liberation. He was about 30 yrs old when he died. Complications from malnutrition, beatings, disease, under a nation claiming to be civilized. One point he made quite clear, if he had known what was coming for American POWs he would have fought to the death killing as many Japs that he could reach.

  12. Jeffjohn67 says:

    I have the pleasure of knowing Mr. Mcdole, and I am his friend, “mack” is waiting to take the next Honor flight out of Des Moines, IA to see is memorial. “Mack” is the most humble man that I have ever known, if you pray send one of them to my friend Mack,

  13. William Moody says:

    my name is william moody, Glen McDole is my uncle.. He has always been my hero as were all the soldiers-Prisioners of Palawan. What they endured and went through is unbeliveable. It irritates me to no end that the purpatrators of this crime got off so easy. And then they ask for repperations for what we did to them. What a joke. In 1981 I served in the U.S. Army at Camp Zama ,Japan.. I should have blown up the island when I left. My e-mail is [email protected] feel free To enclose it with my comment if appropiate..

  14. joe balchus says:

    My father William J Balchus is a palawan survivor, and now lives with me in Yuba City Ca. He is from Pa. He will turn 88 in Oct. He dose not talk about being a POW. If their is any one with information on this subject, or about the 60th artillery on Corregidor feel free to Email me.

  15. David Koder says:

    Glenn McDole, 88, WW II hero, former prisoner of war, survivor of the Palawan massacre and father of Glenda Johnson, has died. The visitation will be from 5 to 8 p.m., Tues., Sept. 8 at the Highland Park Christian Church at 6th and Aurora. The funeral services will be at 2 p.m., Wed., Sept. 9 at the Highland Park Christian Church. The burial will be at Highland Memory Gardens on 2nd Ave & NE 60th. Memorial contributions are being collected in the Dean’s office, Bldg. 2 on the DMACC Ankeny Campus.

  16. Bart Duff says:

    I am a native of Oregon, now retired in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan. I want those immediate and extended family members of those American POWs massacred in December 1944 to know that the Philippine-American communities in Palawan are now initiating a complete rehabilitation and modernization of Plaza Cuartel, the site of the massacre. The first step is the design and placement of a memorial to honor the sacrifice of the victims of the massacre. Don Schloat, one of the survivors has been with us this September to participate in the dedication of the memorial. We would liket to communicate with as many of the families of both the victims and the survivors as can be identified to let them know their fathers, grandfathers, uncles, cousins and brothers
    have not and will not be forgotten. Write to us. My email address is: [email protected].

    We also intend to commemorate the role of the 186th Regimental Combat Team of the 41st Infantry Division for it role in liberating Puerto Princesa and Palawan just 10 short weeks following the massacre. This unit is an element of the Oregon National Guard, is still active and is currently deployed in Iraq.

    Blessings from Palawan.

    Bart Duff

    • Donna Jones says:

      thank you for the info…God Bless you and God Bless the men who died and survived that father’s cousin James A Pitts sometimes called (J) or Jay was killed that day….

  17. Cheryl Flothe says:

    My condolences to the McDole family. Mr. McDole’s book was very meaninful to us and a great memorial to those who suffered there at Palowan POW camp. My condolences, as well, to those family members of the Palawan Massacre in ’44. My thanks to those who survived the massacre and to those who served in WWII and other wars.

    My uncle, Raymond Shaw, was in the Philippines for a few years in 11/44-45, I believe, and served in the Navy. We are learning more and more as a result of pictures he left, his records and our research. We are very proud of his service and glad he made it home.

  18. Bill Duckworth says:

    Man has been brutal to his fellow man since the beginning of time. War can bring out the savagery and evil in man but also the honor, courage and generosity. My father, US Army , fought on Biak during WW 2, he only spoke of the war once. My daughter & I were sitting with him watching a 4th of July parade on TV. He began to speak, ” We had driven the Japs into a cave ( on Biak ). The US Commander told the Japs to surrender, they refused, barrels of fuel were rolled into the cave & ignited “. My father said, ” I can still hear those guys screaming !”. That was all he ever said about WW 2.
    War is HELL !
    Dear God have mercy on us and help us change from killing each other to living as one, in peace.

  19. Charlie Boley says:

    Bill Duckworth,
    With all due respect to you and your father, I do not believe that story. My dad was also a WWII veteran in the Philippines who fought to liberate my filipino mother and her family who were on one of the Philippine Islands. There is no doubt that the Japanese policy to not surrender even in the face of certain defeat and death forced US troops to drive them from caves using handgrenades and flamthrowers. I am sorry, but driving the enemy out of caves during battle and Janapese soldiers burning prisoners alive in POW camps is not comparable. The first is heroic the latter is murder.

  20. Phillip Wright says:

    The Japanese will erase this just like they erased Nangking and
    Project 731. I’s sure eventually the signs will be removed commorating the Bataan march and camp O’donnel. Sony has such a high stake in movie equipment and theaters they have control on what is shown. Phillappine women old enough to remember how the Japs made sport of them have erased it from their minds as well. On the side of a Church in Malate is lumps Japanese war atrocities along w/American war atrocities as the US Navy flattened Manila while trying to get to the Japs.. The PI has never really recovered from the 2nd world war. It is no wonder that the Hero of The PI is Lapu Lapu, the warrior that killed Magellan rather than allow a colonial power come and bully them. No doubt about it, the Japs were the hands down savages of the 20th century.


    I am proud and honored to be one of Glenn McDoles daughters. I just heard about this website from one of my dad’s best friends. As you know, my father passed away in September. He talked and spread the word about the “Massacre” all the time. He wanted the people to be aware of what happened and how 139 men were brutally murdered and yet this act has been over-shadowed by other crimes. My dad was a wonderful, caring man and you would have never known he had been through something like this. Dr. Carl Mango, was my dad’s hero. My dad had worked very hard to find his family and to honor Dr. Mango. He did locate a nephew a couple of years ago, and then dad went to work to have him honored. 2 weeks after my dad passed away, we were notified Dr. Mango had been posthumesly awarded the Silver Star. Also, there is a mass grave of the Palawan Massacre in St. Louis at the Jefferson Barracks. Please honor them if you ever go to St. Louis. One last thing, while my dad was very ill the last couple of months, he would have constant flashbacks from the massacre. There is no way anyone could even begin to know the hell these men went through. Please contact me if you wish: My email is [email protected]

    • Donna Jones says:

      God Bless you Kathy..and thank you and Blessings for peace for your wonderful father may he rest in peace!! I read his book….

  22. Terry Reed says:

    Some times I am ashamed to even be an American. If our government should stand up for anyone, it should be for all of our military from past and present. It is an appaling travisty that justice was not served on Palawan. Thank you to all the military and civilian people who lost their lives in fighting for freedom, it is YOU that makes the United States great, not our government. THANK YOU!!!!!

  23. Donna Jones says:

    My father fought in ww2 although he was no where near the Palawan Massacre he had a cousin James Pitts (aka) J or Jay.. James was killed in the massacre at palawan although I dont know the details of his stay at the camp or his death…for years my father Maylon Joes (aka)Bud thought James had died in the Bataan Death March.. A survivor of the march informed me James was at Palawan….

    I have read the Last man out…James name is in the back….

    this haunts me the way these men died and so little is known…I wish I had known of this long before now I may have found a survivor who knew James Pitts and could tell me about him…..

    God Bless us all and may they rest in peace….

  24. Donna Jones says:

    I just read the post from Glenn McDole’s daughter Kathy about Glenns passing away…I am sorry to hear that!! I have searched the Palawan Massacre everyway possible as my father’s first cousin James Pitts was killed there..I also read the last man out…

    I have respected and honored and prayed for Mr. Mcdole and the other survivors over the past couple years I have known about this….

    my thoughts and prayers are with the family…I havent been here in a long time so I am just now hearing of this….

  25. brian Blithe says:

    unbelievable, three years after admitting unimaginable toturous death of our fellow soldiers, i am trully shocked and apauled !!!

  26. John P. Brower, SFC, USA says:

    I had the honor and privilidge of meeting Glenn McDole on several occasions. He signed a book for my son who was in the Corps at the time, and I was so impressed with how he would take special care to write a personal sentiment to him…Semper Fi.

    As a career counselor for Soldiers in the US Army, we asked Glenn on several occasions to speak to Soldiers in terms of this not so very well known atorcity. (He never refused a request.) I know that his perspective on the reality of this segment of history, has had a lasting affect on those who heard him speak of it. It truly gives a person a sense of, ‘my God, if this man went through this kind of trial and survived, my trials and tribulations pale in comparison.’ What a great man, soft-spoken, willing to help anyone. The world would be a lesser place, if it were not for the impact he had on so many. God bless him, rest in peace my friend.

  27. Bill Lewis says:

    i had the pleasure of knowing Earl V (Red) May when I lived in Southern California in the sixties and seventies, he was a soft spoken man who I had a great deal of respect for. He was one of the survivors of the sinking of the U.S.S. Houston in the Java Sea, he ended up in a hellhole of a prison camp where he was tortured and starved for over 3 years.
    He did not like to speak about his prison of war experience but sometimes over coffee in the Southern Deserts he would start talking about his treatment, I knew him for over 4 years before he would talk to me about it, I have to admit I could not believe some of his stories as it was very hard for a 23 year old to understand how one man would treat another so savagely and cruelty.
    After reading some of the reports later in life I do believe all he told me.
    I do know “Red” returned to Japan to testify and watched some of those officers hang.
    I do know that for all his years after the POW experience he never again slept well.
    I also know he never, never forgave the “Damn Japs” as he called them.
    His wife told me once that the same man never returned from the war.
    When his camp was liberated the US forces treated him very different due to a sign hanging around his neck, which proclaimed in Japanese: “Insane and dangerous”. “Red” told me that he knew all along that he was going to be killed so why follow their orders.
    I wish I had taken some notes of our conversations.
    Bill Lewis

  28. Terry Draudt says:

    My Father and Uncle were both in WWII. My Uncle was awarded a Combat Infantry Badge and my Father witnessed the horrors of Hiroshima thirty days after the blast! They both served in the pacific and they saw the POW”s as the were liberated. They always hated the Japs! One day when I was 42 yr’s old w/ a wife and two kids to feed I found myself unemployed. I went to work for a Japanese company. My Dad asked me what it was like working for the Jap’s? I told him that I went to work clean and came home dirty and tired. Later in life He said that the Japanese he saw in the occupation of Japan were the hardest working people he had ever met. That is about as far as His forgiveness would go. The WWII vet’s who fought the Japanese. will probably never forgive or forget. If I would of been along side of the Veterans of the Pacific I would probably feel the same way after seeing the POW’s that they saw. War is Hell. The men of Palawan Know first hand as combatants and Pow’s. God Bless all our WWII Veterans!

    • Robert says:

      Terry Draudt says:
      My Father and Uncle were both in WWII. My Uncle was awarded a Combat Infantry Badge

      What is the name of your Uncle, and what unit was he assigned?


      • Terry Draudt says:

        My Uncle was Michael Draudt Jr. He was in the Solomons with General Beighler and the Ohio National Guard.

  29. jeff j says:

    take a look at, this year it pays honor to the men of the palawan massacre. RE: Glenn McDole. i will never forget and i will continue to tell this story as long as i am able, the soldiers that made it out alive and the ones that did not deserve no less, with out a witness they just disappear

  30. Myles Bancroft says:

    My father had a cousin, Everett (Dick) Bancroft who was among the victims of this massacre. He was a pharmacist from Canon City, CO. Our family will always remember his service and sacrifice.

  31. Betty Holm says:

    After reading this as a friend told me about this Web today, my heart is so heavy. But has brought to mind of my Wonderful Uncle Richard Foss, he was the youngest of 5 boys that were all in the military during WW11. Uncle Dick was in the Army & sent to Leyte Island in the Phillipines . When he retired from teaching he wrote a book which he illistrated, naming it ” The Way It Was”, copies are in 3 libraries in Des Moines, D.C. War Museum and 1 inTexas. All of his paintings his book and a video that he made explaining the pictures in the book and telling his story as he witnessed it the book, is at Ford Dodge Museum in Iowa, which he donated. My Uncle Dick passed away 4 years ago. All of the family members went there, the director of the Ft. Dodge Museum was there and took us to the room where everything is on display. It was heart warming to seeing all of his work on display to let everyone that comes know & see what War is really like.
    ” GOD BLESS AMERICA ” now and forever !
    Betty Holm

  32. Brenda Balchus says:

    I am the daughter-in-law of survivor William Balchus. He now resides with me and my husband Joe. He is 89 this year and although he very seldom talks of his time as a POW, we still hear him at night with the nightmares. He is in good health considering all that he went through. I am trying to find out if he is the last remaining survivor. I believe that he is. If anyone has any info that would help me, I would appreciate it. To Dad and all others that fought for our country I say Thank you for your unwavering loyalty and all that you have done for this wonderful nation- The United States of America.

    • Robert says:

      Noticed your father was assigned to I Battery, 60th Coast Artillery Regiment (Anti-Aircraft).

      Did your father received total recognition for combat service?

      Bronze Star Medal
      Bronze Star Medal (First Oak Leaf Cluster)
      Combat Infantryman Badge, an others?


      • brenda balchus says:

        We know that he receiverd the Bronze Star Medal and A Purple Heart, if there are any others we are not aware of them.

      • Richard says:

        There is a POW medal. It is kind of new and I don’t know what its requirements are except….dauuug, maybe being a POW. But you know the Govt.

  33. Carol says:

    I just found out today that my great uncle Cpl. George Murray Walker, USMC, died at Palawan. My father, who is 77, is reading the article now. For all these years the family was under the impression that Murray had died at Bataan.
    I have his 1932-1933 USMC annual, signed by men he must have gone through basic training with, and the telegram sent to his grandmother when he was reported missing in 1942. There are also letters stating he had died but with no details concerning how he died except in the line of duty.
    There are also some old photos of people who my family doesn’t know, but are possibly some of the men he served with.
    I am grateful to those who have provided the information we’ve been ignorant of these many years and thankful that my father was able to read the truth finally about his uncle’s death.

  34. Robert E. Johnson says:


    Please open sites below.,26283,26284,26286,26287,26288&bc=,sl,fd&txt_26281=Walker+George&op_26281=0&nfo_26281=V,50,1900&rpp=10&pg=1&rid=28134&rlst=28132,28133,28134,28135

    It confirms he “Died in Palawan Massacre on 12/14/44.”,11660,11679,11667,11669,11676,11672,11673&bc=,sl,fd&txt_11675=230063+&op_11675=0&nfo_11675=V,8,1900&rpp=10&pg=1&rid=34142

    Was your Great Uncle posthumously awarded the following:
    Bronze Star Medal
    Purple Heart
    POW medal
    Distinguished Unit Citation (Presidential Unit Citation) w/ 1 Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster), among others?


    • Carol says:

      I haven’t found any documentation for posthumous awards he may have received.
      When my grandmother died there was one medal she had saved in a jewelry box. I know it belonged to Murray, but I don’t know what it is. My brother, who was in the Marine Reserves, has that medal now and I’ll ask him to bring it over so it can be identified. I believe I may also have an American flag possibly received from the memorial service in St. Louis.
      There are also two form postcards from him while he was a POW.
      In the annual I mentioned there is a picture of the band; two of the men have hand-pencilled initials under their photos. One of them is Murray and the other is James O’Donnell from Georgia.
      If there are others interested I would gladly scan and post what photos I have.

    • Robert says:


      >I haven’t found any documentation for posthumous awards he may have received.

      Are you interested to pursue the answer, and possibly the awards earned?


    • Carol says:

      Yes, I would be interested in any information, etc. Please contact me.

    • Carol says:

      No, I have not applied for anything.

      • Robert says:


        I identified a list of some awards and decorations due. Seems we are not accomplishing anything through this thread. If you wish to correspond through email…

        [email protected]

  35. Donna Jones says:

    to the person who left this post is 2006

    American Prisoners of War: Massacre at Palawan » HistoryNet
    5 Sep 2006 … James was killed in the massacre at palawan although I dont know the … I may have found a survivor who knew James Pitts and could tell me about him… …. two of the men have hand-pencilled initials under their photos.

    I cannot reply to you dont know how to find this post from computer crashed and I lost this website addy till doing a search today..if you see this please let me know…thank you…

    • Bill Fitzgerald says:


      I was the one that referenced pictures. I have my father’s photo album for the time he was stationed on Palawan, but it was after the Massacre and when the US re-took the island. My father was stationed there when it was a supply air and naval base. God bless you father’s cousin and the other brave men who lost their life or survived this terrible tragedy.

  36. Neil Street says:

    My Uncle Charles Hiram Street was killed in the Palawan Massacre. He is mention by Pfc Glen McDole in his report as being shot making a break for the bay. My father never spoke much about his big brother Charles. I have read returned letters sent by my grandparents to their son when he was a POW hoping for a safe return and a promise of a great future. I’ve also read the letter sent to my grandparents advising the death of their son. When I asked questions about my Uncle Charles I was only told he was identifed by his teeth only. My father sold his car to fund the trip for my grandmother to attend her sons burial at Jefferson Barracks in 1952.
    Thanks to everyone involved putting this site together as it has helped me understand what happend. Let us never forget their and their families sacrifice for our freedom.

  37. jean says:

    i cant believe and imagine that japanese a long ago were so evil,my grand mother and fathers told us thier sufferings under the japanese invasion here in philippines but after i read this article i was shocked the ways of killing of those prisoners was so immoral,no mercy.

  38. […] McDole, another member of Company M and a prisoner of war at Puerta Princesa camp at Palawan, mentioned encountering Barna in […]

  39. […] details of how these helpless men were butchered (kindly provided by Canuck) are truly horrifying: Massacre at Palawan. A similar order (in the event of an Allied invasion) had been issued in Japan, and the equally […]

  40. Melba Cos says:

    You can visit Palawan Special Battalion WW-II Memorial Museum for some stories of WW-II in Palawan Province….this museum is maintain by the descendants of Dr. Higinio Mendoza, Sr. the WW-II Hero in Palawan.

  41. Dana says:

    Ive been there a couple times and i must say, its chilling to sit at whats now a very beautiful place and think about what those men must have gone through. I cant imagine how a man, of any nationality, can do what they did and as described here, get pleasure in taking another mans life in such a brutal way. Ive been all over the Philippines and visited many war memorials. The Palawan massacre is just one example of how the Japanese showed no mercy for either women or children and seemed to enjoy killing. Im glad to see that events of WWII have been memorialized so future generations can appreciate and honor men and women that are responsible for the freedoms we all share……………..visit my WWII Facebook album “Dana Potter

  42. Tom says:

    My great uncle, Sergeant Richard Koerner, was captured on Corregidor and one of the victims of the Palawan Massacre. His name is on the Palawan Memorial and on the mass grave at the Jefferson Barracks.

  43. Joe Labarrere says:

    The brutality of Imperial Japan has never resulted in a formal apology from that nation. Further there has and probably never will be any form of compensation for the few living survivors and the families of the deceased. Japan cannot speak of pride and honor until she formally apologizes and compensates for her ghastly actions
    My uncle, Michael Gorman, was captured following the sinking of the U.S.S. Sculpin (SS191) in November, 1943. Takento Japan he was tortured at the infamous Ofuna Naval Camp. Wounds untreated, he eventually collapsed while working in the Ashio copper mines. He was sent to Shinagawa hospital camp where he was finally liberated after 22 months. He was 17 when captured. He forgave the Japanese as the result of what he called an Act of God about the time of the surrender signing on the U.S.S. Missouri. He stayed in the Navy retiring as a Chief Petty Officer after 23 years. I still miss him.

  44. Robert says:

    ‘ ”We shall never forget’ are more poignant than
    “let us never forget their sacrifice.”

    There is another category not mentioned towards these veterans. It is the military version of recognition. A procedure in accordance with pertinent guidelines. One can say it is the way the military shows gratitude towards members of the Armed forces for their sacrifice, and acts performed during combat.

    For those who survived the procedure should have been carried out. For those who lost their lives, obviously, it requires the next of kin to initiate the process. (Exception: posthumously awarded the Purple Heart).

    Unfortunately, both systems have fell by the wayside as far as my research reveals. Substantial numbers of participants on the Philippine Islands during the 1941/42 campaign never received full recognition.

  45. steven paris says:

    I was curious since you have been there if there is a war memorial on palawan? Would like to pay my repects next time I am there. Have you ever been to the park @ cabanatuan? I heard it was unsafe to go there. Can’t be any more unsafe than Zamboanga..

    Thank you
    Mr. Steven Paris

  46. cheryl hinton says:

    My uncle, Waldo Stedham Hale, Navy, served on the USS Mindenao (gunboat) also is one of the men buried in the mass grave at Jefferson Barricks National Cemetary, St. Louis, MO. He was born and raised in Saybrook, IL. He had 8 brothers and sisters. The remaining family just buried the 3 remaining sisters in 2012. My mother, Margaret C. (Hale) Hinton passed 8/27/2012, Laverne Irene (Hale) Hinton passed 9/18/2012 and Dorothy (Hale) Porter passed 10/16/2012. All we know is he was one of the men shot while trying to swim across the bay per information from the museum in St. Louis, MO. His brother, Earl Smiley Hale was with the Army and volunteered as part of the rescue team, of which, they did not make it in time to save anyone.

  47. […] of the 146 enlisted men and four officers held in the Palawan prison camp, 11 men survived the massacre. Most of the survivors swam across the bay and were eventually […]

  48. Brenda balchus says:

    To anyone using this site for valid reasons be very leery of the motives of other people. I am forwarding an email sent to me by this person who wanted me to ask my 92 year old father-in-law the following questions. As William Balchus does not ever talk about his time being a POW or the Palawan Massacre I use this website to get any and all information that I can about it. I just think the following email was quite DISGUSTING and DISRESPECTFUL, not only to my father-in-law, but to all the men that fought and lost their lives during this incomprehensible moment in history. Just be careful of people like the following man. If he was legit he would not have asked me to keep it quiet. GOD BLESS all our family members!

    \Hi Brenda,

    I don’t know your grandpa personally. I just read about him in the blog where I made the inquiry. Thank you for replying.

    Please ask your grandpa, if there were some talks going on amongst the US Army prisoners that were massacred if the Japanese soldiers ever buried gold bars in Puerto Princesa or nearby, specifically the POW camp. The Japanese looted gold bars and jewelry from other Asian countries then (WW II) and reports say that some were buried in the Philippines.

    I am just wondering if the knowledge of the gold bars/treasure burial site (by the American prisoners) was the main reason why the Japanese guards killed them all (except those who escaped). There were no reports of American POW’s massacred by the Japs in the other POW camps in the Philippines. However, they did so in the POW camp in Puerto Princesa, Palawan.

    The Japanese Officers were known to execute (kill) all involved in the burying of their gold bars including their own men assigned to secure the area while the dig and burying was on-going. This was done to protect the location of the burial site. If those involved lived then they could come back later and get the gold bars for themselves, so they killed everyone.

    I am just wondering if this could have been the real reason for the massacre. It does seem that the Japanese commanding officer was dumb if he ordered the massacre for any other reason especially when he knew Japan was loosing the battle in the RP and by this time maybe Japan had surrendered already. Massacring the US soldiers just to kill them would certainly bring the wrath of the attacking US soldiers on the POW Japanese officers and guards. I find it hard to believe that was the reason. However, killing everyone to protect the gold/treasure was a better reason. Of, course, it is also possible that they killed the Americans just for the heck of it, because they were cruel and enjoyed it.

    First of all, if you feel this is not a good idea to ask your grandpa the question, please disregard, because I don’t want to upset him in anyway or bring back bad memories. I married a woman from P Princesa and have acquired a treasure hunting spirit. I have been doing a lot of reading and querying and this question for your grandpa can satisfy my curiosity.

    Thanks so much and I hope you understand. I will leave it up to you to decide if it is proper to inquire from your grandpa, considering his physical condition and age now.

    I would appreciate it too if you keep this matter to ourselves and not mention this in the blog or anyone else. Please keep in touch and take care. My best regards to your grandpa. They suffered a lot under the hands of the cruel Japs and many have died just so we can now drive Japanese cars and use their PC’s and Tablets.

    God bless all of you!

    Thanks so much.

    (Name removed)

    • Michael Brown says:


      I am SHOCKED at the audacity of this guy who tried to take advantage of your grief and heroic acts of your grandfather. Would you reconsider posting his name? Its someone we should all know. I would certainly like to meet him. He dishonored every man who suffered at this POW camp.

      • Michael Brown says:

        I apologize….I should have said Mr. Balchus was your Father-in-Law.

      • Brenda Balchus says:

        I don’t have his name anymore. When I originally posted this email, his name was included and the site removed it. I had originally saved the email, but it has since been deleted.

  49. Donna Jones says:

    My father Maylon Jones who was in the army during ww2 had a first cousin James Pitts who was killed in the Palawan Massacre…I own and have read last man out and was lucky enough to recieve email from The Author before he passed away… This tragedy haunts me all the time as I wonder what James went through and how it could have been my daddy…I will always remember and never forget and hope all of these men are RIP….. I have how ever not found any other info or photos of James Pitts other than his name in the back of the book and at the mass grave….it haunts me and want to know so much more….

  50. Jooe balchus says:

    My father passed away Dec 11 2013. I think he was the last survivor. He never talked about the war. It was something he wanted to forget If any one has info about Palawan Masacure Please get in touch me at [email protected] or call me 530-671-4326

  51. Lee Hall says:

    I am 57 years old and I had never heard of this until today. I am reading Laura Hillenbrand’s book \Unbroken\ about Louie Zamparini’s experiences during WW2. I have been shocked by all I have read, knowing only about German war crimes. She says that the Japanese government had been deliberately brutalizing their society for decades which prepared them to do the terrible things they did. What is chilling to me is that the Japanese people who are in charge of things today are only one generation past this. How have they been raised and how much, if any, of that brutalization has been reversed?

    I now understand much better my mother’s hatred of the Japanese and anger when we purchased a Toyota some years ago. Her first husband was killed in Italy

    I am happy to say that I researched my last car purchase and bought a SUV that was not just and American brand, but actually built in America … a. GMC Terrain.

  52. David Peterson says:

    I just returned from the Phillippines 10/7/14, it was my 8th trip in 8 years. I am in government and every year when I travel and explore different islands, I learn more about the wonderful soldiers discussed by their family members above. I was fortunate my father survived the war, but like so many testimonials here he never discussed his travels. It was my brother who was in the Army who requested my father travels from the Navy did I know he was in the Phillippines. Rarely did he comment on his time in service, but as I have learned in my travels and read in stories or saw in documentaries about the war – it was much worse than many knew. I have been to Pearl Harbor six times, I have had the opportunity to listen to the surviving veterans there. Pearl Harbor should be a requirement for all Americans, what you see there is not the same as in books or in a movie. To stand above the USS Arizona as it still bubbles an occasional oil bubble to this day. I was just in Palawan the last two weeks of my trip and stayed on Rizal street just down the road from Cuartel Plaza, site of the prison. I had no idea this existed until I arrived in Manila and met my work mate who was born in San Fernando where he was visiting family and where the death march ended. My mission this trip was to see his city and travel with his brother to Bataan, which we did. We climbed the steps to Mt. Samat and learned about the events of that battle that would end up taking the lives of all the US troops who were trapped on the mountain top. The memorial is a smaller version of Pearl Harbor but so wonderfully cared for and presented, with an above ground museum with portraits and stories of most of the soldiers and learders involved and then to go down the winding steps to the air conditioned lower chamber with oringal photo’s, weapons, uniforms and articles of many of the battles in the region. It was incredible to see, but like Palawan very sad. To learn of the events on Palawan and visit the prison site which is now very well maintained, I was surprised more was not said of Don Schloat who is highlighted as being instrumental in the early development of the site as noted on the memorials, I was sadded to see his name spelled wrong on one of the memorials (Schlot and Schloat) for such a respected hero who was one of the eleven who survived that day. It truly was one of my bests trips ever, from Bataan to Palawan to my final day on the way home in Seoul Korea where I visited the US Memorial with more accolades for MacArthur and his contribution during the Korean War. What is disappointing is when I was at Bataan there are only a handful of people chasing history like me, at Palawan there were more groundskeepers then visitors. When I was in Hanoi Vietnam a few years ago tracing John McCains journey and imprisonment, to the lake he was shot down in, to the actual Hanoi Hilton prison he was confined in, there were only two people there the day I visited. My hope is sites like this will flourish, continue to inform and more will chase history, travel, learn, respect and share their stories. We owe our veterans everything and must never forget. Thank you to the survivors, the veterans and the families. D. Peterson Phoenix, Arizona

  53. Maureen Barta says:

    Thank you all for publising and responding to this site. I am the daughter-in-law of the late F. J. (Joe) Barta, Palawan survivor. His son, Eric, is my late husband and passed as a result of agent orange lymphoma from Viet Nam. Joe was an amazing man and a true survivor having lost both his parents as a young child and was placed at Father Flannigan’s Boys Town. Joe married Jean and they had two children, Linda and Eric. He rarely talked of his experience as a prisoner of war but credited his late mother for some strength in his survival by sitting on the foot of his bed each nite telling him that he would make it! And he did. Joe’s grandson, also Joe Barta, has had the honor of meeeting and marrying an amazing Phillipino women in San Diego. As it turns out, her family was responsible for helping in the care of my father in law after his escape from the prison. They risked themselves to protect this man. Joe and Christina are expecting a child. I am honored to be part of both of these incredible families and feel that this story speaks to the grace of God and divine intervention for all the men who survived this ordeal and honors those who did not!

  54. Ralph DeMattia says:

    After reading this, and seeing the movie THE GREAT RAID, why does anyone give a Fairy F**k that the Japs are complaining about how bad the new film UNBROKEN makes them look? Thjey were, and still are, a cruel, sadistic, arrogant race of creatures and the world should KNOW IT!!!

  55. […] originally published by World War II magazine, published online, September 5, 2006. HstoryNet. ( : accessed 21 March 2015). The wholesale massacre by the Japanese of prisoners of war at Palawan […]

  56. Ralph Hoekstra says:

    My father-in-law, TM1C, Emerson J. (Mike) Milliken, was captured on Corregidor and was sent to Cabanatuan POW camp. He didn’t talk much about his time as a POW, but he did tell us a few things. He said he was in a camp on an island that did not have a perimeter fence. We gathered from this statement that he may have been on a work detail away from Cabanatuan, as that camp did have a perimeter fence. We are wondering if there was more than one group of POWs sent to Palawan? Mike went to Japan aboard Noto Maru in August 1944, so he wasn’t one of the 159 sent to Manilla in September 1944.

    BTW, Mike and JD Merritt became good friends as POWs in Sendai #6 and JD mentioned Mike in his book “Adapt or Die.”

    Ralph Hoekstra and Jane Milliken

  57. […] prisoner attempting escape or about to be liberated. On Jan. 7, 1945, the Army learned about the Palawan Massacre where 135 of the 146 prisoners on a work project were brutally murdered. The other 11 men escaped, most with serious […]

  58. Sadiq Jhilam says:

    may their soul be rest in peace and culprits may get their punishment by god

  59. mtent57 says:

    This is why I will never buy a Japanese car.

  60. Peter says:

    We must never forget the price paid, the pain, suffering, the lives lost for our freedom today. Never, ever feel sympathy for Hiroshima or Nagasaki.

  61. louisk says:

    My father served in the Pacific. All he could ever say was……… was war…………………no more no less…….until he died………..

  62. Danelle Adams Skala says:

    My great uncle Jewett F Adams was killed there. When o hear Japanese Americans complain about the way they were treated here during the war I want to throat punch them after reading this.

  63. LeadingED says:

    All those in the Sugamo prison and other proven murderers should have been executed.

  64. HyperU2 says:

    Sounds like they had a lot of fun.

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