Some of the things I remember about my 4 months at the POW camp at Palo were (continued from the previous page):
During the years when the Japanese were in control on Leyte, there was a local resistance leader called "Captain Cinco" who hid out with his small army in the surrounding jungle. He would regularly attack and harass the Japanese garrisons. Living right on the edge of the jungle like we did at Palo, there were continuing rumors that Cinco and his army were about to attack our camp. He never did.
The night a jeep-full of us paid a visit to the Leyte National Cemetery to see the graves of thousands of GIs who had been killed in the battles that brought MacArthur back to the Island. Each grave was marked by a white cross, and on each cross was nailed the dog tag of the GI who was buried there.
As we drove our jeep into the cemetery, our headlights on the graves caused a reflection on the shiny metal of the dog tags, and for an instant it looked like a sea of sparkling diamonds. It was very impressive.
The example of how Captain Davis handled a disciplinary problem at the POW Camp. A Japanese subordinate prisoner had disobeyed one of the rules - this was a very rare event. Instead of punishing the prisoner himself, our Captain called in the offender and his Japanese superior. Right there in our office in front of everyone, the Japanese superior administered the punishment by knocking the offender off his feet several times.
The only other time in the 15 months I worked at the Japanese POW Camp that I saw any kind of "resistance" from the prisoners was when we ran short of rice and tried to substitute flour in its place. Our supply people had hoped the Japanese would use the flour to make bread as a substitute. It didn't work, the POWs insisted on having their usual rice.
I saw my first dead person at Palo. A couple of the local Filipinos had dug a tunnel under the fence around our supply yard and stolen some items. Our GI guards had found the tunnel and reported it to their superiors. The order went out to stop the stealing by making an example of the offenders. So, our GI guards staked out the tunnel and waited.
A couple of nights later a Filipino guy in his late 20s crawled into the supply yard and helped himself to a few items. When he crawled back out the tunnel, our guards killed him with rifle fire. They could have easily captured him alive, but instead they killed him. His body was turned over to the local Filipino authorities, and as a warning to others, they dumped his body in the small village square in Palo. The body was left there for two days, then taken away and buried.
The Leyte National Cemetery
Here, I saw the graves of the thousands of GIs who were killed just a few months before when MacArthur returned to the Philippines.
We landed at the beach near Palo, a small village on the island of Leyte.
The village at Palo
These palm-leaf huts were typical homes in the town.
A game of catch in our camp
Note the barracks and the mess hall in the background.
Cpl. Bob and our Company Jeep
Note the 2 stripes and the combat boots.
browse memoirs by:
An extraordinary collection of photographs
Fishing Baja 2000
Fishing the Sea of Cortez off Cerralvo Island
Also On This Site