KENNETH H. OTTEN
LTJG, USN, 484880
|I was taken prisoner with the fall of Corregidor, P.I.
Treatment accorded us was far from what one would expect from a country
which lay claim to civilization. We were requested to remain within the
tunnel and only allowed to leave it to go to the latrine. We were not
given any food by the enemy while quartered on the island. Men
subsisted on what food they could steal from the Japanese.
On the morning of 7 May, a Japanese Naval Landing Force entered the tunnel and forced all there to strip naked. They marched them outside and were tying the hands of men behind their backs. As they tied their hands, they dragged them forward where they proceeded to beat the men with rifle butts. A Japanese officer finally came along and stopped them. We were told to dress. Many of the men’s shoes were taken. My glasses were smashed as were any other mans. On the 10th of May, all prisoners were moved to site which had previously been a garage and air strip. There was not sufficient water supply. We were lucky to be able to get a half a canteen per day. We made shelters from whatever we could salvage from dumps, such as tin, pieces of cloth and such. We had organized into groups which made it a point of stealing all we could on a share and share alike basis. We dug trenches to serve as latrines. We remained in this area until rain forced us out on the night of May 24, 1942.
We were crowded aboard transports in South Harbor, Corregidor the morning of the 25th to go to Manila. The ships were crowded many thousands were more then they could carry satisfactorily. Off the section called Lower Dewey Boulevard, we were loaded into assault barges and taken toward the beach. At a point several hundred yards from the shore they lowered the bow and shoved the men out. The water was deep and only those who were strong made the beach with their gear. On the shore we were shoved into lines to march to Bilibid. Enroute the Philippine people tried to give us food and water. The Japanese refused to let us drink or eat. When we got to the new location they finally gave us a small amount of rice. This was the first food which we received from them. Water was plentiful at the prison. On 28 May we were taken to the railroad yard and 100 men were put into small boxcars. Men passed out in the heat and were given little if any attention. There were many men and officers who died during the march from Cabanatuan to the camp area, 20 kilometers. What bits of clothing some of the men, they had to abandon in order to survive. The march started at 0600 and arrived at the camp at about 1500. We were refused water upon arrival. Other prisoners who had preciously arrived were chased off when they attempted to give us water.
Soldiers searched us taking anything of value including cigarettes and tobacco. The prisoners were quartered in nepa barracks that had been Filipino quarters before the war. There were 150 men to a hut. We were given small rations of rice three times a day. The sleeping area was about 14 inches wide with six men to a stall. The broth was made of various items such as sweet potato tops and peanut tops. Once in a while they brought in a caribou for approximately seven thousand prisoners. After a few futile attempts to ration it equally to the men, they (prisoners) decided that it would be better to make a broth of it. This was one of the most looked for meals that the men had. Working parties were taken out to various localities at times. Later these men as they deteriorated were returned to the camp. They, in most cases, were broken in health and showed signs of severe beatings, scarred and maimed. Malnutrition had set in to the extent that they could not walk erect. Camp working parties would dicker with the Filipinos when outside the camp. They would get select items once in a while such as canned fish, cigarettes or bits of sweets. I had contact with a Filipino girl who gave us new items. Surprisingly enough, they were authentic. In September of '42 they started shipping out large amounts of prisoners in groups of hundreds. On 5 October 1942, I, in company of approximately 1400 men, left camp #3 to march to Cabanatuan. The march was made at night, starting at 0100, 7 October 1942 for Cabanatuan. Upon arrival there at 0600, we were joined by a group from camp #1 and loaded 80 men to a boxcar for Manila. We were quartered on pier #7 Manila that night, food was scarce and very little water. On the 7th we were loaded aboard the To-Tori [Tottori] Maru, at the former Naval pier. There were 1994 officers and men (prisoners) and 2000 Japanese troops aboard. We sailed at about 1100 the 8th for Taiwan. We were given a fair amount of food and meat, fish and such as they had. Myself and another prisoner, at the request of the senior U.S. Army officer started cooking for the prisoners. We had gotten together numerous cooks and bakers to assist us. We managed to cook two meals a day for them.
On the 10th October 1942, off northwest Luzon, we had three torpedoes fired at us. Luckily they missed with the first two spreads and we were fortunate enough to dodge the third. It was the belief of experienced officers and men that they were shots of long range. This belief was more or less borne out by the slow speed which they were running. We were five days in passage between Manila and Taiwan. We put in at Takao Taiwan to take the provisions, and disembarked troops. There were approximately 24 prisoners taken off there to go to the hospital. Dysentery had broken out to some extent. There we also had many cases of beri-beri. We were shifted around in the holds. Where there had been approximately 650 men in 3 holds, we were shifted into 5 holds, which decidedly eased the situation. We proceeded to the Pescadores Islands where we laid for about 10 days awaiting convoy which never developed. When provisions ran low we went back to Takao and loaded more and started for Chosen (Korea). Enroute men started dying from malnutrition, beri-beri, and dysentery. In all some 14 men died during the voyage. They were buried at sea, weighted and sewn into canvas by Cecil Macabee, then Chief Boatswain’s mate, U.S. Navy.
We put in at Fu San [Pusan], Korea, either 6 or 7 November. At that place, some hundred men were sent to hospitalization. We disembarked approximately 1400 prisoners to go to Manchuria. We sailed the same date at about 1500 for Moji. Men were kept below after we arrived. Upon departure we took passage through the "Inland Sea" to Osaka. There I was placed in charge of 110 men and disembarked. Fourteen men were unable to walk due to dysentery, beri-beri and general weakened condition. They were taken to hospitalization, located in a stadium. Two of them later returned to camp, the others having died. We were marched by a prolonged route to a drill ground where we were schooled in Japanese Military salutations. This went on for hours in the cold with the men scantily clad in tropical clothes. We were ordered under duress to sign articles that we would not attempt to escape. The men were informed that if they did not sign they would be shot to death. That evening at about 2000 we were taken to our barracks on the waterfront area. There we joined with more prisoners from Guam and others from practically all other nations; this was 11 November 1942.
From this point on, my routine was governed by one Sanders, Phillip E., then Chief Boatswain's mate, U.S. Navy, who has turned into the Navy Department, Washington D.C., a full report of the events which took place from that date until the surrender of Japan. This man has since been to Japan and testified at the war trials and returned. I could not add or elaborate on information which this man has given.
Other than malnutrition suffering, I have not at this time found that I have any other ailments. At this writing, I still have a malnutritional defect that cannot at this time be sure that this is not permanent nature. Since having returned I have not regained my weight to the level of pre-war.
While in prison camp, I received a total of 11 Red Cross food packages. The Japanese officers, soldiers and civilian personnel attached to the Army was observed to take this food stuffs by individual boxes and by cases. 2nd Lt. Makai (Jap), Camp Commandant, daily took a parcel home. Also were shoes, etc., sent by Red Cross for prisoners.
Another Jap whose name was Kota, or Koda, who was very cruel to the prisoners, was a civilian attached to the army and came to POW #1 camp in Osaka late in 1942 and was in charge of distribution of Red Cross supplies of food and clothing for prisoners. Left Army service and took up service with Osaka harbor police about the middle of 1943. He was approximately 5' tall, very dark complection and thin weasel-faced features, thin bodied. Took supplies for himself and other Japs and strafed [punished] and beat prisoners at slight provocation.
Red Cross Medicines sent for use of POW was denied them and used for Japanese personnel. 1st Lt. Nossu and Pvt. Kondo took a large per cent of them.
Civilian Interpreter Fujimoto (Thug) strafed POW's, was American born and educated.
Tanaka, Sergeant (Strafer) beat POW's with sword, punched men with sticks etc.
Col. Maruta, Area Commandant, was greatly amused by them.
While serving in Manila area I was granted authority to wear civilian clothing while ashore. I also served as a member of the Naval Enlisted Men's Club which made the wearing of civilian clothes highly essential. When I submitted my claim for losses in Manila Area, I was told I would have to wait until a later date. My clothing was in storage at Bush's Cleaning Establishment in Manila. There was also in storage there two cameras. Following is a list of the articles as nearly as can be remembered:
Kenneth H. Otten, LTJG, USN
State of California)
County of Los Angeles) SS
I, Kenneth H. Otten, of lawful age, being duly sworn on oath, state that I have read the foregoing statement consisting of four pages, and that it is true to the best of my knowledge and belief.
Kenneth H. Otten
Subcribed and sworn to before me at Terminal Island Naval Shipyard, San Pedro, California, this ______ day of August 1946.
C.T. Linneman, Lt, USN
Authority Act of Congress,
April 9, 1943