Affidavit- Capt Michael M. Ushakoff

Zentsuji Main      Zentsuji Yank Roster
Affidavit - Regarding Zentsuji
Ushakoff, Michael M., Major, O-253933, 24th Field Artillery Regiment (Philippine Scouts), regarding treatment as a POW

I, Michael M. Ushakoff, Major. O-253933, permanent address, 2816 - W. 63rd St., Seattle, 7. Washington being duly sworn, depose and say this:

I was a member of the American Army, serving at Nichols Field, Manila, P.I. Nichols Field was raided by the Japanese on December 9, 1941. I moved my shops to the More Bicycle Factory, which I abandoned on December 27, 1941. From that time up to April 8, 1942, I worked on Bataan Field, Camp Cab Cabin Field, and Marveles Field. I didn't surrender to the Japanese until April 18, 1942. On that date I was forced to march from Bataan to Cabanatuan #3, where I was confined from July to November 1942. On November 2, 1942, we old engineers were transferred to Japan. We spent about three weeks traveling by ship from Manila to Moji. From Moji I was taken over to Tanagawa, near Osaka, Honshu, and held there from November 24, 1942 to January 16, 1943. I was then transferred to Zentsuji, where I was confined from January 16, 1943 to July 23, 1945. At the last camp, Roku-Roshi, I was held from July 25th to September 8, 1945, the day of my liberation by American forces.

During my confinement at the Zentsuji prison camp, we did not receive the proper food. We received three meals a day. As a non-working prisoner of war I received 290 grams of raw rice a day. Minus expenditures. Japanese rice came in sacks of 60 kilos a sack. During the transportation of this rice from one place to another, it would leak out of the sacks, but the sacks were issued a the camp as weighing 60 kilo when actually the weight would be between 40 and 50 kilos. In others, a sack would always be issued as 60 kilos, irrespective of how much rice had been lost from the sack. We received soup, which consisted of water, a very small amount of salt, sometime daicon, which is a very special brand of radish, and other American vegetables. For 700 men in the camp we were given about 90 kilos as day of this daicon, when it was in season. Otherwise we had to use weeds in soup, for example, sweet potato tops, or any kind of weed we could gather around the compound. We each received about a teacup of soup at every meal in the morning, noon, and evening. About once a month, we receive what they called "Joe Louis", which was nothing but gelatine. This was in place of soup. A very small amount of sugar was used. This was our average diet. There were tremendous amount of vegetables and cereals on the island, such as cabbages, radishes and turnips. Food could be bought on the outside, but the Japanese would not allow us to go outside and buy anything. Complaints were made to the Japanese through the International Red Cross Committee about the dire food conditions, but no changes resulted from these complaints. We were not permitted to discuss the conditions with the international representatives themselves. Petsuaji, Swiss representative from the International Red Cross, visited the camp twice and was not permitted to speak to any of us.

During my confinement at Zentsuji, we were housed under very poor conditions. Each room was 20 ft. by 22 ft. in size. It served us as a bedroom, dining-room, and living quarters. On each side of the room we had sleeping decks. Eight men slept on each side. Some of us who came to Zentsuji early in 1942 and 1943 had very poor quality straw mattresses. Later arrivals were provided floor mats. Five blankets were issued to each man. Two of them partly wool, partly cotton; the other three were cotton blankets. The rooms were full of bedbugs, and during the night rats were running over everything in the room. I the summer time, in addition to bedbugs, fleas and flies were prevalent because the latrine was so close to our room. Our room had a light bulb of from 15 to 25 watts. We were not permitted to have any light in the room during the day no matter how dark it was. From time to time we received bedbug powder through the canteen. I winter time we were not permitted to wash floors with water as the Japanese were afraid the boards on the floor would rot, so it was impossible to keep dust away from the room. Many of us came back to the states wit T.B., for example, Major Wray, (first name unknown) Ward #17, Section 4, Medigan General Hospital, For Lewis, Washington. [Capt Robert Stephen Wray, 3rd Pursuit Sqn.] For ventilation we had to open our windows or door, but being provided with very poor quality blankets and bedding, we couldn't keep our windows open during the night. There was no heating system whatsoever in our room. In winter time each one had to put on everything he possessed in order to keep warm. Hunger, dirt, and cold thus combined to make us miserable.

The latrines were located 40 ft. from our quarters. The Japanese peasants from the surrounding vicinity used to clean up the latrines, but inside it was the duty of officers (sanitary squad). Each room had its own latrine compartment ans the room leader was responsible for this compartment being clean, The latrines used to be a source of flies and mosquitoes. They were the outside type that didn't flush, with no seats, just plain holes in the floor. Once a week a general cleaning was made of the latrine. We were not permitted to use much water for washing floors in the latrines.

We didn't have and kind of tools or pocket knives. Even our forks were taken away from us and we were left with just the spoons too eat our food. The was nothing we could do to improve our quarters, And no help was given us.

Capt. Hositani (first name unknown) was quite an old timer over at Camp Zentsuji. He was more intelligent than most Japanese. His face always assured a perplexed thoughtful expression. He had gray hair. He was the most human (sic) of all the Japanese at the prison camp. I cannot further identify him.

Osabuki (first name unknown), interpreter, was a well educated gentleman and graduated from Cambridge, England. I cannot identify him further.

Lt. Nagashima (first name unknown) didn't pay any attention to us. He was responsible to the issuing of clothing to prisoners of war. He was supposed to order clothes for us, but we never received anything. He was drunk all the time. Nagashima was about 5' 11" tall, 42 years old, with Mongolian facial features, and a good posture. I understand he didn't have very good luck in the service. He was supposedly a professor of English in one of the best schools in Tokyo before the war. Because of his knowledge of the English language, he was not favored. It was always "tomorrow" when you asked him for anything, but tomorrow never came. He was originally from Tokyo. I cannot further identify him.

Other prisoners confined with me were:
Chat W. Olcott, Ensign, U.S. Navy, 2610 N.W. Overton St., Portland, Oregon: Pray, John I., Major, U.S. Army, 8025 Crandon Ave., Chicago, Illinois or Adjutant General Department, Washington, D.C.

I can add no further information to that given above, nor can I further identify the individuals involved.

/s/ Michael M. Ushakoff
Major Michael M. Ushakoff, O-253933

Subscribed and sworn to before me on this 23rd day of October, 1945, at Ft. Lewis, Washington

/s/ John Quigg
John Quigg
Asst Adjutant General
ASFTC Fort Lewis, Wash.

/s/ Benjamin J. Glasgow
Benjamin J. Glasgow, Agent, SIC