Bilibid POW Camp
Manila, Philippines

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Quick Facts:
Former Civilian prison converted to a POW camp, hospital and transit camp for POWS. Almost every man captured on Corregidor passed through this camp at one time or another. As it was a transit point for movement to other camps, e.g., Davao, and for hell ships to Japan, it is safe to say that over 80% of all survivors from Bataan also passed through this camp.

First major use as transit point for high ranking officers from Bataan and for all men from Corregidor.
27 May 1942: First shipment of Corregidor POWS depart for Cabanatuan
3 Jun 1942: Exodus of high rank officers to Tarlac begins.
2 Oct 1943: 150 doctors, medics and patients transferred to Cabanatuan. Included were Doctors Ferguson, Berley, Bookman and Glusman. Corpsmen Richard Bolkster, Bernard Hildebrand and Ernie Irvin.
Remaining were: Doctors Carey Smith, Max Polhman, Marion Wade (Exec Officer) & Gordon Lambert.
Source: John Glusman

The Last Days of Bilibid / Record of Events - by Sgt. Ike Thomas / Medical Dept., Bilibid Prison

Photos - middle of page

Bilibid Medical Staff:
Commanded by Col Hayes who replaced Captain Lea B. Sartin who was assigned by Japanese. [Sartin- first Med CO at Bilibid]

Japanese Staff:
Headed by Captain Kusamoto but Bilibid doctors under control of Nogi Naraji, Captain IJA (MC)

Originally three facilities.
#3- 15 miles from city of Cabanatuan: received the first group of POWS from Corregidor via Bilibid on 27 May 1942. By May 30th, camp population up to 6000.
May 31st: 1500 arrived at camp #2 which was nine miles from town. Water supply inadequate and men transferred on 3 Jun 42 to Cabanatuan #3.

Camp #1 up to 7000 internees
Two large drafts left in Oct 1942 and balance of men sent to #3. O'Donnell closed except for hospital.

The Rescue - Wonderful story by Stanley Frankel, one of the men who rescued the internees & POWS at Bilibid. Well written and factual.

Report by Charles Johnstone - Detailed report of events at O'Donnell, Cabanatuan, Davao, and Bilibid, including airfield construction near Lasang. Of note is the lengthy section on narcotics (opium, marijuana) and its use by Japanese personnel, contributing possibly to atrocious behavior towards POWs.
Bilibid Transfer Roster
Bilibid Liberation Roster - Bob Hudson's comprehensive work: "After two years of research, and discovering five different Bilibid liberation rosters, I combined all five, removed duplicate names. I added as much information on each individual I could find. No one roster had much more than about 800 names, mainly because they were military rosters."
Death reports (RG 331 Box 1322) - 1942-1945;
military and civilian POWs listed include American, Filipino, British, Dutch; also some cemetery records with grave locations.
Bilibid escapees and statistics (RG 407 Box 123) - Escaped American POWs - Bilibid Prison, etc. Also military and civilian POWs in custody of Japanese Military Police and personnel transferred to Japan. Mostly American, but also Czechoslovakian, Norwegian, British, Swiss, Bohemian, Russian, Dutch and Filipino.
Deaths records A - B
(RG 407 Box 174)
Folder 1: U.S. Naval Hospital, Bilibid Prison. Death reports, burial plots and graves. May 42-June 43. American, Filipino and unknown civilians and military personnel.
Folder 2: Duplicate of Folder 3. Bilibid POW Camps. Death reports. Includes Books I, II, III, IV, V (incomplete) and VI, which are out of order. Sworn affidavits regarding deaths and burials, some personal descriptions of the deceased.
Folder 3: Bilibid Prison POW Camps. Death reports, sworn affidavits and diaries of Capt. Ben E. King and S/Sgt. Bernard O. Hopkins. Includes Books I, II, III, IV, V and VI. Sworn affidavits regarding deaths and burials, some personal descriptions of the deceased. Includes American and British civilians and military personnel.
Folder 5: Death Reports Bilibid Prison. 1944-1945. Includes Camp II. Includes American, Dutch and British civilians and military personnel.
Folder 6: Death Reports Bilibid Prison. 1942-1945. Deaths and Grave Locations. Includes American, Filipino, British and Dutch civilians and military personnel.
Folder 7: Death Reports Bilibid - Book V and/or VI. Includes burial details and cemetery maps. Cover may be mis-labeled. Hand-written notebook. American civilians and military personnel. (A couple of British names included.)
Folder 8: Death Reports - Bilibid Prison Hospital. 1942-1943. Some deaths listed by specific location. A few medical reports. Deaths summarized by cause. Includes deaths of American, British, Dutch and Filipino civilians and military personnel.
Folder 9: Death Reports, Bilibid Prison, with dates and in some cases, place of burial. May, 1942 - August, 1943. Includes deaths of American and Filipino civilians and military personnel.
Death records (RG 407 Box 175)
Folder 1: Death Reports & Graves Registration - Bilibid Hospital, Cabanatuan POW Camp #s 1 & 3, O'Donnell, April 22, 1942 to November 22, 1942. "Death reports of American POWs, death rolls, cemetery records & cemetery maps showing grave locations. Folder has suffered considerable water damage."
Folder 2: Death Reports & Graves Registration, December 3, 1941 to August, 1945. Various Manila cemeteries, Bilibid Hospital, Cabanatuan POW Camp # 3 & Bilibid Prison - Only U.S. POWs. (Only cover photographed.)
Folder 3: "Bilibid Prison, Manila Cemetery # 2. Del Norte disinterment records." Mostly American POWs. Two Allied POWs, including 1 Dutch POW (page 1 - see death certificate in Folder 8). (Only cover photographed.)
Folder 4: Cabanatuan POW Camp Hospital - Strength reports showing names of those deceased. March 15 to June 15, 1943. (Only cover photographed.)
Folder 5: "List of U.S. POWs that died in Bilibid Prison - 1942. From the diary of CPHM R. W. Kentner." Includes American & Filipino POWs, military personnel & civilians.
Folder 6: "Reinterment Bilibid Prison. Bilibid Prison Manila Cemetery # 2." List of American, British & Filipino reinterments.
Folder 7: "Lists of Deaths and Burials - Bilibid. Source: Chaplain Perry O. Wilcox." American, Filipino & Canadian (1) POWs, military personnel & civilians. Dutch POWs referenced on pages 17 & 25. (Contains many duplicates.)
Folder 8: "Original Death Certificates - Bilibid. Includes Pasay. Thick folder with lots of medical details." Miitary personnel & civilians - Mostly American POWs, but also German (?), British & Dutch (pages 22-23A, 33-34A). (Only a few American death certificates photographed. All non-American death certificates photographed.)
Folder 9: Vol. I Death reports compiled and maintained at Cabanatuan POW Camp. Thick folder of hand-written reports. (Only cover photographed.)
Folder 10: Vol. II Death reports compiled and maintained at Cabanatuan POW Camp. Thick folder of hand-written reports. (Only cover photographed.)


Barbed Wire Chaplain (Round Trip to Hell): In Memory of Earl Ray Brewster (1904-1979), U.S. Navy

Brewster Collection (courtesy of grandson, Andrew Brewster; further data available at above website)
1. Earl Ray Brewster MIA report 1942 - This was a report made when Chaplain Brewster was presumed to be a POW (this is indicated in paragraph 8).
2. Jack Hawkins' account of Chaplain Brewster - This led to Brewster's Bronze Star. Jack Hawkins was one of the ten soldiers who escaped from the Davao POW camp.
3. USN PR Report 1945 - A post-war article about Chaplain Brewster's experience.
4. Cardboard Notebook - This is a scan of the cover of a journal kept by Chaplain Brewster as a POW. I think this is a good example of the resourcefulness of the POWs while interned.

Joseph H. Sawyer (info courtesy of Joe Chetwynd):

In the town of Marshfield, Mass., on the South Shore, there is a Veteran Memorial Park. At the entry of that park there is a boulder with a bronze plaque on it, to honor Commander Joseph H. Sawyer who was a survivor of the Bataan Death March. He died in Marshfield in 1959; his widow followed him in 1984. They are buried in a family cemetery behind the old family homestead in that town.

He was captured at the Cavite Naval Base, survived the Bataan Death March and was interned at the Bilibid Prison Camp for three years. In his time there, he had to have both his legs amputated, I understand, and the lore is that he, being a doctor, performed the surgery himself. I cannot attest to that, of course, but that is supposedly a true story.

In his near fifteen years following the war, he resided in Marshfield, practiced medicine there and got around in a wheel chair, all the while living on the top of a large hill looking out onto the Atlantic Ocean. As you would guess, he was a much beloved and valued citizen of the town. I am not aware if he had any children, and if so, if any still live in the town. He is not forgotten, at least by his brother veterans in the town, but I wonder how many of her growing and changing population know a scintilla about this hero of WWII. I wonder, too, if anyone has ever heard of the Bataan Death March, for that matter. I shudder to think.

Liberation of Bilibid (courtesy of Tom Farrington):

In searching for information on the liberation of Bilibid prison, I came across your site and the page entitled "The Last Days of Bilibid / Record of Events By Sgt. Ike Thomas / Medical Dept. Bilibid Prison.”

My late father, Maj. Thomas H. Farrington, Jr. (USA Ret.) and his troops (2nd Plt., H Co., 2nd Batt., 148th Inf.Rgt, 37th Div.) were some of the first troops to reach Bilibid Prison. Advancing against Japanese opposition down Rizal Ave. towards the Pasig River on Feb.3, 1945, they were surprised to themselves adjacent to Bilibid Prison. They broke into the prison towards evening but told the inmates to stay put until the outside area could be secured. My father told me that for a period of time he was the senior US officer on the site. He emplaced his machine guns and other heavy weapons in a defensive perimeter around the prison, until the internees could be evacuated, still under fire, the next day.

He was awarded his first Bronze Star for this action. Attached is an article from his hometown paper, which includes his Bronze Star citation, mentioning Bilibid. I hope that this will add a little bit of additional information to your site.

S/Sgt Harry Harwood, Lincolnshire Regiment, British Army (courtesy of Mel Harwood)

Thank you for your resource in which I finally found where my father, S/Sgt Harry Harwood, Lincolnshire Regiment, British Army, was held prior to his release. He was captured at the capitulation of British forces at Singapore in 1941, being liberated early in 1945. He was originally held at Changi in Singapore, being utilised to build the Burma to Siam Railway, but when that work was finished, he was to be transferred to Japan to be used again as slave labour. I thought you might like to hear his story; sadly he himself died in 1965 age 50, but he told us all - my mother, me and two sisters - what happened.

He was put on a Japanese troopship with many more prisoners. Because he had limited mobility owing to venous leg ulcers, he was placed in the hold with several other similarly affected POWs. When the ship was attacked and holed by American aircraft - they didn't know POWs were on board; the Japanese didn't sign the Geneva Convention and didn't display the Red Cross - knowing the ship was about to go down, he dragged himself into the centre of the hold, beneath the mercifully open hatch, because he knew when the sea came in he could get out. He got out not without problems; first his chin was trapped under a part of the ship, then when he got free he felt a great weight on his legs - it turned out there were another six men holding on to him as they realised what he was doing. But they surfaced and eventually were rescued by Filipino fishermen who took the survivors to the Philippines, where they were again placed in Japanese custody.

The camp he ended up at (I now presume this was Bilibid) had two sections - one for Allied POWs and another for captured Filipino resistance members, who were routinely shot by the Japanese the day after capture. Early in 1945, the Allied prisoners were all moved to the Filipino side of the camp, the POWs surmising that they were to be shot the next day. But dawn came, when prisoners were normally executed, and nothing happened. Then it slowly dawned on them that their Japanese captors had vanished. At about noon they heard voices outside - American ones; they had come to liberate the camp, but when those battle hardened troops saw the state the Allied prisoners were in they cried. Dad and his companions were taken from there to San Francisco to be treated at a military hospital, we believe on Angel Island, from where the British ex-POWs were transported to New York by train and shipped back to England.