65 years ago today: Dec 14th 1944; The Puerto Princesa Atrocities

Discussion in 'WW2 General' started by syscom3, Dec 14, 2009.

  1. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    :salute:

    PHILIPPINE ISLANDS: On Palawan Island, 150 American POWs are incarcerated in a POW enclosure situated on top of the cliffs overlooking the Bay of Puerto Princesa. While working on the construction of an airfield they are made to dig three trenches 150-feet long and 4.5-feet deep within the camp. They are told that the trenches are air-raid shelters and practice drills are carried out. The shelters are small and cramped, the prisoners sitting bunched up with their knees under their chins.
    When a USN convoy is sighted heading for Mindoro Island, an air-raid alarm is sounded. The Japanese guards, thinking the island is about to be invaded, herd the prisoners into the covered trenches and then proceed to pour buckets of gasoline into the entrances followed by a match to ignite the fuel. As the prisoners storm the exits, their clothes on fire, they are mowed down by light machine-gun fire or bayoneted, shot or clubbed. Dozens manage to get through the barbed wire and tumble down the 50-foot high cliff to the waters edge only to be shot at by a Japanese manned landing barge which is patrolling the shore.
    Only five survive by swimming across the bay and reaching the safety of a Filipino guerrilla camp. One prisoner, who tries to swim the bay, is recaptured and brought back to the beach. There, he suffers the agony of having gasoline poured on his foot and set alight. His screams delight the guards who then deliberately set fire to his other foot while at the same time prodding and stabbing his body with bayonets until he collapses. His body is then doused with gasoline and cremated. His remains, and the bodies of the other dead on the beach, are then buried in the sand. U.S. Forces capture Puerto Princesa on 28 February 1945, and weeks later discover 79 skeletons within the enclosure and they are given a proper burial. In all, 145 Americans are killed.
     
  2. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

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    Holy fricken gees, never heard of it.
     
  3. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    The intel gathered by the US Army after debriefing of the surviving POW's, set the stage for the famous "Raid at Cabanatuan" one month later.
     
  4. Wildcat

    Wildcat Well-Known Member

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    Barbaric....
     
  5. RabidAlien

    RabidAlien Active Member

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    I've read about this (its the opening for "Ghost Soldiers"; along with several other reports of atrocities to POWs, it emphasizes the immediate need to free the POWs before advancing further...its also the opening scene for "The Greatest Raid", movie based on the book "Ghost Soldiers")...that ANY nation can have so little regard for human life just boggles the mind.
     
  6. Ferdinand Foch

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    Yeah RA, I remember both the book and the movie. I know that the movie didn't fare so well with the critics, but apart from the few misconceptions, I thought that the movie was pretty accurate (apart from the typical Hollywood war romance). Of course, there is a big difference by imagining the scene from a book, and watching it on tv. It still sickens me to no end.
     
  7. RabidAlien

    RabidAlien Active Member

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    Amen to all that. I was really looking forward to seeing a P-61 flying around distracting the guards...you would think they could've at least put a CGI one in, instead of a whatever it was they had flying...
     
  8. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    Read the book. The romance part was partly based on fact.
     
  9. Ferdinand Foch

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    Really, huh? Dang, I must've missed that part in the book.

    RA, I thought that was a P-61 they used in the movie? Or did I see a P-38. Dang it, I hate having a crappy memory. :rolleyes:
     
  10. RabidAlien

    RabidAlien Active Member

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    #10 RabidAlien, Dec 15, 2009
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2009
    Nope, it was a single-tail jobber....A20 or B26, I believe. No twin-booms, unfortunately. Stupid Hollywood.

    And yep, the romance was there...the woman kept sneaking extra food and medicine into the camp at very great personal risk to herself. Kept some of the men alive.

    I know that, from the book, one rescuer was killed during the attack, grenade or rpg round near the gate, if I recall correctly, and one prisoner died of malaria on the way out. Not sure if it was the commander or not, though. I also recall there was an older British POW who was nearly deaf, and had gone to the can during the night and fallen asleep. When the IJA came stumbling back into the camp the next day, he was the only POW they found. Not sure what happened to him, but I can't imagine they were too gentle considering his age/condition. (course, I could be remembering a different rescue/escape)

    (ETA screenshots from movie...same plane that does the distracting does flyover at end)
     

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  11. RabidAlien

    RabidAlien Active Member

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    #11 RabidAlien, Dec 15, 2009
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2009
    ...dunno why the double-post. I don't like this latest version of Firefox. Too many issues.
     
  12. Wildcat

    Wildcat Well-Known Member

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    The movie was filmed in Australia, therefore the worlds sole airworthy Hudson was used in place of a P-61, seeing as none are currently airworthy.
     
  13. Ferdinand Foch

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    I think in Ghost Soldiers, it said that the old British POW was found by Captain Joson's men in the morning, and survived the assault. I know that the ranger doctor that got hit died a week or so later. And I think one of the rangers was killed by friendly fire.
     
  14. RabidAlien

    RabidAlien Active Member

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    Okay, now I'm gonna have to read that book again.
     
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