Doomsday boat.

Discussion in 'All Things Boats & Boating' started by river runner, Apr 29, 2012.

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  1. SheetWise
    Joined: Jul 2004
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    SheetWise All Beach -- No Water.

    I've given Bataan positive rep for constructively adding to the content in this thread (and to offset).

    What did he write that bothered you?
     
  2. Milehog
    Joined: Aug 2006
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    Milehog Clever Quip

    For what? Speaking truthfully about human nature, cultural differences and behavior?

    I'll take the truth over P C any day.
     
  3. ImaginaryNumber
    Joined: May 2009
    Posts: 435
    Likes: 59, Points: 28, Legacy Rep: 399
    Location: USA

    ImaginaryNumber Imaginary Member

    I agree. Bataan must be colossally greedy to have collected all those rep points. Furthermore, he has insulted other groups as well:

    Native Americans, because "they grew rich and fat...raiding for slaves and loot"

    The religious, "because they did nothing waiting to be saved by Sky Daddy"

    The Japanese, because they have a "Bushido complex"

    And finally the know-it-alls, because they "always had a smart answer"

    Humm..., I wonder if my post qualifies as a "smart answer"? :rolleyes:
     
  4. GTO
    Joined: Jul 2007
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    GTO Senior Member

    It's my opinion that this is equivalent to blaming a **** victim for not fighting enough, so the **** is their fault. People were thrown into a horrific situation for which nothing can prepare someone. Survival was as much a random occurance as anything. At any moment a guard could simply kill someone. To denigrate anyone that died in the apt named "death camps" is simply pathetic - in my opinion. Obviously, others seem to have a different perspective on such situations.
     
  5. BATAAN
    Joined: Apr 2010
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    BATAAN Senior Member

    I guess some people would rather stick with Errol Flynn movies and romantic fantasies of the past wars where we were all heroes and the Japa-Nazis were all evil.
    I'm not sure what part of the truth bothers some people but I'm not making stuff up or disparaging American POWs.
    After all, I spent a lot of my life with one and heard the stuff first hand.
    You don't like the truth, bury your head in a compost pile and your ears won't hear it and your eyes will see nothing but fertilizer.
    Just because they were American, doesn't make them all saints.
    After, scum rises to the top in all human situations, right?
    At F17, an American USN Lieutenant Little was canteen officer.
    He was a petty tyrant who starved soldiers as punishment.
    One of several who died from his attentions was so thin and tall they folded him in half to fit a Japanese coffin.
    My dad hated this Lt. with a passion I cannot express, as he was a loving man but mention Lt. Little and he got murderous and a red rage came up from somewhere inside and his voice shook and he trembled as he spoke of the man.
    After the war Little was court-martialed and went to prison.
    On the other hand, the wife of a Japanese guard somehow found ORANGES in a devastated Japan and smuggled them in for allied prisoners once.
    The protein situation among prisoners got so bad and so many were starving that the guards rounded up 200 stray dogs and drove them into camp.
    By the next day the canines were history and 1500 guys felt a lot better with some meat in their bellies.
    If you don't believe the 'rice trading' stories or American on American predation, check them out here:
    http://mansell.com/pow_resources/camplists/fukuoka/Fuku_17/hewlett_report.html
    http://home.comcast.net/~winjerd/POWCamp1.htm
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fukuoka_17
    http://www.lindavdahl.com/
    http://mansell.com/pow_resources/camplists/fukuoka/Fuku_17/stecklein.htm
    When it comes to the truth of survival, denying reality will make one a dead statistic quickly, and that's what this thread was about I thought.
    I just relate this stuff to show that no matter how bad you think things are, be very glad, because they could be so very much worse.
    That attitude kept my dad cheerful and employed the rest of his life, and seems to do the same for me.
    I took the moniker BATAAN so I won't forget the lessons I learned through him from that intolerable situation he was in so long ago.
     
  6. ImaginaryNumber
    Joined: May 2009
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    ImaginaryNumber Imaginary Member

    For those interested you might read Langdon Gilkey's book Shantung Compound: The Story of Men and Women Under Pressure.

    http://www.amazon.com/Shantung-Compound-Story-Women-Pressure/dp/0060631120

    It is the story of how a group of Western expatriots survived in an internment camp in Japanese-controlled China during WWII. These were not death camps, but life was still difficult. The interesting part of the story is how different groups/genders/occupations reacted differently to their hardships. Men vs women; religious vs secular; who could be trusted in the kitchen, and who not, etc.
     
  7. Boston

    Boston Previous Member

    yah I gave him some for having the guts to tell it like it is and for his courageous father who must have endured pure hell.
     
  8. BATAAN
    Joined: Apr 2010
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    BATAAN Senior Member

    You speak from ignorance.
    Survivors will survive when there is no chance.
    The apathetic die in midst of plenty.
    After the Battle of Bataan and the Death March, most of the Japanese led atrocities were over.
    The random beheadings and bayonettings stopped and the prisoners were put to work.
    Japanese camps were not 'death camps', but POW camps, and the prisoners a source of free labor.
    The high death rate occurred from malnutrition and disease, not a guard simply killing guys for nothing.
    Guards beat people, usually with a heavy club, for breaking tools or causing accidents in the mine, but killing a prisoner would bring retribution on the guard because they were losing money for Mitsui Corporation which ran the coal mining camp for a profit.
    -
    There were professional POW 'leg breakers' who would break your leg for a fee, almost always your rice ration, so you could get out of work for 6 weeks or so.
    This is the truth of the thing, to deny it is to deny reality in favor of fantasy, a too-common modern political and social practice when we just don't care for who and what we humans really are.
    I denigrate no one, simply repeat what my father told me, intending I learn some difficult things he did the HARD way.
    How many real survival lessons have you learned this way?
    I put these experiences out so people can see what survival is, and it's mostly attitude and luck, but attitude helps make luck.
    If you all ignore them, why should I care?
     
  9. CatBuilder

    CatBuilder Previous Member

    Great posts, Bataan. Very interesting first hand account of history. Thank you for passing the story to us.

    The story reaffirms my personal survival strategy. Other people are the problem. I follow a personal survival philosophy for the exact reasons we see in your stories.

    If not for other people (Japanese, etc), these men would have fared much better.
     
  10. portacruise
    Joined: Jun 2009
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    portacruise Senior Member

    Yes, I also agree that self sufficiency is desirable as much as possible, so that I am not a burden on someone else or the resources. There are good people everywhere that are not a problem, some better and more deserving than moi, so I try to help. Even the Japanese which were of as identical a culture and values, were not a monolithic group as far as treatment of prisoners. Some were worse, some not, just as any group. What's interesting is the shift toward self importance and isolation in recent time, though some sacrifice still exists. Maybe its the internet? We have the heroic efforts on that flight during 911, but I wonder if "women and children" first would still be observed in a modern disaster....

    P.
     
  11. Submarine Tom

    Submarine Tom Previous Member

    Porta,

    I'm just dropping in here, haven't read most of the thread.
    An old friend of mine is a cop. I asked him one day if he gets discouraged that there isn't anything he can really do to change peoples behaviour. He said no, that it all comes down to ones morals and their judgement call in the moment. He believes the vast majority to be good people who make good choices most of the time.
    I found that somewhat reasuring.
    Cheers!
     
  12. GTO
    Joined: Jul 2007
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    GTO Senior Member

    Your post above has NO relationship to what I posted. NONE!
    My personal beliefs lead me to respect those that were tortured and killed, while acting on behalf of our country, by an enemy that was well documented to be completely willing to commit any atrocity that could be imagined. I have zero illusions that every man or woman that serves in the Armed forces are "perfect" people. That still does not diminish one bit what they suffered at the hands of the Japanese.

    As far as you implying that religion is an anti-survivor attitude, I suggest you do a little reading up Senator John Mccain's time as a prisoner in Hanoi.

    Anyway, seems I'm in the minority here. So I'll quit feeling that all those Indians that died on the reservations they were forced to live on were people to be pitied. That the millions that suffered in concentration camps, political prisons, or were brutalized and killed by occupying armies, none of that deserves the slightest respect or pity. They were just lame-*** weaklings that should have died, since they weren't "survivors".

    Hmmm - nope, sorry, I can't be that type of person. Some things that happen in life to otherwise decent people just deserve a little respect.
    That's how I feel. Neg rep me all you want. I'll not be changing my mind.
     
  13. Jetboy
    Joined: Feb 2012
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    Jetboy Senior Member


    No I think he speaks exactly the truth. Survival was almost entirely random. From your fathers perspective he probably believes that his cunning and intelligence saved him. Reality is probably the exact opposite. He happened to be small of stature and able to survive on little and survived due to the chance of his genetics. Sure there is some difference in survivors and non-survivors mentality, but when people die of starvation and disease in a prison camp, it's almost purely a result of genetics and chance, not work ethic or intelligence. I'm sure you proud of your heritage. You should be. I think you make the common mistake of attributing effect to a cause that may not be linked.
     
  14. SheetWise
    Joined: Jul 2004
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    SheetWise All Beach -- No Water.

    Certainly a combination of skill and fortune. What I hear from Battaan is that during periods of civil unrest, peoples will to survive will override their spontaneous adherence to social norms. I agree with both of you -- I don't think there is a real disagreement here.

    I have no doubt that any crisis resulting in shortages and demanding sacrifice will bring out the worst and the best in people. In those times, I suspect a well supplied boat would provide some comfort.

    We all do.
     

  15. BATAAN
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    BATAAN Senior Member

    I hold true scorn for those who turned the situation into an opportunity for personal profit over group survival, and they weren't all, but far too many.
    Read the links and see who was who and what actually happened from the voices of those who were there.
    In the last two years at Fukuoka some corrupt American traders got literally fat, as others withered and died.
    They survived just fine, nothing random about it, just exploitation of the weak and business as usual.
    This was viewed with disgust and horror by Aussies and Brits and Dutch alongside.
    In 1944 for a few months Pop worked in an electric shop fixing magneto blasting detonators for the mines with a Dutch engineer at F17 and the guy said how they all thought half the Americans were ******* crazy because such a large number of them wouldn't share, but stole and schemed against each other constantly so much that many died unnecessarily.
    Here's a simplified example of what they were discussing.
    Omuta, Fukuoka 17, winter 1944-45, lots of snow on the ground and cold as hell.
    You only got so much watery, stone-filled rice a day, maybe 1000 calories, that's it, no more and you worked ten hours a day in the coal mine for ten days straight, then got one day off.
    Now "Fred" here, a genial guy from Wisconsin who works in the kitchen, controls the overall total rice ration given by Mitsui Corporation that owns the mine to feed the workers, so many pounds to so many guys every week, which has been carefully calculated by the Corporation (this is mid-20th century Japanese version of Fascism remember so Corporation and Government are wedded) to be just barely enough to keep the workers effective, usually at about 100 to 110 pounds body weight.
    They need coal for the war effort and don't want guys dying because it cuts into the bottom line, so give just enough food to keep the POWs alive at their heavy work level.
    Fred smiles so sweetly and says he knows you're really hungry today and he'll give you one and a half rations, but you don't get one tomorrow.
    Fred gets a half ration as the price of the deal.
    You're hungry, so you do it.
    Fred eats his one and your half rations and does no real work other than deal making.
    Next day, no rice for you so you lose body weight from the extreme labor while Fred gains a bit on his already fat gut.
    So you trade four of your eight remaining cigarettes for someone else's ration that day.
    That guy goes hungry instead but smokes two of the cigarettes and trades two for a half ration from someone else, so he gets much fewer calories but still has to work 10 hours in the mine or shops, and loses body mass as a result.
    He can get half a dried rat leg for a cigarette, but decides to smoke it instead.
    Meanwhile old benevolent Fred, Randian to the core, weighs 300 pounds and owns the camp, with his likewise very well-fed group of fellow morally-challenged companions known in the adjacent allied camps as the "American Mafia".
    "Fred" bribes the guards to get the cigarettes, bits of meat and fish available, tofu, maybe some dog leg for a treat, and sits atop a business pyramid doing this deal with hundreds of guys, who trade the rice ration futures among themselves like currency on a stock market where the inevitable losers die, while others, "survivors", grow fatter and fatter.
    -
    Sounds like today's shining light on the hill economic system dream....
    "If only the big guys were in charge, all our problems would magically go away because they would share with us, wouldn't they?"
    The above examples are current world economics viewed small.
    It's a tiny place and you can't leave (earth).
    The fat greedy guys are in charge.
    The rest are stealing what little is left from each other.
    Now that's a movie that won't sell many tickets.
    The bottom line is, when the sh*t goes down, some people stand up with their brothers and work together and some don't, only working for themselves.
    Pop wasn't a rice trader, but stopped trying to be American and wound up being quite Japanese, just another naked coal miner trying not to get crushed in the dark and being respected and trusted by his Japanese and American mining brothers together down that deep dark hole, and that's what survival was for him.
    He spoke Japanese pretty well, taught me chopsticks alongside the fork, had lots of Nisei friends who we were close to, and taught me never to hate unless someone really really deserves it, which is darn few.
    Rice traders qualify I guess.
    -
    Back to some survival history.
    In 1942 at Cabantuan, the rampant protein-deficiency edema was known to be curable by standing up on your swollen split feet and getting any protein at all, this included slugs, flies and maggots, which the survivors ate, and those who did not, often from disgust or cultural bias, died.
    That's not random, it's willingness.
    Nothing that could be eaten in that particular camp went to waste.
    There was not a fly, ant, salamander or pill bug to be found anywhere as all had been eaten by the thousands of starving men.
    A small rat fed literally 20 men, but some would not eat rat and died.
    That one instance is not random, there are many others.
    Want one? When he weighed 40 kilos he was in the Zero ward, a palm roof over cots on the ground, with all the other 100 guys who were dying that day, and he saw how weak the medics were and how hard it was for them to drag the emaciated bodies to the big hole where they threw them, so he dragged himself there all afternoon until the sun was going down so they wouldn't have to when he died.
    And he looked in that hole and saw the maggots and dogs and said I ain't goin' in there, and he crawled back, and got better.
    -
    http://www.lindavdahl.com/Front Pages/O'Donnell & Cabanatuan.htm
    "Each day an attempt was made to clear each barracks of the dying. They were removed to “zero” ward, laid on the bare floor entirely naked. These patients usually were profoundly emaciated, in fact, little better than skeletons with a feeble spark of life. Heroic corpsmen and doctors did what they could to alleviate the indescribable conditions. They tied grass onto sticks and attempted to cleanse the floors. They used the same method of cleansing the body. Occasionally a big puddle of rainwater would provide enough water to wash the floor. At this time the use of the regular water supply system was strictly forbidden by the Japanese. The few laymen who saw these conditions were utterly horrified. Even the Japanese doctors would not enter these wards and the Japanese staff at Headquarters gave it a wide berth. ".
    -
    It's not ego, it's just not giving up on yourself.
    Here's another quote from the history of Cabanatuan.
    -
    "The camp commandant was Lt. Col. Masao Mori, who operated a bicycle shop in Manila when the war began. He was nicknamed “Blood” and “Bamboo Mori” by the prisoners. Mori, who was in charge of both Camp No.1 and No. 3, chose to live at No. 3 until he moved to No. 1 in September 1942. He and another guard, Kasayama Yoshikichi, who the prisoners called “Slime,” were the terror of the camp. Blood and Slime were punished after the war as war criminals. Blood was hanged and Slime got a life sentence. In late October 1942 Mori was replaced (after Camp No. 3 was closed and all prisoners were transferred to No. 1) by Major Iwanaka. Iwanaka was quite old for a major and paid no attention to the goings-on in the camp. In June 1944 Iwanaka was relieved by Major Takasaki, who ruled the camp with an iron fist.

    First Lieutenant Oiagi was the camp quartermaster. He was tall and had played on the Japanese Davis Cup team in America. Unlike most of the prison guards, Oiagi was relatively fair and pleasant to the POWs. The prisoners had many “affectionate” nicknames for their guards: Big Stoop, Little Speedo, Air Raid, Laughing Boy, Donald Duck, Many Many, Beetle Brain, Fish Eyes, Web Foot, Hammer Head, and Hog Jaw were just a few names known to most prisoners at Cabanatuan. Urban McVey, in Martin’s Brothers From Bataan, said “Two of the main guards were ‘Big Speedo’ and ‘Little Speedo.’ They were called that because if you were too slow in your work they would yell & holler "Speedo". ‘Big Speedo’ did not beat up the prisoners. ‘Little Speedo’ did, and he was much bossier and demanding than ‘Big Speedo.’”

    The American prisoners had been severely warned upon entering any prison camp that an attempt to escape would result in death by firing squad. Despite the warnings, a handful of escape attempts from Cabanatuan occurred in the early days of incarceration. If the escapees were captured they were usually tortured and shot to death while other POWs were forced to look on. To prevent any more escape attempts, the Japanese captors initiated what were called “Shooting Squads” or “Blood Brothers.” Each POW was assigned to a group of ten. If anyone in that group escaped, the other nine would be shot. When it came to the deed, the Japanese often had mixed feelings about whether to actually shoot the helpless hostages or not. Sometimes they did, sometimes they didn’t, but one could never feel any confidence about the matter. In one account the author of As I Remember writes, “You can believe that each man knew where his blood brothers were most of the time and especially at night.” Because of the danger to those in the camp, the American leadership took extra precautions by imposing additional rules to prevent escape attempts and to prevent the perception (which had occurred more often than not) of a POW trying to escape. For instance, the Japanese rule was to stay within ten feet of the fence. The American leaders made it 30. In addition, a walking, unarmed patrol of POWs was formed to watch for anything suspicious. The patrol wore white armbands with MP printed on them.

    During the first eight months of camp in Cabanatuan, deaths totaled approximately 2,400. Some 30 to 50 skeletons, covered by leathery skin, were buried in common graves each day. The Japanese issued documents certifying that each death was caused by malaria, beriberi, pellagra, diphtheria, in fact, anything but the real cause – starvation and malnutrition. Death hit the youngest men the hardest. Of the men who died during July 1942 at Camp No. 1, 85 percent were under 30. Ten percent of the enlisted men died, compared with only 4 percent of the officers. Due to conditions at Cabanatuan, most of the prisoners welcomed the transport to Japan, hoping for better conditions. Little could they imagine what lay ahead."
    -
    All the above is just to try to show that few of us, including me, understand "survival" and often the thoughts on the matter are based on conjecture and not experience.
     
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