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Pronounced "Oh-ree-OH-koo Muh-ROO" The Oryoku Maru Story
(Taken from the Legal Proceedings)

Page 4 of 7

On the nights of the 14th and 15th the ship was bombed. The Japanese beached it making minor repairs, and discharged all Japanese passengers, moving back to Subic Bay. The prisoners were still aboard. It was felt that the Japanese knew that the ship would be bombed again and for that reason they took the Japanese passengers off and left the prisoners on.

The morning of the 15th when the ship was anchored in Subic Bay about 300 yards offshore from Olongapo Naval Reservation, about 0830 hours WADA came around and told the men that the prisoners would be evacuated from the ship shortly; that they would not be able to take their shoes or any other gear as they would have to swim. He said that the Japanese were instructed to "shoot to kill" so they, the prisoners, had better be very careful. Several of the guards fired into the holds prior to evacuation. About 0930 hours the order for the evacuation came through. Prior to this order there had been an air raid in which a direct hit on the aft hold had been made, and about 100 men were killed. There were no life preservers or lifeboats in evidence. Men were forced over the side of the ship with no regard given as to whether or not they could swim. While the men were leaving the ship six U.S. planes dived on the ship but just prior to the bomb release point the lead plane zoomed up and wagged its wings in recognition. No bombs were released. During the swim for shore some of the men got aboard the debris from the ship and attempted to float ashore. In one case a raft with five men on it headed for shore, was fired upon by a machine gun set up on shore. Two of the men on the raft leaped off into the water, the remaining three were killed.

During the disorder of the evacuation some of the half-starved men attempted to salvage whatever food and medical supplies available on the ship. While going in the compartments in search of food they observed American cigarettes and candy usually in Red Cross parcels.

The food and medical supplies the men managed to salvage were confiscated by the Japanese. During this salvage operation some Japanese came upon the prisoners in the compartments and began firing on them. Lt. TOSHINO came upon Lt. William H. Brewster in one of the compartments and shot him, killing him instantly.

Once on shore the prisoners were assembled in the area adjacent to a tennis court. During the period of assembling, the men were permitted to fill their canteens at a water tap outside the tennis court, but to do this they had to stand in line four to six hours. Fifty percent of the prisoners received their first water since the night of the 13th, the rest didn't get any because the Japanese, as a result of the confusion, chased them back into their assembly area. About 30 minutes later WADA came around and had the prisoners marched to the tennis court so that a count of men could be made against the rosters. Placing such a large group of men in the area of a tennis court was almost impossible. The court was surrounded by a chicken wire fence. A small area had been set aside for the sick and wounded. There was not enough space for a person to stretch out and lie down. Rosters were called off several times. All personnel were told to give any information available to them on persons not present so as to be able to determine how many men were dead or missing and how many present.

In the gathering at the tennis court it was learned that the conditions in the aft hold had been worse than the conditions in the forward hold. Many of the deaths in this hold were caused by suffocation. At roll call there were less than 1300 prisoners still alive out of the 1619 that had left Manila. At 1430 hours American planes came back and bombed the Oryoku Maru, all the prisoners by this time having been evacuated. No food was issued on the 15th or the 16th, and the water situation was still very bad. On the evening of the 17th, one sack of uncooked rice was issued for 130 men. This amounted to about two tablespoons full for each man. The same amount of rice was issued on the 18th and 19th. On the 20th the ration increased to four tablespoons full, all of this was eaten raw, although facilities for cooking were stored close by and within sight.

While the prisoners were kept at the tennis court, there was no provision made for protection against the sun. On the third day the men were allowed to leave the court and go into the shade for a few hours. Most of the men had on only a pair of shorts, some, more fortunate, had shirts and some trousers; there were no shoes or hats. At night it was very cold and since there were no blankets the prisoners were forced to lie on the hard concrete and suffer from the cold. While waiting at the tennis court, six or seven men died from wounds and exhaustion and were buried nearby.

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