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

Page 6 of 7

All of the prisoners on the Enoura Maru (about 10,000 tons) were confined to one hold with two levels, forward of amid-ships. The condition was very crowded but not as bad as on the Oryoku Maru. A man could lie down here by doubling up his legs. The food was scarce and there was a little water and soup available once a day. The amounts received were small but were much greater than those received by the prisoners aboard the Brazil Maru. During the period of the trip between San Fernando and Takao, Formosa, there were 16 deaths. These 16 deceased were buried at sea. 236 men were moved from the Brazil Maru to the Enoura Maru in Takao Harbor, on or about 6 January 1945.

During the 7th, 8th and 9th of January the men received one mess kit of rice for each four men, with one-half cup of soup for each four men. On the 8th of January in the afternoon, the Japanese ordered all men in the lower level of the hold to be moved into the forward hold so that sugar could be stored in the lower level. Approximately two-thirds of the men had been moved from the hold when the Japanese guards on the deck indicated that the other one-third would be absorbed into the upper level which created an overcrowded condition more than originally, since it was overcrowded initially.

Men were so hungry that they stole sugar despite the threat by WADA that drastic punishment would be meted out. WADA stated "anyone who stole sugar would be severely punished individually and the balance of the group would be punished collectively for an unspecified period."

On 9 January in mid-morning, during the completion of the morning meal, anti-aircraft fire was heard on the Enoura Maru and all ships in the harbor. Soon the drone of planes was heard and almost simultaneously the whistle of bombs was heard. The Enoura Maru rocked violently from a near miss, causing a flail of bomb fragments and steel fragments from the sides of the ship which killed about 300 outright and injured a considerable number. After the bombing such first aid as could be rendered to men was made available by the Prisoner of War doctors and corpsmen aboard. This aid consisted of collecting dirty towels, undershirts, or anything that could be used for bandages that the other prisoners would contribute. Outside of a few first aid kits which the doctors and corpsmen may have had, there were no medicines made available by the Japanese. In fact, no aid was rendered until 11 January when two Japanese enlisted hospital corpsmen announced they would treat those with minor injuries or wounds only. Treatment consisted of dabbing injuries with mercurochrome. They further stated that they were not interested in treating the more seriously injured.

The dead bodies in the holds were stacked in the center of the hatch area like stacks of cord wood. They remained there until the 12th of January. During this time, a majority of the men who were wounded and who soon thereafter died from those wounds could have been saved with proper medical attention, but with lack of bandages and medicines it was impossible for the doctors to do much for them.

Finally in mid-morning of 12 January, permission was granted to remove the dead bodies from the ship. The bodies were removed by placing them into cargo slings and lowering over the side of the ship into barges. Some of the dead were removed individually by tying ropes around the legs or arms and hauling them up onto the deck, then lowering them into the barges. The scene in the holds was like a page from Dante's Inferno-dark, but one could see the wraithlike figures wandering dazedly through a maze of stacked corpses. It was not uncommon prior to the removal of the dead, to sit on the dead and eat meals due to the overcrowded conditions. Items of salvageable clothing that could be removed from the dead were removed. Many of the bodies were in various stages of decomposition when they were finally removed.

On 13 January, during the afternoon, orders came through from WADA that all the prisoners aboard the Enoura Maru would be transferred to the Brazil Maru. Reasons for this change were that the Enoura Maru had been badly damaged during the bombing. Transfer to the Brazil Maru was affected by landing barges. The move was completed in late afternoon. The wounded men, fracture cases, etc., suffered great pain in transfer as in some cases they were lowered into boats by ropes and hoisted aboard ship in the same manner. At this time, there were approximately 900 men remaining alive out of the original group of 1619. The ship sailed from Takao on the 13th of January for Japan.

The trip from Takao to Moji, Japan lasted from 13 January until 29 January. During the trip there were two issues of cooked rice a day. There were two or three men to a lightly packed canteen cup of rice. No soup was issued at all. This diet was augmented by whatever sugar the men could steal. Numerous protests to the prisoner commanders brought no results. A diagnosis for the cause of the high death rate aboard the Brazil Maru was due to a combination of malnutrition, dehydration and exposure.

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