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Bataan Rescue | Article

Prisoner Interviews

 A daring commando raid on a Japanese prisoner of war camp at Cabu.

On 30 January, 121 picked fighters of the 6th Ranger Battalion and 286 Filipino guerrillas penetrate into the Nueva Ecija hills, about 25 miles behind Japanese lines east of Tarlac. Five hundred and eleven prisoners awaited rescue, including 486 Americans, 23 British, three Netherlanders, and one Norwegian.

One of the rescued Americans, Major Emil P. Reed, Medical Corps, 26th Cavalry, recounts events at the prison camp prior to the raid:

Major Reed: It was my somewhat doubtful pleasure to be the commanding officer of the prison camp at Cabanatuan, Prison Camp #1, from October of 1944 until January the 8th of 1945. At noon on January of this year -- January the 7th -- I was called over to the Japanese commandant with my two adjutants. It had been obvious to us that there was something astir. There were trunks packed and much excitement on the Japanese side -- area.

We went over and met with the Japanese commandant at promptly noon. He very formally got up, informed us through an interpreter that at noon today, January the 7th, we ceased to be prisoners of war anymore, and are now free Americans, free to go and come as we please, at our own risk. He did tell us, though, if we would stay in the barbed-wire area where we had been living we would not be molested by the Japanese.

Announcer: Sergeant Samuel Goldy, Signal Corps:

Sergeant Goldy: Rangers come in that night and it was about as happy a sight I'd ever seen in my life. For three years we didn't have -- we couldn't do anything without someone telling us what to do and now at last we can do what we want when we want to.

I'll be sure glad to get back to the United States where I'll be a free American again, and get myself a milkshake.

Announcer: The Japanese guards, surprised under cover of darkness, were all killed and the rescue party immediately started a forced march back to the American lines, beating off several Jap attacks. The Rangers who made the raid were from a battalion commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Henry A. Mucci. Major Robert Lapham commanded the Filipino guerrillas.

The rescued prisoners are temporarily stationed at the 92nd Evacuation Hospital at Gimba, Luzon, where they receive medical care, good food and new clothing. Many of these prisoners are survivors of the long march from Bataan to Camp O'Donnell, having been transferred to Cabanatuan for medical treatment. Also in the camp were war prisoners from Corregidor and Mindanao, a large number of civilians from Santo Tomas prison in Manila, and British and Australian troops, who'd been picked up by the Japanese after swimming ashore from a prisoners' ship sunk off Luzon in September by Admiral William F. Halsey's Third Fleet.

One of the surviving British prisoners is Sergeant Robert Bell, Manchester Regiment, British Army, Burnley, Lancaster, England:

Sergeant Bell: I'm a Britisher that was liberated from that prison camp. I was taken prisoner in Singapore, from where I was sent to Thailand, and compelled to help build a railway, during which time at least fifty percent of the people that were sent there died of cholera, dysentery, diphtheria, and malnutrition.

From Thailand I returned to Singapore and was embarked on board a Japanese ship which was to take us to Japan. Off the coast of Luzon, this ship was sunk by American dive bombers. Of the 1300 aboard, to my knowledge, only 70 of us survived. From there, after swimming ashore, I was taken to this Prison Camp #1, and I was liberated by the Yanks when they came in.

I'm glad to be back in civilization again.

Announcer: Sergeant Walter Ring of San Roc, Luzon, formerly of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania:

Sergeant Ring: How do you do, folks. After being rescued from the concentration camp by guerrillas and American troops, made me very happy to meet my son Louis at the gate, at the hospital, to meet me. And to make me much happier, I met my son Sam just a few moments later, which was a guerrilla in the mountains, just came over here by surprise.

I have been in the Philippines for over 20 years. Married over here, fought on Bataan, the plains of Pampanga, have been captured on Bataan, April the 9th, 1942, and been in a concentration camp til January the 30th, 1945. It's been a long time since I have seen my family, I am very happy to be back with them again.

Announcer: After a period of rest and rehabilitation, the rescued men are returned to rear echelons before their transfer back to the States. After the successful completion of the rescue, General MacArthur stated, "No incident of the Philippine campaign has given me greater satisfaction."

Decorations were awarded to all members of the commando party.

The End. No. 43. Secret.

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