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A POSTAL HISTORY
OF THE PRISONERS OF WAR AND
CIVILIAN INTERNEES IN EAST ASIA
DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR


VOLUME 5

THE PHILIPPINES AND TAIWAN 1942-1945

NO UNCLE SAM

By David Tett

Volume 5 Winner of

Gold Medal

at Chicagopex 2010


Published December 2009
Published in December 2009, Volume 5 continues the series covering the postal history of the POWs and civilian internees in East Asia.

The Philippines and Taiwan are the subject of this volume. Published in 2009, Volume 5, subtitled “No Uncle Sam”, covers the story of the mails to and from Americans servicemen captured in the Philippines and British and Australian servicemen and senior officers of many nationalities transported to Taiwan. As with other centres where POWs were taken prisoner, many of the POWs captured in the Philippines were transferred overseas and the book documents these transfers. Many examples of mail are shown with various censors and directional markings to and from the camps. Corrections to the camp numbers in the Philippines is documented, correcting erroneous information contained in the National Archives and repeated elsewhere, although not all numbered camps are fully identified.

It also covers the postal history of the more than 4,000 civilians held in the Philippines. Mostly American they also included over 1,000 British and many other nationalities. Uniquely, philatelic activity continued in the civilian camps in the Philippines and a chapter is devoted to this subject. There is also a chapter on the postal history of the Guerrillas in the Philippines.

In Taiwan the principal camps were in Kinkaseki, Taichu, Heito, Shirakawa, Taihoku and Karenko and mail to and from these camps is described and illustrated.

The full story of the infamous Boys Town bogus card is included in the chapter on Taiwan explaining how it came to be issued without any intention of misleading future generations of Postal Historians.

The hardback book, published by BFA Publishing, contains more than 400 illustrations, mostly in colour, on 391 pages.

 

  Reviews

It seems certain that the six volumes (for it is best to have the complete set) will remain the definitive work on POW and internee correspondence for years to come (David Hubbard writing in Forces Postal History Journal No 284 Summer 2010)

Tett brings us his masterful research with voluminous illustrations, for the first and only time, between the covers of this one book. (Douglas Lehmann -Philippine Philatelic Journal Third Quarter 2010)

David Tett has produced a remarkable volume describing, analysing and illustrating the postal history associated with this tragic chapter in American history. I heartily recommend No Uncle Sam to all postal historians who appreciate thorough research into a difficult subject presented in a beautifully prepared volume (Richard Helbock in La Posta Vol 41 No 2 Summer 2010.)

This is an amazing work, combining as it does a huge amount of philatelic material and a very readable text. It would have been easy for a work of this nature to grow into the dullest of tomes; instead the author has provided us with the human side of postal history (American Philatelist, April 2010)

Foreword by Edgar D Whitcomb, Governor of Indiana 1969-1973
I and other aircrew members were hurrying along the sidewalk on the way to early morning breakfast on December 8, 1941, when someone announced that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor. The news was greeted with skepticism. Why would they bomb Pearl Harbor and ignore Clark Field in the Philippines with its mighty fleet of 35 B-17 Flying Fortress bombers?

In the breakfast hall, we learned that Lt Col Eugene Eubank, commander of 19th Bombardment Group, had flown to Manila, 56 miles to the south, to confer with General MacArthur.

Later, at 10:30am, Lt Col Eubank called a meeting of aircrew members on the street in front of the headquarters building at Clark Field. There he gave the shocking news that General MacArthur had given orders for a reconnaissance mission to Formosa instead of a bombing mission as everyone had expected. A couple of hours later, 54 high flying, twin-engine bombers came out the north to lay a pattern of bombs across Clark Field. The bombardment raid was followed by a strafing attack as 34 Zero fighters decimated the field and left it untenable as a base of military operations.

A plan had long been in place by the US Army Plans Commission in case the Japanese should invade the Philippine Islands. It was entitled War Plan Orange-3 (WPO-3) and it provided that if the American and Filipino forces were unable to stop the invaders, they should withdraw to the peninsula of Bataan and defend Corregidor and Manila Bay until reinforcements arrived from the US.

Detractors of WPO-3 came with impeccable credentials. Just four years earlier, General Stanley D Embrick, Chief of the War Plans Commission of the US Army, believed that in case of an invasion by the Japanese, the US should withdraw to its natural strategic peacetime frontier in the Pacific, to the line of Alaska, Oahu and Panama. He knew the territory well. As a colonel on the General Staff after the First World War, he had opposed the 1924 version of WPO-3. Later, as Commander of the garrison on Corregidor, he had written a critique labeling WPO-3, “…an act of madness.” In addition, Gen. Leonard Wood, a former   Chief of Staff of the US Army and later Governor General of the Philippines, had predicted that war with Japan would require “… the abandonment of American posts, American soldiers, an American fleet and American civilians in the Far East.”


All of these things had happened with lightning speed just four months after the Japanese invaded the Philippine Islands. All of the American posts in the Philippine Islands had been abandoned except the tiny island of Corregidor. The naval stations at Cavite and Subic Bay, Ft. McKinley, Clark Field, Nielson Field, and Nichols Field were all in the hands of the Japanese. The US military had completely ignored the admonitions of Generals Embrick and Wood.

With the overwhelming success of the Japanese forces in the first two weeks of war, General MacArthur declared Manila an open city and American, British and Dutch citizens were herded into an internment camp at Santo Tomas University. He then invoked War Plan Orange-3 resulting in thousands upon thousands of American and Filipino forces flooding onto the peninsula of Bataan to defend Corregidor and Manila Bay while waiting for reinforcements from America.

The battle raged on. Days went into weeks and weeks into months as the defenders suffered more and more battle casualties, malnutrition, malaria fever and a variety of tropical diseases. Word that reinforcements were on the way became an empty dream with each day like the one before until April 8, 1942, when it became apparent that the lines were not holding. Fragments of military units crowded the roadway near Cabcaben Field, moving away from the field of battle. Then the weary soldiers knew the end was near.

April 9, 1942, saw the surrender of an estimated 75,000 American and Filipino soldiers and the beginning of the most inhuman ordeal in the annals of military history, the Bataan Death March. After that, the prisoners were moved to various camps in the Philippines, Formosa, Japan and Manchuria to suffer another three and one half years under the brutal Japanese. Only a month later, the island of Corregidor was surrendered to the Japanese forces. The men and women of Corregidor then joined their comrades in arms from Bataan in various prison and internment camps.

The history of World War II has been well told since the war by a multitude of first-hand accounts by former war prisoners and civilian internees. An integral part of that history – the history of the postal communications – never before told, is now superbly provided on the following pages by David Tett.

 

In the foreword to Volume 1, Martin Bell, a prominent broadcaster and war correspondent, described that volume. “It is the stuff of history and provides a priceless and universal appendix to so many singular stories”. Volume 5 continues that tradition. Packed with illustrations of letters and cards, often with their messages shown, this books provides a blend of the postal history – the regulations, procedures, routes and censorship of the mails – interwoven with the personal accounts and histories of the prisoners.

Nothing is omitted; even the propaganda stamps of the guerrillas and the philatelic endeavours of the internees are covered – and throughout, the background history of the prisoners, their lives, the conditions, camps and movements are described. Nobody reading this book will finish it without an appreciation of what these men and women went through in the service of their nation.

Edgar D Whitcomb
Governor of Indiana
1969-1973

July 2009

Author’s note

I knew Governor Whitcomb’s story and felt he could provide the words from personal experience for the foreword to this book. A brief overview of his extraordinary, heroic experiences provide a glimpse of the character of this man. He was taken prisoner on Corregidor but escaped at night by swimming eight hours through shark-infested waters. He was recaptured, interrogated and beaten with an iron pipe in Fort Santiago Prison in Manila. He convinced the Japanese he was a civilian and was later transferred to Santo Tomas civilian internment camp in Manila before being transferred again, this time to Chapei civilian internment camp in Shanghai, China. In 1943, under the assumed name of Robert Johnson, he was repatriated to the USA in the second American prisoner exchange. In 1945 he was again assigned to the Philippines to fly combat missions against the Japanese until the war ended. His autobiography, Escape From Corregidor, details his wartime experiences.

Contents
Dedication v
Foreword vii
Acknowledgements ix
Notes xi
Introduction xiv
Chapters
1 Prelude to Captivity 1
2 Mail from the Prisoners of War in the Philippines 23
3 Mail to the Prisoners of War in the Philippines 71
4 Mail from the Civilian Internees in the Philippines 109
5 Mail to the Civilian Internees in the Philippines 135
6 Mail from the Prisoners of War in Taiwan 161
7 Mail to the Prisoners of War in Taiwan 199
8 Philately in the Internment Camps 225
9 Guerillas in the Philippines 233
10 The Story of Oscar Brown 245
11 The Story of Elmer Thomas 271
12 Japanese Marks and Censors' Seals used in the Philippines & Taiwan 293
13 Some Went Home 309
14 Update to Volumes 1, 2 ,3 and 4 339
Appendices
1 The US Armed Forces in the Philippines 347
2 Cards Sent by POWs in the Philippines 349
3 Cards, Covers and Letters addressed to POWs in the Philippines 354
4 Cards, Covers and Letters Sent by Civilian Internees in the Philippines 360
5 Cards, Covers and Letters Addressed to Civilian Internees inthe Philippines 363
6 Cards and Covers Sent by Prisoners in Taiwan 367
7 Cards, Covers and Letters Addressed to Prisoners in Taiwan 372
Bibliography 377
Index 387

 


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