From the book "Bataan Diary"
Page 6 of 12
We bantered back and forth. He had fought in the Chinese campaign, and when I asked him which
of the national troops he had encountered were the best and most resourceful, he unhesitatingly
said "the Chinese." He stated that the Japanese chased the Chinese for long distances. They had
no equipment or vehicles but depended on capturing their guns and ammunition, and whatever else
they needed, from the Japanese. He said they never fought a pitched battle all the time he was
in China. They constantly struck at the Japanese from every quarter, and disappeared. Whenever
the Chinese were captured, they were impossible to hold. The standard Japanese POW holding area
was a large hole in the ground covered with wire and with machine guns frequently fired in two
directions. "Even then they got away!" he said.
Of course, Bushido, the Samurai code, decried surrender and he said that the forty-six
Japanese prisoners I had in my care at #l Hospital, even though captured unconscious,
should have committed hari-kiri when they became able to do so. They could never go home.
No family could stand the disgrace. Now, forty years later, I doubt if these rigid standards
persist in Japan.
Sasaki himself was said to be a fierce and uncompromising soldier. All of his vehicles were
armed with machine guns and his soldiers sped along the coast road ready to shoot anyone he
encountered. It is reported that when he first came to Bataan, he had a motorcycle upon which
he tore up the rutted road to Abucay or Balanga, even to San Fernando. Some lady there gave
him gonorrhea. Also, the few times he went there, he was shot at from the woods on each side
of the road, he said. He was never hit, however, but he detested Filipinos. When I came to
the detail, I had to induce him to give up the cycle, except when he was well. Each time he
used it, the gonorrhea became acute again, further souring his attitude toward Filipinos in
One day toward the end of the salvage period in Bataan, the water supply at the camp was
put out of business by Filipinos who deliberately smashed our water pump. The original
supply for Hospital #1, consisted of a pump and reservoir up on a hill behind the hospital
compound. The system was connected to a gasoline generator that also sup plied the lights.
It was easy for the jungle men to sneak up and sabotage the pump and go undetected, and it
was not the first time.
Reprisal was swift and terrible, but was planned as an afternoon off work, a picnic in
the woods on a sunny Friday. The Lieutenant was like a kid going to a party, and this
festive feeling was shared by his troops, as well as the four Yanks who went along. A
skeleton crew was left at camp with the Americans. The trucks, with machine guns mounted
on the cabs, were loaded with his men, all armed with rifles and some with swords that
dangled awkwardly, and they sped off after loading beer and food for the occasion.
Those who participated were under some coercion, even the Americans. This was a military
exercise and if invited, it was wise to accept, and to adopt the festive attitudes set by
Sasaki for the event.
Down the road they went with an occasional burst of machine gun fire to clear the guns.
Most of the inhabitants of Bataan had been driven out or up into the mountains, and there
were few who had returned. The nearest town with enough inhabitants was probably Balanga.
If they had known his trucks were coming, they would have hidden, but he came with much
speed into the town, where the trucks were stopped. Sasakišs armed soldiers grabbed the
first ten men they encountered, though one escaped. The victims had no idea of what was
happening, or why. They were loaded into a truck and the party drove off into the woods
west of town. The accounts by the four Americans forced to participate were related to
us that evening on returning to camp. They were frightful. All of us had seen men tortured
to death during the capture period by Japanese, but it was punishment for some crime, usually
escaping, and the victim knew the reason and the risk.