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Bataan Diary

Somebody Gives A Damn!

Dr. Paul Ashton

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From the book "Bataan Diary"
Page 7 of 12
The Japanese however, had a nasty way of venting their rage on anyone, not even near the scene of the crime, killing and injuring innocent people, who never knew why. Their torture methods seemed to be highly developed and to vary according to the time allotted, as well as to the audience they hoped to impress. Sometimes they undertook the process in a righteous rage; at others, they treated it as a necessary disciplinary routine, even engaging in it as though it were fun and games! The manner in which they go about these acts reveals a certain stereo-typification that comes only with experience and long practice. There are even occasional aficionados who innovate, as by driving wood slivers beneath the nails of a helpless waiting victim, while deriving the utmost in screams out of the one with whom they are engaged.

In the case of those who had been recaptured at Cabanatuan after a period of escape, the victims were used to create fear in prospective escapees, so that they were beaten severely immediately on recapture, but not so badly that they could not walk in full view of their comrades, both their fellow participants, and also as many in the camp as could be attracted by the screams and groans to witness the coming spectacle. They were struck and kicked as they shuffled along in full view of the other prisoners, and this same treatment continued during any hearing they might have had, so that they were half dead by the time the already decided death penalty ruling was made. With this formality over, the sentence might be carried out quickly, except when they felt it necessary to use them to make an example.

Then they were removed to a prominent place in the camp where various tortures were applied in part, according to the imagination of the particular group of guards. This process called for death the third day, so they must be kept alive that long. The wounds to be applied must be painful enough so that they would scream and moan all night for the camp to hear.

The first act was to stake them out on the ground, spread-eagle, so that by kicking them, ribs and jaws were fractured. Blows to the genitals and face brought out the screams and gained the attention of the camp. The arms and legs were fractured, using Judo and other modalities while tying them to the stakes. Later kicks to the already broken ribs and other fractures reinforced the screams and insured night-long moaning.

The next day they were, of course, given no food or water, until later. Staked out in the hot sun meant severe and blistering sunburn after a few hours, and every time a guard went by he kicked them vigorously to produce greater volume in their moans. This day, when they screamed for water in the boiling sun, it was given in large doses, called the "water cure." There were several variations. One being applied by pouring a constant stream of water from five-gallon cans over the mouth and nose in such volume that the victim could not get his breath and would almost drown, until he was exhausted and unable to scream. The other way was to insert a hose or funnel deep into his throat and pour gallons of water into him until he was enormously distended, then jump on his belly with both feet, forcing it out to some extent. By the end of this long day, the victims were more dead than alive, and their moans less audible. Occasionally, one would be dead by the third day. Depending upon how viable the survivors were, this day's kicking or water cures were less vigorous and were limited to trying to force the water out of the rectum.

The torturers preferred to use the big sword on a man well tied in a kneeling position of prayer, which these men were no longer able to assume, so they used them for bayonet practice, ending each miserable existence by disemboweling.

When however, the process was required to be done in two or three hours, as in the present cases at Balanga, an entirely different menu is used. Of course they must all be tied securely to prevent their constant valiant attempts to escape, as they soon realize what is in store for them.

Copyright 1997 Paul Ashton, M.D.
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