About Yvonne Ashton
Reprinted from the Corona California Daily News, May 17, 1945
This pictures Ensign Yvonne T. Ashton H-(W) UNRR at work as dental
hygienist at the U. S. Naval Training and Distribution center in San
Diego. Her husband, Major Paul Ashton, has recently visited here with
his wife, Ensign Ashton, at the home of her parents, Mr. and Mrs. E. L.
Toolen, 1114 Vicentia street.
Major Ashton had been a prisoner for years in a Japanese prison camp
in the Philippines. "I was working in the dental clinic," she said,
"when the phone rang and somebody said 'it's for you, Mrs. Ashton.'
It was my father calling. He said, 'Yvonne, at last we've heard from Paul. He is free.'"
"Everything seemed to be going around in circles. My father was reading
the message from Paul. He wrote: 'Free again. Home for Easter. Working
hard, Love.' Just four sentences on a scrap of brown paper but it meant
the world to me. I could hear my father crying. I was crying too. Who wouldn't cry?"
She had experienced all the agony of the siege of Manila and the march to
Bataan as she knew that her husband, the young Army surgeon, was there. In all
those months the messages were few and far between. Her first inkling that he
was a Jap prisoner came on a card received by Mrs. Ashton early in May, 1943,
a year and a month after the fall of the Philippines.
Then one memorable day, just before Christmas, 1943, three cards came in
the mail. "That was a glorious day. I shall never forget it." On one card
Dr. Ashton wrote: "Best regards to Uncle Sam and Edmund Dantes." "Edmund Dantes"
is the main character in Alexander Dumas" famed volume, "The Count of Monte Cristo."
Dantes languished in prison for 14 years always planning to escape and never giving
up hope. That name served to convey to Mrs. Ashton a picture of her husband's life
in a prison some 4000 miles away.
Ensign Ashton said that her husband, who is six feet one inch tall and who
weighed 235 pounds when Manila was attacked, weighed only 135 pounds when
released, but has regained much.
American humor keeps the fighting men of this nation going under the most
adverse conditions and Major Ashton lost none of that humor. In one letter
he wrote that he was mostly "skin and beard" and in another letter signed
himself merely as "Your Rip Van Winkle."
Major Ashton elected to stay behind at Bataan to care for the dying and wounded
when others moved on to Corregidor for a final last ditch stand. He was supervising
several field hospitals. Ensign Ashton attended the University of California at Los
Angeles and was graduated from the University of California Dental College in 1936.
They were married in San Rafael, Calif., May 22, 1936. She was stationed at Santa
Ana Army Air Base as senior dental hygienist for some time and then was commissioned
as an ensign in the United States Women's Reserve in August, 1944.