J.D. Osborne: Veteran Story

Hoten Prison of War Camp at Mukden, Manchuria, after it was liberated. (National Archives photo)
Hoten Prison of War Camp at Mukden, Manchuria, after it was liberated. (National Archives photo)



At the time of my capture, I was a signalman first class, U.S. Navy, attached to the USS NAPA. I went overseas on January 6, 1941, and returned to the States on September 30, 1945.

We surrendered at Fort Hughes on May 6, 1942. We were sent to Corregidor on May 9, 1942, and on May 24, 1942, we were transferred to Bilibid Prison. We left Bilibid Prison on May 27, 1942, and were sent to Cabanatuan, Camp #3. We left Camp #3 on October 5, 1942 and were on route to Manchuria or Manchukuo until November 11, 1942. We arrived there at Hoten Prison of War Camp at Mukden, Manchuria, where we were kept as prisoners of war until August 17, 1945, when the Russians liberated us. We actually left Mukden on September 6, 1945.

Since we did not stay at any length of time at any camp until Camp#3 Cabanatuan, I did not observe anything outstanding or unusual at Fort Hughes or Corregidor or Bilibid Prison. We received the routine treatment at 92nd Garage on Corregidor, which treatment consisted of a lack of food, water, bedding and shelter.

At Cabanatuan Camp#3, I witnessed the public execution of 4 army men who had been caught after their attempted escape. We had been told not to escape, but everyone who thought [it] possible would try to do it. These four army men were apprehended the day following the escape and tied naked to a post in the sunshine. They were given no food or water and left tied there overnight. The following afternoon, they turned the camp out to watch the public execution. They were shot and then buried. We were housed in barracks of bamboo slats. There was no bedding. Our food consisted only of rice.

On October 5, 1942, we started our ocean trip to Mukden, Manchuria. The ship was overcrowded. Our meals were rice and dried fish, three times a day. There was much dysentery aboard ship. We stood in line to use the toilet facilities aboard the ship.

At Tyuan, Formosa, American submarines sunk two ships of the Japanese, which carried only a few of the prisoners of war. Most of the prisoners were on the ship which I traveled on.

We stayed at Takau (phonetic), Tyuan for a few days until the Americans left the area. We then continued the journey to Manchuria. Upon arriving at Fusan, Korea, we disembarked and were put aboard a train bound for Mukden. Here we were given a working uniform. Until then, we had only rags of our American uniform. I don't know how many men died from Manila to Fusan; approximately 17 or 18 men, I would judge.

When we arrived at Mukden, I was very cold; the temperature was 40 degrees below zero. Most of the deaths that occurred from the first winter were on account of extreme cold so soon after leaving the tropics. Most men suffered from malnutrition. Our ration consisted of maize and a few vegetables, three times a day.

Two sailors and one Marine sergeant escaped. They were gone about 10 days before they were caught and returned to camp and shot. The Marine's name was Chastine, and the sailor was called Freddie Marigold, from Waco, Texas.

After we had been there for some time, conditions were improved much more. The living conditions were better than ever before in the Jap prison camp. I worked at compounds of the Mukden Tool and Die Factory digging fox holes and digging air raid shelters. There were three work camps from out of Mukden. At these camps, treatment was said to be rough.

Sergeant Noda, from Berkeley, California, was the number 1 interpreter in our prison camp. He was cruel, overbearing and mean. He had been educated in Berkeley, but in 1939 or 1938, Noda went back to his homeland. He was sent from Japan to Manchuria to study economic conditions there. Noda caused many men to be beaten and roughly treated. We were run on a black mark system. If we failed to bow properly, or caught stealing food, or found smoking more than 6 feet from an ashean, we received a black mark. At the end of the week, the men with the most black marks were sent to the work camps, in addition to the beatings they received for these infractions.

The Chinese helped us with food. Sometimes they would bring us boiled eggs or, occasionally , a potato. It was through the Chinese who worked in the camp that I learned Chinese and so became the Chinese interpreter for a time.

While at this camp, I remember, on one occasion, some men escaped. While the Japs were looking for them, everyone in the barracks had to sit at attention on their bunks, hands on knees, We were allowed to go to the head one at a time during this punishment, which lasted between 10 and 15 days. Our food ration was cut by one third. At the end of the ordeal, we were lectured and restored our rations.

Jones, a machinist's mate, U.S. Navy, stole Japanese sneakers. He was thrown into the guard house. When he was released, he had almost frozen to death. His rations were not cut, although the men in his barracks had cut rations during the time he was confined. Since it was very cold at this time and there was practically no heat in the brig, Jones contracted pneumonia. Jones died of pneumonia as a result of the punishment

There were men at this camp, whom I do not know, who suffered intensely from beatings and other punishments. These men eventually became unbalanced and were shipped to Japan. The Japs said that these men suffered with malaria of the brain. One of these men was a soldier named Red Wells, private first class, from the 59th coast artillery.

After being liberated by the Russians, we stayed in camp until paratroopers from China came. Americans then started dropping food to the prison camp from their planes and also clothing.


J D Osborne

State of California

County of San Diego

I, J D Osborne, of lawful age, being duly sworn on oath, state that I have read the foregoing statement consisting of two pages, and that it is true to the best of my knowledge and belief.


J D Osborne.

Subscribed and sworn before me at San Diego, California, U.S.A., this 10th day of August 1946.


James E. Goodhue,

Lieutenant Junior Grade,

U. S. Naval Reserve,

By Authority of an Act of Congress approved

April 9, 1945.

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