Author Rick Peterson
The Road to Bataan
The Bataan Death March
The San Fernando Train Ride
Clark Field Concentration Camp
The Hell Ships
The Nomachi Express
Surrender, Liberation, and Repatriation
University of Minnesota
Alf R. Larson
Recorded Oral History
State of the State Address Tribute
KSTP TV Newscasts
Duluth TV Newscasts
KTIS Radio Interview
Rick P./Paulette K.
Alf's Christian Faith
Alf's Letter to God
Alf R. Larson
Alf R. Larson
Erik Paulsen's Tribute
Alf Larson Day -
City of Crystal
Bataan Death March Route Map
Philippine Department of Tourism
March of Time
("Article of Interest" for 4-6 Grade Basic Skills Reading Test Prep)
What type of work did you do?
My work was different than the rest of the prisoners. The Japanese came through and asked our commander if anyone could run a lathe. There were two of us who knew how to operate one. They took us to a machine shop and we worked on the lathes. That's where I worked the whole time during my captivity in Japan. I was more fortunate than most of the people in camp.
Again, Alf, God was still watching out for you and blessing you even in captivity! Was the machine shop located by the manganese smelting operation?
No. The machine shop was located about one-half mile from the camp. The smelting plant was across the bay and accessible by boat.
What was a typical day like?
We always got up early! I don't know what time we did get up, but our alarm clocks were the military guards. They would come in the barracks early every morning, holler, and stomp their feet. That woke everybody up! We got up and got dressed. Then we would have lugao, that soupy rice. Each morning, after we had eaten breakfast, a civilian guard would escort the two of us to the machine shop. We generally worked ten to twelve hours a day.
You would go out the gate with the guard and walk to the machine shop.
Yes. We would work there until noon. The civilian guard would escort us back to camp for lunch.
What did you have for lunch?
We had a cooked rice ball for lunch. Then we would go back to work. At quitting time, the civilian guard would escort us back to camp. We would eat soupy rice for supper. I would get about a canteen cup of that "goulash."
Was lugao thin like oatmeal or cream of wheat?
It was thinner!
Were all meals consumed in the barracks?
Yes. The food was cooked in the mess hall and we ate in the barracks.
What would you do after supper?
After supper we went to bed.
That was it?
That was it.
Was it quiet in the barracks?
Yes. You could hear a mouse walk in there. Nothing was going on and the bombing hadn't started yet.
This went on seven days a week, week after week, month after month?
Prisoners didn't sit around in the evening talking, reading, playing games or cards, or smoking cigarettes?
After supper no one felt like doing anything. We didn't have anything to talk about or anything to read. We never had any cards to play or any cigarettes to smoke. There were absolutely no facilities there for us, or anything to do!
In the evening, did you stay inside the barracks or could you walk around outside?
After work, we went inside the barracks and ate. After that it was curfew and we couldn't go outside. We did have a problem when we went to bed regardless of what time it was. There were bed lice in the straw mattresses and blankets. You would wake up every morning with bites all over your body.
Couldn't you do anything about them?
No! We had no medication whatsoever! You just got used to it. People find it hard to believe, but you got used to it.
The only infestation was the bed lice?
Yes. I don't recall any mosquitoes or any other kind of bug in Japan. If someone were bad off medically, the medical officer would send him to the Japanese hospital. In the Philippines, one soldier with a bad case of appendicitis was sent to their hospital. Our doctor couldn't go with him. He came back to us in worse shape than when he left. They cut him up so badly that he was physically ruined for the rest of his life. The Japanese didn't use anesthetic when they operated on prisoners. If we had a tooth problem, the medical officer would pull them with a pair of pliers. We didn't have any anesthetic or medical supplies for anything! One P.O.W, not in our camp, had been captured on Wake Island. There, his own corpsman operated on him for appendicitis. For anesthetic, seven marines held him down.
Did the Japanese perform medical experiments on any prisoners at Camp Nomachi?
They didn't do medical experiments on any person from our group. They may have done them on others. They did do medical experiments on captured Chinese soldiers in China.