Back to Bataan - A Survivor's Story
Written by Rick Peterson
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Website Dedication
Author Rick Peterson



The Road to Bataan

The Bataan Death March

The San Fernando Train Ride

Camp O'Donnell

Clark Field Concentration Camp

Bilibid Prison

The Hell Ships


The Nomachi Express

Camp Nomachi

Surrender, Liberation, and Repatriation


University of Minnesota
Alf R. Larson
Recorded Oral History

Governor Pawlenty
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

In Memory:
Alf R. Larson
Star Tribune

US Representative
Erik Paulsen's Tribute

Alf Larson Day -
City of Crystal

Bataan Death March Route Map

Philippine Department of Tourism

Star Tribune:
March of Time
("Article of Interest" for 4-6 Grade Basic Skills Reading Test Prep)

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The Hell Ships

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When you arrived, did you realize you were in Formosa?
No. After the war, I found out we had been in Takao, Formosa. I also discovered there were several tankers and ships in our sailing group for a total of ten to fifteen ships. The first day we were there, the Japanese ran us up on deck in small groups.

How did you get up on deck?
We climbed up a wooden ladder. When we got on deck, they sprayed us down with ice-cold salt water from pressure hoses. After about ten minutes, they ran us down into the hold. We never left that hole again until we reached Japan.

You didn't get some fresh air and have time to look around a bit?
No. You ran up, they put the hose on you, and back down you went!

Was it far from the deck into the hold?
Flight of B-17 Bombers -- Photo Courtesy of the 457 Bomb Group Web Site I would say about fifteen feet. You couldn't begin to reach up and touch the deck from the floor of the hold. The B-17s came on the second day. We couldn't hear them coming and didn't know they were there until bombs started falling.

They probably were doing high-altitude bombing. How long did the bombing raid last?
I guess about forty-five minutes. The bombers didn't hit anything in the harbor. Their aiming was atrocious, thank goodness!

B-17s Unload Their Bombs -- Photo Courtesy of the 457 Bomb Group Web Site They had no idea American prisoners of war were in that ship?
None at all! The Japanese didn't mark their ships with Red Crosses or any markings whatsoever! Besides prisoners, our ship carried Japanese troops, civilians, and who knows what else. We stayed in Takao harbor for two days. We set sail the day after the bombing.

What did you do in that hold during the voyage?
We just sat there in that in that dark, smelly, hot hold.

Would you take turns and try to lie down?
Nobody could lie down. There were some people that were sick. They stayed in the very front of the hold where the "Benjo Bucket" was. We called the latrine the "Benjo Bucket." They could lie down there. The rest of us either stood or squatted and tried to be comfortable.

Couldn't you sit instead of squat? (Jane).
There were eleven hundred and some people in that small hold. There was no room! You would sit there with your knees up to your chin. You were leaning on the other guy's legs behind you.

That had to be very uncomfortable. You couldn't lay or sit down for all that time! You had to squat?
That's right.

Good Lord! (Jane)

Did anyone go insane while you were in there?
No one went insane on our ship. But, there was no perception of time.

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