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Prisoners of War in the Far East - Ruby G. Bradley
PRISONERS OF WAR IN THE FAR EAST
Ruby G. Bradley, Colonel, U.S. Army Nurse Corps
Colonel Ruby Bradley, reflecting on her experiences as a prisoner of war for 37 months in the Philippines during World War II, wrote the following essay. Bradley was the Army's most highly decorated nurse. As a veteran of World War II and the Korean War, she was the third woman in Army history to be promoted to the rank of Colonel. She earned 34 medals for her service during World War II and the Korean War. Bradley retired from the military in 1963 and passed away at the age of 94 in May 2002. She is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
To be captured by an enemy in time of war could not be considered a mark of distinction by any standard. Nevertheless, during every major conflict in which the United States has been involved a certain percentage of her citizens has been detained--prisoners of war. The percentage is not always the same nor is the status of the individuals. That there are always some prisoners of war is the point. The fact that there were US Army Nurses captured during World War II necessitates a chapter devoted to the subject in any history of the corps--if it is to be a factual account of the corps. Although this event, the capture of the ANC officers, is not one which brings prestige to the corps, the Army, or the nation itself; the fact that these nurses survived and were a credit to their country during and following the episode does reflect credit upon them, their corps and the United States.
The situation in the Philippines on 7 December 1941, the day which will live in history as a day of infamy, was normal for a neophyte nation stepping toward independence. While the plans had been made earlier, in June 1900, a commission of five members was appointed to legislate for the Islands and to prepare for the establishment of civil government. Civil government was established in 1901 and continued by commission until 1907 when the first assembly was inaugurated. The rule of the Islands was by appointive commission composed of a majority of Americans and an elective Philippine assembly. By 1913 the rule was by an appointive commission composed of a majority of Filipinos and an elective assembly. In 1934 commonwealth government under Filipino executive was approved.
During these three decades, the Islands prospered. The national language, Tagalog, was established. Agricultural and forest products were the main exports. Metropolitan areas flourished; Manila, the capitol, expanded to both sides of the Pasig River and boasted a four mile frontage on Manila Bay. In addition to the Philippine General Hospital, there were seven other hospitals in the city. Numerous churches, schools, hotels and places of business were housed in modern buildings. There were radio stations and the newspapers were published in both English and Spanish editions. Baguio was established as the summer capitol of the Philippines. Located in Northern Luzon, it thrived in an altitude of 5,000 feet, not unlike Denver. The surrounding area was largely forest land and mining country. Much of the travel through the area was accomplished on logging trails and the communities were logging or mining camps.
Corregidor will always be remembered, not for its size, not for its importance as a commercial center, but for its geographical location at the entrance of Manila Bay and for the strategic importance it held in the drama of World War II, Far Eastern Theater. Although it was a tiny island, only a two-square mile area, the United States had established the military there in 1900. The average width of the island was only one mile and its total length was four miles east to west.
At the outbreak of World War II, there was a total of 66 Army nurses, two civilian nurses (who later were commissioned into the Army Nurse Corps), one dietitian and one physical therapist on the Islands of Luzon and Corregidor. First to be captured, on 28 December 1941, were the two Army nurses (the author and Major Beatrice Chambers) in Baguio (on Luzon) who had originally been assigned to Corregidor and Manila in February of the preceding year. Ten Army nurses, who left Corregidor on 29 April 1942 for the United States, were captured by the Japanese and transferred to Manila on 9 September 1941, following the downing of their plane in Lake Lanao on Mindanao. The 54 ANC's who were on Corregidor at the time of the surrender were transferred to Manila on 2 July 1942. One Army nurse from Baguio was sent to Manila in September 1943, while the other remained at Baguio.
On the morning of 7 December 1941, after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, eighteen Japanese planes, 17 of them in formation, came over Camp John Hay, a small Army post in Northern Luzon. This force dropped 128 bombs, many of which did not explode. Had each one been "live," the results would have been even more disastrous. As it was, this was the beginning of a war that was to result in the capture of many American Nationals, both military and civilian, in addition to people from other countries, all of whom happened to be residing in the Philippines.
A few officers and men hid in the mountains for the duration of the war. They used a road which was practically impassable. It was actually a mountain pass originally used by other invading forces, but it had become little more than a trail. Prior to its employment by these officers and men, the trail was used by the Filipino operators of an American-owned lumbering camp. In one day the two Army nurses from Baguio tramped 30 kilometers through the mountainous terrain to the lumbering camp. Their objective was Manila, however, all main roads to Manila were blocked. Bridges had been destroyed by the departing American forces and Japanese planes patrolled every major access to the city. Obviously, the objective could not be attained. The nurses were captured along with men, women and children from the lumbering camp.
The nurses who were later captured on Corregidor lived in the Melinta Tunnel and were privileged to care for American military patients. After the surrender of the Island, the Japanese moved all personnel from the tunnel to the peacetime hospital and adjacent buildings at Topside. By order of the Japanese, the Army nurses could no longer care for the wounded soldiers. The nurses were told that they would soon be transferred to a well equipped hospital in Manila. The nurses did remain at Topside until transfer to Manila approximately ten days later. Army and Navy doctors and corpsmen attended the patients at the Topside hospital. The Army nurses were denied the opportunity to provide routine care of the patients. Only on rare occasions were they permitted to assist and at those times they were restricted to the operating room. This was very distressing to the nurses as it was one of the first times that the full impact of being under the control of an enemy nation was realized.
After the surrender, the nurses were not able to return to Melinta Tunnel where the Army personnel stayed during the seizure. They later left from Corregidor on the same boat with the sick and wounded as the Japanese ordered. Although the nurses didn't know where the sick and wounded were housed, it was believed that they were sent to Bilibid prison where many internees remained for the duration of the war. Until the internees arrived in Santo Tomas the nurses did not actually know that they would still not be privileged to care for the soldiers and the personnel indigenous to the Philippines and friendly to the United States.
The US military area on Corregidor was divided into three parts referred to as Topside, Middleside and Bottomside. During peacetime, General MacArthur's headquarters was at Topside; Middleside was devoted to hospital area, housing for Filipino scouts and housing for American officer and enlisted personnel. Bottomside encompassed the Port and the Melinta Tunnel primarily.
When the Japanese first dropped bombs on Northern Luzon shortly after Pearl Harbor, the U.S. Headquarters was moved to the Melinta Tunnel. This tunnel had been previously used as a training area and a warehouse. Before it could be occupied however, it had to be thoroughly cleaned and the supplies reorganized to make way for the establishment of General MacArthur's headquarters. Food had been stored there for months in advance so that while US citizens residing on the mainland had heard about "training" missions, to those who were actually on Corregidor and in other parts of the Philippines prior to the bombing by the Japanese, these "training" operations they knew to be something much more. The military population had been increased and the dependents of Army and Navy personnel had been returned to the U.S. mainland in 1940 and 1941. Thus, while it may appear to some that we were totally unprepared for the conflict which was brought upon us on 7 December 1941, we were not, in fact, totally unprepared as this notation concerning the Melinta Tunnel will testify.
On the arrival of the nurses at Santo Tomas, the internees extended a warm welcome and prepared spaces in the already overcrowded buildings. The Japanese, however, had other plans and the nurses were moved to a separate building, which later became the camp hospital. The enforced rest was good for the weary nurses but it was short lived. More people became ill and the Japanese no longer permitted internees to be hospitalized in local hospitals. This had been the procedure originally but it was soon discovered that the internees were taking advantage of their trips to the hospital. As an example, the women who needed to take their children for hospital treatment were frequently found to be taking time to stop at one of the local hair salons to have themselves beautified before they returned to camp. In any care, the Japanese authorities soon eliminated the possibility of this innocent frivolity by discontinuing the use of local hospitals by the internees.
A hospital was established at Santo Tomas in a building that was about a quarter of a mile from the University buildings. The senior Army Nurse was the chief nurse. (Maude Davidson for whom Davidson Hall, a Bachelor Women's Officers Quarters at Brooke Army Medical Center, was named.) These Army nurses, along with the Navy nurses, helped to care for the other sick internees and ran a well organized hospital, the supplies and equipment for which were secured from local agencies and/or appropriated from hospitals which had been abandoned.
In addition to this main hospital, there was also a building for patients with tuberculosis and other communicable diseases. A small children's hospital was also established in the housing area. These were staffed primarily by civilian nurses. The Navy nurses who were already at Santo Tomas worked with the Army nurses until 1943 when an additional internee camp was established at Los Banos. The Navy nurses were then transferred to Los Banos by the Japanese.
Few people realized the dangers involved in administering the activities of an internment camp. Furthermore, it is not always true that the most capable people are chosen to be the leaders of the camp. At Baguio and Manila, not two cultures were present, the East and the West, but many classes from all strata of society were included. The Japanese did not understand the Americans, nor did the Americans understand the Japanese, a situation out of which many differences arose.
If one can visualize a wealthy thriving community like Baguio or a metropolitan city like Manila suddenly reduced to poverty and ruins, then one can better understand that problems arose very quickly. From the first day of internment the primary problem, next to procuring food, was to safeguard the health of all the internees.
At Camp John Hay, the US Army post near Baguio, the first internment camp was established. A group of more than 500 men, women and children was crowded into one building. The group consisted of missionaries, miners and two Army nurses. The missionaries had been evacuated from China the preceding year and had established a language school in the Philippines while awaiting the opportunity to return to China. The miners, some of whom were actually lumbermen, had been living and working near Baguio. The Army nurses were those first captured after their unsuccessful attempt to escape to Manila via the logging trail out of Baguio. For purposes of alliteration mainly, the group was known as "The Missionaries and Miners" and will go down in history as that.
The building which the Japanese selected for the internees was an old barrack building that had not been used by the American Army for several years because it was declared unsafe for occupancy. Designed for 50 men, the building now housed this human conglomerate, making the only walking space a small aisle in the center. Bedding was on the floor and each bed was rolled into a bundle during the day to allow for more space. After a few weeks, because of the obvious need, an additional building was obtained for male internees.
It may be said that camp life was more bearable for the medical personnel than for any other, as these people performed essential services consistent with their previous professional training. The hospital patients consisted of other internees, many of whom were known to the Army nurses prior to the war. The were well educated, highly respected citizens, members of charitable societies and select clubs.
The first project for the weary internees was to clean the building. Water had to be carried for one mile as the water main had been broken during the bombing. Drinking water was boiled as chemicals were not available. Lack of water, outside latrines, lack of screens for doors and windows, crowded buildings and general lassitude of the internees contributed to poor sanitation. For the most part, these people had been accustomed to servants who cleaned their homes and cooked their food. Suddenly, this state no longer existed. The internees were not aware of the dangers inherent in poor sanitation so at the beginning they were not interested in maintaining sanitary conditions. As time went on, however, it became evident to everyone that sanitary measures were necessary for survival. Soap was available from the supply that had been buried by the US Army prior to its departure from the camp--a fact known to only a few of the internees. Supplies were retrieved during wood gathering safaris made by male internees.
Due to poor sanitation, intestinal diseases soon developed. Dysentery became so prevalent among the children, and adults as well, that a small dispensary was set up in the barrack. Bedding was rolled up to make room for the table during the day and a bed was made under the table during the night. Medicine was contributed by the internees from their own supplies and a few drugs were purchased from a drugstore.
Most important was the intensive teaching program in the prevention of disease. Simple sanitary procedures such as washing the hands seemed to have been forgotten. Among the many people were representatives from different professions, business groups, skilled and unskilled labor. Their habits of sanitary practice were as widely different as were their walks of life. Some of the better educated internees had extremely poor health habits. It was even necessary to place at least one individual in each wash room to instruct the internees to wash their hands.
One of the interned American physicians, a well known pathologist (Doctor Frank Haughwout, deceased), gave a series of lectures on the prevention of the dysenteries. The series, entitled "Dysenteries as a Household Problem" was well received by all. In addition to this, inspections were conducted regularly in an effort to maintain sanitary conditions at a reasonable level--to ascertain that soiled clothing was promptly washed and boiled in soap solution, and that eating utensils, consisting of one spoon and one tin pan per internee, were washed and kept covered to prevent contamination by flies. There was also a fly swatting detail which did help in reducing the fly population.
In spite of all the preventive measures, the number of dysentery cases increased to such an extent that a small cottage was obtained to house these patients. This cottage became the camp hospital. There were usually more patients than beds, so the less acutely ill were treated in the barrack, while the acutely ill and contagious cases were treated in the camp hospital. All bed linen and clothing used by patients was boiled and exposed to the sunshine for two hours after the drying period. When soap became practically nonexistent, a soap product was made from lye obtained from wood ashes and then mixed with fats or oils. This was an effective cleaning agent although it was very hard on the hands.
The making of this soap product illustrates the use to which "home town talent" was put. As the soap supply decreased, the chemists and those who had chemistry in their backgrounds joined forces to make the soap substitute from the materials available. Since coconuts were reasonably plentiful, they constituted the source of oil. Further, these men produced iron capsules from scrap iron found about the camp. Gelatin capsules retrieved from the American hospital were filled with the product produced from scrap iron. While these iron capsules were scarcely like those normally used by the Army Medical Service, they were better than none at all. They were used almost as a last resort measure for those patients whose red blood count was so low that they were predisposed to many diseases. As the red blood count could not be increased by variation in diet or standard items for supportive therapy which were not available, the "make-do" iron capsules had to be used--another example, this, of the efficacy of American "know-how" and the ingenuity of the citizens who were caught, but not inextricably, in the web as prisoners of war.
Every activity of the internees had to be approved by the Japanese army commander. This was a frustrating situation and contributed to feelings of rebelliousness among the internees who were U.S. citizens. Everything was regimented by the Japanese; admission of patients to the hospital; determination of the number of doctors, nurses and attendants who could work in the hospital at any one time; details concerning garbage collection and disposal and an almost unlimited number of other details. As a matter of interest the garbage detail was one of the most coveted as it carried with it the privilege of going outside the fenced camp enclosure. Usually two or three men carried a single garbage container to a preselected and approved spot. There, a pit was dug and the waste was buried. A significant technological advancement was made by the addition of a wagon which was used to haul the containers to the burial spot thus relieving weary and weakened men from the expenditure of energy necessary to carry the garbage according to the original system.
Before the hospital was established, the internees needing hospitalization were taken to an established Philippine activity. This privilege ended without warning at Camp John Hay at the time a maternity patient required hospitalization. The Japanese in charge of the camp had promised that all obstetrical patients would be taken to the civilian hospital in Baguio. An estimated date of confinement for all thirteen interned expectant mothers was given to the Japanese. (The Japanese people were known to be very exacting.) One mother went into labor on a Saturday night when she was scheduled to go to the hospital the following Monday. The Japanese guards could not understand the reasons that she could not wait until the scheduled time for delivery. This required much explaining, and permission had to be obtained from the Commanding General of the Japanese Army to take the mother to a hospital. Permission was not given and the baby was delivered in Camp. After the arrival of the first "camp baby" one of the camp guards remarked: "The General is a great general, but he does not know anything about babies."
The delivery of this first baby tested the ingenuity of all the nurses - six missionary and one civilian nurse in addition to the two Army nurses. There was no room available in the barrack for a delivery, so a small storeroom was quickly cleared and a thin mattress was placed on the floor. An ether mask was made from a tea strainer to use the cans of ether, which one of the Army nurses had carried into camp. A baby bed was made from a cabinet drawer. The few instruments available were boiled over a wood fire. An obstetrical pack was brought into camp for the US Army Hospital, which had been vacated. This pack had been kept in a closed box. The mother was not allowed out of bed for ten days and she was hospitalized for a total of fourteen days, a period of time that was considered necessary according to medical practice at that time. This was a waste of time according to the Japanese guards who visited the hospital several times during the day and informed the mothers that Japanese women were out of bed caring for their families the day following the birth of their babies. There were thirteen babies (11 American; 1 English; and 1 Chinese) born in the hospital at Camp John Hay during our first three months of internment. At the Manila Camp, the mothers were still permitted to go to a local hospital.
It was six weeks after the internment in Baguio that the Japanese gave permission to establish a hospital. The building authorized was a small cottage that had been an officer's home. The living room was used as a ward for women and children, one bedroom was a nursery, and one bedroom was used for adult male patients. The laundry room was painted and used as an operating room and delivery room. An operating table was constructed from old pieces of lumbar and padded with an old blanket. At a later date an examining table was obtained from a civilian hospital.
The now occupied US Army Hospital was about ½ mile from the barrack and many useful items had been hidden there before the Camp was vacated. A large amount of hospital supplies had been given to a civilian hospital prior to departure to assist in the care of wounded soldiers. It was believed by many people that the war would be of short duration and that the Camp would soon be occupied by US troops. The Japanese gave permission for one dentist, one physician and on Army nurse to visit the hospital. The guards warned the group that only toilet paper was to be taken from the old hospital as the new hospital, the barrack at Baguio, was to be a "dysentery hospital" and that toilet paper would be the only item needed.
The dentist and physician loaded the truck with toilet paper until there was only hanging room on the side. The Army nurse collected the remaining drugs and placed them in doctor's pockets. Packages of surgical supplies, a bundle of surgical instruments, which had been wrapped for transporting prior to evacuation of the hospital, and even a box of soap was found and smuggled into the truck. The surgical instruments consisted of nine Kelly hemostats, six mosquito hemostats, two pairs of surgical scissors, two abdominal retractors (not matched), two knife handles, four packages of blades, two handling forceps and one uterine forceps. It was fortunate that these instruments were wrapped in such a manner as to prevent any noise in handling. The truck was loaded to capacity and not one more item could be concealed. The Army nurse was invited to sit between the driver and the guard and the instruments were carried on her lap. She also had every pocket full and it was doubtful at the time if she could even be seated in the cab.
On return to the Camp, the Army nurse took the package of instruments into the hospital, placed it under a mattress and then returned to help unload the truck. The hospital retained almost half of the soap and toilet paper; the Japanese took the balance of that supply. The doctors were happy to know that the surgical instruments had been hidden. The final warning from the guards was that no surgical proceedings were to be performed at the hospital.
The following day an emergency appendectomy was performed in the hospital with the few instruments available. Despite their warning the preceding day, the guards were very happy that they had given the internees a hospital and that so much could be done with available supplies. Patient oriented as they were, the doctors expected the operating room to be ready in the usual thirty minutes! With such a request, the nurses felt as if they had been liberated.
In preparation for the emergency appendectomy, the improvised operating room was scrubbed from top to bottom with Lysol solution. The few surgical instruments were washed thoroughly in soap and water, boiled for ten minutes, then the film from minerals in water was removed with a sterile towel. The surgical instruments were placed on a tray from the Mayo table and baked in the oven for twenty minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit, approximately the same time as required to bake a cake two inches thick. These instruments were carried on a wire shelf from the stove to the operating room and then placed on the Mayo table. The sound of instruments on an enamel tray was quite different from that of instrument on a well-draped table. Sterile sheets, drapes, towels, and sponges were used from a pack that had been sterilized nine weeks prior to use and had been kept stored in a closed wooden box. The patient was given drop ether as an anesthetic and in spite of all the difficulties he had an uneventful recovery.
A large bolt of surgical gauze was given to the hospital and tape sponges were made for future surgical use. Economy of supplies was most necessary from the beginning to the end of internment. When supplies were exhausted there was no means of replenishing them. The procedure for preparing sponges for re-use in surgical procedures was time consuming, but required. The used sponges were washed in cold water, boiled for twenty minutes, placed on wire net to dry in open sunshine. The sponges were exposed to direct sunlight for two hours on each side. This procedure often required a period of two days. The sponges were ironed on both sides with an old fashioned flat iron retrieved from a house, placed in a package and autoclaved. The steam autoclave was the upright type. It had been taken from a dispensary at one of the local mines. The superficial dressings were often damp after autoclaving. In this event, the dressings were removed to a wire rack and placed for drying in the oven of an ancient wood-burning cook stove. This long procedure in sterilizing surgical supplies was considered necessary, as there was no laboratory available for culturing bacteria on supplies or for determining the efficiency of the autoclave. Notably, there were no infections following major surgery even though penicillin was not available at that time.
Smallpox and typhoid vaccines were obtained from a Philippine hospital; but it was never determined whether the vaccines had been properly refrigerated. It was definite, however, that the vaccines were outdated. Despite this, they must have been effective as there were no cases of either disease. It was difficult to persuade the internees to be immunized. The reminder that immunization would be necessary to enter the United States was the best means of rounding up the internees. The thought of being quarantined on arrival in the United States was too much for the weary internees to bear at this point.
Availability of supplies was always a problem. The Army nurses at Santo Tomas used hemp for sutures. This had to be carefully autoclaved. Surgical supplies became almost non-existent. Availability of food was always a problem. Rice was the principal food, which with a few vegetables and some meat was cooked to resemble a stew. The rice diminished in amount and quality until it resembled a thin library paste. Small white worms with a black eye soon found their way into the rice supply and these were cooked with the rice. We never discovered whether these little worms had two eyes because we didn't turn them over to see. This was repelling at first, but eventually no one removed the worms. Malnutrition soon became a problem. Beriberi was a disease that most internees had at some period during the third year of internment if not earlier. Severe cases were hospitalized while the less acute remained ambulatory. These individuals were encouraged to rest as much as possible. When they were required to climb steps they were told to stop on each second step, count to ten and proceed. Conserving physical strength was vitally important; however, many over exerted themselves, required hospitalization and death rates increased in the final months. It appeared to take more courage to live than to die.
Being a prisoner of war was a unique status for which no one was prepared. The camp life had created a civilization within a civilization. The camp population, however, had one thing in common-they were all enemy aliens to the Japanese conqueror. In this "New Civilization" the truths and laws whose validity had been believed and adhered to for centuries had been turned upside down. Many of the good had become bad and many of the bad had become good. In reality it was the interpretations that had changed, not the values themselves. The good remained good.
As the food supply diminished, people became increasingly irritable, hyper-sensitive to the actions of others, inclined to be seclusive in as far as possible-that is, the individual would seclude himself by sitting alone just a few feet from the usual crowd. His facial expression was enough to indicate: "I want to be alone." Then there were the others who formed small groups, talked about the past and planned for the future. The hatred felt for the enemy captor induced most people to endure hardships uncomplaining just to try to out live the enemy. By suffering, some were demoralized while others were raised to a higher level.
The Army nurses were highly respected by other internees. They mixed freely with all groups but lived in rooms set aside for them. This made the arrangement of duty hours for hospital work more convenient. The ingenuity of the Army nurses was continually tested in ways peculiar to the circumstances of internment. Although the medical and nursing staffs were well trained, equipment and supplies were lacking. This was probably to the advantage of the internees as one could improvise to a certain extent for the lack of equipment and supplies. While this was taxing to the individuals who expended the energy to plan, create and coordinate improvisations, there was an undeniably beneficial side effect: People were gainfully occupied and each small success strengthened their determination to continue to try to serve the enemy. Had good medical and nursing staffs been unavailable, the difficulties would have been compounded because of the time required to develop personnel to provide good patient care for which there is no substitute.
The Army nurses demonstrated their ingenuity in many ways such as (1) hemp was taken from the plant leaves, pulled into threads, wrapped around pieces of wood, sterilized and used for skin sutures. Cotton sewing thread was used for internal suturing as silk thread was no longer available (2) bandages were made from old bed linen washed and used over many times (3) surgical sponges were washed and used many times (4) instruments were sterilized by boiling on a cooking stove (5) birth certificates were made which contained a sketch of the camp hospital and (6) stuffed toys were designed by one of the nurses. Other nurse volunteers assisted in the "manufacture of the product." The stuffing for the toys was obtained from the already thin mattresses.
The lessons learned that would help in a like situation would be difficult to enumerate. Whether one could profit from such an experience would depend upon the individual's personality. People are human. They want a place to live, food, companionship and freedom - in a word: security. The question is - when an individual returns to a world of free people will he be able to forget everything that he has experienced, will he be embittered, broken and disillusioned, or will he have enough strength to find purpose and meaning in life again. In reality, should he be expected to go counter to the laws of human behavior by truly forgetting his experience or should he concentrate upon whatever small good the experience provided, guard those small bits of good, using them as chinking to rebuild the wall of his life?
Those who survive internment could be most easily classified into two categories. First, the antisocial, evidencing a completely selfish disregard for everyone and everything not directly related to the enhancement of the "self" concept. In this category the generalized attitude may be expressed as: "I have done my share, let others do theirs and endure suffering and hardships." Obviously, these would be the unhappy ones, the ones whose readjustment to the American standard of living is actually minimal.
The second, the empathetic, evidencing more humanity than ever before. Humanity is here defined as a combination of the best principles of human behavior, based upon the best philosophical and religious tenets known to man. This individual will have learned here something that no other form of education could have taught him. He will have learned the value of life - his own, and that of others - and the worth of freedom too.
We nee, therefore, a well adjusted, well educated and disciplined individual who can cope with adversity - roll with the punches so to speak - one who when faced with worms in his food can say: "Aha! Protein! Just what my country and I need at this moment. This I will eat for the good of my country."
Tolerance of ones self and tolerance of others was a daily lesson. Of course, this must have been learned long before a period of adversity. Realization and acceptance on ones self and others is not always "understanding."
The idea of the value of freedom was enhanced. Its meaning was made clear, for perhaps the first time, to those who had enjoyed it for their entire lives until this period of internment which suddenly eliminated what had been a constitutional right of the US citizens who were captured. The many privileges, normally enjoyed every day, become very cherished when they no longer exist: Freedom to speak without censorship; freedom to communicate in writing without censorship; freedom to travel; freedom to enjoy various news media, and the like.
It was immediately evident that survival required belief in and practice of the philosophy of utilitarianism. Without the application of this philosophy, survival would have been even less easily attained. One soon learned that the value of an item could be measured by its utility.
When supplies and equipment are, or have become practically non-existent, there is no substitute for well-prepared workers, be they physicians, nurses or teachers, or other professional, paraprofessional or nonprofessional personnel. What is lacking in equipment can be made up, to a point, by people who are properly prepared.
Perhaps the major lesson learned, and certainly the most difficult to accept was that we were not thoroughly prepared to win an armed conflict.
The following were interviewed for material for this manuscript:
Major Josephine Nesbit, Retired