Avoiding Japanese ‘doctors’ in Shinagawa Camp, Tokyo

Shinagawa POW camp. An aerial shot taken towards the end of the war.
Shinagawa POW camp. An aerial shot taken towards the end of the war.

Prisoners of War of the Japanese were to endure some terrible conditions throughout the war. The attitude of the Japanese seemed to be the same, whether it was female civilian detainees or men who had been captured in combat. All were subject to harsh and degrading treatment, suffered from lack of food and medical facilities, even when it was available, and could be subject to brutal beatings at the whim of their guards. Significant numbers died.

At the forefront of attempts to improve the conditions of prisoners were a number of doctors who had been captured alongside the others. They were to improvise medical treatments and even operate in the most primitive of conditions in an effort to save lives. The struggle went on in the jungle encampments on the Death Railway as well as the prison camps in Japan itself.

Alfred A Weinstein M.D. had been captured on the Philippines and spent time moving between prison camps. At the beginning of April 1944 he arrived at Shinagawa Camp, an infirmary serving the POW camps around Tokyo. There was no reason they needed to suffer the primitive conditions suffered in the Jungle. As Weinstein was to discover the main threat was actually the Japanese doctors themselves:

To Dr. Tokuda and Dr. Fugi we were prisoners, first and always. We had to obey their orders concerning the treatment of patients or be punished. As physicians, we were of interest to them only in so far as we could impart our knowledge and technique. In the very process of doing so, their hatred for us increased. Dr. Tokuda was a young man of twenty-eight, son of wealthy parents in the moving-picture industry, a recent graduate of a Tokyo university and medical school.

He had not yet submitted a medical thesis and was not licensed to practice medicine other than in the Army. He was short, slight, with shaven head, sloping forehead, and receding chin. His shifty eyes never focused on your face. He waddled about in glittering riding boots and baggy britches, the crotch of which almost reached the back of his knees. We called him “Dung in Britches.” His bowlegged gait and beetle head also earned him the pseudonym of the “Spider.”

Prisoner-patients were experimental animals to be used in furthering his knowledge of medicine and surgery. He had a monkeylike curiosity about medicine. He had an overpowering desire to become a great physician and surgeon in eight easy lessons.

He was torn by psychological conflict. He wanted to learn from us. At the same time he wanted to impress us with his superior knowledge. He wanted to learn from us. Yet he hated us for teaching him. Association with us increased his knowledge and inferiority complex simultaneously.

He was proud of the improvement we made in the hospital in so far as it reflected on his professional standing in the eyes of his confreres in Nip headquarters in Omori, Tokyo. We had to play on this broad streak of vanity to procure equipment, medicine, and food for emaciated diseased prisoners. “Dr. Tokuda,” we said, “all Allied governments will be interested in your magnificent administration of this fine hospital when the war comes to an end. They will be grateful to you for your efforts in curing their countrymen. You will be a great person in their eyes.” He beamed. We got some of the things we needed.

Although our surgical setup improved, our problems concerning the treatment of patients who needed surgery became more complicated. Dr. Tokuda was not interested in the proper treatment of disease by surgery. He was interested only in per- fecting himself in the technique of surgery.

To keep helpless patients from falling into the hands of this butcher, we had to rely upon guile and cunning. All our efforts were directed toward the end of preventing any surgery from be- ing done at Shinagawa other than that of the most urgent nature.

We received patients sent in from work camps with the diagnoses of appendicitis, gall-bladder disease, kidney stone, and hernia. We changed their diagnoses. We hid the patients in medical wards under false ones. If their symptoms subsided, we rested them up and sent them back to their work camps. It was safer for them to take their chances on a recurrence of their illness than to risk death at the hands of the great Spider.

If they got worse, they were operated on at night while he was out of camp. This was done in the face of his direct orders forbidding any surgery being done other than by Dr. Tokuda. Black with anger the next morning, he cussed and howled when he found out that a victim – had escaped his tender ministration. We told him blandly that it was an emergency and we were unable to reach him. These operations were done on the wards, kneeling on the straw-covered floor.

When Dr. Tokuda left for a three or four-day tour of inspection, we had a field day operating on patients we had hidden in the medical wards; appendices, incarcerated hernias, and bleeding hemorrhoids.

We advised patients with gallstones and peptic ulcer of the stomach to refuse operation if he discovered their ailments. Major surgery of this type performed by him would have been a death sentence. He beat these patients for refusing operation. He sent them back to their work camps to labor.

Certain patients had to be operated on to live. Dr. Tokuda began the operation, and mucked about until we finally took the instruments from him to finish the job. It infuriated him.

After Commander Hugh Cleave of the British Navy, captured in Hong Kong, came to Shinagawa, we pulled a brother and sister act on the Spider. Between the two of us, Cleave and I kept him so confused, elbowing him out of the way or holding retractors, that we were able to finish operations before he was able to do any damage. We repaired a double hernia on Italian Commander Bernanti in this manner. The Spider was furious. He couldn’t get a lick in.

See Alfred A Weinstein: Barbed Wire Surgeon

After Shinagawa Weinstein was sent to Omori POW camp where he was to suffer, along with many others, at the hands of the notorious sadist 'the Bird',  Mutsuhiro Watanabe.
After Shinagawa Weinstein was sent to Omori POW camp where he was to suffer, along with many others at the hands of the notorious sadist ‘the Bird’, Mutsuhiro Watanabe.

OSS troops executed at dawn on Dostler’s orders

German General Anton Dostler is tied to a stake before his execution by a firing squad in the Aversa stockade. The General was convicted and sentenced to death by an American military tribunal. Aversa, Italy.,  US Army photograph colourized by Mads Madsen.
German General Anton Dostler is tied to a stake before his execution by a firing squad in the Aversa stockade. The General was convicted and sentenced to death by an American military tribunal after ordering the execution of 15 US soldiers on 26th March 1944.
US Army photograph colourized by Mads Madsen.

The British had the Commandos as well the Special Operations Executive. The United States had the Office of Strategic Services, forerunners of the CIA, which fulfilled the overlapping functions of behind the lines raiding troops and outright spying missions.

In Italy an OSS mission to blow up railway lines on the supply line to Anzio fell very much into the category of special forces, rather than spying. ‘Ginny II’ saw uniformed troops dropped onto an Italian beach 250 miles behind the front line – the mission went wrong when they were dropped in the wrong place and forced to hide out in the Italian countryside. The subsequent court case lays out the facts:

On the night of 22nd March, 1944, two officers and 13 men of a special reconnaissance battalion disembarked from some United States Navy boats and landed on the Italian coast about 100 kilometres north of La Spezia. The front at the time was at Cassino with a further front at the Anzio beach head. The place of disembarkation was therefore 250 miles behind the then established front.

The 15 members of the United States Army were on a bona fide military mission, which was to demolish the railroad tunnel on the mainline between La Spezia and Genoa. On the morning of 24th March, 1944, the entire group was captured by a party consisting of Italian Fascist soldiers and a group of members of the German army. They were brought to La Spezia where they were confined near the headquarters of the 135th Fortress Brigade.

Colonel Almers then gave orders for the conduct of the execution, for the digging of a grave, etc. During the night from Saturday 25th to Sunday, 26th March, two attempts were made by officers of the 135th Fortress Brigade and by the Naval Officers to bring about a change in the decision by telephoning to the accused Dostler. All these attempts having been unsuccessful, the 15 Americans were executed on the 26th March, early in the morning. They were neither tried, nor given any hearing.

As men in uniform the fact that they were behind the lines should have been of no consequence. Unfortunately they fell within Hitlers’s notorious ‘Commando Order’. General Anton Dostler had ordered the executions. He argued at his trial, like many other Nazis after the war, that he was “only following orders”. He was to argue that the ‘Commando Order’ had been added to since it had first been issued:

During his examination, the accused, on being handed a copy of the text of the Fuhrerbefehl of October, 1942, said that a document which he had received in 1944 through Army Group channels contained substantially everything that was in the 1942 text, but with certain additions. He stated further that:

” this copy is not the complete Fuhrerbefehl as it was valid in March, 1944. In the order that laid on my desk in March, 1944, it was much more in detail . . . the Fuhrerbefeh1 which was laying in front of me listed the various categories of operations which may come under the Fuhrerbefehl. In addition there was something said in that Fuhrerbefehl about the interrogation of men belonging to sabotage troops and the shooting of these men after their interrogation. . . . I am not quite clear about the point, whether a new Fuhrerbefehl covering the whole matter came out or whether only a supplement came out and the former Fuhrerbefehl was still in existence….

The Fuhrerbefehl has as its subject commando operations and there was a list of what is to be construed as commando operations. I know exactly that a mission to explode something, to blow up something, cameunder the concept of commando troops.”

See the TRIAL OF GENERAL ANTON DOSTLER, Commander of the 75th German Army Corps, United States Military Commission, Rome, 8th-12th October, 1945

None of the Military Tribunals after the war were to accept the ‘only following orders’ argument to exculpate men accused of war crimes. In Nazi Germany all orders ultimately flowed back to Hitler, and it was convenient to argue that individual accused had no personal responsibility in this context. For Anton Dostler, and many others, it was not good enough to avoid execution themselves.

A Path to Lunch, has more background material on the OSS mission and pictures of the memorial to the men in Ameglia today.

US Military film record of Dostler’s execution in 1945:

German General Anton Dostler's body slumps toward the ground after being executed by a firing squad at Aversa, Italy. The hands still grip a rosary. The general was convicted and sentenced to death by an American Military Tribunal. 1 December 1945
German General Anton Dostler’s body slumps toward the ground after being executed by a firing squad at Aversa, Italy. The hands still grip a rosary. The general was convicted and sentenced to death by an American Military Tribunal. 1 December 1945

The ‘Great Escape’ from Stalag Luft III

One of the watch towers at Stalag Luft 3, Sagan.
One of the watch towers at Stalag Luft 3, Sagan.
General view of the huts and compound at Stalag Luft III prisoner of war camp, scene of the 'Great Escape' in 1944.
General view of the huts and compound at Stalag Luft III prisoner of war camp, scene of the ‘Great Escape’ in 1944.

In the POW camp of Stalag Luft III a multi national group of RAF officers had dedicated their time and energy to an unprecedented escape plan. During the course of 1943 three tunnels, ‘Tom’, ‘Dick’ and ‘Harry’ had been excavated. Only Harry remained at the beginning of 1944, after the Germans had built over the exit to Dick and discovered Tom. 200 officers now planned to make their escape in a single overnight breakout.

All would travel down the 102 metre long tunnel on trollies pulled along wooden tracks. It was planned that they would emerge in woods away from the barbed wire fence, out of sight of the prison guards. With so many escaping they knew the Germans would mount a huge manhunt for them. The expectation was that at least some men would make a ‘home run’:

Ken Reese had been actively involved in the tunnelling and on the evening of the 24th anxiously waited his turn in the queue:

The weather outside was as grim as it could be – well below freezing with lots of snow – so I dressed accordingly: long-johns, long-sleeved vest, thick pullover from my parcel, greatcoat and cloth cap. Our pockets were stuffed with matches, escape rations, maps, a compass, a tin oil light and tin can hopeful for any hot drink. Gloves, spare socks and some toiletries completed the kit; we thought we looked bad enough without having to add a few days stubble to our convict-like appearance.

The tension in the room was stomach-churning, almost worse than before any operation I could remember. We were bubbling over with excitement. It was a genuine adventure in the sense that no-one really knew what would happen, but the ultimate prize, of getting home and being free again was vivid in the minds of every one of us. This was a lottery and that winning ticket might be ours.

Red, staring down at his feast, but like the rest of us almost unable to eat it, said, ‘This should see us through the first couple of days. We won’t need to touch any escape rations.’

There was a lot of good-humoured banter and leg-pulling about what to do when we got back home, then at 19:00 hours we shook hands and slipped out into the dark.

When Red and I entered Block 104 for a horrible moment I thought we’d had it: in the dim light the first thing I saw standing before me in the corridor was a German unteroffizier. Panic hit me and I nearly passed out, then from under the hat I made out the face of Tobolski, a Polish flying officer, going out with Wings Day.

They were going to catch a train to Stettin, then try to stow away on a Swedish ship. Wings was resplendent in a very smart suit, while Tobolski’s German uniform, even now I had the chance to see it up close, was a masterpiece, every swastika, badge and belt in the right place. Tommy Guest was a genius.

There were about 200 of us spread evenly in the rooms throughout the hut. I can’t honestly remember if we had been allocated rooms according to our escape numbers, but that was probably the case. Everyone was nervous, checking constantly papers, escape rations, appearance — all the small details your life might depend upon later.

Pat Langford had already opened up the entrance, and as planned, Crump and Conk Canton were down the tunnel. Apart from hanging blankets to block the light, they also fastened six-inch strips of blanket to the shaft ends of the railway lines to muffle any sound, and made sure that all the electric light bulbs were working.

Yet again I sent up a prayer of thanks that Red had bagged that cable; electric light would make a big difference to those who had not yet been down the tunnel. At 8:45 pm, Crump and Conk emerged from the shaft and announced that everything was complete and ready to go.

The first group now went down the shaft to the tunnel led by the two hauliers for Piccadilly and Leicester Square, who then hauled the group through to open the tunnel exit.

See Ken Rees: Lie in the Dark and Listen.

There was however a problem. Another RAF pilot, Bram Vanderstok, the most decorated aviator in Dutch history, who had escaped from Holland in 1940, describes the events:

At 10:00, nothing happened, and at 10:30 p.m., still nothing seemed to move. Soon word came that there were problems down below. The fellows in the tunnel asked for a rope at least forty feet long. What for, we didn’t know. The stream of escapees was to have begun at 10:00. It was now almost 11:00 and no one had gone through yet.

Soon we knew what it was all about. When they had dug the last part of the exit shaft, a stream of fresh air had blown through the tunnel and we knew we had an opening outside the fence. It was a glorious moment! But when our digger, Johnnie Marshall, carefully put his head through the hole, he noticed he was twenty feet short of the edge of the woods. As fast as he could, he let himself down, crawled through the blankets that sealed off the light in the tunnel and reported his observation to Roger.

A German photograph, taken after the escape, of the exit shaft from ‘Harry’.

‘Sir,’ he stammered, ‘the tunnel is too short. It’s twenty feet short of the woods. Somebody goofed!’

‘What the hell are you talking about?’ Roger demanded, and then he realized his earlier suspicion was true.

The tunnel exit opening was outside the camp, but not quite in the projected place. Due to a slight error in direction and a miscalculation, the opening was between the barbed wire fence and the edge of the woods — not in the woods, as planned. Roger and his crew were near panic, but this was not a time for indecision or desperation. Something had to be done now and without hesitation. After a few minutes Marshall came up with an idea.

Roger looked the two diggers straight in the eye, said, ‘We go!’ and then, ‘Get forty feet of rope!’

The order for forty feet of rope echoed to the tunnel entrance and up to the waiting people in hut No. 104. Somehow, forty feet of rope was sent down and transported all the way via ‘Piccadilly Circus’ and ‘Leicester Square’ to the end station, where quick action was taken. One end of the rope was attached to the uppermost part of the ladder. The first man out had to crawl to the shrubs in the woods and act as a controller.

Another German photograph of the exit from ‘Harry’, showing the length of rope used by the escapees.

Three jerks on the rope was the signal for the next man to crawl out, follow the rope and disappear in the forest. Every fth man would be controller for the next four. Finally, they had the rope ready.

Roger said, ‘Warn everyone of the new procedure.’

Bram Vanderstok was one of the lucky ones who got away that night and lived to tell the tale. After the war he moved to the USA where he practised as a doctor and was a long term member of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary.

Ken Rees found himself in the tunnel itself in the early hours of the morning of the 25th. He had to rapidly retrace his steps when the tunnel was eventually discovered by the passing German sentry.

The delay probably saved Ken Rees’ life. 76 men had escaped, causing a massive manhunt across wartime Germany. Hitler was incensed and ordered that all those caught should be shot. Eventually 50 men were murdered by the Gestapo.

THE AMERICANS IN STALAG LUFT III

Somewhat controversially the 1963 film The Great Escape was a highly fictional account, which included US officers participating in the escape, and an episode with the character played by Steve McQueen attempting to escape by motorbike. Neither of these aspects of the film had any factual basis.

Yet there were US officers in Stalag Luft III and they had been involved in the original planning for the escape. The only reason they were not directly involved in the actual escape in March 1944 was that the US officers shad been moved to separate compounds within the camp, on account of their growing numbers.

The material collected by the US Air Force Academy in its special collection ‘Stalag Luft III Archive’ features prominently in a 2019 book, Stalag Luft III. This is a comprehensive collection of images and stories about the reality of life in the camp and many photographs illustrating the original tunnel and how it was built. The following images and excerpts are reproduced by kind permission of the publisher.

Lieutenant Colonel Albert P. Clark during his time as a Prisoner of War.

Lieutenant Colonel Albert P. Clark

Graduating from the US Military Academy West Point in l936, Clark joined the Army Air Corps to train as a fighter pilot. With the rapid expansion of the Corps after the fall of France in June 194O, Clark received accelerated promotion. By the spring of 1942, as a 29-year-old lieutenant colonel, he was the Executive Officer of the 31st Fighter Group (equivalent to an RAF Wing).

In June 1942 the Group deployed to Britain, the first American fighter unit to do so. On arrival, it was equipped with the Spitre VB. That July, Clark, together with other key members of the Group, was attached to the RAF Tangmere Wing to gain operational experience.

After taking part in ship protection patrols over the English Channel, he carried out his first fighter sweep over northern France on 26 July. After a tussle with four Fockewulf FW19Os, Clark was forced to crash-land close to Cap Gris Nez and became one of the first American aircrew to be captured.

After a spell at Oberursel, he was taken to Stalag Luft III and placed in the East Compound. He was initially the subject of some curiosity among the British inmates, but was quickly accepted by them. Clark soon became involved in sending coded messages to MI9 and initiated a successful campaign to improve hygiene in the compound.

He also became involved in escaping. On being moved to the North Compound, when it opened in March l943, Clark was put in charge of security while the tunnels for the Great Escape were being dug. Unfortunately for him, in September 1943 all the Americans were moved to the newly constructed Centre and South Compounds, with Clark going to the latter. There he took control of escape and intelligence-gathering activities.

The latter included coordinating the operation of secret cameras (sent in ordinary parcels by the US Army) for recording all activities in the camp. Clark took part in the long march westwards after the camp was evacuated in January 1945, and ended up in the camp at Moosburg.

He remained in the Air Force after the war, rising to the rank of Lieutenant General. His last position was Superintendent of the US Air Force Academy and he was instrumental in establishing the Stalag Luft III archive, part of the Academy’s Special Collections.

Three British prisoners of war produce news sheets in one of the huts at Stalag Luft III PoW camp.
Three British prisoners of war produce news sheets in one of the huts at Stalag Luft III PoW camp.
The entrance to 'Harry',
The entrance to ‘Harry’, with the improvised pipe that pumped fresh air into the 102 metre long tunnel.

U-boat murder leads to last mass execution in U.S.

The sinking of U-118 in June 1943. LTJG Fryatt's depth bombs straddle U-118.  Splashes from his turret guns can be seen as the Avenger pulls away after the attack. Two crewmen can be seen seeking shelter behind the conning tower.  U-118 is trailing oil after previous attacks by LTJG Stearns and LTJG Fowler.
The sinking of U-118 in June 1943 when U-118 was caught on the surface by planes from USS Bogue. LTJG Fryatt’s depth bombs straddle U-118. Splashes from his turret guns can be seen as the Avenger pulls away after the attack. Two crewmen can be seen seeking shelter behind the conning tower. U-118 is trailing oil after previous attacks by LTJG Stearns and LTJG Fowler.
Werner Drechsler, recovering from a bullet wound to his right knee, disembarks USS Osmond Ingram assisted by Hermann Polowzyk
Werner Drechsler, recovering from a bullet wound to his right knee, disembarks USS Osmond Ingram assisted by Hermann Polowzyk

On the 12th June 1943 planes from the USS Bogue had attacked U-118 and sunk her. There was a particularly good photographic record of the attack , and a number of survivors were picked up which helped document exactly what happened. Both the Royal Navy and the USN were assiduous in their interrogation of captured U-boat crews and were able to gain intelligence on a wide range of issues, not just relating to technical matters and operating procedures but also to the general morale of the crews, and the morale in Germany. At this stage of the war there were quite a few disaffected individuals who were prepared to be talkative.

Amongst the crew of U-118 Werner Drechsler proved to be especially forthcoming. In Nazi Germany saying anything negative about the regime was likely to mean a concentration camp sentence or worse. Werner Drechsler presumably felt he was safe in the hands of the US Navy, and by this time everyone could see which way the war was going. He agreed to go even further and under assumed identities spent time POW camps spying on his former colleagues, reporting back at the Joint Interrogation Center located at Fort Hunt., Virginia (just outside Washington, D.C.).

Unfortunately for Drechsler the US procedures were not as safe as he might reasonably expect. After the Navy had finished with him they sent him on to Army custody, responsible for detaining POWs. The Navy stipulated that he should not go to a camp with other Kriegsmarine prisoners. Somehow that instruction got lost and he was sent to Papago Park, Arizona, which housed a number of his former inmates, who had by now put two and two together. Within hours of arriving on 12th March 1944 Werner Drechsler was beaten and murdered. He was found hanging in the showers the next day:

Reference is made to the murder of Werner Drechsler at Prisoner of War Camp, Papago Park, Arizona, for which seven prisoners of war have recently been charged. The investigation in that case indicated that Drechsler had been used as an informant by G-2 or ONI to assist in the interrogation and processing of prisoners at Meade or some other installation in this vicinity. After his usefulness had been exhausted Drechsler was shipped to Papago Park for imprisonment. He was a submarine man, and Papago Park detains numerous Navy prisoners. Drechsler was recognized as a traitor to Germany and was murdered. This result could or should have been foreseen, to put it mildly.

It is recommended that some arrangement be made between this office and G-2 and ONI so that we will be alerted when prisoners who have assisted the American authorities are transferred to normal imprisonment. Under the present system, the responsible officers who are transferring such prisoners without taking any steps to provide for their safety are bringing about their deaths more rapidly and efficiently than our courts-martial are trying their murderers.

R. E. Guggenheim,
2nd Lt., CMP

In this case there was a court martial – for the seven U-boat men who killed Drechsler. They were convicted and later executed by hanging on July 28, 1945 at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. It was the last mass execution in the U.S.

The original documents used to be available at [http://www.uboatarchive.net/U-118ArmyInformantMemo.htm] – U-boat Archive.It may be possible to access this from the internet archive.

Front of Werner Drechsler's POW Personnel Record card - POWs were photographed fingerprinted, assigned their POW number, and asked to provide the information on the card as part of their initial processing
Front of Werner Drechsler’s POW Personnel Record card – POWs were photographed fingerprinted, assigned their POW number, and asked to provide the information on the card as part of their initial processing

Leo Rawlings – War artist on the death railway

Wampoh Bridge - almost a mile long and 300 ft. high, entirely built with tree trunks. A great engineering feat. (Plate 82).
Wampoh Bridge – almost a mile long and 300 ft. high, entirely built with tree trunks. A great engineering feat. (Plate 82).

As the Japanese began their last offensive in northern Burma and into India, further south the building of the Burma-Thailand railway was nearing completion. More men would die in this last push as they were forced into even greater labours to lay the track. The Japanese urgently wanted the railway in order to support their invasion army.

Suffering from a huge open ‘jungle sore’ that had eaten two inches into his left foot, Leo Rawlings had been transferred into a convalescent camp. Men in this camp were spared the hard labour but very little else of the horrors of the ‘Death Railway’. In addition to injuries everyone was suffering from malnutrition and vitamin deficiencies – easily treatable conditions that, left untended, caused terrible diseases like Beri-Beri, often leading to death.

Rawlings was doing his best to record it all. An artist before the war, he risked his life to make what sketches he could of the conditions men lived under:

It was now Spring of 1944. and the Railway was moving ahead with all the speed our masters could get out of us. ‘Speedo’ the order of yesterday was now the order of tomorrow, only more so.

Men still working in the jungle camps and the railway sidings were drafted out to operate on the track laying gangs. Up to eighteen hours per day, and in some cases even more, was expected and demanded of these unfortunates, the sick along with the half-fit — for now no fit men remained. All were either physically or mentally sick.

And as the nightmare continued up country we, the more fortunate, along with a few others, were moved back even further south. Most of our party could barely walk upright but many less fortunate ones had been forced to stay and work up country in a similar condition.

We were indeed the lucky ones. We travelled by truck and rail, passing over several great bridges built by P.O.W.’s at the cost of many lives. Such a bridge, as shown in Plate 82, was Wampoh — almost a mile long and 300 ft. high, entirely built with tree trunks. A great engineering feat.

Nearby, varied working parties laboured on either extending or repairing parts of the track or maintaining road conditions. These were also lucky men to a degree as Jap overseers in this area were not as ‘Speedo’ minded as further up country. The men on such parties were the ‘old crocks’, not old in age but in body and spirit. Men who had probably done many months on the Railway before being returned as dying. But somehow many of them had recovered.

Numbers of Aussies amongst them, tough as old rope, they refused to die and dragged out each new day, doing as little as they could get away with (as we all did), not wishing to help the Nips with their war effort.

Some men even up to their ears in rackets of all kinds, some of the unscrupulous ones, would brew up an imitation coffee made with burnt rice and Guala Malacca. This they would sell to their comrades at between two and five cents per cup. By this time everyone who could was on the ‘make’. Very few gave anything to anyone. It was dog eat dog.

Along the track that ran south to Singapore many camps dotted the line and jungle fringe. Into one of these our little party was duly deposited to await further conveyance. We were all walking skeletons by this time. Frequently I would count my ribs to check on correct anatomy for my sketches. To sit, even on soft ground, was painful as your thigh bones were only covered by a layer of skin. Consequently great raw patches soon turned again into sores.

Dysentery: a naked and emaciated prisoner-of-war sits on the edge of a bamboo bed with a metal bowl covered with a rectangular lid by his feet. L. RAWLINGS
Dysentery: a naked and emaciated prisoner-of-war sits on the edge of a bamboo bed with a metal bowl covered with a rectangular lid by his feet.L. RAWLINGS

In this new camp were many natives; Indians, Malays, Chinese etc., dying from dysentery. Our Jap guard told us that to help or feed them would be death to us, (whether by his gun or the disease he did not say). These poor wretches crawled to our feet when the Jap had gone, begging for food or water. There were no cooks in this camp but a quantity of rice and a few vegetables.

Two others in our party and myself set to work to make a crude meal. We made more than was needed for ourselves and then distributed the remainder to our native fellow sufferers. At night we slept alongside them, oblivious of any fear of contaminations, simply dead weary and exhausted. By morning many of our native companions were dead. That was the only time I ever cooked rice – I hoped it was my last.

I have explained several times the conditions of the latrines, bore holes etc. In Plate 85 an accurate drawing of one of many, with a close-up sketch of the inhabitants of these cesspools of horror. Comprising of layers of bamboo protruding over the edge of a ten foot pit, the contents of which heaved and teamed with bacteria, these death traps were our only so called sanitation. As I have already stated, by a Jap order we were not allowed to fill them in. God knows why – we never found out.

Many poor devils staggering in the dark at night to use same, frequently fell headlong in and were either drowned or died later from shock. I personally had a narrow escape when, on one occasion, my injured left foot, heavily bandaged, gave way beneath me and I went up to my thigh. Fortunately for me a comrade saw my plight and hauled me out in time. I did not feel clean for months later and even when, later in Changi, water was plentiful, I always scrubbed my left leg more than the rest of my body.

See Leo Rawlings: AND THE DAWN CAME UP LIKE THUNDER. Autobiography of an artist at War and what came After

After the war Leo Rawlings worked for the Victor and Hornet boys comics, their site has more details about his life.

Leo Rawlings was born in Birmingham and studied at Mosely School of Arts and Crafts. At the outbreak of war he joined the 137th Field Regiment (Blackpool), Royal Artillery where he became Regimental Artist. In September 1941 he was posted to support the beleaguered garrison at Singapore.

He was taken prisoner after the surrender in February 1942 and then came to the notice of Lt. Gen. Sir Louis Heath who commissioned him to keep an accurate record of his experiences and those of his fellow POWs. Rawlings had no paints, paper or brushes so was forced to use plant and clay pigments, scavenged paper and his own hair in the execution of some works. During captivity he stored works in an old stove pipe buried beneath his bed, as their discovery would have been fatal.

Bonhams Auctions

A typical  latrine as used by the POWs - 'cesspools of horror'.
A typical latrine as used by the POWs – ‘cesspools of horror’.

Anzio – searching through the pockets of the dead

'Anzio Beach-head, Italy! German dead lying in gulley where they attempted to break through Allied lines at night to cut a vital Allied road junction.' Signal Corps  6 March 1944
‘Anzio Beach-head, Italy! German dead lying in gulley where they attempted to break through Allied lines at night to cut a vital Allied road junction.’ Signal Corps 6 March 1944
Captain W Guest-Gordons, Intelligence Officer with No. 2 Infantry Brigade, examines a German Panzerfaust anti-tank weapon, Anzio, 27 February 1944.
Captain W Guest-Gordons, Intelligence Officer with No. 2 Infantry Brigade, examines a German Panzerfaust anti-tank weapon, Anzio, 27 February 1944.

On the Anzio beachhead everyone was either on the frontline or just behind it, the depth of ground held by the Allies was only a few miles at its greatest extent, and everyone was under threat from shellfire. There were a number of caves and the basements of buildings which provided relatively good sleeping accommodation, secure against most shells except for a direct hit. But most had to chance it, including the wounded in tented hospitals waiting to be evacuated.

Charles F. Marshall ran the daily gauntlet to the Intelligence Corps field base, on one occasion seeing the truck in front of him blown up by a direct hit. He had arrived in early February and had been shocked by the bodies piled up near to the beach. As a fluent German speaker (his parents were German speaking Hungarians who emigrated to America) he was a natural for Intelligence duties. He headed a section devoted to examining captured German documents:

The greater the butchery, the larger was the capture of documents. I was always a bit repulsed when handed a batch of bloody papers with a buck slip reading, “From good Germans — dead ones.” This was our Third Infantry Division’s trademark. The study of documents was engrossing work, because one never knew what one would find. There was also a tantalizing element: In which batch would we hit the jackpot? Meticulous examination leavened by serendipity and voila! There it could be!

Most of the document perusal was done by the sergeants, three of whom were native-born Germans and one an American of German ancestry. They sorted the wheat from the chaff. Any papers or maps they thought might have value were culled out for my evaluation. When the fighting was particularly heavy and there were many dead and wounded and large batches of prisoners, the document haul was so large it was brought in mailbags.

Even at such times, when we felt like miners panning a ton of silt to find an ounce of gold, our searches were never haphazard, but as thorough as time would permit. Consequently, a significant amount of shelling and bombing was not willy-nilly, as it may have appeared to the frontline soldier, but directed at targets ferreted out by behind-the-line intelligence.

For us laborers in the vineyards of intelligence, some aspects of our work were unpleasant. Bloody documents were no joy to inspect. And when they were both bloody and wet, which was often, because so much of the weather during the fighting was rainy, they were particularly revolting. Sometimes they were not removed from the fallen soldier’s pockets until he had lain dead for days in a rain-drenched field or ditch.

Yet, onerous though our task was, we intelligence personnel could not get rid of these papers without examining them, lest there be a clue in them as to how to kill more of the enemy and, conversely, cut American and British losses. As recompense for our slightly sheltered lives at field headquarters,we felt a moral obligation to the frontline soldier to do a conscientious job so as to shorten his travail and possibly save his life. That was our motivation. No matter how bloody and wet the document, no matter how repulsive, it was scrutinized. It just might be that nugget of gold.

Before eating, and at times at considerable inconvenience, I scrubbed my hands thoroughly, not only for sanitary reasons, but to get rid of that odor of death that, no matter how much I scrubbed, seemed to linger with an irritating pervasiveness.

We thought then, and I still think now, that we were making a signicant contribution to the battle to undo Hitler. Our work revealed that Germany was running so short of manpower that sixteen and seventeen-year-old kids were being drafted and given only two months of basic training before being thrown into the front lines. This policy was criminal.

Sometimes I felt like weeping as I went through their papers and pictures. To my parents I wrote: “They’re not soldiers. They’re just children in uniform. They are now pulling their kids directly from the Hitler Jugend. I can’t help wondering how long before they take them from the kindergarten. I don’t see how Germany can go on much longer. We have overwhelming air power, manpower, and production.”

The Hitler Jugend was more or less similar to our Boy Scouts, although rigidly organized, supercially trained militarily, and politically oriented. Most German boys carried enough documentation to write their biographies. Among the items they surrendered were their wallets, birth certicates, baptismal certicates, family pictures, pictures of their girl-friends or wives, diaries, driving licenses, and any of a hundred more or less standard items — including as a rule a batch of personal letters.

Some carried nude pictures of their wives or sweethearts, stimulating reminders of the joys awaiting their return. One PW had half a dozen seductively posed shots that, according to the letter found with them, had been taken by the woman’s father. Such photos, triggering salivating appraisals, lightened the day’s chores and were gleefully passed around, getting as much critical inspection as a captured map.

See Charles F. Marshall: A Ramble Through My War: Anzio and Other Joys

German POWs captured north of Anzio, 31 January 1944.
German POWs captured north of Anzio, 31 January 1944.
Two captured German paratroopers carrying a wounded British soldier who had lost a foot on a mine.
Two captured German paratroopers carrying a wounded British soldier who had lost a foot on a mine.

Beaten to death for teaching children

For a brief period the Japanese managed to gain control of their Greater Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere - in which they were the dominant partner.
For a brief period the Japanese managed to gain control of their ‘Greater Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere’ – in which they were the dominant partner.

While the dreadful experiences of troops captured by the Japanese are relatively well known from a variety of memoirs from the Burma-Thailand ‘death’ railway and elsewhere, the experiences of civilians interned by the Japanese are less well chronicled.

The suffering of ordinary civilians – men, women and children, at the hands of the Japanese was widespread. Sometimes it is argued that the Japanese contempt for POWs stemmed from the fact that that they had surrendered. Yet there was an equal brutality towards civilians who had simply been caught up in the war, being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

There were many European families spread through the Dutch East Indies, now largely Indonesia. The Kristensen family were from Norway and had settled in Java. In the middle of 1942 they were rounded up, along will all the other Europeans. Routine brutality, meagre rations and squalid living conditions were to be the circumstances of their prison camp existence.

Lise Kristensen was 10 years old in 1944. The Japanese had forbidden any form of lessons for the children, learning Japanese was all that was needed for the “Greater Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere”. The Japanese guards were usually absent from the compound in the early part of the morning, so three young Dutch women had volunteered to hold informal lessons for them in the Church within the compound, discreetly away from Japanese eyes. It would be risky if the Japanese found out. They did not know how risky:

One day we were having a lesson on England when the Japanese guards burst through the doors on the opposite side of the church. We had drawn the shape of the map of the British Isles, and had separated the outline into the countries of Scotland, England, Ireland and Wales. I was beginning to colour in Wales with a deep-red crayon when I heard a commotion behind me.

The guards were running along the back of the church towards us. Miss Helena was desperately trying to gather up the pencils and paper and instinctively I dived under the benches to get out of the way. I lay cowering on the floor, watching those horrible black boots kicking out at the children who had not managed to get out of the way, stamping on the crayons and pencils. I screwed my eyes tight shut and covered my ears.

When I opened my eyes, I could see the shape of Miss Helena being dragged along the floor towards the door to the garden. She was crying and her face was covered in blood, I lay under the benches until the guards had gone. Almost immediately the cry of tenko [summoning the prisoners to parade] came from outside.

I caught up with Mama in the garden as we rushed towards the line that was beginning to form. Mama checked that we all had our numbers attached and we took our place on parade. Miss Helena was not in the line; she was standing between two Japs who were facing us. After a short delay a Japanese ofncer turned up. I watched my dear teacher’s face as he approached us. She looked very, very frightened as the blood mixed with her tears.

‘Prisoner not follow orders,’ he boomed in a voice that almost shook the foundations of the church. ‘No school,’ he continued. ‘Only school in Japanese. Prisoner must be punished’

He nodded at one of the guards. The man took a step forward and raised his rifle high into the air. With all his strength he hammered it into the side of Miss Helena’s head. The side of her face split open and she immediately fell to the floor.

A pool of blood formed on the ground and the sight of it caused one of the ladies to faint. Women around me were crying and the children who had been at Miss Helena’s school only a few minutes before buried their faces in their mothers’ clothing.

I watched. I looked on in utter disbelief, but I kept watching because I wanted Miss Helena to stand and because I wanted it to be over. Incredibly I noticed a slight movement in my teacher’s eyes. The officer noticed it, too, and signalled once again to the soldiers, who helped her to her feet. She was very wobbly but eventually the soldiers stood back when she was able to stand on her own.

She held the side of her head as the blood seeped from between her fingers. I don’t think I could ever have imagined that much blood coming from such a wound. It covered her blouse and her skirt and fell in drops onto the dry earth. I couldn’t believe the blow to her head had not killed her, but she stood still and, although she was crying, I could see she was getting stronger by the second.

The Japanese officer nodded his head to one of the soldiers, who repeatedly and viciously attacked her with his rifle until she collapsed in a heap once again. I made an attempt to run forward and tell them to stop, but Mama hugged me tight around the shoulders and refused to let me go. Then the other soldier joined in with his boot.

I covered my eyes but could not block out the noise. The sounds of the two soldiers kicking and hitting her went on and on and, although I had nothing in my stomach, I felt sick. They beat her for a full minute; they beat her until she moved no more. I uncovered my eyes… They had beaten her to a pulp; she didn’t stir.

By now the line of women and children were hysterical; the screams and shouts echoed around the compound as the guards dragged Miss Helena away. The officer delivered a lecture about obedience and punishment, then dismissed us.

The incident is undated in the memoirs of Lise Kristensen: The Blue Door: A little girl’s incredible story of survival in the Japanese POW camps of Java, but appears to have taken place in early 1944.

Japanese paratroopers during the invasion of Sumatra in February 1942, before the invasion of Java.
Japanese paratroopers during the invasion of Sumatra in February 1942, before the invasion of Java.

Japanese brutality as they overrun hospital

An Indian infantry section of the 2nd Battalion, 7th Rajput Regiment about to go on patrol on the Arakan front, Burma.
An Indian infantry section of the 2nd Battalion, 7th Rajput Regiment about to go on patrol on the Arakan front, Burma.

In northern Burma the clashes between the Anglo-Indian forces and the Japanese were becoming more frequent. The Japanese were now building up in strength and attempting to infiltrate the British lines. On the 7th February they broke into a Field Hospital run jointly by the Royal Army Medical Corps and the the Indian Army.

It was a widely dispersed series of buildings and the Japanese force, which appeared to be searching for medical supplies, shot or bayoneted patients in their beds when they were found.

They did not discover everyone – and a party of doctors and patients lay undiscovered overnight. They were not spared for long. Lieutenant-General Sir Geoffrey Evans was subsequently able to piece together what happened:

When day came, they lay still so that the Japanese might not notice them. During the morning they heard a shout outside and the RAMC Captain asked: ‘What do you want?’ The shout – it sounded like ‘You go’ – was repeated. The Captain shook his head and lay down again. ‘Who is it?’ asked the Lieutenant.

‘It’s a Jap,’ said the Captain. At that moment one of the Japanese soldiers appeared and shot him through the right thigh. The Captain shouted: ‘I am a doctor – Red Cross – I am a medical officer.’

The Japanese shot dead the Captain, the Gurkha Major, two British soldiers and a mess servant. The Lieutenant and the three surviving British soldiers lay still. They stayed like that all day, and when darkness came they managed to leave the hospital and find the safety of the nearest West Yorkshire post.

A British private of the RAMC – one of a party of twenty – survived to describe his experience. He was tied by his neck to another man – as they all were – kicked, cuffed and cracked over the head by rifle butts, and used as a shield on top of a trench by the Japanese when the carrier attacked. Just before dark on February 8 a Japanese officer told the twenty men: ‘Come and get treatment.’

They were taken along a dried-up watercourse to a clearing with a running stream. Through the whole hot day they had been allowed only two bottles of water between them. And now they stood by the stream. But they were not allowed to drink. The Japanese opened up at them with rifles. Seventeen of them were killed.

That night Lieutenant Basu and nine men who had been wounded when a mortar exploded near them lay in a watercourse, some dying, some crying for water. The Japanese shot one man and bayoneted another who cried too loudly. Just before they left, the japanese stood in front of them, their rifles ready. ‘We are Red Cross people,’ said Basu – he and another doctor both had their stethoscopes slung round their necks. ‘We are doctors and hospital workers. We have nothing to do with actual warfare.’ Most of them wore Red Cross badges on their arms. It made no difference. The Japanese shot them all.

Lieutenant Basu was shot at twice. He was left stunned. At first he was not sure whether he was alive or dead. He felt at his ear, but there was no blood on his fingers. He could still see and his thoughts became clear once more. He realised how vulnerable he was lying there still alive.

So he reached out to the body of one of his dead friends and put his hand on the wounds until it was covered With blood, and then he smeared the blood over his face and head and down his shirt front, so that the Japanese would think he, too, was mortally wounded. He slipped groaning into a trench, and there he spent the night.

See Sir Geoffrey Evans: THE DESERT AND THE JUNGLE.

Doctors tend a wounded soldier of the 81st West African Division in an improvised operating theatre in the Kaladan Valley, Burma.
Doctors tend a wounded soldier of the 81st West African Division in an improvised operating theatre in the Kaladan Valley, Burma.

British and American PoWs paraded through Rome

Rome, Italy, March 1944. General der Luftwaffe Kurt Mälzer
Rome, Italy, March 1944. General der Luftwaffe Kurt Mälzer inspecting Italian troops of the X MAS (belonging to the RSI Navy, and fighting as allied of the Germans) standing in viale Carso near piazza Bainsizza around the time this unit was deployed to counter the Allied beachhead at Anzio – Nettuno, south of Rome.
General der Luftwaffe Kurt Mälzer at the same parade.
General der Luftwaffe Kurt Mälzer at the same parade.

On the 2nd February 1944 some 2000 US and British PoWs were paraded through Rome. It was partly a German attempt to re-assure the population that they had the Allied landings at Anzio under control. Others saw it as ’emulating the tradition of the triumphal marches of ancient Rome’.

Humiliating PoWs was against the conventions of war. After the war the German commander in Rome, Lieutenant General Kurt Maelzer, was accused of a War Crime, a breach of the Geneva Convention:

… exposing prisoners of war … in his custody … to acts of violence, insults and public curiosity

From the summary of the trial:

Some time in January, 1944, Field Marshal Kesselring, commander-in-chief of the German forces in Italy, ordered the accused who was commander of Rome garrison to hold a parade of several hundreds of British and American prisoners of war in the streets of the Italian capital.

This parade, emulating the tradition of the triumphal marches of ancient Rome, was to be staged to bolster the morale of the Italian population in view of the recent allied landings, not very far from the capital.

The accused ordered the parade which took place on 2nd February, 1944. 200 [sic] American prisoners of war were marched from the Coliseum, through the main streets of Rome under armed German escort. The streets were lined by forces under the control of the accused. The accused and his staff officers attended the parade.

According to the Prosecution witnesses (some of whom were American ex-prisoners of war who had taken part in the march), the population threw stones and sticks at the prisoners, but, according to the defence witnesses, they threw cigarettes and flowers.

The prosecution also alleged that when some of the prisoners were giving the “victory sign ” with their fingers the accused ordered the guards to fire. This order, however, was not carried out.

A film was made of the parade and a great number of photographs taken which appeared in the Italian press under the caption “Anglo Americans enter Rome after all … flanked by German bayonettes.”

The accused pleaded in the main that the march was planned and ordered by his superiors and that his only function as commander of Rome garrison was to guarantee the safe conduct and security of the prisoners during the march, which he did.

He stated that the march was to quell rumours of the German defeat and to quieten the population of Rome, not to scorn or ridicule the prisoners.

Contemporary film of the parade:

General Kurt Maelzer’s defence, like a lot of Nazis, was that he was just following orders. He was convicted and sentenced to imprisonment for ten years, reduced to three years on appeal. He was also convicted in connection with his role the notorious Ardeatine Cave massacre and died in prison in 1952.

A motorcycle despatch rider checks his route with a Canadian military policeman, 30 January-3 February 1944.
A motorcycle despatch rider checks his route with a Canadian military policeman, 30 January-3 February 1944.
A motorcycle despatch rider watches as the message he has brought to 8th Indian Division HQ is handed to the GOC, Major General D Russell, by his ADC, Captain D A Sconce, 30 January-3 February 1944.
A motorcycle despatch rider watches as the message he has brought to 8th Indian Division HQ is handed to the GOC, Major General D Russell, by his ADC, Captain D A Sconce, 30 January-3 February 1944.
A 75mm howitzer of 461 Battery, 85th Mountain Regiment, Royal Artillery, on the Monte Di Rontana, 2 February 1945. The guns were firing at German positions in Isola. A mule train with Basuto muleteers bringing up ammunition can be seen in the background.
A 75mm howitzer of 461 Battery, 85th Mountain Regiment, Royal Artillery, on the Monte Di Rontana, 2 February 1945. The guns were firing at German positions in Isola. A mule train with Basuto muleteers bringing up ammunition can be seen in the background.

U.S. Rangers suffer devastating losses at Cisterna

 General view of the docks and town of Anzio after its capture by Allied assault force which brought the little known sea port city into the world spotlight.” Anzio, Italy. 31 January 1944
General view of the docks and town of Anzio after its capture by Allied assault force which brought the little known sea port city into the world spotlight.” Anzio, Italy. 31 January 1944
Allied landing craft burning fiercely off Anzio after being hit by German bombers.” Anzio, Italy. 1 February 1944
Allied landing craft burning fiercely off Anzio after being hit by German bombers.” Anzio, Italy. 1 February 1944

On the Anzio beachhead the situation was going from bad to worse. In command of the beachhead General John P. Lucas felt he had been asked to implement a fatally flawed plan. In his eyes it would be futile to attempt to break out until they were in sufficient strength. Yet as each day passed the German forces surrounding them grew in strength and dominated the high ground.

Under pressure from above the adopt a more aggressive approach, the end of January saw determined assaults on the perimeter. The US Rangers were tasked with an overnight infiltrating raid towards the town of Cisterna.

Unfortunately intelligence was poor and they found themselves infiltrating an area occupied by a strong German force that was preparing to break into the Allied lines. The result was some very confused fighting in which the Rangers were heavily outnumbered.

Carl Lehman was attached to Company HQ:

The shell which killed Major Miller, according to what was told me by others near the time, was the one that opened the battle. Although I was unaware of the Major’s location forward of mine in the Pontano Ditch, the shell exploded quite near and with the explosion, I sprang running to the left right through an enemy bivouac (no tents, just men lying under blankets), astonished at Germans rising all around, running away with hands in the air, crying “Kamarad!”, as I ran through them, shooting from the hip.

By the time I had expended the clip from my M1, I had run completely through the camp area, coming to a shallow hedgerow running generally parallel to the Ditch, although now I was more than a couple of hundred yards from it. I continued my run up the hedgerow until my attention was caught by the clatter of a flack-wagon which pulled into view on a low ridge perhaps 100 yards to the left.

Dawn was just breaking, and the flack-wagon was silhouetted against the lightening sky. I dropped, reloaded, and commenced firing at the soldiers trying to unlimber a brace of automatic guns in the open body of the truck. They were in plain sight and easy targets, and beat a hasty retreat to the far side of the ridge. It was then that I became aware that a line of Rangers had followed me up the ditch, many doing the same as I. (I had no squad at the time and was attached to Company HQ, carrying a load of demolitions). We had quite a successful shoot for several minutes, at Germans whose heads we could see, but who see only our muzzle-flashes in the dark of the swale. All the metal of the M1 was hot and the wood was smoking.

After some little time shooting one clip after another, I heard Sgt. Perry Bills shouting my name; after I replied he directed me to come in his direction (in an open field towards the Ditch). I jumped up and ran to join those in the field, and the others in the hedgerow did the same, to the accompaniment of small arms fire still inaccurate because of the dark. When I reached Bills’ general area, I became aware of a large number of men flattened out in the field with no cover at all, and the small arms fire was building.

I attempted to light a British phosphorous contact grenade, but it failed to detonate. A wounded officer nearby, seeing what I attempted, tossed me an American one with which I was successful in producing a cloud of smoke. However, I had had to toss it quite close to me because of the surrounding men, and perceiving the danger of falling tendrils over head, I again began running not stopping until I ran into a fire fight between some First Battalion men and some Kraut infantry. I’m not sure how this ended but after it did, I commenced looking for C Company.

There was a tall barn nearby and I climbed to its second floor, which had a door looking south the way we had come, but another window higher up and facing West, which I attempted to gain for a better look with a handy ladder. When no sooner started up the ladder when I heard the ungodly clatter of an armored vehicle outside. I abandoned the ladder and stole a peek through the door which revealed a self-propelled gun with a driver and a 4-man crew in the back, working about the gun, directly under me. I dropped a grenade in it and hit the ground running on the other side of the barn before it exploded. I did not inspect the results.

For the whole of his account see That day in Cisterna

Lehman describes part of a contentious episode. The end of this attack saw the Germans bring Ranger prisoners to the US pockets of resistance at bayonet point – allegedly bayoneting them if the others fired on them or refused to surrender.

It had been a disaster for ‘Darby’s Rangers’, surrounded and out of ammunition they eventually had to surrender anyway. Only 7 men out 810 made it back to Allied lines – the exact numbers taken prisoner were never established but was estimated at around 400 men. The US Army Ranger Association has more background on the 3rd and 4th Battalions.

Germans use Russian truck. Vehicle captured from Nazis by Fifth Army Forces in Anzio sector is a Soviet Ford [1930’s model with low wall box with canvas top], shown being examined by Sgt. Jacob Roll of De Pew, N.Y. [New York] and Cpl. Mike Reynolds (at right) of Bloomfield, N.J. [New Jersey]” Anzio, Italy. 30 January 1944
Germans use Russian truck. Vehicle captured from Nazis by Fifth Army Forces in Anzio sector is a Soviet Ford [1930’s model with low wall box with canvas top], shown being examined by Sgt. Jacob Roll of De Pew, N.Y. [New York] and Cpl. Mike Reynolds (at right) of Bloomfield, N.J. [New Jersey]” Anzio, Italy. 30 January 1944
upon arriving at evacuation hospital in Anzio, these two American nurses, L-R: 2nd Lt. Mary H. Fischer, Strassburg, N.[North] and 2nd Lt. Margaret L. Gallagher, Hibbing, Minn.[Minnesota] take turns digging fox-hole.” Anzio, Italy. 1 February 1944
upon arriving at evacuation hospital in Anzio, these two American nurses, L-R: 2nd Lt. Mary H. Fischer, Strassburg, N.[North] and 2nd Lt. Margaret L. Gallagher, Hibbing, Minn.[Minnesota] take turns digging fox-hole.” Anzio, Italy. 1 February 1944