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Fugitives: Evading and Escaping the Japanese

bob stahl
Copyright Date: 2001
Pages: 160
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    " When the Japanese Imperial Forces invaded the Philippine Islands at the onset of World War II, they quickly rounded up Allied citizens on Luzon and imprisoned them as enemy aliens. These captured civilians were treated inhumanely from the start, and news of the atrocities committed by the enemy soon spread to the more remote islands to the south. Hearing this, many of the expatriates living there refused to surrender as their islands were occupied. Fugitives, based on the memoir of Jordan A. Hamner, tells the true story of a young civilian mining engineer trapped on the islands during the Japanese invasion. Instead of surrendering, he and two American co-workers volunteered their services to the Allied armed forces engaged in the futile effort to stave off the enemy onslaught. When the overwhelmed defenders surrendered to the invaders, the three men fled farther into the disease-ridden mountainous jungle. After nearly a year of nomadic wandering, they found a derelict, twenty-one foot long lifeboat in a secluded coastal bay. Hoping to sail to freedom in Australia, the trio converted the craft into a sailboat, and called it the "Or Else." They would make it to Australia -- or else. With only a National Geographic magazine map of the Malacca Islands for navigation, Hamner, his two compatriots, and two Filipino crewmen sailed their unseaworthy craft fifteen hundred nautical miles over seas controlled by the Japanese navy, touching land only briefly to replenish meager rations or evade enemy vessels. After thirty perilous days at sea, marked by nearly disastrous encounters with hostile islanders, imminent starvation, and tropical storms, the desperate fugitives reached the welcome shores of Australia.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-7080-0
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. List of Maps
    (pp. vi-vi)
    (pp. vii-x)
    (pp. xi-xiii)

    On the morning of 7 December 1941, the Japanese attacked the United States military and naval forces in the Hawaiian Islands, leaving them in complete disarray. A few hours later, across the international date line in the Philippine Islands, they destroyed the U.S. Army Air Corps at Clark Field, Luzon, on 8 December. Their devastating attacks on Cavite Naval Yard and the Manila harbor within the next few days decimated the few vessels constituting the navy’s Asiatic Fleet.

    In 1935, Gen. Douglas A. MacArthur was sent to the Philippines to establish a military training and defense program. He retired in...

  6. Map
    (pp. xiv-xiv)
    (pp. 1-4)

    That night we were hit by a series of squalls that came from nowhere. We dropped the sail and rolled free on large waves. Charlie Smith and Catalina took shelter from the rain below deck in the tiny cabin. Chick, Lakibul, and I huddled under ponchos on deck, with Lakibul at the tiller. An especially strong squall hit us and the boat tipped over. The mast was flat out on the water. Chick, Lakibul, and I were spilled overboard, along with many of the supplies stored on deck. We clung to the high side of the boat, and as we...

  8. one MANILA
    (pp. 5-11)

    Although the trip from Los Angeles to Manila on the S.S.Annie Johnsonwas uneventful, I did not look upon it as a relaxing ocean cruise. Good food, swimming in a twenty-foot-square canvas pool on the afterdeck, lying on a deck chair while sipping drinks which got more and more tropical as we moved closer and closer to the equator kept me occupied. But the news broadcasts describing the diplomatic confrontations between the United States and Japan were of more than casual concern to me and to many other passengers, although we seldom spoke of them. War with the Japanese...

  9. two MASBATE
    (pp. 12-21)

    TheArguswas small, dirty, and burned soft coal, the smoke and soot finding its way into every crevice. She steamed out of the harbor and across the bay, then through the North Channel minefield in a mamma-duck-and-goslings file with several other ships under the guidance of an escort yacht. After passing Corregidor Island, each ship went its separate way.

    Our route was to the southeast through the Verde Island Passage separating Luzon and Mindoro islands, then between Mindoro and Marinduque islands and across the Sibuyan Sea to Aroroy on the northeast coast of Masbate Island, the port which served...

  10. three EVACUATION
    (pp. 22-28)

    New Year’s Day dawned bright and sunny, a holiday at the mine. We all lazed about, not talking very much. In the afternoon, several Japanese planes flew low overhead, by now a very common occurrence. With nothing to do and nothing happening, we all went to bed early, depressed and worried.

    About midnight, I was awakened by Graham Nelson, the young geologist, bursting into the room.

    “The Japs have landed in Masbate City and are coming this way. We’re pulling out!”

    “Where did you get the news?” I asked, as I struggled to rouse myself.

    “Just got a phone call...

  11. four BACK TO THE MINE
    (pp. 29-43)

    The next morning Ken Hanson and I found a car and driver to take us back to the mine. Undet decided to stay at Cawayan. The vehicle was a battered and beaten mid-1920s vintage, seven-passenger Packard touring car that had long ago been stripped of its cloth top and the collapsible tubular framework which had supported it. In fact, even the windshield and its supports were only a memory, as was any semblance of the original leather upholstery. But its engine had survived and worked surprisingly well considering that for years it was lubricated with coconut oil and fueled with...

  12. five PANAY
    (pp. 44-51)

    For two weeks we spent most of our time at Capiz, with occasional short trips to Iloilo on the south coast of the island. Life was slow and easy. We were away from the stress that had been our daily regimen on Masbate. I appreciated being on an island where there was a semblance of a military force on my side of the confrontation.

    The food was interesting and varied, and the daily fare of Filipino cuisine did not become boring. Actually this was not really the native diet, for the cooks had been trained by Americans and the meals...

  13. six MINDANAO
    (pp. 52-68)

    Our landing on Mindanao was not skillfully executed. It was the darkest of nights and we sailed directly into a large fish trap in the shallow waters of Dapitan Bay. We spent over an hour poling the boat this way and that before finding our way through the maze.

    In the Philippines, fish traps are found at nearly all beach barrios. Fences of one-inch-wide bamboo strips spaced about an inch apart and laced together with rattan extend for hundreds of yards, forming a large “vee.” Anchored into the sandy bottom with the open end facing the deep water, the fences...

  14. seven INTO THE JUNGLE
    (pp. 69-92)

    Charlie Smith finished destroying the concrete dock at Iligan just as several Japanese freighters rose over the horizon and headed into the bay. A rather large but dilapidated wooden bodega stood on timber piles a short distance from the destroyed dock. It extended about twenty feet past the low water mark toward the bay. An attached short, narrow loading pier reached farther into the bay. It, too, was supported on timber piles. He had not set charges under the bodega or the pier, for they looked like they were about to collapse under their own weight. They certainly would be...

    (pp. 93-99)

    The town of Labangan, about five miles northeast of Pagadian, proved to be a better place to stay for a while, for we were able to take up residence in a portion of a rice mill operated by a Chinese family. Our living area was a second floor loft normally used for storage of sacks of rice, but now empty. Our meals—typically Chinese fare of rice, fish, and strange vegetables—were “catered” by the Chinese family for a small fee. Although our quarters were dry and comfortable, the spilled grain in the cracks in the floor attracted rats that...

  16. nine TO AUSTRALIA
    (pp. 100-123)

    With Charlie Smith at the helm, we headed southeast from Labangan toward the Moro Gulf. It soon became evident that the molave plank was a barely adequate substitute for a keel, for theOr Elsetended to heel over quite far, even if the wind was moderate. Chick and I busied ourselves shifting cargo from place to place to give the boat better balance. The adjusting of the load helped—but not much.

    What little favorable breeze we had was soon lost, so we cranked up the engine. Within a few hours it began to sputter. The sputtering soon became...

  17. ten BRISBANE
    (pp. 124-134)

    The next morning, 4 January 1943, we boarded an Australian navy corvette for the short ride to Darwin. She was returning to port after a tough battle against the Japanese in the vicinity of Timor, one of the Lesser Sunda Islands, where she had suffered considerable damage and lost several members of her crew.

    After locating Timor Island on our navigation chart—our beat-upNational Geographicmap—I said to Charlie and Chick, “Look at this. We were almost within sight of each other a week ago.”

    “Yeah,” said Charlie. “If they had spotted us then and picked us up,...

    (pp. 135-138)

    In May 1943, Capt. Jordan Hamner led a six-man team to Tawitawi Island, off the northeast coast of Borneo. As one of many AIB penetration parties inserted into the enemy-held islands in the South Pacific, his team’s mission was to establish a coast-watching post and to report by radio to the AIB’s station in Australia any ship movements spotted in the adjacent sea lanes. A second, but no less important, part of its mission was to gather and report general intelligence information in the Tawitawi-Borneo area.

    The problem of maintaining his team’s security in this area of intense Japanese presence...

  19. APPENDIX: War Department Letter
    (pp. 139-140)
    (pp. 141-143)