Diary of Natalie Crouter

Apr. 14, 1944

Special Section on Bill, Gene, and Jim in jail. Bill was strung up by his thumbs four times in four hours. They tied his hands behind him, then tied the thumbs and pulled him up with arms behind him. He could touch the ground with his toes, which helped a little, but the back was bent over and the head down, lasting for about twenty minutes each time. They hit him from underneath, in the face; they beat him with sticks, kicked him in the ribs. Once he told them that Americans wouldn’t treat a dog like that and they beat him unmercifully. The fourth time they strung him up they ordered him to get up on a chair, and he wouldn’t. Five of them jumped him at once, and he ended standing on the chair, where they handcuffed his hands behind him and strung him by the thumbs again. He said he kept hoping he would faint but he is too powerful and could not, so he kept striking his head against the door, trying to knock himself out. They beat him for this too. He said he was not conscious of making a sound until he saw a Filipino crowd gathering outside to find out what was going on. Then the Japanese put a gag in his mouth, and he dimly realized he must have been yelling. Twice his shoulder was pulled out of the socket, and they took him down to put it back in. He has a huge black spot on one leg, another on one arm. He says the Filipinos fed him afterward and he ate like a horse for four days, yet he is twelve pounds less than when he left here even after all the food. He sweated so that he stood in a pool of water. What they wanted to know was where the men went, who took them, and what way they went, how we got the news and who got it. Much of this he could not answer—which made it only worse. At last he lost track and doesn’t remember much. He could only give them a vague idea of the destination anyway. After it was all over they told him they had all the information they wanted anyway after torturing Chicay, the meat seller, and two others, one of whom they caught with a script of news from K.P., a guerrilla.

It is as I surmised. They were trying to trace the type and thought it came from in here. They are sure we have an organization ready to rush when news and orders come and that someone in here is at the head of it. There will be no more news under stones or trees or wherever it was. No one knew who got it, perhaps it was the two who escaped. News was just talked around, starting nowhere. Bill was given by far the worst because he was the strongest and stood firm. Now he hated them when they told him they had all the dope anyway and just wanted confirmation. They showed him a sheaf of records gouged from the two Filipinos.

Tomibe [Captain Rokuro Tomibe, then commandant at Camp Holmes] asked Bill to come into the office and tell just what they did to him. He told them all, showing him the wounds like deep burns in his thumbs. Tomibe said, “No, no, they didn’t do that!” in several places. He begged Bill not to tell it around camp, but Bill said he was going to tell the whole story so that no one else would try to escape, and later on it would all be settled up.

Tomibe went into town in the car this morning and brought Gene back alive. He was taken right down to camp hospital, able to walk by himself. At the top of the steps stood little Terry and Kim. Terry shouted “Daddy” and ran to him. Gene patted his little rear softly, saying his name over and over. Gene is bruised and took a tough beating because he really did not know a lot of the answers, but he passed out into unconsciousness and they had to cut him down and take him to the military hospital. Before he left jail, he says, the Filipinos rubbed his thumbs and hands and arms back to life, or he feels he might have been worse off. All their thumbs were badly cut.

Jim was put in with a bunch of Filipinos and not touched the first night. They advised him to tell anything he knew. Next morning they strung him up at once, before asking any questions. His thumb became infected. He speaks of how wonderful the Filipinos are—Dixson in jail for the fourth time, accused of sending money to guerrillas; Jo in on the same charge but let out now. Konrad is in for listening to his radio. There are only two kinds of prisoners, those in on Buy and Sell, and those sending money to guerrillas. Jim says they are marvelous and keep right on going in spite of jail and beatings. Blanche saw a fellow brought into the town hospital so emaciated he couldn’t hold his mouth together, and it was held by a strap under his chin. His stomach curved in until it touched his backbone. He was a horrible sight, barely alive, mumbling half out of his mind, scarcely human. Bunker says he was probably a victim of water cure. The Japanese seem to know where guerrillas are gathered and other things. Can they do anything about it?

Gene stayed [in the hospital] with dysentery. Bill should have gone there too, for too many talked to him and he was keyed up anyway and finally gave out nervously. He couldn’t eat and was nauseated. They gave him drugs to make him sleep. He is lucky to be still sane, but it will be months before he is normal, and he will never forget the horror of it.