P.O.W.- Prisoner of War - Heroes
"...As time passed and as the Japanese began to lose the war, things became very desperate at the Los Baños prison camp. While Herman Beaber's diary does not record that they were tortured, they nearly starved, and many in the camp died from disease and slow starvation..."
Herman Knight Beaber
Deliverance! It Has Come!
World War II Diary: 1942 - 1945
"Herman Knight Beaber was an exalted man with fervent convictions. He touched the lives of many. He is deeply missed by all that knew and loved him.
In late 1941 war broke out in the Philippines with the Japanese. Many endured imprisonment, including some ministers who were interned at the Los Baños Internment camp located about 40 miles south of Manila in the Philippines. They were Willie Jamieson from Chirnside, Scotland; Ernest Stanley from England; Leo Stancliff of Bakersfield, California; Cecil Barrett of New Zealand; and Herman Beaber of Hydesville, California, who kept a diary during their time as prisoners of war (1942-1945).
On January 6,1942 Herman and his fellow ministers were picked up by the Japanese and were taken first to the Rizal Memorial Stadium where they were registered. Then they were bundled back into the car and taken to Santo Tom·s University grounds. They later were released and allowed to continue their church work. They had to give weekly reports to the Japanese detailing their activities and were required to wear POW armband identification. They were confined to their home and restricted from moving about the city, except for essential shopping (food, clothing, drugs, etc.), medical treatment and exercise, limited to their immediate neighborhood. They were however, allowed to have religious services (Sundays only), from January 15, 1942 until they were taken to prison at Los Baños on July 8, 1944, along with all the other American missionaries in the area. "Los Baños was the former University of the Philippines, the Agricultural School at Los Baños was located in a town on the island of Luzon. It had been converted into an internment camp. It was a plot of about 55 or 60 acres with a barbed wire fence around it, for more than 2,000 civilians who had the misfortune of falling into Japanese hands at the beginning of the war."
At Los Baños They we were assigned their barracks (a shelter with outer walls made of bamboo mat - called sawali ). At first the camp was a delightful spot. There were four hundred and fifty: priest, nuns, single men and women missionaries, and a few families with children. They were separate from the others that were in the camp before. They kept busy with all kinds of work such as cutting grass and brush, sanitation squad, barbering, gardening and cooking in the camp kitchen.
As time passed and as the Japanese began to lose the war, things became very desperate at the Los Baños prison camp. While Herman Beaber's diary does not record that they were tortured, they nearly starved, and many in the camp died from disease and slow starvation. Herman wrote in his diary... "Naturally there is theft of food in camp. It is considered a major crime. We see people (respectable people) looking into garbage cans for banana skins, etc. (If you want a real delicacy... Fry some banana skins in rancid coconut oil.) People going to points in camp several blocks away will have to sit down to rest. Fights occur in the food lines. Some have eaten bugs and beetles - so they say."
Herman left from the United States for the Philippines in 1940 weighing 202 lbs at 6'3" and he weighed 140 lbs when he was finally rescued on February 23, 1945. On that day American soldiers freed over 2000 prisoners at Los Baños in a daring guerrilla and paratrooper rescue, just one day before they were all to be executed by the Japanese. Army Chief of Staff General Colin Powell (now Secretary of State) proclaimed- "I doubt that any airborne unit in the world will ever be able to rival the Los Baños prison raid. It is the textbook airborne operation for all ages and all armies."
Herman Beaber wrote..."Let me say that you who have never been deprived of seeing Old Glory and all she stands for, for three long years, cannot understand what that sight would mean. We feel heavily indebted to our rescuers. ('No greater love has a man, than to lay down his life for another.') We are mighty proud to be citizens of a great country like the United States. On the other hand, we are grateful to God for His care and protection, and now that He has spared our lives... we feel more inclined than ever to give Him our best."
Deliverance! It Has Come!
In The Philippines, 1942 - 1945, A Diary
by Herman Knight Beaber & John S. Beaber
Published by Global Publishing Bureau Limited
Herman Beaber wrote in his diary (February 23,1945): "...at 7:00 a.m. sharp, we heard and saw nine large transport planes flying low, and passing close to the camp; perhaps one mile to the east. Even as we all watched, we saw doors open and paratroopers came tumbling out. OH WHAT A SIGHT! With a tropical sunrise for a background, we saw about 150 parachutes open one after another and settle slowly earthward out of our sight behind the distant trees. We knew help had come but had little time to contemplate this good, even before rifle fire commenced to the west of our camp. It was guerrillas with American Officers who had been waiting there for hours...Bullets whizzed and buzzed through the camp. I was hugging the floor, looking out under the large crack beneath the door at the
Filipinos and Americans sneaking into the camp, their rifles ready. The guerrillas...defeated the Japs in quick order. It was over in less than an hour. All the Japanese guards were killed, I believe. Planes hovered overhead. As the firing died down a bit, we heard the roar of motors...then we saw the large amphibious tractors (Amtracs)...that had come across the water, down the lake, for the express purpose of rescuing us." Deliverance! It Has Come!
© 2001 John S. Beaber
Check out the following web site by John S. Beaber which goes into much more detail regarding the remarkable subject of this entry into World War II Stories -- In Their Own Words web site.
The story as told in the pages of the diary of Herman Knight Beaber is available in book format. Additionally, there are many photographs that add to this remarkable tale of survival -- and faith.
Deliverance! It Has Come! World War II Diary: 1942 - 1945
Story originally submitted on: 6 November 2001
We at the World War II Stories -- In Their Own Words wish to extend a heartfealt "Thank You" to, John S. Beaber, the son of Herman Knight Beaber for his generously allowing us to reprint a portion of the material used at his website which is devoted to the memory of his late Father. The world today is a much better place due to P. O. W. Hereo's such as this remarkable man: Herman Knight Beaber.
September 5, 2002.
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