39th Bomb Group (VH)

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Robert E. Abbott - 19th Bomb Group
Carmichaell, CA

Robert E. Abbott Carmichaell, CA -"I was a S/Sgt assigned to the 38th Reconnaissance Squadron, 19th Bomb Group en route to the Philippine Islands with a cargo of A. C. materiel on January 1., 1942 (less than a month after Pearl Harbor). We were captured from lifeboats by the Jap Navy Commerce Raiders, Airoku Maru and Hokoku Maru in the Tuamoto Archipelago. We were POWs in camps near Shanghai, China, and in Kawasaki and Odate, Japan and were liberated by the U. S. Navy September 12, 1945 (after 3 years 9 months of confinement).

All of the information you wrote about was denied to the American POWs in prison camps in China and Japan by the Japanese captors. In April 1945, I was in a group of POWs in Kawasaki, Japan POW Camp #5, who were transferred by train to the established camp north of Odate, Japan and inland from Sendai, Japan. Kawasakj POW Camp #5 adjoined Nippon Kokan Kaibushiki Kaisha Steel Complex where the POWs were worked daily! B-29 aircraft flew over our POW camp in August and September 1945, and dropped food, clothing, and medical Supplies to our camp - also U. S. Navy aircraft dropped supplies. On the train trip from Kawasaki to Tokyo, the POWs could peek from behind the train window curtains and see that Tokyo was bombed into rubble as far as they could see. It would take a long book to detail the mistreatment of allied POWs by their Japanese captors in World War II. POWs of the camp near Odate were entrained to the seaport at Sendai, Japan and embarked on the U. S. Navy Hospital Ship, "Rescue", on September 12, 1945 for the return trip to San Francisco, California, and Letterman Army General Hospital.

I served thirty-one (31) years on active duty and retired in the grade of Master Sergeant, August 1. 1965, from the 320th Bomb Wing (B-52s) at Mather AFB, California, which was your Pacific Theater overseas embarkation point for B-29s in 1944 and 1945."

Source: "History of the 39th Bomb Group"