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Pronounced "Oh-ree-OH-koo Muh-ROO" The Oryoku Maru Story
(Taken From the Legal Proceedings)


Page 2 of 7

The ship was the Oryoku Maru, a new cabin type vessel which appeared to be designed for luxury travel in the Orient. Its capacity was about 15,000 tons. It was the best Japanese vessel the Americans had seen until that time. The ship carried absolutely no markings of any sort. It was heavily armed fore and aft with 3 inch anti-aircraft guns, dual purpose, and pom-pom guns. The prisoners were about 20 feet below the main deck.

When the prisoners started to embark Mr. WADA, the Japanese interpreter, was supervising the loading. While waiting at the pier somehow the groups got mixed up so that when Commander Portz led his group aboard the ship he had about 700 men in his group and they were placed in the after hold. It took about one and one-half hours to load group #1. Group #2 in the charge of Lt. Colonel Curtis T. Beecher, started loading about 1530 in the forward hold. In this group there were over 600 prisoners. The hold was 60 by 100 feet. There were temporary troop accommodations built about four feet from the floor and extending out 12 feet from the bulkhead, and running around the entire hold area in a square, with no partition, and all wood. The Prisoners went down into this hold via wooden steps from the hatch to the hold. Light and air could only come through the hatch opening, which was about 20 feet by 20 feet. There were no ventilators, no port holes. Group #3 went aboard and were loaded in the hatch amid-ships with approximately 300 men.

In group #2 the conditions in the hold were so crowded that the men, a few minutes after entering the hold began fainting. The Japanese were asked to move some of the men out, the request was refused and they were told that there would be about 200 men put into the forward hold. There wasn't enough air and men were fainting due to the lack of air and intense heat. The Japanese were hurrying men into the hold, in some cases these men were being pushed down the stairs and beaten with rifle butts and shovels. Men were knocked down and off the ladder falling on the men already below. AIHARA, one of the guards is alleged to have been one of the men standing at the hatch entrance beating the prisoners as they entered. All during this time WADA was present during the loading and without a doubt observed the treatment being given the prisoners, although he did nothing to stop it.

At about 1800 hours all the men were loaded. The weather in the Philippines is tropical and extremely hot. In the lower bays when all men were in, they had to assume a crouched position because they couldn't stand upright. No men were permitted in the center under the hatch by order of the Japanese Guards. In the upper bays one could stand or crouch but could not lie down.

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