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We all have become so adept at appearing busy at work when we actually were not that the Jap guards never realize we have gone into the smoking pipe making business. We turn out wonderful pipes thanks to stolen Japanese materials. Most are sold or given away.  I keep one of my pipes, planning to have it with me when I get home. 

The Hell Ships  -- Oct. 5, 1942  -- Day 180 
The prisoners had endured months of hardships and deprivation in the POW camps and now they were ordered to prepare for a hazardous sea voyage.  On October 5,  1942,  Russ and hundreds of other prisoners were taken from Cabanatuan to be loaded on prison ships.  The boat Russ left on was the Tottori Maru.  The name Maru is the equivalent to the S.S. prefix of American ships. 

As usual the Japanese were disorganized. Numbers of prisoners were again  miscalculated and a lack of adequate sanitation facilities made the situation unbearable. 

Map of Ship JourneyThey reached the Takoa Harbor on the south shore of Formosa, now  Taiwan.  Everyone was unloaded and washed down with fire hoses, the only cleaning that occurred during the month long voyage. Then the ships left Formosa,  going across the East China sea,  heading north. 

After being at sea for some time they were again attacked, this time by Dutch submarines. 

SubAttackDuring the battle,  the men became an uncontrollable mob, screaming and pounding against the sides of the ship.  Even an animal can't be this confined for this long without going mad. 

Russ said  he and his friend Diesinger,  who was later to die in Manchuria, got up on their bunk, out of the way of the shoving, running, screaming men and opened a can of food they had been saving and began to eat.  They figured that if they went  into  the sea they would need strength to try to survive. 

As they sat there eating, someone shouted, "The ship's going to be blown up.  Why  are you just sitting there?" Russ calmly replied,  "Tell me which end will be hit by the torpedo and  I'll be on the other." 

Luckily, their ship did not get hit although others did. Out of about eleven ships that left the Philippine islands over the months, only five made it through all the bombings. Thousands of POWs died. 

After the men finally calmed down, the Japanese set up small sick bays on the fore deck to care for the worst cases. 

shipBut conditions continued to deteriorate.  Men went insane or committed suicide.  Some even cut their buddy's wrists to drink the blood for lack of water.  There seemed to be no end to their suffering. 

Russ' boat was at sea for 33 days. In November,  they landed at Pusan Harbor at the head of the Naktong river basin in Korea. 

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