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Reprieve From Hell

Reprieve From Hell

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Reprieve From Hell

258 pagine
2 ore
Nov 6, 2015


In his book “Reprieve from Hell,” former M/Sgt. Sam Moody has recorded in faithful detail the harrowing account of his experiences as a Prisoner of War of the Japanese Government from the surrender of Bataan until the Japanese surrender in 1945. We can only marvel at the ability of our men to adjust to the desperate, deplorable, and inhuman treatment and conditions inflicted on them by an unreasoning, vicious enemy. An enemy that scorned and refused to accept the Geneva Conventions for treatment of POWs. It brings tears to realize the dreadful personal human price so many of our men paid as Prisoners of War of the Imperial Japanese Government.—William G. Hipps, Brigadier General USAF (Ret.)
Nov 6, 2015

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Reprieve From Hell - Master Sergeant Samuel B. Moody

This edition is published by PICKLE PARTNERS PUBLISHING—

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Text originally published in 1961 under the same title.

© Pickle Partners Publishing 2015, all rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted by any means, electrical, mechanical or otherwise without the written permission of the copyright holder.

Publisher’s Note

Although in most cases we have retained the Author’s original spelling and grammar to authentically reproduce the work of the Author and the original intent of such material, some additional notes and clarifications have been added for the modern reader’s benefit.

We have also made every effort to include all maps and illustrations of the original edition the limitations of formatting do not allow of including larger maps, we will upload as many of these maps as possible.


























11. POW IN JAPAN 110


13. HOME 127








The Gold Star Mothers of Bataan and Corregidor

who gave their begotten sons

that we may live


The delay in the Japanese Campaign pauses, secretly plotted to quickly secure all of Southeast Asia, caused by the Phil-American Forces holding action in the Philippine Islands during Dec. 1941 to May 1942 period, was of great strategic importance to the United States and the free world.

The gallant American and Filipino servicemen who defended Bataan Peninsula and Corregidor with great tenacity and determination against overwhelming odds caused the fateful delay in the Japanese places. The Japanese Imperial Forces lost not only critical time but thousands of men and great quantities of ammunition and war material stockpiled for use in their redevelopment campaign plans.

The importance of the brutal Philippine battle in blunting the Japanese thrust and in providing the United States the all-important additional time to build and train fighting forces and to produce the critical war material is many times overlooked by our historians.

The American and Filipino servicemen captured after the surrender of the Philippine Islands paid a terrible price for this important strategic time gain.

Former M/Sgt. Sam Moody was one of my recruits in Savannah, Ga. in 1940. He was and is a resilient, determined man. He was a good airman and fought with distinction as an infantryman in the fearful struggle for Bataan Peninsula. He was a hero on the infamous Death March. He had the will to live and the strength and courage to foil his captors while he was a POW.

He has, in his book Reprieve from Hell, recorded for us in faithful detail the harrowing account of his experiences as a Prisoner of War of the Japanese Government from the surrender of Bataan until the Japanese surrender in 1945. We can only marvel at the ability of our men to adjust to the desperate, deplorable, and inhuman treatment and conditions inflicted on them by an unreasoning, vicious enemy. An enemy that scorned and refused to accept the Geneva Conventions for treatment of POWs. It brings tears to realize the dreadful personal human price so many of our men paid as Prisoners of War of the Imperial Japanese Government.

I recommend this book to every patriotic American, not only to see the folly of war, but to realize the consequences of national unpreparedness.

William G. Hipps

Brigadier General USAF (Ret.)


COURAGE IS A quality God has given fit to dispense with utmost care. He limits it to His special favorites. He knows they will reward Him well, using the power with dignity, strength and distinction. The men of Bataan and Corregidor were His chosen favorites. They walked through unbearable Hell and labored on under conditions history had never before recorded. When they were supposed to be dead, these men of honor rose again to battle a cruel enemy with this intangible weapon.

Master Sergeant Samuel B. Moody was one of these men of courage who lived through the horrors of war, the heartache of prison and the excess tortures of punishment.

The enemy could sap the strength and the breath from his body. They could never sap the fighting spirit.

It was an honor to have Sergeant Moody and his comrades in arms serve under my command in the Philippines during the early months of World War II.

When the history of the Second World War is fully written, Americans will thrill to the story of the Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor.

It is the deeds of Sergeant Moody and his fighting compatriots that stand as the proven lessons of democracy.

—Major General E. P. King, JR. (Ret.)

These are American soldiers, sailors, and marines captured on Bataan and Corregidor, on the day of Liberation in Bilibid prison in Manila.


JAPAN sat in the distance with rays of orange colored sun bouncing off her rolling sides. Across Tokyo Bay, blue and soft in the climbing sunlight, Mount Fuji rose above the earth, stretching endlessly but hopelessly for the skies. Snow on the peak glittered chalky-white, thinning down the mountain in uneven patches.

The Army transport floated almost without aim, but the shoreline inched ever closer. Only the screeching sound of a tug or the splashing noise of a fishing boat creased the even sound of the morning. As the boat edged closer, the waters were dotted with small craft upsetting the pattern of rolling waves coming from the yawning transport.

A soft breeze slid across the front of the ship. The air had a sweet smell that seemed a mistaken part of the October morning. It was easy to breathe and the purity of the fresh morning invited huge gulps of air.

Soldiers pressed against the rails of the transport for a first glimpse of the Orient. The great mountain, which lorded above the countryside surrounding it, was the object of the pointed fingers of many GI’s.

With sun-faded fatigue shirts, caps perched on the backs of their heads, and boots that had suffered from the rigors of a 16 day ocean crossing, the men seemed unfit for their roles.

It was October, 1946.

The U.S.S. General C. G. Morton carried 1800 men to serve in Japan as a replacement outfit for the first occupation troops, leaving Japan after conquering the Island Empire.

I leaned against the iron rail, shading my eyes in the bright morning light, trying to catch a familiar scene. It was my second look at Japan but I couldn’t grasp anything I had seen before. I stole a glance on either side of me.

A pink cheeked youngster, looking barely in his middle teens, was seriously engaged in lining up the proper reading on his light meter. He moved it first this way, then the other. Now he adjusted his camera. Then the meter. Then the camera. Finally he was ready. With utter precision, he held the camera firm against his eye, lining his picture up with perfection. He clicked the shutter. A twinkle came to his eye and a smile of imam innocence crossed his lips. He rolled the handle to the next exposure, placed the camera back in the case which hung from his side and snapped the carrier closed.

I looked out towards the beckoning shoreline. I bit hard on my lower lip, wondering what the days ahead had saved for me. My eyes caught the excitement of the men on the ship. My uniform was the same. It was hard to pick me out of the crowd. But my mission was different.

My task was to tell a story.

After 1244 days as a prisoner of the Japanese, I had come to Japan to testify against my tormentors.

My orders read, S/Sgt. Samuel B. Moody, RA 11024156, report on 90 days TDY to Tokyo, Japan for the purpose of testifying at the International War Crimes Tribunal.

I had been picked to carry the ball for the veterans of Manila, and the victims of the Death March. My job was to send men to the gallows. They were men who had ordered suffering and death. They were men who commanded troops to torture and rape and murder. They were men who had beaten and flogged, kicked and punched. They were men who killed and punished others for the simple crime of wishing to stay alive.

My job was to relate truths about Japanese officers. And these were truths that would forever prevent these animals from claiming they were part of the nobility of man.

Got a match, pal?

I turned to see a long, bony faced soldier, with an easy smile and a too large fatigue cap resting over his ears.

Yeh, here you go.

Thanks. Carson’s my name. Spent the war in Europe. Sure looking forward to seeing the Nips. How about you?

Moody. I’ve been here before.

No foolin’. How come you’re back on a tour so soon?

Special TDY. You know the Army, you go where they send you.

Yeh, I was all set to spend some time in Panama like the old days. But I get Japan orders instead. I don’t know. Might be a good deal. Hope the Nips don’t try to murder us every time we walk down a back alley. I hear they’re still pretty hostile.

That’s what I hear, too.

A slight sneer came to my lips as I looked back towards the shore. Land was creeping closer to us. I was thinking of my return to Japan. Only 13 months before I had been freed from a prison camp and sent home. I had seen all I wanted of Japan. Now, back again. But this time I was top dog. It made me feel warm inside as I thought of how I would pour out my heart on the stand. They might even give me the honor of hanging a few of them. I closed my eyes for a second. A childhood thought ran through my mind....Two wrongs don’t make a right.

Hey, Moody, catch the band on the dock.

From land, the music of the band floated across to us as the notes of the Caisson Song rang in my ears.

Over hill, over dale, we have hit the dusty trail...

I am an air corps man, I’m insulted. Wish they would play the Air Corps Song!

They’ll get around to you next. Probably hear Anchors Aweigh and Montezuma before we land. We got swabees and girenes on this float.

Nudged by three small tugs, the large transport moved closer into the dock. Suddenly a loud blare from the ship speaker. Now hear this....Now hear this.

Every man to his muster station. Every man report to his muster station."

We had practiced this many times and each man walked to an assigned spot on the ship, dragging an overloaded duffle bag behind. Radios, guitars, small hand bags, and packages of every kind were carried along.

Hey what’s your number? a kid behind me asked.

I’m 307, I said.

Well, I’ll be damned; I’m in the right place after all.

The men were supposed to be in line behind one another but they stood in clustered little groups waiting for a signal, some signal that we were beginning to move off the ship. None came. Finally the boys began to sit on the duffle bags. The cards came out and games began all along the deck of the ship.

I watched a group near me go at it.

Hey, want to join in a red dog game, sarge?

No, I’ll just watch.

All I was interested in was getting off the ship. I knew a whistle would blow any minute.

Line up in roster order number, the compartment officer yelled. We’ll be moving right off.

After another three quarters of an hour and more cussing and the start of another red dog game, the line did begin to creep toward the gangplank.

By this time, the Japanese workmen had taken over the ship. The little men were scampering up the stack of the boat, painting and chipping. Others were scrubbing the decks. I looked over the rail and a Crew of Japanese painters was busy cleaning the outside of the ship.

Haiyako, I shouted.

The Japanese painters looked up and smiled at me.

They seemed a little surprised that I could tell them to hurry up in their own language.

My GI traveling companions looked at me in more surprise.

The line started to move. Now I could see the first men landing on the ground below. The line moved slowly. Every couple of steps it would halt. More cussing. Then it would start. The boys would smile.

I walked down the gangplank.

Near the bottom, two officers had charts in their hands, and, as 1 passed, I gave my name and serial number.

The sun was warm and felt good. Japan looked different. I suddenly realized I was happy to be there. I would speak for O. C. Jones and Walter Gidano and Ed Baptiste. I would speak for all the guys who would never get the chance. I was anxious to have my day in court.

God had saved me just for this moment.

Troops lined up every which way at the street below after lugging heavy duffle bags off the ship. Some of the bags sagged in the middle as the soldiers struggled down the side of the ship. A few of the duffles held firm on the backs of the GI’s. These belonged to the veterans.

A large sign welcomed the Americans to Yokohama. A spotless crew, wearing Marine greens, with snow white belts, and musical instruments glistening in the morning sun, blared the tapping tunes of military marches.

I placed my bag down and sat on it. We were in for a long wait. The ship seemed larger from the ground. Japanese workers were everywhere, climbing high on the masts, sprawling along the sides and appearing in endless motion on the ship deck.

Barely minutes had passed and the line started to move. I still sat. It was just closing ranks.

To my utter surprise, a whistle blew. This time we were moving for real. In the distance, across an old track, sat a line of railroad cars. I could see the soldiers lugging their duffle bags, often using their legs to get lift, above the step of the railroad car.

I’ll be damned, we’re moving fast, a kid standing behind me said.

New Army, post-war efficiency, I said.

The loading process was smooth and in a matter of minutes I was on the train. The duffle bags were dumped in the rear and I sat against a window seat watching soldiers climbing into the other cars.

A Japanese conductor hollered something out the window to the conductor in the train behind him.


In Japanese it meant okay.

I knew it was true this time.

I had come to repay a debt. I wasn’t unhappy about being back in Japan. I was rather glad. This was a new game. I stood a good chance of winning. The rules had changed.

We unloaded at the casual barracks at Camp Atami and were ordered to throw our gear on a bed and hustle downstairs for a muster.

I was in no mood for a muster. I had been told in the States I was on special orders and would be treated with care.

A tall, good looking master sergeant, with a whistle around his neck and a large brown note book in his hand, was shouting orders at no one in particular at the entrance to the large room of the barracks.

He looked official. I walked up to him.

Hey, sarge I’m on special orders and I don’t have to go through this routine. Where am I supposed to report?

Look, fellow, I got nothing to do with that. Personnel will get you straightened out in the morning. Just fall in outside and don’t bother me.

Why don’t you just take a look at the orders and see where I’m supposed to go?

I reached in to the breast pocket of my jacket, grabbing out a set of orders.

Look, goddamit, I’ve got 3000 men to get fed and I don’t give a damn if you’re General MacArthur. Now let’s get downstairs.

I bit my lip, felt like punching him in the pit of the stomach, but walked down the stairs, mumbling to myself.

Everybody’s got special orders, these damn days, he said.

I turned back to see him snickering at a small corporal standing close by his side.

In the closest thing to a disorganized mob, hundreds of men, in various degrees of uniform, milled in little bunches outside of the large barracks buildings.

In the center of the field, a large platform with three microphone outlets, was filled with about half a dozen men, all checking lists of every size and description.

I stood by myself in a corner off to the left of the platform, wishing I had stayed in the States, wishing I had never been in the Army, wishing I was home, wishing I was driving a truck, wishing I could go upstairs and punch the sergeant in his mouth. A small smile came to my lips. The Army is ridiculous, silly, idiotic, all nonsense, but tomorrow I’ll be in Tokyo. I’ll be in the War Ministry Building. I’ll be exactly where I’m supposed to be. I know. I can’t figure how it will work out. It always docs, I thought, it always does. Never fails.

A blasting whistle cc hoed through the crowd.

Some of the men stopped talking. Others didn’t hear it and kept right on. Another rang clear.

A corporal in beat-up fatigues and an old cap stepped forward to address the microphone.

"We want to give you guys some chow so give me a little cooperation and we’ll all get out of here. When you hear your last name, sound off with

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