Mr. Michel's War: From Manila to Mukden: an American Navy Officer's War with the Japanese, 1941-1945

Mr. Michel's War: From Manila to Mukden: an American Navy Officer's War with the Japanese, 1941-1945

Mr. Michel's War: From Manila to Mukden: an American Navy Officer's War with the Japanese, 1941-1945

Mr. Michel's War: From Manila to Mukden: an American Navy Officer's War with the Japanese, 1941-1945

Synopsis

The American victory against the Japanese in the Pacific is the backdrop to this account of one man's part in the overall campaign. Written in 1948 but published for the first time, this is the memoir of a survivor of a Japanese P.O.W. camp.

Excerpt

The Philippine Islands were not the worst place to be in the spring of 1941. As a young naval officer assigned to an old four-piper destroyer of the U.S. Asiatic Fleet, I found Manila interesting and enjoyable (between periods of boredom spent training in the southern islands).

Preparations for the inevitable war with Japan were underway. Disposition of fleet units well to the south of Luzon reflected the realization that there would be inadequate air cover in the event of enemy attack. the bombing of Pearl Harbor came as a surprise because the conventional wisdom expected the Philippines to be the initial target. But hostilities were not long in coming. On 10 December 1941, Cavite Navyyard was destroyed in a massive raid by Japanese bombers that attacked almost completely unopposed.

From there on it was a delaying action for the us Asiatic Fleet -- a retreat. It has been said that a retreat is the most difficult operation to accomplish successfully. It calls for aggressive counter attacks in disadvantaged circumstances.

The old four-pipers made those attacks, surprising a better equipped and organized enemy. They hit the Japanese forces in night actions at Balikpapan and near Bali, and finally in the Java Sea.

For me "going to the well" for a third time was unlucky. My ship, uss Pope (DD225), was sunk on 1 March 1942, (in company with hms Exeter and Encounter). After two and a half days in the (fortunately warm) water of the Java Sea the Pope survivors were picked up by a Japanese destroyer. Thus began a captivity that lasted three and a half years.

I was initially taken to camp in Makassar, Celebes. Six months later I was transferred in a group of 1000 POWs to a camp near Nagasaki . . .

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