U.S. Navy Memorial Foundation Collection: Cecil J. Peart Papers

Manuscript Collection #677-024
Peart, Cecil J. (Cecil Jesse)
Physical description
0.155 Cubic Feet, 1 item , transcribed diary
Preferred Citation
U.S. Navy Memorial Foundation Collection: Cecil J. Peart Papers (#677-024), East Carolina Manuscript Collection, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA.
ECU Manuscript Collection
No restrictions

Peart's Journal : Prepared from notes kept on a prisoner of War odyssey from Bilibid Prison, Manila, P.I., to Manchukuo, via the prison ship S.S. Oryoku Maru (undated)

Biographical/historical information

Cecil Jesse Peart (b. 1914) served as a Navy medical corpsman attached to the 4th Marine Regiment in the Philippines Islands (1939-1942). Peart was captured at Bataan (April 9, 1942) and documented some of his experiences (December 1944-June 1945) as a prisoner of war. Peart documents, in extreme detail, his daily life and treatment as a prisoner of war at various Japanese camps and hotens in Japan and Manchuria.

Scope and arrangement

The collection consists of a typescript copy of Peart's journal that spans his departure (December 13, 1944) from Bilibid Prison outside of Manila bound for Japan until near the end of the war (June 1945). The narrative begins with a description of the march of 1,619 American prisoners of war from Bilibid to Manila's harbor and their boarding onto the ship SS ORYOKU MARU. It describes in great detail the harrowing one-and-one-half-month journey to the prisoner-of-war camp in Japan. Also noted were Japanese civilian passengers embarking; sunken Japanese ships in the harbor; attacks on ORYOKU MARU by U.S. aircraft, resulting in deaths of some American prisoners (December 13 and 14, 1944); and having to abandon the ship in Subic Bay (December 14-15, 1944); confinement with little shelter, food, or water (December 16-24, 1944); transport on railroad boxcars to San Fernando La Union (Dec. 25, 1944) and transfer to a Japanese freighter (Dec. 27, 1944) to Takao, Formosa (December 31, 1944). Also noted are his transfer by tug and barge to another ship (Jan. 6, 1945) and an air raid by United States carrier planes. Mention is made of the lack of medical supplies (Jan. 10, 1945); the removal of bodies from the ship for cremation; primitive sanitary conditions on ship; the poor and weakened condition of the prisoners, resulting in a death rate of thirty-five to forty prisoners per day; and the final arrival in the Japanese port of Moji (January 31, 1945). Peart further reports on prisoners being berthed in a old auditorium and being transferred to a prison camp outside of town; food provided, including lugao and cabbage soup with meat stock (Jan. 31, 1945); loss of weight from poor diet and the presence of bed lice. He comments on the unfair treatment by senior officers in their division of food rations (Feb. 13, 1945); various illnesses of prisoners and treatment in isolation (Mar. 11, 1945); the sharing of a Red Cross package (Mar. 14, 1945); and entries concerning Japanese propaganda relating to their supposed bombing of Washington, DC, Chicago, and New York (Mar. 14, 1945).

Peart's transfer to Fukuoka Prisoner of War Camp #22 and the arrival of Australian and Dutch prisoners (Mar. 15, 1945), the receipt of winter clothing (Mar. 17, 1945), and the invasion of Luzon and fighting in Manila between Japanese and Americans (Mar. 23, 1945) are further detailed. He then reports on his departure from Camp #22 (April 25, 1945) and his arrival at Pusan, Korea, where he was offloaded to a passenger coach train (April 27, 1945). Other comments concern Prisoner of War Camp Hoten #14 in Manchoukuo, Manchuria (April 29, 1945) and being reunited with members of the 4th Marine Regiment (April 30-May 3, 1945).

Peart recopied his diary in the last weeks of his imprisonment (July-August 1945) in order to preserve the account from many separate scraps of paper, concluding with a note about an American team parachuting into the camp August 14, 1945, to provide relief until the Russians liberated the camp August 17, 1945. He departed from Manchuria on September 11, 1945, for San Francisco via Darien, Okinawa, and Guam, and returned to the port from which he had departed on July 19, 1939, six years and three months to the day earlier. To the beginning of the diary he added an incomplete list of deaths (recorded in the diary), giving name, rank, death date, and page number.

Administrative information
Custodial History

September 13, 1995, 1 volume; "Peart's Journal: Prepared from notes kept on a Prisoner of War Odyssey from Bilibid Prison, Manila, PI, to Manchukuo, via the Prison Ship SS ORYOKU MARU." Gift of the U.S. Navy Memorial Foundation.

Source of acquisition

Gift of U.S. Navy Memorial Foundation

Processing information

Encoded by Apex Data Services

Copyright notice

Literary rights to specific documents are retained by the authors or their descendants in accordance with U.S. copyright law.

Key terms
Personal Names
Peart, Cecil J. (Cecil Jesse)
Corporate Names
Bilibid Prison (Manila, Philippines)
Oryoku Maru (Prison ship)
United States. Navy--Military life
Prisoner-of-war camps--Japan
Prisoners of war--Health and hygiene
Prisoners of war--Japan
Prisoners of war--United States
World War, 1939-1945--Personal narratives, American