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Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr., oral history interview, April 6, 1976 and October 6, 1976

Date: Apr. 06 1976 - Oct. 06 1976 | Identifier: OH0032
Colonel Lilly served with the American Expeditionary Forces in Europe during World War I. Subsequently he was assigned to various stateside posts and to the Panama Canal Zone before being sent to the Philippines in 1940. Colonel Lilly was involved in engagements with the Japanese on Luzon and was captured there when U.S. forces surrendered in 1942. He survived the Bataan death march. Between 1942 and 1945 he was a P.O.W. held in the Philippines, Formosa, Korea, and Manchuria. After the war he served in several stateside commands and in Paris before retiring in 1953. Much of this interview concerns the 1942 to 1945 period. Interviewer: Donald R. Lennon. more...



ORAL HISTORY INTERVIEW
COLONEL EDMUND JONES LILLY, JR. (USA) RET.
APRIL 6, 1976
Interview Part 1

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

I was born in Fayetteville in l894. I went to the University of North Carolina after graduating from a little military school here in Fayetteville called Donaldson Military School, which began as a military school about l908. I graduated in l9ll, and went to the university in the fall of l9ll and graduated in l9l5. From there, I taught school for two years and that brought me up to l9l7. I was in Asheville, North Carolina, at the time. I entered Officers Training School (OTS) at Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia, in l9l7. I was commissioned in August of l9l7 as a second lieutenant, Field Artillery Reserves. I joined the 22nd Cavalry and served with them until they were reorganized as Field Artillery. I served in the Field Artillery until the fall of l9l7. Then, I began to hear about these "suicide squads," and, like any foolish and impulsive youngster, it appealed to me; so I transferred to the infantry and joined the Machine Gun Battalion which is what the "suicide squadrons" were.

I went to Europe with the 6th Division of the American Expeditionary Forces in July of l9l8. I served over there until the Armistice. I had just about a year of duty overthere when I returned to the States. I was trying to decide whether I wanted to stay in the service or not. By that time, I had secured what they called a provisional commission, which meant that I was on probation for two years. After the end of the second year, my probation was confirmed and I was made a permanent officer.

I remained in the service for a total of thirty-six years. After a short service at Camp Grant,



Illinois, after we came back from overseas, I went to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on organized reserve duty. I joined the l0lst Division and had something to do with designing the shoulder patch for what they now call the "Screaming Eagles." I was very much surprised within the last year when I was invited to go out to Fort Bragg and join the headquarters of the l0lst Division, which was in the field at the time. They presented me with a plaque showing the "Screaming Eagle" shoulder patch. It has a little brass notation on it to the effect that I was the designer of the original shoulder patch. I was very surprised and pleased.

Well, I met my wife in Milwaukee, married her in Cleveland, and brought her back to Milwaukee, where our first baby was born. From Milwaukee, I went to Benning. I joined the company officer's course in Benning. One of my classmates at Benning was an officer by the name of Joe Collins. He turned out to be a lieutenant general in World War II; they called him "Lightning Joe Collins." He was a youngster, a West Point graduate, and, of course, he had success written all over him at the time.

After Benning, we went to Panama and spent two years in the Canal Zone with the l4th Infantry at Fort William D. Davis. I commanded a machine gun company at the time. It seems that word of my experience in World War I with machine guns followed me around, so I never had command of a rifle company; I always had command of a machine gun company. We had our usual experiences there for about two years with jungle maneuvers and various alerts. One of our duties, of course, was protecting the Panama Canal. We were down there for two years and then came back to the States.

I went back to organized reserve duty first in Jackson, Michigan; and after about a year, we were moved to Detroit, Michigan. From Detroit, Michigan, I was ordered to the



2nd Infantry at Fort Wayne, which was still at Detroit. I was there until l935, which was about a year. Then I was ordered to ROTC duty in Atlanta at Georgia Tech, where I stayed for about five years. Incidently, one of the graduates of Georgia Tech became a very famous Marine Corps general. I had something to do with getting him into the Marine Corps. I was very proud of that of course. His name was Raymond Davis, and he was awarded the Medal of Honor at Choshin Reservoir in Korea. Oh, I forget what the year was, but I know it was during the tenure of President Truman, because he was the one who placed the ribbon around General Davis's neck. I believe Davis was a colonel at the time. He later became a general.

After my duty at Georgia Tech terminated in l940, I was ordered to the Philippines. I had always wanted to go to the Philippines, but if I had it to do over again, I don't think I would have gone at that particular time. We anticipated that there were some strained relations with Japan at the time, but we didn't know exactly what was going to happen.

Anyway, we did go to the Philippines. We sailed from Charleston, went through the canal, and then on to Fort Mason in California, where we stayed for a few days. We boarded another transport, the U.S.A.T. GRANT, and sailed on the eighth of January, l94l. We arrived in the Philippines in February l94l. I was assigned to the 57th Infantry, Philippine Scouts, however, I didn't immediately do any duty with that regiment. I was very disappointed, because what I wanted to do was to serve with the troops; however, I was ordered to do duty at Fort McKinley as the officer in charge of both the American and Filipino schools.

One evening I was at a party with General Wainwright. He greeted me very cordially and said I looked more like a soldier than a school teacher. So, I asked him if I



could come to see him the next day in his office. He said I could.

I called on him and asked him if he could relieve me of my duties as the school's officer and allow me to revert back to my assignment with the 57th Infantry. He said he'd think it over. In a very few days, it turned out just as I hoped it would; I was ordered back to the 57th Infantry. I served as the battalion commander, which was also the position I held at the time of Pearl Harbor, 7 December l94l. It was actually the eighth of December out there, due to the existence of the international date line. I was the executive officer of the regiment at that time, due to the incapacitation of the current regimental commander. Later on I inherited the regiment and became the regimental commander until 9 April l942, when the Luzon force surrendered. Then, I became a prisoner of war (POW) and took part in what is called the Death March. I was a prisoner in such places as the Philippines, Formosa, Japan, Korea, and Manchuria, where I was until the end of the war, August l945.

Donald R. Lennon:

When did you retire beyond the end of the war?

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

After the end of the war I spent six months in the hospital at Fuquay. Then, I was ordered to Fort McClellan, Alabama, where I was the post supply officer for about a year. Actually, the term was director of supply. When Fort McClellan was closed, I was ordered to Fort Jackson, South Carolina, but I got my orders changed and went to Fort Bragg, North Carolina. I was out here about three months, after which I was ordered to Paris, France, as the inspector general of the American Graves Registration Plan. I was there from September of l947 until early in l950. My boy was graduating from West Point in l950, so I had my tour of duty curtailed just enough so that I could get back and attend his graduation.



The Secretary of the Army at the time was a man by the name of Kenneth Royall, from Goldsboro, with whom I had roomed for one semester at the University of North Carolina, during our undergraduate days. He was always very friendly to me. I'm not sure that he ever did me any favors, but he was very nice to me. Anyway, it was through him that I had my tour of duty in Europe curtailed by a month or so. Maybe you'd call that a favor, but he was the one to do it, and he did it.

We came back and attended the graduation of our son. Then, I was ordered to Fort Sam Houston in Texas. I had been assigned to the Inspector General's Corps. I retained my assignment and was assigned to the inspector general's section of Headquarters, 4th Army, in Fort Sam Houston, San Antonia, Texas. I remained there until my retirement in l953.

In l953, I came to Fayetteville and I've been here ever since.

Donald R. Lennon:

You came home.

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

I came home. I was born here.

Donald R. Lennon:

Of course, we want to look primarily at the World WarII period and the South Pacific, but before we do, let's look back to the earlier era when you were a young officer fresh out of OTS. When you were at Fort Oglethorpe, did you know Dr. Laughinghouse?

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

No, I didn't. I knew a Colonel Laughinghouse in the Philippines, but I'm pretty sure it was not the same person. There was a colonel there from the Air Force.

Donald R. Lennon:

This chap was a medical doctor.

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

No, I didn't know him at all.

Donald R. Lennon:

When you mentioned that you were at Fort Oglethorpe, I just happened to remember that Dr. Laughinghouse served at Fort Oglethorpe during World War I.

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

Oh, is that right? Well, let's see, there were a lot of interesting people there.



Actually, our camp was not in Fort Oglethorpe; it was in a larger area known as Chickamauga Park. There had been a lot of Civil War action there, so there were a lot of monuments and dummy cannons around as mementos of the Civil War. The llth Cavalry was assigned to Fort Oglethorpe. This was during the day of expansion, and the llth Cavalry furnished the cadres for two cavalry regiments--the 22nd and the 23rd. They were later combined to form the 82nd Field Artillery. I was with the 22nd Cavalry while it was being combined with the 23rdCavalry and while the 82nd Field Artillery was being formed. I look back on that as being a very interesting time, because it was one of the last times that there was ever such a thing as a horse-drawn field artillery.

Donald R. Lennon:

You began to see that transition, did you not?

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

That's right. We saw that. As a matter of fact, I wasn't looking too far ahead at the time. I was thinking that maybe they'd always use horses. I remember that although I was fascinated with being mounted and all that sort of thing, I was even more fascinated with the excitement of the Machine Gun Battalion. They began to organize the Machine Gun Battalion and began to call them the "suicide squads." I said, "Well, that's for me. I've got to get in one of those." I wasn't the only one. A good many of us were attracted to the Machine Gun Battalion.

Donald R. Lennon:

How effective was the machine gun at that time?

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

I'd say it was quite effective. We used them in the trench warfare in the Vosges Mountains and found them very effective.

Donald R. Lennon:

Why did they call them the suicide squads?

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

Well, because there were so many casualties. The United States Army's machine gun organization had not been subjected to fire in Europe at that time. All we had to go on



was the experience that the French had had. They found that their machine gun outfits suffered much higher casualties than the rifle bearers. I don't know whether they were the ones that called them suicide squads or if some newspaper reporter or some foreign correspondent just picked up the term. At that time, it sounded very dangerous, very exciting!

We were very foolish at the time. Just like most young people are. We didn't think too much about what was going to happen to us. First of all, we wanted to get to France and then when we got to France, we wanted to get into action. Once we got into action, we weren't so glad, but that was the general idea. Looking back on it now, it almost seems a bit silly, but I dare say that we needed to have that kind of attitude. If everybody had been willing to have sat back and let things come to them, we wouldn't have had an aggressive military force. We went after these things.

Donald R. Lennon:

Do you feel that World War I was the last "glamorous war?"

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

I suppose so, because there were times in France during World War I when we were beyond the range of artillery and small arms, and they had very little bombing in those days. We were in a lot of safe areas; we felt safe. There were many places in France during World War I where one was in reasonable safety. Not so in World War II. There was no such place in World War II. You were vulnerable wherever you happened to be. I can remember several incidents in the Philippines during World War II when I saw Japanese bombers overhead. We were just as vulnerable to them as everybody else.

I remember one time we were leaving Fort McKinley by commandeered civilian transportation--buses. There were two bus companies in the Philippines, the PAM BUSCO and the PAM TRANCO. These buses were just as red as they could be and could be seen



for miles and miles. Just as we were leaving,I saw a flight of Japanese planes go by, not directly overhead, but at a sort of angle. All they would have had to have done, if they'd been looking for targets of opportunity, would have been to just glance our way. They could have swerved over and just wiped us out. But they didn't do it.

There were lots of other interesting phases to that movement. One of them, of course, was that those buses used different types of fuel. Some of them used alcohol; some of them used diesel fuel; and, of course, some of them used gasoline. I know some of the Japanese motor transports were run by burning coke. There were many forms of fuel for the Oriental transportation bus. I remember one time when we divided our transportation into the types that used diesel fuel, those that used alcohol, and those that used gasoline. We checked the fuel to see if we had enough to go where we wanted to go. There was a lot of shifting back and forth, that is, shifting fuel from one vehicle to another. Then, finally, we had it done, but while doing it, we had been just about as vulnerable as a duck sitting in a pond. There was nothing we could do except to just hope and pray that the Japanese were just too dumb to sense the fact that we were as vulnerable as they were. There had been at least one battalion of the 57th Infantry involved in this, and they had been just as vulnerable as the trucks. It was quite an exciting and anxious time for us. However, the Japanese didn't take advantage of this opportunity; we got away with it.

Donald R. Lennon:

Well, since we're speaking of the Philippines, . . . you arrived there in l940?

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

We arrived there in February l94l.

Donald R. Lennon:

Prior to our going to war with the Japanese, what was the attitude of the Filipinos towards the Americans? Earlier, there had been a lot of trouble.

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

As far as I was able to tell, the ones in the military were extremely friendly and very



cooperative. They considered it an honor to be in the Philippine Scouts. Many of the Philippine Scouts were father-son affairs. We had several father-son combinations in the 57th Infantry. Before the war, a man had to have a good deal of service in the Scouts before he got a promotion. The pay, originally, for a private was eighteen pesos, which was about nine dollars a month. Compare that with the twenty-one-dollar-a-month pay that an American private received. Anyway, the peso would buy an awful lot out there. The nine dollars that a private got, plus his food, clothing, and shelter, was considered quite a lot. Certainly, he was getting security. Of course, at the time, he thought nothing could happen to him as long as he was under the aegis of the United States. That proved to be a myth later on.

Donald R. Lennon:

You were placed in charge of the schools. Were these just the American schools, or were the Filipino schools included as well?

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

It included schools for the Americans and for the Filipinos--dependents of the Philippine soldiers. We had American teachers and Filipino teachers. Most of them were female. We had a few men but not very many. It was quite a large school and it was very interesting. The work was very enjoyable. But at the time, I hadn't gone over there to teach school; I had gone over there to serve with a military unit. At least I thought I had. I was not very happy with my assignment, although it was very pleasant work.

Soon after we got over there, we began to realize that our relations with Japan were becoming more and more tense. There began to be some conjecture on our part as to whether we would fight Japan, when it would happen, and how it would come about. Most of us--I don't know why--thought that if we did have to go to war with Japan, it would not



happen until maybe the spring of l942, maybe April or May. I don't know why we hit upon the month of April, but a good many of us thought we might have to fight Japan along about April. Nobody expected that it would come quite as early as December l94l. It didn't catch us entirely unaware, because we did have our intelligence, but we were not as well prepared as we might have been.

Of course, there were a lot of things that happened out there that we would liked to have happened otherwise. For example, we were a little slow in getting supplies from the States. One particular thing that occurs to me concerns our 60mm mortars. We had our compliment of mortars in the regiment, but we didn't have any ammunition. We were always going to get some but we never got any. Maybe if the Japanese had waited a few months, we would have gotten it. Maybe that's one of the reasons they didn't wait a few months. Maybe they somehow sensed that we were in a sort of indecisive period there and were not as well supplied as we might have been.

There were some transports, bearing Air Force troops and equipment, that were so late in arriving that they had to be diverted to Australia. That meant that there was that much equipment the Philippines didn't get. I know that General MacArthur always said that help was on the way. Maybe he was trying to boost the morale of the troops, but they were empty statements as it turned out. We were always hanging onto these 60mm mortars because we felt that we wanted to have them in case the ammunition arrived. Even after the war started, we received a few supplies by submarines from the southern islands and Australia, but we never got any 60mm ammunition. We never got any of this mortar.

Donald R. Lennon:

What was your personal opinion of General MacArthur?

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

Well, he was a very able and brilliant man. I think, however, he lacked the human



touch. He lacked Wainwright's human touch. Wainwright was called "Skinny" behind his back, although some of his friends called him that to his face.

Donald R. Lennon:

Well, he occasionally signed a letter "Skinny."

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

Yes, I have a letter written by Wainwright, which was given to my by another person, and it was signed "Skinny."

Donald R. Lennon:

I have one or two in the Manuscript Collection.

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

Is that right?

There were many units that were composed of Filipinos. Most of them were not entirely disorganized, but so many of the of the Filipinoes were sick, poorly fed, or at a very low state of combat efficiency. Anyway, General Bluemel was in command of a group that I served with towards the end. I saw a lot of him while we were POW's and became very fond of him. In one of his correspondences, he sent me this letter and said, "You may find that this is one of the few times that "Skinny" ever signed himself "Skinny." Now it's interesting to know there are several others.

Donald R. Lennon:

When I go back to my office, I'll look in my card file and see who he was writing to. I just don't remember it now.

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

Yes, a good many of General Wainwright's close friends and contemporary friends did call him "Skinny." I have several letters from him, and he usually signed his letters either with his initials or just Wainwright.

Donald R. Lennon:

For a moment, let's discuss that period between the time of Pearl Harbor and the surrender, in l942, when you were taken prisoner.

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

You mean during the action?



Donald R. Lennon:

Yes sir.

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

Well, I suppose most of it is right in there in Willie Morton's book.

Donald R. Lennon:

I was thinking from your point of view, what you actually went through during that period.

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

Well, of course, our first action with the 57th took place during the time when I was not commanding the regiment. I was the executive officer of the regiment. It was at a little place called Abucay. We had our main line of resistance just north of Abucay. Our outpost line of resistance was considerably north of that, running through a little town called Calaguiman. Our right was resting on Manila Bay. The boundary between battalions just happened to be the North-South Road, you might say the coastal road, which went from Mariveles, which is south of Bataan, to the northern boundary of the province of Bataan. We had our 1st Battalion on the right and our 3rd Battalion on the left. At that time, our 2nd Battalion was in Missouri.

It was early in January that we had our first contact with the Japanese. Of course, it came about in the usual way. Their patrols felt us out and we responded, and then nothing happened. Then, on the morning of the twelfth, I think, although I'm not certain, we got hit by a very strong Japanese force. We were reasonably ready for them, and I think they suffered a lot more casualties than we did. This was where the machine guns became very, very effective. We had cleared some fields of fire and the Japanese walked right into them. You know, in their "bonzai" attacks they used to rely on mass attack pretty much like the Germans did in World War I. They were very peculiar people. They knew how to feel out the soft places. Once they found the places that were a little weaker than somewhere else, that was where they would move in.



Donald R. Lennon:

What kind of fire-power were they using?

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

They were using mortars, rifles, machine guns, and automatic rifles. They did an awful lot of infiltrating into our lines. They would infiltrate, get in behind us, and get up in the trees. They even resorted to a tactic of dropping little firecrackers behind the lines. These were very, very disturbing. Everybody's nerves were on edge anyway. When hearing these little firecrackers, we immediately thought that we were under machine-gun fire. Actually, they were the most harmless things in the world. The only thing it did was to keep everybody's nerves stirred up. That was one of their stratagems.

They did an awful lot of sniping from trees. That was a very potential sort of danger. In fact, one of our young lieutenants by the name of Henry V. Mininger--I don't know whether you ever heard of him or not--was awarded the first Medal of Honor of World War II, posthumously. He was killed trying to cope with this problem of snipers. He took a group of soldiers from A Company of the 57th and led them in a night maneuver in which he silenced a number of snipers. According to the citation, when his body was found he was surrounded by a number of Japanese dead, indicating that he had accounted for several of them. There were several American soldiers who were also killed. Anyway, between him and the soldiers that died with him, they accounted for quite a number of the Japanese.

It's pretty hard to figure it out. I think that maybe at that time for morale reasons they were looking for somebody who had done something worthwhile that they could hit upon. I don't know whether they voted to give somebody a Medal of Honor, or a Distinguished Service Cross, or what, but anyway they were glad to have an opportunity to cite someone. I'm not saying that Mininger didn't deserve this award, but I think that



sometimes it's the way a feat is described almost as much as the feat itself that determines the result. But anyway, he'll go down in history.

We've been very proud of our association, not that we discovered him or anything of that kind, but the boy's personality indicated that it's not always the "chest beaters" or the "blood-and-thunder" people who do the things in combat. It's impossible to say how folks will act in combat, but if you have a man with a highly developed sense of duty, the chances are he will react very well in combat.

Donald R. Lennon:

You were saying they were looking for someone because they were interested in giving an award at that time or a medal.

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

I didn't say that that was the case, but it easily could have been used as a morale booster. It was at a time that I wouldn't say morale was low, but morale can always use a lift.

Donald R. Lennon:

That was to be my next question. What was the morale situation there at that time?

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

It was very good at that particular time. Later on, toward the end of the fighting on Bataan, the morale was not as high, particularly among the members of the Philippine army units. The higher the state of discipline, the less you depend on morale, the more you control your own morale, if you know what I mean. I have never had much sympathy with the fact that an officer would say that his morale was low. Of course, I know that the state of my own morale many times was not quite as high as I wanted people to think it was. I could see the handwriting on the wall. I think I saw it a little before it happened, but I tried to conceal it from my troops and from my junior officers for obvious reasons.

Donald R. Lennon:

Were you getting as much support as possible from headquarters elsewhere?



Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

I think so; I mean from the people who were over there. We weren't getting as much support as possible from the United States, partially because they waited too long. All the sea lanes were pretty well closed by the time they bombed Pearl Harbor. I have been reading the third volume of a trilogy on General Marshall, written, I think, by Pogue. This third book is called Organizer of Victory and certainly paints General Marshall as a very fine, brainy character. In this book, it becomes quite clear that our leaders decided to take care of Europe before they decided to do an awful lot about the Pacific. I won't say that they didn't do anything; they did as much as they could. They were very careful to do nothing that would jeopardize the success of their operations against the Germans.

Donald R. Lennon:

Did you feel this at all at the time, or have any inkling that you were not getting your fair share of support?

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

I think whatever you might call my intelligence, my mentality, told me. It began to dawn on me that that was what it was. We were a little bitter about it. I must say that I was very human; I wanted them to come over and bail us out right away, but they just wouldn't do it. I can see now that it just didn't fit in with the overall plan. I haven't seen anything in black and white that says this, but I think they would have been willing to sacrifice us completely, if, by doing otherwise, it would have jeopardized their operations against the Germans. We began to realize that, too. As I said, nobody said it, but it became increasingly apparent that that was what was happening. I really couldn't blame them too much. It didn't suit my plans for them to do it that way, but I think that that's the way it was. They wanted to finish up in Europe and then take care of Japan. I think after a while this became reasonably clear to us. We didn't go along with it. We were not thinking objectively about it; we were being very subjective. We wanted out of there. Naturally, we



just didn't want to wait.

Donald R. Lennon:

Can you describe your actual capture and then the famous Death March that followed?

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

Well, the actual capture was sort of like this: We had fallen back in the last few days of the war. We were in a position a little to the north, along a river called the San Vincente River. We were driven out of that place for the simple reason that the troops on our right and left had given way. The Japanese were getting into our rear. I was faced with a very difficult situation at the time because I was in command of the 57th Infantry, and I had also been placed in command of the 26th Cavalry, the l4th Engineers, and a couple of the new ones--an assortment. I had been ordered by General Parker, who commanded the II Corps, to hold that line at all costs. "At all costs" means just what it says.

Well, I decided that I had two choices. One was to stay there and obey the command and get surrounded and either captured or annihilated, or I could withdraw and maybe see some more action. Well, I talked it over with some of my men and we decided to withdraw. Later events bore out the wisdom of this, because we took up another position where we were able to resist the Japanese.

Our new position was down farther to the south along a river line called the Alangan River line. We took up position there under rather harrowing conditions. We did, however, get into position, and we met the Japanese and gave them enough resistance. We took some casualties from them, but we also suffered some casualties. We were on this hill which was completely covered by dry cogon grass. There were also a good many stands of bamboo, very dry. So, one of the first things the Japanese did was to drop some incendiary bombs in



there. You can imagine the turmoil that round of salvo had.

Donald R. Lennon:

You said you took up positions under harrowing conditions?

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

Yes.

Donald R. Lennon:

Such as?

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

We pulled out of the San Vincente late at night. We had gotten in touch with General Bluemel, who was in command of all the troops in that area, and we decided that we were not going to take up another position a short distance behind or south of the San Vincente River. We decided to go far enough so that it would take the Japanese a little while to find us; it would give us that much more opportunity to get into position. Well, when we got to this position, we discovered that the order of battle had been determined by General Bluemel. He said that the 3lst Infantry would go in here, and the 57th would go in here, and there was a battalion of engineers that would go in from on our right, which was on the east. When we came in, the 3lst Infantry was on our right. In other words, if we had gone in as General Bluemel had prescribed, we would have crossed paths to get into the line.

Well, I found the commander of the 3lst Infantry and said, "You can't do that. That's for the birds. It makes no difference whether you go in on the right and I go in on the left, or we reverse." So, since we would have crossed paths in order to comply with General Bluemel's orders, I said, "We're going to do it my way. We'll get in there all right, but you'll be on the opposite side from where he thinks you are." In other words, I went in on his right going in, but when we got in a position facing north, he was on my right. Then we notified General Bluemel as quickly as possible, so there'd be no confusion. There wasn't any question about it. It was the thing to do.



I went on ahead and got separated from my executive and operations officers. I found myself in a command car which was being driven by a Filipino of rather doubtful loyalty. At least it seemed that way to me, because the automobile was having some difficulties until I pulled out my pistol, and then it seemed that the difficulties ended. But anyway, we were lucky and got where we were going. I was alone when I got out of the car and crossed this north branch of the Alangan River. I fell down in the stream bed and almost killed myself. Luckily, I fell into some soft sand. The next morning I looked down there and discovered there were jagged rocks all around. Fortunately, I just happened to fall in the right place. But anyway, they're the harrowing conditions that I was talking about.

Then the next morning we made contact with our supplies. We got some food, not as much as we would have liked, but we were able to get some sustenance. The engineer battalion on our right never showed up; so, I found that my right flank was in the air, as they say.

When the Japanese hit us that next morning, they slipped off to the right until they found that there were no troops there and they began to get into our rear. We had to refuse, that is, turn back the right flank of the regiment in order to cope with the presence of the Japanese in that area. I considered that a little bit harrowing. Then we got in contact with General Bluemel by runner. Our telephones were out and we didn't have a radio; so, we had to get in touch with him by runner to let him know where we were.

Donald R. Lennon:

How in the world did you know where to find him?

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

Well, I didn't, but I just guessed where he'd be. I figured that's where I'd have been if I had been in his place, and that's where he was. I knew that he was along the line some place. He wasn't down between me and Manila Bay, so, he had to be on my left. I never



did get in touch with either my executive officer or my operations officer. I never saw my executive officer again. He went into the hills and died. My operations officer finally came back and turned himself in to the Japanese. He was trying to escape, but I don't remember the exact details of it. He's alive now and living in Arlington, Virginia. He became a brigadier general after the war. He was an assistant division commander, but I have forgotten of which division.

Donald R. Lennon:

Well, now, we're at the point of the actual capture.

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

We had withdrawn from the position on which the cogon grass was ignited--the Alangan River position. We fell back from there. This was pretty late in the afternoon; it was just about dark. I had a little hand compass that I used to keep my bearings pretty well. It was touch and go getting back. We finally located General Bluemel. I forget the name of the stream, but he had his shoes off and was cooling his feet in this stream. I'll never forget that. He had arranged to have a telephone line brought to him so he could communicate with General Parker.

After a lot of trouble, he got General Parker on the line and told him exactly what the situation was. At that time, General Parker was at a place called Rodriquez Park, which was where the headquarters of the II Corps was. General Bluemel talked to him and told him the situation. It was then that he found out that General King had decided to surrender the next morning. So, we knew pretty much what was going to happen, but it hadn't happened. We didn't have any freedom of action. All we could do was continue to resist the Japanese and act as though the war was still going on.

We pulled back to a trail that led off to the west. There was a trail that went north



and south generally, and there was a trail leading off to the west. We got off on that trail. We didn't have a full regiment by any means. The 3rd Battalion, led by General Johnson, had been turned over a couple of nights before to General Bluemel. I didn't know where it was at that particular time; it was not with us. We were down there in the jungle, attempting to engage the Japanese in a fire fight, when we suddenly realized that fire from the Japanese was coming in on us from all sides. We were pretty well surrounded. Then word came to us to surrender. We were just off the trail, where we could get the best cover, when the word came to us to get on the trail, lay our weapons on the ground, and put our hands into the air.

Donald R. Lennon:

Was this word from the American command or from the Japanese?

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

Well, that's what I had to verify. Word came and we didn't know who was responsible for this command. So I was very skeptical about the validity of it.

Donald R. Lennon:

What form did it come in, a written message?

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

It came in a message that was passed down by word-of- mouth. Evidently, the word came from an American, but we had a lot of Japanese out there who spoke pretty good American. So, we didn't pay too much attention to that, but we figured that something was going on. I knew where General Bluemel was at the time, so I sent a messenger to him by a circuitous way. The messenger came back very quickly with the information that he had seen General Bluemel. He was a very reliable person, and he said that General Bluemel had corroborated the order to surrender. Based on that, we surrendered. We came out on the trail and laid our weapons on the ground. The Japanese very quickly came out of the jungle and took our weapons and also took everything they could take from our pockets. They took my eye drops and improvised the insignia off my collar. I had a couple of pesos in my



pocket and they took those. I had a package of cigarettes; they took my cigarettes.

Donald R. Lennon:

Looks like they would have left your insignia so they would have known your rank.

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

That's right, but they were souvenir hunters, and I think they were not doing this in an authorized way. But I was in no position to say, "You shouldn't do that." I just put up with what they did as being all right with me as long as they didn't take my life along with the other things. There was a time there when the Japanese were very trigger-happy, so to speak, and several people were shot. I remember one man was standing there after they had taken his wallet out of his pocket and thrown it on the trail. He stooped down to pick it up and they shot him just like that. I just had the advantage for some reason or other of seeing these things; so when I had the impulse to retrieve my wallet because it contained a couple of snapshots of my family and things like that, I knew not to do it. I'm glad that I didn't do it.

There were two colonels--I was one of them--General Bluemel, and two lieutenant colonels--five of us. After they had searched us, the five of us were taken off to one side. We were ordered to get into a truck. This was maybe an hour or so after the surrender. From there, we went down a trail, which could be traveled by truck, into the jungle and were interrogated that night. General Bluemel was interrogated first. He got in trouble right away, because he was in command of the 3lst Philippine Army Division, which had been part of the Philippine 3lst Army Regiment. There was also a 3lst United States Army Regiment composed of Americans. The Japanese either didn't know that or the interrogator didn't know it, because when General Bluemel told them that one of his units was the 3lst Philippine Army Infantry, they accused him of lying and struck him and knocked him down.



He got up with his brief case by his side. I was the next one to be interrogated. They didn't hit me, but I didn't feel too good about it.

Donald R. Lennon:

What information did they want from you?

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

They told me more than I was prepared to tell them. The interrogator said, "You are Colonel Lilly. You are commanding the 57th Philippine Scouts." Then he said to me, "You have killed many of our soldiers." Well, that didn't make me feel very happy, because I thought maybe some sort of act of revenge might follow. One of the things they wanted to know was whether there was a tunnel under the water that extended from Mariveles to Corregidor. Of course, there was no such thing. I told them that there was known to be none. I didn't know whether they believed me or not. We continued to protest that there was no such thing, and they continued in hopes that there was and that we were lying. They kept probing and asking further questions. Of course, they never got any information.

They moved us a short distance, and we were given a place where we were to sleep. We slept, and the next morning the Japanese said, "We want you to bow in the direction of the Imperial Palace." It sounded rather silly. I would have bowed in the direction of anything; it didn't make any difference to me. All I needed to know was where the Imperial Palace was. Then they took pictures of us doing it. I remember an interpreter saying, "You do not have to do it, but we can not answer for the consequences if you don't do it." Well, I wasn't hurting anyone and it didn't bother me any. The others felt the same way, so we bowed towards the Imperial Palace.

Then we were taken over to the coastal road not too far from Cabcaben, a little town--a barrio--which had a small pier. During normal times, boats plied between Cabcaben and Corregidor, but there were none doing it at that time. A Japanese battery of



artillery had been emplaced between the road and the bay. They had attempted to take Corregidor under fire, and Corregidor had decided to return the fire. That made it very awkward for us prisoners who were trying to get on the road and march to the north. We came under fire from Corregidor. There were several casualties. One man was killed. I happened to take refuge in a hole in which caribou wallowed. I just happened to see one available and jumped in it. It might have saved my neck. I don't know. But anyway, that's what happened.

The Death March, as you probably know, was not just one group of people marching. There were several small detachments. Each detachment was usually under the control of a sentry with a bayonetted rifle. I saw several people shot. I remember one incident in particular concerning a sergeant who was marching with us. He was very tired, and during one of the very rare times they allowed us to rest, he went over to the side of the road and sat down in the shade of a banana tree. When we resumed the march, he tried to get up but fell back again; he was weak. The Japanese sentry yelled, "Kura!" I found out later that that was a word they used in driving animals. It simply means if you're down, get up, and if you're up, get down. Whatever you're doing, stop it and do something else. Anyway, he yelled at this fellow, and the fellow attempted to get up again but fell down a second time. This time the Japanese just shot him. When he was shot, he had strength enough to get part of the way up again, but then he fell down again, and the Japanese shot him again. Then we went on.

Donald R. Lennon:

Was this from pure exhaustion, or was it from lack of food and water?

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

I think it was from both. I had some water in my canteen, and I knew that I would



probably have to make that water last a long time; so, I was very, very sparing.

Donald R. Lennon:

So when they stripped you, they didn't strip your canteen?

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

No, they didn't. One of the Japanese took my helmet not very long after we got on with the Death March, but they allowed me to keep my canteen. On one or two occasions there were sources of water just off the trail, and some of the men who did not have canteens of water became very frantic. (I don't know what I would have done under the circumstances.) They attempted to get to the water. Some of those men lost their lives when doing it; some didn't; and some succeeded in getting the water. The Japanese were not very consistent at all. They would be very, very lax, and then they would tighten up and shoot people again. It was impossible to predict in what order the Japanese were going to do anything.

They marched us to a place called "The Bow," where we spent the night. There was an enclosure which had been occupied previously, and although there was a trench ostensibly designed as a latrine, the people who had occupied this area had done their "business" all over everywhere. In fact, that night I found myself lying down in it, and the smell was abominable. It was a rather horrible experience, but I felt rather lucky that I had survived. I wasn't trying necessarily to look on the bright side of things, but, every now and then, I took stock and realized that I was still there and still alive.

I remember on the Death March there was a young lieutenant who was having trouble getting along. He had a musette bag, and although I had a musette bag of my own, I took his musette and carried it. When we got to San Fernando he was being carried along by some of his comrades. I thought to myself, "Well, here I am, forty-eight years old, and I'm just glad that I'm able to do this." I had never had much of a problem with being



overweight, neither had I ever had a great tendency to overeat and dissipate. I saw several people who obviously were not in any sort of fit condition and who lost their lives as a direct result of it. (I have always been sold, not necessarily on being in top physical form, but on not letting myself become unfit. In other words, being reasonably fit probably saved my life.)

Donald R. Lennon:

Most of the American troops should have been battle-seasoned veterans.

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

Well, they were, except that most of us had been about forty-eight hours without anything to eat. I remember one time I was so hungry on one of those halts that I tipped the top off of a banana tree and tried to eat the little tender leaves. I was exciting my thirst just a little bit because they were juicy; so I decided I had better not swallow them, because they might have an adverse effect on me. I knew very well that the minute I had "fallen out" would have been the last that anybody would have heard from me. So, I didn't eat the leaves, although I was very, very hungry. I constantly reminded myself that "I'm alive," and that I was going to do everything that I possibly could that was consistent with my staying alive. In other words, survival became my watchword.

Donald R. Lennon:

Did you have any idea of how far or how long you were going to be marching?

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

I didn't have any idea. I know now that it was probably somewhere between forty and fifty miles, maybe sixty-five or seventy kilometers. But, no, I didn't know how far. I didn't have any idea of how long I would be able to go on. But you know, there's an old saying in the infantry--I didn't think about it at the time--but it goes: "The infantry can always take one more step and fire one more shot." I suppose that's what kept me going. I think maybe at times if I had known that I would have had to have gone maybe ten more miles, I might have decided to give up. But I didn't know; so I just kept going one step at a



time. I think there are times you do what you have to do.

Donald R. Lennon:

They had no intentions of feeding or supplying water to anyone until the march was over?

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

At the "Bow," they did have some rice. I remember how frustrated I was when the rice ran out. I was in line, and about the third or fourth man in front of me got a little dab of rice and then it was all gone, and I did not get any. Of course, I was quite disappointed because I was counting on it. When you're counting on something and you don't get it, it makes it a little worse. I did get a refill of my canteen somewhere along the line, but I didn't get anything to eat.

Donald R. Lennon:

How did your feet hold up?

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

My feet held up all right. I never had any trouble with my feet. I'm not saying that those were ideal conditions by any manner or means, but my socks were good, and the shoes I had were in fairly good shape. I would have liked to have had a change of socks, but I didn't have them. But, I didn't have any trouble as far as blisters. That, of course, was a big advantage.

Donald R. Lennon:

That could have been disastrous.

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

You know how it is when you get a little wrinkle in your sock and it gets bigger and bigger and bigger as you go along. I hadn't thought about that too much, but, fortunately, I never had any trouble with my feet.

Donald R. Lennon:

Well, once you reached the end of the march, what happened then?

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

When we got to San Fernando, Pampanga, as many of us as possible were herded into a place they called the "Avicot Pit." There were a lot of seats around the edges of the area. A good many of us were put in there, and the remainder were put in the surrounding



area. I forget how long we stayed in there, maybe, a day or two.

Donald R. Lennon:

Were you fed or was this without food?

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

The only thing we got while we were there was some sugar--little blocks or cakes of a kind of brown sugar. While we were there, there were people hanging around. These "hangers-on" were willing to sell you good food if you had any money to pay for it. General Johnson, who later became Chief of Staff, my supply officer, and I had ten pesos (five dollars). I bought a little can of salmon from a fellow who had some things to sell. I thought to myself at the time that that was an awful lot to pay for a can of salmon; but you can't eat five dollars, and you can eat the salmon. So anyway, I bought it. We divided it among the three of us. Then there was a fellow who had been in the Navy, and he had gotten hold of some eggs. I remember he gave me a hard-boiled egg. Then, there was another fellow who had some pancakes. So, I had some salmon, a hard-boiled egg, and a pancake.

{How did they cook the pancake?]

I have no idea. The end result was a pancake. I remember thinking how generous that fellow was. He didn't know me from Adam. You know, people under those conditions are pretty decent when you come right down to it. He didn't think, "Well, maybe I had better save this pancake for tomorrow"; he divided it, just like the salmon was divided for the three of us.

Donald R. Lennon:

A can of salmon won't go but so far.

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

That's right, and it will spoil, too. So, we ate it. We ate it and really enjoyed it. I



think if we could see General Johnson now, he'd still remember that can of salmon.

In talking about the Death March, I want to mention a couple of things that I think are worth mentioning. We had two chaplains in each regiment. The two I had in the 57th Infantry were both Roman Catholic and acquitted themselves extremely well. On the march, I saw one of them doing something which made an impression on me, and I think it is worth mentioning. He was administering some sort of spiritual comfort to a Filipino soldier. I couldn't hear what he was saying, as he was over to one side of the trail; but he had the soldier's head in the hollow of his arm, I think, and was leaning over and saying something to him. A Japanese sentry came along and apparently didn't like it. He said the word, "Kura," which meant, "Whatever you're doing, quit it or stop it." The chaplain didn't pay any attention to him whatsoever. The sentry yelled, "Kura" at him a couple of times. The chaplain never paid any attention. He was very much concerned with what he was doing and what he was saying to the soldier. Finally, the sentry took his bayonet and jabbed it into the fleshy part of the chaplain's buttock. Evidently, it made quite a wound, because there was a red area of blood where the sentry had stuck his bayonet. The chaplain didn't pay any attention to him. He didn't even make the motion that you'd make in flicking away a mosquito or a fly. He was so intent in performing his duty to this soldier.

I understand that the chaplain survived the march but later lost his life on one of the prison ships. I recognized him, although he didn't recognize me. Later, I recommended him for a decoration for that particular incident. I thought it was a very gallant and heroic act on his part. I made a report of this heroic act to his religious order. They were very glad to hear about it, but I don't think the boy every received the decoration. The confusion was so great during the war. Both of my chaplains lost their lives, but in different ways. One of my



chaplains had a brother, and I finally got in touch with him.

Donald R. Lennon:

I imagine there were many demands for decorations as the result of that march.

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

There were a lot of them, and some were successful. A lot of them weren't.

Donald R. Lennon:

Any other incident that you remember from the march itself?

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

Not specifically. I think those two things--the soldier that got shot and the chaplain--were the main things that I remember. Also, there was the uncertainty--not knowing whether you were going to be shot yourself or what.

As I said, there were five of us that were interrogated by the Japanese right after the surrender. One time, we were pulled off to the side of the trail and allowed to sit down. We sat in the sun for quite awhile, and when we got up to leave, this particular lieutenant colonel was not able to go on. Two of us helped him under a tree on one side of the trail and left him there. We thought maybe we had seen the last of him, that maybe we would never see him again. This was in April of l942. When I got back to the States in October of l945, I read in the paper that this same lieutenant colonel had arrived from the Orient and was going to rejoin his family after having been a POW. This was the first that I knew that he was alive and not dead.

Donald R. Lennon:

It was surprising that the sentry left him.

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

Very surprising. The Japanese philosophy seemed to be, "If he is too weak to go on, shoot him, don't bother with him, get rid of him." They didn't have a great deal of sympathy for the worn out and the badly handicapped. Well, their letting us leave him was certainly a surpise to me. He was a graduate of West Point and later became an instructor in mathematics at West Point. I understand he did rather well. He is dead now. He died, I think, of natural causes, but you don't know how much of it was directly due to his



experience in the Orient. Something might have happened that shortened his life.

Donald R. Lennon:

Was the heat unbearable on the march?

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

Well, sometimes I thought it was unbearable, but it turned out to be bearable. After we had been in San Fernando, Pampanga, a couple of days, we got in boxcars on a little train and were taken northward to a little station called Capas, which was about eight or ten kilos east of Camp O'Donnell. We got out at Capas and marched to Camp O'Donnell. We were there for about a week, I think. We colonels were moved to Tarlac and stayed there for about a month.

Donald R. Lennon:

So, you were separated from the other personnel?

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

I can remember (I say this to my credit) objecting when they wanted to take me out. I had been with my junior officers and my soldiers for that long and wanted to stay with them, but they wouldn't let me. In August l942, we went by train from Tarlac to Manila. We got on a ship, I think it was the ORIENT KOMARU, and sailed from Manila to Takao, Formosa, a small town on a little bay, where we transferred to another ship. From Takao we went down around the southern end of Formosa to a little place called Karenko, just south of the center on the eastern coast. We stayed there until June of l944--about twenty-six months. Then, we were moved to the west coast of Formosa to a place called Sherrikawa (sp. ?), which was near a lot of marshes with a great many mosquitoes. As a result, many of us contracted malaria in that area.

Sometime in October of l944 the Leyte landing took place. We knew something was happening, but we didn't know what. They got us ready and took us up to Taipei. (It was called Taihoku at the time.) Taipei is not right on the water, so we were taken to the port of Taipei, which is several kilos away, on the water. We were put into the hold of



another ship on the ninth of October l944, where we stayed for nearly three weeks. We were taken out for fresh air once, for maybe about a half hour. At that time, we were given some hoses and hosed down. It was a very welcome experience for us. Then, we were put back down into the hold.

Donald R. Lennon:

The conditions there must have been pretty abominable, weren't they?

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

Yes. They were not exactly ideal. The hold from the bottom deck to the next deck was probably a couple of feet less than the height of this room. That was divided into two parts horizontally, so that some prisoners could get in one part and some could get into the other part. You see what I mean?

Donald R. Lennon:

So, they were only about maybe four feet?

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

Well, I would say the whole thing from the bottom to the top was probably about seven or eight feet.

Donald R. Lennon:

And, with it divided in half, you only had about four feet per shelf.

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

Four feet per section, four feet or less. You could just barely sit up, but you couldn't stand up. We got in the ship on the ninth of October l944, and we sailed from the Port of Taipei on the twenty-third. That makes two weeks we were in the hold of the ship.

Donald R. Lennon:

How many of you?

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

Oh about 350 or so. It was so crowded that everyone had to lie down at the same time. I remember that there was a fellow near me that had to open his legs so that my head could get in between. There just wasn't any extra room.

Donald R. Lennon:

Wasn't the air awfully stagnate?

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

It certainly was! Another thing, they had buckets down there so if you had to relieve yourself very suddenly you could. Or you could go in pairs or as a threesome over a



stairway and down another stairway to the head.

Donald R. Lennon:

Why as a threesome?

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

Well, you had to go to the head with a sentry. They didn't want to waste the sentry's time by just taking one, so if you had to go to the bathroom, you had to find a partner to go with you. It wasn't quite that simple, and maybe it wasn't quite that complicated either, but I had to go a couple of times, and I knew I never could go by myself. Anyway, the conditions were frightening.

Donald R. Lennon:

What were they feeding you? Rice?

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

They gave us plenty of tea. I remember shaving one time with a little cup of tea I had saved.

Donald R. Lennon:

What did you use for a blade?

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

I had a razor. They didn't seem to mind if we had a razor. The razor wasn't very sharp, so I had to sharpen it myself. One fellow had a "rolls razor." (Did you ever see a "rolls razor," or ever hear of one? It's a British-made razor. It has a cover; the inside of the cover has a hone, and the other side is similar to a strap. It is lined with leather and designed so you can move the razor back and forth. If you leave one of those covers on, it will strap it, and if you leave the other one on, it will hone it.) One fellow had one of those razors and used a hone whetstone to sharpen razors for the rest of us. That was a very nice service, because it provided something that we could shave with. I had to shave with my tea. I didn't have any soap. I just wet my face. As a result, however, I felt so much better. My morale was better, everything was better.

I remember very well that on the twelfth, thirteenth, and fourteenth of October the harbor was bombed. The ship obviously wasn't sunk, but it was hit. There was a friend of



mine by the name of Colonel MacDonald out of the Class of l9l5 of West Point who had his fifty-third birthday on the thirteenth of October. I remember how well behaved everybody was. You would have thought someone would have panicked under the conditions, but I guess each person was ashamed to be the one to start to panic; so, nobody did.

Donald R. Lennon:

Now, these were all officers aboard the ship?

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

These were all officers. I remember "Shorty" MacDonald on the thirteenth of October said to me, "This is a hell of a way to spend your birthday!" I mean that was the general mood that prevailed. It indicated to me that he still had a bit of spirit, and it did me a lot of good to know that he felt that way. In other words, the spirit was more or less contagious, just like a panic might also have been contagious. But anyway, it was a very well behaved crowd.

We finally got underway on the twenty-third. I think it was about four or five days later we got into a place called Moji on the southern island of Kyushu. We were there for about ten days. Then we went to a port on the northwestern portion of the island and took a ferry over to Pusan, Korea. There we were equipped with one suit of woolen underwear, one pair of socks, one helmet, and one overcoat. Then we got on the train and went up to a place north of Mukden called Cheng-chia-t'un. You could have asked any one of us to spell it and we would have all spelled it differently, but generally speaking, that's the way it was spelled. In May l945, we were taken down to Mukden, which is about one hundred miles to the southeast. We were in Mukden when the Russians came. They came into the war either the eighth or ninth of August and entered Mukden about the sixteenth or seventeenth.

Donald R. Lennon:

So, you were actually liberated by the Russians?

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

Well, theoretically, yes. We were actually veterans who had been liberated several



days before that. In other words, before the Russians arrived, we had already disarmed the Japanese and taken over the running of the camp. The Russians insisted on making a show of liberating us and asked that we rearm the Japanese--without any ammunition of course--just as a matter of form. In other words, they wanted to conduct a ceremony where the Japanese could be made to lay their arms down, and the Americans would pick up the arms. It was sort of a symbolic disarming of the Japanese and taking over of the camp. But, at least two days before the Russians arrived, that had already happened.

Donald R. Lennon:

Had you done this by physical force or had the Japanese just given up?

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

The Japanese had just acquiesced. It was rumored around the fourteenth (I know it was just before the fifteenth of August because that was VJ-Day) that someone had passed by the commandant's office, looked into the window, and had seen an American sitting and talking to the commandant. This was unheard of. So, we put two and two together and decided that something was happening. A crew, something like three Americans and two Orientals, had parachuted into the vicinity. One was a doctor, one was a radio operator, the two Orientals were interpreters, and, I guess, the other person was just in charge. He had been the person sitting and talking to the commandant. I remember several days later the Russians arrived.

Very soon after this incident (remember, I didn't have any part in this, I was just one of the "Indians" and not one of the "Chiefs"), we had several generals who got in touch with the camp commandant, and it was conceded that the war was over. The radio apparently was in touch with some place in China. I think it was K'un-ming. Very soon after this happened, we were directed to designated drop zones outside the POW compound. We



went to these zones and several bombers flew over and dropped food from their bomb bays. Whether some of them had parachutes on them or not I have forgotten, but many of them didn't, because a lot of the cans and cases of can goods just broke open. Anyway, we got a lot of it, and it was reflected in the mess. Then, the Russians came.

In order to keep the morale up, I was leading the bunch in a group singing to music like "The Sidewalks of New York," "Daisy, Daisy," and all that kind of stuff. I was leading them in some singing when someone came up and said the Russians had arrived and wanted us to assemble in such and such a place. So, we quit singing and moved to the designated place. One of the Russians who spoke English (he was very "flowery" in his speech) made a big "Hurrahing" and told us that from then on we were free people. They were "liberating" us. Then, they had a symbolic ceremony. Another group of people arrived and brought a film. I'll never forget the film; it was called "Hollywood Canteen." It was something different for us to do.

Donald R. Lennon:

An Americana.

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

We saw a movie that we hadn't seen before and had a wonderful time. They gave us a talk--a thumbnail sketch of the progress of the war--which brought us up-to-date on what had happened. They even had some psychiatrists. Everyone of us at some time or another was interviewed. Then, they began to move us out--the sick first, and then the well. They were doing the best they could with what they had. I was one of the last to leave. While the first ones went out by plane, the last contingent--the one that I was on--moved from Mukden down to Dairen, by train. I think this was about the tenth of September. We were there quite awhile after the so-called "liberation." When we got to Dairen, we found the hospital ship RELIEF moored to the dock. There was a spotlight on the flag, which was



flying from the stern that night. It was the first time we'd seen the "stars and stripes" since I don't know when. We hadn't seen it very much during the fighting on Bataan, so I guess it was the first time we'd seen them since we had been on the McKINLEY before the war. It was quite moving. Tears flowed freely; everybody was highly emotional. We got on the hospital ship, and everyone was given invalid treatment. We were issued pajamas and got ourselves a bath. Then, we were given really good steaks and stuff like that. There were a lot of nurses on board. I don't know whether they were pretty or not, but they looked mighty pretty to us! From there we went to Okinawa. From Okinawa we were flown down to Manila.

Donald R. Lennon:

How was life in the camps?

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

Well, it was rather stark. Food was rather the main topic of conversation. Most of the food consisted principally of a very thin, watery soup and maybe the equivalent of about two-thirds of a coffee cup of rice. We did everything we could to make it seem like a lot. We were given two meals a day. We would get rice for breakfast and rice for the evening meal. A lot of us would, at times, save the breakfast rice for the evening meals so we could go to bed on a full stomach that wouldn't growl all night. That didn't work so well. Anyway, some people did it one way, and some did it another; but half of the interest was in trying to make the food go as far as it could.

Donald R. Lennon:

So, you were getting no Red Cross packages at all, were you?

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

We did get some. We didn't get any for about the first year that we were prisoners. When we did get a Red Cross parcel, we'd have to divide it with someone else. It was rather interesting to see how scrupulously people would divide. We would take a can of clams and divide it almost to the last half of a teaspoonful. I remember I was dividing mine



with a fellow whose name usually came along in the Ls. He would divide a can of clams as evenly as he could, and, then, if one looked like it might have been a little bit more than the other, he'd always give that one to me. He was always very careful that no one could accuse him of taking more than his share. It was the same way with corned beef. I remember when we first got our parcels, I got sick eating. I overate on some occasions.

Donald R. Lennon:

Well, you had to go ahead and eat it or it would have spoiled?

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

That's right. When the issue time came, the Japanese would poke a hole in the can of beef so you couldn't save it and pile it up to use for a possible escape. Of course, we weren't too adverse to it. We were hungry, so we ate. Then, they issued us shoes.

Donald R. Lennon:

Where in the world would you escape to in Korea or Manchuria?

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

In the Philippines there were several opportunities to escape and there were several escapes. I remember at Tarlac they were very much afraid that some of us might escape. They got General Wainwright and told him that if any of us escaped they would shoot him. He came back one time from one of those meetings, looking very solemn, got a bunch of us together and told us what they had said. Then at the end, he smiled and said, "If you do decide to escape, then for God's sake, take me with you!!" Of course, none of us did. There was just no opportunity. None of our group even attempted to escape.

Donald R. Lennon:

Even in the Philippines, had you escaped, there would have been no place to go except in the jungle, would there?

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

That's right, but there were a number of people who escaped in the Philippines. I am in correspondence with one fellow up in New York who escaped and joined the lst Cavalry Division when they came down. He remained with them for the remainder of the



war.

We thought about it quite awhile. On Formosa, of course, there just wasn't any place to go. It was reported from fairly good authority that there were headhunters on a ridge of mountains going down into the country, and it was not considered advisable to get involved with them. We were down next to the coast, so there just wasn't any place to go unless you had a boat stashed away someplace. You see, in the Philippines some of the people who escaped got over to China. Some of them got picked up by the Japanese in China. Of course, some of them remained at large, also.

Donald R. Lennon:

How about your treatment? You had no work or anything to do while you were in prison. How did you while away the time?

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

Well, mostly we had work to do. We were told by the Japanese that if we would raise a garden, we could have the proceeds from it. We had nothing else to lose. I figured we were better off doing what we did than we would have been had we remained idle all the time. We did work in the garden. I think it was for those under a certain age--under sixty. Those who were sixty and over had a small herd of goats. They tended the goats.

Donald R. Lennon:

You had officers there who were over sixty?

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

Oh, yes. Wainwright was over sixty, Parker was over sixty, General King was over sixty, and we had a number of colonels that were over sixty. I remember that out of our group, there were maybe twenty over sixty. Then, we had British and Dutch officers who came in after we got to Formosa. We made some very good friends among the British and the Dutch and, of course, among our own group. It was not in any sense of the word a total loss. There were a number of plusses. The only thing was that we didn't want to be there, and we didn't want to be there under those conditions. "Under those conditions" covers it



pretty well. I mean, there was a shortage of food, a shortage of everything.

There were, however, some very interesting people there. For example, the Governor General of the Netherlands East Indies was brought to Formosa while we were there. His wife was an American who, I later found out, was the daughter of my mother's first cousin. Of course, this didn't mean anything at the time, but later, from l947 to l950, when I was stationed in Paris as inspector general, this Governor General was also in Paris as the Ambassador to France from Holland. I had an opportunity to visit him at the embassy on a number of occasions and to meet his wife, whom I hadn't met before. They were very courteous to us. This made for a very pleasant relationship. He only remembered me very casually. I remembered him because he was a much more important person than I was.

We had a lot of people from the Malay Peninsula. The Governor General of Hong Kong was also a prisoner. When we were in Paris, these people put us on their invitation list. When they would have their social functions at the Dutch Embassy, we would be invited. In one instance, we were the guests of honor.

[End of Part 1]



EAST CAROLINA MANUSCRIPT COLLECTION
ORAL HISTORY INTERVIEW #32
Col. Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr., USA (Ret.)
Fayetteville, North Carolina
October 6, 1976
Interviewer is Donald R. Lennon
Interview #2

Donald R. Lennon:

You made reference in the first interview to General King carrying your luggage at one time, but you didn't go into specifics on that.

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

I had not known General Edward P. King before I was ordered to report to him at Fort Stotsenburg, which is probably about sixty-five or seventy kilometers north of Manila. I went over there and reported to him. I had a Filipino driver. When I was getting out of the car, instead of letting the driver take my luggage into his quarters where I was to spend the night, he came around and took my bag out of the back of the car. After I got to know him real well, I found that this was a typical thing for him to do. He was a gentleman of the old school and a very unassuming person.

Donald R. Lennon:

So, he didn't follow military protocol?

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

No. He didn't. I told him with some surprise, “General, you can't do that.” He said, “Oh, yes I can.” I said, “What will the people think of a brigadier general taking a lieutenant colonel's bags?” He said, “I don't care what they think. It's my pleasure to do it, and I'm going to do it.”



It seems that I had some connection through friendship with him before. It was back in the days when he was the executive officer for the chief of field artillery about the time the land for Fort Bragg was being acquired. I had an uncle, a lawyer, who was doing a lot of the title searching for the property that subsequently became Fort Bragg. General King was a major then and became very fond of my uncle and vice versa. The result was that we had a lot to talk about. There were a lot of personal things to talk about.

After I spent the night in his quarters at Fort Stotsenburg, we left in his car the following day on a reconnaissance trip to Baguio, which is, you might say, a winter resort that has enough altitude to have a lot of the weather features of the United States. As a matter of fact, when you get into Baguio, you get into the pine belt, and pine trees are something you don't see in the Philippines except at this altitude. I remember that we got some strawberries up there, which is something that is not grown in the lower altitudes of the Philippines. Anyway, that's about the story as far as General King is concerned.

After that, he became the commander of the Luzon Force during the war. He is the one who as a major general made the decision to surrender and to avoid a lot of what he thought would be needless bloodshed. I think most historians agree to that. This was in April of 1942. It was easy to see that the Japanese would soon overrun our forces. If we had not surrendered then, we would have had to have surrendered later. Many would have gotten killed. So, I feel that was a very brave decision that he made. He made it in the belief that he would have to answer for it after the war.

Donald R. Lennon:

Well, after the war, did this have any repercussions on his career?

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

No, it didn't. He was reaching just about the age of retirement after the end of the war. He was not promoted to the grade of lieutenant general, but I don't think his act had anything to



do with that. As a matter of fact, I think he was admired for taking that rather daring act of surrendering to the Japanese on the ninth of April. As I say, he was a typical southern gentleman. He came from Atlanta, Georgia. He was not a West Pointer. He was very, very unassuming. He was a highly skilled military leader. He knew exactly where his authority began and where it ended. He could be very dignified and very strict when the time seemed to warrant it. He could also be very informal. This was something that I found a little bit unusual in a high-ranking Army officer. In the papers that you have just returned to me, I have one letter from General King that indicates what a rare human individual he really was. It was after a visit that I paid to him when he was living in Saluda, North Carolina, and it shows how warm and cordial he was.

Mrs. King lived in Atlanta and was there when the word came of the surrender of the Philippines. My wife was in Atlanta at the same time. As a matter of fact, they were sitting on the couch together. Mrs. King and my wife and Mrs. Brauer were in the same room. They heard the word and it was very typical of Betty King when she said, “Well, we'll just have to say a little prayer.” They said the Lord's Prayer together. It was a very solemn time for all three of them. She was just as warm and friendly and unassuming as General King was. They were very lovely people. They are both gone now.

Donald R. Lennon:

Speaking of the general officers that were there on the Philippines, what about General Bluemel? I know he was your direct superior at that time.

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

Well, I first knew him when he was a colonel in command of the 45th Infantry for Artillery. Just a very short while before Pearl Harbor, he and two other colonels were promoted to brigadier generals. General Clifford Bluemel was his name. He commanded the 31st Philippine Army Division. I saw a lot of him during the last few days of the active fighting on



Bataan. It seems that I was ordered about the fifth or sixth of April to release one of my battalions to General Bluemel. Well, I did this. The battalion happened to be the 3rd Battalion and was commanded by Major Harold K. Johnson, who subsequently became chief of staff of the Army. He was going up to report to General Bluemel. Since as a regiment we were not in contact with the enemy at that time, I decided to go with him and see if I could learn something up there about the military situation. When we got up there it was very dark; it was perhaps two or three o'clock in the morning. General Bluemel had a lot of problems getting his troops together and holding a cohesive command. When we got there he was glad to see us, but was anything but cordial. He expected, for some reason, for us to turn over two battalions. I told him, “I'm sorry, General, but I have my orders and one battalion is all you're going to get.” He didn't like that too much. He wasn't too courteous to me, but I didn't hold it against him; that was no time for courtesy. In fact, he was rather rude about it. Anyway, he finally realized that that was all he was to get and simmered down a bit.

I saw a good deal of him after that. In fact, he awarded me the Silver Star because of what he thought was my support for him in those last few days of the fighting there. After we became prisoners of war and were taken to the island of Formosa, he came by where I was one day and said, “Lilly, I think I owe you an apology.” I said, “Well, I don't know whether you do or not, General, but let's have it if you think you do.” He said he thought he had been a little rough on me at that particular time. I didn't bear any ill will toward him because I think I would have reacted in pretty much the same way he did.

I'm simply telling you this illustrate the fact that he was a very fair-minded man. He was every inch a man. He was not a person that one would have taken to at once, because he had



some rather abrupt mannerisms. He could give a subordinate a pretty hard time. I got to know him and like him and became very, very fond of him.

He did one thing for me that I will never forget. He and a number of the higher-ranking officers returned to the States maybe a week or two before the rest of us did. When he got to the West Coast, one of the first things he did was to call my wife in Fayetteville and tell her that I was all right and would be along soon. It was something she did not know. It took a big load off her mind. He didn't have to do that. He was a very kind person.

Donald R. Lennon:

You were part of the 3rd Corps under General Parker there.

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

General George Parker, Jr. That was the 2nd Corps.

Donald R. Lennon:

Right, the 2nd Corps. What direct contact with him?

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

Not too much direct contact with him. Most of it was by telephone. I can remember at the very last, just after I had turned over one battalion to General Bluemel, about all the communication we had with other units and with the 2nd Corps was by telephone. We had no radio. At least, I didn't. I remember getting a call from General Parker right at the end, oh, maybe, forty-eight hours before the surrender. He said that he had lost contact with various units and enumerated some of the units: the Engineer Battalion, the 45th Infantry, my regiment the 57th Infantry, and the 14th Engineers. He informed me from then on I would be in command of all those troops. About all I could do was acknowledge receipt of the order and do my best to contact them and let them know that I was assuming command. I didn't know him well. He gave me the impression that he was not a man that was very vigorous physically. Without any reflection on General Parker, I found out that the people who were not vigorous physically were not very aggressive tactically. This was borne out by the little I knew about him. I know when we came back from Abucay in the latter part of January in 1942, we went to Rodriguez Park



where he had his headquarters for the 2nd Corps. I don't recall seeing General Parker. I don't know where he was. That's no reflection on him because he had many things to do. But, I did receive quite a welcome from members of his staff. He was very fine man and always treated me very well.

Donald R. Lennon:

When you were imprisoned and moving from Formosa to Korea and then to Manchuria, you were separated from your troops, were you not? The officers were kept together.

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

That's right. We went to Camp O'Donnell right after the Death March. Actually, the Death March ended in San Fernando, Pampanga. We went by rail a few miles north of there to a place called Capas, which is about six or eight kilometers east of Camp O'Donnell, and then had to march the rest of the way. While we were at O'Donnell--we stayed there for ten days--we were divided up. The colonels and generals were put into one group and moved to another placed called Tarlac. Without trying to create a favorable impression with the rest of my officers there, I didn't like it and objected to it. I did my best to remain with my men, but I was overruled. General King was the one who overruled me. He was there and he said that this was what the Japanese wanted and that was what we were going to have to do.

Donald R. Lennon:

Did they keep all officers from the Luzon area as a group as you were moved from one prison camp to another or were you scattered?

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

They kept us as a group until we got to Formosa. We remained there for several months in the one camp. Then the generals were moved to another camp. Then, we were moved from a camp from the southeastern part of the island to another camp on the western part, just about midway from north to south. After we had been there a few weeks or so, the generals were returned to us.

Donald R. Lennon:

This was Bluemel and King and all?



Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

That's right. Also, there were a bunch of others like members of the Dutch Army, the Australian Army, and the British Army. Also, while we were there, we were joined by some of the civilians called viceroys. There were the governor general from an island in the East Indies, the governor of Hong Kong, and the chief justice of the Federated Malay States, who was a British gentleman. We had quite a distinguished group there. They were very interesting people. They didn't have much time for small talk, but when they did, they had something to say and were very much worth listening to. They knew the world situation. They knew what they were doing when their work was interrupted by the Japanese. But, most of us Americans were kept together.

After we had moved on Formosa from the East Coast to the West Coast, the generals were taken away from us and then rejoined us in a place in Manchuria north of Mukden. They were there already, so you might say that we rejoined them. Then, they were taken away again. Then, we moved down to Mukden.

Donald R. Lennon:

Was there any reason for this?

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

I don't know. The Japanese were rather capricious people and there may have been a reason and there may not have been. They simply did it.

Donald R. Lennon:

There was no interrogation or any use made of you or the other men at any time that you were prisoners beyond that initial interrogation when you were first captured?

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

Not after the first few days following surrender. I think there was for propaganda purposes a time when they asked us to write essays. For instance, I remember one time they asked us to write an essay to tell of the bloodiest experiences of the war as far as we were concerned. I gave them a very bloody story, believe you me. They would also ask you who you thought would win the war. They were hoping that you would say Japan. Of course, we never



did. We would say: “It is not a question of whether we're going to win the war; it's a question of when. We are a very powerful nation. Eventually, we will whip you and there is no doubt about it. We may not be alive at the time, but you'll get whipped, don't worry.” They didn't like that very much. They kept the Americans together with maybe one or two individual exceptions.

Donald R. Lennon:

Were there any retaliations or repercussions when anyone failed to write their essay for them?

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

Oh, yes. They would slap you in the face. Being slapped in the face was commonplace. They didn't hit you with their fists, at least not regularly, but they would slap you regularly. Sometimes, just to add insult to injury, they would thump you on the nose. It didn't feel very good, but this was more of an insult than anything else. They did everything they could to humiliate us.

They were not signatures to the Geneva Treaty, but they said they were going to comply with the requirements or standards imposed by it. Of course, they didn't do it. I always thought they were very foolish people, because I knew that one day they were going to be a defeated nation. I don't think really they did, but I think we were pretty sure. It would have been much better to have made friends with us even on the basis of strictly disciplined prisons. It would have been much more intelligent of them if they had maintained our respect, which they could have easily done; but they didn't do it.

Donald R. Lennon:

Did the Japanese at any time pay you a salary or provide funds?

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

Yes and no. They told is that they would allow us a paper credit of something like 320 yen per month, but we never saw any of it. From time to time we would get supplies like synthetic strawberry syrup, which believe it or not made a very welcome variation to our diet.



We could pour it on our rice. We would do almost anything with it so it would just change the flavor of what we were eating. Those things had a price.

Donald R. Lennon:

That was deducted from your monthly 320 yen?

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

Right. I remember one time . . . I don't know how much credit I had in yen, but it had been many, many months and we hadn't gotten anything particularly important. Well, they came by and said, “We have some musical instruments. We have a list of them and would like very much for you to check off the ones you want.” Well, I was feeling a little bit recalcitrant at the time, and I checked them all off. I wanted one of each. There was a guitar and a piano and organ--from the biggest down to the smallest. I finally ended up getting a guitar.

We did get paid or rather we got some sort of credit or we were told this. They made all of us work except for the ones sixty and over.

Donald R. Lennon:

Oh, really, now this is a departure from practices elsewhere.

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

Right. We were required to work. We even did such menial things like cutting grass with a pair of scissors or knife or the edge of a piece of tin from a top of a tin can. They made us do it on the public highway where the natives could pass by and watch. Here were the officers of a very powerful western nation who been brought down to this level. They didn't say so in so many words, but that was the ultimate result of it. They enjoyed letting the people see us humiliated.

Donald R. Lennon:

What other labor other than cutting grass did you do?

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

We were allowed to raise a garden. We raised sweet potatoes. They called them camote over there. We also raised peanuts. They told us that if we did this, we would be able to augment our rations with what we raised. They failed to live up to their agreement. They would let us take some things out of the garden, but they would reduce the other rations proportionately



or appropriately. Oh, we managed. There are all kinds of ways you can steal a few potatoes. If you got caught, of course, you had to pay the price for it.

Donald R. Lennon:

What was the punishment?

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

Well, first they could give you solitary confinement, or sometimes they would just slap you in the face and let it go at that. But then you would still have your potato and, maybe, you would think it was worth it. We got to the point where we didn't look upon it as a way of humiliation because everybody was getting slapped.

Donald R. Lennon:

Now, this labor, was this a daily routine?

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

Yes. They had a herd of goats, and the people sixty and over would tend the goats. Also, at various times there were some ducks and some chickens. Then, we had several pigs that we were permitted to raise. I remember one time they allowed us to slaughter a pig. Well, the Japanese mess took the hams and the shoulders and loins and left us the head, feet, stomach, and intestines. We were glad to get it because it was better than nothing.

Donald R. Lennon:

Well, the normal diet was rice?

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

It was rice and soup. The soup was made of practically nothing. It was mostly water and a plant that they called a water morning-glory and another plant that looked very much like link sausage. It was like a little bulbous joint, which, if you cut it in two, looked like the cross section of a small tomato. It didn't have much taste, and, as far as I could tell, it had no nourishment.

We didn't have any salt for the food. For months and months we had no salt. We had an interpreter there who was one of the few Christians that we had any dealings with. He was talking to me one day and said that he was going to take a trip and wondered if he could bring us anything. I just happened to mention that I hadn't had any salt in I didn't know when. Several days later he came back and I got word that my salt was here. I found that I had a hundred-kilo



bag of salt. This is a little over two hundred pounds. Of course, that was a godsend. We took it and divided it up among everybody. No one got too much, but they didn't need too much. We got maybe about a half of cup of salt which would go a long way. As a matter of fact, two of us had gotten this salt and many of the people offered to buy it from us, because it was a very valuable thing. We were offered cigars, cigarettes, portions of Red Cross packages, and so on. Of course, no one would take anything, because it just wouldn't have done to accept anything. So, what we did was to divide it up and give it away.

Donald R. Lennon:

How many were in the camp?

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

Oh, I would say there were probably three hundred at this particular time. It didn't give anybody a great deal, but they all had some.

Donald R. Lennon:

Without salt, and on a very bland, nutritionally-void diet, how did you maintain your strength to go out and work every day?

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

That's a good question. I guess there is a certain amount of nourishment in rice. The Orientals use it as a staple. We found that we didn't have the stamina as we did normally. The work wasn't terribly hard. It was just a question that we had to do it. We had to walk maybe the better part of a mile to the garden. When we got there we would have these very primitive looking hoes they called chuck hoes. We would perform the necessary process of breaking up the ground and making it ready for planting. We would get the slips planted, then cultivate it, and water it. We even used organic fertilizer in the form of human urine. That was one of the very menial tasks that a good many of us were required to perform—carrying buckets to the latrines, getting urine, and taking it out to the garden. It was not a very nice thing or a pleasant task, but we did it. I suppose the alternative would have been being put into solitary confinement or being beaten if we hadn't done it.



Donald R. Lennon:

Were any of you physically abused other than just a slap or solitary confinement?

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

Yes. There were several cases, but it wasn't a common practice. There were enough cases of it, though. I remember our squad leader made some objections about the quantity of the allowance that we were getting from the kitchen for our food. He was called over and given a pretty thorough going over. His face was beaten and we could hardly recognize him when he got back. What they did to him was for the purpose of trying to discourage anyone else from doing the same thing. However, I will say this much for the type of people that we had, it didn't discourage them. They would still make their protests and take a beating. Sometimes when they made a protest, the Japanese wouldn't do anything to them. They were very unpredictable people. Sometimes they would issue an order and carry it out, and sometimes they would issue an order and wouldn't carry it out.

Donald R. Lennon:

Well, you mentioned the kind of rations that you were getting from the kitchen. You did not do your own cooking? The Japanese furnished you with the cooks?

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

We were supervised by the Japanese. We did furnish the personnel.

Donald R. Lennon:

So, you didn't cook right there in your barracks or living quarters?

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

No. They never called it the kitchen; they called it the cook room. It was just another term for it. They would bring the food—the soup and rice—over in buckets. It would be our task to divide it. Of course, that made an interesting situation. No matter how much you would try to divide it in an equitable manner, someone would object that someone else was getting more rice than he was. It is amazing how elemental people can be under those circumstances.

In normal social intercourse, when one person insults the other, they just will be hostile from then on—they don't speak anymore and they try to ignore each other. But that wasn't the case in this situation. We couldn't ignore each other. We were thrown with each other and you



might say in each other's hair every day. If I said something to you that you considered insulting, or you said something to me that I considered insulting, there would be no exchange of apologies for a day or two. We were just like children. We would conduct ourselves just like it hadn't happened. You wouldn't do that in normal life. But we did it because there was practically no alternative. It was a hard situation.

As I said, we arrived in Manchuria around the middle of October, 1944. To get to Manchuria we left Formosa and went to Japan, where we remained probably a couple of weeks. We stayed on Kyushu, the southern island of the Japanese group. From Japan we went to Pusan, crossing the Tsushima Strait on Armistice Day, 1944. We commented that on the original Armistice Day, November 11, we had been allies of Japan and vice versa. Now we were the enemies of Japan. Of course, they didn't make any concessions at that particular time. As we crossed on the ferry we observed a few minutes of silent prayer at eleven o'clock. The Japanese knew we were doing it.

We remained at Pusan for a very short while, less than twelve hours. We were issued some winter clothes because we were going north. We had some overcoats, some winter underwear, helmets, and gloves. We were issued some of this on the train as we left Pusan. We went up north through Seoul to Pyongyang and on to the Yalu River. We crossed the Yalu River into Manchuria. Once we got to Manchuria we went through Mukden to a place called Zhengjiatun, which is approximately one hundred miles north of Mukden. We were very cold there. We were detained and forced to listen to a long harangue from the commander of the new camp. I remember how cold it was standing there. Then we marched to a stone building that had been an old army barracks a good many years back. We occupied this barracks from November of 1944 to about May 1945. We then moved from there down to Mukden, where we



joined a good many of the enlisted men. This probably swelled the overall population of the camp to seven or eight hundred. There were all ranks there. The enlisted were mingled in with the officers.

Donald R. Lennon:

They didn't treat you any differently?

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

In some sense they did. The officers were not working at this time, but the enlisted men were. They were working in the factories in the machine shops. They were working in and around Mukden and were given some extra food for doing that. We weren't given any extra food. We remained there for the remainder of the war.

Finally, we discovered—and the Japanese had their way of knowing—that the war was just about lost as far as they were concerned. We had some troops, a very small detachment of troops, to drop in by parachute, and later on we received some supplies sent by parachute and by dropping cases out of a low-flying bomber. From then on we got an entirely different ration than we had had before. This was around the middle of August in 1945.

It was around the tenth of September when I left Mukden. Some of the higher-ranking officers left before we did. As I've told you, General Bluemel left earlier. Then, a good many of the sick were taken out. I was fortunate in being as well as could be expected. I was one of the last to move out. From Mukden we moved by train down to Dairen on the Yellow Sea. There we saw this hospital ship, the RELIEF and the first thing we did was to take all our clothes off and take showers and get into pajamas.

It was a very, very emotional scene as we got aboard the RELIEF. There were a lot of nurses on board. These were the first American women we had seen in a good many years. Some of them were pretty and some of them weren't, but they all looked pretty to us. We were



just awfully glad to be there. They were very nice to us. It was a very nice trip from there down to Okinawa.

When we got into Okinawa, we just happened to hit there in the middle of a typhoon. We had to remain at sea for an extra twelve to twenty-four hours. There were a couple of other ships that were with us. One of the ships ran afoul of a mine. Some people were hurt. Luckily, those that were on our ship got there without incident. I will never forget that when we got to Okinawa, I had a music bag and a guitar. I laid them down for a few minutes and I haven't seen either one of them since. Somebody stole them.

Donald R. Lennon:

This was the guitar that had been issued to you by the Japanese?

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

That's right. I got it for some of the yen that was supposed to belong to me. We got in there during the night. During the darkness, we were moved to an airport. We were boarded on a C-47. We flew down to Manila. From then on, it was a question of trying to get passage home.

Donald R. Lennon:

Well, you mentioned that your living quarters were stone barracks when you were living up in Manchuria. Can you say something about the type of billets you had. Did they have beds? How many beds per building?

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

This particular place had beds with very lumpy mattresses filled with straw. As a matter of fact, I think you could fill your own mattress. If it was too lumpy, then, it was you own fault. You smoothed it out any way you could. They had Russian stoves that heated the barracks. They were called...we pronounced it pachika. I think the spelling is maybe pachika. We pronounced the word with two syllables. They were made of some kind of earthenware, something similar to porcelain. It was very heavy porcelain. Given the reasonable type of fuel to go in them, I think they would have been very efficient. We had a very low grade if coal. It



had an awful lot of sut in it. It was very hard to start it burning and hard to keep it burning. But we managed to do it.

Donald R. Lennon:

Did they give you a sufficient supply of coal?

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

Such as it was. The quality left a lot to be desired, but the amount was plentiful. We did not actually freeze during the cold winter. We didn't have a thermometer, but a lot of the people who had lived in the cold climates established and estimated that the temperature was somewhere in the neighborhood of forty below zero. We managed to keep a fire going. Sometimes it was not a very good fire. Sometimes, we slept with everything we had on. As a matter of fact, we only had one suit of woolen underwear, and I wore mine all winter. So did most of the others. There were times when we took a bath, but we didn't have a chance to wash out our underwear, we would just put them right back on.

Donald R. Lennon:

What were the facilities for bathing?

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

They had an outbuilding that had a big common bath. It wasn't as big as a swimming pool, but it was much bigger than an ordinary bathtub. I would say probably ten or twelve feet by maybe sixteen or twenty feet long. That's a very wild guess and it may not be entirely accurate. We were required to sponge off or rinse off before we got into this communal bath. They wanted your body to be as clean as possible before you got into the tub. Then, when we got in there, it was filled with hot water, and this felt very relaxing to us. We would bathe in there. We would use such soap as was available, which was not much, but we had a little bit.

Donald R. Lennon:

Were you free to bathe with regularity that you chose?

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

There were times when we had a bath once a week. That didn't happen very often and it didn't happen after we got down to Mukden. But at times, we did have the opportunity to bathe once a week. You might say it was one of the bright spots of the prison experience.



Donald R. Lennon:

What about vermin?

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

I wasn't bothered with many. There were a few times. I can tell you a little about the vermin in World War I, but I don't seem to remember much about vermin there.

Donald R. Lennon:

Was the climate cold enough to eliminate the bedbugs and other things?

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

I guess that's what it was.

Donald R. Lennon:

Maybe that discouraged them.

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

Now in Formosa, the climate was very mild, but I don't recall any bedbugs. My impression of vermin is more or less negative. We didn't have the same facilities for bathing in Formosa that we had in Manchuria, but we were able to sponge off quite frequently. We had a wash trough and the water was fairly plentiful. We didn't have any hot water that I remember, but we didn't need any hot water especially. We were able to keep fairly clean in Formosa.

Donald R. Lennon:

Well, you mentioned that you had beds up in Manchuria. Was this true of the other places?

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

At one place on Formosa we had beds and in another we slept on the floor.

Donald R. Lennon:

On a pallet?

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

Yes. Then, we had the typical cylindrical pillow that the Japanese rest their heads on. It was not very comfortable, but it was probably better than nothing. It was filled with something like chaff from the grain. I doubt if it was anything edible because had it been, we probably would have eaten it. It was probably the husk from grain, oats, barley, or wheat.

Donald R. Lennon:

You mentioned Red Cross packages in the context of trying to trade cigarettes and cigars for salt. What was the situation with Red Cross packages? Did you receive them to any degree?



Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

In the whole time that we were prisoners, I think we received probably eight or ten Red Cross packages. Then we had to share them with other people. They contained maybe a canned food product and a can of klim. Do you know what klim is? Powdered milk. Its milk spelled backwards. Then there would some cigarettes and there would be some anti-scurvy pellets that were supposed to prevent scurvy. We would divide these things. There would be a can of corned beef in there that you would learn to enjoy thoroughly. After awhile, they began to issue the corned beef and canned foods already opened or already punctured. We found out that one of the reasons for doing that was to prevent our hoarding it for a possible escape try.

Donald R. Lennon:

Where in the world would you have escaped to in Manchuria?

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

Lord knows! Even that was no more impossible than escaping from Formosa, because there was no way we could have taken to the water. If we had escaped from camp, all we could have done would be to have escaped to the center of the island. There was sort of a hilly ridge there that ran down the center of the island. We were told—I don't know if it was true or not—that that area was inhabited by headhunters. We weren't very favorable to taking to the hills under those circumstances.

General Wainwright was a rather human individual. He said something that we found a little bit amusing at one time. He was called to a meeting with some of the senior officers of the British, Dutch, and Australians that the camp commandant had called. When he came back he got a bunch of us together and told us he had been told that if any of us escaped they were going to shoot him (Wainwright). In other words he would be the hostage. He said, “Don't escape,” but then he smiled and said, “But if you do, take me with you.” We, of course, gave considerable thought to the possibility of escape because it is something that a prisoner always has in the back of his mind. But there just wasn't any way. They seemed to make it impossible



for us. There were some pretty resourceful people there, and we agreed that it would have been very unwise.

Donald R. Lennon:

Suicide.

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

That's right.

Donald R. Lennon:

I know that in Europe, the prisoners of the Germans received Red Cross packages on a regular basis every few weeks. In the Orient, was your not receiving these packages due to the Red Cross not sending them or the Japanese not accepting them or intercepting them?

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

Well, we believed that the Red Cross packages were there. The Japanese intercepted them. They used a good portion of them. I don't know why, but they gave us some of them. I don't know whether it was for propaganda purposes or what.

Donald R. Lennon:

Maybe they were afraid that if they didn't give some of them to you, they would probably stop sending them.

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

That's probably correct. Also, they might have way back in the back of their minds anticipated the fact that they might not win the war, and there might be some reprisals for stealing them. In addition to the Red Cross parcels, we got some British shoes. I remember those British shoes because they could be worn on either foot. Of course, if you wore them on the right foot long enough, they would take on the shape of that foot. But, to start with, they looked just like a boat or canoe. Also, we had some socks that didn't have any heels. It was a long cylinder with a toe at the end and you put your foot in the shoe and pretty soon you had made a little heel of your own. It took the shape of your foot. I don't know whether that was commonplace with the British issue.

Donald R. Lennon:

Believe it or not, that type of sock is very popular with children nowadays.

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

Is that right?



Donald R. Lennon:

I have a 3 1/2-year-old son, and he has several pairs of them. They call them tube socks.

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

Is that right? Well, I suppose they don't do your foot any harm. I notice that most of the socks you get today are the stretch type where you can get them to stretch to the size of one's foot.

Donald R. Lennon:

What about trading? Was there ever any opportunity to trade with the Japanese or to trade with the prisoners of other nationalities or this type of thing?

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

Yes, on a rather limited basis. There was an opportunity nevertheless. In some camps that we heard of, there were better opportunities than there seemed to be in our camp. I guess every Japanese sentry had his price. If you gave him enough inducement, like a wristwatch or something like that, he could probably give you some food for it or something.

Donald R. Lennon:

Where would you get a wristwatch?

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

Well, I had one for awhile. I had one that I had to get rid of because it had been stolen from the Japanese. I used it for awhile, and then decided that it would be a risky thing to hang on to. So, I got rid of it.

Donald R. Lennon:

I remember you said in your last interview that they stripped you of such things when you were captured.

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

That's right. That's a good question. Some of the people managed to hang onto wristwatches. I don't know how, but maybe they were not subjected to the same type of treatment that we were. We lost everything. We lost our money, our jewelry, and our military insignia. Strangely enough, some of the people were able to hang onto these things. I remember this British officer had a little teapot that he carried along with him. He could get a little hot



water, and strangely enough, the Japanese would make tea available most of the time. They loved it themselves and it was plentiful, and they would let us have it.

But there was trading, particularly for money. If you had any money, you could get something from the Japanese. Of course, when we got the Red Cross packages, there was also trading among the prisoners of war. I remember one fellow who would give you almost anything for a pack of cigarettes. I smoked a little bit, but I decided I didn't like cigarettes that much so I decided I would quit smoking and trade cigarettes. There was a Japanese product that came in a can; it was dried fish flakes. It was a very nasty tasting stuff. But I figured it had some nourishment in it, so I traded my cigarettes for that. I took this very watery soup and put the fish flakes in it.

Around the camp in Formosa, I found some of the bushes infested with big snails. Well, I collected some of the snails and made a snail stew out of them. I got someone in the kitchen to do it for me. It was not very tasty, but it was all right.

Donald R. Lennon:

It needed a little seasoning.

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

Right. We didn't have any seasoning and it tasted very flat. But, anyway, I think it had some nourishment in it. I might have gained some strength for it. Who knows.

Donald R. Lennon:

Well, what about correspondence from home? Were you allowed to write home or receive mail from home?

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

We were allowed to write about four or five letters the whole time we were there. The number of words was always limited. There wasn't anything that we could say. It was a pretty rigid censorship. You couldn't tell them where you were, you couldn't mention the war, nor could you mention any of the names of your associates. They told a story—I don't know whether it is true or not—about one of the British officers who wrote a letter. He said something



about the weather and then said, “I can't tell you anything about the location of this camp; I can't mention the state of the war; I can't tell you any of the names of the people that are in the camp with me; and the food is also unmentionable.” He got across the fact that it was pretty bad. There wasn't much that you could tell in a letter except that you could prove to them that at one time you were alive. I got very little mail, maybe five or six letters during the whole time.

I got a package from home that had been thoroughly ransacked by the Japanese. There was very little they had let through. I had been sent some vitamin tablets, some pipe tobacco, some underwear and such, and some soluble coffee. None of the soluble coffee was there. Most of it had been ground into an undershirt that I had gotten. There was a pair of rank insignia; one of them was there and the other was missing. I think about all I got was the label on my box and a few vitamin pills that had been subjected to some rather severe heat and had run all over the place.

The letters that I got were two or three from my wife and two from my daughter. I got a couple from people I didn't care if I heard from or not—they seemed to get through. Other people got more mail—about eight or ten times as much as I did.

Donald R. Lennon:

I know there were some American officers who were in prison actually in Japan itself who got lots of mail and were able to get photographs and, perhaps, even send photographs.

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

Yes. I think perhaps in Europe the prisoners of the Germans were allowed to get much more mail.

Donald R. Lennon:

Well, how did your wife go about addressing a letter to you?

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

I think the Red Cross put out information on it. I forget now exactly how it was directed, but I know there was some mail I got on a ship called the GRIPSOM. It left the States in August



of 1943 and we got it just before VJ-Day in 1945. It had gone by way of Formosa. It was this package I told you about.

Donald R. Lennon:

Almost two years.

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

That's right. I remember I was called into this warehouse. There was a kind of board acting as sort of a table or counter. Behind this board was a Japanese sitting there. In front of him, he had this box sitting there, or what had at one time been a box, of things that my wife had gone to some pains to pack for me. There was nothing there but a rank insignia and some pipe tobacco and some vitamin pills. Then, of course, there was the label. I still have that label somewhere. I kept it as a souvenir. I remember I was very, very miffed over the whole deal. I couldn't have cared less if I had gotten any of it since it had been so thoroughly ransacked. I said to this fellow, which was stupid of me because they didn't respond to any kind of sarcasm, “Do you mean to tell me that all of this is mine? I can have it all?” “Oh, yes,” he said, “It is every bit yours.” What I had meant was as far as I was concerned he could have had what was left. I didn't want it. But, as I said, they were unpredictable people. Sometimes some people got packages almost intact. It just happened that I was unlucky. There were a lot of others who were unlucky, too.

Donald R. Lennon:

Can you think of any other points that we have overlooked? I think we covered the actual capture and Death March thoroughly the first time. We have an overview of your imprisonment.

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

Well, we had some opportunities for recreation such as it was. I got this guitar. I'd always wanted to try to play a guitar, anyhow. Even as a college student, I'd played a little bit. I never was any good at it. I never was very adept at playing this one, but I got much better at it than I ever had before because I had more time to practice on it. There were a couple of violins,



a mandolin or two and some more guitars; and we got together. I can't say that we made very pretty music, but we made some music together. In fact, I was very much surprised one time when we were playing in one of the wings that was occupied by the American colonels in Formosa, and either one of the Canadian officers or maybe one of the Australian officers was listening to us and said, “Why don't you come down and practice in our wing sometime?” I thought, “Well, if you really mean it, we'll be glad to do it.” We were glad to give anybody any pleasure, even if it was just the fun they had from seeing how sorry we were. It was sort of a change of pace. We played down in their place several times. We gave several concerts. We got up a quartet and did a little singing. It wasn't too good, but it was the best they had. We also had some playing cards and would play a little bridge. We also played pinochle and cribbage. We had books, too.

Donald R. Lennon:

Were these furnished by the Japanese?

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

No. The Japanese didn't furnish any books. Strangely enough, when the Dutch joined us in Formosa from the Netherlands East Indies, they brought a good many books, and a great many of them were in English. I remember that we had some Scott, Dickens, and a great many of the classics. In fact, I remember reading the Tale of Two Cities while I was there. I enjoyed it greatly. I had read it as a required reading in school, but I must say I hadn't entered into the spirit. I wrote my report and let it go at that. But, this time, I really enjoyed it. There were several other books that I should have read before and some I had read in sort of a halfway fashion, and I was able to enjoy them. We had a library, not a large one, but it had some very select books. We could thank the British for some of them and the Dutch for a great many. So, we had some opportunities for recreation.



We had church services, too. You know the Church of England had this prayer book, which is like the prayer book in the Episcopal Church in this country, and we reconstructed it with the help of many of the British. We also constructed a hymnal. One person might remember “Onward Christian Soldiers,” and someone else would remember another hymn. I would remember some of one, and someone else would remember pieces of another, and we would put it together like that. We had an Australian chaplain with us. I don't know whether the Roman Catholics had any priests present with us in the group, but a good many of them conducted their own religious services. We conducted several funerals while we were there.

Donald R. Lennon:

Most of those dying, was it of natural causes, or what?

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

Most of them died from malnutrition and the like. One very good friend of mine was in very bad health. You know the deprivation that we were subjected to affected different people in different ways. He was not too robust anyway. I remember he died on the fifteenth of August, 1945. He had been with me a lot. I had seen a lot of him, and we had been talking about just “hanging in there until we get home again.” He was a little pessimistic about it, and he didn't make it. A couple of those things were pretty sad. But, most of us stood it fairly well. One person who died was afflicted with some sort of nutritional edema. He was all swollen. I supposed the swelling just encroached on his vital organs and he died.

Donald R. Lennon:

As the end approached and the Japanese saw more and more that they were being defeated, did they ever attempt to take their frustrations out on you ranking officers—the general officers and the field grade officers?

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

It is pretty hard to say if they ever took anything out on us particularly, but they would become very harsh in their rules and regulations and the enforcement of them at different times. It affected different ones in different ways. One might, knowing that he was to eventually lose



the war, attempt to ingratiate himself. Another might take out his frustration by being very, very mean and harsh.

Donald R. Lennon:

I was thinking the higher the rank, the more likely they'd be to take out their frustrations on someone like Wainwright and then those right on down.

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

That was true in some cases, but I wouldn't say that it was a uniform way. The way we discovered that the war was over was through rumor. You know everything seemed to be fed by rumor. Some of the rumors turned out to be true and many of them turned out to be false.

Once, right at the end, we heard that there were several new faces—American or rather Occidentals—seen in the camp. It turned out that that was true. It happened that a crew of some four or five had parachuted into the area and had been taken prisoner by the Japanese and brought into the camp. They expected that to happen. Then, of course, by talking to the Japanese—some of them had been chosen because they spoke Japanese—they discovered that the Japanese knew that the war was coming to a close.

Then, it was rumored that one of these new arrivals in camp was seen sitting down in the same room talking to the camp commandant. That was unheard of. Prior to this time, if you ever talked to one of the Japanese, you were standing up and he was sitting down. You never talked to one of these Japanese while you were sitting down, too. That rumor also proved to be true. He was talking to him and was sitting there and smoking a cigarette. That was unheard of. Finally, it developed that they had come in and convinced the Japanese of something that they already knew—that the war was coming to a close. Pretty soon after that, you might say, there was a change of control of the camp from the Japanese to our people.

Donald R. Lennon:

You were more or less operating it yourselves, just waiting to be rescued.



Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

That's right. You may recall that the Russians got into the war about the first week in August. When they finally came into Mukden, we had already taken over the camp, but they went through this rather spurious procedure of releasing us. They went through the act of freeing us, although at that time, we were already released; we had already freed ourselves. But they wanted to get credit for doing it.

It was rather odd the way some of the American soldiers felt toward the Japanese. Many times you would hear a soldier say, “If I had the opportunity, I would kill that fellow. I would cut his heart out.” But, once the opportunity presented itself, they rejected it. There was one occasion when one of the American soldiers had been very badly treated by one of the Japanese guards. When the Russians found out about it, they got the Japanese guard and then came and got the American soldier. The Russians handed the American a pistol and told him to shoot the Japanese guard. The American turned around and said, “Let him go.” And, he told the Russians to let him go. He had a certain amount of ill-will towards this Japanese, but he didn't want to kill him. I don't know exactly why that was, but maybe he felt that it wasn't the civilized thing to do. Sometimes, we think we are going to do one thing and we get the chance to do it, and we don't do it. Maybe that's the way it went.

Donald R. Lennon:

Was language much of a barrier? Did you learn any of the Japanese, or did any of the Japanese guards speak English?

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

No. I learned a number of Japanese phrases. I learned to count in Japanese. We had two or three of our officers who could interpret for us. They could speak Japanese and English. Then, there were a few of the Japanese who spoke fairly good English. There were not too many of them, however.



Donald R. Lennon:

Were your guards always Japanese or did you have a few of them who were Korean or Manchurian?

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

Well, we always had some Japanese. But when we left Formosa and went to Manchuria, we found some of our guards came from the Japanese detachments that had been stationed in Manchuria. We found that they were a bit more considerate than the previous Japanese sentries we had had. We found the Japanese in the Philippines, the fighting soldier, had very intense feelings of animosity toward us immediately after our surrender, and several very tragic things happened at that time. But afterwards they seemed to show some respect as one fighting soldier to another. Then, when we got to the change of the guard in Formosa, one might say back in the service of supply, they were a little bit harsher towards us than in the combat zone. Then, we got a different reaction from the Manchurian guards. They were a little more reasonable towards us. They didn't treat us as somebody to be hated, but just somebody they had to retain in captivity and see that they didn't get away. It was more a business-type relationship.

Donald R. Lennon:

Do you have any further observations on World War II on your prison experience?

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

I can't think of anything right at the moment that will add anything further to the prison experience.

As I've told you before, the two cavalry regiments that were formed from the 11th Cavalry were the 22nd and the 23rd. Each two cavalry regiments were combined to form one field artillery regiment. The 22nd and the 23rd formed a field artillery regiment. It was a horse field artillery regiment. We went through all the field artillery training in fire control—that is the direction of fire—and the training of the regiment in horse maneuvers. We also had equitation training.



Pretty soon, we began to wonder about when we were going to get to France, because everybody wanted to go to France. Then, we got word about the formation of the machine gun battalions. They were called—perhaps the British originated the term—“Suicide Squads.” Of course, we were young and foolish at the time and it seemed to capture our imagination. We wanted to join the machine gun battalions.

About this time I transferred from the field artillery into infantry. I was assigned to the 57th Infantry originally. From there I transferred to the 17th Machine Gun Battalion, which was a portion of the 11th Brigade of the 6th Division. I beg your pardon. I said the 57th Infantry . . . the 51st and 52nd infantries and the 17th Machine Gun Battalion formed the 11th Brigade. The 53rd and the 54th infantry regiments with the 18th Machine Gun Battalion formed the 12th Brigade, and these two brigades formed the 6th Division.

I found that much of my field artillery training was a big help in enabling me to direct the fire of machine guns, because much of the fire control is based on the same principle. I don't know whether we would have gone over sooner had we remained with the artillery regiment or not, but, anyway, in July 1918 our regiment was shipped out from Chickamauga Park, Georgia, to Camp Mills on Long Island. From there, we embarked on a British ship by the name of Royal Mail Steam Packet DESNA and we sailed for Europe. The first thing we did was to rendezvous just off the coast of Nova Scotia, where the captain of our ship went ashore and received sealed orders in the city of Halifax. From there, we proceeded to a rendezvous point at sea with our convoy.

We proceeded to France and landed in the latter half of July at Le Havre. After a couple of days at a British rest camp, we proceeded to De Vosges by train in boxcars with forty men and eight horses in each. At De Vosges we took part in a little training behind the lines and then



went into the Vosges Mountains. We remained in the Vosges Mountains in the trenches for perhaps three or four weeks. Then we came back and indulged in some more training behind the lines until maybe a week or two before the end of the war. This was in the latter part of October 1918.

We were ordered into the Meuse-Argonne Offensive and we saw a little action there. At this particular time, the Germans were in such full retreat that we were not needed at that particular place, so we were taken out of the lines and ordered to proceed by marching to a point just east of Verdun. We complied with those orders. Before we reached the point where we were to go into the line east of Verdun, the armistice occurred on November 1918. The war was over.

I was with the 6th Division. The 6th Division did not see a great deal of action compared with a lot of the other regular Army divisions. But, never having seen any action at all, we thought some of it was rather interesting. Of particular interest was running into some of the German rear guard actions in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. We came under fire a number of times from their machine guns and small arms. Many times we came under fire from field artillery. We also were in one of the very unusual bombing raids. It was not a bombing raid that you would envision by today's standards, but they had the improvised bombs that they would drop from the planes.

Donald R. Lennon:

They would drop them over the sides, did they not?

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

That's right. The pilots would drop them over the sides. They didn't have a bomb bay in those days. They also didn't have the sophisticated bombsights. But they did drop these bombs from the planes and they were very lethal wherever they happened to hit.

Donald R. Lennon:

Were they incendiary bombs?



Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

No. They were just fragmentation bombs. Another thing that the Germans did in our movement in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive was to leave booby traps behind. For example, they would leave a hand grenade in a little pile of wood. It was very cold and the temptation to build a fire was very great. If you built a fire out of this pile of wood and stood around to warm your hands and body, pretty soon the hand grenade would detonate and there would be some wounded. We lost several soldiers in that particular way. Pretty quickly we learned to be very careful what we did. For example, one of the things they did was to wire the keys of a piano to a bomb. Then, if somebody went into this house and saw this piano and was playing on the keys, it would detonate a bomb. There were so many ways that booby traps were left behind. We learned very quickly to be very suspicious of anything inviting that the Germans had left behind.

After we were taken out of the Meuse-Argonne and moved laterally to the east of Verdun, we saw no more action at all. After that, the rest of it was just waiting for an opportunity to get home. We didn't get home until the following year around the middle of 1919.

Donald R. Lennon:

You weren't involved in occupational duties?

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

Oh, yes. I forgot to mention that. We were in the Army of Occupation in Germany for a relatively short while. We had a group of mules as our transport. We turned our mules over to the French before we moved into the Army of Occupation in Germany. We moved up there without our animals. We were there for a reasonably short while—maybe a month—and then we loaded on the boxcars and came back. We sailed for home from Brest.

After the armistice it was possible to take a leave since the war was over. As many as were permitted to do so headed for Southern France. That looked very inviting. If you've ever



been over there, you know how attractive it can be. We were down around the Mediterranean. All of us headed for Nice, Toulon, and places like that.

Everybody wanted to go see Paris. When we were in Paris in April 1919, President Wilson was over there. I remember I wanted very much to get a wire or cablegram home to my family telling them that everything was all right and that I was alive. All of the cables were interdicted by news machines sending reports of what Wilson was doing. One of the newspaper people here in Fayetteville got hold of it and wrote an editorial saying that you could get a news item about President Wilson's silk top hat and his ascot tie and other sartorial decorations, but this young lieutenant who wanted to tell his family he was safe was denied the right to use the cables to do that. In other words, he was giving a protest against the bureaucracy. It was an interesting experience. I was only over there from July to the following year. It was about a year.

Donald R. Lennon:

One of the great fears of the American soldiers during World War I was mustard gas, was it not?

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

Yes. I was never in a mustard gas attack. I remember when I went into the Argonne I passed through a small French town that had recently been saturated with mustard gas. In fact, some of our people got burned by the mustard gas because they were either lying in it or sitting in it. In other words, the ground was contaminated by it.

I was in a chlorine gas attack at one time. The gas masks back in those times were a little bit more primitive when compared to the ones today. The thing that you put in your mouth was pretty much like the old football nose guard, and there was a clip that you put on your nose. It got a little bit tiresome after awhile, but when you thought of the alternative, you didn't mind keeping it on.



Donald R. Lennon:

What kind of gas was this?

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

Chlorine. I think chlorine, mustard, and phosphine gases were used. There were probably others, but I've forgotten. I remember when we were in the trenches, we were bombarded with artillery and received quite a saturation of chlorine. It was a rather trying time. I think we kept our masks on for about six hours. Six hours can seem pretty long when you've got that thing pinching your nose. Also, the saliva was running all over your mouth piece. It got a little bit messy, but it would have been even messier than that if one hadn't had the gas mask.

Donald R. Lennon:

Well, the pictures that you see of World War I battlefields show the mud and artillery mired down in it. Is that pretty much reflective of the situation?

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

Yes. It was a very accurate picture. In moving forward in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive...first of all they had taken our mules away from us. We were moving our machine guns and machine gun carts forward by hand, which was trying on the troops. In addition, most of the roads leading north and south were taken over by the artillery. We were not permitted to use the roads and actually moved across the countryside, and some of the going was kind of rough. We were trying to move these carts across very muddy fields and it was rather difficult. My recollection of some of those fields was that they were pretty deep in mud and the going was pretty slow. Another thing was that we were moving rather rapidly for the reason that we were not meeting any resistance. The Germans were withdrawing almost at full-speed. Also, we were moving away from our supplies, so the food situation got pretty critical for awhile.

I remember one time we passed what we thought was a turnip field, but they turned out to be white beets. Of course, they are not quite as edible as turnips. We were rather disappointed at that.



Donald R. Lennon:

I imagine that area had been so overrun that living off the land was pretty much impossible.

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

That's right. We were surprised to see this field of beets practically untouched. Maybe that was the reason that they were untouched, because the white sugar beet is not really edible. I don't know how it could be cooked, but I certainly didn't do it.

Then, of course, there were dead lying all over the place. When you would go through a town, you would find a lot of causalities. Most of the wounded had been removed, so most of the bodies were already dead. It was something that was a little strange to most of us.

Donald R. Lennon:

Were these American, French, civilians, or a combination of all of them?

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

Most of these were Germans. Apparently, there had been a thorough saturation of gas on some these towns. You could see a number of the dead had their masks in their hands like this. They died in the process of adjusting their gas masks.

Donald R. Lennon:

Well, was this gas spread by the Germans on their own troops?

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

I think most of it was probably spread by our troops. In other words we were mobbing into their areas and into areas that we had gassed. At least, that was my impression. It was an experience none of us had ever had before. We had been warned that we were apt to run into some situations like that.

I remember one town—I have forgotten the name of it now—where we were billeted and told to spend the night. At the time, we were told that the Germans had not yet withdrawn from that town. We ran into a little resistance. We had to fight our way into the town. It wasn't very difficult to do, because the Germans were on their way out anyhow. As I said, the Germans were fighting a rear-guard action. They would leave the machine gunners back just to slow down the advance of the enemy. We had several casualties as a result of that. Not too many, however.



Donald R. Lennon:

Fighting wasn't near as hard as it was later in the Philippines?

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

Oh, no! We didn't have the sophisticated weapons for one thing. There were some places in the Meuse-Argonne region, for example, where we would be beyond the range of small arms fire, and there wouldn't be any danger from that. We would be under artillery fire, but the likelihood of getting killed by the artillery fire was nothing like the chance of getting killed by small arms fire—the machine guns and rifles.

Donald R. Lennon:

Well, what was the attitude of the German people during occupation?

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

Surly. On several occasions we had a retreat formation in which we would bring down the flag to the music of a bugle. I don't think we had any field music except the bugle. We'd play to the colors. Either because they didn't recognize our bugle call or didn't want to, we would have to require the Germans to stand up and take their hats off and show a certain amount of respect to this thing which was played in lieu of the national anthem. I think perhaps we got a little sadistic delight in doing that. We were young and maybe it was our fault. We had a little trouble with them but not very much. Maybe they felt the same way that we felt about it. They did not give in too gracefully,

Donald R. Lennon:

Were there any reprisals or abuse given to the German people or troops by the Americans or French that you observed?

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

No, I didn't notice any.

Donald R. Lennon:

I would think that the French would have been more inclined that way.

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

Well, yes. I didn't have too much experience with that. The French, of course, feared the Germans, I guess, much more than the rest of us. They had been taught to fear them. They had always looked upon the Germans as a sort of threat to them. This was with reason. We never had felt that way about them. But, I really don't know; I can't tell you too much about that. I



guess during the war, before the Germans surrendered, during the German occupation of France, there was an awful lot of hostility. But I really don't know what the French did.

Donald R. Lennon:

I was thinking there may have been some method by the French of reprisal against the way that they had been treated.

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

There are, of course, a lot of stories about the brutality of the Germans—the way they treated babies and the old people and the way they raped women and all that. I suppose there is a certain amount of truth to it, but I couldn't say from any personal experience.

Donald R. Lennon:

Who were the ranking officers that you were under in World War I?

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

General Pershing was the commander in chief of the American Expeditionary Force. The 1st Army was commanded by General Robert E. Lee Bullard. The 6th Division was commanded by Major General Walter Gordon. The 7th Machine Gun Battalion was commanded by a major who is now retired as a four-star general, James A. Van Fleet. He was a very fine fellow and had a very fine World War II record and a very good World War I record. He was a member of the Class of 1915 at West Point and a rather well-known football player. He was the big burly type. He was a wonderful fighting soldier. He was a man who didn't get excited; he kept his head under very trying conditions.

Donald R. Lennon:

This is what I was wondering about...any impressions that any of them made upon you there as a young officer in your first encounter with battle.

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

Yes. There were times when we were not operating as a whole battalion. I always happened to be with C Company of the 17th Machine Gun Battalion. We were attached to one of the battalions of the 52nd Infantry under Major Charles C. Herrick, a classmate of General Van Fleet, and who, temporarily during this period of attachment, was in command of my company. My company was supporting his battalion. It seemed to work out very well. In defensive sectors



oftentimes the battalion would be operating as a cohesive unit of putting down its interlocking bands of fire and firing its barrages and so on while supporting the infantry. But, in the assault or in the attack, oftentimes a company would be attached to an attacking battalion and would support the battalion that way. I suppose there were other ways of doing it, but that was the way we did. I'm trying to think who the commanding officer of the 57th Infantry was, although I can tell you the commander of the battalion to which we were attached. I don't remember too many of the higher ranking officers in World War I.

Donald R. Lennon:

Did you see Pershing at any time?

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

I saw him once. He inspected our battalion which was in formation as a part of the division. We didn't get a very close look at him, but we got a glimpse of him. Everybody was looking forward to it, because he was a very, very awesome individual—a man of a great deal of personality. He was a very famous person. I think that we hoped to see him, but we didn't want to see too much of him. You know what I mean.

Donald R. Lennon:

Are there any other incidences or encounters that come to mind?

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

We were in the trenches in the Vosges Mountains and when we were relieved and moving out, we passed a little Red Cross installation in which they were passing out bouillon. They gave each soldier a little drink of bouillon in his canteen cup and a bunch of crackers. Then, a little bit further along the line we passed a YMCA installation where we got some cookies and some hot chocolate. It was very welcome to the soldiers, because we hadn't had anything like that for some time.

Most of the food that we got in the trenches were dried vegetables, what they called desiccated vegetables. They were used because they packed so compactly. You could saturate



them with water and boil them and they almost came to life like fresh vegetables. We hadn't had any of the niceties like we got from the Red Cross and the YMCA.

We went back from there and into a rest area expecting to be recalled into the line again. Finally, in October of 1918, we were ordered into the Meuse-Argonne.

Donald R. Lennon:

This was mostly mopping up?

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

Yes. You could call it that because the war was almost over by that time. The enemy was in full flight. We weren't meeting any resistance.

We came home in June of 1919. We landed back in Newport News. I forget the name of the camp there; it's been so long ago, but from there we went to Camp Grant, Illinois, where we remained for a little while. A good many of the troops were mustered out of the service there. I wanted to remain in the regular army and was allowed to remain in. Then, in 1919, I went on organized reserve duty. I was stationed in Milwaukee and met my wife and married her. I started a family and making a life for myself in this service.

Donald R. Lennon:

Yes, we touched on this in our other interview.

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

Very soon after I arrived in the Philippines, much to my dismay and disappointment, I was made the school's officer for the post of Fort McKinley. I had hoped to be assigned to the 57th Infantry or one of the regiments. I was assigned to the 57th Infantry but actually was on special duty as the school's officer. Just before the families were evacuated back to the U.S., we had a graduation from the American elementary school. There were three members of the graduating class. The actual graduating class graduated at the eighth grade level. They were Gail Wilson, Frank Loyd, and Edmund (Ted) Lilly III. All three of those boys eventually ended up in the Class of 1950 at West Point. Frank and Ted were killed very quickly in Korea in 1950, very soon after they graduated from West Point. Gail Wilson survived and became a lieutenant



colonel and commanded a battalion in Vietnam and was killed there in a helicopter crash. I don't know whether that was coincidence or the hand of fate or what.

Anyway, as I told you a few minutes ago, I was on an inspection trip in 1951 or 1952 at Fort Smith, Arkansas. I guess it must have been June 3, 1952. I was having some work done in a barbershop and talking to this young shoeshine boy. He asked me what my name was and I told him. He had just seen a copy of Look magazine for June 1952 and had seen my boy's picture in there. It was surprising because there were a number of other people pictured in there from the Class of 1950. But, it was rather observant of him, I thought, to connect my name with that of my boy's picture.

I also had the questionable privilege of writing my boy's obituary for the Assembly magazine which the U.S. Military Academy publishes from time to time. I think the only thing that is really noteworthy about the whole thing is that there were these three boys who were graduated from the eighth grade from McKinley, went their separate ways, and finally ended up in the Class of 1950 at West Point. Now, they're all battle casualties.

Donald R. Lennon:

All in Asia.

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

That's right. I can't help commenting on the trials and tribulations of an Army wife and an Army mother. Take my wife, for example. She wondered about me for about a year and a half while I was a prisoner of war and carried as missing in action (MIA). No one in this country knew if I were alive or dead, least of all my wife. Then, after having gone through all this, she had to go through it with her son again. They say the men fight the wars; well, the women certainly bear the brunt of it.

Donald R. Lennon:

I imagine it is extremely rough on the family . . . just the idea of separation for the periods of time that are necessary during wartime.



Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

An Army wife had to put up with mental hardship. She not only has to say good-bye to her husband when he goes on maneuvers, but when it turns out to be the real thing and not maneuvers, she may have to say good-bye to him permanently.

Our boy, for example, was married a couple of days after his graduation from West Point. He and his little bride came down to Fort Sam Houston, where we were stationed, and spent part of their honeymoon there. Then, he said to me one day, “Dad, I don't believe the military academy knows where I am.” That was after he had heard that the police action had started in Korea. He said, “What do you think I ought to do?” I asked him, “What do you think you should do?” He said, “I think I should tell them where I am.” So, he wrote a letter, and very soon after he wrote this letter, his leave was cancelled and he was ordered to report to his regiment in Fort Louis, Washington. From there, he went overseas, and we never saw him anymore. Of course, one wonders what would have happened if he had never told them where he was. You don't know. Maybe he satisfied his own idea of what he thought was the right thing to do. Well, you can't second guess it. His wife was from El Paso. He left Fort Sam Houston with his wife and went to visit her folks in El Paso. It was at that particular point that I got the message about his leave being cancelled and had to call him in El Paso and tell him that. From there he went to Fort Louis and the rest is history.

Donald R. Lennon:

Have you had any contact with her since your son was killed?

Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr.:

Oh yes. She is remarried. She married a young officer who was well known to my boy. He was in the class ahead—the Class of 1949. He has been stationed out at Bragg. They have children. All the children call us Grandmother and Granddaddy Lilly. She has been just like a daughter to us.

[End of Interview]

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