herbboyd                   Clan Boyd Society

                        Autobiography of Herbert Lee Boyd:
                                          WWII  POW

I was born at Bristow, OK on 30 September 1917 and enlisted in the Army Air Corps on 16 August 1940 at Fort McArthur, CA.  I went to bootcamp at March Field, Riverside, CA.  I was then sent to Weather School at McLelland Field, Sacramento, CA.  I was then transferred to the 93rd Heavy Bombardment Squadron of the 19th Bombardment Group.  I was then sent to open Albuquerque Air Base in April 1941.  In September 1941, I received sealed orders to report to 'Plum', which turned out to be Clark Field, Pampanga Province, Philippine Islands.  This turned out to be 'Plum to Hell'.  On 8 December 1941, approximately 10 hours after Pearl Harbor was bombed, the Japanese attacked Clark Field.  We lost 28 of our B-17's.  We retreated to the Bataan Peninsula on 25 December 1941.  We worked to help build an air strip until 5 February 1942, when we were sent to combat duty with the United States Air Force of the Far East (USAFFE).  We made our final stand at Vega Point, Mareveles until 9 April 1942 when General Edward P. King had no choice but to surrender us to the Japs.  We were promised a ride, but we ended up walking 88 miles to San Fernando, Pampanga Province.  Those who survived were shoved into a narrow gauge boxcar, 100 or more to a car, and hauled 50 miles North to Tarlac.  From there, we marched to Camp O'Donnell, a camp prepared for Filipino Constabulary prior to the war.  Malaria hit me again, and I volunteered for any detail to get out of that dump!  

We were then sent back to Bataan to load US armament for the Japanese.  I got sick again with Malaria and Dysentery.  The Japs then hauled me to Cabanatuan Prison Camp #1.  After going blind and surviving the farm and burial detail, I was then sent back to Clark Field.  This time, it was not like my earlier detail since we worked everyday except Yasume (Japanese for Sunday).  

In early 1944, I was hauled back to Cabanatuan #1 and shortly thereafter, they sent me to Bilibid Prison in Manilla.  On 1 July 1944, we were loaded on a captured Canadian freighter, which was christened the SS Canadian Inventer.  We had nicknamed it Mati-Mati Maru, which meant 'wait a minute'.  After 62 days at sea, we finally landed at Moji, Japan.  We marched across a railroad trestle to Simoneske, Honshu, Japan.  We boarded a train to Omine Machi, a Jap coal mine.  The Japs had used Russian POW's to work this mine back in 1906 as slave laborers.  For 11 months I worked in the coal mine, obtaining a knee and finger injury in December 1944.  I was the camp bugler and still have the Jap bugle I had used.  

I was liberated 15 September 1945 at Wakayama, Japan after 41 months, 8 days, and 7 ¾ hours as a 'Holio' (Japanese for prisoner).  I was honorably discharged 18 March 1946 at Camp Chaffee, in Fort Smith AR.  I received the following medals:

Good Conduct Medal with Clasp    
Asiatic-Pacific Theater Ribbon with 2 Bronze Stars  
WWII Victory Medal     
American Theater Ribbon
American Defense Service Ribbon with a Bronze Star
Philippine Defense Ribbon with a Bronze Star
USAFFE 45 Distinguished Unit Badge with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters
Purple Heart
AGO AG PE 1  29 January 1946

After my discharge, I became a furniture merchant.  I met and married my lovely wife, Lahure Gant on 3 November 1946.  We have 3 wonderful children,  Frank, Karen, and Debra Kay.  We have 5 grandchildren.  I retired after 35 years as an antique dealer. 

Life was always a pleasant surprise for me, and though, not a perfect child, I had perfect parents, both being ordained ministers.  I always knew I had a praying mother, even in my darkest hours, and because of that I was able to survive the worst hell a soldier could ever experience. 

Herbert Lee Boyd
10 August 1990

Contributed by Frank Boyd  
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