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A recent find with a somber and potent story behind it


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#1 Capt.Confederacy

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Posted 17 May 2018 - 01:46 PM

I’m sure we’ve all heard the phrase, “Collectors are the custodians of history”, and it is true, especially when dealing with military-related items.  Some historical items hold such power that even non-collectors and non-history buffs can easily recognize their significance such as an Iwo Jima medal grouping or a battle-worn “doughboy” helmet or a captured enemy flag inscribed with the names of the US unit members who captured it.   However, it isn’t just these things that can hold such power and tell a potent story.  Sometimes, it can be a simple thing like a battered postcard.

 

On a trip to a small antique store a few days ago, I was digging through a booth that had quite a few paper items like photos, stereo-cards, etc.  One heavily-battered, yellow postcard caught my eye, and I recognized it to be a PW postcard.  Given I collect war-related postal items (among other things) and given how rare PW things are, I was immediately interested in it.  Seeing Japanese symbols on it and a US censor stamp, I initially thought that it belonged to a Japanese soldier in a stateside US PW camp.  Upon closer inspection, however, I saw that it was NOT from a Japanese soldier but from an AMERICAN soldier being held by the Japanese.  I have never come across such an item before in my collecting, so I purchased it and took it home to see if I could find anything about the soldier via the University of Google.  I learned the following about the letter sender (a sergeant named Troy) and his brother Clyde:  (Note that I pieced this together from a variety of free online sources including period newspapers, Roger Mansell’s POW website, and other places.)

 

Troy and Clyde (both originally from Carlisle, Pennsylvania) were in the Army and were both stationed in the Philippines during the outbreak of WW2.  They were at Corregidor when it fell to the Japanese and were initially reported missing in the chaos by Pennsylvanian newspapers, but both turned up later in Japanese custody.  Troy, who was a sergeant and a member of the Medical Department, was first sent to Japanese Prisoner of War Camp #1 (Cabanatuan) for the remainder of 1942, and it was here I believe the listed postcard I found was mailed.   He was transferred on January 31, 1943 to Japanese Prisoner of War Camp #3 (Bilibad).  At both places (as described in the 1-24-47 issue of the “Harrisburg Telegraph”), he aided fellow prisoners as best he could under horrible conditions and various disease outbreaks. 

 

As for the eventual fate of the brothers, Clyde was loaded on a Japanese ship, the Oryoku Maru, in December of 1944.  The ship was attacked by US planes, but the assault was stopped after the pilots realized that there were prisoners on board.  The ship was later sunk after all prisoners were safely off the vessel.  Clyde was then loaded onto the Enoura Maru and, while the ship was docked at Formosa, was killed in a US bombing attack on the ship.  As for what happened to Troy, according to Roger Mansell’s website, he was executed at Bilibad in January, 1945.  There is no reason given as to why this happened.  Neither of the brothers’ bodies was positively identified.  After the war, Troy’s mother was given posthumous medals for Troy’s service which included the Bronze Star.  (Presumably, she would have also been awarded posthumous medals for her other son’s service as well.)

 

Moving to the postcard itself, as could be expected, the content is sparse.  Furthermore, I seriously doubt the sergeant’s health was good given the mistreatment Japanese troops inflicted on US PW’s.  Of course, the Japanese wouldn’t permit any prisoner to tell the truth of the conditions in the PW camps.  Also, it’s possible that Troy himself might not have told the truth of what his health was really like to avoid worrying the folks back home.  I am unsure of the identity of the woman to whom Troy wrote.  It wasn’t his mother or a sister.  Perhaps she was a childhood friend or a neighbor.  Whoever she was, though, she had to be someone of great importance to him to warrant a letter from a Japanese prison camp.  I am unsure how many other postcards he sent.  Sources vary on how many cards the Japanese would permit prisoners to send, but it likely wasn’t too many.  Even then, it’s unlikely that they all made it stateside.  It is indeed sobering to think that the postcard that I held might have been the last piece of correspondence sent by this hero.

 

Below is the postcard, both front and back.  It is a simple yet potent reminder of a soldier who never made it home.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

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#2 Capt.Confederacy

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Posted 17 May 2018 - 01:47 PM

And the back of the postcard.

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#3 KASTAUFFER

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Posted 17 May 2018 - 02:00 PM

Thanks for posting this piece of POW postal history. Its a subject I hold near and dear to my heart. I also collect it.

Here is a website that has a lot of examples of this type of Philippine POW card.

http://www.philippin...n_Foreword.html

Kurt

#4 Thor996

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Posted 17 May 2018 - 02:37 PM

nice catch, those are hard to come by.



#5 Garandomatic

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Posted 17 May 2018 - 02:41 PM

Wow...

#6 Cap Camouflage Pattern I

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Posted 17 May 2018 - 03:47 PM

great one, and good research



#7 aznation

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Posted 17 May 2018 - 07:38 PM

Found this with Troy and Clyde's names in it.  It's no longer available on Ebay, but I thought you might want to see it.

 

https://www.ebay.co....=p2047675.l2557

 

1944 Carlisle, PA Program for Honor Roll Dedication WWII - NAMES IN LISTING!

 

This is an original 18 page program to the dedication of the town's honor roll in Carlisle, PA that was held on May 21, 1944. The honor held the name of all the people in the area who were serving in WWII. The event was arranged by the Lions Club Military Affair Committee composed of Lester W. Hobaugh, John C. Rasp and Nelson L. Sheaffer.

 

The roster of men and women in the Armed Forces (Each man has a separate listing, but we are combining everyone with the last name to save typing time):

 

Handshew - Clyde & Troy W.

 

 

 

 

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#8 aznation

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Posted 17 May 2018 - 08:00 PM

Source:  https://archive.org/...ournal_djvu.txt

 

Full text of "Kentner's Journal: The War's Most Incredible Document"

 

Note:  “tenko” is Japanese for muster.  Also, SMO below is Senior Medical Officer.

 

1-12-45: The Japanese this date took four stretchers and forty mail

bags from Camp. Radio Electrician TRUMAN H. TURNIPSEED, U.S. Navy,

returned this date by the Japanese from Communication detail. B-24s over

Manila this morning. Continued explosions heard and many fires seen in

Manila area. Japanese sentries appear to be much more friendly and also

seem quite worried over Luzon situation. At 2140 the Japanese held tenko

of camp due to sounding of alarm buzzer, Japanese very confused during

this tenko. During tenko HANDSHEW, Troy W # , Staff Sergeant, Medical Dept.,

U.S. Army was taken from Camp without reason for his abduction being given

by the Japanese. He was allowed to take his toilet gear with him.

 

1-14-45: U.S. planes over Manila this morning. The Japanese this date

informed the SMO that HANDSHEW was taken by the Japanese Military Police

for questioning regarding a plot at the Prison Camp at Cabanatuan, P.I.

WAGNER, John J, Staff Sergeant, U. 13 . Army, ASNs 6953591, (Air Corps) died

at 1100 this date. Cause of death: Dysentery, Autopsy held. Burial

services held, Buried in new plot - grave V-A. KWI6TK0WSKI, Joseph

Stanley, Private first class, U.S. Army, ASNs 20600414, died at 1245 this

date. Cause of death: Beriberi; malnutrition. Autopsy performed. Burial

services held. Buried in new camp plot-grave VII-A, U.S. planes bombed

Port Area, Manila at 1415. Camp Census: 819. Small arms fire heard about

Manila during night.


Edited by aznation, 17 May 2018 - 08:01 PM.


#9 hardstripe

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Posted 18 May 2018 - 05:04 AM

resized_Veteran Compensation Appl res.jpg I found a Veteran Compensation Appl on Ancestry



#10 hardstripe

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Posted 18 May 2018 - 05:07 AM

and this on for Clyde

 

 

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  • resized_Veteran Compensation Appl clyde res.jpg

Edited by hardstripe, 18 May 2018 - 05:08 AM.


#11 hardstripe

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Posted 18 May 2018 - 05:12 AM

And found this on Findagrave:

 

PFC Clyde H Handshew
Birth - 2 Oct 1921 - Carlisle, Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, USA
Death - 9 Jan 1945 (aged 23)
Burial - Manila American Cemetery and Memorial
Manila, Metro Manila, National Capital Region, Philippines
Plot - Walls of the Missing
Memorial ID - 56767579

 

Pfc. Clyde R. Handshew was held as a POW in the Philippine Islands. In December 1944, he was boarded onto the Oryoku Maru for transport to Japan. The ship sailed on December 13th and came under attack from American planes on December 14th. As evening approached, the attack was called off. The next day the planes returned and continued the attack. When the pilots saw the large number of men climbing from the ship’s holds, they realized the ship was carrying POWs and called off the attack. After the POWs were off the ship, the attack resumed and the ship was sunk by American planes at Subic Bay, Philippine Islands, on December 15, 1944. The surviving POWs were boarded onto the Enoura Maru which sailed on December 27th and reached Takao, Formosa, by the New Year. While docked it was bombed by American planes on January 9, 1945, killing many of the POWs. Handshew was killed in the attack on the ship. On January 12th, the bodies of the dead were removed from the ship and buried in a mass grave on Formosa. After the war, the remains that could not be positively identified were reburied at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, Hawaii.



#12 Capt.Confederacy

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Posted 18 May 2018 - 05:48 PM

Thanks, guys, for the extra documents. They are incredible, especially the piece from Kentner's Journal.

#13 aznation

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Posted 18 May 2018 - 07:23 PM

Publication: Harrisburg Telegraph

Location: Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

Issue Date: Friday, January 24, 1947

Page: 26

 

Receives Citation - Mrs. Ruth M. Handshew, 234 East High street, recently received from the War Department a copy of the citation for the award of the Bronze Star Medal to her deceased son, Sgt. Troy W. Handshew, which gave her the first, details of the service for which the awards were earned and in which he met death while in the service of his country in the Pacific Theatre. The list of awards received by Sgt. Handshew is: 1. Legion of Merit Posthumous Award; 2. Legion of Merit; 3. Legion of Merit, Oak Leaf Cluster; 4. Bronze Star Medal; 5. Bronze Star Medal, Oak Leaf Cluster; 6. Bronze Star Medal, Redivision of Award. Following is the citation for the award of the Bronze Star Medal Sgt. Troy W. Handshew, Medical Department. United States Army For meritorious achievement in connection with military operations against the enemy in the Philippine Islands from June of 1942 to October 14, 1944. Serving with a hospital in Military Prison Camp No. 1. Cabanatuan, Phillipine Islands. Sgt. Handshew rendered outstanding service to his fellow soldiers over a prolonged period despite the difficult conditions. During the first few months, the death rate assumed alarming proportions due to a diphtheria epidemic as well as frequent outbreaks of dysentery, malaria, beriberi, and pneumonia, yet Sgt. Handshew repeatedly exposed himself to the ravages of these diseases and by his unflinching loyalty to the patients prevented what might have become a wholesale decimation of American prisoners of war. Handicapped by a completely inadequate medicinal supply and starvation rations, he worked untiringly and loyally to curtail the physical and mental deterioration which was becoming apparent among the diseased prisoners. He courageously continued to carry out his assigned duties while suffering from hunger, illness and exhaustion. By his dauntless spirit of self-sacrifice, untiring devotion to duty and unwavering courage in the face of increasingly disheartening conditions. Sgt. Handshew was instrumental in saving the lives of many comrades, and his unselfish service exemplified the highest traditions of the United States Army Medical Department.


Edited by aznation, 18 May 2018 - 07:24 PM.


#14 Pegasus6

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Posted 23 May 2018 - 09:42 AM

amazing... Thank you for sharing that.

 

-Peg6



#15 Brig

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Posted 11 June 2018 - 02:07 PM

Interesting. I went to high school in Carlisle, quite familiar with High Street.



#16 Simon Lerenfort

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Posted 22 July 2018 - 09:17 AM

Somehow the monetary value of this item pales into insignificance in contrast to the huge emotional pull it has on the fate of the family involved. Glad you were able to obtain it and share their story here. Lest we forget.


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