Memoir of a Civilian POW
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December 15, 1999
Below is a transcript of the sixth and last part of our interview with Mr. James Allen. Questions are in italics. Links to the sound files are in QuickTime format (see the righthand column for more information). Our sound files are provided in two versions, "Good" or "Better." The former is a faster download, but of lower quality than the latter.

What happened to you and your fellow prisoners at that point [after the war was declared over]?

Well, we stayed in the barracks. Wasn't nothing else you could do. They had guards there, I guess to keep the people away from us, or I don't know what. Everything went along, only thing was we didn't have to go to work.

Were you fed and taken care of?

Oh yeah -- well, we had our own kitchen. They just give us the food and we had to prepare it. So -- I don’t know, it wasn't too long after that, why -- well, then on Wednesday, I remember, just two nights later, there was a half a dozen of us. We decided to wanted to take -- it was dark -- we wanted to go downtown and see what it was like. So we went, took a walk. And of course, we could speak a little Japanese, and -- one place we stopped in a barbershop, went in there, and we had a big time in there talking with the Japanese, no problems whatsoever. We just kept walking and finally, we decided maybe we'd been gone far enough -- we went a long ways, and the only lights in town was just a little, about a 60-watt light bulb hanging out in the middle of the intersection. That's all the lights there was. So we turned around and started back, and I got thirsty. So we went by a hotel -- I could see in the lobby up there, it was wooden steps up, so I went in, and one of these little bells you ding, I dinged that. And here come a little Japanese girl out. Well, she came out, I bowed to her, she bowed to me, and I told her I wanted some "mizu," or water. She went and got it, brought it to me. I thanked her, in Japanese, and bowed to her, she bowed and left, and I drank the water and went outside and that's all there was to it. [Laughs.]

It was amazing how -- and the prisoners was the same way, that's another amazing thing. The Japanese people, the way they were and the American prisoners -- there was no fights, no arguments, no nothing that I know of. One time it come back to camp there'd been a bicycle stole down where we worked. And then, it wasn't a while longer that they said, well, the bicycle'd been returned. You just can't believe what happened, really. It was unbelievable.

But then it was the night of -- let's see, it was the Fifteenth [of August] the Emperor spoke. One half of the group where I was at left on a passenger train for Tokyo on the night of the Fourth of September. I left on the night of the Fifth of September to go to Tokyo, overnight ride on a passenger train. And then of course all the stuff that I took just to go overnight to Tokyo [was] in the line of food and one thing or another because it'd just been falling down from B-29's and what have you. Really wasn't very safe around there when they started dropping that food. [Laughs.]

So, anyway, it was unbelievable the amount of food that I took with me, and a couple of wool blankets, you know, I don't know -- Red Cross wool blankets, then got down there and threw a lot of it away. They told us to. The Japanese Army, Navy, and what have you -- I never got rid of anything, they had to take it away from me -- I finally got that way. But then when I got down to our military people, I believed them. They said they's going to give us all new clothes and what have you, you know, and so I started throwing a bunch of stuff away. And I regretted it every since -- I'm still mad about it. [Laughs.] I believed them. [Laughs.]

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