Captured: The Forgotten Men of Guam

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In the years before the outbreak of the war in the Pacific, Guam was a paradise for the Navy, Marine and civilian employees of Pan American Airways, who found themselves stationed on the island. However their apprehension about the fate of the island increased as they anticipated a Japanese attack in the fall of 1941. Shortly after attack on Pearl Harbor, Guam was bombed and the Japanese invasion soon followed.. Since Guam was not heavily fortified it soon fell to the invading ...
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Captured: The Forgotten Men of Guam

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In the years before the outbreak of the war in the Pacific, Guam was a paradise for the Navy, Marine and civilian employees of Pan American Airways, who found themselves stationed on the island. However their apprehension about the fate of the island increased as they anticipated a Japanese attack in the fall of 1941. Shortly after attack on Pearl Harbor, Guam was bombed and the Japanese invasion soon followed.. Since Guam was not heavily fortified it soon fell to the invading Japanese.

In the takeover of the island, the Japanese practiced a swift brutality against the captive Americans as well as native population, and then immediately removed the American military and civilian personnel to Japan. Only a lucky few escaped, including five Navy nurses and dependent Ruby Hellmers and her baby Charlene, who were transported back to America aboard the Swedish ship Gripsholm in mid-1942.

In Captured, Mansell tells the story of the captives from Guam, whose story until now has largely been forgotten. Drawing upon interviews with survivors, diaries and archival records, Mansell documents the movements of American military and civilian men as they went from one Japanese POW camp to another, slowly starving as they performed slave labor for Japanese companies. Meanwhile, he describes the brutal horrors suffered by Guamian natives during Japan's occupation of the island, especially as the Japanese prepared for American forces to re-take this U.S. possession in 1945.

Moving stories of liberation, transportation home, and the aftermath of these horrific experiences are narrated as the book draws to a close. Mansell concludes that America's lack of military preparation, disbelief in Japan's ambitions in the Pacific, and focus on Europe all contributed to the captivity of more than three years of suffering for the forgotten Americans from Guam as the Pacific War raged around them.

Captured was completed by historian Linda Goetz Holmes after the death of Roger Mansell. .

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"The strength of the work is that the author interviewed many ex-POWs and recorded their stories first-hand. For every particular event of interest, for every unit involved, military or civilian, he seems to have at least one firsthand account. Often Mansell quotes directly from his interviews or from the diaries the POWs kept while in captivity. This provides a lot of interesting information and detail which make the book a gripping read. But in addition to collecting oral history from the survivors, Mansell has backed this up with thoroughly researched archival material which is well used and documented in the endnotes."

-Pacific Affairs

"The contents of this book are difficult to read, but they are worth remembering and serve to fill a curious gap in World War II history. Hopefully this book will receive the audience it deserves and make sure that the struggles of the men of Guam are not forgotten."

-- Naval Historical Foundation

"After so many years, it's surprising that World War II still has some untold stories. In fact, a couple of the 'forgotten men of Guam' have published memoirs, but those are long out of print. In Captured, Roger Mansell brings their stories together with useful background and the results of what was apparently a great deal of personal research. The result is an interesting account of some of the first prisoners of the Pacific war and their tribulations...a valuable collection of reminiscences... Captured conveys the atmosphere of the camps and the men's perceptions clearly enough to make it very enjoyable and rewarding reading."

--The Asian Review of Books

"In the days of shock and horror that followed Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor, another monumental event, occurring almost simultaneously, was largely overlooked: Japan's bloody seizure of the strategically critical island of Guam. For the American troops, civilians and native people captured in the invasion, so began an epic ordeal. The Americans were shipped off to be slaves for the Japanese, while the natives remained behind to endure four years of brutalities under their captors. Roger Mansell, the pre-eminent historian of Pacific POWs, devoted the last years of his life to unearthing and telling this forgotten story, and after his death, the work was completed by his colleague, the esteemed POW author Linda Goetz Holmes. Chronicling a lost chapter of World War II, Captured promises to be an authoritative, fastidiously researched and compelling read."

--Laura Hillenbrand, author of Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption and Seabiscuit: An American Legend

"Roger Mansell worked tirelessly to research and document the stories of American POWs in the Pacific during World War II. His efforts give us a better understanding of the great service and sacrifice of these heroes. The stories he tells are a tribute to the warriors who defend us."

--Oliver North

"Roger Mansell's Captured is a beautifully written, richly researched account of the fall of Guam and a searing reminder of the horrific ordeal suffered by American prisoners of war at the hands of the Japanese."

--John A. Glusman, author of Conduct Under Fire: Four American Doctors and their Fight for Life as Prisoners of the Japanese, 1941-1945

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781612511146
  • Publisher: Naval Institute Press
  • Publication date: 11/15/2012
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 330,809
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Roger Mansell was born in 1935 in Brooklyn, New York. After graduating from Mepham Highschool in Wantaugh, NY, he attended Brown University. Commissioned in the U.S. Army Artillery, he was stationed in Korea then at Fort Bliss, Texas. Having completed his military sevice, in 1962, he moved to California and a successful business career. It was to be the deep impression made upon him by an employee who, as a child, had been a prisoner under the Japanese during WWII, that set him on a course to discover more about the war.. When he met a veteran who had been taken prisoner by the Japanese on Guam, Mansell realized that many of the ex POWs, now elderly, had never told anyone about their experiences in what was a crucially important part of the history of the war in the Pacific.

After he retired from a career in business in the 1990s, he began researching the allied POWs of the Japanese, a gruesome story that had been largely buried in inaccessible archives. Over more than twenty years, he made multiple and extended visits to the National Archives Modern Military Records in College Park, MD, and to the Hoover Institution Library and Archives, as well as military historical centers, scanning and photographing thousands of documents that had never before been been centralized or complied.

Since the beginning of Mansell's project, his chief goal was to compile a database of more than 100,000 records to document what happened to every Allied soldier who was captured by Japanese forces during the war. Approximately 90 percent completed at the time of his death in 2010, this vast database contains information on when soldiers were captured, where they were interned, and whether they died or were repatriated at the end of the war, as well as the conditions of their captivity.

He founded the Center for Research Allied POWs Under the Japanese which posted the research on its website, That website has been turned over his colleague, Wes Injerd.

He turned his retirement into a full-time job not only undertaking research and elaborating the website, but assisting the hundreds of people who came to his website looking for information about what had happened to friends, fathers, grandfathers, and others. As one result of his research, Mansell has helped several families locate the remains of soldiers who were missing in action during the war; he has also frequently been consulted by researchers around the world seeking information about individual soldiers or the camps in which they were interned.

Linda Goetz Holmes, completed Captured by editing Roger Mansell's work, She was the first Pacific War historian appointed to advise the government s Interagency Working Group declassifying documents on World War II crimes. The author of Guests of the Emperor: The Secret History of Japan's Mukden POW Camp, Unjust Enrichment: How Japan's Companies Built Postwar Fortunes Using American POWs and 4000 Bowls of Rice: A Prisoner of War Comes Home, she lives in Shelter Island, NY.

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Table of Contents

Prologue vii

Acknowledgments ix

1 Last Days of Paradise: Summer 1941 1

2 Japan Attacks 16

3 The Japanese Invasion 27

4 The, Japanese Occupy Guam 39

5 Voyage into Prison 46

6 Those Left Behind: The Chamorros and Military in Hiding 52

7 Zentsuji: The First Months 59

8 Civilians in Kobe 75

9 Life in Zentsuji 82

10 Labor at Zentsuji 92

11 Transfer to Osaka 99

12 The Doolittle Raid 105

13 Hirohata #1: Home for the Eighty Eightballs 111

14 The First Christmas in Japan 125

15 The Men of Bataan and Corregidor Arrive 128

16 Hirohata #2: A New Camp and POWs from the Philippines 133

17 Tanagawa 143

18 Chikko: The Osaka Main Camp 147

19 Osaka-Umeda: Wartime Experiences 150

20 Thirty-Seven Months in Hell 155

21 Rokuroshi 161

22 Pathways to Hell 165

23 The End Nears 172

24 The End Comes 182

25 Operation RAMP: The Return of Allied Military Personnel 188

26 Operation Magic Carpet: Home Again 198

Afterword 203

Addendum 207

Notes 211

Bibliography 247

Index 251

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 29, 2014

    High praises for Linda Holmes and Naval Institute Press for publ

    High praises for Linda Holmes and Naval Institute Press for publishing Roger Mansell's valuable work.  
    This book belongs in every library that has an American history collection.  It will also be extremely valuable to
    families of the men who were captured on Guam but who were reluctant to talk about their POW experiences. 

    B&N was especially helpful to make available the online preview with its searchable database.  Before I
    purchased the book I found out that my uncle, Edward E. Hale, had been mentioned 14 times!   Roger
    Mansell had contacted me several years ago requesting permission to quote from my uncle's memoirs,
    which I had edited and published under the title FIRST CAPTURED, LAST FREED; MEMOIRS OF A P.O.W.
    IN WORLD WAR II GUAM AND JAPAN.  Mr. Mansell told me he found Ed Hale's book to be like an anchor
    of reliability, because his detailed first-hand experience was written objectively, without the exaggeration that
    some other survivors tended to employ.  Even when he was reporting second-hand information, Ed Hale
    conscientiously reported that it was TOLD TO HIM. That testifies to the integrity of both Mansell and Hale.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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