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Captured: The Forgotten Men of Guam

Captured: The Forgotten Men of Guam

5.0 2
by Roger Mansell, Linda Goetz Holmes

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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 the attack on Pearl Harbor, Guam was


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 the attack on Pearl Harbor, Guam was bombed and the Japanese invasion soon followed.

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

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

Product Details

Naval Institute Press
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Barnes & Noble
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2 MB

Meet the Author

Roger Mansell: founded the Center for Research of Allied POWs Under the Japanese, which has become a crucial resource for families WWII POWs in the Pacific Theater and researchers. He died before he could complete this book.

Linda Goetz Holmes: completed Captured after Roger Mansell’s death. The first Pacific War historian appointed to advise the government’s Interagency Working Group declassifying documents on World War II crimes, she is the author of Guests of the Emperor: The Secret History of Japan's Mukden POW Camp

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Captured: The Forgotten Men of Guam 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago