Living in the Shadow of a Hell Ship: The Survival Story of U.S. Marine George Burlage, a WWII Prisoner-of-War of the Japanese

Living in the Shadow of a Hell Ship: The Survival Story of U.S. Marine George Burlage, a WWII Prisoner-of-War of the Japanese

by Georgianne Burlage

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U.S. Marine George Burlage was part of the largest surrender in American history at Bataan and Corregidor in the spring of 1942, where the Japanese captured more than 85,000 troops. More than forty percent would not survive World War II. His prisoner-of-war ordeal began at Cabanatuan near Manila, where the death rate in the early months of World War II was fifty men a day. Sensing that Cabanatuan was a death trap, he managed to get transferred to the isolated island of Palawan to help build an airfield for his captors. Malaria and other tropical diseases caused him to be sent to Manila for treatment in 1943 (a year later, 139 of his fellow POWs were massacred on Palawan). After another year of building airfields, Burlage survived a 38-day voyage in the hull of a Japanese hell ship and ended the war as a miner for Mitsubishi in northern Japan. By sheer luck, strength, and a bit of sabotage, he survived and was freed in September 1945 after the Japanese surrendered. He had endured starvation and torture and lost half of his prewar weight, but no one had killed him. After the war Burlage became a journalist and wrote about his POW experiences. His daughter Georgianne discovered his writings after George passed away in 2008, and edited them with additional historical material to provide context for his World War II experiences in the Pacific.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781574418170
Publisher: University of North Texas Press
Publication date: 09/15/2020
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
File size: 11 MB
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About the Author

Georgianne Burlage, daughter of George Burlage, is a fifth-generation Texan and teacher of secondary history and journalism for more than thirty years. She is a national officer of the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor Memorial Society, and lives in Denton, Texas.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations ix

Editor's Introduction: The Recruiter Didn't Mention This Possibility 1

Prologue 25

Chapter 1 Country Boy 27

Chapter 2 Travel, Adventure, Romance 35

Chapter 3 The Good Life 39

Chapter 4 Paradise Lost 49

Chapter 5 Corregidor Bound 55

Chapter 6 Surviving the Dartboard 63

Chapter 7 After Surrender 71

Chapter 8 Manila to Cabanatuan 83

Chapter 9 No Thanks, Cabanatuan 131

Chapter 10 Working for the Emperor at Palawan 135

Chapter 11 What We Did to Them 143

Chapter 12 Back to Bilibid 151

Chapter 13 The Worst Camp 157

Chapter 14 Living in Hell 169

Chapter 15 Beginning Another Year 179

Chapter 16 The Last Camp 185

Chapter 17 Restarting Life 199

Afterword: A Descendant's Journey 207

Tributes to George Burlage: The Quiet Heroism of George Burlage 217

Thank Yous 221

Background Information on POWs 223

Bibliography 225

Index 227

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