Pvt. Albert Bland Moore
Pvt. Albert B. Bland Moore was born on July 15, 1920, in Mackville,
Kentucky. He was the son of Robert L. Moore & Gertrude
raised in Mercer County with his five brothers and three sisters. He
was known as "Bland" to his family
and friends. With his friends, William
Gentry, Robert Brummett, Maurice Collier and Cecil Van Diver, he joined
the Kentucky National Guard.
In the fall of 1940, Bland was called to federal duty when his tank company was federalized as D Company, 192nd Tank Battalion. In January 1941, he was transferred to Headquarters Company when it was formed with men from the four letter companies of the battalion.
In the late summer of 1941, Bland's battalion was sent to Louisiana to take part in maneuvers. It was after these maneuvers, at Camp Polk, that the battalion learned they were being sent overseas. Bland returned to Harrodsburg on leave and married Bessie Louise Carter on August 20, 1941.
Traveling west by train, the battalion arrived in San Francisco. They were ferried to Angel Island in San Francisco Bay. While on the island, they were given physicals and shots. They then sailed for the Philippine Islands.
On December 8, 1941, Bland lived through the Japanese attack on Clark Field. During the attack, Bland was delivering lunch to members of the tank crews at their tanks. As he drove, his truck was strafed by a Japanese Zero. Bland got out of the truck with his machine gun. He took cover behind a tree and leaned against it for leverage. According to Bland, the Japanese planes made a figure eight over the airfield. All anyone had to do was aim at a certain spot and keep the gun aimed there. He took aim and fired at the plane. To his own amazement, he hit the plane which went down in flames.
After the attack, Bland looked around the airfield. One of the sites he would always remember was the site of the trucks carrying men who had lost arms and legs during the attack.
Bland spent the next four months working to keep the tanks running and supplying them with ammunition and gasoline. The morning of April 9, 1942, Bland and the other members of the company received the word of the surrender. He and the other members of HQ Company remained in their bivouac for two days before they were told to move by the Japanese.
Bland and his company made their way to the road that ran near their camp. Once there, they were ordered to kneel facing the road. They also were told to place their possessions in front of them. As they knelt on the road, Japanese soldiers took what they wanted from the prisoners of war.
HQ Company was ordered to go to Mariveles. Since they had trucks, Bland and the other men road to the barrio. Just outside of the town, the POWs were ordered off the trucks. They were sent to the airfield and told to sit.
While Bland and the other men sat waiting at the airfield, Japanese soldiers began lining up across from them, the POWs quickly realized that the Japanese were forming a firing squad. Bland and the others waited to see what would happen.
A Japanese officer in a staff car pulled up to the Japanese soldiers. He got out and spoke to the Japanese sergeant in charge. The officer got back into the car and drove away. The sergeant ordered the Japanese soldiers to lower their guns.
Bland and the other POWs were ordered to move. They were taken to a schoolyard and again told to sit. This time they found themselves n front of Japanese artillery firing on Corregidor and Ft. Drum. The Americans at the two American forts returned fire resulting with shells landing among the POWs. Some of the prisoners were killed.
Bland and the other POWs were ordered to move again. This time he had begun what was known as the death march. Bland was in pretty good shape when he started the march and took it in stride. He helped carry other men too weak to continue on their own. For Bland, one of the worst memories he had of the march was watching Americans die. Those men who fell were bayoneted.
At one point on the march, Cecil Van Diver fell out and sat down on the side of the road. Van Diver could not go on and had decided that he would sit and wait to be killed. Bland came up to him, with Pvt. Earl Pratt, who was also assigned to HQ Company. The two men picked Van Diver up and carried him between them until he could walk on his own.
At San Fernando, Bland was put into a boxcar with other POWs. Those who died remained standing because they could not fall to the ground. At Capas, they disembarked and walked the last few miles to Camp O'Donnell.
It is known that Bland went out on a work detail to escape Camp O'Donnell. The detail rebuilt the bridges the Americans destroyed as they retreated into Bataan. On this detail, he worked a jackhammer. Because of the nature of the work and the poor diet, Bland lost wait and grew weak. As time went on, he found it harder and harder to operate the jackhammer, so he attempted to get out of working. Bland placed his arm between two blocks of wood and hit it with a crowbar. All that happened was he injured the arm and had to continue to work.
The commanding Japanese officer of the detail was gave the POWs a great deal of freedom. While at Balanga, they were allowed to go anywhere in the barrio. They simply could not leave the barrio. This was the situation until the CO left for three days.
The Japanese officer who took command once the commandant was gone, decided that the Americans should be treated as prisoners. He ordered his soldiers to round up any POW not in the holding area. Bland and another POW whose name was Garcia were found outside the area. The Japanese tied Jack and Garcia to posts.
The third morning Bland called Grover Brummett over to him. He told Grover to tell his parents that he had never begged the Japanese for anything. This included his own life. When the Japanese officer came up to Jack a short time later, Bland stared him in the eye to show the officer that he was not afraid to die. To Bland's amazement, he was released and ordered to go to work. Bland never stated what happened to Garcia. When the detail ended, he was sent to Cabanatuan.
Bland recalled that death was all around him in the camp, and that he did what he could for the sick. "I fed men their last meals and gave them their last baths."
It is known that one of the men Bland was talking about was Jennings Scanlon from Harrodsburg. According to Bland, he and Earl Pratt found Scanlon lying partially in the slit-trench that served as the camp latrine. The two men pulled him out and bathed him until he was clean. They pulled together their food rations and fed him their best food. The next day Jennings Scanlon died.
Bland recalled that the Japanese started putting the POWs into groups known as "blood brothers." The idea was that if one man escaped the rest would be executed. Because of this rule, he twice witnessed the execution of POWs because of escapes.
Food became a issue for Bland and the other POWs. "The one thing on your mind was survival. You were like an animal. You would kill anything to eat - snakes, bugs whatever." During this time, his weight dropped from 185 pounds to 118 pounds.
At some point Bland violated a camp rule, he was tied to a tree for several days. He was then brought back into the camp and tied to a post. When the POWs were assembled, Bland knew he was going to be executed. Grover Brummett was falling in and realized that the man who was going to be executed was Bland Moore. He went up to Bland. Bland told Grover that he wanted him to tell his family that he had never begged the Japanese for anything.
The commanding officer, Lt. Col. Seigeji Mori, came up to Bland and began shouting at him in Japanese. Bland looked him in the eyes and smiled. This must have thrown Mori off because instead of executing him, he sent Bland out on the work detail. Later when Bland was assigned to the POW detail that cleaned Mori's quarters, Mori told Bland that the reason he did not execute him was that Bland had never shown fear.
Bland was selected for a work detail to Nelson Field. He and the other POWs were given the job of building runways with picks and shovels. With him on the detail were Lawrence Martin, William Peavler, and Joe Anness.
Sometime during his imprisonment Bland was sent to Bilibid Prison. He was given a physical and sent to Japan on the Noto Maru. The ship sailed on August 27, 1944 from Manila. After stops at Takao and Keelung, Formosa it arrived at Moji, Japan on September 4th. In Japan, Bland was first held a camp at Tanagawa. He remained there until March 28, 1945. During his time in this camp, the POWs built a dry dock for submarines.
Bland was next sent to Mukashima Camp when the camp closed. At this camp, he worked in a coal mine. It was from this camp that he was liberated in 1945. He was promoted to staff sergeant and discharged from the army on May 2, 1946.
Bland returned to Kentucky and married Bessie Louise Carter. He was the father of three children and worked as a sales representative in the steel industry. Bland and Earl Pratt remained friends for the rest of their lives. When Earl Pratt died, he took Pratt's death extremely hard.
Albert Bland Moore passed away on April 27, 2006, in Nicholasville, Kentucky, and was buried at Spring Hill Cemetery in Harrodsburg.