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Escape from Bilibid prison

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James Carrington has previously been interviewed by Tom Brokaw and for Oliver North’s War Stories. Carrington was born in New Orleans, Louisiana. He was one of nine children. All of his brothers were in the Armed Forces. He was raised in the Lakeview area of New Orleans. His father was superintendent of Tropical Radio Telegraph Company. They worked with all of the ships of the United Fruit Company and all of the radio stations from Argentina up through Central America. Carrington's father had been in the navy and came to New Orleans during World War 1. That is where he met and married his mother. Carrington’s father wanted him to go into the navy but he joined the Marine Corps instead. His older brother had joined the army and his younger brother had joined the Coast Guard. His youngest brother joined the navy. Carrington joined the Marines in July of 1939 because he knew war was coming and he wanted to get into combat fast. When he later arrived at Subic Bay [Annotator's Note: Subic Bay, Luzon Sea, Philippines] he saw an old ship named the Rochester [Annotator's Note: USS Rochester (CA-2)] anchored in the harbor. He went aboard and saw that the ship had old Springfield rifles. Carrington helped man a Lewis gun [Annotator's Note: Lewis .30 caliber light machinegun]. The ship’s first name was the New York [Annotator's Note: USS New York (ACR-2)]. When the Americans began retreating down the Bataan peninsula they sank the ship in the canal in an attempt to block the canal. The ship was sunk on 24 December 1941. Carrington was assigned to the 4th Marine Regiment. The Marines were attached to the navy gun boats in China. Most of the gun boats were scuttled.

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[Annotator’s Note: James Carrington enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 1939 and spent two years in China with the 4th Marine Regiment before being shipped to the Philippines in November 1941.] The Langley [Annotator's Note: USS Langley (CV-1) then (AV-3)], a sea plane tender for the PBYs [ Annotator's Note: Consolidated PBY Catalina flying boats] in the area was also in the Philippines. The only modern ships in the fleet were the Augusta [Annotator's Note: USS Augusta (CA-31)] and the Houston [Annotator's Note: USS Houston (CA-30)] which would take turns with the fleet on a two year rotation. The Houston was sunk during the Battle of the Java Sea [Annotator's Note: on 1 March 1942]. A Marine named Walter Bryce who was from New Orleans and who had gone through boot camp with Carrington was aboard the Houston when it sunk. The men who were rescued by the Japanese were imprisoned and in terrible shape when they were finally liberated. There were some other guys from New Orleans who also died from the effects of malnutrition. Carrington got to the Philippines about six days before the war began. The men knew that war was coming. Carrington even wrote to his family discussing it with them. The 4th Marine Regiment had been in China since 1913 in the International Settlement. The men were rotated out every 30 months. Carrington had been there for two years when ships arrived to evacuate them from China to the Philippines. Carrington got to Subic Bay on 29 or 30 November [Annotator's Note: 29 or 30 November 1941] and set up a beach defense. There were 80 naval transports that came into the bay after the war started. The Japanese landed at Linguyan Gulf and made their dash to Manila from there. The Japanese troops had been fighting in China for years. The Americans were untrained. Many of the Americans were from the Air Force. They were given rifles and sent to Bataan with the army. All of the planes at Clark Field [Annotator's Note: Near Manila, Luzon, Philippines] were destroyed by the Japanese so the airmen were sent to Bataan and used as infantry. The American submarines torpedoed some of the Japanese ships but the torpedoes did not work. The Japanese had better torpedoes. At Subic Bay the Japanese Zeros [Annotator's Note: Mitsubishi A6M fighter aircraft, referred to as the Zeke or Zero] came over. The planes were armed with bombs. Many of the Marines who had been in China for a while had souvenirs they planned to bring back to the United States. They were ordered to burn all of it. In Germany the prisoners of war were treated pretty well. Later in the war the Japanese hell ships were sunk by the Americans.

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[Annotator’s Note: James Carrington enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 1939 and spent two years in China with the 4th Marine Regiment before being shipped to the Philippines in November 1941.] Many of the Japanese hell ships were sunk by American submarines. The conditions aboard the hell ships were bad. In China human excrement was picked up by women with carts that the Marines called honey carts. The hell ships were so bad that it was a relief to be killed. Men would go crazy on them. According to Carrington over 10000 Americans were killed aboard the hell ships. Carrington was captured by the Japanese on Corregidor. The island was shelled for five and a half months and bombed every day. The men did not have radar but their dog Sou Chow would alert them when trouble was coming. There was even a book written about the dog. At first the antiaircraft gunners were not effective because the fuses on the shells were too long. When submarines brought in new shells the antiaircraft gunners knocked down a number of Japanese bombers. The Japanese landed on 5 May on Corregidor [Annotator's Note: 5 May 1942]. They went ashore on the lowest part of the island. The sailors on beach defense had come from the gun boats that had been lost. The Japanese turned and headed toward Malinta Tunnel [Annotator's Note: tunnel complex built by the United States Army Corps of Engineers on the island of Corregidor] where MacArthur's headquarters had been located. MacArthur, his staff, and his family left in March [Annotator's Note: March 1942] and went to Mindanao. B-17s [Annotator's Note: Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress heavy bombers] from Australia dropped off nurses and picked up MacArthur's group and flew them back to Australia.

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[Annotator’s Note: James Carrington enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 1939 and spent two years in China with the 4th Marine Regiment before being shipped to the Philippines in November 1941.] When the Japanese got to Malinta Tunnel an officer came out with General Jonathan Wainright's offer to surrender. General Homma [Annotator's Note: Japanese General Masaharu Homma] demanded that General Wainright surrender all troops fighting in the Philippines not just those on Corregidor. Colonel Wendell Furtig and many of the men fighting on Mindanao stayed in the mountains and fought on as guerillas. The guerillas made contact with Australia. Supplies were sent in by submarine to equip the guerillas. Carrington’s group sailed down to Mindanao in an outrigger to pick up a code book so they could also communicate by radio. Carrington's group was told to stop killing Japanese because the Japanese were retaliating against the Filipinos. The Japanese knew the villages that the guerillas came from. The army told the guerillas that they would be needed when the army landed. Carrington built an outpost in the mountains. The Japanese attacked his outpost one day. If Carrington had been unable to hold off the Japanese a number of high ranking people would have been captured or killed including the archbishop of Manila. Carrington held them off for eight days. Carrington had two .50s and a .30 [Annotator's Note: Browning ANM2 .50 and .30 caliber machineguns] and five men with rifles. Carrington had taken the machine guns out of a downed Wildcat [Annotator's Note: Grumman F4F Wildcat fighter aircraft]. He then buried the pilot. Carrington also got .50 cal ammo by taking it from the Japanese. There were a lot of Taiwanese in the Japanese army as well as Chinese and Koreans. When the Japanese advertised that they were setting up a new Filipino Army, 300 guerillas joined up. The first chance they got they killed the Japanese and stole the trucks. Carrington believes that guerillas cannot be beaten. When the Japanese would prepare to go out after the guerillas, a kid about seven or eight years old would take off and let the guerillas know. The guerillas could then set up ambushes. This is part of the reason why the guerillas were so effective. When Carrington was defending his mountain outpost he had set up his ambush site in a very narrow area and was able to stop the Japanese. One night Carrington was involved in a running gun fight during which he lost some of his guerillas. He had burned his outpost and was running down the mountain when he ran into Japanese tanks. The tanks passed him by and he and his men were able to get down the mountain and overrun the towns at the base of the mountain. Carrington was dressed in whatever he could find. He moved into Manila with the 37th Division [Annotator's note: unsure of the accuracy of this statement] which had arrived in the area. At the time Carrington’s group was attached to the 1st Cavalry Division.

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James Carrington's war started on 7 December 1941. He was a prisoner for two years. On 3 February 1945 he moved into Manila to help the city. General Yamashita [Annotator's Note: Japanese General Tomoyuki Yamashita] ordered the admiral commanding the troops in Manila to leave but they were trapped when American troops entered the city. The Japanese burned the city, raped all of the nuns, and killed 80000 or 90000 civilians. They would not surrender because they thought it was a dishonor to surrender. Carrington had already left for home when General MacArthur pinned the Distinguished Service Cross [Annotators Note: also referred to as the DSC] on all of the white guerillas. He did not receive his until 1949. The medal was awarded to him at Arnaud's Restaurant in New Orleans. The Marine Corps did not even pay for his meal because it was an army decoration. Carrington got a letter from General Marcott asking if he had been awarded the Bronze Star and POW Medal. He said no but had the DSC. General Marcott re-pinned the DSC on Carrington. Carrington feels that General Marcott made up for the way the Marine Corps handled his medal. Carrington had been recommended for the Medal of Honor by his friend Eddie Fischer. Carrington and Fischer were on the same work detail as POWs and planned to escape together. Carrington studied the Japanese and decided that the best time to go under the fence was while the Japanese guards were changing. Carrington was sent to Bilibid prison which was supposed to be escape proof. Carrington escaped. He went out with a friend named Raymond Parker. Parker hit the wire and was knocked unconscious. He was caught, tortured, and killed. Carrington continued on.

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[Annotator’s Note: James Carrington enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 1939 and spent two years in China with the 4th Marine Regiment before being shipped to the Philippines in November 1941. He was captured on Corregidor and spent two years as a POW before escaping and joining a group- of Filipino guerillas.] There were two areas in the camp [Annotator's Note: Bilibid Prison, Philippines]. One side held the prisoners that the Japanese referred to as gangsters and the other side held regular prisoners. Carrington told his friend Parker how to get out. He had been taught in the Marines how to crawl and told Parker how to do it too. When they went under the wire Carrington made it but Parker hit the wire which knocked him out and set off the alarm. Carrington got out and jumped over a wall into a cart. The man with the cart was affiliated with the guerillas. He brought Carrington to his house for the night and then brought him to Queson City the next morning. Carrington was put in a grass hut right next to a Japanese hospital. He could see the Japanese playing baseball through the fence. A Filipino girl brought Carrington a long .45 [Annotator's Note: .45 caliber long colt revolver] and 70 or 80 rounds of .45 automatic ammunition. Carrington had to rig a washer onto each round to make them fit the gun properly. Carrington was then moved to a ghetto where he met a Chinese guerilla. The guerilla killed a dog and he and Carrington had fresh meat. It was the first fresh meat Carrington had eaten in two years. Carrington would kill cattle when he was hiding out with the Filipino guerillas. The guerillas would use sharpened bamboo as traps for wild pigs and for Japanese soldiers up in the mountains. Carrington was asked to join a band of guerillas by one of the men who had rescued him in Manila. There were many different guerilla bands but only one had an American leader. The American leader had been a lieutenant in the 26th Cavalry but was now a colonel in the guerilla army. After the Japanese strafed all of the 26th Cavalry’s horses Carrington and the other guerillas ate them.

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[Annotator’s Note: James Carrington enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 1939 and spent two years in China with the 4th Marine Regiment before being shipped to the Philippines in November 1941. He was captured on Corregidor and spent two years as a POW before escaping and joining a group- of Filipino guerillas.] When the guerillas would kill a cow they would salt and dry the meat so the men could take pieces of it when they went on raids. The men would also carry rice that they would cook in pieces of bamboo. Carrington was told that he would be made the commandant of the guerilla headquarters. Carrington was to train the guerillas. Carrington had served with Chesty Puller [Annotator's Note: US Marine Corps Lieutenant General Lewis B. Puller] when Puller was a major. Having been a Marine, Carrington always got the best of the Japanese. The American commander of the guerilla group promoted Carrington to captain. There were some issues with Carrington's commission after the liberation of the Philippines [Annotator's Note: Carrington was a corporal in the Marine Corps and a captain in the US Army]. While Carrington was in the hospital after returning to the United States he was approached by a Marine colonel who ordered him to report to Camp Lejune for OCS [Annotator's Note: Officer Candidate School]. Carrington was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant on 10 November 1945. The war was over so they put him in the reserves. Carrington was assigned to the 10th Marine Battalion. The men he trained later fought in the Korean War but Carrington did not go because of a wounded leg. Carrington was also awarded a medal from the Filipino's. It was sent to him by Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos. Carrington helped open a museum for the Forgotten Heroes at the Presidio in San Francisco, California. While there he stayed in Black Jack Pershing’s [Annotator's Note: General of the Armies John Joseph "Black Jack" Pershing] house. At the museum Filipinos brought sand from Corregidor which was used to make a small island. There was a mannequin of General MacArthur. There was a picture of Carrington on the wall. Carrington donated an American flag and a Filipino flag to the museum. The flags were returned to Carrington and he donated them to the Marine Corps Museum. Carrington remained in the Marine Corps Reserve for 17 or 18 years and was promoted to captain when he retired.

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[Annotator’s Note: James Carrington enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 1939 and spent two years in China with the 4th Marine Regiment before being shipped to the Philippines in November 1941. He was captured on Corregidor and spent two years as a POW before escaping and joining a group- of Filipino guerillas.] There were two areas in the camp [Annotator's Note: Bilibid Prison, Philippines]. One side held the prisoners that the Japanese referred to as gangsters and the other side held regular prisoners. Carrington told his friend Parker how to get out. He had been taught in the Marines how to crawl and told Parker how to do it too. When they went under the wire Carrington made it but Parker hit the wire which knocked him out and set off the alarm. Carrington got out and jumped over a wall into a cart. The man with the cart was affiliated with the guerillas. He brought Carrington to his house for the night and then brought him to Queson City the next morning. Carrington was put in a grass hut right next to a Japanese hospital. He could see the Japanese playing baseball through the fence. A Filipino girl brought Carrington a long .45 [Annotator's Note: .45 caliber long colt revolver] and 70 or 80 rounds of .45 automatic ammunition. Carrington had to rig a washer onto each round to make them fit the gun properly. Carrington was then moved to a ghetto where he met a Chinese guerilla. The guerilla killed a dog and he and Carrington had fresh meat. It was the first fresh meat Carrington had eaten in two years. Carrington would kill cattle when he was hiding out with the Filipino guerillas. The guerillas would use sharpened bamboo as traps for wild pigs and for Japanese soldiers up in the mountains. Carrington was asked to join a band of guerillas by one of the men who had rescued him in Manila. There were many different guerilla bands but only one had an American leader. The American leader had been a lieutenant in the 26th Cavalry but was now a colonel in the guerilla army. After the Japanese strafed all of the 26th Cavalry’s horses Carrington and the other guerillas ate them.

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