The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 95, July 1991 - April, 1992 Page: 294
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Southwestern Hzstorical Quarterly
the Netherlands East Indies, the official history of the U.S. Army recog-
nizes the American contribution as "minor ground units (including an
artillery battalion)." The Texas force is not identified further and then
disappears from the army's multivolume study. The official history of
the Air Force only acknowledges "the assignment to the East Indies of
approximately loo men of the 2nd Battalion, 131st Field Artillery on
temporary duty with the bomber command." Even studies dealing spe-
cifically with American POWs in Asia provide just brief glimpses of the
131st Field Artillery.2
Historians have also ignored these men because the traditional paper
trail is almost nonexistent. Since the Japanese did not permit prisoners
to have writing materials, survivors brought back only fragments of se-
cret diaries and few other written records. Four ex-POWs have written
personal memoirs, and while these provide a starting point for histo-
rians, they do not tell the complete story. In 1945, shortly after their
return, the men held their first reunion and formed an organization to
preserve the bonds of brotherhood and to remember the 163 who died
as POWs. They appropriately named their group the Lost Battalion As-
sociation, for they truly had been "lost."'
Because documentary evidence is lacking, the only means of recon-
structing the POWs' story has been through in-depth interviews with
survivors. As a result of interviewing sixty-five of these men and exam-
ining closely i 1,ooo pages of transcript, cross-checking for verification
and corroboration, and studying the few available written sources, it is
now possible to document their experiences and analyze how they sur-
vived. The purpose of this study, then, is to determine the personal
qualities and fortuitous circumstances responsible for their surviving
perhaps the most inhumane and life-threatening conditions experi-
enced by American POWs in World War II.'
2Louis Morton, The Wa in the Paclfic The Fn st Two Yeal 111 The United States Army tin Woid WVa,
IIH (Washington, D.C Ofhce of the Chief of Mihtary Histoi y, Dept of the Army, 1962), 177 ( st
quotation); Wesley F. Craven and James L Cate (eds ), TheAmy vAn Forces in Wald Wa II Plan
and Ealy Opeiattos, Januaiy 1939 to August 1942 (Chicago. University of Chicago Pless, 1948),
381 (2nd quotation), 366-402 See also E Bartlett Kerr, Sm endei and Suivival The Lr peitene
of Amencan POWs 1n the Pacrzfi, 194 z1-945 (New Yol k. William Morrow and Co , 1985)
'See Hollis G. Allen, The Lost Battahon (Jacksboro, Iecx. Herald Publishlng Co , 1963), Ben-
jamrn Dunn, The Bamboo Exrness (Chicago. Adams Press, 1979), Clyde Fillmore, Pitione of War
Histoiy of the Lost Battalion (Wichita Falls- Nortex Offset Publications, 1973), Horace G. feel,
Our Days Were Yeais ltntoiy of Tecas' Lost Battalion (Quanah, Tex. Nortex Press, 1978)
'All the oral interviews used in this study were conducted by the author Ihe tapes and tran-
scripts are located in the University Archives, Willis Library, University of North lexas, Den-
ton, Texas Oral history emerged as a form of historical methodology in the ig6os In recent
years, increased professionalism among practitioners of the craft has led to widespread accep-
tance of oral interviews as a valid research tool With the common use of the telephone, some
traditional, written sources of historical evidence are often not available and have to be supple-
mented, when possible, with oral history interviews At other times, uneducated or underedu-
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 95, July 1991 - April, 1992, periodical, 1992; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117153/m1/354/: accessed October 17, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.