Prisoner of War Documents

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Wartime nightmare

On May 8, 1942, Roland and Lydia Batchelder of Peru, Illinois, received the telegram that all soldiers’ parents dread. It informed them that their son, Walter, had been reported missing in action. Walter was a Marine with the 4th Regiment, deployed to Corregidor in Manila Bay. Almost one year later, his parents learned that Walter had been captured at the Battle of Corregidor and was being held as a prisoner of war in Tokyo.

The Batchelders’ first direct word from Walter came in August 1943 on a small, typed card supplied by the Japanese army. Walter sent more cards home, but their messages often took more than a year to arrive. Only two letters sent by his family ever reached him.

Finally, in September 1945, the Batchelders received a telegram carrying the joyful news that Walter had been released. When he arrived home, his family saw that Walter had lost 35 pounds, and they learned that he had been beaten, tortured, malnourished, and forced to work long hours in underground copper mines. Walter would carry the emotional scars of his wartime experience for the rest of his life.

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