Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Rufus Smith, 1983

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:03 - Interview Introduction

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Partial Transcript: We're fortunate to have with us this morning Mr. Rufus Willie Smith, a veteran of World War II, member of the 4th infantry regiment...

Segment Synopsis: Colonel Arthur L. Kelly introduces Rufus Smith, a WWII veteran. He served as a machine gunner with the 4th Marine Infantry Regiment in the Philippines.

Keywords: 4th Marine Infantry Regiment; Palawan Massacre; Philippine Defense Association

00:01:28 - Palawan Massacre

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Partial Transcript: Let's just get up to Palawan and go from there. Just a few days before the Massacre occurred and then go into the details of it.

Segment Synopsis: Rufus Smith gives details of the days before the Massacre happened at Palawan.

Keywords: Palawan Massacre; Philippines

00:18:27 - Attempt to escape

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Partial Transcript: When you get out on the bay there, or down on the beach, what happens at that moment?

Segment Synopsis: He continues to describe the Palawan Massacre. The Japanese shot and burned prisoners alive as they tried to escape.

Keywords: Deaths; Japanese Fourteenth Area Army; Palawan Massacre; Prisoners of war

00:27:31 - Sounds of prisoners

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Partial Transcript: Can you kind of describe what kind of noises and groans- I know there were probably different kinds of noises..

Segment Synopsis: Rufus describes the noises and pleas for help he heard as people were being killed in the trenches during the Massacre.

Keywords: Palawan Massacre; Prisoners of war (POW)

00:37:24 - Aftermath

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Partial Transcript: Before you go back down on the beach to escape, they came back looking for you, didn't they?

Segment Synopsis: He talks about how the Japanese came to look for him and a few others as things began to calm down. He also states what was going through his mind as he swam across the bay to escape.

Keywords: Japanese Fourteenth Area Army; Palawan Massacre; Prisoners of war (POW); trench warfare

00:53:02 - Making it to land

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Partial Transcript: I didn't have nothing on me.

Segment Synopsis: He talks about how he arrived on land with nothing at all, how he made his way through the bay and to the prison colony.

Keywords: Honda bay; Philippines; WWII

01:01:54 - Saved by inmates

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Partial Transcript: He convinced me that he was friendly, which I was really sure of too.

Segment Synopsis: He recalls arriving at the penal colony and being taken in by the inmates. He tells how they looked after him and his being rescued by them.

Keywords: Friendliness of communities; Penal colonies; Prisoners of war (POW)

01:14:45 - About the Palawan Massacre

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Partial Transcript: Come here Russ, I want you to meet an interest person...

Segment Synopsis: Colonel Kelly tells a friend about the Palawan Massacre and how Rufus escaped the brutality, fighting off a shark and being helped by dolphins to shore. The Americans dropped bombs near the Leyte Gulf. Smith also continues to go into detail about the Massacre.

Keywords: General Tomoyuki Yamashita; Japanese Fourteenth Area Army; Palawan Massacre; Prisoners of War (POW); Puerto Princesa(Philippines)

01:30:54 - Geography of Palawan

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Partial Transcript: Now, Puerto Princesa is a city in a bay, right?

Segment Synopsis: The men discuss the geography of the bay area near Puerto Princesa in Palawan. Smith also goes into greater detail about how he escaped.

Keywords: Palawan Massacre; Puerto Princesa (Philippines)

01:44:04 - Recall of events

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Partial Transcript: So, what kind of view did you have of it?

Segment Synopsis: He summarizes the events that happened at Palawan, the number of people who died and how he felt when he thought that he was the only one who survived.

Keywords: Deaths; Palawan Massacre

02:05:30 - Experiences at the colony

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Partial Transcript: As swimmer, when you were swimming forward were you pretty skilled, you know, you knew how to make the best of your stroke..

Segment Synopsis: Smith briefly talks about the skills he used to help him survive, approaching the shore and the penal colony.

Keywords: Penal colonies; Philippines

02:25:53 - Prisoner of war experience

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Partial Transcript: In talking of prisoner of war experience from the Philippine defenders' point of view- so many things happened to so many people...

Segment Synopsis: He talks about his prisoner of war experience from a Philippine defender's point of view, and the difference in treatment of the other prisoners of war. He also talks about his morale throughout the whole experience.

Keywords: Bataan Death March; Cabanatuan (Philippines); Philippine defenders; Prisoners of war (POW)

02:38:13 - Family history

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Partial Transcript: You married a lovely lady, and I want you to tell me her name, her maiden name.

Segment Synopsis: Rufus talks about his wife, children and grandchildren. He mentions meeting up in the United States with friends whom he served with. The interview is concluded.

Keywords: Children; Grandchildren; Wives