Tuesday, January 10, 2012


(1939 postcard)

January 10, 1942

On January 9, 1942, the American internees, both military and civilian, were told to prepare for transport to Japan.  Some of the things they packed were not allowed on board, or were confiscated at the whim of a guard.  At three o'clock in the morning on January 10, the Americans were awakened and told to start walking to Piti.  The older and the sick among them were driven there.  Once in Piti, they rode on small boats to a large luxury liner, the Argentina Maru, which was now in the service of the Japanese government to transport people.

Although built to be a comfortable, modern ship for civilian passengers, the Americans were placed in cramped and hot quarters below deck, sleeping on wooden planks.  When the weather turned colder as they moved north, they covered themselves with the one blanket they were given.  Their daily fare was rice and onion soup.  One day they were given small fried fish, which had gone bad and had almost everyone sick.  By the time the ship reached Japan, it was freezing winter.

The American civilians interned, most of whom had Chamorro wives on Guam, were Chester Butler, James Underwood, Hiram Elliott, William Johnston, Elmer Gay, Albert Manley, James Nelson, William Payne, Arthur Jackson, William Hughes, Marcello Sgambelluri (Italian-born), James Nelson, William Notley, Wallace Vaughan, Harland Wolford, James Barbour, Euell Olive, Albert Kerner, Otto Cox, Giuseppe D'Angelo (Italian-born), James Hudson. 

On board were the 10 American Capuchin priests, and one American Capuchin brother.  The two Spanish Capuchins, Bishop Olano and his secretary, Fray (Brother) Jesus de Begoña, were also on board, although Spain was not at war with Japan. 

William Gautier Johnston
Husband of the former Agueda Iglesias
Unfortunately passed away while in POW camp in Japan

Others, however, allowed to stay

Many non-Chamorros were allowed to remain on Guam during the Japanese occupation.  Obviously, all the Japanese residents, most of whom were married to Chamorros, stayed.  Some even assisted the Japanese administration.  A German married to a Chamorro, Scharff, also stayed, as Germany was an ally of Japan.  Pascual Artero, a Spaniard married to a Chamorro, was allowed to stay as Spain was a neutral country.  Besides Tweed and the other Americans who fled into hiding but did not survive, there was another American allowed to stay on Guam by the Japanese, but I forget who he was.


  1. Elmer L Gay was my Great Grand Father do you have anything that tells about him or how the Civilians as a whole were treated while in Custody of the Japanese ?

    1. Here's a website you will want to look at :


    2. This site mentions a book "Trapped with the Enemy" by Jim Thomas (2002). It talks about life as a POW at Futatabi and other POW camps where the Guam POWs were put. Check it out on amazon and other sites for possible purchase.

    3. James Kirk, Elmer L Gay was my great grandfather too. I have a copy of a newspaper article about him and others after the war. I could scan it to a PDF file and email it to you if you'd like. Do you have any family history information?

    4. Jennifer, anything you can send me would be appreciated and will go into my archives. As for the family history, all I have is on the Taitano said, which I am sure you have. I have nothing on the Gay family side. Let me know if you need any Taitano information.