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Through My Mother's Eyes by Michael McCoy (Read 2750 times)
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Through My Mother's Eyes by Michael McCoy
Apr 14th, 2010, 6:28am
 
This is the second recent attempt to publish a bogus memoir vandalizing the history of civilian internment in the Philippines during WWII.  The comment paragraphs followed by the review were written by Sascha Jansen, who was interned at Santo Tomas as a child.  Mike  

Hi All.

McCoy just won the Northern Calif Screenwriters Award for his script on the book of LIES. Go to DocMcCoy web page and it will get you into the award page. Click Screenplays and it will tell you more. I do not know under what criteria they determine how people win, but I can bet, they would not like to hear about the fact he is selling this under false pretenses.

We can all write letters to the Screenwriters Guild just to peak their interest and raise questions.

We made the UST project not happen. What say we do the same here. Angus and I can run separate letters under BACEPOW and I can include the book report. Let me know.

Aloha - Sascha
THROUGH MY MOTHER’S EYES by Michael McCoy with Jean Marie Heskett.  Strategic Book Publishing. New York, New York

Here we go again, boys and girls. Hang on for another wild ride through the depths of Never Never Land. How I love this stuff!

Meant to be a factual account of the perils, misadventures and Eloise type imagery of a 6 year old girl child as she enters the gates of the Civilian Prison Camp of Santo Tomas, the author turns this biographical tale of WWII in the Philippines into a deep, deceiving, sink - hole of fiction. Watch your step.

I do not altogether fault the author, McCoy, in this often startling tale of hurling stories of untruths set through the dates of January, 1942 – April, 1945. After all, these tales of intrigue were dictated by his mother to her son to tell her “own” account of the war. As a journalist, however, McCoy failed miserably by not verifying any of the facts. A good journalist does extensive research on an important piece of history. Michael McCoy, with his mother, Jean Marie Heskett, had a great collaborative idea how to tell a good story. However, the stories are too good in part, telling the reader more than meets the eye.

If writers could just relate real stories without peppering the truths with horrific fabrications, they would really have a masterpiece of adventure.
Why is it they feel the necessity to add “real historical facts” of out and out lies?  So many of us who were in the same situation know better and are still alive to point fingers and say, “This Did Not Happen. We Were There!”

Heskett relates that when the camp Commandant Hayashi, had taken the Education Building and it’s prisoners hostage, the U.S. command was looking for an interpreter to coach Jap snipers from existing bomb shelters. General Chase chose little 9 yr. old, Jean Marie to be the interpreter. According to the book, she offered her linguistic services to the General, as she spoke (some) Japanese and was willing to help. Being as the General had “no other interpreters,” he gladly accepted the offer and pressed her into service to coax the Japanese snipers to surrender and come out of the shelters. As she interrogated the hiding Jap soldiers by sticking her head in the shelter, she heard them say that “they would rather die, than surrender.”

She turned around and told Gen. Chase. That is when Chase gave his soldiers orders to use their flamethrowers into the dugouts! Blooey! Charred Yakitori!

The truth of the matter was, General Chase traveled with two Nisei, Sgt. Ken K. Uyesugi, and Tadashi “Tad” Nomura, G-2, 1st Brigade, Division Headquarters. A very little known fact to the general public, the Nisei contingency of G-2 of Military Intelligence Japanese, were a group in the war kept under wraps for the most part not wanting the enemy knowing of their existence. There were ten Nisei G-2 interpreters assigned to one Division. Sgt.Uyesugi, and Tad Nomura, our very own British STIC internee/Japanese interpreter, by the name of Earl Stanley, with Frank Carey, another prisoner, were always with General Chase and Colonel Brady from the time the First Cavalry entered the camp compound on February 3rd.

When the liberation occurred, all the Japanese Command and soldiers followed Comandant Hayashi into the Education Building to hold the over 200 men and boys hostage. No Japanese soldiers were hiding in any trenches or were they outside of the Ed. Building until the enemy formally surrendered on February 5th.

Think about this whole scenario for a moment. No General would dare ask a nine year old girl to stick her head in a trench to talk to enemy soldiers to press them into surrendering. By the way – where did little Jean Marie master the Japanese language to such an extent as to negotiate a surrender? There was never an incident of any officer using flame throwers in Santo Tomas in such close proximity to prisoners and U.S. soldiers.

Sgt. Kenji Uyesugi and yours truly were long lasting pen pals, trading many stories, memories and experiences. We first met in STIC with my mother as we literally ran into each other walking swiftly around a blind corner in one of the courtyards of the Main Building. He became a teacher of Asiatic Studies at USC and received his BS of Business Administration before ending his long career with Canada’s Sun Life………………

In another unbelievable maneuver, by the story telling principle in this book, is the tale of the total obliteration of eight British and Australian women prisoners
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Re: Through My Mother's Eyes by Michael McCoy
Reply #1 - Apr 14th, 2010, 6:37am
 
(Review continued)

who were in the Main Building sipping tea during the infamous shelling of the camp. There they were at tea time, contently savoring the welcomed brew, when “Blooey,” they were blown to smitherines by an incoming shell, “hide and hair splattered” to kingdom come. All dead – witnessed by little Jean Marie-and it seems, only by Jean Marie.

Going over the official list of the dead for the shelling time in Santo Tomas, in our bible, Santo Tomas Internment Camp, by Frederic H. Stevens, There were recorded seventeen people Killed in Action in February. Eleven men and six women - three of the women my family knew personally. That leaves only three women accounted for – none of whom were in that supposed number of eight British women savoring their tea time. This devastating incident did not happen. They were never listed on the Death Roster! None of this is in print…………..No one has ever heard of this enormous bit of garbage.

In this book, there are pictures about our experiences in camp and also official war pictures. The caption under a picture of little Jean Marie and her friends, on her way to the United States, tells us that the picture was taken on the SS John Lafitte. Then in a chapter describing her voyage to freedom, she tells the reader she was on the SS Admiral Capps. Which is it? Then in a disturbing flamboyant account, she relates to her unsuspecting son/author, that the Admiral Capps and the rest of the ships in the convoy were attacked by Kamikaze planes! Ayamatta! Ayamatta! Takusan no kaze!

This book reviewer and family were all on the Admiral Capps with many other friends who still live around me in the San Francisco Bay Area. I was 12 years old and will tell the world we were never ever attacked by a single Kamikaze plane during any part of our trip. My friends agree with me.

The only thing that came close to a disaster were floating mines dangerously close to our ship. They were promptly blown out of the water by sharp shooters at the ready. We proceeded to San Francisco without further incident.

One of the worst things Heskett and McCoy brings to light is the actual bayoneting of a ten year old boy standing in Roll Call formation in the Annex. According to Jean Marie, Heskett’s mother was room monitor and was responsible for herding people together for the roll. It was written that the Commandant was so incensed that the boy did not bow, he ordered him bayoneted and her mother was taken away and beaten. Nothing like this ever happened to children in our camp, and no room monitor/mother was ever beaten. Another unbelievable tale to raise our ire is put into words as fact.

Well, you get the picture. There are many more unbelievable passages and “facts” in this degrading book. The Bay Area Civilian Ex-POW organization formally denounces this book as a shameful project of lies and deceit.

Again, one does not need to resort to subterfuge to tell a good story – duping the public will have us dining out on this meal for a long time to come. Please pass the Grey Poupon!

Bay Area Civilian Ex-POWs – Chapter of the AMEXPOW National Org.

Sascha Jansen – Sr. Vice Commander – BACEPOW

Mabuhayma@aol.com
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Re: Through My Mother's Eyes by Michael McCoy
Reply #2 - Apr 14th, 2010, 6:57am
 
Another book vandalizing the history of civilian internment by the Japanese is CHILD POW - A Memoir of Survival by A.L. Finch, which is currently making the rounds of publishing houses in search of a publisher.

It is hard to live with oneself and among others, who lived through the Philippine-American experience during WW II in the Philippines without commenting on the book by A.L. Finch – Child POW – A Memoir of Survival.

We Military and civilians who have survived such an experience and shared our collective war history on foreign soil know where we have been and certainly know the history of our imprisonment. Years later we banded together, to share and relate and teach these moments in history. Many of us write books, columns, articles and are featured in various documentaries; We also share the rostrums as diligent speakers and lecturers of the past. As we are sought after to bring our collective war history to life we need to be knowledgeable and accurate. We have to be accurate.



Our bamboo telegraph goes into overdrive when any of us, who read and dissect these articles and books are aware of any inaccuracies. Most of the time we find a few discrepancies – other times the read is just too unbelievable for words. In our opinion, Child POW - by A. L. Finch – falls in this latter category.

To people in this country of ours who were never in the Philippines

during WW II, this may seem an extraordinary story of adventure and horror - a magnificent masterpiece to believe in. But to we military and civilian prisoners who were there and experienced the real thing, her story is simply the proverbial hogwash tied up in a parcel of bovine scatology being spoon fed to the unsuspecting public.

Finch blatantly displays great historical inaccuracies and leaves absolutely no paper trail to fall back on for those of us who research the history of the World War II prisoner experience. How Convenient!  Finch comments:

No passports are needed to leave the U.S. (Huh?) Everyone needed passports to leave and to return to the United States !

Their Pan Am flight in 1941 stopped at an uninhabited Atoll.  “These extemporaneous stops were left up to passenger votes to hunt for shells and picnic.” ( Pan Am CEO, Juan Trippe just had a coronary) With Pan Am’s highly professional crews at the Clipper’s helms they would never have risked passenger lives, have a total disregard for scheduled timelines crossing the Pacific, and to land a Clipper on an isolated atoll where lift – offs and landings are crucial maneuvers just to picnic and find shells. Landing on coral atolls? She then suggests that there may have been some surupticious spying underway. Spying on an uninhabited atoll?

A bout with polio in Manila sent her to a hospital, Nuestra Senora de Socorro de la Santa Spirito, for weeks. Her assessment of her polio months does not add up. (No such hospital ever existed in Manila – but there is one in Equador)

After the Japs bombed on Dec 8, 1941, her mother asked Pan Am to get them out on the flight leaving but was turned down by saying they do not take people who had polio. (In fact there was not a single Clipper in Manila on that date. Hong Kong and Wake, yes. Manila no!

Finch obviously knows nothing about polio in 1941, relating her Army nurse, Aunt Alice, (no last name) and her hospital buddies didn’t know how to treat polio or who to contact. Finch s assessment of her polio is so blatantly erroneous, sighting she contracted polio in September and by December she was still in the contagious state. Wowee!

I myself contracted polio in 1934 in the Philippines and was treated by Filipino and US Army doctors right away.

She refers to Gen Douglas MacArthur as the United States High Commissioner of the Philippine Territory. (In fact, Francis B. Sayer was the U.S. High Commissioner and General MacArthur was Commander, U.S. Army Forces, Far East (USAFFE))

Finch says that truckloads of civilians without men were trucked to the Bay View Hotel in December/January of 1942, a holding area for women and children prisoners. She mentions that The Bay View Hotel was a 2nd rate hotel, definitely “across the tracks” remarking that it was in down town Manila and a horrendous place. Finch also states the halls were filled with blood where women and children were naked on top of each other, beaten and dead.

(Revelation! This reviewer was there with many other families who came into Manila for protection where the transition to Japanese authority was smooth and without incident. (The Bay View was named such because it was situated on Dewey Blvd. right on Manila Bay )

The civilians at the Bay View were transported to Santo Tomas after the Japanese entered Manila without much fuss, and it was not the picture Finch painted. Perhaps she is confusing it with atrocities that occurred there during the Battle of Manila in 1945 when the Japanese were retreating, destroying everything in their wake. By this time, according to the author’s telling, they were back in the states having been repatriated on the Gripsholm way before the returning US forces were back on Philippine soil.

Note: Names of Bay View Hotel owners and Japanese Command Officers stationed at the BayView Hotel in December, 1941/January of 1942,  are available upon request.  


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Re: Through My Mother's Eyes by Michael McCoy
Reply #3 - Apr 14th, 2010, 7:02am
 
(Review continued)

Finch tells the readers of her horrible time as a child prostitute (8 years old) for a very elite Jap Officers R&R camp in Baguio . This does not ring true, as after careful research and interviews, I found no such a camp for officers R&R in the Baguio area. Why was she not interned at Santo Tomas along with the other American civilians in Manila if she was at the Bay View Hotel?  She claims her time was spent in military prison camps, on hell ships, as a laborer in tin mines in Japan , as witness to beheadings and atrocities, on the Gripsholm, etc. Apparently never once did the Japanese place this troublesome pair in any of the civilian camps available. (Pass the Maalox, please.)

The pictures she so blatantly displays in her book are true war photos we all are familiar with, with her own tales of intimacies with each one: The bombing of Ford Island at Pearl Harbor becomes the “Bombing of Clark Field.” (With sailors in the picture mind you.) This picture is a familiar WWII icon to all of us and stands in all its glory in the Pearl Harbor Arizona Memorial Museum in Hawaii . No go, Finch!

A picture of a blindfolded Australian prisoner about to be decapitated by a Jap wielding a ceremonial sword in a Rose garden, is in the presence of Finch when they were in Fukuoka – on the way back to the Philippines from Japan . She describes him as, “Our sweet friend, Lennie. I was afraid to move an eyelash for fear the soldier would turn on my Nonie and me and cut our heads off, too. The sword mesmerized me. It was dripping with Lennie’s blood.”

That is the famous photo of Sgt. Leonard Siffleet who was decapitated on a beach in Aitape, New Guinea.

This is another wild story of lies springs from the mind of obsessiveexaggerations.

“Most civilians flew out from the Philippines after the air raids. Others went by boat, and most made it to Australia -except for us. We went nowhere.”

Again, obviously Finch is not up to date on her history. If she were, she would have known that no-one was allowed to leave by ship! And who was flown out of the Philippines on what? Remember? No Clipper, and no such animal as other commercial planes to Australia existed!

I doubt if the Japanese brought her to work in a tin mine in Japan and transferred on Hell Ships back and forth from the Philippines to Japan on two round trips…….She was not an 8 year old prostitute in Baguio, as written in The Jumping Frog Chapter where they beat her and burned her body with lit cigarettes exposing her to sexual perversions. “I found this work to be boring,” she says in an offhanded way.

Finch gives no names of the military prison camps in the Philippines she was herded into. A convenient and amazing omission. Paper trail? None!

Looking at a picture of Filipino school children standing in line outside a school, Finch generously tells the reader that these were civilians in line waiting to go to prison camps. No Filipino civilians, women and children, were herded into prison camps. Look closely Finch – these are school kids.

Pictures of Quonset huts in Baguio ( in the Cordelliero Mountains ) with nary a pine tree in sight. If one looks closely there is a bay of water in the background with a ship on it. (A miracle to be sure.) And Quonset huts were not shipped to the Philippines until after the U.S. forces returned.

Trust me, there is much more, each more unbelievable than the next. After identifying most of the WWII pictures as totally misrepresented by Finch, many of us ex-prisoners, who have studied this book, can truthfully declare that these meanderings written as gospel are dangerous and irresponsible.  Someone wrote, “One does not appropriate real life traumas of real victims for self gratification unless there is a deep longing for recognition and belonging, no matter what the consequences.” Plagiarizing other people’s traumas is something Finch does well. She at least could have a working knowledge of the history she chooses to believe in. Fooling the public certainly is her forte.

In my opinion, Finch’s disgraceful memoir is a fabrication that would only be recognized as such by actual victims of war, true historians, researchers and scholars. She makes a mockery of the truth and puts a blight on the real history of veteran POWS of that war. Shame! (Please - Pass the Johnny Walker)      

Sascha Weinzheimer Jansen – Sr. Vice Commander – Bay Area Civilian Ex-POW –(BACEPOW) and the national American Ex-Prisoner of War Group.

Ex-Prisoner of the Japanese –

Santo Tomas Prison Camp

Manila, PI

Mabuhayma@aol.com
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