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CHILD POW - A Memoir of Survival by A.L. Finch (Read 9337 times)
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CHILD POW - A Memoir of Survival by A.L. Finch
Apr 14th, 2010, 8:17am
 
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.  

(review continued below)
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« Last Edit: Aug 25th, 2011, 12:13pm by Editor-at-Large »  

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Re: CHILD POW - A Memoir of Survival by A.L. Finch
Reply #1 - Apr 14th, 2010, 8:18am
 
(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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