I was born on January 7, 1906, in
Perryville, Missouri, from poor, but honest parents, as the second
Nocturn used to say in the Latin Breviary.My father was Louis Dunker,
who was born in Highland, Missouri, whose father, Henry, came from
Germany, and his mother Rosalie Guyot Callier, came from France. As a
result of the two nationalities in my father’s family, one German and
the other French, they had no common language, and as a result, English
was spoken. As a result my father did not have a second language as my
mother did, who knew both English and German. My mother was Josephine
Schindler. My grandparents on my mother’s side came from Germany, and
German was the language spoken in the home; consequently my mother spoke
German. My grandfather, Raymond Schindler owned a section or more of
land, and when one of his 15 children ----- at least the older ones
----- got married, Grandfather Schindler sliced off approximately 100
acres from his land, and gave it to them as a wedding present. As a
result, the settlement where I was born, and grew up, was composed
almost entirely of Schindlers, or women who had been Schindlers. My
birthplace was approximately 1¼ miles east of Perryville, on what, in my
day, was known as the Cape (Girardeau) road. Later it became Highway 25,
and then later on Highway 61. My parents, Louis Dunker and Josephine
Schindler, were married on October 11, 1892. And to this union seven
children were born.
Lonnie was the oldest, born in 1893;
Elma in 1895; Mary in 1897; Hilary in 1898; Ursula in 1902; myself
in 1906 and Barnwell in 1908.
When Lonnie was somewhere around 19-20 years of age he left
for Iowa and South Dakota to work on farms in the summer, since our.
100 acre farm did not need two grown men to farm it, particularly
since there were children to do the chores and odd jobs. Lonnie
used to come home during the winter, at least at first, but since
I was but 8-9 years old at this time I do not remember it too
I have a more vivid recollection of Elma, for she was at home till she
married in 1916, when I was 10 years old.
When Elma was going with her eventual husband, Leo Huber, I liked him a
lot. He not only frequently gave us kids candy, but he also owned a car.
His was not the first auto in Perry County, but it was one of the first,
and he would sometimes give us short rides in his car, and. to us kids
that was almost the equivalent of present day kids getting a ride on a
rocket to the moon.
One thing I remember about Elma’s wedding is that Mama told both Bun and
I that we had to go in and congratulate Elma and Leo, and we had to kiss
Elma. We eventually did, but not before bawling a bit about having to
kiss our sister.
Mary was my second oldest sister, who was 9 years older than me. My
first year in school we went to St. Vincent’s School in Perryville
together, and Mary was in. the first graduating class of St. Vincent’s
High School, but it was only to the 10th Grade at that time.
In January 1918 Mary entered the Sisters of Charity in St. Louis. I
September of 919 she received the habit, and took the name of Sister
Beata. She was missioned, to St. Stephen’s schoo1
in New Orleans, Louisiana. However, in October of this same year she
contracted the then entirely new disease of influenza, and on October
12th, passed away. She is buried in the Old St. Vincent Cemetery” in New
As soon as Hilary grew up be too went to South Dakota ‘o work,
and a4lound 1919 he and Lonnie rented a farm together in White, South
Dakota, which they jointly farmed for a number of years.
Ursula, my third sister, was born. October 4,1902, but when she was only
a little over one year old she died of diphtheria.
My youngest brother, Barnwell, and the last of the family, was born in
1908. While we probably did not send our parents to an early grave, for
my father died at 90 and my mother at 80, we must have caused them
innumerable aggravations, by our constant cutting up, “letting off of
steam, and quarreling.
The year 1906, when I was born, does not seem to me-----such a terribly
long time ago, less than 70 years, but when. I think of the advances in
every phase and aspect of life, it could well be 700.
This was the day before the invention or at least the marketing---.of
autos, airplanes, radios, televisions, refrigerators, etc., etc.
Electricity was available only in the larger cities, and Perryville
definitely was not one of them.
I walked the two miles to St. Vincent Grade and High School for 12
years. When I got home front school there were farm chores in be done,
such as milking 2-5 cows, feeding the chickens, carrying in
firewood, and sometimes working in the fields till nightfall.
In the evening, after supper, I don’t recall having too much homework to
do. I don’t know if I just didn’t bother, or whether our teachers
knowing that practically everyone had chores to do before supper, and
after supper with the little light that was obtained from the kerosene
lamps we had, just did not assign homework.
I rather believe that it was the
latter, since the time of supper was regulated by the sun, and not the
clock, we ate supper usually after dark. And by the time supper was
over, and the dishes washed, everyone usually went to bed.
When I finished St. Vincent High School, not knowing just what I wanted
to do in life, I took the examination for, and was awarded a certificate
to teach in Perry County Country schools. At that time no degrees were
required to teach, just that you were able to pass a State examination.
I was hired by the Miles School district, about 4 miles north east of
Perryville. I had all the 8 Grades in the school, but only a total of
about 15 pupils. If I remember rightly I was paid 6O.OO per month, and
1O.OO a month extra for I did the janitor work, which consisted not only
of sweeping the school, but also of starting a fire, and keeping it
going, in the heating stove we used during the cold weather to heat the
school. I taught school just one year.
During the spring of this year, which was 1925, one Sunday morning after
Mass my mother asked. me to go back to the parlor behind the “Seminary
Church” and see a priest there to have a Mass said for someone. When I
got there I met Father W1ter Quinn. I knew Father Quinn, for while he
was not one of the parish priests, he frequently said one of the Masses
in church and preached. I was somewhat surprised to find that Father
Quinn knew me, and WHAT V
surprised me even more was the fact that Father Quinn exacted
from me the promise to come some Sunday afternoon to see him.
I kept the appointment I made with him more because he wanted. me to
than from any end of my own.
After a few talks with Father Quinn, and a lot or urging and suggestions
by him, I began thinking of becoming a priest. Up to that time I really
had no plans for the future, and the teaching of school was simply to do
something till something better came along. After some talks with Father
Quinn. I. decided that I would like to enter the Seminary, and perhaps
eventually become a priest.
I am firmly convinced that had I not providentially met Father
Quinn, and had he not urged me to give the Seminary a trial, I might
never have found my vocation, for up to this time I had really never
given a vocation to the priesthood much consideration. it probably
entered my mind a time or two, but no one had ever presented the option
to me. And being rather immature I dismissed it as some unattainable
dream. As far as I remember, in. spite of the fact that Fathers Stephen
Paul Hueber, Boniventure Durbin, Joe Lilly, John Taugher, John Overburg,
etc., taught us Latin, and sometimes, religion, I don’t believe that we
ever had. “Vocation Talks.”
And so, from my own case, I would say that in some cases young men HAVE
to be urged to give the Seminary a trial.
I entered the Novitiate at Perryville on Play 9, 1925, and Father
Oscar Huber was my “Angel”, and on May 11 was received into the
When I entered the Novitiate, both the Novitiate and Scholasticate were
housed in the present building recently renovated for a refectory and
retirement, together with two floors above the chapel. The Novitiage was
on the second floor, with our dormitory over the present refectory, and
the director’s room, oratory, etc. all on this same floor.
The Students were on the floor above us, and also on the two floors over
the chapel. In spite of the fact that there were usually about 30
Novices, and 50-60 students, we never thought we were overly
crowded or cramped.
In those days the building had running water in the toilets at the east
end of the building, but for washing each novice had a pitcher and a
wash basin. Before retiring one of the “exercises” was that we all went
down to the pump in. the back yard and filled our water pitchers with
water. On cold winter mornings we frequently had to break ice from the
water in our pitchers before we could pour it out into our basins to
wash. Those were the days before there
there was so much as a word called
”thermostat”. For the time we were very progressive, for we had steam
heat in the buildings, hit all furnaces were hand fired. At night around
9 &clock the fireman would bank the fire in the furnace
and go to bed. Long before morning the fire in the furnace had burned
down, and while it retained live coals, it gave off no heat. As a
result, from 9:00 F.M. till around 4:00 A.M. 7 hours-----no heat
came through the pipes and buildings got awfully cold.
Another “exercise” was baths. On Saturday afternoon it was the
duty of a novice to start a fire in the boiler at the end of the
building to heat bath water so that baths could be taken in warm water.
If we got permission from the director we could take baths more than
once a week, but it was in cold water, and if you took a bath on
Saturday what earthly good would be accomplished by taking a bath during
the week as well !!!!!!!
Somewhere along the end of my first year on the Novitiate work was begun
on building a new Novitiate building. It was completed in 1927 just a
few short- months before I took vows and went over to the Student’s
Both my Novitiate and Scholazticate went along very happily and quickly.
With the time required for classes and preparation for same, and the
manual work we also did, there was no time for getting into much
trouble. At that time cooks and dishwashers were hired and done by
externs, but all the other work was done by the Students and Novices. We
did all the grass cutting, laundry, grotto work, etc.
During the second year of my scholasticate James Richardson, Maurice
Singleton and myself were sent to Cape Girardeau to teach in the minor
seminary there. This was a new experience, and a pleasant one, and my
major subject there was English.
Because only 3 o a class of 9 went out to teach, so we would not
be a year behind out class, the following summer we took philosophy
at camp (Saco U) and thereby stayed with our original class. Other than
philosophy we just skipped.
The Western Province took over the Vicariate of Yukiang in Kiangsi,
China, in 1924, and from that time 2-3 men had been going over to China
each year as missionaries. And towards the end of our third year of
Theology we were all asked by Father William Barr, the then Provincial,
to write him a letter stating our views and desires on going to China as
a missionary or not.
The previous year, 931, my cousin Father Steve Thinker, Paul’ Lloyd and
Fred Lewis had gone to China, and letters from Steve arrouded in me a
desire to become a missionary. As a result, when I wrote to Father Barr
I told him that I would gladly go to China.
Around February on 1932 Father Barr came to Perryville, and he had no
more than arrived than the grape-vine had it that he was there to let
the men going to China know of th4e fact.
That evening we were told by our director, Comoford O’Malley, that
Father Barr wanted to see Tom Smith, James Richerdson and myself. We
went over to the priest’s house, and I, being the oldest , went in first
to see Father Barr, and he told me that I had been selected to go to
China. The next oldest was Jim Richardson., and I waited outside the
door till he came out. Since Rich had volunteered for China, we took it
for granted that he too was going. When he came out of Father Barr’s
room I asked him what Father had said. Rich was so flustered that he
said: “I don’t know, but I think he said I was going to Rome.”
As a result of our going to China, Torn Smith and I were ordained on
three year’s theology, and we joined the class ahead of us and were
ordained in the church at Perryville on June 12, 1932 by Bishop Lillis
from Kansas City. There were 12 ordained at this time.
As we were to sail for China in October, after abou6 6 week’s vacation
Tom Smith and I went to New York to take a 4 week’s course in First Aid,
to help us in our missionary endeavors.
Around September 20 Tom Smith and. I set sail for China from 5an
Francisco. Alter a very exciting trip of about 20 days, in which we ran
into a hurricane, and the waves must have been 40-50 high, we finally
arrived in Shanghai on October 10, China’s Independence Day. And so we
found that all the flags and bannerd3flying was in honor of their
Independence Day, and not that two Vincentian missionaries had arrived.
Father Steve Dunker met us in Shanghai, and after a week or so of very
exciting days shopping and visiting interesting places all were
interesting-----and getting our first glimpse of the Orient, and. of
China, which we intended 6o convert in short order, we boarded a river
steamer for Kiukiang, on the Yangtsi River. After 3-4 days we
arrived at Kiukiang, and there boarded a much smaller steamer for
Poyang, on Poyang Lake, which was to be our destination for the time
At this time Bishop Edward Sheehan, G.M. was residing in Poyang, since
his episcopal residence in Yukiang was occupied by soldiers. These
soldiers were Nationalist soldiers that were in that area and were
supposed to be fighting the Communists, but there was not much fighting.
Not having barracks or buildings belonging to the army or government
they quite frequently took over missions compounds for their quarters,
and any mission personnel had to move out. During this era practically
all mission churches, schools, residences etc., were occupied by
soldiers, and were not able to be used by the missionaries.
In 1932 the present Communist Regime of Mao Tse-tung and Chu-teh
were holed up in the southern part of Kiangsi. Earlier in the time of
Sun 1at-sen the Russian Communists sent help to the then Revolutionists
of China to depose the Empress and the War Lords. However, after a
while, Chiang Kai-shek, the head of the army saw that Communism was not
good for China expelled them from the army. The Russians went home, but
the Chinese part of the army went north from 05nton, where they were
then, and holed up in Kiangsi. From here they made frequent raids into
the surrounding areas, and into our area, which was then known as they
Vicariate of Yukiang. In those days the Communists were known as
and in my book they still are. In the next few years we had many
rumors and a few actual incursions of these bandits raided into the
southern part of our Vicariate. personally never experienced one, but
many of our other confreres did; i.e. Torn Murphy, Steve Dunker, Fred
Lewis, Henry Altenburg, John Theunnison, etc., who bad to flee from
their places until either the Communists retreated, or the rumor blew
Tom Smith and I spend our first year in Poyang studying the language
under a Chinese teacher. Previous to our arrival we knew not a single
word of Chinese, but soon after our arrival we were given a Chinese-
English text book, that had the Chinese characters, and the English
equivalent alongside it. Our teacher knew no English, and as we knew no
Chinese, but we managed to get along, and probably faster than if our
teacher did know English. In this way if we could not understand
something we had to keep at it until we got it in Chinese, and not in
Since we had been ordained on three year’s theology we also had classes
In theology under the then Father Paul Misner. We also gained much
first-band information about China from Father Verdini, the pastor of
the church in Poyang. (Father Verdini was killed by the Japanese in
In the summer of 1933 Bishop Sheehan took pneumonia, and in
spite of the fact that he was taken to a fairly good hospital in
Nancheng, run by the French Sisters of Charity, died. This was before
the discovery of sulfa drugs, penicillin, antibiotics, etc.
At the time of Bishop Sheehan’s death I was visiting with the Irish
Columban Fathers in Kiengshangfu. When I heard of his death I went to
Nanchang to accompany the body to Poyang for burial. His body was put on
a small steamer and we started for Poyang. However, before entering Lake
Poyang we had to go down a river, and there we bit a sub-merged rock,
and rammed a big hold in the bottom of the boat. Luckily the pilot was
able to steer the boat toward the shore, and about the time that the
prow of the boat rammed into the bank of the river the boat settled down
on the bottom of the river; Only the lower deck was submerged, and the
upper deck remained above water.
After several hours another boat was procured, the body of
Bishop Sheehan transferred to the new boat, and we were able to proceed
to Poyang, and Bishop Sheehan avoided a watery burial.
They talk about the Chinese being stoic, and in some ways they are, but
not in every way. One way in which they really let go is in a funeral,
and I have never seen either before1 or after a demonstration like they
put on for Bishop Sheehan’s funeral. Bishop Sheehan was truly loved by
the Chinese especially for his charity, his generosity, his love of the
Chinese, especially the children. They had a procession through the
streets of Poyang, with banners, flags, firecrackers, crying and noise,
such as they have never had before, or since.
In the fall of 1933 I was went of Hokow. I still knew too little Chinese
to be of much help, but being an American, the Nationalist Army
respected Americans much more than they did their own Chinese. My
purpose in going was more to help Father Ma, a Chinese Vincentian, get
the soldiers to vacate the church school and rectory in Hokow. I don’t
know how much I had to do with it, but eventually the soldiers did
vacate the church and. other buildings, but it was more because the
Communist bandits had begun their long march, which eventually ended up
in the northern part of China, and our soldiers moved after them.
When the Hokow buildings were evacuated of soldiers Father Sagader, and
Austrian Vincentian, who had been pastor of Hokow for more than 10
years was able to return and resume the work there.
I remained in Hokow a little more than a year, and then I was sent to
Kweiki as pastor of the church there. I still did not know too much
Chinese, but as able to get along. One of the reasons for my going to
Kweiki was also to see that soldiers did not reoccupy the property
there. The Chinese soldiers feared foreigners, and so places where there
was a foreigner they did not always occupy. They paid absolutely no
attention to Chinese priests.
After only a year and a little more I was made pastor of Ihwang the
southernmost parish in the Vicariate. I remained in Ihwang for the next
14 years, which were, for the most part, very happy years.
Ikwang was not a large town, as Chinese towns went, and neither was
the Catholic population of the town. However, there were 18 missions
attached to the parish, about half of them being in the mountains. What
Catholics we had in the town, and those in the missions, were for the in
ost part, fervent, sincere, and very well disposed. This was also true,
at least as to being friendly and well disposed as regard to the pagans
of the area.
There were usually two priests in Ihwang, and during the tall and most
of the winters both spent most of their time “making the missions’ as it
was called. This consisted of going to each of the missions, and,
depending upon the number of Catholics, remaining there, saying Mass
preaching, baptizing, marrying all the way from three to ten days or
more. In some of the missions this would be the only time during the
entire year when they would see a priest, since they were all the way
from 8 to 35 miles from Ihwang, connected. only by a path, and no
means of transportation except walking. However, in some of the larger
missions we would go to them for some, of the big feasts such as
Christmas, Easter, Pentecost and the Assumption.
In about one third of the missions we owned a building grandiosely
called a “chapel”, in which we would lodge when we made the
If we had no chapel one of the Christians would vacate one of their bed
rooms, and give it to the priest. Mass would be said in the common acorn
in the center of the house, whore Chinese spend most of their day time
hours if they are not outside working. All the way from two to ten
families might occupy a house, and they all had their own private
bedrooms and kitchen, but they all used the common room in the center
for eating, working, talking, etc.
Most of the missions either had an acre or two of land and the proceeds
from the rent of this land was used to feed and support the priest when
he was making the mission. If they had no land they might have 10-12
bushels of rice. which, they likewise loaned out and got interest, and
this was used for the support of the priest making the mission. If the
mission had no land, rice, or money, then the Catholics usually chipped
in and paid for the support of the priest making the mission. rarely did
you have to pay your own way, and in many of the places they not only
paid for the priest’s food, but also gave an offering for Mass wine and
candles, as well as his transportation to and from the mission.
Ihwang parish was about 50 miles long and 30 wide, and our missions were
scattered all over this area. About the time I went to Ihwang a “horse
road’ as they called It, but which was really a road large enough to
accommodate cars or trucks was opened to the north but stopped at
Xhwang. However, not too long afterwards when the Sino-Japanese War
started heating up it was dug up to prevent the Japanese from
using it f they were to come. So the mode of transportation we had was
either to walk or horseback or by bicycle, provided you were rich enough
to own a horse or a bicycle. I owned and about all I can say about it is
that it was somewhat quicker and easier than walking. How over you had
to get off the bike about 30 times to a mile to cross culverts, gullies,
breaks in the road, etc., and also provided you could ride on the
narrow roads two feet wide or so with rice fields on each side.
When you were at home in your residence you could have a few comforts
and special foods, etc., but when you were in the missions you lived and
ate like (the better ones it is true) Chinese. You slept in their beds
bedbugs and all, and ate whatever food they set before you. For the most
part it was not too difficult, and usually enjoyable. However, after
eating, or at least trying to eat, most of the food that was put before
you, I still, after more than 20 years, do not complain about and will
eat just about any food that is placed before me. And looking back on
what I had to eat then, I am glad to eat whatever I now have. However,
If someone were to set before me the warm dish of boiled carp fish three
times a day, for three or four days running, as sometimes happened in
China, I just might do a bit of complaining. In China poverty is too
wide spread to throw away or waste anything, especially food. So you
usually kept getting leftovers until they were eaten up.
Food, however, to me, is not the hardest thing that a foreigner has to
encounter and put up with in China. To my way of thinking the oriental
mentality; east versus west; the different way of thinking, the
different standards of value etc., is probably harder to got used to and
contend with than the diet. Food is material that you can sees but the
other is mental and invisible, and many times impossible for a foreigner
to either understand or even grasp.
The next hardest thing a foreigner has to put up with is the food.
Primarily because of poverty, the diet is very poor. It is not because
the Chinese do not know how o prepare a delicious meals for a Chinese
banquet is really something very special by any standards, at which many
choice and wonderfully prepared dishes are served. But a banquet takes
.. place only rarely, and the ordinary fare is rice and vegetables, and
if one can afford it, sometimes pork meat is available. This is their
diet three times a day, seven days a week and 52 weeks of the
year. Beef is unattainable for the only cows they have are used to till
the fields, and they are never eaten until they get too old to work,
they likewise do not use them for milking, so dairy products of all
kinds are not to be had. However, if a foreigner puts his mind to it, he
can become accustomed to eating rice three times a day, and since he can
usually afford to b port, he can get along. However, it takes
time effort and determination. The rice, vegetables, and little pork, is
not too rich in calories, so that a person is usually fairly
hungry by the time the next meal comes around, and he can usually dig
into his fare with a certain amount of gusto.
I suppose the most exciting event that happened during my stay in Ihwang
was the Japanese invasion in 1945
The Sino-Japanese War started in the nineteen thirties,
but for the most part, it was limited to the coastal areas more or less.
Later they did invade the interior to some degree, but they stopped just
at the boundaries of our Vicariate, and most of our affairs went on the
same as usual.
After General Doolittle’s raid. upon Japan in the early stages of the
Second World War, the Japanese did not know from whence his planes look
off. They thought they possibly might have taken off from some air bases
in the southern part. of Kiangsi. Consequently they made a raid into all
the southern part of the province of Kiangsi. looking for airfields. In
all they stayed about three months and then withdrew to their former
positions. During this raid they ravaged our, diocese; killed two of our
priests, and thousands and thousands of Chinese both Catholic and pagan;
burned most of the towns, many churches, rectories etc.
The whole thing started----for us that is -with General Doolittle’s
raid upon Japan. It happened that I was in Fuchow visiting with Father
Steve Dunker for a crew days. One night while I was there the air raid
sirens went off several times during the night, a night that was cloudy,
rainy and foggy. However, as usual nothing happened.
The next day I returned to Ihwang, but before I arrived I was told by
several people along the road that American fliers were in our residence
in Ihwang. This was so far-fetched that I did not believe word of it;
however, I was puzzled about what could have caused such a fantastic
rumor. When I did arrive, Father Leo Moore, who was my assistant in
Ihwang at the time, told me the same thing, and sure enough there were
three American airmen there.
It came about like this. ‘when General Doolittle’s group were nearing
Japan on a ship, with their planes on this ship (not an aircraft carrier
though) they came upon a Japanese ship. They fired on the ship and sunk
it, but they did not know if the ship had radioed the fact of an
American ship this near Japan. Fearing the worst, and that was that the
Japanese navy would immediately converge upon them and they be
destroyed, for one American ship, without any escort, would be no match
for a number of Japanese navy ships, they decided that their plans would
have to be altered.
The original plan was that the ship was to get as close to Japan as
possible without detection, and the planes would then take off, bomb
Tokyo and other cities, and. then head. for China. Certain airfields in
Free China had been notified to have gasoline etc., prepared to refuel
the planes, and then they would fly to Chungking and then over the
“Hump” into India.
However, with the change in plans the planes decided to take off before
any Japanese ships could arrive, and probably abort the whole, plan.
BUT, and this is a big BUT, they took off not only 8-10 hours. before
the time originally decided upon, and it put them over China at night
instead of day, as originally planned. Furthermore they had to fly 8-10
hours more before getting to Japan than planned,
and which would have their gasoline used up 8-10 hours sooner than
planned, and just that much less distance into China before this
Word of the change of plans were gotten to the airfields in Free China
about the change in the time of the arrival, but just about all that it
did was to thoroughly confuse those in charge of the airfields, For
secrecy no details were given to them, and
since they knew nothing more
than to prepare the Fields, and then a change in time on top of it, and
from day till night confusion reigned supreme. None of the airfields
were equipped with electric lights Some of them lit bonfires to try to
indicate the runway but most of them did nothing, thinking it was just
another political snafu. However, it made no difference, for as I said
previously, this particular night was one of the stormiest nights in a
long time, with rain, low clouds, lightening, thunder, etc.
As a result, the American planes not being able to locate any of the
airfields in the dark, or if they were lit by bonfires they were not
recognizable, the pilots had to fall back upon what they had been told
to do if they could not locate the fields fly them as far into Free
China as they could until their gas ran out, and then to abandon the
planes and parachute to earth.
As a result every single plane taking part in the raid crashed. But with
the exception of 1-2 planes that landed. .n Japanese held territory, and
4-5 men who wore killed in parachute landings, all the other men
survived, and eventually made it back to the States via chunging, and
over the “hump”.
I do not at the moment remember of planes taking part in the raid, but I
believe it was somewhere around twenty. I do know that more than ten
crashed in the provinces of Checkiang and. Kiangsi The one that crashed
near Ihwang made it the fartherest along the line, and the deepest into
The one that crashed near Ihwang, when it ran out of gas, crashed into a
small mountain about 5 miles south of the town. When the gas was
just about gone, the pilot gave orders to abandon the plane,
and the five crewmen jumped. Due to the different times of jumping; the
wind, etc., they all landed in different areas, and none together. And,
in that it was night it was impossible to locate one another. And since
we were not more than 150 miles from Japanese occupied territory, they
were not sure if they were really in unoccupied territory or not.
The pilot later said that when he abandoned the plane it was headed in a
straight direction, but Father Moore, and many residents of Ihwang, said
that the plane circled the town several times, getting lower and lower
each time, till it finally disappeared. It crashed in an Uninhabited
area of a mountain, and no one knew of it till the next day when it was
spotted from the road.
Two of the crew landed fairly case to one another, and met at daylight.
The other three were scattered and landed 5-10 miles apart. At
daylight they all ran into farmers, and they led them into Ihwang. Not
many at the court house, where they were taken, understood English, and
all the flyers knew of Chinese was a phrase taught them before they took
off, saying that they were Americans, but their pronunciation was so
poor that no one could make out what they were saying. Some of the
officials at the courthouse sent a message over to the residence asking
that one of the priests come over and int4rpret. When Father Moore met
them, and go the story, but only in a very brief way for the flyers were
naturally still skeptical about where they were, who these Americans
were, etc., etc. After the story had been told, and all questions
answered that they could answer, they went over to the residence to
At first only two flyers were brought in. Some hours later another one
was brought in. When I arrived back three were there, and two still
missing, one being the pilot.
The pilot, and leader, Lieutenant Watson who was brought in the next day
said that when he jumped and pulled the ripcord he was tangled up in the
parachute cords and when it opened, one of the cords was under his
armpit. When it opened it jerked his arm and shoulder up so hard that
his shoulder was dislocated. He landed in a tiny stream, and since his
arm and shoulder was paining him so terribly the first thing he did was
to reach into his survival kit and get out a tube
of Novocain and gave himself a shot. He said he must have given
himself an extra large shot, for he passed out, and he did not awake
until the next morning, and found himself lying in this tiny stream of
water. Just across from the stream was a house, and he made his way
there. He knew no Chinese, and the people, only some women at this time,
knew no English, but the people saw that he was in trouble and invited
him inside. They made signs to him to remove his wet clothing so
they could dry them, which he did, and they gave him a blanket to cover
himself and to keep warm.
The fact that he was taken in and treated so well showed two things. The
first was the innate hospitality of the Chinese. And secondly we
American missionaries were the only foreigners of any kind in that whole
area, and the only foreigners most of the Chinese bad ever seen were
missionaries, these people undoubtedly thought that this flyer was a
missionary, and they knew they had nothing to fear from us missionaries.
So they took him in, undoubtedly thinking he was an American missionary.
The shoulder of Lieutenant Watson was paining him again by this time
that he took another shot and slept most of the day.
And one of the first courtesies a Chinese shows a guest is to offer him,
or her, food. Being country people, the hosts of Lieutenant Watson had
nothing to offer him but rice and. a few vegetables. And one of the
side-dishes that most Chinese dearly love is red peppers. So since they
love red peppers, they offered Lieutenant Watson some also. Nob knowing
what they were saying, or What
it was, he took a whole mouthful. This is something that even the
Chinese who are used to eating red peppers do not do, and it almost
burned the lining out of his mouth, and he had to force some of the rice
down to get rid of the peppers.
Later in the day the men returned, and after some discussion they
decided to go to Ihwang and report the event to the officials, or the
Catholic residence. Before they ever got to town the met people with
whom they talked of the event, and learned that other Americans had also
fallen out of the sky, so they went to the officials and reported the
happening. Soldiers were sent out and they escorted, and finally the
entire crew were reunited at the Catholic mission.
Due to the innate friendliness of the Chinese, and their good will,
everything worked out o.k., but they could have been led to the Japanese
also had they been in the vicinity. This actually did happen to one or
two of the planes that landed in occupied territory. None
Of the men put up any
resistance in spite of the fact that they did not knew whether the
natives they met were either Chinese or Japanese, and whether they were
friendly or not; whether they were in unoccupied territory or not. They
were excessively naive, but who knows what could or should have been
done in this case. Definitely the right thing to do was what they did,
and since all worked out well, I guess that was the right thing to do.
Medicine was surely not one of the strong points in China. And in those
days the only doctors that were available were herb doctors. When
Lieutenant Watson arrived at the residence, and told us of his accident,
I had a Chinese doctor come and try to put the dislocated. shoulder back
into place. However, by this time the muscles in the arm and shoulder
had contracted, and with no pain-killer, the doctor made a few efforts
to put the shoulder back into place, but the pain was so severe that
Lieutenant Watson could not bear it. likewise, by this time the pain had
subsided somewhat unless he moved the shoulder, and he Wan not sure if
it was really dislocated or not. So it was left as it
During all this time, none of the flyers told. us the real
story. They had been briefed not to speak with anyone about the raid,
etc., and they did not. However, after a day or so, word came over the
radio of the raid, telling all about it, etc., with the single exception
that it was never revealed from whence the planes took off. When they
received this news, then they told us the whole story.
After a few days we likewise got word that the other men taking part in
the raid, and downed, all of them east of us, were going to come through
Kienshiang, 50 miles on the other side of the mountain from Ihwang.
Consequently I took the crew there, so they could meet up with General
Doolittle, and join the group on their way to Chungking. Lieutenant
Watson was unable to walk, because of his shoulder, and neither could he
ride my horse, so we hired a sedan chair, and he was carried for two
days till we reached Kienhsiang.
The Irish Columban fathers were at Nanhsing or Kienohan, and they
were wonderful men, filled with good spirit and and hospitality, Bishop
Cleary was their head, and he was a wonderfully kind and
solicitous man; so much so that we privately said. the was like an “old
woman” in taking care of you, In this instance be really proved himself
to be one, for when we arrived, he refused to let the men stay in the
Catholic mission, He said that the Irish were neutrals and if it got
out, which he said it surely would, then the Japs would probably
retaliate by bombing them, etc. As a result, the airmen were put up in a
hotel in A town by the mayor, The accommodations were about as good as
the town afforded, but were not as good as at the mission, and worst of
all, since none of them spoke Chinese, and none of the Chinese spoke
English. As a result I spent most of my time there, and should have
spent all of it, instead of sleeping at the mission.
Alter a day or two General Doolittle and about 30 airmen from the downed
planes came through on a chartered bus, and our group joined them, and
proceeded to Chungking.
Before leaving however, a German doctor, hired by the mission there, put
the shoulder of Lieutenant Watson back into place.
A sort of cloud surrounds the events alter they left. In spite of all
that we did for them; taking care of them for 4-5 days in Ihwang, and
then escorting them 50 miles over the mountains to Nanhsing, I never
heard a single word from any one of the afterwards. After the war was
over, and I was in the states, I wrote to Lieutenant Watson, and
received a letter from his father, who thanked me for what I had done
for his son, etc., but he never said one word about the present
whereabouts of his son; what he was doing, how he was, etc. All I could
conclude was that Lieutenant Watson had later been killed or died, and
the father could not bring himself to talk about it.
And so to the present day I have not the slightest idea of what happened
to any of the men in later life. A book, and later it was made into a
movie, came out about the event, called. THIRTY MINUTES OVER TOKYO. I
read both the book and saw the movie, and I guess it was just about as
factual as any movie is-------which isn’t very much.
Surely the part about what happened to the men after they wore downed
was not very factual. All along the way it was the Catholic priests who
helped them in every possible way. And that for a very good reason; at
that time Catholic priests were the only foreigners in this part of
China. And without this help from the priests, all of the airmen would
have eventually arrived in Chungking, but it would have been
tremendously more difficult and inconvenient if they had not had someone
to interpret for them, and explain what was going on. This fact is not
so much played down in the movie as just omitted, except for a brief
reference. And most of the praise for their safety and being able to get
back safely was attributed to the Chinese peasants, acting alone. It is
true that the Chinese did treat them well, and helped them, but with the
language barrier, without foreigners to interpret and help it would have
been an entirely different story.
As mentioned previously, President Roosevelt deliberately concealed
where General Doolittle’s planes took off from. I believe that he at
onetime fictitiously said they took off from “Shangri La” the
novelist Hilton’s “paradise”. And making just this one statement: that
they came from Shangri-La, might have tipped the scale that caused us,
and millions of Chinese, trouble, loss, and death for many. “Shangri
La” has a very definite oriental sound about it, and the Japanese
might never have heard of Hilton’s novel, or of “Shangri La”, and to the
Japanese it might have sounded like some Chinese name for either a town
or an airfield.
The boat sighted by the ship bringing General Doolittle closer to Japan,
and which was sunk by the American ship, never did radio to Japan, and
so the raid caught Japan completely unawares and unprepared, and Japan
never did discover just where the planes came from.
At this time there were a few make-shift airfields in China, but ones
able to accommodate large planes existed only in the
extreme western part of Free China, around Chungking. In Kienhsian, or
Nanhsing, where I took the fliers they had a small field, but it would
accommodate only small planes. A somewhat larger one existed 100 miles
to the south, at Kanchow, where the Eastern Vincentians were.
So the Japs not knowing from whence the places took off, and