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CHRISTMAS 1943

 

BY George W. Wills

 

O, Star of Bethlehem, tonight,

O'er a world that writhes in pain,

Show us by thy brilliant light,

The way to peace again.

 

May thy brilliance penetrate,

The inner hearts of men,

And there instill, instead of hate,

Hope and peace and love again.

 

And may we, in our hearts tonight,

Weary of battleshield and sword,

Follow thy celestial flight,

To find the crib of Christ Our Lord.

 

There to adore on bended knee,

As did the shepherds Christmas Morn,

The King in all His majesty,

The Prince of Peace again is born.

 

No roll of drums, no martial band,

This King comes not with flag unfurled,

Yet clasped within His tender hand,

Is a wondrous gift for all the world.

 

This gift is hope and peace and love,

For all men near and far,

If only they will look above,

And follow again the eastern star.

 

O, Star of Bethlehem, tonight,

O'er a world that writhes in pain,

Show us by thy brilliant light,

The way to peace again.

 

Courtesy of
CAPT Thomas Golder, USN (ret.),
His Nephew

George Wills (post-war)

Battery B 60th Coast Artillery

Fushiki POW Camp, Japan


60th CA Insignia

From CAPT Thomas Golder, USN (ret.):

 

Uncle Georgie was a member of Battery B, 60th Shore Coast Artillery, a group that originated from Texas. After Corregidor fell, we didn’t know if he was dead or alive until we received a small yellow postcard from the Red Cross that had Japanese printing on it. It also had a short typed message from Uncle Georgie. We received a couple more of those postcards in the following years. We knew then that he was alive and being held as a prisoner of war.

 

After we heard of the Rangers freeing the prisoners at the Cabanatuan Camp, my Father took me into New York to a theater where some of the freed prisoners were staging a re-enactment of the infamous Death March. Afterwards, we went up on the stage and my Father was asking a very tall, gruff looking Sergeant if he knew George Wills. The sergeant exclaimed, “Willsey!” “The Poet!”

 

We learned that he had been shipped off to Japan in the “Death Ships” before the famous raid by the U.S. Rangers. When he was liberated in Japan, he was being taken away on a stretcher, and past a dead Japanese soldier, still holding his rifle, he asked the stretcher bearers to grab the rifle for him. The rifle found a home in my mother’s closet, and all the boys, at least snuck in there at one time or another, to hold and fool with the weapon. He spent some time in Letterman General Hospital in San Francisco before traveling to the East Coast. While visiting us, he regaled us with stories, some of which might have been exaggerated at one point or another. He told us of burying millions of Philippine pesos in a cave and told us he planned to organize a group to go and dig the booty up some day.

 

He also told us the story of the day the first Japanese shell fell on Corregidor: Being a Corporal, on Sunday he was assigned a group of 5 privates to go and dig a foxhole to prepare for the impending invasion. The group was not very motivated and in over an hour had only dug a large hole in length and width but only about two inches deep. This is when the first shell landed somewhere nearby. In an instant, the foxhole was stacked up with the entire working party including Uncle Georgie, one on top of the other!

 

Another story always fascinated us. He said that we were not old enough to be told how his friend Elliot broke his ankle, but when we got older he would tell us. He took the explanation to his grave. I did find a Private Lewis Elliot in a book on the POWs but never located him to find the reason for his injury.