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ROBERT BLATTMAN

1916 - 1961

December 24, 1945

 

(1) EARLY YEARS - Left to right: cousin, cousin, Alice Blattman (sister), William Sterling Blattman (brother), Robert M. Blattman, Virgil Blattman (brother), and cousin; (2) Blattman with Mother; (3) William (left) and Robert Blattman ca. 1955

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Robert Maxwell Blattman

 

SSgt Robert Blattman served with B Battery 1st Battalion 200th Coast Artillery.  He was one of the galiant defenders of the Philippine Islands in the opening days of World War II.  After the surrender of Bataan on 9 April 1942, Blattman would spend 3-1/2 years as a prisoner of war.

 

The following record of Robert Blattman’s life during World War II and shortly afterwards was recorded in pencil on a small notepad. Through the generosity of Robert Blattman’s brother William, and William’s grandson, Matt, we are able to share this personal, yet historic, journal. Only minor punctuation and spelling has been changed for reading ease.



August 23rd, 1941, left Fort Bliss on my way to the Philippine Islands. Arrived in San Francisco on the 25th. Stayed at Angel Island 2 days, then sailed and arrived in the Philippines on the 17th of Sept.[1] Went from there to Stotsenberg.

 

About the 22nd, we set up and waited. War then started on the 8th of Dec. We fought from then until the surrender of Bataan which occurred on the 9th of April. I then made the March to prison Camp O’Donnell. Stayed there nearly a month, then went on a work detail. I worked on this detail for 25 days where I ate good and gained some weight. I then went to prison camp Cabanatuan, arriving there on the 25th (approximately) of June. I worked there for nearly a month, then contracted dysentery and was sent to the hospital. I stayed in the hospital for 14 months, then went back to work and worked until I was sent to Japan, which was on the 4th of August 1944.[2] I then worked there until we were released, or rather, until the war was over which was the 15th of August, 1945. I then waited there in the camp until Sept. the 13th when the Americans took over. I left that camp on the 16th of Sept. and went by train to Nagasaki where I got on the ship and sailed to Okinawa. Stayed there for 4 days, then flew to Manila and stayed at the 29th Replacement Center until the 9th of Oct. when I sailed for Seattle, Wash.[3] I arrived in Seattle on the 27th of Oct. Went from there to the Madigan Hospital in Tacoma. Arrived at the hospital on the 28th. Left there Thursday the 1st. I got on the hospital train and we pulled out at 2 o’clock (the First).

 

Arrived in Santa Fe on the 4th of Nov. Stayed in town that nite. Then on the 5th, caught a ride on in to Hollman, arriving here at 3 o’clock that afternoon. I stayed here that nite, the next day and nite, then went to Ocate, seeing Grandad and the rest of the family there. The same evening, Uncle Henry brought me back to Wagon Mound where Sy Schmidt was waiting for me. Sy and I then went to his place where I stayed until Friday evening. Sy and his boys went hunting then, so I came to Wagon Mound, and from there, I went on to Grandad’s at Ocate. I stayed with him until Sunday when Grady came up. I went with Grady to his place at Watrous, staying there until Tuesday the 13th. Junior then took me to Las Vegas and I caught a ride then to Santa Fe. I stayed that nite with Ben Manzanares in town with some of his relatives.[4] We went to the hospital the next day. I got a 45 day furlough starting the 30th of Nov. I stayed in Santa Fe until the 2nd of Dec. when I came to Las Vegas arriving there at noon.

 

I went to the bus depot and found my mother and sister, who had just arrived from Idaho there. I stayed with them that day and came on up here to Hollman that nite. I have been staying here occasionally, going to Las Vegas for an evening. Friday the 7th, I went to Las Vegas to a servicemen’s dance. Had a good time and met different people. Mother and Alice came to town Sat. and we all came on out there that night.

The SS President Pierce was taken over by the Army in July 1941 and renamed USAT Hugh L. Scott (AP-43). She was sunk by a German U-Boat off the coast of Morroco on November 12, 1942.

 

The SS President Coolidge sank after sailing into a US minefield in the channel approach to Espirito Santos Island, New Hebrides on October 26, 1942.

Notes:

 

1. The 200th Coast Artillery (Anti-aircraft) Regiment was sent overseas on two ships: 1st Battalion left San Francisco on 30 August 1941 on the SS President Pierce, arriving in the Philippines on 17 September 1941; 2nd Battalion departed San Francisco on 9 September 1941 on board the SS President Coolidge, arriving in the Philippines on 26 September 1941.

 

2. Robert Blattman’s name appears on rescue rosters for Cabanatuan (in the Philippines) and for Fukuoka 3B/Yahata (in Japan). While no explaination can be provided for the first, Blattman’s own testimony places him in Japan. The most likely “Hell Ship” to carry him to Japan was the Nissyo Maru, although this is not a known fact!

 

3. This information corresponds with information known about the HMS Speaker, although there is no evidence to prove that it was HMS Speaker that carried Blattman back to the States at this time.

 

4. Ben Manzanares, H Btry 515th Coast Artillery (AA), died 9 January 1985.