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