Cover image for Fugitives : evading and escaping the Japanese
Fugitives : evading and escaping the Japanese
Stahl, Bob, 1920-2003.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Lexington, Ky. : University Press of Kentucky, [2001]

Physical Description:
xiii, 143 pages : illustrations, maps ; 24 cm
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Geographic Term:
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Call Number
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PS3619.T47 F84 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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" When the Japanese Imperial Forces invaded the Philippine Islands at the onset of World War II, they quickly rounded up Allied citizens on Luzon and imprisoned them as enemy aliens. These captured civilians were treated inhumanely from the start, and news of the atrocities committed by the enemy soon spread to the more remote islands to the south. Hearing this, many of the expatriates living there refused to surrender as their islands were occupied. Fugitives, based on the memoir of Jordan A. Hamner, tells the true story of a young civilian mining engineer trapped on the islands during the Japanese invasion. Instead of surrendering, he and two American co-workers volunteered their services to the Allied armed forces engaged in the futile effort to stave off the enemy onslaught. When the overwhelmed defenders surrendered to the invaders, the three men fled farther into the disease-ridden mountainous jungle. After nearly a year of nomadic wandering, they found a derelict, twenty-one foot long lifeboat in a secluded coastal bay. Hoping to sail to freedom in Australia, the trio converted the craft into a sailboat, and called it the "Or Else." They would make it to Australia -- or else. With only a National Geographic magazine map of the Malacca Islands for navigation, Hamner, his two compatriots, and two Filipino crewmen sailed their unseaworthy craft fifteen hundred nautical miles over seas controlled by the Japanese navy, touching land only briefly to replenish meager rations or evade enemy vessels. After thirty perilous days at sea, marked by nearly disastrous encounters with hostile islanders, imminent starvation, and tropical storms, the desperate fugitives reached the welcome shores of Australia.

Author Notes

Bob Stahl, a World War II agent for the Philippine Regional Section of the Allied Intelligence Bureau, operated a network of radio stations reporting espionage information and convoy sightings to General MacArthur's headquarters in Australia.

Reviews 1

Booklist Review

Stahl's short, agreeable book adds considerably to knowledge of the World War II experience of American expatriate civilians in the Philippines. When the Japanese came, mining engineer Jordan A. Hamner was on an island so isolated that it was months before the invaders bothered to occupy it permanently. By then, Hamner, a faithful diarist, was determined not to become a prisoner, and with two other Americans and two Filipinos evaded the Japanese until the five men found a small boat that could be made seaworthy. In that converted lifeboat, Or Else, the five motored, sailed, and rowed through 1,500 miles of Japanese-held waters to Northern Australia. Later, Hamner returned to the Philippines to work with guerrillas there. Stahl fills his recounting of Hamner's adventure with details of wartime life but not with either pure heroes or villains, and he proves informative and balanced on the ways Filipinos responded to their unenviable situation. --Roland Green

Table of Contents

List of Mapsp. vi
Prefacep. vii
Introductionp. xi
Prologuep. 1
1. Manilap. 5
2. Masbatep. 12
3. Evacuationp. 22
4. Back to the Minep. 29
5. Panayp. 44
6. Mindanaop. 52
7. Into the Junglep. 69
8. Preparing to Sailp. 93
9. To Australiap. 100
10. Brisbanep. 124
Epiloguep. 135
Appendix War Department Letterp. 139
Further Readingp. 141