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Zero Ward at Cabanatuan

Zero Ward at Cabanatuan American History Famous Historical Events Social Studies World War II Disasters

Prisoners at Cabantuan who were deathly ill were cared-for at “0" Ward. 

This image depicts "Zero Ward at Cabanatuan." Drawn by Medical Officer Eugene Jacobs, this illustrates the place where dying POWs had a “zero chance” to survive.

Many Americans breathed their last here.

Eugene C. Jacobs was a medical doctor who endured grueling experiences during WWII. Serving in The Pacific theater of war, Dr. Jacobs was able to record events in a sketchbook as well as helping patients who were ill or dying.

We can see many of Dr. Jacobs’ drawings in a book called “Blood Brothers: A Medic’s Sketchbook. Published c1985, by Carlton Press (in New York), the book is edited by Sam Rohlfing. A copy of this rare book is part of the Roderick Hall Collection maintained at the Filipinas Heritage Library (FHL) in Makati City, Philippines.

Curators at the FHL provide this background about Dr. Jacobs (who attained the rank of Colonel and was the commander of the Camp John Jay Hospital at the start of the war):

The only regular army military doctor in northern Luzon [one of the main islands of The Philippines], Jacobs was severely tested from the first day of the war, when the camp was bombed.

Unable to get to Bataan [a peninsula in the southern part of Luzon] because of the speed of the Japanese advance, Jacobs joined Lt. Col. Everett Warner, Lt. Col. Guillermo Nakar and other officers in the 1st Guerrilla Regiment in the Cagayan area [in the northeastern part of Luzon].

After the surrender of Corregidor [a Philippine island just south of the Bataan Peninsula], Col. Warner surrendered his command to the Japanese and Jacobs became a prisoner of war. He served as a camp doctor in Cabanatuan, then Bilibid Prison [located in Manilla].

He was on board the hell ship Oryoku Maru when it was sunk in Subic Bay; transferred to the Enoura Maru and the Brazil Maru, he managed to survive until Fukuoka [on the northern shore of Japan's Kyushu Island], and was finally transferred to Mukden, Manchuria, where he was liberated [from a Japanese prison camp] in 1945.

The title of this [personal] memoir comes from the Japanese practice of grouping POWs into ten: if one escaped, the other nine would be executed. The members of the group of ten were thus known as “blood brothers.”

Illustrated by sketches drawn by the author in POW camp in a small notebook he picked up on the way.

Eugene Jacobs lived until February 24, 2000. To learn more about him, see the Eugene Jacobs Collection at the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor Museum located in Wellsburg, West Virginia.

To see more of Dr. Jacobs' drawings, see the photostream of "The American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor" online via Flickr.

Click on the image for a better view.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5124stories and lessons created

Original Release: Oct 07, 2013

Updated Last Revision: Oct 20, 2017


Media Credits

Image online, courtesy Library of Congress.

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