World War II Diary Returned To Sailor
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) _ The diary of a PT boat sailor who was shipwrecked in the Philippines during World War II is being returned to its author, thanks to a reunion of PT boaters.
The 152-page typewritten diary, moldy and tattered from being stored underground in a piece of bamboo, chronicles the guerrilla war of Iliff David Richardson, who swam to the town of Cantilan on the northern end of the island of Mindanao after his boat was destroyed in 1941.
″He carried on guerrilla actions for three years with makeshift weapons,″ said Robert D. Hostetter of suburban Beaverton, who obtained Richardson’s manuscript just after the war when his PT boat stopped at Cantilan.
Two copies of the diary were made on a typewriter borrowed from the mayor of Cantilan, Hostetter said. One was turned over to the Navy and returned to Richardson after the war.
Hostetter’s copy was buried by priests in a Mindanao churchyard to prevent it from falling into enemy hands, Hostetter said. ″When the priests asked me if I would like to have that copy, I took it,″ Hostetter said.
The 26-chapter diary, Hostetter said, tells of ″night patrols, attacks on Japanese war vessels, being attacked by enemy aircraft, boats scuttled after going aground.″
The impetus for the dairy’s return was the 22nd annual reunion of PT Boats Inc., which concludes here Monday. The reunion of the international non-profit organization, based in Memphis, Tenn., attracted nearly 800 delegates.
Hostetter said the reunion prompted him to find Richardson, who lives in Houston, and offer to return the diary. Richardson, who did not attend the reunion, said he was pleased to get back his diary.
″It brings back the thrill and excitement and imagination of my youth,″ Richardson said of the diary in a telephone interview. ″It associates everything that I was going through there, including the bad parts - dysentery and being away from everything.″
While living on Mindanao, Richardson said, he was among people so primitive that ″a bolo knife and salt were their only concessions to civilization.″
″This was a far cry from the atomic war that was going on at the same time, a throwback to the pre-Christian era,″ he said. ″I viewed it as something terribly special.″
Richardson’s wartime exploits were the subject of a 1945 best-selling book by Ira Wolfert, ″American Guerrilla in the Philippines.″
The legendary patrol torpedo boats, which rescued Gen. Douglas MacArthur when the Japanese overran the Philippines and on which John F. Kennedy saw duty, were recalled affectionately at the reunion.
″Plywood speedboats was what they were,″ said reunion chairman Albert L. McCready, who served on PT491 from the winter of 1943 until war ended in the Philippines. ″It was a real thrill to ride those babies.″