The recent postings (Sallyann Wagoner's B-29 Superfortress) re "Honey Buckets" took my memories back to POW
days in Tokyo. After days in the solitary cages at Kempei Tai and then at Tokyo (Ueno) Zoo I was relocated to Omori
prison camp. At Omori there were 32 B 29ers assembled from various prior areas of confinement. Great to be out
of solitary and to be able to be amongst fellow B 29ers and talk and see the sky.
After a while we were assigned the job of "cleaning up" the city of Omori adjacent our camp (kind description of our
holding facility). Raids by B 29s had demolished/burned out much of the city. Our function was to develop
a garden area in Omori contiguous the railroad tracks on the Tokyo-Yokohama rail sector. We had no tools
and very little strength/ability but did manage to dig/scrape trenches to plant our garden.
We needed fertilizer. Several teams were formed to accomplish that mission. Major Bob Goldsworthy (of Z 1)
and I were a team. With a 10 or 12 foot bamboo pole and a wooden bucket suspended thereon we set out each day
to gather human refuse to fertilize our garden area. Sanitary toilet facilities were non existent. We improvised
a ladle and scooped out the human refuse from homes in the now destroyed neighborhood. Long tapeworms prevailed
in this crude operation. Then we loaded the refuse into our "honey buckets" and suspended on the pole between our shoulders
we transported to our garden area; poured into the trenches to serve as fertilizer. Needless to say; we were never allowed
to eat any of crops that resulted. Extreme hunger caused some of our group to violate the rule and severe immediate beatings
by guards ensued if our guys were caught.
Cucumbers and large white radishes (Diakons) were our most prolific crops. The rate of growth assisted by the earlier
described fertilizer was amazing. In the vegetable section of an occasional store these days I will see and purchase
one of the large Diakons. I only take a bit or two. It's not about fulfilling hunger - it's about defying
former rules that prevailed in the days of starvation long ago.
August 15, 1945 was the final day we 32 B 29 guys worked in the Omori garden area. I hope that some of the Japanese
folks living in our former garden area enjoyed the crops left behind. Those folks were starving also.
I will never forget those days of "Honey Buckets".