Fourth Marines Band: "Last China Band"
 

THE EDGE

A collection of photos, maps and articles about the Fourth Marines, and writings, notes and poetry scratched in his diary while a Japanese prisoner of war during World War II. By: First Lieutenant George Francis, United States Marine Corps / Retired

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Acknowledgements
Prologue
Forward
Introduction
The Bronze Star Medal
The Photos
 
CHAPTER ONE - "The Edge" Page 13
CHAPTER TWO - First Duty Stations Page 19
CHAPTER THREE - We Were Captured Page 39
CHAPTER FOUR - In The Camp Page 59
CHAPTER FIVE - Return to Niigata Page 80
From the Diary
The Letters
Poems and Short Stories
"Marines in Review"
Epilogue
Chronology
Bibliography
Page 91
 
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

My children: Burton, Karl & Robert, to whom I owe a debt of thanks and to Robert for his generous sponsorship of this book.
My grandchildren: Justine, Jennifer, Brian, John, Sam, Jason & Sarah Francis and their son Ethan.
Colonel Robert Dickman and my sister Jean Dickman, for keeping my morale together.
Captain Earl Blount, USMCR, veteran of Okinawa and my former commanding officer, a true and helpful friend.
Bertie: mother of my children.
Ben Davis: schoolmate & best friend, king of the saxophone.
Ken Cambon: my Niigata brother.
And my many friends in the Marine Corps, many of them gone but never forgotten.

 
PROLOGUE
“I will reach down into the gutter of sin and lift my fellow men...
from its slime and degradation.
I will become a brother...
to those who have fallen.
I will not look for errors, but will search for good.
I will smile at the storms that be heaped upon me for so doing.”

Obligation, Sons and Daughters of the Silence
 
FORWARD

Some 30,000 Americans were captured in the Philippine Islands and imprisoned by the Japanese during World War Il. About 12,000 of these brave men survived the horror of those infamous camps. George Francis was one of those survivors. To deal with the tremendous shock of being taken prisoner and subsequent inhuman treatment as well as the severe deprivation of food, inadequate shelter, lack of proper clothing and sheer helplessness at facing an extremely bleak future required a tremendous faith and will to survive.

According to a report in the American Journal of Psychiatry by Cdr. J. E. Nardini, a doctor and himself a prisoner of war, factors needed to survive included: “a strong motivation for life with persistent exertion of will, good general intelligence and constitution, sensitivity, sense of humor, courage and some luck.” George Francis had such qualities in abundance.

 
INTRODUCTION

George Francis is a very special and unusual human being. Sensitive, creative, intellectual, poet, writer, musician — he is not the prototype of the recruiting poster United States Marine. Yet, he served his country — and the Corps — with dedication, honor and courage in two wars which included three and one-half years in Japanese prisoner of war camps. His outstanding Marine service was recognized when he was commissioned out of the ranks as a second lieutenant in 1951. After retiring from active duty in 1953, George fashioned a new career in manufacturing where he established a successful furniture business.

What follows is a collection of George Francis’ writings ranging from notes scratched in his diary while a prisoner of war to poetry and a radio script from later years. It includes a transcript of his recollections as a POW and a surprising account of his visit to the site in Japan where he was imprisoned. The book, commissioned by his son, Robert, is intended for George’s family and close friends. It has been my privilege to assemble most of the material and serve as editor. Recently, George was asked to summarize his thoughts about the ordeal in the camps. Without hesitation, he replied, “I wouldn’t take a million dollars to do it again. But, neither would I take a million dollars for that experience.” He said he sat down one day for an hour, reflecting on what had happened to him and he finally decided that life was much too short to spend it hating the people who had captured or killed almost two-thirds of his regiment. “The Japanese weren’t all bad”, he concluded.

Sadly, the effects of the three plus years on a near-starvation diet in the POW camps have taken a late toll. George’s eyesight is now paying the price of severe vitamin deficiency and is slowly fading. He may be losing that eyesight but George Francis will never lose his vision.

Earl Blount, journalist, fellow Marine and long-time friend. March 1, 1997

 

THE BRONZE STAR MEDAL
 

The Bronze Star Medal is awarded to a person in any branch of the military service who “shall have distinguished himself by heroic or meritorious achievement or service...in connection with military operations against an armed enemy.”

First Lieutenant George Francis of the United States Marine Corps, Retired, received the Bronze Star Medal on May 7,1992 for his action against the enemy at Bataan and Corregidor in World War II. He was a prisoner of the Japanese Army from May 6, 1942 to September 8, 1945.

 
THE PHOTOS
Fourth Marine Band, Shanghai, 1940

Gus Olaquez, Band Master (left) and George Francis

A drawing of George by a fellow POW, March 1944, Niigata Japan, POW Camp 5-B George is homeward bound, Hawaii, October 1945

Staff Sergeant George Francis, Home Duty

A little jazz with George on trumpet (second from left) Quantico, Virginia 1946
Second Lieutenant George Francis, an officer and a gentleman, Camp Pendleton 1951

“Marines in Review” George Francis and Announcer Bill Taylor Also Participated in Marines "At Ease", Produced Live Weekly at KTLA TV's Hollywood Studios
 

Technicalities - Second Lieutenant George Francis (left), writer-producer; Captain Roger D. Rice, supervisor; Mr. Frank Morris, ABC director; and Mr. John Neal, ABC engineer, discuss a technical point on a recent radio broadcast of the coast-to-coast Marine-performed show. The big show is handled by Marines familiar with radio. (Photo and caption from TV-Radio Life Magazine, December 20-26, 1952.)

George is honored on Veteran's Day 1995
 

Click Here for George Francis Family Photos Page
 

copyright ©January 1, 1997 by Francis, George. All rights reserved under International Copyright Conventions. No part of this manuscript may be reproduced or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronically or mechanically, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the authors. Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data: Francis, George.

 
Full Text of THE EDGE Please Click Below for:
CHAPTER ONE - "The Edge" Page 13
CHAPTER TWO - First Duty Stations Page 19
CHAPTER THREE - We Were Captured Page 39
CHAPTER FOUR - In The Camp Page 59
CHAPTER FIVE - Return to Niigata Page 80
From the Diary
The Letters
Poems and Short Stories
"Marines in Review"
Epilogue
Chronology
Bibliography
Page 91
 

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