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William Carrick Braly, Jr.

Colonel William Carrick Braly, Jr. of the US Army provided a great deal of information regarding his experience in the Philippines. He was also generous in providing documents, including his Operations Office Diary, that clearly portrays the men’s experience at Corregidor and throughout the remainder of the war, as prisoners of war.

“He begins, ‘Hostilities commenced with air raids on Pearl, and, ‘Air raids on Pearl Harbor. THIS IS NOT A DRILL!’ 

This was IT! The war we had feared was inevitable had arrived. A few days earlier I had received a letter from my wife written in San Francisco on November 18, 1941 in which she remarked:  ‘If war comes, and eveyone says it will, I suppose I need not look for you soon’. How right she was!

A state of war exists between the United States and Japan. Govern yourself accordingly. That made it official.” 

– by Colonel William C. Braly, Jr.
letter from his wife, Verna Braly

Stationed on Corregidor, Colonel Braly give a concise account of December 8, 1941 and the days that followed.

“December 29, 1941 – After a quiet morning with fleeting clouds at about 18,000 feet, the Air Raid Alarms sounded at 11:54 a.m. and the AA guns opened fire. The attacking force, which consisted of 81 medium bombers and 10 dive bombers, approached in formations of 27, broke into smaller groups of 9 each, and passed over us in wave after wave, raining bombs on our little island . . . The attach lasted until 2:15 p.m. by which time all of Corregidor had been blasted with 300 lb. bombs. No section escaped.

January 1 (1942) was a not so Happy New Year. The Japs were almost in Manilla.” 

An accomplished violinist, William Braly carefully carried his beloved violin with him throughout the war. 

“A month later (after capture), at our Tarlac camp in northern Luzon, with permission of corporal Nishiyama of the Japanese guards, I begged a cake of “fish” glue from a Filipino cobbler. Then, using a small can in a larger one for a double boiler, and my shelter tent rope in lieu of clamps, I succeeded in repairing the old fiddle satisfactorily.”

Colonel William F. Braly had somehow managed to save his violin from the Japs. His playing was often a great solace to us in the barracks and, fine musician that he was, he formed and became leader of a very good choir made up of prisoners.

We had no songbooks but happily several officer remembered the words of some of the more familiar Christmas carols, and these the choir religoulsly practiced in the days leading up to December 25.

General Wainwright’s Story, Christmas at Karenko
 Fiddle and I, by Colonel William C. Braly, Jr.

Colonel Braly was captured at Corregidor and held on Luzun, Philippines at Cabanatuan, Bilibid and Tarlac Camp. Later he was taken via “Hell Ship” to Karenko prison camp on Formosa (via Oryoku Maru) and was later liberated from Hoten prison camp at Mukden, Manchuria (via Nagaru/Otaro Maru) on August 22, 1945.

While in Hoten prison camp, a group of Dutch officers asked me (Braly) to review the Corregidor campaign for them which I did on two successive evenings. At the conclusion the senior Dutch officer, Capt. G. G. Bezuwn, Royal Netherlands Navy, thanked me kindly and closed with these words:

“Before the war, Corregidor was to us just a name on the map; during the war, it became to us a symbol of the matchless courage and fortitude of the American fighting forces; now, Corregidor has become for us a tradition!”

“May the tradition of Corregidor live on in the hearts and minds of Americans everywhere!”
Colonel William C. Braly, Jr., page 33

Photo provided by:  Xi Chapter of Kappa Sigma