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MILITARY BOOKS

Billy D. Templeton

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Billy D. Templeton, USA “shares a piece of WWII history through the eyes of a young man who lived the excitement of joining the US Army Air Corps in 1939, then the horror of battle and captivity through the war. In 1941, he was a crew member on the first mass trans-Pacific flight on B-17s. Just a short month after they landed at Clark Field in Manila, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. The next morning, they attacked Manila and the entire fleet at Clark Field was destroyed. We follow him to Bataan, Camp O'Donnell, Cabanatuan, on a "hell ship" and into a slave labor camp in Manchuria.”  Billy D. Templeton is the author of Manila Bay Sunset: The Long March into Hell.

One reader of Manila Bay Sunset: The Long March into Hell said, “Billy D Templeton’s book, Manila Bay Sunset: The Long March into Hell, is the remarkable story of an ordinary man thrust into extraordinary situations. Essentially a memoir, it is at once highly personal, immediate and informative. Yet it also stands as history, an important record of events that should not be forgotten.

 

Mr. Templeton was one who was there. He was there when, mere hours after the attack of Pearl Harbor, Japanese bombs rained down on the Philippines, destroying both his bomber and its home base. He was there during the long retreat into the Bataan Peninsula. He witnessed the remarkable unpreparedness of the United States at the beginning of World War II. He was there during the infamous Death March, forced to endure unbelievable acts of Japanese cruelty. He rode on the "Hell Ships", surviving inhumane conditions only to be find another nightmare awaiting him in the cold depths of Manchuria. Finally liberated after the end of the war, he suffered serious wounds on the return voyage to freedom.

 


In common with other survivors of unimaginable horror, his rendering is in a matter-of-fact style. Like "Woman in Berlin", and "Shoah", stories told by other people helplessly caught in the vice grips of war, he tells his story in a remarkably dispassionate way. As he reflects on the Death March: "I concentrated on putting one foot in front of the other. I had no choice. I was twenty years old. I wanted to stay alive. I retreated into myself."

 

Still there is certain pathos that creeps into the text. His sense of abandonment is clear. America placed him and thousands of others in harms way. With the fleet laying on the bottom of Pearl Harbor, there were no longer the means to rescue them. Mr. Templeton and his comrades paid the price. Circumstance arose where Americans unwittingly added to the danger. An American submarine fired on his Hell Ship, unaware of its cargo of American POW's. Later, American planes bomb his camp in Manchuria. Once home, he suffers the final indignity of the denial of a battlefield promotion.

 

Mr. Templeton's story stands as a triumph of one human being over the inhuman acts of others. Although it chronicles a personal victory, it stands as something more, a victory of the human spirit over evil. Although perhaps not meant to be, this book is inspirational, a story nearly as inspiring as the man himself.”

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