Held In: GERMAN PRISON SHIP OFF THE COAST OF AFRICA, JAPANESE
PRISON SHIP, YOKOHAMA AND OSAKA JAPAN
Long Interned: 1170 days
at Capture: 19
Received: PURPLE HEART MEDAL, POW MEDAL, GOOD CONDUCT MEDAL,
AMERICAN CAMPAIGN MEDAL, ASIATIC PACIFIC CAMPAIGN MEDAL, EUROPEAN
CAMPAIGN MEDAL, WW II VICTORY MEDAL
Job: ARMED GUARD GUNNER
OWNED MY BUSINESS, MULDROW REFRIGERATION
after War: REFRIGERATION AND AIR CONDITIONING
James Muldrow enlisted in the United States Navy in December 1941,
immediately after Pearl Harbor was bombed, and went to Norfolk, Virginia
for basic and gunnery training. He was then shipped to the Brooklyn, New
York Armed Guard Center for ship assignment. Jimmy was assigned to the
tanker, SS Stanvac Calcutta, in Port Arthur, Texas. Shortly after
boarding, they got under way with a load of 135,000 barrels of
His first encounter with the enemy came quickly just off the coast of
Texas when a submarine was spotted stalking them. When confirmed to be
German, we opened fire, got two direct hits and sank it. He continued
through the Caribbean into the South Atlantic. One night off the coast
of South America, we collided with a cargo ship. We limped into port at
Buenos Aires, off loaded our cargo, and under went repairs.
After repairs were completed, we sailed to Cavenaus, Columbia and picked
up a load of crude oil bound for Aruba, West Indies. The day before
arriving in Aruba, a German submarine had shelled the port and torpedoed
ships in the harbor. Seventy-two hours later, we left with a destroyer
escort bound for Montevideo, Uruguay. Upon arrival we had liberty for a
On June 6, 1942, at approximately 10:00 a.m. off the coast of Brazil we
encountered a ship out of a rainsquall flying the British flag.
Immediately the sides of the ship dropped and a German flat went up.
They opened fire with six-inch turrets and many smaller guns. Jimmy's
ship returned fire, but were no match for the German raider, Stier. The
SS Stanvac Calcutta quickly sank.
After dark, the Stier returned and picked up what was left of survivors
after being in the water for a very long time. Jimmy's left hand was
severely wounded. They were later transferred to a German prison ship
off the coast of Africa on which we stayed in the cargo hole for about
three, and a half months with no medical attention. Conditions were
atrocious. In Singapore James was put on a Japanese prison ship on its
way to Japan.
Jimmy was interned in Japanese prisoner of war camps in Yokohama and
Osaka. Conditions were bad, they were dirty, hungry, and tired, and the
guards took pleasure in making things worse. They were beaten daily, and
forced to work 12 hours a day in lumberyards, foundries, and shipyards.
They never got enough to eat, only two small bowls of rice a day and if
you did not work, you did not eat. They learned to out maneuver the
guards to steal food and destroy or damage their equipment when we got
the chance. They knew, if caught, it meant punishment or death. These
challenges kept them alert. They slept on a straw mat with one blanket,
with no heat. Their clothing was discarded Japanese uniforms, which did
not fit, but they covered our thin bodies. One day their guards
disappeared and they knew the war was over.