Beatings, murder, beheadings

While remembrance of World War II atrocities against the Chamorros occur every year for the massacres at Fena in Santa Rita and Faha and Tinta in Merizo, as well as the Manenggon concentration camp, there were atrocities by Japanese soldiers against the Chamorros that took place on smaller scales in other areas.

The other atrocities also took place in the weeks that preceded the American invasion of Guam in July 1944, at places such as Ta’i (in Mangilao), Hagåtña and Yigo. They included the murder of Father Jesus Baza Duenas, his nephew and several other men at Ta’i; the killing of eleven men, women, and children in Hagåtña on 20 July; and the beheading of dozens of young Chamorros in early August who had carried war supplies to Yigo for the Japanese military.

In Ta’i, Judge Joaquin V.E. Manibusan witnessed the beheading of three Chamorro men by a Japanese taicho (head officer). Manibusan wrote about that day fifty years later.

Manibusan was the leader of a team of Chamorros assigned to dig several holes, which were used as graves for the three beheaded men, and he and his team members witnessed the executions along with several nurses. Several of his team members were later killed in Yigo, according to Manibusan, and one of the nurses—Mariquita Perez Howard—was soon after killed by the Japanese. Manibusan described several other occasions when Japanese officers who threatened him with their swords, in one instance wounding him and leaving a scar on his forehead.

Also in Ta’i, Father Duenas, known as an outspoken defender of the Catholic faith and of the Chamorro people, was tortured and executed by the Japanese only nine days before the return of American forces. Duenas was arrested by Japanese authorities in Inarajan on 8 July 1944. He had often angered the Japanese by opposing their directives and was suspected of aiding American fugitive George Tweed and other American efforts. He was arrested along with his nephew, former Island Attorney Eduardo Duenas, and both men were tortured in Inarajan and the Kempeitai headquarters in Agana Heights. On July 12, they were beheaded in Ta’i along with Vicente Baza and Juan (Mali) Pangelinan, who had also helped Tweed.

In Hagåtña, on the night of 20 July, eleven Chamorro men, women and children who were accused of signaling US aircraft were bayoneted to death by the Japanese. Two teenagers escaped by faking death after being stabbed by bayonets.

Some of the largest massacres occurred in Yigo towards the end of the American invasion. As the American forces drove the Japanese northward, the Americans came across scenes of atrocities inflicted against Chamorros. On 8 August, a Marine patrol found thirty dead Chamorros around a Japanese truck north of Yigo village at Chagui’an. The next day, near the same area, another patrol came across another twenty-one bodies. These dead Chamorros were forced by the Japanese to carry ammunition and supplies to the north, and then were killed by the Japanese to prevent them from providing information to the Americans.

By Leo Babauta

For further reading

Howard, Chris Perez. Mariquita: A Tragedy of Guam. Hagåtña: Cyfred, Ltd., 2002.

Guam War Survivors Stories (accessed 18 April 2013).

Manibusan, Joaquin V.E. “In Ta’i, A Day of Terror and Tragedy,” In Liberation — Guam Remembers: A Golden Salute for the 50th anniversary of the Liberation of Guam. Edited by Tony Palomo and Paul J. Borja. Hagåtña: Golden Salute Committee publications subcommittee, 1994. Available online at War in the Pacific National Historical Park (accessed 18 April 2013).

Palomo, Tony. “A Time of Sorrow and Pain.” War in the Pacific National Historical Park (accessed August 2, 2010).

Palomo, Tony. “A Man of Courage and Conviction.” In Liberation — Guam Remembers: A Golden Salute for the 50th anniversary of the Liberation of Guam. Edited by Tony Palomo and Paul J. Borja. Hagåtña: Golden Salute Committee publications subcommittee, 1994. Available online at War in the Pacific National Historical Park (accessed 18 April 2013).

Rogers, Robert F. Destiny’s Landfall: A History of Guam. Honolulu: University of Hawai`i Press, 1995.