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William Ingram - World War II

Bill Ingram joined the U.S. Navy in June, 1941 on his seventeenth birthday. At the time of the Pearl Harbor attack he was on a transport ship in the Pacific steaming toward a rendezvous with the USS Houston, a heavy cruiser sailing in the seas west of the Philippines. The Houston was sunk on February 28, 1942 in the battle of Sunda Strait, and Ingram was eventually taken captive by the Japanese. After being interrogated and being moved several times, Ingram spent the rest of the war as a POW working on the Burma Railroad; the brutal working conditions resulted in tens of thousands of deaths among the prisoners.

Interview Links

Feature Excerpt

Ship is sunk and alone in the ocean.

Abstract

Interview Session 01 (Audio)

Service on USS Houston, and capture by Japanese in Feb, 1942

Interview Session 02 (Audio)

Experiences as a POW working on the Burma Railway

Transcript

Videos

Photos

Caption

A proud Seaman Bill Ingram has his picture taken on Nob Hill, in San Francisco on November 4th, 1941.

Where:

San Francisco

When:

November 4th, 1941

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

Chief Petty Officer Bill Ingram replicates the photo taken in November, 1941 at Nob Hill in San Francisco seventy-one years later on November 5th, 2012. Ingram retired from the Navy on October 2nd, 1961.

Where:

Nob Hill in San Francisco

When:

November 5th, 2012

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

USS Houston off San Diego, California, in October 1935. The ship was commissioned in June, 1930.

Where:

San Diego, California

When:

October 1935

Ownership:

This image is considered to be in the public domain.

Caption

Seaman Bill Ingram was on leave in 1941 following his Basic Training. In the background is the Chicago and Alton Railroad station in Springfield, Illinois.

Where:

Springfield, Illinois

When:

1941

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

Bill during his ‘Boot Leave ‘in September, 1941. He’s holding his baby brother John and standing next to his mother outside their home in Springfield, Illinois.

Where:

Springfield, Illinois

When:

September, 1941

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

The USS Houston at dawn in February, 1942.

Where:

Unknown

When:

February, 1942

Ownership:

This image is considered to be in the public domain.

Caption

While Bill Ingram was a prisoner of war held by the Japanese in Burma, his captors allowed him to send this postcard to his parents in Springfield, Illinois.

Where:

Burma

When:

Circa 1944-1945

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

This is the second postcard that POW Bill Ingram was allowed to send to his parents in Springfield, Illinois by his Japanese captors. The typed comments provided by the Japanese were largely untrue.

Where:

Burma

When:

Circa 1944-1945

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo



Caption

This is the third and last postcard that POW Bill Ingram was allowed to send to his parents in Springfield, Illinois by his Japanese captors. Note the propagandistic language created by the Japanese.

Where:

Burma

When:

Circa 1944-1945

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

This group of veterans flew into New York City in the fall of 1945. Bill, front row in dark sweater, still recovering from malaria and the ravages of his POW experiences, does not remember the flight.

Where:

New York City

When:

1945

Ownership:

This image is considered to be in the public domain.

Caption

Bill Ingram in Boston, Massachusetts in 1945, shortly after his return to the United States.

Where:

Boston, Massachusetts

When:

1945

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

Bill Ingram, with his mother and father during a visit to Springfield in 1946. “The happiest day of our lives,” his mother wrote. “Our second son Billy had arrived home after three years and eight months in a Japanese Prison Camp.”

Where:

Springfield, Illinois

When:

1946

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

Bill Ingram with Dr. and Mrs. Henri Hekking while they attended a reunion in Houston Texas. Dr. Hekking, from Holland, is credited with saving countless lives while he was a POW. Hekking’s two children, 10 and 12 years old, were also prisoners.

Where:

Houston Texas

When:

Circa 1950

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

Fellow POWs Eddie Fung, Dr. Henri Hekking, Bill Ingram (in front) and Captain Archibald Fitzsimmons at a reunion in Houston, Texas sometime in the 1950s.

Where:

Houston, Texas

When:

Circa 1950

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

Bill Ingram is flanked by two Filipinos, both survivors of the Bataan Death March in 1942. The three were attending a reunion in Jacksonville, Florida in May, 2014.

Where:

Jacksonville, Florida

When:

May, 2014

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

A contemporary photo of Chief Petty Officer Bill Ingram, still able to wear his dress uniform some fifty years after his retirement.

Where:

Unknown

When:

Unknown

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo



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