Q. Were Japanese soldiers ever brought to POW camps in the U.S. during World War II?
-- I.P., of Belleville
A. As I wrote nearly a decade ago, many still are amazed when they learn that nearly 400,000 German soldiers were held at more than 500 POW camps throughout the U.S. during World War II.
Well, the same holds true for the Japanese. The numbers are far smaller because if you've watched films like "Letters from Iwo Jima," you know the Japanese ethos was to fight to the death. Being taken prisoner was prohibited by the country's military Senjinkun military code issued to all soldiers in January 1941.
"Never live to experience shame as a prisoner," read the pocket-sized volume, an order that is thought to have led to numerous suicides.
Nevertheless, even the Japanese government's wartime POW information bureau reported that 42,543 Japanese surrendered. The vast majority of those captured by the U.S. were turned over to Australia and New Zealand for internment. But an estimated 4,200 may have found their way to the U.S.
Most of those were prisoners who were believed to possess key technical or strategic information. They were sent to special intelligence-gathering facilities at Fort Hunt, Va., and Camp Tracy, Calif. Others were distributed throughout the United States, including Fort McCoy, Wis., the largest holding facility for Japanese prisoners.
At first, officers in the field thought taking Japanese prisoners was a waste of time, figuring they'd be as tough as nails during interrogation. But apparently once they had broken the rules by surrendering, many Japanese felt they had little left to lose. Treated decently by their captors, the prisoners produced information that far outweighed the cost of the camps, according to historian Ikuhiko Hata.
For a detailed account, try Alexander Corbin's "The History of Camp Tracy" or Ulrich Straus' "The Anguish of Surrender: Japanese POWs of World War II" at amazon.com.
Q. Does Prairie Farms still makes its wonderful peach cobbler ice cream? It was so good, I can't believe they would stop selling it.
-- Glenda Bajoras, of Millstadt
A. I scream, you scream, we all scream for peach cobbler ice cream -- but it won't do anyone a bit of good.
Every year, Prairie Farms tempts customers with what it calls "feature flavors," which it offers for three months and then replaces with the next one. Peach cobbler was a feature flavor last year, which is why you no longer can find it.
The current seasonal treat is raspberry cobbler, which soon will give way to Cowsmoopolitan (a mix of vanilla and chocolate with solid chocolate cows) and eventually the company's annual peppermint concoction for Christmas.
One cold glimmer of hope: A spokeswoman says that the company could bring it back again some season, which would be just peachy by me.
Q. I am looking for a typewriter ribbon for a Victor Tallymaster Model #675750. It is an old one, but I thought if I could find a ribbon for it, we could still use it. My grandsons think it is the coolest thing ever!!!
-- M.G., of Belleville
A. Next thing you know they'll want to spin a few platters while they dial up friends on their rotary phones.
But, seriously, you should have no problem getting a new ink cartridge for your ancient word processor. Just take the ribbon (with spools) to Metro-East Office Machines at 1221 E. Main St. in Belleville. Either they'll get you a completely new ribbon, or they'll wind new ribbon onto your existing spools.
"One way or another, we can fix him up," I was told.
By now if you're an Olympics fan, you may be hearing what's commonly called the Olympic fanfare with the trumpets and timpani even in your dreams. Who wrote the music?
Answer to Saturday's trivia: In 1972, Rick DeMont was the victim of a bureaucratic bungle that left him as one of 25 athletes and teams in history stripped of gold medals. On his pre-games medical statement, DeMont had told the U.S. Olympic Committee that he was taking two asthma drugs. But instead of telling DeMont that the drugs contained a banned substance so he could seek alternatives, the Olympics folks took away the 16-year-old's gold in the 400-meter freestyle and suspended him for life when his urine test turned up positive. In 2001, the U.S. group admitted its error, but DeMont has yet to receive an apology -- or his medal. For the past 23 years, DeMont, 56, has been the associate head swim coach at the University of Arizona.
Send your questions to Roger Schlueter, Belleville News-Democrat, 120 S. Illinois St., P.O. Box 427, Belleville, IL 62222-0427 or email@example.com