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Allan M. Cory, Col., U.S. Army, WWII Japanese Prisoner

Author: John Vick

This is the beginning of the remarkable story of an American hero, Colonel Allan Murray Cory, Sr., a U.S. Army officer who was captured by the Japanese in the Philippines in 1942. Cory was a Major at the time and survived the Bataan Death March before being imprisoned in two prison camps in the Philippines. He was loaded onto the notorious Japanese death ship, the Nagato Maru, on November 7, 1942 and taken to mainland Japan. He was imprisoned in three different prison camps before being liberated from a camp near Osaka, Japan, on September 7, 1945.

*Not only did Major Cory survive five prison camps, he secretly kept a diary when he was the ranking officer at one of the camps. After coming home at the end of the war, he was recalled to Japan to testify at the Japanese War Crimes Tribunal. His diary was used to convict some of the worst offenders.

Allan Murray Cory was born March 19, 1913, in Hennepin, Minnesota. His parents were Blanch Norwood and Chalmers M. Cory. The family would move to Chicago, Illinois, and later to Kansas City, Missouri. Allan graduated from Wentworth Military Academy in Missouri and attended the University of Wisconsin. Cory was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Army after two years of college. In 1940, 1st Lt. Cory was training at Ft. Benning, Georgia.

Lt. Cory was promoted to Captain in June 1941, and sent to the Philippines in September 1941. After arriving in Manila, he trained Filipino troops and commanded a battalion when he was captured at Bataan.

Lt. Col. Allan Murray Cory had survived The Bataan Death March and two Japanese prison camps when he was taken to Japan. On November 7, 1942, Cory was among the 1,500 American POWs who were put aboard the Hell ship, Nagata Maru, at Manila, Philippines, for transfer to Japan. They arrived at Osaka on November 25, and were transferred to the Mitsushima prison camp the next day. That camp was one of the most brutal in Japan.

On July 28, 1943, Cory was transferred to Zentsuji prison camp near Osaka. Lt. Col. Cory was the ranking officer at the camp. He was later transferred to Rokuroshi prison camp on June 23, 1945, and would remain there until he was liberated on September 7, 1945. He was 32 years old at the time.

Roster of Allied POWS, Osaka POW camp #11, Rokuroshi, Sep. 1945. Note #57, Major Allan Murray Cory.

After returning to the States, Lt. Col. Allan M. Cory married Martha Virginia Baker on August 13, 1946, in Dothan, Alabama. Miss Baker was the daughter of Dr. and Mrs. S. M. Baker of Dothan, Alabama. Dr. Baker performed the ceremony at Foster Street Methodist Church, where he was the pastor. Of special note, Dr. Baker was the pastor at First Methodist Church in Andalusia, Alabama, from 1947-1953.

After a brief trip to California, Lt. Col. Cory was recalled to Japan to give testimony at the War Crimes Tribunal at Yokohama, Japan. Cory testified at the trial of Tatsuo Tsuchiya [known by the prisoners as “Little Glass Eye”].

War Crimes Tribunal in Session, Yokohama, Japan, 1946.
[Photo: Wikipedia]

Tatsuo Tsuchiya was a small, one-eyed Japanese prison guard who was charged with the beating death of an American prisoner of war, PFC Robert Teas of Streator, Illinois. Teas was a survivor of the Bataan Death March and was imprisoned at the notorious Mitsushima prison camp. Tsuchiya was the first of more than 300 “minor” war criminals to be tried before the war crimes tribunal.

Royal Air Force [RAF] Squadron Leader David Grant gave a deposition at the trial. He was the senior RAF officer at the camp. In the deposition, he said, “I discussed the matter with senior American officer, Major Allan M. Cory. We concluded that the Teas story was true.”

In another deposition, PFC Charles B. Gavord of Deming, New Mexico, testified, “Little Glass Eye took Teas into the open yard, threw water on him [the temperatures were very cold in March] and beat him with hardwood canes shaped like swords.”

First Sgt. Clifton O. Snodgrass testified in another deposition, “They took a rope about an inch thick, which they doubled several times, and beat Teas around the face and head…each time Teas fell down, they made him get up again. When he was too weak to stand up, they picked him up and continued beating him for up to 30 minutes.” Teas died on March 5, 1943.

Tatsuo Tsuchiya, or Little Glass Eye, was convicted of the beating death of PFC Teas and sentenced to life imprisonment. He was acquitted of charges related to beating Lt. Col. Allan M. Murray and stealing Red Cross supplies.

At the War Crimes Tribunal in Yokohama, nine guards from that camp were sentenced to death and executed. Cory’s testimony at the trial was instrumental in the prosecution of several of the war criminals.

After returning from Japan, Cory was promoted to Colonel and was assigned to Fort Benning, Georgia. The Cory family served tours in Puerto Rico; Greece; Amarillo, Texas; Washington, D.C.; and Montgomery, Alabama. Colonel Cory served one tour in Vietnam while his family lived in Montgomery. Prior to his retirement, Colonel Cory served as the senior Army advisor to the Alabama National Guard in Montgomery.

Colonel Allan M. Cory, Sr. died in December 1975 at the age of 62. Funeral services and burial were held at the Fort Benning National Cemetery in Georgia. Survivors included his wife, Mrs. Martha Baker Cory; a daughter Mrs. Anne Alden Godfrey; a son, Allan Murray Cory, Jr.; and two grandchildren.

Mr. and Mrs. Allan Murray Cory, Jr. currently reside in Andalusia, Alabama.

[Sources: The Montgomery Journal article Sep. 17, 1968 by Camille Wallace; The Dothan Eagle article Aug. 21, 1946; The San Antonio Light article Dec. 21, 1946; and

Roger Mansell of Palo Alto, California, founded the Center for Research, Allied POWs Under the Japanese. His years of research are recorded in files that may be searched online. Anyone doing research on POWs held by the Japanese during WW II owes Mr. Mansell a debt of gratitude. He died at Palo Alto in 2010].

*Cory kept a diary during his imprisonment and its contents were also used at the war crimes trials. The diary’s existence or location is unknown at this time.

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