A Stoke of Luck
By mid 1940 1 had been transferred from MB Olongopo to the 4thMarines, Shanghai. Ihad requested extension of my 4thMarine tour. By mid 19411 received word from HQMC that my extension request could not be granted. Further, I received orders to MCS, Quantico in mid 1941. All this was a big disappointment to 1st Lt Rothwell, now in a Captain's billet as C.O. Co F 21 Bn 4thMarines. Little did I realize at the time, the orders were a stroke of luck.
The Fourth Marines were evacuated from Shanghai in Nov 1941and ended in the defense of Corregidor. With the Japanese capture of Corregidor, the remnants of the Regiment ended up in prison camp on Luzon and Mindanao, a devastating fate. Only several hundred made it home at war's end.
Among these prisoners was then 2" Lt Jack Hawkins, USMC who was my XO in "F" Co. He, along with two other Marine Officers of the Bn made up a group of nine who made what is now realized as the most successful and daring escape from a Japanese prison camp in WWII.
Now a retired Colonel, Jack Hawkins wrote a book "NO TIME TO DIE"* [now out of print), telling of the escape from the prison camp on Davao. He recommended to me "ESCAPE FROM DEVAO”*. a book, also depicting the escape,-written by John D. Lukacs and detailing much untold history of events of the time. The book is published by SIMON AND SCHUSTER. Lukacs is a writer and historian and published the book after many years of research.
After reading the above in retrospect I am very confident that set of orders I received in mid 1941was the most important event of my life