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Sabbatini, Abraham

Document Type

Oral History

Date of Interview



Abraham (Abe) Sabbatini was born on 7 September 1913 in the small town of Glen Lyon, Pennsylvania, the son of Italian immigrant parents. Less than a year old, his parents went back to Italy, and here Abe lived until 1929, when he was sixteen years old. Returning then to the United States, he stayed briefly in Pennsylvania before moving to the San Francisco area, where he worked many years in the plumbing trade. In 1941 Abe was drafted into the US Army; he was assigned to the Air Corps, to the 440th Ordinance Company. In late 1941 this unit was posted to the Philippines, to an Air Corps base near Manila. When Japanese forces attacked the Philippines in December 1941, Abe's unit was moved south, to Mindanao. With other Americans, he became a POW in May 1942, when US forces surrendered. Abe remained at Malaybalay, on Mindanao, until about October 1942, then was transported with other American POWs to the Davao Penal Colony, also on Mindanao. Skilled in wood- and leatherworking, as a POW Abe worked in a small machine shop. In mid-1944 Abe was in a group of POWs placed on a hell ship for transport to Japan; the journey took more than two months, ending at the Japanese port of Moji, on the southern island of Kyushu. POWs were transported by train to Yokkaichi, by Nagoya, where Abe worked for several months in a plant that produced sulfuric acid. In June 1945, following an earthquake, Abe was in a group of about 150 POWs moved to Camp #7 at Toyama; here the work was in a factory, a scrap iron smelter. US B-29s firebombed Toyama on 2 August 1945, destroying over ninety percent of the city, but the POW compound was spared destruction. Several weeks later the war ended, and on September 5, Abe and the POWs at this facility were evacuated by American forces. Abe spent some days in the Philippines before boarding a ship for the United States. He was at several military hospitals before his discharge in February 1946. Again a civilian, Abe returned to the San Francisco area, and worked as a plumber, retiring in 1974. He married in December 1945 (wife Emma), and helped to raise two boys. Abe Sabbatini was interviewed in January 2004 at his home in San Mateo, California.


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Abe Sabbatini - Transcript.pdf (640 kB)
PDF Transcript of interview with Abe Sabbatini