Carl E. Rice World War II Memoirs: December 25th to 31st, 1941

Dec. 25—Yesterday I was promoted to Senior Administrative Assistant at annual salary $3600.00 ($59,029.71 in 2016 dollars). I am to be left behind with Wilson when the military personnel are all in Bataan. (Note: Bataan was the peninsula across Manila Bay from the city of Manila, where American and Filipino forces were gathering to fight a last ditch battle against the imminent Japanese invasion that they would ultimately lose after three months of fighting, the survivors of which were subsequently to endure the infamous Bataan Death March.) There are many bombings, many people killed. Nena (I think this is the Magdelana Collins he refers to in his December 1st entry, who he’d been raising since the death of her father) is a volunteer nurse, goes to bombings with the ambulance from the Malate Health Center. We work day and night now, when there is air raid I get some sleep on my cot in the Col. office. The sky is black from the smoke of burning oil tanks. When it rains the rain is black and spoils white clothes with greasy smudge. I wear khaki clothes and a steel helmet.

Dec 26 to 31, 1941—I have been issued a brand new car, Chrysler Sedan, 1942 model for my own official use; have a driver also; nights are now very exciting (I don’t think he means that word in the modern sense of “fun”), sky is red with reflection of burning oil tanks which we set afire, some got out of control and burned many houses; also floats down the river and will probably burn buildings on river bank. There are many guns and revolvers in the office, every night is some shooting by our guards who shoot at collaborators who fire rockets as signals. Some times I take gun and do a little hunting myself but we never find any dead ones. The Jap planes fly lower now that they know we cannot hit them and the bombings are in daytime. I went with Miss Anne Nelson on a mission to Ft. Santiago, found it empty except for Signal Corps in one of the lower vaults. Next day the Japs bombed it. I saw the bombing of the walled City many were killed in the church and Treasury Building. Every evening the casualty reports come to my desk; also I know how things are going very badly at the front. The call for supplies show only about 3000 troops holding south line and only until about Jan. 3rd. We are now taking care of many stragglers and wounded who are brought in in private cars, feed them at our mess and send the wounded to the Philippine General Hospital. The Col and other officers when to Bataan between Dec 26 and 30th. We who are left behind know we will be prisoners and some of those who went believe we will be worse off than they, it’s not going to be any fun. We have orders to remain on duty as long as possible and when the Japs come to the office to surrender. I am sure worried about the family, what will become of them? I am taking home some rations but do not have much room and also am afraid if have much stock will be looted and the family injured.

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Manila, December 26th, 1941 (or thereabouts). U.S. Commander in the Philippines Gen. Douglas MacArthur, in an effort to spare Manila from destructions by the imminent Japanese invasion, declares Manila an “open city” and evacuates his military to Bataan.

(Photo via: Philippines Presidential Museum and Library)

Carl Ephriam Rice - WW2 Memoirs Pg 3c

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