Carl E. Rice World War II Memoirs: Jan. 4th to 17th, 1942

Jan 4—The boys and myself packed our clothes in barrack bag and haversacks, hid most of our food reserves and waited.

Jan 5—All day the Japs were rounding up Americans in trucks and taking them to Santo Tomas (pictured); the boys were out scouting, about 5pm they reported a car at Wilson’s house, I and the boys took our bags and waited for the car, when it came to me I held up my hand and told the Jap civilian I wanted to go, I motioned to the boys to go back—how I wish now that I had taken them with me. Fred Luhrsen also was in the car which took us to the Rizal Stadium, I thought the Japs were going to beat me again but they let me off with many questions, seemed to think I was an officer; about 7pm were put in a car, Wilson, Rice, Armstrong, Dutch, and a Spanish American sea Captain and a Jap officer, to Sta Tomas; arrived at about 8pm. Many were there ahead of us and there was much confusion. We went in the Museum and made our beds down on the floor but a Jap ordered us out and we went to a large room next door, were more than sixty of us in there. I and Dutch slept together on the concrete floor with only a bed spread under us. It was sure hard.

Jan 6 to 17, 1942—The Camp was slow getting started, but we each had to find our own bed and our own food. I had a car seat cushion but it was too short and I gave it to Dutch as he had some broken ribs and could use it. I slept on the concrete floor until Jan. 17. Thousands of Filipinos crowded around the fence to bring food and clothes; the boys brought me food every day, many people had too much and if could not find some one to help eat it, they had to throw it away; so many who were throwing away food in Jan 1942 were stealing from garbage cans and gutters in Jan 1945.

Friends in the same room with me were E.G. Wilson, Luhrsen, Armstrong, Mose Morrow, Shurdet, Leyerly, Robinson, McAlister, and Dutch. We got up every morning before four o’clock, to get use of bath room before the rush; we would then go out past the sleeping Jap sentry and line up for coffee and bread. The college restaurant only held about forty at at time, we older men were allowed first in line, girls waited on us, coffee and cracked wheat and hard rolls, but not much; no dinner, but about four pm some thin stew was served. The Japs did not give us any food, clothing, or bedding.

The battle was still going on north west of Manila and at night the roar of guns was very loud; most of the younger folks were sure MacArthur would be back in a week or two, any pessimist who said it would take six months was almost a traitor. (It would actually be more than three years.)

In a few days Camp became somewhat organized, and steps were taken toward releasing the older internees and sick ones. The Japs did not bother us in our daily affairs. The missionaries were first to go out on pass, several hundred were lined up one afternoon and after a lot of speeches were allowed to go out. We were not sorry to see them leave, it made more room and they were hard to get along with.

About the 15th Mr. Holland, who slept in our room tipped some of us off to ask for a pass. I and Armstrong did and were released on the 17th of Jan. 1942. I road him in carometa (sp?) with Mr. Russel of Associated Oil Co. Found family well and sure glad to see me out. (He would be out on pass for more than a year before being ordered in May 1943 to return to Santo Tomas on a permanent basis for the rest of the war.)

University of Santo Tomas Main Building, Manila. circa 1945. Site of where American and Allied prisoners of war were kept (including my grandfather) and one of the few structures to survive the destruction of World War II. (Photo credit Arquitectura Manila, link below)

Photo link.

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