Carl E. Rice WW2 Memoirs: September 21st to November 25th, 1944

Special two page update today. The end of the first page kind of spilled over into the next page and I was just going to finish the sentence, but it was kind of a long run-on paragraph by the end of which I decided just to finish the whole next page. Daily air raid sirens and bombings by the Americans are now a daily fact of life as word reaches the camp that U.S. General Douglas MacArthur has landed on Philippine soil, on one of the islands (Leyte) towards the south. 

And it’s easy to forget, but keep in mind that my father was then a five year old boy with the rest of the family in residential Manila during these very same events while my grandfather was interned in the prison camp.

Sept. 21st, ’44—There was a blackout and we all were kept in quarters but some of (them) sat out on the roof of lobby, behind the parapet, and watched the fires in the bay, heavy explosions all night.

Sept. 22—Planes came back at 7:17am and bombing and air fighting all day, was worse than the 21st. One small shell hit just outside my window, I just happened to be leaning over my bunk, but most of it went through the sheet iron roof into the lobby which is now a hospital for sick old men. No one was hit.

I could not get to work on account of raid. We sure had plenty of excitement, and how our boys can dive. Many Jap planes shot down and probably some of ours, can’t tell very well, unless see the Jap red spot. Confined to quarters, we spent evening on the roof watching the fires and explosions; evidently more damage today.

The Japs are tougher now, we have to stand two roll calls, and must stay in line until all different parts of camp are checked; this sometimes takes two hours, as people die or go to hospital or stay sick in shanties.

Sept. 23—Air raid alarm, no bombing

Oct. 15—At 8:39 planes came back and dropped many bombs, sure is exciting; I was on duty when they came and stayed till 1:36pm, so I was right there at soup time.

Nearly every day have raid alarms, are confined to quarters most of daytime, allowed to go get food if any is served. I keep one set of mess cans in gas house and one set in quarters. I carry a soup spoon in my hip pocket all the time. We are slowly starving.

The hospital is full and four rooms of our Education Building have been turned into wards for feeble old me who are considered incurable.

Manila, circa 1940 according to web source; possibly post-war.

(Entry jumps backwards a couple weeks now…)

Sixty seven years of age, weight 155 lbs (weight at beginning of year was 162 lbs); Hungry, bent over, have no sickness; have not seen any member of family since April, have receipts for money I sent through relief committee so I believe they are well; Breakfast, half of mess pan of corn mush, spoon of coconut milk, piece of corn bread 2″ x 2″; NO DINNER; Supper at 4:00pm. (He evidently considers the two terms as distinct from each other.) one dipper boiled rice, one large spoon of thin gravy, one small spoon of dried fish, old and wormy. Lights out at 7pm.

Gas machine out of commission, now using a wood furnace behind shed, it’s harder work hauling the wood and keeping fire going; still have a small gas plate where I sometimes make tea or coffee for old friend Sydney Schwarzkopf and a few others who have it. I have some sugar left which I use very carefully and Crumrine and I have a few tins of meat and open one every Sunday, about 2 oz of meat for each.

The Japs sometimes give us part of a carabao, maybe 250 lbs for more than 4000 people. Somehow GILDAO, the cook, makes it up so we all get just a taste of meat in the gravy. The women on vegetable cleaning detail steal so much that have stopped peeling camotes.

We get several cart loads of camote vines a day from garden which with tulinum greens go in the water for noon soup, so called.

Everyone who has a charcoal stove is gathering any kind of weed (cont.)

(Next page continues) Oct 15—Any kind of pig weed variety plant is cooked, even leaves of trees; pigeons are trapped and are getting scarce; many have been sentenced to Camp jail for stealing food supplies (this is a camp affair, the Japs don’t interfere in this); The Japs have taken over the main food bodega and issue only from day to day; they issue some fresh fish but it is mostly so small, bony and stale that we cannot eat it; the little dried fish are more edible although very old; the Japs also have stopped all athletics, which is not such a bad thing as few are able to take part. They also forbid us to go in the front compound as they are now storing large quantities of loot supplies such as rubber, tin, machinery, air strip webbing and other stuff; we also must now bow correctly to every Jap we meet, no matter how low his rank; we must stay in quarters during air raid alerts even if no planes are in sight.

Oct 17 & 18—Air alerts but no planes on 17th, 18th had raid from 7:47am oil 5:24pm, three waves, heavy bombing; 19th from 7:23 to 5:45pm five waves, heavy bombing, we are getting to be veterans and take many chances, run and dodge through shanty town to the chow line or to work; if get caught will be beaten and made to stand in the sun all day.

“Shanty Town” at Santo Tomas prison camp

Many are making raid shelters and the Japs are making some for themselves. Also making machine gun nests out of rubber bales, they also have doubled the sentries, stored gas drums around the walls and by the hospital; thousand of Jap soldiers pass daily, now going toward the piers as RUMOR is that McArthur has landed in Leyte (one of the islands south of Manila).

Oct 20 to 26— Were daily air raid alarms but no bombings, the Japs are very nervous and it’s dangerous to be caught out of bounds, many have been badly slapped around. Japs trying to force more labor out of us for garden; they allow workers in garden to buy at low prices a small quantity of cigarettes and picadura pipe tobacco; also give extra rice and food to those collaborators who work for Japs in the Japs private garden or as cooks and servants for them *** BELIEVE IT OR NOT THERE IS A BUNCH OF SKUNKS WHO APPEAR TO BE HAPPY DOING IT***

Oct 29—8:06 to 4:11pm, raid, planes and bombing; repeated waves

Nov 5—7:27am to 4:19pm waves of planes, heavy bombing near camp.

Nov 5 to 10—Raid alarms, no bombing but probably some at a distance.

Nov 13—Heavy bombing all day, many fires and explosions

Nov 14—Same as 13, must be destroying many ships in bay; also the air fields are on fire; there are not many Jap planes now to fight.

Nov 15, 16, 17—Alarms only

Nov 19—This was a big one, seven waves, bombs and machine gunning, at night also

Nov 20, 21, 22—Alarms but no bombing

Nov 25— Bombing air field at Grace Park just north of Camp, beyond Cemetery del Norte and Laloma, was indeed a circus with reserve seats, our buildings shoot worse than in an earthquake and we were often threatened for crowding the windows.

Feature image credit, turn of the century Manila; no date given, but from the buggies on the street, probably early 1900’s:

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