Carl E. Rice WW2 Memoirs: December 24th and Christmas 1944

Dec 24, 1944—We have a loud speaker broadcasting by which Camp orders are announced, it tells us when can go to chow and how, announces time for roll call, reville (sic) and curfew; used to play record tunes for our entertainment evenings but not now; at morning reville it plays a tune and sometimes the tune gives us an idea of what’s happening outside these walls; and we can now see aplenty.

*******This is CHRISTMAS EVE, 1944:
Bombings continue, and in the far distance can see reflections of fires, can hear distant explosions; also many explosions in and around Manila when no planes are near, indicating that Japs are destroying supplies that cannot get away with. Sometimes these explosions are very heavy and shake the whole camp and columns of smoke and fire rise thousands of feet.

****CHRISTMAS EVE****
WE ARE STARVING; THERE IS A RUMOR OF A LITTLE EXTRA FOOD TOMORROW. WE HAD XMAS SONGS ON THE LOCAL LOUD SPEAKER, WHILE DISTANT BOMBING COULD BE HEARD FAR TO THE SOUTH EAST, SOME PLANES DIVING AND MACHINE GUNNING; the announcer, “DON BELL” said—-

“TOMORROW IS XMAS, WE HAVE NOT ENOUGH TO EAT, WE ARE IN BAD TIME, BUT WILL DO OUR BEST AS AMERICANS TO OBSERVE THIS DAY”; and ended the broadcast with “COURAGEOUS CHRISTMAS”

***XMAS, 1944—Today for breakfast we had mush, coconut milk, SUGAR, Chocolate flavored hot drink, and a spoonful of jam. Tasted real good for we have not had any sugar for a long time.

At reville the broadcaster played “ONWARD CHRISTIAN SOLDIER” in the dim light of the early morning, as the Japs finished their morning worship, and flares from distant fires lighted the sky. At noon we had a small ladle of soy bean meal soup and while drinking it our planes came over and bombed the bay.

For supper we had hardboiled rice, sweet potatoes and a little corned beef mixed into a kind of Hash, were given two ladles of it, sure was the best meal have had since Feb 7, 1944.

CRUMRINE and I ate the last 3 oz. can of pork loaf at noon, we have made our meat from the ’43 Red Cross kit last until now by only eating a tin every Sunday. We no longer work in the kitchen, and are very weak but we have not lost our nerve, nor our sense of humor: that is what will bring us through, neither one has any idea of dying, and we laugh at ourselves and at other things which, bad as they are, still have a comic side if you are not too sick and weak to see it—such as the cat skins in garbage cans, the skeleton trying to catch a rat, the disappearance of Tom Poole’s fat chicken, the fat dogs that have disappeared; and the demand for cooking recipe books that can figure future menus from, we laugh and growl, at, and with other old skeletons and feel better for it, there is no thought of dying. We often stagger on our way to and from meals, many fall down and are carried to Hospital, the stretcher bearers are busy these days, some one dies every day, sometimes three or four. And are hauled out to the front gate in a cartela (sp?) or push cart, in a rough wood box, often too short and the feet stick out. All pass our window and often it’s an old friend.

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