Carl E. Rice WW2 Memoirs: January 30th to February 2nd, 1945

Jan 30, 1945—Conditions in Camp continue to get worse; altho (sp) the soybean mash, after Japs have processed it for most of its food values still has some nourishment in it and helps when added to the thin soup. So many are sick with beriberi due to starvation; their bodies so swollen that movement is difficult; face so swollen can hardly see; legs and feet like huge sausages; three or four die every day; the hospital is so overcrowded that have enlarged the GYM hospital and also many are left in quarters; stretcher bearers are busy and sometimes have two on a stretcher; I saw one dead man and one unconscious on one stretcher; NINE have died in the last thirty hours; some of us who are not sick have staggers, cannot walk far in a direct line.

Mr. Grinnel, Mr. Duggleby, Mr. Robinson and Mr. Larsen who were put in Camp Jail by Japs on Dec 23, were taken early this month to Ft. Santiago by the Jap Military Police, and have not been heard from since; during the past year none of the prisoners taken to Ft. Santiago have come back, a few have been reported as sent to new Bilibid at Muntinglupa, but most of them will never be seen again.

At night we can see gun flashes to the north, distant explosions; bombing to southeast, there is a haze of smoke and dust over the city; we are all very much excited, we believe help is near; many rumors but it’s sure that there is fighting to the north of Manila; the Japs are packing up, have sent out much of their supplies that were stored in the rooms below us.

Jan 31—The city is trembling from the blasting of buildings and piers by Japs, also much bombing in the suburbs, three of the fastest planes we ever saw flew over us so fast could just see a streak; Japs appear to be trying to destroy all the modern buildings we have put up during the past 40 years (my grandfather served in the Spanish American War in the Philippines as a young man from Kansas, which is how he ended up there and staying for most of the rest of his life; he had a very great attachment to the Philippines, so this would have been particularly distressing for him); they (the Japanese soldiers) are very uneasy and excited; our army is evidently very close.

Feb 1st—A noisy night, not much sleep, loud explosions all night as Japs used demolition bombs in port area, great fires in Cavite Province; very distant cannonading; Great oil fires, some in Port area, some appear to be in the Walled City;

Feb 2nd—Much blasting in and around Manila, planes over us but no bombing.

Every morning for the last few days we have been up before daylight; this is no time to sleep late; and from our window can see a beautiful dawn, fiery red through the clouds long before sunrise, and then the sun breaks thru and down through the blood red glare come our planes. It’s a wonderful sight; we are so thin that the early morning air is chilly; but things are happening so fast and relief appears so near that we cannot miss anything happening; the Japs are apparently going this time, not much left in their stores below us; they have several cars and trucks parked in front of the Ed. building ready to go.

 

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