Carl E. Rice WW2 Memoirs: February 4th to February 6th, 1945

Feb 4, 1945, continued—This afternoon two shots were heard in room 211 where some Japs were and later on the Japs called on some of our men in room 212 to carry away a body, sewed up in a sheet; supposed to be of a Jap officer who killed himself; (next day while we were looking thru the Jap rooms I picked up two revolver cartridges for an American revolver, in a pool of blood; evidently some other Jap had reloaded the gun for his own use); night of the 4th Japs were mostly asleep, sentries at our door were asleep and one dropped his rifle; we had to step over them if we went to the bathroom.

Feb 5—This morning before six o’clock there was much moving around in the Japs rooms and loud commands, a sergeant camp looking for Mr. MOSS, interpreter, said they wished to surrender but must see Mr. Stanley, when he finally came the Jap commander walked out and met some of our officers, a push cart was placed at the front door for wounded, the soldiers fell in with their guns but left all ammunition in Lobby; so they marched away under guard of our soldiers and I hope the guerrillas got them all before they reach the Jap lines. (He’s referring to the fierce guerrilla campaign native Filipinos waged during the course of the Japanese occupation.) They marched out at 7:05AM, Feb 5, 1945.

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The aforementioned Mr. Ernest Stanley (far right, in white shirt) escorts the Japanese soldiers out of Santo Tomas after negotiating for their release in exchange for freeing the internees.

(Evidently this Mr. Stanley was a pivotal figure in the release of my grandfather and the other internees. Fluent in Japanese and also a long time internee at the camp, he was the key negotiator between the American army and the Japanese garrison holding the internees hostage. He ultimately secured a deal that allowed the Japanese to leave peacefully in exchange for sparing the internees lives, and quite likely prevented a bloodbath that surely would have resulted in the deaths of my grandfather and the 200 other internees held by the Japanese during that tense weekend.)

Our troops came in and ordered us out at once, while they looked for booby traps; we were lined up in front and given half a pkg of Jap cigarettes, were photo’d and then allowed to go for a late breakfast; my how good it was to have sugar and rice mush, and good coffee; a battery of four guns just in front of our building was firing, Jap snipers shooting from buildings around outside Camp and also from the Seminary in the compound which is occupied by priests not interned. Large quantities of food supplies for Camp were found in the Seminary warehouse, where the Japs stored them instead of giving to us. (Dicks.)

23d24c8d029cWe were given mail from the U.S. and paper to write letters home, I reported to Col. Grimes about the Army employees in camp and was told to wait till some other day, as we could do nothing now, but get fed up on good chow.

North of Pasig River great fires rage, much fighting, artillery firing heavy, several in camp wounded.

I weigh 130 lbs; Feb 1st weigh 128 lbs (he had lost about 35 pounds over the past year; still far better than some other internees who wasted away down to 90 to 100 pounds).

Japs are shelling camp, also sniping, machine gunning and even toss hand grenades over the walls.

We are eating rice, mongo beans found in Jap bodega, also some soldiers rations, but they have very little as are way ahead of supply trains.

Among the wounded today was the camp rat catcher, shot through the leg by a sniper. Willey and Gilman also hit.

Japs possession of most of City, heavy fighting as more of our divisions arrive.

Papers captured show that if not rescued when we were, we would have been massacred Monday, the 5th of Feb.
(The date of this entry.)

Feb 6—Camp is crawling with so-called war correspondents, photographers, and Red Cross workers; Red Cross have plenty of smiles and sympathy but nothing much else but letter paper, envelopes and radio blanks, NO much needed clothing.

This morning while at breakfast a Jap shell struck our roof and showered us with glass and cement.

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American nurses who had been captured during the Japanese invasion of the Phillipines at the beginning of the war were among the internees freed at Santo Tomas. See their story here.

As I went to breakfast the soldiers were fixing the lobby for a field hospital, one soldier was asleep on a pile of stretchers near foot of stairs, Nelson came behind me but stopped to talk to someone. Malconsen stopped me outside to have a cup of real hot tea, good and strong with plenty of sugar, sure was good, he had a patch between his eyes where had been grazed by a bullet on the night of Feb 3rd; just as finished the cup of tea, a shell went through the front wall of the lobby, killing the soldier who was sleeping on the stretchers, just missing Nelson as he passed.

We had bacon and beans for dinner, Oh boy.

 

 

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Carl E. Rice WW2 Memoirs: February 4th, 1945

Feb 4, 1945—The liberated part of camp had good field rations this breakfast even though the soldiers were very short of food; but we (still held hostage by the Japanese inside Santo Tomas) had no breakfast; we are a sorry looking bunch after a night of being breastworks (i.e., human shields) in a machine gun battle; that tank cannon was fired so close once that it nearly threw me out of my bunk.

A great cloud of dust and smoke hangs over the city, explosions and firing continue outside; some Japs in the school house at the southeast corner of our wall were firing at any one inside the compound, so one of our tanks went there and fired tracer bullets into them and soon the schoolhouse and Japs were making a nice bonfire (I think he means the American tank blew up said schoolhouse and the Japanese soldier inside); also snipers in other buildings are being cleaned out by tank and machine guns; a Jap officer came to our window and looked out at our tanks, he had an American revolver, two hand grenades and was chewing Wrigley Spearmint gum, probably stolen from Red Cross box of food supplies.

The explosion of time bombs is more today, there is continuous firing of cannon and machine guns, the sky is hid by dust and smoke, looks like all the city this side of the river was on fire.

About 2:00pm the Japs allowed some food to be brought to us, corn, beans and meat stew, more and better food than we have had for over a year; I went to the Japs barricade over the lobby to carry the food pots; it was sure a sight, torn mattresses, broken furniture, blood and soiled bandages, rifles, machine guns, hand grenades and dirty Japs; and they had the nerve to smile at us and ask for the food we had left over. We gave them some and they allowed more to come for our supper.

It looked pretty bad for us this morning but Mr. Stanley, the interpreter, called to us that evening “Don’t worry, they will surrender tomorrow”.

The grounds in front filled up with soldiers, more and larger tanks, and a battery of 105’s Howitzers, all looks better but we are still at mercy of the Japs as this day comes to a noisy close.

This First Cavalry Division are the best looking soldiers I ever saw and brave, tough, and efficient, go about fighting in a business-like way; OH how I would like to be one of them and be able to work on some Japs with one of those machine guns they carry.

My life has been full of adventures and I am proud to be in this one, am sure seeing history being made, written in fire and smoke, blood and noise.

At first, when we realized we were hostages, we were all no doubt scared stiff, but as things looked worse during the night of the 3rd, we got past the scared stage, just sort of dumb resignation to the outcome, we were mostly past the limits of fear.

But tonight the Japs are more inclined to be friendly, ask food, allow us to go to the bathroom, and many of them lay down in our hallway and sleep, some are drunk and that makes them more dangerous; we cannot go to the balcony when their sentries are in the room. Some of our fellows tried to escape down a rope; “Ski” made it, but Johnnie Elam fell and broke his leg; two soldiers ran in covered by fire of other and carried him to Hospital.

Carl E. Rice WW2 Memoirs: February 3rd, 1945, continued…

FEB 3, 1945, continued—We here in the Education Building with freedom within 30 feet of us are the hostages, to be killed if Japs think it will save their face; at least they are going to try to use our lives to make a deal for theirs. There is much noise in the other parts of the camp, some scattered shots and much shouting; we told the tank men who we were and where to shoot at the Japs; there is much machine gunning, the 50 cal (sic; “caliber”?) bullets from the tanks come right through the concrete walls, the glass windows downstairs are broken, the Japs shoot from behind barricades of desks and mattresses; the prisoners on the third floor are getting it worse than we as the bullets fired upwards go through the floor and are hitting some in the legs; the tank in from of the main door to the lobby fired its cannon once; only one Jap that I saw came out, the little one with a mustache supposed to be a doctor, we can look out from behind the pillars on the balcony right down on our tanks and also see the flashes from the Jap machine guns only a few feet from us at the windows over the main stairs; the machine gun bullets come through about five inches of concrete like it was cheese, the concrete chips and ricochets fly past us and some are hit but not hurt much.

The Japs made a barricade just outside our door in the hall, of boxes and mattresses; we are not allowed to pass thru it to the bathroom.

We can hear our men in the tanks talking to each other about where to shoot; infantry are deploying behind the rolls of air strip webbing and the shacks, the town this side of the river is being destroyed by terrific explosions of Jap time bombs, the sky reflects the great fires, the Japs yell “Banzai” and other different words, and our boys keep on with bursts of machine gun bullets, outside the camp also firing and much yelling;

The Japs finally made us all lie down in our bunks and said “You sleep”, we stayed in bed alright, did not sleep all night. We were expecting to be slaughtered any minute; if some screwball had grabbed a Jap’s gun or struck one we would have been massacred; a Jap sat on the foot of my bunk where he could peek over the balcony railing and shoot at our tanks, later he got a stool and sat on it beside me. If our infantry had rushed the building we would have been killed by the Japs before our boys got up the stairs.

The Jap cars parked in front were loaded, some with chow, and prisoners from the liberated part of camp lost no time in raiding the chow truck and even waved at us with beer bottles, the fighting could not keep those starving ones from chow.

The long night passed somehow, the shooting was in spurts only and the FOURTH of Feb, 1945 dawned on the toughest spot I have ever been in; being used as a  breastwork and hostage by crazy Japs is no fun, any way you look at it; there is sort of a truce evidently between our tanks and the Japs, the boys in the tanks now look out, smoke and talk to us, they are not infantry but are the 8th Cavalry of the First Cavalry Division, say they are known as MacArthur’s Butchers and take no prisoners.

(This was actually a small advance force of American soldiers, who had raced to Santo Tomas ahead of the main American army in order to free the American internees, for reasons which will soon become clear…)

Carl E. Rice WW2 Memoirs: February 3rd, 1945

FEBRUARY 3, 1945*******************

All last night great explosions of oil and ammunition dumps in the Maraquina Valley; Terrific fires the length of the valley; This is a very noisy morning, explosions of bombs and blasting demolition charges fill the air with fumes of high explosive; crude oil and gasoline;

AT 4:30pm, just after supper, ten fighting planes came over, just above the roofs, only about 100 ft high there were more STARS than we have seen in three long years; they circled and dipped and signaled to show us that help was indeed at hand; one dropped a note in a wrench saying army would be in Monday morning, we were all crazy and paid no attention to the frightened demoralized Japs; some of their officers were in the path below our window looking at our planes, no smiles now, only fear and sullen looks; only a day or two more of starvation by these s—-b. THANK GOD.

dauntb

Not a shot was fired at our planes, we have complete control of the air, our boys were telling us by their stars that victory is complete, nothing these yellow murderers of helpless people can do to stop our army (pardon the racial language); WE cheered and cried, as sorry a looking bunch of skeletons as can be seen anywhere in this war; but most of us still have the guts our brave ancestors gave us and can see this finished.

We were all too excited to sleep early, and were all talking and arguing about the planes we heard the tanks to the north, but many tanks had been going back and forth past the camp, Jap tanks, for tanks (sic); the Jap guards rushed out of their cars parked in front of the Ed. Bldg., and the Filipinos were outside yelling “The Americans are here”; Shorty Strongman was the first to see our tanks at the gate and we were trying to keep him quiet when the tanks crashed through the front gate, with lights on and machine guns flashing; the Japs at the gate threw some hand grenades and fired a few shots but were wiped out; this was a little after 8:00pm, FEB 3, 1945.

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The front of Santo Tomas, after the Americans had retaken it.

We were so busy watching the tanks come up the road toward the Main Building that we forgot about the Jap guards; after some shooting near the Main Building, where they killed the Lt. Abuco, who was the meanest officer in the Camp, the tanks came to our building, three of the tanks came into the driveways to the front door and began firing machine guns; then we saw that the Jap guards had not gone away in the cars but had retreated into the second floor and were barricading themselves at all the stairways and the halls and rooms; some came into our rooms, they were armed with rifles, machine guns, bayonets, had grenades and swords. Our tanks stopped firing and the officer in the center tank, just below us, about thirty feet from us as a bullet flies, ordered “COME OUT WITH YOUR HANDS UP, I’LL GIVE YOU FIVE MINUTES”; we knew we were still prisoners of the Japs, hostages of sixty-five desperate savages. There were about three hundred of us, some women and children from Shanty Town having come upstairs.

 

 

Carl E. Rice WW2 Memoirs: Scans of Newspaper Clippings attached to Page 24

These are some scans of page 24 and the newspaper clippings attached to the back; which was the most recent post from last night (Jan 30-Feb 2nd). NOTE: NEITHER OF THE TWO MEN PICTURED ARE MY GRANDFATHER; they are fellow internees. You can see what the starvation had done to them by this point. I considered waiting until after the battle in the memoirs to share these, but I’m keeping it in order of where my grandfather attached these clippings.