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…)

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