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.

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