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.

ernest_stanley
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.

hith-angels-of-bataan-e
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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