It’s been a while since I posted from my grandfather’s WW2 memoirs; I’ve found the blog gets more hits when I actually transcribe the pages instead of simply posting scans of the actual pages, and transcribing takes a while, even as fast a typer as I am. So today I am just going to go ahead and post a scan of the next page so we can get back on track with the saga. This page covers October 14th, 1943 through December 30th of that year.
This page basically continues the day to day routine of life in an internment camp under the Japanese during the war. A lot of it is very mundane but informative in conveying a vivid picture of the conditions at the converted camp that was the University of Santo Tomas. Through this point, the Japanese left the internees to their own devices with relatively minimal supervision, leaving it to the internees to develop their own governing body and hierarchy. As long as they didn’t cause trouble, the Japanese left them alone (this was to change in due course as the Japanese began to reel from successive defeats to the Allies as the war progressed).
Amusing to note is the laugh my grandfather and his pals get out of watching the internee guards argue with the women internees over access to the hot water (Oct 14th entry); “wow, the rows they have with the women about it; we don’t butt in and we just sit in our chairs and enjoy the fun”. Though trying, life under the Japanese occupation wasn’t yet so dire as it was soon to become.
Also mentioned are a massive typhoon that swept through Manila that November and visits from family, plus the elation throughout the camp upon receiving relief boxes from the Red Cross (he details the contents at the end of the page) the following month. Something of a halcyon period before the storm…
I am going to resume transcribing my grandfather’s memoirs for a bit. I’m noticing less of a response in my tracking stats when I just post scans of the actual pages he typed the memoirs out on. Here we resume the period of May 17th to October 30th, 1943, at the beginning of which my grandfather reported back under orders to the internment camp at the University of Santo Tomas for permanent confinement.
May 17-Oct 30, 1943, cont.—There is much talking and joking these first few days as we greet old comrades, friends and acquaintances, some of whom have not seen in years; we all have had experiences to tell about and old times to review.
On May 17 when I came in at 1:15pm, notebook shows;
Cedula Residence Certificate #A-0122148, March 22, 1943
Resident Alien Certificate (Jap) #251645, March 25, ’43
Retirement Certificate 99690
Spanish War Pension #C-2347574
Weight 148 lbs (Dec 15, 1941 weighed 176 lbs) —effects of hunger in the year and half since the Japanese invasion taking its toll
Cash, Jap Notes 20.25 pesos.
One barrack bag containing 2 khaki trousers, 2 khaki shirts, 2 blue cotton shirts, 4 under shirts, 4 drawers, 10 socks, 1 sheet, 1 half wool blanket, 1 bed spread, 2 pillow cases, 1 pillow, 1 cot, 2 shoes, 2 towels, 4 handkerchiefs, and razor and other toilet articles. 1 mosquito net, 1 shoes wooden, 1 slippers leather Mess kit, cup, knife, fork, spoon, 1 hat.
News is hard to get, the daily Tribune is allowed in, our room buys two copies, but only Jap propaganda, all Jap victories, but we can get an idea of progress of war by location of names on the maps many smuggled in. Also the buyers who go out daily bring in radio script, and some comes over the fence along with black market food and booze; some script is written here in camp and some of it is pure fake; but by sifting all sources we can get a general idea of the situation. Rumors are so thick that we even have a dog named Rumor.
Every day the line of food comes in from friends and families, and restaurants; the gates in the fence are closes while the people delivering deposit their buckets and packages for inspection by Japs and internees, then gates are open and we go to the tables and get ours. By asking many times can go out to the side of the receiving shed and visit a few minutes with family. I get enough food in here now but the kids bring a bucket of food and clean laundry every Friday; this way we keep in touch; have two aluminum dinner pales in section and we write notes on the bottom of the section, also they put in the rice; the food sent in is a welcome change, generally eggs, chicken & meat cooked the way I like it; also fruit and real hot coffee.
June 11, 1943—Charlie (son, 17) was here and talked to me, Mamma (wife Maria, my grandmother)cannot come because is very sick with asthma.
July 2, 1943—Ellen (daughter, age about 8 a this point) was allowed to come inside to visit me about half an hour, Nena (ward, about 18) gave me a ten peso bill, but I don’t need it, as I am good at playing pitch. (Don Keifer, a gate guard, let her in.)
July 30—Saw Nena and Arthur (son, about 13), they looked thin but well dressed.
September 24—Henry (son, 16) and Arthur came to visit me, family well. Charlie works days and could not come. They report food very high (price)and Jap money very much inflated.
Aug 30—I sold two pair of army socks for 15.00 pesos
Sept 10—Sold two small cans of milk and small can of coffee for 25.00
Sept 17—borrowed 100.00 pesos from General Electric Co, Mr. Grinnell manager. This was on my QM Pay.
Oct. 30—borrowed 100.00 pesos from same source, on my Spanish War pension. I sent this money out to family by Mr. Duggleby, in charge of outside family relief.
There has finally been a shake up in the kitchen and most of the CIO gang has been kicked out and will be sent to Los Banos Camp.
Today’s entry is going to be a little bit different; instead of transcribing the text, I am going to simply display scans of the actual pages (seen in earlier posts). It starts from the very end of the last entry (“We now have to wear red arm bands to show we are American prisoners on pass.”). At this point it continues life under the Japanese occupation of the Philippines while my grandfather was out on pass (it seems the older American POWs were allowed out). To refresh on some of the names, Charlie was my dad’s oldest brother, about 16 by this point, and Nena, then about 17 and who was my grandfather’s ward. “Mama” is my dad’s mother, Maria, who suffered asthma (his reference to her being sick so much toward the end of this entry).
Jan 18 to May 15, 1942—I checked up, we had one hundred & fifty pesos, and enough rations to last about two months if we were careful.
Jap planes went over our house many times a day from Neilsen Airfield to bomb our troops on Bataan, when just over us would fire a few bursts from machine guns to warm up, they would be six in a group, some times they did not all come back; and often they were on fire and some fell in the bay near us.
Jan 27 some of our planes came in the night and bombed and machine-gunned the air fields, were just over our house when all (hell) turned loose and how we all cheered but that was the last raid of ours from Bataan.
The Japs are storing captured and stolen supplies in the Stadium at the end of our street. The Filipinos who live here are a tough bunch and not afraid of the Japs. Every night and some times in day, they loot the stores and many times divide the loot behind my back fence where it is shaded. Some times I get some of it. There is much shooting and shouting every night, and frequently some of our friends are killed or wounded. Several have been bayoneted on our street, even some little boys. If captured they are tied in the hot sun and beaten and tortured, without food or water, some are tied head down and Japs kick them in the face, there are many graves near the ball park. Many times I hear the bullets pop thru the trees in my yard. Sometimes Japs chase people in the day time and run by or thru my yard. It’s a great life—(sarcasm?) Some times prisoners are tied and thrown into trucks and then jumped on.
We have planed a garden and the guava trees are loaded with fruit; boys dug a well in back yard for emergency and to water the garden. The battle for Bataan still rages, more and more planes go over our house every day, from the park we can see the fires on Bataan. Armstrong, Fink, Rube Knowlton, Hard Luck Luhersen, Wilhelm and Willey are all neighbors and visit each other daily, also Rogge. I take a walk every day to market and toward the beach and meet Fred Prising, Mr. Pond, Dc. Kneedelr and others at the Market.
Japs come to house a few times but are not abusive. They are riding high and are feeling good natured toward us but are sure making it hard for the Filipinos. Food is getting harder to get. Luhersen brought news of Bataan surrender which he heard over the radio. It was a great blow but we had figured out that it must come soon.
I received some money, food and medicine from the Red Cross before it was taken by the Japs. Boys are brave kids and fish in the bay, sometimes get us a good mess of fish.
I had to report with the others to Santo Tomas and our pass was extended two months.
The battle for Corregidor is raging, the planes go over and many do not come back, we can hear the guns at Naic and Tarnate bombarding Corregidor. See the smoke of fires there.
We are getting very short of food, I bought rice and sugar with most of my money. The landlord Mr. Penalosa takes my vale for rent. “Pasing” the Meat dealer credits me for meat, and Mr. Garcia for some canned goods and hams, but cannot expect them to keep it up long.
Luhersen again brought the bad news of Corregidor falling; it broke us all up, and we thought it would hold out till relief came but looks now as though would not come for years. The “ROCK” has stood for years as the supreme symbol of American supremacy and now the flag and all it stands for is gone, and with it, hope.
A lone plane of ours dropped a bomb on Jap aviation school at the polo club and killed most of the students and instructors.
Japs are organizing local constabulary and opening Jap control schools. Filipinos are organizing guerrillas, my boys are too young yet. We now have to wear red arm bands to show we are American prisoners on pass.
(Note: My dad turned three the day after this entry ends.)
Jan 4—The boys and myself packed our clothes in barrack bag and haversacks, hid most of our food reserves and waited.
Jan 5—All day the Japs were rounding up Americans in trucks and taking them to Santo Tomas (pictured); the boys were out scouting, about 5pm they reported a car at Wilson’s house, I and the boys took our bags and waited for the car, when it came to me I held up my hand and told the Jap civilian I wanted to go, I motioned to the boys to go back—how I wish now that I had taken them with me. Fred Luhrsen also was in the car which took us to the Rizal Stadium, I thought the Japs were going to beat me again but they let me off with many questions, seemed to think I was an officer; about 7pm were put in a car, Wilson, Rice, Armstrong, Dutch, and a Spanish American sea Captain and a Jap officer, to Sta Tomas; arrived at about 8pm. Many were there ahead of us and there was much confusion. We went in the Museum and made our beds down on the floor but a Jap ordered us out and we went to a large room next door, were more than sixty of us in there. I and Dutch slept together on the concrete floor with only a bed spread under us. It was sure hard.
Jan 6 to 17, 1942—The Camp was slow getting started, but we each had to find our own bed and our own food. I had a car seat cushion but it was too short and I gave it to Dutch as he had some broken ribs and could use it. I slept on the concrete floor until Jan. 17. Thousands of Filipinos crowded around the fence to bring food and clothes; the boys brought me food every day, many people had too much and if could not find some one to help eat it, they had to throw it away; so many who were throwing away food in Jan 1942 were stealing from garbage cans and gutters in Jan 1945.
Friends in the same room with me were E.G. Wilson, Luhrsen, Armstrong, Mose Morrow, Shurdet, Leyerly, Robinson, McAlister, and Dutch. We got up every morning before four o’clock, to get use of bath room before the rush; we would then go out past the sleeping Jap sentry and line up for coffee and bread. The college restaurant only held about forty at at time, we older men were allowed first in line, girls waited on us, coffee and cracked wheat and hard rolls, but not much; no dinner, but about four pm some thin stew was served. The Japs did not give us any food, clothing, or bedding.
The battle was still going on north west of Manila and at night the roar of guns was very loud; most of the younger folks were sure MacArthur would be back in a week or two, any pessimist who said it would take six months was almost a traitor. (It would actually be more than three years.)
In a few days Camp became somewhat organized, and steps were taken toward releasing the older internees and sick ones. The Japs did not bother us in our daily affairs. The missionaries were first to go out on pass, several hundred were lined up one afternoon and after a lot of speeches were allowed to go out. We were not sorry to see them leave, it made more room and they were hard to get along with.
About the 15th Mr. Holland, who slept in our room tipped some of us off to ask for a pass. I and Armstrong did and were released on the 17th of Jan. 1942. I road him in carometa (sp?) with Mr. Russel of Associated Oil Co. Found family well and sure glad to see me out. (He would be out on pass for more than a year before being ordered in May 1943 to return to Santo Tomas on a permanent basis for the rest of the war.)
Jan. 1 & 2, 1942—Today the 1st we were busy getting out the last convoy by lighter as the road to Bataan has been taken by the Japs. Col Harwood took the last bunch of soldiers, and Civilians on a barge from Pasig River. We also were busy paying off Native employees. About six o’clock, Wilson and others had gone, I was alone in the office, one guard, Ayers at the door; I went back to the Mess hall, had a good meal, loaded the car with rations; went into the office and turned out the one little light and closed the door, told Ayers to help himself to chow and go home and for us the office work was about over, only wait for the japs who will be in tomorrow. We opened the office morning of Jan. 2nd to finish paying off but went home before noon as the Japs were coming in.
(Note: U.S. commander in the Philippines General Douglas MacArthur, in an effort to save the city of Manila from destruction, declared it an “open city” the week before on December 24th and fell back to Bataan and the small island of Corregidor at the mouth of Manila Bay. Declaring an open city meant there would be no military defense and the invading force was expected to exercise restraint in taking control. Obviously from the remarks of my grandfather previously and to come, the Japanese disregarded that rule of war.)
Jan 3, 1942—Mr Wilson and myself tried once more to get to office as was a little important work to do and some records to remove. We went in his car, I had told my driver to hide his tin hat and do what he wished with my car. Sec. Vargas advised us that we would be safe.
We had been to Harrison Park behind our houses and seen Jap sentries there. We passed Wilhelm at corner of San Andres and Taft Ave, the Japs had him and some others in the house on the corner, they also took his car, they kept him there two days with no food.
We passed the Villamor hall where our finance office was, it was full of Japs; we also saw CEO Burwell of the finance office in his car, the Japs captured some time later and he was among those prisoners who were so savagely treated at the Park Ave School, we saw the Japs stopping cars and holding the passengers at the Ayala Bridge; at the gas station in front of the Malacanan Palace we were stopped, Wilson told who we were but we were lucky as it came out that they did not let us proceed to the office; were taken to the Japanese school on Lepanto St, were we found many of our friends; we were spotted by Jap gestapo and put in a corner and beaten by them until an officer came and ordered them to stop; Dan Adamson happened to be near us and was beaten also; later an officer told us to go home and report Monday, the 5th. We did not lose any time getting out of there, Sydney Smythe went with us.
The city was being looted by natives and by Japs, we walked across Santa Cruz Bridge and out Taft Ave; at the Spanish Club the Japs had all the Police lined up and were disarming them, as we could not dodge them we walked past the whole gang and no one looked at us, and we continued on home at about one o’clock. Were hungry, tired and sore from the beating and very much humiliated. I did not tell the family but my face was so swollen, they knew it.
Dec. 25—Yesterday I was promoted to Senior Administrative Assistant at annual salary $3600.00 ($59,029.71 in 2016 dollars). I am to be left behind with Wilson when the military personnel are all in Bataan. (Note: Bataan was the peninsula across Manila Bay from the city of Manila, where American and Filipino forces were gathering to fight a last ditch battle against the imminent Japanese invasion that they would ultimately lose after three months of fighting, the survivors of which were subsequently to endure the infamous Bataan Death March.) There are many bombings, many people killed. Nena (I think this is the Magdelana Collins he refers to in his December 1st entry, who he’d been raising since the death of her father) is a volunteer nurse, goes to bombings with the ambulance from the Malate Health Center. We work day and night now, when there is air raid I get some sleep on my cot in the Col. office. The sky is black from the smoke of burning oil tanks. When it rains the rain is black and spoils white clothes with greasy smudge. I wear khaki clothes and a steel helmet.
Dec 26 to 31, 1941—I have been issued a brand new car, Chrysler Sedan, 1942 model for my own official use; have a driver also; nights are now very exciting (I don’t think he means that word in the modern sense of “fun”), sky is red with reflection of burning oil tanks which we set afire, some got out of control and burned many houses; also floats down the river and will probably burn buildings on river bank. There are many guns and revolvers in the office, every night is some shooting by our guards who shoot at collaborators who fire rockets as signals. Some times I take gun and do a little hunting myself but we never find any dead ones. The Jap planes fly lower now that they know we cannot hit them and the bombings are in daytime. I went with Miss Anne Nelson on a mission to Ft. Santiago, found it empty except for Signal Corps in one of the lower vaults. Next day the Japs bombed it. I saw the bombing of the walled City many were killed in the church and Treasury Building. Every evening the casualty reports come to my desk; also I know how things are going very badly at the front. The call for supplies show only about 3000 troops holding south line and only until about Jan. 3rd. We are now taking care of many stragglers and wounded who are brought in in private cars, feed them at our mess and send the wounded to the Philippine General Hospital. The Col and other officers when to Bataan between Dec 26 and 30th. We who are left behind know we will be prisoners and some of those who went believe we will be worse off than they, it’s not going to be any fun. We have orders to remain on duty as long as possible and when the Japs come to the office to surrender. I am sure worried about the family, what will become of them? I am taking home some rations but do not have much room and also am afraid if have much stock will be looted and the family injured.