Newspaper Article from 1945 about Uncles’ World War 2 Experience

Rice Boys are Veterans of Manila Campaign

The Manhattan Mercury, Sunday, June 3rd, 1945

Charles and Henry Rice had planned for years to come to the United States this summer to be with their aunt, Miss Ada Rice of 917 Osage, and to enter Kansas State College this fall. They arrived almost a month ago, but under different situations from what they had anticipated. The boys, 18 and 17 respectively, are veterans of the Japanese occupation of Manila and of the American capture of the city this spring.

The father of the two boys, Carl E. Rice (my grandfather), and their mother (Maria), two sisters (Ellen and Norma) and a brother (my Dad) are also coming to America, and may be on the ocean now (actually not for another two months). Mr. Rice was sent to the Philippines when he was 20 in the Spanish-American War, and has been there ever since.

The American Push

The Rice family lived in the Malate district of south Manila near the University of the Philippines. In February of this year when the Japs began to feel the American push, they started driving through Manila from the north and east. The Japs crossed the Pasig River which runs through the heart of the great city, and burned all the bridges.

They ravaged the business and residential districts, burning everything they could. The newer buildings of concrete were still standing after they left, but were full of shell holes and burned out inside. According to the boys, the residential sections fared worst, especially in districts where the houses were all of frame construction.

Churches were transformed into munition dumps, the pillboxes were converted from all sorts of buildings. The Japs had holes dug in the streets for mines but hadn’t put the dynamite in them yet when the Americans arrived.

Then came the house to house burning in the Malate district. One morning about two o’clock the Rice family awoke with fire on three sides of their house. Grabbing food and a few belongings which had been packed in anticipation of such an event, the family ran out of the back door and into a vacant lot where the fire could not reach them. They dug foxholes and tried to get everyone in them, but hundreds of people were gathering there for safety.

Two Killed

The Japs were pumping bullets right and left as well as lighting more fires. It was then that the 14-year old brother of the boys (Arthur) and their maternal grandmother (Anding) were killed by artillery barrage.

For five days and nights the group existed with little or no food. They were under heavy overhead artillery barrage between the Jap stronghold south of their home and the Santo Tomas camp in the northern part of the city which had been captured by the Americans.

Charles, the eldest son, left the family, saying that if he hadn’t returned in half an hour for them to follow him. He was to try to steal his way to the north and meet the American forces, but he had no idea whether he would run into Japs or Americans.

A Turkey Dinner

Two days after he left the family, he arrived at the camp with but one shrapnel wound. Three days later the rest of the family arrived. Charles said that after not eating for five days and five nights, constantly dodging snipers and artillery, it seemed funny for him to arrive at Santo Tomas and be given a turkey dinner.

Within 18 to 21 days Manila was fairly well cleaned out by the Americans, and within a month even the walled city pocket, a downtown business section, was cleared.

Charles and Henry were at Santo Tomas camp for one month before sailing for Los Angeles. During that time Charles gained 25 pounds and Henry 17. During the Japanese occupation of Manila Charles grew in height from 5 feet 2 inches to 5 feet 8 inches and Henry from 4 feet 8 inches to 5 feet 5 inches.

Conditions in the camp after the Americans had taken over were wonderful, according to the boys. They saw movies straight from American production lots. They were amused when they got to Los Angeles and went to the movies to see the shows in Manila were billed in Los Angeles as coming attractions.

Japs Intern Their Father

Back in January of 1942, all the men in Manila were picked up. Carl E. Rice, the father of the boys, was picked up on January 3 and released the same day. On January 5 he was again taken to Santo Tomas camp, and released within two weeks with the understanding that he was to report back to camp every three months.

In April of 1943, he was again put into the camp when the Japs called back all the older and ill men. This time he was kept there until liberated by the Americans this February. The Japs had planned that all the men in the camp over 15 would be shot on February 4, but on February 3 they were liberated by the American First Cavalry.

Their father weighed 180 pounds when he entered the Santo Tomas camp, and weighed only 128 when he was liberated. During the first month after his liberation he gained 20 pounds and is beginning to straighten up, say his sons. For a time Charles was taller than his father, because he was so bent over, but now his father is almost back to his original height of almost 6 foot.

The Japanese army personnel were fat, as were the guards at the camp—“fat and insulting,” as Charles put it. Civilians were thin and undernourished.

Red Cross food packages were distributed to Japanese officers, and quiet frequently the Jap soldiers were issued American cigarettes and sold them to the internees and prisoners of war for American money. Food prices, when food was available and anyone could buy it, doubled within a week, then doubled again the next week.

POWs Beaten

“The prisoners of war were beaten, tortured and kicked around like dogs,” according to Charles and Henry. They were not given any clothes at all, there was no meat, no bread, no corn for them—just a little rice. All the high American officers, especially aviation officers, were taken to Japan.

The Santo Tomas camp was a little city within itself—with a hospital, police, KP, garbage detail—about fifty acres in all. The first year of imprisonment in the camp was lots of fun, the boys said. There were organized games, football, and school went on as usual. Had the boys been in the camp they might have completed two more years of schooling, because all of the best American teachers were interned there. During the last year or so, however, few of the children tried to go to school because it took too much precious energy to climb to the fourth floor. Food was scarce, and energy was not to be wasted.

For propaganda purposes one elementary school was opened, Japanese teachers were brought there who taught the Japanese language. Pictures were taken of the school and used to show what good treatment the children of Manila were given in Japanese hands.

Japanese Propaganda

All the news that the people of Manila got during the period of Japanese occupation was through the Japanese Propaganda Agency. They always admitted landing, but played down losses. They made much of Nazi rocket bombs, and according to the agency, the Germans never retreated—they just withdrew to new lines.

All the short wave attachments in the city were removed several years ago, but a few showed up later. When good news from elsewhere was heard via these radios, it was spread by the grapevine system all over the city.

The boys confirmed the opinion of many regarding Japanese warfare. They say that their strength depends on numbers, not on strategy. “They are fanatical and will hold out in numbers no matter what the cost, but they are not much good on tactics. They’re just like rats, and even a rat is hard to kill.”

Both Charles and Henry admire the Jap machine gun and knee mortar, but say that their tanks are no good and that their 25 caliber rifles will not compare to the American 30 caliber.

They Like America

When asked if America was what he thought it would be, Henry grinned and exclaimed, “More!”. Charles said he was surprised that Manhattan is this large, because when they were coming through Utah and Wyoming the time table would list a city in large print and then there would be but fifty buildings in the whole town. Both say that Manila is quite like the United States except for the weather.

Charles speaks three languages, English, Spanish, which he learned from associated with the Spaniards in Manila, and Tagalog, the native language which they both learned during the past few years.

Charles is interested in radio or aviation, but Henry hasn’t decided what he’d like to take up yet. Since both boys were freshmen in high school when Pearl Harbor was bombed and they have not attended school since, they are catching up by going to summer school at the high school. They hope to enter Kansas State College as soon as possible.

In referring to their experiences of the past few years, the boys say, “I don’t see how we got through it all,” but are very happy to be in the United States and they intend to remain here “forever”.

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Carl E. Rice WW2 Memoirs: August 1st to September 21st, 1944

Aug 1(continued from previous page) I also have some sugar and coffee which I use very sparingly. I get my chow at the central kitchen line so don’t have to wait so long for issue; Crumrine, myself, Cosart, Clare Cap Barton and others eat in the shed near the door to the chow warehouse and can get an idea of about what we have; there is some canned meat, vegetable stew and Red Cross ration that Japs have not taken. This is mixed a few cans at the time with our evening rice or corn tamale. Gildao an experienced Navy man now is head cook and is doing fine with what little he has left. Some big sugar caldron have been fixed up across the alley from our gas shed and most of the cooking is being done with wood as the gas is giving out. When they cook I manage to get some of the scorched rice or corn from the bottom of the pots, also “Chan” a big Lithuanian who is one of the main cooks, slips us some extra pieces of corn pone when he has it.

Each squad room is divided into groups of six so that extra supplies may be fairly divided, such as soap, salt, tinned meats, lard. About once a month some issue is made and we often divide a can of corned beef or of beans between six. A can of beans is 26 beans for each one. Storm, White, Cuzner, Fink, Graham and myself are together and have no trouble but some are in a row all the time.

Many are getting sick; swollen legs, with bad stomachs, T.B. (tuberculosis?), ulcers; not so much fever; some dysentary; much constipation.

Many have taken to eating garlic, raw, in their mush, and Stink*** there is nothing like it, you can smell them for yards. But they hope it helps. I don’t eat it my self.

Some of my best friends are sick in hospital, Wilson, Blackman, Brindley, Jones, Joe Evans, Burwell, Bohanan, Webb, White.

There is something coming off soon; the Japs and planes and targets over Tondo and anti-air craft target practice, also thousands of Jap soldiers pass the camp.

On Sept 14 from 7:57 to 9:08am and 9:47 to 11:10am had air raid alarm; no planes were seen or heard. We all had to go inside buildings.

*****September 21, 1944
**The boys are here at last**
At 9:30am, about one hundred carrier dive bombers came out of the clouds, complete surprise; shot down the Japs at target practice, and kept it up all day till all clear at 6:13pm. Many fires and explosions, many Jap planes shot down; I was on duty at the gas house and saw the whole show, but no one man could see all the happenings; many dog fights; anti air craft shell fragments and small shells and machine gun bullets fell in camp but no one was seriously injured. One shell and several fragments fell near us at the gas shed and rice boilers. The Japs on guard were very excited the sentry near me was firing his rifle; Lt. Abuco the tough guy game me an awful hard look when he saw me outside but I was on duty.

And how excited we are** every body saw some thing diff.

Tonight the city is lighted by fires and heavy explosions rock the camp. Must have hit the ships in the bay very hard.

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Newspaper clipping pasted to the back of page 15 in my grandfather’s memoirs.

Carl E. Rice WW2 Memoirs: January 1st, 1944 to April 30th, 1944

So now, I’m back to transcribing (for now). It obviously takes time to transcribe my grandfather’s memoirs instead of just posting a scan of the page itself, but transcribing draws a better response. It was just easier to post scans, especially since the events of 1943 were rather mundane, all things considered. But as we get deeper into 1944 the situation becomes more dire, which makes it more important to pay closer attention…especially the last entry of this page…

Jan 1 to April 30, 1944—New Year, 1944; Weight 162 lbs; Cash (Jap) 176.45 (at this point my grandfather was 66 years old)

Henry (my uncle, by this time about 17 years old) sent some food and a letter that all are well;

Feb. 1, 1944—weight 164 lbs.

Jays closed the package line Feb. 7, 1944; will now be almost impossible to contact family; family sent in supplies every day in Feb up to 7th; Arthur’s (another uncle of mine, now about 13 or 14) toothbrush was last item in, a letter was written inside the box, tell me where to look for another letter; they sent me about 30 lbs of brown sugar and a coffee can of white sugar and several lbs of coffee; the food sent in increased my weight two lbs in one week.

The Jap army now have charge of the Camp; they are putting us on what they say is the equal of the Jap soldier ration.

Meat is now very scarce, and the rice and corn meal is poor quality. Coconut milk is still issued but it is mostly water; the people who make and sell it now cannot get any more nuts.

A Jew sells hot cakes every morning; there is so much dirt in our rice and corn that we lose much of our ration when we run it through the cleaner.

Every one able has to do some work preparing the garden; are also planting bananas and papaya; vegetables are small onions, capotes; eggplant, tulinum, a green for soup.

The Japs have never given camp any money, clothing or medicine; I was detailed to work one p.m. in garden but was put to hauling rotten Jap radishes to the fertilizer dump, they were too rotten for us to eat.

March 11, 1944—First blackout.

March 25th—Sent post card to Ada (his sister; my great aunt, who was a professor at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas, my home town).

April 1st—Had first air alert; also now have blackout every night

April 5th—Sent 100 pesos to family

April 6th—Received two letters from Ada dated Aug 2 and 25, 1943 (basically took 8 months to arrive in the Philippines from Kansas during a time of war, or rather, to be delivered). Also a letter for Nena (my grandfather’s ward, now about 19) from her Aunt.

April 25th— Shanties are now being moved back from the wall.

Many old timers are now beginning to slip; are getting discouraged and are beginning to think will not get through. Food gets poorer in quality and quantity is less.

April 29th, 1944—The generosity of the magnanimous Jap High Command on this birthday of his Imperial Majesty etc etc allowed our families to visit us for one half hour. The whole family came, they were very well dressed but were thin and are just about half starved. Have money but it is not worth much and food is very hard to get; they all acted like were afraid to tell me something I would not like to know, that would make me feel bad. When the time came to go it was hard, all of us seemed to know that terrible times were ahead, last out were Nena, crying, and brave little Arthur with a smile on his freckled face and a wave of his hand as he went from me forever, that’s the last time I was ever to see him, for he was to die in the fiery hell of the Malate Massacre (another name for the forthcoming Battle of Manila in February 1945).

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Carl E. Rice WW2 Memoirs: November 1st to December 31st, 1943

Here’s another scan from my grandfather’s WW2 memoirs…the dates on this page overlap with the dates on my previous post from his memoirs so they’re basically a continuation of the same time frame.

This page details what how they dispersed and bartered the relief supplies they received from the Red Cross following the typhoon in November 1943, and talking about the relatively pleasant Christmas that year which included presents from the family living outside Santo Tomas, the prison camp. He discusses how the committee of POWs that has been running the camp has been doing well considering the circumstances while complaining of too much favoritism shown by them and how experienced military prisoners aren’t being allowed to help in the best ways possible. While allowing that the year hasn’t been as hard as would be expected considering they are prisoners of war in an occupied country, he darkly intones that the Japanese are beginning to show signs of clamping down and getting worse, primarily due to military defeats in the Pacific as the tide of the war turns inexorably in favor of the United States.

1944 will prove to be the most difficult year he and his compatriots will endure yet.

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Carl E. Rice World War II Memoirs: Jan 16-May 15, 1942

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.)

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Manila, pre-war*

*Photo via battleofmanila.org

 

Carl E. Rice World War II Memoirs: Jan 1st, 2nd, & Jan 3rd, 1942

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.

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Carl E. Rice (paternal grandfather), 1909, aged 31 or 32.