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”.

Carl E. Rice WW2 Memoirs: And Last…Looking Back

This turned out to be such an ambitious undertaking, transcribing my grandfather’s World War 2 memoirs. I started sharing entries last year, but only posted a couple of entries on my Facebook page before kind of forgetting about it. But I returned to it this past summer and now, after four full months since August of steady updates, including a post detailing the pivotal Battle of Manila outside of the memoir, it is now complete.

It’s actually been a very enjoyable and fulfilling experience. I’m not sure that very many people have this kind of access to their family history, so it’s kind of unique to see something so close against the backdrop of real history. And the memoirs were hardly the only thing he kept records of; there are daily journals he kept as a young man in the service at the turn of the century. He was obviously a very meticulous and detail-oriented man.

He was also a man of his time, displaying the kind of racial attitudes common to the era. While he had tremendous affection for the Filipino people, he utterly despised the Japanese, as his entry following the death of his third child Arthur during the battle so utterly displayed. This attitude toward the Japanese was carried over a bit to his oldest sons Charlie and Henry, who as teenagers during the Japanese occupation would have been subject to more harassment by Japanese authorities. My own dad, a toddler at the beginning of the occupation, never displayed any animosity towards the Japanese, except to admonish us not to buy Japanese made cars (heh).

And I don’t, either. Obviously I have the benefit of growing up in a time where Japan is a close ally and friend of the United States, and while I was transcribing my grandfather’s entries I could empathize with his anger and hostility, not to mention share his outrage over the decision of the Japanese to engage in a building by building battle to the death with the American forces, committing horrible atrocities against the civilian Filipino population throughout the month long battle. Rapes, shootings, bayoneting, indiscriminate and deliberate slaughter of defenseless people, including burning down houses including my families and shooting the occupants as they fled the burning buildings; these atrocities barely scratch the surface of what they did. Especially knowing that at first, the Japanese Army had evacuated the city to fall back to the countryside, only for the Japanese Navy to disembark its sailors to occupy the city and fight to the death. Apparently the Japanese admiral in charge had his former ship sunk by the Americans during an earlier naval battle and wanted revenge. I just don’t get it.

And yet, I don’t really hold it against the Japanese, per se. I don’t believe there was anything in the Japanese character that lent itself to this, because after all the Germans succumbed to the very same thing at the same time (and to a similar degree, the Russians and Italians, as well). The mass indoctrination of a populace by a fascist government in total control of all facets of public life is a well documented phenomenon. When you start to blame people who are different than you for all your problems, when you start to classify these people as “The Other”, you begin to dehumanize them, and once you dehumanize people, it’s a frighteningly short distance to justify committing any atrocity towards them, because hey, they’re not really people, like us; they don’t share our values. They deserve what they get. No one is immune to that train of thought if you’re not careful. And it’s a lesson we should all do well to remember, today. Even here in America.

And then there’s that mysterious Japanese soldier who spared my family’s lives during the middle of the battle as they fled on foot. Who was he? Why did he spare their lives and show them the way to safety? What happened to him? Clearly, even among the diehard Japanese military there were those few with enough humanity and decency to do the right thing. I hope he made it, somehow.

And to know that so many Filipino civilians died during that horrible month—at least 100,000, if not more—including entire families who lived in the same neighborhood as my dad’s—the fact that only two family members (my great-grandmother Anding and my Uncle Arthur) out of ten lost their lives amidst bullets firing around their heads and mortar shells exploding all around them, is nothing short of miraculous. To know that you exist only by virtue of sheer luck, missed bullets, and by running into perhaps the one humane Japanese soldier in the middle of a battle to the death is a bit humbling.

So here we are at the end. I’ve gotten great feedback from people who have enjoyed reading these posts, and that’s been very much appreciated, although regardless this endeavor was worthwhile on its own merits. Knowing what happened has definitely given me perspective about material things, knowing when my family went through during those years (bed bugs?). I’ve had conversations with friends about it over drinks, and we’re sort of like, man, we in our generation haven’t done anything, have we? So much that we take for granted and so much that we’re prone to complaining about, when the truth is, we have very little if anything to truly complain about in our very fortunate lives that we get to live, by sole lottery of birth, here in this country.


So thanks again for following along on this journey. There will be one more post simply listing a directory of all of the memoir’s entries on this blog for ease of access.

Carl E. Rice WW2 Memoirs: March 13th to June 22nd, 1945

March 1945—We are being well taken care of by the Army, more food than we can eat, each of us receives a 14 oz can of evaporated milk each day, the small children receive special food, prepared in Hospital kitchen, we eat under a tent fly near Dormitory; Col. Gregory, the Camp C.O., comes often to see if we are getting enough to eat; the camp has been sprayed with insect powder inside and out; not a bedbug anywhere, and very few flies.

The women and children have been issued a few clothes, mostly of Australian origin, but the men have received little or nothing from the Red Cross, and except for some items of clothing received from army QM, or soldier friends, we are still wearing the old clothes of prison days.

On March 13 us Spanish War Veterans were processed, required to make new applications for pension, to take the oath of allegiance to the U.S.A., as if we were a bunch of aliens and also take oath that we had not collaborated with the Japs. This was an insult and a humiliation, to require such oaths from as patriotic a group as we Spanish War Veterans, who have been prisoners for over three years, many of us still being in the service of the Army.

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Officials of Spanish War Veterans, August 13th, 1930. My grandfather is standing far left.
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That is indeed the son and namesake of President Teddy Roosevelt (1901-1908), the son himself was an accomplished diplomat, seated next to my grandfather. The younger Roosevelt at the time of this photo in 1932 was Governor-General of the Philippines.

It may be a sample of the kind of government we now have back in the States, if so, it must be a hell of a place.

March 25—I applied for part payment of salary at the office of the Recovered Personnel Branch of the Army, Lt. Johnson in charge, some were paid, but my records are so far not found.

March 27—Charlie and Henry left for the States on the Transport John Lykes, with many other young fellows, as repatriates. They could have gone to work here at very low wages or gone as seamen on shipping board boats which would require joining the rotten C.I.O. Union, which would be worse than being prisoners of war.

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Handwritten captions say it all; May 1945, my uncles Henry and Charlie with a friend in this photo taken in Los Angeles after they arrived from the Philippines. They’d both end up joining the Navy, as would my dad once he came of age.

April 5—Mary, Nena, and I were taken by soldier friend of Nena in jeep to visit ARTHUR’S grave.

April 9—Nena left on the repatriation ship Montery, with more than two thousand others. The Camp looks very empty now. We have all been moved from the main building to shanties or tents. Mess lines are not so long now. It’s beginning to get lonesome as so many of my friends have gone to States; others who still have some sort of a home to live in are leaving the camp and drawing rations.

We live in a bamboo shack, neighbors of Fred Cornelius, Bill Seten, Josh Floyd, Crumrine, Krick, Highsmith, Jones, Sewell.

Some of the others live in the Gym, Fink, White Rogge, Logge, Coullette.

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Photo of my grandfather taken April 1945 at Santo Tomas, with my Dad and aunts.

May 14—received $575.00 on arrears in pay ($7,721.90 in 2016 dollars); sure need it for many things. Sent $100.00 to the boys in U S A ($1,342.94 in 2016 dollars).

Army is tearing down shanties. We moved to San Carlos Camp June 22nd.

Carl E. Rice WW2 Memoirs: March 10th and March 29th, 1945

March 10th, 1945—Went to Chinese Hospital and rechecked records and found the name of ARTURO SALVADOR, boy, age 14 yrs., admitted at 12:00 noon, Feb. 15, residence #1235 Leveriza St, Malate (the correct address of the Rice family house that was set fire by the Japanese on February 9th); died afternoon of Feb. 15, 1945. Body turned over, with nine others who died same day, to Mr. Ejercito of the Bureau of Health on Feb. 16. THIS IS NO DOUBT ARTHUR, who was delirious and gave his mother’s family name, as he had been using that in the few months previous, or maybe had a paper showing that name. Took the boys (Charlie and Henry, ages 18 and 17 roughly) to the hospital and we all agreed that this was ARTHUR.

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I went to the Bureau of Health to see Mr. Ejercito who was very helpful, found that the bodies of the persons who died on the 15 of Feb were buried in a common grave, dug by army bulldozers in the Cemetery del Norte. Went to see Mr. Reyes, Superintendent of the Cemetery; no record of names, so many hundreds being brought in by truckloads and buried three or four deep in the long trenches dug by the bulldozers.

Special cemetery Policeman Guillermo Legacion and Capataz Anastacio Liwanag, both long time employees and knowing about Cemetery conditions, they showed me the trench where people were buried on the 16th of Feb, it is the north end of trench on left side of road as you go northeast on this branch off the main drive. The last twenty feet of this trench is said to contain the bodies brought in on the 16th. Later some bodies from our Camp were put in on top of them. The Capataz promised to do what he could to care for that part of the grave where he said he is sure Arthur is buried. Mr. Fargas of the Army Morgue gave me a regulation wooden cross which I put at the end of the trench.

March 29, 1945—The cross I put at the trench grave has painted on it the following:

BURIED HERE WITH OTHERS MURDERED BY JAPANESE
****ARTHUR RICE****

It is just back of an Acacia tree and some well marked private graves; a grave a few feet to the north is marked by a monument with the name CATALINA VARGAS, which should be a permanent mark.

Between the Acacia tree and the road is another trench where many are buried. The Capataz estimates that about three hundred are buried in the same trench with Arthur.

What follows is the rest of the page the March 29th entry is typed on:

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I hope you children never forget Arthur, who was so dear to us all, and so brave even when dying. And never forget that the Japanese killed him, never forgive them and as long as you live never pass up a chance to crush the Japanese race. (My grandfather was a hard man.)

If ever you return to Manila, do what is possible to see that this lonely trench is cared for.


My grandfather subsequently had a more elegant tombstone built, presumably on the site he describes above. Below are two photos of Arthur’s tombstone. The letters on the tombstone are barely legible due to the small size and fuzziness of the photos, but I was able figure it out:

ARTHUR C. RICE
✞ FEB 15, 1945
AGE 14 YRS.
KILLED BY JAPANESE

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Carl E. Rice WW2 Memoirs: March 2nd to March 9, 1945

March 1st, Monday (repeated here from previous post for continuity)—Went to Far Eastern University to report regarding the Civil Service employees of the Quartermaster Department, could find no one who knew what to do about us.

March 2 to 9, 1945—Some were sent to U.S.A. as repatriates; many are now applying to go as their homes are burned and business or occupation no longer can operate and for a long time will be no opportunity here to live as before the war; many have no funds and nothing to borrow on; so there seems to be no way except to go back; of course some of the internees don’t belong here, having been transients caught here by the war; these people naturally want to get back as soon as possible, but the real old time residents would rather stay if conditions were not  so impossible; this the permanent home of most of us and most of those going back intend to return here as soon as conditions permit. (Indeed, my grandfather himself was to do exactly this two years later.) I put my name on the list but do not intend to go soon but may send the boys back to schools, they have missed three years.

Mary is in the hospital with asthma (she suffered from this her whole and died young at 55 twenty years later; also her given name was Maria but he called her Mary for short) and general poor physical condition due to hardships suffered during the battle of Manila. (Remember, in addition her third child Arthur being currently missing after being wounded and taken to an unknown hospital during the battle, she lost her mom—my great-grandmother—during the same fighting and they had to leave her body where it lay.) 

Am looking for Arthur and still hope to hear of him in some hospital but am afraid he is dead; he surely would have got word to me somehow if alive.

Feature pic: Raon Street, Manila, April 28, 1945

Carl E. Rice WW2 Memoirs: February 12th to February 19th, 1945

Feb 12, 1945, Monday—Had a good night’s sleep; had butter, bread, mush, sugar, milk, cigarettes, smoking tobacco for breakfast; battle rages, Japs are slaughtering thousands. Cannot get out to help family.

Feb 13, Tuesday—Many wounded civilians arriving from Malate; many of our sick moved to Quezon Institute to make room in the 5 Field Hospital for wounded. I got a gate pass, went out on the street, ESPANA, found my land lady from whom formerly rented house, Mrs. Loling Penalosa, she had just come in from Bulacan Province, and knew nothing about her or my families, she gave me some fresh eggs and tomatoes; had a large bundle of Jap mickey mouse money which was worthless; gave her thirty pesos of good money. Met Mr. Woo, a Chinese friend who promised to get some other Chinese to help look for family.

Feb 14, Weds—Battle raging in Malate, at Stadium on our St, and Ermita; found Alfred Skiles and Geo Luehrsen of our street in the Camp Hospital with shrapnel wounds, they report having seen Nena and Arthur alive in the playground on San Andres St; that Willie Luehrsen was killed, also all the Cornelius family except Fred and his wife who were in Jones’ house, all houses on our street burned and machine gunned by Japs, hundreds of our neighbors killed. I spent most of the day outside on the street, met a few friends who had escaped.

Feb 15, Thursday—Was processed by USAFFE, filed affidavit regard service with Army. CHARLIE and NENA came to me on Espana Street in front of Camp about 3:30 pm, they report Arthur badly wounded by shrapnel and Anding, Mary’s mother, killed (my great-grandmother); family still at  playground with Arthur; Dr. Emily Fink, Fred Fink’s daughter, killed; they escaped yesterday with Mrs. Provida and stayed at a house near camp last night; got them into Camp and given a bath and food, and quarters. Charlie is slightly wounded by shrapnel which was treated in Camp Hospital.

Feb 16, Friday—Spent day in street near gate, saw Mr. Woo and Mr. Leong Ah Whay, they are helping to look for family. Battle still rages.

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Rizal Stadium, top right, in background. This neighborhood or the one immediately south of the stadium is where my dad’s family lived. This photo is dated February 15th, 1945; at this very moment my family was hiding out from the Japanese hoping to make a run for the American lines.

Feb 17, Sat—Same, no word of family.

Feb 18, Sunday—Mr. Pineda, one of our neighbors, came in, reported Arthur badly wounded and taken by ambulance to unknown Hospital, and that family was at Calle Dart near the Singalong Church; he will go tell them at once to come here.

Feb 19, Monday—Family came about 2:30, had a hard time getting them admitted because of the opposition of Mr. Loyd, the British committee member; Mr. Earl Carrol admitted them. They were very thin, tired, hungry and ragged; worn out from ten days of constant shelling, machine gunning, sniping, house burned on the night of Feb 9th they escaped from the blazing home through machine gun fire (my dad vividly remembers this; described the bullets whizzing by, not unlike the opening scene from Saving Private Ryan) and spent ten days in fox holes in the playground behind our house; Japs sniped them, threw hand grenades in the shelters, bayoneted people, raped, set fire to others and committed other horrors.

*Cover image: Rizal Stadium (referred to in the Feb 14 entry above) during the Battle of Manila; U.S. soldiers advancing

Lost World: The Rice Family in the Philippines before World War 2

One more detour before we resume my grandfather’s memoirs. Here are a plethora of Rice family photos that I gathered on my Thanksgiving trip back to Manhattan, mostly in the Philippines, from the two decades before World War 2. My understanding is that my grandfather also had a farm out in the countryside in addition to the house he had in Manila itself (see first post from memoir), several pics of which are shown here. You should be able to click an image to see it enlarged with a caption (for the ones I provide a caption for; some have handwriting that’s self-explanatory).

Carl E. Rice WW2 Memoirs: February 10th and February 11th, 1945

Saturday, Feb 10th—All last night was an inferno; our guns firing over the Camp from the Cemetery, How they roared and crashed; shells whizzed, screeched, fluttered and made other weird sounds; We ran from the Gym and spent part of the night behind the Seminary, it rained and was cold; I went to kitchen and got some hot coffee; this morning our battery of 105’s inside the compound is firing and many batteries from places on this side of River; Japs are firing into Camp from south side of river; they go over the Gym close enough to hear them and are exploding toward the Education Building we moved from and where the 5th Field Hospital is; several in Hospital with wounds have been killed today by direct hits on Hosp.

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American artillery crews firing on Japanese positions from the grounds of the recently liberated Santo Tomas University during the Battle of Manila, February 1945.

Bill Harn and Hutchison have just been killed in their shanty near the Hosp. A shell hit near the Gym about fifty feet from where White and I were sitting against the wall so we decided that was getting too close and ran with others to the Seminary, one shell exploded just at the door, killing a man named Bennet and wounding another. We spent several hours behind the Seminary.

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The fires now show that have reached the Malate district, where my family is, also Fink’s, Wilhelm’s, Leursen’s, Wilson’s and others; all we can do is pray for them, hope they can somehow get through.

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Sunday, Feb 11—Terrific battle south side of river, only sniping this side; the batteries this side keep up fast firing over our heads. Only a few Jap shells in Camp; one hit near Gym in soft ground; I decided it’s no place for me so moved up to Room 52A in 3rd floor of Main Bldg with Crumrine, it’s close to the room but also just above the KITCHEN.

Bottom photo: La Salle University (top center/left) and Rizal Memorial Sports Stadium (top right in the distance) with Taft Avenue on the left looking south east. Photo is dated Feb. 15, 1945, during the month-long Battle of Manila. My father, then five, and his family I believe lived near the stadium, but am not sure if they were to the north (foreground) or south (off in the far distance of this photo), and would have desperately been trying to reach the American lines, possibly at the same moment this photo was taken. 

Carl E. Rice WW2 Memoirs: February 8th and February 9th, 1945

Thursday, Feb 8, 1945 cont.—The fires do not appear to be on our Leviriza St yet (where my dad’s family lived) as they appear to be in Paco and Ermita, also this side of the River. Our guns are firing over the Camp from near the Cemetery; Food comes into our Camp: butter, fresh bread; the soldiers do so much for us, they sacrifice their own rations so that we may eat meat and vegetables we have been deprived of so long; they are so shocked at our pitiful condition; most of us have begun to get some strength, but some were too far gone and every day some die; some seem to relax, to let go; they held on till the FLAG came back with their last bit of strength.

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American soldiers of “C” Company of the 148th Infantry move toward the Legislature Building in Manila, February 1945.

Friday, Feb 9th—Had a night’s sleep last night in spite of shells flying overhead toward the Japs south of the river; this morning the roar of battle is continuous, our troops have crossed the river and are attacking: planes, tanks, infantry, artillery, the sky is dark with smoke; sniping continues from houses near camp but we go about our routine affairs, mainly eating, are getting so much rich food that are having intestinal troubles, some have gone to hospital and I know that Cook, died from it.

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American soldiers taking cover as they advance through Manila on Dewey Blvd, now Roxas Blvd, Manila, Philippines, February 1945.

Yesterday Mr. Amos Bellis and myself went to the emergency Hospital in Room 13 to find Tom Henderson dying from wounds received in the shelling of the 7th; later we went to the Morgue to see his body and counted eighteen who had been killed or died of wounds received then; more died later; they are bing buried in the garden, while some services were being held the Japs shelled that part of the Camp.

 

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.

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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.