June 22, 1945—Moved to San Carlos Camp, on a hill in Mandaloyan, an old Spanish Convent. Spent first night in a tent with Mr. Jones, rained and hard wind blew the tent down on us. Moved in a few days to the lower floor of convent, good room occupied by about all the old timers.
July 12, 1945—Received from the finance section of Recovered Personnel Branch, U S Army, the arrears in pay due me. $10,223.74 ($137,298.58 in 2016 dollars). Bought seven $1000.00 “E” War bonds. Numbered Series E, M-10091547, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53. In name of myself and Mrs. Rice.
July 24—Received Spanish War Pension Checks for period July 1st, 1944 to April 30, 1945, total $500.00.
July 31—Put on repatriation list #15. I don’t like to do it. Mrs. also does not like it although she wishes to be with Charlie and Henry; my friends here are all against it; but the three children here with me must have school, which they have been deprived of for three years and need food they cannot now get here. I know that as far as I and Mary are concerned it will be a hardship, and a costly trip. Also we all need better food and a change in climate so we are hoping we do not find such bad conditions as we hear about in States and that we will soon be able to return to Manila (they eventually would two years later).
Aug 1, 1945—Embarked on the Navy Transport Gen. John Pope, by way of San Bernadino Straits, Saipan, Marshall Isles, to Seattle; the Atomic bomb fell and Japs surrendered while we were on the sea.
Seattle Immigration made it hard for all on board, we arrived on Aug 17, left by Union Pacific Aug 20, arrived in Manhattan (Kansas) about 9pm, Aug 23, the boys and Sister Ada met us and HERE WE ARE.
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.
Feb 20, Tuesday—Walked to Chinese Hospital, terrible, floors covered with the wounded so thick cannot walk without carefully stepping over them, many dying, wounds undressed or tied with bloody rags; thought had found Arthur but it was a boy named Chase, same size. One nurse said she remembered a boy like Arthur who died, but Chief Nurse said no record of a boy of his name. Walked from Chinese Hospital to San Lazaro; it’s worse than the other, something terrible to see the hundreds of wounded, many dying, horribly mangled, not enough Doctors or nurses to care for them, I was glad he is not in there.
Feb 21, Weds—Stayed in Camp, boys went out to look for Arthur in hospitals but did not find him. Battle of Manila still rages, in Walled City and Post Office district. Major Carl Goodrich was looking for me.
Feb 22, Thursday—Repatriation of prisoners started today. Family is now well settled in Camp, boys find many of their friends here; heavy fighting, batteries near us firing shells over camp into walled city; Japs still drop an occasional shell into the Camp.
Feb 23, Friday—Shelling from behind our Camp into Walled City is a continuous roar.
Feb 24, Sat.—It is reported that Japs in Walled City surrendered; I got a pass and went with Private Henry Lanigan of the First Cav. Div., by jeep, truck, ambulance, banca, and much walking to the war torn district East and Southeast, Queson City, San Juan, and Mandaloyan, to every Hospital we could find, out as far as the firing line; the wounded from Walled City were arriving at Mandalayon Hospital, I knew some of them, a terrible sight; no record of Arthur.
Feb. 25, 26, 27, 28—No word of Arthur. Hundreds of refugees coming into Camp.
Monday, March 1st—Went to Far Eastern University to report the Civil Service employees of the Quartermaster Department, could find no one who knew what to do about us.
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.
My Uncle Arthur, 12 years old at the time of this pic, 1942
Uncle Charlie, 20 yrs old, 1946
Nena Collins, my grandfather’s ward after the death of her father, 1940
Anding, my great-grandmother (dad’s mom’s mother), date unknown; early 1900s possibly.
Scan from my grandfather’s photo album of my grandmother, my dad (next to her) and his sisters. The caption to the left says that Mary (as he called her) was at the limit of her endurance by this point in 1944.
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.
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
I’m going to take a break from transcribing directly from my grandfather’s memoirs to give a bit more context and background to the wider military developments which, at the moment we left off, were even then engulfing the city of Manila, its inhabitants, and of course my family.
Below are some maps to help the reader better visualize the location of the Philippines:
When the U.S. Army began the campaign to oust the Japanese from Luzon (they had already invaded the islands to the south), they actually managed to embark from the north, via the Lingayen Gulf along the northwestern coast of Luzon, due north and west of Manila, on January 9th, 1945.
You would expect that the U.S. Army would prefer to deliberately proceed southward to evict the Japanese. However, U.S. General Douglas MacArthur had received intelligence that the American and other Allied prisoners held in places like Manila and at other locations were to be slaughtered if the American army got too close. MacArthur was desperate to rescue as many American lives as he could and sent an advance force south to Manila with all haste to secure Santo Tomas among other known prison camps.
As you saw previously in my grandfather’s memoirs, this was accomplished by February 5th, 1945. Though the Japanese guards were allowed to leave, other Japanese units continued to bombard Santo Tomas for roughly a full week afterward, taking many American soldiers lives as well as, in a sad irony, many newly-freed American internees (again, as has been seen previously in the memoirs).
Perhaps somewhat naively and definitely optimistically, MacArthur declared that Manila had “fallen” on February 4th. He and his staff were said to even be planning a victory parade. Indeed, the general in charge of the Japanese Army, Tomoyuki Yamashita, did not believe he could defend Manila and had ordered his troops to abandon the city and fall back to the foothills to the north.
Had this policy been carried out by the entire Japanese military apparatus in the Philippines, all would have been well as far as Manila was concerned; countless lives would have been spared and the city, known as the Pearl of the Orient for its beauty that combined Spanish, American and native architectural styles from its varied multicultural heritage, would have been preserved.
Unfortunately, the Japanese Navy, commanded by Rear Admiral Iwabuchi Sanji, was committed to defending Manila at all costs, and in defiance of his colleague Yamashita, was determined to inflict the maximum possible damage on the advancing American forces, and more horrifically, on the defenseless Filipino civilian population, including such atrocities as rape, mutilation, bayoneting, and ultimately slaughter. In the end, it is estimated that 100,000 Filipinos were killed during the month long Battle of Manila (some estimates are as high as 500,000), and not all by Japanese soldiers, but also due to friendly fire from the advancing Americans who were unable to always differentiate the civilians.
By the end of the battle on March 3rd, 1945, the Pearl of the Orient was reduced to a pile of rubble and laid waste in one of the most vicious urban battles of World War 2.
It is against this backdrop that we return to my grandfather’s memoirs…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Feb 6, 1945 Cont.—Heavy fighting continues, Jap demolition time bombs continue to explode, about 15 sq miles of the city north of the river now burned; three of our armies said to have advanced close to Manila; the First Cavalry troops who rescued us were only about 700 strong.
We are to be moved tomorrow to the GYM to make room for Hospital; Red Cross says to leave everything behind as they will give us new clothes and beds; but we know the Red Cross and will hold on to our old stuff till we see their new supplies (never did get them).
Feb 7—Shelling of Camp continues; Gen MacArthur visited Camp; at 2PM I was in Main Building to send radio, and hurried away from the crowd at the front door as we were to load our things on a truck to the Gym; just got away in time as a shell hit just over the door and killed several people and wounded many; When I finally got things loaded shells were coming our way, one hit in front of main building, killing a soldier on plaza; several just missed our roof and hit the wall behind garden, one killed some Japs hiding in a house behind camp; Nelson said, let’s get out of here, so I went down behind the building, and stayed there while shelling was heavy.
Feb 7 cont.—I did not go to the Gym with some who left our room; as they were fixing their bunks in the Gym several shells hit it and killed “Java” and fatally wounded Tom Henderson, and severely wounded several others and most of the folks ran over behind the Seminary; I finally made a run for the Main Building and lined up inside for chow, about 5:00PM; as we waited in the chow line, shells hit the rooms at south corner and killed and wounded many people, mostly women, some of the girls who dip out food for us were killed, Rev. Foley and Phil Carmen also killed.
The dead and wounded were carried past me into room 13, for emergency Hospital; they were very badly mangled by shrapnel; after supper we stayed on the sidewalks north east side, it was raining slightly, many of us had diarrhea from eating too much, fighting was heavy, machine guns were firing tracer bullets at our guns, several soldiers were killed; an officer came by and gave me two cigars, said with compliments of General MacArthur; shells hit room above us and showered fragments; had no blankets and all in all it was a night to remember.
About 4:00AM Crumrine and I got into the back door of the Main Building, it was crowded, and as the emergency hospital was full and some wounded and died, there was much weeping and distress among the women and children; until daylight it was not a nice situation to be in.
Several soldiers were killed and wounded in the night fighting.
Feb 8—Daylight brought some lull and good breakfast; I at last got my longed for bread and butter; went to Gym and found my clothes but no cot so I used Graham’s as he is in Hospital, this is a fairly quiet day and got a little sleep. Battle still raging in Manila but only few shells near hear. Thousands of Japs are in Walled City and Ermita and Malate and our troops are attacking.
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.
(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.)
We 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.
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.