Carl E. Rice WW2 Memoirs: February 3rd, 1945, continued…

FEB 3, 1945, continued—We here in the Education Building with freedom within 30 feet of us are the hostages, to be killed if Japs think it will save their face; at least they are going to try to use our lives to make a deal for theirs. There is much noise in the other parts of the camp, some scattered shots and much shouting; we told the tank men who we were and where to shoot at the Japs; there is much machine gunning, the 50 cal (sic; “caliber”?) bullets from the tanks come right through the concrete walls, the glass windows downstairs are broken, the Japs shoot from behind barricades of desks and mattresses; the prisoners on the third floor are getting it worse than we as the bullets fired upwards go through the floor and are hitting some in the legs; the tank in from of the main door to the lobby fired its cannon once; only one Jap that I saw came out, the little one with a mustache supposed to be a doctor, we can look out from behind the pillars on the balcony right down on our tanks and also see the flashes from the Jap machine guns only a few feet from us at the windows over the main stairs; the machine gun bullets come through about five inches of concrete like it was cheese, the concrete chips and ricochets fly past us and some are hit but not hurt much.

The Japs made a barricade just outside our door in the hall, of boxes and mattresses; we are not allowed to pass thru it to the bathroom.

We can hear our men in the tanks talking to each other about where to shoot; infantry are deploying behind the rolls of air strip webbing and the shacks, the town this side of the river is being destroyed by terrific explosions of Jap time bombs, the sky reflects the great fires, the Japs yell “Banzai” and other different words, and our boys keep on with bursts of machine gun bullets, outside the camp also firing and much yelling;

The Japs finally made us all lie down in our bunks and said “You sleep”, we stayed in bed alright, did not sleep all night. We were expecting to be slaughtered any minute; if some screwball had grabbed a Jap’s gun or struck one we would have been massacred; a Jap sat on the foot of my bunk where he could peek over the balcony railing and shoot at our tanks, later he got a stool and sat on it beside me. If our infantry had rushed the building we would have been killed by the Japs before our boys got up the stairs.

The Jap cars parked in front were loaded, some with chow, and prisoners from the liberated part of camp lost no time in raiding the chow truck and even waved at us with beer bottles, the fighting could not keep those starving ones from chow.

The long night passed somehow, the shooting was in spurts only and the FOURTH of Feb, 1945 dawned on the toughest spot I have ever been in; being used as a  breastwork and hostage by crazy Japs is no fun, any way you look at it; there is sort of a truce evidently between our tanks and the Japs, the boys in the tanks now look out, smoke and talk to us, they are not infantry but are the 8th Cavalry of the First Cavalry Division, say they are known as MacArthur’s Butchers and take no prisoners.

(This was actually a small advance force of American soldiers, who had raced to Santo Tomas ahead of the main American army in order to free the American internees, for reasons which will soon become clear…)

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Carl E. Rice WW2 Memoirs: February 3rd, 1945

FEBRUARY 3, 1945*******************

All last night great explosions of oil and ammunition dumps in the Maraquina Valley; Terrific fires the length of the valley; This is a very noisy morning, explosions of bombs and blasting demolition charges fill the air with fumes of high explosive; crude oil and gasoline;

AT 4:30pm, just after supper, ten fighting planes came over, just above the roofs, only about 100 ft high there were more STARS than we have seen in three long years; they circled and dipped and signaled to show us that help was indeed at hand; one dropped a note in a wrench saying army would be in Monday morning, we were all crazy and paid no attention to the frightened demoralized Japs; some of their officers were in the path below our window looking at our planes, no smiles now, only fear and sullen looks; only a day or two more of starvation by these s—-b. THANK GOD.

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Not a shot was fired at our planes, we have complete control of the air, our boys were telling us by their stars that victory is complete, nothing these yellow murderers of helpless people can do to stop our army (pardon the racial language); WE cheered and cried, as sorry a looking bunch of skeletons as can be seen anywhere in this war; but most of us still have the guts our brave ancestors gave us and can see this finished.

We were all too excited to sleep early, and were all talking and arguing about the planes we heard the tanks to the north, but many tanks had been going back and forth past the camp, Jap tanks, for tanks (sic); the Jap guards rushed out of their cars parked in front of the Ed. Bldg., and the Filipinos were outside yelling “The Americans are here”; Shorty Strongman was the first to see our tanks at the gate and we were trying to keep him quiet when the tanks crashed through the front gate, with lights on and machine guns flashing; the Japs at the gate threw some hand grenades and fired a few shots but were wiped out; this was a little after 8:00pm, FEB 3, 1945.

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The front of Santo Tomas, after the Americans had retaken it.

We were so busy watching the tanks come up the road toward the Main Building that we forgot about the Jap guards; after some shooting near the Main Building, where they killed the Lt. Abuco, who was the meanest officer in the Camp, the tanks came to our building, three of the tanks came into the driveways to the front door and began firing machine guns; then we saw that the Jap guards had not gone away in the cars but had retreated into the second floor and were barricading themselves at all the stairways and the halls and rooms; some came into our rooms, they were armed with rifles, machine guns, bayonets, had grenades and swords. Our tanks stopped firing and the officer in the center tank, just below us, about thirty feet from us as a bullet flies, ordered “COME OUT WITH YOUR HANDS UP, I’LL GIVE YOU FIVE MINUTES”; we knew we were still prisoners of the Japs, hostages of sixty-five desperate savages. There were about three hundred of us, some women and children from Shanty Town having come upstairs.

 

 

Carl E. Rice WW2 Memoirs: January 30th to February 2nd, 1945

Jan 30, 1945—Conditions in Camp continue to get worse; altho (sp) the soybean mash, after Japs have processed it for most of its food values still has some nourishment in it and helps when added to the thin soup. So many are sick with beriberi due to starvation; their bodies so swollen that movement is difficult; face so swollen can hardly see; legs and feet like huge sausages; three or four die every day; the hospital is so overcrowded that have enlarged the GYM hospital and also many are left in quarters; stretcher bearers are busy and sometimes have two on a stretcher; I saw one dead man and one unconscious on one stretcher; NINE have died in the last thirty hours; some of us who are not sick have staggers, cannot walk far in a direct line.

Mr. Grinnel, Mr. Duggleby, Mr. Robinson and Mr. Larsen who were put in Camp Jail by Japs on Dec 23, were taken early this month to Ft. Santiago by the Jap Military Police, and have not been heard from since; during the past year none of the prisoners taken to Ft. Santiago have come back, a few have been reported as sent to new Bilibid at Muntinglupa, but most of them will never be seen again.

At night we can see gun flashes to the north, distant explosions; bombing to southeast, there is a haze of smoke and dust over the city; we are all very much excited, we believe help is near; many rumors but it’s sure that there is fighting to the north of Manila; the Japs are packing up, have sent out much of their supplies that were stored in the rooms below us.

Jan 31—The city is trembling from the blasting of buildings and piers by Japs, also much bombing in the suburbs, three of the fastest planes we ever saw flew over us so fast could just see a streak; Japs appear to be trying to destroy all the modern buildings we have put up during the past 40 years (my grandfather served in the Spanish American War in the Philippines as a young man from Kansas, which is how he ended up there and staying for most of the rest of his life; he had a very great attachment to the Philippines, so this would have been particularly distressing for him); they (the Japanese soldiers) are very uneasy and excited; our army is evidently very close.

Feb 1st—A noisy night, not much sleep, loud explosions all night as Japs used demolition bombs in port area, great fires in Cavite Province; very distant cannonading; Great oil fires, some in Port area, some appear to be in the Walled City;

Feb 2nd—Much blasting in and around Manila, planes over us but no bombing.

Every morning for the last few days we have been up before daylight; this is no time to sleep late; and from our window can see a beautiful dawn, fiery red through the clouds long before sunrise, and then the sun breaks thru and down through the blood red glare come our planes. It’s a wonderful sight; we are so thin that the early morning air is chilly; but things are happening so fast and relief appears so near that we cannot miss anything happening; the Japs are apparently going this time, not much left in their stores below us; they have several cars and trucks parked in front of the Ed. building ready to go.

 

Carl E. Rice WW2 Memoirs: December 26th to January 11th, 1945

We finally enter the critical year of 1945, and we close in on final act of my grandfather’s World War 2 memoirs. At this point of the story, as a reminder, my grandfather Carl Rice was 67 years old and had been a permanent internee at the prison camp inside the converted University of Santo Tomas main building since May 1943; my father James was 5 and living with the rest of the family in residential Manila some 35 minutes away via modern traffic, according to GoogleMaps, if I got the locations correct. I’ve sped up my transcribing of his memoirs as we approach some of the most compelling and tragic events of my family’s story during that brutal occupation…

Dec 26, 27, 28, 1944—Bombings and fires, also night and day have many explosions about Manila and suburbs, Japs are evidently destroying supplies and the piers.

***Dec 29—F.G. Wilson (Woody) died last night about 12:00, midnight, he fought a good fight but starvation, beriberi and heart disease were too much; he was one of the best and we employees of the Army will sure miss him.

Dec 30, 31—Bombings and fires, night flares and glare of distant fires.

*******
Jan 1, 1945
*******
This is not what I would call a happy new year but at least it is a hopeful one; indications are that Japs are going to pull out and may leave us behind.

I now weigh 137½ lbs, having lost 30 lbs since Feb 7, 1944 when gate was closed to food parcels and starvation began in earnest. I am not sick and am not as much of a skeleton as many.

Many of our planes passed from SE to NW, no bombs, just a Happy New Year from the boys and something hot for the Japs up north.

Jan 2—Ten large silver four motored bombers assed over, no bombs

Jan 3 and 4—Planes passed over, bombing far to south.

Jan 6—This was a big raid, bombing and machine gunning, explosions all night. Jays in here are packing up to leave; embassy has gone, they are burning many records.

Jan 7—Ate my breakfast of mush under continuous machine gun fire at the airport just north of us; 64 motored bombers made the Camp tremble and pulverized the air field at the Cemetery.

Rumors of release soon, Japs are killing some cattle and hogs, they have kept in here; the car of Yamashita’s is gone; Japs taking truckloads of picks and shovels out of rooms below us, loudspeaker says for us to remain calm, it is understood that Camp organization will carry on if Japs leave.

Jan 8—The four motored bombers were working over the bay and south side today; one plane received direct hit and went to pieces, pilot circled over camp with part of the wreck, which finally fell out toward Mandaloyan, several men parachute out, one came down in flames while others machine gunned by Japs as they floated down.

Jan 9—We are sure our troops have landed up north. Heavy bombing of Port Area and of the Maraquina Valley. Large fires and explosions. (He is correct; the Sixth United States Army Group landed on the south shore of Lingayen Gulf on the western coast of Luzon, 135 miles due northwest of Manila.) 

Jan 10—Many bombers going north; heavy bombings here, our building trembles daily from the explosions; my bunk by the window face south east, I am too weak to move around any more than I have to, but can stay in bed and get a good view of the big show over the Mariquina Valley and South Manila.

Jan 11—Heavy bombings in the Valley; at noon as we lined up for weak soup, some of our planes flew low between buildings a few feet over our heads, we all cheered and waved and cried. What a fine sight and how scared the Japs are.

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 Ephriam Rice World War II Memoirs: December 10th to December 24th, 1941

Dec 10, 1941—Went back to work today at the old office. Fred Fink and Fred Lurhesen went with me. I was assigned to helping evacuate supplies, Maj. Jacklin is in charge. About 11:50AM we went to lunch at the Legaspi Garden. Just after returning the air raid signal sounded; most ran out to the sea wall in front of office, I stayed in the Door “E” near Pier One (obviously NOT the modern retail store, heh). The jap planes were very high, much firing at them as they passed over but shells could not reach, except those from the Navy ship Canopus at pier one. Japs went on the Cavite and I had a clear view of the destruction of Cavite and of the Navy Yard. It was a terrible thing to see and to realize that we are so helpless. Japs came over us again and bombed ships in the bay near us. Last stick of bombs hit just outside the breakwater near Pier One. About 3pm launches began landing dead and wounded from Cavite and from the ships, in front of our office.

Dec 11 & 12, 1941—Rushing evacuation of warehouses, more air raids but no bombs in our locality. We are also busy loading trucks with supplies for firing lines.

December 13—Transferred to main office, now at San Beda College; my reinstatement to the classified Federal Civil Service effective this date by order of Col Frank Brezina, Department Quartermaster. Am assigned for duty to the administrative division under Chief Clerk F.G. Wilson. I will be on night duty relieving Wilson at 5pm.

Dec 14-24—On night duty, answering phone, transmitting orders, and many other things to do, the Col is here most every night. We are sending out convoys of trucks to Bataan every night. Nightly I bid goodbye to friends on their way to the fighting lines. At home the family is very brave and don’t get excited. Little Jimmie (my dad, then 2 and a half) comes up out of the raid shelter saying “All clear, keep ‘em flying”. We have a mess here at the office, also I take home rations, but don’t care to take many because no room for storage.

Carl Ephriam Rice - WW2 Memoirs Pg 2