Diary of Natalie Crouter

Nov. 27, 1942

A type of rugged camp humor: One man raved about marriage and his love for his wife, which grows with the years like a flower. Another tough customer asks, “Yes, and how are you managing to keep the flower watered in these times?”

A guard went off with a bayonet in a car. An hour later, without any warning of newcomers, it returned and spewed out five forlorn, gaunt, possessionless Americans. They had been living in the hills eleven months, all from Itogon mine, comfortable and well fed until November 17 when they were betrayed and the soldiers walked in without warning. Our crowd gathered around them, and they were fed as faces pressed against every screen and closed in on every mouthful, talking and asking avidly. Young, sensitive, Filipino Dr. Biason had been with them, his pretty, dainty American wife, who was a nurse, and his sister. The last two were shot in the abdomen, he was not allowed to go near them, and his wife was still alive when he was led away, beaten, head held in a tub of water—all that sadists can think up to do. The two women were cremated that night. The others, elderly Mr. and Mrs. Perles, Tod and Ruth and a child younger than June, were made to go without any mats, blankets, or belongings, walking fifteen miles on empty stomachs, he tied up for four hours, in jail eleven days in a room eight by three feet. The thirty-one prisoners had only two bowls of rice and two glasses of water a day. The Japanese told them that thirteen others were captured and that most of us had gone to the States and they would probably go too. In Baguio they were questioned closely about Mrs. Klappert—the Japanese want her for hostage against her husband. The price on him is high, but she is the one they want to locate, for they can reach a man by capturing his love. Dr. Biason is said to be in Baguio, released, his child with him, a bullet through her middle, but she is alive. He wanted to die, he felt so responsible. They tried to pry much information from him, to make him pay for his loyalty to Americans. These newcomers say that people everywhere are terrified of the invader, for villages are burned, people beaten and tied up, tortured.