Diary of Albert E. Holland

November 1, 1944

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Nov. 1, 1944

Dearest Hope—

In the days to come I shall keep a diary for you – a diary of our last days in the camp. They will be hard and trying days, for we are very short of food and there is danger from bullets and shrapnel – But they will be interesting –

Our food has fallen off sharply since FeB 1944 and for the last two months we have been practically starving.

Month Official allowance Jap camp stocks Extra sources of food
Kits-canteen
February 1700 400 Veg. Mrkt
March 1700 400
April 1600 400 Kits veg mrkt
May 1400 400 ”             “
June 1400 400 ”             “
July 1300 400 ”             “
August 1200 300 Limited kit goods
September 1200 200 ” ”   “
October 1100 200 ”       “
November 1100 150
in calories per capita per day

The old men are dying off – one or two per day – They can not stand the food scarcity – –

The military situation is more hopeful – Our forces

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landed in Leyte on Oct. 18th and we have had raids over Manila on – Sept 21, Sept 22, Oct 15, 17, 18 & 29th

I wonder if I can describe for you the bombing on Sept 21st. Imagine 3000 slowly starving, interned for 2 ¾ years, with no sign of our troops since the fall of Bataan in April of ’42 (Corregidor May ’42). At about 1030 in the morning of the 21st – we heard the drone of planes in the distance – we paid little attention as the Japanese had five or six fields in and around Manila – The noise grew louder; and off to the north one could see a large number of planes headed for the City – Still it was only the number that surprised us – we were sure they were Japanese. The planes began to assume a more definite shape – They seemed different – They were ours! The anti aircraft fire started, and, laughing & shouting we rushed for the buildings – Many were in tears. What a wonderful show those boys put on – spectacular dives – right thru the anti-aircraft fire –

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They came – wave after wave – there must have been 250-300 of them altogether – the next day they returned – we thought that this was the beginning of a campaign in Luzon – we would be out by October 10th –there were no more raids until October 15th! Again elation, especially as the raids were resumed on the 17th & 18th – Then the news of the landings in Leyte – 300 miles to the south – they would soon be here! The next raid came on October 29th – since then no raids – We know that our troops are in Leyte, perhaps in Samar as well, by now – There are rumors of landings in Atimonan on the East Coast of Luzon – who knows? So there is the picture – we are starving, the old men dying like flies – our troops are some 300 miles away on Leyte – It is just like one of those silent Westerns you & I would go to see on 102nd St. on Saturday afternoon – Do you remember? The pianist would stop – The picture would stop – The beleaguered garrison would seem hopelessly doomed – Then the pianist would strike up the Star-Spangled Banner, and the picture, moving again, would show the US Cavalry pouring

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over the hill, flags waving, drums beating, bugles blowing (though we could not hear them). So in this little drama, little in the vast drama of a world-wide struggle, 800 children, 800 people over 60 and 2200 men & women between 18 and 60 in poor health – are struggling to keep alive – we hear the bugles blowing, but the Cavalry has not come yet.

Just for the record (to compare as the days pass) I weigh 118 lbs – 73 pounds less than I weighed in Jan-42.

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