A never-to-be forgotten day for the internees and prisoners of Santo Tomas and Bilibid Prison (old).
It was about 5:30 p.m. when we heard repeated and long bursts of heavy caliber machine gun fire along the North road. There was a deep rumble which sounded like airplanes but as there were no planes in sight, it boiled down to — tanks. Very soon the sound drew nearer and the machine gun fire hotter together with heavy tank guns 2.8″, I believe the caliber is. The boys were meeting with a little Jap resistance; but they soon overcame the weak and surprised opposition of the mighty Imperial Japanese Army and drove on to Bilibid and the Far Eastern University. There at the F.E.U., our boys had quite a fight. Some were killed and quite a number wounded. But they blasted the place all to hell, set fire to it and came on about their business.
At nine o’clock, it was very dark — the moon came about midnight; one big thirty ton tank drove into the front gate and another came through the Seminary road and just took the gate with it. The Japs were caught napping and a bunch of them ran into their quarters in the Education Building.
One Jap car came up the center road and almost ran into the tank. The Yanks made short work of them.
Well, looks like the Japs are getting ready to evacuate Manila and suburbs. Lots of fires early this morning — they are destroying supplies and from the looks of things, burning up half of the country in doing it.
Oh yes, they have been throwing bones, etc. on the ground and in garbage cans whenever they butchered. Yesterday they gave the bones to the kitchen.. By the way, the carabao they killed yesterday and day before both belonged to an American here in camp and were brought into camp to pull the plows. Well, we got the bones. Nice little fellows, eh ?
No wood in camp. Still burning up furniture and what not. Soon be the beds.
There has been plenty of activity around here lately — both day and night. Well the boys are getting closer all the time. But our food is getting less every day and right now it is a toss up who gets here first — the troops with some food or the buzzards.
The Japs are eating good; they bring cows and pigs into camp. Our men take care of them and then kill the beef for the Japs. Day before yesterday, they had a big fat hog. Yesterday they killed a carabao. They are selling rice, soy beans, and sugar. They will not take anything but P.I. money as that is the only money that they can buy anything with outside. Yesterday, rice was ₱130.00 a kilo and sugar got down as low as ₱80.00 They had to get the money quick. I have tried to get some money to spend but the sharks want the equivalent of your heart’s blood.
Men are dying from starvation every day and day before yesterday, the Japs put two of our doctors in jail because they refused to change the death certificates from starvation to heart trouble, or some other ailment. Over 3/4 of the people in camp are starving. There are some who have a few cans of food left but even they no longer have enough to eat.
Imagine, if you can, American men, women and children picking food out of the garbage cans and off of the ground — if they can find any.
Breakfast, lunch, and supper same as yesterday. The camp is out of wood with the exception of green acacia. They have already burned dining tables and parts of the dining shed and yesterday and today they used benches and chairs from the fourth floor school room to supplement the acacia.
This morning a large chunk of anti-aircraft shell tore a hole through the roof of the Education Building and wounded two men. The later Santo Tomas version is that the shell exploded near the bathroom on the third floor and only one man suffered a very small scratch. Well, that’s Santo Tomas for you.
Quite a bit of bombing around today.
I made a mistake about the chow. Yesterday we had mixed talinum and camote greens. Looked like something the dog left. Mrs. Carter gave me some raw talinum and I mixed it with salt, pepper, mustard, vinegar, chili and garlic. I bummed everything but the salt. It was hot but tasted fine with the soy beans. We didn’t get such a generous helping of the beans tonight and they were not cooked enough. That is because of the fuel shortage.
My feet are swelling again in spite of the medicine. The Doc says “too much salt”, so I will cut it out for a while and see how things turn out.
Done some sewing today and unraveled some very nice thread from sock tops. Some job I have on the crazy patch work quilt but I will get it done. The work keeps my mind off of other things and helps the time pass away.
Had some soy bean milk with our mush. I liked it very much. Lunch today will be soy bean soup and for supper, soy bean and corn stew. We are getting plenty of soy beans. Lots of heavy bombing around this morning.
Some more about yesterday. I saw the big bombers when they came over. There were six groups of six planes. Five silver and one black to a group. They turned loose a blanket of bombs around the lower end of Marikina Valley. Note: That is called “Pattern bombing”. Saw one Jap plane yesterday evening. Don’t know where he came from or where he was going. I am of the opinion that he didn’t know himself.
No planes today. Everything very quiet. Too much so, I think something will happen soon. Heard today that our rice is cut again. Instead of 600k per day it will now be 550k.
While it is on my mind I will note here. On Dec. 28, the J.A. arrested and put in jail under their control. Mr. Gremmell, who was the Chairman of the Internee Committee (and who by the way was a “Big Shot” since the start and practically run this camp to suit himself), Mr. Dugglby, the Chairman of the Family Aid Committee, and two others named Larsen and Johnson. Johnson was taken to Santiago and hasn’t come back. Today they too Gremell, Duggleby and Larsen to Santiago. We don’t know the exact charges, but it doesn’t look good for the Big Shot. Well, I have no use for him. He has expressed himself too plainly on several occasions. He seemed to think that he owned this camp and ran it until this Commandant came. Gremmell once said, “he did not care for the opinion of the other internees”; nice words, especially as they came from a supposed American. There are plenty more like him in this camp, and some of them are to a great extent to blame for the starvation. There is a big steal going on and nothing done about it. Yet, when they catch old John Doe getting an extra helping of food –15 days in the camp jail. That is Democracy as it is practised today. Oh, this camp is a wonderful place for showing up preachers, missionaries and the upright Americans.
Three years today since I came into camp. All quiet today. None of our planes and one a few Japs.
10:45 a.m. Another flock of our planes just passed over. No air raid alarm and no rough stuff.
We had a tasty dinner yesterday. Two scoops (small) of rice, camotes and carabao meat fried with garlic and leeks. mmmm! tasted mighty good. Also a fair sized ladle of meat gravy. Would have liked to have had double the helping. Then my poor little tummy would have been full for once.
Breakfast this morning — just mush. I got some hot water and mixed some of the mush on the hot water with salt and had a hot drink. Trying to fool myself, but no can do.
At 3:30 p.m. 10 B-24’s passed over Quezon City, going east. Anti-aircraft batteries shot at them but no hits. (They drove them away.)
Rice and mixed camote and talinum greens with meat gravy. No taste.
Started the day with weak lugao and still weaker coffee.
Air raid alarm at 10:30 a.m. Forty of our big planes, flying very high. Went north. No rough stuff around here.
The Japs celebrating today. They killed a pig last night.
Had a cup of fairly good soup for lunch.
All clear went before 1:00 p.m. The Japs must be getting drunk. They have been shouting “Banzai” and singing up until about 2:30 p.m. Maybe they all most all “plastado” now. They’re in their office on the whole ground floor of the Ed. Bldg. and use part of the second floor as a store room. They take anything they want –even the papayas and bananas we planted. If one of our people are caught taking anything from the garden, they are given 15 days in jail. That is justice.