December 27, 1944

Dec. 27th – No action today – The Japanese are going to cut our ration again – Well, it means just so much more determination – It is no longer possible to fight this fight on the plane of physical life – We must fight it on the spiritual plane – We must do this to survive –

We hear the military are moving out of Manila – I hope so – Perhaps we’ll be better off. As it is, the boys better get here quickly, or there will be no one left –

There is nothing like a good fight – From now on it will be a corker!!

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Mrs Christianson has gone insane – The Japanese refuse to let us send her to a hospital for mental cases – She is violent – How can we take care of her here?!

December 26, 1944

Dec. 26th – The air-raid signal was given at 10:15 A.M. and is still on at 2.00 P.M. – We can hear bombing in the distance – Reports are current that the Japs admit evacuating Corregidor – I doubt not the evacuation but the admission –

The man next to me is dying – In part because he has given up – I am going to make it my job to keep him alive – He must regain his desire to live – He must eat –

I wish you could see this ward – men swollen like balloons from beri-beri, men weakened by the exhaustion of bacillary dysentery, cases of protein deficiency, pellagra, severe Anemia – All smashing down defenses undermined by starvation – And death

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watching by every bedside until a moment of acute weakness – usually the early hours of the morning – when he can lead another victim away – Day in, day out the struggle goes on – against disease and against starvation: against death –

Conrad writes in “The Mirror of the Sea” of the “hope of home, the hope of rest, of liberty – – – following the hard endurance of many days…” Home, rest, liberty – what dreams are conjured up by these words – And what determination to fight against the Jap policy of deliberate starvation, what vows to obtain revenge for our friends who could not hold out – If you could see us now, your anger could not be controlled!

December 24-25, 1944


Dec. 24th – Today, to keep Dorita & the children alive, I purchased from a profiteer 2 lbs margarine. 20 oz. Jam, 1/2 kilo sugar, 1/2 lb honey, & for Dorita 3 3/4 oz coffee – The profiteer charged me $ 500 (!!) payable after the war – Frightful! But I cannot see them starve – If Jess & José Ossorio had been of different caliber (if they had been MJ & Luis) this would not have been necessary –

This afternoon I was ordered into the hospital – Possible angina pectoris, complete physical exhaustion – emaciation – malnutrition – starvation – 97 pounds down from 191 – Perhaps I’ll come out of this alive, perhaps not – But Dorita & the children will pull thru –

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The ward is full of old men for whom I have fought tooth & nail with the Japs – I kept all of them out at least 1 1/4 years, many of them 2 years 9 months (until this Sept.). Now they are dying – It is shameful! Shameful! The Japs responsible for this murder should be tried & severely punished –

Tomorrow is Xmas – At once the best (hope) and the worst (physical condition) we have had – From now on it will be a race between the army & death – And, as has been written in many diaries of shipwrecked & lost souls “God help us All.”


Mr Lawton died at 3:00 am. He was another of the very sick old men forced into camp in Sept from Remedios  and Hospicio:

Dec. 25th – Our 3rd Xmas here – And a wonderful one! First Xmas cards dropped from our planes (copy of message attached)39 – Then Mass & Communion – Breakfeast – Then I wrote messages to friends-Dorita gave me a pair of socks & her share of the piece of chocolates – The children each gave me a cigar – Dorita fixed luncheon – talinum salad, corned beef & a fruit bibinka – Mr Van Vorhees gave me a can of coffee & a can of spinach soup – This afternoon many friends came to visit & later Dorita came -I bought her & the children 1 kilo of mongo beans – price $ 150 – But they are starving, & a funeral would cost more – the profiteers have us

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just where they want us – But it is so close to the end – 3-4 weeks – We must live!

For supper tonight we had fried rice, camotes & greens – I had a dab of margarine and a piece of bibinka & the chocolate – Later I will have a cup of coffee, a bit of sugar & a small slice of cake – If you knew how little it takes to make us happy – We know you are thinking of us & we are thinking of you & praying you are well –

We have great hopes!

December 23, 1944


Dec. 23rd – Two very exciting happenings today, one wonderful, one very unfortunate. Let’s take the wonderful first –

This morning about 10:15 18 4-engined bombers & 40 fighters passed over the camp – How very routine that sounds – But it was the most glorious sight I have ever witnessed -The B-24’s or B-29’s (they are not Flying Fortresses) sailed along at 15-20,000 ft – serenely, placidly, majestically – It was like seeing the Queen Mary, the Normandie, the Queen Elizabeth, the Bremen and the Europa steaming in formation in a calm sea – Around the big planes the P-38 fighters danced & looped like flying fish – The planes seemed made of crystal

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against the light blue of the tropical sky – they did no bombing here, but probably bombed Corregidor & Mariveles (?). This is the first time 4-engined bombers have been over Manila- A good sign – They probably came from Leyte, the fighters from Polillo or Mindoro.

This afternoon about 15 Jap M.P.’s came into camp & tore the place apart – Grinnell, the head of the camp and Duggleleby, one of the camp’s leaders were thrown into jail – No one knows why – But I have my suspicions & they center around getting news outside as to the terrible conditions which prevail here – And they are terrible –

December 22, 1944


Dec. 22nd – This morning the following supplies were brought in from Far Eastern University (War Prisoner Bureau) as a gift from the International Welfare Committee. 800+ pounds of beans, 2 bags of sugar, some rubber shoes & clothing, 49 lbs of chocolate, 1 bag of coffee, some tea, 8 bags calamansis, 15,000 cigars, 8000 cigarettes – The foodstuffs were released by the Japs, but they kept the tobacco – We may get it, we may not. But we are grateful to the neutrals –

Yesterdays paper according to reliable reports carried an item which quoted one Sadao Iguchi, spokesman for the Jap Foreign Office. “Arrangements have been made for the distribution of relief supplies to US War Prisoners in China & the Philippines – The distribution will be made as soon as possible—

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There was no dateline, so we do not know, if the supplies are still in Japan or if they are here in Manila – If they are in Japan, we may not receive them until the 3rd or 4th week in January – If they are here, we could get them at any time – It is interesting to note that Mr. Kato & Mr. Yamaguchi, both of whom are civilians and formerly connected with the camp have been acting as intermediaries the last few days between the army officials here & officials (who are they?) at the Dominican Seminary next door.

We hope the supplies are here & will be distributed soon – We are really just about on our last legs from starvation – The camp looks like a group of ghosts –

December 21, 1944

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Dec. 21st – No news – no action –

The Japanese stated today that they might give us some camotes, or more soy bean meal or some gabi to make up for the rice cut – So far they have given us nothing –

We use up our last camp reserves on Xmas – Each person gets 1 3/4 oz jam. 1/2 oz chocolate – Not much, but it helps –

We now are reported to have landed large reinforcements in Mindoro – Everyone expects all Hell to break loose over Xmas, but I think it will be a while before we consolidate our positions on Mindoro –

December 20, 1944


Dec. 20th – No action until this evening when some observation planes flew over – Later there were bombs dropped – Kit rumors stronger –

The Japanese cut our rice ration today down to 200 grams net per adult, 100 grams net per child under 10. Making adjustment for the Children, this means 180 grams net per person per day – caloric content about 650 calories. The rest of our food equivalent about 50 calories, so we are getting 700 calories starting tomorrow. They say that they may give us a substitute to make up the rice cut – I am skeptical. This is a 25% reduction in our net rice ration – From 240 to 180 – Since September the cut has been from 400 grams (300 Japs & 100 camp reserves) to 180, 55%.

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I weigh 97 now, and unless the relief kits or the soldiers come soon, I very much doubt that my physical strength will hold out – Mentally, I am hopeful, and far more alert than ever before – My spirits on the whole are high – But there is a physical limit to ebbing strength – My reason cannot overlook this.

The thought of death is not one to revel in – But it is a possibility (indeed, in my case, close to a probability), which must be faced – coldly, grimly – I would say disdainfully – I am sure that life still has much


happiness which I have not yet experienced – But many times I have been very happy – perhaps more than I deserved – I have no complaints, I am not afraid – what Caesar says is true: Death, a necessary thing, will come when it will come –

My record in this camp is one you will not be ashamed of – But neither desire for glory nor hope of reward have been the driving force behind what I have done. I felt that certain things should be done and I did them – partly as an obligation, as a return for the sacrifices being made by men on the firing line (such as Billy & Tony) and partly for the very great happiness I find in being able to help others -I wish I could have done more –

December 19, 1944

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Dec. 19th – Still under alert here in camp – no action – Japanese planes are using fields again -Perhaps the bombings on the 14th-15th & 16th were covering for the landings on Polillo & Mindoro (esp. the latter).

Have you ever noticed how step by step something will disintegrate (for major reasons) and then blow up for good because of some minor irritation – So it is with many of our old people – Starved, their bodies melt away, their resistance is destroyed – then a slight cold, an unimportant diarrhea – and they die.

December 18, 1944


Dec. 18th – One week until Christmas, the worst and at the same time the best we have spent in this camp – It is wonderful what the women are making for the children out of nothing –

The camp was just on an alert basis at 10:20 today, after 98 hours of airraid alarm -No siren blew, so we assume that Manila is still under air-raid – No US planes today but there were some Jap planes around –

The Japs admitted yesterday the landing in Mindoro – This is fact, as is the report of the Polillo landing – It is rumored that the Japanese language paper admitted a landing in Tayabas – But

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This is rumor –

Kit stories current again – We are to get them before Xmas – Also a rumor –

3 things hit us very hard: 1) Lack of food 2) Lack of tobacco, 3) Lack of authentic news –

A man in our room collapsed today and had to be taken to the hospital – All hospitals are full, and the rooms in the buildings are full of sick people for whom there is no hospital accommodation –

There are signs that the Japs are becoming more lenient – But I am skeptical – Perhaps Shiragi, Kamatsu & Abiko will be


removed. Then I’ll believe it –

Have you ever read “My Antonia” by Willa Cather? It is delightful – Story of pioneer days in Nebraska and a Bohemian family – I wonder why I never read it before?

I was thinking of Paul Reif to-day – I consider him my very best friend, almost an older brother – An Austrian who went to Holland in the twenties – Charming wife – 3 little girls – I wonder where he is and what he is doing? I am looking forward to a reunion with him- I want you & Neil34 to meet him –

And so another day – The 1077th in this camp -Is it possible?