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.
Didn’t feel like writing yesterday. For breakfast — same thing. Might as well say, “Hebrews 13 Chap. 8 verse”, that would cover it every day. Lunch — soy bean soup and supper, soy beans – rice stew, not much rice but plenty of beans. They fill up much better than the other things we have been getting and are very nourishing and I like them. My feet are swollen more. Had some nice new khaki patches (3 kinds) that I got out of the odds and ends which I got from the bodega. Well, some misguided soul stole them. Pretty low when one roommate will steal anything so small from another. May it profit him. Lots of bombing around today.
Breakfast — sweetened mush (?). They had 80 kilos of sugar and 25 gal. of syrup for the whole camp — about 3,700 people so you can imagine just how sweet it was. Thin kidney bean soup for lunch and for a supper, soy bean, camote stew (thin). I got plenty of the beans but very little camotes. Anyway the soy beans are much better for us. I am satisfied if they don’t give us any rice as long as they can give us soy beans and camotes. Half of the camp has the beriberi so anything but rice is better for us.
Sorry to see it rain this morning. Don’t like to think of our boys fighting in the wet. Quite a few planes around today but I did not see any. Heard lots of, what seemed to be, artillery fire this p.m. Got most of my rags sorted out.
Same old morning meal. Soy bean soup for lunch and soy bean, camote stew for supper and again I feel satisfied.
Plenty doing today. This morning our planes unloaded a lot of heavy bombs on what appeared to be Montalban Gorge. Probably buried a lot of Japs there. Hope so, anyway. This afternoon a bunch of P-38’s were after Marikina Valley. A very big fire west of Malabon. It sure was putting out lots of black smoke.
Well, today I sure got all of the different colors and prints for my crazy patch work that I can use. I got three red cross kit boxes full of that sort of stuff from the bodega. I found thread, yarn, new patches and pieces of various colors besides lots of women’s dresses, drawers and what not. Well, what I can use I can save and take home. Mama and the girls can find use for that sort of thing.
Haven’t seen a Jap plane for about 8 days, and there has been no trains that passed here for about 4 or 5 days now. Things are picking up. All for today.
Oh yes, nearly forgot. Somehow the Japs left their storeroom open. The camp kids got into it and stole a lot of coconut oil They carried it away in 5 lb. margarine tins. The Japs were all hot and bothered. It is now prohibited for any internee to go near that place. Coconut oil is about worth its weight in gold now.