At 5:30 that morning Billy crashed my bedroom door to exclaim, “Pearl Harbor has been bombed!” Well, we just couldn’t believe it.
I quickly dressed, putting on the only sensible pair of shoes I owned (little did I know that no other shoe was to be on my feet for three years and four weeks). The radio was kept on constantly —already Japan had virtual control of the air because her powerful Tokyo station could drown out everything with a zizzing noise. But once in a while we caught a snatch of further casualties at Pearl Harbor. The telephone kept ring ringing —Baguio friends asking us what we thought and what we were going to do; Manila friends asking if they could come up to Baguio for safety. We said come along—Florence had room and food for all. But they did not come—gas rationed and transportation paralyzed.
At 7:30 I took Bill and Betsy to Brent School as usual. Saw some neighbors there and told them we were beginning our air shelter right away and for them to come down and use it if things ever got bad. I went to the Post Office to get my air letters off to catch the Clipper the next day out of Manila. Murphy, Ex-Mayor Halsema and I were discussing Pearl Harbor out in front of the Post Office when we saw 17 magnificent bombers in three formations flying towards us from the south. We cheered them with glee as that is how Uncle Sam was answering Pearl Harbor. They flew high directly over us and glistened beautifully in the bright morning sunshine. We know
they were on their way to bomb hell out of Tokyo.
We went into the Post Office to buy our stamps, etc. And heard boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. This in the direction of Camp John Hay (the U.S. military post); so we know the Post was firing salutes for the planes, and Mrs. Halsema and Mrs. Turner to take them to town to buy bolts of warm cloth for Igorote Christmas shirts. While at Halsema’s we heard more booms and some Filipinos passing by in a car yelled, “Camp John Hay has been bombed.” Well, we couldn’t believe any thing like that. On we went to town.
When I let the women out at a cloth store, it was rumored on the street that Camp John Hay had been bombed, but there was the same beautiful sunshine as of any other day, same streets, innocent people, beautiful blue sky, the pain and terror of bombs were impossible. Anyway, I went to the market to buy some more canvannes of rice for the servants. While there, we heard more booms in the direction of John Hay, and the Filipinos flew by in
a car calling out, “Camp John Hay is bombed!” As our lumber compound was adjacent to the Post, I thought I better be getting home, as the servants might be worried. On the way I stopped at Aguinaldo’s to buy a lot of creton to make some comfort kits for the 1500 servicemen Mrs. Sayre had said might be hospitalized by Christmas. While buying this—more booms; so I lit out for home.
As I passed the turn in the road above our house, the asphalt was full of cracks—they were not there an hour ago— what was happening anyway? I hurriedly made the other turns to get to the house. There were the four servants standing out in the driveway, scared to death, eyes popping out of their heads. With one accord, they exclaimed, “Mum, we’ve been bombed!!!” One bomb had fallen 30 feet behind the house, but spent most of its force in the soft dirt of the garden. Another had hit in dirt between us and our nearest neighbor. Crosby was standing by his car at the turn of the road
waiting for Jerry—the concussion knocked him flat. He was shell-shocked (later went insane, and finally died). Another bomb had landed under a large lumber bodega, but it did not explode. Another dropped near our gasoline station, it did not explode either. Another fell in soft dirt between the lumber office and the main pipelines of Baguio’s water supply —and it did not go
off either. What kind of a war were these Japs going to fight with bombs that did not even explode?
Well, back at the house we were a mess—the concussions had blown the dust out of the cracks in the floors, out of the cracks in the wood-paneled walls, the soot down out of the fireplace chimneys. Dishes and trinkets had been shook all over. The servants said it was worse than any typhoon or earthquake we had ever had.
Our formerly well-kept household remained in this mess, while I
packed a suitcase full of clothes for each of the two kids and for myself thinking that we would be evacuated to the States. Also a Suitcase for E.W. containing new khaki pants and shirts, and a pair of new heavy work shoes—thinking that he would go to the hills with his Igorotes. These were kept out under a pine tree—just in case the house got hit with a bomb and burned up—leaving us nothing, before we ever got started going anywhere. The servants were busy packing all their stuff to get going anywhere.
E.W. out at the machine shop seven kilometers from town had not known about the bombing until the office telephoned him. He came tearing home, and seeing all the close calls at the lumberyard, ordered the women and children to evacuate the machine shop. Lumber trucks hurriedly took them out there between rapid deliveries of lumber all over town; as everybody (including ourselves) was beginning an air shelter.
The radio managed to inform us that war news was supposed to be
broadcast every hour on the hour, but we kept the thing going all the time, not wanting to miss the least grain of news, as the Japs had the air jammed to such an extent that little was intelligible. We heard with great consternation that Davao had been bombed, also Clark Field. What was the world coming to? There were air raid alarms when we least expected them—all we could do was run out doors and stand up close to a big pine tree. (We had been taught to do that at first aid classes.) Some of our friends came to see what
we were going to do, what we thought. Things were in such a whirl that I doubted if we thought. Then over the radio would be Don Bell’s assuring voice that things were going as expected and that all would be under control soon. Bless him for those words, whether he knew he was lying or not. Then I was asked if I could not begin teaching a first aid class the next day, one that had been scheduled to begin after the holidays. This sudden change of plans entailed a lot more telephoning.
My hurriedly scratched diary says, ”Three first aid kits had been
packed ages ago; got all extra first aid stuff in two Gladstone bags, put some in my car, some in E.W.’s—cars never in garage under house—always out under tree; packed best pictures, flat sterling, Venus de Milo with wool sweaters in suitcase put under a tree. Packed two small bed rolls, with one big mosquito net—all this out of the house, in case it should be hit by the next bombs. Kids still at Brent; decided to send them to lumber camp up Mt. Trail 67 kilometers. Mr. and Mrs. Kluge will take excellent care of them—bombs surely won’t fall in the forest wilderness. Hear planes and
sirens, do not know if enemy or not. And do not even know the “all clear” from the warning signal. Radio says Aparri bombed. Servants trying to pack their belongings in too small space. Vigan reported bombed. Kids come bounding home from school before noon hour—running over with excitement and what they had heard on way home from school: John Hay Hospital bombed to pieces, Officers Mess direct hits, Radio station direct hit, nine soldiers killed outright, many others wounded. Mr. Bate, neighbor a few hundred feet away, beheaded by a piece of shrapnel; others in neighborhood wounded severely.
Mr. Muller’s legs cut off with shrapnel —died later. Oh, God, is this
the year of our Lord 1941? Is this Baguio? And me packing sterling silver. Vigan bombed; Jap aircraft carrier reported sunk off Hawaii—well, that is what we expected. Packed two boxes canned foods, case milk, big sack flour, half case Ivory soap etc. for the kids to take to Kluges. Rita, number one servant, to go with them in station wagon. God, how I appreciate their going to Mrs. Kluge—they can’t stay here until the air shelter is deeper. Four other American families also gone there for safety. Then I concentrated on first aid course—all afternoon reorganized whole thing—most important things first—about a hundred telephone calls, air alarms.
Other three servants persuaded they could never get to their homes in Abra (already the roads and bridges in the lowlands have been bombed.) they went with others to machine shop for safety. Supper on kitchen table, fried hamburgers, and almost forgot to feed Foxy. How he hates those Jap planes —barks at them every time. Two houses behind us blown to pieces by bombs. Total blackout 6 to 6. A practice one not like the long reality. Cut out 48 Christmas kites and strings for Mrs. Sayre. Actually slept soundly after 1:00 a.m.