It is 2:00 p.m. I am in a quandary as I sit here in our apartment. In my purse a four by six inch card bears the inscription: “Sternberg General Hospital , Manila, P. I. The bearer, whose signature appears hereon, is a member of the Medical Corps of the U.S. Army and is a non-combatant left for the care of the sick and wounded only: Maude Denson Williams, nurse.
(signed) P. J. Carroll,
Colonel, Medical Corps, U. S. Army”
Colonel Carroll has left on a mercy ship for Australia. Most of the Army has gone to Bataan or Corregidor: only a remnant is in Manila. I realize that momentarily the Japanese are ready to occupy Manila. I cannot decide what I want to do. Shall I stay at the hospital with a group of civilian nurses and a handful of patients who do not require nursing care, or stay in the apartment all alone with the comforts of home? This morning the hospital was a ghost of its former self. Now that there has been a complete lull in the activities Sternberg is a picture of apathy, gloom, and depression. Since December 8, we have worked like demons. I have seen so many mutilated bodies that I have begun to question my sanity. At times these gruesome sights seem like a horrible nightmare instead of an actuality. Except for short broken intervals, I have not been abie to sleep the past few nights. I have awakened from dreams that the Japanese are at hand; as in China and Japan, I could see them in their ill-fitting uniforms their bow legs more accentuated than ever and their characteristic sluggardly, shuffling advance. Ever so often I add another blanket to the numerous collection and try to sleep again. I think I have “war nerves”.
December 30, 1 P.M. Mariveles. Here I am in Mariveles. This afternoon my apprehension was relieved when a soldier arrived from Mariveles with a note. He came on a truck for supplies. Bill had sent for me ! We quickly packed food supplies and camping equipment into a car. The soldier said, “You must hurry for this is a two hour drive. We must arrive before dark, for the mountainous road is dusty, and driving is difficult. The road was bombed and straffed yesterday; there may be more bombing and straffing this afternoon.” Bill thinks the Japs will be in Manila on New Years Day and will be six weeks before we can retake it. He doesn’t want me in Manila at that time. Thank God I’ve escaped the devils.
Before I left I called Johnny Lapham who decided to send Marion and the children with me. They are anxious to get out of Manila too.
The drive was a gorgeous one; all nature seemed to smile on the green woods and the turf. Sunlight rained its gold on the earth, which sent up rich, spicy smells, and the light wind flowing out of the east whispered about stirring things. Occasionally we heard the drone of an airplane. At these times my heart went through all sorts of gymastics; my throat was as dry as a powder house; and I definitely went on a word strike, for fright seems to paralyze my vocal chords.
The soldier seemed almost a superman; he showed no Signs of fright or anxiety nor did he slow up for traffic or winding curves. frequently, over the deep embankment, we could see a car or truck turned turtle. I would glance at the soldier to see if he was aware of our probable fate. He ignored me and drove on like mad.
We arrived here in Mariveles just at twilight with no bombing or straffing, scared but safe, thank God! I am happy to be here with Bill, but we must move on tomorrow, because he said, “You can’t stay here; you’ll be in the way of the Army. Tomorrow you must find a native hut and stay there until other plans can be made. We had a terrific bombing today; Mariveles was razed to the ground”.
I’m writing this as I sit inside a small pup tent of my own. A kerosene lantern is burning brightly overhead. We shall sleep on a dog pallet tonight and tomorrow we have to make ourselves a home somewhere else.