December 31, 1941

The demilitarization of Manila had been completed now that General Francisco, chief of the Philippine Constabulary, had left with his staff.

On the front, General MacArthur narrowly escaped being struck by a bomb.

The scorched-earth policy was carried out by our retreating army, and American demolition squads had been working for days, blowing up bridges, barges, and burning oil. They mined strategic areas in the north and south to delay the advancing enemy. Henry had been out all day to help set fire to several million dollars’ worth of oil.

There had been ear-shattering explosions since six o’clock tonight, and as we watched the heavy black smoke to the north and south, we knew that the Japs wouldn’t find any oil. Henry, though extremely jumpy, wore a satisfied grin on his face. We watched the awe-inspiring conflagration. Mountainous pillars of hungry flames licked the sky, and thick black smoke spread over the entire city.

We spent New Year’s Eve sitting around the attractive second-floor terrace of Belle’s apartment. Though drinks were passed and toasts were made, no one tried to be gay.

Someone a little bolder than the rest suddenly asked, “How soon do the Japs reach the city?”

We were relieved that at last the terror had been brought into the open.

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