Helluva trip. Thought it was the end of the courier boat, passengers and –me.
I was telling an American officer who was on deck that it was a very lovely afternoon. The sun was beginning to set and the sea was very calm. If you could manage to forget the men in the front in Bataan and the fellows in the batteries of Corregidor, you could get the feeling that it was a pleasure cruise over Manila Bay.
Then the captain suddenly shouted an order which I did not hear. The boat stopped. I began to wonder because we were already very near the Rock. The streets girding the side of the fortress could be seen clearly from our distance.
The captain was silent and he was looking at the sky. Somebody muttered “planes”. In a while, we could hear the metallic desynchronized engine of Jap bombers.
The nurses on deck started to lie flat. Others sat between iron bars. The American officer and I stood beside the railing not knowing whether to jump into the shark-infested water or to take a chance on the poor bombing of the Japs. Then the captain ordered lifebelts. I began to pray.
Then bombs started to fall on the water around us. The water would sprout up like a geyser and part of the deck would be wet. We zigzagged all around the Bay, sometimes going towards Bataan, then to Cavite, then to Pampanga, then to Corregidor. It was dark when the bombers left. We could see their plane-lights like little stars among the clouds. Nobody jumped in the water. The officers in the boat were nervous but they kept their nerves under control.
It was a relief when we got near the docks of the Rock. Never was I so happy. When I walked down the gangplank, the American officer remarked:
“Quite a pleasure cruise, lieutenant!”