6 November 1944

A troubled night. Alerts sounded every hour or two, and at each one the chaps in my tent began to debate whether it was worthwhile getting out of bed and into the (?) trenches. Some went and some stayed, & there was much stumbling around and cursing in the dark. Only once did we hear planes, and a couple of times we heard bombs bursting in the distance, but that was all. I stayed in bed.

Drove into Tacloban this afternoon, to join the PWB outfit. The road was so dusty that by contrast the Hollandia atmosphere seemed (?) clear. All along the road, Filipinos were mending their huts, shattered in the bombardment. The damage to the tiny, ramshackle huts dwellings was a more pathetic sight than the ruins of more substantial buildings, some were smashed completely and bomb blasts had pushed others into drunken attitudes.

The Filipinos look very nice people. Their houses are poor and bare inside, and the general appearance of Tacloban suggests that paint rationing was stringent during the Jap occupation. The people themselves, however, look clean and bright. Many of the young girls are lovely in gay flowered dresses. These are probably as cheap as can be, but they fit well on the fresh, youthful figures. They walk barefooted, and their brown legs are shapely. Their hair is glossy black, sometimes straight, sometimes with a crimp, and sometimes even with a wave. They have pleasant, snub Asiatic faces.

Found OWI boys ensconced in a two-storeyed frame house in the centre of the town. Backmeyer was working with three girl clerks, all pretty. Being filthy, I wanted to take a bath. As I had to pass the girls when going from my quarters to the shower-house, I put on my pyjamas, so as not to jar their Oriental modesty. I was well enough
covered, but they giggled (?) when I appeared.

The open-air shower place was built by the Japs. The shower hangs so low that I have to stoop to get under it. I suppose it suited the dwarfish little blighters.

The house is full of shrapnel holes, and the woodwork of floors, walls and ceilings is scarred with splinter slashes. A bomb burst just across the road some time ago and killed several people, including five O.S. war correspondents.

A Filipino major came to look at the house this afternoon. He said it was his own home, and he hadn’t seen it for two years. He had been fighting in the hills with the guerillas. His name is Fernandes, a spare, neat man.

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