10 November 1944

We’ ve had a few busy days getting ourselves installed. I’ve had a good look at our home, the Catholic Institute. It is situated in the Veteranos de la Revolucion Road. It is a big two storey frame building, bare & shabby but clean. The church adjoins it— flat galvanised iron on the outside and dark wooden panelling inside. There is a solid-looking wooden altar, of dignified and simple design. The whole effect is sombre & Spanish. This is enhanced by the women & girls of the congregation, who cover their heads with black shawls. The church has a fine tiled floor, but the air in its vast interior is stale. In fact the uncharitable might say it stinks.*

Went to army H.Q. and asked Col. R. how the battle was going. “We’ve got a big fight on our hands,” he said. “The Japs are bringing in a hell of a lot of troops.” They have landed three fresh divisions at Ormoc, 35 air miles from Tacloban, in the past week. The general opinion at N.G. seems to be “We’ve got to fight ‘em somewhere, so we might as well fight “em here. The more we kill here, the less we’ll have to kill some place else.”

The Nips were fairly quiet over our area last night. There were several alerts, and some bombing in the distance—probably at the airstrip. We had been warned to expect a heavy raid on Tacloban, but didn’t get it. I hope the little swine keep away from the town, both because I hate to think of these nice (?) folk getting bombed, & also because this building is a good military target.

Watkins’ parrot has left him. It lept from its perch & made off by night. “Incompatibility, no doubt,” says Bickel.

We have re-erected our tents, & strengthened them in case of future typhoons. (The last was a 100 — m.p.h. wind, by the way). We have a 50 gallon drum on a framework outside the tent, and the water flows down into a porcelain hand basin, complete with taps. It was Anderson’s idea. Having been evicted from our previous house by a posse of generals, we stole the basin in revenge.

*(Closed during Jap reign. Later aired.)

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