February 10, 1945

This must be the 10th. If so, it’s Saturday. This has been a twenty-four hours without parallel. There was a real battle just beyond our wall between guerrillas and Japanese. A small child was killed by stray bullets. The guerillas succeeded in chasing the Japanese elsewhere, but we don’t know for sure how it all turned out.

The arson squad was out to a finish last night. The Nipa huts right back of us were burned down, and one huge Filipino home on Taft, very near us is still burning. It is believed to be full of loot, so maybe there is poetic justice. The Seventh Day Adventist missionary compound seems to be burning. Judging from our own experience, the Japanese are using kerosene and gasoline to fire the houses. They have thrown several faggots of fire over our wall but the cement has checked it, and we have been able to put them out. Our servants’ quarters have a wood roof and it has been on fire a couple of times, but Janson has been able to put it out each time.

Last evening when it looked as though we were doomed, we moved our more precious personal belongings—papers, some clothing, a little bedding—out into the garden. We left the children in the shelter, for the shelling was terrific. Felie was nearly helpless, because of her shrapnel wound, and we kept her in the shelter. None of us slept. We drank coffee laced with rum to keep up our courage and keep warm. Tropic nights get chilly this time of year.

Today has been plain hell. No, maybe fancy! My knees are somewhat like a Jello pudding that hasn’t set. All day long they have been shelling this neighborhood. I think they are looking at the wrong map, but we have no way of letting them know. Talk about “Janson’s Last Stand.” This is it. We have all made our wills (several times over, mentally). We don’t dare say what we are all thinking. It’s the end. We loaded the tricycle with food and got out our two bicycles. If 1t comes to the house going, we’ll try to run for it, carrying the children by turns, and pushing the loaded bikes and tricycles. I am afraid we won’t get far.

The kids are full of excitement, but do not seem too frightened. The servants are exhausted, they worked all night moving stuff out of the house into the garden. They have been splendid. I am doubling as cook and Gunga Din, so that they may rest a little.

It was a relief, a splendid relief, this morning, to have the blazing walls of the big looter’s house fall away from
our direction. Our Japanese neighbor keeps putting out fires the soldiers start in the houses next to him. It was sort of amusing to see the fleeing soldiers lay a few sticks soaked with gasoline or oil near a house and continue running. Then the Jap civilian would emerge and put the fire out. And then it would happen all over again!

The soldiers have tried to dynamite one big house near us, but the fuse did not blow. It is burning now.

This day is endless. My mental functionings, martially speaking, leave me unable to distinguish between Japanese gunfire, American gunfire, shells, bombs, 22’s, soixante-quinzes, or demolition explosions. I can distinguish a real rifle bullet if it is near enough to me. Had plenty of lessons today!

We ate well tonight: baked beans, rice seasoned with pepperpot soup, tinned applesauce. We have hoarded our tins so long I nearly cut my finger off with the can opener, I’m so completely out of practice. Probably won’t be able to claim this is a shrapnel or bullet wound, either. But it hurts.

In old-fashioned novels and diaries, the functionings of the human body were never mentioned but maybe
these modern days will permit me to mention, once more, that the bathroom situation is almost more horrible than the shelling, even when the shelling seems to have moved into our front garden.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin