Yesterday was wonderful, both wonderful and sad. The Americans are here, but it seems it is not yet over. The battle in the center of town is raging—the walled city is in ruins, and the dead are beyond counting. The Japanese are fighting like animals, desperate animals. The whine of shells from towards town is hideous and the bullets of the snipers make life still alarming for us, even though the paratroopers are here around us, There’s a huge gun up near F. B. Harrison’s and our boys can’t seem to locate it.
John Cook was killed the night of the 10th just as the Americans were coming in. The servants’ quarters were burning, and while looking out the gate to see if it was safe to run, he was shot by a Japanese sniper in a
tree. Ten minutes earlier … or later… but he had to choose the wrong moment! Poor old John, so kind and so cautious, and always so ready to lend a hand to anyone in trouble. They buried him in the garden where he fell. The paratroopers helped the next morning when he was brought in.
A Russian nearby protested against the Japanese abusing his wife. They tied his hands, tore out his tongue, and soaked him with oil, set fire to him and threw him in a dry well. They seem to be fiends!
One of our friends, a Swede who lived not very far down Taft Avenue with his wife and two daughters, is very seriously injured. It seems he speaks Japanese— had represented his company in Japan for years and got caught in Manila at the outbreak of the war. He tried to remonstrate with the Japanese who were shooting everyone about them as they ran from the houses. So a Japanese officer shot him five times, and left him lying in the streets. The battle raged all around him for hours, but he was finally rescued by Filipinos. His family was safe in the fields nearby. He may live.
The young Pole came to see us today to tell us the sad news that our young Swiss friend, whom we all liked so much, was pinned by a bayonet to the door of his own house which the Japs were firing.
The friends, many of them, who had moved from our neighborhood because “it was dangerous,” are missing. There is little hope that they are alive—those who went to live near Rizal Stadium—for there was a horrible battle near there.
The shelling was heavy last night and continues so today. The north and south troops are supposed to have joined, but we have no evidence of that.
There is no news of anything south of Vita Cruz, the dividing line of Pasay and Manila. The Mabini and Ermita districts are burning. The smoke is terrific. we can only hope that our own people have escaped with their lives.
We heard today that General MacArthur had made a speech in Santo Tomas today, during an artillery battle. We also heard that the shelling of Santo Tomas had killed and injured nearly a hundred internees. The internees are being well fed by the Army and the morale is high.
I took a little tour today to see how the neighborhood was faring. My old Belgians are all right, and everyone
in the Del Pan compound, except Audrey’s mother who died as the paratroopers were coming in. She was very old, and we had so hoped she could live to see the troops. Audrey said she had been in a coma for several days, but opened her eyes, saw the first paratrooper in the house and said: “Is that you, Harry?” (her son, who is a prisoner in Japanese hands) and died. John lived over there, too.
Several houses along Park Avenue are all right. Cush’s is in pretty good shape. The elder Mrs. Elizalde is living there—her own house near Vita Cruz was burned, and she took refuge in a dry swimming pool for days, until she was rescued by our troops, along with her little Pekingese dogs. She is quite elderly but had walked several kilometers from the line of fire, and is doing all right in Cush’s house. The furniture has been looted, but it is a shelter, anyhow. Hundreds of Fillpinos and white people are fleeing from town. The market is burned and there is no shelter. It is a dreadful sight to see them, bewildered, wandering about with only a few bits of belongings with them, or pushing things on handcarts.
There is quite a band of Makapili (pro-Japanese Filipinos, of which there are quite a number) and Japanese in the neighborhood. They are sniping at people. I took some food to the injured Swede today, and a bullet just missed my head as I was skirting a wall.
Some of the captured Japanese have admitted to the Filipino guerrillas that they had been left behind with express orders to kill all white people by any and all means, and to destroy all property.
One story we heard was that the Germans had all taken refuge in the German Club, together with a good many Filipinos and white people who lived in that neighborhood, and that the Japanese had closed the club air-raid shelter—which was a very good one—poured gasoline in, and fired it, shooting all those who tried to emerge. We are not sure this is true.