Breakfast — thick lugao made of rice and rice flour and a small ladle of coco milk. Made hot water and made soup of coco milk, lugao, and salt. Had something hot although it was not so good. The camp is about out of salt. They never put any in the mush and I have just enough for tomorrow morning.
A flight of our big planes came over this morning and I saw a sad but also terrible and awe inspiring sight. One of the planes was hit and soon caught fire. One man bailed out at once and drifted down through a screen of anti-aircraft fire. The plane left the flight and fell in pieces over near the San Juan river, either on the Santa Mesa or Mandaluyong side. Big fires where it fell. The air was full of burning pieces. Saw what appeared to be three parachutes on fire. Pretty tough on the boys. The crew of those planes are from 9 to 12 men. Well, such things must be but I don’t like to see our boys get it like that.
There are three landings on Luzon today, San Fernando, La Union, Nasugbu, and on the Tayabas side.
We were waked very early this morning, long before daybreak, and marched about a quarter of a mile to a pier where we were forced to jump about 20 feet into Jap Landing Boats which were riding heavy swells in Lingayen Gulf. We were then taken and placed on a Japanese transport, about 1000 men on 1 ship*, whose name I have not been able to ascertain, and about 250 on another. We were in the center hold, half of us on the upper deck of the hold and the remainder in the lower hold. It wasn’t too crowded and as the hatch is very large the air is not too bad. Unfortunately, the upper deck on which my detail has been placed was used for the transportation of horses and the Japanese in their usual custom didn’t bother or would not allow us to remove any of the refuse which remained in this vessel’s hold, after evidently a long trip. The flies are terrible. I will say, that shortly after we came aboard, we were fed probably the best food we have had since we left Cabanatuan. Although the quantity is quite small, it is well cooked and seasoned. About 4 ounces of tea or soup is all of the liquid we are allowed. We were fed again late in the afternoon immediately after the vessels got under way.
[The document containing the entries from December 13, 1944 continues further until April 30, 1945, but the Philippine portion concludes with this entry]
At about 4:00 AM we were awakened and an issue of rice balls was made. Of the entire detail, I imagine that about only about 800 men received any food at all. The remainder just didn’t get any, as there wasn’t enough to go around. The Japanese allowed us to bathe in the ocean which was taken advantage of by all concerned. This afternoon, after lying in the boiling sun all day, we were given a small amount of water. Everyone is so thirsty that what little water is given is immediately consumed. What little has been in my canteen is always long gone to some man with fever before any additional is issued. It is pitiful to see a man in this heat with a high fever without water.
We have been reunited with the remainder of the group which we now find was in Cine Building in San Fernando. Yesterday morning we were led up in the prison court yard and marched in a column of fours after having received a meager meal at the railroad station in San Fernando. Our boys certainly gave this place a working over. The railway yard is in shambles and many disabled cars and locomotives are in evidence. About noon we were placed on board steel freight cars. One hundred ninety three men were placed in each car. As this is a small narrow gauge railroad, there was not room for all of the men to be seated at one time. Our sick and wounded were placed on top of the cars in the boiling midday heat and lashed there to keep them from failing off with ropes. The Japs insisted that they would be more comfortable, but I feel it is also in an attempt to prevent the train being bombed or strafed by our men. We should be very thankful for them. For had it not been for the many bullet holes in the car, surely more of our men would have died from suffocation during the awful trip to San Fernando, La Union. Of course, there was no food or water and several times when the train stopped and the Philippines made an effort to give us food or water, they were chased away by the Japanese guard. After being on the train from about noon on the 24th until 2:00 AM this morning, we were unloaded on the station platform at San Fernando, La Union where we were allowed to remain until daybreak. We were then marched through the town of San Fernando out on the outskirts to a small Philippine school house where we were fed one rice ball in the morning and one just before dark. We were issued about one fourth of a canteen cup of water per man, and after being what we supposed settled down for the night, we were gotten up after dark and marched about three and one half or four miles to the beach where we are to sleep.
*In the source material online, written as “23 December,” but appearing between entries for 23 and 25 December; the Philippine Diary Project assumes this is a simple typographical error and uses the date 24 December for this entry accordingly.
The Japanese have lived up to their policy that we will receive cooked rice. In the last two days we have received in addition to about a canteen cup of rice twice a day a few comoties [camotes] and enough dried fish so that each one of our men received a portion about as large as a 50 cent piece. We are fortunate that there is plenty of water here and although the Japanese prohibit bathing, I find that at night many of our men including myself, have been able to take a bath. We are still suffering from the effects of our mistreatment aboard the first transport. Many of the tropical ulcers which were induced by the terrific heat and foul air have became infected. We have little or no bandage, the same goes for medication to cure these ill looking ulcers. There are rumors of movement in the air.
We have now been on the tennis court for five days, during this period we have been issued three level mess spoons of uncooked rice per day. Some salvage Japanese under clothing was finally brought and our men most in need received either some old under-drawers or the Japanese cotton issue shirt.
At about 12:00 o’clock, orders were received for one-half of the group to march out of the tennis court. Babcock, who had been with me and also Bill North were both in this detail. We were placed on trucks, about 30 men to each truck and moved directly to San Fernando in the province of Panpango [Pampanga], where we were placed in the Provincial Prison court yard. This had a gravel area surrounded by high concrete walls containing a few solitary cells. We were fed that day, cooked rice for the first time since the 14th of December. Our sickest and most severely wounded were segregated into one of the cell blocks. We tried to make them as comfortable as possible. Our Medical Officers were given one box of Red Cross medical supplies, which gave us a very meager supply of the barest essential needed for the care of our wounded. We had no medication for the treatment of diarrhea and dysentery which was very current. As the Senior Officer present I assumed command of these men. Englehart acted as my interpreter. I protested through Englehart to the Senior Japanese officer present, a corporal, that our men needed above all food, particularly something more than plain rice. I also requested that I get in touch with the Philippine Relief Agency in town with an effort to get our men some sandals for the barefooted and some clothing for the naked.
Santa Cruz and San Fernando. We sank 1 DD or DE, damaged others. All 7 ships in this convoy were sunk by our Task Group. Our ship was hit by a Japanese suicide plane. Did not halt operations.