10 February 1945

10 Feb – At 3d Shipping Headquarters. [Intramuros]

0130 – 2d Lt Ainouchi came from Detachment Headquarters and requested me to emplace one field gun; we decided to put the Observation Post on top of the building and emplaced the gun on the third floor.

0500 –   2d Lt Ainouchi and army personnel came from Detachment Headquarters and by using Chinese coolies carried the gun up to the second floor. Later, the Platoon Leader and 6 men came to help and, with their cooperation, we carried the gun up to the Northeast corner of the third floor. Finished about 0700.

0830 –   Commenced firing. Target – Santo Tomas University. The aiming point is the uppermost right stone pillar on the Taiwan Transport Corporation Building. Distance – 3400 [Possibly meters]. 2d Lt AINOUCHI and I went up to the Observation Post. Commenced firing. First round burst 5 mils to the left of the building. Aimed to the right and fired two rounds. They hit to the right and at the base of the building. White smoke is seen. Thereafter we fired fifty to sixty rounds continuously; fell in the vicinity of the target. I believe that the mission has been accomplished. [Note 3.4 km from UST places this in the port area – maybe the Customs building]

1000 – Until 1000 the enemy did not fire. An enemy plane is flying over and appears that it is making an observation of our  positions; at times it strafes.

About this time one enemy shell landed on the center of this tower, and shrapnel fell. Approximately one minute thereafter 2 more rounds landed. Our forces continued their fire.

Ten minutes after the first round, four rounds in succession fell
(It appears that it is a Battery of 4 guns, and its position may be in the vicinity of San Lazaro Race Track, just as it was yesterday.) Four more rounds followed and hit the pillar. One of these fell in the vicinity of our  position. Before the first enemy round landed, I encouraged the gunners, asked them to oil the muzzle of the gun, and went down to my quarters.

Rounds expended – 52
Firing time – 0830 to 1015
Target – Santo Tomas University.

February 4, 1945

The advance troops of the liberators entered Manila last night after thirty-seven long months since the remaining troops of the USAFFE retreated to Bataan. We cannot tell how many districts of Manila are already liberated. News dispatches are a little confused. All we are sure of is that the first place recaptured is the University of Santo Tomas with all its residents, priests and internees. We were told that the rest of the city had been turned into a battlefield, won not amidst psalms and cheers but amidst firings and shellings “…that this city and all its people might be protected…”

The conquest of the Central Plain of Luzon was a successful one. The 210 kilometers between the Gulf of Lingayen and the City of Manila were negotiated in 27 hours instead of 27 days. Except in Bamban and Stotsenberg where the enemy had attacked from the nearby hills, the Yankee war machinery rolled through the wide open fields without opposition.

The enemy had lost the battle of Luzon when it allowed the gigantic invading equipment to land unopposed. In the open fields, the Japanese could not put up a fight. They preferred to retreat in disarray, dispersed like scared rabbits as the mechanized columns of the invaders rolled by. Yamashita’s strategy was to convert the mountain ranges of Caraballo and Zambales into another Bataan, in the manner of MacArthur’s defense three years ago. The Imperial Army was entrenched in the rugged mountains without roads and almost without any footpaths, turning each mountain into a fortress, each hill into a machinegun nest and each cliff into a trench. They dug a complex of tunnels of communications through the mountain where they hid and installed their artillery. They fired from the mouths of the tunnel to avoid being localized by the American Air Force and artillery. The Americans had to destroy these subterranean hideouts one by one. Not only did they blow up these artillery nests. They chased those who manned the guns and flushed the others out of the caves and tunnels who defended themselves like corralled beasts.

Under this mode of defense, it was not necessary to launch big battles nor heavy attacks nor fighting on a grand scale, nor mechanized campaigns. It was a work of mopping up, a fight of a group of hunters against a group of game animals. The air force, the tanks and armoured cars were hardly of any use. Only the rifles, flame throwers and hand grenades were effectively utilized. It was a slow, tedious, lousy and bloody fight.

February 3, 1945 — LIBERATION DAY

A never-to-be forgotten day for the internees and prisoners of Santo Tomas and Bilibid Prison (old).

It was about 5:30 p.m. when we heard repeated and long bursts of heavy caliber machine gun fire along the North road. There was a deep rumble which sounded like airplanes but as there were no planes in sight, it boiled down to — tanks. Very soon the sound drew nearer and the machine gun fire hotter together with heavy tank guns 2.8″, I believe the caliber is. The boys were meeting with a little Jap resistance; but they soon overcame the weak and surprised opposition of the mighty Imperial Japanese Army and drove on to Bilibid and the Far Eastern University. There at the F.E.U., our boys had quite a fight. Some were killed and quite a number wounded. But they blasted the place all to hell, set fire to it and came on about their business.

At nine o’clock, it was very dark — the moon came about midnight; one big thirty ton tank drove into the front gate and another came through the Seminary road and just took the gate with it. The Japs were caught napping and a bunch of them ran into their quarters in the Education Building.

One Jap car came up the center road and almost ran into the tank. The Yanks made short work of them.

February 3, 1945

Well, looks like the Japs are getting ready to evacuate Manila and suburbs. Lots of fires early this morning — they are destroying supplies and from the looks of things, burning up half of the country in doing it.

Oh yes, they have been throwing bones, etc. on the ground and in garbage cans whenever they butchered. Yesterday they gave the bones to the kitchen.. By the way, the carabao they killed yesterday and day before both belonged to an American here in camp and were brought into camp to pull the plows. Well, we got the bones. Nice little fellows, eh ?

No wood in camp. Still burning up furniture and what not. Soon be the beds.

February 2, 1945

[Separate sheet of paper dated]

Febr. 2nd (1945)

1st Friday and Communion – A spiritual happiness & joy which gives strength far beyond mere physical strength – Hope and charity –

There are reports – fairly reliable – of landings at Nasugbu Batangas 2 days ago and at Subic Bay 3 days ago – Nasugbu is to the South on the West Coast – Subic to the North on the West coast – the Subic landing aims at the capture of Olongapo, the naval repair

[separate sheet dated]

Feb 2nd (con)

base, the cutting of the communication of the Japanese forces resisting our advance over the mountains from the Zainbiales Coast, and our advance from Olongapo over the mountains to the East to cut the Japanese retreat into Bataan– The Musugbu landing will aim, of course, at the Cavite naval base, at cutting off a possible Japanese retreat to Teinate & Maic (?) & this evacuation to Bataan– And incidentally, after passing the Tagaytay ridge, will turn towards Manila.

Again these landings to the North & South of Manila Bay, the terrific bombings of Corregidor,

[Separate sheet dated]

Feb 2 (con)

Cavite Naval base, Fraile Island may be the prelude to an advance by task force into Manila Bay – the mines will have to be cleared and there are many wrecks in the harbor –

Gradually, the Japanese are being forced to decide what to do in the South – In a short time, any troops they have there will not be able to join the Northern forces –

 

Skewtch from the last entry in Holland's journal.
Sketch from the last entry in Holland’s journal.

[The diary ends here]

 

February 2, 1945

There has been plenty of activity around here lately — both day and night. Well the boys are getting closer all the time. But our food is getting less every day and right now it is a toss up who gets here first — the troops with some food or the buzzards.

The Japs are eating good; they bring cows and pigs into camp. Our men take care of them and then kill the beef for the Japs. Day before yesterday, they had a big fat hog. Yesterday they killed a carabao. They are selling rice, soy beans, and sugar. They will not take anything but P.I. money as that is the only money that they can buy anything with outside. Yesterday, rice was ₱130.00 a kilo and sugar got down as low as ₱80.00 They had to get the money quick. I have tried to get some money to spend but the sharks want the equivalent of your heart’s blood.

Men are dying from starvation every day and day before yesterday, the Japs put two of our doctors in jail because they refused to change the death certificates from starvation to heart trouble, or some other ailment. Over 3/4 of the people in camp are starving. There are some who have a few cans of food left but even they no longer have enough to eat.

Imagine, if you can, American men, women and children picking food out of the garbage cans and off of the ground — if they can find any.

January 28, 1945

[Separate sheet dated]

Jan. 28th

Tho’ I am weak today, I feel rested and completely peaceful -I went to Confession last night & to Communion this morning – I saw Jose Ossario and know that if I die Dorita & the children will be sent back by the 1st boat and will be taken care of – It is a good thing to get these arrangements finished – So many now are beginning to collapse and die within 24 hours –

But while this may sound depressing, I am not depressed – In fact, my hopes are high, the news is good – And soon we shall see each other again – And all of this will be a nightmare, gone, dissolved, only remembered on stormy nights when one feels lost and alone – and really despairs.

January 23, 1945

Breakfast, lunch, and supper same as yesterday. The camp is out of wood with the exception of green acacia. They have already burned dining tables and parts of the dining shed and yesterday and today they used benches and chairs from the fourth floor school room to supplement the acacia.

This morning a large chunk of anti-aircraft shell tore a hole through the roof of the Education Building and wounded two men. The later Santo Tomas version is that the shell exploded near the bathroom on the third floor and only one man suffered a very small scratch. Well, that’s Santo Tomas for you.

Quite a bit of bombing around today.

I made a mistake about the chow. Yesterday we had mixed talinum and camote greens. Looked like something the dog left. Mrs. Carter gave me some raw talinum and I mixed it with salt, pepper, mustard, vinegar, chili and garlic. I bummed everything but the salt. It was hot but tasted fine with the soy beans. We didn’t get such a generous helping of the beans tonight and they were not cooked enough. That is because of the fuel shortage.

My feet are swelling again in spite of the medicine. The Doc says “too much salt”, so I will cut it out for a while and see how things turn out.

Done some sewing today and unraveled some very nice thread from sock tops. Some job I have on the crazy patch work quilt but I will get it done. The work keeps my mind off of other things and helps the time pass away.