It was my 8th-grade history teacher, Mr. Danhausen, who started me on my life-long obsession with World War II.
It was my friend, Anthony Garrett, who provided me with a copy of his grandfather's journal.

Elwood Llewellin Garrett was an American businessman in Manila at the time of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
This is his story, as he recorded it, of living under Japanese rule in an enemy-occupied foreign land.

June 11, 1942

More than a week has again slipped by, during which time I have been busy as the proverbial cat, building a new shanty to survive the rainy season. This "dump" is one heluva mess now. Everything sloppy mud and one is never dry. The hospital is full and over-flowing with sick cases and this is only the beginning of things to come. I have been in perfect health, never felt better in my life but it seems a lot of people enjoy being sick for some reason or other. I believe keeping busy goes a long ways toward keeping well -- no time to bemoan our fate. What ever it might turn out to be.

The rumor market is again alive and active with a big navy battle having been concluded at Midway Island with a decisive victory in our favor, to the tune of five Jap airplane carriers and thirteen other navy ships besides miscellaneous merchant marine troop ships. There is also reported a battle going on near the Alutian Islands, which brings the Japs very close to the United States proper. We hear that fourteen Jap ships have been sunk there so far and the battle is still going on. I wonder what you all there at S.F. think of this war. I am hoping the War Department is wide awake by now or you are liable to be eating suki-yaki for the rest of your days and right in San Francisco too.

And speaking about eats, the food situation is getting worse day by day. We still have wheat for breakfast which is not bad if you can get all the bugs and worms out of it. I am not exaggerating when I say that each spoon full yields at least one of each of the above described foreigners. That is just the ones that float to the top; God only know how many are below the surface that we have now learned to eat without even batting an eye. The South Sea Island cannibals have nothing on us. For tonights chow we had a weed called pechay, full of sand, and a duck egg (hard boiled). Every other egg was rotten and the tea weak as skimmed milk and luke warm. No bread -- no nothing. You may possibly have heard of how well we are being taken care of in here, so you can judge for yourself from the above. This is a starvation diet if I ever had one. Fortunately for us we are still having a noon time snack to keep us "perking."

In-be-tween working around camp etc; I have listened to all sorts of stories from various people who have only recently come into camp after hiding out in the hills for three, four and five months.

Many stories are told of officers and troops (U.S.A.) so completely demoralized and scared stiff (or "yellow") lost out in the hills and not having the slightest idea what they were going to do next, that it was pitiful. Apparently the greater part of the Filipino army disbanded upon the capitulation and went back to civilian life, losing all military status. (Which, under conditions, was the only smart thing to do.) There was a story of a Colonel in the 91st Infantry, who had gone completely "nuts" under the pressure along with the Commander of the Cavite Navy yard and several others in high command, so it is no wonder that we made such a poor showing. The "white-livered bums" should have never been in the service.

There are numerous stories of troops having been so completely disorganized that they even lost their kitchen and food supply then raided or looted the poor natives of everything they had under the threat of being shot if they resisted. It is reported that there were thousands of such cases all over the islands where ever our troops were still running wild.

We further hear that in our troop concentration camps, malaria and dysentery are raging rampant and it is estimated that four hundred are dieing every week. They put in a call for volunteers to go up to the camps to nurse the sick men but something must have gone "haywire" for a bunch of us signed up and have not yet been called. I doubt if we could do much good as there is absolutely no quinine in the islands and that is apparently the main requisite. These islands are one hell of a mess if I ever know of one. Aspirin are selling for twenty five cents per tablet and are damned scarce.

June 3, 1942

The Japs held a mammoth parade today to celebrate the fall of Bataan and Corregidor. Planes have been flying around all morning and a whole division of tanks have just gone by the camp. It is reported that there are a number of transports in Manila Bay and that this parade is the termination of the troops stay in the Philippines as they are shipping them out, either to Australia or China. Reports come in that the Jap soldiers have been raising hell on the outside lately, drinking rapeing and what not, so guess they were having their last fling. We hope! Many civilian Japs have been shipped in here and are operating, or rather, trying to operate all the American busness and factories they have taken over. We learn that they are running our mill. In fact, one of the Japs in charge is connected with a local company with whom we have done a lot of business in the past. Most every damned Jap in this country has turned out to be an Army officer. The more I see and learn of their attack and invasion, the more convinced I am of the stupidity of our own government agencies in permitting all this to have gone on for so long without being checked. In many ways I am glad that this mess has started, for it will surely open the eyes of the public so that they will demand the elimination of the yellow race from the face of the earth for ever, Amen!!

I'm all worked up into a lather today and if I only had a soap box at 3rd and Market streets in good ol' S.F. would I spout off! And particularly our brilliant General McArthur. Oh hell! what's the use.

June 2, 1942

The hot season is over and the rainy season off to a good start. Everyone is now having to rebuild their shanty to make it water proof so the construction business is going strong again and some are putting up real fancy shacks; wood floors and all.

The flag of truce is again flying in our camp and I have gone back to try again. The one that got out of line came around nicely, so had no alternative. The ups and down in concentration camp life are most amusing.

At last night's rumor session the "stuff" came in hot and heavy that our forces had bombed Formosa and Japan. We have had this so often but always hope that it might be true one of these days. So far as we know to date, there has been only one bombing of Japan. It is about six months since this war started and it seems high time we were getting to work somewheres.

The Jap paper states that the U.S. has set June 13th as McArthur [sic] Day. We wonder why! From our limited knowledge we fail to see much of anything he has done except to strategically retreat and not in a very orderly fashion either. There is perhaps a lot we don't know and naturally wonder why he has been set up as a public hero. If and or when I ever get back to civilization, believe me I'm going to shout loud and long.

Joe Reich, the chap that came into camp a few days ago, tells a most interesting story of their escapades during the last five months out in the hills trying to keep away from the Japs. There were originally four of them in their party, all Americans, but only three ended up in camp, one having been killed enroute. His story alone would fill a book so will let it go at that, other than to say that they are most thankful to be in here after facing what they thought was to be sure death, on several occasions.

Another rumor that comes in "hot and heavy" is that Allied forces have been "going to town" in bombing the Ruhr section of Germany, dumping thousands of tons of bombs and killing one hundred and twenty thousand in the raid. The Russians continue their "big push" and are expecting Germany to fold up most any day now.

May 30, 1942 - Memorial Day

Which is no different from any other [day] as far as we are concerned in here. Everything has been exceptionally quiet around here lately; not even any good rumors worth mentioning. It seems we are just existing from day to day and I sometimes wonder why. Got weighed this morning and am still going down; now to 159 pounds, the lowest in many years. While I am not particularly concerned, I'm hoping I don't lose any more or I won't have enough to hold my bones together. They seem to rattle every time I move now.

When we first came into this camp there were eight of us all together in a mess for the noon day meal, to which we all contributed. There was Louise and Howard, Joe and Em, Earnesto, Iberia and George and last but by no means least yours truly. We built ourselves a shanty and this was home for the eight of us up 'till a few days ago when things started to go sour. Howard seems to have aged considerably in camp and guess that is the answer to a lot of things. Then there being three women under the one roof is something else again, none too favorable. At any rate to make a long story short, a young revolution broke out in camp about a week ago resulting in one family moving out. Pure selfishness is the only reason I can see for it all. I don't care for these family squabbles even when I am not concerned however, they do happen in the best of regulated families, so I am told. I hear both sides of the case and guess there is much to be said for both. Any how, they are building their own shanty and that cuts our camp down to five, at this point.

As I have mentioned on several previous occasions, money is very scarce and getting worse all the time, which does not help the nerves either as there are many little necessities that we must go without. It so happens that I was able to borrow a little from a friend inside some time ago, but as he is now broke I had to negotiate a loan from a friend on the outside to pay off. The money originally borrowed was split between all of us to alleviate the situation for a while anyway. Well, I thought I could get in the cash without any one learning about it in our camp but this is a small place and of course, it was discovered, and because I said nothing about it to the rest of the camp, another revolution took place and now I am an orphan. And so it goes, life in a concentration camp. This is a real education, if I ever had one. No foolin!

Two friends of ours, Bert and Joe Reich, came into camp today after hiding out in the hills since the outbreak of war. Have not yet had much time to talk to them as they and every one else in our camp or shanty, kept them busy with all sorts of questions. From what I can gather so far, they have had a most interesting time of it trying to keep out of the way. In normal times, Bert was a wild gal if there ever was one. Have been on many parties with her and believe me you have to travel fast to keep up with her. I'm not exactly a slouch when it comes to lifting 'em over, even if I do say so myself, but I've got to be in rare form when that gal is around. Joe is a rather quiet type except when he has had one too many then he is a maniac, but that is very seldom. They both looked pretty well after their harrowing experiences and seem glad that it is now all behind them and they are in here with friends. They will undoubtedly have many tales to tell which I hope to make note of later on.

Guess I'm going screw-ball or just happen to be in the mood for scribbling today, as I seem to be doing a lot about nothing. John O'Malley a good friend whom I found in camp, is sitting across from me trying to make a Russian Dictionary or some such thing, so I have a little company with my writing today, so maybe that accounts for the extra amount of "bull." Had a gate pass yesterday to talk to a friend on the outside, through whom I hope to raise a little cash, if I'm lucky, so did not have a chance to make any entries here. However, as the rumor market has been very low lately, we havn't missed out on anything that I know of.

Siesta time is about over and the poker game about to commence so must sign off. At the present standing I am up P70.00 on the books so feel like a plutocrat, or some such thing.

May 24, 1942

This is a heluva way to spend a Saturday night although I have spent quite a number already right here and can't say that I like it yet either. However, so it goes. They are having a show over at the main building tonight and things were very quiet up 'till a moment ago when it started raining and now the crowd is swarming back to roost as the show was called. Thought I would have a quiet evening and catch up a little on the latest dope but no soap. Have been busy building folding canvas chairs lately; make a few dimes every now and then for cigarettes. They cost me about P2.50 to make and I sell them for P5.00. That is not counting the time I work on them which, with available tools, takes about two days per chair.

If, after getting out of this place, any one gets me, or rather tries to get me to stand and wait in a line, it will be a plain case of murder, for that is what we do for everything from the chow line to bathing, toilet etc. Facilities for everything are so limited. To find any one in camp just follow the chow line and they are sure to be there.

Todays paper has pictures of a number of Nurses taken prisoners at Corregidor, several of whom I knew. We had consistant rumors that they had all been evacuated to Australia but like most of the rumors we get in here, they are false. The paper also states that Mexico has declared war on the Axis. Some say this occurred several months ago as there have been people carrying Mexican passports in this camp for some time. Personally, I do not appreciate why the Japs are broadcasting this now but one can rest assured they have something in mind.

Rumors come in that the Russians have at last taken Kharkov after giving the Germans a terrible "shellacking." With all the optimistic news we have been getting about that front lately, the war should be practically over. As a matter of fact, we have had here rumors that Germany had sued for peace on several occasions, but the war still goes on and they are fighting every inch of the way. So far as we know, things are very quiet out this way since the fall of Corregidor. We have heard something about a Coral Sea naval battle, with both sides claiming a victory so don't know what to make of it. There appears to be nothing around the Philippines so it really is beginning to look like we are the forgotten peoples.

In the mean time the Japs continue their abuse and looting of everything in sight; they are now working out on properties of the Filipinos, taking their cars, radios, stores and etc.

And speaking of abuses, we had an example of it right at the gate of this camp several days ago and this is no rumor either, for I witnessed it myself. It seems that a Filipino got into trouble with a Jap civilian just outside the gate and pulled a knife on him inflicting a small cut on the arm or head, am not sure where. The guards at the gate joined in the scrap and all but beat the poor fellow to a pulp. Then they brought him inside the gate, tied his hands behind him and beat him up some more, slapping his face, kicking his shins and stamping the butt of their gun on his foot apparently trying to break his arches. When the poor fellow fell down in pain and exhaustion, they would kick him in the ribs and face until he got up. It was a terrible sight and I was probably a "heel" to watch it as long as I did but could not help seeing what animals they really are. Other guards stood by with fixed bayonets and there was absolutely nothing any one could do but just boil all over at such cruelty. This happened about four o'clock in the afternoon; the poor fellow was kept at the gate and beat up until eight, then was taken away, almost dead. We have since learned his wife and kids came to plead for him and they let him go. That is just another example of the "New Order."

May 19, 1942

Not much new or exciting lately. Reports reach us that Germany is fact [sic] coming to the end; that her lines have been broken in many places and it is now only a matter of days. Here's hoping. (gulp)

Several days ago I sent a friend to my apartment to get some clothes etc; and today received a note saying everything had been taken away, so am now cleaned out and back to scratch. The devils. That will take about another hundred Japs to settle for that. My day is sure to come, and when it does - wow! Am not feeling any too good about it today; there were many things there I shall never be able to duplicate. And the heluvitis I've got to sit here and can't do a damned thing about it but boil over with murder in my heart.

May 14, 1942

After all these years of chopping kindling, I would have to wait ‘till I got into a concentration camp to cut off a piece of my finger, which I did yesterday. A stupid thing to do, but maybe now I can catch up a little on this as I can not do much work around camp. Fortunately it was the thumb of my left hand, so am not totally disabled although it does hurt like the devil. Have just returned from having the dressing changed which is not much fun either. How-ever, such is life. My carpentry work will now have to suffer for a while and I am already far behind in my orders for folding chairs. Do I have my troubles!!

Latest news about Corregidor is that there were only 2,300 Filipino and 900 American officers and troops on the island when they surrendered. All others, including nurses, gold, currency and supplies had been shipped out, probably to Australia. According to the propaganda sheet we get in here, all American forces in the islands have surrendered so the Japs are supposed to be in complete control. Rumors have a different story, that we are still fighting in the south. Air activity around Manila has been very limited since the fall of Corregidor, so it is difficult to say just what is actually going on. One can not believe the paper and the rumors are just as apt to be more unreliable; so what!

You will undoubtedly find this the most jumbled mess you ever run across, but then, that is just about what we are in here, and it’s getting no better fast. Although we do have some things t be grateful for and that is, that the rainy season has been holding off and we are still enjoying the tropical sunshine.

Some while back I started to give you a little on camp life, then got to wandering as usual. Not having much to write about today, will scribble off a few lines on the subject so that if you ever get caught in a concentration camp you can say that this is the way they did it in Manila.

In a camp of this size, with so many different classes of people, it is necessary to have some organization in order to maintain order and health. When the camp was first started, we had to have a contact man to deal with the Japs, which position, as the camp became larger, developed into a committee composed of both men and women, and now called the Central Committee. This committee is headed by a chairman named Earl Carrol (formerly with the Insular Life Insurance Co.) which acts on all matters pertaining to the camp.

Will wander off for a moment to tell of a little episode in connection with the above named party. One Saturday night when they were having a show, said party brought the Jap commandant up on the stage and after introducing him to the audience, wished him every success in his next venture (commandant was scheduled to be transferred to some other offensive) and then tried to get the crowd to sing “For he’s a jolly good fellow.” A fine spirit of Americanism!! I don’t think! Said party (or rat) will probably be as popular as the measles when we get out of here. If he lives that long. Now that you know the type of “bloke” we have as chairman of the camp we can go on with the story. From this you might imagine how things are run as far as our interests are concerned in dealing with Japs. While a few have endeavored to justify the above episode, the majority feel that it was absolutely un-warranted any way you might look at it.

Operating under the Central Committee, are the Sanitary, Police and food supply divisions. Each having a head man and as many assistants as needed. Everything done in camp is voluntary, and no one can be forced to work, resulting in many not doing a damned thing but get on the bread line twice a day and then kick because they do have to stand in line.

Some one in camp brought in a phonograph arrangement that works through a bank of loud speakers, so we now have music every night ‘till 8:45 P.M. The curfew hour has again been extended and is now 9:00 P.M. We understand that the commandant wanted to make it 10:00 P.M. but the Central Committee objected. Guess they were afraid of what might go on during these dark nights with some body elses wife, or some such thing. From what I have seen so far, many are doing quite alright. Do you follow me? Now don’t get any bad ideas about me for I haven’t a gal friend in camp and am still pure as snow. Believe it or not. And it is a matter of choice too, for there are plenty of the “deadly Species” (females) in camp here. For once in my life I realize when I am well off and am not looking for any particular trouble.

As most all the heavy work and improvements in camp have been completed, I am now on the “can” detail, or in plain English, clean the toilets on our floor. Our room has been assigned this job as a steady diet so we now work, only every three days for a couple of hours, unless some special job comes up.