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.

March 17, 1942 - Saint Pat's Day

Once again I shall attempt to settle down for a line or two to this thesis, or what-ever you might call it, as I am rather anxious to have it up to date before I forget. There are undoubtedly unnumerable incidents that have come to pass during the preceeding time covered above that would be of interest so will have to add them in later as they come to mind, so will start in on life in an internment or concentration camp in Manila.

The University of Santo Tomas is located in the city of Manila and covers an area of approximately forty acres. There are four principal buildings, namely, a gymnasium, Padres living quarters and chapel, main school building and a Catholic sisters home. There are several smaller buildings such as a machine shop, laboratory, warehouse, and an intermediate grade school building, all of which will probably accomodate about 3,000 students at the most.

As the majority of padres are Americans, they are also interned in their quarters but are kept seperate from us by a barbed wire fence that runs through the center of the property. I forgot to mention in my description of this camp that it is all fenced in by a concrete wall about ten feet high with barbed wire along the top, just like a regular jail yard. We are actually having two new experiences in one here; attending a University and being in jail at the same time. However, I would gladly for-go all this for a scotch and soda right now.

There are about 3500 Americans, British, Dutch and Poles interned here in two of the buildings. When we first came in, I was quartered in the gymnasium along with 650 other men under the one roof and room. You can not imagine what a nightmare it is with that many different kinds of snoring going on. It was almost impossible to get in a good nights sleep at first but one gets used to most anything after a while and I now sleep late as in ye good ol' days. We sleep on folding camp cots, some on the hard floors, packed in like sardines in a can. It is everything but healthy but there is nothing can be done except to take it and hope for the best.

Three men went over the fence to get away from it, only to be caught the next day and shot by a firing squad not far from camp. Another man went over the fence a little later on and apparently made good his escape for we have heard nothing of him since.

There are about 2900 women, kids and men quartered in the main school building, which as I said before, would accomodate classes for 3000 students, so you can imagine how close they are packed in.

The machine shop building has been converted into a hospital holding about 150 beds which are always full. Fortunately there are several good American doctors in camp to take care of things although medicines and supplies are very scarce and sickness average very high.

For the first few days we ate from supplies that we brought in with us, but as time went on and we were not released after the three days were up, food became a problem and has been more so ever since. Many of the large storage bodegas were burned during the bombing destroying thousands of dollars of food stuffs, resulting in prices shooting sky high to as much as ten times their normal price.

As all business and banking houses were closed from December twenty-eighth and on, we had but very little cash in our pockets to carry on with. This is another item I blame on our high commissioner for not advising us of the true facts and conditions so that we could be prepared. But all our luck has not been bad, for we had a Filipino doctor friend who is fairly well fixed financially, who has been taking care of us by sending food in daily. We all had a certain amount of supplies on hand at the time things broke but that would not have carried us for long. It is over three months now since we have had any ships in this port so there must be very little foreign food stuffs left in the islands. Unless something happens real soon, it rather looks like we are in for a bad time of it.

Every morning from 8:00 AM to 10:00 AM we have the line up at the gate, where the Filipinos bring in food and supplies and leave them for us to claim after they have all gone away. The Japs are very careful to see that we do not talk to anyone on the outside and keep us about 100 yards from the gate at all times.

Commencing around the first of February, the Red Cross organized a bread line, serving two meals a day, of which most every one is now a steady customer. The meals are none too good but they do keep one going so cannot complain too much. For breakfast we have cracked wheat, sugar syrup (no milk) and native coffee; for dinner or the afternoon meal served about 4:30 PM we will have either mongo beans or white beans and tea. Occasionally they have stew made of caraboa and native vegetables. Nothing to write home about but it is filling and that is something. I have lost about twenty five pounds to date and am feeling fine physically. Apparently a little hard work agrees with me for I have been doing all sorts of odd jobs such as digging ditches for the garbage disposal, scrubbing floors, building shantys, hauling water, pulling grass and weeds, raking the lawn, do all my own washing and etc., so after all this I might be a handy guy to have around the house. Howsaboutit?

No comments:

Post a Comment

There was an error in this gadget