CURTIS B. BROOKS
June 6, 2004
Below is the copy of the diary fragment I mentioned.
Santo Tomás Internment Camp
Manila, Philippine Islands
Starting afternoon 3 Feb
Planes flew over high during the afternoon and explosions continued. At 4:45 8 – 10 planes flew low right over us and gave everybody a thrill. Saw insignia. Fires in the city during the day. News today is good and seems reliable. Indications are that the Americans are approaching closer to the city. Japs have taken all rice but have graciously left us corn & soybean. Food pretty bad. Rain today at 3:30.
Feb. 4. Wow the Yanks are Here. We are stuck in the Ed Bldg. Story later. There are 4 huge fires in the city and innumerable small ones. There are a large number of American trucks in front with 3 tanks. Firing continues in the city. 1 casualty after last night’s shooting and 1 Jap hit. Later at 3:00 p.m. Huge fires have sprung up all over the city and are burning unchecked. The Japs have us bottled up in the Ed Bldg still. American twin engined and single engined planes have been circling over the city all day. Heavy explosions in the city. A large number of American trucks, tanks, field guns, jeeps, ambulances and other vehicles have been moving in and out of camp. The sky is completely covered with smoke. The Japs in the bldg may surrender without a fight. List of casualties – 1 Jap killed, another suicide and 1 wounded – 1 internee wounded.
Fires dying out later on.
One of the first indications of the nearness of American troops was the appearance of 8 or 10 planes very low. After roll call there was intermittant machine-gun fire to the north. This caused a wave of excitement thru the camp for some reason or another. I went up to the 3rd floor Ed Bldg to see what I could see which was exactly nothing. Later on in the evening fires started in the north section of the city, and there was some but not much machine-gunning. As darkness increased tracer bullets were seen at intervals through out the city. The general opinion was that the guerillas were active for some reason or another. The Japs downstairs got very excited and lined up their trucks in front of their office and proceeded to load them. The machine gun fire continued and we became aware of a distant rumbling. After a while there was a rumbling at the gate and a light flashed on. It was the general opinion then that both the office staff and the gate guard were moving out. Several times there was gunfire in the proximity of the gate but the light there remained on. Green flares suddenly appeared and the Japs downstairs ducked quickly and stayed indoors. The electricity was off and everything was in total blackness except for the light at the gate. Several more flares were shot up and there was some machine gunning in the city. A funny thing occurred. After a time we thought we heard an American voice at the gate. A little later the rumbling at the gate increased and the vehicle which we thought to be a Jap truck moved forward slowly and more lights appeared. Suddenly there was some machine gunning and then a cheer. As the vehicle moved forward towards the main bldg there was more cheering. Somebody let out a whoop and we all started yelling for dear life. That vehicle was not a Jap truck but an American tank. It drove up in front of the main bldg accompanied by much cheering and flashed its lights all over the grounds. Everybody went mad. Wise cracks were passed back and forth, some people sang and others just yelled. The tank was soon followed by more trucks which drew up in front of the main bldg.
At this juncture I tried to get downstairs but was prevented by Jap soldiers. Then and there began one of the wildest nights I have ever spent. It soon became apparent that the Japs were going to hold the Ed Bldg with 200 internees in it. After a while, word was passed for all men to gather in the center of the bldg which we all did. Conversation was next carried on between parties inside and out to try to reach some aggreement whereas we might leave the bldg in safety. After a long delay it became apparent that we could not leave the bldg. Meanwhile an American tank had drawn up in front of the place and parked there. My heart was in my boots. We stumbled through the darkness over beds, chairs, mattrases and luggage of sorts into the back room where we were told. We lay on the floor and waited. Presently we were informed that firing would commence and so it did. It was a terrific racket but I wasn’t near as scared as I thought I’d be. At times I could feel the slugs hit the bldg. The firing stopped shortly and we all breathed easier. But the relief was short lived for Jap soldiers came up and after much palavering and more backchat with the people out side we were moved to the front rooms and were again told to lie low. This time the firing was heavier and longer. The continued chatter and thudding was rather nervewracking and I began to think that it was never going to end. It did end but not until I thought the building…..
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