RAYMOND LEYERLE (1881 - 1945)

June 1, 2004
I received the following e-mail from the great-nephew of Raymond Leyerle, Lou Gopal.

My uncle, Raymond Leyerle, was born on July 12,1881. He was actually my great-uncle as he was married to Adelaida, my grandmother's sister - she was of the family of Zaragoza.

Adelaida and Raymond Leyerle
This picture was taken in 1942 when Raymond was issued a temporary leave away from Santo Tomas for about 3 months.
This was arranged by a neighbor who was a Japanese businessman and had some connections with the Japanese military.

Elvira (nicknamed "Butch") and her sister Rosario (nicknamed "Charito") with their father, Raymond Leyerle.
The dog's name was ... "Spot" - it was a mongrel, part fox-terrier but was part of the family for many years.

They were Spaniards who had settled in the Philippines three generations back. Raymond was retired from the Marines after the Spanish American war and settled in Manila and got married. He became Manila's Police Chief prior to the Philippines becoming a Commonwealth. At that time, they started moving Filipinos into larger roles of responsibility and he lost his job. He then went to work at the Cavite Naval Yards as a civilian working for the U.S. Navy. When war broke and the Japs required every U.S. citizen to register, he declared his loyalty to America even though his family said they would hide him. When he went to Santo Tomas, his family wanted to be interned with him but the Japanese said no....just him. His wife, Adelaida and two daughters, Rosario and Elvira (who now are living in the Bay Area) were able to visit and bring him food from Jan 42 to spring of 1944 when things started going very bad for the internees. After that he would somehow pass word out to his family that he would be at a certain window at a certain time and he and his family could only wave to each other. They never saw him until Liberation. He was lying in a hospital bed when his two daughters came looking. They actually passed right by him but didn't recognize him because he had lost so much weight. He was over two hundred pounds when he went in - he had lost 90lbs. and died of malnutrition on February 12th, 1945. He is listed in Fred Steven's book.

I've attached a couple of pictures. Thanks for doing this. I appreciate it !

(Lou Gopal lougopal@hotmail.com)

July 15, 2004
Tom -
Thought I'd pass this on to you. It's Raymond Leyerle's diary entries from the last few months at Santo Tomas. He didn't keep a diary the entire time. However, it might be interesting to post it on his webpage.

Best regards,
Lou -

During the Japanese occupation of Manila which lasted about four years, the Japanese Imperial Army interred private citizens from countries such as Great Britain, Germany, France. However, a large proportion of the "foreigners" were Americans. At that time, the Philippines were a part of the commonwealth of the United States. Many Americans living in Manila were teachers, former military, and businessmen working for American companies. Many had made the Philippines their home. They were married to Filipino citizens, had families and friends all around the Manila area. Their citizenship condemned them to living a hell within the walls of Santo Tomas University. The camp ground consisted of several buildings including a hospital. Living conditions for the approximately 3700 men, women, and children interned at Santo Tomas was minimal but tolerable. As the war drew on and the Japanese Army suffered significant losses, their attitude towards the internees turned abusive and inhumane.

There have been quite a few books written about this particular time of the war. The stories weren't about military victories or defeat. They were personal. They were about people who were caught up in something beyond which they had no power to change except to react to it. Life within the walls of Santo Tomas became a mirror of the outside world. There was a marketplace to buy hard goods and food or trade with whatever you had that was in demand. Beyond the gates, the locals , which included Filipinos, East Indians, Chinese , and Spanish, showed up everyday to make contact with friends , deliver packages or sell whatever was marketable; even bring money to those lucky enough to have friends from well-to-do families. Laborers and craftsmen were hired to build small huts on the grounds which entire families lived in. These were more comfortable than the dormitories and offered access to an occasional gentle breeze as opposed to the hot, humid buildings. Many tilled the soil and grew vegetables and fruits which supplemented the mush and rice that the Japanese provided. As you'll read on, even this too would soon go away. Not that life was so much better outside. There were no more animals in the zoo. They had all been eaten. No transportation due to fuel shortages and again, no horses or carabao (water buffalo) to pull the carts. The Japanese were known to loot and scavenge the spoils of war. But what they could not do was to steal away the human spirit and the will to survive.

Raymond Leyerle was an American who came to Manila as a civilian in the Twenties. Prior to the Philippines achieving commonwealth status, he was Manila’s police chief. This job was relinquished when the U.S.administration started employing more Filipinos to assume roles of responsibility in preparation for their upcoming independence scheduled for 1946. He was working as civilian for the U.S. Navy in Cavite just prior to the December 8th, 1941 attack. He married my grandmother's sister, Adelaida Zaragoza. They had two daughters from whom I obtained this information. They are currently married and living in the San Francisco Bay area with their husbands, children, and grandchildren.

The following entries are pulled directly from my grand-uncle's diary. They are his words just as he wrote them.

8/22/44 - The partial blackout started on August 22. There was an occasional practice air raid alarm and one or two actual air raid alarms during August and the early part of September.

9/16/44 - From about September 16th, the Japanese were having anti-aircraft gun practice every morning and sometimes at night with dozens of search lights. The blackout continued in effect.

- At about 9:20 a.m., a swarm of American planes appeared on the scene and blasted the plane and target from the air. Suddenly the sky was full of American planes (estimated 150-300). The bombing had gone 8 or 10 minutes before the air raid alarm sounded. We could see our planes dive through a curtain of anti-aircraft shells and release their bombs over their objectives. Two planes in particular made spectacular dives over Grace Park. After these planes had started two fires at that place, they dived and strafed the field. The rattle of their machine guns could be plainly heard at Santo Tomas.

- Those two planes left and two more appeared and dived right into the smoke from the fires and when they pulled up another fire broke out. The roar of exploding bombs and sharper rattle of anti-aircraft and machine guns was deafening.

- Falling shell fragments and machine gun bullets were falling all over the compound. Two anti-aircraft shells exploded on the grounds.

- The all-clear sounded at 11:30 a.m.

- At about 2:45 p.m. more American planes came over. The air-raid signal did not sound until the bombing had been going on for some time. We watched three planes bomb Camp Murphy. Several small fires were started, probably trucks, as there was a motorpool in that neighborhood.

- One of our planes was seen to explode over the waterfront. He had just went into a dive and evidently a shell hit him and exploded the bombs as he went out in a flash.

- Many fires were started in the Bay, along the waterfront, Nichols Field, and Neilson Airport during the two raids. All-clear went about 5:05 p.m.. One fire (evidently an ammunition dump or ship) burned until about 8:00 p.m. There were a number of small explosions and finally, at 8:50 am , another wave of over 50 planes, heavy bombing -- several more fires started. Planes left but all-clear was not sounded until 3:00 p.m. Another air-raid signal sounded at 4:35 p.m. No planes appeared and the all-clear signal sounded at 5:35 p.m. with a flash that lit up the skies for miles around accompanied by a terrific explosion, it went to kingdom come.

- The city was blacked-out all night but every thing was quiet.

9/22/44 - The air raid alarm went at 7:15 a.m. and the planes came over at 7:30. Heavy anti-aircraft fire and bombing as yesterday. One plane was seen shot down.

10/7/44 - Air-raid alarm at noon, changed to air-raid alert. Same unidentified planes went over -- too high to be seen.

10/11/44 - Air-raid alert at 11:50 p.m. Called off October 13.

10/15/44 - Air alert at 8:39 a.m. Air raid alarm at 8:44 a.m. Large number of planes came over about 10:15 am. Bombed air fields -- some dog fights. Grace Park heavily blasted. Raid off at 1:30 p.m. Back to air alert.

10/17/44 - Air alert at 7:25 a.m. Air raid alarm at 7:55 a.m.

10/18/44 - Air raid alarm at 8:44 a.m. However, our planes didn't come over until about 9:45 a.m. Heavy bombing -- several dog fights. One plane fell in flames over Tondo way. Also one parachutist. Another plane caught fire and went down near mountains in direction of Novaliches.

- Another wave of planes came over at about noon. More dog fights with two Jap bombers and one fighter downed -- could be seen from our room.

- All quiet until about 4:00 p.m. when another wave of our planes came from over the Bay in the rain. Plenty of anti-aircraft fire. Our planes could be seen diving through bursting shells. They were evidently after ships in the Bay.

- All-clear sounded at 5:20 p.m. . Back to air alert.

10/19/44 - At 7:30 a.m., our planes came over and caught them off guard. Anti-aircraft guns started shooting and bombs fell before the alarm sounded. About 40 minutes later we saw a large number of our planes come out of the clouds to the east -- looked like flocks of birds -- there was anywhere from 60 to 100 light bombers and some fighters. We saw them fly into a blanket of bursting anti-aircraft shells without breaking their formation and then split up and go into a ???

9/23/44 - Alarm sounded. Planes passed over very high. No fighting around Manila.

9/24/44 - Alarm went at 8:30 a.m. Some planes passed over the east of camp. They were headed south. No action around Manila. All-clear sounded at 1:00 p.m.

9/25/44 - Several planes around. Evidently Japanese. One group of 12, one of 7, dive for their objective. Heavy bombs were used -- some fires were started. No dog fights this time. All quiet until 10:05 am when another wave of planes came over from the east. They showed up very pretty on the clear blue sky. Some anti-aircraft fire but no dog fights. Bombing around the waterfront and Bay.

- Another wave of planes came over at 1:30 p.m. Very heavy bombing -- one continuous roar. Awe inspiring is the word. Then all quiet and the all-clear was sounded at 5:45 PM.

10/20/44 - Two air alerts -- 7:05 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. No planes around Manila.

10/21/44 - Air alert sounded at 7:48 am. Air raid alarm at 8:30 a.m. One more alert but no planes over Manila. - No alarms on the 22nd and 23rd.

10/24/44 - Air raid alert went at 5:58 a.m. At 7:20 a.m. our planes came over and started bombing before alarm went. Saw eight planes come out of the clouds. Dropped heavy bombs. Air raid over at 9:10 a.m. Air raid alarm again at 10:15 a.m. . Bombing around Cavite. No planes over Manila. Raid off at 10:50 a.m.

10/25/44 - Air alert at 8:30 a.m. Air raid alarm at 11:05 a.m. No planes over Manila --said to have been over Corregidor.

10/29/44 - Twenty minutes of eight. Heard planes-- spotted eight flying high. Thought they might be Japanese, but the anti-aircraft guns soon let loose and bombs began to fall near Nichols Field and the waterfront -- circled around several times and at nine a.m. was quiet (They were caught napping).

- At 9:25 a.m. 12 Japanese planes went northwest.

- One dog fight over Tondo. One plane down. Air raid alarm off at 10:45 a.m. At 1:00 p.m. another wave of planes came over -- alarm went at same time. bombing towards piers. Raid over at 2:11 p.m. 3:30 p.m. alarm sounded -- planes came over about 4:00 p.m. Bombed waterfront and ships on harbor. All clear sounded at 5:45 p.m.

11/5/44 - Air raid at 7:30 a.m.. Could hear our planes before alarms went. Heavy bombing at Zablan, Nichols, and Neilson airfields. Several dog fights. I saw one plane come down in flames. It was spinning like a top, nose down. It was said that six others were shot down over toward the south.

- Saw one flight of our planes, 32 in all. Quiet again at 8:15 a.m. --- 9:30 a.m. another wave of planes came over. Heavy bombing. Another plane fell and blew up at Zablan Field. Alarm again at 12:50 p.m. Two more in the afternoon.

11/6/44 - Air alarm at 4:30 a.m. One plane shot down and crashed near Mandaluyong. Exploded and lit up the country side. All-clear sounded at 6:29 a.m.

- Air alarm against at 7:27 a.m. Heaviest bombing and anti-aircraft fire of all. All-clear at 11:10 a.m.

- 12:40 p.m. - air alarm. Planes already overhead. Saw 20 planes bomb and strafe Marikina Valley, appeared to be between Marikina and San Mateo. Strafing continued for about twenty minutes. Several fires started. Quiet at 1:30 p.m.

11/13/44 - Alarm 7:30 a.m.
11/14/44 - Alarm 7:30 a.m.
11/19/44 - Alarm 6:00 a.m.
11/21/44 - Alarm 4:40 a.m.

12/14/44 - Alarm 7:50 a.m. All day bombing and strafing. Planes came over in fours and eight's. Some at night. 24 hour alarm and total black-out.

12/15/44 - 7:45 a.m - alarm --same as day before -- all day raid -- night several planes came over -- several bombings -- total black-outs.

12/16/44 - Alarm at 7:40 a.m. All day raid. All air fields bombed and strafed by waves of four , 8 - 12 planes. Lots of trucks carrying soldiers came into the city. Fires started at Grace Park, Zablan Field -- at Montalban, Espana extension strafed also Rizal Avenue extension.

12/23/44 - 10:15 am - eighteen B-24's with several P-38's came over and bombed Grace Park and kept on going toward Mariveles. The most beautiful and inspiring sight of my life. Felt like crying. Several women did cry. Later they came back and sprinkled (that's the word) Grace Park with small bombs. One large fire (oil) and several small ones. Four P-38's strafed a place far out in Quezon City probably a troop concentration. At 10:00 p.m. more bombings probably one or two planes. Passed waterfront and Nichols Field three times -- dropped some bombs. Shell bursts from anti-aircraft guns was beautiful to behold. Last raid about 11:00 p.m.

12/24/44 - 10:00 am - air raid alarm.

12/26/44 - Air raid alarm at 10:30 a.m. Three B-24's and five P-38's came over. No rough stuff however. Note: Planes dropped leaflets over the city on the nights of December 24 - 25.

- Going back for an important note. On the morning of December 25th, Tex Cochran, deputy-in-charge of the Patrols at the Gym (my former job) stopped a man by the name of Staples from going across the walk before time. Staples pulled a knife and cut Tex in the neck and abdomen. Tex nearly bled to death . Someone else knocked Staples down and cut his head. He was also cut with his own knife. Both are in the hospital.

- On the night of December 23rd, Carrol Grenell, Chairman of the Internees Committee, and a man by the name of Larsen, who works in Grennel's office, together with Dugglby, who is the head of the Family Aid Committee, were locked in the camp jail by the Japanese. Grennell's office and shanty were sealed. A number of papers were taken from Dugglby's office. Larsen was later released but the other two are still in jail. No one seems to know the straight story.

- On Christmas Eve, we were given a little over a tablespoon of jam and a half of a small round of chocolate (15 grams), the first sweet for over 1 1/2 months. I ate my chocolate and kept my jam for Christmas. However, at breakfast on Christmas, we had a mixture of coconut milk, sugar, and chocolate for our mush. We had a wonderful breakfast. Two ladles of mush with the chocolate mixture and coffee which looked and tasted like weak dish water. I kept my jam for my mush on Tuesday morning. For supper on Christmas, we had two small ladles of fried rice with some camotes and canned meat in it. A very sumptuous meal, no ? By the way, two ladles is double our usual rationing of rice.

- We have been getting two ladles of cornmeal mush for breakfast with a thimble full of coconut milk and coffee if and when. One small ladle of "lugao" at noon, ah, so thin. At night one ladle of rice and vegetable gravy.

- We are out of coconuts again. The army can't get any. So no more milk. Last night, December 26th, we were told there would be no more coffee. No milk, no sugar, no coffee, no bananas, for a long time now. We can get a calamansi about once every 7 to 10 days.

- My stomach must think my throat is cut. My weight 126 lb. My spirit as good as always.

12/28/44 - No air raids. Very quiet.

- We started the day with just mush. No sugar, milk, or coffee. Two small ladles of mush, 70% rice, 30% cornmeal. Incidentally, there is no more corn unless the J.A. brings in some more. Tomorrow for breakfast will be just plain rice mush. Not much nourishment to that.

- This noon we had a very small cupful of soup made of talinum and camote leaves. Tasted like very weak dish water.

- For supper we fared a little better. We had a small ladle of rice, a ladle of camotes cooked with the skins on, a spoonful of mixed camote and talinum greens, and a ladle of so-called gravy made of other vegetables.

- I have never had a square meal for 7 months and for the last four months never more than 1/3 enough to satisfy my hunger. And, oh boy, am I hungry.

12/29/44 - Air raid alarm at 11:00 a.m. Six of our planes came over, circled and passed over Santo Tomas going south. They drew anti-aircraft fire from three places but didn't pay any attention to it. All quiet for the rest of the day. Lots of Jap planes over the city during the night.

- Thin rice lugao for breakfast, thinner soup for lunch. Small ladle of rice for dinner with fairly thick vegetable gravy with quite a few camotes in it.

12/30/44 - Started the day with rice, lugao, but had an extra. Very weak coffee, sin leche, sin azucar.

- Small cup of vegetable soup. Of course there was no meat in it. Tonight we are to have mashed camotes and gravy. No rice. We'll see.. they were very bitter but put them down.

12/31/44 - Lots of planes around last night. Mostly Japs I guess, but probably some of ours were over.

- Chow -- about on a par with yesterday. No overloaded stomach, you bet.

1/1/45 - Started the day with weak lugao and still weaker coffee. Air raid alarm at 10:30 a.m. Forty of our big planes, flying very high. Went north. No rough stuff around here.

- The Japs are celebrating today. They killed a pig last night.

- Had a cup of fairly good soup for lunch. All clear went before 1:00 p.m. The Japs must be getting drunk. They have been shouting "Banzai" and singing up until about 2:30 a.m. Maybe they are most all "plastado" now. They have their office on the whole ground floor of the Education Building and use part of the second floor as a store room. They take anything they want -- even the papayas and bananas we planted. If one of our people are caught taking anything from the garden, they are given 15 days in jail. That is justice.

1/2/45 - 10:45 am. Another flock of our planes just passed over. No air alarm and no rough stuff.

- We had a tasty dinner yesterday. Two scoops (small) of rice, camotes, and carabao meat fried with garlic and leaks !! Ummm ! Tasted mighty good. Also a fair sized ladle of meat gravy. Would have liked to have had double the helping. Then my poor little tummy would have been full for once.

- Breakfast this morning -- just mush. I got some hot water and mixed some of the mush on the hot water with salt and had a hot drink. Trying to fool myself, but no can do.

- At 3:30 p.m. 10 B-24's passed over Quezon City, going east. Anti-aircraft batteries shot at them but no hits (they drove them away).

- Rice and mixed camote and talinum greens with meat gravy. No taste.

1/3/45 - Coconut milk, weak coffee and weaker rice mush. Mostly water. Weighed myself this morning. Weighed 119 lb. When I was in the Gym, I held at 170 lb. and now, the extreme low. Oh well, it won't be long now.

- Had soy bean soup for lunch. Not very much but it was hot. for supper, one rounding ladle of camotes boiled with skins on and a ladle of vegetable and mongo bean soup. Gee, was I hungry last night. Couldn't sleep. My stomach kept inquiring why there was no food. It thought that my throat has been cut so that I couldn't swallow anything.

- We haven't had a calamansi for about 15 days, nor a banana for over a month and we have forgotten what an egg looks like. The last banana that I had was a little nurly saba that never got ripe. Well, I baked it in a fire and ate it "mas que". Now as to camotes, it takes three times the weight of camotes to equal the same amount of rice, so if we had three ladles of camotes last night, we would have bloated up like a balloon. Now you see why I was hungry.

- About 5:45 p.m., saw four of our dive bomber type planes fly over Grace Park and Quezon City. The Nips shot at them but the planes did not stop. So that ended a perfect day.

1/4/45 - Mush made of rice and rice flour for breakfast and milk (coconut). Mush very thin and no salt. I have enough salt for about a week -- but then what ? Soy bean soup for lunch and rice, gravy and greens for "dinner". The gravy tasted good because we haven't anything else. I sure would like to have some of Mama's good old gravy or say, some curried shrimps.

1/5/45 - No planes today. Everything very quiet. Too much so. I think something will happen soon. Heard today that our rice is cut again. Instead of 600 kilos per day, it will now be 550 kilos.

- While it is on my mind I will note here. On December 28th, the J.A. arrested and put in jail under their control, Mr. Grennell, who was the Chairman of the Internee Committee (and who by the way was a "Big Shot" since the start and practically ran this camp to suit himself), Mr. Dugglby, the Chairman of the Family Aid Co., and two others named Larsen and Johnson. Johnson was taken to Santiago and hasn't come back. Today they took Grennell, Dugglby, and Larsen to Santiago. We don't know the exact charges -- but it doesn't look good for the Big Shot. Well, I have no use for him. He has expressed himself too plainly on several occasions. He seemed to think that he owned this camp and ran it until this Commandant came. Grennell once said, "he did not care for the opinion of the other internees"; nice words, especially as they came from a supposed American. There are plenty more like him in this camp, and some of them are to a great extent to blame for the starvation. There is a big steal going on and nothing done about it. Yet, when they catch old John Doe getting an extra helping of food -- 15 days in the camp jail. That is democracy as it is practiced today. Oh, this camp is a wonderful place for showing up, preachers, missionaries, and the upright Americans.

- Three years today since I came into camp. All quiet today. None of our planes and only a few Japs.

1/6/45 - Air raid alarm at 7:45 a.m. Eight planes bombed and strafed Nichol's, Neilson, and Zablan; later a whole bunch of dive bombers worked on them again including Grace Park. Two flights of B-24's came over during the morning -- no bombing close by -- probably farther south.

- Plenty of raids throughout the day. Our boys mean business now. Won't be long now.

- Note: Grennell, Dugglby, and Larsen were taken outside last night and were told to and did dress in winter clothing. Looks like Japan for them. Not so hot.

- Had a rounding ladle of boiled camotes with gravy tonight. Not enough but they tasted good for two reasons. It was a change and they were sweet.

- Japanese were burning papers up till 10:00 p.m. and packing boxes and hauling them out of the camp in trucks. Some of our men who went out to the Insular Cold Stores yesterday to get camotes saw the Japanese burning papers on the Plaza in front of that plant. Looks good.

1/7/45 - Sunday started out fine. Bombing started early this morning with dive bombers. They shook up Grace Park and what appeared to be along the river in San Francisco del Monte. The real fun started later when the four motored bombers came over. They sowed small demolition bombs over that area like scattering seeds. Never saw anything like it. It seemed that the whole place was blowing up at the same time. The windows shook here in Santo Tomas like in a heavy thunderstorm.

- That is one thing we got out of this. We, on the third floor have a fine view of Grace Park, Quezon City, Camp Murphy, Zablan Field, and the Marikina Valley in the distance. We have a box seat that many people would gladly pay thousands of dollars to see. And it is quite safe in here. Our planes silenced a lot of Jap anti-aircraft guns today. The last time our planes were over today (that is about 3:30 p.m.) there was very little gunfire anywhere.

- The Japs have been very busy all day. Packing up boxes and other baggage, loading it on carts and trucks and leaving the camp. It sure looks good now.

- The story is that there will be 20 Jap soldiers to guard the camp and only six rifles for the men who are actually on post. The Internee guards will take over inside the fence. Maybe a rumor. We'll know more later. Note: Lots of the Japs left but there are plenty of guards left.

- We had rice and camotes fried together for supper -- pretty good. But we will have good chow in a very few days.

- Oh, the Japs killed the beef that we were in hopes of getting and took it with them. They also killed their pigs. Oh hum, we'll get some one of these days.

1/8/45 - 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.

1/9/45 - Mush, coco-milk, and coffee, so called for breakfast. Forty seven of our B-24's came over this morning. They done their bombing and as far as we know, none of them was hit. So glad. Earlier in the morning our dive bombers were operating over near Caloocan. I believe the R.R. shops. Another bunch did some bombing way out in San Francisco del Monte.

- Still later fifteen of our planes came in from the direction of the Bay. They flew very low over Grace Park and San Francisco del Monte barely missing the tree tops. When they reached Marikina Valley they gave them the works. The Jap anti-aircraft batteries cut loose but to no avail. They were caught napping with another Yankee trick.

- Just before that a big Jap plane came in flying very low over San Francisco del Monte trying to keep out of sight. Three of our planes that were high on the air over Quezon City spotted him and gave chase. They were going on him when they passed over the Marikina Valley. The Jap guns opened fire but our planes went through unscathed. The last I could see they were chasing him over the Antipolo mountains and were right on his tail. He was a lost ball.

- We had thin soup for lunch. Maybe none tomorrow. There were no vegetables, soy bean cake or anything else came into camp today.

- The Jap commandant broadcast that he has our welfare at heart but it is impossible to find food in Manila. Still they took rice out of camp for their own use yesterday. Oh well.

- There has been a lot of explosions in the city this p.m. Sounds as if the Japs are wrecking things.

- We had a ladle of rice and another of soup for supper. About one third enough.

1/10/45 - Thin mush, coco milk, and tea for breakfast. I'll say this -- the tea tasted more like tea than the coffee resembled coffee.

- Here is a case of violence that happened yesterday afternoon. A colored man by the name of Huff who seems to be somewhat "valiente" got some beef bones from the Japs and made soup to sell. An old sea captain by the name of Owen had some words with him over the soup. I haven't been able to find out exactly what the argument was. Anyway, Huff struck the old man, who then walked a short distance and fell. They got the stretcher to take the old man to the hospital but he died before arriving there.

- Huff is now in jail. I don't know what they will do with him. Huff beat up another colored man (74 years old) about 3 weeks ago.

- I used to cook with the Captain while we were both at the Gym. He was a nice old man. He was a British subject.

- Twenty four B-24's came over this morning and plastered Grace Park systematically. They passed over the field three times and sowed bombs like a farmer sowing seeds. The first trip they came over the right of the field and let loose their loaf and turned right over us where we had a fine view. The next trip was over the left side of the field and the third right up the center. The field must be plowed like a rice field. Was a wonderful sight. That is one thing that we have -- a good box seat. The planes went over Marikina Valley, near San Mateo and gave them some pineapples.

1/10/45 - Later about noon some small planes either P-38's or dive bombers worked San Francisco del Monte over. Appeared to be way out by the river.

- For lunch -- a cup of thin talinum soup. Supper, or dinner if you want to be "high hat", we had a small ladle of rice fried with talinum and some canned meat. It was very good but lacking in quantity. I could have eaten four times as much.

- I am making a "crazy-patch-work" quilt out of an old bed spread. I am sure looking forward to the day where Mama and the girls see it. I am certain that they will say it is a work of art. Well, it helps to pass the time and keeps me from thinking of my empty stomach.

- The story about Dugglby and the others being taken to Japan is not true. They are in Manila or Montinlupa. So that is that. I wish the Commandant would leave. Maybe we could get something more to eat.

- Saw something yesterday that illustrates the spirit of Santo Tomas. One gray-brown dog was fighting with three black dogs. All of the dogs were of about equal size. Finally the gray dog broke away and started to run. A man who was passing by kicked the poor gray dog as it went past him. That is Santo Tomas for you. Kick them while they are down. Or, you might say -- Democracy as she is lived.

1/11/45 - Rice flour much and hot water for breakfast. I bummed a piece of ginger and made ginger tea and put some cinnamon in it (also bummed). It wasn't bad. Thin soup for lunch. but, never mind -- the end is near.

- A flock of B-24's came over this morning and plastered what appears to be about the exposition grounds in Quezon City. They did it like Grace Park. There was fires and dirt flying over a spot a mile long. Just before noon two navy planes flew low right over the camp and one of the pilots waved at the internees. It was sure a welcome sight to see the star on the wings of a plane instead of a fried egg.

- This afternoon about 20 navy planes bombed and strafed Rizal Avenue extension. Some of them flew low over the camp. Later, they came back and from what we could see, strafed and bombed railroad yards.

- This evening there have been a lot of explosions around the waterfront and Tondo, with lots of fires. Looks like the Japs are blowing up things and getting ready to leave. Well, the sooner the better.

- Camote stew for supper. Had bacon in it. About like canned pork and beans has pork. Would have enjoyed three times that much. No rice. Did a big washing today and my back is broken.

1/12/45 - Cornmeal mush with a little rice in it for breakfast. Well, the air was full of our planes this morning. They were blasting things up north of here. That helps pep us up.

- I have been laying here on my bunk listening to some fellows talking about chow. They make me so darned hungry that I would eat a dish rag.

- It is eleven o'clock and will soon be time for the soup. It is may of soy bean cake today. Something special. I am getting so weak I can hardly get around. We have hopes that the boys will be here on Sunday. I hope to God it will come true. This is my first experience with starvation.

- Just broadcasted that there will be no soup for lunch. That is that. Well, I can smoke a cigarette and drink water.

- Lots of explosions and fires this p.m. Seems that our friends are wrecking things. Story is that the guards have already left Los Banos. Time will tell. If these birds would only leave here --

- Fair gravy and a small ladle of rice for supper. Very good as far as it went.

- We have been under a partial blackout since August 22 and total blackout for 7 days. Only a dim light in each corner of the hall.

- September 21, 1944 was a wonder day for us. That was the day we saw the first American planes. The air was full of them and they did a wonderful job.

- Further notes I will put here as I guess there is no longer danger of search. August 2, 1944 orders came to turn in all money to the Japanese. That caused a scramble. August 22, 1944 Japs came without any warning and searched our room. Took field glasses, typewriter, money, books, maps, etc. Three men went to jail.

1/13/45 - Thin mush and hot water for breakfast and thinner soup for lunch. For supper, a stew made of corn meal, a few kidney beans, camotes (also few), coco lard. Not so bad. But anything tastes good right now.

- Twenty four B-24's came over this morning 10:00 a.m. and from what we could see, they plastered Marikina Valley near Pasig. About 1:00 p.m. some smaller planes were operating far out over Quezon City. No Jap planes around yesterday and today. What a relief after three years. There was one Jap plane took off from Grace Park about 5:00 this morning. But as I didn't see it my eyesight was not damaged.

- We were notified today to keep all containers full of water and to strictly observe all blackout regulations tonight. Now, I want to fill my bucket with fresh water but there is none running at present.

- Lots of oil fires around today. It shows that our friends know there is no chance to take it with them. Now, isn't that just too bad ?

1/14/45 - Thin mush and hot water for breakfast. Thinner soup for lunch and a small ladle of rice and some fair gravy for supper. Incidentally, the cassava flour used to thicken the gravy cost P280 a kilo.

- Very quiet all day. Some planes passed over and dropped a few eggs.

1/15/45 - Same old breakfast, but Mr. Carter gave me some real tea last night so I had hot tea for breakfast. No soup for lunch and did my stomach make a fuss. For supper, a ladle of thick corn meal mush (they call it tamale) with some very weak and thin gravy.

- Saw two P-38's pass over today. There was no rough stuff. They were probably only on a scouting trip. Well, our boys are already across the Agno River in Pangasinan. It won't be long now. They took up all of our chow tickets last night and re stamped them. They discovered that they were serving about 200 meals more than there are people in camp. Someone counterfeiting the tickets. They broadcasted the news first so they didn't catch anyone. Must have been some of the "big shots" mixed up.

1/16/45 - Same breakfast but Mr. Carter's tea went good. No lunch. A ladle of camotes with gravy for supper. And, oh boy, the worms. But believe or not, I am developing a taste for the darned things, as bitter as they are. There was plenty of bombing today -- out around Malabon and Marikina. Our boys are giving them the works now. On the north, they have reached Bambang, Tarlac. I hope that it is true.

- I am writing this lying on the bed. Some lazy guy, eh ? Done a little more washing today and some more work on my crazy patch work.

1/17/45 - I won't write lying down tonight. The same breakfast except that I starved myself last night and saved a few pieces of camote to mix with the mush. It improves the flavor. Of course, I had tea, and that helped. Lunch -- a ladle of thin soup made of camote leaves and vines. Looked like very dirty dishwater and tasted -- well, we'll let it go. Use your imagination. Tonight, we had a stew made of camotes, ground kidney beans and rice. It was good, but as usual, lacking in quantity.

- Here are a few quotations on prices of the few things one can buy in the canteen. Soy sauce P55.00 a beer bottle full; cinnamon P33.00 90 grams; Vinegar P33.00 a beer bottle; Pepper P36.00 90 grams; Garlic P43.00 150 grams. Nothing else. They say that the canteen will close soon.

- We have another scandal and the Japs are all riled up. A newspaper man by the name of Eisenberg went over the fence last night and they haven't caught him yet. They took the man who slept next to him and put him in jail.. It may make things harder for the rest of us. Time will tell. He wanted to get away and get his story of the starvation in the camp back to his paper first. Well, that seems rather selfish. He could get the whole camp into trouble, say, another cut in food, which we just can't stand. And, a lot of young men had to move from the Gym to the main building today on account of him.

- Quite a lot of our planes around over Marikina, Malabon, and points north this morning. Most of the bombing was quite far north. Well, they are sure pounding them. We haven't seen any Jap planes for several days now and that is a welcome relief. Our camp Generals and optimists have them in Angeles, Pampanga and paratroopers holding the Calumpit Bridge. Well, I hope that it is true.

1/18/45 - Feeling lazy. Not much doing -- just a few of our planes around taking observations. Breakfast -- same. Lunch -- soy bean soup. Supper -- a stew made of soy beans, camote, corn meal. These were real soy beans, not meal and it tasted good and I didn't get hungry so soon. I am now down to 117 lb. Mosquito weight.

1/19/45 - Same old morning meal. Soy bean soup for lunch and soy bean, camote stew for supper and again I feel satisfied.

- Plenty doing today. This morning our planes unloaded a lot of heavy bombs on what appeared to be Montalban Gorge. Probably buried a lot of Japs there. Hope so, anyway. This afternoon a bunch of P-38's were after Marikina Valley. A very big fire west of Malabon. It sure was putting out lots of black smoke.

- Well, today I sure got all of the different colors and prints for my crazy patch work that I can use. I got three red cross kit boxes full of that sort of stuff from the bodega. I found thread, yarn, new patches and pieces of various colors besides lots of women's dresses, drawers and what not. Well, what I can use I can save and take home. Mama and the girls can find use for that sort of thing.

- Haven't seen a Jap plane for about 8 days, and there has been no trains that passed here for about 4 or 5 days now. Things are picking up. All for today.

- Oh yes, nearly forgot. Somehow the Japs left their storeroom open. The camp kids got into it and stole a lot of coconut oil They carried it away in 5 lb. margarine tins. The Japs were all hot and bothered. It is now prohibited for any internee to go near that place. Coconut oil is about worth its weight in gold now.

1/20/45 - Breakfast -- sweetened mush. They had 80 kilos of sugar and 25 gallons of syrup for the whole camp -- about 3700 people so you can imagine just how sweet it was. Thin kidney bean soup for lunch and for a supper, soy bean, camote stew (thin). I got plenty of the beans but very little camotes. Anyway the soy beans are much better for us. I am satisfied if they don't give us any rice as long as they can give us soy beans and camotes. Half of the camp has the beriberi so anything but rice is better for us.

- Sorry to see it rain this morning. Don't like to think of our boys fighting in the wet. Quite a few planes around today but I did not see any. Heard lots of, what seemed to be, artillery fire this p.m. Got most of my rags sorted out.

1/21/45 - Didn't feel like writing yesterday. For breakfast -- same thing. Might as well say, "Hebrews 13 Chap.. 8 verse", that would cover it every day. Lunch -- soy bean soup and supper, soy beans - rice stew, not much rice but plenty of beans. They fill up much better than the other things we have been getting and are very nourishing and I like them. My feet are swollen more. Had some nice new khaki patches (3 kinds) that I got out of the odds and ends which I got from the bodega. Well, some misguided soul stole them. Pretty low when one roommate will steal anything so small from another. May it profit him. Lots of bombing around today.

1/22/45 - Had some soy bean milk with our mush. I liked it very much. Lunch today will be soy bean soup and for supper, soy bean and corn stew. We are getting plenty of soy beans. Lots of heavy bombing around this morning.

- Some more about yesterday. I saw the big bombers when they came over. There were six groups of six planes. Five silver and one black to a group. They turned loose a blanket of bombs around the lower end of Marikina Valley. Note: That is called "Pattern bombing". Saw one Jap plane yesterday evening. Don't know where he came from or where he was going. I am of the opinion that he didn't know himself.

- No more bombing this afternoon.

1/23/45 - 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.

1/24 through 31/ 1945 - That finishes that month. We all had great hopes that we would at least be getting something decent to eat by now. I felt too weak to write so let it go.

2/2/45 - 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 P130.00 a kilo and sugar got down as low as P80.00 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.

2/3/45 - 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.

2/3/45 -- 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.

Note: The American forces liberated the camp that Saturday however for some it was too late. Mr. Leyerle's daughters, Rosario and Elvira (shown in the picture, above left) reunited with their father in the camp hospital on Sunday however, due to severe malnutrition he died on Monday February 12th, 1945. His personal effects included the individual small scraps of paper on which these entries were made. The picture on the right is Raymond and his wife, Adelaida (my great-aunt).


- camote -- A yam-like root.

- lugao-- Mush consisting of rice, and gravy - mashed together.

- calamansi -- A small round green fruit which tastes similar to lime.

- talinum -- A green leafy vegetable similar to spinach.

- sin leche, sin azucar -- Spanish for - without cream, without sugar.

- plastado -- Drunk beyond belief.

- mas que -- mashed

- valiente -- brave

If you would like to share any information about Raymond Leyerle
or would like to be added to my POW/Internee e-mail distribution list,
please let the me know.

June 4, 2004
From Raymond's daughter, Elvira; better known as "Butch".
"All I remember is that he loved to sing Irish songs -
the traditional ones like When Irish Eyes Are Smiling,
My Wild Irish Rose, maybe a few more. - Butch"

Background music to this
page can be controlled here.
"When Irish Eyes Are Smiling"
<bgsound src="When Irish Eyes Are Smiling.mid" loop=infinite>

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