Manilla, Philippines: Santo Thomas Internment Camp: February 16, 1945. Unbound. This onion-skin file copy of a letter measures 8.5” x 11”. It was written by “Walter” (who identifies himself as an employee of Trans World Airlines) immediately after his liberation from the Saint Thomas Internment Camp run by the Japanese Army in Manila and reunification with his presumably Filipina or Chinese wife and their children, who had been forced to fend for themselves in Manila. In it, Walter describes their ordeal during the liberation of the city by American troops as the Japanese Army retreated.
The letter reads in part:
“I watched from my window the district where Hetty and the children lived . . . without being able to lift as much as a finger to aid them. The atrocities committed by the Japs in this struggle are beyond description as they were firing on or bayonetting any living being they encountered. All residential districts were systematically fired by the Japs and the occupants of houses, were machinegunned upon leaving their burning houses.“Hetty and the Girls had a most horrifying experience but were saved by the Grace of God and her tenacious will. . .. After our house had been severely shelled, it was finally set on fire by the Japs and they had a miraculous escape from machine gun bullets by hiding for four days and four nights in an underground shelter until rescued by one of our heroic soldiers. She, the children, and her Chinese neighbors lived on one can of Pork and Beans for four days, drinking muddy water to keep themselves alive. The dead and injured were laying all around them and poor little Audrey was hit by a shrapnel on her head, while Hetty and Dorothy narrowly escaped from machine gun bullets.
“They were finally rescued on Febr. 13 and brought into camp where Audrey is now being treated. . .. Practically all our neighbors and the children’s playmates have been murdered by these dastardly Japs. . .. when the struggle was at its peak, Audrey said to her Mother: 'Mommy, I think we also will have to die, if I could only see my Daddy just once more before we are dead.' . ..
"Up to our liberation I had reached an all time low of 115 lbs. in weight. . .. Mr. Hoffman passed away on Nov. 4, 1944 from Brain Tumor and Pneumonia, and the Japs refused to allow me to notify the Office. . .. There are absolutely no Records of any kind available re T.W.A. business as everything has been systematically destroyed by the Japs. . ..". Very good. Item #009666
Presumably, additional research would show that Walter’s family survived the war, however, that is not certain. Although they were reunited in the camp when this letter was written on February 16th, by the end of the month, 48 people died from the lingering effects of starvation.
A rare first-hand account of Japanese atrocities during the liberation of Manila from the perspective of an American internee who could witness them but do nothing to help his family who was caught in the inferno. At the time of this listing, nothing similar is for sale in the trade, and the Rare Book Hub and Worthpoint show no auction records for similar items. OCLC reports that one institution holds two different POW oral histories describing the atrocities.