The first release of “In Memoriam” has been posted to the Philippine Internment website. This page mainly lists the deaths of over 600 “enemy aliens” who were detained in the civilian internment camps, but includes some of those who escaped internment, or others killed during the fight for liberation. A form for corrections and additions is included on the page. The page can be found under “Internees and Others on the website.
This document, by British internee G. R. Horridge, was written shortly after the end of the War and is provided courtesy of Mr. John Horridge.So many people have asked me about life in an internment camp and if the Japanese ill-treated us, that I have decided to try and give a brief description of the civilian internment camps as I found them in Los Banos and Manila during my three years of internment also a few notes on how I came to find my way into internment in Manila.
When war broke out I was on my way from Shanghai to Sydney via Singapore. I left Shanghai on the “Anhwei” which was one of the last ships to leave and carried about 500 passengers, most of whom had British passports. The bulk of the passengers were housed in the holds of the ship and slept on bunks set up in tiers. In Hong Kong I transferred to the “Anshun”, also bound for Singapore, with 200 Chinese deck passengers on board, but with more cabin space available for European passengers. When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbour we were south of Haiphong and were instructed by the British Naval Authorities to make for Philippine waters, which we did.
We arrived in Manila Bay about 8 a.m. and found the Harbour crammed with shipping and more streaming in all the time. At one o’clock the Japanese raided Cavite Naval Yard with a flight of 27 bombers and a few minutes later another group of similar size sprinkled the harbour with light bombs. Our ship, the “Anshun” was hit by two bombs and set afire, three people were killed, and about a score wounded. The next day all passengers were discharged, and the ship went out into the Bay again. I heard later that this ship sailed the next night along with many others, and finally reached New Guinea. It appears that she was sunk in Milne Bay and has just recently been raised.
After leaving the “Anshun”, I managed to get accommodation at the Bay View Hotel where I stayed until the Japanese entered Manila on January 1st. The American troops evacuated the city and withdrew to Bataan where they held out against the Japs until May 1942. This gave the Japs a free entry into Manila, which they took over in a perfectly orderly manner. All citizens were asked by the Mayor to destroy stocks of liquor and this order was carried out by the majority of Europeans.
About 150 of us were confined to the Hotel for 3 days and were then taken to Villamore Hall. There we spent one night sleeping on the floor or sitting up on school benches whichever one preferred. We were given one tin of soup during the 24 hours. Next day we were transferred to St. Tomas University, which place had been designated as the main civilian internment camp in the Philippines.
St, Tomas was built as a day university and as such was ill-suited for the accommodation of 3500 boarders, men, women and children. It cannot be compared in general layout with universities in Europe or America. Toilet facilities were inadequate, and there were no showers or baths except in the gymnasium, until we installed them ourselves, and no cooking facilities except those in a small cafeteria which normally supplied ices, cakes, coffee etc. to the students. There was also no dining room and people had to eat off their beds until dining sheds could be built outside.
One of the worst features was the overcrowding and the lack of privacy. Eighteen inches between beds was the order in the mens’ rooms, but the women managed to get a little more room, although even so there was little room in which to dress.
by Robert Colquhoun
Born in October 1938 in Hong Kong, where my father was serving in the British army, and evacuated to the Philippines in July 1940, I was interned with my mother, Elsa Colquhoun (1911-2001), in Santo Tomas in January 1942. She had been working as a stenographer for the American military in Manila. My father, meanwhile, was made a prisoner of war when Hong Kong fell to the Japanese on Christmas Day 1941.
In Santo Tomas my mother met another Englishman, Harold Leney, an unmarried accountant of her age who had been working for a British firm in the Philippines. They fell in love, shared a shanty and by the summer of 1944 she was pregnant. That October Harold, who was part of the garbage crew, was arrested and imprisoned with others for smuggling food and cigarettes into camp – an activity in which I, a six-year-old proudly accompanying them, unwittingly took part. On 30 March 1945, two months after liberation, Mother gave birth to a healthy baby in camp, Thomas (named after Santo Tomas). Days later we sailed for England via the United States.
My father had survived the POW camp in Hong Kong and after the war my parents divorced. My mother and Harold Leney married, settled in London and had twins in 1948. In 1952 Harold took a job in East Africa but was killed in an air crash the following year. My mother returned to England, spent the next twenty years bringing up her children, and in 1975 married her widowed brother-in-law, the husband of Harold’s sister. I have remained close to my Leney siblings throughout my life.
I have now written an illustrated memoir of my time in Santo Tomas which can be downloaded free: SANTO TOMÁS INTERNMENT CAMP: Childhood Memoir of Japanese-Occupied Manila, 1941 – 1945 This 3.7 MB file may be adequate, but a larger 17.3 MB file will give better quality and sharper images.
On the ship which evacuated us from Hong Kong to Manila in 1940 were Anne Balfour, the French-born wife of a British colonial official, and her young family (he was later interned in Hong Kong). Like my mother, she stayed in the Philippines rather than go on to Australia, but as a French national she was not immediately interned when the Philippines fell. Under the Japanese occupation she shared a house in Manila with an unmarried Frenchman, Paul Esmérian (1912-69), who became a surrogate father to her family. As a supporter of General de Gaulle and adherent of the Free French, he was eventually interned in Santo Tomas in June 1943; Anne Balfour and her three children followed a year later. They all survived to liberation in February 1945, but just before Anne and her family sailed for the United States she learnt that her husband, Stephen, had been accidentally killed by an American bomb in his civilian camp in Hong Kong in January 1945.
Contrary perhaps to expectation, Paul Esmérian and Anne Balfour did not marry after the war. She married the well-known English music critic and BBC music administrator, Sir William Glock; and he married a Dutch woman – they later divorced and there were no children.Both in occupied Manila and in the camp Esmérian kept a vivid and perceptive diary of the harsh life and worsening conditions around him. Published in France in 1980, it deserves to be better known to an English-speaking audience and, to coincide with the 70th anniversary of our liberation, I have now translated and edited it under the title, A Free Frenchman under the Japanese: The War Diary of Paul Esmérian, Manila, Philippines, 1941-1945. Published by Matador in the UK, this English version of the diary is also available worldwide through usual retailers and booksellers including Amazon.
Bestselling author Bruce Henderson’s new book, Rescue at Los Baños is now available on Amazon and other websites. The history and conditions of Los Baños Internment Camp are detailed, but the rescue of the 2,147 American and Allied prisoners is the highlight of the book. Some of the internees mentioned in the book include Ben Edwards, Dr. Dana Nance, Jerry and Margaret Sams, Terry Santos, Margie Whitaker and Dorothy Still. The appendix includes the camp roster originally compiled by Carol Terry in February 1945.
While researching the background of Santo Tomas internee Blakey Borthwick Laycock, who was executed by the Japanese in 1942, I came across a 2013 article titled War camp mass has Aussie premiere about a song for the internees written by entertainer Dave Harvey and composer Mario Bakerini-Booth.
According to the article, “It was absolutely predictable that Harvey and Mario Bakerini-Booth became great friends. Not long after the Easter mass was performed, Mario wrote the music for Internee Song while Harvey wrote the lyrics.
It was presented at a camp concert for the first time on May 22, 1943. Later its performance was banned, though internees continued to sing the words and hum the music out of the earshot of their Japanese guards.”
We live a life that’s new to us
Most of us here were strangers
Our habits and customs were numerous
We’ve survived these communal dangers.
You may be a Pole or American, English or Scotch or Dutch
But whatever your nationality
It doesn’t matter much,
For we’re internees of Santo Tomas
And we’re all resolved to pull the load together.
We’re ready now to put it across
And we’re ready to help in fair or stormy weather
Our troubles may be many
But we’re over 3,000-strong
Dark clouds are hovering over us
But they won’t be there for long
For there’ll come a wind that will blow those clouds away
And scatter them till they’re lost
It’s coming across the water
It’s blowing from every quarter
To us internees of Santo Tomas.
For we’re internees of Santo Tomas
And we’re all resolved to pull the load together.
I will try to get a recording of this song to share through this website, since it demonstrates the spirit of the internees.
Two recent articles detail the role of the Philippines in helping Jews escape the Holocaust by allowing them to migrate to the Philippines:
How the Philippines saved 1,200 Jews during the Holocaust, by Madison Park, appeared on CNN Online on 12 February 2015. Photos, videos and commentary by Lotte Cassel Hershfield are featured. Posted on philSTAR, on the same day, was Philippines to the rescue: 6 tales of Jews’ escape from Nazis, by Camille Diola. The six people referenced are Hans Hoeffler, Ralph Preiss, Margot Cassel Pins, Gordon Lester, Mary Faquhar and Celia “Topsy” Black.
For more information about this topic:
- Escape to Manila : From Nazi Tyranny to Japanese Terror, 2003, by Frank Ephraim
- Rescue in the Philippines : Refuge from the Holocaust, 2013 documentary
The reminiscences of George Fisher appear in the appeared today in The Frederick News-Post. The article, titled Interned Americans freed 70 years ago with help of Frederick veteran, describes what Fisher, then a 25-year-old Army private with the 1st Calvary Division, experienced the night that the American tanks broke through the gates of Santo Tomas Internment Camp on 3 February 1945. The short article can be read at this link.
Another article appears today on GMA News Online, Survivors return to PHL 70 years after liberation from UST prison camp. The article begins “for three years during World War II, American Kathy Elfstrom Cronquist lived on the grounds of the University of Santo Tomas, which the Japanese occupiers had turned into a prison camp for over 4,000 American and British civilians living in Manila.
Cronquist was one of the former prisoners of war who visited UST on Tuesday, exactly 70 years since Filipino and American forces liberated the Santo Tomas Internment Camp (STIC) on February 3, 1945.” This article can be read at this link.
Another short article, from Coconuts Manila, is titled 20 internees and families to visit UST today on Battle of Manila anniversary. Unfortunately, it doesn’t name the 20 internees who made this trip, but, luckily, there is a follow-up story which also appears: Battle of Manila survivors, 70 years later. This article profiles Joan Bennett Chapman, Roi Doolan, Tim Crosby, Gerry Ann Schwede and Sascha Jean Weinzheimer Jansen. Click the article titles above to link to the online stories.
Other stories that appeared recently include the Philippine Daily Inquirer article titled “Seize the day” people: Kids of war revisit UST (former internees mentioned include George Baker) and Muscatine man recalls liberating camp 70 years ago this week, which details the reminiscences of former Pfc. Bob Harrison on the STIC liberation and the Battle of Manila.
The Victoria Advocate, of Victoria, Texas, recently ran a 4-part series on an internee family, focusing mainly on daughter, Eileen Aaron. The five members of the family were Eileen Dorothy Aaron, Jean Margaret Aaron, John David Aaron, John Maurice Aaron and Margaret Elizabeth Tyre Aaron. The series covers a lot of territory and has several photographs and maps.
The links to the Woman of War series, from the Victoria Advocate (Victoria, Texas), December 2014, are listed below: