Three Canadian Priests added to “In Memoriam”

After some recent research, I have added Catholic Fathers Henri Desjardins, Omer Leblanc and Leo Poirier to the In Memoriam page on this site. They were working on Mindanao as members of the Société des Missions-Étrangères du Québec (Societas pro missionibus exteris Provinciae Quebecensis’), shortened P.M.E. None of these men were ever interned and a fourth member, Fr. Leo Lamy, died of malaria, on 19 December 1942.

6 of the PME Fathers who escaped the Japanese and internment.  Baganga, 1942.

6 of the PME Fathers who escaped the Japanese and internment. Baganga, 1942.


Courtesy of the UCAN directory:

“When war broke out in December 1941, parochial work came almost to a standstill. In Davao only four PME Fathers were left with Bishop del Rosario, together with the Jesuits Father Garcia and Father Alfredo Paguia. Out of the 23 PME Fathers at that time, seven escaped and took refuge among the pagan tribe of the East Coast of Davao, while the rest were taken prisoners and sent to the concentration camps at University of Santo Tomas in Manila and University of the Philippines in Los Banos, Laguna. Four PME priests died during this period. Father Leo Lamy died of malaria in San Pedro. Father Henri Desjardins disappeared mysteriously on his way from Manay to Caraga. Fathers Leo Poirier and Omer Leblanc who started their work in Santa Cruz were killed by the Japanese soldiers who took them to Pikit, Cotabato province, as prisoners. They were later executed as spys.”

For more information:

More articles involving former internees

Following are some 2015-2016 articles involving former internees of the civilian Philippine camps:

The STIC Internees’ Song

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.

Philippines’ role in saving Jews during the Holocaust

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:

Articles on 70-year anniversary of STIC Liberation

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.

“Woman of War” profiles the Aaron Family

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:

Rod Hall WWII collection now online!

Filipinas Heritage LibraryRoderick Hall, a former STIC internee, has announced that his collection, Roderick Hall Collection on World War II in the Philippines, is now available online on the Filipinas Heritage Library website. According to the introduction to the collection, by Prof. Ricardo T. Jose, “The Roderick Hall Collection is a unique and important private library of books and papers dealing with World War II and the Japanese Occupation of the Philippines. The bulk of the titles are personal memoirs, many privately published and difficult to find, from various vantage points: American, Filipino, Japanese and also French, Australian, British and other nationalities. Extremely well covered are the prisoner of war and Allied internee experiences, but there is also much on the Philippine defense campaign of 1941-1942, the guerrilla resistance movement and the life under the Japanese. There is also much on the battle of Manila in 1945.

Rod Hall himself was eyewitness to the Japanese occupation and its horrors: born in Manila of a Scottish father and a Spanish-Scottish mother (a McMicking), he experienced the luxury of pre-war Manila life and witnessed the disintegration of this during the war. He experienced the terrors of the Battle of Manila; his mother and several other relatives were killed by the Japanese.”

For more information, please link to the collection.

Rupert Wilkinson article in The Guardian

Yesterday, the Guardian published Rupert Wilkins’ “My father was a wartime spy.” It’s a “good read” which details how his father, Gerald Wilkinson, escaped the Philippines and served in British military intelligence during the war. It also contains some information about life in Santo Tomas Internment Camp (STIC). For the full article, link to http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/jan/11/my-father-was-a-wartime-spy.