Only by the Grace of God now available!

Only by the Grace of God

Now available!

Former internee, Pamela Brink, has announced that her new book, Only by the Grace of God, is now available.  She and her family were interned in three camps during the War: Cebu, Santo Tomás , and Los Baños Internment Camp.

Pamela was only eight-years-old when first interned, but the book also includes the memoirs of her late brothers, Robert and John Brink. The family all survived the War and were repatriated on the M.S. Torrens, arriving in San Francisco on 15 May 1945.

The announcement at Amazon.com has this to say about the book:

Three siblings from the Philippines wrote down what they remembered about being imprisoned by the Japanese during World War II.

Pamela J. Brink, Robert A. Brink, and John W. Brink all survived the ordeal, but only one of them–Pamela–is still alive today. She shares their experiences in this memoir that recounts the horrors of war as seen through the eyes of children.

At age thirteen, John W. was the oldest when they were captured, and his account is likely the most accurate of all three.

Robert and Pamela’s versions are different as they saw everything through younger, more fearful eyes. All three, however, remember being overjoyed when they were rescued from the Los Baños prison camp.

When they were freed, everyone wanted to hear about atrocities, but their slow starvation could not compete with the horrors that Jews suffered in Nazi Germany. Most ignored their tales, and over time, they stopped telling them.

Three adults look back at their childhood experiences as prisoners of war, how they survived, and how they continued on in Only by the Grace of God.

Guerrilla Priest

Guerrilla Priest: An American Family in World War II Philippines

2016 book now available

Stephen Griffiths’ book, Guerrilla Priest,  is now available. Griffiths based his book on the unpublished memoirs of his parents, Alfred and Ernestine Griffiths.

According to the Dancing Moon Press website,

“Guerrilla Priest” captures a special moment in the history of the Pacific War: the formation of the first guerrilla resistance against the Japanese in northern Luzon, Philippines. Major Walter Cushing, Chief Puyao of the Tingguian village of Balbalasang, and Al Griffiths, an Episcopal priest, were key figures in this resistance. Guerrilla Priest describes the events that led to the ambush at Lamonan—disastrous for the Japanese—and the aftermath of that ambush for those who participated. The book also provides an intimate glimpse of the American colonial experience in the Philippines, its impact on the Tingguian people, and a portrait of Japanese soldiers and their commanders that defies stereotype. But perhaps most significantly, it tells the story of how a young American family—Al Griffiths, his wife Nessie, and their infant daughter Katy—managed to survive a horrific war.

Paperback copies of this book are available direct from the author: Stephen Griffiths. Paperbacks as well as eBooks are also available through Amazon.com or ordered through independent book sellers

Hell to Happiness — another former internee perspective

Hell to Happiness, by Patricia V.C. DennisIn late 2015, Australian Patricia V.C. Dennis released her memoir, Hell to Happiness : A Concentration Camp Childhood to a Life of Abundance. Patricia was known as Patricia Veronica Jones, when she was interned with her family in Santo Tomas. Currently available in a Kindle edition, the “book is a true story full of passion, hope and inspiration. International author Patricia Dennis shares what it was like to spend three and a half years growing up in a Japanese concentration camp in the Philippines. Having miraculously survived, she went on to achieve great personal and business triumphs. Patricia’s amazing story provides beautiful lessons on how trust, faith and self-belief can take you from Hell to Happiness.”

Patricia and her family were repatriated to Australia on S.S. David C. Shanks, leaving Tacloban, Leyte, on 26 March 1945, arriving in Townsville, Australia, on 5 April 1945.

Thomas Grover with granddaughters Patricia and Jacqueline Jones, who were released with their parents Australia, 1945

Thomas Grover with granddaughters Patricia and Jacqueline Jones


(courtesy of Argus Newspaper Collection of Photographs, State Library of Victoria)

July 23rd MacArthur Memorial Symposium on Pacific War

On Saturday, July 23, 2016, the MacArthur Memorial, in Norfolk, Virginia, will kick off the United States’ Commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of World War II by hosting a free symposium, book signing and premiere of Spyron-AV Manila’s new film documentary about the guerrilla war in the Philippines.

Please join esteemed authors Walter Borneman, James Duffy and Dr. Theresa Kaminski as they explore the war in General Douglas MacArthur’s Southwest Pacific Area. Each lecture will be followed by a book signing of each author’s new book. The day will finish with Philippine Director Bani Logrono’s highly acclaimed, award winning documentary Unsurrendered 2.

MacArthur Memorial 2016 Symposium

MacArthur Memorial 2016 Symposium

For more detailed information about the event, please visit the MacArthur Memorial website.

Any questions? Please contact Jim Zobel via email at james.zobel@norfolk.gov or phone at 757.441.2965.

About the speakers:

Walter R. Borneman
James P. Duffy
Dr. Theresa Kaminski

New book on Manila Espionage

Theresa Kaminski’s new book, Angels of the Underground: The American Women who Resisted the Japanese in the Philippines in World War II, is now available. The abstract on Amazon.com reads:

When the Japanese began their brutal occupation of the Philippines in January 1942, 76,000 ill and starving Filipino and American troops tried to hold out on Bataan and Corregidor. That spring, after having been forced to surrender, most of those men were thrown into Japanese POW camps while dozens of others slipped away to organize guerrilla forces. During the three violent years of occupation that followed, Allied sympathizers in Manila smuggled supplies and information to the guerrillas and the prisoners.

Theresa Kaminski’s Angels of the Underground tells the story of four American women who were part of this little-known resistance movement: Gladys Savary, Claire Phillips, Yay Panlilio, and Peggy Utinsky – all incredibly adept at skirting occupation authorities to support the Allied war effort. The nature of their clandestine work meant that the truth behind their dangerous activities had to be obscured as long as the Japanese occupied the Philippines. If caught, they would be imprisoned, tortured, and executed. Throughout the Pacific War, these four women remained hidden behind a veil of deceit and subterfuge.

An impressive work of scholarship grounded in archival research, FBI documents, and memoirs, Angels of the Underground illuminates the complex political dimensions of the occupied Philippines and its importance to the war effort in the Pacific. Kaminski’s narrative sheds light on the Japanese-occupied city of Manila; the Bataan Death March and subsequent incarceration of American military prisoners in camps O’Donnell and Cabanatuan; and the formation of guerrilla units in the mountains of Luzon.

Angels of the Underground offers the compelling tale of four ordinary American women propelled by extraordinary circumstances into acts of heroism, and makes a significant contribution to the work on women’s wartime experiences. Through the lives of Gladys, Yay, Claire, and Peggy, who never wavered in their belief that it was their duty as patriotic American women to aid the Allied cause, Kaminski highlights how women have always been active participants in war, whether or not they wear a military uniform.

Angels of the Underground: The American Women who Resisted the Japanese in the Philippines in World War II

Angels of the Underground

Theresa Kaminski’s other books include Prisoners in Paradise: American Women in the Wartime South Pacific and Citizen of Empire: Ethel Thomas Herold, an American in the Philippines. She is also co-author of the book Enduring What Cannot Be Endured: Memoir of a Woman Medical Aide in the Philippines in World War II , published in 2000.

Santo Tomás: A Tale of Two Families

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.

Free Frenchman

Free Frenchman

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.

Los Baños book now available!

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.

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.

New book on Santa Tomás by Ex-Internee!

Ex-STIC internee, Rupert Wilkinson, has just released his new book, Surviving a Japanese Internment Camp: Life and Liberation at Santo Tomás, Manila, in World War II

Surviving-a-Japanese-Internment-Camp-2013-WilkinsonDuring World War II, the Japanese imprisoned more American civilians at Manila’s Santo Tomás prison camp than anywhere else, along with British and other nationalities. Placing the camp’s story in the wider history of the Pacific war, this book tells how it went through a drastic change, from good conditions in the early days to impending mass starvation, before its dramatic rescue by US Army “flying columns.”

Interned as a small boy with his mother and older sister, the author shows the many ways in which the camp’s internees handled imprisonment – and their liberation afterwards. He uses a wealth of Santo Tomas memoirs and diaries, as well as interviews with ex-internees and veteran army liberators.

The book reveals how children re-invented their own society, while adults coped with crowded dormitories, evaded sex restrictions, and smuggled in food. It shows how humor kept up morale; and how a strong internee government dealt with its Japanese overlords as they tightened the screws. Using portraits of Japanese officials, the book explores their attitudes and behavior, ranging from sadistic cruelty to humane cooperation, and asks philosophical questions about atrocity and moral responsibility.

Rupert Wilkinson is Emeritus Professor of American Studies and History at the University of Sussex (UK). He has published ten books on aspects of American and British society.

Surviving a Japanese Internment Camp: Life and Liberation at Santo Tomás, Manila, in World War II

McFarland ISBN 978-0-7864-6570-5 . Also e-book.
With 43 photos and internee drawings, and three maps.