2019 Books!

Following are the books, fiction and non-fiction, released in 2019 that involved the civilian internment camps or World War II in the Philippines. The abstracts are provided either by the author or the publisher. I hope to make this annual review of books a regular column.

A Child’s Life — Interrupted by the Imperial Japanese Army
by Robert Anthony Wheeler, Santo Tomás and Los Baños internee

Childs-Life-2019-Robert-Wheeler-coverRobert A. Wheeler was born in Manila, the Philippine Islands, where his normal childhood changed drastically when the Imperial Japanese Air Force bombed the city on December 8, 1941, the day after their planes destroyed United States battleships at Pearl Harbor in the Hawaiian Islands.Bob, his younger brother, Albert, their American father and German stepmother were incarcerated first at Santo Tomas University and later in the Los Banos internment camp, where they spent more than two years with two thousand other Allied men, women, and children, trying to survive on sparse diets under brutal captors.Then, on February 23, 1945, “Angels” came from heaven above to liberate the internees held at Los Banos. Paratroopers from the 11th Airborne Division, particularly the 511th Parachute Infantry Regiment, rescued the prisoners, who were immediately evacuated to U.S. lines aboard Amtracs by the 672nd Amphibious Tractor Battalion.Repatriated to the United States in April 1945, the family finally settled in California but never forgot the men who saved their lives.

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Along the Broken Bay [Fiction]
by Flora J. Solomon

December 1941. War has erupted in the Pacific, spelling danger for Gina Capelli Thorpe, an American expat living in Manila. When the Japanese invade and her husband goes missing, Gina flees with her daughter to the Zambales Mountains to avoid capture—or worse.

Desperate for money, medicine, and guns, the resistance recruits Gina to join their underground army and smuggles her back to Manila. There, she forges a new identity and opens a nightclub, where seductive beauties sing, dance, and tease secrets out of high-ranking Japanese officers while the wildly successful club and its enemy patrons help fund the resistance.

But operating undercover in the spotlight has Gina struggling to stay a step ahead of the Japanese. She’s risked everything to take a stand, but her club is a house of cards in the eye of a storm. Can Gina keep this delicate operation running long enough to outlast the enemy, or is she on a sure path to defeat that will put her family, her freedom, or even her life at risk?

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Wonks [Fiction]
by William Reese Hamilton, Santo Tomás internee

World War II, The Philippines. Johnny Oldfield tells what it’s like to grow up in a Japanese prison camp, his pivotal teenage years filled with danger and defeat, adventure and intrigue, cruelty and betrayal, starvation and death, survival and liberation.Johnny calls himself a WONK (from the Chinese won gau, yellow dog) a mongrel running with a pack of rebellious kids and viewing his society from the ground up. Separated from his father by the Japanese invasion, he gets his life lessons from a diverse cast of characters: his mother Ruth, a nurse with a strong and independent spirit; Harry Barnes, a storyteller who arrives from China carrying the urn of a friend’s ashes; Southy Jack, an ex-pro boxer who trains boys in the manly art; Polecat, a mestizo pal with an all-consuming hatred for the Japanese; the Colonel, a wise old plantation owner who gives advice on survival; Haverford, a disgruntled alcoholic from Manila’s high society; and Abiko, the feared officer of the Japanese camp guard.This dramatic tale is played out in the heart of Manila, a city once called “the Pearl of the Orient,” now being destroyed by massive bombing, strafing, artillery barrages and mortar attacks.

William Reese Hamilton spent his childhood in North China and the Philippines, where he and his family were captured and imprisoned by the Japanese Army for more than three years in Santo Tomas Internment Camp, Manila. Reese has translated this experience into a new work of fiction, Wonks, inspired closely by the years he spent locked away in Santo Tomas, facing danger and defeat, adventure and intrigue, cruelty and betrayal, starvation and death, survival and, ultimately, liberation.

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A Reckoning : Philippine Trials of Japanese War Criminals
by Sharon W. Chamberlain

After World War II, thousands of Japanese throughout Asia were put on trial for war crimes. Examination of postwar trials is now a thriving area of research, but Sharon W. Chamberlain is the first to offer an authoritative assessment of the legal proceedings convened in the Philippines. These were trials conducted by Asians, not Western powers, and centered on the abuses suffered by local inhabitants rather than by prisoners of war. Her impressively researched work reveals the challenges faced by the Philippines, as a newly independent nation, in navigating issues of justice amid domestic and international pressures.

Chamberlain highlights the differing views of Filipinos and Japanese about the trials. The Philippine government aimed to show its commitment to impartial proceedings with just outcomes. In Japan, it appeared that defendants were selected arbitrarily, judges and prosecutors were biased, and lower-ranking soldiers were punished for crimes ordered by their superior officers. She analyzes the broader implications of this divergence as bilateral relations between the two nations evolved and contends that these competing narratives were reimagined in a way that, paradoxically, aided a path toward postwar reconciliation.

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Philippine Birthmark: The Story of William Singleton Carroll His birth and first three years as a prisoner of the Japanese in the Philippines 1941-45
by McLean Goodpasture Carroll

Philippine Birthmark tells the story of William Singleton Carroll’s birth and first three years as an unwilling captive of the Japanese in Manila during WWII. Little is known of the bombing of the Philippines taking place the same day as the attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941. This narrative will shed light on the conditions suffered by many Americans in Manila at Santo Tomas Internment Camp from January 1942 to February 1945.

Read the review by Angus Lorenzen published in Beyond the Wire (The BACEPOW newsletter).

The STIC Tissue Issue, Part II: The Women’s Perspective

By Prof. Martin Meadows

INTRODUCTION. This is the second of a two-part exploration of a heretofore generally (and perhaps understandably) neglected subject. Its focus is on the shortages of sanitary supplies for the WWII prisoners of the Nipponese Empire in Manila’s Santo Tomas Internment Camp (STIC) — more precisely, on how the camp’s roughly 4,000 inmates coped with the problems caused by those shortages. Both Parts I and II concentrate attention on bathroom tissue (a “polite” term for toilet paper); and in addition Part II, centered on the women’s side of the story and more extensive in scope, takes into account the sanitary-napkins aspect of the subject. As to its results, here is a concise judgment in the form of a broad overview: Sufficient information surfaced during the course of this survey to enable it to develop several major (and I think credible) conclusions — but of course it is subject to modification if justified by the discovery of additional information.
[Note: Part II on the whole is self-contained, though it does include various references to passages in Part I.] [Link to Part I]
[Note: I have followed herein the now acceptable usage of “Santo Tomas” rather than “Santo Tomás.”]
Continue reading

The STIC Tissue Issue*

By Prof. Martin Meadows

Recently I saw the following aphorism in an emailed collection of similar expressions: “You never appreciate what you have till it’s gone. Toilet paper is a good example.” That saying is quite amusing; however, the reason I mention it is because that is precisely what reminded me of, and thereupon gave me the idea to revisit, the situation that existed in Santo Tomas Internment Camp (a.k.a. STIC) regarding the rarely if ever discussed subject of toilet paper, now known more politely as bathroom tissue — hereinafter to be referred to as BT. I decided to explore the topic partly for the edification (?) of those who are unaware of it; partly in the hope that it would elicit similar recollections from others (especially women, whose perspective unfortunately is necessarily missing here); partly for my own records; and primarily because I was unable to find any treatment of it elsewhere. That is surprising, considering that BT is almost the equal of food and drink as a necessity of life (he said tongue-in-cheek). To be specific, I found no discussion of it in the four principal sources of information about camp life that I consulted for this brief survey. They include three primary sources (primary in the sense that they (1) were written by internees, and (2) are about STIC in general rather than personal accounts centered on the authors), and one secondary source. These are cited next in a short bibliographic detour.
Continue reading

John “Jigger” Jay, accountant and cartoonist

By profession, British internee, John Leslie “Jigger” Jay, was an accountant. But he also proved to be an apt cartoonist of daily life at Santo Tomás, and later Los Baños internment camps. His most prominent work was in How We Took It, poems by Alfred J. Stahl and published in New York in October 1945. Jigger traveled on the S.S. Admiral E.W. Eberle leaving Manila on 10 April 1945, arriving in San Pedro, California, on 2 May 1945. He was repatriated on the R.M.S. Scythia leaving Halifax, Nova Scotia, on 10 May 1945, arriving in Liverpool on 25 May 1945, en route to Banstead, Surrey.

Illustration from "How We Took It"

Two pages from “How We Took It,” 1945, by Alfred J. Stahl and John L. “Jigger” Jay

STIC place-mat, by John "Jigger" Jay

STIC place-mat, created by John “Jigger” Jay.
Click on image to expand to see the great detail.


If anyone has more information about Jigger or his work, please use our “Comments” form.

British Commonwealth Civilian Deaths in the Philippines

During World War II, there were approximately 93 civilian deaths in the Philippines from British Commonwealth countries. They are broken down as follows: 67 British, 13 Canadians, 11 Australians and 2 New Zealanders.

The following table details the date and cause of death for each person, if known. After 8 December 1941, a small number joined either the guerrillas or the U.S. Army. Subsequently, a number of them were killed by the Japanese or died on “Hell Ships” while being transported to work camps outside of the Philippines.

All of these names will be incorporated into the next revision of the “In Memoriam” page.

NAMENATIONALITYINTERNMENTDATE OF DEATHCAUSE OF DEATH
Aaron, Margaret Elizabeth BritishSanto Tomás Internment Camp1944-06-11Carcinoma of uterus
Andrews, ElviraBritishSanto Tomás Internment Camp1944-01-24Died of coronary thrombosis
Aplin, Ada AloysiaBritishSanto Tomás Internment Camp1945-02-03Missing, believed killed by the Japanese
Baker, Mary KleinBritishSanto Tomás Internment Camp1945-10-10Died of Tuberculosis
Boniface, Mark BritishSanto Tomás Internment Camp1945-01-15Died of carcinoma of tuberculosis
Bridle, Arthur AustralianSanto Tomás Internment Camp1945-02-03Died of heart disease
Burwell, Walter SimondCanadianSanto Tomás Internment Camp1944-12-30Died of tuberculosis
Carpenter, William GeorgeAustralianSanto Tomás Internment Camp1942-08-08Died of paralysis
Carter, Bessie EnaAustralianSanto Tomás Internment Camp1942-12-16Died of pneumonia
Clear, Charles Arnold BritishSanto Tomás Internment Camp1945-02-05Died of coronary occlusion
Cooke, Doris AnneBritishSanto Tomás Internment Camp1942-10-17Died of septicemia
Cooper, Arthur Joseph BritishSanto Tomás Internment Camp1945-01-04Died of beri-beri
Crichton, Alexander MartinBritishDavao POW Camp1944-09-07Died in the sinking of the Shinyo Maru
Crook, Thomas H.BritishPOW Camp 7 Corregidor1944-10-24Died in the sinking of the Arisan Maru
Cruz, Emmie Davis BritishSanto Tomás Internment Camp1945-02-09Died of malnutrition
Deuchars, William McGregorBritishNot interned1942-04-16Died as a result of the sinking of the Yu Sang in Mariveles Harbour
Douglas, Francis (Father)New ZealanderNot interned1943-08-27Executed by the Japanese
Farnes, Walter StanleyBritishSanto Tomás Internment Camp1942-06-07Died of pneumonia
Fletcher, Thomas Henry BritishSanto Tomás Internment Camp1942-02-15Executed by the Japanese for trying to escape
Fong, Olive AustralianSanto Tomás Internment Camp1943-05-09Died of tuberculosis
Fox, Hubert ThorntonBritishNot Interned as of July 1, 19441945-02-12Killed by the Japanese
Fox, Nattie Perez RubioBritishNot interned1945-02-12Killed by the Japanese
Gamble, Cecil Reginald "Rex"AustralianNot interned -- Guerrilla1943-09-30Killed in enemy action
Garrett, Guy WatkinsBritishNot interned1942-03-01Killed by the Japanese
Gillies, John BritishSanto Tomás Internment Camp1942-08-07Died of heart failure
Gomm, Albert B.CanadianCabanatuan POW Camp1944-10-24Died in the sinking of the Arisan Maru
Grant, WilliamBritishCabanatuan POW Camp1944-10-11Died in the sinking of the Arisan Maru
Hair, HelenBritishNot Interned as of July 1, 19441945-02-12Killed by the Japanese
Hair, John McGavinBritishCabanatuan POW Camp1945-01-25Died in the sinking of the Enoura Maru
Hall, Consuelo McMickingBritishNot interned1945-01-31Executed by the Japanese
Harris, Winifred Jean BritishSanto Tomás Internment Camp1943-03-26Died of tuberculosis
Harvey, Charles StevensonBritishSanto Tomás Internment Camp1944-07-24Died of heart failure, anemia
Herridge, James Russell BritishSanto Tomás Internment Camp1945-03-11Unknown
Higham, Frederick James BritishSanto Tomás Internment Camp1945-01-25Died of beri-beri
Hill, Enoch BritishSanto Tomás Internment Camp1942-01-30Died of anemia
Hocking, Leonard WilliamBritishDavao POW Camp1944-09-07Died in the sinking of the Shinyo Maru
Hoey, Thomas BritishSanto Tomás Internment Camp1942-08-29Died of heart failure
Hollyer, William George BritishLos Banos Internment Camp1944-12-09Died of hernia
Johnston, AbagailBritishNot interned1942-04-16Died of Tuberculosis and malnutrition
Johnston, JeanBritishNot interned1942-02-05Died of heart disease
Kingcome, Ernest AstellBritishBaguio Internment Camp1943-06-14Died of malnutrition
LaFerriere, Lucien (Rev.)CanadianNational Psychopathic Hospital1945-02-09Executed by the Japanese
Lamy, Leo (Rev.)CanadianNot interned1942-12-19Died of Malaria
Laycock, Blakey BorthwickAustralianSanto Tomás Internment Camp1942-02-15Executed by the Japanese for trying to escape
Lea, Edward BritishSanto Tomás Internment Camp1945-02-24Died of malnutrition
Leblanc, Omer (Rev.)CanadianNot interned1942-08-15Executed by the Japanese
Lees, James AndrewBritishNot interned1942-04-16Killed by the Japanese
Luyendyk, Mary WilhelminaCanadianSanto Tomás Internment Camp1945-03-26Unknown
Lynch, Thomas T.AustralianCabanatuan POW Camp1944-12-15Died in sinking of the Oryoku Maru
MacGavin, William BritishSanto Tomás Internment Camp1943-11-29Died of high blood pressure
Mahoney, James CyrilBritishSanto Tomás Internment Camp1945-02-09Died of malnutrition
Marcuson, PaulBritishSanto Tomás Internment Camp1944-08-04Died of duodenal ulcer
Mason, John RobertBritishSanto Tomás Internment Camp1945-04-02Unknown
Maxwell, Stanley EdwardBritishDavao POW Camp1944-09-07Died in the sinking of the Shinyo Maru
McAvoy, Dora Blanche AustralianSanto Tomás Internment Camp1943-11-01Died of cancer
McCann, Henry EdwardBritishNot interned1942-05-03Died of tumors
McCannus, William BritishSanto Tomás Internment Camp1944-09-04Died of unrecorded
Miller, Robert MacVinnieBritishSanto Tomás Internment Camp1944-05-07Died of cardiac arrest
Morris, Garnet Green IICanadianBaguio Internment Camp1945-01-09Died in the sinking of the Enoura Maru
Morris, Margaret Helen "Dolly"CanadianBaguio Internment Camp1944-01-27Heart attack
Murray, William R.CanadianSanto Tomás Internment Camp1944-04-26Died of unrecorded
Newson, Clement Charles BritishSanto Tomás Internment Camp1942-07-14Died of cancer
Newton, Alexander Cochrane BritishSanto Tomás Internment Camp1942-04-28Died of coronary thrombosis
O'Kelly, Philomene Ursula (Sister)BritishNot interned1945-02-10Unknown
Palmentar, StanleyBritishSanto Tomás Internment Camp1945-02-10Died of malnutrition
Peacock, Charles SamuelBritishSanto Tomás Internment Camp1945-01-30Died of beri-beri
Poirier, Leo (Rev.)CanadianNot interned1942-08-15Executed by the Japanese
Ralston, Robert Sr.BritishSanto Tomas Internment Camp1945-02-10Died of malnutrition
Redfern, VictoriaBritishNot interned1945-02-14Killed in action
Robyns-Owen, OwenBritishSanto Tomás Internment Camp1945-01-09Accidental death
Salwood, HerbertBritishSanto Tomás Internment Camp1945-02-10Died of malnutrition
Shaw, John RoyCanadianSanto Tomas Internment Camp1945-01-21Died of old age, starvation
Shrubsole, Cyril Arthur JohnBritishNot interned1944-01-05Presumed killed by the Japanese
Struth, James BarkerBritishSanto Tomás Internment Camp1944-06-26Unknown
Telford, William AustralianBaguio Internment Camp1943-05-03Chronic prostatic hypertropy cardia vascular renal disease
Tomkins, John FrederickBritishSanto Tomás Internment Camp1945-02-09Malnutrition; Cancer of intestines
Trimble, Paul HenryAustralianBaguio Internment Camp1942-08-11Ciliana of brain
Walford, Guy BritishSanto Tomas Internment Camp1945-01-14Died of coronary occlusion
Walford, Harold "Laddie"BritishNot Interned as of July 1, 19441945-02-09Missing -- presumed killed by the Japanese
Walford, Nancy Page "Dyney"BritishSanto Tomás Internment Camp1945-02-09Missing -- presumed killed by the Japanese.
Walker, Herbert Bateman BritishSanto Tomás Internment Camp1942-11-16Old age
Wallace, WilfredBritishSanto Tomás Internment Camp1942-08-01Died of pneumonia
Webb, Mary LumleyBritishNot Interned as of July 1, 19441945-06-23Unknown
Weeks, Henry Edward BritishSanto Tomás Internment Camp1942-02-15Executed by the Japanese for trying to escape
Weichel, RichardBritishSanto Tomás Internment Camp1945-02-10Died of malnutrition
Weir, John N.CanadianSanto Tomás Internment Camp1942-09-14Died of pneumonia
Whittle, Harold AllanBritishNot interned1942-04-09Died in the sinking of the Yu Sang in Mariveles Harbour.
Wightman, George M.BritishDavao POW Camp1944-09-07Died in the sinking of the Shinyo Maru
Williams, Caroline Ada "Carrie"AustralianSanto Tomás Internment Camp1944-12-07Died of unrecorded
Williams, Hugh HoskingNew ZealanderLos Baños Internment Camp1945-01-01Acute colitis
Williams, Thomas EllisBritishSanto Tomás Internment Camp1942-09-12Died of pulmonary oedema
Woodfine, RobertBritishSanto Tomás Internment Camp1945-03-31Unknown
Yearsley, Robin W.CanadianTokyo POW Camp (Shinjuku)1945-01-26Unknown

More online articles involving internees

Following are some more 2017 articles involving former civilian internees of the Philippine prison camps. Click the title to link to the full text:

Some 2017 articles involving former civilian internees

Following are some 2017 articles involving former civilian internees of the Philippine prison camps. Click the title to link to the full text:

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.

Jim Crosby relates his STIC memories

Former child internee, James Crosby, talks about his Santo Tomas Internment Camp memories in a recent San Diego Union-Tribune article titled Internee has different memories of war. Jim was 9-years-old when he and his parents, Ralph and Flora, were interned. Ralph was a mining company executive who stayed after Liberation to help rebuild the destroyed mines.

According to the article,

Within three weeks, the interned schoolteachers set up classes again in the university’s chemistry labs. Every subject was taught except American history, which was forbidden by the Japanese.

Crosby didn’t much enjoy going to school, but it passed the time. He said he often despaired that the internment would never end. For distraction, he and his buddies played cops and robbers for hours.

“We didn’t have any guns, so we’d take the long beans from acacia trees and cut them up into little pieces and throw them at each other,” he said.

The article includes two contemporaneous photos of Jim and his family. The full article is available on the San Diego Union-Tribune website.

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)