Sally Meadows DAR presentation

Sally Meadows, 2024 presentationCPOW Commander, Sally Meadows, delivered a talk on 19 January 2024 titled Former Civilian POWs and their internment by the Japanese during Japan’s Occupation of the Philippines in World War II. The presentation was sponsored by the Los Altos chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR). A short review of the talk was recently published in the Los Altos Town Crier under the title Sharing Stories: Sally Meadows recounts family POW experience.

Sally recounted the civilian internee experience in the Philippines drawing on historical records and the stories of her father, Martin Meadows, who, with his parents, were interned in Santo Tomás Internment Camp (STIC) from January 1942 through 3 February 1945.

The meeting was very well attended and the presentation generated much discussion. The full presentation is currently online (see link below)

Link to the article at the Los Altos Town Crier.
Link to the one-hour 19 January presentation.

STIC kitchen workers

Santo Tomás kitchen workers

Leanne Blinzler Noe

Leanne Blinzer Noe, 2024 photoFormer internee Leanne Blinzler Noe details her family’s experiences in Santo Tomás Internment Camp (STIC) in a recent article at HistoryNet titled At Eight-Years-Old this Girl Survived the Japanese Occupation of the Philippines, written by Barbara Noe Kennedy in January 2024.

Leanne and her younger sister, Virginia, were both born in California where their father, Lee Edward Blinzler, was working for a mining company in Yreka. After that mine closed, Lee moved the family to the Philippines. Soon after, Leanne’s mother died and Leanne and her sister were boarded at the Holy Ghost College, Manila, to be taken care of by German nuns. Leanne continues her story to tell how she, and her sister, eventually ended up in Santo Tomás Internment Camp (STIC) in December 1944.

The Blinzlers were repatriated on the U.S.S. Admiral W. L. Capps, leaving Leyte, 20 March 1945, arriving in San Francisco on 8 April 1945 (see additional passenger list for Lee Edward Blinzler).

In 2012 Leanne wrote the book MacArthur Came Back: A Little Girl’s Encounter With War in the Philippines.

The above photo is courtesy of Barbara Noe Kennedy and the article contains several other photographs covering before the War, during and after liberation in January 1945.

Link to the complete article online.

A WWII Manila Prison Camp’s Maestro of Mirth, by Martin Meadows

[Guest star Danny Kaye]

Little Theater Under the Stars. 1946, F. Stevens
[“The Little Theatre Under the Stars,” illus. from Santo Tomas Internment Camp, 1946, by Frederic H. Stevens]

PREFACE. The purpose of this Preface is to call attention to matters that otherwise might be overlooked in the main text, despite their relevance to this work.  Some of the following points might not seem to be worth mention, but they affected this study in one way or another, and they merit attention on that score.

    (1) Substantively, much of this narrative has been made possible by the invaluable research efforts of Cliff Mills of Philippine Internment renown; Maurice Francis, U.K. honcho of The Gang; and CPOW head Sally Meadows — all of whom, it should be noted, have similarly contributed to several of my other STIC articles.  Without their various and innumerable findings, this mini-biography would not have gotten off the ground (“mini” because it is a bit shorter than the typical printed volume).

    (2) Procedurally, it is essential to emphasize that, as far as is known, the subject of this chronicle did not write anything about himself, and nobody else has written about him either (other than brief comments).  Thus I was free to decide how to deal with the available material, published and online, unconstrained by existing works about the biographee.  Needless to say (he said needlessly), I handled that material in a completely objective — if not objectionable — manner (in my opinion).

    (3) To contextualize this mini-biography, it is essentially a spin-off from, and in one limited section a continuation of, an earlier article, one that led me to recognize the need for much more information on the biographee.  That article’s title, “STIC Signature Songs (and Sources),” will be cited herein as SSSS.  [Meadows (a)] 

    (4) Now to footnoting (mandatory for ex-academics).  Or rather, in this case, “text-noting” — names/titles and pages (if any) of sources are placed within the text; the sources in full are listed at the end (though not in scholarly-journal format).  Substantive comments are placed either at the ends of paragraphs, as [notes], or in SIDEBARS for less directly relevant material.  For online sources, n.p. (no page) and n.d. (no date) sometimes are necessary.  To simplify setup of the lengthy bibliography, italics are omitted there.

    (5) An episode of purely personal significance was a direct outgrowth of this account.  Initially it was to be included herein as a SIDEBAR, but instead it has appeared separately; its mention here is to call attention to its indirect relevance and online existence.  [Meadows (b)] 

    (6) Finally, an explanation is in order for the broad scope of this work, which, for the sake of thorough coverage, extensively discusses the various relationships (direct and indirect) between the biographee and several of his most consequential friends and/or associates.  My guiding assumption was that doing this study properly required doing it as exhaustively (and exhaustedly) as possible.  So much for preliminaries.

INTRODUCTION. During its 37-month existence in World War II (WWII) under Japanese control (1942-1945), Santo Tomas Internment Camp (STIC) in Manila usually contained about 4,000 civilian prisoners, mostly Americans, along with other Allied-country nationals, mostly British.  Almost all of those (non-infant) internees knew and respected one man in particular — a veteran professional showman named David Harvey MacTurk.  Few if any other internees matched his popularity. And since the end of WWII, likely thousands more, relatives and friends of former internees, have learned about him, for his renown remains unmatched within the internee community.  It derives from the fact that he had served as the Camp’s Mr. Entertainment — an iconic performer who had presided over and dispensed most of the programs that immeasurably buoyed the morale of his fellow internees throughout their captivity.  Thus he was admired by almost all of his fellow internees — almost, because he made no secret of his belief that the prisoners had been betrayed and deserted by the U.S. government, a view that did not sit well with those who disagreed with him.
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A Spooky STIC Short Story, by Martin Meadows

As I was searching for something else — which the computer had caused to join the “missing (online) persons” list), I ran across this ancient item from about a decade ago. It happens to be seasonably fashionable at the moment, and it is hereby posted to observe both Bat Appreciation Week (October 24-31) and Halloween.

Halloween graphicThe approach of Halloween occasionally brings reminders of a Halloween-type incident that occurred in STIC. In fact, it was actually in October (of 1944), because I clearly remember that U.S. bombing in the Manila area had started a few weeks earlier — on September 21 — and therefore a total blackout was in effect, which was strictly enforced. (I noted the occasion in my diary, but unfortunately it has long since been lost, as the result of a complicated series of events.) In any case, regardless of the exact date, the event developed as follows.

It was late in the evening, and a blackout was in effect, as noted, due to the bombing. Most internees were in their beds by that time, somewhere around 10 p.m. I had been talking with friends, as we often did, on the first floor of the Main Building, until we broke up and went our separate ways to our respective rooms. I started up the front stairs, accompanied by a couple of friends, who lived on the second floor. I then continued up the stairs alone — slowly, as it was an effort by late 1944 — heading for my room on the third floor. I had reached the landing between the second and third floors, had turned on the landing, and was just starting to climb the last flight of stairs to the third floor.

Suddenly I heard a strange noise, loud enough to catch my attention, but not overly loud. It is hard to describe, sort of a sliding/grinding/whirring sound; it was coming from above me and to the right. I looked up toward the wall (which bordered the west patio), where a window was located; it was about midway between the landing and the third floor, far out of the reach of any individual, whether inside or outside of the building. I recall that it wasn’t overly bright that night, and I just checked online on that — there were two full moons that month, on October 2 and October 31, so it wasn’t too bright during much of the month. But enough starlight coming through the opening clearly showed that the window was sliding downward, though fairly gradually — it was not loose or falling.

Given the situation — it was very dark, I was alone, and no one was anywhere nearby that I could see or hear — I froze in my tracks, eyes fixed on the moving window. Then, believe it or not, the window actually began to slide upward, making the same odd sound. Panic stricken, I snapped out of my stupor and, starvation or not, it seemed as if I covered the last 15 or so steps in a couple of leaps and/or bounds, though of course that was not possible. Nobody was around — everyone was in bed by then — so I quickly got in bed myself, not even bothering to use the sink that our room was blessed with, let alone use the men’s bathroom at the other end of the building. It was quite a relief to be “safe” in the midst of some 60 or so slumbering roommates.

The next morning I looked closely at the window in question, of course, but it appeared “normal” and I could see nothing out of the ordinary; and there was no ladder on the outside when I checked. I never did find out what might have caused the episode, and I never told anyone about it, either then or later, because it sounded too weird to have occurred, and thus I was afraid of being mocked and/or accused of having had hallucinations, or perhaps of just making up the whole thing. Such reactions obviously may ensue now, but that would no longer bother me — not at this point. Any suggested explanations of the event would be welcome.

Passing of Mary June Wilkinson Pettyfer

Mary June Wilkinson Pettyfer (photo courtesy of the Victoria Times Colonist)I recently came across an obituary for Mary June Wilkinson Pettyfer from the Victoria Times Colonist. Mary June Wilkinson was born in Exeter, England, in 1933 and died on 5 July 2023 in Coquitlam, British Columbia, Canada. Mary June, along with her parents, Gerald Hugh Wilkinson and Lorna Mary Davies Wilkinson, and together with her brother, Rupert Hugh Wilkinson, were interned in Santo Tomás Internment Camp (STIC) during the course of the Japanese occupation of the Philippines.

Mary June is copiously mentioned in her brother’s book, Surviving a Japanese Internment Camp: Life and Liberation at Santo Tomás, Manila, in World War II, 2013.

Rupert and Mary June Wilkinson, circa 1940

Rupert and Mary June Wilkinson, circa 1940

After liberation, Mary June traveled with her mother and brother on the S.S. Admiral E.W. Eberle leaving Manila on 10 April 1945, arriving in San Pedro, California, on 2 May 1945. They later sailed from New York City on the S.S. Queen Mary, arriving in Southampton, England, on 25 October 1945.

Read the entire obituary online at the Victoria Times Colonist website.

Passing of Ian C. M. Hall

I am sad to report the passing of Ian Hall. Ian and his family were largely not interned in the Philippines, during the War, but suffered very greatly at it’s end. Ian died in Palm Desert, California, on 1 May 2023, according to an obituary published by the San Francisco Chronicle.

The Hall children were all born in Manila and were not interned, as were others of the family except the father, Alaistair Cameron “Shorty” Hall, who was interned at STIC. The children were:

  • Roderick Cameron McMicking Hall, 1932
  • Ian Cameron McMicking Hall, 1934
  • Alaistair Cameron McMicking Hall, 1936
  • Consuelo Angela “Connie” Hall, 1937

Alaistair Hall and his four children,

Alaistair Hall and his four children: Ian, Consuelo, Alaistair and Roderick

On 20 January 1945, the Japanese arrested the mother, grandmother, an aunt and an uncle and took them for interrogation at the Masonic Temple in Manila. They became part of the almost 100 people killed there. Father and children were reunited after the Battle of Manila.

Ian, and his brother Rod, traveled on the U.S.S. General Harry Taylor leaving Manila on 2 June 1945, arriving in San Francisco, California, on 26 June 1945. They were repatriated aboard the the S.S. Eros, leaving New York City on 20 July 1945 and arriving in Liverpool, England, on 30 July 1945.

Roderick contributed to the 2008 book, Manila Memories: Four Boys Remember Their Lives Before, During and After the Japanese Occupation. It is one of the hundreds of items he donated to the Filipinas Heritage Libray, Manila.

Link to Ian’s obituary at the San Francisco Chronicle.

The Bar Mitzvah of a WWII Axis Internee by Martin Meadows – reposted

INTRODUCTION. The first order of business for a memoir such as this is to try to anticipate, and to answer, the most likely questions it may raise, in order to minimize any potential uncertainties and/or misconceptions. This Introduction seeks to do just that, dealing first with the title and then broadly with the memoir as a whole. Possible queries about the former, unlike the case with the latter, can be foreseen with specificity, for obviously they will pertain to the title’s individual words and terms; thus each of these will be clarified in turn. [Note: Anyone interested mainly in the event itself and not in terminological issues may wish to proceed directly to the next section, titled “Essential Prerequisites.”] [Note: First, though, a point of procedure to note — to avoid footnotes, only author’s names (and page numbers if relevant) are included in the text; full titles of cited works are listed at the end.]

To begin with, even the innocuous and seemingly inconsequential word “The” requires clarification. That is because, if “A” had been used instead, the phrase “A bar mitzvah” might have conveyed the erroneous impression that there were other bar mitzvahs that took place in similar circumstances. But there is absolutely nothing on the record to indicate that anything of the kind ever happened. Indeed, the mere idea of such a thing no doubt would evoke — from those familiar with the historical record — reactions of astonishment, incredulity, and/or even mirth. The fact is that, on the contrary, “during World War II, Jews interned in concentration camps were unable to mark their symbolic transformation[s] from children into. . . adulthood” with bar mitzvahs. [Quoted from ]

As context for understanding the term “bar mitzvah,” virtually all societies observe so-called rites of passage; these involve ceremonies indicating that certain individuals or groups are eligible, usually based on age, to pass from one status to another, often defined in religious terms. The bar mitzvah — Hebrew for “son of the commandment” — is the Jewish rite of passage, or “symbolic transformation.” Normally observed with a ceremony in a synagogue, it signifies that a male has reached the age of 13, or religious adulthood, and thus is now qualified to fulfill all the commandments of his religion. (For females, the equivalent term is “bat mitzvah” — a relatively recent innovation, dating to 1922.)
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CPOW Reunion 2023 – Update!

Because of Covid, the CPOW (Civilian ex-Prisoners of War) (formerly BACEPOW) reunion was cancelled last year. So we are making up for it in 2023 with a meeting at our familiar hotel in Sacramento, California. The hotel is newly renovated for guest rooms and the atrium lobby, and features a managers cocktail social period in the late afternoon plus a cooked-­to-order breakfast.

CPOW 2023 Reunion Agenda

Thursday April 13 through Sunday April 16
Embassy Suites by Hilton Sacramento Riverfront Promenade


    2:00 to 5:00 Registration, Cindie Leonard, Atrium


    Friday morning, Self-Registration, Atrium
    9:00 Opening & Welcome, Sally Meadows, Steamboat/Central Pacific Room
    9:10 Presentation of the Colors, California National Guard
    9:20 Los Baños Liberation, Sondra Shields
    10:05 Bilibid Liberation, Francine Bostrom
    10:50 Break
    11:05 Video of Internees, Melanie Chapman
    12:35 Lunch Break
    2:00 Twice a POW, Angus Lorenzen
    3:25 Break
    3:40 A Matter of Faith: Religion and Hope at Santo Tomas, Mary Beth Klee
    5:00 End of Session

Steamboat/Central Pacific Room

Various Rooms

    9:00 Book Discussions and Sales, Atrium
    9:00 CPOW Board of Directors, Sally Meadows, Tower Bridge B
    10:30 Authors Work in Progress, Mary Beth Klee, Tower Bridge B
    12:00 Banquet, Steamboat/Central Pacific
    1:00 Reunion Summation and Closing Remarks, Sally Meadows
    1:15 Keynote Speaker, Jim Zobel
    2:30 Adjourn, Sally Meadows

Hotel Reservations:
To reserve a room at Sacramento Embassy Suites using our discount code:

  • Visit and make a reservation using the group/convention code: POW
  • Call (916) 326-5000 and let the Front Desk Agent know you would like to make a reservation under the CPOW Civilian Prisoners of War discount rate.

Meeting Registration: CPOW 2023 Reunion Registration Form

Like to join CPOW? Link to the CPOW 2023 Membership Form

Checks should be made out to Civilian ex-POWs should be sent to CPOW Treasurer:

Cindie Leonard
1675 S. Lake Crest Way
Eagle, ID 83616

Passing of Joan Casad Ellison, ex-STIC internee

Joan Casad Ellison, undated photoThe Albuquerque Journal recently published the obituary of former Santo Tomás internee Joan Casad Ellison. Joan was born in Manila on 22 November 1929. She and her mother, Haidee Louise Casad, were interned in STIC for the duration of the War and were repatriated on the S.S. John Lykes, leaving Manila on 28 March 1945 and arriving San Pedro, California, on 2 May 1945. She married William Woods Ellison in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in September 1950.

Joan’s step-father, Thomas Harold Casad, was a civilian employee of the U.S. Adjutant General’s Corps before the War. He died in the sinking of the “hell ship” Arisan Maru on 24 October 1944.

Link to the full obituary at the Albuquerque Journal.