The disappearance of Father Douglas

Rev. Francis Vernon “Frank” Douglas was born in Johnsonville, New Zealand, in 1910.   According to Wikiwand, “Douglas trained for the Catholic priesthood at Holy Cross Seminary, Mosgiell. Within a few months of his ordination, at the end of 1934, he applied to join the Missionary Society of St. Columban. He was curate at New Plymouth when he left to join the society at the start of 1937. He was appointed to the Philippines in July 1939.”  Father Douglas was never interned, but recently, The New Zealand Catholic (NZCatholic) published The disappearance that should not be forgotten

Father Francis V. Douglas, S.S.C.M.E., before the War.  

In July 1943, Father Douglas was arrested by the Japanese in Pililla, on the edge of Laguna de Bay, and taken to be interrogated in nearby Paete.  The NZCatholic article describes the various attempts to find out what ultimately became of him.

He is one of the over 100 priests, nuns, missionaries and church workers who died in the Philippines during the War.  The complete list will be published in an upcoming post on this website.

Links to more information about Father Douglas:

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The Andersons of Davao

Alonzo and Mayte Anderson, 1946

Alonzo and Mayte Anderson, 1946

A brief article was published last week in the Adventist Review regarding the lives of two former Davao and STIC internees, Alfonso and Mayte Anderson.

The author, Bruce N. Anderson, begins “For more than three decades, Alfonso Nils Anderson and his wife, Mayte Landis Anderson, were missionaries to the Japanese people, first in Japan, then in the Japanese community in the Philippines, where they survived three years in the harsh conditions of World War II internment camps.”

The article describes the background and marriage of the couple and details their years in Japan, from 1915 – 1937. It then tells of their move to Mindanao and ultimately their internment in Davao and later Santo Tomás. For more, link to the full article. This article is also published in the Encyclopedia of Seventh-Day Adventists.

Photo courtesy of Bruce N. Anderson.

Huber family Philippine saga

Joe Huber Jr., 2021The story of the Huber family in the Philippines is told in a recent Akron Beacon Journal article titled Raised in the jungle, Cuyahoga Falls man recalls Goodyear rubber plantation. In the article, Joe Huber Jr. recounts growing up on a rubber plantation, on Mindanao, and being interned in Davao and later in Santo Tomás.

The Huber family included Joseph C. Huber Sr., Thelma Thompson Huber, Joseph C. Huber Jr. (born 1934), Barbara Jean Huber (born 1935) and Stephen Lewis Huber (born 1936). Joe Jr. was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, while Barbara and Stephen were both born in Zamboanga, Mindanao.

The article spans the family’s story before, during and after the War and includes several family photographs, including some that show the rubber business on Mindanao. The family was repatriated on the S.S. Klipfontein leaving Leyte in March 1945, arriving in San Francisco on 21 April 1945. For more, link to the full article.

The Joseph and Thelma Huber family in 1945, after liberation.

The Joseph and Thelma Huber family in 1945, after liberation. (photo courtesy of the Akron Journal)

Rosemary Hogan Luciano, Angel of Bataan

Rosemary Hogan LucianoFormer STIC internee, Lt. Rosemary Hogan, is the subject of a recent article in the Muskogee Phoenix by Edwyna Synar titled Remember the Ladies: Oklahoma’s Angel of Bataan.

The article begins “Shortly after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, nurse Rosemary Hogan was transferred to the Philippines. When the war finally ended, this small-town Oklahoma girl would be one of the most honored and decorated nurses of the war, awarded the Purple Heart, Bronze Star and Presidential Unit Citation.

Rosemary Hogan was born in March 1912, in the tiny farming community of Ahpeatone. Too small even for a school, she completed her studies in Chattanooga, near Lawton, where she graduated as valedictorian. A local doctor sponsored a nursing scholarship for Hogan to attend Scott-White Hospital in Temple, Texas. As one of 10 children, this helped her pursue a military career. Hogan was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army Nurse Corps at Fort Sill in 1936, serving there until she transferred to the Philippines.

On Christmas Eve 1941, nurse-in-charge Hogan took 50 American and Filipino nurses to Bataan Peninsula to establish a thousand-bed hospital in Limay. In January 1942, the hospital was ordered to move closer to the fighting, to a place called Little Baguio.

She served as assistant Chief of Nurses until she was wounded in April 1942. While she and another nurse were assisting a surgeon in an operation, a bomb destroyed the makeshift hospital. Hogan suffered leg wounds and shrapnel in her arm, nose, and face. She learned later that her left eardrum was also ruptured. The surviving nurses and patients took refuge in foxholes until they could safely move to Corregidor to recover… ”

Link to the full article online.

Lt. Rosemary Hogan gets new bars from Maj. Juanita Redmond.

Lt. Rosemary Hogan gets new bars from Maj. Juanita Redmond.

Former STIC internee, Ruth Renfrow, reaches 100!

Ruth Renfrow turns 100

Ruth Renfrow turns 100

Former STIC internee, Ruth Renfrow, was the subject of a recent feature article which appeared in The Union, of Nevada County, California. The article, titled Ruth Renfrow, who spent time in a prisoner of war camp before moving to Nevada City, turned 100 this year, tells the Ruth and Clyde Renfrow story from their first meeting in the Philippines, to marriage, to evading the Japanese after the invasion, to internment and to having two children, Willie and Winnie, in Santo Tomás.

The Renfrow family was repatriated on the S.S. John Lykes leaving Manila on 28 March 1945 and arriving San Pedro, California, on 2 May 1945. The article has several historic and contemporary photos. Link to Ruth Renfrow’s story.

Christmas behind the wire

Recently, I happened upon the recent article This is how Christmas was spent in POW camps, by Roger Towsend, published in the Southern Daily Echo (Redbridge, Southampton, England). It begins:

As Families contemplate their Christmas arrangements in this most extraordinary of years, many will find it hard to accept that this cannot be like any normal year and that we may not be able to visit our loved ones.

But let us remember that this is the 75th anniversary of the repatriation of our Far East Prisoners of War (FEPOW) to Southampton and Liverpool around this time in 1945.

Perspective may be able to enlighten our thoughts at this time.

Though the article concerns mainly British civilian internees and POWs, it reminded me of the situation in the Philippine camps, where parents worked hard to normalize the wartime situation for their children. In his book, Santo Tomas Internment Camp, Frederic Stevens devoted a chapter to Christmas, 1942-43-44, where he describes all three Christmas’ at Santo Tomas.

And Sascha Jansen described her family’s creative use of face cream 1944 STIC Christmas Menu in the May 2010 issue of Beyond the Wire:

2 garlic buds
1 can of corned beef (last one from our Red Cross comfort kit)
1 small can of pineapple (last one from our Red Cross comfort kit)
1 taro root (from our Elephant Ear plant)
1 scoop Lugao
We traded a small can of “old” mustard powder for a big bunch of Talinum.

My mother cooked and mashed the taro and added the corned beef to make “hamburger patties.” She cooked them on a tin plate with Mabelline face cream for oil. She made a salad out of the garlic and Talinum.

A small amount of taro was mixed with the lugao and the drained pineapple chunks for dessert muffins. Before serving she spooned the juice over the muffins. It was incredible!

In The Christmas of 1944, from Inquirer.net, very different perspectives from Albert Holland, in STIC, and Warren A. Wilson, in Old Bilibid Prison, are given.

Isabelle Holter wrote a short article about the Christmas of ’44 in STIC, published in the September 2009 issue of Beyond the Wire. Titled Caroling Between Blackouts, the author tells of one child saying:

“I sure hope Santa Claus picks a cloudy day to come, so those bombers won’t bomb him,” exclaimed one, after a day of continuous air raids. Grim indeed was the prospect of any who contemplated serious preparation in celebration of Christmas that year.

Isabelle ends with the comment, “that experience has given us a life-time membership in the fellowship of the homeless, the hungry, the sick and the suppressed, wherever they may be.”

Australian War Memorial photos

This week, I’m posting a small collection of photographs from the Australian War Memorial, at Canberra, Australia. These photos are in no particular order but relate to the Battle of Manila and the liberation of Australian internees in the Philippines. I am not posting descriptions of these photos, as most of them are self-explanatory.

Click on any of the photos to enlarge, but unfortunately, these are not high-definition photos. For print quality images, prints, or for commercial uses please contact the Australian War Memorial. If you reuse these photos, please reference AWM as the source.

On their website, the AWM also has a feature article on VP Day: Victory in the Pacific, and an article on the Japanese surrender at Morotai, on 9 September 1945.

Please use the comment form if you have any comments, corrections, questions or if you recognize any of the unnamed people in the photos.

MANILA, THE PHILIPPINES, 1945. LEGISLATIVE BUILDING, BADLY SHELL DAMAGED. (DONOR: B. COOPER) SEE ALSO P082/68/13,14.MANILA, THE PHILIPPINES, 1945. FINANCE BUILDING, EXTENSIVELY DAMAGED BY ARTILLERY FIRE. (DONOR: B. COOPER; PHOTOGRAPHER: ROXAS ).
SANTO TOMAS, THE PHILIPPINES, 1945. GENERAL BLAMEY SPEAKING WITH AUSTRALIAN CIVILIAN INTERNEE TOM RICHARDS AT SANTO TOMAS UNIVERSITY INTERNMENT CAMP. AT LEFT IS FRANK BUTTFIELD (DONOR: B. COOPER).SANTO TOMAS, THE PHILIPPINES, 1945. SERGEANT MATT LACEY; LEADING AIRCRAFTMAN BLUE CUTLER AND FLYING OFFICER BRUCE COOPER, OF THE 6TH WIRELESS UNIT, RAAF. CUTLER IS HOLDING PAM BUTTFIELD, WHO WAS BORN IN THE SANTO TOMAS UNIVERSITY INTERNMENT CAMP. (DONOR: B. COOPER).
MANILA, THE PHILIPPINES, 1945. DAMAGED POST OFFICE AND SANTA CRUZ BRIDGE IN THE FOREGROUND. PARTIALLY DEMOLISHED JONES BRIDGE IN THE BACKGROUND, BEFORE IT WAS REPLACED BY A BAILEY BRIDGE (DONOR: B. COOPER).MANILA, THE PHILIPPINES, 1945. SAN ANTONIO DE PADUA CHURCH, RUINED BY BOMBING AND SHELLFIRE. (DONOR: B. COOPER; PHOTOGRAPHER: ROXAS).
MANILA, THE PHILIPPINES, 1945. FORMER INTERNEES FROM SANTO TOMAS UNIVERSITY INTERNMENT CAMP WITH RAAF PERSONNEL AT NICHOLLS FIELD AIRSTRIP PRIOR TO RETURNING TO AUSTRALIA AFTER LIBERATION. THE CIVILIANS ARE FRANK AND PHYL BUTTFIELD AND THEIR DAUGHTER PAM. RAAF PERSONNEL ARE SERGEANT MATT LACEY (REAR); LEADING AIRCRAFTMAN "BLUE" CUTLER (CENTRE) AND LAC E. GWYTHER (SQUATTING). (DONOR: B. COOPER).MANILA, THE PHILIPPINES, 1945. FORMER INTERNEES IN A TRUCK AT NICHOLLS FIELD AIRSTRIP PRIOR TO LEAVING FOR AUSTRALIA AFTER LIBERATION. FROM LEFT, ABE (SURNAME UNKNOWN) AND PAULA PRATT, WHO WERE ENGAGED TO BE MARRIED; MARIE PRESTON HOLDING PAM BUTTFIELD, WHO WAS BORN IN THE SANTO TOMAS UNIVERSITY INTERNMENT CAMP. (DONOR: B. COOPER).
MANILA, THE PHILIPPINES, 1945. FAR EASTERN UNIVERSITY AND QUEZON BOULEVARD, SHOWING AMERICAN TRUCKS IN THE STREET. (DONOR: B. COOPER).MANILA, THE PHILIPPINES, 1945. JAPANESE BARRICADES SET UP IN THE STREETS OF MANILA. (DONOR: B. COOPER; PHOTOGRAPHER: ROXAS).
MANILA, THE PHILIPPINES, 1945. LOURDES CHURCH IN THE WALLED CITY OF MANILA, BADLY DAMAGED BY SHELLFIRE. (DONOR: B. COOPER; PHOTOGRAPHER: ROXAS).MANILA, THE PHILIPPINES, 1945. MANILA CATHEDRAL, IN RUINS. (DONOR: B. COOPER; PHOTOGRAPHER: ROXAS).
MANILA, THE PHILIPPINES, 1945. THE ESCOLTA IN MANILA, WITH THE PHILIPPINES NATIONAL BANK BUILDING ON THE LEFT. THIS STREET WAS THE MAIN BUSINESS SECTION OF MANILA. (DONOR: B. COOPER).MANILA, THE PHILIPPINES, 1945. A STADIUM FOR JAI ALAI (FILIPINO NATIONAL BALL AND RACQUET GAME). BADLY DAMAGED BY SHELLFIRE. (DONOR: B. COOPER; PHOTOGRAPHER: ROXAS).
MANILA, THE PHILIPPINES, 1945. SHELL DAMAGED LEGISLATIVE BUILDING (SEE ALSO P82/68/07,13). APPROXIMATELY 800 TONS OF SHELLS HIT THIS BUILDING, YET FOUR JAPANESE SOLDIERS SURVIVED THE BARRAGE. CITY HALL IN BACKGROUND. (DONOR: B. COOPER; PHOTOGRAPHER: ROXAS).MANILA, THE PHILIPPINES, 1945. THE UNIVERSITY OF THE PHILIPPINES, DAMAGED BY SHELLFIRE. SEE ALSO P082/68/20. (DONOR: B. COOPER; PHOTOGRAPHER: ROXAS).
Japanese surrender at Morotai,, 1945, Australian War MemorialVictory in the Pacific, 1945, Australian War Memorial

Making History with Music…

PFC Richard Burt in uniform and with trumpet, 1944Today’s featured article has connections to the Philippines, WWII and music. It’s a brief story of a young serviceman who signed up with the 746th Far East Air Force Band to perform in the Philippines during the War. In fact, PFC Richard Burt’s group performed for the “Angels of Bataan” when they were awarded Bronze Stars after being liberated from Santo Tomás.

Making History with Music appeared on the History News Network on 13 September 2020. Written by Jason Burk, it details the creation of the band, which was composed of mainly professional musicians. It also describes the efforts to product a modern release of the group’s WWII music. It is an interesting read.

For more information, link to the complete article at the History News Network, or visit the 746th FEAF Band Facebook page.

Spanish family’s Battle of Manila ordeal

The tragedy that befell a non-interned Spanish family is detailed a recent El País article titled Anna Maria: The Spaniard who survived 16 bayonet wounds during the Battle of Manila.

The 28 August 2020 article, by José Manuel Abad Liñán, begins:

“Anna Maria’s first life began in Cebu City in the Philippines on August 23, 1938. That was the day she was brought into the world by her mother Aurora, the daughter of two Catalans from Cerdanyola del Vallès who had immigrated to the Philippines to work in copra, the dried kernel of the coconut which is used in soaps and oils. Her father, Plácido Antonio, had left Onda in the Spanish province of Castellón to work for the prosperous General Tobacco Company of the Philippines (CdF), the first Spanish multinational. In the end, the family moved to Cavite, south of the capital Manila, where speaking Spanish did not clash so much with chabacano, the creole language spoken by the local population.”

Anna Maria Aguilella arriving in Barcelona in 1946

Anna Maria Aguilella arriving in Barcelona in 1946

At points, it is a very difficult story for me to read, because it echos what happened to my family during the Battle of Manila. In that instance, my mother and grandmother, together with their neighbors, were taken out of their homes in Manila by the Japanese to be shot. Luckily for them, and me, that didn’t happen. However, the outcome for Anna Maria’s family was far more tragic. I think that it is important to read for those who were inside, and outside of, the camps, showing the trauma that far outlasts the experience.

Link to the full article in El País.

Heyda Family story

Catherine Hedman Heyda (on right) with mother-in-lawThe story of STIC internee, Catherine Heyda, and her husband, Charles Heyda, are the subject of the Herald Times Reporter article of 24 May 2020 titled Manitowoc’s Chuck Heyda gave his life for our country in World War II. Here’s his story.

In the article, reporter Scott Graykowski details the lives of Charles William Heyda Jr. and Catherine Maria Hedman, who were married in Wilmette, Illinois, on 29 January 1940, and their trip to the Philippines, to continue his work as a mining engineer. The facts are sketchy, but while Charles joins up with the U.S. Army, or the guerrillas, Catherine is interned in Santo Tomás. For the full details, please read the full article.