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

Thursday

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

Friday

    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 Telling Stories, Mary Beth Klee
    5:00 End of Session

Saturday
Steamboat/Central Pacific Room

Sunday
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 www.sacramento.embassysuites.com 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

Some liberated STIC women and children

Some freed STIC internees with children, 1945 photo
This Associated Press photo appeared in many U.S. newspapers in February 1945, including The Spokesman Review, of Spokane, Washington. I’ve included the caption which appeared on 13 February 1945, page 20. This same photo appears on the cover of the video Victims of Circumstance.

CHILDREN AND MOTHERS SMILE AT FREEDOM: With three years of Santo Tomas internment camp life behind them these children and their mothers can still smile. From left to right,

  • Mrs. Howard [Mary] Schlereth and Linda, 5 of Columbus, OH
  • Mrs. Robert [Beatrice] Wabraushek and Leslie, 5 of Los Angeles, CA
  • Mrs. Tom [Susan] Yule, Rosalind, 6 and Sheila, 9 of Flushing, NY
  • Mrs. Paul [Janina] Malone, of New York, NY

They were freed when Manila was recaptured (S-R AP wirephoto)

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John H. Bradley, ex-STIC internee and author

John Hilton Bradley 1945 repatriationJohn H. Bradley was five-years-old when he and his parents were interned in Santo Tomás Internment Camp in January 1942. His father, Noble James Bradley, was born in Lyons, Indiana. His mother, Amelia Mary Langley, was born in Melbourne, Australia. They met in the Philippines and were married there in 1934. Noble, however, died shortly after liberation and John and his mother were repatriated on the S.S. David C. Shanks to Australia arriving in Townsville in April 1945. While in Leyte, John was given a U.S. Army captain’s helmet which he seems to have worn for his entire journey (see photo). They were part of a large group of Brits and Dutch arriving in Sydney.

After the War, John and his mother returned to the Philippines. Later, they traveled on to the U.S. to begin new lives. He is a graduate of West Point, the US Army Command & General Staff College, and Rice University (MA History), and is a retired Army officer and a Vietnam veteran. He has written, or co-authored, several books.

MacArthur Moon by John H. BradleyOne deals with Santo Tomás! Entitled MacArthur Moon, and published in 2021, it is an “enhanced” memoir built around Amelia’s memoir and John’s remembrances of internment in STIC. It is a huge compendium of stories, photos, facts and lists that cover the story of the Bradley family before, during and after the War and touches on many of the other internees. There is also a fair amount of military activity. It also has an index of those mentioned in the book and a bibliography. Overall, it is a gritty story of survival in the largest civilian internment camp in the Philippines.

It is available on Amazon.

Remind Me to Tell You by John BradleyAnother of his books deals with a 26th Cavalry officer who did not survive the war. Entitled Remind Me to Tell You, A History of Major Harry J. Fleeger and His Friends, POWs of the Japanese, it covers Fleeger’s actions and the actions of his friends on Luzon, Bataan, the Death March, Camp O’Donnell, Cabanatuan, etc. Published in 2010.  The book is based on Fleeger’s diaries. The appendices provide abundant data on the 26th Cavalry. Bibliography and “People Index” are also included.

It is also available on Amazon.

Angels and more

Following are some items relating to the civilian internment camps, liberation of the camps, the Battle of Manila, etc., and the many “Angels” who helped the internees survive. Click on any of the images to enlarge.

Angel of Santo Tomas 2022, byTammy Lee
A new children’s book was recently published by Tammy Lee titled The Angel of Santo Tomas. It tells the story of a Filipina doctor, Fe del Mundo, who administered add to the internee children for the Red Cross, in Manila, and at the Holy Ghost Children’s home. She later helped care for the wounded in the Battle of Manila.

Suggested for children ages 5 to 7.

 


Liberated U.S. Navy nurses in Honolulu, March 1945The U.S. Naval Institute recently published The Angelic Nurses of World War II on their website. This brief article tells of their ordeal after the Japanese invasion and in the camps. It has a few photos of the eleven U.S. Navy nurses liberated from Los Baños in February 1945. They were Lt. Mary Frances Chapman, Lt. Cmdr. Laura Mae Cobb, Lt. Bertha Rae Evans, Lt. Helen Clara Gorzelanski, Lt. Mary Rose Harrington, Lt. Margaret Alice “Peg” Nash, Lt. Goldia Aimee “Goldie” O’Haver, Lt. Eldene Elinor Paige, Lt. Susie Josephine Pitcher, Lt. Dorothy Still and Lt. Carrie Edwina Todd. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command.


Civilians being collected for internment, 1942Mystery Woman
 
This photo shows a group of civilians being collected for internment in Santo Tomas in early 1942. Can anyone help identify the woman in front wearing the white gloves and dark glasses? If you recognize her, please reply using our Comments form. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command.

 

 


Angels of Bataan – U.S. Army Nurses in Japanese Captivity, is a 45-minute audio recording by historian Mark Felton posted on YouTube.  He has written extensively on World War II topics and posted many videos and audio on Youtube.




The Angel of Santo Tomas drawing, 1943, J. E. McCall

Mrs. Patricia E. Intengan as “The Angel of Santo Tomás,” in the drawing by J. E. McCall, supplied by Caroline Bailey Pratt. This is Plate XXIX from the book Santo Tomás Internment Camp, 1945, by James E. McCall

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Los Baños Liberation 77th anniversary

Newly freed Los Baños internees

Some of the newly freed Los Baños internees (Carl Mydans photo)

One of the most successful air, water and land military operations was the rescue of more than 2,100 civilians interned in the Los Baños Internment Camp on Luzon. Also known as Camp #2, Los Baños was built by over 800 of the male internees to re-leave overcrowding at Santo Tomás. On the morning of February 23, 1943, members of the U.S. 511th Parachute Infantry Regiment boarded C-47s which were to drop them near the camp. Meanwhile, Army amtracs of the 672nd Amphibian Tractor Battalion were on the way to transport the internees to freedom. Many Filipino guerrilla groups provided useful intelligence to the Americans and participated in the attack on the Japanese guards. Two internees, Freddy Zervoulakos and Pete Miles, who had escaped also gave useful information on the Japanese routines within the camp.

February 23, 1945, Time for roll call — 7:00 A.M.
“Listen! Quiet everyone! Is that thunder in the distance or airplanes”

“American or Japanese?”

“Oh, pray God their American…”

The very air seemed electric with excitement. Then one of the men called out, “They’re paratroopers!”

Everyone started pointing and screaming with joy. “They’ve come! They’ve come!” It became the vibrant song of heart and soul.
From Escape at Dawn by Carol Terry Talbot and Virginia J. Muir.

Ex-Los Banos internees aboard U.S. Army amtrac

Ex-Los Banos internees aboard U.S. Army amtrac

Dorothy Still and the other nurses and orderlies had peered cautiously outside as the amtracs entered the camp. They watched as the first ones flattened the barbed-wire fences and turned into the circular drive in front of the hospital. An Army major and a colonel jumped out. The colonel went back to talk to the amtrac crews while the major strode toward the front of the hospital. Dorothy went outside to greet him.

“Good morning, I’m Major Burgess. Who’s in charge here?”

“Dr. Nance is in charge,” Dorothy said.

Just then Nance walked out of the hospital.

Burgess told Nance that everyone had to get out of the camp as quickly as possible. They discussed the best way to evacuate the sick and elderly from the hospital and various barracks.

Dorothy couldn’t get over the sight of the U.S. soldiers, so much bigger and healthier than any men she had seen in years. They wore a new kind of helmet, not the “tin-pan things” of the First World War that were still being worn in 1941. And they all looked so lively and alert.

“Ma’am, what are you holding?” one of the soldiers asked.

Dorothy looked down at the bundle in her arms. She had forgotten she was holding baby Lois [McCoy], who was now fast asleep. She showed the soldier the sleeping baby, then went back into the hospital and gave Lois to her mother. She told the worried woman about the American soldiers right out front.

“They’ve come to take us home,” Dorothy said.

Outside, the amtracs dropped their tailgates, and the hospital patients and other nonambulatory internees were brought out. One of the first to be boarded was Margie Whitaker’s father, Jock, who was now down to eighty-five pounds and “on his last legs.”

During the gun battle earlier, Margie [Whitaker] and her younger sister, Betty, had hidden in their barracks under the bed. When the first U.S. soldier came through telling everyone to be ready to leave, Margie asked if the Marines had landed. After all, she had been waiting so long for this day.

“Sorry, sister, Army paratroopers.”

She and Betty rushed to the bathroom, where they brushed their teeth and washed their faces. The teenage girls – eighteen and fourteen years old – only then thought they were fit to be rescued.

Continue reading

77th anniversary of Baguio/Old Bilibid Liberation

Old Bilibid Prison, Manila

On February 4, 1945, the day after the liberation of nearby Santo Tomás, the Japanese military abandoned Old Bilibid Prison. Later that day, men from the U.S. 37th Ohio Division accidentally discovered over 800 POWs and 500 civilian internees there. The civilians had formerly been held in Bagiuo Internment Camp, but were moved from to Old Bilibid, starting to arrive there at midnight, December 28, 1944.

Spirits Unbroken, 1946, by R. Renton HindAt six o’clock on the evening of the third of February … someone on the second floor saw a couple of “jeeps” arrive at the juncture of Quezon Boulevard and Calle Espana only a few hundred yards away. The boulevard was but a block from us, running north and south, while Espana was the avenue upon which the Sto. Tomas University faced, the buildings of which were plainly visible from Bilibid. Shortly afterwards they were joined by tanks and some army trucks representing a total force of 700 men comprising units of the First Cavalry (mechanized) and the 37th Ohio Division. It required a little time for us to realize that MacArthur’s men had arrived, so sudden and without warning was their advent… It was learned later, that our troops knew nothing of our presence at Bilibid, else we might have been relieved that night. At 8:45 [p.m] the tanks knocked at the Sto. Tomas gates and admission being refused they proceeded to level them and enter the grounds.  R. Renton Hind, Spirits Unbroken, 1946.

Civilian internees liberated at Old Bilibid Prison, 1945February 4, 1945: There had been some snipping on Rizal Avenue, and some soldiers of the 37th Ohio Division, who were preparing to bivouac, were ordered by one of their officers to rip away some boards that covered a large hole in the prison wall and find out what was beyond. When they tore the boards away, they were dumbfounded to find American POWs on the other side.  Donald E. Mansell, Under the Shadow of the Rising Sun, 2003.

On February 5th, the now former internees were move to the abandoned Ang Tibay shoe factory, which the Japanese had turned into an airplane repair show. On the 6th they were finally fed by the U.S. Army. That breakfast on the morning of the 6th will long live in our memories- cereal, milk, sugar, coffee, wheat bread and bacon and eggs. Lined up in four queues the 1300 of us including released prisoners of war were promptly served this wholesome “home-side” food. We wandered about the place all day, listened to the radio, through the kindness of the Signal Corps, talked with the prisoners of war and towards evening-the fire near Bilibid having burned itself out-we were loaded into trucks and taken back to town. Some of us were fired upon by Jap snipers but, fortunately, their marksmanship was poor.  R. Renton Hind, Spirits Unbroken, 1946.

Old Bilibid Prison graves

Old Bilibid Prison graves

February 7, 1945: About ten there were big cheers in the hall and someone said it was General MacArthur and his staff. I was too dull and weary to go to look and not much interested. I was standing in our space by the double bunk when MacArthur came through the door at the far end of the room… When the General passed the bunk he turned and looked into my face directly. He grabbed my hand and shook it, over and over, up and down. I was totally dumb. Natalie Crouter, Forbidden Diary, 1980.

Old Bilibid Prison hospital, 1945

Old Bilibid Prison hospital, 1945

The former internees stayed in the prison until February 22nd, when they began to be flown in groups to Leyte to be repatriated.

77th anniversary of STIC Liberation

Liberation of Santo Tomas, February 1945

3 February 2022 is the 77th anniversary of the liberation of Santo Tomás Internment Camp by elements of the U.S. First Cavalry Division. I have compiled some photos, quotes and links to celebrate this event. The U.S. Army photograph at left shows the flag-raising which occurred at 9:15am on Monday morning, February 5, 1945.

Here’s a little more info about that flag draped over the entrance of the Main Building in Santo Tomas. It was brought into the Camp in 1942 by a family who had sewn it into a pillow. It was deployed right after the Japanese guards who had taken the hostages in the Education Building were marched out of the camp. The ex-internees gathered around sang God Bless America.

On Liberation evening, the people on the south side of the Main Building saw the searchlights and tanks as they entered the gate. Screaming like fury, they raced down the stairs and out of the door from the main lobby into the plaza to greet the liberators. By the time I got to the lobby, I could only get down to the mezzanine level. Troops were holding the people back at the bottom of the stairs and a tank was sticking it’s snout through the double doors from the plaza to the lobby. It is my belief that the troopers drove the tank through the door to act as a cork to prevent more people from flooding into the plaza. Then shortly afterwards, Japanese began to snipe from the windows of the Education Building, and the tank was backed out and the troopers herded the internees back into the lobby. They then deployed in front of the Education Building and a fierce fire-fight developed. It lasted about 20 minutes, then the Japanese retreated to the third floor and dispersed among their hostages.

Angus Lorenzen, 5 February 2022

"Battlin Basic" crew

The “Battlin Basic” was the first U.S. tank to enter Santo Tomás at about 8:40pm, Saturday night, February 3, 1945, according to A.V.H. Hartendorp. I hope to post an article on the U.S. tankers at STIC in the near future.

Liberation Bulletin, 1945, Peter Richards

The 8-page STIC Liberation Bulletin, 1945, by internee Peter C. Richards, includes camp chronology, statistics, prices of commodities and even advertisements. This copy includes notes from the original owner.

Books, old and new …

The War Diary of Jane Doner, 2021, by Jane Doner and Craig FredricksonThe War Diary of Jane Doner tells the story of  “a 17-year-old high school senior, born in Cebu City and living there on December 8, 1941 . . . She fled from her home and hid in the jungle during the early days of the war but was betrayed and forced to surrender to the Imperial Japanese Military. Thereafter, Jane was interned in four prison camps before her eventual rescue and liberation in 1945 by the armed forces of the United States. During captivity she endured fear, starvation, disease and the death of many of her friends, but survived to tell the story.”  Published in May 2021,  the book can be purchased through Lulu press.


Rescue Raids of Luzon! (cover)In January 2021, Joe Huber published  Rescue Raids of Luzon!, which chronicles the liberation of the civilian and POW camps. Here is the publisher’s description: “Between January 26th and February 23rd of 1945 on Luzon in the Philippines, America made its greatest rescue of civilians and military prisoners from deep behind enemy lines . . .  This book summarizes these raids and describes the prison camp experience of the author and his family [who were first interned on Mindanao].  Photos, drawings, and old documents help tell the tale. In the largest raid on the prison at Santo Tomás in Manila, his family had “ringside seats . . .”

The book includes numerous family photos and diagrams of the camps and is available on a variety of sources including Amazon and authorHouse.


War and Resistance-Philippines, 2021, Morningstar-According to the publisher’s writeup, War and Resistance in the Philippines, 1942-1944, published March, 2021, “repairs the fragmentary and incomplete historiography of the events in the Philippine Islands between the surrender of Allied forces in May 1942 and MacArthur’s return in October 1944. Chronicles by politicians and guerrilla leaders reflect limited points of view and personal and political agendas. No academic study has comprehensively examined the Filipino resistance with a critical interdisciplinary approach. As a result, this book provides the first coherent narrative of the protracted fighting by 260,000 guerrillas in 277 units across the archipelago.”  Book includes index and bibliography.

James Kelly Morningstar is a retired U.S. Army armor officer and decorated combat veteran with degrees from West Point and Kansas State University, a master’s degree from Georgetown University, and a PhD from the University of Maryland. He currently teaches military history at Georgetown.  He is the author of Patton’s War: A Radical Theory of War.


For Thou Art With Me, 2010Francis C. Gray is a retired bishop in the Episcopal Church and has served in congregations and dioceses in Florida, Indiana and Virginia.  He was born in the Philippine Islands in 1940, where his parents were missionaries, and had a lifelong commitment to world mission.  He was interned, with his parents, at Camp Holmes, Baguio, in 1942.  The photo on the cover of For Thou Art With Me shows the Gray family, after liberation from Old Bilibid Prison.  The book is based on the diaries of his father and was published in 2010.

It can be ordered directly from the author for $13, which includes postage.  You can contact him directly at Karenandfrank@comcast.net.


Released: Poems by Francis C. Gray, 2020Frank Gray also published a small book of poetry in 2020 titled Released.  A few of the titles are:

Prison Food

Death Warrant

Homecoming

The Sacrament of SPAM

This book can also be ordered directly from the author for $13, which includes postage.  You can contact him at Karenandfrank@comcast.net.


Return to Victory, 2021 by James Duffy“Covering both the strategic and tactical aspects of the campaign through the participation of its soldiers, sailors, and airmen, as well as its commanders, James P. Duffy leads readers through a vivid account of the nearly year-long, bloody campaign to defeat over a quarter million die-hard Japanese defenders in the Pacific theater. Return to Victory: MacArthur’s Epic Liberation of the Philippines, is a wide-ranging, dramatic and stirring account of MacArthur’s epic liberation of the Philippines.”   Published in March 2021, the book includes maps, photos, an index and bibliography.  However, it has little information about the civilian camps.


Interrupted Lives: Four Women's Stories of Internment During WWII in the PhilippinesInterrupted Lives is a short book with perspectives by four American women who were interned in the civilian camps: Margaret Sams, Jane Stoll Wills, Sascha Jean Jansen and Karen Kerns Lewis.

Last printed in 2018, it is an excellent introduction to the struggle for everyday life in the camps during the War.  The book includes several photos and illustrations.

Margaret Sams also wrote Forbidden Family: Wartime Memoir of the Philippines, 1941-1945.


Amazing Grace, 2015, by Grace BrownAmazing Grace: The Unbroken Spirit of a Japanese Prisoner of War, was published in 2015.  “In early 1942, Grace Brown was taken a prisoner of the Japanese in the Philippines along with her husband Caldwell and their three-month-old son Iain [first on Cebu and later at STIC]. Their ordeal lasted three and a half years during which time they were starved and at the mercy of their captors.
For most of that time, Grace had to care for her son alone after Caldwell was taken from camp by the Japanese. She endured the next two years not knowing if her husband was alive or dead.
At her lowest point, Grace started keeping a secret diary, which she hid in her son’s teddy bear. Finally, back at home in Scotland, she wrote this dramatic account of all they had been through, which is being published for the first time to mark the 70th anniversary of VJ Day.”  Son, Iain A. C. Brown reports that the book is available in Kindle format on Amazon.com.  You can also contact Iain at brown@carlton-brown.eu.


Disclaimer: The inclusion of any titles in this list are intended to benefit the interests of our readers and do not imply any endorsement.

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)