Los Baños Internment Camp was established to house the overflowing number of internees in Santo Tomás Interment camp (STIC).
The raid at Los Baños in the Philippines, early Friday morning on 23 February 1945, was executed by a combined U.S. Army Airborne and Filipino guerrilla task force, resulting in the liberation of 2,147 Allied civilian and military internees from an agricultural school campus turned Japanese internment camp. It has been celebrated as one of the most successful rescue operations in modern military history. It was the second precisely-executed raid by combined U.S.-Filipino forces within a month, following on the heels of the Raid at Cabanatuan at Luzon on 30 January, in which 512 Allied military POWs had been rescued.
Since the landings of the U.S. Sixth Army at Lingayen Gulf and the U.S. Eighth Army at Nasugbu, Batangas on 9 January 1945 and 31 January 1945 respectively, to retake Luzon, the Imperial Japanese Army was being repeatedly pushed back and was increasingly becoming desperate. Soon news was filtering down to Allied commanders that the Japanese were killing innocent civilians and prisoners of war while falling back.
General Douglas MacArthur was deeply alarmed about the plight of thousands of prisoners who had been interned in various camps on Luzon, since the early days of the Pacific War. There was concern that, with deliverance so near, they might be killed. Earlier, some daring raids were carried out to rescue POWs, including one at Cabanatuan and at the University of Santo Tomás Internment Camp and Bilibid Prison at the height for the battle of Manila.
Life at Los Baños Internment Camp
In Los Baños, Laguna, at the UP College of Agriculture and UP College of Forestry, now the University of the Philippines Los Baños, which was located on a 60-acre (240,000 m2) site, was the POW and civilian internment camp, wedged between the foothills of Mount Makiling and the northern shore of Los Baños facing Laguna de Bay. The main internment building was inside Baker Hall, a gymnasium, where most internees had been incarcerated since 1942.
Surrounded by barbed wire fences in clusters of hatched huts were 8,146 civilian internees: 7,000 Filipinos, 1,527 Americans, 329 British, 133 Australians, 89 Dutch, 30 Norwegians, 22 Poles, 16 Italians, and 1 Nicaraguan. Aside from eleven navy nurses under the command of Chief Nurse Laura M. Cobb (some of U.S. military nurses known as the “Angels of Bataan and Corregidor”) and a few servicemen, most of the internees were civilian businessmen, teachers, bankers, and missionaries caught by the Japanese during the course of the war and incarcerated in various POW camps in the country.
On 14 May 1943, as the prisoner population at the University of Santo Tomás Internment Camp rose to unmanageable levels, the internees were transferred to the new Los Baños facility, some seventy kilometers (45 mi) away from Manila.
While incarcerated, the POWs had formed a committee to deal with the guards for self-governing purposes and to obtain whatever marginal freedom or concessions they could obtain from the Japanese prison authorities. Nonetheless, the internees were made to get by on dwindling rations, limited clothing, poor housing and non-existent sanitation, and endure the sadistic tendencies of the camp guards. By early 1945, the conditions in the camp turned hellish, with enforced limited rations and mounting abuse, courtesy of the camp’s second-in-command, Warrant Officer Sadaaki Konishi.
The U.S. 11th Airborne Division under Maj. Gen. Joseph Swing arrived in the southwest Pacific in mid-1944. Prior to taking part in the invasion of Leyte in October, the division had undergone theater combat training in New Guinea. Together with the 503rd Parachute Regimental Combat Team, these were the only U.S. Army airborne forces in the Pacific theater of operations. After Leyte, the 188th Glider Infantry Regiment landed at Nasugbu with the U.S. Eighth Army on 31 January, while the 511th Parachute Infantry Regiment parachuted into Tagaytay Ridge, south of Manila as a diversionary assault.
On 3 February 1945, Gen. Swing was tasked with a rescue mission to rescue the internees at the Los Baños camp, some twenty-five miles (40 km) behind the Japanese lines. However, with the 11th Airborne committed to a series of pitched battles south of Manila and the resolute Japanese defense at Nichols Field and Fort William McKinley, immediate deployment was out of the question. As an interim measure, Maj. Gen. Swing ordered his subordinates to develop a plan that could be implemented at the earliest possible moment. Then on 18 February, the 1st Battalion, 511th Parachute Infantry Regiment, under Major Henry Burgess, the main unit assigned to carry out the mission, was pulled out from its battlefield position on the so-called Genko Line, a fortified system of interlocking pillboxes and anti-tank fortifications running along the southern Manila district of Las Piñas and proceeded to Parañaque district to rest and regroup.
By 20 February 1945, the conditions on Luzon turned favorable, such that the various elements could be withdrawn from combat and apprised of their mission. They were ordered to their staging posts and readied to go, with the raid scheduled for 07:00 on 23 February.
For the jump phase of the assault plan, the 511th regimental commander, Lt. Col. Edward Lahti appointed Company B, 1st Battalion, 511th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 11th Airborne Division under 1Lt. John Ringler together with the Headquarters Company Light Machine Gun Platoon of 1Lt. Walter Hettlinger.
The 188th Glider Infantry Regiment of Colonel Robert Soule had perhaps the most daunting task; trying to stave off a counterattack from the main highway. Bivouacked across the San Juan River were some 8,000 Japanese troops of the 8th “Tiger” Division, commanded by Lt. Gen. Shizuo Yokoyama.
Casualties were expected to be high, but the risks were deemed to be worth it. The success of the mission would depend on speed and surprise.
The various Filipino guerrilla groups operating in the vicinity of Los Baños played a key role that led to the successful liberation of the camp. Earlier, in the partisan war against the Japanese, a combined guerrilla command was formed to bring some order to the effort by the defunct USAFFE command, which was in charge of unconventional forces in the Philippines, and renamed as the General Guerrilla Command (GGC) of Luzon under Maj. Jay D. Vanderpool of the U.S. Army.
Under the GGC, the Hunters ROTC (Reserve Officers Training Corps) guerrillas, made up originally of former cadets of the Philippine Military Academy along with some former ROTC and college students under the command of Col. Frank Quesada were one of the most active groups. Other formations include President Quezon’s Own Guerrillas (PQOG) under Col. Fil Avanceña, Red Lion’s Unit, the Filipino-Chinese 48th Squadron and the Villegas group of the Marxist Hukbalahaps were tasked by the GGC to coordinate operations related to Los Baños.
Among the members of Hunters-ROTC guerillas who participated in the raid was the future Filipino film star Mario Montenegro, then only sixteen years old.
Long before the arrival of the U.S. liberation forces, the guerrillas conducted intelligence operations that gathered precise inside information about the POWs in Los Baños and their guards. Many prisoners were long-time friends of partisan families before the war. With Lt. Col. Gustavo Ingles designated as overall guerrilla coordinator with the 11th Airborne Division, information was shared with Maj. Gen. Swing’s Command Staff, including Col. Henry Muller (G-2), and Col. Douglas Quandt (G-3), as well as other top planners, who fine-tuned the final strategy.
On 12 February, Freddy Zervoulakos, a 19-year old Greek-Filipino, slipped out of the camp and made contact with the guerrillas. He was sent back into the camp with the promise that the internees will be rescued. But the internee committee decided that it would be best for the prisoners to do nothing. A week later, another escapee from the camp, a civilian engineer named Pete Miles, gave further valuable information to the 11th A/B Division planners, including the daily routine in the camp, details of troop positions and the exact location of the internees. This proved a great asset to the planners and enabled them to finalize the four-phase plan that was timed to coincide with the guards’ exercise period, which was conducted by the Japanese troops without clothing, equipment, or weapons, thereby minimizing the risk of harm to the internees during the rescue. Other internees managed to escape from the camp days before the raid.
Meanwhile, Lt. Roger Miller, with two enlisted men, left to make a reconnaissance of the drop zone. They were instructed to return to the unit for debriefing and to jump with B Company.
The Joint U.S. Army-Guerrilla Assault Plan was as follows:
- Phase 1 would begin when the 11th Airborne’s Provisional Reconnaissance Platoon, under the command of 1Lt. George Skau, together with some twenty Filipino guerrilla guides, would travel behind enemy lines by bancas (local fishing boats) across Laguna Lake two nights before the raid, where they would wait. Four assault teams under Sgts. Martin Squires, Terry Santos (4th class graduate of the Alamo Scouts Training Center), Cliff Town and Robert Angus would assault the camp gate from different angles. At 07:00 on 23 February they were charged with marking the Drop Zones, Landing Zones and for the neutralizing of the camp gate guards, simultaneous with an attack from the remaining directions by the guerrillas’ 45th Hunter Regiment under Lt. Col. Ingles, who will also surround the entire camp perimeter prior to the signalled hour.
- In Phase 2, B Company, 1st Battalion, 511PIR led by Lieutenant John Ringler, with the support of Lieutenant Walter Hettlinger’s Machine Gun Platoon, would parachute into a small drop zone next to the camp, rendezvous with a Hukbalahap guerrilla unit, neutralize the remaining camp guards and secure the internees.
- In Phase 3, the remainder of 1st Battalion would board 54 LVT(4) tracked amphibious assault vehicles of the 672nd Amphibian Tractor Battalion commanded by Lt. Col. Joseph W. Gibbs at 04:00 and slip into Laguna de Bay and head for Mayondon Point, near San Antonio, some two miles (3 km) from the camp. A Recon Platoon squad under Sgt. Leonard Hahn would mark and guide them to their landing point. Here they would travel overland and make their way to the camp, scheduling to arrive shortly after 07:00. They would then carry the internees back to Mayondon Point and make good their escape to Mamatid village.
- Phase 4 involved the 188th Glider Infantry Regiment (minus its 2nd Battalion) and Company C of the 637th Tank Destroyer Battalion together with elements of the 472nd and 675th Field Artillery Battalions, under Colonel Robert H. Soule. The force would move down Highway 1 to act as a diversionary force and to engage the Japanese 8th Division, if necessary, so as to protect the flank.
Other guerrilla units such as Marking’s Fil-American troops and the 48th Chinese Squadron were to set up road blocks in the towns of Calauan, Bay and Pila to delay possible Japanese reinforcements. The Hunters-ROTC 47th Regiment under Col. E. de Ocampo would do the same in the Calamba-Pansol area.
The backup 11th A/B pack howitzers in Calamba, Laguna, area was to bombard the road towards Los Baños. All the surrounding approaches and to the main camp would be secured. The townspeople were briefed and asked to vacate Los Baños by the local PQOG home-guard units.
RaidUnder cover of darkness on 21 February 1945, Lt. Skau and his 31-man platoon left the north shore of Laguna de Bay and headed across the lake in three bancas. Lt. Skau and six men led the way while the separate assault teams followed soon after. Avoiding Japanese patrol craft on the lake, they landed near Nanhaya and met with Lt. Miller’s party, other local guerrillas and some camp escapees at the local schoolhouse. Included in the group were Freddy Zervoulakos and Benjamin Edwards, another young escapee, who sketched the layout of the camp on the schoolhouse blackboard. Lt. Skau decided to split his group into six teams, assigning a number of guerrillas to each team. Edwards and Zervoulakos each accompanied one team. On the night of 22 February, they journeyed through the jungle and rice paddies to their starting points, without alerting the Japanese, and were ready and waiting at 07:00 the next day.
Hours before 07:00, guerrillas of the 45th Hunters-ROTC Regiment had stealthily assumed their designated positions around the camp, and they waited for Lt. Skau’s Recon Platoon to signal the start of the assault.
At 04:00 on 23 February 1945 the 1st Battalion 511PIR (less B Company) boarded fifty-four amphibious tractors (Amtracs), slipped into Laguna de Bay, and headed for Mayondon Point. They also managed to reach their destination without alerting any Japanese defenders and headed off for the remaining 2 miles (3.2 km) overland journey to the camp, aiming to arrive just after 07:00.
Meanwhile, Lt. Ringler’s B Company, 511th PIR together with the Light Machine Gun Platoon, had spent the moonless night of 22 February waiting at Nichols Field where, in the early dawn, they donned their parachutes, put on their equipment, and loaded onto nine C47s of the 75th Troop Carrier Squadron, under the command of Major Don Anderson, for the short flight. Flying unopposed by Japanese aircraft or antiaircraft fire, they soon arrived at their destination, which was clearly marked with white smoke by the Reconnaissance Platoon.
Some three minutes before 07:00, a lone Japanese sentry hunting possum among the bushes that shielded the waiting guerrillas shot at an animal, which was taken as a signal that the raiders were spotted. A Filipino guerrilla broke cover and hacked the sentry to death. Instantly, a wave of men charged the camp.
The Recon Platoon teams immediately swung into action. The assault team led by Sgt. Santos destroyed three pillboxes outside the main gate with automatic weapons fire. Sgt. Town’s squad raked several guardhouses along the perimeter and decimated a patrol charging their position. Lt. Col. Ingles’s guerrillas overran the camp perimeter and were battling Japanese guards at the rear of the camp. While Lt. Skau’s platoon was heavily engaged with the guards at the main gate, some men popped colored smoke to mark the drop zone for the paratroopers.
At 07:00, coming in at the planned 500 feet (150 m) jump altitude and in three Vs-in-trail formation because of the small drop zone, Lt. Ringler’s paratroopers dropped from their aircraft. While the ground forces were overcoming the perimeter defenses, B Company regrouped, killed some stragglers fleeing from the camp and helped subdue the remaining guards before they had a chance to respond in force. The firefight was short and intense. The Japanese were defeated and the internees freed.
Mindful of the need for speed, Lt. Ringler’s men rounded up the internees as rapidly as they could. Some prisoners refused to leave, so Lt. Hettlinger’s men burned the camp’s remaining huts, to encourage the internees to the Amtracs. At first, the disabled, along with the women and children, were loaded onto the waiting vehicles, while the more able internees formed a walking column and headed for the beach and freedom. As they made their way to the beachhead at San Antonio, in the distance they could hear heavy machinery. Thinking that Japanese tanks were approaching, a mass panic among the internees started, but they were relieved when the “tanks” turned out to be amphibious vehicles. On schedule, the fifty four Amtracs of the 672nd Amphibious Battalion arrived, guided by the signal flares and white smoke of Sgt. Hahn’s squad.
In the distance, across the lake, intense fire was heard. That sound was from the Soule Task Force. Early that morning, the diversionary force of the 188th Glider Infantry Regiment and Company C of the 637th Tank Destroyer Battalion, together with elements of the 472nd and 675th Field Artillery Battalions under Soule, rolled out into Highway 1 and attacked across the San Juan River. They ran into Japanese opposition near the Lechería Hills where casualties were taken, but by mid-morning they had cleared the area and were marching towards Los Baños and cutting off the road between the Japanese 8th Tiger Division and Los Baños.
As the Amtracs started on the return trip, a hidden machinegun opened up and hit an Amtrac. Corporal Dwight Clark of the 672nd ATB returned fire with one of the Amtrac’s .50-caliber machineguns and silenced the gunner before any of the civilians or rescuers were harmed.
From an elevated position, Soule could see, in the distance, the Amtracs on the beach heading back to Mamatid, so he ordered his force to conduct a defensive withdrawal and to re-establish its bridgehead across the San Juan River.
Finally, 2,147 former Allied POWs and internees, including three-day old baby girl Lois Kathleen McCoy, reached Mamatid. Frank Buckles was also among the prisoners; he had been captured as a civilian in Manila.
Two of Sgt. Santos’s Recon Platoon members and four Filipino guerrillas were wounded. Two 188th Glider Infantry Regiment soldiers, J. C. Doiron and Vernal Ray McMurtrey, were killed at the Lecheria Hills engagement. The hand-to-hand skirmish was not without casualties. A handful of guards were able to muster a makeshift defense, killing two young Hunter guerrillas, Pfc. Atanacio Castillo and Pfc. Anselmo Soler. Their bodies were recovered and buried beside the College chapel.
Firsthand accounts include that of former internee, Lewis Thomas Watty, vice president of the POW committee, who said:
The ensuing fight went on for very long minutes without letup, enemy defenders caught by total surprise were pinned and cut down mercilessly by liberator’s fire. The Hunter experience through the years in irregular warfare paid off handsomely. It was also true of the paratroopers who were veterans of the South Pacific before they landed in Luzon.
A few days after the rescue, the Japanese in full force, led by the escaped Sadaaki Konishi, returned to Los Baños. Upon seeing that there were no POWs in sight, the Japanese turned their wrath on the remaining civilians in town who had failed to heed the warning from the guerrillas to leave. With the help of pro-Japanese MAKAPILI, the Japanese massacred some 1,500 men, women and children, and burned their homes, as well as those in the adjacent towns suspected of collaborating with the liberators. Konishi was tried for his war crimes after the war and hanged.
I doubt that any airborne unit in the world will ever be able to rival the Los Baños prison raid. It is the textbook airborne operation for all ages and all armies.
General Colin Powell, then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
The outstanding success of the Los Baños raid incorporated many facets that revolutionized generations of future special military operations. Thorough planning, reliable intelligence, stealth, speed and surprise, superior firepower, cooperation by friendly forces, and support of the populace gave the planners and forces implementing the raid an advantage that resulted in few casualties.
The vengeful massacre in the aftermath of the raid underlined the desperation of the Japanese army in their hopeless attempt to turn the fortunes of war. This campaign of ruthlessness was also reflected later in the concluded liberation of Manila and beyond, in the Pacific War.
For more information:
- Rescue at Los Baños: The Most Daring Prison Camp Raid of World War II, 2015, Bruce Henderson
- Escape at Dawn, 1988, Carol Terry Talbot and Virginia J. Muir
- Captured: The Japanese Internment of American Civilians in the Philippines, 1941-1945, 2000, Frances B. Cogan
- Angels at Dawn: The Los Banos Raid, 1999, Edward Flanagan
- Los Baños Civilian Internment Camp page at Mansell.com.
58 thoughts on “Los Baños Internment Camp, Luzon”
I would like to see list of those born in Los Banos Internment Camp. My Parents were interned initially in Santo Tomas, but eventually volunteers to transfer to Los Banos. Pedro Andres Casanave and Grete Kretzschmar Casanave, my eldest brother, Peter Albert Casanave was born, January 9, 1945.
Hi, Teresa, thanks for your message. There is a “War Babies” page on this site which lists most of the babies born within the various camps. Peter Albert Casanave doesn’t appear in the list, but I will check into this.
Thanks again and regards, Cliff.
Fascinating piece of history. My grandmother, Georgette Kramer, was wounded in the rescue, shot through her abdominal wall. She passed away at the age of 96 over the weekend. I stumbled upon all this fascinating history while looking for her obituary. Just amazing.
Kirsten, thanks for your message. I am sorry to hear about your grandmother’s passing. If you do find an obituary for her, I would like to post it, or make a link to it, so that others can read it. You can contact me using my Comments Form for this. I noticed that she is shown in the YouTube video Interviewing Philippine Internees, 1945, at the 62 minute, 10 sec. mark. Thanks again and regards, Cliff
God bless her soul I recently saw her interview after rescue what a beautiful young woman. Would be fascinated to hear about her accomplishments after the war and her life? Thank you
My parents were Santo Tomas and also volunteered to go to Los Banos.I was born on August 11, 1944. My parents are Michael O’Hara Sr. and Lorraine Schechter O’Hara. I’m Michael Jr.
Hi, Michael, thanks for your comments and info. Since you were born in Los Banos, I have added you to the War Babies page on this site. It now contains 119 listings. Thanks again and best regards, Cliff
Other members of my family interned were:
Pedro A Casanave, Sr., an American who served in the Spanish-American War. Wife: Teresa Escay Casanave.
son: Theodore Casanave & wife, Rachael Olive Buckner Casanave;
son, Emilio E Casanave, wife; Maria Levy Casanave (expired @ Santo Tomas), their son/grandson: Peter Alphonysis Casanave;
Son, Andres Pedro Casanave;
Son & my father, Pedro Andres Casanave, Jr, his wife & my mother, Grete Kretzschmar Casanave, grandson & my eldest Brother: Peter Albert Casanave. Peter was born in Los Banos Internment Camp on January 9, 1945.
Any information would be beneficial to the Casanave family.
Hi, Teresa, the Casanave’s that I have in my internee database are:
Casanave, Andres Escay
Casanave, Emilio Escay
Casanave, Marie Levy
Casanave, Pedro Andres
Casanave, Pedro, Jr.
Casanave, Peter A.
Casanave, Rachel Olive Buckner
Casanave, Teresa E.
Casanave, Theodore “Ted”
I will email you a couple of things that I have concerning them.
Peter Albert Casanave, my brother, was born at Los Banos Int. Camp, on January 9, 1945. In fact, several babies were born that day, as there was significant bombings taking place at other camp.
I would also like to find out the date of death for Maria Levy Casanave, she was mother to my 1st cousin, Pete(r) Alphonsious Casanave, he was ten years old by the end of the war.
Teresa Casanave Legler
Hi, Teresa. According to James E. McCall’s 1945 book, “Santo Tomas Internment Camp,” Marie L. Casanave died of cancer on 18 July 1943. I will email you this page, along with some other items. I am working on a “In Memoriam” page which will list over 600 civilian deaths.
My father Frank R. Beeman was, along with his parents and other family members was initially interned at Santo Tomas Interment camp. My father went to the “American School” obtaining a hand-drawn diploma from “Santo Tomas Interment Camp Education Department”. He and his family later had been transferred to Los Banos camp. Any information you may have would be wonderful. Thank you so much for providing this.
My father John Whitesides was at Santo Tomas and later moved to Los Banos. I was thinking of going to the Philippines in November to visit both Santo Tomas and Los Banos. Do you happen to know if there any historical tours of the two locations?
My father Frank R. Beeman was, along with his parents and other family members initially interned at Santo Tomas Interment camp. My father went to the “American School” obtaining a hand-drawn diploma from “Santo Tomas Interment Camp Education Department”. He and his family later had been transferred to Los Banos camp. Any information you may have would be wonderful. Thank you so much for providing this.
Janice – this is your cousin Douglas Colvin, Maudie’s son. Came across your email on the Los Banos site. Where are you?
My dear favorite cousin, I’m in tears, I’ve looked for you, thank you for reaching out, I’m in the LA area, at one point I was told you are in San Fran? Please email! Janiceme1@yahoo.com
Hi Clifford, you wrote ” According to James E. McCall’s 1945 book, “Santo Tomas Internment Camp,” Marie L. Casanave died of cancer on 18 July 1943. ” In what page is this found? Thank you!
Hi, Nereo. Thanks for your message. The listing for Marie Casanave appears on page 138 of McCall’s book, in the section entitled “List of Deceased in Santo Tomás Internment Camp and Los Banos Internment Camp During the Period from January 4, 1942, to March 18, 1945.” If you’d like, I can send you a copy of that page.
Hi Cliff, yes please. I hope you can also send me information about the Casanaves. I am writing a paper on Pedro Casanave as he was a noted photographer here in Iloilo before WWII. Thank you!
Sir, my email is nclujan [at] yahoo [dot] com thanks!
I am researching Millie Brown Sanders, often called Ma Sanders, in a presentation for the Harrison County Historic Museum. Millie was from Marshall, Harrison County, Texas. In the book, Manila, Goodbye, the author Robin Prising stated that Millie was transferred from Santo Tomas to Los Banos in 1944. Do you have a record of her being listed at Los Banos? If you have any additional information on her, I would love to know more about her. We also have a nice research center affiliated with the historic museum and courthouse. I will be placing my research at the research center once I am finished. Thank you in advance. Sandra Hooker
Have you seen the webpage about Millie at http://www.cnac.org/emilscott/milliesanders01.htm ? On it, they have a comment from Robin Prising that reads “Now if you took Marian Anderson and mixed her with Ethel Barrymore—they were of that period—you might get some idea of what Mildred Sanders was like (she pronounced it Sawn-ders). She sang in a deep contralto voice of very good quality and I think “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands” would be closest to her spirit. She also sang snatches of opera and sang: “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” as we worked together in the camp kitchen. She was supposed to be removed to Los Banos but ultimately remained at Santo Tomás. I have no leads about her husband. They seem to have been divorced for some years before the war, I do seem to recall hearing that he led a military band.”
On that same page is posted a newspaper article which appeared in the Pasadena Independent on 24 Oct 1948, titled “Forgotten Heroine Lives on Relief in Dank Shack.”
Thank you for your reply. In Robin Prising’s book, at one point he said Millie Brown Sanders was transferred to Los Banos. I had doubts, and you helped me to make a decision. Later, I believe that Robin corrected himself and said that she remained at Santo Tomas. After I talked to you, I got the 1948 Ebony magazine (9 pages) interview, “The Saga of Ma Sanders” where Millie gave a lot more details about her life in captivity. She didn’t mention being transferred. There was new information in the article. It is copyrighted, but I think that I am allowed to share it privately by email. An interesting fact that Millie revealed was that she checked herself into Santo Tomas after the Japanese soldiers beat her so badly. She couldn’t continue with her work and was very ill and injured after the beating. She also stated her husband was in the Bataan death march and was imprisoned at Cabanatuan.. That would have made him about 63 years old. Do you know if there is a list of POW’s at Cabanatuan? Thank you again for your help.
My family knew and loved Millie Sanders in the 1950s in Pasadena. I was just a kid, and Millie came to help my parents after I had major surgery. She was a beloved friend too….and I never knew why. Now I discover she was at Santo Tomas….at the same time my father’s Aunt and three cousins were interned there. Leah Lippe, her sons Myron Anthony and Marvin Leroy, and baby daughter Mary Ellen were there after Leah’s husband, John Merlin Lippe was killed in the bombing of Cavite harbor. I am VERY interested in any information about any of these people! Please share the Ebony article if you can. I will try to contact you, Sandra, through the Harrison County Historic Museum so we may email privately.
My mother has been searching for her Uncle John Robert O’Brien. He was on the Grant 27 years old and one of those left behind. Returned back to Detroit in horrific conditions. Left in the middle of His first night back . Never to be found again .My grandmother his sister Pat and his Brother Tim never stopped searching for him. My mother is all that is left and any info we could give her might help with closure .Thank You
My grandfather, George Eddy Heath, was a civilian prisoner at, I believe, Los Banos. I would like to find a list of the civilians imprisoned in Los Banos and thus ascertain if Los Banos was the camp in which he was imprisoned and from which he was rescued. Thank you.
Hi, Mike, your grandfather, George Eddy Heath, appears on the Los Banos Internment Camp roster compiled by Carol Louise Terry. This listing has been published in her book, Escape at Dawn, and in Santo Tomas Internment Camp, by Frederic H. Stevens. Both of these books should be available through public libraries. Follow this link to the Stevens book for the page that lists your grandfather. If it doesn’t work for you, please let me know. Regards, Cliff
THe book Rescue at Los Banos lists all the internees in the back.
I am looking for documentation of my Uncle and Aunts internment the internment camps in the Phillipines during WWII 1943-45. Their names were Clarence Kirk Kiene & Evelyn Kiene.
Hi, I am the niece of Harry (Henry) Gallagher. I just found letters to him at Los Banos University Prison. He was liberated by the Paratroopers. My mom’s letters are very sweet and I think she would like me to research this and share it with my children and grandchildren. Any help would be wonderful.
I have read “Rescue at Los Banos” and wondered if anyone remembered their mom or dad mentioning my uncle Henry(Harry ) Gallagher. He was the engineer for the electric company in Manila.
Any information would be welcomed.
Valerie Darcy O’Brien
North Kingstown, R.I.
Thank you; his name was indeed among those listed
Do you know if any id type photos were taken of the civilian POWs at Santo Tomas by the Japanese? My ex-in-laws (Max and Vera Brummett) were interned there after arriving in Manila on 7 Dec 9141. They’d left Shanghai on 1 Dec 1941. He was a Merchant Marine and was bringing his new bride to America. She’d been born in Russia. Their daughter was born in Manila and I found her name on the list.
Hi, Connie, I’m sorry I’m so late in answering your message. I do not think that the Japanese took photos of all the internees, but I will check on this with others. I have seen a few propaganda photos that were taken of the internees, but I will check the references that I have to see if there is anything published available. Best regards, Cliff
Just would like all to know the 11th Airborne
just today had their 37 annual LOS BANOS Reunion
of paratroopers and their families
at Forlini’s Restaurant
Hi John Cipollina, That is great that in 2017 you were still able to have annual LOS BANOS Reunion gatherings at Forlini’s Restaurant in NYC. How’s it going with the paratroopers this anniversary day in 2019?
My Aunt was Sister Mary Beata Mackie, one of the 54 Maryknoll religious sisters liberated this day. About 2002 Frank Forlini came out to their Motherhouse in Ossining, NY, on this date to meet the last of the sisters who were rescued, my aunt being one. God bless all the rescuers!
To whom ever might have some info on a “Roy C Bennett” a civilian held at the Santo Thomas, Manila Camp, 14-121. Repatriated, July, 1945. May have been my father, that I never knew. I’m looking for an X US Navy man, born in 1900, Floyd County, Georgia.
Hi, Louis, thanks for your message. There was a Roy Coleman Bennett interned in the camps, but he was born in 1889 in Centertown, Kentucky. There was also an internee named Roy DeWitt Bennett, but he was born about 1882. I will look through my resources to see if I can identify the Roy Bennett that you are looking for.
Idon’t understand, how can I receive any answer if my ID is not published
Hi, I am looking for any information on my parents who were interned at Santo Tomas and Los Banos, their names : Arthur “John” Hodges and Eleanora Hodges.
They were evacuated out of Shanghai on the S.S. Anhui and liberated on the David C Shanks to Townsville in Australia.
Hi, Joscelyn. I am traveling right now, but when I get home I will see see what I can find about your parents. Regards, Cliff
Do you have any information on John G. Whitesides. He had worked at the Bank of PI before being taken to Santo Tomas and then to Los Banos. Thanks, Tom
Hi, Tom, Thanks for your message. I do not think I have much, but I will email you the information that I have in my database for John Garrett Whitesides Jr. This information comes from published and public sources. If you don’t receive it within a week, please remind me. Thanks and regards, Cliff Mills
So far I haven’t found any mention of your parents in my father’s (John Dougherty’s) diaries but he was also interned at both STIC and Los Banos and like your parents was repatriated to Townsville. His ship docked in Townsville on 7 April 1945 and his father Hercules Dougherty was on the wharf to greet him. There is a photo of John and his father greeting on the wharf – they had not seen each other for eight years. Perhaps this was the same ship? The Townsville Bulletin ran an article on 7 April 1945. Then the Sydney Morning Herald ran an article on 9 April 1945 with a list of those internees who travelled by train to Sydney. The articles and photos are available on TROVE if you have access to that.
Hello, I am looking for information about my family who were interned in the Philippines. My g-grandmother and g-aunt were at the Santos Tomas camp. I am looking for grandmother who would have been 12-17 years old Helen Barbara Histed who was with her adopted mother Maria Esther de Silva. Was hoping they are an this internment list. Thank you
Hi, Carrie, I don’t have any record of either Helen or Maria being interned in the Philippines. I did find a record detailing that they were repatriated on the M.V. Highland Monarch from Hong Kong to Southampton in 1945, but I will check into some other sources to see if they might have been in Manila, even for a short time. I know there was a large British Da Silva family in the Philippines, during the War, so I will check into this further. Regards, Cliff
I grew up listening to this story from my grandpa.
His name was Clifford E Town/special forces, one of the leaders of this raid.
If you have any more information about him or his platoon I would love to read it. I miss him so much. Thank you.
Hi, Clifford, thanks for your message. I will check thru my resources and see if there are any references to your grandfather, Clifford E. Town. To confirm that I’m looking for the right person, was he from Wisconsin? Thanks again, Cliff
This article was brought to my attention by a close friend also born in the camp on January 30, 1945 and is most distressed as she is listed “not interned”. Karen Hinkley is her name. Could it be that thats because she was born so close to liberation? By the way, thats the picture of me and my parents at the top of the article and in the original my name is spelled correctly as LEA not Leah with an h. I also have photocopies of my original birth certificates signed by Dr. Dana Nance and Navy nurse Laura Cobb.
PS: My father, Hal Bowie, also worked with the guerillas. He would sneak out from the camp, unbeknownst by my mother, in the middle of the night.
Hi, Lea, thanks for your message. I have corrected the spelling of your name on my website. As for Karen, I am not sure why she does not appear in any of the camp rosters. Her parents’ names do appear in the listings for Los Banos internees, so I will continue to look for an answer. Thanks again and regards, Cliff
My cousin Karen Hinkley was indeed born in camp, her mother was Lucky Kathern Charter, myself, Betty, sister Anita, mother Ella an my Father along with Aunti Kitty, an Uncle Jay Hinkley we liberated Feb. 23, and all taken to the bay. My Father James Harper was the camp barber, and would cut hair of all and we got extra food items. I am writing my memoir as we speak an would like to know if any one remembers my Father, Jim Harper.
My Mother Ella M. Charter Harper was the daughter of. Thomas an Katherine Charter, grand mother’s family were from Canada, Please any one have any information on my Mother or my Father James A Harper please contact me. Thank you.
Hi, Betty, I will check into my books and other materials and see what I can find out about your family. I will e-mail whatever I can find to you as soon as I can. Best regards, Cliff
My parents, Jack and Lillian Purnell were at Los Banos and Santo Tomas. They were American and my father was working for Liggett and Myers when the war broke out. My mother had been in the Phillipines with her parents, Edward and Harriet Cottrell. They met and were married in Manilla. I have their written memories and a picture of my Dad in the camp (I think). Both of my parents have died but they were happily married for over 60 years. I would love to hear from anyone who knew them. My parents were wonderful people and I miss them every day.
I just found this site. My mother was in Santo Tomas and Los Banos with her parents, my grandparents, they were there from the time she was 14 until she was 19. She finished school there. My Grandfather was in the import export business. My grandparents left Russia went through China staying there for awhile then they came to California where my mother was born. William Aaron and Isabel ( Luba) Katz. My mother was Frances Valerie Katz. Any information would be greatly appreciated. Evie Bennett.
Hi, Evie, thanks for your message. The four members of your family that I have in my database of internees are William Aaron Katz (born 1875), Isabella Luba Katz (born 1886), Anne Katz (born 1908), and Frances Valerie Katz (born 1926). They were all repatriated to U.S. on the M.S. Torrens, leaving Manila on 10 April 1945, arriving in San Francisco, California, on 15 May 1945. If any of this is not correct, please let me know. In the meantime, I will check through the materials that I have for any mentions of them. Best regards, Cliff
Hi Cliff, I am writing an article for the Journal of the Old Tuam Society about Columban missionaries Fr Johnny Henaghan and Fr Peter Fallon who were both killed by the Japanese in Malate, Manila. Fr Henaghan, along with two other Columbans, was posthumously awarded the Medal of Freedom in 1948 for his humanitarian work in helping civilian internees and American POWs in Remedios Hospital, Santo Thomas University and Los Banos Agricultural College. Do you know if there are any details about their activities? Regards, Mairéad O’Brien
Hi, Mairéad, I’m sorry that I didn’t see your message till now. I am very familiar with the story involving the Columban missionaries that you cite. I will go thru my sources and send you what I have. I have 116 entries for clergy who were killed, or died, or vanished over the course of the War, most of the deaths happening in 1945. I will try to get what information I have to you this week. Regards, Cliff