Passing of Isabel Cogan Krebs

Isabel Cogan Krebs, undated photoI am very sad to report the death of Isabel Cogan Krebs on March 13, 2024, in East Greenbush, New York. The announcement of her death appeared on, provided by the Albany Times Union. The obituary covers mainly Isabel’s life post-internment.

Isabel Joan Cogan was born in Davao, on Mindanao, in 1934. Her British father, Edwin Osgood Cogan, was born in Manila in 1903 and worked for the International Harvester Company. Her mother, Helen Olga Cogan, was born in Calcutta, India, in 1909. Isabel and her parents were interned in Santo Tomás Internment Camp (STIC) in early 1942.

After STIC was liberated in 1945 the family was repatriated on the U.S.S. Admiral E.W. Eberle leaving Manila on 10 April 1945, arriving in San Pedro, California, on 2 May 1945.

Isabel was interviewed for No One Asked: Testimonies of American Women Interned by the Japanese in World War II, a PhD dissertation by Audrey Maurer, 1999, City University of New York.

Read the entire obituary at

Photo courtesy of the Albany Times Union.

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

The Smothers Family’s link to Philippines, by Martin Meadows

Smothers Brothers in 1965 photoA veritable blizzard of media accounts followed the death on 26 December 2023 of Tom Smothers, the senior half of the famed Smothers Brothers, whose show-business credentials date to the 1960s. The purpose of this post is not to add to that blizzard; on the contrary, my initial intention was simply to briefly highlight that the brothers (in what I thought was a not-well-known fact) had been evacuated from the Philippines not long before the Pearl Harbor attack brought the U.S. into WWII; and — a slightly better-known fact — that the brothers’ father, a Major in the U.S. Army, later died while in Japanese captivity. My initial post, consisting of a grand total of four lines, has since been transformed into this somewhat more extensive report.

Why the changed plans, and what did that involve? My initial reaction soon changed when I looked through the flood of accounts about Tom Smothers and his family. I then decided to look more closely into the whole family’s history prior to the immediate post-WWII period. Given that context, my revised decision resulted from the fact that virtually all of the stories about the Smothers family displayed one or more of the following shortcomings — information was either non-existent, incomplete, and/or just plain wrong. (That verdict applies, for example, to the article whose link is attached at the bottom, along with two illustrative paragraphs from the article, which are excerpted from about 1/3 of the way into the article. The verdict even applies to the Wikipedia entry on the brothers.)

To make it clear at the outset, however, this narrative does not seek to present a comprehensive review of the family’s history; nor does it deal in any way with the Smothers Brothers’ show-business history, which, as noted, has been covered by innumerable writers. Its purposes are twofold: to present the highlights of the missing and thus almost completely unknown record of the head of the Smothers family prior to his arrival in the Philippines in 1940; and to clarify the almost always incorrect, and often even badly-garbled “facts,” relating to the Smothers children’s births and their arrival in and later evacuation from the Philippines.
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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.

Sally Meadows to speak in Los Altos, CA

Sally Meadows photoCPOW Commander, Sally Meadows, is set to speak Los Altos, California, at noon on Friday, 19 January 2024. Sally will be delivering a talk on “Former civilian POWs and their internment by the Japanese during Japan’s Occupation of the Philippines in World War II.”

The program is hosted by the Los Altos Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR). The Chapter focuses on local historic preservation projects, genealogy research, fundraising for a Foothill College scholarship fund, environmental conservation, service to veterans, and other community projects. The talk will be held in the Apricot Room of the Los Altos Community Center, 97 Hillview Ave, Los Altos.

According to the announcement:

    “The presentation will explore a largely unknown facet of World War II in the Pacific: the fact that thousands of civilians, including Americans and citizens of other Allied nations, were held captive by the Imperial Japanese military in internment camps throughout Asia – specifically, those who were interned in the Philippines and how they survived over three years of captivity. The stories include why these people were in the Philippines when the war started, how the internment happened, life in camp, and the eventual liberation by General MacArthur’s forces.”

Link to the complete article online and to register for the event, visit

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.

WWII STIC Icon Helps Solve a Mystery, by Martin Meadows

Preface. This brief explanatory note is for those who may be unfamiliar with two terms in the title. STIC is the acronym for Santo Tomas Internment Camp, a WWII (World War II) prison in Manila, Philippines, established by the Imperial Japanese Army. STIC housed several thousand Allied nationals (American, British, etc.) for 37 months during 1942-1945. And one other important point needs emphasis: much of the following account has been made possible by material unearthed by ace internet sleuth Cliff Mills.

To clarify at the outset, the internee icon of the title is STIC’s late great Master of Entertainment, David Harvey MacTurk, better known to one and all as Dave Harvey. Additionally, Harvey was not personally involved in solving the cited mystery. So, just what is his connection to this brief offshoot from a much broader and much longer work? As to the latter, I have been working on what I believe will be the definitive Harvey biography— if only because it will be the first and the only one in existence. In the process, I have completed a portion of the narrative that at best is only tangentially related to the biography as a whole, for it deals with a matter of mainly personal interest. (It is one of many such matters I never thought to ask my parents about, when that was still possible.) I decided to present the aforesaid portion separately from, and before completion of, the biography for several reasons: to thereby spread awareness of the biography; in so doing, perhaps to also induce interest in it; and, more practically, to shorten the finished product. And now on to the mystery and its (perceived) solution.

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Tennis Great’s link to the Philippines, by Martin Meadows

Dwight F. Davis on TIME magazine coverThanks to internet sleuth nonpareil Cliff Mills, an interesting but little-known connection has come to light between the Philippines and an American tennis giant. The latter was none other than Dwight F. Davis (1879-1945), who was Governor General of the Philippines from 1929 to 1932. (Unfortunately, during his tenure I was a bit too young to hit with him or to otherwise benefit from his court expertise.) Davis ranks as a tennis giant in large part because he was the founder of the Davis Cup international tennis competition. The extremely brief — actually, skeletal — outline of his record below to introduce this topic is from Wikipedia; it is followed by two 1929 Manila newspaper articles (unearthed by Cliff Mills, himself a tennis enthusiast); and then by somewhat more detailed coverage of Davis’ background and history to round out this historical footnote.

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