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Battle of Manila

Liberation & Repatriation

Ex-Internees & Others, after the War

10 thoughts on “Photos

    • Hi, Marleen, it was nice seeing your message. There are many books, diaries and articles on Santo Tomás, which was the largest of the civilian internment camps, and where our grandfather, Alvah Eugene Johnson, was interned. My other grandfather, Clinton Floren Carlson, always liked the book, Santo Tomás Internment Camp: 1942-1945, published in 1946 by Frederic H. Stevens, but some other titles are listed on the Santo Tomás page. I will put together a list and email it to you. You should be able to borrow through inter-library loan. Best regards, Cliff

    • Marlene where do you live, My name is Betty Harper Ritchie, my Mother, Father, Sister an my self were in both Santo Tomas, an Los Banos : Three an one half years of hell an loneliness ,starvation an cruelty . I would like to hear from you.

  1. I am interested in stories where the use of radio was described as part of the life in the Santo Tomas Internment Camp, or any internment camp. Do you have any suggestions?

    • Hi, Hannah, thanks for your message. The Japanese tried to confiscate all radio equipment at the start of the War, but there were hidden radios smuggled, or built, in the camps. Following are a few passages about the use of radio in the camps. I hope that these will be useful to you. Best regards, Cliff

      There is a short chapter on this topic in the book Santo Tomas Internment Camp, 1946, by Frederic H. Stevens, titled Secret Transmitters and Receiving Sets, on pages 265-267.

      “A Camp secret which was known to probably only five or six men, although its importance might well have spelled the difference between life and death, had emergency risen, for the entire internee body, was the secret transmitter and receiving set constructed in Camp and made ready at all times for instant use.

      The purpose of this construction was two-fold: first, to provide a means of communication with American forces in the event that conditions within Santo Tomas Internment Camp should become completely untenable, and second, to provide a means of collection of definite news in order that the policy of the Internee Committee might be best directed for the benefit of the internees as a whole, whenever the American forces made an assault upon the Philippines, and upon Luzon in particular.

      The idea of having a means of communicating with the outside world was originally conceived by Luis de Alcuaz, a Filipino scientist, secretary to the Rector of Santo Tomas University, and by George Newman, prior to the war with the Marsman Mining property. Construction of equipment was carried out by Delvin Axe, who had been section communications supervisor of Pan American Airways at Manila and during internment was assigned to custodian of University property detail.

      Equipment was collected from a great number of sources — all of course “under cover,” inasmuch as detection by the Japanese military would undoubtedly have resulted in execution; the possession of even a small quantity of electric wire was a serious offense and the possession of any type of communication equipment by any civilian, in or out of the Camp, was strictly prohibited. Some of the equipment was obtained from the physics department of Santo Tomas University while a great portion was obtained by Mr. de Alcuaz from outside and smuggled into the Camp in small lots. Other essential units were constructed from raw material available within the Camp …”

      In his book, Surviving a Japanese Internment Camp: Life and Liberation at Santo Tomás, Manila, in World War II, 2013, Rupert Wilkinson mentions the use of the secret radio equipment:

      “The Leyte news came from secret radios. The Japanese never found them despite sudden searches that turned shanties and dorm rooms upside-down. There were at least two radios, each feeding news to different internee leaders. One operation was run by electrician Tom Poole, who brought in a radio at the beginning and moved his sets between various hiding places, including a well, the movie projection apparatus on the plaza, and a series of shanties. Unknown to Poole, George Newman, a mining executive, and Delvin Axe, former “communications supervisor” for Pan Am, built a radio using parts smuggled in by the university administrator, Luis de Alcuaz. Besides a receiver, they also built a transmitter for emergency use, but it was seldom used, if at all, because sending messages increased the risk of detection. Radio expert Jerry Sams and two others also ran a scam on the Japanese, repairing their sets for them but spinning out the repairs while they tuned into the news, and then tinkering with the sets so that they needed more repair later.

      To hide their sources, radio operators and one of their “fences,” internee official Horace Pond, sometimes delayed and distorted the news so it would sound like a general rumor. In this way, radio news fed rather than contained the camp’s hyperactive rumor mill.”

      In the book, Forbidden Family: A Wartime Memoir of the Philippines, 1989, by Margaret Sams and edited by Lynn Z. bloom, the experiences of Jerry Sams, who built, used and hid his secret radio unit in STIC, are described in several places, including the following sample from page 17 of the introduction:

      “Jerry Sams had an additional advantage. In addition to possessing a radio, he was one of the few people who knew how to build it, even how to make the tubes. “He asked for only one tube to be smuggled in from Manila,” says Halsema in admiration. Only an electronics genius could have built a radio (from innocuous materials in camp) that was capable of picking up signals from stations across the Pacific (to LB 11/21/87). Consequently, though Jerry was often on the outs with the camp central committee in Los Banos, since he was one of the few people who knew how to make something, otherwise unattainable, that they wanted and needed, he was usually insulated from their wrath. He could get away with a fair amount because the camp needed his expertise.

      Jerry, with Margaret’s help, was also adept at concealing the apparatus amid the ordinary paraphernalia of camp life. But it was also true that, for Jerry to have a radio somewhere in the family cubicle, along with radio parts and other forbidden items, was to keep Margaret in a state of continuous tension and fear.”

      In “The Santo Tomas Story, 1964, by A.V.H. Hartendorp, the use of radios within STIC are described on pages 349-350:

      “Internees in Santo Tomas had sometimes commented in a self-congratulatory manner on the accuracy of the “rumors” of war developments which circulated in the camp. The fact was that, unknown to all but a very few internees, there was a radio receiver in the camp. At one time, indeed, there were several. T. W. Poole, the camp electrician, had a radio in his possession from the beginning, but did not use it much during the first two years because the news came in well enough through the camp buyers and occasional visitors. He kept the set bolted inside a 5-gallon oil can with a tight cover which, at need, could be sunk into a well. He even had a replacement set, kept inside a pressure cooker which could also be safely immersed.

      After the Japanese military took over the administration of the camp in February 1944, little news could come in from the outside. Then, in addition to Poole’s, another receiver was put in operation. It was usually concealed near the outdoor stage on the plaza. The men using it were somewhat indiscreet in passing on the news to others, in Poole’s opinion, and when their radio was brought to him for repair, he retained it, giving them instead such news as he received over his own instrument, but, in self-protection, keeping them about three days behind.

      Poole transferred his radio from shack to shack and at various times concealed it in the moving-picture projection booth on the main plaza, and sometimes in plain sight on the top of the coldstores refrigerator in the rear corridor of the main building. Despite their frequent searches, the Japanese never found it.”

      Finally, in G.I. Nightingales: The Army Nurse Corps in World War II, 1996, by Barbara Tomblin, the author mentions the presence of the hidden radios on page 33:

      “Although conditions at Santo Tomas were far from ideal during the first two years, they deteriorated rapidly when the Japanese military took over control of the camp in February 1944. Instead of “fairly decent” Japanese civilian administrators, Santo Tomas now came under strict military control. Communication with the outside was forbidden, the ration was cut, newspapers banned, and all canteens, restaurants, and shops were closed. From five-minute broadcasts each day picked up on a hidden radio, the internees kept informed of the progress of the war, but often the news was distorted in the retelling. “By the time the news reached me, it had become so mixed and garbled with rumors that it was hard to know exactly what was and what wasn’t the truth,” Marie Adams said. Naturally the camp officials disapproved of the radio. Adams recalls, “The Japs knew we had it but were never able to locate it.” One night, in a desperate effort to find the radio’s location, the Japanese guards roused everyone from sleep and searched the entire camp, all eight buildings and 600 shanties. To no avail! The secret radio remained hidden in a coffee can until Santo Tomas was liberated by American forces!


      • Jose Luis 'Linggoy' Alcuaz y Araneta

        Luis Alcuaz y Tuazon was my uncle. He married Pomponette Francisco from whose parents my parents, Manuel Alcuaz y Tuazon and Rosa Araneta y Zaragoza bought our hectare and a half garden with an American country home (built in 1927 and now at Casas de Acuzar, Bagac, Bataan) in April 1941. When my uncle and auntie went to San Francisco, Ca., USA, in 1945, they changed their name to de Alcuaz. We are in touch by FB with our cousins, nephews & nieces. Other uncles, aunties and cousins migrated to the San Mateo and Sacramento area with family names: Gallegos, Herman, Lopretti, Munoa,

        • Jose, thanks for your message and the new information regarding your relatives. This is very useful to have. Thanks again and regards, Cliff

  2. Hi Cliff,

    What remarkable job you have done, thank you.

    My father, Robert Tabor (age 81) remembers taking food to his father, John Tabor who was being held as a prisoner. My father remembers living in Los Banos, area. Can you help me locate John Tabor (American).

  3. Can you put names with the photos?
    My mother’s family lived in the Philippines for 35 years prior to the Japanese invasion. Some of the family left prior to the invasion, but others were interned. I have been reading books about this time period while combing through old family memorabilia. Besides my own relatives, there might also be photos on your website of their friends who were mentioned in letters, etc. prior to the war. I would love to be able to match names with faces.

    • Hi, Lee Ann, thanks for your message. When I release the internee database, it will have links to internee photos which I have collected. Some of these come from public documents or from newspapers. If you send me the names of your family members who were interned, I will check for them. Thanks and regards, Cliff

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