Santo Tomas Internment Camp

Santo Tomas Internment Camp, aerial view.

Santo Tomás Internment Camp [STIC] was the largest of several camps in the Philippines in which the Japanese interned enemy civilians, mostly Americans, in World War II. The campus of the University of Santo Tomás in Manila was utilized for the camp which housed more than 4,000 internees from January 1942 until February 1945.

Over a period of several days, the Japanese occupiers of Manila collected all enemy aliens in Manila and transported them to the University of Santo Tomás, a fenced compound 50 acres (22 ha) in size. Thousands of people, mostly Americans and British, staked out living and sleeping quarters for themselves and their families in the buildings of the University. The Japanese mostly let the foreigners fend for themselves except for appointing room monitors and ordering a 7:30 p.m. roll call every night.

American flag draped over balcony of building as American and Filipino civilians cheer their release from the Japanese prison camp at Santo Tomas University folllowing Allied liberation of the city. Manila, Luzon, Philippines. February 05, 1945

The Japanese selected a business executive named Earl Carroll as head of the internee government and he selected five, later nine, men he knew to serve as an executive committee. They appointed a British missionary who had lived in Japan, Ernest Stanley, as interpreter. Santo Tomás quickly became a “miniature city.’ The internees created several committees to manage affairs, including a police force, set up a hospital with the abundant medical personnel available, and began providing morning and evening meals to more than 1,000 internees who did not have food.

Carl Mydans. Freed American and Filipino prisoners outside main entrance of Santo Tomas University which was used as a Japanese prison camp before Allied liberation forces entered the city. Manila, Luzon, Philippines. February 05, 1945

Santo Tomás became increasingly crowded as internees from outlying camps and islands were transferred into the camp. With the population in Santo Tomás approaching 5,000, the Japanese on May 9, 1943 announced that 800 men would be transferred to a new camp, Los Banos, 37 miles (68 km) distant, the then campus of the University of the Philippines College of Agriculture, now part of University of the Philippines Los Baños. On May 14, the 800 men were loaded on trains and left Santo Tomás. In succeeding months, other enemy aliens were transferred to Los Baños including a large number of missionaries and clergymen who were previously allowed to remain outside the internment camps provided they pledged not to engage in politics.

Carl Mydans. Emaciated father feeding Army rations to his son after he and his family were freed from a Japanese prison camp following the Allied liberation of the city. Manila, Luzon, Philippines. February 05, 1945

The American force that liberated the internees at Santo Tomas was small and the Japanese still had soldiers near the compound. Fighting went on for several days. The internees received food and medical treatment but were not allowed to leave Santo Tomas. Registration of them for return to their countries of origin began. On February 7, General Douglas MacArthur visited the compound, an event that was accompanied by Japanese shelling. That night and again on February 10, 28 people in the compound were killed in the artillery barrage, including 16 internees.

Carl Mydans. Two emaciated American civilians, Lee Rogers (L) & John C. Todd, sit outside gym which had been used as a Japanese prison camp following their release by Allied forces liberating the city. Manila, Luzon, Philippines, February 05, 1945

The evacuation of the internees began on February 11. Sixty-four U.S army nurses interned in Santo Tomas were the first to leave that day and board airplanes for the United States. Flights and ships to the United States for most internees began on February 22.  Although food became adequate with the arrival of American soldiers, life continued to be difficult. The lingering effects of near-starvation for so many months saw 48 people die in the camp in February, the highest death total for any month. Most internees could not leave the camp because of a lack of housing in Manila.

Click on images to enlarge.

Photography and information from: “Return To The Philippines World War II” by Rafael Steinberg; Prison Photography.org; Philippine Internment; Trinity College Digital Repository;

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Military Humor –

You have your point of view – and I have mine.

For when you just want to reach out and touch someone.

 

 

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Farewell Salutes –

Myriam (Wescott) Alley – Tacoma, WA; US Army WAC, WWII

Charles Edeal – Sumner, NE; civilian, WWII, Africa & CBI, B-25 aircraft mechanic

Campbell Henderson – Cairns, NZ; RNZ Air Force, WWII, PTO, Radar Unit 53, Cape Astrolabe, Malaita

Rick Jolly – Hong Kong/London, ENG; Royal Navy, Falklands War, surgeon

Robert Kozul – Fairmont, WV; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

Donald LeSuer – Jay, ME; US Army, WWII, PTO, SSgt., 911 Signal Corps

Martin Newman – brn: London, ENG/Canberra, AUS; RA Air Force, Wing Commander

Angelo Rolando – Rocky Hill, CT; US Army, WWII, Pfc, Purple Heart

Robert Tulk – Tiffin, OH; US Navy, WWII & Korea

Addison Mort Walker – Kansas City, MO; US Army, WWII, ETO /cartoonist628x471

 

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About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on February 1, 2018, in Uncategorized, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 135 Comments.

  1. I assume that there was a food shortage all over the Philippines? It was just much worse in the camps.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Man, I never knew anything about this prison camp. I had 2 friends both ministers who were interned somewhere near or in the Manilla are but never knew for sure where I still don’t

    Liked by 2 people

    • As civilians, they were either in Santo Thomas, Los Banos or both – they transferred so many. There were quite a few nuns at Los Banos. (a topic which will be following in a number of posts.) Do you remember their names?
      [if you wish to keep them private, just say so in your reply and only you and I will see it, then I’ll delete it]

      Liked by 1 person

  3. It is amazing how casually human beings inflict pain on others.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks for following my UTLOT blog; you are very kind.

    Like

  5. It is always an education, visiting your site, GP. Thank you for keeping the history alive.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. It’s just unfathomable. You wonder how anybody could such things and not realize their ideology is evil.

    Liked by 1 person

    • They never expected that many prisoners to begin with, hence the Bataan March and food rationing to the extreme. The guards had been trained to completely fear their superiors, so they did whatever they thought would please them too.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. So often, civilian casualties are overlooked when counting the cost of war. Their suffering goes unrecorded until photographs,or written accounts record precise moments and the anguish is captured for posterity. We owe these people their moment in history; they can have no better historian than you.Thank you for your brilliant posts.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. One wonders how they could survive, it must have been just courage and a determination to live.
    I see these emaciated people and wonder; ‘would I have been able to survive this?’

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I learned something new. I probably should have known it, but until I read this post I hadn’t realized that American civilians were interred during WWII.

    Liked by 1 person

    • No surprise, Sheryl. For some reason, Santo Tomas and Los Banos rescues were down-played. I can not explain it other than the camps in the ETO got the newspaper headlines.

      Like

  10. There really are two sides to that camp. On the one hand, there are the horrors. On the other, there is the determination of the prisoners to organize and do what they could to maintain a kind of civil order and survive.

    The brief mention of children being on both sides of the conflict brought memories of the Liberian civil war, where many of the soldiers were children. The atrocities they committed were as great as those committed by adults; the same is true in certain other radical groups around the world today. Starving children is a horror, but twisting children into hate-filled warriors is no less a horror. It’s hard to read such stories, but it’s important.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Hoe die uitgemergelde mannen konden overleven is me een raadsel.Het lijken wel skeletten

    Liked by 1 person

  12. The Japanese were very brutal to prisoners.

    I got to see the results of that brutality I had a neighbor in Florida that survived The Bataan Death March.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Reblogged this on Give Me Liberty and commented:
    Lest We Forget.
    The Japanese were very brutal to prisoners

    Liked by 1 person

    • You also need to remember that the guards were afraid of their own superiors and the supplies were wearing mighty thin for the enemy troops too. They had received far more prisoners than they ever expected. But agreed, some were very cruel.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Absolutely fascinating. I knew a bit about Changi, in Singapore, because my uncle was there. But not this.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just as the US and Canada interned Japanese, Italian and Germans – the Japanese thought it prudent to do the same. Heck one of them could be a spy (like Chick Parsons from the previous post). This was no where near as bad as Changi or Sandakan, in fact the children were always fed first – Out of 4,255 prisoners, 466 died in captivity, three were killed while attempting to escape on February 15 , 1942.

      Like

  15. Very heartbreaking post gp, the story alone of 4.000 internees creates sad images, the pictures, especially the little boy being fed by his father, tells the story of that camp in its entirety.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Just having to stay there after the camp was freed must have made survivors very unhappy.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I don’t know how you can still classify yourself as a human being when Messrs Rogers & Todd are the result of what you have, or rather, have not done.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The Japanese were running out of supplies for their own troops, so it was obvious that the prisoners would suffer. The enemy never expected quite as many POW’s as they received. Yes, atrocities did occur, as we know, war brings out the best and the worse, and the Japanese Private was as fearful of his superior as he was of war – that didn’t help.

      Like

    • I did mean to add, the children were always fed first and out of 4,255 prisoners, 466 died in captivity, three were killed while attempting to escape on February 15 , 1942, but one made a successful breakout in early January, 1945. It sure could have been worse.

      Like

  18. Certainly didn’t want to click on and enlarge that picture of the starving soldiers. Man’s inhumanity to man always sends chills through me. So sad.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. This was a very interesting post and incredibly sad. Especially the last picture.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. These stories are hard to hear but must be continually shown so that these atrocities are never forgotten. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. I thought it sounded fairly civilized in comparison to other Japanese prisoner-of-war camps I’ve read about, G, until I saw the photo of the emaciated soldiers. –Curt

    Liked by 1 person

  22. It’s amazing (and heartbreaking) what people can survive. Another great post GP. (Also great military humor).

    Liked by 1 person

  23. My father served in North Africa and Italy, some of his friends served in the Pacific, but they were all so reticent about their experiences (understandably) and I think the sentiments abroad in the late ’60s and ’70s meant that their great feats of liberation weren’t honoured as they should have been. I’m baffled as to why my generation seemed to learn so little about the course of the war in the Pacific, especially when I live in NZ!
    I appreciate your posts and am grateful to learn more about the Greatest Generation, both military and civilian, and the courage and common-sense they exemplified.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Welcome aboard, Valerie, and I hope you continue to find the posts interesting. You ask a question I can not answer. Here in the US, we also did not learn much about the Pacific except the major Marine battles. But it turns out the Pacific was a larger war, lasted longer and had more going on than any of us ever imagined. Much of the NZ data was kept in records and described as ‘Commonwealth’, but I do have some posts and parts of posts that include your fine nation. History is quickly being erased and ignored, so I’m trying to give the younger generation one more place to locate information and the older generations to remember. Thank you for stopping by.

      Like

  24. Those wishing to learn more about the internment by the Japanese of Americans, Aussies, and others in Luzon during WWII might want to read “God’s Arms Around Us” by William Moule and a little-known book entitled “Interrupted Lives: Four Women’s Stories of Internment During World War II in the Philippines,” edited by Lily Nova and Iven Lourie. I plan to attend the 2018 reunion (the last weekend in April in Sacramento, CA) of the Bay Area Civilian Ex-Prisoners of War (BACEPOW) and actually meet some of those very survivors and their descendants. I know the stories I’ll hear will be fascinating!

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Fascinating, and sad. Another great history lesson.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. theburningheart

    Excellent, and informative post as usual. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  27. So sad to see how thin the emancipated men were! It is a miracle how they survived. Thanks for a good read.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Fascinating. Most of (if not all) of my knowldege on the treatment of civilians in WW2 by Japanese forces comes from Neville Shute’s “Town Called Alice”. The photo of the two male civilivans is truly shocking.

    Liked by 2 people

  29. wesiks899 said it for me

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Sad and informative. I had no idea the prisoners set up such an organized internment.

    Liked by 1 person

  31. More worrying evidence of Japanese atrocities during that war, and their disregard for human life. Sad to read.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Their food scarcity wasn’t just for the prisoners, as we know from other islands, Japan just didn’t have the supplies for everyone, including their own men. When they were confronted with more than twice the amount of prisoners than they expected – disaster!

      Liked by 1 person

  32. American soldiers and Philippine guerrillas also did brutality things to Japanese soldiers,too. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  33. I new of some of the horrors but never knew families let alone children were in some camps. I cannot even put into words how terrible that was and in some ways it is probably going on in today’s world somewhere. Shudder…

    Liked by 2 people

  34. I agree with Wesiks899 – – horrific.
    And to survive all those years, and then die right after the camp was liberated, seems particularly heartbreaking. Thank you for publishing the unvarnished reality.

    Liked by 1 person

  35. Thanks for sharing. I studied college there and spent a few years in that same old building. I knew there’s some horrific secrets those silent massive walls have witnessed over time.

    Liked by 1 person

  36. Until I saw that last photograph, I was thinking that this place didn’t sound so bad—no torture, self-policed, fairly autonomous. But that last photograph says it all. And then I realized that no internment camp, no prison, is a place where human beings want to live. Great post, GP!

    Liked by 3 people

  37. That was informative and great.

    Liked by 1 person

  38. Excellent post. I just pulled out that book “Return to the Philippines” by Rafael Steinberg from my bookshelf and was reading “A City that Died in Battle”. What do they say? “Great minds think alike”. I’m reblogging this.

    Liked by 2 people

  39. I kept waiting for the description of prisoner executions as the Japanese were driven from the city. I’ve read that it happened at other prison camps.

    Liked by 1 person

  40. Horrific. I have no other words to describe it.

    Liked by 2 people

  41. Thank you for linking up.

    Like

  42. Thank you, Penny. It’s great having the reblog button back, eh?!

    Like

  1. Pingback: Santo Tomas Internment Camp | PenneyVanderbilt

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