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World War II: Liberating Los Baños Internment Camp

Originally published by World War II magazine. Published Online: June 12, 2006 
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As Allied forces retook territory the Japanese had wrested from them at the beginning of the war in the Pacific, the fate of prisoners of war (POWs) and civilian internees was of major concern to the Allied high command. This was particularly true in the Philippines, where thousands of survivors of the Bataan Death March, as well as American and European civilians, were being held prisoner.

General Douglas MacArthur, the U.S. commander in the Philippines, ordered his subordinates to make every effort to liberate camps in their areas of operation as quickly as possible. Daring raids were organized to free prisoners and internees ahead of the attacking American forces, for it was suspected that the Japanese captors would slaughter their charges before they could be rescued. These fears were not unjustified–on more than one occasion, POWs had been slaughtered by their guards.

The former University of the Philippines Agricultural School at Los Baños, a town on the island of Luzon some 40 miles southeast of Manila, had been converted into an internment camp for more than 2,000 civilians who had had the misfortune of falling into Japanese hands at the beginning of the war. The 2,122 internees who were at the camp in the late winter of 1945 were of many nationalities, though the majority were American, and of every age, including infants. For more than three years, the internees at Los Baños, along with POWs in other camps, had waited patiently for the day when their liberators would arrive. On January 9, 1945, the U.S. Sixth Army waded ashore at Lingayen Gulf and began moving south. Three weeks later the Eighth Army landed at Nasugbu and began moving north. Within a month, the advancing U.S. forces were on the doorstep of Manila. For the occupants of the Los Baños camp, rescue appeared imminent.

As the advancing U.S. forces drew nearer and nearer to Manila, General MacArthur became concerned that the Japanese might decide to slaughter the American POWs and other Allied civilians under their control. During the Sixth Army's movement south, troops liberated American and other Allied POWs in several camps.

One of the most spectacular liberation efforts was that conducted by the 6th Ranger Battalion at Cabanatuan. A Ranger task force, assisted by Filipino guerrillas, penetrated deep into Japanese territory and, after crawling more than a mile on their bellies, attacked Cabanatuan prison and freed some 500 POWs, bringing them 20 miles to safety. Nearer Manila, elements of the 1st Cavalry assaulted the campus of Santo Tomas University and freed more than 3,500 civilian internees.

Los Baños was some 25 miles southeast of Manila and thus outside the primary line of advance for the American forces. Located on Laguna de Bay, a large freshwater lake, Los Baños was accessible to amphibious and ground forces. Because Los Baños was located in the 11th Airborne Division's area of operations, a third means of attack was also possible: a paratroop assault from the skies.

The 11th Airborne Division had arrived in the southwest Pacific in mid-1944. Under the command of Maj. Gen. Joe Swing, the 11th had undergone theater training in New Guinea prior to taking part in the invasion of Leyte. The 503rd Regimental Combat Team and the 11th were the only American airborne forces to fight in the Pacific. After Leyte, the parachute elements of the 11th moved to Mindoro, while the glider troops prepared for an amphibious landing at Nasugbu Bay. On January 31 the 188th Glider Regiment landed at Nasugbu with the Eighth Army. Four days later, the airborne infantry of the 511th Airborne Regimental Combat team jumped onto Tagaytay Ridge. Because of a shortage of available transport, the 475th Parachute Field Artillery and other support units jumped in the following day.

Once on the ground on Luzon, the 11th Airborne began working its way toward Manila after the parachute and glider elements had linked up. By mid-February, the 11th was engaged in combat along the so-called Genko Line, a fortified system of interlocking pillboxes running along the south side of Manila. Although the division was already engaged in heavy combat, General Swing and members of his staff were well aware that they were responsible for liberating the Los Baños internees. The problem was that they had not yet determined the best method for carrying out the mission.

The Filipino guerrilla groups operating in the area played a key role in the liberation of the camp. The Hunters-ROTC (Reserve Officers Training Corps) Guerrillas, made up originally of former cadets of the Philippine Military Academy, were one of the most active groups, along with ex-ROTC students and other former college students. Other groups included President Quezon's Own Guerrillas (the PQOG), the Chinese Guerrillas of Luzon and the Hukbalahaps, a Marxist group with their own agenda for the Philippines. To bring some order to the guerrilla effort, U.S. Army Major Jay D. Vanderpool had formed a combined guerrilla command known as the General Guerrilla Command (GGC) of Luzon. The GGC would coordinate operations against Los Baños.

Inside the camp, there was some dissension as to whether the internees should make any effort to make contact with the Americans and effect a rescue. Los Baños was filled with civilians, with the exception of 12 U.S. Navy nurses. Some of the men were of military age, however, and one or two had tried to enlist in the U.S. forces shortly after Pearl Harbor but had been unsuccessful.

On the night of February 12, 1945, Freddy Zervoulakas, 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 a copy of a letter from Major Vanderpool instructing the guerrillas to make every effort to free the internees–but the internee committee responsible for governing the camp decided that it would be best for the internees to do nothing. Nevertheless, several male prisoners slipped under the wire in the days before the rescue.

On Sunday, February 18, Major Henry Burgess, commander of the 1st Paratrooper Battalion, was ordered to withdraw his battalion from positions on the Genko Line and proceed to Manila. While the battalion rested, Burgess reported to the 11th Airborne Division headquarters, then located at Paranaque. The 26-year-old major met first with Colonel Douglas Quant, the division G-3 (operations officer), who informed him that his unit was going to be involved in the liberation of 2,000 civilian prisoners from the camp at Los Baños. Burgess spent the remainder of the day at headquarters, meeting with division Intelligence and Operations and planning the mission.

The following day Burgess met Pete Miles, an internee who had escaped from the camp the previous day and been conveyed by guerrillas to the 11th Airborne Division. Miles provided information of the layout of the camp and the schedules of the guards, details that were essential to complete the mission precisely and without needlessly endangering the internees.

The division plan called for a multi-pronged assault on the camp. A parachute company would launch the raid by jumping into a drop zone inside or adjacent to the camp at dawn on the day of the attack. The division recon platoon would cross the bay in advance of the main party, make contact with the guerrillas and organize them to attack the camp sentries exactly at H-hour. Major Burgess' battalion, minus one company, would proceed across Laguna de Bay aboard amphibious vehicles and provide the main body of the attacking force. A combat team was to attack overland from Manila on Highway 1, with the objective of providing a blocking force to cut off any Japanese reinforcements.

For the parachute assault, the 511th's regimental commander, Lt. Col. Ed Lahti, selected B Company of the 1st Battalion, commanded by 1st Lt. John M. Ringler, because it was closest to full strength. Heavy combat in recent days had severely depleted the ranks of all the division's units.

One unique factor in the Los Baños mission was that the planning for the raid itself was generally left up to the men who would do the job. Ringler personally planned the airborne phase of the mission, down to selecting a 500-foot-jump altitude instead of the usual 700­1,000 feet, so the men would be exposed for less time. Ringler also determined that the drop formation should fly three V's-in-trail of three planes each because of the small drop zone. Nine Douglas C-47s from the 65th Troop Carrier Squadron of the 54th Troop Carrier Group were selected to make the drop.

The division reconnaissance platoon under Lieutenant George Skau played a major role in the Los Baños operation. Skau's 31-man platoon would be responsible for infiltrating into the area around the camp prior to the raid and linking up with the guerrillas, then integrating the indigenous forces into the rescue effort. The soldiers of the platoon were typically of the 'rugged outdoorsman' variety, and their familiarity with hiking, camping and hunting especially suited them for missions deep behind enemy lines.

On the evening of February 21, some 36 hours before the planned attack, Lieutenant Skau's recon platoon moved out by truck for the barrio of Wulilyos, where they met Filipino guides and the crews of three bancas (sailing vessels ordinarily used for fishing and trade in the coastal waters of the Philippines). The first banca moved out at 2000 hours with Skau and his headquarters group aboard. A second, larger banca set sail some 15 minutes later. The third was meant to sail right behind with the bulk of the platoon's supplies and men, but the Filipino captain discovered that the rudder was broken. Repairs took two hours.

The trip across Laguna de Bay was planned to take two or three hours. But it was not until the wee morning hours that the first banca finally touched shore near Los Baños after an eight-hour journey due to light winds that failed to fill the sails. One of the bancas was still in the middle of the lake at daybreak and making little progress. The Filipino crew spent the rest of the day trying every trick in the book to get the heavily laden vessel to its destination, but it was well into the evening when the banca reached shore. The paratroopers of the recon platoon had spent most of the day crouching uncomfortably beneath the side rails of the ship to avoid being seen by the Japanese patrol boats that still ruled the waters.

After reaching shore with only a portion of his men, Skau began making plans to carry out his mission with the small force that had landed with him. While his men rested out of sight, Skau met with the guerrilla leaders and two escaped internees in a schoolhouse in the barrio of Nanhaya. Ben Edwards, one of the former prisoners, sketched the layout of the camp on the school blackboard for the paratroopers. Assuming that the last banca would arrive in time for the rescue, Skau broke his group into six teams and assigned from eight to 12 guerrillas to each one. Edwards and the other internee, Freddy Zervoulakos, each accompanied one of the teams. Late that evening, the third banca finally reached shore. Shortly after midnight, the recon platoon teams began moving out from their rendezvous point at the schoolhouse for their attack positions.

The amphibious element boarded amtracs and moved out at 0500 on February 23. Fifty-four amtracs from the 672nd Amphibian Tractor Battalion set out across Laguna de Bay from Mamatid, their noisy engines giving notice that the attacking force was on its way. In the pitch-black, pre-dawn darkness, a lack of landmarks forced the tractor drivers to navigate solely by compass.

At Nichols Field outside Manila, the paratroopers boarded nine C-47s at 0530. Half an hour later, the pilots started their engines. After takeoff, each of the jump planes orbited over the field until all nine were airborne and had joined the formation. At 0640 the C-47s headed southeast over Laguna de Bay toward Los Baños. Fifteen minutes later, the pilots signaled a six-minute warning by turning on the red paratrooper jump lights in the cargo compartments of their airplanes. At 0700 Ringler stepped from the door of the lead C-47; the Los Baños raid was in progress.

As the jump planes passed over the camp, the Japanese sentries were in the process of changing the guard, and the internees were lined up for morning roll call. The plan called for the recon platoon to attack the sentry positions and other Japanese strongholds as the troopers were floating to earth, but only two of the five teams were in position at H-hour. At the sight of the drop planes over Los Baños, the other three teams had to abandon stealth and rushed headlong for the camp. Nevertheless, the attack went off more or less as planned. By 0715, when Ringler had finished organizing his men and the first of the jump teams reached the camp perimeter, Los Baños was already under attack from three sides. A number of the guards, most of whom had turned out without weapons for morning calisthenics, were killed, while others fled for the hills.

By the time the amtracs arrived from the shores of Laguna de Bay, the gun battle was practically over. Guards of the overwhelmed Japanese garrison had either been killed, were hiding, or had fled. Among the latter was Warrant Officer Sadaaki Konishi, the tyrannical second-in-command at the camp. Largely because of Konishi's policy of withholding food, the paratroopers found a starving horde of internees, many of whom weighed barely 100 pounds.

The original evacuation plan had been for a task force made up of men from the 188th Glider Regiment under Colonel Robert Soule to fight their way down National Highway 1 to Los Baños, then evacuate the internees overland to Manila. The amtrac battalion was only to deliver the bulk of Major Burgess' paratrooper battalion, then return to Mamatid empty while the rescuers returned with the internees. After an hour at the camp, however, Burgess determined from the sound of firing that Soule's task force was still at least three hours away from Los Baños. At the same time, he was well aware that thousands of Japanese troops were within striking distance of his location.

At the last minute the plans were changed–Burgess decided not to wait for the task force. The internees were to be evacuated by amtrac, and the paratroopers would return to Manila with Soule's task force. Burgess directed the amtrac commander, Lt. Col. Joe Gibbs, to order his men to load their vehicles with internees, then evacuate them to Mamatid and shuttle back and forth until both the internees and members of the raiding party were all withdrawn to safety.

Organizing the liberated prisoners, most of whom were milling about the camp with little sense of order, was a problem; the internees were ecstatic about being rescued, but were hardly in a mood to fall into any kind of formation. Major Burgess observed that the internees seemed to be drifting in advance of fires that had been started in some of the barracks during the raid, so he ordered his men to set fire to the camp in such a manner that the fires would lead the internees in the direction of the main gate, where the amtracs were waiting.

By 0900, two hours after the commencement of the raid, some order had begun to appear among the internees. Those who could do so had begun the two-mile walk to the beach, while those who were unable to make the hike were loaded aboard amtracs for the journey. After the infirm were evacuated, several amtracs began to aid the walking by providing a lift to the beach.

As the internees moved out of the camp, Major Burgess and his troopers began a systematic search to ensure that all internees were accounted for and that none were still in the camp. The soldiers did as thorough a job as possible. Because many of the Filipino guerrillas disappeared into the jungle after the raid, many Americans liberated at Los Baños never knew to what extent the irregular troops had contributed to their release.

By mid-day, the Soule task force had advanced in the face of enemy resistance to a point just outside Los Baños. By then the evacuation by amtrac was proceeding quite well, as the officers of the task force could see from activities on the lake. Colonel Soule elected to halt his advance at the San Juan River and to maintain a bridgehead in the event the paratroopers had to withdraw by land as planned.

From Los Baños, the internees proceeded to the village of San Antonio, where the head of the marching column arrived at about 1000. From there, the amtracs, filled with evacuees, formed up into columns of three and slid into the waters of the lake for the two-hour journey to Mamatid. While on the lake, several of the amtracs came under fire from Japanese shore positions. Little damage was done, although one amtrac had to offload its cargo of evacuees and be towed to shore by another vessel.

By noon the remainder of the internees and the rear guard of the 1st Battalion had reached San Antonio. Burgess still had not made contact with Soule, nor was he in contact with the 11th Division headquarters. Essentially, he was on his own. Around that time General Swing flew over the beach in a light liaison aircraft. After Burgess advised the general by radio that the raid had been successful and that he planned to evacuate the remainder of the group and his own men with the amtracs that were on their way back to San Antonio, the young major was flabbergasted at his commander's reply: Could he perhaps liberate the entire town of Los Baños, then move west to link up with the 188th and keep possession of the territory they had gained?

Burgess was in the middle of contested territory with what, for all practical purposes, was a raiding party, and with strong enemy forces within easy striking distance. He did not answer the general's request, but after carefully considering his situation, he simply switched his radio off and did not acknowledge that he had received the message.

At around 1500 the last amtrac shoved off from San Antonio with the final load of internees and troops. At Mamatid the internees moved to the former New Bilibid prison, where they prepared for the journey to their homes in the United States and elsewhere.

While the liberation of the internees from Los Baños went off without a hitch, there is a dark epilogue to the story. After the 11th Airborne Division paratroopers left the area, the Japanese moved back in. Ironically, the first Americans to re-enter the vicinity of Los Baños were the same paratroopers who had liberated the camp only days before. What they found in the barrios surrounding the camp this time was both nauseating and pitiful. Whole families had been tied to the stilts supporting their houses, then the dwellings had been set ablaze, collapsing around their helpless former inhabitants. Burgess estimated that more than 1,500 Filipinos had been cruelly killed, evidently in retaliation for the rescue of the internees.

There is some question as to the identity of those who did the killing. The Japanese in the area were reinforced by pro-Japanese Filipino units commanded by Japanese officers and NCOs. Many of the villages in the region were pro-Japanese 'Makapili' as well–residents at odds with their countrymen who favored a return to American control.

One Japanese soldier later identified as having played a part in the reprisals in the area–including the murder of an American family that had lived near Los Baños and had not been interned–was Warrant Officer Sadaaki Konishi, the sadistic second-in-command of the camp at Los Baños. After the war, Konishi was implicated by certain Filipinos, tried for his crimes, and then executed as a war criminal.



This article was written by Sam McGowan and originally appeared in World War II magazine. For more great articles subscribe to World War II magazine today!


110 Responses to “World War II: Liberating Los Baños Internment Camp”


  1. 1
    Fred M Pohl says:

    My father T/th grade Fred J Pohl was in Co "A"
    672nd AMTRAC Bn 37th Infantry Division Involved in the rescue of Internees at Los banos I always Remember the motto of my Fathers Bn "Ever Onward"

    • 1.1
      Victoria Christine Bingham says:

      Dear Mr. Pohl, Do you know other families like yours that had paratroopers involved in the 'Los Banos rescue' AND also perhaps, family members of those rescued? Are you aware of any contact groups?

      I am writing on behalf of Oathkeepers.org who are laboring on behalf of a WWII paratrooper from the 511th Parachute Infantry Regiment, who dropped into Los Banos to participate in the rescue, now though.. to rescue him.

      68 years later the nation is issuing its 'thanks' in the form of illegitimate foreclosure papers to force Mr. Bodecker (now 89 years old) from his house, and as such, have to exhume his wife from their backyard in the process.

      The story is longer than this email is suited for, but the details may be found at http://www.Oathkeepers.org.

      We are trying to publicize this hero's plight, by getting as many signers to a Change.org petition (http://www.change.org/petitions/montana-state-government-stop-foreclosure-proceedings-against-wwii-vet-warren-bodecker# ) and also to contact the Montana authorities and voice their feelings about the issue.

      Thank you for whatever help you are willing to extend to this WWII veteran and American hero. I can be contacted at: awaok@bfresco.com or by calling 703 -333-2720 in Virginia.

  2. 2
    Julie Morales says:

    A friend of mine was an american POW in Los Baños, Philippines japanese camp, in World War II. His name was Dr. Robert T. Browne and I would like to get information about him, like a list of POWs there, and fotographies, if possible. He was one of the survivors of this camp, but he died in 1978.
    I will appreciate your informations.

    • 2.1
      Pablo says:

      I don't know if you are aware that he became a spiritual teacher. He founded THE HERMETIC SOCIETY FOR WORLD SERVICE.

    • 2.2
      Prof. Finley says:

      Dr Robert T. Browne was actually a religious leader during his time in the camp. His metaphysical religious leanings were said to save many lives in the camp, as he coached them in creative visualization techniques in order to help them overcome starvation. Mitch Horowitz talks in detail about him in his book Occult America in the chapter on black magical traditions. And, yes, he did go on to found the Hermetic Society with his wife. It is still in existence….

  3. 3
    Julie Morales says:

    Ahother friend of mine was an american POW too in a Philippines japanese camp, in World War II. Her name was Miss Cecilia Michell and I would like to get information about her, but I don't know in which japanesse camp she was. She was one of the survivors of the camp in which she was a POW.
    I will appreciate your informations.

  4. 4
    Robert Colby says:

    My older brother Jack A, Colby was with the 11th and in the 511th and was involved in these operations. We found out he was okay by means of some of the internees when they got back to the states. Any more info asl me
    RLC

    • 4.1
      Victoria Christine Bingham says:

      Dear Mr. Colby, We are also actively looking for POW veterans and Paratrooper heirs, from the Los Banos rescue.
      A gentleman, Warren Bodecker was in the 511th when it touched down in the dawn hours set to rescue the detainees. Now he needs people to come to his rescue to help the 89 year old save his house. He's on his last legs with cancer, and his wife is buried in their back yard, but he's fighting illegitimate foreclosure proceedings with goal of being buried on his own land, next to his spouse. I think if the family members of the fathers and mothers he helped to save, knew about the specious situation, they could make a noise that would be heard around the nation. Our goal then, you see, is not to just save Mr. Bodecker's home, and save our nation's face in this! But to prevent this type of derelict activity from being perpetrated on anyone else. More information can be gleaned from 'www.oathkeepers.org' or by contacting me at: awaok@bfresco.com.
      Again if you know others related to this rescue, would you share that information with us, or with them?
      God bless you.
      Victoria Bingham

  5. 5
    Karen Concannon Meyer says:

    My father, Michael Francis Concannon was one of the 11th airborne paratroopers from the infantry. The POWs – many innocent women, missionaries and children, were due to be executed at dawn. The soldiers had intelligence that the Japanese did their exercises at dawn with just loin cloths and not weapons. When the chutes opened, the troopers barely had time for them to open before hitting the ground and they were shooting in the air as they came down. They got all of the prisoners free but some of them were disoriented and didn't want to leave their belongings. The soldiers had to burn the huts to get the people to leave because they new they had the amphibious assault teams waiting in the lake to take POWs across the lake to safety. It was a huge undertaking and our men were loving and compassionate and helped the people without losing a single life of POW or our soldiers. The History channel did a documentary on it and before my father passed away he watched it and recognized some of his buddies on the film. He broke down in tears because the Japanese had sent children into battle and he had killed a 13 year old boy. He thought he was young and came back to see his id – he was crushed. He was also so upset because while they were in the jungles, both the Japanese and our soldiers were cut off from supplies for 10 days and were starving. One of his best friends went missing and they found him – with steaks cut out of his back – the enemy had eaten their best friend. Those kinds of things he kept to himself for 60 years and though he loved his country dearly, he never said anything bad about the Japanese or his fellow man. He had suffered the horrors or war but he didn't let it defeat him personally.

    • 5.1
      Julie Pickens Hardaway says:

      Karen, the things you have shared here are the same stories I've heard about my grandfather, John Paul Pickens, a paratrooper in the 11th Airborne and Los Banos rescue! He passed away just this April and I am researching everything I can get my hands on. He, too never spoke of his days as a soldier. In fact, a few years before his death he noticed a photograph on the cover of a book my grandmother, his wife was reading. He said, "Let me see that book." She handed it to him and he said, "I was there. I helped put those nurses in the back of that truck." The book was, We Band of Angels. Until that point, my grandmother had no idea he'd been involved. I am BEYOND proud of him and am dedicated to telling his story to all these sweet grandbabies he is responsible for. I cannot imagine what things they saw and endured. How precious it is to me to be his.

      • 5.1.1
        Bill Gindhart (Jr.) says:

        Julie,
        My dad passed away in Nov. 2005 and was on the jump to rescue the internees at Los Banos. I called Col. Ringler when he died and he remembered my dad as a platoon Sgt with B Company 511 PIR.
        The only reason B Co. was chosen to jump was they had just gotten12 more replacements than the other companies.
        B Company is the only outfit during WWII that made 3 combat jumps.
        They were; Tagytagy Ridge, Los Banos abd Appari, all in Luzon, RPI.
        There are several more books available on the jump at Amazon.com
        The jump on Los Banos is also studied at the Military War College.
        Let me know if this helps.
        Bill

      • 5.1.2
        Victoria Christine Bingham says:

        Julie, Would you be willing to use your voice to rescue a 511th paratrooper who needs it? Please go to Oathkeepers.org and read the tragic story unfolding in Montana concerning WWII veteran Warren Bodecker. Thanks!

    • 5.2
      Sal Herera says:

      My Dad was also in the 11th airborne and was one who helped. He didnt realy like talking about his time in ww2 but I do know He missed all those that did not come back. I thank God for the men and woman who served and are still serving in the U.S. military. God bless u all.

    • 5.3
      Loretta Alty Murphy says:

      thank you for sharing. My Father Alberto(Al) Altobelli(Alty) was also part of the 11th Airborne. He never spoke of the horror's. Just now with documentaries we are seeing truth's. He passed in 1991 at 75 years old.

  6. 6
    john p. montesa says:

    When I was 17 1/2 years old I was sent from Santo Tomas Internment Camp with 799 other civilian internees to establish the Los Banos camp on the grounds of the agricultural college of the University of The Philippines. We had to manual labor with picks, shovels and wheelbarrows to excavate and level the sloping hillside where the Japanese military expected the internees' barracks to be constructed. After some time we were relieved of this work by the Japanese command. I remained in that camp until liberated by the airborne outfit. I could elaborate in great detail on our life there, the conditions, etc. If you wish you can reach me at the e-mail address of "john.montesa@gmail.com"

    • 6.1
      Georgina Taylor Muhareb says:

      Hi,
      My father was a merchant marine during the war. My Dad's name was Willis L. Taylor. He was 31 when he was captured. Did you know my Dad? or know someone that might have known my Dad. My Dad didn't talk much about being at Los Banos. I would like to find out more and if there is anyone I can talk to that knew him, it would be great.
      Thanks for any information you might have,
      Georgina Taylor Muhareb

  7. 7
    adrian g. maravilla says:

    My father was WWII, retired AFP officer. I tried to get a copy of his military record which is now in the US Military archives. Though I am a Vietnam Vet. myself, I cannot get my father's military record because of their bull crap requirements that only the spouse, the eldest kin and the eldest grand kin can get this records. Unluckily I am just the third son. Any suggestion

  8. 8
    Bruce Christie says:

    My father, Alexander Christie, was interned at Los Ba?os. He was part of the "Vatican City" group. He was assigned a new job for the morning of Feb. 23, 1945. That was to guard the fire wood pile and thus he had a ring side seat for the liberation. He never talked of his ordeal while he was alive and it wasn't until his death in 1995 that we discovered he had kept a diary of this period. I am now in the process of trying to decipher his hand writing. Any surviving internees or liberators can contact me if they wish at abc1082@webtv.net or abchristie@juno.com

    • 8.1
      Victoria Christine Bingham says:

      Bruce, Would you be willing to use your voice to rescue a 511th paratrooper who needs it? Please go to Oathkeepers.org and read the tragic story unfolding in Montana concerning WWII veteran Warren Bodecker. Thanks!
      Victoria (awaok@bfresco.com)

  9. 9
    Kathy Perow says:

    Thank you for the histories and the forum. I am an American now living just outside UPLB and have realized I am very near the site of the Los Banos camp. I would like to pay my respects properly, and would welcome contact from anyone who could confirm the exact location of the camp in reference to the current campus. I will be happy to lay a stone of remembrance for any who wish it. kcperow@gmail.com

    • 9.1
      David H. Record says:

      My g-uncle, S. Davis Winship was rescued from Los Banos. I wonder if you have found information at the school. I wish I could find photos showing the internees after the rescue and then find him in a photo. Thanks for your consideration. David

      • 9.1.1
        DOUG MCMASTER says:

        Hi, David
        S. Davis Winship was my uncle and his father S.Davis Winship Senior was interned. Let me know if you find out any roster listings, etc. I was in Farmington ca. 2001 researching family lines.Please email me.
        Thanks.

      • 9.1.2
        David H. Record says:

        Doug: Call me at 207-426-8957. David

      • 9.1.3
        David H. Record says:

        Doug: Your e-mail doesn't show. I tried people search for you but don't know in which state you reside. I can't make my e-mail go through. I will describe it: my name, the space between david and record is underlined. @hotmail.com. I am your 2nd cousin and have much information about your grandfather. I hope you have much from your mom. David

      • 9.1.4
        Carol Deach says:

        We had three friends in Grangville Idaho who were associated with Los Bonos. Debbie and Karl Urquhart are a couple who's fathers were friends and survivors of Los Bonos. Stan Urquhart and Wendel Wilcox were their fathers names and they have some pictures. They were young boys when they were interned. Then a man we know named Woody Fitch who was in his 90s and has since died was one of thier rescuers. I think I remember seeing a photo of them in the camp.

      • 9.1.5
        Victoria Christine Bingham says:

        David, Would you be willing to use your voice to rescue a 511th paratrooper who needs it? Please go to Oathkeepers.org and read the tragic story unfolding in Montana concerning WWII veteran Warren Bodecker. Thanks!
        Victoria (awaok@bfresco.com)

  10. 10
    John Beaber says:

    My father was also at Los Banos. the following link tell his story.
    http://www.geocities.com/ithascome/

    Thank you.

    • 10.1
      Victoria Christine Bingham says:

      John, Would you be willing to use your voice to rescue a 511th paratrooper who needs it? Please go to Oathkeepers.org and read the tragic story unfolding in Montana concerning WWII veteran Warren Bodecker. Thanks!
      Victoria (awaok@bfresco.com)

      • 10.1.1
        John Beaber says:

        Yes I have saved the link… and when I have the time will post a notice concerning this matter on my website.

  11. 11
    Dan Danner says:

    My mother was one of the Navy Nurses held at Los Banos. It has been my great good fortune to meet a number of the veterans of the 11th Airborne Division and offer my personal thanks for the fact that I would not be alive had they not so flawlessly performed their rescue mission.

    One of the veterans of the 11th told me that the rescue was the finest thing he had ever done in his life. I've often wondered how many children were born to the rescued POW's and what they've accomplished in the world.

    It would be wonderful if we could find out and get that information to the veterans of the 11th, the Filipino guerilla veterans, their families and to the people of Los Banos to thank them for their sacrifice and give the legacy of their heroism to future generations.

    If there is a link or a group already engaged in this effort, please let me know. If anyone wants to collaborate on such a project, count me in. I can be contacted by email at dandanner@hotmail.com

    Warmest Regards and Gratitude…

    Dan

  12. 12
    Joseph A Gibbs, LTC, US Army Ret. says:

    My father, COL Joseph W Gibbs, was the Commanding Officer of the 672nd Amphibious Tractor Battalion. He was extremely proud of the unit which he commanded from its beginning at Fort Hood, Texas through its preparation for combat at Fort Ord, CA to the actual engagement in the Pacific campaigns. Without a doubt, the high point in the unit history was the rescue of the POW's at Los Banos. General Colin Powell has said that the rescue at Los Banos was a text book example of the correct way to conduct a rescue operation. General Douglas MacArthur was also very pleased with the success of the rescue.

    • 12.1
      Jeanette Breland Fernandez says:

      I have a letter of contratulations to the 672nd Amphibian Tractor Batillion signed by Lt. Col. J. W. Gibbs. My father, Robert S. Breland was apparently a member of this group. I only recently found this letter in some of my father's effects that my mother had saved. He never spoke of the war to my mother only that he was a tank operator. He died in September 1952 at the VA Hospital in Biloxi, Mississippi.

    • 12.2
      Victoria Christine Bingham says:

      Dear Sir, Would you be willing to use your voice to help us rescue a Los Banos hero? Warren Bodecker was in the 511th when it touched down in the dawn hours set to rescue the detainees. Now he needs people to come to his rescue to help the 89 year old save his house. He's on his last legs with cancer, and his wife is buried in their back yard, but he's fighting illegitimate foreclosure proceedings with goal of being buried on his own land, next to his spouse. I think if the family members of the fathers and mothers he helped to save, knew about the specious situation, they could make a noise that would be heard around the nation. Our goal then, you see, is not to just save Mr. Bodecker's home, and save our nation's face in this! But to prevent this type of derelict activity from being perpetrated on anyone else. More information can be gleaned from 'www.oathkeepers.org' or by contacting me at: awaok@bfresco.com.
      Again if you know others related to this rescue, would you share that information with us, or with them?
      God bless you.
      Victoria Bingham

  13. 13
    Kevin McCoy says:

    My parents Oscar and Mildred (Millie) McCoy and my 3 day old sister Lois were rescued that day due to the brave men of our military and the support of the Filipino guerillas. My prayers and gratitude go out to you each year at this time of the anniversary of this incredlble rescue.

    • 13.1
      chuck Lyons says:

      I am a freelance writer doing a piece on the Los Banos raid and saw a post from you about your parents and sister being among those rescued. Where were your parents from and what were they doing in the Philippines? Do you have any more details about their internment and rescue?

  14. 14
    Marti Serensits says:

    Both of my parents, Buck and Martha Waterstradt, were rescued that day.

    I grew up hearing stories of their experiences in both Santo Tomas and Los Banos. Their rescue was an amazing feat – to be snatched 25 miles behind enemy lines on the day they were to be executed! My unending gratitude goes out to the brave military!

  15. 15
    John Beaber says:

    Dropping by to let you know that I had to move my Dad's site to a new location. This site is also about Los Bonos. The new link is http://ithascome.bravehost.com/index.html

  16. 16
    Dr. Gilberto J. Fiallo Ch. says:

    THIS INFORMATIONN IS FOR JULIE MORALES:

    I have many information about Drt. Robert T. Browne, surviver of the Japonese Camp.
    He wrote some books of philosophy and created of Institution called "THE HERMETIC SOCIETY FOR WORLD SERVICE" in New York, USA. The actual International Head Quarter is in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, in the Caribean Sea.
    You may contact us whenever you or any want to.
    atte.
    Dr. Gilberto J. Fiallo Ch.

  17. 17
    Lynn Brown says:

    Find out more about Dr. Robert T. Browne in the book "Fighting for America, Black Soldiers, the Unsung Heroes of World War II, by Christopher Paul Moore. pp 43 and especially pp280-287, which is particularly about Los Banos and also has a photo of Dr. Browne.

  18. 18
    David C Wilson says:

    My father Sam G Wilson, my Uncle William Wilson and my Grandmother Gertrude Helen Otto were in the camp 3 years.
    My Granfather Captain Sam Joseph Wilson with General Mcarthur liberated the camp. My granfather had married Gertrude Helen Otte a German in the Philipines and he was instrmental because he knew the Philipines like the palm of his hand.

    Sam J Wilson right hand of General Mcharthur liberated the camp.

    My direct phone is 6192797956. If you wish to share some History call em please.

    • 18.1
      sharon says:

      hello my name is sharon, I am tying to do research on my great Grand Father who is Captain Samuel Joseph Wilson. I would really appreciate it if you could tell me more about him

  19. 19
    Gail Lansing says:

    My Uncle who's name was Rolf Hinnen Hanson was a POW at Camp Banos, also. His wife, Donie, was place in Camp Santo Tomas.
    He was a mining engineer/contractor in the Phillipines and his wife was a school teacher before they were captured.
    I am wondering if anyone that was in Camp Banos remembers my Uncle? I am trying to find out the actual date that he was released from there. I would appreciate anything anyone can tell me.

    Thank you so much.
    Gail Lansing glansing4298@charter.net

  20. 20
    Ishmael L. Rodrigo Col (Ret) says:

    There are just a few of us left who participated in the planning and execution of that "spectacular" rescue and liberation of the Allied Internmemt Camp in Los Banos, Laguna sometime in February 1945. And the irony of it all is that, a lot of us are not found in the "records of Missourri" as having served with the Armed Forces of the United States. Isn't that a shame? Anyway, personally, I,m glad to have done my "bit of the action." It,ll always be part of my memorable memories of the war. My outfit? The 45th Regt., Hunters ROTC Guerrillas.

  21. 21
    Bill Gindhart says:

    My dad was with the 511 PIR B Company and made the jump on Los Banos. Of everything he had ever done in life, that was one thing he was most proud of. It was almost 45 years after the jump, he finally meet several people who were POWs of Los Banos. That was the icing on the cake.

  22. 22
    Tom Whitesides says:

    My father, John Whitesides, was working at the Bank of Manilla before being sent to Santo Tomas. He was later moved to Los Banos where he was eventually liberated. I was wondering if anyone may have heard of him.

  23. 23
    Thomas J Corbett says:

    My uncle was a Jesuit Priest in training when he was interned at San Tomas Camp. I believe I spotted him in a photo of the liberation of the camp in the book "Victims of Circumstance". His name was Francis X CorbettI would love to get any information about him.He was my motivation to become a Marine Officer and serve in Viet Nam. Thomas J Corbett

  24. 24
    Robert Pope says:

    My grandmother, Gladys Waterstradt, was interned at Santo Tomas and later transfered to Los Banos in Dec. 1943. She developed serious stomach problems that required surgery. Dr. Nance, the Los Banos doctor, performed the surgery. Unfortunately, infection set in and she was to weak to fight it due to malnutrition and died on March 9, 1944. She was the second person to die at Los Banos and the first female. My heart goes out for those that died at Los Banos and their families. To the survivors; you were rescued by a band of Angels and got to play out your lives.

  25. 25

    [...] http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn…l?hpid=topnews http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Buckles http://www.historynet.com/world-war-…nment-camp.htm The last US First World War veteran has died at the age of 110. Frank Woodruff Buckles was also [...]

  26. 26
    nestor says:

    April 27, 2011 6PM at the Philippine Consulate Ctr, 5th Ave in New York city there will be gathering of Los Banos rescued survivors and the 11th Airborne. Frank Forlini (11th Airborne) and Fr Ruane are among the scheduled speakers.

  27. 27
    Marty Mire says:

    My grandfather, Gerald Aubry Martin of troup, texas, was a POW of a Philippine camp during WWII. He went to a better place in 1987. I would like to get some pictures of the camp and some information of what our men went through. According to the discharge papers he was lost at war for 446 days (1944 – 1946).

  28. 28
    Tim Dahlberg says:

    Does anyone know of a POW, by the name of Antonia (Toni) Hanson? She was my mother's piano teacher in Oakland/Berkeley, CA in the late 1940's? Thank you

  29. 29
    Robert Fraser Clingen says:

    I was a prisoner of war in San Tomas and Los Banos. I would like to hear from any one who know of my parents Rev. Herbert Clingen or Ruth Fraser Clingen all of us were prisoner at os Banos.

    Thanks

    • 29.1
      Jeannie Hendley Harmon says:

      Hi Bob,

      I don't know if you remember me by I knew you and your family at Hawthorne Alliance Church in the 1950s. I just read "Unbroken", a book giving the story of Louis Zamperrini and it started me thinking about your parents. I wondered if anyone had written about their experiences and I found this website and saw your name. I thought I would write and send my greetings.

    • 29.2
      Victoria Christine Bingham says:

      Robert, Would you be willing to use your voice to rescue a 511th paratrooper who needs it? Please go to Oathkeepers.org and read the tragic story unfolding in Montana concerning WWII veteran Warren Bodecker. Thanks!
      Victoria (awaok@bfresco.com)

  30. 30
    Pat Handorf says:

    Our uncle, John Noel Hill was a Merchant Marine and we have conflicting information on him. He is listed as: "Unknown ship, Unknown POW camp, outcome Unknown. We are quite sure this is him as it lists his home as Crosshaven, County Cork, Ireland which is accurate. Our family was told he was lost at sea in the Philippines. At some time later, they were notified that he had been found but then told it was not him. If anyone has information they can share, that would be awsome. He was born in 1915.

  31. 31
    Loretta Alty Murphy says:

    My Father Albert Alty was in the 11th airborne division and was part of this awesome rescue. An Italian man,born Alberto Altobelli Nov. 1st 1915.

    • 31.1
      Victoria Christine Bingham says:

      Dear Loretta, Would you be willing to use your voice to help to rescue a 511th paratrooper (One of the Los Banos heroes) who needs it? Please go to Oathkeepers.org and read the tragic story unfolding in Montana concerning WWII veteran Warren Bodecker. Thanks!
      Victoria (awaok@bfresco.com)

  32. 32
    Brian O says:

    I have a friend that goes to my church who was in the 11th Airborne. His name is John Martin. He is in his 80's by now. I have a lot of respect for him and all the troops in our military. I really want to know about what it was like for him, but I don't want to press him about his military service. If you would, pray with me about this. He is a very kind man and I don't want to invade his privacy or to hurt or offend him in any way. I personally have never had the privilege to serve our country. I very much regret that and if I could go back 35 yrs, I would do things differently. Still I love to pray for our military and their families, and try to send care packages to them. They are so appreciative. If you have the opportunity, write them a letter or send them some good tasting trail mix bars or some disposable razors. Anything they get helps them to feel more human and lets them know that we love and appreciate them. God bless.

  33. 33
    John Palmer says:

    To get the record straight, I was a just under eight years old and in Los Banos with my younger brother, Ronnie and our mother, Lucy Palmer (one of the few British there and originally on our way to Sydney Australia when we interned in Manila).

    My mother was friends with the two Filipino office assistants who worked in the Commandant's. The evening before the rescue the two girls begged my mother not to go to roll call the next morning. They had overheard Konishi, the Japanese second-in-command organising the machine-gunning of the every civilian at 7 AM as soon as we were lined up. We were all just seven minutes from death.

  34. 34
    John Palmer says:

    Does anybody remember Lucy Palmer and her two boys?

  35. 35
    Catherine H says:

    Hi — My dad was interned with his whole family at Los Banos. His name was John M. Hill. He was 15 years old. His older brother, Jay and his younger brother, Sam, his father, Alva Jay (AJ), his mother Martha (a nurse and teacher), his sister Jo Crabbe, and brother-in-law Ken Crabbe. (To the other family searching for a John Hill, perhaps knowing of this John M. Hill, who is my dad, will help you identify yours, too.)

    My father passed away in 1986. All the family are gone now. Sam passed away year before last.

    My father worked as an agricultural economist, helping underdeveloped countries grow more food and become self-sufficient. He also spent time in Viet Nam in the last year of the war there, helping identify the location of American POWs so they could be freed. It distressed him that some were not and he told me that he knew there were POW's who never got out of Viet Nam. I believe some had been kept in underwater bunkers.

    He never spoke or felt badly towards the Japanese. He told us the guards were just ordinary men doing their jobs. My mother said he told her he was sorry to see them killed, never to go home again. When he talked about the camp with us kids, he kept it light — how he and his brothers (the Hill boys) got to do garbage duty, and it was amazing what people would throw away even in prison camp. He also said how they would find maggots in the 'cereal' and they were great protein so they ate them, so we'd better eat our cereal all up. My dad's philosophy was that you remember the good things and forget the bad. He was a very innovative problem solver, which he attributed to being in camp.

    My grandfather traded cigarettes from the Red Cross packet everyone got at the start of the internment for vitamins. My grandmother talked about how, in the women's camp, they formed a choir. The hymns the women sang together kept them going.

    To John Palmer, I bet you knew my father John Hill and his two brothers. And I bet my grandmother Martha knew your mother, too.

    God bless you all, especially the rescuers. You can bet my dad is there to greet them as they cross the rainbow to the other side.

  36. 36
    Doris Hill says:

    John McLain Hill was my husband, and the father of Catherine H, above, as well as my two other daughters, Martha Hill Bledsoe and Lucinda McLain Fries.
    My husband seldom talked of the prisoner of war experience – and then only with friends. Starvation was most difficult to overcome for the prisoners. Red Cross packages were not passed out, even though they were supposedly sent. The only food was a cauldron of rice cooked to a paste, once daily, which the starving internees were required to carry to the dispensing area. The internees bravely organized themselves to create help among themselves to lessen the torture from the guards which sometimes occurred otherwise. During our entire marriage, John always kept an abundance of food on hand in our home, due to memories of starving.
    In every way, he lived his life as bravely as he had in the prisoner of war camp under t he Japanese. God bless the memory of his sweet heart.

  37. 37
    John Palmer says:

    Hello, especially to Catherine and Doris from John Palmer. It's good to read all these memories and accounts of the three-and-a-half years in Santa Tomas and Los Banos. A few of my memories: the rice mush that we were given was called loogow. To me me it was absolutely delicious. My mother used to save a little in a small bowl for later in the day. She hid the bowl way up high on a shelf. Once, when I was by myself, I was so hungry that I climbed on a chair, got down the bowl and ran my finger around the inside of the plate and licked the loogow off my finger. I thought I was so clever because no-one would discover my theft. I did not realise that the loogow level had gone down and I was caught out. My mother scolded me severely for eating the food that was for my younger brother and her as well. There are lots of other incidents like this. I persuaded my mother (since deceased) to write a diary about her experiences and it will be epublished this year by Really Blue Books, an epublisher in Melbourne, Australia.

    • 37.1
      Catherine H says:

      Thank you, John Palmer, and hello to you, too. I think I remember my dad saying the rice mush was called loogow. It's a very familiar word.

      When you told about getting the small bowl of loogow down, it reminded me how something happened that my dad's younger brother never got over. He was just a kid. What happened was so full of shame, that I'm not even sure I have the story right. No one ever talked about it much. Piecing it together, I think that Sam and some of his friends figured out how to get into the store room where the Japanese kept the food and ate some. They were found out and the whole camp was punished.

      It must have been so hard being a child in a prison of war camp. Brave souls, young and old. My grandfather weighed ninety pounds when he got out. He was on crutches for the rest of his life, but he always had a twinkle in his blue blue eyes and a strong sense of adventure. He and my grandmother spent summers in a hot part of Mexico because they missed the tropics.

      Please let us know when your mother's book is e-published and its title so we can get it, John. My grandmother had a small book of poetry self-published many years ago, many poems to do with the Phillipines, and some memories of the camp included at the back. It's called Linets and Pomegranates by Martha Mills Hill. Someone in my family may still have some extra copies.

  38. 38
    Chris Fox says:

    My parents were interned in Santa Tomas concentration camp and then moved to Los Banos with my two brothers. I was born there on 9/9/43. Both my brothers are still alive and we live in New Zealand

  39. 39
    John Palmer says:

    This contribution is a bit rambling but here goes: First, it was wonderful to read Robert Clingen's note. Also, I loved the stories from Catherine and Doris Hill.

    I would be very pleased to get my hands on a copy or photocopy of the book of poems Linets and Pomegranates.

    Apropos the boys stealing food from the kitchens, I did something remarkably similar. I was in a gang of kids (obviously all of whom were Americans; I was one of very few Brits) and someone said that the Japanese rice store had a hole in its wall. I acquired a large, empty Klim tin (I think Klim must have been the name of a brand of powdered milk?). We all crept along a deep ditch that ran alongside a road that led past the store. Nearby was a Jap guard with a rifle on which was fixed an enormously long bayonet. The Yankee kids deputised me, the youngest, I believe, to steal the rice. I was petrified but when the guard was not looking I leaped from the ditch and crawled quickly across the road. I lay down flat in the grass smack against the wall and found the hole. Inside was a great mound of rice bags but how could I get the rice out of the bags? Then I noticed that one of the bags at the base of the pile had a small tear in its side that had been plugged with a wad of newspaper. Still terrified, I pulled the plug out and a stream of glorious, delicious rice poured out like a fountain. I held the tin under it and in seconds it was full to overflowing. I slammed the lid back on and leaving the rice running out, I scrambled across the road back to the ditch and we all fled. My mother said I was hailed as a hero. Later we boys tried to repeat the exercise but the Japs had sealed the hole in the wall and that was the end of it.

    Lastly, a plea for information. I am doing research on the brilliant comedian Dave Harvey who kept the camp entertained for years. My mother said he was the funniest man in the world. I want to write a theatrical play that includes Dave as one of the characters. Does anyone have any information, stories,/photos, memorabilia, ANYTHING about him or links to people who knew him? I really need help. Living in Australia, I am not finding it easy to get information.

    If my mother's memoirs of Santa take too long to

  40. 40
    John Palmer says:

    If my mother's memoirs take too long to get published I will happily send you an email with the manuscript attached. It is a great in sight into both the Santa Tomas and Los Banos camps. I don't want payment for it. My email address is blything1@gmail.com

  41. 41
    Catherine H says:

    We're forwarding John Palmer's message around the family to see if anyone has a copy of Linets and Pomegranates. Also, I bet it was Sam Hill was one of the American boys who was with you, John. I need to contact my aunt to find out how old Sam was. He was younger than my dad by a few years. My dad was fifteen when he entered camp. I'll get back after I find out more… or maybe my mom has something else to contribute since it was her that I heard about this from.

  42. 42
    Andrea Robertson says:

    Hi All,
    My grandfather was Robert "Jack" Kennington, he was a part of the 11th, I beleive the 188th paratrooper or glider section, I can't remeber which. He died in 1994, and everything that I had of hs was destroyed in a house fire. I am trying to get more information from anyone who knew him, possible photos if possible that I can pass on to my own kids and grandkids. I have the book about the raid by Lt Gen Flanigan, I used to have a poster of him jumping out of a plane, but that burned with everything else. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Andrea Robertson 678-471-2055

  43. 43
    benny garrett says:

    my dad was a surgical tech at the hotel set up as a hospitial to recive these folks and the pows i wonder if any one has pics of this place???

  44. 44

    [...] and here: http://www.historynet.com/world-war-ii-liberating-los-banos-internment-camp.htm [...]

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    [...] and here: http://www.historynet.com/world-war-ii-liberating-los-banos-internment-camp.htm [...]

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    [...] and here: http://www.historynet.com/world-war-ii-liberating-los-banos-internment-camp.htm [...]

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    [...] and here: http://www.historynet.com/world-war-ii-liberating-los-banos-internment-camp.htm [...]

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    [...] and here: http://www.historynet.com/world-war-ii-liberating-los-banos-internment-camp.htm [...]

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    [...] and here: http://www.historynet.com/world-war-ii-liberating-los-banos-internment-camp.htm [...]

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    [...] and here: http://www.historynet.com/world-war-ii-liberating-los-banos-internment-camp.htm [...]

  60. 60
    Victoria Christine Bingham says:

    Please visit the petition to keep Mr. Bodecker in his home and ask your friends to as well:

    http://www.change.org/petitions/montana-state-government-stop-foreclosure-proceedings-against-wwii-vet-warren-bodecker#

  61. 61
    Jorge P. Juliano Sr. says:

    When the Japanese guards were a bit relaxed, I was cutting grass with a sickle in front of Baker Hall. A head popped from one of the wholes in the sawali wall. He was asking for food. I said tomorrow, I come back. Next day, a head popped out of a hole and I gave about a dozen eggs wrapped in a piece of clothe. Never knew it it was the same man. Mysister Emma says she also smuggled eggs for the internees..The Bolmans and Bousmans were our American Missionaries at the Church Among the Palms. They hid in Mt. Maquiling for some time before surrendering to the Japanese. Students from our our house (Prudencio Escara and Valing Rubicencio were secret food couriers to the hiding missionaries.

  62. 62
    Carole Burkhard says:

    My father, Charles F. Moore (Chuck) and his parents (Joseph W. and Emma G. Moore) and siblings (Joseph O. Moore, Patricia Moore Frey) were interned at Los Banos for 3 years and rescued on February 23, 1945. He was 15 when he was rescued. He, too, talks little of this time in his childhood and his experiences at Los Banos and Santo Tomas. But, as an adult, he became an Air Force pilot flying C-130's. I believe the rescue at Los Banos was a significant factor in his career choice. He is still alive, but very sick with congestive heart failure. To this day, he has nightmares and his feet will "run" in bed in the midst of these nightmares. Without the heroes of the 11th Airborne Division and support of military and guerilla forces, I would not have been born.

  63. 63

    [...] due to be executed at dawn – to quote another survivor's story that I read on-line, "we were 7 minutes from death."  When I read this for the first time, many years ago, I had just seen the movie "Empire of [...]

  64. 64
    Amanda says:

    Hello, I have a friend who's mother, aunty and grandparents were interned at Los Banos. Their names were George and Helen Carry and his mum who was around 5 years old was Pearl Jean Carry.
    I was wondering if anyone remembers them and have some information and some photos. I would be so thankful for any information as it would mean a huge amount to remaining family.

  65. 65
    John Cipollina says:

    We just had our reunion of 11th airborne paratroopers
    and their families this weekend at Forlini's restaurant in NYC.
    It was the 33rd Los Banos reunion for this group.
    About 40 guests showed up. We are now down to 3 original
    11th Airborne WWII paratroopers.
    Frank Forlini, the oldest, is 90 years old. He fought in 3 battles
    before being wounded on Tagatay Ridge outside of Manila.
    The other two are Judge Jack Noonan and Sy Silverman.
    We used to have some internees who were seminarians and nuns come to the meetings also but they are all gone now.
    A lot of memories and at time tears were shared by the fellows but all in all a good time was had by all

  66. 66
    Binki Rodrigez says:

    wow im doing a social studies project and this page actually really helped me im glad i used this!! :) i Love yewh babby

  67. 67
    Fred M Pohl says:

    Dear Col Gibbs MY father was in Company \A of the 672nd Fred J Pohl he is in a group picture the day after the Los Banos raid MY ftaher is centered with his left hand on the white part of the Japanes Flag He often spoke fondly of his Platoon leader 1st LT Charles G Kaigler and one of his two friend Messers Norman Lloyd and Bob Heichel I want to say I served in Vietnam 20 August 1968 to 15 august 1969 I;' also retired from the air force reserve I had no idea its mission was a tank destroyer unit and I saw The Program on The Hsitory channel \Rescue At Dawn The Raid On Los Banos I regret to say my father passed away back in 1988 I had no idea he did such a stunt and you remaning folks you guys rock Dad often told us some war stories when we were kids I have to see if I can find the books on the Los Banos raid and its my hope someday they can make a movie out of maybe someoen would play my dads role Thank You Sir
    FRED M POHL
    Davenport Florida

  68. 68
    Karin Christ says:

    Do you remember my Grandfather, William Rivers. He was a civilian internee at Los Banos for 4 years. He told us some stories like trying to confuse the guards that wanted to know how to play baseball and the internees would keep changing the game. Also the risks men would take to go over/under the fence to get information on the coming raid. My Grandpa Bill passed away 12 years ago from medical complications of being starved for so long.

  69. 69
    Loretta Alty Murphy says:

    My Dad Albert Alty was in the 11th airborne and was a paratrooper in the raid. He would be in his late 90's. Born in 1915. Do any of you have photo's that may have him in it? thanks. Loretta Alty Murphy lorettamurphy@earthlink.net

  70. 70
    Larry Westbrook says:

    My Father-in-Law, Carson Good was a US Army T/ SGT paratrooper in the 11th Airborne and was at Los Banos and Tagatay Ridge. He was also present when Gen. Mac Arthur returned to Leyte. Carson had made 35 combat jumps. He did not talk much about the war in the Philippines but did say he saw some horrific things the Japanese did. Carson passed away at age 89 in February 2014.

  71. 71
    Jennifer Scott says:

    I was raised by one of the 11th Airborne paratroopers who took part in this raid. He rarely spoke of his experiences overseas but this is something he was very proud to be a part of. He also told stories of being cut off from supplies for almost two weeks and having to eat a buzzard because they were starving.

  72. 72
    Matt says:

    Hello all. I know the odds are long but I have to try. My eldest uncle on my mom's side (who I never got to meet) was named Shamus \James\ White from the Kensington section of Philadelphia. He was born in Ireland but emigrated with his family to the USA and when Pearl Harbor was attacked he immeadiately rush to enlist to help protect his beloved adoptive homeland. He was a paratrooper with the \Fighting 511th\ and the stories I was told growing up were that he was killed during the raid on Los Banos while escorting the rescued to the beach.Yet most accounts I read of the incident claim that no US soldier was killed during the rescue attempt. My mom and grandparents all told me after the war several of his comrades were kind enough to seek them out and tell them that my Uncle James had died a hero protecting the liberated internees and his comrades. That was of great comfort to my grandmother who only learned of her eldest son's passing when a letter she'd written him was returned marked \Deceased\ several weeks before the official telegram was delivered. I recall going to my grandparents home and being fascinated with the photo of a good looking young soldier in his paratroopers cap with the \511\ medal on his collar. Is it possible any of his fellow comrades still remember Shamus White and what role he played in this heroic rescue attempt. I am 54 but my health is failing and I would like to pass along his story to me nieces and nephews before my demise. Any help would be greatly appeciated as is your time in reading this note- Matt

  73. 73
    Elijah says:

    Does anyone know other books/websites/resources with more information about the camp and the internees? I'd be interested in letters, journals, describing the conditions and daily life.

    -Elijah

    • 73.1
      john horriddge says:

      Hi. This is My father's account of the camp and the liberation, he was English and worked for I.C.I. in China before and after the war:
      MY EXPERIENCES IN MANILA. – - G. R. Horridge.
      So many people have asked me about life in an internment camp and if the Japanese ill-treated us, that I hare decided to try and give a brief description of the civilian internment camps as I found them in Los Banos and Manila during my three years of internment also a few notes on how I came to find my way into internment in Manila.
      When war broke out I was on my way from Shanghai to Sydney via Singapore. I left Shanghai on the ‘Anhwei’ which was one of the last ships to leave and carried about 500 passengers, most of whom had British passports. The bulk of the passengers were housed in the holds of the ship and slept on bunks set up in tiers. In Hongkong I transferred to the ‘Anshun’, also bound for Singapore, with 200 Chinese deck passengers on board, but with more cabin space available for European passengers. When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbour we were south of Haiphong and were instructed by the British Naval Authorities to make for Philippine waters, which we did.
      We arrived in Manila Bay about 8 a.m. and found the Harbour crammed with shipping and more streaming in all the time. At one o'clock the Japanese raided Cavite Naval Yard with a flight of 27 bombers and a few minutes later another group of similar size sprinkled the harbour with light bombs. Our ship, the ‘Anshun’ was hit by two bombs and set afire, three people were killed, and about a score wounded. The next day all passengers were discharged, and the ship went out into the Bay again. I heard later that this ship sailed the next night along with many others, and finally reached New Guinea. It appears that she was sunk in Milne Bay and has just recently been raised.
      After leaving the ‘Anshun’, I managed to get accommodation at the Bay View Hotel where I stayed until the Japanese entered Manila on January 1st The American troops evacuated the city and withdrew to Bataan where they held out against the Japs until May 1942. This gave the Japs a free entry into Manila, which they took over in a perfectly orderly manner. All citizens were asked by the Mayor to destroy stocks of liquor and this order was carried out by the majority of Europeans.
      About 150 of us were confined to the Hotel for 3 days and were then taken to Vlllamore Hall. There we spent one night sleeping on the floor or sitting up on school benches whichever one preferred. We were given one tin of soup during the 24 hours. Next day we were transferred to St. Tomas University, which place had been designated as the main civilian internment camp in the Philippines.
      St, Tomas was built as a day university and as such was ill suited for the accommodation of 3500 boarders, men, women and children. It cannot be compared in general layout with universities in Europe or America. Toilet facilities were inadequate, and there were no showers or baths except in the gymnasium, until we installed them ourselves, and no cooking facilities except those in a small cafeteria which normally supplied ices, cakes, coffee etc. to the students. There was also no dining room and people had to eat off their beds until dining sheds could be built outside.
      One of the worst features was the overcrowding and the lack of privacy. Eighteen inches between beds was the order in the mens’ rooms, but the women managed to get a little more room, although even so there was little room in which to dress.
      Fortunately for some of the Internees, certain filipinos with an eye to business brought a number of camp beds and odd mattresses to the railings round the camp and found no difficulty in finding buyers. The Japanese made not the slightest attempt to provide any beds or bedding whatsoever, and many internees slept on the concrete floor for weeks until sufficient wood could be brought into camp to make rough beds. The fortunate ones were those who had Spanish, filipino, or neutral friends in Manila, who were later able to send in proper mattresses to their internee friends.
      I feel that we were lucky in that for the first eighteen months the camp was run by the Department of Japanese External Affairs, which meant that civilians were in charge of the running of the camp. The commandants and general staff were reasonable in their attitude towards the internees, but the dally allowance to cover food, lighting, gas and medical expenses was always inadequate, and therefore only two meals a day were served for months.

      (2).
      This was no particular hardship for those who brought money with them or were able to get money smuggled in(and the latter ran into hundreds of thousands of pesos, much of it borrowed at very high rates of interest), because a daily package line was organised at the main gate of the camp. As you can imagine, this system was of tremendous assistance in spite of the fact that very package was thoroughly searched. Liquor was strictly forbidden, but even so quite a few bottles were smuggled into the camp. This was always a source of possible trouble between the internees and the guards, and so the Internees organised their own strong arm squad and detention room.
      A canteen was set up inside the camp for the sale of soap, tobacco, medicinal products and sundries, and a number of selected natives were allowed in the camp to sell fruit and vegetables. The canteen did a brisk business during the first twelve months, but as. stocks of almost everything began to run out, prices rose, and business dropped considerably. It should he remembered that before the war the Phlippines Manufactured practically nothing except cigars and cigarettes, and even in foodstuffs, including meat, milk, butter and cheese, their imports were enormous.
      Nobody was allowed outside the sleeping quarters between the hours of 7 p.m. and 6 a.m., but later this was changed to 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. Roll call was taken every day by the monitor of each section who was responsible for each man in that section.
      All the work in the camp was done by the internees, this included all cooking and kitchen work, handling of garbage, gardening etc. With reasonable food this work was not over-strenuous, and many people had lots of time on their hands for the study of all manner of subjects. Schools were started for the children, with afternoon and evening classes for adults. It did not take the internees long to organise small variety shows and concerts, and these, together with gramophone records which were broadcast through a loud speaker in the grounds of the college, were a great help in killing the boredom of internment.
      Softball, soccer, and a modified form of American football were regularly played (except in the wet season) in the college grounds, which boasted two football pitches. The bulk of the internees were American nationals, but there were also something like 500 Britishers, 30 Dutch and a few other odd nationals interned in St. Tomas,
      Missionaries of all creeds were allowed to live in Manila and suburbs, provided they signed a document promising to co-operate with the Japanese authorities, and kept more or less to their various institutes and compounds. In June 1944, however, about 500 of these, including nuns and priests, were interned in Los Banos, and in this respect they were rather fortunate, because many of those who remained outside the camps lost their lives in the final battle for Manila, many being murdered in cold blood.
      One of the big concessions by the authorities, which eased the crowded living quarters, was that of allowing internees to build wood or bamboo shacks in the college grounds at St. Tomas, and some 300 were built These shacks had to be vacated by 7 p.m., but were nevertheless a boon to families as the dormitories occupied by women and children were at times something akin to a bear garden.
      Clothing became a problem after the first year or so, but the climate is friendly in this respect, and only light clothing is necessary. It also means that cold baths and showers can be taken with real pleasure all the year round. The minimum night temperature in Manila is about 71 deg F, and the maximum day temperature 97 deg F.
      We were fortunate in having a number of civilian doctors interned with us and they soon started operating a small hospital in a building formerly occupied by Catholic sisters adjacent to the camp. One shipment of medical supplies arrived from the international Red Cross and this proved most useful, particularly as it contained a large quantity of vitamin tablets, which came in very handy towards the end. We were also lucky in having with us about 30 American Army and 12 Navy nurses, who were taken prisoner on Corregidor Island in May 1942. When they came into camp they were in good health and as far as I am aware had not been molested.

      (3).
      The size of the whole college compound was about 250 yards by 300 yards.
      During the first eighteen months the Japanese interfered very little with the life of the internees, but little by little more pressure was brought to bear by the military authorities, who finally took complete charge and from then onwards the conditions became very much worse, particularly as regards food and supplies. The package line was stopped, and no contact with the outside world was permitted except in the form of very infrequent messages.
      I think the lack of news from friends and relatives was one of the worst features, and in the three years of internment I received only 3 letters from my wife, although she wrote regularly. In the first 2 years we were only allowed to write 3 letters, but daring the last 8 months we were allowed 25 words per month in messages. Some people received rather more letters, but they were anything up to 18 months old.
      One problem which cropped up and which caused a considerable amount of trouble, was that of internees recognising all Japanese officers in the camp with the customary bow. Time and time again the internees were accused of deliberate discourtesy in that they failed to recognise and in many cases deliberately turned away when Jap. officers approached. The internees always pleaded ignorance and argued that the custom was foreign to them, but in the end it became evident that we had to comply with the Japanese ideas or lose some privileges. St. Tomas was always more sticky than Los Banos in this matter, and all internees had to bow when lined up for roll call in the morning.
      One Japanese-sponsored newspaper, published in Manila in English, was allowed in the camp during the first 2| years, but this was so full of badly written propaganda as to be practically useless. As can be well imagined, rumour in the camp was rife, and although correct news did come into the camp in devious ways, it was difficult to sort out the good from the bad. Nevertheless, in spite of the lack of proper news the general spirit and morale of the camp during the first eighteen months was extremely high and it must have surprised the Japanese somewhat. Part of this was due to the feeling of confidence that the Allies in the long run would finally blast the Japanese to pieces, once things really got under way. The only difference was about the length of time necessary to carry this out. There were a number of optimists who went about with the slogan "Help is on the way", and were quite sure that the Philippines would be retaken in three months.
      As most people are aware, there were two groups of civilians repatriated from the Far East, and a number of these came from St. Tomas camp in Manila. The Japanese merely announced a list of names, practically all American, and there was nothing that could be done about the aged and sick. The first ship took quite a number of consular employees, and this was understandable under international law, but the second took mostly business men and their wives, some of whom had lived in Manila all their lives and had never been to the States. Public indignation in the camp was at fever pitch, as it was generally realised that strings had been pulled in Washington on behalf of certain individuals by big business interests, and there was also strong suspicion that others had stooped to boot licking and bribery with the Japs in order to get out.
      In May 1943 we were told that 800 men would have to go to Los Banos to start a new camp. This camp was later extended to 2000, and included wives and families. The site was part of an agricultural college 40 miles south of Manila, and we were housed at first in the Gymnasium (500), some in wooden bungalows and wooden cottages. We had to build our own outdoor kitchens, where we cooked rice and stews. No flour was supplied and we had no ovens. It is surprising what can be done in a large open iron pan — one can fry rice and make a good pot roast, if the meat is available.
      Soon after we arrived the natives started to build a number of native-type barracks, wooden frames with palm leaf roofs, matting sides. No proper toilets and showers were provided. We protested strongly, and these last two were rectified. Even so, the typhoon risk was ever present, In fact, the first barrack was blown down as soon as it was built.
      The only point in our favour was that the barracks were cool and families were allowed to live together.

      (4).

      We had plenty of food at first, and we had a canteen where we could buy fruit, eggs, peanut butter, rice flour, oil etc. This was all right as long as one was able to get money, but this was not easy. Contact with Manila and the outside was cut off completely. Then, of course, prices started to rise rapidly because of the huge circulation of Army notes, and to crown all our canteen purchases were cut severely, although there seemed to be plenty of foodstuffs in the surrounding districts. Coconuts were the most useful of these. The meat was grated for breakfast, this same meat was pressed to get milk for cereals and coffee, and oil was extracted for cooking and for soap making. The alkali for this process came from wood ashes. People became expert at frying cold porridge, making hot cakes from rice flour, and sundry other makeshift dishes.
      Unfortunately things became more and more restricted, food became scarce, prices continued to soar, eggs went up to 17 pesos each, coconut oil 66 pesos per litre etc. Our money was confiscated and given back to us at the rate of 50 pesos per month, (l pesos = 3/-d.) This meant that one could buy practically nothing in the canteen. We were always hoping for comfort boxes from home, but these only came once a year. However, when they did arrive they were usually fairly big and with care lasted quite a time. What a sight for sore eyes to see six cans of bully-beef, two of salmon, six little tins of butter, two half-pounds of cheese, raisins, prunes, etc., and, of course, chocolate.
      At this same time we had a change of personnel, who thought we were getting too much food for war prisoners, so our regular camp food began to get less and less. About July it was around 900 grams a day (100 grams = 3 1/2 ozs.), including 200 grams of vegetables, 100 grams of coconut. There should have been 100 grams of meat also, but this was only on the list, and never appeared except on rare occasions and then was just enough to make a watery soup. 40 lbs. of meat amongst 2000 people doesn't go very far. (Early in 1943 this was the number in Los Banos). The pity of it all was that there was room in the college grounds for us to keep a few cattle, ducks, hens, pigs etc., and the college had a dairy farm running all the time we were there, but the milk was not for us, or the babies, or our hospital. The only livestock we were allowed to keep were pigs, and these were starved for want of proper food. Food was so scarce that there was literally not enough garbage to feed these pigs properly.
      The food ration was reduced again and again on the grounds that transportation was difficult and prices high. Our total ration of grain dropped to 300 grams per day (10 1/2 ozs.), and coconuts dropped to practically nil. This grain ration was finally reduced in February to 200 grams (7 ozs.) per day. No corn, no oil, eggs, meat, nothing except some potato tops (sweet potato); which we used as greens and such additional greens as we were able to grow in our limited garden space.
      Forced labour scheme — – Our boundaries in Los Banos camp were constantly being changed. The Japs took all the permanent buildings including the Gymnasium and the larger part of our gardens, saying that these were wanted for a military hospital. This meant that we also lost our playing field. Food, as stated above, had become a very real problem, and the japs, knowing this, offered us new unbroken ground in the dry season for gardens, and suggested that we supplement our food ration. We pointed to the physical condition of the internees in general, and told them that many were simply unfit to do heavy manual labour, (our wood choppers at this stage had to be given a mid-day meal out of our own small rations in order to keep them going.) The Japs replied that they would offer all gardeners an extra 100 grams of rice a day for 5 hours work breaking new ground. There was nothing much that we could do about it, and about 150 tackled the job, although the doctors warned us that we would use up much more energy than the extra rice would provide. I tried it out for 3 weeks on the argument that it was better to be out in the open doing something to kill time, rather than sit in the barracks waiting for the 4.30 meal which seemed like an age. The extra 3 1/2 ozs. of rice did at least provide some sort of a lunch.
      Fortunately this unhappy state of affairs was ended by the timely arrival of U.S. rescue party who risked their lives in getting us out of this spot which at the time was 26 miles behind the Jap perimeter, south of Manila. I take off my hat to the officers who planned this raid and to the men who carried it out also the filipino guerrilas who overpowered the guards around the camp at the right moment and gave them no chance to turn on the internees. There happens to be a very large lake in this area which

      (5).
      stretched to within half a mile of the camp at one point, and this was the crux of the whole plan.
      For about three weeks we had received Reports by devious channels that practically the whole of Manila had fallen to the United States forces, and this was confirmed by the flashes of guns we saw in the distance at night and by the sound of heavy bombing raids during the daytime, all coming from the direction of Manila, We also saw lots of American bombers and carrier-borne planes passing close to the camp. These pilots soon realised that the Japs had practically no anti-aircraft guns in the vicinity of our camp, and so they dived and strafed the roads in the area with machine gun fire. What a fine sight it was after all those months of waiting, Naturally, the temper of our captors did not improve, and it was just a question of wait and see. This is what actually happened — (23rd Feb 1945)
      We were all waiting around the barrack for the Jap interpreter to come and take the 7 a.m. roll call, when somebody spotted transport planes flying low over the lake. Suddenly paratroops, began to drop out about a mile from the camp, but there were only 120 in all. This naturally quickened the pulse a little, but this was livened up still further when somebody else saw scores of filipinos creeping down the hill behind the camp, partly hidden in odd patches of corn.
      A few seconds later pandemonium broke loose as the Jap guards spotted these lads and opened fire with rifles from their protected guard posts round the camp. I happened to be in the topmost barrack nearest the wire and we got a real closeup of the fight which ensued. There were about six to eight Japs in each post, but the filipinos who seemed to revel in the fight shot them up in about 20 minutes. The only safe spot was on the ground, and it is surprising how quickly even the older folks can get down when they have to. Soon the filipinos were running in and out of the barracks, looking for additional Japanese, They had modern rifles and their usual jungle knives, but no uniforms except a pair of khaki shorts and an odd dark-coloured shirt, Amongst this raiding party were five internees who had managed to escape during the previous three weeks. All except one Britisher could speak the native dialect. Not a single Jap was taken prisoner, and the quartermaster, who was responsible for our starved condition, was caught, according to the guerrillas, hiding behind a piano. They had had many reports about this particular Jap and so they finished him off in double quick time.
      An American soldier then poked his head in the barrack and told us to get what ever papers we possessed and go down to the old playing field. What a sight for sore eyes when we got there. About 70 amphibians with open tops were lines up in rows ready to take us out and down the lake towards Manila, As these monsters waddled out of the camp I looked around and saw the barracks in flames. There went the last of my belongings, but It didn't seem to matter a damn.
      We naturally expected that some hidden Jap guns would open fire as we got out towards the middle of the lake, but only one Jap machine gun started up as we got to the lake side, and he only lasted about 15 seconds. Those fighter planes had done a good job and had previously bombed all the Jap gun positions in the vicinity. They also patrolled the roads during our getaway, and so stopped any movement of Jap troops. A number of Jeeps were also put ashore by the amphibians on the way to the camp and these stopped any local interference. It took about 1 1/2 hours to get down the lake and then we put our feet once again on friendly soil. There was real food again, real bread and butter, these we hadn't seen for nearly three years, eggs, milk and real coffee with any amount of sugar. The sense of relief in being free again was indescribable.
      We were then taken to a Base Hospital camp about 12 miles outside Manila, and fattened up for the journey home. Many of the older people were still in convalescent wards when I left, just having a good and well-earned rest. Although there were only two certified deaths from malnutrition in the camp, a number died from the result of ordinary operations as they had not the strength to recover. About 30% suffered from beri- beri in a visible form, that is, swelling of feet and ankles. I only saw part of Manila on my way out, but it was badly shattered and will take a long time to rebuild. Many of the buildings still standing were gutted with fire, and the water supply was off in half the town. There was no doubting the look in the faces of the natives. They also had had enough of the Japanese and their co-prosperity sphere in East Asia.

  74. 74
    Travis Russell says:

    My Great Uncle, Earl E. Russell, was prisoner at both Santo Tomas and Los Banos. He was liberated along with my Aunt Theresa during the Los Banos raid. He wrote a letter on Red Cross stationary a few days later to some friends describing the heroic rescue from Los Banos. I am concluding that letter below as it was written. My Uncle was like a grandfather to me and told me many stories, but never talked of the war or the atrocities. Here is the letter, and my heart felt thanks to all those brave men and women who took part in this raid!

    We have just received your letter, and are completely everjoyed at the good news. It’s all but too good to be true. We had almost given up all hope for the safety of those of you on the outside; especially after reaching here and hearing of the awful wholesale murder and indescribable atrocities committed in Manila and elsewhere.
    We are both in remarkably good health considering what we have been through. I weigh 125 and Theresa 115 pounds, and, we are fairly strong with no symptoms of beriberi. Now for our spectacular and dramatic rescue, which was the most exciting and thrilling experience of our lives.
    It was a most daring and spectacular accomplishment, perfectly planned, coordinated and executed. There was great excitement in camp on the afternoon of the 22nd when there was a grand display of P38’s overhead. They were bombing and strafing nearby. As the night passed on the heavy gunfire, which we had been hearing for weeks, seemed to increase in intensity and to come nearer. In the early morning hours we hear unidentifiable sound coming from the bay. No one could identify it, but it was unmistakably there; low, constant, slowly but surely coming nearer and nearer. We were hopeful and expectant. The stage had been at least partially set.
    At seven o’clock, just as the roll call gong was sounded, a heavy roar of planes was heard in the distance. I was outside and called to Theresa to come, and said to her “today is the day.” Then the planes appeared, flying very low. We watched, hopefully, expectantly. They were flying to the east of the camp, about 2 or 3 kilometers away. “Look! Look!” I shouted, “parachutes.” The sky was full – about 150 of them. This was the signal for the other units who were to participate to go into action.
    American boys, who had laid in positions all around the camp near every sentry box, all night, opened fire on Jap sentries. Before I realized what was really going on bullets were flying thick and fast all around our heads. We took shelter – first under the bed, than later on the bed under the mattress. Bullets were still flying thick and fast. Our boys, who had now been joined by the paratroopers and guerillas advanced through the fence at various points. The unidentifiable sound from the bay had meanwhile come much closer. They were near. They were tanks unmistakably; they were through the gates; they were in. One of the transport planes flew over wit the word “rescue” written in large letters on the side.
    The battle was practically over, the paratroopers, tank men and guerillas entered the barracks congratulating us and telling us to pack up. By this time several of the barracks were on fire and burning rapidly. Needless to say we lost no time in packing. At exactly 9:00 Theresa and I were moving out in a tank. Before reaching the beach we ran into sniping. The tanks stopped a few minutes while they exchanged shots with the snipers at the rate 100 to one. The sniping died down and we moved on to the beach, eating bananas and coconuts y the dozens (the Filipinos threw them over the sides of the tanks by the hundreds). We moved out into the bay and headed northward to safety. After a 2½ hour ride on the bay we landed and transferred to waiting trucks and ambulances for the final lap of our trip. We arrived here at 2:30 P.M. after the most thrilling and exciting day of our lives. And, despite the dangers, we both thoroughly enjoyed every moment of it. Theresa took it like a real Veteran.
    We understand there were only 3 or 4 casualties among our forces. None of them were serious. There were 7 or 8 casualties among the internees; and courageous Amer. And Filipino boys who composed the rescue.
    I do hope we see you before you leave for the states, but in case we don’t, “bonvoyage.” As far as I know now we probably will not go to the states. However, the entire picture is not yet clear, and we may change our plans when we find out more about the situation on Negros.
    Love and best wishes to all until we see you again.
    Theresa and Elwood

  75. 75
    John Palmer says:

    Hello Theresa and Elwood. I was there. Would you like me to send you my mother's book on exactly the same experiences (nearly) as we had?

    Cheers

    John Palmer Now in Sydney Australia.

  76. 76
    Leslie Russell says:

    My dad helped in the rescue at Los Banos. His name was Charles A. Russell. He drove one of the amphibious tractors. He passed in 2005 and I found a letter in his Army trunk from a Seventh Day Adventist missionary that he helped rescue. Her name was Merle Silloway and she taught at the Seventh Day adventist college in Manila. My dad never talked about this when he was alive so I don't know how accurate this information is, but she indicated he was part of the 14th Camp Battalion 612 Amphibious.

    My dad's military records were in storage in a warehouse in St. Louis that burned down in 1977, so I've been unsuccesful getting any real information about his service in the Amy.

    Her last paragraph in the letter says, "You seemed like angels from heaven that day. The crossing of the Red Sea seems no more wonderful to me than our crossing of La Guna de Bay on a machine we had never known existed. The ride on the cloud to heaven I can better understand. It looks and seems very frail – words – but Thank you for helping to save my life."

    Needless to say I was in tears by the time I finished the letter. My dad was a hero to me, and by all accounts to a whole lot of others that day in 1945.

    • 76.1
      Gerald Swick says:

      Leslie, if you have not already done so, you can read Merle Silloway's account of her rescue. It's on page 3 at this link;
      http://docs.adventistarchives.org/docs/FEDO/FEDO19450401-V31-02__B.pdf

    • 76.2
      Vesta Brown says:

      I just finished reading Rescue At Dawn by Carol Terry Talbot. 1988 She was interned at Los Banos and also rescued that day. Her account is thorough and inspiring. She was also the camp typist who kept up the records of those interned. In the back of her book she has the list and as I was reading through all these posts, I was able to find the names mentioned here. My dad was a paratrooper with the 11th Airborne Division although he was not part of this rescue team. After one of his Army reunions he read this book and it meant a lot to him. He was on the first transport plane to land in Occupied Japan and I found his picture standing behind General MacArthur on that day August 30 1945.

  77. 77

    [...] LIBERATED LOS BARIOS INTERNMENT CAMP [...]

  78. 78
  79. 79
    John Palmer says:

    Hello Vesta,

    If you would like to read my mother's book about our rescue. I can email it to you. It's interesting. I was a kid of course.

    blything1@gmail.com



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