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7 ~ The City ofHell When we are winning, we can afford to be generous. ... Commandant A. Kodaki, Santo Tomas Internment Camp, 1942 When the Japanese ship carrying the wounded soldiers and the army nurses arrived in Manila, the nurses were assured again that the wounded would be taken to a hospital on the outskirts of the city where they could care for them. The hospital, they were told, was set up in a schoolhouse and was already equipped with beds and medicines. The anxious nurses felt relieved as they watched their patients being off-loaded and placed into trucks that carried them in the direction of Paranaque, where their captors said the school was located. Finally, the army nurses were disembarked and placed on board two open trucks, each carrying several Japanese guards armed with rifles with fixed bayonets. The trucks started away from the harbor , supposedly toward the hospital where the wounded Americans would be waiting. Suddenly, Madeline Ullom realized that they were not headed for Paranaque at all and decided they needed help finding the way. "I thought they were probably lost, and I knew the way, so I could help them. I told them they were on the wrong road, and pointed toward the right one;' she said. "They didn't respond so I told the guards again. 'This is not the right road. The road to Paranaque is the next road up.' The next thing I knew, they The City ofHell 99 tapped me on the back with a bayonet. I decided they didn't want my help, and that I'd best keep quiet."l The trucks did not stop until they reached Santo Tomas University , which had been converted into Santo Tomas Internment Camp in January. As they pulled through the gates and stopped, the nurses were greeted by hundreds ofmen and women who were anxious to receive word oftheir relatives and friends who had been on Bataan and Corregidor. Internees were everywhere, standing on the lawn, on the steps, and leaning out ofwindows, calling and waving at the new arrivals. No contact between the army nurses and the internees was permitted. When the Japanese ordered the army nurses to get offthe trucks, they refused. They told their captors that they were military nurses and wanted to be taken to a military camp so they could care for their wounded. The Japanese insisted, flashing their bayonets and pointing their rifles at the disobedient nurses. As Lt. Hattie R. Brantley put it, "When someone with a bayonet insists you get off the truck-you get off."2 The women were hurried into a room where they were fed a mixture of rice, fresh pineapple, and shreds of carabao meat. It was the first fresh fruit that they had eaten in months. After this meal, the Japanese searched them and their meager belongings (what one musette bag could hold) and questioned each about her past, including her life in America. When the interrogations were completed, the inquisitors reloaded the women onto the trucks and transported them across the street to Santa Catalina girls' dormitory . Both Santa Catalina and Santo Tomas were surrounded by a high fence which was interworked with sawali, a thatched pattern of palm leaves, making it impossible for anyone to see in or out of either institution. The fifty-eight POWs were placed in an upstairs room, where, except for their two meals a day which were taken in a room downstairs , they would remain for six weeks. The rest of the lower level was occupied by nuns who had worked at Santa Catalina before the war. Meals were brought over from Santo Tomas in large containers and placed on a table in the downstairs room. When the 100 All This Hell internees carrying the kettles had left, the nurses were permitted to go downstairs to eat. The empty containers were picked up later after the women had returned to their crowded living quarters upstairs. Sleeping facilities consisted ofa native version ofa lounge chair. The bamboo frame was curved and the backing of the chair/bed was provided by thatched cane that sagged as if it had seen many nights of hard use before its current occupants arrived. The native beds were placed so close together that there was barely an inch between them. During this time, their only contact with the rest of the camp was through the Japanese guards and a minister who was permitted , at their request, to conduct Sunday...


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