WORLDWAR2-L ArchivesArchiver > WORLDWAR2 > 2003-12 > 1070508095
From: "Shalori" <>
Subject: [WORLD WAR II] The Secret Story of Santo Tomas 1945 Chapter Three
Date: Wed, 3 Dec 2003 19:21:35 -0800
The Secret Story of Santo Tomas
By Earl Carroll
Every detail of the murder of those three young Britishers of Santo Tomas by our Jap captors is as vivid in my mind this minute as if it only happened an hour ago.
You don’t forget things like that --- not when you see brave men buried alive and feel the breath of death as it whistles past your own head.
B.B. Laycock, Thomas Henry Fletcher and H.E. Weeks, were good men. They were young. They had the courage to dare and they could not stand the thought of sitting out the war in a Jap internment camp.
They had a sailboat hidden somewhere on salt water. They figured they could reach it an sail to Australia. So, taking no one into their confidence, they waited until after the 7o’clock roll call this Thursday night in February and went over the fence.
We knew nothing of the escape until the middle of the next afternoon, when a squad of Jap M.P’s roared into the camp, triumphantly returning the Britishers.
The three were dumped into a room on the first floor of the main building and questioned. Lieutenant Hitoshi Tomoyasu, the commandant, was there --- a lean, bald, 60 year old career man in the Jap genarmerie. Tomoyasu wasn’t as bad as he was weak. I suspect that Takahashi, the second in command did most of the persuasive questioning. Takahashi was that swaggering young lieutenant I mentioned earlier --- bold eyed in the presence of our women, well build for a Jap, never without his sword and mean with a sly, jackal like meanness.
After the questioning, Tomoyasu sent for me and for the two monitors of the rooms from which the men escaped. The monitors were C.E. Stewart, a British bank manger, R.H. Pedder, a shipping executive --- both quiet, capable men.
WHEN WE WALKED IN TOMOYASU WAS DANCING WITH FURY. SWEAT GLISTENED ON HIS BALD HEAD AND HE WAS SO MAD HE SPUTTERED.
He reminded me, shouting the words, that he had warned the penalty for escape was death --- and implied that the camp leader and room monitors would suffer the same penalty as the escapers.
“Why did you help them escape?” he yelled, meaning all three of us.
“What time did they escape?” I replied. He did not answer me. Instead he kept shouting accusing questions. Each time I came back with the same answer: “What time did they escape?”
Finally he decided he was not going to trap us, so he said: “about 8 o’clock”
I spread my hands.
“That lets us out,” I said. “Don’t blame us. Blame your own guards on the fence.” “You see, we conducted the 7 o’clock roll call and reported the result to him.” Our responsibility ceased then. He could not blame us unless he could prove that we lied about the roll call.
Then Tomoyasu ordered me in to see the three Britishers. Takahashi had enjoyed himself. Laycocks face looked like raw hamburger. He tried to speak to me, but only a moan and a mumble came out. I told them the camp would do what we could for them. Then they were taken away. We demanded to know where.
TAKAHASHI ASSURED US THE MEN WERE ONLY BEING TAKEN TO ANOTHER INTERNMENT CAMP.
The next morning Saturday, Tomoyasu summoned me and informed me a court martial had sentenced the three to die. HE SAID THEY WOULD BE SHOT MONDAY MORNING.
Then began a meeting of the executive committee that was not to break up for nearly 24 hours.
At first we were stunned. We had not taken too seriously the Jap warning that anyone attempting escape would die. After all, the Japs themselves formerly described our status as “civilians in protective custody.”
Many of the camp leaders were in and out of the meeting. I recall particularly well that Bob Cecil was there --- normally genial, hard working Bob, his lanky figure slumped far down in a chair. And “Dug” Duggleby, the wealthy mining man, always a tower of strength. And grey haired Judge C.A. DeWitt, a brilliant, solid lawyer who had been legal aid to High Commissioner Francis Sayre.
“Of course it’s a violation of the Geneva convention”, Judge DeWitt told
BUT WHAT DID THAT MEAN TO THE JAPS?
They got so mad every time we mentioned it that later we were warned never to speak of it.
We decided the first thing to do was draft a petition to the commandant, Not a “protest,” for THAT WORD, TOO, WAS A RED FLAG PERIOD.
While we were working on it Yamashita, a thin, high voiced civilian interpreter for Tomoyasu, broke into the meeting.
He stood up there in front of us and declared that Tomoyasu and he and other Japs connected with the camp had tried to win leniency for the doomed men --- and had failed. He said a higher authority in the Jap army had decided the men must die.
And as he talked he started crying, big tears coursing down his cheeks and his voice choking up like an emotional girl’s!
WE DEMANDED A MEETING WITH THE COMMANDANT. He left. In a few minutes he was back. “The commandant is too broken up to talk about it,” he said
As he walked out in came Ernest Stanley, a Welshman who had spent years in Japan and knew the language. He had been hanging around the Jap offices below us on the first floor with his ears cocked.
“The execution has been moved up to Sunday evening,” he said.
Our hearts sank. Twelve hours less time, now, to find a way out. We plunged into new schemes. In an hour, Stanley was back again.
“They’ve moved it up now to Sunday noon,” he said. “And that (blank) Takahashi is down there grinning all over the place.”
CHAPTER FOUR ( cont)