After I hit publish, on THE WAR NURSE, I promised historical articles from that time period. I’ve been feeling under the weather, so I discovered this group of pictures on Flickr posted by John T. Pilot. Thanks for posting your fabulous collection, Mr. Pilot, because it inspired me to post.
Basically, from every account Manila was a beautiful place. For those who’ve forgotten their history, America “liberated” the Philippines during the Spanish-American War. The Philippines is an archipelago as you can see on this map. While we’re all taught that America isn’t into empire building, I submit we did with the Philippines.
To everyone in the American military it was a fabulous post, and even Elizabeth Norman mentioned how the nurses wished and hoped for the Philippine posting in her fabulous book, We Band of Angels. Even in the ruins after the war in 1945 traces of its beauty remains.
I saw one picture of Santo Tomas University still standing in Mr. Pilot’s collection. One of the reasons it stood was because the many liberated American families were kept there until the month-long battle ended. Sure, the POWs and the US Army nurses were flown out, but the civilians had to wait for safe passage to Honolulu, and for most, on to San Francisco because their homes and businesses were destroyed.
For the Filipinos let me say this first. They stood beside the POWs and interned Americans at great personal risk to themselves and their families. They were very brave. But when the military came back to free its citizens, the fight between the Japanese and Americans was shockingly brutal. Bombs rained down on civilian homes and churches. The battle for Manila was epic. The proof is in the pictures. Check them out.
Next post is on the USS Canopus, a naval submarine tender.