Defenders of the Philippines

picture of captivity and picture of release form captivity


  Mary Phillips, Verna Henson, M. Ullom

Recollections of Madeline "Madge" Ullom (pictured on right)

In Malinta Tunnel

We lived a mole like existence.  We worked, tried to eat, tried to breathe in an endless nightmare whose beginning was difficult to trace but which seemed to last forever. The flies were aggravating but endurable. The feeling of helplessness of being unable to fight back was not. Many, like me, went outside and climbed to the pom-pom gun to look over the South China Sea to ascertain if the convoy of help from the United States was on the horizon...

Santo Tomas Internment Camp

Santo Tomas Internment Camp teemed with thousand of civilians. At first, there was a bit of misunderstanding. Some of us were assigned to latrine duty. Miss Davison went to the civilian camp officials got that straightened out. We turned Santo Catalina Girls Dormitory into a hospital. It had a men's ward, a women's ward. Another building was turned into an isolation hospital. There also was a children's hospital. We staffed three clinics and worked four hour shifts because that was all you could stand. Everyday we cared for patients wearing our homemade uniform. Miss Davison [Chief ANC] advised us to keep one khaki shirt and skirt in good condition to wear when the American freed us....

By 1944, we woke up to the record "I've Got Plenty of Nothing" over the camp loudspeakers. Our hospital sterilizer broke. Now I was sterilizing operating room instruments in an oven. After two or three hours I would check the brown wrapping. If it was burnt the instruments were ready for use.
I had amoebic dysentery, beriberi and scurvy and quite a bit of trouble with my teeth. I had lost about 40 pounds. Just a few days before the Americans came we had seven people die in twenty-eight hours from starvation. If people got beriberi and gained weight they got scared because they knew their days were numbered...Read the entire story of Madeline "Madge" Ullom

Nurses Quarters Hospital Number 2 Bataan

Nurses Quarters Hospital Number 2 Bataan


  Diary of Clara Mueller

Dec 8, 1941 woke early & listened to news on Radio, Pearl Harbor had been attacked. We were at war c (with) Japan. Peggy & 2 rode to PX Finance. Drew 200.00 from bank & had it connected into a government check. At Finance office we listened to radio & heard that Clark Field & Baguio had been bombed. Gas masks & helmets were issued to all nurses. Also identification tags which were worn at all times. Previously a demonstration had been given in the field by Capt R. M. William so that we would be able to recognize the various kinds of gases. Gas Masks & helmets were carried with us always & helmets were worn during air raids. Dec. 9 around 3:30 AM first casualties were brought in from Nichols Field which had been bombed. For two nights Dec 8 & 9 there was no sleep for me. When sirens went off & planes where heard we get up (having slept in our clothes & donned helmets & put on gas masks around our shoulders. There was shooting (by our ground forces) we learned later) flares were dropped & the house creaked when the bombs were dropped at Nichols Field. Later in the day we went ones to the rear of Hdqtrs & viewed an empty gas shell that the Japanese had dropped. The last two nights at Ft Mck. all nurses slept in basement of hospital. Six operating rooms & surgical teams had been set up.  Read more of her story

Stranded Nurses at Mindanao

On April 29,1942 General Wainwright chose to evacuate twenty nurses from Corregidor.  In a daring seaplane rescue they were destined for Australia, but fate intervened  and the seaplane crashed and they were hiding out close to a pineapple plantation.  The seaplane was fixed, but some of the nurses could not be found in time to get on the plane as the Japanese were closing in on the plane.  Eventually, these nurses landed back on Corregidor where they endured the same fate as those who had not escaped.

One of the nurses, Sally Blaine tells part of her story:

After what seemed to her to be a long time, Sally heard a crunching sound. The plane shuddered violently. A submerged rock was tearing a hole in the seaplane. To Rita Palmer, another Army nurse on board, .it looked as though a can opener was slicing through the hull. Water began to gush inside. Sally Blaine prayed for a miracle and another nurse, Rosemary Hogan, tried to give her one. Although she had shrapnel wounds in her nose, arms and legs and a punctured left eardrum from a Japanese bombing of her Bataan hospital, Rosemary took off her terry cloth jacket and shoved the coat into the gaping opening. Other passengers gave her their sweaters and clothes. Sally watched the scene which reminded her of Hans Brinker's tale about the boy who stuck his finger in a leaking dike.

Read the whole account of the Stranded Nurses at Mindanao.

Mary Rose Harrington Nelson

The Navy nurses helped organize a hospital in camp (Santo Tomas). Mary Rose set up and worked in the hospital laboratory where she became an expert with malaria smears and identifying tropical parasites and bacteria. She became known among the other prisoners as a spirited young woman who did her job and refused to be despondent on her circumstances. Most likely her greatest worry was her elderly mother Petra who was alone in San Diego with no word about the fate of her only child. It would be over a year until Petra learned Mary Rose was mot missing-in-action but a prisoner-of-war

In 1943, the Navy nurses left Santo Tomas to help establish a new POW camp at Los Banos, a remote agricultural college 42 miles southeast of Manila. On May 14th, the women climbed aboard a truck while the civilians played "Anchors Away" to wish them well. Mary and her friends look at the crowd with tears streaming down their faces.  Read her story.

Ruby Bradley picture

Ruby Bradley, born in Spencer, West Virginia was the most decorated nurse in
military history and the most decorated female veteran.

At Santo Tomas Internment Camp in Manila, Bradley and several other captive nurses established a clinic to care for the sick and wounded prisoners. Bradley assisted in more than 230 major surgeries and delivered 13 American babies while a prisoner. When American troops liberated the camp in February 1945, Bradley weighed 86 pounds.--from  e-WV, the West Virginia Encyclopedia  Read the whole article on the online West Virginia Encyclopedia site.