H. Beaber - At Los Banos, Philippines - Sunday, November 5, 1944

This past week has been very nice and sunny. Willie and I have done a quite a bit of garden work. I planted some corn and talinom and Willie put in more tomatoes and sword beans. The garden is certainly a great help to us.

We have seen much plane activity today - in all directions. We heard bombing but saw no dog-fights. We hope this is a prelude to a landing on Luzon.

     

The camp is running along about the same, with general weakness seen in all. I notice that I lose my balance very easily and that my hips and thighs are weak. Most are much worse off than we. It is pitiful to see so many wan, pale faces, emaciated frames, and to notice the lagging steps. A very slow starvation is going on, so we hope it will not be too long. There was one death in the hospital yesterday.


We get vitamin pills once a day. I think they came in the Red Cross Kits from U.S. sometime ago, and the doctors are trying to hold in check the beri-beri and pellagra which are growing rampant in the camp. The following extract from the doctor’s report to the Commandant will explain:


“Sir:

      From the beginning of the camp in May 1943 to September 1944, only twelve cases of clinical beri-beri were diagnosed in the clinic. Seventy seven new cases of beri-beri were diagnosed during October with 113 new cases listed as avitaminois, and 162 as asthenia, both of which conditions are diseases of malnutrition and could be classified as incipient beri-beri. In all, a total of 380 new cases attributable to malnutrition came to the clinic for October. This brings the total to date to 1,126… or more than half of the camp has clinical signs of malnutrition… The daily average calorie value of food from the camp kitchen is 881. In September, it was 1,345 calories or a decrease of 65 percent. This shows the inhuman treatment of the internees by the Japanese."


Naturally, there is theft of food in camp. It is considered a major crime. We see people (respectable) looking into garbage cans for banana skins, etc. (If you want a delicacy, fry some banana skins in rancid coconut oil.) People gong to points in camp several blocks away will sit down to rest. Some have eaten bugs and beetles - so they say. Fights occur in the food lines.


We are glad of our canned goods and garden. I weigh about 152 pounds at present. That is 50 pounds less than when I left the U.S. but, of course, some of that was lost before the war.

     

Yesterday, we had baggage inspection. The officers are looking for radios, cameras, and lethal weapons. They found some old dead batteries out of a hearing aid belonging to a deaf man in camp. They pounced upon them as if they were a real find.