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Only a Matter of Days: The World War II Prison Camp Diary of Fay Cook Bailey

edited by Caroline Bailey Pratt

Merriam Press World War II Memoir

eBook not available

Paperback - ISBN 978-1475028812 - $16.95

Hardcover not available

“It’s only a matter of days…” These words were spoken with conviction by Americans caught in the Philippines after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Within hours of the raid on Pearl Harbor, Japanese planes were attacking Clark Field and other targets in northern Luzon in preparation for a major landing.

The Bailey's lives changed drastically that day, for within a month they were snatched from a comfortable home and lifestyle assisted by five servants and deposited on a stark University campus along with three thousand other Americans and other “enemy” nationals. They brought with them only what they could carry—food and clothing for three days.

As the days grew into weeks, the weeks into months, and the months into years many were still hopeful that in only a matter of days something was going to happen to drive out the Japanese and free them from Santo Tomas Internment Camp.

Those years were meticulously recorded in a “Line-A-Day Five Year Diary” that Caroline's father, Fay Cook Bailey, kept at great risk during their thirty-seven months of imprisonment under the Japanese. The recording of events was strictly forbidden by the Japanese Military Authority.

After the war they were all eager to put the experience behind them, and the diary remained in a box of memorabilia from Santo Tomas which Caroline inherited upon her father’s death in 1983. Believing that it might be of historical interest, at least for their family, she transferred it to a safety deposit box.

In 1995, the 50th Anniversary of the Battle of Manila and of their Liberation from Santo Tomas Internment Camp, she returned to the Philippines with a group of fellow “POW Children” and three of their liberators. The trip revealed just how deeply this wartime experience in their childhood had affected them all, and it motivated her to learn more about how they managed to survive the ordeal.

For a start, she turned to the diary. It became apparent to her that her father had an important role in the camp both as Treasurer of the Philippine Red Cross/American National Red Cross and as Chief of the Finance and Supplies Committee, a function of the Internee Executive Committee. Besides the personal entries, his diary contains a great deal of information about the operation of these two entities.

A third aspect of interest is his recording of all the rumors that nourished the faith and hopes of the prisoners.

Except for expanding the numerous abbreviations, the diary is presented in its original form, a historically interesting account of life in Santo Tomas Internment Camp as recorded by Caroline's father, Fay C. Bailey.

Shortly after the war, her father wrote an article, primarily for the New York office staff of the National City Bank, which describes in greater detail the events leading up to their internment and also explains transactions he left out of the diary during their incarceration. Therefore, it has been included as a prologue to the diary.


Bits of Manila, December 1941-February 1945
December 1941-December 1942
January-December 1943
January-December 1944
January-March 1945
List of Persons

406 6x9-inch pages, 4 photos, 11 illustrations, 1 map, 144 documents

Only a Matter of Days: The World War II Prison Camp Diary of Fay Cook Bailey

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