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    Santo Thomas University National Capital Region | Luzon Philippines
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US Army c1945

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Justin Taylan 2003

Located in the Sampaloc District of northern Manila.

Founded in 1611 as the College of the Holy Rosary originally built in Intramuros.   It became a university in 1645 and the second university in the Philippines, and the oldest university in Asia, predated Harvard by 25 years. The university was relocated to its present location in northern Manila and expanded into a larger campus.  Also known as "University of Santo Tomas".

POW Camp
During the earliest days of the Japanese occupation of Manila, the main building was used to hold civilian prisoners and classrooms used as sleeping quarters during January 4, 1942 until February 3, 1945.  In total there were 3,787 prisoners: 3,792 Americans, 733 British, 200 Australians, 61 Canadians, 51 Dutch, 8 French, 1 Swiss, 2 Egyptians, 2, Spanish, 1 German and 1 Slovak.  All were held for a total of 37 months. During captivity, 466 died. Three attempted to escape on February 15, 1942. All were captured and shot. During January 1945 one successfully escaped.

Santo Thomas POW List
Were you interned at Santo Thomas

Hostage Situation
On February 3, the university was liberated by the US Army 1st Calvary Division (8th Regiment, 1st Brigade).  They were backed by five tanks from the 44th Tank Battalion. They were assisted by Filipino Guerrillas. The tanks entered through the gate at Calle Espana after a brief skirmish, freeing many of the captives. The Japanese, commanded by Lt. Col. Toshio Hayashi gathered the remaining internees together in the Education Building, as hostages, exchanging pot shots with the Americans. On February 4th, they negotiated with the Americans to allow them to rejoin Japanese troops to the south of the city.  Americans allowed this to save the hostages, allowing them to only carry their rifles, pistols and swords. On the morning of February 5, 47 Japanese were escorted out of the university to the spot they requested. Each group saluted each other and departed.  The Japanese were unaware the area they requested near Malacañang was already occupied by American forces. After being released, they were fired on and several killed including Lt. Col. Hayashi. Later in the afternoon, some of the same Japanese were captured and became prisoners of the US Army. Ironically, they returned to Santo Thomas as prisoners themselves.

Santo Thomas University (University of Santo Tomas) is still educates to this day. A plaque, dedicated in 1954 tells the history of the main building as an internment camp. Visitors can walk on the campus, but are not allowed inside the school buildings without remission.

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Last Updated
October 23, 2019


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