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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
Location
Santo Thomas University (STU) located in the Sampaloc District of northern Manila in National Capital Region (NCR) on Luzon in the Philippines. Also known as University of Santo Tomas.

Construction
Founded in 1611 as the College of the Holy Rosary originally built inside Intramuros. In 1645 it became the second university in the Philippines and the oldest university established in Asia, predating Harvard University by 25 years. Later, Santo Thomas University was relocated to northern Manila and expanded into a larger campus.

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 starting on 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. On February 15, 1942 three detainees attempted to escape but all three were captured and shot. During January 1945 one prisoner escape successfully.

Santo Thomas Detainees and Prisoner List
List of civilians and prisoners detailed at Santo Thomas

Hostage Situation
On February 3, 1945 the university was liberated by the U. S. Army 1st Calvary Division, 8th Regiment, 1st Brigade supported by five M4 Sherman tanks from the 44th Tank Battalion and aided by Filipino Guerrillas. The tanks entered the Calle Espana gate and after a brief skirmish, freeing many of the captives. The Japanese, commanded by Lt. Col. Toshio Hayashi gathered the remaining internees in the Education Building as hostages, exchanging pot shots with the Americans. On February 4, 1945 they negotiated with the Americans to allow them to rejoin Japanese forces to the south. The Americans agreed to free the hostages but allowed them only to carry rifles, pistols and swords. On February 5, 1945 in the morning a group of 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 liberated 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 by American forces became Prisoners Of War (POW) and ironcially were detained at Santo Thomas University.

Today
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
January 4, 2021

 

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