Tag Archives: World War II

Angels of Bataan

Liberation of the Angels of Bataan from Santo Tomas

US Army photo  1945

On February 11, 1945, 3,785 internees were liberated and finally evacuated from Santo Tomas in the Philippines.  Among them were 77 Army and Navy nurses, the Angels of Bataan and Corregidor.  This was the largest number of American woman to ever be held captive.  But they weren’t just women, they weren’t just POWs, they were nurses, and they didn’t forget it.

They never neglected their duty or obligation.  For more than three years under harsh conditions they aided the thousands of American and British POWs interned in the camp.  Even when their food was rationed down to 700 calories a day, they each worked four-hour shifts, ensuring the safety and comfort of others as well as themselves.

Just hours after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 8, 1941, the Philippines was also attacked.  By December 26, Manila had fallen.  The 20,000 American troops and 80,000 Filipinos began to retreat to the Bataan Peninsula.  Shortly thereafter, all foreigners were transported by the Japanese to Santo Tomas, a large university that was turned into an internment camp.  These were mostly Americans and British, but there were a number of nationals from all over the world, including 400 children

They were basically told to fend for themselves.  There was a nightly roll call and monitors, but not much else.  However, they were not allowed to leave the compound, and those that attempted escape were severely punished.  While at first the locals were able to pass food and letters through the fence, the Japanese soon cut them off completely from the outside world.  There would be nothing, including food, to help them.

The Japanese selected an “executive committee” to run the camp.  They essentially did what any city would do.  They set up a police force and a hospital.

Captain Maude Davison of the US Army Nurse Corps was 57 years old with 20 years of service when she took command of the nurses in Santo Tomas.  She and second in command Josephine Nesbit kept the nurses on schedule, even insisting they continue to wear a proper uniform while on shift.  After liberation, many of the internees credited the nurses for saving their lives.  The nurses credited their routine and those in command for saving theirs.

It’s said the nurses were most proud of that fact that 77 nurses went in to Santo Tomas and 77 came out.

I was unable to find a painting of the Angels of Bataan, but I think this is such a great photo of liberation day.  It’s an official US Army photo.  If you look to the far right with her back to the camera you see an older nurse, uniform cap in place.  Such strong determination, perseverance, and sense of duty to their country and profession.




Newly liberated Army nurses pose before boarding a flight to the U.S., Feb. 20, 1945. (Photo courtesy of the U.S. Army Center of Military History)



Photo taken three weeks after liberation at Letterman Hospital.  (Photo courtesy of http://www.west-point.org)

There’s so much to learn about Santo Tomas, the Angels of Bataan and Corregidor, the Bataan Death March and work camps, and the thousands of men and woman of all nationalities that endured World War II.  I would encourage you to read more.  I’ve added a few links below.

Photos of Santo Tomas

National WWII Museum

Maude Davison

Josephine Nesbit


Moments of War

Mariusz Kosik  Digital Painting  21st Century

Today we remember D-Day, the invasion of Normandy by the Allied Forces in 1944.  There is so much information to learn about D-Day, I won’t even bother to delve into it.  There are thousands of books that will be much more informative than I could ever be.

However, I will say that I find the logistics behind D-Day fascinating.  The engineering feats that had to be accomplished just to get the guys to the beaches as safely as possible are really incredible.  Here is a really short list of some interesting innovations: D-Day Innovations.

Mariusz Kosik is a Polish artist that specializes in military battle art.  He’s also a historian and strives for complete historical accuracy.  This endears him to me, as historical inaccuracy drives me nuts.  He has even done illustrations for Osprey Publishing, the premiere military history book publisher.

Honestly, I had some difficulty finding out information about the artist in English.  I believe a lot was lost in translation.  But I really didn’t need to read Polish to see just how amazing he is.  I strongly suggest you check out the artist’s webpage at Mariusz Kozik.  He has some amazing oil and digital paintings with an incredible amount of detail.

My favorite part of this digital painting is actually the Czech Hedgehogs.  Those are the big X type things you see in the water.  These were huge obstacles placed in the water by the Germans made to slow down or destroy boats coming to shore.  They were designed to be concealed underwater during high tide, as it was believed that would be the only time anyone would attempt an invasion.  They were wrong, the invasion began three hours after low tide.

Check out this cool article about the science behind the landing here:  Science.

Thank you to everyone that stormed those beaches on that day, not just Americans, but the Canadians and British as well.  We also remember the brave men and women of the French Resistance, as well as those of all nationalities that supported the cause.  And of course, we remember the Army and Navy nurses, many arriving as early as D+4.



Building at Night

Dita Polachova (approximate age 13)  Watercolor   1942 in Theresienstadt Ghetto

This evening marks Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day.  Originally this observance coincided with the date of the beginning of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising.  There are actually numerous different dates that many countries use as a Remembrance day.  Some use the day the Soviet army liberated Auschwitz, others when Americans liberated Dachau or other important events during the war.  Regardless of the date, many Western countries have an observance.

Approximately eleven million died during the Holocaust, six million were Jews.  The other estimated five million came from numerous ethnic and religious groups, POWs, homosexuals, the disabled, or resisters.  Many were non-practicing nominal Jews.

But in those millions of people affected by the Holocaust, some continued to strive to better themselves and those around them.   One was Friedl Dicker-Brandeis, an artist and teacher.  She was deported to Terezin Ghetto (Theresienstadt) in 1942.

When she learned of her deportation she collected anything she could use as art supplies– wrapping paper, charcoal, ledgers, receipts, scraps of books to take with her.  Knowing she could only take what she could carry, she chose to leave most of her possessions to have room for her supplies.  However, the supplies she carried where not for herself.  They were for the children.

Tens of thousands of children lived in the fortress of Terezin.  They were starving, they were afraid, and they were bored.  Friedl Dicker-Brandeis didn’t do “arts and crafts” project with these children, she taught them art.  Not only did she teach them art concepts and techniques, she taught them how art could be therapy.  She gave lectures to parents and other adults on using art to give them freedom and hope.

She taught hundreds of children and held art shows and set up galleries of their work.  After her husband was transported to Auschwitz she collected over 4,000 pieces of artwork her children made and passed them along to someone else for safe keeping.  She was taken on the next transport and was gassed in 1944.

Over 5,000 pieces of art survived from her students.  Most of them are now in the Jewish Museum in Prague.  You can also find several in the book  I Never Saw Another Butterfly, which also contains poems from the children of Terezin.

This watercolor can be found in this book.  It was painted by Dita Polachova while she was in Terezin.  She was transported to Auschwitz in 1943 and liberated from Bergen-Belsen in 1945.  She later moved to Israel.

I chose this painting because I thought the subject matter was intriguing.  The assumption is that she painted a building she could see.  It’s obvious this painting is of a church, there is a cross at the top of the building.  Was it chosen because it represented something she was not?  Again, assumptions are made.  As she moved to Israel, one might assume she is Jewish.  Or maybe it was chosen because she had little choice.  She painted what she saw.

On this Holocaust Remembrance Day I encourage you to not just remember the death and destruction, but the ones that gave hope.  Freidl Dicker-Brandeis never stopped believing the children should learn, even if she believed their deaths were as certain as hers.  She believed that some of these children would live, and they would need art in their lives to help them survive long after the terror was over.

To learn more about the Holocaust, please visit www.ushmm.org.

You can also see more artwork here: http://www.holocaustawarenessmuseum.org/content/Art-From-Within-Terezin