The long way home from China mission

Colby Bicentennial Seal 1864-1913

April 1, 1944

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Dear Brothers;

In the fall of 1940 I was in T’unghsien, North China, doing missionary work. I had sent my family off to America the preceding spring at the advice of the U.S. State department. War seemed getting nearer every day and the Mission Board cabled that if we wanted to get out before the war began we better start right off.

To get a trans-Pacific liner we had to go to Manila. We arrived there just six hours before Pearl Harbor. … The army had gone to Bataan. Manila had been declared an open city, and dropped into the lap of the Japanese like a ripe plum.

January 5, 1942 was the day that the Japanese came for us and interned us at Santo Tomas University. July first, 1942, the Japanese forced the Red Cross to stop feeding us.

… We got less quantity and poorer quality all the time.

At first people thought internment would not last long, that MacArthur would be back in three weeks with the Marines. As time went on they finally made up their minds to settle down for a longer period. By the time I got away there were 600 private shanties in the camp.

We knew about atrocities in the war prisoners’ camps. We had ways of knowing. We knew there were groups of American prisoners working in the port area.
July 22, 1943, the head of our Executive Committee told me very confidentially that my name was on the list of those to be exchanged, to go to the U.S. in a few weeks. Only 127 of us … left the Phillippines, out of nearly 5000 Americans in the Islands.

-Hugh L. Robinson Xi 1918