On Sept. 16, the Morgan Chapter of the Sons of the Utah Pioneers held its monthly meeting and heard from Tom and Terry Wadsworth Warne. Terry was one of the youngest prisoners of war from World War II. She originally came from Morgan and was a granddaughter of President Richard Frye, the second president of the old Morgan stake.
Tom, Terry’s husband, introduced her by saying, “It’s nice to speak to a group who actually knows who General Douglas MacArthur was.”
When Terry was just 7 years old, she was living in Delmonte, a city in the Philippines. Her father, Norris Wadsworth, a Morgan native, had been transferred to the Philippines to manage a large pineapple plantation.
By 1941 the Japanese had taken over all of Manchuria, Korea, large chunks of China and Indo China. And they were in the process of invading the Philippines. The pineapple plantation was located on one of the south islands.
Terry’s early life at the plantation was quite idyllic. The family was treated as wealthy white people. General MacArthur and his wife lived in the Wadsworth home. General MacArthur was finally forced to flee, but he promised to return and rescue the family.
Terry describes the first sounds of war. “We could hear the bombs as they began to enter the compound. They made a sort of whizzing sound. One time I dived to get under cover. I landed directly on my Betsy Wetsy doll. I thought sure the bomb was right on top of us, but it was just the sound of air coming out of my doll.”
The idyllic life changed dramatically after the Japanese soldiers invaded. Her father, mother and Terry were stripped of their fine clothing and forced onto a starvation diet for three years. Her father lost 84 pounds and her mother 50. She remembers her mother making a Thanksgiving dinner of worms picked from rotting prunes, with just a little sugar added.
Terry remembers finding the head of a doll in the rubbish piles. Her mother made a body for the doll out of rags and a toothbrush for Terry from pig bristles. “I was just thankful to have a toothbrush,” said Terry.
After three years of war, finally MacArthur kept his promise and returned.
Santa Tomas, with 4,000 people in it, was in the middle of the Battle for Manila. And Manila was the second most bombed-out city in the entire Second World War. “We considered our rescue one of the greatest miracles of all time,” said Terry.
She said she loved the words of Vice President Dick Cheney when he said: “It’s easy to take liberty for granted when you’ve never had it taken away from you.”
After the war Terry returned to Morgan to live for a short time. She and her husband have written a book to remember her experiences. It’s entitled simply “Terry.”
Anyone wishing to get a full and complete transcript of Tom and Terrys’ address should contact Alan Turner (801) 876-3066. He kept a full and complete set of notes.