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Robert McKay transcript

 Collection — Container: Single Folder Collections - 2007 Box 1 (07.0001-07.0074), Folder: 07.0020 - Folder 1
Identifier: 07.0020

Scope and Contents

This forty page oral history interview transcript relates to Robert Mckay who was a student and interned by the Japanese at Baguio in the Philippine Islands during World War II.  The interview was conducted with McKay at a Baguio Internee reunion. The transcript covers McKay's experiences before, during, and after internment.


  • Created: 1941-2007
  • Other: Majority of material found in 1941-1945
  • Other: Date acquired: 02/12/2007


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open to all researchers.

Conditions Governing Use

All requests for permission to quote, publish, broadcast or otherwise reproduce from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Associate Dean for Special Collections & Archives. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Florida State University Libraries as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the researcher.

Biographical or Historical Information

Robert McKay was born on June 18, 1923 and the son of a miner living in the Philippines before World War II began. McKay attended the Episcopal Brent School in Baguio as a boarding student, as did many American children in the Philippines and surrounding Pacific at that time. Leading up to the Japanese invasion of the Philippines, many of these boarding students went home or to the United States, but McKay remained in Baguio and was subsequently separated from his family for the duration of World War II. The Japanese began attacking the Philippines on the morning of December 8, 1941, and took Baguio on December 27. McKay, along with other Brent students and teachers, and hundreds of the Allied civilians of Baguio, gathered at Brent School to surrender to the Japanese on December 28. They were initially interned at the nearby Camp John Hay, but later moved to Camp Holmes where they spent most of their internment.

While interned at Camp Holmes, McKay was "adopted" by John and Zella Barrett, and dated their daughter Irene. He completed his high school education in the camp-built school and received a graduation diploma. While not in school, he was part of the Wood Crew, which was one of the many camp chore crews that the internees developed. As a member of the Wood Crew, he was able to leave the camp on a daily basis to chop wood, and while out, he could trade extra clothing for store credit to purchase food from the local Filipinos. To entertain himself, he played Cribbage with other internees. Internees also played baseball, sometimes against the Japanese guards. McKay mentioned that one Japanese commandant, Rokuro Tomibe, was instrumental in getting the camp their only Red Cross care packages in time for Christmas 1943. After Christmas of 1944, the Japanese moved the internees from Baguio to Old Bilibid Prison in Manila. They were then liberated by American forces on February 4, 1945. During the aftermath of liberation, McKay and a friend of his hitched a ride around Manila on one of the American tanks to give them directions through the city. He was then selected in the first lottery to send civilians home to the United States.

McKay reunited with his family in San Francisco in April 1945. He was able to transition into college despite having been interned for three years. He believed his life was not greatly affected by his internment and recognized that the civilian internees were relatively comfortable in comparison to American Prisoners of War imprisoned by the Japanese.

Note written by Gillian Morton


1.00 folders

Language of Materials


Custodial History

Transferred from the Institute on World War II and the Human Experience to FSU Libraries Special Collections & Archives in July 2022.

Source of Acquisition

Robert McKay

Method of Acquisition


Robert McKay transcript
Gillian Morton
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
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Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the FSU Special Collections & Archives Repository

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