Tokyo Rose /
A Dual Biography
During the final years of World War II, as U.S. military forces "island hopped" westward
across the Pacific in their quest for victory over Japan, a sexy announcer began
broadcasting propaganda via shortwave radio from the Philippines. GIs nicknamed
her "Manila Rose" after the far more famous broadcaster Tokyo Rose. Confusion
about Tokyo Rose is common among veterans and the general public, and Manila
Rose remains a complete enigma.
Although four books have examined extensively the case of Tokyo Rose (several
others have included partial treatments), the information the books provided about
Manila Rose was either misguided or false. I regret my own book, the 2010 hardback
TR/AP, which is the most recent of the four, was no better. The reason for our failure is
that the authors used the wrong name in requesting access to FBI files, which have
only recently been released to the National Archives.
Only one first-hand report on Manila Rose has ever been published. A June 29, 1945
article in the U.S. Army's Yank magazine titled "Manila Myrtle" contained an interview
with her. The article failed to record her last name and contained a number of factual
errors. By far the most misleading aspect of the article was its conclusion. When
Yank's reporter returned for photos the day after his interview, "Myrtle was gone. Just
gone, period. [Her mother and sister had] been out the evening before. When they
came home--no Myrtle." The End. This led to decades of speculation about her
mysterious disappearance. Rumors of an early death vied with rumors of marriage to
a well-connected American colonel who protected her from investigation by spreading
false rumors of her early death.
I can now solve the mystery of what happened to Manila Rose. For the first time the
American public can learn her complete history: date of birth, parents, schooling, life
as a broadcaster in the Japanese-controlled Philippines, postwar life, date and place
of death, and, not least, her full name. In addition, the 2014 revised TR/AP as well as a
historical monograph on Kindle (see green Announcement at top of page) will cover:
1) The contrast between Tokyo Rose and Manila Rose. Tokyo Rose, like the sirens of
ancient times was entirely mythological. Persuasive evidence she did not exist will be
provided even though the U.S. prosecuted a woman for her crimes. Manila Rose was a
real person making actual broadcasts.
2) The radio programs of Manila Rose are the only provable instances of the sort of
material American servicemen attributed to Tokyo Rose. The 2014 TR/AP includes
excerpts of Manila Rose's scripts, which clearly were intended to induce
war-weariness and homesickness among American troops.
3) Whereas the woman convicted of being Tokyo Rose lived a Spartan life and put
herself in jeopardy smuggling medicine and supplies to Allied POWs, Manila Rose
lived comfortably as a collaborator and the mistress of a series of important Japanese
4) Although the Department of Justice knew of her activities, having spent a year
investigating her, they failed to prosecute her even though she was an American
citizen. DoJ apparently did not want to muddy the waters of its Tokyo Rose
5) In a stunning turn of events, never before revealed, Manila Rose emigrated to the
United States in 1948 without problem and was living blocks from the courthouse in
San Francisco during the three month trial of Tokyo Rose in the same city in 1949.
The defense never knew this, and she never came forward.
6) Even if defense attorneys had known, they might not have called her to testify. The
reason lies in the difference between the common law rules that governed trials in
1949 versus those for a modern trial. These crucial differences are explicated in
7) The strikingly different post-war lives of Manila Rose and the woman convicted of
being Tokyo Rose are detailed, as well as the injustice of the U.S. government's
contradictory treatment of the two women.
I believe the story of Manila Rose will captivate readers but especially those interested
in the history of World War II, women's issues, minority issues, and American justice.
Tremendous confusion and misinformation cloud the stories of Tokyo Rose and
Manila Rose. The 2014 TR/AP helps clarify both.
ANNOUNCEMENT: I have recently published on Kindle a historical monograph
detailing for the first time the complete history of Manila Rose from birth to death.
This monograph contains even more information than the new 2014 TR/AP. For a
preview, click the button:
The newly discovered story of Manila Rose is crucially important if we are to fully
understand the certainty with which GIs testifed after the war as to Tokyo Rose's
propaganda broadcasts. They really did hear nostalgic or soft propaganda intended
to induce home sickness and war weariness during 1944. Tokyo Rose by this time
was infamous throughout the Pacific theater, so many attributed these broadcasts to
her, claiming Tokyo Rose had broadcast such material throughout the war. But now,
we know these recollections of earlier broadcasts were false memories whereas their
recollections of 1944 broadcasts were real memories. Confusing? Let me explain.
To read Manila Rose scripts, click the button below: