NOTE: The original notebook was not an unbroken narrative, but had inserts on various pages that pertained to earlier parts of the story. For example on page 9, there's an arrow labeled "See page 18" On page 18, one paragraph says "Insert on page 9" An attempt has been made in the web version of the document to insert the additional paragraphs into the places that COL Lilly intended. Words that could not be deciphered are marked in red.
At 6:30 am Dec 8, 1941 (Manila time) the phone in Quarters 39, Fort McKinley--which I occupied with Col. Harrison C. Browne, Chief of Staff, Philippine Division--rang. It was "Bish" (Hueston R.) Wynkoop asking to speak to Lt Col Kearie L. Berry. (X) I I told him that "K.L." was not in and, noting a tone of excitement in his voice, asked him if anything was wrong. It was then that he told me that Pearl Harbor had been bombed by the Japanese early that morning (Manila time). The question wed been asking ourselves for months was answered.
I phoned my regimental commander, Lt Col. George S. Clarke and found that he had also received the same news and had given orders to alert the regiment (57th Infantry P.S.). A few minutes later my car rolled up and my driver, Pvt. Aberin, Headquarters, Co, was ringing the door bell. Things in my quarters were in something of a mess, as I was in the midst of packing up all my belongings except those I would need in the field. Boxes and crates were all over the place. (X) who had arrived Nov. 20 on the "Cooledge" and was stopping with us temporarily.
It took Aberin and Juan Penas, my houseboy, only a moment to put my bedding roll in the car while I threw a couple of last minute articles into my clothing roll which I habitually kept hanging up and ready to roll. The same was true of my other field equipment, so it only remained for Aberin to close my roll and put it in the car. I got into my field equipment, took one last look around and headed for regimental headquarters. There were many things I hated to leave behind but were out of the question to take with me. Many times during the campaign I was to kick myself for not bringing along those lovely color photographs of Tori and the children, but, as I write this in a Taiwan prison camp, I know that had I done so I should have lost them just the same. So it wasnt in the cards for me to have them in prison camp.
Less than twenty minutes after talking to Col. Clarke, I arrived at regimental headquarters. Here everything was proceeding in a businesslike manner. Transportation was being spotted for each organization and equipment was being loaded just as had been done dozens of times in the short time I had been with the regiment. In other words, there was no fuss or excitement. Everybody knew exactly what he was supposed to be doing and, after reporting my arrival to the Regimental Commander, I took occasion to see that they were doing it. It occurred to me after a while that I had had no breakfast, so I stopped in at one of the company kitchens and got a cup of coffee.
In September of 1941, Colonel William E. Brougher who was in command of the 57th when I arrived on the February "Grant", was ordered to Baguio on the staff of the Philippine Army General Staff School. Lt. Col. Clarke, who had been Regimental Exec. when I joined, but who early in September was at Camp Ord (near San Miguel, Pampanga) on duty with the Philippine Army, was ordered back to assume command of the 57th. He had not arrived when we had our farewell review for Col. Brougher and Ill never forget the thrill I got out of commanding the regiment at that ceremony. Little did I think then that I would inherit the regiment and command it during more than half the campaign on Luzon.
I saw Col. Clarke for the first time since his return when we both attended a cocktail party at the Fort McKinley Officers Club he had arrived late that afternoon. I will remember how cordially he greeted me and how he told me he was looking forward to having me as his Executive. We had been very good friends before he left for duty with the P.A. and it made me feel especially good to have him speak to me as he did. I then and there resolved to give him everything I had (which, of course Id have done anyway) and then some. I make this rather long digression merely to show the very happy and cordial relationship which existed between Colonel Clarke and me from the outset.
To return to the events of the morning of the fateful 8th of December, it was a matter of a very short while before all battalion commanders, Captain Royal L. Reynolds (1st), Major Robert D. Scholes (2nd), and Captain Paul D. Wood (3rd) and commanders of special units reported ready to move. Soon the regiment was in bivouac on the outskirts of the post. Regimental Headquarters and Headquarters Company were located in the western edge of the post between the radio intercept station and the line of officers quarters, the Service and Antitank Companies in the vicinity of the 57th Infantry stables. The 1st Bn bivouacked near the Post Cemetery, the 2nd near the little barrio of PINAGKAISAJAN on the streetcar line between McKinley and Manila and about a mile west of the northern part of the post, while the 3rd battalion was located in the vicinity of the barrio, GUADALUPE, between the 2nd battalion and the post of McKinley.
Sometime during the morning (Dec. 8), the Commanding General, Philippine Division, Brigadier General Maxon S. Lough, called a conference of unit commanders at Division Headquarters which at that time had not been moved to the field. Col. Clarke, Captain Harold K. Johnson, regimental S-3 and I attended. Also present were the corresponding officers of the 31st Infantry (US) Lt Col. Charles L. Steel, C.O., Lt Col. Irvin A. Doane, Exec., and I forget who the regimental S-3 was, or actually whether or not he was present and the 45th Infantry (PS) Lt. Col. Thomas H. Doyle, C.O., and his S-3 Capt. Wright (Class of 29 at USMA). In addition, Capt Frederick Saint, C.O., 14th Engineer Bn (P.S.) was there and, of course, Col. Harrison C. Browne and Lt. Col. Robert J. Hoffman, the Chief of Staff and Asst. C of S, G-3, respectively of the Philippine Division. (X) As I recall, the only order issued by General Lough was that all units would move into the field at once and provide protection against aerial attack. The 57th Inf. was already in the field, so all we could do was to return to our bivouac area, sit tight and keep in touch with Division.
Well, here we were, away out on the end of a long limb. The question of the defense of the Philippines had been the subject of many discussions. We were now to find out the real answer. In the afternoon, we heard that Baguio and Fort John Hay (Commanded by Lt. Col. John P. Horan, a former member of the 57th) had been bombed at 8:24 AM, Tarlac at 11:30 am and that Clark Field, just off the post of Fort Statsenberg on the DAU side, had received hers, with great loss in heavy bombers, at 12:45 pm.
Phil Fry (Lt.Col. Philip T. Fry) who had arrived on the November 20th COOLEDGE, and who had received no assignment up to Dec 8th asked Philippine Division to assign him to his old regiment, the 57th. His request was readily granted. I will remember my surprise and (X) There were probably others present the Co.O. 12th Med Bn for example but I cannot say definitely. delight at seeing him coming across the field between our Command Post and Fort McKinley. Phil and I were born and raised in the same North Carolina town (Fayetteville); we went to school together and played together as boys. Our paths diverged about the time I went to college in 1911 and never crossed again until 1935 when we met in Atlanta, Ga, where Phil was on ROTC duty with "Boys" and "Tech" High Schools and I was on the same type of duty at "Georgia Tech". Aside from my personal feelings, I knew we were lucky because Phil had a fine record with the 30th Div in World War I and would have been a "find" for any outfit.
When he reported to Col. Clarke, he was asked if he would object to being assigned to command a battalion since Col. Carke did not want to relieve me as Regimental Exec. Phil is senior to me and automatically became second in command upon his assignment to the regiment (the Regimental Exec. is usually the officer next in seniority to the Commanding Officer). Phils reply was characteristic he told Col. Clarke that anything would be agreeable to him. Consequently, he was assigned to command the 3rd Bn and did a great job of it, under conditions which were extremely difficult, until he assumed command of the regiment at Abucay, Bataan, on Jan 21, 1942.
Lt. Col. Frank E. Brokow who had also arrived in the Philippines on November 20, 1941, had been assigned to the 57th Inf a week or two before the war broke. He had come from duty with the National Guard in the Fourth Corps Area and for several years while I was on duty at Georgia Tech, Atlanta was his headquarters. I knew him there and had been in the same class with him (1925-6) at the Infantry School. I did not know him intimately then, as I was to know him later, but knew he was a highly trained officer a Leavenworth graduate and that we were lucky to have him. On Dec 8th, Frank was assigned to command the 2nd Bn. The only other assignment of Dec 8th was that of Major Frank L. Holland sometime during the afternoon. He was given no specific assignment at once. Later he was to become G-2, Luzon Force on Bataan.
Incidentally, we learned that the report about the bombing of Tarlac at 11:30 am had been incorrect. Actually, she was bombed between 2 and 3 am on Dec 9 by the same flight of planes, presumably that bombed Nichols Field a few minutes later.
In the afternoon, we saw our first enemy planes at close range. They came flying low several of them over our C.P. They were going over Nichols Field again. From all reports, Nichols Field took a real pounding. A few bombs fell near the Carabao Gate. These were evidently intended for the Pan American Radio Station located between the B Range Road and the McKinley-Coolie-Coolie Rd about ¾ km west of the post. That afternoon Jap bombers came over our CP escorted by fighters in another attack on Nichols Field. We had a few fighters in the air and there was a rather one-sided fight, the Japs having all the advantage. The field was smashed and our few fighters scattered. A good part of the time the planes were directly over head. We were literally sprayed with small (about .30) and large (about .50) machine guns, but miraculously, none of our men was hit. Phil tells me that he and Frank got into the same fox hole at Regtl C.P. when they had come to receive some instructions. Frank seemed to impress Phil (as he impressed me many times later when he was Regtl Ex Off) as having a fatalistic view of the whole thing. Felt sure he was going to get it. Well Phil cheered him up as best he could. Says he was so busy watching the fight over head and trying to buck Franks morale, that he "didnt have time to be scared."
How many times during the course of the campaign were we to see these aluminum-colored planes with the red circles underneath their wing-tips flying at any and all altitudes --entirely unmolested! Some of our men opened fire but no perceptible damage was done. When they fired on and damaged one of our own planes late in the afternoon, orders were issued to hold their fire until ordered by an officer.
At the time of the wars outbreak, I had been president of a board of officers charged with conducting experiments leading to a recommendation on the proper length of stock on the Enfield rifle which was best suited for use by the Philippine Army. We had just agreed, as I remember, that the normal issue stock was about 1 ¼" too long, and it was this afternoon that I received and signed the completed board proceedings and sent it over to our 1st battalion for Roy Reynolds signature. That was the last I saw or heard of the whole thing. Of course, it all seemed rather funny and ironical.
All the 9th was spent in the same location and the men put in their time completing their fox holes. Of course, as a matter of routine, all guards were on duty from the outset machine guns were sited for antiaircraft defense and the men and officers impressed with the necessity for avoiding unnecessary exposure and the wearing of paths to and from their bivouac areas. Similarly the morning of the 10th was spent awaiting orders.
In the afternoon we received orders to dispatch one battalion to the vicinity of ARAYAT, Pampanja, to investigate a reported landing of paratroops. The 2nd battalion was designated and got away in a very short time.
We learned later that on this date the enemy was landing troops at Aparri, Vigan, and Legospe. They were unopposed, due to their overwhelming victory over our air corps at Clarke Field (our bombers suffered there) and, of course, our pursuit ships (mostly P-40s) were done no good in the Nichols Field and Nielsen Airport bombings. Ill never know why we werent caught enroute to Arayat that day. If the Japanese air force only knew it, a little enterprising activity on their part this date would have cut a month or more off the duration of the Philippine campaign.
Soon after the 2d Bn, had left, the remainder of the regiment was ordered to move on ARAYAT. The 1st Bn commanded by Roy (Capt Royal L. Reynolds )moved out at 6 pm and the 3rd followed after a short interval. Johnnie Olson (1st Lt. John E.) our regimental adjutant, and I went with the 1st Bn serial in my car.
About 5 pm, Johnnie and Aberin, my driver and I went over to the service road back of my old quarters (#44) where found the busses (PAMBUSCO and PANTRANCO, I think) spotted and the 1st Bn getting ready to load. These busses were all as red as the proverbial little red school houses and each one could, of course, be seen for miles by an airplane. As there was little overhead cover, I was very apprehensive. If I had known as much about the Nips then as I came to know later, I should not have worried so. Their planes, apparently go out on certain prescribed missions and under those conditions, targets of opportunity mean nothing.
There were a number of things that had to be attended to before we could move. Some of our busses burned gas, some diesel oil, and some alcohol and many of them had insufficient fuel for anything like the distance we were going; therefore it became necessary to transfer fuel from one bus to another and discard several of the busses. At 6 pm on the nose the column moved out. My car was in the lead. Just before we left, Col Harrison C. Browne, Chief of Staff, Philippine Division, came over to see how we were getting along. He was really having a busy day, but was everywhere, seeing that units were doing what they should yet never bothering anyone as some staff officers are apt to do. He asked me if every thing was ok and I told him the situation was under control. I began to comment on my apprehension over the beautiful target these red busses would make and to tell him about our having to transfer fuel etc but I could see he didnt want to listen to a lot of details, so I shut up. Soon he was off to see about other things that were on his mind. That was the last time I saw him for some time.
As the light was pretty good, Ed (Col. Edwin E.) Aldridge, Fort McKinley Post Exchange Officer, and former C.O. 1st Bn, 57th Inf (P.S.) came out and snapped some pictures. It was February 42 before I saw him again.
We headed out the Eagle Gate (down on the Pasiq River by the Commissary) and turned left into the river road. We turned north after entering the environs of Manila and continued on to Quezon Blvd where we turned left. From there on we followed the main highway which runs through San Fernando, Pampanga. It grew dark about the time our column entered Mancli. We were driving without lights, of course, at least all drivers were so instructed. The black out light with its pin point of bluish light was permitted however. Now and then the drivers would snap on their bright lights for an instant. Drastic threats had to be made before this was stopped. On the whole, however, I cannot say too much in praise of the little fellows who drove our busses. They left homes, and families on the shortest kind of notice, to be gone for nobody knew how long and none knew where he was going until he reported for instructions. Many of these men were killed by enemy bombs, others enlisted in the Philippine Army and the Scouts. Most of them never saw their families again. They ate with the organizations they transported and lived right on their busses.
On the way through Manila we were frequently guided along the dark road, warned of obstructions, and given other helpful information by members of some native volunteer corps who were very much on the job. We would be warned of their presence by a whistle and soon one of their number would hop on the running board of our leading vehicle (X) At one point I remember passing a bus-load of Nipponese women & children headed for the interment camp at New (Bilibid), Muntinlupa. Thus we proceeded northward toward ARAYAT without serious mishap. At one point one of the battalion trucks carrying, among others, Cpl Quenca, the battalion clerk, ran off a small low bridge. I remember Quencas presence in the truck, because he was hurt and had to be hospitalized.
The highway passes through San Fernando, but a couple of kilometers northward a second road branches to the right at a very small angle, passes the outskirts of San F and goes on to AYARAT. This latter road was the one we took. On arriving at a point just east of San F where an east-west road crossed the ARAYAT ROAD we met the 2nd Bn returning from Arayat where the paratroop report had been proved false. It was very dark and it had been drizzling for about half an hour. While I was talking to Frank Brokow, getting the lowdown on the local situation, Phil Fry came up. His column had closed up on the 1st Bn in the darkness. We turned left (west) here and proceeded toward San F. On arriving at the junction of our road with the main highway we met Col. Clarke and Johnnie (Major Harold K.) Johnson, Regtl. S-3. There we were told that the 1st Bn would proceed to Guaqua, the 2nd to Porac, and the 3d to Flonda Blanca. The 1st and 2nd would organize a defensive position along the Guaqua + Porac Road; the 3d being held in regimental reserve. I was directed to proceed to the Del Carmen Sugar Centrale and select a regimental C.P. taking Headquarters Co. with me. After a little groping around we found our destination, put the transportation under cover, and proceeded to get some sleep. Next morning I went into the office of the Sugar Centrale and told them why we were there. We were treated with every courtesy. I looked over the guest house which was on the edge of a little nine-hole golf course and not far from a very nice swimming pool, picked a nice suite for Col. Clarke and some very nice accommodations for myself and other headquarters staff members. The set-up looked pretty good. There was a phone, lots of books, and a phonograph with several books of records --also some nice showers which all the officers proceeded to use. This done, we went back to where we had left the troops and had breakfast. One of the Filipino employees of the Centrale brought us some eggs and one or two other items that were welcome among them, a bottle of tomatoe ketchup. After breakfast, Col. Clarke and Johnnie Johnson having failed to show up, I got in a Headquarters Co. "Jeep" and proceeded down the road on the look-out for them. I spotted Col. Clarkes Ford after Id gone about 2 Km south. It was parked under a tree near a Nipa shack which was built on rather tall supports leaving room enough underneath for a man to walk without bending over. Under the house seated on an improvised bunk I found Col Clarke and his S-3. No amount of urging on my part could lure them to the Sugar Centrale or move them from their determination to establish the Regimental C.P. at that point. I went back to Del. Carmen, thanked the people there for their courtesy, and started Headquarters Co. moving down the road to a location more accessible to our new C.P.
The 1st Bn, 24th FA (PS) commanded by Lt Col. Charles B Leinbach, and Co C, 12th Med Bn (PS) commanded by Major John W. Raulston soon moved into the near vicinity. So, with the exception of Co. A, 14th Engr Bn (PS), Capt. Charles M. Dempwolf, commanding, which was being used on other work at the time, the 57th Combat Team was all together.
This Nipa shack or perhaps I had better say house since it was far superior to those in the vicinity was owned and occupied by a Filippino family named Pono.
The Ponos were a family of very friendly Filipinos ruled with an iron but kindly hand by an 80 yr old matriarch. Her sons were constantly dropping in. All were intelligent, seemingly, and employed on some sort of jobs in cooperation with us vigilance work etc.
There were several cacas and pumelo trees surrounding the house while in rear there was a small banana grove. As soon as communication with Philippine Division had been effected, we set about the preparation of fox holes. Each individual was assigned a fox hole or a place in one, so as to eliminate any confusion. Air guards were posted, as well as a line of lookouts, along the bank of a small stream which passed the house about 300 yards in rear- the same stream, incidentally as that which ran through Del Carmen.
The next few days were spent in going over our line from GUAGUA to PORAC and doing all we could to ensure the carrying out of our mission, namely, to cover the withdrawal of the North Luzon Forces whenever necessary. Our 1st Bn was on the right in the general vicinity of GUAGUA, with Co B in Santa Rita a little barrio about 1 KM to the west on the GUAGUA-PORAC ROAD. The 2nd Bn occupied the lines in the vicinity of PORAC.
On Dec. 11 word came from P.D. that paratroops had been reported in the vicinity of ABUCAY HACIENDA, Bataan, and regiment was directed to dispatch a Bn to that locality with the mission of investigating the report and, if it was true, destroying the enemy. The 3rd Bn was selected and Frank (Capt Franklin O.) Anders, regtl S-2, carried the instructions to Phil Fry, at Florida Blanca. According to Phils subsequent account, the Bn was rearing to go and it was only a few minutes before they were on their way with Charlie Haass (Capt Charles W. Haas) Co K in the lead.
Our evenings were spent quietly and for the most part, in the dark. Often wed sit around playing games. One of the most popular was a word spelling game called "Third of a Ghost." Johnnie Johnson, Col Clarke, Johnnie Olson, Frank Anders and I used to kill the evening with that very successfully. At some point, Id pull out and wander down to the river and see how our lookouts were doing. No matter when I showed up and I seldom went the same time two days running, I found them on the alert.
During this time, Col Clarke insisted that we not only wear our side arms and carry our gas masks slung under our left arms at all times while awake, but he issued an order that we sleep with them in the same position. I guess he was getting a little tired of hearing me sound off, but I told him I thought it would be better if we were allowed to place these items within reach wed get a better nights rest and that at the same time the result I knew he desired would be achieved. I got nowhere with that. If I am creating the impression that there was friction between us, I am sorry for that was not the case. He was always most friendly and courteous to me and had a way of disapproving my suggestions in a very pleasant, friendly way. Almost invariably he thanked me for any suggestions and told me to be free with others for there must be no lacking frankness between us.
Our staff mess here was by Headquarters Co, 1st Lt Homer J. Colman, commanding. Hqs Co was about ½ mile north of us on the road to Del Carmen. One of the cooks, Surmonte by name, took quite an interest in us. His son, a youngster in his teens, used to come with him and help serve. The meals were prepared at the Co. and brought down by whatever transportation was available a truck sometimes, but more often an animal drawn conveyance such as a caraboo cart or a pony drawn carametta.
On the night of Dec 12 (my notebook says it was 8:25 pm.) while going from Guagua to Porac in my Govt Chevrolet (W-11275) driven by Pvt Aberin, Hq Co. we had a head-on collision with a ½ ton pickup truck (W24345) of Co D driven by a Pvt Arciago, Co. D. In my car in addition to the driver and me, was our Chaplain, Capt Thomas J. Scecina. We got shaken up a bit but as both cars were moving slowly no one was hurt at least not badly. A Pvt Dagan, Co. D received a small cut behind his left ear which I bandaged. Both vehicles were proceeding without lights Chevrolet on left of road, ½ ton pick-up on right. This happened (according to notebook) 3.4 miles west of Guagua.
As I passed through Guagua, Roy Reynolds introduced me to a new officer, 1st Lt. Arthur W Wermuth, who had just joined Co. D.
A day or two later, after Id reported the accident to George (Major G. F. ) Fisher, Regt S-4, I got a nice shiny blue, right hand drive Chevrolet in replacement. George told me it had formerly belonged to a Catholic Priest (Filipino) of Lubao.
The 3d Bn found the paratroop rumor false and was ordered by P.D. to remain at the hacienda.
On Dec 17, Roy Reynolds brought Vic (Capt Victor F.) Crowell, C.O. Co D by regimental C.P. and reported that Vic had been making remarks to the effect that he didnt want to have any part in this war remarks which (Vic having proved on several occasions that he wasnt yellow) reflected upon either his loyalty or his sanity. He asked that arrangements be made for Vic to be sent to a hospital for observation. These arrangements were soon made and Vic was sent back to Div C.P. for disposition. This was the last any of us saw of him alive.
On Dec 19, by order of P.D., 3rd Bn 57th Inf (PS) moved to OLONGOPO for the purpose of stopping a threatened enemy landing in SUBIC BAY.
While here we met several of the young aviators from Del Carmen Air Field. Two were particularly nice to us bringing us fresh bread from time time. One was Capt Jack Chiles brother in law (I think his name was Brown anyway he was the brother of Jacks wife, Lucy (as I remember her name). Incidentally Chiles was S-2 57th Inf (PS) and returned to the US prior to the war. The other officer was a non flying Captain named Munton.
During the nine days we spent at this place, there had been very little to do. A few patrols over into the hills west of the river to investigate some very suspicious lights, resulted in nothing we could put our fingers on. This section of Luzon is noted as a hotbed of Sakdalista activity, and as this is seldom loyal to the U.S. we thought we had better keep on our guard. Several times each day wed see flights of 27 or more Japanese bombers flying at about 30,000 feet and headed a little east of south obviously bound for Manila. At the first sighting of them, the air guard would sound a whistle blast and wed all make a dive for our fox holes. After wed done this several times when the passing planes were at a considerable angle from us laterally, I spoke to Col. Clarke about it and expressed some doubt of its necessity. That was the first time he ever seemed to lose his patience with me. We were playing it safe, he said, and the officers were setting the men an example. In this way, we would save ourselves a lot of casualties. Several times I noticed that he remained in his fox hole for an unduly long time after the planes had passed over. However, I thought nothing of this. He was a seasoned soldier and the veteran of all the actions of the famous First Division in the First World War. However, I did think he stayed a little too close to the C.P. and required his staff to do the same. If theres one thing that bucks the morale of troops in the line, its to see the C.O. and staff frequently. Another suggestion I made was that we arrange for the officers to go up to Del Carmen in small groups and bathe. We had telephone connection with the Centrale and it looked to me like the commonsense thing to do. As it was, we were bathing in tin cans which is all right if the conditions warrant, but Ive never believed in making oneself more uncomfortable than necessary. This suggestion was summarily disapproved and rather put a damper on my bright ideas for the time being. I began to notice after that, that as Executive, I was being short circuited. Johnnie and the C.O. were dealing direct and many times Id know nothing of what had been done until Id pry it out myself. So I had a talk with Johnnie and hed tell me everything that went on. Finally, I thought Id better mention it to Col. Clarke. He was surprised and assured me that nothing had been further from his mind than to leave me out. At this point, I thought it best to mention my views on the staffs getting around a little more. I didnt get much response from that.
On Dec 20 by order of P.D, the 57th Inf (PS) moved from the Guaga-Porac position to a similar position with the same general mission on an east-west line extending through ANGELES, Pampanga. The 2d Bn was on the right of the line with its right about ½ Km east of Angeles at a pt on the Mabalacat-San F (Pamp) Rd. where Rd to Arayat turns off. 1st Bn extended the line to the west, its responsibility including the "back road" to Fort Statsenberg. The regimental C.P. was located in a little palm grove on the east side of the PORAC-ANGELES ROAD and about 2 Km north of Porac (on the north bank of a dry stream bed).
With the exception of the 26th Cav (PS) and a few special troops, none of the Philippine Division had been engaged in this fighting so far. The Philippine Army had been fighting a series of withdrawals from one phase line to another and we [57th Inf (PS), 45th Inf (PS) and 31st Inf (US)] constituted a covering force the scheme of maneuver being a series of delaying actions to allow the North Luzon Force (Major Gen. Jonathan M. Wainwright, commanding) to fall back on the Bataan Peninsula - the old WPO 3 which course was forced upon us by the incompetence of our Air Corps leaders in allowing the Clark Field Fiasco and the failure of our naval units to do anything at all to prevent enemy landings. We know about the Air Corps, but the failure of the navy to do anything to even discourage these landings is still a great big mystery to most of us. Surely, a few submarines at the mouth of Lingayan Gulf on Dec 21-22 41 could have done something. All we know is they didnt.
On or about December 25, the 3d Bn joined the regiment as regimental reserve in a small barrio several km south of ANGELES. This position was as quiet as the PORAC-GUAGUA position, the only thing that broke the monotony was the daily flights of planes headed for Corregidor and Manila.
The 2nd Regular Philippine Infantry (later designated as the 3rd R.P.I.) was on our right with Hqs in Mexico. It was part of the 1st Regular Philippine Div. under General Fidel Segundo.
On the only visit I ever made to this regiment, I stopped in at Div. Hq and saw Cols. Kearie L. Berry (advisor to the Div Commander) who commanded the Div from about the middle of February to the end, and (Albert) Hugh Dumas (advisor to CO, 2d Reg Phil Inf) who ended the war in command of this regiment under its new assignment as the 3rd R.P.I.) I also met a Major Gaverra whom I had not met before but who had been one of my predecessors in charge of the Filipino Schools at McKinley and whose signature I had often seen.
This regiment was raw and untrained, having been mustered into service on December 17 41. After we had been in position for a day or two this regiment was placed under the command of the C.O. 57th Inf (PS). At this time, we had our Combat Team together with the exception of our engineer company. The 1st Bn 24th FA (PS) was just south of Angeles with several guns covering the Angeles-Mabalacat road as a protection against tanks. Our collecting Co. (C, 12th Med Bn PS) was located in the Southeastern outskirts of PORAC.
About Dec 26 or 27th we could see large clouds of smoke rising from Statsenberg. Frank Brokow and Roy Reynolds sent up to find out what was going on and discovered that stores were being burned preparatory to abandoning that post. Trucks were then sent up to salvage everything possible. This was done by all battalions and units of our combat team except our Headquarters company-Col. Clarke vetoed this. It was discovered that almost everything was available there for the taking the entire P.Ex stock, medical supplies at the hospital and food and clothing at the QM to say nothing of ammunition at the Ordnance warehouse. Much valuable "loot" was brought in "loot" which proved valuable many times later on.
On or about Dec 24 we were joined by two (2) medical officers 1st Lts Donald W Robinson, who went to the 1st Bn, and John E. Lamey, who went to the 3rd Bn and one (1) dental officer 1st Lt McCurdy who was assigned as a regular medico to the 2nd Bn. On this same date we received (3) young second lieutenants, graduates of the Class of 41 at USMA. They were Alexander R. Nininger, assigned to Co A, Cheany, assigned to Co B, and Hector J. Polla, assigned to Co C.
About this time Staff Sgt Flaxiano Balantong Hq Co., was accidentally shot in the upper legs by a Col. 45 pistol in the hands of a F.A. sentry. He was taken to the hospital at San Fernando, Pampanga, and in spite of repeated efforts to locate him, he was never heard of again.
One incident while in the Angeles portion will bear recording here. About the 27th or 28th of December, Col Clarke left the C.P. for a visit to Angeles. About 10 minutes after his departure, Frank Brokow phoned from Angeles and told me that a few minutes before, a hysterical Filipino came riding into Angeles from Mabalacat announcing to all who might hear that the Japanese has broken through and were in Mabalacat. Frank said he had notified Roy Reynolds and was investigating the incident that personally he took little stock in it. I told him Col. Clarke was headed his way and suggested that he get on with his investigation and keep me informed. He had tried and I tried to get the 2d Regular Phil. Inf. Neither of us had any luck. Their division was also inaccessible to us by phone and the moment I called Hq 3d Bn, got Col Clarke on the phone and told him of the report also Franks and my reaction to it. He said "Oh my God" and hung up. Later Phil told me the story. Hearing this "Oh my God at the end of the conversation Phil said "Whats the matter, Colonel?" to which Col Clarke replied "I cant tell you". Phil then said "Colonel Clarke, after all, Im second in command of the regiment and I think I should have your entire confidence in this matter. If anything should happen to you, Im next you know." Well, Col. Clarke calmed down and told Phil what it was about. The report proved false, of course. A couple of 26th Cav (PS) stragglers had decided they wanted to fire their pistols.
Cols Irwin G-3 & Lewis C. Beebe G-4 USAFFE visit us briefly.
There was little excitement during our stay in this position. We were ready at all times to function in our assigned role of covering face to NLF if they should need us. We were well provided with fox holes, in which we were required to spent all too much time. We had a mess table under a thick overhead growth of palm trees. Over this, extending well beyond the edges was a large tarpaulin. Even then, no smoking was allowed after nightfall. On the only occasion that I ever saw USAFFE G-3 Col. Constant L Irwin and G-4 Col Lewis C. Beebe during the entire war, the two of them, on a tour of the front, dropped into our CP one night about dark it was about supper time. Anyway one of them sat under the tarpaulin and lit a cigarette at which Col Clarke advised him of the practice with reference to smoking, and requested that the cigarette be extinguished. This was done, but not until after the atmosphere had become charged with unpleasantness. Regardless of how needless I may have thought the regulation I recall feeling at the time that our visitors might have made inquiries as to local conditions before striking a light. Col Clarke knew he had been recommended for promotion and felt a very natural curiosity as to when promotions would be made. Both staff officers were wearing their eagles, but when Col Clarke inquired about the date he could expect to receive his, all Col. Beebe could say was "I dont know. I got mine." This was several days after the effective date of most of the earlier wartime promotions Dec 19 41. The lights in the neighboring hills continued to look very suspicious, but in spite of numerous patrols, we were never able to pin anything on anyone.
Routine matters including cribbage with the regtl surgeon,. Captain Edwin R. Wernitznig, a little emergency dental work by 1st Lt Garnett H. Francis our regtl dental surgeon and the occasional luxury of a bath at the local homes lucky enough to have showers.
One incident I remember very well. We werent advertising the location of our C.P. but it was impossible to withhold information of its whereabouts from every one we were in back of several occupied Nipa shacks. One evening as we were sitting down to supper, a little before dark Capt Homer J Colman, who commanded Regtl Hq Co and ran our staff mess, came into the CP followed by a Filipino boy who was pushing a bicycle. There was a basket on the bicycles handle bars and in it were a dozen or more bottles of Coca-cola and enough ice to ensure its being just right for drinking. Colemans face was wreathed in smiles. We found out later that hed stumbled onto this coca-cola and the whole thing had involved considerable trouble to him. Well, he was pleased at being able to bring a little added cheer to the mess.
Col Clarke began taking him to task for bringing the Filipino into the C.P. where upon Colman sent the boy away after telling him where he could expect his bicycle to be delivered to him. But this would not do. By this time Col Clarke was thoroughly excited. The coca-cola had to go too and it did. I often wondered what became of it. And I felt rather sorry for Colman.
Anticipating a move to the rear, the regiment had reconnoitered the back road from PORAC to DINALUPIJAN (just west of Layac Junction).
On Dec 3141 the regiment moved from its position to ABUCAY. We did not move by the back road to Dinalupijan as anticipated, due to a heavy and penetrating rain. Our route was via PORAC, GUAGUA, LUBAO, LAYAC JCT, etc. The move was made at night. The 31st Inf (US) had done some work on the OPLR through SAMAL and the MLR through Mabatang, but not nearly enough. There hadnt been time. Ill never forget the disgusted tone of Frank Brokows voice (it was too dark to see his face) when he and I were trying to locate his OPLR about midnight. I didnt know any more about the situation than he did. I was just trying to help him get oriented.
It was on this date, though we didnt know it at the time, Vic Crowell was accidentally shot and killed at Hq. Phil Div. while enroute from the hospital back to the regiment. About Jan 1 or 2 42 I attended his funeral in the little Abucay cemetery. Chaplain Scecina and I were the only ones there outside the grave digging detail. Other graduates USMA (one being a classmate 39) were notified in time.
One platoon Co G plus 1 section machineguns (also from Co G) were left to man the OPLR through Samal under the command of Lt Paul Shure.
About 2 Km south of Samal there was another barrio called KALAGUIMAN. South of this, still another barrio called MABATANG lay on the East Road at a distance of about 2 Km. Mabatang was on the Dalahitan River and about 2 Km north of ABUCAY on the Labangan River. The MLR extended east and west through Mabatang. Regimental C.P. and reserve battalion were located in Abucay and the whole position was known as "The Abucay Position" How that name was to be engraved on all our minds! The 1st Bn occupied the right of the MLR beginning on the east with Manila Bay Co C (Capt Lloyd E. Miller, commanding) on the right, Co A (Capt. Frederick J Yeager, commanding) on the left a little school house about 100 yards west of the East Rd (Hy No 7). Co A (Capt. Eugene H Anthony, commanding) was in Bn reserve about 500 yards to the south and on the east side of the main (East) road.
The left of the MLR was held by the 3rd Bn. Co K (Capt. Charles W. Haas, commanding) with one platoon Co M was on the right; Co I (Capt Herman J. Gerth, commanding) also with one platoon Co M, was on the left. Co L (Capt. Ernest L. Brown, commanding) was in Bn reserve 500-600 yds southward on the east side of the Engineer road which led in to the western edge of Abucay.
The left of our 3rd Bn tied in with the right of the 41st Div (PA) - BG Vicente Linn commanding, Col Malcolm V. Fortier advisor and detailed plans for mutual exchange of machine gun fire with the 41st Inf (PA) (Col. Loren A. Wetherby, advisor) had been made. The 2d Bn (less 1 platoon + 1 MG Sect Co G) was in regimental reserve on the RRL (east of Hy 7) which extended through the north edge of Abucay.
Kalaguiman was on a small stream. About 1 ¼ km west of this barrio there was a large cane field which extended south and a little east to a point near the left of 3d Bn 57th Inf (PS). This field was the source of much trouble to us as it was from it that most of the enemy attacks were launched. We realized it to some extent but not fully. There was not time to cut it, and it was far too green to burn. The result was that we let it be and the thing became a nightmare before we were through.
Both battalions went to work in earnest getting ready for whatever may have come. Phil Frys efforts were similar those of Roy Reynolds. Heres what Phil says about the 3d Bn at this time: "Called on the Engineers for tools, wire for entanglements and the construction of a continuous mine field across my front. They came through in a big way and furnished everything we needed and started work on the mine field (Co A 14th Engr Bn (PS) was commanded by Capt. Charles M. Dempwolf). At the same time we were putting up our barbed wire entanglements. Had no trouble getting equipment and help because everyone knew the Japs would hit here first in attempting to break the position. The ground was adobe; baked hard, so first we started on individual fox holes and gradually tried to connect them. Also started on communication trenches to the rear, but to have completed the job would have required at least three (3) months. We had only a few days so did the best we could. When the fight finally started we had a partially completed mine field one band of barbed wire entanglements, good fox holes partially connected and almost no rear communication trenches." The mutual exchange of fires was arranged by C.O.s our 1st and 3d Bns. "In Co K area were placed our two .50 cal A.T. machine guns. They were covering the highway and possible tank approaches." Co M (less 2 platoons) was back in the general vicinity of Co L on BRL. The modern anti-tank guns of one A-T Co. were located on Hy No. 7 (in 1st Bn Sector). "The mortar platoon was almost in the center of the section and about 500 yards from the front lines. They had an excellent position in a dried up stream bed, and were so disposed as to be able to fire on a cane field" the cane field referred to above "on our left flank." The 3d Bn position had one great weakness. Will discuss it now. The cane field was in the 41st Inf sector was an immense affair with the nearest edge only about 500 yards from the front. The Engineers tried to burn it, even using parachute flares, but the cane was too green. Working parties tried cutting it down but the time was all too short and almost no impression was made. It was a constant threat and danger point. It finally became a huge grave yard for the Japs."
The situation in the 1st Bn was quite different from the 3rd. East of the main road were a series of fish ponds (used by the natives in peacetime for raising "BANGOS" a very edible species of (milc) fish) so the MLR and RRL of this Bn were confined to the dikes separating these ponds. These dikes were wide enough to accommodate foxholes and the presence of water in its front rendered the 1st Bn less likely to be attacked (frontally at least) than the 3rd. They had to guard carefully against landings from Manila Bay and, of course, the portion of its MLR in the Co A sector west of the main road was just as liable to frontal attack as any point in the 3d Bn sector.
About Jan 1st a prewar romance between Capt. Garnett H. Frances, Dental Surg. 57th Inf (PS) and Miss Erline Allen, ANC was culminated in their marriage at the 57th Inf (PS) Command Post Abucay, Bataan. P.I. Col. Clarke was there and "gave away" the bride. A good many others, including myself were present. I felt that Chaplain Scecina performed the wedding ceremony, but since he is Catholic and I dont think they were, I cant say for sure.
On Jan 2 42 all officers of the regiment except Lt Cols. Lilly, Regtl Exec; Fry (Co 3d Bn) and Brokow (Co. 2d Bn), Major George F.Fisher and 2d Lts Cheany, Nininger and Polla, were promoted and grade dating from Dec 19 41. The first 4 were already holding grades commensurate with their duties, and the three 2 Lts had joined too late to be included in the promotion recommendations. Polla and Cheany were promoted later in January . Niningers promotion came through after Jan 12 42, the date he was killed.
**At dawn Jan 9th Lt Shure and his OPLR troops returned to the 2d Bn at Abucay at dawn. They had been hard pressed, he said. Looked like a poor piece of leadership to me. He was sent back as far as Kalaguiman at 10 am.
On Jan 4, heard that Major Buck (JE) Purcell asst G-4 (to Co PA Brawner) HPD
had died of a heart attack during the night. On the 2d Bn joined a
provisional regiment under the command of Col. Charles Steel at Layac Jct.
No action. Returned to regimental control ------
word was received
that the morale of our OPLR troops was low. Capt. Wermuth, C.O. Co D, was sent
up to investigate on Jan 9, 42.
On Jan 9, Gen Douglas MacArthur with some members of his staff, I forget which one, visited our C.P. One of our intelligence patrols had just behaved very well in a brush with the enemy to the north. He was all enthusiastic wanted lots of recommendations for decorations submitted. He stayed less than 5 minutes. This was the only time I ever saw him during the war and the second time I ever saw a USAFFE staff officer. Maj Gen Robert A Sutherland, USAFFE C of S came up to Abuycay some time between Jan 14 and 21 when Col. Arnie J Funk was in command
On same date Capt Arthur W Wermuth, C.O., Co D, was sent up to Kalaguiman to assist Lt Shure in bolstering the morale of the OPLR troops and to render a report on conditions.
While here, Co A, 14th Engr Bn (PS) part of 51st CT commanded by Capt Charles M. Dempwolf, gave us a great deal of assistance. They not only built a number of splinter proof dugouts at regimental C.P. and constructed several bridges and roads of tactical importance, but also furnished and installed barbed wire, mines and other obstacles in front of our M.L.R.
On Jan 10, Abucay received a very heavy shelling and was set on fire. That night, on Capt. Wermuths recommendation, 1st Lt Harry J Stimpin moved forward to Kalaguiman with the remainder of Co G plus 1 squad Co E, + 1 squad Co. F and relieved Lt Paul Shure and his OPLR troops. He remained on OPLR one night.
That night at 10:30 (approx) the 3d Bn Sector received a determined attack by well equipped and specially selected troops. His story of this attack follows:
Here I would like to insert a justification or alibi for myself about that artillery fire. In the first place, I knew nothing of the order that artillery fire would be furnished only on order of CO, 57th CT. In the second place, since feeling myself somewhat short circuited by Col Clarke in his dealings with S-3, and since I was occupying a separate dugout from that of Col. Clarke + Major Johnson, I had made it a point to have my phone plugged in so I could listen in on all conversations by C.O. and S-3. So, I heard Phils request for artillery, Johnsons reply, and the rather heated conversation between Phil and Col. Clarke. I dont blame Johnnie so much, somehow, for after all hes inexperienced. A brilliant mind far beyond his years and service, but, after it's all said and done, he lacked experience and you couldnt blame him for that. But I did blame Col. Clarke for thinking an officer with Phils service was going off halfcocked and ask for artillery fire on some enemy reconnaissance patrol. So I went over to the C.O.s dugout and made myself plain. Johnnie was at the phone then looking like a man who has had his troubles. Col. Clarke was lying on the straw covered floor. He looked rather ghostly with several days growth of his heavy black beard and was repeating over and over to himself "Oh my God! Oh my God!"
Well, for the first time since Dec 8 41 I think I really understood the situation. But what in hell could I do . If Id had any guts I suppose Id have got the artillery on the phone and released it to Col. Fry. But thats a drastic step to take and; well, I just wasnt ready to take it. I did tell them what I thought and almost took the words out of Phils mouth in guaranteeing him a big hole in the line by morning if he didnt do something about it.
To continue with Phils story: "About dawn" Jan 11 42 "set out with Pete Wood for a check up on the front lines. Went to Co K first, as they were the closest-- found Haas actually in the front lines engaged in the doubtful sport of exchanging shot for shot and playing hide and seek with the Jap snipers out front. He knew he was caught doing something he shouldnt and tried pointing out all the Jap dead in an effort to get me interested in anything except what he had been doing. Guess Im pretty soft. Didnt have the heart to say a word. After all, it was his first experience in combat and what a man!! He told me of his losses with tears in his eyes. Mine burned a little too. Made our way down to the Co I sector. Everything quiet. So perhaps we became careless. Heard someone yell but paid very little attention until a snipers rifle cracked. Missed us but it was close. Crawled about 50 yards farther, and found Capt Gerth down a bullet in his hip. Didnt realize he was so badly hurt although he was bleeding quite a lot. Had to drag him to cover and then to Bn Aid station. Gerth told me that 1 Lt David L Maynard had been shot by snipers only a short while before, so back to him only to find that he was dead. Turned Co I over to 1st Lt Arthur W Green Did everything I could to strengthen the front line and visited with all of the scouts that I could. Had nothing but words of praise for them. One old scout said "Colonel, they cant fight as good as we can!" Finished my inspection and went back to the C.P. to make my report to regt. Estimated we had been hit by a reinforced battalion . My conclusions were about as follows: They had expected no serious opposition, had not been prepared to find an organized position with wire entanglements. Masses of them had been caught in the cane field by the artillery. Many were blown to bits by the mine field. The rifles and machine guns had exacted a terrible toll. That they had lost face by the withdrawal and would try to regain it by a determined attack by a much larger body of troops the next night. Snipers on both sides were active for the rest of the day. Otherwise "the calm before the storm."
"About 10 pm" on the 11 of Jan '42' the show started. Enemy preparations, including the clank of tanks getting into position, were heard prior to this hour and reported. Lt Johnnie (1 Lt John M) Compton had prevailed upon me to allow him to go to Co I and assist Green who was without an officer. Johnnie was a natural fighter and one of the most likeable youngsters I have ever known. His loss was personal affair to all of us. I looked upon him as one would a younger brother." Id like to add my voice to these remarks. I had Johnnie in the 3d Bn before the war and knew him intimately. Our friendship lasted while I was Regtl Exec before and during the war. "The Japs opened up with their light mortars (one of their most effective weapons). Our front lines were smothered for about 10 minutes. I called for the artillery barrage at once and down it came. Every weapon we had went into action as over they came with the now familiar cry of "Banzai." Once again they tried filtering through. We of course were ready for this move and no quarter was given. by either side. The winning of this battle had become a personal matter to every individual on both sides the Japs to save face and the scouts to give to the Philippine people and the Americans an example of courage and fighting ability in the face of superior weapons and the heavily outnumbered that was to go down in Philippine history. Green + Haas kept in constant touch with me. Haas reported a Jap tank destroyed and others withdrawing in a crippled state. Both the Jap tanks and infantry had hit our mine field again and they didnt like it! Especially in the face of our machine guns and Geroud rifles. Co K was doing all right. Green reported Co I in trouble. The Japs, in force, had pierced his line. He had used everything he had. All of a sudden he said "They got Johnnie." Then he goes down! I told him to hold on, that I was sending help. Turned to Capt Brown and ordered a counterattack. (The above conversation with Green was my last with him) against Co Is sector. Told him about Johnnie and the condition of Co I in a few words. Browns face was white, but with a look that boded no good for the Japs. He was on his way up with Co L for the attack almost immediately. Another youngster, unseasoned yes- but for sheer courage Ive never seen their equal. Haas told me his left flank was in the air - that Co I had been shot to pieces. Informed him Brown was on the way up for him to hold on but to refuse his left slightly. Co L, under Brown, hit the hole hard and joined forces with Haas on his right, but failed to establish contact with the 41st Inf (PA) on his left. The gap was still there but covered by fire. It was a stalemate! A Jap reinforced regiment had failed to get through. Now broad daylight and we were both pinned to the ground. Had already called upon the 41st Inf (PA) for an Inf Co. and regt. for a rifle co and a platoon of machine guns (heavy). The Japs had followed the refused flank of Cos K and L giving one an exposed flank to hit. (Never will understand why the Jap command allowed this to happen). About 1 pm the P.A. Co reported under command of Capt. Webb. Assigned him a position very favorable to the prevention of a Jap withdrawal, and he went with his company. Capt. (Donald T) Childers, Commanding Co E reported. Had him go with me to the O.P. and there pointed out on the ground the entire set up. No Benning problem could have been designed with a more perfect setup! Childers and myself didnt hurry and everything was planned., down to the smallest detail. All units were notified of the impending attack and the time it was to be launched. All units were ordered to assist by fire and join as Co E came abreast. Well, the attack was beautiful and inspiring sight Ive ever seen! The scouts had been trained for years work on the parade ground in the company in attack and it was a model of precision and exactness. If it had been put on at Benning to show the mechanics of a company in attack for the "visiting firemen," it could not have been improved upon. Well, the Japs were caught. They fought bravely until the machine guns under Capt. Scholes came into the fight (a separate story in itself he was awarded the DSC) The attacking company came 1stLt Adolph Meus, Co H, was shot through the head and instantly killed while riding up on a Co H weapons carrier on line with the refused flank and the advance became general. The Japs tried to give ground orderly but they were hard pressed. The fight was over. All of our positions reformed. A Japanese regiment defeated with a loss of almost 2000 men. It was the first time the Japs had been stopped and whipped. My losses about 40% of enlisted men Lts Compton, Wilson, Green died or missing in action. " Phil, for some reason omits to mention Lt Maynard (killed in the morning of the 11th). "Out of my eleven officers, there were only six (6) left." These were Major Dave D. Wood, Bn Ex; Captains Mark G. Herbst, Bn Surg. Rudyard K. Grimes, C.O. Co M, Charles W. Haas, C.O. Co K, and Ernest L. Brown, C.O. Co L; and Lieutenant Robert L. Fleetwood, Bn S-1. Captain Herman J. Gerth had been hit in the buttocks and a nerve injured with the result that he was never to do duty with the regiment again.
During the fight many of the cream of the regiment were killed, both the companies on the MLR losing their first sergeants Cavit Co I and Ricos, Co K, both fine men. Cavit basketball teams at McK will long be remembered.
Notified regiment of my casualties and was informed later that we would be relieved that night by the 2nd Bn and placed in regimental reserve for a little rest. Told regiment to make the relief early as my men in their exhausted condition couldnt be expected to stand another attack by a fresh regiment. This they agreed to do and then failed to carry out, the result being a relief about midnight made while we were fighting off raiding parties. Withdrew to vicinity of ABUCAY and constituted regimental reserve."
During the past two days fighting, the 1st Bn had received no attack. The one company to become involved at all was Co. A on Co Ks right - which suffered few casualties. One (1) light tank was knocked out by one of the BT guns on Hy 7 only two (2) shots being fired. The 1st Bn had had some trouble with artillery "shorts" but, aside from getting the mens nerves on edge, no damage was done.
On the morning of Jan 11th it was considered advisable to burn the barrio of Kalaguiman. Capt. Wermuth volunteered to do this. He went up, provided with some gasoline. An arrangement with our artillery had been made as follows: As soon as the first wisp of smoke from Kalaguiman was observed by the artillery they were to wait ten (10) minutes and then put down a concentration in that barrio. The purpose of the 10 minute wait, obviously was to allow Wermuth and the men from the OPLR who were helping him to get back and under cover.
Everything went off as planned. At 10 am. Wermuth began firing the village from the north edge as the wind was blowing from the north at the time. When he returned to Abucay, Stenepin and the personnel of the OPLR were with him. They had been notified in advance to abandon the outpost and were all ready to move. Wermuth was given the DSC for this.
The Japanese soldiers who had filtered through our lines came prepared to stay awhile. They were apparently well trained as marksmanship (the only Japs we ever ran into who could hit the broad side of a barn) and furnished with concentrated food and lots of other special equipment including a little rubber hose with a filter in the end of it. These were seasoned troops and highly trained in this specialized work, being especially chosen for their courage. They were adept in the art of camouflage. They wore nets over their helmets and their uniforms as well as these helmet nets were entwined with foliage which made them blend with the grass and trees and extremely difficult to see
They took their toll in casualties, selecting as their victims the men who were unaccompanied. Then the air corps began a practice which didnt do our morale one bit of good - that was dropping strings of small firecrackers behind our lines. These sounded like automatic rifles or light machine guns and it was several days before the mystery was solved. So between the fire crackers and the snipers the morale of our men suffered considerably. We organized a sniper company from volunteers out of the various rifle companies. The original strength was 87 men. Capt Wermuth, who had done some very good work leading patrols, and had brought in a good deal of equipment and clothing which were valuable sources of enemy information, was placed in command in addition to his duties as C.O. Co D.
However, it took one 2d Lt Alexander Ramsey Nininger, Co A USMA 41 to pave the way in anti-sniper work. On Jan 12, sensing the need for some counter-sniper work in order to restore morale, and entirely on his own initiative, he took a number (3 or 4) of volunteers from Co A, and several men from the 3d Bn and worked the line of trees along the MLR in the left of the regimental position. He and his men were successful in ridding the area of a number of these snipers and he was shot and killed while performing this valuable service, later in the morning. He was recommended for, and posthumously awarded, the Congressional Medal of Honor for extraordinary heroism in combat above and beyond the call of duty. As far as I know this was the first Congressional Medal of Honor awarded in the entire war.
Pete Wood, Brownie, and Charlie Haas were engaged in doing pretty much the same thing. Theyd locate a sniper and blow him out of his tree or other vantage point with grenades. They noticed Nininger and were impressed by the fact that he was engaged in this without orders. They worked with him a while and, after he was killed, submitted a report to regimental headquarters.
On Jan 12th we were rejoined by Capt. Thomas F Chilcote who had been in S. D. with the MP detachment prior to the war at McKinley and since the outbreak of war, had remained on that duty in Bataan. Toms big trouble had been beer. He never got drunk, but it only took a few bottles to make him sort of silly and irresponsible, so when he showed up at Abucay I said to myself, "Oh! Oh! Weve got him on our hands now and will have to find a job for him." Little did I realize what a lucky day it was for us when Tom came back to us. Well, we didnt know what to do with him, so kept him around regtl. hq for several days using him for off jobs until the 3d Bn began to holler for an S-4. This looked like a good spot for Tom so we sent him to Phil Fry. It wasnt long before Phil was telling us all what a "go-getter" was and how lucky the 3d Bn was to have him.
After the 2d Bn relieved the 3d Bn on the night of Jan 12-13, the Japs pushed a salient into their line in the left company sector. This was the old Co I position and was a perfect set up for something like that. The cane field afforded an ideal covered approach and it was in this sector that the little stream with the dignified name of Dalabutan River crossed the road which ran along our MLR. This crossing afforded the enemy his opportunity to send small groups of men through our lines - an opportunity of which he took fullest advantage.
On Jan 12 the 22d Inf (PA) Col. Graham H. McCafferty, Senior Instructor - was placed under Col. Clarkes command and at 7:00 am the following day, after a short preparation by the 1st Bn 24th FA (PS) they moved forward and restored the MLR. There was no Nipponese resistance at the position which was found unoccupied, but they suffered about 50 casualties during the first hour mostly from mortar and machine gun fire.
Col McCafferty had the following American officers with him. Major Alex Coplan (Id known him when, as Capt Alex Koplan, he commanded Co B, 57th Inf (PA) before the war), Capts. Wiggins, Foster and Stonecipher (none of whom I knew), 1st Lt P. Porter, and 2nd Lt Brown. All these were good men.
Our artillery fire brought forth a sharp reply from the Japanese artillery lasting about an hour and a half. It wasnt pleasant as most of it (or I should say, a great deal of it, was coming down in a long narrow field, just south of our C.P. It was right then that our decision was made to move the C.P. We were all pretty tired. I was in my dugout, about 25 yards from the one occupied by Col Clarke and Johnnie Johnson. Johnnie Olson, our S-1, and "Bish" (Captain Hueston R.) Wynkoop, who for several days had been on liaison duty at our C.P. from II Philippine Corps, were with me and got quite a laugh when I dozed off for about a 30 minute nap during the shelling.
When the shelling had subsided, I went with Charlie (Captain Charles M.) Dempwolf, C.O. Co A 14th Engr Bn (PA) at Col Clarkes direction to look for another location for our C.P. We went back along one of the engineer roads for about 1 ½ km and every place that looked good to me was either occupied by or too near to some Philippine Army unit. Finally, we came to the position of a 155 mm battery located in the grounds of a small hacienda. I had about given up my search as a bad job when the enemy artillery began to shell this position. Charlie and I decided then and there that we ought to have that locality when we found ourselves in back of a big red bus which had stalled on the narrow road where it led out a gate in the fence surrounding the hacienda grounds. Charlie who was driving got out of his car, looked at the big red bus, and exclaimed "Oh Fiddle dee dee" I had expected an outburst of rugged profanity and was surprised to find myself laughing at his mild exclamation. I went up to the bus which was heading up a gentle rise, got in behind the wheel and let off the hand brake which had been firmly set. The bus began to roll backward so I headed it for the ditch. When it finally ceased rolling, there was just room on its right for one car to squeeze by. Needless to say, Charlie was on the job and soon we were headed back to Abucay after a pretty close call. And Ill never hear "Fiddle dee dee" again with out thinking of Charlie Dempwolf.
I made my report when I returned and we decided to move our C.P. into the Abucay Church about 600 yds east of the present C.A. location and on the East Road (Hy 7).
We received another officer replacement for the 3d Bn on this date, which I had almost forgotten was my fathers birthday. He was 1st Lt Otis E. Saalman and had been on duty with the II Philippine Corps M.P. detachment under Major Montgomery McKee. We assigned him to Co M.
1st Lt George Hennessy, Co F, a former air corps enlisted man
the Air Corps at Nichols Field before the war, and who had joined us
soon after we arrived at Abucay, was sent out in charge of a patrol whose
mission was to report on the dispositions of our troops on the left of the line
(the artillery having temporarily interfered with our telephone lines). He
accomplished his mission and his second in command returned with the desired
information, but George got out ahead of our line and was hit by a snipers
bullet (the bullet severing his urethra). He lay where he fell for some time.
According to his story, he fainted from loss of blood and as he was coming to,
he was discovered and thoroughly stripped of all personal possession by a Jap
patrol. During this time George was playing possum a little later and before
he could be brought in, he said the ants got into his wound and gave him a
pretty bad time. He was taken to the hospital and never did duty with the
regiment again. The last time I saw him in Hosp No 2 about the last of
March 42 he was in pretty bad shape. He, incidentally, had been
engaged to be married to the daughter of Brig Gen Luther R. Stevens.
Our Regtl Aid Station, an collecting station operated by Co C 12th Bn under Major Raulston was already in the Abucay Church so all we had to move was our switch board and command post personnel with records and there we were. The tower, or steeple, of the church was a very sturdy brick structure terminating on the ground floor in a circular room about 12 or 15 ft in diameter. The walls were 6 or 7 ft thick so we werent too worried about the effect of a direct hit.
On this same date, the 1st and 2d Bns, 21st Inf (PA) were also placed under Col. Clarkes command. This outfit took over the Regimental Reserve line and from the time being our 3d Bn was relieved of all responsibility as a reserve battalion. In the 1st Bn 21st Inf (PA) were two (2) former members of the 57th Inf (PS) - Capts. Jim (Edward L) Horton, Jr, and Al Peyton. In their 2d Bn were Captains Bob Pennell and Grover C. Richards, also formerly of the 57th Inf (PS). Jim Horton, Al Peyton and I had come over on the Feb 41 "GRANT" and I knew the other two equally well. Grover Richards had coached the 57th Inf (PS) baseball team before the war.
Right here I should like to say a word of praise for the 1st Bn 24th Field Artillery (PS). Whenever we needed fire from them we got it even under the most trying conditions for them. It should be remembered that we had no "air". Whenever the artillery fired a round it was only a few minutes before the observation plane ("Photo Joe" as we called him) was overhead. Then the Nip counterbattery work began so the artillery was taking a chance every time it opened fire. But this was a campaign of chance taking by all of us. LtCol. Charles B. Leinbach, commanded the outfit. Major Harry B. Packard was Bn Ex and the batteries were commanded as follows: A Capt. Daniel Barry, B Capt. Henry Doughty, and C (2-955) Capt. Miller.
Late in the afternoon of the 13th Col. Clarke got a phone call. I could tell by the tone of his voice that he was talking with some very high ranking officers. After he had hung up, he called me out into the main part of the church and told me he had been talking to Gen. Parker (Major Gen George M. Jr.) commanding II Philippine Corps that Gen Parker had told him he (Col C.) was being summoned to Corregidor on the following day for a conference in connection with an offensive action in which the Philippine Division was to take part. He also told me that he had been promised that a few P-40s would make their appearance over our lines the next day. I was instructed to treat this information as confidential. Col. Clarke told me he would return in two or three days.
Next day Col. Arnold J. Funk came up from Corregidor and relieved Col. Clarke as C.O. 57th Inf (PS). Most of us knew him already and were mighty glad to see him. He had been in the C.P. only a very few minutes when the tension relaxed. Johnnie Johnson whose nerves were literally near the breaking point caught my eye, gave me a wink and the "thumbs up" signal. I knew then that every thing was all to the good, as far as he was concerned and breathed a sigh of relief. Immediately, the staff began to get around and the troops soon found out that the regimental commander and his staff were flesh and blood people not just voices on the other end of the telephone. The morale throughout the regiment went up by leaps and bounds. Col. Funk was with us just one week. After about three days passed during which we saw no P-40s and heard nothing about any proposed offensive action on the part of the Philippine Division, I decided to tell Arnold Funk just what Col. Clarke had said to me. After all, Arnold had come to us from Corregidor where he was on USAFFE staff and might know something about it himself. Well, I did tell him. Arnold smiled and said he had been almost at General Parkers elbow during the telephone conversation and that no word had been uttered about offensive action on the part of the Philippine Division.
On January 21, 42 Phil Fry assumed command of the 57th Inf (PS) this was undoubtedly done on Col Funks recommendation. Col. Funk reported to Hq II Corps where he became C. of S. for a short time until the organization of Luzon Force.
On or about Jan 15 we had two very welcome additions to the regiment and suffered one serious loss. LtCol. Hal C. Granberry reported for duty from Source Command where he had been Signal Officer He was USMA 23 I think. The other addition was Capt. William J. Priestley, who came at his own request from duty as aide d camp to the high commissioner to the P.I., Mr. Frances Sayres. The serious loss I refer to was our S-4 Major George F. Fisher. When supper was brought up about dusk, "Sut" Fendalls face told me at once that something was wrong. There were tears in his eyes and mine too Im afraid as he told me how George had met his death that afternoon. Several of them, Sut, Shorty Langdon and Jack Newman were taking showers when a flight of bombers came over. All but George took to their fox holes without delay but George either ignored the bombers or wasnt fast enough. When they got to him there was hardly enough of him left to bury. Mercifully the end had been quick and painless.
Hal Granberry was assigned to duty as S-4 at once.
Bill Priestley was assigned to the 1t Bn as Executive Officer. Roy Reynolds had never had a Bn Exec and needed one badly. Though, due to the nature of the terrain it occupied, the 1st Bn had never been heavily engaged his location had exposed his left flank to constant harassing activities of the Japs and the situation must have been trying on Roys nerves (though he never showed it) We were mighty glad to be able to give him a second in command who had no other duties than to help him with his battalion.
One other valuable addition to the regiment was made on this date (Jan 15). A young American enlisted man named William O. Berry had attached himself to Co K. and almost before we realized, he was with us. Charlie Haas was beginning to rely on him as he was short of officers. It was not difficult to secure authority to keep Berry and he was subsequently commissioned 2d Lieutenant, remaining with Co K throughout the Philippine Campaign and proving himself to be a very fine young officer.
Tom Chilcote was assigned to the 3d Bn, as S-4, and it wasnt long before Phil Fry was telling us what an asset Tom was to the battalion.
On Jan 16, Lt McCurdy, the young dental officer who had joined us at Porac and been assigned as asst. surgeon 2d Bn was killed by an aerial bomb just outside the church at Abucay. Hed only been with us a little over three weeks so we hadnt gotten to know him too well.
On Jan 20, Tom Chilcote was relieved of his duties with the 3d Bn and assigned to command Co G.
NOTE: (Pages 48-77 left blank)
Officers 57th Infantry (PS)
|Killed in Action (9)||Wounded in Action (9)|
|Maynard (Abucay)||Gerth (Abucay)|
|Wilson (Abucay)||Hennessey (Abucay)|
|Ninninger (Abucay)||Wermuth -(twice) (3) (Abucay 1st )2d (Anyasan Pt. 2d)|
|Cheany (Quinanan Pt.)||Ramsey (Salaiim Pt)|
|Fisher (Balanga)||Kuncl (Alangan)|
|Meier (Abucay)||Childers (Jct Trails 6 & *)|
|Wood (San Vicente R. )||Spainhower (Salaciim Pt.)|
|McCurdy (Abucay)||Brokow, J. C. (Longoskowayan)|
|Green, Arthur W. (Abucay)||Haas (Salaiim Pt)|
Killed - not in action
(1) Crowell (Hq HPD)
|Died since April 9, 1942 (5)||Missing in Action (4) (5)|
|Berry (Cabanatuan)||Green (Abucay)|
|Grimes, R.K. (Cabanatuan)||Compton (Abucay)|
|Fleetwood (OPDonnell)||Brokow, F.E. (Alanjan)|
|Fortnew (ODonnell)||Reynolds (Alanjan)|
|Haas (Cabanatuna)||Dosh (Alanjan)|
57th Inf LossesAbucay = 140
Longoskawayan PI = 35
(2nd Bn Only)
Quinanan PI = 40
(Co B Only)
Anyosan & Salaiim = 160
Total [Killed, missing in action-and wounded who had not rejoined by March 15 '42] = 375
US Casualties for entire War = 1,070, 138
Return to Index of Col. Lilly Papers