Securing the Manila Bay Area

Chapter XII
Manila: The Approach March

By the last week of January, Sixth Army had completed the first phase of the Luzon Campaign. I Corps controlled the Routes 3-11 junction and positions from which to attack toward San Jose; XIV Corps was pushing the Kembu Group back from Clark Field. (See Map III.) The army had secured its base area, carefully provided against the threat of counterattack from the north and east, and projected strength into position to protect XIV Corps' rear and lines of communication. General Krueger thus felt free to devote more attention to the capture of the Manila-Manila Bay area, the most important single strategic objective of the campaign. On 26 January he had tackled the very practical problem of actually getting troops into the city of Manila. On that date he had directed XIV Corps to send forces south as far as the Pampanga River, twenty-five miles below Clark Field and about an equal distance north of Manila.1

XIV Corps' Drive South

Moving Out

XIV Corps' objective along the Pampanga River was the Route 3 and Manila Railroad crossing at Calumpit, a flat land defile through which passed the only highway and rail connections providing direct access to Manila from the western side of the Central Plains. To the northeast of Calumpit lies the formidable Candaba Swamp, passable only to light vehicles even in dry weather; to the south and west are virtually impassable swamplands, fish ponds, and marshy river deltas forming the northern shore of Manila Bay. Although the Japanese had destroyed the bridges at Calumpit,2 XIV Corps had to secure the crossing sites before the Japanese took advantage of the natural defense opportunities afforded by the deep, unfordable Pampanga to block the western approach to Manila. XIV Corps intelligence on 26 January estimated that the Japanese had few if any defenses along Route 3 at least as far south as Calumpit. If this were so, the corps might be able to secure the defile before the Japanese


could change their minds about its defense.

On 27 January the 37th Reconnaissance Troop and the 148th Infantry, 37th Division, started south from Clark Field toward Calumpit, their first objective the Route 3 and railroad bridges over the San Fernando River at San Fernando, thirteen miles below Clark Field at the junction of Route 3 with Route 7 to Bataan. With Filipino guerrillas' aid, the 37th Division's units secured both bridges intact on 28 January.3 By afternoon on the 30th, after a minor skirmish or two with small groups of Japanese along Route 3 south from San Fernando, 37th Division patrols were within a mile of Calumpit and the Pampanga River.4

When on the afternoon of 30 January General MacArthur made a personal reconnaissance south along Route 3 from San Fernando, the pace of the advance impressed him as being much too leisurely, and upon his return northward he informed General Krueger that the 37th Division units moving on Calumpit had demonstrated "a noticeable lack of drive and aggressive initiative. . . ."5 There was no question that the advance south from San Fernando was slow, deliberate, and cautious, but this was by design on the part of Generals Griswold and Beightler. With only the 148th Infantry and the 37th Reconnaissance Troop available for the advance south from Clark Field, the corps and division commanders were unwilling to go too far too fast, for they had little information on Japanese deployment south of the Pampanga. Moreover, they knew that the Calumpit bridges were out and that no new crossing could be constructed on the 30th. Griswold, accordingly, had directed Beightler not to push his infantry far south of the Pampanga until supporting tanks and artillery could also cross.6

Be that as it may, the impact of MacArthur's impressions went to XIV Corps, whence Griswold passed it on to Beightler, and so on down to the 148th Infantry, which immediately began preparations to move across the Pampanga.7 MacArthur's reactions also undoubtedly had considerable influence in prompting Krueger, late on the 30th, to direct XIV Corps to speed its drive toward Manila, orders issued simultaneously with those directing I Corps to seize San Jose.8 After securing crossings over the Pampanga, Krueger's orders read, XIV Corps would hurry its right southeast another six miles from Calumpit to Malolos. On the left the 1st Cavalry Division, now attached to XIV Corps and assembling west of Cabanatuan, would start south along Route 5 in concert with the 37th Division's renewed drive down Route 3.9 Krueger expected the two divisions to establish contact at Plaridel, where,

Map V
The Approach to Manila
1-4 February 1945


THE BRIDGES AT CALUMPIT. (Prewar photograph)

seven miles east of Calumpit, Route 5 crossed the Angat River. (Map V)

Krueger's new orders limited the XIV Corps advance to the Malolos-Plaridel line. Although he anticipated that the I Corps attack against San Jose would be well along by 1 February--the day the 1st Cavalry Division was to start south from Cabanatuan--Krueger was as yet unwilling to discount the possibility of Japanese counterattack from the San Jose area. He also had reason to believe that elements of the 2d Tank Division had not yet moved north through Cabanatuan and might be in position to fall upon the flank of the 1st Cavalry Division. Moreover, as the 1st Cavalry Division approached Plaridel, its left would become exposed to counterattack from elements of the Shimbu Group, a danger that Krueger believed would increase as the cavalry division moved south beyond Plaridel. In brief, Krueger was unwilling to launch an all-out drive to Manila until he had more information on the nature and extent of the potential threats to the XIV Corps left.10 That no threats actually existed made no difference--Krueger was basing his plans upon his estimates of Japanese capabilities.

On 31 January, as the 148th Infantry crossed the Pampanga, Beightler relieved the 145th Infantry at Clark Field and started it south along Route 3. Without waiting for the 145th to catch up, the 148th sped rapidly down Route 3



through an area becoming more and more densely populated. The regiment secured Malolos against minor opposition on 1 February and on the next day sent patrols south another eleven miles to Marilao, found void of Japanese. On the same day one battalion worked east from Calumpit toward Plaridel along the south bank of the Quingua and Angat Rivers. At Plaridel one of Shimbu Group's many provisional infantry battalions, about 500 men strong, in a short but bitter stand held up the 148th's battalion until noon. Then the American unit marched on through Plaridel and about 1700 established contact with elements of the 1st Cavalry Division near destroyed bridges that had once taken Route 5 and the Manila Railroad across the unfordable Angat.11

The 1st Cavalry Division's drive toward Manila had begun just after 1900 on 31 January, when a small force from the division started toward Cabanatuan from the assembly area west of that town. In the lead were elements of the 1st Cavalry Brigade.

The World War II brigade structure


of Maj. Gen. Verne D. Mudge's dismounted 1st Cavalry Division differed greatly from that of the triangular infantry division of the period.12 Instead of three infantry regiments the 1st Cavalry Division had four cavalry regiments--the 5th and 12th in the 1st Cavalry Brigade, the 7th and 8th in the 2d Cavalry Brigade. Each regiment had two cavalry squadrons, each smaller than an infantry battalion, as opposed to the three battalions of an infantry regiment. Each cavalry regiment contained a weapons troop armed with 81-mm. mortars, .30-caliber and .50-caliber machine guns, and bazookas, but there was no heavy weapons troop within each squadron. The cavalry regiments lacked the antitank and cannon companies of an infantry regiment. 1st Cavalry Division Artillery was composed of one 75-mm. howitzer battalion, three 105-mm. howitzer battalions, and, for obvious reasons, an attached 155-mm. howitzer battalion. Reinforcing combat and service attachments brought the division's strength up to nearly 15,000 men, somewhat less than the strength of the reinforced 37th Division at the same time. On paper, each of the four cavalry regiments numbered 1,750 men--in contrast to the 3,000-odd of an infantry regiment--but none of the 1st Cavalry Division's regiments was up to strength. The division had received few replacements since entering combat on Leyte in October, and it had come to Luzon after very little rest from its arduous campaign through Leyte's mountains.

For the drive to Manila, General Mudge organized two reinforced motorized squadrons that soon became known as Flying Columns. Each included a cavalry squadron, a medium tank company, a 105-mm. howitzer battery, other supporting elements, and sufficient vehicles to lift all troops. Mudge placed the two Flying Columns under Brig. Gen. William C. Chase, commander of the 1st Cavalry Brigade. Chase's groupment also included the Provisional Reconnaissance Squadron, which contained the division's own 302d Reconnaissance Troop and the headquarters and light tank companies of the attached 44th Tank Battalion.13

On the morning of 1 February the 2d Squadron, 5th Cavalry, nucleus of one of the Flying Columns, forded the broad Pampanga north of Cabanatuan and by 1300 had established firm contact with a force of some 250 Japanese infantrymen supported by two or three 75-mm. artillery pieces.14 The Japanese group held up the 2d Squadron, 5th Cavalry, until the 1st Squadron, 8th Cavalry (not part of a Flying Column), forded the Pampanga south of Cabanatuan and fought its way into town against the Japanese rear. (See Map V.) By dusk the two units had cleared most of Cabanatuan, and other elements of the 5th Cavalry finished mopping up the next


day. On 3 February the 12th Cavalry, responsible for protecting the division's long line of communications down Route 5, took over in the Cabanatuan region as all troops of the 5th and 8th Cavalry Regiments moved south behind the Flying Columns.

About the same time that 2d Squadron, 5th Cavalry, started into Cabanatuan from the north, the Provisional Reconnaissance Squadron forded the Pampanga about five miles south of town and by 1330 on 1 February was at Gapan, where, thirteen miles below Cabanatuan, Route 5 crosses the Peñaranda River. So far, the provisional unit had encountered no opposition as it sped south across hot, baked farm land, but Japanese rifle fire from the south bank of the Peñaranda killed Lt. Col. Tom H. Ross, commander of the Provisional Reconnaissance Squadron and the 44th Tank Battalion, as he led a patrol onto the Route 5 bridge at Gapan. Capt. Don H. Walton, commanding the 302d Reconnaissance Troop, immediately assumed control of the men at the Gapan bridge and, leading a dash across the span, probably forestalled its destruction. Walton's force, together with Troop G, 8th Cavalry, which arrived from the vicinity of Cabanatuan before dark, set up defensive perimeters to hold the Gapan bridge for the Flying Columns.

The main body of the leading Flying Column, built around the 2d Squadron, 8th Cavalry, passed through Gapan during the night of 1-2 February and by 0900 on the 2d was moving into Sabang, on the Angat River thirty-five miles south of Gapan and seven miles northeast of Plaridel.15 The column, after establishing contact with the 37th Division, made no attempt to cross the Angat at Plaridel--the bridges were down and the area south of the Angat in the Plaridel region was in the 37th Division's zone. Accordingly, the Flying Column forded the Angat about five miles north of Plaridel in the vicinity of Baliuag, where, three years earlier, elements of MacArthur's withdrawing forces had delayed Japanese forces attempting to reach the Calumpit bridges along the Angat River bank roads through Plaridel.16 The Flying Column's somewhat ticklish fording job--the river was wide, although not too deep at Baliuag--was accomplished as crowds of Filipinos cheered the cavalrymen on. To neither the 37th nor 1st Cavalry Divisions had the Japanese offered serious resistance along the natural defense line of the unbridged Angat.

While the 2d Squadron, 8th Cavalry, was busy near Baliuag, the other Flying Column had reached Sabang and, fording the Angat there, struck east through gently rising farm land along Route 65 toward Norzagaray, thirteen miles distant. The aim of this maneuver was to ascertain if Shimbu Group units believed to be holding high ground east and southeast of Norzagaray had any intentions of sallying forth to fall on the


left flank of the 1st Cavalry Division. If the Flying Column met strong opposition, or if the Japanese attacked it, the 1st Cavalry Division might have to halt its advance toward Manila until it could bring up additional strength. If no serious threat developed, the 5th Cavalry's group would swing back southeast from Norzagaray and follow the 8th Cavalry's Flying Column across the Santa Maria River at Santa Maria, ten miles southeast of Baliuag. At dusk on 2 February patrols of the 8th Cavalry were approaching Santa Maria, having followed circuitous, third-class roads from Baliuag in order to keep out of the 37th Division's zone.

The Dash Into Manila

By evening of 2 February, XIV Corps had progressed well beyond the Malolos-Plaridel line that General Krueger, on 30 January, had named as the corps objective. The 1st Cavalry Division, on the left, had found no more signs of significant resistance than had the 37th Infantry Division on the right, and the corps had found no indications that Shimbu Group intended to mount a counterattack. Opposition had been tactically unimportant, and for the most part the few organized groups of Japanese XIV Corps had found had appeared surprised and unprepared.

This favorable situation along the XIV Corps front and left, together with the progress made by I Corps through 2 February and the success of XI Corps and 11th Airborne Division landings on Luzon's west coast on 29 and 31 January, respectively, prompted Krueger, late on the 2d, to direct Griswold to drive on to Manila with all possible speed. In addition to securing the capital city, XIV Corps was to advance beyond the city to a line extending from the Cavite naval base area, on Manila Bay south of the city, northeast some twenty-five miles and then north another ten miles. This line was drawn so as to include almost the entire Manila metropolitan region within XIV Corps' zone of responsibility.17

On the basis of Krueger's new orders, Griswold established an intermediate corps objective line along the north bank of the Pasig River, which flows east to west through the center of Manila. At this time the XIV Corps commander expected the 37th Division to reach the city first and make the main effort to clear it. He so drew the boundary between the 37th Infantry and the 1st Cavalry Divisions that all Manila proper, as well as its most direct approaches from the north, lay well within the 37th's zone. The cavalry division would have to move on the city via secondary roads coming in from the northeast and, theoretically at least, would be barred from entering Manila even should its Flying Columns reach the city first.18


On 3 February the 37th Division's van unit, the 2d Battalion of the 148th Infantry, was delayed at a number of unbridged, unfordable, tidal streams, and also had to deploy three or four times to disperse small groups of Japanese. At 1930 on 3 February the main body of the battalion was less than two miles south of Marilao, which its patrols had reached the previous day.19 In a race for Manila, the 148th was at a decided disadvantage. With most of the bridges over unfordable streams along Route 3 down or severely damaged, the regiment had to ferry its supporting artillery and tanks across streams or wait until engineers could construct bridges across the rivers.20 Either course involved considerably more delay than that encountered by the 1st Cavalry Division, which had been able to seize intact some important bridges and had found relatively easy fords over unbridged streams.

Well aware that the 37th Division was moving on Manila, the 1st Cavalry Division's Flying Columns, determined to beat the infantry into the city "wasted" little time sleeping during the night of 2-3 February.21 A small Japanese defense force held up the 5th Cavalry's Flying Column along the Sabang-Norzagaray road before midnight on 2 February, but the column was under way again at 0430 on the 3d when, as the moon rose, vehicle drivers could at least locate the shoulders of the gravel road. By dawn the Flying Column had found Norzagaray in the hands of Filipino guerrillas, and had then swung back southwest toward Santa Maria, almost ten miles away. Slowed as it forded bridgeless streams, the 5th Cavalry's motorized column was not across the Santa Maria River until 1500. Once across that stream, the column raced east along rough, gravel-paved Route 64 and quickly reached the Routes 64-52 junction, eight miles from Santa Maria.22 Then the motorized squadron turned south along Route 52 and, moving at speeds up to fifty miles an hour,23 endeavored to catch up with the 8th Cavalry's Flying Column, an hour ahead and through Talipapa, ten miles south of the Routes 64-52 junction.

At a minor road junction on flat, open ground near Talipapa, four Japanese trucks loaded with troops and supplies nosed out into Route 52 from the east just as the 2d Squadron, 5th Cavalry, arrived from the north. Troops aboard the cavalry's leading vehicles waved the Japanese to a halt and, momentarily stupefied, the Japanese drivers complied. As each of the 5th Cavalry's vehicles



came within range of the Japanese group, the cavalrymen fired with all the weapons they could bring to bear, and continued shooting until they had passed on southward out of range. Within seconds the Flying Column's men had set afire four Japanese trucks and had killed at least 25 Japanese. The remaining Japanese, recovering their wits sufficiently to flee, scattered in all directions. Five miles from the nearest water that would float even a PT, the 5th Cavalry had executed the classic naval maneuver of crossing the T.

A few moments later, the 5th Cavalry's force caught up with General Chase's command group. The 5th was now less than half an hour behind the 8th Cavalry's Flying Column.

Delayed at fords and slowed as it deployed to disperse a few small groups of Japanese, the 8th Cavalry's groupment had not crossed the Santa Maria River until noon on the 3d. East of the river, two Japanese outposts, attempting to block Route 64, again slowed the column. The column then broke through light opposition at the Routes 64-52


junction and started into Novaliches, seven miles to the south, about 1630. Just south of Novaliches the Japanese had prepared demolitions to blow a stone-arch bridge over the Tuliahan River, and they defended the bridge by fire from the south bank. Despite this fire, Lt. (jg) James P. Sutton (USNR), from a Seventh Fleet bomb disposal unit attached to the 1st Cavalry Division, dashed onto the bridge to cut a burning fuze leading to a large charge of dynamite. Sutton then proceeded to heave some mines over the side of the bridge into the gorge through which ran the Tuliahan.24

Without Lieutenant Sutton's quick action, the 1st Cavalry Division's Flying Columns would have been delayed at least twenty-four hours until engineers could have brought forward heavy equipment to build a ford across the steep-banked, deep Tuliahan gorge. As it was, the 8th Cavalry's motorized force pushed on against very light opposition and secured Talipapa about 1800. Half an hour later the Flying Column reached Grace Park, a suburban development about a mile north of the Manila city limits.

Now twelve hours ahead of the nearest 37th Division units, the 8th Cavalry's group had reached the western limits of the 1st Cavalry Division's zone. Griswold had known since noon that the cavalrymen were going to arrive at Manila before the infantry, and he gave the 1st Cavalry Division permission to enter the city. Later in the day, anticipating that if he did not take some further action the two divisions might inadvertently start shooting at each other, the corps commander moved the division boundary westward. The 37th Division got a narrow, thickly populated, partially industrialized strip along the bay front; the rest of Manila went to the 1st Cavalry Division.25

The 8th Cavalry's Flying Column met scattered resistance in the Grace Park area, but with tanks in the van firing on all positions suspected of harboring Japanese, the column continued forward and crossed the city limits about 1900.26 General Chase, in contact by radio, directed the Flying Column to speed on into Manila. Guided by guerrillas, the force followed city streets and swept past hidden Japanese riflemen who sniped away at the column and, about 1930, drew up at the gates of Santo Tomas University. Within the walls and held under close guard by the Japanese Army,


were almost 4,000 American and Allied civilian internees who were running dangerously low on food and medical supplies.

The Approach From the South

By evening on 3 February the Japanese defenders of Manila--and as yet the Sixth Army had little information concerning the nature of the city's defenses--were about to be squeezed between the two arms of a pincers. As the 37th Infantry and 1st Cavalry Divisions of Sixth Army were closing in from the north, the 11th Airborne Division of General Eichelberger's Eighth Army was approaching the capital from the south.

The Planning Background

Plans for the employment of the 11th Airborne Division on Luzon had undergone many changes. At one time the division, commanded by Maj. Gen. Joseph M. Swing, had been prepared to drop in the Central Plains in front of Sixth Army forces driving south from Lingayen Gulf. GHQ SWPA had abandoned this plan when, as the Lingayen target date approached, the Allied Air Forces reported it would have neither sufficient airfields nor transport planes to lift the entire division at the time its employment would be most meaningful.27 Next, MacArthur's headquarters made plans to use the division in a series of minor, diversionary operations along the southern and southwestern coasts of Luzon, ultimately narrowing the series to two RCT-sized landings on the south coast. But the employment of highly specialized troops for minor operations seemed wasteful and would tend to create almost insoluble problems of supply, command, and administration. Even two landings, one at Nasugbu on the southwest coast 45 miles from Manila and the other at Tayabas Bay, 75 miles east of Nasugbu, produced one major problem. To achieve desired results and to assure that the Japanese would not destroy the two RCT's in sequence, the landings would have to take place simultaneously.28 The Allied Naval Forces, however, could not provide sufficient escorts and fire support vessels for two simultaneous landings. If, on the other hand, the 11th Airborne Division made a single assault at Nasugbu, the Allied Naval Forces could make both fire support ships and escorts available. The Navy could solve the support problems even more easily if the airborne units landed at Nasugbu shortly after XI Corps went ashore on Luzon's west coast north of Bataan, for


many of the same support vessels could participate in both operations.29

A single landing at Nasugbu promised to produce other desirable results. For one, it would tend to pin Japanese forces in southern Luzon, preventing them from redeploying northward to oppose Sixth Army's drive to Manila. For another, from presumably good beaches at Nasugbu the 11th Airborne Division could drive toward Manila, fifty-five miles distant, along an excellent road. Upon reaching the shores of Laguna de Bay, a large fresh-water lake lying southeast of Manila and separated from Manila Bay by the narrow Hagonoy Isthmus, the division could cut the main southern routes of reinforcement and withdrawal to and from the capital. Again, the Nasugbu beaches might prove an excellent place to land the 41st Infantry Division, a GHQ Reserve unit that was scheduled to move to Luzon to reinforce Sixth Army. Finally, the 11th Airborne Division could easily secure the Nasugbu beachhead against Japanese counterattack, since all the approaches to it ran through narrow passes in rugged hill country. No other landing points in southern Luzon combined the obvious advantages of Nasugbu Bay.

On 20 January, having weighed all the pros and cons, General Eichelberger recommended to General MacArthur that the 11th Airborne Division make a single landing at Nasugbu Bay. The Eighth Army's commander intended to send the division's two glider-infantry RCT's ashore in an amphibious assault and then push them inland about twenty miles along Route 17 to Tagaytay Ridge where the highway, having come east across steadily rising ground, turns sharply north and runs gradually down hill to Manila Bay. Two or three days after the landing at Nasugbu, the 11th Airborne Division's 511th Parachute Infantry would drop on Tagaytay Ridge to secure it for the foot troops and to seize nearby stretches of Route 17 before the Japanese could assemble to defend the highway. Once the entire division had assembled along Tagaytay Ridge, it would make ready to drive northward to Manila.30

While approving Eichelberger's plans for a single assault at Nasugbu, MacArthur's concept of the 11th Airborne Division's employment was by no means as ambitious, at least initially, as Eighth Army's. Instead, MacArthur directed Eichelberger to land one RCT at Nasugbu Bay in a reconnaissance-in-force to ascertain Japanese strength, deployment, and intentions in the Nasugbu-Tagaytay region. If it appeared that the Japanese had relatively weak forces at Tagaytay Ridge, then Eichelberger could assemble the entire division there and reconnoiter to the north and east to determine Japanese dispositions and to contain Japanese forces throughout southwestern Luzon--rather a far cry from mounting a drive


to Manila. MacArthur set the date for the Nasugbu assault for 31 January, two days after XI Corps was to land north of Bataan.31

The organization and missions of the forces involved in the small-scale Nasugbu landing were similar to those of previous amphibious operations undertaken within the Southwest Pacific Area. Task Group 78.2, under Rear Adm. William M. Fechteler, loaded and landed the assault troops. The task group numbered about 120 ships and landing craft of all types, its largest vessels being APD's and LST's. Fire support was provided by Task Unit 77.3.1, which consisted of a light cruiser and two destroyers. Planes of the 310th Bombardment Wing, based on Mindoro, provided air support.32

The 11th Airborne Division, which had been seasoned during the Leyte Campaign, numbered approximately 8,200 men. Its two glider-infantry regiments, the 187th and 188th, had about 1,500 men apiece (half the strength of a standard infantry regiment) and each contained two battalions of three rifle companies each. The regiments had no heavy weapons, cannon, or antitank companies. The 511th Parachute Infantry totaled about 2,000 men distributed among three battalions, each of which contained only three rifle companies. Artillery consisted of two 75-mm. pack howitzer battalions, a 105-mm. howitzer battalion armed with a short barrel howitzer that lacked the range of the 105's of a standard infantry division, and an airborne antiaircraft artillery battalion armed with 40-mm. and .50-caliber guns. Reinforcements included the Cannon Company of the 24th Division's 21st Infantry; Company C of the 532d Engineer Boat and Shore Regiment, the 2d Engineer Special Brigade; two antiaircraft automatic weapons batteries; and various service units. A Mindoro-based battalion of the 24th Division's 19th Infantry was available on call.33

The 11th Airborne Division expected to meet 7,000 Japanese in the Nasugbu-Tagaytay area, the bulk of them from the 17th and 31st Infantry Regiments, 8th Division. The airborne unit believed that about 500 Japanese defended the shores of Nasugbu Bay and that the main Japanese force, some 5,000 strong, held Route 17 at Tagaytay Ridge and a defile a few miles west of the ridge where the highway passed between the peaks of two extinct volcanoes.34

The estimates were correct in general but wrong in detail. Shimbu Group, responsible for the conduct of operations in southern Luzon, had entrusted the defense of the region south of Manila to the Fuji Force, a composite unit under Col. Masatoshi Fujishige, who also commanded the 8th Division's 17th Infantry.35


Numbering some 8,500 men, the Fuji Force was composed of the 17th Infantry, less 3d Battalion; the 3d Battalion, 31st Infantry; a battalion of mixed artillery; and combat engineers and service troops of the 8th Division. Co-operating with Colonel Fujishige (and soon to pass to his direct command) were about 5,000 troops of the 2d Surface Raiding Base Force, a Japanese Army organization made up of suicide boat units, called Surface Raiding Squadrons, and their base support units, designated Surface Raiding Base Battalions.36 The Raiding Squadrons, on paper, each contained 100 suicide boats and a like number of men; each Base Battalion numbered about 900 troops, most of them service personnel. Five or six of the Raiding Squadrons, which had lost most of their boats to Allied air and naval action before or shortly after the 11th Airborne Division's landing, ultimately became available to Colonel Fujishige, as did an equal number of the Base Battalions. Normally, the squadrons were amalgamated with their support battalions to form a single entity for ground combat operations.

With a large area and an extensive coast line to hold, Fujishige originally deployed the bulk of his troops for defense against an Allied attack from the south rather than the west. In the area of immediate interest to the 11th Airborne Division he stationed his West Sector Unit, an organization of 2,250 troops built on a nucleus of the 3d Battalion, 31st Infantry. The West Sector Unit's largest concentration--600 infantry with artillery support--held the defile just west of Tagaytay Ridge, while another 400 infantrymen defended a southwestern nose of the ridge. The West Sector Unit had only 100 troops at or near Nasugbu; the remaining men were scattered in small garrisons throughout southwestern Luzon.

The Seizure of Tagaytay Ridge

The 11th Airborne Division, less the 511th Parachute Infantry, staged on the shores of Leyte Gulf, whence the Task Group 78.2 convoy departed for Nasugbu Bay during the afternoon of 27 January.37 The voyage to the objective area was uneventful. After destroyers conducted a short preliminary bombardment, assault troops of the 1st Battalion, 188th Glider Infantry, aboard LCP(R)'s (Landing Craft, Personnel, Ramp), launched from APD's, beached about 0815. While some troops moved off to secure the flanks of the beachhead, the main body of the 188th Infantry drove inland through the town of Nasugbu and started southeastward along gravel roads toward the Palico River and the entrance to the section of Route 17 that led to Tagaytay Ridge. The Japanese


had opposed the landing lightly and ineffectively with rifle, machine gun, and mortar fire from positions on hills north and south of the beach.38

By 1115 General Eichelberger was satisfied that the initial landing, conducted as a reconnaissance-in-force, had been successful beyond expectation. He thereupon directed the rest of the 11th Airborne Division--still less the parachute regiment--to land.39 All combat troops of the first day's convoy were ashore by 1230, by which time artillery had started inland and the 187th Infantry, sending its 2d Battalion toward the Palico River, had relieved rear elements of the 188th.

The 188th Infantry's first important objective was a Palico River bridge carrying the shortest and best route to Tagaytay Ridge over a gorge 250 feet wide and 85 feet deep. Lying five miles inland, the Palico bridge could hold the 11th Airborne Division's heaviest loads. If the division could not seize the bridge intact, it would have to ford a river south of Nasugbu and work its way along poor roads to Route 17 east of the Palico crossing, a time-consuming process that would require considerable engineer effort and slow supply movements.

But the action went well with the 188th Infantry on 31 January.40 The 1st Battalion ran down an open hill west of the bridge, dashed across the span, and surprised a small group of Japanese on the east bank. Apparently stunned by the sudden, unexpected appearance of American forces, the Japanese failed to explode prepared demolitions. By 1500 the entire 188th Infantry and the attached 2d Battalion, 187th Infantry, were across the Palico and at the junction of Route 17 with the main road from Nasugbu, now five miles to the west.

Hoping to continue achieving tactical surprise and planning to have troops on Tagaytay Ridge before dark on 1 February, Eichelberger directed the 11th Airborne Division to advance inland with all possible speed. He thought that the entire division, including the 511th Infantry, could assemble on Tagaytay Ridge on the 2d, and in anticipation asked the Fifth Air Force to drop the parachutists on the 2d instead of the 3d as originally planned. He also requested GHQ SWPA to ship the entire 19th Infantry, 24th Division, to Nasugbu from Mindoro to protect the 11th Airborne Division's line of communications to Tagaytay Ridge and release all the airborne unit for the advance toward Manila. The Fifth Air Force replied affirmatively, but General MacArthur agreed only to make another battalion of the 19th Infantry available in addition to the one that was already under Eichelberger's control and loading for Luzon.41


At 1800 on 31 January the 188th Infantry's advance elements halted four miles along Route 17 beyond the Palico bridge. The regiment resumed the advance at 0100 on 1 February, heading for the defile west of Tagaytay Ridge. As the lead troops approached the defile at first light, Japanese machine gun and rifle fire stopped them; when dawn broke, Japanese artillery emplaced on high ground to the left front of the 188th Infantry forced the regiment's point to withdraw slightly.

Ground and air reconnaissance disclosed that the Japanese defenses were centered on the bare, steep, southern and eastern slopes of Mt. Cariliao, north of the highway, and along the open and more rugged northern slopes of Mt. Batulao, south of the road. Raising its broken, scrub-grown crest over 2,100 feet above sea level and 1,300 feet above the Route 17 defile, Mt. Cariliao provided the Japanese with excellent defensive terrain, while the rough slopes of Mt. Batulao, almost 2,700 feet high, afforded almost innumerable hideaways. To the 11th Airborne Division, approaching along ground that gave little concealment in patches of scrub growth, the key to the Japanese defenses appeared to be Mt. Aiming, a sharp, bare height of some 1,180 feet off the southeastern slopes of Mt. Cariliao. Picking its way through what cover and concealment it could find, including a sharp gorge on the north side of Route 17, Company A of the 188th Infantry secured a foothold on the southern slopes of Mt. Aiming about noon on 1 February. The remainder of the 1st Battalion followed quickly, and in the face of Japanese machine gun and mortar fire, rapidly cleared all Mt. Aiming. This achievement split the Japanese defenses at the defile and helped reduce the volume of point-blank machine gun and rifle fire that had held up the division, which now made preparations to continue the advance on 2 February with one battalion along Route 17 and another overrunning Japanese defenses on the northern slopes of Mt. Batulao.

The delay occasioned by the fight at the defile on 1 February dashed General Eichelberger's hopes for assembling the entire division on Tagaytay Ridge by dusk on 2 February. General MacArthur had instructed Eichelberger not to call the 511th Parachute Infantry forward until he was certain that the paratroopers could make contact with the rest of the 11th Airborne Division within twenty-four hours of their drop. Since it appeared by evening on 1 February that the division might well have to spend all day on 2 February fighting its way through the defile, Eichelberger reluctantly changed the parachute drop back to 3 February.42

Despite strong close support by Fifth Air Force planes and division artillery, the 188th Infantry could make little progress on the morning of 2 February. However, momentum picked up shortly after 1200 when troops broke through to barrio Aga, a mile and a half east of Mt. Aiming. The Japanese had hurriedly abandoned Aga, the site of the West Sector Unit's command post, and had left behind large stores of ammunition, engineer equipment, and other supplies of all sorts, including many


weapons. By 1800 on the 2d the 1st Battalion, 187th Infantry, now leading the attack along Route 17, was three miles beyond Aga and only two miles short of the west end of Tagaytay Ridge. The advance halted for the night and the battalion prepared to resume its drive at 0830 on the 3d to make contact with the 511th Parachute Infantry, scheduled to start dropping on Tagaytay Ridge at 0815.

On the morning of 3 February the 188th Infantry met no resistance until after 1000, when it began rounding a bare ridge nose on the north side of a sharp bend on Route 17 at the western end of Tagaytay Ridge. Japanese troops holding another steep, bare ridge nose south of the bend then opened up with rifle, machine gun, and mortar fire that was augmented by artillery fire from emplacements north of the highway. Leaving one battalion to deal with this new opposition, the rest of the reinforced regiment pressed on up Tagaytay Ridge along Route 17 and, about 1300, at a point nearly two miles beyond the bend, made contact with men of the 511th Parachute Infantry.

Unopposed, about 1,750 troops of the 511th had begun dropping along Tagaytay Ridge just about on schedule.43 It was well that there was no opposition, for the 'troopers had landed in an inordinately scattered fashion. The drop zone selected for the 511th Infantry centered a mile and a half north-northeast of the Route 17 bend and was situated along the fairly gentle, grassy northern slopes of Tagaytay Ridge. Less than a third of the parachutists landed in the selected area.

The first echelon of the 511th Infantry, about 915 officers and men in all, had come to Tagaytay Ridge aboard 48 C-47 aircraft of the 317th Troop Carrier Group. The planes had flown north from Mindoro to approach Tagaytay Ridge from the northeast in order to avoid fire from Japanese antiaircraft weapons west of the drop zone. The first 18 planes, carrying about 345 troops, dropped over the assigned area. At this juncture, planes from succeeding flights were nearly six miles and three minutes behind the lead aircraft. About 0820 one of these later planes dumped out a couple of bundles of supplies. Taking this as a signal that they were over the proper drop zone, 'troopers of the succeeding 30 planes began jumping. Aircraft pilots, realizing they had not yet reached the proper point, attempted to halt the jumping, but the 511th's jump-masters continued sending the paratroopers out. Most of them landed almost five miles east-northeast of the assigned drop zone.

A second group of fifty-one C-47's began approaching the drop area about 1210. Some 80 men from the first 5 aircraft of this group landed in the proper place. The rest started out of their planes when they saw on the ground the collapsed chutes of the first misplaced jump. In the end, of the men jumping on 3 February only 425 landed on the assigned drop zone; the others, about 1,325 in all, made scattered landings



four and one-half to six miles to the east and northeast.

The 11th Airborne Division, blaming the 317th Troop Carrier Group for the premature dropping, reported that the "true reason was the refusal of the Air Force to co-operate in a combined training program for Airborne and Air Force troops . . . ."44 While it is true that many of the 317th's pilots had no experience in parachute operations, the division's records indicate that the division had participated in a significant amount of combined training in the United States and again in New Guinea. In any event, it appears that some lack of jump discipline within the 511th Infantry contributed to the scattered, premature jumping.

Whether the jump was necessary is a question that cannot be answered categorically. Certainly, the drop was not


required to secure Tagaytay Ridge--there were no Japanese there and elements of the 188th Infantry were already on the west end of the ridge before the first paratroopers were out of their planes. On the other hand, with the Allied Naval Forces short of amphibious lift and escorts to move the regiment any sooner, the 511th Infantry, coming from Mindoro by sea and then overland from Nasugbu, could not have reached Tagaytay Ridge until late on 4 February at the earliest. In such an event the 11th Airborne Division, with insufficient strength to continue toward Manila, might have been forced to wait along the ridge another day, giving the Japanese ample time to redeploy forces to defend Route 17 north of the ridge. Eichelberger hoped that the division could move in strength on Manila during 3 February and catch off balance the defenders south of the city. Whatever the case, the day or two saved by the 511th Infantry's jump would prove to make no difference, for the Japanese had already fully manned strong defenses at the southern outskirts of Manila, though Eighth Army and the 11th Airborne Division could not know this on the basis of available information.

To the Outskirts of Manila

Luckily for the 511th Infantry, the area where the bulk of its men hit the ground was not too impossible, although many of the 'troopers had landed in or among banana trees. The regiment suffered about 50 jump casualties--a low rate of less than 3 percent--of whom all but two were listed as "slightly injured." One man was killed and another was carried on the casualty lists as seriously injured.45 Despite the organizational problems the scattered jump created, Col. Orin D. Haugen, commanding the 511th Infantry, had all his troops under his control by 1400. He dispatched patrols westward to establish contact with the 188th Infantry, and his men, encountering no opposition, secured the eastern end of Tagaytay Ridge where Route 17 turned sharply north and downhill toward Manila. Haugen also sent patrols out along roads and trails leading north and south from the ridge crest and at evening reported to division headquarters that he had found no signs of Japanese.

Generals Eichelberger and Swing now intended to have the reinforced 188th Infantry hold Tagaytay Ridge and reduce the Japanese pocket on the western nose while the 511th Infantry pushed north toward Manila with all possible speed. Swing sent all of his available motor transportation forward to Tagaytay Ridge to move the 511th Infantry northward in battalion-sized shuttles and directed the 188th Infantry to follow when ready.

This plan constituted a change in mission for the 11th Airborne Division. MacArthur's original instructions to Eichelberger had envisaged that the division's primary duties would be to contain Japanese forces in southern Luzon and patrol to ascertain Japanese dispositions and intentions in its area of responsibility.


Manifestly, the division could not carry out these duties if it drove north to Manila. Eichelberger's authority to change the mission apparently derived from personal contact with MacArthur, who had given the Eighth Army commander considerable discretion on the handling of the 11th Airborne Division.46

Eichelberger's hopes that the 11th Airborne Division could start its dash to Manila on 3 February did not come to fruition. It was after daylight on the 4th before the 2d Battalion, 511th Infantry, already over twelve hours behind Sixth Army elements coming into the city from the north, set out from Tagaytay Ridge. Moving as fast as the elementary requirements of caution permitted, the battalion sped rapidly northward along two-lane, concrete-paved Route 17. At every town and barrio through the open country crowds of cheering Filipinos greeted the column and, once or twice, practically halted the movement in their enthusiasm.

About 1130 forward elements detrucked at Imus, a small town almost twenty-five miles north of Tagaytay Ridge. The Route 17 bridge over the Imus River just south of the town was out, and about fifty Japanese, holed up in an old stone building dating back to the early days of the Spanish occupation, blocked an alternate bridge within Imus. Most of the infantry walked across the river along the top of a small dam south of town, while Company D, 511th Infantry, supported by some 75-mm. howitzers of the 674th Field Artillery, undertook to reduce the Japanese strongpoint so that the trucks could continue up Route 17. The 5-foot-thick walls of the old building proved impervious to the light artillery shells, so T. Sgt. Robert C. Steele climbed to the building's roof, knocked a hole through the roofing, poured in gasoline, and started a fine flash fire inside with a white phosphorus hand grenade. As the Japanese came dashing out, they were summarily cut down by the men of Company D. Steele personally dispatched two Japanese who remained inside the building.47

With the Imus bridge secure, the parachute battalion drove on another three miles to Zapote. Here, Route 17 ended at a junction with Route 25, which led another half mile northeast across the Zapote River to a junction with Route 1 a mile south of a bridge over the Las Piñas River at Las Piñas. The Japanese had prepared the Las Piñas bridge for demolitions and were to defend it from positions on the north bank, but the men


PARAÑAQUE, four miles south of Manila, where on 4 February the Japanese stopped the 511th Infantry.

of the 511th Infantry caught the Japanese by surprise and secured the span intact after a short, sharp fire fight. The 2d Battalion held at Las Piñas while the 1st Battalion, coming north on a second truck shuttle from Tagaytay Ridge, passed through and continued toward Manila.

Driving through a densely populated area and following Route 1 up the shore of Manila Bay, the 1st Battalion left Las Piñas behind at 1800. The battalion ran into increasingly heavy harassing fire from Japanese riflemen and machine gunners. At Parañaque, two miles beyond Las Piñas, the unit found a bridge across the Parañaque River badly damaged, defended by Japanese on the north bank, and covered by Japanese mortar and artillery fire originating from Nichols Field, a mile and a half to the northeast. Here, only four miles south of the Manila city limits,48 the Japanese stopped the 511th Infantry.

On 4 February the 511th Infantry, in various clashes, lost 8 men killed and 19 wounded. The entire 11th Airborne Division, since its landing, had lost approximately 35 men killed and 150 wounded, plus 50 injured in the Tagaytay Ridge jump. The division now faced the principal Japanese defenses south of Manila.


Support Operations During the Approach March

Logistical Problems

One of the major problems the XIV Corps and the 11th Airborne Division faced during their drives to Manila was logistical in nature, deriving from the speed of the advances, the distances covered, the chronic shortages of motor transportation, and the destruction of bridges.49 General Krueger's request of 20 January that the Allied Air Forces cease knocking out bridges on Luzon proved of little help to XIV Corps. By that time most of the bridges that the Allied Air Forces, the Japanese, or the Filipino guerrillas ever intended to destroy in the XIV Corps zone were already down.

It is well-nigh impossible to ascertain to whom the credit for bridge destruction on Luzon should go, for the cycle of demolitions, repairs, and redestruction was often quite involved. For example, in 1941-42 General MacArthur's withdrawing forces had destroyed fifteen major highway bridges and four major railroad bridges between the Agno River and Manila.50 Part of this destruction had not been too successful, and the Japanese had had little trouble repairing some spans, such as those at Cabanatuan and Gapan. In 1945 the 1st Cavalry Division was able to send its heaviest loads across both bridges after engineers made relatively minor repairs. While the Japanese had repaired many spans for heavy loads, they had replaced others with light, wooden structures that could not bear Sixth Army loads. In 1945 the Japanese not only demolished bridges they had once repaired but also knocked out many spans that MacArthur's forces had not needed to destroy in 1941-42. While the Allied Air Forces bombed many of the bridges in the Central Plains (and in southern Luzon as well), it appears that the Japanese executed most of the bridge destruction south from the Agno to Manila during January and February 1945, a conclusion borne out by guerrilla reports and because the type of destruction accomplished usually resulted from carefully placed demolition charges rather than aerial bombardment. The extent of Japanese plans for bridge destruction is indicated by the fact that almost all the bridges the XIV Corps and the 11th Airborne Division captured intact had been prepared for demolition. The Allied Air Forces, and carrier-based planes too, did destroy or damage some bridges, while the guerrillas also had a hand in some of the destruction, or at least prevented the Japanese from effecting permanent repairs after 9 January.

To span the many streams on the way to Manila, Sixth Army engineers leap-frogged bridging equipment southward, sending ponton and heavy treadway bridging forward as Baileys and other semipermanent crossings were erected over the Agno River and other streams back to Lingayen Gulf. For example, at the Sulipan Canal, a mile north of Calumpit, the first bridge was a light ponton


affair that the 530th Engineer Light Ponton Company set up on 1 February. On the next day heavy ponton equipment arrived from a dismantled bridge over the Bued River at Lingayen Gulf, and by 1030 on the 2d the 556th Engineer Heavy Ponton Battalion, having worked at a feverish pace, had completed a new bridge that could carry 16-ton loads across the canal. As soon as the larger Sulipan bridge was in place, trucks laden with heavy treadway bridging dismantled from the Agno River crossing at Bayambang came over the canal on their way to the Pampanga River at Calumpit. The heavy treadway that the Sixth Army engineers had trucked south proved sixty feet too short to span the Pampanga but, improvising with all sorts of equipment, the 37th Division's 117th Engineer Battalion was able to complete the crossing. According to General Beightler, this contretemps at the Pampanga held up the 37th Division for a full day on its way to Manila while the division waited for its supporting tanks and artillery to cross the river.51

As soon as the Pampanga bridge was ready, the 530th Light Ponton Company dismantled the bridge they had erected across the Sulipan Canal and moved it south to the Bigaa River. Still further south, at Meycauyan, engineers assembled another ponton bridge, using sections removed from the Agno River at Villasis in I Corps' zone, where other engineers had completed a Bailey bridge. By a complex continuation of such processes, the engineers assured a constant flow of supplies and heavy equipment down Route 3 behind the 37th Division.

In the 1st Cavalry Division's zone the first major, unbridged water obstacle was the Angat River. After most of the division had crossed that stream via fords in the vicinity of Baliuag and Sabang, engineers began constructing a heavy treadway bridge, using equipment originally earmarked for the Pampanga River at Cabanatuan but not needed there. The cavalry seized the Tuliahan bridge near Novaliches on 3 February, but the next night a Japanese raiding party destroyed it--the division's security was not good enough. Since the Tuliahan was unfordable, an acute supply problem immediately arose and, worse still, the main body of the 1st Cavalry Division could not get into Manila for two days, leaving General Chase's Flying Columns virtually isolated at Santo Tomas University. On 4 and 5 February the division sent supplies to General Chase's force over roads and bridges in the 37th Division's zone, but on the 6th engineers built a ford near Novaliches and supplies again started crossing the Tuliahan.

Japanese infiltration parties continued to harass the 1st Cavalry Division's rather exposed, easterly supply route. Therefore, when XIV Corps engineers completed a bridge over the Angat at Plaridel, the division abandoned the Novaliches route and sent its traffic south along Route 5 three miles from Plaridel to the Routes 3-5 junction at Tabang and thence into the city. Needless to say, bridge congestion became chronic between Tabang and Manila, a situation that obtained for many crossings in XIV Corps' area. Engineers at first had been able to erect only one-lane spans at each stream. As a result, on one side of a river Manila-bound traffic soon jammed up, while on the other empty vehicles returning northward for another load


created a second traffic jam. Only constant, carefully co-ordinated efforts of traffic control officers prevented complete chaos.

Having captured most of the bridges along its route of advance, the 11th Airborne Division encountered no serious crossing problems until it reached the Parañaque River. Initially, the division employed small rafts made from rubber assault boats to move its supplies and equipment across the Parañaque, but within a few days division engineers had completed temporary timber repairs at the damaged Parañaque span and vehicles began crossing.

Even with adequate bridging installed, the XIV Corps and the 11th Airborne Division continued to face knotty transportation problems. The speed and distances involved in the advances toward Manila meant that all trucks were in almost constant use. All other available motor transport also had to be employed. Dukws, not designed for the job, made long overland hauls; jeeps and engineer flat-bed trailers, often overloaded, carried general supplies; LVT's, employed as ferries at many rivers, also sometimes carried cargo for long distances overland. The demands on maintenance personnel and equipment became abnormally heavy, even though vehicles were in such constant use that it was nearly impossible to pull them off duty for the most pressing repairs. If maintenance officers and men verged on nervous breakdowns, they can hardly be blamed. Trucks consumed tires at an alarming rate, especially over gravel roads in the 1st Cavalry Division's sector and along a particularly vicious stretch of sharp gravel along Route 17 between Nasugbu and Tagaytay Ridge.

Another problem arose in the 11th Airborne Division's zone. The beaches at Nasugbu, contrary to expectations, proved unsatisfactory for discharging LST's. From time to time it became relatively difficult to supply even the small 11th Airborne Division over these beaches, and the adverse conditions there convinced planners that it would be impracticable to unload and supply the 41st Infantry Division through Nasugbu. Plans to employ the 41st Division on Luzon were thereupon dropped.52

None of the problems proved insoluble, and troops at the front were never without at least the bare minimum of essential supplies. For a time the 11th Airborne Division faced a serious gasoline shortage, but this was eliminated when, on 5 February, C-47's began flying drums of gasoline to a hastily prepared airstrip at Nasugbu. Later, cargo planes dropped general supplies along Tagaytay Ridge, thereby overcoming the inadequacies of the Nasugbu beaches, shortening the division's supply line, and reducing the problem of tire wear. Nevertheless, the 11th Airborne Division was unable to eliminate all of its supply problems until it began receiving supplies from the north, through Manila.

In the 1st Cavalry Division General Chase's Flying Columns, reduced to two K-ration meals per day, went a bit hungry on 4 and 5 February after the Japanese destroyed the Novaliches bridge. Practically the only other supply problem in the 37th Infantry Division and 1st Cavalry Division sectors evolved from


delays incident to the installation of heavy bridging that trucks, tanks, and artillery could cross. As the result of such delays, supporting units sometimes did not get forward as rapidly as the infantry and cavalry unit commanders desired.

Thus, it is obvious that the success of the dash to Manila depended in large measure upon the success of Engineer, Transportation, and Quartermaster units. That the dash was successful is ample testimony to the effectiveness with which these supporting units operated.

Air Support Operations

While the XIV Corps and the 11th Airborne Division required few close air support missions during their drives toward Manila, air power assumed an important role in the operations.53 The 511th Parachute Infantry drop is one case in point. On XIV Corps' left, air operations attained perhaps more significance. With its left exposed, the 1st Cavalry Division depended in large measure upon air for its flank protection. Beginning on 1 February Marine Air Groups 24 and 32, flying from the recently completed Mangaldan strip near Lingayen Gulf, kept nine SBD's (Douglas dive bombers) over the cavalry's leading elements. Other SBD's and Fifth Air Force P-40's, all under 308th Bombardment Wing control, undertook reconnaissance missions along the cavalry's left flank and left front. During the last stages of the dash to Manila a squadron of Fifth Air Force A-20's--medium bombers--maintained a constant ground alert at the Lingayen fields awaiting call by either of XIV Corps' leading divisions.

The SBD's flew only one close support mission--if it can be so designated. Near the Santa Maria River ford, on 3 February, the 1st Cavalry Division called upon the Marine planes to disperse a small group of Japanese holding a piece of high ground dominating the crossing point. Unable to fire because the cavalrymen were too close to the target, the planes made several simulated strafing attacks over the Japanese positions. These "dry runs" so unnerved the Japanese that most of them soon fled.54

Mindoro-based planes of the 310th Bombardment Wing provided the support for the 11th Airborne Division. P-47's or P-38's maintained a constant four-plane umbrella over the leading troops, and on 1 and 2 February the 310th Wing executed close support bombardment and strafing missions at the defile west of Tagaytay Ridge.

Not all the air support missions went off without a hitch. It might have been expected that after three years' experience air-ground co-operation would be such as to preclude bombing and strafing friendly troops, but the contemporary records of Sixth Army and its components reveal that there were many such incidents, most of them apparently attributable


to pilot errors in target identification.55

Late in January General Krueger had informed General Kenney, the commander of the Allied Air Forces, that since the Fifth Air Force had taken over air support responsibility on Luzon from the Allied Naval Forces' CVE-based planes there had been "numerous incidents" of Fifth Air Force planes attacking I and XIV Corps troops. Krueger went on to point out that, as a result, his ground forces were rapidly losing confidence in the supporting air arm.56 Finally, after another mistake by Fifth Air Force planes on 4 February caused more casualties,57 Krueger sent Kenney a blistering radio:

I must insist that you take effective measures to stop the bombing and strafing of our ground forces by friendly planes. . . . These repeated occurrences are causing ground troops to lose confidence in air support and are adversely affecting morale.58

General Kenney and his subordinates, having received steadily increasing criticism from Sixth Army troops, were taking many steps to prevent errors. It can be supposed that they now redoubled their efforts.59

The vast majority of air strikes, whatever service executed them, were both accurate and helpful. As the campaign on Luzon progressed, the incidence of mistakes rapidly diminished as Fifth Air Force pilots became more familiar with the ground situation and the Allied Air Forces and the Sixth Army modified and improved air-ground liaison and control systems. Although some of the Army divisions on Luzon preferred to have Marine Corps aircraft support them, Fifth Air Force pilots, who had previously had rather limited experience in close air support operations, became well versed in such activity, and some of the Fifth's squadrons came to provide as excellent close air support as was to be executed anywhere during World War II. In the end, the Fifth Air Force did its job and did it well.


Table of Contents ** Previous Chapter (11) * Next Chapter (13)


1. Sixth Army FO 45, 26 Jan 45, Sixth Army Rpt Luzon, I, 147-48.

2. The southern group of MacArthur's forces, withdrawing north across the Pampanga on 1 January 1942, blew the two Calumpit bridges. See Morton, Fall of the Philippines, pp. 209-10. The Japanese replaced the bridges in 1943, employing in part bridging material left in Manila. The bridges were intact as late as 27 December 1944, but the Japanese blew them late in January, leaving two sets of bridges in the water, one on top of the other. Comments by Mr. James J. Halsema, an American civilian who was interned by the Japanese during the war. Hereinafter cited as Halsema Comments, these remarks were forwarded to the author during March 1957.

3. These bridges had also been knocked out by MacArthur's forces in 1942, but had been repaired by the Japanese.

4. The foregoing operational material is from: 37th Div Rpt Luzon, pp. 31-33; 148th Inf Rpt Luzon, p. 4; 37th Rcn Tr Rpt Luzon, 8 Jan-3 Feb 45, pp. 5-6.

5. Rad, Krueger to Griswold (quoting MacArthur), WL-944, 30 Jan 45, Sixth Army G-3 Jnl File Luzon, 29-31 Jan 45.

6. Beightler Comments, 18 Mar 57.

7. Rad, Krueger to Griswold, WL-944, 30 Jan 45; Entries 1, 5, and 23, XIV Corps G-3 Jnl, 31 Jan 45; Telecons, G-3 XIV Corps and G-3 37th Div, 0140 and 0855 31 Jan 45, in XIV Corps G-3 Jnl File, 31 Jan 45.

8. Sixth Army FO 46, 30 Jan 45; see also above, ch. XI.

9. Sixth Army FO 46, 30 Jan 45.

10. Sixth Army Rpt Luzon, I, 31-32; Sixth Army FO 46, 30 Jan 45.

11. 37th Div Rpt Luzon, pp. 34-36; 148th Inf Rpt Luzon, pp. 4-5; 145th Inf Rpt Luzon, pp. 15-16; 148th Inf S-3 Per Rpts, 31 Jan-3 Feb 45. The records indicate that the Shimbu Group battalion may have been caught by surprise, or at least in the process of trying to withdraw southeast, but General Beightler, in Beightler Comments, 18 March 57, states that the unit was in well-prepared defensive positions. The Angat and Quingua are two names for different sections of the same stream that, flowing westward, joins the delta of the Pampanga just south of Calumpit.

12. After World War II the 1st Cavalry Division was triangularized and reorganized as an infantry division, but kept its name.

13. 1st Cav Div FO's 22 and 23, 8 and 31 Jan 45; 1st Cav Div Rpt Luzon, Org, pp. 1-2; Ltr, CG 1st Cav Div to Comdrs of Units and Separate Orgs, sub: Org of Reinforced Motorized Squadron, 31 Jan 45, 1st Cav Div FO File.

14. The general sources for the rest of this subsection are: 1st Cav Div Rpt Luzon, Narrative, pp. 1-3; Maj. Bertram C. Wright, The 1st Cavalry Division in World War II (Tokyo: Toppan Printing Co., Ltd., 1947), pp. 126-28; 1st Cav Div G-3 Per Rpts, 1-3 Feb 45; 1st Cav Brig S-3 Per Rpts, 1-3 Feb 45; 5th Cav Rpt Luzon, pp. 2-5; 5th Cav S-3 Per Rpts, 1-3 Feb 45; 8th Cav Rpt Luzon, Manila Phase, p. 1; 302d Rcn Tr Rpt Luzon, pp. 8-12; 44th Tank Bn Rpt Luzon, pp. 5-7.

15. According to the 1st Cavalry Division G-3 Periodic Report for 1 February, as well as the 8th Cavalry Regiment, 2d Cavalry Brigade, and division journals for the day, Troop G had reached Sabang on 1 February. From the time and distance factors involved--especially with a return to Gapan for the night--this seems impossible. From internal evidence in the journals it is obvious that as the result of garbled radio messages Gapan and Sabang were confused in more than one instance on both 1 and 2 February.

16. See Morton, Fall of the Philippines, pp. 206-08. Both Cabanatuan and Gapan had also been scenes of minor delaying actions during MacArthur's withdrawal; see Morton, op. cit., p. 183.

17. Sixth Army FO 47, 2 Feb 45, Sixth Army Rpt Luzon, I, 149.

18. XIV Corps FO 5, 3 Feb 45, Sixth Army G-3 Jnl File Luzon, 31 Jan-2 Feb 45. Although dated 3 February, this field order actually started going out to subordinate units by radio and telephone before midnight on the 2d. General Beightler, in Beightler Comments, 18 March 57, took exception to the reasoning in the last sentence of this paragraph, pointing out that the new boundary left the only intact bridge on the northern and northeastern approaches to Manila in the 1st Cavalry Division's zone, and that the 1st Cavalry Division therefore could hardly help entering Manila first. On the other hand, General Griswold could not have known that the Japanese would leave the bridge intact for the 1st Cavalry Division.

19. 148th Inf Rpt Luzon, pp. 4-5; 148th Inf S-3 Per Rpts, 3-4 Feb 45.

20. Beightler Comments, 18 Mar 57. General Beightler stated that Griswold still did not want the 37th Division's infantry to get very far beyond its supporting arms.

21. Information on 1st Cavalry Division operations in this subsection is based primarily upon the relevant portions of the narrative sources cited in note 14 above. The following were also consulted: 1st Cav Brig Jnl, 3-4 Feb 45; 1st Cav Div G-3 Jnl, 3-4 Feb 45; 5th Cav S-2/S-3 Jnl, 3 Feb 45; 8th Cav S-2/S-3 Jnl, 3-4 Feb 45.

22. The 5th Cavalry could have reached this junction by coming southeast and south out of Norzagaray along a third-class road. However, such a route had been considered too risky because it was believed that strong Japanese forces held another junction some five miles north of the Routes 64-52 junction.

23. The author, who went over the stretch of Route 52 in April 1957, when part of it had been paved, could only conclude that anyone who drove fifty miles an hour along the road in 1945, when it was almost all gravel at least to Novaliches, must have taken leave of his senses or else had abandoned his life to the hands of St. Christopher.

24. For a combination of this action and a later mine-clearing exploit in Manila, Sutton was awarded the Army's Distinguished Service Cross. Although a naval officer, Sutton spent almost his entire overseas tour attached to Army units and his wartime decorations--the DSC, a Silver Star, and two Purple Hearts--were all awarded by the Army. After the war, Sutton served in the U.S. House of Representatives as a Congressman from Tennessee. Interview, author with Sutton, 24 June 1953, copy of interview notes in OCMH files.

25. Rads, XIV Corps to 1st Cav Div and 37th Inf Div, 1225 and 2100 3 Feb 45, XIV Corps G-3 Jnl File Luzon, 3-4 Feb 45; Amended Version, 2000 3 Feb 45, XIV Corps FO 5, 3 Feb 45, Sixth Army G-3 Jnl File Luzon, 31 Jan-2 Feb 45.

26. The exact time the squadron crossed the city limits is highly debatable, for the division's records give times running from 1730 to 1945. Most journal entries agreed that it was about 1830 when the squadron reached Grace Park and between 1930 and 1945 when the van units reached Santo Tomas University, well within the city. The question is further complicated by the difficulty of determining the exact locations of the city limits, for the 8th Cavalry found no defining signs and the Japanese, during the war, had moved the city boundaries to include some of the prewar suburbs. Thus the 8th Cavalry may well have crossed the city limits as defined by the Japanese when it reached Grace Park.

27. Sixth Army Rpt Luzon, I, 7, 10.

28. GHQ SWPA, MUSKETEER I, 10 Jul 44; GHQ SWPA Staff Study MIKE IV (Nasugbu-Balayan), 7 Nov 44, OPD File ABC 384 Pacific (1-17-43), Sec. 8-G; GHQ SWPA Staff Study MIKE VI (Batangas-Tayabas Provinces), Ed. No. 1, 2 Jan 45; GHQ SWPA OI 86, 11 Jan 45, G-3 GHQ Jnl File, 11 Jan 45; GHQ SWPA OI 87, 14 Jan 45, G-3 GHQ Jnl File, 14 Jan 45; Memo, Chief Strategy Sec OPD for Chief Strategy and Policy Gp OPD, sub: Opn MIKE Six, 13 Jan 45, atchd to OPD copy of GHQ SWPA Staff Study MIKE VI, During the course of planning for two RCT landings, Eighth Army suggested substituting Balayan Bay, fifteen miles southeast of Nasugbu, for Tayabas Bay, returning to the GHQ SWPA concept of MIKE IV, 7 November 1944. The planners found that the Balayan Bay landing would make little tactical sense when they learned that the only practical route inland from that bay led directly to the Nasugbu area, where a landing was to be made anyway. General Eichelberger stated that he had been opposed to the two separate landings idea from the beginning because he felt that the two small RCT's of the 11th Airborne Division would be chewed up in short order. Eichelberger Comments, 21 Jan 57.

29. GHQ SWPA OI 86, 11 Jan 45; Rad, CTF 77 to CTF 78, 0225 18 Jan 45, Sixth Army G-3 Jnl File Luzon, 17-18 Jan 45; Memo, ACofS G-3 Eighth Army for CofS Eighth Army, 19 Jan 45; Memo, Asst ACofS G-3 Eighth Army for ACofS G-3 Eighth Army, sub: Plan for MIKE VI Opn, 21 Jan 45; Memo, Asst ACofS G-3 Eighth Army for ACofS G-3 Eighth Army, sub: Topics Discussed at Conference . . . , 22 Jan 45. Last three in Eighth Army G-3 Jnl File MIKE VI Opn, 4-25 Jan 45.

30. Rad, Eichelberger to MacArthur, FB-769, 20 Jan 45, Eighth Army G-3 Jnl File MIKE VI, 4-25 Jan 45; Eighth Army FO 17, 22 Jan 45, G-3 GHQ Jnl File, 24 Jan 45.

31. Rads, MacArthur to Eichelberger, C-56806 and CX-56903, 22 Jan 45, Eighth Army G-3 Jnl File MIKE VI, 4-25 Jan 45.

32. TG 78.2 Opn Plan No. 1-45, 23 Jan 45, Eighth Army G-3 Jnl File MIKE VI, 4-25 Jan 45; AAF SWPA OI 86, 15 Jan 45, G-3 GHQ Jnl File, 18 Jan 45.

33. 11th A/B Div FO 10, 24 Jan 45; 11th A/B Div Rpt Luzon, p. 57; Maj. Edward M. Flanagan, Jr., The Angels: A History of the 11th Airborne Division, 1943-1946 (Washington: Infantry Journal Press, 1948), pp. 1-2; Eighth Army FO 17, 22 Jan 45, and Amendment No. 1, 26 Jan 45, both in G-3 GHQ Jnl File, 24 Jan 45; Rad, GHQ SWPA to Eighth Army, CX-57942, 1 Feb 45, Eighth Army G-3 Jnl File MIKE VI, 26 Jan-2 Feb 45.

34. 11th A/B Div FO 10, 24 Jan 45.

35. Japanese information in this and the following two subsections is mainly from: 11th A/B Div Rpt Luzon, pp. 13-16, 27-28; Japanese Studies in WW II, No. 9, Luzon Opns of the Shimbu Gp, pp. 2-3, 8; Sixth Army G-2 Wkly Rpts 76 and 77, 21 and 28 Feb 45, copies in G-2 DA Files; Statement of Lt Col Norio Tsutsumi (CO 2d Surface Raiding Base Force), States, IV, 426-28; Statement of Lt Col Tsugunori Kuriya (Staff 14th Area Army), States, II, 371-73; 10th I&H, Staff Study of Japanese Operations in the Batangas Area (Nasugbu Operation), passim.

36. Many different translations from the Japanese are to be found for these forces, squadrons, and battalions.

37. The general sources for this and the next subsection are: Eighth Army Rpt Nasugbu and Bataan Opns, pp. 14-20; Flanagan, The Angels, pp. 67-77; 11th A/B Div Rpt Luzon, pp. 3-4, 16, 27-28; 11th A/B Div Hist Narrative MIKE SIX, pp. 1-3; 11th A/B Div G-3 Per Rpts, 1-5 Feb 45; TG 78.2 Action Rpt Nasugbu, pp. 4-6.

38. Swing Comments, 10 Jan 57.

39. Rad, Eichelberger to MacArthur (via Navy channels), 0245 31 Jan 45, in Eighth Army G-3 Jnl File MIKE VI, 26 Jan-2 Feb 45.

40. Additional information on regimental operations is from: 188th Gli Inf Rpt Luzon, pp. 1-4; 188th Para-Gli Inf, Draft Hist Luzon Campaign, 31 Jan-31 Mar 45, passim; 188th Inf S-3 Per Rpts Luzon; 187th Inf S-3 Per Rpts Luzon; 187th Inf Chron Narrative MIKE VI; 1st Bn 187th Inf Chron Narrative MIKE VI, 26 Jan-24 Feb 45. Last four documents are in 11th Airborne Division Camp Campbell (Ky.) collection.

41. Rad, Eichelberger to MacArthur, 0245 31 Jan 45; Rad, MacArthur to Eichelberger, CX-57342, 1 Feb 45, Eighth Army G-3 Jnl File MIKE VI, 26 Jan-2 Feb 45; TG 78.2 Action Rpt Nasugbu, Chron Order of Events, p. 4.

42. Rad, MacArthur to Eichelberger, C-56806, 22 Jan 45, Eighth Army G-3 Jnl File MIKE VI, 4-25 Jan 45; Rad, Eighth Army to Fifth Air Force, FB-839, 1 Feb 45, Eighth Army G-3 Jnl File MIKE VI, 26 Jan-2 Feb 45.

43. Additional sources for 511th Infantry operations are: 511th Inf S-1, S-2, and S-3 Jnls (incomplete) Luzon, 11th A/B Div Camp Campbell (Ky.) collection; Ltr, CG Fifth Air Force to CG Eighth Army, 4 Feb 45, Eighth Army G-3 Jnl File MIKE VI, 2-19 Feb 45, with atchd Mission Rpts, 317th Tr Carrier Gp; 511th Inf S-1 Casualty and Inspection Rpts Luzon.

44. 11th A/B Div Rpt Luzon, p. 4.

45. General Swing, commenting on this passage, stated that he could not recall any fatalities (Swing Comments, 10 January 1957), but the division's records indicate that one man was either killed or later died of injuries. The division records being incomplete and confusing on this point, it may be that the two men listed in the subject sentence were one and the same.

46. Eighth Army Rpt Nasugbu-Bataan, p. 22; Eichelberger and MacKaye, Our Jungle Road to Tokyo, p. 189. Both Maj. Gen. Clovis E. Byers (contemporary Chief of Staff, Eighth Army) and Brig. Gen. Frank S. Bowen (Eichelberger's G-3) stated that Eichelberger received supplementary verbal instructions from MacArthur. (See Ltr, Byers to author, 30 Jun 53, in OCMH files.) Eichelberger, reviewing the draft manuscript of this volume, stated that before the 11th Airborne Division departed Leyte, General Sutherland (MacArthur's chief of staff) came to Eighth Army headquarters on Leyte and stated that MacArthur wanted Eichelberger to capture Manila. (See Eichelberger Comments, 21 Jan 57.) No documents relevant to the change can be found in available GHQ SWPA, Eighth Army, or 11th Airborne Division files. Whatever the case, there can be no doubt that General Eichelberger would have liked a share in the honor of seizing Manila and that he would dearly have loved to beat Sixth Army into the capital city.

47. Steele was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for this exploit. Tragically, the award had to be made posthumously, for the sergeant was killed a few days later in Manila.

48. The same questions as to the location of the city limits arise here as in the case of the 1st Cavalry Division. See above, n. 26.

49. The general sources for this subsection are: Sixth Army Rpt Luzon, III, 55, 115; ibid., IV, 86-89, 108, 118, 134, 143-44; Eighth Army Rpt Nasugbu-Bataan, pp. 22, 50-54, 57, 71; 37th Div Rpt Luzon, pp. 37, 197-99, 210-11; 117th Engr Bn Rpt, 8 Jan-4 Feb 45, p. 11; Craven and Cate, AAF V, p. 408.

50. Ltr, Col Harry A. Skerry (Ret.), in 1942 the Engineer North Luzon Force and I Philippine Corps, to author, 26 Jun 53, copy in OCMH files. See also Morton, Fall of the Philippines, passim.

51. Beightler Comments, 18 Mar 57.

52. Rad, Eichelberger to MacArthur (via Navy channels), 0955 31 Jan 45, and Rad, MacArthur to Eichelberger, CX-57342, 1 Feb 45, both in Eighth Army G-3 Jnl File MIKE VI, 26 Jan-2 Feb 45. See also above, p. 222, and below, ch. XXIV.

53. The general sources for this subsection are: Sixth Army Rpt Luzon, I, 99-103, 108; Hist of 308th Bombardment Wing, ch. IV, 1 January-28 May 45, pp. 8, 13-14, 17; Boggs, Marine Aviation in the Philippines, pp. 74-79; Craven and Cate, AAF V, pp. 420, 425-28, 442; 11th A/B Div Rpt Luzon, pp. 3-4.

54. Boggs, Marine Aviation in the Philippines, p. 78; Wright, 1st Cavalry Division in WW II, p. 128. Both sources state that the incident occurred on 2 February, but according to the 1st Cavalry Division's contemporary records none of its troops were near the target area until the morning of the 3d.

55. The Air Forces official history says of air operations during the Luzon Campaign that: "Air mistakes resulting in casualties to Sixth Army troops were few and limited almost entirely to the first two months of the campaign." And again that "Reactions of the air commanders to these accidents was somewhat less philosophical than those of the ground generals, one of whom spoke of having experienced short rounds from his own artillery."

The Air Forces' volume lists but three air support mistakes during the period of the drive to Manila, two involving Fifth Air Force planes strafing Sixth Army troops and the third an accidental jettisoning of a bomb on a Navy LSM by a Marine Corps SBD. (Craven and Cate, AAF V, p. 442.) But as indicated in this text, ground commanders were anything but "philosophical" about the errors, while the records of the ground units clearly demonstrate that there were many more errors than the Air Forces history would lead one to believe.

56. Rad, Krueger to Kenney, WL-907, 30 Jan Sixth Army G-3 Jnl File Luzon, 29-31 Jan 45.

57. The strafing of troops of the 1st Infantry, 6th Division, at San Jose. See above, ch. XI.

58. Rad, Krueger to Kenney, WG-32, 4 Feb 45, Sixth Army G-3 Jnl File Luzon, 2-4 Feb 45.

59. Rad, Kenney to Krueger, AX-34890, 31 Jan 45, Sixth Army G-3 Jnl File Luzon, 31 Jan - 2 Feb 45. No reply to Krueger's 4 February radio can be found in available files.

Transcribed and formatted by Jerry Holden for the HyperWar Foundation