April 6, 1942

HQ, Bataan

 

 

More men retreating, more stragglers, the rear area has become the front. Japs keep on following their gains, bombing, shelling, blasting, burning, shooting, bayoneting. They have been waiting for this hour. Blood is flowing freely…

Evacuee area is a most pitiful sight. Saw women and children gathered around the cinders of their former dwellings, begging for food, bewildered by the terrific advance of the Japanese.

From morning to sunset, the hillsides and shell-burnt roads have been brown with bleeding men –the remnants of the Filipino-American forces. These are the men who have electrified the world with their glorious stand.

Saw troops of the 41st lying on the ground near Mariveles. Most of them were thin, emaciated, yellow with malaria. Many were dying. Others were blind to due to vitamin deficiencies. Some did not have even strength to drive the flies crawling on their bodies. When planes hovered above, they did not move, they did not care to move. Death would be a welcome respite.

Japs advancing fiercely, killing mercilessly, bayoneting with unleashed fury.

Already the flies, the hawks and the pariah dogs have found the dying & dead. Saw a big rat bite off a dead man’s eye.

Still no order to surrender. Fight must continue. Bleeding must continue. Dying must continue. Can hear roar of machine-guns. More & more boys dying, by the minute.

 

(later)

 

Received a phone-call from Manny de Leon from Corregidor. He said “Leonie is very ill.” I gave him my regards and farewell. I told him the lines had broken. After that our telephone went dead.


April 5, 1942

Bataan

 

 

Dead men everywhere. Uniforms red with blood. Guns red with blood. Bataan is a sea of blood.

Some troops still fighting but contact with the main line has been lost. Most of the boys are retreating, firing, retreating, firing –dying.

Saw hundreds and hundreds of unkempt, disheveled, bewildered troops dragging their swollen feet in an attempt to escape from Jap onrush.

An American doughboy, thin, gaunt, skeletal, approached me, asked for “bread, buddy, bread.” I gave him water. I had no bread.

Evacuees are panic-stricken. Saw men, women, children crying. I could not find her.

Divisions have ceased to exist. Regiments are split. Troops are mixed & many platoons have no more officers. Trenches have been abandoned. Everywhere are rifles, broken bayonets, revolvers, staff cars. This is defeat…

Last staff meeting, perhaps, held just a few minutes ago. The General with tears in his eyes said: we are defeated.

He revealed that a last-minute attempt to stop the onrushing stream of Jap troops was attempted but the battalions of P.C. and Scout troops sent were all killed. “Jap tanks not trucks transporting them.”

“That was our last chance, the final hope,” he said.

The mess officer was ordered to prepare as much food as he could. “Let us eat as much as we can,” said the Major. “Make it a 3-day supply.”

Meeting abruptly stopped by strafing planes.

I have a fever.


April 5, 1942 

Sunday. Easter. No rest from bombers all day. Evening a large thunderhead full of lightning up north put on quite a show. Really was something to watch. A bunch of new pilots came in in evening.


April 4, 1942

HQ, Bataan

 

 

The Americans in HPD are burning their papers. Others are packing their maps and clothes. They are transferring to Corregidor. This is a clear indication that our days here are numbered.

Courier boats leaving for Corregidor are packed with high-ranking officers transferring to the Rock. Personally I prefer to stick out here with the men.

The area around HPD, Limay, Lamao is burning. Huge trees are aflame. Craters pock-mark the shell-burnt earth. Hell has broken loose.

Balanga is obliterated. Not a single standing structure. Houses lie in crumbled ruins, mere piles of wood and stone.

The municipal building, the Cathedral, houses around the plaza have been seared by the fire of incendiaries. All along the trails leading to the front are huge bomb craters, gaping shell holes, corpses of brave men.

I saw three Jap planes hedge-hopping in airfield at Cabcaben then flying off again. Boys machinegunned the planes. Planes came back with bombs and killed the boys.

I saw an American driver turning his truck amid burning bushes. He was singing “Melancholy Baby.” I saw an American motorcycle-messenger weeping. “This is the end,” he told me.

 

(later)

 

The lines have broken. Japs with tanks, trucks penetrated the area between the 21st and 41st divisions at the Patingan River.

I saw Lt. Juan Fernandez, aide of Gen. Capinpin, of the 21st. He said: “I don’t know where Gen. Capinpin is. I can’t find him.” It is believed that the General either committed suicide or was captured by the Japs. The last time he was seen was in the very front, directing boys who could no long fire their enfields.

Saw troops, frontline men, retreating in disorder. Others had thrown their guns. No more bullets, they said. They were clinging to their bayonets.

Fred asked: “Where is the convoy?”

 

(later)

 

Sgt. Sinculan could not find her. Where is she? I hope nothing has happened to her.


April 4, 1942 

Bombers around most of the day. Up most of the night, alert in case of attack and bring plane in and out.

John Posten and Ray Gehrig brought the two P-35As in at Bataan Field from Mindanao at 7:15 a.m., the two ships loaded with candy, cigarettes, quinine, cigars, brandy, and mail. 


April 3, 1942

HQ, Bataan

 

Japs pounding the front heavily, continuously, mercilessly. The boys are standing firm, fighting with the littler strength left in their sick, hungry, weary, bloody bodies.

What is happening in Bataan today is phenomenal. Here are inexperienced youngsters –schoolboys, trainees, academy undergraduates– fighting veterans of many campaigns who are numerically and materially superior. “And,” adds the General, “stopping them!”

Saw truck after truck of the wounded, dying and dead being rushed to the hospitals. One truck stalled and the wounded had to be jammed in one of our jeeps. I saw the stalled truck parked near the curve of the HPD. Only the driver was there trying to fix the dust-covered engine. What I noticed on the seats of the truck sent a cold shudder in my spine: it was bathed with blood. Brave blood.

Met a QM officer, of one of the frontline divisions. We did not have a chance to talk for a long time. I shouted to him across the creek if he could still send supplies to the front. He just made a gesture with his hands and shook his head. That was more eloquent than words.

Met an artillery officer. He said most of the cannons have been blasted by bombs. “The end is near,” he said.

Leonie left for Corregidor. He could hardly walk. In his condition, with the bombing, it is better for him to go to the Rock.

 

(later)

 

Fred just arrived. Reported that the Hospital near the HPD was bombed. He said: “Many were killed.” I asked him “How many?” and he answered: “I don’t know. I just know there were many, very many.”

He said that he was visiting a friend when the Japs bombed the hospital. He said he ran to the left side in the direction of the road. Those who went towards the hillside ran to their deaths because there is were most of the bombs fell. “Up to now the hospital is burning,” he recounted.

Fred’s uniform was covered with mud and dust. He was visibly nervous not because of his narrow escape but because of the bloody sight he saw: wounded men rolling in the dust, others shouting with pain, many dying…