April 1, 1942

HQ, MIS, BATAAN

 

Awakened by “Photo Joe”. Name given to Jap observation plane by Bataan boys is “Photo Joe”. Leonie said: “That means bombing around ‘brunch’ time.” Fred, usually more grim, said: “That also means deaths.”

Major Javallera who was O.D. said that there was continous artillery firing the whole night. “It must be hell at the front,” he remarked.

After brunch, I prepared to go to the eastern sector. While crossing the stream to the Motor Pool, Jap planes commenced bombardment.

Japs were throwing small bombs, a lot of them. At first, I thought they were leaflets. But when I heard the swishing sounds and the detonations, I ran to a ditch near the traffic officer at the foot of the bridge in Base Camp.

Several bombs dropped near the trucks parked under the trees at the curve of the stream. One exploded a few meters away from the Igorot chauffeur. I saw him shaking and pouring water over his head. Men have funny reactions to a bombardment.

I rode on one of the jeeps. Had to stop three times because of strafing planes. Around Limay, I did not notice a low-flying Jap plane until I saw a truck full of Americans put on the brakes and stop dead in its tracks and all the soldiers jumped out and took cover under the brushes along the road. My chauffeur jammed the brakes and I dove into a bush. The U.S. truck was hit by five .mg bullets but it was able to run because the meter was not hit at all.

Saw the Limay schoolhouse burning, it was hit by incendiaries. An officer stopped our jeep and he asked for a ride till the next intersection. He said the Japs have a system of rotating cannons so that they do not stop pounding our lines. They are sending wave after wave of fresh troops and it was a question of time for the lines to break. I remember the General’s statement about the limit of human endurance. The officer said: “We kill and kill but more and more came…”

Scouts have been placed on the eastern sector. The Philippine Scouts have a fine record. One officer of high rank said that if all troops in Bataan were as well-trained as the Scouts, the Japs would have a very much harder time.

Bulk of troops in main-line however are mostly ROTC boys, cadre-trainees and volunteers. They are not professional soldiers like the scouts. But after all these months of fighting, they have gained valuable experience and according to an American officer from West Point “they are behaving like seasoned troops, like veterans.”

Saw several stragglers. They can’t find their units. Some said they belonged to the 41st, others to the 51st, others to the 31st. My driver said “those are running away from the fighting.”

The sight of those five or six stragglers reminded me of the retreat from the northern front in Pangasinan. When the fighting there was getting very hot, the divisions who were still new, started to get disorganized and many of the troops were lost. “Bad sign,” I said to myself.

On the way to one of the trails leading to the front, our jeep ran out of gas. I stayed on the roadside till dark waiting for someone who would be kind enough to share a bit of fuel. Slept an hour and when I woke up I was covered with dust.

There is no doubt by now that the Japanese are putting their “main effort” on the center of the front line, between the divisions of Gens. Capinpin and Lim. They are trying to drive a wedge where the two divisions meet. Here the maximum amount of fire power is being concentrated and although I have not noticed any sign of the lines folding in this region, when it does break it will be sudden and rapid, like a dam that suddenly cracks, and there will be a stream of blood.


April 1, 1942

A friend of mine was shocked. He was standing near one of the Japanese garrisons in Manila. He saw a major entering the gate and all the soldiers stood at attention. The major was his former gardener.

Preparations are being made for the next rice planting season. The Bureau of Plant Industry is in charge of the production campaign. They have formulated plans towards increased production. Contrary to the general opinion, the NARIC has nothing to do with planting. We only take care of procurement and distribution.

Planes have been active the whole day. It is midnight and I can hear their droning. My chauffeur said he saw ten truckloads of Japanese dead passing through Avenida Rizal last night There must be heavy fighting in Bataan.

Sumatra is now completely under Japanese control, according to Domei. Half of the captured enemy troops were Dutch and British, according to the report. The Japanese sun is rising higher and higher. When shall it set?


March 31, 1942

HQ, MIS, Bataan

 

 

Terrific day. Heavy fighting in front. Fred sent to west sector. I went to east. Spent day observing progress of battle.

Japs raining bombs on front line, powdering every inch of ground. Our artillery can only fire occasionally because of continuous presence of Jap planes.

Japs trying to break line with artillery fire supporting tank formations. Boys holding out with machine-guns and mines laid in front area. Japs have broken part of barbed wire but cannot penetrate.

Many casualties on both sides. Japs are also using flame-throwers. Incendiaries are being dropped on the rear.

Trucks carrying food cannot go to the line. Dumps are being bombed with out let-up. Any truck or car on any trail or road is machine-gunned. Even trucks carrying wounded cannot move.

U.S. tanks rushed to eastern sector. Japs will undoubtedly try to break through the east, perhaps in the very center of the front line, in the Patingan river.

If line breaks, it is the end for all of us. No more reserve line. Boys must hold and fight at all cost or all is lost.

Had to stop car two times because of strafing Jap planes. One bullet hit the running board neat the chauffeur.

Fred reports that Japs are also putting pressure on the west. But it is agreed that attacks on the west are just diversionary attacks. Main thrust will be in the east or perhaps in the very center, followed by a double envelopment maneuver.

Area in front of line has been partially mined. Several lines of barbed wire have been emplaced. Our artillery is ready for advancing Jap tanks. Huge clouds of dust in the front.

The zero hour has begun.


March 27, 1942

HQ, MIS, Bataan

 

Japs have dropped Tribunes carrying story Quezon had died in Iloilo. Everybody had a good laugh. Everybody knows that Quezon is safe in Australia.

Operatives in Manila report that Japs are befriending Indians. The case of India will always be a sore mark in the fight of Britain and America for the four freedoms. Churchill can’t talk of liberty and freedom while 400 million Indians, 1/5th of humanity groan under the British lash. I was sure the Japs will exploit this fact to the limit.

Reports from Manila indicate that people cooperating with Japs are severely criticized. American fears that Japs might win over Filipinos are unfounded. The last cochero hates the Japs. Japs have started off with wrong foot in Manila by committing abuses. Filipinos cannot stand slapping.

Morale of Manilans very high. They have faith that Americans will surely send the convoy very soon. A small minority believe there is no more hope for return of Americans.

Some boys are complaining about Americans who have race-prejudice.

 

(later)

 

Contact established with guerrilla group that has sprung up in Nueva Vizcaya, under Major Thorpe and Lt. Nakar. Nakar belongs to the 71st. He was cut off from retreat to Bataan. So he went to hills of Nueva Vizcaya.

An operative has arrived from Ilocos. He said he talked with Buenaventura Bello. Bello was reported killed by Japs when they landed in Vigan because he did not like to lower the U.S. flag. Manila newspapermen must have invented this story.

Three raids today. Only two casualties.


March 25, 1942

Another man arrived from Bataan. Said he was Philip’s sergeant. He was sunburnt and thin and sick with malaria. “Do not worry about Phil,” he said. He would not stay for dinner. We asked him if Philip was sick “No,” he replied, he is all right.” Vic, my other boy, wanted to go with him. “One in the family is enough,” he replied. He was a very cheerful fellow. I can still remember his smile. He was like a ray of sunshine on a cloudy day.


March 14, 1942

Presented my resignation verbally to Mr. Noya. Was “asked” to remain. Insistence on my resignation will be considered a hostile act by the Military.

Another Japanese raised his hand to one of the Filipino employees. He caught the Filipino lying.

The auditors of the Accounting Division will be eliminated. The Army will do the auditing.

Pictures in the Tribune of Japanese soldiers carrying Filipino babies and distributing candies to children. That is not the way to attract the Filipino people. They do not believe everything they read in the papers. What happens to them and to their friends is what remains in their hearts.

Rumor (is) that reinforcements have arrived in Bataan. A friend said he heard over the Voice of Freedom the news that the USAFFE has started an offensive. Rumors that the present commander-in-chief may be removed because of his inability to crack Bataan defenses. Several young boys took a banca at Hagonoy and rowed to Bataan. They want to do their part.

These are the youths of Rizal’s dream.


March 13, 1942

Bataan, MIS, HQ

Went to an artillery battery. Watched them shell Japs. Beautiful sight. Terrific noise. Ground shook like a banca. Felt concussion in my chest. Saw smoke on enemy lines. Like powder puffs at first. Then tall columns of dust rising like thin, high, fountains. Shelling stopped when Jap planes hovered above, so as not to expose positions. Several Jap trucks were hit.

Artillery boys deserve main credit for inflicting main number of casualties on Japs. Without them Bataan would not be Bataan. Japs would have been able to easily penetrate our infantry. But our artillery is wreaking havoc on Japs attempting to push through our lines.

Boys in artillery very nonchalant. They work efficiently. Their morale is high. Jap planes consider them principal target.

Our 1:55’s and 75’s very feared by Japs. Operatives from Manila report that Japs in Manila when referring to Bataan artillery say: “Rupa, turu, kuru!” meaning “the earth boils or sizzles”.

One artillery officer who was sleeping throughout bombardment said:

“Sergeant, when shall we start firing?”

The sergeant replied: “We’ve just fired, sir.”

(later)

Heard story of a Filipino sergeant who escaped from the hospital to continue fighting in the front –very brave fellow. If all were like him.

(later)

Went to Signal Corps unit. Listened to KGEI broadcast from Fairmont Hotel. Looks like the whole world is talking about Bataan.

Told this to Fred. He said: “Hell, why don’t they send us the convoy? A lot of talking won’t do any good.”

Fred described western front. He was there all day yesterday observing Jap movements. He aid Japs fired artillery for six hours without stop. He also said some of our own shells dropped in our lines. Unfortunately, some of our boys were killed and injured until range was corrected.

Must stop writing. I feel the shivers coming. I have no more quinine.

More trouble from Tio Phil.

(later)

Personally received a report that in Nueva Ecija Tio Phil is rumored as a “Pro-Jap”. Told the General to give me some mission beyond the call of duty to make up for this thing. The General said he did not believe the report but nevertheless “I trust and like you.” Thanks, I said.


March 11, 1942

HQ, MIS, Bataan

Japs attempting to penetrate western sector by putting pressure on 1st regular division. Continuous artillery bombardment in eastern front. Three raids this morning in rear areas. Rodriguez Park and Cabcaben dock subjected to intense bombing.

Saw many planes flying in direction of the Rock. On their return, they strafed Mariveles airfield.

Laborers still levelling Mariveles Field. Giant derricks rearing in eastern side of field all day. Do they still expect planes?

Boys fired at a low-flying plane near HPD. The plane turned out to be one of our fighters. We still have four.

Saw several tanks and anti-tanks moving towards eastern front. What does that mean?

(later)

Major Javallera is a dull fellow.

He was insisting that the Pampangueña he visits is nicer than the one I visit because “she is better built, curvier, you know…”

I said that the Pampangueña I visit is more intelligent and entertaining and her features are finer and proportionate.

He said: “Ah, I like a curvy body, with lots of dynamite”. “Like that!” he gestured with his hands, indicating the hips.

I said: “The trouble with you Major is that you have no esthetic sense.”

He answered: ” Of course not, I’m not a radio. What you mean –static?”

Those listening laughed.

The Major laughed too but he did not know why.

Gatas Santos is here. Will bring him to rock.


March 10, 1942

Ferrer released. Was badly manhandled.

Mateo Borja and Isias Pacheco arrived this morning after surveying the Bicol region. Reported: a good harvest in Camarines Sur, around 2,000,000 cavans of palay. Price: ₱2.00—₱2.20. In Albay, the NARIC branch was looted. ₱400 was stolen from the safe. But a balance of ₱8,000 remains in the Legaspi branch of the Philippine National Bank.

Charlie Hollman arrived from Calumpit. Said several girls were abused. Part of his clothes were looted. Some soldiers took a fancy to his shirts. One officer took his car (and) gave him a receipt in Japanese scrawl.

Java has fallen after nine days of fighting. Bataan still holds. I am proud of our boys.

Vargas cannot help Pagu. Expressed his regrets. Nobody may interfere with the Military Police. The Japanese themselves are afraid.

On my way home, saw them looking out of their windows, as they were. Noticed men gazing and giggling. The women passing by refused to look. There was a pretty one.

Distance and carelessness lend enchantment to the view.