April 2, 1942

HQ, MIS, BATAAN

This place has turned into hell. The Japs are battering the lines from morning to evening, pounding the front from the air with high explosives. rushing the front with tanks and flame-throwers under cover of ceaseless artillery fire.

The rear areas are being subjected to inch-by-inch bombardment. Several AA guns have been silenced. Gasoline and oil supplies are aflame. Parts of the jungle are burning, presenting a weird light at night. Corpses strewn by the roadside staring up at the sky.

Corregidor too is rocking with bombs. We can see columns of smoke rising out of the Rock. We can feel the detonation here when bombs are dropped in Corregidor. The Rock looks like a blazing boulder.

We had no rice today as the mess officer did not dare build a fire. We only had canned goods. ate one sardine for brunch and one salmon for supper. It was like medicine. Had to follow it up with water.

Leonie is very ill. I am afraid he will die if he does not get medical assistance. Romulo said by phone that it would be better to send Leonie to the hospital in the Rock.

Leonie and I have written a plan for the establishment of an underground broadcasting station to operate in enemy-territory to continue the Voice of Freedom in case Bataan and Corregidor fall.

We addressed the plan to Romulo who is in charge of the Voice of Freedom. Romulo said he would take the matter up to the staff in the Rock.

Our plan consisted in putting up a moving radio station to broadcast in Luzon in case the Japs overrun Bataan and Corregidor.

We offered to operate the radio and to broadcast if the plan is approved. Proposed site of station was the island of Talim, in the heart of Laguna de Bay. Operatives have reported that Talim is not yet occupied by Japs.

Received letter from Romulo stating “Roxas will return to Corregidor to join us in the crucial hr.”


April 2, 1942 

Did not do much all day, but was up all night, bringing in and sending out ships. The 21st and 34th are now officially in Australia. Don’t know what that makes us.

Other sources indicate that it was the night of March 31/April 1, rather than April 1/2, when it was like “Grand Central Station” at Bataan Field, with the Beechcraft Staggerwing of the Bamboo Fleet flying in from Mindanao and back out again, the Stearman 76D3 taking two passengers south, and the Grumman Duck taking three of the Detachment pilots to Mindanao where two of them were to fly the two P-35As–flown down to Mindanao on January 11th–back to Bataan. 


April 2, 1942

Heard a good one. A Japanese soldier lost his way in Pampanga. He asked a farmer: “Which is the road to Bataan?” The farmer told him to take the highway on his right and then to turn left when he sees a mountain. The soldier expressed his gratitude and then asked: “By the way, which is the way back?” And the farmer naively answered: “Never mind that, soldier. Where you are going, there is no going back.”


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 30, 1942 

Spent day at C. on alert. Saw a large Jap bomber hit by AA. Spun from about 25,000. Was an awe-inspiring sight. Sure feel sorry for poor devils in it. The nights sure are beautiful, moon and a few clouds.

In response to a report on March 28th that the Japanese were planning a landing on the east coast of Bataan, Dyess was maintaining three pilots on alert at Bataan and Cabcaben fields, day and night, ready to move the remaining two P-40s down to Mariveles if a landing materialized.