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 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 10, 1942

HQ, MIS, Bataan

Life is getting harder and harder. Morning ration reduced to one handful of ‘lugao’.

Sometimes carabao meat is given. It is made into ‘tapa’ so that the rest can be preserved for some other day.

The mess officer told me that very soon we will have horse-meat for viand. The QM will slaughter the remaining horses of the 26th cavalry. I don’t think I can eat those brave horses.

Bombing has been intensified. Raids are more frequent. Rest periods between raids are shorter and shorter.

More men stricken with malaria and dystentery. Many shell-shocked cases. Several dozen cases of appendicitis and many tuberculosis patients.

Morale visibly on the downgrade. Officers greet fellow officers with remark: “What, is there any hope yet of the convoy?”

Reports from front indicate that the boys there are suffering from blindness especially at night due to lack of vitamins.

Men are weary, exhausted. They work all day and they also act as sentries at night. Men have only several hours of sleep. Sometimes two or three only.

We officers do double, triple work. Many officers are sick, others have died.

Gasoline shortage. Use of trucks and cars are limited. Horses that are not eaten will be used to help out in the transportation problem.

No more quinine. Medicine bottles in hospital are empty. Doctors are working day and night. Wounded have increased.

Paper for SYIM publication very limited. Practically no more stencils. Food for evacuees cut down. One civilian in evacuee camp committed suicide.

Japs continue dropping surrender-leaflets. They have changed technique. Behind surrender-leaflets, they print the picture of a naked ‘mestiza’. Still no cases of desertion.

Fred thinks “It’ll take a long time for the convoy to arrive”. “There is no use deluding ourselves,” he says.

Some of the officers believe Hart’s fleet was beaten in naval battle around Macassar strait.

Others think convoy will be diverted to Australia.

Still others cling to distant hope of war between Japan and Russia.

Very few believe the convoy will be here in a few weeks.

Some think –very few of them– that “we will all die here.”

Japs have given ultimatum urging immediate, unconditional surrender –or else.

We have chosen the: or else.

(later)

Visited her again. She helps one forget this blasted war.

We sat again under the cenniguela tree but I couldn’t stay there for more than an hour.

Fred and Leonie visited the other girl. They will rival each other. They had better make an agreement: one day Leonie, one day Fred.

When Major Javallera found out, he complained. Told Fred: “That’s my territory.”

“That’s all right, sir,” said Fred. “Don’t you believe in Communism? What’s mine is yours and what’s yours is mine?”

“Stand for private property,” said the Major.

“Abuse of authority, sir,” ventured Fred jokingly.

The Major replied: “All’s fair in love and war.”


March 6, 1942

HQ, MIS, Bataan

Could not see her today. Could not leave the HQ. Too much bombing.

Sgt. Sinculan thinks the bombs were dropped near the evacuee camp. She might have been hit. I hope not. Will go there early tomorrow.

Had carabao’s meat today with the rice. Lt. Tatco, mess officer, was able to shoot a carabao in one of the streams of Mt. Mariveles. We fried the meat and it was delicious.

Fred opened a bottle of rhum he received from an American officer. We drank during the bombardment and it calmed our nerves.

Felt so helpless as Japs flew very low strafing and bombing at will.

Many were wounded. Many trucks outside hospital. We are like rats. Worse.

Major Montserrat is very ill. The doc says he may die.

Listened to Voice of Freedom. Its words sounded hollow after terrific bombardment. When, when, when will the convoy arrive? Will it ever arrive? If it won’t, they why don’t they tell us? If it will, is it military secrecy that keeps them from telling us? Nope, it won’t arrive any more. They can’t pass thru the Jap blockade. They can’t go beyond Macassar strait. Roosevelt was not clear about helping us in his speech. Yes, it will arrive. America is such a great nation. Her factories have stopped building cars. Nothing but planes, planes, planes. They will darken the skies with their planes. The Japs will see. Hell, where are the planes? We are like rats here, running under the ground, living in dug-outs and fox-holes, bombed morning and afternoon and night and morning again. Where is the convoy? And what about the food? Sure, its easy to say “keep on fighting” but you can’t fight without food on your stomach. Wasn’t it Napoleon who said an army marches on its stomach? They boys in the front have been there for more than 60 days without replacement, without rest, without food, food, FOOD. Yes, Voice of Freedom why don’t you answer these questions? That’s what we’d like to know. Words can’t feed us. Words, words, words. Day by day, more and more die. Die of sickness. Die of hunger. Die of bombs. Die of shells. Die of bullets. Die, Die, Die. This can’t go on forever. We are human beings. Do you hear Voice of Freedom, “we are human beings”? You can’t keep matching flesh against steel? Oh hell, what am I thinking about. Sure, help’s coming. Roosevelt said so. America is not going to let us down. The eyes of the world are on us. The whole of humanity is watching us keep up the torch in this orient that’s fast getting enveloped by darkness. This is something worth dying for! Yes, I’m going to die. I am not going to see home anymore. Not going to see mama, papa and……, hell, hell, hell, what am I thinking about… O Lord!

Raid again.


March 4, 1942

HQ, MIS, Bataan

 

Back from patrol. Reconnoitered in Balanga. Met  several Jap patrols. Japs not there in force.

We were very careful. Kept away from beach. Balanga church was destroyed by our artillery. Did not enter church. There might have been Japs inside.

General refuses to believe there are no Japs in Balanga. I told him there are only Jap patrols, nothing more. He shook his head. Felt like telling him: “If you don’t believe me, why the hell don’t you go there yourself.”

Encountered a squad of Japs who were lying near a nipa shack when we were returning to our lines. It was late afternoon and we had not yet eaten the whole day and we were going to eat in the nipa shack.

Sgt. Sinculan noticed that they were aiming at us. We fired first. They had rifles only. We had a Browning automatic. We were better armed but they outnumbered us.

I emplaced my men behind a fallen log with a thick trunk. I could hear the officer shouting loudly and the soldiers were also shouting. We remained silent.

Suddenly, they all shouted and advanced. Told men not to fire until they passed the other fallen tree before the log where we were emplaced. When they climbed over it, Sgt. Sinculan opened up with the Browning. Two fell. The others kept firing. Meanwhile six crept to our flank. I noticed it and I moved three men to our left. Sgt. Sinculan said that we had better retreat because they were more than thirty and we were only ten. Besides one of our privates was being attacked by malaria, making our effectives only nine.

I told the men to retreat slowly to the cogon but I shouted loudly to mislead the Japs “Attack men!” and everybody shouted with me and we fired and retreated. Then I felt something warm pierce my thigh but I did not feel much pain. Sinculan and I were wounded.

When we retreated, the Japs left us alone. Thought I would be nervous face-t0-face with Japs but now I know one has no time to be nervous during combat.

Will write about this patrol work someday.

 

(later)

 

Major Javallera opined the Japs will probably put their main effort on the western sector. He also could not believe that there were hardly any Japs in Balanga. “Japs are probably up to something,” he opined.

“Are you sure of what you are reporting?” he asked again.

“We walked through the plaza and the school house and then near the broken bridge and we entered the town and there were no Japs in force, only occasional patrols,” I said emphatically.

He said “You can have a week’s rest, even if your wound is very small.” He gave me three cans of guava jelly, hooray. He is quite a good guy.

Will visit my Pampangueña friend. Fred and Leonie were not allowed to go out during last few days because there was too much work.

The general said I am careless that is why I was hit. He always scolds me, but I know he likes me inside.

All in all, he is also O.K.


March 1, 1942

Bataan, MIS, HQ

Col. Torralba said the general stated that my resignation is not accepted and that I’d better attend to his papers more diligently.

Raids morning and afternoon. One incendiary bomb dropped a few feet away from the doctor’s tent. Nobody injured.

Sergeant Buenaventura and Sergeant Sulao quarreled with each other. I thought they were good friends. I guess friendship ends where a can of Carnation begins.

The doctor wants to shoot Major Javallera. He claims the major spoke ill about him before Lts. Palo and Maceda.

The boys are rather gloomy. Tired of waiting for the convoy. I still have hopes but everybody’s nerves are jumpy.

Will go on patrol duty in front tomorrow. Will find out if there are Japs in Balanga. Conflicting reports.

Went to evacuee camp near Hospital II with Major Javallera. The major wanted to introduce me to two nice girls. Only one was there and she was very shapely. Made me feel like whistling. Surely a sight for sore eyes. She was wearing khaki shorts, woo, woo.

We sat in their nipa shack on the floor. She showed me some of her pictures. She is from Pampanga. Pampangueñas have nice skin.

We played an old record in an old phonograph. I think the name of the piece was “On the telephone” or “All alone”.

She had a nice accent when speaking Tagalog. I told her how to teaxh me to say “I think you are beautiful” in Pampango.

I also asked her to translate: “Will you please hold hands with a tired soldier.”

She asked me to button the back of her shirt. The Major saw me and he said jokingly “Mabilis ka naman”. I was embarrassed but she was more embarrassed. I tried to explain that she asked me to button the back of her shirt because she could not reach it. But the major insisted on joking. Then he said: “Never mind, enjoy yourself. Anyway tomorrow you are going to No Man’s Land.”

When she heard this she became nicer to me but I lost all my interest because I was worried about tomorrow’s assignment.

Fred and Leonie will visit her tomorrow.

Will talk to men that will go to front with me. I am happy that Sgt. Sinculan will go too because he is a sharp shooter.

Javallera told me not to worry because my mission is reconnaissance, not combat. I told him “Who’s worried anyway?”

Told Leonie and Fred that the Pampangueña is very beautiful, like Dorothy Lamour. They can’t wait for tomorrow. I said her shorts were very short. Fred started to yell. Leonie said: “Shut up, this is not the U.P. campus.” Fred got sore. “I’m the ranking officer around here.” We all kept quiet. He was angry.

Forgot to ask the Pampangueña her name.


February 28, 1942

Bataan, HQ, MIS

Non-stop bombing. Spent day going in and out of dug-out. If they bomb some more, I will not go to dug-out anymore.

Hungry. A handful of lugao is not enough. We are fed like chickens and we live like rats –underground.

Quarreled with Fred over the use of my towel. Silly thing. Guess we are all somewhat nervous. Nerves all on edge.

Mass will be said in our CP tomorrow morning. It’s about time. What we can’t get with guns, we might have through prayers. I will pray for cheese.

Intense fighting in eastern front. Jap thrusts in Capinpin’s sector stopped.

Checked up instructions to operations going to Nueva Ecija and Lingayen.

Bawled out by General. He claims I didn’t keep all his papers in order. “What kind of an aide are you?” he asked.

Wrote him letter of resignation. Asked for assignment to front. Fred tried to stop me. So did Leonie. They are good friends. I don’t give a damn what the general does about my resignation. He makes me sick.

Finished the rest of brandy with Fred and Leonie. Fred started talking of old days with coeds in U.P. He revealed a lot of ‘green’ incidents in U.P. campus. Nothing like co-education. Leonie started singing “We are in the Army Now.” Drinking orgy stopped by arrival of some civilians for questioning, heck.

I’ve finished questioning the fellow given to me. Leonie is still in the dug-out questioning the old man who was wearing a red shirt. He is typing with a candle on one hand. Wottalife!

(later)

Henceforth, supper will be called the “salmon-hour”, according to Lt. Tatco, mess officer. To hell with Salmon!


February 27, 1942

Corregidor

Went to one of the coast batteries. Men were cleaning their guns. The officer in charge said the Japs would not try a frontal attack on the Rock. He also said that Corregidor could stand a six-month siege, as long as the water-tank is not destroyed.

Our conversation was interrupted by an air-raid.

Jap convoy in Subic Bay was bombed by 2 of our P-40’s. Hooray!

Corregidor

(later)

Drank half a bottle of brandy. Will bring other half to Bataan for Leonie and Fred. It’s no good drinking alone. Misery and drinking loves company.

Saw Vic. He said he had a tiff with an American officer. Some of them have race-prejudice, hell.


February 24, 1942

HQ, Bataan

 

Bert Misa and Saturn Velasco were here a few minutes ago. Touching sight. They looked like lost souls: thin, haggard, dirty, hungry, sunburnt. They joined as buck privates and they have to swallow everything their sergeant tells them. A private’s life is a dog’s life. Their sector is Limay beach. The poor fellows are being subjected to bombing and strafing every morning and afternoon and they only rest at night. They said: “We live underground most of the time.”

They said that Torre and Gregg are with them. Both fellows are also from Ateneo. Bert asked for a “little bit of sugar.” They complained that their daily food is nothing but salmon and lugao.

The other day Saturn found an egg. Everybody was happy but it was not enough for all of them. So they decided nobody was going to eat it.

Bert said that they pray the rosary every night. They gather all the fellows from school and those that care to join and then they pray the rosary. Gives them strength.

“After a bombardment,” Saturn said, “each one calls out for the name of the others, just to see if all are still alive.”

School-mates become more attached to each other here.

 

(later)

 

In staff meeting after dinner, the General said Japs are attempting to break through eastern sector. He stated that Japs emplaced cannons on barges pulled by motor boats and started shelling eastern shore.

Four raids this morning and three raids this afternoon. Right now there are planes flying but no bombs have been dropped yet. Our AA guns are still silent. Maybe waiting for them to fly lower.

Fred and Leonie are discussing about race prejudice. Some Americans here are too damned cocky.

 

(later)

 

Am officer of the night. Must post the sentinels.

Tried to write an article on Bataan. Couldn’t even get started.

Norman now speaking over Voice of Freedom. He reads the pep talk.

Leonie writing a radio drama. Romulo wants Vero Perfecto, Leoni, Norman and I to take part in a script depicting Bataan life in front.

Will write a script for Voice of Freedom. Will ask Leonie to fix it up.

Feeling hungry. Will pay P1,000 for a tenderloin steak. I don’t know why but I always think of steaks. Would love a cheese sandwich too.

Fred is calling Leonie and I. He says he was able to swipe a can of Condensed Milk from Major Panopio’s private supply. This will be a party, hooray.