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.


February 3, 1942 

Scouts mopping up on Agl. Pt. Rumored that Japs broke through our line, no confirmation. Sqd’n put on alert

Dyess received new orders this day to take his men back to Quinauan Point to reinforce the 45th Philippine Scouts, who had been unable to wipe out the dug-in Japanese during their six days of fighting, even with the addition of three light Stuart tanks. That afternoon, Dyess reported in to the Executive Officer of the 45th, who briefed him and his men on the gravity of the situation. 


January 28, 1942 

Scouts in, a good looking bunch of men. Beat the brush and went back to our old camp. Clean clothes, bath, etc. sure good. Dyess made Capt. today. I’m sweating out silver bars.

This morning, the 21st Pursuits men were ordered back to their camp area, along with men of the Philippine Constabulary and Company A of the 803rd Aviation Engineers, who had proved ineffective in containing the Japanese at Quinauan. They were being relieved by the 500 men of the 3d Battalion, 45th Philippine Scouts, a crack unit of professional infantry. That evening Company B of the 57th Philippine Scouts joined them as reinforcements. 


January 27, 1942 

With own outfit today. In a secondary line for 1st time. Spotted Jap barges up coast, got 37 mm and shelled it. One meal and some sleep. The scouts are supposed to come in tomorrow.

Another landing of Japanese had been made the night before on the promontory area between Silaiiam and Anyasan Bays. The men of the 17th Pursuit Squadron were sent in to oppose the 200 men. 


Dec. 25, 1941

At seven oclock Lt Gasperini and I started for the top of the Mt. The worst hiking I have ever done. Several times I was just all in. The old pump just would not work. Finally I sent Gasperini on. Told him to leave me and take care of himself. Ten minutes short of Jorgensens I gave up. Layed on the trail an hour when Capt Jacobs and two men came down to meet me. Was somewhat rested and went on to Jorgensens, just seven and a half minutes away. Was just all in. realized that I was no longer a young man. Upon arriving there I found that I was nearly the first one of the 43rd there. The others were the Amer QMC det and WPPS boys. Maj Fellows, Lt Simpson, Lt Jensen went on right away with fourteen Americans. I told all American officers and enlisted men to go on ahead an I would stay with the PS det. The next morning Major Allen, Capt Jacobs and most of the Amer EM went on. Had Christmas dinner with Jorgensens that night. Also Miss Bradley, Miss Chambers, Capt Praeger and Lt Jones. We slept on the ground that night as we did the night before.


Dec. 24, 1941

Received word from USAFFE to Sabe your command. Take to Mt. Trails” ordered Col Bonnett to take all PA troops with him to Bobok by motor, thence over the easy ten percent old Spanish trail to Aritao where buses would meet him. He should have arrived there by the 27th. Hope he made it. I personally took the CJH personnel to Itogan and thence down the Agno River and up the Mt. to the Jorgensen saw mill on Mt. Lusod. I sent the Americans officers and Enlisted men ahead and waited for the 43rd to come in from Kennon rd and Naguilian trails. When Co A was ready and Co B distributing their loads I started off with Lt. Gasperini. The trail was not bad as far as the Agno. Then it was sure hell. Straight up an old Igorote trail. There was a ten percent easy new trail but it was pitch dark and we could not find it. Our group hiked until 6:00 AM when we reached the first piers of the cable way from Station D. Heall Lumber Co. Here we found Maj Fellows, Lt. Simpson, and Lt Jensen. They had been sleeping since midnight. (They went on and our group spent an hour or two sleeping.


July 16, 1939

Have brought home a typewriter with the idea of using it hereafter in letter writing and in making these notes. Dictation to Filipino stenographers is not only frequently irritating and patience trying; it often prevents free expression of opinions because so many subjects seem to involve evaluation of racial characteristics. For a long time I’ve been trying to jot down an occasional note in longhand, but when I found the other day that in certain cases I could not decipher my own writing I decided the time had come to do something about it.

During May so many difficulties arose involving misunderstandings with, or at least, lack of effective contacts with Malacañan, that Secretary Vargas finally took the bull by the horns and insisted that I undertake my old liaison job. So now I go there every day.

While I doubt we can ever again get things running in their old time smoothness, we are at least spared many embarrassments and irritations that were habitual when our contacts with that office consisted only in seeing the papers that were sent to our office daily through a junior clerk.

A couple of weeks ago the General published a statement setting forth his views with respect to the “Jap” menace to the Philippines. So far as anyone could see there was no excuse for the outbreak except that Gov. McNutt had said, in support of his contention that the U.S. should hold on [to] the Islands, that upon independence they would immediately fall prey to the military might of the Japs. The General not only argued that the defenses of the islands would be effective; he rather pooh-poohed the possibility of a Japanese aggression in this region. TJ and I, as usual, recommended against breaking into print; as, as usual, to no effect. Locally, we have seen but one American newspaper comment on the statement. The N.Y. Tribune ridiculed it. When he was insisting that his statement HAD to be published the General discounted the idea that the possibility of antagonizing Mr. McNutt would have any effect on his acknowledged political ambitions because he had decided that the High Commissioner was not going anywhere, and, he concluded, the statement would be acclaimed locally among the politicians; renewing his own popularity and cementing his hold upon his job.

A week after the above incident the news came out that Gov. McNutt had accepted an important political job at home under the auspices of the New Deal. This act, in the General’s opinion, immeasurably strengthened the Gov’s political standing, so, post-haste he got off a flowery letter of congratulations, hoping desperately the Gov. would not read anything personal in his argumentative statement of a week earlier.

Two days ago the evening broadcast contained an item to the effect that Congressman Kennedy was recommending to Pres. Roosevelt the appointment of the Gen. as High Commissioner. Burning to secure some political job that would restore the power, prestige and face that he has lost during the past four years through ego, laziness and stupidity the Gen. immediately undertook, characteristically, some of the machinations that he conceives to be clever. He wired Steve Early, Congressman Van Zandt, and Simpson, a newspaper man, asking their support.

Since the wires went through the department (by no chance would he spend the money for commercial dispatch) every officer of the Dept. Staff will immediately know that he is in the position of importuning for a job. Assuming that he will not get it, although it is perfectly true that four years ago the Pres. announced to him an intention of making the appointment at that time, there will be an additional number of people here who will feel entitled to sneer at his connivings, and will read, between the lines, that he is getting fearful and discontented in his present job. It’s his business, exclusively, but I get exceedingly tired of defending him in front of personal critics for words and deeds that I consider as stupid as they do. Ho-hum.

One reason that the Military Adviser’s post has lost for him some of its former attractiveness is continued proof that he is losing influence and prestige, that no longer may he announce an arbitrary decision and see it accepted as the law of the Medes and Persians by the President and the Army. Almost four years ago poor old Jim and I tried to make him see that the price of staying at the top of the heap was eternal watchfulness and, above all, so conducting himself and his job as to inspire confidence and a dependence upon him for important information and decisions. We begged him to arrange a weekly meeting with the President, so that there would not grow up a tendency on the part of the President to depend upon others. He ridiculed us. He was then riding so high that his favorite description of himself was the “Elder Statesman”. He informed us that it was not in keeping with the dignity of his position for him to report once a week to Malacañan.

While I was home last summer the Scout question came to the fore once more, and the General’s decisions and attitude were so unsatisfactory to the Scouts that many of them left us and went back to the American Army. At that time he succeeded in working up the President to the point where the latter believed in a “scout cabal seeking the eventual seizure of the government a la Cuba!” So–with a supposedly decisive victory, one that clearly re-established his power and prestige, the General felt that all was clear on his horizon. But the Scouts did not quit… As time went on they kept dinning away until the Pres. got another slant on the whole affair. Finally in a public speech, that is, it was public so far as the officers of the Army were concerned, the Pres. announced that he was misinformed as to the fact at the time he expressed a desire to get rid of the Scouts, that he had acted hastily, that he regretted his statements and decisions of that time and he would seek to correct them. The General was present when all this was said, and I think it was really the first time that he clearly realized how far we had come from the days when the merest expression of his “professional opinion” served to enlist enthusiastic and universal support for any and all of his schemes.

Of course, to those of us that were close to events, and not concerned with our own future fortunes, nor blinded by illusions of glittering grandeur the trend had been plainly visible for months. But such indications as had come to the Gen. previously had, in his opinion, been discernable to no one else, consequently he had, he thought, lost no FACE. For a man of his type, the answer was to ignore them. This he did… but now, under the lash of practically public repudiation on a particular incident, he writhes. Just as, in his own mind, he was formerly higher in public prestige and official position than he was in reality (although lord knows he was high enough) so now he really believes himself to be closer to disaster than he is. Mr. Q. is not going to let him go… he cannot afford to except as a voluntary act on the part of the Gen. or as a result of almost open insubordination. He, the Pres., has too often tied his administration and his govt. to the PLANS and ADVICE of the Gen., and done this publicly and emphatically, to cut him suddenly adrift.

And that is enough of all that.

A few weeks ago I received WD orders to go to Ft. Lewis upon expiration of my tour. The question of the official terminating date was taken directly to the CoS by the AG, according to personal advices from Jim Ulio,  and it was decided to shorten my tour to November at the latest. I was further authorized, if I could arrange with local officials, to come home in August. All this came about as a result of letters I wrote to Jim Ulio, because for many reasons Mamie and I were looking with longing eyes to our return date. It turned out to be impracticable to get away in August, but we are going in November.

John’s schooling presented a problem, but we finally agreed to keep him right here and bring him home with us in the fall.

We are delighted with the Ft. Lewis prospect. We believe we’ll like the place thoroughly. Be a little tough to give up 500 dollars a month… but that had to end soon anyway.