Halleluyah, we are spending our first Christmas in two years quietly and frugally as dictated by the time. Last night we heard midnight mass by Belgian Fr. Lambrecht at Bayombong Church overflowing. Today, with the economy going from bad to worst, at least we have a semblance of Xmas minus the usual gifts. Even prime commodities are getting scarcer and expensive as the Japanese occupation forces are living on the land, none coming from Japan or abroad. They get priority on supply of foodstuff and other prime commodities.
As I looked back, Christmas 1941 did not exist for us USAFFE members who were on the run then. The alert orders for the Q-Boats to proceed to Lingayen was changed Dec 24,1941 to escort SS Mayon in evacuating the seat of government led by Pres. M. Quezon and High Commissioner F. Sayre from Manila to Corregidor. Gen. MacArthur declared Manila an Open City with USAFFE HQ and USN 16th Naval District also transferring to Corregidor. The Japanese forces had landed in Lingayen Gulf and Lamon Bay three days ago and War Plan Orange was ordered, that all troops retreat to Bataan. The US Asiatic Fleet abandoned us leaving our naval defense to nine Motor Torpedo Boats (3 Phil Q-Boats and 6 US PT Boats). Our Q-Boats were occupied with the transfer of seat of gov’t for a week. Christmas 1941 went unnoticed. At least we have Christmas 1942 and hope we will celebrate a better Christmas 1943. We can only hope and pray for better days to come.
I enjoyed my weekend with my family at Tenneessee St., Malate and my visit at UST where my father in law, Richard, and sister in law, Helen, both US citizens are interned with virtually what used to be the American community of Manila. Because my wife has close contact with Mrs. Lulu Navarrete, I was able to visit my former Sqdn. Comdr. & CO, Q-111 in his secret hideout in Sampaloc. Q-111 was intercepted by enemy destroyers during our attempt to escape to Panay last Apr 9 and although Q-111 was captured, the crew managed to escape to Batangas. Navarrete ’35 is still recovering from malaria. He recounted that they stayed for a week in the hinterlands of Batangas before going their separate ways.
The sad part of his story is that Chief Wm. Mooney, our chief Torpedoman who was with him and helped pioneer the OSP since 1940 died of dysentery in a lonely hut in Batangas. Maj. E. Jurado USNA’34 OSP Chief is recuperating and hiding in a Batangas town with Danday’s relatives. Lt. Alano ’40 managed to get a boat ride home to Bohol. Lt. M. S. Castillo USNA ’38 and Lt. A. C. Campo USNA ’40 are with their families in QC. Navarrete also told me that Q-113 managed to escape in the Navotas area late last April and the crew are all hiding with their families. Lt. Nuval ’38 CO Q-113 is reportedly in La Union while his ExO, Lt. L. Picar ’40 is somewhere in Singalong.
From the way I see it, my OSP comrades who are able to escape are now living like fugitives as all unsurrendered USAFFE personnel are in the wanted list of the Japanese. Our status with the BCA appears better –we are not in hiding and we are at peace with ourselves.
6:30 a.m. left Corregidor for Bataan on a Q boat. The sea was very rough and it could not make any speed.
I arrived at 7:30 a.m. at Cabcaben. Colonel Hill and General de Jesus were waiting for me. I gave some instructions to General de Jesus and then left with Colonel Hill in a command car for the Command Post of General Lough. It was a hard trip through newly constructed trails in the mountains. The dust was terrible. We reached a place in the mountain where the trail ended. Then we had to hike up-hill. We reached the Command Post of General Lough at 10:45 a.m. There I met General Lough and his staff, General Lim and his aide, Lieutenant Santos, General Capinpin, Captain Angel Tuason. I had a letter for Bubby Tuason from Loling, that had been smuggled out of Manila by someone. As soon as he received the note he began to cry. I patted him on the shoulder and told him to cheer up. I talked to General Capinpin and General Lim regarding the morale of the officers and men. At 11 a.m. while I was talking to them we heard the roar of airplane engines. I was told that there were 12 bombers and four pursuits. They encircled around again and again. They flew so low that we could distinctly hear the characteristic whistle that the bombers have. General Lough ordered that everyone stand near the entrance of the dug outs. Suddenly we heard the explosions caused by the bombs dropped towards our left probably some artillery placements. At 11:30 p.m. when we realized that the danger had passed we hiked back to our car and proceeded to the Command Post of Colonel Catalin Commanding Officer of 21st F.A. He was waiting for me on the road together with Major Villarreal and Lieutenant Aquino.
He showed me his post. I inspected his Command Post and discussed with him the phases of military situation and the morale of the officers and men.
Left his Command Post for the offshore patrol base at Lamao. Major Villarreal offered to go with me to show me the new place, as Captain Jurado, had transferred his Post to another place, as his former place had been bombed by enemy planes.
When I arrived there I found Lee Stevens waiting for me. He is a captain Q.M.C. USAFFE. We talked for a while and ate a luncheon prepared impromptu by Captain Jurado. He served Carabao meat. It was not bad. Before I left Lee gave me a letter to be opened only in case of his death. Lee is the Commanding Officer of a motor pool. His place was recently bombed.
From this place I rushed to the Philippine Army Hospital at Km. 172 to inspect. The conditions not as good as I would like them to be. The ward tents are dark and give the impression of poor ventilation. The general arrangement is poor. I instructed Colonel Luna to discuss the matter with Colonel Janairo, Chief enginner.
I left the Philippine Army hospital with Colonel Hill & Major Cruz for the Command Post of General Marshall. Washed up and had dinner with him. Proceeded afterwards to Cabcaben to take the Q boat which was waiting to take me to the rock. Colonel Browley of the Staff of General Moore asked to be allowed to come with me. I was happy to authorize him to do so.
On the way from General Marshall’s Command Post to Cabcaben, Colonel Browley told me that he had just inspected Anti-Aircraft batteries in Mariveles and praised the Philippine Army unit. He said that the two outstanding batteries or Anti-Aircraft units there was one American (Colonel National Guard) and one Philippine Army composed of our trainees from Fort Windt 90% and Scout Filipino N.C.O. 10%. The American unit has 14 planes to its credit; the Philippine Army unit 12 planes. The previous day two Japanese planes who were apparently on a bombing mission to Mariveles make a dive to attack our unit. Our boys received them with a heavy barrage and brought the two planes down with only 40 rounds of ammunition consumed.
When we arrived at Cabcaben, the sea was very rough, and the Captain of the Q boat had difficulty in docking it. Finally he was successful. We arrived at Corregidor at 6:30 p.m. I saw the President to report my trip and then went home for supper.
Left Corregidor at 5:30 p.m. with Lieutenant Colonel Manuel Nieto & Leon Ma. Guerrero in a Q Boat (N-111) for Cabcaben. We arrived at 6 p.m. after a very rough trip. The waves were so big and the wind so strong that we get wet when we tried to give speed to the boat at Cabcaben it was not possible to dock. We asked for a small boat, but it was a flat-bottom one, and Colonel Nieto & I almost capsized. We got very wet. Later the Banca used by Lieutenant Guerrero sunk, he and our clothes got wet. General Francisco met us there & drove us to his Command Post about 1 ½ hours drive through the forest & zigzags. Spent the night in his camp.
I attended Mass at 6:30 a.m. After Mass I had breakfast and then went to the cottage assigned to us to take a bath and change clothes. At 9 a.m. Colonel Willoughby G-2 USAFFE arrived and told me that General MacArthur wanted to see me ASAP. I dressed hurriedly and proceeded to the house of General Moore which General MacArthur was occupying. He received me and instructed me to proceed immediately to Manila and organize a Hospital Ship to leave Manila within 4 days with all serious patients of Sternberg General Hospital and added: No military personnel must be on board except the Commanding Officer of the unit and one nurse. The balance must be Red Cross personnel. We shook hands and I left. I realized that the mission was hard as I had been informed that the previous day the Japanese had severely bombed Manila Bay and had sunk various ships.
We left Corregidor on a Q Boat. It took us 45 minutes to negotiate the distance. The picture of Manila Bay with all the ships either sunk or in flames was one of horror and desolation. We landed at the Army and Navy Club.
I rushed immediately to Red Cross Headquarters. I informed Mr. Forster, Manager Philippine Red Cross, and Mr. Wolff, Chairman of the Executive Board of my mission. I then called the Collector of Customs Mr. de Leon and I asked him what ships were still available for my purpose. He offered the government cutter Apo. I accepted. He told me that it was hiding somewhere in Bataan and that he expected to hear from the Captain at 6 p.m.
From his house, I rushed to Sternberg General Hospital where I conferred with Colonel Carroll regarding my plans. Then I returned to the Red Cross Headquarters and arranged for 100 painters and sufficient paint to change its present color to white, with a huge Red Cross in the center of the sides and on the funnel.
At 3 p.m. I again called Collector de Leon and inquired if he would try to contact the Apo. He assured me that he would endeavor to contact the Captain (Panopio). At 11 p.m. Mr. De Leon phoned me that he had not yet received any reply to his radio call. I could not sleep. I was worried.
C.,OSP conscripted a 40 ft boat, armed her with two .30 Cal. MGs christened “Danday”, Mrs. Jurado’s namesake, for use by the OSP Lamao Beach Defenders of Bataan. Today my ExO, Lt. Abraham ‘Abe’ Campo (USNA ’40) was rel’d. to be CO, “Danday” and to replace Lt. Campo, I selected Lt. Manuel Gomez ’41, my former classmate at MIT before we entered PMA. The bulk of OSP shore personnel transferred to Lamao, Bataan after Manila was declared Open City three days ago and so the beach defense of Lamao eastern Bataan becomes an OSP responsibility.
The 1st Q-Boat Squadron found a suitable place called Sisiman Cove east of Mariveles Bay that conceals our boats from the air. One mile up Sisiman River is our Support Gp. –Engineering under Lt. Jose Zulueta; Torpedoes, Depth Charges, Ordnance under Chief William Mooney, USNR; Adm., under Lt. Carlos J. Albert (USNA ’39). Since Christmas, our mission is primarily ferrying VIPs from Manila to Corregidor, the seat of government.
Today, all PAAC planes are gone. The planeless PAAC is organized as PAAC Provincial Regiment that is proceeding to Bataan. My province mates Capts. Pelagio Cruz and Eustacio Onrobia as well as my classmate Lt. Vic Osias are among with this Regiment. Also, the 700 PAAC Cadets were organized as an Infantry Battalion under Maj. Jose Francisco (USNA ’31) and proceeding to Corregidor. My classmates Lts. Bartolome Cabangbang and Alberto Aranzaso are among this Battalion.
The Jap invasion forces from Lingayen Gulf and Lamon Bay are slowly advancing towards Manila. They have to fight every inch of ground despite their air superiority. And if you think our situation is bad, Hongkong is worst. It was a sad christmas for the British in Hongkong. The British garrison retreated to Kowloon but after intense bombings for three days Gov. Sir Mark Young of Hongkong gave up easily and surrendered to Japanese Gen. Sakai on Christmas Day.
I had lunch at USAFFE HQ today with my friend, Sid Huff, and was surprised about his conversion from Lt. (SG) USN to Major US Army now Aide to Gen. MacArthur. The latest info he gave me is about an armada of Japanese invasion ships heading for Lingayen Gulf. Another enemy group is heading towards eastern Luzon. Apparently, the earlier reported enemy landings in Aparri, Vigan, Legaspi and Davao were diversionary recon in force.
I also talked with Ens. George Cox, CO PT 41 on duty when S.S. Corregidor sunk five days ago. He said PT 41 was leading the ill fated ship at the channel but suddenly, all at once, the S.S. Corregidor veered course towards the minefields and his efforts to stop her were to no avail. There was a loud explosion after hitting a mine, the ship sank so fast virtually all aboard went with her including the ship captain. There were very few survivors.
The newly activated 1st Regular Div. reported to South Luzon Force under Gen. Parker two days ago. Also, effective Dec. 20, all Div. Commanders who are not generals were promoted to Brig. Generals which included Fidel Segundo, Mateo Capinpin, Guy O. Fort and Luther Stevens — all PA Officers.
Camp Murphy is crowded with hundreds of civilian volunteers –drivers, students, laborers, etc– for the USAFFE. I am told the same is happening in all mobilization centers, a commendable manifestation of willingness to fight against the invaders. Seeing many so eager and enthusiastic makes me proud of our people.
Late in the afternoon, the 1st Q-Boat Squadron got an “Alert Order” for a possible mission whose details are being spelled out. With our training and preparations, I personally feel we are ready to perform whatever it will be.
Today is a historical day for the OSP. The whole OSP command was inducted into the USAFFE this morning and two hours after the ceremonies at Muelle del Codo, the Japanese bombed Port Area. OSP HQ was spared but Engineer Island where eight hulls of new Q-Boats are about to be completed was a direct hit and our hopes for those additional boats are gone with the wind. I feel sorry for my former boss, Maj. Jose V. Andrada (USNA ’31), who fought vigorously for locally made Q-Boats since last March after the successful test of locally made Q-113. I suspect his relief as C,OSP had to do with his issue against Gen. MacArthur.
Today is also a historical day for my alma mater PMA. Through its officers and cadets, it was reborn from an academic institution and activated as an instrument of war renamed, First Regular Division, with Col. Fidel Segundo (USMA 1917), the Superintendent, as Div. Comdr. at UST Campus.
The Div. was inducted into the USAFFE also today. Lt. Col.Santiago Guevara, Comdt. of Cadets, became the Div. C/S; Asst. Comdt. Capt. Alfredo Santos became Comdr., 1st Regmt.; former PMA Instructors took most of the senior staff jobs. Among my classmates in this Div. are Lt. Job Mayo as S-1; Lt. Alfredo Filart as S-2; Lt. David Pelayo, & Lt. Jose Javier, Co. Comdrs.
It can be recalled that after Baguio was bombed on Dec. 8, PMA went down and settled later at UST Campus in Manila.
Five days ago, Classes ’42 & ’43 were graduated and ’44 & ’45 were disbanded and sent home disappointed because they wanted to fight for their country.
One of the plebes, Eleuterio Adevoso tearfully expressed to me his disappointment. Japanese forces are poised to attack and land in Hongkong which is defended by the British Forces.
The disaster in Pearl Harbor resulted in the silent quick relief of its top commanders. Today without ceremony in his office, Gen. Walter C. Short, USA Hawaiian Departmental Commander read his orders relinquishing command to Maj. Gen. Delos C. Emmons, USAAC. Likewise, Adm. Husband E. Kimmel USN CinCPAC relinquished his command quietly to VAdm. William Pye USN, as temporary Commander .
In the Philippines, our military commanders knew immediately when Pearl Harbor was bombed and yet some ten hours later when a hundred Japanese bombers escorted by Zero fighters came over Clark Field, all of FEAC B-17 bombers except two, and 90% of its P-40s were destroyed. It was a tragedy! The only saving grace is PAAC’s 6th Pursuit Squadron of P-26 under Capt. Jesus Villamor whose exploits are becoming legendary. The remaining two B-17 were moved to Mindanao.
By night time, the tragedy was compounded by the sinking of S.S. Corregidor in our own defensive minefields guarding the entrance to Manila Bay west of Corregidor Fortress. S.S. Corregidor is one of the best among our inter-island commercial vessels with civilian and military personnel aboard bound for Visayas and Mindanao.
Loaded also are Artillery pieces, equipment and supplies of the 101st FA, and other Vis-Min Units. From initial scant report I got from my Mistah Alano, ExO of Q-111 that participated in the rescue, he said the ship hit a mine and sunk so fast virtually all passengers went down with the ship including her Captain. There were very few survivors. The mined area is under the responsibility of the Harbor Defense and PT RON 3. I should know more details about this tragedy after I talk with some of my comrades on duty then at PT RON 3.