Story of Lt. Colonel Andres Soriano:
Soriano said that it did a great injustice to Aguinaldo to call him a fifth columnist. The General was perfectly loyal.
Bombing of air fields:
“The bombing of Baguio was at 7:30 a.m. on December 8th; these enemy planes then turned northwards and bombed the Cagayan valley–Aparri, Tuguegarao and Iligan.
“At about the same hour, Davao was bombed.
“Next they came over Clark Field–not a fighter up to oppose them. Many of the officers were at luncheon when the Japanese struck. They said: ‘We don’t know how it happened.’ At that time, 17 B-40s were destroyed on the ground at Clark Field. Explanation: the wires to detectors had been cut by enemy agents.”
Soriano, when I asked about the American planes which, according to Quezon had taken the air when news came of the bombing of Baguio at 7:30, said they were probably some planes which were en route for Mindanao at that time, and were recalled.
By the 10th & 11th of December, almost all our planes (80%) were destroyed–“it was worse than Pearl Harbor.”
“Three-quarters of an hour after they struck at Clark Field they were over Iba Field–all the officers were having luncheon.
“MacArthur took command of all the armies on July 20 (?). He did not have five months in which to pull them together. General Lewis Brereton arrived early in November, a very amiable man–he found a Brigadier General in command of the air force, an officer of the old laissez faire school. They put him in command of the fighter planes, when they should have shipped him off home.” Those fighter planes were ready to start for Formosa, and actually started, “I don’t know why they were recalled to the ground–some of them may have been included in the squadron which started for Davao that morning and had been recalled.
“After December 10th or 11th, the Japanese were entirely masters of the air, unopposed. I understand that the Americans had 38 four engine bombers, and about 170 other planes in the Philippines before the invasion.
“Supplies for besieged armies on Corregidor & Bataan: An officer told me: ‘All through the battle of Bataan we expected relief and reinforcements, though we knew the American Pacific Squadron had been temporarily put out of action at Pearl Harbor. On my first trip back from the front at Bataan to see General Sutherland on Corregidor the boys in the trenches had asked me to bring them food, tobacco and whiskey. This was on February 3rd; on February 18th I was again sent from the front on an errand to Corregidor, and this time all that the boys asked me to bring back was only “good news”–i.e., of relief coming. We all expected help until we heard President Roosevelt’s address on February 22nd. The truth about the sending of supplies is as follows: three convoys started from Australia. The first was diverted to Singapore; the second to the Dutch East Indies, and the third, consisting of three cargo boats started at last for the Philippines. Two of the vessels turned back and went to the West coast of Australia–to Brisbane. One boat, the Moro vessel Doñañate (?) got through to Cebu; it carried 1,000 tons of sugar and 1,000 tons of rice, both commodities we already had in the Visayas, so it was like carrying coals to Newcastle. Very little of this got through to Corregidor and Bataan, because of the blockade. Another vessel went aground near Leyte but the cargo was salvaged. We understood that after Pearl Harbor, the American Navy could not convoy supplies to us. Nor, of course, could they strike directly at the Japanese Navy as had always been the plan.’
“On Dec. 1st, Quezon sent for Admiral Hart, and questioned him. Hart seemed very confident. He thought that if the Japanese ever cut the communications between the mainland (U.S.) and the Philippines, it would, at the most, be 18 days before it was re-established.
“Of the airplanes sent from the United States via Australia in the months just preceding Pearl Harbor, the bombers, which could fly all the way, got through to the Philippines. A shipment of 200 fighters intended for the Philippines, had inexperienced young boys as pilots and crews, and they smashed up 180 of these 200 planes in Australia. ”
Soriano’s account of important visitors to the Philippines just before, based on which, Quezon had believed that there was a well prepared plan worked out for the defense of the Far East. Quezon was not really consulted, or informed in detail, but he had every reason to think that the defenses of the Philippines were.
“Quezon saw Duff Cooper and was not at all impressed by him. General Sir Brooke Popham was in Manila several times from the end of 1940 to April 1941. He conferred only with Sayre, Grunert and Hart.
The Dutch Chief of Staff who after visiting the United States from Batavia, became Commander-in-Chief for the Netherlands East Indies when his chief was killed in an air accident. He visited the Philippines.
“Litvinoff came to Manila about November 1st or a little later. Quezon was ill, and Litvinoff was only there for two days, but the President saw him and was very much impressed by him.”
Then Kurusu, whom they all knew in Manila because he had been Consul General there in my time, came through on his mission to the United States about the middle of November.
In October 1941, the Secretary of the Colonies and the Secretary of Finance of the Netherlands East Indies made a trip across the Philippines.
Soriano had had reservations for the September Clipper from the United States to the Philippines but became so uneasy over international relations that he left America on July 29th instead.
After MacArthur had been given Supreme Command there was real co-operation established with the American Army, which had been rather sore theretofore with General MacArthur because he had accepted service with the Filipinos. Soriano thinks, however, that MacArthur was glad to take Filipino Command, otherwise he would lose rank as Lieutenant General at the end of his extended term (five years) as Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army, and would have had to step down and become a young Major General. (As a matter of fact, he became the Field Marshal of the Philippine Army.) General Grunert was coming to the end of his term as Department Commander of the Philippines; he had been offish with MacArthur because he worked with the Filipinos, and the Department Commander had been an “ally” of Sayre. Now Grunert is very friendly with Quezon.
The Americans in Manila, after Soriano arrived back there were still “asleep at the switch”; only a small percentage of them were awake to the seriousness of the situation. Right up to the 1st of December many people thought that nothing was going to happen. Quezon was one of the few who seemed aware of the danger, tho he was not informed as to the real strength of Japan. He kept cool-headed. He realized the situation after Secretary Knox’s ballon d’essai statement of November 11th and Secretary Hull’s comprehensive and sweeping statement of November 26th to the two Japanese Ambassadors in Washington.
In Manila during those last weeks some of the Americans feared that the Filipinos would not support them–these were the “Old Timers” who had always looked down on the Filipinos. In Soriano’s opinion there was absolutely no justification for this fear among the “Old Timers.” He did feel some uncertainty as to the real though concealed sentiments of some of the members of the Legislature. Possibly some of the Filipino lawyers who had as clients the more important Japanese financial interests in the Philippines were luke-warm, or followed the line of least resistance. He also suspected the real feelings of some of the professional Filipinos who had taken their degrees in Japan. The only pro-Japanese Filipinos of whose sentiments he was sure were two Filipino businessmen he named.
“In September, military supplies from the United States began to trickle in; there was a very noticeable increase of them by November, when bomber squadrons arrived. Nearly everybody thought that the crisis would not come before Spring and this would have given MacArthur a real chance of success. Even with the small air force we had there at the moment of invasion we could have gone far to stop the Japanese landings at Lingayen Bay and Guman Bay (e. coast Bicols), if we had learned the lesson of the battle of Crete. We might also, with our limited air force intact, have been able to keep the Asiatic fleet in our waters and thus impede the invasion. This would have served to stop the Japanese on their way to Singapore.
“We could have preserved the bulk of our air force if we had dug shelters for them in the hills around the air fields. There was a perfect opportunity for this at Stotsenburg, for example. This was what MacArthur did with the few rickety planes he had left, on the air fields he constructed on Mariveles Bay during the siege of Bataan. With the immense amount of mining machinery we already had in the Philippines we could easily have dug out shelters of our air defenses and airplanes.”
I asked Soriano whether the Spaniards in the Philippines had to be watched. He replied: “Perhaps I am partial, but in my opinion the great bulk of the Spaniards then in the Philippines were entirely loyal. They are, of course, extremely influential in the Islands.”
About the disastrous campaign on Malaya, Soriano said that the acid criticisms of the Australian General Gordon Bennet were probably correct. Soriano, who was educated in England, said that the Englishmen of the colonies are probably of a somewhat lower social stratum–it was their arrogance and that of their women which led to disaster. The especial harshness of the Japanese towards the English was due to championship of the Asiatic races. They humiliated the English because of their political and personal bossiness towards Asiatics. They are leading a race movement for their fellow Asiatics. (N.B. “Old Timers” and the policy of “Prestige in the Philippines.” F.B.H.)
“The Filipino Scouts were the back-bone of our armies–I consider them the equals of any crack regiment in any army in the world.
“The Philippine Army were mostly draftees–some divisions were fairly trained–most of them were just barely trained. The young Filipino officers, the first class to graduate from their Military Academy at Baguio, were excellent; many of them were killed.
“When I was commissioned, I reported to General Jones at Fort McKinley; he was the commander of the Southern Luzon forces. An officer of the Philippine forces was not considered the equal of an American officer. We managed to secure the same pay for the Filipinos.
“On Bataan, relations became excellent between American and Filipino officers; no distinction was made; promotions and citations were equal.
“Vicente Lim, and Generals Capinpin and Francisco, in the front line were really fine soldiers. General Segundo, tho he had been at the best military schools in the U.S., was always uncertain–he should not have fallen back at the first day’s battle at Morong. Quezon had previously disciplined him by sending him for a year to Mindanao, and then called him up to command the Military Academy at Baguio. He lost all his batteries and equipment at Morong. Lim, Capinpin and Francisco are all three prisoners of the Japanese now. Homma’s Chief of Staff really did commit hara-kiri.
“Colonel Juan Moran, a brother of the Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, who was Chief of Staff of the 11th Division, did an excellent job.
“The 26th Cavalry, the 45th and 57th Infantry and 24th Field Artillery were Scouts.
“A Philippine division contains only 7,500 men.
“We could have licked the Japs at the beginning, if we had been properly equipped. After the battle of Malaya, no. If we had had an adequate air force, we would have thrown out the Japanese, they cannot stand up against air attack–not even the Manchurian veterans. What enabled us to stand so long on Bataan against such odds, was our artillery. The Japanese simply will not stand artillery fire.
“The Japanese soldier with his bushido and fanaticism is individually better than the German; the Jap is more of a savage, while the German is, in comparison, more civilized.
“The technique and minute preparation of the German and Japanese armies are about equal.”
The Americans in Manila behaved with dignity, and the civilian population conducted themselves well, noticeably so when, after the first two or three days, the enemy had complete control of the air.
In the battles in the Philippines the draftees had to be steadied by the Scouts when infiltration occurred–almost all troops are shaken when fired on from the flanks and from the rear, and think themselves cut off from their base. (Soriano suggests we do not praise the draftees too highly since that they might provoke answers from Americans.)
“A French-American pigeon keeper or trainer (Soriano called him pigeonnier) at Fort McKinley, whom they called ‘Frenchy,’ (named Saulnier), made so good on Bataan, calling out the range for the soldiers that he was finally put in command of a battalion–much to the surprise of the commanding officer, who, however, acquiesced when told what this boy had done.
“The Filipinos had shown great ability in jungle fighting when they were drawn from the frontier type, but not so much so the ilustrados or “white collar” men. Once on the Tuol River in W. Bataan about 3 kilometers from Bagao, a Filipino 2d Lieut, (later Captain), in command of a company, found that they were surrounded by a larger force of Japanese. He had only two platoons, and recognized his inferiority in numbers and equipment. He lay in ambush for 24 hours without food. Knowing the Japanese tactics of reopening their attack just after sunset, he took the initiative and succeeded in making contact on both flanks. They killed a great part of the Japanese platoons around them; 25 or 30 Japanese corpses were found, and he lost only 6. (n.b.) This happened on the 8-9th of February.
“Negritos–(they often saw them); Negritos have learned to speak Tagalog. Used them sometimes as guides, but found them so unrealiable that we quit. They served the Japanese just as willingly. Many of them were killed. We came across a former constabulary soldier from the lowlands named Mariano Daiit, who was living among the Negritos–he had a patch of camotes and some papaya trees. He was a very loyal guide for my commanding officer, General Jones. Once when General Jones and I and two young officers, with only 67 men were surrounded, Mariano, as always, found a way out for us. When we withdrew to Matic, we were no longer able to find Mariano and fear he fell into the hands of the Japanese and suffered the fate they often meted out to civilian assistants.
“When the Japanese High Command got behind in their program, their army became much more brutal. They changed their propaganda by leaflets, and began to call on the Filipino troops to kill the ‘real enemy,’ their American officers. They also changed their treatment of their Filipino prisoners–at first they used to strip off their uniforms, kicked them in the ass and told them to ‘get out.’ Many of them came back to us. As a rule they treated their military captives well, tho they perpetrated savagery upon civilians caught with the troops. When their program fell behind, they changed noticeably; they still took the uniforms, but used the soldiers as cargadores; sometimes they bayoneted their military captives, acting with complete savagery.
“We took very few prisoners, for two principal but very different reasons. First, many of them killed themselves rather than become prisoners. Second, our men often found that a Japanese offer of surrender was only a ruse, or bait, to lead us up to machine gun nests. After several of those experiences, we could not control our boys.”
At one time, the Japanese effected a landing at three places on the S.W. coast of Bataan peninsula, but they were driven off or destroyed.
By the end of the war, the town of Mariveles had been completely destroyed. A vast “all-weather” airport had been established at Mariveles; this was finished just before the surrender of Bataan. It had caves into which the planes could be pushed.
Soriano further suggested that, for the purposes of Quezon’s book the question of stressing atrocities by the Japanese be carefully considered. Will the American public demand the gruesome? He mentioned the weight of other considerations in this matter. He, personally, saw corpses of Filipino men and women mutilated by the Japanese and thrown by them into the Abo-Abo River in Bataan. He told also how one Vicente Logarta (?), a newspaper man from Cebu, left Manila on February 25th and went to the province of Bulacan, where he found that out of 176 cases of rape of girls aged from eleven to sixteen years, 110 had died. There was, as yet, very little information as to what took place in the provinces; it is not believed, however, that such savagery had been shown there as took place in Hong Kong. (Query: had the abundant supply of liquor in Hong Kong something to do with that?)