Skip to content

November 15, 1941

Fort Stotsenburg, Pampanga, P.I.

15 November 1941

On September 10th of this year I was in command of the 12th Field Artillery, 2nd Division. We were on the Second-Third Army maneuvers in Louisiana. I had a fine outfit, which was building up an enviable reputation in the maneuver. My operations sergeant brought me a “grapevine report” that I was under orders for the Philippines. At 9:00 AM the next day I received a red-ball letter directing me to sail from San Francisco on October 4th. By noon I had turned over my command and was on my way. After a feverish week of packing, selling furniture and clearing accounts, I moved my family to LaJolla, California, where they are to remain during my tour of duty in the Philippines or the time the situation relaxes and families are again permitted on foreign service station. I left young Bill in school at La Jolla and with my wife went to San Francisco where we spent several pleasant days with Dick and young Skip Gibson, my nephew-in-law, at Stanford. I sailed at 6:00 PM, October 4, 1941, on the U.S..T. “Willard Holbrook”, nee the President Taft. We had a horrible, trying day on the pier, having reported at 9:00 AM in accordance with orders and then standing around on the pier all day in accordance with Quartermaster custom. We sailed in convoy with the “Tasker Bliss.”

There were 17 Field Artillery field officers on both ships. On the “Holbrook” I was the senior passenger, much to my surprise. At my table were Pat Searight, Tom Wilson, Hiram Tarkington, Dinty Moore — all lieutenant-colonels of Field Artillery. Lt Colonel Laughinghouse, Air Corps, and Lt Col Frank Brezina, QMC. I knew them all well except Laughinghouse. Brezina had been Assistant G-4 of the Philippine Department when I was Assistant G-3. He is a Philippine Scout Officer, has been retired several years and has been called back for an important job. He and I were quartered in a very fine stateroom together. On the Bliss the Field Artillery Field Officers included Colonel Clyde Selleck and Lieutenant-Colonel John Atkinson, John Ball, Bill Ray, James Hughes, John Hoskins, and Alex Quintard. Other field artillerymen on both ships were Majors Charles Fowler, Gene Harper, Checko Venture, Red Lewis, and John Woodbridge.

I knew most of the field artillerymen very well and had served with them. There isn’t an aide, an adjutant nor a service school instructor among us. Everyone of the group is a workhorse, with the mark of the collar, trace and whip on him. We were of that Army group of troop trainers — the hot sun and dust boys. There isn’t a polished desk topper among us. It seemed to me as I looked over the group that whatever we were getting into, hard work would connect up somehow with the ground training same as always. The gravy train seemed as always, a distant dream. Here at Stotsenburg with our assignments out and the job ahead shaping up, there is no doubt about it. Searight and Wilson had called at the Chief of Field Artillery’s office. They were told that some of us were to receive temporary promotions and were to command regiments of the Philippine Army. Others were to be assigned to troop duty with the regular army units of the Philippine Scouts. The orders of those older officers — those nearing the age limit in grade — Wilson, Ball, Ray, Atkinson — had the words “for duty with the Field Artillery, Philippine Department”. We had plenty of time on the trip across the Pacific to speculate on this and other things. It happened that some of the older officers were senior to the rest of us, some junior. We wondered about the temporary promotions.

We reached Honolulu about dark October 9th and left before dawn. Ihad planned to ship one trunk back to the States and get rid of the woolen clothes which I had used in San Francisco and on the ship during the first few cold days; but this was impossible at night.

From Honolulu we were under convoy of the US Navy Cruiser “Chester.” We were blacked out at night. This seemed a strange precaution, as we were not at war. It seemed to us that we were inviting an attack by adopting the measures of a belligerent, but it was ordered and followed.

We had landed at Manila after dark on the 23rd of October 1941. While the baggage was being unloaded Dinty Moore, Tom Willson and I had a few Scotch and sodas and a baked lapu-lapu at the Army and Navy Club. I went on to Stotsenburg via government transportation the same evening.

The next day we reported. As we expected, those officers who were ordered “for duty” with the Field Artillery, Philippine Department” were assigned to the Regular Scout Artillery — the 24th etc. The rest of us were assigned to “U.S.AF.F.E.”, which means “The United States Army Forces in the Far East” — and in our case means duty with the Philippine Army in the service of the US. There is some argument as to whether the A means Army or Armed — i.e., whether General MacArthur, as the CG, commands the naval forces as well. Those officers assigned to Scout Units are rubbing it into us. They are to stay at Stotsenburg, living in comfortable quarters, with trained servants — cooks, houseboys and lavenderias, with a nice officers’ club, a cold storage plant stocked with American meat, all the comforts of Post life — and of more importance, in command of old line units, well equipped and well trained, with non-commissioned officers of many years service. We, on the other hand, are to go into the field to newly constructed bamboo and nipa shack camps — sans electric, plumbing or other modern conveniences and also of more importance, with newly organized, untrained, undisciplined units,
officered by inexperienced, partially trained reservists, and with make-shift material and equipment. They tell us how they are riding the gravy train and magnify the discomforts and inconveniences of our jobs. This is all true and it looks as if they will have the country club life while we get the dirt and hard work. But — this is my personal view only — when I compare the two groups of officers I believe that we will have some compensations, possibly in increased rank, certainly in the importance of the responsibility given to us.

We were given a talk on post regulations and customs by Lt Colonel Galbraith. He emphasized General King’s insistence on the appearance of officers at all times, and especially the use of “whites”. I was rather surprised, as I had the idea that with the women gone home the bachelor post would be more or less under field conditions. However, after listening to Galbraith and talking to Chaplain Duffy and Captain Herrick (with whom I was temporarily quartered) I appreciated General King’s feeling that, to avoid a degeneration of standard and morale it was necessary to rigidly insist upon the maintenance of a high level of conduct and appearance, as whitemen, officers and gentlemen. Accordingly I went down to my old friend Ah Lee and ordered a tropical mess jacket, white uniform and some extra field cotton, as well as black and white dress shoes from old Ah Leong.

Dinty Moore and I are temporarily assigned space in one of the vacant sets of quarters. By some freak of circumstances it is the same set I occupied so happily with my family in 1927. Ghosts of happy memories surround me — and make me rather miserable.

Although we have no idea how long we will stay here at Stotsenburg, we have had to outfit a house, hire servants and open a mess. There is no central mess. Dinty and I have bought a very limited quantity of kitchen utensils to supplement the even more limited quantity we could draw from the QM, a few luncheon sets of Baguio cloth, and a chaise longue and chair apiece. I have no idea what mess arrangements or equipment will be available in our camp. We may have to buy more — or throw these away.

After several days of inactivity, we were assembled for an orientation lecture by the Post Commander, Brigadier General Edward P. King, Jr., who is also the CG, North Luzon Force. The General stressed several points: that there was no such thing as racial superiority; that any superiority evidenced must be that of demonstrated leadership; that the Filipino as a race is extremely proud and sensitive and many of his reactions have their root in real or fancied racial slights; that throughout history he has demonstrated personal bravery and individual fighting ability, even against superior arms and disciplined force; that our job was to train and weld that individual fighting ability into organized fighting teams; that the Filipino could be expected to give a good account of himself in battle. The General cautioned us to be meticulous in our individual relations with the Filipino. He warned us not to judge the Filipino by our standards, emphasizing that as a race the Filipino was not immoral but unmoral, not lazy but incapable physically of prolonged exertion, not dishonest but lacking in understanding of our code; not liars unless the need was essential to save embarrassment, disgrace or a loss of pride.

I have served in the Philippines before, from 1926-1929, as a battery commander of the 24th F.., here at Stotsenburg and for about two years as the Assistant G-3 at Department Headquarters in Manila. During this latter time, while General MacArthur was the Department Commander I was the acting G-3, due to circumstances, for a considerable period. Under the vigorous drive of MacArthur’s leadership of that period I visited and studied every vital defense area on Luzon, as well as Cebu, Iloilo and Mindanao, with few exceptions. I was thus thrown into contact with many cross-sections of the Filipino people from the rice farming tao to the political intelligentsia. I had studied the people with a lively interest at every opportunity. After my return to the
United States I continued my studies of their history and have kept myself reasonably well abreast of their current developments. Possibly this interest was maintained by the fact that I was stationed in Maryland and had many arguments with members of Senator Tyding’s personal and political family during the time that gentlemen was forcing the Tydings-MacDuffie Philippine Independence Bill. As a result of my own opinions and conclusions I agree with General King’s analysis of the Filipino in the main. However, I find it most difficult to concur with his views on the potentiality of the Filipino as a fighter or a leader. I have the most sincere and deep sympathetic affection for the rice-farming tao. I have an instinctive mistrust of the politico leadership. I doubt the capacity of the leaders to mold the mass into a fighting machine. Considering the mass of Filipino people I cannot visualize their childlike simplicity, their low mass IQ, their physical softness, their lack of vigor, their absence of individualism, their superstitious fear of the supernatural, their loathness to be alone after dark, their unwillingness to seek responsibility — yes, even to assume responsibility — as all combining to make the hard, tough, intelligent, alert, aggressive fighting man essential to the modern day, initiative seeking, machine age soldier. Neither can I regard the intelligentsia class, from which their officer group must come, without grave doubts as to their leadership qualifications. I cannot envision — to coin a MacArthur word — them as capable of the type of leadership which the Filipino masses will follow into battle under modern warfare conditions.

However, my judgement is based upon conditions as I knew them 15 years ago. I can see, in my few days hero, that great strides have been made in many fields since that time. Possibly military leadership has developed to a point where I am without basis for an opinion. I hope so. I remember also that the opinion held by General King was expressed to me, unqualifiedly, by General MacArthur during the talk I had with him in Washington in 1936 or 1937 when he came home to be married. I have therefore taken counsel with myself, and as a result of that self-communion I know that I must attack my problems with an open mind and with the assumption that the Filipino has the basic fundamentals of a fighting man, and that the intelligentsia class has the capability of military leadership. If this is not the case, then it is all the more essential that I do all in my small power to encompass this condition.

I am very interested in just what the Philippine Army is and what it is to be, since I am to work with it. From various sources I have gathered the following information — largely from Major Montgomery, G-3 of the North Luzon Force.

During the past four years a force of various size has been called annually for 5½ months military training, with the result that between 100,000 and 120,000 men have been so trained. These men have been classed as reservists and assigned to specific divisions. The Philippines have been divided into ten military districts, with one division in each district. As men are trained additional reserve divisions will be formed until by 1946 –Independence Year about 40 divisions will be in existence.

Seven of these military districts, and thus seven divisions, are on Luzon, the others in the Visayas.

The divisions are constituted along the lines of the American Triangular Divisions, with some modifications — modifications that I do not care for. The total manpower will be about 8000 men, a reduction from about 15,000. There will be three infantry regiments, each with three battalions organized similarly to the American battalion but with a total of only 1800 men in the regiment instead of about 3000. However, my principal concern is with the reduction of field artillery fire power. Instead of the American organization of three battalions of 105 mm howitzers and one battalion of 155 mm howitzers, totaling 56 guns, the Filipino organization will have only one regiment of three two-battery battalions and with a total of 24 guns, instead of 56. Further there will be no medium artillery (155 mm howitzers) in the division at all, nor for that matter any 105 howitzers, as the armament will be the 2.95″ mountain pack howitzer and the British 75’s. The 2.95″ howitzers are the same ones we had in the 24th F.A. fifteen years ago and they were obsolete, outmoded — as well as worn out — at that time. Nor do I have a very high regard for the British 75 Model 1916. I am told that between now and January 1st the Philippine Army will receive “many” 105 howitzers and 75 mm pack howitzers from the States. I do not know why I am so pessimistic, but I doubt it. The War Department priority of issue of 105’s to the regular divisions in the States does not contemplate that they will be completely equipped by that time, and after that will come the Guard divisions.

We may get some highspeed French 75’s from the regular divisions, but even those are needed by the Guard and Armored Force Units. As for the 75 mm pack howitzers, they would be invaluable in the jungle country over here, but it is my understanding that there are not enough in the States for the newly formed Army Artillery Units. But be that as it may, we will work with what we have. I am somewhat disappointed though, for General MacArthur told me, during our Washington talk, that he considered the American artillery as outmoded, and was equipping
the Filipino Army with the newest and best guns and howitzers obtainable in the European armament markets. As a result I was looking forward with eagerness to working with them, — but never expected the old 2,95’s and the unwanted British 75’s.

None of these divisions are actually in existence at this time. Several regiments have been called and are at the training areas. Most of the others have cadres in training — officers and key non-commissioned officers. In the case of the Field Artillery, the cadres of all ten regiments were assembled here at Stotsenburg at Camp Del Pilar this September and have been under intensive training since then. The Division commanders, their staffs, and the regimental commanders — as many as were here in the Islands and available — have been attending a school at Baguio. Rumor has it that the bulk of the divisions will be called up the latter part of this month. The deciding factor seems to be th completion of construction of the training camps.

Of the seven divisions to be constituted on Luzon, five are to be in the North Luzon Force, and two in the South Luzon Force. The training camps have been selected in the potential defense area. The North Luzon Force has the 11th and 21st Divisions abreast in the Lingayen Gulf area, the 91st covering Balete Pass and the approach from Aparri from the vicinity of Cabanatuan, the 71st in Reserve at Camp O’Donnel, and the 31st covering the area west of the Zambales and Subic Bay from San Marcelino. In the south the 4lst and 51st cover Batangas and Tayabas.

The division commanders were announced in the newspapers a few days ago.

North Luzon Force

General King

11th Division —
Colonel Brougher, RA

21st Division
Colonel Capinpin,
Phil. Scouts

31st Division —
Colonel Blumel, RA

South Luzon Force

General Parker

51st Division —
Colonel Jones, RA

41st Division —
Brig General Lim,
Phil. Scouts

Visayan & Mindanao Force

General Sharp

61st Division
Colonel Chyneoweth, RA

81st Division —
Colonel Fort, Phil.

101st Division —
Colonel Vachen, RA


71st Division — Colonel Selleck, RA )

91st Division — Colonel Stevens, Phil. Constabulary) (Initially in USAPFG Reserve)

I am told that the Philippine Army officers have been obtained from several sources: Former Scout and Constabulary Officers form the bulk of the senior command and staff group. I have observed an unfortunate antagonism between these two groups, evidenced this early. I am told it exists to a marked degree and is a matter of concern. The junior officers are, in small part, from the recently constituted Military Academy, which is commanded by my old friend, “Smoke” Segundo. They are proudly referred to as Regulars. I do not see that they differ materially from the Reservists who form the large bulk of the Officers’ Corps, being of similar age, experience, training, and education. Most of the Reservists come from ROTC units, some directly from civilian life.

Thus it looks as if I am in on the ground floor of the formation of the new Philippine Army.

But enough of that, and on to my own actions.

In accordance with General King’s instructions, our group has been going daily to Camp Del Pilar to observe the training of the Field Artillery cadres there — the young officers, NCO, and specialists who will form the nucleus of our regiments. The General’s orders are very specific — we are not to interfere with the instruction in any way — merely familiarize ourselves with the status and method of training. The instruction is nearing completion and to inject now instruction now would disrupt the continuity.

The Senior Instructor at Del Pilar is Lieutenant Colonel Ralph Hirsch with Major Joe Tacey as the Director of Instruction. From what I have seen in the past two weeks I am not very happy about the status or method of training. This is not a reflection upon Hirsch, Tacey or anyone connected with the school, nor is it a criticism. The difficulty is two-fold. First, the opportunity for practical instruction is very limited. Only a small amount of materiel, equipment, and transportation is available, most of which must come from the Scout Battalions at Stotsenburg. These battalions must train their own recently reorganized units on the same equipment at the same time. But more limiting to practical instruction is the fact that not one round of either service ammunition nor sub-caliber training ammunition has been made available for service practice firing. The second difficulty is that the instructor standard is not high caliber. The instructor group consists principally of young American Reserve Officers, who are themselves of limited training and experience. They are similar in age, education, and experience to the group of Reserve Officers I left behind me in the 12th Field Artillery. Fine, bright, intelligent, interested young men. But in the 12th I held night schools for that officer group to coordinate their theoretical and practical knowledge, and was very concerned with their training deficiencies. Here I find an exactly similar group as the fountain-head of knowledge.

As a result of these two facts — limited training facilities and inexperienced instructors — the instruction is largely theoretical and out of the book. Blackboard diagrams, lectures to large groups and sand table instruction predominate. Such practical work on tactical and technical problems as is possible in the field follows the book closely and is limited in the results by the lack of practical knowledge of the instructors.

The students are very keen, enthusiastic, and bright as new whips. They know the “book” by heart and are parrot-perfect in their answers. But they have only a faint idea of the practical application of the book knowledge, nor do they appreciate that the type or form examples in the texts are guides only, which are seldom met with under actual conditions. I completely stopped the glib perfection of “book answer” during a sand-table tactical problem by “killing” the soldier charged with the duty of guiding a battery into position. The problem broke down — and to my distress the instructor was as non-plussed as the student. But I am pleased with the fine ground work evidenced by the students, and by their adaptability. They are excellent material, and while I am disheartened that I must start my work with such basic instruction I am encouraged with their potentialities.

I attended a field exercise yesterday involving the placing of a battalion in position. The problem was identical and on the same terrain (so the instructor, Lieutenant Cranford, told me) as several other problems in which this group of students had participated. The sole difference was that students were rotated in the various capacities. The exercise was horrible and left me with a very sick feeling. There was demonstrated a complete lack of basic understanding of the tactical principles involved, and even worse, the technical mechanics of the occupation (so glibly demonstrated on the sand table the day before) were ignored, It was glaringly evidenced that the students failed to see any connection between the academic problem of the text and the practical problem on the terrain.

I have, I believe in all modesty, an excellent record as an instructor and troop trainer. I will need the best I have for this job.

Our assignments were announced several days ago as follows:

lith Field Artillery — Lt Col James G. Hughes

21st Field Artillery — Lt Col R. C. Mallonée, Senior Instructor

31st Field Artillery — Major Eugene Harper

41st Field Artillery — Lt Col A. P. Moore, Senior Instructor

51st Field Artillery — It Col Hamilton Searight

61st Field Artillery- – Lt Col Hiram Tarkington

71st Field Artillery — Major Charles Fowler

81st Field Artillery — Major John Woodbridge

91st Field Artillery — Lt Col John Hoskins

101st Field Artillery — Lt Col Alex Quintard

We are told that the next transport will bring Lieutenant Colonels to command the regiments now given to majors — and among them will be Ed Corkill and Dick Hunter whom I haven’t seen in years, and Alan Smith, whom I do not know. Also wo will all receive a regular army major as executive. I do not know exactly what the assignment as Senior Instructor means, when all others — Moore excepted — are to be in command. But I am not at all happy about it. I have had my belly full of instructor work — responsibility without authority — and with such a big job ahead I would greatly prefer to be unfettered. I presume there will be some written instructions clarifying and defining my duties and responsibilities.

The regimental commander of the 21st is to be It Colonel Nemisio Catalan. I remember him as a young lieutenant in the 24th FA in the 1927 days. I find that he retired as a Captain several years ago for physical reasons. He connected up with the Philippine Army and has served since then in several junior staff capacities. He tells me that he has never been in commend of any military unit even as large as a battery. Being a graduate of the Los Baños Agriculture College he was used at Stotsenburg principally for Post beautification and police work. His troop duty was mainly with Service Battery. He was sent by the Philippine Army to the Commend and General Staff School and seems somewhat disgruntled that he was not selected as a Division Chief of Staff. Thus it would appear that he has not been trained or experienced in command leadership. I have doubts about his qualifications from his past record. Hope I am wrong and that he works out in fine shape.

The Regimental Bxecutive is Captain Luis Villa-Real, a regular officer of four or five years service. He strikes me as a most intelligent, highly educated. young officer, well qualified by birth, breeding, environment and training. I

am delighted to have him. He tells me he attended Culver, and is a graduate of the Fort Sill Field Artillery School, after which he went through the 1940 Louisiana maneuvers with the 18th Field Artillery. With Colonel Catalan at school in Baguio, Villa-Real has abrogated many functions of command and among them the assignment of the regimental staff, Battalion and Battery Commanders.

The Battalion Commanders are a shock to me. I do not know their ages but Valdez could not be over 26 or 27 and Mercado and Acosta look to be about 23. Valdez is — I believe — a 1st lieutenant and the others 2d lieutenants. None have ever commanded batteries, nor are graduates of the FAS. Valdez is the only one who has had more than one year active duty and that was as a camp construction officer. Similerly the battery commanders who are all 2d lieutenants, have just recently been commissioned and have one, and in some few cases, two tours of 5½ months active duty, mostly as students.

Not one battery commander nor any battery grade officer has ever fired a shot of service or sub-caliber ammunition — nor seen a problem fired; as far as I can find.

I have been mingling with the officers as much as opportunity offers and as much as. they will permit, as they are very self-conscious as yet when I am around. I have watched their drills and instruction periods. They are more than proficient in guard mount, guard duties, foot drill, ceremonies the disciplinary drills, as well as the usual lecture room subjects. Needless to say, in the land of the Lavendera, they are spotless and immaculate in freshly starched uniforms. It is going to be a tremendous task, but an interesting one, to train these young men in the practioal application of their theoretical knowledge.

I will have some young American Reserve Officers as assistants, as well as one Major. At present two are assigned, but as they have been changed twice and are still tentative I have not troubled to get much of a line on them.

We have rumors that some of the artillery regiments are to be called on November 24th, the cadres leaving here November 20th. Nothing definite however. We have had a lot of to-do about transportation being made available to enable us to visit our training camps. Nothing came of it, so I rented a taxi and with Villa-Real went to ours. It is on the edge of the barrio of Nambalan, about a kilometer or so south of Sta Ignacia, which is some 30 kilometers north of Tarlac on route 13, a secondary road to Lingayen Gulf. The camp leaves me with a very discouraged feeling. It is of nipa, bamboo and wood construction. It is nowhere near completion. The camp site is astride the main road, which is dirt and gravel. There is considerable traffic on the road and heavy clouds of dust cover everything. The buildings are in a rice field, the paddy walls being broken dorm to permit the erection of the foundations. My nipa shack is built on one edge of a carabao wallow. The drying, cracking mud, with deposits of

green slime harboring myriads of large flies and droves of mosquitos is disgusting. Latrines will be of the straddle-trench type. The officers’ latrines are in close proximity to the officers’ mess shack. The latter have as yet no stove or other equipment, but the stove planned will be merely a concrete shell supporting a large bowl, suitable only for cooking rice. No provision has been made either here or in the enlisted messes for baking, broiling or frying. The mess halls have sinks and will be piped for water, but there is no sewage and the water will simply spill from the sink onto the ground outside the mess hall. Simple but hardly sanitary. However, initially it will not be a problem, as there is no water. A well is being dug very hopefully. It is down, the contractor says, over 700 feet, but still no water. Neither is there a pump, in case water is found. The nearest potable water is at Camiling, 12 kilometers away. Of course, there is no electricity. The camp is for one regiment only. The remainder of the division is in the vicinity of San Quentin, about 20 kilometers away.

There is no market at Sta Ignacia, and a very poor one at Camiling.

It will take a tremendous amount of work by the men to make themselves comfortable in this dirty, waterless, shadeless, cheerless camp.

Montgomery tells me that there is no motor equipment here in the Islands for the field artillery regiments. The are to receive one command-car and two trucks, which will be stripped from some of the regular units. As the regimental commander will have priority on the car I will be flat footed and faced with the necessity of asking him for favors whenever I need transportation. I have decided to buy a car, much as I dislike the idea. It will also be necessary to buy a kerosene stove and officer’s mess gear. I have talked the matter over with my two American officers who concur. Also both of them favor, as I do, taking along a civilian cook and mess boys. We all have considerable of that pride which General King emphasized as a Filipino attribute and feel very loath to be in the positions of supplicants to the regimental commander. The Tables of Orranization provide for officers mess cooks and attendants for the regimental officers, but naturally not for instructors. I sincerely hope that there will be no friction between the command and the instructor, but should there be I am unwilling to weaken my position by being forced to ask for favors.

I found out the reason for the “Instructor” status instead of the command. The 21st and 41st Divisions will be commanded by Filipino Generals and with Filipino officers throughout. It is not desired that there be any American officers in command in these divisions, which will be forerunners of the same status in all Divisions as capable commanders are developed, and certainly before Independence Year in 1946. But at this time the need for American guidance is evidence — hence the instructors.