World War II : GUERRILLA WARFARE IN THE PHILIPPINES
World War II : GUERRILLA WARFARE IN THE PHILIPPINES
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There are many great wars that happen in the Phillippines and some of these wars are triggered by rebels and militiamen fighting for their cause. Guerrilla warfare is not new to the Filipinos they waged war for the search of freedom 100 years ago and up to this moment. In mindanao alone, it strucked with a 20 year war against Muslim separatist and not to include the NPA, which also engaged guerilla warfare with the Philippine government for many years already. But among all the guerrilla warfares that proves the desire of the Filipinos for freedom, The Guerilla warfare of World War II is the most well-documented and in fact contributes a lot to the modern guerilla warfare of every country in this world.
Information below exerpts from various historical books and websites to give us enough information regarding Guerilla warfare in World War II.
In the wake of military conquest by foreign invaders there have developed great and powerful resistance movements from within subjugated peoples. These rebellions against imposed authority have usually brought swift and ruthless suppression. For their own protection, invading armies have branded the patriot franc-tireur and guerrilla as a bandit and a criminal in an effort to alienate him from his people and crush his efforts to gain liberation for his country.
Fighters of the underground have usually received payment in the form of a one-way ticket to the gallows or the firing squad, very often by way of the torture chamber. World War II rings with the echoes of many rifle volleys directed against blindfolded rebel patriots standing stolidly against a stone wall or tied hurriedly to a convenient telegraph pole.
The foreign conqueror, however, is usually vulnerable in his attenuated lines of communication; the franc-tireur is an elusive opponent. The spirit of free men thrives on oppression. In the European Theater, the French Maquis has become a valiant and symbolic figure, in his untiring struggle against the Nazis. Equally impressive in the Pacific is the rise of the Filipino against the Japanese invader. The Filipino guerrillas fought for the same principles as the European underground, against the same background of peril, ruthlessness, and hardship.
After abortive efforts to draw the people of the Philippines into the " Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere " by propaganda, quislings, bribery, and subversion, the Japanese were forced to resort to wholesale arrests, punitive expeditions, and summary executions in an attempt to stem a steadily rising tide of opposition. Repressive measures, however, only increased the determination of the Filipino patriot to resist.
The 7000-odd islands of the Philippines, sprawling along 1000 miles of ocean, made it impossible for the Japanese armies to garrison more than key towns in the populated and cultivated districts. The sparsely settled farmlands and the virtually inaccessible mountains of the interior were left relatively unoccupied by enemy troops. Since the Philippine Constabulary had been demobilized with the invasion, the mass of people in the outlying areas
was left without adequate police protection. Such a situation soon encouraged the rise of numerous marauding parties which roamed the countryside in search of easy loot and tribute to be taken from the defenseless farmers.
As usual in such cases, the harassed people took matters into their own hands. The small vigilante groups that were formed to combat these raiders soon banded together for greater strength and mutual protection, and it did not take long to eradicate the lawless elements as an immediate threat to their homes. These vigilantes later combined forces with the unsurrendered soldiers of the United States and Philippine forces and provided the nucleus for the guerrilla resistance movement. As the occupation became harsher and more onerous, opposition and active rebellion began to spread rapidly throughout the islands.
Although the size and geography of the Philippines made it difficult for the Japanese to interfere with the continued growth of the numerous, small guerrilla bands that had sprung up on the various islands, this very topography was a tremendous handicap to any effective unification of strength. Isolated from each other and from the outside world, the guerrillas at first dissipated their efforts in unco-ordinated raids against the enemy. These minor operations were generally fruitless and often did more harm than good since they brought swift and severe retaliatory measures by the Japanese. Even on the larger islands of Luzon, Mindanao, and Leyte, the terrain and poor communications caused a multiplicity of initially independent guerrilla commands to arise with intransigent leaders pursuing their own particular interests. A single driving force was badly needed to direct the guerrilla potential into channels which could produce maximum results. As soon as the facts concerning Filipino resistance became known in 1942, it was General MacArthur's purpose to provide this direction and to weld the scattered groups into unified and responsible forces through the designation and support of responsible local commanders.
Activities of the Allied Intelligence Bureau
The story of guerrilla activities in the Southwest Pacific Campaign can be divided into three phases, Phase One consisting of the initial exploration of the guerrilla movement by the Allied Intelligence Bureau under the operational control of G-2, Phase Two comprising its development under the Philippine Regional Section, and Phase Three composed of the merging of all guerrilla activities with the actual invasion of the Philippine Islands.
The fall of Corregidor in May 1942 cut off virtually all communication with the Philippines. A single radio station operated in the
Luzon province of Nueva Ecija by a Philippine Army Officer, Lt. Col. Guillermo Z. Nakar, Philippine Army, and several other Filipino and American escapees continued to provide a slender thread of information for several months. Messages from this station broke off in August 1942, however, and with the subsequent capture and execution of Colonel Nakar by the Japanese, radio contact with the Philippines was temporarily lost.
In October 1942 two unsurrendered officers, Capt. William L. Osborne and Capt. Damon J. Gause, who had made a hazardous journey from Luzon in a remarkable feat of navigation, arrived in Australia with the first reports of guerrilla activities on southern Luzon, Palawan, and Tawi Tawi. In December other escaped personnel brought in more detailed information concerning numerous guerrilla groups in operation on central Luzon, Leyte, Samar, Cebu, Negros, and Panay. During this same period, radio contact was re-established, and intercepted calls from guerrilla commanders on northern Luzon and Panay added to the picture. By the beginning of 1943, it was clear that organizations to combat the Japanese were forming everywhere in the islands and that with proper exploitation valuable intelligence could be obtained locally for use in planning future operations. Steps to penetrate the Philippines by clandestine methods began in earnest.
At this early stage, General MacArthur was obviously limited in the amount of aid he could give the guerrilla organizations to help them through their embryonic stages. His own supplies were inadequate and the great distances involved made the problem of tangible assistance a formidable one.
The initial task of contacting the guerrillas and laying the groundwork for an extensive intelligence net in the Philippines was given to the Allied Intelligence Bureau under the operational control of the Theater G-2. A long-range program was developed, based on previous experience with AIB operations behind enemy lines in the Solomons-New Guinea area. In October 1942 the AIB established a special Philippine Sub-Section for the exclusive handling of operations to assist the guerrillas. Solutions were worked out for the best methods of dispatching supplies and funds to the Philippines; areas of responsibility were defined; and plans were made for communication channels to forward information to Australia.
The dispatch of a pioneering party to explore the prevailing situation in the islands and develop specific information on the military, political, and economic aspects of the Japanese-dominated Philippine Government, as well as on the attitudes of the guerrillas themselves, became a priority project. On 27 December 1942, a Filipino aviator, Capt. (later Maj.) Jesus A. Villamor, together with a party of five, left Australia on the submarine Gudgeon to organize an intelligence net, determine means of receiving emergency supplies, and obtain general information on Japanese activities. The party landed successfully on Negros and, on 27 January, just one month after his departure, Major Villamor established efficient radio contact with Australia.
Meanwhile two agents sent by Col. Wendell W. Fertig, an unsurrendered American officer
who had become a guerrilla leader on southern Mindanao, reached Australia by sailboat. Their reports indicated that this large and strategically placed island could be made into a major guerrilla base for further expansion to the north. Commander Charles Parsons, USNR, because of his wide and intimate knowledge of the Philippines, was selected to lead a secret fact-finding mission to Mindanao and carry in cipher materials and token sup plies. This party arrived in Zamboanga, the westernmost province of Mindanao, on 5 March. After contacting Colonel Fertig, Commander Parsons presented General MacArthur's concept of guerrilla activities and then went on to visit the other islands in the archipelago.
Following these two initial penetrations, additional parties were sent in as rapidly as strained transportation facilities permitted. Submarines carried supplies to Panay in April, and to Tawi Tawi and Mindanao in May. A number of concealed radio transmission stations were established in these islands and material support was given to the local guerrillas.
This initial exploratory period also saw an outstanding episode of clandestine operations. On 16 June 1943, Major Emigdio Cruz, P.A., arrived in Australia from Washington on the first leg of a secret mission to Manila on instruction of Manuel Quezon, President of the Philippine Government-in-Exile. After conferring with General MacArthur and members of his staff, Major Cruz sailed aboard the submarine Thresher and landed on Negros on 9 July. From there he worked his way ingeniously across the intervening islands to Luzon, posing at various stages along the way as an itinerant trader, a vendor of fowl, and a vegetable peddler. Several times he narrowly missed discovery by the Japanese but, despite frequent arrests and searching interrogations, he finally arrived safely in Manila on 22 October.
Major Cruz' main mission in Manila was to contact General Manuel Roxas, a well known Filipino politician with an intimate knowledge of high-level Japanese activities in the Philippine Puppet Government, who was in constant communication with the various guerrilla leaders on the islands. After a series of conferences with General Roxas and personal contacts with the other government officials, Major Cruz had accumulated sufficient important data on the inner workings of the Philippine puppet regime to dictate his return to Australia.
On 8 November he left Luzon for Negros and by the end of February 1944, he had retraced his difficult course to complete a brilliant and extremely hazardous mission. Besides the highly important intelligence brought back, Major Cruz' journey showed that, despite the great risks involved, the occupied islands of the Philippines could be traversed by a person with sufficient daring, judgment, and ability.
The information collected by these few penetration parties provided a good working basis for future plans. The guerrilla units could be classed into three main categories: (a) those built around a nucleus of unsurrendered United States and Philippine Army troops; (b) those of purely local origin, under the leadership of prominent civic personages or former Constabulary, which sprang up more or
less spontaneously to combat the immediate threat of uncontrolled banditry; (c) those, like the Hukbalahaps, which were an outgrowth of pre-war semi-political organizations. There were also a few roving bands of the outlaw variety which were motivated more by the lucrative prospects of brigandage under cover of guerrilla warfare than by any consideration of patriotism.
Although the majority of the guerrillas shared a common antipathy for the Japanese, they were often divided among themselves, separated into intractable rival factions engaged in a bitter struggle for power. There was no established demarcation of authority and no defined chain of command. All reports of returning AIB agents stressed the necessity of achieving greater co-operation and more unified control among the guerrilla organizations.
It was considered that the best way to meet this problem would be to reactivate the pre-war Philippine Military Districts. Based on population densities, these territorial entities had been used by the Philippine Army for administrative and mobilization purposes. This device had the advantage of being based on legal precedent and would probably be the most acceptable method of division to the majority of de facto guerrilla leaders.
In accordance with this concept, the first district commanders were appointed in February 1943. Colonel Fertig was given command of the 10th Military District on Mindanao and Lt. Col. Macario Peralta, of the 6th Military District on Panay. Since these officers already exercised considerable influence over adjacent islands, Colonel Fertig was also assigned responsibility or the 9th Military District, embracing Leyte and Samar, until a permanent commander could be selected; Colonel Peralta was similarly given temporary control over the 7th and 8th Districts of Negros and Cebu. (Plate No. 85)
Meanwhile the development of the Philippine communications net progressed steadily. Navy and Signal Corps departments co-operated closely with the Philippine Sub-Section of AIB in working out a co-ordinated program to meet immediate needs and at the same time provide for future expansion. Separate networks were mapped out for guerrillas and AIB parties, with additional provisions for a special naval coastwatching system to cover important strategic waterways.
June 1943 marked the end of the preliminary phase of SWPA's penetration into the Philippines-the exploration of the guerrilla potential. This initial period had seen effective liaison established with guerrilla groups on Mindanao, Negros, and Panay. Agents in Manila had also been contacted. In co-operation with the U.S. Navy, supplies and trained personnel had been transported by submarine to Tawi Tawi, Mindanao, Cebu, and Panay and put in the hands of the local leaders. The groundwork for a widespread intelligence net had been begun under Major Villamor with heartening results. Steps had been initiated to expand
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Guerrilla Forces on Luzon, October-November 1944Central Philippines Guerrilla Organization, October-November 1944Cabanatuan Prison Raid, 30-31 January 1945
Guerrilla Forces on Luzon, October-November 1944
Guerrilla Forces on Luzon, October-November 1944
the procurement of supplies, weapons, and capable personnel and to increase the number of intelligence parties sent into the islands. Radio stations had been established and developed until the operation of an efficient, comprehensive communications system was well on its way. A good and encouraging start had been made.
Activities of the Philippine Regional Section
The second phase of guerrilla development in the Philippines began in June 1943 with the activities of the Philippine Regional Section. This new section, formed from the original Philippine Sub-Section of AM and given semi-autonomous status, was organized in late May, under Col. Courtney Whitney, to handle the increasing problems inherent in the rapid development of events and the growing availability of supply facilities.
The assistance and co-ordination of guerrilla operations was continued on an enlarged scale, and efforts were intensified to push on from the bases established on Mindanao and Panay into the islands to the north. Additional parties were prepared for the Visayas, and plans were laid for the penetration of Luzon via Mindoro and Samar. To aid this program, facilities for the transportation of supplies under the general direction of Commander Parsons were augmented by the acquisition of more cargo-carrying submarines from the U.S. Navy.
To guide the various guerrilla leaders in the prosecution of their operations and to make maximum use of their services in the war against Japan, General MacArthur directed that his agents follow a policy of general encouragement and careful instruction without direct command interference which might incur resentment. Guerrilla groups were advised to assist in maintaining civil order so that they might receive reciprocal popular support. They were also cautioned to refrain from open and aggressive warfare against Japanese troops lest they bring reprisals on the people out of all proportion to the results achieved. The collection, co-ordination, and transmission of useful intelligence were stressed as the most important, immediate contributions the guerrillas could make to the Allied cause until the actual invasion of the islands was begun. Before that time, all military operations were to be limited to strategic harassment, sabotage, and ambush.
On Panay, despite strong personal differences, Tomas Confesor's civil government worked with Colonel Peralta's guerrilla organization to collect voluntary contributions and taxes to support the resistance movement. On Mindanao, the civil government and the guerrilla forces under Colonel Fertig were closely affiliated. With the authorization of President Quezon, the guerrillas issued their own currency and even carried on their own postal system. A planned agricultural production and distribution program was also mapped out to insure a maximum food supply. Such measures were indicative of Japanese weakness in the Philippines and of the Filipino's potential for independence.
During the latter half of 1943, the Philippine Regional Section sent two new parties to pierce the line north of the Central Visayas. (Plate No. 86) In October, Maj. L.H. Phillips led a group of agents to the island of Mindoro, just south of Luzon. Major Phillips was able to establish a radio station and develop some contacts in Manila. Unfortunately, the encouraging start made on Mindoro was short-lived. In February 1944, just three months after Major Phillips' arrival, the Japanese managed to discover his hide-out in Mt. Calavite and, after a futile attempt to escape, Major Phillips was killed and his headquarters destroyed. In July 1944, Comdr. George F. Rowe, USNR, succeeded Major Phillips as GHQ representative and was able to re-weld the severed radio link between Mindoro and Australia.
A party sent to Samar in November under Maj. Charles M. Smith, was more successful in its efforts. Major Smith set up a radio control station which was in contact with GHQ by 20 December, and established a firm base of operations for further advances. From his position on Samar, he dispatched a number of his men to Masbate, Cebu, and to south and central Luzon. The planting of agents in these various localities was to bring forth valuable intelligence information to aid in planning Philippine invasion operations.
By the end of 1943 a communications net had been established covering most of the southern Philippines. (Plate No. 87) This net formed a framework for later development and extension into the areas to the north during 1944.
Meanwhile, Commander Parsons had returned to Australia in the late summer of 1943 from his fruitful mission to Mindanao and its neighboring islands. After the information he carried back had been co-ordinated with the plans and activities of the Philippine Regional Section, Commander Parsons sit out a second time, in October, to expand the contacts made on his previous trip. He again remained on Mindanao for several months, helping Colonel Fertig to consolidate his control and to increase the efficiency and value of his organization. In February 1944, Commander Parsons conducted still another supply run to Mindanao, Tawi Tawi, and Mindoro. His name became well known throughout the southern islands of the Philippines and his "life line" supply service was famous among the important guerrilla leaders.
The first half of the year 1944 saw a marked speed-up in the activities of the Philippine Regional Section. The number of submarine-borne parties was increased and the tonnage of transported materials considerably augmented. In January, supplies were landed on Panay and Negros; in February, on Tawi Tawi and Mindanao. The month of May was a particularly active one. A large party of specially trained agents was dispatched to Colonel Smith on Samar and another to Colonel Fertig on Mindanao. Additional quantities of supplies were brought into this latter island for distribution to the north. During May, too, the first agents were sent to the island of Palawan. In June, a party with complete equipment for transmission of weather information was sent to Negros.
By the middle of 1944, as plans for the invasion of the Philippines were fast ripening, the scope of the Philippine Regional Section's expansion in the archipelago had reached the point where direct participation by the various staff sections of General MacArthur's Head quarters became desirable. The vital early steps of arranging contacts, ascertaining actual conditions and the problems facing the guerrilla movement, sending in supplies and equip-
ment, establishing an intelligence net, and organizing military commands within the areas of guerrilla activity had been largely completed. (Plate No. 88) Guerrilla activities had to be thoroughly co-ordinated with operational plans of the Southwest Pacific Area for the coming assault. In June, therefore, the functions of the Philippine Regional Section were decentralized, and the further direction of the guerrilla movement was apportioned among the General Staff sections so that the optimum result in each phase of activity could best be achieved. A nucleus of the Philippine Regional Section continued as a co-ordinating and advisory agency.
The Guerrillas on Mindanao
With all operations between SWPA and the Philippine guerrillas now channeled directly into the invasion planning of specific GHQ staff sections, the third phase of development was opened. During this stage, the guerrillas emerged from their hideouts to take their places in battle beside the advancing American divisions.
Because of its large size, its rugged terrain, and its location farthest from the center of Japanese occupation in the Philippines, Mindanao was particularly adaptable to the easy formation of guerrilla groups. Japanese troops held only a few main cities along its 1,400-mile coastline and paid little attention to the interior of the island. It enjoyed comparative freedom from Japanese surveillance and pressure and was consequently the scene of early development of guerrilla organizations.
The growth of the guerrilla movement on Mindanao was in general prototypic of the movements in the rest of the Philippine Islands. On Mindanao, however, the movement matured earlier and with less hostile interference. With the complete absence of Japanese inland patrols, small guerrilla bands quickly made their appearance all through the interior. The many mountains, limited road nets, and primitive communication facilities at first kept these groups isolated from each other, and a certain mistrust and jealousy on the part of the guerrilla leaders prevented any initial attempts at consolidation. In addition, the vast expanse of the island, with almost three weeks required to journey from east to west, increased the obstacles in the way of operational co-ordination.
As time passed, however, the bond of common purpose and the advantages apparent in unification induced the various leaders to seek some means of co-operation. The smaller groups soon blended into larger ones and finally Colonel Fertig emerged as the generally accepted commander of the Mindanao guerrillas. Colonel Fertig was a former American mining engineer who had fought on Bataan and then, upon its surrender, escaped to Mindanao to serve with General Sharp. When Mindanao, in turn, fell to the Japanese, Colonel Fertig took a group of officers and men into the hills to form the nucleus of a responsible resistance movement. By perseverance and diplomacy Colonel Fertig gradually won the respect of the other guerrilla leaders, and by October 1942 he had built up a fairly cohesive guerrilla organization.
In November, Colonel Fertig decided that the time was ripe to notify General Headquarters of the potentialities of his organization and to request assistance. He dispatched his two emissaries, Capt. J. A. Hamner and Captain Smith, on their trip to Australia which resulted in the subsequent contact by Commander Parsons. With authority over the 10th Military District as conferred by GHQ at the time
of Commander Parsons' first trip and, with the approval of the Philippine Government-in-Exile, Colonel Fertig attempted to establish a smoothly functioning civil government to parallel his military organization. Former Philippine officials were appointed as provincial governors and to other civic posts. By early 1943, conditions on Mindanao had become so stable that President Quezon authorized the creation of the Mindanao Emergency Currency Board to issue its own monetary notes for use as a medium of exchange among guerrilla forces.
Before the swift-moving events of the war made it advisable for General MacArthur to make his first strike in the Philippines directly at Leyte, it had been planned to retake the islands by an initial invasion of Mindanao. This fact, together with a convenient geographical position which eased the problem of transportation by submarine, constituted the main reason why the Mindanao guerrillas were the first to be supplied extensively. It was a sound strategical investment.
With the assistance of SWPA, the Mindanao guerrilla organization eventually became the largest and best equipped in the Philippine Islands. By January 1945, Colonel Fertig's command included a force of about 38,000 men. (Plate No. 89) His radio and intelligence network consisted of some seventy transmitter stations and an excellent and extensive coast-watcher system. GHQ was furnished with a constant stream of information which, within its limits of accuracy, helped considerably in the planning of operations against the Japanese in the Philippines. The guerrillas had also prepared airfields at Dipolog, Labo, Lala, and Barobo.
When General MacArthur was ready to retake the Philippine Islands, the guerrillas on Mindanao were in a position to contribute substantially to military operations. With the American invasion of the southern Philippines in early 1945, they began to strike openly against the Japanese forces occupying the island. They seized the airfield at Dipolog, held it until elements of the 21st Infantry landed, and later helped them defend it against strong Japanese counterattacks while a squadron of American fighters used the field as a base for operations to the south. When the American forces chased the Japanese from Zamboanga City, guerrillas set up strong positions behind the retreating enemy troops to form a wall against any further escape into the mountains. On 12 April, five days before
the first Eighth Army landings along Illana Bay on Mindanao's west coast, Colonel Fertig notified General Eichelberger that the initial objective of Malabang and its airfield already had been captured by the guerrillas. Acting on this information, the American forces made their assault further down the coast at Parang, for a drive on the enemy-held town of Cotabato. On 10 May, when elements of the U.S. 40th Division landed near Bugo on northern Mindanao's Macajalar Bay, they found that the guerrillas had cleared the Japanese from the beaches and were ready to assist in the advance to the important town of Cagayan. Aiding the drive of the U.S. 24th Division, Colonel Fertig's forces guarded Highway No. 1 from Kabakan to the Tanculan River so that the Americans could race across the island without fear of an unguarded flank. Guerrilla troops also seized the Tagum River area on north Davao Gulf, as well as Talikub Island in the Gulf itself.
The Guerrillas on Negros, Cebu, and Bohol
Slightly to the northwest of Mindanao lie the three-islands of Negros, Cebu, and Bohol. The growth of guerrilla organizations on these three islands followed a pattern very similar to that of Mindanao. (Plate No. 9o) After the usual birth pains of interfaction rivalries and petty jealousies, the islands gradually evolved their own de facto commands which eventually were unified under a few main leaders. Unlike Mindanao, where the guerrilla movement developed primarily under the leadership of American officers, these commands were mainly Filipino-organized and Filipino-led.
On Negros, the chief character to arise as commander of the central and northern portions of the island was Capt. Salvador Abcede, P.A. Captain Abcede originally was sent to Negros in November 1942 by Colonel Peralta of Panay. His initial efforts to spread Peralta's control throughout the entire island met with considerable initial opposition from other guerrilla chiefs, particularly from Lt. Col. Gabriel Gador, P.A., in southern Negros
Major Villamor's dramatic arrival in January 1943 as the forward representative of General Headquarters marked the first genuine progress toward real unification of the Negros guerrillas. His presence as an advisor accredited by SWPA was welcomed by the majority of the guerrilla leaders and, after his appointment as temporary commander of the 7th Military District in May, a general accord was worked out among the various dissident groups. Major Villamor organized the 7th Military District Headquarters, appointed a civil administrator, Henry Roy Bell, and secured authority for the establishment of a free civil government under Alfredo Montelibano, pre-war governor of Negros Occidental.
Upon his return to Australia in October 1943, Major Villamor nominated Captain Abcede as the man best qualified to assume permanent command of the 7th Military District. When this nomination was finally approved and made official in March 1944, Captain Abcede worked aggressively to improve the efficiency of his command. The remainder of the guerrilla units, including Colonel Gador's group in southern Negros, was absorbed into his organization and an amicable and satisfactory relationship was achieved with the free civil government. Captain Abcede gave particular attention to the development of his intelligence network and succeeded in providing a wide coverage of enemy activities. By December 1944, the strength of Colonel
Abcede's organization on Negros numbered approximately 13,000 men.
East of Negros is the long, narrow island of Cebu, the most densely populated of all the Philippine Islands. The story of the guerrilla movement on Cebu is primarily that of two men-Harry Fenton and Lt. Col. James H. Cushing, both American-born. With the Japanese capture of Cebu City in the central part of the island, a large number of USAFFE forces escaped to the hills, taking along a sizeable quantity of arms and supplies. Numerous guerrilla units were soon formed in the enemy-unoccupied regions to the north and south and these gradually combined into larger groups. By the middle of 1942, the guerrilla organization on Cebu was split into two bodies; one under Fenton, in the north, and the other under Colonel Cushing, in the south.
Despite marked differences in personalities and methods of operation, these two leaders quickly recognized the advisability of uniting their resources for co-ordinated action against the Japanese. A joint command was established which put administration under Fenton and combat activities under Colonel Cushing. A single staff served for both factions and areas of control were delegated to subordinate leaders.
This arrangement functioned satisfactorily until mid-1943 when critical food shortages and rapidly dwindling supplies, coupled with intensive countermeasures by the Japanese, seriously disrupted the Cebu guerrilla organization. To aggravate the situation, both leaders fell seriously ill and all activities were temporarily curtailed. During this period, dormant animosities between the two factions were again aroused; disagreements arose between Fenton and his associates. Instituting a reign of terror and persecution, Fenton engaged in a series of reckless and injudicious actions which alienated many of his officers. On 15 September he was tried and executed and his command was reorganized.
Colonel Cushing meanwhile recovered his health and, in the face of persistent Japanese anti-guerrilla campaigns, began to rebuild his weakened groups for further operations. In January 1944 he was designated by GHQ as commander of the 8th Military District and shortly afterward his organization was sent supplies and radio equipment from Australia. Colonel Cushing broadened and improved intelligence coverage on Cebu and his guerrillas throughout the island worked with increased efficiency. By April, GHQ was receiving a gratifying volume of information on Japanese movements and military operations.
On Bohol, the oval-shaped, coral island bordering Cebu on the southeast, several guerrilla groups developed, with Maj. Ismael Ingeniero emerging as the leader of the specially created Bohol Area Command.Internal friction among the guerrilla groups had to a degree alienated the civil populace and when the Japanese landed in force on the island in June 1944 the guerrilla organizations collapsed. Following the Japanese partial withdrawal in
July, Major Ingeniero's organization was largely reestablished but little useful information was extracted from Bohol before the major invasion of the Philippines.
Despite deficiencies in the resistance organizations on the islands of Negros, Cebu, and Bohol, the guerrilla forces played a significant part in the liberation of their territories when the Eighth Army invaded the southwest Visayas.
Colonel Abcede's units on Negros had done valuable preliminary work to assist the invasion troops. The guerrillas held the Japanese to a line stretching from Bacolod, the capital, on the west to San Carlos on the east. Most important towns south of Bacolod were under guerrilla control. After the landing of the U. S. 40th Division, the guerrillas, familiar with the jungle terrain, served efficiently as scouts and guides in helping to rout the Japanese from hidden retreats and successfully executed numerous combat missions assigned by the division.
Colonel Cushing's guerrillas on Cebu played havoc with Japanese patrols and movements prior to the arrival of the Americal Division. Enemy lines were disrupted and the task of the invading troops was made considerably easier. The guerrillas had also developed an airstrip and had control of all but a few areas in east and northern Cebu. After the landing, Colonel Cushing's guerrillas joined the combat patrols of the Americal Division in trailing enemy remnants which had fled to the mountainous interior.
Most of Bohol Island was free of Japanese and under surveillance of Major Ingeniero's guerrillas before the coming of the American forces on 11 April. The landing parties were met by the news that no enemy forces were in the area.
The Guerrillas on Panay and Adjacent Islands
The resistance movement on Panay was unique. It developed rapidly ; there was a minimum of discord; and a dynamic leader emerged at an early time. The guerrilla structure on Panay was built around a core of refugee troops of the Philippine 61st Division who had taken to the hills immediately after the surrender orders were published. Scarcely ten weeks after the Japanese invasion, Colonel Peralta, former G-3 of the division and a man of strong and driving character, assumed undisputed control of the main guerrilla groups. The early emergence of a generally accepted leader and the availability of a relatively large amount of salvaged supplies and equipment gave a powerful impetus to the formation of a smoothly working guerrilla command. In addition, the efforts of Panay's intrepid governor, Tomas Confesor, whose free civil government was left comparatively unmolested by the light Japanese garrison, strengthened the framework of the Panay organization and bolstered the morale of the people.
Colonel Peralta made rapid progress. By November 1942 he had reactivated the Philip-
pine 61st Division, initiated an intensive training program, and established first radio contact with Australia. He also began to extend his influence to the adjacent islands in the Visayas and even to Mindoro and Palawan. In February 1943, GHQ appointed Colonel Peralta as de facto commander of the 6th Military District which included Panay, the Romblon Islands, and Guimaras Island. While this appointment solidified Colonel Peralta's control over his own territory, it had the effect of cancelling any official authority in other regions where he had aspired to establish his influence.
In spite of this limitation, Colonel Peralta's activities in adjacent areas continued to flourish spontaneously. The small guerrilla bands on Masbate, Marinduque, Mindoro, and Palawan, having no outstanding leaders of their own, remained under the domination of the 6th Military District. Colonel Peralta soon developed one of the most extensive and efficient intelligence systems in the Philippines. He had radio contacts and courier service with the principal guerrilla chiefs in the Visayas and Mindanao and his agents were in operation as far as Luzon. Voluminous intelligence reports flowed in a steady stream from the north and the east via Masbate and Tablas Island into Panay Headquarters where they were collated and relayed to SWPA.
When the U. S. 40th Division went ashore on Panay in March 1945, Colonel Peralta's forces made a large contribution toward eliminating the Japanese. Even before the landings, his guerrillas had cleared the enemy from the outlying districts and had won possession of nine airstrips in the northern and southern parts of the island. To aid the advance of the American troops, all important bridges were repaired, roads were serviced, and key junctions were kept under control.
After the 40th Division forces had moved inland from the beaches, the guerrillas were used as guides and patrols. Guerrilla troops joined in the liberation of the capital city of Iloilo late in March and in the subsequent attack on the strong Japanese garrison at San Jose.
In the neighboring islands of Mindoro, Masbate, and Palawan, guerrilla units, though not as strong or as well integrated as those on Panay, were also helpful. On Mindoro, the Japanese fugitives in the interior were hunted down in the mountains and through the jungles; on Masbate, the guerrillas conducted their own amphibious assault and occupied the capital town; on Palawan, guerrilla groups confined the Japanese to the area of Puerto Princesa and joined in the elimination of scattered enemy pockets. With the assistance of the various guerrilla units of Colonels Peralta, Fertig, and Abcede, the invasion tasks of the Eighth Army forces in Mindanao and the western Visayas were immeasurably simplified and greatly shortened.
The Guerrillas on Leyte and Samar
Until the Spring of 1943, a dozen different guerrilla leaders contested bitterly for authority on Leyte. Although most of these men shared a desire to work against the Japanese, any thought of unification was subordinated to their individual interests. There was apparently no leader unselfish enough to put aside his personal motives for the common good or strong enough to enforce obedience from the others.
On a visit to Leyte in April 1943, Commander Parsons persuaded Col. Rupert K. Kangleon, former commander of the Philippine
81st Infantry, to attempt a consolidation of the dissident factions on the island under the guidance of SWPA. By a judicious mixture of force and diplomacy and by the strength of his own prestige, Colonel Kangleon eventually succeeded in winning the allegiance of the principal guerrilla groups to begin a reorganization of the pre-war Philippine 92nd Division. In October 1943 he was appointed by GHQ to head the Leyte Area Command, and by Fall of the following year, Leyte boasted a well-trained guerrilla force of some 3,200 troops.
On Samar, as on Leyte, numerous irreconcilable groups contended for supremacy after the removal of the Philippine Government and the dissolution of the Philippine Constabulary. Since the island was of little value strategically, there were few Japanese troops to fear, and conditions fostered the unhampered existence of a multitude of guerrilla bands. Samar, however, did not possess a man of sufficient caliber to harmonize the various prevailing differences, and as a result the island remained without any centralized authority until October 1944, the month of General MacArthur's invasion of the Philippines.
The two largest groups on Samar were commanded by Col. Pedro V. Merritt, P.A., who was established in the north, and by Manuel Valley, an escapee from Bataan, who led an organization in the south. An attempt in September 1943 by Colonel Kangleon's emissary, Lt. Col. Juan Causing, to unite these two leaders was unavailing, and although much good work was done independently by the guerrilla units on Samar, very little was contributed to aid the plans of General MacArthur's Headquarters until after the assault on Leyte.
Samar's main value lay in its use as a base of operations by GHQ's representative, Colonel Smith, whose agents working on Luzon and in the Bicols relayed accumulated information on the Japanese to Australia. Although Colonel Smith did not take an active part in guerrilla affairs, his advice was often sought and his suggestions generally heeded; he gradually won the confidence of both Colonel Merritt and Manuel Valley, and in September 1944 the two principal guerrilla groups agreed to accept him as their co-ordinator. In early October, GHQ appointed Colonel Smith as commander of the Samar Area. Colonel Smith was in the process of reorganizing the Samar units when the American forces landed on the island.
General MacArthur's invasion of Leyte on 20 October 1944 sounded the signal for the Philippine guerrillas to throw off the cloak of concealment and come forth in open warfare against the Japanese. Shortly before the assault forces were due to sail for their objective, General MacArthur issued the following alert to the Visayan guerrilla commanders:
The campaign of reoccupation has commenced. Although your zone is not at present within the immediate zone of operations, it is desired that your forces be committed to limited offensive action with the specific mission of harassing the movement of the enemy within your area and as far as possible contain him in his present positions. Intelligence coverage must be intensified in order that I be fully and promptly advised of all major changes in enemy disposition
It was on Leyte that the Filipino guerrilla and the American soldier first joined forces in battle. With the initial Sixth Army landings on the beaches at Tacloban and Dulag, Colonel Kangleon's units went into action. They dynamited key bridges to block Japanese displacement toward the target area; they harassed enemy patrols; and they sabotaged supply and ammunition depots. Information on enemy troop movements and dispositions sent from guerrilla outposts to Colonel Kangleon's Headquarters was dispatched immediately to Sixth Army.
The guerrillas also performed valuable service in maintaining public order and in keeping the roads and highways free of congestion. After the American beachheads were established, the Leyte guerrilla groups were attached directly to the Sixth Army corps and divisions to assist in scouting, intelligence, and combat operations.
On neighboring Samar, a regiment of the 1st Cavalry Division, which landed on 23 October, was aided extensively in its mission by the guerrilla units on the island. The main objective of seizing and controlling the strategic Taft-Wright Highway was achieved by a dual drive of cavalry and guerrilla forces. While the 8th Cavalry battled to capture Wright at the western terminus of the Highway, the guerrillas fought the Japanese from Taft on the east. A junction of the two forces in December cleared the enemy from the heart of Samar and prevented his reinforcement of Leyte from the northeast.
The Guerrillas on Luzon
In contrast to the rest of the Philippine Islands, which in general were lightly garrisoned, the main island of Luzon was heavily occupied by Japanese military forces. Thorough policing and frequent, intensive clean-up campaigns prevented any effective unification of the numerous guerrilla groups which sprang into existence after the surrender of the USAFFE units.
One of the earliest organizations developed on Luzon was headed by Col. Claude Thorp who, in January 1942, worked his way from Bataan through the Japanese lines to establish a headquarters in the Zambales Mountains. From this retreat, Colonel Thorp attempted to centralize operations in the various regions of the island including northern Luzon and the Bicol Peninsula. Though he made substantial progress in this direction, his efforts were brought to an untimely end. In October 1942 Colonel Thorp and several of his staff were trapped in a Japanese raid and subsequently executed. After Colonel Thorp's death, a multiplicity of independent guerrilla commands began to develop throughout the provinces of Luzon.
In the southern half of the island, three units were particularly outstanding in their growth and operations. (Plate No. 91) These were the forces of Maj. Bernard L. Anderson
in the eastern region, of Maj. Robert Lapham in the central region, and the " Marking Guerrillas " in the sector east of Manila.
Major Anderson was contacted by SWPA agents in mid-1944 and in September began to receive supplies and radio equipment brought in by the ever-busy submarines. Major Anderson's efforts to achieve co-ordination, for intelligence purposes, were enormously complicated by the concurrent existence of so many independently active organizations in the area to be covered. In addition to the Marking Guerrillas and the forces of Major Lapham, there were the Hukbalahaps in Pampanga, the East-Central Luzon Guerrilla Area (ECLGA) units of Colonel Edwin P. Ramsey in east-central Luzon, the Hunters in Cavite, the Fil-American Irregular Troops in Rizal, and President Quezon's Own Guerrillas in Batangas. These units were of varying quality and effectiveness.
Making the best of a difficult situation, Major Anderson succeeded in forwarding much valuable information from Luzon directly to SWPA Headquarters in Australia. In addition, he distributed some of the supplies he received, especially radio equipment, to other units in southern Luzon in an endeavor to increase the efficiency of the intelligence and propaganda network.
The guerrilla situation in the northern half of Luzon remained generally obscure until well into 1944. Distance, difficulty of communications, and the extensive countermeasures of the Japanese hampered any effective SWPA penetration of the upper provinces either for liaison or supply.
After Colonel Nakar's execution by the Japanese and the subsequent loss of contact between his headquarters and Australia, a series of successors attempted to carry on his work in the northern mountains and in the Cagayan Valley. The Japanese in these areas were particularly watchful, however, and, as each new leader arose, he was tracked down and eliminated. In a heroic and desperate effort to continue the movement, Colonel Nakar's intrepid lieutenants, Lt. Col. Arthur Noble, Lt. Col. Martin Moses, Maj. Ralph B. Praeger, and Lt. Col. Manuel P. Enriquez, were killed or captured by the enemy before the close of 1943.
In early 1944 the command of the main guerrilla forces in northern Luzon ultimately fell to Maj. Russell W. Volckmann, an unsurrendered American officer. Major Volckmann designated his organization as the United States Army Forces in the Philippines, North Luzon (USAFIP, NL) and set about the task of revising the whole guerrilla movement in his area in order to weld all groups into a single force responsible to a central authority. He divided his command into sectors, giving each sector commander full power to consolidate and control the fragmentary outfits in his particular area. At the same time, Major Volckmann built up a strong intelligence system to funnel all information on Japanese movements in northern Luzon to his headquarters.
Major Volckmann's forces grew rapidly and by the end of 1944 numbered some 10,000 men. The greatest drawback to the full re-
alization of his efforts, however, was the lack of radio contact with General Headquarters, SWPA. Finally, in September 1944, he succeeded in putting a makeshift radio into operation and, through this lone channel of communication, messages began to be sent and received. It was then that the guerrillas in northern Luzon first learned of General MacArthur's imminent return to the Philippines. Agents and equipment sent from Australia in November and December helped to co-ordinate Colonel Volckmann's operations with the American invasion plans.
When General MacArthur landed at Lingayen Gulf, the Japanese were caught in the midst of a general redeployment of their forces throughout Luzon. Seizing the advantages of the moment, the guerrillas broke out in full force. Roads were torn up, bridges destroyed, mountain passes blocked, and rail and motor facilities sabotaged at every turn to interfere seriously with Japanese troop and supply movements.
Shortly after the American landings, Colonel Anderson was requested to form a Filipino battalion to be attached to General Krueger's Sixth Army forces. Colonel Anderson responded by taking the best personnel at his disposal to form the first "Anderson Battalion." This unit performed efficiently and valiantly throughout central and eastern Luzon and built a battle record of 3,000 Japanese killed and 1,000 captured.
Major Lapham's guerrillas in central Luzon played a prominent part in effecting the dramatic rescue of over 500 Allied internees from the ill-famed Cabanatuan prison camp. (Plate No. 92) The first in a series of bold liberations of Allied prisoners from enemy hands, this daring raid was carried out 25 miles behind Japanese lines by a mixed force of 286 guerrillas, 121 troops of the 6th Ranger Infantry, and 13 Alamo Scouts. The guerrillas acted as the eyes of the raiding force to guide it through the brush and as its ears to be on the alert for any surprise flanking movement by the enemy. They constructed roadblocks at the northeast and southwest approaches to the stockade to hold up hostile reinforcements and also arranged for food caches so that the liberated prisoners could be fed at convenient points along the return route.
The attack was launched on the night of 30 January 1945. Within thirty minutes the entire Japanese garrison had been wiped out and the last prisoner removed from the prison area. The Rangers' return was covered by a guerrilla delaying action which successfully fought off approximately Boo enemy reinforcements sent to assault the strategically placed roadblocks. Meanwhile the litter patients from the camp were transported by guerrilla-organized carabao cart train to Sibul Springs, whence they were evacuated to a hospital at Guimba.
On 23 February, in another equally brilliant and even more extensive liberation of Allied internees, Luzon guerrillas helped troops of the 11th Airborne Division to release more than 2,100 prisoners from the Los Banos prison camp in Laguna Province on the shores of Laguna de Bay.
For several nights prior to the attack, guerrilla units infiltrated through the Japanese lines to gather in the area of Los Banos. On the morning of the 23rd, one element of the 11th Airborne crossed Laguna de Bay in amphibious craft while another element took off by plane for a spectacular parachute drop. All forces converged in a swift and co-ordinated attack which caught the Japanese guarding the camp in the middle of their morning calisthenics. The entire garrison was annihilated with prac-
arge part of the painstaking task of mopping up these dismembered but dangerous forces was performed by the various guerrilla groups whose elusive fighting tactics were particularly well suited for jungle and mountain warfare against isolated enemy troops.
General MacArthur's Tribute to the Philippine Guerrillas
The enormous volume of valuable military information sent by the various guerrilla units in the Philippines to General Headquarters constituted a contribution fully as important as their direct combat participation. The extent and degree of intelligence coverage are evident in the complex radio communication system developed under the noses of the Japanese during the days of their occupation. The entire archipelago from north to south and from east to west was literally dotted with guerrilla transmitting and receiving stations. (Plate No. 93)
Perhaps the best recapitulation of the rise of the guerrilla movement in the Philippines and its gradually growing part in the liberation of the Filipino people from the domination of the Japanese was given by General MacArthur shortly after his memorable return to Leyte when he said:
As our forces of liberation roll forward the splendid aid we are receiving from guerrilla units throughout the immediate objective area and adjacent islands causes me at this time to pay public tribute to those great patriots both Filipino and American who had led and supported the resistance movement in the Philippines since the dark days of 1942. These inadequately armed patriots have fought the enemy for more than two years. Most are Filipinos but among these are a number of Americans who never surrendered, who escaped from prison camps, or who were sent in to carry out specific missions.
Following the disaster which, in the face of overwhelming superior enemy power, overtook our gallant forces, a deep and impenetrable silence engulfed the Philippines. Through that silence no news concerning the fate of the Filipino people reached the outside world until broken by a weak signal from a radio set on the Island of Panay which was picked up, in the late fall of that same fateful year, by listening posts of the War Department and flashed to my Headquarters. That signal, weak and short as it was, lifted the curtain of silence and uncertainty and disclosed the start of a human drama with few parallels in military history.
In it I recognized the spontaneous movement of the Filipino people to resist the shackles with which the enemy sought to bind them both physically and spiritually. I saw a people in one of the most tragic hours of human history, bereft of all reason for hope and without material support, endeavoring, despite the stern realities confronting them, to hold aloft the flaming torch of liberty. I gave this movement all spiritual and material support that my limited resources would permit.
Through the understanding assistance of our Navy I was able to send in by submarine, in driblets at first, arms, ammunition and medical supplies. News of the first such shipment spread rapidly throughout the Philippines to electrify the people into full returning consciousness that Americans had neither abandoned them nor forgotten them.
Since then, as resources increased, I was enabled, after formalizing the guerrilla forces by their recognition and incorporation as units of our Army, to send vitally needed supplies in ever increasing quantities through Philippine coastal contacts by four submarines finally committed exclusively to that purpose.
I would that at this time I might name the gallant heroes of this epic in Philippine-American history, but considerations of security for the individuals, their families and the cause require that I limit myself to a generalization of their work and a statement of their brilliant achievements.
Of the latter I need but point out that for the purposes of this campaign we are materially aided by strong, battle tested forces in nearly every Philippine community, alerted to strike violent blows against the enemy's rear as our lines of battle move forward and that now are providing countless large areas adjacent to military objectives into which our airmen may drop
with assurance of immediate rescue and protection. We are aided by the militant loyalty of a whole people-a people who have rallied as one behind the standards
of those stalwart patriots who, reduced to wretched material conditions yet sustained by an unconquerable spirit, have formed an invincible center to a resolute over-all resistance.
We are aided by the fact that for many months our plans of campaign have benefited from the hazardous labor of a vast network of agents numbering into the hundreds of thousands providing precise, accurate and detailed information on major enemy moves and installations throughout the Philippine Archipelago. We are aided by the fact that through a vast network of radio positions extending into every center of enemy activity and concentration throughout the islands, I have been kept in immediate and constant communication with such widespread sources of information. We are aided by the fact that on every major island of the Philippines there are one or more completely equipped and staffed weather observatories which flash to my Headquarters full weather data morning, afternoon and night of every day and which in turn provides the basis for reliable weather forecasts to facilitate and secure the implementation of our operational plans. Widely disseminated to our forces throughout the Pacific and in China the information from this weather system has materially aided our military operations over a large section of the world's surface.
We are aided by an air warning system affording visual observation of the air over nearly every square foot of Philippine soil established for the purpose of flashing immediate warning of enemy aircraft movement through that same vast network of radio communications. We are aided by provision of all inland waterways and coastal areas of complete observation over enemy naval movement to give immediate target information to our submarines on patrol in or near Philippine waters. This information has contributed to the sinking of enemy shipping of enormous tonnage, and through such same facilities was flashed the warning to our naval forces of the enemy naval concentration off the western Philippines during the Marianas operation.
Finally we are aided by the dose interior vigilance that has secured for our military use countless enemy documents of great value, among which were the secret defensive plans and instructions of the Commander-in-Chief of the combined Japanese areas and complete information on the strength and dispositions of enemy fleet and naval air units. That same Commander-in-Chief of the Combined Japanese Fleets was a prisoner of one of our guerrilla units prior to his death from injuries sustained in an air crash.
All of these vital aids to our military operations, and there are many more still unmentioned, are responsive to the indomitable courage of the military and civil leaders whom I shall in future name and their loyal followers both Filipino and American; to gallant Filipinos, residents of the United States, who have volunteered to infiltrate into the islands in succor of their countrymen and Americans who have infiltrated with them; and finally to the militant loyalty and unconquerable spirit of the masses of the Filipino people.
As Commander-in-Chief of the forces of liberation I publicly acknowledge and pay tribute to the great spiritual power that has made possible these notable and glorious achievements-achievements which find few counterparts in military history. Those great patriots, Filipino and American, both living and dead, upon whose valiant shoulders has rested the leadership and responsibility for the indomitable movement in the past critical period, shall, when their identities can be known, find a lasting place on the scroll of heroes of both nations-heroes who have selflessly and defiantly subordinated all to the cause of human liberty. Their names and their deeds shall ever be enshrined in the hearts of our two peoples in whose darkest hours they have waged relentless war against the forces of evil that sought, through ruthless brutality, the enslavement of the Filipino people.
To those great patriots to whom I now pay public tribute I say stand to your battle stations and relax not your vigilance until our forces shall have swept forward to relieve you.