Keep moving men …
MacArthur had given orders to Gen. Eichelberger to push the 11 Airborne Division as hard and fast as possible. The unit’s commander, General Swing, was eager to please; if fact – he was way ahead of the brass. (as usual) and the men were only too happy to make “Uncle Joe” (or “Jumpin’ Joe) proud of them.
The 11th numbered 8,200 men, about half that of a normal division. The 187th and 188th regiments had no heavy weapons, cannon or antitank companies; the 511th had only three rifle companies. The artillery was made up of two 75mm pack howitzer battalions and a 105-mm howitzer battalion with a short barrel howitzer. The 221st medical was attached to the 187th.
The Genko Line, manned with 6,000 Japanese soldiers, had roads mined with 500 pound aerial bombs and low pressure detonators. The 1,200 pillboxes that stretched from the high ground of Fort McKinley through the Manila Polo Club and across Nichols Field to the high ground of Mabato Point along Laguna de Bay were stocked with 20mm and 6 inch guns from Japanese warships. The extensive preparation for this defense began in 1942 when the Japanese first conquered the island. In the mountain areas, the tunnels wound around and opened up into supply rooms, living quarters, shrines, hospitals, etc. It was virtually an underground city and military headquarters.
At dawn, part of the 187th was at the base of Mount Aiming. This is a 1,200 foot, densely wooded mountain at the start of Mount Cariliao and then Mount Batulao. The three mountains made up a natural defense for the enemy as they truthfully peered down on the Americans. Machine gun fire, mortars, heavy artillery and grenades bombarded the men to greet the morning of February 1, 1945.
The men of the 11th were, according to the G-2 intelligence, up against some of the best enemy combat troops and they were capable of watching the soldiers advance uphill. The 674th and 675th Glider Artillery Battalions moved into position to assist the 1887th and 188th as they began their assault at 0900 hours. The area became strafed by the Air Corps fighter and A-20s. The men used rifles, bayonets and grenades to fight their way to the peak; often using the enemy caves for their own protection. By 1600 hours, they had achieved their goal. By reaching the top of Mount Aiming, the Americans had split the Japanese defense line in half.
My thanks go to General Flanagan for the exact hourly timeline of this brutal day. Anyone interested in WWII should check into all of his books.
Personal note – Judy, from greatestgenerationlessons.wordpress.com, has invited me back to her site for another guest post. My article on the state of affairs for the American family during the WWII era will appear on Monday, January 7, 2013.
Judy and I would greatly appreciate to hear your additions or feelings on the subject.
Posted on December 31, 2012, in Uncategorized and tagged 11th airborne, Army, family history, Gen. Swing, History, Luzon, Military, Military History, Pacific War, Philippines, veterans, WWII. Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.