Mount Macolod, part I
The 11th Airborne, by 4 March 1945, had captured Ternate and the following day, some of the troopers were put into a new light. There were no airdrops and no amphibious landings. They used native outrigger canoes to land themselves on Saipang Island where the enemy was using machine-gun fire on the troopers. It was mandatory for that machinery to be eliminated. Therefore, at dawn, the canoes moved out. The paratroopers behaved like natives, but fought like soldiers and the small island outpost was cleared of Japanese.
On 8 March, the Australian newspapers reported that the 11th A/B captured Calatagan and Balayan and then advanced thirteen miles east to seize Lemery.
When General Swing moved into the stripped-down Manila Hotel Annex, General Krueger began to visit him every other day. His competitive nature tried to get Swing to back-off from pushing into Manila first by saying, “don’t stick your neck out,” but Swing replied, “It’s been sticking out a mile since we landed.”
Sometimes it is better to be lucky than good. This following story carried by The Army News in March 1945 is a prime example:
Three enlisted men and an officer near Manila say this happened:
Sergeant Thomas Thompson saw a shadowy figure approaching his foxhole in the 11th A/B Division on Luzon. He shouted a challenge and in a reply drew a wild shot from a Japanese rifle.
Thompson aimed, pulled the trigger. Nothing happened.
Private Donal Otten aimed and pulled the trigger of his rifle. Another dud.
At that point the Jap hurled a grenade into the foxhole where the Americans crouched.
The grenade failed to explode.
For the attack, the 187th, the 760th & 756th Field Artillery Battalions, the 472d, the 675th Glider Field Artillery Battalion, the 44th Tank Battalion and Company B of the 127th Airborne Engineers were used. (To help avoid what could become very confusing here, I will concentrate on the 187th.) They were equipped with 155mm howitzers, 105mm howitzers, sawed-off 105mm howitzers, Sherman tanks, chemical mortars and flame-throwers. Air attacks were brought in to assist. An entire squadron of P-47s made numerous runs with bombs and then proceeded to strafe the enemy sectors.
F and G Companies of the 187th began house-to-house fighting, but were met by massive machine-gun fire. The enemy was dug in too far underground. Napalm strikes were brought in which enabled the 1st of the 187th to go around to the north of Dita and the 2d held its position near the town. This was 27 March 1945. Both units made a frontal assault into the Macolod area the following day. The flamethrowers were used on the enemy bunkers and E and G Companies made it to the top of the crest. Their M-1 fire took out snipers and more advancement was made, but the Japanese returned with mortar fire and a withdrawal was necessary. The enemy came at them throughout the night and following morning with banzai attacks. This was a fierce and bloody battle, especially for men who have never been sent into reserve.
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Posted on February 5, 2013, in Uncategorized and tagged 11th airborne, Army, family history, Gen. Swing, History, Luzon, Military, Military History, Mount Macolod, Pacific War, paratroopers, Philippines, veterans, WWII. Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.