Fast and furious

Tagatay Ridge drop

Tagatay Ridge drop

Mount Aiming had been conquered, but after all the fighting , the American now had no cover from the enemy artillery at Kaytitinga. Their two artillery battalions, along with the power of P-38s and A-20s made short order of the problem. The 188th and the 1st of the 187th made their way forward faster and faster as the Japanese retreated in earnest. The enemy left the Aga-Caylaway area so quickly, they had abandoned close to 100 tons of ammunition, along with food, clothing, documents, weapons, cigarettes, soldier’s packs and liquor. The 188th discovered ditches to trap tanks in their defense that were 25 feet across the top, 4 feet long and 25 feet deep. Bridges had to be built by the 127th Engineers to cross these trenches because the men could not go around them. By early evening of 2 February 1943, the 188th and 187th found themselves bombarded with mortar and artillery fire that lasted throughout the night.

Colonel Hildebrand, commander of the 187th, had been given control of the guerrilla units which totaled approximately 5,000 and when they were not arguing amongst themselves, ended up being credited with 2,300 enemy kills. The 11th’s own Reconnaissance Platoon, made from members of the Headquarters Company, headed toward Tagatay Ridge to meet up with the 511th, still preparing for their jump on Mindoro. (By the time the 11th A/B reaches Manila, the Recon Platoon will have spent more time behind enemy lines than in front of them.) The 511th made their jump in three waves, due to the lack of C-47s.

In this short time, they had landed on Luzon, unloaded their equipment, established a port and an airstrip, advanced nineteen miles and penetrated the enemy’s main line of resistance (MLR). On 4 February, General MacArthur said in a communique that Manila was free and in our hands, but as was his nature, he was a bit hasty in his reports. The Sixth and Eighth Armies had a lot of work ahead of them.

The 19th Infantry relieved the 2nd battalion of the 187th at Nasugbu and they proceeded up Highway 17. (their chattering monkey mascot made the journey with them). After hearing small gun fire during the night, Col. Tipton yelled out, “You trigger happy bastards stop that goddamn shooting.” The enemy began yelling back and a battle started as they charged. (the monkey mascot continued his chattering)

flamethrower

flamethrower

The 188th and the 1st of the 187th continued to advance toward the western edge of Tagatay Ridge despite the stubbornly defended Cariliao-Batulao defile. They were confronted with heavy artillery, machine gun and small arms fire as they rounded the steep bend. The southern ridge, the highest area of Tagatay Ridge would hereafter be known as “Shorty Ridge,” named after Colonel “Shorty” Soule. The Japanese artillery was extremely accurate and the 11th would soon find out the answer. Before the G.I.s even landed on Luzon, the enemy had put white crosses in the trees and had pre-adjusted their artillery to them. The soldiers were not the only ones pinned down. With them was “the spearhead tipped with brass.” Generals Eichelberger, Swing, Pierson and Farrell were in the group. Col. Coe was killed, Col. Wilson and Capt. Lyman of the 187th were wounded.

More than 300 enemy soldiers were killed on Shorty Ridge, an important area of defense for the Japanese that included reinforced caves and tunnels. The 511th was in the process of jumping.
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Personal note – Be sure to stop in and see my guest post at greatestgenerationlessons.wordpress.com this coming Monday, the 7th. Judy and I will await your honest comments. We appreciate the feedback so that both blogs will continue to improve.

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About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on January 3, 2013, in SMITTY, Uncategorized, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 19 Comments.

  1. Fantastic. I’m amazed by your accuracy. It really is remarkable.
    I’m looking forward to having you Guest Post on my blog. It’s a great piece.

    Like

  2. ps Are those chutes approaching the ground? My eyes are not what they used to be…

    Like

  3. It is incredible they had to make three drops on account of not having enough C-47s! My gosh. Never knew that… but Old Man Jack (although Navy servicing Marine Corsairs) did say on several occasions there weren’t enough assets to meet their needs. Indeed.

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  4. Excellent storytelling as always! Looking forward to your guest post too 🙂

    Like

  5. Quite interesting!

    Like

  6. Pierre Lagacé

    A reblogué ceci sur Lest We Forget.

    Like

  7. Excellent…

    Thanks again for sharing your knowledge about this campaign.

    Like

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