Tagatay Ridge, Luzon
By 1300 hours on 3 February 1945, General Swing had most of his division back together and he made the Manila Hotel Annex his CP (Command Post). The beautiful hotel seen in the picture above (10 months later) had been looted and ransacked long before the Americans got there, but it would suit their purposes. Frank Smith, a reporter for the Chicago Times reported that Gen. Eichelberger stated at the Annex, “The 11th Airborne Division is the fightingest goddamn troops I ever saw.”
Highway 17 would now begin to turn into a two lane concrete road. This seemed like a good sign for beating Gen. Krueger to Manila, but the 11th was short on trucks and the fuel to move them. Gasoline arrived on the 4th, delivered by ten C-47s. Forward scouts reported that the road was fairly safe as far as Imus and the 511th regiment moved out.
The 188th and the 1st of the 187th finished clearing out Shorty Ridge of the enemy and then they too moved toward Manila. It was here that Swing altered the missions of some of his units. General Hildebrand of the 187th was told to secure the main supply route (MSR) and was given control of the thousands of guerrillas of Batangas and Cavite provinces. Controlling and organizing the guerrillas was a difficult operation as they would remain loyal to whoever ran what section of which province. Coordinating their missions and tracking them and getting them supplies was extremely tedious in comparison to an Army unit. The guerrilla reports were not always reliable either. Eichelberger, in one, was told that Manila was burning to the ground. The general looked out his window and could see for himself that there was one small trail of smoke. Active patrols of the 187th, though shorthanded, drove the Japanese farther back into the mountains as they continued to move to an area south of the capital city.
On the 4th, the calvary, under Brig. Gen. Chase, arrived to release the 510 prisoners of Santo Tomas and Bilibid prison. Also on this date, General MacArthur released 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 Army coming down from the north and the Eighth Army (which was actually the 11th A/B) approaching from the south, had much work to do ahead of them. The 187th set their sights on the airfields and the areas where the Japanese manned the AA (anti-aircraft – also known as ack-ack) guns.
Posted on January 9, 2013, in SMITTY, Uncategorized, WWII and tagged 11th airborne, Airborne, Army, Broad Channel, Everett Smith, family history, Gen. Eichelberger, Gen. Swing, History, Luzon, Manila, Military, Military History, Pacific War, paratroopers, Philippines, veterans, WWII. Bookmark the permalink. 17 Comments.
The man with the cigarette looking straight on at the camera in the photo of the old Bilibid Prison is my grandfather, Sgt. Joseph A. Butkiewicz. I was looking up information on the Philippines during WW2 and was surprised to come across that photo on the internet!
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That is fantastic that you found a close relative here!! I edited the post to include your information.
Yeah! I have an exact copy of the photo. On the back he wrote “Me with a cigarette”, and he was a relatively short dude, 5’3″, so I know that’s gotta be him. Thanks! 🙂
For further context: he was in the 293rd Joint Assault Signal Company, Staff Sergeant Radio Operator.
I’m working on transcribing his letters — he was a funny guy. He even made the gossip column of the “JASCO News semi-weekly” with his pet marmoset while in Luzon. If you ever run out of content for your blog let me know, I’ve got a lot of stuff.
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I am planning on ending this blog this year, due to available space after 8 years, but I’d like to have a post about your father. If you could put together a bio of sorts 1,000 words or less and/or one of his letters. Let me know and I’ll give you the email to send it to.
Have you found a story you would like published here? I would very much like to have one of your grandfather!!
What a great blog. I’ve been working on a book about the Angels for a couple of years now.
Terrific!! Was a relative in the 11th A/B? Hope I can count on you to correct or add to these posts.
Your descriptions are so detailed that I can almost see the troop movements before my eyes. Thank you for bringing clarity to the War in the Pacific.
You are always too kind, Judy (but I love hearing it) Sometimes I think I may be getting too detailed – no?
About the Mosquito pilot…
My blog about him and his squadron has 111 posts up to now. Started in April 2010.
People find it and then share also what they know. It has not stopped since the first post…
Talk about some journey into the past.
This is what will happen with your blog about your father’s war years.
Trust me on this Gail.
Translation of my post…
Mosquilo pilots were not running in the streets in 1945, even less in the streets of Bromptonville.
Bromptonville will soon be something of the past since it was incorporated with the town of Sherbrooke.
I am sadden when towns lose their identity and then their history.
I knew nothing about this little town in the Eastern Townships before I meet in this man whose youth hero was a Mosquito pilot.
This hero was Flight Lieutenant Eugène Gagnon DFC, son of Pierre Gagnon and Georgiana Garneau.
He will live forever in the memory of the people thanks to this blog.
Thanks Pierre, yes – we need to have them all put down for posterity.
Than you for continuing to explain how and when the division split up or changed. I am not of a military background and have found myself getting lost in conversations when people start talking with numbers. I am slowly catching on and your posts are clearing up conversations from earlier years with other people.
That’s why I keep writing things out too, the military is great for using initials or acronyms for everything.
This says it all…
“The 11th Airborne Division is the fightingest goddamn troops I ever saw.”
I should say so!! Couldn’t have said it better myself.(LOL)