Los Banos Raid
23 February 1945 demonstrated the result of teamwork between General Swing and his troops, the Filipino guerrillas and the intelligence supplied by an escapee of the interment camp of Los Baños, Peter Miles. The man’s photographic memory gave a detailed layout of the prison and the exact sites of the guards and armaments. Mr. Miles had memorized the strict regimental daily routines of the Japanese and the specific times when the guards changed shifts and had their exercise periods, which would put them a safe distance away from their weapons.
By this time, Everett “Smitty” Smith was an NCO and when I’d asked him many years ago if he was part of the Los Banos Raid, he said, “No, I was occupied somewhere else.” As best as I can find in my research, he was busy with the rest of the 187th near the 457th parachute FA Battalion that was commanded by Captain Flanagan. (The captain would later become Lt. General E.M. Flanagan, author of many WWII historical books.) Although Smitty wasn’t at this dramatic feat of the 11th Airborne Division, it deserves any and all the attention it gets. It is an operation that anyone associated with the division remains proud of to this day.
href=”https://pacificparatrooper.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/losbanos_07.jpg”> 11th set fire to the barracks before leaving[/caption]
caption id=”attachment_588″ align=”alignright” width=”300″] Ringler’s jungle route[/caption]Los Banos camp was originally the University of the Philippines Agricultural School. It was situated forty miles southeast of Manila and on this date in history was 26 miles behind enemy lines. This operation needed a multi-pronged attack using each principle of war to the maximum. (The 9 principles will be explained in the following post. It will help explain this complicated operation) Above photo shows actual path taken to sneak to the camp.)
The guerrillas provided intel and also guided Lt. Skau’s reconnaissance platoon into position under the cover of darkness. The army did help supply them with radios, ammunition and food, but the loosely organized groups also later stole the 11th’s supplies, calling it a justified gift.
First Lt. John Ringler was in charge of those troopers who would drop 900 yards from the camp. They made their jump at approx. 500 feet instead of the usual 700-1,000′ since the drop zone was so small and the men would have less exposure time. They made three V’s-in-trail by the nine Douglas C-47s from the 65th Troop Carrier Squadron, 54th Troop Carrier Group. Some of the men ran across open fields to achieve their assigned positions. Ringler and his company went down a riverbed from the northeast (photo) while others came from the south and southeast.
Major Burgess went across Laguna de Bay with the amphibious vehicles as the main attacking force. The noisy amtracs slowly made their progress to shore with hopes the enemy had not heard their arrival. Once on the beach, the 457th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion dismounted at San Antonio to defend the area.
On land, Lt. George Skau and his 31-man platoon infiltrated with the Filipino guides and banca crews. (a sailing vessel usually used for fishing and trade) Once the men eliminated the tower sentries and guards, the soldiers attacked and entered the camp. The internees ran into their barracks or ditches when the firing began. One man said that at the start of the war, they were still using WWI materiel, so when they spotted the domed helmets of the troopers, they believed the Germans were there to help the Japanese. When the reality of the situation became apparent to them, the G.I.s had over 2,000 excited and hysterical people to contend with, but many of them were unable to walk. Every moment was crucial as the enemy could arrive at any minute. Sometime during this period, the guerrillas faded back into the jungle.
The 11th Airborne’s G-4 amassed 18 ambulances and 21 trucks to take the 2,122 internees to the New Bilibid Prison, where they would remain for a few weeks before being shipped home to the U.S.. They had been prisoners for three years.
The 188th had some casualties while confronting the enemy, but not one person was killed during the raid. The story of the Los Banos Raid was downplayed in the newspaper because of the fall of Iwo Jima. Reporter Frank Smith was at the raid, so the story did get out somewhat. (a photo of a headline will be in the following post.)
The Japanese supply warrant officer, Sadaaki Konishi, who actually ran the camp, was able to escape the American raid unharmed. He, along with others of the enemy and the YOIN (Filipinos that were pro-Japanese – makapili) continued to kill and burn the homes of the surrounding population. He was later accused of six counts against the laws of war, tried and found guilty of five charges. Sadaaki Konishi was executed on 17 June 1947.
Posted on January 25, 2013, in Uncategorized, WWII and tagged "Angels", 11th airborne, Army, family history, Gen. Swing, History, Los Banos, Luzon, Manila, Military, Military History, paratroopers, Philippines, WWII. Bookmark the permalink. 27 Comments.