Los Banos Raid

Los Banos camp, university building

Los Banos camp, university building

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.

Maryknoll sisters before interment 1942

Maryknoll sisters before interment 1942

href=”https://pacificparatrooper.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/losbanos_07.jpg”>11th set fire to the barracks before leaving 11th set fire to the barracks before leaving[/caption]

Amtracs approaching Los Banos (bottom left of pix)

Amtracs approching Los Banos (bottom left of pix)

[

caption id=”attachment_588″ align=”alignright” width=”300″]Ringler's jungle route 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.

Internees rescued

Internees rescued

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.

Los Banos missionaries reunited w/ their families

Los Banos missionaries reunited w/ their families

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.

wounded internee for transport

wounded internee for transport

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.

CECIL BARRETT, HERMAN BEABER, LEO STANCLIFF & WILLIE JAMIESON

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.)

Internees arrive at Mamatid

Internees arrive at Mamatid

Sister Mary Beata Mackie, after release

Sister Mary Beata Mackie, after release

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.

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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 25, 2013, in Uncategorized, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 27 Comments.

  1. My husband’s aunt was about 5 years when her family were taken as prisoners at Los Baños. Her parents were missionaries and they fled to the forest to hide. They did survive for a time hidden in what they called the “forest farm.” Soon they had to surrender as they were afraid of being killed if found. They were there for 3 years and their whole family managed to survive. Thank you for writing about this rescue. I get tears in my eyes every time I read about the rescue. It was one of military’s proudest moments!

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    • Very happy to hear of this story and that your aunt-in-law’s family survived the camp until the !!th Airborne arrived!! I greatly appreciate you sharing the story, thank you, Nikita.

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  2. Barbara Carroll

    You may have known my dad Robert Carroll who was one of the 11th paratroopers on that mission.

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    • It was my father, Smitty (Everett Smith) who was in the 11th A/B, so it is possible they were acquainted, but unfortunately dad used nicknames when he told me the stories. [Like his was naturally “Smitty” but also some called him “Pops” because he was older than most of the men.] Do you have any stories from your father? Feel free to add them here – the more the merrier!

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  3. If you desire to get much from this article then you have
    to apply these strategies to your won webpage.

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  4. It was always so sweet that the 11th Paratroopers would have their NYC reunion on February 23rd. Some of those years a few of them would visit the remaining Maryknoll sisters on that occasion. I have a photo of my aunt, Sr. Mary Beata Mackie, with Frank Forlini visiting her in 2004, she was almost 103 years old. Can I leave a photo on this website for you?

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    • Most certainly!! I would be honored to have her picture; I’ll even forward it on to “The Voice,” 11th’s newsletter if you like. 23 Feb. 1943 was when the 11th Airborne was created. Your aunt must have been a very strong woman to go thru being a prisoner and then surviving to 103, God was REALLY looking over her.

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      • Hi gpcox (what is your name?), Attached are some photos if you want to use them. #1. The 50th anniversary at Maryknoll of the liberation of Los Banos. #2. Sr. Mary Beata Mackie about 1955. #3. 2004 Sr. Beata and paratrooper Frank Forlini celebrating the rescue together.

        Take care, Chris

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  5. Christine Snyder

    You can read an article I wrote about my aunt, Sr. Mary Beata Mackie, and the other Maryknoll Sisters rescue. I also interviewed Sgt. John Fulton for this article. He was on the History Channel’s special about the amazing and daring operation. http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/remembering_a_world_war_ii_death_trap_and_a_miraculous_rescue

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  6. Christine Snyder

    Hi, thanks so much for a thorough report on this much forgotten, yet most successful rescue ever! My aunt, Sister Mary Beata Mackie, a Maryknoll missionary in the Philippines was among those rescued. You have her photo above, however that was taken “before” the war, just FYI. She and all the other sisters returned to their Motherhouse in Ossining, New York, thank God. And Sr. Beata then went back for many many years to continue their good work with the wonderful Filipino people.

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    • Newspapers, tv and movies tend to harp on every little thing the marines did (they deserve recognition – don’t get me wrong) and shy away from the army. I can’t believe I actually am writing to a survivor’s relative, I think that’s fantastic. At least the History Channel did that story.

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  7. I’m very interested in WWII in the Philippines. Thanks for your posts. Do you know the origin of the Los Banos photo with the plumes of smoke rising from the barracks?
    Thanks so much.

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  8. Fascinating insights.

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  9. Enjoy your history posts very much

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  10. Straightforward and factual reporting. Darn good job, my friend.

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    • I feel honored that you say so. The 11th was always scattering around in all directions, first I read to understand before I can condense it for my readers. They don’t always make that an easy job. First too much info and then not enough.

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  11. I remember how exciting, yet still nerve-wracking it was, when we started getting reports of the Americans finally turning the tables in that war.

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  12. gpcox,
    I didn’t know a thing about this. Thanks for the history lesson. I never doubt your research. Thank you.

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  13. Thanks again Gail for posting this story, so people who did not know now will.

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