Mount Macolod, part I

Mount Macolod, Luzon, P.I.

Mount Macolod, Luzon, P.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.”
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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.
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Mount Macolod area map

Mount Macolod area map

Mount Macolod was not some minor hill to be taken, this was a major battle for the 11th Airborne and the recovery of Luzon. It stands nearly 3,107 feet, nearly vertical. On two sides, after a 1,200 foot drop, has three ridges descending gradually. The north to south nose was known as Brownie Ridge, the east as Bashore and the third, a heavily wooded area that connected Mt. Macolod with Bukel Hill. Brownie Ridge was the most heavily fortified section encompassing those infamous caves and tunnels previously built by enslaved Filipinos. G-2 (Intelligence), informed the soldiers that they would be up against the Japanese 17th Infantry Regiment and the 115th Fishing Battalion (Suicide Boat Unit), under the command of Colonel Masatoshi Fujishige (Fuji Force).

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.

door-to-door fighting

door-to-door fighting

Machine gun hideout Machine gun hideout[/caption
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Please remember – click on to any photo to enlarge. Thank you for stopping to read.

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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 February 5, 2013, in SMITTY, Uncategorized, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 17 Comments.

  1. Was there a bridge involved in this battle?

    I knew a man who fought in this battle. He was Don Seiler of the 11th A/B. He died in January 2000 at age 73. According to his stories of this battle – after three days on alert in Guam, pumped up on speed, they did indeed jump into the jungles around Macolod. An ill wind blew them away from their targets and many of them were slaughtered while hanging in the trees.The survivors eventually regathered and walked down a road littered with corpses until they were confronted by what he called “the deadly Mitsubishis,” machine guns firmly entrenched and mortar shelling – pinning them in their fox holes. He barely escaped with his life.

    He was later driven to alcohol and used to say that Macolod was where he became “unhinged.”

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    • It sounds to me like your friend was in the 511th Reg. and the story of being blown off was probably at Tangatay Ridge. His reaction to it sounds very similar to (what they call today) PTSD. I would have to check my notes on the terrain for a bridge, but quite possible. Thank you for your curiosity.

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      • Now that I think about it, based on your description of the mountain, maybe he was saying “Macolod Ridge.” The way he said it sounded like “McCloud Bridge” to me.

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        • There were plenty of ridges on the mountains all through the terrain, so my money is on the ridge, not bridge. For the best information, I would recommend any of the books General E.M. Flanagan wrote on the subject of the 11th A/B. A very dear man and wonderful author.

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  2. I want to know more in detail about what happened in the 300mm howitzer of the japanese and what type was it.

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  3. Thankyou for visiting Wallaroo Photo Journal and for liking my photos. You have an extremely interesting blog here. Keep up the good work!

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  4. Two shots and one grenade – all duds – me thinks someone above was looking out for these men.

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  5. Fascinating post! Thank you!

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  6. Interesting history. Is that a scene at Mount Macolod the picture on the left? I’m curious, did Mount Macolod receive heavy bombardment at that time?

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  7. I had no idea that the Japs had a suicide boat unit.

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  8. Always informative reading of a little known campaign in history books.

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