February 1945 (4)

US Army soldiers on Luzon

The battles for Manila, Bataan, and Corregidor were only the beginning of the Luzon Campaign. Both Shobu Group, securing northern Luzon, and the bulk of Shimbu Group, defending the south, remained intact. With about 50,000 men at his disposal, the Shimbu Group commander, General Yokoyama, had deployed some 30,000 of them immediately east and south of Manila, with the remainder arrayed along the narrow Bicol Peninsula to the southwest.

Japanese groups on Luzon

The main Japanese defenses near the capital were built around the 8th and 105th divisions, with the rest of the manpower drawn from a jumble of other units and provisional organizations. East of Manila, their positions were organized in considerable depth but lacked good lines of supply and reinforcement. Shimbu Group’s eastern defenses obviously presented the most immediate threat to American control of the Manila area and would have to be dealt with first.

As soon as Manila was secured, he wanted the 11th Airborne Division to clear the area south of the capital, assisted by the independent 158th Infantry.

A reminder of what these soldiers were up against …
The stretch of blockhouses and pillboxes and tunnels, known as the Genko Line were filled with every imaginable weapon available from the Japanese arsenal. Along mountains, under fields and connecting the rolling hills lay the traps of heinous sorts silently in wait for any or all of the troopers.

The 1,200 two and three-story blockhouses entrenched with at least 6,000 enemy soldiers that lined the southern edge of Manila. A massive feat of ingenuity.

The size of some of these tunnels is amazing.  They could be large enough for a boat or plane and then some appear too small for a human to hide in.

18 February 1945, an unusual situation was discovered in Manila when three soldiers were returning to their headquarters in a mansion set on Dewey Boulevard South. A few blocks away, the troopers entered a house only to discover three Japanese men in robes and talking while they drank their tea. Somehow, they had been operating out of that house without realizing that the American HQ and General Swing were so close. It seemed incredible they were not discovered before. The three men were killed trying to escape the building.

Going door-to-door on Luzon

The commander of the 188th regiment turned his unit over to Gen. Pearson, now commander of the 187th, and they were incorporated into the Task Force and set out to attack Mabato Point. This zone sat two thousand yards south of Fort McKinley and held the Japanese Southern Forces Abe Battalion on the northwest shore of Laguna de Bay. This position gave the enemy an excellent vantage point of observation and fields that could be set on fire. As with the rest of the Genko Line, this area had been prepared by Japanese and Filipino workers since 1942 and had fortified tunnels. G-2 estimated about 800 of the enemy were hold up on Mabato.

Pearson put the 187th traveling along the railroad tracks and other regiments and battalions to other areas. When each unit was set, mid-morning on this date, Company B of the 187th launched the attack. The 457 Parachute Field Artillery was there to support with their pack 75s. Later that afternoon, air strikes were called in because the enemy was so well defended. When napalm was used, the fires used up so much oxygen that the enemy soldiers in the tunnels began to suffocate.

 

19 February, the Task Force struck again, but were having difficulty due to Japanese mortar fire. Finally, the mortar observers were located where they hid in the trees and sharp shooters took them out. A Japanese medical officer surrendered and through a Nisei interpreter informed Pearson that there were about 400 more Japanese in the area. A Filipino volunteer went to the enemy with a message of truce, giving one half hour of cease fire time for anyone to surrender. The end result has conflicting stories, but the fighting did continue. The surviving 15 officers of Abe Battalion were marched by their commander to the Point and committed hara-kiri. By 21 February, all resistance on Mabato Point had ended, but the Japanese were far from defeated in the Philippines.

Photos and data with the assistance of Rakkasans by Gen. Flanagan; The U.S. Army; ibiblio.org; Wikipedia,  Manila Hub & “Luzon” by the U.S. Army Center of Military History by Dale Andrade

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Myriam Alley – Tacoma, WA; US Army WAC, WWII

Lancer Carlson – McKinley, WI; US Navy, WWII, ATO

George Dane – Iowa City, IA; US Army, WWII

James Elia – Gilbert, AZ; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

Ed Ficarra – Williamson, IL; US Army, WWII, ETO, 119th Armored Engineer Battalion

Annna Guzlas (102) – Connellsville, PA; US Army WAC, WWII

James Hansen – Duluth, MN; US Navy, WWII, PTO

Otis ‘Nudge’ Norris – St. Petersburg, FL; USMC, WWII, PTO

F.Stewart Stover – North Haven, CT; US Army, WWII, Pfc., Purple Heart

Dan Wescott – Los Angeles, CA; US Army, WWII, 17th Airborne Division

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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 15, 2018, in Uncategorized, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 80 Comments.

  1. Was surprised at how well planned the Japanese were with their blockhouses and tunnels lining the hillsides. Would have made things very difficult for the offensive unit. How things have changed.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. We owe so much to the bravery of ordinary men being extraordinarily courageous.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Here’s another example: your mention of the Genko Line. I’ve known for most of my life about the Maginot Line, but never heard of this. I wonder now and then why the Pacific Theater gets so little attention — or is it just my lack of attention? I suppose the fact that during WWII so many Americans were only a generation removed from Europe and still had relatives there might have something to do with it.

    Those ducklings made me laugh out loud!

    Liked by 2 people

    • To continue with my previous reply – our school systems did pretty much the same thing as the media and concentrated on the ETO. So, no it is not your lack of attention. In fact you are one of the most observant people I know.
      Glad you liked the duck – I thought they were cute little soldiers!!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Every time I read one of these posts I am reminded of the sacrifices made by so American patriots; sacrifices made so we could keep and maintain country our founding fathers left us. It is sad to see so many people today willing to throw it all away for a few moments of instant gratification or a false sense of security.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. As always,interesting history. I did steal from you though, just to let you know. The picture of the ducks, to write some crazy thing that is comming to mind as of right now.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I use here for telegraph,excuse me.
    If you can take a time,please look his blog topics↓
    “My Thoughts: We need gun reform February 15, 2018 ”
    Author is a junior attending High School .

    https://writtenbywadeglover.wordpress.com/2018/02/15/my-thoughts-we-need-gun-reform/

    Liked by 2 people

    • We do need to tighten our background checks. This is obvious from the fact that this mentally disturbed young man was able to legally buy a weapon. But- there are many ways he could have obtained one illegally and still accomplished his goal. A gun does not kill any more than a fork makes me fat. I own 3 guns and have yet to feel like killing anything – protection only. I have an argument with the media for broadcasting this news and giving so much “air time” to the mentally disturbed and sociopath – in their mind, they become famous and get world-wide attention. I commend your friend for taking an interest in our problem, but a hasty band-aid on the problem will not make it go away and neither would an outright ban on guns.

      Liked by 3 people

  7. One thing about your posts gp, they always illustrate the vast amount of warriors on the ground, both enemy and friendly, and they are moved around like chess pieces on a board, to achieve the final blow. Wonder how the Japanese warriors are remembered by their descendants today.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. The ‘please tell me how bad your day was’ poster reminds me of my early days of backpacking, G. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Weer een heel boeiend stukje en Japanners waren strijders waar iedereen beducht voor was

    Liked by 2 people

  10. My father served under MacArthur. Responsible for keeping landing craft running. Later would follow him to Japan to be part of the occupation force. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Excellent article, I am going to reblog it for you Sir.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. The words along the right margin of the article are snipped off. I wonder whether this is due to the setting of my computer.

    I managed to figure out what the missing words were though 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • No Eric, it is not your computer. This has happened to me in the past, don’t now why, but I’ll do my best to correct the situation from now on. I’m glad you could at least get the drift of the article.

      Liked by 2 people

  13. When the GI’s found those Japanese in robes and drinking tea they were shocked to say the least.
    When I read the Farewell Salutes a dust storm happens around my computer and something gets in my eyes

    Liked by 2 people

  14. I am learning about all of this for the first time. Thank you for teaching me.

    I always like to read your Farewell Salutes out loud. And after I’ve read the list I say, aloud, “Thank you so much!” to those people….more than just names…important people.

    Also, your military humor always gives me a laugh! or a snort-laugh! 😀

    HUGS!!! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • I realize that war is not interesting to everyone, but I try to have a piece of their world in the posts that might appeal to a variety of people. It is great to know, you appreciate them all.

      Liked by 2 people

  15. Lots to cover during February 1945. Not that other months weren’t busy, but reporting on a month-long battle keeps one occupied for awhile!

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Every time I read stuff like this, I’m just overwhelmed. I can’t even imagine. Thank you so much for the salute for my dear friend Dan. He will be very missed.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Thanks, GP. Not an easy task to unearth all the threats. I enjoyed the tea drinking story.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. In two different browsers (Safari and Chrome), GP, this post came in ‘clipped’ —words and ends of words missing.

    I copy-and-pasted it into a word processor where it came out ok.
    Could be just me~?
    And now to read it …

    Liked by 3 people

  19. Very interesting. Those tunnels–quite popular with Japanese (and Vietnamese).

    Liked by 2 people

  20. Some of those tunnels were so elaborate and Filipinos who built them were killed after it was finished for fear of information being leaked to the Americans.

    Liked by 2 people

  21. The line of tunnels and blockhouses does sound quite impenetrable.

    Liked by 2 people

  22. So confusing, chaotic, nothing straightforward or predictable.

    Liked by 2 people

  23. Those Japanese defences looked formidable indeed. The use of napalm to suck out the oxygen must have saved the life of many a G.I., and also indicated how such blockhouses became less effective, in the face of modern weaponry.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 2 people

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