Los Banos (1)

Generals Eichelberger and Swing discussing plans of operation on Luzon

“I doubt that any airborne unit in the world will ever be able to rival the Los Baños prison raid.  It is the textbook airborne operation for all ages and all armies.”

____ General Colin Powell, US Army, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, 25 February 1993

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 Baños 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 Field Artillery 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.

Lt.General E.M. Flanagan

G-2 Henry Muller was required to collect any and all intelligence that he could, from anywhere he could find it – that was his job.  A grower from Mindanao who had recently traveled south from Manila told him how awful the prisoners of Los Baños were doing.  This was the first Muller had heard of the camp.  It turned out Gen. Swing, commander of the 11th Airborne Division also had not been told about it.  They presumed that being it was outside the area of their orders from MacArthur to be the reason of this lack of info.  But Muller could not forget what the grower had said, “They are in pitiful shape.  They’re dying.”  He had to find out all he could about that camp.

BGen. Henry Muller, Jr., G-2, 11th A/B Div.

During the attack toward Manila, Swing’s staff had been gathering intelligence and drawing up plans for the raid on Los Baños, located 40 miles (other resources say 26 miles), behind Japanese lines. As envisioned, Swing wanted his planners to use both an airborne and amphibious attack. Swing wanted his paratroopers to land near the prison compound and destroy the Japanese garrison while his amphibious force swept across Laguna de Bay equipped with vehicles for transporting the internees to safety. Additionally, Swing felt that a diversionary attack was crucial to draw the Japanese troops away from the camp.

The raid would entail of a four-pronged attack. The 511th PIR Provisional Reconnaissance Platoon under Lieutenant George E. Skau, aided by local guerrillas, would move into an area opposite the camp prior to the strike. Then, simultaneous with a parachute drop of Lieutenant John M. Ringler’s Company B of the 511th PIR and an amphibious landing by Major Henry A. Burgess’s 1st Battalion, minus the airdropped company but reinforced with a platoon from C Company, 127th Airborne Engineer Battalion and two howitzers from Battery D, 457th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion, the recon platoon and guerrillas would eliminate the sentries along the wire.

Jerry Sams at Los Banos. pic taken w/ his hidden camera

While the amphibious force amtracs of the 672nd Amphibious Tractor Battalion rolled up onto the beach from Laguna de Bay and continued toward the camp, the company of paratroopers would link up with the recon platoon and guerrillas and wipe out the rest of the garrison. When the amphibious force reached the camp, it would deploy to the south and west to block any reaction by the Japanese.

Margaret Whitaker helping her mother wash her hair at Los Banos

The fourth force would form a flying column composed of the 1st Battalion, 188th Glider Infantry Regiment, commanded by Lt. Col. Ernie LaFlamme, the 675th Glider Field Artillery Battalion, the 472nd Glider Field Artillery Battalion, and Company B of the 637th Tank Destroyer Battalion and move by road around the southwest end of Laguna de Bay up to the gates of the camp. This force, under the command of Lt. Col. Robert H. Soule and designated “Los Baños Force,” would bring enough trucks with it to carry out all the internees and paratroopers. If the fourth group could not reach the camp, the internees could be ferried out in the amtracs across Laguna de Bay while the paratroopers fought their way out. The raid was scheduled for dawn on February 23, 1945, a moonless night.

TO BE CONTINUED…

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Samuel Baney – Houma, LA; US Navy, WWII & Korea

Robert Conway – Lubbock, TX; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 43rd Infantry

Edward Duncan – Clyde, MI; US Army, WWII

Jill Farquharson(102) – NOR; Air Transport Aux. “ATA Girl”, WWII, ETO, pilot

Charles Jonason – Howard Beach, NY; US Navy, WWII

Albert Kirlin – Lincoln, NE; US Air Force, PTO Occupation

Elenor Peat – Dargaville, NZ; RNZ Air Force # W4377, WWII

Wallace Stack – Levittown, PA; US Army, SSgt., 82nd Airborne Division

Paul Tomas SR. Ambry, PA; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Steven Zozaya – Kingman, AZ; US Army, WWII, PTO, Purple Heart

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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 19, 2018, in Uncategorized, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 90 Comments.

  1. A great moment in the history of the fate of FEPOWS.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Reblogged this on Subli and commented:
    The most daring rescue mission in military history!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Well that story certainly got my attention gp, the story so far depicts a very thought out and coordinated plan, look forward to the rest of this amazing rescue.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I remember watching about the Los Banos on the History channel

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Ack! To be continued?! Hopeful for a happy ending…

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This was very interesting to read, looking forward to the next part!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I saw the movie, and like all flickers, it couldn’t do the real story justice. Thanks for the education.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. A cliffhanger! OK, ready for the next chapter,

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Excellent stuff! I’m waiting eagerly for the next instalment.

    Like

  10. Very good GP; Wondering if this (link below) “The Great Raid” is a Hollywood fabrication of Los Banos. At the movie’ s start it states “inspired by true events”

    Liked by 1 person

  11. The complexity of these operations is simply amazing. I keep thinking about their communications capabilities — or the lack, more specifically. I wonder sometimes if all our technology isn’t counterproductive — there are boaters I know who are so accustomed to GPS, electronic depth finders, and such, they haven’t learned how to plot a course on a paper chart. I think that’s one reason I loved watching Elon Musk’s Tesla head off to the asteroid belt — it renewed a lot of people’s faith in our ability to figure out how to make a complicated mission work.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I’m wondering,; how many more of these camps am I going to read about, will they never stop? The camps are a blight on the Axis powers of the world wars. 70 or more years on I still find myself shaking my head in disbelief.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Ik kijk uit naar vervolg maar met zoveel voorbereidingen op alle vlakken denk in dat het doel zal bereikt worden

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Super, GP. Can’t wait for the next one.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Great read, though not sure whether to be excited or anxious about Part 2. Fascinating stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I will wait for part two, GP. Even though I know the outcome, this is edge of the seat stuff!
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. That lone soldier in your Farewell section–what a picture. I’m saddened just seeing the picture.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m sure your son can attest that it is sometimes a very lonely life getting out there to watch our backs. God love ’em!!

      PS. I am sending a budding writer to your site. Her name is Emily.

      Like

  18. Certainly a worthy attempt. I look forward to the next instalment

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Anxiously awaiting the next installment.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. I look forward to reading the rest of the story!
    🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  21. I am on pins and needles to read the rest of this riveting rescue operation. I am impressed to read that in this episode a humanitarian decision was made that had apparently no military value.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. I’m hooked! I’ll be here for part II (through whatever). then again, I’m here anyway.

    Great story. I am looking forward to the rest of it.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. I’ve been waiting for this post for sometime. The preparation for this rescue was well thought of. You can probably stretch it to even 4-5 posts. The mission was just incredible.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I could very easily stretch it out, but I know many of the readers would like to move on. As I’ve said in many a comment, so much happens in this time of the war, it is difficult to clearly describe everyone simultaneously.
      I know this part of the war is very close to your heart.

      Liked by 2 people

  24. aw I wanted to find out the rest of it 🙂 hopefully to be continued very soon!

    Liked by 2 people

  25. Thank you very much.

    Like

  26. This is much appreciated.

    Like

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