Hill 3355 & Patag Region - Situation as at 15 May '45

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

John D. Reynolds, 22.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Patrol,  Negros , P.I.,  June 1945 -  the veterans amongst us hadn't slept under a solid roof in over two years.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

INTRODUCTION   CHRONOLOGY

 
PHASE II PHASE III PHASE IV

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PHASE II

13 MAY to 19 JUNE 1945

 

 

Phase II activity was concentrated to the northeast and to the east of Murcia. Major objectives were Danao (which is not shown on the map), Patog (which may be Pitog HDA) and some hill designated as Hill 3355.  A buzzword for the Phase II operation was a so-called 'Secret Trail' leading into the Danao area. Fighting on the lower foothills and the ridged foothills of Phase I would be replaced with fighting in a rainforest type terrain and would eventually end high on a cold, clammy, damp and miserable mountain. 

"Now we would come face to face again with the old enemy we became so well acquainted with on Noemfoor, disease.  Disease was so prolific in the steamy rain forest.  Such diseases as scrub typhus, with its high mortality rate, equally deadly meningitis, malaria, dengue, hepatitis, dysentery, and so on. Any scratch could lead quickly to septicaemia and in turn to meningitis.  In this environment normally mild diseases or infections could become life threatening within hours."

Bill Calhoun, F Co.

 Phase II would continue for approximately 27 days.

 

RCT Periodic Report No. 36,  151500 May 45 - 161500 May -

 

"OUR OPERATIONS: Infantry”

(1.)     1st Bn: Nil activity night of 15-16. An "A" Co. patrol sighted 4 enemy. One enemy was killed during the short fire fight before the remaining withdrew. The patrol reported locating a well and recently used trail running generally N & S which was followed.  No further contact was made. A "B" Co combat patrol to the SE made nil contact through 161130 and out of communication with Bn. at end of period.

(2.)      2nd Bn: Nil activity night 15-16. An "E" Co patrol progressed N  & W along "SECRET TRAIL' to reconnoiter for further Bn. advance. Reported trail in fair condition but bearing too far to the W for progress to the ROT objectives.  An "F" Co patrol worked NW through dense undergrowth to reconnoiter route of advance to RCT objective.  Reported no trail, no contact, and extremely difficult terrain.

Keep in mind that the 3rd Bn has now been attached to the 40th Infantry Division. 

"As the report shows, we were now patrolling in the dense forest.  With the companies at full strength the pa­trols would not have taxed us.  But we were at half strength and less.  A few patrols took all the men.  A combat patrol with the entire company involved might be too small.  Much of this type of patrolling was our mission.  We were traveling good distances in remote areas.

The apparent taking of Hill 3355, as suggested in PR 438 (171500 May 45 - 181500 May 45) did not take place. The PR is not really clear on this point.  We are learning to use our artillery and heavy mortar support more and more.  Many lives were saved by this properly used support.  Most, if not all, of the Jap prepared defensive positions encountered on Negros were positions that denied flanking movements, so frontal attacks had to be made.  The only sane method of combating such positions was to blast them out with artillery and mortars. "

Bill Calhoun, F Co.

 

The point Bill Calhoun makes is best supported by the following account from "D" Co.’s history,

22 May 45:  "At 0800 the CO, Lt. Collins, the 3rd platoon under Lt. Watkins, and the 2nd platoon under S/Sgt Minor moved E on "SECRET TRAIL" to assault the enemy position."

What was left of the 1st platoon, which had suffered heavy casualties, had been incorporated as a squad into the 3rd platoon.  Thus, at this time there were only two rifle platoons operating in "D" Co. The “D” Co. history continues:-

“As the 3rd platoon led up the side of the ridge an enemy outpost opened fire and wounded Pvt. Rouse in the head.  Under heavy small arms and HMG fire the 2nd and 3rd squads laid down a base of fire.  The 1st squad under S/Sgt Dablock unsuccessfully attempted to flank the enemy on the left. While the 3rd platoon continued to fire, the 2nd platoon attempted to flank the position on the right but were prevented by the steep slope leading to the Jap position. After the enemy evacuated this area it was discovered that the position consisted of a total of 24 pillboxes in 3 supporting lines surrounded by slopes too steep to climb without great difficulty.  When flanking the enemy was found to be hopeless, the Co withdrew and returned to the perimeter at 1330 One enemy was killed during attempted night infiltration." 

We all have forgotten certain events, and we all remember certain events.  This is one event which I still remember.  Immediately after the first burst of enemy fire there came the sound of a steel helmet hitting the ground as it began to bounce down the steep slope of the high ridge we were climbing. There were perhaps 10-12 sounds of the helmet hitting the rocky slopes as it fell towards the bottom.  I have forgotten many things but I can still hear the sounds of that helmet bouncing down the slope.  I have no idea whether or not it belonged to Pvt. Rouse.

"Gen Brush ordered 3rd Bn. return to our control. Co's will start returning, as tactical situation permits." 1400 - 3rd Bn. returned to RCT control. Units began arriving."

 (Extract RCT S-1 Journal: 26 May, 1945)

 

RCT Periodic Report No. 47, 261500 May - 271500 May 45

Infantry: "B" and "C" Co's began an assault on the crest of Hill 3355 and secured the objective . . . ."

Artillery ­- The artillery provided harass­ing fire throughout the period in addition to fifteen times on target and two support fire missions. 730 rounds were fired by the battalion C. Engineers:

Construction and maintenance of supply route -  The engineers are building hand rails up the 70-80 degree inclines over which the supplies must be carried.

  At this time the RCT was high on top of the mountain. 

"Everything was wet and cold.  Clouds covered the mountains much of the day putting us in a fog.  Our fatigues were not sufficient to keep us warm. All we had besides them were ponchos.  We wished for field jackets, but this was impossible.  Sickness was not long in appearing, particularly respiratory illnesses.  The hot, wet forest below was much more preferable to the cold, wet forest up here . . . . I would have given a month's pay for a blanket."

 Bill Calhoun, F Co.

 Operations for the next 8 days included constant patrolling by all three Battalions of the RCT, with occasional fire fights with dug-in enemy bunkers and other strong points.  RCT artillery and 4.2 mortar support continued throughout the period and their support was invaluable during the time period.

 

6 June 45:  "At 1430 the company started back to the regimental CP appr 5 kilo. NE MURCIA."

(Extract - D Co history)

6 June 45: "The orders to move to the regt. CP came today The men are in good spirits with the thoughts that the mission had at last come to an end. The long hike down the steep ridges and treacherous ravines is made.  The men cheer as they came into open terrain and into the sunlight."

(Extract - F Company history)

Periodic Report No. 59, 071500 June 45 - 081500 June 45.

Infantry - The Inf Bns. be­gan movement to new locations 080730 hrs . .

 

Periodic Report No. 60, 081500 June 45 - 091500 June 45.

Infantry: Movement of Bn's into new zones of action sectors were completed. Bn's. started building camps and improving bivouac areas."

 

Phase II had come to an end.  It had been marked by complete testing of the trooper's ability to fight and survive in the most rugged type of terrain.  The rain forests and the mountains had replaced the plains and the foothills of Phase I. The frontal assaults of Phase I had been replaced with jungle patrol­ling and intensive artillery and mortar support when strong points were en­countered.  The wisdom of the Phase II approach probably permitted the sur­vival of those who finally came down off “ the Mountain.”

Phase III was about to get under way.  This 27-28 day period was to be short, but at least it gave all of us a chance to recover somewhat from the terrible conditions we experienced in Phase II.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

INTRODUCTION   CHRONOLOGY

 
PHASE II PHASE III PHASE IV

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

 

 

 

 

         

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