FOR NEGROS ISLAND TURNED OUT
ONE OF THE TOUGHEST. WE
SUSTAINED MANY CASUALTIES.
Ralph E. Llewellyn
asked by Harold (Dick) Templeman to write on the Negros Island
Operation in the Philippines for the new edition of the Return
to Corregidor. I told him there should be many more
knowledgeable than I, but would give it a try.
several attempts to put something on paper, I realized I could
only remember a few places where action or events tend not to
let one forget. Many periods I could not remember at all until I
remembered my Mother had said that she had saved all my letters.
If you are able to find letters you wrote over 34 years ago, you
are in for an experience! I can only say after reading my own
letters, it seems as if they were written by someone else. Many
events, places, and people I wrote about cannot be recalled
after this much time. In addition to these letters and what I
remembered, my sources of information include discussions at
past reunions and help from John Habecker, Johnnie Grooms,
George Kojima, and Joe Shanahan, all of whom were in my platoon.
Also, you must realize this will be the viewpoint of a
nineteen-year-old Pfc who at the age of eighteen was told by the
draft board if he did not graduate by January, he would be
drafted without a high school diploma. I have often wondered if
I had not gone to summer school would they have drafted me
before I graduated from high school?
of our 503rd Reunions, a Regimental Headquarters man stated that
even though the Negros Operation was our last, we sustained our
highest casualties over any of the previous ones. How true this
is I do not know, but I do know after 67 days in combat, our
machine gun platoon was down to one gun and four or five men. So
far as I know, there were only six men in our platoon who
started from Mindoro and were present when the Japs surrendered.
Again, let me stress, the following will be a very narrow view
of the Negros Operation; it will only be what was seen by one 30
cal. machine gun platoon attached to E Company.
2nd and 3rd Bn. of the 503rd RCT left Mindoro Island around the
last of March, 1945, with the 1st Bn. to follow. We were told we
would be jumping from C-46's rather than C-47's which we were
used to. I can remember worrying that I might draw the door that
was opposite to the ones we were used to jumping from in the
C-47's. This was "no sweat", since we didn't jump but landed on
Panay Island and took LCI's to Negros Island. We were
transported in 40th Division ducks through the town of Bacolod,
past bombed-out Japanese air fields where we were to start the
longest action of the war for our outfit.
first thing I can remember was E company leaving the area of 2nd
Bn. and crossing a wide deep river with some Philippine
guerrillas and capturing a couple of Jap trucks. After a few
days, by interchanging parts, we got one truck to run and off we
went to the nearest village. Since we were the first troops into
the village, we were showered with chickens, fresh meat, eggs,
fruit, etc., before we made a fast retreat back to our perimeter
when a native came running down the street yelling, "Japs are
coming!" The fresh meat was supposed to have been monkey meat,
but whatever it was, it was a relief from the K-rations that
were being dropped to us by piper cub airplanes. Somehow, two
Philippino women got on that truck (we will call them "laundry
girls"); we named them "Caribou Sally and Dirty Gertie". We were
told later the dirt road we used going to the village was mined
with 100 lb. bombs and how we missed them I will never know
because we ran into several roads later on that were mined with
left this area, recrossed the river where a man was lost by
drowning, and after an all-day march reached either D or F
Company. We then tried to set up a perimeter to their left flank
but were unable to hold the hill. The thing I remember about
this position, the Japs had dug a long deep trench or tank trap,
I don't know which, and several E Co. men were wounded. Finley,
from our machine gun squad, got a "homer". The thing I remember
about this action was Finley's saying, "Those dirty blankety-blanks
shot me through the gut. Get the hell out of here. I will hold
them off because I am going to die anyway."