"NEGROS - ONE OF THE TOUGHEST"
_________________
Dr. Ralph E. Llewellyn
 

 

 

 

 


 

This article was originally published in the 1977 reprint of The Return To Corregidor by Harold Templeman

 

 


THE BATTLE FOR NEGROS ISLAND TURNED OUT TO BE
ONE OF THE TOUGHEST. WE SUSTAINED MANY CASUALTIES.
 

By Dr. Ralph E. Llewellyn

I was 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.

After 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?

At one 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.

 The 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.

The 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 these bombs.

 We 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."

 

 

   

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