NOVEMBER 1944

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26 NOVEMBER - 2 DECEMBER 1944

 

26 November 1944

 

 

1000 hr

Air raids over Tacloban and Dulag up the beach have greatly increased in intensity. Curtains of ack-ack have been put up almost continuously by Navy ships off shore. Results- unknown.

Tomorrow ammo and pouches will be issued. One truck, to be mobile loaded and come in on D Day, will be at disposal of Bn. It will be loaded with 60 and 82 MM mortar ammo and some 75 ammo, plus Bn C.P. equipment, medical bundles and some communication equipment. S-3 is loading its field desk on that truck; C.O. and S-1 are loading field desk, typewriter, office supplies and 2 tables, 4 chairs. Barracks bags and footlockers will come ashore D+14; the kitchen D+22, and organizational equipment D+30.

Equipment to be worn and carried on mission is still undisclosed.

 

 

 

27 November 1944

 

 

1100 hr

A sea and air battle that lasted for 3 hours took place just over the horizon. Heavy ack-ack was visible from shore, and at times numerous Jap planes and P-38’s filled the air over the ships, just beyond the horizon. Air battles lasting an hour also took place about 3 miles inland of our camp. 2 Jap planes were knocked down, to no P-38’s.

1300 hr

A telegram from G.H.Q. states that 2 Jap planes loads of suicide troops are in the area. They did not jump, but landed 2 planes on the beach, one 3/4 mile north of our R.T.C. camp, and one 1 1/2 mile south of our camp. Their obvious mission is to disrupt communications, raid important C.P.’s and do all possible damage. One plane load escaped intact into the wooded inland, while 2 Japs were killed in landing of the other plane, and 2 of its capacity were killed charging thru nearby tents before taking to the woods. The Japs shouted “Banzai”in their charge. The planes landed at 0300 hr and took all unaware.

A Bn guard is posted on perimeter of our area to be onlook-out. Listening posts will be maintained during hours of darkness.

1600 hr

An alert has been issued by G.H.Q. to all units: “Be on look-out for possible parachute or sea-borne attack.”An additional sea-ward lookout has been added to the Bn guard, and duty officers and runners awake all night in C.P.’s. The air-sea battle over the horizon this A.M. may have written history in the Philippine Campaign, and given grounds for present apprehension. The weather is now suitable to Jap ship movements; overcast and squalls. With his inferior Navy, he has always in the past waited for bad weather to sneak in a convoy. The memorable Bismark Sea convoy to reinforce Lae was attempted in similar weather.

 Communications on Leyte parallel the coast, and are limited to the one road. The two plane loads of Japs landed last night could do serious damage to network of communications, greatly to the advantage of any attacking units.

 Machine gun positions are being dug on the beach, mortars ranged in, and everyone will wear helmet and weapon with which armed.

 We have been watching and hearing sea-air battles for past few days; maybe it is our time now to get in the fray.

 The 77th Division is bivouaced on both sides of the 503d RCT and have 30 bofors and 20 .50 caliber guns emplaced on the beach. Our section of the gulf is ready and waiting. 

1900 hr

Despite all excitement, a movie will be held in front of Bn C.P. The weather has cleared up a bit, and bright moonlight is darting thru low-scudding clouds.

The moon will go down about 0300 hr tomorrow.

2000 hr Despite numerous alerts, the movie was completed.
2300 hr Ten minutes ago a lone barge beached in front of the Bn C.O. (30 yards from the surf) and shadowy figures emerged from its lowered ramp. All guards were on alert, but it was “F”Company detail running, after being stranded near Tacloban for 2 days. A trigger-happy guard could have caused a lot of excitement, and our men must be complimented for their conduct.
 

 

 

28 November 1944

 

 

0600 hr

Air alerts were experienced during the night, but we had no signs of parachute or sea attack. By now, Admiral “Bull”Halsey’s 3rtd Fleet must be patrolling the approaches to Leyte Gulf, on which we are situated. Jap attack ships in the October Naval engagement attempted to reach Leyte Gulf by the Surigao Straits on the south tip of Leyte, and San Bernardino Straits off the north tip of Leyte, coming from Sulu Sea, and that must be considered now as a route of attack.

1000 hr

2nd Bn staff, Co. Commanders, Engr. plat leader who will be attached to us, Capt. Gibson, of our artillery support, and 2 Naval fire direction officers to be attached to 2nd Bn attended a briefing by Co. BRITTEN of the mission.

The areas of responsibility of the 503d RCT were designated, and Bn areas and missions allocated. The Bn CO’s are to devise a plan for the execution of their mission and present it to the Regt’l CO tomorrow for approval.

Each Bn will have 1 destroyer off shore to call for fire missions. The destroyer support will be available till we get our artillery set up.

The administrative order and field order are still not available. They will be added to Journal soon as possible, along with operational overlays and target maps.

1700 hr

A Sherman tank pulled up on the beach in front of Bn C.P. and its crew commenced to dig it in. Tanks are spotted every 400 yards along our RCT beach. Our additional watches and precautions still exist. Not a bit of information has been relayed to Bn except alert of last night. Newspapers in the States are most filled with the general situation on Leyte, but we are completely in the dark- “too close to know what is going on.”

We are due to board ship in 3 days for our beach-head mission, but before that time arrives we may be defending our present position. Just an inkling of the “big picture” would be a great help.

 

 

 

 

 

FIELD ORDERS WERE ISSUED FOR THE LANDING ON MINDORO
 

 

 

 

29 November 1944

 

 

0200 hr

A phone call from Regt’l reports 2 Jap patrols, strength unspecified, heading along the beach in our direction, about 2 miles away. Whether they landed by plane or boat is unknown. They must bypass or infiltrate thru part of the 77th Div to get to 503d RCT.
0330 hr 7 Japs are reported to have broken thru 36th Hospital guards, 3/4 of a mile down the beach, and part of the 77th Div and moving in this direction.
0800 hr No further information has been received regarding the Jap patrols, and outside of air raids, no other activity was experienced during night.
1100 hr

Another alert has been issued to be on the look-out for attack by airborne troops.

Suicide Jap parties, to destroy C.P.’s and important installations are not uncommon.

Getting ready for the mission. We had two movies tonight, “The Omaha Trail” and “The Keeper of the Flame”. Our movies are shone out on the beach, and when air raid warnings sound they are discontinued until all clear sounds.

 The seas have been heavy with big rollers coming in. We enjoyed riding them, or attempting to until the natives warned us that schools of barracuda came near the shore during these times.

 Our mission has been delayed. Resistance has been so heavy on Leyte that a flanking movement is necessary. The amphibious fleet that is to transport our task force had to be used to take a flanking force to the western side and make a beach landing on the shores of Ormoc Bay. So now we will wait until the fleet returns.

 Air raids are still frequent, a several times a day occurrence. We have guards around our regimental area. A plane load of Japanese paratroopers crash landed on the beach just south of us and escaped into the interior. The Japs have jumped some paratroopers back in the interior. I suppose this was a stray plane from that bunch. A division, the 77th, was just south of us on the beach. The plane just barely landed in their area near where our area began. The plane was identical to a C-47. I was camouflaged painted and had red balls painted on each wing. The Infantryman on guard thinking it was one of ours, it was night, rushed up to the plane to be of assistance. The next thing he knew a Jap officer came out swinging a saber. All escaped unharmed. The Japs headed inland.

 Just before we left for Leyte a ship was hit and burned all night. There are many, many ships in the bay and out in the gulf. Our planes are leery of flying over them, because when a ship’s ack-ack opens up regardless of who it is all the other ships join in. They seem to shoot first and ask questions later.

 Medium, Sherman, tanks are dug in at regular intervals along the beach. The dug pits deep enough to hide the chassis of the tank, cover the hole up to the tank and just left the turret above ground level.

 

 

 

30 November 1944

 

 

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0800 hr

All tentage and equipment will be turned in to RSO today. Cots and barracks bags will be turned in tomorrow morning after 0400 hr breakfast. The LCI’s and other troop ships completing our convoy are due on the beach at 0700 hr tomorrow and each unit will be at its appointed location, to board the craft. LCI’s will beach at intervals of 100 yards and the 1st Bn will take LCVP’s out to their APD’s.

1200 hr

The target area for our task force is Mindora, an island 175 south of Manila. The trip will take 3 nights and 2 days, thru very hazardous, Jap-controlled waters. The aggregate strength of the Task Force will be 15,000 including airfield engineers and special troops. U-day is the 5th Dec, H-hour unknown. Heavy anti-aircraft protection will be inclined in the Task Force, for we will be a little over one hour flight from Manila’s numerous airstrips. Sea and strong air attacks are expected during the voyage to target area. Only 1000 Japs are on Mindoro, but 30,000 mobile troops with sufficient landing craft are 24 hrs away. The Japs can’t afford to permit airstrips so close to the center of their Philippine power, and air, land and sea attack on our position will be many and furious. Our Task Force expects to have an airstrip operational by U+5, to give our position air cover, and assist the large scale attack on Luzon within 2 weeks of our landing.

1800 hr

All is in readiness for a quick closing of our camp tomorrow morning. The uniform for the invasion is jump boots, coveralls, helmets, webbing, ammo, jungle pack with 2 days ration, toilet articles, poncho, extra clothes; jungle hammocks will not be carried.

   
 

 

 

1 December 1944

 

 

0400 hr

Breakfast. It will be our last hot meal for quite a while. C rations will be eaten on the boat trip, and 2 days K is being carried for U-day and U+1.

0600 hr

The camp site is completed policed, all cots and barracks bags turned in to RSO, and the 2nd Bn is ready to move south along the beach 5000 yards, to where its LCI’s are due.

0800 hr

Our LCI’s still have not appeared. The1st Bn’s APD’s are a mile off shore and LCVP’s are ferrying that unit out to them. The sky is heavily overcast and a light rain is falling.

Still no LCI’s. A meal of C rations has been doled out for the noon meal. All personnel and equipment are now completely soaked with a cold, driving rain.

1300 hr

At a Bn CO’s meeting, Col JONES announces our mission has been postponed. No further details along that line are available.

Bn’s will move back to their Bn areas and set up a complete camp- that we completely obliterated this A.M. and yesterday. A hot meal will be served in the kitchen at 1700 hr.

1600 hr

The camp went up like a boom city; in 2 hours 110 tents have been erected, and the smoko billys are on the fire. We sure have had enough experience in the past 2 years, setting up and striking camps.

1700 hr

A cold rain is still falling. A warm meal helped to take the chill out of the troops. All barracks bags will be drawn from RSO, but crated organizational equipment will remain there.

 

 

 

2 December 1944

 

 

0800 hr

Still no news on the mission - why it was postponed or for how long. The 1st Bn is out at sea and is due back tonight. It took a split second postponement to have part of our RCT out at sea, and remainder left on beach.

1000 hr

A drill schedule will be inaugurated tomorrow consisting of callisthenics, specialized training for mission in the morning, and athletics in the afternoon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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