harassing raids were experienced during night, but nothing else of
Captain Byers and 111 officers and enlisted men of the 161st Parachute
Engineer Company will be attached to 2nd as of Wednesday, 27 December. They
will lay barbed wire at “F”Company position.
Companies have been notified an inspection will be made tomorrow of company
and platoon ammo dumps, and fire brakes, and availability of ammunition to
Password till 27 0800 I - Little Lady.
additional ammunition designated to be placed at gun positions are now
there, fire lanes are completed, road blocks constructed where considered
feasible, and the 2nd Bn is completely prepared for any eventuality.
Navy B-24 scout plane from a China Base just landed at our strip. it reports
a Jap Naval Task Force of one battleship, two cruisers and about nine
destroyers 120 miles northwest, steaming for Mindoro at twenty eight knots.
The scout plane will refuel, take on bombs, and shadow the convoy. The pilot
said he will drop his load on the battle ship. Our C.P. is right beside the
bomb loading dispersal area, and we will get the information first-hand.
Colonel Jones alerted the RCT as ordered by C.G. Task Force, because of
imminence of Jap Task Force. All battle positions will be manned. The Nip
Force is about 5 hours out of Mindoro.
additional .50 caliber machine guns will be sent out to “D”Company to
reinforce its company strong point across the Bugsanga, with 6,000 rounds
just about dark now, but a 3/4 moon is beginning to light up the area like
daylight. Every B-25, P-40 on Mindoro’s strips will load bombs and attack
the Nip warships. The strips do not have lights, but jeep lights will mark
its approaches, and coupled with the bright moonlight should be enough to
enable plane to take off and land. The Japs must figure on hitting our
shores during darkness. We have not put up fighters to combat the night
harassing raids of the past ten days, and Nip G-2 may figure our planes not
capable of taking the air after sunset. They did not consider a 3/4 moon,
that will be up until 0500 hours tomorrow.
Jap Task Force has the newest type battleship with it, with fire power equal
to the largest ship the U.S. has afloat. The absence of transports with the
Jap force indicates an attempt to shell our shipping and shore installation,
and withdraw before dawn. A rendezvous with troops carrying ships is also a
capability of the enemy.
Twelve B-25’s took off with full bomb loads, from number 2 strip (this is
the San Jose Strip which was adjacent to our defenses), and fighters are
rising from the other strip, with navigation lights on. Strangely enough the
Jap nightly harassing raids, usually in full swing by this time, have not
materialized. We have about 180 planes on our 2 strips, and they are being
bombed up and sent out every couple minutes. The air above is jammed with
our planes heading out to meet the enemy, with red and green navigation
B-25’s have dropped their bombs from 100 feet, skipping them in, a specialty
for that type of craft, strafing on the way in. They are on way back to bomb
up. The B-24 dropped its stick from 8,500 feet. Results undetermined.
B-25’s have landed, and are going out again. The pilots say the Japs have a
terrific ack-ack barrage, and some fighter cover.
fighters are engaging the enemy 25 miles north of San Jose, strafing and
dropping 500 pounders.
The two strips
are just a jumble of planes landing, bombing up and taking the air again.
The gas and bomb supply is not too adequate on the island, and only the
bombers are refueling.
fighters report the battleship has turned back, 25 miles north of San Jose,
but the cruisers and destroyers are bearing down.
for the Navy Scout Plane, the Army Air Force is alone in attacking the
convoy. The position of any U.S. surface craft is unknown, with the
exception of approximately 20 P.T. Boats based on our bench, and it is quite
certain none of our larger surface crafts are close enough to intervene.
planes are landing and taking off in a steady stream. They will shuttle bomb
and sttraf until attack force is turned, our fields are shelled to
uselessness, or bombs give out.
lone bomber followed a B-25 in, and dropped his stick just off the end of
the strip, not damaging the runway or planes.
Jap Task Force is still coming on. The ack-ack of the intense air-naval
battle is now visible, and the strafing of our fighters is criss-crossing
Force warned that enemy force is now within striking distance, all troops
will be in fox holes to repel invasion. Two Jap surface craft are on fire,
but holding place in Task Force. Our planes are continuing to straf and
bomb. A few Japs raids have been made on our strips but runways and planes
undamaged. All our planes will strafe convoy as long as possible, and when
the strip comes under Jap fire, all our planes will fly to Leyte.
Jap Task Force has been in shelling range for quite a while, and is now
passing off blue beach, and has not shelled our area yet. Our aircraft is
giving the warships a heavy strafing and bombing, as the battle progresses
off our shore. Amber flares are being dropped by enemy planes or shell all
over the area of WVTF.
B-25’s reported a lot of small arms fire as they came in low, and may
indicate troops aboard the enemy destroyers.
Jap Task Force has now withdrawn to 10 miles off San Jose, and the battle is
continuing out there. All our defenses are on lookout for a beach landing or
parachute attack. One or two hundred paratroopers could do unlimited damage
to our revetment areas, with all the confusion attendant to the hurried
refueling and rebombing, on a new airfield without complete facilities
installed as yet. Every truck available has been commandeered to haul bombs
and gas drums from the dump to revetment area. A thin coat of dust is on the
strip, and the props of our bombers and fighters swirl it into a haze,
destroyers are reported heading full speed at white beach, and all is held
in readiness. In the event of an enemy landing, “F”Company will revert to
control of 1st Bn, and coordinate defense with that unit previously prepared
road blocks along the routes of approach will be swung into place by our
engineers as the enemy lands.
Jap ships are now burning offshore, extent undetermined. Radar detects
another group of ships about 50 miles north: direction indefinite. it could
be transports to follow on the warships now offshore
are large flashes along white beach, and the Japs are believed to be
shelling shore installations.
flares from the enemy ship are lighting our Task Force area like daylight.
Shelling is moving north now, and inland whistling over our heads. It sounds
like 5 inch and is coming uncomfortably close. A grass fire has been started
by a flare about 200 yards north of our Bn C.P. The airstrips have not been
hit yet, and B-25’s and fighters are still landing bombing up and taking
off. The Air Force is doing a herculean job. Some B-24’s and B-26’s from
Leyte are due anytime to hit the convoy.”
Air raids continuing. We see big dog fights. Hill
Strip, several miles south of San Jose has most of the fighters. All the
P-47’s are based there and some P-38’s. This strip was in operation three
days after we landed. San Jose Strip was in operation five days after we
landed. Occasionally low flying fighter planes chasing after Jap planes will
strafe us unintentionally as they fired at the Jap planes. One day while I
was conducting our battalion commander, Colonel Britten, and our company
commander, Lt. bailey, on a tour of our defensive positions, and we were out
in the open fields well away from any cover when a Jap plane flew low over
our heads. Right behind him and a little above were several P-38’s firing at
him with all guns blazing. We naturally hit the ground instantly, but the
bullets threw dirt and grass on us. Luckily no one was hit, but all were
We spent the day
working on our fortifications. We put out anti-personnel mines, the deadly
Bouncing Betties, in front of the barbed wire along the fire lanes. The
multiple trip wires radiated out from the mines. When one of these fine
copper or brass wires was tripped the mines activated firing a cannister up
in the air about four feet where it exploded throwing about four hundred
steel ball bearing out in ever direction. They would literally shred anyone
as it was growing late a Navy Privateer, PB4Y (our B-24), came in over us
and landed. We had finished our days work quitting early because of the
season, and some of our men had walked over to the strip and checked out the
Navy plane. Soon they came back with the news the crew had given out. The
Privateer had come from China. About eighty-five miles out (west) in the
South China Sea they had spotted a convoy consisting of several cruisers,
destroyers, and four troop transports. The Army Air Force officers could not
believe this, because they were patrolling this area daily. The Navy pilot
was gassing up to return to China. He asked for a load of bombs to use on
the Japs when he passed over their fleet. The Air Force had a squadron of
RB-25’s (reconnaissance bombers) based on San Jose Strip. The powers decided
that it would be prudent to go with the Privateer and check out his story.
They returned soon and verified that the Japs were out there and heading
straight for Mindoro. The squadron commander was not there when the planes
left, but he was back now anxiously awaiting their return. So the fleet was
out there! Well how many hit? Did the sink anything? The amazing reply was
that they were unable to make a run, because the flak was too intense. After
he came out of orbit and was able to speak coherently he got into his plane
and led the eleven other planes back to attack the fleet. Every plane we had
on Mindoro joined in attacking the fleet. Where was the 7th Fleet? They were
supposed to be out there watching for a Jap invasion fleet. There had been
reports of such a fleet ever since we landed on Mindoro. We had the feeling
that someone got caught off guard.
The Army planes
were flying continuous round trips. Come in, rearm, and go right back. They
only took time to gas-up when it was necessary. The noise at San Jose Strip
and I’m sure Hill Strip, too, was loud and continuous. The trips became
shorter and the air more congested as the Jap fleet moved closer. We were
told later that the transports had disappeared. Evidently after our heavy
attacks started they high tailed it back towards China. The warships were
boring in at high speed. The PT boats (MTB’s) had moved out in the attack,
too. Some were attacked by out planes. Shortly before 2300 hr an awesome
silence dropped over us. The planes were gone, evacuating back to Leyte.
From our 1st platoon headquarters which was directly in line with the runway
and only two or three hundred yards away we could see no movement, no
lights, no noise. Was everyone gone? This could only mean one thing. The
Japs were coming within shelling range. We waited in suspense but not for
long. Feeling lonely and abandoned we did not know that the transports had
turned back, so to us invasion was imminent. No 7th Fleet, and now no
planes, we were now alone to face the Japs. Suddenly the shells started
coming over. They sounded like freight trains whoosing overhead. The Japs
had one problem. The range seemed to be correct, but their azimuth was off.
The impact area was too far left across the Bugsanga River. At our position
as well as E and D Companies on the river the shells seemed to pass
overhead. 2nd Battalion Headquarters and Headquarters Company were east of
the air strip in the outskirts of San Jose, so they received the same
“thrill”we received from the shells passing overhead. They shelled us
continuously for twenty-three minutes. The only damage we found was a
completely destroyed deuce and a half truck which someone had swiped and
stashed away in the brush across the river in front of D and E Companies.
They said about the most undamaged piece was a headlight.
The 1st platoon
was bunkered in with one exception. Platoon headquarters was on the bank of
a stream under a large tree. The mortar squads were here with us, and we had
dug slit trenches. Within hours after the shelling ceased there were some
pretty fair dugouts in the banks of the stream. As soon as the shelling
ceased T/Sgt Todd and I headed for the road block. There were Army
Transportation Corps people, a Navy Chore Control party, M.P.’s, and other
service personnel between us and the beach that would have to come through
before we closed the road. We needed to be there to oversea the closing. We
received word that the Japs were landing and our 90mm AA guns were preparing
to cover the beaches with fire. They would fire the shells with proximity
fuses cut to explode in the air above the ground. Now we had to wait until
all our troops were safely through our defensive line and then close the
road by dragging the barbed wire concertinas into place. We had a large
supply of ammunition and were ready. It looked like a lot of heavy labor was
going to pay off.
In a short time
we learned that the report of the Japanese landing was false. When we
returned to our platoon headquarters somewhere around 0300 to 0400 hours we
found our dugout about finished. Our platoon runner, Edward Thompson, was
proclaimed the fastest digger. Tropical Peterson declared that he was
through sinning. Everyone was wide awake and in a good humor. We laughed at
many things that had happened. Thompson told us when the shells were
swooshing over that he’d give his next year’s pay to Admiral Nimitz if he’d
come drive the Jap fleet away. No more alcohol sales either.
happening was that the Air Force’s shower area was riddled. Not far from our
position they had built a large shower area, and had fenced it with six foot
high burlap. This outer fence enclosed several shower areas which also had
burlap walls around them. While our planes were circling out to the enemy
fleet and back there was almost a continuous landing pattern of planes. As
two planes came in in single file suddenly they switched on their landing
lights, dropped personnel bombs, and strafed the runway. They then hastily
flew off. The bombs wrecked the shower area. We laughed, because we bathed
in the river and figured they could, too. Of course in a day or two the
engineers had restored their shower area.
The Air Force
had moved some P-61 Black Widow night fighters to San Jose strip. There were
four P-40’s at Hill Strip. That night the Black Widows shot down all four