1 APRIL - 7 APRIL 1945


 APRIL 1945








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1 April 1945


F Company is assigned three officers and 36 enlisted men.

1st Lt William C. Mathers, 1st platoon;

1st Lt Robert L. Clark, 2nd platoon;

2nd Lt. LeRoy T. Elliott, 4th (mortar) platoon.


The replacements were fresh from the United States.

Battlefield commissions, which necessitated a transfer of the officer involved to another battalion, took some familiar faces from us, and likewise introduced new personalities to our circle. Staff Sergeant John R. Phillips had been a platoon sergeant when he went home on leave from Noemfoor and had served much of the time on Corregidor as platoon sergeant of the 3rd platoon. At that time the position called for a staff sergeant, but he was commissioned before he could be promoted.  

 New 1st Lt. William E. LaVanchure was transferred to 2d Battalion headquarters.  1st Lt. Milton Walker, a former platoon sergeant in "C" company was assigned to “F” Company. The same was true for 1st Lt. Chalmers Fennell who was a former platoon sergeant in “I” Company.

Tech Sergeant Phillip Todd was rotated home.  (I would later receive a letter from him after we went to Negros, telling me of the joys of civilian life. What a terrible way to treat a Brother! )

I  became "F" Company's Executive Officer.

Another mission is in the air again. The Regiment is alerted to jump on an unknown island. Company is issued parachutes but that is cancelled in good fashion. But the mission is still on, but is to take place with the airborne part out.




2 April 1945


F.O.  # 10 issued by 2d Bn S-3




Field Order Number 10 is dated 4 April, and is reproduced as at that date.


3 April 1945



" Many of us regretted the change. We had little faith in Eichelberger and great faith in Kreuger, but then they don't ask the working man."



After the Corregidor mission the 503d was switched to the  Eighth Army, under the command of  General Robert Lawrence Eichelberger. Operationally, this removed them from the care of General Walter Krueger, considered  by both rank and file to be a "soldier's soldier."   Eichelberger, though a perfectly adequate commander when held on a tight rein by MacArthur, was not a first-rank soldier. He was disliked as much as Krueger was liked, but  MacArthur's attention was elsewhere.


Placed within the command of the 40th Infantry Division, the 503d RCT  came under the more immediate control of Major General Rapp Brush.  Whether Brush was favoring the 185th Infantry RCT by resting them early, or whether he  had begun to panic when faced with different tactics in Negros that had been expected,  he nonetheless resolved to use the nearest weapon available to him, and that was the 503d PRCT, at that time still in reserve on Mindoro and coping with an influx of replacements for the losses which had occurred on Corregidor.  


When Brush's troops contacted the enemy as they moved inland, the general became alarmed and called for help.  He assigned the 503d's zone of operation and mission 8 April. The 503d was to destroy all hostile forces within its sector and protect the north flank of the 185th Infantry RCT. It just so happened that the defensive system which the Japs had been constructing for months was entirely within the 503d's sector.  As to protecting the north flank of the 185th, they were so dug in and forted in they  needed neither protection nor assistance. They stayed in their fort until they were moved back to Panay.


The 503d  numbered 2,000 when they departed Mindoro.  This included the badly depleted 1st Bn., which had been decimated by the great explosion at Monkey Point.  They had received replacements, but just enough to stay near the entrance number.


It is said that to the man with a hammer, the entire world looks like the head of a nail, and in retrospect, that appears to be the way the 40th Division would use the premier Parachute unit in the Pacific, as inappropriate a choice of tool to fight a jungle war as it would have been to issue parachutes instead of flashlights to a regiment of  Broadway usherettes. It was a case of using the wrong weapon, for the wrong reasons, simply because they were available to throw into the breach.


There was a saving grace.  To the 503d, they attached a 4.2 chemical mortar Company.  This unit saved the 503d's lives.



The following units were attached to the 503d at one time or another during this next phase of operations:

2d platoon, C Company, 716th Tank Battalion;

One platoon of the 160th Cannon Company under the command of 2d Lt Paul Gentle;

80th Chemical Mortar (under command of 1st Lt Robert W. Spenser);

"B" Battery, 470th AAA Battalion;

Units of 739 AAA Battalion;

165th Station Hospital.






4 April 1945


Aerial reconnaissance by Capt. Taylor & Capt. McRoberts of operation area.





(The following is an extract facsimile only)


503d Prcht. Inf. RCT
F.O. #10

4 April 1945: 


1. ...

2. a. On "J" Day the 503d RCT (less one battalion reinforced) will drop in the vicinity of the ALICANTE AIRFIELD, NEGROS ISLAND (22-17), advance rapidly to the west and seize and secure SARAVIA (TOWN) (17-16), then advance rapidly to the south to effect a junction with the 185th Infantry in the vicinity of IMBANG RIVER BRIDGE (17.2-10.2). 

b.    "J" Day: 6 April 1945 

3. See Opn. Map, Entrucking Plan, Plane loading Plan, plane Parking Plan, Plane Flight Plan.

a. The 3d Bn with (1) platoon Btry "D", and (1) Demolition Section attached will

(1)  Drop on "J' FIELD on "J" Dat at 0900I and secure drop area.

(2)  Effect immediate reconnaissance in areas shown on Opn. Map.

(3)  Be prepared, upon arrival of the 2d Lift at "J" Field to proceed south and seize and secure MALAGO AIRFIELD. See Opn. Map.

b. The 2d Bn, with one platoon, Btry. "D", 462d FA and (1) Demolition Section attached will drop on "J' Field j Day at 1200I and immediately proceed west seize ant' secure SARAVIA (TOWN). See Opn. Map.

c. The 462d FA Bn 9less "C" and Btry. "D") will:

(1) Drop on "J" field on "J" Day in conjunction with the 2d and 3d Bns., and assemble in the area shown on Opn. Map.

(2) Be prepared to support the assault forces by fire as ordered by Bn Commanders.

d. Co. "C", 161st Engineers (less one (1) platoon, will drop on "J" FIELD on "J" Day at OgOOI and be prepared to construct a liasion plane landing strip in the vicinity of ALICANTE AIRFIELD (22-17)." [liaison]

 e. Hq. Co. will drop on "J" field on "J" Day in conjunction with the landing of the 2d and 3d Bns., and will perform the normal duties of administration and communication.

f. Service Co. will drop on "j" field on "J" Day in conjunction with the landing of the 2d and 3d Bns., and perform the normal duties of supply, administration, and evacuation as directed by RCT S-4.

g. The 1st Bn., with Btry. "C" and one platoon of Btry. "D", 462d FA Bn, one (1) platoon Co. "C", 161st Engineers and one Demolition Section, attached as EIGHT ARMY RESERVE, will be prepared to move from Mindoro and drop an 24 hours notice in an area designated by Headquarters, EIGHT U.S. ARMY, to assist in the destruction of the enemy."

  John W. Britten,
Lt. Col.





5 April 1945


1000 hr - Final ????  operation issued to company commanders. Scheduled to entruck for Elmore Airfield at 1230I.



Plans changed, will not jump - will fly to Panay & proceed by boat to Negros.


Field Order #10 was issued dated  5 April 1945 under signature  of Col. Britten as executive officer, continuing in the same role as he had been for the Corregidor operation.  It will be cancelled later the same day, as information is received that the enemy is not defending the coastal regions.

Colonel Joe Lawrie was still in the U.S. on temporary duty attending Command and General Staff School, Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas.



6 April 1945


0900 - Camp in order, policed, men prepared to move out on notice


Capt Taylor called to meeting at1st Bn C.P.,  received plans of departure


Entrucked for strip, 16 trucks hauling 8 plane loads each trip.  Balance of Bn will follow in morning as only 4 Planes can land at Ito Ito strip.


Awaiting planes at Elmore Strip, received orders to return to camp. 2d Bn planes  still circling field as only two planes can land.


Expect to leave early Saturday a.m. this may develop into a jump mission after all.


Received orders to entruck again for strip at 0615 hrs, 7 Aug (sic) 45

First plane to leave at 0730 hrs.




Waiting on word from Air Corps as to strip: Can C-46's land at Iloilo? -


Entrucked; first lift left for planes. 3 Bn Reinforced W/RHQ Co.


First flight of 6 planes to leave every half hour; return and pick up 2d flight.


First flight of planes landed on strip at Iloilo; entrucked to wharves and loaded on LCI's, other flights arrived on similar schedule. Came under control of 40th Division.


5 LCI's loaded with first lift pulled out into harbour to anchor over night and await high tide. LCI's overcrowded; 250 on 190 man ship..


No unusual events - at least no confirmation of rumored Field Artillery plane cracking up on take-off.


On 6 April the 3d Battalion left by plane to land on Panay, the island north of Negros. They crossed the Guimaras Straits by LCI's. 


We would enplane the next morning


7 April 1945



0630 hr - 2 Bn, with 63 Arty & 12 RHQ attached entrucked for strip


C-46's took off for a very smooth riding trip, much better riding than C-47's, arriving at Iloilo strip, Panay.


Trucks awaiting hauled Bn thru Ilo Ilo city to docks. Ilo Ilo City, a city of 90,000 still in good condition except for wharehouses at docks that were fired by Japs. Traveled 150 air miles from San dose, Mindoro to Ilo Ilo City, Panay.



Remained in immediate vicinity of docks until all were flown in.


Instructions from Col Jones to Capt Taylor to follow in wake of 3d Bn from Mindoro.

(Captain Neil Taylor was the 2d Battalion commanding officer.)



LCI's embarked for Pandan Pt. Negros, P.I. 50 miles via boat.



Landed at Pulapandan, Negros and encamped in town square for the night. Civilians had a dance in town square, our boys were pushing the local gals around the floor."

20 Mar. 45 thru 7 Apr. 45 Co rested and replacements came in---Co. began staging for next mission."

Broke camp and departed for San Jose Airstrip at 0630 Hr. Emplaned and left San Jose strip at 0815 Hr. Arrived at Ilo Ilo, Panay, P.I. at 0945 Hr. Traveled 150 air miles at 1100 Hr Loaded on L.C.I.'s at Ilo Ilo. arrived at 1745 Hr at Pulu Pondan, Negros Isl. Distance traveled by L.C.I. 50 miles. Bivouaced for nite in town square.


The movement of the RCT, less the 1st Battalion reinforced who were to remain on Mindoro as the reserve force - (The 1st Battalion was still reforming after the devastating losses of the "big explosion" on Corregidor), began on 6 April and was completed on 8 April. The units were flown on C-46's to Iloilo City, Panay, and then crossed the straits to Pulapandan, Negros by LCI's.


LCI's headed toward Green Beach at Negros Island. Four LCI's in unescorted convoy. These ships to return for more troops.


First elements laneded on Green's Beach, Pulu Pandan, Negros Island. Entrucked immediately for operational area.


Staff left for operational area with Col Jones. Col Jones made recco flight, observed area, and checked on G-2 situation.


CP established at (30.3-6.2), about 45 miles from Green Beach. 3d Bn established perimeter. FA and Engrs set up in vicinity of CP.


Staff and CO meeting to brief on G-2 situation, mission, administrative details.


Radioed position to CG 40th Division (30.3-6.15). •-


To CO 503d RCT: Location? CG 40th.


To CO 503d RCT: Last element of 503d RCT became A/B at 1200 pd 3500 rds 75 How ammo forwarded next planes. (CG 24th)


To CG 40th Div: When will msgr arrive here? (Levine)


To CG 40th Div: Situation 1800I: CP group and 3d Bn group bivouaced (30.3-6.15).Patrols SE vicinity towns Navilas, Manssiguio, Manzanares, and (36.0-8.90. Recce patrols south to contact 185th   NE to towns of Sinaypanan and San Isidro. (Clark)"


The first patrol made to these "towns" was F company on 9 April.
This will be covered in due time.



To CO 503 RCT: Msgr to arrive 0945 and 1555 daily.


(CG 40th) 


All dug in and waiting.


Early this morning the battalion moved to San Jose (Elmore) Strip, loaded on C-46's, and left at 0755. After an hour and twenty minutes flying we arrived at a tiny air strip near Iloilo City at 0915. The planes were delayed in landing, because the strip was so small that only three planes could occupy it at one time. The strip was surrounded by coconut trees. Our pilot sweated it out, clearing the coconut trees and then dropping down quickly on the landing field and stopping before he hit the coconut trees at the far end. We moved by trucks to the to the docks on the broad river which was an excellent harbor. There was a large warehouse area along the docks. Some of these warehouses had been destroyed or damaged by bombing or shelling, or the Japs had burned them.

A large crowd of Filipinos had gathered there to watch us. After several hours we load on LCI's and crossed the straits to Negros Island. The battalion set sail, and we landed on the open beach at Pulapandan about 1735. "F" Company landed near a high masonry wall around a -wealthy estate. We moved around the walls to the city plaza. This was a small town with a large square. The plaza was a pretty grass covered flatland with a band stand located in the middle of the plaza. Coca Cola and Shell Oil signs on businesses around the square brought back memories of home. The town held a dance that night. We bivouacked on the plaza that night.



Further Research: - Today's Regiment's Periodic Report
(Click on graphic to open new window)







There is confusion whether or not a mission had been planned for 7 April.  No official records appear to have been found concerning a mission to Fabrica, yet many troopers set out that morning on a combat jump.



The official records reveal that the jump, which had been planned to take place at Alicante Airfield was cancelled. This should settle the matter, but it does not, at least in the minds of some of the men who were prepared to jump.

John Reynolds, who had joined "D" Company as a replacement at Mindoro, gives the following account


Of course I will never forget the situation because I got on the plane at Mindoro fully expecting to make my first combat jump and trying to convince myself it was to be just like those training jumps I had made at Ft. Benning. When I say "I got on the plane " that is only part of the story. I got on the plane with the assistance of two guys standing on each side of the steps. I was not a very big person and at the time only weighed 135 pounds, if that much, and I know damn well I had more than that on my back and attached to the other parts of my body. My legs would not permit me to make the first step up the ladder, even though I could walk. So, with a bit of help I got up on the ladder and was then able to proceed on into the plane. Those memories stick with you a long time. I am so glad to hear that someone in another company can relate that they also left Mindoro with the idea that we would be jumping on Negros. I have talked with to several other "D" Company people and they each confirm my memories. Except John Lindgren, and isn't that amazing?

A version of the "D" Company history which I copied (or really I should say the copy I made of the "D Co" History of the Negros Mission when we were still back on Negros after the war) begins 8 Apr 45 with an account of the company moving from Pulapandan. There is another version which on 7 Apr 45  states "Co had enplaned at Mindoro with full combat pack and chutes in expected jump on Negros. Planes diverted to Iloilo on Panay, went to Pulapandan by boat and bivouaced in town square".

If that entry was in the original history which I copied I cannot believe that I missed it. It is extremely difficult to overlook the very first entry in a document- down in the middle of the text- perhaps, but not the very first entry. The grammar which states that "Co had enplaned" might possibly suggest that this entry was made at a time after I had made the copy. John Lindgren disputes the entry for 2 reasons - he believes that it was made later by someone who did not know what happened and just wanted to embellish the mission with a possible jump situation; he also doubts that there was anyone learned enough to spell "bivouaced".

Bill, you and I have to talk to lindgrean about this because we both know that there were people who got on the plane at Mindoro expecting to jump on Negros."


John Reynold's memory cannot be dismissed lightly. This man was new to the unit. He had no former jumps or preparations for jumps retained in his mind which could become intermingled or mixed up with other like circumstances. This was his one and only circumstance. John's description of the load he carried and the assistance he required to climb the steps into the plane is absolutely factual. I well remember that we had to have assistance climbing the steps to board the plane for_Corregidor and then again for Negros. The bulky parachutes with our weapon strapped underneath the belly band was cumbersome enough, but we had the parachute kit bag, loops of the carrying handles through the chest strap, and then under the belly band so that the bag could not fly up and hit you in the face on opening impact. Our musette bag and extra grenades and ammunition were stowed in the kit bag. It was heavy and bunged you on the knees when you walked. John Reynolds continues that in readying himself to make his first combat jump he is trying to convince himself that that it was going to be like "those training jumps I had made at Benning." This rings sure and true, and I fully expect that thousands of other paratrooopers of WWII followed this line of thought while waiting to make their first combat jump. Just as some memories of the Corregidor jump are so deeply engraved in my mind that I remember them as though it was yesterday, I know where John is coming from.

John Lindgren, who had initially adopted the view that the mission had been cancelled prior to enplaning,  and who questioned John Reynold's recollection, eventually settled the matter thus:


Bill, I now have a second confirmation of the parachutes being worn from Mindoro. Your account, itself a third confirmation,  is very clear and I got a version from Gordon Bates who would be the 4th platoon sergeant on Negros after Joe Gouvin went home. We had a mortarman, John Seymour, who was a kind of a hard luck guy as I remember. He was a short, cheerful heavily built man with black hair that, young as he was then, had receded extensively at his forehead. He was in Bates' squad and Gordon was helping him put on his chute at Mindoro before getting on the plane for Negros. Seymour was pulling up on the leg straps to buckle them when to his astonishment the leg strap tore away from the webbing and he was left holding it in his hand. Seymour joined after we came back from Corregidor so the incident had to occur when we emplaned at Mindoro.

I give up, capitulate and admit grave error for doubting that intrepid columnist John Reynolds."


 As to my own  memories, I feel I have a good memory even though there are events which I have completely forgotten. I know memory plays tricks. I know we get events, times, places, etc. intermingled.  I, also, know some memories are vivid than others. I remember, so well, loading on the trucks at our camp on Mindoro for Corregidor. Major Caskey came by and shook my hand, wishing me good luck. I recall the drive to Hill Strip, and detrucking as the planes (some pock-marked with bullet holes) coming in. I don't remember which strip or the details of the leading the morning of 7 April. I do remember we were to jump on the pilot's signal, the green light. I attended the one week jump master school at Fort Benning during the early summer of 1943. They took a dim view of the pilots' ability to jumpmaster. I believe in this case the pilots were to jumpmaster because we had not been briefed on the "GO" point. I do have a vivid memory which is conclusive to me that we did board the plane loaded to jump. I will get to that memory shortly. First, I want to say we had traveled with our parachutes before and did not jump. That was 4 June 1944 when we traveled from Dobodura to Hollandia. The difference was we carried our chutes and wore our musette bags. There was no intention of jumping.  Chutes were carried so that we could use them in an air assault staged from Hollandia.

Now back to the vivid memory, spoken of above. After we had traveled sometime the crew chief came back and told me the pilot wanted to see me. I went to the cockpit, where he told me "The jump is off! The mill at Fabrica is on fire." (I understood we were to jump in the open ground west of Fabrica and move to seize the lumber mill network along with its considerable rail equipment). "Orders are to put your parachutes in the kit bags and leave them on the plane. When you get through, come back up here and I'll show you a landing."  I went back and had the men take off their chutes, get their musette bags and gear out of the kit bags, and put the chutes in the bags. Then I went back to the cockpit and stood between the pilot and co-pilot in the crew chief's stand.

I knew the pilot was sweating the landing, since he had been there the day before delivering the 3d battalion. We flew over what seemed like millions of coconut trees, and then one of the pilots said "There it is!" I could now see a small opening up ahead. We dropped down, almost brushing the tops of the coconut palms, and then landed on a coral, or caliche, strip. The pilots frantically braked the big plane to get stopped before running into the coconut trees on the far side of the strip.

I had not thought too much of the dangers until I saw that the pilots were drenched with perspiration after we stopped. As I remember, only three planes could get down at once. We unloaded, and the plane cleared out to make room for more planes. We loaded on waiting trucks and proceeded to Iloilo City. This was the largest city we had seen since Brisbane. The trucks went on to the docks on the river,  where we unloaded. The area was lined with warehouses. Some had been damaged by fires set by the Japanese. We waited several hours for the force to get in from Mindoro. A crowd of natives were gathered around us. We bought bananas, pineapples, and other tropical fruits from them. It was a very pleasant interlude. One that stays in your memory. Mindoro had been a place of sadness after the return from Corregidor. Now the battalion was gathered together for the first time (and last time ever, though we did not know it then) since before Corregidor. We visited. Some friends who had been wounded on Corregidor were now back. So my memories of Iloilo City are pleasant.

My theory about the discrepancies between the official record and the recollection of the participants, is that the 3d Battalion was in movement to Iloilo City on 6 April, with no preparations for a jump. Sometime during that day, concern over what the  Japanese might do to Fabrica developed. The 2d Battalion was scheduled to move by air the next day following the 3d Battalion. The chutes and jump equipment was on hand from the preparation for the Alicante Airfield assault. Why not drop the 2d Battalion at Fabrica and save it? There was a good drop zone, and the land features easy to locate. Just follow Highway Number One east to Fabrica. The Lagasan River would be a good get ready point (red light). The flat, open fields west of the town was easily located. I don't know what the real truth was, but I do know a lot of people left Mindoro that morning expecting to make a parachute jump.