Editor's Note: Charles H.
Bogart's article in PERIODICAL 54: "Philippine Inland Seas Defense Project,"
generated some mail to the author. Among the letters received was the following:
CHARLES H. BOGART:
Re the article, "Philippine
Inland Seas Defense Project" I would point out a trivial error: the Panama mount
shown on page 40 is not one of 360°, but only 180° in scope.
The best source for the use of
8-inch railroad guns in the Philippines is the postwar damage reports by the
board whose president was Major General Homer Case. Using information from this
source and from Charles S. Small, I can flesh out or correct some of what
appears in your article. Perhaps the 155mm GPF rifles were received at Manila in
1939 or before, but it appears the eight (vice seven) 8-in. railroad
units were received there in late 1940, from Hawaii. Thereupon, as you report,
they were stored. However they were maintained intact as railroad guns. The one
problem that had to be dealt with at some point was track gauge: the Oahu gauge
was 36 inches (the normal U.S. narrow, or Islands' gauge), while that on the
main Luzon rail system was and remains today .t inches. Thus
adjustment of the wheel trucks would have been necessary if the cars were to be
used as railway guns on the Luzon railroad.
In late December, 1941 the
eight guns were coupled into a single train and sent north, to provide artillery
support against the main Japanese force landing at Lingayen Gulf. Whether these
guns were to shell the beaches or were to be emplaced farther south, I do not
known of course they could have been moved back as the situation developed. In
any event, they didn't get far just north of San Fernando, hostile aircraft
interdicted the train and inflicted moderate to heavy damage to six guns.
Engineer troops destroyed these guns, which could not be repaired under the
circumstances, and hid the remaining two units on a siding near the San Fernando
freight yard, camouflaged by sugar cane leaves. Just north of San Fernando there
was a major branch line that ran southwest to two large sugar plantations on the
Pampanga River that empties into Pampango Bay, the northwest arm of Manila Bay.
One of the plantations owned a large locomotive to work the steep grades on the
older part of this line, which connected directly to a wharf on the bay. One
8-in. railroad gun was taken to this wharf and put aboard a barge for
Corregidor. The fate of the other gun was unknown to me until your article,
though one source claims to have located that gun on Bataan years ago, appearing
to corroborate your account.
Commander Small believes the
M1388 gun was separated from its M1918 carriage at the Pampanga sugar wharf, and
was manhandled aboard the barge by the Engineers. He supports this belief by
stating the railroad gauge on the fortified islands was 36 inches, thus the
42-inch trucks would be useless there and the Engineers would have known that
fact. Knowledge of such niceties and the realities of war are two different
things. The Engineers were tired, had a thousand other things to worry about,
and were frequently under fire. My suspicion is that they brought in a railroad
barge, wheeled the car onto same, and towed it to Corregidor under the cover of
darkness. Very likely once there, the gun was separated from its now useless
railroad carriage and mounted, as reported, in early March, 1942 east of Malinta
Hill. Be aware that departure from the Pampanga wharf is Small's speculation,
concluded because of its convenient proximity, Japanese air superiority, and
the mass confusion at the Manila docks. But one cannot stress strongly enough
that two months elapsed between the 8-in. gun's attempted use and the one gun
emplaced on Corregidor, and it is lost sight of then.
For whatever it is worth, years
after the war a second eyewitness, a naval officer, spotted the wreckage of some
railroad car near the Bottomside dock at Corregidor, and described it as the
remains of a railroad gun carriage (sans gun). One must note in passing that
thusfar, history loses sight of the gun from late December or early January,
until it next surfaced in early March, 1942.
Once in place the gun fired
about five proofing rounds, then sat idle for lack of a crew, and was knocked
off its mount a short time later by either bombing alone or by bombing and
shelling. The best account is the Case board's Report on, 14'ar Damage to the
Harbor Defenses of Manila and Subic Bays, October 6, 1945, p. 23ff,
Appendices E and F. Commander Small believes the gun sat idle for lack of
ammunition, but one witness declares there were 300 8-inch rounds brought over
at some point, so it may indeed have been a lack of personnel.
As for the Inland Seas Defense
Project, it is news to me and I can shed no light. My impression is it was one
of the many ill-fated and tragic schemes by D. MacArthur & Co., starting with
the decision to dump WPO3, and divert the supplies cached on Bataan needed for
the last stand there (the last stand was made, but most of the supplies were
gone). The Philippines' defense was not MacArthur's finest hour.
NELSON H. LAWRY
Dover. Massachusetts 03820
Charles H. Bogart comments as
Reference the 8-in. guns. I
have seen both seven and eight as the total number shipped to the Philippines.
Also, I did not mean to indicate that the 8-in. guns' railway carriages had not
been shipped to the Philippines. Only that according to General Mellnik in late
1941 the guns were not on their railroad carriages. This would make sense if the
Army was preparing them for shipment south. The rail cars were not to be used
for the Inland Seas Defense and thus would have only taken up shipping space
during the movement of the guns south.
Mr. Lawry is correct about the
picture. It shows a Panama mount of only 180° in arch. The amount of arch in a
Panama mount varied with the terrain. In theory they allowed a 360° arch of
CHARLES H. BOGART
Frankfort, Kentucky 40601
Editor's Note: Further
reaction to the article in PERIODICAL 54 by Charles H. Bogart comes in
letters to him from Brigadier General Richard W. Fellows, USAF, ret. General
Fellows writes in appreciation of Bogart's paper. "Philippine Inland Seas
Defense Project, " and partially in reply to the letter anent the article by
Nelson H. Lawry, printed in PERIODICAL 55.
CHARLES H. BOGART (letter
dated 17 August 1986):
I don't have the sort of
contribution that the erudite Mr. Lawry has, but I was there & knew how (2) of
the 8 "ers got to Bataan. I can't [at the moment] get at the story I want to
write, but there is a pretty good version in Walter Edmonds They Fought With
What They Had book on the early P.I. War II days of the Air Corps. I might
say I was more interested in the 50 cal. ammo we needed than the (2) 8 "ers
(2) of the (18) cars on the R.R. that I and my Depot people were instrumental in
"saving." It's kind of interesting. I'll tell it when I can get at it . . . I'll
have to straighten Lawry out on a few things .. .
(letter dated 20
How true [was Bogart's
point that no matter how well led, trained and motivated a soldier is, he is
reduced to nothing without adequate supplies]. Logistics is the dismal military
job, but without sound logistics the fighting man can only die or surrender... .
I fear I can't add much
to the 8" gun story [beyond what Bogart and Edmonds wrote] except to detail a
little more of the 30 Dec '41 survey that [Captain] Munton. [Captain Cecil S.]
McFarland and I made. We were intimately involved in 5 Jap dive bombing attacks
that day "intimate" meaning when things splash on you & that
included blood and people parts. When we arrived at Lubao after our first thrill
of the day we had dug in the dirt to shiver as the Japs bombed the Lubao
terminal we found 8 cars on a siding two burning & 40 others on the main
track. We drove past the siding & thru the open doors saw they were full of HE
shells & other munitions. We picked up speed to the station about 20 yards &
sent our driver "back" to meet us along the road at the end of the cars on the
main siding. Ten seconds or so after he passed the burning cars the HE shells
started to blow as we dodged fragments down the line and inspected the main
track cars. No aviation gas that's what we were looking for my stuff was
supposed to be blocking the tracks but QM auto gas, food stuffs, & munitions
"about equally divided," my note states and "also there were two eight inch
naval guns on flat cars." I must say that they gave me no thrill just some
more hindrance to my AV gas, if I ever found it.
Now we went to "Guagua 7½
miles 60 more cars & no AV gas." Saw Col. Dencker, quartermaster en route:
"Where is my AV gas?" "I don't know & I have no responsibility for it." He might
have said "& I don't give a damn." It was that kind of fat-headed QM attitude
that made Lubao the "railhead" [Edmonds wrote, p. 230: "Who was responsible and
how the misconception about Lubao's being the end of trackage arose in the first
place has not been told." Obviously it was just a routing foul-up, since there
was plenty of trackage beyond]. No one bothered to check. Hell! I had a
sub-depot at Del Carmen, on the Sugar Centrale, & used the railroad [that far up
the line] all the time .. .
OK. We went on another 18
miles to San Fernando & it was there that we found two tank cars of AV gas,
along with 198 others full of everything needed on Bataan. I've stopped frothing
at the mouth about this but just barely.
We returned thru another series
of Jap dive bombings & at Del Carmen sent a Sugar Centrale engine with one of my
air Depot civilians who at pistol point directed the engineer to hook up and lug
17 cars across the burning trestle connecting the "railhead" [Lubao] to the
plantation. My notes say "these cars included the 2 naval guns." You can see
they didn't impress me very much. I was after AV gas. Opining, I can't believe
one of these guns got to Corregidor. Maybe there was a 3rd gun. My two got to
Del Carmen on the 30th of Dec., '41.
It has come to my attention
that someone is going to "straighten Lawry out [dot dot dot]" [PERIODICAL 56,
pp. 46-47] about the fates of the 8-inch railway guns in the P.I. Okay, that's
fine I'm always willing to learn more [the writer is referring to a letter
from Brigadier General Richard W. (Dick) Fellows, USAF, ret. to Charles H.
Bogart, reprinted by the PERIODICAL].
While I am waiting patiently to
be straightened out, I'll straighten out Fellows: the 8-inch railway guns in the
P.I., all of which originated from Hawaii, were not naval guns, but Model 1888
Army tubes on Model 1918 railway gun carriages (in turn mounted on railroad well
cars). To be sure, there were Mark VI naval tubes on M1 railway mounts used by
the Army, but these 29 later-model units were either just completed or being
completed stateside when all the action happened in the P.I. I am certain none
left the continental U.S. during the duration of the war.
Having said that, I found
Fellow's account of great interest (tragic days!), and not widely divergent from
mine, except the point of the one gun going over to Corregidor. Whether the two
surviving railway guns were stashed on a siding neat-San Fernando (on the Manila
RR) or somewhere else before they reached Lubao, where Fellows first encountered
them, is still in line with the version I sent to Bogart. Bogart's article is
wrong on one count: the 8-inch guns were still mounted on railroad cars. Fellows
was there and he saw them.
Let me repeat three
1. Official documents show
eight railway guns to the P.I., with six reportedly destroyed by the enemy or
the engineers. If so, two guns remained. Engineer reports chronicle the almost
superhuman efforts in getting one gun onto a barge for Corregidor (but the
precise locus of that wharf is unspecified). I hope Fellows can open up the Del
Carmen window more for all of us.
2. Prior to receipt of the
railway units, there were zero 8-inch rifles in the Manila Bay and Subic Bay
3. Official documentation
accounts corroborate the construction of a concrete gun block on Corregidor, the
mounting of an 8-inch gun there, and the firing of ca. five proof rounds before
the gun's destruction.
One of two possibilities: (i)
Bogart's figure of five 8-inch guns destroyed may be correct, and the third
survivor was transported to Corregidor; or (ii) one of the two units that
arrived at Del Carmen in late December 1941 somehow reached the fortified
island. Arithmetic does not allow any more room for maneuver.
NELSON H. LAWRY
Dover, New Hampshire 03820