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"We bore the main attack."

 

 Lt.  R. G. Lawrence, commanding Batteries "A" and "D" of the 92d Coast Artillery (Philippine Scouts), reinforced by a platoon of US 4th Marines,  and 10 US Army and Philippine Army evacuees from Bataan, in total 86 men, inflicted catastrophic casualties upon the first two waves of Japanese attackers, decimating both attacks.    By daybreak, he believed that only approximately 500 Japanese effectives remained on the island and that the landing in his sector had entirely failed.  His unit had suffered only one killed and one wounded,  all his guns were in operating condition and they lacked only food, water and communication.   His testimony should force us to reconsider and question the 'conventional understanding' which prevailed inside Malinta Tunnel, namely that the Japanese invasion had been a tactical success.  It was, in fact,  still capable of being soundly defeated, only no one in the U.S. command structure knew it.

 

Japanese troops march through Malinta, with arms shouldered, whilst surrendered troops stand by attempting to come to terms with the unthinkable.

 

 

                                                                            Ray G. Lawrence, Lt. Col.
1133 Western Meadows Road
Albuquerque 14, New Mexico
 


October 3, 1963

Dear Dr. Belote:

I was surprised to hear from a historian after so long.  I have read several accounts of the surrender and prior siege but none to my knowledge have been too accurate.  I might say you are the first to question me although several senior officers received a report from me after the surrender and then in P.O.W. camp several persons were writing experiences, but to my knowledge the latter all died in P.O.W. camp.

Yes, I commanded a battery of 2 - 75mm model 1917 British made guns.  In addition I had 2 - 37mm ex-caliber guns mounted in 50 cal. AA mounts, 2 - 50 cal. Machine guns, 2 30 cal machine guns, 3 - 25 # aerial frag bombs, 8 Browning automatic rifles and 3,000 hand grenades. My command on 1 Jan. 1942 consisted of myself,  a Phil. Army 3rd Lt. and 35 Philippine Scouts from Btry "A" & "D" of the 92d CA (PS). I & my men were attached for command to the 1st Bn 4th U.S. Marine Reg't, Commanded by Lt. Col. Beecher. My sector started at the old Rifle Butt concrete wall approx 250 yards from the end of the airstrip and continued to the tail end of the island.  The location was commonly known as East Pt., North Point was approx 1/2 mile to my left.

As I obtained more weapons, additional men were assigned. One platoon of the 4th U.S. Marines joined me and took over the machine guns.  Later, after Bataan fell, I rec'd about 10 U.S. Army and Phil soldiers though they were tired and ill with malaria.  They had recovered by May 6th to perform.  By then I had 82 men.  The Phil Scouts manned the 75's and trained constantly to where they could perform in the dark as well as in the daytime.  Of course,  I need not tell of the ability of the Marines to handle the MG's & small arms.  They used to practice blindfolded clearing stoppages & getting the guns in action.  Within a week after Bataan fell I knew we were to be the target for a landing as the Jap artillery attempted to zero in on our position & the beach in front of us.  We were shelled 5 times per day so close we could almost  set our watches.  The Japs used 150mm & 240mm though they never damaged our positions or caused casualties.  They did hit 1 37mm position twice but it was well revetted and so no damage.  The first time we were shelled my men were terrified as was I.  It took me most of the night to find everyone, they had dug in so deep.  I then made it a practice to hold gun drills & communication drills during all shelling.  It seemed to boost the morale and then they became sure that their position was invulnerable.  When the attack finally came, we were waiting in our gun pits,  every man on duty.  The barrage immediately preceding the initial landing was by far the worst.  My own communications (field phones) remained intact but my contact with Marine Hq. was severed; hence I was not able to report,  nor did I receive any orders subsequently.

  I have always thought the 1st wave hit us at about 9:30 P.M. just as the garage on the beach lifted & moved further behind us and to the left on the airstrip.  We were all so busy I doubt if anyone looked at their watch,  mine had quit operating several weeks before.  I had a 36" searchlight which was operated by the scouts.  I ordered it turned on when I had the motors approaching the beach.  It was knocked out by enemy small arms within 2-3 minutes but not before we got a good look at the craft about 100 yds from the shore.  We opened up with all guns & our tracers from the M.G.'s lit up the beach.  We hit many landing craft before they hit the beach, but the M.G's made short work of those that landed.  All guns were sighted in to form interlocking bands of fire.  That is all accept 1 50 cal MG.  It had been moved 200 yds to my left the day before and I was unable to protect it with flanking fire.  It was captured shortly after the 1st attack.  We heard the Japs crying for mercy, telling us to cease fire , they were Filipinos.  Ater we had fired approx 1 hr. & we were cleaning out the pits of empty shells,  we heard more motors, the second attack.  By then the stars were bright and possibly the moon, coming up, I don't remember, but we opened up when the craft were approx 500 yds out & did a better job on them. I doubt if any reached the shore.  I'm sure we sunk at least a dozen offshore. This was a larger force,  I believe, since we fired more rounds.