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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

June 5, 1945

MG probably means machine gun. A defilade is a defense configuration
________________________________________________________
                                                                                             Philippines
                                                                                             5th June

Dear Arnold,

     Sorry I have'nt written to you for such a long time Bud.  I have'nt

done much letter writing in the last month and a half or so, for several

reasons.  Mainly I guess I was just too damn lazy to overcome the

difficulties involved, and consequently I am very much in arears on my correspondence.

However, now that I am no longer in a "fighting outfit" I expect to regain

my reputation as a prolific purveyor of typewritten nonsense.  I suppose that

you have already  noticed that have a new return address, yes, I am almost

a Base Commando now.

     Back in the latter part of April the situation between me and the Colonel

got to the point that I decided I could no longer continue in his services

and retain my sanity, so requested immediate action.  Some time before that

I had disscussed transferring down to one of the line outfits with him, and

he promised that it would be done, but inasmuch as there were several other

transfers floating about in his section he put it off, as he did'nt want

the General to ask why so many officers were trying to transfer out of his

section.  The whole matter was temporarily solved by sending me out to work

with the Guerrillas, to run down their reports that 500 or more Japs were

raising hell in their area.  I spent about amonth with them, and had quite

an experience.

     I did quite a bit of patrolling, finally tracking down one large group

of Japs down to place where I was able to bring an US Inf Co in on them, and

we bagged 150 of the little bastards.  I guess I might as well tell you the

whole story.  In fact since I have'nt written to you for some time and owe

you several letters, and since you have indicated that you like to hear

about these things, I tell ya what I'm going to do, I'll tell the whole

story, and we'll call it even, and you can write to me again real quick like.

Since this is going to require a lot of space, I think that I will put it

on a separate page and use the back of this page for the fourth page.

Confusing I'll admit, so remember look for page two, but you won't find

it on the back of this sheet, silly si'nt it.

[page 2]
     Since this little action happened over a month ago is all cleared up
now, and probably does'nt make much difference anyway, I am going to use some
of the place-names (most of them are'nt on the map nayway), as I understand
from the Base Censor that this is permissable.  Well as I said before the
Guerillas in this particular area had been reporting contacts with large
groups of Japs, and in some cases as many as 500 Nips.  Now we had previously
received a report that 300 Japs had evacuated a little island off the coast,
and had landed somewhere on the shorts of CAVITE Province (north shores), but
nobody had since reported sighting them.  So we figured that possibly these
were the same Japs that the Grls had been reporting.  I was sent out to check
on these reports, and to try and clarify things.

     One of the Inf Cos of the Div had also been sent out to help the Grls
dispose of the said Japs.  Well we started to check down the reports, and
found that the Grls were basing their reports on rumors that the civilians
had told them, and after hiking over steep mountain trails in the hot tropical
sun for several days without contacting the Japs, and finding that the rumors
probably originated from a small group of stragglers we were quite PO'd at
the Grls.  Finally we get a hot report in, "The Grls are fighting the Japs
at MAGALLANES, all civilians reported evacuating towards MARAGONDAN."  An
A/B 75mm Btry was brought up as close as possible, and the next morning the
Inf Co started out to attack the Japs.  Unfortunately there were no roads
to the Barrio of MAGALLANES, and the trail ran perpendicular to five steep
gorges.  It was rough going, and many of the men carrying heavy equipment
(81 mortars and HMGs) became sick from the heat and vomitted along the
way, which slowed thing sup considerably (you must remember that these men
had been in steady combat for three months, and were a bit shot).  Finally
we crossed the last gorge and started to approach the barrio.  We noticed that
the natives were working in the fields as if nothing had happened, and upon
questioning found that they had heard reports of Japs being four or five Kms
away.  Inside the barrio we foudn no Japs, no Grls, only the local inhabitants,
who reported that there had been no Japs in the barrio, and the only ones
to evacuate were the Grls, but that they had heard that there were Japs about
4 of 5 Kms away.  I went out with a patrol to investigate and after a couple
more hours of hiking, questioning, and searching we finally found where the
Japs had bivouaced two days before, and estimated their were about 50
of them.  Naturally everyone was most disgusted.

     Upon return to Grla Hdqs, I found another report that the Japs were
now a little place called DALIG (five nipa huts) on MT CARILAO, and that
the Grls were in contact with them.  The next day a platoon from the
Inf Co went up their and took a forward observer with them.. They found the
Grls firing on a hill about 1000 yds away (even with tommy guns), and so they
had the artillery shell the area.  The Grls refused to advance so they sent
out four American soldiers who looked over the hill and reported no Japs.
This was the last straw, and the next day the infantry and the artillery
pulled out and went home, and the major (US) in charge of the Grls and myself
went around and reamed the Grla Commanders out concerning their reporting
methods and combat efficiency.

     However, the story does'nt end here.  I might tell you a little about
these Grls.  Most of them had joined up after the US landing and had no
military training.  The weapons they did have were mainly .03 rifles, with
a sprinkling of carbines and Jap rifles.  They lacked heavier equipment,
such as MGs and mortars.  Although they were useful as guards and could
take care of small groups of Jap stragglers, they were inefficient when it
came to fighting an organized group of Japs armed with MGs and mortars.
I might add that there are some good Grla units, in fact we had one join us
later which was armed with US MGs, 60mm mortars, and bozookas, and could hold
their own anytime.  The Grls also seemed to be lacking in courage, although
I think it was mainly a lack of traiing discipline, and they too often let
their impulses control them, or should I say their feet.

[page 3]

     The next day we another report that there are Japs up on MT CARILAO,
so I take a patrol of Grls and some AA men and go up there.  I might explain
that there was part of a battery of Airborne AA troops at Grla Hdqs (AA now
stands for Almost Anything).  Well believe it or not there were some Japs
up there and they were armed with mortars and MGs.  Well the Grls had howled
wolf just one too often, and so it was up to them to do the job alone.
Well it was obvious tha these japs were moving down generally south, and
by plotting their route I figured that they would make another move that
night, So I picked the two main tails going down off the mountain and
set up ambushes on them.  The Japs moved alright, but they crossed the main
highway at different spots than I had estimated they would, however, one
of the Grla ambushes heard them crossing further up on another lesser used
trail and atacked them.  Here the Grlas vindicated themselves to some
extent and by killing 21 of the Japs.  Now these Japs had been moving in the
night and hiding in the day time.  When I came down in the morning to inspect
the ambushes I found that the Japs had used 2 lesser known trails and had
crossed the highway in two places and were heading towards MT CARILAO on the
other side of the road.  By now I guess that you have figured out that we
have two mountains Mt CARILAO on the north and Mt BATULAO on the south with
a main highway running through a pass between the mountains.

     I took one of the Grls and went up the road to inspect the Jap Crossings.
At the first place I saw where a considerable number of them had crossed the
road and the signs were quite fresh.  At the second place the Grla pointed
out the spot (about 100 yds away) where they had attacked the Japs in the early
predawn light, we could'nt see any dead Japs, and as I only had two US soldiers
and two Grls with me I did'nt feel like going over to investigate the area at
that time, however we did go over to a little ridge and there on another ridge
about 600 yds away I could see some Japs.  I counted 18 of them before the
column halted to take a break.  Two of the Japs heeded the call of nature,
and it rather irked me to see them squatting so arrogantly right in the open
almost up on the skyline.  So, although the range was excessive, I told one
of the US soldiers with an M-1 to see what he could do about it.  He opened
fire and one Jap pulled up his pants and dove for cover, the the other one fell
back on his pile (I could see rather plainly through the glasses), and the
last I saw of him was his shinning bare ass as he crawled up the train behind
some bushes.  Of course the rest of the Japs all hit for cover, and I decided
that it was best we move on before they open up with a MG.  When we came
back by the first crossing, we found that the Grls had returned from breakfast
and were in a skirmish line firing at the Japs, who were in as much defilade
as the Grls, and consequently nobody was getting anywhere.  Now the night before
I had requested a US Inf Plat reinforced with mortars and MGs, and had received
an answer stating that the Rcn Plat was being sent up.  So with the Japs more
or less pinned own, at least as to location, I went on back to Hdqs to get the
platton.  In the afternoon I came back with the Rcn Plat, who had a 81 mm
mortar with them, and/we found that everything was quiet near the first crossing
where the Grls had previously engaged the Japs that morning (I later found
out that the Grls had simply knocked off and had gone to lunch), so we went
down to the spot where I had observed the Japs earlier in the morning and dis-
rupted their morning toilet.  The Rcn Platoon sent out a small patrol, which
found the Japs.  They killed two and we scattered the rest with mortar fire.
Returning to the first crossing (vicinity thereof) we found that the Grls
had returned from lunch, and were busy shooting at the Japs again.  Now past
experience had taught us that the Grls usually engaged the Japs at maximum
range or greater, and when we found them (the Grls) about sixty yards down
on the forward slope pf a ridge shooting up in the air, we naturally assumed
that the Japs were either way down in the bottom of the ravine on the other
side or else on the opposite ridge about 800 yds away.  So I ordered the Grls
to move to the crest of the ridge, and the Rcn Plat Ldr, a Sgt, and myself
reached said crest first.  Meanwhile the Grls were coming up, relaying the
orders and shouting and making quite a hubahuba.  Imagine my surprise when
I reached the top and looked down the other only to see the Japs about
twenty yards away down the reverse slope of the ridge. a bit embarrassing.
About that time a Jap MG burst opened up directly in front of the Sgt catching
him squarely across the body.  But he was lucky, as most of the shots hit his
M-1, however he was shot through both arms, the hip, and had his thumb knocked off,
but he lived.

[page 4]

     The Japs seeing us, and hearing the shouting of the Grls opened up with
everyth ing they had inculding MGs and mortars.  We had exhausted our immediate
supply of mortar ammunition in the previous skirmish, and so I took the wounded
man and went after more ammo.  However, the Rcn Plat Ldr soon found that he
was heavily outnumbered, and lacking MGs or mortar ammo and having another
Rcn man and several Grls wounded, decided to break off the engagement.
However, when I retu rned with the mortar ammunition we decided to shell the
Japs anyway, and proceeded to do so.

     This had developed into more words than I thought it would, so I will
finish it up quickly.  The outcome of the whole deal was that the Rcn Plat
was withdrawn and the Inf Co sent back up.  Early the next morning before
dawn I started down with the Inf Co to show them the Japs.  We found that
the Japs had come back to the main highway during the night and had marched
brazenly down the highway for four miles or so.  I took a patrol and started
to track the Japs down following their trail from the point they left the
road.  By this time it was quite obvious that there were between 100 and
200 of them.  It was still rather dark, and in the early morning fog it was
an eire sort of business.  Every once in a while we would come to a spot
where a straggler had fallen out, and had cut a path through the grass
down into one of the ravines below.  The trail followed a ridge running along
about 50 yards below the crest.  About an hour later just as the fog cleared
and the sun came up we heard some shots down in a valley about 1500 yards
away, and could see some Filipinos running.  The company commander, who was
with me, went back to bring up his company, and I went on ahead to investigate.
About fifteen minutes later my scouts signaled a halt, and I went up and found
that they had heard some Japs talking in a small ravine below.  The ravine
ran perpendicular to the ridge, and the trail passed above the head of the
ravine running about twenty yards below the crest of the ridge.  I went up
(crawled is the word), and about fifty yards or less below the trail I could
hear the Japs breaking up twigs and chattering.  I listened and watched for
about five minutes, occassionally getting a fleeting glimpse of a figure
through the thick foliage that grew along the bottom of the ravine.  I finally
decided that this was not the main body, and directed the patrol to sneak along
the trail and by-pass the Japs.  About 150 yds pass this spot one of the scouts
came back and reported Japs sleeping along side the trail.  I went up and in-
vestigated, and decided that it was best not to continue or we might find our-
selves in the middle of a Jap bivouac.  I took the rest of the patrol (5 men)
back to the first spot and posted them along the top of the trail with in-
structions to open fire when they heard me fire.  I then went up with the
scouts, figuring that we might as well shoot as many of the sleeping Japs
as possible before we pulled back.  I was in the lead, and  unfortunately passed
the first Jap without seeing him.  I was sneaking up on another group of Japs
when my scouts (Filipinos) started whispering, "uck, hoy, pss t," and I did'nt
know what was wrong so I went back to where they were, about twenty yards be-
hind me.  What they were doing was telling me that I had passed some Japs,
and the hoying and psssting woke the Japs up.  I only got one Jap here that
I know of for sure, and we did wound quite a few more.  I threw a hand grenade
in the bunch further up, and I know that I wounded at least five of them.
Of course the rest of the men in the rear opened up, and by the time the Japs
could figure out what was happening we were on our way out.  We went back and
met the Inf Co coming up the trail and took them back up and showed them the
place and they went to work.  While they were plastering the area with mortars,
I took another patrol out to investigate the original firing we heard earlier
in the morning.  We did'nt find anything and returned to where the first Japs
were.

     They were really caught in a hell of a jam.  It was like shooting rats in
the bottom of a pit.  By the time we got back the infantrymen were on the crest
of the main ridge and two secondary ridges bordering a second ravine, which
was below the point where the Japs were asleep on the trail.  This ravine was
covered by thick grass about four feet high, and every time a Jap would get
up or move to shoot we could see him.  The result was something like a multi-
ringed circus, maybe five or six Japs would be moving at the same time, and
everybody would shoot and open fire.  We were shooting Japs anywhere from 25
to 200 yards away.  Only one man was wounded and I counted 92 dead Japs in the

[page 5]

bottom of the ravine.  It was getting too late to go down in the first ravine,
so the artillery (which was brought up during the day) proceeded to blast it,
and continued by firing interdicting fire on it all night.  The next day 44
more Japs were counted in this rainve.  But we ran into a little trouble
there, and a number of men were killed and wounded, but that is another
story, and I have already spent much more time writing this than intended
to do.  However, I will tell you about one of those narrow escapes you
sometimes read about.

     The Jps killed a BAR man, and he fell across his buddy, and covered
himw tih blood.  The Japs came up before the buddy could do anything, and
so he played dead, or rather tried to.  He said that he could'nt stop breathing,
and the Japs knew that he was till alive, but seeing him covered with blood
they must have figured that he was sure to die.  The Japs took his M-1 and
his ammunition, and then held sort of a conference, perhaps deciding whether
to kill him or not.  Suddenly he heard some of the other menm calling to him
and the dead BAR man, as they were only about thirty yards away through the
bushes, the Japs apparently decided that they would give their own position
away if they shot him, so they left him there,  He came out of the whole
thing without a scratch.  Well enough is enough.

[page 6]

     The former Order of Battle Officer here went out on a rcn flight,

and never came back.  A while back they found the place and the bodies.

Since the 11th was going into a rest, and me not getting along with the

G-2 there, they offered me the job.  Well I lose a hundred dollars a month

by coming up here, and I could have stayed with the division, but I have

seen all the combat I want to see, and in a way this is a good break.

I have been feeling pretty sick for the last two weeks, but today I

feel pretty good.  I should be back to my old self in another week or so.

     Well Bud, I have to close now, write again soon.


                                                 love,
                                       [signed] Leonard

P.S. I don't need anything in particular right now that I can think of.

        thanks anyway.


[handwritten] New address:

                  Hq I Corps
                  APO 301 c/o PM
                  San ------



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