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Invasion – Malaybalay City During World War II

Posted by Editor on July 15th, 2007

Invasion – Malaybalay City During World War II


"Here is a part of the ship convoy as we approach Mindanao for our landing which I believe to be in the Parang area."


Map Of Mindanao


These wrecked buildings are the result of pre-invasion bombing and shelling.


The Army 24th Infantry Division came in just ahead of us and went east to Davao. We, Army 31st Infantry "Dixie" Division, went north up the Sayre Highway with my unit the 124th Infantry Regiment leading the fight all the way to Malaybalay. Part of my job as Regimental Motor Sergeant entailed leading truck convoys, such as the one in this Photo, over these dangerous mountain roads.


This is the Regimental Motor Officer’s Jeep which is aptly named "Buttbuster." Being Regimental Motor Sergeant I often drove this Jeep and the soldier in the photo is me.


"The Sayre Highway was just a dirt road and with our military vehicle traffic it quickly deteriorated to almost nothing. When dry it was clouds of dust, as in this photo, which would choke up the truck Air Cleaner thereby knocking it out of use until serviced."


"This photo of a section of the Sayre Highway was given to me but I don’t recall by whom. This was a dangerous road because of slick, muddy hairpin curves through mountains and jungle. Also it was imperative that you be on the alert for an enemy ambush, sniper or land mine.


At a section of the Sayre Highway the Japs had well fortified and put up the strongest defense. Unfortunately our Foot Soldiers arrived at this point without Artillery support because of blown up bridges. On the first day of this battle our Regimental Chaplain Father Thomas Colgan was killed while giving last rites to a fallen soldier. That’s Father Colgan on the right and with him Bill Fitzpatrick who gave me this picture. This fight lasted about a week until the Artillery arrived. Our Regiment lost 69 men killed and 177 wounded in this fight. It became known as "Colgan Woods" and will live in the hearts and minds of those who were there forever.

S PHILIPPINES – In U.S. Army’s X Corps area, 1st Bn of 34th Inf, 24th Division, attacks heights N of Bancal, making slow progress against entrenched strengthened enemy . 3d Bn joins Co K in Guma area to strengthen efforts against bypassed pocket there. 31st division patrol moving N along Sayre Highway finds enemy force disposed to hold woods N of Lake Pinalay, later dubbed Colgan Woods for Capt A.T. Colgan.


Pushing the Japs back up the Sayre Highway. Note the Foot Soldiers with their rifle walking, along the roadside. This section of the Sayre Highway was in good shape that day.


An exinct volcano: Musuan Peak in Maramag


The Japs in their retreat up the Sayre Highway blew up about 75 bridges. We could not move trucks or Artillery until bridges or by-passes were built. Many times we were lagging far behind our advancing troops This photo is of a Bailey Bridge which our Army Engineers could erect in a relatively short period of time. I believe they came in sections and were then put together.


Because of blown up bridges, after I went back with a truck convoy, I could not get back up to the troops on the Sayre Highway. I was routed with other convoys further west and passed by Lake Lanao where I made this picture.


Our convoys arrive in Iligan and I believe that we were among the first American soldiers to arrive here. The Japs had moved all of their troops to the Sayre Highway in a futile attempt to stall our drive.


Another Army Regiment had landed in the North and moved south toward Malaybalay. Our Regiment, the 124th, had been relieved from the lead by the 155th, another 31st Division Regiment a few days before meeting up with the troops coming down from the North. Now for the first time since our initial combat in New Guinea we had friendly troops between us and the enemy. However it’s not time to relax as the Japs attacked behind the lines that night and against our 2nd Battalion perimeter. The result they had 73 killed and we lost 2 men. This photo pictures some of the dead Japs.


To this guy from the flat land in Florida, this mountain was an impressive sight. (Webmaster’s note: Mount Kitanglad)


July 4th1945, was a day of celebration in Malaybalay. The war is not over yet but the towns and highway have been cleared and the beaten Japs have fled back into the remote mountains. This picture shows a part of the crowd on their way to the celebration.


Our 31st Infantry "Dixie" Division Band added much to this happy and joyous occasion for the people of Malaybalay.


As with all celebrations there is usually long-winded speeches by the politicians and this one is not an exception. Perhaps you can identify this speaker and maybe even some of the crowd.


The happy celebration continues with the young ladies dancing with joy.


When these pictures are made public in Malaybalay, I hope that some of these ladies will recognize themselves dancing.


This is the last picture of the ladies dancing as well as of the celebration. I must say that at the time I wasn’t aware of how meaningful this liberation was to the citizens of Mindanao. Now as an old man I can appreciate more what they had to endure.


"A little horse play but in this case I suppose one should say a little Carabao play. That’s me (Paul Tillery) and I’m glad the animal was domesticated."


Kids are kids the world over and these three seemed to be having an enjoyable time bouncing on this bush. There again no names but maybe someone will recognize them.


Didn’t get this little guy’s name but he is certainly a great looking kid. Perhaps someone will recognize him.


Some of the local guys were paid to erect a Mess Hall for us. It was really surprising how much cooler it was with the thatch roof. This is photo of the Mess Hall. I included it because of the two guys there. Perhaps someone will recognize them.


Here are two great looking guys but again I didn’t get their names. Louie Ching thought the guy on the right might be his Dad. After checking with Malaybalay he confirmed this to be his Dad. Remember these are 1945 photos. What a remarkable discovery.


Atomic bombs have been dropped on Japan and MacArthur accepts the surrender in Tokyo bay. Here on Mindanao the 31st Division Commanding General accepts the surrender of the Japanese troops. The next few photos, which were given to me are the official account of that event. One of our small planes brought Japanese Lt.General Gyosaku Morozumi (pictured here) in for these proceedings.


A long walk for General Morozumi of the Japanese 35th Army as he is escorted through American and Filipino troops on the way for the official surrender.


Here Japanese General Morozumi signs the surrender document in front of the 31st Infantry "Dixie" Division Commander General Joseph C. Hutchinson.


With his signature General Joseph C. Hutchinson, commander of the 31st Infantry "Dixie" Division accepts the surrender.


Photo of the actual surrender document.


Copy of the surrender document, typed for clarity.


After the surrender came the task of getting the Japanese soldiers to come down from the mountains. This was accomplished by their officers communicating with them and by leaflets being dropped from the air. The first large group (you may be able to see some of them on the other side of the river) was ordered to come to this pictured river and stack their arms.

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This is a part of this group after they had been ferried across the river. I was there with a convoy of trucks to move them. Thus I was able to photograph this historic event. (Webmaster’s note: Town of Valencia with Musuan Peak across the river)

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This photo is of more of this group of Japanese soldiers.

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In this photo the Japanese soldiers are lining up in preparation of loading on our trucks.


The Japanese soldiers are loading on our trucks for a ride to a compound, where they will await transportation back to Japan. While there our American guards are not for the purpose of keeping them from escaping but rather to protect them from the Filipino people.


After trucking the Japanese soldiers to a compound, my trucks next hauled food to them. In this photo they are shown unloading one of the trucks.


Now that the war is over we can witness a peaceful scene again, such as these Carabaos pulling the carts along the road.


A military cemetery – We (124th Infantry Regiment) were in combat in New Guinea, Morotai and Mindanao and I’m not sure where this cemetery is located. The picture was given to me and I don’t recall by whom. I do know that it saddens me when I think of all the good guys who lost their lives and they are some of the real heroes. I’m not a hero but I am a survivor, having survived "The Great Depression" of the thirties and 4 years 10 months and one day in an Infantry Regiment during WW II. We all owe a deep debt of gratitude to those who didn’t make it back home.


Present day photograph taken along Sayre Highway somehwere between Malaybalay City and Valencia(Webmaster’s collection – The people in the photograph are drying corn).


After the war I returned to my job with a farm equipment dealer in western Palm Beach County Florida around southern Lake Okeechobee. I was married in 1947 and had two children. After retirement I moved to Melrose in north Florida and live only about 20 miles from the main gate at Camp Blanding. Today this is a National Guard Training Center. There is also a great Museum and Memorial Park which is open to the public. This photo of me (Paul Tillery) and my grandson (Warren Tillery age 6-1/2 then) was made in 1994 as we were standing by the memorial to my Division . The 31st Infantry "Dixie" Division. I am 81 years old, in excellent health, take no medication on a regular basis and rarely at any time.


We at the Manila Journal would like to thank Paul Tillery for his photos and his commentary about his service in the Philippines during the Second World War.

I and the staff of the Manila Journal wish to thank him and his comrades for their service to both the Philippines and the United States and to acknowledge the sacrifices of those comrades living and dead.


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