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Archive for the 'History' Category

Malaybalay City During World War II Chapter 8 Summary

Posted by Delbert on 22nd July 2007

MINDANAO


PHILIPPINE ISLANDS

After uneventful days at sea we came ashore, 22 April 1945, at Parang and from there to Cotabato. The Army 24th Division, just ahead of us, went east to Davao, while the 31st Division went up the central part of Mindanao. This was more like normal warfare as we had a road, the Sayre Highway, which was already there. In the other areas we were in the only roads we had were the ones our troops built. Of course, it was quite different from normal warfare in many other ways. This so-called highway was only a dirt road to begin with and after a couple of days of our vehicle traffic, it was almost nothing. With rain it was an almost impassable quagmire, then in a day or two such heavy dust that it choked up air cleaners on our trucks thereby knocking them out until the air cleaner was serviced. I remember one section of the road that was so bad our Army Engineers built something that I would describe as a bridge, except that it was flat on the ground. It was made of wood and served its purpose as it got our trucks pass this area.

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The Sayre Highway became so bad in one stretch of the road that we could not get trucks through. Our Engineers built a wooden “bridge” flat on the ground so that we could get through this section of the road, in other words a bridge over nothing. this is a picture of that bridge.

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With the retreating Japs blowing up about 75 bridges, it made our advancing troops face many problems while crossing streams and ravines. Getting trucks through with supplies was extremely difficult. At points we moved jeeps as well as supplies across these places on cables rigged for such purposes. At other times the “Biscuit Bombers” were used. In spite of all these difficulties and a determined enemy, the 31st Division went up the Sayre Highway, with the 124th leading the advance all the way to Malaybalay. Fierce combat was experienced in numerous points along this route, often without Artillery support. What with a terrible road and all those blown up bridges, it’s no wonder the Artillery couldn’t keep up with the advancing foot soldiers.

The most severe loss of American lives in such a short period of time for our Regiment came at a place along the highway, which later became known as “Colgan Woods”. On the first day of this encounter, which began on 6 May 1945, our Regimental Chaplain, Father Thomas A. Colgan, was killed while rendering last rites to one of our soldiers. In his honor this area of Mindanao will be remembered always by the men of the 124th as “Colgan Woods.” The Japs were effectively dug in and determined to halt our advance at this point. Being well prepared for combat and with such a strong position they were able to inflict heavy losses upon our attacking troops. Our Foot Soldiers attacked these positions time and again, sustaining heavy casualties but to no avail. It would be days before the sorely missed Artillery could get up in order to lend their support. In the meantime, Marine Dive Bombers were called in and made raids for a few days but were not effective against these strong enemy positions. Our Artillery finally arrived and began shelling and in just a few hours on 12 May 1945, our troops were able to move through this area. The remaining Japs had retreated from this heavy Artillery barrage. These few days at “Colgan Woods” was a great loss to the 124th as 69 were killed and 177 wounded.

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That’s Father Colgan on the right, our Regimental Chaplain who hails from Chicago. The area in Mindanao known to us as “Colgan’s woods” was named in his honor as he was killed there on the first day of an encounter which lasted about 6 or 7 days and cost us 69 Killed and about 180 wounded. With him is Bill Fitzpatrick one of my Service Company buddies who hails from Long Island,N.Y.

After the battle at “Colgan Woods” I passed by there several times with truck convoys but never had the opportunity to stop and look at the integrated defenses the Japs had constructed there. What I’ve read about and learned from others clearly indicates that the enemy considered this a crucial point along the Sayre Highway to defend. They had prepared these positions well in advance with the intention of wreaking severe damage to any American Troops coming up this road. Thus, they were well prepared when our 124th Infantry foot soldiers arrived. Their pillboxes were connected with tunnels, some of which ran under tree roots. The positions were well covered and camouflaged rendering them most difficult to recognize. Troops could pass nearby and not even be aware of these fortifications. Considering these well built defenses it’s no wonder that it took the Artillery to drive them out.

It was extremely difficult to operate truck convoys over the Sayre Highway, with treacherous hair-pin turns up and around mountains, through jungle, heavy quagmires and blown up bridges but some way the job was accomplished. This road, even after being made passable, could deteriorate in a matter of hours. I recall once taking a convoy back for supplies in about 4 hours and it required 2 days to get back up to the advancing troops. Needless to say that, with this terrible road, jungle, mountains, blown up bridges and being on constant alert for Jap snipers or an ambush, it was often a perilous journey.

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In New Guinea & Morotai the only roads we had were the ones our troops built. Everything was near and there wasn’t very many miles of roads. In Mindanao there was a road, the Sayre Highway (so-called). It was just a dirt road and with rain and our vehicle traffic it was soon torn up. This picture shows a hair pin turn and there were many of these through the mountains on this road. With being beware of snipers, an ambush, land mines and rain slick muddy roads it was a dangerous situation.

Land mines were something we had to be aware of but I don’t recall them being a problem for us, at least in my operations. I did see one area marked off as mined. The Japs had a mine that we referred to as a “Yardstick Mine” and we were warned to be on the alert for them lying in the road. From the description given us I figured it would look like a stick out there in the road. I never saw one and as far as I know neither did any of the other men in our transportation section.

Our advance continued and on 23 May 1945 we met up with another Army Regiment that had pushed down from the north coast. The entire Sayre Highway was now in American hands but you can be sure that there are straggling Jap troops in the jungle just off the road. A couple of days earlier another Regiment, the 155th Infantry also of the 31st Division, had relieved the 124th from the lead position. Now for the first time since being in combat, we had friendly troops between us and the enemy. But wait, it’s not time to relax. Remember the Japs that had retreated from “Colgan Woods,” well they were wandering around back there somewhere and it was a sizable force. So in spite of having friendly troops between us and the enemy our 2nd Battalion was attacked early that morning by that group which was run out of “Colgan Woods.” This was a bitter fight, for a few hours that resulted in the destruction of the Jap force. My memory is that 73 Japs were killed that morning and we lost 2 Americans,

The beaten Japanese forces fled back into the remote mountain sections and now it’s mopping up time. Mopping up means you hope you see him before he sees you. Large patrols went back into the mountains seeking out pockets of enemy soldiers and destroying them. Fighting continued until the Japanese surrender.

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Moving after the retreating Japs along the Sayre Highway. Note the foot soldiers with their rifles walking along the roadside. Don’t know what that vehicle was doing there but he will have a most difficult time on this road.

Our thoughts now turned to the invasion of Japan. I learned much later that the 31st Division was slated to go in north of Tokyo with the 8th Army as we invaded Japan. I suppose the 124th would have been ordered to lead the way as we had in our other campaigns. My personal thoughts were on the “point system” which had been devised to give those of us who had been in service for a long time the chance to go home. My points were borderline but I was gaining points right along so my hope was that I would not have to be in on the invasion of Japan.

As the Japanese government surrendered and MacArthur accepted it in Tokyo Bay, the 31st Division Commanding General accepted from the Japanese General surrender of all troops on Mindanao. The word went out by various means to the Japanese soldiers in the remote sections of the mountains that the war was over. Through experience we had learned to be very cautious and leery of this enemy; therefore caution was taken to be sure that there were no surprises. The first large group was ordered to come down from the mountains and stack their arms in a designated area on the other side of a river. I was there on our side of the river with a truck convoy to take them to a compound. I noticed that we had plenty of American troops there on our side of the river – just in case. Our Army Engineers hooked up a barge on some cables stretched across the river. By tilting the barge sideways the river current would force the barge back and to across the river. This means was used to bring the Japanese soldiers across to our side. The operation went along without any hitches and they loaded on our trucks where we took them to a compound. There they awaited transportation back to Japan.

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After the Jap General surrendered then came the task of convincing the enemy soldiers scattered in the remote mountains to come in. This was accomplished by the high ranking Jap officers and dropping leaflets in the remote mountains. American and Filipino soldiers were stationed at every bridge and Japs could surrender there. We could not abandon our learned distrust of this enemy so quickly. In line with this the first large group to surrender were ordered to come down from the mountains and stack their arms on the side of a river. Our Engineers ferried them across to our side of the river. The barge had been rigged with cables stretching across the river and when tilted one way the current would push the barge across, tilted the other way the current pushed it back across. This photo is a part of this first large group.

During the next couple of months for us, it was just wait for a ship to come to the Philippines to take us home. Finally on 27 November 1945 an Army troopship, the USS General Aultman, came to take us to San Francisco. Then on to Camp Stoneman, California, where we boarded trains taking us our separate ways. Mine was back to Camp Blanding, Florida where I began this part of my life. Then on 27 December 1945, after 4 years 10 months and 1 day, I received an honorable discharge and my military service was finished.

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Malaybalay City During World War II Chapter 7 Aftermath

Posted by Delbert on 22nd July 2007


Aftermath



Malaybalay
City During World War II

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

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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.

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Present day photograph taken along Sayre Highway some where between Malaybalay City and Valencia (The people in the photograph are drying corn).

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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 Gua rd 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.

Delbert

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Malaybalay City During World War II Chapter 6 Repatriation

Posted by Delbert on 22nd July 2007


Repatriation



Malaybalay City During World War II

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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.(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.

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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.

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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.

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Malaybalay City During World War II Chapter 5 Surrender

Posted by Delbert on 22nd July 2007

 

Surrender

 

 

 

Malaybalay City During World War II

September 8,1945

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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.

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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.

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

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

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This is a photo of the actual surrender document.

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This is a copy of the surrender document, typed for clarity.

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Malaybalay City During World War II Chapter 4 Celebration

Posted by Delbert on 22nd July 2007

Celebration

 

 

Malaybalay City During World War II

 

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July 4th 1945 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.

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

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As with all celebrations there is usually lots of 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.

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

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

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The dancing continues and I must say that their dress was beautiful as well as colorful.

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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.

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“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.”

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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Malaybalay City During World War II Chapter 3 Liberation

Posted by Delbert on 22nd July 2007

 

Liberation


Malaybalay
City During World War II

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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