Scholla: The Phillipine Invasion (As Described by a Berks County GI) May 4, 1945

Our boys his the beach two or three hours after a terrific naval bombardment had softened  up the shore for us. There was a little lead flying at the time, but not enough to worry us. I am in a chemical mortar (4.2) outfit and we weren’t in the first few waves that hit the beach. I saw quite a bit of evidence of a tough fight put up by the first waves. A few of our boys laid here and there, but considering the overall landing casualties were light. We did nothing that day but wait for the infantry to advance far enough so we could use our mortars.

“That night the Japs made a counterattack on the infantry positions surrounding us and it made sleeping an impossibility. Finally, at the crack of dawn we got out of our fox holes and witnessed a sweet sight. Plane after plane came over and strafed and rocket-bombed a strong point the Japs had in a mountain up ahead.”

They really made shambles of the mountainside and, soon after the infantry moved on to a position next to a rice field. It was a regular swamp and the small streams were swollen and almost impassable, due to a tornado and rains a few days before we landed. It was across this swamp that the Japs made the counterattack the night before. We set up our guns and began our first firing on the Japs. We all heard that we did a good bit of firing and were credited with a few Japs.

Out with the Wire

“Lieutenant Swavely asked me to go with him to the forward observation position and lay wire for a telephone. We had radio communications but the C.O. wanted wire communications as a precautionary measure. We trudged across two swamps up to our waist in mud and water. The second swamp had a stream running through the length of it about shoulder deep. We finally got to the O.P. set up in a village and we tried to get the mortar position. Well, it didn’t work, so we stood around and watched our shells land down and across the road a couple hundred yards. It seems there were some Japs in a cocoanut grove across the road. We ceased firing and thoughtthey were routed.”

“Suddenly the Japs opened up with their familiar 25 caliber rifles. There was quite a bit of lead flying for a few minutes, but our boys spotted two  Japs along a fence and finished them off with a couple long shots.”

“The Lieutenant and I started across the swamp and the little devils started to pot-shot at us. They were falling way short and didn’t come close to me. We finally got back to our area in time to have a sniper start popping at us from the trees. I was caught with my socks, shoe and pants off and he made me damned mad. Some infantry boys went in and flushed out two of them.

Officer Killed

“That’s just one of the many experiences I went through . . . I’ve been through bombing, strafing, shelling, and sniping and the devils never come too close. You know the old saying, ‘A miss is as good as a mile.’ The lieutenant and I went up to the O.P. quite often, but he finally got killed by shrapnel from a Jap artillery shell, and it sure was tough to lose him. I’ve seen Japs alive and dead — the best ones are the latter.”

“When I see a dead Jap it doesn’t faze me, but when I see a wounded or dead doughboy it still cuts deep. It’s too bad things have to be as they are, but all we can do is to hope that it won’t last long anymore.”

“Wading through mud and water sleeping in wet clothes and sometime lying in a foxhole half-full of water is not my idea of living a good life. It has to be done to win this war and the sooner we get the war over the quicker we can start living again. It’s a big and tough job, but without a doubt we can finish it.”

” Right now we’ve been resting in a rear position and living quite a life. We sleep in cots, have Filipinos do our washing and sleep in 12-men tents. This is heaven in comparison to actual combat. We’ll see more of it, but right now I am taking it easy.”

MacArthur_Landing_Site

MacArthur’s Landing, by Anastacio Caedo at MacArthur Landing Memorial National Park on Leyte Gulf.

Image Source:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Leyte#/media/File:MacArthur_Landing_Site.JPG

This is a photo of Cultural Heritage Monument in the Philippines number PH-08-0004

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