Remembering the Fallen of Bataan, 2014

Today is Memorial Day in the United States, the annual remembrance of grateful citizens for those who died in the line of duty in service to the nation defending our freedom. In the case of remembering the defenders of Bataan, this commemoration takes place on both sides of the Pacific, in the Philippines and in the United States.

The people who take a moment to remember can do so in any variety of ways. They can participate in a commemoration or memorial service at the Manila American Cemetery and/or the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Heroes’ Cemetery) in Manila, or at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, and countless other places across the world, in the Philippines, in the U.S., and at the other American Battle Monuments Commission overseas cemeteries and memorials.

Manila American Cemetery and Memorial.  Headstones with memorial building behind.  17, 206 of the honored dead from WWII are buried there. (Courtesy Wikipedia)

Manila American Cemetery and Memorial. Headstones with memorial building behind. 17, 206 of the honored dead from WWII are buried there. (Courtesy Wikipedia)

For those in the Philippines, they can visit the battlefields of Bataan, or the Mt. Samat National Shrine, the Dambana ng Kagitingan (Shrine of Valor).

 

Tanks of the 192nd Tank Battalion and troops fought the invaders caught in the Battle of the Pockets. (Courtesy WWII Forums, Tank company in Bataan)

Tanks of the 192nd Tank Battalion and troops fought the invaders caught in the Battle of the Pockets, February, 1942. (Courtesy WWII Forums, Tank company in Bataan)

Citizens can remember in many other ways too. They can do so at home, proudly displaying the national flag. Or one can read something about the Bataan campaign to learn more about a specific person lost in the battle or a particular unit’s losses. One can even take the time for a moment of silence or to utter a humble prayer of thanks. Everyone can do something to honor someone of the fallen, most of who will remain forever young.

And there are so many names to remember from the Bataan campaign and its aftermath. Of the 120,000 members of the Fil-Am forces on Bataan, about 10,000 men were killed in battle before the campaign ended. Of the approximate 75,000 troops taken prisoner, somewhere between five and ten thousand more, mostly Filipino, perished soon afterwards on the infamous Bataan Death March.

The horror of the Bataan Death March, April, 1942 (painting by Bataan Defender and Death March survivor Ben Steele)

The horror of the Bataan Death March, April, 1942 (painting by Bataan Defender and Death March survivor Ben Steele)

Survivors of the Death March were held at Camp O’Donnell, and so many more never left that terrible camp alive in the weeks and months after Bataan. About 20,000 Filipino and 1,600 American servicemen died at miserable Camp O’Donnell. They are remembered today at the Paggunita Sa Capas (Capas National Shrine) in Tarlac Province.

The black marble wall engraved with the names of the Filipinos known to have died during the Death March, part of the Capas National Shrine in Tarlac (Courtesy Wikipedia)

The black marble wall engraved with the names of the Filipinos known to have died during the Death March, part of the Capas National Shrine in Tarlac (Courtesy Wikipedia)

And beyond that are those Bataan veterans who were later lost on the Japanese “Hell Ships” the troops transports that took prisoners from the Philippines to places in the Japanese Empire to use them as slave labor. These ships were not marked in any way, and were subsequently attacked by Allied forces taking them for regular Japanese vessels. On 7 September 1944, the Shinyo Maru was sunk, with an estimated 687 prisoners killed. The torturous voyage of the Oryoku Maru began in mid-December, 1944, with 1,620 prisoners – the ship was sunk and many were killed. The second ship the survivors were placed on was also attacked and many more prisoners died. By the end of the war, only 403 men survived.

The Japanese transport ship Oryoku Maru seen here under attack by U.S. Navy carrier aircraft at Olongapo, Luzon, December 14–15, 1944.  The attackers did not know that there were 1,620 POW's aboard the vessel (Courtesy Wikipedia)

The Japanese transport ship Oryoku Maru seen here under attack by U.S. Navy carrier aircraft at Olongapo, Luzon, December 14–15, 1944. The attackers did not know that there were 1,620 POW’s aboard the vessel (Courtesy Wikipedia)

The total number of men killed as a direct or indirect result of their participation in the Bataan Campaign is a hard number to find. But as an example of the extent of loss, consider the 1,816 men of the New Mexico National Guard’s 200th and 515th Coastal Artillery (Anti-Aircraft) regiments: 829 died in battle, as prisoners, or soon after liberation, which left 987 survivors.

Harder still to comprehend is the fact that all these many thousands of men who were lost were sons, brothers, husbands, and/or fathers. The ripple effect of such painful losses touched so many more lives in significant ways. How does a grateful nation express its thanks to all of those connected to those who were lost?

But the valiant sacrifice of the defenders of Bataan bought valuable time for other forces in the Pacific to assemble, and contest the aggression unleashed by Imperial Japan. The forces for freedom eventually prevailed, and today we have the liberty we enjoy thanks in part to the service and sacrifice of those who fought on Bataan. As citizens in free countries, we owe them our sincere thanks. Let us remember them on this Memorial Day.

 

American and Filipino flags fly at the Clark Veterans Cemetery near the former Clark Air Base, Pampanga (Courtesy CVCRA)

American and Filipino flags fly at the Clark Veterans Cemetery near the former Clark Air Base, Pampanga (Courtesy CVCRA)

 

References

Bataan Campaign, at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Bataan

Libingan ng mga Bayani/Heroes’ Cemetery at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heroes%27_Cemetery

Capas National Shrine, at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capas_National_Shrine

Bataan Death March, at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bataan_Death_March

Camp O’Donnell, at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camp_O%27Donnell

Hell Ships, at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hell_ship#Oryoku_Maru

New Mexico National Guard Museum, at: http://www.bataanmuseum.com/bataanhistory/

Clark Veterans Cemetery Restoration Association, at: http://www.cvcra.org/photo_gallery_02-cemetery-view.php

And then there was (Forty) One…

When the Bataan campaign began in January, 1942, there were 18 Curtiss P-40 fighter planes on hand, survivors of the 92 operational P-40’s at the start of the war. They were a mix of P-40s surviving from the various pursuit squadrons of MacArthur’s Far East Air Force which had all experienced heavy losses in December, 1941. These included the 3rd, 17th 20th, and 21st Pursuit Squadrons. (A fifth pursuit squadron, the 34th, flew the older Seversky P-35 fighter.)

Included in these 18 surviving ships were at least two P-40Bs from the 20th Pursuit Squadron commanded by 1st Lt. Joseph Moore. The squadron had originally received 25 P-40Bs in mid-1941, with the other squadrons slated to receive two P-40Bs each to serve as familiarization aircraft before they received newer P-40Es. The following aircraft serial numbers for Curtiss P-40Bs (Model H81-B) are those received in the Philippines as of 17 May 1941:
41-5258 to 41-5282, 41-5284, 41-5285, and 41-5287 to 41-5290.

A pair of P-40Bs are built up as a P-35 rests nearby at the Philippine Air Depot at Nichols Field, 1941 (LIFE, Carly Mydans)

A pair of P-40B’s are built up as a P-35 (at left) rests nearby at the Philippine Air Depot at Nichols Field, 1941 (LIFE, Carly Mydans)

The P-40Bs were transported from ship to the Philippine Air Depot at Nichols Field where they were assembled, and then sat. They had arrived in the Philippines without the Prestone coolant their liquid –cooled engines required! It wasn’t until early July that coolant arrived and the aircraft were able to be used.

20th Pursuit Squadron P-40B's on the line at Clark Field, 1941 (LIFE, Carl Mydans)

20th Pursuit Squadron P-40B’s on the line at Clark Field, 1941 (LIFE, Carl Mydans)

These $50,000 aircraft were “hot ships” for inexperienced pilots and a number were lost in accidents. The following P-40B fighters were involved in mishaps before the war began; there may be additional pre-war accidents unrecorded (Source: Joe Baugher 1941 aircraft serial numbers):

5262 in mid-air near Minal near Pampanga, PI, 10/13/41
5268 in accident at Clark Field, PI Jul 19, 1941
5276 in midair collision with P-26 33-111 Jul 30, 1941, Clark Field, PI.
5282 in ground loop accident Oct 14, 1941, Philippines
5284 in accident in Philippines Oct 14, 1941.
5285 taxied into the rear of 41-5271 Jul 29, 1941 at Clark Field, Philippines

P-40B mishap at Nichols Field, 1941 (Courtesy  )

P-40B mishap at Nichols Field (or possibly the 29 July 1941 collision at Clark), 1941 (Courtesy Corregidor – Then and Now)

On Dec 8, 1941, day one of the war, the 20th PS had 23 P-40Bs operational at Clark Field, but only three made it into the air before the Japanese struck, including No. 41, flown by the squadron commander.

1 st Lt. Joe Moore over Clark Field in Keith Ferris painting "Too little, too late (Courtesy   )

1st Lt. Joe Moore over Clark Field on December 8, 1941, in the Keith Ferris painting “Too little, too late” (Courtesy Aviation Art Hangar)

But one of those three obtained the first aerial victory of the war for the United States in the Philippines when 2d Lt. Randall Keator shot down a Mitsubishi A6M2 of the Formosa-based Tainan Kokutai flown by PO 3d Class Yoshio Hirose, who had already strafed Iba Field and flew over to join the melee at Clark.

Mitsubishi A6M2 Zero of 3rd Kokutai, similar to the kind shot down by Randy Keator over Clark Field, Dec 8, 1941 (Courtesy   )

Mitsubishi A6M2 Zero of 3rd Kokutai, similar to the kind shot down by Randy Keator over Clark Field, Dec 8, 1941 (Courtesy Wings Palette)

After the attack only those three P-40B remained intact, with the rest on the ground destroyed or rendered non-operational by battle damage from the sudden Japanese air attack.

P-40B's of the 20 th Pursuit Squadron ply the Philippine skies in this 1941 photo (Courtesy  )

P-40B’s of the 20th Pursuit Squadron ply the Philippine skies in this 1941 photo (Courtesy Pinoy History)

Fast forward to January, 1942, when the Bataan campaign began, there was but a total of 18 operational P-40s left in the Philippines. On 4 January 1942, nine P-40’s were sent south to Mindanao (two were lost enroute, unfortunately), which left nine on Bataan to begin the campaign. It is unclear how many of these P-40s were B-models, but available information indicates at least two of those retained on Bataan were of this variant.

Like the more numerous P-40E’s, the P-40B’s served in a variety of roles on Bataan, including reconnaissance (on order from USAFFE HQ on Corregidor), counter-air and surface attack, and may have also been flown on other P-40 missions flown from Bataan such as aerial resupply (ammo, medical supplies to other forces on Luzon behind enemy lines), leaflet drops, and urgent dispatch courier to and from points south (e.g. San Jose, Mindoro, or Del Monte, Mindanao).

Circa 17 Jan 1942, Bataan Field had two P-40B and five P-40E on hand, with 11 pilots assigned to the flying detachment, which was formed with pilots from the various pursuit squadrons.
With some P-40E reinforcements from Mindanao, on 21 Jan 1942 there were two P-40B and seven P-40E in commission at Bataan Field, for a total of nine P-40’s. This resulted in a slight boost in the number of pilots assigned to fly them, and by 23 Jan 1942 14 pilots assigned to flying detachment at Bataan Field.

In early February, both P-40Bs were operational, but by 14 Feb 1942, after the losses of three P-40s in the week prior, there was one P-40B and three P-40E operational. One P-40B and one P-40E were nonoperational. It doesn’t appear that the non-operational P-40B ever returned to service from the sparse records of that time. It may have been “cannibalized” as a source of spare parts to keep the operational machine going, or kept on hand in the slim odds that some kind of spare parts could be found or relief from the States would arrive.

P-40B in Philippine skies, 1941 (Courtesy  )

A  Curtiss P-40B in Philippine skies, 1941 (Courtesy Pinoy History)

On 2 March 1942 the Bataan P-40 fighters made their last “large scale” effort of the campaign, with five of them, including the P-40B, successfully attacking enemy shipping at Subic Bay. One P-40E was shot down, but two P-40Es cracked up on landing with strong tail winds on short airfields at Mariveles (runway 3,800 feet long, 65 feet wide), as did the last operational P-40B upon return at Cabcaben Field (runway 3,900 feet long). The P-40B happened to be No. 41, the 20th Pursuit Squadron commander’s aircraft, the same ship Joe Moore flew over Clark Field on day one of the war – he was reportedly upset when he heard about the accident.

Scale model of P-40B No. 41 (Courtesy  )

1/48 scale model of Lt. Joe Moore’s 20th Pursuit Squadron P-40B No. 41, by Mr. Tony Feredo (Courtesy P-40 Warhawk)

But the Airmen of Bataan, having to make due and fight with what they had, set to trying to salvage what they could from the wrecks. Old No. 41 was chosen for repair. By the afternoon of March 5, with parts from the other P-40 wrecks, and a spare engine (new or overhauled) from the Air Depot, an operation by 21PS mechanics, directed by Lt. Leo Boelens, created a “hybrid“ P-40B/E. It was carried on the S-3 daily operations report as a P-40B, but this Cabcaben-based fighter was known by the men as the “P-40 Something.” This ship and the P-40E named “Kibosh” by Capt. Ed Dyess, 21st PS commander, were the last two operational P-40s on Bataan.

P-40E "Kibosh," modified to carry a single 500-lb bomb, was the mount of Capt. William Dyess (Courtesy   )

P-40E “Kibosh,” modified to carry a single 500-lb bomb, was the mount of Capt. William Dyess (Courtesy Corregidor – Then and Now)

The “P-40 Something” was in action as early as 14 Mar 1942, when it was flown on a recon of Nichols, Nielsen, Zablan and Del Carmen airfields. It flew a repeat mission the next day of the same enemy-occupied airfields.

Just before the final Japanese offensive on Bataan, on 2 April 1942, the P-40 Something flew a supply mission to Cebu and back. On 6 April, “Kibosh” flew a recon north to Clark and Nichols fields, whilst the “P-40 Something” flew south on recon for enemy ships, but returned early with engine problem.

Engine problems did not prevent the departure of the last two P-40s on 8 April, just before Bataan fell on 9 April, when P-40E “Kibosh” and “P-40 Something” flew out for Mindanao. “Kibosh” cracked up on landing at Maduriao Field, just outside Iloilo, Panay, when its landing gear would not go down, possibly from battle damage to the hydraulic system from a last attack on the approaching Japanese forces before the flight south. “P-40 Something,” piloted by (now) Capt. Joe Moore, made it safely to Cebu. From there another pilot brought it to Del Monte on 10 April. It was the last P-40B in the Philippines, and probably the only P-40 to survive participation in the Bataan Campaign.

Captain Joseph H. Moore, Commanding Officer of the 20th Pursuit Squadron during the Philippine Campaign, 1941-1942 (Courtesy  )

Captain Joseph H. Moore, Commanding Officer of the 20th Pursuit Squadron during the Philippine Campaign, 1941-1942 (Courtesy Aerospaceweb)

Unfortunately, “P-40 Something” did not last long at Del Monte, though long enough to witness the Royce Mission. On April 13, it set off with a P-40E on a recon and strafing mission against Davao, Mindanao. As the P-40s departed the field, Del Monte No. 3 (Dalirig), a narrow, 6,000 foot strip, the encountered a pair of pesky Japanese floatplanes. “P-40 Something” could not keep up with the P-40E, which engaged and shot down one of the floatplanes. In a tight turn, “P-40 Something” suddenly snapped to the outside of the turn, threw off the sliding canopy and nearly ejected the pilot, Gus Williams. The aircraft went into wild movements, with the throttle wide open, like a bucking bronco. Then the engine quit, and the pilot prepared for a deadstick landing back at Dalirig. Six feet from the ground, the engine suddenly roared to life, at full throttle, so the pilot aborted the landing and went around for another approach and made a safe landing. The aircraft clearly needed attention; Williams recommended it not be flown again until the problem was diagnosed. It appears that it was flown over to Del Monte No. 1 at some point shortly after this, perhaps for maintenance troubleshooting.

Mindanao, during the Philippine Campaign.  Note inset with the Del Monte airfields indicated. (Courtesy  )

Mindanao, during the Philippine Campaign. Note inset with the Del Monte airfields indicated. (Courtesy US Army, Center of Military History)

It rained heavily the next morning, 14 April. After a more senior pilot declined to fly in the miserable weather, Lt. Larry McDaniel, a 34PS pilot who just made it out from Bataan in the baggage compartment of a P-35, had not flown for months, who didn’t know Dalirig, was in poor physical condition (as most everyone else), and, who didn’t know “P-40 Something,” flew the ship from Del Monte No. 1 back to Dalirig. His flight took place in the afternoon, but the aircraft stalled and crashed on final approach in the rain, and Lt. McDaniel was fatally injured in the accident.

And so ended the service of the 31 Curtis P-40B fighters that arrived in the Philippines in May of 1941, and the two which served in the Bataan Campaign, none of them lasting even a year.

And such is war, which is terrible in its carnage and wastage, of human beings, and of machines. However, the sacrifice of the men and women at Bataan warns us of the danger of unpreparedness against aggression. May we long remember the hard and bitter lessons of a lack of such preparedness experienced in the skies, fields and seas of Bataan, so mistakes of the past won’t be repeated in the future.
References

Bartsch, William H., “Doomed at the Start: American Pursuit Pilots in the Philippines, 1941-1942,” Texas A&M University, College Station, 1992. Some reader reviews at: http://www.amazon.com/Doomed-Start-Philippines-Williams-Ford-University/product-reviews/0890966796/ref=dpx_acr_txt?showViewpoints=1

Edmonds, Walter D., “They Fought With What They Had: The Story of the Army Air Forces in the Southwest Pacific, 1941-1942,” Little, Brown and Company, Boston, 1951. http://www.afhso.af.mil/shared/media/document/AFD-101001-051.pdf

LIFE Magazine, various images

Gen. Joseph H. Moore, drawing at: http://www.aerospaceweb.org/question/history/q0155.shtml

Aviation Art Hangar, “Too Little Too Late by Keith Ferris,” at: http://www.aviationarthangar.com/avarthatooli.html

3rd Kokutai A6M2 profile, at:  http://wp.scn.ru/en/ww2/f/1039/65/11

Joe Baugher 1941 aircraft serial numbers http://www.joebaugher.com/usaf_serials/1941_1.html

Views of P-40s in Air Depot, ground accident at Nichols, at Clark, at: http://corregidor.proboards.com/thread/447/aircraft-philippines-1-december-1941

Pics of 20PS P-40B’s in flight, at:
http://pinoyhistory.proboards.com/thread/966/20th-pursuit-squadron-photos

P-40E “Kibosh” profile at:  http://corregidor.proboards.com/thread/691/captured-aircraft

P-40B scale model, 20th PS, No. 41, image, at:  http://www.p40warhawk.com/Models/Builds/TonyFeredo/P-40B/P-40B.htm

Mindanao Map, Morton, Louis, “The Fall of the Philippines,” Chapter 28, at:  http://www.history.army.mil/books/wwii/5-2/5-2_28.htm

The Filipina Angels of Hospital # 2

For a long time, the names of the Filipina nurses who served alongside their American counterparts in Bataan have unfortunately been obscure.  They have not received due recognition for their brave and patriotic work during the war.  But thanks to the wonders of the internet and information sharing between people in a given community of interest, some of these names are now becoming known.

 

Last April 18, in the Battle of Bataan group on Facebook, Mr. James Erickson shared some of the names with this remark:  “I’ve attached an image with the names of 14 Filipina nurses who served at Hosp #2. It’s an expanded image from Roger Mansell’s files NARA RG407 labeled Phil Archives. I don’t have the box #.”  Here is the image bearing the names of these nurses.

Names of the Filipina Nurses at Bataan’s Hospital #2, from the US National Archives (Courtesy Mr. John Erickson)

Names of the Filipina Nurses at Bataan’s Hospital #2, from the US National Archives (Courtesy Mr. John Erickson)

 

And now this list of names begets a question – what happened to these nurses after Bataan?   What became of them?  What are their stories?  Hopefully with the list of names now circulating and becoming known, someone can find out about this and recognize them in an appropriate manner.

Furthermore, what are the names of the other Filipina nurses, as there may have been at least 25 who served on Bataan, perhaps in Hospital #1?  See the earlier posting, “All the Angels of Bataan,” for more information, at:

https://bataancampaign.wordpress.com/2014/03/07/all-the-angels-of-bataan/