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Bataan battlefield revisited (Read 16037 times)
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Bataan battlefield revisited
Dec 30th, 2007, 11:54am
 
I recently visited the Mabatang battle site and took pictures. These are some of the research materials I used to find the battlefield where the 57th Infantry Philippine Scouts were attacked by the Japanese for the "First Battle of Bataan."

     

Here is a page from the book the "Philippine Scouts" printed by the Philippine Scout Heritage Society.




This is the road heading east toward Mabatang. This is the road that ran parallel and behind the main line of resistance.


This is the view from the road looking north - panning from northweset to northeast. This is roughly the position of the 3rd battalion, 57th Infantry PS. The sugarcane field no long exists. The area is cultivated for rice, and there is  a small housing development in what would have been the middle of the 3rd battalion positions.

       


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Re: Bataan battlefield revisited
Reply #1 - Dec 30th, 2007, 11:55am
 
This is from the middle of the field looking west toward Mt. Natib. The Japanese eventually broke through the lines around the slopes of Mt. Natib in the 51st Division area where the terrain was more rugged and porous.
 

This is from the middle of the field looking east beyond the housing development toward Mabatang town.


A pair of carabaos stand guard in the middle of the field. The carabao's head is the symbol on the patch of the Philippine Division.


Looking further north. Beyond the trees is the Calaguiman river.


This is Donnie Calara, the young man who the tills these fields. He didn't know the history of his land but told me that every once in a while they dig up spent cartridge casings and artillery round casings. I hope he doesn't dig up a dud round.
 

A carabao wallow. It explains what I thought were artillery shell craters looking  at the satellite images.


Me, holding the maps and satellite images I used to locate the battlefield.


Walking back to the road. The fields are peaceful now and kids play on the hardened earth prior to rice planting.


This is looking south of the road. Somewhere here, Lt. Nininger earned his Medal of Honor hunting snipers, infiltrators and stragglers.
   

Moving on... the road dead-ends on to the Bataan east road. Turned south to go to Abucay.
 

The Abucay church which was used as an aid station and casualty clearing station during the battle.
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Re: Bataan battlefield revisited
Reply #2 - Dec 30th, 2007, 11:57am
 
A little background info on what happened here:

------------
From the Book "Fall of the Philippines" by Louis Morton

The 57th Infantry, under the command of Col. George S. Clarke, was the first unit on the II Corps line to come under heavy infantry attack. Along the main line of resistance were the 1st Battalion on the right and the 3d Battalion on the left. The 2d Battalion was in reserve. On 11 January a reinforced company of the reserve battalion, which had established an outpost line south of the Calaguiman, came under attack by the advance elements of Colonel Imai's eastern column, the 2d Battalion, 141st Infantry. Soon the Japanese began to cross the Calaguiman, about one mile north of the main line of resistance. By 2300 the Japanese battalion had reached a cane field on the left front of the 57th's 3d Battalion, directly before Company I. This cane field, about 150 yards in front of the main line of resistance, had not been cleared on the assumption that artillery would effectively prevent its use by the enemy as a route of approach.

That night the Japanese in the cane field moved out against the main line of resistance. First came an artillery and mortar barrage, which was answered by concentrated fire from the 75-mm. guns of the 24th Field Artillery (PS). Hardly had the 24th opened fire than the Japanese infantry jumped off in a banzai attack across the moonlit patch of ground in front of Company I. Wave after wave of screaming Japanese troops hurled themselves forward in the face of intense fire. Men in the leading wave threw themselves on the barbed wire entanglements, forming human bridges over which succeeding waves could pass.

Despite the appalling effects of the pointblank fire from the 75's, the Japanese continued their ferocious attack until Company I, its commander seriously wounded and its executive officer killed, finally gave ground. Company K on the right immediately refused its flank and the battalion commander threw his reserve, Company L, into the fight. When this force failed to halt the Japanese, Colonel Clarke committed a company of the reserve battalion and the Japanese attack stalled. At the approach of dawn, the Scouts began a counterattack which took them almost to the original line. When the action was broken off on the morning of the 12th, there were an estimated 200 to 300 dead Japanese on the field of battle.

During the night a number of Japanese had infiltrated into the 3d Battalion area, on the left of the regimental line. The 57th Infantry spent most of the next day routing out the infiltrators, man by man, in hand-to-hand combat. After a number of Scouts had been killed, a more efficient scheme for the elimination of the infiltrated Japanese was devised. Sniper parties consisting of riflemen assisted by demolition engineers were formed and these began to comb the 3d Battalion area systematically. By the end of the day most of the Japanese had been found and killed. It was as a result of his action as the leader of one of these sniper parties that 2d Lt. Alexander R. Nininger, Jr., was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

His was the first of World War II, although Calugas received his award for heroism in the earlier fight at Layac Junction.



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Re: Bataan battlefield revisited
Reply #3 - Dec 30th, 2007, 11:57am
 
On the 12th, as the Japanese moved into position for the attack, all units on the II Corps line found themselves under increasingly heavy pressure. On the right, in front of the 57th Infantry, the Japanese succeeded in establishing themselves again on the south bank of the Calaguiman; in the center they pushed back the outpost line before the 43d Infantry.15 It was on the left of the corps line that the Japanese made their most important gains on 12 January, when they tore a gap in the 51st Infantry sector. A counterattack by a reserve battalion regained some of the lost ground but at a heavy cost. By nightfall it was evident that the Japanese, thwarted in their advance on the east, were shifting their effort westward.

The threat to the eastern anchor of the line was still too serious to be ignored. Though the 57th Infantry had beaten back all attempts by the 2d Battalion, 141st Infantry, to pierce the main line of resistance, it was still hard pressed on the left and was beginning to feel pressure on its right. Late on the evening of the 12th, therefore, General Parker released the two-battalion 21st Infantry (PA) from corps reserve and gave it to Colonel Clarke. With these fresh troops Clarke made plans for an attack the next morning with the 21st Infantry's 2d Battalion and the same numbered battalion of the 57th. That night the 2d Battalion, 21st Infantry, took over the left of the line and the 3d Battalion went into reserve to free the 2d Battalion, 57th Infantry, for the counterattack.

At 0600, 13 January, on the heels of a rolling artillery barrage, the 2d Battalion, 21st Infantry, jumped off in the counterattack. Its task was made more difficult by the fact that the Japanese had pushed a deep salient into the left of the 57th line during the night. The Filipinos advanced quickly and aggressively, pushing the Japanese back across the bloodied ground. It soon became evident to Capt. Philip A. Meier, the battalion's American instructor, that the gap was too large to be filled by his men alone and he moved east to tie in with the 1st Battalion, 57th Infantry, on his right, thus creating a hole between his men and the 41st Infantry on his left. Colonel Clarke, the 57th commander, thereupon ordered the 3d Battalion of the 21st Infantry from reserve to plug the gap. As the battalion began to move up at about 1300 it came under Japanese artillery fire and was pinned down. When the artillery fire ceased three hours later, the 2d Battalion, 57th Infantry, counterattacked and advanced to within 150 yards of the original line. By late afternoon the gap had been closed and the Japanese were left in possession of only a small salient on the left of the 57th Infantry line, a meager return indeed for four days of hard fighting.

The counterattack by the 21st Infantry on the morning of the 13th had forestalled the Japanese offensive in that sector, leading General Nara to complain that "the battle did not develop according to plan."
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Re: Bataan battlefield revisited
Reply #4 - Dec 30th, 2007, 12:03pm
 
Here are more pictures from my trip to Bataan. These ones are from Mt. Samat. Before anything else, I feel this inscribed message at the shrine's marble wall is what this trip is all about and why I'm posting these photos for everyone to see:



On the way to Mt. Samat.
     

 

The shrine at the museum level.
   

A couple of the mural sculptures. There were more but I didn't photograph all of them.
 
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Re: Bataan battlefield revisited
Reply #5 - Dec 30th, 2007, 12:04pm
 
A couple of plaques dedicated to the various defenders. These two are for the nurses and the 31st Infantry.
   

The unit dispositions of the defenders around the mountain. I think it's a little too rounded around the mountain. The line was straighter all the way to Pilar.
   

Here's the 155mm GPF that I see in all the other pictures of the shrine by other people. The piece turned out to be facing southeast, away from the battle. It would have been a nice
touch if it had actually faced the defense line. But where it is situated is the best place for it to be at the shrine.
     


Here is one during its heydays.

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Re: Bataan battlefield revisited
Reply #6 - Dec 30th, 2007, 12:05pm
 
The cross.


Base of the cross.


View looking due north. Across is Mt. Natib. This area was the responsibility of the PA 21st Division.


View looking northeast. I think the town of Pilar is on the upper left and Orion the upper right. Somewhere down here is Trail 2 where the sputtering Japanese offensive was stopped by the Philippine army's 41st and 21st divisions.


View looking northwest. This was the 41st division's defensive area.


The kind of jungle terrain some of the fighting took place in.


Looking west toward the I Corp area and the west coast where the Battle of the Points took place.


View of the museum area from the horizontal bar of the cross.


Looking south and southeast. This is where considerable fighting  was done by the Philippine Scouts and the American 31st Infantry trying to stem the Japanese tide afer Mt. Samat fell to the Japanese.
 
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Re: Bataan battlefield revisited
Reply #7 - Dec 30th, 2007, 12:06pm
 
The horizontal bar of the cross has a round window on each end. My mom took a picture of me on one of them. I was contemplating what took place 65 years ago.
 

Leaving Mt. Samat...the sun shining on this now peaceful land. One of the many Death March markers every few miles on the road.
 

Thank you to all the veterans. Our mission now is to remember.
 
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