Dec 1941 - OoCities

Journal of
Ramon A. Alcaraz
December 1, 1941
Today, as diplomatic talks in Washington between Japan and
USA are going on, British Far East Commander Admiral Sir
Tom Phillips RN arrived in Manila to confer with US High
Commissioner Francis B Sayre, USAFFE Commander Gen.
Douglas MacArthur and US Asiatic Fleet Commander Adm
Thomas C Hart USN, regarding the Defense Plans for the Far
East which includes the Philippines.
All naval surface ships in Manila Bay ports remain under the
alert warning of last Nov 27 -- anchor before sunset at assigned
berths with no three ships in line.
Gen Douglas MacArthur
December 8, 1941
I will not forget this day as long as I live. Although my Q-Boat
was on "war footing" condition since last Nov. 27, the
seriousness of its implications did not hit me till early today
when I first heard the radio announcement of the Japanese
surprise attack against the US naval and military facilities at
Pearl Harbor. From my calculations, the attack started about
0800 Dec 7 Hawaii time which was about 0300 Dec 8, Manila
time. I can not believe Japan will do this as I have great faith in
the US military strength.
Before noon, a large number of high flying Japanese planes
bombed Camp John Hay, Clark Field and Iba air facilities. Late
in the afternoon, I heard a radio news that a state of war with
Japan was announced by US President Roosevelt.
From 1800 to 2200H, Q-112 patrolled Paranaque - Navotas
coastline 2 miles offshore.
December 10, 1941
I heard over the radio the stirring "Day of Infamy" speech of
Pres Roosevelt before the US Congress that ultimately declared
war against Japan, Germany and Italy. It was a forceful speech
that unified America with that sneak attack on Pearl Harbor. The
isolationist disappeared. Filipinos have high morale. Pres
Quezon pledge support and loyalty to the cause of freedom and
democracy. We have great confidence in our military leadership
led by Gen. MacArthur.
December 10, 1941 - continued
News report today tells the havoc in Pearl Harbor - four
battleships sunk, three badly damaged -- backbone of the
Pacific Fleet disabled. Other ships were sunk or damaged and
other naval facilities bombed. Military facilities, planes and
equipment of the USA Hawaiian Department were devastated.
More than two thousand lives were lost. Battleship Arizona
capsized virtually taking all hands with her. I wonder how this
happened when we were placed on war footing Nov 27.
Admiral Husband E Kimmel USNA '04 is CinC US Fleet while
Maj Gen Walter C Short (U Illinois '02 not a West Pointer) is
Comdr USA Hawaiian Department, at Pearl Harbor.
December 10, 1941 - continued
The results of the bombings two days ago of Clark and Iba Air
Fields were also devastating that virtually destroyed all our
planes there. The remaining planes of Far East Air Command
are transferring to Mindanao. The big ships led by USS
Houston, Marblehead and Boise of the Asiatic Fleet under
Admiral Hart steamed south to avoid enemy air power. What
remained among the surface fighting ships are the nine torpedo
boats (3 Q-Boats and 6 PT-Boats).
December 10, 1941 - continued
Today, the first enemy landings are reported in Northern Luzon
at Cagayan and Ilocos Sur. Before noon, enemy planes
bombed Nichols, Nielsen and Zambales Airfields, Camp
Murphy, Port Area and Cavite Navy Yard. Luckily, our OSP
facilities were missed but I personally witnessed the bombings
at Cavite Navy Yard from Q-112 in Manila Bay. Twenty seven
Japanese bombers flying at high altitudes beyond the range of
our AA guns dropped their bombs with great accuracy at Cavite.
I felt so helpless watching as there were no USAFFE planes to
challenge them. This is a bad day for us. The enemy have air
superiority. I hope the Northern Luzon Forces under Gen
Wainwright can handle the enemy landings reported.
December 12, 1941 - continued
Japanese landings in Legaspi and Davao reported. Ft Wint
and Olongapo also bombed. I am saddened when my boss and
idol Maj Andrada USNA '30 turned over his OSP command on
orders of Gen MacArthur two days ago to his ExO Captain
Enrique L Jurado USNA '34. I thought Andrada's relief is
unfortunate. He placed the Q-Boats on war footing last Nov 27
on his initiative. His new assignment is as Ft Wint Comdr.
The Q-Boat Squadron is assigned to patrol inside Manila Bay
waters while PT RON 3, the China Sea Approaches to
Corregidor and assist the Harbor Defense Command of Gen
Moore. The approaches to Manila Bay west of Corregidor are
mined. A narrow channel serves as entrance and exit to Manila
Bay an one of the PT jobs is to guide those vessels not familiar
with that channel.
Col. Jose V Andrada
USNA 1930
Chief OSP 1939-41 & 1945-47,
Pioneered OSP
Capt Enrique Jurado
USNA 1934
Chief, Offshore Patrol
December 12, 1941 - continued
During the Japanese landings in Northern Luzon, Capt Collin
Kelly of the FEAF is credited with bombing and sinking an
enemy battleship. He was killed after his plane was shot down.
Pres Roosevelt promised that Capt Kelly's one year old son will
be eligible to enter West Point when he comes of age, his Dad's
alma mater.
December 15, 1941
Our Manila Bay Q-Boat Patrols continue, nothing unusual to
report - no hits, no runs, no errors, so to speak. Our general
situation is "lumalaon bumubuti, sumasama sa dati" as we say
in Bulacan. The Japanese forces gained a foothold in Aparri,
Vigan and are expanding them. For as I see it, the enemy now
have superiority in the air and at sea. Enemy systematic
bombings since Dec 8 have decimated our planes. Jap planes
are virtually unchallenged. The big ships of the Asatic Fleet are
gone, only nine torpedo boats remain to support the USAFFE.
However, morale of the people specially the military remain high
due to Pres Quezon and Gen MacArthur as our leaders. We
have faith in them. And in America.
December 15, 1941 - continued
Several Air Force personnel made up for our many setacks.
Aside from Capt Kelley's bombing a Jap battleship during the
Northern Luzon landings that made him our first war hero, our
PAAC pilots have their share of accomplishments to be proud
of. Captain Jesus Villamor PAAC Comdr, 6th Pursuit
Squadron, is credited with shooting down two enemy planes
todate and was cited by Gen MacArthur. Lt Alberto Aranzaso
PAAC, also a member of the 6th Pursuit Squadron of Villamor,
is also credited with shooting down a Jap plane and was
awarded the Silver Star.
Capt Jesus Villamor
PAAC Commander, 6th Pursuit Squadron
P-26 Pilot
Awarding of Silver Star to
Capt Jesus Villamor and Lt Alberto Aranzazo
by General MacArthur
December 15, 1941 - continued
Unfortunately, during the enemy strafings of Nichols Field, Lt
Cesar Basa who had just landed his plane and was running for
cover was fatally hit in the head. Lt Victor Osias who was
nearby came to the rescue to no avail. Lt Basa died in the
arms of Osias. I know Lt Basa personally during our Os
basketball league rivalry. He was the star of the PAAC Team
while I played for the OSP Team. Another Atenista, Jose Syjuco
played for the ROTC Team. Lt Cesar Basa was an Ateneo
basketball star before he became a pilot. He died a star, a hero.
Lt Cesar Basa
6th Pursuit Squadron
PAAC P-26 Pilot
December 17, 1941
The disaster in Pearl Harbor resulted in the silent quick relief of
its top commanders. Today without ceremony in his office, Gen
Walter C Short, USA Hawaiian Departmental Commander read
his orders relinquishing command to Maj Gen Delos C
Emmons, USAAC. Likewise, Adm Husband E Kimmel USN
CinCPAC relinquished his command quietly to VAdm William
Pye USN, as temporary Commander .
In the Philippines, our military commanders knew immediately
when Pearl Harbor was bombed and yet some ten hours later
when a hundred Japanese bombers escorted by Zero fighters
came over Clark Field, all of FEAC B-17 bombers except two,
and 90% of its P-40s were destroyed. It was a tragedy! The
only saving grace is PAAC's 6th Pursuit Squadron of P-26
under Capt Jesus Villamor whose exploits are becoming
legendary. The remaining two B-17 were moved to Mindanao.
December 17, 1941 - continued
By night time, the tragedy was compounded by the sinking of
SS Corregidor in our own defensive minefields guarding the
entrance to Manila Bay west of Corregidor Fortress. SS
Corregidor is one of the best among our inter-island commercial
vessels with civilian and military personnel aboard bound for
Visayas and Mindanao.
Loaded also are Artillery pieces, equipment and supplies of the
101st FA, and other Vis-Min Units. From initial scant report I got
from my Mistah Alano, ExO of Q-111 that participated in the
rescue, he said the ship hit a mine and sunk so fast virtually all
passengers went down with the ship including her Captain.
There were very few survivors. The mined area is under the
responsibility of the Harbor Defense and PT RON 3. I should
know more details about this tragedy after I talk with some of
my comrades on duty then at PT RON 3.
The fate of SS Corregidor
This 17 Dec 1941 entry has special although sad, significance to me
personally. My late father, First LT Carlos G Agustin XC6 221 263 CE
aboard the SS Corregidor. We moved to Davao in 1940 when he was
appointed Asst City Engineer, but shortly he was CAD in the Corps of
Engineers, PA. He became CO of the Second Davao Cadre training
recruits for the war, and was in Manila when the attack on Pearl Harbor
occurred on 7 Dec 1941. There were no airlines operating on domestic
routes so the only way back was via surface. After induction, he got
booked on the Corregidor, sailing out of Manila harbor on 17 Dec 1941.
When Davao was invaded, we moved out to the hills, toward Mt Apo,
where we stayed for a few months until my mother thought it was safe
to return to the city. Our newly-built house was occupied by the
Japanese, so we rented a small house near the court and jail, and my
mother sold stuff in the market to support four children and a teen aged
brother-in-law, who helped her out. We managed also to move back to
Manila in 1943 via inter-island vessel (flying the rising sun). We never
knew what happened until after the war, when his death was duly
Commodore Carlos Agustin
December 19, 1941
Today is a historical day for the OSP. The whole OSP
command was inducted into the USAFFE this morning and two
hours after the ceremonies at Muelle del Codo, the Japanese
bombed Port Area. OSP Hq was spared but Engineer Island
where eight hulls of new Q-Boats are about to be completed
was a direct hit and our hopes for those additional boats are
gone with the wind. I feel sorry for my former boss, Maj Jose V
Andrada (USNA ’31), who fought vigorously for locally made QBoats since last March after the successful test of locally made
Q-113. I suspect his relief as C,OSP had to do with his issue
against Gen MacArthur.
December 19, 1941 - continued
Today is also a historical day for my alma mater PMA. Through
its officers and cadets, it was reborn from an academic
institution and activated as an instrument of war renamed, First
Regular Division, with Col. Fidel Segundo (USMA 1917), the
Superintendent, as Div Comdr at UST Campus.
The Div was inducted into the USAFFE also today. Lt Col
Santiago Guevara, Comdt of Cadets, became the Div C/S; Asst
Comdt Capt Alfredo Santos became Comdr, 1st Regmt; former
PMA Instructors took most of the senior staff jobs. Among my
classmates in this Div are Lt Job Mayo as S-1; Lt Alfredo Filart
as S-2; Lt David Pelayo, & Lt Jose Javier, Co Comdrs.
Brig. Gen. Fidel V Segundo
USMA 1917
Commanding General, 1st Division
December 19, 1941 - continued
It can be recalled that after Baguio was bombed on Dec. 8, PMA
went down and settled later at UST Campus in Manila.
Five days ago, Classes '42 & '43 were graduated and '44 & '45
were disbanded and sent home disappointed because they
wanted to fight for their country.
One of the plebes, Eleuterio Adevoso tearfully expressed to me
his disappointment. Japanese forces are poised to attack and
land in Hongkong which is defended by the British Forces.
December 22, 1941
I had lunch at USAFFE Hq today with my friend, Sid Huff, and
was surprised about his conversion from Lt (SG) USN to Major
US Army now Aide to Gen MacArthur. The latest info he gave
me is about an armada of Japanese invasion ships heading for
Lingayen Gulf. Another enemy group is heading towards
eastern Luzon. Apparently, the earlier reported enemy landings
in Aparri, Vigan, Legaspi and Davao were diversionary recon in
I also talked with Ens George Cox, CO PT 41 on duty when SS
Corregidor sunk five days ago. He said PT 41 was leading the ill
fated ship at the channel but suddenly, all at once, the SS
Corregidor veered course towards the minefields and his efforts
to stop her were to no avail. There was a loud explosion after
hitting a mine, the ship sank so fast virtually all aboard went with
her including the ship captain. There were very few survivors.
December 22, 1941 - continued
The newly activated 1st Regular Div reported to South Luzon
Force under Gen. Parker two days ago. Also, effective Dec. 20,
all Div Commanders who are not generals were promoted to
Brig Generals which included Fidel Segundo, Mateo
Capinpin, Guy O Fort and Luther Stevens -- all PA Officers.
Camp Murphy is crowded with hundreds of civilian volunteers drivers, students, laborers, etc - for the USAFFE. I am told the
same is happening in all mobilization centers, a commendable
manifestation of willingness to fight against the invaders. Seeing
many so eager and enthusiastic makes me proud of our people.
Late in the afternoon, the 1st Q-Boat Squadron got an "Alert
Order" for a possible mission whose details are being spelled
out. With our training and preparations, I personally feel we are
ready to perform whatever it will be.
Brig. Gen. Mateo M Capinpin, Inf.
Commanding General, 31st Div USAFFE
Philippine Scouts 1917; rose from the ranks
Pioneered the Philippine Infantry
Col. Guy O Fort USA
Commanding General, 81st Division
Attended Command & Gen Staff School (CGSS)
Col. Luther R Stevens USA
Commanding General, 91st Division
Attended Command & Gen Staff School (CGSS)
December 24, 1941
News and what happened today are devastating. I learned that the
simulteneous Japanese landings two days ago in Lingayen Gulf
and Lamon Bay were not difficult considering the enemy have
superiority in the ar and at sea. They are expanding their beach gains
and my thoughts are with my classmates Lt Ed Navarro wth the 71st
Div in Lingayen Gulf area and Lts Job Mayo, Fred Filart, David Pelayo
and Joe Javier with the 1st Reg Div in Lamon Bay area.
The Alert Order given for the Q-Boats two days ago was rescinded and
the new order is to escort the SS Mayon to evacuate ranking officials of
the Phil govt led by Pres Quezon and US High Commisioner Francis B
Sayre from Manila to Corregidor as the new seat of govt. Gen
MacArthur declared Manila an Open City and USAFFE Hq is also
transferring. SS Mayon docked at Corregidor north wharf safely at
2000 H today under the protective eyes of the three Q-Boats. The US
Navy 16th Naval District Hq had moved to Corregidor three days ago.
December 24, 1941 - continued
USAFFE Hq also ordered that War Plans Orange 3 (WPO-3) be
enforced. This old plan was opposed by MacArthur and I am
surprised the order came out. It is a defense plan of the
Philippines in case of invasion, the country generally believed to
be indefensible. The plan calls for the withdrawal of troops to
Bataan, defend Luzon by delaying tactics for six months with
support from the Asiatic Fleet and USAAC until needed relief
from USA reaches the Philippines.
At present, we have no Asiatic Fleet nor USAAC. Only nine
Torpedo Boats are available. What now?
December 27, 1941
C,OSP conscripted a 40 ft boat, armed her with two 30 Cal MGs
christened "Danday", Mrs Jurado's namesake, for use by the OSP
Lamao Beach Defenders of Bataan. Today my ExO, Lt Abraham ‘Abe’
Campo (USNA ’40) was reld to be CO, "Danday" and to replace Lt
Campo, I selected Lt Manuel Gomez '41, my former classmate at MIT
before we entered PMA. The bulk of OSP shore personnel transferred
to Lamao, Bataan after Manila was declared Open City three days ago
and so the beach defense of Lamao eastern Bataan becomes an OSP
The 1st Q-Boat Squadron found a suitable place called Sisiman Cove
east of Mariveles Bay that conceals our boats from the air. One mile
up Sisiman River is our Support Gp - Engineering under Lt Jose
Zulueta; Torpedoes, Depth Charges, Ordnance under Chief William
Mooney, USNR; Adm, under Lt Carlos J Albert (USNA ’39). Since
Christmas, our mission is primarily ferrying VIPs from Manila to
Corregidor, the seat of government.
December 27, 1941 - continued
Today, all PAAC planes are gone. The planeless PAAC is organized as
PAAC Provincial Regiment that is proceeding to Bataan. My province
mates Capts Pelagio Cruz and Eustacio Onrobia as well as my
classmate Lt Vic Osias are among with this Regiment. Also, the 700
PAAC Cadets were organized as an Infantry Battalion under Maj Jose
Francisco (USNA ’31) and proceeding to Corregidor. My classmates
Lts Bartolome Cabangbang and Alberto Aranzaso are among in this
The Jap invasion forces from Lingayen Gulf and Lamon Bay are
slowly advancing towards Manila. They have to fight every inch of
ground despite their air superiority. And if you think our situation is
bad, Hongkong is worst. It was a sad christmas for the British in
Hongkong. The British garrison retreated to Kowloon but after intense
bombings for three days Gov Sir Mark Young of Hongkong gave up
easily and surrendered to Japanese Gen Sakai on Christmas Day.
Brig. Gen. Fidel V Segundo
USMA 1917
December 30, 1941
I was privileged today, Rizal Day, to witness the oath-taking
ceremony, for their 2nd term of Pres Quezon and VP Osmena
before Chief Justice Jose Abad Santos outside the Corregidor
Tunnel entrance. It was a solemn but brave ceremony for only
yesterday, Corregidor was bombed by 54 enemy planes for an
hour before noon and some of the craters are visible from where
we sat. Quezon's Yatch "Casiana" anchored off North Wharf was
a direct hit and sunk but the Philippine flag still flies from her mast
above water. I was caught halfway on my way to the Tunnel,
jumped to a ditch, endured an hour of bombings with those scary
hissing sounds. I was badly shaken by the experience with many
killed or wounded in the area where I was.
Quezon made a stirring speech exhorting our people to fight the
December 30, 1941 - continued
Aside from the Quezon family, the MacArthurs and the Sayres,
among those I saw in the ceremony were: Lt Col Andres
Soriano, Majors Carlos Romulo & Sid Huff; Capts Jess Villamor,
S P Lopez & J B Magluyan; Lts F Isidoro, L M Guerrero, N
Reyes, B Cabangbang, & A Aranzaso.
After the ceremony, I ordered my crew to retrive the Phil flag still
flying on the mast of the sunken "Casiana" because Pres
Quezon expressed a desire to have it. While near the
"Casiana" I noticed her auxiliary boat "Baler" under water. I
decided to salvage the boat, towed it to Lamao and suggested
to Capt Magluyan who was with me to have it fixed to augment
the "Danday." Magluyan is one of the Lamao Beach Defenders
in Bataan under Capt Jurado, C,OSP.
Late in the afternoon, I got a copy of directive saying "effective
Jan. 1,1942,the Q-Boats will be under operational control of G3, USAFFE HQ, Ft Mills."
Pres Manuel Quezon and Gen Douglas MacArthur