Hard Way Back
On November 28, 1941, 1700 (5:00 PM), the gun
boats USS Oahu and USS Luzon, left Yangtze River
and headed to an unknown destination.
"We had received a weather report telling us bad
weather was to be expected on the trip.
"The first 2 days were fine, but soon we were to hit the Formosa Straits, which was known to be the roughest
stretch of ocean in the Pacific. While in this stretch
of ocean, we ran across a Japanese destroyer who
quickly surrounded us and wanted to know by radio what port we had come from and what port was our
destination? We observed that the Japanese ship had all
its guns aimed on us. Quickly we manned our guns and
thought a battle would start, but the Japanese
destroyer passed us and we breathed much easier. About
20 ships were in this Japanese force.
"One ship that impressed me was a vessel of some
20,000 tons which had extremely large davits, and in
the davits were suspended what I thought could have
been one-man suicide submarines. I had a 8mm movie
camera and took pictures of this Japanese destroyer.The Japanese ships all looked like they were ready for
action, and appeared to be heavily loaded."We continued our voyage with the prospects of bad
weather ahead.Word was passed to go over all gear and to secure same.
"With our thin steel-plated hull, the crew and officers
were wondering if we could get through the Formosa
"While in the Formosa Straits, we rolled 47 degrees and
lost most of the top side gear.
After several hours of wild pitching and rolling; the
forward hold, ship's officer and forward crews
compartment were flooded.
The word was passed to abandon the forward crew's
compartment and the officer's compartment. The
compartments had water-tight doors, and after the
occupants of the holds had left, the doors were quickly
dogged down and secured.
"As we rounded Formosa, we saw the "Ex-President
Hoover,", which was held in the jaws of rocks and
was slowly being lashed to pieces by the pounding
"The Japanese were trying to salvage the ship, but only
certain times of the year could they work due to
extreme weather conditions. As it was, they could only
get certain kinds of salvage craft near the ship.
"We received word by ship's radio, that the mine sweepers
"Pidgeon" and "Quail" would meet us 200 miles from
"The USS Luzon we were accompanying was taking a severe pounding, but it was believed it could make port.
"We rode the rough part of the trip out and pulled in to Manila harbor. We asked for a pilot to escort us in
the heavily mined seaway and dropped anchor opposite Ferry Landing Cavite.
"The trip took 5 days and 4 nights.The date was December 4, 1941, just 3 days 7 hours before America and Japan would be at war.
The morning of December 8, 1941, Manila news boys were
screaming "Pearl Harbor Bombed." Of course those of us who were ashore had no inkling what had happened,
and we could not believe the papers until we returned
to ship and were told, "We are now at War"
"All our guns were manned and we were standing
by for possible air raids.
After my return Monday morning December 8, 1941, from
liberty, I was never to have liberty in Manila again,
until the end of the war.
We would experience countless air raids. One day
Japanese dive bombers came in over Manila Harbor and
tried to sink old World War I destroyers consisting of the
USS Perry, USS John Paul Jones, USS Pittsburg and USS Pope.
After being bombed for several hours, the gallant ships escaped to sea and waited for night to fall to come
back to Manila Harbor. They were damaged bad and would
have to be repaired in the Navy yard.
"Every ship around Manila fired heavy antiair-craft
fire at the Japanese dive bombers, but to no avail.
They escaped in the clouds.
"That night, the destroyers limped back into port. The
ship would be quickly repaired and would try and make
Australia, as to stay in Manila would be fool hardy!!
"The Japanese were determined to destroy all U.S. War Ships possible.
"These old but fighting ships later played an
prominent part in the battle of Massacre Straits. They
distinguished themselves in battle and after taking a
toll of Japanese attacks, they were sunk.
"One of the larger airraids by the Japanese consisted
of 3 flights and 27 bombers forming a total of 81. The
USS Canopus was moored along side Pier 7, and
experienced many raids. The ship took a 500 lb. bomb
down her shaft alley, wrecking her engines and putting
her shaft in such a shape, that after repairs of bomb
damage, the ship could only be made to do 6 or 8 knots
at the most. Consequently, she would make easy prey
for the Japanese planes or submarines.
The grand old Canopus was selected to stay and
help any U.S. submarines damaged that would be put into
"The USS Sea Lion and another submarine were in
Cavite Navy yard being overhauled when a heavy force
of Japanese bombers raided the yard and damaged the
Sea Lion so badly that she had to be blownup!! The other submarine had hundreds of shrapnel holes in her hull, but the crewmen from the submarine tender
USS Canopus succeeded in repairing the damaged hull
under trying conditions and frequent airraids. The
repaired submarine was able to reach Australia.
"The men in the Cavite yard did a magnificent job under
trying conditions to get all craft out of the yard that would float and could be towed to other docks not
"Many Navy men were lost in one of the largest airraids on Cavite Navy yard Thousands of Filipinos lost their lives and many service personnel were killed.The Filipinos were totally unprepared in regard to the proper procedure for taking cover from the Japanese
bombers.The raids were so large and swift nature that the
Cavite Navy yard was almost blown out of existence!!
"The enemy flew from altitudes varying from 15,000 to
23,000 feet and did a thorough job. It was many days
before the huge fires started by bombs burned
"A few days after the raid, the Commissary store was
salvaged by various ship's crews from ships in the
harbor, which consisted of nothing bigger than gunboats and minesweepers. The rest of the ships had left for
parts unknown in the earlier part of December 1941.
"Right after Christmas, high officials decided to
abandon Manila and Cavite, as the Japanese were very
close to Manila and had sent messages to U.S. Army
headquarters demanding that the city be surrendered to
Japanese forces. Finally, after a consultation by the
high command, Manila was declared to be an open city.
Even then, the enemy still bombed Manila and killed
"All guns were ordered to be abandoned and civilians had been requested to offer no armed resistance when the Japanese forces entered the city.
"The U.S. Army had to abandon a large lot of 8-inch
rifles and over 1 million tons of powder and ammunition which were located in Sunset Beach. To destroy this
large amount of ammunition would have been an
impossibility as the explosions would have blown Manila right off the map. Also, to try to transport the huge
8-inch rifles, weighing hundreds of tons, would not
have been possible as there was no ship available to
take them to Corregidor.
"It was said that Corregidor had food and ammunition to
last for 20 years. It was also said that no enemy
ships would ever be able to get by the Fortress of
Corregidor, which later proved to be true. Not one ship got into Manila Harbor till Corregidor had
surrendered. By losing Manila, the United States
Forces Far East lost millions of dollars in supplies
and equipment that could not be replaced.
"The Manila harbor and the shores of Cavite and Bataan
were studded with wrecked and burning ships. United
States Forces Far East retreated to Bataan, Corregidor
and other small islands.
"General MacArthur's headquarters was changed to
Corregidor and there he directed plans for the
American and Filipino forces to fight against the
"Devil Dwarfs" (the Japanese).
"On January 2, 1942, the Japanese occupied Manila.
Many Filipinos were killed while the women were forced
to entertain the Japanese soldiers. The Filipinos were frequently put to death by being dragged to death
through the streets of Manila. The Japanese love their bayonet and like to use it. Many Filipinos felt the cold steel passing through their bodies.
The Japanese command decided to take over the
Y.M.C.A. Secretaries were driven out of the building
and were not allowed to take anything with them. All
contents of the building were either destroyed or
stolen by the Japanese. All records were lost, except
the records of safe-keeping deposits which the brave
Y.M.C.A. secretaries had the foresight to make lists of and at the risk of their lives hid from the Japanese
all during their internment at Santo Tomas and Los
Banos. This was a very noble thing to do as it enabled
many servicemen to claim their deposits after the war
though probably most of the depositors would have lost
their claim tickets.
"Many retired servicemen in the Philippines lost their
homes, cars, businesses and their families through
Japanese bombing raids.
"The Japanese rounded up all American nationals and
they were put in various camps. Some were treated
fairly; others were subject to brutalities. Winning
Manila, the enemy decided to stage gala celebrations
and parades in honor of their great victory. All
Filipinos were forced to attend under pain of death.
Plenty of pro-Japanese were available, and they
cooperated to the fullest extent. Later, many
collaborators were found with their throats slashed in
"All the banks were seized and later re-opened under
Japanese bankers who extolled the Filipino people to
place their savings in the new banks. Also all
theaters were required to keep open day and night and
the best seats were reserved for the Japanese
military. The famous million-dollar ai lai stadium
was taken over and remodeled for entertainment purposes to suit the enemy.
"Shops were entered upon and the proprietors handed over goods for the worthless occupation money. To refuse meant severe punishment or possible death. Most of the Filipinos hid their
savings, but a few put their funds in the Japanese
banks. After a while, an order was issued by the
Japanese military requiring all Filipinos to change
their currency for Japanese military yen at the local
"The Japanese soldiers gorged themselves on food and
drink and all Filipino girls were forced to entertain
any wishes of the drunken and brutal solders, who were
more than beasts.
"Nearly all the railroad engineers, streetcar operators
and other public utilities employees had fled into the
mountains and transportation was practically nil. The
Japanese military had a plan to bring them back and
that plan would be put into effect later.
"All lights in Manila burned brightly every night, as the
enemy was confident that they had destroyed all
American aircrafts and did not anticipate an air raid.
"Through Filipinos who were pro-Japanese, they had
ascertained that the U.S. forces had only five or six
P-40s left and would only be able to carry a small
bomb load and that surely Japanese fire would destroy
them if they ever tried to bomb Japanese-held Manila. [Next]
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