They loved fire-power

Saturday, April 27th, 2019

Dunlap talks a bit about the Filipinos:

The Filipinos of course must be described — they were definitely on our side, even though the inevitable few sold out to the Japs. The guerrilla movement was well organized on Leyte and Samar at the time of our landing and most of the guerrillas we worked with in Leyte were fighters. On Samar they practically liberated the island by themselves, though the 8th Cavalry was the strong force over there.

Some of them were very hard little characters indeed. The U. S. had equipped the recognized organizations with small arms before we landed, by submarine, and evidently brought in some clothing, as their standard uniform was a U. S. fatigue cap, a pair of shorts, weapons and, in some cases, fatigue jackets. They loved fire-power. I have seen a Visayan who would not weigh 120 pounds wringing wet (and he was) plodding through calf-deep mud carrying a BAR, a loaded 10-magazine belt, a half-dozen bandoleers of .30-06 rifle ammunition for reloading, and a Jap knapsack full of grenades and loose cartridges, grinning happily as he headed for the line to unload.

Some were useful soldiers and some were not. The good ones were very good, however, having been members of the Philippine prewar forces, or trained by some member for years, most of whom were veterans of the Jap invasion and knew what the war meant. Such men and units could fight either as guerrillas or combat troops — there is a great difference — while the other native forces were mainly effective only as irregulars and not particularly useful in a prolonged battle.

A lot of American soldiers in the Philippines saw only the second-rate Filipino forces, who were sort of home guard units, spending their time guarding bridges and street corners and lying about the Japs they had killed, and whose organizations were more officer-heavy than anything else. Had more officers than men.

Well, the boys who met us on those first days of invasion and moved along with the advance, either on Leyte or Luzon, were of a different stripe. They did not do much bragging about Jap-killing, but most of them had Japanese army equipment on hand.


The Filipinos who hated the Japs most and who worked and fought against them were as a rule the poor farmers out on the edge of the mountains and jungles who suffered less from the Japanese than the townspeople who were impoverished by the occupation. The ragged farmer who owned a couple of acres of rice land and a water-buffalo if he was well off, and only a bolo and a nipa shack if he was not, was the guy who defied the Imperial Nipponese Army.


Do not make any mistake — both the Japanese and the Nazis had some very good ideas in their plans for Asia and Europe, ideas with plenty of merit if honestly administered and carried out as on paper. Naturally, they were bait for winning over conquered populations. A lot of trouble is due the world from those plans, too. Witness Indonesia now. The Japs did not give the Dutch colonies anything themselves and treated the people worse than the Dutch ever had, but they promised plenty and the people are now wondering why they cannot promote the better way of life on their own hook.


When I was in Leyte at the Sugud Road Junction I lived in a fair-sized house, very well built, but slightly ventilated by machine gun fire and shrapnel. It was a frame building with a metal roof, about one story off the ground and of about five or six rooms. The wood used was almost entirely red mahogany. The owner was a civil engineer and his wife had been a school teacher, hence both spoke very good English. From these people we did get a good picture of the Japanese in Leyte. The man had been one of the higher-ranking intelligence workers for the guerrilla movement, and was very level-headed. His wife and child had once been held hostage by the Japs until he came in and gave himself up — then escaped to the mountains after they were safe. Despite this, he told me once that all Japanese should not be considered bad, but as a race they were always unsure of themselves and that in his opinion most of their direct cruelty stemmed from that fact. They never knew how to do anything diplomatically and were always worrying about how their actions were being received, as a prelude to running amuck to justify themselves in their own minds that the populace was against them and needed to be made afraid.


The people blandly ignored the law and as a rule sold nothing to conform to the price ceilings.


These country people were good enough in their way and very honest. I do not know of anything being stolen from any soldier while we were in Leyte. Small boys were of course all over the camps and one I remember in particular; a very small soul about two or three years old and about two feet high. I had been test firing and was cleaning some guns on the rack beside our test range when one of the section men called “Who’s your friend?” I looked around and down to this very serious-faced boy. He was dressed in the usual short shirt and an overseas cap someone had given him. He watched every move I made for half an hour, and would not say a word or laugh, just kept a deadpan expression with his hands clasped behind his back. Finally a welder offered more interest than I and he wandered over to see the sparks fly. He came around every day for a week or so and finally a few of the men temporarily adopted him and named him “Charley.” He learned a little English and had the run of the camp. We got his history from older people — both his father and mother had been killed by Japs as they retreated along the road past his home. The boy’s true name was Sergio, and he roamed the neighborhood, every woman knowing him and taking care of him for the day or two he would stay with her. No one attempted to keep him, but accepted him as a member of the community, free to come and go as he pleased. I asked a reasonably well-to-do farmer what would become of him and got a surprised look. He said the kid would just grow up, welcome in all the homes, and when he was through school he could take his father’s place and start farming it. The women would see that he was fed and had clothing enough. I guess Leyte does not know about orphan asylums, and I think that kid will be all right without one.


In the jungle a determined Filipino could be a very unpleasant foe, as the Japs found out (so did we, a long time ago!). This time they were for us, not against us.


  1. Adar says:

    Only two foreign nationals have won the American Medal of Honor. One Filipino and one Canadian.

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