Chapter VI
Expanding the Hold

Map II
Seizing the Routes 3-11 Junction
43d Infantry Division
12-31 January 1945

I Corps Meets the Enemy

By evening of 11 January, I Corps' center and right flank units were well into the 23d Division's weakly held arc of forward defenses.1 Simultaneously, the corps' left was preparing to drive north toward the Damortis-Rosario road, in the 58th IMB's sector.

The Attack on the Left

The Damortis-Rosario road, a two-lane, concrete-paved section of Route 3, led east from the junction of Route 3 and the coast road at Damortis, about eight miles north of San Fabian, to the junction of Routes 3 and 11, eight miles inland and a mile east of Rosario. (Map II) Seizure of the Damortis-Rosario stretch of Route 3 would present I Corps with an easy means of access to Route 11, in turn providing a two-lane asphalt-paved axis of advance toward Baguio along the deep valley of the Bued River. Equally important, if the I Corps could quickly gain control over the Damortis-Rosario road and the Routes 3-11 junction, the corps could largely overcome the threat of counterattack against the Sixth Army's beachhead from the north and northeast. With the security of its left rear thus assured, the XIV Corps could speed its drive toward the Sixth Army's principal objective area, the Central Plains-Manila Bay region.

The Damortis-Rosario road ran sometimes across wooded ravines and sometimes over ridge tops for three-quarters of the way to Rosario, and then continued across open farm land and through Rosario to a junction with Route 11. The road was dominated by broken ridges and steep-sided hills to both the north and the south for the first five miles inland. South of the road the hills and ridges were grass-covered; to the north many of the draws and ravines contained thick scrub growth. Bare, steep heights north, northeast, and east of Rosario controlled the Routes 3-11 junction. The 58th IMB, defending the Damortis-Rosario road, had all the advantages of observation, while the relatively soft rock and dirt mixture of the hills and ridges gave the brigade ample opportunity to indulge in what was soon to appear to the I Corps as the Japanese Army's favorite occupation--digging caves and tunnels.

Numbering about 6,900 men, the 58th IMB was composed of five independent infantry battalions of some 900 men each, a battalion of fifteen 75-mm. mountain


guns, and brigade service troops.2 Attachments included three heavy artillery units totaling nearly 2,150 men with twelve artillery pieces ranging in caliber from 150-mm. to 300-mm. By coincidence, one of the first I Corps units to gain firm contact with the 58th IMB was a correspondingly separate nondivisional organization, the 158th RCT. This unit, with about 4,500 men, was organized into three infantry battalions, a 12-weapon battalion of 105-mm. howitzers, and regimental troops. The RCT would have additional fire support from CVE-based planes and from the battleships, cruisers, and destroyers of the Luzon Attack Force.

On 12 January the 158th RCT, which had replaced elements of the 172d Infantry, 43d Division, along the coast road on the 11th, sent patrols into Damortis and found the town virtually deserted.3 Late the same day General Krueger, in order to unify command on the army left, released the RCT from army control and attached it to I Corps. For similar reasons General Swift, the corps commander, further attached the combat team to the 43d Division.4 Swift also attached his corps reserve, the 6th Division's 63d RCT, to the 43d Division and directed the division commander, General Wing, to commit the 63d to close a growing gap between the 158th RCT and the 172d Infantry, which had been advancing eastward as the 158th pushed north.5

On the morning of 12 January the 172d Infantry, aided by left flank elements of the 169th Infantry, undertook an abortive attack against Hill 580, near the southern end of the third, bare-crested ridge line inland from the Mabilao landing beaches.6 From Hill 580 the ridge line stretched northward about four and a half miles to the Damortis-Rosario road near barrio Cataguintingan, at the edge of the open farm land west of Rosario. On the east the ridge overlooked open, gently sloping terrain that fell away to the valley of the Bued River, leading northeastward from the vicinity of Hill 580 and past the Routes 3-11 junction. A tiny tributary of the Bued, the Apangat River, lay just under the eastern side of the ridge line.

Once Hill 580 was cleared, the 172d Infantry could proceed north along the ridge and the Apangat River abreast of the 63d Infantry, which, as 43d Division plans evolved on 12 and 13 January, was to attack north along the next ridge to the west while the 158th Infantry struck east along the Damortis-Rosario road. If this three-regiment attack succeeded quickly, the units could drive rapidly on to overrun artillery positions north of the road from which the Japanese were still shelling I Corps beaches and then



push on to secure the Routes 3-11 junction, thereby helping to safeguard Sixth Army's extreme left and permitting General Krueger to devote more attention to the XIV Corps' drive toward Manila. Making final preparations for the three-regiment advance, the 43d Division estimated that some 5,000 troops of the 58th IMB held defenses in the Damortis- Rosario sector, an estimate that was at least 1,000 men too low.7

On the morning of 13 January, behind close mortar support, the 172d Infantry again struck up the grassy, steep slopes of Hill 580, meeting a withering fire from Japanese mortars, machine guns, and rifles. Before securing most of the hill at 1730, the two assault companies lost about 15 men killed and 25 wounded. The next day the regiment continued north along the third ridge, supported now by the 43d Division's 103d Field Artillery Battalion (105-mm. howitzers) from positions near WHITE Beach 1. Against scattered resistance, the 172d captured Hill 565, a mile and a quarter north of Hill 580. This gain had been so easy that General Wing, the 43d Division's commander, directed the regiment


to push on during the 15th to take Hill 665, another mile and a quarter north and the highest point along the third ridge line.

Meanwhile, the attacks of the 63d and 158th Infantry Regiments had not gone so well. On the 13th the 63d attacked north from Hill 247 (captured by the 172d on S-day) and seized Hill 363, about a mile and a half up the middle ridge.8 Artillery support was to have been provided by the 43d Division's 155-mm. howitzer battalion, the 192d Field Artillery, since the 63d RCT's own 105-mm. battalion had been sent south with the rest of the 6th Division.

Unfortunately, the 192d Field Artillery did not learn it was to support the 63d Infantry until after dark on 12 January, and could not start moving to good close support positions until daylight on the 13th, after the 63d had started its attack. Unlike a 105-mm. battalion, the 192d did not normally operate in direct support roles and lacked the forward observers and communications the lighter battalions possessed. The 192d might therefore have been expected to take some time to prepare for its direct support mission, but the battalion reported it could have provided some support--with at least one battery--by noon on the 13th had not Col. Ralph C. Holliday, commanding the 63d Infantry, insisted that wire be laid for artillery liaison officers and forward observers, a job that was not completed for the 192d Field Artillery for almost thirty-six hours. Colonel Holliday may have been influenced in his decision by the fact that the artillery's SCR-610 radio did not work efficiently in the broken terrain of the middle ridge line where the 63d Infantry was attacking. It was not, indeed, until the 43d Division had supplied the 192d Field Artillery with infantry SCR-300 sets that the battalion was able to establish satisfactory radio communications. Then, on 14 January, the first radio brought up to the battalion's forward observers was promptly destroyed by Japanese artillery, which also cut wire that had already been laid. Support was again delayed.

During the 14th, the 192d brought one battery still further forward to excellent direct support positions, but the communications problems made it impossible for this battery to deliver any support fires that day. It was, finally, midafternoon on 15 January when the entire battalion was in position--about a mile inland and approximately three miles south of Hill 363--and ready to give the 63d Infantry the support it needed.9 Without artillery support, and continually forced to seek cover from observed Japanese artillery and mortar fire against which it could call down no counterbattery fire, the 63d Infantry's progress was slow. Heat helped to slow advances. Though scarcely a mile inland, the regiment was cut off from Lingayen Gulf's cooling breezes and reaped the dividends of the broiling sun on the browning, steep hills. Water was another problem--none was readily available in the regiment's area, and the absence of


roads made it necessary to hand-carry all drinking water forward. But General Wing was dissatisfied with the regiment's accomplishments. Late on the 14th he relieved Colonel Holliday and placed Lt. Col. Harold G. Maison, the regimental executive officer, in command. Under Maison's direction, the 63d prepared to drive on northward to gain contact with the 158th Infantry along the Damortis-Rosario road.10

The 158th Infantry had spent 13 January patrolling in the Damortis area and preparing to attack eastward on the 14th in a drive that was expected to take the regiment at least halfway to Rosario in one day. The attack on the 14th proceeded smoothly for approximately five minutes. Then, as the 158th's leading elements started through a shallow defile about half a mile east of the Damortis--coastal road junction, Japanese mortar and artillery fire began chewing up the highway, and Japanese machine gun fire pinned down the American troops as they sought cover along the slopes north and south of the road. The troops of the 58th IMB, who had taken a heavy pounding from Allied aircraft, naval fire support vessels, and I Corps artillery for some days, had abandoned their coastal defenses and had moved into defilade positions along the eastern slopes and folds of the coastal ridge line. Their cave and tunnel defenses had been invisible from the west, and they had been able to set up what amounted to an ambush that 158th Infantry patrols had not discovered on 13 January. During the afternoon of the 14th the 158th Infantry's forward troops painfully withdrew from their exposed positions on the open slopes just east of Damortis. The day's abortive effort cost the regiment 20 men killed and 65 wounded.

The next day the 158th Infantry, supported by the 147th Field Artillery Battalion (105-mm. howitzers), naval gunfire, and CVE-based planes, gained about 1,000 yards of ground in an easterly direction both north and south of Route 3, advancing on a front about 800 yards wide astride the highway. South of the road, troops reached the crest of the first ridge line, which did not extend north of the road. There, the seaward slopes rose eastward to a ridge that, lying approximately a mile and a quarter inland, formed a northward extension of the middle ridge south of Route 3. Units of the 158th operating north of the road on 15 January were able to press only halfway up the bare slopes of the northern ridge.

Meanwhile, south of Route 3, the 63d Infantry had advanced over a mile and a half north from Hill 363 in an attempt to reach barrio Amlang, at the eastern exit of the defile through which the 158th Infantry was driving. The 63d was now operating along the eastern slopes of the first ridge line and across the second ridge, which became progressively more broken and ill-defined as the regiment proceeded northward. Japanese artillery and mortar fire, which showed no signs of decreasing in intensity as the day wore on, lambasted the 63d's forward elements all day.

Both the 63d and the 158th Infantry Regiments had encountered stronger resistance than anticipated, and General Wing now realized that neither was


going to break through toward Rosario as soon as hoped. Accordingly, he directed the 172d Infantry to speed its advance toward Route 3. He simultaneously directed the regiment to seize Rosario and clean out Japanese artillery emplacements north of Route 3 from which much of the fire had been falling on the 63d and 158th.11

Speed on the right appeared essential for another reason. Late on 14 January both air and ground observers had spotted a Japanese motorized column moving south along Route 3 below the Routes 3-11 junction. If, as feared, this move presaged a build-up for a Japanese counterattack against the Sixth Army's left, the 172d Infantry had to gain control over the highway junction before any more Japanese troops could come south. The regiment began operations on the morning of 15 January to secure the junction. That day, at the cost of 5 men killed and 20 wounded, the 172d Infantry established one battalion at the edge of Route 3 about a mile and a half west of Rosario.

The 43d Division was now trying to accomplish three related tasks: secure the Routes 3-11 junction; overrun all Japanese artillery emplacements in the Damortis-Rosario region; and secure all the ground on its left to the Army Beachhead Line, which lay roughly three miles north of the Damortis-Rosario road. Since it appeared to General Wing that his three left flank regiments did not have enough strength to accomplish all these missions, he directed the 169th Infantry, which had been operating to the southeast for three days, to push some troops north along Route 3 toward the Routes 3-11 junction. The 172d Infantry was to seize Rosario, high ground immediately north of the town, and the highway junction. The 63d would clear the Damortis-Rosario road from the 172d's westernmost positions west to barrio Amlang. The 158th Infantry's primary task was to eliminate the Japanese from the ridge north of the defile where the regiment had been stopped. The 158th had already probed up the western slopes of this ridge, and patrols had discovered that the Japanese had many mortar and machine gun positions, and a few artillery emplacements as well, along the ridge line, which extended for some two miles north of the road.

Advances made on 16 January in accordance with these plans were disappointing. None of the three regiments on the left made significant progress, but all took more casualties. The 158th Infantry, for example, suffered 13 men killed, 34 wounded, and 49 evacuated because of heat exhaustion. Almost all the casualties were incurred by one battalion and constituted a rate that no battalion could stand for long. The supply problems of the 63d and 172d Infantry Regiments were becoming more and more vexing. Until engineers could construct roads northward along the ridges, food and ammunition had to be either airdropped or moved up by Filipino hand-carrying parties. At this stage of operations on Luzon, it was not yet possible to organize such a resupply program on the scale required for rapid advances. The three regiments on the left--the 169th had been unable to start any troops north along Route 3 on 16 January--had apparently been stalemated, each unable to make significant



progress until the others began breaking through. General Wing would have to discover some way to break the stalemate quickly, for in large measure the entire development of the Sixth Army's campaign was coming to depend upon the progress of the 63d, 158th, and 172d Infantry Regiments.

The 43d Division's Right Flank

While operations on the 43d Division's left had been developing into a stalemate, the 103d and 169th Infantry Regiments, on the division right, had been preoccupied with a drive eastward toward the Army Beachhead Line, a drive that took the regiments into the 23d Division's outer defensive arc. On 13 January, after having cleared, with the 172d Infantry, the southern end of the third ridge line inland from the landing beaches, the 169th Infantry began directing its major efforts toward securing Hill 318, on the east bank of the Bued River four and a half miles due east of San Fabian, and Hill 355, two miles northeast of Hill 318.12

The 169th Infantry was up against the 23d Division's 64th Infantry, which was responsible for holding the western approaches to Route 3 from a point near


the Routes 3-11 junction south-southeast almost eighteen miles to Urdaneta.13 The Japanese regiment numbered about 2,500 troops, at least half of whom were ill-trained replacements picked up on Luzon. The 1st Battalion, less a reinforced rifle company at Hill 318, was on Hill 355. The 3d Battalion held Mt. Alava, a mile and a half north of Hill 355, and the ground sloping down to Route 3 at the town of Sison, two and a half miles northeast of Mt. Alava's crest. Supporting artillery, about two medium battalions, was emplaced in the Mt. Alava-Sison area and at Hill 355. The 64th Infantry was well dug in along the bare slopes of Hills 318 and 355 and Mt. Alava, having constructed many tunnels and caves and enlarged natural fissures and holes. The regiment, having all the advantages of observation, could watch every movement of 169th Infantry troops across the open approaches to the hill defenses.

The 169th Infantry, in a frontal assault that cost 70 men killed or wounded, cleared Hill 318 by evening on 14 January and the next day started a two-pronged attack against Hill 355.14 The effort of the 15th, at the expense of 15 men killed and 30 wounded, only demonstrated that continued frontal assault from the south and west held out little chance for the quick success and breakthrough to Route 3 that General Wing, under pressure from General Swift at I Corps headquarters, was demanding. Wing accordingly directed the 169th Infantry to cease its frontal attacks, bypass Hill 355 to the south, and displace overland to Route 3 at barrio Palacpalac, four miles south of Sison.15

To escape detection in the open ground south of Hill 355 and Mt. Alava, the 169th Infantry, which left a one-battalion containing force at Hill 355, started its overland march at 2030 on the 15th. Forced to ford two small rivers and thread its way through dry rice paddies with their separating embankments, the regiment did not close at Palacpalac until 1700 on the 16th. The troops had been encumbered by supplies during the march because supply lines were abandoned until the 103d Infantry, on the right, could secure good gravel roads running from Route 3 at Pozorrubio, a mile south of Palacpalac, southwest to Manaoag and west to San Jacinto.

For some days the 103d Infantry had been striving to reach and clear Route 3 from Pozorrubio south to Urdaneta, but had found its way blocked by the reinforced 2d Battalion, 64th Infantry, on the Hill 200 complex. The Japanese battalion had about 600 men on the six square miles of complicated but gently rolling and open hills, in which they had dug many caves, tunnels, and machine gun emplacements. The Japanese had ten to fifteen artillery pieces in support, some of them held mobile along the road to Pozorrubio. Other troops and


additional artillery were in Pozorrubio and at Binalonan, midway between Pozorrubio and Urdaneta.

The 103d Infantry's fight to clear Hill 200 was marked from start to finish by heat and dust, and by extremely close support of 105-mm. howitzers, the 105-mm. self-propelled howitzers of the regimental Cannon Company, 4.2-inch mortars, and a company of the 716th Tank Battalion.16 The battle was joined in earnest on the morning of 12 January, and by dark on the 16th only minor mopping up remained. Some 250 of the Japanese defenders escaped toward Pozorrubio, which elements of the 103d Infantry entered late on the 16th. The next day the 103d cleared the town, the remaining troops of the 2d Battalion, 64th Infantry, having withdrawn northward during the night. Meanwhile, further south, two reinforced companies of the 3d Battalion, 103d Infantry, had reached barrio Potpot, a mile or so west of Binalonan on the Binalonan-Manaoag road. The companies scarcely had time to set up defenses at dusk on the 16th before they were attacked from the east by a force of Japanese tanks.


Although General Yamashita never had any intention of launching a major counteroffensive against the Sixth Army, he did decide, probably to assuage the oft-expressed desires of many members of his staff, to undertake some minor, local counterattacks on the Sixth Army's left.17 His intention was to retain some initiative for 14th Area Army and to gain a bit more time to continue moving supplies north into the Shobu Group's redoubt. The 23d Division was to execute the local counterattacks, moving on the night of 16-17 January.

The division directed the attached 58th IMB to strike south along the coast road to disrupt the 158th RCT's supply line. The division's own 71st Infantry, from positions in hills east and northeast of Sison, was to send two companies southwest down the Bued River valley, threatening the rear and the supply routes of the 172d and 169th Infantry Regiments. The 72d Infantry, also employing two companies, was to move into Pozorrubio and operate against the rear of the 169th and 103d Infantry Regiments. The armored Shigemi Detachment, attached to the 23d Division since 10 or 11 January, was to send a small tank-infantry task force west from San Manuel, through Binalonan, and on to Manaoag to disrupt the 103d Infantry's attack.

"From the first, however, the plan went awry."18 On the north, the only noteworthy action seems to have been a raid against a 158th RCT artillery emplacement. For the rest, the units on the 43d Division's left reacted to the 58th IMB's share in the counterattack with laconic reports of "normal infiltration." Conflicting information makes it impossible to separate the parts played by the 71st and 72d Infantry Regiments,


MANAOAG. Hill 200 Complex is in Background.

but in their sectors there was more action. One small party of Japanese reached rear installations of the 172d Infantry, set afire a gasoline dump, damaged a couple of trucks, killed 2 American soldiers, and wounded 8 others. This group of Japanese dispersed after losing about 10 men killed, but continued to create infiltration scares along the Bued River valley for the next two or three days.

At barrio Palacpalac some 200 Japanese hit the perimeter of the 1st Battalion, 169th Infantry, shortly after dark on 16 January. Confused fighting--the Japanese group had not expected to find the Americans on Route 3--continued until after daylight on the 17th, when the Japanese withdrew leaving nearly a hundred dead on the field. The 169th's battalion lost 4 men killed and 26 wounded. The action may not, indeed, have been part of the counterattack, but may well have been precipitated by remnants of the 2d Battalion, 64th Infantry, withdrawing from Hill 200.

The strongest raid was that executed by the Shigemi Detachment against the outpost of the 3d Battalion, 103d Infantry, at barrio Potpot. Shortly before midnight on 16 January, Japanese tanks suddenly loomed up through the darkness


on the east side of the outpost. American antitank gunners were so taken by surprise that two tanks were able to drive through the perimeter spraying machine gun fire in all directions before disappearing down the road toward Manaoag. A third Japanese tank was knocked out east of the perimeter, but others, accompanied by infantry, continued to attack. The Japanese infantry withdrew after a sharp, two-hour fire fight, and the tanks also disappeared. But at dawn on the 17th the two tanks that had broken through earlier came roaring back down the road from Manaoag. This time they were destroyed.

When a count could be taken, the 103d Infantry's groupment at Potpot found it had lost 2 men killed and 10 wounded; a 37-mm. antitank gun, a jeep, and an M8 scout car destroyed; and a tank, another jeep, and a second M8 damaged. The Japanese lost 11 tanks and at least 50 men killed.

At dawn on the 17th, as the Japanese counterattacks at Palacpalac and Potpot ended, elements of the 25th Division began moving up to relieve the 169th and 103d Infantry Regiments. Taking stock at the end of the day, the 43d Division (and its attached 158th and 63d RCT's) could look back on its performance since the landing with mixed feelings. Nowhere had the division projected any strength to the Army Beachhead Line,19 and at least temporarily the units on the division left had become involved in a stalemate that threatened to have a serious, if not disruptive, effect upon Sixth Army's progress. On the other hand, the 43d Division's troops had met and partially overcome the strongest resistance the Japanese on Luzon had yet offered any elements of the Sixth Army. The division had overrun some important positions along the 23d Division's outer line of defenses, and it had uncovered additional Japanese concentrations. Holding a front of approximately twenty-five miles as of daybreak on 17 January, the five regiments under 43d Division control had attained positions that at least partially nullified chances that 14th Area Army could launch a large-scale surprise counteroffensive that might seriously threaten Sixth Army's beachhead. The division's main problem was to overcome the last major vestiges of such a threat by securing control over the Routes 3-11 junction and gaining a firm hold on Route 3 south of the junction. Their accomplishments to 17 January had cost the forces under General Wing's command approximately 770 casualties--roughly 200 men killed or missing and about 570 wounded.

The 6th Division's Zone

While the 43d Division had been moving against the strongest Japanese defenses so far encountered on Luzon, I Corps' right flank unit, the 6th Division, had been holding along a generally static line.20 By evening on 11 January, it had appeared that the 6th Division could push on in its sector to the Army Beachhead Line and as far as the Agno River with little trouble, but General Swift, the I Corps commander, held the


division back because its further advance would create a potentially dangerous gap along the I Corps' front.(Map 4) Swift directed the division to consolidate along a line stretching from Malasiqui, about twelve miles inland on the I-XIV Corps boundary, northeast across open farm land almost ten miles to the 6th-43d Division boundary near Manaoag. The division displaced to its new line against negligible opposition on 12 and 13 January, and immediately began sending reconnaissance elements eastward and southward. Patrols of the 6th Reconnaissance Troop, based in the vicinity of Manaoag, reported that Urdaneta was held by a strong force of Japanese and that Villasis, another five miles south along Route 3 and on the Agno, also contained a Japanese garrison. Patrols moving out of Malasiqui found a good-sized Japanese group dug in on the Cabaruan Hills, centering some six miles east of Malasiqui.

The 6th Division could not move against these Japanese concentrations until released from its holding mission, and, lest a great gap develop between the 6th and 43d Divisions, release could not come until the situation across the Sixth Army's front was sufficiently clarified to permit General Krueger to decide how and where to commit his last reserve, the 25th Division--a decision he did not reach until late on the 16th. When the 25th Division started taking over from 43d Division right flank units on the morning of the 17th, the 6th Division was able to resume its advance, heading now toward Urdaneta and the Cabaruan Hills. Until the 17th the 6th Division had encountered no strong resistance, and its casualties, excluding those of the 63d RCT, numbered no more than 20 men killed and 90 wounded.21

XIV Corps Probes South

The XIV Corps had not been idle while the I Corps had been developing the situation on Sixth Army's left.22 As of evening on 11 January, XIV Corps' 37th Division was outposting the Army Beachhead Line from the corps boundary south of Malasiqui west nearly eight miles to Bacnar on the 37th-40th Division boundary. The 40th Division's most southerly unit was at Aguilar, on Route 13 and the Army Beachhead Line about six miles west of Bacnar. To the northwest, along Lingayen Gulf's southwestern shore, the 40th Division had control of Route 7 almost as far as Port Sual, the western terminus of the Army Beachhead Line.

During the period 12-14 January the 185th Infantry, 40th Division, with the 40th Reconnaissance Troop attached, secured Port Sual and moved on to take the road junction town of Alaminos on the Bolinao Peninsula. The regiment also advanced north four miles from Port Sual along the western side of Lingayen Gulf to Cabalitan Bay, where it found that men of the Allied Naval Forces, unopposed, had already landed to establish a seaplane base. Patrols then drove west and reached Dasol Bay, on Luzon's west coast, on 15 January. Nowhere


Map 4
Sixth Army Advance
12-17 January 1945


did any significant contacts with Japanese forces develop.

Further south, the 160th Infantry of the 40th Division had a few skirmishes with elements of the Kubota Detachment, which was composed of the 23d Reconnaissance Regiment, 23d Division, and a large part of the 1st Battalion of the 72d Infantry, 23d Division. A few stragglers of the Kubota Detachment were cut off on the Bolinao Peninsula, but the detachment dissipated most of its strength in a series of minor clashes south along Route 13 with the 160th Infantry.23

To the 40th Division's left, on 12 January, patrols of the 37th Division found Filipino guerrillas holding Bayambang, on the Agno River eight miles south of Malasiqui, and secured Urbiztondo, on the Agno five miles south of Bacnar. The next day patrols moved into Wawa, between Bayambang and Urbiztondo. On 15 January a battalion of the 129th Infantry, 37th Division, crossed the Agno at Wawa and marched on south along a dusty gravel road to Camiling, where Route 13 comes in from the northwest. A battalion of the 160th Infantry, 40th Division, came down from Aguilar to Camiling the same day.

General Krueger now instructed General Griswold, the XIV Corps commander, to send more troops south of the Agno. On the evening of 15 January Griswold accordingly directed his engineers to construct crossings over the Agno so that heavy equipment could move on toward Manila and larger forces could be supplied south of the river. Generally, the corps was to bring its main strength up to the line Bayambang-Wawa-Camiling, and was to set up an outpost line further south.24 Units redeployed without incident during the next two days. By the 17th the corps had outposts at Moncada, on Route 3 over ten miles south of the Agno at Villasis in the I Corps sector; at Nampicuan and Anao, on the corps boundary four miles east of Moncada; and at Paniqui, on Route 3 six miles south of Moncada. As of 17 January XIV Corps had lost about 30 men killed and 90 wounded, compared to I Corps losses of 220 killed and 660 wounded.

Whatever the strength of the opposition the XIV Corps had encountered in the open, flat farm land through which it was moving, the corps had accomplished its initial missions. It had secured Sixth Army's right; it had reached and passed the Army Beachhead Line in its sector; it had secured crossings over the Agno River. From the nature of the resistance encountered so far and from information supplied by guerrillas and reconnaissance patrols about the area south of the Agno, it appeared that XIV Corps could drive on toward Manila just as soon as I Corps could assure the safety of the XIV's left rear and the supporting echelons could move sufficient supplies and heavy equipment across the Agno, over which the Japanese had left scarcely a single bridge standing.


Table of Contents ** Previous Chapter (5) * Next Chapter (7)


1. The general American sources for this section and its subsections are: Sixth Army Rpt Luzon, I, 19-23; I Corps Rpt Luzon, pp. 28-34; 43d Div Rpt Luzon, pp. 8-12; 43d Div G-3 Per Rpts, 12-18 Jan 45; 43d Div G-3 Jnl Luzon, 12-18 Jan 45.

2. Japanese information in this subsection is from: Sato Statement, States, III, 253-55; 172d Inf Rpt Luzon, 9 Jan-13 Feb 45, O/B an., pp. 1-2; 43d Div FO 2, 13 Jan 45.

3. Additional information on 158th RCT operations is from: 158th RCT Rpt Luzon, pp. 12-13; 158th Inf Rpt Damortis-Rosario, pp. 1-2; 158th RCT S-3 Jnl and Jnl File, 11-17 Jan 45; 158th Inf Unit Jnl and Jnl File, 11-18 Jan 45.

4. Rad, Sixth Army to I Corps and 158th RCT, 2048 12 Jan 45, Sixth Army G-3 Jnl File Luzon, 11-13 Jan 45; Rad, I Corps to 158th RCT, 0034 13 Jan 45, 158th RCT S-3 Jnl File, 11-17 Jan 45.

5. Rad, I Corps to Sixth Army, RM-79, 12 Jan 45, Sixth Army G-3 Jnl File Luzon, 11-12 Jan 45; Entry 56, 11-12 Jan, and Entries 44 and 76, 12-13 Jan, 43d Div G-3 Jnls, 11-12 and 12-13 Jan 45.

6. See above, Chapter IV, for a generalized description of the three ridge lines. Additional information on 172d Infantry operations is from: 172d Inf Rpt Luzon, 9 Jan-13 Feb 45, pp. 3-6; 172d Inf S-3 Rpts, 11-18 Jan 45; 172d Inf Jnl and Msg File, 11-18 Jan 45.

7. Of the 9,000 men originally in or attached to the 58th IMB, over 6,000 were probably available to hold the approaches to Rosario. About 1,000 more were at Aringay, on the coast north of Damortis. The remaining 2,000 were sick, had been killed or wounded by the air, naval, and artillery bombardments, or were scattered in small detachments north and east of Rosario.

8. Additional information on the 63d Infantry is from: 63d Inf Rpt Luzon, pp. 1-2; 63d Inf S-2/S-3 Jnl, 13-18 Jan 45; 63d Inf S-3 Per Rpts, 13-18 Jan 45.

9. Ltr, Lt Col Donn R. Pepke (CO 2d Bn 63d Inf) to author, 7 Jan 53, OCMH files; 192d FA Bn Rpt Luzon, pp. 2-3; 192d FA Bn Jnl, 12-16 Jan 45. The 192d's records indicate that some support missions were fired late on the afternoon of the 14th, but Colonel Pepke, commanding the 63d Infantry's leading battalion, stated that he received no artillery support until noon on the 15th at the earliest.

10. Intervs, author with Col George G. O'Connor (CO 53d FA Bn 6th Div), 15 Dec 52 and 2 Feb 53; Ltr, Pepke to author, 7 Jan 53; 63d Inf S-2/S-3 Jnl, 13-15 Jan 45; 43d Div G-3 Jnl, 13-15 Jan 45.

11. 43d Div FO 3, 15 Jan 45.

12. Additional information on 169th Infantry operations is from 169th Inf Rpt Luzon, pp. 4-5; 169th Inf Unit Jnl and Jnl Files, 12-18 Jan 45.

During preliminary attacks against Hill 318 on 12 January, S. Sgt. Robert E. Laws of Company G, 169th Infantry, earned the Medal of Honor when, leading the company's assault squad, he personally knocked out a Japanese pillbox and, although wounded, continued to fight, killing three Japanese before being evacuated.

13. Japanese information in this subsection is from: SWPA Hist Series, II, 463, n. 9, and Plate III; 43d Div G-2 Rpt Luzon, Sec. II, Enemy O/B, pp. 1-2; 103d Inf O/B Rpt Luzon, p. 1.

14. Additional information on operations at Hill 355 comes from: 716th Tank Bn Rpt Luzon, p. 3; 169th Inf Verbal FO, 14 Jan 45, résumé in 169th Inf Jnl File, 14 Jan 45; 43d Div G-3 Jnl, 13-15 Jan 45.

15. 43d Div FO 3, 15 Jan 45; Entries 27, 100, and 101, 43d Div G-3 Jnl, 13-14 Jan 45; Entries 21 and 32, 43d Div G-3 Jnl, 14-15 Jan 45; Entry 84, 43d Div G-3 Jnl, 15-16 Jan 45; 43d Div G-3 Rpts, 15 and 16 Jan 45; 43d Div Rpt Luzon, pp. 10-11.

16. Additional information on the 103d Infantry is from: 103d Inf Rpt Luzon, 1 Jan-31 May 45, pp. 7-13; 103d RCT 3-3 Per Rpt, 12-18 Jan 45; 103d Inf Opns Jnl, 12-18 Jan 45.

17. Japanese information in this subsection is from: SWPA Hist Series, II, 437-38; 14th Area Army Opns on Luzon, pp. 44-45; Takahashi Statement, States, IV, 43; Sato Statement, States, III, 254; Kawai Statement, in States, I, 321-24; 43d Div G-2 Rpt Luzon, Sec. II, Enemy O/B, p. 3.

18. SWPA Hist Series, II, 438.

19. Actually, a couple of patrols of the 158th Infantry had reached the Army Beachhead Line along the coast north of Damortis.

20. The principal sources for this subsection are: I Corps Rpt Luzon, pp. 28-32; 6th Div Rpt Luzon, pp. 5-10; 6th Div Arty Rpt Luzon, pp. 3-6; 6th Cav Rcn Tr Rpt Luzon, pp. 5-9; 6th Div G-3 Jnls and Jnl Files, 12-17 Jan 45; 1st Inf Rpt Luzon, pp. 8-9.

21. For further information on the commitment of the 25th Division, see below, Chapter VIII. Operations of the 6th and 25th Divisions on 17 January are described in Chapter IX.

22. The general sources for this section are: XIV Corps Rpt Luzon, pt. I, pp. 54-62; 40th Div Rpt Luzon, pp. 11-13; 40th Div G-3 Opns Rpts, 12-17 Jan 45; 37th Div Rpt Luzon, pp. 21-25; 37th Div G-3 Jnls and Jnl Files, 12-18 Jan 45; Sixth Army Rpt Luzon, I, 20.

23. Japanese information in this section is from: 14th Area Army Opns on Luzon, pp. 45, 73-74; SWPA Hist Series, II, Plate III (after p. 437); Kubota Detachment Opnl Order 1, 5 Jan 45, trans in 40th Div G-3 Jnl File, 14 Jan 45. The detachment was named after Lt. Col. Shohei Kubota, also the commander of the 23d Reconnaissance Regiment.

24. XIV Corps Opns Memos 6, 15 Jan 45, and 6/1, 17 Jan 45, both in XIV Corps Opns Memos File; 37th Div Opns Memo 3, 16 Jan 45, 37th Div G-3 Jnl File, 15-18 Jan 45; 40th Div Opns Memo 1, 16 Jan 45, XIV Corps G-3 Jnl File, 16-17 Jan 45; Sixth Army FO 42, 16 Jan 45, Sixth Army Rpt Luzon, I, 147.

Transcribed and formatted by Jerry Holden for the HyperWar Foundation