The Logistics of the Invasion
The danger of overextension in the face of the continued threat of Japanese counterattack against Sixth Army's left was the principal factor so far preventing XIV Corps from driving further and more rapidly southward. At the same time, however, logistical problems threatened not only seriously to delay XIV Corps progress but also to slow I Corps operations to secure the army left. Largely as the result of circumstances beyond the control of Sixth Army and of the Allied Naval Forces, the problem of supplying the advancing troops of the two corps had become extremely vexing during the first week ashore on Luzon. Indeed, as early as evening of S plus 1, 10 January, all supply operations at Lingayen Gulf had almost halted. Moreover, Sixth Army engineers had quickly found that unanticipated difficulties would delay bridge and airfield construction in the Lingayen Gulf area and that other construction projects along the gulf's shores would have to be abandoned as impracticable. Such logistical problems tended to create the proverbial vicious circle--on the one hand they would delay the XIV Corps' progress southward; on the other hand they demanded that XIV Corps push southward as rapidly as possible to secure the Clark Field air center and the Manila port facilities.
Unloading the Assault Convoys
Beach Operations on S-day
Early landings on 9 January gave no hint of problems to arise.1 The long, shallow gradient along the XIV Corps' beaches was ideal for LVT's, LVT(A)'s, and Dukws, all of which made their way to dry land without difficulty. However, most LCVP's grounded in shallow water some 20 to 30 yards offshore. Next, engineer special brigade LCM's (Landing Craft, Mechanized) grounded about 50 yards off the beaches, Navy LCT's stopped 75 to 80 yards out, and LST's grounded by the stern 50 to 100 yards seaward of the LCT's.
Most of the LST's had stuck on a shoal or sand bar that, fronting much of the
length of the XIV Corps' beaches, had not been detected during the study of preinvasion aerial photography or by hydrographic survey operations on 7 and 8 January.2 After the landings started on 9 January it was too late to divert LST's to better beaching sites, and the price of the failure to locate the sand bar earlier quickly became apparent. Attempts to send trucks ashore through water that deepened on the landward side of the shoal proved futile, since most of the vehicles were not--and could not have been--sufficiently waterproofed to make their way through salt water that at least in a few spots reached well over their hoods. At many points, therefore, direct unloading from LST's was halted, and efforts were made to rig ponton causeways to bridge the water gap--a solution that led to another problem.3 At some of the XIV Corps' beaches LST's had grounded so far out that crews had to use three causeway sections to reach dry land and even then bulldozers had to push sand ramps out from shore at some points to reach the inland end of the third sections. Building such ramps was no mean feat since most of the engineer shore party bulldozers required for the task were still aboard the very LST's awaiting discharge. Army planners, who had no more information about shoals than Navy planners, had assumed that LST's would be able to get close inshore at all points across Lingayen Gulf. Working from this assumption, the Army had loaded the bulk of shore party men and equipment aboard LST's. The effect of this emphasis was that the entire unloading schedule began to break down.
There are some indications that LST unloading was also slowed at two or three points because naval personnel, forced to alter tentative plans to construct two-section ponton causeways, took a long time to rig the required three-section causeways. Many LST's, unloading bulk cargo directly on to the causeways, rendered the bridges useless for the discharge of wheeled or tracked vehicles. At some points along the beaches LST commanders, reluctant to follow beaching directions from Navy beachmasters ashore, used their own discretion as to how to avoid the shoal. At this time Navy doctrine was not entirely clear on the degree of control beachmasters could exercise. Moreover, doctrine on LST beaching varied between the III and the VII Amphibious Force, a circumstance that undoubtedly created problems for commanders of LST's operating in the Southwest Pacific Area for the first time.4 In the case of the III Amphibious Force (XIV Corps) beaches, most of the beachmasters, sadly outranked by LST skippers, did not have a rank commensurate with their responsibilities. Moreover, many LST commanders reported that discharge slowed down even more because Army unloading details assigned to their ships were too small to begin with and because the members of the details had a marked tendency to disappear one by one. Discharge of bulk cargo from some LST's therefore virtually
LST's WITH CAUSEWAYS at XIV Corps Beach
halted until ship commanders could round up members of their own crews to do the job.
Also serving to retard the discharge rate of LST's and smaller craft was the terrain along many beaches. A line of sand dunes, lying about 10 yards inland and varying from 5 to 15 feet in height, extended along the beaches.5 The dunes proved no obstacle to foot troops but, steep on the seaward side, were impassable for wheeled vehicles. Until bulldozers--apparently no one thought of putting crews of men to work with shovels--could cut exit roads through the barriers, vehicles had to disperse laterally along the beaches. Luckily, the sand on the water side of the dunes was fairly firm; nonetheless the unloading area rapidly became congested, and bulk cargo piled up along the water's edge. On the west, at the 40th Division's beaches, there was less trouble with dunes, but some congestion resulted because it was necessary to keep the Lingayen airstrip clear of supplies and equipment.
If shore party troops and equipment had not been so concentrated on LST's and had been able to get ashore as scheduled, much of the early beach congestion could have been avoided, and the landing schedules could have been maintained.
But shore parties were so involved in getting themselves ashore that they were delayed in turning to their normal tasks. In addition, throughout the day many troops that should have been handling bulk supplies on the beach had to help unload cargo from the smaller landing craft. Normally, with small craft beaching at the water's edge, no more than ten men would be detailed to help unload cargo from an LCM or an LCVP, but at the XIV Corps' beaches it was necessary to form human chains of fifty to a hundred men to reach out into the surf for the cargo. Shore parties could not meet this abnormal demand for manpower, and a number of on-the-spot improvisations had to be employed. Seamen came ashore from transports and cargo ships, combat troops of reserve units lent a hand, stragglers were rounded up on the beaches, and as soon as possible local Filipinos were organized into labor parties.
Beach conditions alone did not create all the manpower problems on S-day. Some of the difficulties reflect a lack of detailed co-ordination during planning.6 For example, one Navy beachmaster expected an Army working party of 91 men to show up to help unload a transport's small craft. Instead 75 arrived, led by an Army lieutenant who was sure that 75 was the correct number. The difference of just 15 men could and did make a disproportionate difference in the speed of small-boat discharge.
All across the Sixth Army's beaches, shore party officers had trouble establishing and maintaining control over units attached to the nucleus engineer boat and shore regiments. At one XIV Corps beach, for instance, the shore party commander and a Navy beachmaster decided to move one RCT's cargo discharge point about half a mile. The move, involving the transfer of markers, communications equipment, bulldozers, tractors, and trucks, alone halted unloading for about forty-five minutes. Then, when all was in readiness to resume discharge operations at the new site, the shore party commander found that many of his troops had disappeared during the transfer. It took another half an hour or so to round up the men and resume unloading at the former pace.
A shortage of trucks, although anticipated, became more serious than expected. Most of the trucks scheduled to go ashore on the morning of S-day carried supplies consigned to infantry units. The vehicles were first to move to temporary unit dumps behind the dune line and then, unloaded, report back to the beaches for shore party assignments. The plan was one thing, its execution another.
Since there was no Japanese opposition at the beaches, infantry units had penetrated inland much faster and further than expected. Trucks had to make longer round trips than anticipated, delaying their return to the beaches. Some infantry units, landing well before their supply trucks, failed to leave adequate guides or directions at the beaches. As a result, trucks could not find the units to which they were to deliver cargoes. Late in the afternoon, when shore party
men started looking for vehicles to help alleviate the beach congestion, they found many trucks parked along roads just inland, still loaded and still searching for their units. Finally, some infantry units had not been properly briefed or had shirked their responsibility to return the trucks to the beaches and had instead retained the vehicles inland.
Whatever the causes, a critical shortage of trucks existed at XIV Corps beaches during S-day. In addition, few bulldozers, tractors, or cranes were available. These latter shortages had resulted in large measure from shipping shortages and the expectation of heavy resistance at the beaches. Planners had had no choice but to load available shipping with combat units and equipment, skimping on shore party matériel. Thus, the engineer boat and shore regiments and attached service units arriving on S-day--and the S plus 2 convoy also--reached Luzon far underequipped. Even with the best possible beach and surf conditions the shore parties would have been operating on a shoestring. They had no margin of safety--no slack or reserves--to deal with unforeseen contingencies.
As the result of matériel and manpower shortages on the beaches, offshore discharge--from transports to small craft--steadily fell behind schedule. Having to wait at the beaches an inordinately long time to unload, landing craft were slow to return to cargo vessels. Combat units also delayed discharge operations when they requisitioned engineer boat and shore regiment LCM's to serve as ferries across the many streams just inland from the beaches.
Discharge problems along the I Corps' beaches were similar to those in the XIV Corps' sector except that at WHITE Beaches 1 and 2, where the 43d Division went ashore, all landing craft and landing ships could beach with dry ramps at any stage of the tide.7 At the other I Corps beaches, shore parties were even slower getting ashore than in the XIV Corps area, and control problems loomed at least as large. A single example suffices to illustrate the control problem--the 6th Division's shore party, which operated under the command of Headquarters, 543d Engineer Boat and Shore Regiment, 3d Engineer Special Brigade.(Table 2)
The situation was little different at other beaches across Lingayen Gulf. Because planners had wanted to get forward echelons of technical service units set up on Luzon as early as possible, many underequipped and undermanned organizations, attached to the shore parties, arrived on S-day and S plus 2 to complicate the control problem. In retrospect, many officers felt that it would have been better to send forward fewer technical service units in favor of making certain that those that came were fully up to strength in men and equipment. Many of the service units saw limited use during the first week or so of operations on Luzon and, when loaded at the staging areas, took up space that the shore parties sorely needed. The shore party commanders, faced with the task of co-ordinating the operations of so many miscellaneous units, accomplished a remarkably good control job. The wonder is not so much
Composition of 6th Division Shore Party
543d Engineer Boat and Shore Regiment (less Company C, two platoons of Company A, Boat Battalion headquarters)
3d Battalion, 20th Infantry (available for general labor details unless required for combat by the 6th Division)
6th Quartermaster Company, 6th Division
466th Quartermaster Amphibious Truck Company (Dukws)
558th Quartermaster Railhead Company (less elements)
2448th Quartermaster Truck Company (2½-ton 6x6 trucks)
4188th Quartermaster Service Company
244th Transportation Corps Port Company (less one platoon)
294th Transportation Corps Port Company
48th Ordnance Medium Maintenance Company
622d Ordnance Ammunition Company
706th Ordnance Light Maintenance Company, 6th Division
108th Ordnance Bomb Disposal Squad
1st Platoon, 36th Military Police Company
Company C, 263d Medical Battalion, 3d Engineer Special Brigade
Provisional Truck Company, 6th Division (2½-ton 6x6)
Detachment, 198th Quartermaster Gas Supply Company
Detachment, 163d Ordnance Maintenance Company, 3d Engineer Special Brigade
Detachment, 3608th Ordnance Heavy Maintenance Company (tanks)
Detachment, 293d Joint Assault Signal Company
Detachment, 1462d Engineer Boat Maintenance Company, 3d Engineer Special Brigade
Source: 4th ESP Rpt Luzon, pp. 1-2; 543d EB&SR M-I Opn Rpt, an. 6, Org Chart; 543d EB&SR Rpt on M-I Opn Through S Plus 3, p. 1; 6th Inf Div Rpt Luzon, p. 4.
that control at the beaches was sometimes loose, but rather that control was established and maintained as well as it was.
Harassing fire from Japanese mortars and artillery emplaced on the high ground to the east and northeast of the I Corps beaches was a delaying factor with which XIV Corps did not have to contend. The fire waxed so intense late in the afternoon of 9 January that LST's had to halt operations at all WHITE Beaches. Night unloading at these beaches was impossible.
One or two other problems were peculiar to the I Corps beaches. Inadequate ship-to-shore communications plagued most beachmasters and shore party commanders throughout the day, and some aspects of unloading were poorly coordinated. For example, the VII Amphibious Force's beachmaster announced at one point that bulk cargo could not be handled at WHITE Beach 3. Actually, under the direction of one transport division beachmaster and the local shore party commander, bulk cargo had been coming ashore at WHITE Beach 3 slowly but efficiently for two hours before the announcement and continued to do so thereafter. At another beach the shore party commander and the beachmaster decided to move a small-craft discharge point, but three cargo ships continued to send supplies to the abandoned area despite the best efforts of the beachmaster to redirect traffic.
Some trouble arose over control of landing craft across I Corps beaches. Engineer special brigade LCM's were scheduled to help unload first the vessels
that had carried them to Lingayen Gulf, then other ships of the same naval transport division, next other ships as directed by Navy control officers, and, when all naval vessels were discharged, were to report to shore party commanders for directions to start unloading merchant ships. Many of the LCM coxswains had been improperly briefed on the sequence of unloading, and some had inexplicable difficulty locating the ships they were to unload. Too often Navy beachmasters could not help solve the location problem, for they had too little information concerning individual ship anchorages to give the LCM's proper directions.
Many LCM coxswains, contrary to plan, reported to shore party commanders after their first run to shore. The shore party usually directed the LCM's back into Navy command channels, but some shore party officers assigned the LCM's to special Army missions such as the river crossing operations that took lighterage craft away from unloading jobs in the XIV Corps' area. Offshore, some engineer LCM's making turnaround trips to naval cargo ships were directed by ships' captains to different vessels. On occasion Navy control officers did not learn of the changes, and in one case a I Corps shore party lost track of five LCM's for two days, the craft having moved to another beach at the order of a Navy transport captain.
Despite the difficulties, both normal and abnormal, the AP's and APA's of the III and VII Amphibious Forces slated for S-day discharge were unloaded and ready to leave Lingayen Gulf by 1800 as planned. On the other hand, only two or three LST's, the majority of which were also scheduled for S-day discharge, were unloaded; some LSM's had not completed discharge; and, finally, only a bare start had been made toward the unloading of AK's (Cargo Ships, Auxiliary) and AKA's (Cargo Ships, Attack). At the end of the day, it was obvious that the morrow would have to bring with it ideal conditions of weather, tide, organization, co-ordination, and communications if all vessels of the S-day convoy were to be unloaded by evening of S plus 2 in accordance with plans.
10 and 11 January
Weather conditions were to prove anything but ideal. Far to the north of Lingayen Gulf strong tropical disturbances, including the typhoon that had hampered the operations of Admiral Halsey's fast carrier task forces, were whipping up the waters of the South China Sea. During the night of 9-10 January the pressures built up by these storms began to create corresponding pressures within Lingayen Gulf. By mid-morning on 10 January the surf was so high and rough all along the XIV Corps beaches that unloading, having gotten off to an excellent start early in the day, slowed drastically and rapidly. Before noon Dukws halted lighterage operations, offshore seas being so rough that the amphibians could not climb back on LCT and LSM ramps to reload. About 1330, LCVP lighterage also ceased. By that time many LCVP's had broached to or swamped, and one had tossed end over end onto the beach.
About an hour later causeway discharge also stopped. By 1500 two ponton causeways had swung broadside to the beach, two were awash, and most of
the others had to be secured to prevent damage. Self-propelled ponton barges could no longer run; three LST's had stuck fast on the beaches and a fourth, broaching to stern first, had damaged a fifth. By 1530 engineer LCM's were the only craft still able to come through the surf at XIV Corps beaches, but offshore the waves were so high that it was next to impossible to keep the LCM's sufficiently close aboard discharging ships to permit unloading. Finally, shortly after 1600, all discharge operations ceased along the XIV Corps beaches.
In I Corps area the two BLUE Beaches and WHITE Beach 3 also closed down during the afternoon. At WHITE Beaches 1 and 2, on the eastern shore of the gulf, the surf was not so rough and discharge operations continued until dusk, when Japanese artillery and mortar fire again forced a halt. By nightfall the discharge of cargo vessels had fallen hopelessly behind schedule all across the gulf.
Ashore, on the other hand, shore parties were able to make considerable progress in relieving beach congestion, although still hampered by a shortage of tracked and wheeled vehicles. As beaches closed down one by one, the shore parties turned to clearing operations. Mainly by dint of manhandling--employing every man, American and Filipino, who could be found in the beach area--most bulk cargo was sorted and piled in dumps. But a dearth of vehicles, combined with bridge construction problems, still made it impossible to move much cargo inland.
On S plus 2, 11 January, the surf remained high and rough, but abated sufficiently in the afternoon for LCM's to resume lightering at the BLUE Beaches. LSM's completed discharge during the
CONGESTION AT BLUE BEACH
day, but this accomplishment brought mixed blessings. Previously, some of the unloaded LSM's, larger and more stable than LCM's, had made good lighters, but now all had to assemble for the trip back to Leyte. Lighterage also decreased as more and more engineer LCM's broke down--at BLUE Beach 2, for example, only eighteen of twenty-eight assigned were still operational at dark on 11 January. LCM maintenance became a major problem, primarily because a theaterwide spare parts shortage had made it impossible for the engineer boat and shore regiments to bring with them sufficient parts to assure continued operations, especially during the beating that LCM's took from the rough surf on 10 and 11 January. The few Navy LCM's present had the same problem.
Actually, the engineer LCM's provided the best lighterage during the assault. Army and Navy LCVP's were too small and light for the surf that
arose on S plus 1, while LCT's and LSM's drew too much water to get close inshore except at WHITE Beaches 1 and 2. The LCT's also proved quite hard to handle in the rough surf. The engineer LCM's were the LCM(6) model, six feet longer and a bit heavier than Navy LCM(3)'s used at Lingayen Gulf. Although possessing essentially the same draft and capacity as the smaller Navy craft, the engineer LCM's were more seaworthy in the high, rough surf.
Along the beaches on S plus 2 truck shortages remained acute, and in I Corps' area only 25 percent of scheduled trucking was available by dusk. Additional Filipino labor partially alleviated the shortage, but congestion remained severe at WHITE Beaches 1 and 2, especially as more and more ships were diverted there to take advantage of easier surf conditions.
At WHITE Beach 3 congestion increased on 11 January as the convoy carrying the 25th Infantry Division of the Sixth Army Reserve hove to and began discharging.8 The division had hoped that I Corps could furnish shore party help, but in co-operation with Task Force 77.9, the Reinforcement Group, had prepared for its own unloading. Having no assigned engineer special brigade shore party, the division had organized regimental shore parties around a nucleus of one infantry battalion from each regiment, augmented by a composite group from division headquarters and division troops. The division had "scrounged" two light cranes at its staging area, and Task Group 77.9 had borrowed eight 5-ton cranes, complete with naval CB (construction battalion) operators, from the naval base in the Admiralty Islands. There, the task group had also secured 100 lengths of conveyor belt, employed for handling bulk cargo, to add to 50 lengths the 25th Division had brought with it and 75 more lengths that the ships of the convoy contributed.
As anticipated, I Corps could provide little help, although the shore party at WHITE Beach 3 did supply a few LCM's and the local beachmaster diverted a couple of LCT's to help Task Group 77.9. However, Task Group 77.9's own boats unloaded most of the 25th Division's matériel, and the men and equipment the task group and the division brought along handled all cargo on the beaches. Unloading was slow and not a single transport, all scheduled for S plus 2 discharge, was ready to leave that night. The 158th RCT, which had an engineer special brigade shore party attached to it, unloaded with less trouble on RED Beach, immediately north of WHITE Beach 1.
All across Lingayen Gulf, LST discharge conditions improved on 11 January, and by 1800 most LST's that had arrived on S-day were ready to return to Leyte, two days behind schedule. A few AKA's were also ready to leave by dusk. Ashore, much of the congestion at the XIV Corps' beaches and at the I Corps' BLUE Beaches decreased rapidly, though the arrival of the Sixth Army Reserve renewed congestion at all I Corps landing points. Clearing the beaches had demanded almost superhuman effort on the part of all personnel involved, and by evening on 11 January many officers
and men of the shore parties and the beachmaster groups had had but two or three hours sleep since they had awakened on the morning of the 9th.
On S plus 2 an innovation solved many of the lighterage problems that the high, rough surf had caused. LCM's, LCVP's, and amphibian tractors and trucks began to discharge in protected waters just inside the mouths of the many streams that cut into Lingayen Gulf's southern shore. Given the weather conditions and the tactical situation, it would seem that use might have been made of the river banks before the afternoon of S plus 2, but as events turned out it was S plus 4, 13 January, before the protected anchorages were extensively employed.
As night fell on S plus 2, order had begun to emerge from what must have appeared to many beachmasters and shore party commanders to be the unconscionable confusion of the preceding two days. If the weather did not take another turn for the worse, those responsible for discharge and beach operations could foresee the ultimate unloading of all S-day and S plus 2 shipping. This was a prediction that many Army and Navy officers at Lingayen Gulf might well have been unwilling to make twenty-four hours earlier.
Unfortunately, during the next two days there was little abatement in the surf, and unloading proceeded generally under the same handicaps that had prevailed on 10 and 11 January. LST discharge continued to run far behind schedule, especially as ponton causeways were buffeted onto the beaches time and time again. Late on 14 January one III Amphibious Force LST, as an experiment, beached quite far in at high tide and unloaded through the shallows at low water. The method proved successful and was often used thereafter, reducing the role of the causeways to secondary importance. However, with more and more LST's of resupply convoys arriving from rear bases, a considerable backlog of unloaded LST's developed by 15 January, a backlog that persisted until the end of the month.
For the AP's, APA's, AK's, AKA's, and merchant vessels, lighterage continued to be a major problem as operational accidents and mechanical failures deadlined more and more landing craft. The only compensating factor was that as more use was made of the protected river mouth discharge points all unloading accelerated. Nonetheless, most of the AK's and AKA's of the S-day convoy were two days late leaving Lingayen Gulf, as were those of the S plus 2 group. AP's and APA's of the latter convoy were also two days late departing.
On S plus 3, 12 January, the Navy established more centralized control over lighterage than had been possible in the initial assault phases, when command channels had been necessarily much subdivided. Beachmasters and shore party commanders were now able to keep better track of lightering craft and so could employ them more efficiently. Ashore, truck shortages continued to be critical. For example, the I Corps' shore parties had expected the 6th and 43d Divisions to return approximately 220 trucks to the beaches by the morning of 10 January, but as of the morning of the 14th only 159 trucks were available.
In brief, discharge operations were not
an unqualified success during the first week. While the shelving beaches and adverse weather and surf conditions were in large measure directly or indirectly responsible for many difficulties, it would be incorrect to assume that there were no mistakes in planning and execution. However, despite the difficulties on the beaches, Admiral Barbey, the VII Amphibious Force commander, was sufficiently impressed with the shore party operations to report:
It is believed that the Engineer Special Brigade as organized in the Southwest Pacific Area is the most efficient Shore Party organization now functioning in amphibious warfare and that the permanent organization of these [brigades has] contributed in large measure to the success of amphibious operations in this theater.9
It is perhaps sufficient tribute to all echelons to state that in the face of unanticipated and unavoidable problems the Army and Navy units concerned with discharge operations at Lingayen Gulf ultimately accomplished their missions. Certainly General Krueger, the commander with so much at stake, felt that all hands "did as well as could have been expected under existing conditions."10
Inland Supply and Construction
Moving the Supplies From the Beaches
For most of the first week of the Luzon Campaign, difficulties involved in moving supplies from the beaches to their proper destination inland were almost as great as those encountered during discharge operations.11 Bridge construction was the main problem in the stream-cut area along the southern shores of Lingayen Gulf. The assault forces found that most of the bridges from the gulf south across the Agno River had been at least partially destroyed by Allied air action, naval bombardment, or Japanese and guerrilla demolitions. Moreover, many of the bridges found intact were too weak to bear the weight of the Sixth Army's heavy equipment. Some bridges had been destroyed by MacArthur's withdrawing forces in 1941-42, and the Japanese had replaced them with structures capable of bearing only ten to twelve tons. The Sixth Army now needed bridges of at least 35-ton capacity.
Without bridges, the advancing infantry depended largely on LVT ferries for supplies during the first few days after the assault--even the ubiquitous jeeps moved over rivers aboard LVT's. Initially, artillery and tanks were moved south by a variety of expedients. The 6th Division, for example, got two 105-mm. artillery battalions across the Binloc River, behind the BLUE Beaches, using a temporary fill, while the 37th Division moved two of its field artillery battalions across the Calmay River on engineer LCM ferries. The 40th Division used Filipino rafts, ponton float ferries, and engineer LCM's for both
troops and equipment. In the 43d Division area there were not as many streams, and the division found the bridges of the Manila Railroad intact--all that had to be done to make the bridges passable for wheeled vehicles was to lay planking across the rails. Where no bridges were found, fords sufficed for the 43d Division.
Conversely, roads were no problem except on the I Corps' left, especially in the zones of the 63d and 172d Infantry Regiments. There, bulldozers had to construct roads where none existed. Elsewhere, only occasional smoothing or filling of shell holes was necessary. Pending the development of roads in part of its area, the 43d Division employed as many as 500 Filipinos a day in hand-carrying operations and, as soon as airfields were constructed, used airdrops extensively.
Unloading delays made it impossible to begin bridge construction and repair as soon as hoped. Bailey bridge spans had been divided among several ships for safety's sake and came ashore piecemeal, making it difficult for engineers to find and assemble the necessary spans. Nevertheless, the 37th Division's 117th Engineers had a Bailey across the Pantal at Dagupan by the morning of 13 January, thus permitting the division's heavy equipment to move on south.12 The 6th Division's 6th Engineers built a Bailey across the Binloc River by the afternoon of 11 January, while elements of the 5202d Engineer Construction Brigade, operating directly under Sixth Army control, had placed heavy ponton bridges across the Binloc and the Calmay by the 15th, providing similar crossings in the 40th Division's area.
Further inland, various Engineer units repaired existing structures to carry 35-ton loads or constructed new crossings. The 5202d built two ponton bridges across the Agno, one at Wawa and the other at Bayambang, by 20 January, and all available engineers constructed new timber bridges across smaller streams. Generally, bridge construction could not keep pace with the advancing infantry. LVT's and Dukws, not designed for the job, accordingly had to be pressed into service for operations far inland--a field expedient that hardly met with the approval of many experienced officers and drivers.
As events turned out, bridge repair rather than new construction took up most of the engineers' time. Thus, although the bridging problem in the area south to the Agno was formidable, it
. . . did not develop to the proportions originally expected. This was attributable primarily to the failure of the enemy to oppose the landing and his failure completely to demolish existing bridges . . . bridge replacement was only 25% of the anticipated figure.13
Beyond the Agno, bridge destruction was much more thorough, a fact that, coupled with the slow rate of discharge, threatened to cause a serious shortage of heavy bridging equipment in addition to an expected shortage of light bridging. General Krueger therefore requested that the Allied Air Forces cease its program of bridge destruction, and after 20 January the air arm limited its antibridge strikes to spans the Sixth
Army specifically wanted knocked out.14
Inland, the general shortage of trucks was ever more keenly felt as the army advanced southward. Few troops could move by motor and the infantry's rate of march therefore governed the speed of the advance. Even at this relatively slow pace, transportation facilities were strained to the utmost to keep supplies going forward, and supply levels sometimes become dangerously low at inland dumps.
So critical was the truck shortage that Sixth Army quickly began to devote considerable energy to repairing railroad facilities. The 37th Division was the first unit to get a section of railroad into operation. Casting around for some means of employing the Manila Railroad, the division found the roadbed north and south of the Agno River in fairly good condition and located a few sound flatcars, but could discover no usable engines. Thereupon, the division's 737th Ordnance Company rigged a jeep with flanged railroad wheels to make an improvised engine capable of hauling four loaded 16-ton flatcars. On 19 January the 37th Division's first "train" ran down the twelve miles of track from San Carlos--the division's truck head--to Bayambang. Two days later the unit acquired two small donkey engines from a sugar refinery and added another ten miles of track to its railroad.
Meanwhile, the Engineer, Sixth Army, and the Army Service Command began rounding up experienced Filipino railroad men and started to repair roadbeds, rolling stock, and locomotives. On 22 January the first train moved by one of the railroad's standard engines pulled out of Dagupan for Bayambang. Simultaneously the road was opened from Dagupan northeast to San Fabian. The initial capacity of the lines between San Fabian and Bayambang was 200 deadweight tons per trip, a small tonnage but so important that General Krueger arranged for the Allied Air Forces to limit its attacks on rolling stock solely to trains actually moving within Japanese-controlled territory.15 As units moved on southward, additional sections of the railroad were opened as fast as rolling stock could be found and bridges repaired. The job became more and more pressing, for it was not until March that the combat and service units on Luzon obtained all their organic transportation from rear bases. Even then the length of the supply lines continued to strain highway facilities to the utmost until port operations began at Manila. "The early rehabilitation of the railroad," Sixth Army reported, "prevented collapse of the supply system [during] the advance on Manila."16 Certainly, the rapid repair of the railroads, the employment of such field expedients as jeep engines, the use of LVT's and Dukws for extended overland hauls and as river-crossing ferries, and the many hours engineers devoted to bridge repair combined to overcome truck shortages and to permit units to operate along combat supply lines three to four times normal length. Although supplies were sometimes slow getting forward to the
FIRST STANDARD LOCOMOTIVE IN OPERATION hauls ammunition to front, 22 January.
combat units, no serious shortages developed.17 Again, ingenuity and hard work kept the operations going and solved difficult, unexpected problems.
Work to satisfy the pressing requirement for airfields at Lingayen Gulf began almost as soon as the first assault waves hit the beaches.18 On S-day an engineer survey party determined that the Lingayen airstrip could be rehabilitated by the time the CVE's of the Allied Naval Forces had to leave, but unloading delays retarded work until S plus 2. Even then, most of the repairs were made by some 400 Filipino laborers who, working almost entirely by hand, began filling bomb craters with beach sand and started clearing debris. With the aid of only three or four pieces of heavy equipment, the Filipinos had the strip in shape by the afternoon of S plus 3 for a CVE-based fighter to make a successful emergency landing. It was 13 January before "formal" engineer work began at the site, and not until the 15th were all three engineer battalions assigned to the project ashore and working.
Other delays occurred when some lack of co-ordination or misunderstanding of unloading plans made it difficult to get discharged steel matting for surfacing the strip. First, the XIV Corps, responsible for getting the matting to the strip, could obtain no information through either Army or Navy channels concerning the whereabouts of the mat-laden cargo ships. Then, shortly after mat discharge had started late on the afternoon of S plus 3, the two ships carrying most of the matting moved off to an outer anchorage for the night, contrary to plans. The next day high surf hampered discharge, and by evening only 200 tons of matting was ashore. The cost of even this small amount was two Dukws and one LVT sunk and three men seriously injured. Risks were even greater during the night unloading, but had to be accepted since it was necessary to discharge a daily average of 700 tons of matting to meet the construction target date.19
By dint of almost incredibly hard work on the part of shore parties, engineers at the airfield, and Filipino civilian labor, the Lingayen strip, steel-matted to a 5,000-foot length, was ready for sustained use about midnight on 15 January. C-47's began operations from the field the next day, when some P-61's of the 547th Night Fighter Squadron also arrived. On 17 January P-40's and P-51's of the 82d Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron flew in, as did the 18th Fighter Group's P-38's. Headquarters, 308th Bombardment Wing (Heavy), responsible for the initial conduct of land-based air operations in the area, was already set up. On the 17th, a day behind schedule, the wing relieved the CVE's of air cover and support duties.
In original plans the Lingayen strip and another field in the area were to be developed into all-weather air bases, but since Japanese opposition was less than anticipated and since good weather was in prospect for the next three months, the Allied Air Forces, Sixth Army, and General Headquarters determined that two dry-weather strips would be sufficient. Construction of necessary all-weather fields could wait until the Clark Field air center was secured. In the meantime, it was still imperative to provide a second field in the Lingayen area to move sufficient planes forward for proper air support operations.
On S-day engineers of the Army Service Command had selected a site at BLUE Beach for the second field, and Filipino laborers began work there on 13 January, followed three days later by one engineer battalion.20 From the beginning of construction some engineers and airmen expressed reservations about the desirability of the BLUE Beach site, for the area was narrow and had a high water table. On the 16th engineers also discovered that the subsoil was extremely difficult to compact.
Already, another likely site had been examined in dry rice paddies about midway between Dagupan and Mangaldan, five miles to the east. Some work started
at this site on 17 January, and during the next two days all the troops and equipment from the BLUE Beach strip moved to the new location.21 The Mangaldan strip, compacted earth without steel matting, was ready for fighters on 22 January, and within a week was expanded to the length necessary for medium bombers. Fifth Air Force fighters and A-20's, together with Marine Air Groups 24 and 32, equipped with the obsolescent Douglas Dauntless dive bomber, moved up to Mangaldan by the end of the month, all passing to the control of the 308th Bombardment Wing.22
While work on the airfields was under way, other construction had begun. The Naval Service Command prepared an advance PT-boat base, readied a seaplane base at Cabalitan Bay on Lingayen Gulf's west shore, and set up shore installations for shipping control and minor repairs. More extensive construction for naval purposes awaited the seizure of base sites at Manila and Subic Bays in southern Luzon.
The Army Service Command soon discovered that the shores of Lingayen Gulf had no suitable sites at which to construct docks that would have the capacity to discharge large cargo vessels, and therefore abandoned plans to construct such facilities. Adverse surf and beach conditions also led to the cancellation of projects for constructing many smaller docks, lightering jetties, and an extensive fuel jetty system. At first fuel barges anchored inside the mouth of the Dagupan River. Ultimately ASCOM built a small permanent fuel jetty at Alacan on the east shore of the gulf, whence pipelines stretched to the two airstrips. Engineers also constructed a small jetty for unloading railroad equipment at San Fabian. LST beaching sites were improved, but most larger vessels discharged over wharves built along the river at Dagupan. The rest of the planned port construction would have to await the recapture of Manila.
Logistical Command and Control
The schedule for centralizing logistical responsibilities in the hands of the Army Service Command, vice the I and XIV Corps, could not be met, the discharge delays and co-ordination problems making it desirable for the two corps to retain responsibility until 19 January, four days longer than planned. On the date the transfer became effective, Army Service Command assumed most of the logistical support responsibility within a region designated as the Army Base Area, enclosed within an arc lying generally three and a half miles inland from the gulf's shores. Later moved forward with the advance, this line also marked the rear boundaries of the two corps' areas of continued logistical responsibility.
Within the Army Base Area, Army Service Command was responsible for traffic control, discharge and beach operations, road and bridge maintenance, airfield construction, and all other construction except that assigned to the 5202d Engineer Construction Brigade, which continued to operate directly under Sixth Army control. Establishing
its headquarters at Mangaldan, Army Service Command took over the control of all other service units in the base area. Most of its operational functions, except for airfield construction, it delegated to Base M, which set up headquarters at San Fabian, with subbases at Dagupan and Port Sual. Shore party operations now centralized at Headquarters, 4th Engineer Special Brigade. On 29 January, meeting its target date, Army Service Command assumed responsibility for dispersal, issue, storage, and delivery of all Sixth Army supplies, responsibilities thus far resting with the two corps and other units.
Until 13 February logistical operations remained under the control of Sixth Army, functioning through Army Service Command. On that date, as planned, the Services of Supply, Southwest Pacific Area, took over. Somewhat reorganized, Army Service Command's headquarters was redesignated Headquarters, Luzon Base Section, in which capacity it continued in control of logistical operations on Luzon. Base M was transferred to the control of the Luzon Base Section, which also controlled other bases later established on Luzon. Still later, Luzon Base Section was redesignated Philippine Base Section, in which role it co-ordinated most Services of Supply activities throughout the archipelago.
The Sixth Army's G-4, Col. William N. Leaf, had viewed the decentralized logistical control that existed before Army Service Command took over on 19 January with some misgivings. He realized that completely centralized control neither could nor should be established during the initial phases of an amphibious operation, but he was pleased when the service command organized centralized cargo discharge and reported:
Centralized operation of cargo discharge should be effected at the earliest practicable time. This permits Army, the best judge of . . . requirements, to put the weight of effort where it belongs. . . . tonnages will be increased under early centralized control, and tactical units, thus released, will be enabled to devote themselves to the tactical situation.23
By coincidence, and apparently only by coincidence, the discharge rate at Lingayen Gulf jumped as soon as Army Service Command took over unloading control. Slowed by adverse surf conditions and the other difficulties that hampered unloading, discharge at the Lingayen beaches totaled some 20,000 dead-weight tons of bulk cargo by evening on 18 January as opposed to a scheduled total of 26,000 tons. The actual rate caught up with and surpassed the planned rate within the next week and continued to exceed estimates thereafter.
Colonel Leaf likewise welcomed Army Service Command's assumption of additional logistical burdens on 29 January:
. . . the issue of supplies should [also] be centralized at the earliest practicable date. The early grouping of supply responsibilities will do much to prevent waste of rations and unnecessary dispersion of ammunition.24
In this connection, of course, it is necessary to note that Leaf was thinking in terms of the Allied air superiority that existed at Lingayen Gulf on and after 9 January. This superiority permitted an early centralization of supply dumps
that, under other circumstances, might have proved extremely dangerous.
In regard to the logistical command established at Lingayen Gulf, Colonel Leaf stated that Army Service Command
. . . was an unnecessary link in the chain of command and that Base M could have supplied the same logistic support. Since there was only one base [during the drive to Manila], the use of [Army Service Command] interposed another headquarters between the units to be served and Sixth Army.25
While Leaf's views on the existence of two supply headquarters at Lingayen Gulf seem logical, it is possible that the Sixth Army G-4 did not know all the circumstances that led to their creation. For example, it was the consensus at GHQ SWPA and Headquarters, Services of Supply, that the Services of Supply could not spare any officers of the caliber required for the logistical command in the large-scale operation at Lingayen Gulf. Accordingly, Maj. Gen. Hugh J. Casey, formerly Chief Engineer, GHQ SWPA, was selected for that command. Since it was not desired to restrict Casey's activities and talents to the relatively limited role of a base commander, he had been appointed to the higher level of Army Service Command.26 In any case, the Services of Supply would have had to create some co-ordinating headquarters such as the Army Service Command when bases in addition to Base M were established on Luzon. Nevertheless, activation of Headquarters, Army Service Command, probably could have waited.
Sixth Army itself promoted some decentralization, keeping the 5202d Engineer Construction Brigade under the control of the Engineer, Sixth Army, rather than passing it to the control of Army Service Command. The Engineer's reason was that the brigade's operations--primarily road and bridge construction and maintenance--had to be so closely tied in with those of the combat units that it was necessary for the Sixth Army to control the brigade directly.27
Colonel Leaf's criticisms of decentralization and of the logistical command system at Lingayen Gulf were almost identical with remarks he had made on the same subjects after the Leyte operation.28 At Leyte decentralization had lasted even longer than at Lingayen Gulf, and an Army Service Command-Base K organization that had functioned at Leyte was an exact parallel of the Army Service Command-Base M established at Lingayen Gulf. Yet, whatever the defects of the system at both Leyte and Luzon, the system worked. It might well have been accomplished with less "red tape" under another system, but that the organization was considered to have considerable merit, at least by GHQ SWPA and the Services of Supply, is illustrated by the fact that it was also slated to be employed during the invasion of Japan.
1. The principal sources used for this section and its subsections are: III Amphib Force Rpt Luzon, pp. 12-14; ibid., Encl A, Intel, pp. 1-2; ibid., Encl C, Logistics, p. 3; TG 79.1 Lingayen Gulf Rpt, pp. 12-13, 16-17; TG 79.2 Lingayen Gulf Rpt, pp. 10-15, 31-33, 38-40; TG 79.3 Lingayen Gulf Rpt, pp. 1, 6-7, 11; TG 79.4 Lingayen Gulf Rpt, pp. 6-12, 19-28; TG 79.6 Lingayen Gulf Rpt, pp. 6-9; VII Amphib Force Rpt Luzon, pp. 4-5, 17, 27-30; TG 78.5 Lingayen Gulf Rpt, pp. 6-7; 4th ESB Rpt Luzon, pp. 6-8, 11-22; I Corps Amphib Off, Lingayen Gulf Rpt, atchd to 3d ESB Rpt, Jan 45, pp. 3, 8, 10-12; 37th Inf Div Rpt Luzon, pp. 19-21, 192-95; 544th EB&SR Hist, 1 Feb 43-1 Feb 46, I, 21-24; 594th EB&SR Rpt Lingayen Gulf, 24 Nov 44-13 Feb 45, pp. 4-9; 533d EB&SR Rpt Lingayen Gulf, pp. 6-9; 543d EB&SR Rpt M-I Opn, pp. 7-22; 543d EB&SR Rpt on M-I Opn Through S Plus 3, pp. 1-7.
2. Admiral Barbey, commanding the VII Amphibious Force, believed that sufficient information, properly interpreted, had been available to disclose the shoal well before the landings. Barbey Comments, 14 Apr 57.
3. By naval designation, the proper spelling for ponton in ponton cubes is pontoon. For the sake of consistency, the Army spelling ponton is employed in this volume.
4. Barbey Comments, 14 Apr 57.
5. As reported in 1945. The author examined the beaches in April 1957 and found no dunes as much as ten feet high, while in many places the dunes were scarcely three feet high.
6. Additional information on XIV Corps beach operations is from: TU 79.4.1 Rpt Lingayen Gulf, pp. 2-3; ibid., Encl K, Transportation Div 10 Beachmaster Rpt, pp. 1-3; TU 79.4.3 Rpt Lingayen Gulf, p. 8; ibid., Encl B, Transportation Div 30 Beachmaster Rpt, pp. 3-4; TU 79.6.1 Rpt Lingayen Gulf, Encl A, Transportation Div 8 Beachmaster Rpt, pp. 2-3; TU 79.3.2 Rpt Lingayen Gulf, p. 2; TU 79.3.3 Rpt Lingayen Gulf, pp. 17, 21-22.
7. Additional information on the I Corps-VII Amphibious Force beach operations is from: TU 78.1.2 Rpt Lingayen Gulf, pt. I, pp. 3-4, 24-26; TU 78.1.21 Rpt Lingayen Gulf, pp. 15-16; TU 78.1.23 Rpt Lingayen Gulf, pp. 3-7; TU 78.5.3 Rpt Lingayen Gulf, pp. 1-4; TU 78.5.4 Rpt Lingayen Gulf, pp. 10-11; ibid., Encl F, Rpt of Transport Div 32 Beachmaster.
8. Additional information on unloading the Sixth Army Reserve is from: VII Amphib Force Rpt Luzon, p. 17; 534th EB&SR Rpt, 11 Jan-13 Feb 45, pp. 2-4; 25th Inf Div Rpt Luzon, pp. 13-14; TG 77.9 Rpt Lingayen Gulf, Encl F, Comments on Loading, pp. 1-3.
9. VII Amphib Force Rpt Luzon, p. 30.
10. Comments of General Walter Krueger, 18 Dec 56.
11. The general sources for this section and its subsections are: Sixth Army Rpt Luzon, I, 139-42, 152; ibid., III, 56-58, 113-14, 169, 243; ibid., IV, 8, 28-29, 34, 43, 80; Army Service Command (ASCOM) Rpt Luzon, 26 Dec 44-13 Feb 45, pp. 11-18, 22-23, 39; 5202d Engr Constr Brig Rpt Luzon, pp. 23-29, 54-56; I Corps Rpt Luzon, pp. 168, 195; 37th Div Rpt Luzon, pp. 19, 25, 193-96, 209-10, 303; 6th Div Rpt Luzon, p. 6; 6th Div G-4 Rpt Luzon, p. 15; 6th Engr Bn Rpt Luzon, p. 15; 43d Div G-4 Rpt Luzon, pp. 3-7, 18; 117th Engr Bn Rpt, 8 Jan-4 Feb 45, pp. 1-2.
12. To bypass other destroyed bridges in its zone, the 37th Division sent its artillery and tanks south over roads in the I Corps area, routing them via Calasiao, Santa Barbara, Balingueo, and then back into the XIV Corps zone at San Carlos and Malasiqui.
13. Sixth Army Rpt Luzon, IV, 29. (Italics supplied.)
14. Sixth Army Rpt Luzon, IV, 43; Rad, Krueger to MacArthur, WL-235, 19 Jan 45, Sixth Army G-3 Jnl File Luzon, 18-20 Jan 45; Rad, MacArthur to Kenney, Krueger, and Kinkaid, CAX-50069, 20 Jan 45, Sixth Army G-3 Jnl File Luzon, 20-22 Jan 45.
15. See, inter alia, Rad, Sixth Army, GHQ SWPA, WL-670, 25 Jan 45, Sixth Army G-3 Jnl File Luzon, 25-26 Jan 45.
16. Sixth Army Rpt Luzon, III, 58.
17. Col Ingomar M. Oseth, Hq AGF, Observer's Rpt on Opn of the Sixth Army, SWPA, 26 Nov 44-27 Feb 45, 10 Apr 45, p. 3.
18. In addition to the sources cited in note 8, this subsection is also based on: 308th Bombardment Wing (H) Rpt Luzon, 1 Jan-28 May 45, pp. 4-9; Maj. Charles W. Boggs, Jr., USMC, Marine Aviation in the Philippines (Washington: Historical Division, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps, 1951) (the USMC's official history), pp. 66-67, and n. 160, p. 105; Craven and Cate, AAF V, pp. 416-18.
19. The story of the mat unloading difficulty is to be found in an exchange of radios among Sixth Army, XIV Corps, I Corps, and the Luzon Attack Force in the Sixth Army G-3 Journal Files Luzon, 11-13 and 13-15 January 45.
20. Further information on the selection of the second site is derived from Rads, I Corps to Sixth Army, RM-69 and 2150, 11 Jan 45, Sixth Army G-3 Jnl File Luzon, 11-13 Jan 45.
21. According to Boggs, op. cit., p. 67 and n. 160, p. 105, Col. Clayton C. Jerome, USMC, commanding Marine aviation on Luzon, had a large if not decisive share in locating the Mangaldan strip.
22. In addition to his other duties, Colonel Jerome became the 308th's base commander at the Mangaldan strip.
23. Sixth Army Rpt Luzon, III, 58.
24. Ibid., III, 169.
25. Ibid., III, 58.
26. Chamberlin Comments, 20 Jan 57.
27. Interv, author with Lt Gen Samuel D. Sturgis, USA, Ret., formerly Engineer, Sixth Army, 8 Feb 57.
28. Sixth Army Rpt Leyte, pp. 206, 220, 243.