The Philippines--LINGAYEN GULF
OBJECTIVES OF LINGAYEN OPERATION
The prompt seizure of the Central Luzon area, destruction of its defense forces, thus depriving the enemy of the northern entrance to the South China Sea, as well as the securing of bases for further operations against the Japanese were the main objectives of the Lingayen Gulf operations. Establishment of a beachhead was to be followed by an advance through
U.S. PROGRESS ASHORE
LUZON AND MINDORO
31 JANUARY 1945
the central plains to Manila. S-day was set for 9 January, 1945. The presence of the Third Fleet in the waters east of the Philippines, following the victory in the Battle for Leyte Gulf, as well as that of our submarines in the waters west of Luzon, made any sortie of Japanese Navy units in this region very hazardous. In the air, our land-based planes from Mindoro, Leyte, Morotai and Angaur along with carrier-based planes of the Third and Seventh Fleet gave us a preponderance of air superiority. While enemy strength on Luzon was estimated at 150,000 on 1 January, the 35,000 troops in the immediate vicinity of Lingayen Gulf were found to be mostly in the hills of the north and east. We were to land 68,500 troops on S-day, bringing the total to 162,250 by the end of January. Cooperating with these would be numerous guerrilla forces on Luzon.
NATURE OF TERRAIN
The entire inner end of Lingayen Gulf is bordered by sandy beaches, within a rectangular gulf area 20 miles wide and 30 miles long. The beaches have such a gradual slope that pontoon causeways are usually necessary for LST's to unload. Certain beaches at San Fabian, however, were suitable for dry-ramp beaching of LST's and this speeded up unloading. Beach defenses were weak and very few mines were found. The January season was the driest of the year and the flooding which would have been met in the rainy season from the many lagoons running parallel to the landing beaches was reduced to a minimum. The landing beaches were located on the south and southeast shores of Lingayen Gulf, one group being opposite the town of Lingayen and others on both sides of San Fabian.
Task Force 77 under the command of Vice Admiral T. C. Kinkaid (Commander Seventh Fleet) was organized into 10 groups including Flag Bombardment and Fire Support, Close Covering, Escort Carrier, CVE-DE Hunter Killer, Minesweeping and Hydrographic, Screening, Salvage and Rescue, Reinforcement, and Service. Task Force 78 under Vice Admiral D. E. Barbey constituted the San Fabian Attack Force, while the Lingayen Attack Force (Task Force 79) was under Vice Admiral T. S. Wilkinson. All groups used the same general route of approach, through Surigao Strait, the Mindanao Sea, and the Sulu Sea, passing west of Negros, Panay and Mindoro, thence well off-shore to the west of Luzon, entering Lingayen Gulf on southeasterly courses. Advanced forces were divided into two main groups, each comprising 6 carriers, with an equal proportion of heavy ships and screen. They made a daylight passage of Surigao Strait on 3 January and an unsuccessful suicide attack was made that evening on the carrier Makin Island. Next day the carrier Ommaney Bay was hit by a suicide plane in the Sulu Sea, while its planes were fully gassed and armed. Explosions and fires followed and the ship had to be abandoned and sunk. On the 5th, during a raid outside Mindoro Strait, six suicide planes hit and damaged six of our vessels including two carriers. On the morning of the 6th all advanced groups reached the Lingayen Gulf area. The Attack Forces (Task Forces 78 and 79) were divided into two main convoys each covered by two carriers, as well as land-based fighter cover and also by anti-submarine patrols until after passage through Mindoro Strait. During the afternoon of the 5th a Japanese midget submarine missing Boise (CL) with two torpedoes, was rammed and probably sunk. Another submarine fired at an LST unit. Suicide dives in the Sulu Sea were made on an LST on the 7th.
COAST GUARD MANNED INVASION TRANSPORT Callaway (APA-35)
COAST GUARD MANNED USS CALLAWAY HIT
At dawn on the 8th another enemy attack developed and the carrier Kadashan Bay and the transport Callaway (Coast Guard manned) were hit. Both ships continued in formation. The attack took place about 35 miles from shore and 60 miles from Manila off the West Coast of Luzon. Two Japanese planes had previously fallen before the guns of the Callaway. It was the third that now was downed but in falling scored a searing blow in the super-structure of the transport. The attack killed several members of the crew instantly and started a blaze on the starboard side of the super-structure which turned men into human torches. Flames leaped to the top of the stack and shot down toward the engine room through a ragged hole in the upper fiddley. Men jumped up, others jumped down, they ran and they rolled on the deck trying to escape the flames and put out the fire on their own clothes and skin. The blaze was quickly brought under control. There were nearly 50 casualties.
LEONARD WOOD AT LINGAYEN
On 30 December, 1944 the Coast Guard manned USS Leonard Wood sailed from Sansapor, New Guinea in company with Task Group 78.5 for the capture and occupation of Lingayen Gulf Area. Embarked were 6th Division units and other Army elements totaling 95 Army officers and 992 enlisted men together with 457 short tons of cargo. The convoy was attacked several times and the Wood assisted in the destruction of one Japanese plane. Arriving at Lingayen on 9 January, the transport unloaded all troops and supplies and departed on the same day in Task Group 79.14.1 for Leyte.
USS CAMBRIA UNDER ATTACK
As flagship of ComTransRon 12, the Coast Guard manned USS Cambria (APA-36) carried 52 officers and 545 enlisted men of Headquarters Company, 108 Infantry Regiment and other units of the 40th Division, to Lingayen Gulf as a member of Task Group 79.2. On the trip to Lingayen Gulf the crew had their first experience with suicide plane attacks, and witnessed the successful Japanese attack on the CVE Kitkun Bay and USS Columbia. It was practically a continuous air raid alert during January 9 and 10 when the Cambria was engaged in landing troops at Lingayen. Early the first day a single bomb was dropped 100 yards astern and an hour later three bombs fell in the vicinity of the ship. An assist was scored by the 1.1's in the latter instance. Early the following day the 1.1's scored another assist on an enemy plane which dropped bombs off the starboard quarter, and astern. Personnel performance of the crew was excellent and upon completion of the mission the Cambria departed for Leyte. She arrived again at San Fabian with the 1st Lingayen Reinforcement Group on the 27th. En route the LSD Shadwell had been hit by a torpedo from a Japanese plane and sent back to Leyte.
After their arrival on schedule at the selected transport areas in lower Lingayen Gulf, snips of the Attack Force began debarkation of troops in LVT's and other landing craft at 0715 on 9 January. The first waves landed under cover of a heavy bombardment at 0930. The beach positions were not manned by the enemy at Lingayen. Opposition was negligible. At San Fabian beaches sporadic mortar and artillery fire began at about 1000 and caused some damage and casualties to landing craft until they were silenced. LVT's, DUKW's and self-propelled
COAST GUARD MANNED LST'S ARE AMONG THE FIRST TO DROP THEIR RAMPS AT MANILA AFTER AMERICAN FORCES HAD DRIVEN THE JAPS FROM THE CAPITAL CITY OF THE PHILIPPINES
pontoon barges were used to unload the larger transports and many were ready to leave at the end of S-day in a fast convoy. From then until 12 January, a fast and a slow convoy left each day as the rest of the ships were unloaded. Despite smoke screens laid at sunrise and sunset to protect transports, suicide planes damaged several screening vessels on the 10th and 12th and sunk an LCI(M) in the transport area, damaging seven others including a transport, two destroyers, three LST's and an LCI(G) which had to be abandoned. No ships were lost during the return trip to Leyte though three were damaged by suicide planes, one LST seriously.
SAN ANTONIO AND GRANDE ISLAND
About 35,000 troops were landed on 29 January, near San Antonio, fifteen miles northwest of Subic Bay to support the drive towards Manila. There was no opposition as guerillas were already in control of the area. Next day a battalion landed on Grande Island, a fortified island at the mouth of Subic Bay. Beach mechanisms from the heavy guns had been removed by our troops in 1942 and never replaced by the enemy, The troops which had landed at San Antonio the previous day had already reached Olongapo. The now beachhead was one of the few points where our troops could cross the Zamboles Mountains, a formidable barrier between the west coast of Luzon and interior provinces. The entire Subic Bay area was under our control by 1700 of 30 January.
CG MANNED CAVALIER TORPEDOED
On the morning of 30 January, the Coast Guard manned USS Cavalier, an auxiliary attack transport, in a return convoy from the San Antonio area was torpedoed at position 14°-48'N., 119°-18'E. off Subic Bay by a submarine. She was struck on the port side in the vicinity of the shaft alley. The transport did not sink and was towed to Leyte.
OUTFLANKS MANILA DEFENSE
On 31 January, a separate Attack Group landed troops off the 11th Air-borne Division at Nasugbu, south of the entrance to Manila Bay. The landings were made to outflank the troops defending Manila. There was no return fire after a short preliminary bombardment and the troops landed with light opposition which was quickly wiped out. The Attack Group consisted of CGC Spencer, 4 APD's, 35 LCI's, 8 LSM's, 6 DD's, 3 DE's and 27 miscellaneous small craft. After a 35 mile dash these troops reached the southern limits of Manila on 5 February. Meanwhile, units of the 37th Infantry Division continued their advance on Manila from the Northwest, as units of the First Cavalry Division of the Sixth Army entered the city from the northeast on the 3rd. The fall of Manila was formally announced on the 6th. In hailing the fall of Manila, General Douglas MacArthur spoke of it as "the end of one great phase of the Pacific struggle. We are well on our way, but Japan itself is our final goal."
THE USS SERPENS, A CARGO SHIP MANNED BY A COAST GUARD CREW, LOST AS THE RESULT OF ENEMY ACTION
JAPANESE Q-BOAT DESTROYS ITSELF IN ATTACK ON FS-309
The Coast Guard manned FS-309 was moored to the Wawa River Wharf, Nasugbu Bay on 14 February 1945, when at 0335 the stern gun watch observed a small boat approaching from astern, Shortly after mooring to the wharf on 8 February, a low-lying protective raft, improvised from heavy timbers, had been moved alongside on the port quarters to protect the vessel from possible attack by surface or subsurface craft. The craft was seen to turn to port, possibly to avoid the FS-309's kedge anchor line. Then it turned to starboard until headed directly for the FS-309. The blinker light was turned on the small boat and it was seen to contain three helmeted, green-uniformed Japanese soldiers. General quarters was immediately sounded, but before this state was reached, a terrific explosion took place. The smaller boat disappeared and a large quantity of water and sand was blown aboard the FS-309. The stall boat was a Q-boat which looked much like a Chris Craft pleasure boat but carried two depth charges, and attacked with suicidal intent. The fact that the boat unaccountably swung stern to the FS-309 and exploded before reaching its objectives, indicated that the attacking boat hit one of the underwater projections at the after outside corner of the raft. All personnel on the FS-309 was found to be safe. The water was pumped out of the after-crew's quarters and lazarette.
SINKING OF THE USS SERPENS
CG MANNED AMMUNITION SHIP LOST
The USS Serpens, a cargo snip manned by Coast Guard personnel, was sunk by an explosion on 29 January, 1945 while anchored off Lunga Beach, Guadalcanal. The explosion was possibly due to an enemy attack. The Serpens, a 14,250 ton ammunition ship, was loading depth bombs at the time. A number of other ships nearby were damaged in the explosion, which also caused some damage ashore. Thirteen officers and 193 crewmen, representing nearly the whole of the Serpens complement, were reported killed. The only survivors were 2 officers and 8 of the crew members, who were ashore at the time of the explosion. In addition, 57 Army personnel including one officer, were killed. "As we headed our personnel boat shoreward" an eye-witness reported "the sound and concussion of the explosion suddenly reached us, and as we turned, we witnessed the awe-inspiring death drama unfold before us. As the report of screeching shells filled the air and the flash of tracers continued, the water splashed throughout the harbor as the shells hit. We headed our boat in the direction of the smoke and as we came into closer view of what had once been a ship, the water was filled only with floating debris, dead fish, torn life jackets, lumber and other unidentifiable objects. The smell of death, and fire, and gasoline, and oil was evident and nauseating. This was sudden death, and horror, unwanted and unasked for, but complete,"
CGC INGHAM AT MARIVELES
An amphibious operation staged from Olongapo landed elements of the 38th Division at Mariveles Harbor on the southern tip of Bataan Peninsula on 15 February, 1945. The landing was proceeded by extensive minesweeping
operations in which some 452 mines were cleared from a number of mine fields, the largest extending south from Caballo Island, A bombardment of enemy gun positions on Corregidor and on the mainland was laid down by five light cruisers and nine destroyers and the area was also heavily hit by Liberators and Bostons of the Far Eastern Air Force, The assault craft (Task Group 78.3) included CGC Ingham, 6 LCI(L)'s, 5 LST's, 6 LCT's, 20 LSM's and 25 LCM's, while 2 PC's, 6 LCI(R)'s, and 6 LCS(L)ęs provided inshore support. The convoy was escorted by six destroyers. The CGC Ingham served as flagship for the Task Group. Fire was received from the north coast of Corregidor four rounds landing in the water in the transport area and causing several casualties to personnel in LCP(R), embarked from APD's. The enemy batteries were silenced by our light cruisers and destroyers. The Ingham maintained a position during daylight hours at the entrance to Mariveles Harbor directing operations. The first waves hit the beach at the head of the harbor at 1000 and later waves unloaded at several other points along the shores of the harbor. Our troops quickly seized the Mariveles airstrip and fanned out north, east and west. On the 16th we secured the Mariveles Harbor by capturing Cochinos Point, dominating the western entrance.
CORREGIDOR TAKEN BY AIR AND SEA
On the 16th the Ingham again took her station at the entrance to Mariveles Harbor, after having stood to seaward during the night. During the night enemy suicide boats had sunk three LSI(G)'s guarding the harbor entrance. At 0835 the Ingham commenced standing for Black (San Jose) beach, on the south side of Corregidor in the van of the Corregidor Attack Group. Paratroops commenced dropping on Corregidor at 0840, after an hour of heavy air strikes. At 1005 the Ingham took station about 3,500 yards off San Jose Beach and commenced directing landing operations. The first wave landed at 1039 with light opposition. By 1150 the beachhead had been established and secured. Within 24 hours our troops had split the island in two from north to south against resistance that, while still effective, showed signs of stiffening. The Japanese defenders, broken up into isolated pockets, and with all means of escape cut off, fought desperately with automatic weapons and small arms. The east entrance of the tunnel under Malinta Hill was blocked by landslides caused by the pre-invasion bombardment with many Japanese thought to be trapped inside. A tunnel and several bunkers southeast of Rock Point were captured on the 19th. A Japanese suicide attack on the same day penetrated to the command post of the rocky plateau known as "Topside." Resistance continued until the end of February when more than 4,000 enemy dead had been counted.
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