May 21, 2018

More about Base R, an American Logistics Base in Batangas City in WWII

The US Army Signal Corps tent quarters, Base R, Batangas 1945.  Image source:  United States National Archives.  Colorized courtesy of Algorithmia.
The US Army Signal Corps tent quarters, Base R, Batangas 1945.  Image source:  United States National Archives.  Colorized courtesy of Algorithmia.
[Keywords: Batangas City, Base R, United States Army, Historical Data, Barrio Santa Clara, Hilltop, Mainaga Cove, military logistics]
In the “historical data1” of Santa Clara in present-day Batangas City is written this bit of information about American operations in the barrio presumably in 1945:
“When the American liberation forces came, they occupied some parts of the barrio, like the school compound. Heavy artillery guns were placed in the different points of the barrio. A Red Cross camp was established at the entrance of the barrio to aid both American soldiers and civilians. Soon, all the people came back and began making temporary shelters with all available surplus materials that the American soldiers gave away to the homeless population. With this assistance, the barrio was gradually constructed. The pier was rebuilt, this time to serve the American forces.”
Meanwhile, at the United States National Archives, there sits two reasonably-sized digitized photo albums of American personnel in the then-town of Batangas towards the end and immediately after World War II. Most of the captions were cursorily written and gave little in terms of relevant information. There was something in common, however, about most of these: they said that the pictures were taken at a Base R in the town of Batangas.

Obviously, the question that begs to be answered is if the operations that the Americans set up during and after liberation the “historical data” of Santa Clara were being conducted from this so-called Base R. In other words, was this Base R in that barrio?

The web site Pacific Wrecks, which has content dedicated to the World War II Pacific Theatre as well as the Korean and Vietnam wars2, says that Base R was one of several so-called “letter bases” which where the “major area commands” in the Central and South Pacific presumably of Allied or American Forces fighting in World War II3.

Moreover, Pacific Wrecks says that Base R was located along Batangas Bay and that it was a “sub-base controlled by Base M.” Base M was in San Fernando (Pampanga) and after liberation was supposed to have been “developed into a major American staging base and camp area4.”

In his book published 2002, Gordon L. Rottman5 called these “letter bases” as “major logistics bases” established by the United States Army and named three of these: Base M at Lingayen Gulf (not quite San Fernando but still in Central Luzon), Base X in Manila and, of course, Base R in Batangas. Rottman did not mention anything about Base R being a “sub-base.”
A ship docked at the newly reconstructed pier.  Image source:  United States National Archives.  Colorized courtesy of Algorithmia.
A ship docked at the newly reconstructed pier.  Image source:  United States National Archives.  Colorized courtesy of Algorithmia.
In a military sense, logistics deal with “the discipline of planning and carrying out the movement and maintenance of military forces6.” These include, among others, the acquisition and disposal of materials necessary to military operations; transport of personnel; construction and maintenance of facilities and provision of services, including medical and health.

In other words, military logistics especially for a war effort such as those required by the United States Army in the Philippines in 1945 would have been huge, and probably was not limited to Barrio Santa Clara alone. The placement of artillery guns, the building of a pier and the setting up of a Red Cross hospital might have been in Santa Clara, but the base must have been large to accommodate all the personnel and equipment that the Americans needed in 1945 to finally rid the Philippines of Japanese control.

In fact, the digitized pictures at the United States National Archives provide a hint about the extent of the base: hospital tents, troops’ quarters a 10,000 drum supply tank (either for potable water or oil) and seaside operations. The Red Cross Club was located at the area which people in Batangas still call “Hilltop” to this very day; while another picture showed a shot of the base from Mainaga Cove, which is not even in Batangas City but in Bauan.
For a collection of pictures taken at Base R, see: “US Army Signal Corps Pictures while in Batangas City Post-World War II.”
Below are two more pictures taken of Base R by the United States Signal Corps.
Enlisted men's tent quarters, Base R 1945.  Image source:  United States National Archives.  Colorized courtesy of Algorithmia.
Enlisted men's tent quarters, Base R 1945.  Image source:  United States National Archives.  Colorized courtesy of Algorithmia.
Entrance to the 237th Station of Base R, 1945.  Image source:  United States National Archives.  Colorized courtesy of Algorithmia.
Entrance to the 237th Station of Base R, 1945.  Image source:  United States National Archives.  Colorized courtesy of Algorithmia.
Notes and references:
1Historical Data” refers to documents required by the administration of President Elpidio Quirino in 1951 of Department of Education districts around the country to reconstruct local histories destroyed in World War II.
2, “Pacific Wrecks Mission,” online at Pacific Wrecks.
3US Army Letter Bases,” online at Pacific Wrecks.
4San Fernando,” online at Pacific Wrecks.
5World War II Pacific Island Guide: A Geo-military Study,” by Gordon L. Rottman, published 2002 in Westport, CT.
6Military logistics,” Wikipedia.

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