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December 29, 2017

Lt. Grant Wilcox's Report on the 1st Batangas Regiment, June 1946

The Fil-American Irregular Troops or FAIT was organized by the retired US Army officer Hugh Straughn after the surrender of American forces to the Japanese in 1942. The FAIT would become a large organization with various units operating in many parts of Luzon, including Batangas. The 1st Batangas Regiment was one of these, supposedly founded by one Major Gutierrez in 1943. Upon the major’s capture by the Japanese, command of the unit was assumed by one Maximo Bool of Pallocan in the then-town of Batangas. In this document1, one Lt. Grant Wilcox of the US Army filed an investigative report on the 1st Batangas Regiment in relation to the guerrilla outfit’s request for official recognition.

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4 June 1946

Report on the 1st Batangas Regiment, Fil-American
Irregular Troops

In compliance with instructions from the Chief of Branch, Guerrilla Affairs Branch, G-3, AFWESPAC, Lt. Grant S. Wilcox contacted the guerrilla organization known as 1st Batangas Regiment, Fil-American Irregular Troops, Pallocan, Batangas, Batangas, and a report thereon is submitted.

HISTORY

The Batangas Unit of FAIT, now known as the 1st Batangas Regiment, Fil-American Irregular Troops, was formed in February 1943 as a part of [the] FAIT under the command of Col. Straughn. The Batangas Unit was commanded by a Major Gutierrez who surrendered to the Japanese with 50 of his men in Sept. 1943. 1st Lt. Maximo C. Bool assumed command, but the organization split into several small units that operated under cover in neighboring communities. In January 1944, a small transmitter was placed in operation and contacts were made with guerrillas in Mindoro. The unit as a whole had been instructed to “lay low” from September 1943 until the Americans arrived. Bool and his radio operator were apprehended, tortured and released in April 1944. The Japs had learned of their radio and that several men were circulating news of the Allies’ war progress.

A Col. Balagtas of PQOG enlisted some of the men during October 1944. Because Balagtas was better armed, Bool made a semi-arrangement with the PWOG.

There was no regular attachment with the U.S. Army Forces. Guides and interpreters volunteered individually and aided American units. During May 1945, several patrols of 15 to 30 men went after Japanese stragglers. Arms and ammunition for such patrols were supplied by U.S. Army units. At the present time, about half of the men are employed by Su-Base R. These men secured their jobs individually.

FINDINGS

The following named persons are those interviewed by the contact team and their statements are the basis for the findings:

1. Maximo C. Bool – Lt. Col. CO of the Regt and also CO of the 1st Bn.
2. Florentino de la Peña – Ex O of the Regt and also CO of the 2nd Bn.
3. Rafael R. Beltran – Maj., Ex O of 1st Bn.
4. Remigio L. Perez – Capt in subject unit
5. Eleuterio Cannent – 1st Lt., Propaganda Officer
6. Emiliano T. Quinto – 1st Lt., in subject unit
7. Jacinto Gupit – 1st Lt., in subject unit
8. Balvino Villena – T/Sgt in subjecdt unit
9. Aurelio Macatangay – S/Sgt in subject unit
10. Manuel Lopez – Pvt in subject unit

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11. Placido Briones – Sgt in subject unit
12. Potenciano Marquez – Sgt in subject unit
13. Severo Cueto – Pvt in subject unit
14. Calixto Agtay – Pvt in subject unit
15. Bonifacio Araullo – Alias Maj. Gen. Bays, claims to have succeeded Col. Hugh Straughn as overall commander of FAIT.
16. Eliseo M. Zagala – Justice of the Peace, Batangas, Batangas.
17. Apolinario R. Corpus – Chief of Police, Batangas, Batangas

When this unit was investigated for recognition in August 1945, they claimed to be battalion strength with 507 officers and EM. The unit was not favorably considered for recognition. An additional roster was submitted in January 1946 with a request for recognition in which the unit had reorganized into a regiment of two battalions with a total of 934 officers and EM. In accordance with the addition of members to the roster and setting up a regimental organization, many of the officers now claim a higher rank. The unit commander, Maximo Bool, was a major in the roster submitted last summer and now claims the rank of Lt. Col. under the regimental organization.

There is no evidence to show that the unit ever actually existed in the form of a battalion or regimental organization. There appears to be more disorganization than organization. The lack of organization starts at the top where Maximo Bool and Florentino de la Peña, commanding officers of the 1st and 2nd Bns., are also commanding officer and executive officer, respectively, of the regiment.

The members of the unit reside in a sector that includes six small barrios east of the town of Batangas. The terrain is extremely rugged and travel very difficult. According to de la Peña, it takes two days by foot between some of the barrios. The unit was made up of a group of small coordinated bands according to the leaders. They admit that there was little communication between the various bands.

Other than for a few points on which they had been coached, the enlisted men showed great ignorance of the unit’s organization, strength, objective, and activities.

The unit showed recommendations form Sub-Base R, 2nd Bn, 158th Regt., and 382nd AAA AW Bn., but they were for information volunteered and of the reliability of the guards and laborers which the unit supplied. Bool even produced a letter of recommendation from an officer in the Sub Base R Finance Office where his daughter is employed. The officer who submitted the recommendation arrived in the Philippine Islands in March 1946, knowing nothing about Philippine guerrilla activities and wrote the recommendation solely out of friendliness.

In May 1945, 15 to 30 went out and hunted down some reported isolaed Jap stragglers. The arms and ammunition were secured from a U. S. Army outfit for the purpose. Neither the unit nor any part of it, as such, was ever attached to any U.S. outfit. About 50 of the men on the rosters have been recognized with the Blue Eagle Regiment.

The chief of police and the justice of the peace in Batangas were interviewed as to their knowledge of the unit. They knew Bool

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to have been a guerrilla leader, but knew nothing about the unit. Bonifacio Araullo, alias Maj. Gen. Bays, recommended the unit for recognition, but could not offer acceptable evidence of any determined value.

The unit leaders claim to have highly bolstered the morale of the people in the Batangas sector with their news propaganda dissemination. But on further investigation, the intelligence work and the propaganda work of the unit was on a rather small scale by a few members. The propaganda officer, Eleuterio Cannent, who was in charge of radio listening and news distribution, obviously had a good technical knowledge of radio. He is now operating a radio repair shop in the town of Batangas and a branch shop in Manila.

The members followed the “lay low” policy, lived at home and carried on their normal civilian pursuits. Most of them were potters, fishermen and farmers.

POLITICAL ASPECT

This unit has no apparent political affiliations or aspirations.

RECOMMENDATIONS

After careful s tudy of the records and individuals concerned, and in view of the findings included, it is recommended that the 1st Batangas Regiment, Fil-American Irregular Troops, be not favorably considered for recognition.

[Sgd.] GRANT S. WILCOX
2nd Lt., Inf.
Contact Team #10


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Notes and references:

1 “First Batangas Regt, FAIT,” File No. 110-60, online at the United States National Archives.


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