A Narrative on WWII in Batangas by a US Army Signal Corps Operative - Batangas History, Culture and Folklore A Narrative on WWII in Batangas by a US Army Signal Corps Operative - Batangas History, Culture and Folklore

A Narrative on WWII in Batangas by a US Army Signal Corps Operative


The Lone Wolf Intelligence Unit was purportedly a guerrilla organization that operated out of the then-town of Lipa, Batangas. It was supposed to have been commanded by one Hermenegildo Lopez and supposedly affiliated with the Anderson’s Guerrillas of Bernard Anderson. This unit failed to get official recognition as an element of the Philippine Army in the service of the Armed Forces of the United States. However, a number of its members gained recognition as part of the “Anderson’s Guerrillas Batangas Military Chapter.” In this document1 is a narrative on guerrilla activities in Batangas filed by a Signal Corps Service operative with the initials E. C. H., likely the Sgt. Edie [most likely Eddie] Holgado mentioned in the documents on the Radio Detachment C-U-P of the Anderson’s Guerrillas. This document is included among the files submitted by Hermenegildo L. Lopez, alleged commander of the Lone Wolf Intelligence Unit, to the US Army as part of its application for official recognition. It is not clear from the narrative what direct relevance it has to the Lone Wolf Unit’s operations, but it is included, nonetheless, in this section for its historical value.

Guerrilla Files

[p. 1]

(My Copy)

Hermana A. Lacsamana November 29, 1945

On May 10, 1944, I boarded a plane at Brisbane, Australia to carry out military instructions somewhere in the Philippines. In my air trip, I was a little air sick, yet deep in my heart etched a feeling of joy for it marked the beginning of my most covered desire. Desire to fight the common enemy, with sheer and firm determination and willingness to share the democratic world in the destruction of the so-called Asiatic New Order.

We landed at Darwin the next day about eleven o’clock. A truck waiting took us to a wharf where a speed boat was ready. We were transported to an island quiet and peaceful with all the cautions to maintain security. The leader of our group divulged the true purpose of being in that island. Secrecy was one and wait for the submarine to pick us up was the other. I observed in the group their pleasantness as if having cleared in their conscience a load. A load of defiance against all their causes which may prevent their anxiety for doing a noble task, for the Philippines and for humanity as a whole. We stayed four days in the dead lonely island. The submarine came and picked us up under the cover of darkness. In the submarine, we were quartered in a little compartment on top of the cargoes of supplies essential to our mission. We were too crowded and we could hardly squeeze from quarter to mess and from mess to quarter. We then satisfied ourselves lying down daydreaming and talking about experiences and everyday life. One day, in the midst of our pleasant conversation, we were told that the submarine would have a rendezvous. We realized for the first time that we were heading for trouble. We showed no sign of fear for after all, we were trained for that purpose. About one o’clock at night, we heard the order to battle stations. Everybody, it seemed, was tensed waiting for the hell if it was hell to come. Then came the fire orders. The torpedo crew efficiently manipulated the intricate machine and let loose the first baby, then the second, then the third, then the fourth, at very close intervals. We heard the explosions and one shouted they made a hit, sank two ships out of that convoy. We shifted our course and all of a sudden the submarine rocked as if hell broke loose. We were intercepted by a sub chaser and bit us depth charge. Between the devil and the deep blue sea, I prayed truly and sincerely. However, through the bravery and gallant leadership of the submarine Commander together with the unique cooperation of the crew, we were saved.

All was well. We had a very pleasant and thrilling trip until we hit Samar. Before the sub surfaced about nine o’clock at night, we were instructed on [a] fast and proficient way of unloading our equipment and supplies to ensure safety. Forty tons of cargo, I will say we managed successfully to unload from the submarine to the launch waiting for us in less than one hour.

The night was dark. The sound of the engine could be heard miles away. Luckily, the Japanese were far, they said. We could not land on account of the low tide. Yet, we could not sleep, knowing the place was Japanese-held territory. Morning came and the tide came up. We managed

[p. 2]

to land through a river leading to the interior.

I could not say the happiest moment of my life was that moment when [a] familiar scene was sighted. Coconut plantations, tropical atmosphere and the Philippines’ natural beauty. Happiness thrilled me and anxiety dominated. Who would not after an absence of sixteen years from the homeland? Yet, something ebbed my moments of joy. The sight of my people. They were poor, ragged and undernourished. To that pitiful condition, I bestowed them my highest respect for their willingness to offer their remaining strength to the Americans because of hatred. Hatred from the subjecting power of the Japanese, whose way of conversion was mass killing of innocent civilians, who satiated their lust for women, both young and old and whose principle was to deprive the native of their means of livelihood. In their thin pale face were traces of hatred for the Japanese and appeal to the Americans. Appeal to save them from the clutches of the enemy.

Such was the scene, the spark which kindled the hearts of us to blaze our way through, to carry on our mission. They invigorated our spirit of fearlessness, knowing that the success of our task would mean their immediate liberation.

On that morning, Col. Smith interviewed us mostly about our knowledge and of what we still remember of the Philippines. After the interview, we were grouped into two parties assigned on different parts of the islands. I was in a party destined for [the] Southern Tagalog provinces because I could speak the language fluently. We pulled out that same night at dark with the Colonel. When we were away from shore, Col. Smith gave us the final instructions.

With Lt. Stahl, Lt. Panopio, Sgts. Nery, Advincula, Montero and I took a sailboat headed for Southern Luzon. The sailboat was fully loaded with palay, equipment, arms and ammunition, so we contented ourselves and the boat crew on a small deck and top cover of boat, except Lt. Stahl, who stayed under cover for being conspicuous.

We had a thrilling and pleasant trip although we got jittery when we passed by Japanese ships. We barely passed Bondoc Peninsula in the southern tip of Tayabas province when we were chased by three Japanese sailboats.

It was late in the afternoon. The enemy sailboats tried to heed us on all directions. However, they could not make any headway for our sailboat was fast. We were ready, then, for any emergency. Nobody was excited. Lt. Stahl was always on his binoculars following every move of the enemy, while Lt. Panopio was giving instructions to the crew. Dark was fast approaching [and] the only chance of evading the enemy. We were far from our destination yet according to Lt. Stahl.

Night came. The sky was blanketed with dark clouds. Lt. Stahl ordered for a landing at any favorable spot. We were far from the enemy then. We sighted a cave with a river winding to the jungle. Luckily, the river was navigable so we went in until we could no longer.

[p. 3]

We were unaware of the place, whether it was a Japanese infested area or not, however we took the chance. We had a better ground of saving our valuable equipment and more so we could fight better on land than on sea. We stayed there until morning.

It was a bright sunny day. We unloaded our equipment, dispersed them in the jungle. An innocent looking man came up, paddling a banca. I approached him and talked to him out to telling the name of the place. He further informed us of the presence of Robles stationed somewhere up in the hill. We sent Sgt. Advincula to relieve Robles so we could talk to him.

Robles came and, incidentally, that place, so ideal for operation, was the place we were supposed to go. Also in came Lt. Bello with his courier and had a talk with Lt. Stahl. In that afternoon, Lt. Bello sailed with Sgt. Montero and Sgt. Advincula together with same radio and equipment, while the rest of us stayed. Robles took us to a place designated by him, for our station.

We established our station. Our sole job was to relay messages of some subordinate stations within Southern Tagalog and the vicinity of Manila to Col. Smith. Lt. Stahl did most of the operation while Nery and I assisted him in coding and decoding. Also, I took charge of [the] power supply for the operation. After two and a half months, we received a message for me to go out on a secret mission. The instruction was to get military information about [the] Lipa and Batangas airfields. He particularly emphasized the need of getting the inventory of planes, types and all, every tenth and twenty-fifth of the month. Also in [the] same instructions, I was to go to Batangas via Col. Anderson somewhere in Infanta.

Lt. Panopio and I sailed for Infanta. After a week battling the rough seas on a sailboat, we arrived [at] Pagbilao, Tayabas. With the aid of [a] map and compass and a guide, we travelled at night. Sometimes, we had to go through hills without trails so as to detour the Japanese concentrations. We arrived [at] Pigapi on the Sierra, one of Col. Anderson’s Command called Salt Military Area.

The camp was located way up in the mountain. It took us a good three hours to reach the camp. There was a handful of guerrillas under Lt. Bello. I talked to him and he told me that my order had been revoked, pending further orders. I set up my radio trying to contact Lt. Stahl for verification of my order, but I could not for my set was soaked with salt water. It would not function. I stayed there for weeks subsisting on boiled green bananas and camotes.

Lt. Labrador came with Sgt. Maneha, from Col. Anderson’s place. Two days later, we were informed of the coming of [the] Japanese on the beach. Lt. Panopio and Lt. Bello evacuated the place while Lt. Labrador, Sgt. Maneha and I organized the ambush party. We were to ambush the Japanese believing they were coming up. They did not come. They took our bancas and drum of gasoline and [a] few essentials, then left.

[p. 4]

Lt. Bello came back with his party so we decided to evacuate the place. With my radio set and [a] few essentials, we trailed the mountain, days and nights, until we came to Naga. From there, Lt. Panopio and I sailed for Col. Anderson.

We reached his H.Q. I went to see him for verification of my order. He told me he did not hear any answer yet from Col. Smith. He even asked for permission so he could have his technician repair my radio but Col. Smith did not acknowledge. I asked him for a new set. He willingly gave me a new one, together with S O I which explicitly implied that the information I would get should go to him. What else could I do? I had to do my job. I fully believed that whomever I furnished the information, as long as I earnestly did my duty, I could not be blamed.

We left Infanta for Batangas. We traveled again on sea and on land. It was [a] long stretch of traveling. It so happened that a group of fifteen guerrillas fully armed were going to Tayabas via the same trail. They knew the way well enough so we went with them. We hit San Rafael where we met two squadrons of Hukbalahap guerrillas. They were astonished at the sight of the equipment and arms with us. To guerrillas, modern weapons meant a great deal. We proceeded to Luisiana, a town in Laguna Province, till we came to a barrio called Igang. It was eleven o’clock in the morning when we arrived. The blistering heat forced us to stay for lunch. After lunch, we rested until about four o’clock in the afternoon. I talked to Commander Terry, the guerrilla leader, and extended my sincere thanks and cooperation. I asked him what time they would leave the place as soon as it got dark for the sake of security. He stayed while Lt. Panopio, Almera and I started for Batangas. We reached another about nine o’clock at night, and decided to rest. About four o’clock in the morning, I received a message that they were surprised by [the] raiding enemy. Thirteen men died, while the other two hardly escaped. They put up a good fight, but they ran short of ammunition.

I could not risk investigating the incident. I had too much to lose. I had valuable equipment and, more so, I had a mission to perform. I might be condemned of cowardice, but I had something to look forward to. That was the only alternative.

We arrived [at] Tiaong, Tayabas on my tenth day hike. I met Col. Ociano of the P.Q.O.G. guerrillas and requested for a guide to Lipa, Batangas. He stalled me for days on the ground of improper identity. I could not blame him doubting me. In the first place, I had no identification and also in those days, you could not tell who your enemy was. Sometimes, even people of your own descent turned out against you. On my third day, [a] report came that two hundred Japanese were on the way to his C.P. We lost no time for refuge. On our way along [a] winding trail in a coconut grove, we were intercepted by the enemy. Although we were outnumbered, we bravely fought. We could not retreat for the enemy had us pocketed. In that tight moment, I had only one alternative – blast my way through. With his permission and his fire support, I started with grenades here and there, followed by constant fire of my tommy supported by their automatic rifles. The enemy retreated.

[p. 5]

We made our escape. My carrier was hit in the arm, so I had to drag my radio set myself. I proceeded to Laiya.

I did not lose time establishing my station. I reported to my NCS my enemy encounter and also my location. Two days after, I went to Lipa. Dressed as [a] humble laborer, I passed through Japanese sentries. [The] Search was intensive and rough. With a bayonet pointed at my belly, hands in the air open, they roughly rampaged every part of my body. Only after a thorough and convincing search that you had nothing against them, they let you through. I stayed in Lipa for a while.

If there was really danger and nerve-racking venture, going to enemy installations and airfields was probably one of them. I could not get inside, however, I managed to get close enough to identify the types of planes, I was able to locate them, count them and how they were camouflaged after hazardous efforts. I located the gasoline dumps, ammunition depot, together with the quarters of Japanese Army personnel. With all those information, I lost no time reported them to my NCS. Because of the distance from Lipa to my station, I organized an intelligence net. I contacted Attorney Lopez of Lipa, a prominent influential citizen wholeheartedly pro-American to get me the information I needed. He willingly submitted himself and earnestly worked for me. We organized [an] intelligence net.

I instructed the types of information I wanted, accuracy and earnestness of the reports. I employed a runner so time won’ be wasted. I also had Lt. Panopio out there to verify the reports. From him, I got the plane time schedule of departure and arrival. Number of planes leaving and arriving. Also, I got reports [on] concentration of troops in the town proper, where they were quartered and exact location. Almost everybody’s reports arrived pertaining to Japanese military installations, ammunition dumps, gasoline and their exact locations. Day after day, I kept on sending my information.

My principal job then was to evaluate the intelligence information and to transmit them at an early possible time. Sometimes, I went out to verify some reports. Very seldom because I could not risk myself.

The first time when American bombers came, the bombed the airfield and inflicted considerable damage. I went out to do some underground work. I observed the Japanese move their planes from the airfield to coconut and coffee plantations and camouflaged them. I lost no time going to my radio station to report the Japanese tactical change. The next time the American bombers came, they bombed the coconut plantations and coffee plantations where those planes were hidden. They [were] damaged tremendously. The Japanese raised hell for they could not outwit the Americans.

I received a message for me to find the existence of the underground hunger [hangar] in Lipa. I went to Lipa and told Attorney Lopez to employ a worker in the airfield. He did, and from him, I had the information on the unfinished underground hunger [hangar?] which was later verified by an American.

[p. 6]

[Note: the beginning of the following sentence seems to have been missing from the original document.

escape from the concentration as I was in Lipa already. I took a chance of sneaking close to the runway. After incessant and painstaking labor, I was able to estimate the length, width and possibility of improving the runway. I reported all this information.

The Japanese became vigilant and very strict to civilians after the Americans partially destroyed Lipa and the airfields. I stayed most of the time in my station, evaluating and transmitting information coming in day after day. My information had covered Lipa and Batangas mostly about airfields, ammunition and gasoline depots, gun emplacements, radio stations, coasts, watchers and to my relief and satisfaction, those places were destroyed and demolished. I don’t claim that I was responsible for their destruction. Probably somebody else had reported the same but at least it was a blessing to know that my effort was not wasted. Or at least I helped a bit for their destruction.

When the Americans landed in Mindoro, I received instructions to watch troop movements and concentrations. I was also given a code to K A Z for any emergency report to minimize time.

The Japanese started killing civilians for no reason at all. I went to Lipa in spite of the risk and hazard, so I could instruct my operatives of the new setup. I told him to locate the concentration of troops in every town, strength and branch of service. I told him to report the dates of observations and any movements of troops observed must immediately be reported. I proceeded to Batangas to verify a certain report on coast battery. I was picked up by [the] Japanese while I was walking and [they] put me in a truck. We were then taken to Zaro-Zaro [Soro-Soro] hill to work on their military constructions, digging tunnels, dugouts, and tank traps. I was thankful that I was used to hard and manual labor otherwise they would have noticed my indifference. I fully had real information about their fortifications, gun emplacements and forces on Zaro-Zaro [Soro-soro] hill, which I sent immediately after I was released.

I stayed there for two weeks. Weeks of sacrificial hardships and forced labor. Sleepless nights and scanty food. Yet, I did all I could to satisfy those blundering idiots.

I went back to my radio station in the mountains, sending reports about the concentration of troops and strengths in the different towns. The fortifications in Macolot mountains and strength of troops within that area came to me in detail. I immediately sent them. The American bombers started pounding and blasting the same to a great extent. One day in the middle of January, while I was transmitting some messages, a rumor came to me and said Japanese patrols were coming. I hardly finished my messages, folded [the] set and moved. I left my antenna for I had no time to hurl it down.

My men and I hitched the mountain due southeast. About a kilometer away, we came to a house on the lower crest of the mountain. It was well hidden, being in the jungle except for a little clearing around the house

[p. 7]

where they raised palay and vegetables. We were hungry and tired so we stayed for lunch. It was noontime and the heat was so intense which inevitably forces us to rest a while after lunch. The humidity of the air lulled everyone into sleep, but I tried not to fall into it. Suddenly, the guard came and said the Japanese were on their way to the house about five hundred yards away. I looked out of the window and there I saw seven Japanese, all armed with rifles. We penetrated through thick jungles but the boys carrying my radio had a hard time going through, so I decided to stop and leave nature take its course.

I had a tommy, two carbines, two pistols, and a few hand grenades. I was, indeed, confident that we had a fighting chance. I was carrying the tommy guns and my boys were proficient in the use of their weapons after the training I gave them in their spare time. We were pretty well-deployed. I issued [the] order to fight to the last man if we had to. We could hear the Japanese searching around chattering like monkeys. My heart was beating fast. I said to myself that probably this would be my last. The Japanese put up a good intensive search but why we were not seen, only God knows. If there was really Lady Luck, I would positively say she was there. The Japanese went away without seeing us.

At eight o’clock in the evening, I sent out one man to the barrio to find if the enemy was gone. It did not take him long to find for after half an hour, he went back and said, “all clear.” So we went back to my former station. And to my surprise, my antenna was still there. I thought the Japanese found my antenna which gave them the lead to my presence.

I resumed my normal operations, evaluating reports constantly coming, and sending them to my N.C.S. I received a message from the G.H.Q. desiring verification and identification of an enemy 0 Pow the mountain by the side of Mabini.

I gave my boys a few days’ rest. I folded my radio set and hid it so that in my absence, if anything should happen, I had a fair chance of saving it. Honestly, I could not entrust it to anybody and I never would. I went out on that particular mission I [was] determined to evade the sentries because that time, the Japanese were vigilant, suspecting anybody. They were intolerant, violent and going to the extremities of their brutalities. I took a banca and traveled at night. When daybreak came, I hid the banca by the shore and stayed there till nightfall. I arrived at Mabini about ten o’clock at night. I met a priest whom I knew and he told me the presence of five hundred Japanese concentrated in that town. I asked him the name of the mountain but nobody seemed to know. I [was] determined to go up but he pleaded not to for the chance I would never come back. I asked for a good guide and he gave me one.

It was not a long way, yet it took me six hours of enduring patience and unending hardship, for I did not follow the trail leading to the enemy. Instead, I penetrated the thick non-trail jungles. While we’re close to the enemy, I could not observe we were on the lower slope. We

[p. 8]

silently crept and crawled until we got close enough to observe all they had. I got the grip where I saw their anti-aircraft and machine gun emplacement. They also had a radio station. About fifty soldiers, I saw. I went down immediately, with all caution fearing they might notice our presence. I succeeded. I went back and reported the place by map coordinates.

Again, I received a message from my NCS, transmit all my information direct to the Sixth Army Headquarters. I got all the requirements essential to establish contact. I then contacted the Headquarters to report my station and was acknowledge. Ever since then, all the reports coming in which [were] earnestly furnished by my intelligence net, I sent them to the Sixth Army. I thought I would have light work then, for all I did, evaluation and transmission at daytime and did the cryptographic work at night. But sometimes, when reports were plenty, I worked until late.

About the end of April, I was recalled by the Sixth Army. On my way to the Sixth Army, somewhere in Pampanga, I had a hard time getting transportation. No GI truck would pick me up for they thought I was a guerrilla or probably thought I was a civilian. I was really in civilian clothing. When I reached Manila, I clarified myself from the CIC to relieve me from the hardship of getting a ride. The CIC turned me into the XI Corps wherein I got the official pass to ride on any government means of transportation to report to the Sixth Army.

These were my experiences. Experiences of thrills and excitements. Thrill, in working behind the enemy lines with all the enduring hardships, going hungry through disease-infested jungles, knowing that behind those sacred and noble tasks might evolve a new world. The world of freedom and lasting peace. Excitement in encountering enemies, evading and fighting triumphantly to fulfill the secret missions they were entrusted to. However, my success was due to the undying help of the few guerrillas who bravely and gallantly upheld the spirit of Corregidor and Bataan. Those men willingly helped to lay a new foundation of democracy, based upon cause and principles. To those men, I paid my defied the storm of time, I salute.

Written by E. C. H. - 39197647
978th Signal Service Co.
A.P.O. 74 G. P. M.
San Francisco, Calif.

A true copy

Notes and references:
1 “Lone Wolf’s Intelligence Unit,” File No. 183, online at PVAO.
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