Friday, February 21, 2020

Fullbore Friday

The last few months of a brutal war in the Pacific, one that showed little mercy for military or civilians.

Another detail of this war in both the Pacific and European theaters, camps.

The camps.

...and the story of the raid on the Los Baños internment camp;
...2,146 civilian internees — most of them American men, women and children — held captive since the Japanese invaded the Philippines more that three years earlier.

In 1944, with the war going badly for the Japanese, the guards at Los Baños had turned more brutal; prisoners were being starved on orders of the vicious, Western-hating camp commander who had promised the prisoners: “Before I’m done, you’ll be eating dirt.” Those caught escaping — even those returning with food for the starving — were shot. With medical supplies scarce, prisoners were dying of diseases like malaria, dysentery and tuberculosis. Then, in February 1945, the Japanese began digging deep trenches near the prisoners’ barracks. Many in camp feared preparations were being made for mass executions and burials.
Then there was an idea;
H-hour was also changed from 8 a.m. to 7 a.m. once the escapees reported that every morning at 6:45 a.m., the enemy garrison of some 200 soldiers assembled in a large field unarmed and wearing only loincloths for 30 minutes of ritualistic calisthenics. Only a handful of guards were on duty during the morning exercises.

The coordinated strike on the camp by 170 U.S. paratroopers and 75 Filipino guerrillas would use the element of surprise to overwhelm the few guards that remained at their posts. The challenge for the liberators was not only to keep the civilians safe during the assault but also to move them quickly — many were too weak to walk any distance — before a 10,000-man Japanese infantry division lurking nearby could arrive with reinforcements. Planners believed the enemy army could reach the prison camp in as little as three hours. Casualties in the raid were anticipated to be as high as 30 per cent.

A plan to load the prisoners into trucks and move them by armed convoy to U.S. lines was shelved when a reconnaissance flight found that the enemy had blown up bridges along the route to slow the U.S. advance into southern Luzon. There was only one way out: across the largest lake in the Philippines — 25-mile long Laguna de Bay — via amphibious tractors known as amtracs.
The 11th Airborne in a little known raid from a little known unit.

They whole story is almost too extreme to be true, but it is.

Read it all.

To the 11th Airborne and our Philippine allies; fullbore.

If you want more on the story, there's even a book on it, Bruce Henderson's, Rescue at Los Banos: The Most Daring Prison Camp Raid of World War II.


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