The 32D ‘Red Arrow’ Veteran Association
The 32D Infantry Division
in World War II
The ‘Red Arrow’
Luzon Campaign – Mopping Up
The Military situation in northern Luzon had changed considerably during the weeks when the bulk of the 32D Division was out of combat. After the capture of the Santa Fe-Imugan positions, General Swift had shifted the 37TH ‘Buckeye’ Infantry Division (Ohio) to the Santa Fe area and passed it through the 25TH ‘Tropic Lightning’ Division (Hawaii). The 37TH promptly attacked northward astride Highway No. 5. On 5 June 1945 it captured Aritao, the next day it was in Bambang and, on 7 June it captured Bayombong. On 9 June the 37TH overran Bagabag, Bagabac on some maps, blocked Highway No. 4 at the Lamut River to the northwest beyond Bagabag, and pushed on to the northeast on Highway No. 5.
This rapid advance was a blow to any remaining capability of the Japanese for a counteroffensive on Luzon. General Tomoyuki Yamashita had assumed that he could hold the Santa Fe-Imugan position until the end of June. By that time he expected to develop defensive positions commanding Highway No. 5 in the Aritao area and beyond. These positions would protect Bagabag, a village important because it was at the junction of the highways on which Yamashita could shift his forces and supplies between Cagayan Valley and the mountain stronghold to the west in the vicinity of Bontoc.
Although it was estimated that the Japanese commander had at least 25,000 troops remaining in northern Luzon, the capture of Bagabag area kept him from uniting his forces, and made their defeat possible in detail.
To exploit the now favorable situation further, the 6TH ‘Sight Seein’ Sixth’ Infantry Division pushed one column forward on Highway No. 4 while another column moved west and southwest form Bambang. The 33D ‘Prairie’ Infantry Division (Illinois) also advanced against increased resistance on front. Philippine Guerrilla Forces, North Luzon, now under command of I Corps, cleared large areas in the northwest part of the island.
On 21 June, the port of Aparri at the north end of the Cagayan Valley was captured by guerrillas and Rangers. And on 23 June, paratroops from the 11TH ‘Angels’ Airborne Division dropped near Aparri, moved southward, and made contact with the 37TH Division. By 30 June, Cagayan Valley was under American control but not yet cleared of enemy troops.
The 6TH and 33D Divisions had by that time made considerable progress in closing in on the enemy’s mountain positions to the west of Cagayan Valley.
When the 32D Division came back into the combat picture its principal mission was to eliminate the remaining Japanese troops in its zone of action. Three divisions-the 6TH, 32D, and 37TH-were now available, with the help of the guerrilla forces, to clean up northern Luzon under the orders of the commanding general, XIV Corps.
It is impossible to arrive at precise figures as to the effective strength of the remaining Japanese troops in northern Luzon at this time. General Eichelberger says that after the official Japanese capitulation General Yamashita came out of the “Mountain wilderness to the northeast of Baguio” and surrendered 40,000 well-disciplined troops.
The 32D took over an area extending clear across the island. It included Highway No. 5, from Bagabag to a point considerably to the south of Balete Pass, the Villa Verde Trail area, and all of the Baguio area. The 6TH and 37TH Divisions plus Philippine Guerrilla Forces, North Luzon, continued to operate in zones north of that of the 32D.
On 28 June, G2 estimated that there were 1,500 to 1,800 Japanese in the Division’s zone of action. These were believed to be concentrated in three sectors: in the mountains northeast of Baguio, west and southwest of Bagabag, and southeast of Aritao. There was the possibility of movement into the Division’s zone of some of the 12,000 Japanese troops estimated to be farther to the north in the mountains of northwest Luzon, and of some of the 14,000 enemy troops believed to be in the northern Cagayan Valley and the mountains to the east of it.
To the 127TH RCT went the job of taking over the whole western part of the Division zone. The 127TH had been short its Company G and one platoon of 81mm mortars from Company H since 2 June when those units left to join the Volckmann guerrilla force operating in the northern Cagayan Valley. Company G and the mortar platoon were now returned to the 127TH, but Company F was detached on 27 June and sent to join the guerrilla forces operating in the vicinity of Cervantes to the northwest of the Division’s area. The 127TH RCT relieved the remaining 33D Division troops in the Baguio area.
The 126TH RCT which had passed to control of the 25TH Infantry Division in the latter part of May had not included the 120TH Field Artillery Battalion, normally part of the RCT. The 120TH had been left in the Villa Verde Trail part of the operation, furnishing direct support to the 1ST Battalion of the Buena Vista Regiment. Early in June the 120TH had been withdrawn from combat along with all the other units of Division Artillery, but on 26 June it moved to the vicinity of Aritao and was attached to the 126TH Infantry to complete the combat team. The 126TH RCT took over the southeast area of the Division’s zone. Its missions included keeping Highway No. 5 open in its zone.
The 128TH Infantry, with the 129TH Field Artillery Battalion and other units attached, was assigned the northeast part of the Division’s zone. Its missions also included keeping Highway No. 5 open in its zone.
The Division CP was established at Anabat on Highway No. 5 south of Balete Pass.
The orders for each of the regimental combat teams included instructions to “patrol vigorously” and to “destroy all enemy encountered.”
The Division’s entire area was wild, rough country. Heavy rains fell often, to make washouts and landslides which blocked the few roads. The official announcement that the Luzon campaign was over was justified in terms of control of major cities, ports and airfields. But to the Red Arrow men trying to “mop up” it was a long way from ended. Although the enemy was disorganized, and suffering from shortage of ammunition and food, and in a hopeless situation, he was nevertheless still capable of fanatical resistance when cornered. This willingness to fight to the death is proved by the Division’s report at the end of the mopping up period: Only some 200 Japanese taken prisoners, but over 2,800 killed.
added 12 Jan. 13
U.S. Army Signal Corps photo
Soldiers from the 126TH Infantry prepare to attack Japanese troops holed up in a shack on Northern Luzon on 22 July 1945.
Pvt. Lynwood D. Blount, from Milledgeville, GA, and Pvt. Warren H. Freeman, from Mansfield, TX, were both forward observers with an artillery unit in the 32D Div. and earned the Silver Star for their actions near Atok on 13 July. They braved heavy enemy machine gun fire to rescue two wounded comrades during an overwhelming Japanese night attack. More information about them and their medals can be found on the roster of Silver Star recipients. [added 2 Mar. ’14, TPB]
Pfc. Norman H. Poddam, from Hamtramck, MI, and assigned to the 127TH Inf., earned the Oak Leaf Cluster for his Silver Star, bestowed posthumously, for his actions near Sinipsip on 25 July. An intense Japanese mortar barrage erupted as his unit was preparing to attack an enemy position. The barrage killed 2 and wounded 15 of Pfc. Poddam’s comrades. He spent two hours in the exposed area caring for, comforting, and evacuating his wounded comrades. He was severely WIA while he and three other Soldiers were attempting to rescue a wounded platoon sergeant from an exposed and fire swept position. Knowing that only one of the now two seriously wounded could be evacuated, he ordered the three other Soldiers to carry out the platoon sergeant. His comrades came back to rescue him, but Pfc. Poddam had succumbed to his severe wounds. He had earned his first Silver Star for ignoring intense enemy fire to rescue a wounded comrade from an exposed, fire swept position near Aitape, New Guinea about a year earlier. More information about him and his medals can be found on the roster of Silver Star recipients. [added 14 Dec. ’13, TPB]
First Lt. Paul Warren Rothschild, an artillery officer from St. Louis, MO, earned the Silver Star for his actions on 27 July. He was WIA while attempting to move his disabled gun mount to prevent further damage from enemy fire. Some references state he served with the 32D Div., one reference states he served with the 33D Div. More information about him and his medal can be found on the roster of Silver Star recipients. [added 19 Aug. ’17, TPB]
The Division’s G2 reports for 31 July give a rather typical picture of the Japanese resistance as it was in northern Luzon on that day. The General Summary of Enemy Information issued by CPT Carl K. Bomberger, acting G2, records the reports received from the areas outside the Division’s zone during the last 24 hours. In the 6TH Division’s area, its 1ST Infantry Regiment had secured a ridge west of Kiangan, killing 30 Japanese. The enemy had staged a strong counterattack which was repulsed, but 37 more Japanese were killed in this encounter. Another infantry regiment of the same Division had received five enemy night attacks. In another action, elements of the 6TH Division had killed 20 enemy while capturing a hill. The 37TH Division and the guerrilla forces reported several patrol contacts, but no serious engagement.
The 32D Division’s activities were covered by the G2 periodic report. A total of 44 Japanese had been killed and 22 captured in patrol contacts throughout the Division’s zone of action during the 24 hour period ended at 1500 on 31 July. The 126TH Infantry, in the Division’s southeast area, had conducted routine patrolling without finding any enemy. The 128TH, in the northeast area, reported four firefights resulting in enemy deaths or capture. The 127TH, covering the western part of the Division’s zone, also had several skirmishes. In giving the details of one of these actions in which four Japanese were killed, the report states, “The Japs were unarmed and in poor condition.” The not unnatural reaction that a report such as this indicates ruthless and unnecessary slaughter must be balanced against the conditions that actually existed. Most of the enemy groups met with were armed, and resisted fiercely. Some groups had insufficient arms and ammunition for all, but nevertheless fought vigorously. Finally, and probably most important, the American doughboy had learned from hard experience that his enemies were capable of treachery, not only in the ordinary meaning of the term, but in suicidal use of hand grenades at the moment of capture.
The weather report for the periods records the poor visibility and scattered showers typical of this part of Luzon.
An annex of 21 pages and a map contains some reports on translations of captured documents and on interrogations of prisoners by the 171ST Language Detachment, commanded by Lt. R. B. Gage. One of the interrogations is of particular interest both as a human document and as a commentary of the Formosans whose position in the Chinese situation later became so important after the Communist victory on the mainland.
The prisoner, a 29-year-old surgeon in the employ of the Japanese Navy, had surrendered, along with 5 Formosan medical assistants. All were unarmed and in good physical condition. The doctor is described in the report as unusually well educated, “of educated parents,” and the third generation of surgeons in his family. He was hired under pressure by the Japanese Navy on a civilian basis. After answering many questions about Japanese medical methods and conditions, he was asked to write in English a short commentary on the Formosan’s position in the war. “He was,” says the report, “left alone for hours.” The result, in part, follows:
All of the Formosans have stronger resistance than Japs towards tropical
diseases, like malaria, dysentery and other infectious diseases. This is the
only reason that Japs need Formosans, when he fight in south-island. So all
youth of Formosans are forced to build airfields at New Guinea, New Britain,
and Philippine Islands where are bad condition for
Under which condition they work? I must say he next by, under very poor supply. One suit cloth and two gumi shoes a year, and above all they eat only rice with salt – and in spite of working hard day and night – Japs treat them very crully. When anybody of Formosans has a mistake Japs strike him bitterly and sometimes to dead. So all of Formosans don’t like Japs because of cruelity and unhumanity, and if he has any chance to get gun, perhaps he will kill him. All of the Formosans want to surrender, but they have no chance, because of being watched strictly by Japs and above all are afraid of being shot by Filipinos and guerrillas. So if America stop Filipino to shot them, maybe, some Formosans come down from mountain to surrender.
This last comment reflects the vengeful attitude of some Filipinos after years of suffering under Japanese domination. It also may explain some of the killing of unarmed Japanese as previously discussed. Each of the regiments of the 32D Division had Philippine guerrilla units attached to it during this period. This particular group of Formosans had escaped from a Japanese unit when it was attacked by guerrillas. They negotiated with some civilian Filipinos, gave them all their personal belongings, obtained shelter for the night, and had the Filipinos make arrangements for their surrender to Company K, 128TH Infantry.
July and early August of 1945 was a confused period for the Red Arrow men. They were not under the same pressure as they had been at Buna, Aitape, Leyte or on the Villa Verde Trail. Many expected to be able to go home soon; others supposed that they would soon be engaged in a major assault on the Japanese homeland. In the meantime, aggressive patrolling and the destruction of enemy troops had to be kept up.
The Red Arrow News for 6 August 1945 reflected the situation. The lead story was the official offer of the Division commander to grant a 45-day furlough to the States to any man who captured a Japanese general. “Incidentally,” the story concluded, “the captured general must be in suitable condition for questioning.”
There were accounts of bombings of Japanese cities, installations, and shipping, but, of course, no mention of the atomic bomb which was being dropped on Hiroshima at the time that the news sheet was being distributed.
PFC Manuel Perez Garcia, of the 126TH Infantry, “Cuban-borne Jap killer,” was saluted in a neat little account of how the Red Arrow News reporter had gone to the hospital to interview this 37 year old soldier who had been credited with killing and capturing 83 Japanese and also with being a model soldier. It turned out that the exemplary doughboy was AWOL, but only from the hospital. He was back with his outfit, and out on a 6-day patrol.
The editor put a rather bitter headline over a story from Washington announcing that President Truman had authorized medals for Selective Service personnel: “Your Draft Board Does It Again ! ! ! Will Get Medals Soon.”
The return of some amenities to Division routine was indicated by the listing of movies in five areas, and by the announcement that, rather more surprisingly, “a series of weekly recorded concerts of classical music has been arranged for all men of this Division.”
The first atomic bomb was being dropped on the Japanese homeland as this issue of the Red Arrow News was being distributed to the men of the Division. On 9 August a second bomb was dropped, this time on Nagasaki. The next day the Japanese government sued for peace.
On 15 August 1945, the Division received orders to discontinue aggressive action. Peace had officially come, but it was not yet an actuality in northern Luzon. In spite of radio broadcasts and dropped leaflets, some Japanese units either remained in ignorance of the end of the war or were unwilling to accept the news, and some 32D Division patrols were fired on and some positions attacked.
Tec. 4 Charles P. Murdock wrote the article “The Red Arrow Pierced Every Line” which was printed in The Saturday Evening Post on 10 Nov. ’45. The article provided a summary of the 32D Division’s “unique fighting record from Buna to Luzon” (Murdock, qtd. in Blakely 265). The beginning of the article highlighted some of the Division’s activities when the cease-fire took effect on 15 August, VJ-day.
“The walkie-talkie said, “The war’s over.” The grimy sergeant from A Company flicked the butterfly on the mike and said, “Yeah, all over these damned mountains.”
“It was the morning of August 15, 1945. For the book, it was the 32D Division’s 654th – and last – day of combat in World War II. But not for the men of A Company. Part of the company had just beaten off a banzai charge. One dough was dead and two were wounded. The platoon was cut off.” (Murdock, qtd. in Blakely 265)
The “One dough” who was killed was PFC Edward O'Dell Mullins, Jr., from Morrow, OH and assigned to Co. A, 128TH Inf. He became the last U.S. combat fatality before the Japanese surrender went into effect when he was KIA by a Japanese sniper near Bagabag on Luzon on 15 Aug. '45, about 45 minutes before the order to cease hostilities was disseminated. He had earned the Bronze Star for eliminating a pair of Japanese machine gun emplacements with his BAR and a grenade a few weeks earlier. [added 4 Dec. ‘13]
Unfortunately PFC Mullin’s distinction was short lived, as you will read below, another Division Soldier was KIA a few hours after the supposed end of hostilities on 15 Aug., and at least one other was killed a couple of weeks later. In fact, there were numerous U.S. and Allied Soldiers who would be killed in hostile actions with isolated Japanese forces for months after the official Japanese surrender, but PFC Mullins will always have the dubious distinction of being the last one before the cease-fire. [added 4 Dec. ‘13]
Murdock continued, “Back through the mountains at B Company, eleven miles by trail, 1LT Troy Ricks, one-time basketball star from Boonville, Mississippi, said, somewhat grimly, “There’s no celebrating here. This is the Thirty-second. We always fight after the campaigns are over,” which made him somewhat of a prophet.
“Less than eighteen hours later, A Company was hit by another banzai. Another dough was killed and seven were wounded.” (Murdock, qtd. in Blakely 265)
The “dough” who was killed was likely PFC Harold L. Valentine. PFC Valentine, from Sidney, OH, served with the 128TH Inf. and was KIA 15 Aug. ’45. [added 7 Jun. ‘14]
Murdock continued, “Back at the divisional public-relations office, CPT William A. Fleischer, of New York City, said, “That’s the Thirty-second – first to start fighting, last to finish.”
“Sgt. Marion Hargrove, of YANK, up to cover the 32nd’s “reaction” to the end of the war, jotted down some notes.
“He’d just come from talking to some doughs who had started it out almost three full years before by hiking over the Owen Stanley Mountains from Port Moresby to Buna.
A T/5 rolled a piece of paper into the typewriter and started writing: WITH THE 32D INFANTRY DIVISION IN NORTHERN LUZON, AUG. 15 – MAJ. GEN. WILLIAM H. GILL, COMMANDER OF THE 32D (RED ARROW) INFANTRY DIVISION SAID, “I DOUBT IF ANYONE, ANYWHERE, IS MORE PROFOUNDLY MOVED BY THIS NEWS THAN THE MEN OF THIS DIVISION, WHO HAVE FOUGHT SO HARD, SUFFERED SO MUCH AND WAITED SO LONG FOR THIS MOMENT.”
“Thirty miles farther up the Cagayan Valley the Japs apparently hadn’t got the word.” (Murdock, qtd. in Blakely 265)
The Red Arrow News for 16 August under a heading, “War Ends on 32D’s 654th Day of Combat,” also quoted General Gill’s remarks, including his additional comment: “I’m proud of these men who fought at Buna, at Saidor, the Drimiumor, on Morotai, on Leyte and on Luzon. I also think this is an appropriate time to remember the sacrifice of the men who died in those battles. This is their moment too.”
On 20 August, a Luzon Area Command was activated to assume tactical control of the remaining operations on the island of Luzon. The new headquarters was organized with Major General Robert S. Beightler, the commander of the 37TH Infantry Division, in command. This change was made in order to release the XIV Corps headquarters which was scheduled for occupation duties in Japan. The 32D Division was also scheduled for early relief for the same reason.
Before the changes were well under way, an American pilot who had parachuted to earth behind the Japanese lines from his disabled plane, been captured, and taken to Yamashita’s headquarters, was released, after VJ-day, and came into the American lines with a message from Yamashita explaining the circumstances of his capture and commending him for his devotion to duty in refusing to answer questions during the lengthy interrogation.
General Gill had the pilot, flying an L-5 Liaison plane, drop a message and ground panels in the vicinity of Yamashita’s headquarters. The message instructed Yamashita to put out the panels if he was ready to make arrangements for surrender. The next day, another pilot found the panels staked out according to instructions. He dropped a message suggesting that Yamashita send a representative to the U.S. lines.
On 26 August, late in the afternoon, a Japanese captain, accompanied by a small party of enlisted men, delivered a message to an outpost of the 3D Battalion, 128TH Infantry, in the vicinity of Kiangan. It was Yamashita’s answer:
IMPERIAL JAPANESE ARMY
IN THE PHILIPPINES
August 25, 1945.
General W. H. Gill, Commanding General,
United States Army in the Philippines.
1. I have the honor to acknowledge receipt of your communication addressed to me, dropped by your airplane on August 24th as well as your papers dropped on August 25th in response to our ground signal.
2. I am taking this opportunity to convey to you that order from Imperial Headquarters pertaining to cessation of hostilities was duly received by me on August 20th and that I have immediately issued orders to cease hostilities to all units under my command insofar as communications were possible. I also wish to add at this point the expression of my heartfelt gratitude to you, fully cognizant of the sincere efforts and deep concern you have continuously shown with reference to cessation of hostilities as evidenced by the various steps and measures taken in this connection. To date of writing, however, I have failed to receive order from Imperial Headquarters authorizing me to enter into direct negotiations here in the Philippines with the United States Army concerning the carrying out of the order for the cessation of hostilities, but I am of the fond belief that upon receipt of this order, negotiations can be immediately entered into. Presenting my compliments and thanking you for your courteous letter, I remain, yours respectfully,
Tomoyuki Yamashita, General, Imperial Japanese Army, Highest Commander of the Imperial Japanese Army in the Philippines.
General Gill promptly relayed Yamashita’s message to the commanding general, Luzon Area Command, and replied directly to General Yamashita:
General Yamashita, Tomoyuki
Highest Commander of the
Imperial Japanese Army
in the Philippines
1. Your courier contacted my forces in the
vicinity of Kiangan at 1701, 25 August, and delivered your excellent message
and map with the proposed patrol route change. I now have these two documents
before me and hereby acknowledge receipt of them.
2. It is most regrettable that you have not yet received authority to enter into direct negotiations with the United States Army. It is disheartening to learn that your men must continue to suffer privations of food and medicine. I have the authority to negotiate surrender terms directly with your headquarters, and will supply food and administer medical care to all members of the Imperial Japanese Forces who surrender to my Command. It is my wish that this take place with the least possible delay.
3. In order to make adequate preparations for the proper care of your forces after they surrender, it is desired that you furnish me with the approximate number of officers, men and nurses who will come under my care.
4. In order to continue the best possible liaison, your courier is returning to your headquarters today with a radio and with instructions that the new patrol route proposed by you is satisfactory. I have instructed my forces to remain at Kiangan and be prepared to meet any representatives which you may dispatch to that point. Each day (weather permitting) a liaison plane equipped with a radio and adjusted to the proper frequency will fly over your area and effect radio contact with your headquarters. It is my desire that all transmissions be in English.
5. Your message states that due to communication difficulties some units of your command may not be aware of the cessations of hostilities. It is, therefore, desired that you prepare letters addressed to the commanders of these units advising them to cease hostilities. If you will deliver these letters by messenger to my forces at Kiangan with instructions as to where they are to be delivered, I will see that the messages reach the designated commanders.
W. H. Gill
Major General, U.S. Army, Commanding
A tragedy of particular poignancy for the veterans of the 32D Division’s long series of campaigns from Papua to Luzon was the death of Col. Merle H. Howe in an airplane accident. In the Saturday Evening Post article previously referred to, Col. Howe was called “a sort of living symbol of what the Division had been through.” General Eichelberger, in his book, makes several highly complementary references to Col. Howe: “a stalwart fighting man,” “the driving leader who helped make the Buna victory possible,” and “I never knew of a more determined or more courageous fighter.” The former Grand Rapids school teacher and longtime National Guard officer was 49 years old when he died at the moment of victory.
Col. Howe, commander of the 128TH Infantry at the time of his death, had served with distinction throughout World War II with the 32D Infantry Division. The only commanding officer who commanded the 126TH , 127TH and 128TH Regimental Combat Teams in various campaigns against the Japanese Imperial Forces. Inducted into Federal service on 15 Oct. ‘40 as Capt. and Cdr. of Co. K, 126TH Inf., Grand Rapids, Michigan. He was killed in an airplane accident while communicating with the Supreme General of the Japanese Imperial Forces, Tomoyuki Yamashita during the negotiation for surrender of all Japanese Forces in the Philippine Islands. Col. Howe had earned the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions on 5 Dec. ’42 near Buna Village, the Silver Star for his actions 16 Jan. ‘43 near Tarakena, the OLC to the Silver Star for his actions on 19 Jan. ‘43 near Giruwa, and the OLC to the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions 11 May ’45 along the Villa Verde Trail. More information about him and his medals can be found on the roster of DSC recipients or the roster of Silver Star recipients. [updated 2 Jun. ’17, TPB]
Yamashita reported the details of the accident to General Gill:
GENERAL FIELD HEADQUARTERS
Imperial Japanese Forces in the Philippines
August 31, 1945.
General W. H. Gill,
Commanding General, 32nd Infantry Division
Kiangan, Mountain Province
It is with extreme regret that I inform you that
your liaison plane dispatched on the afternoon of August 30, for the purpose of
communication with my headquarters crashed in the vicinity of the Third Rest
House. The plane dropped one communication tube and was circling once more to
drop another communication when it crashed at 1534 o’clock. The cause of the
unfortunate accident is believed to be engine trouble.
Of the crew, Col. Merle H. Howe died instantly while Lt. Edgar T. Irvine was injured. The latter’s injury consists of bruises on his right forehead, left lower lip and the right side of the back of his head. His injury is not believed serious.
We immediately sent medical officers to the scene of the accident to treat the injured, to take proper care of the dead and to preserve the scene of the accident. Please rest assured that every possible step has been taken.
In the above manner, Col. Howe died in the line of duty. In view of the unchanging zeal and friendship, from start to finish, with which the late Col. Howe served and distinguished himself in the present negotiations between the Japanese and United States Armies, I, on behalf of the entire Imperial Japanese Army and myself, express our deepest condolence.
At the same time, the injured pilot has my deepest sympathy and I have ordered my subordinates to take every step in the treatment of his injury. From the bottom of my heart, I pray for his early recovery and hope that he will be able to return to his post at the earliest possible date.
I, hereby, hurriedly inform you of the gist of the unfortunate accident and at the same time express my sincerest condolence.
GENERAL TOMOYUKI YAMASHITA
Highest Commander, Imperial Japanese Army
In the Philippines.
At 0800 hours on 2 September 1945 General Yamashita, accompanied by a small staff, walked out of the mountains of northern Luzon and surrendered himself to the 32D Infantry Division on a hilltop near Kiangan, Luzon. He was met by a 24-man detachment commanded by 1st Lt. Russell R. Baumann, from Glenbeulah, Wisconsin, and assigned to Company I, 128TH Infantry (commanded by Capt. Roy A. Glisson). Many considered it very appropriate and symbolic that General Yamashita would be met by a ‘Red Arrow’ man from either Wisconsin or Michigan, the home states of the 32D Infantry Division when it was activated from National Guard status at the start of WWII. [updated 11 Oct. ’17, TPB]
General Yamashita saluted when 1st Lt. Baumann approached. First Lt. Baumann returned the salute and said, “I have the honor to inform you that I have been charged with seeing you and your party through our lines without hindrance, delay or molestation.” General Yamashita, through an interpreter, replied, “I want to tell you how much I appreciate the courtesy and good treatment you have shown us.” (Carlisle 214)
Lt. Baumann, a graduate of the U. of Wis. in ’40, fought at Guadalcanal, New Georgia, and New Guinea with the 103D Inf., 43D ‘Winged Victory’ Div., before being transferred to the 128TH Inf. His meeting with Gen. Yamashita was summarized in the Wis. Alumnus on 20 Nov. '45, and Baumann stated, “After fighting Japanese in the Guadalcanal, N. Solomons, New Guinea, Leyte, and Luzon campaigns, it was a satisfaction to go up and bring out Yamashita, his general staff, and the admiral of the Japanese navy in the Philippines.” [added 11 Oct. ’17, TPB]
U.S. Army Signal Corps photo
photo added 30 Jun. 11
General Tomoyuki Yamashita, Supreme Commander of Japanese Imperial Forces, Philippines, comes out of the mountains to surrender to the 32D ‘Red Arrow’ Infantry Division near Kiangan, Luzon, on 2 Sep. 1945.
U.S. Army Signal Corps photo
photo added 30 Jun. 11
Close-up of the photograph at left depicting General Tomoyuki Yamashita, Supreme Commander of Japanese Imperial Forces, Philippines, coming out of the mountains to surrender to the 32D ‘Red Arrow’ Infantry Division near Kiangan, Luzon, on 2 Sep. 1945.
First Lt. Baumann and his detachment escorted General Yamashita to the Co. I CP in a schoolhouse at Kiangan; they arrived at about 1030 hours. There Col. Ernest Andrew Barlow, the Division Chief of Staff, and Lt. Col. Alex J. Robinet, Commander of the 128TH Infantry, were waiting to receive the prisoner.
photo added 12 Jan. ‘13
U.S. Army Signal Corps photo
General Tomoyuki Yamashita surrenders to Colonel Ernest A. Barlow, 32D Division Chief of Staff, at Kiangan, Luzon, on 2 Sep. 1945.
photo added 30 Jun. ‘11
32D Infantry Division History Commission photo
A different angle depicting General Tomoyuki Yamashita as he surrenders to Colonel Ernest A. Barlow, 32D Division Chief of Staff, at Kiangan, Luzon, on 2 Sep. 1945.
Missing from the ensuing formalities was the 32D Division’s commander, General Gill, who had left for the States on leave August 30th after turning the Division over to Brig. Gen. Robert B. McBride Jr., commanding general of Division Artillery.
While at the Co. I CP, Lt. Gen. Muto (Gen. Yamashita’s chief of staff) asked Col. Barlow about the symbolism of the ‘Red Arrow’ insignia. Col. Barlow responded that it signified the 32D Division’s penetration of the vaunted Hindenburg Line during WWI. It is said that Lt. Gen. Muto replied, “Yes, and the Yamashita Line in World War II.” (Carlisle 215)
Arrangements had been made for General Yamashita to formally surrender to Maj. Gen. Robert S. Beightler of the 37TH Infantry Division in the latter’s new capacity as commanding general of Luzon Area Command. Maj. Gen. Beightler, in his account of the meeting, recalled: “As he walked toward me, he proffered his hand. I refused to shake hands; he then stepped back, saluted, and bowed.”
One source states General Yamashita surrendered to Maj. Gen. Beightler at approximately 1100 hours on 2 Sep., which would place it at, or near, the CP of Company I, 128TH Infantry, in Kiangan. If this was a formal surrender, it is more likely that this event took place in Baguio on 3 Sep., where the formal ceremony was held (see below).
From Kiangan, General Yamashita and his staff were driven to the 1ST Battalion, 128TH Infantry CP for lunch. From there they were driven to an airfield at Bagabag where they boarded C-47s for the flight to Baguio, where the formal surrender ceremony occurred the following day. Bagabag is approximately 8 miles SE of Kiangan as the crow flies. Baguio is approximately 25 miles WSW of Bagabag as the crow flies.
“I was sorry,” says General Eichelberger in his book, “that General Griswold, who had directed XIV Corps operations, could not be there to accept Yamashita’s sword. But it was entirely fitting that the 32D Division should receive the vanquished enemy. Three years before at Buna they had won the battle that started the infantry on the jungle road to Tokyo.”
Yamashita was then flown to Baguio where formal surrender ceremonies were conducted on 3 Sep. in the presence of Lieutenant General Jonathan M. Wainwright, who had been forced to surrender his forces on Corregidor in May of 1942, and Lieutenant General Sir Archibald Percival of the British, who had surrendered to Yamashita at Singapore in February of the same year. Yamashita signed the instrument of surrender for the Japanese Imperial Forces in the Philippine Islands. ‘Red Arrow’ men in attendance included Brig. Gen. Robert B. McBride, Commander of the 32D ‘Red Arrow’ Infantry Division; Brig. Gen. Lyman, Assistant Division Commander; Col. Murphy, Commander of the 127TH Infantry; and Capt. Franz, 127TH RCT.
32D Infantry Division History Commission photo
photo added 30 Jun. 11
The Philippine High Commander’s home in Baguio, Luzon, site of the formal surrender ceremony of General Tomoyuki Yamashita, Supreme Commander of Japanese Imperial Forces in the Philippines, on 3 Sep. 1945.
32D Infantry Division History Commission photo
photo added 30 Jun. 11
Brig. Gen. Robert B. McBride, Commander of the 32D ‘Red Arrow’ Infantry Division (wearing Red Arrow), seated at head of table on the right, during the formal surrender ceremony of General Tomoyuki Yamashita, Supreme Commander of Japanese Imperial Forces in the Philippines, at Baguio, Luzon, on 3 Sep. 1945. Lt. Gen. Jonathan M. Wainwright is seated on the left, British Lt. Gen. Sir Archibald Percival is seated 4th from left, Gen. Yamashita is 2nd from left in foreground.
photo added 30 Jun. 11
Another view of the formal surrender ceremony of General Tomoyuki Yamashita, Supreme Commander of Japanese Imperial Forces in the Philippines, at Baguio, Luzon, on 3 Sep. 1945. Lt. Gen. Jonathan M. Wainwright is seated 2nd from left, British Lt. Gen. Sir Archibald Percival is partially visible seated 5th from left, Gen. Yamashita is 2nd from left in foreground, Brig. Gen. Robert B. McBride, Commander of the 32D ‘Red Arrow’ Infantry Division is partially visible at head of table on the right.
photo added 30 Jun. 11
Another view of the formal surrender ceremony of General Tomoyuki Yamashita, Supreme Commander of Japanese Imperial Forces in the Philippines, at Baguio, Luzon, on 3 Sep. 1945. Brig. Gen. Robert B. McBride, Commander of the 32D ‘Red Arrow’ Infantry Division (wearing Red Arrow), is seated at head of table in center of photo; General Clarkson, Commander of the 33D ‘Prairie Division’ Infantry Division, is standing 3rd from right with cross patch on shoulder.
Yamashita was later tried by a military commission on charges that he violated the laws of war. He was found guilty, sentenced to death, and hanged 23 February 1946.
One of his defense counsel, A. Frank Reel, in a bitter book, The Case of General Yamashita, charged that America’s action in Yamashita’s case was “Unjust, hypocritical, and vindictive.” Whatever history’s verdict may be about Yamashita’s conduct, in the moral sense, as a military commander, there is little question but that he was one of Japan’s outstanding military leaders. This fact gives particular value to the statement made by him during the long interrogation conducted by Sixth Army officers and included by General Krueger in his summary of the results of the questioning: “General Yamashita indicated that he considered the 32D Division the best his troops had encountered both on Leyte and on Luzon.”
While at the Command and General Staff College in April 1947, General Gill met Colonel White and obtained from him the following statement.
“On or about 8 September 1945 in my capacity as Assistant Chief of Staff
G-2, of the Sixth Army I supervised an interrogation of General Yamashita, the
Japanese Commander in the Philippines.
“At the end of the interrogation he was asked what U.S. troops he considered the best during the Leyte operation. He replied: ‘The 32D Division.’ Questioned as to the best U.S. troops encountered during the Luzon Campaign, he replied: ‘Those troops encountered in the vicinity of Salacsac.’ This again was a direct reference to the 32D Division in its arduous advance along the Villa Verde Trail towards Santa Fe.”
HEADQUARTERS 32D INFANTRY DIVISION
11 September 1945.
The death of
Colonel Merle H. Howe, Commanding Officer of the 128TH Infantry
Regiment, who was killed in action while participating in an aerial flight on
30 August 1945, is announced with deep regret.
For many years Colonel Howe served his country with distinction. Enlisting as a private on 15 August 1917, he emerged from World War I as an Air Corps pilot with the rank of First Lieutenant. He completed more than a year of service in France during World War I.
When the 32D Infantry Division was re-activated in October 1940, Colonel Howe once again volunteered his services and was assigned to the 126TH Infantry as Regimental S-3, and later rendered invaluable services as Division G-3 during the early stages of the Division’s overseas service in World War II. Serving successively as Commanding Officer of the 127TH, 126TH and 128TH Infantry Regiments, he demonstrated exceptional ability and a devotion to duty which earned him the respect and admiration of officers and men throughout the entire Division.
In recognition of his great qualities of leadership and the manner in which he performed his duties during World War II, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the Oak Leaf Cluster to the Distinguished Service Cross, The Legion of Merit, The Silver Star, the Oak Leaf Cluster to the Silver Star, the Bronze Star Medal, the Air Medal, the Purple Heart, the Oak Leaf Cluster to the Purple Heart and the Combat Infantryman Badge.
The memory of Colonel Howe’s valiant deeds, his unselfish faithful service and fine soldierly qualities will long live in the minds and hearts of the officers and men of the 32D Infantry Division. His was an honorable and distinguished career and in his death the nation lost one of its finest citizens, the “Red Arrow” Division one of its most distinguished soldiers.
Bibliography (primary sources for historical information regarding the 32D ‘The Red Arrow’ Infantry Division’s exploits during World War II):
Blakeley, H. W., Major General, Retired. The
32D Infantry Division in World War II. The Thirty-second
Infantry Division History Commission, State of Wisconsin, n.d.
Cannon, M. Hamlin. Leyte: The Return to the Philippines. U. S. Army Center of Military History, 1954.
Carlisle, John M. Red Arrow Men: Stories About the 32nd Division on the Villa Verde. Detroit: Arnold-Powers, Inc., 1945.
Drea, Edward J. Defending the Driniumor: Covering Force Operations in New Guinea, 1944. Fort Leavenworth, Kansas: Combat Studies Institute, U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, 1984.
Edward J. New Guinea -
The U.S. Army Campaigns of World War II.
U. S. Army Center of Military History, n.d.
Hill, Jim Dan, Major General, Retired. The Minute Man in Peace and War. Harrisburg: The Stackpole Company, 1964.
Jungwirth, Clarence J. Diary of a National Guardsman in World War II. Oshkosh, WI: Poeschl Printing Company, 1991.
Mayo, Lida. Bloody Buna. Canberra, Australia: Australian National University Press, 1975.
Milner, Samuel. Victory in
U. S. Army Center of Military History, 1957.
Papuan Campaign - The Buna-Sanananda Operation. Washington, D.C.: Historical Division, War Department, 1945.
The Red Arrow - 1955 - The 32D Division, Wisconsin National Guard. n.p., 1955.
Smith, Herbert M., Lieutenant Colonel, Retired. Four Score and Ten: Happenings in the Life of Herbert M. Smith. Eau Claire, WI: Heins Publications, 1995.
Smith, Herbert M., Lieutenant Colonel, Retired. Hannibal Had Elephants II. Eau Claire, WI: Rev. William A. Heins, 1995.
revised 11 October 2017
created 28 December 1999