by J. Michael Houlahan.
Published by the Philippine
Scouts Heritage Society,
Chris Schaefer's extremely readable
Bataan Diary: An American Family in World
War II, 1941-1945 is a
well-documented story of resistance and survival during the Japanese
occupation of the Philippines.
Built around the World War II diaries kept by Major
Frank R. Loyd and his wife, Evelyn, the book chronicles the difficult
struggle of Frank Loyd, half-starved and seriously ill, sheltering in a
series of jungle hideouts. Then, as MacArthur's return approaches, he
joins the guerrilla war.
Another dimension is added by an occasional chapter
detailing the stateside fears and frustrations of Evelyn, not knowing
if her husband was still alive, while she immerses herself in
supporting the war effort.
However, the book is more than the combined diaries
of the Loyds. It also examines the larger war effort in the
Pacific and the involvement of other Americans and Filipinos, many of
them Philippine Scouts, in the anti-Japanese guerrilla movement on
Luzon. It contains interesting information on commando
infiltration teams, both Filipino and American, sent in by submarine to
help shore up the resistance movement. It also examines in some
detail prison camp conditions and the brutal counter intelligence
activities of the dread Japanese Kempei-tai
The book begins with the idyllic tropical existence
of the Loyds during nearly a year and a half of pampered and languid
duty in peacetime Manila. He was Provost Marshall at Fort McKinley and
she taught fourth grade at the base school. American officers in this
peacetime army worked half days and spent their evenings socializing
with other military families. Training of the Philippine Army also
proceeded at a leisurely pace, which would have important ramifications
when war broke out.
As U.S.-Japanese relations deteriorated in the
summer of 1941, this colonial idle ended as military families,
including Evelyn and the two children, were sent back to the United
States. In late July, the Japanese invaded French Indo China and
the U.S., Britain and the Netherlands embargoed all trade with Japan,
cutting off the flow of oil, rubber and other strategic material needed
by the Japanese to sustain their conquest of China. War now appeared
Shortly following the devastating Japanese surprise
air assaults on Pearl Harbor and the Philippines in early December, a
Japanese invasion force landed on Luzon and forced the Filipino and
American troops back to defensive positions on Bataan and Corregidor.
When Bataan surrendered in early April, Major Loyd was among the small
group of American and Filipino military men who escaped to nearby
mountains and jungles. Most of these men, including Frank Loyd, spent
many months surviving at a subsistence level thanks to the courageous
generosity of the local Filipino population.
Eventually Frank and many others would join
guerrilla groups, the nucleus of which was organized by American
officers put in place by General MacArthur before the surrender.
Most of these guerrilla leaders and about half of the 400 Americans who
joined them would not survive the war.
recounting the failures and successes of these guerrilla units,
Schaefer also examines the indigenous civilian intelligence network in
Manila, which consisted predominantly of upper class Filipinos.
Many of these civilian patriots also did not survive the war, as the
Japanese successfully infiltrated the movement.
Another interesting feature of the book is a
description of the infighting among the various guerrilla leaders, as
they vied to assert command over each other and to expand their
geographic sway. Although largely ego-driven, this also was the
result of a need to claim scant resources in manpower and civilian
support. Further complicating the resistance mix, were the
Communist-led Hukbalahap, who, when not fighting the Japanese, often
clashed violently with American-led guerrilla groups.
Despite the burdens of hunger, disease, scarce
resources, infighting and the depredations of the Japanese, sufficient
guerrilla forces were mobilized and trained to form a very useful
auxiliary force when MacArthur returned to liberate the Philippines. An
important component of these guerrilla groups was the Philippine
Scouts, superbly-trained Filipino soldiers who comprised the majority
of the regular U.S. Army's infantry and cavalry troops in the
Philippines. (The Scouts should not be confused with the Philippine
Army troops, who were mostly conscripts and not nearly as well
trained.) Rallying to the cause in large numbers, the Scouts were
crucial in the training of other Filipinos in guerrilla warfare. The
Scouts themselves proved as adept at guerrilla warfare as they had been
in their heroic defense of Bataan and Corregidor during the early
months of the war.
An attractive feature of the book is its map
collection which helps the reader visualize where the action took
place. Indeed, with its maps, bibliography, extensive endnotes,
and lengthy index, this book is a useful reference tool for more
serious students of World War II guerrilla warfare on Luzon. As
such it is an excellent companion volume to Malcolm Decker's On a Mountainside
Note: Among the Philippine Scouts mentioned in the
book are Capt. Joseph Barker, Lt. Col. Peter Calyer, Sgt. Esposito,
Col. John Horan, Maj. Harold Johnson, Lt. Robert Lapham, Lt. Felipe
Maningo, Lt. Col. Narcisco Manzano, Col. Gyles Merrill, Lt. Col. Martin
Moses, Capt. Guillermo Nakar, Lt. Col. Arthur "Maxie" Noble, Capt. John
E. Olson, Sgt. Marcelo Peralta, Capt. Ralph Praeger, Lt. Edwin Ramsey,
Major Royal Reynolds, Lt. Col. Claude Thorp, Lt. Col. Ovid O. "Zero"
Wilson, Lt. Col. Edgar Wright, Jr. and Pvt. Samuel Zozabrado. (The
ranks ascribed to these men are those they held in 1942.)
J. Michael Houlahan is Public
Relations Officer and Newsletter Editor of the Philippine Scouts
Heritage Society. He is a career Foreign Service officer whose
many assignments include the the U.S. Emabssy, Manila.
of Page Copyright © 2004,
Riverview Publishing. Updated 7/27/05.