Journal of Commodore Ramon A. Alcaraz March 1942
March 9, 1942 The lull in Bataan that started last Feb. 23 continues. The enemy is either regrouping, licking their USAFFE inflicted wounds during the Battle of the Points and Pockets last month or waiting for reinforcements. Taking advantage of the lull, a reorganization was effected with the Visayas-Mindanao Force by separating the Visayas Force as a distinct command under B/Gen Bradford G Chenoweth and dividing it further into five garrisons: Panay Gerrison under Col Albert Christie; Negros Garrison under LCol Roger Hillsman; Cebu Garrison under LCol Irvine Schrudder; Bohol Garrison under LCol Arthur Grimes; and Leyte-Samat Garrison under LCol Theodore M Carrol.
March 9, 1942 - continued The remaining P-40s hidden in Bataan raided enemy base in Subic, sank one tanker and two cargo ships and started fires on other vessels, Olongapo docks and Fort Wint. Food rations were further reduced to three eights from half due to acute food shortages. Enemy propaganda through Manila Radio KZRH, loudspeakers at the front lines and leaflets dropped by planes continue uninterrupted but have no mark effect on our morale. The Voice of Freedom is doing a great job countering enemy propaganda. It is the Mosquitos in the Bataan jungles that are becoming allied to the enemy inflicting deadly malaria on our troops.
March 12, 1942 I've been using "All Quiet" meaning no exchanges of fires nor enemy bombings since the last week of Feb. It is not really "Quiet" as the propaganda war with enemy loudspeakers blaring in the front lines of Bataan and enemy planes dropping leaflets to our troops. I would say, what is now going on is a "WORD WAR". The Voice of Freedom is doing a great job for our side. Q-111 engines overhaul by Lt Zulueta's gang was completed rwo days ago and resumed patrolling Bataan east coast last night. For a change, Q-112 was directed to patrol Bataan west coast and Q-113 had a special mission landing an army unit in Zambales area to start guerilla warfare also last night. Early today, the three Q-Boats returned to Sisiman Cove with all theit missions accomplished specially that one by Q-113 of Lt S C Nuval.
March 12, 1942 - continued At noontime, I noted the four PT Boats have not returned to Sisiman Cove and when I visited Corregidor in the afternoon, I learned from Lt Leonie Guerero at PRO that Gen MacArthur and a party of 26 left Corregidor using PT-41, PT-32, PT-34 & PT-35 of Lt Bulkeley in compliance with FDR's orders. I also learned that my friend, Maj Huff, was with the party and understood why he "borrowed" late last month my portable rubber boat which, I am sure, was brought along. Among those in the party, aside from the general and his wife, were their young son, Arthur and his Amah, Gen R Sutherland and two USN officers Adm H Rockwell and Capt H Ray. I consider using PT Boats to get out of Corregidor perilous as the enemy had complete control of the air and sea. A submarine is safer and available. Now, I realize why I had to patrol the area previously covered by PT Boats and Q-113 mission to Zambales last night as clever diversionary tactics to cover MacArthur's escape.
March 15, 1942 "Word War" continues. Q-112 is now assigned to patrol West Bataan Coast, previously a responsibility Lt Bulkeley's PT Boats. Q-111 of Capt Navarette now covers Bataan East Coast. It is now Q-113's turn for engine overhaul. I surmise that by now, Gen MacArthur and party must have reached Del Monte Airfield in Bukidnon where Gen Brereton's B-17 shuttle service to Australia is. The PT's have to take advantage of darkness and it would only take two nights to reach the nearest northern Mindanao port to Del Monte. They could be there two days ago on the 13th although, I think, the enemy does not know this.
March 15, 1942 - continued Pres. Quezon left Corregidor 20 days ahead of Gen MacArthur who wanted his Compadre (Quezon) to proceed to Australia per invitation of FDR. But Quezon, still sulking and upset that mother America failed him on reinforcements, debarked in San Jose, Antique. From there, he traveled to different places in Panay Island and later crossed to Negros where he is now. Apparently he does not like to leave his people and I wonder what he will do. Before Gen MacArthur departed Corregidor, he relinquished his USAFFE Command quietly to Gen Wainwright, newly designated C-in-C, US Forces in the Phil (USFIP). Gen Edward King took over the Bataan command of Wainwright.
March 18, 1942 This is the 24th "Lull Day" in all fronts and the "Word War" going on helped to obscure the secret escape of Gen MacArthur from Corregidor a week ago. Meanwhile, Q-112 continues her routine patrol of West Bataan Coast while Q-111 covers East Bataan Coast. Finally, yesterday, the whole world knew the dramatic escape. Upon arrival of Gen MacArthur and party at Bachelors Field, 40 miles south of Darwin, Australia from Mindanao, confronted by the Australian press, he said, "The President of the US ordered me to break through the Japanese lines and proceed from Corregidor to Australia for the purpose, as I understand it, of organizing the American offensive against Japan, a primary object of which is the relief of the Philippines. I CAME THROUGH and I SHALL RETURN".
March 18, 1942 - continued No mention was made of the arrival of Pres Quezon and party in Australia aboard another B-17 that left Mindanao a bit ahead of MacArthur's B-17. I understand the general would not leave Mindanao without his "Compadre" Quezon left sulking in the Visayas. Besides, Pres Roosevelt wants Quezon to have his govt in exile in USA. I calculated that it would take only two nights for the PTs to make the 620 miles from Corregidor to Cagayan de Oro, nearest port to Del Monte Airfield in Mindanao where the B-17 shuttle to Australia operates. My calculation was confirmed by Corregidor USN Intelligence tracking Adm Rockwell and Capt Ray aboard PT-34 of Lt Kelley as the party had, in fact, arrived in Cagayan de Oro early morning of March 13.
March 18, 1942 - continued The news about MacArthur's dramatic escape using PT Boats instead of submarines is devastating to the enemy. We, of the 1st Q-Boat Sqn, are proud of our brethrens of PT Ron Three under Lt Bulkeley for their accomplishments. I expect to know more details about this escapade from friends at USN Intelligence.
March 20, 1942 This is the 26th day of "Lull in All Fronts" as Q-112 and Q-111 continue with their nightly routine Bataan sea coastal patrols. From the office of Major Romulo and USN Intelligence in Corregidor, I learned more details of that dramatic escape of MacArthur from Corregidor using PT Boats instead of a Submarine. The party boarded after dark March 11, at South Dock, distributed in 4 PT Boats with Gen MacArthur and family aboard PT-41 (Bulkeley's flagship) Ens George Cox, CO; Adm Rockwell aboard PT-34 Lt R Kelly, CO: other PT-32 Lt (jg) V Schumacher, CO; PT-35 Ens Akers, CO. Under cover of darkness, the PTs got thru the minefields and dashed for the open China Sea on their 620 mile journey to North Mindanao headed for Cuyo Gp where they spent daylight March 12 at Tagcauayan. PT 32 had engine trouble, passengers and crew transferred to other PTs and abandoned. They expected rendezvous with a back-up no show submarine.
March 20, 1942 - continued The night of March 12 -- dashed southeast at 40 knots arriving 0700 March 13 at Cagayan de Oro Wharf where Gen Sharp welcomed MacArthur aboard PT-41 and PT-34 with military honors. PT-35 arrived much later due to engine problem. MacArthur and party were escorted to nearby Del Monte Pineapple Plantation whose Airfield is used by the B-17 Shuttle to Australia. Adequate quarters and facilities at Del Monte were most welcomed by a very weary and tired group that suffered severe sea-sickness and shaken like pop-corn in rough seas cramped among torpedo tubes as quarters.
March 22, 1942 The "Lull In Bataan" continues on its 28th day but let me continue with more additional details learned from Major Romulo's office about the dramatic escape of MacArthur from Corregidor eleven days ago. Immediately after Gen MacArthur's arrival at Del Monte on March 13, Gen Sharp gave a briefing about Vis-Min Area and fresh reports say Pres Quezon is still wavering on whether he will leave the Philippines or not and is hiding somewhere in Negros Oriental about 100 miles north. Alarmed and greatly disturbed by this report MacArthur summoned Lt John Bulkeley and ordered him to locate and "persuade" Quezon to join them at Del Monte with Lt Col Andres Soriano as guide and a few men of Gen Sharp to assist. Using PT-41 and PT-35, Bulkeley and Soriano were able to locate Quezon hiding in Bais, Negros Oriental. At first, Quezon refused to budge and it took some "persuasion" by a pirate looking Bulkeley for Quezon and party to finally relent and board PT-41 & PT-35.
March 22, 1942 - continued On their way to Cagayan de Oro, PT- 35 went aground and her passengers were transferred, packed like sardines that upset Quezon, to PT-41. Military Honors was rendered by Gen Sharp on Quezon upon arrival at Cagayan de Oro Wharf. MacArthur lost no time placating the hurt feelings of his Compadre and so before midnight of March 16, Quezon and party boarded a B-17 at Del Monte and headed for Australia. Shortly, thereafter, MacArthur and party boarded another B-17 that took them to Bachelors Field where he declared his famous "I Shall Return" on March 17.
March 22, 1942 - continued By this time, of the original 6 PTs, only PT-41of Bulkeley's PT Squadron remains. Lt Bulkeley was left behind and given instructions by MacArthur to reconnoiter the Southern Cotabato Coast for possible Allied landing sites when MacArthur returns as he intended.
March 25, 1942 This is the 31st day "Lull in Bataan" as the Q-Boats continue their routine monotonous Coastal Patrols. As good and bad news are hard to come by, it is only today I learned of the fate of the big ships of Adm Hart's Asiatic Fleet that moved to Dutch East Indies waters last December and later became part of the Allied Naval Forces under Dutch Adm E E Helfrich. In late January, the USS Boise ran aground and lucky to return to USA for repairs to fight another day. The USS Marblehead was badly damaged after enemy attacks in February, managed to be towed to Boston via South Africa for repairs to fight again later. However, the big cruiser USS Houston ran out of luck and sunk during the battle of Java Sea with many casualties. Half of the 29 submarines under Capt John Wilkes became a part of Adm Helfrich naval forces and operated in Surabaya.
March 25, 1942 - continued Finally, after eight days fighting following the Japanese landings in Java, the Allied Forces of more than 100,000 troops capitulated to the Japanese Forces. The USAFFE is not doing bad at all considering that we have not given up 106 days now after the initial Japanese landings in Luzon last Dec 10 despite lack of reinforcements, supplies and other handicaps. Before the Dutch surrendered in Java, the submarine force under Capt Wilkes moved to Freemantle, Australia as new base of operations. The other half of the Asiatic submarine force under Captain James Fife went directly from the Philippines to Darwin, Australia where they operated supporting USAFFE operations like bringing badly needed ammo and evacuating certain critical passengers like Pres Quezon and party, High Commissioner Francis B Sayre and party and other selected military personnel as directed from time to time.
March 30, 1942 Two days ago, Q-112 became NRFS (not ready for sea) the first time since the war started. Her main engines have exceeded the 700 hrs operation by 200 hrs and are due for extensive overhaul by Lt Joe Zulueta and his mechanics. I and the crew are having a respite at our Bataan Shore Camp upstream Sisiman River. The two days I've been ashore gave me time to ponder our fate for the first time. This is the 36th day "Lull" and when I saw some of the troops of the 2nd Reg Div, I could feel the effects of starvation diet and ravages of sickness living in the jungles of Bataan from their gaunt bodies and sunken eyes. It dawned on me that the enemy may just prolong the "Lull" and like a plant, we will just "die in the vine".
March 30, 1942 - continued The signs are clear but I refused to see them. For instance, when War Plan Orange was made effective last Dec 24, that was the initial bad sign. By the end of Dec, the Asiatic Fleet and remaining B-17s had scampered south. No reinforcements were possible as long as the enemy retain air and sea power. Pres Quezon, H.C. Sayre and Gen MacArthur are all gone now. After the Asiatic Fleet abandoned us last Dec, our naval defense relied on nine torpedo boats (6PTs & 3 Qs). Since last Mar. 11 when MacArthur used the remaining PTs, our naval defense fell on these hapless three Q-Boats and so for the past twenty days, our very own three Q-Boats are the only fighting ships to support our beleaguered USAFFE troops. I can only wish that those eight Q-Boats under construction at Engineer Island were completed before the start of WW II-wishful thinking ashore in Bataan.