Himugso Heritage Feature: Guerrilla Submarines in Northern Mindanao during World War II (Part 2)

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By Mike Baños
June 12, 2019

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The Alubijid Mission

Narwhal then proceeded to Alubijid, Misamis Oriental on December 5, 1943 to pick up nine evacuees. The ship’s log dated December 5, 1943 War Patrol No. 8 Alubijid (a microfilm of the actual entry in the ship’s log) shows details of its rendezvous:

0148 hours, she sighted the proper security signal at Alubijid, Majacalar Bay. 2nd Lt Noble, PA, came aboard to verify Narwhal was there to embark evacuees, then returned to shore. One boat load came alongside carrying the DeVries family. Other boats followed sometime later. 

Relatives of the Filipino guerrillas and residents who helped unload Narwhal recalled the tales told to them by their forebears of that memorable event.

Frank Galarrita relates how one of the teams that unloaded arms from the sub were his two grandfathers, the father of Virgilio Galarrita, and  the Vice Mayor of Alubijid at that time, Ismael Labis, who was accompanied by his two teen-aged daughters.

“I think Lt. Noble was from Cebu,” he recalls. “They pronounced Noble as Noob-lee not in English as No-bol.”

“My aunt told me that they brought the precious goods to Barangay Lourdes, thereafter, probably some went to Bukidnon. But Barangay Lourdes at that time was still a town of Bukidnon.”

“So that was the name of the submarine that quietly docked in Moog to unload supplies for the Filipino guerillas,” recalls Virgilio Galarrita. “My father was one of those civilians recruited to carry all kinds of supplies from the sub.”

“He said there were all kinds and sizes of boxes to be carried. He said he regretted to have volunteered to carry a small box not knowing that it was heavy since it was one of the ammo boxes. He said he should have picked one of those big wooden boxes carried by two people and happened to be lighter since they were boxes of biscuits and cookies.”

“After that there were stories that went around that some of those volunteers ate some of those biscuits and cookies, others took some home to their families, after they cracked open the box. Mga abtik gyud kining uban nga mga Alubijidnon!”

“My grandfather Manuel Gapuz was one of them, I think,” said Manuel Abellanosa. “They used a gas lantern (known locally as Petromax) covered with a big tin can (taro) with a hole to communicate with the submarine at night via Morse Code. Supplies, guns and ammo were carried through a "back trail" up to Bukidnon. They would pass by Lunsi where Lola Doding, Mommy Ellen, Uncle Fred evacuated.”

Former Misamis Oriental Provincial Board Member Cromwell Galarrita Generalao shared his stories:

“The US submarine that docked in Moog, Alubijid in 1943 was among the many popular stories of the war in Alubijid. 

Unfortunately we have no documents, letters or records of the event. My father, Arturo Jamis Generalao, tirelessly and fondly told stories of the war, among which was a US submarine that docked in Moog.”

“The US submarine brought modern firearms and supplies for the Philippine Army and the local guerrillas. My father recalled that one evening, while at Guinotang, Alubijid, about 2 kilometers from the Poblacion where his family had a small farm, he noticed that some guerrillas, many of them his relatives, were walking briskly towards the Poblacion, Alubijid.”

“The guerrillas commandeered some carabaos. As a curious teenager and fascinated by the actions of war, he followed the guerrillas. On their way, he heard the guerrillas talking about receiving modern firearms from a US ship at Moog.”

“When he heard of a US ship at Moog, my father said he was very excited to follow the guerrillas, with the intention of boarding the US ship and go to the US. From Poblacion, the troops proceeded towards, Lanao, Molocboloc and finally Moog.”

“At Moog shore, he saw Philippine Army soldiers on the shore. He thought they were from the Philippine Army Camp at Kalabaylabay, El Salvador. The Army soldiers had a Petromax.”

“My father said he was so amazed at the sight of the US submarine that looked different from a ship. He tried to join the line of the guerrillas, pretending to help carry the firearms and supplies to shore, but actually intended to board the submarine and stow away. But the US sailors only allowed Filipino Army soldiers to board the submarine to haul the firearms and supplies.”

“The guerrillas stayed at the shore to receive the firearms and supplies and tied them to the carabaos. The firearms and supplies loaded on the carabaos were brought towards Lourdes, Alubijid.”

“The sight of the submarine for the first time and the new modern firearms with lots of ammunition fascinated my father, Philippine Army soldiers and the guerrillas. He identified the firearms as: Garand rifles, Thompson submachineguns, M-1 Carbines, and Browning Automatic Rifles.”

Narwhal embarked two men, three women, and four children then stood out of Majacalar Bay at 0446 hours.

Back to Cabadbaran

On March 3, 1944 Narwhal was back in Cabadbaran to deliver 70 tons of supplies but had to abort the mission when 3 IJN destroyers approached. She was able to meet with Capt. Hamner and pick up 9 evacuees including Hamner.

At 1000 hours, on March 2nd, the proper security signal was spotted on the beach at Cabadbaran. She surfaced and a boat came alongside. Three representatives of Fertig came aboard.

They said Fertig was waiting at the Agusan River mouth because it was too difficult to tow their barge into the bay. Latta brought Narwhal as near to the river shoal as he dared and then laid to. 

Narwhal's crew began rigging their two launches topside for delivery to Fertig. Fertig came aboard and asked Latta to move up the channel to the barge and to delay unloading until the next day. But Latta refused both requests. Instead, he sent one of Narwhal's launches to have the barge towed alongside.

By 0210 hours on March 3rd, seventy tons of cargo was unloaded and two 26-foot whale boats were delivered to Fertig. Narwhal also embarked twenty service men and eight civilians, including two women. At 0229 hours, Narwhal stood out of Butuan Bay.

On May 28, 1944, Narwhal had to abort its mission to Sanco Point off Bislig, Surigao del Sur when no contact was established with the guerrillas for two days so she was unable to deliver mail and supplies or pick up evacuees and captured documents, eventually leaving the area at 0420 HRS on May 29th.

Last Mission to Balingasag

On Sept 27, 1944 Narwhal was back under Cmdr. Jack C. Titus (who took command starting with her 11th War Patrol) in Northern Mindanao, to deliver 3 men and 20 tons of supplies to Balingasag, Misamis Oriental, This later proved to be the last Spyron mission to Northern Mindanao.

Narwhal surfaced on the night of Sept. 27, 1944 and sighted the proper signal from the shore of Balingasag. Some 45 minutes later, a heavy rain obscured all land and at 1744 hrs a small boat with a US Ensign was sighted. All cargo was unloaded by 2100 in spite of the bad weather and at 2103, Narwhal commenced clearing the coast. 

By Sept. 28 she left the Mindanao Sea for Siari Bay where she embarked 31 liberated POWS. The prisoners had been aboard Japanese transports sunk by Paddle (SS-263)  off Sindagan Point on September 6.

In October 20, 1944 MacArthur fulfilled his vow to return to the Philippines with the invasion of Leyte and mopping up operations of isolated pockets of Japanese resistance started on April 17, 1945

The last Spyron mission was conducted by Nautilus, Narwhal's sister submarine, on January 3, 1945 at Baculin Bay, Davao Oriental, to offload 45 tons of supplies which were received by 2nd Lt. N. Artero in behalf of Fertig.

On August 15, 1945 Japan surrendered to the Allied forces in Tokyo Bay. (Guerrilla photos courtesy of MacArthur Memorial)

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