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Guerrilla Raid on Talisayan

Starting today we will feature the first of many guerrilla operations which eventually led to the Liberation of Cagayan on May 12, 1945 by Filipino Guerrillas.

Pvt. Alfonso Sumastre

One of the most unusual guerrilla operations in the Philippines during World War II was the guerrilla raid on Talisayan, Misamis Oriental, which was conducted with the assistance of the US Navy to eliminate and wipe out the Japanese garrisoned at this key objective.

Amphibious in nature, the operation involved guerrilla units of the 110th Infantry Regiment, 110th Division, 10th Military District (Mindanao), United States Forces in the Philippines (USFIP). The US Navy Task Group 70.4 coordinated the operation.

Task Group 70.4  was created to aid Filipino Guerillas in the southern areas of the Philippines. As originally constituted, the Task Group consisted of Landing Craft, Support (Large) LCS (L) 9 and 10, and Landing Craft Infantry (Large) LCI (L) s 361 and 363 under the command of Lieutenant Albert C. Eldridge.

The genesis for the Talisayan Operation was subtly intimated by Commander Charles “Chick”  Parsons, whose work in organizing the submarine supply of the guerrillas had given him a great deal of expertise in the matters facing Task Group 70.4.

The suave Parsons proposed the raid to the new commander of the Task Group as described later by Eldridge in the ship’s history.

Plans of operation were laid out in a conference between Major Paul H. Marshall, commanding officer, 110th Div (Guerrilla) and Major Harvey Harcourt, Inf, Capt. T.R. Daniel, Inf., Capt. William V. Pritz, Inf., Lt. William Griffin (USNR), and Lt. Albert E. Eldridge (USNR), of Task Group 70.4.

The Talisayan garrison was selected as the target of an amphibious operation because of its value as a barge staging base midway between Cagayan and the Mindanao Sea, as Parsons aptly stated in his earlier conversation with Eldridge.  

LCI(L)-363 being unloaded at Gingoog, Misamis Oriental most probably by guerrillas of the 110th Infantry Regiment. (US Navy Photo)

Reports indicated that the garrison had an approximate strength of 250 Japanese in the town center with another seventy in an outpost at a barrio two kilometers south.

Guerrillas coached in Amphibious Landings

Marshall, following instructions, proceeded to Balingasag, Misamis Oriental, and undertook the training of the guerrillas to be utilized as a landing force. Rigid training lasted ten days.

The 110th Infantry Regiment headed by Maj. Rosauro P. Dongallo, Sr. covered the area from Tagoloan River to Lenugos (present day Magsaysay), Misamis Oriental with headquarters at Balingasag, Misamis Oriental.

The regimental staff under Dongallo included Capt. Clyde Abbot (Executive Officer); Capt. Benjamin Pacana (Adjutant, S1); Lt. Fabian Villaroya (Intelligence, S2); Lt. Ireneo Villano (Plans & Training, S3); Lt. Papias Tiro (Finance Officer); Dr. Julian Tolentino (Regimental Surgeon); and Alfredo Hojas (Food Procurement Officer).

The company commanders included Capt. Benjamin Hernandez, Capt. Fernandez, Lt. Emeterio Moreno, Lt. Nilo Moreno, Lt. Jose Docdocil, and Lt. Atilano Labuntog.

Dr. Gerardo Sabal was the 3rd Battalion medical officer stationed in Sta. Ana, Tagoloan.

During a later reorganization, Dongallo handpicked the following officers, assigned them to responsible positions and assigned to strategic areas of the 110th Regiment: Lt. Eustaquio Carpio, Eustaquio Embate, Felino Pangilinan, George Ramos, Realino Edquila, Benjamin Valmores, Natividad del Pilar, and Bonifacio Pailagao.

On 19 March 1945, the two LCIs supported by two LCS’s of Task Group 70.4 arrived at the barrio of Lagonglong, seven miles north of Balingasag for its Mission No. 7, where the LCIs picked up 380 guerrillas.  

This task force proceeded immediately to Talisayan arriving there at dawn the following day.

The Mighty Midgets cometh

On the following afternoon, 20 March, the entire group bombarded Talisayan Poblacion, Lipata, Sipalong and Bugdan, Misamis Oriental, all barrios within five miles of each other, for about an hour, destroying houses, ammunition dumps, straddling the Jap headquarters in the area, and flushing 8 Japs who left their rifles, packs, bayonets, ammunition, etc., behind.

According to Pvt. Alfonso Sumastre, a Filipino guerrilla who served as a guide in one of the LCS gunboats, Parsons accompanied them on the mission.

“We boarded at Camiguin (island). I was assigned to one of the gunboats that attacked the garrison at Talisayan. Each of the boats had two scouts with them. Parsons directed us to Calamcam, (a coastal barrio in Talisayan) where pointed out the location of the Japanese and their fuel storage tanks. There were big explosions on the shore and the smoke rose up very high. The raid was very successful. The Japanese did not return there.”

A ‘Milk Run’

By 0600 Hrs, the attacking force occupied Sipaca and the barrios of Sipalong and Bugdang. The ammunition dump at Sipaca was blown up by supporting shell fire.

Included in the material captured were two trucks with Chevrolet motors, two usable type A steel barges complete with diesel engines, 20 rifles, many cases of ammunition, 60 sacks of polished rice, canned goods, an excellent automotive repair shop with motor maintenance tools, three radio sets, gasoline, fuel oil, and documents giving the disposition and strength, as well as defense plans, of the entire Jap forces on Mindanao.

To date these plans have been followed fairly closely by the Japanese retreating inland. The trucks were conditioned by the motor machinist mates of the LCS 10 and were running the same afternoon.

The group remained in the area to discourage any counter attacks by the Japanese and when the guerrillas had the situation well in hand, the group returned to its home port, towing one captured steel barge to Mambajao for repairs on the way.

A total of 32 Japanese soldiers were killed during the initial landings, with no guerrilla casualties.

During the operation,145 more of the enemy were killed and 6 captured, with 6 guerrilla casualties and none on the 70.4 Task Force.

The operation was such a “milk run” that the Air Force was requested to cancel all bombing and strafing missions in the Talisayan area.

This Talisayan operation was the first of several successful amphibious guerrilla offensives against the Japanese in conjunction with Task Group. 70.4. (compiled by Mike Baños)

The Liberation of Cagayan de Oro during World War II will be commemorated by the “War of our Fathers” World War II Exhibit starting May 12, 2024 at the 2nd Floor of SM CDO Uptown. This is brought to you by the Philippine Veterans Bank, Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO), City of Cagayan de Oro, Province of Misamis Oriental, SM CDO Uptown and the Cagayan de Oro World War II & Veterans Studies Committee. Exhibit is open during mall hours. Admission is free.

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