January 3, 1945, guerrilla headquarters in the Philippines received an order
from GHQ, SWPA, excerpts of which were: "Top secret. You will proceed to
destroy targets. Starting with dusk on fourth January. Concurrently if possible
you will employ all manpower and resources at disposal to sabotage Japanese wire
communications exclusively of Manila Area, power lines, railroad tracks,
roadhouses, rolling stock, vehicles and all methods of transportation. Greatest
possible destruction of aircraft in dispersal area, ammunition, gasoline and
other supply installations is desired. Observe paramount secrecy."
On receiving information that United States operation forces had landed in Pangasinan in January 1945, Maj. Jose A.V. Corpus rushed to Lingayen and offered his assistance as commanding officer of the ZMD. In the absence of Corpus, Merrill ordered Capt. Ramon Magsaysay to assume direct command of the Zambales guerrillas and to clear the entire area from San Felipe to Olongapo of all enemy personnel and military establishments. Magsaysay summoned all sector commanders of ZMD and issued them their respective battle orders. In the evening of January 16, 1945, Magsaysay and members of his staff proceeded to Mt. Malaplap between Subic and Castillejos.
At exactly 12:00 midnight, Magsaysay fired a flare gun to signal the execution of the orders given to all guerrilla sectors. Immediately, explosives blew up. Reinforcing Japanese troops from Olongapo rushed to the San Marcelino airfield but fallen trees blocked the highway and guerrillas ambushed them. The guerrillas also overran the powerful Japanese radio transmitting station at San Miguel, San Antonio; killed all the Japanese defenders; and cleared the beaches from San Felipe to San Antonio of all Japanese military installations.
At dawn on January 29, American battleships loomed on the horizon between San Felipe and San Antonio. In the sky zoomed hundreds of airplanes. The U.S. XI Corps under the command of Maj. Gen. Charles P. Hall and other contingents of the U.S. liberation forces had come to Zambales.
According to the U.S. assault plan, aerial bombardment of the coastal area from San Felipe to San Narciso was to commence at 8:30 A.M. sharp. Afterwards, assault units of the XI Corps, the 38th Infantry Division, and the 34th Regimental Combat Team would land on the beaches. However, moments before the zero hour, two guerrillas of the La Paz Sector in San Narciso - 1st Lt. Aureliano Tadena, and Sgt. Pablo Magno on a banca (outrigger canoe) frantically waved to the XIth Corps flagship. Simultaneously in San Felipe, other guerrillas- Capt. Jose Manglicmot, 1st Lt. Uldarico Francia, 2nd Lt. Conrado Manglicmot, Pvt. Isabelo Acierto and Pvt. Faustino Abuado - were able to contact U.S. landing forces before bombardment could commence. They informed the American forces out in the sea that guerillas had cleared the coastal area between San Felipe and San Antonio of all Japanese troops and had destroyed Japanese military installations including vital communication facilities. Thus, the U.S. liberation forces landed without the preliminary aerial bombardment and saved the towns of San Antonio, San Narciso and San Felipe of merciless shellings.
Because the Zambales guerrillas had removed any Japanese challenge to the U.S. landings, the Americans achieved their objective ahead of schedule. They seized Olongapo and other Japanese facilities in Subic Bay and opened the area immediately to American warships. They held the roads in Hermosa and Dinalupihan and prevented Japanese forces from moving to Bataan to make a last ditch stand.
Before sunset of January 29, U.S. Forces had occupied San Marcelino airstrip, engineers of the U.S. armed forces had started repair work to make the airfield operative. A guerrilla intelligence report submitted to Magsaysay in Subic apprised him of enemy positions from Botolan to Palauig and the possible dangers faced by the civilian population there. A combined force of U.S. soldiers and Zambales guerrillas led by Capt. Casimiro Lim mounted an attack against some Japanese forces that dug in at the foothills east of the Botolan poblacion. Botolan was freed from enemy control, but Capt. Lim was hit by a Japanese gunfire and killed.
After liberating Olongapo, American troops belonging to the 152nd Infantry, 8th Division of the XI Corps supported by the Zambales guerrillas led by Captains Ramon Magsaysay and Edward Johnson pushed southward to Bataan and ran into well-entrenched Japanese forces at the Zigzag Pass between Olongapo and Dinalupihan. The Japanese forces poured deadly mortar and artillery fire on the advancing American and Filipino troops but with airpower support from the San Marcelino airstrip, the Japanese were overwhelmed. The Japanese defeat at the Zigzag Pass during the first week of February 1945 enabled the U.S. forces to move on to Manila.
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WW II in Zambales
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