Bataan Diary


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The United States Philippine Islands Forces (USPIF)--Zambales was first formed by a red-haired, bearded, American mining engineer named Ralph McGuire.  McGuire, like many engineers in the Philippines in 1941, had joined the USAFFE Army when the Japanese attacked.  As an explosives expert he was invited to join the infiltration party of Lt. Col. Claude Thorp when they snuck through Japanese lines in Feb. 1942 to spy on the Japanese.

After the fall of Bataan on 9 April 1942, Thorp directed McGuire and Filipino Ramon Magsaysay to organize the first band of guerrillas in the Zambales Mountains.  Thorp appointed McGuire commander and chief guerrilla organizer of Zambales Province.  After the fall of Corregidor on May 6, 1942, the Japanese "Kempei-tai" (military police) learned about Thorp, McGuire, Magsaysay, and several other of Thorp's lieutenants, put their names on a wanted list, and offered rewards for them, dead or alive.

By Feb., 1943, McGuire had the organization of Zambales almost complete, and he appointed Capt. Winston Jones C.O. of the area of Zambales between Olongapo and Cabangan.  But in April McGuire was killed by one of his own men in Castillejos, who cut his head off and took it to the Japanese for the reward.  The Japanese stuck McGuire's head on a pole and paraded it around the villages of Zambales as an example of American weakness.  Most of McGuire's organization disbanded at this point, and Capt. Jones left to join Col. Gyles Merrill at his hideout in the Zambales Mountains.  But one of Major Anderson's guerilla leaders, Capt. Guilberto Sia who went by the nom de guerre "Ernest Newman," stepped in and took command of the men who were willing to stay.  Col. Thorp had been captured by the Japanese, so Sia continued to report to Major Anderson in Tayabas Province on the east coast of Luzon.  During 1943, the guerrilla groups that reported to Anderson established courier connections among themselves, including Sia, Santos in Bulacan, and Anderson's command in Tayabas.  Sia established coast-watcher stations along the Zambales coast and gathered information on Japanese ship movements.  His command, now known as USPIF, covered the area of western Zambales Province from Olongapo up to Botolan, including the Subic Bay area.  

In October 1944, after Captain Cabangbang joined Anderson at his headquarters in Tayabas, Guilberto Sia agreed to transport radio equipment to Col. Gyles Merrill in the Zambales Mountains, and to switch over to Merrill's command.  Merrill was the senior officer on Luzon at that point, was located in the Zambales mountains, and wanted to take charge of all of Luzon.  With Sia's USPIF in his command, he at least had all of Zambales.  A fair amount of information about Col. Merrill can be found in Bataan Diary.

In December 1944 it appears that a band of men from USPIF moved east to Bulacan Province, probably either looking for food supplies or attempting to contact Alejo Santos or Capt. Cabangbang to solicit arms and/or radios.  In Bulacan they got into a fire fight with the Hukbalahap--the Huks were attempting to take over Pampanga and Bulacan at that time, to establish a communist government.  Magsaysay, meanwhile, had also joined Merrill and was acting as supply officer and liaison between Merrill and the west coast guerrillas.  When MacArthur's liberation army landed on Luzon, Merrill ordered Magsaysay to have the Zambales guerrillas clear the west coast of Zambales of Japanese, which they did, enabling the U.S. XI Corps to land there unopposed.  (It is not clear who, exactly, was in charge of USPIF at this point, Sia or Magsaysay.)  After the war, Merrill recommended that Magsaysay be appointed provisional governor of Zambales, thus launching his political career which would lead to the presidency.

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Copyright © 2006 Chris Schaefer.