Liberation of Panay

On December 8, 1941, several hours after the Empire of Japan launched the Attack on Pearl Harbor, they attacked the American colony of the Philippines, eventually defeating the combined American and Philippine forces and beginning nearly 4 years of Japanese occupation.

On October 20, 1944, American and Filipino forces led by General Douglas MacArthur landed on Leyte during the Battle of Leyte liberating the island of Leyte and beginning the successful Philippines campaign of 1944–1945.

As part of that campaign, the Battle of the Visayas began on March 18, 1945 with the Allied landing at Tigbauan, Iloilo on Panay.

Picture from Facebook account of Diclum Elementary School

The area of operations for the Battle of the Visayas was divided in two because of the mountainous terrain of Negros Island. The planners chose to seize the western portion, including northwestern Negros and Panay island, during Operation VICTOR I. Lt. Gen. Robert L. Eichelberger, the Eighth Army commander, appointed the 40th Infantry Division, a California National Guard formation and veterans of the recent Battle of Luzon, under Maj. Gen. Rapp Brush, with the 503rd Airborne Regimental Combat Team in reserve. Panay Island was the first objective.

On 18 March 1945, after two weeks of aerial bombardment on Japanese positions, the 40th Infantry Division, spearheaded by the 185th Infantry Regiment landed unopposed at Tigbauan, several    miles south of Iloilo City, where a 23,000-strong guerrilla force under Col. Macario Peralta had secured most of Panay. Recalled Gen. Eichelberger: “Filipino guerrillas stood stiff, resplendent in starched khaki uniforms and ornaments and decked in battle gear”. Lt. Charles Stewart said “An interesting incident occurred during the Panay invasion. The landing was several miles from Ioilo City and I flew up to the city on reconnaissance. After circling the city a few times I noticed a group of people had come down to the beach, waving at us. They had printed in large letters in the sand, “Japs are gone.” I radioed that good news back to the (U.S.S.) Cleveland. I imagine the troops walking up the road toward Ioilo City still took precautions.” [3] This video on YouTube of the Panay landing taken by the Army Pictorial Service shows the unopposed landing and march into Iloilo City. The regiment proceeded to seize airfields at Mandurriao, Iloilo City and [[Iloilo International Airport|Barrio Tiring, Cabatuan, Iloilo].

The Japanese were concentrated in Iloilo City proper, and the 40th Division easily swept these Japanese outposts in two days. Mopping up operations by the guerrillas and 2nd Battalion of the 160th Infantry Regiment continued, and at war’s end, some 1,500 Japanese troops surrendered.

Guimaras and Inampulugan islands, between Panay and Negros, were seized on the same day Iloilo fell, 20 March and the next day, respectively with no opposition.

Overall, the Visayas operations of the U.S. Eighth Army suffered relatively light casualties in comparison to Japanese figures. The 40th Division in Panay and northeastern Negros suffered 390 killed and 1,025 wounded with the Japanese sustaining 4,080 killed with another 3,300 succumbed to disease and starvation.  (source : Wikipedia, Video courtesy of Facebook post of Joel Fred Tolentino Migar )

Panay Island Invasion

Posted by Joel Fred Tolentino Migar on Monday, January 4, 2016

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