Gochan Hill: The 1st Battle of Cebu 67-years ago

SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Bobit S. Avila () - March 29, 2012 - 12:00am

As promised, we will feature in this column today, the 67th year (sorry for the clerical error yesterday where I printed the 57th year) of the Battle of Gochan Hill, which until today still cannot be found in our local history books simply because of our Tagalog centric historians that gave accounts of World War II history from their own views and did not care that history was also being made throughout the rest of the Philippines. Here is what I’ve already written about this first big battle for the Liberation of Cebu, which hopefully will help educate the ignorant, especially our Armed Forces of the Philippines about the history of Cebu during the Second World War.

“The Gochan Hill lies still today; on its eastern flank are the Ecotech Center and the Lahug Creek and Gorordo Ave, just across the Mormon Temple. On top of this hill is what golfers call the “Carabao Golf Course” a hastily made very small 9-hole golf course with mostly par-3’s. Few Cebuanos know that Gochan Hill which is still owned by the Gochan family even today was the site of the first bloody battle in the City of Cebu a few days after the Liberation in Talisay. Today one of its bunkers is still there and it can only be accessed through a tunnel.

The Americal Division called it Hill no. 31 and on March 29, 1945 the 182nd Infantry commanded by Lt. Col. John Watt attacked Gochan Hill. Sherman Tanks from Company “B” Medium Tank Battalion moved up the Guadalupe Road in a pincer tactic to give supporting fire. One Sherman tank fired point blank at a cave and it turned out to be an ammunition dump that exploded and shook the entire hill. This battle resulted in 125 wounded from Company “A” with one Sherman tank was destroyed and two were heavily damaged. 105 Howitzers positioned in the Hippodromo Race Track fired a continuous barrage at Gochan Hill.

This battle lasted for 3-days and the American soldiers neutralized 85 pillboxes surrounding the hill and killed more than 200 Japanese inside the pillboxes and bunkers, many of them using the deadly flamethrowers to flush out the fierce Japanese defenders. The Americans were firing from up what is now Peace Valley, from the hills behind the Provincial Capitol where I now live and the hills above the Guadalupe River. In his encounter two Sherman Tanks disabled. Later as I was growing up in Parian, I played on that destroyed Sherman Tank which was left across what is now the Task Force for Street Children. But no doubt, someone sold it for scrap!

On the same day in March 29th Lt. Col. Raymond E. Daehler was ordered to move the First Battalion to secure the Lahug Airfield, taking it from the Mandaue side. They found dozens of destroyed Japanese fighter planes that were bombed by B-24 Liberators months earlier. They also found out that the Japanese removed the plane’s 20mm machine guns and brought it to the tunnels of Babag. But they could not secure the Lahug Airfield owing to the incessant mortar fire from the well-entrenched Japanese soldiers in their pillboxes, bunkers and tunnels.”

As we have hoped that all Cebuano students would read this piece so that they will never try to change our history. That reenactment last Monday by the AFP was clearly designed for dramatics. But there was no drama in the beaches of Talisay 67-years ago, except that a few American soldiers died when their LVT’s struck a minefield, which was supposedly neutralized by the rapid fire rockets brought by the LCIs. I don’t blame the Philippine Navy’s PIO for his ignorance, however now that we wrote this piece of history, perhaps the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) should gather the articles that we wrote in order to give some kind of accuracy to this very important historic event that happened in Cebu 67-years ago.

This piece of history is so important I even acquired a full map of the Victor II Attack Group pointing the exact locations of all its vessels and their importance in the Talisay Landing. This map was given to me as a gift by a good friend, Dr. Mark Lauron who is now in Bakersfield, California. He got it from one of the officers of one of the vessels involved in the Victor II operations and he found it in ebay…and as it turned out, they lived only a few kilometers from each other.

There is no doubt that there is truth to what George Santayana once said, “Those who cannot remember their past are condemned to repeat it.” If this country is having trouble today, it is due to the fact that we did not solve the problems in the past. 95-years ago, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to three little children at the Cova de Iria in Fatima, Portugal in an apparition approved as authentic by a series of Popes, yet the simple request by our Immaculate mother inside the Third Secret of Fatima to consecrate Russia to her Immaculate heart has not been heeded… hence today Russia continues to spread her errors even today. This is history repeating itself. I will write more about the relevance of the revelations in Fatima in today’s times.

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Email: vsbobita@mozcom.com

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