The Liberation of Cebu: 68 years ago!

SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Bobit S. Avila - The Freeman

It is the 68th anniversary of the Talisay Landings by the US Americal Division and I hope that this time around, the Philippine Navy contingent that observes this historic event will be true to their reenactment of this event. Last year, we chastised the Philippine Navy for holding a mock battle of the Talisay Landings… something that really did not happen 68 years ago.

The attack on Cebu began when the Seventh Fleet's Task Force 74 fired its heavy guns to soften up the Talisay Beachhead. Then the ships of Victor II Attack Group moved into formation to prepare for the landing by Landing Ship Transports (LST) and Landing Vehicle Tracked (LVT) land-ing on Green Beach one and two in Tangke, Talisay.

This piece of history is recorded in the book written by Capt. Francis D. Cron entitled “Under the Southern Cross: 1942-1945 The Saga of the Americal Division.” This book has chapters on the liberation of Cebu from the Talisay Landings to the surrender of the Japanese Imperial Forces in Ili-han, Sogod. Chapter 13 is entitled “A Liberation is Planned. Chapter 14” is entitled “Beachhead!” And Chapter 16 is entitled “Showdown” where you can read about the surrender of the Japanese forces to the Americal Division by August 28, 1945, a full 13 days after the Japanese officially surrendered to the American forces in the Pacific on Aug.15, 1945.

As the author, Capt. Cron noted, “Japanese resistance during the first moments of the landing was practically non-existent, unmanned and unprotected enemy defenses offered the first major stumbling block to the troops as they moved inland. With a suddenness that was both surprising and devastating, ten of the first fifteen LVTs were abruptly disabled or destroyed by improvised mines with which the Japanese were found to have filled the beach.”

This gives us an idea that the heavy bombardment of Tangke beach in Talisay did not destroy the Japanese minefield strewn along the beach. I think some eight Americans were killed inside their LVTs. If at all, there was only sporadic sniper fire coming from few Japanese soldiers left in Talisay.

 Frankly speaking, I don't blame the Philippine Navy officers for their ignorance simply because Philippine history books, mostly written by Gregorio Zaide, doesn't mention anything about the operations of the Americal Division in Cebu. I too didn't know much about the Liberation of Cebu except from the stories I would get from my uncle, Col. Manuel F. Segura who would tell us kids about his exploits as a guerrilla under the command of Col. James Cushing of the Cebu Area Command (CAC). This is due to the reality that there were no history books about the Liberation of Cebu then.

I recall when I was a kid and my father was building our house in Capitol Hills, where we still live today, the man-in-charge of our property Mr. Vicente “Noy Inting” Taborada, Sr. told me that there was a gun battle that lasted for three days right across what we now call Peace Valley where the Americal Division coming from V. Rama Ave. turned right and crossed the Guadalupe River and met its first strong Japanese resistance in what is still known as the Gochan Hill. This is right at the back of the Echo Tech.

To be totally honest, I didn't believe in the story of Noy Inting simply because it was not written in our history books… and I thought that he was getting too old or even senile. It was when my uncle Capt. Alfredo Segura sent me a copy of the book about the exploits of the Americal Division that I realized that Noy Inting was telling us the truth.

Indeed there was a three-day long firefight 500 yards at the back of our property, where on Gochan Hill, 86 Japanese pillboxes were neutralized and more than 200 Japanese soldiers were killed. There were few American loses, but two Sherman tanks were knocked out of commission. In the early 50's we were still living in Ibarra St. and right at the corner of Sanciangko St. across the Task Force Street Children in Parian, we used to play with a disabled Sherman Tank. Little did we know that this was one of the Ameri-can tanks of the 716 Tank Battalion that participated in the Battle of Gochan Hill and was knock out by Japanese mines strewn all over the place.

Alas, Filipinos are so poor in remembering their history. I'm sure that the disabled Sherman tank was sent to the scrap yard. But from my end, although I was born after World War II, my uncle Al Segura gave me not just one book, but two books on the stories of the Americal Division. The other book is entitled, “Orchids in the Mud” copyright in 1985 by Robert C. Muechrcke, Editor for the 132nd Infantry Regiment of World War II Association. This is a much better book in the sense that they also have black and white photographs of their days fighting in Cebu. One of the officers of the Americal Division was Col. Claude M. McQuarrie, whose grandson, David MacQuarrie whom I still haven't met, is my Facebook friend.

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