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LeyteWhen MacArthur's forces landed at Leyte in October of 1944, it sent a thrill through those in the rest of the Philippines as well, redoubling their determination to hold on. In each phase of MacArthur's Philippines campaign, guerrillas provided invaluable help, not only harassing the Japanese from behind their lines, but supplying much needed intelligence and guidance to the returning American armies.

Edwin Ramsey: When I heard that he [MacArthur] had returned, I finally had the feeling that I might have a chance of living through the war. At the time that he landed in Leyte, I was going through a pretty bad time, because I was ill and my morale was pretty low. But once they landed in Leyte, I knew it was only a question of hanging on for a few more months and I would be able to live through it. I still lost a lot of men, during that time, but I was able to keep up the morale and we were all completely exhilirated when General MacArthur landed in Leyte, and we knew that he was on the way back up to us.

Soon after MacArthur reached Luzon, Ramsey got in touch with his headquarters. An officer Ramsey knew got on the phone and expressed amazement when Ramsey told him who it was....

Edwin Ramsey Ramsey: Anyway, Colonel Finley said on the phone, "It can't be, you're dead.... Get yourself up here." So I went upstairs to where he was, told him that MacArthur had sent for me ...Meanwhile, I looked like I'd been dragged through a bramble patch. So, he turned to one of the aides of General MacArthur, a young lieutenant. He says, "What size are your shoes, your boots?" And, [the lieutenant] said "Ah, eight and a half." And he turned to me, he said, "Will that fit you?" And, I said yes. So, he made the lieutenant take his boots off I didn't look quite so bad. And, then he announced to the General that I was there. And, I had a few minutes to wait, because they were having a meeting. So, he opened up the refrigerator and gave me three different kinds of ice cream that they had along, which was the first good ice cream that I'd had in three and a half years.

Anyway, I went in. I reported to MacArthur. He asked me a lot of questions about the situation in Manila, about the collaborators or people who were suspected of being collaborators -- such as General Roxas, who later became the first President -- and I told him what I knew of it. Then he said, "Okay, now I want you to go over and brief General Krueger of the Sixth Army." I went over and I briefed General Krueger and, unfortunately, General Krueger was a very difficult man, as far as I'm concerned. And, he said, "How many Japanese are there down there still alive?" And I told him what my estimate was, because they had been passing right under my headquarters for some time. And I had people counting them. I told him how many there were and he says, "It can't be, there can't be that many of them." They later on counted that many bodies, as many bodies as I'd told him, after the Battle of Ipo Dam, where our our guerrilla troops and the First Cavalry Division had fought the units that were withdrawing up into the mountain provinces. So, I debriefed him and then I went back to my headquarters, which was in the outskirts of Manila.

POWs in Japanese forced labor camps also relished the defeat of Japan, but were uncertain of what it would mean for them.

Richard Gordon Richard Gordon: But how was he going to get us out of Japan, that was a horse of a different color [compared with liberating the Philippines]. And of course the Japanese would have definitely put to death every prisoner of war they had, had there been an invasion of Japan. That was signed, sealed, and delivered. That was in their orders. So we sat around worrying more about how we were going to get out of there than how it was going to possibly end. Nobody had any conceivable idea how it could end. And lo and behold, along came a miracle in the form of an atom bomb. And it had to be a miracle, to end that war. Because the Japanese would not have taken it that lightly. An invasion would have been a bloodbath.

Interviewer: Did you see these orders?

Gordon: There's copies of those orders today. Especially in other [areas] where the Japanese had prisoners. They also have an order that they used in China to exterminate all prisoners of war. So the Japanese had a track record in exterminating prisoners of war. They had done it in China, they would have done it again. Because how would they have fed the case of an invasion? They had enemy troops behind their lines, so to speak, when they were trying to fight the Americans landing at the beaches. The prisoner population in Japan was huge. Over 100,000. That's a major problem to have in your back door when you're trying to defend the front door. And the prisoners that were in Japan, many of the pieces of equipment the Japanese were using for war production, were moved into that particular dam site that I was telling you about. Uh, they were going to fight the war from within the mountains. In Nagano for one part. That was what Nagano was primarily destined to become. A place of last resistance. And as equipment was loaded off the trains, unloaded, we would carry it across an open bridge, up the other side of the mountain, and store it. And we were throwing away parts of equipment as we were taking it across the bridge. So if they ever assembled the equipment, they may have found a few things missing.

The Siege of Bataan
Capture and Death March
The Guerrilla War
Prison Camps
next... The Filipino Veterans Movement