A Company 716 Tank Battalion for the 41st: Jolo

by Dr. Hargis Westerfield, Division Historian

(Continued from Zamboanga)

II. Jolo Island

In the Jolo Island Invasion, A Company 716 Tanks actually fought like a field artillery battalion most of the time. Against the Japs' 55 Independent Mixed Brigade, we were mainly used as gun platforms. We became field artillery partIy because of the large number of fortified "mounts," especially those half-circling Jolo City. These were many separate targets, and 146 Field Artillery needed us to fire for them on four mounts - Pula, Awak, Agao, and Magusing.

On 9 Apr 1945, we debarked unopposed from LCMs about 1000 hours at Taglibi Beach, and 2nd Platoon advanced 3,000 yards generally southeast towards Jolo City, supporting 3rd Battalion 163 Infantry. Many road-mines slowed our march. (Actually, 163 bypassed the road and easily occupied undefended Jolo City by an amphibious landing.)

On our second Jolo day, 10 April, 1st Platoon's tanks teamed with 163's 1st Battalion at Mobo on the beach just north of Jolo City. During a small fire fight, two tank crews slew two Japs trying to impact our tanks with Bangalore torpedoes.

On that same 10 April, 2nd Platoon's tanks still worked with 3rd Battalion 163 Infantry. Our tank-dozer cleared the way and built a road while infantry protected us. We made a lightning advance cross country. We blasted strongly held Mount Magusing with 100 75 mm shells. Our 1st Platoon and 2nd Platoon meanwhile shelled Mounts Pula and Agao at a range of 4,000 yards.

On 11 April, when 2nd Platoon's tanks arrived at 3rd Battalion's perimeter, a fire fight was already going on. Japs cut off by the previous day's rapid thrust were trying to rejoin the main

body. A tank commander had to kill one Jap with his automatic pistol. A tank-Infantry attack on low Mount Awak at first failed. Jap mortars wounded two of our men.

On 12 April, 3rd Platoon's tanks once more fought for 3rd Battalion 163 in storming stubbornly held Mount Magusing. Credited with killing 200 Japs, we saved many 163 Infantry's men in helping them to win Magusing. On that day also, we shelled Mount Agao at a range of 5,000 yards.

Then at 1500 hours, we boarded LCTs to voyage back to our "home" in Zamboanga. With just a little tank action on Jolo Island, we had been only a mobile field artillery unit.

 

CREDIT: Most important source was 716 Tank Battalion's report - 14 pages, single-spaced typescript- 5 on Zamboanga, 2 on Jolo, 7 on what was named "The Davao Sector." (Davao portion was mostly not on the 41st outfits, but on 24 Division.) Especially important were two Jungleer histories by Captain William Schacht on Zambo and southern Mindanao. (Zamboanga history was No. 128 in Jan 1981 Jungleer; southern Mindanao history was No 142 in Oct 1982 Jungleer.) Also useful were RR Smith's Triumph in the Philippines, Eichelberger's Jungle Road to Tokyo, with official narratives of 24 Division and 162 Infantry.