CIC Logo  201st CIC - Counter Intelligence Corps
Sgt Paul R. Malbuisson
by Roger Malbuisson (son)

Background
Click For EnlargementMy father was the youngest of four children born to Hippolyte and Josephine Malbuisson on August 8, 1908, in Portland, Connecticut. Or so we thought. It was more than ten years after his death in 1998 that the existence of a fifth and oldest child was confirmed. So from the very start, and especially during the March, 1943, through December,  1945, period of his military service with the 201st Counterintelligence Corps in the Southwest Pacific Area, many questions arose. Many remain unanswered to this day.

My father squeaked through high school only after being personally encouraged by the principal  to take the final exams. It wasn’t that he was academically challenged. He simply had other more important things to do, like work. By senior year, 1927, family life, as generally understood, had ceased to exist for the Malbuissons. Hippolyte had taken in a “housekeeper” with whom he would in five years return to France. Josephine was in Manhattan working as an apartment house superintendent. Paul and his siblings were in essence left on their own. Dad found work at Hopkins’ Store in Middle Haddam and boarded with the Hale’s of that town. His oldest brother, Andrew, was working in the mills of East Hampton while his older brother, Henry, was a Connecticut State Trooper, having returned from an abbreviated tour of duty with the United States Marine Corps, having joined up underage at the close of World War I. Paul’s twin sister, Fernande, had begun nurses’ training at Middlesex Hospital in Middletown.

Fortunately, one of Josephine’s tenants (who remains nameless) worked for the Retail Credit Company (now Equifax) and let her know that positions were open (this, at the onset of the Great Depression!). And so, at Josephine’s insistence and with the tenant’s connection, Paul was taken on as office boy working the mail room. Through determined hard work and seriousness of purpose he worked his way up to inspector and in 1940 became manager of the Foreign Department, a position he returned to in 1946 and from which he retired twenty-five years later. In the years I knew him, I can recall his missing work  due to illness only once and that for only one day. He did take a day when Henry died in 1966. Other than that, he was always at his desk, even on those occasions when he served Grand Jury Duty which happened almost like clock-work every second year. I have no reason to think he would have approached his CIC responsibilities any less diligently.

Not that he would have told us. Self-promotion was just not a part of who he was. In all things, he was a modest man. And as a result, much of what I know about my father and relay here is gleaned  from secondary sources which have then confirmed conclusions I had unconsciously formed during a half-century. Others were newly awakened. And the Counterintelligence Corps did not help.

Having its beginnings in one form or another going back to World War I, it was often little more than an afterthought for the U.S. Army. The following narrative as told by Special-Agent Duval A. Edwards and quoted in Sayer’s and Botting’s  America’s Secret Army (page 29) describes “an army general preparing for the first general staff meeting after Pearl Harbor [who] asked J. Edgar Hoover to furnish FBI men to protect the meeting. Hoover suggested: ‘Why don’t you use your own plainclothes [CIC] organization?’ To which the general reportedly replied: ‘My God, do we have one?’ Secrecy was the byword of the CIC. As the Second World War began, and indeed, for quite some time to follow, many career soldiers up to and including general officers did not even know of its existence. Fewer knew or understood its mission and role. Its agents were trained in the art of concealment, one to which almost all adhered throughout their lifetimes.

This included my father who told me next to nothing of his wartime experiences that had a direct bearing on counter intelligence. (“Intelligence” is the gathering of information about the enemy. “Counter intelligence” is the prevention of the enemy gathering information. It then includes identification and elimination of the enemy’s sources of information.) On one occasion he spoke of investigating (Where? When?) one (or more) plane crash to determine if sabotage had been a factor. And he often spoke about tracing official U.S. Army documents found on the body of a dead Japanese soldier to determine how he had obtained them. And it was only many years after my father’s death that I accidentally discovered a cache of “confidential” Daily Activity Reports he had written covering the period of mid-January through mid-March, 1945 and submitted to his commanding officer at the 201st, Captain Victor I. Cook, Jr. My father had not so much as hinted at their existence. I have no idea how he was able to personally secure them or why he kept them for the rest of his life without once having reviewed them with me, his only son. It was these reports that ignited my interest in the Counterintelligence Corps and the 201st Detachment in particular. This has brought me into contact with Justin Taylan whose grandfather, Carl R. Thien, was a photographer with the 201st. Thien put his wartime reminiscences in writing as Pacific Island Odyssey, along with Captain Cook’s formally submitted report “Confidential History of the 201st CIC Detachment, Headquarters I Corps, APO 301 in the M-1 Lingayen Gulf Operation”, the former written some forty years after  the war, the latter dealing only with the first half of 1945, together with my father's Daily Activity Reports are the only primary sources upon which I have been able to draw for information concerning my father’s role with the 201st Detachment. Capt. Cook’s “History” has been contributed by his son, Frederick, who like me didn’t realize what he had and had never been shown by his father.

There is very little published history dealing with this “secret army.” Any student of the CIC must include Duval A. Edwards’ Spy Catchers of the US Army in the War with Japan, (Mr. Edwards kindly provided me with personal insights, basic understandings and encouragement.) as well as William A. Owens’ Eye Deep in Hell. Both served as special-agents of the CIC in the Philippines. Ian Sayer’s and Douglas Botting’s somewhat flawed America’s Secret Army is helpful in understanding the general background of the CIC. Of interest and of some limited factual help is the somewhat “official” history of the CIC, In the Shadow of the Sphinx by Franklin P. Jordan and Ann Bray. I say “limited” and “somewhat ‘official’” since Major Ann Bray who is a credited author had served with Lt. Col. Jordan as editor of a thirty volume manuscript of CIC history which had been prepared at the close of the war at the direction of the Department of the Army. To my knowledge, neither the thirty volume work nor Major Bray’s edited version has ever been published. In fact, the one-hundred seventy or so page Shadow was prepared and included materials of Major Bray’s after her death. Both Secret Army and Shadow  include references to the Southwest Pacific Area of WWII. However, the overwhelming focus is Europe and the struggle against Nazi Germany.

This is no accident or prejudicial favoritism. According to Sayer and Botting (page 247) “Headquarters destroyed or secreted in some forgotten hideaway most of the wartime documentation relating to CIC operations in this [Southwest Pacific] area.” (I have my theory for this; Duval Edwards has orally conveyed his to me. But, as he said to me in 2009, at this late date, it is purely speculation on our part.) And be that as it may, there is, therefore, none, zero, official SWPA documentation available to the researcher. What follows, then, is like unto a shattered mosaic. Many pieces, if not most, are missing. Of those remaining, there are many that are improperly placed. Some, whether properly or improperly placed, may be upside down while others may appear exactly correct. And which is which?

Training
Dad did not enlist immediately following December 7, 1941. He was then thirty-two years old. He had been married for four years, and two of those had been spent with my mom caring for her terminally ill mother who had died earlier that year leaving mom bereft and her father more-or-less a basket case. Dad’s mother was then sixty-seven and living in Connecticut with Henry who at age forty ended up in the U.S. Army Signal Corps in Iceland. By 1942, Retail Credit Company’s Foreign Department had been greatly impacted by Nazi Germany’s domination of continental Europe forcing my father to accept responsibilities in the New York office which might otherwise have been tackled by inspectors now in the service.

On March 1, 1943, Selective Service Board No. 172 for Kings County, New York, located at 7122 Third Avenue, Brooklyn, in office space located above the Lowe’s Bay Ridge Theatre, where a decade later I would see my very first motion picture (a western), and a theatre about which I still occasionally have dreams, only one block away from home sent out GREETING:  Having submitted yourself to a local board….you are hereby notified that you have now been selected for training and service….You will, therefore, report to the local board at 6:45AM on the 19th day of March, 1943.

Having been of draft age myself from 1964 through the Vietnam War era, I can clearly imagine what it felt like to see this notice in the large brass mail box of the apartment complex. Who got the mail that day? Who got home from work earlier, wife or husband? Who knew first? Who told the other? Two weeks of impending separation. Is “stressful” an adequate word to describe the atmosphere? What needed doing before departure? Who needed to be seen? A trip to Connecticut where Josephine was now living alone? A visit to now “Doctor” Fernande in Manhattan? The interview with the boss at RCC. How many others had already come to him to say they were leaving for the war? How many would never return? And how many more would there be before it   would finally end? And the New York Office would want to gather for yet another farewell “party.” I recognize more than a few of the names signed on the card. The last one, Howard N. Brown, would retire at the same time as my father in 1971 and retire to the same town, East Hampton, Connecticut, where they had a standing agreement to golf every Monday morning. It was only during their last year of work that my father learned that Howard had married Gladys Clark, a girl with whom Dad had gone to school.

He secured a week’s delay in reporting and was transferred to the Enlisted Reserve Corps for seven days. This “notice” informed him that a complete set of toilet articles, including shaving equipment, soap, toothbrush and comb (no toothpaste?) and on the following morning all necessary items of clothing will be issued. That night, March 26, 1943, found him firmly ensconced at Camp Upton, the area of Suffolk County, New York, presently occupied by Brookhaven National Laboratory. The next day, he was vaccinated against small pox, and from that point on it is almost impossible to match up dates with locations. Basic training was conducted at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri, on the Mississippi River just south of St. Louis. By that time Jefferson Barracks was preparing many recruits for the Army Air Force, and my father believed that that would be his assignment. But it wasn’t. CIC did not solicit recruits. CIC found prospective agents.

Requirements included high IQ, ten points above minimum officer standards, fluency in at least one foreign language (he spoke French, the language of his parents which led him to conclude he’d be sent to Europe; he wasn’t). And as an employee of Retail Credit Company he was a trained and experienced investigator. More than a few CIC agents were culled from the ranks of RCC. In fact, early in my researches I made contact with Les Harrison (40th CIC Detachment) and Charlie Baker (32nd CIC Detachment), both of whom had worked for Retail Credit before the war, Charlie continuing after returning. In fact, Charlie was fairly sure he had had dealings with my father in the Company although never meeting him and never realizing both had served in the CIC in the Philippines.

Click For EnlargementCIC training was conducted at the Advanced Training School in the former Illinois Women's Athletic Club Building building in downtown Chicago. Combat field training was conducted at Camp Richie, Maryland. But which came first? I don’t know. Dad spoke of being awakened by reveille over the loud speaker in the YMCA Building loud enough to wake the entire Chicago neighborhood, down six flights of stairs to the street, closed to traffic, for a session of calisthenics, back upstairs, shower, shave, breakfast and a full day of classroom instruction. I was led to believe that this was a seven-days-a-week schedule because he said that as the course (duration?) came to a close the students were informed that many in past groups had flunked-out having failed the exam which they would take the next day. My father claimed that he suggested to the superiors that a day before the exam allotted to study might improve the test results. It did.

Camp Richie’s activities included hands on experiences such as mechanical repairs to all sorts of military equipment. He thought he could still perform a complete tune-up on a Jeep even setting the timing on an engine whose spark plug wires had been completely disconnected beforehand. He told of exercises that dropped off small groups of trainees after dark in the Maryland countryside with only a flashlight and a map- a map in Dutch or German or Spanish or Japanese. They were on their own to get  to a rendezvous at a designated time for return to the camp. Sometimes they did.

He received furlough (for how long?) and was back in Brooklyn with family for the Labor Day weekend. How bittersweet must such a time have been! So sweet to be with your loved one again, no matter how brief, after five months apart, but then, once again, the agony of parting and separation for this time the duration?

October found him once again undergoing further training, this time in Omaha, Nebraska, where word was received by the District Intelligence Officer that background security checks had been completed and that the “Subject need no longer be denied access to Secret and Confidential matters….” This on a rexographed (purple ink, remember?) form letter. There would be two more months of training (doing what?) before being shipped out from Oakland, California, on January 10, 1944. On January 9, 1945, the invasion of Luzon, Philippine Islands would begin. He would hit the beach at Linguyan Gulf on January 11, 1945. There would be a year of CIC work in the Northern Solomon Islands and New Guinea before then.

Overseas 1944
Click For EnlargementAt this point, a map of the islands of the Southwest Pacific merges perfectly with the shattered mosaic simile I used earlier. I know my father sailed aboard the S.S. West Point, in peacetime, S.S. America, from San Francisco Bay (San Francisco proper or Oakland?) according to his discharge papers on January 10, 1944 (or January 12 according to wapedia/wiki SS America 1940 record of sailings).

It’s odd to note that in the midst of world war the frivolous formality of induction into the “Domain of Neptunus Rex” was maintained on January 17 as the former ocean liner, now troop transport capable of carrying in excess of seven-thousand soldiers, crossed the Equator at longitude “X”. But where did he disembark? His discharge papers indicate CPTO Q 24 JAN 44. CPTO is “Central Pacific Theatre ofOperations.” But what were its boundaries on 24 JAN 44? Theatre boundaries changed throughout the war. What was included/excluded on that date? And what was Q? It could imply Queensland, Australia, where Southwest Pacific Area was headquartered (as was CIC), and while there is one reference to this particular voyage of the West Point stopping at Australia, this wouldn’t be CPTO. Coupled with the nebulous fact that (among other things) my father did not speak of being in Australia at this time, (He was in Australia in August and September later in the year, and he did speak of that.) I am reluctant to conclude that Australia was his point of arrival.  Duval Edwards, however, whose transport left 1 JAN 44, ten days or so before the West Point’s departure, arrived at Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, on January 18 or 19 and told me it was the usual point of arrival for incoming SWPA CIC agents. This may be so. The Intelligence Series Operations of the CIC in the SWPA  Series VIII states that six officers and thirty-eight agents reported to Brisbane in January and February, 1944. But it also specifically identifies  one officer and 138 “Camp Richie trained” agents arriving in March. My interpretation is that the January-February agents had not been to Camp Richie and were therefore in for additional training at Camp (?) Rockingham just outside Brisbane before field assignments. Carl Thien states that agents who would be the core of the 201st Detachment reported to Rockingham in February, 1944, having already seen active duty.  In addition, on two separate web sites (only one of which I can still locate) which deal with the voyages of the West Point, Noumea, (French) New Caledonia, is listed as the first port of call for the January 10 crossing. The web site which I have lost indicates the next stop was in Australia.  The wapedia web site noted above identifies the second stop as Guadalcanal. My father spoke of being on both New Caledonia and Guadalcanal but never said when. He told me that American soldiers headed to New Caledonia were warned to avoid locally grown produce as human feces were commonly used as fertilizer. While that was the extent of what he told me, he did leave in his archives a tourist-souvenir collection of New Caledonia photos. He also told me of being on Guadalcanal. This would have been quite some time following the prolonged fighting of 1942-3. CIC agents wore no insignia of rank. This allowed them unprejudiced access to high ranking military officials. He spoke of having tea with a British colonel (Dad at this time was a corporal.)  in the Governor-General’s Office. The polite British colonel did his best to learn the nature of my father’s CIC assignment. He didn’t.  That’s not because my father was tight-lipped or closed-mouthed or just a damned good agent. He was there for no apparent reason. His orders left his assignment unspecified. Not knowing this, the colonel concluded the assignment must have been very hush-hush and therefore very important. And so, my father was billeted in officers’ quarters where for about a week he was observed typing regularly. The assumption was that he was amassing a large dossier or preparing a significant report. In reality, he was marking time awaiting instructions (which never materialized) by typing his notes from the Advanced Training School in Chicago!

Sometime during 1944, (again, exactly when?) he spent time on Green Island and Stirling Island (and which was first?). Green Island after dark was overrun nightly by rats that would nibble one’s toes if left uncovered. Stirling Island endured torrential downpours each night allowing soldiers to place inverted helmets outside their tents thereby collecting fresh water for the morning shave. Since Stirling was a coral island, rainfall easily seeped through leaving no muddy puddles. According to my father, urinals were little more that funnels in a pipe in the ground.

But of real importance (besides his assignment: to determine whether sabotage was an issue in one or more plane crashes – it wasn’t) is exactly when was he there. Dad left several dozen snapshots from his service experiences. Those identified as Stirling Island are dated June 21, 1944. The handwriting on the back is my mother’s. When did she do this? Did he send these pictures home through the mail? There is no seal of censorship approval on them. Since he didn’t mark them, how would she have known? If he put the information in a letter, why didn’t he write on the back of these photos as he did on most others? If identification was made after the war following his return, again, when was it? The one photo that includes his handwriting was marked no earlier than 1979, probably even later, as his handwriting was by then clearly impacted by the first of the strokes he suffered. If that’s when he had my mother write “Stirling Island” on the back of these photos, might he not have been mistaken about the location and/or the date? But my mother’s handwriting is in fountain pen! This implies  entries were made before ball-point pens became all the rage in the early 1950’s!

And why is this so important? The question becomes exactly when did my father join up with the 201st CIC Detachment. Carl R. Thien clearly details in Pacific Island Odyssey  an action on Biak Island behind enemy lines in which named members of the 201st searched an unoccupied Japanese encampment. It was still operational; the Japanese were apparently also out on patrol . Thien identifies and includes a photo of Lt. Cook, commanding officer and Sgt. Zinsmaster, ranking NCO, as the intelligence officers who conducted the search while “Ed McGrath, John McQuillen and Paul Malbuisson stood guard and I gathered up souvenirs.” On the next page his photo shows “Cook search(ing) Jap camp for documents.” Behind him in profile with somewhat blurred features stands a helmeted soldier whose height and build match that of my father. While McGrath is included in a unit photo taken in November or December, 1944, Mc Quillen is not, so I can only compare the soldier in this action photo to McGrath. My father was the smallest agent in the unit and as such appears in the front row of the group photos . McGrath appears behind him in the kneeling second row while my father is in the front seated row with Filipino agents. And while it is difficult to determine, he appears to be the only one wearing eyeglasses. And while I can’t be 100% sure Thien’s photo shows my father, I’d be somewhere between 60%-70% convinced it does. And when was the 201st on Biak? Exactly June 18-July 2, 1944! And he never so much as mentioned Biak to me.  Further complicating the issue of dates and locations for this exact period, I have only just learned that the eastern  boundary of SWPA was extended on June 15, 1944, to the 159th meridian east longitude to include the XIV Corps and the islands in the Treasury, Green, Emirau and Bougainville which had heretofore been administered by USAFPA headquartered at Noumea, New Caledonia. Once again, it is pure speculation on my part, but I don’t think it would be impossible for my father to have been reassigned from one unit  formerly with the XIVth Corps  to the 201st  at exactly this moment of reorganization. In any event, the 201st left Biak on or about July 2, 1944, returning to base at Joka near Brinkman’s Plantation on Lake Sentani, southwest of Hollandia and Pim, Dutch New Guinea. For actions on Biak, Lt. Cook would be awarded the Bronze Star Medal.  Lt. Jack Y. Cannon (or Canon), commanding officer of the 41st CIC Detachment (and Duval Edward’s commanding officer) received the Silver Star. The 201st  was the CIC unit which worked directly with the army’s I Corps. The 41st  worked with the 41st Division which was a composite member of  I Corps. Therefore, Cook was in a supervisory position over Cannon. When Captain Victor I. Cook stepped in to his role with the 201st in February, Cannon had assumed the position Cook had vacated with the 41st CIC. According to Edwards, Canon was “unsupervisable!”

Click For EnlargementDad spoke of being at Hollandia. This would appear to be the one time he experienced the camaraderie of membership in a group, “Captain Cook’s Crazy Commandos.”  Several of his photos include the 201st’s encampment and group shot. Whether he had been with them at Biak, since before Biak at Lake Sentani, met them upon their return from Biak or was newly detailed to them following theatre reorganization which established the 441st CIC Theatre Detachment in August or his completion of pre-invasion training at CIC HQ at Palma Rosa House in Brisbane, Australia that same month is moot. I do not believe he participated with them in the Hollandia, New Guinea, invasion landing at White Beach 1, Tanamerah Bay, April 22, 1944. Carl Thien in his Pacific Island Odyssey details the 201st’s voyage in and landing from a LST (Landing Ship Tank). Of this, once again, my father never spoke. The invasion craft about which he did speak would appear to have been a LCVP (Landing Craft [for] Vehicle [&] Personnel). And that would be the beginning of the end, Linguyan Gulf, Luzon, Philippine Islands, 1945.

Luzon 1945
Click For EnlargementMy father hit the beach, one of the three “White” Beaches, at Lingayen Gulf, Luzon, Philippine Islands, not with the first wave, not even the first tide. The first troops to come ashore did so on January 9, 1945, at 9:30 AM. Captain Cook and T/Sgt. Arthur Zinsmaster disembarked on “S-Day” from LST No. 463 by 10:10 AM and were joined by Cpl. Andy N. Pramilla (2nd Filipino Rgt. attached to CIC) with one of the unit’s 4X4 ¼ ton trucks. Dad came in with sixteen others on S+2 (two days later, January 11) from the S.S. Appling, this from Capt. Cook’s post-action report of the 201st CIC Detachment’s actions in the M-1 Lingayen Gulf Operation shared by his son, Frederick. The loading of the Appling at Hollandia, N.G., on Christmas Day, 1944, had been one of the few important screw-up’s in the opening activities of the invasion. The port-master had taken the Appling dockside out of sequence, its troops and cargo being taken aboard early and not completely ready for embarkation, while troops and cargo for the then scheduled ship were delayed twenty-four hours without supplies or shelter.

Unlike LST 463 which brought its troops and cargo all the way directly to the beach, the remainder of the 201st onboard AKA transports went over the side and down boarding nets into awaiting and greatly bobbing LCVP’s (Landing Craft [for] Vehicle[s] [&] Personnel). Timing was everything when it came to making a safe landing in a LCVP. Off by a second or two and it was a very long drop down, or worse, wet and with crushed limbs between ship and landing craft, or even death. Loaded up, the landing craft joined others, already loaded, to await the remainder of those still loading before heading for the beach en masse. It took several hours to accomplish. Sandwiches were available, but since  most of the soldiers were now sea-sick and barfing their brains out, Dad was amongst the few to grab an unappetizing bite. And then, as if by magic, all these circling LCVP’s, as one, headed in to shore. The wait was over. Few landing craft made it all the way to the shoreline. Almost all ran aground many yards, many hundreds of yards out. Down dropped the ramp with a splash and the shouted order, “Go! Go! Go!” came from the craft’s coxswain. Dad saw more than a few soldiers stumble, trip and fall from the ramp in full invasion gear into the briny and slowly bob to the surface in chest-deep water. As one of the, if not the, smallest soldiers, he had visions of falling and not coming back to the surface. But being ten-plus IQ points smarter than the minimum officer, he grabbed the ramp cable thereby avoiding mishap. What he got instead was a handful of grease which he promptly wiped down the front of his fatigues before elevating his carbine overhead. After a long wade ashore, whether worn out or under enemy fire (some was still being directed at the extreme left, north, of the landing area) he hit the beach face down. Now he had not only grease to contend with but also sand. And while his carbine had been kept high and dry, it, too, was now greasy and sandy. His 45 automatic pistol had stayed in its holster at his side underwater. He would eventually clean up its exterior and trade it in for a CIC approved police-special snub-nosed 38 revolver. He often wondered about the poor GI who was issued his 45 with the salt encrusted workings.

Agents of the Appling contingent under the direction of Lt. Kenneth Swanson of the 450th CIC which had been attached to the 201st back in Hollandia joined with Cook and the rest of the detachment at the command post in San Fabian where the night before an incursion of a reported two-hundred Japanese soldiers had been anticipated. Cook had gathered all seventy-five uniformed personnel he could find, mostly from the medical corps, took up defensive positions and awaited the attack which never materialized. At dawn of the eleventh, Cook sent out a reconnaissance patrol which returned to report that an infantry unit had intercepted the incursion about a mile off and had killed all twenty of them. CIC activities on Luzon would be rather different from prior experience.

First of all, the Luzon invasion itself was the largest of its kind in the Pacific, employing a larger number of American troops that even the landings in North Africa, Sicily and the south of France. Only the Normandy landings the previous June had involved a larger number of American troops. And unlike the Pacific islands where CIC had worked in 1943-4, Luzon had a large native population and many developed towns and several cities. Many of its agents would spend much of their time in these semi-urban areas seeking, identifying and apprehending those who had in one way or another given aid to the enemy either through sympathetic support or outright collaboration. As initial US troops liberated areas, CIC agents were often among the first to enter villages and towns in an effort to  locate hard evidence left behind by the fleeing enemy. They still needed to know what the Japanese knew about us  and how had they learned this. This was the situation described above in San Fabian and which would continue especially for the next month. And while counterintelligence was their mission, the absence of O.S.S. in MacArtrhur’s theatre thrust certain aspects of intelligence gathering into the lap of CIC. MacArthur’s G-2 (head of intelligence), Major General Charles A. Willoughby, under whom CIC operated, was a personal friend of and advisor to Spanish dictator Generalissimo Francisco Franco. Affectionately called “my lovable fascist” by MacArthur, Willoughby “never failed to underestimate” Japanese strength. He was off by nearly one-hundred thousand on Luzon. Willoughby and theatre CIC commander Colonel, later Brigadier General, Elliot R. Thorpe did not always see eye to eye. While SWPA had been headquartered in Brisbane, Australia (1942-44), MacArthur’s offices with those of his chief-of-staff, Major General Richard K. Sutherland, and assistant chief-of-staff for intelligence, Willoughby, were located on the same upper office building floor while others filled the four floors below, except for CIC which was in PalmaRosa House seven to eight kilometers removed!

But those were far-off concerns for my father and the 201st during the week following the landings. Lieutenant General Walter Kreuger’s invading Sixth Army was composed of two corps, I Corps and XIV Corps. The XIVth Corps with its accompanying 214th CIC Detachment was on the Army’s right (south) and ultimately would wrench Manila from Japanese control. The Japanese in the meantime had largely withdrawn to the hills and mountains of the north from which they hoped to be resupplied from and/or evacuated to Japan. It was this area to which I Corps and the 201st were assigned. The initial area of occupation alone was many times larger than island areas previously assigned. So, too, were its challenges.  As Cook later reported, “The biggest problem encountered…was the Alcan evacuation camp where several thousand refugees from Pangasinan, La Union, and even Mountain Province, were crowded together without any organization or supervision. This mass of refugees posed a serious security problem, since it was a large center of confusion exactly suitable for espionage.

Agents of the 201st CIC Detachment were immediately dispatched to the Alcan evacuation camp where, in cooperation with agents of the 43rd CIC Detachment (which operated with the 43rd Division), the entire   colony was screened. More than 2000 counter intelligence and tactical interrogations were made at this camp and valuable information regarding collaborators was obtained. A reliable informant network was established within the camp to report the presence of strangers or any subversive activity.

Click For EnlargementAlcan was the first of many field units established by the 201st CIC Detachment and the Divisional detachments under I Corps. After moving into the I Corps CP (command post), two and three men were dispatched to take over those communities from which the Division teams had to displace forward. By S+10, 201st field units were operating at San Fabian, Alacan, Mangaldan, Santa Barbara, Manaoag, Mapandan and San Jacinto, all in Pangasinan Province.”

My father and Special Agent Walter Wagner drew Manoaog at which they set up “Sub-detachment #4” on January 16, 1945, and from which they immediately began to file the required Daily Activity Reports. (T/Sgt. Walter Wagner was the one agent with whom my father was paired whose name he mentioned, and that, several times. Wagner was an agent of long standing and wide-ranging experience. He had been one of fourteen candidates out of more than a thousand to be personally selected by Col. Thorpe for the initial class of in-theatre trained CIC Agents in 1942.) These Daily Activity Reports may have been unique to the 201st.  Again, Capt. Cook relates, “Each of these units was self-sufficient excepting for one thing, - communication. At the outset there was neither phone, radio or messenger contact. On several occasions pigeons were used. To obviate this difficulty, arrangements were made whereby the units would either drive to Corps or a jeep runner from Corps would make the rounds. The constant demand for information by the field units gave birth to the daily report, which was distributed to Divisional detachments as well as to the field units. A copy was also sent to the A.C. of S., G-2, in order to keep him currently informed of CIC activities in the I Corps sector.  The daily report set forth vital information from higher headquarters, and accounts of noteworthy incidents, and of problems and solutions adopted, appearing in the daily reports of both Divisional detachments and field units. While this report was technically a military document, it was not written in military style. It served as a means of disseminating to all CIC agents in the I Corps Sector essential information and statistics, sprinkled with human interest. Similarly, informal daily reports were required from field units; and the 201st virtually served as an information clearing house for all agents under its control.”

The only known examples of these Daily Activity Reports to exist are carbon copies which my father kept and which I accidentally discovered in a large War Department envelope seven years after his death in 1998. He had never shown them to me, and I had no idea what they were when I found them. They provide a unique glimpse into the daily life of the members of a CIC sub-detachment. Much of it is extraordinarily mundane. Some of it is quite profound. The following extracts are designed to illustrate what I mean. The dates given are the date of the report for the previous day’s activities.

Jan. 17: (1) No internments. (6) Initial survey of the municipality of Manoaog completed. (8) Corporal  Gene (Sofonio Dugenia, 2nd Filipino Rgt.) has been instructed to circulate among the people of the town; to secure reliable informants etc. To date his aid has proved invaluable. (He also keeps us supplied with eggs.)

Jan. 18: (5) 103rd Regimental CP has moved to Pozorrubio. (6) Filing system in the office has been established. (7) Information has been secured from Captain Chengay, Northern Sector Command, that MR. TANAKA, Japanese, former manager of the Manaoag Sugar Mills, has definitely been “liquidated”.

Jan. 19: (4) Made the acquaintance of Maj. Lapham who has promised us close cooperation.(What a man!) (6) Mayor of Manaoag reported to us that large band of guerrillas were in town stealing chickens, pigs, rice, etc. and that populace was frightened as a result. (11) Above mentioned band of guerrillas disbanded and ordered to return to their areas. (Major Lapham took care of this.) Guerrillas disarmed by Major Lapham. This band of guerrillas was commanded by a Captain Federico SONACO. (Memorandum report concerning this incident is attached.)

Jan. 20: (3) C.I.C. bomb disposal squad goes to work. A citizen of Manaoag reported an unexploded bomb beneath home. Investigation revealed bomb to be harmless. Bomb removed   from beneath house and buried. (6) Transportation arranged to Corps for two guerrillas bearing tactical information from Captain Hunt. (8) No internments. (9) No eggs. (Getting damn hard to get nowadays)

Jan.21: (4) One Japanese rifle and ammo turned in. (10) Agent Malbuisson ordered to Corps to handle allegedly “hot” investigation. Entire day spent on case; investigation completed, report will follow. (11) Two suspicious characters turned in by officers of the 25th Division. Persons    interrogated, cleared and released.

Jan 22: (1) No internments. (2) No eggs. (4) Investigation regarding American documents found on the person of a dead Jap completed and report submitted. (5) One Japanese rifle (broken) and ammunition turned in. (11) Jeep washed and first echelon maintenance performed. (no kidding.) (12) Usual petty interruptions continue to occupy a great part of our time.

Jan. 23: (1) No internments. (2) No eggs. (6) The following information regarding BATO has been secured: Subject also known as ERNESTO BATO. Father was Japanese; mother was Filipino. Worked for the Kempei Tai in Dagupan and Binalonan for three (3) years. Last seen January 6, 1945 in Binalonan in the company of Captain KOBAYSHI, Commander of the Kempai Tai for the Province of Pangasinan. Subject at present alleged to be in Baguio.

Mundane? What’s all this about eggs? In all likeliness, eggs are just that, eggs. But bread wasn’t always bread. The incidents about which my father spoke most often were designed to amuse. Hence my knowledge of grease and sand during the January 11 landing. He spoke of one mission (Where? When?) which took him and pigeons behind enemy lines (and which he found humorous) where he would meet up with another agent several days on. He spoke with this agent before leaving and impressed upon him the necessity of bringing a fresh supply of bread to the rendezvous. A day or two before the meeting, from behind enemy lines, my father sent by carrier pigeon the message, “Bring Bread.” The agent arrived on schedule and (you got it) with no bread. After venting, my father asked, “Didn’t you get the message I sent by pigeon?” “Yes. It came in,” the agent replied, “but we thought it was in code. Cryptology is still working on it.”  So, if “bread” wasn’t necessarily “bread,” what might “eggs” have been? I don’t suppose we’ll ever know.

So too was the Japanese counterattack on the night of January 16-17. One of my father’s most frequently told tales may actually concern this particular event. There again, maybe not. Once again, the thrust of his telling this particular anecdote was the ironic humor he saw in it. However, he neglected to identify either date or location, so my “conclusions” are at best uncertain. He prefaced the story by telling that he and his co-agent (W. Wagner?) had slept in several different locations the previous nights, each getting progressively worse for sleeping until the particular night in question where they found themselves on a concrete floor that was more like that to which they were accustomed. That, coupled with the fact that they were exhausted, they now slept like logs. So well, in fact, that they awoke the next morning to find that they’d slept through a typically Japanese Army nighttime assault. They were even more surprised to learn that they’d slept through the accompanying artillery action! Then he let slip one of the few counterintelligence features he’d reveal. The bodies of several dead Japanese soldiers were strewn about including one who had been wounded. Realizing he could not escape shameful capture, “He’d taken a hand-grenade to the side of his head” and killed himself. On his person was found US Army documents of a confidential nature. It fell to my father to find out how this dead enemy soldier had come by them.

Capt. Cook referred to this “infiltration of the I Corps CP on 17 January 1945” in his post-action report and included a photo taken by Carl Thien of a dead Japanese soldier. In the accompanying caption he states, “Several [U.S.  Army documents] were seized by this Jap only a few hours before his death.” Thien detailed this event in Pacific Island Odyssey (but again omitting a date). And when he used the same photo Cook had used, it was to illustrate anti-tank actions in another section of his memoirs. This leads in two different directions. First, a simple glance at the dead soldier in the photo reveals no evidence of a hand-grenade explosion. Both of his hands and his head are clearly shown to be in tact. And second, as described in the official US Army history, Triumph in the Philippines by Robert Ross Smith, the Japanese unit involved in the actions of January 16-17 had advanced down the Binalonan-Manaoag Road using tanks with which they drove through positions held by the 103rd Regiment (whose relocation later that morning my father recorded in Daily Activity Report of January 18 for the 17th, item #5), in Barrio Potpot on their way towards Manaoag. Smith reports, a two hour fire fight ensued leaving about one-hundred Japanese dead. The remnant of their unit retreated along the route on which they had earlier advanced losing two of their tanks as they backtracked through Potpot.

Five days later, my father had wrapped up the investigation. (See DAR 1/22 [21] item #4 above) He had traced the documents found on the dead Japanese soldier determining their origin and destination. He found that the recipient had earlier been subjected to attack by the unit involved in the infiltration/counterattack of January 16-17 and the position overrun. My father’s conclusion was that like all soldiers everywhere, this unfortunate individual had been looking for souvenirs and had grabbed the first thing he had found handy. His conclusion was that there was no breach of security due to incompetence or negligence.

Capt. Cook and author Smith identify the night of January 16-17. Neither Dad nor Thien mention a date. Dad speaks of the 103rd  in the Jan. 18 DAR and the wrapping up of the investigation “regarding American documents found on the person of a dead Jap….” in the DAR for Jan 22. But what of Thien’s photo and Cook’s use of it? No hand-grenade suicide is shown here. Perhaps Cook was exercising a degree of editorial discretion, and the photo was actually taken somewhere else at some other time and actually concerned anti-tank actions that had nothing to do with the January 16-17 infiltration/counterattack. After all, Thien’s narrative is highly detailed and does not mention a hand-grenade suicide. I think I’ve got this one surrounded.

But there again, maybe not. Just when I thought I’d gotten this episode neatly wrapped up I found the following Daily Activity Report, item #4, for February 17 for activities of the same day filed from Guimba, Nueva Ecija, to which my father had been assigned some time between February 10 and 13:

(4) Infiltration attack by Japs on 92nd Evacuation Hospital, Guimba, 16-17 February 1945. Identification tag and document found on dead Jap were also delivered to Corps this date.

Maybe this is the incident that had the hand-grenade suicide. Or not. He never mentioned Guimba. But he also never spoke of Manaoag, either. For the two weeks before his arrival there, Guimba had been the sensational focal point of activity and interest for the international press. It was from Guimba that a raid of some 121 men under the command of Lt. Col. Henry Mucci, CO 6th Ranger Battalion, had set out on a trek of some thirty miles, and with the loss of only one life, had liberated 513 prisoners of war from the Cabanatuan prison camp. They had returned to Guimba by February 1, where many were hospitalized and treated for malnutrition, dehydration and disease (at the 92nd Evacuation Hospital?). In his book, Ghost Soldiers,  Hampton Sides tells that “A few days later (following the liberation of the POW’s at Cabanatuan) a group of Sixth Army soldiers and a signal corps photographer would return to Cabanatuan…to dig up vital camp documents….They were able to unearth death logs, cemetery layouts and medical records.” If this doesn’t sound like a CIC operation, I don’t know one when I see it. And could the signal corps photographer have been Carl Thien?  While I assume signal corps photographers were everywhere on call for such an assignment, I asked Special Agent Duval Edwards (who at that time was with the 214th CIC heading towards Manila and would later be assigned to the 306th – [6th Army] CIC) whether it was a common practice for CIC units to have an assigned signal corps photographer as Thien was with the 201st. He said he knew of none.

My father would spend two weeks at Guimba before moving on to Gerona and Bongabon. He met with his Manaoag co-agent “S.A. Wagner in his castle at Cabanatuan” on February 16 and “journeyed   to Corps Hqs” with him on the 20th. But he never once mentioned the raid on the POW prison camp. But of course, he never mentioned Gerona or Bongabon either.

He did mention the Huks (short for Hukbalahap which is short for something else loosely translated as Anti-Japanese People’s Army).  Unlike Lapham’s Luzon Guerrilla Armed Forces (LGAF-USAFFE), the Huks had early declined MacArthur’s offer of aid during the Japanese occupation since it came with strings attached, specifically, don’t antagonize the Japanese. MacArthur saw the primary function of guerrilla forces during the occupation to be the best available gathers of intelligence. Guerrillas eliminated by vengeful Japanese would be of no use to MacArthur during the occupation nor of any value to him and 6th Army following the invasion. The Huks on the other hand who had leftist economic and political goals regardless of the Japanese pursued their attacks against the foreign occupiers of their country thereby gaining much support among the peasantry of central Luzon while failing to gain either recognition or support from MacArthur. It was into the middle of this fratricidal competition for credit, glory, support and power that CIC found itself. Lapham and LGAF-USAFFE were the “recognized” good-guys. The Huks were not. This had led some to call them “anti-American”, and some surely were. But let’s remember, the United States in the Philippine Islands was a colonial power seeking to re-establish itself following the removal of the Japanese (as were the Dutch, British and French in their spheres of influence and control).

From Guimba in his February 16, 1945, DAR (for the same date) he recorded visiting Munoz (a town about four miles to the east of Guimba but  on no direct route about mid-way to Bongabon) with Agent Hogg.

(4) While at Munoz information garnered concerning the killing of four recognized guerrillas on               13 February 1945 at Munoz. Those responsible for this crime allegedly claimed to be members      of CIC (USAFFE) from San Jose…
And on February 19 (for the 18th)

(4) Investigation started re Ben VALERIO and brother Teodoro Valerio who allegedly killed  four guerrillas on 13 February 1945 at Munoz. The Valerios are also allegedly using a letter stating they are CIC men for recruiting purposes.
And in his last report from Guimba before moving on to Gerona:

(4) Agent Hogg interrogated two wounded Huks at the 92nd Evacuation Hospital, Guimba, who were wounded in guerrilla-Huk battle at San Isidro, N.E. 21 February 1945.

But all this pales by comparison to the affair which took place some time in February, 1945, in the town of Malolos which is about half way between San Fernando and Manila. Descriptions are recorded in Benedict J. Kerkvleit’s The Huk Rebellion: A Study of Peasant Revolt in the Philippines and Sterling Seagrave’s The Marcos Dynasty. Mention is made of this event in William Owens’ Eye-Deep in Hell as reference is made during an interrogation Owens, a CIC agent himself with the 306th CIC Detachment, was conducting with the head of the Huks. Allegedly, a group of one-hundred nine members of Huk Squadron 77 returning from participation in actions before Manila which was then in the throes of liberation by XIVth Corps was intercepted by “Filipino-USAFFE guerrillas” in collusion with CIC officers who had the Huks dig their own mass grave and then all one-hundred nine were shot “on the orders of USAFFE Colonel Adonias Maclang with the agreement of American CIC officers” present.

It would appear that the scene of this atrocity was not within the I Corps line of demarcation. The alleged presence of CIC personnel may be no more valid than that of the Valerio brothers’ claim cited above. I here present this information simply to illustrate the environment in which CIC and the 201st in particular was working.

By the last week of February, my father had relocated to Gerona in Tarlac Province. In item #2 of DAR of February 25 for 23 & 24, he announced, “Paniqui Chamber of Commerce not on the ball so on 24 February this office moved to Gerona. Office established on the Plaza in private home. (CIC flag is displayed and you won’t have any difficulty in locating us.)” The report continued,  (3) Cpl. Sofronio (Gene) Dugenia, Filipino-American, member of the 2nd Filipino Regiment assigned to the 201st (and regularly to Dad’s sub-detachments) observed, “we live like millionair” (This outburst [my father went on to explain] due to the fact we have bathroom, two showers, a beautiful house and spacious grounds – but no furniture.) And finally (item #6) “We are now ready to work but don’t feel like it.”

But work they did. In the weeks leading up to his relocation to Bongabon (after March 16) when these DAR’s cease, more investigations of the kinds previously described ensued. On February 28 my father and Agent Paul F. Smith interviewed “Col. Jose C. Marestela, C.O. 1st Tarlac Regiment, (Independent guerrillas) regarding his organization and its activities.” While at its headquarters in Moncada the day before, they observed… (from DAR February 27, item #5) “one prisoner, hands and feet tied, and to insure his captivity, he was also neatly wrapped around a pole and entwined with rope from neck to feet, rope so tightly tied he was covered with welts. A colonel, they’re all colonels, (I’m a buck Sgt.) was told in no uncertain terms  that he had no authority to torture people and was ordered to treat suspect as a human being….” DAR February 28 continues, “The suspect had been picked up by guerrillas  as a suspicious character and had found in his pocket a slip of paper identifying him as a member of the Hukbalahaps.” Their interview of the subject revealed him to be “either the biggest dope or the worst liar yet encountered by these agents” and turned him over to the CIC unit of Pozorubio for further investigation.

Loyalty checks continued to consume valuable time. Mayors, judges, police chiefs were interviewed. Reports of suspected sabotage against communication lines were investigated and security road blocks manned. And the search for suspected collaborators continued. On March 10, Dad and Agent Smith “made a raid on Moncada, shanghaied seven possible witnesses against Mayor Lopez and Segundo Gazmin former Police Chief…and under gentle persuasion five affidavits were secured re collaboration activities of Subjects….” That from the March 11 DAR for 3/10. And again as reported in DAR March 13 for 3/11 & 12, item #3, “Trip to Moncada , shanghaied a few more informants, affidavits secured from Francisco Magallanes and Francisco Adsuara re Lopez atrocity against civilians.”

And just for variety there were the usual mundane events that Captain Cook would later label as “human interest”:  Gene’s cooking continues superb. And, EXTRA CURRICULAR ACTIVITIES: Malbuisson almost shot by drunken soldier; action taken, soldier jailed. Or, Man steal Gene Dugenia’s carton of cigarettes from window sill. Gene get mad when find have no cigarettes. Gene do detective work. Man arrested when catched in act of selling cigarettes. Gene put man in hoose-gow. Gene then tell these agents it is our worry. Investigation shows culprit to be 17 year old boy who has been a mental case for some years… Result- 4 packs cigarettes recovered plus 4 pesos for packs sold. Gene smile but say, “Is that all my cigarettes?” And then as recorded in March 11 DAR for 3/10, item #4, About 1700 hours report reached this office that natives of Barrio Cardona, Gerona had four Japs surrounded and needed re-inforcements to finish the job. Five men of this detachment plus some Signal Corps men responded. Japs were no longer in the barrio; were reported to number 12 men with three rifles. Patrol gave chase and followed trail for estimated 6-8 miles in westerly direction. Just before dusk, Japs were sighted about 3-500 yds distant and a few rounds exchanged. Gene says, get dark, we go home now. Gene smart man so we go home. Comment: highlight of patrol was Agent Montgomery fording a stream on back of a caribao. He convinced caribao with his badge.  Item #5, Hike did men good and all slept soundly. That is all.

From
HEADQUARTERS I CORPS
United States Army
Office of the Commanding General
Subject: Award of the Bronze Star Medal.
Sergeant PAUL R. MALBUISSON, (32868766), DEML, United States Army. For meritorious achievement in connection with military operations against the enemy at Luzon, Philippine Islands, from 9 January 1945 to 2 March 1945. Throughout this period Sergeant Malbuisson operated a field unit of the Counter Intelligence Corps detachment in areas apart from military personnel and installations, with the consequence that his unit was subjected to numerous infiltration attacks. In the performance of his duties he displayed sound judgment in making difficult decisions when time and communications prevented him from referring the problems to higher headquarters. Despite a shortage of personnel, Sergeant Malbuisson covered a vast area of the Corps Sector and through his ceaseless efforts and investigations insured his area of responsibility against the security hazard of enemy collaborators and agents.
(signed)
INNIS P. SWIFT
Major General, U.S. Army
Commanding

Baguio & Bontoc
On December 24, 1945, the night of which would find him unannounced back in Brooklyn, Dad’s citation for Oak-Leaf Cluster (second Bronze Star Medal) was issued by Headquarters, United States Army Forces, Pacific (at that date in Tokyo). Covering the period 16 April through 1 August, 1945, it cites his meritorious achievement as Special Agent in charge of the 954th CIC Detachment in La Union Province and Mountain Province. He “displayed exceptional ability in directing counter intelligence activities…exercising unusual coordinating skill…energetically supervis(ing) the efficient processing and interrogation of 14,000 civilian evacuees, including foreign nationals, from the Baguio area. Later, he entered Baguio with leading combat elements…determining collaborationist elements and preventing their further traffic with the enemy. Similarly, he voluntarily operated a field unit in Bontoc isolated from military control. Through his outstanding skill, sound judgment, and unremitting devotion to duty, Sergeant Malbuisson made a marked contribution to the effectiveness of counter intelligence activities in Luzon.”

Once again, as many questions are answered, new ones continue to arise. And unfortunately, I have no Daily Activity Reports to examine for this time period. Again, my father spoke little of the exact nature of operations that took place towards the end of hostilities. In a way, things were winding down, and as March became April and summer months loomed, MacArthur’s attention adjusted to the impending invasion of the Japanese home islands.

Hence, on June 30, 1945, the Philippine Campaign was declared completed. However, six weeks of intense combat remained in the north-central portion of Luzon. The main thrust of MacArthur’s declaration was relief of 6th Army (and with it I Corps) from direct combat operations as they were scheduled to lead the planned invasion. “Mop-up” operations on Luzon as of July 1 were turned over to 8th Army, commanded by Lt. General Robert Eichelberger, and the XIVth Corps reassigned to it.

And if any of this is confusing, my father’s organizational relationships on a micro level are just as obscure. On April 4, 1945, he had received orders transferring him from the 201st to the 491st CIC Detachment. Where this was located and for how long, I do not know. He was to report no later than April 9. During the next three weeks, efforts made by the 33rd Division and the 37th Division would ultimately culminate in the capture of Baguio on April 26. Baguio is the capital of Benguet Province, northeast of La Union Province and southwest of Mountain Province. It had served as the summer capital of the Philippine Commonwealth and was the seat of government, both civil and military, of the Japanese occupation following the January 9 invasion. It was a place my father often mentioned. But of course, there were few details. The OLC citation refers to his  “efficient processing and interrogation of 14,000 civilian evacuees, including foreign nationals from the Baguio area.” But it also identifies him as “Special Agent in charge of the 954th Counter Intelligence Corps Detachment.” (In CIC-speak, a “special-agent” [as opposed to an “agent”] was a sergeant, not a corporal and not an officer. “In charge” implied highest ranking or senior non-com, but not always. When needed, CIC could be very flexible when it came to rank and command, at least, by Army standards.) And this is the sole reference to the 954th CIC Detachment. The citation then goes on to say, “Later, he entered Baguio with leading combat elements….” This implies that the processing and interrogation of 14,000 evacuees took place before the capture of Baguio. (I trust he had help.) This may be what Captain Cook referred to in his post-action report as “the experience of the 33rd CIC Detachment in Tubao, La Union into where approximately 12,000 evacuees funneled….”as the population of Baguio sought to escape the oncoming battle. The 33rd CIC was under the supervisory coordination of Cook’s 201st CIC, and he apparently anticipated a continuing flood of refugees when Baguio fell into I Corps hands. Recognizing the potential magnitude “the 201st originally set up at Naguilian, La Union Province, on 25 April with a membership drawn from the 33rd, 478th, 37th, 32nd, 25th, 491st and 481st CIC Detachments (and) Co. C 2nd Filipino Battalion.” (My source concerning this composite unit [the 954th ?] comes from two torn-out mimeographed pages found in my father’s collection numbered 18 and 19 and designated “CONFIDENTIAL” which may have been part of one of Cook’s several regularly scheduled in-house information sharing reports.) In that list of 6th Army Divisional CIC Detachments is the 491st, my father’s detachment since April 4. Both the 33rd and 37th Divisions were instrumental in wresting Baguio from Japanese control. The 37th entered the city through Naguilian from the west on the northern-most of two access routes. The 33rd approached on a parallel route somewhat to the south ultimately swinging around to Baguio from the south and east. It would appear that the composite CIC unit with which my father “entered Baguio with leading combat elements” advanced with the 37th Division. But shortly after I Corps secured the city, the 37th was reassigned leaving the 33rd to mop-up and expand control towards La Trinidad. From this point on my father’s direct superior appears to have been Captain Bernard M. Donahoe, CO of the 33rd CIC Detachment.

All (or part) of CIC in Baguio operated from headquarters established in a private residence on Legarda Road where Justin Taylan discovered it in 2009 much as it was in 1945 and still owned by the same family. If Cpl. “Gene” Dugenia thought accommodations in Gerona were suitable for a “millionaire,” I wonder what his impression of the Legarda Road headquarters was. It included not one but two refrigerators!

As a seat of government and center of Japanese occupation forces in Northern Luzon, it is safe to assume that much of CIC’s attention in Baguio focused on securing records of the puppet government of Jose Laurel. Capt. Cook (?) reports “a minute house-by-house and cave-by-cave search of the city and vicinity” yielded “quantities of documents…considered of highest importance (which) relate not only to the Japanese military forces and the Laurel government, but also the Makapili (pro-Japanese collaborationist) Party, fifth columnist and sabotage organizations, and to traitorous employees and spies used by the Kempei Tai.”

Many hundreds of relocating displaced people needed security screening some of which was conducted in the city cathedral. Many needed transportation clearance. In a time of flux and uncertainty the opportunity for infiltration, espionage and sabotage was great. It was the role of CIC to intercept and prevent. (This was how Bato had been apprehended a month earlier.) And of course, as part of screening the population, through loyalty checks of individuals now seeking to have a role in civil affairs following removal of the Japanese and as promised independence loomed  just a year in the future, CIC continued to be vigilant in identifying those with leftist leanings.

Click For EnlargementWhether still in Baguio or elsewhere, on July 5, 1945, my father was among nineteen CIC agents to receive orders (from?) to report for an unspecified period of time for the purpose of “carrying out instructions.” Could anything be more vague? This was in the first week following reassignment of 6th Army and I Corps and may have concerned further advances to be made into Mountain Province to the north where the Japanese had relocated upon withdrawing from Baguio.

It was in its “capital,” Bontoc, that my father would “voluntarily operate a field unit…isolated from military control.” I find it somewhat odd that he volunteered for such a task. The war was obviously winding down. This was no time to take dangerous risks. He would not be accompanying 6th Army to Japan. In fact, he told me he had turned down a field promotion (or an invitation to OCS?) because it would have included an additional tour of duty in Japan. (He was thankful that he had declined this opportunity as the initial contingent of CIC agents destined for Japan was killed in a plane crash on Okinawa. Among the dead was Agent Roy Allmond who had travelled with my father on the Appling.)

Bontoc, while not at the end of the world, was just about at the end of the road, or what passed for a road. Robert Ross Smith in the US Army’s official version of Luzon operations, Triumph in the Philippines, refers to the approaches to Bontoc as some of the worst roads in the Philippines, some being not worthy of the designation “road.” Some climb more than 4500 feet in elevation in less than two miles as the crow flies. By late June, the Japanese forces were concentrating in a region south of Bontoc. And due to manpower constraints the Allied approach from the north was assigned to Lt. Col. Russell Volckmann’s USAFIP-NL (guerrillas). At 14,000 strong, Volckmann’s task-force appears to have been the largest of its kind on Luzon. With a highly structured military organization which closely mirrored that of the US Army, Volckmann’s guerrillas secured Bontoc on July 10. I have no idea when my father arrived, but once again, the OLC citation refers to Bontoc as being “isolated from military control.” When Japan accepted defeat on August 15, XIVth Corps was not yet there, but CIC was.

Home
On August 6 and 9, 1945, an atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. On August 15, the Japanese government agreed unconditionally to surrender. Several days later, a delegation of Japanese envoys was delivered to Luzon where they were met by General Willoughby who conducted them to the Manila City Hall office of General Stephen Chamberlain, MacArthur’s chief of operations. General Richard K. Sutherland, MacArthur’s Chief-of-Staff, chaired the meeting. The Allied Translator and Interpretation Section (ATIS), staffed by Nisei, translated MacArthur’s  requirements into accurate Japanese. Formal surrender took place in Tokyo Bay on the deck of U.S.S. Missourion the morning of September 2, 1945. The next day in Baguio Japanese military forces formally surrendered in a ceremony conducted by General Wilhelm D. Styer of MacArthur’s staff whose chief-of-staff, Maj. Gen. Edmund Leavey, representing the United States, signed the instrument of surrender. Seated at the table with him were General Jonathan Wainwright, USA, who had surrendered the Philippines to the Japanese in 1942, and British General Arthur Percival who had surrendered Singapore that same year. The war was over.

In mid-April, 1945, as the Japanese defense of Baguio was crumbling, General MacArthur issued a pardon to Manuel Roxas, member of the pre-war Commonwealth Senate, who during the Japanese occupation as Chairman of the Economic Commission was de facto  “food czar” for the entire Philippines. And, according to CIC Agent Lieutenant William Owens in his Eye-deep in Hell, “In the eyes of the CIC his worst crime was that he prepared, wrote and signed the constitution of the puppet Philippine Republic.” Owens claims, “We had enough documented evidence in our files to hang Roxas- or at least to imprison him for life.” He refused to be interrogated by CIC at 6th Army headquarters in San Fernando and demanded to be allowed to talk to GHQ. A limousine sent by MacArthur arrived with a suit box containing “a new uniform and a star. Roxas had arrived a prisoner; he departed a brigadier general in the United States Army.” A year later he would defeat President Sergio Osmena for re-election and become the first President of the Philippines following independence on July 4, 1946. On January 28, 1948, he granted a full amnesty to all so-called Philippine collaborators including puppet government President Jose Laurel. Some see this as healing an open wound in Philippine society. Others recognize it as a return to power of an important segment of the Philippine land-owning aristocracy, exactly those most despised by the Huks.

Whether my father were still in Bontoc or returned to Baguio, these matters would have been of little concern now. Uppermost in his mind was departure. Within a week of surrender at Camp John Hay in Baguio, Captain Bernard Donahoe (formerly CO of the 33rd CIC, now commanding CIC Area No. 12), forwarded my father’s Application for Discharge. The primary qualification was age. He was now thirty-seven. Of course, the application would have to go “through channels” and would take time. On October 15, Capt. Donahoe forwarded to CIC Area Detachment 441 now in Tokyo a follow-up request for Dad’s promotion to Technical Sergeant “in as much as (he has) performed outstanding service for the Corps….” It never came through. He was satisfied knowing that those to whom he was directly responsible valued his work sufficiently to recommend promotion. And of course, those in the know in Baguio had already assumed he was a brigadier general.

Even before the surrender, he was invited by THE MAYOR, OFFICIALS AND EMPLOYEES of the CITY OF BAGUIO to attend a party “in honor of the Commanding Officer and Personnel of PCAU 7 (Philippine Civil Affairs Unit) on August 11, 1945. Still attached to the invitation is a non-transferable admission slip for him “& Ladies.” He was also invited to attend  “the Reception and Ball in honor of the Incoming and Outgoing Mayor of the City of Baguio at the Royal Palace Hotel on November 4, 1945.” Three weeks later on November 24, he departed the Philippines, although often recalled, never to return.

Three weeks later Operation Magic Carpet brought him to Puget Sound, Washington, into which he joyfully deposited his combat boots. Transportation across the continent in 1945 was by train, and from Washington State, across the northern tier. Coming from the tropics of the Philippines to the northern tier in December was a shock. His wife and in-laws had come from Butte, Montana, (a place one assumes to be extremely cold in winter but which they compared favorably [dry-cold] to Bay Ridge Brooklyn with its biting damp winds coming in off the Hudson River of New York’s  Lower Bay). This was a contention he would long dispute. The train line’s rolling stock was in ill-repair. Heat was all or nothing. The trip began with “all,” but by the time  Montana had been reached the captives had had enough, and as elder-statesman of the car, it fell to my father to request a reduction of  heat. As a result, the train froze up from that car back, necessitating uncoupling and waiting for replacements in Billings’ train yards in December. At least there were Red Cross donuts and coffee to be had in the station.

On Christmas Eve, 1945, he found himself at Fort Dix, New Jersey, awaiting “separation.” To the day, a year before, in Hollandia, New Guinea, he had been packing for a different trip, the invasion of Luzon aboard the Appling. Now there were no passes to be had, and he headed off for a night’s sleep only to be awakened shortly later with word that passes were available. Fort Dix is outside of Trenton, N.J. on the old Pennsylvania Railroad line. Assuming train service (rather than military bus) was used, unless rerouted, he came in to the now gone Pennsylvania Station at 34th Street, Manhattan. He knew the way home. The BMT’s 4th Avenue Local (two green lights on the front) would take him all the way (making all stops) to 69th Street (as Bay Ridgers call it). It would take an hour. The Seabeach Express was probably not running this late at night, actually early morning Christmas Day.

What must he have felt, exhaustion allowing, as each of the so familiar stops was checked off? Anticipation and excitement, I imagine, although not so much in Manhattan, but surely after leaving Pacific Street (how ironic, Pacific Street) as the stops were now numerical and in ascending order. At last there was the familiar station through which he had daily commuted to work for six years and had used to report for induction thirty-three months ago. Up to street level at 4th Avenue, the Bay Ridge Diner’s red and off-yellow siding smiling a welcome, maybe not even noticed as he turned west down 69th Street (Bay Ridge Avenue) into the teeth of the icy cold wind, eventually coming to Ridge Boulevard and 72nd Street. It was three in the morning, and the apartment complex would be locked up. He wouldn’t have had his keys with him, but as any resident of Flagg Court then knew, if you went around to Ridge Blvd. and used the grand entry at the head of the complex’s swimming pool access to Unit One’s elevator from the basement level was unobstructeded. Up to the fourth floor and the known route to Apt. 146. He’d have to ring the doorbell. Gertrude didn’t know he’d be arriving. According  to him, her first startled words were, “Where are all your medals?” This she would always deny. And while the math is a bit fuzzy, as I like to end the story, nine and a half months later, I invaded the scene.

by Roger Malbuisson (son)
East Haddam CT, August 2011