Five Years to the Day: a memoir of World War 2 1941-1946 – Excerpts

Five Years to the Day: A Memoir of World War II 1941-1946 -Excerpts

By Frank P. Conant

“On September 6 [1945] censorship was lifted, and now our letters could act as a diary of the last stages of the War.  A letter dated 10 Sep. 45 told this tory which I now realize was a foolhardy adventure if there ever was one.

‘Today I have been hunting, not wild pigs or monkeys, but live Japs!  This is how it came about. 

Behind our Camp is Mt. Balungao, a 1,000′ volcanic lump with a round top but very steep sides.  It towers like a monument above the flat Pangasinan plain.  Around the peak are low hills, thickly wooded, and a rough grass land with steep, wooded ravines.  For some time our Filipino workmen have said there are Japs up there, and only two weeks ago a gang of [Filipinos] presented a dead Jap soldier to a lone bridge guard of ours.  Only last week a neighboring outfit lost a man killed by a Jap grenade.

This morning First Lieutenant Wicker came in to say his Filipino assistant knew where some Japs were hiding out.  So we arranged to investigate after lunch.  There were four of us, Wicker, his jeep driver, his Filipino, and myself–all armed with loaded carbines.  We drove up our road a couple of miles, turned off a ways to a very small barrio where lived the uncle of our Filipino, – yes, he had seen two Japanese eating there on Saturday and would show us where.  In patrol fashion we walked up into the high ground, and very shortly the old uncle indicated that this deep, forested ravine was the place.

Cautiously we crept down into it to discover a bed of coals still warm, and tracks, one leading upstream, the other down.  We separated, John and his Filipino going up, the jeep driver and myself going down.  Shortly we found where the Japs had lain in the grass, and there was clothing and two bags of food–camotes (wild sweet potatoes), peanuts and corn.

Then the other party sounded off with a volley of shots just 50 yards up the ravine. We heard rustling in the grass but dared not rise for Wicker’s bullets were singing over our heads.  When the commotion quieted, I crawled up to learn the story.  The other two had proceeded upstream through thick vines and were attracted by a Jap body not yet decayed.  Suddenly, there was a rustle on the other side of the ravine, they wheeled and there was a man crawling like a pig up into the tall grass.  Both John and his Filipino fired but missed.  We tried unsuccessfully to track him but to no avail.  We retired with his booty of money, clothing, food and medicine.

These isolated Japs lived in the wilder region taking advantage of cultivated and wild crops, sometimes robbing isolated Filipino homes or even Army messes.  Here we have them living in our own back yard and they do not know the war is over…’ ”


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