Battle of Patag commemorated

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Tuesday, July 8, 2014


THE "Battle of Patag" in Barangay Patag, Silay City, Negros Occidental happened in 1945 during the Second World War, when American soldiers and Negrense guerillas fought against the Japanese forces.

Negrense historian Modesto Sa-onoy recalled that the Japanese forces had been strengthening the Patag defense line starting April 1944 by withdrawing troops from Panay so that by the time of the American landing in Pulupandan on March 29, 1945, the estimated number of Japanese troops in the defensive positions was 17,000.

"The Japanese 77th Brigade was composed of imperial army units in Occidental Negros and Panay under Lt. General Takaishi Kono. They had chosen Patag at the foot of Marapara Mountain in Silay for its final defense position.

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"(The) approach to Patag from the west is through a narrow road that has precipitous gorges on both sides. On three other sides of Patag are impenetrable forests and towering mountain peaks. The defense line stretched from Patag to the south in Mt. Makawili in upper Talisay.

"The US 40th Division was tasked to clear Negros of the Japanese. It initially attacked with the 185th and 160th Regiments. The 160th attacked from Bacolod to Granada and then towards Concepcion in Talisay. The 185th attacked from Talisay and then moved on to secure Silay while the Division Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop skipped Silay and turned towards the Japanese airport in Guimbalaon where they met strong opposition.

"The two regiments were able to dispatch the Japanese's first line of defense that was subjected to heavy artillery and aerial bombardment. After they abandoned their first line of defense, the Japanese dug in the high ground of Lantawan, the second line of resistance.

"Here, the Americans met stiff opposition from well-prepared positions looking down on them. The two regiments halted and waited for its third regiment, the 503rd Regimental Combat Team.

"At seven in the morning of April 9, the Americans began the attack. The 185th attacked from San Juan while to its left the 503rd moved towards Patag by the Silay-Manzanares Road. Its objective was to take Patag by hitting the northern flank of the Japanese defense line.

"On the fifth day, the Third Battalion of the 503rd launched an aggressive assault and pushed the Japanese out of Manzanares and opened the road to Patag.

"On the evening of April 17, the 503rd ran into a strong defense on the lower slopes of the ridge as the Japanese released intense automatic and mortar fires on the Third Battalion.

"The following day, the Japanese rained mortar and machinegun fire on the regiment that by eleven in that morning, the 503rd suffered three dead and 14 wounded.

"The terrain was extremely difficult that the Americans had to hire Filipino porters to carry supplies to the forward units and call for periodic aerial and artillery support. But the weather was bad, the porters climbed along slippery slopes and the planes could not fly.

"Eventually, on May 2, the two regiments took two high grounds that looked down on Patag where the 503rd was inching forward.

"From these two high points, the Americans called in air strikes and artillery barrages on Patag all through May 3 and 5. The Americans found over a hundred dead Japanese and capture more of the shell-shocked enemy.

"With the 185th breathing down its neck and the 160th pressing hard on its left flank, the Japanese had no choice but to abandon their main line of defense, otherwise they would have been completely surrounded with nowhere to retreat. The Japanese left behind supplies and freshly dug graves in Patag and fled into the forested Terakuni Ridge of Marapara.

"By May 5, the Japanese had been driven out of Patag and Lantawan."

Thus wrote Sa-onoy of the "Battle of Patag," which he read on July 4, 2014 during the commemoration of the said battle and the celebration of the Philippine-American Friendship held in Barangay Patag.

The commemoration was attended by war veterans, students, guests, and local officials.

Gracing the activity were Silay City Mayor Jose Montelibano, Silay City Vice Mayor Mark Golez, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander Colonel Jon Aying, Negros Occidental police provincial director Senior Superintendent Milko Lirazan, Americans Joshua Montoya, Dennis Crabbe, Aries Rebugio from the US Embassy in Manila, and guests from Japan and Australia.

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on July 08, 2014.

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