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    Damortis La Union Province | Luzon¬†Philippines
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Carl R. Thien 1945

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Justin Taylan 2005
Location
Lat 16° 14' 32N Long 120° 24' 32E ¬†Damortis is a a barrio of San Fernando on Luzon in the Philippines. Borders Lingayen Gulf to the west. The Damortis-Rosario Road (Route 3-11 junction). connects Damotoris to Rosario.

Wartime History
On December 22, 1941 north of Damortis five U. S. Army M3 Stuarts led by Lt. Ben R. Morin engaged Type 95 Ha Go Light Tanks from the Japanese Army, 4th Tank Regiment. During the combat, Morin maneuvered off road but suffered a direct hit and caught fire with the entire crew captured by the Japanese. The other four were also hit but were able to withdraw. Afterwards, occupied by the Japanese Army.

During the Japanese occupation, the Japanese built a memorial marker to concrete monument at this location. By 1945, the Japanese emplaced artillery at this location anticipating an American amphibious landing at at Lingayen Gulf and combat in this area.

After the January 9, 1945 American liberation landing at Lingayen Gulf, Damortis was one of the first objectives of the U. S Army. Advancing eastward, they were engaged by Japanese forces at Damortis. On January 12, 1945 liberated by the U. S. Army 158th Regimental Combat Team (158th RCT).

Glenn Shankle, 158th RCT adds:
"What I do remember vividly was being shelled at Damortis by large US naval guns that the Japanese had captured in their invasion. The big guns were concealed in caves in the mountains, mounted on railroad tracks. They only fired the guns at night so that they were hard to pinpoint. The 147 artillery set up surveyers instruments to spot the flashes after dark. They then could zero in on the big gun positions to keep them inside the caves until the 158 could organizes assaults. The third battalion (my unit) was dug in right in town. That first night, as we were being shelled, those big guns prevented any thought of sleep or rest. One big shell was a dud, and the next morning there was a ditch plowed by the dud with the unexploded shell at the lower end of the ditch. I went over to have a look, and stamped on the side were the words "Made in Pittsburg, USA".

was wounded on the road to Baguio that goes east out of Damortis. We were approaching the summit of the pass while being shelled by a enemy mountain gun. I think it was about a 37mm gun. Sundown was approaching, so our C. O. said to set up a perimeter and dig in for the night. My platoon was assigned to a ravine that had a small stream running in it. I was glad for the opportunity to wash up a bit. Near the stream next to the stream bank, there was a pile of straw and movement in the straw. I quickly jumped up on the bank above the straw and dropped phosphorous grenade into the straw. That brought out about 25 or 30 Japs out of a cave covered by the straw. I was firing into their backs as they came out, but they dispersed around the area and my platoon found ourselves in hand to hand combat. I took a bullet hit in my right leg and fell right in center of things. Lucky for me my buddies brought plenty of automatic fire from Browning subs, giving the medics space to come into the ravine to drag me out. I was carried out of the ravine back up to the highway. While the medics attended to me, another cave was uncovered with about the same number of enemy. I was told that there was 75 enemy killed that evening before full darkness set in."

Japanese Memorial Marker "Kenju No He"
This concrete marker at the road junction at Damortis was built by the Japanese, and reads: "Kenju No He" (Dead Soldiers for Country Monument). Japanese Memorial Marker: Then & Now. Demolished after the war in the 1950s by 'treasure hunters' sanctioned by the town Mayor, hoping to find 'Yamashita's Gold'. They found nothing inside other than concrete and rebar. Today, only its shattered base remains. Yet, a false belief this marker has to do with treasure lingers in the minds of some locals.

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Last Updated
October 23, 2019

 

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