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by Joseph F. St. John
The Vanguard press 1945
Alternate title: "Yankee Guerilla". This book is Joseph St. John's war time experiences, as told to International News Service reporter, Howard Handleman. Published in 1945, this book is written in plain language, yet is a powerful narrative, about an enlisted man who arrived at the Philippines just prior to the start of the war.
St. John begins describing his life in prewar Philadelphia, during the depression. Joining the USAAF, he posted to Hawaii and assigned to bombardment group, then sent to the Philippines in the summer of 1941, enjoying the brief good life while posted to Clark Field.
Everything changed on December 8, 1941 when the Pacific war began with the attack by Japanese fighters and bombers on Clark Field. He vividly describes the chaos of the attack, and how many crumbled emotionally from the damage of the singe attack that largely neutralized American air power. He also salutes the valor of those that picked up the challenge, especially the anti-aircraft gunners. He also personally helped to load the bombs aboard Captain Kelly's B-17C 40-2045, that was shot down but pressed an attack against Japanese landing forces
Moved to Bataan and escaping to Mindanao, aerial operations continue briefly, from Malabang Airfield. By early 1942, American resistance to the Japanese is crumbling. St. John describes the moments prior to the official surrender of American forces in the Philippines, scheduled for precisely May 10, 1945 at 5:00pm. Americans wondered what will happen to them next. Some, including St. John opted to avoid surrender, and hatched a plan to flee to Australia. Borrowing a Filipino 'banca' boat, he and a group attempt to sail to Australia, but quickly experienced problems, capsize and abandon the trip.
With the help of Filipino people who shelter him and other holdouts, despite close calls evading the Japanese. Later, he joins the guerilla movement, is promoted to an officer, and mans a radio spotting station on Leyte, reporting ship movements.
As time passes, the Japanese turn up the heat on the guerillas. All the while, The book is a fascinating view into Japanese occupied Philippines, where there were many risks, the Japanese, armed bandits, opportunist and pro-Japanese collaborators. But St. John praises the majority of Filipinos that protected him at great risk, and sacrificed everything .
When American forces are poised to return to the Philippines, St. John describes the greatest moment of the war: seeing American aircraft over Leyte! Next, a naval battle occurs off the coast: The Battle of Leyte Gulf. The first white person St. John sees in years is a Naval aviator who bailed out in his area.
When transports land at Leyte, he soon rejoins American forces and his story ends. Behind enemy lines for years, he praising American commitment to liberate the Philippines. While waiting, most Filipinos devoted themselves completely to the guerilla movement and protecting men like him.
Review by Justin Taylan
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