The Pacific War Online Encyclopedia
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Panay is one of the Visayan Islands of the central Philippines. It lies to
the northwest of Negros and is the sixth largest of the Philippine
Islands, measuring some 75 miles (120 km) wide and 95 miles (150 km) long
with an area of 4448 square miles (11,520 km2). The island
has a central valley, through which runs the Jalauo River, flanked by
mountains to the west and hills to the east. The western chain reaches
to 6726' (2050 meters). There was a coastal road, and a second road and
railroad ran up the central valley. The principal town was Iloilo on the southeast coast.
The island was defended by 61
Division when war broke out.
Elements of 41 Regiment landed on 16 April 1942 and secured the major town unopposed. The Allied forces retreated into the mountains and prepared for guerrilla warfare. The prewar governor of Panay, Tomás Confesor, eventually joined the guerrillas and established a civil government. Tomas had rejected an invitation to join a puppet government and in January 1943 rejected a demand by Jose Laurel that he surrender (Morison 1959):
I firmly believe that it is not wise and statesmanly for our leaders, in this their darkest hour, to teach our people to avoid sufferings and hardships at the sacrifice of fundamental principles of government and the democratic way of life. On the contrary, it is their bounden duty and responsibility to inspire our people to willingly undergo any kind of difficulties and sacrifices for the sake of noble principles that they nourish deep in their hearts. Instead of depressing their patriotic ardor, the people should be inspired to be brave and courageous under all kinds of hardships and difficulties in defense of what they consider righteous and just. We shall never win or deserve the esteem and respect of other nations if we lack principles and if we do not possess the courage and valor to defend those principles at any cost.Elements of 40 Division (Brush) were landed on Panay on 18 March 1945 by Amphibian Group 9 (Struble) with cover from Cruiser Division 12 (Riggs). Preliminary bombardment began on 1 March and was provided by elements of 5 and 13 Air Forces and Marine Air Group 14. The landing force found the beach already occupied by guerrillas who were drawn up in parade formation to greet the Americans. The Japanese garrison, 2500 men of 170 Independent Battalion, 77 Brigade, had withdrawn to Iloilo, which they largely destroyed, and then to Inaman Hill. The Americans left the Japanese to the guerrillas. Casualties were about 20 Americans killed and 50 wounded, while the Japanese lost almost 1000 dead. Another 1560 Japanese surrendered at the end of the war.
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