During World War II, US Navy submarines helped supply Filipino and American guerrillas with arms, ammunition and supplies, also ferrying personnel in and out of the islands.

Known as the SPYRON (for Spy Squadron) Operation, it supported the Filipino and American Guerrillas resistance to the Japanese occupation after the Philippines fell to the Japanese Imperial Forces in early 1942.

The Spyron operation was key to the success of the resistance. Without the arms and supplies ferried by US submarines, the guerrillas would have been unable to sustain their intelligence gathering and sabotage operations against the Japanese Imperial Army.

Last Mission to Balingasag

On Sept 27, 1944 Narwhal was back under Cmdr. Jack C. Titus (who took command starting with her 11th War Patrol) in Northern Mindanao, to deliver 3 men and 20 tons of supplies to Balingasag, Misamis Oriental. This later proved to be the last Spyron mission to Northern Mindanao.

Cmdr Jack Clarence Titus as a Midshipman in 1933. He was awarded the Legion of Merit for exceptionally meritorious services during the Narwhals 14th War Patrol which included the mission to Balingasag.

Balingasag was within the area of responsibility of the 110th Infantry Regiment, 110th Division (Guerrilla) which extended from the Tagoloan River, Misamis Oriental to the Eastern border of the province. At this time, it was led by Maj. Rosauro P. Dongallo, who took over from Capt. Francisco N. Luz on Feb. 1942, who succeeded the first commanding officer Capt. Pedro D. Collado.

Major Rosauro P. Dongallo, Sr., Commanding Officer, 110th Infantry Regiment, 110th Division, 10th Military District, USFIP. He later served as the Provincial Governor of Misamis Oriental.

The 110th Infantry Regiment was one of the organic regiments of the 110th Division which garrisoned that portion of Misamis Oriental East of the Tagoloan River, the province of Agusan, province of Surigao and that of Davao.

Lt. Col. Ernest Edward McClish commanded the 110th Division during the time of the Balingasag Landing. (FamilySearch.org)

At the time of the SPYRON mission to Balingasag, the division was headed by Lt. Col. Ernest E. McClish. The 110th Division played a vital part in establishing supply lanes in Mindanao. Under its supervision, water by-ways were opened, sea-going vessels and fuel were procured for them, all of which activities markedly contributed to facilitating supply.

USS Narwhal’s (SS-167) size made it suitable as a supply and troop transport to guerrillas in the Philippines during World War II.

Narwhal surfaced on the night of Sept. 27, 1944 and sighted the proper signal from the shore of Balingasag. Some 45 minutes later, a heavy rain obscured all land and at 1744 hrs. a small boat with a US ensign was sighted. All cargo was unloaded by 2100 in spite of the bad weather and at 2103, Narwhal commenced clearing the coast. 

Balingasag Seashore, Misamis Oriental taken 22 October 1944 (NARA)

By Sept. 28 she left the Mindanao Sea for Siari Bay where she embarked 81 liberated POWS and one doctor. The prisoners had been aboard Japanese transports sunk by the submarine USS Paddle (SS-263) off Sindangan Point on September 6.

For exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services to the Government of the United States as Commanding Officer of the U.S.S. NARWHAL (SS-167), during the FOURTEENTH War Patrol of that Submarine from 14 September 1944 to 5 October 1944 in Japanese waters, Commander Jack C. Titus, United States Navy, was awarded the Legion of Merit.

Transition

With the increasing American air and naval presence in the Philippines beginning January 1945, it was now possible to use surface craft to supply guerrillas. The limited cargo capacities of the submarines previously constrained the amount of material they could deliver. The Spyron submarine missions ceased when surface deliveries began.

Task Group 70.4  was created to aid Filipino Guerillas in the southern areas of the Philippines. As originally constituted, the Task Group consisted of Landing Craft, Support (Large) LCS (L) 9 and 10, and Landing Craft Infantry (Large) LCI (L) s 361 and 363 under the command of Lieutenant Albert C. Eldridge.

Organized on 24 January 1945, the Task Group was charged with the supply and support of Filipino guerrillas in Mindanao. From February 1945 to May 1945, Task Group 70.4 completed thirteen missions.

LCS(L)10 stands by as LCI(L)363 unloads rice with the help of Filipino guerrillas, at Gingoog, Misamis Oriental.(NARA)

One of most notable of these was the guerrilla raid on Talisayan, Misamis Oriental, which was conducted to eliminate and wipe out the Japanese garrisoned at this key objective.

Amphibious in nature, the operation involved guerrilla units of the 110th Infantry Regiment, 110th Division, 10th Military District (Mindanao), United States Forces in the Philippines (USFIP) with an original strength of 200 men but which rose to 350 when a call for volunteers was issued. The US Navy Task Group 70.4 coordinated the operation.

LCI(L)-363 being unloaded at Gingoog, Misamis Oriental most likely by guerrillas of the 110th Infantry Regiment (US Navy Photo)

You can read more of the Guerrilla Raid on Talisayan at https://www.metrocdo.com/2020/10/30/guerrilla-raid-on-talisayan-2/.

This is an abridged version of this story. For the full version, please proceed to https://www.metrocdo.com/2020/10/29/guerrilla-submarines-in-northern-mindanao-during-world-war-ii/

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