U.S. Forces Philippine Islands 1941
Unfortunately, they had little in the way of modern equipment. The infantry was still using the American Enfield and the Springfield 03 as the primary shoulder weapon, and MacAurther's requests for modern tanks and artillery were turned down as current production was already committed to lend lease in Europe.
Consequently, the Japanese offensive quickly backed the American and Filipino troops into the Bataan Peninsula. When resistance was no longer practical, McArthur had already left the Philippines, and General Wainwright was forced to surrender the U.S. forces remaining. A lot of Americans decided they didn't want to be guests of the Emperor and headed for the bush. Technically, this made them deserters from the U.S. standpoint, and the Japanese declared them bandits.
Some of the them were bandits. Some just hid out and took it easy as much as possible. Some got away to Australia in all sorts of unlikely watercraft. Some set up guerrilla organizations and resisted the Japanese occupation.
One of the latter was a Navy Lieutenant named David Richardson. He was a PT boat sailor, his boat was sunk by Japanese aircraft, and he eventually wound up with a guerrilla outfit run by another American. He wrote his memoirs after the war, entitled American Guerrilla in the Philippines.
It was a big seller, and was made into a movie starring Tyrone Power.
I remember seeing it a long time ago. There is some "poetic license" in the movie. He did have a girl friend, but as soon as he could get out of the Philippines, which was 1944 as I recall, he abandoned her.
Although Tyrone Power brandishes a machete on the movie poster, Lieutenant Richardson was primarily in charge of communications equipment in his group. His war was not that up close and personal most of the time. When he did engage the Japanese, he did it in classic guerrilla fashion, sneaking up on them, shooting a few rounds off, and then running like hell. But you know how Hollywood works, and I guess it was the same back after World War II.
I got my copy of this book on 13 December, 1980 at Camp Butler, Okinawa. I have no idea what I was doing at Camp Butler that day, since that's where the infantry was garrisoned (the Huns from the North). I was with the more gentile crowd at Camp Foster and MCAS Futema, that is to say, the III Marine Air Wing, in the Southern part of Okinawa.
At any rate, so much for nostalgia. I was reading the book again, and I came across Richardson's description of how they made ammo for their American Enfields and Springfields. After mid 1942 they sometimes got ammo from U.S. submarines that snuck in at night to deliver supplies. Prior to that, they had to make their own since Japanese Arisaka rifles did not use 30-06, so captured ammo was no good to them.
I had to type this out of the book and the print is tiny, so if there are any mistakes, let me know and I'll fix them. Here are the two rifles in question:
American Enfield, P-17
"After the battle of Baybay our army's first problem - more immediate even than establishing a civil government and getting paid, was ammunition. They had shot off almost everything they had. Besides, they had been using battery separators and battery terminal lead as well as other soft metals for their bullets. With soft metal like that, you fire a few times and the rifling of the barrel fills up. Then you get a recoil that throws you ten feet.
The whole ordnance problem became my baby. I had made a deal with Colonel McLish, before leaving him, for four thousand empty 30-caliber cartridges. (Note: Richardson moved from group to group.He argued with everybody and was not overly popular with the leaders so he didn't stay with any one group long for the first part of his guerrilla "career.") We'd load them and give him back 1000 loaded cartridges in exchange. I found a kid named Kuizon to organize an ordnance factory for us. We scrounged around and got a hand forge, some hacksaws, and a file. That was the small arms factory.
This boy Kuizon did all the experimenting. He wa about 21, the son of a pharmacist from Bato. He had never been in the Army before, but I made him a Third Lieutenant because he was so ingenious and willing.
We foraged in schoolhouses for the bullets to fill the shells. The brass curtain rods there were made of good hard metal just a little bit thicker than a .30 caliber bullet. We cut the rod up into appropriate lengths, then filed the end down to point it. There was a broken down old Springfield rifle there, and they'd stick the bullet in this, take a rod and try to ram it through. If it went, it fit. If it didn't, they'd file some more.
For the primer, we used sulfur mixed with coconut shell carbon. Later we were able to get hold of some antimony and add it to the mixture. Then it worked 80 to 90% efficiently. Our main source of powder was from Japanese sea mines that we would dismantle. We'd mix in pulverized wood to retard the burning because mine powder is too violent a propellant for rifles. It took us blowing up about five rifles - blowing off the firing pins, the extractors, and the bolts- to find that out.
All measuring was done rudely, by thumb and by guess and by God. You'd pour the powder into the cartridge with a little homemade funnel sort of thing until you thought you had enough. Then you'd put the piece off the brass curtain rod into the cartridge and crimp the cartridge round it with a pair of pliers. Presto, you had a loaded round! Each bullet had to be tested for fit because all our cartridges had been fired once or twice or four times before. We'd load and extract each round. If the shoulder was too big, we'd crimp it down. If it was small, we would say that was fine.
Getting the right measure for the mixture was Kuizon's business. It was all trial and error. When there was an error, the cartridge would rupture in the gun. Hot gases would flash past the bolt and burn his hands. One morning he broke three rifles in succession, burning his hands three times and jolting his shoulder so badly his toes ached.
"Sir, I do not like this work, sir." he admitted finally. " I will put the rifle on the table, sir, and test by long distance, sir."
Finally we managed to dragoon an apothecary's scales and after a few more tests "by long distance" no more rifles blew up. Using this ammunition was hard on our guns, but it worked and killed Japanese like hell. The boys liked them because the mine powders gave the bullets so much power they never had to figure windage.
Our ordnance factory never filled more than a one room house, about twenty feet by ten. But we expanded it to make extractors, and firing pins out of such steel as we could find- usually spring steel. These weren't very successful, but they worked fine for about a dozen rounds. I put sixty soldiers to work in the ordnance plant, but the filing of the brass curtain rods to fit took so long that our production never got better than an average of 160 bullets a day."
How's that for some load data?