Marines in World War II Commemorative Series
Arrival in the Philippines
The 1st Separate Marine Battalion
Preparing for War
Bombing of Cavite
Concentration at Mariveles
Christmas Day
Defenses of Manila Bay
First Bombing
Battle of the Points
The Bombardment Continues
The Formation of the 4th Battalion
1st Battalion Defenses
Japanese Preparations
The Landing
Movement of the Regimental Reserve
Attack of the 4th Battalion
Morning Battle
Special Subjects
The Marine Rearguard on Bataan
Marine Detachment, Air Warning Service
The Bataan Death March

FROM SHANGHAI TO CORREGIDOR: Marines in the Defense of the Philippines
by J. Michael Miller

Concentration at Mariveles

On 20 December, Admiral Rockwell ordered Lieutenant Colonel Adams to move his battalion to the Naval Section Base at Mariveles. The next day, two batteries and two companies of the 1st Separate Marine Battalion were ordered to withdraw promptly from Cavite to Mariveles. Lieutenant Carter B. Simpson remembered, "The Colonel with orders and the transportation arrived within one minute of one another." The 1st Separate Marine Battalion completed its evacuation of the Cavite Sangley Point area on the night of Christmas day with the last detachment finishing the destruction of the Navy Yard.

Private First Class James O. Faulkner drove a truck loaded with two tons of candy destined for the Navy commissary at Mariveles. Faulkner noticed the men from his unit resting along the road and pulled over beside them. He quietly informed them of the contents of his truck and then said loudly "I'm going to get something to eat. I don't want to see you getting on my truck!" The Marines understood his meaning and when Faulkner returned, the truck's load was considerably lighter.

On 24 December Lieutenant Colonel Donald Curtis, the regimental executive officer, was directed to move Lieutenant Colonel "Red" Anderson's 2d Battalion to Mariveles without delay Curtis began work at once. At 1800, 24 December, Captain Benjamin L. McMakin, Company F commander, called his officers and noncommissioned officers together and said simply, "Gentlemen, it is Christmas Eve. We move all night." The 2d Battalion boarded trucks and began the move to Mariveles at 2000 with truck convoys continuing for the following two days and nights to move the regimental ammunition and equipment. As night fell on 26 December all personnel, equipment, and supplies were in place in the jungle near Mariveles.

The entrance to Naval Base Mariveles after the fall of Bataan. National Archives Photo NH 73459

Admiral Rockwell ordered a detail of Marines under Major Frank P. Pyzick to destroy the Olongapo Navy Yard. At the first blast of explosives, the power plant engineer cut off all power to the Yard and disappeared. All demolition work came to a stop until a Marine working party restored power to detonate the remaining explosive charges. The obsolete cruiser USS Rochester was towed into Subic Bay and sunk by depth charges blowing open her hull. The PBY ramp was destroyed and all aviation fuel and submarine supplies were burned.

"The hard part," remembered Private First Class Wilbur M. Marrs, "was destroying all the footlockers that had the deep carved chests inside filled with ivory jade, silk robes, and other souvenirs" that were carefully brought out of Shanghai. Marrs later wrote, "Buildings and equipment that were not blown up, we poured fuel on, including these footlockers." All structures, except for the main building of the Marine Barracks, were left in flames as the Marine detachment departed the Navy Yard for the last time at 1900, 26 December.

On Christmas Eve, Japanese aircraft struck Mariveles, concentrating on the Free French freighter, S.S. Si Kiang. The ship was interned in Mariveles harbor, and a guard of eight 1st Battalion Marines prevented the crew from moving the vessel. A U.S. Army quartermaster proceeded to un load the ship's cargo of gasoline and flour, both of which were badly needed ashore. This daylight movement attracted the attention of the Japanese who bombed the Si Kiang, sending her to the bottom of Mariveles Bay. The 1st Battalion suffered its first losses of the war: two Marines killed and three wounded. The dead were buried with full military honors, in a somber ceremony presided over by Regimental Chaplain Herbert R. Trump, ChC, USN.

Christmas Day

The celebration of Christmas varied throughout the 4th Marines. Captain John Clark later wrote, this was "probably the worst Christmas I ever spent. No food. Nip airplanes bombing over the bay and flying over our area all day long. No damned fun." Marines of the 1st Battalion enjoyed a turkey dinner at Mariveles. Corporal George Bue and other members of Headquarters Company, 2d Battalion, feasted on peas and oatmeal as their Christmas dinner.

For Private First Class James O. Faulkner, the holiday began by driving a truck in the last convoy out of the Cavite Navy Yard. The vehicles halted near the village of San Roque when the astonished drivers saw Filipinos cooking doughnuts alongside the road. Enterprising villagers salvaged the flour from a ship sunk in Manila Bay and the hungry Marines happily joined in the holiday feast.

Lieutenant Colonel "Red" Anderson was driving toward Mariveles with some of his 2d Battalion headquarters staff, when he noticed a bombed-out Filipino cabaret outside Olongapo. Anderson ordered the vehicle stopped and took his men inside to celebrate the holiday and "have a Christmas drink." The headquarters party found the walls half gone, but the bar still intact and everyone soon had a drink in hand. Anderson then called for the singing of Christmas carols, and the group gathered around First Lieutenant Sidney F. Jenkins as he played the cabaret piano. All joined in the singing as they sipped their drinks. The high point of the party was when Private First Class Joseph E. "Frenchy" Dupont sang "Adeste Fideles," completely in Latin. For a brief moment, the war was forgotten.

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Commemorative Series produced by the Marine Corps History and Museums Division