With the opening of World War II in the Pacific, Japanese forces bombarded Pearl Harbor in December 7, 1941; crippling the strong American naval power. After the bombardment of Pearl Harbor, Japanese forces proceeded to the Philippines on the following day. They launched deadly attacks in Manila and other military installations. General Douglas MacArthur, commander of United States Armed Forces in the Far East (USAFFE) declared Manila as "Open City"in December 26, 1941. Due to overstretched and lack of supplies, American commanders ordered their units to gradually abandon their defense lines and they withdrew to Bataan and Corregidor.

In Magalang, the combined Filipino and American forces was composed by the 11th Division led by Brigadier General William Brougher. The units under the western line of 11th Division was composed of 11th Infantry; who they set up their defenses from Magalang-Concepcion road in barrio San Antonio to Mt. Arayat. The 11th Infantry was initially commanded by Col. Glen Townsend and he was replaced by Capt. Russel W. Volckmann. 11th Infantry was composed of three battalions, the 1st Battalion was placed as reserve force, the 2nd Battalion, composed of Igorot troops was commanded by Major Helmert J. Duisterhof, who were put in charge along Magalang-Concepcion road, and the 3rd Battalion were deployed east of Mt. Arayat. On January 1, 1942, Brig. Gen. Brougher ordered the 11th Infantry to withdraw its forces gradually and they will retreat to the town of Guagua. While they preparing for eventual withdrawal, Capt. Volckmann conducted an ambush on two Japanese columns who are encamped in the nearby town of Concepcion. After the ambush, two columns of Japanese reinforcements came and the first column successfully occupied the defense lines in Mt. Arayat. The second column, composed of infantry and artillery, attacked the defense line along Magalang-Concepcion road. Major Duisterhof and the Igorot second battalion bore the brunt of the assault. Despite repeated attacks, the second battalion armed with 75 mm machine guns, inflicted fifty percent losses to the Japanese. The enemy attempted to outflank the 11th Infantry line by pushing them through dense sugarcane fields, but they met with failure. After the 11th Infantry's eventual withdrawal from Magalang, Japanese effectively occupied Magalang on the same day. The enemy entered the town proper with no resistance. And the Japanese set up their military detachments around the town. Magalang Elementary School was made into military garrison and military hospital, the church steeple of San Bartolome Church was set up as military observation post, the Pampanga Agricultural School was made into Japanese military training camp. and the mansion of Cayetano Rivera was converted into Japanese military headquarters of the town. The mansions of Daniel O. Lacson, Faustina Baron-Lacson, Tomas Dizon, Atty. Jose Morales, and Dr. Nicolas Wijangco were also converted into Japanese civilian outposts. The municipal mayor at that time was Jose M. Navarro. When he was ambushed by the guerrillas in 1943, the Japanese appointed Atty. Isidoro Ayuyao as the new mayor of Magalang. 

After the fall of Bataan, the defender of Magalang, Capt. Russel Volckmann escaped from the infamous Death March, together with his friend, Capt. Donald Blackburn. They find a escape route to Mt. Arayat, and they are welcomed by the Magaleño socialist leader, Eusebio Aquino, who also as one of the high ranking officers of Hukbalahap. After their brief stay with Tatang Bio, Volckmann and Blackburn with the help of Huks managed to find their route all the way to Northern Luzon to take over the leadership of the largest guerilla force in Northern Luzon, the United States Army Forces in the Philippines- Northern Luzon (USAFIP-NL). This guerrilla group was responsible for eliminating the large force of General Tomoyuki Yamashita based Cordillera mountains in 1945. On September 3, 1945, Yamashita surrendered unconditionally,

Photo Credit:

http//.www.historynet.comhow-did-the-japanese-draft-citizens-in-world-war-ii.htm/Retrieved: December 26, 2016.


Bartolo, Louie Aldrin L. and Dizon, Lino L.,Manila: The Magalang Book: The Historical Life and Culture of a Kapampangan Town (1605-2015); National Commission for Culture and the Arts, 2016

Guardia, Mike, American Guerilla: The Forgotten Heroics of Russel W. Volckmann, Havertown, Pennsylvania, Casemate Publishing, 2010 

Morton, Louis, The Fall of the Philippines, Washington D.C., Center of Military History, 1993 

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