- Posted May 5, 2012 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Eye on the Philippines
A first for Philippine reenactors: the Abucay Line Battle
As the sun gleamed off the blade of his Gunto, the Japanese captain looked left and right at the troops poised to charge the wire before them. Shells screamed in from above them towards the enemy lines. With the first explosions, he raised his sword and screamed: “Tenno heika!!!!”
The troops screamed “Banzai!” in unison and made the short headlong rush into the barbed wire defenses. The USAFFE forces quickly recovered and were soon firing into the advancing Japanese. Philippine scouts that had fallen in the initial rush were carried by their comrades into waiting jeeps.
The first Japanese troops who made it to the wire collapsed on it and died there, making a bridge for their comrades to rush through. Soon, counterbattery fire from the Philippine Scouts was pouring in among them and the attack faltered.
Whistles blew from the Philippine Army officers, bayonets were fixed and an attack was launched to rid the lines of the surviving invaders. The Scouts and Philippine Army troops brought forward in jeeps to the front lines jumped the sandbagged wall and rushed into the Japanese lines, stabilizing the front and saving the day in a short but violent melee. Acrid smoke and the scent of cordite filled the field as the USAFFE troops searched the dead Japanese and savored their first brief taste of victory…and then from somewhere came applause.
The assembled audience had just witnessed the first-ever period-authentic reenactment of the Battle of the Abucay Line, Bataan ever staged as part of the recent jeep jamboree of the Military Vehicle Collectors Club of the Philippines (MVCCP) and hosted by MD Juan Enterprises. The field of battle was the old 26th Cavalry parade ground at Fort Stotsenburg, Clark Field, Pampanga.
At the invitation of Mr. Rommel Juan, reenactors from the Philippine Scouts Heritage Society Fort (McKinley and Fort Stotsenburg Chapters), Buhay na Kasaysayan (Living History) and the Asia WW2 Airsoft Group represented US Army, Philippine Scouts, Philippine Army Soldiers and Imperial Japanese Army troops in period-authentic uniforms, field gear, replica weapons and even military jeeps.
To spice up the event (blank fire weapons are not legal in the Philippines), pyrotechnics were used to replicate gunfire and artillery together with an audio soundtrack with a description of the actual battle unfolding.
Authentic period jeeps were provided by the various MVCCP chapters to play the critical role of moving troops in and around the battlefield as they would have done 70 years ago. Jeeps had just been acquired by the US Army immediately before the beginning of hostilities in 1941 and had already been issued to US Army troops operating in the Philippines. It can actually be said that the Battle of Bataan saw the first combat use of many of America’s iconic World War 2 weapons and equipment such as the Garand Rifle and the Jeep.
After having rushed through the Japanese lines and assembling at the staging area behind the parade ground, the reenactors were all smiles. Finally having gone though their first public battle, the common question all were asking was: “When do we do this again?”