Eyewitness Reports - Balanacan Bombing
This account is from the book "Double Life Sentence", an 2000 autobiography by
E.B. Miso Jr., former Director of the Bureau of Corrections.  ISBN 971-92126
They next two reports are from (then) young children.
JOHN FORSYTH BOMBING SQUADRON 18, USS INTREPID
A scout had reported four Jap ships in a protected bay off the island of Marinduque, in the
North Sibuyan Sea, south of Manila. They were warships, long and sleek, destroyers of
some type. The mission of such ships was to transport men and ammunition from Luzon to
the Japanese forces fighting our men on Leyte. Their tactics were to wait for dark, then run
down the island chain to reinforce and supply their troops. They chose not to move in
daylight, when we were in the area.Often, the destroyers used for these missions were old
or obsolete, but they were still fast warships; they had to be to make the run to Leyte, unload
and be safely away from the battle zone by dawn. During the day, they'd seek a sheltered
cove or even tie up to an island and cover themselves with camouflage and nets if possible.
According to Japanese records, these four ships had left Ormoc Bay near manila on
November 24,1944. The first night they reached Marinduque Island and hid in a bay. The
record shows that there were 3,470 soldiers and sailors aboard. The record further states
that, of all those men, only ten survived. Two of the four ships had been attacked and sunk
by VB-18's first strike of the day. Now, an hour later, we were after the remaining two. We
had six 1,000 pound packages to deliver to each ship. There were 1,670 men on those two
ships-not one survived.  Our scout plane had reported the correct position and we navigated
right to the island. The day was clear and the sun was high in the sky. We came over the
island at 14,000 feet and flew slightly past the ships to be directly up-sun from them. The
ships were slender, not easy to hit, but they were at anchor. Six bombers attacked each
ship. At the chosen point, the first bomber pulled up in a smooth, soaring, graceful wingover;
rolled inverted; and started down. Each following bomber pulled up, over and down, almost
in cadence. We came directly out of the sun. The AA fire was minimal. After the first
thousand-pounder went off, either on or right beside the ship, the AA fire, if anymore came,
was ineffectual. A 1,000 pound bomb exploding on a light ship destroys the ship and
disables its crew. This day each ship took six 1,000 pound bomb hits or near misses. The
ships disappeared in the smoke and fire of the bomb blasts and the 100 foot tall geysers of
water from the near misses. When the smoke and spume cleared away, the ships were
gone. They had been blown to pieces and sunk in about one minute! There was no trace of
the crews. They died, all of them. 1,670 men died without even a chance to radio they were
under attack. As far as the Japanese knew, they just disappeared. Once more I was
appalled at the devastation of the ships and the complete annihilation of so many men. Yet, I
felt like cheering each time a bomb hit home. But then I shuddered as bomb after bomb
exploded with fearful intensity, sending forth shattering shock waves and flying shrapnel that
churned the water. In a sense it was unreal and impersonal. I saw the ships being blown
apart but I couldn't picture the violent deaths of the men aboard them.As the bombers
completed their dives,they met to the north to leave for home together, but I had a job to do.
My rear gunner carried a camera to record the results of our attacks. So when I pulled out of
the bomb run, I circled the targets while he took pictures. It was the only way the Air Combat
Intelligence officers could be sure that we had done what we said. We took four pictures.
They were graphic and are now part of Navy archives. After the photo passes, I caught up to
the group as it started back for the Intrepid. Twenty minutes later, the radio squawked, we
were ordered to change course and proceed to Leyte Island and land at Tacloban airstrip
there. No reason was given,but we knew. Our ship had been hit or sunk, and we were on
our own. Passage from the book Helldivers, US Navy Dive-Bombers at War" by John F
Forsyth, Motorbooks International Publishers Wholesalers
Neri Layag 9 year old boy in Balanacan:
I remember it was in the morning. The first I knew that something was going on was that the
trumpets started sounding on the ships. We went outside and looked to the east and you
could see planes in a  formation coming towards the harbour from out of the sun. People
were yelling and pointing at the ships.  There they are trying to help the pilots of the planes.
The ships started firing their cannons but this stopped after the first bomb dropped. It was a
large explosion and I hide under the table with my father. We could hear the planes using
their machine guns when the sound of the bombs weren't heard. After the bombing stopped
my father went to see what happened and he said that all that was left was part of a ship
near the shore. The Japanese that had been at Balanacan prior to the bombing left
afterwards toward Boac and there were never any Japanese after that at Balanacan.

Aurora Layag (Natolla) A young girl in Nangka (Next to the Mogpog River):
We heard and saw the planes flying north along the east side of the island. We watched as
they flew towards Balanacan and could see the bombs dropping from the planes. The bombs
disappeared behind the hills but we could hear the explosions and it scared us. At first we
hid under a coconut tree. Later my brother put me on his shoulders and we went into the hills
to hide, afraid the Japanese would get us.