Home Again Reunions Stories Photos Clan Robbie


Lingayen Gulf Landings January 1945

On 31 December 1944, the Robbie, with five sister ships of DesRon 22 under Commodore R. H. Smith, sailed from Seeadler Harbor, Manus Island, as the protective screen for R. Adm. Kiland’s Transport Group Able. Group Able had embarked the 27th Infantry Division - part of the U. S. Sixth Army’s 4-division Lingayen Attack Force - assigned the significant task of separating the forces of Japan from the island of Luzon.

A look at a map of the Philippines shows why Lingayen Gulf was chosen for the initial landings. It offered a ‘protected’ anchorage, well-removed from the heavy concentration of forces and fortifications around Manila Bay, yet connected to Manila some 117 miles away by a river-level valley between two mountain chains. Plus, the roads to Manila lead through lands heavily populated by friendly Philippinos. Lingayen Gulf was, in effect, a perfect ‘back door’ to Manila for its would be liberators.

This back door was rudely opened 9 January 1945 with a heavy naval shore bombardment, followed at 0951 by the initial landings of some 68,000 GIs on the beach - unopposed. No sign of the Japan’s ‘Elite Luzon Force’. By afternoon of the 9th, Gen. MacArthur was ashore proclaiming the landing an unqualified success. The GIs found themselves engulfed in a tumultuous and joyous welcoming celebration by happy Philippinos, anticipating their imminent deliverance. The Robbie, and all the vast flotilla of warships, transports and landing craft, settled in at anchor in the Gulf for the night, pleased with their day’s work, expecting a peaceful and relaxing night.

"By the time we took part in ‘D Day’ in Lingayen Gulf, it was becoming ‘old hat’ because this was the 6th or 7th landing we had made. So, the story begins at night after the landing. All the ships had dropped anchor in the gulf. About 0400 the next morning I had just come on the watch (it was still dark, well before sun-up) which I stood on the port depth charge battery. I had a cup of coffee in my hand and as I sat down, the ship was rocked by an explosion. I don’t know what happened to the cup of coffee, but I jumped to my feet and at the same time heard the roar of an engine which turned out to be from a small Jap boat. The Japs had dropped some sort of an explosive under the ship somewhere in the area of the bridge. General quarters was sounded, and I ran to my battle station, which was a 20mm gun on the port side. We heard some scattered small arms fire, but nothing much happened. The next day the word went around that a number of charges had been set by the Japs and that they had even gotten on board an LST and slit guys’ throats. True or not, I don’t know". Don Fahlberg

"Here's a funny one on Capt. Grantham -- He said it was the most humiliating thing to happen to him. It seems the night we got hit by that suicide boat at Lingayen, he got up in a hurry and found a Thompson submachine gun and took off to go chase them by going down the side of the bridge, and ran smack into Lt. Winslow [our XO] who was coming the other way. They both ended up flat on the deck. Not too funny to tell--must have been hilarious.

"Before we left Manus, several officers, myself included, had discovered a Coca Cola plant on the island. So we bought several cases of the [bottled] stuff, and roommate Duffy and I stashed several of them in the space between the bottom bunk and the deck - a very confined and [it turns out] vulnerable place. When the explosion rudely awoke us, we jumped to the deck, and found ourselves wading in Coca Cola while dressing as fast as we could. Duffy and I had lots of laughs about that."…Arnold Darrow, Jan 1999

In the light of day and hindsight, our ship’s historian, Buck Bedford, recorded

"An 18½-foot plywood suicide boat, manned by two Japanese, dumped two 260-pound depth charges with shallow settings into the sea from the stern of their boat, coming in so close that Robinson’s guns could not be brought to bear, and sped away into the darkened night. She suffered no serious damage, but the force of the resulting underwater explosions at frame 48 sent her men reeling along the decks, and temporarily put her sonar equipment out of commission. Seventy of these suicide boats had sortied from their concealed anchorage at Port Saul in the southwest corner of Lingayen Gulf. Nearly all were lost in this initial attack, which sank the LCI(M)-974, damaged the LCI(G)-365 so seriously she had to be abandoned, and caused grave damage to two transport ships and four LSTs. No further attacks of this nature developed at Lingayen."

But the day was just beginning. At daybreak, Robbie’s 5-inch and 40 mm guns were busy fending off a diving suicide plane, helping to splash it harmlessly clear of its intended target. Again at dusk - another suicide plane, diving on a high speed transport, splashed wide of its target with help from Robbie’s guns. Then…

"The next night I came on watch (I believe the watch had been "dogged", so I had the mid watch (0000 to 0400) and the guy I was to relieve was sitting on the depth charge rack. It was pitch black and the ship was underway. All ships were going in a circle in the gulf [small wonder!]. He said "Hold out your hand". I did, and he put about 15 lbs. of iron in my hands and said it was a Thompson submachine gun on full automatic and off of safe. Wow! - I had never even seen one before except in the movies. I sat for 4 hours holding it like a baby.

The next day a gunner’s mate took us back on the fantail and told us about the gun and let us fire a couple of rounds. So much for training in the Navy. He also let us fire a .45 which we had been carrying on watch in port for over a year. But remember, we won the war anyhow!" …Don Fahlberg, March 1999

Yes, Don, we won the war anyhow, but our Robbie’s deliverance from disaster in Lingayen Gulf must be credited to our ever-watchful guardian, Little Robbie, whose powers far exceed any number of Tommy guns, even in trained hands.

Robbie’s involvement in the Lingayen landings ended two uneventful days later when she departed the gulf with a convoy of empty transports headed for Leyte Gulf. But the Army’s battles were just beginning. The closer the GI’s approached Manila, the more fiercely the Japanese resisted. February of 1945 is remembered by Manila’s residents, and combatants on both sides, as the Month of Horror, when the streets were washed in blood, and the Japanese had to be wrenched out, block by block, building by building, room by room.

Return to Top