Flight with Quezon

by Nat Floyd, in Collier’s, August 1, 1942.

Philippine Islands

Floyd, Nat, “FLIGHT WITH QUEZON” In COLLIER’S, Aug. 1, p. 27:

When President Manuel Luis Quezon of the Philippine Commonwealth reached Washington on May 13th, he completed a strange, hazardous journey–out of Manila to battered Corregidor; In short dashes through the Japanese forces to Australia by submarine, torpedo speedboat and Flying Fortress; across the perilous Pacific by steamer.

Hard decisions faced him at each risky step, for his devoted wife, his young daughters and his cherished son went along without question whenever he said, “Lets go!”

General MacArthur rang the President’s line the morning or December 24th. He Invited the president and his family to join headquarters in the bombproof tunnels of Corregidor. On the 30th of December the President declined an Invitation from Washngton to go to the U.S. It was Important at that time for the Filipinos on Bataan
and on the other Islands to know that their leader was still there.

In February, he decided to set up headquarters in the more healthful southern islands of the archipelago, still mostly held by Filipino-American troops.

To move, the party needed a trustworthy and able chief conductor. From the front line on Bataan, Captain Andres Soriano was called to Corregidor. He became concurrently a major and Minister of Finance.

On February 20 at dusk a submarine slipped through the mine fields and anchored at Corregidor. That night President Quezon his family, and five others were put aboard. At dawn on February 24 the vessel put it at San Jose, Panay Island.

After resting a night in San Jose, the party went to Iloilo at the southern end of Panay. From there they went by boat to San Carlos, on the island of Negros, where they stayed tIll March 18.

On March 16 President Quezon received a brief, friendly letter from General MacArthur relating developments, and inviting him to join headquarters In Australia. MacArthur outlined how the tourney should be made.

Naval hero Lt. John D. Bulkeley was to take the Quezons and their party from Negros
to Mindanao in motor torpedo boats. Bulkeley had two boats in running order: the PT-41 skippered by Ensign George Cox of New York; and the PT-35 commanded by Ensign Anthony Akers Of Los Angeles.

They left the anchorage on the northern coast of Mindanao almost an hour before sundown March 18. Bulkeley sailed on his own responsibility.  Maj. Gen. W. F. Sharp, in
command of Mindanao forces, told the naval officer three Japenese destroyers had been reported near Negros. Although the General had authority through MacArthur, he would not order Bulkeley so take the risks.

The PT-41 reached Oroquieta, Mindanao In early morning. Fifteen, hard-flghting fire-
tested Navy men–Bulkeley’s men–leaped ashore. In the motley dress and beards of
Captain Kidd’s pirates, these tough young Americans walked with businesslike precision toward the town with an array of tommy guns, riot guns, pistols and rifles at the ready. If Japanese had landed there during the night they were going to wish they hadn’t. The patrol stopped at the Inshore end or the pier where white-clad villagers began to gather. Held there, they did not see Quezon as he stepped on the bobbing deck. Within a few minutes the family and remainder of the party appeared on the pier and advanced toward the town In ragged formation.

From there, Quezon went on to Austraila by plane where he was met by general MacArthur. On April 21st, the president and his party salled for America.

Nat Floyd
Author: Nat Floyd
Wartime correspondent.

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