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The reinforced 40th Division (less the 108th RCT, which moved to Leyte) staged at Lingayen Gulf for the
Panay-Guimaras-northern Negros operation.1 The forces for Panay included 40th Division headquarters,
the 185th RCT, the 2d Battalion of the 160th Infantry, most of division artillery, and normal combat and
service attachments. The groupment left Lingayen Gulf on 15 March aboard vessels of Task Group 78.3,
Admiral Struble commanding, and reached Mindoro the next day. There, a group of 542d Engineer Boat
and Shore Regiment landing craft (mostly LCM's) from Leyte joined. Taking the engineer craft in tow,
Task Group 78.3 made an uneventful voyage to Panay and was in position off selected landing beaches on
the southeast coast before dawn on 18 March.

Following a brief destroyer bombardment, the 1st and 3d Battalions, 185th Infantry, landed unopposed
about twelve miles west of Iloilo, principal city of Panay and third largest commercial center in the
Philippines. The beach bombardment was unnecessary--the first assault wave was greeted on shore by
troops of Colonel Peralta's guerrilla forces, drawn up in parade formation and "resplendent in starched
khaki and shining ornaments."2 Numbering over 22,500 men, about half of them armed, the Panay
guerrillas controlled much of their island. GHQ SWPA had sent supplies to Peralta by submarine, had
relayed some by small craft through Fertig's guerrillas on Mindanao, and, after the landing on Leyte, had
flown supplies to guerrilla-held airfields on Panay. Engaged primarily in intelligence work until the
invasion of Leyte, the guerrillas had expanded their control

in late 1944, when over half the original Japanese garrison went to Leyte.

In March 1945 about 2,750 Japanese were on Panay, including 1,500 combat troops and some 400
civilians. The principal combat units were the d  
    of the d
and a company each from the d d and  same division. The remainder of the garrison
consisted of Air Force service personnel.

Most of the Japanese, commanded by Lt. Col. Ryoichi Totsuka, who was also commander of the d 
 were stationed at or near Iloilo. Totsuka planned to defend the Iloilo area and its excellent harbor and
airfield facilities for as long as possible, but he had no intention of presiding over the annihilation of his
force in a battle he knew he could not win. Therefore he decided to withdraw to the rough mountains of
south-central Panay as soon as he felt his Iloilo defenses were no longer tenable. Avoiding contact with
U.S. forces, he would attempt to become self-sufficient in the mountains, where he anticipated he could
hold out almost indefinitely. Whether Totsuka knew it or not, his plan was strikingly similar to that
executed by Col. Albert F. Christie's Panay Force in April 1942. The Fil-American garrison on Panay in
1942 had withdrawn troops and equipment into the mountains and successfully held out until directed to
surrender.3

The 185th Infantry rapidly expanded its beachhead on 18 March 1945 against light, scattered resistance,
and during the afternoon started along the coastal road toward Iloilo. By dusk the next day Colonel
Totsuka had concluded that further resistance would be pointless and accordingly directed his forces to
begin their withdrawal that night. Breaking through an arc of roadblocks that guerrillas and the 40th
Reconnaissance Troop had established, the Japanese made good their escape, and by 1300 on 20 March
the 185th Infantry was in complete control of Iloilo. (Map 30)

The Japanese withdrawal decided the issue on Panay. The 40th Division, estimating that only 500
Japanese in disorganized small groups remained on Panay, mounted no immediate pursuit, and it was not
until April and May that Fil-American forces launched even minor attacks against the Japanese
concentrations. The guerrillas and the 2d Battalion, 160th Infantry, which assumed garrison duties on
Panay on 25 March, never closed with Totsuka's main body, and at the end of the war Totsuka came
down out of the mountains to surrender approximately 1,560 men, over half his original garrison. U.S.
Army casualties on Panay to late June, when control passed to Colonel Peralta, numbered about 20 men
killed and 50 wounded.

Operations to clear Guimaras Island began as soon as the 185th Infantry secured Iloilo, and on 20 March
40th Division patrols found no signs of Japanese on the island. Next, men of the 185th took tiny
Inampulugan Island, off the southeastern tip of Guimaras. The Japanese on Inampulugan, who manned a
control station for electric mines in Guimaras Strait, fled without offering resistance when the Americans
landed.

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