History Friday — MacArthur’s 7th Fleet Guerilla Support Group

When I started writing my “History Friday” columns, one of my objectives was to explore the “military historical narratives” around General Douglas MacArthur, so I could write with a better understanding about the “cancelled by atomic bomb” November 1945 invasion of Japan. One of the least explored aspects of MacArthur’s fighting style was his highly flexible approach to logistics, which he described as “We are doing what we can with what we have.” Logistics being the ability to transport and supply military forces. In describing MacArthur’s flexibility, and poor documentation of same, I wrote previously:

One of the maddening things about researching General Douglas MacArthur’s fighting style in WW2 was the way he created, used and discarded military institutions, both logistical and intelligence, in the course of his South West Pacific Area (SWPA) operations. Institutions that had little wartime publicity and have no direct organizational descendent to tell their stories in the modern American military.”

The importance of logistics is the reason for the adage, “Amateurs talk tactics while professionals talk logistics.”

Today’s column is the story of another of those many “throw away” logistical institutions. The Philippines was a naval theater. The “standard historical narrative” has a gap between submarines on one hand and aircraft on the other. Both of those made the history books, neither could move as much material as the Filipino guerilla’s used in support of MacArthur’s Forces in the Philippines. It stands to reason 7th Fleet Amphibious Craft and Ships would support the Filipino Guerilla’s there. So I went to the war diaries of the extinct littoral amphibious ships in “MacArthur’s Navy” on the Fold3 government document digitization service to find their work, and sure enough the following popped up.

Landing Craft Infantry, Large, 701.  One of the four small landing ships to make up TASK GROUP 70.4 in February 1945
Landing Craft Infantry, Large, 701. One of the four small landing ships to make up TASK GROUP 70.4, the 7th Fleet’s Guerilla Support Group, in February 1945.

The Seventh Fleet established Task Group 70.4 as a “guerilla support group” to support Filipino guerilla’s in the Southern Philippines in February 1945. This was effectively a detachment of LCI(L) Flotilla 24. TG 70.4 was made up of two Landing Craft Infantry (Large) or “LCI(L)” for transport (701 and 1024) and two Landing Craft Support (Large)(Mark 3) or “LCS(L)(3)” (No. 9 & 10) for fire support.

The TG 70.4 made one trip to supply initially “General” and later confirmed by MacArthur as “Colonel” Wendell Fertig’s guerillas on Mindanao with 150 tons of supplies (75 tons per LCI(L) per lift) and another 150 tons to Palawan Special Battalion of the Sixth Military District, headed by Major Pablo Muyco.

Both Filipino guerilla organizations helped the American 8th Army liberate their respective islands with the weapons and supplies Task Group 70.4 brought to them in it’s mayfly-like existence.

After this brief two trip existence, the task group dissolved and faded into history…until now.

Sources & Notes:


5 Mar 1945 War Diary 7th Fleet

Com LCI(L) Flot 24 War Diary 2/1-thru-28/1945

NavSource Online: Amphibious Photo Archive

USS LCS(L)(3)-9
USS LCS(L)(3)-10

8 thoughts on “History Friday — MacArthur’s 7th Fleet Guerilla Support Group”

  1. I don’t think the people of this country truly understand the constraints put on Pacific Fleet operations during the war. It’s a miracle that anything got done. I assume that we were given, or confiscated, many ships and boats throughout the region. These craft were all given different names and numbers that switched according to command structure. Good luck and good hunting.
    It has been suggested that Normandy would have worked quite well without the Mulberry harbors, especially if the resources to build such things were converted to LST’s and other landing craft. Monday morning quarterback stuff.

  2. Ronald F,

    It’s worse than you think.

    LCI(L)-1024 was converted to LCI(R)-1024 a couple of weeks after TG 70.4 was dissolved, on 15 March 1945.

    It had six 5-inch rocket launchers, a 40mm gun tub and a brace of NDRC radar jammers added to cover the Okinawa landings that started 29 March 1945.

  3. All that plus eighty guys, ammo, fuel and paint on a 158′ boat in pre-air conditioned days. In the Philippines. And constantly at GQ.

  4. ““Amateurs talk tactics while professionals talk logistics.”

    I am reading Tom Ricks book Generals and, while I think he has gone overboard on his hatred of Bush, much is worthwhile. One is his adage, “Amateurs talk strategy, others talk logistics and real professional talk personnel.”

    I think that may well be true.

  5. Mike K,

    There is much truth in Don Vandergriff and Tom Ricks idea of Personnel’s growing importance in the military over logistics.

    Much of the hard part of WW2 logistics staff work is now automated.

    Things like ship and aircraft center of gravity when combat loaded are all now in optimizing software loaded on C-17 and naval ship computers or associated lap top computers.

    Commercial priority air transport and the ISO container box in sea lift means much of the world economy is doing much of what the US military did in WW2. Both of which are used extensively in Iraq and Afghanistan today.

    The real difference between Western and 3rd World militaries are logistics and corruption.

    The Corruption-based collapse of the Iraqi National Army in 2013 was very much a matter of personnel.

  6. From one of the links:

    “denial of a junior officer retention problem to a situation where the most senior Army leadership became involved in seeking help to staunch the flow of captains out of the Army. ”

    I examine applicants for all branches, including some officers. We have been briefed that the military, especially the Army, is dismissing many mid-level officers and replacing them with new enlistees. It is happening now and some are even deployed when they get their pink slips. From reading a few pieces around, some of these officers are being dropped for minor offenses having nothing to do with their job OERs.

  7. I’m reading further into the links and came across this:

    “Bob McDonald, the new CEO of Procter & Gamble, to name a few. The business guru Warren Bennis reflected in his recent memoirs, “I never heard anything at MIT or Harvard that topped the best lectures I heard at [Fort] Benning.”

    This is about outstanding former Army officers in private business.

    And I remembered this story.

    “A fib by Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald about serving in the Special Forces shows just how big the problem military men and women call “stolen valor” is, according to a South Carolina man who has made it his mission to root out people who exaggerate or even fabricate their service.”

    It’s amazing how a small slip can destroy a career and one that this guy obviously doesn’t need.

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