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    Del Monte Airfield Bukidnon Province | Mindanao Philippines
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USAAF 1942
Location
Del Monte Airfield was located in a meadow on the Del Monte Corporation plantation near Del Monte in Bukidnon Province in central Mindanao in the Philippines. Also known as "Del Monte Field". Conceived as a secret American airfield, that would allow bombers and fighters to operated outside the range of enemy aircraft and would also be able to evacuate southward to Darwin in the Northern Territory of Australia.

Construction
On November 9, 1941 the US Army began construction in a meadow owned by the Del Monte Pineapple Corporation. Three runways were built at Del Monte, plus additional auxiliary airfields at Malaybalay Airfield (Maramag), Dalirig Airfield and Valencia Airfield.

Wartime History
Although sparse in equipment and facilities based the 19th Bombardment Group and 7th Bombardment Group as they evacuated Clark Field, and later as a staging point for their evacuation to Batchelor Field near Darwin.

On December 18, 1941 a Japanese reconnaissance plane located this airfield. Realizing Del Monte Airfield had been located, the rest of the day was spent camouflaging aircraft with palm fronds.

On December 19, 1941 at 4:00pm Japanese aircraft attacked, including A6M2 Zeros that strafed claiming two B-17s and three B-18s destroyed. At the airfield was six B-17 Flying Fortress bombers and four B-18 Bolo bombers that had just arrived from Clark Field. Destroyed on the ground was B-17D 40-3093, Tash's bomber, which was already disabled previously. That evening from 10:00pm until December 20, 1942 at 1:00am, the remaining B-17s departed for Darwin, evacuating the last remaining bombers and personnel.

On December 20, 1942 Del Monte Airfield was bombed by fifty-four Japanese bombers.

Evacuations of MacArthur, Quezon and Senior Staff
Although the B-17s had withdrawn from Del Monte Airfield, it was used as a staging base for bombing missions and evacuations of personnel and senior staff. After U. S. President F. D. Roosevelt ordered General MacArthur, his family and senior staff evacuated by PT Boats from Corregidor to Mindanao.

On March 16, 1942 three B-17s from Australia flew to Del Monte: B-17E 41-2408, B-17E 41-2429 and B-17E 41-2447. A fourth B-17E 41-2434 was unable to start its engines and did not participate. General MacArthur, his family and senior staff were flown from Del Monte Airfield to Batchelor Field near Darwin in Australia.

On March 23, 1942 Philippines President Manuel L. Quezon, his family and senior staff arrived at Del Monte to await evacuation by B-17s. While waiting, Quezon stayed at nipa house near the airfield. On March 26, 1942 three B-17s from Australia flew to Del Monte to evacuate Philippines President Manuel L. Quezon and his family plus his aide General Valdes, Vice-President Osmena, Dr. Trepp and other personnel and departed by 1:20pm.

Royce Mission
During April 12-13, 1942 a group of seven B-25s and three B-17s from Australia were flown to Del Monte to participate in the Royce Mission, to attack Japanese forces in the Philippines. The bombers flew the sorties without loss and before departing evacuated key military and diplomatic personnel that managed to reach Del Monte in hopes of evacuation.

Royce Mission #1: April 12, 1942
B-2s hit the harbor and shipping at Cebu, while B-17's carry out single-bomber strikes against Cebu Harbor and Nichols Field.

Royce Mission #2: April 13, 1942 (Morning)
During the night of April 12-13, B-25s take off just after midnight on a mission to bomb shipping off Cebu and installations at Davao.

Royce Mission #3: April 13, 1942 (Afternoon)
In the afternoon, B-25s again bomb Davao, targeting the dock area.

During the middle of 1942, occupied by the Japanese during their occupation of the Philippines. Starting in November 1944, Del Monte Airfield was within range of American aircraft and was bombed.

American missions against Del Monte Airfield
November 1, 1944–January 13, 1945

During June 1945 liberated by the U. S. Army. During late June 1945 again used by American aircraft.

American units based at Del Monte
13th AF, 25th Liaison Squadron (UC-78, L-5) Malabang June 22, 1945

References
Doomed From The Start by William Bartsch
Fortress Against The Sun page 79-80
The Good Fight by Manuel L. Quezon pages 284, 289
The Army Air Forces in World War II Chapter 11: The Defense of Australia pages 404, 406, 407, 418, 426
U. S. Army in World War II - The Fall of the Philippines Chapter V: The First Days of War pages 88, 89, 96, 97
U. S. Army in World War II - The Fall of the Philippines Chapter XXVIII: The Southern Islands pages 501, 508, 516
U. S. Army in World War II - Appendix G Japanese Order of Battle in Eastern Mindanao
The Fall of the Philippines (1993) by Louis Morton pages 43, 88 [PDF]

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Last Updated
April 7, 2020

 

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