Leaving Balangiga an hour ahead of the other boats, Markley and Swanson paddled for Basey with orders to reach Basey and alert the garrison their to the situation.

But during the afternoon the weather worsened, and the water got rougher.  Their boat filled and they landed, but it filled a second time so they abandoned it, taking their paddles, and started out along the shore.   After five or six miles they found another baloto, but the outriggers were damaged.  Markley sent Swanson to get a native whose path they had crossed earlier to fix it, and to accompany them paddling.  Swanson persuaded the man to help, but as they were returning to Markley the man grabbed Swanson’s rifle and tried to wrench it away.  In the struggle that ensued, Swanson saw the eyes of his opponent dart to his waist, an dhe was reminded of the knife that he had picked up from the plaza.  He seized it and struck the Samareno with it as hard as he could.  His opponent let go of the Krag and started to run.

Swanson shot him.

At that point, fearing the gunshot would bring more Samarenos, they decided to push off in the baloto the way it was, without fixing the outrigger.  With nothing to eat or drink they paddled along as well as they could all day and all night, losing their way in the darkness.

After Swanson shot the Samareno he’d been attempting to press into service to repair the damaged baloto, he yelled for Markley, who came up. They discussed the situation and decided to push off in the damaged baloto, rather than wait to repair it. The gunshot by Swanson would likely bring more natives, and they were ill equipped to survive any kind of concerted onslaught.

With nothing to eat or drink they paddled along as well as they could all day and all night, losing their way in the darkness.

Finally at 5AM on the morning of September 29th they landed on the island of Leyte, and four hours later at 9: 00AM  o’clock they reached the detachment at Tanau-an.


The previous afternoon, Bertholf had transferred as many men as could be accomodated from his boat to Betron’s, then had watched as Betron sailed on, promising to send help as soon as possible.   Remaining with Bertholf in the boat were Francisco, Marak, and the badly wounded Armani and Buhrer.

Likewise, the previous afternoon  Wingo had cut his boat free from Betron, who was towing it, fearing it would swamp and capsize in the rough seas.  Aboard were Wingo, Driscoll, and the badly wounded Powers.

Wingo was last seen foundering in heavy seas in the afternoon.  Neither he nor Driscoll would ever be found or heard from again.   

Meanwhile, Bertholf’s boat was almost completely submerged, held up only by outriggers, and was impossible to steer or paddle.  Under the exposed glare of the tropical sun, the men were helpless as the boat drifted gradually shoreward.

Marak struggled with a wounded arm; of greater concern was Buhrer’s head wound, which had pushed his eye out of its socket where it hung grotesquely, dangling from tendons.  Litto Armani was in even worse shape, his abdomen sliced open and filled with stinging seawater.

Bertholf would later write: “Words cannot express our condition of mind with that tropical sun burning down on top of our heads, no water to drink, and the salt water causing excruciating agony as it soaked into our wounds.”

Marak wrote: “…we thought we were going to our own funeral to lay in a very wet grave”

Thinking that they might benefit by ligthening the load of the boat, rifles and ammunition were dumped overboard.  The Americans were ready to jettison all the weapons, but Francisco preserved one rifle and two belts.

After that, they drifted into delirium.  Marak:  “I don’t think any of us can tell all that happened that afternoon.”

The boat seemed to hardly be moving but as sundown approached Bertholf revived and realized they were near a rocky beach.  Yet it took an additional six hours before they finally grounded on a coral reef four hundred yards offshore around midnight.

Bertoff: “(We were) so weak we could hardly get out of the boat.” Francisco and Bertholf hauled the boat a short way up on the coral, then  dragged Armani and Buhrer ashore.

Everyone was desperately thirsty.

Half-conscious, Armani and Buhrer continuously called for water.

Once again Francisco came to their aid.

In the darkness he climbed a coconut tree and cut down a half dozen fresh coconuts.  The water was a godsend and slaked the parched throats, reviving all the men.

It was well after midnight.  Bertholf was in charge and, moreover, was in better shape than the others.  He decided to let Marak, Buhrer and Armani sleep while he kept guard.  For much of the night he managed to stay awake, but eventually, in the final hours before dawn on the 29th, fatigue became impossible to keep at bay.  He tried walking around and splashing water on his face, but in the end he fell asleep.

After daylight Bertholf woke up.

He saw, too late, that their boat was drifting out to sea on the tide which had come in overnight.

It was a devastating discovery. 

Their only menas of escape was now gone.

Seeing what had happened and discouraged by their horrible wounds, Armani and Buhrer begged Bertholf to simply kill them to relieve them of their suffering.

Bertholf refused.

He spoke to them quietly, then left them decided to explore further along the beach.  Armani managed to walk, holding in his entrails that tried to escape from his wound, while  Bertholf carried the semi-conscious Buhrer for about a mile, after which they came to a large rock field which they climbed with great difficulty.

The two wounded soldiers refused to go further.

Bertholf positioned them hidden among the rocks, visible only from the sea.

Bertholf, Marak, and Francisco continued, sometimes walking and wading through the surf around the rocks, sometimes swimming, endeavoring throughout to keep their rifle and ammunition dry.   They made it a half mile further along the shoreline.

There, climbing over some rocks, Marak came upon the body of Powers, who had been in Wingo’s boat. He was stripped to his underwear,  and the back of his head split open. “We knew that his head had not been bandaged before getting into the boat, and had helped row so we knew he had been killed after landing.”

While Powell’s body was in evidence, there was no sign of his companions Wingo and Driscoll.

As the three were discussion what they had found, there were shouts and they turned to see  saw a band of Samarenos attacking Armani and Buhrer.

From a distance of eight hundred yards, Bertholf aimed the Krag and began firing into the melee.   “I raised my sight and emptied my magazine into them, but they took cover.”

Armani and Buhrer were, he realized, surely dead.

Meanwhile the Samarenos worked their way cautiously toward the Americans, who backed off, trying to take advantage of the cover offered by the trees and rocks.

As the Samarenos pressed forward, Bertholf, Marak, and Francisco fled up the beach:   “We ran, and must have gone four miles along the shore till we found an old barroto, in which we shoved off from the shore.”

Some four miles later, they spotted an outrigger with ‘a big husky native’, or an old man.

Bertholf shot the man:  “I did not stand on ceremony, but let drive, and taking possession of the boat, we shoved off.”

They took over the boat, but found that it had no paddles.  Using sticks, they poled awkwardly from shore.

Meanwhile, Bertholf’s gunshot had been heard.  When they were 200 yards from shore a band of angry Samarenos arrived beside the dead boatman. They leapt into the water and swam toward the slowly escaping boat.

Finally he Samarenos gave up their pursuit.

Hours passed.

Again, Bertholf and Marak found themselves drifing under the sweltering sun, with no provisions.  Marak’s wounded arm had swollen to twice its normal size and he was in agonizing pain. 

He begged Bertholf to shoot him and end his suffering, but as with Armini and Buhrer, Bertholf refused.

Agonizing hours passed.

Late in the morning,  a plume of smoke appeared on the horizon. 

It soon resolved resolved into the SS Pittsburgh, the coastal steamer carrying Bookmiller and 60 men, including 8 survivors from Company C.

A launch was dropped and picked up the three men.

Next Chapter