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Verbick, William M.
“The Diary of a Marine No. 4. Private William M. Verbick, Company “B” 2nd Regiment, United States Marines, Olangapo, P.I.” 1909-1910

Quarto, 100 pages, bound in original cloth, commercially manufactured note-book, binding worn, covers spotted and soiled, text block separated from binding, clippings pasted on endpapers, some light soiling and light damp-staining to several pages, otherwise the entries, written in ink, are in good legible condition. Verbick’s diary entries are occasionally interspersed with poetry, some written by fellow marines, some may be by himself.

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Manuscript diary, apparently one of a series, kept by William M. Verbick, a thirty-one year-old marine, stationed in Olongapo, located on Subic Bay, in the Philippines. Verbick’s diary recounts the daily events in the life of a United States Marine in the Philippines,  from the mundane, incidents and events of life on the post, camp social life and activities, tasks, discipline, and duties, to the increased tensions caused by fears of insurrection, inspired in part by covert Japanese activities in and around Olongapo. Virbeck describes a series of deliberately set fires that burned down most of Olongapo, set by “insurrectos” in an attempt to stir up animosity towards the U.S. forces. Virbeck also describes a massive maneuver involving the combined forces of Army, Navy and Marines, divided into two opposing armies, who were to attempt to attack, and take, while defending Olongapo, the goal being the seizure of Manila. These maneuvers were apparently based upon a series of Japanese plans seized on the islands, the purpose of this exercise was to determine whether the plan was feasible, and if so, determine measures to better defend Manila from future invasion.

 

Sample Quotes:

 

     “Nov 20 1909 Finished my “No. 3” diary and will prepare it for mailing and mail it either today or tomorrow…”

 

      “Nov 21 … Sunday morning troop is over and we have nothing to do all day but eat, sleep and read and do as we please. There is no church here and no service in the Y.M.C.A. this morning or I would be going. … The climate, food, and the quinine and salts are responsible for the bad condition of teeth in this country, while the lack of dentists and the utter insufficiency of what we have gives us no means of aid or relief. At this post there is only one very incapable dentist… to look after the teeth of nearly two thousand marines, sailors, officers and civilians, while in town there is one native dentist, whose charges are enormous for his inferior work. … Our company is playing ball with E of the 1st this morning and from the yells I hear it must be a good game so I guess I will “knock off” writing in my book and go out on the veranda and watch the game. Sunday is no different than any other day in the service, except that there are no formations to speak of except troop and guard mount and we have early liberty call and as little work as possible, it is called a day of rest but takes on the character more of a day play… There is a big inauguration parade in Manila Wednesday. Four companies of marines from here are going to take part and will have early Tuesday morning. We are on guard so will not be one of the lucky (?) companies.”

 

       “Nov 24 … All of the first regiment and company A of the second regiment went to Manila yesterday morning with the band to take part in the inauguration parade held there to-day and in consequence our company had to mount guard at five in the morning to relieve a first regiment company so they could get ready to go and leave, we had to stand thirty hours instead of twenty-four or ten hours per man instead of the usual eight, and no extra pay for our time as Uncle Sam won’t stand for a union other than his own. I caught No 1 post on the 3rd relief. This post is over the prisoners (twenty-four of them) in the brig and compels you to keep your eyes open and constantly on the alert and to be rough and harsh, if you would keep yourself out of trouble. With five company’s away, there are only three left to duty here, one on guard, one doing police work and one, ourselves, who have just come off guard and who will be police company to-morrow. … It will not be long now before Christmas, my third away from home, one I spent in Trinidad, and the other two will be here in Olangapo … “

 

      “Nov 26 … This is the first day that the ships of the Bamboo fleet or the Big Eight have granted liberty and they were ashore to witness the sports by the thousands, each ship sending from three to four whale boats full, until there are nearly ten thousand soldiers, sailors and marines and natives and civilians on the parade. … We start at six in the morning, in tight marching order, for a day “hike” over the Rocky trail to the second plateau so its early to bed for me.”

 

      “November 28, 1909 … It is just one year ago to-day that I left the old Connecticut at Manila Bay and came ashore at Cavite for duty in the Islands and a year from now I will still be here if I can have my way. Monday we are police company again… Cavite is to be abandoned as the principal naval base in the Pacific and Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, will have the honor instead. The Pacific Fleet will leave here for her return trip on December 10th and about forty men from here will go aboard the ships to fill the vacancies. Olangapo is to be made the secondary base in the Pacific and while no further improvements will be made those under way will be completed and the whole kept under good repair. …”

 

      “December 1, 1909 Well, I got “stuck” for a guard after all. It is always the luck that when our company goes on guard, they stick on a new post so that the supernumeraries have to go on. … We have “School” every morning now on “target-practice” and how to use the rifle. We go on the range at Maquinaya the 17th of next month for two weeks where I hope to, at least, make “marksman”. …”

 

      “December 4, 1909 … Yesterday we left at six a.m. with hardtack and bacon for rations and took a thirty mile hike, getting home at seven o’clock. It was the meanest, nastiest, dirtiest hike we have had yet. On the way out we lost the trail and had to ford four rivers … two of which were not fordable We went through swamps and caraboo wallows for miles at a time with mud up to our knees and everyone was wet to the waist. Seven men went completely “down and out” and everyone was pretty near played out when we got home…”

 

      “December 8, 1909 … Our last “hike” was a fine one, it was over the telegraph trail to the reservation boundary. The trail was fine, and the day perfect and the scenery beautiful and we covered the twenty-eight miles in fine shape … The big fleet has left here and gone to Cavite and will leave there for home. … Today is pay-day, the day when we draw our money, pay our bills and spend the rest. Next Monday and Tuesday I understand, we go on a two day hike in heavy marching order. …”

     “December 12, 1909 … the whole second regiment is going on a one day hike with skirmish lies etc. and a sham battle is to take place…”

 

      “December 15, 1909 … Yesterday we hiked to Maquinaya where we worked all day building an artillery bridge, we didn’t finish it and came home after dark. It is bad enough going over the trails in the day time but at night it is fierce, this and the hard work of the day had me completely tired out … [Account of disciplinary problems] Truly, it seems as if the very devil had got in to this company in the last few days…”

 

      “December 17, 1909 Have just come off guard. Was on the regular guard as messenger of the guard. We arrested two men at the gate for being drunk and having liquor in possession. Carvill was locked up again this morning for being drunk in quarters and creating a disturbance after taps…”

 

      “December 18, 1909 … The man whom we “pinched” on the gate night before last, got a G.C.M. and I am a witness against him, much against my will… The torpedo fleet came in last night and began target practice today… This morning we had two pictures of the entire company taken at troop by a civilian photographer who is going to use them to illustrate a book he is going to publish…”

 

       December 23, 1909 On Monday, December 20th at 6 a.m., our company, in heavy marching order, started on their three day hike to Magaya. We crossed the bay in a launch to the magazine and from there went through the muck and mud of the Botar river for a mile or so, finally crossing the river near a small “barrio”, from there on the trip was fairly dry and easy, although we had to wade two or three streams and cross several hard hills.

       … We resumed our march after dinner and after losing the trail several times, we came to a good spot for a camp, so pitched our tents, put out sentrys, built a big fire and had supper. … After an uneventful night, we awoke at 6 a.m. …and continued on our way to our destination and our base of supplies. After a wet trip around the bay at high tide we finally reached Mabaya at ten o’clock and found our supplies …”

 

      “December 24, 1909 … I made out my first morning report at the office this morning and am slowly getting on to my clerical duties. …”

 

       “December 25, 1909 Christmas! … The military and athletic events began at eight o’clock… Every cent that the men could beg, borrow or steal was wagered by our company on Grant. It was as pretty a fight as I ever saw. Over six thousand pesos changed hands. Almost everyone of the companys have had burlesque parades in all kinds of odd costumes celebrating some event or other… There has been quite a number of drunks and a few fights but orders are to lock no one up unless absolutely necessary as the men are given great licence on Christmas day. There is one deplorable incident that has somewhat spoiled our day and that was the attack on Private Johnnie Hughes by Cpl. Gilbert. The latter mauling him over the head with a rifle… Gilbert was locked up, he would have been lynched if he hadn’t been and in the general excitement several other scraps started between our company and D 2nd and a regular free for all our two companys followed, making it necessary to sound riot call and get out the guard, no arrests were made, except Gilbert… After the riot both companies were put under arrest in quarters…”

 

       “December 30, ’09 This is “Rizal Day” and a great event among the natives, who have parades, speeches and all kinds of sports. It is a civil holiday of two days duration. Rizal, was a Philipino and was a leader for independence and was killed in his efforts to better his fellow countrymen. He is the native Washington and there is hardly a shack in the islands which does not contain his photo. Three bands, numerous gaudy banners, strutting native men and boys in clean white clothes, fair (?) dusky maidens decorated with garlands and flowers and allegorical floats made up the procession here. Fiery speeches will be made to-night, maidens will sing and dance and “vino” will flow freely, all in honor of the great departed Rizal. …”

 

      “December 31, 1909 … Everything is being put in readiness for the abandonment of Cavite, which must be done within the next three months. All the business will be moved to Olangapo and where our quarters are now, will be built machinery buildings etc., and the town is to be pulled down and the marines are to be quartered at Star Point on the bank of the river. The three companies at Cavite are to come here and go in camp and help mount big guns on Star Point. There are hundreds of changes to be made here and there will be lots of work. In two years it will be a different place entirely. This is the result of the Governments scheme to make Pearl Harbor, Hawaii its principal Pacific Naval Base and Olangapo, a secondary base. About fifteen hundred marines will be stationed here…”

 

       “January 9, 1909 (i.e. 1910) Sunday morning and I have just came back from the office having finished the necessary work for the day. Yesterday the General Court Martial case on which I was a witness, was finished up and I will not have to be hanging around for that any more…”

 

      “January 14, 1910 John Hughes is being tried to-day by a G.C.M. for an assault of Cpl. Gilbert. Most of the men came and quite a number of the men are witnesses. Am going to a lecture to-night at the Post Theater by an ex-British Officer on “Humorous Sketches of Camp Life During the Boer War”, illustrated by a stereopticon. Bought a new Spanish-English dictionary to-day… The Olangapo baseball league opens to-morrow when the Marines play Grande at Grande and the Monteray plays the Mohican at Olangapo… There will be two games every Saturday and Sunday until March…”

 

      “January 16, 1910 Have just got settled in my new quarters in the Staff and Band and my first meal will be supper. … Our room faces the parade & base ball diamond & is on the ground floor with the band stand only about forty feet away…”

 

      “January 23, 1910 … Col. Pendleton takes command of the Post Monday and also the first regiment Major Treadwell will continue in command of the second regiment and we will probably have to move our offices. The change will make a good deal less work for our office as the Band will be transferred to the first regiment and I will not have the pay and muster rolls of that organization to look after…”

 

       “January 30, 1909 … Yesterday, shortly after the ball game between the Marines and the Mohican had started, the town of Olongapo was discovered to be on fire. Fire call was sounded and consequently the ball game was called “off”. The thatched huts of the town made fine fuel for the fire and for a time it looked as if the whole town must go as well as some of the barracks, but by tearing down some of the huts and the active work of the bucket brigade of Marines and blue-jackets, the fire was finally checked after having destroyed about one quarter of the town. …”

 

       “February 2, 1910 … The U.S.S. Cleveland arrived in the Bay last evening flying the Admiral’s pennant in consequence, assembly was sounded and the band and companies turned out to render the Admiral his “honors”. The Carnival Parade has caused lots of work in the office in sending out different orders in relation to uniform, equipment, details etc., of the marines from this post who are to take part and we have been working the limit every day… Sing in a male quartet this evening in an entertainment given for the benefit of the Americans who lost in the recent fire here which destroyed nearly a third of the town.”

 

       “February 15, 1910 The Army manouvers begin to-morrow and last for ten days. They all take place in and around Olongapo. Ten thousand men will take part, divided into two armies, the red and the blue. The blue army, the army of defense is already in the hills surrounding Olangapo and the red or offensive army will try to land from transports to-morrow. Every thing is under war conditions. The object is to capture Olongapo, which is the key note to Manila and the island of Luzon, from a plan of attack taken from the Japanese. The marines will assist in defending the navy yard and to prevent landing parties. The air will soon be filled with the smell of powder and the noise of sham battles. Besides the training this gives the men and officers … as was also the great show of force in the parade at Manila, to overawe the natives, as an outbreak backed up and assisted by the Japanese is imminent and will doubtless occur within the year. The natives has been very restless for some moths past, especially around Manila and Benquio (in the latter place the Japanese have been coming in by the hundreds) We have letters now in the office from officials in regard to the pending outbreak and everything that is possible is being done at the head of things and crush it before anything serious can happen. Guards have been doubled in all the ports and men are not allowed to leave the reservations.”

 

       “February 16, 1910 Company “B” first regiment with a lot of my friends, among them most of my old Connecticut comrades, went to Cavite yesterday for a four months tour of duty and Company “C” first arrived here from Cavite to-day. …”

 

       February 19, 1910 Ten transports carrying the red army and horses, mules, supplies etc. entered Subic bay day before yesterday but were penalized thirty hours. Last night five more transports arrived and about six o’clock the army of five thousand men began to disembark, they were at it all night long and are still at it this morning. As soon as they were landed and got into formation they were pushed forward into the hills. The cavalry and artillery are just landing now and there are still several regiments of infantry to land. It will not be long before the first battle of the war will be fought and the campaign against Manila will be in earnest.  Landing an army causes as much interest as unloading a circus and many marines and civilians were up the better part of the night watching the process. It is, indeed, very interesting especially the landing of the horses and mules, who are made to swim ashore. There are now about ten thousand soldiers around Olangapo …”

 

      “February 20, 1910 Olangapo is in the hands of the Red Army Six thousand men with horses and mules and batteries are camped all over the parade and in and around Olangapo. They will stay here until Monday when the main body will push on into the hills to look for the Blue Army, leaving a guard behind and using Olangapo for a base. Last night a squadron of the blue army’s cavalry made a sortie from the hills on the red army’s cavalry camp in the Santa Rita valley and after capturing a number of men and horses retreated again into the hills. All the available ground around the barracks and in the Navy Yard is occupied for camps and each camp has its own guards so that is almost impossible to go anywhere after dark without being challenged. …”

 

      “February 24, 1910 We celebrated Washington’s Birthday in the usual military holiday style, with the added feature of another fire in the town which wiped out all that was left from the other fire with the exception of two or three buildings occupied by Americans close to the barracks. The natives were wild and half crazy with fear, claiming that the Americans set it afire. Two companies had to be sent out in town on guard to prevent trouble and to force the natives to help put out the fire and remove the debris. There is no doubt but that both fires were of incendiary origin but whether of Japanese origin to stir up trouble or by some native, no one can tell. … The army has all left here merely using this place for a base of supplies and for prisoners. Last night Platt and I went down to the Y.M.C.A. and heard an address by Bishop Oldham. The fear of an insurrection is steadily growing and no men are being sent home, as heretofore, when they have thirty months sea and foreign service, but are being kept here. Two hundred more men are coming on the next transport so that we will have eleven hundred men here, the most this post has ever had. There is liable to be something “doing” in the near future.”

 

      “February 26, 1910 The War is over and the red army has won, and they are now returning to Olangapo, where they will embark on transports to-morrow and return to their posts. The pay rolls are finished and will be signed to-morrow and the rest of the monthly reports will be done in a few days.”

 

      “March 6, 1910 Yesterday at dinner we had our third fire, which finished up what the other two fires had left, leaving only two or three shacks standing. A native (an old insurrecto) was arrested for the crime. The whole reservation is under military law and every precaution is being taken. There is no doubt but what trouble is abroad. … The ships of the Bamboo Fleet are kept busy watching the coast to see that no arms or communications are landed from Japan. Lots of this stuff has already been found and confiscated by the government. Tents have been provided for the native who were burned out and sentries patrol all over with loaded rifles and extra rounds of ammunition and the machine guns are kept loaded and ready.”

 

      “March 9, 1910 … Another fire was started in Town yesterday but was put out before any damage was done, the hombre who started it was caught red handed, after getting away once he was caught in a barrio about to go to Bolang. The president of Bolang, about three miles from us, has been arrested for inciting an insurrection and a quantity of arms and ammunition were received. Military law now prevails throughout the province of Zambales. …”

 

      “April 4, 1910 … In the evening went up to the Post theater, after the band concert, to hear a lecture on Theosophy. A new order has just come out from Brigade Headquarters that all men must go home who have finished their tour of duty on the station, and no one will be allowed to stay out for discharge. The sergeant-major tells me that I will probably have to go home next month but even if I am allowed to stay two years on the station I will have to go home in December. This hits me so hard that it hurts, but I don’t suppose it can be helped.”

 

      “June 17, 1909 … On the 23d of last month I left for Maquinaya Rifle Range with the staff and Band for record practice. The day after we got there a typhoon struck us and lasted over a week so that finally I had to come back to Olangapo to get out my payrolls so that I had to go up with the casuals to fire and only got home yesterday. I made 1st Class Rifleman. During the time I was away the dry dock “Dewey” was sunk for some unknown reason and a provincial insurrection started in our province and is still underway, so that most of the marines are out in the hills hunting ladrones…”

 

      “June 21, 1910 … The trouble is still going on in the hills and detachments of Marines and constabulary are endeavoring to round up the trouble makers. They are having poor success in raising the dry dock and it looks as though she was going to be a total loss. …”

 

      “July 5, 1910 We celebrated Independence day with a lot of noise and the suspension of all routine. In the morning the only special event for the enlisted men took place, which was a masquerade brigade drill and parade. Over four hundred men took part and there were some fine costumes worn. … The officers and their wives and friends occupied the balcony of the Post Commanders office and seemed to enjoy the ceremonies as well as the men. … Special music was played by the band for the different movements of the drill and afterwards the band spent most of their time in serenading. In the evening there were fireworks in different parts of the town and garrison, a moving picture show at the Olangapo theater, a dance at the officer’s club …and smoker at the Red Men’s club which I attended. The ships were all dressed and a national salute of twenty-one guns was fired from the Monteray at noon. Twenty one new men arrived from the States …”

 

       “October 15, 1910 … The China scare was about the last thing we had and I wrote so much about that to Mother, that it fairly sickens me to think of writing any more here, but merely as a matter of record, let me say, that we, along with the army and navy got orders to prepare at once for a campaign in China, that everything was prepared that could be, and transports awaiting to take men and supplies aboard, but no further orders have come, either to “go forward” or “cease standing by”, so that in a sense, we are still awaiting the word. …”

 

      “Dec. 24 ’10 … On the morning of the 10th (Saturday) I left Olangapo on the “Gen Alava” with sixty-two other men. … and after an uneventful trip arrived at Cavite, where we found tents already put up for us… Thursday we were granted liberty and I visited all over Cavite for a final farewell. Monday I made out the muster-roll for the detachment, taking all day at it and Tuesday morning we packed all our baggage down to the Naval Ferry and departed for Manila … At noon the next day we left for Nagasaki, Japan… The next morning (22d) we left Nagasaki at 6 a.m. for our long trip to Honolulu. … “

 

       The diary ends on Christmas Day 1910.