by Jack McKillop
Cebu Island (10º25'N, 123º48'E) is a 1,765-square-mile (4,468-square-kilometer) finger-like island west of Leyte Island. The island, which is 155-miles (250-kilometers) north to south and 28-miles (45-kilometers) at its widest point, lies between Panay Island to the west and Leyte Island to the east. The island has a rugged, mountainous spine with only six passes with the highest peak being 3,599-feet (1,097-meters). The northern end of the island is relatively flat.
History during World War II
The Japanese landed at Cebu City on 10 April 1942 and declared the island secured nine days later. The U.S. Army landed south of Cebu City on 26 March 1945. Fighting continued until June by which time the Japanese troops were harassed by Filipino guerillas.
Cebu, Naval Section Base
A naval section base is a shore base under the overall command of a Naval District Commandant, as distinguished from a "Naval Base" or "Naval Operating Base" which are under the command of a Fleet Commander. Naval Section Base Cebu, was established in Cebu City (10º19'00"N, 123º53'07"E) on the central east coast of the island, overlooking the small island of Mactan. It provided facilities for a small port director unit, a visual station, a radio station, a small boat pool, a small motor pool, a fleet post office, a dispensary, and a tent camp for 250 men. The harbor afforded good anchorage, but the excellent deepwater piers at Cebu City had been badly damaged by military operations.
Mactan Island, Naval Air Base
NAB Mactan was located on Mactan Island (10º17'31"N, 123º58'19"E), a small island with an area of about 25-square-miles (65-square-kilometers), located about 1,300-feet (396-meters) across the channel from Cebu City on Cebu Island. It is flat, except for a 100-foot (30-meter) hill at the northern end, and is surrounded by coral reefs except for a 4-mile (6.4-kilometer) stretch facing Cebu, which accommodates one cargo ship. The island was selected for a dual mission, to support both landplanes and seaplanes. Four runways were begun, but the Japanese surrendered before their completion.
Facilities were temporarily erected to provide overhaul, repairs, and maintenance service for all types of planes. Many of the personnel and shops were housed in tents, which were being replaced by Quonset huts as fast as time and materials permitted, when the end of hostilities caused the work at the base to be stopped. Today, Mactan-Cebu International Airport is located on the island.