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Numismatics and History by JAA USA/Philippines Collection

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Historians and archeologists have long regarded coins as important historical artifacts for understanding the culture and history of ancient peoples. That is why all world class museums include ancient coins in their collections. Modern coins and notes also reflect the historical and cultural context of their times.


In order to fully appreciate the coins and notes in our collections it is important to understand the historical context in which they were created. While most numismatic reference books provide some historical context space limitations necessitate that the historical information in these publications is often highly condensed. It is impossible for these condensed summaries to fully convey the often complex historical context surrounding historically important coins and notes. In order to do so it is necessary to go beyond the basic numismatic reference material and study original source documents.


Original source documents provide a much richer and more detailed understanding of historical context and really bring to life the importance of historically important numismatic specimens.


My area of numismatic specialization is the coins and notes of the Philippines while they were under United States sovereignty. This is a particularly interesting and important period in United States and Philippine history. Fortunately America's experience as a "Colonial Power" and "Nation Builder" in the Philippines is well documented and many original source documents are available in the "National Archives", and museums in the United States and the Philippines.


Over the years I have acquired a respectable private library of original source documents. My library includes out of print books written by the government officials, generals, and Guerilla leaders that played pivotal roles in the history of the Philippines under United States Sovereignty as well as official histories written by the "Center of Military History United States Army", and "The Historical Section of the Philippine Army". I also have certified copies of many original documents from the National Archives and the MacArthur Library. The documents from the National Archives and MacArthur Library are particularly fascinating to me as these once "Secret" but now declassified documents paint a very vivid picture of one of the most important periods in our nation's history. I am also privileged to own some of the original research notes and personal correspondence of the noted numismatic researcher and historian C.M. Nielsen.


Today's Journal is the first of a series that I will be posting on Numismatics and History. In this series I will be highlighting some of the books, documents, research and private correspondence in my private collection. Hopefully I will also be able to share my enthusiasm for studying the historical context of our numismatic specimens.


Today's offering is a certified copy of a declassified "Secret" U. S. Army document from the MacArthur Library. The document, which was not declassified until 1975, is the official transcript of a secret radio communication (dated January 16, 1943) from General MacArthur to LTC Marcario Peralta the Guerrilla commander in the central Philippines.


Peralta was one of the most dynamic military leaders of the Philippine Resistance. He was born in Manila in 1913. In 1936 he graduated from the University of the Philippines with a law degree and a reserve commission in the Philippine Army. He was later commissioned in the regular forces and by the eve of World War II had risen to the rank of brevet Lieutenant Colonel.


When the Japanese invaded the Philippines Peralta was the Assistant Chief of Staff for Operations and Training (G3) of the 61th Division Philippine Army which garrisoned the island of Panay in the central Philippines. As Division G3 Peralta oversaw the establishment and operation of a Guerrilla Training school to prepare the reservists of the 61th Division to carry on the fight in the event that the main U.S. and Philippine forces on the island of Luzon were overwhelmed. He was also responsible for the stockpiling of supplies and munitions in the mountainous interior of Panay.


When Corregidor was overrun by the Japanese and Lieutenant General Jonathon Wainwright order all USAFFE (United States Army Forces Far East) forces in the Philippines to surrender Peralta refused to accept the order and told his Division commander, General Christie, that he would rather face court-martial after the war than surrender to the enemy.


Christie sympathized with Peralta's position and sent several passionate communications to Major General Sharp the USAFFE commander in the central and southern Philippines requesting that the 61th Division be detached from Sharps command and be allowed to fight on. Sharp flatly refused and ordered Christie to surrender. In fairness to Wainright and Sharp they had little choice since the Japanese were holding the American and Philippine garrison of Corregidor hostage and were threatening to execute one hundred prisoners a day until all American and Philippine forces in the Philippines surrendered.


On May 21, 1942 Christie reluctantly ordered the 61th Division to surrender. At the last division staff meeting before surrender Peralta convinced Christie to turn over the division funds, consisting of sixty thousand pesos in Philippine currency, so that he could organize Guerrilla forces on Panay. Five thousand officers and soldiers of the 61th Division followed Peralta's example and refused to surrender.


After the formal USAFFE surrender Peralta reorganized the 61th Division on Panay. After the 61th Division was fully operational Peralta extended his influence to other islands in the central Philippines and established the IV Philippine Corps. Peralta was the first Guerrilla commander to establish radio communication with MacArthur's Headquarters in Australia. By the end of the war Peralta commanded one of the largest and most effective Guerrilla commands in the Philippines. When American forces returned to the Philippines they found Peralta's Guerillas waiting for them on the beaches ready to join in the liberation of Panay.


For his actions during War War II Peralta was awarded two of the U.S. Army's highest awards for valor the Silver Star and the Distinguished Service Cross. After the war Peralta went on to a distinguished career in the Philippine Army retiring as Deputy Chief of Staff of the Philippine Army. After retiring from the army Peralta was elected to the Philippine Senate. He also served as the 13th Secretary of National Defense for the Republic of the Philippines.


At the time of the radio communication of 1/16/1943 Peralta commanded the IV Philippine Corps which consisted of the 61st Division on the island of Panay, the 72nd Division on the island of Negros and the 83rd Division on Cebu. Please note the last line of the communication where General MacArthur authorized Peralta to "issue reasonable amounts of -script for military purposes". This authorization served as the basis for the establishment of the Free Negros Military Currency Committee and their issuance of 1943 Military -script.


The Military -script of 1943 consisted of "Army of the United States of America" notes in Two Pesos (S711 and S711a), Five Pesos (S712), Ten Pesos (S713), and Twenty Pesos (S714) denominations issued under the authority of the IV Philippine Corps and a second issue of One Peso (S715) and Twenty Peso (S716) notes issued later in the year under the authority of the 7th Military District.



See more journals by JAA USA/Philippines Collection

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