PHILIPPINE REGIONAL SECTION
IN AUSTRALIA DURING WW2
Section C of the Allied Intelligence Bureau (AIB) initially comprised the following sub-sections:-
1. North-east Area - mainly Coast Watch Organisation later called Combined Field Intelligence Service
2. Philippines (the Philippines Regional Section was later established as a separate section)
3. Netherlands East Indies (the Netherlands Forces Intelligence Section, Division III later became a separate section)
Major-General Willoughby had always wanted AIB to be reorganised geographically. In late 1942 Colonel Roberts drafted a plan for the new arrangements for AIB. A regional system was finalised at a conference in March 1943 and was promulgated on 16 April 1943. AIB would look after activities in Sarawak, Portugese Timor, and British North Borneo, while Regional Sections would cover other areas (Philippines Regional Section and Netherlands East Indies Regional Section).
The Philippines Regional Section was initially commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Ind. It was then taken over by Lieutenant-Colonel Courtney A. Whitney.
In May 1944, Lt. Col. Mellnik, was in command of the Philippine Regional Section at General Douglas MacArthur's GHQ in Brisbane. Lt. Col. Mellnik was one of three escaped prisoners from Davao Penal Colony in Mindanao that U.S. Naval Commander Charles "Chick" Parsons, Jr, had brought smuggled out with him by submarine in July 1943.
“Chick” Parsons first came to Manila when he was five years old. When WW2 started, "Chick" Parsons and his family managed to return to the USA. "Chick" Parsons then volunteered to return to the Philippines on numerous secret submarine missions. His extensive knowledge of the Philippines and his network of local contacts enabled him to communicate effectively with the guerrilla units. After the war, he remained in the Philippines for the rest of his life.
On 29 April 2004, U.S. Embassy Chargé d’Affaires Joseph Mussomeli, officiated at a ceremony to name the ballroom of the United States Embassy in Manila after "Chick" Parsons. Three of "Chick" Parsons' sons, Jose, Patrick (and wife Toni), and Peter Parsons attended the ceremony.
"Chick" Parsons was initially working out of the Allied Intelligence Bureau (AIB), and the papers for his first mission aboard USS Tambor in February 1943 were signed by Merle Smith. "Chick" later worked out of the Philippine Regional Section, but his own inner group which he commanded was known as "SPYRON" and was a very independent bunch of characters. Parsons' Navy boss was Capt. Arthur McCollum. "Chick" worked in Heindorff House at 171 Queen Street, and lived in Lennon's Hotel in George Street in Brisbane. Capt. McCollum reported to Admiral James Fife. Whilst this was his official chain of command Parsons also reported to Courtney Whitney, Lt. Gen. Richard Sutherland and General Douglas MacArthur (not always in that order)
Commander Parsons had joined MacArthur in January 1943. It was more or less his job to convince the Navy that if they lent MacArthur "Special Mission" submarines, the guerrillas would establish coastwatcher radio stations throughout the islands which would supply numerous targets for their submarines.
Parsons on the left with General Douglas MacArthur.
Photo possibly taken at GHQ SWPA in the AMP building in Brisbane
Commander "Chick" Parsons during a mission in the Philippines beside a typical guerrilla hut in his typical "uniform" for getting around in the jungle. He often used sneaker type shoes in order to be able to run fast when needed. He had been a champion miler in high school in Tennessee! And to remain light on missions, he never carried a weapon.
SPYRON was essentially a warehousing operation used to accumulate equipment to be sent up by submarine to the Guerrillas in the Philippines. Parsons sailed to the Philippines on eight occasions on board a submarine to supply Filipino guerrillas in enemy occupied Mindanao. Amongst the submarines used for these missions were USS Narwahl and USS Nautilus. Refugees were also bought back to Australia from the Netherlands East Indies and the Philippines by US Submarines. These refugees were taken to a classified intake facility located in a Guest House called "Strath Allen" at Caloundra north of Brisbane where they were nourished, medically attended to by the American Red Cross, and debriefed before going on their way.
In 1944, the Japanese authorities in Tokyo offered a "$50,000 Dead or Alive" reward for U.S. Naval Commander Charles "Chick" Parsons.
Bobb Glenn was a Captain and Chief Supply Officer for the Allied Intelligence Bureau, and was deeply involved in supplying the guerrillas in the Philippines, and Camp Tabragalba.
Some of the Philippine Scouts were trained at the jungle training centre at Canungra during WW II. Canungra is about 60 miles south of Brisbane, and is still an Australian Army jungle training area.
According to Bobb Glenn, once Col. Courtney Whitney (Sectional Officer, AIB) arrived in GHQ, the Allied Intelligence Bureau was more or less out of the picture as the Philippine Regional Section was more favoured by MacArthur for his special missions and the Philippine resupply effort. "Chick" Parsons eventually reported directly to Courtney Whitney. Bobb Glenn continued to be in charge of locating the items requested by Parsons for inclusion on the submarine missions. One of their most unusual orders was for 1,500 ping pong balls.
Apparently there was an administrative change which meant that in June 1944 "Commander "Chick" Parsons' new big boss became General Douglas MacArthur. "Chick" reported to MacArthur via Jack Haines.
Peter Parsons gave me the following names as personnel that his father "Chick" Parsons was associated with during his time in Spyron:-
- Col Pick Diller (may be Le Grande Diller); Col C.A. Willoughby (Asst Chief of Staff G-2); Lt. Gen. Dick Sutherland (Chief of Staff); Allison Ind (Asst. Dep. Controller AIB); Syd Huff (aides-de-camp for Gen. MacArthur); Col. McDonald; Adm. James Fife; Lt. Col. Steve M. Mellnik (Philippine Section); Commdr. McCoy; Gen. William Marquat; Col. Burdette Fitch (later becomes a Gen, Adjutant General, GHQ); Charlie Allen; Lewis Brown; Courtney Whitney (Sectional Officer, AIB); Harry Stadler; Bob Bradford; Mickey Garrett; John Hickey; Babs and Major Bunch;----Pickering; Red Cole (possibly a submarine skipper); Frank Kovaks;------Spiker; Vic Smith; Don Higby; someone called Valenka; Chick Sheldon; Carl Brandt; Freddie Munson; Fritz Marquardt; "Possum" Webb; Capt. Arthur McCollum.
- the following personnel might be Australian:- John Allison; Mack Allison; Frank Bragg; Alex Henderson; Jack Enright; Sandy Finley (lost in action); Moon Chappell; Johnny Walling;----Downes.
- the following worked at one time or another in Parsons' Spyron outfit:- Lowell Camp; Martin Stone; "Cap" Martin; E.M. Grimm; Joe McMicking; George Simmie; Larry Sinclair; Bill Hagans; Web Jennings; Tom Jurika; George Rowe; Lee Telesco; "Governor" Hayden; Jim Bowen; Pappy Gunn;----Simmonds.
FIRST SUBMARINE MISSION OUT OF AUSTRALIA
Regarding the orders and papers for the first submarine mission to the Philippines by Chick Parsons:-
Stamped SECRET and on letterhead of GHQ, Military Intelligence Section, General Staff; subject Penetration Party; To: Lt. Commander Charles Parsons and dated Feb. 13, 1943.
There are five numbered items, the fifth of which has sub heads a-d.
Before the signature of Van S. Merle-Smith there is this "For the A.C. of S., G-2: -"
On the back side of same sheet are listed the 7 Inclosures (sic).
Item #1 indicated that Parsons' party would proceed to Perth according to oral instructions issued you by Lieutenant Colonel Allison. W. Ind.
Also dated Feb 13, 43
A "Certificate" written by Allison W. Ind, Lt. col.; Deputy Controller, A.I.B.
Iindicating the Lt. Comdr. Charles Parsons has been delegated authority as first in command of the party accompanying him...
and then there is a mention that Parsons will be "my representative in matters of supply, it being understood that certain ammunition was to be turned over to me at the Naval Base at Fremantle."
attached to this is a letter for the officers and enlisted men of the said party (who are all named) basically authorizing their travel and indicating their per diem allowances and rations.
signed by B.M Fitch, Col, AGD, Adjutant General
War in the Pacific (VDV-Video)
The Story of Commander Charles "Chick" Parsons
I'd like to thank Peter Parsons, son of "Chick" Parsons, Robert A. Weller and Bill Bentson for their assistance with this home page.
by Edward Dissette and H.C. Adamson
"Secret Mission to the Philippines, the
Story of Spyron and the American-Filipino Guerrillas of World War II"
by William Wise
© Peter Dunn 2006
This page first produced 28 November 2002
This page last updated 10 September 2013