#318 Balangiga Bells

Wikipedia Photo

The Balangiga bells are three church bells taken by the United States Army from the town church of Balangiga, Eastern Samar in the Philippines as war booty after reprisals following the Balangiga incident in 1901 during the Philippine-American War.

One church bell is in the possession of the 9th Infantry Regiment at Camp Red Cloud, their base in South Korea, while two others are on a former base of the 11th Infantry Regiment at F. E. Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, Wyoming. At least one of the bells had tolled to signal the surprise attack by the Filipinos while the Americans were eating breakfast. The attack claimed the lives of more than 40 soldiers of the US garrison posted in the town.

The bells, which symbolized Filipino revolutionary courage, is tied to the event of September 28, 1901, when the villagers of Balangiga ambushed Company C of the 9th U.S. Infantry Regiment, while they were at breakfast, killing an estimated 48 and wounding 22 of the 78 men of the unit, with only four escaping unhurt. The villagers captured about 100 rifles and 25,000 rounds of ammunition. An estimated 20 to 25 of the guerrillas had died in the fighting, with a similar number of wounded.

In reprisal, General Jacob H. Smith ordered that Samar be turned into a “howling wilderness” and that any Filipino male above ten years of age capable of bearing arms be shot if they refuse to surrender. From the burned-out Catholic town church, the Americans recovered three bells which they took back to the United States as war booty.

Despite efforts of Philippine presidents and politicians, the bells remain under US government control but efforts are ongoing to recover the bells and re/install in Balangiga, Samar (Wikipedia and other sources).

Mabuhay at ibalik ang Balangiga Bells sa Pilipinas!

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