It was entombed in the mud for 75 years, but now a tank submerged in a Philippines river has been recovered.

The Stuart M5A1 light tank took part in the US-led liberation of the islands from the Japanese in 1944-1945.

The Stuart light tank being recovered. Having been involved in the US campaign to liberate the Philippines, it then lay buried for 75 years. Image: Facebook.
The tank being recovered. Having been involved in the US campaign to liberate the Philippines, it then lay buried for 75 years. Image: Facebook.

The relic was removed by engineers from the country’s armed forces in Medellin, a province on the northwestern tip of the island of Cebu.

In March 1945, local guerrillas accompanied infantry regiments from the US Army on a drive toward the adjacent island of Leyte.

Landing first on Cebu, 6km southwest of the island’s capital city, the troops encountered an area riddled with mines and booby traps.

The city was liberated after three weeks, but Japanese troops remained entrenched in the north, around the Medellin area. They were frequently harassed by Americans before surrendering in late August 1945.

The Stuart light tank would have been involved in these later engagements. Locals believe that it was destroyed by a Japanese mortar round while attempting to cross a local river.

Although a fascinating discovery, the tank’s whereabouts have been known for some years. An earlier attempt to extract it in the 1980s ended in failure.

Although missing its central turret and engine, the tank’s track infrastructure remains. Image: Facebook.
Although missing its central turret and engine, the tank’s track infrastructure remains. Image: Facebook.

The central turret and Cadillac engine were both removed at an unknown point, although much of the track infrastructure remains.

Now that it has been fully recovered, locals intend to put it on show ahead of this year’s anniversary of the surrender of the Japanese.


This is a news story from Military History Matters. To find out more about the magazine and how to subscribe, click here.



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