View Full Version : John Keats, THEY FOUGHT ALONE. Biography to motion picture?

06-12-2010, 03:32 PM
A few years ago, I read the biography, They Fought Alone, the true story about Lieutenant Colonel Wendell Fertig, a civilian mining engineer and Army reservist who, with his wife and children, were in the Philippines during the opening days of the Pacific War. Immediately after the attack on Pearl Harbor and just prior to the Japanese invasion of the Philippines, Fertig sent his family home and attempted to report for duty with regular US Army forces in the Philippines.

According to the biography, Fertig was initially in the company of a displaced Navy Chief Petty Officer and another mining engineer, both of whom would later serve as resistance leaders. When they arrived at a recently abandoned American base, they found several warehouses burning. Entering one of the warehouses, they salvaged crates filled with '03 Springfield service rifles, ammunition, .45 Colt pistols, shoes, uniforms and equipment. After hiring some young Filipino porters, they took their new found materiel investment in what would initially supply the Allied insurgency on the big island of Mindanao and headed for the high mountain jungles in Moro territory where they were given sanction.

Ultimately, Lt. Colonel Fertig would promote himself to general wearing the home made silver stars of a general provided by a Moro jewelry smith and he would head an army of over 30,000 Filipinos and Americans who refused to surrender or who had escaped Japanese work details. Fertig knew too that in order to have an effective résistance movement, he would have to create a legitimate government complete with laws, monetary system and popular support. Without any formal training in special operations, he achieved all of that. Notably, Fertig managed to broker a peace between the Muslim Moros in the hills and the Christian Filipinos long enough to fight a common enemy.

Initially, most of the weapons included US Model 1903 Springfields, US Model 1917 [Enfields], Model 1918 BARs, Model 1928 Thompson submachine guns and .45 M1911 Colt pistols. In the case of the '03 and 1917 rifles, reloaded ammunition was manufactured out of lead fishing weights and brass curtain rods when factory ammunition ran low. Captured Japanese Arisaka rifles and ammunition supplemented American and Filipino supplies. Ultimately, American submarines on dark moonless nights would arrive up river to deliver more munitions, food, medical supplies, radio transmitters and even news and entertainment magazines.

Almost three years after the surrender of the Philippines to the Japanese invaders, Fertig and his guerilla army would become part of the combined arms liberation force of the Philippines in late 1944 with the return of American forces. After the war, Fertig would return to his home state of Colorado and teach mining engineering at his alma mater, Colorado School of Mining and continue to serve in the Army Reserves as an advisor to the creation of the Army Special Forces Green Berets. Interestingly, Fertig never wore the collar devices of an infantryman or paratrooper, but rather those of an engineer.

The last I heard was that Brad Pitt would play the part of Colonel Fertig. That might explain Pitt’s gradual weight gain, muscles and goatee. Fertig was a tall, big boned man. I just hope the movie, if Hollywood chooses to go through with it, gives an accurate portrayal of events and refrains from their usual revisionist hype. This is too important a chapter of World War II history to make the mistake of another "Inglorious Bastards" dog of a movie.

06-12-2010, 06:51 PM
That definately sounds like a movie worthy of a big budget. I would love to see a story like that brought to life.
Lets just hope that Speilberg has something to do with it instead of that cowboy Tarantino, ha ha

06-16-2010, 05:50 PM
That sure sounds like a movie worth watching, if they ever produce it!

06-16-2010, 06:03 PM
Yeah, I keep hearing that it is "on again-off again." I goggled some of the Hollywood sites and it appears to have been moved up from the back burner. Maybe somebody has agreed to fund it. I am not certain how these things work. I hope they don't deviate too much from the original John Keats book ... if and when a motion picture does come out.

06-16-2010, 06:05 PM
Lets just hope that Speilberg has something to do with it...

Sure thing, at least if you prefer Hollywood dramaturgy over a realistic approach.

06-16-2010, 06:27 PM
Whoever produces this movie needs to read the book first. It reads like fiction, or a 20th century South Seas myth because of the time and place, the high mountain jungles of the huge southern island of Mindanao in the Philippine archipelago, the Moro warriors in the hill country, the Filipino farmers and aristocrats in the valleys, the overwhelming Imperial Japanese Army and Navy, and sheer sense of hopelessness … followed by grim determination and a tenacious struggle for survival by the Filipino and American soldiers who refused to surrender or who escaped their Japanese conquerors. These components give this story the backdrop it deserves. I am certain that there will be some liberties taken. Perhaps Keats took some himself. However, the people were real and the events were real. Some of them are still alive today, so perhaps the writers and producers will behave themselves and get most of it right.