Sunday, July 28, 2013

World War II: Corregidor Re-visited "I came through and I shall return"

 From a radio dugout deep in Corregidor 's rock heart,a boy from Brooklyn tapped out:

"Too much for guys to take.     . . . They have got us all...’

World War II: Corregidor Re-visited

"I came through and I shall return" 


Located at Lat 13``0` 0``N and Long 122 ``0` 0`` E , Phillipines is an archipelago of more than 7000 islands. It is also has a fifth longest coastline in the world with length of 22,549 miles. Mountains of the country are covered with rainforests. The most elevated peak is Mount Apo at a height of 9692 feet. Cagayan River is the longest river in the country while Laguna de Bay is the largest lake. Due to its location in the ‘Pacific Ring of Fire’, Philippines suffers occasionally from volcanic activities or earthquakes


Photo below clicked by me from the display in Corregidor,Jan 2013)

  Corregidor , the name conjures images of  far away battles , two battles  in fact,which took place  in the Pacific theatre during the tumultuous years of WW2 . Located 48 kilometres (30 mi) inland, Manila has been the largest city and the most important seaport in the Philippines for centuries, from the colonial rule of Spain, the United States, and Japan and after the establishment of the Republic of the Philippines in 1946. During World War II, Corregidor played an important role during the invasion and liberation of the Philippines from Japanese forces. Heavily bombarded by both the Japanese as well as the Americans , the ruins left on the island serve as a military memorial to American, Filipino and Japanese soldiers who served or lost their lives on the island.

You cannot choose your battlefield, God does that for you
But you can plant a standard where a standard never flew:  Nathaniel Crane - The Colors

       (Photo above  clicked by me from the display in Corregidor , Jan 2013)

     So what is the historical significance of  Corregidor?The story begins the day after Pearl Harbor, when in December 1941, the Japanese bombed the Philippines, destroying the US air force and navy in Southeast Asia . The fall of Bataan on 9 April 1942 ended all organized opposition by the U.S. Army Forces Far East to the invading Japanese forces on Luzon in the northern Philippines. The island bastion of Corregidor, with its network of tunnels and formidable array of defensive armament, along with the fortifications across the entrance to Manila Bay, was the remaining obstacle to the 14th Japanese Imperial Army of Lieutenant General Masaharu Homma. * The Japanese had to take Corregidor; as it denied them a free run to Phillipines and more so to Manila Bay.
*  Sad ,  but Gen Homma was hanged once the war ended , he was found guilty of war crimes  under controversial circumstances—a case of victors justice!!??     

Just a minute , if you are not a military history buff AND HAVE NO LIKING OF MATTERS MILITARY  this may not interest you , you may like to search for another blog.


(Photo above-Open source Internet)
                        A Brief Background
( CAUTION--if you do not read this , you will not understand the historic struggle for Corregidor )

 The Japanese concentrated their efforts on the Bataan peninsula, a piece of land that borders Manila Bay and protects the city of Manila. Corregidor Island sits 30 miles out at the entrance of Manila Bay. The combination of the Bataan peninsula, Corregidor Island and the defensive guns of Manila protected the bay and the nation beyond. After destroying the American air force and navy, the Japanese landed and overran the beachheads causing the US-Philippine army to retreat into their defensive positions in the hopes of holding off the Japanese for 6 months until relief could come from the US.
  On December 24, President Quezon and General MacArthur moved the Philippine government and military HQ to Corregidor Island. While they directed the defensive retreat from afar, the Philippine-US armies fought to defend the Bataan peninsula. They withstood heavy air and artillery strikes for two months. On March 12, MacArthur left Corregidor bound for Australia. At his departure he spoke those famous words, “I shall return.”
6  By April 9, after 4 months of heavy assault, the US-Filipino forces surrendered Bataan.The victorious Japanese army forced their American and Filipino prisoners of war to march 70 miles to remove them from the theater of action as they planned their final assault on Corregidor. Soldiers already weak from malnutrition, disease and exhaustion were forced to march in tropical heat with no water or food. Thousands died or were executed leading to the name, the Bataan Death March. After the surrender of Bataan, Corregidor received the full bombardment of the Japanese. The final surrender came on May 6, 1942, after 5 months of brave resistance.
7  The Bataan and Corregidor resistance engaged the Japanese for 5 months allowing the allies time to rebuild their forces in Australia and eventually take back Asia and win the war in the Orient.

Now the trip starts---

                                             Artillery in Corregidor

The Artillery on Corregidor was formidable, with 45 coastal guns and mortars organized into 23 batteries and some seventy-two anti-aircraft weapons assigned to thirteen batteries. Some of the other batteries that were set up in Corregidor included: Wheeler, Ramsay, Morrison, James, Smith, Cheney, Monja, Kysor, Hamilton, Cushing, Sunset, Hanna, Keyes, Rockpoint, Wright, and Rose


                                     (Photo above-Open source Internet)

             Mortars at Corregidor's Battery Way could be traversed to fire in any direction.The splinter pock-marks on the revetments are clearly visible and the intense counter-battery fire can be imagined—this very mortar position would have seen many casualties so many years back---

                      Notice the splinter / shell fragment marks discernible on the ordnance


One of the 12’’ mortars(below)

                                          (Photo  courtesy Tony Sarao Jan 2013) 

Completed in 1913, this battery was armed with four 12-inch mortars capable of firing up to 14,610 yards in any direction at the rate of one round per minute (per mortar). Three of the serviceable mortars opened fire on April 28, 1942; and on May 2, two of these were hit

      (Photo above , courtesy Tony Sarao  Jan 2013)
                         A view of the Ammunition Bunker/Communications and Rest Bays

Work on setting up of Battery Way started in 1904 and it was completed in 1914 at a cost of $112,969. It was named in honor of 2nd Lieutenant Henry N. Way of the 4th U.S. Artillery who died in service in the Philippines in 1900

Armed with four 12-inch mortars, it was capable of lobbing a 1000-lb deck piercing shell or 700 lb high explosive shell 14,610 yards in any direction.

                                  (Photos above , courtesy Tony Sarao Jan 2013)

Covered bomb crater (below) in the Battery Way Mortar Position, can’t make out whether it was during the initial Japanese bombing in 1942 or  by the Americans during the  later  battle for the re-capture of Corregidor in 1945. On May 6, after more than 12 hours of continuous firing, the remaining mortar finally froze tight. It was the last of Corregidor's "concrete artillery" to to cease firing before the surrender

   (Photo  , courtesy Tony Sarao, Jan 2013)

Strange-- the mortar barrel is elevated to almost 90 degrees!! You can get the maximum range at 45 degrees , so this was done  by someone once the mortar became defunct

                            (Photos  above , courtesy Tony Sarao  Jan 2013)


The Americans started setting up Battery Hearn in 1918 and completed work on it in 1921 at a cost of $148,105. This 12-inch seacoast west-ranged guns had a maximum range of 29,000 yards and was capable of firing in all directions. It was one of the last major additions to Corregidor's defense system which was intended to defend the island against enemy naval threat from the South China Sea.

                                                 (Photo above-Open source Internet)

      (Photo above,courtesy Tony Sarao Jan 2013)

        A view of the 12’’ inch gun of Battery Hearn as it lies today.Notice the massive re-coil mechanism and the screw type breech.Armed with four 12’’ inch guns on a 360 degree’s rotating platform , Hearn had the longest guns on the island .The gun fired a 454.5 Kg shell to a range of 27 Kms but to an elevation of 35 degrees max and that too at a very flat trajectory       

It is important to spend a minute to read this Plaque (below)placed in the erstwhile gun position

                             (Photo above,courtesy Tony Sarao Jan 2013)

Victorious Japanese troops atop Hearn Battery, 6 May 1942  (Photo -Open source Internet)

(Photo above, courtesy Tony Sarao Jan 2013)

        Notice there are no Japanese atop this gun 



Battery Hearn had been in action firing towards Cavite from February 1942 and on April 8 and 9, 1942, towards Bataan. This gun emplacement was captured nearly intact by the Japanese when Corregidor fell and it was subsequently repaired by them and put back into action. It was, however, completely neutralized by American aerial bombardment in January and February of 1945

Battery Grubbs

                                  (Photo above , courtseyTony Sarao Jan 2013) 

Work on this $212,397 battery started from November 1907 and it saw completion early in 1909. It was named in honor of 1st Lieutenant Hayden Y. Grubbs who belonged to the 6th U.S. Infantry and who died during the insurrection in the islands in 1899.

Battery Grubbs was armed with two 10-inch guns mounted on disappearing carriages and located well inland in the west central part of Corregidor. This gun emplacement was intended to fire to the northwest. At the start of the Second World War the battery was not originally manned. It was put into active service in early April 1942 but was quickly knocked out of service and subsequently abandoned.

                        (Photo above , courtseyTony Sarao Jan 2013)

Notice the ingeneous mechanism which enabled the gun to be lifted up , it would fire and  then be retracted  below the parapet , some- thing like shown in that famous movie ‘The Guns Of Navronne’’



                          (Photo above , courtesy Tony Sarao Jan 2013)
A Shinyo ( 震洋) suicide boat cave is clearly visible in the photograph

Incidentally, before Corrigedor was captured,the Americans dumped 15,000,000 dollars of pure silver pieces (at 1941 prices) somewhere in Manila Bay (???!!!)

Topside Barracks

(Photos above , courtsey Tony Sarao Jan 2013)

The ruins of the world’s longest military barracks, the Topside Barracks which are also popularly known as  the Mile Long Baracks ,due to their entire length of 1,250 feet or 463.41 meters.  A gymnasium, billiard rooms, bowling alley, swimming pool and barbershop formed part of these famous Barracks during the pre-war days.

(Photo above, courtesy Tony Sarao Jan 2013)

Also known as the’’ Mile Long Baracks’’

 The ‘’Mile Long Barracks’’ during their hey –days , compare the two photographs and you can make out the similarities, though there are no Base-ball players on the ground in front of the barracks now!!

(Photo above-Open source Internet)
 (Photo above , courtesy Tony Sarao, Jan2013)

On 29 December 1941, the defenders got their first taste of aerial bombardment on Corregidor. The attack lasted for two hours as the Japanese destroyed or damaged the hospital, Topside and Bottomside barracks, the Navy fuel depot and the officers club. Three days later, the island garrison was bombed for more than three hours , this is what is left now

                 CINE’ CORRIGIDOR
To the left at the entrance to the Pacific War Memorial are the ruins of what used to be Cine Corregidor, a movie theater. It was erected during the pre-war period to cater to the entertainment needs of the personnel of the garrison as well as their families.

(Photo above, courtesy Tony Sarao Jan 2013)

 Above, Cine Corrigedor today—only memories remain, bombed out during the war

 “Cine Corrigedor’’ during it’s hey days
  (Photos above-Open source Internet)

                   CINE’ CORRIGIDOR


 (Photo above , courtesyTony Sarao Jan 2013)
  (Photos above-Open source Internet)
(Photo above , courtesyTony Sarao Jan 2013)

                                                    Brothers in Arms

This statue is named "Brothers in Arms" and the plaque in front of it reads, "In these hallowed surroundings where heroes sleep may their ashes scatter in the wind and live in the hearts of those who were left behind. They died for freedom's right and in heaven's sight theirs was a noble cause." It stands in front of the Pacific War Memorial

 Completed in 1968 through the appropriation of the United States Congress, the memorial honors the Filipino and American soldiers who participated in the Pacific War. The main feature of the memorial is the circular altar in a rotunda which symbolizes a wreath of victory. It also has a museum which treasures the relics of the war

 Macarthur ‘’Returns-‘’--most people are not aware that this photograph is not of his return to Corrigidor. He had actually returned to Leyete island where the American landings took place and not to Corrigidor where he had uttered those famous words.

(This is a photograph of the ‘famous photograph’ ,  landing at Leyte —I clicked it from the display in Corrigidor museum)

Lorcha Dock---Departure Point
(Photo  above , courtesy Tony Sarao , Jan2013)

Also called MacArthur's Dock, the Lorcha dock is where locals believe General MacArthur departed Corregidor from. Before  it was renovated , what was left of the old dock were its ruins – old collapsed wood and concrete – aside from rusted tracks of an old railway system that once connects Lorcha dock with Malinta Tunnel, bringing personnel and war materials from the dock to the tunnel.

The Army Dock’  or  ‘MacArthur’s Dock’

‘The Army Dock’ and ‘MacArthur’s Dock’ is  a small boat pier,  it is believed to be  the location for the dumping of General MacArthur’s personal possessions that were left behind after he departed the island. Ammunition, weapons, desks, chairs, and his entire stock or collection of prime liquor consisting of over 80 bottles were thrown off this dock. The condition of most of these items now, 57 years after the fact, remains somewhat questionable. However, since the bottom here is mostly mud, which acts as a preservative, chances are good that the bottles remain in very good condition. Water depth here is only around ten feet.

                              (Photos  above , courtesy Tony Sarao , Jan 2013)

"Sleep my sons, your duty done… for freedom's light has come. Sleep in the silent depths of the sea, or in your bed of hallowed sod. Until you hear at dawn the low, clear reveille of God."

He spoke his most famous line "I shall return" after arriving in Australia and not while departing from Corregidor . On 12 March, under cover of darkness, Gen. MacArthur was evacuated from Corregidor on four PT boats for Mindanao, where he was eventually flown to Australia

    --- ‘’I shall return’’------famous words and the man was sacked by Truman later !!!!, but that’s another story!!

"We must win. There is no substitute for victory"

                                        CORREGDOR  SPANISH ERA LIGHTHOUSE 
                                             (Photo above , courtesyTony Sarao Jan 2013)


                                        (Photos -Open source Internet)

             Above, is a 1945 photo of the battle damaged lighthouse area                        

 Japanese Garden of Peace Park 

                   (Photo above , courtesyTony Sarao Jan 2013)
The Memorial reads : “TRIBUTE TO THE BRAVE. In Remembrance of the 4,500 Fallen Comrades In Arms Of The Japanese Defense Batallaion . . . And Tribute To The Gallantry Of The Filipinos, Americans And Japanese Soldiers Who Fought And Died For A Cause On This Island. MAY THEIR SOUL REST IN ETERNAL PEACE.”

 Of the 6000 or more Japanese defenders, about 40 survived in one way or another
Corregidor had 13 anti-aircraft artillery batteries with 76 guns, twenty-eight of which were 3-inch and forty-eight 50-caliber

                                         (Photos above , courtesy Tony Sarao Jan 2013)

Corregidor had 13 anti-aircraft artillery batteries with 76 guns, twenty-eight of which were 3-inch and forty-eight 50-caliber


                     Malinta Tunnel 

The Malinta Tunnel is a tunnel complex built by the United States Army Corps of Engineers on the island of Corregidor in the Philippines. It was initially used as a bomb-proof storage and personnel bunker, but was later equipped as a 1,000-bed hospital. The main tunnel, running east to west, is 831 feet long, 24 feet wide and 18 feet high. Branching off from this main shaft are 13 lateral tunnels on the north side and 11 lateral tunnels on the south side. Each lateral averaged 160 feet in length and 15 feet in width
                    (Photo above , courtesyTony Sarao Jan 2013)
 Booby traps, still live after all these years, have ensured that on the other side of the debris, these secrets lie inviolate with the remains of their Japanese guardians. Vehicles, munitions, supplies, five hundred or more Japanese bodies and a rumored fortune of Corregidor gold still lie there behind several thousand tons of fallen rock.

 Notice--In the photograph above, I (in bluecap) am standing somewhere near the spot where Macarthur (below) was clicked sometime in 1945!!!
  (Photos above-Open source Internet)

                    (Photo above , courtesyTony Sarao Jan 2013)

Some of its laterals were so secret only those working there knew of their existence, and even they were blindfolded to and from each work shift. When in February 1945 the Japanese exploded the inner laterals of the top secret Navy Tunnel, they buried forever these tunnels and the secrets they contained.

           (Photos above-Open source Internet)  
1942 photo of men working in one of the lateral tunnels , notice the electric lights powered from numerous generators supplying electricity to the ‘’ROCK’’

Some of its laterals were so secret only those working there knew of their existence, and even they were blindfolded to and from each work shift. When in February 1945 the Japanese exploded the inner laterals of the top secret Navy Tunnel, they buried forever these tunnels and the secrets they contained.

(Photo above , courtesyTony Sarao, Jan 2013)
On one day Japanese artillery delivered a five hundred pound shell every five seconds for five hours…3600 shells, enough to fill 600 trucks (they also had 13 air raids that day as well). It is no wonder that the tunnel systems hold the most fascination for they are almost the only thing left


   (Photo above , courtesyTony Sarao Jan 2013)

  (Photos above-Open source Internet)

Suicide Cliff

             (Photo above , courtesyTony Sarao Jan 2013)

Then there is the famous cliff (beyond the railing and to the left) where scores of Japanese soldiers jumped  rather than surrender in February 1945.But there is also evidence that this is an concocted story for the benefit of Japanese and other tourists


’There is a limit of human endurance, and that point has long been passed."    ---General Wainwright to President Roosevelt , before he surrendered

Lt. Gen. Wainwright , May 8, 1944

(This is a photograph I clicked from the display in Corregidor museum)

‘’-----About 2 a.m. a signal rocket burst palely over the fortress island of Corregidor, Japanese batteries which had been shelling the island constantly for seven days, opened up with a new and concentrated frenzy from their positions on the heights of Mariveles. Japanese infantrymen, ferried across the channel by small boats and bamboo rafts, swarmed onto the island's low-lying eastern shore-- - - -‘’

      From a radio dugout deep in Corregidor 's rock heart,a boy from Brooklyn tapped out: "Too much for guys to take. . . . They have got us all...’’

Now to Subic Bay----

During May 1942 the Japanese began transferring POWs by sea. Similar to treatment on the Death March Bataan , prisoners were often crammed into cargo holds with little air, food or water for journeys that would last weeks.

Many died due to asphyxia, starvation or dysentery. Some POWs became delirious and unresponsive in their environment of heat, humidity and lack of oxygen, food, and water. These unmarked prisoner transports were targeted as enemy ships by Allied submarines and aircraft
More than 20,000 Allied POWs died at sea when the transport ships carrying them were attacked by Allied submarines and aircraft. Although Allied headquarters often knew of the presence of POWs through radio interception and code breaking, the ships were sunk because interdiction of critical strategic materials was more important than the deaths of prisoners-of-war
                                         (Photos above , courtesyTony Sarao, Jan 2013)

America , Australia , Britain , China , Czechoslovakia , Denmark , Formosa , Holland , India, Indonesia


"All men are brothers, like the seas throughout the world; So why do winds and waves clash so fiercely everywhere?"

                      --Emperor Hirohito

We never know how high we are, till we are asked to rise 
and then if we are true to plan, our statures touch the skies...
The heroism that we recite would be a normal thing,
did not ourselves the cubits warp for fear to be a king.....Emily Dickinson

Ake Ake Kia Kaha,  
          And these are photographs---

  To the good times!!!

You cannot choose your battlefield, God does that for you
But you can plant a standard where a standard never flew:  Nathaniel Crane - The Colors

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