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Corregidor

“On The Rock” by James Dietz

On 16 February 1945, 51 C-47s of the 317th TCG, nicknames “The Jungle Skippers”, dropped 2000 men of the 503rd PIR/11th Airborne Division on the fortress island of Corregidor.  Due to the modest size of the drop zones, only one battalion could be dropped at at a time, with a 5-hours turn around between drops. Each C-47 had to make repeated passes over the DZs and only a handful of paratroopers could jump each time.

The commanding officers, Lt.Col. John Lackey and Co. George Jones circled the island directing the choreography of the mission.  At 08:33 hours, barely 3 minutes late, against 16-18 knot winds, the troopers began to descend on the remnants of MGen. Tsukada’s Kembu Group.

503rd/11th Airborne Division

Paratroopers and infantrymen waged a tenacious battle ‘Topside’ while the 3rd Battalion of the 24th Infantry Division waded ashore on the eastern end of the island known as ‘Black Beach’ encountering the enemy and land mines.  Yet they did manage to secure the road and both the north and south entrances to Malinta Hill.  They intended to keep the Japanese troops inside the tunnel as other units arrived with tanks and flamethrowers.

layout of Corregidor

18 February – The most ferocious battle on Corregidor developed at Wheeler Point.  Companies D & F/2nd batt./503rd while in defense positions near Battery Hearn and Cheney Trail on that moonless night had 500 Japanese Special landing Force Marines come charging out of Battery Smith armory.  This was the night when Pvt. Lloyd G. McCarter won his Medal of Honor.

Aside from flares fired throughout the night by offshore warships, this 3-hour battle was decided by 50 men and their weapons.  Official historians of the 503rd refer to Wheeler Point as “Banzai Point.”

a Malinta Tunnel exit

21 February – Malinta Hill reacted like a volcano when several detonations tore it apart.  The Japanese that had been trapped inside caused the explosions and ensuing rock falls.  Two nights later, a similar event occurred and the American engineers sealed the tunnel’s entrances.  The suicides caused many such instances for days afterward.

Up until 26 February, there were isolated small cases of resistance from the remaining enemy soldiers, but they were silenced and Corregidor was declared secure.

Corregidor

By 1 March, Manila Harbor, the finest in the East, was open to Allied shipping.  7 March, MacArthur returned to the fortress he had been forced to leave and immediately noticed the old flagpole was still standing. He said, “Have your troops hoist the colors to its peak and let no enemy ever again haul it down.”

Flag raising on Corregidor

References: “C-47/R4D Skytrain Units of the Pacific and CBI” by David Isby; “Voice of the Angel” newspaper of the 11th Airborne Division, edited by Matt Underwood.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Clifford Abram – UK; Royal Navy, WWII / RAF

Clarence Beavers – NYC, NY; US Army, WWII, Sgt., 55th Battalion “Triple Nickels”

John Canty – Winsted, CT; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, Sgt., 555/386/9th Bomber Command, KIA

Marlene Errico – Sunrise, FL; Women’s USMC

Carl Fisherkeller – Springfield, IL; US Navy, WWII, pilot

John Gavin – Los Angeles, CA; US Navy, Ambassador to Mexico, (beloved actor)

Hoyt Hamor – Bar Harbor, ME; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Ralph Hartgraves – Clarksdale, MS; US Army, WWII, ETO, KIA

Earl Peterson – Bristol, NH; US Navy, WWII, USS Noble

Robert Watz – Westerly, RI; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT

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Battle of Manila: Softening Corregidor

The Manila and Manila Bay areas saw much of the war…

IHRA

In the weeks before the Battle of Manila began on February 3, 1945, ground troop commanders requested the help of heavy bombers to knock out some of the Japanese defenses built on Corregidor and Grande Islands. The two islands would be of strategic import in the coming battle, particularly Corregidor, which sits at the mouth of Manila Bay. General MacArthur approved of this on January 22nd, causing the 22nd Bomb Group to spare the Japanese airfields and give some attention to Luzon.

Liberators from the Group took off on the 24th, each loaded with five 1000-pound bombs. Many targets were marked out, including two large coastal defense guns and ammo installations scattered about Grande Island. Results were excellent, with several bombs hitting a powder magazine and and ammunition storage area. They flew back to base without incident.

On the 26th, the 22nd was scheduled to hit Corregidor Island. Approximately 6000…

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December 10 – The Loss of the First Sealion

USS Sea Lion

USS Sea Lion

THE USS SEA LION – DAMAGED BY THE JAPANESE. LT. CROTTY,USCG, LED THE TEAM TO STRIP HER AND LAY CHARGES FOR HER FINAL DESTRUCTION.

theleansubmariner

USS-Sealion-195-2

The attack at Pearl Harbor was barely finished when the predicted attacks in the Philippines began. In order for the Japanese empire to complete their planned establishment of a Greater East Asia Co-prosperity Sphere, the Philippines would have to be “liberated” from the American’s influence. A casual study of that part of the world shows that the oil and food that would be needed to satisfy the growing Japanese empire could easily be obtained form the vast resources in the southern Pacific. The small Japanese islands were hardly capable of supplying the basic needs of her own people at home no less the far flung forces of its marauding armies. Like a giant hungry tiger, she was consuming as much as her army and navy could take in a furious march across the hemisphere.

japanese-painting-tiger-032

The Philippines were the key to her ability to anchor her gains. These beautiful islands lay across…

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Tribute

Lt. James Crotty

Lt. James Crotty

Lt. Thomas James Eugene Crotty, USCG

This tribute to Lt. Crotty was condensed from an article written by William H. Thiesen, Ph.D., Atlantic Area Historian, USCG.  Courtesy of the MacArthur Memorial Library, Norfolk, Virginia.

Lt. Thomas James Eugene Cotty

Lt. Thomas James Eugene Crotty

Lt. ‘Jimmy’ Crotty graduated from the United States Coast Guard Academy in 1934 and for 6 years he served on board cutters, including the Tampa during its famous rescue of passengers from the burning liner Morro Castle.  In April 1941, Jimmy received training at the Navy’s Mine Warfare School and Mine Recovery Unit.  He then received orders for the Philippine Islands in October.

On 10 December, the American Navy Yard at Cavite was bombed by the Japanese.  Crotty supervised the demolition of strategic facilities to prevent them from falling into enemy hands as ground troops made their way to Corregidor.  This included the ammunition magazine and the fleet submarine, USS Sea Lion, which had been damaged during the air attacks.

USS Quail

USS Quail

During February and March 1942, Crotty served as executive officer of the Navy minesweeper USS Quail which shot down enemy aircraft and swept the minefields so US subs could deliver supplies and evacuate personnel.  They also provided shore bombardment against Japanese beach landings.

Crews on board Navy vessels cannibalized deck guns and moved them onto the island to mount a final stand against the encircling enemy forces.  Crotty served to the bitter end.  Eye witnesses reported seeing him commanding a force of Marine and Army personnel manning the 75-mm beach guns until Japanese bombardment put the guns out of commission.

Marines fire a 75-mm gun, 1942

Marines fire a 75-mm gun, 1942

With Corregidor’s capitulation on 6 May, Lt. Crotty became the first Coast Guard POW since the War of 1812.  His fellow prisoners at Cabanatuan knew him for his love of sports as well as his sense of humor and optimism.  One person later recounted: “The one striking thing I remember was his continued optimism and cheerfulness under the most adverse circumstances.  He was outstanding at a time when such an attitude was so necessary for general welfare.”

Lt. Crotty

Lt. Crotty

Crotty received little recognition for his heroic efforts during those desperate days due in part to the destruction of records and the death of so many eye witnesses.  To this day, no one knows the precise day he died, from the diphtheria epidemic that killed 40 prisoners a day, or the exact location of his final resting place.

Crotty's shadow-box

Crotty’s shadow-box

In the words of one of his shipmates, intelligence officer, Lt.Cmdr. Denys W. Knoll:
“Lieutenant Crotty impressed us all with his fine qualities of naval leadership which were combined with a very pleasant personality and a willingness to assist everyone to the limit of his ability. He continued to remain very cheerful and retained a high morale until my departure from Fort Mills the evening of 3 May. Lt. Crotty is worthy of commendation for the energetic and industrious manner in which he performed all his tasks. He continued to be an outstanding example of an officer and a gentleman to all hands and was a source of encouragement to many who did not posses his high qualities of courage and perseverance that he displayed.”

Lt.Cmdr. John Morrel also, along with 17 others escaped 2,000 miles to Darwin Australia in a 36′ motor launch and wrote the book, “South From Corregidor.”

Click onto images to enlarge.

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Military Humor –  now they’re into ‘planking’

military planking

military planking

military-planking-500-0

military-planking-500-17

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Farewell Salutes – 

James Caporale – CT & FL; US Navy (Ret. 20 years)

Gert Dalby – Santa Ynez, CA; Danish Military

William Foster – Goshen, IN; USMCplaying-taps

Richard Hottelet – Brooklyn, NY; WWII journalist, last of the “Edward R. Murrow Boys,” ETO, POW

Norman Lucas – Knox, ID; USMC, WWII, PTO, Company C/1/24th Div.

Douglas MacLean – Calgary, CAN; RC Navy, WWII, HMCS Oakville

Donald Moore – Grand Rapids, MI; US Army Air Corp, WWII, PTO, Med/457 Artillery

Betty Quilan – Oklahoma City, OK; Military Intelligence, WWII

Marion Stults – Tucson, AZ , US Army, 511th/Signal

Jack Walsh – Portland , ME; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Perry & Shenandoah

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Corregidor

just one section of the Malinta Tunnel

just one section of the Malinta Tunnel

When Corregidor fell, 1941

When Corregidor fell, 1941


Manila Bay was extremely important for shipping traffic, regardless of who was in control and the island fortress of Corregidor sat mid-way. The need to re-conquer the “The Rock” was imperative to the Allied effort.

The Air Force began its attacks 22 January and by 16 February had dropped 3,125 tons on the three-tier island. That same day, 24 B-24s hit known gun positions and 11 B-25s hit antiaircraft guns and the south coast while 31 A-20s strafed Caballo Island, a mile to the south.

503rd on Corregidor

503rd on Corregidor

re-capture map, Corregidor

re-capture map, Corregidor

13 February, Naval bombardment began mostly on the north side of the island and mine sweeping in the waters. On 16 February, the 3d Battalion of the 34th Infantry, part of General Krueger’s Sixth Army, landed on the south shore after it was also bombed and strafed.

The 503d was not originally a part of the 11th Airborne Division (Eighth Army), but was at this stage attached and therefore I believe they deserve mention here. So, it was also on the 16th that they boarded their C-47s on Mindoro to parachute in waves on the top and very dangerous area of Corregidor. At 0833, 3 minutes behind schedule (amazes me how they keep track of the seconds and minutes during a war), the first wave jumped and only encountered minimal enemy rifle and machine gun fire. They had put themselves down right at the Command Post, killing the Japanese general and destroying the enemy communications center. This immediately caused some confusion among the Japanese. After securing Topside, they were able to give support to Bottomside and achieve contact. It appeared that Japanese General Rikichi Tsukada and what was left of the Kembu Group had been caught off guard.

No trooper drowned during this jump, despite rumors to the contrary. The 34th Infantry Regiment established a beachhead at Black Beach and they proceeded to block both the north and south entrances to the Malinta Tunnel, consequently trapping that portion of the enemy. Tons of ammunition were stored in the tunnel and the 600 foot plateau was mined. All the men fought cave to cave and repelled banzai attacks as the soldiers fighting on the mainland were doing.

21 February, at 21:30 hours, Malinta Hill erupted in a massive explosion as the entrapped Japanese army blew themselves up. The U.S. soldiers then sealed the tunnel. It would not be until 1 March that Corregidor and the outstanding harbor would be open to Allied shipping.

The Japanese estimated that they had approximately 6,700 of their army on the island. Only 50 survived, 19 were taken prisoner and 20 stragglers surfaced in January of 1946. U.S. casualties were 136 with 531 wounded and 8 missing.

This data is a composite from Corregidor.org, the 11th A/B Assn. and the VFW Pictorial History of the Second World War, pub. 1949

jump master's view

jump master’s view

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