One night I had the 12:00 midnight to 4:00 a.m. deck watch. We were anchored near Cavite and there was hardly any moon. I made a trip to the fantail to see
how the stern watch was doing and in a few minutes I
came back on the starboard side looking toward Cavite. I happened to look up, and almost passed out. There,
about 500 feet away and 50 feet in the air was a good
sized balloon and slung underneath it was a paper
lantern painted with a picture of a grinning skull. I
thought, "The enemy are out with their tricks again.
Don't know what they will try next." The enemy thought anybody who would see the objects they sent aloft would shoot at them. Then, in turn, the enemy would fire at
the gun flash.
The Oahu was anchored very close to the Cavite
shoreline so if any Japanese invasion boats tried to
get to Corregidor we could stop part of them and spread the alarm.
Towards the end of March 1942, the Japanese offensive
was stepped up and terrific pressure was put on our
nearly exhausted troops. The Imperial Japanese Army
wanted to finish the stubborn defenders of Bataan and
then invade Corregidor. They would have liked to
finish the Philippine campaign by April 29, 1942, it
being the Emperor's birthday. This act would have
enhanced the Japanese Army's prestige, but the Japanese
Army failed to account for the brave and stout-hearted
defenders of Bataan and Corregidor.
Japanese dive bombers never let up with their
relentless bombing and strafing of Bataan troops.
Rumors were on Corregidor that Bataan troops were
weakening and were near collapse. The last days of
Bataan were of hell and of fire.
The enemy gave no quarter. They strafed and bombed day and night. Some hope was held that the huge 12-inch
howitzers atop Craig Hill might be able to throw some
shells over to Bataan to try and stop the now
steam-rolling Japanese Army. Craig Hill 12-inch
howitzers started firing April 4, 1942, just at dusk.
Early morning came and the howitzers were still
throwing shells at the enemy. Casualties became very
high among the enemy. Finally, the word came to cease
firing. Bataan troops, (American), reported that
craters extending 1,000 yards were made by the huge
After reports from Bataan patrols, it was decided
Bataan could not last long. Physical exhaustion had
beat out valiant fighting men. While we had three
lines of defense, it was thought that if the first line would join the second and third lines, greater strength would result and the men behind the lines could escape
Behind the lines frenzied work was being carried on.
All ammunition was destroyed, food supplies burned,
water tanks destroyed and the sick and wounded were
moved to Corregidor.
All this time the Japanese dive bombers were strafing
Meanwhile, the U.S. Navy was busy too.
The U.S.S. Canopus was scuttled on April 8, 1942.
Part of the supplies which were housed in the tunnels
of Marivales, consisting of food, ammunition and
medical supplies, would have to be destroyed as not all could be removed to Corregidor. One of the largest
tunnels in Marivales was blown up by placing 50 boxes
of dynamite in and around the entrance. A special crew set the charge off, and the explosion was so great that many men were injured in a launch 500 yards from the
beach. This tunnel was damaged so badly that it would
take the enemy a long, long time to dig it out.
The huge Dewey drydock was scuttled. Everything that
would possibly hinder the enemy was done before Bataan
High hope was held that Corregidor could hold out and
keep the enemy from occupying all of Bataan. Every
raft, banco, barge and Navy craft was used in
evacuating troops from Bataan to Corregidor during the
last night of Bataan.
Every man on Corregidor was telling what a wonderful
job the Bataan troops had done in all the months of
fighting. They all knew that the Americans and
Filipinos were not beaten, but had merely gone to the
limit of their physical endurance.
The combined U.S. forces, who were now under fire from
all sides, together with forces from Fort Hughes and
other posts and remnants of Bataan forces, would try and hold the enemy off and when they did go down fighting, it would be a costly victory for the enemy. The men
took a solemn vow to avenge their fallen comrades from
Bataan. These men were later to make the infamous
Bataan Death March.
High hopes were held by Bataan fighting men that
Corregidor would never fall. The enemy would never
The war was over for the valiant men from Bataan.
Corregidor would now take all the enemy could pour on.
The day Bataan fell, the U.S.S. Oahu led the way from
Bataan to Corregidor. Astern of the U.S.S. Oahu were
the river gunboat U.S.S. Luzon, U.S.S. Taniger, Navy
mine sweeper, U.S.S. Finch and U.S.S. Mindanao, now
head of the Navy Inshore Patrol of Manila Bay and other areas.
The U.S.S. Quail, fighting mine sweeper, maneuvered
around Bataan shores and did battle with the Japanese
artillery and land forces in the rout of Naval forces
A former U.S Army ferry boat used to transport men from Corregidor to Manila, was hit, caught on fire and sunk.
In a short while all Naval craft evacuated to
Corregidor, but not before running a quantity of shore
batteries, in which the enemy fired in a frenzied hope
of sinking the Naval forces existing.
It was a disheartening thought to be chased by a race
of people who, in all their history, never once fought
fairly. It is better that these people be called the
"Devil Dwarfs". Their only thoughts were to destroy,
kill and be craftily cruel.
The first airport in Bataan captured by the enemy was
called Real Point about 91/2 miles from
Corregidor. Soon the enemy would be able to bomb
Corregidor from the ex-American airfield. Corregidor
would be ringed from all sides and in a few days heavy
caliber-rifles would fire 240mm shells every four
seconds. The enemy believed that if they bombed and
shelled long enough, nobody would be alive on
On Fort Hughes during a heavy bombing, in which the
enemy dropped phosphorus bombs, some of them hit near
enough to contaminate a 100,000-gallon water tank that was held in reserve. This was a very serious blow and our small gun boats, which formed part of the Inshore Patrol, were kept busy every night evaporating salt water and trying to supply as many troops with water as they possibly could. Many wells were on Corregidor, but they were very brackish and hardly fit to drink. These wells were used for bathing and washing clothes earlier in the Philippine campaign. Now this water would have to be used for drinking purposes.
It was amazing to see our troops carry on in their duties in the face of merciless bombing, scanty food and
rationed water, but they always had a smile and their
thoughts were to carry out their duties to the best of
their abilities, regardless of conditions.
Some of the men had crude huts they constructed of tin and wood. Their regular barracks had been burnt out at the start of the war. These dwellings were built
alongside the railroad tracks in which the giant search lights were wheeled out to various positions.
One evening, a friend, of mine George 'Jimmy' Jamison and his rank was MM1 (machinist mate 1rst class). asked me for a little coffee and a few dried beans so he could have a little extra food to round out his meal. After giving him these items and receiving thanks, I was not to see this man again. The next day, he and other men
were blown up near their huts.
These men were all attached to the beach defense and
hardly ever left the area assigned to them except to be relieved for meals. All the men in the beach defenses performed their duties extremely well, being under heavy
bombings and exhausting conditions.
Corregidor and the other forts were taking a heavy bombing day and night, and there was some speculations to just how many days they could hold out. The Voice Of Freedom was continually broadcasting that help was on the way and to hold on. The now Japanese-held
Bataan shore batteries were blasting the little airfield on Corregidor and other installations. The huge 240mm's in the Samat Mountain Peninsula region were throwing shells day and night in an attempt to wipe out water tanks and to keep troops confined to their fox-holes and tunnels.
Our sick bay on Fort Hughes and Craig Hill were fixed
wonderfully. Telephone poles were sawed up to shore
the overhead. which was about three or four feet of
concrete. Also, barriers were built up of sand bags to
Sometimes operations were performed with Japanese shells passing overhead at the rate of one every four seconds.
The enemy was working day and night to get their plans made for the future invasion. Hundreds of landing boats would be brought from Manila and Cavite to Bataan shores and readied. The air fields at Real Point and Cab Caben were already in use by Japanese aircraft.
The Japanese army had a free balloon with a large basket attachment. They would raise this balloon about 20 feet or more in the air and study the shore batteries, installations and activities. Corregidor and the other island forts were powerless to stop this practice, as none of their guns could fire the 91/2 miles to Real Point. Corregidor's big guns could only fire towards the sea. In using the free balloon
practice, the Japanese artillery was able to pick off most of the Naval and Army craft in the harbor.
It was a sinking feeling and morale-breaker to know we were slowly being annihilated by our enemy, who had all the advantages and protection in his favor. If our
forces had the proper guns and air support, we could have driven the Japanese away from Bataan and Corregidor forever.
When the enemy would try and invade Corregidor, United States forces would resist to the end. Headquarters Command thought the first moonless night, the enemy would try their stuff. At various times at night flashlights could be seen blinking on and off as though somebody was sending messages from Fort Hughes and
Corregidor to Japanese forces in Bataan.
On our own Fort Hughes, many times soldiers would fire at these lights blinking on and off. Many of these
lights would quickly go out as if the blinker had been
hit or nearly hit.
U.S. Army 680 boats, manned by Filipino crews and some
U.S. Navy men, played a vital part in the defense of
the forts in the Manila Bay. These little tugs would
tow lighters and carry food and equipment between the
forts, running the risk of Japanese gunfire and
dive-bombers from Bataan.
Every day a huge bulldozer driven by a Navy man or
soldier on Fort Mills, Corregidor, was very busy
clearing and enlarging the small air field on that
island. Rumors were that just as soon as the field was made large enough, B-25's and other planes badly needed by our forces would arrive from Australia and China.
This rumor helped a lot to bolster morale and great
things were thought of what good U.S. bombers could do
to the enemy, who were busy as beavers preparing Bataan for their springboard to invade Corregidor and other
The Voice of Freedom was continually broadcasting
information and news from the United States, Australia
and London. Japanese bombers coming over Corregidor
would drop a great load of bombs on the small air field, but never caused a great deal of damage. The lone man on the bulldozer would be back on the job leveling off
the huge craters left by the bombs.
A large lighter of Enfield rifles was sunk in shallow
waters very close to Corregidor. Many Naval vessels
sent small boats and launches to the sunken lighter and volunteer crews would dive for these rifles, which were packed in cosmoline, which made them for a certain
period very durable and impregnable to water.
Several thousand rifles were recovered and put back
into use. Some of these rifles helped stop many
Japanese. These rifles were the 1903-30 caliber bolt-action type.
American submarines were bringing ammunition and medical supplies to Corregidor. On the return trip to Australia or some U.S. port, certain groups of men would be evacuated; mostly aviation men and some officers. I believe the biggest part of the men wanted to stay and help fight against the Devil Dwarfs but they also figured that some day we can fly over Bataan and other Japanese-held positions and bomb them out and avenge our comrades.
Most of the officers left on Corregidor were U.S.
Reserves and some were U.S. Navy men. The Japanese Army was now getting their invasion forces ready for the
assault on Corregidor.
All our beach defenses were reinforced and were ready
to resist any Japanese landings. After a severe
pounding and with the loss of 90 percent of the
invasion barges, the enemy made their first landing.
The initial invasion was expected May 5, 1942. The
night picked for the landing was perfect. No moon and
plenty of darkness.
The invasion took place at 0130 a.m., May 6, 1942, with only 18 Japanese soldiers reaching Corregidor out of at least 2,000 men. Cross-fire, 12-inch howitzers and
deadly fire from beach defenses all but wiped out the Japanese invasion force. As soon as the enemy landed, they fired green rocket lights and another force left
Bataan for Corregidor. This force also lost very heavily, but effected a landing.
They also fired a green light, and another force was
on the way from Bataan to Corregidor. It was said that no tanks could ever scale Corregidor's steep slopes, but the Japanese tanks did succeed in climbing the slopes and quickly took the main road heading for the tunnels that some American soldiers were holding.
Many of the Japanese tanks were blown up by Filipino
155 batteries, but some of them made it to the entrance of Malinta Tunnel and the others ordered all men outside to surrender. This order to surrender was
passed and the men came out under a white flag.
Previous to the surrender of Corregidor, General
Wainwright had been negotiating for a conditional
surrender, but only unconditional surrender was
proposed by the Japanese.
Now General Wainwright had passed the word for all men
to lay down their arms and surrender -- the hardest
thing a man could do. Any further fighting would
only cause needless bloodshed.
This happened at 12:00 noon, May 6, 1942. Although the white flag was flying at Fort Hughes and was plainly visible at 0900 a.m., May 7, an anti-aircraft battery
was blown up, killing eleven men and injuring two. One
was an American soldier who was riddled with shrapnel
and died two hours after being dug out from the anti-aircraft battery. Also a Filipino soldier who had his ankle broken and lacerations of the body.
The enemy was trying to wipe out any signs of
resistance and kill as many men as possible. On
Corregidor, plenty of trouble was brewing. A large
force of Japanese Imperial Marines, who were big,
tough, and brutal, forced 300 U.S. soldiers and
Filipinos to line up, strip and prepare to be
forced to jump to their deaths from a 60 foot cliff
near one of the tunnels. Only the quick thinking of a
Japanese officer stopped the Marines. After much
arguing, the men were saved. The men quickly retrieved
their clothing but many lost them, for they were not
able to get their own clothing and the men who had
nothing before now had money, watches and extra