The Fourth Marines at Corregidor
Corregidor and Bataan will forever be, in American memory, synonymous with painful pride-pain in the worst defeat ever inflicted upon American arms, pride in the courage of the men who fought and died in the jungles of the Philippines.
To most Americans the First Philippine Campaign is inextricably linked with the names of MacArthur and Wainwright and with the traditions and the valor of the United States Army. But few know of the major role played in that campaign-particularly in the defense of Corregidor-by the 4th Regiment of the United States Marine Corps.
The 4th Marines, "old China hands" of the prewar years, was responsible for all of the beach defenses of Corregidor, and some of its men fought on the other tiny fortified islands in the entrance to Manila Bay and on Bataan in those opening actions, four and a half years ago of the greatest war in history. The story of the Fourth never has been fully told, indeed may never be, for two-thirds of its officers, most of its men, died as Japanese prisoners of war or were killed in action on "The Rock." This, then, is the story of the Fourth, gathered from returned prisoners of war and official Marine Corps records, an incomplete story but one which will forever form an imperishable chapter of the Corps.
The 4th Marines, organized in 1914 for duty in Mexico by then Col Joseph H. Pendleton, was assigned to Shanghai in 1927 after eight years service in Santo Domingo. It was as well known to the international community in Shanghai as the Bund itself, and for all those troubled years during the Japanese aggressions in China it was a stabilizing influence in a community where death and disorder were commonplace. The men of the Fourth were no strangers to war; they had witnessed the Chapei fighting and had seen bloated corpses floating in Soochow Creek; in the last months before the storm broke, they had learned-by firm measures-to cope with a series of Japanese incidents, deliberately manufactured provocations and aggressions.
But it was clear as 1941 drew to its end that war was imminent and that the 4th Marines in Shanghai and the "Legation Guard" in Peiping and Tientsin' would be cut oil and captured unless withdrawn from a China already dominated by Japan. On 28 November the Regiment inarched with its "music" down Bubbling Well Road-the drums rolling and the thousands cheering-to the docks.
With the Regiment -commanded by Col (now MajGen) Samuel L. Howard-went the praise of the Inernational Settlement for a job well done:
". . . the Fourth Marines (American Consul E. F. Stanton wrote) have been a stabilizing influence in the International Settlement and have been of the utmost assistance to the Shanghai Municipal Council in the maintenance of law and order and the handling of many complicated problems which have arisen from time to time."
"The tact, the resourcefulness, the efficiency and the devotion to duty, always displayed by the Fourth Marines, and their success in contributing toward the preservation, of peace and order here, will always . . . be remembered with sincere gratitude . . . and will constitute a fine record of achievement in the Regiment's annals."
(Poul Scheel, Consul General for Denmark and Senior Consul).
It was a filling send-off for a proud Regiment -that march to the docks, but it was the end of the "best duty in the world" for the old "China-hands," and many of the marines were sad-faced and sombre and the White Russian girls and the little Chinese beauties came out of the cafes and nightclubs and wept. And the waving flags and drumming music could not hide the sense of impending doom; just before the marines left their Shanghai billets for the last time, a Chinese surreptitiously took a letter out of his sleeve and handed it to a sentry. It read:
"Me and my brother work for Japanese mililary. They are planning to sink your ships. . . ."
THE Japanese in Shanghai did all they could-short of the use of force-to delay the Fourth's departure. Garden Bridge over Soochow Creek was closed to traffic; Chinese customs authorities at Japanese instigation demanded that all the Marines' supplies pass through customs, and coolies loading the lighters struck three times during one night. But CinC, Asiatic, saw the storm gathering and ordered the evacuation expedited.
The 2d Bn plus half of the Headquarters and Service Co and half of the regimental hospital embarked aboard the SS President Madison on 27 November, and sailed at 1600. The next day the remainder of the Regiment, and a large number of civilian refugees, including women and children, boarded the SS President Harrison-the conversion of which to troop use had not been completed-and sailed at 1400 as thousands of Chinese, waving Chinese and American flags, lined the shores of the river. Embarked on the two ships, hound for the Philippines, were about 766 marines (the strength of the Regiment purposely had been allowed to drop during its last year in Shanghai)." Left behind, attached to the American Consulate, to pay bills and terminate leases were LtCol (then QM Clerk) Paul G. Chandler and two clerks. It was the end of an era in China.
The trip to the Philippines, despite threats and alarms, was largely uneventful. Marine radio operators took over the ships' sets and copied down the chattering, uneasy news of a world on the edge of catastrophe. Jap destroyers steamed menacingly close and followed the transports for a short time. Japanese planes flew over and around the ships. Thirty caliber machine guns were mounted for AA defense and the liners were blacked out at night. Jap freighters, northbound, changed course to pass close aboard. Two American submarines picked up the liners on the 29th and escorted them southward, as storm clouds piled up in the Orient.
The Regiment arrived at Olongapo, naval station on Subic Bay on Luzon, on 30 November and 1 December 1941. "Two lighter loads of supplies were taken off each ship on the morning of arrival; remaining supplies were taken: to Manila and were trucked back to Olongapo."' The Regiment went into billets-temporary wooden barracks, half-completed-and under canvas. Col Howard, after a trip to Manila, was. informed the Regiment was needed to guard the naval stations on Luzon, particularly the new section base at Mariveles. The "CO" commenced to make his dispositions but they were never completed. At about 0400, 8 December, the Regiment heard the stirring notes of the "Call to Arms" and learned of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
The Regiment immediately absorbed the Barracks Detachment of the Naval Station, Olongapo; a third platoon was organized for each rifle company; Cos C and G organized, and the regimental band transformed into a rifle platoon. The 1st Bn moved to Mariveles to guard that base and help unload naval supplies. Around Olongapo foxholes were dug, wire strung, road blocks established, AA guns set up, beach defenses of Subic Bay commenced and terrain reconnaissance started. After 9 December only two meals a day were served - "breakfast before daylight and dinner after dark," and the blackout was strictly enforced.
It was well, for the Regiment got its baptism of fire at Olongapo and Mariveles. On 12 December Jap fighter planes destroyed seven PBYs-sitting ducks in the harbor-and on 13 December the Naval station was bombed; 13 civilians were killed and 40 wounded in the town of Olongapo, and the Regiment's field hospital, a mile out of town and plainly marked with red crosses, was straddled. The hospital was shifted to a well-concealed area in the hills, and the Tokyo radio announced that the 4th Marines had been "annihilated."
The Marines' antiaircraft defenses of Olongapo, consisted-in those first raids-of only a few .30 caliber Brownings, but everyone fired everything they had whenever the Jap planes dived and strafed. In one raid, Capt (then QM Clerk) Frank W. Ferguson recalls, two marines with BARs had a position of vantage atop the station water tower.
Those weeks of December 1941 were days of intensive rumor, back-breaking toil on foxholes and defenses; and constant alterations of orders and missions as the Japanese forces landed on Luzon and pressed toward Manila. Wires to the naval station at Olongapo were cut by saboteurs and all Japanese civilians in the Olongapo area were rounded up and turned over to the Army provost marshal in Manila.
There were intermittent bombings of the area as Christmas drew near, and the Regiment suffered its first dead-two marines killed and several wounded-when a Jap bomb struck the French ship Sikiang which was anchored off Mariveles.
Shortly before Christmas, Gen Douglas MacArthur, commanding all U. S. Army Forces in the Far East, requested Adm Thomas C. Hart, commanding the Asiatic Fleet, to transfer the "powerful, veteran 4th Marines" to his command, and on Christmas Eve, when Col "Sam" Howard reported at Navy headquarters in Manila, he was told that the Fourth had been transferred to Army Command for "such tactical control and employment as he (Gen MacArthur) may desire in the defense of Luzon." Col Howard quickly found out on that sad Christmas Eve that the whole structure of American power in the Orient was falling to bits under Japan's sledgehammer blows. Manila was being evacuated; Gen MacArthur was transferring his headquarters to Corregidor; Adm Hart was leaving by submarine; on all fronts the mixed American-Filipino forces were falling back toward Bataan.
Col Howard reported to Gen MacArthur for duty. "He was very cordial," Howard noted later, "and directed that I report to his chief of staff, Gen Sutherland, for orders. On reporting to Gen Sutherland he directed the 4th Marines proceed to Corregidor and take over the beach defenses of that island.
"I told him (Howard continues) of my reconnaissance of Balaan and suggested that the 4th Marines might first be employed advantageously in defending the beaches from Bagac Bay to Mariveles until such time as other troops could be made available for this purpose. He replied that he wanted the 4th Marines to take over the beach defenses of Corregidor as soon as practicable."
The move southward started, and as the last echelons of the Regiment moved toward Mariveles, Col Howard received orders on Christmas morning to expedite the destruction of the Olongapo Naval Station and to retire into Bataan. Fort Wint on Subic Bay was being evacuated; the 45th Infantry, Philippine Scouts, and the 31st Division, Philippine Army, had been pulled back into Bataan, and Co F and a small motor transport and QM detachment of the 4th Marines were the last organized American force on Luzon west of Zambales mountains and north of Bataan.
On 26 December the last of the Fourth pulled out, but it left behind at Olongapo flaming ruins, testimonials to the demolition capabilities of Maj (then Capt) Francis H. (Joe) Williams. The obsolete armored cruiser New York with a proud record from another war, which had been used as a station ship at Olongapo, was towed into the deep-water channel in Subic Bay and her bottom blown out with depth charges; the concrete patrol plane ramp was blown up; stocks of gasoline and oil were destroyed and all buildings and equipment that could not be evacuated were burned or destroyed.
The Marines moved back to Mariveles and, then, in three increments, on three successive nights, 27 to 29 December, the Regiment, with attached personnel-"six months' rations for 2,000 men, over ten units of fire for all weapons, two years' supply of summer clothing, and medicines and equipment [or a 100-bed hospital" shifted across the channel to Corregidor, the famed but ill-named "Gibraltar of the East."
That old song of the China station was prophetic. . . .
"Oh, we won't go back to Subic anymore. . . ."
THE Japanese plan for conquest of the Philippines was well thought out, but at least in its land phases not always brilliantly executed. But it opposed strength to weakness-and the Japs knew it. For years our "Orange" war plans had envisaged withdrawal into Bataan and the fortified islands at the entrance to Manila Bay; yet in December 1941 there were not even field fortifications on Bataan; the section naval base at Mariveles was far from finished; and although the Philippines lie close to the greatest quinine producing area in the world, there was a grossly inadequate supply of that drug in the Army's stores on Luzon.
To the Japs, Malaya and Singapore were the No. 1 objectives, but the Philippines were secondary only to these goals. The enemy was somewhat alarmed by the slow build-up of American air strength^sup 3^ they had been informed that the United States had 900 planes in the islands, but a Jap photo-reconnaissance plane-apparently flying at such height that it was never detected-really won the Philippine campaign for Japan in the late days of November before a shot was fired. The enemy plane photographed carefully and spotted our principal plane concentrations in the islands, and as a result the Japanese revised their estimates of our air strength downward to 300 planes and made careful plans for destroying them on the ground in early morning 8 December (7 December, Pearl Harbor time). Bad weather intervened, and the first actual bombing attacks were made between noon and 1300. But 172 planes, all long-range naval planes based on Formosa, participated and the result was still the same - surprise, and unprecedented execution among our "sitting ducks." Other determined raids, from Formosa, eventually bolstered by short-range Jap Army planes based at Aparri, Batan Island (off northern Luzon) and other landing fields captured in the first invasions, quickly followed up the enemy's initial advantage. Within a week American air power in the Philippines had been almost destroyed, at a cost to the Japanese of some 30 planes; the remnants of our heavy bombers were fleeing south, and from then until the end, the American forces fought virtually without "eyes."
Land invasions quickly followed the air blows. Orders for the invasion had reached LtGen Masaharu Homma on Formosa on 20 November 1941, eighteen days before Pearl Harbor, but Japanese Formosan forces had actually commenced training for the invasion in March 1941.
The Japanese second Fleet, under ViceAdm Kondo, earmarked for support of the Southwestern Pacific operations, rendezvoused in the Inland Sea about the middle of November, sortied on the 23rd, and proceeded to Formosa where it received word of D-Day. This fleet (fleet organization in the Japanese Navy was. flexible and strengths varied greatly) originally consisted of the battleships Haruna and Kongo,. and the heavy cruisers Takao, Atago, Chokai, and Maya, but it was reenforced for the operation by other cruisers and light vessels. The main body, which acted only in general support, consisted of the two battleships, two heavy cruisers, and four destroyers.
The Philippine Island group, divided into four kisk forces for close support, transport protection, and other duties, consisted of six heavy cruisers, three light cruisers, 46 destroyers, and auxiliary vessels. The Eleventh Air Fleet (Naval), with headquarters in Takao. Formosa, supported the Philippine operation with about 300 planes, land-based on Formosa. About 150 Japanese Army planes, based on Formosa, also supported the Philippine operations, but until air bases in the Philippines were seized, the range of the Army planes did not permit them to operate over Central Luzon or the Manila-Bataan area. After the invasion, Army air units from Formosa moved to Laoag and Vigan, but the fields were unusable and the Jap planes subsequently based on captured Clark and Nichols Fields.
Jap plans for the Philippine Campaign contemplated sudden attacks, swift destruction of American air power, and multiple landings on Luzon and in the Davao area of Mindanao, with the main landings in the Lingayen Gulf and Lamon Bay areas.
The Jap Third Fleet, which consisted of the actual transports, supply ships (about 60 in number), minesweepers, invasion forces, and supporting naval craft (cruisers, destroyers, and submarines) with the heavy cruiser Ashigara as flagship, was based on Formosa and Palau. That section of it which conducted the northwestern invasions of Luzon, sortied from Formosa early 10 December and made their first landing at Aparri the same day. Another landing at Vigan quickly followed. There was virtually no opposition, except sporadic attacks by a few American planes, which cost the Aparri force one sub-chaser and one transport sunk.
The United States quickly claimed that Capt Colin P. Kelly, Jr. in a B-17 bomber had sunk the Japanese battleship Haruna and Kelly was subsequently awarded posthumously a Distinguished Service Cross. But the Haruna, actually sunk three years later at the war's end at Kure, Japan, was not even attacked; she was in the support force of the Second Fleet far from the Philippine coastline. Kelly may have bombed the heavy cruiser Ashigara, but she was not damaged.
Forces Palau conducted the invasions of southeastern Luzon (the Japs landed at Legaspi on 11 December) and of Mindanao, and on 22 December, one of the largest Japanese landings took place, as expected, at Lingayen Gulf.
But by then American forces, woefully inadequate in number, equipment, and training for defense of the vast Luzon coastline, were hopelessly split and dispersed. Many of the Jap landing places had been anticipated but the number of them and their timing-and the pincer move of the enemy from north and south-put the small American forces in a hopeless strategic position. This was particularly true since the defense of the Philippines had been based primarily upon the Philippine Army, which was large on paper but short on quality. Most of its men had had only five and a half months training; most of its units were still being mobilized when the Jap attacks came; officers were insufficient in number and quality; equipment was lacking; and the Philippine idea of discipline was rudimentary. Most of the Jap landings were virtually unopposed and many of the Filipino "divisions" from which so much had been hoped, virtually melted away into the hills (some of them to become guerrillas, most to return to their homes) soon after the first shots were fired.
So, sooner than had been expected, Manila was declared an open city and evacuated, and the forces of the United States pulled back into the jungles of Bataan and the water-girt fortresses in the mouth of Manila Bay.
With the 4th Marines' shift to Corregidor, the Regiment absorbed another Philippine Marine unit-the 1st Separate Bn-which already had been bathed in fire during the Japanese bombing of Cavite Navy Yard on 11 December, and in a subsequent Jap air attack on 19 December, on the Sangley Point air station. The 1st Separate Bn from Cavite, became on Corregidor, the 3d Bn, 4th Marines thus increasing the strength of the Regiment to 65 officers, 7 warrants and 1,490 enlisted men.
Several small Marine detachments - the strength of which varied from time to time-remained on Bataan, but were attached for purposes of administration to the Regiment. Btrys A and C-about 8 officers and 226 Marines, 3-inch AA, originally part of the Cavite detachment-were incorporated in the AA defense of Bataan and performed various other duties, despite a pitiful shortage of guns and equipment. Btry A, under 1stLt William F. Hogaboom, served for a time as guard for Ordnance Headquarters on Bataan^sup 4^, and, when relieved later by a detachment from the 2d Bn on Corregidor (1stLt Ralph C. Mann, Jr., commanding) Btry A joined the special Naval battalion on Bataan, manned AA guns, trained naval personnel and served as the experience cadre of the makeshift outfit. Btry A participated with the Naval Bn, and mortar and machine gun sections from Cos D and H, 4th Marines (the latter specially sent over from Corregidor), in the small scale but bitter actions in late January to wipe out Japanese landing parties which had pushed ashore behind our lines at Lapiay and Longoskawayan Points. This battery remained on Bataan until mid-February, when part of its personnel was transferred to Btry C as replacements, and the rest went to Corregidor to bolster the Regiment. Btry C remained on Bataan until the end, when most of its personnel escaped to Corregidor. Lt Mann's Army headquarters guard of two officers and 40 marines was cut off and captured when Bataan surrendered.
In addition to these forces, a Marine Detachment, Air Raid Warning Service, consisting of 32 enlisted marines, one Navy hospital corpsman, one Filipino cook-all under Lt Lester A. Schade and Marine Gunner John T. Brainard operated a Navy radio transmitter and receiver all over Bataan peninsula from soon after the beginning of the war until the end on Bataan on 9 April 1942. This small detachment, from which nine men escaped to Corregidor at the time of Bataan's surrender, was under bombardment from planes and artillery frequently but kept in action until the last and then destroyed its equipment.
In addition to manning the beach defenses of Corregidor and bolstering the defense of Bataan, the Marines also furnished men for many odd military "job-lots" in and around the fortified islands in the mouth of Manila Bay. By direction of MajGen G. F. Moore, commending the coast defense posts on the fortified islands, the following details were assigned to the Marines:
Btry Indiana-four .50 caliber AA machine guns, Lt James W. Keene and 38 enlisted men, operating under Col Chase, CAC, commanding AA defense of Corregidor.
Fort Drum (the so-called) "concrete battleship" on El Fraile Island, a sub-post of Corregidor)-two .50 caliber AA machine guns and 14 enlisted men.
Fort Hughes (on Caballo Island)-Eight .30 caliber machine guns; four .50 caliber machine guns; Lt Frederic N. Hagan, Jr., Lt Julian V. Lyon and 83 enlisted men, in charge, initially, of the beach defenses of Fort Hughes. Subsequently Comdr Frank Bridget, who had commanded the Naval Bn on Bataan, was appointed to command the beach defenses, with Maj Stuart W. King as his technical advisor and "exec." About 440 bluejackets and 28 naval officers were eventually added to the beach defenses and batteries of Fort Hughes.
These Marine detachments on the outlying islands were gradually increased.
Thus, the Marines in the Philippines, with the 4th Regiment as the nucleus of their tactical and administrative effort, undertook a variety of duties and fought in nearly all the areas of Luzon still in American control from December until the bitter end.
But the bulk of the Regiment was concentrated on Corregidor-"The Rock"-nerve centre of the American effort, citadel of American hopes, and the Marines were the only beach defense troops the fortress had.
It did not take the Japs long to welcome the Marines to the Rock. On those first nights in late December, the Fourth was billeted in Middleside Barracks. Only a few hours after their arrival, the Japanese staged the first of more than 300 air raids on Corregidor. It was a heavy attack, and Middleside Barracks were a particular target. But the Regiment was lucky. The barracks were three story structures of solid concrete construction and the bombs the Japs used were small. The marines huddled on the first floor, and most of the bombs blew through only to the second. The Japs scored four direct hits and many close misses; the barracks were pretty well wrecked, but only one man was killed-a corporal who was in charge of quarters and who was inspecting the third deck to see that no marines were left there.
The island was well plastered in the raid; a freighter, anchored off the little dock was hit and belched flames and smoke, and the tiny narrow-gauge railway was damaged.
The raid on the 29th lasted much of the day; after it was over, the Regiment dispersed to beach defense positions all over the tadpole-shaped island.
Col Howard reported, as ordered, to MajGen G. F. Moore, commanding the harbor defenses of Manila and Subic Bays and of Fort Mills (Corregidor). Gen Moore appointed Col Howard commanding officer of the beach defenses, Corregidor, relieving LtCol D. Ausmus, CAC, whose defense dispositions, because of lack of personnel, had had to be largely paper ones.
Col Ausmus became artillery officer for the beach defenses, and the following organization was established:
East Sector-From Malinta Hill (inclusive) to the tail of the island; 1st Bn, 4th Marines, LtCol Curtis T. Beecher, commanding-20 officers, 367 enlisted.
Middle Sector-From Malinta Hill (exclusive) to a line from Morrison Hill (inclusive) to Government Ravine (inclusive) 3d Bn (less detachment); LtCol John P. Adams, commanding 20 officers, 490 enlisted.
West Sector-From a line running from Morrison Hill to Government Ravine (both exclusive) to the west end of the island-2d Bn; LtCol Herman R. Anderson, commanding 18 officers, 324 enlisted.
General Reserve-Bivouac area-Government Ravine-Headquarters and Service Co (less detachments); Maj Max W. Schaeffer, commanding, 8 officers, 183 enlisted.
"Battalion messes were established in each sector and the General Reserve area," Col Howard reported, "and work on beach defenses initiated by 4th Marine personnel."
A CONSIDERABLE amount of work had been done on the West and Middle Sectors before the Marines reached Corregidor, but very little in the vulnerable East Sector, except for concrete trenches along a so-called "final defense line" on the east side of Malinta Hill. Artillery and machine gun positions had to be relocated; many new ones established, and the marines turned to on the back-breaking toil of stringing miles of barbed wire, building bomb chutes over the cliffs, placing makeshift land mines, digging foxholes and establishing trench lines.
From 30 December until the end the marines bivouaced, messed, slept, and worked in the foxholes, caves, trenches and beach defenses to which they were assigned.
"During the months of January, February and March," Col Howard later reported, "a tremendous amount of engineering work was accomplished in spite of at least five daily air raids, and from about 7 February on, artillery shelling from the Cavite shore. Over 20 miles of barbed wire was strung in the East Sector alone. Tank traps and barriers, land mines, water mines, cable barriers in the North and South Dock inlets, trenches, dugouts, tunnels, gun emplacements having concrete splinter proof roofs, interior and switch positions, final defense lines in sectors, cleared "fields of fire" and anti-parachute defenses were constructed.
Only a few hardy souls maintained their bivouacs in the wrecked Middleside Barracks. Maj Reginald H. Ridgely, Jr., who throughout the siege performed logistical prodigies, had dispersed the Regiment's supplies all over the Rock in small dumps-"the only answer to the intensive aerial bombings of the enemy." One of these dumps was located in the Middleside Barracks, and QM Clerk Ferguson and a number of his QM personnel took up quarters on the first floor of the half-ruined barracks.
CORREGIDOR, a rugged, rocky island, with three high hills-the highest rising to 550 feet-and a low flat tadpole-shaped "tail" to the east, is about four miles long and a mile and a half wide at its extremities. It was covered at the beginning of the siege with tropic verdure, and it stood out green and glowing against the lovely background of Manila Bay. The Rock was famous as a fortress, but it was built in the days when the plane was not a menace, and, like Singapore, its designers had anticipated that the main assault would come from the sea-not from the nearby shores of Bataan. Its coast defense guns-up to 12 inches in she, supplemented by the 14-inch guns of Fort Drum and Fort Frank on the nearby islets-El Fraile and Carabao-were rather well sited to repel an attack by naval vessels, but were of little use against land targets5. Its 3-inch antiaircraft guns, with an obsolescent fire control system, were too few, too small, and too old to be very effective against modern, high-flying bombers.
Above all, the island's water supply was totally inadequate, and much of it came by barges from Sisiman Cove on Bataan. The power plant was too small and was exposed-above ground-to enemy attack, and communication wires were strung on the surface or so close to the surface that they were severed repeatedly by enemy shells and bombs. Moreover, contrary to popular reports, there were no gun galleries cut into the solid rock; nearly all of the main battery positions were open and exposed-protected only by concrete barbettes or sand bags.
Malinta Tunnel, which was gouged by a farseeing general through the 400 foot mass of Malinta Hill, gave a protected route of access from the eastern to the western portions of Corregidor. A small railroad ran through it. Tunnel laterals opening off it, provided protected hospital space, ammunition stowage, and headquarters and communications offices. These laterals took their names from the activities housed in them; viz-the "Ordnance Lateral," etc.
There were initially considerable supplies of food and of ammunition, but fresh foods were very scarce; there was the monotony of sameness about the diet, and there were acute shortages of AA ammunition and large antipersonnel mortar shells.
Corregidor, in other words, was vulnerable and the marines knew it.
FROM 29 December on through the early days of January, the Rock was bombed almost continuously. Most of the buildings were smashed; the island's little railroad was torn up; Btry Smith (12-inch guns, barbette carriage), and Btry Way (12-inch mortars) were damaged, and several supply dumps damaged or burned. Between 7 and 11 January there was a brief lull in the bombing attacks-with intermittent raids thereafter, but with alarms or raids several times a day. The AA gunners did their best, but the Japs sometimes flew out of range, and at best there were only a few seconds when the guns bore. But it was comforting to the defenders' morale to hear the sharp bark of the "sky" guns, and occasionally-remarkably often, considering the obsolescent guns, ammunition and fire control-a Jap bomber plummeted into the Bay, or disappeared behind the hills of the mainland, trailing smoke.
In late January, a submarine-one of several to run the blockade-brought in 3,000 rounds of AA ammunition and took out 20 tons of gold and silver-still paradoxically precious in the eyes of government, even when men were dying and wasting away.
On the Rock, the marines worked and sweated, grew lean and bronzed and tense; at nearly any point on the island, there was a bomb crater within 25 yards.
In mid-January, things were not going well on Bataan. Much of the food intended for the frontline troops never reached them; some of it was diverted by undisciplined Filipino QM truck drivers (of the Philippine Army) to some of the 60,000 Filipino civilian refugees who had taken shelter behind our lines on Bataan. The Jap pressure-though not large-scale-was constant; there was little sleep; morale was dropping. That mixed assortment of the I and II Corps-Regular Army. National Guardsmen, Filipinos-were beginning to understand they were cut off, isolated. . . .
"Where the hell's the Navy?"
"What's the matter hack home?"
On Bataan, in mid-January, the end was not yet, but the men were beginning to see dimly the despairing visage of defeat.
So one of the most controversial orders in history was issued:
Fort Mills, P. I.,
Jan. 15, 1942.
Subject: Message from General MacArthur
To: All Unit Commanders.
"The following message from Gen MacArthur will be read and explained to all troops. Every company commander is charged with personal responsibility for the delivery of this message. Each headquarters will follow up to insure reception by every company or similar unit.
" 'Help is on the way from the United States. Thousands of troops and hundreds of planes are being dispatched. The exact time of arrival of reinforcements is unknown as they will have to fight their way through Japanese attempts against them. It is imperative that our troops hold until these reinforcements arrive.
" 'No further retreat is possible. We have more troops in Bataan than the Japanese have thrown against us; our supplies are ample; a determined defense will defeat the enemy's attack.
" 'It is a question now of courage and determination. Men who run will merely be destroyed but men who fight will save themselves and their country.
" 'I call upon every soldier in Bataan to fight in his assigned position, resisting every attack. This is the only road to salvation. If we fight we will win; if we retreat we will be destroyed.
By command of General MacArthur"
The order briefly raised the hopes of some but was an ultimate depressant-since its promise of aid could never be kept. Capt John W. Clark wrote that "by the middle of January it had become apparent that ours was a holding scrap out here, with no hope of reinforcement or aid. . . ."
And soon others saw this was so; even the marines on Corregidor felt an ominous sense of foreboding.
On the Rock they scanned the skies and the tropic seas to westward, but the only planes they saw bore the "fried egg" insignia of Japan upon their wings, and the only reinforcements they received were the casuals and the stragglers, the broken units of Bataan. and the bloody wounded, crowding now into the tunnel laterals of Malinta.
IN early February, the Japanese commenced intermittent shelling of Corregidor with 105s and later with 150s and 240s emplaced on high ground on the Cavite shore. For days, the bombardments were regular as clock work; the Japs took advantage of the rising sun and morning haze, so that it was difficult to spot their gun positions. The air raids-more sporadic and less dangerous than the shelling-halted briefly, and when they resumed a gallant but vain attempt to increase Corregidor's antiaircraft effectiveness was made by fusing the 670-pound shells of the island's 12-inch mortars with the AA mechanical fuze.
The marines accustomed themselves to the new bombardment, but meal hours became more irregular, and the shadows deepened across the furrowed rocky face of Corregidor and the lined faces of its defenders. The work increased-for ordnance repairmen, medicos, signal corps. QMs.
"Telephone communications were always out after the initial shelling prior to 10 each day." Col Stephen M. Mellnik of the Coast Artillery wrote. "Communication sections would repair the lines by midnight, and by 10 the following day the lines would be out again. . . ."
THE 4th Regiment was no longer the trim, spruce outfit that had won the applause of thousands along the Shanghai Bund just a few short weeks before. Bombing and bombardment had etched deep lines in their faces, and their bellies were never full. The lack of vitamin A in their diet gave them night blindness; the sentries stumbled in the darkness. The marines slept rolled in blankets in their foxholes, shaved when they could and many bathed at night by crawling through the barbed wire of the beach defenses and swimming in the salt, oil -flecked waters of the bay. The 2d Platoon of Co A found a spring near Cavalry Point, but it was the dry season and its waters quickly gave out.
As the days went by the 4th Marines absorbed more and more casuals and stragglers. Filipino mess boys called back to active service from the Fleet Reserve, some members of the Philippine Army Air Corps, bluejackets who had lost their ships, and army personnel who had lost their batteries-all these were assimilated into the beach defenses of Corregidor, and trained by the 4th Marines.
The back-breaking program of strengthening the beach defenses with man-made obstacles was followed day after day, despite continuous bombardment.
Robert F. Jenkins. Jr., now a lieutenant colonel, then a first lieutenant and CO of the 2d Platoon of Co A, recalled those terrible hours of endurance in the "hot sultry days" when the marines, dispersed thinly at beach defense positions, tried to strengthen the defenses of an island already doomed.
"Dummy positions were constructed to trick the enemy. We stretched out what little barbed wire we had along the rocky beaches.'' Col Jenkins reported.
"The beaches were covered with debris and oil washed ashore from bombed ships and barges in Manila Bay. We found life preservers, lumber, pieces of life boats, empty crates, a rotting piece of a human arm, and, strangely enough, several wooden rifles. A partially damaged barge loaded with cans of corned beef, tomatoes and dried fruit drifted ashore. We salvaged whal we could and added to our battalion stores. . . .
"When we finished our thin line of defensive positions along the beach, we started preparing positions in depth. We didn't have the men to man them-yet! They were for the men who were to come. The help that was on the way!
"As we got more barbed wire, we added to our barricades. We made double apron fences from our single ones, but still could have used more.
"We dug tank traps with pick and shovel. We took care of our tools like precious gems. It was almost impossible to replace them and the ground was rocky and rough on them. We made Molotov bombs out of old bottles filled with a mixture of oil and gasoline. . . .
"There were less sand bags than we needed to build positions. We collected discarded powder cans of all sizes from 3-inch to 12-inch ones. These were filled with dirt and used in place of sand hags. They were not as good but added more protection.
"On Cavalry Point beach there were the remains of a large store of gasoline. Jap bombs had hit it in one of the early raids and fire had destroyed all the gasoline which had been stored there in 50-gallon drums. There were great heaps of rusty exploded drums. We made tank obstacles out of some of these drums, filling them with dirt and rock and emplacing them on the approaches from the beach.
". . . the Army had dumped a number of small size personnel bombs near B Company's positions. We planned to use these, too, if necessary. At places where there were high cliffs above the narrow, rocky beaches on the south shore wooden chutes were constructed so that when the bombs slid down the chute they would burst on the rocks below. . . ."
Some of the defense positions had to be hacked with bolo knives out of the thick jungle vegetation, for Corregidor at the beginning of the siege, was densely overgrown. Monkeys who pilfered soap and flashlights chattered and swung from the long lianas, and there were even a few small deer on the island. But they died quickly beneath the shells and bombs, and the deer provided a welcome addition to a meagre diet.
A rifle range was built on which to train the green recruits from other services. A range and even rudimentary training in the care of a rifle were badly needed, for many of the recruits from Corregidor were that in truth. The Filipinos, armed with Enfield rifles, used their old training-type gas mask cases as musette hags, and they had no idea of rifle maintenance. Some of the rifles were so clogged with dirt before the marines commenced their training program that cleaning rods could scarcely be forced through the bores. But rifle practice was not to last for long. The Japanese shelling became too accurate.
Reconnaissance patrols familiarized the Fourth's officers with every foot of the Rock. During the day many of the officers and noncoms carried out their regular duties, and in late afternoon and early evening the training program-in elementary combat principles-was conducted. Some units varied this routine; infantry combat tactics by squad, platoon, and company were taught in the mornings; foxholes were dug in the afternoons; officers' schools were conducted at night. It was a grim schedule. Each night the beaches had to be guarded-and always there were the shells and the bombs. Enough sleep, like food, was a dim memory.
ON Bataan, as the weeks dragged on, the field hospitals were full; many of the patients mumbled in the grip of the shivering ague and the hot delirium of malaria. Dengue and dysentery were spreading; sleeplessness and hopelessness and hunger made potential victims of all of the Army of Bataan. Sleeplessness was part of the Japanese pattern; all night long the tropic dark flickered with the lightning of the guns and the detonation of the enemy's heavy mortar shells murdered rest.
There was little reflection of this situation in the papers in the States. The official communiques spoke v a g u e l y of "heavy Jap losses. " The headquarters of Gen MacArthur on Corregidor-in an announcement broadcast throughout the world-pictured LtGen Masaharu Homma - then the Japanese commander of the forces besieging Luzon (who was actually executed for war crimes after the Japanese defeat four years later) as dying under a hari-kari knife, "disgraced by his defeats."7
There was-as the weeks went on-no mention in the communiques and press rereleases of the Marines, and when at last a radio from Corregidor casually named them, the Navy Department had to assure the people of the United States that the Fourth had been in the Philippines all along, and that this belated mention of Marines did not mean that the Fleet had broken through the Jap blockade and landed reinforcements. So widespread was the American illusion that Bataan and Corregidor were doing pretty well, with the Japs on the receiving end, that broadcasts from the States-cast in a cheerful mood of utter unreality - depressed the morale of the beleaguered men of the Philippines who heard them. The marines on Corregidor usually listened in about 1800 each evening to Station KGEI, broadcasting from the West Coast of "God's Country." This station had a particularly brash commentator, who flexed his muscles for the benefit of the Japanese, 10,000 miles away, and one night incautiously defied the enemy:
"I dare you to bomb Corregidor!"
The marines' epithets were unprintable; perhaps one old China hand put it best:
"I wish I had that s. o. b. in my foxhole."
Part I: Beginning the revealing story of a gallant regiment's last campaign
GAZETTE READERS . . . be sure to read the inside back cover.
The "North China" Marines, scheduled to pull out of China shortly after the Fourth, were actually cut off and captured by the Japanese. The Commander-in-Chief, Asiatic feet endorsing the recommendation of all Marine and Naval COs in China and the American Consul General at Shanghai, had recommended to the Navy Department as early as September, 1941, that all Marine and Naval units be withdrawn. He was told by the Navy Department that a "meeting was to he held at the State Department on the subject in about two weeks." But the Japanese troop movements in Asia were plainly threatening; the Commander-in-Chief, Asiatic Fleet,reiterated his recommendation, "stating that it was not a question which could he delayed for weeks but must bo acted upon immediately." But final action came too late to save the "North China" Marines. Sixteen officers and warrant officers and 178 enlisted men in these detachments were captured. The SS President Harrison, which took part of the Fourth to the Philippines started back to pick up the "North China" detachments but war came too soon; she was captured off Chinwangtao by Japanese destroyers.
*When it left Shanghai, the Fourth consisted of only two battalions and each battalion consisted of only one manchine gun company and two rifle companies, each of which had but two platoons. There was also a Headquarters and Service Co. Naval medical personnel were attached.
3 0ur own high authorities were similarly, though selfdeluded. In November, top ranking officials of the War Deportment told American newspapermen Hint the greatest concentration of "Flying Fortresses" (35) in the world was then massed in the Philippines, and that by early Spring of 1942, we would have enough planes there (nearly 200 heavy bonmbers) and enough reinforcements in ground troops to insure satisfactory defense of the islands. This concept - in the light of history, obviously absurd - was clearly based upon a false premise. It did not define air power in broad enough terms; it did not consider that air power means far more than planes alone, and that radar, AA guns, landing fields, ground crews, ground troops, etc., are essential. Nor did it recognize the prime function of sea power in a Pacific war; no matter how strong the Philippinps were in 1941-42, they must-sooner or later-have fallen, for American sen power was not then strong enough to keep open the supply lines from this country to the Philippines-lines which alone could nourish and sustain our isolated land and air forces there. In retrospect it is fortunate that no such misguided effort was then made, for a naval attempt to smash through the Japanese island screen and the Japanese Fleet to the Philippines would probably have ended-in 1941-42-in a disaster to us even greater than Pearl Harbor.
4 This battery received a letter of commendation by order of Gen MacArthur for smart performance of duty in this post. For more detail see Action Report: BATAAN by 1stLt William K. Hogaboom in the April '46 Gazette.
"According to "General Wainwight's Story," Corregidor was "armed with two modern 12-inch rifles; about a dozen 12-inch mo: tars; a few 10-inch disappearing guns (which could fire only out to sea); some 8-inch disappearing guns (also unable to be turned either toward Bataan or Cavite); several 155 mm guns similarly handicapped; four batteries of mobile 155 mm guns; several small batteries of 3-inch guns able only to protect our minefields, and forty-eight field guns of 75 mm caliber which were strung along the beaches."
7 The communique from Bataan on 8 March, 1042, said:
"From various sources hitherto regarded as reliable General MacArthur has received persistent reports that Lieut. Gen. Masaharu Homma, commander in chief of the Japanese forces in the Philippines, committed hara-kiri.***
"The funeral rites of the late Japanese commander, the reports state, were hold on Feb. 28 in Manila ***
"An interesting and ironic detail of the story is that the suicide and funeral rites occurred in the suite at the Manila hotel occupied by General MacArthur prior to the evacuation of Manila. General MacArthur advises that he is continuing his efforts to secure further evidence of the truth or falsity of the reports."
The comumnique next day, March 9, 1942, said:
"The new commander in chief of the Japanese forces in the Philippines is Gen. Tomoyuki Yamashita *** General Yamashita succeeds General Homma, who Is reported to have committed suicide."