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December 16, 1941

The Army and the Filipino skippers had long been butting heads. All the channels out of Manila Bay had been mined for many months. At this time, the mining was strictly up to date and operational. At 1 AM on 16 December, the SS Corregidor, carrying 760 refugees, attempted to go thru the mine field without asking clearance. This request would have been granted. The Lieutenant who was on watch in the mine casement, on sighting the SS Corregidor called his superior, who in turn, called the seaward defence commander, Col. Bunker, requesting information as to whether he should de-activate the contact mines in the channel. With a lifetime of experience with the Filipino, going back to the ’98 Insurrection, Col. Bunker said “No!” My first knowledge of this affair came when my duty watch called me at 12:55 AM. The Corregidor had struck one of our mines and in the four or five minutes it took to reach my battery command post, the vessel had sunk. Approximately 500 lives were lost. The 260 or so who survived came on the Rock. Thereafter, we had no trouble with unauthorized Filipino boats attempting to traverse the channel.