April 8-May 6, 1942*
[*Entry dated to May 13 to include information in the entry]
Bataan had been in many ways a fortunate tour of duty for us. We had the invaluable experience of our own command and we had been the only Marines so far to fight Japanese and we had fought their aircraft and ground troops. We felt like experienced veterans when we arrived at Corregidor. Although our food had been more tasty, it evidently had been less nutritious and most of us had malaria — we were rather beaten down physically but we had had a harder job and we felt that we had acquitted ourselves with credit.
During the last month of Bataan we had difficulties with the Army. When thinking of a new position for the approaching rainy season, we were told to coordinate vith the Army. We met General M___ who was
a fine man and with whom we got along.famously. We agreed on a new position — then General M___ went away and Col. S___ did not agree; he tried to run one on us in favor of the Army and we caught him. The next thing we knew we were attached to the Army “for tactical control and employment.” Bataan fell, however, before we received a single order from the USA.
We had moved from Cavite to the peninsula of Bataan and had there been penned up for four months. We were now going to a small island with the enemy on all sides and above; it was not an enviable position. Maneuver was certainly out of the question; we were nov living on a target from which we could not move.
We were met at the north dock by our company commander whom we had not seen for four months, and marched through “bottomside” to Ramsey Ravine. We were all tired and sleepy; at Ramsey Ravine we left our men there and went on to the CP. There we smoked numerous cigarettes and then had breakfast. We had heard of starvation rations on the ROCK but did not see any evidence of it at our first chow. After breakfast we were called by Maj. C___ for a conference.
A few questions vere asked about Bataan, but little real interest was shovn. We were assigned beach defense positions and told to report there immediately. On the way I stopped by the sick bay and reported my malaria history — I then started a new quinine course. I was to command the left half of Ramsey Ravine. Capt. Pr___ was
the sub-sector C.O. I slept most of the morning but at noon was called for a conference and a bowl of soup. Maj. C___ seemed to think the ROCK would surrender immediately and did not mind the situation. That night I had my first tour of OD duty. All afternoon the Jap batteries on Cavite shore shelled the small boats in the south harbor.
The next morning tvo army officers from Betaan reported for duty and I moved to the left side of the ravine and took command with the Army Lieutenant as assistant. I inspected the position and ordered several changes. One was to unseal the hand grenade cartons — later I found that I have overleaped my authority on that question. A Lt. on the ROCK had no real authority; his initiative was so limited that as an officer he was practically useless. I tried to duck the old system in order to improve my position, but it was impossible so I got a rifle Just in case — My job was example.
Bombings continued at the rate of six or eight per day for the entire next month but, on the 12th of April, a new sound was heard on the ROCK. The Betean batteries opened up early that morning and worked over most of the island. About the only breaks in artillery fire were during air raids. The Japanese seemed to employ their artillery somewhat like machine guns, so rapid and continuous was their fire. This was to continue dey after day until the end. We had fair protection in our position but, for meals, we had to walk to the head of the ravine and eat outside, as provisions had been made to feed beach defense troops in their trenches. One night while I had the duty a boat came past our position. The sentry waked me and, seeing the boat, I immediately requested illumination — it took forty-five minutes to get the searchlight on and by that time the boat had disappeared. We had been ordered not to fire on single unidentified boats. The CAC scorned starshells which they might have had — it unquestionably would have made a big difference. Little by little the enemy pounded away at the CAC and the beach defense; it became increasingly difficult to set up and repair broken installations. Nine bombers hit our beach position; most of the bombs landed close aboard but in the water. I talked to Al one day and he did not seem much changed by the conditions under which we lived. A notice appeared which stated that the ROCK could and would be held. It sounded like propaganda — my intention was to make it cost the enemy as dearly as possible. Our beach position was hit again by bombers and this time they destroyed installations and caused casualties. I was knocked down by the concussion and my hair was dyed yellow by the picric acid, but otherwise I was unhurt.
It was never easy to sit and eat chow without any protection when shells were dropping in the vicinity – we all felt much safer in a trench. Most of my equipment had not gotten to me — I slept on the ground with nothing but a blanket for padding. The food was pretty good, and seemed more wholesome than ours on Bataan, but many times it was poorly prepared. A tunnel had been dug for the sick bay, another for the galley, but none on our side of the ravine. The counter fire from Corregidor vas negligible –many of the guns could not bear north and all were under fire from Bataan. Ft. Drum fired over us occasionally from her turret and a PS battery in the barrio fired many times but with little effect. The ansvering fire was terrific. A CAC battery blew up one morning and the explosion rocked the entire island — a big sphere of concrete managed to dig a tunnel near our position — it had but one outlet. We went to this shelter during heavy shellings or bombings; for emergency we had a three inch pipe (the best thing available) protruding from the entrance for air and two shovels in case we were buried by a landslide.
There were no trees standing on the ravine now where once we had hardly been able to see the sky — our gun pits and trenches shoved signs of damage that we could not repair. We had been told that within the next 48 hours there would be a big change in the situation — in an estimate of courses of action open to the enemy we saw assault was imminent. One or two bombing raids had been conducted from Del Monte but they had no effect on the general situation. The enemy’s artillery fire became more and more intense. On the night of May 5-6 the moon would rise at 0100. An 0100 moonrise had been the time chosen by the Japanese for assaults on Singapore and Hong Kong. We were doubly on the alert that night. I had had stomach trouble for two days now; I
was bothered quite a bit during the night. From 1930-2330, the heaviest barrage of the time was laid down over the entire island, the east end getting the worst of it. During this barrage I was wakened by one of the men and informed that some of the Filipino sentries had left their posts — I stayed up most of the night from then on.
Around midnight we heard small arms fire to the east and saw tracers coming from several points. These tracers were not being fired out to sea but from land to land targets. I knew the enemy was aboard Corregidor.
Reserves began to move from west to east on the lee side of the hill above us — they drew heavy artillery fire most of which came down on us. Dawn found the situation unchanged as far as we could tell; all we could tell was that there was a fire fight still going on to the east of us. An AA battery from Fort Hughes opened up on the enemy on the ROCK using AA shells as shrapnel, but soon nine big bombers flew over and dropped an entire load on them — the battery abruptly ceased firing. I expected to be ordered out to help in the attack and prepared for that eventuality, but instead at 1100 we received the order that we were to capitulate at noon. We destroyed weapons with tight throats and tears in our eyes –we had not thought about surrender. The Stars and Stripes came down at noon, but three or four times during the afternoon we were attacked by dive bombers and for three hours we were shelled. Terms had evidently not been agreed upon. My trunk and equipment was destroyed during the afternoon by shells. Late in the afternoon we assembled at the Sector CP and then marched to the big tunnels and there turned in to the Japanese.
I was sick and could not sleep; twice I went to the sick bay for treatment. Finally I ran across Fred Berly and he managed to get me turned in at the hospital. Thus ended Corregidor and the U. S. in the Philippines. In our little ravine the officers had gotten together many times a day to laugh and Joke. That was all we had for amusement — once we played bridge and two air raids failed to halt our game. We did not play again.
Grim, dark, forbidding Corregidor had not proved as potent as we had hoped; unfortunately it was located much too close to the shore. I think we could have held out almost indefinitely bad we not been within range of land artillery. Looking at the ROCK after the surrender, it was a mass of holes and debris; there was hardly a single tree left standing. Several veterans of 1918 stated that these dally barrages were heavier than anything they had heard of during the years 14-18. We had fought hard, but the rising run floated over Corregidor. I suppose some were glad it was over, but most of us were not. It was a matter of personal pride mostly, for we were really serving but little useful purpose on Corregidor. The thought of being prisoners had scarcely occurred to most of us — I guess somewhere in the backs of our minds we did not expect to survive an assault on the ROCK. Those who were in those huge tunnels, hovever, did seem both mentally and physically prepared for that eventuality, and there were as many men in those tunnels as there were on beach defense. They contributed nothing towards defense, and I am glad to say that they were not Marines.
Japanese came into the hospital tunnel several times, but they bothered no one and we were allowed to walk outside for fresh air. The nurses had at first been afrald, but those fears were groundless. The Japanese treated everyone fairly well during those first few days. Well again, I was moved to the 92nd Garage where the prisoners were being held and there Al took me into his mess. Men on work details had been alloved to carry food into the area for themselves, but the practice had been stopped before I arrived — these men with Al shared their food with me willingly and that was not a common practice. We stayed there in the heat, bothered by a billion flies, for about four weeks and then one rainy night we were told that the next day we would move out. We went aboard ships that day and the next morning we disembarked at the extreme end of Dewey Blvd. in Manila. We waded ashore, then we marched through Manila via Dewey Blvd. to Bilibid. Considering this group representative, my conclusions on humanity would brand me a cynic; however, I am a realist and I keep my opinions (to myself).