16 February 1945 (Part 3)

 

#25-1430: 2nd Bn, relieved the 3rd Bn from their position.  3rd Bn extended perimeter forward with little or no opposition and began to set up defenses for the nite.

#26-1430:

CP's of 2nd Bn, Reg CP, S-4, S-3, S-2, S-1, 462 F.A., Engr. and liaison parties set up in the main exchange and library building. Third floor and roof demolished. Lots of office equipment. ? readily set up because of small perimeter.

#27-1555:

 Message # 12 XI Corps- situation report.

#28-1600:

 Hospital set up on first floor of C.P. Building.  Reg Hq Co & Serv Co. set up in building making conditions very easy.  Casualties light.

#29-1930:

Situation report- Msg #13 to G-3 XI Corps.

#30-2400:

Situation report- Msg #14 to XI Corps- no change.

#31

Movement confined at darkness and any movement to be considered enemy. Our troops kept up harassing fire thru the nite and little sniper fire returned.

   

Richard Lampman

"McCarter wasn't the only wide awake trooper Calhoun had in his command. There was an incident that happened with that bomb crater, part of our first encounters.  I haven't heard anyone mention this before, it's about  time to do so.

The first engagement the afternoon of the day we jumped, was the one crater in the Battery B (Boston) area where Mike Natalie saved our hides!! We didn't have many grenades so we had to hold until some of the men went and got some.  After we had lobbed a few into this hole we went down into it to check things out. Todd, Natalie, I, and two or three others went in.  We were really checking to make sure the Japs were all dead. It was filled with lumber.  We walked by a Jap everyone thought was dead - except Mike Natalie!!  He brought it to our attention and shot the Jap who, due to surprise or whatever, sat straight up when Mike shot him.  He was faking!!  It is obvious we weren't being very careful. It had been my most memorable  memory all these years." 

 

 

 

Early after the landing, Richard Lampman and others laid their hands on some rum,  Bacardi Rum no less.  He was wounded on Negros, came close to losing an arm, and was sent home.  He never heard for about 43 years that Mike Natalie was killed in a jeep accident near Pulapandan,  Negros shortly after the war.

 

HHQ Co JOURNAL

Some of us ate K rations - the boys in the 3rd L.M.G. Platoon barbecued a chicken.  At 1930 it was dark - blackout, no lights, no fires.  Our dispositions at the time was - Co. C.P. set up in the barracks.  We found a lot of T-shirts, bed spreads, towels etc. which we used for sleeping - sleeping no one got much sleep.  There was sporadic firing going on all night - on all  sides.

The company had taken up positions in and around Topside Barracks. The three machine gun platoons remained with their parent company the first day and night.  Ordinarily they were attacked to the rifle companies, one platoon of two sections with two guns per section, was attached to each company.

During the first day and night D company was assigned the mission of defending B Field.  Their west flank tied in with the 3rd platoon of F company at the point where the street running north-south passes through the Senior Officers Row. Their perimeter generally followed the 500 foot contour line until east of Corregidor Light House  where they tied in with the perimeter of the 3rd Battalion.

There was not much action in their sector the first day and night.  Two men were listed as missing after the jump.  These were Pfc Frank B.  Keller and Pfc Calvin C. Martin.

   

Charles Bradford MD

"Part of Lt. Charles K. Preston's 2d platoon, D Co.,  were unlucky enough to be blown into Crockett Ravine below Battery Crockett, together with lost individuals and even squads from other units. They were gathering together to climb up to the jump-field when they found Pfc. Calvin C. Martin, tangled beneath a tree, with his ankle injured.

"This is one hell of a place to break a leg, Lieutenant," the private said, "but I guess I've done it. I'll hide out down here, but when there's time will you send some men back to get me?" There was no choice, since the platoon could not linger here at this stage of the operation, nor could they possibly have carried the trooper with them. His prospects were grim. "Take these extra clips of ammo in case you need 'em, son," the Lieutenant said. "We'll send a platoon down by nightfall."

Just then Keller came on the group. He had strayed up from further down the ravine where he had landed quite alone. "I'm just a rifleman, Lieutenant," he said, "they can spare me from my squad, so let me stay with Martin here. I can help him if things get tough." It was a brave offer, and one which the Lieutenant welcomed, for he knew how helpless a wounded man would be if the Japs ever found him--not killing; at least not at first--but torture and then death. Preston left them, promising to send a rescue squad as soon as possible.

An hour later Keller spotted a Jap sniper crawling through the underbrush, then a second, and then a third following him. It would have been easy to have picked them off, but that would have brought more to the spot, and he and Martin were hopelessly trapped. So he held his fire and waited motionless for fifteen minutes or more while the Japs scouted through the area. The Yanks had provided themselves with good concealment. One Jap came within fifteen yards of them without suspecting their presence. Then the three beat off through the bushes up the slope, while two more who had appeared combed an area opposite them with even greater thoroughness. At last they all withdrew.

"Let's crawl down toward the sea, " Keller whispered. "I'm afraid those Nips will come back before dark." Heavy machine gun fire over their heads helped cover the sound of their movements as the two fugitives slid from bush to bush. At last they reached a hollow, over which a tree had fallen. Keller poked his head cautiously out of this depression and found himself staring directly down upon the back of a Jap sniper's head, almost close enough to touch. Nearby lay a small sack of rice and some gas masks, which other Jap soldiers had evidently discarded. Apparently this was their rendezvous. Keller withdrew swiftly and motioned Martin to burrow down as best he could under the log. As they waited they were discouraged by the sound of more voices. It was growing toward dusk, and they realized that the Jap squad would probably bivouac beside their hiding place.

"Any move might give us away," he explained in telling of the experience, "so we had to lay awake all night for fear of rolling over or talking in our sleep. Martin couldn't sleep no ways for the pain, and if he caught me dozing off he'd dig a finger into my back. One of the Japs snored pretty loud, but we wasn't complaining about that. When he quit snoring was when we allus got to worrying."

Shortly before dawn the Japs stirred. One of them tripped over a branch and almost tumbled head first into the Yankee's hiding place. But he recovered in time and went off harmlessly, leaving Keller and Martin safe for the time being. Heavy firing was in progress over their heads, indicating that combat along the ravine's edge would prevent aid from reaching them for some time. "You better get out of here," said Martin, "I'll be all right if I lay low, and you could make it down to the beach where some boat might pick you up." Keller had no such idea.

" I'll scout around and see if we couldn't both make it to the beach," he said. But reconnaissance showed this would be too hazardous. "Long about the afternoon," Keller reported, "things maybe quiet down so we can slip out. Let's open up another ration." They did so, washing down a few dry biscuits and some canned eggs-and-ham with what was left of their third canteen of water. The last canteen they kept in reserve, though each of them yearned for a few more swallows to quench his thirst. Nothing happened during the day. They slept a little, waked and slept again. The sound of the fire slackened at intervals but was often renewed, until in the late afternoon it seemed to move off toward the western summit. "Guess they'll come down for us tomorrow," Keller remarked.

Meanwhile, Lt. Preston had succeeded in reaching the assembly point, but his men were needed urgently on the perimeter so that none could be spared to return with a rescue party. "We'll get 'em in the morning," the Company Commander had decided, but when morning came patrols were required to drive the remaining Japs from the western rim. This work lasted all day. Toward nightfall Preston again pleaded for a chance to bring the injured sergeant back, and it was agreed that he should have three squads for the following day. His anxiety mounted through the night, but there was nothing he could do except worry �which is worse than nothing.

With the first streaks of dawn he gathered his men and cautiously led them back down the defile. The Japs had withdrawn from the area, and after two hours searching he reached Pfc. Martin. Keller had scouted off to look for a safe path down to the sea, but he soon returned. "Thank God you're all right!" said Preston, "I kept thinking the Japs would capture you."

"They might 'ov," Keller replied dryly, "but they'd 'ov been dead." For hours both Keller and Martin held grenades in their hands, with the pins loosened, in case Japs should fall on them."

   

John Lindgren
"When we were at the airstrip at Mindoro the pilot for my planeload talked to us, "A lot of the men are dropping in the ravine because the are going too soon," he told us. The magic number now was seven seconds after crossing Beltline Road. If you counted "one thousand", two thousand", all the way to "seven thousand" you stood a good chance to land in the right place. I was the first man out and landed no more the than 25 or 30 yards from Beltline Road as did S/Sgt Wenditz and Sgt Gouvin who had the other two sticks. The ranking man is jumpmaster and goes first in his stick or he can go last if he prefers, but he in either case does the counting. All of the D company's jumpmasters led their sticks. Frank Keller was awarded the Silver Star at a ceremony on Corregidor for remaining with Drew."
   

Fitzhugh Millican
"Petzelt had developed a knee mortar like mortar, which could fire on a flat trajectory. I don't think 'E' Company brought it along to Corregidor."
 

 

 

F Company did bring their flat trajectory mortar and others did.  There is a Signal Corps photo displayed in "The Return to Corregidor" showing a flat trajectory knee mortar being fired into a cave.  As far as can be determined, it is not known if all companies carried one of these type mortars or whether it was up to the individual companies.  1st Lt. John Lindgren was the mortar platoon leader in D company, and he does not remember carrying in a flat trajectory mortar.  In reading John Sanguinette's account below, remember that E Company did lose a mortar.

 

""We moved over to Senior Officer's Row and stopped for a few minutes in the street in front of the house. There were still enough large trees here to make the street shady in spots. The street was paved with concrete and lined with concrete curb and guttering. Concrete walks led up to each house. One could easily see what a well kept street this had been.  I had the sad thought that these battered buildings had once been home for families with all their, joys and hopes, and problems. They never dreamed that these once fine homes, property of the US Army, would be reduced to ruins so quickly, nor for that matter did the people of the United States.

1400 hour The Company moved on down to the vicinity of the last house, 28-D.  I walked out to Wheeler Battery. Just before I made the turn bringing me behind the battery I saw a dead officer tagged with an Emergency Medical Tag.  It was filled out. Under injury "gunshot wound" was entered. Under prognosis the entry entered was "death." This was Captain Emmet Spicer, a doctor in the 462nd Prcht FA who had made out his own EMT before he died.

1st Lt L. S. Browne, our Bn S-3, came walking around the bend of the berm from Battery Wheeler.  I walked around the bend toward the battery, took a brief look and returned to 28-D. Bailey gave me orders to take two squads, clean out the AA gun positions east of Battery Wheeler, and search Battery Wheeler. Browne had told me that he had been through the battery and it was empty."

 

 

 

What Browne didn't know, couldn't know, because the maps which were issued were entirely inadequate to the task, was that the Japanese could move in and out of Battery Wheeler freely, without being observed. At this time, there were no paratroops around the northwest end of Battery Wheeler, and  Wheeler Tunnel was to the west of the battery's northwest end, and a good size force of Japs were in the tunnel. One of the former Japanese prisoners some decades later stated that the tunnel was their headquarters.  Once in the battery the Japanese could move freely through the ground floor magazines, completely concealed from outside observation.

Over the years, there has been much speculation about a direct tunnel between Wheeler Tunnel and Battery Wheeler, though nothing definitive has ever been proven.

 


Handlon is pictured here with Bill Friehoff awaiting orders. They would walk down the lane (pictured)
and within fifteen minutes, Handlon would be dead.

 

"Brown repeated the 'empty' advice to Bailey.  I only had four men in my 1st squad so I took the entire platoon. The area to be cleaned out was in plain view from upstairs of 28-D. We pushed out under fire from the AA area and started to work on them. We used bazookas and our flat trajectory 6Omm mortar under squad leader Pfc Henry McCory. This kept them down and we advanced, either killing them or driving them back. Pfc. Richard Lampman killed about seven in one crater alone by advancing firing his BAR from the hip.   Pvt. Lloyd G. McCarter, showing his usual aggressiveness, killed several. The men worked smoothly and efficiently, like a practiced football team.  During the advance our right flank was exposed to the high south parapet of Battery Wheeler, so I sent Sgt. William Freiholf with the rest of the 1st squad, -Pfc. Glen Handlon, Pfc Albert Thomas, and Pfc Delby Huff, to go over and occupy Battery Wheeler's south parapet.  Freiholf took his men to the road in back of the battery."

   

William Friehoff

"As you say, Capt. Browne said "no nips in Wheeler".

So Thomas, Huff, Handlon, and me went on a patrol. Needless to say Browne was wrong. Our accounts and words my way of saying it may be different so here goes with a diagram."

 

 

DIAGRAM UNDER CONSTRUCTION

 

 

"Thomas stayed where he was after Handlon was hit. Huff and I made it to the ammo and powder doors behind and under the stairs. We engaged the MG in the tower with BAR and rifle grenades to no avail. Thomas was told to notify command. Well, how we were allowed to get out was not my thought of the day, just the loss of two good people."

 

 

 

 

 

"Thomas came straight out to us and reported the situation to me.  It was impossible to go directly from our position and up on the south parapet.  There was a very deep gully running near the south parapet all the way to where the parapet ended. One had to circle the end of the parapet and follow the road and railroad leading to the battery around the bend of the berm, and along the back of the battery. Thomas had been far enough back so that he was protected from the Jap 50 cal. MG by the berm

It was now late afternoon. I pulled everyone out of the area around the AA guns, and we worked our way up the small wooded hill facing the rear of Battery Wheeler. Several of us crawled forward across swag and into a crater located on the berm opposite the BC Station (tower and offices in Freiholf's diagram). We brought a bazooka team into the crater to fire at the Japanese MG. Several rounds were fired, but they had no effect on the thick concrete.  S/Sgt John R. Phillips and S/Sgt Chris Johnson, with some of Johnson's 3rd squad, moved up closer. Thomas and T/Sgt Phillip Todd were looking over the edge of the crater, then splat and Thomas's head seemed to melt. He turned around and fell face down into the bottom of the crater. We knew he was dead. That hurt.

It also puzzled us as to how the Jap rifleman saw him from Battery Wheeler. It was now almost completely dark. This mystery was soon cleared up. A Japanese officer and Japanese soldier with a rifle were found and killed in a foxhole behind us. The situation with Freiholf and Huff was critical. Nothing was working.  I went back to 28-D, the company CP to get a flame thrower. As I went off the berm into the road a .50 cal. MG opened fire and all I could see was tracers.  I accelerated to maximum speed and got to a safe place.  I sat down to blow. Almost immediately a knee mortar round dropped very near me, I thought between my legs. This turned me over on my back and jarred the heck out of me, but I was not hurt.  I took off for 28-D and nearby one of our men raised up out of a revetment with a Thompson submachine gun and challenged me.  I was so winded I could not answer. Thank goodness he did not shoot.

I got back to the CP without further incident and told Bill Bailey the situation and said we needed a flame thrower. He must have already anticipated the need because a flame thrower was there shortly. Bill Bailey, the flame thrower operator, and I started back.  I took them to the wooded hill and avoided the road to Battery Wheeler. This was a more difficult, but safer route.  We crossed the swag and crawled into the crater.  The crater was within flamethrower range of the battery.  We had the ultimate weapon.  We'd get them now.  The flamethrower operator moved up near the edge of the crater and readied his weapon.  Much to our dismay nothing happened when the weapon was activated.  Evidently the equipment had been damaged in the drop, and it would not function. 

 Everything was going wrong, but it was not over yet. It was only much later that we realized how fortunate that we probably were.  With all the black powder stored in the powder rooms of the battery, the big blow which took place the following night might well have happened with us in position to be incinerated.

Pfc Earl Soucie had a white phosphorus rifle grenade.  This could be fired between the Jap machine gun and the room in which Freihoff and Huff were trapped.  The great cloud of white smoke would provide cover for their escape.  He fired the grenade, we waited with bated breath -- nothing happened.  In the rush the arming pin had not been pulled. McCarter and S/Sgt John R. Phillips crawled up closer to the tower  of the battery command station.  In fact they were at the base of the berm.  It was now very dark. They threw all their hand grenades and fired up all their ammunition.  They found a carbine by the body of a dead trooper which lay on the slope of the berm.  Soon they fired up all the carbine ammunition.  Then they started throwing rocks and yelling all the more at the Japs.  During all the commotion Huff and Freihoff ran out and got back to us.  I could have kissed them.  Now we had to extract our snookered pair, which turned out to be a threesome.  Chris Johnson had joined in the festivities. This was done by yelling at them to get back with us.  Bailey had me move the platoon back to the west side of 28-D and set up a defensive perimeter for the night.  I think the audacity and ferocity of our inebriated threesome had stunned the Japs. In any event their action got Freihoff and Huff out alive, and we were thankful.

 The night was interrupted by occasional probing attacks by one or two Japs at one time.  They all seemed to be armed with spears.  These were long poles with a bayonet or knife tied on the end or a one inch steel rod which had been sharpened on one end.  Many of the sailors who had been picked up from sinking ships and sent out to Corregidor did not have rifles and were armed with spears.  A couple of the men in the company  received slight wounds, but the only serious damage was to our nerves.  One man close to me was awakened by a Jap probing him in the side with a spear.  He grabbed the spear and killed the Jap with his trench knife.  Those of us near him could not help him because we could not see who was who as they rolled on the ground.  This was not considered serious business because most of the 850 Japs must be dead by now."

 

 

 

In his Advanced Infantry Officers course monograph, which is recounted in LTG E.M. Flanagan's book, "Corregidor, the Rock Force Assault,"  Hudson Hill tells of commanding a composite force composed of E and F Company men after the jump.  This was puzzling because "F" Company jumped on B Field; however, Ed's account clarifies it.  Hill, along with a number of "E" Company men, had landed short of A Field in the NCO Quarters-Cheney Ravine area.  Evidently, being the senior officer present, Hill assumed that he was in command even though he was in Flash's assigned position.  Flash was not aware of this, and Hill was soon moved out to his assigned sector by Col. Jones,  leaving the rescue operation to Flash.

 

 


Ed Flash

"About 1600 hrs. we started receiving Jap fire - rifle fire as I was in the process of placing men approximately 5 paces apart to establish the platoon sector of the airhead for the night.  Concurrently we helped each other attempting to recover the dead troopers and equipment bundles while under constant Jap small arms fire which increased as the night approached.  We were unable to move to the bodies - every effort drew lots of fire from the Japs and suddenly Japs started to expose themselves all in front of the 2nd platoon sector, caves, railroad tracks, and warehouses.

 As the night approached I decided to move back into the concrete buildings as they could encircle our rear in our present position.  We split into pairs in the many rooms  looking out windows and doors to our front.  I specifically told all my troops - no firing after dark unless the Japs come in the buildings.   They were moving around the tracks but didn't come up.  I could hear walking in the rear of the building and assumed it was Japs leaving Topside under cover of darkness.   They were no strangers to this area.  I forgot to mention, we found plenty of fresh food and cooking areas in the buildings, bags of rice, soy sauce in wooden buckets, and cooking and eating utensils, clothing, and towels.   What proved to be, later the next day �WE WERE IN A HORNETS NEST.   We moved into their area before they could come back out of Cheney Ravine/Wheeler Point area to our buildings.

Anyway, around 2400 hrs., 16 Feb., dark night, a tall well garbed Jap stood in my, in my doorway about to come in - my sergeant with me fired and wounded the Jap. He left the porch, we stayed put. Thank God our troops had fire discipline - no one panicked and fired.  All we needed was to have a bunch of Japs lob hand grenades into each room and we would have taken a lot of casualties.  We were strangers to the area, they weren't.  We heard the wounded Jap moan for about 2 hours and then cease.

The company CP was established at Building 28-D which is the most western house of the Senior Officer's Row.  Generally the F Company situation the first night was that the 1st platoon was on the west side of 28-D and extending west facing Crockett Ravine to the south and Battery Boston (the old AA positions) and Battery Wheeler to the southwest. There was a gap of some 300-400 yards between them and the 2nd platoon which was to the west defending the NCO Quarters- Buildings #52, #53 and #68.  The 3rd platoon extended east along senior Officers Row facing Crockett Ravine and tying in with D company who held a perimeter around B Field.  A BAR team with John Sanguinetti, gunner, set up on Belt Line road was the connecting link. The 3rd platoon extended to about Building #23."

 

"In answer to Richard's question about who jumpmastered his stick,  I do not know for sure.  The platoon headquarters, three men and probably our attached medic (Jensurd), and Chris Johnson's 3rd squad were with me in our aircraft. Johnson's squad only had nine men, because Binion Harrison turned up with a badly burned arm that morning and did not jump.  This totals fourteen men.   The other ten men were more than likely the 2nd squad.  I know six 1st squad men were in Bill Bailey's plane, because they were with 1st Sgt Baldwin as shown in the much shown Signal Corps photos.  I expect the other four men of this squad jumped in the stick ahead of Baldwin's.  If you take about fourteen in company headquarters, that leaves ten places for the rifle squad.  1st Lt. Willam Lavanchure (company executive officer) had jumped that morning with the 3rd Battalion

The D and E Company execs also jumped that morning with the 3rd Battalion. I believe I had my 2nd and 3rd squads with me. I stated that company headquarters had fourteen men and then stated that Red Lavanchure was not there. An Army photographer named Yekanik, took his place."

   

Richard Lampman

"Early after the landing, some of us laid our hands on some rum - Bacardi Rum, no less. I didn't even try to sell any of the drink I had!! There was one of our 75 gun crews who I thought the most unlucky group on the island. They had to scrounge parts from 3 other guns in order to have one that would work. They kept taking it apart and setting itup then taking it apart and moving again.  I remember laughing at them about 'wearing the gun out taking it apart so much.'  They didn't beat 'H' out of me so when I got the spirits, I gave them four bottles to help soothe their nerves.  I got mouth for giving it away.  A group of Hard Luck 'D' Co got a few bottles, too." 

   

"The 75mm crew sounds like the one from Captain Henry W. "Hoot" Gibson's B Battery who were with us at 28-D.  They disassembled their gun, reassembled it on the second story porch of 28-D, and then had to take it apart again to set it up on the ground.  They lost a crew member, John Prettyman, on the porch."

   

As the sun of 16 February went down, E Company's perimeter included the west end of the Topside barracks and the Corregidor Hospital.  They were tied in at their east end with the 3rd Battalion whose area extended on around the eastern edge of Topside to tie in with D Company east of the Corregidor Light House

.

So ended the 2nd Battalion's first day on Corregidor.  A perimeter was established around the western part of Topside.  'E' Company and 2nd Battalion Headquarters Company are defending Topside Barracks, the north side; 'F' company is defending the west and a part of the south side;  'D' company is defending the remainder of the south side.  'F' Company's sector, particular the second platoon's perimeter at the NCO quarters, is the hottest part of the battalion perimeter. Strangely, no light machine gun platoon had been assigned to 'F' Company.   These platoons had been retained for the north side defense.  Omissions such as this are known as foul ups,  though there is a more earthy word now used. Luckily no organized Japanese action was offered during this night.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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                -FOOTNOTES-                      

 

  1. This verse is from the 503d song which was written by corporal Kenneth Brown of the Special Service Section, Regimental Headquarters and Headquarters Company, in November, 1942 aboard the Poleau Laut, the Dutch ship which transported the 503d to the Pacific.  

  2. Private First Class James I. McClain, mortar platoon, F Company.   McClain was lightly wounded.  It was 503d practice that the term 'lightly wounded' covered everything less than critical.  A person could lose an arm or leg and be yet classified as lightly wounded; however, in McClain's case the wound was not serious.  

  3. This additional account by Ed Flash was written 3 March 1992.  

  4. Browne was promoted to Captain shortly after the Corregidor operation.  

  5. The same Major Alexander who brought the cut-off M-1 to Noemfoor to be tested.  

  6. Extract from Charles "Doc" Bradford's account "Combat Over Corregidor" appears courtesy of The Charles H. Bradford Estate. The names have been inserted by the editor, and do not appear in the original manuscript.