b. Naval Forces: Detachments, Task Force 78.3.

 

c. Air Forces: Elements, Fifth Air Force including 317th Troop Carrier Wing

 

4.      The 503d Regimental Combat Team was alerted on 3 February 1945 for the probable mission of seizing Nichols Field, Luzon, P.I. Preparations began immediately, which included checking and replacing combat equipment and detailed planning for the movement and mission. The mission was cancelled on 5 February; however, the next day the RCT was again alerted far the mission of seizing and securing Corregidor Island, PI. beginning 16 February. Preparations continued with the substitution of details applicable to the new mission. During this preparatory phase, many officers made reconnaissance flights incidental to bombing raids on the target area. On 12 February, the RCT plans were completed and Field Order :No.9 was issued to the lower units. These plans were put into operation immediately, and the preparatory phase was closed when the 3d Battalion, 503d Inf., Btry "C", 462d FA Bn, Co “C” 161st A/B Engineers and elements of Regimental Headquarters Company enplaned at Elmore and Hill Airstrips, San Jose, Mindoro, P. I. at 0700 hour, 16 February. The second lift left San Jose at 1100 hour 16 February. This lift was composed of the 2d Battalion, 503d Parachute Infantry, Battery "B", 462d FA Bn, Service Co and elements of Regt'l Hq Co. The third lift left San Jose at 0700 hour 17 February. This was composed of the 1st Bn, 503d Parachute Infantry, Btry "A", 462d FA Bn and the remainder of Regt'l Hq Co. The fourth lift (Resupply) left San Jose at 1200 hour, 17 February.

Only one plane of the first two lifts failed to reach the target area. This plane contained the Demolition Section of the Third Battalion Combat Team, developed engine trouble and the plane load was forced to lump in the vicinity of Castillejos, Luzon. No casualties were sustained and the section was returned to Mindoro and arrived on Corregidor Island with the 1st Battalion the next day.

The first flight began dropping on Corregidor at 0833 hour. At 1000 hour, the jump fields were secured for the subsequent flights. Initial opposition on top of the Rock was light; however, a high wind swept many jumpers outside the intended jump area, some becoming casualties by the action of the enemy entrenched along the coast. Forward elements were able to secure high ground overlooking the beach and support by fire the landing of the 3d Battalion, 34th infantry as it arrived on schedule. Naval support fire was called on to help silence the intense, automatic weapons fire which the 34th Infantry Battalion was subjected to. Land mines at the waters edge and on the beach destroyed several of our vehicles including tanks, jeeps, and a dukw containing essential radio equipment for communications with Corps Hqs. The second flight began dropping at 1240 hour. Again the high wind, the cratered condition and smallness of the jump fields caused considerable number of casualties. Nevertheless, the 2d Bn Combat team was able to immediately relieve the 3d Bn of its position of the perimeter. This drop successfully completed the second phase of the battle for Corregidor, the landing of the assault troops.


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 The plan for the destruction of the enemy of Corregidor was to contain that portion located on the eastern end of the Island with a blo0ck by the 3d Bn, 34th Inf at Malinta Hill while the 503d RCT destroyed his forces on the western end. This done, our troops would move to the eastern end and destroy the enemy there. This plan went into effect without delay. Heavy fighting and constant vigilance were necessitated by the 3d Bn 34th Inf to accomplish this mission, especially in the Malinta area. All enemy attempts to break through this blockade were repulsed. Meanwhile, on the western end of the Island, the 503d RCT took possession of the commanding ground  against comparatively light opposition as the enemy had prepared most of its positions in anticipation of a waterborne attack and the pre-invasion bombing had destroyed much of his higher placed defenses. From the commanding ground thus taken, our forces began the systematic destruction of a far numerically superior enemy, well entrenched in innumerable intercommunicating caves, tunnels, and prepared positions in the cliffs along the coastline. It was evident at once that the enemy plan of action was to allow our forces to attack while he fought from these formidable positions. Meanwhile, the 1st Bn, 503d RCT landed by water on February 17, its scheduled drop having been cancelled because of the same extreme hazards that had been confronted the previous drops. This landing, too, was the target of heavy automatic and sniper fire which pinned the Bn to the beach area for a while. Again naval fire assisted materially in the silencing of it. The Bn then proceeded quickly to take its assigned place in the perimeter on "Topside" and began assaulting enemy positions within its sector. During the period from 16 February through 22 February our systematic destruction of the enemy fell into a familiar and extremely effective pattern;  direct fire of artillery used as assault weapons on enemy emplacements, naval and/or air bombardment followed by immediate ground attack. The entire western end of the island was divided into three Bn sectors of responsibility. In proportion enemy casualties far exceeded ours. As it became apparent to the enemy that our tactics were fast destroying him. he became desperate and changed his own. At 0130 19 February he exploded one of his own arsenals, that were located under a building being used as a Company CP. Our casualties were heavy; however a prisoner later disclosed that the explosion had destroyed forty (40) of their own troops who had known that they had no chance of escape. Later the same day at 0530 hr, an organised attack in force was made against our perimeter. The battle that followed lasted until 0800 hr at which time the enemy withdrew. A few of the enemy penetrated as far as Two Bn CP's before being killed. We sustained numerous casualties although few in comparison to those inflicted. No other organised attack was made during the period on the western end of the Island. A few of the familiar "banzai" attacks were made, but in relatively small numbers. The enemy resorted to suicidal attacks of self destruction always attempting to take as many of our troops as possible to death with them. Arsenals and fuel dumps were fired upon our approach, and hand grenades are exploded in the close proximity of the throwers. The entire Island was rocked from an explosion emanating from the Malinta tunnel at 2130 hr 21 Feb. From prisoner statements and captured documents, the tunnel was known to contain high quantities of ammo and demolitions and, at one time, a minimum of two thousand personnel. It was later learned from prisoners that the blowing of this arsenal had for its purpose the destruction of troops blocking the western end of the Island (vicinity) of Malinta Hill). An immediate attack was to be launched in force with the objective "Topside". The explosion did succeed in burying a few of our

 


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troops in a resulting landslide, but the same landslide completely blocked the only road around the south side of Malinta Hill. The attack that started around the north side of the hill ran head long into the mortar concentration and heavy machine gun and tank fire of the firmly placed 3d Battalion of the 34th Infantry. The enemy withdrew after suffering extremely heavy casualties. As our assaults continued, the enemy suffered even more heavily. All the varied resources at our. command were thrown at him in a very effective manner. Lucrative bombing targets were bombed by both demolition and Napalm bombs with devastating effect. Naval gun fire pin pointed his tunnels and caves and our artillery and mortar concentrations at night gave him no chance to organize. Most effective, however, was the action of  our ground troops. As the enemy was searched out in his caves, our flame throwers played havoc and our rockets, grenades, and demolition either blasted him out of existence or buried him alive. The number actually buried in this manner can never be counted, but it is known to be considerable. With no reinforcements whatever, the enemy's number dwindled rapidly in the western sector. Except for moping up the relatively few enemy still remaining in the caves in the western end, our troops were ready for the fourth phase - destruction of the enemy on the eastern end of Corregidor.

 

As the end of the campaign on the western sector became apparent, heavy air and naval bombardment began softening the eastern sector of the Island, preparatory for the ground assault. At 0830 hour, 24 February, this assault began, following the now very familiar pattern of close support from the air and naval bombardment, supplemented this time by  rolling barrages, immediately preceding the ground troops, from the massed batteries of the artillery. The attack progressed swiftly as the enemy either retreated or was destroyed when he attempted delaying action. As he began to become pressed into the far eastern end of the Island, the enemy again resorted to his suicidal tactics. At 0300 hour, 25 February he began an attack in force that ended disastrously for him. Three hundred (300) of an estimated six hundred (600) were killed when massed artillery fire on his expected concentration areas landed in the midst of the assembled attackers. Our small arms fire accounted for another one hundred and thirty-five (135). Here the enemy began to show even greater desperation, as many attempted to evacuate the island by swimming. Some of these were taken prisoner by the patrolling PT boats and the LCPs, some were destroyed by strafing planes and many were intercepted by allied troops operating on Bataan. On 25 February, an important part of the Rock Force, the 3d Bn, 34th Infantry was relieved by the 2d Bn, 151st Infantry. The 34th Infantry Battalions excellent participation in the campaign accounted for eight hundred and fifteen (815) enemy dead. The 151st Infantry Battalion was to prove equally effective. At 1110 hour, 26 February, the enemy committed his last great act of desperation. As our troops approached the under ground radio installations in the vicinity of Monkey Point, the enemy exploded another huge arsenal contained in the underground room and communicating tunnels of the radio installations. A ravine was created where a hill had been and as a result we suffered almost as many casualties as the enemy. We had one hundred and ninety six (196) dead and wounded. This act eliminated the last concentration of enemy in force and led to the final phase of the campaign, mopping up the entire island. 

 

A great number of enemy remained on the island as the final phase began on 27 February, but were in comparatively small groups hiding in the innumerable caves that ring the entire coast. Two Bn's were stationed in each sector of the island as our patrols began the task


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of searching out these caves. Where possible, aerial bombardment, naval and artillery gun fire and mortar concentrations, closely followed by ground assault destroyed the enemy and minimized our gore. losses. When this was not practical, our patrols eliminated the enemy with hand grenades, small arms fire and flame throwers. Many were buried alive when our demolitionists sealed the caves, as enemy screams rang in their ears, and the Japs committed hari kari with hand grenades. Thus the enemy was destroyed and Corregidor was again ours.

 

On 2 March 1945 the operation was officially. closed when the Rock Force Commander, Colonel George M. Jones, presented Fortress Corregidor to the Commander-in-Chief, General Douglas MacArthur. The Stars and Stripes were then raised to fly over the Rock."

5.    Lessons learned and noteworthy data.

a. General Observations:

 

(1) Surprise remains one of the chief weapons of warfare. Had the enemy forces considered a parachute landing feasible on the "Topside" and defended likely drop areas, the task of securing a foothold on the commanding ground would have been hardly possible by vertical envelopment.

(2) All troops must be indoctrinated with the idea of pushing on while in the assault in order to provide safe movement of aid men to the wounded. This is much more to be desired than stopping and rendering personal assistance.

(3) Troops should be trained in the use of all weapons whenever time permits.

(4) Small unit Commanders should use any field expediency that can be improvised immediately when the exact type of weapon needed is unavailable for the reduction of an obstacle or the accom­plishment of a mission.

(5) W.P. grenades are unstable when left out of the carton and exposed to the sun's rays. An ammo dump was fired and destroyed and equipment was lost when this precaution was overlooked.

b. Observations applicable to Parachute Operations:

(1) Parachutists can be dropped to advantage on seemingly impossible terrain if dropped in suf­ficiently small "sticks" to enable each jumper to effect a spot landing. The transport pilots must be thoroughly briefed and indoctrinated with their supreme importance of precision flying over the drop zone. Both drop zones used in this mission were approximately 100 yds by 150 yds, cratered, covered with debris and snags, and surrounded by steep cliffs and wrecked buildings. In all cases the parachute commander must expect to take losses due to jump injuries in proportion to suitability of terrain as drop zone.

 

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 S-E-C-R-E-T
 

(2) A command plane that can control the flight of the dropping planes is considered vital to the success of a drop.

(3) "Control pattern" rigging is the most satisfactory method that can be employed in dropping 75mm howitzers by parachutes. The "daisy chain" made up of three door-bundles should be shortened to a minimum at minimum altitude of 600 feet.

(4) Artillery ammo dropped by parachute should have a rugged container similar to the wooden clover leaf crate to prevent damage to the ammunition when dropped on terrain covered with obstacles. The M8 and M9 are too cumbersome for the ammo carried by each.

(5) A definite. plan. should be made for the quick evacuation of personnel injured on the jump from the (illegible).

c. Tactical Observations:

 

(1) A -change in the normal plan of operation, i.e., dawn attack, pre-dawn attack, night attack, etc. will often catch the enemy off guard. Generally our troops attack too late after dawn to get the maximum use of daylight. The enemy seems to not expect an attack until several hours after sun-rise.

 

(2) Tanks and advancing infantry must supplement each other by fire in the assault.

 

(3) Advancing units must maintain lateral contact.

 

(4) Except where the complete destruction of caves and enemy emplacements are necessary for the security of the assault troops, engineer or specialized demolition troops should destroy them and thus preclude any delay in the assault.

 

(5) Fire discipline both during the day and especially at night cannot be overstressed.

 

(6) Assault unit Commanders should if possible personally check the organized ground of his unit and the emplacement of his automatic weapons when establishing a defensive perimeter for the night.

 

(7) Assault unit Commanders should request the estab­lishment of a "barrage line" in close defense by FA sufficiently. early to permit registration prior to darkness.

 

d. Observation applicable to Infantry Operations:

 

(1) The Japanese interpreter attached to ROT Headquarters enabled advance elements to be using very valuable


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information on enemy dispositions and weapons within two hours after the capture of prisoners. A Japanese interpreter should be attached and jump with Regt'l Hq group on every mission.

 

(2) Too great reliance should not be placed on G-2 estimates of enemy strength and disposition prior to actually verifying them in the objective area.

 

e. Observation applicable to Parachute Infantry Organizations:

 

(1) The advantage of having three, four-gun, light machine gun platoons in each Bn Hq Co instead of one eight-gun platoon was again confirmed. This provisional organization has been employed by this Regiment for fifteen months.

 

(2) An organization of three rifle platoons of three rifle squads each and a fourth platoon of three sixty mm mortars in each rifle company continued to prove a superior organization IP the present T.O. organization of three rifle platoons of two rifle squads and one sixty mm mortar squad each. This provisional organization has been employed in this Regiment for fifteen months.

 

f. Observation applicable to Field Artillery Operations:

 

(1) A five man artillery liaison party is believed to be more desirable than a three man party.

 

(2) Charges 2 & 3, regardless of type of shell being fired, when used as a direct assault weapon are believed to be the most practical to insure against excessive wear on 75mm howitzers.

 

(3) Where terrain is very hard, brush and logs should be used to cushion the gun trail while firing 75mm howitzers. This reduces the danger of bending the rear trail.

 

(4) Howitzers should be bore sighted as often as practicable prior to firing when in very close support of infantry and being used as assault weapons.

 

(5) It is believed that massed surprise artillery fire at night on likely areas of enemy troop concentrations is often more demoralizing and effective than harassing fire.

 

(6) 75 pack howitzers can be very effectively used as assault weapons in the reductions of enemy strong points. By employing two howitzers firing from different-positions on one emplacement, the destructive effectiveness of the howitzers is increased.

 

g. Observations applicable to Supporting Arms:

 


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 S-E-C-R-E-T
 

 

(1) The most outstanding feature of the operations was the effective coordination of the supporting arms, naval gunfire, aerial bombardment and strafing, and field artillery. Naval, air, and artillery forward observers all working together with assault elements were able to recommend the type of supporting fire most suitable for the reduction of any specific emplacement. Forward observers from all supporting arms should be with the assault elements.

 

(2) Dive bombing with five hundred pound bombs can be very accurate and effective. Assaulting ground troops taking advantage of the shock effect produced by bombardment can easily destroy enemy in emplacements not materially damaged by aerial bombardment itself.

 

(3) Supporting specialized weapons, such as rocket launchers, flame throwers, and demolitions should be far enough forward to be available to an assault unit commander on very short notice.

 

h. Observation applicable to weapons:

 

(1) The operating spring on the Ml rifle is invariably weakened by continued firing of rifle grenades. This weakened condition of the spring causes the weapon to fail to feed.

 

(2) W.P. grenades, W.P. mortar, and W.P. artillery shells are invaluable in effective reduction of enemy strong points.

 

i. Observations applicable to Communications: Operating conditions were ideal for maximum performance of radio equipment. SCR E36, SCR 300, SCR 694, and SCR 610 all gave excellent performance.

 

j. Observation applicable to Supply:

 

(1) Where practicable no one type of transportation should be relied upon entirely for resupply of parachute troops; overland, overwater, and aerial resupply should all be employed.

 

(2) An initial aerial resupply of communication equipment and batteries should always be. included in the plan of operation.

 


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(3) In order to insure availability of automatic weapons, a 10 or 15 per cent additional supply of mortars, machine guns, rocket launcher, BARS and 75 mm pack howitzers should be dropped on the initial resupply at earliest practicable time after the jump.

 

 

 

 

/S/

 

GEORGE M. JONES

Colonel, Infantry

Commanding

 

 

6. Incls:

Incl

1 -

S-1

Report

w/annexes

Incl

2 -

S-2

Report

w/annexes

Incl

3 -

S-3

Report

w/annexes

Incl

4 -

S-4

Report

w/annexes

Incl

5 - Communications Report w/annexes

Incl

6 - Medical Report

 

 

 

 

 

 

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