"THE LOST ROAD"
_________________

William T. Calhoun
and  
Paul F. Whitman 

All too often tales are spun of battles which are figments of men's ambitions. The more they are repeated,  the more realistic and accepted they become.  Finally, someone who knows the truth feels compelled to set the record straight,  to restore honour to the hero, and to give true acknowledgment to the warrior who has been robbed of valiant recognition. 

As a platoon leader in "F" Company, and being personally aware of the attack upon Battery Monja on 23 February 1945,  and having gathered detailed accounts from "E" Company men engaged in the action that day,  what follows is a correction of erroneous accounts which have crept into the public domain.  If it were not for the power of the Internet this article could not set the record straight.  This is not "revisionist" history, it is the correction of the true record.  

It is instructive to trace how an erroneous account can, if left undisturbed, become history.

After the war, a number of officers who had served in the 503d attended the Advanced Officers Course at Ft. Benning.   Not surprisingly, some wrote their monographs covering actions which were fought on  Corregidor .  One of those officers was "E" company's commander, 1st Lt Hudson Hill, dead now.  Although monographs deserve careful consideration, those written for the AOC are written for a purpose, specifically to bring out tactical principles. That purpose does not repeat not include the creation of a balanced and accurate assessment of history. As all of us who attended the  Infantry School will always remember, the bottom line is the ‘school solution.’ Some accounts of fire support and attack can be added or altered in order to bring out tactical principles. In doing so, embellishments, speculations and fanciful episodes can and do creep in.

These monographs are not the primary documentation of history and their contents cannot be allowed to form that history.  Unfortunately, Lieutenant General E. M. Flanagan used Hill's monograph to describe "E" Company's action in his book, "Corregidor , the Rock Force Assault."  In so doing, the "school solution" became history - and it shouldn't have. Hence the need to correct the record. 

 In truth, only half a dozen men faced the enemy at the tunnel entrances of Battery Monja, and none of them was Hudson Hill.  Fortunately, we have the account of the officer who actually commanded the force which attacked the tunnel entrance at Battery Monja. This officer is former 1st Lt. Roscoe Corder, who commanded the 2nd platoon. Corder's memory is vivid and clear and forms the basis for the major part of this account. 

Supporting Corder's account, we also have Don Abbott, who was on the South Shore Road that day and wrote (shortly thereafter) the best written account we have to date of "E" Company's attack on Wheeler Point. Although brief, Abbott's account contains the essentials of the action, and each word can be weighed carefully. Don's article, which is published in full at this site, was written within a couple of weeks of the action, with the specific intent of establishing an accurate historical recording.

What truly occurred on 23 February 1945 has been prepared in consultation with the troopers actually present along the South Shore Road on that fateful day. I was also there. What follows is their, our, distillation of that action, and it can be relied upon.

Bill Calhoun 
with Paul Whitman

  Capt. Hill's monograph cannot be accessed except by the link at the bottom of this page.

Refer Monja Index

 

 

 

 

CLICK ON MAPS TO ENLARGE 

CLICK FOR BATTERY DETAIL 

"E" Company Attack on  Battery Monja, 
 23 February 1945

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The Record is Corrected

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E Company History: 

“ 23 Feb. 45 . The company took over the job of cleaning out the area between Searchlight and Wheeler Points. Although we could not clean out all resistance because of an ammunition shortage, we killed approximately 120 Japs. 2nd Lt. Ball; Pfc's Robinson and Jandro KIA. Pfc Brown, W.A., was wounded and later died of those wounds." 

Don Abbott's E Company history more completely records the day as follows:-

"The company is leaving to take over "B" Co's area and patrol between Searchlight and Wheeler Points. When the company reached Searchlight Point, the third platoon was sent down to the beach while the second platoon stayed on the road. While advancing on unnamed point the second platoon killed three or four Nips hidden under some vehicles along the road.  The third platoon began to advance to unnamed point and ran into a cave at water level. They killed 47 Japs and had no casualties. Pvt Robinson was killed on the point by a sniper. The second platoon advanced on Wheeler Point along the road to the tunnel entrance.  While just a short distance from the tunnel entrance they came under fire. White phosphorus grenades were thrown into the entrance and a large number of Nips ran out so we could mow them down.  The snipers began to fire at us from small tunnels on three different sides.  Our ammunition was running low so we had to withdraw.  Pvt. Jandro and Lt. Ball were KIA.  Pfc Brown was seriously WIA.  We estimated the Company killed between one hundred and a hundred and twenty Japs." 

The 2nd Battalion had the mission of clearing the western end of the island. “C” Company was the most western company of the 1st Battalion. [1] “C” Company had relieved “D” Company on the afternoon of the 18th, and “D” Company had moved out and occupied the area linking Battery Wheeler to Battery Cheney. Actually “C” Company occupied Battery Wheeler and the 1st platoon of “D” Company was just to the west of them. “C” Company had patrolled down Crockett Ravine to South Shore Road below Battery Wheeler and west along the road to Searchlight Point. On 21 February “D” Company had patrolled down Cheney Ravine to the sea. Here they turned north away from Wheeler Point, which was some 1,000 yards away, and patrolled along the shore line toward Rock Point until they reached “E” Company.

After “F” Company had completed the sweep of the Japanese forces out of Grubbs Ravine, the only uncleared area remaining was the 1700 yards from Searchlight Point to the mouth of Cheney Ravine. North-West of Searchlight Point about 300 yards distance was a point with no name. Hill [2] refers to this point as "Unknown Point". It is ordinarily called “No Name Point” or "the no name point'.  In this work, it shall be referred to as “No Name Point” except when cited in documentary records, where the reference will be preserved as written.  400 yards to the northwest of this point with the enigmatic name was the great, imposing Wheeler Point.  “D” Company had already made the top of this point famous with their heroic defense during the early hours of 19 February. The estimate of the enemy defending the lower Wheeler Point area was 175-200 troops. 

The Regimental Combat Team's official record includes its S-3 Report. These reports were normally compiled daily, though sometimes due to the pressures of "the field", ( Negros was an example) they were known to have the prescience of wisdom written a few days after the event, though there is no suggestion this happened on Corregidor.  The RCT S-3 made a periodic report every 24 hours to the commanding general of the XI Corps to keep him advised of the situation.

In reading the reports of the RCT S-3 it is evident that there was little concern over enemy in this area, since the main attack had shifted to the east. Periodic Report ("P.R.") No. 6, 2018001 Feb 45 to 2118001 Feb 45 under the entry "Infantry" states: "'WHEELER POINT to SEARCHLIGHT POINT was assaulted by combined naval and ground strike, clearing it of all but a few possible stragglers." 

This S-3 report is pure delusion. [3]

P.R. No. 7, ending 221800I Feb 45 under the entry "Infantry" states: 

(2118001 to 2218001) "Our continued mopping up process, concentrated in BATTERY POINT, ROCK POINT, SEARCHLIGHT POINT, GEARY POINT, and MALINTA HILL areas; SEARCHLIGHT and WHEELER POINTS containing the largest concentration of enemy." 

P.R. No.8, ending 2318001 Feb 45 (after E Company's action that day), under "Infantry" states: 

"Situation end of period 2318001- mopping up proceeding in the WHEELER POINT, SEARCHLIGHT POINT, area has nearly cleared western sector of ROCK of enemy. Our forces are in position to begin assault on eastern sector 2407301. Combined Air, Naval, Artillery and Ground action will be utilized. Softening up of the area by area by Air, Naval, and Artillery continue today."

 “E” Company had battled all day and had been repu1sed by a well armed and entrenched enemy who showed no weaknesses. It is apparent that the eyes of the command had shifted east, and the west was forgotten. As the old adage goes,  "What did not suit could not be true."

A study of the casualties tells a different story. With the exception of the "big explosion" at Monkey Point on 26 February, the heaviest casualties were suffered on the west end. The reason is simple. It was there that the heaviest fighting was taking place. 

Beyond the S-3 Periodic Reports, there is another official document of record, the the RCT S-3 Journal.  This reports  ground action at Wheeler Point in the  22 Feb 45, 1820 entry, which states that “D” Company “met heavy resistance near Wheeler Point and lost 4 men. Area very quiet. All wounded injured evacuated and area being cleaned up." 

In truth, "D" Company did not attack Wheeler Point until 24 February, when they did lose 4 men; however, "E" Company also lost 4 men attacking Wheeler Point on the 23rd. On 22 February "F" Company attacked Grubbs Ravine and lost 3 men and one attached machine gunner. Apparently this message refers to "F" Company because the 23 Feb 45 message No.102 entry states: 

"2nd Bn patrolling and clearing out area between Searchlight and Wheeler Point. Strong resistance all along coast line and killed 106 Japs. Also strong concentration on Wheeler Point and planned on navy strike & assaulting at 2408001. "E" Co met all resistance." 

Here are fairly accurate reports from the same section, sending all delusions to Corps. 

 

Individual Recollections.

 

Surprisingly, it is the recollection of the individual Paratroopers which record the circumstances with more clarity than their official documents.  Carl Brattle[4] gives a good account of their trips to Searchlight Point. “We never passed this point. Every time we tried, we had a man killed.”  Donald Abbott, who wrote the company history, and commanded the company base of fire that day, confirms this. 

The circumstances of the death of William A. Brown provide an illustration of the clarity of individual recollection being superior to the official record, and of the danger of accepting an Infantry School monograph at face value.  

Hill, as "E" Company commander at the time of the engagement, records a bizarre account in best Hollywood style describing how Jandro and Brown engaged several Japs in hand to hand combat. 

"During the struggle Brown was slashed and cut by a Jap officer using his saber "using short choppy strokes."  

In this account the wounds from the saber result in Brown's death.  

In truth, Brown died of shrapnel and a gunshot wound.  Charles R. Leabhart, the corporal-clerk in the 2nd Battalion aid station in the long barracks on Topside during the  Corregidor operation, possesses the log of the casualties and sick on Corregidor and Negros .  In the  Corregidor log listed under "E" Company patients treated is one  "William A. Brown."   Brown is actually listed three times, and the entries are as follows:

"#23-Brown, W.A.- 6929752- Shrap Gren", 

"# 33- Brown, William A.- Shrap, Rt side", 

"#48- Brown, William A.- WIA-GSW". 

Each entry has a line drawn through it, signifying that Brown died. [5]

Another good example of inaccuracies that have been preserved in the graduation from reality to history a la Advanced Infantry Officers Course monograph is the addition of fire support.  Hill gives a lot of detail about the support of a destroyer, or rather two destroyers, in that one had problems and had to be replaced.  Don Abbott recalls no destroyer support that day.  “Naval fire support was a new and grand experience for our battalion, a dramatic and spectacular event not easily forgotten,  and the failure of the company history to record such a great event is significant in itself.  We did receive support from a destroyer on 21 February, ” and this is duly recorded in the history.

Had there been destroyer support, there would have been Naval liaison. That there was no liaison team at the fire base, for the presence of a team is the usual procedure when a destroyer is assigned to support an action, surely puts the matter beyond remaining doubt, if there could be any. To top it off, the most telling fact is that the leader of the platoon attacking the tunnel entrance, 1st Lt. Roscoe Corder, has stated “There was no destroyer support that day.” [6]

The officer commanding the leading element would know. 

Fitzhugh Millican,  a member of Emory Ball's mortar platoon on the attack, gives an interesting account of an incident that happened the day before “E” Company attacked Wheeler Point. 

“We’d spent the night of 21 February at the ruins of  Corregidor Hospital.  Ball had the only razor amongst several of us.  We had to take turns using it, and we cut cards to determine the order of use of the razor.  Ball shaved and handed it to me, and commented that officers who shaved always got killed.   I was the last to use it and forgot to give it back to Ball. Ball died the next day, making his words prophetic. I still have the razor and treasure it highly.” 

 The probing of “C” Company had revealed the presence of the enemy in strength in the  No-Name Point’-‘Wheeler Point’ area. This led to the estimate of 175-200 enemy in the area. An estimate is said to be an educated guess, and in this case this is true. One can drop the word “educated” from the definition however, in making any reference o the 6th Army G-2 estimate of 850 Japs on Corregidor.

As “D” and “F” Companies had experienced the hardest actions over the past two days, Major Lawson Caskey, 2nd battalion commander decided to move “E” Company from their operating area in the north-west sector, to the left flank of the battalion and to attack on the southern coast. 

“E” company assembled at 0600 hour the morning of the 23rd;  they drew ammunition, water and one K ration for the  noon meal. However Hill goes beyond this description of standard procedure when he adds, "S-4 says he’ll have all the 10-1 we can eat when we get back tonight." We did not operate that way. At 0630 hrs., the company moved across the parade ground, west of the Senior Officers Row Building 28-D to Crockett Trail near Battery Boston, down the hairpin turns of this trail, and on to South Shore Road. They followed this road west to Searchlight Point. 

“E” Company arrived at Searchlight Point about 0700, joining “C” Company, where Capt. John P. Rucker, the “C” Company commander briefed them on the situation he had been faced with. “Every time we attempted to pass Searchlight Point we’ve had a man killed,” Hill was told.  Earlier that morning another “C” Company man had been killed by fire from No Name Point. “C” Company had been ordered to move to the South Dock and join the rest of the 1st Battalion in preparation for clearing the east end of the island. Rucker moved his company out, and now “E” Company was alone at Searchlight Point ready to begin their mission of attacking the unnamed point. 

The 2nd light machine gun platoon, 2nd Battalion Headquarters Company, under 1st Lt Moss V. Davis, was attached along with a demolition section. Usually one or more flamethrower teams were attached to independent forces, but if a flamethrower team was attached that day, no one remembers it. Don Abbott remembers no bazookas being attached to the company. Roscoe Corder recalled that the only bazookas were on top with the battalion S-3, 1st Lt Browne. He said an attempt was made to use these bazookas during the attack on Wheeler Point, but they could not be brought to bear on the area where fire was needed. 

“E” Company commander, Hudson Hill, had consolidated the three rifle platoons into two platoons after the 1st platoon leader, Ist Lt. Joe M. Whitson, had been wounded. The 1st platoon had been reduced in numbers due to casualties suffered in their action in James Ravine during the first few days.  “E” Company too had suffered a large number of jump casualties during the jump (5 men killed, 22 were injured.) [7]  In addition to the loss of Joe Whitson, the company had lost 1st Lt. Dick Atchison. During the jump an enemy bullet had hit him in the leg, shattering the femur bone, and giving Dick a “homer.” The company was now down to five officers: 1st Lt Hudson Hill, Commanding Officer;  1st Lt Donald E. Abbott, Executive Officer; 1st Lt Roscoe Corder, 2d platoon leader, 2d Lt. Lewis B. Crawford, Jr., 3d platoon leader; and 2nd Lt Emory N. Ball, mortar platoon leader.

Hill’s plan was to advance Corder’s 2d Platoon along  South Shore Road to the unnamed point. They would be supported by an light machine gun section.  Once they had secured the point they were to provide covering fire for Crawford to advance his 3d platoon along the beach, 150 feet below the road. Davis’ other LMG section would be with Crawford. 

Corder moved his platoon out quickly, traveling west on  South Shore Road . They actually received little fire.  At the unnamed point, he came upon a vehicle, a 1941  Plymouth convertible.  He deployed his men out along the relatively flat point, with some facing towards the enemy at Wheeler Point and others facing Searchlight Point to cover the 3rd platoon's advance.  The company commander had ordered Ball to send an F.O. (forward observer) with Corder, and rather than stay behind on Topside with his mortar platoon, Ball designated himself as F.O. and accompanied Corder. [8]

 Ball and Corder were close friends. Ball stayed forward with Corder, where he was out of Hill's sight,  so Hill did not know Ball was down there.

With Corder's platoon in position to cover them,  Crawford's platoon began their advance along the beach. Corder saw Crawford's scouts come around Searchlight Point. He also, saw a Jap in a cave about halfway out on the point which the Crawford’s lst scout could not see. He warned Crawford on his SCR-536, and Crawford’s men threw grenades into the cave and had no further trouble from that quarter. Looking down at the beach below him,   Corder saw another Jap and shot him with his carbine. Ball took him to task because he had not let him have the shot. He cadged his friend that he never got a chance to shoot a Jap. 

By this time, Crawford's men were at a cave below Corder’s positions. They threw hand-grenades into the cave, and the Japs threw them back.  With covering fire, a trooper ran across the opening, firing.  This may have been Lew Crawford, though Corder is not sure. Now that they had positions on both sides of the cave,  Corder  told Crawford to tell his men to hold the grenades for a couple of seconds before throwing them.  They did this and presently a Jap charged out at them, and they shot him down. Crawford and his men killed a large number of Japs in the cave, around 50.  They’d not suffered any casualties to speak of so far,  though they had consumed a good deal of their ammunition.  Whilst this was of no severe concern to them at this point, matters would become more grave by the end of the afternoon.  

With Crawford’s platoon safely at the base of No Name Point,  Corder moved his men further along the  South Shore Road towards Wheeler Point. As they moved along the road it was curving gently to the right. Here they made rapid progress, receiving no further fire. They had expected otherwise.  This part of the road took them out of the line of sight from the cut and the tunnel entrance. 

Don Abbott recalls his account of the move of the company and supporting units following Corder’s platoon as they moved forward, and covering them.

"As we moved Westward along the road we began to run into stretches where other actions had taken place on the cliffs above. “D” Company had fought a night long battle above one part of the road and had killed a bunch of the Japanese. Their solution to the problem of body disposal was to toss them over the cliffs. Because of the heavy gunfire from the Navy ships, there were slides of rocks, dirt, and trees. Mixed in with the natural debris were the bodies of uncounted Japanese troops arid all kinds of equipment. The smell was nearly overpowering.”

Approaching Wheeler Point via the South Shore Road, Corder and his men came to an exposed portion of the road cut into the face of the cliff,  from where they could see that they would need to traverse a further 400 yards beyond the exposed road before they could get to the high, ominous Wheeler Point where it jutted, knoblike, out into the sea.   A short distance back from the knob was a level flat area,  “the cut,” and just before it were two tunnel entrances opening out on to the road. These two entrances were the tunnel entrances of Battery Monja. The road was badly torn up by shelling and bombing, and in many places the asphalt was gone. 

Abbott was busy arranging the firing point.

“When we rounded the unnamed point, which had a spur of land leading to the left, we came under heavy fire from the installation that was our objective. Hill had me take part of the company and set up a firing base along the spur while he attempted to work the remainder of the Company forward along the road. He had practically no natural cover so he needed all the cover we could give him. The spur was covered with some brush and a few trees but open enough so that we were not too easily seen from the bunker but could see well enough to lay in that fire. About half way along the spur was a small notch where there was not any brush and the bunker could be seen clearly.”

 Corder and his men, at the front of the advance,  continued moving and this took them out of the line of sight from the cut and the tunnel entrance.  Some 100 yards further west on the road, they crossed over Road Culvert 6. This was the area that would become the forward position of the company commander, and they continued on. 

When Corder and his men moved out, the light machine gun section moved up to No Name Point and  took positions to place covering fire on Points 3 and 4, and the cut. Along with the LMG section was a small group of riflemen from company headquarters under S/Sgt. Newton A. Broussard.  Fitzhugh Millican recollects that one mortar squad accompanied the company, and he was at the fire base, but may be mistaken. Sergeant Norman Petzelt, the mortar platoon sergeant, stated that that the mortar platoon had remained on top, and took no part in the action.[9] Consequently it is not quiet certain who was in the company base of fire. Memories sometime fail us. 

Now beyond the culvert, the scouts, closely followed by Corder and Ball, approached a mound of dirt and brush across the road. From behind the mound, they were able to spot the first of the two  tunnel entrances on the right verge. Stopping behind the mound, they lobbed some grenades into tunnel entrance.  The grenades exploded, yet nothing happened.  

Then they threw in a W.P. grenade. Corder shortly began to regret this,  because Japs began rushing out in groups of five to seven men.  With the men of Corder’s platoon still strung out back along the  South Shore road,  many were unable to get into a firing position and did not get into the action.  Ammunition too was at a premium where it was most needed. Corder’s radio operator was rushing forward to get the SCR-536 to him. The Japs were now firing from the cut to the left front and some sniper fire was coming from the cliffs above and behind them to the right. A bullet struck a small sapling in front of Corder, shattering the trunk and causing the tree to fall. The radio operator, immediately dived to the ground. The radio struck hard, breaking off the antenna. Now Corder was out of communication, and without any knowledge where Hill's position was, other than behind him some distance, for even his own platoon was strung out a good distance to the rear. 

Hill states that at 1105 hours, a summary of the situation was sent by radio to Lt. Browne, advising briefly “a total of 59 enemy KIA, our own casualties 5 slightly wounded. The area between Searchlight Point and Unknown Point clear of enemy.”  

"While the men were firing I worked my way along the reverse slope to observe how they were doing.  I got about half way between the two points and ran into Hill. He and his radio operator Chiuses were hunched down behind  a pile of dirt and rocks.

As I came to the notch, one of the fellows said ‘I wouldn't stick my heal up there Lieutenant, they have that spot zeroed in.’ I took his advice and moved on along the line, but right after me one of the men, Pfc. Cecil R. Robinson, decided to get a better view -- he got a sniper bullet drilled neatly between the eyes. That must have been one of those ‘Tiger Marines’ because the bunker was a couple of hundred yards away.” 

With the firing point now organized, and  a heavy engagement developing up ahead, Abbott decided to go forward to see if there was any way he could help out. Hill's position was about 200 yards northwest of No Name Point just short of Road Culvert Number Six.

There was plenty of fire coming in and passing just over the pile, which at least furnished a little shelter against the heavy fire from the bunker and other holes around it. The snap of enemy fire was pretty noticeable because it was passing about a foot overhead. The minute someone raised his head the snaps picked up tempo, so it was hard to pick out a single round. I fired a few rounds from my carbine a time or two when Hill called for a volley but didn't see anything to fire at-- it was just a part of the total.

A small amount of ammo was being passed forward from the squad at No Name Point to the lead men strung out along the narrow the road.  

At this point, Chuises's radio (the company SCR-300) was put out of order. We had no communications whatsoever, with topside after this. Previous to the time the radio had been hit, communications had not been very effective anyhow. 

I know it does not mean much to most people but I still do not believe we had any naval fire that day. I remember, very distinctly, the fire assistance we received on one of the patrols along the  North Shore. The time we had navy fire support we had a Navy Lieutenant with us. I can never remember the numbers of the radios--this was the back pack used in the battalion net. The main thing, I remember about the naval fire control, was the controller giving corrections in feet! We were lucky to get our mortars registered in tens of yards.

"I didn’t get any further forward than the dirt pile. ” 

With his advanced elements well forward of Hill’s position and heavily engaged with the Japanese who were rushing out of the caves in groups,  Corder was bringing more men forward to lie on the road, seeking what shelter they could find. They were also under heavy rifle fire and, possibly, machine gun fire by now. Pfc William A. Brown came forward uncalled. 

Roscoe and Ball were still behind the dirt pile close enough to touch each other. Roscoe moved a little to the left, and Ball raised up to look at the entrance. Immediately, he was shot in the chest.  Corder saw the dust fly from the back of Ball’s fatigues where the bullet exited.  Ball fell beside Corder. Doc Bradford had come forward to Corder’s position, and examined Ball, looking first at the entry wound in the chest and, Corder says, "slapped a piece of tape over it'. He turned Ball over, examined the exit wound, and "slapped a piece of tape over it".  Shortly, Ball looked up at his friend and, to quote Corder,  "he looked me in the eye…, and died.”[10]   

A Jap officer did come out leading a small group, and swinging a sword. He  charged at Pfc. Joseph M. Cubbage, who pointed his M-l at the Jap and pulled the trigger, but nothing happened. Cubbage had forgotten that he had a grenade launcher on his rifle, and the explosion in the gun’s chamber hadn’t been enough to slam the bolt back to eject the spent blank cartridge to chamber another round.  Realizing this Cubbage operated his bolt, chambering a round of ball ammunition, and shot the Jap before he could slash anyone. 

Pvt. Howard J. Jandro, too, was killed at the dirt pile. Millican recalls:

“Jandro was a new man who was a BAR ammunition bearer when he jumped. By this time he was a BAR gunner. He said he was not experienced and raised up, was shot, and died. Brown was hit by rifle fire when several Japs rushed out firing. He also suffered fragmentation wounds from Japanese grenades.” 

Doc Bradford was with Brown, who was hysterical, saying he did not want to die. Doc calmed him by telling him that he had to act like a man. Doc called that Brown had to have immediate treatment, and was doing what he could under the circumstances.

 The situation was now critical. The men were almost out of ammunition.  Corder had two rounds left for his M-l carbine. He yelled loudly for the men in the rear that they were coming back.  Hearing Corder’s call, they made a rapid retreat, too.  Despite Doc's protest, Cubbage, a large man, picked up Brown in his arms, and they ran back along the road to No Name Point as fast as they could.  As those behind them had withdrawn, they saw no one until they reached Searchlight Point. 

The bodies of  Ball, Jandro and Robinson remained where they had died.  

The wounded were carried to Topside and across the parade ground, where no one paid them much attention. There was much coming in of tired and weary companies bringing in their casualties late afternoons. So much so that little, if any notice, was taken of them.  Hill’s comments about the attention they invited as they returned is touching,  and it would have been nice had it happened, but that was just not the way it was. 

The day had not ended for Corder yet, though. One of his men, whose name he has forgotten, showed him his rifle after they got back on topside. The man said “I just want to show you how lucky I am.”  A bullet had gone into the stock of the rife seven inches in front of the butt,  plowing on through and coming out through the metal butt plate, tearing a jagged hole through steel. Roscoe looked at the rifle, then looked the man closely, and replied “You don't know how lucky you really were. Take your helmet off and look at your chin strap.”  Roscoe was looking at a bullet hole drilled through  the strap about even with the man's lower ear. 

That night Corder fell asleep quickly in deep exhaustion, but concern for Ball's unrecovered body never left him.  

One midnight back on Mindoro, a mournful Emory Ball appeared to Corder and sadly asked him why had he left his body down with the Japs. 

"…as he slept, sudden appeared Patroclus' mournful shade, his very self; his helmet, and beauteous eyes, and voice; the very garb he wont to wear: Above his head it stood, and thus it spoke: "Sleepest thou, Achilles, mindless of thy friend, neglecting not the living but the dead?" [11]

Roscoe awoke immediately, much troubled by the dream. 

The next night Emory Ball visited him again, and asking him the same question. What response Roscoe Corder made is between himself and Ball, but  Ball never reappeared. His body still lays somewhere under the lost road. 

  

  

 

                -POSTSCRIPT-                      

  

   

   

An announcement by higher headquarters which irritated the Rock Force greatly was the official announcement that Corregidor Island was secured and fighting was over on 22 February, and that thereafter only mopping up operations were being conducted. These official announcements were rash and premature, and not well received by the troops, who were still fighting and dying. It is  noteworthy that our RCT lost approximately 65 men KIA after this date - over one third of the men killed during the operation. Possibly we were fighting a stupid enemy who was too stupid to understand official communiqués.

The repulse of 23 February was a bitter pill for “E” Company to swallow. So close, yet so far. They had battled 9 hours to cover 700 yards and, for lack of ammunition, they were forced to give it up in a few minutes. The “E” Company History said they killed between 100 and 125 Japs. They had reached the tunnel entrance and battled the Japs face to face. This was the only way Battery Monja could ever be taken.

Another approach was made the next day by “D” Company, with equally unfortunate results. Rather than re-attack along the South Shore Road with plenty of ammunition,  flame throwers and bazookas,  they attacked from the opposite side in a gallant but wasted effort. Their attack never had a chance to succeed. How do you attack a casemate located over 100 feet above you, dug in the face of a sheer cliff, when you have to approach several hundred yards along an open narrow beach?

On 25 February, the 2d platoon returned to the area of the attack to retrieve the bodies of Ball and Jandro.  Continued shelling in the area had brought down more of the cliffs, and neither body could be found. The area was still under Japanese control and 2d platoon did not tarry long. They picked up Robinson’s body, which had started to decompose, and took it to the morgue at the old post cinema.

Battery Monja remained unconquered, which makes it one of the most extraordinary, yet little-known  places in the Pacific War. After the 503d were withdrawn from the island, the 34th Infantry Regiment attempted to “mop-up” the Wheeler Point, without success. On 1 January 1946 , after Pfc K. Ishikawa, who could read English, saw an old American newspaper with a picture of General MacArthur and their Emperor  together, a group of 20 soldierly Japanese surrendered to a Quartermaster Graves Registration Unit.  Most of them had lived in and near Battery Monja.

It was not until 1988 that the 503d reached Battery Monja, when Don Abbott and John Lindgren landed by banca at the base of Wheeler Point and climbed to the cut, and thence to the Monja’s parapet. Prior attempts to reach the area by following the  South Shore Road had failed, for a series of landslides had completely obliterated all evidence of the tunnel entrances, and even large sections of the road  itself.

So it was that the names of 2nd Lieutenant Emory N. Ball and Private Howard J. Jandro are now inscribed on the marble walls of the American Cemetery in Manila along with the names of the many others whose bodies were never recovered.

 

 

In his book General Flanagan makes the following statement:

“After Hill's company had neutralized the Wheeler Point area, Colonel Jones cou1d begin to plan the rest of his campaign to win back all of Corregidor ."  

This sounds remarkably like P.R. No.6.  The Japs just never knew that they were neutralized.

 

LINKS

Capt Hill's Monograph

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      -FOOTNOTES-

 

Care must be taken in studying the Hill Manuscript. The Authors consider it is flawed as a source of history, though it is of academic interest. For that reason the manuscript is presented as an annexure only and not in its own right or under its own title. 

 

4Hill, Capt. Hudson C. “The Operation of Company E, 503d Parachute Infantry Regiment at Wheeler Point,  Corregidor , 23 February 2945.” Monograph, The  Infantry School, 1958. 

 

[1] In his history Don mistakenly calls “C” Company “B” company.

[2] Hill, Capt. Hudson C. “The Operation of Company E, 503d Parachute Infantry Regiment at Wheeler Point, Corregidor , 23 February 1945 .” Monograph, The Infantry School, 1958. 

[3] There is an earthy expression commonly used among all soldiers to describe “works of fiction”.

[4] "C" Company

[5] A copy of these logs will be published as Appendix No.7 to Vol 4, "Bless 'Em All." .

[6] Correspondence to W.T.C. 

[7] Remarkably their injured doubled “F” company's 11 jump injuries, and “F” Company was fortunate to have none killed during the jump.

[8] Contrary to a claim in Flanagan’s book that Ball was there notwithstanding orders, Corder believes Hill never even noticed Ball’s presence with the 2nd platoon, and was unaware Ball was there as an F.O.

[9]  Conversation with Don Abbott

[10] Conversation, Corder and Calhoun, Mindoro

[11] Homer's Illiad – Bk. XXIII