"THE U.S.N. AT CORREGIDOR"
_________________
Paul F. Whitman


 

 

During the period of 13 February through 17 February, 1945, the U.S. Navy participated in pre-invasion shore bombardment, counter-battery fire, minesweeping and mine-sweeper covering operations in the Manila Bay area, in support of the amphibious landings of Task Group 78.3 at Mariveles and Corregidor.

The landing at Mariveles was made February 15 and at Corregidor on February 16, 1945. During this time and subsequently it was necessary to silence numerous Japanese gun positions, which sought to interfere with the progress of the invasion and naval forces. There was also the constant necessity of sinking floating mines which had been cut adrift by the mine sweepers.

During the operations, the navy lost minesweeper YMS-48, and sustained damage to the destroyers Fletcher, Hopewell, Radford and La Fallette.

A Medal of Honor was awarded, posthumously, for action on the USS Fletcher. At 1326, February 14, 1945, Fletcher was struck by a projectile estimated to be at least 6 inches in size.  An explosion occurred as the projectile passed through the main deck, starboard side forward at frame 25, about 3 feet in-board. Fragments killed three men in gun #1, two men in gun #1 handling room and wounded six others.  Gun #1 was immediately out of commission and gun #2 had to be secured shortly because of severed hydraulic leads and oil leakage making loading impossible. Other fragments penetrated below to gun #1 magazine where three powder cases were hit and set afire.  Numerous electrical leads were also cut which rendered the sonar gear and fathometer inoperative.

The crux of the Damage Control problem presented was the prompt extinguishing of the fire in gun #1 magazine, as the various perforations of the deck and shell plating were above the water-line and of no consequence to the safety of the ship.

Task Force 78

Details of the Mariveles/Corregidor Task Force 78.3

 

 
USS FLETCHER (DD-445) 
 

 The USS Fletcher's Combat Action Report is courtesy of USS Fletcher Reunion Group, Webmaster Earl Faubion. Official U..S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives, courtesy of Naval Historical Center.  

VISIT THE USS FLETCHER WEBSITE

 

Below - the Shell entry hole on the fo'c'sle of the USS Fletcher, 14 Feb, 1945.

When the explosion occurred and the fire broke out in the magazine, the magazine crew bailed out without hesitation and made their way topside at high speed. Seeing these men, Elmer Bigelow, WT2c, a member of Repair II, and Mackin, SSML3c, sensed that the magazine was on fire.  They rushed below with CO2 extinguishers and Bigelow, sensing the extreme urgency of the situation, went down into the heavy smoke of the magazine without a mask  while Mackin handed him the bottles.  Bigelow later reported that he could see nothing but the glow of the fire in the thick smoke and that the two bottles of CO2 directed at this glow put it out.

Meanwhile, Russell, CGM, having learned that there was a magazine on fire, flooded No. 2 magazine, under the impression that that was the one so affected.  No. 1 magazine was flooded about 90 seconds later. Fletcher was not put out of action, and at 1415, she stood in toward YMS-48 in North Channel 1100 yards off the beach, Alasin Point, Bataan, which was dead in the water and afire from shell hits, to pick up survivors in accordance with orders from CTG 77.3. Smoker planes laid smoke screen over the batteries on Corregidor to cover Fletcher's rescue work.  Withdrawing from the stricken minesweeper, she sank it with 40mm gunfire at 1433 hrs.

The following day, February 15, D-1,  Elmer Bigelow died of pneumonia brought on by breathing the CO2 fumes.

Also on D-1, USS La Vallette ("La Vadilly") was operating in support of minesweepers in the North Channel, and fouled a mine herself, sustaining major damage and losing six  dead and 23 wounded. While maneuvering to take her in tow, USS Radford also struck a mine. Both ships were able to retire under their own power.

 

CORREGIDOR OPERATION AS SEEN FROM THE
USS PHOENIX (CL-46)
 

 

Column of five light cruisers leaving Subic Bay en route to bombard Corregidor, 13 February 1945. Phoenix is followed by (from left to right): USS Boise (CL-47); USS Denver (CL-58); USS Cleveland (CL-55); and USS Montpelier (CL-57).Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives, courtesy of Naval Historical Center ,

Shore Bombardment Off  Corregidor , D-1
15 February 1945

 Fire Support Unit "A" under the command of Rear Admiral  Berkey  included the destroyers Hopewell, Nicholas, Taylor and O'Bannion. Pictured  are the light cruiser USS Boise (CL-47) and the destroyer Taylor conducting close-in bombardment of Corregidor. Source: USS Taylor World War II cruise book, courtesy of Dome Island Press.


Bombardment of  Corregidor 

 

At 1440 hrs., Fletcher sighted two shore installations on Corregidor bearing 133(T), range 3800 yards.  Obscured by smoke, and with the assistance of a cruiser-based spotter aircraft, Fletcher was able to pump round after round into the area of a tunnel from where the fire was thought to be originating.  Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives, courtesy of Naval Historical Center ,

Rear Admiral Russell S. Berkey, USN
 

Speaks to another ship via electric megaphone (or "loud hailer") from the bridge of his flagship, USS Phoenix (CL-46), during the pre-landing bombardment of Corregidor, 15 February 1945. The original caption identifies the ship being spoken to as HMAS Australia, which was not present. It may refer to HMAS Shropshire, whose appearance was similar to that of Australia. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives, courtesy of Naval Historical Center

The USS La Vallette at  Corregidor  hit by land based controlled mine
 

Radford and La Vallette relieved the damaged Hopewell and Fletcher on 14 February. The following day, D-1,  "LaVadilly" was operating in support of minesweepers there, and fouled a mine herself, sustaining major damage and losing six  dead and 23 wounded. While maneuvering to take her in tow, USS Radford also struck a mine. Both ships were able to retire under their own power. Photo courtesy of Dave McComb, of USS Nicholas Association Website

Shore Bombardment , North Channel,  Corregidor
 

Preparation for the invasion took three days, and persuaded Corregidor's Japanese Commander that his forces would be facing a seaborne invasion from Mariveles.  Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives, courtesy of Naval Historical Center ,

 

             U. S. N.   K.I.A.'s    O F F   C O R R E G I D O R           

 

 (Losses/Dates are extracted from the Official Chronology of the US Navy in World War II)

 

 

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Last Updated: 02-01-15

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Materials concerning USS Fletcher DD-445 
2003 USS Fletcher Reunion Group, Inc.
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Materials concerning USS Hopewell DD-681
2003 USS Hopewell DD-681 Association
By permission, courtesy of Noel Nichols