"I believe that then for the first time, did any of us really realize that Bataan was falling."

hyperlink presentation 1999 by Corregidor  Historic Society

 

 

 

 

1. Bataan (December 2, l94l- April 9, 1942)

 Prior to the time that saw the general mobilization of all units in the P.I., a thorough reconnaissance of Bataan had been conducted for AA guns and searchlight positions. Consequently, on November 29, 1941, when general mobilization was called, Battery "E" was prepared to move out by barge to Cabcaben, Bataan, with all of their war equipment. The movement into Bataan--their assigned war positions, was on December 2, 1941. By dint of much hard labor all that day and night, Battery "E" was in sector positions, ready for any eventuality, by December 3, 1941. At this time Battery Hdqtrs. was located at about "Little Baguio"--Kilometer 168.5 in the vicinity of the Engineer depot later Hospital #l. Captain William E. Massello was in command, with Lieutenants Portney, Cullison, and Weeks assisting and 1st Sgt. Leonard E. Goldsmith as chief non-commissioned officer. The various light positions remained very much the same throughout the war and may be located on the attached map.

Word was received early on the morning of December 8, 1941, of the attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese and the battery was alerted at once for possible surprise attack before dawn on the Harbor Defenses of Manila Bay. At this time it should be pointed out that the AA units on Bataan of the 60th CA had for their mission the supplementing of the AA units stationed on the fortified islands, thereby increasing the range of AA gun fire on attacking planes, and more especially increasing the range of illumination by searchlights of the Harbor Defenses against night attacks. Battery "E" consisted of some 10 complete searchlight sections, one RDF 268, necessary transportation, and a personnel of 159 officers and enlisted men.

The early days of the war were uneventful ones for the searchlight crews, with only additional hard work in perfecting their positions to compensate them for the failure of the Japanese to attack at night with their planes. Then on the night of December 17, 1941, a single Japanese bomber was picked up and illuminated by #9 light (Sgt. Kulinsky) and carried over Corregidor. Battery "E" had become a true war unit for the first time.

On or about January 25, 1942 the RDF at #1 light position (Sgt. Alson) picked up impulses of what they believed to be small ships some distance off Bataan in the China Sea. This was duly reported to higher headquarters, but because of so many wild and unfounded reports this one received little or no attention. It was only a matter of a very few days after this that a Japanese force of some 300 men was discovered on Langaskawaian Point and annihilated by combined Navy, Marine, and Philippine Scout forces. Captain Massello and lst Sgt. Goldsmith were active in this action, reconnoitering the area of Pucot Hill for possible threats to Battery "E" Light positions in the vicinity. One Japanese sniper was shot near #1 light position while this action was in progress. During this period, in addition to the night searchlight work, Battery "E" acted as a complete flash net for this sector of Bataan, relaying all reports of enemy planes observed to the AACP on Corregidor.

Shortly after the Langaskawaian Point episode, the Japanese landed a large force of several hundred men at Aglaloma Point under cover of darkness. In this action light #1, light #2 (Sgt. Hollingsworth), and light #4 (Sgt. Ellis) went into action. While their lights could not bear directly on the water area involved due to the masking terrain, the reflections of their beams off medium-low cloud formations is said to have been beneficial to defending ground troops in picking up the incoming landing barges.

About February 5, 1942 Private Jimmy Mitchell, a full-blooded Osage Ingian of Battery "E" , light section #2, noticed some human blood on bushes near his position. In true Indian fashion he followed the stains and tracked down a wounded Japanese soldier who had evidently escaped from the Aglaloma point action. About February 7, 1942, Technical' Sgt. Stensby and Sgt. Hollingsworth were cited for heroic action in putting out fires in an ammunition dump in Mariveles while the Japanese were heavily bombing the area, thereby saving a large quantity of small arms ammunition. For this meritorious action, Sgt. Hollingsworth received the D.S.C. and T/Sgt. Stensby was awarded the Silver Star.

Shortly after getting established on Bataan, Captain Massello located a much better position for Battery "E" headquarters at the top of the Zigzag, Kilometer 169.8, and proceeded to move into it. By February 15, 1942, the new camp was nearing completion and was voted one of the best camps in Bataan by many who saw it. Hard work and ingenuity on the part of both officers and men resulted in a camp placed on high, shady ground with comfortable living quarters, running water for kitchen, showers, day room supply room, sanitary latrines, motor park, and many other small innovations too numerous to mention here. Continued improvements were being made all the time on the camp, and at the time of the fall of Bataan preparations for the rainy season were well underway with several of the all-weather buildings already finished and the rest under construction.

During the remainder of February and the first three weeks of March 1942 quiet reigned on Bataan in the rear areas and the personnel of Battery "E" grew weary of night after night of being on alert and having no enemy action to combat. On March 20, 1942, Captain Massello was promoted to Major and became Battalion Executive of the 2nd Battalion, 60th CA. On the same date Captain Frederick A. Miller was assigned to command Battery "E".

About 9:00 A.M. March 24, 1942 observers on Bataan and Corregidor reported heavy bomber formations approaching Corregidor from all points of the compass, and soon the sound of bombs falling and exploding on Corregidor could be heard in our positions on Bataan. The second attack on Bataan and Corregidor was on in full scale. Activity on the front lines of Bataan was reported as greatly increased at the same time and our heavy artillery on the front could be plainly heard day and night laying down intense barrage fire on the attackers.

Everyone in Battery "E" was anxious to swing into night action again after the long period of inactivity, and the question on everyone's lips was, "Will they try night bombing of Corregidor?" The question was answered about 10:00 P.M., March 26, 1942, when 3 heavy bombers attempted to raid Corregidor flying at about 27,000 feet. Light #10 (Sgt. Ben Simpson), light #9, and light #7 (Sgt. Moureau) all were in on the pickup and illumination. Light #5 (Sgt. Koats), light #3 (Sgt. Murphy) and light #1 helped carry them toward Corregidor and turned them over to Battery "A" lights on Corregidor. All bombs were dropped in the water. During the next ten nights the Japanese raided Corregidor and Mariveles Harbor, normally sending over either 3 or 4 raids each night. The Japanese time of attack was nearly the same each night, usually beginning about 10:00 P.M. or 10:30 P.M., and ending at about 2:00 A.M. or 3:00 A.M. the next morning.

The effect of searchlight illumination on these night attackers seemed to be very great. It was seldom that the bombs dropped even hit Corregidor, let alone hitting any specific target on "the Rock." On several occasions the bombers appeared to be greatly upset by being blinded by the searchlight beams, and on one occasion three bombers appeared to be on the verge of collision in mid-air due to being blinded by the intense beams. One night three heavy bombers came over and were promptly illuminated. They proceeded on over Corregidor, released their bombs, and as usual nearly all of them dropped in the water. Since most of the attacks had been coming from the north or north west, our northern-most light positions were ordered to go out of action as soon as other lights had taken over the illuminated planes to carry them, and to start listening for other possible attacking planes. On this particular night lights #7, #8 and #10 had scarcely gone out of action before they reported motors to the north and went into action again, illuminating another flight of 3 heavy bombers which were attempting to sneak in behind the first flight and get a clear shot at Corregidor while all lights were focused on the first flight. However, through the alertness of the various light sections their plan was nipped in the bud and they too dropped their bomb load in the water. Through all this period the morale of the battery jumped to new heights since all the men now felt they were actively taking part in the war. During the daylight hours all men were exposed from time to time to the heavy bombing raids which the Japanese were conducting over the Bataan rear areas. Several times our searchlight positions received hits by high explosive and white phosphorous bombs, but luckily no casualties were suffered and no materiel damage inflicted. The battery communications lines, however, suffered heavily and our communications section (T/Sgt. Stansby) did yeoman duty day and night to keep lines in to our light positions and to the Corregidor cable. At the same time our maintenance sections, electrical (T/Sgt. Taylor) and motor (S/Sgt. Johler), kept all lights, power plants, and transportation operating perfectly.

Probably the closest call our camp had from a bombing raid occurred on about April 4 1942 when two flights of 9 heavy bombers each dropped their bombs in the area of Hospital #1. Battery "E"’s camp was actually only about 300 yards straight line distance from the hospital and several of the bombs landed within 50 to 75 yards of our main camp, one landed in the motor park area, and several others landed in the gulch behind the camp.

At 5:30 P.M., orders were received from Corregidor for the battery to be ready to furnish searchlight illumination that night as usual. Accordingly, all men were immediately sent back to their light positions. At 6:30 P.M., Colonel Chase, the Regimental Commander, called from Corregidor and ordered 5 complete searchlight units to be delivered to Cabcaben dock for shipment to Corregidor by 9:00 P.M. All available men and transportation, save one truck, were immediately placed on this task.

All information as to the enemy’s whereabouts which had been received were of entirely unofficial origin — the truth is that no one knew exactly how far they had progressed after breaching our lines. Therefore, in order to try to prevent the unexpected, outpost lines were established between our camp and the enemy. Later information received while a prisoner of war, proved this to be unnecessary, but at the time it was believed expedient. The situation remained in a state of complete flux until about 11:30 P.M. when all Corregidor units on Bataan were ordered to proceed to Quarantine station dock at Mariveles, where water transportation would be available to carry them to Corregidor.

Preparations were begun at once for thoroughly destroying all equipment and for moving personnel to Mariveles. Our motor park was set afire as was our camp, gasoline being used to drench buildings,shops, etc. and then applying the torch. Word was sent to all sections immediately to destroy all equipment and proceed at once to Mariveles. All trucks, as I have stated, were being used to transport the 5 complete searchlight units to Cabcaben, except one small 1 ton Chevrolet. Consequently, it meant that the men' at the light positions would have to walk to Mariveles. No contact was possible with the group who were on their way to Cabcaben. #7 and #10 lights, on the main road, were told to be on the watch for them. The roads were clogged with vehicles and pedestrians, all moving toward Mariveles. To find my lost trucks in such a torrent of humanity would have been like seeking a needle in a haystack.

At Midnight the Ordnance magazines at Little Baguio about a kilometer from our camp were blown up and the light from the fires made everything seem like day, while the tremendous explosions rocked the ground under us. Not to be outdone, Mother Nature staged a very sharp earthquake which lasted at least one minute. It was by far the most severe I had ever witnessed in the Philippines in some 3years.

The remaining men at battery headquarters entrucked at about 3:30 A.M., April 9, 1942, and started for Mariveles. Our trip was a most exciting one. As we passed slowly down the zigzag, weaving in and out among the stalled trucks, buses, and cars on the road, the burning Ordnance magazines on top of the ridge lighted our way and showered us with falling debris such as 75 mm. cartridge cases, shrapnel cases, etc. As we reached the Naval Section Base, the personnel there were blowing their tunnels and the explosions were tremendous. As we reached the end of the Section Base area, our truck slipped into a huge bomb crater at the side of the road and turned completely over. Most of the men were thrown clear, and it was a miracle that no one was killed or at least seriously injured. As it was, all our personal belongings, our battery safe, and our canned emergency rations were buried in a huge pile under the overturned truck. To have salvaged it would have taken hours — hours which we could not spare. We walked on into Mariveles and as we reached there, long range Japanese batteries opened fire on the area, adding to the confusion. We were ushered on toward Quarantine dock by Military Police, who were having their hands full in keeping all of the maddened crowd of stragglers from trying to go to Corregidor. We had no trouble in identifying ourselves however, and proceeded on to the dock.

Arriving there we found the large inter-island steamer "Elcano" and the minesweeper "Cheswick" tied up to the dock. Part of my men were there, but how many it was difficult to tell in all of the confusion. We went aboard the "Cheswick" and left almost at once for Corregidor. The smoke from the burning depots in the hills of Bataan drifted high above and the moon showing through the edge of this smoke cloud, throwing a ghastly light on everything. Occasionally a large projectile would explode on the shore or in Mariveles harbor as we steamed out of the harbor entrance and made for Corregidor. We presented a beautiful target for dive bombers in the moonlight and there were planes droning overhead too, but for some reason they never attacked us.

Immediately after the bombing many of the Battery "E" men who were in camp went to Hospital #1 and aided in helping the wounded there.

Beginning about April 4, 1942 the Japanese gave up their night bombing raids and concentrated on all-out daylight raids. One evening at about 6:00 P.M., several dive bombers attacked the "Dewey", Navy floating dry-dock in Mariveles harbor. All machine guns and AA guns in that area opened fire, including our #3 light, which had a .50 caliber air-cooled machine gun. One dive bomber came out over Mariveles harbor and banked sharply around Cochinas Point to return to the attack. The pilot was entirely exposed at close range to effective .50 caliber fire from #3’s gun, and the plane went into a stall and crashed into Manila Bay off Cochinas Point, the pilot bailing out before the plane crashed. Men at #3 light followed the pilot in the binoculars and saw him land and swim to a lone rock which protruded above the surface. The other Jap planes circled the area and machine-gunned the pilot several times, after which our observers saw him lose his hold on the rock and slide into the sea and was not seen again.

Rumors of a breach in our front lines began spreading among our men on April 6, 1942. Stragglers from the front were occasionally seen coming past our camp and our men were getting stories from them. The Battalion Commander, Lieut. Colonel Howard Breitung, went to USFIP Hdqrs to try to get latest news of developments at the front, but could learn little except that a major drive was on by the Japanese. We assembled our men and talked to them about conditions, telling them the truth of what we knew in order to relieve their minds of the vicious rumors they were hearing, and to prepare them for an eventuality. This had the desired effect of quieting them and stabilizing them, and at no time during later events was there any semblance of confusion or panic among them. While they had never been in any hand-to-hand combat, naturally, nevertheless the men of Battery "E" were seasoned troops and feared neither man nor devil.

All during the day and night of April 7th and throughout the day of April 8th the stragglers from the front going toward the rear increased. Most of then were Philippine Army men without arms and occasionally some harried shell-shocked American. The Filipinos carried the inevitable "cuau" bag with some rice and salt in it, and when you would stop one and ask him where his rifle was the invariable answer was, "I have lost it, sir." When asked where he was going he would answer, "To find my companion in Mariveles, sir." This stream of stragglers grew by leaps and bounds and early in the afternoon of April 8th trucks and buses began to appear, all heading toward Mariveles with Filipinos piled inside on the tops, on running boards, on fenders, and even on the bumpers.

At 2:30 P.M, April 8th, Colonel Breitung called the Battery and said that he had received orders from USFIP Hdqtrs. for us to establish a straggler line armed with rifles and bayonets and to turn all stragglers back toward the front. In addition we were given authority to draw unlimited rice and corned beef from the Quartermaster food dump at Kilometer 165 and to feed these stragglers a hot meal before turning them back toward the front. Throughout the rest of the afternoon and early evening our cooks worked unceasingly to prepare food for the mob of stragglers. When confronted by our straggler line most of the stragglers would turn around and start back in the direction of the front although I seriously doubt whether they went past the second bend in the road, out of sight.

At 4:00 P.M. Colonel Breitung called all of his Battery Commanders to a conference at his headquarters and told us that he had offered the services of his battalion /Battery G, 60th CA; Battery E 60th CA; Hq. Battery, 2nd Battalion, 60th CA; and Battery C, 91st CA (PS)/ to fight as infantry, and to be used in establishing a new line. Our front line in the vicinity of Mount Samat had been breached, so it seemed, the Japanese were pouring through, and the situation was critical. I believe that then for the first time, did any of us really realize That Bataan was falling.

In accordance with the Colonel's orders, I called in all men who were out at positions, leaving only 2 men as guards at each position. Preparations were immediately made for reorganizing as infantry unit —issuing automatic rifles, ammunition, hand grenades, and what machine guns we had. In addition our emergency rations were broken out and prepared for loading on a truck, as well as all empty containers being filled with drinking water and loaded on our trucks. We didn't know where or when we were going, but we were going with everything we had.

 

 

II. CORREGIDOR (APRIL 9 - MAY 6, 1942)

 

We reached north dock, Corregidor, at about 6:00 A.M. and were met by Lieut. Colonel Barr and other members of the Regimental staff who instructed me to move my battery to Middleside bomb-proof and await orders there. We proceeded up Pump House Trail, some 90 of us, followed by Battery, "G", Hdqtrs. Btry. Hq. 2nd Bn, and part of Battery "C", 91st C.A. (PA). We reached Middleside tunnel and dropped in our tracks there from sheer exhaustion. Later in the day a kitchen was set up in Middleside barracks, rations were delivered by the QM., and the men received a good hot meal.

Colonel Breitung and Major Massello made arrangements with the Harbor Defense Commander for Battery "E" to take over and man Battery Way, a 12 inch seacoast Mortar battery which had not been manned since 1935. Up until this time it had been used during the war first as the AACP and then as the blueprints division of the Corps of Engineers. Consequently, it was in no condition to be manned at present without a great deal of work being done first. All Engineer equipment was moved out, the battery was cleaned up, 12 inch mortar powder was brought back into the battery which had been moved out and piled along roads and trails, double-deck wooden bunks were built, and after some two weeks of preparations the battery moved in.

In the meantime, while this renovation work was going on at Battery Way many other things were taking place. First of all, beginning on April 9 and continuing for several days, members of Battery "E" continued returning to Corregidor from Bataan by banca or power boat and in numbers of from one to as high as forty at one time. In the end all members returned save some 7 or 8, four of whom had been too ill to be removed from the hospital. In the second place, gun crews had been organized and had begun drilling in the gun pits at Battery Geary, the other mortar battery on Corregidor, under the supervision of the trained non-commissioned officers of that battery. In addition, fire control equipment was being rounded up all over Corregidor for the Way plotting room —plotting board here, Pratt range board there, something else from some other place.

On April 15th, the Battery was greatly shocked and deeply grieved when several of the men were killed or seriously wounded in the Middleside Service Club building when it was hit and destroyed by heavy aerial bombs. Corporal Cashey, Pfc. Baitchman, Pvt. McCracken and Pvt. Faulkner were killed outright or died of wounds later. These men had been sent there to find suitable material for making wooden bunks at Battery way. While there they had been caught in an air raid and took cover inside the building, which suffered a direct hit. Their loss was a severe blow to the entire battery for they were good soldiers and had many friends.

In addition to manning Battery Way, Battery "E" had been given the assignment of organizing some 5 mobile searchlight units, using extra equipment not in use on Corregidor for dual purpose AA and beach defense illumination. This unit will be covered in a separate part of this history.

The battery moved into Battery Way about April 23rd, or two weeks after coming back to Corregidor. Our kitchen was kept in Middleside barracks for about a week or ten days thereafter, until a suitable kitchen and mess hall could be established in the old Radio Station near Battery Way which had been hit by a bomb on December 29, 1941, and completely wrecked. This arrangement necessitated sending the men from Battery Way to Middleside Barracks for meals, often while the area was under bombardment, and was quite an inconvenience and added danger for all personnel.

Having moved into Battery Way, the real work began in putting the finishing touches on the training of the gun crews by long periods of artillery drill and in organizing and training an efficient range section. In addition, a system of strong revetments was constructed using salvaged lumber and galvanized iron sheeting to form the frameworks (3 feet thick and 12 to 15 feet high), bound by heavy wire and nails, and then filled with rock and dirt. All this meant long hours of hard work for everyone but there was very little grumbling and after the first intense shelling at Battery Way the men realize the value of the revetments and were glad they had been built.

At this time it might be well to describe Battery Way in a little more detail. It consisted of one pit of four guns, 1903 type, one of which had been seriously damaged by aerial bombardment on December 29,1941, and had never been repaired. The powder magazine had been emptied when the Battery was being used as the AACP, but had been refilled by us after manning. The projectile rooms were filled with 700 lb. DP, 824 lb. DP, 1046 lb. DP, and 690 lb. personnel projectiles. For a plan of the Battery see Diagram 1. Battery Way is located almost in the geographical center of the large part of the island of Corregidor, and therefore was one the bulls-eye of the target in all aerial Bombardments. Over the magazines and projectile rooms was some 10' to 18' of reinforced concrete, covered by anywhere from 6' to 10' of hard earth, with small trees and bushes growing on top. Even this amount of overhead cover did not constitute a bomb-proof, however, for on December 29, 1941 during the heavy bombing of that day a heavy caliber bomb penetrated the dirt covering and enough of the concrete to crack the ceiling in one of the powder magazines. Nevertheless, it was excellent protection against bombs and against all types of artillery fire. The plotting room and officers' quarters, however, had only a cover of about one foot of reinforced concrete with no dirt covering.

Living quarters at Battery Way were of necessity crowded and men slept in every available space in the projectile rooms as well as in a concrete covered draining canal which ran under the railroad tracks nearby but which was dry and airy at this time of year. As a matter of fact, practically the whole battery slept out in the open gun pit on most nights until heavy artillery shelling made this practice too dangerous. An unused searchlight power plant furnished us with electric lights and with power to run the ventilating fans which we installed at the back of each projectile room at the entrances to the ventilating shafts, in order to assure fresh air at all times to the sleeping men.

Inasmuch as all the permanent observation stations were already manned by personnel of the Seaward Defense Command and since we were to operate directly under their command, it was decided that observation and spotting would be furnished for our battery by C-l. Our plotting board was prepared with a coordinate grid map of the Bataan-Corregidor area and our targets designated by grid coordinates, thereby making it a simple problem to compute firing data. All firing data was by Case III.

The entire battery was champing at the bit for its first action, and we were promised by C-l that we would be used at the first opportunity available. However, it was felt by C-l that we needed more time to organize and train, so we were probably denied several days firing which we would have had otherwise. This added time was not wasted though, for revetments continued to be built and the gun pit rang with the hustle of artillery drill off and on during the day. We made it a practice of holding these drills at various times- -blowing a whistle during the middle of the work and calling the battery to "battle stations."

On the morning of April 26, 1942, without any warning, we were given our first opportunity to fire, the target being an enemy gun position on Bataan — range about 10,500 yards. We were told to fire 700 lb. D.P. projectiles with the .05 second delay pellet removed--making instantaneous fuzes on the projectiles. We computed firing data, put in our ballistic corrections, and gave the command to open fire with our three guns. The first salvo was off with a mighty roar and we waited anxiously for our spot. C-l soon reported, "No change. Fire 4 more salvoes, same data." At the end of these salvoes, the report came in "Target destroyed. Cease firing." The reaction of the men was immediate. They had actually thrown their first steel and high explosive at the enemy, and their morale was bursting all bounds.

Battery Way fired several problems in the next several days and the results were very encouraging. C-l seemed pleased with the results and the Seaward Defense Commander sent word to the battery that we were doing O.K. and to keep up the good work. April 29, 1942 will be a day long to be remembered by all on Corregidor. The Japanese Emperor's birthday, our enemy decided to conduct birthday greetings in a big way. All of Corregidor was submitted to a terrific pounding all that long day. Battery Way was shelled hard but luckily we sustained little damage to materiel and none to personnel.

On April 30, 1942 while firing a problem against enemy positions in Bataan, enemy artillery suddenly opened on our position and put down a withering barrage on us. Luckily, their opening rounds were either short or over and the men got under cover in time before they found the range. However, Corporal Chelseg L. Hall, gun commander of one of the gun sections went back into the pit to secure his gun, and returning to cover was hit in the back by a stray flying fragment which pierced his lung and he died within 5 minutes from the internal hemorrhage. The entire battery was shocked by his sudden death, for he was a fine soldier and well liked by everyone. However, the men only resolved to avenge his death as best they could and carried on. They had long since learned that such occurrences must be expected in war.

The enemy shelling continued with growing intensity during the next few days. Clearly, they were in an all-out attempt to soften Corregidor with their artillery preparatory to attempting a landing. About 3:00 P.M. the afternoon of May 2, 1942, in the midst of an intensive bombardment, Battery Geary, the other 12" mortar battery on Corregidor, blew up from an exploding 240 mm. shell in its powder magazine. The explosion was tremendous and shook Corregidor to its foundations. All that was left of Geary was a huge gaping hole in the ground. Battery Way was now the only mortar battery left on Corregidor, and we had been hit hard too. No. 3 and No. 4 guns had sustained direct hits on the muzzles during the barrage, and the barrels were cracked clear through and the rifled portion of the bore was pushed in some 2 to 3 inches making it an absolute impossibility to fire either of them. That left us one serviceable gun, No. 1, and one which might be repaired, No. 2, which had been bombed out on Dec. 29, 1941. We immediately set about taking parts off the damaged guns to patch up No. 1 gun, but it was a job which required much time and our men had had no experience in that kind of work.

At noon May 5, 1942 all available guns on Corregidor were ordered to open fire on various designated targets on Bataan. The barrage was terrific and lasted for some 30 to 45 minutes. The Japs did not fire a single round in return. The same order was on for 6:00 P.M. that evening, but was not as successful as the noon barrage for the Japs opened fire heavily and silenced some of our batteries at once.

We received orders as soon as we had finished firing our ... to be ready to fire at 10:00 P.M. at a concentration of Jap barges at Langaskawian Point. However, when l0:00 P.M. came we were told to stand by until 1:00 and call back C-l for instructions. Accordingly at 11:00 C-l told us to be on the alert but to go to bed with our clothes on and get some sleep. At about 12:00 midnight the Japs dropped a single artillery shell just outside the door to the officers' quarters at Battery Way— evidently one of 150 mm. Size — which awakened all concerned. The steel door and steel shutters on the windows were pierced by fragments, but fortunately the projectile landed so close that the pattern of fragments was almost vertical, thereby causing no casualties.

We had hardly moved inside under more cover when the order came from C-1 for us to open fire on the area between North Point and Infantry Point and just off the shore with 690 pound personnel projectiles, and to continue firing until further orders. Within 5 to 10 minutes data was computed and the first round was on its way. We were firing at almost minimum range (2800 yards). For almost an hour we fired continuously, firing as fast as we could, with no enemy opposition. Then suddenly a concentrated counter-battery barrage began to fall on our position and lasted off and on for about a half hour. As soon as it slackened, we began firing again after sweeping up the debris in the gun pit so that the projectile trucks could get to the guns.

All during the small hours of the morning the firing continued, with alternate gun crews spelling each other from time to time as the men grew tired. All during the night the men were grimly determined, for we had been told when we opened fire that the Japanese were attempting a landing on our little island. If they were frightened by the thought of what might happen to them, they never showed it. The first several rounds fire were each heavily chalked with the names of the men in the battery who had already made the supreme sacrifice, and as each round was fired Sgt. Charley Hollingsworth, who was firing the piece by means of the magneto would yell, "Here's one for you, Tojo" or some similar remark.

During the course of the early morning we fired, and on up until day dawned. Then a salvo of enemy shells burst right in the pit while the crew was reloading, and those inside ran into the pit to give aid — afraid of what they knew they would find. They started carrying their wounded comrades inside to the dispensary, and soon the floor of the dressing room was covered with their blood. Almost as soon as they were evacuated another gun crew was in place, and the firing continued. During the entire night we heard only one other gun besides ours firing — a "roving" 155 mm. gun near the Ordnance Machine Shop. Our communication lines had long since been blown out, so we had contact with no one else.

Then disaster struck us another severe blow at about 7:00 A.M. when the Jap artillery once again landed on our position, causing more casualties and putting our gun out of action. We then set about to take care of our wounded as well as we could. Major Massel was badly wounded, as was Lieut. Lucker, 515th CA (AA) who had joined us on our return from Bataan. Corporal William R. Graham was badly wounded, and dying, and several others were in bad shape from loss of blood and shock. We sent a runner to Battery Hearn to use a telephone and try to get us an ambulance. He soon returned, saying they had no ambulances available and all wounded must be sent to Wheeler Tunnel where an emergency hospital had been set up. We had no transportation, but Pvt. James H. Farmer volunteered to get some. And although the area was still under enemy fire, Pvt. Farmer found a truck, repaired the ignition system, and brought it to Battery Way. The injured men were loaded and he drove them to Wheeler Tunnel.

The rest of the men at the battery were put to work clearing up to occupy their minds but further firing was hopeless. Our gun was badly crippled from flying fragments and would need much work done on it. In addition it was so hot from the all night's firing that the breech block refused to open. We had fired some 121 rounds during the course of the night out of this one gun.

About 11:00 A.M., May 6 1942, a passing officer stopped in at Battery Way and told us we were surrendering at noon and to destroy all equipment prior to noon. Accordingly, steps were taken to confirm this news and when it had been officially confirmed, the men were ordered to destroy all their small arms.

This accomplished, we had the cooks open up all the available food and part of our reserve ration and feed the men a good, hearty meal. We then settled down to waiting to see what would happen next. We didn't have long to wait. About 2:00 P.M. a flight of heavy bombers came over and dropped their bombs right in, on, and around us. Then dive bombers came, down low since all resistance had ceased at noon, and proceeded to bomb us heavily. This continued until about 5:00 P.M., at which time we went to make arrangements with Battery Hearn for us to move in there for the night.

We spent the night at Battery Hearn, and were ordered to fall in at 5:00 A.M. the next morning and march to Bottomside to be surrendered to the Japanese. So ended our wartime service.


Battery History, Battery "E", 60th CA (AA)

 

 

The Battery Histories which appear on this website are due to a long line of men,  many whose names will never be known.  These men, at the risk of their lives, wrote them from memory and created the original documents whilst incarcerated in Japanese POW Camps. They then concealed  the documents for the duration.   Not every battery history has survived the war, and their loss is part of the tragic story of Japanese indifference to human life in their custody.  

At the end of the line of these men who have preserved these histories, are George Munson and Al McGrew (himself a POW),  who have enabled me to put them into the public domain on this website.

Paul F. Whitman
Corregidor Historic Society

 

SEE ALSO ON THIS TOPIC:   

MASSELLO (by sprengle) | MASSELLO (by murphy) BATTERY CONTROL

LOST CORREGIDOR
Lost Corregidor


Field Notes

ANGELS OF MERCY
Angels of Mercy

ECO CORREGIDOR
Eco Corregidor

       

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