Defiladed in a hollow on Corregidor's Southern coast, Battery Geary had two mortar pits, with three  magazines, one at each side and one between the two pits. Armament was eight 12-inch [305mm] Mortars, four M1890  M1 on M1896M1 carriages in Pit A and four M1890 on M1908 carriages in Pit B. These could fire a 1000lb [4554.5 Kg]  deck piercing shell 700 lb [318Kg] High Explosive shell 8.3 miles [13.35 Km] in any direction. Maximum bagged charged weight was 63 lb [28.6Kg]. Minimum firing elevation was 45 degrees and maximum elevation was 70 degrees [M1890] or 65 degrees [M1908]. The vertical plunging trajectory of these mortars made them ideal against enemy entrenchments on the higher ground in Bataan.  Maximum rate of fire was one round each 45 seconds, though this was for crews at the peak of physical perfection. Each mortar required a four man crew.

 

 

The mortars were crewed  against the Japanese in 1941-42 by the 59th Coastal Artillery under Capt. Ben King, and later under Capt. John W. Davis III.  On 6 January 1942,  a Japanese bomb collapsed an incomplete shelter nearby killing 31 and wounding 3. Commencing January 26, in what was the first use of large caliber seacoast US Artillery against an enemy since the US Civil War, Geary was instrumental in defeating a Japanese landing at Longoskawayan Point on Bataan, firing for four days.

On 12 April, Geary opened counter battery fire against the Japanese artillery on Bataan,  enjoying it's immunity from return fire because it was in a defiladed hollow on the South side of the island, and thus invisible to the Japanese observers. Unfortunately, this was only temporary, as the Japanese arranged for aerial reconnaissance to locate the site,

On the morning of 2 May, the Japanese opened a 2,600 round barrage against the battery. At 1627 hrs, with the battery crews in action,  a 240mm round penetrated the centre magazine, detonating a massive explosion of 40 tons of explosives that utterly destroyed the battery, leaving a large crater where the magazine formerly was.

Another of the massive 10 ton barrels was smashed against the battery wall, half penetrating through an observation port.

grywreck.jpg (104310 bytes)

 

Remarkably, Captain Davis, seeing the Japanese 240mm shells begin to bracket Geary,  anticipated the explosion and had ordered his men to take cover in the far right magazine, and only 6 were killed, and the same number wounded.  Large pieces of concrete and munitions were hurled as far as a mile away, killing another 2 and wounding a further 31.   The force of the explosion hurled one of the 10 ton barrels over 150 yards on to the nearby golf course.

 

Fire in the Hole! Loaded and live, even today.

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(Al McGrew photo)

 

 

One of the fatalities was adjacent to Btty. Ramsey, almost half a mile away, where a soldier was pinned under a block of concrete larger than a jeep. He died of shock shortly after being taken to the Hospital lateral at Malinta.

Japanese sourced photograph taken 1942

 

Controversy exists over one of the 'missing' barrels which is no longer on the island.  A photograph of US troops crossing to the west side of the Pasig River clearly shows a mortar barrel laying on the bank.  This suggests that the Japanese were in the process of sending the barrel back to Japan for use as scrap iron.

A patrol of the 503d PRCT crosses Geary's wasteland in 1945 

 

Named after Capt. Woodridge Geary, a casualty of the 1899 US-Philippine war, construction was commenced in 1907 and completed 1911 at a cost of $145,198.

LOST CORREGIDOR
Lost Corregidor


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Main Photo: Carl Mydans (Used by permission of the Digital Journalist)