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Fort Drum was located on El Fraile Island, about 7500 yards south of Caballo Island and by virtue of  its peculiar character, a static battleship in the southern approaches to Manila Bay,  it was the most unique of the Harbor Defense forts.  The island itself had been leveled and a reinforced concrete battleship-shaped structure measuring 350 feet long by 144 feet wide had been built upon it. The top deck of the 'battleship' was 40 feet above the mean low water and 20 feet thick, and housed 4 casemated 6in guns and a 60ft fire control cage mast. Its exterior walls ranged between approximately 25 feet and 36 feet thick, making it virtually impregnable to enemy naval attack.

Also unique to the defensive forts of the Philippines was that Ft. Drum was equipped with guns in armored turrets. The concept that forts could be attacked from the air would not be recognized for decades yet,  and the coastal defense forts of Manila Bay, notably Corregidor, being entirely open to the skies, would suffer extensively from the air in later decades.

 

BATTERY

No. Guns Cal. Type Troop Vertical Range Feet C.O. 3 (E, F&H)
Wilson 2 14-in TM E-59 20,000   E
Marshall 2 14-in TM E-59 20,000   E
McRea 2 6-in CM E-59 17,000   E
Roberts 2 6-in CM E-59 17,000   E
Hoyle 1 3-in PM E-59 10,000   E
Exeter (AA) 2 3-in AA E-59 27,000 Ft (Vert)   E
Fixed S/L 1   HD E-59    

F or H

 

AA S/L 1   Sperry 60-in Detachment of A-60 ("Albany")  

Capt. Madison, (USMC)

F or H

 

   
NOTES:  
2nd Bn. C.O.: Lt.Col Lewis S. Kirkpatrick (concurrent Ft. Drum Fort Commander located at Ft. Mills).
H.Q. Ft. Drum C.O.: Capt. Ben E. King (after reassignment from Btry Geary on Ft. Mills)
   
Composition of H.Q. at Ft. Drum :  
Battery E Wilson (2-14" TM guns each), Marshall (2-14" TM guns each), Roberts & McRae (2-6" CM guns each), Hoyle (1-3" RF gun) and Exeter (2-3" AA guns)
Battery F  
Battery H  
Additionally: AA S/L Detachment from A-60th ("Albany"): C.O. ?????

Fixed S/L Detachment and beach defense machine guns from Co.M, 4th Marines:
C.O. Capt. Samuel A. Madison

 

   

In the War Department Annual Report for 1913 Brigadier General E. Weaver, Chief of Coast Artillery reported in regard to the coastal defense Manila Bay:-

"The Armament of Corregidor Island is completed and mounted with the exception of four mortars which are now under manufacture and will be shipped this fall.

On Carabao Island the emplacements for the 14 inch batteries and mortar batters are practically completed. The guns and carriages will be shipped in the fall (1912) and mounted probably before the close of the fiscal year (June 30, 1913). With the installation of this armament the strength of the defenses of Manila Bay will be greatly increased. The fire control and search light installations for Carabao have proceeded simultaneous with the battery construction, and the mounting of the guns will complete the defense at that point.

On Caballo Island (Fort Hughes) the emplacements have been started, and the armament for the batteries are under construction.

It is believed that the last obstacle to the success of the project for the fortification of El Fraile Island (Fort Drum) has been met by the latest plan of construction."

The following year Brigadier General Weaver reported that:-

"Fortification construction continues at the entrance to Manila Bay and has progressed to include the completion of Fort Frank, Carabao Island; that at El Fraile and Caballo Islands is making good progress."

In early 1911 the blessing and curse of modern communication technology had reached Fort Drum. That year a 1/8 kilowatt radio was installed at Fort Drum  as well as on Carabao Island, Fort Wint and Fort Mills. It was only a small low-power station, and it was discontinued by 1914 because, as   Brigadier General G. P. Scriven, Chief Signal Officer of the Army explained, its use was no longer being necessary following the laying of submarine cables between the points.

War came to Fort Drum on 10 December when its decks were cleared of peace time temporary barracks, thus permitting all around fire for Battery Marshall (except for cage mast). On 13 January a small Japanese vessel approached Ternate on the Cavite shore but retreated promptly when Fort Drum opened fire with a 3-in gun (Battery Hoyle. Ed.) installed that morning on the stern of the ship.  Between 31 January and 5 February  some of the seacoast batteries which could fire on the south mainland were in action almost daily, especially those at Forts Frank, Drum and Hughes. Observation was very difficult from the fortified islands but Captain Ivey, 60th CA (AA), with a small party of enlisted men, using a walkie-talkie radio at an OP on the mainland, gave spotting data until his detail was attacked and driven out.

At 0812 hours on 6 February 1942 the first enemy artillery fire against the fortified islands fell on Forts Drum and Hughes and Corregidor shortly after 0800.  The bombardment came from 105-mm batteries on the Cavite mainland and lasted until about 1100. The principal concentration was against Fort Drum which received approximately 100 hits without, however, impairing its main fighting strength.

Observation to locate enemy batteries was difficult as most observers were looking directly at the sun. Based on the best information obtainable, the enemy fire was returned during the day by Battery Roberts (6-in) at Fort Drum and Batteries Koehler and Frank North at Fort Frank. Results were unknown.

Corregidor was the enemy objective of all attacks except that on 2 January, Fort Drum and on 5 January, Fort Frank were included objectives, and on 2 March the latter was the sole objective attacked.

The Pico de Lora hills on the adjacent Cavite shore, rising to a height of 2225 feet, completely dominated Fort Frank and the surrounding terrain. Under current war plans this area was to have been occupied by an infantry battalion and one battery of field artillery when the main forces found it necessary to withdraw to Bataan. However this plan was not followed and the Japanese were able to occupy this important observation post early in January 1942, and from it to adjust heavy concentrations of artillery fire on Forts Frank and Drum.

On 16 February, all fortified islands were shelled from Cavite Province beginning with Fort Drum at 2403. Exeter was damaged.

On 17 February was a repetition of previous artillery action. The enemy opened fire on Fort Drum at 0615, and again on Corregidor at 0854 switching to Fort Hughes at noon. Although sporadic, this harassing fire was nonetheless annoying.

The enemy opened fire promptly at 0730 on 15 March 1942 against Corregidor and Fort Frank, shifting to Fort Hughes at 0800, and Fort Drum at 0900. During the day Forts Frank and Drum received the brunt of the bombardment, each being under a heavy concentration of 240-mm howitzer fire for the first time.  Shells falling on Corregidor and Fort Hughes were still of 105-mm or 15cm caliber.  About 5% were duds.  At Fort Drum one 240-mm shell penetrated the casemate shield at Battery Roberts disabling one gun temporarily.   A fire was started but was extinguished before it reached the powder.  Several men were burned and gassed by the fumes in the casemate.  There were approximately 100 hits on Fort Drum.  In each instance,  the damag was light or repaired within a few hours.

Almost every day thereafter  various seacoast batteries at Forts Hughes, Drum, and Frank engaged every reasonable target on the Cavite mainland with artillery fire.

Later in March (or early in April)  Exeter was put out of commission permanently by enemy artillery fire from Cavite and Fort Drum's available means of active anti-aircraft defense was reduced to a few machine guns.  However, the enemy had never succeeded in bombing Fort Drum effectively from the air - in fact the japanese made very few attempts to bomb that fort either before or after Exeter's destruction so the loss of the battery was not keenly felt as it might otherwise have been.  Exeter's M-1 height finder and power plant were transferred to Idaho.  Such other parts of its equipment as might be of use in toto or in repairing damages sustained by other batteries, including its M-4 Director were transferred to Corregidor.

Enemy artillery fire from the Cavite shore in mid-March resulted in serious damage to the electrical control system of Albany's searchlight unit on Fort Drum. The light, however, was continued in service by manual control.

The Searchlight Defense picked up and carried the enemy every time he came within the range of the lights. Usually illumination by the lights appeared to confuse the aviators. In numerous instances the attackers would, when picked up and carried, turn away; sometimes to renew their efforts from another direction, sometimes abandoning their attempts altogether. Their bombing accuracy under illumination was extremely poor as compared to daylight bombings. The use of Bataan and Corregidor lights on some attacks and the Drum, Hughes, and Corregidor lights on other attacks caused the enemy aviators difficulty in keeping their bombing runs oriented and usually resulted in their dropping their bombs in the water.

Fort Drum was an additional objective on 20, 23, 29 April when 4 aircraft attacked it, without causing any damage.

Every day various seacoast batteries at Forts Hughes, Drum, and Frank engaged every reasonable target on the Cavite mainland with artillery fire.

On 7 May 1942 , when the Corregidor garrison surrendered, Drum was still in fighting condition.  The captured Fort Hughes garrison was transferred to the 92d CA Garage Concentration Camp on 8 May. Except for a small detachment,  the prisoners were detained without drinking water in the 92nd Garage area until removed to Manila by Japanese authorities, the majority being evacuated on 24 May.  Troops at Fort Drum and Fort Frank were consolidated at Wawa, Nasugbu, Batangas by the Japanese and were also evacuated to Manila on 24 May.

 

 

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