VISIT TO A NEARBY ISLAND
(Part 2)

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Tony Feredo 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Saturday, March 18 - Woke up at around 5:00am.  Noticed that the wind was very strong.  No rains but it was blowing and howling like hell.  The windows slammed.  Too strong for a morning breeze.  As the dawn’s early light approached, I looked at the North Shore and saw the “white caps”. Looked at South Dock and the sea was calm.  We are scheduled to go to Fort Frank, Carabao Island today.

Met with the gang for breakfast.  Wind was still going strong.  Looks like a dry “freak” storm.  We were playing it by gut-feel whether we should proceed to Fort Frank or not.  After some discussions, we decided to give it a go.  Went down to the North Dock.  The waves was just pounding.  We boarded a banca assigned by Lt. Col. Matibag for us.  We were escorted by our trusted banca man Pete Bunso and another coast guard fellow (together with his M-16 rifle).

Things somewhat started not right.  First of all the banca motor (which we named “Old Betsy”) had a hard time starting.  As soon as we got going, the motor conked out just before we hit Rock Point.  It took us another 15 minutes to have it started.  The tides were getting rough and we were getting a little soaked.  We were again deciding whether to continue or not and then Old Betsy started working.  We continued our journey (slowly) until we reached the south side were the waters were a little calmer.  We then headed towards Fort Frank, Carabao Island.  The journey was slow and the seas were rough.  Near Carabao Island we were looking for a nice spot to land. Our old landing site (via the wall at the old distilling plant) was open but we decided to circle around.  As we approached the old Fort Frank Wharf facing North, we found the tides to rough.  We decided to go back to the wall entrance.

When we reached there we had a discussion.  We can go in the Fort but the problem is we face the possibility of being trapped.  At low tide, the entry to the walls visible but by 11:30am the tide will begin to swell and it will engulf the opening.  We figured that we needed at least three hours to explore Fort Frank but because we face the possibility of getting trapped, we decided to cancel it.  Anyway most of us (except Nelson) has been to Fort Frank in the past.

We then told the crew to steer us to Fort Drum.  We have no intentions of landing; we just wanted to get close enough for Nelson to have a photo shoot.  The banca men told us that a group of Australians who went to visit the Concrete Battleship were trapped inside when their boat could not pick them up because of the swell.  They had to wait or else the boat would slam against the walls of the fort.  A similar fate happened to visiting CDSG members in 1991 when they were trapped for hours and they were only extracted near (or just after midnight).

 

After our photo shoot of Drum, we headed back to Corregidor but we decided to investigate the south shore of Fort Hughes, Caballo Island and take snapshots of SL# 11.  Afterwards we headed back to Fort Mills to have our lunch.

In the afternoon, we decided to climb Malinta Hill to visit SL # 8 and the 75mm gun shelter. Our trek to the top was OK.  We did not bring a bolo and no need for hiking boots. Karl (as usual with his trained eyes) picked up a lot of .30 cal ammunition (intact) and Japanese 6.5mm and 7.7mm rounds.  We reached the top.  We decided to go to SL # 8 first and then work our way back.  SL # 8 is still intact there a lot of small artifact scattered around.  One thing that got us interested is the shaft at the back of the SL.  Looked like there used to be a mount for flooring. I remember Jim Black telling me that there is a “mini Malinta Tunnel on top of the hill.  I did not bother to look for it.

After SL # 8, we went back to the gun shelter.  We took pictures of the SL power room (just beside the 75mm gun shelter and then went to the other side.  There was another 75mm gun shelter which was blasted and we noticed some air shafts protruding on the ground (this may be part of the “tunnel” Jim Black was mentioning?)  We passed by G3 (for Battery Geary and Way or known as “East Mortar”) and then moved down to the East Officers Defense Station.  Going back, we were debating as to where the Navy 1.1 Quadruple gun (“pom-poms” was mounted. Our photo shows that is was somewhere in between the two airshafts.  As I recall, I can only see one of the shafts.  So it was just they’re somewhere. (I know we were just stepping on it)

We went down the hill and then decided to pass through Malinta Tunnel back to the hotel.  We visited the old infantry trench just near RJ-43.  We passed by Malinta Tunnel and exited to the west entrance.  Went back to the hotel, rested for a while and planned to bring Nelson to Malinta Tunnel in the evening.  Visited Malinta Tunnel explored the laterals and went to the Navy tunnel. After our tunnel tour, we went back, had dinner and turned in at around 9:30pm.

 

Sunday, March 19 - My last day on the island.  We spent the morning at the tail portion of the island.  We started at Kindley Field, took pictures of the UCS and then the debate on the UCS as a gun battery continued again (I do believe that it was built originally as a battery).  Anyway we cut the argument short.  Took pictures of Kindley Field and then went to the Navy Intercept Tunnel.  We just walked to the path that led to the opening.  None of us wanted to go in because we did not bring our rope.  I did not want to do anything daring since I was to go back to Manila in the afternoon  (That will be for the next trip).

Drove up to Battery Maxwell Keyes and walked into the battery.  The emplacement is still there but overgrown with plants and vines.  Took pictures and then headed back.  We visited the Japanese peace garden for Nelson to see and then he decided to split and explore the old NC quarters while we visited Water Tank hill.  We were trying to look for Battery Denver but we decided to can it because the brush was thick.  We then fetched Nelson and then decided to try for Infantry Point to look for Battery Kysor and the 75mm gun blocks.

As we were looking for a trail to Infantry Point, Glen and I wandered off to hit a pile of concrete structures.  Only two find out two weeks later that we hit the old Fort Mills Balloon hangar that we were looking for since last year.  A great accidental discovery. 

Because of limited time (for me) we decided to look for Battery RJ-43.  

We hiked a few meters up (at the back of the Mother Mary Memorial) until we found the Battery.  Just a concrete base with some bolts sticking out of what was left of the 8-inch M1888 RR Gun on a barbette carriage. 

After RJ-43, we headed back to the hotel for lunch. I packed up my stuff and then waited for the 2:30pm ferry that would take me back to Manila. Glen, Nelson and Karl took a jeepney to go back to topside to explore the North Shore batteries of James, Morrison, visit James Ravine, the mine casemates, etc.

Next April 2001 an even larger contingent of CDSG members will be visiting the island but preparations are being done as early as now.

It was a good break for me. I was able to relax, enjoy and take my mind away from work, do coast artillery and historical stuff, re-explore and discover new things. Not bad for a visit to a nearby island.

 

TONY FEREDO
Marikina, Philippines

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