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"Better have the books corrected."

North Harbour was the Army's installation. The USN installation was South Harbour. I don't doubt there was a lot of Army-Navy rivalry, but I don't accept being told by the Corregidor Foundation's official guides that MacArthur left Corregidor from the Lorcha Dock which serves the North Harbor just because it was an Army facility.  The CFI, succumbing again to the temptation of rewriting history so I thought,  had even put a larger than life-size "I shall return" statue of  MacArthur at the Lorcha Dock's entrance.  I was smug, I confess, because I had not only the word of D. Clayton James, MacArthur's pre-eminent biographer (at P.100 of The Years of MacArthur Vol 2) that he had left from South Dock, but MacArthur himself had described described the scene... 

 

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North Harbor (1999)

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North Harbor (1945)

 

REMINISCENCES


It was 7:15 on the evening of March 11 when I walked across the porch to my wife. "Jean." I said gently, "it is time to go." We drove in silence to the South Dock, where Bulkeley and PT-41 were waiting; the rest of the party was already aboard. Shelling of the waterfront had continued intermittently all day. I put Jean, Arthur and Ah Chew on board, and then turned slowly to look back.

On the dock I could see the men staring at me. I had lost 25 pounds living on the same diet as the soldiers, and I must have looked gaunt and ghastly standing there in my old war-stained clothes - no bemedaled commander of inspiring presence. What a change had taken place in that once beautiful spot! My eyes roamed that warped and twisted face of scorched rock. Gone was the vivid green foliage, with its trees, shrubs and flowers. Gone were the buildings, the sheds, every growing thing. The hail of relentless bombardment had devastated, buried and blasted. Ugly dark scars marked smouldering paths where the fire had raged from one end of the island to the other. Great gaps and forbidding crevices still belched their tongues of flame. The desperate scene showed only a black mass of destruction.  Through the shattered ruins, my eyes sought "Topside," where the deep roar of heavy guns still growled defiance, with their red blasts tearing the growing darkness asunder. Up there, in command, was my classmate, Paul Bunker. Forty years had passed since Bunker had twice been selected by Walter Camp for the All American team. I could shut my eyes and see again that blond head racing, tearing, plunging - 210 pounds of irresistible power. I could almost hear Quarterback Charley Daly's shrill voice barking, "Bunker back." He and many others up there were old, old friends, bound by ties of deepest friendship.

Darkness had now fallen, and the waters were beginning to ripple from the faint night breeze. The enemy firing had ceased and a muttering silence had fallen. It was though the dead were passing by the stench of destruction. The smell of filth thickened the night air. I raised my cap in farewell salute, and I could feel my face go white, feel a sudden convulsive twitch in the muscles of my face, I heard someone ask, "What's his chance, Sarge, of getting through?" and the gruff reply, "Dunno. He's lucky. Maybe one in five."

I stepped aboard PT-41. "You may cast off, Buck" I said, "when you are ready." 

 

Douglas MacArthur
(Reminiscences., McGraw Hill 1964 P.142)
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The interesting thing is that, in all probability, MacArthur,  his biographers, and most of the textbooks who follow them, were wrong about his departure from South Dock.  How do we know this? What started this was that a veteran member of our Corregidoros "circle", Al McGrew, told us of his long-time buddy, Bill Delich, stationed at  Searchlight No. 1 (which is at Battery Point, on the North of the Island.)  Bill was to shine the light to guide Bulkeley's PT-41 through the north channel minefield.  Instead, when the searchlight was turned on, it squarely illuminated Bulkeley's boat with its "precious cargo" on it. "Bill," Al says, "never forgot the ass-kicking he got for that."

This caused much controversy amongst us, particularly me, because I admit to being a stirrer who wasn't about to accept such a story when I had MacArthur's own word for it. Unfortunately, however, I had to cry "Enough! I'm convinced!" when Jay Cole, of Kennesaw, Georgia wrote and told me that a colleague of his, Ned Jay of Atlanta,  had interviewed retired Admiral John D. Bulkeley, skipper of the PT Boat upon which MacArthur departed the Rock, in 1987 for a TV Documentary.

 

 
 

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North Dock

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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South Harbor (1999)

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"We came to the North Dock...and that is the north side of Corregidor. The real genius of MacArthur, going back, is this:  Despite everything being said in various newspapers and books, was the fact that he chose to go by Motor Torpedo Boat, and a breakout by high speed boats. No one thought, and certainly no military people, and certainly not the Japanese, that this was feasible. Naturally, such a breakout would have come from a...would be by submarine. But it'd be most difficult to use submarines for a breakout, or for...to take General MacArthur to the south. And the real secret was to breakout of the Manila Harbor itself...the entrance. The Japanese by this time had approximately 22 ships blockading the entrance there...entrance to Manila Harbor...and, of course, blockading Corregidor. The intent and purpose was to capture MacArthur, and it looked like it was almost hopeless for him to make a breakout.

MacArthur went down each line of the Generals, shook their hands, and picked each one, or told each one, that he was nominated to make the breakout with him. The others we left behind, and he said the proper words of condolences and so forth. He also said that he would promote them one rank, so that when they're...if and when they are captured, that at least they'd be better treated in the prison camp.

As far as the Breakout is that...Breakout, itself is concerned, it was dark, and it was a rather rainy, misty night. We went at high speed, ran through the mine fields, which we knew like the palm of our hands...no problem at all."

 

Admiral John D. Bulkeley, USN (Ret'd)
Interview by Ned Jay
(1988)
 

 

 

Them came the nail in the coffin - Jay Cole sent along an extract from a book by Lt. Bruce M. Bachman who, as Admiral Bulkeley's Aide, accompanied him on a visit to Corregidor:-

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE LORCHA DOCK

Lorcha Dock (1978)

 

 

 

Lorcha Dock (2004)

 

It was August 7, 1977. Bulkeley and his Washington board were on the tail end of one of their patented ship inspections in Subic Bay, Philippines...

August eighth. Typically hot, sweaty, and humid in the P.I.'s.  Armed with piercingly accurate memories and poignant accounts, Bulkeley, with twelve of his men, boarded a navy helo at 12:38 P.M. for what was to become a trip of emotion, reverence, and gratitude...

At 1:30 P.M. on August 8, 1977, John Bulkeley stepped from the lumbering copter onto the personally familiar sand and grass of Corregidor. The helo had touched down not more than 100 yards from the monument that had been erected in 1949 to commemorate the significance of Corregidor as the seat of the Commonwealth of the Philippines during World War II and the subsequent shelter for Philippine president Quezon and the scattered American forces...

His twelve-man group had now become thirty, as Filipino marines assigned to the island rushed to the area where Bulkeley stood.  (Bulkeley laid a wreath at the monument). Salutes were snapped off at a crisp, appreciative pace by the newcomers. They too were aware of the significance of Bulkeley's presence on this stifling August day...

Bulkeley seemed anxious to move out (from Malinta Tunnel), as he and the bus driver knew the next stop, even though the two of them had not spoken since the initial greetings of the afternoon.

When the bus rumbled to a slow stop near the water's edge, Bulkeley jumped from his seat and exited. By the time the last passenger on the vehicle had stepped down, Bulkeley had sighted and positively identified the pier from which he and his PT 41 boat had departed with his "precious cargo".

"There it is! No question about it."

"Are you sure, Admiral? The Philippine history books say it was that one over there," the P.I. marine officer escort cautiously replied.

"Well, the books are wrong. This is definitely the pier we left from. The north pier. Better have the books corrected," the admiral quipped with a twinkle in his eye...

Ten children between the ages of six and sixteen descended upon the pier, screaming and holding a book above their heads.

"Admiral, Admiral, Admiral," the little ones yelled as they ran...

Dripping with sweat and visibly moved, the admiral opened his arms and allowed the young Filipino children to encircle him and touch his uniform and body. He had returned, this combat hero that was a part of every P.I. child's history...One at a time, they fumbled through the books they had brought, looking feverishly for the chapter on Bulkeley.

"The oldest of the youngsters found it first and eagerly showed the returned hero a picture of himself, taken nearly thirty years ago...Bulkeley stared at the photograph for a brief period, smiled, and began autographing the books, one at a time, asking each child his name and taking the time to personalize each inscription as he proceeded...Each child shook hands with the man they had run nearly two miles to see, stepped back, and saluted. Before their hands had returned to their sides, they were off and running, screaming at the top of their lungs of their new treasure.

The impact on the American visitors was awesome...

"Where did the children come from, Major?" questioned Bulkeley of the Philippine escort.

"The deeply tanned major turned to Bulkeley and replied, "They are the children of the officers and men who are assigned to Corregidor as guards...I can guarantee you, Admiral, that every man, woman, and child who has lived here or will live here in the future knows of John D. Bulkeley. And not only because of General MacArthur. President Quezon's escape is regarded as greatly by our people as your general's escape."

"And your sinking of Japanese ships saved the lives of more than just a few of our soldiers as well. So, Admiral, although you are an American hero, you are our hero as well. Okay, Admiral?"

"Okay, Major. Yes, okay."

Bruce M. Bachman.
-An Honorable Profession.
The Life and Times of One of America's Most Able Seaman:
Rear Adm. John Duncan Bulkeley, USN.

Vantage Press, New York.1985. pp. 186-191

 

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