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The 60th Coast Artillery, (Anti Aircraft)
USAT Republic arrived in Manila April 22,1941 transporting 2250 U.S. Army personnel.
purpose for this voyage to the Philippines was to furnish 1465 recruits to
expand the 59th and
into something resembling wartime strength. Many of the other men would go
to the 31st Infantry. My friend, Leon Beck was one of these men, and one
day he would escape from the Bataan Death March and become a guerrilla.
would not enable all coast defense guns to be manned, but would allow the 60th to expand to six 3" gun batteries, four 50 cal.
machine gun batteries, and two searchlight batteries. Also supporting
batteries would be enhanced. 3"
AA guns also on the Republic would allow for new batteries to be formed in
the 60th using these guns and the new personnel, plus non-commissioned
officers selected from existing batteries.
arrival at Corregidor's North Dock on the Miley, the new recruits slated
for the 59th or 60th, and support batteries, were marched from the North Dock,
around Malinta Hill via the South Shore Road and down to the 92nd Garage
Area. We would live in tents, and we would commence recruit drill on the
concrete tarmac of the old seaplane base.
We were issued mess kits, and G.I. tools, one each Springfield '03
Rifle. A bayonet was thrown in. I must add that each '03 rifle came
together with a substance known as cosmoline. I will not
in detail the difficulty removing the cosmoline from both outside, and
inside a bolt action rifle!
were soon ready to begin drilling. The manual of arms, close order drill,
and bayonet drill were to be accomplished in O.D. shirts! Ever try to just
walk around in an O.D. shirt during April and May in the Philippines. My
suggestion is, don't try it! When
the training was completed in May, we were much tougher to be sure.
the end of our training, we received permanent assignments. I was assigned
to "D" Battery (Denver), and Spence was assigned to "A" Battery
(Albany). A short time later the new batteries were formed and I was moved
to “H” Battery at Middleside. The stage had been set. The happy days
of summer moved into fall, and November came.
28th arrived and we were ordered to the field! We had to move quickly! Our
orders were to dig our AA guns in just in front of Battery Ramsey, which
was located just south of the Middleside Parade Ground (Herring Field). I
was given orders to build a machine gun pit directly in front of No.1 Gun
of Battery Ramsey. I used up two days to construct the pit in the rocky
ground. The gun crews, height finder crew and director crew were busily
engaged in building their positions and erecting camouflage for each unit
of the battery. Identical activity was in progress in each of the
60th AA Batteries on the Rock.
Defense Guns were already in place, but many preparations must be
completed before they were battle ready. The men in the 60th were quickly
stringing communication lines and other men with the toughest task of
trying to get the cables buried in the rocky ground. In "H"
Battery's area in front of Ramsey's 6" gun parapets, the ground was
filled with large boulders and chunks of concrete. Digging ditches in this
material proved almost impossible. When the first big bombing raid struck
Corregidor, we quickly learned the cable ditches were far from deep
spread that Clark Field had suffered bombing, also Manila. Cavite was
bombed heavily and the four stack destroyers and subs were scrambling for
cover. Some were caught at the docks. I watched through a scope as one of
the tall radio antenna slowly went down.
Huge columns of smoke arose from Manila and Cavite. A four stacker
came into sight attempting to reach the North Channel from Manila Bay.
A flight of Sally's (Type 97 Bombers) were stalking the Tin Can as
it moved diagonally across Manila Bay, from SE to NW. The Jap bombers were
operating at a low altitude and on one pass straddled the destroyer and
she was covered with water! I
thought she was finished when suddenly her bow shot through the wall of
water and swung hard left and shot for the channel opening northeast of
the Rock! The Japs were surely out of bombs as the can ripped out the
channel for the China Sea because they banked to the right and headed
December wore on, the bombers, after dropping their loads on Cavite, or in
Manila, began to fly toward Corregidor. As the formations neared, Denver,
Hartford and Chicago began firing, and the bombers would split, then bank
away from the island. Capt. Warren Starr, Battery Commander of
"H" Battery, guessed they were locating and spotting the AA
batteries. He was probably correct.
results of our drilling was tested. Just before noon, the lead formation
of twin tailed "Nells", defined as Type 96 medium bombers, came
in from the sun. This would become the enemy's normal routine. They would
approach from the east, shielded by the intense sun, difficult to track on
the scopes of the height finders and the directors. It was necessary to
track the lead plane accurately for the 3" guns to fire effectively.
Also, to find the correct altitude, the stereoscopic reader; in
our case, Sgt. Charlie Jackson, had to be right on, or the altitude fed to
the director was a lost cause.
nomenclature we used describing bomber types was as follows;
stage was now set for main event. On 29 December 1941, the day commenced
as previous days. We consumed our morning meal, then sat back waiting for
another typical day on Corregidor. For the past two days I had been
loading more belts for my machine gun.
Behind Ramsey's No.2 gun sat a long table. On it I had placed the
loading device used for loading belts of ammunition. I placed boxes of
tracer rounds, ball rounds and armor piercing rounds on the table. I first
placed a tracer round in the belt, pulled the loading lever forcing the
round in position in the belt, followed this with two ball rounds, then
two armor piercing rounds. I repeated this process over and over again
until the belt was full. I then folded the belt into the ammunition box
and it was ready. On to the next belt. I finally retreated to my machine
gun pit to wait.
morning rolled away, the sun became hot, and we waited.
The flash phones began bleating …. "motors in the east....
motors in the east...." then, "nine
bombers coming in the sun!" Shortly the shout from the height finder
pit, "Bombs released,
here they come!" The 3" guns began to crack! My friends Krueger
and Larson were crowded into my pit with myself and my gun.
We craned our necks to see the planes. "There they are!”
Larson yelled, pointing. I
picked them up and saw bursts appearing right on the formation, but
couldn't tell if the bursts were below or on the planes. There were nine
of the silver winged planes, with nine more to the south of the first
formation. The bombs began striking the ground in the distance, but coming
closer. Several formations crossed the island, and the bombs continued to
shake the earth. Smoke filled the air.
a pause, more shooting and more noise. Someone reported, "DIVE
BOMBERS!" This warning was shouted repeatedly. We huddled down behind
the sandbags, trying to look in all directions. Heavy bursts of machine
guns resounded from Chicago on Morrison Hill and suddenly three single
engine planes with large, red insignia's burst over the tree tops
bordering Middleside Parade Ground and shot across the west end of our
battery. I was offered no opportunity to fire since they were so low they
were gone before I could swing my gun around. Larson mentioned the lead
plane was trailing a thin stream of smoke. I hadn't noticed, mainly
because I was trying to identify the type of plane.
Much firing could be heard in the direction of Topside. Probably
Boston and Flint firing at the same three Japs. Again the engines became
louder and Bill Krueger said they were coming again, this time from the
southwest! Again there were three planes, not in a vee, but each offset
from the others. They were after us on this pass!
Krueger grabbed the crank on the water circulating tank and began turning
it and realizing I had no time to fire at the low flying Japs, I turned
the gun around and directed the tracers to where I envisioned the path of
the planes would be. They flew through the tracers, but I could not tell
whether I hit anything. Our machine guns at least warned Chicago that more
of the enemy planes were on their way. By the time I released the firing
flange, the Chicago gunners were already firing!
passes were made by the dive bombers during the next few minutes and we
fired at those that were possibly in our range. Once the raid seemed over we
were all talking at once! We
had witnessed several of the enemy planes smoking and assumed some of them
went down. We learned later
from Capt. Starr that all of "dive bombers" were hit by machine
gun fire (probably 50 cal.) And
it was unlikely that any survived without being holed numerous times from
machine gun fire.
again the high level bombers appeared and all of us thinking the raid was
over scurried for cover. When
the all clear finally sounded we again wearily climbed from our positions
and began to take stock of the damage. I saw a group gathered off to the
right of No.1 three inch gun and decided to walk down to see what was up.
Nearby, a windowless van was parked and the rear doors were open. I walked
around to the rear of the van and was shocked to see two bare feet exposed
from under an old canvas tarp. I looked at one of the men and he mumbled,
"It's Cliff Arnold." I could hardly believe it!
One of the small anti-personnel bombs had got him. He was one of my
favorite people. I think shock set in! He was the first of us to be
Flights of Sally's approaching Corregidor
battery had fared very well, except our loss of Arnold. None of the guns
were hit, nor the range equipment. Later, we received damage reports
from the rest of the Rock, but everyone was still very quiet, thinking of
Arnold. Until today, none had come to full realization that we were in a
war! Today's raid had really brought our dilemma home!
We were located on a very small
island. We were without any
cover. Our only defense against the Jap air armada was our anti-aircraft
batteries. We had no fighters, and no bombers to hit the enemy airfields.
We must fight off the Jap planes with obsolete 3" guns. Most
realized that we really had our work cut out for us! Captain Starr passed
the word that we must force the bombers to fly very high to prevent
accurate bombing. "So be it", Charlie Jackson declared,
"Let's keep 'em high!"
immediate task lay before us. We realized the cables were vulnerable. The
cables were our lifeline. Through the cables flowed the info from the
height finder to the director, where the altitude readings were
incorporated with the speed, and course readings computed by the director.
The combined data was sent by the director to each of the four 3"
guns. Two clocks on each gun, one for elevation and one for azimuth,
offered a moving pointer for the man at each clock to match his pointer to
the moving pointer. If each man capably matched his pointer correctly,
(and continually), the info sent to the fuze setter, next to the left side
clock, will set the altitude correctly. All of this data must flow through
the cables, and for this to unfold the cables must
dived into getting the cables deeper!
I found quickly this more easier said than done. Using a five foot
bar, I encountered head sized rocks I found to be almost unmovable. Each
of these rocks must be removed from the ground before we could attain any
success with deepening the ditches. We all labored for two days with this
predicament. The results were questionable. A near miss would sever the
cables. The bombers gave us a couple of days to fix and repair the damage.
A number of the batteries were practically untouched, while others were
suffering from bomb damage. We learned the hospital was hit, though
fortunately the sick and injured had been transported to the hospital
laterals in Malinta Tunnel. Topside Theater was on the list of damaged
surface structures as was Topside and Middleside Barracks.
enemy bombers returned on Jan. 2nd at lunch time, again flying in from the
east in the bright sun. The 60th held its own, keeping the Type 97 Sally's
high. Of course, keeping them high made our firing window smaller.
Often, each gun could get only four or five rounds off before the
guns hit their elevation stops. If
the bombs fell close, the gun crews took cover, however, if another
formation chanced into our range, our guns would await new ranging
information, then begin firing on the new targets.
enemy bombers returned on the 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th.
Each bomb run added to the devastation on the surface of
Corregidor. There was a continuous pall of smoke and dust in the air. Our
kitchen, east of Ramsey's No.3 Gun was hit, together with our power plant.
The remnants were quickly moved into Btry. Ramsey's parapets, just behind
Ramsey's No.3 Gun where it enjoyed some measure of protection from the
bombs and shells.
this time Capt. Starr informed me he needed a man to serve as a backup for
the men on the tracker scopes on the height finder.
I was willing to try, but first everyone was needed to help repair
cable runs, camouflage and other equipment break-downs. We all pitched in
and began putting everything back together, expecting more air raids the
following day. It didn't happen. Nothing appeared but one Photo Joe and he
stayed so far out of range we were allowed a day of rest. That is, if you
call digging rocks out of cable trenches rest.
Corregidor 1941 is © 2000 Alfred C. McGrew
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