Report on Operations and
Material, Fort Drum
Bataan - Corregidor Campaign
8 December 1941 - 6 May 1942.
Operations and Material - Fort Drum -
During the Bataan
- Corregidor Campaign,
8 December 1941 - 6 May 1942.
Army Ground Forces
Geographical. The entrance to
Manila Bay is guarded by 4 islands.
- (Fort Mills)
- (Fort Hughes)
Fraile - (Fort Drum)
- (Fort Frank)
Tactical Command. The
tactical command at the beginning of World War II was known as
the Harbor Defenses of Manila and Subic Bays. This report deals
with Manila Bay only. The defenses were divided into two parts,
the ?? Command and the Seaward Defenses Command. Under the
Seaward Defense Command were groups I, II, III and IV. (There
were no groupments). The mission of the Seaward Defense Command
was "to deny the enemy the use of Manila Bay and to protect the
detachment of our Navy there from".
Fort Drum - Description and
Drum was constructed on the small island of El Fraile in the
channel of Manila Bay in 1913, and was termed the "Concrete
Battleship". The entire top of the original island was cut away
to below the surface of the water. On this foundation, the
reinforced concrete fort was constructed. When completed, it
was 350 feet long by 144 feet wide and the main top deck
extended 40 feet above mean low water. The general outline of
the hull, as seen from above, resembled a ship with the pointed
bow toward the China Sea. The exterior walls of the fort were
approximately 20 feet thick, of reinforced concrete. The deck
had an overhead thickness of 18 feet of reinforced concrete and
steel. Thin places on the top deck over the casemates and where
the observation wells existed, were compensated for by an
additional 3 or 4 inches of steel plate. The overall result was
a top deck of uniform strength generally equivalent to 18 feet
of reinforced concrete. The interior of the fort was cut into
several compartments, constructed on various internal levels.
The lower level was the engine room, the floor of which was 6
feet below mean low water. Above this was the main internal
deck called the "Typhoon Deck". It was here that most of the
troops were quartered. Other compartments housed the fuel
tanks, the powder and projectile rooms, plotting room, storage
facilities, kitchen and mess hall compartments. Access to the
fort was had by means of the sallyport toward the stern which
ran entirely across the ship, generally from north to south.
The cover for the sallyport and entrance to the typhoon deck was
another approximately 20 feet of concrete which had been an
afterthought and had been added to Fort Drum as protection to
the interior of the ship at a later date.
(1) Primary armament. The primary armament of Fort Drum
consisted of four 14-inch (Naval rifles), two guns to the
turret. The forward turret was mounted on the lower forward
portion of the top deck and was 9 feet below the upper level.
The rear turret was mounted immediately in the rear of the
forward turret, but on the top deck; this made it possible for
the two turrets to be fired in a forward position
simultaneously, the rear guns firing over the forward guns. The
forward turret was limited to 230°, while the rear turret had a
The turrets were 14-inch gun
turrets, Model 1909 for 14-inch guns, Model 1909. The faces of
the turrets were 16-inch armor plate, while the sides and rear
were 14 inches in thickness. The flat top was from 4-½ to 6
inches in thickness. The turrets had no external openings for
either vents or gunports and this proved to be very important
later on. The entire turret was Barbette mounted and the water
shed armor was on the outside of the turret and very thin, less
than 1 inch. This presented a sizeable vulnerable area, exposed
to enemy fire, on the top deck. As this ring was about the
turret wells, it exposed portions of our powder as well as our
personnel who were below decks, to any hits which might rupture
this thin armor above. The interior of each turret was divided
into two compartments, one for each gun; and in the rear of the
turret, sealed off completely, was the turret captain's booth.
Observation from the turrets was had by 3 periscopes, one for
each gun and one for the turret captain's booth. The periscopes
extended above the top of the turret for about 8 inches and were
covered with a very thin armor head in the rear, about ¾ inch in
thickness. This was a point we were to regret later as the top
of the turrets was hit many times and damage was done to some of
These turrets were completely
electrically controlled. The ammunition hoists brought the
projectiles and powder from below. The turrets were traversed
and the guns were elevated by electrical gears. It was
practically impossible to operate the turrets without power as
the traversing of the turrets by hand was extremely slow, in
fact, it took about six hours to traverse the turrets 180°
manually. The lowering was accomplished by electric rammers and
the guns were blown with compressed air.
The elevation of the 14-inch guns was limited to 15° which
limited our maximum range from that height of site with normal
ballistic conditions, to 19,200 yards.
(2) Secondary armament.
The secondary armament of Fort Drum consisted of four 6-inch
Naval rifles, two each in two casemates. Two of these guns, one
above the other, were on the starboard, or north side, and two
of them were on the port, or south side. Each of these
batteries had one gun above the other on separate levels with a
separate casemate for each gun. The deck, or floor, between the
guns of each battery was steel about 3 or 4 inches thick.
The two 6-inch guns on the
starboard (north side) were called Battery McCray, belonging to
Group III with its' CP on the south side of Corregidor. Group
III was made up of secondary armament with the mission of
guarding the south channel. The two 6-inch port guns (south
side) were called Battery Roberts. They were not part of any
group, but came strictly under the Fort Drum Commander.
These casement blisters were
constructed of 6-inch armor plate, recessed about six feet in
the side of the concrete hull. The fields of fire for both
batteries was limited to about 120° of traverse. Originally the
elevation of these guns had been limited to 12°. This was
governed by two factors in construction, the site of the port
through which the guns fired in the armor plate and the fact
that at 12° elevation, the breech was almost down to the floor
of the concrete. The fort record book and the emplacement
records kept before the war, indicated that the 12° elevation
had proved to be unsatisfactory due to two factors. First the
loading operation with the breech so near the floor hampered
smooth loading and ramming. Second, the guns were sluggish on
going from recoil to battery. These things had hampered target
practice and after many reports and much correspondence, steps
had been taken to limit the guns to 10° elevation.
When the war started, this 10
elevation was in effect, which limited the range of this
armament to 10,200 yards. Three months after hostilities began,
the gun mounts were again altered to permit 12° of elevation.
This increased the range from 10,200 yards to 11,400 yards.
Battery Hoyle, 3-inch seacoast gun.
The above mentioned artillery
comprised the entire armament of Fort Drum up to the beginning
of the war. A diagram showing the fields of fire reveal a wide
area of dead space in the stern of the fort. Only one battery,
the rear 14-inch guns, would traverse this field of fire to the
rear in Manila Bay. The fact that the cagemast was directly
between the turret and stern caused this battery to have severe
limitation due to dead space. Even though the cagemast had not
existed, the top deck coupled with the height site created a
dead space. This meant that enemy surface craft, approaching
Fort Drum from the rear in Manila Bay, could not be brought
under fire from the guns of Fort Drum.
When the Japanese Army gained
control of Manila, and the Cavite shoreline, this weakness
became a problem. The fact that the enemy had seized a number
of large harbor boats and countless other power craft and barges
at Manila, heightened the acuteness of the problem. Action was
taken to remedy this situation.
A Model 1906 3-inch seacoast
gun, with pedestal mount, was shipped to Fort Drum. A concrete
base on which to bolt the pedestal was poured and the gun was
mounted 12 January 1942, and designated as Battery Hoyle. This
emplacement was on top edge of the stern.
The following day, 13 January,
at 1430, an enemy vessel was observed approaching Fort Drum from
Niac. As it drew near, it turned out to be a double-deck vessel
of the inter-island type. That the enemy was well aware of the
old weakness was evident as she bore down upon the fort, keeping
the cage mast between her and the 14-inch turret. Apparently
she had not discovered our latest addition. Major General Moore
called Fort Drum and inquired if the newly emplaced 3-inch gun
could be fired. On receiving an affirmative answer, he ordered
the Fort Commander to open fire with the 3-inch gun. Remember
that the concrete was less than 24 hours old and that the range
drum was without graduation. The piece had neither been
bore-sighted nor checked for assurance level.
A five-man crew of old
artillerymen were assembled. As the target grew nearer,
observers noted that the decks were lined with enemy troops in
uniform and civilians, apparently making an inspection trip to
the area in the rear of Drum.
Range was called vocally from
the depression position finder in the cage mast. Fire was
opened at 9,000 yards. The first round was off in deflection.
The Japanese surprise was evident by the mass confusion on her
decks. She began a fast turn which exposed her stern. The
seventh and eighth rounds were near misses throwing geysers of
water on the target. The ninth was short as the enemy was
pulling out of range. Never again did the enemy attempt to
approach Fort Drum from the rear. This was the first battery of
seacoast artillery to open fire on the enemy in World War II.
Armament. For antiaircraft artillery there were two 3-inch
mobile AA guns jacked down on spider mounts on the deck. Fire
control was by director and stereoscopic height finder.
Combination protection for both defense and low-flying planes
was provided for by four 50-caliber, water-cooled, AA machine
guns with improvised mounts and two 50-caliber air-cooled
machine guns donated by the Air Corps. Thirteen caliber 30, M1
water-cooled machine guns with Infantry mounts served for beach
defense. This was augmented by four Thompson sub machine guns
secured from the 4th U.S. Marines through the detachment of
marines on Fort Drum. A quantity of Springfield rifles, with
some long barrels, pump shotguns completed the defenses.
Illumination was by searchlight. Number twelve seacoast
searchlight was located on the top of the eighty foot cage
mast. The light was put out of action the first day Fort Drum
was taken under fire. Number eleven seacoast searchlight was
located on the southeast side of Fort Hughes. This light was
under the direct command of Fort Drum. Its' mission was to
provide illumination of that part of Manila Bay from
Cavite to Rostinga Point, just southwest of Ternate. The
purpose of this was to prevent enemy attacks by water from the
rear of Corregidor and the fortified islands. This light was in
action until the surrender.
There was also one 60-inch mobile AA
searchlight with steel mirror. Despite the fact that this light was hit
repeatedly during the siege, it was always repaired to such an extent
that it supplemented the illumination of the water area and afforded an
emergency light aboard Fort Drum. The damage caused by enemy shell fire
made it impossible to use it to illuminate enemy aircraft. Finally, for
immediate protection of the Fort in the way of illumination, there were
two 12-inch beach defense lights that remained in action until the end.
The principle method of communication
was by submarine telephone cables connecting the fortified islands.
Despite the tons of explosive dropped by the enemy by air and artillery
fire, this system remained in operation except for minor damage caused
at some of the terminals on the other islands.
A short wave radio set was available
for use at Fort Drum for communications with the harbor defenses.
However, it was seldom used.
Blinker signal lamps were used between
all of the fortified islands and due to the high state of the personnel,
this was extremely successful. To prevent detection by the enemy at
night, the lamps were placed in the breeches of one of the 6-inch
rifles. The rifle was then laid at the proper azimuth and elevation
which caused the piece to be aimed at the friendly receiving station
Fort Drum was constructed with good
storage space for most supplies and it was not necessary to send a
supply boat too often. This was very fortunate as the enemy artillery
on the Cavite shore could easily destroy any ship carrying supplies to
either Fort Drum or Fort Frank, if it was not operating under cover of
absolute darkness. In fact, the harbor boat Neptune was destroyed by
enemy artillery while unloading supplies at Fort Frank one night in
February 1942. After this incident, no boat would make this ration run
except at night when there was no moonlight.
Water was one of the chief concerns of
the Fort. A boat towing a water barge would tie up alongside and fill
the fresh water storage tanks. The Fort was equipped with metal tanks
for this purpose, but the capacity was not adequate to carry over the
long intervals when no boat arrived. This was remedied by two steps.
In peacetime there were two large wooden water tanks on the top deck of
the Fort. One of these tanks was at least 14 feet high and 12 feet in
diameter. It was of wooden stave construction, bound with iron hoops.
In the first days of the war, this tank was emptied, torn down, carried
below to the engine room and reassembled.
The second method of increasing water
storage facilities was to utilize the empty 14-inch powder cans. These
cans held better than 50 gallons each, and several hundred were
utilized. The fort personnel was placed on its honor to consume
absolutely no more water than was necessary. These men were soldiers.
No rationing was necessary. There was an old evaporator, but it
required too much fuel to operate this machine, and oil was too
The half ration on food was inaugurated
at the outset of hostilities. Fort Drum adhered rigidly to this order,
despite the fact that there was an extra supply of food available on the
Fort, due to the fact that there was a thirty-day extra supply called
the "Typhoon Ration." This was wise as it was never known when the
ration boat would make its run.
Of utmost importance to Fort Drum was
fuel oil. The 14-inch guns were dependent upon electric power for all
their functioning. With out the oil to drive our large Diesel
generators, the Fort would have been helpless. Conservation was the
only answer to this problem. The engines were used only when
necessary. Less than 30 days supply was on hand when Lieut. General
Wainwright ordered the surrender.
The supply of American flags was
exhausted as the enemy simply blew them to shreds. However, the flag
was kept flying at all times by painting the stars and stripes on
galvanized sheet iron.
The approximate strength of Fort Drum
was 240 officers and men consisting of the following organizations and
detachments. From the 59th CA, there was the Fort Headquarters and two
batteries; Battery E and Headquarters Battery, 2nd battalion. This was
augmented by the following detachments: 13 Marines from the 4th U.S.
Marine Corps Regiment; detachment approximately 6 men from the 60th
Coast Artillery for manning the 60-inch antiaircraft searchlight; 4
Philippine Scouts from Fort Frank manning the B-2 station for that
fort; medical detachment, one officer and one enlisted man; Ordinance
personnel were civilian Ordinance machinists, numbering 3 or 4.
Approximately 12 April 1942, the Fort was reinforced by 20 men from a
tank battalion to augment the garrison. These men had escaped from
Bataan when that command had capitulated. All personnel manned certain
battle stations regardless of their organization. There was not
sufficient personnel to man all the positions at any one time,
therefore, personnel might have 2 or 3 assignments depending on the
signal given at the call "Battle Stations"
immediately preceding war.
On the night of 29 November, General
George Moore, commanding the harbor defenses, suddenly summoned all the
officers of the command to their regimental headquarters. There, orders
were issued that the entire command of the Harbor Defenses of Manila and
Cubic Bays would immediately take the field. The barracks were to be
abandoned and troops moved to the field in accordance with previously
prepared war plans. The entire command would be alert at all times, and
that under no conditions would less than half the tactical armament of
the defenses be out of action due to absence of personnel. The entire
defenses were to be prepared to open fire immediately on any enemy
targets. The complete move from peacetime to wartime conditions was to
be completed by 1200 the following day. In the meantime, all
organizations would report ready for action as soon as they were
actually moved and set up in the field. Approximately 2 days prior to
the attack on Pearl Harbor an official communique was issued by Harbor
Defense Headquarters, which stated that planes positively identified as
enemy, had been sighted flying over positions in the Lingayen area.
b. Period 8 December - 29 December
Immediately upon the notification of
the attack on Pearl Harbor, Fort Drum took final steps to clear its deck
for action. In peacetime, the troops assigned to Fort Drum had lived
topside in temporary wooden barracks. These barracks were shoved over
the side. During this period, there was very little action in the
harbor defenses. Only a few enemy planes flew about the fort and
occasionally they would be taken under fire by some of the antiaircraft
batteries on the different forts.
c. Period 29 December 1941 - 6
On December 29 at 1200, Corregidor was
attacked for the first time by enemy twin-engine bombers. There were
between 50 and 60 of these bombers flying at altitude over 20,000 feet.
They were accompanied by numerous Japanese dive-bombers, including nine
old-fashioned bi-planes. These attacks continued daily on Corregidor
through 6 January. During this period there were no attempted bombings
of Fort Drum. This Fort assisted the other islands at this time, by
taking the enemy bombers under fire with her two AA guns whenever the
enemy came within range.
6 January 1942 - 6 February 1942.
During this period, there was
practically no enemy activity conducted against the fortified islands.
The enemy air efforts were limited to occasional observation planes and
to a few attacks on shipping in the vicinity of the fortified islands.
On 13 January, at approximately 1430, an enemy vessel approaching Fort
Drum was taken under fire by the 3-inch deck guns and the enemy fled.
(Note of historic interest. 26 January
1942, Battery Geary, consisting of eight 12-inch seacoast model 1896
mortars opened fire on Japanese ground forces dug in on Longaskawayan
Point on the Bataan Peninsula. The same battery fired again on January
27th at the same target. The enemy had landed behind the Bataan line on
this point from submarines. Their positions was the tip of the point on
an area 200 yards long by 100 yards wide. 33 rounds were fired of 690
pound point detonating personnel shells. Of the 33 rounds fired, 32
were hits. The corrected range was 14,200 which lacked 200 yards of
being the maximum range. This is of historic interest as this was the
first primary battery of seacoast artillery in the history of the United
States of America to ever open fire on an enemy from our
e. Period of 6 February 1942 to 9
6 February 1942 at 0820 Fort Drum was
fired upon by Japanese artillery. This initial action lasted 3-1/2
hours. It was the first fort in the harbor defenses to be taken under
fire by Japanese artillery. The weapon was a 105-mm howitzer firing a
point fuse shell. The firing was at intervals of from 70 to 85 seconds.
The target was the cage mast and other deck installations. A few
rounds of counter-battery were fired by both 3-inch deck gun and the
6-inch casemate guns Battery Roberts (south side). This Japanese fire
continued daily for about two weeks with fewer rounds being fired each
day. The damage was very limited and in no way affected the tactical
situation. From this time until 10 April 1942, Fort Drum fired
occasional two gun, 14-inch salvos in the areas along the Cavite Shore.
Firing often took place at night. The targets were areas reported by
G-2 operators who were active in the enemy held territory. They
consisted primarily of enemy troop bivouacs.
17 March 1942, Fort Drum and Fort Frank
underwent a very heavy bombardment from Japanese 240-mm howitzers
emplaced on the Cavite shore. This action continued for approximately
two weeks. These were the first 240-mm weapons to be used against
At least six 240-mm howitzers were
employed in this bombardment. They fired two gun salvos and from the
location of the hits, it was apparent that the artillery was well
dispersed in the mountains back of the Cavite shoreline. The fire was
coming from three widely separated positions. Counter-battery fire was
brought to bear from time to time by all the fortified islands.
Fort Frank which was only 4,200 yards
from Fort Drum, suffered serious material damages during bombardment.
Almost all of her guns were out of action for a considerable period of
time and some of them were out of action permanently. The principle
targets on Fort Drum were the two 14-inch turrets and the casemate
Battery Roberts. Battery Roberts was temporarily out of commission and
the No. 1, or upper gun, was knocked out permanently by hits on tube.
The 14-inch turrets, despite many hits on the side, rear, top, remained
in action. The projectiles striking the 6-inch casemate caused flashes
of fire to appear all the way inside the vessels to the typhoon deck.
This created a grave fire hazard. It was not uncommon for fire calls to
sound at least once every five minutes. Steps were promptly taken to
throw everything which was inflammable, and not absolutely necessary for
action on board the ship, over the side. Every square foot of the
interior of the surface of the casemates was deeply dented and torn by
heavy fragmentations. These fragments came through the open gun port
and through narrow cracks around the horizontal shield. Two 3-inch
antiaircraft guns were completely demolished in this action.
Enemy dive bombers began attacking Fort
Drum 6 February 1945 and continued until the surrender. Several attacks
were made daily and always in the same manner. Invariably two dive
bombers would approach Fort Drum and circle the Fort several times just
out of range of the 50 caliber machine guns. The pilots were evidently
attempting to stampede the gunners into breaking fire discipline and
opening up at a range beyond their effective fire. The personnel
manning the 50 caliber machine guns would hold their fire until the
planes came within range. The first plane would come over maneuvering
and would never drop a bomb. He evidently acted as a decoy. The second
plane would then glide in and hastily release his bombs. The first
plane was never taken under fire by the gunners as they preferred to
hold their fire for the plane which actually made the attack. The
Japanese evidently had great respect for 50-caliber fire as they seemed
very nervous in their bombing operations and were very inaccurate. The
two air-cooled 50-caliber guns were put out of action by Japanese
artillery fire, but the four water-cooled 50-caliber machine guns
continued in action until the time of surrender. Hits were scored, but
no enemy planes were downed until 6 May 1942, some thirty minutes prior
to the surrender when a Japanese dive bomber was downed in the water
between Fort Drum and Niac. Despite the fact that the 50-caliber guns
only accounted for one plane, they proved their value as the Japanese in
attempting to avoid the 50-caliber machine gun fire, scored only 5 dive
bomb hits. These 5 bombs caused no damage.
After the 3-inch antiaircraft guns on
Fort Drum and Fort Frank were destroyed, the enemy was able to make any
unmolested high bombardment attacks on Fort Drum from whatever altitude
they chose. The bombing was extremely inaccurate. Only two out of the
hundreds of bombs dropped by the high bombers struck Fort Drum, and the
results were of no consequences. One of these missiles landed on the
steping face of the forward turret, just above one of the 14-inch guns.
It glanced, hit the 14-inch gun and detonated, but caused absolutely no
The cage mast was serving no useful
function and in addition to this served as an aiming point to the enemy
artillery. It created a dead space to the rear for the 14-inch guns,
and there was a possibility that it might fall under later
bombardments. Should it fall, it might block the rear 14-inch turrets.
It was dismantled and taken down. Beach defense positions on Fort Drum
were consistently improved. They would be damaged during the day, but
fully repaired during the night.
In view of the heavy attacks on Fort
Drum and Fort Frank, coupled with G2 reports that the enemy was
assembling numerous barges in protected positions along the Cavite
shoreline, lead to the belief that the enemy might attempt an assault on
either Fort Drum or Fort Frank, or both. In this connection, plans were
carried out between the two forts to assist each other mutually in case
of an enemy amphibious operation.
The morale of Fort Drum was
exceptionally high. Training continued until the final day of
9 April - 6 May 1942
Bataan surrendered 9 April 1942. The
next few days were ones of preparation for the enemy. Unending columns
of troops, guns and equipment rolled down the peninsula and went into
position for the seige of the fortified islands. The tempo of the fire
against Corregidor and Fort Hughes gradually increased. The Japanese
artillery was of all calibers, but 150-mm and 240-mm were the most
Fort Drum was called on for
counter-battery missions on frequent occasions when the enemy was within
range. The coordinates of the targets were furnished by the Seaward
Defense Commander. The spotting for this fire was done from observation
stations of high elevation on Corregidor. Very few rounds were
generally required to complete the mission. The moment the turrets were
traversed, enemy batteries from Cavite would begin shelling Drum. Their
fire would be directed at the turret which was being used at the time
and despite many hits, the turreted guns were never out of action when
called for to fire.
During the latter part of April, the
enemy used a sausage balloon on Bataan for artillery observation. On 27
April (Emperor's birthday) the Japanese treated Corregidor and the
fortified islands to an artillery show. Between 125 and 150 shells per
minute were laid down. This continued until the 6th of May. It was
during this period that Fort Drum was fired on by 105-mm batteries from
Bataan. Our forward turret was in action at this time and their
projectiles hit the turret three successive times, then ceased fire.
The nearest possible position for that gun was 17,600 yards. There was
no damage to the turret. By 5 May almost all of the batteries capable
of firing on Bataan were out of action.
On Fort Drum, an act of nature if no
small consequence had been taking place for the past three months. The
ordinary method of ventilation aboard Fort Drum was by means of two
large exhaust fans. In the initial bombardment of the fort, these fans
had been put out of action and as a consequence, there was no
ventilating system operating on the Fort from that period on. As a
result, the heat from the engines and the firing aboard Fort Drum, the
temperature inside had been gradually increasing.
For some time the thermometer had stood
at over 100°. As a consequence, the powder for the 14-inch guns in the
powder room magazine had ample opportunity to become uniformly heated to
a high temperature. As a result of this heated powder, there was a high
increase in initial missile velocity, which, in turn, gave an increase
On the night of May 5, 1942, the enemy
began amphibious operations against Corregidor. The assault boats came
from the vicinity of Cabcaben and landed troops on the Linley Field
sector between Infantry and Calvary points. At dawn, 6 May 1942,
observers at Corregidor spotted large concentrations of enemy troops in
assembly areas just north of Cabcaben. The coordinates of these enemy
positions were plotted and Drum was ordered to fire. It will be
remembered that the normal maximum range was 19,200 yards, while this
target was well over 20,000 yards. Fire was opened and the target was
well within range. The fort fired 4-gun salvos into this area expending
over 100 rounds. The Fort was then ordered to take enemy barges in the
north channel approaching Corregidor under fire. Drum replied that they
could not see the barges for the dense cloud of dust and smoke arising
from Corregidor, the Commander reported back: "Just fire anywhere in
that smoke, anywhere between you and Cabcaben and you can't miss them".
On Fort Drum an order was issued for "Turret Commander's action" and the
targets were taken under fire. The observers on Corregidor reported
that the barges were being hit and to keep up the fire. Firing from
Drum continued at intervals all morning until 1140, when the order was
given to destroy the guns and surrender. Firing would only cease long
enough for the Seaward Defense Command to assign a new target. During
all of this time, Fort Drum was under constant artillery fire from
Cavite and the enemy heavy bombers. Their action was futile and at no
time were the 14-inch guns silent.
The personnel of Fort Drum had
excellent opportunity to learn of the effectiveness of fire that day
when they were taken away to a point south of Manila Bay for punishment
by the Japanese. The Japanese officer in charge of the punishment was
the brother of a Japanese Colonel commanding one of the assault
regiments in the assembly area north of Cabcaben. It appeared that the
Fort Drum fire had killed his brother and almost 3,000 troops in that
area. For this, the personnel of Fort Drum was severely punished.
g. The surrender of Fort
At 1140, 6 May 1942, the Fort Commander
of Fort Drum was summoned to the telephone and told by the High Command
to demolish the armament on Fort Drum in accordance with pre-arranged
plans. We were told to complete the demolition and surrender by 1200.
This gave us exactly 20 minutes. Each officer on the Fort, assisted by
a few key enlisted men took certain material which had been prepared in
advance and proceed to complete the job. The recoil cylinders of the
guns were drained and obstructions placed in their muzzles. Then the
guns were loaded with a round and fired by means of electrical primers
with long wires attached, so that they might be fired from the light
switches in the center of the ship on the "Typhoon Deck." All of the
guns on the Fort were handled in this manner, except the 3-inch battery
and the 6-inch gun in Battery Roberts on the south side. The 3-inch
battery had sustained a hit on the breech from a Japanese bomb some 25
minutes prior to the surrender order. The breech of the 3-inch gun was
thrown over board and all the mechanism and the breech recess were
sledged with a heavy sledge-hammer. The upper 6-inch gun in Battery
Roberts had been permanently put out of action by Japanese artillery
fire. All the communications material was smashed and thrown over the
side. The plotting room, with all of its' equipment, was cut into small
bits with an axe, all of the records were thrown into the water. All of
the small arms ammunition was carried to the top deck and thrown over
the side. The remaining 14-inch powder cans had their tops taken off
and buckets of salt water were poured into the cans with the powder.
The 6-inch powder magazines were flooded with salt water from the
sprinkler system, but the result of this was unknown.
American troops were kept on the
fortified islands by the Japanese for over one year after the
surrender. From time to time, these troops would be sent to our prison
camp when the Japanese had finished with them. Through these men, it
was learned that the Japanese attempted to put back into commission,
many of the guns on Corregidor, Fort Hughes and Fort Frank. However, at
no time during that first year, did the Japanese make any move to repair
the guns of Fort Drum in any manner. The exception to this was the
3-inch gun and at one time a Japanese boat came to Fort Drum and the
3-inch gun was dismantled from the deck and taken away.
of enemy fire.
Fort Drum lost none killed by enemy
action and only five were injured. Of the five injured, only one of
them required hospitalization. Two of those injured were in the Battery
Roberts casemate while it was being fired on by the 240-mm howitzers. A
shell exploded against the armor on the outside and fragments came
through the openings causing these two casualties. The other three were
injured in one of the turrets by freak hits. The turret Captain had his
periscope hit while he was observing fire and the periscope came loose
and crashed into his foot, breaking it at the instep. The other two men
in the turret were injured by enemy by enemy shell fragments which came
through the muzzle of the gun, as the breech was opened and fragments
came through backwards.
This demonstrated that under heavy
fire, fragments will enter any opening in any gun emplacement. Although
the fort took very heavy pounding and the noise was constant and the
concussion very heavy, it is to be noted that there were no cases of
combat fatigue developed on the Fort.
first day of enemy action against Fort Drum, no records of hits were
kept, but conservative estimates placed the number as approximately 100
by enemy 105 howitzers. Beginning the second day and continuing through
the war, accurate records were kept of all enemy firing. The number of
rounds fired, the number of actual hits on the hull and turrets of the
Fort, were recorded. Near misses were not counted. The number of
actual hits was 593. Of this number, only 7 were bombs, 5 light bombs
from low altitude and 2 bombs from high altitude. Of the 2 high
altitude bombs, one hit the turret face above the guns and was
harmless. The second was an 1,100-pounder and hit where many 240-mm
shells had previously landed on top of the Battery Roberts casemate.
Some of the beams of the powder magazine, directly underneath, were
broken, but no real serious damage done. At least one-half of the 586
recorded artillery hits, were 240-mm. The sides, backs and fronts of
the turrets were hit by many projectiles. Also, several exploded
against the Barbette underneath the overhang and at the rear and under
the turret. Three of the hoods protecting the periscopes were hit and
the instruments ruined. These hoods were less than 1 inch thick.
The forward turret top was opened by a
240-mm hit. The opening occurred at the seam and was about 3-1/2 feet
long by 6 inches wide. No damage occurred inside the turret, and it was
not manned at the time. The bad feature was that when both turrets were
firing at the same time, the flash from the rear turret entered the
forward turret. This was remedied by welding a one-inch piece of iron
over the opening, and fortunately, there was no other hit in this place.
The 6-inch casemate guns on the south
side were repeatedly put out of action temporarily by enemy artillery
fire. In the interior of the casemate, fragments tore off the range
drums and sight brackets and from time to time damaging the elevating
and traversing mechanism of the guns. This was repaired, but
considerable time was required to put the guns back into action. The
upper gun was hit twice on the outside of the tube by direct hits by
240-mm howitzer. The extent of the dent on the inside was measured by
use a star gauge. The hit near the muzzle was found to be 86/1000 and
the hit near the center of the tube was 173/1000. When this was
reported to the Harbor Defense Ordinance Officer, he stated that the gun
could no longer be used, as the dent was too large in area and protruded
too far on the inside of the tube. This was the only seacoast gun on
the Fort which was permanently put out of action by enemy fire.
The 3-inch battery sustained damage
about 25 minutes prior to the surrender by a hit from a Japanese dive
bomber, but this could have been repaired.
The two 3-inch antiaircraft guns on
the top deck were completely put out of action by enemy artillery fire.
The two air-cooled 50-caliber machine guns were also completely
destroyed by enemy artillery fire. The four water-cooled 50-caliber
antiaircraft machine guns were damaged from time to time, but prompt
repairs were always made and the guns were ready to meet the next
All the installations in the cage mast
were destroyed by enemy fire, but this did not hamper our operations in
any manner. The concrete hull of the structure stood up very well under
the prolonged pounding and only about 6 or 8 feet at the most were
whittled away by enemy action. However, it was noticed that the longer
these bombardments lasted, the more damage was resulting to the Fort by
hits of the same caliber which had previously not inflicted so much
damage. This was probably due to the concrete being shattered and to
the loss of bond between the concrete and the large steel reinforcing
rods. The large reinforcing rods were two feet below the top of the
outside surface and there were no smaller reinforcing rods or mesh near
the surface. The 240-mm projectile would bury itself under the
reinforcing and then detonate.
The enemy was denied the use of Manila
Bay for five months. That the enemy both wanted and needed this bay is
an unchallenged fact. The bay was guarded by two things, seacoast
artillery and mines. The mine field guarding the south channel was a
Navy contact field planted prior to the war. These mines had been
detonating accidentally in great quantities ever since the field was
laid and its effectiveness as a barrier had been dissipated. That this
mine defense had failed was known to the enemy, was evidenced by the
fact that at the surrender, 12 enemy ships sailed into the south channel
abreast, through the mine fields and back again without sweeping. The
remaining defense was seacoast artillery, and it is a matter of record
that almost all of the open seacoast batteries had either been knocked
out or rendered ineffective with the outstanding exception of the
14-inch guns on Fort Drum guarding the south channel. It is this
officer's opinion that properly designed, completely closed turrets,
mounted on a strong concrete steel emplacement, correctly sited to
command 360° fields of fire will prove unquestionably superior to any
other seacoast fortification known to us at the present time.
BEN E. KING