14 MAY 2011
This battery is rarely mentioned so I thought I would give you a little tour
of this area.
During the summer and fall of 1940, in order to increase the efficiency of
155-mm guns for firing at Naval targets, funds were secured and work started
by the Engineers on the construction of Battery Sunset. This included 4
Panama mounts, 400 feet of road, 1 cut and cover magazine, a temporary
galvanized iron observation station and 1 galvanized iron tool house. (from
The Moore Report Engineer Annex)
Battery Sunset, located on a ridge between Batteries Smith and Hanna, was to
be manned by D-91st Coast Artillery, Philippine Scouts.
For those who are not familiar with this type of mount or gun, here is some
background information for you. (from various sources including Wikipedia)
The term Panama Mount describes a gun mount developed by the U.S. Army in
Panama during the 1920s for fixed coastal artillery positions. Panama mounts
were widely used during the build-up to and during World War II by the
United States military.
The mounts could be constructed as either full, 3/4 or half circles of steel
rail set in concrete with a diameter of approximately 36 feet. A concrete
column with a diameter of ten feet was constructed in the center of the
circle to support the gun and carriage. The concrete column was connected to
the outer concrete ring by concrete beams for alignment/stability.
Originally traverse was accomplished with several men and pry bars to move
the trailing arms around the steel ring. Later installations included a
geared steel ring just inside of the outer steel rail for improved traverse.
1942 Panama Mount Plans
155mm GPF Gun
The gun was designed during World War I by Colonel L.J.F. Filloux to meet
France's urgent need for modern heavy artillery, and became the standard
heavy field gun of the French Army from 1917 until World War II. The rate of
fire was 2rpm, range was 17,000 yards.
Canon de 155mm GPF, designated 155mm (6.1 inch) guns were often married with
Panama mounts. It was termed "Grande Puissance Filloux" (GPF), for "Great
Power" and the name of the designer, Filloux.
It was also manufactured in the USA starting in 1917 after the US switched
to metric artillery. It was based on French patterns. The United States Army
and United States Marine Corps used this gun as their primary heavy
artillery gun under the designation 155 mm Gun M1917 or M1918.
The M1918MI was the American-made gun, which differed in some respects,
especially the breech and firing mechanism.
155mm GPF gun ready for transport.
Today Battery Sunset is one dense and thorny place to get to. The short road
is virtually impassable. Fortunately it is not too far from Grubbs Trail and
you are there in a few minutes. The magazine and Panama mounts are basically
in a straight line along the ridge parallel to the trail.
The first structure you come to is the underground magazine. A concrete
walled walkway heads straight into the ridge and then makes a 90 degree left
turn into the magazine. It has a domed roof and two air vents at the rear.
The floor is littered with broken bottles and metal cans. One hotel employee
who knows about this place says it is full of bottles but they are all
broken (translation: the bottles are broken, I canít sell them!). That is
good as most people consider this nothing but garbage. To folks like us it
is pure history telling a story.
Dozens of beer and Saki bottles are broken off at the necks. Caps are still
on the necks strewn randomly on the floor. This was what Phantom refers to
as a Banzai Party spot. Bottle tops were smashed and then the Japs drank the
contents. Apparently they didnít worry about glass fragments knowing they
would be all dead in the next hour or so.
I can imagine drunken soldiers leaving here and joining others for their
night attack on 503d troopers dug in not so far away on Battery Hearn.
Troopers said they could smell alcohol coming from the enemy. Also on the
floor are many small metal cans that I assume contained food.
Coming down the walled walkway you can see the magazine entrance to the
Doorway to the magazine.
Looking into the magazine.
Broken bottles are everywhere.
Dai Nippon Brewing Company Limited.
Most bottles still have the cap on the necks.
There are signs of a fire in here including these melted glass bottles.
Metal cans, most unopened. There is no lettering visible to
identify what the contents may have been.
(The paratroopers found huge stores of crab-meat on the
island, so that is a possibility - ExO)
Looking towards the entrance of the magazine.
Up on top, the magazineís roof has been reinforced with rocks and concrete.
The magazine air vents reach the surface here.
Two of the Panama mounts look quite destroyed and chunks of concrete lie
around the large circular pits. Two others are intact but have quite a bit
of soil and trees covering them now. The center ring of one mount looks like
I expect it to. The outer ring is buried though.
The second intact Panama Mount, also partially covered, is constructed like
no other I have seen on Corregidor. At first I thought there was a concrete
wall close to the gun mount but after clearing some bushes away I see it is
connected. Although one side of the mount is buried, this appears to be a
half or 180 degree Panama Mount. The only other partial Panama Mount that I
am aware of on Corregidor was for Battery Monja Gun #2.
Center rings of a Panama Mount.
The outer ring with the embedded rail remains buried.
Center rings of the second intact Panama Mount.
Note the concrete wall attached to the center rings.
For comparison, here is a half (180 degree) Panama Mount located in the U.S.
This appears to look like a half Panama Mount also.
The rest of it is buried so it is difficult to determine for sure.
Close-up of the
center section of the Panama Mount.
Vegetation is so thick and thorny in places that I gave up for that day
anyway. Perhaps I will try again since I did not find the observation
station or the tool house that were also constructed. I wonder if the
galvanized construction that was used means that nothing would remain today
other than some short concrete pedestals. They may be buried like most of
the mounts. This battery is not on any maps so no help there.
I will add to this report if anything else turns up.
Comments appended by "BatteryBoy"
Congrats that you reached the place in recent times. The last time I was
there was close to 10 years ago and what I can say is that the vegetation
sure got thicker and nastier.
Two of the Panama Mounts were damaged in 1942 by Japanese artillery fire
from Bataan, plus years of growth and a little of sheet erosion makes it
difficult to spot nowadays.
Again, another great Field Note from the "fots" man!
Comments appended by "The Phantom"
Some of the most telling and historical pictures I've seen in some time fots,
The documenting of individuals in the last hours of their desperate lives.
Based on the large number of bottles in Battery Sunsets small bunker, I
would venture to guess more than one group, on more than one night, drank
their last shot of courage in that location and marched into oblivion.
A few years ago a few of us were lucky enough to walk with Paul Turley
(503rd veteran), on Corregidor as he described to us, rest his soul, from
his fox hole on top of Battery Hearn, how over 200 Japanese marched up the
road to Hearn, and were all cut down by machine gun and rifle fire.
He said they were drunk.
( How did he find his fox hole after all these years? It was a bomb crater
near the large air vent on top of Hearn, easy to find, he told of friends he
lost in nearby foxholes and cried, we left him alone with his thoughts for a
There are banzai sites all around Topside, how many have we found and
documented now? 7 or 8?
Some sites are in the jungle, one grouping of bottles is in an area with
lots of large rocks, they must have sat on for their last drink.
Most are in buildings or bunkers.
As fots mentioned one thing is common, the bottle tops are all broken off,
no can openers handy, probably broke the bottle tops off with their gun
Also 2 possible locations on the tail. One of nothing but coke bottles,
although there is a good chance that coke was not the last contents of the
The 503rd found lots of sake and beer on the island and drank quite a few,
water was hard to come by for the first few days, yeah that's the reason
they drank it.............