"E" COMPANY ATTACK ON BATTERY MONJA
23 FEBRUARY, 1945
_________________
Don Abbott

Heritage Bn. contains links to several articles about the attempts to reduce Battery Monja into submission.

Refer Monja Index

 

Battery Monja was armed with two 155 mm GPF artillery pieces, capable of firing 17,000 yards. One gun was sited on a Panama Mount inside the cut where the South Shore Road cut through Wheeler Point. The other gun was also mounted on a Panama Mount and installed within a Casemate.

During the siege of Corregidor by the Japanese, the Battery was manned by Filipinos from "G" Battery of the 92nd Coast Artillery, Philippine Scouts. It was under the command of Lt. Emil Ulanowicz. It was credited with sinking a Japanese barge attempting to round the tip of Bataan, and thus from further discouraging traffic beyond that. 

What is most extraordinary about Battery Monja is that despite a number of attacks upon it by U.S. forces enjoying both air and naval superiority, it became one of the most unassailable position of the Pacific War, remaining in Japanese possession until January 1, 1946.

This one of several articles about the attempts to reduce Monja into submission.  Originally written just a few months after the attack as part of the official history of "E" Company, 503d PRCT,  Don Abbott has revised and updated the details for this website.  There is another account, written later by Hudson Hill,  "E" Company's Commanding Officer at the time of the attack, which differs significantly from Abbott's account.  Abbots' account is to be preferred. A full explanation will be forthcoming. 

 

By 22 February 1945 the 503rd Parachute Regimental Combat Team had been on the Island of Corregidor for six days.

During that time the strength of "E" Company had eroded from 7 Officers and 128 Enlisted Men to 5 Officers and 85 Enlisted Men. It was becoming difficult to operate with such a reduced organization while trying to maintain three rifle platoon and the mortar platoon. Consequently 1st Lt Hudson Hill, the Company Commander and I, the Company Executive Officer decided to eliminate the 1st platoon, for the time being, and add the men from that platoon to the 2nd and 3rd platoons. Reorganization of the mortar Platoon into two squads manning two mortars was also implemented.

The 1st Platoon, had been commanded by 1st Lt. Joe Whitson but he had been sent to the hospital that day after being temporarily blinded when a Japanese concussion grenade went off in his face as his platoon attacked the Underground Infantry Barracks in James Ravine. 1st Lt. Roscoe Corder continued to command the 2nd platoon. 2nd Lt. Lewis Crawford had already taken command of the 3rd Platoon when 1st Lt. Dick Atchison was badly injured during the jump on 16 February. 2nd Lt. Emory Ball commanded the mortar platoon.

Late in the afternoon of the 22nd Captain Lawrence Browne came to the "E" Company Command Post from the 2nd Battalion CP up the line in the 59th Coast Artillery Barracks. Larry had a new assignment for "E" Company to take on the next day.

"C" Company, from the 1st Battalion had been attacking to the West along the South Shore Road and had been stopped by a persistent Japanese force at Searchlight Point. Their final objective was to reach Wheeler Point. Every time "C" Company tried to get around Searchlight Point they had been repulsed after losing another man, or so. Now "C" Company was being pulled away from that assignment and ordered to assemble at Bottomside, along with the rest of the 1st Battalion and the 3rd Battalion. Those two Battalions were to begin a final push to the East to wipe out the remaining Japanese forces in the area East of Malinta Hill.

Now "E" Company was being tasked to take over from "C" Company. The mission, as expressed by Captain Browne, was for "E" Company to push on and take Wheeler Point, eliminating all Japanese forces along the way. An assignment easy to state but difficult to accomplish.

Browne and Hill studied the inadequate map available to the 2nd Battalion and perused several aerial photos but without much help in learning what we would run into.

The maps given to the Company level were woefully short in detail. Most Company's knowledge of what they were faced with were pretty much limited to what they could see by personal observation with, perhaps, some help from aerial photos. (1)

Browne and Hill made their way past Battery Wheeler towards Battery Cheney to a place where the road passed next to the cliff above Wheeler Point. From that point they could get the general lay of the land "E" Company would encounter. To the East Searchlight Point could be seen in the distance. In between Searchlight Point and Wheeler Point was another point which had no name on our simple map. For convenience it was called "No Name Point". They could tell the South Shore Road had very little cover for an attack toward Wheeler Point. It would be difficult to provide covering fire for the attack because the road was so narrow and there being so little room for troops to manoeuvre out of the way to allow for support.

Arrangements, however, were made with Captain Browne for Naval Gunfire and air support to be available along with machine gun and bazooka fire from the top of the cliff. It was not possible to see the face of Wheeler Point from the top of the cliff but it was thought there was some sort of fortification where the road met Wheeler Point.

After his visual study of the terrain the Company would be operating in, Lt. Hill returned to the Company and gave us his plan for our attack the next day. First, we would have to get an early start because we were due to take over from "C" Company at 8:00 AM. Roscoe Corder's 2nd Platoon would lead our way down to the South Shore Road and lead the attack of the Company toward Wheeler Point.

Lt. Hill planned to call on Naval fire as artillery to plaster each of the points in order as we attack them. This fire should soften up the defense prior to our attack.

Because of the narrowness of the road the 2nd Platoon would employ one squad at a time with the other two squads providing covering fire. Lt. Crawford would take the 3rd Platoon down to the beach and attack to the West. Lt Hill, particularly, instructed this platoon to wait until he had given them clearance to do so. The mortar platoon was to remain at Topside. They would be used from there if possible or moved down to the South Shore Road if necessary.

Prior to starting out on the morning all the men in the Company would draw one standard unit of fire for each of their weapons and light rations for one day.

Early in the morning of 23 February 1945 "E" Company assembled at the Company CP in the "Mile Long Barracks". The Company crossed the old parade ground and headed down the road leading to Battery Wheeler. A few yards past the "Officers Quarters" surrounding the parade ground Corder's scouts took a turn to the left, followed by the rest of the Company. At that point they were on the Crockett Trail which led down to the South Shore Road. Crockett trail was a steep secondary road, leading down Crockett Ravine, which dropped from an elevation of 500 feet to about 100 feet at the bottom. If the road had been followed the distance from the top to the bottom might have been, perhaps, three or four hundred yards. But the road had some very sharp hairpin turns. Cutting across the switch backs, the distance was probably not much more than a hundred yards. The scouts, initially, followed the road but after seeing that the road was badly damaged by the bombing before our landing and full of craters and trees which had been knocked down, they began to cut across between the stretches of road.

This ravine, on 16 February, was in the path of the planes bringing troopers into Drop Zone B, the old 9-hole golf course. A number of chutes were still hanging where men, who had jumped too early, had landed. We, carefully, checked these chutes as we went by. Fortunately, it looked as if all the men whose chutes we saw had made it out of the ravine. (2)

About 8 AM we reached the South Shore Road and linked up with "C" Company and Captain John Rucker. Hill had a conference with Rucker, with me observing, about the situation we were faced with. Rucker told us they had not been able to get around Searchlight Point. Each time they got within sight of the bend in the road they were struck with sniper fire and lost men. It was evident Rucker was happy to leave the remainder of his "C" Company assignment to us and he left as soon as he had given us a quick run-down.

Original plans called for naval gunfire to soften up the defenders of Searchlight Point but about the time we reached the South Shore Road we saw the Destroyer offshore, heading off to the West at high speed. A call from Captain Browne informed us the ship had been called away on an emergency. Consequently our attack on Searchlight Point, No Name Point and Wheeler Point would have to go on without Naval help. (3)

We stationed the 30 Caliber LMG to the left of the road and laid down a pattern of fire around an old truck which had been abandoned at the turn in the road around Searchlight Point. This seemed to do the trick and several dead Japanese were found under the truck. They, apparently, had been caught as they were setting up one of their own machine guns.

The 2nd Platoon, under Roscoe Corder, moved up to Searchlight Point without taking any casualties.

The 3rd Platoon, under Lewis Crawford went down to the beach, without incident, and moved up to the East side of Searchlight Point.

When Corder's platoon reached Searchlight Point, No Name Point came into sight.

With further MG and rifle fire support the 2nd Platoon reached No Name Point.

Now Hill gave Crawford and the 3rd platoon the go-ahead to go around the base of Searchlight Point to the beach between there and No Name. The tide must have been low because the platoon rounded the point with the water being not over waste deep. Just under the West side of Searchlight Point the platoon ran into a cave which had either been formed by wave formations or dug by beach defenses (either US or Jap). At any rate the cave was occupied and the platoon had to keep the occupants down until they could get close enough to toss grenades. In addition to the MG on the beach, the MG on the road, which had moved up to No Name Point, could get an angle on the cave and provide some help.

As soon as the 3rd platoon had knocked that cave out they were struck by fire from another cave under the slope of the East side of No Name Point. Crawford, and the MG assigned to him were able to cover the new cave long enough to advance the platoon up where it could wipe out that threat.

Hill and Corder had looked over the advance from No Name Point to Wheeler Point before I arrived at No Name. They were discussing how they were going to get to Wheeler Point. I peered through the sparse bushes on the top of No Name and my first impression was that there was no way in the world it could be done without losing the whole attacking force. The road curved slightly around to the left with practically no cover the whole distance. The road at Wheeler Point disappeared into a "V" cut in the Point. A few yards toward us from the cut two concrete portals undoubtedly concealed a lot of Japanese. These were the concrete installations that had been seen on the aerial oblique photographs. To the left (South) of the cut there were indications of more concrete installations out toward the end of the Point. (4) To the left of the road, the bank fell off very steeply to the beach some hundred and fifty feet below. To the right a nearly sheer cliff was covered with lose boulders, or scree.

This is were we needed artillery support or fire from the Navy. But we had been told the Navy was being used elsewhere. Our communications with Captain Browne at the top of the cliff were sketchy but we gathered that Air Corps or 75 mm artillery from the 462nd were out of the picture. Our artillery could not lay fire close enough to the entrances we could see under Wheeler Point to do any good.

Tactics to advance our 2nd Platoon to Wheeler Point would have to be limited to the weapons we had with us. Other than our individual M-1's  or Carbines all we had were BAR's, 30 Caliber LMG's from HQ Company, and a couple of Bazookas. The Bazookas had a few rounds of High Explosives and a few rounds of White Phosphorous. Each rifleman had at least one White Phosphorous grenade and most had a few regular grenades.

We set up a fire base on No Name Point consisting of the LMG and all the manpower from Company HQ and the 2nd Platoon except for the one squad in the lead and began laying fire on any place which we thought might hold enemy. Then the one squad from the 2nd platoon advanced a few yards, stopping in whatever cover they could find in the almost completely open road. Then that squad would provide cover fire for the next squad, and so on. As the last of the squads left the cover of No Name Point Hill told me to maintain the fire base with the people from Company HQ and the LMG from Battalion HQ. All told there were about 10 people who formed the fire base. That was not much but when it appeared cover fire was needed the men sent out a respectable amount of fire.

As the Company attack progressed it was difficult to determine where the Jap fire was coming from. It was clear a lot of it was coming from the two tunnel entrances along the road near the cut in the road and it was, undoubtedly, coming from the ridge to the left of the cut. But it seemed that fire was coming from every place in the Wheeler Point area, above the entrances and up the cliff. Since we did not have good maps of the area, we did not know there was a Wheeler Tunnel with an opening along the face of the cliff to the right of our advance. (5) Before the 2nd Platoon began its advance, Hill and I discussed whether there might be a tunnel connecting the two entrances near the cut with Wheeler Battery on Topside. At that time we guessed there was a connection and thought so, even more, after we withdrew.(6)

The 2nd Platoon finally was able to make its way up to the first of the two entrances along the road with more frantic fire coming from those entrances as they approached. When they were within range, white phosphorous grenades were tossed into the entrances. This always precipitated a screaming attack by Japs rushing out. They would, immediately, be mowed down by our men. The white phosphorous Bazooka rounds drew the biggest reaction and netted many kills.

Finally a handfull of the 2nd platoon men made it past the second entrance but could not get further because the Jap fire appeared to be heavier. (7) It was while they were at the end of the 2nd platoon advance that Pfc. Howard Jandro was killed and Pfc. Brown mortally wounded.

At about this time I was moving along the reverse slope of No Name Point, trying to pin down where the Jap fire was coming from but it was difficult to see Wheeler Point clearly because of the bushes along the top of the ridge. I found one small gap in the bushes and stuck my head up for a good look. One of the men next to the gap said "I wouldn't do that, Lieutenant, they have that spot zeroed in." I took the man at his word and moved a few feet down the line where the view was not quite as good but did not draw any fire. Pfc. Cecil Robinson came along the line right behind me, looked through the gap and was drilled, neatly, between the eyes.

The 2nd platoon attack became bogged down at this point with withering Jap fire preventing further advance. The battle had reached an impasse with our men holding in place. After an hour, or so, I decided I would go up and see if I could be of any help to Hill and Corder. I, probably, set some sort of record for the distance I covered since there was still occasional gunfire.

Hill was behind a small rise of dirt and rocks with just enough room for him, his radio man George Chiuses and me. One of the first things I noted was that another round would come over our heads ever so often with a sharp "snap" as it passed and a "cherchunk" as it slammed into the cliff behind us. The radio Chiuses had been carrying was hit and out of order. We were cut off from any chance of communicating with Topside.

On the run to get up with Hill and while I was with him I could get a much better look at the steep hill side to our right. There were what seemed like hundreds of decaying Japanese bodies. Along with the bodies were weapons, canteens, packs and other items they must have been carrying. I couldn't, for the life of me think why all those bodies were there unless they had, somehow, been killed by Naval gunfire. (8)

Hill told me that Lt. Emery Ball had followed the 2nd Platoon along the road and had been firing on the tunnel entrances along with the enlisted men from the platoon. I don't know what Ball was doing there since his Mortar platoon had remained at topside. As Hill watched, Ball stood up and caught several round in the chest and stomach. Ball was dead before he hit the ground. (9)

Hill had been in the process of taking a count on ammunition left to the Platoon. He knew all the Bazooka ammunition and grenades had been used since the front-line men had been calling for more but none were sent forward. Most everyone was down to just a few rounds of ammo and he wondered how much the men back in the fire base had. I had already noted they were getting low, including the LMG from Headquarters Company.

Since almost all the ammunition had been consumed and there did not seem to be any chance of getting resupplied, it seemed the best idea to call off the action at that point.

The 2nd Platoon with Corder, Hill and myself took turns setting records for the 100 yard dash back to No Name Point.

By the time the Platoon and the fire base had expended more ammunition covering the withdrawal most men were down to what they had left in their weapons.

According to Hill, 110 dead Japanese had been counted but many were believed to have been killed in the tunnels and not counted. The Morning Report for 23 February 1945 showed "E" Company reporting 1 Officer and 2 EM killed and 1 EM DOW.

"E" Company had been through a rough day. We had accomplished most of our assignment and had killed a lot of Japanese but we had not conquered Wheeler Point and, worst of all, we had four good men killed in the try.

 

                -AUTHOR'S NOTES-                      

 

(1) Bill Calhoun has a story about the lack of detailed maps which would have made the "E" Company assignment more understandable. It seems that Major General Marquat, on General MacArthur's staff, learned that men in "F" Company had discovered a supply of liquor on the Island. General Marquat, came on the Island with a supply of bread, as trading material for which he hoped he could get some of the liquor. In a discussion with General Marquat Lt. Calhoun asked the General why there were not more adequate maps. General Marquat said the Island had exceedingly good maps, large scale, five-foot contours and all facilities shown in great detail. When Bill asked why we had not receive copies the General said, rather pompously, "Oh no, those are Top Secret. Troops in the field could not have those". We certainly could have used those maps for our attack on Wheeler Point. ^

(2) If we had continued to follow the Crocker Trail with the ridge to our right we would have found what we have learned in recent years was known as C-1 tunnel. This tunnel led from the East to the West sides of the ridge, passing under the C-I command station. The tunnel was used by men stationed at C-1 and other facilities as shelter from Japanese bombing and shelling during the siege of the Island in 1942. Now the tunnel could have harbored any number of enemy troops which could have caught us in the open and from the rear. Apparently, the Japanese were not using that tunnel, however. It is just as well we did not know it was there.^

(3) After World War II, a number of Infantry Officers who had decided to make a career out of the Military were sent to Advanced Officers School at Fort Benning, Georgia. Then Captain Hudson Hill was one of those attending. As part of the course a final Monograph was to be submitted by each Officer using actual experiences and lessons learned in the course. Hill states, in his monograph that he directed Naval gunfire to zero in on Searchlight Point after which the Navy destroyer "fired for effect" thus clearing Searchlight Point of Japanese, allowing "E" Company to advance.  I do not remember receiving any Naval fire at this time and neither does Roscoe Corder. I believe Hill stuck this in as an example of what should have been done.^

(4) Now that we have access to decent maps, we know Searchlight Number 4 was located there and had a concrete pit in which the light was stored when not being used.^

(5) I do not know to this day whether the Japs had any people firing on us from that vantage point.^

(6) During several trips back to Corregidor in recent years I have carefully checked both in the Battery Monja area and around Wheeler Battery and have found no evidence of such a connection.^

(7) At this point, Hill, in his Monograph says a Jap officer came out of the entrance, swinging a saber and hacked at Pfc. William A. Brown.  This is disputed by Corder, who was closer to the incident than Hill ever was.  ^

(8) In recent years I have discussed the battle "D" Company had at Wheeler Point on the night of 18/19 February with, then, S/Sgt. Louis Hadrava. He told me that on the morning of 19 February there were many Jap bodies in front of their position. Someone told them to drag the bodies over to the cliff and toss them over. He explained how one man would grab a Jap's legs while another grabbed his arms. They would swing the body back and forth to get momentum and, then, toss it over the cliff. He had no idea how many bodies they had tossed but knew there were lot of them. Again in recent years, I have learned that the many Japanese tourists who visit Corregidor are told that many Japanese committed suicide by jumping over the cliff. This, the guides tell me, lead to tears from the tourists and bigger tips.^

(9) Corder told me Ball had told him he felt if he remained behind he would not be contributing to the efforts of the Company and he wanted to be part of the action.^

 

  

 

DON VERSAW'S (4th MARINES) LETTER TO AL McGREW

I've been in touch with Donald Abbott (503rd RCT) on account of his article.  I sometimes have trouble getting connected to the website but I did print out Abbott's great story of that unit's assault on Wheeler and Monja Points. It still grieves me that so many boys were lost over that "lost road" ending at Battery Monja. I had an e-mail from him and he told me, as you did, about how difficult or impossible it was for him to re-explore that battery and its environs. It wasn't quite clear to me just how far South Shore road extends now but I understand it don't go as far as it used to. 

The maps they had of that area don't agree with my recollection of how the points were named. There was no NO NAME POINT that I can remember. That one is what we all called Wheeler Point and it's where my fox hole was. That was my 'Casa Grande' and I knew every step to and from it in the dark - believe. I shit a brick or two in it straining my eyes out to sea looking for the Jap landing craft that never came. I think I had two bandoleer's of ammo, a couple of hand grenades, some pretty good sized rocks and my piss pot helmet and that was about it. Battery Wheeler was right up the cliff over my head and fired a couple times right over the top of me - I thought - that's what it sounded like. Almost tore the legs off my trousers when it did. Whew! what a boom.

It looks like they called Monja Point, Wheeler. That don't make a lot of sense to me. If Battery Monja was in the point why couldn't they have just guessed that it would have been named Monja? We called the little rock off the end of it Monja Rock. Maybe when you're up topside from Wheeler the only point you could probably see is Monja. Wheeler Point might not be visible from there unless you were on the very edge of the cliffs. They went almost straight up from the edge of the road. There were some little dribblely springs leaking out of them there. Good place to take a Whore's bath. 

Don Versaw

 

    

 

 

 

 

         

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T  h  e      U .   S .   N .      a   t       C   o   r   r   e   g   i   d   o   r  

 

 

   F U R T H E R       R E A D I N G    U S S   F L E T C H E R   ( D D - 4 4 5 )  
The following correspondence is edited.  Read their full text by visiting The USS Fletcher Reunion Group.

USS Fletcher (DD-445)
Official US Navy Photo
via courtesy
The USS Fletcher Reunion Group.
 

Dear John,

   My name is Paul Bigelow and I'm a major in the USAF at Hurlburt Field in FL (near Fort Walton Beach).  I'm trying to research some family history and came upon the history of the USS Fletcher (my mother's maiden name). The reference to Elmer Bigelow is the first piece I've been able to trace in my research for the USS Bigelow (DD-942).  Can you provide additional details, if available, of Elmer C. Bigelow who died during the gunfire attack on 14 Feb 45 of Corregidor?   Thank you in advance for your time and consideration.

         Sincerely,
PAUL T. BIGELOW,
Maj, USAF

Dear Major Bigelow,

I was aboard the USS Fletcher, Feb. 14, 1945 and remember the activities of the day very well. I personally did not know Elmer Bigelow, he was in a different division and with over 300 men aboard, we would see a shipmate and only know him from a smile. With a "24 hour day" while underway, only a third of the ship's crew would be needed at their designated work places. At General Quarters, everyone would have their assigned "battle station" be it engine or boiler rooms, on the bridge or to the gun mounts with their support personnel and to the various "damage control group" centers. located around the ship.  These "damage control" men were experienced, having special tools including portable water pumps for using sea water in case of fire and the many duties they may be required to do in an emergency.  I think Elmer was in this type of unit and why he was there, ready to put out the fire in the ammunition storage compartment.

You may find it interesting to know that for three days prior to the action you are interested in, our task-force of cruisers and destroyers were firing shells at Corregidor Island's steep cliffs, using our five (five inch) mounts from dawn to dusk. Retired 30 miles north to Subic Bay, our advance base, where we watched movies on the bow of the ship, using #1 enclosed mount sideways with its side door open where the projector was placed so it would be above our heads. Buckets upside down was a very common seat.  The next morning it was down the coast and back to bombarding Corregidor. During these days, there was no return fire from the island. Our range finders being powerful, could see the tunnels in the cliffs, covered with removable brush, where a gun emplacements may be, but these guns were likely on tracks, rolled back from the entrance and probably not damaged. On February 14th. another destroyer and our ship were ordered to blow up mines which were floating in the water. A Navy (yard) mine sweeper earlier, had cut their cables from "anchors".   Moving very slowly as each shell fired did not explode a mine and with Corregidor being silent,  It was a surprise to see shells landing in the water near our ship and they certainly were not coming from our sister ship.

We immediately reversed our engines and had backed up about a hundred feet when a shell from Corregidor hit our ship a hundred feet forward from my "battle station".

I will always believe I was spared.

The shell cut open the deck into the chief's living quarters below and put big holes in #1 gun (where most were killed) and disabled the use of #2 gun. Below decks were the ammunition storage compartments for the damaged guns and there, a fire had started by the exploding shell. Elmer's quick action in putting out the fire in a confined area without thinking of himself, and taking the time in using the normally used breathing equipment, saved our ship from terrible damage if not losing the whole ship with many fatalities.

The crew of the USS Fletcher to this day believe this to be true.

We had just been hit by the enemy's shell, when, within minutes, orders came for our ship to rescue men from a sinking mine sweeper which was much closer to Corregidor. As we headed for the stricken craft, we knew there was an active gun just waiting for our ship to come closer. Then, out of the "blue", a plane flying just above the waves with a plume of white smoke trailing hid our ship from the island completely. In those few minutes till the smoke cleared, our ship "regrouped" and with the help of this spotter plane, (from a cruiser) our guns were able to fire round after round into the tunnel where, we were told, by the plane's pilot, the gun responsible for our ship's damage, was located and destroyed it.

At this same time, my gun captain, had been ordered to help with rescue work at the damaged area. I was standing next to him so he handed his earphones to me. (Our 40mm gun had not been used in this operation,)   While our ship was picking up the mine sweeper's survivors, orders came from the bridge telling me to take our crew to another 40mm gun near the bow. Men from this forward gun had gone to  help in the rescue of our casualties.  After reporting all present at our new gun position, I received orders to have our crew fire at the yard mine sweeper along the water line, This was to sink it so it wouldn't keep floating and possibly land on the beach for the enemy to board.  We heard later there were several dead aboard.

The USS Hopewell had originally gone to the rescue of this stricken craft but enemy shells landing on the destroyer had killed many men, it stopped the rescue efforts and had to retreat, passing us with its dead readily visible.

We returned to Subic Bay, transferred our six dead and seven wounded to a destroyer tender (repair ship) and prepared for the next morning when paratroopers would land on top of Corregidor.

The next day our ship was in position and participated as required, even if we only had three guns available,  if needed, we would use them as if there were five.

   It was also the day Elmer Bigelow died from double pneumonia, the result of breathing only smoke too long. His heroic action was noted. After the war, President Truman gave his mother the Congressional Medal of Honor, posthumously. For conspicuous gallantry at the risk of his life.

A destroyer, USS Elmer Bigelow DD 942, was named in his honor.

In passing, another destroyer, USS La Vallette (DD-448) was ordered to finish firing at the still floating mines in the area we had left earlier, but the ship hit an uncut mine, opening a huge hole in its starboard side. It nearly sank with its bow nearly level with the waves. A second destroyer, USS Radford (DD 446) was dispatched to rescue it, but then, also hit a mine in the same forward fireroom, starboard side as the La Vallette. The casualties for the Radford were less when the Captain had already ordered all unnecessary men normally below, to stay on deck.  The Radford was able to tow the La Vallette the 30 miles back to Subic Bay, mentioned earlier. Both were given enough repairs to handle the trip to a West Coast shipyard for restoration.
        

J.V.Jensen

( The USS Fletcher Reunion Group contains the comprehensive Corregidor Action Report)


 


   F U R T H E R       R E A D I N G    U S S   H O P E W E L L  ( D D - 6 8 1 ) 
The following correspondence is edited.  Read their full text by visiting Hopewell DD-681 Association Website

 

USS Hopewell (DD-681)
USS Hopewell (DD-681)
photo courtesy Patrick Clancey's
Hyperwar Project

Hopewell was a Fletcher Class Destroyer,
and virtually identical to the USS Fletcher.

 

My uncle, William Earl Parrish MM3, USNR was killed by Japanese shore batteries while  rescuing survivors on minesweeper YMS-48 that had been hit. He died in action on Feb 14, 1945 during rescue attempts at Corregidor. He was buried in military cemetery in Philippines.  I am looking for any information on shipmates who knew him or about his death. He was Electricians Mate 3rd Class

Thanks,
Anthony Scott Parrish 

Dear Anthony,

My name is James D. Hunter . I was on the Hopewell when it was hit off of Corregidor.   I knew Rebel Parrish very well although I don't remember why we called him Rebel.  We had been shelling Corregidor for days and the bombers had dropped hundreds of bombs on the island and it seemed impossible that anyone could still be alive. A minesweeper attempted to enter Manila Bay but it had to enter between Corregidor and the Bataan Peninsula as the rest of the entrance was too shallow for ships to enter.  As we watched there was a big puff of green smoke and the minesweeper was hit by Jap shore batteries.  Our stupid Captain had us rush full speed into the narrow channel to rescue survivors.  The Japs opened up on us and we were severely damaged. Rebel Parish was at his battle station on a deck around the forward mast.  I was standing below just outside of the gangway leading to the mess hall. I was an RBA (rescue breathing apparatus) repair party man.  A shell hit the forward mast where Rebel was stationed.  The mast was surrounded by cork life nets. I was blown backwards into a hatchway leading to the mess hall and landed on an Electricians mate who had a huge hunk of shrapnel embedded in his skull. Don't recall his name. My eyes and face were full of cork and as soon as I scrambled out and cleared my eyes I looked up to see how Rebel was and saw he was hanging there obviously dead. The end of this story is we didn't rescue anyone and lost quite a few shipmates. 

I personally think the Captain should have gotten a reprimand or court action for rushing into a narrow channel without a smoke screen when it was obvious that there were still live Jap shore batteries that had their guns trained on that narrow channel. Incidentally I received a citation for bravery and cool courage from Admiral Kincaid after this action took place and would gladly trade it for just one of those who so needlessly lost their lives.

Jim Hunter, 
USS Hopewell
DD-681, 1945

Materials concerning USS Fletcher DD-445 
2003 USS Fletcher Reunion Group, Inc.
By permission courtesy of Earl Faubion

 

Materials concerning USS Hopewell DD-681
2003 USS Hopewell DD-681 Association
By permission, courtesy of Noel Nichols