Difficult as it is to prove a negative, none of the paratroopers I have spoken with knew of any man who landed directly into the water - though several found it safer to be picked up at water's edge, or from the water, than climb the sheer cliffs through Japanese held territory. Battery Monja is concealed in a casemate above the saddle of Wheeler Point. Whilst the 6-inch gun may have been silenced by 16 February 1945, the Battery would never be breached by men of the 503d PRCT - until 1989.  (Enlargement CD-Rom only)

"UNASSAILABLE
MONJA"

_________________
Paul F. Whitman

Heritage Bn. contains links to several articles about the attempts to reduce Battery Monja into submission, and this article seeks to put them into sequence, and give them perspective.

Refer Monja Index

 

 

The student of Corregidor's history must do a little digging before discovering that despite a complete mastery of US forces in both the air and the coastal waters around The Rock,  and against a preponderance of U.S. military assets on the ground and seas unmatched in modern warfare, a  small force of Japanese was able to hold out against all comers until their voluntary surrender on 1 January 1946.

It's not an issue of pride to the U.S. Army, I suppose, being unable to eliminate holdouts on Fortress Corregidor - though it does speak well for an American practical military sensibility of recognition that there must be limits upon applying men's lives towards a useless tactical military objective. 

On 1 January 1946, a group of twenty Japanese, well-fed and in presentable dress uniforms, surrendered to a member of a US Graves Registration Unit at Topside, Corregidor.

At the time, it was not known where they had been hiding, and the prisoners weren't saying. 

More than forty years later, a Japanese national was taken into custody when apprehended digging at Wheeler Point. Assuring Corregidor's authorities that he was not a treasure hunter, he claimed to be digging to repatriate the bones of his wartime colleagues buried in that vicinity.  He was digging at Battery Monja.

In another incident, the story is told of a group of Japanese gathering the remains of their Corregidor dead. The elderly men who were shown a newspaper clipping with a picture of the "New Year's Day Twenty" and one, or maybe more of the men got excited pointing at the picture, and them himself. Names and addresses were exchanged.

Yet, even when, in the spirit of friendship and historic research these former servicemen were approached by mail more than 40 years afterwards, they were uniformly reticent to disclose the details of their survival as if, deep down, they were still ashamed of being the survivors of a garrison of several thousand.  

These men were amongst the Japanese survivors of Battery Monja, one of the few installations in the Pacific War invaded but never conquered by forces intended specifically to eliminate their presence. Monja was within a mere two hundred yards of the perimeter of U.S. power, yet remained unconquerable.

For that is the little known claim to fame of Corregidor's Battery Monja  - a little-known but significant place in the history of the 503d PRCT,  that of Corregidor - and even in the history of the Pacific War, and the fortress than never fell.  

Whilst everywhere else in the Philippines, Japanese forces either stood, defended and were ultimately destroyed, or were being pursued towards military irrelevance in a constant cat and mouse games through increasingly remote areas, Btty. Monja remained an unconquerable redoubt for a small group of Japanese holdouts, able to resist everything that could be thrown at them.

Certainly by 8 March, when the 503d PRCT was withdrawn from Corregidor to Mindoro,  Btty. Monja was no longer militarily bothersome. But it was still a "no go" area. 

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 a 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 and was credited with sinking a Japanese barge attempting to round the tip of Bataan, and thus from further discouraging traffic beyond that point.

Shore Bombardment Off  Corregidor 
February 1945

 

The details of the incidents involving the USS Fletcher are courtesy of USS Fletcher Reunion Group. Visit their fine website.

Shore Bombardment Off  Corregidor

The initial seaborne attack upon Btty. Monja was during preparations for the January 16 landings.

USS Fletcher (DD-445) and USS Hopewell (DD-681) were attached to Task Unit 77.3.2 in the support of Task Group 78.3 in the Manila Bay area which was making amphibious landings on Mariveles, and would soon make the amphibious landing on Corregidor.  Shore bombardments of Corregidor had been taking place from dawn to dusk for over three days, and on the morning of 14 February, the destroyers were part of a screen for a number of minesweepers which had been assigned to clear a pathway through the extensive minefields off Bataan peninsula. Fletcher had been exploding mines cut from their moorings by the minesweepers.  Heading on a westerly course south of Corregidor, Fletcher had come under fire from Japanese batteries on Caballo. Turning sharply, she headed north to a position in Mariveles Harbour, from where she fired on Japanese batteries at Los Cochinos Point.   At 1326 hrs, she took a hit from a 6-inch Japanese shore battery on Corregidor, almost certainly Monja, killing most of the men in the #1 turret, disabling the #2 turret and starting fires in the ammunition storage compartments. Fletcher continued to fire as she controlled damage, during which time Watertender First Class Elmer Charles Bigelow saved the boat by extinguishing fires in the fore magazine. In the confined area of the compartment, the toxic fumes  from his extinguisher would ultimately become his cause of death by pneumonia. He was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously, one of two awarded during the Corregidor operation.


Minesweeper before Corregidor 

February 1945

Watercolour by
Dwight Shepler

The destroyer laid smoke and moved in to help damaged YMS-48, and soon received four hits, putting her battery control station out of commission. Graphics courtesy of Naval Historical Center

(click to enlarge - CD only)

Minesweeper before Corregidor  - Dwight Shepler - US Navy Collection

As the firefight continued, cruisers and destroyers of the shore bombardment group in the area were drawn into the action. One of the motor minesweepers in the North Channel between Corregidor and Bataan, YMS-48, sustained several hits and began to sink. Hopewell and Fletcher, now damaged, were ordered to assist. Hopewell, which had been clearing obstructions from Mariveles Harbor with gunfire, commenced to lay smoke and moved in to help the badly damaged YMS-48, where it received four hits, putting her battery control station out of commission, and causing 17 casualties. Fletcher, having turned south out of Marivales Harbor, then headed north towards the North Channel and the YMS-48, again coming under fire from the same battery which had hit her earlier.  Obscured by smoke, and with the assistance of a cruiser-based spotter aircraft, Fletcher was able to pump round after round into the area of a tunnel from where the fire was thought to be originating.

The USS Fletcher at  Corregidor 
14 February 1945

Fletcher  itself took on survivors from the sinking minesweeper in the North Channel, coming under fire  from smaller guns along Corregidor's northern shoreline. Graphics courtesy of USS Fletcher Reunion Group.

The USS Fletcher at  Corregidor
The Minefields at Corregidor 
 

The mines were not of the "floating style" but were tethered to the bottom and controlled from panels on Corregidor. Army-Navy rivalry extended to separate minefields.

 

Men on the Fletcher could see Hopewell withdrawing from the rescue scene with dead clearly visible upon its decks. Fletcher  herself took on survivors from the sinking minesweeper in the North Channel, coming under fire  from smaller guns along Corregidor's northern shoreline.  As she withdrew with six dead and seven wounded, Fletcher sunk the minesweeper with gunfire at the waterline.

After counter-battery fire against the area from where the shots had originated on Corregidor, with observation assistance of a spotter aircraft,  the  large gun fell silent, and attentions were drawn elsewhere.

Fletcher, with three of her five guns operable, performed as required during the amphibious landings.

Tin Can Sailors Association Logo

 

 

 

 

         

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Combat Over Corregidor

Japanese Unit & Troop Strength

503d WWII Honor Roll

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William T. Calhoun

Amid th' Encircling Gloom

Ft. Benning Monographs

Taps

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John Lindgren

The Rock Patch

503d PIR as a Case Study

Rock Force Honor Roll

4th Marines on Corregidor

George M. Jones

By Order of Maj. Kline

Engineers' Report - Corregidor

Site & Navigation Info

Bless 'Em All

James P. Lowe

 

 

 

503d PRCT Assn Official Website

Robert W. Armstrong

REFERENCES

FILM CLIPS

503D HERITAGE

Concrete Battleship

Verne White

1936 Corregidor Map

503d Jump at Nadzab

by Article Title

Battle of Manila

Jim Mullaney

2/503 Vietnam Newsletter

Cleaning Up Corregidor

by Author Name

Fall of the Philippines

(more)

1945 Jump Map

Interview - Clevenger

by List of Recent Articles 

 

 GO TO CONTENTS

The 503d PRCT Heritage Battalion is the Official Website of the 503d Parachute RCT Association of WWII Inc. Join with us and share the 503d Heritage and values.

So that the last man standing shall not stand alone.

 

 

Copyright , 1999-2011 - All Rights Reserved to The Corregidor Historic Society, 503d PRCT Heritage Bn. & Rock Force.Org
Last Updated: 29-03-11

 

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)

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.

J. V. Jensen in 2002You 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

 

 

 

 

         

OUR WEBSITES

AUTHORS

FEATURES

STAND IN THE DOOR!

FOLLOW

Corregidor Then and Now

Don Abbott

The Lost Road

Battlebook - Corregidor

Bulletin Board / Feedback Forum

503d PRCT Heritage Bn.

Gerry Riseley

Combat Over Corregidor

Japanese Unit & Troop Strength

503d WWII Honor Roll

Rock Force

William T. Calhoun

Amid th' Encircling Gloom

Ft. Benning Monographs

Taps

Coast Artillery Manila & Subic Bays

John Lindgren

The Rock Patch

503d PIR as a Case Study

Rock Force Honor Roll

4th Marines on Corregidor

George M. Jones

By Order of Maj. Kline

Engineers' Report - Corregidor

Site & Navigation Info

Bless 'Em All

James P. Lowe

 

 

 

503d PRCT Assn Official Website

Robert W. Armstrong

REFERENCES

FILM CLIPS

503D HERITAGE

Concrete Battleship

Verne White

1936 Corregidor Map

503d Jump at Nadzab

by Article Title

Battle of Manila

Jim Mullaney

2/503 Vietnam Newsletter

Cleaning Up Corregidor

by Author Name

Fall of the Philippines

(more)

1945 Jump Map

Interview - Clevenger

by List of Recent Articles 

 

 GO TO CONTENTS

The 503d PRCT Heritage Battalion is the Official Website of the 503d Parachute RCT Association of WWII Inc. Join with us and share the 503d Heritage and values.

So that the last man standing shall not stand alone.

 

 

Copyright , 1999-2011 - All Rights Reserved to The Corregidor Historic Society, 503d PRCT Heritage Bn. & Rock Force.Org
Last Updated: 29-03-11