"ON TO CORREGIDOR!"
 
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R. B. Lewis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Map 80
Recapture of Corregidor
16 - 28 February 1945

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To those who might think Corregidor was some sort of MacArthur revenge trinket, did not need to be taken, and could have been bypassed, this is the view from the con of LCI(L)-966 as the Mariveles, Bataan, Luzon landing force comes under fire from Corregidor Island, 15 February 1945. Photo from the USS LCI National Association's 2005 calendar, courtesy of Frank Slatinshek,  Group 43 Commander.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

During WWII, the Army formed six Engineer Special Brigades for the purpose of making amphibian landings. The 1st, 5th and 6th ESB's served in the North African, Sicily, Italian and European Campaigns, including the Normandy Invasion. The 2nd, 3rd and 4th ESB's served in the Pacific Campaigns, including New Guinea, New Britain, Philippine Islands.   

The unit which participated in the Corregidor landing was  Company "F" of the 592d Engineer Boat and Shore Regiment, which was one of the key component units of the Second Engineers Special Brigade.  It provided twenty-five LCM's.  The 2d ESB holds the unique distinction of having participated in more amphibious operations than any other unit of the armed forces of the United States. It never failed, in the words of its motto,  to "Put Em Across."

The unit's nickname, "Cape Cod Commandos", referred to the area where the unit first trained.

The following is  a Chapter extract from History of the Second Engineers Special Brigade, which   describes the combat experiences of the 2ESB from one end of the Southwest Pacific Area to the other. The extract takes up the story in January 1945, just before the retaking of Manila..  The book, which is out of print, appears on the 2d ESB Website in its entirety courtesy of Robert B. Lewis, and here by permission.

 

Chapter XI

"On to Corregidor!"

Just a little over a month after the successful invasion of Mindoro, we were off again to make another assault - this time on the shores of heavily-fortified Luzon Island.  The primary objectives of the Luzon Campaign were the recapture of Manila and Corregidor which had fallen to the Japs on 2 January and 6 May 1942 respectively. The gallant defense of Corregidor by American and Filipino troops under Lieutenant General Jonathan Wainwright will never be forgotten.  When it fell, every American soldier, sailor, and marine no matter where he was stationed firmly resolved that someday somehow the stars and stripes would again fly over that island fortress to avenge the honored living and dead who had struggled to their utmost to preserve that symbol of freedom and liberty of the Filipino people.

"On to Corregidor!" became our battle cry. The road back had not been an easy one, but now after two and a half years we were standing on the threshold of the fulfillment of our resolution.  Luzon Island, with its bastions of Manila and Corregidor, was out next objective.

Prior to our "official" entry into the Luzon Campaign, troops of General Walter Kruger's Sixth Army were landed on the shores of Lingayen Gulf.  In a sense we also participated in that landing because the eight barges of "Lt. Snell's Odyssey" as described in a previous chapter were taken to that beachhead.

The 592d EBSR under the command of Colonel Allen L. Keyes with two attached brigade units, Company A of the 262d Medical Battalion and the 1460 Engineer Maintenance Company of the 562d Engineer Boat Maintenance Battalion, represented the brigade in this campaign by participating in fifteen separate amphibious landings on the shores of Luzon. Vigan, a village on Luzon's northwest coast, was selected as the first point of attack, but in the usual manner this operation was called off just as the regiment had resigned itself to the hustle and bustle of another move. Still in the usual fashion, another mission suddenly appeared on the books.  The amphibious attack would be made near the barrio of La Paz just north of Subic Bay.  After a long-to-be-remembered mad week of hurry and scurry and backbreaking work loading out most of the Task Force and then its tired self, the 592d settled down on 25 January 1945 for a little shipboard rest as they sailed from Leyte to Luzon.

The trip was quite uneventful, for the expected attacks by Jap suicide planes and possibly submarines never materialized.  The weather was even in our favor. Time on shipboard was spent in studying charts and air photographs of the beaches and in planning the attack and later shore operations. However, there was still plenty of time left to enjoy the good food, books, and card games.

The famous "Bloodless Landing" on the beaches near the barrio of La Paz on the west coast of Luzon took Place on 29 January.  At dawn the assault landing craft bad been launched from the transports and troops were going over the sides of the big ships and down the cargo nets.  The first wave hit the beach at 0830 and it was with pleasant surprise that the men were greeted with Filipino cheers and American flags instead of expected enemy fire. The men will long remember the deep, coarse, loose sand on Red and Blue Beaches and how the Shore Battalion cursed and groaned dozers into miraculous work until the Navy's eyes popped at the unloading record set up by the 592d in those two hectic days. At La Paz, Colonel Keyes and his Regimental Headquarters were located in the school building in the barrio. The Shore Battalion squatted along the beach, and the Boat Battalion set up camp on the village green.  The first look at Luzon was not too discouraging but this stop turned out to be a short one.

A three-day stay in La Paz found the job completed and their next destination was established as "somewhere around Subic Bay." Major Frank L. Mann was dispatched posthaste to choose and lay out the new camp and Captain Seymour G. Lederer of New York City was sent out to reconnoiter the roads and bridges that would be used by his overland convoy in moving to the new area.  On the first day of February, as the floating stock of the regiment set out on the cruise to Subic Bay, the Shore Battalion vehicles were formed into convoys and once more the 592d was on the move.

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Robert B Lewis Sr.  served during World War II in the 4th Engineer Special Brigade (4th ESB).  Read his full text of  the history of the 2d ESB at their excellent website. 


 

 

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