16 February, 1945.  A destroyer comes in close during
preparation for the Corregidor landings.




















The traffic wasn't always one-way















17 February, 1945. LCI's beached on Black Beach.





Plan for Corregidor

A quick stretch of the terrain and tactical plan before I continue with the close-in air and naval support will clarify the story. Corregidor is a tadpole stretched out from west to east in the entrance of Manila Bay. The head of this polliwog (the west end of the island) is called Topside. It is a 500-foot high plateau that drops into deep ravines and cliffs to the water’s edge on all sides, and this part of the island is 2,500  yards in diameter.

The thin waist of the tadpole is called Bottomside. It is about five hundred yards wide and rises about twenty five feet above the water. Overlooking Bottomside and to the east of it is steep, jagged, 400-foot Malinta Hill. This hill is over 800 yards long from north to south and only 300 yards wide. The main corridor of Malinta Tunnel runs through the base of the hill from west to east with a main entrance at each end. North and south wing tunnels join the main tunnel inside and come out at smaller entrances on the north and south sides of the hill. From Malinta Hill to the east, the tail of the tadpole stretches out for 3,000 yards to its tip.

Corregidor’s long standing nickname, “the Rock,” is a good one for there is only enough soil over the jumble of rock strata to support the life of heavy undergrowth. The tactical plan, which was followed to the letter, called for the 503d Paratroop Regiment to land two battalions on Topside by parachute at 0830. The 3d Battalion, 34th Infantry, was to land near South Dock on the south shore of Bottomside at 1030, secure the Bottomside area and Malinta Hill. From there on, priority one was to open the road from Bottomside to Topside. Priority two, the 503d would clean up Topside including all its ravines and cliffs while the 34th held tight on Malinta. Priority three, a drive down to the east tip from Malinta Hill.

There are a hundred or more stories to tell of how it all worked out, but I shall stick to air and naval gunfire support.

Air Support Operations

The air support set-up was quite orthodox in organization but outstanding in ability. Captain Gire, the air liaison officer, had one lieutenant and four enlisted men. They were equipped with a radio capable of reaching both the air base and the planes in the air. An air strike would begin with a request to the air liaison officer. Sometimes he got his request twelve or more hours in advance, but a fifteen-minute notice didn’t faze him in the least. Next, an OP would be established for the strike. At the OP was a ground troop officer thoroughly familiar with the ground, the tactical situation and the target. That was usually the battalion CO or executive officer of the unit being helped by the air strike. The Air Forces lieutenant was there with a telephone line to the liaison officer at the radio. An 81mm mortar observer completed the group.

The procedure usually went like this: Captain Gire called the squadron leader, who was circling overhead with his outfit, and designated the target on their corresponding air support photos. He also gave him the position of the nearest friendly troops and a line of air flight along which overs and shorts would be harmless to us. After the squadron leader had identified the target and instructed his pilots, the made a trial run. For the trial run, we marked our lines with colored smoke and the target with a white phosphorus mortar shell. For the bombing run the target was again marked the same way and in they came. The air officer at the OP watched them like a hawk. Control was so tight that after one pilot had dropped his bomb, the next plane could be given an adjustment for over or short on the first bomb to make his own release accordingly. If necessary, the second plane could be turned off the target. Such an emergency never arose, but that safety measure definitely could have been taken. That is real air support!


*Sufficient of Pfc Harold J. Duncan (32762943) KIA on 16 February 1945, late of New Jersey, was found to be buried in the Manila Cemetery at A 13, 38.