Jan Valtin *

 Children of Yesterday: The History of the 24th Division in WWII can be purchased from Battery Press







No soldier in combat is able to follow the course of battle beyond the ken of his own squad, section, or platoon, particularly in tropical terrain where a man often can see no farther than the front sight of his rifle. Striving to depict men in battle on a division scale, I have made use of notes generously supplied to me by my fellow combat reporters in the 24th Infantry Division. I herewith express my appreciation to Privates Milton Haneline and Raymond Merrigan; Sergeants Luther Hendrickson, Waldo Vandeventer, Verne Mabry, and J. C. Murray; Lieutenant Alan Beaumont and Captain Lloyd Price, all of whom risked their lives to gather the factual raw material for this book. Acknowledgment is also made to Lieutenant William D. J. Gordon for detailed first-hand data on the Division's operations in Bataan and on Corregidor.


We knew what soldiers can and cannot do. War had thrown us together whether we liked it or not; and war had crushed our illusions into the mud. We slugged it out with the Jap in Hollandia. We killed and buried him wholesale on Biak. We fought for seventy-eight days straight on Leyte. We led the drive into Bataan and we caught hell at Zig-Zag Pass. Right after that we were alerted for the storming of Corregidor. To every one of us still alive Corregidor is not a spot of glory, but the echo of a nightmare in hell.


Jan Valtin,
Mindanao, Philippines, 1945.





"If the majesty and power of Our Empire be imperilled,
you must share with Us the sorrow. .."



From a Japanese Imperial Rescript
















Map 80
Recapture of Corregidor
16 - 28 February 1945












The invasion fleet heads towards Corregidor'.



We Storm Corregidor


When we hit Corregidor's Black Beach with the first wave, not much happened. Through a scattering of rifle fire we streaked across the chewed up sands and on up the rock-bound side of Malinta Hill, knocking off a handful of Japs on the way. We dug in on that hill and there were a lot of Japs and guns and dynamite in the tunnels beneath us. We had occupied the height that divides Corregidor in two like a buckle on the belt around the waist of a big-breasted woman, and we had not lost a single man. Captain Frank Centanni, commanding "K" Company, looked around.

"I'll be damned," he said.

Before two days had passed that captain of ours was dead and covered by enemy fire so that we could not even recover his body. The hill was full of howling Japs and battle noise that'll ring in my ears as long as I live. The tunnels below us turned into belching volcanoes and the limestone rocks dripped with American blood. A hundred and sixty-one of us moved in. Ninety-three came out. "K" stands for "King" Company, though when we got through we felt more like kindling wood than kings. [1]  

The "Rock" did not look good to us even on the map. We knew that we were heading for one of the toughest jobs in any war. We were going to have help, but it was one of those combinations that has to work perfectly, or end in disaster.


Compare this with the conventional Malinta Map



* A condensation of this chapter was published in Infantry Journal, August 1945.