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 - 6 -

The road to Battery Grubbs was closely paralleled by the railroad.  The distance from our position out to the road was about eighty yards. I placed my machine guns on the north side facing the road so that they could place enfilading fire down the road toward Battery Grubbs.  I had the two mortars zero in on the road and railroad, for the road was a direct approach to topside, so it was logical that an enemy attack toward topside would probably use this road.  We had looked down Grubbs Ravine from Battery Smith and knew there could be many enemy troops down there, though we never thought there might be many in the Smith magazine and tunnel.  Part of Way Hill was still wooded so that Bailey and his men could not see down into Maggot Valley; nor could they see us or we them.  It was for this reason I was given the two conventional mortars.  

There were no trees or vegetation anywhere around our position, with the exception of Cheney Ravine on the south.  About fifty yards south were some clumps of trees.  These helped conceal Belt Line Road as it ran along the upper reaches of Cheney Ravine. The road was also in a cut, and we did not know at the time that there was a road there.  The further down Cheney Ravine the heavier the forest became, so that soon after passing Belt Line Road the forest  was thick and offered complete concealment.  To us, in the late afternoon, it appeared dark and sinister, as it would indeed prove to be.

Our hill was a formidable position.  It was rectangular in shape, about eighty yards long (east-west), and forty yards across (north-south).  As previously stated three sides were very steep.  The west side was so steep that concrete stairs had been built to mount this face.  The north and south side could be climbed only with great difficulty.  In addition the south side had a huge crater in the slope which made climbing it impossible in the central area.  The east slope was a gentle slope down to the road running behind the battery and on to the railroad cut.  Obviously this was the vulnerable side.

I knew Jack Mara to be a very able officer.  He had briefly served as my assistant platoon leader when he joined our unit on Leyte.  Darkness was rapidly approaching.  I assigned the north side of the hill to Mara and told him to put the machine gun section and Staff Sergeant Charles McCurry's 1st squad in position on the north side of the hill to cover the road. Staff Sergeant Johnnie "Red Horse" Phillips put his mortars in position, laying them in on the primary target area, the intersection of the road with Belt Line Road, preparing to traverse along the road toward us. 

I did not know Lee and kept him with me to put the men in defensive positions on the east, south and west sides.  A large ventilator shaft with large openings on each side dominated the hill. Inside the shaft, steel rungs were set in the concrete to form a ladder to the floor of the magazine.  A huge crater was up against the east side of the shaft.  I put my headquarters here and assigned my radio operator and two runners to guard the shaft in case Japs came up the ladder during the night.  I had an extra runner, George Mikel.  Between 40 to 50 feet east of the large shaft, was a small ventilator with louvered sides. West of the large shaft, about fifteen feet, was another small ventilator shaft identical to the west shaft. At the southwest part of the hill was a concrete platform about four or five feet above the ground.  Concrete steps lead up to this floor, which obviously was the floor of a building.  I know now it was the BC Station (battery command). Underneath it was another vent shaft which I did not notice. 

John Lindgren and Don Abbott have been back to Corregidor since we were there, once in 1987 and again in 1989.  They went over this magazine hill thoroughly, especially in 1989 when they spent a month on the island. They found three more smaller vent shafts.  I might have seen more and forgotten them, but I remember the ones I mentioned very well, possibly because I have snap shots of the large vent and the two smaller vents.  The hilltop was covered with wreckage - heavy timbers, corrugated steel roofing and even at least one railroad rail.  The south side of the hill was badly scarred by one huge crater and several small ones.  This side of the hill fell away into Cheney Ravine.  The first trees began at the concealed Belt Line Road.

 I first put one rifle squad on the west side, one on the north side, two squads on the east, and one on the south side.  This was not right.  It was too easy.  The east side was the dangerous side, but with so few Japs why worry?  I asked Lee what was wrong with this defense. He said the weak place is the east side.  That did it. Even though it was now about dark we moved S/Sgt Leroy Jacob's 2nd squad from my platoon to the east side and stretched Johnson's 3rd squad out to cover the west and south sides.  Now the two 2nd platoon rifle squads and S/Sgt LeRoy Jacob's 2nd squad of my platoon were defending the east side.  This meant about twenty-four rifleman, including three BAR's were defending about forty yards.  The odd thing here is that in the darkness, haste and confusion, the 2nd squad lost their BAR, Richard Lampman.  Somehow, instead of Lampman, the 3rd squad's BAR, Benedict Schilli, ended up on the east line, so there were still three BAR's there.  Later that night we were to need every man we had back there.

Richard Lampman

"The BAR I spent the night with was on a cement base and the gun itself had to be elevated and rotated by hand.  The only reason I can come up with why I got left all by myself is the confusion that went on.  The only group near me that I recall was the machine gun - they weren't exactly close either.  I don't remember being fired at directly.  Now and then a shell would bounce off the old gun barrel. I always had my BAR set on what was supposed to be "Single Fire".  As good as I was I could never get off less than two or three rounds at a time.  Maybe the Japs thought it was a rifle.  I often wondered if anyone else that night was by themselves."

 

 /7

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