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Btty Way (1974)

Set in a picturesque grove and surrounded by trees on three sides, Battery Way comprises four 12-inch [305mm] Mortars.  Named after Lt. Henry N. Way of the 4th US Artillery, who was, in 1900  a  casualty of the 1899 US-Philippine war, these 12-inch mortars are of the M1890 type and are mounted on M1896 Mortar Carriages. They could lob a 1,000 lb deck piercing shell or a 700 lb high explosive shell 8.3 miles (13.35 km) in any direction.  The battery's  construction was commenced in 1904 and completed 1914 at a cost of $112,969. It was not utilized until the latter part of the siege, at which time it took a critical part in the invasion.

The vertical plunging trajectory of these mortars was originally intended to be used for deck piercing purposes, but it was soon realised that the nature of the vertical trajectory made them ideal against enemy entrenchments on the higher ground in Bataan.  Maximum rate of fire was one round each 45 seconds, though this was for crews at the peak of physical perfection, and a one round per minute rate was generally seen as normal. The normal tactic was to load and lay two mortars at a time, and then to fire them as a salvo, giving them a 'shotgun' effect.   Each mortar required a fourteen man crew.

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Btty. Way in 1945

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Btty. Way in 1999

When fired pre-war, the Mortars shattered medical glassware in the hospital nearby, so the Battery was not practiced-fired during peacetime.  The battery was occupied on 17 April 1942 when Btty "E" of the the 60th Coastal Artillery under the command of Major William Massello took over.  Battery "Erie" had originally operated an anti-aircraft searchlight and radar unit on Bataan, and had been unassigned when evacuated to Corregidor, at which time Massello suggested that they train on the mortars. When placed into action the Japanese were caught entirely by surprise, for they had not registered the mortars in their extensive observations of the Rock's defenses.  The mortars became so effective, the Japanese gunners gave them almost instantaneous attention each time they came back into action. The crews, made up from volunteers given minimal training, suffered up to 75% casualties. Massello himself was badly wounded, almost losing an arm. He continued to command the battery from his stretcher,  until the last mortar became too hot to use. After a break to cool it down, its was found to have become frozen solid

Massello survived the war and was a welcome sight to many of the defenders at their re-unions.

Of the four mortars, No. 1 (bottom left) was unserviceable, but 2, 3 and 4 (counting is done  from the far right of a Battery, then to each row behind the front line)  were all proof fired by 20 April 1942.  On May 2, Numbers 3 and 4 were put out of action by direct hits on their barrels, leaving only No. 2 serviceable. After midnight on May 6, No. 4 went into action against the Japanese landing craft in the North Channel, and between 0400 and 0600 hrs, Way, together with the three 155mm guns still in action on Corregidor, and the four 14-inch guns on Fort Drum, they dispersed the attempted Japanese landing at North Dock. Way continued to fire all through the morning despite a number of shells falling into the pit,  which severely wounded Massello and gave his crews an unenviable 70% casualty rate. At 1100 hrs, Number 4's breach block, warped by the tremendous heat of continuous firing, finally froze. Number 4 was the last concrete emplacement gun to fire,  and within an hour of it's demise, surrender occurred at 1200hrs.

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Btty. Way in 1998

By 1998, the magnificent pieces, with their patina of age and rust, had been painted, another casualty of the clean-up for President Clinton's visit.  Sometimes it's difficult to assess whether things are any better for having been restored. 

Dan Rowbottom of Coastal Defense Study Group and Site O, using drawings from CDSG materials and photos from a number of sources, including this page, has built a museum model of Battery Way. Visit Dan Rowbottom's Battery Way Page



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