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Corregidor 

The Treasure Island of WWII

Part 2

Post War Recovery Operations: 1945 - 1988

 

1999 Edward Michaud

 

After the end of the Pacific war in 1945, most of the remaining silver was recovered by the US Navy through elaborate diving and dredging techniques, but there were still over five million silver pesos unaccounted for. A small group of American divers attempted to work the site during the early 1960’s. Over two months of diving resulted in the recovery of about one-half million coins. Their original agreement with the Philippine Government allowed them to keep only about one-third of the haul, so recovery operations were suspended. The balance of these coins still remain at their original dumping locations inside San Jose Bay. (17)

After a great deal of research through Government Archives and interviews conducted with the participants of the various incidents described thus far, the Author was able to actually visit the scene of these activities on and off Corregidor Island in 1988. At the time of my visit the island appeared from the distance to be the typical island of tranquility with its lush jungle foliage. The attractiveness of its green carpets belied the terrible beauty of its war-torn history. In 1945 the island resembled the surface of the moon with shell-pitted scars from one end of the island to the other. According to the interviewed veterans who participated in the island’s wartime history, there wasn’t any living thing left on the "Rock" by the time it was all over and done with. Now, nature has reclaimed and covered the sins of man - At least most of them.

During my one-month stay I was able to view the many sights on the island that were normally off the standard tourist tracks. I also had the opportunity to explore the waters off both the North and South Docks. The bottom terrain in the water really tells the truth of what happened there so many years ago. Remnants of the "toys" of war, such as rusted machine-guns, ammunition, parts of wrecks, along with pieces of what used to be the docks themselves, litter the bottom. Occasionally, a silver peso or centavo would come to light after fanning away a few inches of sediment, along with personal momentos such as watches and trolley tokens. At one point I even came across two US Navy torpedoes lying side by side just off the Barrio San Jose Beach, (called Black Beach by some). Needless to say, I fanned the sand back over them and left the area rather quickly; at the same time trying not to have a stroke!

While on the island I was also able to query the local inhabitants about the various legends regarding the lost treasures. One must keep in mind that most of these inhabitants were not around when the events they describe supposedly took place. In general, the island of Corregidor itself no longer contains any large treasure-trove to search for. Research and personal inspection on my part has convinced at least myself of that. However, I note the following stories because there is at least a fabric of truth in all of them.

POST-WAR RECOVERY OPS 1945-88 | SPEEDY GONZALES  |   BATTERY MORRISON  | AH-MOON'S   |  THE ENGINEERING TUNNEL   |   GRAVE - GOLD   |   THE MARCOS CONNECTION   |   THE NORTH DOCK GOLD HOLE   |   THE FOURTH LATERAL   |   THE NORTH HARBOR SALVAGE BARGE   |    THE PRESIDENTIAL YACHT "CASIANO"   |   THE LORCHA DOCK   |  SILVER PESOS    |  NO MORE GOLD   |   CONCLUSION

CORREGIDOR - THE TREASURE ISLAND OF WWII    |    GOLD IS ALSO BALLAST    |    THE GOLDEN PATROL OF THE USS TROUT |  SALVAGING A SILVER TREASURE  | THE JAPANESE OVERSTRIKE

 

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