5 JUNE 2011
||RJ-43 ON TAILSIDE
“To construct the 8-inch Gun Battery, work included the installation of a
gun carriage and gun on a permanent concrete base at RJ-43 at Fort Mills,
Corregidor, during February and March of 1942. This gun was proof fired and
met the required stability tests”. (The Moore Report Engineer Annex)
“While not part of the permanent Harbor Defenses of Manila Bay, one 8-inch
M1888MIII gun on an M1918 barbette carriage was dismounted from its railway
car and emplaced on a simple concrete gun block just east of the entrance to
the Malinta Tunnel. The gun was destroyed by Japanese bombing after firing a
few proof rounds. This was known as Battery RJ-43, for its location near
road junction 43”. (American Defenses of Corregidor and Manila Bay 1898 to
The 8-inch barrel of Battery RJ-43 now sits on display at the North Dock.
Another view of the 8-inch barrel.
Finally, after more attempts than I choose to remember, I found the meager
remnants of this battery. Some incorrect information in the past slowed
things down a bit but thanks to batteryboy, I was now able to start a
detailed search in the immediate area of the battery. This area is not
large. I could never understand in the past why I couldn’t see the bolts
sticking up anywhere.
I picked the end of the dry season when almost all surface grass was dead
along the top of that ridge. Visibility was great so it was find it now or
wait for another year. Only the heat and thorns required a bit of effort.
I had been told to expect a concrete platform and a ring of bolts on which
the big Army 8-inch railroad gun had been mounted. Nothing else was to be
seen. As it turned out, nothing was to be seen period!!! Everything
including the 100 or so bolts is completely buried in the soil and leaves.
There were a few shallow craters or defensive positions around the search
location. At the bottom of one of them, I was kicked the soil while deciding
where to look next. Surprise, my foot slid across something hard. It turned
out to be concrete but this could have been from any old structure. A couple
minutes later I uncovered the first bolts so I was sure I had finally
stumbled onto Battery RJ-43.
Due to the hard soil I only uncovered 10 or 11 bolts however that was enough
to see their circular pattern. All bolts (cut off 1 ½ inches above the
concrete) are covered with nearly three to eight inches of soil. Even the
center of the concrete pad is buried at least two inches. Tree roots are
starting to grow over part of the gun mount which over time will only make
The first sight of concrete.
I cleared away enough soil and rocks to make some of the bolts visible.
You can see they are part of a larger circle of bolts.
Close-up of a few bolts.
A wider view of the gun block where the least amount of soil covers it.
I have never read of any structures or magazine being built to support this
battery. One exception may be the RJ-43 Tunnel, also called the Daniel D.
Howell Tunnel after the man who rediscovered it in 1996. Here is a link to
discussions that took place in the past regarding this tunnel:http://corregidor.org/x-info/tunnl.htm
The battery itself was named after the nearest road junction which was
RJ-43. The tunnel actually passes directly under this road junction so at
least the tunnel is well named. What is a bit curious though is how this
tunnel may or may not have been associated with the battery.
Here are a few GPS measured distances: Gun block to the center of RJ-43 =
95m (312 ft), center of RJ-43 to the tunnel entrance = 53m (174 ft)
If they desired to have a tunnel for the battery, why not construct it just
north of the gun position in the same sloped hillside as the other tunnel
further west? It would be much closer (30m or 98 ft from the gun block).
Putting a tunnel in the hillside to the south would be even closer.
Imagine being shelled or during an air raid and your shelter is 148m (486ft)
away. The route between the two points is fully exposed to Bataan plus there
is a significant slope down to the tunnel entrance. I can’t imagine storing
heavy 8-inch shells and powder that far away either. One thing we do not
know is who built the RJ-43 Tunnel and for what purpose.
The partially sealed RJ-43 Tunnel entrance.
Looking back out the entrance.
View inside the tunnel.
A short lateral is to the right.
The last time I was in this tunnel was January, this thing was lying on one
of the old wooden trolley ties. It was about 10 feet long and did not do my
heart rate any good.
I don’t know what the correct name of it is but I don’t discriminate.
I hate them all.
At the end of the tunnel is a 60 foot long air shaft up to the surface.
View of the air shaft on the surface.
The gun mount for Battery RJ-43 has been on my “to find” list for so long it
has worn a hole in the paper. There is no way in hell I would have found
something you can’t see without specific directions. I owe batteryboy a cold
beer or three. Salamat po.