CLICK TO TURN BACK PAGE

                                         

NARRATION

 

THE ATTACK ON CORREGIDOR ISLAND

At 1240 hours with the element of surprise no longer existing, troops of the 2d Battalion 503d led by Major Lawson B. Caskey, Battalion Commander, began dropping on "A" and "B" fields over a murderous hail of enemy ground fire. Grazing enemy fire covered both drop zones and surrounding areas. The stunned Japanese, apparently partially recovered from the initial surprise shock, started to leave their holes and caves in a fanatical manner to shoot or bayonet the descending troopers. (42) As parachutist hit the ground with a thud, one was never sure whether he was going to be capable of walking away from the landing. Many of the radios that were fastened to the legs of the troopers for the descent were smashed beyond use. Thirsty and hot, many started to consume large quantities of water from their limited supply.

The counterattacking Japs started towards Topside from all directions. By 1500 hours, with the assistance of the 3d Battalion's fire power, the 2d Battalion swiftly effected the relief as planned and established the regimental perimeter around Topside. (See Map C) (43)

At 1600 hours Company F reported to battalion that it was receiving heavy machine gunfire from the vicinity of Wheeler Battery. At this point, Private Lloyd G. McCarter of F Company crossed thirty yards of open terrain under intense enemy fire, and at point-blank range silenced a machine gun with hand grenades. (See Map C) (44)

Out in front of Company F's perimeter, dangling in their suspended harness which had caught in trees, were those few unfortunate parachutist who will never know what it was like to make that final landing. Scattered troopers, who had drifted from the drop zones, could be observed fighting their way back to rejoin the perimeter. Due to the lateness of the day, Major Caskey, 2d Battalion Commander, ordered the attack on Wheeler Battery and JAMES RAVINE cancelled for the time being, and instead ordered positions to be consolidated for the evening. {45)

No logical conclusions could be arrived at as to how the Japanese defenders would attempt to destroy the invaders, or keep them from firmly establishing themselves on Topside. However, several captured prisoners revealed that CORREGIDOR was commanded by Captain Ijn Itagaki of the Japanese Navy. He had approximately 6,000 assorted troops to man its defense. (46) Later, captured staff personnel related how Captain Itagaki, after being informed of the approaching amphibious assault left his Command Post to go to an Observation Post near BREAKWATER POINT. There he ran into a group of paratroopers and in the ensuing skirmish the Japanese Commander was killed. (147) It was further learned that Captain Itagaki had been directed to look into the antiairborne defense of the island. He then announced to his subordinate commanders that an airborne landing would not take place because it could not take place. All these incidents added immeasurably to the confusion of the enemy. (48)

 

THE FIRST NIGHT AND SECOND DAY ON CORREGIDOR

At dusk the enemy could be heard and seen advancing toward Topside. Each and every trooper had heard of or experienced those well known night infiltration tactics of the Japanese. They also knew that the firing of weapons, unnecessarily, would bring on an attack in force.

About 2300 hours that evening the expected infiltration of the enemy started all through the battalion perimeter. The first firing on the infiltration took place in F Company's sector and was immediately answered with a volley of enemy grenades on attempts of penetration. The enemy mortar shells started to land on top of the buildings housing perimeter troops. The Nips were crawling all over the slopes not more

 

PAGES 15-18 ARE MISSING WE RESUME AT PAGE 19

(See Map D)

elements of the battalion medical detachment, and clerks and supply personnel. D Company with their Command Post near Wheeler Point, tied-in their left flank with the 1st Battalion 503d.  E Company located in the vicinity of JAMES RAVINE, tied-in their right flank with the 3d Battalion 503. (See Map E) (62)

Before dark automatic weapons were placed in sectors to cover the most likely avenues of approach into the perimeter. Mortars and artillery barrages were registered on those areas that were masked by slopes and cliffs. Commanding the high ground and being able to look doom in the direction of the enemy, there was no doubt that the perimeter could hold under any type of attack that the enemy would attempt. (63)

At 1800 hours that evening, Major Caskey and his staff started out on one of their many and frequent inspections of the company positions. The usual reports of enemy movement directly in front of the perimeter was received at all positions and as a result all personnel were alerted for an expected counterattack that night.

About 2300 hours that evening the Japs started, what was to be their first organized attack, in any force, by letting off a series of explosions in the underground positions in D Company's sector. (64)

Lieutenant Joseph A. Turinsky, D Company Commander, called battalion at about 0200 hours on 19 February and reported unusual activity below and in front of his position had been noted, and requested illumination flares to light the area. Upon the battalion commander's request, the naval supporting forces commenced to drop star shells in the area. (65) The light revealed a large body of Japanese moving in between D and F Companies and startled them into a fanatical attack. The star shells were requested to continue until ordered stopped. The Japs turned and started to attack D Company from the rear. The first report of contact with the enemy came from D Company's right flank. Then reports were received that penetrations were being attempted throughout the entire company sector. Immediately afterwards the attack materialized and communications, both wire and telephone between D Company and battalion ceased. It was suicide to attempt to reinforce D Company. Nips could now be seen moving everywhere. The artillery and mortar fires laid down did not seem to stop them. (See Map E) (66)

A report from F Company revealed minor attempts of penetration of their perimeter. During the conversation, heavy fire broke out on F Company's left flank. Private McCarter seeing a large force of Japs attempting to avoid F Company's fire, moved swiftly to an exposed position and in blocking their passageway drew their fire and forced the Japs to attack his position. Several men from Company F moved over to assist McCarter. The fanatical and superior force wounded McCarter and two other men. Out of ammunition, McCarter again drew the enemy fire as he exposed himself to get the much needed ammunition. Upon return he was wounded again but still continued to shout encouragement to all around him to carry on the fight. This continued until the break of dawn when the company Commander of F Company could reinforce McCarter's position. Though wounded and weak McCarter stayed on until the enemy ceased to attack. Over 30 enemy dead could be counted in front of the position. For this heroic deed Private Lloyd McCarter was later awarded the Medal of Honor. (67)

Just about the time F Company was penetrated the 2d Battalion Command Post was showered with enemy hand grenades. (68) The Nips were all over the place.

At the break of dawn the Navy ceased firing the star illuminating shells. Radio contact. came in from D Company, and the Executive Officer stated, "that the enemy attack was stopped, but not without a great deal of loss; there were many dead and wounded: and that reinforcements were needed immediately if they were to hold." He further requested additional first aid men and blood plasma. Major Caskey then told D Company to "hold at all cost". (69)

By 0630, a reinforced platoon, consisting of the battalion surgeon, engineers, mortarmen, and clerks, proceeded by a close pattern of supporting artillery fire, began to fight their way to D Company. (See Map E) By the time this relief had reached D Company, over 150 Japanese were counted laying dead along the trail. (70)

The counterattack had been stopped at approximately 1100 hours. He ordered D Company to secure its present position and prepare to move back to the 500 yard contour perimeter.

Though we had accounted for over 200 enemy killed, our casualties had been heavy. Captain Charles H. Bradford, the Battalion Surgeon, performed the almost impossible job of caring for the sick and wounded in the midst of heavy fighting and hand-to-hand skirmishes. There were between 15 and 20 stretcher cases to be evacuated to the aid station on Topside. Our casualties were ten killed and twenty wounded. Among the dead were the Commander of D Company, his radio operator, and messenger. (71)

Major Caskey, in remembering the Regimental Combat Team Commander's terse operation order of "Clear the damn Nips from your area," immediately ordered E Company to take JAMES RAVINE. It was 0900 that same morning, when E Company advanced into the ravine. Passing through three unoccupied machine gun positions, the leading element suddenly opened fire on a mob of Japs, streaming out of the entrance to the underground barracks located in the ravine. It was a slaughter. Sixty-five Nips were killed before they stopped coming. (72) Placing five gallon cans of Napalm and demolition charges into the ventilation shafts and tunnel entrance, a violent explosion was set off and fire ended all resistance in that area.

Patrols were dispatched to locate immediately an electrical mine control system which controlled all mines along the beaches and off-shore. At 1620 hours that afternoon the control system was found and destroyed. Fourteen Japs and one man from E Company were killed in the skirmish that occurred during the destruction. (73)

Late in the afternoon of 19 February, Major Caskey ordered all companies to move back to contour level 500. Weary and tired from the lack of sleep the gallant men who had held their own against overwhelming odds moved back to the positions that they had occupied two days before. (See Map E) (74) It was felt that the enemy had recovered from his initial surprise and the thin and expanded perimeter invited attack.

 

THE FIFTH, SIXTH AND SEVENTH DAY ON CORREGIDOR

The preceding night had been fairly quiet and early the next morning a systematic clean-up of our area was begun. The same pattern consisting of platoon and company sized patrols, supported by bazookas, flame throwers, demolitions, artillery, air and naval support, moved out from the battalion perimeter as far as each day would allow, and return to the perimeter before nightfall. The Japs, unable to organize, continued to fight in isolated groups. (75)

Because of the small area of the perimeter, it was possible to assemble the Company Commanders in the evening to plan and coordinate the following day's operation. (76)

As the patrols reached the beach areas, it was impossible to get at the enemy emplacements half way up the cliffs that rose to a height of several hundred feet. The cliffs were sheer and jagged and afforded the enemy excellent cover as well as concealment. At the base of the cliffs, the beach would extend fifty feet in certain areas, to impassable areas in others. One of the battalion officers would board the destroyers to point out enemy positions. The destroyers would move in and fire point blank into the emplacements. Each salvo would send hundreds of tons of rocks roaring into the waters below. (77)

At the end of the seventh day, strong and aggressive patrol action finally enabled all companies to reach the water's edge in their sectors. (See Map E)

From captured prisoners, S-2 learned between 175 and 200 Japs were holed-up in the vicinity of Searchlight and 'Wheeler Point, This force was the remains of the Endo Force that penetrated 2d Battalion's perimeter on the night of the 18th. (78)

At dawn of the 22d, Captain Lawrence S. Brown, S-3, led Captain Hudson C. Hill, E Company Commander and his reconnaissance group to a vantage point overlooking Wheeler Point. From there they observed the terrain and made plans for E Company's attack on the 23d.

 

THE LAST DAY OF ORGANIZED RESISTANCE FOR THE 2D BATTALION ON CORREGIDOR

Early on the 23d, E Company moved through C Company, 1st Battalion to clean out the last enemy strong hold at Wheeler and Searchlight Point. With a five minute softening of the objective by destroyers and an air strike by the air cover, E Company attacked and worked to a position around Searchlight Point reaching Wheeler Point with only five casualties and 59 enemy killed. (79)

As scheduled, the destroyers let loose with a salvo at 1255 hours that afternoon and pulverized the emplacements in Wheeler Point, followed by E Company's immediate attack. Screaming, charging, Japanese hurled themselves at the attackers. One Jap Officer, swinging his shining saber, mortally wounded one of E Company's men. Lieutenant Emory Ball, in rushing to the wounded man's assistance, caught a burst of machine gun fire in the chest and stomach. Staggering back toward the rear of the skirmish he fell in his blood stained tracks and died. (80)

E Company in a final effort killed the remaining Japanese and by 1600 hours announced Wheeler Point secured.

At 1700 hours on the 23d, the Regimental Combat Team Commander ordered the 2d Battalion to take over the perimeter of allof Topside, and by nightfall, Major Caskey, redisposed his battalion to cover the western half of the island. (See Map E) (81)

On 2d March 1945, the operation was officially closed when the Rock Force Commander, Colonel George M. Jones, presented fortress CORREGIDOR to the Commander-in-Chief, General Douglas MacArthur. (82)

To sum up the results of this battle:

This operation clearly showed that parachute troops could be used under the most adverse condition. Even though the disadvantages of the vertical envelopment outweighed the advantages in the preliminary planning stages, the. Japanese experience in 1942 had demonstrated that an amphibious assault on this island could be extremely costly. By landing on terrain of our own choosing, we could surprise and defeat the enemy before he was capable of reorganization. (83)

The enemy, by completely ruling out the possibility of an air-borne assault in his defensive plans, enabled the 503d to do in 18 days what he had taken 4 months to do. His losses of 4,493 killed, in comparison to our 209 killed during the same period, showed the high caliber of leadership, and aggressiveness that can be obtained from the American soldier by proper training and education. (84) CORREGIDOR is a shining example of perfect teamwork between air, land and naval forces. The re-taking of "The Rock" could not have been possible without the perfect coordination and planning of all three services.

By General Order Number 112, Headquarters US Army Forces in the Far East, dated 8 May 1945, the 5O3d Parachute Infantry Regimental Combat Team was cited for outstanding performance of duty in action on CORREGIDOR ISLAND and under the provisions of Section IV, War Department, Circular Number 333, 1943, awarded the Distinguished Unit Badge.

 

 

ANALYSIS AND CRITICISM

 

1. SUPPLY AND EVACUATION

Re-supply on CORREGIDOR was of no problem to this regiment. Air superiority allowed complete freedom of movement by the re-supplying aircraft in sufficient quantities. The dropping of the attacking forces on top of their objective allowed the over-loading of the individual soldier with sufficient food, ammunition and water for the first few days of combat without hindering his combat efficiency. However, the immediate treatment of the wounded and the care of the sick and injured could have been expedited by the dropping of additional surgeons and medical personnel in the initial parachute drop. As it was, the organic medical units were over-taxed and unable to properly care for the casualties sustained in the first few days of the operation. The Portable Surgical Unit was not able to reach Topside until the 18th February, and the immediate evacuation of the dead and wounded did not hinder the flow of these needed medical supplies and equipment forward.

 

2. THE OBJECTIVE

The mission assigned this regiment in the re-taking of CORREGIDOR was the perfect example of the type mission conceived by the founders of American airborne warfare. The early concepts of airborne warfare were to drop in the heart of the enemy after a preliminary bombing by air arms, expand and destroy the interior arrangements of the enemy's defensive positions and force a union and effect contact with advancing ground forces. The element of surprise was completely demonstrated by the fact that the enemy could never reorganize his forces sufficiently to make the necessary counterattacks in any size. By immediate and aggressive expansion, the troopers were able to seize the necessary key terrain without any major resistance. The bold exploitation and advancement by the 2d Battalion forced the large number of enemy in their sector to go underground and seek security in the tunnels below.

 

3. COMMUNICATIONS

Where hard landings are anticipated, additional radios should be allotted to company sized units. In many cases, the 536 radio carried on the individual jumpers were damaged beyond use during the parachute landing, thus leaving certain elements without communication. The only communication left between the platoon leaders and company commander is messenger, and unnecessary movement in and around the drop zones tend to add confusion to the already fast moving situation.

 

4. ENEMY POSITIONS

The Japanese Commander was guilty of a great error in announcing to his subordinate commanders that an airborne landing could not take place. This seafaring naval officer could only envision mass amphibious landings and accordingly failed to extend his defense in depth to the natural defensive terrain. Had he occupied Topside, the airborne and amphibious assaults might not have been as successful. As it was, the enemy was forced to leave the natural defensive position and attempt fanatical disorganized attacks to regain control of the high ground.

 

5. THE 2D BATTALION'S CLEARING OF THEIR ASSIGNED SECTOR

The successful cleaning of the southwestern sector of Topside was made possible only by the aggressive and courageous spirit of the attacking forces. In digging out the "gopherlike" Japanese, they were forced to burn and route him from the hundreds of caves and tunnels dotting their sector. The systematic method of attacking the enemy with daily patrols from a strongly established perimeter, proved very effective. Counterattacks against this close perimeter had practically ceased, and it further allowed the maximum utilization of forces at all times.

 

 

LESSONS

1. Simplicity of a plan will lead to a more aggressive execution of that attack plan.

2. Additional medical personnel should be attached to airborne units where temporary isolation from regular medical support is expected.

3. Inflexibility and refusal to deviate from sound practical principles have no part in an airborne commander's plans.

4. During the assault on fortified positions, infantry troops must be taught to continue their advance without wasting too much effort in demolishing enemy positions.

5. The post of a defending commander during an airborne assault should be at his command post. He must depend upon his outpost and warning stations for information.

6. Once the element of surprise has been gained, a vigorous and aggressive exploitation of this advantage must be continued.

7. Parachutist should be taught to conserve their water supply after a parachute jump.

8. Parachutist can be used successfully to assist in amphibious landings.

9. Perfect coordination can be achieved through proper planning and training.

10. Adequate communication facilities are essential to achieve unity of effort and command.

 


The Author was seriously wounded  during the fighting on Corregidor.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ed Flash had been a cobber of mine since we had arrived in Australia.  I had been assigned as platoon leader of 1st Platoon, and Ed had been leader of 2d Platoon.  As platoon leaders, it was necessary to work together closely, and with Ed that had always been a pleasure.  After Ed sustained what looked like a minor  wound, he walked back to the company CP, where he showed me  a small entry and exit hole about two inches superior to  his elbow. He stuck his hand out an told me "Look, I can make a fist, but I can't spread my fingers out." The company medic walked off with him headed for our battalion aid station over at the 59th CA barracks, where "Doc" Bradford was getting Sleepy Miller (1st Lt., our mortar platoon leader) ready to move. Miller had caught a MG burst in the upper part of his right thigh. I asked "Doc" before he headed back to the aid station, how long would Ed be gone. His answer stunned me. He said, "Ed won't be back. That bullet severed his radial nerve, He will have to undergo a series of operations to graft the nerve back together. It'll take about a year. "  My buddy was gone.

"Doc" was right too - Ed did spend almost a year in a general hospital.

William T. Calhoun

 

 

 

 

         

OUR WEBSITES

AUTHORS

FEATURES

STAND IN THE DOOR!

FOLLOW

Corregidor Then and Now

Don Abbott

The Lost Road

Battlebook - Corregidor

Bulletin Board / Feedback Forum

503d PRCT Heritage Bn.

Gerry Riseley

Combat Over Corregidor

Japanese Unit & Troop Strength

503d WWII Honor Roll

Rock Force

William T. Calhoun

Amid th' Encircling Gloom

Ft. Benning Monographs

Taps

Coast Artillery Manila & Subic Bays

John Lindgren

The Rock Patch

503d PIR as a Case Study

Rock Force Honor Roll

4th Marines on Corregidor

George M. Jones

By Order of Maj. Kline

Engineers' Report - Corregidor

Site & Navigation Info

Bless 'Em All

James P. Lowe

 

 

 

503d PRCT Assn Official Website

Robert W. Armstrong

REFERENCES

FILM CLIPS

503D HERITAGE

Concrete Battleship

Verne White

1936 Corregidor Map

503d Jump at Nadzab

by Article Title

Battle of Manila

Jim Mullaney

2/503 Vietnam Newsletter

Cleaning Up Corregidor

by Author Name

Fall of the Philippines

(more)

1945 Jump Map

Interview - Clevenger

by List of Recent Articles 

 

 GO TO CONTENTS

The 503d PRCT Heritage Battalion is the Official Website of the 503d Parachute RCT Association of WWII Inc. Join with us and share the 503d Heritage and values.

So that the last man standing shall not stand alone.

 

 

Copyright , 1999-2013 - All Rights Reserved to The Corregidor Historic Society, 503d PRCT Heritage Bn. & Rock Force.Org
Last Updated: 20-09-13

 

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY
 

A-1

 

Luzon-Campaign, United States Sixth Army

(9 January. 1945-20 Tune 1945) Volume 1

(TIS Library).

A-2

 

Biennial Report of General George C. Marshall

(1 July 1943 - 30 June 1945)

(TIS Library)

A-3

 

U.S.A.F.F.E. Board Report Number 208 (16 May 1945) (TIS Library)

A-4

 

Historical Report, Corregidor Island Operation

(Operation Number 48 )

(Personal possession of author)

A-5

 

Corregidor of Eternal Memory

The Combat History Division, Headquarters, AFWESPAC

(Personal possession of author)

A-6

 

"The Corregidor Operation"

Lieutenant Colonel Edward L. Jenkins, C&GSS

Military Review, April 1946

(TIS Library)

A-7

 

Airborne Warfare

Major General James M. Gavin

(TIS Library)_

A-8

 

Combat'Notes, Number 8, (June 1945)

US Sixth Army

(TIS Library)

A-9

 

Field Order Number 9, 503D Parachute Infantry Regimental Combat Team (TIS Library)

A-10

 

Medal of Honor Book, 1948

(TIS Library)

A-11

 

History, Company E 2d Battalion, 503d Parachute Regiment

(1 February - 9 March 1945)

(Personal possession of 1st Sergeant A. E. Vance, former 1st Sergeant, Company E)

A-12

 

General Order Number 9, Headquarters XI Corps (7 March 1945) (Personal possession of author)

 

CARTOGRAPHY
 

MAP A   Operations in Philippines from 10 November 1944-11 February 1945
MAP B   Manila Bay Area
MAP C   Terrain Map of Corregidor Island
MAP D   Corregidor Operations 16-18 February 1945
MAP E   Corregidor Operations 18-23 February 1945

 

FOOTNOTES
 

(43)

 

Personal knowledge

(44)

 

A-10, p. 364

(45)

 

Personal knowledge

(46) 

 

A-7, p. 129

(47)

 

A-3, p.   9

(48)

 

A-7, P. 129

(62)

 

A-3, overlay number 12

(63)

 

Personal knowledge; statement of Major Caskey, 5 November 1949

(64)

 

Personal knowledge

(65) 

 

Personal knowledge; statement of Captain Lawrence S. Browne, S-3, 2d Battalion, 15 June 1949

(66)

 

Personal knowledge; statement of Captain Lawrence S. Browne, S-3, 2d Battalion, 15 June 1949

(67)

 

A-10, p. 364

(68)

 

Personal knowledge; statement of Major Lawson B. Caskey, 2d Battalion Commander, 5 November 1949

(69)

 

Personal knowledge; statement of Major Lawson B. Caskey, 2d Battalion Commander, 5 November 1949

(70)

 

Personal knowledge; statement of Major Lawson B. Caskey, 2d Battalion Commander, 5 November 1949

(71)

 

A-12, p. 2

(72) 

 

A-11, p. 20-21

(73)

 

A-3, p. 21

(74)

 

Personal knowledge

(75)

 

Personal knowledge

(76)

 

Personal knowledge;

(77)

 

Personal knowledge

(78)

 

Personal knowledge and statement of Captain Lawrence S. Browne, S-3, 2d Battalion, 5 June 1949

(79)

 

Personal knowledge and statement of Captain Hudson C. Hill, E Company Commander, 8 July 1946

(80)

 

Personal knowledge of Hudson C. Hill, Captain, E Company, Commander, 8 July 1946

(81)

 

A-8, p. 16

(82)

 

A-4, p. 4

(83)

 

A-1, p. 50

                    (84)

 

A-1, p. 55