John Lindgren


At about noon on February 16, 1945 the 2d Battalion, 503d Parachute Infantry jumped on Corregidor’s golf course and parade ground. Once on the ground the 2d relieved the 3d Battalion,  that had jumped earlier that morning. The 3d went on with the mission to widen the perimeter to the east and link up with the 3d Battalion, 34th infantry on Malinta Hill at Bottomside. Company D remained in a defensive position at jump field B [the golf course] overnight.

 The next day the battalion began clearing the northwest part of Corregidor from James Ravine to Battery Wheeler. This task would occupy the battalion until they left the inhospitable island. The three rifle companies had quickly overrun the northwest corner of Topside and then turned their attention to the area below the sheer western bluffs, some of them rising 500 feet very nearly vertical from the rocky beaches.

Nearly 300 feet below Battery Wheeler's end station at Wheeler Point a 155 battery position, Battery Monja, had been tunneled in the face of the cliff. The 2d Battalion commander, Lawson Caskey, ordered E Company to patrol north from Searchlight Point to Wheeler Point, a straight-line distance of some 600 yards. The patrol would start out in the morning of February 23d. The 1st Battalion had been in this area for several days meeting considerable resistance believed to be centered at Wheeler point and Battery Monja.

On 21 February the cliffs in the Wheeler Point area between Topside's high ground and some 500 feet below it on the rocky shore, had been reported cleared of all "but a few stragglers" after "a combined naval and ground strike.[1]  The journal was incorrect since in fact C Company, 1st Battalion,   “unable to move due to heavy fire coming from the cliff face north of them, had never advanced beyond Searchlight Point.”

 Movement below Topside, on the face of the bluff was restricted for all practical purposes, to the South Shore Road and, to a very limited extent, along the beach. The road cut into the steep face of the bluff about 150 feet above the narrow rocky beach, had been built to serve Battery Monja, the searchlights and beach fortifications on the rugged cliffs.  In the company's zone of action it wound be between Searchlight and Wheeler Points ending a few yards west of Battery Monja's casemated gun.

E Company relieved C Company [1st Battalion] in the morning of February 23d at their positions above Searchlight Point. E Company began their advance north toward Wheeler Point with the 2d platoon moving on the road while the 3d platoon moved along the shoreline. As the company continued north they neared Battery Monja's two entrances close to the road. Suddenly shots exploded to the front. The company's lead riflemen immediately fired into the tunnel entrances on the road but were unable to advance in face of heavy fire- coming from Battery Monja and other positions on Wheeler Point. During the skirmish, three E Company riflemen were killed and another would die of his wounds. At about 4:15 in the afternoon ;the company withdrew along the South Shore Road. The company had killed "between one hundred and one hundred and twenty Japs". [2] The Japanese that E Company had encountered at Wheeler Point, would fire on D Company from these heights the next day.

By the 23d, the enemy had been pushed off the high ground at the western end of Topside and had little choice but to move to areas below Topside.  Itabuchi, the Japanese naval commander of Manila had ordered the 6800-man force, mainly naval ratings, he had sent to Corregidor shortly before February 16th to fight to the death.  [3] The Corregidor garrison, scattered by the parachute drop was systematically bring slaughtered piecemeal. Aside from one notable exception, the night of February 18/19’s battalion strength attack on Wheeler point, they had not managed to mount a single organized effort of any significant size to strike back at their tormentors.

A stand at Battery Monja on Wheeler Point was probably the best the enemy could hope for at this stage, if they were to continue to fight. If this is indeed true, they couldn't have chosen a better position from which to make a stand than at Battery Monja. In the end its handful of survivors was all that was left of the sizeable garrison of nearly 7000 troops on Corregidor in January 1945. [4]

Why the enemy chose to defend at Wheeler Point is not hard to imagine, the position was well nigh impregnable. It was impossible to bring machine gun, artillery or mortar fire down on it from topside. Naval guns firing directly in the cliff from the North Channel never managed to hit the reinforced concrete structure, much less silence it, even after several hundred round were fired at Wheeler Point on four successive days. [5] The only possible approach to it on the ground was from the south. Trying to reach Battery Monja from the North was impossible.

Why all this preoccupation with a relatively minor 155mm gun battery? Although probably no one knew it at the time, the casemated battery with its tunnels and buried magazines was at the center of the resistance of Wheeler Point. The 503d had ordered three separate assaults on wheeler Point. C, D and E Companies each had attacked, and each had failed. After D Company's attempt on February 24 came to nothing, the 503d never returned there.  [6] After the 2d Battalion, 151st Infantry relieved the 503d in March 1945, it mounted an amphibious assault on Wheeler point but was forced to turn back before the troops could unload [7] from the landing craft. Battery Monja's garrison remained in theirCLICK TO TURN PAGE beleaguered fortress, within a fortress, until the bitter end, [and then some] when they gave it up on New Year's Day 1946 [8].



[1] HQ Rock Force, S3 Periodic Report #6,  21 February 1945. The report further states "NAVAL: Supporting gunfire in the ROCK POINT and WHEELER POINT areas were very effec­tive in stunning the enemy, rendering them relatively helpless temporarily." Rather strong language and not entirely correct. [Calhoun's note: the succinct language of a soldier would be "Staff BS!”]. C Company advancing on Wheeler Point is stopped at Searchlight Point by fire from the north [ie Wheeler Point and Battery Monja]. Very quickly three men were killed. The company halted while the area in front of them was shelled by warships. The company however did not advance but rather remained at Searchlight Point and never went beyond it at any time.

HQ Rock Force and HQ 503d RCT were one and the same. Rock Force was a name used to describe all US forces on the island. The only other unit of any size not in the 503d Regimental Combat Team was the 3d battalion, 34th Infantry; all other units were small specialized detachments. No one used the Rock Force title except perhaps on messages outside the unit. [Hereafter HQ 503d Periodic Report]

 [2] The Operations of Company "E", 503d Parachute Regiment at Wheeler Point, Island of Corregidor, Philippine Island 23 February 1945 (Luzon Campaign)  (Personal Exper­iences of a Company commander) by Captain Hudson C. Hill, Infantry. an unpublished manuscript written by Hill while a student at The Infantry School's Advanced Infantry Officers Course #1, 1947-1948.  [Hereafter Hill]*

 [3] Letter John Mara April 1990.

 [4] Letter K. Ishikawa September 1947 to JIL. Ishikawa is one of the 20 men who surrendered New Year's Day 1945. He is fluent in English.  It was he who found the newspaper, written in English, proclaiming the end of the war. He says there were 6,850 Japanese troops on the island February 1945.

 [5] HQ 503d Periodic Report #’s 5 6,7,8, and 9.

 [6] Not quite never! In a manner of speaking, the 503d did finally reach Battery Monja, although it was some 44 years later when I landed, unopposed in my banca on the boulder strewn beach where the 151st's alligators had turned back under heavy fire. I slowly crawled 150 grueling feet up the steep wooded - slopes from the bottom of the cliff to Battery Monja. I wriggled through the partially blocked casemate, the only entrance still open into the battery's empty tunnel and vaults. Countless tons of earth and rocks had, over time, broken off the sheer cliffs and tumbled into the two other openings, whence heavy fire aimed at E Company had come, completely closing them.

 [7] The 2d Battalion, 151st Infantry relieved the 3d Battalion, 34th Infantry on 25 February and took over responsibility for the entire island when the 503d left 8 March 1945. An amphibious assault by the 151st Infantry at Wheeler Point is described in an article by Lieutenant Perry R. McMahon appearing in the Coast Artillery Journal July/ August 1945, "Retaking the Harbor Defenses on Manila and Subic". "A destroyer was called in to fire point blank in the caves, and two alligators with 20mm cannons went in close. The Japs opened up with mortars and machine guns and the alligators were caught in the crossfire.  “We had to get out,”said the officer in charge, 'but we got off several rounds of WP and bazooka fire.'" The Japanese weren't ready to give up their fortress that day.

[8] Belote, James and William Corregidor, the Saga of a Fortress, [New York; Harper and Row 1967, pp. 260 and 261 [note: page numbers refer to Jove paperback reprint and may not apply to the hardcover edition]. It wasn't until New Year's Day 1946, that the Japanese garrison at battery Monja decided to give  Battery Monja up. Company G, 342d Infantry, a Quartermaster Graves Registration detachment and an Explosive Ordnance Disposal unit were the only units present on the island on the momentous occasion. The Belote's describe the events that day.  "On new Year's Day of 1946 Sergeant James 'Moon' Mullins was astonished to see a formation of twenty Japanese, headed by an Army junior officer, marching toward him waving surrender flags. Bow­ing, the officer presented a document in excellent English, proffering their capitu­lation. [They] had not learned of Japan's surrender until one of the men found an old newspaper."

 * Note by Calhoun: Most of the 503d officer who remained in the Army attended the Infantry school's Advanced Infantry Officers course. Captain Laurence Browne changed branches to Armor, but I believe he attended the Advanced Armor Course. One of the assignments to the students was to write a monograph. Most of the officers who participated in the Corregidor campaign wrote their monograph on the subject of this campaign. The experience's of Hudson Hill related in Lieutenant General EN. Flanagan, Jr.'s book "Corregidor, The Rock Force Assault" are taken from Hill's monograph. One fact should be brought to the attention of the reader concerning the use of monographs as historical documents. After I learned of these Corregidor monographs, I set out to collect all of them that I possibly could, and I was quite successful; however, one of the monograph writers who attended the Advanced Infantry Course, Ed Flash, gave me the following admonition in a letter written August 8, 1988:

"On monographs Bill- I don't think you will get much of the small unit tactical Corregidor operations. If I recall correctly, our monograph guide lines were to pick and stick more or less along doctrinal mission objectives, Big picture stuff - lessons learned and how to improve future operations. When I attended the Advanced Course ('49-‘50) the Course included up through Army level. In '50 I was often in position of Army Commander committing my divisions to battle. After graduating I found it difficult to accept assignments below division level, Ha-Ha. Didn't enjoy the challenge at battalion, regimental level! In parades and ceremonies I use to order division commanders to "Fall In Your Division!!!, Ha-Ha".

Monographs, periodic reports, etc., what's the difference? Both say what they want the reader to believe and not necessarily what happened. All Benning alumni know the proper answer is the school solution; but  just as well known is the ode to Lieutenant Jones "who died the night he tried using the school solution...."  Calhoun.