I can hardly wait to visit Corregidor again! Corregidor is one of the possible day tours planned for the ASDAL Conference in the Philippines. It is an historical site that we shared with visitors when we lived in Asia. The one thing that impressed me more than anything were the mile-long bombed out barracks! Something you will remember forever!
Image of Mile-Long Barracks in Ruins (Aerial photo)
So what is Corregidor? The story begins the day after Pearl Harbor, when, on December 8, 1941, the Japanese bombed the Philippines, destroying the US air force and navy in Southeast Asia. They concentrated their efforts on the Bataan peninsula, a piece of land that borders Manila Bay and protects the city of Manila. Corregidor Island sits 30 miles out at the entrance of Manila Bay. The combination of the Bataan peninsula, Corregidor Island and the defensive guns of Manila protected the bay and the nation beyond. After destroying the American air force and navy, the Japanese landed and overran the beachheads causing the US-Philippine army to retreat into their defensive positions in the hopes of holding off the Japanese for 6 months until relief could come from the US.
On December 24, President Quezon and General MacArthur moved the Philippine government and military HQ to Corregidor Island. While they directed the defensive retreat from afar, the Philippine-US armies fought to defend the Bataan peninsula. They withstood heavy air and artillery strikes for two months. On March 12, MacArthur left Corregidor bound for Australia. At his departure he spoke those famous words, “I shall return.”
By April 9, after 4 months of heavy assault, the US-Filipino forces surrendered Bataan.
The victorious Japanese army forced their American and Filipino prisoners of war to march 70 miles to remove them from the theater of action as they planned their final assault on Corregidor. Soldiers already weak from malnutrition, disease and exhaustion were forced to march in tropical heat with no water or food. Thousands died or were executed leading to the name, the Bataan Death March. After the surrender of Bataan, Corregidor received the full bombardment of the Japanese. The final surrender came on May 6, 1942, after 5 months of brave resistance.
The Bataan and Corregidor resistance engaged the Japanese for 5 months allowing the allies time to rebuild their forces in Australia and eventually take back Asia and win the war in the Orient.
Malinta Tunnel (View of the entry tunnel to the underground tunnel system where President Quezon, General MacArthur, and later General Wainwright, soldiers and hospital held out)
Visit Corregidor and stand on the beachhead where MacArthur spoke those monumental words, “I shall return!” Tour mile-long bombed out barracks and touch the shell-pocked walls of the gun instalments where men withstood months of heavy bombardment from hundreds of tons of bombs dropped by Japanese. Stand in the oppressive darkness of Malinta Tunnel where the President of the Philippines along with 4,000 soldiers, doctors, nurses, and the wounded withstood the onslaught of the Japanese for four months. Listen to the fearful tale of the Bataan Death March. Experience this historic trip of a lifetime.
Putting it into perspective:
Did you know that General Jonathan M. Wainwright was left in charge of Corregidor when General MacArther left and that it was General Wainwright who ultimately made the choice to surrender when it was apparent that there was no relief coming. Many allied troops survived because of his hard decision. For those of us at Walla Walla University, we know that General Wainwright was a native son of Walla Walla, Washington, since the Veteran's hospital here is named after him. Here is a newsclip of his heroic return to his hometown back in November of 1945: Walla Walla honors native son... And one more noteworthy tidbit...the father of a former employee here at Walla Walla University Library was on the Bataan Death March. Do you know anyone who was stationed at Corregidor or Bataan?
Want to learn more?
Top Photos by J. Melgosa.
- Photo 1: Statue of MacArthur on the shore at Corregidor where he spoke the famous words, "I shall return."
- Photo 2: Eric Melgosa inside one of the gun instalments...to see the size of one of the guns.
- Photo 3: Statue of Bataan Death March...Filipino and American soldier leaning on each other
Link to Mile-Long Barracks Ruins photo from ID: DNST8601667 Service Depicted: Other Service Aerial view of the ruins and a memorial to American defenders of the island during World War II. Camera Operator: PH1 DAVID C. MACLEAN Date Shot: 13 Jan 1982 Source: http://www.dodmedia.osd.mil/Asset
Link to Malinta Tunnel photo from: Makisig (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons, http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/cb/Malinta_Tunnel.jpg