"ON TO CORREGIDOR!"
R. B. Lewis
16 - 28
To those who might think
Corregidor was some sort of MacArthur revenge trinket, did not need to
be taken, and could have been bypassed,
this is the view from the con of LCI(L)-966 as
the Mariveles, Bataan, Luzon landing force comes under fire from Corregidor Island, 15 February 1945. Photo from the USS LCI National
Association's 2005 calendar, courtesy of Frank Slatinshek, Group
During WWII, the Army formed six Engineer Special
Brigades for the purpose of making amphibian landings.
The 1st, 5th and 6th ESB's served in
the North African, Sicily, Italian and European Campaigns, including the
Normandy Invasion. The 2nd, 3rd and 4th ESB's served in the Pacific
Campaigns, including New Guinea, New Britain, Philippine Islands.
The unit which participated in the Corregidor landing was
Company "F" of the 592d Engineer Boat and Shore Regiment, which was one of
the key component units of the Second Engineers Special Brigade.
It provided twenty-five LCM's.
ESB holds the unique distinction of having participated in more amphibious
operations than any other unit of the armed forces of the United States.
It never failed, in the words of its motto, to "Put Em Across."
unit's nickname, "Cape Cod Commandos", referred to the area where the
unit first trained.
The following is a Chapter extract from
History of the Second Engineers Special Brigade,
which describes the combat experiences of the 2ESB from one end of
the Southwest Pacific Area to the other. The extract takes up the story in
January 1945, just before the retaking of Manila.. The book, which is out of print,
appears on the 2d ESB Website in its entirety courtesy of Robert B. Lewis, and here by
"On to Corregidor!"
Just a little over a month after the successful invasion
of Mindoro, we were off again to make another assault - this time on the
shores of heavily-fortified Luzon Island. The primary objectives
of the Luzon Campaign were the recapture of Manila and Corregidor which
had fallen to the Japs on 2 January and 6 May 1942 respectively. The
gallant defense of Corregidor by American and Filipino troops under
Lieutenant General Jonathan Wainwright will never be forgotten.
When it fell, every American soldier, sailor, and marine no matter where
he was stationed firmly resolved that someday somehow the stars and
stripes would again fly over that island fortress to avenge the honored
living and dead who had struggled to their utmost to preserve that
symbol of freedom and liberty of the Filipino people.
"On to Corregidor!" became our battle cry. The road back
had not been an easy one, but now after two and a half years we were
standing on the threshold of the fulfillment of our resolution.
Luzon Island, with its bastions of Manila and Corregidor, was out next
Prior to our "official" entry into the Luzon Campaign,
troops of General Walter Kruger's Sixth Army were landed on the shores
of Lingayen Gulf. In a sense we also participated in that landing
because the eight barges of "Lt. Snell's Odyssey" as described in a
previous chapter were taken to that beachhead.
The 592d EBSR under the command of Colonel Allen L. Keyes
with two attached brigade units, Company A of the 262d Medical Battalion
and the 1460 Engineer Maintenance Company of the 562d Engineer Boat
Maintenance Battalion, represented the brigade in this campaign by
participating in fifteen separate amphibious landings on the shores of
Luzon. Vigan, a village on Luzon's northwest coast, was selected as the
first point of attack, but in the usual manner this operation was called
off just as the regiment had resigned itself to the hustle and bustle of
another move. Still in the usual fashion, another mission suddenly
appeared on the books. The amphibious attack would be made near
the barrio of La Paz just north of Subic Bay. After a
long-to-be-remembered mad week of hurry and scurry and backbreaking work
loading out most of the Task Force and then its tired self, the 592d
settled down on 25 January 1945 for a little shipboard rest as they
sailed from Leyte to Luzon.
The trip was quite uneventful, for the expected attacks
by Jap suicide planes and possibly submarines never materialized.
The weather was even in our favor. Time on shipboard was spent in
studying charts and air photographs of the beaches and in planning the
attack and later shore operations. However, there was still plenty of
time left to enjoy the good food, books, and card games.
The famous "Bloodless Landing" on the beaches
near the barrio of La Paz on the west coast of Luzon took Place on 29
January. At dawn the assault landing craft bad been launched from
the transports and troops were going over the sides of the big ships and
the cargo nets. The first wave hit the beach at 0830 and
it was with pleasant surprise that the men were greeted with Filipino
cheers and American flags instead of expected enemy fire. The men will
long remember the deep, coarse, loose sand on Red and Blue Beaches and
how the Shore Battalion cursed and groaned dozers into miraculous work
until the Navy's eyes popped at the unloading record set up by the 592d
in those two hectic days. At La Paz, Colonel Keyes and his Regimental
Headquarters were located in the school building in the barrio. The
Shore Battalion squatted along the beach, and the Boat Battalion set up
camp on the village green. The first look at Luzon was not too
discouraging but this stop turned out to be a short one.
three-day stay in La Paz found the job completed and their next
destination was established as "somewhere around Subic Bay." Major Frank
L. Mann was dispatched posthaste to choose and lay out the new camp and
Captain Seymour G. Lederer of New York City was sent out to reconnoiter
the roads and bridges that would be used by his overland convoy in
moving to the new area. On the first day of February, as the
floating stock of the regiment set out on the cruise to Subic Bay, the
Shore Battalion vehicles were formed into convoys and once more the 592d
was on the move.