Battery Hearn



Pre-Invasion photograph: Middleside Barracks, Hospital, Btty. Way,  Mile Long Barracks, NCO Married Qtrs., Cine, Officers Row, Post HQ., Btty. Wheeler (far right) Light House, Water Towers, Senior Officers Row, Golf Course, Btty Geary, Btty. Crockett.



Landing Field B; Officers Swimming Pool;C-47,  stick of 7;



Landing Zone A; Mile Long Barracks; Cine; Post HQ,  Senior Officers Residences; C-47 Parachute Drop; Landing craft; 532nd Engineer Boat & Shore Regiment; USN; Destroyers; cruiser.



 Landing Zone B; Lighthouse; Water Tanks;C-47 Parachute Drop; stick of 7.



Ciné; BOQ;Post HQ;  Lighthouse; Senior Officer's Row; Landing Zone B; Btry Crockett;

The prospective cost of amphibious assault was, indeed, one of the chief factors that led to a decision to use paratroopers. Planners saw the obvious risks in sending parachute troops against such a small and rough target, but in view of the GHQ SWPA estimate that the Japanese garrison numbered only 850 men, the cost of the airborne operation promised to be less than that involved in an amphibious attack. Krueger intended to land almost 3,000 troops on Corregidor on 16 February, over 2,000 of them by parachute. Another 1,000 men or more would come in by parachute or landing craft the next day. Planners hoped that such preponderant strength, combined with intensive air and naval bombardment, might render the seizure of the island nearly bloodless.

An equally important (if not even more decisive) factor leading to the decision to employ paratroops was the desire to achieve surprise. GHQ SWPA and Sixth Army planners hoped that the Japanese on Corregidor would judge that no one in his right mind would even consider dropping a regiment of parachutists on such a target. The defenses, the planners thought, would probably be oriented entirely toward amphibious attack.

There was only one really suitable dropping ground on Corregidor, a prewar landing strip, known as Kindley Field, on the central part of the tail. This area was quite small and, not having been utilized by the Japanese, badly overgrown. Nevertheless, Col. George M. Jones, commanding the 503d RCT, recommended that Kindley Field be used as the drop ground after he had made a personal aerial reconnaissance over the island.6 General Krueger overruled the proposal quickly. A drop at Kindley Field, he thought, would not place the 'troopers on the key terrain feature quickly enough, and, worse, the men landing on the airstrip would be subjected to the same plunging fire that troops making an amphibious assault would have to face.

The only other possible locations for dropping paratroopers were a parade ground and a golf course on Topside, which was otherwise nearly covered by the ruins of prewar barracks, officers' homes, headquarters buildings, gun positions, and other artillery installations. The parade ground provided a drop zone--that is, an area not dotted with damaged buildings and other obstacles--325 yards long and 250 yards wide; the sloping golf course landing area was roughly 350 yards long and 185 yards wide. Both were surrounded by tangled undergrowth that had sprung up since 1942, by trees shattered during air and naval bombardments, and by wrecked buildings, while the open areas were pockmarked by bomb and shell craters and littered with debris as well. Both fell off sharply at the edges and, on the west and south, gave way to steep cliffs. Despite these disadvantages, planners selected the parade ground and the golf course as the sites for the 503d's drop. The planners based this decision largely upon the thought that if the Japanese considered the possibility of a parachute invasion at all, they certainly would not expect a drop on Topside.7

In formulating final plans for the drop, planners had to correlate factors of wind direction and velocity, the speed and flight direction of the C-47 aircraft from which the 503d RCT would jump, the optimum height for the planes during the drop, the time the paratroopers would take to reach the ground, the 'troopers' drift during their descent, and the best flight formation for the C-47's. Planners expected an easterly wind of fifteen to twenty-five miles per hour with gusts of higher velocity. The direction corresponded roughly to the long axes of the drop zones, but even so, each C-47 could not be over the dropping grounds for more than six seconds. With each man taking a half second to get out of the plane and another twenty-five seconds to reach the ground from the planned drop altitude of 400 feet, the wind would cause each paratrooper to drift about 250 feet westward during his descent. This amount of drift would leave no more than 100 yards of ground distance at each drop zone to allow for human error or sharp changes in the wind's speed or direction.

The 503d RCT and the 317th Troop Carrier Group--whose C-47's were to transport and drop the paratroopers--decided to employ a flight pattern providing for two columns of C-47's, one column over each drop zone. The direction of flight would have to be from southwest to northeast because the best line of approach--west to east--would not leave sufficient room between the two plane columns and would bring the aircraft more quickly over Manila Bay, increasing the chances that men would drop into the water or over cliffs. Since each plane could be over the drop zone only six seconds, each would have to make two or three passes, dropping a "stick" of six to eight 'troopers each time. It would be an hour or more before the 1,000 or so troops of the first airlift would be on the ground. Then, the C-47's would have to return to Mindoro, reload, and bring a second lift forward. This second group would not be on the ground until some five hours after the men of the first lift had started jumping.

Planners knew that they were violating the airborne experts' corollary to ground warfare's principal of mass--that is, to get the maximum force on the ground in the minimum time. But there was no choice. Terrain and meteorological conditions played their share in the formulation of the plan; lack of troop-carrying aircraft and pilots trained for parachute operations did the rest. The margin of safety was practically zero, and the hazards were such that planners were reconciled to accepting a jump casualty rate as high as 20 percent--Colonel Jones estimated that casualties might run as high as 50 percent. To some extent the casualty rate would depend upon whether or not the parachute drop took the Japanese on Corregidor by surprise. And, if air and naval bombardments had not reduced the Japanese on Topside to near impotency by the time of the drop, a tragic shambles might ensue.

Planners were also concerned over casualties during the amphibious phase of the assault, for they realized that losses could run even higher during landings on the beach than during the parachute drop. But the planners had several important reasons for including the amphibious attack, primary among them being the difficult problem of aerial resupply and the impossibility of aerial evacuation. Amphibious assault troops, planners believed, would probably be able to establish an early contact with the paratroopers on Topside and thus open an overwater supply and evacuation route.





6. Rad, Jones to MacArthur, 6 Feb 45, Sixth Army G-3 Jnl File Luzon, 4-6 Feb 45.

7. Krueger Comments, 18 Dec 56.