PT Crewmen look on as a C-47 drops a stick of 9 paratroopers on Landing Zone B.  Facing 25 knot winds, the first men of this stick risk being blown back towards the ravine.  The canopies which are visible are all in the midst of what will shortly be discovered as a Japanese controlled area.

 

 

 C-47; Landing Zone B; Telephone exchange building; Stick of 7 gets blown back by high winds.

 

 

(L. to R.) 1st Sgt Albert Baldwin, S/Sgt Charles McCurry, Bill McDonald, Marion Boone, Paul Narrow, Ralph Iverson. They were the third stick in plane #22, "F" Company's first plane.  Baldwin was to jumpmaster the third pass over Corregidor. The photo is one of a series taken on the ground at Hill Strip, Mindoro by Signal Corps photographer Yednick, who was the 8th man in the stick. Ironically, they didn't jump - the aircraft was disabled and had to seek an emergency landing.

 

 

The jumpmasters-eye-view of Landing Field B, with Senior Officers Row below. 

 

 

Securing "The Rock"

 

Preparations

Corregidor had been under attack by Allied Air Forces planes ever since 22 January, when General MacArthur first designated the island as a target.9 The Allied Air Forces stepped up its attacks at the beginning of February and by the 16th of the month Fifth and Thirteenth Air Force planes had dropped some 3,125 tons of bombs on the island. On the morning of 16 February 24 B-24's hit known and suspected gun positions, 11 B-25's struck antiaircraft gun emplacements and the entire south coast, and 31 A-20's bombed and strafed generally, some of them paying attention to tiny Caballo Island, a mile to the south.

Naval bombardment began on 13 February in conjunction with the bombardment and mine sweeping in preparation for the seizure of Mariveles. The cruisers and destroyers of Task Group 77.3 directed most of their fire at the north side of Corregidor, where the Japanese defenses seemed strongest. The next day Japanese fire from Corregidor damaged a mine sweeper and two destroyers, the mine sweeper so severely that it later had to be sunk. Admiral Berkey's ships proved unable to silence all the fire from Corregidor and had made large inroads in their ammunition supply in the attempt. Therefore, Admiral Kinkaid sent 3 heavy cruisers and 5 destroyers south from Lingayen Gulf to augment the fire of the 5 light cruisers and 9 destroyers Berkey already had under his command. The new arrivals joined in the bombardment about 1230 on 15 February.

During the morning of the 16th cruisers and destroyers blasted the south shore of Bottomside, where the 3d Battalion, 34th Infantry, was to land; expended considerable ammunition on Caballo Island gun positions; and stood by for call fire the rest of the day. PT boats, which had already strafed some Corregidor shore batteries, were in position to rescue paratroopers who might land in Manila Bay. As the troop carrying C-47's hove into view, seventy A-20's of the Allied Air Forces bombed and strafed the eastern section of Corregidor and also worked over Caballo.

The 503d RCT had staged at Mindoro under the direction of Eighth Army. At dawn on the 16th the paratroopers boarded planes of the 317th Troop Carrier Group, a task completed quickly and without incident. Just as the troops making an amphibious assault are under control of the naval command from the time of staging until a beachhead is established, so the 503d RCT was under the control of the Commanding General, Fifth Air Force, from the time the troop-carrying C-47's took off until the drop was executed. Upon reaching the ground, the RCT passed to the control of Sixth Army and Hall's XI Corps. For the purposes of centralizing control of operations on Corregidor, General Hall had organized Rock Force--the 503d RCT and the reinforced 3d Battalion, 34th Infantry. The organization of Rock Force, which was commanded by Colonel Jones of the 503d RCT, was to become effective when Jones reached Corregidor with the first lift from Mindoro.

 

Aerial and Amphibious Assault

Floating earthward without being fired upon by the Japanese, the first man of the first lift of paratroopers was on the ground at 0833, 16 February, three minutes behind schedule.10 Jumpers from following aircraft encountered sporadic Japanese rifle and machine gun fire, but on the ground at Topside drop zones the paratroopers found only a few small groups of Japanese armed with light machine guns and rifles. These the parachutists either killed or drove off with little trouble. By 0945 the first lift was on the ground and assembled at Topside drop zones--the 3d Battalion, 503d Infantry; Battery C, 162d Parachute Field Artillery Battalion; a platoon of Battery D, 462d Parachute Field Artillery; Company C, 161st Airborne Engineer Battalion; and about two-thirds of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 503d RCT, including Colonel Jones.

The missions of the troops in the first lift were to secure and hold the drop zones for the second lift; prepare to move out to clear all Topside upon the arrival of the second lift; provide fire support for the assault of the 3d Battalion, 34th Infantry, at Bottomside; and, finally, establish physical contact with the latter unit as soon as possible. By 1000 the 'troopers had successfully accomplished the first mission, had completed preparations for the second, and had moved two .50-caliber machine guns in position on the southeast side of Topside to help cover the amphibious attack. The machine gunners, whose support fire was not needed initially, had a magnificent view of the assault at Bottomside.

The 3d Battalion, 34th Infantry, had come to Mariveles with the 151st RCT on 15 February,11 and had left Mariveles Harbor aboard twenty-five LCM's of the 592d Engineer Boat and Shore Regiment at 0830 on the 16th. Taking a circuitous route around the west end of Corregidor, the first boats hit the south beach at 1028, two minutes ahead of schedule. Contrary to all expectations, there was no opposition as the men of the first four waves poured ashore. But as the fifth wave came in Japanese machine guns opened up from Ramsay Ravine and Breakwater Point, to the left rear--southeast--and from cliffs at San Jose Point, lying at the southwest corner of Malinta Hill.

 

 

 
 

Footnotes

9. This subsection is based principally upon: Craven and Cate, AAF V, pp. 340-34; TG 78.3 Action Rpt Mariveles-Corregidor, passim; Sixth Army Rpt Luzon, I, 53; Sixth Army FO 48, 7 Feb 45, in ibid., I, 149-51.

10. The sources for the remainder of the Corregidor action, unless otherwise indicated, are: USAFFE Bd Rpt Corregidor, I, 3-9; Sixth Army Rpt Luzon, I, 53-55; 503d RCT Rpt Corregidor, pp. 3-6; 503d RCT S-2 Rpt Corregidor, pp. 1-7; 503d Inf S-2 Per Rpts, 16 Feb-2 Mar 45; 503d Inf S-3 Per Rpts, 16 Feb-2 Mar 45; 1st Bn 503d Prcht Inf Hist, Phase XII, 16-29 Feb 45,passim; 503d Prcht Inf S-1 Rpt Corregidor, an. 3, Casualties; 34th Inf Rpt Luzon, pp. 138-54.

11. See above, ch. XVII.