PT-373; Wheeler Point; Battery Monja
Rescue inflatable; stranded paratroopers
The view of Geary Point from the deck of a PT Boat on station. There
are at least 15 parachutes still in the air, some of which are being
blown deep into Japanese held territory.
View north across Landing Field A, Btry Wheeler in foreground, EM
Married Qtrs on left, Topside Barracks across the athletic field, and
the hospital at rear.
Landing Zone B., Battery Crockett, Battery Geary as a stick of 10
descends. PT Boat lays off shore.
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
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
As vehicles reached shore they began
detonating mines along the Bottomside beaches. In rapid
succession a medium tank of the 603d Tank Company, an M7
self-propelled mount of Cannon Company, 34th Infantry, and a
37-mm. antitank gun of Antitank Company, 34th Infantry, were
destroyed. Nevertheless, Companies K and L, 34th Infantry,
pushed rapidly forward and gained a firm hold atop Malinta Hill
by 1100. To that time amphibious landing casualties had been 2
men killed and 6 wounded, far below the anticipated rate.
Surprise was complete. The lack of opposition
to the first parachute drops and to the initial landing waves at
Bottomside can be attributed both to the shock of preparatory
naval and air bombardment and to the fact that the Japanese had
not expected a parachute attack. Evidently circling bombers and
fighters of the Allied Air Forces had kept the Japanese under
cover while the LCM's and escorts approaching from Mariveles
apparently diverted Japanese attention from the incoming C-47's.
Indeed, since the C-47's resembled "Betty" bombers of the
Japanese Army Air Force, the Japanese naval troops on Corregidor
may have assumed that the troop-carrying aircraft were more
In turn, the parachute drop diverted Japanese
attention from the amphibious craft moving on Corregidor.
Obviously confused by the co-ordinated assault, the Japanese did
not know what to do first. By the time they had recovered their
wits sufficiently to take meaningful action, the 3d Battalions
of the 34th and 503d Infantry Regiments had secured their
initial objectives with negligible combat losses.
However, jump casualties among the
paratroopers of the first lift had run higher than
anticipated--roughly 25 percent of the 'troopers of that lift
had been injured, and many others had failed to land on Topside.
There had been a number of contributing factors. For one thing,
in their first pass over the drop zones the leading planes had
disgorged paratroopers from an altitude of 550-600 feet instead
of the planned 400 feet. This increased descent drift and sent
some men onto the cliffs south and southwest of the drop zones
while others barely hit the narrow beaches below the bluffs.
Drift also had increased because the wind velocity was over
twenty miles per hour (five miles or more per hour stronger than
the velocity then considered safe for parachute operations) and
because the wind came more from the
north than planners had expected. Colonel Jones and the
commander of the 317th Troop Carrier Group, circling overhead in
a command plane, were in radio contact with the C-47's. They
were able to have the troop carriers progressively reduce their
altitude until by the time the first drop had ended all planes
were flying at the right height. Nevertheless, most of the men
of the first lift missed the assigned drop zones and landed on,
in, and among buildings and trees away from the two fields.