16 February, 1945.  A destroyer comes in close during
preparation for the Corregidor landings.



















The traffic wasn't always one-way
















17 February, 1945. LCI's beached on Black Beach.





"K" Company moved into Mariveles at the southermost tip of Bataan on the day the 151st Infantry carved out a beachhead there. We came ashore wading hip-deep with rifles held high.

Mariveles. It's the spot where MacArthur's men made their last heart-breaking stand before the men of Nippon hoisted the rising sun banner over Bataan. It's the spot where the "Death March" began. Remember? All the same, the guys on the beach of Mariveles were in no mood to dig back into history. All of us were looking down the inlet and out across the maw of Manila Bay. The sun glowed low on the horizon, blood-red. Out there. five miles to the south, Corregidor lay brooding in the twilight.

How we studied that Rock! Its massive western half, called Topside, lay on sand-colored cliffs thrusting out at Battery Point. A low. slim saddle - the woman's midriff - led over from Topside to jutting Malinta Hill, which in turn was fronted by a promontory called Malinta Point; and tapering eastward from Malinta Hill lay the other half of the island: Engineer Point, Artillery Point, Infantry Point.

Our mission was to take Malinta Hill and cut the island in two: keep the Jap forces in the east from interfering with the cleanup of the Topside massif in the west - the paratroopers' play. We didn't envy them. The longer we looked at Malinta's ramparts the more the hill seemed to us a furuncle ready to spurt poison under the push of a finger. The battalion commander. Lieutenant Colonel Edward M. Postlethwait (Warren. Minnesota), was looking, too.

"I hope it works," he said.

We dug holes in the sand and slept as soldiers sleep - dropping off quick, but alert to the softest call. The clatter of machinery nearby did not disturb us. Somebody was loading assault equipment into landing craft: tanks, tank-destroyers, bulldozers, ambulances, a big truck loaded with TNT. That was for blowing up the tunnels.

The usual number of little things happened. One of the tank destroyers broke an oil line. It stuck lopsided in the surf. There was a flurry of curses and a clanking of chains. The thing would not budge. They borrowed another from the 151st.

We were awakened at 0530. A good wind rustled through the scrub and the night was full of stars. Already it seemed hot. Just fastening the pack and opening ration tins in the dark brought out the sweat. Loading began a half hour later.

One by one the landing craft pulled up to Mariveles jetty. Troops filed aboard, quiet and orderly. The rifle squads. Machinegun crews and mortarmen lugging their weapons. Bazooka men with their stovepipes across their shoulders. Flamethrower operators glum under the weight of their tools. They climbed aboard and squatted, tightly packed. Each man packed grenades, atabrine and two canteens of chlorinated water. Smoking was out until daylight.

Last in, first out. "King" and "Love" Companies loaded last.

Dawn broke, pearly and big. Wind clouds stood over the horizon. Corregidor lay as silent in the twilight as a huge tomb. By now the Japs were watching us through their glasses. Some of us lit cigarettes. Light was passed around to others. You could feel the fellows wondering what yonder Japs were cooking up for our reception. The wind blew from the south. Some thought they could smell Nips five miles away.

The sun came up and the boats vibrated with the steady rumbling of their engines.  As we moved out - very slowly - small dots drifted up with the wind, came nearer, became formations of bombers. We saw them circle the Rock, lazy-like and distant. Over the white-yellow cliffs of Corregidor blossomed sudden little shapes, like flowers pushed up out of a magic garden. Petals of smoke; bombs bursting. Soon the planes were as thick as sailboats at the starting line of a regatta. We looked for ack-ack, saw none. [2]

Rolling across the bay was the thunder of many explosions.

Warships appeared and moved in close. Steel pitched into the Fortress' gun positions. The cruisers and destroyers were as casual about it as the planes. By 0800 a heavy pall of smoke covered the island. Peering over bulwarks as we drew closer it seemed to us that every foot of surface up there had been put through a giant sausage grinder. The smoke was so dense that we could not see the flashes of bombs and shells striking home. Diving planes vanished in the black welter and then zoomed out of it with screeching motors.

0830: another series of dots drifted up from the south. They came in fat formations and slower than the bombers. They were black planes, transports loaded with paratroops. They lower their flaps and barely maintain flying speed when they drop their men. In twos and three they floated in over the Topside plateau and paratroops floated out. Cross winds gave trouble. Many troopers came to grief on the cliff sides. But most dropped out of sight into the smoke.

We waited and listened, but everything seemed quiet up there. We had been circling all this time through choppy seas and now hovered off the southern beach which links the tunnels of Malinta Hill with the Topside forts. Black Beach this strip of sand was called. It lay open to crossfire from the flanking heights. We ducked and sucked in our guts as the motors pounded into high. The rocket ships cruised in close, pasting the cliffs as they went. Then we made the run.


*Sufficient of Pfc Harold J. Duncan (32762943) KIA on 16 February 1945, late of New Jersey, was found to be buried in the Manila Cemetery at A 13, 38.