Less than six hours after Japan mercilessly attacked the US at Pearl Harbor, they also began their conquest of the Philippines. Their first wave of airplanes took out most of America’s air power stationed in the country, leaving its defense largely in the hands of thousands of poorly trained Filipino troops, the elite Filipino Scouts and several thousand American support troops. With virtually no air power and no armor to oppose them, the Japanese high command ordered their commanders to take the country in one month. The resolve of the American and Filipino defenders made that time table impossible to keep, and the defense at Corregidor Island was a big part of that.
Why was Corregidor so strategically important? The tadpole shaped island was located near the mouth of Manila Bay, one of the most natural deep-water ports in Asia, and it was exactly what the Japanese needed to supply their mass invasions throughout the Pacific.
After the USA beat the Spanish in the Spanish American War, the Philippines became a US protectorate. The US realized the strategic importance of Corregidor Island and began to build up its fortifications in 1909. This included tunnels, railways to transport munitions, hardened artillery batteries and two 12 inch long range guns with a range of over 17 miles. It was those two long range guns which frustrated the Japanese because their ships could not begin to approach Manila Bay as long as those guns were active.
It took four months for the Japanese to force the American and Filipino forces to surrender in Bataan and another whole month for them to finally take Corregidor. This defense was largely credited with stalling the Japanese advance in Asia. It gave the Allies enough time for their forces to turn the tide in the war in Europe and then focus again on beating the Japanese in the Pacific.
When the Americans went to retake Corregidor from the Japanese, they knew they would lose a lot of troops if they assaulted the beaches like the Japanese had done before them. They devised a daring plan to land thousands of paratroopers on a small parade ground at the top of the island. The gamble worked and it only took the Americans a few days to retake the island.
Nowadays, the island is one of the best-preserved WWII battle sites. It can be reached for tours by a short two hour ferry ride from Manila. You can tour the batteries which are still largely intact and see the hardened bunkers and artillery pieces that still have bullet holes and other shrapnel marks on them. If you are a WWII buff and you are in Manila, or someone who wants to spend a nice day touring the beautiful island, it is well worth the trip. If a half day on the island is not enough for you then you can stay overnight in one of the rooms in the hotel there; be careful though, it is not only one of the best preserved WWII battle sites in the Pacific, it is supposedly one of the most haunted places on earth.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.
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