Corregidor Island is located at the entrance of Manilla Bay and is one of the Philippines most historic sites due to the role it played in World War II. Today, the war-ravaged buildings remain unrestored and stand as a memorial to the soldiers who served or lost their lives there.
Due to its strategic importance, Corregidor Island was ladened with 23 coastal batteries and 72 anti-aircraft weapons. However, these defences revolved around the premise that Corregidor would be the first attacked territory from a coastal assault; not the last from a landward attack, as seen in 1942.
In 1942, Japanese forces attacked Corregidor from the peninsular of Bataan in the north. Despite being able to fire in this direction, the batteries at Corregidor had little effective ammunition for this type of assault. Furthermore, the trajectory of the guns on Corregidor also made enemies on Bataan difficult to hit.
From December 29th to the start of May 1942, the limited number of US and Filipino forces on Corregidor were victim to incessant Japanese bombardment, with a total of around 400 tonnes of explosives striking the area. Despite two thirds of their landing crafts being sunk by US artillery, 800 Japanese soldiers eventually landed on the island on 5th May. As a result of the unexpected resistance, a second Japanese battalion of the same size was quickly deployed. This allowed for the Japanese to overwhelm the allied forces and push them back inland.
A lack of supplies on both sides (crates of Japanese ammunition had failed to be delivered) resulted in brutal hand-to-hand exchanges with knives and bayonnets; however, the turning point was when Japanese tanks and a third Japanese battalion landed on the island. By 6th May, the allies were forced to surrender.
Corregidor’s defeat marked the fall of the Philippines and the end of US organized opposition in the east. It wouldn’t be until February 1945 that the island would eventually be liberated from Japanese forces.
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