FROM SHANGHAI TO CORREGIDOR: Marines in the Defense of the Philippines
by J. Michael Miller
As men became available on Corregidor from January
until after the fall of Bataan, they were integrated into the 4th
Marines to support beach defense. In February, 58 sailors formerly of
the USS Canopus were organized as a reserve company Lieutenant
Clarence Van Ray with Platoon Sergeant Leslie D. Sawyer and Sergeant Ray
K. Cohen trained and equipped the sailors into an efficient fighting
force. Ten Marines and 40 more sailors were added to the company after
the fall of Bataan.
Marine shows his friends his portion of a resupply of precious
cigarettes brought into Corregidor by submarine.
The largest group of reinforcements arrived after the
fall of Bataan. In the days following 9 April, 72 officers and 1,173
enlisted men from more than 50 different organizations were assigned to
the 4th Marines, making the Marine regiment one of the most unusual
units in Marine Corps history. These reinforcements included members of
the Navy, the Army, the Philippine Army and Philippine Scouts. Sailors
stranded on land after the loss of their ships found themselves
alongside engineers, tankers, and aviators whose units were captured on
Bataan. Filipino Scouts were assigned with members of the islands'
Constabulary to the 4th Marines. Unfortunately, very few of the
reinforcements were trained or equipped for ground combat. By 29 April,
the 4th Marines numbered 229 officers and 3,770 men, of whom only about
1,500 were Marines.
new supply of cigarettes has just arrived in the Philippines and the
Marines are given their ration along with chow.
The Formation of the 4th Battalion
With Bataan on the brink of falling, Captain John H.
S. Dessez, the commander of the Navy Base at Mariveles requested
permission to transfer his 500 sailors to Corregidor. Approval was
granted with the condition that these men would be part of the beach
defense force. On 10 April, the 4th Battalion was formed under the
command of Major Francis H. "Joe" Williams. His command was built with
nine Army officers and 16 Navy officers and warrant officers commanding
272 enlisted men. This joint service battalion bivouacked in Government
Ravine near Battery Geary and began to train for ground combat.
Marines break for one of their two meals a day on
Four companies were organized in the battalion and
lettered Q, R, S, and T. Companies Q and R were commanded by Army
officers and S and T by Navy officers. Rifles still packed in cosmoline,
a greasy protective coating, were issued to the sailors. This presented
interesting cleaning problems to the inexperienced mariners. However,
rifles were all that was issued to the battalion in the way of
equipment. There were no helmets, cartridge belts, or even first aid
Williams at once began weapons training for his
sailors. With no rifle range available, the blue-jackets used floating
debris in Manila Bay as targets on which to sight in their rifles. Some
of the Navy personnel had not fired a weapon in almost 20 years.
Training proceeded with cover and concealment, and small unit tactics.
Evening lectures were given by men experienced in combat on Bataan. The
accelerated infantry training by the battalion was punctuated by the
daily shelling and the fact that each man felt "that this battalion
would be used where the going was the roughest . . . . The chips were
down and there was no horseplay"