Marines in World War II Commemorative Series
Arrival in the Philippines
The 1st Separate Marine Battalion
Preparing for War
Bombing of Cavite
Concentration at Mariveles
Christmas Day
Defenses of Manila Bay
First Bombing
Battle of the Points
The Bombardment Continues
The Formation of the 4th Battalion
1st Battalion Defenses
Japanese Preparations
The Landing
Movement of the Regimental Reserve
Attack of the 4th Battalion
Morning Battle
Special Subjects
The Marine Rearguard on Bataan
Marine Detachment, Air Warning Service
The Bataan Death March

FROM SHANGHAI TO CORREGIDOR: Marines in the Defense of the Philippines
by J. Michael Miller


Battery A moved to Corregidor on 17 February leaving a Marine Air Warning Detachment, the USAFFE Guard, and Battery C as the only Marines remaining on Bataan. Disease became a problem for Battery C, as Lieutenant Simpson recalled, "the heat was terrific, malaria cropped out among the men every day or so, yet we had to stay manned every day all day because of constant enemy air activity" The battery often left one gun unmanned to have full crews on the remaining guns.

The Bombardment Continues

On 6 February, Japanese artillery opened fire on Corregidor and the fortified islands from positions in Cavite Province. The forts were shelled eight more days and bombed twice in February. Occasional shelling and bombing hit the fortified islands until 15 March, when the Japanese began preparations to renew their offensive on Bataan. The bombing and artillery raids now continued unabated until the end of the siege. The Japanese conducted attacks spaced over every 24-hour period after 24 March to prevent any rest by the defenders. Japanese harassing artillery fires, conducted every 25-30 minutes throughout the night, caused the Marines to dub the annoying cannon "Insomnia Charlie." The artillery spotting balloon over Bataan was nicknamed "Peeping Tom."

The events of 30 March typify the constant Japanese bombardment. There were two periods of shelling, beginning at 0950 and 1451, and six bombing raids, beginning at 0040 and spaced throughout the day. One Marine, Private First Class Kenneth R. Paulin of Company M, 3d Battalion, was killed during the day by shellfire from the Cavite shore. The bombing raids finally ended at 2205. The attacks were renewed at 0102 on the same schedule, except 10 bombing raids occurred on 31 March.

unexploded bomb
An unexploded bomb at Middleside, Corregidor, March 1942. Austin C. Shofner Papers, Personal Papers Collection, MCHC

At this time, the major problems facing Major General Jonathan Wainwright, USA, commander of U.S. Forces on the Bataan Peninsula, were dwindling food supply and an increased disease rate. By March, the daily ration of food for the men on Bataan was 1,000 calories with food for Corregidor rationed to last until the end of June 1942. On 27 March, Wainwright telegraphed Mac Arthur in Australia to report the June deadline and asked for supplies. He also stated that "with ample food and ammunition we can hold the enemy in his present position, I believe, indefinitely"

On 1 April, General Wainwright recognized that little or no food could arrive through the Japanese blockade and ordered a new reduced ration. The 4th Marines and other defenders of Corregidor now consumed 30.49 ounces of food per day: 8 ounces of meat, 7 ounces of flour, 4 ounces of vegetables, 3 ounces of beans and cereals, 2.5 ounces of rice, 3 ounces of milk, and approximately 3 ounces of miscellaneous food stuffs.

"We were hungry all the time," remembered Private First Class Ben L. Lohman, "We ate mule meat . . . when the mules were killed in the bombing . . . they'd bring the carcasses down and we'd eat 'em." Drinking water was distributed only twice a day in powder cans, but bombing and shelling often interrupted the resupply. The staple food for the 4th Marines was cracked wheat, sometimes made into dumplings, sometimes served with syrup. The continued lack of a proper diet created major problems for the 4th Marines, as men were weakened and lacked reliable night vision. Some Marines lost up to 40 pounds during the bombardment.

officers of 2d Battalion, 4th Marines and Filipino officers
LtCol Herman R. Anderson stands on the beach on Corregidor with the assembled officers of 2d Battalion, 4th Marines and several Filipino officers. Note the thick layers of oil on the beaches from ships sunk in Manila Bay. Department of Defense Photo (USMC) 58736

On 9 April, Bataan fell to the Japanese after a final offensive broke through the USAFFE defenses trapping more than 75,000 men. Battery C managed to escape at the last minute, but the Marine guards at USAFFE headquarters and the Air Warning Detachment were taken prisoner, and endured the infamous Bataan Death March. The Japanese wasted little time before focusing their attention on Corregidor, intensifying their bombardment of the island the same day Bataan fell.

Although food was in short supply on Corregidor. ammunition was relatively plentiful. As of 7 April, the island had 5,177,900 rounds of armor piercing, clipped, and tracer .30-caliber ammunition and a total of 161,808 rounds of .50-caliber ammunition. Gen Wainwright wrote, "Our flag still flies on this beleaguered fortress." and added in his memoir, "I meant to see it keep flying."

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Commemorative Series produced by the Marine Corps History and Museums Division