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


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.

A 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.

A 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 Corregidor.

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 kits.

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"

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Commemorative Series produced by the Marine Corps History and Museums Division