FROM SHANGHAI TO CORREGIDOR: Marines in the Defense of the Philippines
by J. Michael Miller
Concentration at Mariveles
On 20 December, Admiral Rockwell ordered Lieutenant
Colonel Adams to move his battalion to the Naval Section Base at
Mariveles. The next day, two batteries and two companies of the 1st
Separate Marine Battalion were ordered to withdraw promptly from Cavite
to Mariveles. Lieutenant Carter B. Simpson remembered, "The Colonel with
orders and the transportation arrived within one minute of one another."
The 1st Separate Marine Battalion completed its evacuation of the Cavite
Sangley Point area on the night of Christmas day with the last
detachment finishing the destruction of the Navy Yard.
Private First Class James O. Faulkner drove a truck
loaded with two tons of candy destined for the Navy commissary at
Mariveles. Faulkner noticed the men from his unit resting along the road
and pulled over beside them. He quietly informed them of the contents of
his truck and then said loudly "I'm going to get something to eat. I
don't want to see you getting on my truck!" The Marines understood his
meaning and when Faulkner returned, the truck's load was considerably
On 24 December Lieutenant Colonel Donald Curtis, the
regimental executive officer, was directed to move Lieutenant Colonel
"Red" Anderson's 2d Battalion to Mariveles without delay Curtis began
work at once. At 1800, 24 December, Captain Benjamin L. McMakin, Company
F commander, called his officers and noncommissioned officers together
and said simply, "Gentlemen, it is Christmas Eve. We move all night."
The 2d Battalion boarded trucks and began the move to Mariveles at 2000
with truck convoys continuing for the following two days and nights to
move the regimental ammunition and equipment. As night fell on 26
December all personnel, equipment, and supplies were in place in the
jungle near Mariveles.
entrance to Naval Base Mariveles after the fall of Bataan. National Archives Photo
Admiral Rockwell ordered a detail of Marines under
Major Frank P. Pyzick to destroy the Olongapo Navy Yard. At the first
blast of explosives, the power plant engineer cut off all power to the
Yard and disappeared. All demolition work came to a stop until a Marine
working party restored power to detonate the remaining explosive
charges. The obsolete cruiser USS Rochester was towed into Subic
Bay and sunk by depth charges blowing open her hull. The PBY ramp was
destroyed and all aviation fuel and submarine supplies were burned.
"The hard part," remembered Private First Class
Wilbur M. Marrs, "was destroying all the footlockers that had the deep
carved chests inside filled with ivory jade, silk robes, and other
souvenirs" that were carefully brought out of Shanghai. Marrs later
wrote, "Buildings and equipment that were not blown up, we poured fuel
on, including these footlockers." All structures, except for the main
building of the Marine Barracks, were left in flames as the Marine
detachment departed the Navy Yard for the last time at 1900, 26
On Christmas Eve, Japanese aircraft struck Mariveles,
concentrating on the Free French freighter, S.S. Si Kiang. The
ship was interned in Mariveles harbor, and a guard of eight 1st
Battalion Marines prevented the crew from moving the vessel. A U.S. Army
quartermaster proceeded to un load the ship's cargo of gasoline and
flour, both of which were badly needed ashore. This daylight movement
attracted the attention of the Japanese who bombed the Si Kiang,
sending her to the bottom of Mariveles Bay. The 1st Battalion suffered
its first losses of the war: two Marines killed and three wounded. The
dead were buried with full military honors, in a somber ceremony
presided over by Regimental Chaplain Herbert R. Trump, ChC, USN.
The celebration of Christmas varied throughout the
4th Marines. Captain John Clark later wrote, this was "probably the
worst Christmas I ever spent. No food. Nip airplanes bombing over the
bay and flying over our area all day long. No damned fun." Marines of
the 1st Battalion enjoyed a turkey dinner at Mariveles. Corporal George
Bue and other members of Headquarters Company, 2d Battalion, feasted on
peas and oatmeal as their Christmas dinner.
For Private First Class James O. Faulkner, the
holiday began by driving a truck in the last convoy out of the Cavite
Navy Yard. The vehicles halted near the village of San Roque when the
astonished drivers saw Filipinos cooking doughnuts alongside the road.
Enterprising villagers salvaged the flour from a ship sunk in Manila Bay
and the hungry Marines happily joined in the holiday feast.
Lieutenant Colonel "Red" Anderson was driving toward
Mariveles with some of his 2d Battalion headquarters staff, when he
noticed a bombed-out Filipino cabaret outside Olongapo. Anderson ordered
the vehicle stopped and took his men inside to celebrate the holiday and
"have a Christmas drink." The headquarters party found the walls half
gone, but the bar still intact and everyone soon had a drink in hand.
Anderson then called for the singing of Christmas carols, and the group
gathered around First Lieutenant Sidney F. Jenkins as he played the
cabaret piano. All joined in the singing as they sipped their drinks.
The high point of the party was when Private First Class Joseph E.
"Frenchy" Dupont sang "Adeste Fideles," completely in Latin. For a brief
moment, the war was forgotten.