Securing "The Rock"

Corregidor had been under attack by Allied Air Forces planes ever since 22 January, when General MacArthur first designated the island as a target. The Allied Air Forces stepped up its attacks at the beginning of February and by the 16th of the month Fifth and Thirteenth Air Force planes had dropped some 3,125 tons of bombs on the island. On the morning of 16 February 24 B-24's hit known and suspected gun positions, 11 B-25's struck antiaircraft gun emplacements and the entire south coast, and 31 A-20's bombed and strafed generally, some of them paying attention to tiny Caballo Island, a mile to the south.

Naval bombardment began on 13 February in conjunction with the bombardment and mine sweeping in preparation for the seizure of Mariveles. The cruisers and destroyers of Task Group 77.3 directed most of their fire at the north side of Corregidor, where the Japanese defenses seemed strongest. The next day Japanese fire from Corregidor damaged a mine sweeper and two destroyers, the mine sweeper so severely that it later had to be sunk. Admiral Berkey's ships proved unable to silence all the fire from Corregidor and had made large inroads in their ammunition supply in the attempt. Therefore, Admiral Kinkaid sent 3 heavy cruisers and 5 destroyers south from Lingayen Gulf to augment the fire of the 5 light cruisers and 9 destroyers Berkey already had under his command. The new arrivals joined in the bombardment about 1230 on 15 February.

During the morning of the 16th cruisers and destroyers blasted the south shore of Bottomside, where the 3d Battalion, 34th Infantry, was to land; expended considerable ammunition on Caballo Island gun positions; and stood by for call fire the rest of the day. PT boats, which had already strafed some Corregidor shore batteries, were in position to rescue paratroopers who might land in Manila Bay. * As the troop carrying C-47's hove into view, seventy A-20's of the Allied Air Forces bombed and strafed the eastern section of Corregidor and also worked over Caballo.

The 503d RCT had staged at Mindoro under the direction of Eighth Army. At dawn on the 16th the paratroopers boarded planes of the 317th Troop Carrier Group, a task completed quickly and without incident. Just as the troops making an amphibious assault are under control of the naval command from the time of staging until a beachhead is established, so the 503d RCT was under the control of the Commanding General, Fifth Air Force, from the time the troop-carrying C-47's took off until the drop was executed. Upon reaching the ground, the RCT passed to the control of Sixth Army and Hall's XI Corps. For the purposes of centralizing control of operations on Corregidor, General Hall had organized Rock Force--the 503d RCT and the reinforced 3d Battalion, 34th Infantry. The organization of Rock Force, which was commanded by Colonel Jones of the 503d RCT, was to become effective when Jones reached Corregidor with the first lift from Mindoro.

 Hyperwar: Corregidor

* I was the Airborne coordinator on February 16, 1945 flying an A-20 (13th BS 3rd BG) and both marking targets and controlling the flow of aircraft attacking the area preceding the jump and the subsequent jump.The initial strike was by 3 groups of A-20s, the 3rd, the 417th and the 312th. The C-47s with the paratroopers were to follow the last 312th aircraft to strike. There were some special problems involved in executing the jump because it was to be onto the parade ground which was too short for a full stick to jump into. Therefore the C47's had to jump half their load and circle to return with the balance of their load. The leader of the 312th A20s was apparently unaware of the requirement for the second  part of the jump and wanted to see the jump so instead of clearing the area as instructed he circled his group back over Corregidor and got mixed up with the orbiting C-47's. Generals McArthur and Kenny were flying in the area in a B-17 observing the operation and witnessed the confusion.

COL Richard L. (Dick) Walker USAF Ret.


Corregidor  February 15, 1945


A-20 over Corregidor  February 1945

A-20s of the 417th BG  February 16, 1945





Beachhead at San Jose, Corregidor



 Corregidor Recaptured