Saturday, October 25, 2014


Manilla, Philippines, October 12, 2014

No visit to Manila for a World War 2 buff would be complete without a trip to Corregidor.

A short history lesson... The same day that the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, they also attacked the Philippines. At that time, the Philippines were a U.S. Territory. The poorly prepared Philippine and American forces on the "mainland Philippines" were overrun by overwhelming Japanese forces, in a few weeks. All the remaining troops were evacuated to Corregidor Island, out in the middle of Manila Bay. Corregidor was heavily fortified and manned, and they were prepared for a long hold-out. But after 4 months of relentless bombardment by Japanese airplanes, ships, and the abandoned American coastal guns on the mainland, and as supplies started running out, it became apparent that further resistance would be pretty pointless. General Wainwright surrendered on May 6, 1942.

Want more fascinating details?

Corregidor is also the location from which General MacArthur left the Philippines (after being ordered to leave by President Roosevelt)... he left in March 1942 on a PT Boat in the middle of the night. He went first to Mindanao, and eventually was flown to Australia. It was from Sydney, Australia that General MacArthur made that famous proclamation "I shall return." (to the Philippines).

The Corregidor Ferry

It is possible to just visit Corregidor by paying only for the ferry, but it turned out to be a big island, and it would be difficult to get around to many of the sights without having at least a bicycle (and they don't rent them on the island). You can also stay overnight in a small hotel there, for a more leisurely approach to seeing the sights.
Our Tour Bus

We also feel that a good tour guide is usually worth the extra cost. Unless we had done a lot more research, we would have missed a lot had we been walking around on our own.
Our Tour Guide

The Japanese Memorial on Corregidor

Next we visited the large underground tunnel that was built prior to the war, to provide a secure bunker for men and materiel, as well as a hospital.

About the Corregidor Tunnel

The Tunnel Complex as Designed

They took us in to the darkened tunnel, and then moved us through the tunnel, stopping at a number of "re-enactment spots" where we saw a mock-up of a World War II scene, and some voice-overs describing the action.

We Enter the Darkened Tunnel

Depiction of General MacArthur and an Aide

General Wainright Making the Difficult Decision to Surrender

I can't imagine spending 4 months in that tunnel, with the Japanese bombing heck out of you. Running out of food, water, fuel, medical supplies, men, and ammunition!

After the tunnel, we went to see the gun emplacements that defended the island. They were constantly under heavy attack. The guns were put out of commission one-by-one, by Japanese bombing. The very last heavy mortar cracked from heat of constant firing, as the Japanese were coming ashore on Corregidor.

Long Guns

Next we went up on the hill to see the buildings and structures that had housed the American and Filipino forces that manned Corregidor during peacetime.

The Signs Were Everywhere!

Broken Barracks

The Lighthouse and the Lighthouse View

No memorial to the heroism on Corregidor would be complete without a special memorial to the Filipino soldiers who fought alongside the Americans.
A Special Memorial for the Filipinos

And our final stop was at the Pacific War Memorial (and Museum).

The Pacific War Memorial


  1. Lt. John Bulkeley was in command of the PT boat that evacuated Gen. MacArthur in 1942. He and Dave's father were classmates in the U. S. Naval Academy's class of 1933. They both won the Medal of Honor and have AEGIS missile Frigates named after them.

  2. Hi Lew, thanks for that piece of info. We didn't know that!