Welcome to the WWII Forums! Log in or Sign up to interact with the community.

What if Corregidor had held out?

Discussion in 'What If - Pacific and CBI' started by John Dudek, Feb 6, 2009.

  1. John Dudek

    John Dudek Member

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2001
    Messages:
    395
    Likes Received:
    37
    What if the Japanese invasion attempt of Corregidor had failed and was hurled back into the sea, as it almost was? How long could the Filippino-American forces have hold out? Remember, the vast majority of the Japanese landing craft and their crews had already been destroyed by Corregidor's Coastal and Beach artillery. How soon before General Homma would have mounted a second invasion attempt?

    I read of an account where General Wainright was telling another officer that there was food enough to last Corregidor's garrison until the end of June, given its present half-ration status.

    Added to this, a number of Corregidor's coastal batteries, although badly damaged, were by no means permanently knocked out and were within days of repair by their armorers and gun crews. The guns of Fort Drum and Fort Frank were still very much in action and capable of much further damage to the Japanese. In addition, there were a number of 155mm guns on moveable, Panama mounts that remained highly effective until the end of the siege.

    What say you ladies and gentlemen?
     
  2. Lost Watchdog

    Lost Watchdog Member

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2008
    Messages:
    99
    Likes Received:
    9
    The biggest factor would be the human one. Assuming food supplies held out and there was enough ammo to fight on, the breaking point would be the garrison. The constant Japanese air bombing and shelling would cause mounting casualties who could not be evacuated, draining medical supplies, which could not be replenished.
    And being under attack for weeks on end with no hope of relief and the fear you could get wounded and not receive proper medical care would cause huge mental strain on the garrison and could lead to a breakdown in disicpline (no matter how brave and well-trained the troops on the Rock were). In the end I think Wainwright would have to surrender to avoid mutiny.
    An interesting aside would be if Corregidor held out longer would the forces in the southern Philippines have been organised into a seperate command and therefore able to fight on when Wainwright surrendered.
     
  3. 4th wilts

    4th wilts Member

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2007
    Messages:
    952
    Likes Received:
    29
    could Corregidor be supplied?,i think only subs could get in,cheers.
     
  4. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

    Joined:
    May 21, 2007
    Messages:
    17,511
    Likes Received:
    2,114
    Location:
    Alabama
    It would have taken a fundamental change in the way the Navy trained men. At the time, the Navy had no basic training; the men reported to the ship they were going to serve on and got their training there. Most had never fired a small arms and had no idea how to conduct small unit maneuvers, which is why they were able to be defeated by a smaller Japanese landing force.


    If they did, they would still have to be running shallow in the bay and then surface to unload. Japanese aircraft would have had a field day.
     
  5. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2003
    Messages:
    5,945
    Likes Received:
    761
    Location:
    Phoenix Arizona
    The Corregidor garrison was almost entirely US Army troops. Most were from the Coast Defense branch but there was infantry and other branches present too. Historically, the garrison morale collapsed when the Japanese managed not only to land but landed several tanks with their men. Had the US been more prepared for a tank landing they very likely would have defeated at least the first attempt by the Japanese to take the island.

    The US could also have had other forts in the harbor like Drum (the Concrete Battleship) fire on Corregidor or nearby in support of the island against a landing as well.

    But, eventually Corregidor being isolated would have had to surrender in any case.
     
  6. A-58

    A-58 Cool Dude

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2008
    Messages:
    8,754
    Likes Received:
    1,560
    Location:
    Baton Rouge, Louisiana
    Wasn't it true that all re-enforcements and supplies that were destined for The Philippines got diverted to Australia after Pearl Harbor? Once Guam and Wake Island fell to Japanese forces, and later the Dutch East Indies, sending a supply convoy to Manila Bay would be like running a gauntlet, and not the good kind. Not much reason to hold out. And the breakdown of morale would be inevitable.
     
  7. Carl W Schwamberger

    Carl W Schwamberger Ace

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2007
    Messages:
    1,051
    Likes Received:
    81
    Many were, mostly those already at sea. Some were sent to Hawaii instead. The remainder were held in the US and eventually sent elsewhere in the Pacific Theatre. A battalion of artillery and some aircraft squadrons were sent to the Dutch territory, Java, where they were lost in March 1942.
     
  8. A-58

    A-58 Cool Dude

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2008
    Messages:
    8,754
    Likes Received:
    1,560
    Location:
    Baton Rouge, Louisiana
    Yes, I remember reading about some units getting diverted to Hawaii and to the Dutch East Indies now. Thanks for pointing that out for me. The loss of The Philippines was inevitable with the way the Japanese were overrunning East Asia and the Western Pacific. By the time Corregidor surrendered, did they have any indications of the Bataan Death March? Holding out to avoid something like that would be the only motivation for me. I understand that by the time Corregidor capitulated, motor transport was available in much of the relocation to POW camps. Not that life was pleasant for them for the rest of the war, but it's not like they many other options available to them.
     
  9. A-58

    A-58 Cool Dude

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2008
    Messages:
    8,754
    Likes Received:
    1,560
    Location:
    Baton Rouge, Louisiana
    Deleted double post. Stickey button I guess. Pardon me please.
     
  10. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2003
    Messages:
    5,945
    Likes Received:
    761
    Location:
    Phoenix Arizona
    The US was wise enough to recognize the wisdom of an old military maxim:

    "Never reinforce defeat."
     
  11. A-58

    A-58 Cool Dude

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2008
    Messages:
    8,754
    Likes Received:
    1,560
    Location:
    Baton Rouge, Louisiana
    It had to be hard to know that all the troops already there were going into the bag. Once they realized it, it was all but over. I guess the "no mama, no poppa, no uncle sam" thing carried a lot of meaning to them over there.
     
  12. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

    Joined:
    May 21, 2007
    Messages:
    17,511
    Likes Received:
    2,114
    Location:
    Alabama
    You are right, Terry. I had remembered reading the long article on the men at Corregidor not being familiar with small unit tactics and being very unfamiliar with small arms a very long time ago.
     
  13. Falcon Jun

    Falcon Jun Ace

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2007
    Messages:
    1,281
    Likes Received:
    85
    Without the Bataan peninsula in friendly hands, it was extremely unlikely that Corregidor could have held out for any length of time. Once Bataan fell, the fortress island's days were numbered.
     
  14. John Dudek

    John Dudek Member

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2001
    Messages:
    395
    Likes Received:
    37
    The Corregidor garrison also had the 4th Marine Regiment manning its beach defenses.

    "Despite the damage to defenses it had so laboriously constructed, the 4th Marines was ready, indeed almost eager, to meet a Japanese assault after days and weeks of absorbing punishment without a chance to strike back. On the eve of a battle which no one doubted was coming, the regiment was perhaps the most unusual Marine unit ever to take the field. From an understrength two-battalion regiment of less than 800 Marine regulars it had grown until it mustered almost 4,000 officers and men drawn from all the services and 142 different organizations.22 Its ranks contained 72 Marine officers and 1,368 enlisted Marines, 37 Navy officers23 and 848 bluejackets, and 111 American and Philippine Air Corps, Army, Scout, and Constabulary officers with 1,455 of their men."

    The 4th Marines became a regiment consisting of four reinforced rifle battalions with their companies extending up to Q,R,S and T. It also boasted of having the "highest paid rifle company in the Marine Corps" made up chiefly of US Navy petty officers.
     
  15. John Dudek

    John Dudek Member

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2001
    Messages:
    395
    Likes Received:
    37
    "A Critical Reminescence" Taken from the Corregidor site.

    "Lt. R. G. Lawrence, commanding Batteries "A" and "D" of the 92d Coast Artillery (Philippine Scouts), reinforced by a platoon of US 4th Marines, and 10 US Army and Philippine Army evacuees from Bataan, in total 86 men, inflicted catastrophic casualties upon the first two waves of Japanese attackers, decimating both attacks. By daybreak, he believed that only approximately 500 Japanese effectives remained on the island and that the landing in his sector had entirely failed. His unit had suffered only one killed and one wounded, all his guns were in operating condition and they lacked only food, water and communication. His testimony should force us to reconsider and question the 'conventional understanding' which prevailed inside Malinta Tunnel, namely that the Japanese invasion had been a tactical success. It was, in fact, still capable of being soundly defeated, only no one in the U.S. command structure knew it.


    Ray G. Lawrence, Lt. Col.
    1133 Western Meadows Road
    Albuquerque 14, New Mexico

    October 3, 1963


    Dear Dr. Belote:

    I was surprised to hear from a historian after so long. I have read several accounts of the surrender and prior siege but none to my knowledge have been too accurate. I might say you are the first to question me although several senior officers received a report from me after the surrender and then in P.O.W. camp several persons were writing experiences, but to my knowledge the latter all died in P.O.W. camp.

    Yes, I commanded a battery of 2 - 75mm model 1917 British made guns. In addition I had 2 - 37mm ex-caliber guns mounted in 50 cal. AA mounts, 2 - 50 cal. Machine guns, 2 – 30 cal machine guns, 3 - 25 # aerial frag bombs, 8 – Browning automatic rifles and 3,000 hand grenades. My command on 1 Jan. 1942 consisted of myself, a Phil. Army 3rd Lt. and 35 Philippine Scouts from Btry "A" & "D" of the 92d CA (PS). I & my men were attached for command to the 1st Bn 4th U.S. Marine Reg't, Commanded by Lt. Col. Beecher. My sector started at the old Rifle Butt concrete wall approx 250 yards from the end of the airstrip and continued to the tail end of the island. The location was commonly known as East Pt., North Point was approx 1/2 mile to my left.

    As I obtained more weapons, additional men were assigned. One platoon of the 4th U.S. Marines joined me and took over the machine guns. Later, after Bataan fell, I rec'd about 10 U.S. Army and Phil soldiers though they were tired and ill with malaria. They had recovered by May 6th to perform. By then I had 82 men. The Phil Scouts manned the 75's and trained constantly to where they could perform in the dark as well as in the daytime. Of course, I need not tell of the ability of the Marines to handle the MG's & small arms. They used to practice blindfolded clearing stoppages & getting the guns in action. Within a week after Bataan fell I knew we were to be the target for a landing as the Jap artillery attempted to zero in on our position & the beach in front of us. We were shelled 5 times per day so close we could almost set our watches. The Japs used 150mm & 240mm though they never damaged our positions or caused casualties. They did hit 1 – 37mm position twice but it was well revetted and so no damage. The first time we were shelled my men were terrified as was I. It took me most of the night to find everyone, they had dug in so deep. I then made it a practice to hold gun drills & communication drills during all shelling. It seemed to boost the morale and then they became sure that their position was invulnerable. When the attack finally came, we were waiting in our gun pits, every man on duty. The barrage immediately preceding the initial landing was by far the worst. My own communications (field phones) remained intact but my contact with Marine Hq. was severed; hence I was not able to report, nor did I receive any orders subsequently.

    I have always thought the 1st wave hit us at about 9:30 P.M. just as the barage on the beach lifted & moved further behind us and to the left on the airstrip. We were all so busy I doubt if anyone looked at their watch, mine had quit operating several weeks before. I had a 36" searchlight which was operated by the scouts. I ordered it turned on when I heard the motors approaching the beach. It was knocked out by enemy small arms within 2-3 minutes but not before we got a good look at the craft about 100 yds from the shore. We opened up with all guns & our tracers from the M.G.'s lit up the beach. We hit many landing craft before they hit the beach, but the M.G's made short work of those that landed. All guns were sighted in to form interlocking bands of fire. That is all accept 1 – 50 cal MG. It had been moved 200 yds to my left the day before and I was unable to protect it with flanking fire. It was captured shortly after the 1st attack. We heard the Japs crying for mercy, telling us to cease fire , they were Filipinos. Ater we had fired approx 1 hr. & we were cleaning out the pits of empty shells, we heard more motors, the second attack. By then the stars were bright and possibly the moon, coming up, I don't remember, but we opened up when the craft were approx 500 yds out & did a better job on them. I doubt if any reached the shore. I'm sure we sunk at least a dozen offshore. This was a larger force, I believe, since we fired more rounds."
     
  16. USMC

    USMC Member

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2009
    Messages:
    464
    Likes Received:
    10
    The question is not what if corregidor held out? it is how long could they hold out?

    [​IMG]


    Possibly if men and materials from Bataan could be evacuated to corregidor, that would bolster the strength of the defenses along with increasing supplies. Although the USN Pacific Fleet smoldered in the recent attack on Pearl Harbor, it's extensive network of submarines and PT Boats could bring in small quantities of supplies to supplement the efforts to defend the fortress. Either way nothing could prevent the eventual take over of the fortress....If IJN personnel couldn't land, then land based bombers and shore artillery in bataan would soften corregidor up for a full landing
     
  17. Falcon Jun

    Falcon Jun Ace

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2007
    Messages:
    1,281
    Likes Received:
    85
    I agree with you entirely, USMC.
    Corregidor's best defense was Bataan. Once that peninsula fell, the Japanese were free to concentrate on Corregidor.
     
  18. A-58

    A-58 Cool Dude

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2008
    Messages:
    8,754
    Likes Received:
    1,560
    Location:
    Baton Rouge, Louisiana
    The question remains; hold out till when? When Mac returns in '44? They better start growing corn or something.
     
  19. USMC

    USMC Member

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2009
    Messages:
    464
    Likes Received:
    10
    Well it all would depend on the quantity of men and material that would be evacuated to corregidor.
     
  20. A-58

    A-58 Cool Dude

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2008
    Messages:
    8,754
    Likes Received:
    1,560
    Location:
    Baton Rouge, Louisiana
    There was really no material to transfer from Bataan to Corregidor. It was all used up, that's why they had to surrender. I mean those boys there were beat. They tried hard, really harder than hard to no avail. What few men that were able to escape to Corregidor just increased the hardships there (little to no food and medical supplies, dwindling ammunition, limited weaponry, etc.). My question still stands (a rhetorical question, not directed at you USMC) hold out until when? There was no attempt to relieve the garrison there, because there was no way to do it without losing most if not all of the ships or subs that took part in the operation. Their days were numbered, and there was nothing that could be done about it, as much as I hate it too.
     

Share This Page