Back to Corregidor Essay - Critical Essays

Back to Corregidor

Gerard M. Devlin is an accomplished practitioner of popular military history. His BACK TO CORREGIDOR is a valuable addition to the literature of World War II. The fall of the Philippines to invading Japanese troops in 1942 was one of the most disastrous defeats in American military history. The island of Corregidor, strategically located as the guardian of Manila Bay, had been the last stronghold of American forces in the Philippines, and its surrender was a humiliation which General Douglas MacArthur had sworn to avenge. He got his chance early in 1945. American troops had begun the liberation of the Philippines in October 1944, and by February of the next year were poised to reopen Manila Bay to Allied shipping. But first Corregidor had to be retaken. MacArthur assigned this mission to a task force composed largely of paratroopers, commanded by Colonel George M. Jones. The Americans devised a daring plan of attack, combining a parachute drop on Corregidor with an amphibious assault.

Unfortunately, Corregidor provided the smallest drop site of any parachute operation of the war. Many men were injured by landing on buildings and other obstacles. Some fell into the sea. Worse, American military intelligence seriously underestimated the number of Japanese defenders on the island, putting the garrison at six hundred men, when, in fact, more than five thousand enemy soldiers awaited the Americans. As a result, an operation which had been expected to last only a few days developed into a battle which dragged on for nearly two weeks. By the time the fighting ended, virtually all the Japanese defenders and more than 450 Americans had died. Drawing heavily on interviews with American survivors of the battle, as well as archival material, Devlin paints a vivid picture of the brutal struggle for Corregidor. His work is a moving tribute to the skill and courage of the men who in reconquering Corregidor redeemed America’s military honor.