Battle to Recapture Corregidor

U.S. #925 was issued in 1944 to honor those who defended Corregidor until the Japanese captured it in 1942.

On February 16, 1945, the first of 7,000 American troops arrived at Corregidor, ready to retake the important Pacific outpost.

To prevent its complete destruction, Manila was declared an open city when World War II broke out. The Japanese began their invasion of the Philippines on December 8, 1941, ten hours after the Pearl Harbor attack. They destroyed every U.S. aircraft on the ground, forcing the American naval fleet to withdraw.

U.S. #2697d from the 1942: Into the Battle World War II Souvenir Sheet.

Corregidor itself came under siege on December 29, 1941. After a two-hour bombardment, the Japanese destroyed or damaged the hospital, barracks, fuel depot, and officers club. The attacks on Corregidor continued for months. On March 11, 1942, General Douglas MacArthur escaped Corregidor, but boldly stated, “I will return,” promising to come back and save the men he left behind.

Item #56062 – Corregidor First Day Proofcard.

Approximately 76,000 sick and starving American and Filipino defenders left in the Philippines surrendered on Bataan one month later. They were forced on a grueling march to Bataan, during which seven to ten thousand died or were murdered by the Japanese forces.

American leaders saw Corregidor’s recapture as an important step in winning the war. So General MacArthur returned to the Philippines on October 20, 1944, with 174,000 men and 700 vessels.

The Battle for the recapture of Corregidor started on January 23rd with aerial bombing to lessen the Japanese defenses. The aerial bombing lasted for seven days, during which time the U.S. Navy also bombarded the shore.

U.S. #1424 was issued on MacArthur’s 91st birthday.

Then on February 16th, General Douglas MacArthur’s dangerous plan to surprise the Japanese, went into effect. The island was hazardous for paratroopers to land on – especially on the large hill, which was why the Japanese didn’t expect them. This was the vantage point they needed to control to win. At 8:30 in the morning 1,000 paratroopers started to drop from the sky toward the hill named ‘topside.’ They would help defeat the Japanese by taking away their lookout. Then the Japanese wouldn’t have the advantage of seeing and controlling sea bomb attacks.

Though they caught their enemy by surprise, the Japanese quickly regrouped and put up a stiff defense. Around the same time, American infantry waded ashore to establish a beachhead. They spent the next eight days holding off banzai chargers, mortar, and suicide squad attacks. At one point, a group of Japanese troops were trapped in a mountain and chose to blow it and themselves up, rather than surrender. Similar explosions occurred around the island for several days.

U.S. #NO1 – Philippines stamp overprinted for use during Japanese occupation.

The last major conflict was securing Malinta Hill, which took a week of fierce and courageous battle. In the end the Japanese could no longer form organized attacks and the U.S. dominated against the small pockets of resistance left.

Corregidor was declared secure on February 26. The island’s harbor was ready for Allied shipping by March 1.

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    1. You must be born after 1965. Everyone in America who lived thru WWII knew and told of the Bataan Dearh March, which demonstrated the cruelty of Japanese soldiers and their commanders. Those were the survivors of the battle of Corrigador.

  1. So much history, so many sacrifices made for good to triumph over evil. The leaders (and people) of the free world need to stay vigilant as lessons from the past teach us that there may be those that rise to power and lead their people against others. If the Allied nations had stopped the Axis powers early on how many lives could have been spared?

  2. What a great, informative article. I do remember hearing about this in school but it did not have the impact this article did. Thank you, Mystic Stamps.

  3. Yea, “dugout Doug” Macarthur split and did return- at such a terrible cost. poor planning was overcome by courageous soldiers and good luck. A viscous battle. Not to mention the Bataan “death march”. One of the cool stamps printed from the war. One of only four or five stamps issued in that period. The Iwo Jima stamp was the most popular stamp of all time time and until long after the war.

  4. By the way the quote from General McArthur was wrong. It is one of his most famous quotes, “I shall return!”

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