Images of War – Corregidor Siege & Liberation 1941-1945 written by John Grehan & Alexander Nicol and published by Frontline Books – £16.99 – Softcover – Pages 216
Singapore and Hong Kong had fallen to the forces of Imperial Japan, Thailand and Burma had been invaded and islands across the Pacific captured. But one place, one tiny island fortress garrisoned by a few thousand hungry and exhausted men, refused to be beaten. That island fortress was Corregidor which guarded the entrance to Manila Bay and controlled all sea-borne access to Manila Harbour. At a time when every news bulletin was one of Japanese success, Corregidor shone as the only beacon of hope in the darkness of defeat.
The Japanese 14th Army of Lieutenant General Masaharu Homma, threw everything it had at Corregidor, officially named Fort Mills. But deep within the island’s rocky heart, a tunnel had been excavated into Malinta Hill and there the US troops, marine, naval and army, endured the terrible onslaught. At their head was General Douglas MacArthur who became a national hero with his resolute determination never to surrender, until ordered to evacuate to Australia to avoid such a senior officer being captured by the enemy. Bur with his departure, the rest of the garrison knew that there was no possibility of relief. They would have to fight on until the bitter end, whatever form that might take.
That end came in May 1942. The defenders were reduced to virtually starvation rations with many of them wounded. Consequently, when, on 5 May the Japanese mounted a powerful amphibious assault, the weakened garrison could defy the enemy no longer. Corregidor, the ‘Gibraltar of the East’, finally fell to the invaders.
The siege of Corregidor had been one of those places I had heard about and that things had been harsh and had been seen as a positively strategic one. But after reading this book it really does capture and convey the might of one small island and it’s defenders because the Japanese literally threw everything at it barring the kitchen sink. The one thing that helped this island was the ability to build a network of tunnels in which the American troops were able to use in order to protect men and equipment. Which then showed when the American’s came back they had to use assault troops rather than heavy bombing which the Japanese had been using in order to get a quicker victory. As usual these books are predominantly about the photos which are all of a high clear standard, some sad, formal, grim, victorionic, jubilant, amusing and more. There are also some good patriotic adverts and patriotic adverts of the time, which I usually find amusing and interesting. A really interesting book that takes you into the fighting and the tunnels too looking at some remarkable people, actions and instances of valour. A great addition to this fine series.