In Feb 2011 I had the opportunity to fly over Corregidor in the ABC helicopter on a flight from Puerto Galera to Angeles City.  This page contains photos from that flight along with some historical information.

 The view from the front seat of the ABC helicopter is awesome

 

 As we approached Corregidor from the south I got my best look at Ft Drum since I first heard about it.

EL FRAILE - This small islet, also known as Fort Drum, is about 6.5 miles south-southeast from Corregidor and is less than an acre in size. American engineers razed the tiny rock to the water line and a thick concrete casemate was constructed around it to create an impregnable fortress. It was made to look like a concrete battleship thrusting its bow into the China Sea. Two massive 14-inch twin-gun turrets, one above the other, were set up in its front as well as four 6-inch rifles at its rear. A cage mast topped by a searchlight and a caretaker's shack on the stern completed the ship-like effect. The challenging engineering feat of building Fort Drum took from 1909 to 1919. It has been said that the booming salvos from the "concrete battleship" provided more support for the defenders and more trouble for the Japanese attackers than any other installation in the harbor defenses.

After the outbreak of war in the Pacific on December 7, 1941, Fort Drum withstood heavy Japanese air and land bombardment as it supported U.S. and Filipino defenders on Bataan and Corregidor. Fort Drum surrendered to Japanese forces following the fall of Corregidor Island on May 6, 1942 and was subsequently occupied by Japanese forces. In 1945 as part of the offensive to recapture Manila, Ft Drum was assaulted by US forces. After a heavy aerial and naval bombardment, US troops gained access to the deck of the fort on 13 April, and were able to confine the garrison below. Rather than attempting to break in, the troops and engineers adapted the solution first used some days earlier in the assault of mortar forts on Caballo island (Fort Hughes). There the troops "pumped two parts Diesel oil and one part gasoline" into mortar pits, stood off, and ignited it with tracer bullets. A similar technique at Fort Drum used air vents on the top deck, but a timed fuse was used rather than tracer fire. On ignition this annihilated the remaining Japanese. With the bay forts neutralized, including Fort Drum, Japanese resistance in the Manila Bay area was ended. The ruins of Fort Drum, including its disabled turrets and 14 inch guns, remain at the mouth of Manila Bay.

More information: CLICK HERE

 Corregidor with Bataan in the distance

 Bottomside & the south dock

 Bottomside with Malinta Hill to the right

 Topside

 Topside and the mile-long barracks

Topside - is the highest geographic sector in the island where the terrain elevation above sea level ranges from about 400 feet and higher. Topside is said to be the nerve center of the island fortress. It is here where you will find the ruins of the following buildings: Mile-Long Barracks, Post Headquarters, Cine Corregidor, and a number of buildings previously used as quarters for bachelor officers as well as the senior officers of the garrison. All the major gun emplacements are also located around this high ground. The parade ground, a small golf course, the old Spanish flagpole, and the reconstructed Spanish lighthouse are similarly located at Topside. The more recently constructed buildings and structures that are now found at Topside include the following: The Pacific War Memorial Dome, sculpture of the Eternal Flame of Freedom, and a museum.

Mile-Long Barracks - This is a three-story concrete building which was constructed to be hurricane-proof. It was used for the billeting of American officers and enlisted personnel detailed at the garrison. The entire length of the building measures about 1,520 feet that it became popularly known as the world's longest military barracks. Although it is just less than a third of a mile long, it was, however, commonly referred to as the Mile-Long Barracks. The headquarters of Gen. Douglas MacArthur was also located in this building.

Pacific War Memorial - The memorial was erected to honor of the Filipino and American servicemen who participated in the Pacific War. Financed with an appropriation by the United States Congress, it was completed in 1968. The major memorial structure is a rotunda in which a circular altar falls directly under the dome's open center through which light falls on the altar during daylight hours. The altar symbolizes a wreath of victory with the following words inscribed on its rim: "Sleep, my sons, your duty done, for Freedom's light has come; sleep in the silent depths of the sea, or in your bed of hallowed sod, until you hear at dawn the low, clear reveille of God." The memorial also houses a museum which serves as the repository of relics and memorabilia related to the history of Corregidor.

 Mile-long barracks and parade field

 Topside hospital

Battery Grubbs - Work on this battery started from November 1907 and it saw completion early in 1909. It was named in honor of 1st Lieutenant Hayden Y. Grubbs who belonged to the 6th U.S. Infantry and who died during the insurrection in the islands in 1899. Battery Grubbs was armed with two 10-inch guns mounted on disappearing carriages and located well inland in the west central part of Corregidor. This gun emplacement was intended to fire to the northwest. At the start of the Second World War the battery was not originally manned. It was put into active service in early April 1942 but was quickly knocked out of service and subsequently abandoned.

 Battery Smith

 Battery Cheney

 Neither of the above battery's are easily accessible to ground visitors
 Topside from the west end of the island

 The Spanish Lighthouse

 Great view of Malinta tunnel and "Tail End"

Spanish Lighthouse - At its current site, the original lighthouse was built by the Spaniards in 1836. Sixty-one years later a need for a much bigger lighthouse was conceived which led to the erection of another structure to replace the old one. However, the lighthouse was destroyed during World War II. The current lighthouse was constructed on the same site at an elevation of 628 feet above sea level. Being the highest point in the island, visitors who climb up the stairs of the lighthouse can have a breathtaking view of Corregidor, Manila Bay, the South China Sea, and the neighboring provinces of Bataan and Cavite. Beside the lighthouse is a small gift shop where visitors can buy souvenirs.

Bottomside - generally, this sector encompasses the lower part of the island. Except for the current location of Corregidor Hotel, the terrain is mostly a flat stretch of land where the elevations measured above sea level are lower than 100 feet. Landmarks such as the North and South Dock, Lorcha Dock, and the former site of Barrio San Jose are found at Bottomside. Among the more recently reconstructed buildings, parks, and structures found in this area are: Administration Building, Gen. MacArthur Park, San Jose Chapel, Gen. Wainwright Park, a basketball and tennis court, and Corregidor Hotel.

 Corrigedor Hotel and Malinta tunnel entrance

 Malinta tunnel entrance

To the east of Bottomside a hill rises abruptly to an elevation of 390 feet. Called "Malinta," it severs Bottomside from the tail end of the island. The North and South Shore roads curved from its slopes and girdled the hill and ran on down the curving tadpole tail. To facilitate passage and to create a bombproof shelter, the Americans drove a shaft from a rock quarry at Bottomside directly through the hill, creating the famous Malinta Tunnel. Construction of the tunnel took about 10 years. Work was initially started in 1922 and it was substantially completed in 1932.

Its construction, without benefit of new equipment or funds apportioned by the United States Congress due to agreements reached during the Washington Naval Conference, began in 1922 and was completed in 1932. The Army Corps of Engineers rented obsolete equipment from Baguio gold miners for a nominal fee and made do with condemned TNT from the Ordnance Department. The explosive delivered was in powder form, and had to be wrapped into makeshift cartridges using magazine pages, which were placed into holes drilled into the rock. Labor was provided by the Philippine Commonwealth in the form of 1,000 convicts from the Bilibid Prison in Manila. A company of engineers from the Philippine Scouts worked on the construction as foremen and clerks.

Ironically, the cement for concrete used to line the tunnels with was bought from the Japanese.

The 835 feet long East-West passage served as the main tunnel which is 24 feet wide and the height at the top of its arch is 18 feet. Branching from it are 13 laterals on its north side and another 11 laterals on the south side. Each lateral averaged 160 feet and 15 feet in length and width, respectively. A double-track electric trolley line used to run through the main tunnel which is reinforced with concrete walls, a concrete floor, and overhead arches. Blowers were installed to allow the circulation of fresh air.

The tunnel had been dug through solid rock and offered complete protection from artillery or air attack. Command communications and medical units were located there. Gen. MacArthur set up the headquarters of USAFFE inside the tunnel where men and women would live and work during the siege of Corregidor. The tunnel was originally designed to house huge quantities of ammunition, food and supplies, and an underground hospital with a 1,000-bed capacity. The location of the tunnel beneath Malinta Hill made it ideal as a bomb-proof headquarters for the embattled Filipino and Americans defenders of Corregidor during World War II. During the siege of Corregidor, a number of shops and storage areas were added.

More history of Corregidor and Malinta Tunnel: CLICK HERE

 The north docks of Corregidor

 

For more information on the ABC Hotel: CLICK HERE.  For more information on helicopter flights: CLICK HERE