At the start of the war, the US Navy had three very large "V-Class" submarines capable of carrying well over 100 tons of supplies in commission, the USS Narwhal, Argonaught and Nautilus. While a number of smaller "Fleet Boats" came to call at Corregidor during the 1942 siege to unload badly needed food supplies and armaments, in return for torpedoes and fuel, none of the V-Boats were utilized for that same purpose.
I wonder what effect they could have had, should a submarine filled with over 100 tons of concentrated and canned food supplies made regular runs to Corregidor. Sure, it was probably a drop in the bucket, but using a V-Boat's capacity for hauling supplies would be better than using the much smaller Fleet boats that could only carry a tenth of supplies.
Considering their less than effective war records, I believe those three submarines would have been far better utilized in carrying foodstuffs for the starving troops of Bataan, Corregidor and the other fortified islands of Manila Bay.
I just read some stuff from Moreton's Book, "The Fall of the Philippines" and found this:
"The total effort by the submarines added only 53 tons of food to MacArthur's stores--enough for only one meal for two thirds of the men on Bataan--3,500 rounds of 3-inch antiaircraft ammunition, 37 tons of .50-caliber and 1,000,000 rounds of ,30-caliber ammunition, and about 30,000 gallons of diesel oil. In terms of results the effort seemed hardly worthwhile."
I think it would have made a measurable benefit if they had formed a supply train using those bigger submarines you mentioned, a'la Berlin lift. If they brought in canned rations, quinine and other medicines, and 81mm mortar shells, there would have been less misery and the Philippine Division would have been more effective at countering the Japanese.
But I don' t know how much longer in time they would have held out as a result. Probably not that much more, but maybe a couple more hundred could have survived the death march if they were a little bit more fit as a result of the food and medicine.
hey vic....i just wonder how long we could have ran the big subs into corregidor ala "berlin airlift" before the japs really put a blockade around the bay entrance and other approaches to the rock. i always thought we got away with the sub visits that took place was because they were infrequent and quickly done. they did get some key personnel evacuated (code people, nurses, and some higher ranking staff types, gold bullion from the philippine treasury) and i am sure the defenders of the fortress experienced a lift in morale when they viewed an american warship from outside the PI arriving at their beseiged bastion. i know i would have felt a glimmer of hope knowing that there was still a tiny umbilical cord to the states still in operation, regardless how flimsy. just my opinion.
Last Edit: May 20, 2009 10:16:32 GMT -5 by oklahoma
hey vic....i just wonder how long we could have ran the big subs into corregidor ala "berlin airlift" before the japs really put a blockade around the bay entrance and other approaches to the rock. i always thought we got away with the sub visits that took place was because they were infrequent and quickly done. they did get some key personnel evacuated (code people, nurses, and some higher ranking staff types) and i am sure the defenders of the fortress experienced a lift in morale when they viewed an american warship from outside the PI arriving at their beseiged bastion. i know i would have felt a glimmer of hope knowing that there was still a tiny umbilical cord to the states still in operation, regardless how flimsy. just my opinion.
Hi Oklahoma! The Japanese did have ships patroling Manila Bay's entrance and blockading it. In fact, Seaward Approach Commander, Paul Bunker laments in his book that he wished that he had a couple 16" guns on Corregidor with the range needed, so as to pay more attention to those Japanese ships at the harbor mouth..
Even still, the 23 gun batteries on Corregidor alone prevented the Japanese from forcing their way into Manila Bay for the duration of the siege. Only one minor attempt was made by a small Japanese steamer to sneak up on the rear of Fort Drum because it was thought to be undefended. Little did they know that a 3" gun had been installed there but days before and it soon took the steamer under fire, causing it to flee from whence it came.
RE: the submarine visits. They were successful because the subs were unloaded after dark and then, spent the daylight hours sitting at the bottom of Manila Bay, until the cloak of night made it safe for them to surface again to finish unloading.
hey john....i would think that the mine fields were the biggest obstacle to the japs forcing their way into manila bay. of course the coastal batteries were formidable but those mined channels would give pause to any japanese intentions to cruise into cavite and manila proper in my view. i just cant feature frequent visits by fleet subs in a continual and increased volume not causing the enemy to take stronger measures than they already were using. i realize that the USN visitors laid low during daylight hours and surfaced during the evening, but more frequent activity, i gotta believe, would have caused the japs to take more stringent measures against our feeble efforts. again, i really enjoy these senarios that we "corregidor/bataan geeks" can conjecture and mull over. as ole' harry truman said, "hind sight is 20 - 20". i overuse this analogy all the time, but it is so fitting. speaking of that small nip craft getting behind fort drum....wonder how it maneuvered thru the mine field to position itself to the east of the concrete battleship? it could be that the vessel was captured at manila after that city fell, refitted/armed,etc and it steamed out to the little fortress from the east. very clever, these japanese. always looking for an angle to do in the "good guys". anyhow, i continue to look forward to your always interesting posts. i keep hoping that someday that we can finally figure out a way to come out on the winning side way back there in 1942. after all these years, i am still hoping that the guys in the air defense filter center in hawaii will listen to those two radar operators up at the opana mobile site that early morning of dec 7.
Last Edit: May 20, 2009 10:30:16 GMT -5 by oklahoma
I still think they could have made quite a few runs in and could have brought in much needed medicine, food, and critical ammunition. If I remember correctly, the reason why they didn't commit submarines for this duty was because they deemed it a waste of resources. That the subs were better off attacking and sinking Japanese ships than ferrying supplies.
I just can't help but think how the Philippine Division had 81mm mortars but many units had just about 10 rounds for them such that they were hoarded and ineffective as a result. I remember reading how the Scouts while counter-attacking the Japanese breakthrough during the last days -- used 5 of their precious 10 rounds of 81mm ammunition. The five rounds had devastating results to the Japanese and the Scouts were able to attack and reduce a Japanese position. If they only had more of these ammunition brought in via submarine.... it couldn't have hurt their sorry situation.
Also the medicines, quinine, vitamin pills that could have been brought in could have done wonders to the health of the men. Being able to prevent or suppress malaria and prevent nutritional deficiences might not have been able to prolong the campaign but they could have prevented many deaths during the death march and incarceration. Medicine doesn't take much space, if they had brought in several submarine loads of those, many more could have survived.
What if... what if... everytime I read a book about it I find myself hoping for a different outcome but it's always the same haha!
Another thing that I've never been able to figure out. Why did the submarines unload only at Corregidor? I'm sure there was plenty of available dockage at Maraveles, or perhaps in the same cove that the USS Canopus was anchored in. That was where the greatest need for food, medicine and ammuntion was, not on Corregidor. "The Rock" had ample supplies of all the above and needed little, except for that shipment of 3", mechanically fuzed anti aircraft shells that was delivered by submarine for their flak batteries.
Does anyone know which of Corregidor's docks were used to unload the submarines on? One account tells of a navy minelayer being used to transfer supplies from the submarine. I couldn't understand why they didn't use the docks themselves.
i have always had the impression that the subs unloaded at the south dock. dont remember if i actually read or heard that this dock was used or just formed that opinion out of thin air. as for using the subs in 1942 to sink japanese shipping....i guess that seemed like the logical, strategic choice, but the 1942 torpedo performance was so dismal that stalking enemy shipping and warships could justly be labeled a waste of resources in many cases. i bring up "greek tragedy" again to describe this dismal, but heroic (on the part of the defenders) period in our military history. i understand that as long as bataan was in amer/filipino hands that small naval craft (minelayers, gunboats,etc were sheltered in mariveles and under the guns of corregidor's north shore. i have also been under the impression that the water in the north channel was deeper than the off shore waters between fort hughes and fort mills (corregidor). in fact, the waters between fort hughes and corregidor is shallow enough that scuba divers have dove to retrieve loose silver philippine pesos that were dumped just prior to the surrender. seems doubtful that larger vessels such as minelayers or gunboats would be in this south shore area until the southern shore of bataan was manned by japanese artillery batteries. after bataan's demise it would seem logical for any friendly vessel to shun the north channel waters and scoot around to the sheltering south side of the rock. all this is just conjecture on my part, but aint it fun to conjecture about this highly interesting and intriguing subject. sometimes i think i am "losing it" because i have been hung up on this subject since i was 10 years old. now most folks would consider that "weird".
Maybe Bataan's dock was too shallow or littered with half sunken ships. I think Correigodr stored many of Bataan's supplies anyway. They release these supplies and ferry them to Bataan. They did release more food to Bataan very late in the game. They didn't reach the troops. Many of them were unloaded and piled on Mariveles beaches I think.
Okla, well you were alive at that time of Bataan and Corregidor.... you have the best connection with history among all of us
Post by rickthelibrarian on May 21, 2009 8:26:59 GMT -5
If you don't mind me putting on my librarian cap (although, actually we weren't supposed to be wearing caps in my library! ;D ), there was an interesting book published almost 40 years ago, called, Destination Corregidor, by Rober Underbrink, by the U.S. Naval Institute Press.
It detailed all the attempts to resupply Corregidor and the other islands, as well as the several attempts to evacuate key personnel. Obviously, it does not have a happy ending, but if you want to read more on this subject, Underbrink's book does the best job.
It is long out of print, but there are many copies available online on the used book market, starting in the $9.00 range. Check addall.com in the used and out of print section.
Another book, which mainly concentrates on submarine resupply efforts post-Bataan/Corregidor, is Guerrilla Submarines, which was published in the early 1970s and written by Edward Dissette. I have a paperback copy.
Most historians of the U.S. submarine war, looking through the cold magnifying glass of history, consider the submarine resupply efforts a waste of time and resources, which could have been better used (in their opinions, not mine) fighting the Japanese.
hey librarian...i am almost certain that i read the robert underbrink book many years ago. as i remember, it was very informative and with the aid of hindsight showed that our resupply efforts were not very effective. i still have to believe, though, that these efforts, regardless of how small the results, were a morale booster. there is no question that the evacuation of key personnel (key, for the most part) was worth the trip up to the rock from australia. we had to get the code people out, all the nurses that we could extract, and staff types. i remember the fixation we had about the nurses. it wasnt that far removed from 1937 and the infamous rape of nanking atrocity. as it turned out the nurses were fairly well treated (by japanese standards) through out their internment. malnutrition,etc was prevalent, but there were no rapes or brutalization that i have ever been made aware of. of course, in early 1942 we didnt know how things might transpire. it was imperative that the code and crypto personnel be taken out. as vic has said, more medicine could and should have been taken in instead of trying to get enough food thru to bataan. those subs couldnt carry enough foodstuffs to make a lick of difference in the sorry situation that existed. a lot of medicine could have been furnished instead, methinks. as vic also has said, some of the bataan death march participants might have been in a bit better physical shape when they began that ordeal if more meds had been available early in the hostilities on the peninsula. again, we have the 20 - 20 hindsight thing. i always enjoy and appreciate your contributions to this forum.
Last Edit: May 21, 2009 15:50:27 GMT -5 by oklahoma
hey all....one thing we havent touched on in this discussion of resupply efforts to the bataan/corregidor defenders was the small blockade running ships that made a few highly unsucessful efforts to penetrate the phillipines. i dont remember how many actually made it to cebu city only to have what they did deliver destroyed before the surrender of the visayan islands. i could look it up, but i am sure that one of our regular posters has it at his fingertips. these efforts remind me of the "runners" of civil war times although the 1860s guys were much more effective. if memory serves only one or two made it to cebu. the few others (i dont know how many) were sunk or turned back as i remember from what i have read. feel free to correct me if i am in error which i probably am. it bugs me no end that this whole depressing episode ended on such a down note. those poor souls in the PI were doomed from the outset. i viewed everyone of the survivors that i served with in the USAF during the korean war as almost Godlike. i hope it didnt show since it would have been rather embarassing. i am sure that they hated to see me coming since i pestered them to death with questions. on the other hand some of them, at least, might have appreciated the fact that there was a few of us out their who knew who they were and what they had done and gone thru in the service of their country (with the deck stacked against them, at that).
hey vic...most, if not all, would answer the questions put to them, but most would never bring the subject up themselves. there was this one soldier who served in, 31st infantry US, who probably saw more close up combat than any of the other people i knew (except one other who was an ex-scout) and he would never go into any detail. he had to have been on the abucay line etc. and the other operations of the 31st. he was never in hospital so Sgt leroy becraft was up to his eyeballs in the bataan campaign. i have posted, either on this board or the corregidor one, about sgt becraft being (finally) presented with the bronze star in 1953. it was the only formal parade that i stood in my 4 year hitch in the air force that i didnt resent having to do. i would still stand parade for any of those guys and be danmed glad to do it to this day. the paper work finally caught up to him. the ex-scout that i previously mentioned was in one of the scout regiments, but i dont know whether it was the 45th or 57th. when i served with mister (warrant officer) lono i didnt know enough about details such as unit numbers to ask him. he was our squadron (USAF) supply officer at wolters AFB texas. i so hoped that some night when i was CQ and mister lono was the OD i might pick his brain, but it never came about that we caught this detail on the same night. i have mentioned, either on this board or the corregidor one, about this ex=scout. he was a swell guy and i was privileged to have been in the same squadron with him. the only thing i know about him was that he was taken prisoner on bataan when genl king surrendered, but escaped from the death march and was a guerilla for the rest of the war. he remained in the US army after 1945 and went into the USAF when it became a separate branch in 1947. i have given a rundown on each of the men i knew in previous posts. they all had interesting stories and backgrounds. sgt becraft and mister lono were the only two that were infantry combat vets of the Philippine campaign. one guy who i served with in korea was an ex-waist gunner on one of the ill fated B-17s at clark (later married a japanese girl in 1949 while on occupation duty in japan), one was an anti aircraft gunner (probably 60th CA) on corregidor. the circumstances of the others, i cant recall. of course, i have posted on more than one occasion about my niece in law's grandfather. ironic that he served in the same regiment as the esteemed sergeant becraft. strangely enough, i learned on this website that lieutenant ed ramsay, the leader of the last charge ever made by US horse cavalry, attended the oklahoma military academy which was located in my hometown of claremore, oklahoma, graduating back in 1937 (i think). didnt know this until i saw it on this website. he is, of course, one of that former school's most illustrious alumni. the institution is strictly a small state coed school now, but as a kid i well remember the fact that they had horses, stables, etc until the outbreak of WW II. after the conflict the school slowly evolved into a regular institution of coed education. i have rattled on too long. always great to shoot the breeze with you. i will never, i guess, get enough of the 1942 philippine campaign. postscript....yes, they got juanita redmond out and cute she was. if need be i would have sent a task force built around the USS Enterprise to fetch miz juanita home. just joking. with the rape of nanking and the brit nurses at hong kong fresh in our minds they did what they could to get out as many as possible. i can understand that some of those left behind harbored some resentment about the young, cute ones getting out while the older, plain ones stayed behind. i have never viewed that many close up pics of the stranded nurses, but i gotta believe that there were a few "lookers" destined for santo tomas. do you know how long the filipina nurses were kept in confinement????i am aware that the members of the philippine army were released from odonnell later in 1942 or early 1943. were the scouts released with this group or kept in the prison pens for a longer stretch since they were "elite" regular US army troops???i like to think i know a little bit about the subject at hand, but with each passing day i realize more and more that i dont know jack sh@#$t as do you, fots,battery boy,the phantom, john bryan and others.
Last Edit: May 23, 2009 10:02:52 GMT -5 by oklahoma
Here's some interesting stuff taken from Morton's Book "Fall of the Philippines."
"The voyage of the Coast Farmer was more successful. She finally put in at a Mindanao port fifteen days after leaving Brisbane. The Dona Nati and the Anhui also made the trip successfully, arriving at Cebu in mid-March. These were the only vessels to reach the Philippines; they brought in more than 10,000 tons of rations, 4,000,000 rounds of small-arms ammunition, 8,0000 rounds of 81-mm ammunition, and miscellaneous medical, signal, and engineer supplies. The two Chinese ships of British registry chartered to carry the Mormacsun cargo left Fremantle in February, but the crews mutinied when dangerous waters were reached and brought the two vessels back to Darwin where they were unloaded. On 14 February the Dutch released four old freighters to Colonel Robenson for use on the Philippine run. By offering large bonuses and other financial inducements, he persuaded the Chinese crew of one of these vessels to make the voyage. It finally left on 26 February with a cargo of 720,000 rations, but was never heard from again. The others never left port.
The unloading of the three ships that successfully completed the voyage to southern Philippine ports left their cargoes far from the battlefield. From Mindanao and Cebu the supplies still had to be transported northward through the inland seas to Manila Bay. For this leg of the journey fast interisland motor ships were used. The need for such a transport system had been recognized early in the campaign and General harp, commander of the Visayan-Mindanao Force, had requisitioned the best of the small boats. Altogether, about twenty-five boats, ranging in capacity from 300 to 1,000 tons, were chartered.
The plan for running the blockade through the inland seas provided for the transfer of the cargo brought in from Australia and the Netherlands Indies to the smaller interisland craft. This would be done at night, at places rarely visited by the Japanese air and surface patrols. The small boats would then move northward in easy stages, traveling during the hours of darkness only. American officers would be placed aboard each vessel with orders to make certain that a real effort was made to run the blockade and to scuttle the ship rather than let it fall into enemy hands.
The plan called also for the transportation to Corregidor of such food as could be procured locally--rice, sugar, fruits, coffee, and meat. In Manila Bay, for example, two 400-ton motor ships picked up the food collected by agents in southern Luzon and ran it across the bay to Corregidor. These two vessels were able to make several round trips, raising the total quantity of rice stocks by 1,600 tons. But the bulk of the ships and supplies came from Cebu where the Army Transport Service and the Cebu Advance Depot were located. Originally estlabished
to issue supplies received from Luzon, the Cebu depot became the central collection point for supplies to be shipped to Bataan and Corregidor. Procurement offices were set up in the Visayas and in Mindanao and vast quantities of material were gathered. To these were added the food and equipment from Australia. By 10 April, when the Japanese occupied Cebu City, the depot had on hand a twelve-month food supply for the troops on Cebu and Panay and a least a six-month supply for the men on the other islands. in the hills and in scattered warehouses were another 12,000 tons of food, medicine, gasoline, and other supplies. Only a small portion of the supplies gathered so painfully and hoarded so carefully in the south ever reached Manila Bay. The total could not have been more than a few thousand tons. The Legaspi, with a capacity of 1,000 tons, was the first of the interisland steamers to make the journey safely. On 22 January she brought a cargo of rice and other food from Panay to Corregidor, and in February completed another trop. On 1 March, while she was on her third trip, she was sunk by a Japanese gunboat off the north coast of Mindoro and her crew captured.
Late in February the Princessa made the run from Cebu to Corregidor with a cargo of 700 tons of food. At Mindanao the 2,500 tons of rations and 2,000 rounds of 81-mm. ammunition from the Coast Farmer were transferred to the Elcano and Lepus. The first got through to Manila Bay, but the Lepus was captured off Palawan on 28 February. The cargoes of the Dona Nati and Anhui were loaded for transshipment at Cebu, but the ships failed to break through the tightening Japanese blockade. Ten of the interisland steamers were sunk by the enemy or scuttled by their crews to avoid capture, resulting in the loss of 7,000 tons of food, petroleum, and other miscellaneous supplies.
In terms of supplies delivered to the battlefield, the blockade-running program from Australia and the Netherlands Indies was a dismal failure. Of the 10,000 tons of rations which reached Mindanao and Cebu only about 1,000 tons--a four-day supply for the 100,000 soldiers and civilians on Bataan--reached Manila Bay. Even more distressing was the condition of the food when it finally reached the men. The containers in which the food was packed had broken open and the holds of the ships contained a miscellaneous pile of canned goods. All of it had to be sorted and repacked before it could be issued to the troops. Practically all the paper labels on the cans were destroyed so that they could not be identified without opening them. Flour and sugar sacks had broken open and the contents were spread loosely among the cans. Shovels had to be used to get these precious commodities back into new sacks. Onions and potatoes, piled on the decks during the voyage through tropical waters, were rotted and had to be destroyed almost before the eyes of the starving men. These "heart-breaking" conditions resulted in delays in unloading and, what was much worse, considerable loss of food to the weakened and hungry garrison. "
Once again I say, Imagine what could have happened had those three huge V-boat submarines, Nautilus, Narwhal and Argonaught been used to ferry supplies from Cebu to Corregidor? I'm not sure of the distance between Cebu to Luzon, but I would imagine that it would be much closer than that to Brisbane, Australia to Luzon and those submarines could make the voyage in only a few days. If they left their torpedoes behind on Cebu, they could carry alot more than 100 tons of badly needed supplies on a single blockade running mission. The subs would also be alot safer than the freighters that were tasked with running the Japanese blockade because of their ability to submerge.
What's more is that the turn around time would be minimal and the next trip could be quickly repeated in a matter of days.
Last Edit: May 23, 2009 18:38:08 GMT -5 by johnbryan
hey john....there is a pic of nurse redmond on the cover of her book "i served on bataan". somewhere on this site. vic, i believe was the poster. this photo, i suppose, was a very glamorous picture in its day. the hair style is dated as he11, but for its time i guess it was very "in". she obviously was an attractive gal. there is a group photo in the book "band of angels" depicting a group of nurses plucked from corregidor that includes juanita redmond. using a "sherlock holmes" magnifying glass" to zero in on her, one can readily see that she was not lacking in the "good looks" category. i wish i could remember the topic that prompted the posting of the book cover photo. it should be fairly easy for someone with your expertise to discover. according to the book "band of angels" she was a major in the army nurse corps in the pacific theater when her compatriots were returning to the states after their rescue from santo tomas. she was treated rather coldly by some of her former comrads. i guess i can understand that, but i can surely understand her not refusing genl wainwright's decision to include her in the escape to australia. i suppose there are some who think she should have said, "he11 no, i wont go". i realize that the nurse who was second in command to head nurse captain maude davidson did refuse the offer to leave, but different folks have different strokes. i know of no other angel of mercy who didnt take advantage of the opportunity to go south. it is an interesting human interest angle, though.