Corregidor – The facts behind the movie

Corregidor – The facts behind the movie
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Title: Corregidor

Released 1943

Starring: Otto Kruger, Elissa Landi, Donald Woods

Produced by Dixon R. Harwin and Edward Finny

Directed by William Nigh

Written and Screenplay by Doris Malloy and Edgar Ulmer

Technical Advisor: none listed

Service/Regiment: “the Battle of Corregidor”

Plot: The Japanese invade the Philippines on the wedding day of the two main characters – both doctors – forcing them to flee on foot to Manoi, where they volunteer their medical skills to take care of American and Filipino wounded as the Japanese mercilessly pound the island. There is slight (if not flat out confusing) intrigue provided by the arrival of the couple’s best friend/ex-lover Michael and a sweet and tragic romance between a gunner and a nurse.

Themes: Democracy is worth dying for. Valor of both the Philippine and American forces was indomitable, and lived on despite the inevitable slaughter and defeat by the Japanese.

Negatives: This cheesy story, often interspersed with dull political-type speeches about honor and glory and democracy and good versus evil was a shameful reflection of the truth of the Battle of Corregidor. In hand-to-hand combat scenes, the American and Filipino soldiers sounded like they were at a rambunctious and fun football game. It was disconcerting because it gave the impression they were all having a great shindig instead of being slaughtered. Also confusing - suddenly, the married doctors were in Army uniforms. And speaking of uniforms, rank insignias changed with no rhyme nor reason. It was obvious there was no technical advisor on staff.

The Facts Behind the Movie

The Japanese air attack on the Philippines began Dec. 8, 1941 and landed at Aparri and Luzon on Dec. 10. Main forces landed Dec. 22. On Jan. 7, 1942, General McArthur pulled the US and Philippine troops back into the Bataan Peninsula, Corregidor Island, and three other smaller islands in Manila Bay. MacArthur was removed to Australia on March 12 and the command was handed to General Wainwright. He held the islands until May 6.

The 14th Japanese Imperial Army, led by Lt. General Masaharu Homma was given the task of occupying Manila Harbor – considered the finest natural harbor in the Pacific. Masaharu was given two months to accomplish this task. To do so, they had to take Corregidor. Three and a half miles long and one and a half miles wide, and looking exactly like a little tadpole from space, Corregidor was a network of underground tunnels and impressively defensive armaments.

Bataan fell on April 9, 1942. A week later, the combined strength of the islands, including US Army, Philippine Scouts, Philippine Army, US Marine Corps, US Navy, Philippine Navy, and civilians was approximately 14,728. They had no supplies and no hope for reinforcements. They were given thirty ounces of food a day and water only twice a day. When the mules were killed by artillery or bombing, their bodies were used for food. Disease ran rampant and casualties were horrific in number as well as nature.

In a radio transmission to President Roosevelt on May 6, 1942, General Wainwright stated, “There is a limit of human endurance and that point has long been passed.” At noon, he surrendered to the Japanese.

Four thousand of the eleven thousand American and Filipino prisoners of war from Corregidor were marched through the streets of Manila and placed in Fort Santiago and Bilibid Prison. The US Army and Navy nurses, called the “Angels of Bataan and Corregidor” continued working at the 1,000 bed underground hospital in Corregidor and were then sent to various Japanese POW camps.

General Masaharu Homma was relieved of command because it took him five months to capture the Philippines, instead of the expected two. In those sacrificial five months, Imperial Japan's plan to take over Australia was slowed immeasurably.

The US and Filipino Army recaptured Corregidor in 1945.

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