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Some of its laterals were so secret only those working there knew of their existence, and even they were blindfolded to and from each work shift. Things changed after the war broke out. 

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This picture taken from Ordnance Point shows the South Coast of Corregidor, with Camp Point in the right foreground,  Malinta Hill in midground, and Topside in the background. South Dock, said by MacArthur to be the site of his departure, can be seen. In all likelihood, MacArthur left from the Lorcha Dock. His reminiscences weren't always reliable.



"My new headquarters was located in an arm of the Malinta Tunnel. Carved deep in the rock, the central tunnel was actually the terminal point of a streetcar line. Other passages had been hewn out of the rock and these now housed hospital wards, storerooms, and ammunition magazines. The headquarters was bare, glaringly lighted, and contained only the essential furniture and equipment for administrative procedures.

MacArthur, "Reminiscences"


The USAFFE Headquarters  was situated in Lateral No. 3, which was bare except for a row of desks and a minimum of office equipment. Pieces of cardboard had to be placed over documents lying on desks to keep off the seepage that occasionally dripped through the rock ceilings.

mlnttunl.JPG (64334 bytes) During 1998 the Corregidor Foundation enhanced the eastern end of Malinta with  faux sandbagging  and mounted two heavy Japanese MG's within them. Nice Touch.

The labyrinth of tunnels that the Army engineers had gouged and blasted out of Malinta Hill was a marvel of durable construction that enabled it to endure a fearful beating and still be the Rock's single most fascinating surviving attraction. Begun as a public works project in the late 1920's,  it's real purpose as a bomb proof storage and personnel shelter was known only to the Chief of Coastal Artillery. The main tunnel, completed in 1932, was 1450 feet long and 30 feet wide at it's base. The walls arched up to a domed ceiling at a height of 20 feet, and the walls, floors and overhead arches of all the laterals were of reinforced concrete.  The island's electric streetcar ran on dual tracks through the main tunnel. It's laterals were glaringly lit by fluorescent  lights.

In anticipation of the necessity of moving the seat of both the civil and military governing apparatus to a secure site, in June 1941, the Engineer's Office of the Philippine Department sent Captain Arnold Boettcher to Corregidor to to design and build the required facilities for the senior civilian and military officials oft he Philippines. Armed with precise instructions about his mission, Boettcher, his surveyors, and engineer crew blasted five new laterals off the main tunnel under Malinta Hill. In contrast to the grim austerity of the other facilities under the hill, these laterals were painted and furnished cots, tables, chairs, rugs and desks. Constructions continued even until the declaration of war.

Malinta's tunnels were uninhabitable if they were not ventilated by power driven blowers. 

Many of the laterals on the southern side, and particularly the Navy Tunnel laterals,  are closed off by the rock and debris of the Japanese defence, exploded in a mass suicide during February 1945. Many of the laterals  were never cleared, and beyond the plugged throats that one still encounters in those laterals, hundreds of Japanese defenders still lay entombed.

There is a division between the men in the batteries and the 'tunnel rats', as well as the one between the Corregidoros and the refugees from Bataan
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In 1978, there was a landslide at the Western Entrance, which made one recognize how dangerous Malinta Hill actually was. Malinta was fairly rough at the time too, which was nice.

These men, whether Filipinos or Americans, were frankly tired of war. Gaunt, unshaven, dirty, wrapped in a sullen despair, they squatted silently on the tunnel curbs by day. By night, they stretched out on their scraps of blankets or on the bare cement, across the path of trucks and cars. They cluttered up the neat tunnels with their heterogeneous possessions, with the garbage and wreckage of war.

Yet it was impossible to clear them out for they had a certain tired stubbornness that  defied command or insult. And it was equally impossible to allow them to remain, not only because they made normal traffic in the tunnels difficult, but principally because their shame and despair was contagious - it was a sinsiter and insidious disease that daily infected and drew closer to them the garrison of Corregidor.

Leon Guerrero, "The Last Days of Corregidor", Philippine Review, May 1943

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Malinta 1998

By 1998, a "restoration" of sorts had been completed.  Research would have shown that in the laterals at least, fluorescent lights (an invention of a Filipino engineer named 'Flores') were utilised.  Once again, historical accuracy is sacrificed for the purpose of a tourist drama.  It would have been better display for the recreators of history to be accurate on both counts, as the life in the laterals was overcrowded, acrid, oppressive and pervaded by a sense of false hoped helplessness.  At the best of times, the tunnels were hot, dusty and filled with the stench of bodies, vermin and large blue flies. During air raids, with the power off, they were foul and almost unbearably hot.

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The second lateral on the right-hand side from the Eastern Entrance leads to the hospital laterals, which appear to have largely survived intact.  They're used for the "special" visitors and the main lateral is hung with a series of photographs of the political events connected with the island and of President Quezon.

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During the night of  23rd February 1945 the Japs inside the tunnel began to explode ammunition deep inside the mountain.  Trapped in the tunnels of Malinta, the Japanese were making their most serious attempt to demolish Malinta Hill. In the early morning hours, seven explosions, all in quick succession, threatened to tear the hill asunder. Foxholes crumbled, flames belched from every hole in the central and northern portions of the hill, and with it belched corpses blown out by the blast, and men driven out into American fire and death. It was devastation - stark, awe inspiring, terrifying. 

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Lost Corregidor

Field Notes

Angels of Mercy

Eco Corregidor






GHQ (home)

The Siege of Corregidor

A Walk on Tailside

Bulletin Board / Feedback Forum

Coast Artillery - Contents

Corregidor Railway System


John Moffitt's Aerial Gems

Historic Corregidor

Amid th' Encircling Gloom

Battery Way model

Across The Pacific - Photo story

Secret Corregidor

The Silent War

The Great Manila Bay Silver Operation

Corregidor Railways

Units and Personnel

Gold is also Ballast

The Corregidor Massacre 1968

The King Report

Fort. Drum - Concrete Battleship

The Fall of Corregidor

Prisoner of the Emperor

The Officer's Guide - 1941

Order of Battle

The Lowering of the Flag


Battery Tables

The Moore Report

Battery Histories - "Hartford"

G-1 Command Post

Philippine Scouts - Best of the Best

Battery Histories

A Critical Reminiscence

The Final Line of Defense

An Interview with Col. Massello


Japan Invades the Philippines

Building Malinta Tunnel System

The Retaking of Fort Drum


Total Attack - Corregidor

The Coast Artillery Years

The Battle of Manila

Col. George Ruhlen's Collection


Field Notes


4th Marines Shanghai / Corregidor

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