43rd BG, 64h BS
January 27, 1945
USAF April 12, 1945
US Army April 13, 1945
US Army 1945
Dan Lantzy 1987
Justin Taylan 2004
Tony Feredo 2006
Fort Drum is located on El Fraile Island in Manila Bay.
During April 1909 construction of a fortification began on El Fraile Island. Named "Fort Drum" in honor of U. S. Army Brigadier General Richard C. Drum who died on October 15, 1909 while the fort was under construction. During the construction, El Fraile Island was leveled. The fort was completed during 190 and included several gun batteries with 14" guns designed specifically for the fortress, anti-aircraft guns and seven generators to provide electricity. As the finished fort was shaped like a warship, the island was dubbed "the concrete battleship".
During 1941, before the start of the Pacific War, the garrison was increased to 200 men, commanded by Lt. Col. Lewis S. Kirkpatrick and Captain Samuel Madison in charge of the batteries, by the summer of 1941, the fort was ready for action.
Defense of Manila Bay
At the start of the war, Japanese aircraft bombed the island, but warships kept their distance. Heavily bombed on January 2, 1942. Heavy bombardment commenced February 6, 1942 and American defenders was knocker down as it was perceived to be an aiming point. Heavier bombardments on March 15, 16 and 21st, but were not able to destroy the 14" guns. In May during the Japanese landings on Corregidor, Fort Drum's guns fired upon the landing barges and assembly area, firing over 100 rounds.
The Fort was ordered to surrender at 11:40 on May 6, 1942 at noon that same day. The garrison was informed of the surrender, and was willing to fight on, but lack of food supplies warranted their surrender. In the last 20 minutes, the garrison watered down the power stores with seawater, damaged the guns and destroyed the electric generators. The island was surrendered and the damage to the fort never repaired by the Japanese. Occupied by the Japanese for the next two years until 1945. Kirkpatrick died as a POW.
The island was the last position in Manila Bay held by the Japanese. The island was defended by 65 survivors from Battleship Musashi. A US Navy PT Boat ventured ashore in late February 1945 was fired on, killing one and wounding another on the crew.
It was not until April 1945 that a bombardment by Cruiser USS Phoenix and and aerial bombing commenced. The US Army 151st Infantry Regiment, F Company and a platoon of demolition men from 113th Engineers B Company, to seize the island as they had against a mortar pit on Caballo Island.
April 1945 Assault
Attacked on April 13, 1945 at 10:00am. After the deck was secured, 3,000 gallons of diesel oil was pumped into the fort, and explosives set. Thirty minutes later, the charges detonated, and it was thought they had no effect, then ignited the magazine and a huge explosion which burned for several days. It was not until 14 day later that the island could be examined.
Abandoned since the war, most of the scrap metal inside had been removed in the 1970s by people seeking scrap metal. The two 14" guns remain in their turrets.
Lower battery on the bow. Two 14" M1909 guns in an enclosed casement
Upper battery on the bow. Two 14" M1909 guns in an enclosed casement .
No. 2 (right) gun barrel broke off after a direct hit from a 2,000 lbs bomb on January 27, 1945.
Port side of the island, emplaced two 6" M1908MI guns in M1920 carriages, in a double level casemate. Exposed to direct shelling by the Japanese in 1942, and hit in 1945, destroying the lower gun.
Starboard side of the island, emplaced two 6" M1908MI guns in M1920 carriages, in a double level casemate. The demolition charge detonated on April 13, 1945 at 10:00am blew off a portion of the casemate. This metal slab landed on top of the fort.
The Concrete Battleship: Fort Drum El Fraile Island Manila Bay, by Francis Allen 1988.
Do you have photos or additional information to add?
February 15, 2017