The Last Stand of Battery Way – Beautiful Sunday
My Share for #BeautifulSunday initiated by @ace108
Welcome back to the fourth chapter of our journey in the island of Corregidor, Philippines. Last week we took you the ruins of Middleside barracks and have seen what is left from the attack of the Japanese during WW2. The island is not as helpless as you may think.To defend itself from the invaders it has some big guns installed around the island. Join me to today as we visit one of the battery installations that defended Corregidor.
Feel free to visit the earlier parts of our adventure
The Last Stand of Battery Way
The Island of Corregidor
From Middleside barracks it would take you approximately 16 minutes to reach the site.
With almost more than an hour of walking and a few minutes of stops to catch our breath. Our journey is almost halfway, but still far from over. Armed with google map we are able to plan which sites we would like to visit. Everything looks so close on the map, but a huge difference when compared to the actual walking.
With very few vehicles that passes by once in a while, it will allow you to enjoy a peaceful walk on this road. Shaded by the trees the weather here is cooler which allowed me to do a little photo shoot with my daughter as she requested.
There are portions of the road that is uphill so the kids needed to make another stop along the way.
At the rest stop my son came running back to us and said that we are almost there. Everyone got up and continued walking up the road towards the site.
Finally, we have reached Battery Way and everyone was excited to see the relics on this installation. I have been thinking about “Battery” and why is it called such. The battery that we know is what we use to power up our gadgets and portable equipment. Artillery was first invented when electricity was not invented yet. The term battery refers to a group of artillery. Benjamin Franklin first used to word battery for electrical devices as it is similar to artillery that fires something powerful. I hope that clears it up as I also needed to explain it to my kids.
As we headed towards the site, there were around four vehicles parked outside. It seems these are the vehicles that were on board the ship that took us to the island. It would be nice to have a ride going around the island, but you would miss out on experiencing the journey to each destination. You would miss out on the encounter with the wild monkeys and fail to see the unique plants and trees.
The commander’s viewing station was the first place we explored.
With thick metal, windows still attached just proves how tough this shelter is made. Although already repainted you could still feel the intense bombardment that happened here.
The walls are very thick and survived the Japanese air attack. Inside the rubble has already been cleared out and is safe for visitors to come inside.
Although this part may have sustained a direct hit it still stands. The thick metal door has been bent and you could only imagine the intensity of the attack.
On the further right side are bunkers that looks like storage for ammunition. The walls here are also very thick and looks impossible to penetrate. A lot of damage from the walls outside but structure is still very intact.
Inside it looks like nothing ever happened no cracks on the walls can be seen. I called back the kids as we are not sure what could be hiding inside this bunker.
I took a quick peek and it was very dark inside. Whispers could easily be heard and your voice would easily echo inside.
As we came into view of the four mortar batteries. I kept thinking the hardship that te soldiers endured during the attack. Japanese air raid and constant bombardment would make normal people cower in fear.
In this island, heroes stood their ground in an attempt to repel the invaders. Stories of heroism echoes around the walls of this site. Normal men who became extraordinary and demonstrated bravery when death is knocking on the walls.
The construction of Battery Way started in 1904 and was finished in 1914. The total cost for this defense was $112,969 and was named after 2nd Lt. Henry Way who gave his life in his service in the Philippines in the year 1900. The four mortars were armed with high explosive shells capable of piercing the deck of warships. The crew of each mortar was composed of 14 men. When firing the mortars it could break glass equipment at the hospital nearby due to it’s intensity. In 1942 Battery Way was placed under the command of Major William Massello. At that time only mortars 2,3 and 4 were working.
During the attack of the Japanese mortars 3 and 4 received a direct hit which left only one mortar in service. The last mortar along with three other 155mm guns on the island were able to repel a landing by the enemy on the north dock.
The last gun kept on firing in spite of the tremendous amount of shells that were fired in the area by the enemy. 70 percent of the crew were lost and the mortar finally gave in which was caused by the heat due to the continues firing. The roar of the mortar finally ceased at around 11:00 am following the surrender of the island an hour later.
The last mortar was assigned to sergeant Walter Kwiecinski. When the two mortars were destroyed he and his crew stood their ground. Each shell weighted at 650 pounds each and you could only imagine how hard it was for the soldiers to keep on firing all night long.
These walls are a testament to the bravery of the soldiers. Men were dropping all around as shrapnel flew all over the place. Still they kept firing not willing to give up until the mortar could not fire any longer. It was the last artillery that fired in defense of the island sergeant Walter Kwiecinski survived and was taken prisoner by the Japanese. He was taken to a POW camp in Japan. When the war was over he returned back home and had a family with three children.
Under the command of Major William “Wild Bill” Massello Jr. Battery Way became more fierce like an injured animal never willing to give up the fight. The area was covered with debris and shrapnel along with a telephone. It has been said that he ordered the phone to be ripped off so he could not receive any orders to surrender. With all the debris in the area he rushed outside with a broom to clear the path for the loading cart of the shells. Unfortunately, shrapnel from the counter fire of the enemy got him which injured his leg and almost severed his right arm. His men rushed to aid him and bring him to safety. As quoted his words were, “If they ever [got] me, what a hell of a way for a soldier to go, with a goddamn broom in my hand!” Laying wounded on his stretcher he refused evacuation and still gave commands on his stretcher. Kept on yelling to keep the gun on firing. When the gun gave in to the constant firing his words were, “The old mortar had finally quit on us, but it lasted long enough to be the last big gun on Corregidor to fire on the enemy.”
The Major was captured by the Japanese and was taken to POW camps in the Philippines and Japan. He was liberated by the American troops in 1945 from the Rokuroshi POW camp. For his service, the Major received the Distinguished Service Cross, two Silver Stars, the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star, two Presidential Unit Citations, four Purple Hearts and numerous campaign and theater ribbons. He passed away in 1997 almost reaching the age of 90 and buried at Fort Bliss National Cemetery, Texas.
After inspecting the mortars and learned a lot from its history. We investigated the structure on the left side of the site.
We learned that this structure is where the shells and cartridges were kept.
Bullet holes can be seen on the metal doors. Soldiers may have barracaded themselves in during the capture of Battery Way.
It was an honorable defeat as they did everything they can to defend Corrigedor.
It was very dark inside the cartridge room. I am not sure where the relics were taken as everything was cleared out.
On the left of the entrance shows the date when it was cleared out. But the name is faded already to identify who cleared it.
An empty room that leads to another room.
It was already too dark and quiet inside. You could see an open gate on the left side. On the right side of the wall is painted the word “QUIET”. We do not know if it is meant for the visitors not to disturb the silence of the dark room.
As I headed outside, I saw some numbers on the ceiling along with holes. Maybe a code to refer to this structure.
I went outside and looked for the kids as they were all over the place. I wanted us to stay close together to be safe. Suddenly, I heard them running outside shouting from this room. They said that there were a lot if bats flying inside. It got me worried and I wanted to leave.
With all the shouting from the kids, out of nowhere a staff approached us. He asked if there was anything wrong. I said the kids got worried about the bats. The man said that they are not bats, but birds called “Balinsasayaw or swiftlet”. The birds makes a nest that is edible from their saliva. The nests are expensive and popularly made into bird’s nest soup.
He said if we wanted to see the nests and of course everyone wanted to see them. I asked if it was safe and if there are no snakes inside. He replied that the place has been cleared out and is very safe.
He led us to the further end of the corridor. The birds were flying around and this time the kids were no longer afraid.
We entered this dark room and I figured I would need to use my camera’s flash to be able the capture the nests.
On the ceiling, we saw the nests all grouped up in the corner.
On the other side of room I again saw the word quiet. I don’t know what it is meant for and I failed to ask the man. I got too occupied with the bird’s nest.
With the feathers and a lot of bird droppings. I think they have been here for a long time already.
I didn’t get any shots of the birds. They flew very fast and was unable to see any birds perched on branches
We left the room and realized that we still have a lot of places to visit. We don’t have much time and we needed to continue on with our journey. We thanked the staff for sharing with us about the birds.
As we left, I looked back and thought about the soldiers who gave their lives in defense of our nation. The brotherhood between America and the Philippines runs deep and should never ever be forgotten. Much honor and respect to those who have fallen. May their names echo for eternity.
Thank you for joining me on this trip. I hope you enjoyed this little trip thru the history of our nation. I would like to see you again soon as we explore more of the island. Until then may you enjoy the remainder of the weekend. Keep the love alive. Cheers!
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All photos are original and taken with
Lumix GX85 12-32 mm kit lens
and Sigma 50 mm