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an interesting thought

March 20 2013 at 8:08 PM
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Nelson  (no login)
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Response to Mea culpa & a correction to Nelson


> As for the searchlights of HOUSTON: the new ones were unquestionably at Cavite, and the men had started to install them blah blah blah (as we all know)...Anyway, to be brief & correct: they were left on the dock when she pulled out....It would not surprise me if they were still at Cavite after the war ended (like PILLSBURY's torpedo tubes...) >

The Japanese were maddeningly inconsistent about what they took away, either to examine by their own ordnance folks for any new ideas in design, or simply as useful scrap steel (and I suppose other metals not easily come by once the American submarines and their captains had got their act together). You mention the four searchlights perhaps remaining behind at Cavite at war's end. One example of what was actually taken away must be that highwater mark of U.S. naval ordnance, the 1.1-inch quad atop Malinta Hill (at least it had disappeared by war's end). According to American PoWs who spent some time on The Rock, the IJA first appeared to be determined to recover the enormous quantity of ordnance at Fort Mills and send it back to Japan for its steel value. The prisoners were told to gird their loins for some HARD LABOR. Indeed, some of the other smaller stuff, e.g., the fort's sole 8-inch gun---originating from Mac's inland seas defense project, and secondarily barged out to the island to defend an underprotected segment: a long fascinating tale---made it down to dockside for eventual removal, but got no farther. Likely it was a matter of vaulting ambitions versus capability or more likely yet, available shipping.

Now get this, there is a photo taken in 1944 or so, during Mac's Return, showing American soldiers scrambling up the bank of the Pasig River (a tidal river near Manila whose source is Laguna de Bay). Right there at the top of the embankment in the photo is a U.S. Model 1890 12-inch/10cal steel seacoast mortar (though not its carriage). Because Battery Way at Fort Mills is intact regarding its four mortars, this one must have come from Battery Geary, one of whose magazines was hit by a large shell during the siege, blowing up the battery and scattering its four Model 1890 and four Model 1908 seacoast mortars, including one well out onto the post golf course. It may be the "Sammy Snead" mortar that somehow made its way to the Pasig, but what happened to that mortar thereafter is today unknown. That the Japanese didn't follow through very completely in removing the heavier stuff is of course a matter of much gratitude on the part of aficionados of U.S. coast artillery, and likely almost as much by the multitude of pilgrims from many nations, including Japan, who visit this island yearly. I have managed only once to get over to normally Off Limits Fort Hughes on Caballo Island (it and Corregidor are the main components surviving of the volcanic caldera in the bay). If the 12-inch seacoast guns and mortars on Corregidor are cool---and indeed they are---the 14-inch disappearing guns and Model 1912 12-inch/15cal seacoast mortars (the 'long twelves', which fired the standard AP shell 19,000+ yards) on Caballo, nearer the bay's entrance, are awesome.


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