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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 encompasses El Fraile Island in the South Entrance of Manila Bay off Luzon in the Philippines. Also known as "The Concrete Battleship" for the shape of the fortification. Today located in Cavite Province and designated as a Military Reservoir Zone administrated by the Philippine Navy and Philippine Marines.
During April 1909 the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers began building a fortification 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 and concrete walls built upward in the shape of a battleship oriented with the "bow" pointed westward, "starboard" side northward, "stern" pointed eastward and "port" side facing southward. The fort was completed five years later by 1914 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 to the start of the Pacific War, the garrison was increased to 200 men from the 59th Coast Artillery Regiment under Commanding Officer (C. O.) Lt. Col. Lewis S. Kirkpatrick, O-15709. The gun batteries were under the command of Captain Samuel A. Madison, O-021952. By the summer of 1941, Fort Drum was ready for action as the threat of hostilities with Japan increased and the Philippines was undergoing rapid war preparations.
At the start of the Pacific War Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) warships kept their distance from the guns on Fort Drum. On January 2, 1942 Japanese aircraft bombed the island for the first time. On February 6, 1942 the Japanese commenced a heavy bombardment against the fortification.
On February 6, 1942 the Japanese commenced another heavy bombardment. The fire control tower was knocker down as it was perceived to be an aiming point. On March 15, 16 and 21 were more heavy bombardments but the 14" guns were not disabled.
Japanese missions against Fort Drum
January 2, 1942–March 21, 1942
On May 5, 1942 during the Japanese landing on Corregidor, the gun batteries on Fort Drum fired over 100 rounds at the the landing barges and assembly area. The garrison was informed of the the upcoming surrender, they were willing to continue fighting, but lack enough food and supplies. On May 6, 1942 when the garrison on Corregidor surrendered, Fort Drum also surrendered at 11:40am. Before surrendering, the powder stores were watered down with seawater and the guns and generators were damaged.
During the Japanese occupation of the Philippines, Fort Drum was never repaired and a small garrisoned was stationed on the island. As Prisoner Of War (POW), both commanders died in captivity. On April 27, 1943 Kirkpatrick died in the Philippines.
On February 3, 1945 Madison died of malnutrition in Fukuoka POW Camp #1 - Kashii (Pine Tree Camp).
American missions against Fort Drum (El Fraile)
On April 13, 1945 at 10:00am LCM 503 landed the U. S Army 151st Infantry Regiment, F Company plus a platoon of demolition men from 113th Engineers B Company onto the top of Fort Drum. After securing the top, a pipe from LCM 503 pumped 3,000 gallons of diesel oil into the fort and explosive charges were set with a thirty minute fuse. When the charges detonated, it seemed to have no effect until the fort's magazine ignited causing a huge explosion that burned for several days. Two weeks later, another force landed to examine Fort Drum without opposition.
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