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    Fort Drum Cavite Province | Luzon Philippines
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43rd BG, 64h BS
January 27, 1945

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USAF April 12, 1945

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US Army April 13, 1945

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US Army 1945

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Dan Lantzy 1987

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AirPirates 1991

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Justin Taylan 2004

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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.

Wartime History
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).

By February 1945 Fort Drum was defended by 65 Japanese Navy personnel, survivors from Battleship Musashi. In late February 1945, a US Navy PT Boat docked at the fort and sent a shore party aboard that was fired on, killing one and wounding another from the crew. During March 1945 bombed by American aircraft. After the U. S. Army liberated Corregidor and Caballo, they turned their attention to Fort Drum as the last island Manila Bay still occupied by the enemy. During April 1945 bombarded by USS Phoenix CL-46 and and aerial bombing continued.

American missions against Fort Drum (El Fraile)
March 5, 1945–April 13, 1945

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.

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.

Battery Marshall
Lower battery on the bow. Two 14" M1909 guns in an enclosed casement

Battery Wilson
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.

Battery Roberts
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.

Battery McCrea
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.

NARA Records of World War II Prisoners of War - Lewis S. Kirkpatrick
FindAGrave - LTC Lewis Spencer Kirkpatrick (photos, Arlington grave)
FindAGrave - LTC Lewis Spencer Kirkpatrick (photo, memorial marker)
NARA Records of World War II Prisoners of War - Samuel A. Madison
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Samuel A. Madison
FindAGrave - Capt Samuel Alton Madison (photo, Manila American Cemetery grave)
Engineers of the Southwest Pacific, 1941-45, Volume 4 pages 562-563, 565, 568, 567 (photos), 569, 753-754 (index), 739 (index), 762 (index)
The Concrete Battleship: Fort Drum El Fraile Island Manila Bay (1988) by Francis Allen devoted to Fort Drum

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Last Updated
April 12, 2020


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