WASHINGTON, May 5, 1942 (UP) -- Japanese landing parties are storming Corregidor fortress in a supreme bid to capture the rock-hewn citadel which bars them from Manila bay, the War department announced late today.
Lieut. Gen. Jonathan M. Wainwright, who succeeded Gen. Douglas MacArthur in command of the valiant American-Filipino legions in the Philippines, reported the enemy began moving against Corregidor at midnight and that a "landing attack was in progress."
Military observers here interpreted this to mean that the Japanese had crossed from the mainland at night in barges or other small boasts and that fighting was in progress on Corregidor or its beaches when Wainwright reported.
Experts said that under proper conditions, a landing could be effected on the northern or "tail end" of the tadpole-shaped island. The southern end presents a formidable rock barrier to landing by water, but there are beaches along the northern end.
It was presumed the Japs came from the Bataan peninsula side of Manila bay which is scarcely two miles distant.
Experts agreed, however, that the attempt will cost the Japanese heavily in manpower.
The Japanese concentrated all their fury on Corregidor after Bataan fell April 9. Against the rugged fortress and sister bastions they turned loose wave after wave of high level and dive bombers and tremendous bursts of heavy artillery fire.
Corregidor underwent its worst pounding of the war only yesterday-13 separate air attacks and a five-hour bombardment from nine-inch shore guns. The War department, in reporting that assault failed to mention whether Corregidor's guns had replied.
How many fighting men and civilians are within Corregidor's walls is a military secret. It is known that most of the estimated 3,000 marines and bluejackets on Bataan reached the fortress safely just before Bataan fell. An unrevealed number of soldiers, nurses and civilians also reached the fortress which already housed its regular garrison and civilian refugees from Manila.
Corregidor, located on Fort Mills, is the principal one of four bastions guarding this gateway to Manila bay. Nearby are the lesser citadels-Forts Frank, Hughes and Drum-all of which have been subjected to a relentless pounding.
But Corregidor had been the chief target of Jap bombs and shells. A veteran of the Philippines campaign, returning recently from that war theater, said being on Corregidor was "like living on a bull's eye."
Yard for yard, the fortress has been the most bombed spot on earth, excepting Malta.
For the Japs, Corregidor has been the most coveted and hardest-to-get prize in the Philippines.
Its brave defenders, by their historic stand, have denied the Japanese the use of Manila bay-finest harbor in the Far East. So long as Corregidor flies the Stars and Stripes, the Japs can make not use of valuable naval installations in the bay-a base of operations that would shorten Japan's supply line considerably.
The big guns of Corregidor and her satellite forts previously have repeatedly broken up barge concentrations on the southern shores. And in the past month, they had concentrated their fire against troop concentrations on the Bataan shore.
As many as 50 bombers at one time have attacked Corregidor, whose sharp-shooting anti-aircraft gunners claim the world's record for shooting down an attacking bomber. They got one at 37,000 feet-more than five miles up.
The War department did not elaborate immediately, leaving unanswered the heart-rending question whether the beleaguered fortress which had withstood scores of air attacks and vicious artillery cross-fire had come to its final hour.
The landing attack was the first such attempt since the start of the war.
The Japanese paved the way for it with an aerial bombardment that has been in progress almost continuously since March 24 when the siege of Corregidor began.
The bastion has been under fire for nearly five months, during which time it has been subjected to more than 300 separate air attacks and a relentless cross-fire from big nine-inch guns emplaced on the north and south shores of Manila bay.
Within its caverns several thousand Americans and Filipino soldiers, sailors and marines have fashioned an unforgettable epic of brave men fighting and holding out against terrific odds.
Their valor was lauded by President Roosevelt in a message sent to Wainwright before word of the landing attack was received. The message quoted in the War department communiqu