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6 • The Tunnel and the Rock I request that you convey the special commendation and gratitude ofthe War Department to the nurses ofCorregidor whose service is a source ofinspiration to all ofus. Gen. George C. Marshall, Army Chief of Staff, in a message to General Wainwright, 18 April 1942 The second group of nurses arrived on Corregidor in daylight and in the midst of an air raid. The once beautiful green sloping lawns and trees of the tiny island had been transformed by Japanese bombs into charred stumps and denuded gray rock. In the coming weeks, enemy planes and artillery shells would pound away at the Rock, trying to dislodge its defenders and destroy the relative safety of the tunnel. Malinta Tunnel was sunk deep into the rock that was Corregidor . Its main shaft ran east and west for 750 feet, and its center lay under more than 100 feet of concrete, rock, and vegetation, with an interior height of approximately 15 feet and a width of 25 feet. Branching from the main tunnel were twenty smaller tunnels, called laterals, which ran north to south. From one of these laterals , seven other branches ran parallel to the main tunnel, shallower than the Malinta and originally constructed for storage. These rooms became the hospital wards, nurses' quarters, doctors' quarters , and Gen. Jonathan Wainwright's headquarters and living area. 68 All This Hell The north-south laterals housed various components of the fort such as quartermaster, machine shop, and refrigeration plant. The hospital laterals were originally equipped to handle five hundred beds, but by the time of Corregidor's surrender on 6 May 1942, the hospital held fifteen hundred patients, housed in doubleand triple-decked beds, built by the Rock's quartermaster and machine shop divisions. After the horrors of Bataan, nurses welcomed the comparative safety of the tunnel. It would not be long, however, before Corregidor and Malinta Tunnel would become their own little corner of hell. One main entrance to Malinta lay to the west and was wide enough to permit two ambulances, side by side, to enter the hospital lateral, where they were met by nurses and stretcher-bearers who would sort and carry the wounded to the appropriate wards and surgery. Nurses from Bataan were pleasantly surprised to find an enameled white table beside each of the five hundred beds and electric lights, bare bulbs, hanging from the ceiling of the Malinta and each of its laterals. By 9 April 1942, when all nurses from Bataan had arrived in Malinta Tunnel, the forces defending Corregidor numbered 11,000. They were opposed by 250,000 Japanese. In addition to military personnel, hundreds ofcivilians sought shelter in Malinta. The Japanese had allowed civilians through their lines knowing that these refugees would further deplete the military's food and water supplies and add to the crowded conditions in the tunnel. Nurses who had seen thousands of wounded, ill, and dying soldiers were now confronted with an increasing stream of hungry, exhausted, and sick refugees arriving every day. Many ofthem brought their children or children entrusted to them by relatives and friends. One orphaned six-year-old boy, suffering from malaria and wandering about Bataan, was found by soldiers and brought to Malinta Tunnel. The child was cared for by nurses who set up a bed for him in an old bathtub that was away from the wounded and dying in the regular hospital laterals. When the boy recovered from the attack of malaria, he continued to live in the The Tunnel and the Rock 69 tunnel and sleep in his bathtub bed, looked after by nurses, medical personnel, soldiers, and civilians. So that the child would not be left unattended while nurses were on almost twenty-four-hour duty, they arranged for the boy to spend much ofhis time with the Chinese tailor who worked in the tunnel, making uniforms to replace those that were quickly becoming rags. In addition to the growing numbers of wounded soldiers and the decreasing supplies of medicines, bandages, anesthetics, water, and food, the tunnel presented its own unique set of problems. Malinta had been prepared in the 1920s as part of War Plan Orange 3 to serve as the final and impregnable fortress ofCorregidor. Its planners believed that supplies could be brought in regularly by air and water and that Corregidor would never be conquered by an enemy. Therefore, the idea of having to surrender the Rock was never a question. None of the tunnel...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780813127446
Related ISBN
9780813121482
MARC Record
OCLC
778436177
Pages
264
Launched on MUSE
2012-02-08
Language
English
Open Access
No
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