Harbor Defenses of Manila and Subic Bays

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The Harbor of Manila and Surrounding Areas

The Harbor Defenses of Manila and Subic Bays ("Coast Defenses of Manila and Subic Bays" until 1925) were a Harbor Defense Command, part of the Philippine Department of the United States Army from circa 1910 through early World War II.

Background and construction[edit]

The Board of Fortifications chaired by William H. Taft recommended that key harbors of territories acquired after the Spanish–American War be fortified. Accordingly, El Fraile, Carabao, Corregidor, Grande, and Caballo Islands in the Philippines were to be fortified and incorporated into the harbor defenses of Manila and Subic Bays, protecting the bases of the US Asiatic Fleet and the Philippines Territory's capital and chief port of Manila. From 1922 parts of the defenses were garrisoned by units of the Philippine Scouts, units primarily composed of Filipino enlisted men and US officers.

The harbor defenses during World War II[edit]

In July 1941 these units were commanded by Major General George F. Moore, whose Philippine Coast Artillery Command was headquartered at Fort Mills, on Corregidor. This command included Fort Hughes (Caballo Island), Fort Drum (El Fraile Island), and Fort Frank (Carabao Island) at the entrance to Manila Bay, as well as Fort Wint (Grande Island) at the entrance to Subic Bay. At this time there were 4,967 troops assigned to the Harbor Defenses.

Harbor defense units were heavily engaged against the Japanese invasion in 1941–42, particularly Battery Way and Battery Geary on Corregidor, as well as Fort Drum. However, the coast defense installations were vulnerable to air and high-angle artillery attack, and Corregidor and the remaining US and Filipino forces surrendered on 6 May 1942.

 POW File Summary - Coast Artillery Corps Sergeant Joseph E Smith with the service number 6776152 was a prisoner of Japan during World War II. Assigned to the 59th Coast Artillery Regiment Harbor Defenses Of Manila And Subic Bays C Battery. Sources of information and archival notes include: 59th Cavalry Regiment Roster, March 31 1941 - Corregidor Historical Society.

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Anti-aircraft defenses[edit]

Chief of Coast Artillery Major General Joseph A. Green had recommended reassigning elements of the Harbor Defenses to anti-aircraft duty, but this proposal was rejected. The War Department had been intending to send three additional AA regiments and two brigade headquarters, however this was not accomplished before the Japanese invasion in December 1941.

With the exception of those areas covered by the 60th and 200th Coast Artillery (AA) Regiments, the Philippine islands were virtually defenseless against air attack.


Manila and Subic Bays had Army-operated mine defenses. These minefields were designed to stop all vessels except submarines and shallow-draft surface craft.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]