The small fortified island of Corregidor, which sits at the entrance to Manila Bay, had been occupied by Japanese imperial forces since 6 May 1942 when the American and Filipino forces posted on the island surrendered following a lengthy siege and ferocious battle. American forces returned on 16 February 1945 as part of the larger offensive to retake Manila. Around 7,000 American and Filipino troops were involved in the offensive, with the 503rd Parachute Regimental Combat Team assigned to a drop zone on ‘Topside’ hill, whilst the 34th Infantry Regiment of the 24th Infantry Division would launch a simultaneous amphibious landing on ‘Black Beach’ near San Jose Point. Although prior aerial and naval bombardment of the island had weakened the Japanese defences, and the attack on 16 February had come as a surprise, the 6,000 Japanese defenders put up fierce resistance, launching suicide attacks from their strongholds in the island’s extensive underground tunnel network.
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