The Malinta Tunnel on Corregidor Island has over 24 lateral tunnels that branch off its main tunnel. The vast underground space had been used for storage and bunker purposes until World War II. The project got its name as it was being built in 1922: the crew found the dirt they dug filled with leeches. The Filipino word “malinta,” meaning “many leeches” seemed appropriate.
Now home to thirty-some nurses, it seemed the Tunnel was infected with more than leeches. In the dark, damp system of concrete tunnels, there were many areas in the shadows where uncomfortable thoughts resided: discouragement, fear, debilitating exhaustion, and defeat, to name a few. It was crystal clear now that the American forces were not coming to save the Bataan and Corregidor staff and patients. In Washington, hard decisions had been made to provide most of the available war chest to the battles in Europe, where Hitler and Mussolini were bent on ruling the world. The Philippines, in all its beauty and wonder and golden sunrises, was strategically off the table for help.
The abyss hissed again. That unseen, unexpected cavern of pure evil that taunted many American and Filipino medical staff was never more present than now. Some feared they might tumble right down into the void. Would they all collide with their darker selves someday? Feelings like these were reminiscent of Halloween in the United States. Just some silly notion that fear was lurking everywhere. It was easy to believe that. They would all try not to think those thoughts, and they were kept very busy with new patients being brought in each day. They could also go “topside,” up the ramp and out into the fresh air and sunshine. But could they find time in their already overfilled days? Outside it was nice, calm. They just had to watch and listen for incoming Japanese planes, shooting up the ground they stood on just before they rushed back into the Tunnel.
What was that evil feeling some had experienced, being kept underground in this awful war that would probably not end well? What was that hissing noise?
GET READY, READERS! I’M GOING TO CHANGE UP THE BLOG STARTING MARCH 1ST. I MIGHT NOT SEND A BLOG OUT EVERY WEEK SO I CAN SPEND MORE TIME WRITING. I ALSO CAN’T GIVE THE WHOLE BOOK AWAY BY BLOGGING FROM WHAT I WRITE. I WANT AT LEAST SOME OF YOU TO BUY THE BOOK WHEN IT’S PUBLISHED, HOPEFULLY SUMMER OF 2023. THANKS FOR YOUR SUPPORT AND FOR READING THESE EXCERPTS FROM MY WRITING! Grace and Peace, Meg.
Meg Blaine Corrigan is the author of four books: Then I Am Strong: Moving From My Mother’s Daughter to God’s Child, a memoir about growing up in an alcoholic home; Saints With Slingshots: Daily Devotions For The Slightly Tarnished But Perpetually Forgiven Christian, Books One and Two; and Perils of a Polynesian Percussionist, a novel depicting Meg’s time playing drums in a Hawaiian Road Show. Her latest project is to tell the story of her Aunt Ethel “Sally” Blaine Millett, who was an American Army nurse in the Philippines when WWII began. “Sally” joined about a hundred other nurses and 50-some doctors in transporting about two thousand patients from Statsenburg Hospital north of Manila (with more arriving every day) to the jungle on the Bataan Peninsula. They hid the patients from the Japanese for about four months until they were all captured and placed in POW camps for over three years before being liberated by American forces. This blog contains excerpts from the book in real time as Meg is writing and posting a blog once weekly. The book’s title is MERCY MORE THAN LIFE: Sally Blaine Millett, WWII Army Nurse. The anticipated date of publication is spring 2023.Meg’s website is www.MegCorrigan.com . She lives in a tiny apartment in Little Canada, Minnesota with her species-confused tropical plants and her rescue Carousel Horse, Mr. Ed.