Digest>Archives> Nov/Dec 2011

The Lighthouse Buster

By Timothy Harrison


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There are numerous accounts of lighthouses being destroyed in the devastation of World War II, with most of the accounts being recorded in Europe. Pahotos of destroyed lighthouses and the ruins of them, for the most part, have been elusive. But, from time to time we publish these photos as we discover them. One such photo, an especially famous one, is the image of the lighthouse at Corregidor in the Philippines that we published in the June 1999 edition of Lighthouse Digest.

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However, we recently came across these photographs that were official U.S. Navy press release photos from World War II that are a vital part of history. Before General MacArthur could retake the Philippines, the U.S. military needed to secure the Palau Islands, especially Peleliu and Angaur, which needed to be neutralized so an airfield could be built to protect General MacArthur’s right flank. The islands were occupied by 30,000 Japanese soldiers who were well dug in to defend the island.

Following is the entire caption that the U.S. Navy issued with these photographs on July 15, 1945:

Originally nicknamed the “Razor” because of her sharp gunnery efficiency, the USS Denver has recently acquired the name of “Lighthouse Buster.” Her latest name, a favorite with the crew, came when she leveled a lighthouse during the Palau landings. The name was destined to stick when, during operations off the coast of the Philippines, she dropped a second lighthouse on Suluan Island. A crack shot, the Denver has had the opportunity of using her guns many times. With over two years of duty to her credit, she has chased the Japs all the way through the South Pacific. The “Lighthouse Buster” was particularly prominent in the Second Battle of the Philippines.

A close-up of the lighthouse at Anguar in the Palaus, which earned for the USS Denver the new name of “Lighthouse Buster.” The Denver made quick work of leveling the lighthouse, being used by the Japs as an artillery post on the islands.

However, one American newspaper changed the photo caption to read as follows:

No Whisker is too tough for the “The Razor!” the U.S.S. Denver, now known as “Lighthouse Buster.” This is the Anguar lighthouse after the famous cruiser’s sharp gunnery shaved it off the Panan skyline. The Nips were using it as an artillery post. Battleships failed to drop it, so “the Razor” was called in. She made quick work of bearding those Japs in their den.

This story appeared in the Nov/Dec 2011 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.

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