The Spanish were the first to exploit Corregidor as the ideal first line of defence against trespassers. It was the scene of fierce fighting during WWII, and became the last bastion of resistance by American forces during the Japanese invasion of Luzon in 1941. General Douglas MacArthur holed up here until March 1942, when he fled to Australia. His successor, General Jonathan Wainwright, finally surrendered to the Japanese in May 1942. Huge numbers of American and Filipino prisoners of war died on the Bataan Death March from Mariveles to the concentration camp in Capas.

Corregidor was occupied by the Japanese until January 1945, when MacArthur returned. The second battle for the island was no less bloody than the first, and thousands died.