Chapter VIII:
The Philippines

Posterity, thinned by the crimes of the ancestors, shall hear of those battles.


In the period when the Japanese were overrunning Malaya and the Indies their campaign in the Philippines progressed slowly. Their initial success had been spectacular. First they had knocked out the Far East Air Force, established air and naval supremacy in the Philippines, and seized advance airfields on Luzon. Then, on 22 December, General Homma put the bulk of his 14th Army ashore at Lingayen Gulf, north of Manila. The remainder landed two days later at Lamon Bay, south of the capital, to form the southern arm of a giant pincer movement converging on Manila. But Homma quickly discovered he was dealing with a determined and able foe. MacArthur did not, as Homma and Imperial General Headquarters expected, stay to fight it out on the central plain of Luzon. Instead he put into effect the long-standing ORANGE plan and withdrew his forces to the Bataan Peninsula in a skillful and dangerous double retrograde movement, made in two weeks under the most difficult circumstances and constant pressure. At the same time he proclaimed Manila an open city and transferred his headquarters to Corregidor. Thus, when Homma, on 2 January, reached his objective, the capital city, he was able to take it without opposition. But his victory was a hollow one. The enemy army was still intact and in control of the entrance to Manila Bay. So long as it maintained its hold on Bataan and Corregidor Homma would be unable to use the great port of Manila or to claim victory in the Philippines.

South of Luzon, the Japanese had made only one important conquest in the Philippines when they occupied the harbor of Davao in Mindanao, as a base for the invasion of Borneo. But the American and Philippine forces on that island were undefeated. Well-organized and led, they still held the airfield at Del Monte. In the central Philippines the Japanese had as yet made no landings. There the scattered garrisons on Panay, Cebu, Bohol, Leyte, and other islands, strengthened their defenses and made plans for the day when the enemy would appear off their shores.

The Siege of Bataan

In the Japanese scheme of conquest, the Philippines occupied only a secondary place and Imperial General Headquarters had not been generous with General Homma. All it had given him to take the islands, a job that was scheduled to be completed in fifty days, were


two divisions, the 16th and 48th, two tank regiments, an air group, and service and supporting troops. One other unit, the 65th Brigade, consisting of three 2-battalion regiments, was to come in later to mop up and garrison the islands. But Homma was not allowed to keep even this force, for Imperial General Headquarters, having decided late in December to speed up operations in the southern area, took from him his best unit, the 48th Division, as well as the air group. Word of this decision reached Homma via Southern Army headquarters on 2 January, the day he occupied Manila.

Fortunately for the Japanese cause, Homma, for reasons entirely unrelated to the decision of Imperial General Headquarters, had already ordered the 65th Brigade to the Philippines, three weeks earlier than intended. The brigade, which in the opinion of its commander was "absolutely unfit for combat duty," reached Luzon on New Year's Day, just in time to replace the 48th Division in the coming battle for Bataan.1

Despite this weakening of his forces, Homma felt certain of an early victory. On the basis of faulty intelligence he concluded that resistance would be weak, and that the American and Filipino troops would make their stand around Mariveles, near the tip of the peninsula, then withdraw to Corregidor. Japanese operations on Bataan would therefore take the form of a pursuit rather than an assault against a strongly fortified position. Such operations, Homma felt, could be safely entrusted to the inexperienced and untrained 65th Brigade, reinforced with seasoned troops of the 16th Division and aided by supporting artillery and armor.

General Homma's optimism was entirely unfounded. Arrayed against him on a line extending across the northern part of the jungled mountain fastness of Bataan were two corps, one led by Maj. Gen. Jonathan M. Wainwright and the other by Maj. Gen. George M. Parker, Jr. In Wainwright's corps on the left (west) were three of the recently-inducted Philippine Army divisions, the 26th Cavalry of Philippine Scouts (Filipino citizens forming part of the Regular Army of the United States), and other troops, for a total of 22,500 men. On the right (Manila Bay side) of the peninsula, in Parker's corps, were four more Philippine Army divisions, a Philippine Scout regiment, plus supporting troops, all together 25,000 men. To the rear were the regular U.S. Army Philippine Division (composed largely of Philippine Scouts), two battalions of light tanks, a 75-mm. SPM group, together with corps and USAFFE artillery. The southern tip of the peninsula, designated the Service Command Area, was defended by a heterogeneous force composed of constabulary, Philippine Army troops, grounded airmen, bluejackets, and marines.2 Control of the two corps and of the elements to the rear was retained by General MacArthur's headquarters on Corregidor, with an advance echelon on Bataan.

Despite this considerable force, numbering



about 90,000 men, the American position was not a strong one. There had been little time to build fortifications; communications were inadequate, and many of the troops were untrained and poorly equipped. Food was scarce and there was a shortage of supplies of all types. Moreover, the main battle position was not a continuous line. Separating the two corps was the 4,222-foot-high Mt. Natib which made physical contact and mutual support virtually impossible.

The Japanese opened the battle for Bataan on 9 January with an artillery barrage that "shook the northern portion" of the peninsula, after which the infantry moved out to the attack. The main force, which attacked first, was repulsed in a series of bloody battles and was finally forced to shift to the west in search of an opening in the American lines, while another column sought to turn Parker's left flank on the slopes of Mt. Natib. Finally, on the 15th, the Japanese found an opening and drove through. By the evening of the 16th they were in position to outflank the corps. Hastily a counterattack was organized with troops from the Philippine Division, but to no avail.3

Meanwhile the Japanese on the other side of the peninsula, traversing the jungled height near the center, had cut


behind Wainwright's line on 21 January and established a block along the only road in the area. Unable to reduce the block, the troops in Wainwright's corps withdrew, pulling back along the coast. At about the same time, 24 January, MacArthur ordered a general withdrawal to the reserve battle position.

The first battle was over but Homma was still far from victory. He had won this round but at such heavy cost that the 65th Brigade, in the words of its commander, had "reached the extreme stages of exhaustion."4 The American and Filipino forces had disengaged successfully and occupied their new line across the waist of the peninsula on 26 January. They had saved Bataan for another day. But there was no further retreat from this line. "With its occupation," MacArthur wrote, "all maneuvering possibilities will cease. I intend to fight it out to complete destruction."5

During the next two weeks Homma committed the remainder of the 16th Division and, by a series of frontal attacks combined with amphibious assaults behind the enemy line, sought to gain the victory which had thus far eluded him. Again he failed, this time with such heavy casualties that he had to break off the fight and call on Imperial General Headquarters for reinforcements. From 6 January to 1 March, 14th Army had suffered almost 7,000 casualties, 2,700 killed and over 4,000 wounded. Between 10,000 and 12,000 more men were down with malaria, beriberi, and dysentery. So depleted was the 14th Army that the American and Filipino troops, had they chosen that moment to attack, could, in Homma's words, have walked to Manila "without encountering much resistance on our part."6

But by this time MacArthur's troops were showing the alarming effects of reduced rations, lack of quinine, and continuous combat. Almost the first official action on Bataan had been an order cutting the ration in half. This meant the Americans would theoretically receive 36 ounces of food a day, the Filipinos 32.7 Actually they never received even that amount. The ration varied from day to day and was based solely on the amount of food on hand. From an average of about 30 ounces a day it decreased steadily until it was barely enough to sustain life. Not only was the diet inadequate, but it was unbalanced as well, deficient in vitamins and lacking the minor luxuries which might have compensated for its bareness and monotony. There was no butter, coffee, tea, jam, fresh milk, or vegetables, and precious little sugar, fruit, and tobacco. Deprived of the solace of cigarettes and coffee, the soldier living on little more than 20 ounces of food a day could be very miserable indeed.8

The consequences of the inadequate and unbalanced ration and other shortages soon became evident in the high incidence of malnutrition and vitamin deficiency diseases and a marked decrease in combat efficiency. Signs of


serious muscle waste and depletion of fat reserve were plain in the thin bodies and hollow cheeks of the hungry men. Night blindness, swelling, diarrhea, and dysentery became common, and beriberi in its incipient stages was almost universal among the troops. The men had lost the capacity to resist even the most minor ailment, and any disease, warned the Bataan surgeon, would assume epidemic proportions.

These fears were soon justified in the rapid spread of malaria. For a time the disease had been kept under control by prophylactic doses of quinine, but the supply was limited and its use, except for those already infected, was discontinued at the end of February. Within a week the number of daily malaria admissions to the hospitals jumped to 500 and a month later was approaching the fantastic figure of 1,000. Despite every expedient it proved impossible to obtain a large enough supply of quinine to bring the disease under control or permit its use as a prophylaxis.9 By the end of March the two general hospitals, designed to accommodate 1,000 patients each, had about 8,500 patients, and another 4,000 were being treated in a provisional hospital. Undetermined numbers were hospitalized in their units, and all medical installations on Bataan were bursting with patients.10

The effects of disease and starvation upon combat efficiency were disastrous. A month after they reached Bataan, the men were only about 75 percent effective; six weeks later this figure dropped to 25 percent. The condition of the troops, wrote an inspecting officer, "was utter nightmare." In one regiment the men "were just able to fire a rifle out of the trench, and no more."11

The one great hope that fortified the men on Bataan and Corregidor was their belief that somehow large reinforcements and shiploads of food and supplies would break through the Japanese blockade and come to their rescue. This belief was based partly on the desperate desire to believe it and partly on MacArthur's promise in January that "thousands of troops and hundreds of planes" were on the way.12 President Quezon and High Commissioner Sayre had given the same promise in public statements earlier, based on Roosevelt's broadcast of 29 December, which the New York Times headlined with, "All aid promised. President pledges protection." Sustaining the faith of the troops on Bataan also was the conviction that their country would never abandon them to the enemy and that somehow they would be rescued.13 These hopes were badly shaken when President Roosevelt, in his February 23d Fireside Chat, placed the Philippines in their proper perspective "in the big picture of the war." His listeners on Bataan could find no hope for relief in the President's remarks about the nature of global warfare, the tremendous tasks facing the American people, and the volume of production. What they needed was food, clothing, and medicine, and they needed them immediately.


"Plain for all to see," wrote one officer, "was the handwriting on the wall, at the end of which the President had placed a large and emphatic period. The President had -- with regret -- wiped us off the page and closed the book." 14

Strategy and Logistics

If the troops on Bataan thought -- mistakenly -- they had been abandoned, they could be sure that they had in General MacArthur an eloquent and powerful champion to plead their cause in the councils of war. Constantly and persistently, in the strongest terms, he urged the President and Chief of Staff on to bolder measures and stronger efforts for the relief of the Philippine garrison. The support of the Philippine Islands, he asserted time and again, was the most important objective of the Allied cause in the Far East and no effort should be spared to achieve this end. The arrangements and plans made for the defense of the Malay Barrier and the establishment of a base in Australia, while contributing to this cause, did not, MacArthur held, materially affect his own situation.

What MacArthur wanted was a major Allied effort in the Southwest Pacific that would have as its objective the relief of the Philippines. This effort, he believed, should take the form of an advance, by air and naval forces, from Australia through the Netherlands Indies and Borneo to Mindanao. Once air and naval supremacy had been established, an Army corps could be landed on Mindanao, and from there, projecting air and naval forces northward, reinforcements could be brought into Luzon and the enemy driven from the Philippines. "Enemy appears to have tendency to become overconfident," he wrote, "and time is ripe for brilliant thrust with air carriers."15

So important were these operations, in MacArthur's view, so vital were they to the Allied position in the Far East and the defense of Allied territory that he did not hesitate to urge that the resources of Great Britain, as well as those of the United States, be placed at his disposal. After all, he pointed out, the British Empire would benefit most from these operations. Singapore, Australia, and India would be saved and the British line of communications in the Far East made secure. England itself would be free from attack during the winter months and could safely release forces and lend material aid to a cause which was so greatly to its benefit.16

But this effort, if it was to be undertaken, must be made soon, MacArthur warned Marshall. Already his food supply was low and his munitions, especially in antiaircraft ammunition, limited. The Corregidor garrison, whose existence depended on its vulnerable water and power supply, could not hold out indefinitely. Unsupported, he told the Chief of Staff on 1 January, he would be able to resist serious attack at most for three months. Pending the arrival of the expeditionary force it would be necessary therefore to restore his line of communication to the United States "by aggressive air and naval action," a course he


had urged before and continued to urge.17

MacArthur's pleas for a major Allied effort in the Southwest Pacific reached Washington at a time when the ARCADIA Conference was in session and while the U.S. and British Chiefs of Staff were themselves considering how best to halt the Japanese advance. But the sympathetic response to his messages and the assurance that "the President and Prime Minister, Colonel Stimson and Colonel Knox, the British Chiefs of Staff and our corresponding officials" were doing everything possible to strengthen Allied forces in the Far East could not disguise the fact that Washington and London did not attach the same importance to the defense of the Philippines as MacArthur did. "Our great hope," General Marshall told him, "is that the rapid development of an overwhelming air power on the Malay Barrier will cut the Japanese communications south of Borneo and permit an assault on the southern Philippines."18

The emphasis in such a strategy, as MacArthur well knew, was not on the drive northward but on holding the Malay Barrier and its east and west anchors, Burma and Australia. The support of the Philippine garrison and the re-establishment of the line of communications to Luzon, though included as one of the objectives of Allied strategy, clearly came after these. MacArthur agreed that the Japanese drive southward must be halted, but believed that this objective could best be accomplished by holding the Philippines. To him the islands were "the locus of victory or defeat," and if they fell so would the Malay Barrier and the entire Asiatic continent. This view the Washington planners, whose perspective encompassed a war on many fronts, never accepted.

What MacArthur did not know was that the Army planners in Washington had on the 3d of January submitted a study proving that the Philippines could not be reinforced and that his plan for an offensive northward from Australia to Mindanao would constitute "an entirely unjustifiable diversion of forces from the principal theater -- the Atlantic." It would require, they noted, about 1,500 aircraft of various types, at least half of which would have to come from other areas, service and construction units to build airfields along the line of advance, a large logistical organization, and the transfer from the Atlantic and Mediterranean of 7-9 capital ships, 5-7 carriers, about 50 destroyers, 60 submarines, and the necessary auxiliaries. The greatest effort that could be justified in terms of global strategy, the planners stated, was to hold the Malay Barrier while projecting operations as far north as possible. Since this view was essentially that already accepted by the Combined Chiefs, the effect of the Army planners' study was to confirm the decision already made when ABDACOM was established.19

The conclusions of the Army planners, however valid they were, did not affect the determination of the President, Mr. Stimson, or General Marshall


to send MacArthur all possible aid. That program was already under way and everything possible was being done in Washington to ensure its success. Thus, when MacArthur on the 4th, the day after the planners had submitted their study, suggested, first, that a plan for blockade running be developed and put into effect immediately; and second, in a tart reference to the Navy, that "some relief be obtained on use of submarine transportation," Marshall took what action he could. Already the funds to initiate blockade running had been allocated, but the program would have to await further arrangements in Australia. Meanwhile he asked Admiral Hart to send MacArthur by submarine the antiaircraft ammunition he needed so badly. The response was discouraging. Hart replied that he could not spare any of his submarines for such a mission and it was not until the end of the month, after Marshall had enlisted the aid of Admiral King, that the submarine was dispatched. There was nothing MacArthur could do, for Hart's fleet was not under his control, but he did not hesitate to express his feelings. "I urge," he wrote Marshall, "steps be taken to obtain a more aggressive and resourceful handling of naval forces in this area."20 In this view he would soon have the support of the Dutch.

But assurances and messages from Washington did not get supplies to the Philippines. That task was the responsibility of commanders in Australia and the Netherlands Indies, who, beset with problems of their own, had not the same sense of urgency as impelled MacArthur to insist that failure to reach him with supplies would have "monumental" and "disastrous" results. This sense of urgency Marshall undertook to impart to these officers after MacArthur had given his "professional" assurance that the blockade could easily be pierced. To Brereton and Brett he dispatched similar messages on 17 January calling for "comprehensive efforts" to run the blockade. "To insure utmost energy" in carrying out these efforts, Marshall made ten million dollars of the Chief of Staff's funds available to Brereton and promised more if needed to induce ship's masters and their crews to undertake the hazardous journey. "Risks will be great," he wrote. "Rewards must be proportional." At the same time he made another million available to MacArthur and sent Col. Patrick J. Hurley, former Secretary of War and an old friend of the Philippine commander, to Australia immediately to lend his "energetic support" to the blockade-running program. "Only indomitable determination and pertinacity will succeed," wrote Marshall, "and success must be ours."22

Under the impetus of Marshall's urgent instructions for a comprehensive program and the use of "bold and resourceful men," General Brereton began to draw up elaborate and ambitious plans. But there was no time for such plans and when Marshall learned of them he quickly registered his disapproval.


Action and results were needed, he wrote, not plans.22

Thus urged, the commanders in Australia concentrated on getting ships and supplies, but it was a long, hard job, beset with many obstacles, including the reluctance of the Dutch and British to risk the loss of precious shipping. By 2 February, despite the high rewards and frantic efforts, only five vessels had been enlisted in the cause. One was already en route to Corregidor with 700 tons of rations and ammunition; the other four were loading in Brisbane and were scheduled to leave in the near future. All but one would sail directly for the Philippines. The Mormacsun, under orders from Washington not to go further north than the Netherlands Indies, would transfer its cargo at a Dutch port to smaller vessels for the last leg of the journey.23

These efforts were satisfactory as far as they went but they did not add up to the aggressive strategy MacArthur felt should be followed in the Far East. Early in February he again presented his views on this subject in a message to the Chief of Staff with the hope that they would be shown "to the highest authority." The message opened with the startling statement that the present strategy, aimed at building up forces before the Japanese advance, was "a fatal mistake on the part of the Democratic Allies." The plan to build a base and acquire air supremacy in the Southwest Pacific, he predicted, would fail and, as a result, the war would be indefinitely prolonged. The only way to defeat the enemy was to seek combat with him. "Counsels of timidity based upon theories of safety first," he warned, "will not win against such an aggressive and audacious adversary as Japan." "What the Allies ought to do," he asserted, was attack the Japanese line of communications "stretched over 2,000 miles of sea." The argument that naval forces for such an attack were not available he brushed aside with the observation that a great naval victory was not necessary; "the threat alone would go far toward the desired end."24

General Marshall's reply, though sympathetic, made it perfectly clear that the Allies were doing all they could in the Pacific. No one denied the advantages of an attack against Japan's line of communication, he pointed out, but neither the naval forces nor the bases for such an attack were available. Moreover, MacArthur's proposal did not take into consideration the need to keep open the Allied line of communication. The course the Allies had adopted, he explained, was all that could be done with existing forces. Until additional forces could be accumulated the Allies had little choice but to "limit the hostile advance so as to deny him [the enemy] free access to land and sea areas that will immeasurably strengthen his war-making powers or will be valuable to us as jump off positions when we can start a general offensive."25


On the same day that the Chief of Staff dispatched his reply to MacArthur, President Quezon, who had moved the seat of the Commonwealth Government to Corregidor, offered a plan to bring hostilities in the Philippines to a close. This plan was based on the assumption that the Japanese were in the Philippines only because the United States was there. If the United States Government would grant the Philippines their independence immediately and withdraw its forces, Quezon explained to President Roosevelt, then he would seek to persuade Japan to do the same. If Japan agreed, as he thought it would, then he would disband the Philippine Army and leave his country without fortifications of any kind. The major powers could then neutralize the Philippines and save it from the ravages of a war in which it had no real interest.

Quezon's disquieting proposal, which the American High Commissioner supported, was accompanied by an estimate from General MacArthur painting a dark picture of the military situation in the Philippines. "So far as the military angle is concerned," MacArthur wrote, "the problem presents itself as to whether the plan of President Quezon might offer the best possible solution of what is about to be a disastrous debacle." He did not believe it would affect the ultimate fate of the Philippines; that, he thought, would be decided by the outcome of the war in other theaters. "If the Japanese Government rejects President Quezon's proposition," he told Marshall, "it would psychologically strengthen our hold because of their Prime Minister's public statement offering independence. If it accepts it, we lose no military advantage because we would still secure at least equal delay."26

The reaction from Washington to Quezon's proposal was prompt and emphatic. President Roosevelt repudiated the scheme outright and declared, in a personal message to Quezon, that the American Government would never agree to such a solution to the war in the Philippines. But he softened the blow by pledging that "so long as the flag of the United States flies on Filipino Soil . . . it would be defended by our own men to the death." To MacArthur the President sent strict instructions to continue the fight without surrender of American troops "so long as there remains any possibility of resistance."27 There was no misunderstanding the meaning and tone of this message.

Both Quezon and MacArthur accepted the President's decision without question. Quezon wrote that he fully appreciated the President's position and would abide by the decision. MacArthur, in his reply, explained that his message had been misunderstood, that he never had any intention of surrendering and would fight "to destruction" on Bataan and Corregidor.28

This matter was hardly settled when events in the Pacific, gloomy at best, took a turn for the worse. Already the Japanese had taken Malaya, Borneo, and the Celebes, and on 15 February Singapore fell. Its loss provided MacArthur with the occasion for still another plea


for an attack against the Japanese line of communications. "The opportunities still exist for a complete reversal of the situation," he declared with characteristic optimism. "It will soon, however, be too late for such a movement."29

To the planners in Washington and the officers of USAFIA and ABDACOM, the loss of Singapore and the rapid Japanese advance into the Netherlands Indies was hardly the occasion for attack. To them it forecast the invasion of Sumatra and Java and an end to blockade-running. Pat Hurley, who had arrived in Australia on 8 February, reported from Java on the 17th that "movements are progressing as expeditiously as can be expected under existing condition." But he also warned that the sea routes north of Australia were becoming increasingly hazardous. A few days later he told the Chief of Staff that there were "almost insuperable difficulties" in getting supplies to MacArthur.30

The former Secretary of War did not exaggerate. Despite the elaborate preparations and large funds, the five vessels reported on 2 February were all that ever joined the blockade-running program. Of these only three, the Coast Farmer, Dona Nati, and Anhui, got through. The first, a 3,000-ton Army freighter with a speed of 10 knots, left Australia on 4 February and put in at a Mindanao port fifteen days later. The other two left later and arrived at Cebu in mid-March. All together, they brought in more than 10,000 tons of rations, 4,000 rounds of small arms ammunition, 8,000 rounds of 81-mm. ammunition, and miscellaneous medical, signal, and engineer supplies.31

But the delivery of these supplies left them far from the battlefield of Bataan. From Mindanao and Cebu they still had to be transported northward through the inland seas to Manila Bay. For this leg of the journey, fast interisland motor ships with a capacity of 300 to 1,000 tons were used. Cebu was the headquarters for these vessels and from there thousands of tons went northward. The Legaspi was the first to make the journey safely, arriving at Corregidor on 22 January with a cargo of rice and other food. Two other vessels, the Princessa and Elcano, performed the same feat in February, the latter carrying rations unloaded from the Coast Farmer. Three other vessels carrying the remainder of that ship's cargo were sunk as were others carrying the supplies brought in by the Dona Nati and Anhui. Of the 10,000 tons of rations that had reached the Philippines, only about 1,000 tons -- a 4-day supply for the 100,000 soldiers and civilians on Bataan -- ever reached Manila Bay.32

Before the end of February it was already evident that the blockade-running program from Australia was a failure, but it was not until the Japanese landed in Java that the officers in charge of the program admitted their inability to supply the Philippines. This admission came to General Marshall in a joint message from Brett and Hurley recommending


that the program be abandoned and that the Philippines be supplied directly from the United States via Hawaii "through open sea areas in which the chance of reaching destination is much greater than through narrow channels between island and blockade areas of the Southwest Pacific."33

The Brett-Hurley proposal was a sound one; it had already been made by MacArthur who, on 22 February had expressed strong dissatisfaction with the efforts being made in Australia. The program, he had asserted, should be controlled from Washington and other routes, including that across the central Pacific from Hawaii, be utilized. "If it is left as a subsidiary effort," he told Marshall, "it will never be accomplished."34 Immediately the supply experts in the War Department, on the basis of the President's request, made a quick survey of the problem. Their conclusion was that direct supply of the Philippines from the United States by way of Hawaii was "practical and desirable." Six World War I destroyers, they pointed out, could be converted to cargo vessels for this purpose. The plan was quickly approved.35

The schedule established under the new program called for six sailings, the first vessel to leave New Orleans on 28 February, the last on 22 March. But there were delays in assembling the cargoes, selecting the route, and finding gun crews, and it was not until 2 March that the first ship sailed. The others followed later in the month, two sailing from New Orleans through the Panama Canal to Los Angeles and then Honolulu, the others directly from the west coast. But they had left too late and none ever reached their destination.36

Submarines and aircraft as well as surface vessels were utilized in the desperate attempt to supply the beleaguered garrison. The underwater craft could carry rations and ammunition directly to Corregidor but in such limited amounts that the ten trips made netted a total of only 53 tons of food (less than one meal for the men on Bataan), 3,500 rounds of badly needed 3-inch antiaircraft ammunition, over 1,000,000 rounds of .50 and .30-caliber ammunition, and about 30,000 gallons of diesel oil for the power plant on Corregidor. The aircraft, with more limited space, were used largely for medical supplies. They succeeded in bringing their cargoes as far as Del Monte in Mindanao, but most of the quinine and morphine so critically needed on Bataan remained there.37

By mid-March the opportunity to bring supplies to Bataan and Corregidor had been lost. The Japanese were in control of the air and sea routes and


had blocked the passage between Mindanao and the Visayas to Manila Bay. The total effort and large sums expended by that time had produced negligible results in terms of tonnages delivered to the troops. But it was an effort that had to be made, no matter how high the cost or slim the chance of success. The American people owed at least that much to the gallant Philippine garrison.


From the beginning there was little doubt in Washington that the Philippine garrison was doomed. After the Japanese victory in Malaya and in the Netherlands Indies, the outcome in the Philippines was certain. It was only a question of time and there were many who thought the battle would be over very soon. But if the garrison was doomed, what would happen to General MacArthur? Was he to be allowed to fall into Japanese hands, lost forever to the Allied cause? The answer was self-evident. MacArthur's services were too valuable to be sacrificed in a hopeless cause and he must be rescued to lead other forces in the war against Japan.

There were difficulties to this solution. A command commensurate with his rank and seniority must be found for him. The timing and circumstances of his departure must be arranged with great care to avoid the appearance of abandoning the Filipinos to whom he was the symbol of resistance. And MacArthur himself might show an understandable reluctance to leave his troops in the midst of battle. If he was ordered out, Colonel Hurley said, it would have to be by the President and in such a way that his reputation, "his honor and his record as a soldier," would not be compromised.38

The first reference to this matter came on 4 February when General Marshall, undoubtedly at the direction of the President, mentioned to MacArthur the possibility of his transfer to another command should Bataan fall, leaving only Corregidor in American hands.39 "Under these conditions," he told MacArthur, "the need for your services there might well be less pressing than at other points in the Far East." There were, Marshall explained, two possibilities. One was for MacArthur to go to Mindanao to direct guerrilla operations and to await the supplies which would make a counterattack possible. The other was to go directly to Australia and there resume command of all U.S. Army forces in the Far East. No decision had yet been made on his future employment, Marshall went on, and before one was he wanted the confidential views of the Philippine commander. "It is to be understood," he concluded, "that in case your withdrawal from immediate leadership of your beleaguered force is to be carried out it will be by direct order of the President to you."40

Whatever MacArthur thought about this proposal he kept his own counsel


and carefully avoided the subject in the days that followed. But he did say to the President, a week later and in another connection, that he and his family -- his wife and young son were still on Corregidor with him -- would "share the fate of the garrison."41 Marshall picked up this statement and a few days later, in a message dealing with the need for antiaircraft ammunition, urged MacArthur to send his family to safety for his next assignment might separate them "under circumstances of greatly increased peril" and "poignant embarrassment." MacArthur answered the inquiry about ammunition but pointedly omitted any reference to the personal aspects of Marshall's message.42

Nothing further was said about the matter for another week, though it must have been discussed more than once at the White House where MacArthur's worth was rated by one officer as the equivalent of five Army corps. Finally, on 21 February, when it was already evident that ABDACOM was doomed and that a new command would have to be established in the Southwest Pacific, MacArthur received word that the President had tentatively decided to order him to Mindanao, but was not "sufficiently informed as to the situation and circumstances to be certain that the proposal meets the actual situation."43

The next day, without waiting for a reply from Corregidor, the President made his decision and ordered MacArthur to leave for Australia as soon as possible, stopping at Mindanao only long enough "to insure a prolonged defense." On his arrival in Australia he would assume command of a new theater of operations in the Southwest Pacific, arrangements for which were then in progress. So urgent was this new assignment that he was to make ready immediately and not to "delay in Mindanao" longer than a week. Washington would provide the transportation.44

MacArthur's first reaction was to refuse the assignment and remain with his men. But after consultation with the senior members of his staff, who pointed out that he could do more for the Philippine garrison in Australia than on Corregidor, he decided to accept.45 He did not, however, accept the injunction to leave immediately. Pointing out that his abrupt departure might have an adverse effect on morale, he asked for permission to delay his departure until, as he put it, the "psychological time" presented itself. "Please be guided by me in this matter," he urged the President. "I know the situation here in the Philippines and unless the right moment is chosen for this delicate operation, a sudden collapse might occur." This permission was readily granted as was authority to call on the Army and Navy commanders in Australia for the transportation he would require.46


The "psychological time" arrived in the second week of March. It was then that MacArthur judged the situation on Bataan stable enough for him to leave without risking "a sudden collapse." Arrangements for transportation were quickly made and the officers to accompany him and his family carefully selected. On the 11th all was ready and as darkness settled over Manila Bay, MacArthur stepped into the first of the four PT boats that would take him and the rest of the group, all together twenty-one persons, to Mindanao.47

The trip to Mindanao took two nights. On the first the group reached a small uninhabited island in the central Philippines (Cuyo Island) . The small craft had broken formation during the night and became separated, one of them dumping its spare fuel when it mistook another PT boat for an enemy vessel. The next night the group continued south in the three remaining vessels, reaching Mindanao at daybreak. There they were met by Maj. Gen. William F. Sharp, commander of the Mindanao Force, and driven to Del Monte airfield to board the three B-17's which should have been waiting there to take them to Australia. But there was only one on the airfield and MacArthur considered that unfit for passengers. Incensed, he dispatched two messages, one to General Brett in Australia asking for other planes immediately and the other to General Marshall calling for "the best three planes in the United States or Hawaii" with veteran crews. "To attempt such a desperate and important trip with inadequate equipment," he wrote, "would amount to consigning the whole party to death and I could not accept such a responsibility."48

Three B-17's were dispatched from Australia immediately. Two of them reached Del Monte on the night of the 16th, the other soon after. That night the entire group took off and arrived at Darwin at 0900 the next morning. From there MacArthur proceeded to Melbourne, where his arrival was greeted with wild enthusiasm by the Australians. He had made the hazardous journey, "undoubtedly unique in military annals" he told General Marshall, in safety, but it would be more than two and a half years before he would redeem his pledge to return to the Philippines.49

The departure of General MacArthur had no immediate effect on operations in the Philippines, but it resulted in a complete change in the top command in the islands. This change was not MacArthur's doing. He fully intended to retain his control of the forces in the Philippines as commander of USAFFE from his new headquarters 4,000 miles away. The headquarters itself as well as its most important staff officers he took to Australia with him. But he left behind an advance echelon and it was through this small staff headed by his G-4, Col. Lewis C. Beebe, whom he designated deputy chief of staff of USAFFE and recommended for promotion, that he intended to exercise his control. Beebe's main task would be to get supplies for Corregidor and Bataan; the direction



of operations would be handled in MacArthur's own headquarters.50

MacArthur realized full well the disadvantages of exercising command so far from the battlefield. These he sought to overcome by organizing his forces into four major commands and giving to each greater control over its operations. For the troops on Bataan, and those still holding out in the mountains of Luzon, he established the Luzon Force and named General Wainwright as its commander. Wainwright's old job as I Corps commander was given to Maj. Gen. Albert M. Jones. Thus, for the first time in the campaign the fighting on Bataan came under a separate command, which was, in effect, an army headquarters directing the operations of two corps. Previously this direction had been provided by USAFFE.51

The task of holding Corregidor until his return, MacArthur assigned to Maj. Gen. George F. Moore, commander of the Harbor Defense of Manila Bay. His last instructions to Moore were to set aside enough food to maintain 20,000 men on half-rations until 30 June 1942 in the expectation that if Bataan fell the Philippine Division would be brought to Corregidor to make a last stand there. When he could hold out no longer, MacArthur told him, he was to destroy Corregidor's formidable armament so that it could not be used against the Americans when they returned.52

The other two commands MacArthur left behind included the remaining forces in the Philippines. Previously these forces had been organized into the composite Visayan-Mindanao Force under General Sharp. On 4 March, MacArthur split this command and created a separate Visayan Force under Brig. Gen. Bradford C. Chynoweth. Sharp remained in command of Mindanao, the only island south of Luzon on which a major Japanese force had landed.53 This move was probably designed to permit General Sharp to devote all his energies to the defense of Mindanao, the base from which MacArthur still hoped to mount a counteroffensive against the Japanese.

But careful as he had been in making


these arrangements (to go into effect the day after his departure), and briefing the force commanders and new deputy chief of staff, MacArthur neglected one thing -- to inform the War Department. Whatever the reasons, the result was utter confusion. The War Department assumed that Wainwright, the senior officer in the islands, was in command of all forces in the Philippines as MacArthur had been, and addressed him as such. But the messages, intended for Wainwright and marked for the commander in the Philippines came to Beebe who had no recourse but to refer them to MacArthur, then en route to Australia. Beebe's position was an embarrassing one and he urged his chief repeatedly to clear up the matter with Washington. But to no avail. MacArthur remained silent and the War Department uninformed.54

Events finally overwhelmed General Beebe. On the 20th came messages from the President and Chief of Staff, addressing Wainwright as commander in the Philippines and telling him of his promotion to lieutenant general. No confusion was possible. "Upon the departure of General MacArthur," wrote Marshall, "you become commander of U.S. forces in the Philippines."55 Beebe had no choice but to turn over the messages to Wainwright, who, next morning, formally assumed command of U.S. Forces in the Philippines (USFIP), the name of his new headquarters, and designated Beebe his chief of staff. Like MacArthur, he commanded the naval forces as well as those of the Army, and was therefore a joint commander.56

It was only when MacArthur learned of Wainwright's assumption of command on the 21st that he informed the War Department of his own arrangements. To Marshall these seemed unsatisfactory for a variety of reasons, and he told the President so. Wainwright, he felt, should continue in command. The President accepted this advice and MacArthur was advised that unless he had strenuous objections, Wainwright would retain his new post.57 MacArthur made no objections. He understood thoroughly Marshall's difficulties; he said, and would accommodate himself to the arrangements already made. "Heartily in accord with Wainwright's promotion to lieutenant general," he radioed, "His assignment to Philippine command is appropriate."58

Thus ended the uncertainty and confusion. Wainwright was now confirmed as the commander of all forces in the Philippine Islands with the large authority and heavy responsibilities formerly possessed by General MacArthur. But he was not independent of his former commander, for MacArthur, though not yet officially appointed to his new office, had acquired even greater responsibilities than before and command over an area stretching from Melbourne to Manila.


Table of Contents ** Previous Chapter [7] ** Next Chapter [9]


1. 65th Brigade Opns Rpt, Mt. Natib, p. 3; 14th Army Opns, Japanese Studies in World War II, 1, I, 39, 60-62, 73-76. Most of the material covered in this chapter is treated at greater length in Morton, The Fall of the Philippines, chs. XV-XXII. For the convenience of the researcher, footnote references are to the original sources rather than to the author's earlier volume.

2. USAFFE Field Orders 1 and 2, 6 and 7 Jan 42 and GO 3, 7 Jan 42, copies on OCMH.

3. 65th Brig Opns Rpt, Mt. Natib, apps. 3 and 20, p. 15.

4. 65th Brig Opns Rpt, Mt. Natib, pp. 33, 38.

5. Rad, MacArthur to Marshall, N o. 108, 23 Jan 42, AG 381 (11-27-41 sec. 1) Far East.

6. United States of America vs. Masaharu Homma, pp. 3062-63, testimony of Homma; pp. 2450, 2457, 2576, testimony of Lt. Gen. Takaji Wachi and Col. Yoshio Nakajima, National Archives; 14th Army Opns, Japanese Studies in World War II, 1, I, 116.

7. Rad, MacArthur to CG Bataan Service Comd, 6 Jan 42, AG 430 (25 Dec 41); Inventory of Rations, 3 Jan 42 AG 430.2 (3 Jan 42) both in Phil Rcds.

8. See Rpts of the QM Phil Dept in AG 319.1 (29 Jan 42) Phil Rcds.

9. Material on the prevalence of disease can be found in AG 440 (26 Jan 42) and AG 710 (24 Mar 42) Phil Rcds; Col Wibb E.W.. Cooper, Med Dept Activities in the Phil. ann. XIV or USAFFE-USFIP Rpt of Opns, copy in OCMH.

10. Cooper, Med Dept Activities, pp. 32-33, 55, 57-61.

11. Col Harry A Skerry, Comments on Engineer Hist, No. 18; Col Ray M. O'Day, Hist of 21st Div (PA), II, 39, both in OCMH.

12. Ltr Order, USAFFE to All Unit Comdrs, 15 Jan 42, sub: Msg from Gen MacArthur, copy in OCMH.

13. Ltr, MacArthur to Hoover, 21 Jul 59, OCMH. New York Times, December 21, 1941.

14. Col Richard C. Mallonée, Bataan Diary, II, 69, copy in OCMH.

15. Rad, MacArthur to Marshall, No. 20, 7 Jan 42, AG 381 (11-27-41 Gen) Far East. See also hi messages of 27 December and 1 January to the Chiefs of Staff, in same file and in WPD 4639-2.

16. Rad, MacArthur to Marshall, Nos. 2 and 3, 1 Jan 42, WPD 4639-2.

17. Ibid.; Rad, MacArthur to Marshall, No. 20, 7 Jan 42, AG 381 (17-41 Gen) Far East.

18. Rad, Marshall to MacArthur, 2 Jan 42, WPD 4639-2.

19. Memo, Gerow for CofS, 3 Jan 42, sub: Relief of Phil, WPD 4639-3. There is no record of formal approval of this s. Both Stimson and Marshall noted it, but made no comment.

20. Rads, MacArthur to Marshall, No. 9, 4 Jan 42; AG 381 (11-27-41 Sec 1) Far East; Marshall to Brett, No. 671, 5 Jan 42; COMINCH to CINCAF, same date; MacArthur to Marshall, No. 26; COMINCH to CINCAF; Brett to Marshall, No. 485, all dated 9 Jan 42 and in WPD Msg File.

21. Rads, MacArthur to Marshall, No. 72, 17 Jan 42; Marshall to CG USAFIA, same date, both in AG 381 (11-27-41 Sec 1) Far East; Marshall to Brett, ABDA No. 26, same date, WPD 4560-9; Marshall to MacArthur, No. 949, same date, OCS 18136-196.

22. Rads, Brereton to TAG, 19 Jan 42; Marshall to Brereton, same date, both in AG 381 (11-27-41 sec. 1) Far East.

23. Rad, Brereton to Marshall, No. 88, 22 Jan 42; Barnes to TAG, No. 154, 2 Feb 42, both in AG 381 (11-27-41 sec 2A) Far East.

24. Rad, MacArthur to Marshall, No. 201, 4 Feb 42, WDCSA 381 (2-17-42) Phil. This message, as well as many others from MacArthur, was forwarded to the President.

25. Rad, Marshall to MacArthur, 8 Feb 42, WDCSA 381 (2-17-42) Phil.

26. Rads, Rt. Mills to Marshall, Nos. 226 and 227, 8 Feb 42, CofS Phil Sit File. The first part of the message is addressed to Roosevelt and signed Quezon; the second to Marshall signed MacArthur. Ltr, MacArthur to Hoover, 21 Jul 59, OCMH.

27. Rad, Roosevelt to MacArthur for Quezon, No. 1029, 9 Feb 42, CofS Phil Sit File.

28. Rads, MacArthur to Roosevelt, No. 252, 11 Feb 42; Quezon to Roosevelt, No. 262, 12 Feb 42, both in OPD Exec Files.

29. Rad, MacArthur to Marshall, No. 297, 16 Feb 42, WDCSA 381 (2-17-42) Phil.

30. Rads, Hurley to Marshall, ABDACOM No. 2, 17 Feb 42, AG 381 (7-41 sec. 2B) Far East; 21 Feb 42, OPD 381 SWPA, sec. 1 case 21.

31. Maj Gen Julian F. Barnes, Rpt of Orgn of USAFIA; Maj Richard M. Leighton and Elizabeth Bingham, Development of U.S. Supply Base in Australia, both in OCMH.

32. Rpt of QM Opns in Phil Campaign, ann. of USAFFE-USFIP Rpt of Opns, pp. 29-40, 69-70, and app. A, Rpt of Opns, Cebu Depot, OCMH.

33. Rad, Hurley and Brett for Marshall, 483, 4 Mar 42, AG 381 (11-27-41 sec. 3) Far East.

34. Rad, MacArthur to Marshall, 344, 22 Feb 42, WPD Ready Ref File, Phil.

35. Memos, Somervell for Marshall, 22 Feb 42, sub: Supply of U.S. Forces in Phil, OCS 18136-258; Marshall for Roosevelt, 24 Feb 42, no sub, WPD 4560-26, Marshall for Roosevelt, 28 Feb 42; sub: Blockade Runners, OCS (18136-268. Vice Adm. Bernhard H. Bieri (ret.), then one of the naval planners, recalled later that he never heard of this plan to use World War I destroyers and doubted that it had been submitted to the Navy. Anyone familiar with the steaming characteristics of these 1,000-ton destroyers and with the distances in the Pacific, he wrote, "would have crossed it out as a practical operations." Ltr, Beiri to Hoover, 17 Jul 59, OCMH.

36. Messages dealing with these vessels can be found in AG 384.3 GHQ SWPA and in the Hist Br, OCT, SWPA, Phil Shipping.

37. Rpt, CTF 51 to CINCSWPA, 15 May 42; sub: Submarine Relief Activities, ser. FF6-4, A 16-3, copy in OCMH; Ltr, GHQ SWPA to CG US Air Service, 14 May 42, sub: Phil relief Shipments, AG4.3M.

38. Memo, Hurley for Marshall, 21 Feb 42, PD 381 SWPA, sec. 1, case 21.

39. Read Adm. Charles A. Moore, one of the Navy planners in February 1942, served on the panel that reviewed the present manuscript before publication. At that time, July 1959, he recalled that on several occasions he had mentioned to Secretary of State Cordell Hull the necessity for getting MacArthur out of the Philippines, and that it was Hull who finally went to the President with this suggestion. Notes of Panel meeting, 17 July 1959.

40. Rad, Marshall to MacArthur, 4 Feb 42, WDCSA 370.5 (3-17-42) Phil.

41. Rad, MacArthur to Roosevelt, No. 252, 11 Feb 42, OPD Exec Files.

42. Rads, Marshall to MacArthur, 14 Feb 42; MacArthur to Marshall, 15 Feb 42, both in WDCSA 370.05 (3-17-42) Phil.

43. Rad, Marshall to MacArthur, 21 Feb 42, WDCSA 370.05 (3-17-42) l; Eisenhower Personal Notebook entry of 23 Feb 42, copy in OCMH.

44. Rad, Marshall to MacArthur, No. 1078, 22 Feb 42, CofS folder entitled MacArthur's Move to Australia.

45. Frazier Hunt, MacArthur and the War Against Japan (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1944), p. 64. in this connection, se Jonathan m. Wainwright, General Wainwright's Story (New York: Doubleday and Company, 1945), pp. 1-5.

46. Rads, MacArthur to Marshall, No. 358, 24 Feb 42; Marshall to MacArthur, No. 1087, 25 Feb 42, both in WDCSA 370.05 (3-17-42) Phil.

47. Rads, Marshall to MacArthur, 6 Mar 42, WDCSA 370.05 (2-17-42) Phil; Brett to Marshall, No. 760, 19 Mar 42, 371 (3-19-42); Rear Adm Francis W. Rockwell, Rpt on Gen MacArthur's Evacuation, Office CNO, Naval Hist Div.

48. Rad, MacArthur to Marshall, No. 482, 14 Mar 42, WDCSA 370.05 (2-17-42) Phil.

49. Rad, MacArthur to Marshall, No. 5, 21 Mar 42, OPD Exec Files.

50. Rpt of Harbor Defense of Manila Bay, ann. VIII of USAFFE-USFIP Rpt of Opns, p. 42.

51. Wainwright, General Wainwright's Story, p. 2.

52. Rpt of Harbor Defense, pp. 32, 42ff.

53. USAFFE-USFIP Rpt of Opns, p. 55.

54. Rad, Marshall to USAFIA, No. 740, 18 Mar 42, OPD 381, Phil, sec 1, case 13. The correspondence between Beebe and MacArthur is filed in AG 311.23 (4 Feb 42) GHQ SWPA.

55. Rads, Roosevelt to CG USAFFE, No. 1198; Marshall to Wainwright, No. 1204, both dated 19 Mar 42, o. 1203, 20 Mar 42, OPD Exec Files.

56. MacArthur had acquired this control on 3 January 1942. Rad, Marshall to MacArthur, 30 Jan 42, WPD 3251-75.

57. Rad, MacArthur to Marshall, No. 3 Mar 42, AG 311.23 (4 Feb 42) GHQ SWPA; Memo, Marshall for Pres, 22 Mar 42, sub: Comd in Phil; Rad, Marshall to MacArthur, No. 810, 22 Mar 42, both in OPD Exec Files.

58. Rad, MacArthur to Marshall, No. 19, 24 Mar 42, AG 311.23 (4 Feb 42) GHQ SWPA.

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