Sennacherib (705-681 B.C.) Part 7; Assyrian

Sennacherib decided to march his force to the mouth of the Euphrates, and, embarking it there, to bring it to bear suddenly on the portion of Elamite territory nearest to Nagitu: if all went well, he would thus have time to crush the rising power of Merodach-baladan and regain his own port of departure before Khalludush could muster a sufficient army to render efficient succor to his vassal.

More than a year was consumed in preparations. The united cities of Chaldaea being unable to furnish the transports required to convey such a large host across the Nar-Marratum, it was necessary to construct a fleet, and to do so in such a way that the enemy should have no suspicion of danger. Sennacherib accordingly set up his dockyards at Tul-barsip on the Euphrates and at Nineveh on the Tigris, and Syrian shipwrights built him a fleet of vessels after two distinct types.

Some were galleys identical in build and equipment with those which the Mediterranean natives used for their traffic with distant lands. The others followed the old Babylonian model, with stem and stern both raised, the bows being sometimes distinguished by the carving of a horse’s head, which justified the name of “sea-horse” given to a vessel of this kind. They had no masts, but propelling power was provided by two banks of oars one above the other, as in the galleys. The two divisions of the fleet were ready at the beginning of 694 B.C., and it was arranged that they should meet at Bit-Dakkuri, to the south of Babylon. The fleet from Tul-barsip had merely to descend the Euphrates to reach the meeting-place,* but that from Nineveh had to make a more complicated journey.

[NOTE: The story of the preparations, as it has been transmitted to us in Sennacherib’s inscriptions, is curiously similar to the accounts given by the Greek historians of the vessels Alexander had built at Babylon and Thap-sacus by Phoenician workmen, which descended the Euphrates to join the fleet in the Persian Gulf. This fleet consisted of quinquiremos, according to Aristobulus, who was present at their construction: Quintus-Curtius makes them all vessels with seven banks of oars, but he evidently confuses the galleys built at Thapsacus with those which came in sections from Phoenicia and which Alexander had put together at Babylon.]

By following the course of the Tigris to its mouth it would have had to skirt the coast of Elam for a considerable distance, and would inevitably have aroused the suspicions of Khalludush; the passage of such a strong squadron must have revealed to him the importance of the enterprise, and put him on his guard. The vessels therefore stayed their course at Upi, where they were drawn ashore and transported on rollers across the narrow isthmus which separates the Tigris from the Arakhtu canal, on which they were then relaunched. Either the canal had not been well kept, or else it never had the necessary depth at certain places; but the crews managed to overcome all obstacles and rejoined their comrades in due time. Sennacherib was ready waiting for them with all his troops–foot-soldiers, charioteers, and horsemen–and with supplies of food for the men, and of barley and oats for the horses; as soon as the last contingent had arrived, he gave the signal for departure, and all advanced together, the army marching along the southern bank, the fleet descending the current, to the little port of Bab-Salimeti, some twelve miles below the mouth of the river.

[NOTE: The mouth of the Euphrates being at that time not far from the site of Kornah, Bab-Salimeti, which was about twelve miles distant, must have been somewhere near the present village of Abu-Hatira, on the south bank of the river.]

There they halted in order to proceed to the final embarcation, but at the last moment their inexperience of the sea nearly compromised the success of the expedition. Even if they were not absolutely ignorant of the ebb and flow of the tide, they certainly did not know how dangerous the spring tide could prove at the equinox under the influence of a south wind. The rising tide then comes into conflict with the volume of water brought down by the stream, and in the encounter the banks are broken down, and sometimes large districts are inundated: this is what happened that year, to the terror of the Assyrians. Their camp was invaded and completely flooded by the waves; the king and his soldiers took refuge in haste on the galleys, where they were kept prisoners for five days “as in a huge cage.” As soon as the waters abated, they completed their preparations and started on their voyage. At the point where the Euphrates enters the lagoon, Sennacherib pushed forward to the front of the line, and, standing in the bows of his flag-ship, offered a sacrifice to Ea, the god of the Ocean. Having made a solemn libation, he threw into the water a gold model of a ship, a golden fish, and an image of the god himself, likewise in gold; this ceremony performed, he returned to the port of Bab-Salimeti with his guard, while the bulk of his forces continued their voyage eastward. The passage took place without mishap, but they could not disembark on the shore of the gulf itself, which was unapproachable by reason of the deposits of semi-liquid mud which girdled it; they therefore put into the mouth of the Ulai, and ascended the river till they reached a spot where the slimy reed-beds gave place to firm ground, which permitted them to draw their ships to land.

[NOTE: Billerbeck recognizes in the narrative of Sennacherib the indication of two attempts at debarkation, of which the second only can have been successful; I can distinguish only one crossing.]

The inhabitants assembled hastily at sight of the enemy, and the news, spreading through the neighbouring tribes, brought together for their defence a confused crowd of archers, chariots, and horsemen. The Assyrians, leaping into the stream and climbing up the bank, easily overpowered these undisciplined troops.

They captured at the first onset Nagitu, Nagitu-Dibina, Khilmu, Pillatu, and Khupapanu; and raiding the Kalda, forced them on board the fleet with their gods, their families, their flocks, and household possessions, and beat a hurried retreat with their booty. Merodach-baladan himself and his children once more escaped their clutches, but the State he had tried to create was annihilated, and his power utterly crushed. Sennacherib received his generals with great demonstrations of joy at Bab-Salimeti, and carried the spoil in triumph to Nineveh. Khalludush, exasperated by the affront put upon him, instantly retaliated by invading Karduniash, where he pushed forward as far as Sippara, pillaging and destroying the inhabitants without opposition. The Babylonians who had accompanied Merodach-baladan into exile, returned in the train of the Elamites, and, secretly stealing back to their homes, stirred up a general revolt: Assur-nadin-shumu, taken prisoner by his own subjects, was put in chains and dispatched to Susa, his throne being bestowed on a Babylonian named Nergal-ushezib, who at once took the field (694 B.C.).

[Note: This is the prince whom the Assyrian documents name Shuzub, and whom we might call Shuzub the Babylonian, in contradistinction to Mushezib-marduk, who is Shuzub the Kaldu.]

His preliminary efforts were successful: he ravaged the frontier along the Turnat with the help of the Elamites, and took by assault the city of Nipur, which refused to desert the cause of Sennacherib (693 B.C.). Meanwhile the Assyrian generals had captured Uruk (Erech) on the 1st of Tisri, after the retreat of Khalludush; and having sacked the city, were retreating northwards with their spoil when they were defeated on the 7th near Nipur by Nergal-ushezib. He had already rescued the statues of the gods and the treasure, when his horse fell in the midst of the fray, and he could not disengage himself. His vanquished foes led him captive to Nineveh, where Sennacherib exposed him in chains at the principal gateway of his palace: the Babylonians, who owed to him their latest success, summoned a Kaldu prince, Mushezib-marduk, son of Gahut, to take command. He hastened to comply, and with the assistance of Blamite troops offered such a determined resistance to all attack, that he was finally left in undisturbed possession of his kingdom (692 B.C.): the actual result to Assyria, therefore, of the ephemeral victory gained by the fleet had been the loss of Babylon.

A revolution in Elam speedily afforded Assyria an opportunity for revenge. When Nergal-ushezib was taken prisoner, the people of Susa, dissatisfied with the want of activity displayed by Khalludush, conspired to depose him: on hearing, therefore, the news of the revolutions in Chaldaea, they rose in revolt on the 26th of Tisri, and, besieging him in his palace, put him to death, and elected a certain Kutur-nakhunta as his successor. Sennacherib, without a moment’s hesitation, crossed the frontier at Durilu, before order was re-established at Susa, and recovered, after very slight resistance, Baza and Bit-khairi which Shutruk-nakhunta had taken from Sargon. This preliminary success laid the lower plain of Susiana at his mercy, and he ravaged it pitilessly from Baza to Bit-bunaki. “Thirty-four strongholds and the townships depending on them, whose number is unequalled, I besieged and took by assault, their inhabitants I led into captivity, I demolished them and reduced them to ashes: I caused the smoke of their burning to rise into the wide heaven, like the smoke of one great sacrifice.” Kutur-nakhunta, still insecurely seated on the throne of Susa, retreated with his army towards Khaidalu, in the almost unexplored regions which bordered the Banian plateau, and entrenched himself strongly in the heart of the mountains.

[NOTE: Khaidalu is very probably the present Dis Malkan.]

The season was already well advanced when the Assyrians set out on this expedition, and November set in while they were ravaging the plain: but the weather was still so fine that Sennacherib determined to take advantage of it to march upon Madaktu. Hardly had he scaled the heights when winter fell upon him with its accompaniment of cold and squally weather. “Violent storms broke out, it rained and snowed incessantly, the torrents and streams overflowed their banks,” so that hostilities had to be suspended and the troops ordered back to Nineveh. The effect produced, however, by these bold measures was in no way diminished: though Kutur-nakhunta had not had the necessary time to prepare for the contest, he was nevertheless discredited among his subjects for failing to bring them out of it with glory, and three months after the retreat of the Assyrians he was assassinated in a riot on the 20th of Ab, 692 B.C.*

[NOTE: The Assyrian documents merely mention the death of Kuturnakhunta less than three months after the return of Sennacherib to Nineveh. Pinches’ “Babylonian Chronicle” only mentions the revolution in which he perished, and informs us that he had reigned ten months. It contracts Umman-minanu, the name of the Elamite king, to Minanu.]

His younger brother, Umman-minanu, assumed the crown, and though his enemies disdainfully refused to credit him with either prudence or judgment, he soon restored his kingdom to such a formidable degree of power that Mushezib-marduk thought the opportunity a favourable one for striking a blow at Assyria, from which she could never recover. Elam had plenty of troops, but was deficient in the resources necessary to pay the men and their chiefs, and to induce the tribes of the table-land to furnish their contingents. Mushezib-marduk, therefore, emptied the sacred treasury of E-sagilla, and sent the gold and silver of Bel and Zarpanit to Umman-minanu with a message which ran thus: “Assemble thine army, and prepare thy camp, come to Babylon and strengthen our hands, for thou art our help.” The Elamite asked nothing better than to avenge the provinces so cruelly harassed, and the cities consumed in the course of the last campaign: he summoned all his nobles, from the least to the greatest, and enlisted the help of the troops of Parsuas, Ellipi, and Anzan, the Aramaean Puqudu and Gambulu of the Tigris, as well as the Aramaeans of the Euphrates, and the peoples of Bit-Adini and Bit-Amukkani, who had rallied round Sam una, son of Merodach-baladan, and joined forces with the soldiers of Mushezib-marduk in Babylon. “Like an invasion of countless locusts swooping down upon the land, they assembled, resolved to give me battle, and the dust of their feet rose before me, like a thick cloud which darkens the copper-coloured dome of the sky.” The conflict took place near the township of Khalule, on the banks of the Tigris, not far from the confluence of this river with the Turnat.

[NOTE: Haupt attributes to the name the signification “holes, bogs”, and this interpretation agrees well enough with the state of the country round the mouths of the Diyala, in the low-lying district which separates that river from the Tigris; he compares it with the name Haulayeh, quoted by Arab geographers in this neighbourhood, and with that of the canton of Haleh, mentioned in Syrian texts as belonging to the district of Radhan, between the Adhem and the Diyala.]

At this point the Turnat, flowing through the plain, divides into several branches, which ramify again and again, and form a kind of delta extending from the ruins of Nayan to those of Reshadeh. During the whole of the day the engagement between the two hosts raged on this unstable soil, and their leaders themselves sold their lives dearly in the struggle. Sennacherib invoked the help of Assur, Sin, Shamash, Nebo, Bel, Nergal, Ishtar of Nineveh, and Ishtar of Arbela, and the gods heard his prayers. “Like a lion I raged, I donned my harness, I covered my head with my casque, the badge of war; my powerful battle-chariot, which mows down the rebels, I ascended it in haste in the rage of my heart; the strong bow which Assur entrusted to me, I seized it, and the javelin, destroyer of life, I grasped it: the whole host of obdurate rebels I charged, shining like silver or like the day, and I roared as Kamman roareth.” Khumba-undash, the Elamite general, was killed in one of the first encounters, and many of his officers perished around him, “of those who wore golden daggers at their belts, and bracelets of gold on their wrists.” They fell one after the other, “like fat bulls chained” for the sacrifice, or like sheep, and their blood flowed on the broad plain as the water after a violent storm: the horses plunged in it up to their knees, and the body of the royal chariot was reddened with it. A son of Merodach-baladan, Nabu-shumishkun, was taken prisoner, but Umman-minanu and Mushezib-marduk escaped unhurt from the fatal field. It seems as if fortune had at last decided in favour of the Assyrians, and they proclaimed the fact loudly, but their success was not so evident as to preclude their adversaries also claiming the victory with some show of truth. In any case, the losses on both sides were so considerable as to force the two belligerents to suspend operations; they returned each to his capital, and matters remained much as they had been before the battle took place.

[NOTE: “Pinches’ Babylonian Chronicle” attributes the victory to the Elamites, and says that the year in which the battle was fought was unknown. The testimony of this chronicle is so often marred by partiality, that to prefer it always to that of the Ninevite inscriptions shows deficiency of critical ability: the course of events seems to me to prove that the advantage remained with the Assyrians, though the victory was not decisive. The date, which necessarily falls between 692 and 689 B.C., has been decided by general considerations as 691 B.C., the very year in which the “Taylor Cylinder” was written.]

SOURCE: History Of Egypt, Chaldaea, Syria, Babylonia, and Assyria, Volume 8 (of 12), by G. Maspero/Translated by M. L. McClure

Sennacherib (705-681 B.C.); (Part 8) Assyrian

Sennacherib (705-681 B.C.); (Part 6)Assyrian


World War Two: Fall of Philippines (4-16); Bataan Siege / First Battle; 9 January 1942

The Japanese opened the battle for Bataan at 1500 on 9 January with a concentrated barrage directed against II Corps. As “the roar of artillery … shook the northern portion of the Bataan peninsula,” the Japanese infantry moved out to the attack.’ General Nara’s plan of attack, based on 14th Army’s order to make the main effort on the east, rested on two misconceptions: first, that the American and Filipino troops had been so weakened during the withdrawal that opposition would be light; and second, that the II Corps line was farther north than was actually the case. General Nara’s misapprehension on the first point was quickly corrected when II Corps artillery replied, “particularly ferociously,” to the opening barrage. Tons of explosive hurtling down on the advancing Japanese, ranged along the East Road and backed up four miles on Route 7, made abundantly clear the American determination to stand and fight.

The initial Japanese error in locating the II Corps line was corrected only as the battle developed. In drawing up his plan of attack, General Nara had placed Parker’s left flank in the vicinity of Mt. Santa Rosa, about three miles above its actual location. The American outpost line, he estimated, extended along the high ground immediately below Hermosa, an error of three to four miles. Thus, in making his plans for the major drive down the east side of the peninsula, Nara assumed he would meet the II Corps outposts soon after the attack opened. On these· assumptions he ordered his troops to advance to a line extending east and west of Album, with the main effort on the west to “overwhelm the enemy’s left flank.” At the same time, a part of the force was to swing wide in an encircling movement to take II Corps in the rear. Simultaneously, a secondary thrust by a smaller force would be made down the west side of the peninsula against I Corps. For the attack General Nara organized his reinforced brigade and attached units into three regimental combat teams and a reserve. Against II Corps he sent two regiments supported by tanks and artillery.

Forming the brigade left (east) was Colonel Takeo Imai’s 141st Infantry, supported by a battalion of mountain artillery, a battery of antitank guns, plus engineer and signal troops. Starting from positions near Hermosa, Colonel Imai’s force was to advance southward down the East Road as far as the Calaguiman River. It would have strong support, if needed, from the 7th Tank Regiment which had spearheaded the attack against Baliuag and Plaridel at the end of December. In this first attack on Bataan, the tanks would remain in the rear until the engineers had repaired the bridges and removed the roadblocks along the East Road.

General Nara’s hopes for a quick victory rested on the combat team that was sent against the western portion of the II Corps line. This force, under Colonel Susumu Takechi, consisted of the experienced 9th Infantry, reinforced by a battalion of artillery, an antitank gun battery, plus service and support troops. Takechi’s orders were to “overwhelm” Parker’s left flank, take Album, then send an encircling force around the flank to join Colonel Imai’s 141st Infantry coming down the East Road. To assure the success of this maneuver Nara placed his reserve, the 142nd Infantry, behind the 9th along the narrow trail leading from Dinalupihan to Album, in position to exploit the expected breakthrough of Takechi’s troops.

Artillery support for the advance against II Corps would be provided by Colonel Gentrie’s Army artillery, attached to the brigade for the operation. The guns were initially emplaced north of Hermosa, in position to fire direct support and counterbattery missions. As the battle progressed the artillery would be displaced forward to Orani. Additional support for the 9th Infantry would be furnished by a field artillery battalion advancing eastward from Olongapo along Route 7.

Against I Corps on the western side of Bataan, General Nara sent his third regimental combat team, built around the 122nd Infantry, and led by Colonel Yunosuke Watanabe. Watanabe’s mission was to advance west along Route 7 to Olongapo, then south to Moron. From there he would prepare to advance on Bagac, western terminus of the one lateral road across Bataan. Nara apparently did not expect any resistance above Bagac and was not even certain that he would meet any there.

[The attached artillery consisted of the 1st and 8th Field Heavy Artillery Regiments and the 9th Independent Heavy Artillery Battalion. Colonel Irie was commander of the first-named unit.]

By early afternoon of 9 January all troops were in position, tensely awaiting the zero hour. General Nara himself was at Dinalupihan. At 1500 the big guns opened up.

Attack Against II Corps: The Abucay Line

The II Corps line, called the Abucay line, extended from Mabatang on Manila Bay to the northeast slopes of Mt. Natib. On the east, guarding the East Road, stood the well-trained Scouts of the 57th Infantry. To their left was the untried 41st Division (PA) , once briefly part of the South Luzon Force and now in position along the Mt. Natib trail and Balantay River, defending the center of the Abucay line. Holding the western portion of the corps line was General Jones’s 51st Division (PA), weakened by the long withdrawal from south Luzon. With its left resting on the jungled slopes of Mt. Natib, the division held a line along the north bank of the Balantay River as far east as Abucay Hacienda, a raised clearing in the jungle about five miles west of the town of Abucay.

At its western extremity the line consisted of little more than scattered foxholes. The Japanese attack began on schedule. At 1500 Colonel Imai’s men started down the East Road but had not advanced far before they were met by punishing fire from II Corps artillery which had the road under interdiction. To the west the movement of the 9th Infantry was unopposed and Colonel Takechi reached the vicinity of Album without any difficulty or opposition. The only infantry contact during the day came when a reconnaissance patrol of the 57th Infantry met a Japanese patrol below Hermosa. After a brief fire fight the Scouts had withdrawn.

[The Mt. Natib trail extended from Mabatang westward to the slopes of Mt. Natib. The 57th Infantry and part of the 41st Division had placed their main line of resistance along this trail. Farther west the trail ran below the main line of resistance. The Balantay River appears in many sources and on some maps as the Lavantan or Labangan River. A tributary of the Calaguiman River, it is formed by two streams joining about a mile west of Abucay Hacienda; it then flows northeast until it joins the Calaguiman. The Balantay is shallow and easily fordable; its virtue as a military obstacle was due to the fact that it flows through a deep gorge.]

General Nara, who had expected to hit the II Corps outpost line on the first day of the battle, was greatly encouraged by the progress of his units. Both the 141st Infantry and the 9th Infantry sent back optimistic reports of their advances, and Nara incorrectly concluded that the Americans had “made a general withdrawal” and “fled into the jungle without putting up a fight.”

On the evening of the 9th Wainwright and Parker received orders from Corregidor to have all their general officers assembled to receive an important visitor the next morning. At the first light of dawn a PT boat carried General MacArthur and his chief of staff, Major General Richard K. Sutherland, across the channel from Corregidor to Mariveles. From there they drove up the East Road to Parker’s headquarters where they talked with II Corps officers and inspected positions in that sector. Moving west across the Pilar-Bagac road MacArthur met Wainwright and inspected I Corps installations. When Wainwright offered to show MacArthur his 155-mm. guns, MacArthur replied, “I don’t want to see them. I want to hear them.”

The Japanese unwittingly chose the day of MacArthur’s visit to Bataan to make their first demand for surrender. In a message addressed to the American commander and dropped from the air behind the American lines, General Homma told MacArthur that his men were doomed and the end near. “The question,” he declared, “is how long you will be able to resist. You have already cut rations by half. . . . Your prestige and honor have been upheld. However, in order to avoid needless bloodshed and save your . . . troops you are advised to surrender. … Failing that our offensive will be continued with inexorable force. . . .”

[MacArthur quoted the Japanese message in a radio to the War Department, 27 Jan 42, WPD, Ready Reference File. On the reverse side of his meSS’lge to MacArthur, General Homma later wrote a separate warning for the Philippine troops. In it he advised the Filipinos to save their “dear lives” by throwing away their weapons and surrendering before it was too late. “MacArthur had stupidly refused our proposal,” declared Homma, “and continues futile struggle at the cost of your precious lives.”]

The only answer the Japanese received to their request for surrender was an increase in the volume of artillery fire from II Corps. To avoid the interdiction fire on the East Road, Colonel Imai shifted the bulk of his 141st Infantry to the west on the 10th, with the result that his regiment split into two columns. The easternmost column, consisting of the 2nd Battalion (less two companies), continued to advance down the East Road toward the 57th Infantry; the western column, containing the rest of the regiment, advanced against the 41st Division.

Late on the afternoon of the 10th, the 2nd Battalion struck the 57th Infantry outpost line just below Samal, and after a brief fire fight the Scouts fell back. Though unopposed by infantry, the 2nd Battalion, hindered by artillery fire, was able to advance only as far as the narrow Calaguiman River, about 1,800 yards below Samal. To the west the rest of the 141st infantry, under less intense artillery fire but delayed by the rugged terrain, finally reached the 41st Division outpost line along the Calaguiman River four miles west of the East Road, sometime during the night of 10-11 January.

The 57th Infantry, under the command of Colonel George S. Clarke, was the first unit on the II Corps line to come under heavy infantry attack. Along the main line of resistance were the 1st Battalion on the right and the 3rd Battalion on the left. The 2nd Battalion was in reserve. On 11 January a reinforced company of the reserve battalion, which had established an outpost line south of the Calaguiman, came under attack by the advance elements of Colonel Imai’s eastern column, the 2nd Battalion, 141st Infantry. Soon the Japanese began to cross the Calaguiman, about one mile north of the main line of resistance. By 2300 the Japanese battalion had reached a cane field on the left front of the 57th’s 3rd Battalion, directly before Company L. This cane field, about 150 yards in front of the main line of resistance, had not been cleared on the assumption that artillery would effectively prevent its use by the enemy as a route of approach.

That night the Japanese in the cane field moved out against the main line of resistance. First came an artillery and mortar barrage, which was answered by concentrated fire from the 7S-mm. guns of the 24th Field Artillery (PS). Hardly had the 24th opened fire than the Japanese infantry jumped off in a banzai attack across the moonlit patch of ground in front of Company I. Wave after wave of screaming Japanese troops hurled themselves forward in the face of intense fire. Men in the leading wave threw themselves on the barbed wire entanglements, forming human bridges over which succeeding waves could pass.

Despite the appalling effects of the pointblank fire from the 75’s, the Japanese continued their ferocious attack until Company I, its commander seriously wounded and its executive officer killed, finally gave ground. Company K on the right immediately refused its flank and the battalion commander threw his reserve, Company L, into the fight. When this force failed to halt the Japanese, Colonel Clarke committed a company of the reserve battalion and the Japanese attack stalled. At the approach of dawn, the Scouts began a counterattack which took them almost to the original line. When the action was broken off on the morning of the 12th, there were an estimated 200 to 300 dead Japanese on the field of battle.

During the night a number of Japanese had infiltrated into the 3rd Battalion area, on the left of the regimental line. The 57th Infantry spent most of the next day routing out the infiltrators, man by man, in hand-to-hand combat. After a number of Scouts had been killed, a more efficient scheme for the elimination of the infiltrated Japanese was devised. Sniper parties consisting of riflemen assisted by demolition engineers were formed and these began to comb the 3rd Battalion area systematically. By the end of the day most of the Japanese had been found and killed. It was as a result of his action as the leader of one of these sniper parties that 2nd Lieutenant Alexander R. Nininger, Jr., was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. His was the first of World War II, although Calugas received his award for heroism in the earlier fight at Layac Junction.

The Japanese advance in other sectors had been even less successful than that of the 2nd Battalion, 141st Infantry. The remainder of Imai’s regiment in front of the 41st Division had begun to exert pressure against the outpost line on the night of 10-11 January. Unable to make progress here, it had continued to move westward in search of a soft spot in the line. By late afternoon of the 11th Colonel Imai stood before the 43rd Infantry on the left of the 41st Division line.

The 9th Infantry had also drifted far from its original axis of advance. Despite the lack of opposition Takechi’s advance through the jungle of central Bataan was slow. By the morning of the 11th his 2nd Battalion had progressed only as far as the Orani River, two miles from the 51st Division line. The rest of the regiment had taken the wrong road and marched east until it was now only a few thousand yards northwest of Samal, almost behind the 141st instead of to its right.

It is not surprising that the Japanese had become lost during the advance. Not only were they hindered and confused by the difficult terrain, but they were further handicapped by the lack of adequate maps. “Imperfect maps,” General Nara later wrote, “were the greatest drawback as far as directing the battle was concerned.” He had difficulty also in maintaining communications with his forward units, largely because his signal unit was inexperienced and the men frequently became lost in the jungle. American artillery imposed further difficulties on communications and he complained that “an hour of [radio] conversation a day was considered good, but even this was not always possible.”

It was not until the evening of 11 January that General N ara received enough information to form an approximately correct estimate of his position. It was clear by now that the Americans intended to resist his advance and that this resistance would be far stronger than he had expected. His units had strayed from their original paths, their gains had been small, and they were becoming disorganized. “Besides the fact that the front line force was hampered by the terrain and that the control of the heavy weapons and artillery forces was very poor,” lamented Nara, “the line forces … did not know each other’s intentions and positions.” He decided, therefore, to revise his plans. Modifying an earlier plan he ordered the 141st Infantry, Colonel Imai’s regiment, to continue its westward movement until it became the brigade right flank instead of the left, which it had been originally.

The 142nd, formerly brigade reserve, was reinforced with artillery and ordered to advance down the east coast to become the brigade left flank. Colonel Takechi’s 9th Infantry, less one battalion, was designated as the “encircling unit” and directed to strike at Parker’s left flank and take the corps line from the rear. The remaining battalion of the regiment was ordered into brigade reserve. To get his artillery forward Nara was forced to order the construction of a new road since II Corps artillery effectively denied him the use of the East Road. Zero hour for the attack was set for noon of the 13th, when the 9th Infantry, the “encircling unit,” would jump off; the remainder of the brigade was to move out at dusk of the same day.

On the 12th, as the Japanese moved into position for the attack, all units on the II Corps line found themselves under increasingly heavy pressure. On the right, in front of the 57th Infantry, the Japanese succeeded in establishing themselves again on the south bank of the Calaguiman; in the center they pushed back the outpost line before the 43rd Infantry. It was on the left of the corps line that the Japanese made their most important gains on 12 January, when they tore a gap in the 51st Infantry sector. A counterattack by a reserve battalion regained some of the lost ground but at a heavy cost. By nightfall it was evident that the Japanese, thwarted in their advance on the east, were shifting their effort westward.

The threat to the eastern anchor of the line was still too serious to be ignored. Though the 57th Infantry had beaten back all attempts by the 2nd Battalion, 141st Infantry, to pierce the main line of resistance, it was still hard pressed on the left and was beginning to feel pressure on its right. Late on the evening of the 12th, therefore, General Parker released the two-battalion 21st Infantry (PA) from corps reserve and gave it to Colonel Clarke. With these fresh troops Clarke made plans for an attack the next morning with the 21st Infantry’s 2nd Battalion and the same numbered battalion of the 57th. That night the 2nd Battalion, 21st Infantry, took over the left of the line and the 3rd Battalion went into reserve to free the 2nd Battalion, 57th Infantry, for the counterattack.

At 0600, 13 January, on the heels of a rolling artillery barrage, the 2nd Battalion, 21st Infantry, jumped off in the counterattack. Its task was made more difficult by the fact that the Japanese had pushed a deep salient into the left of the 57th line during the night. The Filipinos advanced quickly and aggressively, pushing the Japanese back across the bloodied ground. It soon became evident to Captain Philip A. Meier, the battalion’s American instructor, that the gap was too large to be filled by his men alone and he moved east to tie in with the 1st Battalion, 57th Infantry, on his right, thus creating a hole between his men and the 41st Infantry on his left.

Colonel Clarke, the 57th commander, thereupon ordered the 3rd Battalion of the 21st Infantry from reserve to plug the gap. As the battalion began to move up at about 1300 it came under Japanese artillery fire and was pinned down. When the artillery fire ceased three hours later, the 2nd Battalion, 57th Infantry, counterattacked and advanced to within 150 yards of the original line. By late afternoon the gap had been closed and the Japanese were left in possession of only a small salient on the left of the 57th Infantry line, a meager return indeed for four days of hard fighting. The counterattack by the 21st Infantry on the morning of the 13th had forestalled the Japanese offensive in that sector, leading General Nara to complain that “the battle did not develop according to plan.”

Elsewhere along the II Corps front he was more successful. His artillery and air attacks that morning had caused damage along the entire front and had caught a battalion of the 23rd Infantry, moving from reserve into position behind the 43rd Infantry, inflicting from sixty to seventy casualties.

Farther west the 141st Infantry had begun to push against the right of General Jones’s line, in the 51st Infantry sector, during the morning, and had forced Jones back to his main line of resistance along the high ground on the north bank of the Balantay. The advance of the 9th Infantry down the center of the peninsula, “hampered by the terrain” and, Colonel Takechi reported, considerable resistance, had failed to reach the main line of resistance on the 13th. Japanese pressure next day, the 14th, was heaviest on the left of the Abucay line. Here the 141st Infantry hit the 43rd Infantry, forcing the outposts along the Balantay back across the river. The 51st Division to the left thereupon abandoned the main line of resistance and pulled back to positions on the south bank of the Balantay.

Farther west the 9th Infantry continued its effort to encircle the corps left flank, but failed again to reach the main line of resistance. The reports reaching Nara that night were generally favorable, but they could not obscure the fact that the attack had failed or that “the enemy’s established fire net was increasing in intensity . . .and enemy artillery was concentrating fire on [the east] front without a minute’s respite.”

By 15 January the Japanese drive no longer constituted a serious threat to the eastern anchor of the Abucay line, and Colonel Arnold J. Funk, who had relieved Clarke at about 1200 on the 13th, replaced the 21st Infantry with the 22nd, which had been made available by corps. But in the center, where the 43rd Infantry had been reinforced by the 23rd, the threat of a break-through became serious. It was here, at the boundary between the 41st and 51st Divisions, that the main enemy blow came on the 15th with a strong attack by Imai’s 141st Infantry.

The reinforced 43rd, on the left of the 41st Division, held firm, but General Jones had to commit his division reserve as well as his service troops to maintain his position on the Balantay. The fight continued throughout the day and at about 1600 a small party of Japanese troops crossed the river in the face of heavy fire and occupied a hill between the 51st and the 43rd Infantry. The Filipino troops sought determinedly to drive the enemy back across the river, but, despite claims by Parker and Jones that. the 51st line was unbroken, the Japanese, at the end of the day, still retained their foothold on the south bank of the Balantay. With the 9th Infantry in position about 1,000 yards to the west, the prospects for the next day were distinctly unfavorable.

General Jones was in a serious position. Although his division was still in place, his troops were “very perceptibly weakening.” Unless he received reinforcements, he told General Parker, he might have to fall back from the main line of resistance. To meet this demand for more men, the II Corps commander, who had already committed his reserve, was forced to request additional troops from MacArthur’s headquarters.

This request had apparently been anticipated. The center of the Abucay-Mauban line, where the fight was now becoming critical and where the terrain made physical contact between the two corps extremely difficult if not impossible, had been a matter of concern to high-ranking officers in MacArthur’s headquarters from the very start. After his visit to Bataan with MacArthur on the 10th, General Sutherland had criticized the disposition of the troops and expressed the fear that the enemy “would attack down the center of the peninsula over the roughest terrain and not along the coast where the roads were located.” The bulk of the forces on Bataan, he noted, was not deployed to meet such an attack, and he had suggested to the two corps commanders that they shift their troops so as to strengthen their interior flanks. The following day, 11 January, the subject had been raised again in an order which directed that contact between the two corps “be actual and physical” and that all avenues of approach, including “the rough area in the center of the Bataan Peninsula,” be covered.

After an inspection of the front line on 12 January, General R. J. Marshall, USAFFE deputy chief of staff and commander of the Bataan echelon of that headquarters, also became concerned over the weakness of the center of the line. He discussed the problem with General Wainwright who, he wrote, “did not agree entirely, saying that he thought that the center of our position was too difficult terrain for the major attack.” Seriously disturbed, Marshall turned to Sutherland for aid. “I don’t believe,” he deelared, “we can over-estimate the importance of denying observation of both our battle positions, which would be available to the enemy were he in possession of Mt. Natib.”

Parker’s request for reinforcements, therefore, came as no surprise to Sutherland and Marshall who had already ordered various units into the II Corps area. From USAF FE reserve came the Philippine Division (less 57th Infantry) and from Wainwright’s corps came the Philippine Army 31st Division (less elements). When Parker learned of these reinforcements he made plans to use the former when it arrived for a counterattack to restore the line and the latter initially as corps reserve and later to relieve the Philippine Division after the counterattack.

While the reserves were moving into position on the night of 15-16 January, General Parker decided to make an immediate effort to regain the ground lost on his critical left flank, and ordered the 51st Division to counterattack on the morning ot the 16th. To strengthen the division for this venture he gave General Jones the 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry, which had already seen action in the fight along the East Road. Jones vigorously protested the order to counterattack, pointing out to his corps commander that his main line of resistance was tactically unsound and that “the weakened condition of his division from continuous combat and heavy losses during the past month” made the ordered counterattack “extremely hazardous.” Moreover,” he asserted, “the present position was being held only with great difficulty.” His protests were unavailing and it was with little hope of success that he made his preparations.

[In this memorandum Marshall stated that he was sending Colonel Funk, who had not yet assumed command of the 57th Infantry, to See Wainwright again to find out what was being done to protect the right flank of I Corps. When Funk took command of the 57th, the visit was canceled. /\The battalion was to arrive at Abucay Hacienda at about 0400 of the 16th. There is a difference of opinion in the source as to the identity of the unit given Jones. Some claim it was the 21st Engineers; others, the 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry. This confusion may arise from the fact that the 21st Engineers got into the fight in this sector later, and that the battalion of the 21st was late in reaching the 51st Division.]

The 51st Division attack began on schedule at dawn of the 16th and immediately ran into strong enemy resistance. The Japanese considered this area to be, in Nara’s words, “the pivot point of the entire enemy position” and apparently expected the counterattack. Despite the heavy opposition the 51st Infantry on the division right succeeded in beating back the Japanese in its sector. So successful was the regiment that it pushed ahead of the units on its right and left, thereby creating a dangerous salient in the line.

The enemy was quick to take advantage of Jones’s exposed position. About noon elements of the 141st Infantry pressed in against the right (east) of the salient and began infiltrating between the 51st Infantry and the 43rd Infantry to its right. At about the same time the 9th Infantry which had been approaching Parker’s left flank from the north struck the left side of the salient and pressed in between the 51st and 53rd Infantry. The 51st was thus threatened by a double envelopment.

Under pressure from three directions, the entire 51st regimental line gave way and the Filipino troops fled to the rear in disorder, exposing the 43rd to envelopment by the 141st Infantry. Colonel Imai recognized the danger as well as the advantage of his own position immediately. Should he push ahead after the 51st he might well leave his own left flank exposed to attack by the 43rd Infantry, whose strength he did not know. He decided against this risk and after a brief pause for reorganization sent the bulk of his regiment eastward against the 41st Division.

The 43rd Infantry, on the left, was now forced to refuse its flank back to the reserve line, where, under the calm guidance of Lieutenant Colonel Eugene T. Lewis, regimental instructor, it held against the repeated onslaughts of Imai’s men. Lewis was given additional men to hold the refused flank when a hastily organized provisional battalion, consisting of the 41st Engineer Battalion, signal and quartermaster troops, and stragglers, was thrown into the action.

While a portion of the 141st Infantry was pressing the attack against the 43rd and 51st Infantry, other elements of Colonel Imai’s regiment were pushing the 42nd Infantry, on the east (right) of the 43rd, threatening to drive between the two. To halt the Japanese here, a battalion of the 23rd Infantry was attached to the 42nd and the attackers were beaten off. Farther east elements of the 142nd Infantry joined with the 2nd Battalion, 141st Infantry, which had borne the brunt of the fighting in the 57th Infantry sector earlier, in an attack against the 41st Infantry, on the division right flank. Here the Japanese were repulsed only after the 3rd Battalion, 32nd Infantry, the first element of the reserve 31st Division (PA) to reach II Corps, was sent into action.

The disintegration of the 51st Infantry had exposed not only the left flank of the 43rd but also the right of the 53rd Infantry, westernmost unit on the II Corps line. Colonel Boatwright, 53rd Infantry commander, attempted to maintain contact with the 51st on his right by pulling back his regimental flank to conform to that of the adjacent unit. This effort proved unsuccessful. Behind and to the left rear of the 51st Infantry was the 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry, in position to support the 53rd and available for a counterattack if necessary.

This battalion, which had been given General Jones by corps as division reserve before the counterattack, had arrived in the 51st Division sector late on the morning of the 16th, and without Jones’s knowledge had taken up a position behind the critical portion of the line. Throughout the action of the 16th, Jones was unaware of its presence and firmly believed that he was operating without a Consequently the 3rd Battalion, 21st, saw little action during the 16th and withdrew later to Guitol. Though the situation in the 53rd Infantry sector appeared desperate, it was not as dangerous as it seemed, partly because of the presence of the 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry, and partly because of the Japanese dispositions.

Neither Boatwright nor General Jones knew that Colonel Imai had decided to throw the bulk ofthe 141st Infantry against the 43rd Infantry rather than against the 53rd. Nor did either know that the 9th Infantry, which was in front and to the right of the 53rd, had halted at this critical moment to reorganize after its long march through the jungled heights of central Bataan. Instead, the 51st Division staff was convinced that disaster was imminent and the situation too precarious to permit the 53rd to remain in place: In Jones’s absence at the front, the division chief of staff therefore ordered Boatwright to fall back to the southwest farther up the slopes of Mt. Natib and establish physical contact with I Corps, a task that thus far had proved impossible.

[There is a good deal of confusion and controversy in contemporary records and in diaries and interviews over the movements and action of the 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry. Since it did not take an important part in the counterattack of the 16th, the activities of this battalion have not been covered in detail here. Richards, Steps to a POW Camp, pp. 17-19; Jones, 51st Div (PA) Order of Events; O’Day, 21st Div (PA), II, 25; Oster and Richards, 21st Inf (PA), p. 3, Chunn Notebooks; Itr, Jones to Ward, 3 Jan 52, OCMH; Itr, MacDonald to Jones, 21 Dec 51, OCMH.]

The withdrawal of the 53rd Infantry across the precipitous slopes of Mt. Natib was made under the most trying conditions and proved a harrowing experience. The men became separated in the jungle and along the winding trails and the regiment failed either to establish a position on Mt. Natib or to tie in with I Corps. The majority of the men finally reached Guitol, tired, hungry, and footsore; but others, after a march through some of the most difficult country in the Philippines during which they subsisted on leaves, shrub roots, and boiled snails, reached Bagac on the west coast.

With the troops that succeeded in making their way south General Jones organized a covering force late on the afternoon of the 16th. This force he placed astride the Guitol trail, approximately 4,000 yards south of the Balantay River line from which he had launched his counterattack that morning. It was not this covering force that saved the II Corps line but the failure of the Japanese to exploit their advantage. The two Japanese units in position to envelop the left flank of the corps chose instead to pursue other, less profitable objectives. The 141st Infantry had flung itself against the left flank of the 41st Division instead of attempting to take it in the rear.

With the 51st Division in retreat, such a maneuver might well have been more rewarding than the attack against the 43rd Infantry, which had successfully refused its left flank. The 9th Infantry, Nara’s “encircling unit,” was under orders to move southeast down the Salian River valley, a short distance behind the II Corps line. Had Colonel Takechi moved through the gap between the 51st and 41st Divisions he could have reached the Salian River quickly and turned the corps left flank. Instead, misled by poor maps which confused the Abo-Abo and the Salian, he began a wide sweep around Parker’s left in preparation for an advance south and southeast down the Abo-Abo River valley. At the critical moment, therefore, when he should have been pushing down the Salian River valley, Takechi was preparing for the march down the Abo Abo, a course that would take him out of the action for the next few days.

General Parker had recognized the gravity of his position almost as soon as the 51st sector gave way. At about 1200 of the 16th he had ordered Brigadier General Maxon S. Lough to move his Philippine Division (less the 57th Infantry) to the left of the 41st Division and to counterattack the next morning with two regiments abreast. The 31st Infantry (US) -not to be confused with the 31st Infantry (PA), a regiment of the Philippine Army’s 31st Division which was also in the II Corps sector at this time moved out early in the afternoon and about 1900 reached its destination, approximately one mile east of Abucay Hacienda. The 45th Infantry (PS) left its bivouac area at 1700 of the 16th but lost its way and when the counterattack began the next morning it was about 5,000 yards to the southeast.

By the evening of 16 January, just one week after he had opened his attack, General Nara was in position to turn the left flank of II Corps. Though forced to change his plans repeatedly and held up by unexpectedly strong resistance, he had made considerable progress. Repulsed on the east by the 57th and 21st Infantry and in the center by the 41st Division, he had shifted the axis of attack to the west and concentrated his forces against the weakened 51st Division whose 51st Infantry had finally broken. This disaster had completely unhinged the II Corps line and left it open to a dangerous flanking attack. If Nara could press his advantage and push his men south and southeast quickly enough he would envelop the entire corps and push it against Manila Bay. He would also make Wainwright’s position untenable and force him to withdraw.

Already the Japanese had driven a wedge between the two corps. The fate of the entire line, from Mabatang to Mauban, depended on the counterattack of the 31st Infantry scheduled for the morning of 17 January. If the regiment was successful II Corps might remain in position for some time; if it was routed the entire line would be forced to fall back in disorder. Should the 31st delay the Japanese temporarily, then the corps might yet gain time for a planned and orderly withdrawal.

Attack Against I Corps: The Mauban Line

The Mauban line along which Wainwright’s I Corps was posted extended from the slopes of Mt. Silanganan on the east, westward along Mauban Ridge, to the small coastal village which gave the line its name.

Along the steep and rugged slopes of the mountain was Company K of the 1st Infantry (PA) which had been ordered to establish contact with II Corps on the right. It was never successful in accomplishing its mission, an impossible one in the view of many officers. To its left was a battalion of the 31st Field Artillery, 31st Division (PA), organized and equipped as infantry. The rest of the line was held by the 3rd Infantry of Brigadier General Fidel V. Segundo’s 1 st Division (PA). About three quarters of a mile in front of the main line of resistance, from Bayandati to a point about midway up the mountain, was the outpost line, manned by elements of the 3rd Infantry. Defending Moron, two miles north of Bayandati, and the sandy stretch of beach between it and the outpost line was Company I, 1st Infantry, and Troop G, 26th Cavalry. In corps reserve was the 91 st Division (PA), with combat elements of the 71st Division attached; the 26th Cavalry; and the 1st Infantry (less detachments).

In drawing up his plans for the conquest of Bataan, General Nara had correctly estimated that decisive results could be obtained most quickly in the II Corps sector and had sent the bulk of his troops down the eastern side of Bataan. Against Wainwright’s I Corps he had sent a relatively weak force, consisting of a combat team composed of the 122nd Infantry (less two companies); a battalion of field artillery, a platoon of engineers, and a squad of signalmen. This force, led by Colonel Watanabe, was under orders to advance westward from Dinalupihan to Olongapo, then south through Moron toward Bagac.

Leaving Dinalupihan at 1900 of the 9th, Colonel Watanabe led his men along Route 7 toward undefended Olongapo. Delayed only by destroyed bridges and demolitions planted earlier by the American engineers, he reached Olongapo at 1400 the next day. His field artillery was still at Dinalupihan where it was to remain until the road could be repaired. Two days later, on 12 January, under orders from 14th Army, the 122nd Infantry embarked in native boats and quickly seized Grande Island, at the entrance to Subic Bay.

In occupying Grande Island the Japanese acquired possession of Fort Wint, the “little Corregidor” of Subic Bay. Strategically situated to guard the entrance to the bay and control the northwest shore of Bataan, this fort had been part of General Moore’s Harbor Defenses and had been manned by coast artillery personnel under Colonel Napoleon Boudreau. On 24 December Colonel Boudreau had been ordered to abandon the fort by the next day and join the troops then entering Bataan. He had completed the evacuation in time, but only at the expense of several thousand rounds of 155-mm. ammunition, some mobile guns, and the fixed guns of larger caliber.

While the support or retention of Fort Wint was probably impossible once the decision had been made to fall back on the Mabatang-Mauban line, its evacuation without a struggle gave the Japanese an important objective at no cost. An American garrison on Grande Island, even if it was ultimately lost, might well have paid substantial dividends and certainly would have given the Japanese many uncomfortable moments. From Fort Wint the Americans with their large guns could have disputed Japanese control of the bay and of Olongapo, which later became an important enemy supply base, and would have constituted a threat to the flank of any Japanese force advancing down the west coast of Bataan.

[Collier, Notebooks, II, 48-49; Itr, Boudreau to author, 12 Dec 47, OCMH; Harbor Defenses Rpt of Opns, p. 23. Neither Boudreau nor General Moore mentions the loss of armament or ammunition but Colonel Collier states there was such loss and the Japanese claim that they captured a number of guns and a large supply of ammunition when they seized the island. 14th Army Opns, I, 88-92. General Bluemel states that four 155·mm. guns were moved to Olongapo and from there moved by tractor into Bataan. Bluemel, Comments on Draft MS, Comments 14 and 16, OCMH.]

It was not until 14 January that Watanabe began his advance southward along the west coast of the peninsula. Wainwright had dispatched a battalion of the 1st Infantry to Moron at the first news of the occupation of Olongapo, but had withdrawn it two days later when the Japanese failed to advance. On the 14th, when the Japanese began to move toward Moron, the battalion was in corps reserve. Part of the 122nd Infantry came down the narrow trail between Olongapo and Moron; the rest of the regiment embarked in boats for Moron where the West Road began. Watanabe hoped in this way to advance more rapidly down the west coast toward Bagac and avoid the delay inevitable if the entire regiment followed the winding trail north of Moron. Unfamiliar with the coast line and handicapped by poor maps, the water-borne elements of the 122nd came ashore at a small barrio midway between Olongapo and Moron and prepared to march the rest of the distance on foot.

Wainwright received word of the Japanese advance almost as soon as the forward elements of the 122nd Infantry landed. In an effort to contain the enemy he dispatched the entire 1st Infantry, as well as the 1st Engineer Battalion and two battalions of artillery, to Moron. He also relieved Troop G of the 26th Cavalry, which had been on patrol since the 10th, and replaced it with the composite Troop E-F of the same regiment. In command of these forces was General Segundo, commander of the 1st Division. Major McCullom, commander of the 1st Infantry, exercised tactical control.

On 15 January the two elements of the 122nd Infantry joined and by the following morning the regiment was within a mile of Moron. When it crossed the Batalan River, just north of the village, opposed only by fire from an American patrol, Wainwright hastened to Moron where he organized and directed an attack by the 1st Infantry and Troop E-F of the 26th Cavalry. In this first engagement in I Corps the honors went to the Filipinos who forced the Japanese back to the river line. Unfortunately, the cavalrymen suffered heavily in men and animals and had to be withdrawn. During the course of the action Major McCullom was wounded in the head and Colonel Kearie L. Berry, commander of the 3rd Infantry, on the main line of resistance, was placed in command of the 1st Infantry as well.

The Japanese continued the attack against Moron during the 17th and by late afternoon penetrated the town in force. Wainwright’s men thereupon withdrew to a ridge about a mile and a half to the south. It is possible that from this position they could have delayed the enemy advance but already strong Japanese reinforcements were moving against the Mauban line.

The decision to commit additional troops to the attack against I Corps had been made by General Homma, the Army commander, not General Nara, who was responsible for the assault against the Abucay-Mauban line. Homma had made this decision on 13 January, by which time he had correctly estimated that Nara’s attack against II Corps “was not progressing favorably” and that the advance of Watanabe’s force was meeting no resistance. By strengthening the force on the west coast Homma apparently hoped to overwhelm the two corps simultaneously. His revised plan called for a continuation of the drive against II Corps by the 65th Brigade and an increased effort on the west by a larger force than originally contemplated. This force would not only advance to Bagac but would also push east along the Pilar-Bagac road to take II Corps from the rear.

To secure the troops for his revised plan of operations against I Corps, General Homma drew on the 16th Division. On the 13th he ordered the division commander to send to Bataan two infantry battalions and as many regimental guns of 75-mm. caliber and rapid-fire 37-mm. guns as possible. This force, when finally organized, consisted of Headquarters, 16th Infantry Group, the 20th Infantry (less one battalion), an antitank battery, and half the regimental gun battery of the 33rd Infantry. Led by Major General Naoki Kimura, 16th Division infantry group commander, it left Manila for San Fernando on 15 January.

Late that night General Homma created the Kimura Detachment and placed it directly under the control of 14th Army, thus relieving Nara of responsibility for operations against I Corps. In addition to the units he had brought with him, Kimura was also placed in command of the troops already operating along the west coast of Bataan. Altogether he had a force of about 5,000 men.

On the morning of 18 January General Kimura reached Moron and assumed control over operations. For the assault against Wainwright’s line along the ridge south and southeast of the town he organized three forces. The 122nd was to attack frontally down the West Road; the 3 d Battalion, 20th Infantry, was to swing east of Moron in an attempt to take the ridge position on the flank. The third force, one company of the 3rd Battalion, was sent far up the mountain around the I Corps flank to cut the Pilar-Bagac road and did not participate in the ensuing action. The 2nd Battalion, 20th Infantry, Kimura held in reserve.

In the belief that his force was not strong enough for a successful stand along the ridge, Wainwright on the 18th directed a withdrawal. The 1st Infantry and the 1st Engineers fell back through the outpost line to take up a position along the main line of resistance between the 3rd Infantry and the battalion of the 31st Field Artillery on the slopes of Mt. Silanganan. The Japanese followed closely and that night drove in the corps outpost line “without much effort.” A counterattack the next morning restored the line but another Japanese assault on the night of the 19th gave the Japanese final and permanent possession of the outpost line.

As the 122nd Infantry continued to push against the 1st Division troops on the left of the Mauban line, the 3rd Battalion, 20th Infantry (less one company), which had been sent around the east flank of the ridge line on the 18th, swung back to the southwest into the I Corps area. Unopposed, the battalion, led by Lieutenant Colonel Hiroshi Nakanishi, either infiltrated through the I Corps line along the slopes of Mt. Silanganan or advanced through a gap between the 1st Infantry and 31st Field Artillery. At about 1000 of the 21st it reached the West Road, three miles east of Mauban in the vicinity of Kilometer Post (KP) 167, and established a roadblock behind the 1st Division: By this move the Japanese placed themselves squarely athwart the only major road suitable for transporting heavy equipment and supplies. Though the enemy force was a small one, less than a battalion, the danger to Wainwright’s position was a grave one. To meet the threat Wainwright was obliged to shift units in his sector. The transfer five days before of the 31st Division (less 31st Field Artillery) to II Corps had left Wainwright with no reserves, and the commitment of the Philippine Division made it impossible to secure reinforcements from USAFFE. He would have to fight the battle with what he had. Most of the 91st Division, including the attached elements of the 71st, had replaced the 31 st on beach defense when that division had gone to Parker.

One battalion of the 92nd Infantry had been attached to the 1st Division and was in place along the reserve line, north of the roadblock. When, on the 19th, word reached General Segundo, the 1st Division commander, that a Japanese force was infiltrating into the line from Mt. Silanganan, he sent three company-size patrols from the battalion of the 92nd Infantry forward to block the trails. They quickly became involved in action along the slopes of Mt. Silanganan and were not available to meet the threat behind the line. The remainder of Wainwright’s force, the 26th Cavalry and elements of the 71st Division, were already committed to the defense of the Pilar-Bagac road and could not be shifted without endangering the security of that vital highway.

[Locations along the roads and trails on Bataan are frequently given in terms of the distance from Manila in kilometers. In the absence of towns’ and villages on Bataan, this description sometimes is the only way to fix a point precisely on a map. These locations corresponded to road and trail markers which read simply “KP” and the number of kilometers from Manila. ]— [There is some disagreement as to the date the road was cut. Some officers gave the date as 20 January; Wainwright and other officers say the block was established on the 21st. The Japanese give the 21st as the date, and that date has been accepted in this account. The time is fixed by the evaluation of Japanese and American sources. See especially Rodman, Engagement of 91st Div (PA) on Moron-Bagac Road; Itr, Rodman to author, 30 Mar 49, OCMH; ltr, Skerry to author, 15 Jul 52, with inds, OCMH.]

When the Japanese roadblock was first discovered, therefore, the only unit available to throw against it from the north was a reinforced platoon of the 92nd Infantry. Colonel John H. Rodman, the regimental commander, ordered 1st Lieutenant Beverly N. Skardon to lead the platoon into action. After an advance of a few hundred yards it came under fire and was forced to halt. Meanwhile, south of the roadblock, a provisional platoon was being readied for action. This platoon was organized and led personally by General Wainwright who, on his way to the front that morning, had heard firing to the north and had hastily gathered about twenty men from the Headquarters Company, 92nd Infantry, to meet this unexpected threat. With these men he attacked the block from the south, but after two hours, realizing he could make no progress with so few men, he left the platoon with another officer and continued forward by another route to organize a larger force.

The initial Japanese block had been established by only a portion of the 3rd Battalion, 20th Infantry. During the day the rest of the battalion picked its way along circuitous routes around blocked trails and down the steep slopes of Mt. Silanganan to join in the defense of the roadblock. Meanwhile, the build-up on the American side continued as additional forces from the 91st Division were released for the impending battle. Scouts of the 26th Cavalry and Company C, 194th Tank Battalion, were also ordered to the threatened area in an all-out effort to clear the road. Colonel Rodman, 92nd Infantry commander, was placed in command of the entire force.

The attack opened on the morning of the 22nd with an attempt by a platoon of tanks to break through the block and establish contact with the 1st Division to the north. By this time the Japanese had constructed antitank obstacles and laid mines, which, with the fire from their 37-mm. antitank guns, effectively held up the tankers. When the two lead tanks of the 194th were disabled by mines, the remaining tanks of the platoon were held up and the attack stalled.

Next, Rodman sent an understrength motorized squadron of the 26th Cavalry and the 3rd Battalion, 72nd Infantry, against the roadblock. This attack was initially successful and the Filipinos reached a ridge near the roadblock. But all efforts to eliminate the block met with failure. Meanwhile, the 122nd Infantry continued to engage Colonel Berry’s 1st Division troops along the main line of resistance.

During the next few days Rodman attempted again and again to drive out the Japanese, first by frontal assaults and then by flanking attacks. A general attack by all units in contact with the enemy was delivered at daylight of the 23rd but failed to gain any ground. Later in the day the 1st Battalion, 2nd Constabulary, in an effort to outflank the enemy and establish contact with 1st Division units, slipped through the jungle south of the roadblock and at nightfall emerged in the vicinity of KP 172, from where it could attack the enemy from the west. Without explanation, however, the Constabulary withdrew during the night to its former position. The next morning, 24 January, the 1st Battalion, 91st Infantry, and the 3rd Battalion of the 72nd attacked the roadblock from the east. Despite support from the Constabulary, which delivered a limited attack from the south, this effort to penetrate the block also proved unsuccessful.

Rodman’s inability to make progress against the roadblock could not have been due to a shortage of troops. By 24 January he had under his command the 2nd Battalion, 92nd Infantry; 1st Battalion, 91st Infantry; 3rd Battalion, 72nd Infantry; the 2nd Squadron, 26th Cavalry; two battalions and a howitzer company from the 2nd Constabulary, attached to I Corps on 22 January; as well as other mixed detachments. All of these units, it must be added, were understrength, tired, poorly fed, and, except for the 26th Cavalry squadron and the howitzer company, had no automatic weapons at all.

Against this array of units Colonel Nakanishi had only a single battalion, less one company. Moreover, the Japanese probably suffered greater hardships than their opponents. It is extremely doubtful that Kimura was ever able during this period to establish a supply route over the mountains and through the I Corps line to the men at the roadblock. Nor is there any definite evidence of enemy air drops to Nakanishi’s troops. His men probably had no supplies other than those they had carried across the mountain. Their staunch defense of the roadblock in the face of such strong opposition was therefore the more remarkable, explainable only by the difficulty of the terrain, which favored the defender, by training, and by determination.

While the fight for the roadblock was being fought to a standstill, the Japanese continued to push against the main line of resistance. Their advance was contested by Colonel Berry’s 3rd Infantry and elements of the 1st Infantry, but by evening of the 24th the “situation was desperate and rapidly growing worse.” The line was under attack from the north, ammunition was short, and the supply route had been cut. The 1st Division troops, whose food stocks were low when the roadblock was established, were suffering from a real shortage of rations. Under the circumstances there was little for Colonel Berry, who for all practical purposes was now commanding the 1st Division, to do except to abandon the main line of resistance. His position was untenable, his supplies gone, his men exhausted and hungry. He could not even rely on continued artillery support since Colonel Fowler’s ammunition was exhausted. On his own responsibility, after consultation with Colonel Fowler and Major A. L. Fitch and without permission from General Wainwright, Berry made the “inevitable” decision to withdraw.

  [Colonel Collier tells an entirely different story about the withdrawal of the 1st Division but this account has not been accepted in the absence of corroborating testimony. Collier, Notebooks, III, 36.]

Having made his decision, Berry still had a difficult problem to face. By what route would his men withdraw and what equipment could he save? On his front was the 122nd Infantry; to his rear was the 3rd Battalion, 20th Infantry, firmly in position along the roadblock. With the West Road blocked, Colonel Berry had only one route southward, the narrow beaches paralleling the South China Sea coast line. If he used this route, he would have to abandon his vehicles, Colonel Fowler’s artillery, and all heavy equipment. Moreover, he would be without cover from air attack while he was on the exposed beaches. Knowing all this, Berry had no choice but to withdraw along this route.

On the morning of the 25th the order to withdraw was issued. All guns, trucks, and equipment which could not be moved along the beaches were to be destroyed. “My officers and myself,” wrote Colonel Fowler, the artillery commander, “destroyed the guns with tears in our eyes.” At 1030 the withdrawal began, with men bearing the wounded on improvised litters leading the way. Covering the withdrawal was the 1st Battalion, 3rd Infantry, blocking the West Road along the slopes of Mauban Ridge. Colonel Rodman’s men kept the beaches clear of Nakanishi’s patrols by pressing in against the roadblock from the west.

The withdrawal of the 1st Division from the main line of resistance was made by battalion, from east to west. The route of withdrawal ran westward through the battalion support area to the West Road and then along it to the 3rd Infantry command post. From here the troops scrambled down trails to the water’s edge, where a station was established to direct the men on their way toward Bagac. By noon of the 25th an estimated 1,000 men had “infiltrated south”; of this number about one fourth were clad only in underwear, carried no arms, and passed as civilians. By nightfall the main force had reached the beach from where the men made their way south as best they could. The withdrawal continued during the night, the covering troops pulling back under cover of darkness to join their comrades in the flight to safety.

The difficult task of disengaging the enemy and moving a large number of men to the rear along a dangerously exposed and inadequate route of withdrawal was accomplished with a minimum of loss and confusion. The maneuver had been well planned and executed. Only one tragic fact marred the success of the withdrawal-the loss of the artillery. Altogether, twenty-five pieces, of which fifteen were 2.95-inch mountain guns and the rest 75’s, had to be left behind.

These had been emplaced just behind the infantry when the line was set up. Their destruction by the retreating artillerymen left I Corps with but two 155’s and four 75-mm. guns (SPM) :’6 At least the destruction was accomplished with the greatest efficiency for the Japanese failed to report the capture of any large number of guns. Presumably when the 1st Division elements and the artillery withdrew from the Mauban line, the other units to its right, the 31st Field Artillery and Company K of the 1st Infantry, also pulled back. There is no record of their movement beyond scattered references to Filipino troops infiltrating to the south.

[There is some confusion as to the exact number of pieces lost as a result of the withdrawal and the figures given are the best that could be worked out from the conflicting sources.]

By evening of the 25th the Mauban line had been evacuated. That night MacArthur reported to the War Department that enemy pressure on the left had forced him “to give ground with some loss including guns of the obsolete 2.95 type.” The situation, he asserted, had been stabilized and “for the present the immediate danger is over.” At the time he sent these reassurances to Washington’ the enemy had already scored a great victory against II Corps and the withdrawal of both corps was in progress.

The Abucay Line Is Turned

A week before the withdrawal from the Mauban line, it will be recalled, the situation in the II Corps area on the east had already become serious. The disintegration of the 51st Infantry on the 16th had unhinged the left flank of Parker’s corps and had left the line exposed. “Unless the 51st Division sector could be regained,” wrote General Parker later, “it was evident that my left flank would be enveloped and the position would be lost.” To recover the lost ground and fix firmly the western anchor of his main battle position, Parker had ordered the Philippine Division (less 57th Infantry) to counterattack at daylight of the 17th. The 31st Infantry (US) had moved into position near Abucay Hacienda the evening before; the 45th Infantry (PS) was still moving up and was about 6,000 yards southeast of that barrio when zero hour came. Thus, the attack, when it was made, was a piecemeal one.

[General Berry stated in an interview that there was not a single American officer with the 31st Field Artillery and that it withdrew without orders from Mt. Silanganan. No light is cast on this subject by General Bluemel’s report since the 31st Division at this time was in II Corps. Interv, author with Berry, Jan 48; Bluemel, 31st Div (PA) Rpt of Opns,]

At 0815, 17 January, the American troops of the 31st Infantry, led by Colonel Charles L. Steel, jumped off from the line of departure and advanced north along Trail 12, nearly a mile east of Abucay Hacienda. On the left was the 1st Battalion; next to it, astride and to the right of the trail, was the 2nd Battalion. The 3rd Battalion was in reserve. The 1st Battalion on the left met little opposition and was able to reach the Balantay River by nightfall. The 2nd Battalion on the right was not so fortunate. About 400 yards from the line of departure it encountered enemy resistance and, despite numerous attempts to break through, was unable to advance farther that day. To fill the gap between the 1st and 2nd Battalions, which had developed as a result of the unimpeded advance on the left, Company K from the reserve battalion was sent into the line.

Plans for the next day’s action were drawn up at a predawn conference held at the 41st Division command post. Present at the meeting were General Lough, Philippine Division commander; Colonel Malcolm V. Fortier, 41st Division senior instructor; Colonel Thomas W. Doyle, commander of the 45th Infantry, which had finally reached the scene; and Colonel Steel of the 31st. After some discussion it was agreed that a coordinated attack by all present would be made that morning. The 31st Infantry was to attack north, and the 45th, echeloned by battalion to the right rear, would deliver the main assault between the 31st and 43rd to the right. The 43rd Infantry was to maintain its position along the regimental reserve line. Artillery support for the advance would be furnished by 41st Division artillery.

As his 45th Infantry moved forward to the line of departure early on the morning of the 18th, Colonel Doyle learned that the 1st Battalion of the 31st was under strong enemy pressure and in danger of being outflanked. A hurried conference between Doyle and Steel produced a revised plan of operations. The 3rd Battalion, 45th Infantry, was now to move to the left of the 31st Infantry, supporting the 1st Battalion of that regiment on the extreme left of the Abucay line. The rest of the units would continue the attack as planned.

The 45th Infantry attack began later than planned, but proceeded without major mishap. The regiment-less the 3rd Battalion, which had lost its way and overshot the mark-advanced between the 31st and 43rd but was unable to reach its objective, the Balantay River, before dark. The 3rd Battalion, after a false start which found it “climbing the backs” of the 31st Infantry’s left company, finally reached the river by 1630. There it settled down to hold a front of 1,400 yards, with no protection on its left except that offered by the jungle. The 1st Battalion, 31st Infantry, to its right was at the river line, but the 2nd Battalion was still short of the river, as were the 45th Infantry elements to its right. Thus at the end of the second day of counterattack the Japanese still held the salient above Abucay Hacienda.

The situation was still threatening. In addition to the danger presented by the westward movement of Imai’s 141st Infantry, Parker was receiving reports from artillery spotters of Japanese, still out of range, moving down the Abo-Abo River valley in a southeasterly direction. These were the men of Takechi’s 9th Infantry, sweeping wide around Parker’s left end toward the positions now held by the remnants of Jones’s 51st Division and the reserve 31st Division near Guitol.

On the 19th the American and Scout regiments resumed the attack. Starting just before noon the 31st Infantry hit the enemy salient only to be repulsed. Time after time the American infantrymen re-formed and attacked, but with no success. Efforts to bring tanks into the action failed when Parker’s request for tank support was refused on the ground that the terrain was unsuitable for tank operations. Sending armor into such an engagement, wrote Weaver, would be “like sending an elephant to kill flies.” On the west, the 3rd Battalion, 45th Infantry, now attached to the 31st Infantry, was under fire throughout the day from troops of the 141st Infantry who had infiltrated into the American line. Only on the right did the Philippine Division make progress that day. There, elements of the 1st and 2nd Battalions, 45th Infantry, were able to reach the Balantay early in the afternoon

[Ltr, Weaver to Wainwright, 20 Nov 45. Weaver, in his comments on this manuscript, states that his remark was made with reference to the use of tanks in the earlier action in the 57th Infantry area and that no request for tanks was made by General Parker at this time. Comment 41, OCMH.]

Despite this limited success the prospects for the Philippine Division counterattack were distinctly unfavorable on the evening of the 19th. Enemy pressure against the left flank had become extremely strong and the 3rd Battalion, 45th Infantry, was under fire from the enemy’s automatic weapons. More ominous was the report from a 45th Infantry patrol that an enemy force-presumably the 9th Infantry-had already passed around the II Corps flank. But General Parker did not know that Nara, abandoning all hope for success along the coastal road, had ordered the 2nd Battalion, 141st Infantry, to rejoin Colonel Imai at the opposite end of the line. Nara had further strengthened the 141st by attaching to it a company of the 9th Infantry. These arrangements completed, Nara directed Colonel Imai to launch an all-out attack against Parker’s left flank and rear “to drive the enemy southeastward and annihilate them.” The attack was to open at noon of the 22nd, by which time all the units would be in place and all preparations completed. On 20 and 21 January the Americans and the Scouts again made numerous unsuccessful efforts to restore the original line.

The terrain, dense vegetation, and the lack of accurate information about the enemy prevented effective co-ordination and made contact between front-line units extremely difficult and sometimes impossible. During these two days the Japanese made their preparations for the scheduled offensive. Leaving enough men in position to contain the two Philippine Division regiments, Colonel Imai gradually shifted the bulk of his men westward to the extreme left of the II Corps line. At dawn of the 22nd, these men began crossing the Balantay northwest of Abucay Hacienda, to the left of the 3rd Battalion, 45th Infantry. By 1000 enough men and heavy weapons had been put across to begin the attack.

The offensive opened shortly before noon with an air attack and an artillery barrage, directed mainly against the 1st Battalion, 31st Infantry, immediately adjacent to the 45th Infantry’s 3rd Battalion on the corps left flank. Colonel Imai then sent his men into the attack. Whether by chance or design, the weight of the infantry attack fell upon the same battalion that had suffered most from the artillery preparation, and the 1st Battalion, 31st Infantry, began to fall back slowly. Under the threat of envelopment from the east and west, the 3rd Battalion, 45th Infantry, broke contact with the enemy and also moved back. The 3rd Battalion, 31st, was also exposed by the withdrawal, for on its right was the enemy salient and on its left was the gap left by the 1st Battalion. It, too, began to fall back, refusing its left flank. By late afternoon the 31st Infantry and the attached 3rd Battalion of the 45th had formed a new line east and south of Abucay Hacienda. The 2nd Battalion remained in place about 1,000 yards east of the Hacienda, along the eastwest road leading to that barrio. To its left was the 3rd Battalion, 31st Infantry, then the 1st Battalion with its flank sharply refused and facing almost due west. The 3rd Battalion, 45th Infantry, was in support about 100 yards behind the 31st Infantry line.

By nightfall on the 22nd, the 31st and 45th Infantry were in approximately the same place they had been five days earlier when they began the counterattack. The physical condition of the men, however, had greatly deteriorated. They had been in action almost continuously during these five days and the strain of combat was clearly evident. The men on the front line had received little water or food and practically no hot meals during the battle. Many had been forced to rely on sugar cane to satisfy their thirst and hunger. All the men showed the effects of sleepless nights spent in beating off an enemy who preferred to attack during the hours of darkness. Casualties had been heavy, and the men were particularly bitter about Japanese air bombardment, against which the Americans had no weapon.

The infiltration tactics of the Japanese, which carried them into and behind the American positions, also did much to wear down physical resistance and lower morale. Japanese artillery fire had been unopposed for the most part, largely because the terrain prevented close artillery support. When the guns to the rear had offered support, they had been quickly forced into silence by enemy dive bombers which buzzed around the offending weapons like bees around a hive. Against an enemy well equipped with mortars and grenade dischargers, and supported by artillery and aircraft, the Americans had only a limited number of improvised hand grenades and 3-inch Stokes mortars with ammunition that contained a very high proportion of duds. “It was only through maximum effort and determination,” wrote one company commander, “that we were able to attack, and later, defend as long as we did.”

General Nara misread entirely the significance of the advance of his men on the 22nd. He felt that the action had not gone well and that progress had been slow. “Indignant in a towering rage,” he could see no hope of victory in sight. General Parker made a more accurate estimate of the situation. “It was now evident,” he wrote, “that the MLR [main line of resistance] in the 51st Division Sector could not be restored by the Philippine Division.” The counterattack of the Philippine Division, on which Parker had based his hopes for restoring the left portion of his line, had failed.

Not only had the Japanese driven in the II Corps left flank but they now threatened to envelop the entire line and pin the corps against the sea. On the 17th, the 9th Infantry (less two companies) had entered the Abo-Abo River valley on its journey southeast toward Orion, far behind the line. Though handicapped by inadequate maps, lack of communications with brigade headquarters, shortage of rations, and the difficult terrain, Colonel Takechi’s men had, by 19 January, reached a position on the flank and in the rear of the line. Their advance, though observed, had been unchallenged.

[65th Brig Opns Rpt, Mt. Natib, p. 29… SLF and II Corps Rpt of Opns, p. 34. “The maps used were drawn to the scale 1 : 200,000. Takechi was not sure where he was “and may not even have known he was following the Abo-Abo River. General Nara was not even aware that Takechi had entered the Abo-Abo valley. 65th Brig Opns, Mt. Natib, pp. 26-31; 14th Army Opns, I,98.]

All General Parker had to meet this new threat was Bluemel’s 31st Division (less elements), the 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry, and the remnants of Jones’s 51st Division. These units were in the vicinity of Guitol, about four miles south of Abucay Hacienda. Still in position astride the Guitol trail, which joined Guitol with Abucay Hacienda, was the covering force consisting of remnants of the 51st Infantry and most of the 21st Engineer Battalion. So weak was this covering force that it could do little more, in Jones’s words, than hold the trail “with both flanks open.”

By the morning of 19 January the commanders at Guitol were receiving reports of the approaching enemy force. Patrols of the 21st Infantry attempted to hold up advance elements of the 9th Infantry but were easily routed. During the middle of the afternoon the Japanese met and engaged elements of the 21st and 31st Divisions before Guitol. The former promptly withdrew, but the green untried 31st Division troops remained in place to fire indiscriminately at friend and foe through the night. The small enemy force withdrew the next morning and was gone when General Bluemel finally quieted his hysterical troops and organized a counterattack with the 3rd Battalion, 31st Infantry.

On 21 January Takechi’s men appeared behind the covering force along the Guitol trail and seized the high ground, from which they could dominate the Abo-Abo River valley. An attempt, first by the 51st Infantry on the north, and then from the south by General Jones, to recapture the hill proved unsuccessful. The covering force, cut off from direct access to Guitol via the trail, was forced to move north that night to Abucay Hacienda, then south by another route to rejoin the division near Guitol. The Japanese were now in position to make good their threat to envelop II Corps. With his left flank driven in and with the Japanese in possession of the high ground dominating the left and rear of his line, General Parker was in a most vulnerable position.

The Withdrawal

On Corregidor MacArthur and his staff had been receiving full and complete reports each day on the progress of the campaign from General Marshall and his assistants in the Bataan echelon of USAFFE. These reports had proved most disquieting, and on 22 January General Sutherland on MacArthur’s orders went to Bataan himself to get “a clear picture of the situation.”

His first stop was Limay, near where General Parker had his headquarters. There he discussed the situation with the II Corps commander before moving on to visit General Wainwright. Actually, Sutherland’s trip to I Corps was unnecessary for, after his talk with General Parker, he had decided that “a withdrawal from the Abucay-Mt. Natib position was essential” He gave both corps commanders verbal warning orders to prepare for a general withdrawal to the reserve battle position behind the Pilar-Bagac road and told them they would receive written orders that night.

Sutherland’s decision, approved by MacArthur, was based on a clear and correct understanding of the tactical situation. The disintegration of the 51st Division, coupled with the failure of the Philippine Division to restore the main line of resistance, had opened a wide gap on the left flank of II Corps through which the enemy had pushed an unknown number of troops. The wedge that now existed between the two corps left both exposed to envelopment and made the entire line untenable. Moreover, the route of withdrawal in I Corps had been jeopardized by the enemy’s establishment of a roadblock behind the line on the West Road. With USAFFE reserve and the reserves of the two corps committed, Sutherland realized that failure to withdraw at this time might well result in disaster.

The decision made, General MacArthur alerted the War Department to the impeding move. “The enemy,” he wrote, “seems to have finally adopted a policy of attrition as his unopposed command of the sea enables him to replace at will.” He pointed out that his losses had been very heavy and “now approximate 35 percent of my entire force” with some divisions showing a loss “as high as sixty percent.” His diminishing strength, he explained, would soon force him to fall back to a new line, where he planned to make his final stand. “I have personally selected and prepared this position,” he told the Chief of Staff, “and it is strong.”

That General MacArthur viewed the situation on Bataan with the greatest concern is evident from the tone of the message and from his specific request to the Chief of Staff that the “fame and glory” of the men on Bataan “be duly recorded by their countrymen.” While his army was still intact, MacArthur declared that he wished to pay tribute “to the magnificent service it has rendered. No troops have ever done so much with so little.” The final pessimistic note came when MacArthur raised the question of his successor “in case of my death.” In such an event he recommended that his chief of staff, General Sutherland, be appointed to succeed him. “Of all my general officers,” MacArthur declared, “he has the most comprehensive grasp of the situation.”

The order for the withdrawal, issued on the night of 22 January, called for the progressive evacuation of the line, to be completed by daylight of the 26th. The troops would start to withdraw under cover of darkness the following day, 23 January, and would continue the withdrawal· on each succeeding night until all troops had reached the reserve battle position. The speed with which these detailed orders were issued indicates that they had already been prepared, an assumption which is entirely reasonable in view of the fact that the Abucay-Mauban line was never intended as the place where the troops would make their last stand. It had been occupied primarily to keep the Pilar-Bagac road in American possession as long as possible and to allow time to prepare the final line to the rear. That line extended generally along the Pilar-Bagac road, “a baked clay road with a double track,” crossing it at various points to take advantage of favorable terrain.

Under the withdrawal plan, II Corps was to move first, on the night of the 23rd-24th, leaving only one night for the withdrawal of I Corps. As Wainwright’s men had been moving back since the 22nd, little difficulty was expected in this sector. The withdrawal of II Corps required a complicated plan, calling for the shift of the 45th Infantry and the 11th Division (less artillery) from Parker’s to Wainwright’s sector.

The first elements to abandon their position would be the heavy artillery and service installations which would begin to move out the first night, 23-24 January, and would arrive at their new positions by daylight of the 25th. A covering force, led by General Lough of the Philippine Division, was to protect the retirement of II Corps’ combat elements from the main line of resistance by establishing a thin line extending from the vicinity of Balanga westward to Guitol. Along this line, from east to west, would be posted the remnants of the 51st Division, the 33rd Infantry (PA), a battalion of the 31st Infantry (PA), one third of the 57th Infantry (PS), and one third of the 31st Infantry (US). General Lough would be supported by Weaver’s tank group and the 75-mm. guns (SPM). From right to left, the front line units would begin to fall back through the covering force at 2300 of the 24th, leaving behind a shell to hold the original position. This shell, consisting of one rifle company and one machine gun platoon for each battalion, with the addition of a battery of 75-mm. guns for each regiment-would start its own withdrawal at 0300 of the 25th. At 2330 on the 25th the covering force would fall back rapidly and by daylight of the 26th, if the movement was completed as planned, all units would be in position along the new line.

[The quotation is from a poem entitled “Abucay Withdrawal” in Henry G. Lee, Nothing But Praise (Culver City, Calif., 1948). Lieutenant Lee was in Headquarters Company, Philippine Division, and wrote the poems included in this small volume during the campaign and in prison camp. He was killed when the prison ship on which he was being transferred to Formosa was hit by an American bomb. The poems had been buried in the Philippines and were recovered after the war.]

During the night of 23-24 January the artillery and service elements withdrew successfully, while all other units made hurried preparations to follow the next night. The covering force took its position during the day, with the tanks, scheduled to be the last to pull out, deployed along the East Road and the so-called Back Road southeast of Abucay Hacienda. The night of 24-25 January was one of confusion. On the extreme right of the line, troops of the 21st Division in the 57th Infantry sector began to fall back from positions above Abucay along the East Road. In the center of the line the 41st Division withdrew along the Back Road.

The intersection of the Back Road with the east-west road connecting Abucay with Abucay Hacienda was the scene of the greatest confusion. Troops poured into the road leading south from all directions. Efforts to organize the men and keep the units intact were fruitless. There were no military police to regulate the traffic and it proved impossible to maintain any semblance of order or organization. At times movement of vehicles and men stopped altogether, despite the best efforts of American and Philippine officers. “It was impossible,” wrote Colonel Miller, commander of a tank battalion, “to do anything but keep the mass moving to the rear-praying-hoping-talking to yourself out loud-gesticulating-and trying to make yourself understood.”

It was a nightmare. Had the enemy chosen this moment to register artillery on the road junction, the cost in lives would have been shocking and the withdrawal might well have ended in a route. On the left of the line the pressure which had been building up against the Philippine Division on the 23rd and 24th reached its climax just as the Scouts and Americans began their withdrawal that night. As the men began to move out of the line, heading east toward Abucay and the East Road, the Japanese hit the thin covering shell. Against determined Japanese onslaughts the shell held long enough to permit the bulk of the men to withdraw. At about 0300 of the 25th the last of the Americans of the 31st Infantry, covered by heavy fire from the 194th Tank Battalion, staggered out of their positions, looking “like walking dead men.” “They had a blank stare in their eyes,”

[Miller, Bataan Uncensored, p. 156. For the withdrawal of each unit the author used the sources relating to the various units already cited. See also Itr, Doyle to Ward, 8 Jan 52, OCMH, in which Colonel Doyle states that at about 0230 of the 25th he “took over this mess of men and trucks” and “cleared the congested area.”]

In prison camp Major Kary C. Emerson of the Philippine Division and II Corps staff talked with many small unit commanders and they all agreed that “coordination was poor, that all roads were clogged with troops and vehicles, and that had the Japanese artillery fired on the roads … our losses would have been very severe … in fact, mass slaughter.”

[Emerson, Opns of II Phil Corps, p. 19. wrote an officer of the regiment, “and their faces, covered with beards, lacked any semblance of expression.” Unwashed and unshaven, their uniforms in shreds, “they looked like anything but an efficient fighting force …. “]

The withdrawal continued throughout the night of 24-25 January, all the next day and on through the night, with the Japanese in full pursuit. On the 25th Japanese aircraft were out in full force, bombing and strafing the retreating soldiers. From early morning until dusk, enemy planes buzzed unopposed over the long columns of men, dropping bombs and diving low to spray the road with machine gun bullets. The Philippine Army soldier, in dusty blue denims, coconut hat, and canvas shoes, watched “with apprehensive eyes” for the first far speck of approaching planes. When the attacks came and the road erupted “in a sheet of death,” the “untrained denim men” milled “like sheep in a slaughter pen.” The reaction of the American infantryman, with his scarred and tilted helmet and shredded khaki trousers black with dirt, was more expressive. At the first alarm, he threw himself to the ground and “in a tone of hurt disgust” cursed … the noble Japanese With four letter Saxon obscenities.

As the II Corps units moved into positions along the new line on the morning of 26 January, they were covered by the two tank battalions. The tanks of the 194th were stretched out for nearly a mile along the north-south Back Road, near Bani, with instructions to hold until two disabled tanks along the narrow road could be moved back.

Atop a knoll at the southern end of the column were the 75-mm. guns (SPM), which, with the tanks, were designated as the last elements of the covering force to withdraw. Between 0930 and 1030 that morning the tankers came under attack from the 141st Infantry, which moved in on the column from the west. In the fight that followed, the SPM’s added their accurate fire power to the armor-piercing 37-mm. shells of the 194th. Unable to advance, Colonel Imai called for artillery support and soon enemy shells were falling near the road-bound tanks.

The enemy’s mortars joined the battle and by noon shells were falling dangerously close to the Americans. Though the two disabled tanks had not yet been pulled out, the tank column was forced to fall back and leave the two behind. Pursued by low-flying aircraft, the SPM’s and then the tanks withdrew to the safety of the new line. Though they had delayed the Japanese only a few hours, they had given the disordered units a chance to dig in for the expected onslaught.

While II Corps was withdrawing under heavy pressure, I Corps fell back with little difficulty. Cut off from the corps commander, Colonel Berry, it will be recalled, had independently decided to withdraw from the Mauban line. Wainwright, in the meantime, had received instructions from General Sutherland to evacuate the Mauban position and fall back behind the Pilar-Bagac road. As he was going forward, he met Colonel Berry who, by his decision, had anticipated Sutherland’s order for a general withdrawal. Wainwright thereupon directed Berry to continue to withdraw but to take his men all the way back to the Pilar-Bagac road. By morning of the 26th, I Corps was in position along the new line to the left of II Corps.

Though they had finally been forced to give ground and abandon the first line of defense, the American and Filipino troops had inflicted heavy casualties on the enemy. The 65th Brigade had entered combat on 9 January with a strength of 6,651 officers and men. By 24 January it had suffered 1,472 combat casualties, almost all of which were in the three infantry regiments. Attached units probably suffered proportionate losses and at the end of the Abucay fight General Nara wrote that his brigade had “reached the extreme stages of exhaustion.”

[65th Brig Opns Rpt, Mt. Natib, pp. 33, 38. Each infantry regiment entered combat with 1,919 men. The 122nd Infantry, which fought on the west coast, suffered 108 casualties; the 141st, 700; and 295]

When the troops of I and II Corps reached the reserve battle position, they were on the final line. Since 24 December, a month earlier, they had fallen back from position after position to reach the safety of Bataan. Here they had held off the overconfident enemy along a line which, because of the terrain in the center, was soon turned.

After two weeks of hard fighting the American and Filipino troops had fallen back again. Bataan had been saved,….. saved for another day Saved for hunger and wounds and heat For slow exhaustion and grim retreat For a wasted hope and a sure defeat. There was no further retreat from the new line. “With its occupation,” MacArthur wrote to the Chief of Staff, “all maneuvering possibilities will cease. I intend to fight it out to complete destruction.”

SOURCE: The Fall Of The Philippines by Louis Morton (United States Army Center of Military History)

World War Two: Fall of Philippines (4-17A): Battle of the Points; Longoskawayan and Quinauan

World War Two: Fall of Philippines (4-15):The Siege of Bataan: Setting the Stage

Epic of Ishtar and Izdubar: Effect Of Ishtar’s Imprisonment In Hades (Part 31); Assyrian

(Love Departs From The Earth—The Earth’s Solemn Dirge Of Woe.)
When Ishtar, Queen of Love, from Earth had flown,
With her love fled, and left all nature prone;
From Earth all peace with love then fled amain.
In loneliness the bull stalked o’er the plain,
And tossed his drooping crest toward the sky,
In sadness lay upon the green to die;
On the far kine looked weary and bereaved,
And turned toward the gods, and wondering grieved.

The troubled kine then gravely chewed their cud,
And hungerless in the rich pastures stood.
The ass his mate abandoned, fled away,
And loveless wives then cursed the direful day;
And loving husbands kiss their wives no more,
And doves their cooing ceased, and separate soar;
And love then died in all the breasts of men,
And strife supreme on earth was reveling then.

The sexes of mankind their wars divide,
And women hate all men, and them deride;
And some demented hurl aside their gowns,
And queens their robes discard and jewelled crowns,
And rush upon the streets bereft of shame,
Their forms expose, and all the gods defame.

Alas! from earth the Queen of Love has gone,
And lovers ‘void their haunts with faces wan
And spurn from them the hateful thought of love,
For love no longer reigns, all life to move.
An awful thrill now speeds through Hades’ doors,
And shakes with horror all the dismal floors;
A wail upon the breeze through space doth fly,
And howling gales sweep madly through the sky;
Through all the universe there speeds a pang
Of travail. Mam-nu-tu[1] appalled doth hang
Upon her blackened pinions in the air,
And piteous from her path leads Black Despair,
“The queen in chains in Hades dying lies,
And life with her,” they cry, “forever dies!”
Through misty glades and darkened depths of space,
Tornadoes roar her fate to Earth’s sweet face;
The direful tidings from far Hades pour
Upon her bosom with their saddest roar;
Like moans of mighty powers in misery,
They bring the tale with awful minstrelsy.
And Earth her mists wrapped round her face in woe,
While icy pangs through all her breast deep flow.

Her bosom sobbing wails a mighty moan,
“Alas! forever my sweet queen hath flown!”
With shrieks of hurricane, and ocean’s groan,
And sobbing of the winds through heights unknown,
Through mountain gorges sweep her wails of woe,
Through every land and seas, her sorrows flow:
Oh, moan! oh, moan! dear mountains, lakes, and seas!
Oh, weep with me dear plants, and flowers, and trees!
Alas! my beauty fading now will die!
Oh, weep, ye stars, for me in every sky!
Oh, Samas, hide thy face! I am undone!
Oh, weep with me Ur-ru,[2] my precious son.
Let all your notes of joy, my birds, be stilled;
Your mother’s heart with dread despair is filled:

“Come back, my flowerets, with your fragrant dews;
Come, all my beauties, with your brightest hues;
Come back, my plants and buds and youngling shoots!
Within your mother’s bosom hide your roots.
Oh, children, children! Love hath fled away,
Alas! that life I gave should see this day!
Your queen lies dying in her awful woe,
Oh, why should she from us to Hades go?”

Wide Nature felt her woe, and ceased to spring,
And withered buds their vigor lost, and fling
No more their fragrance to the lifeless air;
The fruit-trees died, or barren ceased to bear;
The male plants kiss their female plants no more;
And pollen on the winds no longer soar
To carry their caresses to the seed
Of waiting hearts that unavailing bleed,
Until they fold their petals in despair,
And dying, drop to earth, and wither there.
The growing grain no longer fills its head,
The fairest fields of corn lie blasted, dead.
All Nature mourning dons her sad attire,
And plants and trees with falling leaves expire.

And Samas’ light and moon-god’s soothing rays
Earth’s love no more attracts; recurring days
Are shortened by a blackness deep profound
That rises higher as the days come round.
At last their light flees from the darkened skies,
The last faint gleam now passes, slowly dies.
Upon a blasted world, dread darkness falls,
O’er dying nature, crumbling cities’ walls.
Volcanoes’ fires are now the only light,
Where pale-faced men collect around in fright;
With fearful cries the lurid air they rend,
To all the gods their wild petitions send.

[Footnote 1: “Mam-nu-tu,” goddess of fate.]–[Footnote 2: “Ur-ru,” the moon-god.]

SOURCE: Babylonian and Assyrian Literature; Alcove II, Tablet VI (1901): Translated by Leonidas Le Cenci Hamilton, M.A.

Epic of Ishtar and Izdubar:The God Of Hope, And Herald Of The Gods (Part 32); Assyrian

Epic of Ishtar and Izdubar: Ishtar’s Descent To Hades (Part 30); Assyrian

World News Headlines: 12-31-2018

Germany (DW)

Angela Merkel’s New Year’s speech: ‘Democracy thrives on change’; German Chancellor Angela Merkel appeals to the public spirit in her own country and evokes the idea of a stronger EU in her New Year’s address. Her answer to international crises: greater responsibility for Germany. n her traditional New Year’s address, Germany’s chancellor first directs her words at the people in her own country: “Dear fellow citizens.” Yet these words should also be listened to attentively beyond Germany’s borders. When Angela Merkel takes stock of what she sees as an “extremely difficult political year,” she does so from two perspectives: national and international. The chancellor begins her speech with an inward look at the long and difficult process of forming a government after the 2017 federal elections. The process lasted six months “and once we had it, there was a lot of quarrelling and preoccupation with ourselves.” Merkel, a member of the Christian Democrats (CDU), does not mention any examples. But two are memorable: the constant disputes with Interior Minister Horst Seehofer from the CDU’s Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), and spats with the Social Democrats (SPD). Most of them were over Germany’s migration policy.

Bangladesh election: Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina wins by landslide; A victory for Hasina’s Awami League was widely expected in an election marred by violence and rigging allegations. The opposition alliance has rejected the election as “farcical” and called for fresh polls. Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s party has won the general election with a landslide majority, the Election Commission said early on Monday. An alliance dominated by Hasina’s Awami League won 288 seats in the country’s 300-strong parliament. The opposition alliance led by the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) of former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia won just six seats. Election to one seat was not held Sunday and results for another seat were halted by the commission. “My congratulations to the Awami League,” Helal Uddin Ahmed, secretary of the Election Commission Secretariat, told reporters. Hasina’s party was widely anticipated to win the election that was hit by violence and rigging allegations. At least 16 people were reported to have been killed in violence between rival supporters. Hasina, who is set to take office for the third consecutive time and fourth time overall, is credited with improving the country’s economy, which grew at a faster rate than neighboring India last year, and giving refuge to hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims who have fled Myanmar. But she has also been accused of a crackdown on media and dissent.

DR Congo: Election marked by delays, irregularities; Citizens in the DR Congo have voted in an historic election that will shape the future of the turbulent African country. Delays, irregularities and voting problems threaten the election’s credibility. Millions of voters cast ballots in the Democratic Republic of Congo on Sunday, in a widely anticipated election that could mark the African giant’s first democratic transfer of power or tip it further into violence. The election comes after President Joseph Kabila delayed elections for two-years after the end of his second and final term, triggering a violent political standoff that left dozens dead across the country.

Thousands protest over David Dragicevic death in Bosnia; Protesters led by an aggrieved father took to the streets to demand resignations from top police officials in Bosnia’s Serb entity. The father accuses the police of covering up the murder of his son, David Dragicevic.Several thousand people marched through Banja Luka, the main city of Bosnia’s Republika Srpska, demanding accountability over the death of 21-year-old student David Dragicevic. Like previous protests, the Sunday rally was led by David’s father, Davor Dragicevic. Following the rally, riot police dispersed dozens of protesters who remained on the streets, with local media reporting several people had been detained. Addressing the crowd, Davor restated his accusations that his son was kidnapped, tortured, and eventually murdered by members of Republika Srpska police. He also urged the protesters to join him and camp out at a local square until the perpetrators are found. “If you don’t stand by this, they will kill you all,” Dragicevic said. “I’m not leaving. Everyone should come and stay as long as they could based on their conscience and obligations.” Protesters chanted “murderers” and “Justice for David” while passing by state buildings in the administrative capital of Bosnia’s Serb-dominated entity. Dragicevic, who fought for the Serb forces during the Bosnian war, also showed the police his wartime scars.

Russia brings back children of IS fighters from Iraq; Moscow is transporting Russian children of “Islamic State” fighters back to their homeland from Iraq. A group of 30 children left Baghdad on a special flight, accompanied by Russian doctors, psychologists, and rescuers.The first flight carrying Russian children of “Islamic State” (IS) militants landed in Russia after leaving Baghdad on Sunday. The group included 16 girls and 14 boys aged between 3 and 15, Russian officials said. Out of 30 minors on board the flight, 24 were from the Muslim-majority Russian state of Dagestan, three from Chechnya, one from the southwest city of Penza and one from Moscow, said Chechnya strongman Ramzan Kadyrov in an online post.

Angela Merkel tells Turkey to act responsibly in Syria; Angela Merkel has spoken with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Syria. The German chancellor highlighted the importance of exercising restraint as the US exits the conflict. German Chancellor Angela Merkel held a phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday to discuss the situation in Syria.
Merkel told Erdogan that she expected Turkey to “exercise restraint and act responsibly,” the Chancellery said in a statement.

FRANCE (France24)

UK, France to take action over rise in Channel migrant crossings; In the coming weeks, the two countries will increase surveillance patrols and focus on measures to dismantle trafficking gangs and improve awareness about the dangers of sea crossings in one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes. “The UK and France will build on our joint efforts to deter illegal migration — protecting our borders and human life,” said Britain’s Home Office minister Sajid Javid, after speaking on the phone with French counterpart Christophe Castaner. Attempts to cross the English Channel have been increasing since October, with authorities on both sides struggling to stop them.

Japan court extends detention of ex-Nissan boss Ghosn; The move comes after Japanese prosecutors re-arrested Ghosn for fresh allegations on December 21, dashing his hopes of being home for Christmas. “The decision to extend the (detention period) was issued today. The detention expires on January 11,” the Tokyo District Court said in a statement. The growing case against the auto tycoon represents a stunning reversal of fortune for a man once revered in Japan and beyond for his ability to turn around automakers, including Nissan. Since his stunning arrest on November 19, the twists and turns of the case have gripped Japan and the business world and shone a light on the Japanese legal system, which has come in for some criticism internationally. Authorities are pursuing three separate lines of enquiry against the 64-year-old Franco-Lebanese-Brazilian executive, involving alleged financial wrongdoing during his tenure as Nissan chief. They suspect he conspired with his right-hand man, US executive Greg Kelly, to hide away around half of his income (some five billion yen or $44 million) over five fiscal years from 2010. They also allege he under-reported his salary to the tune of four billion yen over the next three fiscal years — apparently to avoid criticism that his pay was too high. The extension that prosecutors won Monday allows them to continue investigating a complex third claim that alleges Ghosn sought to shift a personal investment loss onto Nissan’s books. As part of that scheme, he is also accused of having used Nissan funds to repay a Saudi acquaintance who put up collateral money.


Cyberattack on US papers could be from N.Korea; A cyberattack on the operations of a major US newspaper has caused delivery delays, prompting the Department of Homeland Security to look into the situation. The information and printing system of the Los Angeles Times has been disrupted since Thursday night. It meant some content could not be sent to printing plants. The Los Angeles Times was not delivered in some areas, while the Chicago Tribune and a newspaper in Florida were also hit as they use the same system. The Los Angeles Times wrote that the attack is likely to have come from outside the United States. It reported that the attack came in the form of malware. Other US media pointed to the possible involvement of a North Korean hacker team called “Lazarus Group,” which is known to have previously used the same malware. The Los Angeles Times told NHK on Sunday that the system outage has not yet been completely resolved.

Putin expects constructive dialogue with Abe; Russian President Vladimir Putin says he hopes constructive dialogue with Japan will continue in wide-ranging fields. Putin expressed his hope in a message to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The Russian Presidential Office announced on Sunday that Putin has sent his New Year’s messages to world leaders including Japan, the United States, and China. In his message to Abe, Putin expressed hopes for an expansion of the legal foundation to facilitate bilateral cooperation, and for implementation of joint economic projects the two nations are planning in the Russian Far East. Putin and Abe agreed last month that the two countries should accelerate negotiations on a peace treaty based on a 1956 joint declaration. The declaration says Moscow will hand over to Japan two of the four Russian-held islands after a peace treaty has been signed. The Japanese government maintains all four islands are an inherent part of Japan’s territory. It says they were illegally occupied after World War Two. Putin is due to meet with Abe in Russia in January.

China ready to avoid worsening of ties with US; China says it stands ready to work with the United States to implement the consensus reached between the two country’s leaders. It says it seeks to expand cooperation on the basis of mutual benefit in the face of new challenges. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang released a statement on Sunday as the country is to mark the 40th anniversary of diplomatic ties with Washington on January 1st. Lu said China-US ties have not only delivered huge benefits to the two peoples but also contributed to peace, stability, and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region and the world. He added the two sides should view each other’s strategic intentions in a rational and objective manner, step up strategic communications, enhance strategic mutual trust and avoid strategic misjudgment. Lu was apparently mindful of the recent trade friction between the two countries. The spokesperson also said the two sides should properly manage differences in an effort to avoid disturbing the general picture of bilateral ties. State-run Xinhua news agency has reported President Xi Jinping conveyed his wishes for better relations in his phone conversation with President Donald Trump on Saturday. Xi referred to the upcoming anniversary and expressed his wishes for further exchanges.

Afghanistan delays presidential race by 3 months; The Afghan election commission says it will postpone the country’s presidential election by three months. The Independent Election Commission announced on Sunday that presidential polls will be held on July 20 instead of the originally scheduled April 20. It cited poor preparation and a lack of funds as reasons. The presidential race is held every five years. Security has been deteriorating in Afghanistan. When Lower House elections were held in October after having been put off for as long as three years, numerous accusations of voting irregularities were voiced in some states. The elections results have not been announced in those states. Peace talks have been going on since July between the US government, which stations its military in the country and anti-government Taliban militants. Observers say the delay reflects the Afghan government’s decision to watch how the peace talks play out first.

American support for Japan-US security pact down; A survey in the United States has found that 14 percentage points fewer Americans than last year think the Japan-US Security agreement should be maintained. An American firm appointed by Japan’s Foreign Ministry conducted the telephone survey in March this year. 1,057 people aged 18 or older answered questions. 87 percent said they trust Japan, an increase of 5 points from last year. 69 percent said the bilateral relationship is “very good” or “good,” an increase of 7 points. While 90 percent of respondents said the security pact is “important” or “very important,” an increase of 3 points, only 68 percent said “yes” when asked whether the pact should be kept. That’s down by 14 points from last year. Ministry officials say President Donald Trump’s comment that US allies are not paying enough for security may have affected sentiment.

World War Two: Fall of Philippines (4-15):The Siege of Bataan: Setting the Stage

Formed by the southern heights of the Zambales Mountains, the Bataan peninsula juts out from the mainland of Luzon between Subic and Manila Bay like a huge thumb pointing at the shore of Cavite Province only twelve miles away. Between Bataan and the Cavite shore lie Corregidor and several smaller islands, guarding the entrance to Manila Bay.

Only twenty-five miles long and twenty miles wide across its base, Bataan is ideally suited for defensive warfare. It is jungled and mountainous, cut by numerous streams and deep ravines, and has only two roads adequate for motor vehicles. Dominating the peninsula are two extinct volcanoes: the 4,222-foot high Mt. Natib in the north and, to the south, the Mariveles Mountains whose highest peak, Mt. Bataan, towers to a height of 4,722 feet. Along the east coast, on the Manila Bay side, the peninsula is flat and swampy near its base but becomes hilly and rugged to the south. The coastal plain on the west is extremely narrow. Here the mountains extend almost to the sea; high cliffs guard the shore and tooth like promontories jut into the water. Radiating from the two volcanic masses flow many streams which wind their way though steep ravines and gullies toward the bay and the sea.

Bataan is crisscrossed by a large number of trails, quickly overgrown by the tropical vegetation and rarely suitable for vehicular traffic. Across the base of the peninsula is Route 7, lost to the Americans by their withdrawal from Layac. South of Layac, paralleling the east coast down to Mariveles at the tip of the peninsula, then turning north to parallel the west coast as far as Moron, is Route 110. The east coast portion, called the East Road, is a single-lane, all-weather road; the stretch from Mariveles to Moron on the opposite coast, the West Road, is not as well surfaced. The only other road of importance is an east-west road from Pilar to Bagac, midway down the peninsula and across the saddle between Mt. Natib and the Mariveles Mountains. This road, called the Pilar-Bagac road and cutting Bataan like a waist belt, was the only vehicular road providing lateral communication for the forces divided by the rugged heights of central Bataan.

No better place than Bataan could have been chosen for a final stand. There were compensations for the inhospitable countryside. “Taking it all in all,” noted Colonel Skerry, the North Luzon Force engineer, “the rugged terrain of the Bataan Peninsula, covered as it was by a thick jungle, concealed the works of the defender even when the enemy had constant air superiority and air observation.” And after two weeks of withdrawal the men were glad to reach a position that was not to be abandoned the next day. Morale was good. “The general feeling seemed to be,” wrote Colonel Collier, the assistant operations officer of USAFFE, “we have run far enough; we’ll stand now and take ’em on.”

The American Position

The defense of Bataan began officially on 7 January 1942. On that day Wainwright assumed command of the West Sector of the Bataan Defense Force, which became I Philippine Corps, and the East Sector, re-designated II Philippine Corps, came under General Parker, till then commander of the entire Bataan Defense Force. The boundary between the two corps bisected the length of the peninsula from Mt. Natib to the Mariveles Mountains. The tip of Bataan south of the Mariveles Mountains was designated the Service Command Area and responsibility for its defense given to Brigadier General Allen C. McBride, MacArthur’s deputy for the Philippine Department. To Wainwright’s corps was assigned the defense of the western half of Bataan; Parker’s corps was on the Manila Bay side.

Both corps were under MacArthur’s headquarters on Corregidor, which by 5 January had established a Bataan echelon under Brigadier General R. J. Marshall. Through Marshall’s headquarters, consisting of officers from the general and special staff sections of USAFFE, it was possible for MacArthur to exercise close control over operations on Bataan. “I am on my main battle line,” MacArthur told the War Department on 7 January, “awaiting general attack.”

The defense of Bataan was conceived as a defense in depth. The first line, called the main battle position, extended from Mabatang, a short distance north of Abucay, on the east, across Mt. Natib to Mauban on the west coast, a distance of twenty miles. A strong outpost line of resistance was established in front of the main battle position and defenses to a depth of several miles were prepared to the rear. Along the beaches on both coasts troops were posted to guard against amphibious envelopment.

In Wainwright’s corps on the west were three Philippine Army divisions, the 1st, 31st, and 91st, to which was attached the combat elements of the 71st Division (PA); the 26th Cavalry (PS); a battery each of field artillery and 75-mm. guns (SPM), and miscellaneous troops-altogether about 22,500 men. On the right (east), in Parker’s corps, were four more Philippine Army divisions, the 11th, 21st, 41st, and 51st; supporting artillery; and the 57th Infantry (PS) from the Philippine Division. General Parker had about 25,000 men in his corps.

Eight miles behind the main battle position, paralleling the Pilar-Bagac road, was the rear battle position which in prewar plans had formed the main line of the Bataan defenses. On 7 January this line was not yet fully organized; while the forces along the main battle position held back the enemy, other troops would prepare this position. Posted along this line and assigned the task of organizing it for a last-ditch defense was the USAFFE reserve, the Philippine Division (less 57th Infantry), the tank group, and a group of 75-mm. SPM’s. Corps and USAFFE artillery was emplaced to cover the front lines as well as the beach defenses in all sectors.

South of the rear battle position was the Service Command Area. Under McBride’s command was a variety of troops: the 2nd Division (PC), organized on 7 January and composed of Constabulary troops, the remaining elements of the 71st Division (PA), including the division headquarters, provisional infantry units formed from air corps troops, and a provisional battalion of bluejackets and marines.

The Mabatang-Mauban line, or Abucay-Mauban line, as it was more generally called, the main battle position, occupied on 7 January, was not a continuous line. Separating and forming an almost impenetrable barrier between the left portion held by I Corps and the right portion held by II Corps was the northernmost of the two extinct volcanoes, covering an area about fifteen by fifteen miles. Around the crater are steep and jagged peaks rising to a height of 3,000 to 4,000 feet. The northernmost peak, Mt. Santa Rosa, is 3,052 feet high.

About three and a half miles southeast is the highest point on the crater’s edge, Mt. Natib. In a distance of 2,000 yards this 4,222-foot-high mountain drops to half its height. Mt. Silanganan, to the southwest, is 3,620 feet high. On its west escarpment this land mass drops a thousand feet in as many yards. Though the military crests of these mountains provided ideal defensive positions-one officer called them “an infantryman’s dream”-they made effective mutual support between the two corps impossible. The Mt. Natib position was selected, despite its known limitations, because strategy required that a stand be made here to gain time to prepare the rear battle position and to retain as long as possible the lateral communication provided by the Pilar-Bagac road.

I Philippine Corps

The sector defended by General Wainwright’s I Philippine Corps to the west “was practically all wooded and almost wholly uninhabited.” The terrain was extremely rugged and a bolo was a necessity for a man on foot. From the South China Sea, wrote Colonel Skerry, Wainwright’s engineer officer, after a reconnaissance, this side of the peninsula “presented a most formidable appearance of very high timbered banks with a solid mass of woods stretching east to a high mountain range, heavily timbered throughout, except for the break at Bagac and Moron.” Communications in this area were poor.

That portion of the West Road which stretched from Mariveles to Bagac was poorly surfaced. Northward from Bagac as far as Moron the road had been improved and had a crushed rock surface which made it passable in all weather. The only method of continuing northward from Moron where the West Road ended was by a series of roundabout trails. “By and large,” said Skerry, “this was an area where an American needed a map, compass and bolo even in the dry season.”

The main line of resistance on this side of the peninsula followed Mauban Ridge from Mauban on the coast to Mt. Silanganan. Holding the western portion of this line was the 3d Infantry, 1st Division (PA); to its right was a battalion of the 31st Field Artillery of the 31st Division (PA), equipped and organized as an infantry unit. On the extreme right, on the slopes of Mt. Silanganan, was Company K, 1st Infantry. Its mission was to establish contact with the 51st Division on the left of II Corps-an apparently impossible task in that uncharted, mountainous country.

Only that portion of the main line of resistance held by the 3d Infantry was reinforced; it had a double apron of barbed wire. The rest of the line “was unprotected by obstacles other than the natural jungle.” The selection of Mauban as the western anchor of the main line of resistance had been debated before the war. In January 1941, at General Grunert’s direction, officers of the 26th Cavalry (PS) had made a reconnaissance of a proposed Mt. Natib- Moron line.

[General Bluemel, who commanded the west sector before Wainwright’s arrival, had ordered Brigadier General Fidel V. Segundo, the 1st Division (PA) commander, to establish contact with the left unit of the east sector. Segundo was unable to do so, and explained that there was no water on Mt. Natib and that he could not keep troops there. Bluemel finally sent a patrol led by his G-2 to establish contact with the troops to the east. The patrol was gone three days and failed to establish contact. Bluemel, Comments on Draft MS, Comment 15, OCMH.] 

When their report was in, Grunert ordered Wainwright, then commanding the Philippine Division, to prepare plans for a line from Mt. Natib to the west coast of Bataan, in the vicinity of Moron or Mauban. Officers of the 45th Infantry (PS) had then visited the area and decided to place the western anchor of the line at Mauban, where a 50- to 75-foot ridge commanded the beach and offered a clear field of fire for several hundred yards. The line established when the troops moved into Bataan, therefore, utilized the plans developed before the war, and the first draft of the field order outlining positions on Bataan at the beginning of January 1942 anchored the line at Mauban.

In commenting on the first draft of the field order establishing this line, Colonel Casey, MacArthur’s engineer officer, urged that the main line be placed further north, at Moron. Noting the excellent beach between Moron and Mauban and recognizing the danger of envelopment at Moron, he pointed out that “if the rear position [Mauban] only is held, it permits the concentration of enemy on these beaches for attack on this flank.” He had recommended therefore that Moron be “organized and defended” and the Mauban line used as a switch position.

Although Mauban remained the anchor of the main line of resistance when the final plan was drawn up, an effort was made to meet Casey’s objections. Two units, Company I of the 1st Infantry and Troop G, 26th Cavalry, were posted at Moron and along the stretch of sandy beach to the south to prevent enemy landings and to deny the landing beaches at Moron to the enemy.

The outpost line of resistance in the I Corps sector extended from the barrio of Bayandati, a mile and a half northwest of Mauban, eastward to a point about halfway up the slopes of Mt. Silanganan. The 3d Infantry held this line, which paralleled its sector on the main line of resistance. To the rear, behind the main line, was the 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry, forming a regimental reserve line which stretched from the beach defense below Mauban across the West Road.

Artillery support for Wainwright’s corps was provided by the 71st Field Artillery (less 1st Battalion) , two batteries of the 91st Field Artillery, one battery of the 23d Field Artillery, a battery of 75-mm. guns (SPM), and two 155-mm. guns. Colonel Fowler, who commanded this force, had altogether thirty-three pieces, all but two of which were 75-mm. guns or 2.95-inch mountain howitzers. The 75’s were emplaced along Mauban Ridge, just behind the main line of resistance, and along the high ground to the northeast. The SPM’s were disposed along a ridge about 300 yards to the south, and the shorter range 2.95-inch guns placed farther forward. The two 155-mm. guns were emplaced along the high ground near Mauban Point to cover the sea approaches as well as those by land. Secondary positions for the artillery, located about 3,000 yards to the rear, were selected, “but due to the excellent cover of the dense jungle around the primary positions,” Colonel Fowler noted, “were not occupied until the last day and night.”

Defense of the beach south of the main battle position was assigned to Brigadier General Clifford Bluemel’s 31st Division (PA). The division was responsible for a stretch of approximately ten miles, from the regimental reserve line on the north to Saysain Point, with one battalion of the 45th Infantry (PS) at Bagac Bay. Actually, Bluemel’s southern flank was extended south of the assigned limit by one battalion of the 31st Infantry (PA). In support of the 31st Division was a battery of the 92nd Coast Artillery (PS), which had gone into Bataan with Bluemel and been assigned to cover Saysain Point with its two 155-mm. guns. Another battery of that regiment was located near Bagac.

For corps reserve General Wainwright had the remnants of Selleck’s 71st Division and Stevens’ 91st Division, both badly mauled by their fight in northern Luzon. In an effort to secure one effective unit from these two divisions, the combat troops of the 7Ist were placed under Stevens’ command and the entire force reorganized. The 26th Cavalry (PS), which had joined the I Philippine Corps after a difficult overland march from Layac junction, was also tired and disorganized. Since there were no replacements for its animals and only a limited supply of forage, it was shortly reorganized into a motorized squadron of riflemen and a mechanized unit equipped with scout cars and Bren carriers.

II Philippine Corps

Defending the eastern half of the Bataan peninsula was General Parker’s II Philippine Corps, holding a line approximately 15,000 yards in length from Manila Bay to the I Corps boundary at Mt. Natib. Unlike the western half of Bataan, the eastern coast was low and swampy and devoted largely to the growth of rice. Here the cleared ground provided good fields of fire, and when the troops reached their position the flat ground to the front, consisting mainly of rice paddies, was flooded. The East Road was an excellent highway compared to the West Road and passed through many small, thriving communities such as Cabcaben, Lamao, Orion, Pilar, and Abucay. Inland, the II Corps sector became more mountainous and rugged as it approached the high volcanic mass in the center of the peninsula.

The main battle position in the II Corps sector, as in the I Corps sector, consisted of a main line of resistance, with an outpost and a regimental reserve line. The main line extended westward from Mabatang on the coast to the heights of Mt. Natib. The right flank, including the coastal plain and the East Road, was considered the most critical portion of the line. The enemy, advancing unopposed down the East Road, was expected to make his first attempt to breach the main battle position at this point. In this sector, therefore, Parker placed the fresh, well-trained Scouts of the 57th Infantry. They were to hold a line from Manila Bay across the road and approximately 2,000 yards inland as well as a portion of the beach as far south as Balanga.

Next to the 57th Infantry, extending the main line of resistance 6,500 yards to the west, was Brigadier General Vincente Lim’s 41st Division (PA). One of the first units to reach Bataan, the division was as yet untried in battle. Its three infantry regiments were disposed abreast to give maximum protection to the division front, which extended along the precipitous heights of the gorge above the shallow Balantay River.

The rest of the II Corps main line, from the left of the 41st Division to the slopes of Mt. Natib, was held by Jones’s 51st Division which had reached Bataan during the night of 3–4 January. The division, less its 52nd Infantry, which was on beach defense until 11 January, held a front of more than 5,000 yards along the Balantay River. On the right was the 51st Infantry. On the west, holding down the corps left flank and trailing off into scattered foxholes, was the 53d Infantry. The 52nd was placed in reserve when it rejoined the division.

Fortifications along the II Corps line were far stronger than in Wainwright’s sector. At least as far west as the 51st Division there was a double apron of barbed wire. Working with only a small number of picks, shovels, and axes, and substituting bayonets and the covers of mess kits for individual entrenching tools, the men were able to clear fields of fire, dig foxholes, trenches, and gun emplacements, and construct camouflage overhead. The Japanese later wrote that they found “the strongest sort of field fortifications on the II Corps line.” “Covered rifle pits and machine gun emplacements had been constructed,” they reported, “and these formed the main structure of the fire network; between them were placed foxholes. . . . The fields of fire had been cleared of cover; camouflage was thorough; the rear communications network had been carefully and thoroughly laid.”

Only in the 51st Division sector, on the corps left, were the fortifications inadequate. Here the establishment of a military line along the jungled slopes of Mt. Natib proved impossible in the time and with the tools available. No regular line was organized in this area where patrols operated with the greatest difficulty. Mt. Natib remained an insuperable barrier to the establishment of physical contact between the two corps.

Long-range artillery support in Parker’s sector was provided by the 86th Field Artillery Battalion (PS), with twelve 155-mm. guns (GPF), and the 301st Field Artillery Regiment (PA), with sixteen guns of the same type and two 155-mm. howitzers. Emplaced west of Abucay, these pieces were in position to cover all of the main battle positions and the East Road. Providing direct support to the 57th Infantry along the coastal road and the beach was the 1st Battalion, 24th Field Artillery (PS), with one battery on the main line of resistance and two more near Abucay. Additional support was furnished by a battery of the 88th Field Artillery (eight 75-mm. guns) and the 2nd Battalion of the 24th, which aiso supported the 41st Division from a position southeast of Abucay. Each of the divisions had its own divisional artillery in support as well, with the 2.95-inch howitzers of the 41st in position to back up the 51st Division. That division had only eight 75-mm. guns of a type unsuitable for use in the rugged country to which it was assigned.

Defense of the Manila Bay coastline in the II Corps sector, from Balanga, where the 57th line ended, as far south as Limay, after 11 January was assigned to the 11th Division (PA). In addition to its own artillery regiment, it had the support of the 21st Field Artillery, detached from its parent unit for beach defense. The rest of the 21st Division was in corps reserve.

By the end of the first week in January the main battIe posi~ion on Bataan was organized and the troops in place. The Japanese, who on the 7th had taken Layac Junction, the gateway to Bataan, were alreadyin position to move against the American line. “It was felt,” wrote Colonel Collier, “that the enemy would continue his close follow up of our troops and launch an early push against the right of the II Corps [along] the East Road.” Unlike the rest of Luzon, Bataan offered no room for maneuver and little space for withdrawal. The Japanese would have to be held as long as possible at each position. Except for the few who would be fortunate enough to reach Corregidor, there was no retreat from Bataan.

The Status of Supply

The supply situation on Bataan was serious from the start and became steadily worse through the campaign. Originally, under the ORANGE plan, supplies for 43,000 men for a period of six months were to have been moved to the peninsula on the outbreak of war. MacArthur’s order to fight it out on the beaches had invalidated this plan, and when war came supplies and equipment were moved forward to advance depots to support the troops on the front lines. At that time there were stored on Bataan 2,295,000 pounds of canned salmon, 152,000 pounds of fruits and vegetables, 6,000 pounds of miscellaneous foods, and 400,000 gallons of gasoline.

Full-scale movement of supplies to Bataan did not begin until the decision was made on 23 December to withdraw to Bataan. By that time the number of troops to be supplied during the siege of Bataan had increased from the planned 43,000 to almost 80,000, in addition to about 26,000 civilians who had fled to Bataan to escape the invading army. Moving to Bataan enough food and supplies to keep so large a force in action for a period of 180 days would have been extremely difficult under the most favorable circumstances. To accomplish it in about one week, during the confusion of war and retreat, proved to be an impossible task.

Some preparations had been made for the transfer of supplies to Bataan even before the orders for a general withdrawal had been issued on the evening of 23 December. Lieutenant Colonel Otto Harwood, a quartermaster officer, had gone to Limay on Bataan on 14 December to disperse the defense reserves stored there the previous summer, and Colonel Alva E. McConnell of the Philippine Quartermaster Depot had begun to ship small quantities of food and petroleum products to Bataan some days before the 23d. Altogether Harwood received from Manila for storage on Bataan approximately 750,000 pounds of canned milk, 20,000 pounds of vegetables, 40,000 gallons of gasoline, and 60,000 gallons of lubricating oils and greases. The Si-Kiang, bound for Indochina with 5,000,000 pounds of flour and large quantities of petroleum, was seized and brought to Bataan, but unfortunately was bombed and sunk before the flour could be unloaded.

The large-scale movement of supplies to Bataan and Corregidor began after 23 December. First Corregidor was stocked with enough reserves to supply 10,000 men for six months. This task required only one day since the island already had rations for 7,000 men. The movement of supplies to Bataan was more difficult, largely because of transportation problems, the brief period of time in which to accomplish the task, and the size of the shipments.

The only land route to Bataan was the one being used by the retreating troops. Until 31 December the roads to San Fernando and into the peninsula could be used, but with difficulty. The shortage of motor vehicles further limited the quantities of supplies that could be dispatched by this means. After that date the land route from Manila to Bataan was closed. The rail net north of Manila, the best in the archipelago, proved of limited value because of the shortage of rolling stock and the desertion of train and engine crews.

There was no time to evacuate the depots in northern Luzon and scarcely time to get out part of the reserves from Forts McKinley and Stotsenburg. Many of the troops became afflicted with “withdrawal fever” and left behind much that they could have taken. At Stotsenburg, long before the Japanese were within striking distance, the post was evacuated. Food, clothing, and other supplies, it is reported; were left behind by post personnel, to be picked up later by the withdrawing troops. The same thing is supposed to have happened at Clark Field, adjacent to Stotsenburg, where 250,000 gallons of aviation gasoline and several obsolete but serviceable planes were left behind.

North and South Luzon Force commanders were instructed to pick up whatever food they could on their way to Bataan, and to turn their supplies in when they reached the peninsula. “Not an ounce” was turned in, noted the quartermaster, although the divisions ‘brought in between ten and twenty-five days’ supply of food.” Most of the supplies for Bataan came from Manila, where the port area with its large warehouses and loaded ships was filled with stores of all kinds. Bataan, only thirty miles away across the bay, could be reached easily by almost every type of vessel. With the shortage of motor and rail transportation, water transport become the chief means of getting supplies from the capital to Bataan.

The quartermaster’s Army Transport Service, led by Colonel Frederick A. Ward and starred largely by civilian volunteers, took over all the available barges, tugs, and launches and used them for the journey. The first two were slow, but they had the advantage of being easily unloaded at the three piers on Bataan where dock facilities were primitive. At the Manila end loadings were hampered by the Japanese bombings of the port area between the 27th and 30th and the shortage of stevedores. The latter was partially overcome by the use of some two hundred American and British civilians who volunteered to work as dock hands. Altogether, a total of approximately 30,000 tons of supplies was shipped to Bataan and Corregidor by barge and unloaded by the time the Japanese occupied Manila on 2 January.

Also loaded, but still lying out in the bay at this time, were another 150 barges and 3 freighters. These vessels were unloaded during the weeks that followed at times when they would be safe from Japanese attack, usually at night. But large quantities of food, supplies of all kinds, and gasoline were left behind on the docks and in commercial storage. What the civilians in Manila did not take away with them just before the Japanese entered the city, the conquerors appropriated.

At the time the decision was made to withdraw to Bataan, ammunition and food appeared to be the most critical items of supply and they were accorded first priority. Second priority went to defense materials and to gasoline. All other supplies were given third priority. When rations and ammunition had been shipped, medical supplies, demolitions, barbed wire, and gasoline moved to the top of the priority list. The movement of ammunition and ordnance supply to Bataan progressed swiftly.

Before the war all units had been issued one unit of fire and a second was issued when units moved into defensive positions along the beach. Some ordnance materials had been stored at Forts Stotsenburg and McKinley, but two thirds of the ammunition reserves, about 15,000 tons, as well as six carloads of replacement parts for the tanks, were already in Bataan on 8 December.

During the last week of the year another 15,000 tons of ammunition and ordnance supplies were shipped to Bataan. An inventory of 5 January revealed that the supply of ammunition was satisfactory and that the shortages anticipated would not develop.

The shortage of rations proved to be even more serious than expected, and from the start the scarcity of food was the most alarming fact in the situation of the 80,000 troops on Bataan. The transfer of rice to Bataan had proved difficult because of Commonwealth regulations which stipulated that neither rice nor sugar could be removed from one province to another.

When the time came to move supplies to Bataan, authority was requested to take these commodities but permission was not received in time. In this way 10,000,000 pounds of rice at the Government Rice Central at Cabanatuan was lost. Even the seizure of Japanese-owned stocks was prohibited. At Tarlac Lieutenant Colonel Charles S. Lawrence, commander of the depot there, planned to take over about 2,000 cases of canned food, mostly fish and corned beef, as well as a considerable quantity of clothing that belonged to Japanese firms. He was informed by MacArthur’s headquarters that he had no right to do so and that he would be court-martialed if he did. These supplies were later destroyed during operations.

On 3 January an inventory of the food in the hands of the quartermaster on Bataan was prepared. This inventory revealed that there was only a 30-day supply of unbalanced field rations for 100,000 men, including a 50-day supply of canned meats and fish, 40 days of canned milk, 30 of flour and canned vegetables (string beans and tomatoes), and 20 of rice, the most important element of the Philippine diet. There were some staples such as sugar, salt, pepper, lard, and syrup, but almost no fresh meat or fruit and only limited quantities of canned fruits, coffee, potatoes, onions, and cereals.

[General McBride, Notes on the Fall of Bataan; Weaver, Comments on Draft MS, Comment 34, OCMH. General McBride, Service Command Luzon Force commander, died in prison camp. A copy of this report was borrowed from Colonel Selleck and is on file in OCMH. It will be hereafter cited as McBride, Notes on Bataan Service Command.]

The necessity for drastic action was apparent. On 5 January MacArthur approved the recommendation of his quartermaster, General Drake, that the troops and civilians on Bataan and Corregidor be placed on half-rations, and the necessary instructions were issued to the local commanders. The half-ration, containing about 2,000 calories, half the normal requirements of an active man, was obviously inadequate to the needs of fighting troops who had to work as much as twenty hours a day, under the most difficult conditions and in the worst kind of climate and terrain. Fortunately many of the men had accumulated food during the withdrawal and this supply was used to supplement the meager diet.

Colonel Mallonee, instructor of the 21st Field Artillery (PA), for example, had a case and a half of mixed canned goods, forehandedly purchased before the withdrawal. On his way past Fort Stotsenburg he picked up another half case. Although he gave part of his private stock to some of his fellow officers, he kept a large portion of the two cases for himself. Yet, with this additional supply of food, he wrote, “I had to do a tailoring job on my waistband twice …. “

Heroic measures to augment the food supply were obviously necessary if the troops on Bataan were to hold out for the required six-month period. No sooner had the withdrawal been completed than the quartermaster began to exploit every possible resource on the peninsula to increase his stores. Fortunately, it was the harvest season and the rice stood ripe in the fields. It was only necessary to bring it to the mills, which the engineers were ordered to build near Limay. Plans were made to secure fresh meat by slaughtering carabao, the Philippine draft animal, and a large abattoir was established by the veterinarians.

In addition, the units in the field butchered whatever carabao or other animals they could capture. A fishery was established at Lamao, and plans were made to utilize the catch of the local fishermen who went out each night until prevented from doing so by Japanese fire. Salt was secured by boiling sea water in large iron cauldrons. Before the troops had been on Bataan long, no local resource that would yield any additional amount of food was being overlooked. So serious was the shortage of food after the first few weeks on Bataan that the search for food assumed more importance than the presence of the enemy to the front. Every man became a hunter, and rifle shots could be heard at all hours far from the Japanese lines.

Lieutenant Colonel Irvin Alexander, a quartermaster officer, wrote: Any carabao which was encountered in the jungle was classed as wild and neither his ancestry nor his ownership was investigated. The wild game was not too numerous and it was very shy so that only the cunning and lucky hunters were successful in bringing in meat. Lack of success did not discourage the hunters. . . . One Filipino… caught a snake and ate it one day to die unpleasantly the next. There were always plenty of experimenters ready to try any kind of native flora or fauna which might prove edible … although the experimenting individual frequently paid a high price.

The supply of clothing on Bataan, while not as alarming as the shortage of food, was just as limited. It had been scanty at the beginning of the war and was almost gone by the time the men reached Bataan. The regular garrison of U.S. Army troops and Philippine Scouts had been comparatively well clad when they took the field, but the Philippine Army had been only partially clothed and equipped. Those who had been inducted before the war were far more fortunate than the Filipinos mobilized after hostilities began. The uniforms and equipment of these men consisted of odds and ends, whatever was on hand for issue and whatever they could salvage or buy. Early in January the Quartermaster had only 10,000 pairs of trousers and shorts and an equal number of shirts and blue denim suits. Obviously this amount of clothing was hardly enough for 80,000 men fighting in heavy jungle and mountains, in a wet climate where days were hot and nights cold, and where tangled vegetation quickly tore shirts and trousers. The army service shoe, of which there were 50,000 pairs on Bataan, was of little use to the Filipino soldier whose feet were too narrow for footgear built on American lasts.

The absence of mosquito netting, shelter halves, blankets, and sun helmets was as serious as the shortage of clothing. The physical deterioration of the troops and the high incidence of malaria, hookworm, and other diseases were caused as much perhaps by the lack of proper protection against the weather and the jungle as the unbalanced and deficient diet.

Provision had been made in war plans for a general hospital on Bataan. At Limay, where the defense reserves were stored, all supplies for the hospital were already assembled when the order to withdraw was given. General Hospital No.1 was established on 23 December and before the end of the month another general hospital was organized not far from Cabcaben. The medical depot in Manila, where supplies and equipment for a 10,000-bed hospital center had been established at the start of the war, began to transfer this vast accumulation of. medical supplies to Bataan after the 23rd. But only enough was brought in to assure an adequate supply of drugs and medical equipment for the first part of the siege of Bataan. By the end of February a critical shortage of several drugs, the most important of which was quinine, had already developed.

The supply of petroleum products on Bataan was adequate for several months if strict economy was practiced. During the first week or two on Bataan there was no control over the use of gasoline. When it was discovered that stocks were being depleted at the rate of 14,000 gallons a day, the supply was closely rationed. Ultimately the consumption of gasoline was reduced to 4,000, then 3,000 gallons daily.

Motor vehicles were much sought after on Bataan. The various services and units commandeered vehicles for their own use and hijacking of both vehicles and loads was common. The provost marshal did his best to stop this practice, with little success. Finally, all vehicles except those organic to units were ordered into motor pools. When the order failed to bring in the vehicles, a search and seizure system was inaugurated.

The military police stopped vehicles and if the drivers could not prove that they were on a legitimate mission they were directed to one of the motor pools. But most of the vehicles had been well hidden and the most careful search failed to locate them. Only later, when gasoline was rationed and the units could not operate the vehicles, were they turned in.

Engineer supply, like that of the other services, was limited and carefully controlled. The engineers had managed to ship to Bataan and Corregidor more than 10,000 tons of their supplies, in addition to organizational equipment, by the end of December. These included 350 tons of explosives, 800 tons of valuable barbed wire, 200 tons of burlap bags for use as sandbags, and large quantities of lumber, construction material, and depot stocks. During the withdrawal, engineer supplies had been evacuated from advance depots along the route of retreat and moved to Lubao, a short distance north of Bataan. From there they were to be transferred to two locations on Bataan. Despite congestion along the roads, the shortage of transportation, and the confusion of retreat, the final evacuation of engineer supplies from the Lubao depot was completed by 6 January.

The first engineer troops to reach Bataan were put to work immediately on airfield construction to accommodate the few fighter craft still left and those which, it was hoped, might yet arrive from the United States, Work was also begun on access roads to the main highway along the east coast of Bataan and on a lateral road from east to west across the slopes of the Mariveles Mountains. The main work on fortifications along the front was performed by the infantry and artillery, but the engineers improved these positions, strung wire, and laid mines. They maintained roads and bridges and prepared demolition charges where necessary.

In addition to serving the troops along the front, they built camps for the 26,000 civilians who had taken refuge on Bataan, sawmills to provide lumber for buildings and bridges, and rice mills to feed the men. The greatest handicap to engineer activity was the lack of trained engineer troops. Civilian labor was used wherever possible, but there was no substitute for trained engineer officers. So small was their number that in one instance a civilian served for a time as the commander of an engineer battalion.

The shortage of supplies of all types, and especially of food, had a greater effect on the outcome of the siege of Bataan than any other single factor. “Each day’s combat, each day’s output of physical energy,” wrote one officer in his diary, “took its toll of the human body-a toll which could not be repaired. .” When this fact is understood, he added, the story of Bataan is told.

The Enemy and His Plan

While General MacArthur’s force on Luzon was preparing the defenses of Bataan, the enemy 14th Army was being reorganized. Original Japanese plans had called for the reduction of Luzon fifty days after the start of war. At that time the 48th Division, Homma’s best unit, and most of the 5th Air Group were to leave the Philippines for operations elsewhere. The mop-up would be left to a garrison unit, the 65th Brigade, and the 16th Division. The brigade, with attached service and supply troops, was to reach Luzon on the forty-fifth day of operations, 22 January.

Sometime late in December, General Count Hisaichi Terauchi, Southern Army commander, and Admiral Kondo, commanding the 2nd Fleet, jointly recommended to Imperial General Headquarters that 16th Army’s invasion of Java be advanced about one month ahead of schedule. This suggestion found willing listeners in Tokyo. Reasoning that such a move would result in the rapid occupation of the Southwest Pacific while the Allies were still off balance, and noting the success of Homma’s forces in the Philippines, Imperial General Headquarters approved the Terauchi-Kondo proposal and ordered the transfer of the 48th Division to 16th Army at a much earlier date than originally planned.

On 2 January, as 14th Army units entered Manila, General Homma received notice from Southern Army that the 48th Division would soon be transferred. Orders for the transfer of the division as well as the 5th Air Group reached Manila during the next few days, and on 5 January staff officers of Southern Army arrived in the Philippines to supervise the transfer.

In the opinion of 14th Army the transfer of ground and air troops from the Philippines showed a lack of understanding of the situation by, higher headquarters. Actually, both Southern Army and Imperial General Headquarters recognized that this early redeployment might jeopardize operations in the Philippines, but they were willing to take this risk in order to hasten the attack on Java and free themselves for any move by the Soviet Union. “Difficulties would undoubtedly arise in the future in the Philippines,” the Japanese believed, “but the Southern Army thought that the Philippines could be taken care of after the conclusion of the campaign in Java.”

The removal of the 48th Division from Homma’s command at a date earlier than originally planned might well have left him with only the 16th Division to open the attack against Bataan. Fortunately for the Japanese cause, Homma had ordered the 65th Brigade to make ready for departure from Takao in Formosa only a week after the start of hostilities. This decision to embark the brigade somewhat sooner than scheduled was made without reference to the early departure of the 48th but was apparently based on the unexpected lack of American resistance to the initial landings in northern Luzon.

On 27 December, Homma ordered Lieutenant General Akira Nara, the brigade commander, to sail from Takao with all the troops then scheduled to reinforce 14th Army. Delayed in his departure by a typhoon, N ara finally set sail with his convoy of fourteen ships and naval escort on 30 December. At 1400 on New Year’s Day the troops began to debark at Lingayen Gulf.

The day the 65th Brigade landed in the Philippines it was ordered to move by foot to Tarlac. Within three days advance elements had entered the town. On the 6th the brigade reached Angeles and began to concentrate along Route 74, as far south as Porac. “They had made their march,” remarked General Nara proudly of his troops, “but were footsore and exhausted.”

Southern Army had stripped General Homma of some of his best ground and air units just before the start of the battle of Bataan. All he had left was the 16th Division, which “did not have a very good reputation” for its “fighting qualities,” the 65th Brigade, the 7th Tank Regiment, supporting arms and services, and a small air unit of less than seventy fighters, bombers, and reconnaissance planes. Only in the air were the Japanese assured of superiority.

The brigade which replaced the well trained and equipped 48th Division was, in the words of its commander, “absolutely unfit for combat duty.” Organized in early 1941 as a garrison unit, it had a total strength of about 6,500 men. Its three infantry regiments, the 122nd, 141st and 142nd Infantry, consisted of but two battalions, each organized into three rifle companies and one machine gun company. The brigade had few vehicles and no artillery unit, but at least one of the regiments and possibly the others had a battery of field artillery. Organic to the brigade was a field hospital, an engineer unit, and a signal unit no larger than a “telegraph platoon.” The majority of the enlisted men were conscripts and the month of training at Formosa was entirely inadequate. Unit training had progressed only as far as the company.

General Homma and the majority of the 14th Army staff believed that American resistance on Bataan would be weak and that operations there would be quickly concluded. The plan for the attack, therefore, was conceived of as a pursuit rather than an assault against a strongly fortified position in depth.

This conception was confirmed by intelligence reports. The 14th Army staff estimated that MacArthur had 40,000 to 45,000 men, about 40 tanks, and a few fighter planes on Bataan and Corregidor. On Bataan alone, Homma was told by his intelligence officer, there were only 25,000 men. The American “regular” 31st Division and the “fortress unit” on Corregidor were believed to total 35,000 while the remnants of the Philippine Army units altogether comprised 5,000 to 10,000 more. Reports received from air reconnaissance gave no reason to believe that the Americans and Filipinos had constructed any strong installations on Bataan.

The physical condition of the troops on Bataan was believed to be poor. All units in combat had been badly cut up, rations had been reduced by half, and the entire American-Filipino army was on a skimpy two-meals-a-day diet. Desertions by Filipino troops were believed to be heavy and the Japanese fully believed that the Americans had taken strong measures to halt these desertions and the surrender of individuals. In support of these conclusions they pointed out that the bodies of Philippine soldiers had been found tied to trees.

With this picture of the enemy, it is not surprising that General Homma believed the capture of the peninsula would be an easy task. His estimate of the American scheme of defense was that MacArthur’s forces would make their strong stand around Mariveles and then withdraw to Corregidor. Seizure of the island fortress would not be easy and a “sea blockade” might be necessary before the island would be reduced. On the whole, “the threat of enemy resistance was taken lightly” by 14th Army.

On the theory that the campaign would be a light one, Homma assigned the seizure of Bataan to the inexperienced and untrained 65th Brigade. His plan was to have the brigade advance in two columns, one along the east coast through Abucay to Balanga and the other down the opposite shore through Moron to Bagac. Once these objectives had been taken, Nara was to send the main force of his brigade south from Balanga, while a smaller force drove on from Bagac. Both were to push towards Mariveles, the 14th Army operation order read, “With the annihilation of the enemy on Bataan Peninsula as their objective.” Attached to the 65th Brigade for the Bataan operation were infantry, artillery, armor, and service units of all types. From the 16th Division came the 9th Infantry, a battalion of field artillery (75-mm. guns), an engineer regiment, and a medical unit.

The 48th Division supplied two battalions of artillery (75-mm. mountain guns), which were pulled out a short time later. Armored support consisted of the 7th Tank Regiment, and artillery support was furnished by Army: 1st Field Heavy Artillery Regiment (15O-mm. howitzers), the 8th Field Heavy Artillery Regiment (105-mm. guns), and the 9th Independent Heavy Artillery Battalion (15O-mm. howitzers). Service and support units from Army completed the force available to General Nara for the forthcoming operation. Direct support for the 65th Brigade’s operations on Bataan was to be provided by the air unit under Colonel Komataro Hoshi. This unit was made responsible for reconnaissance, artillery spotting, and support missions.

[5th Air Gp Opns, pp. 47-51. The air unit consisted of 11 fighters, 21 reconnaissance, liaison, and artillery observation planes, 36 light bombers, and a number of service units.]

Starting on 10 January it was to base at Clark Field and from that date through the 13th was to attack I Corps artillery positions, the airstrips on Bataan, and installations in the Mariveles area. The 16th Division was to “cooperate” with the 65th Brigade by “sending a portion of the division to occupy the strategic ground in the vicinity of Ternate and Nasugbu.” The occupation of Ternate, on the south shore of Manila Bay, and of Nasugbu to its south would have the effect of cutting communication between Corregidor and southern Luzon.

At noon 4 January General Homma had ordered the 65th Brigade to move down Route 74 to the main battle position to relieve the 48th Division and take command of the Takahashi Detachment and the 9th Independent Heavy Artillery Battalion. Nara apparently understood then that his unit was to relieve the 48th Division, for his orders were to “destroy the enemy,” send his main force toward Balanga, and make a secondary effort toward Olongapo.

Final orders for the relief of the 48th Division were issued at 0800 of the 7th. At that time General Nara was again instructed to move toward Olongapo and Balanga. By 1800 of 8 January the brigade had completed its relief of the 48th and was concentrated between Dinalupihan and Hermosa, preparing to attack. The next afternoon the assault would begin.

SOURCE: The Fall Of The Philippines by Louis Morton (United States Army Center of Military History)

World War Two: Fall of Philippines (4-16); Bataan Siege / First Battle; 9 January 1942

World War Two: Fall of Philippines (3-14); Occupation of Manila 1941

World News Headlines:12-30-2018


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Colombia investigates plot to assassinate President Ivan Duque; Authorities have said an alleged plot to kill the president may involve three Venezuelans who were recently arrested with assault weapons. Ivan Duque has been a vocal critic of his Venezuelan counterpart, Nicolas Maduro.Colombia’s intelligence services have been monitoring chatter for several months about “credible” plans to assassinate President Ivan Duque, Foreign Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo said Saturday in a video message. The possible plot may involve three Venezuelans who were recently arrested with assault weapons, he said, without giving further details. “Intelligence investigations into possible attacks have been going on for several months,” Trujillo said. “Added to that is the recent capture of three Venezuelan citizens found in possession of weapons of war, which further increases concerns.” Two of the Venezuelan men were captured on December 21 on a bus in the northern city of Valledupar, Reuters news agency reported, citing unnamed police and military sources. The third, also armed, was arrested days later. Weapons found on the men included an assault rifle with a telescopic scope as well as a 9-mm mini-Uzi, ammunition and a stun grenade. Security for Duque has been increased with the help of the United States, the United Kingdom and Israel, Reuters reported.

China orders fresh trial for Canadian drug trafficker; Robert Lloyd Schellenberg was set to begin a 15-year jail sentence for smuggling drugs. But the Canadian could now face the death penalty after a Chinese court ordered a retrial of his 2016 conviction.A Canadian man convicted of drug smuggling in China could face the death penalty after an appeals court found his initial 15-year jail sentence too lenient and ordered a retrial. The case threatens to add further strain to a tense diplomatic standoff between Beijing and Ottawa. Judges on the Higher People’s Court of the northeastern province of Liaoning, near North Korea, said Robert Lloyd Schellenberg’s punishment for the 2016 conviction, which also included a 150,000 yuan (€19,000/$21,800) forfeiture, was “obviously inappropriate” given the severity of his crimes. Evidence also showed he was not merely an accomplice but someone who had played an “important role” in smuggling drugs into China, the court added. Authorities have not released any details of the accusations against Schellenberg. Ottawa said it was following the case closely. China permits the death penalty in severe drug trafficking cases. In 2009, it executed Briton Akmal Shaikh for smuggling 4 kilograms (8.8 pounds) of heroin into the country.

EU, Mercosur aim to make world’s biggest trade bloc by end of 2019; The EU and Japan will soon become the world’s biggest free trade area. But this record might be short-lived with Brussels chasing a deal with South America’s Mercosur, EU’s Cecilia Malmström has said.After the trade deal between the EU and Japan goes into effect on February 1, Brussels will focus on clinching a deal with South American Mercosur group before the end of next year to form an even bigger trading bloc, EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström told the German DPA news agency on Saturday. The Mercosur trade area includes Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Venezuela with the total population of some 260 million people. Venezuela’s membership has been suspended in 2016 due to issues including its human rights record. If the deal is completed, businesses on both sides of the Atlantic could save billions on tariffs. The EU and Mercosur representatives have been working on a free trade deal since 2000. Earlier this year, Argentina’s foreign minister Jorge Faurie said the accord might be concluded by September, but the talks have seemingly stalled in recent months. One of the reasons for the delay was the victory of far-right Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, EU’s Cecilia Malmström told DPA on Saturday. With Bolsonaro set to take office in January, the outgoing government was unable to make clear commitments on trade.

Serbia: Thousands march against President Aleksandar Vucic for 4th week; Tens of thousands have turned out for a fourth week of anti-government demonstrations in Belgrade. The protesters accuse President Aleksandar Vucic of gagging mainstream media and sidelining critical voices. More than 20,000 Serbs took to the streets in the capital, Belgrade, on Saturday to march against President Aleksandar Vucic and his ruling Serbian Progressive Party. The protesters, who accuse the president of stifling democratic freedoms, chanted “Vucic thief!” as they marched peacefully through the city center in the fourth such protest in as many weeks. Vucic’s opponents say the president is an autocrat who has imposed tight controls on mainstream media and sidelined critical voices. Vucic has denied the allegations.

Netherlands, German police thwart Dutch ‘terror plot’; Security forces in the Dutch city of Rotterdam and the German city of Mainz have arrested five people suspected of plotting a “terrorist crime.” Rotterdam police are investigating the scale of the terror threat. The Dutch public prosecutor’s office opened an investigation on Saturday into a suspected terror plot in the Netherlands. The counterterrorism Special Intervention Service (DSI) and police initially arrested four people in Rotterdam who were suspected of plotting a “terrorist crime,” police said. Police in the western German city of Mainz later detained a fifth suspect, a 26-year-old Syrian man with no prior criminal record, after searching the apartment where he was found. Police said they sought the suspect’s arrest after receiving an extradition request from Dutch authorities.
“He is strongly suspected of taking part in the preparation for an attack in the Netherlands,” police said.

World War Two: Fall of Wake Island, 11-23 December 1941

The day after Guam fell, the defenders of Wake Island scored the first American victory of the war. It was heartening but temporary. At 0500 on December 11, Japanese cruisers, escorting transports loaded with 450 Special Landing Troops, opened fire on Wake. Marine lookouts had spotted the flotilla in the light of the half moon; but Major James P.S. Devereux, commanding the Marine defense battalion detachment, held his fire to prevent the enemy from locating his guns prematurely. At 0615 the new light cruiser Yubari and three destroyers closed to 4,500 yards. Now, the Marines opened up. The 5-inch guns of Battery A at Peacock Point, commanded by 1st Lieutenant Clarence A. Barninger, hit Yubari three times; the cruiser turned tail and fled, trailing smoke. On Wilkes Island, Battery L’s 5-inch guns, commanded by 2nd Lieutenant John A. McAlister, sank the lead destroyer Hayate; she was the first Japanese surface craft sunk by U.S. naval forces in the war. The Marine gun crews were so excited they stopped firing and started cheering. Platoon Sergeant Henry A. Bedell, an old China hand, brought them back to business, bellowing: ” Knock it off, you bastards, you get back on the guns. What d’ya think this is, a ball game?”

The keyed-up Marine gunners promptly hit a second destroyer and the lead transport and sent off another two transports. Their accurate firing then found a light cruiser, and she also turned away. First Lieutenant Woodrow W. Kessler’s Marines at Battery B on Peale Island scored a hit on a destroyer

The Marine gunners had driven off the invasion force. Four Marine Grumman F4F Wildcats, led by Major Paul A. Putnam, of Washington, Iowa, chased the retreating ships, strafed them, dropping 100-pound bombs and scooted home to re-arm. The planes shuttled out; damaged two warships and a transport, and Captain Henry T. Elrod of Thomasville, Georgia, sank the destroyer Kisaragi. There were no survivors.

The battle was an unqualified victory for the Marines. They had sunk two destroyers, damaged a cruiser and several other ships, shot down three Japanese bombers and damaged four more. The enemy lost some 500 men; on Wake, there were no casualties. The historian Morison wrote: “ the eleventh day December 1941 should always be a proud day in the history of the Corps. Never again, in the Pacific War, did coast defense guns beat off an amphibious landing.” But the Marines superb shooting could not save Wake.

The Japanese were determined to take the atoll. A lonely speck 450 miles from the nearest land, it was made up of three islands in the shape of a wishbone open to the northwest. The main island was Wake; Wilkes was at the tip of the southern branch of the wishbone, and Peale at the tip of the northern. The atoll, which had been visited by the Wilkes Exploring Expedition in 1841 and annexed to the United States in 1899, sat astride the Pacific lines of communication of both the United States and Japan–a strategically placed coral aircraft carrier.

When war came there were on wake only 388 Marines of the 1st Defense Battalion commanded by small, wiry Major Devereux, who had been an enlisted Marine in Nicaragua and China; Major Putnam’s Marine Fighter Squadron 211 of 61 men and 12 blue and grey Wildcats (flown off the Enterprise on December 4); 68 Navy personnel; five army communication men; 70 Pan American civilians, and 1,146 civilian contract employees who had been trying to pound Wakes coral boulders in to a Naval sir base. Navy Commander Winfield Scott Cunningham, a lanky aviator , was the atoll commander.

Only the understrength Marines were armed. A total of six 5-inch and a dozen 3-inch guns were emplaced on Peale and Wilkes Islands and on Peacock Point at the base of Wake. There were Marines enough to man but six of the 3-inch antiaircraft guns.

After sunrise on Monday (Sunday, December 7 in Hawaii) Pan America’s Philippine Clipper took off and headed west toward Guam. The Marines finishing breakfast. Major Devereux was shaving. At 0650, Army Captain Henry S. Wilson dashed into the major’s tent with an un-coded message that Hawaii was under attack. Devereux told the bugler to sound Call to Arms. Marines grabbed their Springfield ’03 rifles and ammunition and World War I-style helmets, piled into trucks and rushed to their batteries. By 0735 all positions were manned. Aviators had their planes warmed up and dispersed as much as possible, civilians started digging foxholes. The Clipper was recalled and returned. A four plane patrol went up and swung to the north to scout for enemy planes.

Just before noon, 36 twin-engine bombers, approaching from the south, swooped down out of a rain cloud. The Island had no radar; and with the constantly roaring surf, nobody heard or saw the bombers till 15 seconds before the first bomb fell. In ten furious minutes, the Japanese destroyed seven of the eight Wildcats on the ground; wrecked the Pan Am station, riddled the Clipper; killed 10 civilians; and 23 aviation Marines and wounded 11 more. The enemy fliers flew off intact, wagging their wings to celebrate their success.

An hour later, the Clipper managed to take off for Midway to the northeast. The Marines and some volunteers from Dan Teter’s civilian construction crew cared for the wounded, repaired damage, salvaged planes and mined the runway to prevent an airborne landing. The marines could not get permission to use the contractor’s ditch-digger to bury their communications wires.

For the next two days, Wake was pounded. Only three Wildcats were operational. Lieutenant David D. Kliewer and Tech Sergeant William J. Hamilton flew in on the flanks of one enemy raid and shot down a straggling bomber. Captain Elrod shot down two more. The bombers hit guns, ammunition, barracks, radio station and machine shops. They burned the hospital to the ground, killing four Marines, 55 civilians and several corpsmen. On the third night, December 11, the Japanese made their first attempt to land and were thrown back by the Marine gunners.

At Pearl Harbor, the American naval commander organized a relief expedition around three fast carrier task forces with Lexington, Enterprise and Saratoga. But the relief expedition was crippled by indecisiveness and excessive caution. Naval officers feared risking their then-irreplaceable carriers.

Bombers clobbered the island almost daily; there was no hiding form the hell they dropped. By December 14, two planes had been wrecked; and VMF-211 was down to one again. Cannibalizing planes, the Marines on the seventeenth had four Wildcats that could do battle.

On Saturday, December 20, a Navy PBY arrived; Wake’s first physical contact with the outside world since the island was attacked. The plane brought the plans of the relief expedition, cheering all hands, and took off again early the next morning. Two hours later, the first Japanese carrier dive bombers and fighters appeared. They promised that the Japanese were preparing another landing attempt.

The twenty-first was a bitter day; Battery D on Peale was virtually destroyed. On the twenty-second, only two Wildcats could fly. Captain Herbert C. Freuler and 2nd Lieutenant Carl R. Davidson took them up to attack 33 carrier dive bombers and six zero’s Davidson dived at one of the bombers; a zero shot him down. Freuler exploded under another Zero. A Zero tailed him and wounded him twice. He escaped and crash-landed his plane on Wake. That wiped out the Marine airpower for good. What was left of VMF-211, less than 20 able-bodied men, joined the Defense Battalion as infantrymen.

It was now a race between the American relief expedition and the enemy landing force. The Japanese won. Saratoga was still 600 miles from Wake; but Rear Admiral Frank Jack Fletcher spent December 22 refueling. Then it was too late.

The Marines spotted the Japanese amphibious force at 0215 on December 23, an intensely dark, moonless night. This time, the Japanese came to stay. They brought six heavy cruisers, six destroyers, and two carriers. In the landing force was an estimated 1,500 men.

At 0235 the enemy landed simultaneously on Wilkes and the southern side of Wake. About 100 men hit Wilkes. There, big tough Marine Gunner Clarence B. McKinstry, commanding Battery F, began the battle by firing a.50 caliber machine gun at the landing barges. On Wake island, 1,000 Japanese landed against some 85 Marines on the beach. An unmanned 3-inch gun on a slight rise was the only large weapon that could bear on the two destroyer-transports disembarking their men. Second Lieutenant Robert M. Hanna quickly gathered a scratch crew, raced to this gun threw 15 shells into the grounded landing craft. But the enemy scrambled ashore. Devereux sent Major Putnam, Captain Elrod and the VMF-211 Marines between the enemy and Hanna’s gun. They fought off several hundred Japanese for six hours, until all but one of the defenders, Marines and civilians, were killed or wounded. Among the dead was Hank Elrod. The thirty-six year old flier was the first Marine aviator in World War Two to earn the Medal of Honor–awarded for his courage in the sir and on the ground.

The Marine Defense Battalion had no infantry component; small detachments, bolstered by a few civilian workers, met repeated enemy attacks and shouting bayonet charges. They fought the enemy with machine guns and grenades. The Japanese captured the hospital and tied up the wounded Marines with telephone wire. Major George H Potter Jr., Devereux’s executive officer, and 40 men fought from a defense line that crossed the Airstrip. At 0500 a half hour before dawn, Commander Cunningham sent a message to Pearl Harbor: “ENEMY ON ISLAND ISSUE IN DOUBT.” The Japanese were firmly established on the atoll. The Marines thin line was just too thin.

At Pearl, Vice Admiral William S. Pye, temporarily commanding the Pacific Fleet, fearful of losing the Saratoga, ordered the mismanaged relief expedition back to Hawaii. On Saratoga, sailors and marines were furious; Marine aviators cursed and wept. Wake’s last hope was snuffed out.

At 0730, Cunningham and Devereux, knowing now that no relief could be expected, decided to surrender. Devereux, with Sergeant Donald Malleck carrying a white rag on a mop handle, walked south to meet the nearest Japanese commander. But the fighting continued for hours, and Devereux had to go to each Marine position to bring the battle to a halt. As Morison wrote:” Marines surrender Hard”

The final battle was fought on little Wilkes Island, where there were 70 Marines and a number of sailors and civilians. Gunner McKinstry’s Marines were forced back to join men form Battery L commanded by 2nd Lieutenant McAlister. From this position, they were able to block the way to the main island.

Captain Wesley McC. Platt’s command post on Wilkes was on the far side of the Japanese landing force. Down near the beach, on that side, the Marine machine gun nearest the landing was able to repel attacks until dawn. As day broke Captain Platt led Platoon Sergeant Raymond L. Coulson and eight marines riflemen against nearly 100 Japanese. They drove the surprised Japanese back the McAlister-McKinstry line. McAlister gathered 24 Marines and counterattacked from his side. Platt and McAlister joined forces and together wiped out the rest of the Japanese landing force on Wilkes.

But Platt was now out of communication with Devereux’s command post. Under dive bomber attack, he and his Marines marched east toward Wake Island. At 1330 Platt saw three men approaching; two Marines and a Japanese officer with a large sword. The Marines were Devereux and Mallack; the major told Platt that the atoll had been surrendered. The Battle for Wake Island was over.

The Japanese made prisoners of 470 officers and men and 1,146 civilians. The American dead were 49 Marines, three sailors, and about 70 civilians. Enemy casualties in taking Wake were estimated to total 820 killed and 333 wounded. The prisoners kept hoping for an American counterattack until they sailed on January 12 for Shanghai. En route, they were half starved and repeatedly beaten. Two Marine Sergeants from VMF-211 and three sailors were beheaded. In Woosung prison camp Shanghai, the Wake Marines joined Colonel Ashurst and the Marines from North China. They would be there for a very long time.

SOURCE: U.S. Marine Corps Story: BY: J. Robert Moskin

….Flying thirty-six of it’s twin-engine bombers, the 24th Air Flotilla attacked Wake at midday on 8 December, destroying seven planes, severely damaging another, damaging the Pan American facilities, and cratering the airstrip. Not a single Japanese plane was lost. Bombing raids continued through 10 December, exploding ready ammunition and damaging some of the 5-inch guns.

While the Guam Invasion Force had been a massive one, pitted against opposition known to be minor, the wake Invasion Force was dangerously weak against a force known to be potentially strong. The Fourth Fleet at Truk assigned the following ships to the wake Island invasion: the light cruiser Yubari ( flagship of Rear Admiral Sadamichi Kajioka), the destroyers Mutsuki, Kisaragi, Yayoi, Mochizuki, Oite, and Hayate, escorting two transports (converted destroyers) with 450 SNLF troops and two Maru Transports carrying garrison troops. (Maru is a term attached to Japanese merchant ships, and the title was retained when the ship was impressed into naval service) The light cruisers Tenryu and Tatsuta, old cruisers commissioned in 1919, would act as a support group. This definitely was not the Japanese first team, as event were soon to prove.

The Wake invasion Force sailed from Ruotta anchorage, Kwajalein, Marshall Islands, on 8 December, arriving off Wake two days later. The cruiser’s Action Reports and the tactics of the invasion force indicate that little resistance was anticipated; the Japanese apparently assumed that the two days of bombing had rendered Wake relatively defenseless. The Japanese ships began their approach on 11 December shortly after 0500. In atypical destroyer squadron, the Yubari would have been at the head of her six destroyers; this arrangement was modified, how ever by situating the light cruisers Tatsuta and Tenryu between Yubari and the destroyers, in a column formation. On the starboard side of the column were the two converted destroyers, on the port side were the two Marus. Seas were running high. Which would make the launching of assault craft slower and more difficult.

The defenders at wake had seen blinking lights to the south shortly after midnight, so available defenses had been readied. The four remaining Grumman’s took to the air as the approach was spotted, and the Marines stood to their three batteries of 5-inch guns, one battery on each of the three islands.

The Japanese column opened fire at 0522, after having turned to port to make its firing run, paralleling Wakes southern perimeter at 6,000 yards from shore. The marines on Wake held their fire, and the records of the Tenryu indicate that the Japanese bombardment target was the “Wake, residential area” and “housing in the West area.” At any rate, their target was definitely not the defense batteries. Oil tanks at the southern end of Wake Island were hit, however, and set afire. As the column advanced to the west, the transports began to prepare to land their troops. After twenty minutes, having reached the west edge of Wilkes Island, the Yubari closed the range to 4,500 yards and reversed for another firing run. The Marine defenders still held their fire. At 0600 the Yubari reserved again, once more closing range for a third firing run, and at 0610, the islands’ batteries opened fire. Battery A, at the southeast tip of Wake Island, claimed to have hit the Yubari with it’s second salvo, although the Yubari Action Report makes no mention of any damage. One of the converted destroyers, carrying half the SNLF troops, received a fatal hit from Battery A, at about the same time, and eventually drifted ashore at Wake Island.

Rear Admiral Kajioka immediately retired his command ship to the southwest, escorting the remaining converted destroyer. The transports came under the fire of Battery L on Wilkes Island, and one Maru was hit. The destroyers Hayate, Oite and Mochizuki in order to screen the transports and deliver counterbattery fire, charged directly toward Battery L and thus proved anew the truth of an old naval dictum: fixed ground defense guns can usually outshoot attacking ships. The Hayate, in the lead, was hit squarely by three salvos and blew up, with no survivors: 168 men were killed. The Oite was hit, with nineteen men wounded, along with the Mochizuki she turned south-southwest of Wilkes Island. Meanwhile, a reconstructed column made up of the Yayoi, Mutsuki and Kisaragi backed up by the Tatsuta and Tenryu, got into a fire fight with Battery B on Peale Island. The Yayoi was hit ( one man killed, seventeen wounded), but she returned fire and did considerable damage to Battery B.

A new element was added to the battle when the four Grumman Wildcats attacked. At 0724, they made a strafing run on the starboard bow of the Tenryu. The forward section of the cruiser was raked in the vicinity of her NO. 1torpedo tube, wounding five, disabling three of her torpedoes and puncturing the hull. With this, the remaining ships made smoke and also retired to the southwest. But the Wildcats were not through; the Kisaragi came under attack about 30 miles southwest of Wake. Hits on her depth charges set off a hugh explosion, and the Kisaragi went down at once with all hands (her normal complement was 150 men) at 0731.

The Yubari’s Action Report sums up the battle succinctly. “Although the enemy sustained heavy damage from numerous attack by the medium-attack bombers of the 24th Air Flotilla, he still retained intact several fighters, ground batteries, etc.–he fiercely counterattacked and we were temporarily forced to retire.” The total Japanese casualty list was 340 killed, 65 wounded, and 2 missing. The Wake Invasion Force, now missing two destroyers and one converted destroyer transport, returned to Ruotta anchorage to repair its damages and to await reinforcements before anew effort. On Wake, the defense batteries were still mainly in tact, but there were only two planes left. Amazingly, only one U.S. Marine was killed. This battle certainly showed warships should not charge into the point-blank range of fixed 5-inch guns.

In the interval between the first and second invasion operations, the Americans wanted to reinforce the Wake garrison. But confusion in the command echelons, caused the Pearl Harbor debacle, and the lack of hard intelligence on the whereabouts of the Japanese Combined Fleet or the nature of Japanese naval installations in the Marshalls, caused the Americans to fail to reinforce Wake or engage new enemy invasion forces in battle. Although three fleet carriers with cruiser and destroyer screens were then available, it was feared that Wake was the bait the in a Japanese trap, and the risk of losing three fleet carriers on top of the battleship losses at Pearl Harbor seemed to great.

The Japanese continued a daily air bombardment by the 24th Air Flotilla, augmented by planes from the heavy carriers Hiryu and Soryu and from the seaplane tender Chitose. They set no ambush, however, between 11 and 23 December, even though they realized that Wake could have been reinforced in that time. Although they made an efficient and successful invasion in the predawn of 23 December, the Japanese invasion force was inferior in all its elements to what the United States could have mustered. Thus, the Americans had been timid and cautious, while the Japanese showed an almost rash lack of caution or preparation for a battle that might have proved decisive. The Japanese navy provided only a token sort of covering force which an American Fleet, acting with initiative, might have overwhelmed.

The Second Wake Invasion Force mustered at Ruotta anchorage. It included the quickly repaired original ships: light cruisers Yubari, Tatsuta, Tenryu; Destroyers Mutsuki, Yayoi, Oite, Mochizuki; two Maru transports and one converted destroyer transport. Rear Admiral Kajioka in the Yubari was till in overall command. The force gained two destroyers, the Asanagi and the Yunagi (which helped capture Makin Island and had been raiding elsewhere in the Gilbert Island), one converted-destroyer transport, another Maru transport, a minelayer, and a troop-carrying seaplane tender. The original SNLF troops were reinforced by some of throops that had captured Guam. The Combined strength of the SNLF forces, then at Ruotta, was nearly 2,000. The heavy cruisers Kinugasa, Aoba, Kako and Furutaka of the Guam Invasion Force were, on 13 December, designated Marshall Area Operation Support Group for the second wake Invasion. The 24th Air Flotilla was augmented by the seaplane tender Chitose’s twenty-eight planes. The Hiryu and Soryu, with 108 planes, the heavy cruiser Tone and Chikuma, and the destroyers Urakaze and Tanikaze, had split off from the retiring Pearl Harbor Strike Force to support the second Wake invasion attempt, passing under the tactical command of the Fourth Fleet.

The Second Wake Invasion Force left Ruotta at 0545 on 21 December. The Hiryu and Soryu were already positioned about 200 miles north-northwest of Wake, and carrier-plane strikes on 21 December were added to the 24th Air Flotilla’s continuous raids. Rear Admiral Kajioka’s forces did not storm in on Wake as on 11 December, and there was no sustained pre-invasion bombardment. Instead the SNLF were put into assault boats in the dark at 0220 on 23 December, some two miles from their objective. Despite fierce resistance, beachheads were soon secured. At 0600, carrier planes joined in the attack, and by 0630, the overwhelmed garrison surrendered. The SNLF and Army landing forces had lost 140 men; the ships lost 4 men. Ten Japanese planes were shot down. Wakes three islands became part of the Japanese Empire and a link in the Japanese Navy’s perimeter defense, the Philippines life line had been severed, without damage to any naval units, and the Japanese had learned a lesson in amphibious tactics.

SOURCE: Battle History of the Imperial Japanese Navy (1941-1945); BY: Paul S. Dull

World War Two: Marines Surrender; China -Guam December 1941

World War Two: Philippines (Prewar, Part 1-2; 3-4-5); Building the USAFFE

Epic of Ishtar and Izdubar: Ishtar’s Descent To Hades (Part 30); Assyrian

(Her Fearful Reception)

To Hades’ darkened land, whence none return,
Queen Ishtar, Sin’s great daughter, now doth turn;
Inclined her ear and listened through the void
That lay beneath of every path devoid,
The home of darkness, of the Under-World,
Where god Ir-kal-la[1] from the heights was hurled.

The land and road from whence is no return,
Where light no entrance hath to that dark bourne;
Where dust to dust returns, devouring clods;
Where light dwells not in Tsil-lat-tus abodes;
Where sable ravens hovering rule the air;
O’er doors and bolts dust reigneth with despair.
Before the gates of gloom the Queen now stands,
And to the keeper Ishtar thus commands:
“O keeper of the waters! open wide
Thy gate, that I through these dark walls may glide;
But if thou open’st not the gate for me,
That I may enter, shattered thou shalt see
The doors and bolts before thee lying prone,
And from the dust shall rise each skeleton,
With fleshless jaws devour all men with thee,
Till death shall triumph o’er mortality.”
The keeper to the Princess Ishtar said:
“Withhold thy speech! or Allat’s fury dread!
To her I go to bid thee welcome here.”
To Allat then the keeper doth appear:
“Thy sister Ishtar the dark waters seeks–
The Queen of Heaven,” thus Allat’s fury breaks.

“So like an herb uprooted comes this Queen,
To sting me as an asp doth Ishtar mean?
What can her presence bring to me but hate?
Doth Heaven’s Queen thus come infuriate?”
And Ishtar thus replies: “The fount I seek,
Where I with Tammuz, my first love, may speak;
And drink its waters, as sweet nectar-wines,
Weep o’er my husband, who in death reclines;
My loss as wife with handmaids I deplore,
O’er my dear Tammuz let my teardrops pour.”
And Allat said, “Go! keeper, open wide
The gates to her! she hath me once defied;
Bewitch her as commanded by our laws.”
To her thus Hades opened wide its jaws.

“Within, O goddess! Cutha thee receives!
Thus Hades’ palace its first greeting gives.”
He seized her, and her crown aside was thrown.
“O why, thou keeper, dost thou seize my crown?”
“Within, O goddess! Allat thee receives!
‘Tis thus to thee our Queen her welcome gives.”
Within the next gate he her earrings takes,
And goddess Ishtar now with fury shakes.
“Then why, thou slave, mine earrings take away?”
“Thus entrance, goddess, Allat bids this day.”

At the third gate her necklace next he takes,
And now in fear before him Ishtar quakes.
“And wilt thou take from me my gems away?”
“Thus entrance, goddess, Allat bids this day.”
And thus he strips the goddess at each gate,
Of ornaments upon her breast and feet
And arms; her bracelets, girdle from her waist,
Her robe next took, and flung the Queen undrest
Within a cell of that dark solitude.

At last, before Queen Ishtar Allat stood,
When she had long remained within the walls,
And Allat mocked her till Queen Ishtar falls
Humiliated on the floor in woe;
Then turning wildly, cursed her ancient foe.
Queen Allat furious to her servant cries:
“Go! Naintar! with disease strike blind her eyes!
And strike her side! her breast and head and feet;
With foul disease her strike, within the gate!”

[Footnote 1: “Ir-kal-la,” the King of Hades, who was hurled from the
heights of heaven with the evil gods who rebelled with Tiamatu, the
goddess of chaos, against the reign of the gods of heaven.]

SOURCE: Babylonian and Assyrian Literature; Alcove II, Tablet VI (1901): Translated by Leonidas Le Cenci Hamilton, M.A.

Epic of Ishtar and Izdubar: Effect Of Ishtar’s Imprisonment In Hades (Part 31); Assyrian

Epic of Ishtar and Izdubar: The Curse Of Ishtar (Part 29); Assyrian

World War Two: Fall of Philippines (3-14); Occupation of Manila 1941-42

On 26 December, Manila was declared an open city. All newspapers published the text of the proclamation and radio stations broadcast the news through the day. A huge banner bearing the words Open City and No Shooting was strung across the front of the city hall. That night the blackout ended and Manila was ablaze with lights.

With the evacuation of the government and the army, a feeling of foreboding and terror spread through the city, and the exodus, which had ceased after the first confusion of war, began again. “The roads back into the hills,” noted one observer, “were black with people striving to reach their native villages . . . . The few trains still running into the provinces were literally jammed to the car tops.” The business district was deserted and there were few cars along Dewey Boulevard.

Here and there a few shops made a brave attempt at a holiday spirit with displays of tinsel and brightly wrapped gifts. On the Escolta, two Santa Clauses with the traditional white beards and red costumes looked strangely out of place. One walked up and down as if dazed while the other, more practical, piled sandbags before the entrance to his shop. “No girls in slacks and shorts were bicycling along the water front,” wrote Major Carlos Romulo reminiscently, “and there were no horseback riders on the bridle path . . . the Yacht Club, the night clubs and hotels . . . all looked like funeral parlors.” Let it be known,” reported NBC correspondent Bert Silen, “that our Christmas Eve was the darkest and gloomiest I ever hope to spend.”

Late on the night of 26 December Radio Tokyo acknowledged receipt of the Manila broadcasts declaring the capital ‘an open city.” Official notification to 14th Army came later, either on the 28th or after, when Imperial General Headquarters forwarded the information from Tokyo. Apparently MacArthur made no attempt to notify the Japanese forces in the Philippines of his intentions, but a mimeographed announcement of the open city declaration was in the hands of the Japanese troops by 31 December.

General Maeda commented later that “Imperial General Headquarters did not recognize the declaration of Manila as an open city. Manila had to be taken. Even if it were an open city, Japanese troops had to occupy it.”

Either the Japanese in the Philippines were unaware of the open city declaration or they chose to ignore it, for enemy aircraft were over the Manila area on 27 December. The Army’s 5th Air Group sent 7 light and 4 heavy bombers against Nichols Field, and at least 2 fighters over the port district that day. But the main bombing strikes, directed against the Manila Bay and Pasig River areas, were made by naval aircraft. For three hours at midday, successive waves of unopposed bombers over Manila wrought great destruction on port installations and buildings in the Intramuros, the ancient walled city of the Spaniards. The attacks against shipping continued the next day, with additional damage to the port area.

By New Year’s Eve the rear echelon of USAFFE headquarters under General Marshall had completed its work and was repaired to leave the “open city.” The capital was subdued but ready to greet the New Year. Hotels, nightclubs, and cabarets were opened, a dance was held at the Fiesta Pavilion of the Manila Hotel, and many women donned evening gowns for the first time since the start of the war. But no sirens were sounded as in the past to herald the new year; there was no exploding of firecrackers, no tooting of horns, and no bright lights from naval ships in the bay lighting the sky. The only fireworks came from burning military installations. Along Manila streets the uncollected garbage of many days lay almost unnoticed.

While a few citizens drank and danced, most of the bars closed at 2100. A large number of bartenders, in what someone termed a “scotched-earth policy,” smashed the remaining bottles to prevent their falling into Japanese hands. The next morning the quartermaster stores in the port area were thrown open to the public and great crowds hurried towards the piers. About to be burned, the sheds yielded a wide assortment of booty to the delighted Filipinos. The ice plant, filled with frozen food, was also thrown open. Not all the residents were at the piers; many attended church services, for the Japanese were expected that afternoon.

For almost forty years Manila had been the outpost of American civilization in the Orient. Now the badly mauled port area was quiet and dead as the old year. From the waters of Manila Bay rose the funnels of sunken ships and along the waterfront stood the blackened, empty walls and the battered piers, mute epitaph to one of the finest harbors in the Far East.

The city was surrounded by an inferno of flame, noise, and smoke. Fuel supplies at Fort McKinley to the southeast, installations that survived the bombing at Nichols Field to the south, and the ruins of Cavite across Manila Bay were demolished in great bursts of flame and explosion. The bewildered and frightened population was further panic-stricken by the soaring flames from the oil tanks at Pandacan, which ate up surrounding warehouses and buildings and sent up black clouds of smoke. The flaming oil floated along the Pasig and set other fires along the banks. And from the air the enemy continued to drop bombs, adding even more fuel to the great conflagration which swept huge areas in and around the city. “To the native population of Manila,” commented one observer, “it seemed like the end of the world.”

The Occupation of Manila

On the first day of the New Year the Japanese 48th Division and the 4th and 7th Tank Regiments were twelve miles above the northern outskirts of Manila. To the south that night advance elements of General Morioka’s 16th Division reached Manila Bay at a point less than ten miles from the capital city. With two divisions “ready to go,” Homma stopped the advance on the outskirts of the capital over the protests of both divisional commanders. “If those divisions went in together from south and north,” he explained later, “anything might happen.”

Both divisions could have entered Manila on New Year’s Day and expected to do so. When the order to advance did not come, Lieutenant General Yuichi Tsuchibashi, 48th Division commander, sent Homma an urgent message at 1040, pointing out that the great fires had dissipated “the Army’s hope of preserving the city of Manila” and that “to rescue Manila from this conflagration” he planned to enter the capital in force. From Homma he requested approval for his plan. This was followed by a plea from the division’s chief of staff, who wrote: “I beseech you at the order of my superior to promptly approve the previously presented plan.”

[USA vs. Homma, p. 3056, testimony of Homma General Maeda, Homma’s chief of staff, declared that the 48th Division, for one, “was told to wait so that it could spruce up and reorganize.” Interrog of Maeda, 10 May 47, Interrogations of Former Japanese Officers, Mil Hist Div, GHQ FEF, I.]

Immediately after the 14th Army command post completed its movement from Binalonan to Cabanatuan, a staff conference was held at 1900 on New Year’s Day to decide on the method of entry into Manila. Two plans were discussed: one to send a force into the city immediately, as proposed by the 48th Division commander; the other to dispatch a “military commission” to the capital to urge its surrender while the troops remained outside the city. The former plan was finally adopted, and at 2000 the 48th Division was ordered to seize Manila and prevent its destruction. Similar orders were given the 16th Division at 1000 on 2 January. General Morioka would also occupy Cavite and Batangas.

The line of the Pasig River, which flowed through the capital and into Manila Bay, was set as operational boundary between the two divisions. That night supplementary orders from General Homma fixed the size of the force entering Manila from the north at three infantry battalions of the 48th Division. The 16th Division was seemingly left free to determine the number of its troops entering Manila. Further orders apparently directed that the city was not to be entered until the 2nd, for no entry was made that night.

Inside the city a newspaper extra at noon on New Year’s Day declared the enemy to be on the verge of entry and advised inhabitants to remain in their homes and await further orders from the Philippine authorities in control. Anticipating confinement in internment camps, American residents immediately packed toilet articles and a change of clothing, no word of the impending entry of the Japanese reached Corregidar quickly. MacArthur reported to the War Department on the morning of the 2nd that Japanese troops would enter Manila that afternoon. His information was accurate enough to enable him to predict that the force would be small and that its duties would be limited to the maintenance of law and order, “which would indicate that there will be no violence.” That morning Japanese nationals were released from custody. The crowds, laden with stores from the quartermaster warehouses, began to break into business establishments and wholesale looting began. The once proud city, covered with the ashes and filth of destruction, was difficult to recognize as the beautiful and orderly metropolis it had been less than a month before.

Japanese enter Manila

Finally, at 1745 on Friday, 2 January 1942, the Japanese entered Manila. Major General Koichi Abe, 48th Division infantry group commander, led one battalion of the 1st Formosa and two of the 47th Infantry into the northern sector of the capital. Simultaneously, from the south, the 16th Reconnaissance Regiment and a battalion of the 20th Infantry also entered. Accompanied by released Japanese civilians, who acted as interpreters, the occupying troops posted guards at strategic points and set about securing the city. “The joyful voices of the Japanese residents,” reported General Morioka, “were overwhelming.”

[ Homma later claimed that “arrangements were made to enter the city … with only two battalions from each division, and the rest of the divisions must stay out of the city.” Neither Generals Tsuchibashi nor Morioka limited the entering units to two battalions. USA vs. Homma, p. 3056, testimony of Homma]

The voices of the other residents were not so joyful. Throughout the city at important intersections Japanese officers and interpreters set up card tables and checked pedestrians. All “enemy aliens,” British and Americans, were ordered to remain at home until they could be registered and investigated. The only Caucasians who walked the streets unmolested were Germans, Italians, and Spaniards.

All that night Japanese trucks poured into the city, their occupants taking over private hotels and some public buildings as billets. Enemy troops moved into the University of the Philippines and other school buildings. The next morning the only cars on the street were those driven by Japanese officers and civilians. From their radiators flew the flag of the Rising Sun. Spanish, French, Italian, German, Portuguese, and Thai flags could also be seen. The vault of the national treasury at the Intendencia Building was sealed and a large placard announced the building and its contents to be the property of the Japanese Government.

The banks remained closed and the doors of Manila restaurants were also shut. Newspaper publication was briefly suspended and then began again under Japanese control The few stores that were open did a land-office business with Japanese officers who bought up brooches and watches with colorful occupation pesos.

Governmental departments of the Philippine Commonwealth were placed under “protective custody.” The courts were temporarily suspended, utilities were taken over by the Japanese, and a bewildering list of licenses and permits was issued to control the economic life of the Islands. Japanese sick and wounded were moved into the Chinese General Hospital and three wards of the Philippine General Hospital. All British and Americans were ordered to report for internment, and nearly 3,000 were herded together on the campus of Santo Tomas University. “Thereafter,” reported the Japanese, “peace and order were gradually restored to Manila.”

The restoration of “peace and order” required the Japanese to place many restrictions on the civilian population. On 5 January a “warning” appeared in heavy black type across the top of the Manila Tribune. “Anyone who inflicts, or attempts to inflict, an injury upon Japanese soldiers or individuals,” it read, “shall be shot to death” ; but “if the assailant, or attempted assailant, cannot be found, we will hold ten influential persons as hostages who live in and about the streets or municipalities where the event happened.” The warning concluded with the admonition that “the Filipinos should understand our real intentions and should work together with us to maintain public peace and order in the Philippines.”

With the occupation of Manila; General Homma had successfully accomplished the mission assigned by Imperial General Headquarters. But he could draw small comfort from his success, for MacArthur’s forces were still intact. The newly formed Philippine Army, the Philippine Scouts, and the U.S. Army garrison had successfully escaped to Bataan and Corregidor. So long as they maintained their positions there, the Japanese would be unable to enter Manila Bay or use the Manila harbor. The Japanese had opened the back door to Manila Bay but the front door remained firmly closed.

Strategic Views on the Philippines To the civilians who watched quietly from behind closed shutters as the Japanese entered their city it seemed incredible that the war was less than a month old. In that brief span of time, the enemy had made eight separate landings on widely dispersed beaches. He had driven out of the Philippines the Far East Air Force and the Asiatic Fleet. On Luzon he had marched north and south from each end of the island to join his forces before Manila. Casualties had been comparatively light and the main objective was now in his hands.

In that same time the Japanese had secured a foothold in Mindanao to the south and had gained control of the important harbor at Davao. Brigadier General William F. Sharp’s forces on that island were still intact, however, and held the airfield at Del Monte, the only field in the archipelago still capable of supporting heavy bombers. In the Visayas the Japanese had made no landings. There the scattered American and Philippine garrisons on Panay, Cebu, Bohol, Leyte, and other islands fortified their defenses and made plans for the day when the enemy would appear off their shores.

Elsewhere, the Japanese forces had set about exploiting their initial gains. Hong Kong had fallen to the 23d Army on Christmas Day. General Yamashita’s 25th Army, which had landed on the Malay Peninsula on the first day of war, was now pushing ever closer to Singapore. Japanese forces in the Sulu Archipelago and Borneo consolidated their positions and prepared to move into the Netherlands Indies. The South Seas Detachment, which had seized Guam, was now ready to move on to Rabaul, while other units staged for operations in the Celebes-Ambon area. Important Burmese airfields had been attacked on 25 December and at the year’s end the 15th Army was concentrating in Thailand for its invasion of Burma. After the first rapid gains, the enemy was ready for further offensives. The Allies had little left to challenge the Japanese bid for supremacy in the Southwest Pacific and Southeast Asia.

General MacArthur attributed the success of the Japanese to American weakness on the sea and in the air. The enemy, he pointed out, now had “utter freedom of naval and air movements” and could be expected to extend its conquests southward into the Netherlands Indies, using Mindanao as a base of operations. so If the Japanese were able to seize the Netherlands Indies, he warned, the Allies would be forced to advance from Australia through the Dutch and British islands to regain the Philippines. He regarded it as essential, therefore, to halt the Japanese drive southward, and proposed that air forces should be rushed to the Southwest Pacific. Operating from advance bases, these planes could prevent the Japanese from developing airfields.

Concurrently, with strong naval action to keep open the line of communication to Mindanao, Japanese air forces were to be neutralized by Allied air power, and then ground forces would be landed there. He had already done all he could to support such action, MacArthur told the War Department, by sending his air force to Australia and the Netherlands Indies and by supporting Mindanao with reinforcements and ammunition. “I wish to emphasize,” he concluded, “the necessity for naval action and for rapid execution by land, sea, and air.”

Receiving no reply to this message, General MacArthur took the occasion, on 1 January, when asked about the evacuation of President Quezon, to emphasize his isolated position and to remind the Chief of Staff of his strategic concept for a combined effort by land, sea, and air forces through the Netherlands Indies to Mindanao. Quezon’s departure, he warned, would undoubtedly be followed by the collapse of the will to fight on the part of the Filipinos, and he pointedly added that, aside from 7,000 combat troops (exclusive of air corps), his army consisted of Filipinos. “In view of the Filipinos effort,” he declared, “the United States must move strongly to their support or withdraw in shame from the Orient.”

Just a week later, as his forces withdrew behind the first line of defenses on Bataan, MacArthur outlined for the Chief of Staff the preparations he was making for the arrival of an expeditionary force in Mindanao. These included transfer of equipment for one division, the movement of nine P–40’s and 650 men of the 19th Bombardment Group to Del Monte, and plans to develop additional landing fields there. It was essential, he wrote, to inaugurate a system of blockade-running to Mindanao since supplies were low.

Our air force bombardment missions from south should quickly eliminate hostile air from Davao and our pursuit should go into Del Monte without delay. Establishment of air force will permit immediate extension into Visayas and attacks on enemy forces in Luzon. . . . An Army Corps should be landed in Mindanao at the earliest possible date. . . . Enemy appears to have tendency to become overconfident and time is ripe for brilliant thrust with air carriers.

MacArthur’s pleas for a major- Allied effort in the Southwest Pacific were resolved with sympathy in Washington, where the first wartime United States-British conference on strategy was in session. The British recognized the importance of the threat in the Far East and agreed that munitions and supplies should go there, even though such shipments represented a diversion from the agreed strategy that the main effort should be made against Germany first. “The President and Prime Minister, Colonel Stimson and Colonel Knox, the British Chiefs of Staff and our corresponding officials,” General Marshall told MacArthur, “have been surveying every possibility looking toward the quick development of strength in the Far East so as to break the enemy’s hold on the Philippines.” Though all were agreed on the need for action in the Southwest Pacific, little could be done. The loss in capital ships, Marshall explained, prevented naval convoys for heavy reinforcements and the concentration of strong naval forces in the Southwest Pacific such as MacArthur was requesting.

Heavy bombers were on the way, via Africa and Hawaii, and pursuit planes were being sent by every ship, so that the Allies should soon have aerial supremacy in the Southwest Pacific. “Our great hope,” Marshall told MacArthur, “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 in the southern Philippines.” The naval carrier raids MacArthur was asking for were not ruled out entirely but little hope was offered for such an effort. Marshall closed his message on a note of encouragement for the future and the assurance that “every day of time you gain is vital to the concentration of overwhelming power necessary for our purpose.”

Actually, the American and British staffs in Washington had already agreed upon the strategy for the Far East: to hold the Malay Barrier from the Malay Peninsula through Sumatra and Java to Australia. This line was considered the basic Allied defensive position in the Far East, and the retention of its east and west anchors, Australia and Burma, was therefore regarded as essential.

The latter had additional strategic importance because it was essential to the support of China and the defense of India. The Allies were agreed that land, sea, and air forces should operate as far forward of the barrier as possible in order to halt the Japanese advance southward. The support of the Philippine garrison and the re-establishment of the line of communications through the Netherlands Indies to Luzon apparently came after the more important task of holding Australia and Burma.

During the first week in January the War Plans Division of the General Staff, which had been studying the possibility of sending an expedition to the relief of the Philippine garrison, came to the conclusion that the forces required could not be placed in the Far East in time. While this reason was probably the overriding consideration in its recommendation that operations to relieve the Philippines not be undertaken, the War Plans Division went on to point out that the dispatch of so large a force would constitute “an entirely unjustifiable diversion of forces from the principal theater-the Atlantic.” The greatest effort which could be justified on strategic grounds was to hold the Malay Barrier while projecting operations as far north as possible to provide maximum defense in depth. This view was essentially that already agreed upon by the Combined Chiefs of Staff. The War Plans Division therefore recommended that, “for the present,” operations in the Far East should be limited to these objectives.

The War Plans Division study is of considerable interest, not only for the effect it may have had on MacArthur’s requests for a joint advance through the Netherlands Indies to Mindanao, but also for its realistic appraisal of the strategic situation in the Far East and the importance of the Philippine Islands. Accepting General MacArthur’s estimate of Japanese strength in the Philippines and of the length of time he could hold out against serious attack-three month-the Army planners agreed that the loss of the Philippines, “the key to the Far East position of the Associated Powers,” would be a decisive blow, followed probably by the fall of the Netherlands Indies and Singapore. Australian and British trade routes would then be seriously threatened, while Japan’s strength would be increased by control of the raw materials in the Indies. The isolation of China was “almost certain to follow.” This analysis coincided with MacArthur’s, as did the plan of operations outlined to recover the Philippines.

It was when the planners considered the means necessary to carry out these operations that they found themselves in disagreement with General MacArthur. They estimated that 1,464 aircraft of various types, only about half of which were available, would be necessary to advance from Australia to Luzon. The difference would, have to come from other areas-Hawaii, Panama, and the United States-and from lend-lease aircraft already committed. Additional airfields would have to be built. MacArthur estimated that the Japanese had six divisions on Luzon, one at Davao, and a small force at Jolo. There were only two Japanese divisions in the Philippines. The planners, for lack of more definite information, accepted MacArthur’s estimate.

Australia and along the line of advance. The line of communications to Australia would have to be made secure and a logistical organization developed to support the drive northward. Such an effort, the planners estimated, would require very large naval resources. With the vessels already in the area, the Allies would have to transfer 7 to 9 capital ships, 5 to 7 carriers, about 50 destroyers, 60 submarines, and the necessary auxiliary vessels from the Atlantic and Mediterranean to the Pacific and Far East.

The diversion of naval forces might well result in the loss of the supply routes to Europe and the Middle East and would severely limit the defense of the Western Hemisphere. It was not surprising, therefore, that the War Plans Division concluded that the relief of the Philippine garrison could not be accomplished in the three months left, and that the allocation of such sizable forces to the project would represent a major and unjustifiable diversion from the main effort.

There is no record of any formal approval of the conclusions of the War Plans Division. Both Secretary Stimson and General Marshall noted the study but made no comment. If there had ever been any serious consideration given to MacArthur’s proposals to send an expedition to the relief of the beleaguered Philippine garrison, the War Plans study put an end to such hopes.

But there was no relaxation of the determination to send General MacArthur whatever aid was within the means of the United States and its Allies. President Roosevelt had time and again stated his desire to do so and as late as 30 December had written Stimson that he wished the War Plans Division to explore every possible means of relieving the Philippines. “I realize great risks are involved,” he said, “but the objective is important.”

While the President’s stated desire remained the official policy of the government and the hope of the American people, the strategy evolved by the Allies placed more realistic limits to the objectives they hoped to attain. The conference then meeting in Washington agreed that the Allies must hold the Malay Barrier and established a theater of operations known as the ABDA (American-British-Dutch-Australian) area, with General Sir Archibald P. Wavell in command, to co-ordinate the efforts of the various national forces in that region. This command, the first Allied command of the war, included the Philippines, the Netherlands Indies, Malaya, and Burma. Wavell’s mission was to hold the Malay Barrier against the advancing Japanese, but he was also directed to re-establish communications through the Netherlands Indies with Luzon and to support the Philippine garrison. Thus, General MacArthur was placed under Wavell’s command, but, explained General Marshall, “because of your present isolation this will have only nominal effect upon your command. . .. ”

Actually, the organization of the ABDA area had no effect on operations in the Philippines, and aside from a formal acknowledgement between the two commanders there was no communication between the two headquarters. Although General Marshall pointed out that the new arrangement offered “the only feasible method for the eventual relief of the Philippines,” it was already clear to General MacArthur that the Allies were not going to make a determined effort to advance to his rescue.

It was perhaps just as well that the Americans and Filipinos who crowded into Bataan and took their positions behind the lines already established did not know how serious was the Allied position in the Far East and how remote were their chances for relief. Ahead of them were long, dreary months of starvation and hard fighting before they would be herded into prison camps. At least they could hope that help was on the way. Only General MacArthur and his immediate staff knew the worst.

SOURCE: The Fall Of The Philippines by Louis Morton (United States Army Center of Military History)

World War Two: Fall of Philippines (4-15):The Siege of Bataan: Setting the Stage

World War Two: Fall of Philippines (3-13); Into Bataan 1941


World War Two: Fall of Philippines (3-13); Into Bataan 1941

By the first week of January 1942 the American and Filipino troops withdrawing from both ends of Luzon had joined at San Fernando and begun the last lap of their journey to Bataan. In ten days they had retired from Lingayen Gulf and Lamon Bay to Guagua and Porac, on the two roads leading into Bataan. There they had halted and established a line only fifteen miles from the base of the peninsula. The longer they could hold, the more time would be available to prepare the final defenses in Bataan.

The Guagua-Porac Line

Along the ten-mile line from Guagua to Porac, paralleling the road between the two barrios, General Wainwright had placed the 11th and 21st Divisions (PA), as well as armor and cavalry. On the left (west), around Porac, was the 21st Division with the 26th Cavalry (PS) to its rear, in force reserve. On the east was the 11th Division, its right flank covered by almost impenetrable swamps crisscrossed by numerous streams. In support of both divisions was General Weaver’s tank group.

The troops along this line, the best in the North Luzon Force, though battle tested and protected by mountains on the west and swamps on the east, felt exposed and insecure. They were convinced that they were opposing the entire Japanese 14th Army, estimated, according to Colonel Mallonee, to number 120,000 men. Actually, Japanese strength on Luzon was about half that size, and only two reinforced regiments with tanks and artillery faced the men on the Guagua-Porac line.

From Cabanatuan, where Homma had moved his headquarters on New Year’s Day, 14th Army issued orders to attack the line before Bataan. A force, known as the Takahashi Detachment after its commander, Lieutenant Colonel Katsumi Takahashi, and consisting of the 9th Infantry (less two companies), two batteries of the 22d Field Artillery, and the 8th Field Heavy Artillery Regiment (less one battalion), was to strike out from Angeles along Route 74, smash the American line at Porac, and go on to seize Dinalupihan, an important road junction at the entrance to Bataan. To support Takahashi’s drive down Route 74, Homma ordered the 9th Independent Field Heavy Artillery Battalion, then approaching Tarlac, to push on to Porae. A second force, drawn largely from the 48th Division, was organized for the drive down Route 7 through Guagua to Hermosa, a short distance southeast of Dinalupihan. This force, organized at San Fernando and led by Colonel Tanaka, was composed of the 2d Formosa and a battalion of the 47th Infantry supported by a company of tanks and three battalions of artillery. Both detachments were to receive support from the 5th Air Group, which was also to strike at targets on Bataan. The attack would begin at 0200 on 2 January.

The Japanese expected to smash the defenses before Bataan easily and to make quick work of the “defeated enemy,” who, in General Morioka’s striking phrase, was like “a cat entering a sack.” General Homrna fully intended to draw the strings tight once the Americans were in the sack, thereby bringing the campaign to an early and successful conclusion. He was due for a painful disappointment.

The Left Flank

In the 21st Division sector, just below Porac, two regiments stood on the line. On the west (left), from the mountains to Route 74, was the 21st Infantry, spread thin along the entire front. On the right, behind the Porac-Guagua road, was the 22d Infantry. The 23d Infantry, organized at the start of hostilities, was in reserve about five miles to the rear. The division’s artillery regiment was deployed with its 3d Battalion on the left, behind the 21st Infantry, and the 1st Battalion on the right. The 2d Battalion was in general support, but placed immediately behind the 3d Battalion which was short one battery. Seven miles south of Porac, at San Jose, was the force reserve, the 26th Cavalry, now partly rested and reorganized after its fight in the Lingayen area. Its mission was to cover the left flank of the 21st Division and extend it westward to the Zambales Mountains.

Colonel Pierce, the cavalry commander, dispatched Troop G, equipped with a pack radio, forward toward Porac, to the left of the 21st Infantry. The rest of the regiment he kept in readiness at San Jose. The 26th Cavalry was not the only unit in San Jose; also there were the 192d Tank Battalion and the headquarters of the 21 st Division. The place was so crowded that Colonel Mallonee, who wanted to establish the command post of the 21st Field Artillery there, was forced to choose another location because “the town was as full as the county seat during fair week.”

The expected attack against the GuaguaPorac line came on the afternoon of 2 January, when an advance detachment from the 9th Infantry corning down Route 74 hit the 21st Infantry near Porac. Although the enemy detachment was small, it was able to force back the weakened and thinly spread defenders about 2,000 yards to the southwest, to the vicinity of Pio. Stiffened by the reserve, the regiment finally halted the Japanese advance just short of the regimental reserve line. Efforts to restore the original line failed, leaving the artillery exposed to the enemy infantry, who were “about as far from the muzzles as outfielders would play for Babe Ruth if there were no fences.”

Division headquarters in San Jose immediately made plans for a counterattack using a battalion of the reserve regiment, the 23d Infantry. But darkness fell before the attack could be mounted and the 2d Battalion, 23d Infantry, the unit selected for the counterattack, was ordered to move up at dawn and restore the line on the left. When the 2d Battalion moved into the line, the 21st Infantry would regroup to the right, thus shortening its front.

That night the stillness was broken only by fire from the Philippine artillery which had pulled back about 600 yards. When morning came the enemy was gone. Reports from 21st Infantry patrols, which had moved forward unmolested at the first sign of light, encouraged division headquarters to believe that the original main line of resistance could be restored without a fight and orders were issued for a general advance when the 2d Battalion, 23d Infantry, tied in with the 21st Infantry.

American plans for a counterattack were premature. The evening before, the main force Qf the Takahashi Detachment had left its assembly area midway between Bamban and Angeles and marched rapidly toward Porac. The 8th Field Heavy Artillery Regiment (less one battalion), with its 105-mm. guns, had accompanied the force and by morning was in position to support the infantry attack. Thus, when the 2d Battalion, 23d Infantry, began to advance it was met first by punishing small-arms fire from the infantry, then by fire from the 105-mm. guns of the 8th Field Artillery.

At the same time three Japanese aircraft swung low to strafe the road in support of the enemy attack. The momentum of the advance carried the Japanese below Pio, where they were finally stopped. When news of the attack reached General Wainwright’s headquarters, the most alarming item in the report was the presence of Japanese medium artillery, thought to be heavy guns, on the left of the American line. This artillery represented a serious threat, and the 21st Division was ordered to “hold the line or die where you are.” General Capinpin did his best, but he had only two battalions of the 23d Infantry, an unseasoned and untrained unit, left in reserve. One of these battalions was in North Luzon Force reserve and it was now ordered to move to the 11th Division sector near Guagua where a heavy fight was in progress.

Meanwhile, Colonel Takahashi had launched an assault against the 21st Infantry. First the battalion on the left gave way and within an hour the reserve line also began to crumble. By noon the left flank of the 21st Infantry was completely disorganized. The right battalion, though still intact, fell back also lest it be outflanked. This withdrawal exposed the left flank of the 22d Infantry on its right.

Colonel Takahashi lost no time in taking advantage of the gap in the American line. Elements of the 9th Infantry drove in between the two regiments, hitting most heavily the 1st Battalion, 22d Infantry, on the regimental left. The action which followed was marked by confusion. The noise of artillery fire and the black smoke rising from the burning cane fields reduced the troops to bewildered and frightened men. At one time the 21st Infantry staff was nearly captured when the onrushing enemy broke through to the command post. A group of tanks from the 11th Division sector, ordered to attack the Japanese line in front of the 21st Division, showed a marked disinclination to move into the adjoining sector without orders from the tank group commander. Before the ferocity of the Japanese attack the defending infantry line melted away.

Had it not been for the artillery the Japanese attack might well have resulted in a complete rout. Fortunately, the 21st Field Artillery acted in time to halt Takahashi’s advance. The 1st Battalion en the right, behind the 22d Infantry, covered the gap between the two regiments and fired directly against the oncoming Japanese at a range of 600-800 yards. The 2d and 3d Battalions delivered direct fire up the draw leading through Pio. Notwithstanding the punishing artillery fire, the 9th Infantry continued to attack. For six hours, until darkness closed in, the left portion of the 21st Division line was held by the guns of the 21st Field Artillery alone, firing at close range across open fields. “As attack after attack came on, broke, and went back,” wrote Colonel Mallonee, “I knew what Cushing’s artillerymen must have felt with the muzzles of their guns in the front line as the Confederate wave came on and broke on the high water mark at Gettysburg.”

Quiet settled down on the 21st Division front that night. The Takahashi Detachment, its attack halted by the effective fire of the artillery, paused to reorganize and take stock of the damage. The next day, 4 January, there was no action at all on the left and only intermittent pressure on the right. The Japanese did manage to emplace one or two of their 105-mm. guns along the high ground to the west and during the day fired on the rear areas. Fortunately, their marksmanship was poor and although they made life behind the front lines uncomfortable they inflicted no real damage.

On the afternoon of the 4th, as a result of pressure on the 11th Division to the east, General Wainwright ordered the 21st Division to withdraw under cover of darkness to the line of the Gumain River, about eight miles south of Porac. That night the division began to move back after successfully breaking contact with the enemy. Despite the absence of enemy pressure there was considerable confusion during the withdrawal.

By daylight of the 5th, however, the troops were across the Gumain where they began to prepare for their next stand. Division headquarters, the 23d Infantry, the division signal company, and other special units were at Dinalupihan, with the 21st Field Artillery located just east of the town.

The Right Flank

Along the east half of the GuaguaPorac line stood the 11th Division (PA).The 11th Infantry was on the left, holding the Guagua-Porac road as far north as Santa Rita. The regiment, in contact with the 21 st Division on the left only through occasional patrols, had three battalions on the line. The 2d Battalion was on the left, the I st in the center, and the 3d on the right. Next to the 11th was the 13th Infantry, which held Guagua and was in position across Route 7. Extending the line southeast from Guagua to Sexmoan were two companies of the 12th Infantry. The 11th Field Artillery, for the first time since the start of the war, was in support of the division. Part of the 194th Tank Battalion and Company A of the 192d provided additional support. The Japanese attack on the right flank of the Guagua-Porac line came on 3 January.

Leaving San Fernando at 0400 the reinforced Tanaka Detachment had advanced cautiously along Route 7. At about 0930 the point of the Japanese column made contact with a platoon of tanks from Company C, 194th, posted about 1,000 yards north of Guagua. Under tank fire and confined to the road because of the marshy terrain on both sides, the Japanese halted to await the arrival of the main force. About noon, when the force in front became too formidable, the American tanks fell back to Guagua. The Japanese continued to advance slowly. Forced by the nature of the terrain into a frontal assault along the main road and slowed down by the numerous villages along the line of advance, the attack, the Japanese admitted, “did not progress as planned.” Artillery was brought into support and, late in the afternoon, the 75-mm. guns opened fire, scoring at least one hit on the 11th Infantry command post. The defending infantry were greatly cheered by the sound of their own artillery answering the Japanese guns.

Organized after the start of the war and inadequately trained, the men of the 11th Field Artillery, firing from positions at Guagua and Santa Rita, made up in enthusiasm what they lacked in skill. The Japanese artillery fire continued during the night and increased in intensity the next morning, 4 January, when a battalion of 150-mm. howitzers joined in the fight.

In the early afternoon an enemy column spearheaded by tanks of the 7th Tank Regiment broke through the 13th Infantry line along Route 7 and seized the northern portion of Guagua. Another column hit the 3d Battalion, 11th Infantry, to the left of the 13th, inflicting about 150 casualties. The two units held on long enough, however, for the lst and 2d Battalions of the 11th Infantry to pull out. They then broke contact and followed the two battalions in good order. During this action Company A, 192d Tank Battalion, and elements of the 11th Division attempted to counterattack by striking the flank of the Japanese line before Guagua. This move almost ended in disaster. The infantry on the line mistook the tanks for enemy armor and began dropping mortar shells on Company A, and General Weaver, who was in a jeep attempting to co-ordinate the tank-infantry attack, was almost hit. The mistake was discovered in time and no serious damage was done.

When news of the Japanese breakthrough at Guagua reached General Wainwright on the afternoon of the 4th he decided it was time to fall back again. The next line was to be south of the Gumain River, and orders were issued to the 11th, as well as the 21st Division, to withdraw to the new line that night. General Brougher’s plan of withdrawal called for a retirement along Route 7 through Guagua and Lubao to the new line. The rapid advance of the Tanaka Detachment through Guagua and down Route 7 toward Lubao late that afternoon, however, cut off this route of retreat of the 11th Infantry and other elements on the line. A hasty reconnaissance of the area near the highway failed to disclose any secondary roads or trails suitable for an orderly retirement. To withdraw cross-country was to invite wholesale confusion and a possible rout.

The only course remaining to the cutoff units was to traverse a thirty-mile-Iong, circuitous route through San Jose, in the 21st Division sector, then down Route 74 to Dinalupihan. There the men would turn southeast as far as Layac Junction and then north along Route 7 to a point where they could form a line before the advancing Tanaka Detachment. That evening, 4 January, the long march began. Those elements of the 11th Division cut off by the Japanese advance, and Company A, 192d Tank Battalion, reached San Jose without interference from the enemy but not without adding to the confusion already existing in the 21 st Division area.

Meanwhile at San Jose, General Brougher, the 11th Division commander, had collected all the trucks and buses he could find and sent them forward to carry his men. With this motor transportation, the 11th Infantry was able to take up a position along Route 7, between Santa Cruz and Lubao, by about 0600 of 5 January. This line was about one mile southwest of the Gumain River, the position which the division had originally been ordered to occupy. Troops arriving on this line found themselves under small-arms fire from the Tanaka Detachment, which had entered Lubao the previous evening.

A short distance north of this line, an outpost line had already been established the previous afternoon by General Brougher with those troops who had been able to withdraw down Route 7. The infantry troops on this line were from the 12th Infantry, part of which had pulled back along Route 7. Brougher had rounded up about two hundred men from the regiment, together with the ten guns of the 11th Field Artillery and some 75-mm. SPM’s, and formed a line on Route 7 between Lubao and Santa Cruz. For fourteen hours, from the afternoon of 4 January to the morning of 5 January, these troops under the command of Captain John Primrose formed the only line between the enemy and Layac Junction, the entrance into Bataan. Early on 5 January when the new line was formed by the troops who had withdrawn through San Jose, Primrose and his men pulled back to join the main force of the division.

The withdrawal of the 194th Tank Battalion from Guagua had been accomplished only after a fierce fight. Colonel Miller, the tank commander, had ordered the tanks to pull out on the morning of the 4th. Under constant enemy pressure, the tanks began a slow withdrawal, peeling off one at a time. Guarding their flank was a force consisting of a few tanks of Company C, 194th, and some SPM’s from Captain Gordon H. Peck’s provisional battalion posted at a block along the Sexmoan-Lubao road.

At about 1600 Peck and Miller had observed a large enemy force approaching. This force, estimated as between 500 and 800 men, supported by machine guns, mortars, and artillery, was led by three Filipinos carrying white flags, presumably under duress. The tanks and SPM’s opened fire, cutting the Japanese column to pieces. The 194th Tank Battalion then left burning Guagua and Lubao and moved south to positions a mile or two above Santa Cruz. The tanks and SPM’s at the block covered its withdrawal.

Some time after midnight, between 0200 and 0300 on 5 January, the covering force was hit again, this time by infantry and artillery of the Tanaka Detachment. Attacking in bright moonlight across an open field and along the road, the enemy came under direct fire from the American guns. Driven back with heavy casualties, he attacked again and again, and only broke off the action about 0500, at the approach of daylight. Later in the day the Tanaka Detachment, seriously depleted by casualties, was relieved by Colonel Hifumi Imai’s 1st Formosa Infantry (less one battalion) to which were attached Tanaka’s tanks and artillery.

By dawn of 5 January, after two days of heavy and confused fighting, the Guagua-Porae line had been abandoned and the American and Filipino troops had pulled back to a new line south and west of the Gumain River. The 21st Division on the west had retired to a position about eight miles below Porae and was digging in along the bank of the river; to the east the 11th Division had fallen back six miles and stood along a line about a mile south of the river. But the brief stand on the Guagua-Porac line had earned large dividends. The Japanese had paid dearly for the ground gained and had been prevented from reaching their objective, the gateway to Bataan. More important was the time gained by the troops already in Bataan to prepare their positions.

Behind the Gates

The only troops remaining between the enemy and Bataan-the 11thand 21st Divisions, the 26th Cavalry, and the tank group–were now formed on their final line in front of the peninsula. This line, approximately eight miles in front of the access road to Bataan and generally along the Gumain River, blocked the approach to Bataan through Dinalupihan and Layac Junction.

Both Dinalupihan and Layac Junction lie along Route 7. This road, the 11th Division’s route of withdrawal, extends southwest from San Fernando to Layac where it joins Route 110, the only road leading into Bataan. At Layac, Route 7 turns sharply northwest for 2,000 yards to Dinalupihan, the southern terminus of Route 74 along which the 21st Division was withdrawing. Route 7 then continues west across the base of the peninsula to Olangapo on Subic Bay, then north along the Zambales coast to Lingayen Gulf, a route of advance the Japanese had fortunately neglected in favor of the central plain which led most directly to their objective, Manila.

Layac Junction, where all the roads to Bataan joined, was the key point along the route of withdrawal. Through it and over the single steel bridge across the Culo River just south of the town would have to pass the troops converging along Routes 7 and 74. The successful completion of this move would require the most precise timing, and, if the enemy attacked, a high order of road discipline.

Through the Layac Bottleneck

The withdrawal from the Gumain River through Layac Junction, although made without interference from the enemy, was attended by the greatest confusion. On the east, where the 11th Division was in position astride Route 7, there were a few skirmishes between patrols on 5 January but no serious action. General Brougher had received a battalion of the 71st Infantry to strengthen his line but the battalion returned to its parent unit at the end of the day without ever having been engaged with the enemy.

In the 21st Division area to the west there was much milling about and confusion on the 5th. Work on the Gumain River position progressed very slowly during the morning, and the troops showed little inclination to extend the line eastward to make contact with the 11th Division. During the day contradictory or misunderstood orders sent the men forward and then pulled them back, sometimes simultaneously. Shortly before noon General Capinpin, needlessly alarmed about the situation on the 11th Division front and fearful for the safety of his right ( east) flank, ordered a withdrawal to a point about a mile above Dinalupihan. The movement was begun but halted early in the afternoon by an order from General Wainwright to hold the Gumain River line until further orders.

By midafternoon the division had once more formed a line south of the river. Thinly manned in one place, congested in another, the position was poorly organized and incapable of withstanding a determined assault In one section, infantry, artillery, and tanks were mixed together in complete disorder. “Everyone,” said Colonel Mallonee, “was in everyone else’s lap and the whole thing resembled nothing quite as much as the first stages of an old fashioned southern political mass meeting and free barbecue.”

Fortunately for General Capinpin, the Takahashi Detachment on Route 74 did not advance below Pio. This failure to advance was due to an excess of caution on the part of the colonel who, on the 4th, had been placed under the 65th Brigade for operations on Bataan. It is, entirely possible that Japanese caution and lack of vigor in pressing home the attack may have been due to a mistaken notion of the strength of the defending forces and a healthy respect for American-led Filipino troops. Had Takahashi chosen this moment to launch a determined attack against the 21st Division he would almost certainly have succeeded in trapping the forces before Bataan.

The troops had hardly taken up their positions behind the Gumain River when General Wainwright issued orders for the withdrawal into Bataan through Layac Junction, to begin at dark. First to cross the bridge over the Culo River below Layac would be the 11th Division, followed closely by the 21st. To cover the withdrawal of the 11th, one battalion of the 21st Division was to sideslip over in front of the 11th Division, while the 26th Cavalry would protect the left flank of the 21st during its withdrawal.

The execution of such a maneuver seemed impossible under the conditions existing along the front. The 23d Infantry, in division reserve, was already at Dinalupihan and Colonel O’Day, senior American instructor in the 21st Division, proposed instead to place a battalion of this regiment astride Route 7 behind the 11th Division. General Brougher’s troops could then fall back through the covering battalion. This proposal was accepted, and after considerable difficulty “the equivalent of a battalion” was placed in position by dark. When night fell the 11th Division withdrew from its positions and moved southwest along Route 7 toward Layac Junction and the road to Bataan. Soon the town was crowded with men and vehicles and as the withdrawal continued became a scene of “terrible congestion,” of marching men, trucks, buses, artillery, tanks, horses, and large numbers of staff and command cars. “It looked,” remarked one observer, “like the parking lot of the Yale bowl.”

At about 2030 Colonel John Moran, chief of staff of the 11th Division, reported that his division had cleared Layac and was across the Culo bridge. The 21st Division was now ordered across. Observing the passage of men, Colonel O’Day wrote: “It was a painful and tragic sight-our soldiers trudging along, carrying inordinate loads of equipment and personal effects. Many had their loads slung on bamboo poles, a pole between two men. They had been marching almost since dark the night before, and much of the daylight hours had been spent in backing and filling …. “

By about midnight of the 5th, the last guns of the 21st Field Artillery had cleared the bridge, and within the next hour all of the foot troops, closely shepherded by the Scouts of the 26th Cavalry, were across. Last to cross were the tanks, which cleared the bridge shortly before 0200 of the 6th. General Wainwright then ordered Captain A. P. Chanco, commanding the 91st Engineer Battalion, to blow the bridge. The charges were immediately detonated and the span demolished. All of the troops were not on Bataan, and the last gate slammed shut. The Japanese had lost their opportunity again to cut off the retreat. Colonel Imai was still at Santa Cruz and Takahashi still hung back at Porac.

Holding Action Below Layac Junction Already formed below Layac Junction when the Culo bridge was blown was another line designed to delay the enemy and gain more time for the Bataan Defense Force. The idea for a delaying action at Layac Junction was contained in WPO-3, the plan that went into effect on 23 December, and General Parker, commander of the Bataan Defense Force, had sent the 31st Infantry (US) there on the 28th to cover the junction.

The importance of this position was stressed by Colonel Hugh J. Casey, MacArthur’s engineer officer, who, on 2 January, pointed out to General Sutherland that the defense lines then being established on Bataan left to the enemy control of Route 110 which led south from Layac into the peninsula. This road, he felt, should be denied the Japanese as long as possible. He recommended to General Sutherland, therefore, that a strong delaying action, or, failing that, “definite reference to preparing strong delaying positions . . . should be made.” These recommendations were apparently accepted, for the same day General MacArthur ordered Wainwright to organize a delaying position south of Layac Junction along Route 110. On completion of this position, control would pass to General Parker, who was to hold until forced to withdraw by a coordinated enemy attack.

[Except where otherwise indicated this section is based upon: itr, Selleck to CG II Corps, 3 Feb 43, sub: Action at Layac Junction, in Selleck, Notes on the 71st Div (PA), pp. 20-22. Attached to this letter are accounts of the 31st Infantry (US) by Colonel Charles L. Steel and of the 26th Cavalry (PS) at Layac Junction by Lieutenant Colonel Lee C. Vance, and a memo, Weaver for Selleck, 1 Feb 43, sub: Action Prov Tank Gp in Connection with Layac Delaying Position; itr, Selleck to Board of Officers, 1 Feb 46, sub: Statement for Reinstatement of Rank, OCMH; USAFFE-USFIP Rpt of Opns, pp. 41-42; SLF and II Corps Rpt of Opns, pp. 22-27; and Chandler, “26th Cavalry (PS) Battles to Glory,” Part 2, Armored Cavalry Journal (May-June 1947), pp. 13-14; Weaver, Comments on Draft MS, Comments 29 and 30, OCMH; hr, Miller to Ward, 31 Dec 51, OCMH; Skerry, Comments on Draft MS, Comment C, OCMH. Japanese sources for this action are scanty and the author had to rely on 14th Army Opns, I, 86, and the American sources cited.]

Responsibility for the establishment of the Layac Junction line was given to General Selleck who had just reached Bataan with his disorganized 71st Division (PA). The troops assigned were the 71st and 72d Infantry from Selleck’s 71st Division, totaling approximately 2,500 men; the 26th Cavalry, now numbering 657 men; and the 31st Infantry (US) of the Philippine Division, the only infantry regiment in the Philippines composed entirely of Americans. Of this force, the 31st was the only unit which had not yet been in action. Artillery support consisted of the 71st Field Artillery with two 75-mm. gun batteries and four 2.95-inch guns; the 1st Battalion of the 23d Field Artillery (PS) with about ten 75’s; and the 1st Battalion, 88th Field Artillery (PS) with two batteries of 75’s. The tank group and two SPM battalions were also in support.

On 3 and 4 January the 71st Division elements and the 31st Infantry moved into position and began stringing wire and digging in. General Selleck had been denied the use of the 71st Engineers by North Luzon Force, with the result that the construction of defenses progressed slowly. When Colonel Skerry inspected the line on the 4th and 5th he found that the tired and disorganized 71st and 72d Infantry had made little progress in the organization of the ground and that their morale was low. In the 31st Infantry (US) sector, however, he found morale high and the organization of the ground much more effective.

At that time Selleck’s forces were spread thin along a line south of Layac Junction across Route 110, which ran southeast and east between Layac and Hermosa. On the right was the 71st Infantry, holding a front along the south bank of Culis Creek-not to be confused with the Culo River immediately to the north. This line, parallel to and just north of Route 110, extended from Almacen, northeast of Hermosa, to a point northeast of Culis, where Culis Creek turned south to cross Route 110. The eastern extremity of the 71st Infantry sector was protected by swamps and a wide river; on the west was the 72d Infantry, straddling Route 110. Its sector was about 1,000 yards below Layac Junction and faced north and east.

Next to the 72d Infantry was the 31st Infantry, with the 1st and 2d Battalions extending the line to the southwest, about 3,000 yards from the nearest hill mass. This exposed left flank was to be covered by the 26th Cavalry, then pulling back through Layac Junction with the 11thand 21st Divisions. In reserve was the 3d Battalion, 31st Infantry, about 1,000 yards to the rear. Supporting the 31st was the 1st Battalion, 88th Field Artillery, on the west, and the 1st Battalion, 23d Field Artillery, to its right, west of Route 110. The 71st Division infantry regiments each had a battalion of the 71st Field Artillery in support.

At approximately 0330 of the 6th of January the 26th Cavalry reached the new line south of Layac Junction and fell in on the left of the 31st Infantry, to the foothills of the Zambales Mountains. It was followed across the bridge by the tanks, which took up supporting positions southwest of Hermosa-the 194th Battalion on the left (west) and the 192d on the right. The 75-mm. SPM’s, which withdrew with the tanks, were placed along the line to cover possible routes of advance of hostile tanks. The line when formed seemed a strong one. In Colonel Collier’s opinion, it had “a fair sized force to hold it,” and General Parker declared, referring probably to the 31st Infantry sector, that it “lent itself to a good defense . . . was on high ground and had good fields of fire.” General Selleck did not share this optimism about the strength of his position. To him the front occupied by his troops seemed excessive, with the result that “all units except the 26th Cavalry were over-extended.”

Colonel Skerry’s inspection on the 5th had led him to the conclusion that the length of the line held by the disorganized 71st and 72d Infantry was too extended for these units. Selleck thought that his line had another, eyen more serious weakness, in that part of the right portion faced northeast and the left portion northwest, thus exposing the first to enfilade from the north and the second to enfilade from the east. Admittedly the position chosen had weaknesses, but no more than a delaying action was ever contemplated along this line. As in the withdrawal of the North Luzon Force from Lingayen Gulf, all that was expected was that the enemy, faced by an organized line, would halt, wait for artillery and other supporting weapons, and plan an organized, coordinated attack. By that time the objective-delay-would have been gained, and the line could pull back.

At 0600, 6 January, when all the troops were on the line, Wainwright released General Selleck from his command to Parker’s control. After notifying MacArthur of his action he withdrew to Bataan, stopping briefly at Culis where Selleck had his command post. North Luzon Force had completed its mission. Like the South Luzon Force it was now in position behind the first line on Bataan. Only the covering force at Layac Junction denied the enemy free access to Bataan.

Action along the Layac line began on the morning of 6 January with an artillery barrage. At about 1000 forward observers reported that Japanese infantry and artillery were advancing down Route 7 toward Layac Junction. This column was part of the Imaz Detachment which consisted of the 1 st Formosa Infantry, one company of the 7th Tank Regiment, two battalions of the 48th Mountain Artillery armed with 75-mm. guns, and one battalion of the 1st Field Heavy Artillery Regiment with eight 150-mm. howitzers. By 1030 the Japanese column was within artillery range of the defenders and the 1st Battalions of the 23d and 88th Field Artillery Regiments opened fire. The first salvo by the Philippine Scout gunners was directly on the target.

Switching immediately to rapid volley fire, the two battalions, joined by the 71st Field Artillery, searched the road from front to rear, forcing the enemy to deploy about 4,200 yards northeast of Layac. The Japanese now moved their own artillery into position. The 75’s of the 48th Mountain Artillery and the 150-mm. howitzers of the 1st Field Artillery, directed by unmolested observation planes, began to drop concentrated and effective fire on the Americans and Filipinos. It was during this bombardment that Jose Calugas, the mess sergeant of Battery B, 88th Field Artillery, won the Medal of Honor.

General Selleck, without antiaircraft protection, was unable to prevent aerial reconnaissance, with the result that the Japanese 150’s, out of range of the American guns, were able to place accurate and punishing fire upon the infantry positions and upon the artillery. Around noon, therefore, Selleck ordered his artillery to new positions, but the observation planes, flying as low as 2,000 feet, reported the changed positions, and the Japanese artillery shifted fire. It enfiladed the 31st Infantry and inflicted great damage on the 71st Infantry and the 1st Battalion, 23d Field Artillery, destroying all but one of the latter’s guns. The 88th Field Artillery, in a more protected position, did not suffer as great a loss. That day General MacArthur informed the War Department that the enemy was using his “complete command of the air … to full effect against our artillery.”

The intense Japanese artillery barrage was the prelude to an advance by the infantry. MacArthur had warned that the Japanese were “apparently setting up a prepared attack in great strength,” and, except for his estimate of the strength of the enemy, his analysis was correct. At about 1400 a Japanese force of several battalions of infantry crossed the Culo River below Layac Junction and pushed forward the American line. Another force turned north at Layac and moved toward Dinalupihan, entering that undefended town at 1500. An hour later the Japanese who had continued south on reaching Layac hit Selleck’s line between the 31st Infantry and the 72d Infantry.

Company B, on the right of the 31st line, had been badly shaken by the artillery barrage and fell back in disorder to higher ground about 800 yards to the rear, leaving a gap between Company C on its left and the 72d Infantry on the right. Japanese troops promptly infiltrated. Attempts by the rest of the 1st Battalion, 31st Infantry, to fill the gap failed and Colonel Charles L. Steel, the regimental commander, secured his 3d Battalion from Selleck’s reserve and ordered it into the line.

The Japanese, supported by artillery fire, continued to push into the gap, hitting the right of Company C, 31st Infantry, and Company A of the 72d on the left. Lieutenant Colonel Jasper E. Brady, Jr., the 3d Battalion commander, ordered Companies I and L, 31st Infantry, into the sector previously held by Company B. As Company I moved forward, it was caught in the enemy’s artillery fire, badly disorganized, and forced back to the rear. Company L, however, continued to press forward. Within thirty minutes from the time it had jumped off to the attack, it had succeeded in restoring the line.

Outwardly the situation seemed well in hand. But General Selleck was in serious trouble. His overextended line had been partially penetrated, his reserves had been committed, and his artillery was practically out of action. The Japanese were continuing to press south across the Culo River. Should they attack successfully through the 72d Infantry line, they would gain control of the road and cut off Selleck’s route of escape. Colonel Steel recommended withdrawal and General Selleck informed Parker that he would not be able to hold out without artillery and infantry reinforcements and that a daylight withdrawal might prove disastrous. At 2200 of the 6th, General Parker ordered a withdrawal under cover of darkness.

Although both the American and Japanese commanders had tanks at their disposal neither: had employed them that day. Possibly the Japanese had failed to use armor because there were no bridges over the Culo River. Some of the American tanks had been hit by the Japanese artillery, but not seriously enough to prevent their use. They had not been used to support the attack by the 3d Battalion, 31st Infantry, General Selleck noted caustically, because “the terrain was not considered suitable by the tank commander.”

 At about 1830, when it appeared that the Japanese might cut off the route of escape, Colonel Miller, senior tank commander in the area, had moved the tanks toward the highway. They arrived there about 2100, and were met by General Weaver’s executive with orders for a further withdrawal southward into Bataan.

The tanks were already well on their way when the units on the line received orders to pull back. The 71st Division elements experienced no difficulty in withdrawing down the road. The 31st Infantry, leaving three companies on the line as a covering shell, pulled out about 0130 on the morning of the 7th. An hour later, as the shell began to move out, the Japanese launched an attack against Hermosa, cutting off Company E and almost destroying it. The Japanese reached their objective by 0500, but the survivors of Company E did not rejoin the regiment until a few days later.

The 26th Cavalry, which had not been under attack that day, had lost contact with the 31st Infantry on its right. Radio communication proved inadequate; messages were garbled and, in some cases, indecipherable. The code had been changed during the night and no one had informed the 26th Cavalry. Consequently the Scout regiment was not aware of the order to withdraw during the night. It was not until the approach of daylight that the 26th learned of the withdrawal. It began to pull back at 0700 of the 7th. By this time the Japanese controlled the road as far south as Hermosa and the Scouts were compelled to move overland across the mountainous jungle to reach the American line. With the departure of the 26th Cavalry the Layac line disappeared.

At Layac Junction the American and Philippine troops had paid dearly to secure one day of grace for the forces preparing to defend Bataan. Against the longer range Japanese guns the Americans had been defenseless. The line had been penetrated at the first blow, only to be restored and then abandoned. The Japanese had once more failed in their attempt to follow up their advantage.

Withdrawal into Bataan complete

The withdrawal into Bataan was now complete. Under desperate circumstances and under constant pressure from the enemy, General MacArthur had brought his forces from the north and south to San Fernando and Calumpit. There, in a most difficult maneuver, he had joined the two forces and brought them safely into Bataan, fighting a delaying action all the way. All this had been accomplished in two weeks, during which time positions had been prepared on Bataan and supplies shipped there from Manila and elsewhere. Not a single major unit had been cut off or lost during the withdrawal, and only once, at Cabanatuan, had the American line failed to hold long eough to permit an orderly withdrawal.

The success of this complicated and difficult movement, made with ill-equipped and inadequately trained Filipino troops, is a tribute to the generalship of MacArthur, Wainwright, and Jones and to American leadership on the field of battle.

The withdrawal had been a costly one on both sides. General Wainwright’s North Luzon Force of 28,000 men had been reduced to about 16,000 largely by the desertion of Filipino soldiers who returned to their homes. Only a small portion of the 12,000 men lost were battIe casualties or captured by the enemy. General Jones’s South Luzon Force fared much better. Of the 15,000 men in his force originally, General Jones had 14,000 left when he reached Bataan. The Japanese suffered close to 2,000 casualties during the period since the first landing. This number included 627 killed, 1,282 wounded, and 7 missing.

[Wainwright, General Wainwright’s Story, pp. 45, 48; interv, Falk with Jones, 2 Dec 49. The strengths as given are rough approximations at best. No official figures are available for the campaign or any part of it. “Comments of Former Japanese Officers Regarding The Fall of the Philippines, pp. 50, 124; USA vs. Homma, Defense Exhibit Y. See also the testimony of Colonel Nakajima, who said at the trial of General Homma that there were 4,500 casualties, including 1,300 wounded and 2,700 sick, in the 14th Army thus far. USA vs. Homma, p. 2573, testimony of Nakajima.]

The men who reached Bataan were tired and hungry. Before the fight began again they were accorded a brief rest while the enemy reorganized. To Colonel Collier this interlude seemed but an intermission between the acts of a great tragedy entitled “Defense of the Philippines.” But before the curtain could go up on the second act, certain off-stage arrangements had to be completed. While these did not directly affect the action on-stage, they exerted a powerful influence on the outcome of the drama.

SOURCE: The Fall Of The Philippines by Louis Morton (United States Army Center of Military History)

World War Two: Fall of Philippines (3-14); Occupation of Manila 1941

World War Two: Fall of Philippines (3-12); Road to Bataan