Epic of Ishtar and Izdubar: The King And Seer Conversing (Part 36); Assyrian

(On Their Way To Khasi-Sadra—Interpretation Of The King’s Dream In The Palace On The Night Of The Festival)

“The dream, my seer, which I beheld last night
Within our tent, may bring to us delight.
I saw a mountain summit flash with fire,
That like a royal robe or god’s attire
Illumined all its sides. The omen might
Some joy us bring, for it was shining bright.”
And thus the Sar revealed to him his dream.

Heabani said, “My friend, though it did seem
Propitious, yet, deceptive was it all,
And came in memory of Elam’s fall.

The mountain burning was Khumbaba’s halls
We fired, when all his soldiers from the walls
Had fled;–the “ni-takh-garri”,[1]–on that morn,
Of such deceptive dreams, I would thee warn!”

Some twenty “kaspu” they have passed this day,
At thirty “kaspu” they dismount to pray
And raise an altar, Samas to beseech
That they their journey’s end may safely reach.
The tent now raised, their evening meal prepare
Beneath the forest in the open air;
And Izdubar brought from the tent the dream
He dreamed the festal night when Ishtar came
To him;–he reads it from a written scroll:
“Upon my sight a vision thus did fall:
I saw two men that night beside a god;
One man a turban wore, and fearless trod.

The god reached forth his hand and struck him down
Like mountains hurled on fields of corn, thus prone
He lay; and Izdubar then saw the god
Was Anatu,[2] who struck him to the sod.

The troubler of all men, Samu’s fierce queen,
Thus struck the turbaned man upon the plain.
He ceased his struggling, to his friend thus said:
‘My friend, thou askest not why I am laid
Here naked, nor my low condition heed.
Accursed thus I lie upon the mead;
The god has crushed me, burned my limbs with fire.’

“The vision from mine eyes did then expire.
A third dream came to me, which I yet fear,
The first beyond my sight doth disappear.
A fire-god thundering o’er the earth doth ride;
The door of darkness burning flew aside;
Like a fierce stream of lightning, blazing fire,
Beside me roared the god with fury dire,
And hurled wide death on earth on every side;
And quickly from my sight it thus did glide,
And in its track I saw a palm-tree green
Upon a waste, naught else by me was seen.”

Heabani pondering, thus explained the dream:
“My friend, the god was Samas, who doth gleam
With his bright glory, power, our God and Lord,
Our great Creator King, whose thunders roared
By thee, as through yon sky he takes his way;
For his great favor we should ever pray.

The man thou sawest lying on the plain
Was thee, O King,–to fight such power is vain.
Thus Anatu will strike thee with disease,
Unless thou soon her anger shalt appease;
And if thou warrest with such foes divine,
The fires of death shall o’er thy kingdom shine.

The palm-tree green upon the desert left
Doth show that we of hope are not bereft;
The gods for us their snares have surely weft,[3]
One shall be taken, and the other left.”

[Footnote 1: “Ni-takh-garri,” “the helpers,” or soldiers of Khumbaba.]–[Footnote 2: “Anatu,” the consort of Anu.]–[Footnote 3: “Weft,” weaved.]

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

Epic of Ishtar and Izdubar: Contest With The Dragons In The Mountains (Part 37); Assyrian

Epic of Ishtar and Izdubar: Escape Of Tammuz From Hades (Part 35); Assyrian

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World War Two: Hong Kong; Malaya; Force Z- Naval Actions December 1941-42

On the first day of the East Asian War, the Japanese Navy took three major risk. Disaster in any one of these operations would at least have forced an immediate change in the strategy of the war, and might, at the worst, have produced a terrible debacle. First, in the Pearl Harbor attack, they risked early detection and the possible presence of American carriers nearby, which could have severely damaged Admiral Nagumo’s strike force. They took a second risk, when the launch of the Japanese Navy’s air fleets at Taiwan was delayed by fog, for the USAAFFE could have struck a first and possibly devastating blow against these grounded planes. If this had happened, the Philippine landings would have lacked air cover, would have been met by an intact American air fleet., and American ships in the Philippines and Borneo would have been able to remain in Philippine waters. They took a third risk when the Japanese Army made landings in Malaya (Thailand), protected by a Japanese force inferior in capital-ship fire to what the British had in the battleship Prince of Wales and the battle cruiser Repulse. But again the Japanese were depending on naval air power (land-based this time) to counter and destroy British naval strength. They were throwing the dice for a third time.

Although Great Britain was hard-pressed by conditions in Europe and North Africa, she gathered ships at Singapore and formed them in to Force Z. The Prince of Wales, one of Britain’s newest and most powerful battleships, fresh from participating in the successful hunt for Germany’s Bismarck, had been so dispatched, joined by the Repulse. The remainder of Force Z consisted of the destroyers Electra, Express, Vampire and Tenedos, Force Z’s ships could not depend on the Royal Air Force (RAF), which was pitifully weak in Malaya and which, in the first days of the invasion, would be committed to the defense of the Malayan beachheads; they were supposed to get air support from a first-class carrier, the Indomitable, but that carrier unfortunately had run a ground at Kingston, Jamaica on 3 November, and was not yet repaired.

The Japanese Navy could not depend upon the planes of Admiral Nagumo’s strike force to counter Force Z; but since Yamamoto was committed to the use of planes to destroy warships, he resorted to the use of land-based naval planes at attack Force Z. The Japanese Navy had constructed three airfields in French Indochina in November 1941, and had placed an air fleet there, composed of six reconnaissance planes, thirty-nine fighters, and ninety-nine bomber and torpedo planes– a formidable groups, at the same time, as a backup force, a Japanese fleet was sailing south to engage Force Z in battle in necessary

Malayan Peninsula Landings

The Japanese Army made extensive perpetrations for the conquest of the Malay Peninsula and the capture of Singapore. The major elements in the initial landings were the 15th Army and the 25th Army. The troops had gathered at Samah Bay, Hainan, and embarked on 4 December, carried by nineteen transports. Since war had not been declared, the ultimate destination of the expedition was unknown to the Americans, British, or Dutch. They hoped that an invasion of Thailand was the objective, which was exactly what the Japanese wanted them to believe. The convoy rounded Cape Camao on the 6th of December and changed course toward Bangkok, where it proceeded to point “C” in the Gulf of Sian. Course was again changed on 7 December at 0830 toward Singora and Patani, Thailand.

The initial invasion, however, was made at Kota Bharu, Malaya, from three transports on 8 December, more than an hour before the attack on Pearl Harbor. The landings, again, did not get off to a good start: seas were rough, landing craft capsized, the British army had artillery batteries firing in defense, and there were sporadic British air attacks. The Japanese casualties were moderate. The landing was backed by the Sendai and her destroyers, the Isonami, Uranami, Shikinami, and Ayanami, which delivered covering and counterbattery fire from two miles offshore. Conversely, at Singora, there was no resistance met by the troops disembarking from eleven transports. The operation was covered by the destroyers Asagiri, Amagiri, Sagiri, and Yugiri. (the Sagiri acted as headquarters ships for all invasion points) By midnight all eleven troopships were heading north, thus allowing the destroyer group to reinforce the warships at Kota Bharu. The second beachhead in Thailand was at Patani (sixty-five miles south of Singora); troops from five transports began landing on 8 December, again meeting no resistance. This landing was covered by the destroyers Shinonome and Shirakumo, which then also raced south to Kota Bharu. The Murakumo, who had been off Tepoh, nine miles south of Patani, also joined the other ships, gathered around flagship Sendai. (four other landings were made on 8 December against no resistance, farther north on the Kra Isthmus in Thailand; a transport of troops landed at Prachuab, two transports at Jumbhprn, one transport near Bandon, and three transports near Nakhorn. These landings did not require destroyer support. When British resistance at Kota Bharu crumbled 9 December, the Sendai with eleven destroyers could join the Southern Force heading south, possibly to meet Force Z. Because a considerable portion of the Japanese Army was then ashore in Thailand and Malaya, their lines of supply had to be open, and the destruction of Force Z therefore became an urgent priory.

Force Z

The invasion did not catch the British entirely by surprise; indeed, they had held out little hope that Malaya would be spared. But the locations of the landings did surprise them, for they had expected an invasion farther north, on the narrow Kra Isthmus. The three major beachheads, however, were about halfway between the Kra Isthmus and Singapore. Thailand surrendered on 9 December. From the very first moments of invasion, Japanese sir raids fully occupied the attention of the small Malayan -based Royal Air Force.

The officer commanding Force Z, Admiral Sir Thomas Phillips, faced a dilemma. His air forces on the heavy carrier Indomitable were unavailable, and the hard pressed RAF could promise him no air cover. But, at the same time, British naval tradition would have been violated if the British fleet were to remain at anchor in Singapore while enemy landings were taking place within it’s striking distance. Furthermore, there was always the chance that he might catch loaded or unloading transports at a beachhead. In the end, Phillips had no choice, for, although Force Z sailed from Singapore on 8 December at 1705, the invasions had been carried out too rapidly and too efficiently–Singora and Patani were occupied, the troop transports had been withdrawn, and by the time Force Z could read Kota Bharu, the transports there would also have departed.

With out adequate sir reconnaissance or other reliable information, Admiral Phillips was unaware of these events. All that he knew was that the Japanese were invading to the north–so he sailed north, between the mainland and the Anambra Islands. By 0559 on 9 December he knew Corce Z had been detected, for the destroyer Vampire had seen a Japanese reconnaissance plane. Phillips could expect an air attack, and he knew that he would have little or no air protection. Still hoping, however, to get tat the Singora transports, he took the force north, to a point 150 miles south of French Indochina and 250 miles east of the Malayan Peninsula. From there, his tactical position began to worsen rapidly, and at 1800, Japanese planes were once again spotted. He then turned south, toward Singora; but at 2330, receiving false information that the landings were being made at Kuantan (between Kota Bharu and Singapore), he headed Force Z there at top speed. At day break, when it was still sixty miles from Kuantan, Force Z was again spotted by a Japanese reconnaissance plane. After Admiral Phillips’ own observation planes reported that there were no landings at Kuantan, he then steamed first north and then east, stubbornly searching for Japanese ships. His luck, however, had finally run out, and own 10 December at 1000, Force Z came under concentrated Japanese air attack.

The Japanese Navy for its part, had a healthy respect for the potential threat posed by Force Z’s foray north. Carrier planes from Admiral Ozawa’s Third fleet had spotted an RAF “snooper’ on 6 December, so the Japanese knew that their hugh southward movement had been discovered. Although war had not yet been declared and Admiral Nagumo’s success depended on a surprise attack at Pearl Harbor, Vice Admiral Jisaburo Ozawa nevertheless recklessly ordered his carrier pilots to shoot down any further British reconnaissance planes.

To counter Force Z, the Japanese had Vice Admiral Nobutake Knodo’s Malay Force. When, at 1315 on 9 December, the submarine I-65 sighted the northbound Force Z, south of Poulo Condore Island, Admiral Kondo ordered all transports to return to the Gulf of Siam and ordered his air fleet in French Indochina to begin showing the British force. (Submarine I-58 also tracked Force Z) Kondo ordered his own warships to close on the British to offer battle. First his heavy cruisers, the Mogami, Mikuma, Suzuya and Kumano, screened by destroyers Fubuki, Hatsuyuki, Shirayuki and by the Sendai and her destroyers, would launch a night attack if Force Z were discovered. Meanwhile, Kondo would bring up his two battleships, the Haruna and Kongo, and the heavy cruiser Atago, Takao, and Chokai, and all ships would then launch a daylight attack. Admiral Kondo was kept informed of the location of Force Z by the Kumano’s floatplane, and by reports from submarines. The surface engagement never took place, but Force Z, with its larger naval rifles, could certainly have given a worthy account of itself.

The Japanese bases in Indochina were also kept informed of the various courses taken by Force Z. On 9 December observation and attack units were sent out, but they found nothing. During the night, however, it was concluded that an air attack on Force Z, early on 10 December, would be possible, and at 0220, five Japanese planes left Camranh Bay, refueling at Poulo Condore Island and taking off again at 0430. From Saigon a nine plane formation was sent out at 0525 to search a 40 degree arc up to 600 miles. Also from Saigon’s airfields, from 0614 to 0730, thirty-four bombers and fifty torpedo planes took off. When Force Z was sighted at 1120, the location was passed to all units in the air.

Although the Japanese planes were almost at the limit of their fuel supply, they made an attack, beginning at 1148, with eighty-four planes taking part in the assault. Despite heavy antiaircraft fire the five ships of Force Z (destroyer Tenedos had been ordered back to Singapore at 1805 on 9 December), the Repulse received ten torpedo hits on her port side, almost evenly spaced from bow to stern, four forward on the starboard side, and a 550-pound bomb amidships. Unable to withstand such a pounding, she sank at 1203. The Prince of Wales received one torpedo forward, one aft on her port side, and five evenly spaced along the starboard side. She was hit twice aft by 1,100-pound bombs, was damaged in her starboard quarter by a near miss and finally sank at 1250. No British destroyers were sunk, but the Tenedos underwent a thirty-minute air attack during the morning of 10 December. In all, three Japanese planes had been shot down, and twenty-eight of the returning planes had been damaged.

Force Z had been crushed, and British power to defend Malaya at sea had been destroyed, without any intervention by Admiral Kondo’s surface fleet. Most remaining British naval units either went south to the Netherlands East Indies or retired to their Indian Ocean bases. The lack of British warships or planes gave the Japan freedom of the sea; thus the Japanese Army could by pass strong British land positions by using barges for transports. The Japanese had taken the state of Penang on the west coast by overland march on December the 19th. The Malay Force could then be released for the successful invasion of Borneo, which ere taking place at the same time.

The last effort of the Royal Navy to intervene in the rapid advance on Singapore came at Endau, a small town on the east side of the Malay Peninsula. If the Japanese could come ashore in sufficient strenght at Mersing, a few miles to the south of Endau, a considerable portion of the British’s army strenght would be cut off from Singapore, 100 miles to the south. The Japanese Army, believing that the defenses at Mersing would be formidable, by passed it in favor of Endau, which was invaded and captured on 21 January, 1942–but not in enough strength to break through the British Sungei-Mersing barrier. British Command at Singapore fully expected that the Japanese effort at Endau would soon be strengthened by a large convoy, a suspicion confirmed on 26 January when at 0715, a large armada was sighted by plane, 20 miles north of Endau. Some of the group were headed for the invasion of the Anambas Islands; others served as a cover force for both operations. The RAF threw many of its operational planes into a counterattack, flyingfrom Sumatra and Singapore. (ther had been some crated RAF planes on Singapore’s piers) By the time the air attacks could begin, the beachhead had been widened. Despite heavy antiaircraft fire and fighter-plane opposition by the Japanese, their transports, fuel dumps, and landing troops were bombed. The attacks continued until dark, with the British losing half their number of attacking planes.

The royal Navy then took up the task of breaking up the Endau landing by sending north of Singapore two old destroyers built during World war I: the Vampire and Thanet. The Vampire had only six torpedoes, and the Thanet , four. The Japanese overestimated the actual British strength, for the departure of the two destroyers was reported by Japanese naval intelligence as a departure of two cruisers. Moreover, the British submarines were reported to be in the area. Therefore, a relatively large attack group, made up of the light cruiser Sendai and the destroyers Fubuki, Hatsuyuki, Shirayuki, Yugiri,and Amagiri, was sent to intercept the British ships.

There ensued ab unequal but fierce little sea battle off Endau, in the darkness of early 27 January. In the exchange of gunfire and torpedoes, the Thanet was hit several times, she was then illuminated by the Shirayuki’s searchlights, and the Amagiri and Hatsuyuki finished her off at 0348. Fifty-seven of her sailors were rescued and became prisoners of war. The Vampire retired under smoke and returned to Singapore.

The end of the Malayan campaign was near, and thousands of people, including important officials, began to flee Singapore through the Malacca and Bangka straits, bound for Sumatra, Java or even Australia, using anything that would float. Few ships found any refuge, though. Admiral Ozawa’s Mobile Force, in the course of three days sank more than forty ships, with gunfire and bombs.

With South Sumatra, Borneo, and the Celebs in Japanese hands by the fall of Singapore, the Malaya boundary of the Netherlands East Indies had been broken. The surprisingly rapid capture of the Malayan Peninsula, in a little more than two months of war against major powers, caused the Japanese “Victory Fever” to shoot up several degrees.

Japanese losses were minimal in the Malayan campaign. An Australian bomber sank a Japanese transport in the Gulf of Siam. A Dutch submarine, O-XVI, attacked four loaded transports of Patani on 11 December but failed to sink any of them, and was herself lost when she hit a British Mine. Another Dutch submarine sank a loaded transport, while the submarine USS Swordfish sank an 8,600 toon Japanese merchant ship of Hainan on 16 December.

Hong Kong

Because the main assault on Hong Kong was overland by Japanese Troops, the Navy’s role in the city’s capture was slight. The light cruiser Isuzu of the Second china Expeditionary Fleet and two destroyers, the Ikazuchi and Inazuma, in the initial phase of the attack upon the Crown Colony, sank the gunboats HMS Cicada and HMS Robin and a number of junks of British registry, and captured enemy merchant ships in the harbor. They did not, however, assist the Army to any appreciable degree.

SOURCE: Battle History of the Imperial Japanese Navy 1941-45; BY: Paul S. Dull

 

 

 

World War Two: Fall of Philippines; Bataan (4-25); Disintegration of II Corps; 7-8 April 1942

The story of the last two days of the defense of Bataan is one of progressive disintegration and final collapse. Lines were formed and abandoned before they could be fully occupied. Communications broke down and higher headquarters often did not know the situation on the front lines. Orders were issued and revoked because they were impossible of execution. Stragglers poured to the rear in increasingly large numbers until they clogged all roads and disrupted all movement forward. Units disappeared into the jungle never to be heard from again. In two days an army evaporated into thin air.

7 April: Disintegration

Action on the 7th opened with an attempt to wrest from the Japanese control of Trail Junction 6-8. This was to be accomplished by simultaneous attacks against the junction from the east and west, along Trail 8. The attack from the east was to be made by a force led by Colonel Lilly and consisting of two battalions of the 57th Infantry, plus the 201st and 202nd Engineer Battalions (PA) from corps reserve. The 45th Infantry and Company C, 194th Tank Battalion, were to drive east from Trail Junction 8-29 to meet Colonel Lilly. When contact was established between the two forces, the II Corps line would extend from the San Vicente River westward along Trail 8 to the Pantingan and tie in with I Corps, thus presenting a bent but unbroken line to the advancing Japanese.

The 45th Infantry’s plan for the attack against the trail junction was a cautious one. Of the regiment’s two battalions only one, the 2nd, reinforced with a platoon of two tanks, was to attack. The 3rd Battalion and the rest of the tank company would remain at Trail Junction 8-28, where General Lough had his command post, to prevent the Japanese on Trail 29 from cutting off the route of withdrawal. If the 2nd Battalion’s attack proved successful, the 3rd Battalion would move forward later.

General Nara’s troops at the trail junction were well prepared for the 45th Infantry’s attack. Just west of the junction they had established a strong defensive position, ideal for an ambush. South of the trail was a steep, thickly forested hill; to the north the ground dropped sharply to a deep, rocky ravine. The trail itself bent sharply at this point so that advancing troops, limited to the trail by the terrain on both sides. Would have no warning of an attack.

At about 0100, 7 April, the reinforced 2nd Battalion moved out in column of companies, with battalion and regimental headquarters bringing up the rear. In the van were the two tanks and a platoon of Company F. The Scouts and tankers, in almost continuous action since the night of the 5th, trudged along uncomplainingly in the darkness. An hour and a half after the first elements moved out, the point of the column reached the bend in the trail and marched unsuspectingly into the ambush. At almost the same moment that the Scouts sighted the roadblock, the Japanese opened fire and knocked out the lead tank. The second tank escaped with slight damage, but a jeep carrying six officers was destroyed, the driver and two riders killed, and three others wounded. Within a short time the infantry had formed a line and were laying down a heavy concentration of fire on the Japanese roadblock.

At the first burst of fire Colonel Doyle had gone forward to the head of the column to take command. The situation was confused and the units disorganized, but Doyle kept his men in action until the coming of daylight, when it became evident that there was no possibility of breaking through to the trail junction. At that time he ordered his troops to withdraw to the Pantingan River. Under cover of heavy machine gun fire, the battalion and the remaining tank turned around and began their weary march back along Trail 8, past their starting point, Trail Junction 8-29, and on to the Pantingan River. By about 1000 the withdrawal of the 2nd Battalion was completed. The 3rd Battalion and the remainder of the tanks, which had been under pressure from the Japanese advancing down Trail 129, had to fight their way out. Enemy infantrymen tried to cut off their retreat, but the tankers fought a successful delaying action and at 1800 the last of the 3rd Battalion reached the river.

The inability of the 45th Infantry to break the Japanese hold on Trail Junction 6-8 ended all hopes of uniting the separated elements of Sector D and General King attached General Lough’s headquarters, the 45th Infantry, and the remaining troops of Sector D still west of the trail junction to I Corps. These troops thereupon crossed the Pantingan and established a defensive line along its west bank. The 41st Infantry to the north was also ordered across the river that day and completed the maneuver without interference.

The scheduled attack of the 1st and 2nd Battalions, 57th Infantry, was never made. The Japanese maintained steady pressure against these battalions whose left ( west) flank was unprotected and before the day was far advanced had worked around that flank. At the same time another Japanese force, consisting of elements of Colonel Sato’s 61st Infantry, moved into the gap between the southern extremity of the San Vicente line and the 57th Infantry. This space was to have been filled by the 201st and 202nd Engineer Battalions who were just moving in when the Japanese struck. The Filipinos promptly turned and fled into the jungle when they found themselves in the midst of the Japanese. With both flanks in danger of envelopment, the Scouts, at 1700, were forced to pull back to the east. The use of Trail 8 was now lost to the Americans.

The 33rd Infantry (PA), the only unit remaining west of Mt. Samat, met a disastrous end on the 7th. Isolated by the tide of battle and presumed lost, the regiment had spent the night of 6-7 April preparing for an attack that was inevitable now that its position had been discovered by the enemy. At 0600, after an hour-long mortar preparation, the Japanese infantry began the assault The Filipinos held up well at first but by midafternoon began to break. Once the reaction had set in, the regiment quickly became demoralized. The men, overwrought and jumpy after five days of intense mental strain and physical hardship, became panic stricken and fled into the jungle. Major Holmes, their commander, reluctantly issued orders for a withdrawal. The wounded remained in place with the medical officers to surrender. The rest of the men, singly and in small groups, slipped into the jungle to try to make their way back to safety. Few succeeded.

While the 65th Brigade and the 61st Infantry were consolidating their hold on the area formerly occupied by Sector D, the 4th Division and the Nagano Detachment, aided by artillery and air power, were reducing the recently established San Vicente River line. Signs of the disintegration of the units posted along the river were apparent almost as soon as the demoralized troops took their new positions. During the night of 6-7 April, even before the Japanese artillery had opened fire, large groups of soldiers began to move back to the rear. Some were stopped and put back into the line, but panic was spreading and the ominous signs of demoralization were too clear to be ignored. At dawn the Japanese artillery opened up with a repetition of the terrific bombardment that had preceded every attack since the 3rd, and Japanese aircraft appeared overhead. During the day the bombers flew 169 sorties and dropped approximately 100 tons of explosives on II Corps installations alone.

At least ten bombs fell on General Hospital No. 2 at Little Baguio which had been hit a week earlier. One ward was demolished, extensive damage caused to other buildings, and 73 men killed. Of the 117 injured, 16 died later. When the attack was over, the hospital area was covered with debris and fallen trees. The pharmacy was hit- and most of the drugs destroyed. Kitchen utensils were strewn over the grounds and the hospital records blew about like confetti. Under the wreckage were the mangled bodies of patients, and “the air was rent by the awful screams of the newly wounded and the dying.”

The Japanese infantry and armor moved out on the heels of the artillery preparation, hitting the Filipino troops before they could recover from the effect of the shelling. First to cross the San Vicente was the Nagano Detachment which, at 0730, struck the 32nd Infantry on the right of Sector C, then turned east along the Orion cutoff to strike the Provisional Air Corps Regiment in Sector B. Supported by tanks, Nagano’s men advanced rapidly into the area held by the grounded airmen who, lacking antitank weapons to oppose the armored point of the attack, fell back without a fight. The 31st Infantry (PA) in Sector A-not to be confused with the American 31st Infantry on the left of the San Vicente line-withdrew in disorder after a heavy air and artillery attack, leaving to the Japanese the last remaining portion of II Corps’ original main line of resistance.

Even before the Japanese ground forces attacked, the Sector C line had begun to crumble. The first unit to break under the impact of the air·artillery bombardment was the 51st Combat Team. It was followed soon by the 32nd Infantry (PA) and other elements of General Bluemel’s 31st Division which had fled at the appearance of Nagano’s troops. Soon a disorganized mass of Filipino troops, many without arms, uniforms, or equipment, began to stream to the rear. When General Bluemel, rifle in hand, attempted to place some stragglers in the line, they bolted at the first sign of an enemy air-artillery attack. “It seemed,” wrote Colonel Young, the 51st Combat Team commander, “that whenever a stand of any kind was made, low flying airplanes bombed or fired on the troops.”

The American and Scout units holding the left (south) half of the San Vicente line fared little better than the Philippine Army troops. They held firm under the heavy bombardment which began at 0700, but at about 1030, when Colonel Morita’s 8th Infantry, 4th Division, crossed the San Vincente, they, too, began to fall back. By noon Colonel Brady had ordered his 31st Infantry (US) to withdraw by battalions and to reassemble near the intersection of Trails 2 and 46, about 2,000 yards to the southeast. Though the 3rd Battalion, 57th Infantry, on the left of the line, had not yet come under attack, its position was now untenable and it began to withdraw. Its orders were to fall back to Trail 46 and to take up a position on the left of the 31st Infantry. By early afternoon the San Vicente line had evaporated.

The withdrawal of the 31st and 3rd Battalion, 57th, was a difficult one. With the Japanese in control of Trail 44 and a portion of Trail 2, the men had to travel cross-country to reach their new position. Many were wounded and all were weak from lack of food and sleep. Units, already partially disorganized, became further disorganized so that it was almost impossible to maintain contact. Before long, the line of march became a line of stragglers in which “it was almost every man for himself.”

Late on the afternoon of the 6th General King had taken the 26th Cavalry (PA) from I Corps reserve and ordered it to Trail Junction 2-10. By morning of the 7th the horseless cavalrymen were in position at that trail junction, only a short distance in front of the Mamala River and about one mile behind Trail 46, the destination of the last two elements to evacuate the San Vicente line. During the morning, when the disintegration of that line had already become evident, General King released the cavalry regiment, together with the 803rd Engineer Battalion (US) and the 14th 6 Trail 46 extended about five miles in a northeasterly direction from Trail Junction 8-44, across Trails 2 and 38, to join the East Road about a half mile south of Orion.

Engineer Battalion (PS), to the II Corps commander, who by now had decided to establish the next line at the Mamala River. Parker thereupon directed the 26th Cavalry commander, Colonel Lee C. Vance, to report to General Bluemel, who was now the only general officer on the front line. While the cavalrymen moved up to Trail Junction 2-46, Major William E. Chandler, the regimental S-2 and S-3, walked ahead to find General Bluemel whose exact where abouts was unknown. About 1,000 yards north of the junction he met the general, who “cheered up a bit” on learning of the presence of the 26th Cavalry. Bluemel and Chandler then traveled together to the cavalry command post where the general ordered the regiment to establish a holding position behind which he could form a line along the Mamala.

Colonel Vance quickly deployed his men in two lines. In front, on a hill at Trail Junction 2-46, was the 2nd Squadron; the 1st held a delaying position some distance to the rear, just north of Trail Junction 2-10. During the afternoon elements of the 31st Infantry (US) and the 3rd Battalion, 57th Infantry (PS), straggled through the cavaIry line and were directed to an assembly area on the south bank of the Mamala River, at Trail 2. Not long after, the 2nd Squadron of the 26th Cavalry, at Trail Junction 2-46, was hit by Colonel Morita’s 8th Infantry which was moving rapidly along Trail 2.

Unable to rout the cavalrymen by a frontal assault, Morita sent his men around the flanks, forcing the Filipinos back through the 1st Squadron to Trail Junction 2-10. As soon as this maneuver was completed, the 1st Squadron began to fall back, past the trail junction, toward the Mamala River. At that moment the Japanese artillery opened up and “a storm of interdiction fire fell on the junction.” Simultaneously, planes of the 16th Light Bombardment Regiment dive-bombed the men and vehicles on the trail. Losses, especially in the 1st Squadron, were heavy, and it was late afternoon before the decimated regiment crossed the Mamala River.

General Bluemel had spent the afternoon assembling his forces along the south bank of the river. In addition to the cavalry regiment he now had the remnants of 31st and 57th Infantry, and the 14th and 803rd Engineer Battalions. None of his men had eaten since breakfast, and many of them had had their last meal on the morning of the 6th. He had few vehicles and almost no heavy weapons. The prospects of holding off a determined Japanese attack with these troops were not bright.

Around dusk, when he began to receive artillery fire and when Japanese troops were observed working their way forward, firing sporadically, General Bluemel decided “that the Mamala River line could not be held.” Actually, the Japanese had not yet crossed the river. Forward elements of the 4th Division had reached the north bank, but the Nagano Detachment was still north of Trail 46. Since the high bluffs on the north bank “completely commanded” the line on the south shore, it is doubtful if the position would have been tenable in any event. Hoping to gain twenty-four hours to rest and feed his men and prepare a stronger position, Bluemel ordered a withdrawal to the Alangan River, 4,000 yards to the south. The men were to break off all contact with the enemy, withdraw under cover of darkness, and be in position by dawn of 8 April. There he hoped to have time to prepare for a fresh Japanese attack. Corps headquarters approved this plan and at Bluemel’s request ordered the retreating troops of Sectors A and B to fall in on Bluemel’s right the next morning.

During the day both Wainwright and King had sought desperately to find some way to stem the Japanese advance. While Bluemel was striving to establish a line at the Mamala, General King had decided “to place everything possible” there.

Since all his reserves as well as the reserves of both corps had already been committed, he took a desperate chance that the Japanese would not attempt to land behind the lines and ordered Jones and Parker to withdraw the troops on beach defense-the 1st and 4th Philippine Constabulary Regiments-and throw them into the line then forming. To General Wainwright he sent word by his chief of staff, Brigadier General Arnold J. Funk, that the situation on Bataan was critical. Wainwright’s scheme for retrieving the situation was to launch an attack eastward from I Corps along the general line of Trail 8. He hoped in this way to tie in I Corps with the troops along the Mamala River and again form an unbroken line across the peninsula.

Unaware that the Mamala line was already being evacuated and that II Corps had so far deteriorated that even if the attack succeeded the I Corps troops would find no line to tie into, General Wainwright ordered the attack at 1600. The 11th Division (PA) would make the assault. On receipt of this order, General King sent his G-3, Colonel James V. Collier, to I Corps headquarters to transmit the order orany. When General Jones received the order he expressed his belief that it was impossible of execution. In his opinion the men of the 11th Division were too weak to cross the Pantingan gorge even if unopposed; certainly they would be unable to drag any heavy equipment or artillery with them. Furthermore, Jones told Collier, at least eighteen hours would be required to get the division out of the line and in position to attack. After telephone conversations between Wainwright, King, and Jones, the USFIP commander decided to leave the execution of his order to General King’s discretion.

The decision was now King’s. On the basis of Jones’s estimate, he withheld the order to attack. Instead, he directed Jones to pull back to the line of the Binuangan River, about five miles south of the main line of resistance, in four phases. This move would place I Corps’ right flank, exposed by the withdrawal of II Corps, on the slopes of the Mariveles Mountains, and reduce substantially the lightly defended beach line. That night General Wainwright could report to Washington only a succession of retreats. Continued heavy enemy pressure, constant bombing, strafing, and shelling of front line units [he wrote] forced all elements of the right half of our line in Bataan to fall back. A new defensive position is forming on the high ground south of the Alangan River. . . . The left half of our line, due to an exposed flank, withdrew on orders and is taking up a defense position south of the Binuangan River. Fighting is intense, casualties on both sides heavy.

For the Japanese, the offensive which General Homma had expected to last a month was all but won by the night of the 7th. They had gained possession of the entire main line of resistance in II Corps, and forced the evacuation of the Mamala River line where they had supposed the Americans and Filipinos had their main defenses. “That,” remarked General Homma, “was beyond our expectation.”

The cost had been light. The 4th Division, the spearhead of the assault, had lost 150 men killed and 250 wounded during a rapid advance which had netted about 1,000 prisoners and a large number of small caliber weapons. Losses in the 65th Brigade, which captured over 100 prisoners and considerable equipment, totaled 77 dead and 152 wounded. The Nagano Detachment had suffered no casualties.

With the Americans and Filipinos in full retreat, General Homma decided to push on “without delay” instead of pausing at the Mamala River as he had originally planned. His next objective, he decided, would be Cabcaben on the southeast tip of the peninsula, and at 2300 he issued orders for the next day’s attack. The 4th Division would strike for the Real River west of Cabcaben. The 65th Brigade to its west would occupy Mt. Limay and the heights of Mariveles, and the Nagano Detac hment would advance down the East Road on the left (east) of the division toward Cabcaben itself. The 16th Division, then assembling near Balanga where Homma had his headquarters, was to advance behind Nagano’s troops and prepare for the final thrust toward Mariveles.

As before, the attacking units would have the support of 14th Army artillery and the 22nd Air Brigade. For the first time the artillery commander received orders to open fire on Corregidor when he got within range of the island fortress.

8 April: Chaos

Orders for the establishment of a line along the south bank of the Alangan River called for a withdrawal during the night of 7-8 April by the forces under General Bluemel and Colonel John W. Irwin, and the occupation of the new position by dawn of the 8th. The units under Bluemel-the 31st Infantry (US), the 57th Infantry (PS), the 26th Cavalry (PS), the 803rd Engineer Battalion (US), and the 14th Engineer Battalion (PS ) -were to hold the left (west) of the line, from Trail 20 to the confluence of the Alangan and the Paalungan River, a distance of about 2,500 yards. Colonel Irwin’s force, consisting of the 31st Infantry (PA) and Constabulary troops taken from beach defense; was to hold the right portion of-the line and block the East Road. Artillery support would be provided by the intact 21st Field Artillery (PA), a Provisional Field Artillery Brigade formed from three battalions of Scouts, a few fixed naval guns, and the three remaining 155-mm. guns of Colonel Alexander S. Quintard’s 301st Field Artillery (PA).

[Trail 20 extended for about eight miles in an arc from Limay southward to Lamao. It crossed the Alangan, which is midway between the two villages, about two and a half miles from the coast. The Paalungan River joins the Alangan about one and a half miles east of Trail 2 and the two then £low east as one stream to empty into Manila Bay.]

The positions taken by the troops on the morning of the 8th did not conform to plan. In the confusion of the withdrawal, units crossed and took up positions some distance from those assigned. The American 31st and the Scout 57th Infantry, for example, had to exchange positions. The 803rd Engineer Battalion did not occupy its position at all but continued south after it crossed the river. Only the 14th Engineers and the 26th Cavalry went into their assigned positions.

The engineers took over the left of the line astride Trail 20, and -the cavalrymen fell in on their right (east). From there·eastward there were large gaps in the line. Between the cavalry regiment and the 31st Infantry (US) was an open space of over 1,000 yards. To the right of the Americans was another gap, and the 57th Infantry, Bluemel’s right flank unit, had both its flanks exposed. The unauthorized withdrawal of the 803rd Engineers had made the establishment of contact between Bluemel and Irwin a physical impossibility.

All units on the line were so decimated as to make their designations meaningless. The 31st Infantry (US) had but 160 men; the 26th Cavalry, 300; the 57th Infantry, 500. Altogether Bluemel had 1,360 men in the three regiments and one battalion under his command. Irwin’s force of two regiments numbered but 1,200 men. All the troops were half starved and exhausted. “We were all so tired,” wrote one officer, “that the only way to stay awake was to remain standing. As soon as a man sat or laid down he would go to sleep.” After five days under intense air and artillery bombardment and successive defeats, it was doubtful if the men “cared very much what happened.”

Even before the Japanese infantry struck the· Alangan line it was already crumbling under heavy and sustained air bombardment lasting most of the morning. Japanese observation planes had spotted the troops hastily organizing their positions and at about 1100 fighters and light bombers appeared over the Alangan. Flying low, they dropped incendiary bombs on the area held by the 31st Infantry (US) and the 57th Infantry, setting fire to the dry cogon grass and bamboo thickets. The infantrymen turned fire fighters to avoid being burned out of their positions.

Farther east Colonel Irwin’s 31st Infantry (PA) along the East Road came under heavy air attack about the same time. The Filipinos, who were digging their foxholes when the planes came over, fled for cover and had to be rounded up after the planes had passed. When the bombers came back again, the men again threw down their entrenching tools and fled, and again they had to be brought back. With each successive attack, the number of men on the line, some of them forced into position at pistol point, became fewer. The Constabulary troops east of the 31st Infantry also fled, and by about 1500, before a single Japanese soldier had appeared, Colonel Irwin’s portion of the line was entirely deserted.

Enemy planes did not limit their attacks that morning to the men along the Alangan River. They struck at artillery positions, supply points, troops, and vehicles. The most profitable targets were the trails, clogged with dazed and weakened men stumbling to the rear. A Japanese pilot could hardly miss on a strafing run over this uninterrupted line of disorganized troops, and the ditches along the trails were lined with the dead and wounded.

The Japanese infantry reached the Alangan River at about 1400, when advance patrols appeared in front of the 57th Infantry. Before long the enemy infantrymen found the exposed right flank and began to filter to the rear of the Scouts. At about the same time other small groups of Japanese struck the 31st Infantry (US) to the west. The Americans, reduced to less than company strength, were forced to fall back at 1700, and the 57th, with both its flanks exposed, followed suit.

The main Japanese effort that afternoon was made against the 14th Engineer Battalion and the 26th Cavalry by a force consisting of the 8th Infantry and the 7th Tank Regiment. The tanks, advancing along Trail 20, reached the engineers shortly after 1600, but were stopped in their tracks at the block the Scouts had established.

The tanks could not turn on the narrow trail, and the crewmen were kept inside by small-arms fire from the engineers. Without the help of infantry, the Japanese tanks became, in effect, pillboxes from which the tankers fired their small arms, machine guns, and 47-mm. guns without visible effect on the block. The engineers, though they had the tanks at their mercy, lacked the antitank guns to knock them out.

To the right (east) of the roadblock, the 26th Cavalry had come under attack from the 8th Infantry whose advance elements had forced back the 31st and 57th. The Japanese worked their way around the hastily refused right flank of the cavalrymen, threatening to take them from the rear. By late afternoon it appeared doubtful if the 26th Cavalry, which was now under fire from the tanks at the block, would be able to maintain its position.

About this time, General Bluemel, whose only communication with the front-line units was by runner, learned that the 31st and 57th Infantry were falling back. “To hold the Alangan River line,” he concluded, “was now an impossibility.” Reluctantly he gave the order for the 14th Engineer Battalion and the 26th Cavalry to. withdraw, and at 1830, as darkness settled over the battlefield, the men began to fall back again. That evening, the main force of the 4th Division crossed the river and pushed on toward Cabcaben.

The advance of the Nagano Detachment along the East Road met with little resistance. By 1700 Nagano’s troops were on the river line and ready to move on behind the rapidly retreating Philippine Army and Constabulary troops. Only the tanks and the remaining 75-mm. guns (SPM) stood in the way of the advancing Japanese. But the effectiveness of the armor and self-propelled 75’s was severely limited by the absence of infantry support and their inability to move freely along the crowded trails. Though they made every effort to organize a holding position they, too, were forced to pull back. The East Road, which the Japanese had carefully avoided since their disastrous assault early in January, now lay open.

The situation everywhere along the front was obscure. With troops jamming all roads and with communications so uncertain as to be nonexistent, even front-line commanders did not know where their units were at any given moment. Higher headquarters, forced to rely on runners and the armored group radio net for information, were even less informed than the unit commanders. It was not until 1800, for example, that General King learned that the Alangan line had been penetrated on the east. By that time the two Japanese columns-the Nagano Detachment and the 4th Division-were already south of the river and pushing forward rapidly along the East Road and Trail 20.

[Of Material on the action of the tanks and SPM’s during the last days of the campaign is scanty and vague. This account is based upon: Capt L. E. Johnson, 194th Tank Bn, 5-3 Rpt, 14 Sep 43, in Diary of Lieutenant Colonel E. B. Miller, CO 194th Tank Bn; Prov Tank Gp Rpt of Opns, p. 24; Bluemel, 31st Div (PA) Rpt of Opns, pp. 30-31. The Japanese aircraft were under orders to pay particular attention to vehicular movements. 5th Air Gp Opns, pp.74-75.]

To Luzon Force headquarters, the chief threat seemed to be developing along the East Road, which provided the enemy clear passage to Mariveles. With the tanks and 75-mm. guns (SPM) in retreat and already nearing Cabcaben and with his last reserves committed, General King attempted to form a line with the only organized unit remaining, the Provisional Coast Artillery Brigade (AA). At about 1900 he directed Colonel Charles G. Sage, the brigade commander, to destroy all his antiaircraft weapons except those which could be used by infantry and to form his men along the high ground just north of Cabcaben. At the same time he released the 1st Philippine Constabulary, then in transit from I Corps, to II Corps and ordered it into position on the left of the brigade.

While the artillerymen were attempting to establish a line at Cabcaben, Bluemel’s scattered force was nearing the Lamao River. The retreat from the Alangan had been a difficult one. The men of the 31st Infantry (US) and the 57th Infantry had been forced to fall back through the jungle and by now were in the last stages of exhaustion. The 14th Engineer Battalion and the 26th Cavalry, which had withdrawn along Route 20, had found the march less trying, but had suffered other mishaps, and one element of the 26th Cavalry, covering the withdrawal, had been lost in the jungle and never again joined the regiment.

[The brigade had been formed on 7 April from Groupment A and consisted of the 200th Coast Artillery (AA) and the 515th Coast Artillery (AA), both composed of Americans. The former was a New Mexico National Guard unit and had provided the personnel for the latter when it was organized just after the start of war. Prov CA Brig (AA) Rpt of Opns, Annex IX, USAFFE-USFIP Rpt of Opns.]

It was about 2130 when General Bluemel and the last of the covering force reached the Lamao. At that time he received telephone orders from General Parker to form a line along the Lamao River and within the hour he had his men across the river and in an assembly area.30 But the establishment of a line was not so easily accomplished. None of the officers knew the area and the moonless night made it difficult to find defensible positions along which to deploy the troops. After a discouraging reconnaissance in the darkness Bluemel, who by now was using the 26th Cavalry staff as his own, concluded that a line behind the Lamao “was not feasible.”

Unable to reach either corps or Luzon Force headquarters, he finally turned for aid to General Wainwright, who could only advise him to use his own judgment. Even without precise information on Bluemel’s situation it was already evident to General King that II Corps had disintegrated. Reports from officer patrols and from the tanks and the self-propelled 75’s clearly reflected the chaotic state of the command.

There was no chance that the 1st Philippine Constabulary would reach Colonel Sage before daylight, and little possibility that any of the retreating troops could be organized in time to be placed on the line Sage was trying to establish near Cabcaben. Nevertheless orders were issued directing the 26th Cavalry to fall in on the right of Provisional Coast Artillery Brigade. The cavalrymen evidently did not receive these orders and when the artillerymen, a half hour before midnight, occupied the last remaining line, they stood alone.

At 2330, when his position was already hopeless, General King received fresh orders from Corregidor directing him to launch an offensive with I Corps northward toward Olongapo, the Japanese base at the head of Subic Bay. In issuing these orders Wainwright was merely carrying out his own orders from General MacArthur, who, on 4 April, had instructed him to “prepare and execute an attack upon the enemy along the following general lines,” when the situation became desperate.

  1. A feint by I Corps in the form of an “ostentatious” artillery preparation.
  2. A “sudden surprise attack” by II Corps toward the Dinalupihan-Olongapo Road at the base of the peninsula, made with “full tank strength” and “maximum artillery concentration.”
  3. Seizure of OIongapo by simultaneous action of both corps, I Corps making a frontal attack and II Corps taking the enemy “in reverse” by an attack from the west, along the Dinalupihan-Olongapo Road.

 

If successful,” MacArthur explained, “the supplies seized at this base might well rectify the situation. This would permit operation in central Luzon where food supplies could be obtained and where Bataan and the northern approaches to Corregidor could be protected.” Even if the attack did not succeed, many of the men would be able to escape from Bataan and continue to fight as guerrillas.

Even before he issued the orders for an attack, Wainwright already knew it was impossible of execution. Earlier that day he had notified the War Department that the withdrawal of both corps had become necessary because of the weakness of the troops who had subsisted for so long on one-half to one-third rations. Even the best of his regiments, he said, “were capable of only a short advance before they were completely exhausted.”

In his message to MacArthur he had given clear warning that the end was near. The tactical situation, he explained, was fast deteriorating and the men were so weakened by hunger and disease that they had “no power of resistance” left. “It is with deep regret,” he had written, “that I am forced to report that the troops on Bataan are fast folding up.” When he received no change in orders, he had no recourse but to direct General King to launch the attack toward Olongapo.

The attack order was received at Luzon Force headquarters during the height of confusion and chaos caused by the disintegration of II Corps. Except for a single issue of half rations, the food stocks on Bataan had been exhausted. Already the depot commanders were standing by for orders to destroy their equipment and the Chemical Warfare Service was dumping its chemicals into Manila Bay. At Mariveles the Navy had begun demolitions an hour before and the flames were already lighting up the sky. Nevertheless General King put in a call to the I Corps commander and explained that he had received orders to launch an attack immediately. General Jones replied that his corps was in the midst of a withdrawal to the Binuangan River, ordered the night before. Moreover, he declared, the physical condition of his troops was such that an attack under any condition was impossible. General King accepted this estimate without question and with it the responsibility for refusing to transmit to Jones an order which he knew could not be executed. Apparently he did not inform General Wainwright of this decision.

As the precious hours went by and no word reached Corregidor about the attack, General Wainwright had his chief of staff, General Beebe, telephone directly to General Jones to ask if he had received the order. When Jones replied that the order had not been transmitted, Beebe told him that he would probably receive instructions to attack shortly. General King soon learned of Beebe’s call and at three o’clock in the morning, 9 April, he telephoned USFIP at Corregidor to inquire if I Corps had been removed from his command. Through his chief of staff who took the call, Wainwright assured the Luzon Force commander that he was still in command of all the forces on Bataan. There was no further discussion of the attack order, but Wainwright apparently still believed that an effort would be made to carry it out. This telephone call at 0300 of the 9th was the last conversation Wainwright had with King. Already two emissaries had gone forward with a white flag to meet the Japanese commander.

[Wainwright, General Wainwright’s Story, pp. 81-82; USAFFE-USFIP Rpt of Opns, p. 61. Colonel Alexander, who was in King’s command post that night, confirms this telephone conversation. King, he says, declared, “I want a definite answer as to whether or not General Jones will be left in my command regardless of what action I may take.” Alexander, Personal Recollections of Bataan, pp. 123-24.]

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

World War Two: Fall of Philippines; Bataan (4-26); Surrender

World War Two: Bataan (4-24); Final Japanese Offensive 3-6 April 1942

World News Headlines: 01-06-2019

GERMANY (DW)

Brazil troops deployed to stop gang attack violence; A special deployment of Brazil’s elite National Police Force has begun patrolling Ceara state in a bid to stop a major spike in violent gang attacks. The violence is a test for newly-elected President Jair Bolsonaro. Troops from Brazil’s National Police Force are being deployed in the northeastern state of Ceara with orders to end a wave of violent attacks by criminal gangs against banks, buses and shops, local officials said Saturday. Close to 300 members of the force arrived in the state capital, Fortaleza, and more than 10 other cities across Ceara on Friday in a bid to halt the rampage which has spiked over the past four days, national Public Security Secretary Guilherme Teophilo said, according to the government news agency Agencia Brasil. Brazilian media have shown security footage of service stations being torched by gang members in Fortaleza. Troops were deployed after Justice Minister Sergio Moro concluded Ceara police were overwhelmed. More than 50 suspects have been arrested since the violence broke out. The deployment is the first test for President Jair Bolsonaro and his strict law-and-order platform since he took office last Tuesday. While the trigger for the wave of violence is still being investigated, officials suspect the vicious attacks were ordered by organized crime gangs in retaliation for government plans to impose tighter controls in the state’s prisons, according to intelligence reports published in local media. Changes are set to include blocks on mobile phone signals and an end to a policy of separating prisoners according to gang membership.

Venezuela congress names new leader, calls Nicolas Maduro illegitimate; The new leader of Venezuela’s opposition-controlled National Assembly has called Nicolas Maduro a dictator whose legitimacy has run out. Juan Guaido also said congress aimed to restore constitutional order.Venezuela congress names new leader, calls Nicolas Maduro illegitimate The new leader of Venezuela’s opposition-controlled National Assembly has called Nicolas Maduro a dictator whose legitimacy has run out. Juan Guaido also said congress aimed to restore constitutional order. “We reaffirm the illegitimacy of Nicolas Maduro,” Guaido told lawmakers and foreign diplomats in attendance to show solidarity with the embattled legislative body. “As of January 10, he will be usurping the presidency and consequently this National Assembly is the only legitimate representative of the people.” Guaido called the Socialist president a dictator who has plunged the oil-rich country into economic and social misery, adding that Venezuela was living through a “dark but transitional” period in its history. He told lawmakers that opposition politicians have been jailed, driven into exile or killed.

Serbia: Thousands resume rallies against President Aleksandar Vucic; Protesters have braved a blizzard to demonstrate for a fifth week against President Aleksandar Vucic. Media freedom, an end to attacks against journalists and the opposition and electoral reform are among their demands. Several thousand people marched in the Serbian capital Saturday braving snow and freezing temperatures for the fifth consecutive weekend of street protests against populist President Aleksandar Vucic and his ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS). Some 15,000 demonstrators marched through the center of Belgrade, stopping in front of the offices of the state broadcaster RTS, which is firmly under Vucic’s control, before making their way to the presidency building. Loudspeakers played recordings of the president’s broken promises, while demonstrators blew whistles and jeered. Marchers also carried banners which read “We are the people,” “Stop the treason, defend the constitution and back the people” and “Down with the thieves.

German cyber defense body defends itself over massive breach; Hundreds of German public figures and politicians had their personal data and documents stolen by hackers. The cyber defense office had known about isolated cases for weeks, but said it only connected the dots on Friday. Germany’s Federal Office for IT Safety (BSI) has said that it had only become aware of a massive data breach affecting hundreds of lawmakers on Friday, several weeks after a lawmaker had told BSI officials about suspicious activity on personal accounts. “Everybody assumed it was an isolated case,” the BSI said. “Only by becoming aware of the release of the data sets via the Twitter account ‘God’ on January 3, 2019, could the BSI in a further analysis on January 4, 2019 connect this case and four other cases that the BSI became aware of during 2018,” it added. BSI head Arne Schönbohm said Friday that the agency had spoken with “some lawmakers” affected by the breach in early December. The statement prompted outrage among other hacking victims, who assumed BSI had known about the issue and failed to inform them.

FRANCE (France24)

Ukrainian church granted independence from Russian church; The decree, granting “autocephaly”, was signed by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew at a service with the head of the Ukrainian church Metropolitan Epifaniy and President Petro Poroshenko in St George’s Cathedral in Istanbul. “I want to thank the millions of Ukrainians around the world who responded to my appeal to pray for the church to be established,” Poroshenko said at a ceremony accompanied by solemn liturgical singing. “I want to thank the generations of Ukrainians who dreamed…and finally God sent us the Orthodox Church of Ukraine,” he told the congregation in the crowded church.

Thousands protest against Hungary’s ‘slave’ labour law; Opposition groups have staged several rallies in the past weeks in the Hungarian capital and other cities against what they said was an authoritarian rule of conservative nationalist Viktor Orban. Saturday’s rally, organized by opposition parties, trade unions and civic groups, mainly targeted the new labour law dubbed by critics as “slave law”. The protesters marched in snowfall from the historic Heroes Square to the parliament building on the bank of the Danube river, carrying banners such as “Sweep away the regime”.

JAPAN (NHK)

Japan’s Coast Guard to increase patrol vessels; Japan’s Coast Guard plans to add five more large patrol boats to its fleet to boost security. Coast Guard officials say a total of 70 Chinese vessels entered Japanese territorial waters around the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea in 2018. The number is 38 fewer than the previous year. Japan controls the islands. The Japanese government maintains the islands are an inherent part of Japan’s territory. China and Taiwan claim them. And North Korean vessels have repeatedly conducted illegal fishing in Japan’s exclusive economic zone in the Japan Sea off the coast of the Noto Peninsula. The Coast Guard gave warnings to a total of 1,624 North Korean squid fishing boats last year. Also 225 wooden boats which are believed to be from North Korea drifted to shores of Japan — the largest number ever. The five vessels will be added to the existing 62 large patrol boats. The officials say that they hope to be able to handle the situation even if multiple events happen concurrently in the waters around the country.

China’s population likely to shrink from 2030; China’s population, the world’s largest, is expected to start shrinking in 2030 after reaching a peak a year earlier. The state-run Chinese Academy of Social Sciences made the projection in a report on the country’s population and labor. The report says that the population is expected to grow from 1.39 billion at the end of 2017 to a peak of about 1.44 billion in 2029. The paper also says that China will likely see continuous negative growth from 2030 with the population standing at about 1.36 billion in 2050 and some 1.25 billion in 2065. The projections are based on an assumption that the current birthrate of about 1.6 births per woman will rise to 1.7 or higher because of the end of the one-child policy 3 years ago. The report says that if the birthrate remains flat, the population will start to decrease in 2027, and decline to about 1.17 billion in 2065. Under the new Chinese policy, married couples are now allowed to have two children.

Firms launch credit scoring services; An increasing number of firms are introducing credit scores as part of financial and other services. A credit score represents the creditworthiness of an individual given as a number. It is based on an analysis of various personal information, such as settlements for online shopping and cashless payments, as well as loans taken. The messaging app provider LINE will launch a financial service, issuing credit scores based on data on its approximately 78 million users. The company will use the score to determine the interest rate and credit limit appropriate for an individual, so that the firm will be able to better respond to user demand for medical fees and other expenses. Telecom operator NTT Docomo will launch a business in March that will provide financial institutions with individuals’ credit scores based on telephone fee payment history and how they use the service. Yahoo Japan will also conduct a trial in which it will provide companies with credit scores set by analyzing its users’ information, including their online shopping records and search history. In China, the use of such credit scoring systems is spreading, with people who have higher scores treated favorably in real estate transactions or job hunting.

World War Two: Bataan (4-24); Final Japanese Offensive 3-6 April 1942

Friday, 3 April, was not only the day Homma had selected to open the offensive; it was also a religious and national holiday for the soldiers on both sides of the battle line. For the Christian defenders it was the Friday of Holy Week, and the more devout observed the anniversary of the Crucifixion with prayers and fasting. For the Japanese, the 3rd of April marked the anniversary of the death of the legendary Emperor Jimmu, the first ruler to sit on the imperial throne. In Japan there would be religious ceremonies and feasting; on Bataan the soldiers of . Hirohito, a direct descendant of the Emperor Jimmu, would celebrate the day in more warlike manner. If all went well, they might gain victory in time to make the emperor’s birthday, 29 April, a day of special rejoicing.

Capture of Mt. Samat

On Good Friday the sun rose in a cloudless sky and gave promise of another hot, dry day so like those which had preceded it with endless monotony. From the top of Mt. Samat two American officers serving as artillery observers could plainly see the heavy Japanese guns, two to three miles behind the line, making ready to fire. Before their view was obscured they counted nineteen batteries of artillery and eight to ten mortar batteries. Observers to their east reported many more batteries of light artillery massed in close support of the infantry.

At 0900 this large array of guns, howitzers, and mortars, altogether almost 150 pieces, began to register on their targets. The Japanese began firing for effect at 1000 and continued to fire with only one half-hour pause until 1500, in what was undoubtedly the most devastating barrage of the campaign, equal in intensity, many thought, to those of the first World War. Simultaneously, the bombers of the 22nd Air Brigade came out in force to add the weight of their bombs to the constant stream of shells falling upon the defenders huddled in their foxholes. In the 150 sorties flown that day, General Mikami’s air force dropped more than sixty tons of bombs. Smaller aircraft swooped low over the front lines, strafing troops and vehicles at will, while far above them observation planes guided the bombers toward those batteries brave enough to reply to the Japanese barrage. “It was agonizing,” wrote the commander of an antiaircraft battery, “to watch the heavies sail serenely over us, 1,000 yards beyond our maximum range.”

The effect of the air-artillery bombardment was devastating. So violent and continuous were the explosions, so thunderous the din that it seemed as though “all hell” had broken out. Many of the defenses so carefully constructed during the weeks preceding the attack “were churned into a worthless and useless mess.” Telephone lines and artillery positions were knocked out. Fire spread rapidly when the cane fields and bamboo thickets were set ablaze and the smoke and dust lay so thick over the battlefield that observers atop Mt. Samat were unable to direct fire. By 1500 the artillery and aircraft had done their work. At that time the infantry and armor moved out to the attack.

Penetration

The air and artillery preparation which had begun at 1000 that morning had been concentrated against the comparatively narrow front on the extreme left of II Corps, held by the troops of Sector D. It was in this sector, commanded by General Lough, that the American line was stretched thinnest, and it was in this sector that the Japanese first came.

Sector D extended from KP 136 on the Pilar-Bagac road westward for about 5,000 yards to the corps boundary along the Pantingan River. Bisecting the sector front was the Catmon River, which, with the Pantingan, offered a natural route of advance southward. In addition to these two river valleys, Sector D contained three excellent north-south trails, two of which connected with the main east-west trail system. The westernmost of these was Trail 29, between the Pantingan and the Catmon. About five miles in length, this trail ran from the Pilar-Bagac road along the western foothills of Mt. Samat to Trail 8, the main east-west line of communication in II Corps.

Along the east bank of the Catmon was Trail 6, which also began at the Pilar-Bagac road and ran to Trail 8. East of Mt. Samat was the third of the north-south trails in Sector D, Trail 4. In addition to Trail 8, lateral communication in Sector D was provided by Trail 429. This trail ran due east from Trail 29 to Trail 6 which it joined until it cleared the western foothills of Mt. Samat. At that point it branched east again, skirting the southern edge of the mountain to meet Trail 4 near the boundary of Sectors D and C.

Sector D was held by two Philippine Army divisions. On the right (east), in front of Mt. Samat, was the 21st Division, led by Brigadier General Mateo Capinpin, and next to it, on the extreme left of the II Corps line, was General Lim’s 41st. Both divisions had their three infantry regiments posted along the main line of resistance which generally paralleled the Pilar-Bagac road just south of the Tiawir-Talisay River. About 1,500 yards to the rear was the regimental reserve line. With their three regiments on the line and with the few remaining elements deployed elsewhere, both divisions would be hard pressed if the need for reserves should arise.

In the 21st Division area General Capinpin had placed two of his regiments, the 22nd and 23rd, east of the Catmon River, with the former holding the division right flank and tying in with Sector C to the right. The 21st Infantry on the division left flank held both banks of the Catmon as well as Trail 6, which cut diagonally across the regimental area from the right front to the left rear. General Lim’s regiments were posted in order, with the 43rd on the right, tying in with the 21st Infantry, the 42nd in the center, and the 41st holding down the division and sector flank along the Pantingan. Across the river, on the extreme right of the I Corps line, was the 2nd Philippine Constabulary.

Against this front the Japanese had massed the entire force committed to the assault, the 65th Brigade and the 4th Division both heavily reinforced. With the exception of one battalion west of the Pantingan, all of General Nara’s reinforced brigade was concentrated before the 42nd Infantry where Trail 29 joined the Pilar-Bagac road. The Right Wing of the 4th Division, led by General Taniguchi and consisting of tanks, the 61st Infantry, a battalion of the 8th Infantry, plus supporting and service elements, had taken up a position north of the Tiawir, opposite the center of Sector D, and was poised to strike down Route 6 and the Catmon River valley. The division’s Left Wing (8th Infantry), which was not scheduled to attack until the 5th, was farther to the east and north, facing the two right regiments of the 21st Division.

At 1500, when the air and artillery bombardment shifted south, the 65th Brigade and Taniguchi’s Right Wing moved out to the assault Nara’s troops on the left (west) bank of the north-flowing Pantingan, supported by heavy mortar fire, pushed hard against the 2nd Philippine Constabulary to reach the I Corps main line of resistance. Though it was unable to penetrate the I Corps line, this force, a reinforced battalion, presented a real threat to Jones’s right flank and prevented him from coming to the aid of the adjacent units in Parker’s corps. Nara’s main effort, however, was made against II Corps. Here, the bulk of his brigade, led by tanks, pushed down against the center of the 41st Division and by late afternoon reached the 42nd Infantry main line of resistance, where, according to plans, it should have halted. The Japanese had expected to meet opposition there, but the line was not occupied, whereupon Nara ordered his men to continue southward along Trail 29. By nightfall the brigade had scored an advance of about 1,000 yards.

Taniguchi’s force to the left (east), led by tanks of the 7th Tank Regiment, crossed the Tiawir just north of the boundary between, the 43rd and 21st Infantry, in the center of Sector D. Two 37-mm. antitank guns had been emplaced here to oppose a crossing, but they had been put out of action by the heavy bombardment earlier in the day. Once across the river Taniguchi led his men against the main line of resistance. After desultory fire the Filipinos scattered and Taniguchi advanced without difficulty. Before halting for the night he had taken his men about 1,000 yards down Trail 6. The Japanese advance for the first day of the attack exceeded even their most optimistic estimates.

The lack of opposition to the Japanese advance on the afternoon of 3 April was due entirely to the effects of the air and artillery bombardment earlier that day on the hungry and weakened troops of the 41st Division. It was upon this division that the weight of the shells and bombs had fallen and in its area that the damage had been greatest. Dazed and demoralized by the intensity of the five-hour-long artillery concentration and the ferocity of the strafing and bombing attacks, choked and blinded by the smoke and dust, literally burned out of their positions by the brush fires which sprang up everywhere along the front lines, the Filipinos had fled south in disorganized and unruly mobs. Nothing and no one could stop them. When one officer ordered some of his men back into the line, they “stared dumbly” at him and continued on their way to the rear.8 Even before the Japanese tank-infantry attack had begun to roll, the 41st Division had ceased to exist as an effective military organization.

The units most affected by the bombardment and the assault were the 42nd and 43rd Infantry. The first, in the center of the division front where bamboo fires burned fiercely, had retreated in a disorderly fashion, some of the men following Trail 29 into the 41st Infantry area, and others drifting eastward to join the retreating 43rd on the western slopes of Mt. Samat. Only the 41st Infantry on the extreme left of the line, which had escaped the full weight of the preliminary bombardment, had withdrawn in an orderly fashion. Augmented by a continuous stream of stragglers from the 42nd, the regiment had fallen back to its regimental reserve line near the junction of Routes 29 and 429 and held firmly there all afternoon. Early in the evening, on the basis of misunderstood or garbled orders, the regiment began to move south toward Trail B.

The 21st Division had also suffered heavily from the day’s bombardment, but only its westernmost element, the left battalion of the two-battalion 21st Infantry, had broken. Posted in front of the Pilar-Bagac road, on the west bank of the Catmon River, this battalion stood in the path of Taniguchi’s powerful Right Wing, and when the enemy tanks appeared the Filipinos, “shattered by incessant shelling and bombing, weak from dysentery, malaria, and malnutrition,” fled to the rear. The right battalion of the regiment, however, held firm. Hurriedly organizing the scattered elements of the left battalion, the regimental commander, Lieutenant Colonel William A. Wappenstein, was able by nightfall to re-establish his line with a refused left flank along the east bank of the Catmon.

News of the rout of the 41st Division and the disintegration of the corps left flank reached General Parker, the corps commander, late in the afternoon of Good Friday. The danger was immediate and compelling and he quickly released the only unit he had in reserve, the 33rd Infantry (PA), less the 1st Battalion, to General Lough, commander of Sector D. The regiment, led by Major Stanley Holmes, moved out at dusk, under orders to establish a defensive position across Trail 6 between Mt. Samat and the Catmon River by morning of the 4th. Sector D headquarters, too, took prompt measures to stem the rout of the 41st Division and set up a line in front of the advancing Japanese. The 42nd Infantry, hopelessly disorganized and scattered, it apparently wrote off as a total loss, but General Lough thought there was still a chance to salvage the shattered 43rd and use it against the Japanese.

On the evening of the 3rd he sent Colonel Malcolm V. Fortier, senior instructor of the 41st Division, northward to help reorganize the regiment and lead it back up the Catmon valley to a position west of the 33rd Infantry. Later that night, the sector G-3, Colonel Robert J. Hoffman, learning that the 41st Infantry had retreated to the junction of Trails 29 and 8, sent the regiment back along Trail 29 with orders to occupy the regimental reserve line. Thus, by the morning of the 4th, if all went well, there would be three regiments, the 41st, 43rd, and 33rd, in position to oppose a Japanese advance south along the Pantingan and Catmon valleys.

Homma’s original plan had been a cautious one, calling for a limited advance on 4 April to gain positions from which to launch the drive on Mt. Samat. But the unexpected success of the first day’s action justified a bolder course and on the evening of the 3rd he ordered the 4th Division and the 65th Brigade to disregard earlier orders and to continue their advance toward Mt. Samat next day. Their attack would be preceded by a co-ordinated air and artillery bombardment almost equal in intensity to that which had preceded the Good Friday attack.

When Homma’s orders reached them, both commanders quickly revised their plans and prepared to attack the next morning. The 65th Brigade on the west would continue its drive south up the Pantingan valley, on both sides of the river. The 4th Division’s Right Wing would advance along the line of the Catmon River, and the 7th Tank Regiment east along the Pilar-Bagac road. Colonel Morita’s Left Wing, which had not been in action on the first day of the offensive, would cross the Tiawir-Talisay River in front of the right half of Sector D, the area held by the 22nd and 23rd Infantry, during the morning. Once across the river it would pause to reorganize, then attack in force at about noon, at the same time that Taniguchi’s infantry moved out to the assault.

American plans to place three infantry regiments in the path of the Japanese advance were only partially successful. When Colonel Fortier reached the 43rd and the remnants of the 42nd Infantry on the western slopes of Mt. Samat on the night of the 3rd, he found the men still bewildered and demoralized. American officers had sought vainly to calm them and restore some semblance of order, and Fortier was able to round up only several hundred men from the two regiments. After the men had been served hot coffee, they started advancing along the trail in the darkness toward their new position west of the Catmon River. There was no difficulty with the 41st Infantry. This regiment, which Colonel Hoffman had ordered forward on the night of 3-4 April, reached its former regimental reserve line between Trail 29 and the Pantingan River without incident by 0930 of the 4th.

Major Holmes’s 33rd Infantry, numbering about 600 men, had begun its march west along the section of Trail 429 which extended south of Mt. Samat early on the evening of the 3rd.10 The men, many of whom had just risen from sick beds, moved slowly in the darkness, passing large numbers of stragglers pouring back to the rear. “Few had arms of any kind …. Few even had packs … ,” wrote Captain Robert M. Chapin, 3rd Battalion commander. “I asked several what unit they were from but they just looked at me blankly and wandered on.” When the regiment turned north on Trail 6, the stream of stragglers ended and the advance was more rapid. At a zigzag about a mile north of the intersection Major Holmes found a platoon of the 41st Engineer Battalion busily constructing tank obstacles and decided to set up his line there, in position to block the Japanese advance in the Catmon valley. By dawn the regiment was deployed in depth across the trail with flank guards out to warn of an unexpected attack.

The Disintegration at Sector D

The Japanese resumed the offensive on the morning of 4 April with another heavy artillery preparation, coordinated with bombing and strafing attacks by the 22nd Air Brigade. The first salvos passed over the 33rd Infantry astride Trail 6 to fall on the luckless men of the 42nd and 43rd Infantry about a mile to the south. Again they stampeded, heading back along Trail 6 “for all they were worth.” Until they reached the junction of Trails 6 and 8, about 4,500 yards to the south, that evening, wrote Colonel Fortier, “we could do nothing to stop them.” Thus, even before the Japanese infantry had moved out, one third of the force expected to hold the Pantingan and Catmon valleys had given way.

[Fortier, 41st Div (PA) Rpt of Opns, p. 6. The Japanese that day flew 133 sorties and dropped a total of 87 tons of bombs on II Corps alone. 5th Air Gp Opns, p. 73.]

The advance of the 65th Brigade in the Pantingan valley met with little serious opposition. Only the 41st Infantry, now back on its original reserve line between Trail 29 and the Pantingan River, stood in its way. Shortly after 0930, after Japanese planes had strafed the trail to clear the way for the infantry advance, Nara’s men hit the front and right of the 41st Infantry line. Unable to stand against the weight of the assault and in danger of being outflanked, the Filipinos withdrew to a new line about 600 yards to the rear. Here they held until 1700 when the 65th Brigade moved around their unprotected right flank, threatening to take them from the rear. For the second time that day the 41st withdrew, this time to a point about 1,000 yards farther south, where it established a semicircular position on the Pantingan River with the arc facing east, just short of Trail 29. Though its own position was more secure, the regiment could no longer block General Nara’s route south along Trail 29.

The advance of the 4th Division against the center and right elements of Sector D met with the same success that attended Nara’s efforts that day. Arrayed against the center of the line was General Taniguchi’s Right Wing, strongly supported by the armor of the 7th Tank Regiment. This force opened its attack at about 0830 of the 4th with an armored thrust across the Tiawir River to the Pilar-Bagac road. Having gained the road, the tanks moved eastward to strike the refused left flank of the 21st Infantry. The main line of resistance in this area ran in front of the Pilar-Bagac road, with the result that the advancing armor turned the defender’s line and penetrated to the rear of his positions.

The 21st Division, hurt badly by the morning’s bombardment, was ill prepared to meet the attack. On the left the 21st Infantry fell back in disorder before the crushing attack of the Japanese tanks. The 23rd on the right bent back its exposed flank, offering protection to the retreating men of the 21st. The entire attack lasted for only a short time and at its conclusion, even before his infantry had moved into action, Taniguchi was in control of both banks of the Catmon River and the area formerly occupied by the 43rd and 21st Infantry. General Lough’s troops now held only about one-third of the original main line of resistance in Sector D.

That same morning the third column of the Japanese assaulting force, the Left Wing of the 4th Division, composed of Colonel Morita’s reinforced 8th Infantry (less one battalion), entered the action for the first time. Jumping off from the north bank of the Tiawir-Talisay, opposite the 23rd and 22nd Infantry (the only two units in Sector D still on the main line of resistance), Morita’s men crossed the river under cover of artillery and air support at about 0900, occupied the line of departure, and prepared to attack south later in the day. The 23rd Infantry, already under pressure from the tank column to the west, and now threatened by a strong force on its front, began to fall back at about 1000. The 22nd, on the division and sector right flank, followed suit soon after, thus completing the withdrawal of the last unit from the sector main line of resistance.

Though the Japanese had already scored important gains, neither of the 4th Division’s two columns had yet begun the day’s offensive. The advance of the Right Wing’s tanks along the Pilar-Bagac road and the Left Wing’s main force across the Tiawir had been designed to secure positions from which the infantry would jump off at noon. At 1100 General Taniguchi asked for an hour’s grace, explaining that he needed more time to prepare after the rapid advance of the day before. This request was readily granted.

Colonel Morita, too, was directed to hold up his attack for an hour so that both wings would move out simultaneously. These new instructions never reached Morita, however, for the American artillery had cut his telephone lines, and promptly at noon he began the attack. Japanese artillery, unaware of Morita’s assault, laid down a barrage in the area into which the Left Wing was moving, firing “at both friendly and enemy units simultaneously.” Fortunately for the Japanese cause, Morita’s men suffered few casualties and a disaster was narrowly averted. Aside from this misadventure, the advance of the Left Wing was uneventful. The 22nd and 23rd Infantry had already abandoned the main line of resistance and Morita’s 8th Infantry continued south for about one mile before halting for the night.

At 1300 the Right Wing moved out, crossing the Catmon and pushing southeast through the area abandoned by the 21st Infantry earlier in the day. By nightfall it had reached the northern foothills of Mt. Samat. Untouched by the Japanese attack of the 4th was the 33rd Infantry at the zigzag on Trail 6, west of Mt. Samat. What artillery fire it received during the day was not directed at it specifically but was intended to neutralize the area on Taniguchi’s right flank. The Japanese seemed to be unaware of the regiment’s existence, and Holmes, though he sent out patrols to the north, east, and west, had little knowledge of the situation along the front. Aside from the few stragglers who came down the road and a battalion of the 41st Field Artillery some distance to his right rear, on the south slopes of Mt. Samat near Trail 6, the regiment was alone.

At the end of the day’s action, the Japanese were in possession of the entire main line of resistance in Sector D. The 41st Division had been routed and the 21st forced back to the reserve line in front of Mt. Samat, its left flank hanging in the air. The 65th Brigade had pushed south up the Pantingan valley, twice outflanked the 41st Infantry, and now stood ready to march unimpeded down Trail 29. The 4th Division had taken the 21st Division on its left flank, forced it off the main line of resistance, and then launched a coordinated flank and frontal assault to gain control of the Catmon valley. The Japanese were now one day ahead of schedule and in position to storm the heights of Mt. Samat, the first objective of the offensive begun on the morning of Good Friday.

Easter Sunday

Homma’s original plan for the seizure of Mt. Samat had called for a regrouping of the 4th Division’s two columns once the northern foothills of the mountain had been reached, shifting the strength of the division from the right to the left wing, then attacking in force along the east slopes down Trail 4. At the same time the 65th Brigade was to continue its drive west of Mt. Samat toward Mariveles, while the 16th Division and the Nagano Detachment prepared to join in the attack against the Limay line. The only change made in this plan as a result of the unexpected gains won on 3 and 4 April was to move the schedule ahead. Anticipating an earlier attack against the Limay line than originally planned, Homma, on the night of the 4th, ordered the 16th Division to move east “as soon as possible” and the Nagano Detachment to prepare for an attack against Orion.

The regrouping of the 4th Division for the attack against Mt. Samat was accomplished with little difficulty on the night of 4-5 April. General Taniguchi, taking his tanks and one battalion of the 61st Infantry, moved over to the Left Wing. Reorganized and strengthened, this wing became the main striking force of the 4th Division.

Command of the Right Wing, reduced to less than one regiment, the 61st, plus attached troops, passed to Colonel Gempachi Sato. Division artillery moved south of the Talisay to provide the necessary support for the infantry advance, and the 37th Infantry, in division reserve, took up a position behind the Left Wing. It was the Left Wing under Taniguchi which was to make the main effort down Trail 4 next morning. Sato’s wing was to seize the heights of Mt. Samat then continue down the south side of the mountain to the line of the Tala River, the jumping-off point for the next attack.

At dawn, 5 April, the Japanese resumed their devastating air and artillery bombardment. It was Easter Sunday and many of the Americans and Filipinos were attending dawn services “in the fastness of the jungle” when the shells and bombs began to fall. For them the day of the Resurrection was not the joyous occasion it had been in peacetime. The services, wrote one officer, had “a serious atmosphere for us,” and chaplains, invoking divine guidance, did not fail to ask as well for “deliverance from the power of the enemy.”

The attack began at 1000 when both columns of the 4th Division moved out. The strengthened Left Wing, making the main attack against the right flank of the 21st Division, soon ran into unexpectedly stubborn resistance. The Filipinos, supported by two battalions of the 41st Field Artillery on the south slope of Mt. Samat and by artillery from the adjoining sectors, put up so stiff a fight that one Japanese officer described it as “the fiercest combat in the second Bataan campaign.” Against this determined opposition, Taniguchi’s men made little headway and by early afternoon were still pinned down on Trail 4, far short of their objective.

The Right Wing under Colonel Sato had meanwhile been pushing ahead unopposed on the exposed left flank of the 21st Division, up the northwest slopes of Mt. Samat. Near the summit it met a single platoon of the 21st Infantry which it easily routed and at 1250 secured possession of the mountain top. The position of the 41st Field Artillery, whose fire was so effectively pinning down General Taniguchi’s Left Wing on Trail 4, was now untenable, and the artillerymen were forced to evacuate. Before they did, they destroyed their equipment and rolled their guns over the cliffs.

No longer pinned down by the artillery General Taniguchi promptly resumed the offensive. At 1400 he sent one of his battalions across the northeast slopes of the mountain in a flanking movement while increasing pressure on the defenders to his front. The disorganized but hard-fighting 21st Division troops, deprived of their artillery support, were in no condition to stand against the powerful Left Wing alone and shortly before 1530 began to fall back. Only scattered elements along Trail 4 barred Taniguchi’s way south and he and his men easily pushed toward the line of the Tala River, below Mt. Samat.

That same afternoon Sato’s Right Wing made its way unopposed down the southern slopes of Mt. Samat. At 1630 advance elements of this force reached the command post of the 21st Division near the junction of Trails 4 and 429. Taken by surprise, officers and men of the headquarters took flight, the majority moving west along Trail 429 to set up a new command post a mile away, at the junction of that trail and Trail 6. General Capinpin, the division commander, was not among those who reached safety; he had become separated from his staff during the disorganized flight and been captured by the Japanese.

Hardly had the new command post been established when it had to be abandoned because of the appearance at 1700 of Japanese troops near the trail junction. These troops were a part of Sato’s force which had come down the west side of Mt. Samat during the afternoon. After routing the 21st Division headquarters, the Japanese hit the remaining battalion of the 41st Field Artillery still in position west of Mt. Samat. The artillerymen fled to the rear, leaving their guns behind. “No Americans killed, wounded or decorated,” wrote an officer of the battalion at the conclusion of the action. That night Taniguchi and Sato joined forces at the old 21st Division command post near Trail Junction 4-429.

Between dawn of Good Friday and nightfall of Easter Sunday, in three days of infantry and tank assaults accompanied by the largest artillery and air bombardments of the campaign, the Japanese had gained the first objective in their final drive to end the siege of Bataan. They had broken through the American line, swept aside the troops of Sector D, virtually destroyed two Philippine Army divisions, and seized Mt. Samat. Homma’s hopes, twice frustrated, of turning General Parker’s flank and driving II Corps into Manila Bay, thus ending the campaign, were near realization. Only a successful counterattack, or an unexpectedly strong stand by a foe already reduced to near impotence by starvation and disease, could deprive him of the long-delayed victory.

6 April: The Day of Decision

The events of 6 April determined the fate of the Bataan garrison. On that day the weary American and Philippine troops made a desperate effort to drive back the enemy and regain the main line of resistance. At the same time the Japanese launched a fresh offensive to the south and east. The two forces met head on and by evening the issue had been decided.

Plans and Preparations

Since the Japanese penetration on the afternoon of Good Friday, the Americans had been laying plans for a counterattack while seeking vainly to halt the enemy advance. The means with which to launch such an attack were extremely limited.

Corps reserve, consisting of less than one regiment, had been committed on the first day of the offensive without any visible effect on the enemy’s operations. Most of the troops in Sector D had been routed and could not be relied upon for a counterattack. By the second day of the offensive it had become evident that, if the Japanese were to be stopped and the main line of resistance regained, fresh troops would have to be thrown into the battle.

At the start of the attack Luzon Force had in reserve the American 31st Infantry, the Scouts of the 57th Infantry-both a part of the Philippine Division-the Provisional Tank Group, and two battalions of combat engineers. The third regiment of the Philippine Division, the 45th Infantry (PS), was in I Corps reserve. Only a few days before, General King, the Luzon Force commander, had ordered the 31 st to Lamao, behind II Corps, and the 45th Infantry to the junction of Trails 7 and 9, behind I Corps. The 57th remained farther south, in position to move to the support of either corps.

When news of the Japanese attack first reached General King on 3 April he ordered the 31st Infantry to move under cover of darkness to “a position of readiness” near the junction of Trails 10 and 2. From there it could move north on Trail 2 or west on Trail 10 to almost any point along the front.

At the same time King ordered the Provisional Tank Group (less two companies) to move to the direct support of Parker’s imperiled corps. There was nothing more that General King could do that day. Parker had already released his reserve to the Sector D commander and every effort was being made to re-form the shattered 41st Division and to establish a line in front of the advancing Japanese.

When, on the morning of 4 April, the 21st Division fell back from the main line of resistance, General King took prompt measures to avert the threatened disaster in II Corps. He gave to Parker, who already had the support of the Provisional Tank Group, the American 31st Infantry, possibly the most carefully hoarded unit of the Philippine campaign, and ordered the battletested 45th Infantry (PS), less the 1st Battalion, east across the Panting an to the junction of Trails 29 and 8 in the II Corps area. The 57th Infantry retained in force reserve, but ordered it to move forward that night to the bivouac area vacated by the 31st Infantry. The 14th Engineer Battalion (PS), part of the Philippine Division, and the Americans of the 803rd Engineer Battalion (US) were ordered to discontinue all engineering activities and to assemble immediately in preparation for combat. Thus, at the end of the second day’s attack, Luzon Force had given General Parker two regiments of the Philippine Division, placed the third in “a position of readiness” behind his line, and ordered the tanks to give him direct support. With these forces the corps and sector commanders made their plans for a counterattack.

21 On the 4th, before the reinforcing units had reached their designated assembly areas, Parker released to General Lough the 31st Infantry, the 45th Infantry (less the 1st Battalion) , and one company of tanks. With these troops, and those already in his sector, Lough was to launch a counterattack on the morning of the 6th to regain first the reserve line and finally the main line of resistance.

At 1600 of the 4th the 45th Infantry began its march east toward II Corps. By dawn the next morning it had crossed the Pantingan and reached Trail Junction 8-29. The 31st Infantry and Company C, 194th Tank Battalion, began their march north along Trail 2 toward the battle area at 2000 of the 4th. They found the road almost completely blocked by retreating Filipinos and took three hours to reach the San Vicente River, where, at an abandoned bivouac area, the 31st Infantry halted for the night. The tankers presumably camped near by and next day marched west to join the 45th Infantry.

Easter Sunday was a hectic day at Sector D headquarters. Between frantic phone calls to and from units in front of the advancing Japanese the staff prepared its plan for the counterattack. This plan, completed late on the afternoon of the 5th, provided for a co-ordinated drive, starting at 0600 on the 6th, north on the three trails in Sector D toward the reserve line. On the right, east of Mt. Samat, the 31st Infantry would attack north on Trail 4. The remnants of the 21st Division, the extent of whose disastrous rout that afternoon was still not fully known at Sector D headquarters, would advance up the slopes of Mt. Samat. The 33rd Infantry, in position at the zigzag on Trail 6, was to advance along that trail, between the Catmon River and the western slopes of Mt. Samat. The remnants of the 42nd and 43rd Infantry, about four hundred men, were to push north from Trail Junction 6-8 along Trail 6 behind the 33rd Infantry. If they could not advance they were to hold Trail Junction 6-8, near which Sector D headquarters was located. Farther west, the Scouts of the 45th Infantry, supported by a company of tanks, would advance north on Trail 29 to the reserve line formerly held by the 41st Infantry. That regiment, which had crossed the Pantingan to the safety of I Corps area during the day, was directed in separate orders to recross the river that night and establish a line across Trail 29.

For the counterattack General Lough would have the support of the troops in Sector C to his right. The 51st Combat Team, on that sector’s left flank, would launch its own attack when the 31st Infantry reached its line. General Bluemel, the Sector C commander, also promised artillery support in addition to the scheduled 3rd-minute artillery barrage preceding the counterattack. In sector reserve General Lough had the 57th Infantry (PS), recently released by Luzon Force. Elements of that regiment were already moving toward the San Vicente River, behind the 31st Infantry.

General Homma had no intention of waiting passively for an American counterattack. He had the initiative and had scored a victory which he intended to exploit fully. His plans for 6 April called for an attack against Sector C, which now formed the left flank of II Corps line, and a continuation of the drive southward toward the Limay River.

The main effort that day would be made by the 4th Division, one portion of which would strike east to seize the Capot area in Sector C while the bulk of the division pushed southeast toward the Limay River. The right (west) flank of the Japanese advance would be guarded by the 65th Brigade on Trail 29. Elements of the brigade had already moved overland toward Trail Junction 6-8, and Nara was directed to continue his efforts to seize that important road junction while protecting the 4th Division’s right flank. The division’s east flank would be protected by the Nagano Detachment.

Reinforced with a company of tanks, Nagano was to send one column forward to the Talisay River in position to join later in the attack against the Limay line, while the remainder of his detachment maintained pressure against the enemy line across the East Road. As before, 14th Army artillery would fire a preliminary bombardment while the 22nd Air Brigade would strike at enemy artillery positions, vehicles, and troop concentrations.

Under cover of darkness, Easter Sunday, both sides prepared for the next day’s attack. The Japanese were confident and the odds were in their favor. For the Americans it was a gamble, but one that had to be taken. To it they had committed most of their reserves. If the counterattack failed they would be hard pressed to prevent the enemy from rolling up the rest of the line and driving the corps into Manila Bay.

All hopes for success rested on the comparatively fresh troops of the Philippine Division, two of whose regiments were in the line and one in reserve. Understrength, weakened by disease and starvation, these regiments were hardly a match for the Japanese. The 31st Infantry, when it moved out from its bivouac area at Lamao on 3 April, had to leave behind about one third of the men for evacuation to the hospital. Many who should have remained behind rose from their sick beds to join their comrades. Along the line of march, men fell out of rank, too exhausted to continue. The efficiency of those who reached the front line could not have been more than 50 percent. It is not surprising, therefore, that General Wainwright, when he visited Bataan on the 5th, approved the plans for the morrow’s counterattack “with misgivings as to the outcome.”

The American Counterattack The mission of the 31st Infantry in the counterattack of the 6th was to advance north on Trail 4, east of Mt. Samat, to the reserve line of the 21st Division. The regiment, in position at the intersection of the San Vicente River and Trail 2 when it received its orders, was to move to Trail Junction 4-429, the designated jump-off point, sometime during the evening of the 5th and move out from there at 0600 the next morning.

Almost immediately this plan miscarried. Late on the afternoon of the 5th General Taniguchi’s powerful Left Wing, advancing south on Trail 4, had routed the 21st Division elements along the trail and Colonel Sato’s Right Wing had hit the division command post on Trail Junction 4-429. When informed of these events, sector headquarters changed the 31st Infantry’s jump-off point to Trail Junction 44-429, about 1,300 yards east of the original starting position. The regiment now would have to recapture Trail Junction 4-429 before it could even begin its counterattack along Trail 4.

On the evening of the 5th the regiment moved out from its bivouac near the San Vicente River toward its new assembly area, with the 1st Battalion in the lead. The battalion’s mission was to secure Trail 44 from its starting point on Trail 2 to its junction with Trail 429, a distance of about 1,300 yards. The remaining battalions were to pass through the 1st, the 2nd taking position west of the trail junction and the 3rd to the south. As it passed through the 1st Battalion shortly after midnight, the 2nd Battalion came under fire from the Japanese who had secured Trail Junction 4-429 and were advancing along Trail 429 toward the 31st Infantry’s new assembly area. If unchecked they might seize Trail Junction 44-429 too, depriving the Americans of even this jump-off point. Lieutenant Colonel Jasper E. Brady, Jr., now commander of the 31st Infantry, ordered his 2nd Battalion to press forward quickly to occupy this last trail junction before the Japanese. The battalion accomplished its mission, but only with difficulty and after a fight lasting several hours. Trail 44 extended from the intersection of Route 2 and the San Vicente River southward along the west bank of the river to Trail 8.

While this action was in progress, the main body of Taniguchi’s Left Wing was attacking the remnants of the 21st Division on Trail 4. Encircled and isolated, the Filipinos sought desperately to break through the Japanese ring and make their way back to safety. Most were killed or captured, but some escaped. Of these a small number reached the American lines. The news they brought of the disintegration of the 21st Division and the strength of the Japanese on Trail 4 was disquieting. On the basis of these reports Colonel Brady concluded that his regiment of about 800 men, most of them in poor condition, was faced by a much stronger force than had been thought. Even if he could launch a successful counterattack he doubted that he could hold any gains made with the few men he had. He therefore halted his men until he had presented his conclusions to General Lough.

Unable to reach Sector D headquarters by telephone, he sent Lieutenant Colonel Peter D. Calyer, his operations officer, together with some of the 21st Division men, in a jeep to General Lough’s command post to present these new facts and to get further instructions. Not long after Calyer had left, the main force of Taniguchi’s Left Wing approached the 31st Infantry outposts on Trail 429. The situation was urgent and Brady again sought to reach sector headquarters by telephone.

 

This time he was successful and soon had General Lough’s G–3 on the line. Informed of the situation, the G-3 changed Brady’s orders and assigned the 31st Infantry a defensive mission. Instead of attacking, the regiment was to hold Trail Junction 44-429 at all costs. A short time later Colonel Calyer returned from sector headquarters with written confirmation of the new orders.

On receipt of these orders Brady pulled back the tired men, who had been trying all night to advance west along Trail 429 toward the original jump-off point, and issued new orders for the establishment of a defensive line facing west across the trail junction. The 1st Battalion would take up a position on the right (north) and the 2nd on the left. Contact by patrol would be maintained with the 51st Combat Team to the north, on the refused left flank of Sector C. Regimental headquarters and the reserve 3rd Battalion would take up a position about a mile to the east near the former bivouac area at the intersection of Trail 2 and the San Vicente River. By morning these moves had been completed and the men of the 31st Infantry settled down to hold the trail junction.

On the west, along the line of the Pantingan, the counterattack of 6 April got off to a good start. Shortly after midnight, 5 April, the 300 men of the 41st Infantry moved out from their position on the west bank of the Pantingan, climbed the 300-foot bluffs of the river and struck east toward Trail 29. Their aim was to establish a line across the trail, about 200 yards below Trail Junction 29-429, to which the Scouts of the 45th Infantry could advance the next morning. At about 0200 the 41st Infantry reached its former bivouac area, occupied by a small number of men from the 65th Brigade, and succeeded in routing the surprised Japanese, bayoneting those who lay asleep. The regiment then pushed ahead and reached the trail by daybreak. There it was met and halted by a 65th Brigade counterattack. The Japanese, whose strength finally reached that of a reinforced battalion, hit the Filipinos on three sides and by noon had forced them back to a defensive line along the river. Here the 41st Infantry held, hoping that the 45th Infantry, attacking north along Trail 29, would soon arrive.

The counterattack of the 45th Infantry (less 1st Battalion) had begun at 0200 of the 6th. At that time the regiment, with the 3rd Battalion in the lead, had moved out to the line of departure. From there, the Scouts had advanced cautiously along Trail 29 in the dark. Company C, 194th Tank Battalion, supporting the attack, did not catch up with the Scouts until daylight, after an all-night march over the mountains from the east. It was not until midmorning that the regiment made contact with the enemy when it pushed aside the 65th Brigade outposts.

Resistance thereafter was stronger and early in the afternoon the Scouts had to beat off a flanking attack. The tanks, held to the trail by the dense undergrowth on each side, could be of little assistance. At about 1500, after an advance of approximately 2,500 yards, the regiment came to a halt before a strong Japanese position astride the trail.

The 45th Infantry had been under heavy enemy mortar fire all day but, with a limited supply of shells, had refrained from returning fire. At this point the Scout commander, Colonel Doyle, decided to use half of the 3rd Battalion’s ten 81-mm. shells to open a hole in the Japanese line through which the tanks could thrust. The tank commander agreed to this plan and later in the afternoon the mortars opened fire. The few shots proved surprisingly effective. The Japanese on the trail fell back so quickly that the Scouts pushed into the breach before the tanks could move up. It was fortunate that they did for the trail had been heavily mined and a tank advance might have proved disastrous.

Despite his success, Colonel Doyle was uneasy. Patrols sent out to establish contact with I Corps to the west and the 33rd Infantry to the east had either failed to return or reported they had met only enemy units. It was now late afternoon and Colonel Doyle decided that it was too risky to continue the advance as long as his flanks were unprotected. He therefore halted his men and ordered them to dig in for the night. With his executive officer and the tank commander, he went back to his command post in the rear to report to General Lough and ask for instructions. When reached on the telephone, Lough confirmed Doyle’s decision and ordered him to consolidate his gains that evening in preparation for a fresh attack the next morning. Several thousand yards to the north, in position along the high bluffs of the Pantingan, the men of the 41st Infantry were still waiting for the Scouts to reach them.

It was in the center, along the line of the Catmon River and Trail 6, that the counterattack of 6 April ended disastrously. There the plan called for an advance by the 33rd Infantry, backed up by the remnants of the 42nd and 43rd Infantry. But the Japanese had begun moving into this area the day before, and on the 5th General Nara had sent the bulk of his brigade overland in two columns to seize Trail Junction 6-8. A portion of this force had struck the “hungry, spiritless” stragglers of the 42nd and 43rd as they were moving north on Trail 6 to join in the counterattack.

At the first sign of the enemy, the men had broken and fled. All efforts to put them back in place were fruitless; they simply disappeared into the jungle, leaving the vital Trail Junction 6-8 open to the advancing Japanese. The 33rd Infantry, like the 41st, waited in vain for the counterattacking troops to reach it. During the afternoon the 33rd, too, came under attack and its last communications to the rear were destroyed. Presumed lost, the regiment spent the night in fearful apprehension of an enemy attack the next morning.

Before the day was over it was already evident that the carefully planned counterattack was a failure. On the east the 31st Infantry had not even been able to reach the line of departure. The 21st Division, routed on the night of 5-6 April, made no effort to. carry out its part of the plan to restore the line. In the center the 42nd and 43rd had again been routed and the 33rd Infantry surrounded. Only on the west, along Trail 29, had the Americans met with any success that day. But the victory was a hollow one, for the 41st Infantry was still cut off and the Japanese were threatening a move which would isolate the 45th from the rest of the troops in Sector D.

The Japanese Attack

The Japanese attack on 6 April, which began simultaneously with the American counterattack, accomplished decisive results. This attack, made by the 4th Division and 65th Brigade, had a double objective: to seize the high ground in Sector C, near Capot, and to push forward to the line of the Limay River. The task of the 65th Brigade was a subordinate one. It was to protect the right flank of the 4th Division drive while seizing the high ground near Trail Junction 6-8.

Nara’s advance on the 6th, though not a part of the main drive planned for that day, proved far more decisive than the Japanese had thought. His two columns advancing overland in a southeasterly direction from Trail 29 hit and routed the 42nd and 43rd Infantry with no difficulty. The Japanese kept going down Trail 6 and shortly after noon advance elements of the brigade reached and seized Trail Junction 6-8 where General Lough had his headquarters. By this move the Japanese bisected Sector D and cut General Lough off from his forces to the east.

Just east of the trail junction was a portion of the 57th Infantry (PS). This regiment, sector reserve for the counterattack, was in the process of moving up to the front line when its 1st Battalion met General Nara’s forward elements around noon. The arrival of the 2nd Battalion later in the day coincided with the arrival of additional troops from the 65th Brigade. Any chance of regaining the trail junction was now gone; the Scouts were finding it difficult even to maintain their position east of the trail junction. The situation was extremely serious and at 1600 General Lough, who had moved his command post west to the vicinity of Trail Junction 8-29, ordered Colonel Doyle to withdraw his 45th Infantry along Trail 29 and establish contact with the 57th Infantry.

Colonel Doyle, whose men had made the only gains of the day, had only a short time before halted his men and ordered them to dig in for the night. He now had to move the tired Scouts out of their position, turn them around, and march them back to the point from which they had started at 0200 the night before. That prospect alone was discouraging enough but at the conclusion of the march they were expected to continue east along Trail 8, then fight their way through the roadblock at Trail Junction 6-8 to re-establish contact with the 57th Infantry. Until they did, General Lough and his forces west of the block would be separated from the rest of Sector D and from II Corps.

The attack of the 4th Division against Sector C, the main Japanese effort of the 6th, was equally disastrous to the American cause. This sector, whose main line of resistance at the start of the Japanese offensive had extended for 4,500 yards eastward from Sector D, had by 6 April given way on the left. On the 4th, on orders from corps, General Bluemel had pulled back his outpost line to the Pilar-Bagac road and prepared for an attack against his left flank. This attack had not materialized, but when the 21st Division had fallen back before Taniguchi’s Left Wing on the 5th, leaving the left flank of Sector C exposed, General Bluemel had requested permission to fall behind the San Vicente River. Plans for the counterattack had already been made and corps turned down Bluemel’s request, ordering him instead to bring his left flank unit, the 51st Combat Team, back to the Pilar River, thus refusing his line sharply.

Bluemel’s desire to fall back to the San Vicente River was an understandable one. That river formed a natural obstacle to the advance of an enemy moving, as the Japanese were, in a southeasterly direction. It cut diagonally across the rear of Sector C to the right of the sector main line of resistance, then turned east to Orion and the bay. Behind its banks a line could be formed which would protect the most vital portion of the corps main line of resistance covering the East Road, as. well as Trails 8 and 2. If it should prove necessary to fall back, there were other rivers, the Mamala, the AIangan, and the Lamao, which would provide natural defensive positions for a planned withdrawal. The abortive counterattack by the 31st Infantry had begun in Sector C, at the intersection of the San Vicente River and Trail 2.

By morning of the 6th that regiment had established a line facing north and west across Trail Junction 44-429, maintaining contact by patrol with the refused left flank of the 51st Combat Team to the north. It was in this area that the Japanese attack came.

When he received his orders on the night of the 5th to seize the area around Capot, General Kitano, the 4th Division commander, was already convinced that his troops had scored a major success. He decided therefore to commit his reserve, the 37th Infantry (less one battalion), to this new enterprise rather than weaken his main force on Trail 4. Convinced also, by the experience of the 65th Brigade in its attacks against Sector C in late January and early February, that a frontal assault would be hazardous, he decided upon a flanking attack. Orders to Colonel Jiro Koura, therefore, specified that the 37th Infantry, reinforced with tanks, artillery, and engineers, would step off from the northeast foothills of Mt. Samat and strike the sharply refused left flank of Sector C in an effort to take the objective from the rear.

At 1030 of the 6th Colonel Koura’s force, led by six or seven tanks of the 7th Tank Regiment, jumped off. The tanks hit the main line of resistance from the north, just above Trail 2 where a portion of the Antitank Company of the 31st Infantry (US) was posted. Heavy fire from two 37-mm. guns halted the tank attack, but the guns, lacking armor-piercing shells, were unable to knock out the enemy tanks. But this was not the main Japanese effort. The bulk of Koura’s infantry had struck from the west against the 51st Combat Team in place behind the Pilar River. Before the morning was over, they had overrun the 51st Engineers and forced the entire line back. Trail 2 now lay open to the advancing Japanese and the entire left of Sector C was imperiled.

The main force of the 4th Division, meanwhile, had been increasing its pressure against the 31st Infantry (US) guarding Trail Junction 44–429 to the south. Here Taniguchi’s men, advancing east along Trail 429, had been pushing strongly against the 2nd Battalion on the left (south) in an effort to turn the American flank and get behind Sector C. By 1400 the pressure had become so great that Colonel Brady had to commit Companies Land K from his reserve battalion to the threatened flank. Enemy planes, which had been overhead all day, now intensified their attacks while the Japanese infantry pushed ever harder. Finally, at 1500, when he had lost all contact with the withdrawing 51st Combat Team to the north, Colonel Brady gave the order to withdraw.

The possibility of a withdrawal had been foreseen by sector headquarters. Brady’s first orders had been to hold the trail junction at all costs. Around noon General Lough had modified these orders to allow Brady to withdraw if necessary to the San Vicente. At 1500, therefore, the regiment began to move to its new position behind the river, with the two reserve companies covering the withdrawal. The maneuver was a difficult one for the tired men, many of whom were too weak to carry their machine guns through the jungle and up the steep ravines. Companies Land K, using to good advantage their small supply of 81-mm. mortar shells, succeeded in disengaging the enemy and rejoined the regiment which by nightfall was in its new position. There was nothing now to prevent a juncture between Taniguchi’s men and the 37th Infantry advancing south on Trail 2.

By 1600 of the 6th it was evident that a line in front of the San Vicente could not be held and at that time General Parker directed a general withdrawal to the river. Bluemel, who had three times before. Requested permission to pull back to the San Vicente, was given command of the 31st Infantry and the 3rd Battalion, 57th, and directed to establish his line along the river’s east bank.

From the main line of resistance in Sector B, the new line would extend in a southwesterly direction through Sector C to link up with the 57th Infantry troops facing the Japanese on Trail Junction 6-8. On the north, to the left of Sector B, was the 32nd Infantry (PA). Next to it, across Trail 2, were the remaining elements of the 51st Combat Team and some 31st Division (PA) troops. Below the trail was the American 31st Infantry with the 31st Engineer Battalion (PA) to its left. The 3rd Battalion, 57th Infantry, under Major Johnson, which moved up to the San Vicente on the night of the 6th, took up a position on the left of the engineers, on the south flank.

Southwest of this line, east of Trail Junction 6-8, was the rest of the 57th Infantry. In the same order which established the San Vicente line, Parker placed all the Sector D troops east of Trail 6 under Colonel Edmund J. Lilly, Jr., the 57th commander, and gave him the 201st and 202nd Engineer Battalions (PA) from corps reserve. Lilly’s mission was to recapture the trail junction and establish contact with the 45th Infantry to the west.

The two engineer battalions were to move up that night and take a position on the right of the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the 57th, to tie in Lilly’s force with the 3rd Battalion of the regiment on the south flank of the San Vicente line. When this move was completed, the II Corps line would extend west from Orion along the Orion cutoff, then southwest behind the San Vicente River across Trail 2 to Trail 8 east of the trail junction.

When the action of the 6th was over the Americans and Filipinos found themselves in a desperate situation. The carefully prepared counterattack launched that morning had failed dismally and the enemy had quickly seized the initiative to score decisive gains. He had secured the vital Trail Junction 6-8 to cut off General Lough, with the 45th and 41st Infantry, from II Corps. All of the important north-south trails in Sector D-29, 6, and 4-as well as Trail 44 and a portion of Trail 2, were now in his hands. He had driven in the left half of the II Corps line, split the two corps, occupied Mt. Samat, and threatened to turn the unhinged II Corps flank and push on to the bay.

To forestall this move the Americans had established a sharply bent and shortened line behind the San Vicente River. The men on this line were already weakened and partially disorganized. Two entire divisions and a regiment had been lost. Another two regiments and a sector headquarters had been cut off. The remaining troops, in poor condition at the start, were hardly fit for combat. Most of the reserves had been committed, and additional forces would have to come largely from Jones’s intact I Corps. The outlook was bleak.

For the men on Bataan there was only one bright spot in an otherwise gloomy picture. At the start of the offensive General Wainwright had ordered an increase in the rice ration, to be taken from the Corregidor reserves, and had sent to General King all but 5,000 cases of C rations of the supplies in the Bataan reserve held on the island. By the 5th the ration issue had been increased to 27 ounces, still far below the minimum required but double the daily issue since 22 March. The allotment of flour to American troops was increased from 1.44 to 2.88 ounces; the rice ration went up from 8.5 to 17 ounces and canned meat from 1.22 to 2.44 ounces. The Filipinos, instead of wheat, received an additional allowance of rice and canned fish. An antiaircraft battery commander was surprised one morning when he received more rations than he expected. “There were,” he noted, “a few cans of Abalone, which defied preparation; a little more salmon and tomatoes and some type C [rations], and wonder of wonders, some cigarettes.”

In an Army Day broadcast General Wainwright spoke bravely of those who were “privileged to be charged with the defense of this distant bastion.” But his official dispatches show a clear appreciation of the catastrophic events of the past twenty-four hours. To Washington he reported that the enemy had driven a wedge into the right center of his front, that the air and artillery bombardment begun on the 3rd had continued without letup, and that fresh enemy troops had been thrown into the battle and were gaining ground slowly. In his message to General MacArthur, Wainwright added the significant details which would enable the commander of USAFFE to form his own estimate. The enemy, Wainwright explained, had penetrated to Trail 8, 7,000 yards south of the main line of resistance, seized Mt. Samat, and routed three Philippine Army divisions.

To MacArthur these events signified imminent disaster. “It is apparent to me,” he told the Chief of Staff, “that the enemy has driven a wedge between I and II Corps and is still advancing.” By the time this estimate reached Washington, disaster had already overtaken the luckless men on Bataan.

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

World War Two: Fall of Philippines; Bataan (4-23); Preparing for the last battle 1942