World War Two: Imperial Japanese Navy: British Borneo 1941

The Japanese drive to occupy all of Malaya, and destroy all British military power there, was intended to establish a protective right flank for a major thrust into the South Seas. To the east lay Borneo, Celebes, and the rest of the Netherlands East Indies. The military forces available to protect either British or Dutch territory were so pitifully inadequate that Japan could choose the time and place of her next offensive–a tremendous advantage, given the vastness of the region to be defended.

Borneo, the third largest island in the world, with an area of just under 260,000 square miles, but with a population of only three million and only a dozen towns, was rich in iol and other vital raw materials. By it’s location, Borneo could threaten the sea route to Japanese-held Malaya, and form a barrier to an east-to-west Japanese offensive. The island was at that time a Dutch possession, except for a small northern portion owned by Great Britain.

With Malaya hard-pressed from the beginning, the British Command at Singapore could never spare the forces to defend British Borneo. The Japanese wasted little time exploiting this weakness, making the occupation of Borneo an integral part of the Malayain campaign. The rich oil fields at Miri in northern Sarawak and at Seria in Brunei were Japan’s first objectives. On 13 December a convoy carrying forces for the Occupation of Miri and Seria left Camranh Bay at 0530. The group was composed of the destroyers SHINONOME, SHIRAKUMO, and MURAKUMO as Close Escort, a small subchaser and teen transports. For further support, they joined the light cruiser YURA and the seaplane tender KMAIKAWA MARU, and at 0900 by the heavy cruisers KUMANO and SUZUYA, and the destroyers FUBUKI and SAGIRI. The landing were made on 16 December with minor opposition. The immediate prize, however, had already been destroyed by the evacuating British; on 8 December, the Lutong refinery had been blown up and the Miri and Seria oil fields sabotaged.

The convoy lay off Miri until 12 December and was subjected to occasional air attacks by the few planes the Dutch and British could get into the air, from Singkawang II, on the Sarawak border, and from Singapore. No transports were damaged, but on 18 December at 0650 the destroyer SHIMONOME, on patrol off Lutong, about nine miles to the north of Miri, was sunk by a mysterious explosion, with her entire crew of 228 men killed. The Dutch air force claimed responsibility for the sinking. The conquest of British Borneo on the ground was almost uncontested. An airfield, being hastily constructed by the British at Kuching in Sarawak, fell on 24 December. British forces then retreated into Dutch Borneo on Christmas Day.

Since 15 December, the Japanese forces had been subject to sporadic air an submarine attacks. Further losses were incurred when the destroyer SAGIRI, on 24 December, was torpedoed twice and sank, with 121 men killed, by the Dutch submarine K-XVI. At Kuching one transport was sunk by planes, and one by K-XVI. Three transports were also damaged by the K-XVI.

British Borneo formally surrendered to the Japanese Army on 19 January at Sandakan. The resource-rich islands of the Netherlands East Indies were next on the conqueror’s list. The government of the Netherlands had participated, staring in 1940, in preliminary talks with Great Britain and the United States about the defense of Southeast Asia, should Japan got to war with the three allies. Consequently, the Netherlands declared war on Japan on the same day that the United States and Great Britain did. (Japan declared war against the Netherlands on 11 January 1942) General Sir Archibald Wavell was in Batavia (Now called Djakarta) on 10 January at which time the American-British-Dutch-Australian (ABDA) organization was established, with General Sir Archibald Wavell as Supreme Commander.

ABDA began to function too late, with too few ships, troops or planes, and extremely poor organization. Wavell soon found that he had too much to cope with in Malaya alone, and delegated the administration of ABDA to Admiral Conrad Helfrich on the Netherlands. However he left operational command with the international officers of the naval, land and air forces encompassed by the organization. Because Helfrich was also commander-in-chief of the Royal Netherlands Navy, his headquarters was in Batavia, while Army, Navy, and Air ABDA headquarters were located first in Lemband and then Bandung. These three organizations were not organized to cooperate with each other, or with Helfrich; in fact, Helfrich’s only knowledge of ABDA’s operational plans was through a Dutch officer on the Air ABDA staff. The confusion was further compounded when the command of Dutch land-based planes was placed under the RAF, while all naval planes were under Navy ABDA. This meant that in naval battles, the Allied warships could not direct the ABDA air cover and were deprived of reconnaissance and combat air patrol protection.

The Dutch felt that, given the fact that almost all of the threaten area was under Dutch rule, they were underrepresented and almost ignored by ABDA Command. Who knew the vast region of the Netherlands East Indies better than the Dutch? Helfrich soon found, too, that his military and naval forces were being depleted, as Wavell desperately call them in for Singapore’s defense. Finally a strike cruiser force was established under Dutch Rear Admiral Karel Doorman on 3 February, but it was still without adequate cooperation from the ABDA headquarters ashore. Although the defense of the Netherlands East Indies was impossible, the Dutch were doggedly determined at least to save Java, and to meet the Japanese naval forces when and where they could.

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

World War Two: Imperial Japanese Navy: Isolation of Java 1942

World War Two: Papuan Campaign; Japanese Threaten Australia (1)


Ancient Empires: Babylon (1)

The history of the Babylonian Empire commences with Nabopolassar, who appears to have mounted the throne in the year B.C. 625; but to understand the true character of the kingdom which he set up, its traditions and its national spirit, we must begin at a far earlier date. We must examine, in however incomplete and cursory a manner, the middle period of Babylonian history, the time of obscurity and comparative insignificance, when the country was as a general rule, subject to Assyria, or at any rate played but a secondary part in the affairs of the East. We shall thus prepare the way for our proper subject, while at the same time we shall link on the history of the Fourth to that of the First Monarchy, and obtain a second line of continuous narrative, connecting the brilliant era of Cyaxares and Nebuchadnezzar with the obscure period of the first Cushite kings.

It has been observed that the original Chaldaean monarchy lasted, under various dynasties from about B.C. 2400 to B.C. 1300, when it was destroyed by the Assyrians, who became masters of Babylonia under the first Tiglathi-Nin, and governed it for a short time from their own capital. Unable, however, to maintain this unity very long, they appear to have set up in the country an Assyrian dynasty, over which they claimed and sometimes exercised a kind of suzerainty, but which was practically independent and managed both the external and internal affairs of the kingdom at its pleasure. The first king of this dynasty concerning whom we have any information is a Nebuchadnezzar, who was contemporary with the Assyrian monarch Asshur-ris-ilim, and made two attacks upon his territories. The first of these was by the way of the Diyaleh and the outlying Zagros hills, the line taken by the great Persian military road in later times. The second was directly across the plain. If we are to believe the Assyrian historian who gives an account of the campaigns, both attacks were repulsed, and after his second failure the Babylonian monarch fled away into his own country hastily.

We may perhaps suspect that a Babylonian writer would have told a different story. At any rate Asshur-ris-ilim was content to defend his own territories and did not attempt to retaliate upon his assailant. It was not till late in the reign of his son and successor, Tiglath-Pileser I., that any attempt was made to punish the Babylonians for their audacity. Then, however, that monarch invaded the southern kingdom, which had passed into the hands of a king named Merodach-iddin-akhi, probably a son of Nebuchadnezzar. After two years of fighting, in whichhe took Eurri-Galzu (Akkerkuf), the two Sipparas, Opis, and even Babylon itself, Tiglath-Pileser retired, satisfied apparently with his victories; but the Babylonian monarch was neither subdued nor daunted.

Hanging on the rear of the retreating force, he harassed it by cutting off its baggage, and in this way he became possessed of certain Assyrian idols, which he carried away as trophies to Babylon. War continued between the two countries during the ensuing reigns of Merodach-shapik-ziri in Babylon and Asshur-bil-kala in Assyria, but with no important successes, so far as appears, on either side.

The century during which these wars took place between Assyria and Babylonia, which corresponds with the period of the later Judges in Israel, is followed by an obscure interval, during which but little is known of either country. Assyria seems to have been at this time in a state of great depression. Babylonia, it may be suspected, was flourishing; but as our knowledge of its condition comes to us almost entirely through the records of the sister country, which here fail us, we can only obtain a dim and indistinct vision of the greatness now achieved by the southern kingdom. A notice of Asshur-izir-pal’s seems to imply that Babylon, during the period in question, enlarged her territories at the expense of Assyria, and another in Macrobius, makes it probable that she held communications with Egypt. Perhaps these two powers, fearing the growing strength of Assyria, united against her, and so checked for a while that development of her resources which they justly dreaded.

However, after two centuries of comparative depression, Assyria once more started forward, and Babylonia was among the first of her neighbors whom she proceeded to chastise and despoil. About the year B.C. 880 Asshur-izir-pal led an expedition to the south-east and recovered the territory which, had been occupied by the Babylonians during the period of weakness. Thirty years later, his son, the Black-Obelisk king, made the power of Assyria still more sensibly felt. Taking advantage of the circumstance that a civil war was raging in Babylonia between the legitimate monarch Merodach-sum-adin, and his young brother, he marched into the country, took a number of the towns, and having defeated and slain the pretender, was admitted into Babylon itself. From thence he proceeded to overrun Chaldaea, or the district upon the coast, which appears at this time to have been independent of Babylon, and governed by a number of petty kings. The Babylonian monarch probably admitted the suzerainty of the invader, but was not put to any tribute. The Chaldaean chiefs, however, had to submit to this indignity. The Assyrian monarch returned to his capital, having “struck terror as far as the sea.” Thus Assyrian influence was once more extended over the whole of the southern country, and Babylonia resumed her position of a secondary power, dependent on the great monarchy of the north.

But she was not long allowed to retain even the shadow of an autonomous rule. In or about the year B.C. 821 the son and successor of the Black-Obelisk king, apparently without any pretext, made a fresh invasion of the country. Mero-dach-belatzu-ikm, the Babylonian monarch, boldly met him in the field, but was defeated in two pitched battles (in the latter of which he had the assistance of powerful allies) and was forced to submit to his antagonist. Babylon, it is probable, became at once an Assyrian tributary, and in this condition she remained till the troubles which came upon Assyria towards the middle of the eighth century B.C. gave an opportunity for shaking off the hated yoke. Perhaps the first successes were obtained by Pul, who, taking advantage of Assyria’s weakness under Asshur-dayan III. (ab. B.C. 770), seems to have established a dominion over the Euphrates valley and Western Mesopotamia, from which he proceeded to carry his arms into Syria and Palestine. Or perhaps, Pul’s efforts merely, by still further weakening Assyria, paved the way for Babylon to revolt, and Nabonassar, who became king of Babylon in B.C. 747, is to be regarded as the re-establisher of her independence. In either case it is apparent that the recovery of independence was accompanied, or rapidly followed, by a disintegration of the country, which was of evil omen for its future greatness. While Nabonassar established himself at the head of affairs in Babylon, a certain Yakin, the father of Merodach-Baladan, became master of the tract upon the coast; and various princes, Nadina, Zakiru, and others, at the same time obtained governments, which they administered in their own name towards the north. The old Babylonian kingdom was broken up; and the way was prepared for that final subjugation which was ultimately affected by the Sargonids.

Still, the Babylonians seemed to have looked with complacency on this period, and they certainly made it an era from which to date their later history. Perhaps, however, they had not much choice in this matter. Nabonassar was a man of energy and determination. Bent probably on obliterating the memory of the preceding period of subjugation, he “destroyed the acts of the kings who had preceded him;” and the result was that the war of his accession became almost necessarily the era from which subsequent events had to be dated.

Nabonassar appears to have lived on friendly terms with Tiglath-Pileser, the contemporary monarch of Assyria, who early in his reign invaded the southern country, reduced several princes of the districts about Babylon to subjection, and forced Merodach-Baladan, who had succeeded his father, Yakin, in the low region, to become his tributary. No war seems to have been waged between Tiglath-Pileser and Nabonassar. The king of Babylon may have seen with satisfaction the humiliation of his immediate neighbors and rivals, and may have felt that their subjugation rather improved than weakened his own position. At any rate it tended to place him before the nation as their only hope and champion–the sole barrier which protected their country from a return of the old servitude.

Nabonassar held the throne of Babylon for fourteen years, from B.C. 747 to B.C. 733. It has generally been supposed that this period is the same with that regarded by Herodotus as constituting the reign of Semiramis. As the wife or as the mother of Nabonassar, that lady (according to many) directed the affairs of the Babylonian state on behalf of her husband or her son. The theory is not devoid of a certain plausibility, and it is no doubt possible that it may be true; but at present it is a mere conjecture, wholly unconfirmed by the native records; and we may question whether on the whole it is not more probable that the Semiramis of Herodotus is misplaced. In a former volume it was shown that a Semiramis flourished in Assyria towards the end of the ninth and the beginning of the eighth centuries B.C.—during the period, that is, of Babylonian subjection to Assyria. She may have been a Babylonian princess, and have exercised an authority in the southern capital. It would seem therefore to be more probable that she is the individual whom Herodotus intends, though he has placed her about half a century too late, than that there were two persons of the same name within so short a time, both queens, and both ruling in Mesopotamia.

Nabonassar was succeeded in the year B.C. 733 by a certain Nadius, who is suspected to have been among the independent princes reduced to subjection by Tiglath-Pileser in his Babylonian expedition. Nadius reigned only two years–from B.C. 733 to B.C. 731–when he was succeeded by Ghinzinus and Porus, two princes whose joint rule lasted from B.C. 731 to B.C. 726. They were followed by an Elulseus, who has been identified with the king of that name called by Menander king of Tyre–the Luliya of the cuneiform inscriptions; but it is in the highest degree improbable that one and the same monarch should have borne sway both in Phoenicia and Chaldaea at a time when Assyria was paramount over the whole of the intervening country. Elulseus therefore must be assigned to the same class of utterly obscure monarchs with his predecessors, Porus, Chinzinus, and Nadius; and it is only with Merodach-Baladan, his successor, that the darkness becomes a little dispelled, and we once more see the Babylonian throne occupied by a prince of some reputation and indeed celebrity.

Merodach-Baladan was the son of a monarch, who in the troublous times that preceded, or closely followed, the era of Nabonassar appears to have made himself master of the lower Babylonian territory–the true Chaldaea–and to have there founded a capital city, which he called after his own name, Bit-Yakin. On the death of his father Merodach-Baladan inherited this dominion; and it is here that we first find him, when, during the reign of Nabonassar, the Assyrians under Tiglath-Pileser II. invade the country.

Forced to accept the position of Assyrian tributary under this monarch, to whom he probably looked for protection against the Babylonian king, Nabonassar, Merodach-Baladan patiently bided his time, remaining in comparative obscurity during the two reigns of Tiglath-Pileser and Shalmaneser his successor, and only emerging contemporaneously with the troubles which ushered in the dynasty of the Sargonids. In B.C. 721–the year in which Sargon made himself master of Nineveh–Merodach-Baladan extended his authority over the upper country, and was recognized as king of Babylon. Here he maintained himself for twelve years; and it was probably at some point of time within this space that he sent ambassadors to Hezekiah at Jerusalem, with orders to inquire into the particulars of the curious astronomical marvel, or miracle, which had accompanied the sickness and recovery of that monarch. It is not unlikely that the embassy, whereof this was the pretext, had a further political object. Morodach-Baladan, aware of his inability to withstand singly the forces of Assyria, was probably anxious to form a powerful league against the conquering state, which threatened to absorb the whole of Western Asia into its dominion. Hezekiah received his advances favorably, as appears by the fact that he exhibited to him all his treasures.

Egypt, we may presume, was cognizant of the proceedings, and gave them her support. An alliance, defensive if not also offensive, was probably concluded between Egypt and Judaea on the one hand, Babylon, Susiana, and the Aramaean tribes of the middle Euphrates on the other. The league would have been formidable but for one circumstance–Assyria lay midway between the allied states, and could attack either moiety of the confederates separately at her pleasure. And the Assyrian king was not slow to take advantage of his situation. In two successive years Sargon marched his troops against Egypt and against Babylonia, and in both directions carried all before him. In Egypt he forced Sabaco to sue for peace.

In Babylonia (B.C. 710) he gained a great victory over Merodach-Baladan and his allies, the Aramaeans and Susianians, took Bit-Yakin, into which the defeated monarch had thrown himself, and gained possession of his treasures and his person. Upon this the whole country submitted; Merodach-Baladan was carried away captive into Assyria; and Sargon himself, mounting the throne, assumed the title-rarely taken by an Assyrian monarch of “King of Babylon.”

But this state of things did not continue long. Sargon died in the year B.C. 704, and coincident with his death we find a renewal of troubles in Babylonia. Assyria’s yoke was shaken off; various pretenders started up; a son of Sargon and brother of Sennacherib re-established Assyrian influence for a brief space; but fresh revolts followed.

A certain Hagisa became king of Babylon for a month. Finally, Merodach-Baladan, again appeared upon the scene, having escaped from his Assyrian prison, murdered Hagisa, and remounted the throne from which he had been deposed seven years previously. But the brave effort to recover independence failed. Sennacherib in his second year, B.C. 703, descended upon Babylonia, defeated the army which Merodach-Baladan brought against him, drove that monarch himself into exile, after a reign of six months, and re-attached his country to the Assyrian crown.

From this time to the revolt of Nabopolassar–a period of above three quarters of a century–Babylonia with few and brief intervals of revolt, continued an Assyrian fief. The assyrian kings governed her either by means of viceroys, such as Belibus, Regibelus, Mesesimordachus, and Saos-duchinus, or directly in their own persons, as was the case during the reign of Esarhaddon, and during the later years of Asshur-bani-pal.

The revolts of Babylon during this period have been described at length in the history of Assyria. Two fall into the reign of Sennacherib, one into that of Asshur-bani-pal, his grandson. In the former, Merodach-Baladan, who had not yet given up his pretensions to the lower country, and a certain Susub, who was acknowledged as king at Babylon, were the leaders. In the latter, Saos-duchinus, the Assyrian viceroy, and brother of Asshur-bani-pal, the Assyrian king, seduced from his allegiance by the hope of making himself independent headed the insurrection.

In each case the struggle was brief, being begun and ended within the year. The power of Assyria at this time so vastly preponderated over that of her ancient rival that a single campaign sufficed on each occasion of revolt to crush the nascent insurrection.

Having thus briefly sketched the history of the kingdom of Babylon from its conquest by Tiglathi-Nin to the close of the long period of Assyrian predominance in Western Asia, we may proceed to the consideration of the “Empire.” And first, as to the circumstances of its foundation.

When the Medes first assumed an aggressive attitude towards Assyria, and threatened the capital with a siege, Babylonia apparently remained unshaken in her allegiance. When the Scythian hordes spread themselves over Upper Mesopotamia and wasted with fire and sword the fairest regions under Assyrian rule, there was still no defection in this quarter. It was not till the Scythic ravages were over, and the Medes for the second time poured across Zagros into Adiabene, resuming the enterprise from which they had desisted at the time of the Scythic invasion, that the fidelity of the Southern people wavered. Simultaneously with the advance of the Medes against the Assyrian capital from the east, we hear of a force threatening it from the south, a force which can only have consisted of Susianians, of Babylonians, or of both combined. It is probable that the emissaries of Cyaxares had been busy in this region for some time before his second attack took place, and that by a concerted plan while the Medes debouched from the Zagros passes, the south rose in revolt and sent its hasty levies along the valley of the Tigris.

In this strait the Assyrian king deemed it necessary to divide his forces and to send a portion against the enemy which was advancing from the south, while with the remainder he himself awaited the coming of the Medes. The troops detached for the former service he placed under the command of a certain Nabopolassar? (Nabu-pal-uzur), who was probably an Assyrian nobleman of high rank and known capacity. Nabopolassar had orders to proceed to Babylon, of which he was probably made viceroy, and to defend the southern capital against the rebels. We may conclude that he obeyed these orders so far as to enter Babylon and install himself in office; but shortly afterwards he seems to have made up his mind to break faith with his sovereign, and aim at obtaining for himself an independent kingdom out of the ruins of the Assyrian power. Having formed this resolve, his first step was to send an embassy to Cyaxares, and to propose terms of alliance, while at the same time he arranged a marriage between his own son, Nebuchadnezzar, and Amuhia, or Amyitis (for the name is written both ways), the daughter of the Median monarch.

Cyaxares gladly accepted the terms offered; the young persons were betrothed; and Nabopolassar immediately led, or sent, a contingent of troops to join the Medes, who took an active part in the great siege which resulted in the capture and destruction of the Assyrian capital.

A division of the Assyrian Empire between the allied monarchs followed. While Cyaxares claimed for his own share Assyria Proper and the various countries dependent on Assyria towards the north and the north-west, Nabopolassar was rewarded by his timely defection, not merely by independence but by the transfer to his government of Susiana on the one hand and of the valley of the Euphrates, Syria, and Palestine on the other. The transfer appears to have been effected quietly, the Babylonian yoke being peacefully accepted in lieu of the Assyrian without the necessity arising for any application of force. Probably it appeared to the subjects of Assyria, who had been accustomed to a monarch holding his court alternately at Nineveh and at Babylon, that the new power was merely a continuation of the old, and the monarch a legitimate successor of the old line of Ninevite kings.

Of the reign of Nabopolassar the information which has come down to us is scanty. It appears by the canon of Ptolemy that he dated his accession to the throne from the year B.C. 625, and that his reign lasted twenty-one years, from B.C. 625 to B.C. 604. During the greater portion of this period the history of Babylon is a blank. Apparently the “golden city” enjoyed her new position at the head of an empire too much to endanger it by aggression; and, her peaceful attitude provoking no hostility, she was for a while left unmolested by her neighbors. Media, bound to her by formal treaty as well as by dynastic interests, could be relied upon as a firm friend; Persia was too weak, Lydia too remote, to be formidable; in Egypt alone was there a combination of hostile feeling with military strength such as might have been expected to lead speedily to a trial of strength; but Egypt was under the rule of an aged and wary prince, one trained in the school of adversity, whose years forbade his engaging in any distant enterprise, and whose prudence led him to think more of defending his own country than of attacking others. Thus, while Psammetichus lived, Babylon had little to fear from any quarter, and could afford to “give herself to pleasures and dwell carelessly.”

The only exertion which she seems to have been called upon to make during her first eighteen years of empire resulted from the close connection which had been established between herself and Media.

Cyaxares, as already remarked, proceeded from the capture of Nineveh to a long series of wars and conquests. In some, if not in all, of these he appears to have been assisted by the Babylonians, who were perhaps bound by treaty to furnish a contingent as often as he required it, Either Nabopolassar himself, or his son Nebuchadnezzar, would lead out the troops on such occasions; and thus the military spirit of both prince and people would be pretty constantly exercised.

It was as the leader of such a contingent that Nabopolassar was able on one occasion to play the important part of peacemaker in one of the bloodiest of all Cyaxares’ wars. After five years’ desperate fighting the Medes and Lydians were once more engaged in conflict when an eclipse of the sun took place. Filled with superstitious dread the two armies ceased to contend, and showed a disposition for reconciliation, of which the Babylonian monarch was not slow to take advantage. Having consulted with Syennesis of Cilicia, the foremost man of the allies on the other side, and found him well disposed to second his efforts, he proposed that the sword should be returned to the scabbard, and that a conference should be held to arrange terms of peace. This timely interference proved effectual. A peace was concluded between the Lydians and the Medes, which was cemented by a royal intermarriage: and the result was to give to Western Asia, where war and ravage had long been almost perpetual, nearly half a century of tranquility.

Successful in his mediation, almost beyond his hopes, Nabopolassar returned from Asia Minor to Babylon. He was now advanced in years, and would no doubt gladly have spent the remainder of his days in the enjoyment of that repose which is so dear to those who feel the infirmities of age creeping upon them. But Providence had ordained otherwise. In B.C. 610–probably the very year of the eclipse–Psammetichus died, and was succeeded by his son Neco, who was in the prime of life and who in disposition was bold and enterprising.

This monarch very shortly after his accession cast a covetous eye upon Syria, and in the year B.C. 608, having made vast preparations, he crossed his frontier and invaded the territories of Nabopolassar. Marching along the usual route, by the “Shephilah” and the plain of Esdraelon, he learned, when he neared Megiddo, that a body of troops was drawn up at that place to oppose him, Josiah, the Jewish king, regarding himself as bound to resist the passage through his territories of an army hostile to the monarch of whom he held his crown, had collected his forces, and, having placed them across the line of the invader’s march, was calmly awaiting in this position the approach of his master’s enemy.

Neco hereupon sent ambassadors to persuade Josiah to let him pass, representing that he had no quarrel with the Jews, and claiming a divine sanction to his undertaking. But nothing could shake the Jewish monarch’s sense of duty; and Neco was consequently forced to engage with him, and to drive his troops from their position. Josiah, defeated and mortally wounded, returned to Jerusalem, where he died. Neco pressed forward through Syria to the Euphrates; and carrying all before him, established his dominion over the whole tract lying between Egypt on the one hand, and the “Great River” upon the other. On his return three months later he visited Jerusalem, deposed Jehoahaz, a younger son of Josiah, whom the people had made king, and gave the crown to Jehoiakim, his elder brother. It was probably about this time that he besieged and took Gaza, the most important of the Philistine towns next to Ashdod.

The loss of this large and valuable territory did not at once arouse the Babylonian monarch from his inaction or induce him to make any effort for its recovery. Neco enjoyed his conquests in quiet for the space of at least three full years. At length, in the year B.C. 605, Nabopolassar, who felt himself unequal to the fatigues of a campaign, resolved to entrust his forces to Nebuchadnezzar, his son, and to send him to contend with the Egyptians. The key of Syria at this time was Carchemish, a city situated on the right bank of the Euphrates, probably near the site which was afterwards occupied by Hierapolis.

Here the forces of Neco were drawn up to protect his conquests, and here Nebuchadnezzar proceeded boldly to attack them. A great battle was fought in the vicinity of the river, which was utterly disastrous to the Egyptians, who “fled away” in confusion, and seem not to have ventured on making a second stand. Nebuchadnezzar rapidly recovered the lost territory, received the submission of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, restored the old frontier line, and probably pressed on into Egypt itself, hoping to cripple or even to crush his presumptuous adversary. But at this point he was compelled to pause. News arrived from Babylon that Nabopolassar was dead; and the Babylonian prince, who feared a disputed succession, having first concluded a hasty arrangement with Neco, returned at his best speed to his capital.

Arriving probably before he was expected, he discovered that his fears were groundless. The priests had taken the direction of affairs during his absence, and the throne had been kept vacant for him by the Chief Priest, or Head of the Order. No pretender had started up to dispute his claims. Doubtless his military prestige, and the probability that the soldiers would adopt his cause, had helped to keep back aspirants; but perhaps it was the promptness of his return, as much as anything, that caused the crisis to pass off without difficulty.

Nebuchadnezzar is the great monarch of the Babylonian Empire, which, lasting only 88 years–from B.C. 625 to B.C. 538–was for nearly half the time under his sway. Its military glory is due chiefly to him, while the constructive energy, which constitutes its especial characteristic, belongs to it still more markedly through his character and genius. It is scarcely too much to say that, but for Nebuchadnezzar, the Babylonians would have had no place in history. At any rate, their actual place is owing almost entirely to this prince, who to the military talents of an able general added a grandeur of artistic conception and a skill in construction which place him on a par with the greatest builders of antiquity.

We have no complete, or even general account of Nebuchadnezzar’s wars. Our chief, our almost sole, information concerning them is derived from the Jewish writers. Consequently, those wars only which interested these writers, in other words those whose scene is Palestine or its immediate vicinity, admit of being placed before the reader. If Nebuchadnezzar had quarrels with the Persians, or the Arabians, or the Medes, or the tribes in Mount Zagros, as is not improbable, nothing is now known of their course or issue. Until some historical document belonging to his time shall be discovered, we must be content with a very partial knowledge of the external history of Babylon during his reign. We have a tolerably full account of his campaigns against the Jews, and some information as to the general course of the wars which he carried on with Egypt and Phoenicia; but beyond these narrow limits we know nothing.

It appears to have been only a few years after Nebuchadnezzar’s triumphant campaign against Neco that renewed troubles broke out in Syria. Phoenicia revolted under the leadership of Tyre; and about the same time Jehoiakim, the Jewish king, having obtained a promise of aid from the Egyptians, renounced his allegiance. Upon this, in his seventh year (B.C. 598), Nebuchadnezzar proceeded once more into Palestine at the head of a vast army, composed partly of his allies, the Medes, partly of his own subjects. He first invested Tyre; but, finding that city too strong to be taken by assault, he left a portion of his army to continue the siege, while he himself pressed forward against Jerusalem.

On his near approach, Jehoiakim, seeing that the Egyptians did not care to come to his aid, made his submission; but Nebuchadnezzar punished his rebellion with death, and, departing from the common Oriental practice, had his dead body treated with indignity. At first he placed upon the throne Jehoia-chin, the son of the late monarch, a youth of eighteen; but three months later, becoming suspicious (probably not without reason) of this prince’s fidelity, he deposed him and had him brought a captive to Babylon, substituting in his place his uncle, Zedekiah, a brother of Jehoiakim and Jehoahaz.

Meanwhile the siege of Tyre was pressed, but with little effect. A blockade is always tedious; and the blockade of an island city, strong in its navy, by an enemy unaccustomed to the sea, and therefore forced to depend mainly upon the assistance of reluctant allies, must have been a task of such extreme difficulty that one is surprised it was not given up in despair. According to the Tyrian historians their city resisted all the power of Nebuchadnezzar for thirteen years. If this statement is to be relied on, Tyre must have been still uncaptured, when the time came for its sister capital to make that last effort for freedom in which it perished.

After receiving his crown from Nebuchadnezzar, Zedekiah continued for eight years to play the part of a faithful vassal. At length, however, in the ninth year, he fancied he saw a way to independence. A young and enterprising monarch, Uaphris–the Apries of Herodotus–had recently mounted the Egyptian throne. If the alliance of this prince could be secured, there was, Zedekiah thought, a reasonable hope that the yoke of Babylon might be thrown off and Hebrew autonomy re-established.

The infatuated monarch did not see that, do what he would, his country had no more than a choice of masters, that by the laws of political attraction Judaea must gravitate to one or other of the two great states between which it had the misfortune of lying. Hoping to free his country, he sent ambassadors to Uaphris, who were to conclude a treaty and demand the assistance of a powerful contingent, composed of both foot and horse. Uaphris received the overture favorably; and Zedekiah at once revolted from Babylon, and made preparations to defend himself with vigor. It was not long before the Babylonians arrived. Determined to crush the daring state, which, weak as it was, had yet ventured to revolt against him now for the fourth time, Nebuchadnezzar came in person, “he and all his host,” against Jerusalem, and after overcoming and pillaging the open country, “built forts” and besieged the city.

Uaphris, upon this, learning the danger of his ally, marched out of Egypt to his relief; and the Babylonian army, receiving intelligence of his approach, raised the siege and proceeded in quest of their new enemy. According to Josephus a battle was fought, in which the Egyptians were defeated; but it is perhaps more probable that they avoided an engagement by a precipitate retreat into their own country. At any rate the attempt effectually to relieve Jerusalem failed. After a brief interval the siege was renewed; a complete blockade was established; and in a year and a half from the time of the second investment, the city fell.

Nebuchadnezzar had not waited to witness this success of his arms. The siege of Tyre was still being pressed at the date of the second investment of Jerusalem, and the Chaldaean monarch had perhaps thought that his presence on the borders of Phoenicia was necessary to animate his troops in that quarter. If this was his motive in withdrawing from the Jewish capital, the event would seem to have shown that he judged wisely. Tyre, if it fell at the end of its thirteen years’ siege, must have been taken in the very year which followed the capture of Jerusalem, B.C. 585. We may suppose that Nebuchadnezzar, when he quitted Jerusalem and took up his abode at Eiblah in the Coele-Syrian valley, turned his main attention to the great Phoenician city, and made arrangements which caused its capture in the ensuing year.

The recovery of these two important cities secured to the Babylonian monarch the quiet possession thenceforth of Syria and Palestine. But still he had not as yet inflicted any chastisement upon Egypt; though policy, no less than honor, required that the aggressions of this audacious power should be punished. If we may believe Josephus, however, the day of vengeance was not very long delayed. Within four years of the fall of Tyre, B.C. 581, Nebuchadnezzar, he tells us, invaded Egypt, put Uaphris, the monarch who had succored Zedekiah, to death, and placed a creature of his own upon the throne. Egyptian history, it is true, forbids our accepting this statement as correct in all its particulars.

Uaphris appears certainly to have reigned at least as late as B.C. 569, and according to Herodotus, he was put to death, not by a foreign invader, but by a rebellious subject. Perhaps we may best harmonize the conflicting statements on the subject by supposing that Josephus has confounded two distinct invasions of Egypt, one made by Nebuchadnezzar in his twenty-third year, B.C. 581, which had no very important consequences, and the other eleven years later, B.C. 570, which terminated in the deposition of Uaphris, and the establishment on the throne of a new king, Amasis, who received a nominal royalty from Chaldaean monarch.

Such–as far as they are known–were the military exploits of this great king. He defeated Neco, recovered Syria, crushed rebellion in Judaea, took Tyre, and humiliated Egypt. According to some writers his successes did not stop here. Megasthenes made him subdue most of Africa, and thence pass over into Spain and conquer the Iberians. He even went further, and declared that, on his return from these regions, he settled his Iberian captives on the shores of the Euxine in the country between Armenia and the Caucasus! Thus Nebuchadnezzar was made to reign over an empire extending from the Atlantic to the Caspian, and from the Caucasus to the Great Sahara.

The victories of Nebuchadnezzar were not without an effect on his home administration and on the construction of the vast works with which his name is inseparably associated. It was through them that he obtained that enormous command of “naked human strength” which enabled him, without undue oppression of his own people, to carry out on the grandest scale his schemes for at once beautifying and benefiting his kingdom.

From the time when he first took the field at the head of an army he adopted the Assyrian system of forcibly removing almost the whole population of a conquered country, and planting it in a distant part of his dominions. Crowds of captives–the produce of his various wars–Jews, Egyptians, Phoenicians, Syrians, Ammonites, Moabites, were settled in various parts of Mesopotamia, more especially about Babylon. From these unfortunates forced labor was as a matter of course required; and it seems to have been chiefly, if not solely, by their exertions that the magnificent series of great works was accomplished, which formed the special glory of the Fourth Monarchy.

The chief works expressly ascribed to Nebuchadnezzar by the ancient writers are the following: He built the great wall of Babylon, which, according to the lowest estimate, must have contained more than 500,000,000 square feet of solid masonry, and must have required three or four times that number of bricks. He constructed a new and magnificent palace in the neighborhood of the ancient residence of the kings. He made the celebrated “Hanging Garden” for the gratification of his wife, Amyitis. He repaired and beautified the great temple of Belus at Babylon. He dug the huge reservoir near Sippara, said to have been 140 miles in circumference, and 180 feet deep, furnishing it with flood-gates, through which its water could be drawn off for purposes of irrigation. He constructed a number of canals, among them the Nahr Malcha or “Royal River,” a broad and deep channel which connected the Euphrates with the Tigris. He built quays and breakwaters along the shores of the Persian Gulf, and he at the same time founded the city of Diridotis or Teredon in the vicinity of that sea.

To these constructions may be added, on the authority either of Nebuchadnezzar’s own inscriptions or of the existing remains, the Birs-i-Nimrud, or great temple of Nebo at Bor-sippa; a vast reservoir in Babylon itself, called the Yapur-Shapu; an extensive embankment along the course of the Tigris, near Baghdad; and almost innumerable temples, walls, and other public buildings at Cutha, Sippara, Borsippa, Babylon, Chilmad, Bit-Digla, etc. The indefatigable monarch seems to have either rebuilt, or at least repaired, almost every city and temple throughout the entire country. There are said to be at least a hundred sites in the tract immediately about Babylon, which give evidence, by inscribed bricks bearing his legend, of the marvelous activity and energy of this king.

We may suspect that among the constructions of Nebuchadnezzar was another great work, a work second in utility to none of those above mentioned, and requiring for its completion an enormous amount of labor. This is the canal called by the Arabs the “Kerek Saideh”, or canal of Saideh, which they ascribe to a wife of Nebuchadnezzar, a cutting 400 miles in length, which commenced at Hit on the Euphrates, and was carried along the extreme western edge of the alluvium close to the Arabian frontier, finally falling into the sea at the head of the Bubian creek, about twenty miles to the west of the Shat el-Arab. The traces of this canal which still remain indicate a work of such magnitude and difficulty that we can scarcely ascribe it with probability to any monarch who has held the country since Nebuchadnezzar.

The Pallacopas, or canal of Opa (Palga Opa), which left the Euphrates at Sippara (Mosaib) and ran into a great lake in the neighborhood of Borsippa, whence the lands in the neighborhood were irrigated, may also have been one of Nebuchadnezzar’s constructions. It was an old canal, much out of repair, in the time of Alexander, and was certainly the work, not of the Persian conquerors, but of some native monarch anterior to Cyrus. The Arabs, who call it the Nahr Abba, regard it as the oldest canal in the country.

Some glimpses into the private life and personal character of Nebuchadnezzar are afforded us by certain of the Old Testament writers. We see him in the Book of Daniel at the head of a magnificent Court, surrounded by “princes, governors, and captains, judges, treasurers, councilors, and sheriffs;” waited on by eunuchs selected with the greatest care, “well-favored” and carefully educated; attended, whenever he requires it, by a multitude of astrologers and other “wise men,” who seek to interpret to him the will of Heaven. He is an absolute monarch, disposing with a word of the lives and properties of his subjects, even the highest. All offices are in his gift. He can raise a foreigner to the second place in the kingdom, and even set him over the entire priestly order. His wealth is enormous, for he makes of pure gold an image, or obelisk, ninety feet high and nine feet broad. He is religious after a sort, but wavers in his faith, sometimes acknowledging the God of the Jews as the only real deity, sometimes relapsing into an idolatrous worship, and forcing all his subjects to follow his example.

Even then, however, his polytheism is of a kind which admits of a special devotion to a particular deity, who is called emphatically “his god.” In temper he is hasty and violent, but not obstinate; his fierce resolves are taken suddenly and as suddenly repented of; he is moreover capable of bursts of gratitude and devotion, no less than of accesses of fury; like most Orientals, he is vainglorious but he can humble himself before the chastening hand of the Almighty; in his better moods he shows a spirit astonishing in one of his country and time–a spirit of real piety, self-condemnation, and self-abasement, which renders him one of the most remarkable characters in Scripture.

A few touches of a darker hue must be added to this portrait of the great Babylonian king from the statements of another contemporary, the prophet Jeremiah. The execution of Jehoi-akim, and the putting out of Zedekiah’s eyes, though acts of considerable severity, may perhaps be regarded as justified by the general practice of the age, and therefore as not indicating in Nebuchadnezzar any special ferocity of disposition.

But the ill-treatment of Jehoiakim’s dead body, the barbarity of murdering Zedekiah’s sons before his eyes, and the prolonged imprisonment both of Zedekiah and of Jehoiachin, though the latter had only contemplated rebellion, cannot be thus excused. They were unusual and unnecessary acts, which tell against the monarch who authorized them, and must be considered to imply a real cruelty of disposition, such as is observable in Sargon and Asshur-bani-pal. Nebuchadnezzar, it is plain, was not content with such a measure of severity as was needed to secure his own interests, but took a pleasure in the wanton infliction of suffering on those who had provoked his resentment.

On the other hand, we obtain from the native writer, Berosus, one amiable trait which deserves a cursory mention. Nebuchadnezzar was fondly attached to the Median princess who had been chosen for him as a wife by his father from political motives. Not content with ordinary tokens of affection, he erected, solely for her gratification, the remarkable structure which the Greeks called the “Hanging Garden.”

A native of a mountainous country, Amyitis disliked the tiresome uniformity of the level alluvium, and pined for the woods and hills of Media. It was to satisfy this longing by the best substitute which circumstances allowed that the celebrated Garden was made. Art strove to emulate nature with a certain measure of success, and the lofty rocks and various trees of this wonderful Paradise, if they were not a very close imitation of Median mountain scenery, were at any rate a pleasant change from the natural monotony of the Babylonian plain, and must have formed a grateful retreat for the Babylonian queen, whom they reminded at once of her husband’s love and of the beauty of her native country.

The most remarkable circumstance in Nebuchadnezzar’s life remains to be noticed. Towards the close of his reign, when his conquests and probably most of his great works were completed, in the midst of complete tranquility and prosperity, a sudden warning was sent him. He dreamt a strange dream, and when he sought to know its meaning, the Prophet Daniel was inspired to tell him that it portended his removal from the kingly office for the space of seven years, in consequence of a curious and very unusual kind of madness. This malady, which is not unknown to physicians, has been termed “Lycanthropy.” It consists in the belief that one is not a man but a beast, in the disuse of language, the rejection of all ordinary human food, and sometimes in the loss of the erect posture and a preference for walking on all fours. Within a year of the time that he received the warning, Nebuchadnezzar was smitten.

The great king became a wretched maniac. Allowed to indulge in his distempered fancy, he eschewed human habitations, lived in the open air night and day, fed on herbs, disused clothing, and became covered with a rough coat of hair. His subjects generally, it is probable, were not allowed to know of his condition, although they could not but be aware that he was suffering from some terrible malady. The queen most likely held the reins of power, and carried on the government in his name. The dream had been interpreted to mean that the lycanthropy would not be permanent; and even the date of recovery had been announced, only with a certain ambiguity. The Babylonians were thereby encouraged to await events, without taking any steps that would have involved them in difficulties if the malady ceased. And their faith and patience met with a reward.

After suffering obscuration for the space of seven years, suddenly the king’s intellect returned to him. His recovery was received with joy by his Court. Lords and councilors gathered about him. He once more took the government into his own hands, issued his proclamations, and performed the other functions of royalty. He was now an old man, and his reign does not seem to have been much prolonged; but “the glory of his kingdom,” his “honor and brightness” returned; his last days were as brilliant as his first: his sun set in an unclouded sky, shorn of none of the rays that had given splendor to its noonday. Nebuchadnezzar expired at Babylon in the forty-fourth year of his reign, B.C. 561, after an illness of no long duration. He was probably little short of eighty years old at his death.

SOURCE: The Seven Great Monarchies Of The Ancient Eastern World, Vol 4. (of 7): Babylon; BY: George Rawlinson

Ancient Empires: Babylon (2)

World War Two: Papuan Campaign; Japanese Threaten Australia (1)

In mid-1942, the Japanese made two attempts to take Port Moresby, a key Australian base in southeast New Guinea. These efforts were part of a plan to isolate Australia lest it be used for Counteroffensives against them. Port Moresby was an inviting target, for it stood guard over Australia’s vital Melbourne-Brisbane coastal belt, the Commonwealth’s most thickly populated and most highly industrialized area. The first attempt was turned back by the U.S. Pacific Fleet at the Battle of the Coral Sea; the second resulted in the Papuan Campaign, one of the longest and most bitterly fought campaigns of the Pacific War. The fight ostensibly was for Port Moresby, but it was Australia, no less than Port Moresby, which was in danger.

Australia’s Plight

Since late 1939 when they first began sending troops to the Middle East, the Australians had relied upon the British forces in Malaya, the base at Singapore, and the British Eastern Fleet to hold the Japanese enemy from their shores should he attack. They had sent troops, ships, and planes to Malaya before the Japanese struck; and, in mid-January 1942, with the Japanese moving forward rapidly in Burma, Malaya, and the Netherlands Indies, and the bulk of General Douglas MacArthur’s command in the Philippines already cut off on Bataan, their government had joined with other Allied governments in the Far East in the establishment of the American, British, Dutch, Australian Command (ABDACOM). General Sir Archibald P. Wavell of the British Army, and then Commander-in-chief, India, was put in supreme command. Named as his deputy was Lieutenant General George H. Brett, at the time Commanding General, United States Army Forces in Australia (USAFIA). USAFIA, a small hastily improvised service command a few weeks old, was engaged, on the one hand, in largely barren attempts to get supplies through to the Philippines by blockade runner and, on the other, in providing for the supply of American air units striking at the enemy from Darwin and advance bases in the Netherlands Indies.

General Wavell was given as his principal mission the task of holding the Malay Barrier, a defensive line which included the Malay Peninsula, Sumatra, Java, and Timor and extended eastward from Timor to the coastal waters of northwestern Australia. Australia (specifically excluded from the ABDA Area at the time) was to be used as “an essential supporting position.”

As the Allied plan of operations called for the build-up at top speed in Australia of a strong U.S. air force to strike at the enemy from forward bases in Java, USAFIA became in effect a supply echelon of ABDACOM, charged primarily with the logistical support of U.S. air operations in Java. United States aircraft and supplies would be rushed to Australia by way of the newly opened South Pacific ferry route whose island bases—Hawaii, Christmas Island, Canton Island, Samoa, Fiji, and New Caledonia—formed steppingstones all the way from the west coast of the United States to the east coast of Australia. Upon arrival the planes and matériel would be assigned to General Wavell for defense of the Barrier.

The Australians were left to defend the island continent’s eastern and northeastern approaches as best they could using their own resources, the assumption at the time being that Australia was safe as long as the Barrier held.

The trouble was that Australia was, if anything, even more exposed from the northeast than from the northwest. What was more, it had heavy obligations there, being responsible for the defense of territories in New Guinea, the Bismarck Archipelago, and the Solomon Islands. Its two territories in New Guinea—Papua, a territory of the Commonwealth, and North East New Guinea, a part of its New Guinea Mandate—together made up the eastern half of that immense island, the rest being controlled by the Dutch. Its mandated territory also included New Britain and New Ireland in the Bismarck Archipelago and Buka and Bougainville in the northern Solomons. It was, in addition, responsible for the defense of the British, or southern, Solomons, the whole New Guinea-Bismarcks-Solomons defense zone being known as the Northeast Area.

[NOTE: Msg, CG AAF to Gen Brett, No. 59, 2 Jan 42, copy in AG 381 (1-1-42) Misc, DRB HRS, AGO; Msg, Gen Brett to Gen George C. Marshall, No. CR 0139, CM-IN 30, 23 Jan 42; Maj Gen Julian F. Barnes, Rpt of Orgn and Activities USAFIA, copy in OCMH files. The command had been established on 22 December as the United States Forces in Australia (USFIA) upon the arrival at Brisbane of the Pensacola convoy, a 4,600-man movement of air corps and field artillery troops originally destined for Manila and diverted to Australia upon the outbreak of hostilities with Japan. General Brett, a noted air corps officer, and then a Major General, reached Australia by air from Chungking on 31 December and took command, becoming commander of United States Army Forces in Australia (USAFIA) when USFIA took that name on 5 January. For a full account of the contemporary operations of the United States Army Forces in the Far East (USAFFE), General MacArthur’s command in the Philippines, and of the blockade-running activity, see Louis Morton, The Fall of the Philippines, UNITED STATES ARMY IN WORLD WAR II (Washington, 1953).]

The means available to the Australians for the defense of this vast area and of Australia itself were very limited. By late 1941 Australia, a country of only a little over seven million people, had already been at war for more than two years. Loyally joining the mother country in the fight against the European Axis, the Australians had dispersed their land, sea, and air strength around the world. When the Japanese struck, nine squadrons of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) were serving with the British in the United Kingdom, the Middle East, and Malaya. Some 8,800 Australians were with the Royal Air Force (RAF). Major units of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN), which then consisted principally of two heavy and three light cruisers, had just reached home waters after months of service with the Royal Navy in the Mediterranean Sea and Indian Ocean.

Australia’s only trained and equipped troops, four divisions of the Australian Imperial Forces (AIF), the overseas volunteer force, were nearly all abroad. The 8th Australian Infantry Division, less one brigade, was in Malaya. The remaining three divisions, the 6th, 7th, and 9th, were in the Middle East. By agreement with Mr. Winston S. Churchill, the British Prime Minister, the 6th and 7th Divisions’ six brigades, with corps and service troops, had been ordered to Malaya on 8 December, but their leading elements were not due to arrive there until early March. Two of the remaining three battalions of the 8th Division had been sent to the Netherlands Indies to reinforce the Dutch garrisons at Amboina and Timor. The last battalion was at Rabaul in New Britain, the main Australian base in the Bismarck Archipelago, and a few hundred troops, part of an independent (Commando) company, were scattered through the islands north and south of Rabaul. The defense of the mainland and of its main outpost in New Guinea, Port Moresby, was left to the militia.

Australia’s home defenses were in a desperate state. Most of the 165 combat aircraft which it had in the Pacific when the Japanese struck were in Malaya. The total bombing force available for Australia’s defense consisted of twenty-nine Hudson medium bombers and fourteen Catalina flying boats, forty-three aircraft in all. Inasmuch as Australia’s only fighter-type planes, obsolete Brewster Buffaloes, were in Malaya, RAAF units defending the homeland had no choice but to employ in lieu of fighter planes the Australian-built Wirraway, a type of advance trainer virtually useless in aerial combat.

The ground forces were not much better off. Except for training cadres and an Australian Imperial Forces armored division without tanks, there were virtually no trained soldiers left in Australia. The bulk of those at hand were militia troops who would need months of training before they would be ready for combat.

The Australian home defense organization, the Australian Military Forces (AMF) had two components: the Permanent Forces or regular army (28,000 men in September 1939), and the Citizen Military Forces (CMF), the conscripted home defense force then liable for service only in Australia and Papua. The AMF was poorly armed. It was deficient in field equipment and, until February 1942, when the full mobilization of the CMF was finally completed, did not have even its minimum quota of small arms. It was organized into seven militia divisions, but these were at best only training units, which had just begun to train their personnel on a full-time basis.

It had been planned to keep the militia force at a constant strength of 250,000 men, but during 1941 only half that number had been in the training camps at any one time. The basis of call, three months in camp and three months at home, had insured that Australia’s overtaxed war industry would not be robbed of men it could ill afford to lose, but it had not done much to further the training of the troops, most of whom were scarcely beyond the recruit stage when full-time training began.

An organized reserve of about 50,000 men, the Volunteer Defence Corps (VDC), was also available for defense of the mainland. Made up principally of veterans of World War I, who served in their home districts on a part-time basis without pay, the VDC at the outset had to use whatever weapons were at hand, including in some cases shotguns and antiquated fowling pieces.

The Australian Chiefs of Staff, the staff officers charged with the security of Australia, were faced with the problem of how best to use their inadequate forces in its defense. To begin with, they had to decide whether to make the principal defense effort in Australia or on its periphery, in the Northeast Area.

After pondering the situation, the Chiefs of Staff came to the conclusion that, with untrained, ill-equipped troops, a critical lack of aircraft, and insufficient naval forces, an effective defense of the forward bases to the northeast, especially the base at Rabaul, was out of the question. Additional troops committed to their reinforcement would probably be lost, and the only result would be to reduce by that much the forces available for the final defense of the mainland. On 15 December 1941 they therefore recommended to the Australian war cabinet that the existing garrison at Rabaul, and lesser garrisons in its vicinity, be neither withdrawn nor increased, but that the garrison at Port Moresby (which in their opinion had some chance of survival because of its more favorable geographical position) be increased from a battalion to a brigade group, the largest force that could be maintained there out of Australia’s slender resources.

The rest of Australia’s available manpower and resources would be concentrated on the mainland, the assumption being that as matters stood there was no choice but to make the fight for Australia in Australia itself.

The war cabinet accepted these recommendations, and the available troops were deployed accordingly. Because of Australia’s vast area, its 12,000-mile coast line, and the slowness and general inadequacy at the time of its road and rail communications, a relatively static local defense of the country’s most vital areas was adopted. Provision was made, however, for a mobile reserve in each military district or command in order to give the defense as much flexibility as possible. The main concentration of forces was in the Brisbane—Newcastle—Sydney-Melbourne area, the industrial and agricultural heart of Australia. Smaller forces were deployed in South Australia, Western Australia, and Tasmania, and independent garrisons were established at Darwin, Townsville, Cairns, and Thursday Island. A reinforced battalion was sent to Port Moresby, and the garrisons at Rabaul and in the rest of the Northeast Area were left to fend for themselves.

The situation to the northeast was exceedingly grave. Except for Port Moresby, the Northeast Area was held by only token forces, and even Port Moresby was in no position to defend itself successfully. Its strength, with the arrival of the promised reinforcements in January, was 3,000 men, but the troops were only partially trained, and their support—a 6-inch coastal battery, a 3.7-inch antiaircraft battery, a few antitank guns, and a handful of Catalinas and Hudsons—was scarcely such as to give any confidence that the place could be held against a full-scale Japanese attack.

To the northwest of Port Moresby, high in the mountains of North East New Guinea, there was another, much smaller, force. It consisted of a single platoon of the 1st Australian Independent Company, AIF, and a few hundred men of the New Guinea Volunteer Rifles (NGVR), a local militia recruited in Papua and territories of the Mandate. This force held the 3,000-foot-high Bulolo Valley, an area famous in prewar days for its gold mining activity.

The valley, which boasted a small mountain airfield at Wau, was most strategically situated. Airplanes based at Wau were within easy flying distance of the great bight known as the Huon Gulf, and a series of native trails connected the valley with Lae and Salamaua, the two most important points on the gulf. Too weak even to attempt to hold Lae and Salamaua, the NGVR and AIF troops based themselves principally in the valley intending, when the Japanese came, to harass them from there and, later on when greater strength was available, to drive them out.

Rabaul, a fine seaport at the northeast tip of New Britain, had two good airfields and a small coastal fort. Its 1,400-man garrison consisted of the 2/22 Infantry Battalion, AIF, a 100-man formation of the NGVR, a small detachment of the RAAF, and a few officers of the RAN. In support were two discarded 6-inch naval guns, two 3-inch antiaircraft guns, seven Wirraways, and a few Hudsons.

[NOTE: The prefix “2/” in front of the 22 in 2/22 Battalion indicates that this was the second time that the 22d Battalion was constituted an AIF unit.]

The rest of the Northeast Area was held by the 1st Australian Independent Company, AIF (less the platoon in the Bulolo Valley), a force of about three hundred men. Detachments of the company were stationed at Lorengau in the Admiralties, at Kavieng in New Ireland, and at Buka and Tanambogo in the Solomons where there were also a few RAAF Catalinas and some RAAF personnel. In addition, a part of the company’s strength was to be found at Vila, in the New Hebrides.

Also stationed at strategic points in the Northeast Area was a small band of picked observers known as the Coast Watchers. Usually long-time residents of the area which they were to keep under surveillance, they had the duty of remaining behind when the Japanese came and reporting on their movements by radio. The Coast Watchers, who had long prepared themselves for the task, did not have long to wait.

The Fall of Rabaul

By the end of December, the Japanese had thoroughly reconnoitered the Bismarck Archipelago and the Lae—Salamaua area. Beginning on 4 January, four-engine flying boats and carrier aircraft bombed Rabaul repeatedly, forcing the Hudsons to withdraw to Australia. On 20 January all the Wirraways were shot down in a raid by one hundred carrier planes. A day later carrier-based dive bombers literally blasted both coastal guns out of the ground. The stage was set for the conquest of Rabaul.

The Japanese force chosen to take Rabaul was the same force that had taken Guam. It was to be the main force also in the Japanese attempt to take Port Moresby. Known as the South Seas Detachment, or Nankai Shitai, it had been detached on 8 December 1941 from the year-old 55th Infantry Division, then stationed on the island of Shikoku, Japan. The detachment was roughly five thousand strong. It consisted of the 144th Infantry Regiment and supporting divisional troops and was under the command of Major General Tomitaro Horii, an experienced general officer who had previously been in command of the 55th Division Infantry Group, from whose headquarters his staff had been drawn.

On 4 January 1942, Imperial General Headquarters ordered General Horii, then still stationed at Guam, to proceed as soon as possible with the capture of Rabaul. The commander in chief of the 4th Fleet, Vice Admiral Shigeyoshi Inouye, was ordered to support General Horii in the Rabaul operation and, simultaneously with the capture of Rabaul, to use his naval troops to take Kavieng. On 8 January (after having in the meantime flown to Truk and concluded an agreement with Admiral Inouye as to the fleet’s part in the operation), General Horii issued orders for the capture of Rabaul. D Day was to be 23 January, and the landings were to begin at approximately 0100.

The South Seas Detachment left Guam for Rabaul on 16 January. The transports were escorted by units of the 4th Fleet, and by the two fast carriers, Kaga and Akagi, detached for the operation from Admiral Chuichi Nagumo’s Special Striking Force, the same carrier force that had attacked Pearl Harbor. The convoy was joined off Truk by the naval task force which was to take Kavieng, and the combined force headed from Truk directly for the Bismarcks.

The naval landing forces detailed to take Kavieng and points in its immediate vicinity met with no opposition. The small Kavieng garrison, which sought at the last moment to escape in a schooner, was captured intact when the vessel came under the guns of a Japanese destroyer.

The main body of the invasion convoy arrived off Rabaul on the night of 22-23 January and, a few minutes after midnight, began landing at Karavia and Simpson Harbor. Landings at Raluana Point and Vulcan Island followed. The Australians, who had only mortars, machine guns, and rifles, resisted stoutly from prepared positions and, though almost completely surrounded, continued to fight through the night and early morning: By 1000 the situation was seen to be hopeless, and the order was given to withdraw. Some of the Australian troops held their positions and fought to the death; the rest took to the hills with Japanese patrols in pursuit. Many of the fleeing Australians were caught and massacred, but four hundred of them managed to elude the Japanese and, after a harrowing march that tested their every ounce of endurance, reached the south and north coasts of New Britain more dead than alive. There other Australians, who had reached the scene from New Guinea, searched them out and took them to safety in small boats.

With the fall of Rabaul, the forward defense of the Northeast Area crumbled. All that was left of it was the garrison at Port Moresby, the troops in the Bulolo Valley, and a handful of commandos in the Admiralties and the Solomons who were prepared to leave or “go bush” at a moment’s notice.

The damage had been done. The Japanese were now in position to move at abound into North East New Guinea and the Solomons. Port Moresby and the Allied communications line to Australia, three of whose main bases—New Caledonia, Fiji, and Samoa—were within striking distance of the southern Solomons, were in danger.

The Collapse of the ABDA Area

The Combined Chiefs of Staff, aware by this time of Australia’s perilous position, began making the best provision they could to strengthen its defenses. On 24 January at the request of the Australian Prime Minister, Mr. John Curtin, they ordered that Darwin and its environs be incorporated in the ABDA Area; five days later they took their first measures in defense of Port Moresby and Australia’s vital east coast.

To meet Mr. Curtin’s insistent demand for fighter planes for Port Moresby, the Combined Chiefs gave General Wavell the alternatives of either providing the place with fighter aircraft or taking over its defense himself. Then, in a measure designed to throw a protecting naval cordon around Port Moresby and the east coast, they established the ANZAC Area, a new strategic command covering principally the ocean areas to the east and northeast of Australia, in which a combined Australian-American force, ANZAC Force, was to operate with the support of the U.S. Pacific Fleet. ANZAC Force—the Australian cruisers Australia, Canberra, and Hobart, the U.S. cruiser Chicago, four destroyers, and a few corvettes—under command of Vice Admiral Herbert F. Leary, USN, was in operation by 7 February. To assist him in the discharge of his mission, Admiral Leary was assigned a squadron of B-17’s from Hawaii. The bombers reached Townsville, Australia, on 17-18 February and several days later bombed Rabaul, the first U.S. bombers to do so.

But if Port Moresby now had a modicum of protection from the sea, its garrison continued as before without fighter planes. The direction from the Combined Chiefs to the contrary, General Wavell was able neither to provide it with aircraft nor to take over its defense. Indeed, so badly had things gone in Wavell’s area that he soon found himself unable to hold the Barrier with the means at hand.

The strong U.S. Army Air Force which was to have retrieved the tactical situation on the Barrier failed to reach Java in time. Of some 260 fighter planes allotted to the project, only thirty-six actually reached Java. While forty-nine heavy bombers got there, a portion arrived too late to affect the issue, and the rest, because of a critical lack of fighter protection, antiaircraft, and maintenance personnel, were soon reduced to a state approaching impotence. By the third week in February the ABDA Air Force (which had never been able to put more than fifteen heavy bombers in the air at any one time) had, in all, ten heavy bombers, seven dive bombers, and thirteen fighter planes in operative condition.

Malaya, against which the Japanese marshaled their strongest force, was the first to go. On 15 February the Malay Campaign came to an end with the surrender of Singapore. More than 64,000 troops (15,375 of them Australians), their guns, transport, and equipment were surrendered that day to the Japanese, in what Mr. Churchill has called “the worst disaster and greatest capitulation of British History.”

The Japanese by this time had invaded Borneo and the Celebes, taken Amboina, and landed in Sumatra. Now they could concentrate on the reduction of the Indies. On 19 February they bombed Darwin into rubble, and the next day began landing on Timor, Darwin’s closest neighbor in the Indies. Opposition on the island was quickly overcome, except for an Australian independent company in the hills of Portuguese Timor, most of whose men were out of reach of the Japanese when the landings began. Swollen by fugitives from the fighting elsewhere on the island, the company was to operate guerrilla-fashion from the hills for more than a year thereafter, scourging the Japanese garrison with hit-and-run raids, but scarcely threatening its control of the island. [NOTE 1]

The Barrier was now completely breached. With no further reason for being, ABDACOM was dissolved on 25 February. General Wavell returned at once to India, and General Brett to Australia, where each resumed his former command.[NOTE 2] The defense of Java fell to the Dutch, who, disregarding the odds, chose to fight on, though the struggle by this time was clearly hopeless and the early fall of the island was a foregone conclusion.

With the Japanese about to overrun the Indies, northwest Australia, and especially the Darwin area, lay open to invasion. But whether the Japanese would find it profitable to stage an invasion there was another matter. The area, mostly desert and very sparsely settled, possessed only the most tenuous of communications and, by the only available road, was more than a thousand miles from Australia’s developed and inhabited areas on the other side of the continent. Even though the Japanese could, if they wished, take Darwin, it was clear that they would have to think long and carefully before they undertook operations in Australia’s parched and inhospitable Northern Territory.

[NOTE 1: Memo, Australian Dept of External Affairs for the Minister, 30 Aug 42, sub: Summary Report on Portuguese Timor during the period December 1941 to June 1942, by Mr. David Ross, Australian Consul at Dili, who arrived in Darwin from Timor on 10 July 1942, copy in G-3 Jnl, GHQ SWPA; Buggy, Pacific Victory, pp. 51-59.]

[NOTE 2: Msg, Gen Marshall to Gen MacArthur, No. 1083, 24 Feb 42; Msg, Gen Wavell to Gen MacArthur, No. 1088, 25 Feb 42. Both in AG 381, Sec 2c. Despatch Supreme Commander ABDA Area (London, 1948), p. 16; Gen Barnes, Rpt of Orgn and Activities, USAFIA. Upon General Brett’s resumption of command, General Barnes, who since 25 January had served as Commanding General, USAFIA, became Deputy Commander. Colonel Stephen J. Chamberlin, who had served as chief of staff under Barnes since the latter’s assumption of command, continued as chief of staff under General Bret. Barnes, who had reached Australia on 22 December in the Pensacola convoy as a Brigadier General, had also served briefly as commanding general of the predecessor command, USFIA. Colonel Chamberlin, who had reached Australia by air on 9 January directly from Washington, had for a time been its G-4.]

The Occupation of Lae and Salamaua

Things had gone well for the enemy. He had thus far triumphed everywhere and was now ready for his first move onto the New Guinea mainland. On 2 February Imperial General Headquarters ordered the 4th Fleet and the South Seas Detachment to take Lae and Salamaua, and at the proper time Port Moresby. Tulagi in the southern Solomons was also to be occupied, on a date as yet unspecified, in order, as the instructions put it, “to bring further pressure on Australia.

On 16 February, after some preliminary discussions, General Horii and Admiral Inouye concluded an agreement for joint operations against Lae and Salamaua, under the terms of which Navy troops were to take Lae and Army troops Salamaua. The landings were to be made before the end of the month, and the Navy was to supply the permanent garrison for both points when their seizure had been completed.

The landings were delayed. The U.S. aircraft carrier Lexington and a protecting force of four heavy cruisers and ten destroyers had moved into the area on 20 February with orders to break up the gathering Japanese concentrations at Rabaul in concert with the ANZAC B-17’s at Townsville. Japanese reconnaissance detected the Lexington force while it was still some 350 miles from Rabaul. After a running fight which cost the Japanese eighteen bombers, the carrier force ran short of oil and withdrew. The clash with the Lexington force upset the Japanese timetable for the Lae-Salamaua operation, which, as a result, was postponed to 8 March.

The forces chosen to make the landings were the 2d Battalion, 144th Infantry, a unit of the South Seas Detachment which was to take Salamaua, a battalion of the Maizuru 2d Special Naval Landing Force accompanied by a naval construction unit of 400 men, and a naval base unit about 1,500 strong which with the Maizuru troops was to constitute the garrison force. The 144th Infantry troops would return to Rabaul as soon as the area was secured.

[NOTE: South Seas Det Opns, pp. 10, 11; 1st Demob Bur, G-2 Hist Sec, GHQ FEC, Naval Account, Japanese Invasion Eastern New Guinea, Japanese Studies in World War II, No. 100, pp. 5-9; 1st Demob Bur, G-2 Hist Sec, GHQ FEC, 18th Army Opns, I, Japanese Studies in World War II, No. 41, p. 4; AMF, Interr of Lt Gen Hatazo Adachi, formerly CG 18th Army, and members of his staff, by O/C 5th Mil Hist Fld Team, AMF, Rabaul. All in OCMH files. ALF, History of the Lae-Salamaua Garrison (Japanese), 1 Apr 44, copy in DRB HRS, AGO.]

The landings were preceded by heavy air attacks on Lae, Salamaua, Wau, Bulolo, and Port Moresby, beginning 2 March. The invasion convoy of three cruisers, eight destroyers, a seaplane tender, and several transports and cargo ships left Rabaul on the night of 5 March and made for New Guinea along the south coast of New Britain. Its progress was uncontested, and the convoy reached the Huon Gulf shortly before midnight, 7 March. At 0100, 8 March, the 2d Battalion, 144th Infantry, made an unopposed night landing at Salamaua, and completed the occupation within the hour. At 0230 the Maizuru troops occupied Lae, eighteen miles to the north. They too met no opposition, for the NGVR, after putting both Lae and Salamaua to the torch, withdrew its few troops to the Bulolo Valley, leaving only light patrols behind.

On 9 March, the day that the Java garrison finally surrendered, a flight of ANZAC B-17’s from Townsville tried to prevent the Japanese from consolidating their newly won positions on the Huon Gulf. The attack was unsuccessful, but the enemy landing forces were not to go unscathed.

After the abortive attempt of the Lexington to raid Rabaul in late February, a larger carrier force, comprising the Lexington and Yorktown, supported by eight heavy cruisers and fourteen destroyers, including cruisers and destroyers from ANZAC Force, was assembled in early March to complete the mission. The Japanese landings, which the carrier forces might have prevented had they struck earlier, caused an immediate change in plan. On 10 March 104 carrier planes took off from the Lexington and the Yorktown, which were then in the Gulf of Papua, flew through a pass in the Owen Stanley Mountains, and struck at enemy concentrations on the Huon Gulf.

The bombing was effective, and eight ANZAC B-17’s and six RAAF Hudsons attacked when the carrier strike was over and finished the job. In addition to sinking three ships and damaging four, the Allied planes killed 130 Japanese troops and wounded 245. The ANZAC B-17’s attacked again the next day and did heavy damage to buildings, runways, and piers at both Lae and Salamaua.

Though the Allied air attacks of 10 and 11 March were unusually successful, they did not seriously disturb the efforts of the Japanese to establish themselves on the Huon Gulf. Work had been begun at once to improve the airfields, the first fighter planes from Rabaul arriving there 10 March, just after the main carrier attack. By 13 March the area was considered secure. The Navy troops took over, and the 2d Battalion, 144th Infantry, left for Rabaul, reaching it safely on the 15th.

The Plan to Isolate Australia

Allied headquarters during early March was alive with conjecture as to what the Japanese planned to do next. There were profound differences of opinion. General Brett (who had resumed command of USAFIA upon his return from the Indies) was convinced that the Japanese would invade Australia from the northwest, since they had large concentrations of troops, planes, and naval task forces in the Java area and could, if they chose, turn them against Darwin at a moment’s notice. The Australian Chiefs of Staff took a contrary view. In an estimate of the situation of 5 March, prepared by Major General Sydney F. Rowell, Deputy Chief of the General Staff, they concluded that the real threat lay elsewhere.

The Chiefs of Staff reasoned that if the Japanese bothered to take Darwin at all their aim would be to prevent its use by the Allies as a “spring-board” from which to attack them, rather than to use it as a “stepping stone” for the invasion of Australia. As the Australians saw it, the main object of the Japanese was “to cut the air and shipping lines of communication between United States and Australia with a view to preventing the development of Australia as a base for eventual offensive operations.”

They thought that the Japanese could best achieve this aim by occupying New Caledonia and Fiji. Nevertheless, since Port Moresby threatened Japanese lines of communication, the Australians believed it only natural that the enemy would act to eliminate that threat first. They could see no reason why the Japanese should not attack Port Moresby immediately, provided they were prepared to run the risk of meeting the naval units of ANZAC Force and units available to it from the U.S. Pacific Fleet.

Should the Japanese choose to attack New Caledonia first, their lines of communication would be longer, and their risk of encountering ANZAC units and reinforcements from the Pacific Fleet would be correspondingly greater; furthermore, Port Moresby would be left as a hostile base on their flank. For that reason the Australian Chiefs thought out Moresby would be attacked first, and New Caledonia four to six weeks afterward.

Though he did not know it at the time, General Rowell had guessed the enemy’s intent exactly. In the orders of 2 February for the landings at Lae and Salamaua, Imperial General Headquarters had spoken of moves against Port Moresby and Tulagi but had issued no specific orders pertaining to those operations. On 9 March the 4th Fleet, in a companion move to the landings on the Huon Gulf, sent a landing party to Buka, in the northern Solomons; on the 15th the Army and Navy Sections of Imperial General Headquarters met to decide on some definitive line of action with regard to Australia.

The representatives of the Navy Section pointed to an ominous increase in air and sea activity between the United States and Australia as evidence that Australia was to be used as a base for counterattacks against them. They urged therefore that Australia be seized whatever the cost. The representatives of the Army Section, though equally perturbed by the prospect that Australia might be used as a base from which attacks would be launched against them, were strongly opposed to the invasion. It would require ten or more divisions to take and hold Australia, they pointed out, and they did not have at the time “the munitions, the reinforcements, or the ships,” for such an operation. The Army gained its point. Instead of approving an operation against the Australian mainland, the Japanese agreed to seize Port Moresby as planned and then, with the parallel occupation of the southern Solomons, “to isolate Australia” by seizing Fiji, Samoa, and New Caledonia.

The plan said nothing about invading Australia; it did not have to. If everything went well and all objectives were taken, there would be time enough to begin planning for the invasion of the Australian mainland. Meanwhile, it would be possible to squeeze Australia and render it harmless without invasion and at much less cost.

It was clear from the circumstances that the Japanese had not given up the idea of invading Australia. They had merely laid it aside in favor of measures that, if successful, would make invasion—in the event they found it necessary later on—a comparatively easy matter. The immediate object was to isolate Australia, and the plan for doing so was ready to go into effect. Japanese naval aviation was now within 170 air miles of Port Moresby, close fighter distance.

The 4th Fleet was spreading rapidly through the northern Solomons, with the southern Solomons next. The final step, after Port Moresby was taken, would be to seize New Caledonia, Fiji, and Samoa, thereby severing the line of communications between the United States and Australia.

The Japanese had already taken Singapore and the Indies and, with General MacArthur’s main force hopeless and starving on Bataan, would soon complete the reduction of the Philippines. Their success thus far had been astounding, and now after only three months of operations they were threatening Australia, the last major position still left to the Allies in the southwest Pacific. The danger to the Commonwealth was immediate. If it was to be organized as a base for Allied offensive operations, it could not be permitted to succumb to the Japanese, whatever their designs upon it. The Allied high command, seeing the danger, already had under consideration measures that sought both to strengthen Australia’s defense and to organize it for future offensive action.

SOURCE: Victory in Papua, BY: Samuel Milner

World War Two: New Guinea-Solomons; Japanese Actions 1942-43

World War Two: Papuan Campaign: Preparing the Defense (2)

World War Two: Imperial Japanese Navy: British Borneo 1941

World War Two: Fall of Philippines; End of Resistance (5-32)

General Wainwright’s decision on the morning of 6 May, to surrender to the enemy was the beginning of a strange series of events. Considerable difficulty was encountered in arranging a meeting with General Homma and the conference that followed took an entirely unexpected turn. It was not until midnight of the 6th, fourteen hours after the men on Corregidor had destroyed their weapons, that the Japanese agreed to a cessation of hostilities.

The surrender of scattered detachments hiding out in the mountains of north Luzon and of General Sharp’s Visayan-Mindanao Force presented even greater difficulties. There the last of the troops did not lay down their arms until almost a month later: Only then did the Japanese admit that organized resistance in the Philippines had ended and accord to their captives the status of prisoners of war.

General Wainwright’s Orders

Unlike General King, who had been forced to violate his instructions and keep from his superior any knowledge of his decision to surrender the Luzon Force, Wainwright was able to make his decision unhindered by restrictions from higher headquarters. He had not always had this freedom of action. Until 9 April he had been bound, as had General MacArthur before him, by President Roosevelt’s order “to fight as long as there remains any possibility of resistance.” On that day, the day of General King’s surrender, the President modified this order and gave General Wainwright full authority to act on his own judgment.

The decision to change Wainwright’s instructions had been initiated in Washington just before the surrender of Bataan. Alerted by reports from MacArthur and Wainwright, Major General Joseph T. McNamey, acting in Marshall’s absence, had informed the President on 8 April (Washington time) that the situation on Bataan was extremely serious and the collapse of its defense imminent.

Reminding President Roosevelt of his instructions to MacArthur, “issued at a time when it appeared necessary to make very clear . . . the nature of the defense expected,” McNamey suggested that the President might wish now to modify these instructions. “It is possible,” he wrote, “that in the literal execution of these orders General Wainwright may be tempted to carry them through to an illogical extreme. I think there should be no doubt that his resolution and sense of duty will preclude any untoward or precipitous action, but on the other hand, it is possible that greater latitude in the final decision should be allowed him.”

President Roosevelt accepted McNamey’s suggestion readily, and that same day, 8 April-the 9th, Philippine time-approved the text of a message for Wainwright modifying his earlier instructions. Explaining that he was changing his orders “because of the state to which your forces have been reduced by circumstances over which you have had no control,” the President told Wainwright that he was free to make “any decision affecting the future of the Bataan garrison.” “I … have every confidence,” the President wrote, “that whatever decision you may sooner or later be forced to make will be dictated only by the best interests of your country and your magnificent troops.”

Roosevelt’s message to Wainwright was not sent directly to Corregidor but went instead to General MacArthur in Australia with instructions that it be forwarded to Corregidor if he, MacArthur, concurred “both as to substance and timing.” The message reached MacArthur at about the same time as Wainwright’s dispatch carrying the news that Bataan had surrendered. Since, in his view, “the action taken on Bataan anticipated the authority conveyed in the message,” he saw no need to change Wainwright’s instructions-In effect, this was a “non-concurrence” of the President’s message to Wainwright, which remained on his desk.

But the progress of events had already invalidated MacArthur’s decision. The President, on hearing news of the surrender of Bataan and before receiving MacArthur’s reply, apparently decided that Wainwright needed assurance of support immediately and he sent him the text of his message, including the instructions given MacArthur, from whom, he explained, no reply had yet been received. “Whatever decision you have made,” Roosevelt told Wainwright, “has been dictated by the best interests of your troops and of the country.” He then went on to express the hope that Wainwright would be able to hold Corregidor, but assured him “of complete freedom of action” and “full confidence” in any decision he might be forced to make.

General Wainwright received the message on 10 April and sent an immediate acknowledgment expressing his understanding of the change in instructions as well as “heartfelt gratitude” for the President’s confidence in his judgment. At the same time, he informed MacArthur of the President’s message to him and of his reply.

Wainwright waited in vain for a response from MacArthur. Although his new orders had come directly from the President, he was aware that initially they had been sent to his immediate superior for approval. That approval had never been given, and Wainwright was understandably anxious to have it. On 13 April, therefore, he raised the subject again in a message to MacArthur.

The President, he reminded MacArthur, had stated in his original dispatch that it was to be forwarded if he, MacArthur, concurred. Since he had not yet heard from MacArthur on the subject, Wainwright wrote, he could not avoid the conclusion that MacArthur did not approve of the new orders. The President, Wainwright asserted, “appears to leave to my discretion the decision which I must ultimately make …. If I am not correct in this assumption I hope you will so advise me.”

General MacArthur’s reply left no doubt that he considered Wainwright free now to make his own decisions. He explained why he had not transmitted the original dispatch, and then went on to say that the President’s later message “came direct to you … and now gives you complete authority to use your own judgment.” MacArthur’s reply put an end to the correspondence on Wainwright’s instructions. The final decision was his, and three weeks later, when he decided to surrender, he did so entirely on his own responsibility.

The Surrender of Corregidor

At 1030 on the morning of 6 May General Beebe stepped up to the microphone of the “Voice of Freedom” and in tired but clear tones read a message addressed to General Homma “or the present commander in chief of the Imperial Japanese Forces on Luzon.” The message was from General Wainwright and it contained his offer to surrender.

At about the same time that Beebe was reading Wainwright’s message to Homma, the radio operator was flashing a message in code to General Sharp on Mindanao. This message represented Wainwright’s last desperate effort to salvage what he could from defeat. In it he released to General Sharp’s command all forces in the Philippines, except those on the four fortified islands in Manila Bay, and instructed Sharp to report to General MacArthur immediately for orders. “I believe,” he told Sharp, “you will understand the motive behind this order.”

Wainwright’s motive was clear; it was simply an effort to surrender as few men as possible. By relinquishing command of all troops except those in the Harbor Defenses, Wainwright hoped to persuade General Homma to accept the view that since the troops in the south were not under his control he could not properly be held responsible for their surrender. Had he known of General King’s failure to persuade the Japanese to accept the surrender of the Luzon Force, Wainwright might well have hesitated before risking the success of the surrender negotiations by so transparent a ruse.

The message Beebe read that morning, therefore, offered the surrender only of the four islands in Manila Bay, “together with all military and naval personnel and all existing stores and equipment,” by noon of the 6th. At that time the white flag would be run up over Corregidor and its garrison as well as those of the other islands would cease fire, unless the Japanese attempted a landing in force. The message also covered in detail arrangements for a meeting between Wainwright and the Japanese commander.

At noon, “if all of your firing and aerial bombardment has ceased,” Beebe told the Japanese, Wainwright would send two staff officers by boat to Cabcaben to meet Homma’s representative. This Japanese officer should be empowered to name the time and place of meeting of the two commanders. When these details had been settled and the American officer had returned to Corregidor, Wainwright would proceed to the designated point and there make the formal surrender to General Homma.

When General Beebe completed the reading of the surrender message, it was broadcast in Japanese. No reply was received and the Japanese gave no indication that they had heard either broadcast. Shells from Bataan continued to fall on Corregidor and the Japanese troops on the island, who had been instructed to disregard a flag of truce and to attack until directed otherwise by 14th Army headquarters, continued their advance toward the east entrance of Malinta Tunnel. At 1100 and again at 1145 the message was rebroadcast, in English and Japanese, but still there was no reply. Promptly at noon, the white flag was hoisted over the highest point of the island and the troops on the four islands ceased fire.

[Other flags were raised at the entrances to Malinta Tunnel. USA vs. Homma, Prosecution Exhibit 418, Deposition of Gen Moore. In international law, the white flag indicates only a desire to communicate with the enemy; it does not require the enemy to cease fire. FM 27-10, Rules of Land Warfare, p. 62.]

During the morning all arms larger than .45-caliber had been destroyed. The marines, misreading the order, had begun to smash their small arms as well, and others had followed suit until an officer had halted the destruction. All classified papers and maps had been torn or burned and lay in shreds and ashes on the floor of the tunnel. The codes and radio equipment had been smashed beyond recognition and the treasury of the Commonwealth Government reduced to trash. It took Colonel John R. Vance, the finance officer, and his assistants several hours to cut up with scissors more than two million pesos. By noon, when the destruction was completed, Malinta Tunnel presented a scene of “unbelievable disorder, congestion, and confusion.”

The men in the tunnel had reached the end of their physical and mental resources. They were dirty, hungry, and completely exhausted. Some reacted violently to the order to destroy their arms and swore with bitter vehemence, but most were too tired to have any feelings at all. The quartermaster lateral had been thrown open and each man took what he wanted and went off to a quiet corner to eat his last meal before the Japanese moved in. Some lay down and went to sleep; others stared vacantly into space. “Such a sad, sad day … ,” wrote Mrs. Williams. “I can’t tell you just how terrible this is.”

When the Japanese failed to reply to the noon broadcast or to honor the flag of truce, Wainwright was faced with the terrible threat of the total destruction of his now defenseless force. He made one last effort at 1230 to reach the Japanese commander by radio, but the result was the same as before. There was only one method left by which he could establish contact with General Homma-to send an officer forward under a white flag to the enemy lines to make arrangements with the local enemy commander.

For this difficult and dangerous assignment Wainwright selected a Marine officer, Captain Golland L. Clark, Jr. With a flag bearer, a musician, and an interpreter, Captain Clark set out shortly before 1300, during a lull in the battle. As the group passed through the American lines, the music sounded out and the flag bearer waved his white standard, a sheet tied to a pole. The Japanese allowed them to march through no man’s land without interference, and in due time Captain Clark was taken to a colonel he believed to be the troop commander on Corregidor. To him he explained that General Wainwright was seeking a truce and wished to discuss the terms of surrender with General Homma. The Japanese officer, after consulting his superiors on Bataan, told Captain Clark that if Wainwright would come to his headquarters he would make arrangements to send him to Bataan.

Within an hour after his departure Clark was back in Malinta Tunnel with the Japanese message. Immediately, General Wainwright, accompanied by General Moore and his aides, with Clark acting as guide, went forward toward the enemy lines. It was now 1400. The party rode in a sedan as far as Denver Hill, then ascended the ridge on foot. Near the summit they were met by an English-speaking Japanese lieutenant and a colonel, who, Wainwright correctly guessed, was a staff officer.

What the Americans did not know was that the Japanese colonel was Nakayama, General Homma’s senior operations officer and the man who had accepted General King’s surrender. Homma had sent him to Corregidor the night before with orders to bring General Wainwright to him only if the American was ready to surrender all his troops. It is not surprising therefore that when Wainwright explained that he wished to surrender only the four islands in Manila Bay, Nakayama replied with “an angry torrent of Japanese,” the gist of which was that any surrender would have to include all forces in the Philippines. “In that case,” replied Wainwright, “I will deal only with General Homma and with no one of less rank.” Nakayama thereupon agreed to take him to Bataan.

[There is little agreement on time in the sources. The discrepancies cannot be settled by personal interviews, since the participants, under the stress of the moment, had no clear conception of when things happened. The author has reconciled as far as possible the time given by the Americans with that of the Japanese to account for the known sequence of events.]

 Nakayama’s ready agreement to Wainwright’s request for a conference with General Homma was based on fresh instructions from 14th Army headquarters. The news that a white flag had been raised over Corregidor had reached Homma about 1230. Apparently he had not heard the Beebe broadcasts, and this was the first intimation he had of Wainwright’s desire to surrender Not long after, Nakayama, who was probably the officer Captain Clark talked with, had reported that Wainwright wished to see General Homma to arrange for the surrender of his force. At that time he was instructed to bring the American commander to Bataan. When he met Wainwright shortly after 1400, therefore, the question of whether Homma would talk to the American had already been settled. Nakayama’s only task was to make arrangements for the journey.

At the outset, Nakayama agreed to follow the arrangements made by the Americans. The boat set aside to take Wainwright to Bataan was docked on the south side of the island, and Lieutenant Colonel John R. Pugh, the general’s senior aide, went back to bring the boat around to the north dock. Wainwright also sent General Moore back to the tunnel “to look after things in his absence,” and with him went his aide and Captain Clark. With his remaining aide, Major Thomas Dooley, Wainwright set out with Nakayama and the interpreter along the road to the north dock to meet Colonel Pugh. They had not gone far when they came under fire from Japanese artillery. Nakayama refused to go any further and insisted that they turn back.

Wainwright had no choice but to agree and Nakayama led the group to Cavalry Point where Japanese troops were still debarking and sent out a call to Bataan for a boat. An armored barge finally arrived and, after some difficulty in embarking, the group reached Cabcaben at about 1600.

On the dock when Wainwright stepped out was Major William Lawrence, his administrative assistant. He had made the journey to Bataan with General Beebe, Colonel Pugh, and Sgt. Hubert Carroll, Wainwright’s orderly, in the boat originally selected for the trip. The others had gone forward to find Wainwright, but Lawrence had remained behind with the boat and now accompanied the general and Dooley to the meeting place, a house about three quarters of a mile to the north. There they were joined by Beebe, Pugh, and Carroll.

For almost a half hour the six Americans waited tensely on the open porch of the house, facing Manila Bay, a short distance away. It was a windy day and from the beach rose a dense cloud of sand and dust. The only Japanese who approached was an orderly who brought cold water, which they accepted gratefully. Finally a group of photographers arrived and the Americans were ordered to line up on the lawn to have their pictures taken. They were still there at 1700 when General Homma drove up in a Cadillac, saluted with a vague flourish of the hand, and strode up to the porch. Behind him were his principal staff officers, correspondents, and more photographers. The Americans followed silently.

The contrast between the two rival commanders on the porch was striking. Unlike most Japanese, General Homma was a large man, about five feet ten inches in height, barrel-chested and heavy-set, weighing close to two hundred pounds. His manner was assured and his bearing erect. His regulation olive drab uniform, with white shirt open at the collar, was fresh and crisp. Pinned to his chest were several rows of brightly colored decorations and ribbons, and at his side hung a sword. General Wainwright, who had earned the nickname “Skinny” long before he had undergone the privations of Bataan and Corregidor, was over six feet tall, but weighed only about 160 pounds. He was “thin as a crane,” observed one of the Japanese correspondents, and “made a pathetic figure against the massive form of General Homma.” His uniform, the best he had, consisted of khaki shirt and trousers; he wore no decorations and carried only a bamboo cane to support a trick knee. In his eyes and in the deep lines etched in his face could be read the story of the withdrawal from Lingayen Gulf, the long, drawn-out siege of Bataan, and the terrific bombardment of Corregidor.

On the porch was a long table around which chairs had been placed. Homma took a seat in the center, facing the open side, and motioned his officers to sit down. General Wachi, 14th Army chief of staff, took the seat on Homma’s right, Nakayama the one on his left; the others filling in the spaces beyond. To the rear, between Homma and Nakayama, stood the interpreter.

On the American side of the table were five officers, with Wainwright in the center, opposite Homma. To his left were General Beebe and Major Dooley; to his right Colonel Pugh and Major Lawrence. Behind the Japanese were their war correspondents, photographers, and newsreel camera men. The meeting opened as soon as everyone was seated, without any exchange of courtesies.

Wainwright made the first move by reaching into his pocket for his formal signed surrender note which he tendered to the Japanese commander. Although General Homma could read and speak English, he did not look at the paper but turned it over to his interpreter to be read aloud in Japanese for the benefit of the other Japanese officers present. After it was read, Homma stated through the interpreter that the surrender would not be accepted unless it included all American and Philippine troops in the Islands. To this Wainwright replied that he commanded only the harbor defense troops. “Tell him,” he said to the interpreter, “that the troops in the Visayan Islands and on Mindanao are no longer under my command. They are commanded by General Sharp, who in turn is under General MacArthur’s high command.”

Homma refused to believe Wainwright’s explanation. Repeatedly, he pointed out, the American radio had named Wainwright as commander of all troops in the Philippines. He had even seen, he said, the general order announcing Wainwright’s assumption of command. Wainwright stubbornly insisted that the Visayan-Mindanao Force was no longer under his control. Shrewdly, Homma asked when he had released Sharp from his command. “Several days ago,” Wainwright answered, adding that even if he did command the troops in the south he had no way of communicating with them. Homma brushed this argument aside easily. “Send a staff officer to Sharp,” he replied. “I will furnish a plane.”

[General Homma denied at his trial, and he was supported by his chief of staff, that the document was handed to him or read. USA vs. Homma, p. 3181. Wainwright’s version is in General Wainwright’s Story, pages 130-32, and in USA vs. Homma, Prosecution Exhibit 419, Deposition of General Wainwright… Wainwright, General Wainwright’s Story, p. 131.]

The argument over command continued several minutes more but Wainwright would not budge from his position, asserting repeatedly that he did not have the authority to surrender the Visayan-Mindanao Force. Finally Homma rose, looked down at Wainwright, and said, “At the time of General King’s surrender in Bataan I did not see him. Neither have I any reason to see you if you are only the commander of a unit . . . I wish only to negotiate with my equal. … ” He seemed ready to leave.

Wainwright was in no position to bargain. Uppermost in his mind was the thought that the troops on Corregidor were disarmed and helpless. If Homma refused now to accept his surrender, these men faced certain death. After a hurried conference with Beebe and Pugh, he agreed to surrender the entire Philippine garrison.

General Homma now refused to accept the surrender. “You have denied your authority . . .,” he told Wainwright, “I advise you to return to Corregidor and think the matter over. If you see fit to surrender, then surrender to the commanding officer of the division on Corregidor. He in turn will bring you to me in Manila.” With these words Homma left the meeting.

[Ibid. sri Uno, Corregidor.’ Isle of Delusion, p. 25. Uno was present at the meeting. His account does not agree with Wainwright’s at this point, but it is supported by Lieutenant Colonel Yoshio Nakajima, an operations officer on the 14th Army staff. USA vs. Homma, p. 2590, testimony of Nakayima. Uno, Corregidor.’ Isle of Delusion, p. 25.]

Neither Wainwright nor Homma agree on this point. The author has accepted Uno’s version because he was a bilingual observer and was not under the same strain as the participants. His account is not unsympathetic to the American cause.

After General Homma’s departure, Wainwright offered his unconditional surrender to Colonel Nakayama, who had remained behind to take the Americans back to Corregidor. He agreed also to send one of his officers to Mindanao in a Japanese plane to persuade Sharp to surrender. “But in the back of my mind,” he explained later, “was the strong hope that some way would still be found to avert the surrender of all forces.”

Colonel Nakayama refused to accept Wainwright’s proposal and told him he would have to wait until he reached Corregidor. Homma’s instructions, he explained, authorized only the commander of the Japanese forces on Corregidor to accept the surrender. He then took the Americans back to Cabcaben by car and thence by boat to Corregidor, where they arrived late in the evening of 6 May.

The trip across the channel had been a long and stormy one, but not long enough for Wainwright to find a way out of his dilemma. MacArthur, he knew, expected Sharp’s force to continue the fight as guerrillas and to keep alive resistance on Mindanao. He had done his best to achieve this aim, and Sharp was now free to conduct guerrilla operations. “But each time I thought of continued organized resistance on Mindanao,” Wainwright recalled, “I thought, too, of the perilous position of close to 11,000 men and the wounded and nurses and civilians on Corregidor.” The lives of these men and women might well be the price of Sharp’s freedom.

The dilemma in which Wainwright found himself might perhaps have been avoided had the organization which MacArthur established for the Philippines before his departure from Corregidor been retained. At that time, it will be remembered, he had established four forces: the Visayan Force, the Mindanao Force, the Luzon Force, and the Harbor Defenses. It was his intention then to exercise command over these forces from his headquarters in Australia through his deputy, General Beebe, on Corregidor. The War Department had changed this arrangement, and placed Wainwright in command of all forces in the Philippines.

At the time this decision was made, the reasons for overruling MacArthur and establishing the directing headquarters for operations in the Philippines on Corregidor had seemed compelling in Washington. But if there had been no such headquarters, the Japanese would have had no alternative but to accept the surrender of each force when it was defeated on the field of battle. It is difficult to imagine on what basis they could have insisted that General MacArthur in Australia surrender all four forces in the Philippines. Nor was there any means, short of a direct threat of reprisals, by which they could force MacArthur to consider such a proposal. Even if they had followed the same procedure as on Bataan, where General King was told that he had not surrendered but had been captured, the effect would have been the same as the separate surrender of all four forces.

Wainwright could not consistently maintain his right to surrender only a portion of his force on the pretext that the remainder was no longer under his command. His presence on Corregidor and his well-recognized position as commander of all forces in the Philippines made him especially vulnerable to pressure from the Japanese. Perhaps it was to avoid just such a situation that MacArthur established the organization he did, and in this desire may lie the true meaning of his cryptic explanations at the time to General Marshall that he had made these arrangements because of “the special problems involved,” and the “intangibles of the situation in the Philippines.”

In the time between General Wainwright’s departure from Corregidor and his return late that night, much had happened on the island. The Japanese had filtered around Malinta Hill, cutting it off from the rest of the island, and entered the tunnel by way of the east entrance. By about 1600 they had cleared out all Americans and Filipinos, except the hospital patients and staff officers, and were in complete possession of the tunnel. Later that night, in accordance with their original plan, the Japanese had landed additional troops on the island.

The task of clearing the tunnel had not been an easy one. In the absence of Moore and Wainwright, General Drake, the USFIP quartermaster, had sent his assistant, Lieutenant Colonel Theodore Kalakuka, who spoke Russian, to contact the commander of the approaching enemy force at about 1400. Ten minutes later Kalakuka had returned with a Japanese major and a Russian-speaking lieutenant. The major’s response to Drake’s request for an arrangement to avoid the useless slaughter of the already defeated Americans and Filipinos was a demand that the tunnel be cleared in ten minutes, an obvious impossibility. After some bickering, during which the principals’ words had to be translated first into Russian and then English or Japanese, it was agreed that the men could remain in the tunnel but that a lane would be cleared down the center.

When the two Japanese officers left, Drake ordered the men against the walls and into the laterals, leaving as wide an open space as possible along the main tunnel. A short time later, the Japanese returned with about twenty men, equipped with flame throwers, demolition charges, and rifles. After a quick inspection, the two officers went through to the west entrance to stop the firing there. Other Japanese troops then entered and at bayonet point marched the docile Americans and Filipinos out of the tunnel.

There was little Wainwright could do on his return to Corregidor late on the night of the 6th but surrender under the terms dictated by the Japanese. He could see the enemy’s campfires allover the island and as he approached the tunnel he saw that it was already in enemy hands. There was no point in further delay and without waiting to complete the journey he asked Nakayama to take him to the local Japanese commander. His guides led him around Malinta Hill to the barrio of San Jose, and there, in the ruined market place, he met his opponent, Colonel Sato, commander of the 61st Infantry.

There was no discussion of terms. The surrender was unconditional and the document drawn up by the two men contained all the provisions Homma had insisted upon. Wainwright agreed to surrender all forces in the Philippines, including those in the Visayas and on Mindanao, within four days. All local commanders were to assemble their troops in designated areas and then report to the nearest Japanese commander. Nothing was to be destroyed and heavy arms and equipment were to be kept intact. “Japanese Army and Navy,” read the closing paragraphs, “will not cease their operations until they recognize faithfulness in executing the above-mentioned orders. If and when such faithfulness is recognized, the commander in chief of Japanese forces in the Philippines will order ‘cease fire’ after taking all circumstances into consideration.”

[The surrender document is printed in its entirety in Wainwright, General Wainwright’s Story, p. 135-36.]

It was midnight by the time the job was finished and the surrender document signed. Wainwright was then taken, under guard and through groups of captured Americans and Filipinos, to Malinta Tunnel, which by now was full of Japanese troops. After a brief conversation with General Moore, to whom he explained the reasons for his decision, he went to the small whitewashed room he had inherited from General MacArthur. With him was his aide and outside a Japanese sentry. Exhausted and humiliated, he threw himself down on his narrow cot. He had not slept and had hardly eaten since the terrible Japanese bombardment of the 5th. But sleep would not come easily. Though he had done all that he could, the forced surrender lay heavily on his mind. No man could be expected to endure more than he and his men had. This the President had told him in the message received only a few hours before he had gone forward to surrender.

Now, in the bitterest moment of his life, he could turn to the consolation of that message from his Commander in Chief : In spite of all the handicaps of complete isolation, lack of food and ammunition you have given the world a shining example of patriotic fortitude and self-sacrifice. The American people ask no finer example of tenacity, resourcefulness, and steadfast courage. The calm determination of your personal leadership in a desperate situation sets a standard of duty for our soldiers throughout the world.

Promptly on the morning of 7 May Homma’s intelligence officer, Lieutenant Colonel Hikaru Haba, called on General Wainwright to discuss measures required to fulfill the terms of the surrender agreement. The most important step toward carrying out these terms was for Wainwright to reassume command of the Visayan-Mindanao Force and order General Sharp to surrender. Since he could not be sure that a direct order would accomplish this purpose, Wainwright decided to send Colonel Jesse T. Traywick, his operations officer, to Mindanao with a letter explaining what had happened. In it he directed General Sharp to surrender the troops under his command and to pass on to General MacArthur the text of the letter and any other instructions given him by Colonel Traywick. “However, let me re-emphasize,” he warned, “that there must be on your part no thought of disregarding these instructions. Failure to fully and honestly carry them out can have only the most disastrous results.”

The Japanese had still one more humiliation in store for General Wainwright. When the letter was completed, Colonel Haba announced that the general would go to Manila that afternoon to broadcast the surrender instructions. General Wainwright objected strenuously, but finally gave in when he realized that it would give Sharp an additional twenty-four hours to make his preparations and to inform General MacArthur of the situation. At 1700, when Haba called for him, he was ready. Accompanied by five of his staff officers he left for Manila, arriving, after many delays, shortly before midnight. He was then taken directly to Radio Station KZRH where, in a voice husky with suppressed emotion, he broadcast the terms of the surrender to General Sharp, Colonel John P. Horan, and Colonel Guillermo Nakar, the last of whom commanded small detachments in northern Luzon. The next morning, 8 May, Colonel Traywick, accompanied by Haba, left by plane.

[The text of this broadcast can be found in Visayan-Mindanao Force Report of Operations, pages 87-91. It was received in San Francisco by commercial radio and relayed to the War Department. for Mindanao. Colonel Nicoll F. Galbraith, Wainwright’s supply officer, carried the same message for Horan, and Kalakuka went in search of Nakar.]

Colonel Galbraith achieved a limited success in his mission. Horan had heard Wainwright’s broadcast and had immediately sent one of his officers to confer with the Japanese commander in the area. This officer returned with the information that Colonel Galbraith was in Bontoc with surrender orders. On the 14th Horan surrendered personally and ordered his troops to assemble in preparation for surrender. But the men came in slowly, and Galbraith, with another American and a few Japanese officers, went into the mountains to try to round them up. Only a small portion of the troops surrendered. The rest remained in hiding, to become later the nucleus of one of the guerrilla forces in northern Luzon.

Colonel Kalakuka’s mission was even less successful in securing the surrender of Nakar’s force, whose actual commander was Lieutenant Colonel Everett L. Warner. General Wainwright had addressed his message to Nakar, the executive officer, rather than to Warner whose whereabout he did not know. The command arrangement in this group was extremely confused and apparently there was jealousy between the two men. Thus, when Kalakuka appeared on the scene he heard conflicting stories. Nakar refused to surrender, but Warner, with a small group of American officers, followed General Wainwright’s orders. The bulk of the force remained in the mountains, and those who evaded the Japanese were organized into the force which continued in existence as a guerrilla force.

[Hist of the Guerrilla Resistance Movement in P.I., Mil. Intel Sec, GHQ SWPA, Ch. VI; Affidavit of Captain Warren A. Minton, copy in Chunn Notebooks. Colonel Nakar was captured on 29 September 1942. Colonel Kalakuka died of malaria on 30 October, while he was still working with the Japanese to secure the surrender of the guerrillas. Drake, Comments on Draft MS, Comment 28, OCMH .]

Meanwhile the Japanese had been having difficulty in other areas. On Palawan and in southern Luzon small detachments still persisted in offering resistance. The Japanese came to General Wainwright on 12 May and asked him why these forces had not surrendered, and why Colonels Horan and Nakar had not been heard from. He and his men, he was told, could not be considered prisoners of war until all opposition had ceased. Nothing further could be done about the forces in northern Luzon, but to end the resistance in southern Luzon General Wainwright sent Colonel Pugh and two Filipino officers to Legaspi. They succeeded in halting hostilities there, and the Constabulary on Palawan surrendered without further difficulty.

Surrender in the South

The story of the surrender of the Visayan Mindanao Force is an even stranger one than that which preceded it. In the south few of the commanders were so hard pressed as to be incapable of further resistance and none had any desire to surrender. The Japanese had landed on only three islands. On two of these, Cebu and Panay, the local commanders had pulled back to well-stocked and comparatively safe retreats in the mountains, from where they hoped to wage guerrilla warfare for an indefinite period. Any effort to drive them from these strongholds would involve the Japanese in a long and expensive campaign. On Mindanao, where the Japanese had committed larger forces and scored more important gains than elsewhere in the south, General Sharp’s troops had been defeated, but elements of his force were still intact and capable of continuing organized resistance. Plans for their withdrawal to the more remote portions of the island, out of reach of the enemy, had already been made and the sector commanders were ready to put these plans into execution on orders from General Sharp.

On the morning of 6 May General Sharp received two messages. The first was the one in which Wainwright relinquished command of the Visayan-Mindanao Force and directed Sharp to report to MacArthur for orders. The second was from General MacArthur who, on learning of the surrender of Corregidor and without knowledge of Wainwright’s instructions to Sharp, immediately ordered the commander of the Visayan-Mindanao Force to “communicate all matters direct to me.” With this dispatch MacArthur assumed command of the Visayan-Mindanao Force.

The first intimation Sharp had of Wainwright’s intention to reassume command came from the latter’s radio broadcast on midnight of the 7th. He immediately repeated the gist of the broadcast, which directed him in unmistakable terms to surrender, to MacArthur and asked for further instructions. The reply from Melbourne came promptly: “Orders emanating from General Wainwright have no validity. If possible separate your force into small elements and initiate guerrilla operations. You, of course, have full authority to make any decision that immediate emergency may demand.” At the same time, MacArthur informed the Chief of Staff of Wainwright’s broadcast and of his own orders to Sharp. “I believe Wainwright has temporarily become unbalanced,” he concluded, “and his condition renders him susceptible of enemy use.”

When General MacArthur made this judgment he was probably unaware of the circumstances which had dictated Wainwright’s course of action during and after the surrender of Corregidor. He could not have realized that it was the fear of what would happen to the 11,000 men on Corregidor which had forced Wainwright to accept Homma’s terms. Wainwright believed, as did many of the American officers on his staff, that the Japanese would kill their prisoners in cold blood if the commanders in the south did not surrender.

There is no direct evidence that the Japanese actually made such a threat. In 1946, during the course of the Homma trial, Colonel Pugh stated that he had no personal knowledge that a threat had been made. But he added that General Wainwright certainly believed his men would be killed if Sharp did not surrender. On the same occasion Wainwright testified that the Japanese told him they did not regard the Americans as prisoners of war but as hostages, “held to insure the success of the negotiations with forces in the south. . . .” “My principal concern,” he said then, “was for fear that they would do what they said they would do; that is, slaughter all those people in the fortified islands unless the troops all over the Archipelago surrendered.”

[The Japanese were not a signatory to the Geneva Convention, but in February 1942, through the Swiss Government, they had agreed to adhere to the provisions relating to prisoners of war, reserving the right to make changes when necessary.]

Added to the threat, real or imagined, of what might happen to these men, practically all of whom were concentrated in a small area on the beach at Corregidor, was the threat reported to have been made to the men on Corregidor. For every day that the surrender was delayed, they were told, ten American officers would be executed. Wainwright admits he did not know of this threat at the time, and if made it was certainly never carried out.

General Sharp’s position on 8 May was not an enviable one. First Wainwright had released him and now sought to reassert his control. He had reported to MacArthur and from him had received complete authority to act on his own judgment. His legal right to ignore Wainwright’s resumption of command and order to surrender was undeniable. But from the Manila broadcast he had received some intimation of the possible consequences of such a course. He decided, therefore, to await the promised arrival of Wainwright’s emissary, Colonel Traywick, before making his decision. In the meantime, in accordance with MacArthur’s instructions, he released from his control the island commanders in his force and directed them to prepare for guerrilla operations.

[USA vs. Homma, p. 2386, testimony of Pugh. General Drake states that he never heard such a threat made and never had the impression that the Japanese would kill their prisoners if Sharp did not surrender. “There was no cause to give me such an impression,” he states. “Also, I never heard it voiced by anyone.” Drake, Comments on Draft MS, Comment 28, OCMH.]

[USA vs. Homma, Prosecution Exhibit 419, Deposition of Wainwright. Homma denied this in his testimony, and Wachi stated that the Americans were treated as captives rather than as prisoners of war until an order came from Imperial General Headquarters in August 1942. Ibid., pp. 2529,3189.]

Colonel Traywick and Colonel Haba reached Mindanao by plane on the 9th and arranged a meeting with Sharp for the following day. At daybreak of the 10th hostilities were suspended temporarily, and during the afternoon Colonel Traywick with Haha and several other Japanese officers, met General Sharp at his headquarters at Malaybalay on the Sayre Highway. Traywick delivered Wainwright’s letter and told Sharp the circumstances which had led to its preparation. He made clear that if the Visayan-Mindanao Force was not surrendered, the Japanese would probably reject the terms already agreed upon and would open fire on the prisoners on Corregidor. It was this threat that forced General Sharp to capitulate.

[Interv, author with Colonel Robert D. Johnston, G-4 V-MF, 15 Apr 47, OCMH. Although Colonel Johnston was not prcsent at the meeting between Sharp and Traywick, he was told about it many times by Sharp, while in prison camp. General Sharp, now deceased, never expressed officially the view that the threat was the reason for his decision to surrender. General Wainwright, in a letter to the author, stated that Sharp’s position was hopeless and that he would have had to surrender very shortly in any case. Ltr, Wainwright to author, 14 Jan 49, OCMH.]

General Sharp’s decision to surrender placed him in exactly the same position Wainwright had been in on 7 May. He now had to reassume command of the officers he had released for guerrilla operations the day before. This he did on 10 May in a clear text message-he had destroyed his codes-rescinding his earlier instructions and directing his subordinate commanders to cease all operations at once, stack arms, and raise the white flag. One of his staff officers, he told them, would soon arrive with written orders and with detailed instructions. These orders, he concluded, were “imperative and must be carried out in order to save further bloodshed.” Later that night, at 1915, he announced his decision to General MacArthur. “I have seen Wainwright’s staff officer,” he explained, “and have withdrawn my order releasing commanders on other islands and directed complete surrender. Dire necessity alone has prompted this action.”

It was with great relief that General Wainwright heard from Colonel Traywick when that officer returned to Manila on 11 May that General Sharp had decided to place his forces again under Wainwright’s command and to accept the order to surrender. This decision, he believed, averted a massacre and saved the Corregidor garrison.

Wainwright’s relief was premature. General Sharp’s surrender orders proved far more difficult to enforce than had been anticipated. His troops were scattered among many islands; most of them were untrained Filipinos; and those who were safe in their mountain hide-outs showed no disposition to give up their freedom. Communication between the islands was poor and it would be some time before the last troops laid down their arms. Until then the fate of the Corregidor garrison hung in the balance.

The detailed instructions to each commander were sent by courier on the 11 though In each case the commander was directed to assemble his men at a designated point and at a certain time. General Chynoweth, for example, was to bring his men to the northern outskirts of Cebu City; Christie to Iloilo City, and Colonel Cornell, commander of the Leyte-Samar Force, to Tacloban and Catbalogan. Land mines and other explosives that might cause injury or damage to the Japanese were to be removed within twenty-four hours, and those that could not be removed were to be plainly marked. All commanders were warned against the destruction of military or civilian property and urged to accord the Japanese “courteous and prompt obedience.”

The surrender on Mindanao was generally without incident, although here, as elsewhere, a large number of troops preferred to leave their units rather than become prisoners. Colonel Chastaine, unable to get his regiment to the appointed place in time, requested, and presumably secured, permission to arrive at a later date. Others may have had similar difficulties. The most striking commentary on the enforced surrender came from General Fort, commander of the 81st Division (PA), who wrote to General Sharp: “Many of my officers encouraged me to disobey orders and continue-and strange to relate, Filipino and Moro officers-which I’ll admit was a temptation as my own small force was undefeated and was growing stronger with the reorganization which I had undertaken ….I had difficulty in holding some of them true to discipline.”

The surrender of Chynoweth’s troops on Cebu was not accomplished as easily as the surrender of those on Mindanao. Chynoweth had heard Wainwright’s surrender broadcast on 6 May and received General Sharp’s clear text message to surrender four days later. Reasoning that this order was either an enemy ruse or that it had been given at bayonet point, he decided to ignore it and instructed his communications officer not to acknowledge this or any further messages.

He next received a letter from the commander of the Japanese forces on Cebu urging immediate surrender to save lives. Chynoweth acknowledged receipt of the letter but made no move to surrender his force. During the next two days the two commanders exchanged polite notes without reaching agreement. The correspondence came to an end when General Chynoweth asserted that he did not consider the order to surrender, “legally binding” since it had been given under duress. “We do not feel,” he wrote, “that we can honorably surrender.” Copies of the correspondence were sent to the various units on Cebu, and the men were told that they could surrender individually if they wished to do so. Only two Filipinos and two Americans took advantage of this opportunity. General Chynoweth then made plans to move to Panay to join forces with Colonel Christie.

On 13 May, while he was making preparations to leave the island, Chynoweth received a written message from Colonel Hilsman, commander on Negros. The message stated that a courier from General Sharp was on his way to Cebu to explain the situation to him and to negotiate the surrender. “That,” wrote Chynoweth, “knocked us into a tail-spin.” Knowing that Sharp was in communication with General MacArthur, he believed that the order to surrender had been made with MacArthur’s consent. But in the hope that MacArthur might intervene at the last moment and order him to continue the fight he instructed one of his men to “freeze on the radio.”

Chynoweth could no longer put off the difficult decision. He did not wish nor did his situation require him to surrender. But both Generals Wainwright and Sharp had directed him to do so. “If MacArthur,” he hoped desperately, “would only tell us now to hang on.” The only word received was that MacArthur had announced that he no longer had communications with the Philippines. That night Chynoweth sent word to the Japanese that he was awaiting a staff officer from General Sharp’s headquarters and that no action would be taken until his arrival. He next notified the units under his command to assemble at a central point, prepared to surrender.

On 15 May General Sharp’s courier arrived in Cebu. He gave Chynoweth the written terms of surrender, Sharp’s order directing surrender, and a letter from Wainwright stating that “on no account were any commanders to make any attempts to evade the terms of surrender.” The courier also told Chynoweth that the Japanese had concentrated the Americans on Corregidor under their guns and would kill them “if the surrender were not faithfully executed.” Chynoweth thereupon decided to surrender and immediately notified the Japanese commander of his decision. The next day he assembled the organized elements of his force and marched down out of the hills.

Of all the island commanders none was better prepared for guerrilla operations than the Panay commander, Colonel Christie. His forces were comparatively well trained and organized, his supplies ample, and his position secure. The Japanese had control of the road network on the island but showed little disposition to embark on operations in the interior. Already Christie had had some success in hit-and-run raids, and the one attempt at retaliation had ended in disaster for the Japanese. He had every reason to believe, therefore, that he could hold out indefinitely.

Sharp’s clear text message of 10 May directing him to surrender came as a shock to Colonel Christie. He acknowledged receipt of the order promptly, but expressed his opposition to it in very strong terms and questioned General Sharp’s authority to issue such an order. He did not see “even one small reason why he should surrender his force, because “some other unit has gone to hell or some Corregidor shell-shocked terms” had been made. “To satisfy me,” he wrote, “I must have MacArthur’s okay; otherwise it may be treason.” He closed his message with an appeal to General Sharp to give him a free hand in dealing with the enemy on Panay.

General Sharp refused to accept Christie’s answer and directed him to hoist the white flag and cease all operations at once. “Your failure to comply,” he warned, “will produce disastrous results.” Neither Wainwright’s nor his surrender, he explained, had yet been accepted, and unless all the island commanders capitulated the Japanese would resume offensive operations. MacArthur, he told Christie, had been informed of his actions, and an officer, Colonel Thayer, was leaving by plane for Panay with written instructions and a personal message. He concluded his message with instructions for an immediate reply “indicating your compliance and actions.”

Colonel Christie persisted in refusing to accept Sharp’s order, arguing, first, that it was unnecessary, second, that it would have an adverse effect on the civil population, and third, that he doubted the authority of either General Wainwright or General Sharp to order his surrender. He felt that to comply with Sharp’s directions would “tend toward treason,” and questioned whether the surrender of one island meant the automatic surrender of others. “I strongly urge you,” he told General Sharp, “to have the approval of the War Department through MacArthur,” adding that he intended to consult his immediate commander, General Chynoweth. He closed his message with a plea. “In this delicate situation please do not issue me any peremptory orders that will embarrass or get us into mutual conflict. Rather do I want a free hand in carrying out my mission uninfluenced by any hysteria inherent in local action. No army surrenders portions still free, intact, and having a good chance of helping the general mission. Make me independent. Do not put me on the sacrifice block.”

General Sharp did not answer this message. His courier, Colonel Thayer, had already left for Panay to explain the situation to Colonel Christie. With him, Thayer carried a copy of Wainwright’s letter to Sharp as well as one from Sharp himself. The last was moderate in tone and reflected a sympathetic understanding of the predicament in which Christie found himself. “Be it understood,” Sharp wrote, “that I have the highest regard for your courageous and resolute stand …. However, developments of the war make such action utterly impractical regardless of the capabilities of your forces. If any other course were open to me I would most assuredly have taken it.” Again he explained that neither Wainwright nor he were prisoners of war, but both had pledged the surrender of their forces. Christie was expected to do the same. That was the only course of action to take “in the name of humanity.”

Before Thayer’s arrival with the letter, Christie sent Sharp another message asking what General MacArthur had said in response to Sharp’s surrender message. As a matter of fact, MacArthur had not replied to this message at all. By this time Sharp had lost all patience with Christie. His reply was a curt order to surrender as directed. “No further comments from you are desired,” he told Christie. “Acknowledge this message and state actions taken at once.”

Colonel Thayer finally reached Panay on 18 May. He explained to Christie that acceptance of Wainwright’s surrender of Corregidor was conditional on the surrender of all forces in the Philippines, and that Christie’s refusal to comply with orders was jeopardizing the success of the negotiations and the lives of the 11,000 men on Corregidor. The question Christie had to answer, therefore, was the same one the other island commanders had to answer: Was the holding of Panay, or any other island, important enough to justify the death of the Corregidor prisoners? He decided that it was not, and made arrangements to surrender.

Before he assembled his men, Christie made one more effort to satisfy himself on the legality of his course. To each of his fellow commanders he sent a message explaining what he was doing and why, and asked each what action he had taken. Chynoweth had already surrendered, but Colonel Hilsman, who was having troubles of his own on Negros, wrote that “we must surrender or be classed as deserters by our own country and as outlaws by international law.” That night Colonel Christie informed General Sharp that he had talked with Thayer and had decided “to comply faithfully with your orders for the surrender of my division.” Two days later he marched his troops to the Japanese lines. By that time approximately 90 percent of his men had vanished into the hills or gone back to their homes.

On Leyte and Samar, where there were no Japanese, Colonel Cornell also refused to accept General Sharp’s message of 10 May directing the surrender, on the ground that it had been sent in clear text. He continued with his plans to break up his force of about 2,500 men to carry on guerrilla operations. About 20 May General Sharp’s courier arrived with written instructions for the surrender, and Colonel Cornell issued orders to his troops to comply. The Japanese arrived in Tacloban on 24 May and the surrender was effected two days later. Only 11 American officers, 40 Philippine officers, and 20 Philippine enlisted men surrendered; the rest disappeared into the hills.

On Negros, where Colonel Hilsman commanded, trouble of a different sort developed. The Japanese had not landed on that island, and the troops were scattered. Under the leadership of Colonel Carter R. McLennan, formerly commander on the island and now executive officer, Negros had been divided into five sectors and a battalion assigned to each. Food and ammunition had been distributed equally among the five sectors, and the battalion commanders had been released from regimental control to enable them to operate independently as guerrillas. When Hilsman received Sharp’s radio instructing him to surrender, he informed the battalion commanders and civil authorities, but took no active steps, deciding to wait until he had received written instructions.

On 18 May, Sharp’s courier, Lieutenant Colonel Charles L. Humber, Jr., arrived on Negros with these instructions. Immediately, the sector commanders were called into conference by Hilsman and told that if all troops in the Philippines did not surrender within a specified time, a certain number of the men captured on Corregidor would be executed each day that the surrender was delayed.

Although Sharp’s instructions required the commanding officer to go to Iloilo to arrange for the surrender, Colonel Hilsman accepted Colonel McLennan’s offer to go in his stead. Accompanied by Humber, McLennan left on the morning of 20 May and reached Iloilo that night. He was received aboard a Japanese freighter, loaded with troops and ready to sail, by Colonel Kumataro Ota, and the next day returned to Negros with the Japanese. The Japanese ran into scattered fire when they landed, but had no difficulty occupying the western coast.

Meanwhile, Colonel Hilsman had made every effort to assemble his troops in a central area, but the sector commanders, with the support of civil authorities, refused to comply. The situation became more serious when civilians, as well as some of the troops, began to loot Japanese and Chinese commercial establishments. News of these events soon reached Mindanao, and General Sharp became alarmed. Pointedly, he reminded Hilsman that as local military commander he “must control all civilians and insure that no incidents of violence or bloodshed occur.”

Despite his best efforts, Hilsman was unable to restore order or compel the Filipino troops to accept the surrender. Sharp’s courier, Colonel Humber, finally had to ask that Brigadier General Manuel A. Roxas, Quezon’s deputy in the Philippines, be sent to Negros to prevent an uprising “due to feeling and sentiment among civilian population . . .and the fear of Filipino troops and officers of being placed in concentration camps.” In his reply General Sharp did his best to allay the fear of the Filipinos. He pointed out that the Japanese on Mindanao had been “most lenient” in their treatment of civilians, and had asked civilian officials to remain at their posts. “Treatment of military forces,” he added, “had been strictly in accordance with the Geneva Convention as indicated in our rules of land warfare.” To this Hilsman replied that he was doing everything in his power to follow the instructions he was receiving from General Sharp and from the Japanese.

General Wainwright, too, was greatly concerned over the situation in Negros. There were approximately 200 Japanese internees on the island and the fear that they might be harmed by the rebellious troops was Wainwright’s chief worry. “It was a fantastically ticklish situation,” he recalled later, “with the lives of countless Americans and Filipinos hanging by the thread of the mutineers’ unpredictability.” Momentarily he expected the Japanese to turn their guns on the Corregidor prisoners.

The date set for the surrender came and passed with no sign that the Filipinos would obey orders. Twice Hilsman persuaded Colonel Ota to grant an extension of time. When the second extension expired on 3 June, the Japanese agreed to accept Hilsman’s surrender with the troops he had by then persuaded to come down out of the hills, about 95 percent of one battalion and 30 percent of two others. Two battalions never surrendered at all.

During the next week the troops on outlying islands submitted to the Japanese, and by 9 June all forces in the Philippines, with the exception of certain small detachments in isolated areas, had surrendered. On that day General Wainwright was notified that all organized resistance had ended. “Your high command,” the Japanese told him then, “ceases and you are now a prisoner of war.” The six-month-long struggle for control of the Philippine Archipelago was over. The victory which Homma had hoped to win by the middle of February was finally his on 9 June, four months later. Each day’s delay had meant a loss of face for the Japanese, and General Homma paid the price. The campaign was hardly over when Imperial General Headquarters relieved him of command and brought him back to Tokyo, where he spent the rest of the war on the sidelines, as a reserve officer.

Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere

With the conquest of the Philippines, the Japanese gained the best harbor in the Orient, excellent bases from which to stage and supply their garrisons to the south and east, as well as a large population to contribute to the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. They had driven the United States from its stronghold in the Far East, destroyed a combined American and Philippine Army of 140,000 men, and forced the Far East Air Force and the Asiatic Fleet back to the line of the Malay Barrier. In their possession, the Philippine Islands, extending 1,150 miles southward along the South China Sea from Formosa to Borneo and the Moluccas, constituted a formidable barrier to an Allied thrust from the east to cut the line of communication between Japan and the wealth of the Indies.

Though the Japanese had won an important victory, the American and Filipino troops had not given their lives and their freedom in vain. For six months they had kept alive resistance in the Philippines, exacting heavy casualties from the enemy and immobilizing his forces. Not until Imperial General Headquarters, which had relegated the Philippines to a secondary place in the Japanese plan of conquest, had committed more men and planes than it had ever intended to the struggle was the campaign brought to an end. During the six months required to accomplish this task, the American and Filipino troops had retained their tenacious hold on Manila Bay and denied its use to the enemy. This was their mission, and it had been accomplished. But the Pacific Fleet, which was to have fought its way through to them by that time, never arrived. The fate of the Philippine garrison had been decided on the opening day of the war, at Pearl Harbor.

In the context of global war, the Philippines did not in 1942 possess great strategic significance. The Japanese tide had already swept around the Islands and over southeast Asia and the Indies, through the Bismarck Archipelago and the Solomons to Guadalcanal, and eastward across the Pacific as far as the Gilbert Islands. At the beginning of June the Japanese stood ready to move on Port Moresby, Midway, and the Aleutians, and to sever the line of communication between Australia and the United States. Everywhere, they had achieved phenomenal success, sweeping all resistance before them. Only in the Philippines had they been halted, and in this successful, though hopeless, resistance lay the real importance of the campaign. It demonstrated that the Japanese were not invincible, that they could be stopped by determined men, ably led, even when the odds were heavily in their favor. For an Allied world surfeited on gloom, defeat, and despair, the epic of Bataan and Corregidor was a symbol of hope and a beacon of success for the future. It was in this vein that President Roosevelt wrote to General Wainwright on the eve of his surrender: “In every camp and on every naval vessel, soldiers, sailors, and Marines are inspired by the gallant struggle of their comrades in the Philippines. The workmen in our shipyards and munitions plants redouble their efforts because of your example. You and your devoted followers have become the living symbols of our war aims and the guarantee of victory.”

The First Battle for the Philippines had ended.

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

World War Two: Fall of Philippines; Fall of Corregidor (5-31)

World War Two: Papuan Campaign; Japanese Threaten Australia (1)

Epic of Ishtar and Izdubar: The King’s Adventure At The Gate Of The Garden Of The Gods (Part 42) Assyrian

(With The Two Maidens–One Of Them Leads Him Into The Happy Halls–Songs Of The Sabitu And Zi-Si.)

A gate half opened shows the silvery sea
Yet distant shining lambent on his way.
And now he sees young Siduri,[1] whose breast
Infuses life; all nature she hath blest,
Whose lips are flames, her arms are walls of fire,
Whose love yields pleasures that can never tire,
She to the souls who joy on earth here miss,
Grants them above a holier, purer bliss.

The maiden sits within a holy shrine
Beside the gate with lustrous eyes divine,
And beckons to the King, who nearer comes,
And near her glows the Happy Palace domes.

And lo! ’tis she his lips have fondly kissed
Within the garden, when like fleeing mist
She disappeared with the bright spirit Seven,[2]
The Sabit, who oft glide from earth to Heaven.
And lo! one of the Seven, Sabitu,
Emerging from the gate doth jealous view
The coming hero who hath kissed her mate,
She angry springs within to close the gate,
And bars it, enters then the inner halls,
And Izdubar to her now loudly calls,
“O Sabitu! what see-est thou, my maid?
Of Izdubar is Sabitu afraid?

Thy gate thou barrest thus before my face.
Quick, open for me! or I’ll force the brass!”
The maid now frightened opens wide the door.
The Sar and Siduri now tread the floor
Of the bright palace where sweet joy doth reign.
Through crystal halls ‘neath golden roofs the twain
Next go within a lofty ceilinged hall,
With shining pearled columns, golden wall,
And purple silken hangings at each door,
With precious gems inlaid upon the floor;
Where couches grand are spread for one to rest
Beneath the softened rays that sweet invest
The senses with a thrill of happiness;
Where Siduri with joy all souls doth bless.

The maid sits on a couch and turns her face
Toward the King with that immortal grace
That love to gods and men will e’er bestow.
Their eyes now mingling with a happy glow,
The maiden sweetly says: “Where wouldst thou go?
Within these Happy Halls we joy but know,
And if thou wilt, my King, my heart is thine!
Our love will ever bring us bliss divine.”

“Alas, my maid, thy love to me is dear,
And sad am I that I must go from here.
I came from Erech by advice from one
I loved more than thou canst e’er know, but gone
From me is my Heabani, faithful seer.
Across a desert waste have I come here,
And he has there to dust returned,–to dust–
O how the love of my friend I did trust!
I would that we had never started here,
I now must find the great immortal seer.”

The maiden turns her glowing eyes on him,
Replies: “My King, thou knowest joy may gleam,
Take courage, weary heart, and sing a song!
The hour of sorrow can never be long;

The day will break, and flood thy soul with joy,
And happiness thy heart will then employ!
Each day must end with all its sorrow, woe,
Oh, sing with me, dear heart! I love thee so!”
And lo! the curtains flung aside, now comes
The joyous Sabitu from yonder rooms,
And gathering round, a song they gayly sing,
Oh, how with music the bright walls now ring!
If evil thou hast done, my King,

Oh, pray! oh, pray!
And to the gods thy offerings bring,
And pray! and pray!
The sea is roaring at thy feet,
The storms are coming, rain and sleet;
To all the gods,
Oh, pray to them! oh, pray!


To all the gods,
Oh, pray to them! oh, pray!

Thy city we will bless, O Sar!
With joy, with joy!
And prosper thee in peace and war
With joy, with joy!
And bless thee every day and night,
Thy kingly robes keep pure and bright;
Give thee bright dreams,
O glorious king of war!


Give thee bright dreams,
O glorious king of war!

And if thy hand would slay thy foes
In war, in war!
With thee returning victory goes
In war, in war!
We grant thee victory, my King;
Like marshes swept by storms, we bring
Our power to thee
With victory in war!


Our power to thee
With victory in war!

And if thou wouldst the waters pass,
The sea, the sea!
We’ll go with thee in every place,
With thee, with thee!
To Hea’s halls and glorious throne,
Where he unrivalled reigns alone,
To Hea go
Upon his throne of snow.


To Hea go
Upon his throne of snow.

And if thine anger rules thy heart
As fire, as fire!
And thou against thy foes would start
With ire, with ire!
Against thy foes thy heart be hard,
And all their land with fire be scarred,
Destroy thy foes!
Destroy them in thine ire!


Destroy thy foes!
Destroy them in thine ire!

And lo! young Siduri hath disappeared,
And with the Zisi crowned she now appeared;
The corn-gods in a crescent round their queen,
She waves before the king her Nusku[3] green,
And sings with her sweet voice a joyful lay,
And all the Zisi join the chorus gay:

[4]A heifer of the corn am I,
Kara! Kara![5]
Yoked with the kine we gayly fly,
Kara! Kara!
The ploughman’s hand is strong and drives
The glowing soil, the meadow thrives!
Before the oxen
Sa-lum-mat-u na-si.[6]


Before the oxen
Sa-lum-mat-u na-si.

The harvesters are in the corn!
Kara! Kara!
Our feet are flying with the morn,
Kara! Kara!
We bring thee wealth! it is thine own!
The grain is ripe! oh, cut it down!
The yellow grain
Sa-lum-mat-u na-si.


The yellow grain
Sa-lum-mat-u na-si.

The fruit of death, oh, King, taste it not!
Taste not! taste not!
With fruit of Life the land is fraught
Around! around!
The fruit of Life we give to thee
And happiness, oh, ever see.
All joy is thine
Through Earth and Heaven’s bound.


All joy is thine
Through Earth and Heaven’s bound.

Our corn immortal there is high
And ripe! and ripe!
And ever ripens ‘neath that sky
As gold! as gold!
Our corn is bearded,[7] thus ’tis known,
And ripens quickly when ’tis grown.
Be joy with thee,
Our love around thee fold!


Be joy with thee,
Our love around thee fold!

Our King from us now goes, now goes!
Away! away!
His royal robe behind him glows
Afar! afar!
Across the waves where Hea reigns
The waters swollen he soon gains!
To our great seer,
He sails to him afar!


To our great seer,
He sails to him afar!

And he will reach that glorious land
Away! away!
Amid our fruit-trees he will stand
That day! that day!
Our fruit so sweet the King will eat,
Nor bitter mingle with the sweet.
In our seer’s land
That glows afar away!


In our seer’s land
That glows afar away!

The singing spirits from them fled, and he
Alone stood thinking by young Siduri.

The King leaned on his bow, and eyed the maid,
A happy look came in his eyes,–and fled,
For lo! the curtain quick aside is pushed,
And Sabitu within upon them rushed.

She stately glides across the shining floor,
And eyes them both, then turns toward the door.
But Izdubar is equal to the task,
With grace now smiling, of the maid doth ask:
“O Sabitu! wouldst thou tell me the way
To Khasisadra? for I go this day.

If I the sea may cross, how shall I go?
Or through the desert? thou the path mayst know.”
The maiden startled looks upon his face,
And thus she answers him with queenly grace:
“So soon must go? Thou canst not cross the sea,
For thou wilt perish in the waves that way.

Great Samas once the way of me did ask,
And I forbade him, but the mighty task
He undertook, and crossed the mighty deep,
Where Death’s dark waters lie in wait asleep:
His mighty car of gold swept through the skies,
With fiery chargers now he daily flies.

When I approach thee, thou from me wouldst flee?
But if thou must so soon thus go, the sea
Perhaps thou too canst cross, if thou wilt ‘void
Death’s waters, which relentless ever glide.

But Izdubar, Ur-Hea, here hath come!
The boatman of the seer, who to his home
Returns. He with an axe in yonder woods
A vessel builds to cross the raging floods.
If thou desirest not to cross with him,
We here will welcome thee through endless time;
But if thou goest, may they see thy face
Thou seekest,–welcome thee, and thy heart bless.”

[Footnote 1: “Siduri,” the “pourer” or “shedder forth,” the “all-bountiful,” the goddess who brings the rain, and mists, and running streams to fill the vegetable world with its productions; the goddess who
presides over productive nature. She was also called “the Goddess of Wisdom.”]–[Footnote 2: Seven spirits of the earth and heaven, the daughters of Hea.]–[Footnote 3: “Nusku,” a budding or blooming shrub or branch, the wand of the Queen, used in magical incantations, which was called the plant of
Nusku, the divining-rod.]–[Footnote 4: See Accadian songs, “C.I.W.A.,” vol. ii. 15, 16, and translated by Mr. Sayce in “Records of the Past, vol. xi. pp. 154, 155.]–[Footnote 5: “Kara!” cry out, sing, shout.]–
[Footnote 6: “Sa-lum-mat-u na-si,” lift up the shadows, or be joyful.]–[Footnote 7: “Our corn is bearded.” This refers to the heads of wheat which are bearded. See translation by Mr. Sayce, “the corn is bearded.” (“Records of the Past,” vol. xi. p. 156.)]

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

Epic of Ishtar and Izdubar: The King On Leaving The Happy Halls Meets Ur-Hea (Part 43) Assyrian

Epic of Ishtar and Izdubar: Izdubar Enters Hades (Part 41); Assyrian

World News Headlines: 01-13-2019


Police in western Germany launch massive raids against criminal clans; More than 1,300 police officers were deployed in coordinated raids against family crime syndicates across northwestern Germany. The raids are focused on shisha bars, cafes and gambling venues. German police launched simultaneous raids in six cities across the state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) on Saturday evening, with some 1,300 officers sweeping shisha bars and other venues in Dortmund, Essen, Duisburg, Bochum, Recklinghausen and Gelsenkirchen. Authorities said they were targeting family crime clans of Arabic background in the northwestern state. According to the mass-circulation Bild daily, police are focusing on the Arabic crime syndicates, especially those with Lebanese background. Police spokesman Oliver Peiler told reporters that the coordinated raids started at 9 p.m. local time (2000 UTC). “As we do quite often, tonight we are checking numerous shisha-bars (…) because the shisha bars act as sanctuaries for members of these family clans,” he said. Clans also use shisha bars, cafes, and gambling venues for money laundering and other illegal business activities, according to media reports. Police in Essen tweeted that a man has been detained carrying €9,000 ($10,322) in cash.

CDU to review Angela Merkel’s migration policy since 2015 crisis; CDU leader Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer wants a “comprehensive review” of Germany’s immigration system. Contradicting Angela Merkel, the new party leader said scrutiny of the fateful year of 2015 was necessary. German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s successor at the helm of the Christian Democrats (CDU) has told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper that the party will scrutinize the chancellor’s migration policy since the beginning of the migration crisis in 2015. “We will look at the entire immigration issue, from the protection of the external border to asylum procedures and integration, from the perspective of effectiveness” Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said. Kramp-Karrenbauer, who replaced Merkel as CDU leader in December, said the party would review the immigration system at a planned workshop in February. The European Union’s border protection agency, Frontex, and Germany’s Federal Office for Migration and Refugees would take part in the talks to examine “where and what needs to be improved,” she added.

US Ambassador Richard Grenell threatens German firms over Russian pipeline; The US ambassador to Berlin, Richard Grenell, has sent threatening letters to German companies working on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, according to a German newspaper. Grenell reportedly warns of possible sanctions. German companies building the Nord Stream 2 pipeline between Germany and Russia received letters from US Ambassador Richard Grenell warning them of “a significant risk of sanctions” if they did not pull out of the project, Germany’s mass-circulation Bild am Sonntag has reported. The large pipeline is set to deliver gas from northwestern Russia to northern Germany under the Baltic Sea and effectively double the amount of gas Germany imports from the country. The US opposes the project over fears that the gas link would tighten Russia’s control of Europe’s energy supply and diminish the importance of gas transit countries such as Ukraine. US companies are also keen to sell gas obtained by fracking to many European countries.

Germany: Man stabs pregnant woman, kills unborn child; The 25-year-old pregnant woman was stabbed during a hospital stay. The perpetrator, an Afghan asylum-seeker, was visiting the woman when the two got into a “violent argument.” An altercation between a pregnant woman and man in the western German town of Bad Kreuznach near Mainz ended with the man stabbing the woman and killing her unborn child. The incident took place on Friday at a hospital, where the 25-year-old Polish woman was staying. Police said the man was a 25-year-old Afghan asylum-seeker, who had come to the hospital to visit the woman. The man stabbed the woman repeatedly after they got into what police described as a “violent argument.” The woman suffered life threatening injuries and had to undergo emergency surgery. Although she survived the attack and her condition is stable, the unborn baby died from its injuries. The attacker surrendered to police at a train station shortly after fleeing the scene. He was arrested and taken into custody. Bad Kreuznach’s public prosecutors office has sought the cooperation of the criminal police of Mainz to carry out an investigation. For now, the man’s motive is unknown.

Serbia: Protesters gather for sixth weekend of anti-Vucic demonstrations; Thousands of people marched against the rule of Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic for the sixth week in a row, rallying in Belgrade and other major cities. Protesters accuse him of corruption and stifling the media. Some 40,000 people took part in the protests in Belgrade, Nis, Novi Sad, and several smaller cities, organizers said on Saturday. The authorities did not immediately confirm the count. In Belgrade, protesters carried a banner showing a bloodied shirt, an allusion to the unsolved assault on leftist leader Borko Stefanovic in November. An umbrella of opposition parties, the Alliance for Serbia, suspect President Aleksandar Vucic’s Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) of involvement in the assault. The ruling party rejects the claims. Demonstrators called for protecting media freedoms, ending the country’s hostile environment for journalists and opposition figures, and transparency from the government as it seeks to settle outstanding disputes with neighboring Kosovo.

FRANCE (France24)

Top Yemen brass injured in rebel drone strike dies: medics; A high-ranking Yemeni intelligence official injured in a Huthi rebel drone attack on the country’s largest air base died of his wounds on Sunday, medical sources said.
Intelligence Brigadier General Saleh Tamah was wounded on Thursday in a strike on a military parade in Al-Anad air base, in government-held Lahij province some 60 kilometres (40 miles) north of Yemen’s second city Aden. Medical sources told AFP that Tamah underwent several surgeries in a hospital in Aden but died Sunday morning. At least seven loyalists — including Tamah — were killed and 11 injured in Thursday’s incident, which threatens to hamper United Nations-led peace efforts. Among those injured were Yemen’s deputy chief of staff Saleh al-Zandani, senior army commander Fadel Hasan and Lahij governor Ahmad Abdullah al-Turki. Turki and Zandani were transported to Saudi Arabia for treatment, a Yemeni official told AFP. The UN voiced alarm on Friday following the attack and urged “all parties to the conflict to exercise restraint and refrain from further escalation”. At talks in Sweden last month, the UN brokered several agreements between the Iran-aligned Huthi rebels and the Saudi-backed government seen as the best chance of ending nearly four years of devastating conflict. The warring sides agreed on truce deals for the key rebel-held aid port of Hodeida and battleground third city Taez.

Italian ex-militant Battisti detained in Bolivia: official; Cesare Battisti, an Italian sought by Rome for four murders attributed to a far-left group in the 1970s, has been detained in Bolivia and will be extradited to Brazil, a senior aide to Brazil’s new president said Sunday. Battisti was detained late Saturday in Bolivia “and will be soon brought to Brazil, from where he will probably be sent to Italy to serve a life sentence,” tweeted Filipe G. Martins, a senior aide on international affairs to Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. Italy has repeatedly sought the extradition of Battisti, who has lived in Brazil for years under the protection of former leftist president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, now in prison for corruption. During Brazil’s recent presidential campaign, the far-right Bolsonaro — who took office on January 1 — vowed that if elected he would “immediately” extradite Battisti. In mid-December Brazil’s outgoing president, Michel Temer, signed an extradition order for Battisti after a judge ordered his arrest. By then the Italian ex-militant was nowhere to be found. Battisti was arrested in the Bolivian city of Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Brazilian Federal Police sources told Brazilian media.

China will tackle US trade dispute in 2019: minister; China will work to straighten out trade frictions with the US this year, the country’s commerce minister told state media, following talks with US negotiators this week. A large US delegation ended a three-day visit to Beijing Wednesday in the first face to face trade talks since President Donald Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping in December pledged a three-month truce in the escalating tariff spat. China said the talks had “laid the foundation” to resolve mutual concerns on trade. “We will properly handle the China-US economic and trade frictions” this year, commerce minister Zhong Shan said, according to a Saturday report by state media outlet Xinhua. Zhong said Beijing will also promote outside investment, work to pass a foreign investment law and improve its dispute resolution system, Xinhua reported. China’s policymakers have long promised a more open and free market with better protections for foreign investors, but officials have been slow to make good on those pledges — leading the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China to coin the term “promise fatigue”. Zhong said China’s negative list — which restricts investment in certain industries — will be further slimmed down, while Beijing also intends to expand economic sectors open for foreign investment without the need for a Chinese joint-venture partner. The minister specifically outlined a push for foreign investment in manufacturing, high-tech industries and investment in China’s inner regions — pledges which are similar to promises made last year.


21 dead in coal mine collapse; 21 workers died when a tunnel collapsed in a Chinese coal mine on Saturday. The mine is located in Shaanxi Province. 87 miners were working there at the time of the accident.66 were rescued. Officials are looking into what caused the accident. Chinese coal mines are known for their unsafe working conditions. Authorities say nearly 400 miners died in accidents in 2017.