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)