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General MacArthur and the Fall of Bataan and Corregidor

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  • General MacArthur and the Fall of Bataan and Corregidor

    General MacArthur and the Fall of Bataan and Corregidor
    General MacArthur and the Fall of Bataan and Corregidor
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    Hyphen Magazine, Commentary, Posted: May 09, 2012
    Seventy years ago, one of the greatest sacrifices of World War II was made by Filipino and American soldiers at Bataan and Corregidor. After a fierce and bitter four-month battle, Bataan fell on April 9, 1942 and Corregidor a month later on May 6. This delayed the timetable of the Japanese from occupying the entire Asia Pacific and gave the Allied forces time to marshal the forces that impeded the Japanese invasion of Australia. And yet, in the United States, this important date is not commemorated, not taught in schools. It didn't even garner a footnote in major publications on its 70th anniversary. In this country, few people know that most of the fighting and dying were made by Filipinos. On top of this, their rights as veterans were rescinded by the US in 1946. To this day, these rights have not been fully restored.

    Approximately 10,000 soldiers were killed in action in Bataan and another 800 in Corregidor. Another tragedy of Bataan lies in the death of another 15,000 soldiers, mostly sick and emaciated, when they were forced to march some 60 miles away to their prison camp. What led to this unfortunate disaster?

    When I was growing up in the Philippines, General Douglas MacArthur was lionized and hailed as the savior of the Filipino people during World War II. His unforgettable words, “I shall return” have been etched in the minds of many Filipinos, and his arrival on Oct. 17, 1944 in the shores of Leyte established his status of the conquering hero. However, if we examine MacArthur's series of decisions regarding the Filipino soldiers, nothing could be further from the truth.

    In 1935, MacArthur became Field Marshall of the Philippine Commonwealth Army, as well as its Military Advisor -- with the task of creating an army in preparation for its eventual independence in 1946. So confident was MacArthur of his defense plan, that he declared: "no Chancellery in the World will ever willingly make an attempt to willfully attack the Philippines.” On July 26, 1941, because of worsening relations with Japan, the US Congress ordered the Philippine Commonwealth Army into the service of the United States. MacArthur was placed in command of the US Forces of the Far East (USAFFE). The new recruits were only provided with a month or two of training using World War I artillery, and many were not provided proper uniforms, shoes or helmets.

    A few hours after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, General Brereton of the Far East Air Force requested permission from MacArthur’s Chief of Staff Col. Richard Sutherland to bomb the Japanese harbor in Takao, Formosa in compliance of Rainbow 5 War Plan. His multiple requests were withheld by MacArthur and ultimately deferred in favor of a photographic reconnaissance. As a consequence, Japanese bombers attacked Clark Field, Nichols, and Iba Air Bases -- destroying more than half of the air force fleet that day.

    Furthermore, instead of enacting War Plan Orange #3, which provided for the prolonged defense of Luzon from the peninsula of Bataan, MacArthur ordered his men to meet the Japanese on the beachhead. The Japanese army proved to be a formidable match, so that by December 24, MacArthur switched his plan to War Plan Orange. There was not enough time to transfer much-needed food, medicine and ammunition to Bataan. Ten million pounds of rice at Cabanatuan could not be moved out of the province, and by law, had to be destroyed instead of transported to Bataan. General MacArthur’s staff also forbade the transfer to Bataan of Japanese-owned stocks of food and clothing. As a result, the men of Bataan only had a thirty-day supply of unbalanced field rations for 100,000 men.

    Little did the men in Bataan know that their fate was already sealed on December 22, 1941 when Roosevelt and Churchill decided that their prime objective was to save Europe first. But even on February 9, 1942, President Roosevelt continued to reassure President Quezon of his support: "So long as the flag of the United States flies on Filipino soil," Roosevelt assured Quezon, ". . . it will be defended by our own men to the death."

    MacArthur's message to the troops was also a promise of aid and a call to valor. "Help is on the way from the United States," he had said. "Thousands of troops and hundreds of planes are being dispatched. The exact time of arrival of reinforcements is unknown as they will have to fight their way through...." Help and relief never came. MacArthur made only one recorded visit to the Bataan front, earning him the name “Dugout Dug”.

    The desolate men of Bataan called themselves the “Battling Bastards of Bataan”. A poem was written by American correspondent Frank Hewlett in 1942:

    We’re the battling bastards of Bataan

    No mama, no papa, no Uncle Sam

    No aunts, no uncles, no cousins, no nieces,

    No pills, no planes, no artillery pieces

    And nobody gives a damn

    Nobody gives a damn.

    In 1979, historian Carol Petillo discovered a memorandum from the papers of chief of staff General Sutherland, revealing a conveyance of $640,000 made in January 1942 from the Philippine Treasury to the personal bank accounts of MacArthur and his immediate staff. Philippine Commonwealth President Quezon provided MacArthur a bonus of 46/100 of 1% of the defense spending up to 1942, and yet the Filipino troops were not provided proper uniforms, shoes, or even helmets.

    Most books written about Bataan are from an American perspective. Some even deride the Filipinos’ role. In the April 2007 issue of America in WWII, a division commander reported, “the native troops did only two things well. One, when an officer appeared to yell attention in a loud voice, jump up and salute; the other, to demand three meals per day.”

    The voices of the Filipino soldiers who served in Bataan and Corregidor are slowly fading into silence. Will they ever receive justice? Will they ever get their due glory?

    ***

    Cecilia Gaerlan is a Bay Area playwright based in Berkeley, California. She has recently adapted for the stage her debut novel In Her Mother's Image. During the past year she has been creating awareness of the Fall of Bataan and the Bataan Death March in a series of lectures.
    General MacArthur and the Fall of Bataan and Corregidor - New America Media
    To sit down with these men and deal with them as the representatives of an enlightened and civilized people is to deride ones own dignity and to invite the disaster of their treachery - General Matthew Ridgway

  • #2
    Comments?

    About MacArthur? Clearly a person where much ado about nothing fits to a T, or

    the last sentence about Filipino soldiers and will they ever receive justice? What
    are they looking for? Acknowledgment or $$$. Let me guess...

    Comment


    • #3
      1. The payment to MacArthur was IAW his contract as Field Marshall and Military Advisor to the Commonwealth Government of the Philippines. That he accepted the money as his salary has no bearing on his decisions within context of this discussion. Its a strawman thrown into the argument.

      2. April 9 is the Anniversary of the Surrender at Appomattox of Lee's Army; 6 May is the Battle of the Wilderness. But 6 May is also the date of the end of Coral Sea, a US victory. What happenned in World War 2 in its dark days barely scratches the surface of what is taught in American history. Sorry but that is it. FYI 6 May 1943 is the start of the last Allied Offensive in North Africa...are the Tunisians pissed because we dont celebrate that? Oh, and 6 May 1945 was pretty important day in Europe...the firing stops, 7 May the surrender documents are signed and 8 May is VE Day...so which day do you think is commemorated in the US?

      3. Filipino veterans were treated badly after the war...agree. But some restitution has been mad with more hopefully in the future.

      4. That said, were Filipinos who fought the Japanese doing so on their behalf or for the US? Does the US owe restitution to Australians who fought on New Guinea? No.

      Every day is the anniversary of something significant in our past....but they are just not commemorated.

      Someone has an axe to grind....go take it somewhere else.
      “Loyalty to country ALWAYS. Loyalty to government, when it deserves it.”
      Mark Twain

      Comment


      • #4
        “Dugout Dug” got to remember that
        J'ai en marre.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by 1979 View Post
          “Dugout Dug” got to remember that
          It's bull. MacArthur was recklessly brave to the point of suicide. As Japanese planes were attacking the positions on Corregidor, the men would be dashing into the bunkers as MacArthur was striding out of them to observe the attack. He would routinely expose himself to enemy fire to get a better look at things, throughout the war. He was no coward.
          “Never let yourself be persuaded that any one Great Man, any one leader, is necessary to the salvation of America. When America consists of one leader and 158 million followers, it will no longer be America.”
          ― Dwight D. Eisenhower

          Comment


          • #6
            he was no coward, but he wasn't much of a commander, either.
            There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "My ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."- Isaac Asimov

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Albany Rifles View Post
              1
              Someone has an axe to grind....go take it somewhere else.
              Exactly. These guys are in their 80's just like my Dad. Are they the ones lobbying for their rights to be reinstated? No, it is their children who are lobbying and not because their father may deserve it. I don't exactly know what these rights comprise of but the younger members of the families are very interested in them. I have been in the Embassy in Manila and many times have seen elderly Filipinos sitting while a family member in the 30's pleads his case to the Embassy officer. Call me cynical but from what I have seen everything in the Philippines revolves around money, money and more money.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by TopHatter View Post
                It's bull. MacArthur was recklessly brave to the point of suicide. As Japanese planes were attacking the positions on Corregidor, the men would be dashing into the bunkers as MacArthur was striding out of them to observe the attack. He would routinely expose himself to enemy fire to get a better look at things, throughout the war. He was no coward.
                A brave man on Corregidor, while Bataan held until April.
                J'ai en marre.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by 1979 View Post
                  A brave man on Corregidor, while Bataan held until April.
                  Corregidor was hardly a "safe zone". And his wife and son shared the danger with him as well. He was determined to stay until the end (with his family) but for FDR giving him a direct order to leave. The luxury liner (meaning rickety and ill-maintained PT Boat) that transported them to Australia was equally risky, even without the IJN prowling about.
                  “Never let yourself be persuaded that any one Great Man, any one leader, is necessary to the salvation of America. When America consists of one leader and 158 million followers, it will no longer be America.”
                  ― Dwight D. Eisenhower

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by 1979 View Post
                    A brave man on Corregidor, while Bataan held until April.
                    He was the overall commander....he was not the commander of Bataan.

                    He did not belong on Bataan anymore than Eisenhower belonged on Omaha Beach or Nimitz on Tarawa.
                    “Loyalty to country ALWAYS. Loyalty to government, when it deserves it.”
                    Mark Twain

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by astralis View Post
                      he was no coward, but he wasn't much of a commander, either.
                      Oh I don't know. His tactic of bypassing islands was a lot better than the Admirals attack-head-on-with-the-marines approach to every Japanese redoubt.
                      In the realm of spirit, seek clarity; in the material world, seek utility.

                      Leibniz

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Parihaka View Post
                        Oh I don't know. His tactic of bypassing islands was a lot better than the Admirals attack-head-on-with-the-marines approach to every Japanese redoubt.
                        It was a navy strategy...

                        While Mac was battling in new Guinea the Navy began the strategy with the invasion of Guadalcanal. The navy was in command for the invasions of various islands in the Solomons, Marshals, Gilberts, Marianas (Saipan), Guam, Iwo Jima, Okinawa. Multiple major Japanese military targets were by-passed like Truk and Rabual. Some major Japanese bases that could not be by-passed where hit like Saipan and Iwo Jima and other prestige targets had to be taken like Guam but by and large the USN used its strategic mobility to apply force to weakness.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Parihaka View Post
                          Oh I don't know. His tactic of bypassing islands was a lot better than the Admirals attack-head-on-with-the-marines approach to every Japanese redoubt.
                          Mac was like the girl with the curl, when he was good he was very, very good (some ops in the Sth pacific, Inchon, occupation of Japan) when he was bad he was awful (defence of Phillippines, advance toward China in Korea & probably a few more, including behaviour toward his bosses in the US).

                          Rather than using the derogatory 'dugout doug', Australian soldiers often called him 'Choco Doug', a reference to the current musical film 'the Chocolate Soldier'. In their minds it was a dig at his pretentious & sometimes bombastic behaviour. This sat poorly with Australian troops when they percieved it in British or Australian officers too.
                          sigpic

                          Win nervously lose tragically - Reds C C

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            MMMmm, but then again, Australians soldiers didn't exactly warm to Statesiders any old how on the relative peace of home soil.
                            Gran was in the first intake for the transport girls. Ended up in Brisbane. Best described as a race riot half the time (tongue in cheek) I think!
                            Ego Numquam

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Parihaka View Post
                              Oh I don't know. His tactic of bypassing islands was a lot better than the Admirals attack-head-on-with-the-marines approach to every Japanese redoubt.
                              Island hopping was used in both theaters.

                              If you notice the Central Pacific Campaign all the islands selected were to logical to expand the reach of airpower and more logistics areas forward. It was not a slug it out for every island across the Pacific. A lot of territory was cut off and marginalized by this very strategy. Truk was neutralized, Wake was left behind, etc.

                              And the tactic of hitting where your enemy is the weakest was hardly a new innovation developed by MacArthur.

                              MacArthur was a pretty good theater commander as was Nimitz. Their missions were different as were the theaters where they operated. Right men for the job.
                              “Loyalty to country ALWAYS. Loyalty to government, when it deserves it.”
                              Mark Twain

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