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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Battle of the Philippines 1941 to 1942

The Japanese Imperial army began their attack on the Philippines ten hours after they have bombed the American fleet in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on Dec 8, 1941. Since then, the Japanese army pushed on with their relentless attack on the stunned and demobilized American forces. It was the start of what historians call “The Battle of the Philippines.”

Japanese tanks moving towards Manila during attack of the Philippine City

On Dec 22, 1941, barely 14 days after the Japanese Kamikaze’s air strike on Clark Field in Pampanga, and Subic Bay in Olongapo, the Japanese forces landed in Lingayen Gulf in Pangasinan. They forged on to capture prime Luzon provinces.

As the Japanese troops marched to Manila, on December 25, 1941, the then Philippine President Manuel L. Quezon and General Douglas MacArthur decided to declare Manila an open city to prevent unnecessary destruction to life and property.

The American and Philippine troops retreated to Corregidor, a small fortified island in Bataan, to recoup their strength and wait for reinforcements. When help was not forthcoming because of the destruction wreaked by the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the Philippine President and Gen. MacArthur sailed to Australia on March 11, 1942 on the instructions of US President Roosevelt. Gen. MacArthur said before he left, his now famous quote, “I shall return.”

On April 9, 1942, Bataan was conquered by the invading Japanese troops. About 80,000 troops - most of them sick and hungry - took the long march from Bataan to Camp O'Donnell Capas, Tarlac. This was called “The Bataan Death March.”

The distance from Bataan to Capas, Tarlac was around 100 kilometers (62 miles,) and Filipinos and Americans were shot to death or bayoneted if they were unable to walk further because of hunger or injury.

The exact figure was unaccounted for, but historians believed about 6,000 Filipinos and Americans died that day. Some have managed to escape to recount the inhumane treatment and gruesome tales that happened during that fateful day.

On May 6, 1942, General Wainwright surrendered Corregidor to the Japanese troops; it was the last American and Philippines’ stronghold. This allowed the complete surrender of both the American and Philippine troops to the Japanese army. This war from 1941 to 1942 was called the Battle of the Philippines.

The Philippines and the valiant heroes in Camp O’Donell, however, were not forgotten by Gen. MacArthur; he landed in Leyte on Oct 20, 1944.together with Philippine president Sergio Osmena, and the liberation of the Philippines started.

On Sept 3, 1945, after the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan, Japanese troops finally surrendered, and Commander Gen. Yamashita surrendered to Gen. Wainwright, to finally put an end to the Pacific War.