Battle of Philippines, 1941-1942

Battle of Philippines: December 8, 1941 - May 6, 1942


The attack on the Philippines started on December 8, 1941, just ten hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. As at Pearl Harbor, the American aircraft were entirely destroyed on the ground. Lacking air cover, the American Asiatic Fleet in the Philippines withdrew to Java on December 12, 1941.

Japanese troops landed at the Lingayen Gulf on December 22, 1941 and advanced across central Luzon towards Manila. On the advice of Philippine President Manuel Quezon, General Douglas MacArthur declared Manila an open city on December 25, 1941, and moved the Commonwealth government to Corregidor. The Japanese occupied Manila on January 2, 1942.

MacArthur concentrated his troops on the Bataan peninsula to await the relief of reinforcements from the United States that, after the destruction at Pearl Harbor, could never come.

General Douglas MacArthur, under orders from Roosevelt, secretly left the Philippines by PT boat for Australia on March 11, 1942, leaving Major-General Wainwright in command. Upon arriving in Australia, MacArthur proclaimed: "I came through and I shall return." Despite a determined defense by the hungry and disease-ridden American and Filipino troops, Bataan was forced to surrender on April 9, 1942. Almost 78,000 troops were captured by the Japanese. But for the defenders of the peninsula, the ordeal was only the beginning. The "Bataan Death March" was to severely test the resolve of Allied soldiers. Many troops died of exhaustion or hunger, as well as at the hands of their merciless captors during the sixty-mile trek to the prison at Camp O'Donnell.

The Battle of the Philippines lasted until May 6, 1942, when General Wainwright surrendered Corregidor, the last American stronghold in the Philippines.