Withdrawal in the South

The withdrawal of the American and Philippine troops south of Manila began at the same time that General Wainwright's forces evacuated the D-1 line. At about 1000, 24 December, General Parker had turned over command of the South Luzon Force to General Jones and left for Bataan. Jones, who retained command of the 51st Division (PA), inherited four American officers from Parker's staff. It was fortunate that he did, for there were none on his division staff.1

Jones' orders when he assumed command of the South Luzon Force were to "block the enemy advance" and, "when forced to do so," withdraw past the open city of Manila and join Wainwright's forces north of the city.2 While USAFFE orders directed General Jones to "harass and delay to the utmost the advance of the enemy," they made clear that his primary mission was to get his troops out of south Luzon and into Bataan.3

The force under General Jones's command was much smaller than Wainwright's North Luzon Force. It consisted primarily of the 1st Infantry of the 1st Division (PA) and the inadequately trained and poorly equipped 51st Division (PA), which had for its artillery component only one battalion of eight British 75's. The 42d Infantry, 41st Division (PA), was assigned to beach defense on the west side of the island. The rest of the division had gone with General Parker to Bataan. Artillery support for the South Luzon Force was provided by the three batteries of 155-mm. GPF's of the 86th Field Artillery, defending the beaches in southwest Luzon, and three batteries of 75-mm. guns (SPM) organized into the 2d Provisional Group.4 Armored support was limited to one company-Company C of the 194th Tank Battalion-detached from the parent organization with the North Luzon Force.

The Japanese force in south Luzon was numerically smaller than the composite American and Philippine force defending the area. Drawn from the 16th Division and led by the division commander, Lt. Gen. Susumu Morioka, it consisted of the 20th Infantry, the 16th Reconnaissance Regiment, and supporting arms and services.


General Morioka's route to the Philippine capital was not as broad or as smooth as that followed by General Tsuchibashi in the north. The Japanese in northern Luzon had the wide central plain to traverse; the path of the 16th Division was blocked by mountains and broad lakes. (Map 7) Immediately after landing at Lamon Bay, Morioka had crossed the steep Tayabas Mountains with the major part of his force. Before him were the towering heights of Mt. Banahao. To reach Manila he would have to skirt the southern slopes of this obstacle and follow Route 1 westward. Once beyond Mt. Banahao he could turn north toward the huge inland lake called Laguna de Bay, follow Route 1 along its western shore, thence through the narrow corridor between the lake and Manila Bay into the city of Manila itself. The smaller force which had landed at Mauban would have to skirt the northern foothills of Mt. Banahao, move along the south shore of Laguna de Bay to Route 1, then northward to the capital city. The two enemy forces would have to act independently until they were halfway to Manila.

If the Japanese advance westward in two columns made mutual support of the two columns impossible once Mt. Banahao was reached, it also presented General Jones with a serious problem: to maintain contact between his units in order to avoid hostile flanking movements. He solved his problem by assigning a half-track patrol from Company C, 194th Tank Battalion, to patrol the north-south road in front (east) of Mt. Banahao. This patrol was charged with maintaining contact between the 1st Infantry to the north and the 52d and 53d Infantry on the south.5

Withdrawal From Mauban

Of the two Japanese columns moving west from Lamon Bay, the northernmost, which had landed at Mauban, was the weaker, its mission the less important. This force, led by Colonel Tsunehiro, was numerically small, about the size of a battalion combat team, and consisted of the 2d Battalion, 20th Infantry, supported by a battery of the 22d Field Artillery. Unless it was allowed to advance entirely unchecked, Tsunehiro's force could have no decisive effect on the outcome of the action. Its mission was merely to advance along the south shore of Laguna de Bay toward Manila. If necessary, Tsunehiro could turn south shortly after capturing Lucban to aid the main force of the 16th Division advancing from Atimonan.6

Opposing Colonel Tsunehiro was the 1st Infantry (less 3d Battalion) of the 1st Regular Division (PA), dug in near Sampaloc, seven miles west of Mauban. At 0300 on Christmas Day it began an unauthorized withdrawal toward Lucban, about eight miles to the west. General Jones did not learn of this move until noon when, as he was about to begin his Christmas dinner, a motorcycle messenger from the half-track patrol of Company C, 194th Tank Battalion, came in with the news. He immedi-


Map:  Withdrawal in the South, 25-31 December 1941



Photo:  Motorcycle messenger catnapping


ately went forward to stop the retreat. Meanwhile, the Japanese reached Sampaloc, which they took without opposition. From there they pushed on toward the barrio of Piis, four miles distant.

General Jones located the headquarters of the 1st Infantry near Luisiana, about six miles northwest of Lucban on Route 23. Angered by the retreat, he demanded of Maj. Ralph E. Rumbold, the senior American instructor, "just what the devil" he meant by pulling back. Rumbold replied that he had been ordered to do so by the commander of the South Luzon Force, "General Parker." Jones thereupon informed him that he, Jones, now commanded the South Luzon Force, and that the 1st Infantry was to establish contact with the enemy immediately.7 With a halftrack from the tank company General Jones set out in his own vehicle ahead of the 1st Infantry to seek a suitable delaying position. At about 1900, near Piis, he met an enemy patrol. The Japanese, equipped with machine guns, opened fire on Jones's party and disabled the half-track. The patrol was finally dispersed and Jones returned to the 1st Infantry, the half-track crew hiking back carrying its machine gun. By this time Rumbold had pushed forward toward Piis but


had been halted by a combination of rain, darkness, and enemy fire.8

On his return to the 1st Infantry lines late that night General Jones ordered Major Rumbold to fight a delaying action until he was forced to withdraw. He was to retire northwest along Route 23 to a point above Luisiana and hold there until further notice.

The next morning, 26 December, Rumbold ordered the 2d Platoon, Company C, 194th Tank Battalion, which General Jones had attached to the 1st Infantry the previous evening, to attack the Japanese in Piis. Lt. Robert F. Needham, the platoon leader, suggested a reconnaissance first, but was told that it would be unnecessary since the enemy was understood to have nothing larger than .50-caliber machine guns. Advancing in column along the narrow road, the tanks ran into a strong Japanese roadblock consisting of antitank guns, 75-mm. guns, and several machine guns. The enemy block had been prepared the previous evening, after the fight with General Jones's half-track, in expectation of an American mechanized attack. During the action that followed, the platoon's lead and rear tanks were knocked out, immobilizing the others on the narrow road, and Lieutenant Needham and his crew in the lead tank killed. The surviving tankers managed to escape, to drift back finally into the American lines at the end of the month.9

Deprived of tank support, the 1st Infantry fell back to the junction of the Mauban road and Route 23. Here it was joined shortly before noon by more than three hundred retired Philippine Scouts led by Maj. Montgomery McKee, a retired Scout officer. These grizzled veterans, trained and disciplined by a lifetime in the Scouts, had long since served their time. Called on to bolster the raw Filipino troops, they assembled hurriedly near Fort McKinley and, in a fleet of taxicabs, rushed to the front. General Jones immediately attached them to the 1st Infantry and replaced Major Rumbold with McKee, their commander. These "seasoned, trained men," wrote Col. Stuart C. MacDonald, South Luzon Force chief of staff, "definitely stiffened the green 1st Infantry."10

Meanwhile, Colonel Tsunehiro had been advancing along the Mauban road. When he reached the road junction where the 1st Infantry and the Scouts were dug in, he was met by determined resistance. For several hours there was a hard fight; finally at about 1400 the defenders were forced to pull out and fall back along Route 23 toward Luisiana to the northwest. The Japanese did not follow immediately but continued southwest to Lucban, only a short distance away, which they reached at dusk.

The next morning reports of Japanese troop movements northward began to reach the 1st Infantry. These reports were accurate. Minor elements of the 16th Reconnaissance Regiment, which had landed at Atimonan, had come west and north along Route 23 to join Tsunehiro in Lucban about noon. The 1st Infantry thereupon continued to withdraw that day and the next. Part of Tsunehiro's force was pushing northwest toward Luisiana along Route 23 and another column had struck out along an unimproved road west of Lucban. The first and stronger element entered Luisiana


about noon of the 28th while the column to the west occupied Majayjay at about the same time.

The Japanese advance in two columns constituted a real threat to the 1st Infantry. If the element to the west pushed on rapidly it might reach the south shore of Laguna de Bay before the Philippine regulars and cut their line of retreat. The 1st Infantry, therefore, at 1000 on 28 December, began to fall back to Calauan on Route 2 which paralleled the south shore of Laguna de Bay. Withdrawal to Calauan meant a circuitous march of twenty-five miles, first north and northwest along Route 23 to Santa Cruz, then southwest along Route 21. The regiment began its march at 1000 on 28 December, but before it could reach its destination and set up defensive positions it was directed to proceed to Los Banos, seven miles farther along Route 21. From Los Banos it was a short distance to Route 1, the main road northward to Manila.11 The 3d Battalion of the 1st Infantry, stationed originally to the north, pulled back at the same time to Pililla on the north shore of the lake, where it was in position to halt an enemy advance to Manila from that direction.

By 29 December the 1st Infantry, forming the north flank of the South Luzon Force, had withdrawn successfully from Mauban on Lamon Bay to Los Banos along the south shore of Laguna de Bay, a distance of thirty-five miles. It was now in position to move quickly around the lake and northward past Manila through San Fernando, thence to Bataan.

Withdrawal From Atimonan

The withdrawal from Atimonan had begun at the same time, on Christmas Day, as the 1st Infantry's withdrawal from Mauban and General Wainwright's stand at the Agno River. At Atimonan the Japanese had landed a force consisting of the 16th Reconnaissance Regiment, more than a battalion of the 20th Infantry, a comparable force from the 22d Field Artillery, almost all of the 16th Engineers, and other service units. To oppose this Japanese force, which by 25 December had crossed the mountains west of Atimonan and was advancing along Route 1 toward Pagbilao, General Jones had initially the equivalent of a reinforced regiment of infantry. From Col. Virgil N. Cordero's 52d Infantry he had the 2d and 3d Battalions (less one company); and from Col. John R. Boatwright's 53d Infantry, the 1st Battalion. A detachment from Lt. Col. David S. Babcock's 2d Provisional Group of SPM's was in support. Only Cordero's men were in contact with the enemy along Route 1.12

Pagbilao, fifteen miles inland from Atimonan on Route 1 and the immediate Japanese objective, is an important road junction in south Luzon. From there a road leads northwest to Tayabas, about seven miles away, where it joins Route 23, along which the 1st Infantry, farther north, was withdrawing. Route 1 turns southwest at Pagbilao to join that village with Lucena. The road then changes direction sharply to travel northwest to meet the road linking Tayabas with Sariaya. Route 1 then continues west through Sariaya and Candelaria


to Tiaong, where it turns north toward Manila. Tayabas and Lucena are linked by the southern portion of Route 23. The road net between Pagbilao and Sariaya is shaped like a kite, with its tail (Route 1) stretching eastward to Atimonan. Before Pagbilao, flowing due south, is the Palsabangon River, intersecting Route 1 about 3,000 yards east of the village.

On Christmas Day Colonel Cordero's 52d Infantry was ordered to hold the Pagbilao-Tayabas road, and Colonel Boatwright's one battalion of the 53d was posted on the east shore of the Palsabangon River to cover the east-west road and Cordero's line of retreat. When the Japanese reached the river they were halted briefly by Boatwright's 53d Infantry troops to permit final preparations for the demolition of the bridge and the crossing of Cordero's men. The last 52d Infantry troops crossed under enemy fire and the bridge was blown almost in the face of the pursuing Japanese. Colonel Cordero continued through the 53d Infantry lines to positions about 2,000 yards northwest of Pagbilao, along the Tayabas road. Boatwright remained at the river line to oppose the expected Japanese crossing.

The Japanese were held up only briefly at the Palsabangon River. During the afternoon, they forced a crossing and established a bridgehead on the west bank of the river. Colonel Boatwright's battalion withdrew quickly along Route 1 through Pagbilao. The Japanese who had forced the crossing, the 16th Reconnaissance Regiment, reinforced, did not pursue Boatwright but turned northwest toward Tayabas instead to follow Cordero's 52d Infantry. The pursuit of the 53d Infantry along Route 1 fell to the 3d Battalion, 20th Infantry, which had crossed the Palsabangon behind the 16th Reconnaissance. By evening of the 25th the Japanese were in possession of Pagbilao and in full pursuit of the two American columns withdrawing rapidly toward Tayabas and Lucena.

The Japanese were too close for comfort. To cover the retirement of the 52d and 53d Infantry, General Jones hurriedly made new dispositions the next day. He pulled back the 3d Battalion, 53d Infantry, from its position on beach defense along Tayabas Bay and attached it to the provisional infantry battalion formed earlier from the 51st Field Artillery (less two batteries). This unit, led by Col. Hamilton F. Searight, Jones further strengthened by attaching a platoon of Company C, 194th Tank Battalion. He then ordered Searight to dig in along Route 1 at the eastern edge of Sariaya and to hold there until the troops of the two infantry regiments moving back from Tayabas and Lucena passed through his lines.

The two Japanese columns, meanwhile, were pushing forward determinedly. Along Route 1, the 3d Battalion, 20th Infantry, followed Boatwright's battalion, which passed through Lucena early on the 26th to reach Sariaya about 1530 that afternoon. The Japanese battalion, which had had a late start, did not enter Lucena until 2100 that night. To the northwest Colonel Cordero's 52d Infantry pulled back through Tayabas early in the morning, then turned southwest toward Sariaya, blowing bridges as it retired. The regiment passed through Searight's lines that evening, some hours after the 53d Infantry. The 16th Reconnaissance, delayed by obstacles and blown bridges, reached Tayabas at 1600. From there it sent forward a patrol northward along Route 23 to establish contact with Colonel Tsunehiro's force nearing Lucban. By nightfall of the 26th General Morioka held the entire area east of Sariaya, with its


important network of roads, and was in position to drive west along Route 1 or north on Route 23.

General Jones's position, while far from desperate, was not favorable. Unlike Wainwright in the north, who by evening of the 26th was on the D-3 line, he had no phase lines or previously reconnoitered positions to fall back to. In the absence of these, he improvised a system of delaying positions. Along terrain favorable to defense, he set up his front lines. To the rear he established a secondary line, behind whatever obstacles the terrain offered. Since it was practically impossible, as one staff officer noted, "to rally our troops . . . without a considerable lapse of time" after a line had been hit hard, the stragglers from the front lines were collected at the secondary line, re-formed, and put into position along a third line.13 To make matters more difficult and confusing, the units became so mixed during the withdrawal that it was practically impossible to call them by their proper designations. They were identified instead, in the Japanese manner, by their commander's name. "Our tactics," observed Colonel Shreve in his diary, "have been unique."14

The evacuation of supplies and equipment proved as difficult in south Luzon as it did in the north, and for the same reasons. The quartermaster supply depot at Los Banos was never evacuated, probably because of the shortage of transportation. Eventually, division trains moving through Los Banos picked up all the supplies they could carry; the remainder was reported destroyed. The shipment to Bataan of the six 155-mm. GPF's, emplaced along the west coast, proved extremely difficult. USAFFE's order directing that the prime movers, 10-ton tractors, be sent to Bataan left the GPF's without transportation. Finally, by changes in orders and desperate improvisations, the 155's were moved out of position. By the evening of the 26th, they were on their way to Bataan.15

At 1900 on 26 December General Jones established his foward command post at Candelaria, seven miles west of Sariaya, on Route 1. Here he organized his first line of defense. Along the two rivers which bracketed the town on the east and west, Jones posted Colonel Boatwright's 53d Infantry (less 3d Battalion). The main line of resistance was established along the river west of the city, with an outpost line on the river to the east. The bridges over both rivers were prepared for destruction. At the same time, General Jones set up a secondary line six miles behind Candelaria, at Lusacan, with Colonel Cordero's 52d Infantry. Troops of the 53d Infantry would fall back through Cordero's line when they withdrew from Candelaria.

With two lines across the enemy's route of advance, Jones pulled Searight back from Sariaya to Tiaong, about 3,000 yards west of Lusacan, where Route 1 turns north toward Laguna de Bay. Searight broke contact with the enemy at 0100 on the 27th, his troops moving to the rear in buses.

General Morioka, meanwhile, had concentrated his forces at Lucena, sending the 16th Reconnaissance Regiment in pursuit of the retreating South Luzon Force. The destruction of the four large bridges be-


Photo:  Camouflaged 155-mm. gun M1917 (GPF), towed by a 10-ton tractor

CAMOUFLAGED 155-MM. GUN M1917 (GPF), towed by a 10-ton tractor.

tween Tayabas and Sariaya held up the vehicles, and the reconnaissance regiment was forced to advance toward Candelaria on foot. On the afternoon of the 27th the Japanese finally reached the town and broke through the outpost line. Passing through the town quickly, they hit the main line of resistance about dusk. The Filipinos, failing to recognize their own troops falling back before the advancing Japanese, opened fire on their comrades. Fortunately, little damage was done and few lives lost. Behind the retreating troops came the Japanese. Despite determined opposition, they forced a crossing of the river and by 2030 of the 27th the 53d Infantry (less 3d Battalion) was in full retreat. On General Jones's orders, Colonel Boatwright's troops continued on to the rear for much needed rest and reorganization, and the following day moved out of southern Luzon to Bataan.16

The Japanese did not stop at Candelaria. Pushing ahead aggressively, they reached Lusacan, six miles away, on the morning of the 28th. Here they ran into Colonel Cordero's 52d Infantry, deployed along the secondary line of defense. The Japanese were able to outflank Cordero's position quickly and at 0915 the American commander abandoned his position and retired toward Tiaong.

The American position at Tiaong, guarding the defile through which Route 1 led north, was a strong one. Protected on both flanks by high ground, it was ideal for a prolonged stand, and General Jones decided


that he would make a determined effort to hold here. In the line he placed about four battalions of infantry, a battery of field artillery, and all his tanks and self-propelled artillery. The SPM's were deployed so as to provide direct support for the infantry, and the eight guns of the 51st Artillery were placed on high ground to the left of the main defenses, enfilading the path of the Japanese advance. To secure the rear, Jones withdrew the Philippine Scout detachment under Major McKee from the 1st Infantry and placed it in position about eight miles north of Tiaong. The 51st Infantry (less 1st Battalion) was placed at Lipa, eleven miles to the west, in position to cover the approaches from that direction. The 2d Philippine Constabulary Regiment, part of the 1st Constabulary Brigade, was in general reserve. From Santiago, about six miles southwest of Los Banos, it could support either the Tiaong position or the troops along the lake.

Despite these elaborate preparations no stand was made at Tiaong. By the evening of the 28th General MacArthur had apparently become apprehensive about the right flank of Wainwright's North Luzon Force which was now on the D-4 line. He therefore ordered General Jones to hurry his withdrawal and to get out of South Luzon in time to pass safely behind Wainwright's lines. The entire South Luzon Force was to be across the Calumpit bridges by 0600 of the first day of the new year.

These orders meant the abandonment of the strong position at Tiaong, and it was with reluctance that Jones, shortly after midnight, 28-29 December, ordered the troops there to fall back to Santiago. Colonel Cordero's 52d Infantry with a battery of the 51st Field Artillery left at 0200, and reached the bivouac area north of Santiago four hours later. By midnight Cordero was on his way to Bataan. The 51st Infantry at Lipa also withdrew to Santiago on the 29th and then continued north along the lake to Alabang where it went into mobile reserve. Brig. Gen. Simeon de Jesus' 1st Constabulary Brigade (less the 2d Regiment), part of the 2d Division formed from the Constabulary on the outbreak of war, relieved the 42d Infantry, still on beach defense, and took up positions covering Routes 17 and 25 leading into Manila. The 42d Infantry withdrew by bus to Bataan. That night South Luzon Force headquarters moved to Fort McKinley.17

By evening of 29 December the South Luzon Force stood in position at Santiago, with flank guards at Los Banos and on Routes 17 and 25, and a mobile reserve at Alabang to the north. Approximately half of the 51st Division was already on its way to Bataan. The rest of the South Luzon Force was ready to follow. To the south the van of the Japanese forces, the 16th Reconnaissance Regiment, was just entering Tiaong.

Out of South Luzon

Not long after the South Luzon Force had started hurriedly for Bataan, it was halted by orders from the rear echelon headquarters of USAFFE in Manila. About 1030 of the 30th General Jones was notified by Lt. Col. Jesse Traywick, G-3 of that headquarters, that he was to withdraw no farther unless forced to do so by enemy pressure.18 Probably the change in orders was an attempt to delay the final evacuation of Manila, thus gaining time for the transfer


of additional equipment to Bataan and Corregidor. Jones, unaware of the situation to the north, was puzzled by the new order, coming as it did but thirty-six hours after the order calling for a top-speed withdrawal. But without question and happy for an opportunity to meet the enemy, he immediately made his plans. He went forward to Santiago where the bulk of his force was and arranged an ambush. The position was an excellent one, the force adequate, and time sufficient to prepare the trap. Except for a few patrols, the Japanese were still around Tiaong and Candelaria, consolidating and moving up equipment and supplies, the last of which had been landed about noon of the 28th. Those elements advancing were doing so slowly and cautiously.

Again Jones was to be deprived of his chance to pick a fight with the Japanese. General Homma's main force of infantry, tanks, and artillery in northern Luzon had broken through at Cabanatuan and was pressing down Route 5. With Wainwright's right flank exposed and the North Luzon Force "in a very precarious position" there was a real possibility that the Japanese would succeed in driving a wedge between the North and South Luzon Forces.19 General MacArthur on Corregidor immediately saw the danger to his scheme for withdrawal to Bataan and, through his deputy chief of staff in Manila, General Marshall, made plans to meet the emergency. On the evening of the 30th, Marshall telephoned the South Luzon Force command post at McKinley and spoke to Colonel MacDonald, the chief of staff, who took the call in General Jones's absence. Marshall directed MacDonald to return immediately to the original plan of withdrawal so as to clear the Calumpit bridges not later than 0600 of 1 January. He stressed the importance of covering the bridges from the north and east by holding Plaridel seven miles to the east and made the South Luzon Force responsible for this task. When informed that the 51st Infantry was "ready to roll" Marshall "seemed quite relieved." "Very evidently," wrote Mac- Donald, "something very bad had happened in NLF, just what the situation is there, we still didn't know."20

Unable to reach General Jones at Santiago, MacDonald issued the necessary orders for the withdrawal. The 2d Philippine Constabulary was returned to General de Jesus, the brigade commander, who was ordered to relieve all other elements of the South Luzon Force and to cover their withdrawal. He placed one of his regiments in position to block Routes 17 and 25, and the other to cover Routes 1 and 21. The 1st Infantry was now free to continue its withdrawal and moved around Manila to Bataan. The force at Santiago was ordered to fall back through the Constabulary and the mobile reserve-51st Infantry (less 1st Battalion) plus a battery of the 51st Field Artillery-to proceed immediately to Plaridel to meet General Marshall's requirements for more troops in that area. When these units had cleared Manila, General de Jesus was to pull his brigade back first to Fort McKinley and then, on the night of 31 December- 1 January, to Bataan, clearing the Calumpit bridges by 0600 of New Year's Day.21


General Jones returned to his command post from Santiago as the units began to move to their new locations. Unaware as yet of the change in orders, the general "was astonished to find that the greater part of the CP was already on the road to Plaridel," and hastened after it.22 Lt. Col. Arthur L. Shreve, the G-3 and artillery officer, and Capt. Arthur G. Christensen, intelligence officer, had left McKinley in an old taxi shortly before midnight. Stopping in Manila for sandwiches, beer, and ice cream, they arrived at Plaridel and opened the new command post in a schoolhouse at 0400, 31 December. Colonel Shreve noted in his diary that he telephoned Fort McKinley to report, "We are set up. Check in to USAFFE and wait."23

General Jones arrived in Plaridel a short time later. After a brief search he found his new command post just before daylight. He immediately phoned MacDonald and instructed him to close the command post at McKinley. Captain Christensen went forward with a North Luzon Force staff officer to learn the exact location of troops in the area.

Many of the 51st Division units cleared the Calumpit bridges before dawn of 31 December, and other elements crossed during the day. The first battalion of the mobile reserve, the 51st Infantry, under Lt. Col. Loren P. Stewart, arrived at Plaridel at 0600, and the other battalion came up three hours later. During the morning these two 51st Infantry battalions were placed in position astride Route 5, northeast of Plaridel. Colonel Babcock's 75-mm. SPM's were placed north of the town to oppose the Japanese tanks known to be approaching from Cabanatuan. About twelve miles south of Plaridel, on Route 3, Company C of the 194th Tank Battalion held the road against enemy pursuit from the south. Below Manila, at Fort McKinley, General de Jesus' 1st Brigade (PC) was preparing to withdraw toward Bataan under cover of darkness. "Manila," reported General MacArthur to the War Department, "will be uncovered by nightfall."24

The withdrawal of the South Luzon Force had been eminently successful. With little loss, the Filipino and American troops had retreated approximately 140 miles through rugged terrain from Lamon Bay to Plaridel. Most of the South Luzon Force had already gone to Bataan. Although Jones had inflicted no major damage on the enemy, he had shown great skill in hampering Morioka's pursuit. After the 28th of December the Japanese had been unable to maintain contact with the withdrawing South Luzon Force. Indeed, on New Year's Day, their advance elements were still near Santiago and in no position to influence the struggle for Luzon. So effective had been Jones's destruction of highway and railroad bridges that he thought "the South Luzon Force could have effectively delayed the enemy's advance on Manila for a considerably longer period had it been necessary."25 The correctness of this conclusion is amply confirmed by General Morioka, who complained frequently of his inability to bring up armored cars, artillery, and supplies because of the destruction of roads and bridges


and the back-breaking task confronting his overworked engineers.26

By the last day of the year most of Luzon was in the hands of the enemy, but General MacArthur's forces were still intact. The first part of the double retrograde movement to Bataan had been successfully accomplished, and the USAFFE commander could report to Washington that "the South Luzon Force had made firm contact with the North Luzon Force in the San Fernando area."27 All that now remained to complete the withdrawal of the troops east of the Pampanga River was the difficult maneuver across that river and the movement north through San Fernando then south into Bataan, while the troops along the D-5 line fell back along the roads leading into Bataan. It would be a hazardous operation, for enemy air and ground forces were an ever-growing menace as the area of maneuver became smaller. But the greatest test, the complicated movement of thousands of men and tons of supplies from north and south Luzon toward San Fernando, had gone well. The success of the withdrawal would be decided during the next few days.










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Map:  Withdrawal in the South, 25-31 December 1941