The Reinforcement of the Philippines
When General MacArthur assumed command of U.S. Army Forces in the Far East, there was no program in the War Department for any immediate large-scale reinforcement of the Islands. As a matter of fact, the War Department specifically told MacArthur that he could have "no additional forces, except approximately 400 reserve officers to assist in training the Philippine Army. . . ."1 Within a few days, there was a complete reversal of policy in the War Department. The first sign of this change came on 31 July when General Marshall approved a proposal by the War Plans Division to reinforce the Islands' defense "in view of the possibility of an attack."2 The next day MacArthur was informed that he would receive substantial reinforcements and Marshall told his immediate staff, "It was the policy of the United States to defend the Philippines." This statement so impressed the Chief of the War Plans Division that he entered it in his office diary.3
The reasons for this change of policy are nowhere explicitly stated. Undoubtedly many factors both political and military contributed to the American Government's firm stand in July and August 1941. One of these was recognition of the potentialities of air power and especially of the Army's new heavy bomber, the B-17, called the Flying Fortress. In Stimson's opinion, the success of B-17 operations in Europe was responsible for creating an optimistic view in the War Department that the Philippines could be successfully held.4 A striking force of such heavy bombers, it was argued, would act as a deterrent to Japanese advances southward and would strengthen the United States position in the Far East.
Another cause for optimism was the recall of General MacArthur to active duty. No one knew as much as he about the Philippines and no one believed more completely that it could be held if the Japanese allowed sufficient time for reinforcement.
The possibility of establishing an effective defense against Japan in the Philippines and thereby preventing Japanese domination of the Western Pacific without altering the major lines of strategy already agreed upon "had the effect," Stimson said, "of making the War Department a strong proponent of maximum delay in bringing the
Japanese crisis to a climax. ... In their [Stimson's and Marshall's] eyes the Philippines suddenly acquired a wholly new importance and were given the highest priority on all kinds of military equipment."5
The first official War Department program for a large-scale reinforcement of the Philippines during this period was proposed by War Plans on 14 August. In a memorandum for the Chief of Staff, General Gerow argued that those reasons which had limited the size of the Philippine garrison- lack of funds, personnel, and equipment, plus the inability of the Navy to support a large force-were no longer entirely valid. With its present strength, he pointed out, there was a real doubt if the Philippine garrison could resist a Japanese attack, a contingency which he considered probable in view of Japan's attitude. To strengthen the garrison and increase its chances of holding Luzon and especially Manila Bay, General Gerow recommended that the Philippines be reinforced by antiaircraft artillery, modern combat planes, and tanks. The amount that could be sent, Gerow admitted, would be limited by the number of ships available for transport duty to the Far East. "The best that can be done at the moment," therefore, would be "to adopt a definite plan of reinforcement and carry it forward as availability of shipping permits."6
Gerow's recommendations were approved and two days later, on 16 August, General MacArthur was notified that the following units would sail from San Francisco between 27 August and 5 September: the 200th Coast Artillery Regiment (AA) consisting of 76 officers and 1,681 enlisted men; the 194th Tank Battalion (less Company B), with 54 tanks, 34 officers, and 390 enlisted men; and one company (155 men) of the 17th Ordnance Battalion.7
There had been some mention earlier of the possibility of sending a division to the Philippines, and on 5 September the Chief of Staff asked MacArthur if he wanted a National Guard division (probably the 41st). MacArthur replied that he did not need this division since he already had one U.S. Army division (the Philippine Division) and was mobilizing ten Philippine Army divisions. He asked instead for authority to reorganize the theoretically square Philippine Division into a triangular division, adding, "Equipment and supply of existing forces are the prime essential." "I am confident if these steps are taken with sufficient speed," he said, "that no further major reinforcement will be necessary for accomplishment of defense mission."8
The reinforcement of the Philippines now enjoyed the highest priority in the War Department. MacArthur's request for permission to reorganize the Philippine Division was approved immediately. He was promised additional aircraft as well as the funds needed for airfield construction and the antiaircraft guns and equipment to protect the fields once they were built. "I have directed," wrote General Marshall, "that United States Army Forces in the
Philippines be placed in highest priority for equipment including authorized defense reserves for fifty thousand men."9
As a result, General MacArthur's requests for men and supplies during the next few months received almost instant approval by the War Department. "I wish to express my personal appreciation for the splendid support that you and the entire War Department have given me along every line since the formation of this command," he told the Chief of Staff in a personal letter. "With such backing the development of a completely adequate defense force will be rapid."10
Through no fault of the War Department or a lack of desire on the part of the Chief of Staff, General MacArthur's confidence in the rapid development of an adequate defense for the Philippines was not entirely justified. The task was a heavy one and limited by many factors beyond the control of the military. The industrial capacity of the United States was only just beginning to turn to the production of war material; the needs of a rapidly expanding citizen army had to be met; Great Britain and Russia were in critical need of supplies; and shipping space was extremely limited. The reinforcements promised MacArthur on 16 August were dispatched with the greatest speed and by 12 September General Marshall was able to report considerable progress. The antiaircraft artillery regiment, the tank battalion of 54 tanks, and reserve supplies had already been shipped from San Francisco. During the month, 50 more tanks, and 50 self-propelled mounts for 75-mm. guns were to be sent.11
These reinforcements reached MacArthur before the end of September. The arrival of the 200th Coast Artillery Regiment (AA) gave him 12 additional 3-inch guns, 24 37-mm. guns, and a similar number of machine guns. Armored reinforcement consisted of the 192d and 194th Tank Battalions each with 54 tanks. And he could count on 25 more 75-mm. guns on self-propelled mounts (SPM) already en route and due to arrive in Manila on 15 October.12
The arrival of the two tank battalions with their 108 light tanks, M-3, were a welcome addition to the Philippine garrison. On 21 November a Provisional Tank Group consisting of the 192d and 194th Tank Battalions and the 17th Ordnance Company (Armored) was established, with Col. James R. N. Weaver in command.
As Military Advisor, MacArthur had proposed a plan to protect the inland seas by emplacing heavy coastal guns at the entrance to the key straits leading into these waters. The War Department had approved this plan and sent 24 155-mm. guns (without fire control equipment) to the Philippine Commonwealth to carry out this program, scheduled for completion in April 1942. MacArthur now proposed to extend this plan to include northern Luzon and asked the War Department for 4 12-inch and 4 8-inch railway guns, 22 more 155- mm. guns, and 30 searchlights. When em-
placed, he argued, these guns would present an enemy advancing on Manila with "fixed position gunfire, the lightest of which will be of sufficient proportions to interfere with troop landings and the operations of lightly armored vessels."13 The letter was received in Washington at the beginning of December, too late to result in action.14
General MacArthur's request for authority to reorganize the Philippine Division as a triangular division had been readily granted. To accomplish this reorganization, MacArthur said he needed an infantry regiment, a field artillery headquarters and headquarters battery, two field artillery battalions, a reconnaissance troop, and a military police platoon for the division.15 The War Department agreed to provide these units and the staff began the detailed work necessary to select and ship them.
MacArthur's plans for the Philippine Division were explained in a letter he wrote to the Chief of Staff on 28 October. He wished, he said, to have the division at war strength and trained intensively for combat. "It would be impolitic," he thought, "to increase the number of Philippine Scouts above the authorized 12,000, for all recruits would be taken from Philippine Army reservists to serve at higher rates of pay than the Philippine Army can pay." The only way, then, to increase the strength of the division was to secure an additional infantry regiment and two battalions of artillery from the United States. With these units and the American 31st Infantry, he could form two American combat teams in the Philippine Division. The Scouts thus released could be used to bring the 91st and 92d Coast Artillery Regiments of the Harbor Defenses up to strength, retain several small units already in existence, and provide station complements for Forts McKinley and Stotsenburg. The Philippine Division would then be free to train for combat and would be available "for instant use." "The entire plan," he told General Marshall, "will be placed in effect upon the arrival of the new regiment."16
MacArthur's plans included also the establishment of four major tactical commands, directly subordinate to USAFFE. On 2 October he requested authority, which was readily granted, to activate a headquarters and headquarters company for each "with average strength approximately those of Army Corps."17 He also asked for army and corps troops to establish a balanced force, and for a field artillery brigade, a chemical company, three signal battalions, a medical supply depot, and a military police company, all at full strength and with complete organization and individual equipment. By the end of October he had requested almost 12,000 men: for the Philippine Division, 209 officers and 4,881 enlisted men; for army and corps troops, 340 officers and 6,392 enlisted men.
During the next month MacArthur continued to ask for additional units and individual specialists, and by the middle of November the War Department had approved for transfer to Manila 1,312 officers, 25 nurses, and 18,047 enlisted men belonging to units. Individual specialists totaled 200 officers and 2,968 enlisted men. The units
selected for this overseas movement, including the 34th Infantry for the Philippine Division, were scheduled for shipment, first for January 1942, but later, ironically, on 8 December 1941.18
These reinforcements and supplies were all intended for the regular U.S. Army establishment; requisitions for the Philippine Army were made and considered separately. His plan of induction had hardly been completed when Mac Arthur began to request from the War Department large amounts of supplies for his Philippine troops. During August alone he called for 84,500 Garand rifles (M1), 330 .30-caliber machine guns, 326 .50-caliber antiaircraft machine guns, 450 37-mm. guns, 217 81-mm. mortars, 288 75-mm. guns with high-speed adapters, and over 8,000 vehicles of all types for the ten Philippine Army divisions he planned to mobilize.19 On 18 September he was told that because of lend-lease commitments and production schedules it would not be possible to send most of these items. Especially unwelcome was the news that Garand rifles were not available and that the Philippine Army divisions would have to continue to use the Enfield and '03's with which they were equipped.20
MacArthur nevertheless continued to request equipment for the Philippine Army, asking, on 10 September, for 125,000 steel helmets, as well as chemical, engineer, and signal equipment. A month later, the request for the helmets was approved. They would be shipped immediately and the other equipment would be shipped at a later date.21
Since the Philippine Army was not limited in size by law as was the U.S. Army, MacArthur was in the unique position of being able to raise as many troops as the War Department could equip. On 20 September he asked for "complete organizational equipment" for a number of army and corps units to be formed principally of Philippine Army personnel. Included were 2 155-mm. and 3 105-mm. howitzer regiments, a motorized battalion of 155-mm. guns, 3 antitank gun battalions, and service, signal, and medical units.22 These requests were approved and a shipping schedule established.
Most disturbing was the shortage of light artillery and machine guns in the Philippine Army divisions. By the end of September the Philippine Army had only 48 75-mm. guns. At least 240 were required to equip the artillery regiments of the ten reserve divisions and another 36 for field artillery training centers. Also needed were 37-mm. guns for the antitank battalions and .50-caliber machine guns. Realizing that the supply of these guns was limited, MacArthur expressed a willingness to accept as substitutes obsolete models or smaller weapons. "Strongly recommend," he appealed to the Chief of Staff, "improvisation to the extent of providing substi-
tute arrangement in spite of lowered efficiency for any types available in the United States."23
By mid-November, the War Department had taken action to ship 40 105-mm. howitzers to the Philippines. These weapons were to be given to U.S. Army units and would release to Philippine Army units a like number of 75's. In addition, 10 75-mm. pack howitzers were to be taken from the vital Canal Zone and 48 British 75-mm. guns and 123 .30-caliber machine guns from the equally important Hawaiian garrison for the Philippine Islands, an indication of the importance which the defense of the archipelago had acquired in the eyes of the War Department. From the United States itself would come 130 75-mm. guns, 35 37-mm. guns (M1916) and 14 .30-caliber machine guns.24
No action was taken until October to supply the thousands of vehicles MacArthur had requested. During that month a large number of jeeps, ambulances, trucks, and sedans became available and on the 15th the War Department released these vehicles for the Philippine Army, "subject to the availability of shipping."25 A request for clothing for the Philippine Army was also approved, as was the equipment for ten 250-bed station hospitals and 180 sets of regimental infirmary equipment.26 An early requisition for 500,000 C rations and enough 55-gallon drums to hold 1,000,000 gallons of gasoline was filled during the summer. Strangely enough, the drums arrived filled although the gasoline had not been requested. This unexpected windfall proved extremely fortunate. A large portion of the gasoline was stored on Bataan and was most welcome during the campaign.27
The approval of requisitions and orders for shipment did not result in any immediate increase in the supplies of the Philippine Army. Time was required to order the stocks from depots and factories, pack and ship them to the port of embarkation, find the vessels to transport them, and finally get them to the Islands. In September, the Navy began sending cruiser escorts with Army transports and merchant ships on their voyages between Hawaii and Manila. This procedure frequently meant that the transports had to stop at Honolulu, sometimes reload, and then sail west at a speed equal to that of the slowest vessel in the convoy.
The shipment of supplies was dependent upon the number of cargo vessels available to the Army. This number was never large and the Navy, for a time, threatened even this limited supply. In September the Navy announced its intention to convert three transports to escort carriers. General Marshall protested this decision vigorously,
pointing out to the Chief of Naval Operations that it would delay the delivery of much-needed reinforcements to MacArthur by over two months.28 Despite the favorable outcome of this protest, a large backlog of troops and approximately 1,100,000 tons of equipment destined for the Philippines had piled up in U.S. ports or depots by November. A group of shipping experts, including representatives from the War Department General Staff, Office of the Quartermaster General, the Navy, and Maritime Commission, met on 10 November to discuss ways of breaking the shipping block. As a result of this meeting a shipping schedule was established which recognized the priority of the Philippines over Hawaiian defenses and advanced the troop movements scheduled for mid-January to 17 and 20 December. Altogether, nine vessels were assigned to the Manila route, to sail in November and December. They would bring to MacArthur one light and one heavy bombardment group, a pursuit group, one reconnaissance squadron, a regiment of infantry, a brigade of field artillery, two battalions of light artillery, together with ground and air service units.29 Had these vessels, the last of which was to leave the United States on 20 December, reached the Philippines the Japanese would have faced a far stronger force when they landed on Luzon.
In July 1941 the air force in the Philippines was still a token force, unable to withstand "even a mildly determined and ill-equipped foe."30 Air Corps headquarters in Washington had been urging for some time that additional planes be sent to the Philippines and the Joint Board, early in 1940, had proposed an increase in air strength for the island garrison.31 The following July 1941 Maj. Gen. Henry H. Arnold, chief of the newly created Army Air Forces, came forward with the strongest proposal yet made for the reinforcement of the Philippines. This proposal called for the transfer to the Philippines of four heavy bombardment groups, consisting of 272 aircraft with 68 in reserve, and two pursuit groups of 130 planes each.32 These planes, wrote Brig. Gen. Carl Spaatz, chief of the Air Staff, would not be used for an offensive mission, but to maintain "a strategical defensive in Asia.33
General Arnold's recommendations, approved in August, were not easily carried out.34 To have raised that number of planes in the summer of 1941 would have meant stripping the fields in the United States as well as all other overseas bases. Moreover, many of the heavy bombers were still on the production lines. What could be scraped together was shipped immediately and by mid-August General Gerow re-
ported to the Chief of Staff that thirty-one modern fighters of the P-40 type were on their way. Meanwhile General Arnold made arrangements to send fifty more directly from the factory. These, too, were soon on their way and by 2 October had arrived in the Philippines.35
Some weeks earlier a historic flight of nine Flying Fortresses had reached Manila by air. These planes were part of the 19th Bombardment Group (H), which had been selected for transfer to the Far East. After a flight from Hamilton Field near San Francisco, the Group's 14th Squadron, under Maj. Emmett O'Donnell, Jr., left Hickam Field in Hawaii on 5 September for Clark Field via Midway, Wake, Port Moresby, and Darwin. This pioneering 10,000-mile flight, almost all of it over water, was successfully concluded a week later, establishing the fact that the Philippines could be reinforced by air.36 But the Midway-Wake route could not be considered safe in the event of war with Japan since it passed over the mandated islands and work was begun after October to develop a South Pacific ferry route.37
Once the pioneering flight had been successfully concluded, all heavy bombers sent to the Philippines went by air via the Central Pacific route. On 9 September, General Marshall told MacArthur that two additional squadrons of the 19th Group- the 30th and 93d-would leave the next month. At that time the ground echelon of the two squadrons and the headquarters sailed from San Francisco. The air echelon of twenty-six B-17's followed soon after. By 22 October these planes had arrived at Hickam Field in Hawaii. After a short stopover they flew on to Clark Field where all but two reported on 4 November; the other two followed soon after.
The flight of the 30th and 93d Squadrons was one in a scheduled series which called for the shipment of 33 heavy bombers in December, 51 in January 1942, and 46 more in February. By March 1942 the War Department planned to have 165 heavy bombers in the Philippines.38
Scheduled for shipment after the 19th Bombardment Group was the 7th. The ground echelon reached Hawaii late in November and was held there until naval escort could be secured. The air echelon, scheduled to fly to the Philippines via the Midway route during late November and early December, had completed only the first leg of the journey before war came.39
In addition to heavy bombers, MacArthur was also promised a light bombardment group of three combat squadrons. Selected for shipment was the 27th Bom-
bardment Group (L). The Air Corps experienced some difficulty in securing the 52 A-24's for this group but by early November the planes had been collected. The pilots and ground personnel reached the Philippines during November but the A- 24's, loaded on a separate transport, were held at Hawaii with the ground echelon of the 7th Bombardment Group and failed to reach their destination.40
At the end of November General Marshall summarized for the Secretary of War the air reinforcements already shipped or scheduled for shipment to the Philippines. At that time, he noted, there were 35 B-17's already in the Islands and 52 A-24's were due there-they never arrived-on the 30th. Fifty P-40's had reached MacArthur in September, Marshall explained to Stimson, thus giving him a total of 81 modern fighters. In addition, 24 P-40's had left San Francisco on 19 October, and 40 more on 9 November. By 31 December, General Marshall estimated, the Philippines should have a total of 240 fighters of the latest type.41
By now the War Department was fully committed to an all-out effort to strengthen the air defense of the Philippines. General Arnold, in a letter to the commander of the Hawaiian Air Force on 1 December, expressed this view when he wrote: "We must get every B-17 available to the Philippines as soon as possible."42 His statement was not an exaggeration. On the outbreak of war there were 913 U. S. Army aircraft scattered among the numerous overseas bases. This number of aircraft included 61 heavy, 157 medium, and 59 light bombers and 636 fighters. More than half of the total of heavy bombers and one sixth of the fighters were already in the Philippines.43 (See Table 3.) Within a few months this number would have been raised considerably.
The arrival of the bombers and additional pursuit planes, with the promise of more to come, led to a reorganization of the air forces in the Philippines. Early in the fall of 1941 General MacArthur had asked for Maj. Gen. Lewis H. Brereton, a senior air officer, as his air commander. This request was approved and early in October Brereton was relieved of command of the Third Air Force and called to Washington. There, in a series of conferences at Army Air Force headquarters, the form of a new air organization, to be called the Far East Air Force, was drawn up.44
General Brereton arrived in the Philippines on 3 November. He saw MacArthur that same day, and gave him the latest views about reinforcements and developments within the War Department. By the middle of the month the reorganization of the air forces had been accomplished and a short time later MacArthur told Marshall,
AIRCRAFT IN THE PHILIPPINES, DECEMBER 1941
"Brereton has taken hold in an excellent manner."45
The newly activated Far East Air Force, with headquarters at Nielson Field in Manila, included the V Bomber Command, the V Interceptor Command, and the Far East Service Command. The main element of the bomber command, led by Lt. Col. Eugene L. Eubank, was the 19th Bombardment Group with its thirty-five B-17's. Only two squadrons of the original group, the 30th and 93d, were in the Philippines. On 16 November, the 28th Squadron, a medium unit, was also assigned to the group and equipped with B-17's and on 2 December the 14th Squadron joined the group. In addition to heavy units, the bomber command also contained the ground echelon of the 27th Bombardment Group, whose fifty-two A-24's were delayed at Hawaii and never reached the Philippines.46
The V Interceptor Command, first under Brig. Gen. Henry B. Clagett and later Col. Harold H. George, consisted initially of the 24th Pursuit Group with the 3d, 17th, and 20th Squadrons. When, in November, the
21st and 34th Squadrons arrived in Manila, they were attached to the group, pending arrival of their own organization (which never arrived). The Interceptor Command was considerably modernized during the fall of 1941 and by 7 December all but one of its pursuit squadrons were equipped with P-40's.47
The prerequisites for an effective air force are not only modern and sufficiently numerous attack and interceptor aircraft, but adequate fields, maintenance and repair facilities, and the antiaircraft artillery and air warning service to defend these installations. The lack of fields in the Philippines was recognized early. Within eighty miles of Manila there were six fields suitable for pursuit planes and only one, Clark, for heavy bombers. Outside of Luzon were six additional Army fields, useful principally for dispersal. More were needed to base the large number of modern aircraft due to arrive before the end of the year. In August General MacArthur was allotted $2,273,000 for airfield development and in October $7,000,000 more. The largest part of these funds was to be expended on Luzon, at Nichols and Clark Fields, with auxiliary fields at Iba, on the Zambales coast west of Clark, and various points on northern Luzon.48
In mid-November. MacArthur decided to establish a heavy bomber base in northern Mindanao at Del Monte, which since September had had a strip capable of landing B-17's. This decision was based on the belief that heavy bombers on Luzon would be subject to attack and that they should therefore be moved south, out of reach of the enemy. His plans, MacArthur told the Chief of Staff on 29 November, called ultimately for a bomber base in the Visayas, but until such a base was completed he expected to use the field at Del Monte.49 Work on Del Monte Field was rushed and by the beginning of December it was able to accommodate heavy bombers.50
Despite the arrival of reinforcements and the airfield construction program, the air defense system remained inadequate because of the shortage of antiaircraft artillery and aircraft warning equipment. MacArthur had requested warning equipment in September and had at that time presented a plan for the establishment of an air warning service. The War Department had approved the project and by mid- September three radar sets had been shipped with three more scheduled for shipment in October. In addition, $190,000 was allotted for aircraft warning construction, with an additional $200,000 to be included in the supplemental estimate for the fiscal year 1942 for the construction of three detector stations and one information center.
The one air warning service company of 200 men in the Philippines was entirely inadequate to the needs of the Far East Air Force. In November General Arnold recommended, and the Chief of Staff approved, the shipment of an aircraft warning
CLARK FIELD looking westward. In the upper left center, abutting the foothills of the Zambales
service battalion to the Philippines.51 The 557th Air Warning Battalion was organized in the United States and on 6 December 1941 arrived in San Francisco, too late for shipment to the Philippines.
When war came there were seven radar sets in the Islands, but only two had been set up and were in operation. In the absence of the necessary equipment and personnel, USAFFE had organized a makeshift air warning service. Native air watchers stationed at strategic points reported plane movements by telephone or telegraph to the interceptor command at Nielson Field, which in turn relayed the information to Clark. It was this primitive system, augmented by the radar sets established at Iba and outside Manila, that was in operation when war came.52
That other prerequisite for a balanced air force, antiaircraft artillery, was also slow in reaching the Far East. In the Islands when MacArthur assumed command was the 60th Coast Artillery (AA). In anticipation of heavy reinforcements he organized in August the Philippine Coast Artillery Command with Maj. Gen. George F.
Moore in command. Plans provided for an area defense of the four fortified islands in Manila Bay (Corregidor, El Fraile, Caballo, and Carabao) and the southern tip of Bataan. One antiaircraft gun battery with a platoon of searchlights was stationed at Fort Wint in Subic Bay. When the 200th Coast Artillery (AA) arrived in September it was ordered to Fort Stotsenburg to protect Clark Field. Both antiaircraft units were equipped with 3-inch and 37-mm. guns, .50-caliber machine guns, and 60-inch Sperry searchlights. The 3- inchers were an old model with a vertical range of 27,000 feet.53
The two antiaircraft units alone obviously could not defend the fields of the rapidly growing Far East Air Force, let alone meet civilian defense requirements. Of necessity, therefore, the air defenses included only the Manila Bay area and Clark Field; all other installations were left virtually without defense against air attack. General Brereton was rightly concerned about the lack of antiaircraft defense and observed, even before he left Washington, that sending heavy bombers to the Philippines without providing proper antiaircraft protection would probably be suicide. But there was little that could be done in the short time available. Maj. Gen. Joseph A. Green, Chief of Coast Artillery, suggested that elements of the Harbor Defenses be reassigned to antiaircraft duty, but the proposal was rejected.54
The War Department and the Air Forces continued to show concern over the antiaircraft defenses of the Islands, about which they did not have too clear a picture. A radio to General MacArthur for information elicited the reply on 27 November that an increase in armament was required and that detailed plans were being forwarded by mail.55 These plans were sent on 1 December but even before then War Plans had recommended the dispatch of three antiaircraft regiments and two antiaircraft brigade headquarters to the Philippines. These units were to utilize the equipment then in the Islands, thus reducing shipping requirements. Action on this proposal was begun at the end of November, when time had almost run out. When war came, the antiaircraft defenses in the Philippines were little better than they had been three months earlier.56
Naval forces assigned to the defense of the Philippines were organized into the U.S. Asiatic Fleet. Normally stationed in Asiatic waters, this fleet by mid-1941 was based in
Manila with headquarters in the Marsman Building. Admiral Thomas C. Hart commanded the fleet and reported directly to the Chief of Naval Operations in Washington. The 16th Naval District headquarters was at Cavite on the south shore of Manila Bay.
Hart's fleet consisted of the flagship, the heavy cruiser Houston; 1 light cruiser; 3 destroyer divisions with 13 overage four-stack, flush-deck destroyers of World War I vintage; and 17 submarines. The underwater craft were organized into Submarine Squadron 20, supported by tenders and 1 rescue vessel. Air elements of the fleet were under Patrol Wing 10, composed of 24 PBY's and 4 seaplane tenders. Patrol and miscellaneous craft included 7 gunboats, 1 yacht, 6 large minesweepers, 2 tankers, and 1 ocean-going tug. Also a part of the fleet but stationed in Shanghai was the U.S. Marine Corps' regiment, the 4th Marines.57
Obviously such a force was not capable of withstanding even momentarily the Japanese Combined Fleet, and Admiral Hart had authority to retire to bases in the Indian Ocean if necessary. From the small detachments of sailors in the 16th Naval District little more could be expected than assistance in protecting local naval installations. The 4th Marines could be of considerable help in the defense of the Philippines if it could be taken out of China in time.
Although Allied naval forces in the Far East were not expected to provide direct support for the Philippine Islands in case of war with Japan, they would, if Japan attacked them, fight the common enemy. The British, in May 1941, had in Far Eastern waters 1 battleship, 1 aircraft carrier, 4 heavy and 13 light cruisers, and a few destroyers. The Dutch could contribute 3 light cruisers, 7 destroyers, and 15 submarines. By December of that year the British Fleet in the Far East had been augmented by 3 battleships and 3 destroyers.58
The bulk of American naval strength in the Pacific was assigned to the Pacific Fleet. Before 1940 the main body of the Pacific Fleet had been based on the west coast of the United States. In May 1940 the Navy announced that the fleet, which had sailed to Hawaiian waters for war games, would be based at Pearl Harbor indefinitely. This decision had been made by President Roosevelt in the belief that the presence of the fleet would act as a deterrent to Japan.59 A year later the Pacific Fleet, now based at Pearl Harbor and commanded by Admiral Husband E. Kimmel, consisted of 9 battleships, 3 aircraft carriers, 12 heavy and 8 light cruisers, 50 destroyers, 33 submarines, and 100 patrol bombers. The strength of this fleet was substantially the same on 7 December 1941 when the attack on Pearl Harbor came.60
Although Admiral Hart had been told in May 1941 that he would receive no additional surface ships for his fleet, he was able to do much to put his force in readiness for action before the outbreak of war. Beginning in July, three to six PBY's maintained constant watch along the southern boundary of the archipelago and later linked with the Dutch Navy's air patrol north of Borneo. The mining of Manila and Subic Bays was pushed through to completion, in co-operation with the Army, by the end of August and provided security against all but submarines and shallow-draft surface craft. The Navy's base at Mariveles, on the southern tip of Bataan, was rapidly built up and on 22 July the drydock Dewey was moved there from Olongapo. By the end of the month the base at Olongapo was being used by the navy only as an auxiliary air base and as a station for Marines and some naval personnel.61
In the six months before war the Asiatic Fleet was reinforced strongly in underwater craft. On 8 November 8 large submarines of the Pacific Fleet arrived in Manila and on the 24th 4 more, accompanied by the tender Holland, joined the fleet. Together with those already assigned, Admiral Hart now had 29 submarines.62
The fleet was further reinforced in September by six motor torpedo boats, considered ideally suited for operation in Philippine waters. Twelve had been allocated but the remainder were never received. In addition, General MacArthur told Admiral Hart that he would mobilize the naval component of the Philippine Army, with its two motor torpedo boats, whenever Hart desired.63
Early in November the Navy Department directed Hart to withdraw the marines and the gunboats from China, a move which the admiral had proposed earlier. Five of the gunboats made the trip from China to Manila successfully, leaving the Wake, stripped and ready for demolition- it was later seized by the Japanese- and the Tutuila for the Chinese. Two President liners were chartered and sent to Shanghai where the majority of the 4th Marines was stationed; the detachments at Pekin and Tientsin were to load at Chinwangtao. On 27 and 28 November the regiment, with attached naval personnel and civilian refugees, embarked on the two vessels for the Philippines. Arriving on 30 November and 1 December, the regiment was assigned the mission of guarding the naval stations on Luzon, particularly the new base at Mariveles. One of the vessels, the President Harrison, started back to Chinwangtao to embark the remaining marines but fell into Japanese hands. With its weapons and equipment, and consisting of long service men and a full complement of regular officers, the 4th Marines (strength, 750 men) formed a valuable addition to the infantry force in the Islands.64
In a letter prepared on 5 December 1941 but never sent, General Marshall outlined for General MacArthur what had been and was being done to strengthen USAFFE. "Reinforcements and equipment already approved," he said, "require over 1,000,000 ship tons." Fifty-five ships had already been obtained and approximately 100,000 ship tons of supplies were en route, with twice this amount ready for immediate shipment to ports of embarkation. Requests for equipment for the Philippine Army, except those for the Ml rifle, had been approved, and uncontrolled items of supply were being shipped as rapidly as they could be assembled and loaded on ships. "Not only will you receive soon all your supporting light artillery [130 75-mm. guns]," Marshall told MacArthur, "but 48 155-mm. howitzers and 24 155-mm. guns for corps and army artillery." Except for certain types of ammunition, the defense reserve for the U.S. Army forces in the Philippines would be completed in April 1942, and for the Philippine Army by July of that year. Three semimobile antiaircraft artillery regiments were scheduled to leave the United States soon, but the 90- mm. antiaircraft gun could not be sent since it had not yet been fully tested. A sum of $269,000,000 had been requested from Congress for the support of the Philippine Army, and early passage of such legislation was expected. "I assure you," Marshall closed, "of my purpose to meet to the fullest extent possible your recommendations for personnel and equipment necessary to defend the Philippines."65
The last vessels carrying supplies to the Philippines were assembled in convoy in Hawaii and on 7 December were still on the high seas. In the convoy were the 52 dive bombers of the 27th Bombardment Group, 18 P-40's, 340 motor vehicles, 48 75-mm. guns, 3,500,000 rounds of .30- and .50-caliber ammunition, 600 tons of bombs, 9,000 drums of aviation fuel, and other heavy equipment and supplies. Also aboard were the two light field artillery battalions and the ground echelon of the 7th Bombardment Group (H).
The military force in the Islands at the beginning of December, while not as large as MacArthur soon hoped to have, was considerably larger than it had been five months earlier. The air force had been reorganized, modern bombers and fighters had been brought in, and a start made on the creation of a balanced force. The strength of air force troops on 30 November was 5,609, more than double the July strength. The Far East Air Force had more than 250 aircraft, concentrated largely on Luzon. Less than half of these planes were suitable for combat, and much of the equipment was still in ports of embarkation. There were 35 B-17's at Clark Field and 107 P-40's at various fields on Luzon. A primitive aircraft warning system was in operation, and an antiaircraft artillery regiment was stationed at Clark Field. Much remained to be done, but the Philippines could boast a stronger air complement of modern combat aircraft on 7 December than any other base, including Hawaii and Panama.
Naval forces assigned to the Asiatic Fleet had also been considerably strengthened. By 7 December this fleet consisted of 1 heavy and 2 light cruisers, 13 old destroyers, 32 PBY's, 6 gunboats, 6 motor torpedo boats, and miscellaneous vessels. Its
strongest element was the submarine force of 29 underwater craft.
Ground forces in the Philippines had been considerably reinforced, too, in the few months since General MacArthur had assumed command. The ten reserve divisions of the Philippine Army had been two-thirds mobilized and although poorly equipped and trained represented a military force of some size. Within a week after the outbreak of war it numbered over 100,000 men. The U.S. Army garrison in the Islands had been increased by 8,563 men since 31 July. The number of Philippine Scouts, fixed by law, remained the same, approximately 12,000. The number of American enlisted men increased by 7,473 and officers by 1,070. (See Table 4; compare with Table 2.) The largest proportionate increase was among service troops. As of 31 July, 1,836 men were assigned to service detachments; four months later the number had increased to 4,268. During this same period, the number of Air Corps troops had increased from 2,407 to 5,609.66 Total strength of the entire U.S. Army garrison on 30 November 1941 was 31,095 officers and enlisted men.
In the four months since General MacArthur's assumption of command, the flow of men and supplies to the Philippines had increased tremendously and all preparations for war had been pushed actively and aggressively. Time was running out rapidly, but at the end of November many still thought it would be several months before the Japanese struck. The month of April 1942 was commonly accepted as the critical date and most plans were based on that date. By 1 December MacArthur had organized his forces, but still needed much to place them on a war footing. Most of his requests had been approved by the War Department and men and supplies were already on their way or at San Francisco awaiting shipment. The record of accomplishment was a heartening one and justified the optimism which prevailed in Washington and in the Philippines over the capacity of the Philippine garrison to withstand a Japanese attack.
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