"I received a radiogram from Gen. Marshall informing me that Gen. MacArthur would call on me to send a flight of long-range bombers to Mindanao before March 15th.... MacArthur had been ordered out.
From the wreckage of Java I had brought a dozen B-17s of the 19th Group. They were in pretty bad shape. In a fully equipped air force they all would have been scrapped.... But they were all we had, and we had to keep them flying, if we tied them together with chewing gum and baling wire.... I looked over my B-17s.... There wasn't a bomber in the lot fit for the Philippines trip.... There was only one way out. Twelve new Flying Fortresses had just arrived in Australia, but they were assigned to the Navy.... I went to Admiral Herbert Fairfax Leary, and told him I had to get MacArthur out of the Philippines.... Could I borrow three of his planes to bring him to Australia? Leary had the reputation of saying no to all requests, unless he could see that the Navy would benefit by his acquiescence. 'I'd like to help you, Brett,' he said, 'but it is quite impossible. We need those planes here, and can't spare them for a ferry job, no matter how important it is....'
I had no jurisdiction over the Navy, and could not commandeer those planes.... Leary was...determined to hang on to his B-17s come hell or high water. There was nothing else to do but send the best of our combat-shattered group. We did all we could with them mechanically, which, I'll be the first to admit, wasn't too much.... Only one of the planes...was able to get through.... Of the other three I had dispatched, two experienced engine trouble, and turned back. The third fell into the sea, but the crew was picked up.... The problem remained exactly the same as it had been in the first place.... Back I went to Adm. Leary. I expected the same answer I'd had before, but was prepared to get tougher. But Leary didn't give me a single 'no'. Perhaps he had heard directly from Washington ... the Admiral loaned me four beautiful new bombers.... " George H. Brett, " The MacArthur I Knew," True (October 1947), pp. 139-140.
2 The following editorial is typical of the reactions of the Japanese press: "The fact that the general public in the Allied countries is hailing MacArthur as the only man now capable of leading the Allied forces is a clear evidence of the pitiful dearth of Allied leadership. That one general can mean so much to the Allied cause is a damaging confession that the rest of their leaders are unworthy of confidence. Hysterical emphasis laid on the supposedly miraculous qualities of this one man reveals how worried the British and Americans are over their continued reverses and how frantically they are clutching at this one straw represented by MacArthur." Japan Times and Advertiser, Tokyo, March 20, 1942.
3 Radio from MacArthur to Beebe, 21 Mar 42, 000.75, AG, GHQ (S): "The President of the United States ordered me to break through the Japanese lines and proceed from Corregidor to Australia for the purpose, as I understand it, of organizing the American offensive against Japan, a primary object of which is the relief of the Philippines. I came through and I shall return."
4 In a letter to the Secretary of the Defense Committee, Australian Department of Defense Coordination, on 1 April 1942 (323.36, AG GHQ), General MacArthur explained his position in the following words: "At the present time I am operating not as Commander of SWPA which is to be established, but as the Commanding General of all United States troops in the Far East to which have been attached Admiral Leary's naval forces. With the Australian forces, I am functioning by coordination and cooperation."
The tactful assistance and discreet intervention of the Australian Defense Secretary, Sir Frederick G. Shedden, one of the ablest of Australian civil servants, should be noted in this connection. Sir Frederick maintained a liaison office directly with GHQ which aided greatly in the co-operative effort.
11 Radio No. AG 381 from MacArthur to AGWAR (for Marshall), 20 Apr 42, WD (28) C/S. Of the 11 divisions of Australian forces, only about 2 divisions and 1 brigade could be considered available for operations. General MacArthur reported: "The Australian Army has 1 division and 1 division less 2 brigades which have returned from the Middle East which are...effective troops. One additional division in the home force is approaching combat condition. The remainder of the Army is composed of a militia in a very indifferent state of training and equipment which can be prepared for combat only by prolonged and intensive efforts...." CINCSWPA Radio No. 558 to WARCOS, 1 May 42, AG GHQ 384 No. 1 (S).
12 GHQ General Order No. 1, 18 Apr 42, AG GHQ 300.4 GO (S); WARCOS Radio No. 1167 to CG USAFIA, 8 Apr 42, C/S GHQ WD 10 (S). Forces of the Royal Netherlands East Indies Army in Australia then consisted chiefly of one infantry company which was assigned to Allied Land Forces in May.
13 GHQ General Order No. 1, 18 Apr 42, AG GHQ 300.4 GO (S). WARCOS Radio No. 1188 to CG USAFFE, 9 Apr 42, C/S GHQ WD 10A (S). CINCSWPA Radio to WARCOS, 24 Apr 42, AG 5AF 322.99 Dutch Units (S). CINCSWPA Radio No. 558 to WARCOS, 1 May 42, AG GHQ 384 No. 1 (S). It would take many months for this allocation to become effective. See n. 18.
14 GHQ General Order No. 1, 18 Apr 42, AG GHQ 300.4 GO (S). Samuel Eliot Morison, History of United States Naval Operations in World War II, Vol. III, " The Rising Sun in the Pacific, 1931-April 1942 " (Boston, 1948), p. 261. and Vol. IV, " Coral Sea, Midway and Submarine Actions, May 1942-August 1942 " (Boston, 1950), p. 15. General MacArthur repeatedly urged that an aircraft carrier be provided, "even of the smallest type", to give these naval units offensive power. He stated that "the surface element of our naval force is unbalanced because of lack of integral air units, in consequence of which its value as a striking force is nullified, reducing it to the execution of minor missions." If the necessary carrier protection were provided, it "could transform the force from an ineffective element into a powerful offensive weapon.... The enemy's lines are partially uncovered and carelessly defended due to the fact that he has been practically unchallenged. This opportunity will not continue indefinitely; when he consolidates his position, the situation will be much more difficult. I consider it a waste of our potentialities to operate such an unbalanced force at the point of immediate contact." CINCSWPA Radio No. 453 to WARCOS, 24 Apr 42, WD 35, C/S GHQ (S).
15 JCS Directive to CINCSWPA, 30 Mar 42, G-3, GHQ JCS/CCS 42-43 (S). Report of Organization and Activities, United States Army Forces in Australia, AG GHQ 314.7, USAFIA. CINCSWPA Radio to WARCOS, 24 Apr 42, AG 5AF 322.99 Dutch Units (S).
17 "In the spring of 1942 the Japanese did not think that General MacArthur would establish himself in New Guinea and defend Australia from that position," said Captain Toshikazu Ohmae, IJN, Senior Staff Officer, Southeast Area Fleet at Rabaul, June 1942-December 1943. "They also did not believe that he would be able to use New Guinea as a base for offensive operations against them. The Japanese felt that General MacArthur could not establish himself in Port Moresby because he did not have sufficient forces to maintain himself there and because the Japanese Navy was confident that it could control the Coral Sea and keep him out of New Guinea. In view of the successful air attacks against Darwin and Townsville, the Japanese reasoned that General MacArthur's forces were weak or they would have staved off the attacks. Such was the attitude of the Japanese Army and Navy High Command before the battle of Midway." This opinion was corroborated by other Japanese commanders who fought in the New Guinea area. For example, Colonel Jinmatsu Morifuji, Eighth Area Army Staff Officer, stated: "The Japanese did not anticipate that General MacArthur would attempt to defend Australia by establishing his forces in New Guinea. For this reason the Japanese did not stress the importance of New Guinea at the beginning of the campaign." Interrogation Files, G-2 Historical Section, GHQ, FEC.
18 General Brett, Allied Air Force Commander in Australia, commented on these problems as follows "We had flown what was left of our planes out of Java, just as Brereton had flown his out of the Philippines. I took over as commander of the American forces. The situation was, to put it mildly, muddled and unhappy. Australia's defenses were weak, and Australia expected an invasion. There are no better fighting men in the world than the hard-bitten soldiers of the island continent, but there were too few of them. The Royal Australian Air Force was equipped with almost obsolete planes and was lacking in engines and spare parts, as well as personnel. We had only one American infantry division, and that was incompletely trained. When Gen. MacAthur arrived, he was extremely disappointed in what he found. He had not wanted to leave the Philippines.... However, his better judgment prevailed, influenced, possibly, by reports that a great American army was being gathered in Australia for him to lead. It did not take long for him to find out how erroneous these reports had been. There was no great army, and the air force consisted of a few battered planes, and combat-weary men....
I knew MacArthur was thoroughly dissatisfied with what he was getting, and he could not be blamed for that.... We...were fighting in the air over New Guinea, on a starvation ration of planes and ammunition and men.... We were working sixteen and eighteen hours a day.... The airmen found it difficult to understand why their country, the greatest industrial nation on earth, could not give them the tools with which to fight. What seemed almost as bad was the fact that our country seemed more concerned with the German phase of the global conflict than with the Japanese. There was only a comparative handful of Americans in the Pacific theater. We didn't have much to fight with, but we were hopeful that plenty would come through sooner or later. But, nothing much came through in those dreary months, and this unescapable fact, as well as the danger and monotony and bad living conditions, had our boys very badly down.... On my way back Stateside, everywhere I went I saw bombers and fighters stacked up waiting to move to Australia. Many had been waiting for a long time.... Our effectiveness was curtailed, our losses higher than they should have been, because those men and planes were held back. I was compelled to send into combat fighter pilots with less than ten hours' experience on the type of plane assigned them, when there were available men with hundreds of hours of flying time in the same type of aircraft...." Brett, Op. Cit. pp. 26, 27, 139, 149.
20 In order to delay the Japanese even longer, General MacArthur had planned to continue resistance as long as possible in the southern islands of the Philippines after the fall of Bataan and Corregidor. His plan is illustrated by a radio sent to General Sharp, CG, Mindanao Force on 9 May: "Since his surrender, orders emanating from General Wainwright are no longer valid. Insofar as possible, separate your force into small elements and initiate guerrilla operations. You, of course, have full authority to make any decisions required by immediate emergency. Keep in communication with me as much as possible. You are a gallant and resourceful Commander and I am proud of what you have done."
22 General MacArthur's estimate of the strategic situation was correct; the Japanese were making plans to complete the isolation of Australia. "In the spring of 1942, the Japanese Navy, eager to capitalize on Japan's initial success in the war, hoped to invade Australia. It was thought that such key areas as Darwin in the north and Townsville, Brisbane, and Sydney on the east coast should be occupied," said Captain Ohmae. "The Navy was responsible for defending New Guinea, New Britain and the Solomons, so Australia figured heavily in its plans.... The Navy realized that Australia would become not only the base from which counterattacks would be launched against Japanese forces, but the steppingstone for an invasion of Japan itself.... By invading Australia the supply of war materials, particularly airplanes, gas and oil which had already begun to flow from the United States would be stopped. The Navy suggested the idea of invading Australia to the Army in March 1942. The Army estimated that it would require at least ten or twelve divisions to carry out such a large-scale operation. The Army, however, felt that it could not adopt the Navy's suggestion because it did not wish to move that many troops from Manchuria and other occupied areas at that time. Adequate transportation and supplies were also lacking. The Navy then proposed a countermeasure because it was determined to isolate Australia and prevent the shipment of American war materials. A master plan was accordingly prepared during April and May 1942 which provided for the occupation of Fiji, Samoa and New Caledonia. Submarine and air bases were to be set up to cut the supply lines from America, isolate Australia, and force her out of the war.... At the insistence of Adm. Isoroku Yamamoto, Commander-in-Chief of the Combined Fleet, however, the invasion of Midway received priority and as a result the plan to occupy New Caledonia, Fiji, and Samoa was postponed." Interrogation Files, G-2 Historical Section, GHQ, FEC.
23 General MacArthur's insistence on offensive action was contrary to Japanese hopes and expectations. They planned to secure their positions, occupy other key areas, and force the Allies into the hopeless Maginot psychology of the defensive. In March 1942, Imperial General Headquarters published the following principles for the conduct of future operations: "Mopping up in the areas already occupied will be completed as soon as possible, and our combat troops in those areas will become garrison troops.... The strategic initiative obtained from the operations at the very beginning of the war will be maintained. Positions will be established which will withstand an extended period of enemy attacks and which will force the United States and British forces into a negative defensive position. In order then to hasten the termination of the war, the necessary operations will be prepared and carried out at key points along the outer perimeter of the occupied areas." Japanese First Demobilization Bureau Report, Southeast Area Operations Record, Part II, " Seventeenth Army Operations," Vol 1, p. 2, G-2 Historical Section, GHQ, FEC.
24 The strategic importance of Australia and the Southwest Pacific Area was fully realized by Japanese Imperial General Headquarters as revealed in their estimate of the situation in October 1942: "The South Pacific seems to be the most likely position from which the enemy may carry out an offensive counterattack. The reason for this is that Australia and its surrounding islands are connected to the United States by a chain of islands, thus making the South Pacific a very potential position. The enemy will be able to threaten our command of the sea in the West Pacific from this area, recapture our southern occupational area, and occupy our South Sea Islands. Air raids can be carried out easily against our areas of important resources. After a thorough study of the situation we have decided that the enemy will probably attack this South Pacific area and will enforce regular counterattack measures after deploying his strength. The decisive battle between Japan and the United States will be the occupation of this strategic region." Japanese First Demobilization Bureau Report, Imperial General Headquarters Army High Command Record, p. 64, G-2 Historical Section, GHQ, FEC.
25 "Appreciation by Australian Chiefs of Staff," 27 Feb 42, G-3, GHQ, SWPA Journal prior to 5 Apr 42, (MS). PM Curtin Ltr to CINCSWPA, 28 Apr 42, AG GHQ 385 Aust Req B (MS). CINCSWPA Ltr to PM Curtin, 10 May 42, AG GHQ 381 Aust Req B (S).
26 WARCOS Radios Nos. 1188 and 1499 to CINCSWPA, 9 and 24 Apr 42, C/S GHQ WD 10A, 35 et seq (S). PM Curtin Ltr to CINCSWPA, 4 May 42, C/S GHQ Aust 14. PM Curtin Ltr to CINCSWPA, 30 May 42, AG GHQ 381 Aust Req B (MS).
27 The psychological effect of the New Guinea terrain on combat troops was well described by Lt. Gen. Robert L. Eichelberger, Commanding General of the Buna Forces: "The psychological factors resulting from the terrain were ... tremendously important. After a man had lain for days in a wet slit trench, or in the swamp, his physical stamina was reduced materially. This reduction served to make him extremely nervous and to attribute to the unfamiliar noises of the jungle, spectres of Japanese activities. These reactions preyed on his mind until he was reduced often to a pitifully abject state, incapable of aggressive action." Report of the Commanding General, Buna Forces on the Buna Campaign, Dec 1, 1942- Jan 25, 1943, p. 64.