As the westernmost bastion of American military power in the Pacific, the Philippines in December 1941 were clearly marked as one of the first objectives of the Japanese armed forces.1 The primary purposes which Imperial General Headquarters planned to achieve through their capture were not necessarily political or economic, but essentially strategic in character:2
Serious study of the tactical and logistic problems involved in an invasion of the Philippines simultaneously with operations against Malaya and the Dutch East Indies got under way in September 1941, when over-all international developments had convinced Imperial General Headquarters that an eventual Japanese move against British and Dutch possessions in Southeast Asia would almost certainly bring the United States into war. By the early part of October, when special Army war games took place in Tokyo to test the tactical plans being elaborated for the invasion of the southern area, the main lines of the Philippines operation plan had been tentatively worked out and were subjected to study as part of the games.4
In view of the clearcut military necessity of seizing the Philippines in the first phase of operations, the Army and Navy General Staffs kept close surveillance on changes in Philippine defense strength during the planning period.5 Following General MacArthur's recall to active duty in July 1941 as Commanding General, United States Army Forces in the Far East (USAFFE), a marked acceleration was noticed in the organization and training of Philippine Army units, and intelligence reports indicated a substantial reinforcement of American heavy bomber forces based in the Philippines and of the submarine strength of the United States Asiatic Fleet at Cavite.
General Staff estimates based on intelligence received up to 15 November 1941 placed United States regular army ground strength in the Philippines at approximately 22,000 officers and men, comprising one infantry division and service troops stationed principally in the Manila area, with elements at Baguio and Tarlac, and three coast artillery and one antiaircraft artillery regiments garrisoning Corregidor, El Fraile, Carabao and Caballo Islands, and Subic Bay.6 In addition, native troop strength of the Philippine Army was estimated at 110,000, organized in ten divisions. Seven of these were stationed on Luzon, principally in the central area from Lingayen to Batangas, with one division on Panay, one divided between Cebu and Bohol, and one on Mindanao.7
United States Army air strength in the Philippines was estimated at one fighter group of four squadrons (108 planes) at Nichols Field; one bomber group at Clark Field, comprising three bomber squadrons (about 38 planes), one fighter squadron (27 planes) and two reconnaissance squadrons (13 planes); and 20 fighters based on other subsidiary fields an aggregate total of 206 aircraft. Besides these, the Navy, was believed to have about 70 scout planes and carrier-borne fighters at Olongapo and Cavite.8
Japanese estimates placed the ship strength of the United States Asiatic Fleet at two heavy cruisers, one light cruiser, 15 destroyers and 25 submarines.9
In view of the limited strength at his disposal, Imperial General Headquarters anticipated that General MacArthur would not attempt an absolute defense of the Philippines, but would carry out a strategic delaying action calculated primarily to hold up the Japanese southern advance as long as possible and consume the fighting strength of the Japanese forces.10 In the initial phase, it was expected that aircraft and submarines would be employed to impede the landings. Ground forces might then be thrown against the beachheads in an attempt to engage the landing troops before they could consolidate their positions, but an equal or greater possibility was that
General MacArthur would decide against immediate commitment of his main strength on the beaches.
In the event that the Japanese landings were successfully accomplished, it was anticipated that General MacArthur would deploy his troops in key positions around Manila and endeavor to hold the capital as long as possible. The Intelligence Section of the Army General Staff also foresaw the possibility of an enemy withdrawal to Bataan Peninsula, but since knowledge was lacking regarding the existence of any prepared defense positions in that area, such a contingency was not regarded seriously. It was estimated that, if such a withdrawal took place, the enemy forces could easily be bottled up and destroyed.11
In conjunction with General MacArthur's tactics on land, it was expected that the United States Asiatic Fleet would first attempt to impede the Japanese landings and then concentrate on harassing lines of communication. To gain greater safety, it was considered probable that American naval units would make use of bases farther south, and possibly join British and Dutch naval forces in combined operations against the Japanese Fleet.
With this estimate of enemy strength and tactics as a basis, the Army Section of Imperial General Headquarters developed a preliminary operational plan which set the early capture of Manila as the primary tactical objective of the invasion forces and assigned only secondary importance to the destruction of enemy troops. Since Manila was the central core of American military, naval and air bases in the Philippines, General Staff planners took the practical view that its capture would largely achieve the main strategic purpose of the Philippines invasion: the quick elimination of American bases threatening Japan's advance into the southern area. It was also expected that the fall of Manila would exert a strong psychological effect toward demoralizing Filipino resistance, and thereby facilitate the pacification of the remainder of the Philippines.12
The second essential feature of the Imperial General Headquarters plan was the decision to begin operations in the Philippines with an air offensive prior to the landing of ground forces, whereas, in Malaya, immediate landings were envisaged. To ensure the safety of the Philippine invasion convoys from bombing attack, it was therefore imperative to knock out enemy air power as quickly as possible, and also to preface the main landings with the seizure of advance air bases.13
As a result of these considerations, Imperial General Headquarters decided to throw the entire effort during the first few days of hostilities into a powerful and sustained air offensive against the major concentrations of enemy air strength. Since these were located principally in the Manila area and farther south, beyond
the range of Japanese Army planes operating from southern Formosa, it was necessary to obtain the cooperation of naval air strength, including long-range bombers based in southern Formosa, as well as seaplane and carrier forces. The boundary of air operations between the Army and Navy was to be fixed at 16 degrees N. Lat., placing all the enemy's major bases in the Manila area within the Navy's operational sphere. (Plate No. 16)
Imperial General Headquarters estimated that enemy air resistance would be sufficiently neutralized within two to four days to permit execution of the next step in the operational plan: the landing of advance detachments on northern and southern Luzon with the mission of seizing air bases at strategic points and quickly preparing them for operational use by the Japanese forces. The airfields at Aparri, Laoag and Vigan were designated as the initial objectives on northern Luzon, while the southern Luzon force was to seize the airfield at Legaspi. Prior to the advance landings on Luzon Proper, occupation of Bataan Island, 150 miles north of Aparri, was planned as a preliminary step to facilitate fighter cover of the north Luzon landings.14
Airfield construction and maintenance units, going in with the advance forces, were to prepare the occupied fields for operational use within a few days of their capture, and Army and Navy Air units were then to move immediately forward and resume offensive operations. Allowing a further brief period for these operations to complete the destruction of enemy air power, Imperial General Headquarters initially estimated that the main landings could be carried out on X-Day plus 9 at Lingayen Gulf, and X-Day plus 11 at Lamon Bay.15 These estimates were revised upward by five days in the final operations plan.
The basic plan of attack against Manila envisaged a two-pronged pincers movement, the main invasion forces landing at Lingayen Gulf and driving toward the capital from the north, while a strong secondary force was to land at Lamon Bay16 and advance on Manila from the southeast, splitting the enemy defense effort. Since it was the shortest route, it was decided to direct the main effort toward Man a via Tayug and Cabanatuan, skirting the eastern edge of the Luzon plain.17 (Plate No. 17)
Parallel with the main operations on Luzon, the over-all invasion plan called for the seizure by small forces of Davao, on the southern coast of Mindanao, and Jolo Island, in the Sulu Archipelago. Strategically, occupation of these points was designed to obtain air bases for impeding a possible southward withdrawal of the American forces in the Philippines and were also needed as staging points for the scheduled invasion of Celebes and eastern Borneo.
Imperial General Headquarters, taking into consideration the troop requirements for other phases of the southern operations, tentatively set the basic infantry strength to be employed in the Philippine landings at a total of 21 battalions.18 The allocation of these forces by landing area was as follows: Northern Luzon
advance landings, three battalions; Legaspi advance landing, two battalions; Lingayen Gulf, nine battalions; Lamon Bay, three battalions; Davao and Jolo, four battalions.19
The Navy, in addition to furnishing the bulk of the air strength to be employed in the initial phase of the operations, was assigned the missions of destroying enemy fleet and air strength in the Philippines area, protecting the assembly points of the invasion convoys, providing surface escort and naval support of the landing operations, and guarding against possible counterattacks by Allied naval forces. Imperial General Headquarters, Navy Section anticipated that the major threat of such counterattacks would come from the American Asiatic Fleet, possibly reinforced by Allied fleet units. In the event, however, that the main body of the United States Pacific Fleet sortied into the Western Pacific, plans were made to divert the main strength of the Navy's Southern Forces to counter the attack.
Assembly points of the invasion convoys were selected with special attention to the maintenance of secrecy and safety from enemy submarine and air attack. To avoid overlarge concentrations of ships in southern Formosan harbors, it was decided to stage the main invasion forces from three ports: Keelung and Takao, on Formosa, and the naval base of Mako, in the Pescadores. The Lamon Bay and Mindanao landing forces were to stage respectively from Amami-Oshima, in the Ryukyu Islands, and Palau, in the western Carolines.
Imperial General Headquarters estimated that the occupation of key areas in the Philippines could be accomplished within a period of about fifty days.20 On the basis of this estimate, it was tentatively decided to withdraw one combat division as soon as the major military objectives had been achieved, and to reassign it to the invasion of Java. Most of the naval forces were to be withdrawn at the same time and reorganized as the Dutch Indies Force. This would leave relatively weak Army and Navy forces to complete the occupation of the islands and secure them against enemy counterattack, but it was anticipated that Filipino cooperation could readily be won through political concessions and that the islands would be safe from counterattack behind the rampart of Japan's defenses in the mandated islands.
In accordance with the over-all plans elaborated by Imperial General Headquarters, the Southern Army allotted the mission of executing the Philippines invasion to the Fourteenth Army, under command of Lt. Gen. Masaharu Homma, peacetime commander of the Formosa Army. To provide Army air support, the 5th Air Group, under command of Lt. Gen. Hideyoshi Obata, was transferred from Manchuria to Formosa and placed under Fourteenth Army command.21 Naval missions incident upon the operation were assigned by the Combined Fleet to the Philippines Force under Vice Admiral Ibo Takahashi, Third Fleet Commander, and the Eleventh Air Fleet under Vice Admiral Nishizo Tsukahara.22
Ground force strength assigned to the Fourteenth Army for the accomplishment of its mission centered around two first-line combat divisions, the 16th and 48th, which were to execute the initial phases of the operations, and the 65th Brigade, which was to move in subsequently as a garrison force.23 The 48th Division, based in Formosa, was among the Japanese Army's most experienced units and specially trained in amphibious operations. The 16th Division, scheduled to execute the secondary landing at Lamon Bay, was picked as one of the best divisions then available in Japan Proper.
These units were reinforced by two tank regiments, five heavy field artillery battalions (Army artillery), approximately five field anti-aircraft artillery battalions, four independent antitank companies, and an independent mortar battalion. To meet the special requirements of the operation, an unusually strong complement of independent engineer units and bridge companies was included in the Army's attached service forces.
Combat strength of the 5th Air Group consisted of two fighter regiments, two light bomber regiments, and one heavy bomber regiment, plus an independent reconnaissance and observation unit. Strength in Army aircraft aggregated 192, including 72 fighters, 81 bombers and 39 reconnaissance and observation planes.24
Principal units composing Fourteenth Army order of battle for the first phase of the Philippines operation were as follows:25
To permit employment of virtually the Army's full strength in the crucial assault on Luzon, Imperial General Headquarters and the Southern Army decided to transfer the initial mission of occupying Davao and Jolo to the Sixteenth Army, assigned to operations against eastern Borneo and Java. Under this arrangement, the Sixteenth Army's Sakaguchi Detachment (56th Mixed Infantry Group Hqs.; 146th Infantry Regt. reinf) provided the main strength of the Davao landing force. One infantry battalion of the 16th Division was
temporarily attached for occupation duty, thus effecting early release of the Sakaguchi Detachment for its further missions on Jolo and in eastern Borneo. The 16th Division force remaining at Davao was then to revert to Fourteenth Army command.
Naval surface strength allotted to support the Philippines operation comprised the bulk of the Third Fleet, reinforced by the attachment of two destroyer squadrons (less elements) and one cruiser division from the Second Fleet, the 4th Carrier Division (Ryujo and one destroyer) from the First Air Fleet, and the 11th Seaplane Tender Division from the Combined Fleet.27 This gave the Philippines Force an aggregate strength in combat ships of one aircraft carrier, five heavy cruisers, five light cruisers, three seaplane tenders, 29 destroyers, four torpedo boats, 13 minesweepers and four minelayers.
To carry out its missions, the Eleventh Air Fleet assigned the bulk of its land-based forces, the 21st and 23d Air Flotillas, with a combined strength of 146 bombers, 123 fighters, 24 flying boats, and 15 reconnaissance planes.28 These were in addition to 16 fighters and 18 torpedo planes composing the complement of the Ryujo, and a total of 68 seaplanes operating from surface units.29 Aggregate naval air strength assigned to the Philippines operation thus reached 412 planes. Combined initial allotment of Army and Navy aircraft totaled 604.
By early November, the Commander-inChief of the Southern Army and Combined Fleet had completed study of the Imperial General Headquarters outline plan of operations and had reached agreement on the general terms of Army-Navy cooperation. The commanders and principal staff officers of the Fourteenth Army, 5th Air Group, Third Fleet and Eleventh Air Fleet were then summoned to participate in the joint Army-Navy conference at Iwakuni from 14 to 16 November,30 and the final Fourteenth Army operational plan for the Philippines invasion was drawn up. Its essentials were as follows:31
On 20 November, four days after the adoption of the final plan, General Terauchi, Commander-in-Chief of the Southern Army, issued formal orders to the Fourteenth Army confirming the main points of the plan. The order stated in part:32
Movement of Fourteenth Army troops to the designated staging areas in Formosa, AmamiOshima and Palau began immediately with the issuance of the 20 November order. On the same day, 16th Division elements (33d Infantry Regiment) assigned to the landings at Legaspi and Davao embarked from Nagoya, reaching Palau between 28 and 30 November. On 25 November the main strength of the Division embarked at Osaka and moved to AmamiOshima, where it arrived on 3 December. The Division's 9th Infantry Regiment, which was slated to reinforce the 48th Division in the main landing on Lingayen Gulf, meanwhile embarked for Formosa, reaching its destination by 5 December.33
The 48th Division troops assigned to the advance landings at Aparri and Vigan (2d Formosa Infantry Regiment) boarded transports at Takao, southern Formosa, and moved
COMPOSITION AND MISSIONS OF LANDING FORCES
* Elements of supporting units, such as signal,shipping, and line of communication units, were attached to each landing force
between 23 and 25 November to the nearby naval port of Mako, in the Pescadores, where final landing preparations were completed. The main strength of the Division simultaneously began assembling at Takao, Mako and the northern Formosan port of Keelung. By the end of November, the 65th Brigade had also completed its movement from the Japanese mainland and was assembled in Formosa.34
Concurrently with the assembly of the invasion troops, the 5th Air Group and Eleventh Air Fleet rapidly concentrated at southern Formosan bases in readiness for the launching of the initial air offensive. All units of the 5th Air Group were assembled at their bases at Heito, Koshun, Choshu and Kato by 6 December. Land-based bombers and fighters of the 21st and 23d Air Flotillas prepared to operate mainly from bases at Tainan, Takao, Taichu and Palau.
Between 24 November and 5 December, operational orders were issued by the Army commander to all units specifying the composition and missions of the various landing forces (Plate No. 18 ), air force assignments, and essential points of the landing operations. Details of cooperation were worked out in agreements concluded between the Army and Navy commanders directly assigned to each landing operation.35
The land, sea and air forces were now poised for the attack. Organization for combat was completed, and morale high. On 1 December Lt. Gen. Homma transferred his headquarters to Takao, and Vice Admiral Takahashi, Commander of the Third Fleet, raised his flag aboard the Ashigara at Mako. On 2 December orders were received from General Hisaichi Terauchi, Southern Army Commander-inChief, and Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, Commander-in-Chief of the Combined Fleet, designating 8 December as X-day.
The Army Air forces began operations according to plan early on 8 December. Taking off before dawn from bases in southern Formosa, 43 Army planes struck the first blows at enemy airfield at Tuguegarao and barracks at Baguio, on northern Luzon. The attacks were made at approximately 0800 (0700 local time), about four hours and a half after the first bombs from Japanese carrier planes struck Pearl Harbor.
Due to heavy fog over their airdromes at Tainan and Takao, naval land-based aircraft scheduled for the initial attacks were late in taking off, finally clearing their fields at about 0930. This force, made up of rob Navy landbased attack planes and 84 fighters, had as its objectives Clark Field and the American fighter base at Iba, on the west coast of Luzon. The formations arrived over their targets shortly after 1330 (1230 local time) and carried out highly successful attacks. Meanwhile, carrier planes took off from the Ryujo at a point 100 miles east of Mindanao during the early morning hours and carried out an effective strike on Davao.
Since radio intelligence showed that Philippines defense installations had been alerted at 0430 on 8 December, it was assumed that the enemy had already received news of the Pearl Harbor attack and that the Japanese air units would encounter energetic resistance from both intercepter aircraft and antiaircraft artillery. Resistance, however, proved much weaker than anticipated, with the result that the attacks achieved a spectacular degree of success, es-
pecially at Clark Field.36
While the first air attacks were being mounted, the advance force convoys were at sea, heading toward the various invasion objectives. Surface and air cover was furnished the convoys by the Third Fleet, and by Army and land-based Navy units operating from airfields in southern Formosa.
At dawn on 8 December the Batan Island landing force made an unopposed landing and seized the airstrip. On 9 December fighters of the Army's 5th Air Group landed on the strip and found it suitable for operational use. Airfield construction units swiftly effected necessary improvements, and fighter units moved forward to support the landing operations at Vigan and Aparri.
On 10 December, while the Navy Air force carried out heavy neutralization strikes against the airfields in the Manila area, the Tanaka (2d Battalion, 2d Formosa Infantry, reinf. ) and Kanno (1st and 3d Battalions, 2d Formosa Infantry, reinf.) Detachments effected their dawn landings at Aparri and Vigan against no opposition. The airfields were quickly occupied. The Kanno Detachment immediately pushed north from Vigan along the coast road and took the airfield at Laoag on 12 December. Meanwhile, a small element of the Tanaka Detachment advanced up the Cagayan River and took Tuguegarao. There was no enemy air reaction to these operations except individual sorties against Vigan anchorage by large-type American aircraft.37
The captured airdromes were rapidly prepared for use as advance operational bases, and units of the Army's 5th Air Group quickly moved forward according to plan. The 24th Fighter Regiment advanced to Vigan on 11 December, and on 12 and 14 December the 50th Fighter Regiment and one element of the 16th Light Bomber Regiment arrived at Aparri.38 On the 13th more than 100 navy bombers carried out neutralization strikes on Del Carmen, Clark, Iba and Nichols fields. Also on the 13th, 15 Army heavy bombers and fighters hit Clark Field.
The successful exploitation of advance bases soon gave the Japanese Air forces an overwhelming superiority which was to have a great effect on later operations. On 15 December, it was estimated that the combat strength of the United States Air Forces had been reduced to about ten bombers, ten flying boats and twenty fighters.39 It was presumed that enemy air strength had been dispersed to the central Philippines and to Iloilo, Del Monte, and Jolo to the south. In less than a week the Japanese had gained control of the skies over the Philippines.
In the interim, amphibious operations continued to progress satisfactorily. The Kimura Detachment landed in the vicinity of Legaspi at 0245 on 12 December without encountering any enemy opposition and quickly overran the nearby airfield.40 Naval Air units supported the operation by continuing the neutralization of enemy airfields in the Manila area on 12-13 December. Japanese air losses were negligible.
In the north the Tanaka and Kanno Detachments, having accomplished their mission, were regrouped for further operations. General Homma, seeing that the enemy was not conducting an aggressive defense in northern
Luzon, on 13 December ordered the Tanaka Detachment to leave a small security guard at Aparri, and advance along the coastal highway to Vigan. The Kanno Detachment was similarly ordered to leave a small rear echelon at Vigan and advance its main body down the coastal road to Rosario. On 15 December Fourteenth Army amended these orders to effect the merger of the Kanno Detachment with the Tanaka Detachment, placing Colonel Tanaka in command. This new unit was given the mission of advancing south down the west Luzon coast road to Rosario, there to link up with the Lingayen landing force, which at this time had not yet left Formosa.41
In southern Luzon, ground operations were also progressing rapidly. The Kimura Detachment, advancing from its Legaspi beachhead, was racing up the Bicol Peninsula against only scattered resistance, repairing damaged roads and bridges on the way. By 18 December the detachment took Naga, and on 21 December its advance guard entered Daet. Behind them the captured Legaspi airdrome was being used as an operational base by nine fighters of the 23d Air Flotilla, which landed there on 14 December.42
In the early dawn of 20 December the Mindanao invasion force, under Maj. Gen. Shizuo Sakaguchi, landed near Davao on Mindanao island. Resistance by the garrison of some 3,500 Filipino-American troops was quickly overcome and, by 1500 the same day, Davao and the airfield were occupied.43 The Miura Detachment (1st Battalion, 33d Infantry, reinf.) And a naval airfield construction unit were left in the vicinity of Davao, while one element of the Sakaguchi Detachment and some naval landing troops proceeded to Jolo Island, occupying the city of Jolo at 1030 25 December. The airfields at both Davao and Jolo were developed as operational bases. On 23 December twelve fighters and two reconnaissance aircraft of the 23d Air Flotilla landed at Davao, and on 26 December the first Navy fighters landed on Jolo.44
General Homma, although reassured by the news of these early successes, continued to carry out thorough preparations for the landing operations of the main body of the Fourteenth Army at Lingayen Gulf. On 17 December his estimate of the situation was substantially as follows:45
Preparations for transportation of the Japanese main forces were completed on schedule. At Amami-Oshima the 16th Division embarked in the 24 transports of the Lamon Bay attack force. The force weighed anchor on 17 Decem
ber and headed for Lamon Bay under escort by elements of the Third Fleet. Meanwhile the 48th Division and other elements of the Lingayen landing force embarked at Keelung, Takao, and Mako in three convoys with a total of 76 transports. These convoys with their naval escorts sortied on 17-18 December en route to Lingayen Gulf. (Plate No. 20)
The main attack force entered Lingayen Gulf at 1001 22 December without encountering any opposition. In the darkness an error was made as to the point of anchorage, the lead transports advancing too far south. The frontal spread of this disposition was 15 miles. For this reason long distance surface movements with small craft became necessary.
The plan of assault called for the first echelon to land on the right in the vicinity of Agoo at 0540, the 47th Infantry Regiment in the assault. The second echelon (less the Uejima Detachment) was to land in the center at Caba, near Santa Lucia, at 0550, the 1st Formosa Infantry Regiment in the assault. The Uejima Detachment was to effect landings on the left at Bauang at 0730, the 1st Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment in the assault. The 3d Battalion of the 9th Infantry Regiment from the third echelon was to be committed at 0730 in the vicinity of Santiago. The third echelon was constituted as a floating reserve.46
The initial landings were effected as scheduled on 22 December. Although enemy fire from the beaches was heavy during the approach, causing some casualties, resistance on the beaches was found to be moderate and was quickly dispersed.
Soon after the first landings a sudden deterioration of the weather threatened to impede operations, but it was decided to continue according to plan. During the day the transport area received both air and submarine attacks, but no heavy casualties were sustained.47 The Navy's 2d Base Force completed the defense installation of the advance base early in the day, while surface units continued to patrol the gulf entrance.
Air support for the operation was fully effective. The Army Air forces, responsible for supporting and protecting the landing, maintained an air umbrella over the anchorage with planes dispatched from northern Luzon bases. Meanwhile bombers attacked Nichols, Camp Murphy, Limay, Clark, Del Carmen, and Batangas airfields in neutralization strikes, while direct air support was afforded in landing forces.
After dispersing the light resistance encountered in the vicinity of the beach, the main force pressed inland. The main body of the 48th Division immediately turned south toward Rosario, taking two routes, the main coastal road and a parallel road slightly to the east. Along the coastal road more than ten U. S. tanks were destroyed. At about 1900 hours on the night of 22 December, the division advance guard reached Damortis and nearby Rosario.
The Uejima Detachment, charged with taking San Fernando and covering the Army's left flank, had meanwhile carried out its scheduled landing near the mouth of the Bauang River at 0730 on the 22nd. Stubborn enemy resistance was met, but, by 1400 hours, the defenders were driven inland, and a junction was effected at San Fernando with the Tanaka Detachment, which had advanced down the coast road from Vigan according to plan. On the right of the Uejima Detachment, the 3d Battalion of the 9th Infantry Regiment, responsible for driving inland and seizing the Naguilian airfield, simultaneously landed at Santiago, and, meeting little enemy resistance, carried out its assigned mission by the evening of 22 December. This battalion then assembled in
the Naguilian area and prepared to advance on Baguio.
On 23 December landing operations continued under improved weather conditions, but progress was slow. The remaining elements of the 48th Division, including Army artillery units and rear echelon units under Army control, were still not ashore. During the morning General Homma landed at Bauang and established the command post of Fourteenth Army.
Meanwhile front-line units pushed ahead. The 48th Division routed a Philippine-American force of approximately 1,700 men near Sison and occupied the town by evening. Elements pushing down the coast road occupied Mabilao. The Tanaka Detachment, moving south, reached the 48th Division area by evening and reverted to 48th Division control.
During the next two days unloading operations progressed smoothly, and on 25 December debarkation of the 48th Division was completed. The debarkation point had been shifted to the south, so that by the 26th unloading was being accomplished over the beach in the vicinity of Damortis. The landing of the greater part of the Army was completed by 28 December. Because of a typhoon, the departure of the second invasion convoy carrying the 65th Brigade from its staging area on Formosa was postponed until 30 December.
The secondary landing on the east coast of Luzon had also been successfully executed. Shortly after midnight on the night of 23-24 December the main body of the 16th Division was landed between Atimonan and Siain on Lamon Bay, the 1st and 3d Battalions, 20th Infantry Regiment, in the assault. The 2d Battalion, 20th Infantry was landed at Mauban.48 The main force encountered light enemy resistance but soon cleared the area east of the Atimonan isthmus ridge. An element advanced towards Calauag via the coastal road from Siain in order to cut the route of withdrawal of the enemy force retiring before the Kimura Detachment, then pushing west from Daet. On the Atimonan-Siain beach the 1st Naval Base Force took over base construction, and unloading continued until 28 December.
Fourteenth Army operations on all sectors were proceeding with complete success. No large scale counterattack against the Lingayen landing force had materialized, and the lack of resistance encouraged the Army Commander to drive rapidly to the final objective-Manila, with no change in plans. The morale of officers and men was extremely high. The two divisions, the 48th from Lingayen and the 16th from Lamon Bay, began a race for the honor of entering the capital city first.49 (Plate Nos. 21 & 22)
The 48th Division, not waiting for the landing of its rear echelon, moved rapidly southward. Mountainous terrain restricted forward movement to a narrow front. The initial objective was to seize the Agno River crossings. Advance units of the 1st Formosa Infantry Regiment and the 48th Reconnaissance Regiment crossed the Agno against opposition on 26 December, and thereafter, took Carmen,
Rosales, and Tayug. In order to protect the Lingayen anchorage and secure the Army's right flank, the Uejima Detachment took Dagupan on the same day. On 27 December, in the center, the 47th Infantry Regiment crossed Agno and occupied Umingan. On the same day Baguio fell to the 3d Battalion, 9th Infantry. The main body of the Army was now disposed north of Agno. Crossings had been secured. Flank guards were out to right and left, and the Army stood poised for the final effort.
The 16th Division advancing from the Atimonan area had not been idle. Destroying armed resistance in its advance, the division pressed on to Candelaria and Lucban on 27 December. In the area northeast of Calauag, the 1st Battalion, 20th Infantry (less one company) linked up with the Kimura Detachment which had driven up the Bicol Peninsula from Legaspi. (Plate No. 21)
The rapid advances by the two divisions continued to be supported by the 5th Air Group, which moved its bases still farther south to keep pace with the ground troops. Air units arrived at Naguilian airfield on 26 December and at Carmen on the 27th. Naval air units continued to carry out attacks against remaining enemy fleet and air strength, and especially against transport shipping in Manila Bay.
The Fourteenth Army Commander was by this time aware that enemy forces were moving northward from Manila with the probable intention of retiring into Bataan and Corregidor. He nevertheless decided to adhere to the original operations plan, and ordered the 48th Division to advance immediately on Manila.50 Cabanatuan was set as an intermediate objective.
On 27 December the Commanding General of the 48th Division, Lt. Gen. Yuitsu Tsuchihashi, issued a voluminous and detailed field order for the projected operation, based on the Fourteenth Army order. This order was in substance as follows:51
On the morning of 28 December the 48th Division began its advance from the Agno River line. The 4th and 7th Tank Regiments, spearheading the advance, rolled rapidly over difficult roads through San Quintin and San Jose, reaching Bongabon at dusk on the 29th. The right and left foot columns converged on Cabanatuan through Baloc and closed up to the right bank of the Pampanga River north of Cabanatuan on the night 29-30 December. Cabanatuan was on the verge of capture.
While concentrating on the main drive toward Manila, General Homma, however, began to feel concerned over the situation on the right flank. Intelligence reports verified that the enemy forces were retiring to Bataan and Corregidor.52 When it was reported that General MacArthur's headquarters had withdrawn to Corregidor, the air forces extended their attacks to the island in a special effort to knock out the nerve center. On 29 December the 5th Air Group carried out two heavy bombing attacks against the fortress, dropping eight tons at 1200 hours and twelve tons at 1230 hours.53 The group was also given the mission of knocking out the bridges west of Lubao, but this was not accomplished.54 Some support was given the ground effort in this area, however, by attacks on motorized columns moving along the roads leading into Bataan.
Ground operations in the west were also accelerated. At the time that Cabanatuan was about to fall, the main strength of the Uejima Detachment was in the Cuyapo area. At 1600 on 29 December General Homma ordered the detachment to occupy Tarlac and Angeles in an attempt to hinder any westward retirement of the enemy. To aid in this operation, the 48th Division was directed to detach an element and send it to reinforce the Uejima Detachment. The division dispatched the Kanno Detachment (3d Battalion, 2d Formosa Infantry).
Without waiting for the Kanno Detachment to come up, the Uejima Detachment advanced on Tarlac, reaching the northern outskirts of the town on 30 December. There it met bitter enemy resistance, and the town was captured only after repeated assaults in the course of which Col. Uejima was killed. Col. Takahashi, commander of the 8th Heavy Artillery Regiment, assumed command of the detachment, which thereafter took his name.
It soon became clear that the Takahashi and Kanno Detachments were not making sufficiently rapid progress to check the retirement of the
enemy to the west. To remedy the situation, General Homma immediately ordered the 48th Division to send an infantry regiment to Guagua to seal off Bataan and Zambales provinces against further enemy withdrawals. At the same time the Takahashi Detachment was ordered to proceed to Porac as rapidly as possible. Meeting exceedingly stiff resistance the detachment advanced to Bamban on 1 January.
Concurrently with these developments, Cabanatuan had fallen on 30 December after a short, brisk engagement. The 48th Division on 1 January moved up to a line connecting Bulacan, Bocaue, and San Jose del Monte and prepared to invest Manila. In compliance with the Army order to dispatch an element to aid the Takahashi Detachment in blocking the Bataan withdrawals, the Tanaka Detachment (2d Formosa Infantry, less one battalion) was sent west from Baliuag to Calumpit, a vital bridge-point on the Pampanga River and a bottleneck on the escape route to Bataan.
Before the Tanaka Detachment could reach the bridge-site, the 7th Tank Regiment, on the initiative of its commander, drove to Calumpit and on 2 January occupied the bridges after a series of sharp encounters with enemy tank forces. The Tanaka Detachment, arriving the same day, crossed the river and advanced to San Fernando, which it entered at 1830.
On the southern front the 16th Division, encountering determined enemy resistance, cleared San Pablo and Santo Tomas and its advance guard reached Zapote on New Year's Eve. The division drew up its lines from Laguna de Bay to Cavite Harbor. Manila was besieged.
General Homma had hoped for a decisive battle with the Philippine-American forces in the central Luzon plain before Manila, and wished to avoid battle within the capital itself. Orders had therefore been disseminated to all troops restricting their movement across the road net encircling the city and forbidding the bombardment of the city itself.55 However, reports from reconnaissance aircraft and observation of numerous fires within the city led the Army Commander to assume that the enemy had evacuated the city. Anxious to rescue the large Japanese population and restore public order, Gen. Homma issued orders to occupy the city.56
On 2 January the advance guard of the 16th and 48th Divisions entered Manila. The occupation of the city went forward efficiently, and public order was gradually restored.57 Meanwhile, key outlying areas were being mopped up. To the south, elements of the 16th Division occupied Cavite and Batangas. To the northwest, the Tanaka Detachment joined the Kanno Detachment at San Fernando on the evening of 2 January, and all that area was
cleared. The Takahashi Detachment, however, was still mopping up around Mabalacat and Fort Stotsenburg, ten miles short of its goal at Porac.
With the capture of Manila only twenty-five days after the start of hostilities, the Japanese forces in the Philippines had gained possession of the foremost center of American influence in the Far East, and achieved the major objective fixed by Imperial General Headquarters. This swift victory, more apparent than real, gave the Japanese public at home the impression that the United States was not too formidable an enemy. More important, it also led the Fourteenth Army, which had expected a determined defense of Manila, to underestimate the fighting strength of the Philippine-American forces.
It was recognized that a large number of enemy troops had succeeded in withdrawing into Bataan. However, divergent opinions arose in General Homma's staff as to whether the Army's main effort should now be directed toward the establishment of military government or the continuation of field operations for the purpose of destroying General MacArthur's forces.58 One group took the view that military government should be given first priority and that the enemy on Bataan should merely be contained and starved into ultimate surrender. General Homma, however, decided that it was best to allow the enemy no respite and to press the attack to a swift conclusion.
General Homma was convinced that the enemy force which had retired into the mountain fastnesses of Bataan could be easily and rapidly crushed by Fourteenth Army with forces then available in the Pampanga area. Having decided to attack, he quickly implemented his decision with orders. On the same day Manila was entered, the 48th Division was directed to move its main strength northward across the Pampanga River to Bataan and pursue the enemy down to a line running westward from Balanga. The Takahashi Detachment, then at Mabalacat, was ordered to advance rapidly to Dinalupihan through Porac to cut off further enemy withdrawals. The Tanaka Detachment, which at this time was crossing the Pampanga River at Calumpit, was to drive southwest from San Fernando to Hermosa through Lubao, Santa Cruz, and Dinalupihan. (Plate No. 21) In support of these operations the 5th Air Group was ordered to attack enemy concentrations and positions in the Bataan area.
While the 48th Division prepared to move its main force to the battle area, the Takahashi Detachment slowly forged ahead toward Bataan from the north. On 3 January the detachment attacked strong enemy defense positions at Porac and, after a brisk engagement, finally penetrated the enemy line on the night of the 4th. Meanwhile, the Tanaka Detachment (2d Formosa Infantry and one battalion, 47th Infantry) advancing from San Fernando reached Guagua against stiffening enemy resistance. The detachment then pushed on to Santa Cruz on 5 January and was there relieved by a fresh regiment (1st Formosa Infantry). On 6 January enemy resistance at Santa Cruz was broken, and the regiment pursued the enemy southwest, entering Dinalupihan at 1500 on the 6th. The next day a small element was sent forward to Hermosa, which was seized against light resistance. On the same day the 1st Formosa Infantry in Dinalupihan was joined by the Takahashi Detachment, which had taken three days to fight its way down from Porac.
While the Japanese units were engaged in these preliminary operations against Bataan, Southern Army Headquarters at Saigon had reached a decision which was to profoundly affect General Homma's campaign. General Terauchi, Commander-in-Chief of the Southern Army, had become convinced that operations in the Philippines were all but completed and that the Japanese drive in the Netherlands East Indies could safely be put forward a month.
Under the Imperial General Headquarters plan for the southern operations, the 48th Division and the 5th Air Group, the backbone of the Fourteenth Army, were scheduled for redeployment to Java and Burma. A large part of the Navy's Philippines Force was also to be diverted for the attack on Dutch East Indies. The Eleventh Air Fleet, which had supplied the bulk of the air strength employed in the first phase of the Philippine operations, had already advanced most of its strength to bases in Mindanao and Jolo and was preparing for the southern drive. Only a small number of planes continued bombing operations against Bataan and Corregidor.
On the night of 2 January, within a few hours after he had ordered the 48th Division to move up for the assault on Bataan, General Homma received telegraphic orders from General Terauchi directing the execution of the basic redeployment plans.59 This directive called for the transfer of the 48th Division to Sixteenth Army command effective 14 January, and for its embarkation from the Philippines on 1 February. The 5th Air Group was to be relieved as soon as possible in preparation for movement to Thailand after 14 January.
The loss of the 48th Division and the 5th Air Group came at an inopportune time for the Fourteenth Army. While the 1st Formosa Infantry and the Takahashi Detachment were feeling out the enemy line in the northern Bataan area, and while the 48th Division was assembling in the San Fernando area for the Bataan operation, the Army staff spent the period 4-6 January hastily writing orders to effect the necessary reshuffle of units.
To provide for the relief of the 48th Division, it was decided to bring down the 65th Brigade, which had landed at Lingayen Gulf on 1 January, as quickly as possible, and relieve the front-line units of the 48th Division in the Hermosa and Dinalupihan areas. This relief was to be effected on or about 8 January. Upon arrival the brigade was to take command of the Takahashi Detachment and advance on Balanga as soon as possible. As soon as the brigade reached Dinalupihan, an element was to be detached and sent to seize the Olongapo naval base on Subic Bay. These orders were transmitted to the 65th Brigade on 4 January.
On 5 January the 10th Independent Air Unit was reorganized at Clark Field to replace the 5th Air Group. This unit was assigned all the air strength that was not scheduled to be redeployed. On 4 January the 16 Division was designated the occupying force for the Manila area, and Lt. Gen. Susumu Morioka was named defense commander. Meanwhile the Navy, in order to provide a headquarters for the small surface contingent that was to remain in the Philippines, organized the Third Southern Expeditionary Fleet under the command of Vice Adm. Rokuzo Sugiyama, with headquarters at Manila. This fleet was to secure the seas around the Philippines and cooperate with the Fourteenth Army in all future operations.
As a result of this hasty and radical reorganization, the Army and Navy commanders in the Philippines were forced to undertake the Bataan offensive and the occupation of the
islands with the following principal forces:60
Facing the shrunken forces of the Fourteenth Army on Bataan Peninsula and Corregidor was an enemy force which was estimated by the intelligence staff as comprising six field divisions and a variety of garrison units (mostly coast artillery) with a total strength of 40,000 to 45,000 men. Aerial reconnaissance had disclosed prepared enemy defense positions at several points on Bataan, principally in the area west of Hermosa, on the eastern slopes of Mt. Natib, and in the vicinity of Bagac. None of these positions was believed strong, and it was thought that they could be easily overrun.62
Despite the serious reduction of the forces at his disposal, General Homma was still confident that the substantial number of enemy troops on Bataan could be defeated by a swift pursuit which would give them no breathing spell in which to reorganize and entrench themselves in strong defensive positions. Consequently, the 65th Brigade had barely relieved the forward units of the 48th Division in the Hermosa sector, when the Army Commander, on 9 January, ordered it to the attack.
Launching its drive from Hermosa the same day, the brigade main body (141st and 142nd Infantry, reinf.) advanced to the north bank of the Calaguiman River but then stalled in the face of unexpectedly severe enemy counter-fire. (Plate No. 24) Meanwhile, a separate element (one battalion, 122d Infantry, reinf.) drove unopposed across the peninsula to Subic Bay and seized the Olongapo naval base against weak resistance.63 On the same day, 10 January, the 16th Division was ordered to dispatch a force into Cavite Province and occupy Ternate and Nasugbu in order to cut off Bataan and Corregidor from the south.
With the 65th Brigade temporarily checked on the eastern side of the peninsula, General Homma now prepared to launch a parallel drive down the west coast. To reinforce the 122d Infantry already in the Olongapo area,
the 20th Infantry Regiment less one battalion) of the 16th Division was ordered on 13 January to move from Manila to the western sector, and the combined force was placed under command of Maj. Gen. Naoki Kimura, 16th Infantry Group commander and designated the Kimura Detachment.
Before the west coast drive got under way, developments in the eastern sector took a favorable turn. The 65th Brigade, finally breaching the Calaguiman River line, pushed south to the next enemy defense line west of Abucay. Because of the strength of these positions, General Homma adopted a plan of maneuver which called for the brigade to advance into the foothills of Mt. Natib and turn the enemy left flank with an attack from the mountainous area. The 9th Infantry Regiment, which meanwhile was sweeping around in a wider flanking movement to the west, paved the way for this maneuver on 19 January by driving a deep salient in the enemy line to a point five miles west of Balanga.
Although seriously handicapped by the Army's withdrawal on 17 January of most of its artillery support,64 the 65th Brigade launched its flanking attack on 22 January and succeeded in forcing the enemy, on 24 January, to withdraw from the Abucay positions and retire south past Balanga under hot pursuit. The brigade, after first moving up into the area west of Balanga, extended the pursuit to the sector west of Orion, where enemy resistance again stiffened. Now handicapped more than ever by its lack of artillery, the brigade closed up to the new line and prepared for further action. Meanwhile, on the west coast, a furious battle was in progress. Between 18 and 23 January the Kimura Detachment, advancing from Moron, met and destroyed large enemy forces between Mt. Natib and the Mauban area. It then pressed on towards Bagac. To facilitate its advance, Maj. Gen. Kimura ordered the 2d Battalion of the 20th Infantry to proceed by sea to Caibobo Point and effect a landing in the enemy rear. On 23 January the battalion was lifted at Mayagao Point, near Moron, and moved by boat down the west coast, but confused by darkness and a strong tide, the main strength landed on Quinauan Point and Agloloma by mistake, while one element continued far south and landed at Longoskawayan Point, near Mariveles. These units were immediately attacked by superior enemy forces.* On 26 January one company of the 20th Infantry Regiment was dispatched by boat from Olongapo with food and ammunition for the 2d Battalion. This company landed on Canas Point and was immediately placed under fire by American artillery, losing most of its boats and finally retiring to Mayagao Point with heavy casualties.65 This made the position of the 2d Battalion even more desperate. Meanwhile, the Kimura Detachment pushed ahead and took Bagac on 25 January.
On the eastern sector the 65th Brigade prepared for a new offensive to dislodge the enemy forces from their positions between Mt.
Samat and Orion. Army artillery units began advancing into the area west of Balanga on 27 January, but because of jungle obstacles and enemy counterbattery, their efforts were largely ineffectual. The brigade nevertheless launched a coordinated attack on the 27th, failing to penetrate the American line. The battle lasted for four clays and was climaxed by an attempt to take Mt. Samat on the 31st, which also failed. This sector then quieted down and attention shifted to the west coast, where the Japanese force had also fallen into serious difficulties.
The quick advance of the Kimura Detachment to Bagac had encouraged Fourteenth Army headquarters, and General Homma had decided to exploit this success by throwing fresh reserves into the area. On 28 January Lt. Gen. Morioka, 16th Division commander, joined the Kimura Detachment with two infantry battalions and took command. Attacking east of Bagac on the night of 29-30 January, the 3d Battalion, 20th Infantry, drove a salient into the enemy line but then was pinched off and pocketed by a strong enemy counterattack the following day. Attacked from all sides, the battalion suffered heavy casualties but hung on grimly while the 16th Division, attacking with the 9th Infantry and the 2d Battalion, 33d Infantry, strove to effect its relief.
General Morioka, with his operations stalled along the Bagac line and two battalions marooned behind the enemy lines, decided to effect another amphibious landing in the enemy rear. On 2 February the 1st Battalion, 20th Infantry, landed at Canas Point and also lost the greater part of its combat strength in a strong attack by a superior enemy force. The entire 20th Infantry was now threatened with destruction.
Deciding to evacuate the two battalions trapped on Quinauan and Canas Points, General Morioka on 7 February dispatched a group of landing barges from Olongapo. So intense was enemy fire at the landing points, however, that only 43 casualties could be evacuated. At this point the 70th Independent Air Unit succeeded in dropping some supplies to the beleaguered troops, but their situation remained desperate under heavy enemy attack.
It was now becoming increasingly apparent that the Fourteenth Army could progress no farther with its depleted forces.66 The 65th Brigade and 16th Division units had fought bravely and well in driving the stubbornly resisting enemy back upon the Bagac-Orion line. The 10th Independent Air Unit and Navy air groups day after day had carried out bombing missions against enemy artillery, vehicles, strongpoints, and dumps, at the same time engaging the few remaining American aircraft in dog-fights. Nevertheless, no attack, however determined, seemed to be able to crack the line which Philippine-American troops had forged from Bagac to Orion. The possibility of success, moreover, decreased with each attack since front-line units were by this time seriously understrength.
General Homma was now placed in a difficult dilemma. His intelligence indicated that the enemy's defenses were not only strongly manned but in great depth.67* The Fourteenth
Army had no more available reserves which it could throw in to turn the tide of battle. A pause for reorganization and replenishment seemed imperative, but Southern Army Headquarters, impatient over the delay in winding up the Bataan campaign, was pressing for a continuation of the attack.68
Despite this latter pressure, General Homma on 8 February ordered the temporary suspension of offensive operations in order to reorganize his forces. This could not be carried out immediately, however, for on the 16th Division front east of Bagac, it remained necessary to extricate the pocketed and desperately-fighting 3d Battalion of the 20th Infantry. Frontline units of the 16th Division fought forward to assist in piercing the enemy encirclement of their comrades, while feint attacks were launched on other sectors of the line to keep the enemy off balance. At the cost of further casualties, the remnants of the 3d Battaliona meager 378 officers and men with the regimental commanderwere finally extricated on 15 February. On the 16th, General Homma re-ordered the cessation of aggressive operations and notified Southern Army that the attack could not be continued.69
On 22 February the Fourteenth Army line was withdrawn a few miles to the north, the enemy following up and re-occupying positions evacuated by the Japanese forces. The fighting now entered a protracted lull, during which Army and Navy forces concentrated primarily on tightening the blockade of southern Bataan and Corregidor. On 27 February the Suzuki Detachment (1st Battalion, 33d Infantry Regiment, reinf.), supported by naval troops, occupied Calapan, on northeastern Mindoro, thus strengthening the sea blockade of Manila Bay.70
The stalemate in the Philippines was in marked contrast to the rapid and decisive victories won by Japanese arms on every other front of the Pacific War. In Southeast Asia, Malaya and Singapore had already fallen, and Japanese troops were poised to invade Burma and Sumatra. To the south of the Philippines, the Japanese advance had swallowed Borneo and the Celebes, with Java and Timor soon scheduled to follow. In the Southwest Pacific, a salient had been thrown out to the Bismarck Archipelago, threatening New Guinea and Australia.
Though embarrassing to the Fourteenth Army, the failure quickly to eliminate American-Filipino resistance on Bataan at first aroused no particular concern on the part of Imperial General Headquarters and the Southern Army command, which were jubilant over the overall success of the initial operations.71 However, as the action reports from General Homma's headquarters became more and more pessimistic in the early part of February, Imperial General Headquarters began to perceive the gravity of the situation and realized that special measures were necessary to bolster the Fourteenth Army.
To provide General Homma with a fresh nucleus of infantry strength for a renewed assault on Bataan, Imperial General Headquarters on 10 February ordered immediate preparations for the redeployment of the 4th Division, then at Shanghai, to the Philippines where it would come under Fourteenth Army command. It was further recognized that heavy siege artillery, lack of which had contributed to the failure to breach the main line, would be necessary to assure success. Such units were therefore ordered withdrawn from other theaters, particularly China, and diverted to the Philippines. Air forces were also to be replenished by pulling back Army and Navy air units from the southern area.
Throughout the latter part of February and March, staff officers of Southern Army and Fourteenth Army shuttled back and forth between Manila and Saigon and between Saigon and Tokyo, planning and effecting the reinforcement operation. It was estimated that the concentration and emplacement of largecaliber artillery from Malaya and Hongkong would be completed by early April, at which time the offensive could be renewed.72 Order of battle of the forces that were being assembled to reinforce Fourteenth Army for the final Philippine operation was as follows:73
In preparation for the coming offensive, Lt. Gen. Homma on 3 March ordered the front line units to move forward, drive in the enemy outpost line, and feel out the main line of resistance. On 12 March the 16th Division began to advance its reconnaissance line to the right banks of the Bagac and Gogo Rivers. On the same day the 65th Brigade, driving in enemy outposts, moved up to the area north of the confluence of the Maldica and Tiawir Rivers and to the area north of Liang. On 13 March the Nagano Detachment, which had debarked at Lingayen on 26 February, sent an element forward to a line Aboabo-New Maluya-Pilar.
While these preliminary operations were in progress, a steady stream of replacements, reinforcement units, and supplies was flowing into Luzon through the Lingayen ports. The 16th Division and 65th Brigade each received 3,500 replacements to build up badly depleted troop strength. The 4th Division began to arrive in Luzon late in February, the movement continuing all during the month of March. The first 4th Division troops arrived at the front on 13 March.
Reconnaissance of the terrain and of enemy positions effected in early March revealed to General Homma that lack of suitable combat training was one of the earlier causes of failure. To remedy this, the main force was assembled in the rear areas a unit at a time,75 and, using abandoned American positions in the old Moron-Abucay line, the troops were given an intensive course of training in attack on fortified areas, following artillery barrages, close combat in jungles and gullies, and night attacks against enemy positions protected by barbed wire and emplaced in precipitous terrain.76
Thus, steady progress was being made in preparations for the all-out attack against Bataan. Confident of success,77 General Homma on 22 March issued a preliminary order which outlined the plan of attack as follows:78 (Plate No. 26)
On 23 March all unit commanders were summoned to the Army command post at San Fernando to receive instructions for the attack. At this conference the Chief of Staff, Maj. Gen. Takaji Wachi,79 stressed that the battle of Bataan had assumed great significance, and that nothing less than overwhelming victory was expected.
General Wachi further stressed the desires of the Army Commander regarding the manner of conducting the attack. Units were ordered to plan their attacks in minutest detail. Progress was to be conservative. Units were to select small limited objectives and overrun each in turn, thus disintegrating the main line of resistance. Unit commanders were particularly warned against taking needless losses and throwing the timetable off by staging reckless attacks. The proper use of firepower was mentioned, including the Army's plan for heavy air and artillery preparations.
Air preparation began on 24 March and continued without interruption for seven days.80 Concentrating on enemy artillery positions, Army and Navy bombers systematically worked over every inch of southern Bataan from front to rear. The latter part of March also saw the tightening of the sea blockade by fleet units outside Manila Bay. Army heavy artillery units meanwhile conducted firing against Corregidor and the batteries on Caballo and El Fraile islands.
On 28 March General Homma gave the order setting 3 April, death anniversary of Jimmu Tenno, the first Emperor of Japan, as the opening day of the offensive. The second and final phase of the battle of the Philippines was about to begin.
At 0900 on 3 April the artillery opened with a devastating preparation that lasted six hours. This succeeded in neutralizing almost all the enemy strongpoints and artillery batteries. Front line units jumped off on schedule at 1500. After the jump-off, air and artillery
targets were shifted to enemy positions and gun emplacements around Mt. Samat. The 4th Division, making the main effort, proceeded to envelop Mt. Samat from the left, with four battalions disposed to the right attacking from the vicinity of Liang and two battalions to the left advancing up the Tala River.81 (Plate No. 27) The troops made slow, hazardous, but steady progress through the enemy's brilliantly organized maze of field fortifications, wire, minefields, and obstacles constituting the main line of resistance. Mutually supporting strongpoints covered the steep jungle hills, each point organized to take maximum advantage of the terrain. Flanks were cleverly bent back along natural obstacles and there were many alternate positions to lend fluidity to the defense. But the weeks of training in rear areas had benefited the troops, and on the first day the enemy was driven from the forward part of the main line of resistance. The next morning, 4 April, air and artillery attacks were again intensified, and by evening the main line of resistance was penetrated in the Mt. Samat area.82
Meanwhile, in the west, the diversionary operations of the 76th Division were staged as scheduled. The division carefully avoided a heavy engagement and limited most of its activities to artillery firing. On the night of 4 April the division began moving to Maldica and prepared to exploit the breakthrough.
The tactical situation continued to develop favorably, and Mt. Samat was stormed at 1250 hours on 5 April. On the night of the same day the Army Commander directed dispositions for a sweeping advance to the Limay River on the 6th. The next morning the Nagano Detachment swung out toward the Caponilan River and Mt. Orion, and pursued the enemy to the southeast. The 4th Division was heavily engaged on the southeast slopes of Mt. Samat and on the upper Tala River. Air support was close, speedy, and effective. On the night of the 6th, Army artillery units displaced to positions at the northeastern foot of Mt. Samat and continued to render support.
The Japanese attack had now gathered momentum all along the line, and the enemy was given no time in which to organize on the reserve line of resistance. On 7 April the 4th Division spearhead approached the Limay River. The 65th Brigade meanwhile charged up the Patingan River towards the northern foot of Mt. Mariveles, and the 16th Division, having been relieved by the 10th Independent Garrison Unit, was completing its movement to the Aboabo-Maldica area. The same day General Homma fixed the exploitation line as the southern coast of Bataan and gave orders to pursue the enemy to Mariveles. The next morning, 8 April, the forward elements closed up to the Limay River.
Air reconnaissance reports reached Fourteenth Army headquarters during this period indicating that the enemy was retiring in the direction of Cabcaben and Mariveles and that there was a concentration of enemy shipping in Mariveles, Cabcaben, and Sisiman Bays. Anxious to prevent the enemy from effecting a sea evacuation of the peninsula, General Homma issued an operations order at 2200 on 8 April to effect the quick destruction of the enemy force. In substance the order was as follows:83
As the Japanese forces drove forward on 9 April in pursuance of this order, enemy resistance finally collapsed. Tank forces of the 4th Division charged into Mariveles at 1300.84 The 16th Division, echeloned to the left rear, raced along the Limay-Cabcaben-Mariveles coastal route, reaching Mariveles that night. On the same day the 65th Brigade captured the summit of Mt. Mariveles.85
Thus, the gallant enemy defense of Bataan, which had won the respect of even the Japanese commanders, finally ended. As the flood of sick and battle-weary prisoners increased by the hour, Major General Edward P. King Jr., American commander of the Luzon Force, sent a flag of truce. Hostilities on Bataan were finally brought to an end on 11 April. The final offensive had required about one week less than General Homma had expected.86
Japanese firepower had been the key to victory. Guns used by the Japanese forces in the Bataan operation totaled 241, of which 133 were field and mountain artillery pieces (75mm100mm) and 108 were 120mm howitzers or larger. About 9,000 rounds of ammunition were expended by the Army artillery alone.87 The Army air force dropped a total of 907 tons of bombs on Bataan and outlying areas, 563 tons of which were dropped during the second phase (3-11 April).88 Casualties among the Japanese numbered about 1400.89
The Japanese forces now turned their attention to Corregidor, the historic and formidable fortress lying at the entrance to Manila Bay. Despite the surrender of Bataan, Corregidor showed no signs of giving up. Toward the end of the Bataan campaign, Army artillery had displaced to the Cabcaben area and commenced to shell Corregidor. The air force had been bombing the island almost daily. Enemy armed boats, still active in Manila Bay, were attacked by artillery and air forces. In spite of this show of force, the defenders of Cor
regidor appeared to be ready to make a fight of it.90
General Homma decided to attack the fortress of Corregidor and if necessary to invade Caballo, Carabao and El Fraile after the occupation of Corregidor. The general outline of the attack plan was formulated by 17 April, and by that date, also, approximately 80 large and small landing barges were stealthily slipped into Manila Bay. Since the operation was to be an opposed amphibious landing against a strong permanent defense installation, the preparations were carried forward with great care and secrecy.
In substance the plan was as follows:91
2. Operational Instructions
3. Artillery Preparation
4. Army Air Units
5. 16th Division
While Fourteenth Army was readying its forces for the crucial assault on Corregidor, operations in the central and southern Philippines were progressing according to plan. On 19 April the Kawaguchi Detachment, transferred from Borneo, captured Cebu Island, and by about 20 April the Kawamura Detachment had overrun Panay.93 These two detachments then moved to Mindanao and, together with the Miura Detachment, embarked on a pacification campaign throughout the island in the latter part of April.
Back on Luzon, the forces for the Corregidor offensive had completed their training in southeastern Bataan, and the necessary shipping was assembled at Lamao and Limay. On 28 April, General Homma, hoping to deceive the enemy into thinking that no attack was planned against Corregidor, staged a belated ceremonious entry into Manila. Meanwhile, the sporadic firing of the Army artillery against Corregidor was continued, together with bomb
ing by the Army air force.94
On 29 April, Army air forces began a furious seven day preparation on Corregidor, repeatedly attacking batteries, antiaircraft positions and pillboxes. Caballo and El Fraile were also attacked during this period. On 2 May Army artillery units began three days of preliminary firing against point targets on Corregidor. By 5 May Corregidor was strangely quiet.
On the evening of 5 May the 1st and 2d Battalions of the 61st Infantry Regiment (reinf.) embarked near Limay and at Lamao. As the boat group, moving under cover of darkness, ran for the eastern tip of Corregidor, it was brought under fire from the island. Due to the darkness and a heavy inshore current in North Channel, the boat group was carried too far east, and the troops touched down on Cavalry Point and just east of North Point instead of at Infantry Point as planned. Enemy resistance was heavy, and the force took great casualties. The regiment pushed ahead, however, and at 0200 gained the high ground to the northeast of the airstrip.
At dawn a furious battle began in the narrow neck of Corregidor around Infantry Point. Air support was heavy with 88 tons of bombs dropped on 6 May in support of the 61st Infantry Regiment.95 Between 1000 and 1100 hours a strong counterattack was mounted by the American defenders but was repulsed after fierce fighting at close quarters. All during that morning, worried about the situation, the 4th Division had been working on a plan to change the landing schedule. This change in plans was abandoned at 1330 when Lt. Gen. Jonathan L. Wainwright, USAFFE Commander since General MacArthur's departure, appeared at the front under a flag of truce and offered to surrender.
That afternoon General Wainwright was transported to Cabcaben, where he entered into surrender negotiations with General Homma. Meanwhile, the bitter struggle continued on Corregidor, and the 61st Infantry entered San Jose at 1630. During the Cabcaben interview General Wainwright could not be dissuaded from his intention of surrendering only Corregidor rather than all American forces in the Philippines. He was therefore informed that the attack would be continued.
On the night of 6 May following a sharp 15-minute artillery preparation, the right flank forces embarked at Lamao as planned, landing at 2340 slightly east of the assigned beaches on Battery Point against no resistance.96 Sweeping inland, they quickly reached the south shore of Corregidor and, acting in conjunction with the 61st Infantry, wiped out the last pockets of resistance at 0830 on 7 May. Shortly after noon, elements of the 33d Infantry Regiment, 16th Division, occupied Carabao and El Fraile Islands after the defenders had raised surrender flags. Meanwhile the Caballo Island landing force, though seriously delayed by the necessity of beating off an attack by enemy armed boats, also proceeded to its objective, landed at 0030 on 7 May, and occupied Caballo Island. This was the last combat operation of the Philippines campaign.97
Due to the unexpected tenacity of the enemy defense of Bataan and Corregidor, the campaign, originally scheduled to be completed in about
fifty days, had taken five months. It had also required the employment of a total, for all phases of the campaign, of approximately 192,000 army and navy personnel, a figure considerably in excess of the initial strength allotment.98
On the night of 7 May Lt. Gen. Wainwright was taken to Manila where, at 2350, he broadcast the surrender order to all American and Filipino forces throughout the islands. American staff officers were forthwith sent to the commanders of the Visayas and Mindanao areas to deliver the orders. The Fourteenth Army commander meanwhile dispatched urgent telegrams to Southern Army and Imperial General Headquarters reporting the occupation of Corregidor and the surrender of the Philippines.99
On 10 May Maj. Gen. Sharp, commander of Philippine-American forces in the Visayas and Mindanao, surrendered to the Kawamura Detachment. Following this surrender, General Sharp's staff officers, organized as truce teams, aided in the peaceful occupation of the
southern islands and the Visayas.100 Negros, Bohol, Leyte and Samar were occupied by the Nagano Detachment by 25 May.
On 29 June the Fourteenth Army was removed from the command of the Southern Army and placed under the direct control of Imperial General Headquarters, which immediately issued the following orders:101
With the conquest of the Philippines Japan had extended its control over the entire area within the initially planned perimeter of conquest. The strategic situation was exceedingly bright, and it appeared that the nation had placed itself in a virtually impregnable defense position.
Within the limits of this perimeter Japan had made herself master of the land, sea, and air. The powerful blows which had been struck against the American fleet at Pearl Harbor, the British Navy in the South China Sea, and against the combined Allied fleet in the Java Sea had reduced to almost nil the naval forces opposing the Japanese in the southern area.102 In Java the Sixteenth Army had conducted a whirlwind ten-day campaign between 1-9 March, with the result that this richest of all prizes in the Dutch East Indies fell to the Japanese with hardly a fight.103 In Burma the Fifteenth Army had ejected General Stillwell's forces and stood at the gateway to India.
Japan stood ready to develop a newly-won empire.