Darkening Clouds in the Far East

The succession of dramatic events in Europe and the Atlantic theater in late 1941 held American attention chiefly in that direction rather than westward. It could hardly have been otherwise. Despite the German Army's "irresistible" sweep across western Russia, America's aid to the Soviet Union had been announced on 15 August 1941. The German submarine operations in the Atlantic, if not irresistible, were impressively successful, and now were involving America more and more: several American cargo ships were sunk, the American destroyer Greer was attacked (on 4 September 1941), and on 11 September Mr. Roosevelt issued his "shooting orders" in the form of a warning that Axis war vessels entering waters which the United States was protecting would do so "at their own risk." Americans were garrisoning Iceland and were rapidly taking over the defenses of the eight new west Atlantic bases leased from the British. Congress was asked by Mr. Roosevelt on 9 October to modify the 1939 Neutrality Act so as to permit arming of American merchant vessels, which Congress did on 17 November.

These striking circumstances, emphasized by the dramatic mid-Atlantic meeting of President Roosevelt and Mr. Churchill and by the former's strong references to the German menace in his speeches, inevitably focused public attention upon the war in the Atlantic rather than upon Pacific developments. In the Atlantic the Navy was sustaining casualties. There the Army was deploying its forces, to garrison the newly acquired bases. In the Atlantic and in Europe lay the primary objective of American military policy-by definition made as early as 5 October 1940, and reaffirmed as late as 3 November 1941,1  when all possible aid was at last being rushed to the Philippines. That objective was the defeat, first, of Germany. From the armed services, then, it is fair to say that there was no continuous effort that could have directed the chief attention of


the public from the European aspects of the war, and the public was thus permitted to maintain its own first interest in European developments. This first interest was natural. American ancestral roots were dominantly in Europe. Language, literature, and cultural tastes in general were akin to Europe's and remote from Asia's. Europe was nearer, far more accessible, and hence far better understood. Trade relations, in almost all cases, were closer than with Asia. Newspaper reports were relatively far fuller, far more numerous, far more interesting to most readers. For an infinitude of reasons America was to some extent familiar with the European situation and hence interested in it and alert to its developments. To the Sino-Japanese war much less attention was given. It was remote and indifferently reported. It had been going on for years. Its immediate and principal victims were Orientals rather than Americans or other Occidentals to whom any large body of Americans felt consanguinity. Even affronts and injuries to Americans-notably in the sinking of U. S. S. Panay, in the attack on U. S. S. Tutuila, and in the succession of insolent "accidents" for which Japan studiously made correct if hollow apology- remained unpunished and hence after a time were themselves patiently absorbed and half forgotten. In an area which in the event of war would be the first to suffer, Maj. Gen. George Grunert, then commanding the Philippine Department, U. S. Army, felt that a sterner policy toward Japan was desirable, and he protested to the Chief of Staff against "appeasement and catering to Japan." 2

Only if all this is borne in mind, and only if one is conscious of the numbing effect of injuries oft repeated and never firmly dealt with, or alarms repeated and never (until the last time) followed by fulfillment -only then, it would seem in retrospect, is it possible to account either for the amazement of the American public when war actually burst into flame at Pearl Harbor instead of in the Atlantic, or for the equal amazement of most of the military establishment when an event long recognized as possible actually came to pass at Pearl Harbor instead of in the Far East- so suddenly that all the vigorous actions contemplated to combat that very event were for the most part untaken.

Limitations of Planning for the Philippines

Earlier chapters of this volume have noted fleetingly certain aspects of American war planning which took cognizance of the perils of the Pacific. Diplomatic


phases and naval aspects are dealt with in a variety of other publications.3 A great flood of records and judgments is available in the 15,000 manuscript pages of the Congressional inquiry into the Pearl Harbor attack and the 9,000 pages of seven ancillary inquiries into the same events.4   The discussion in the pages that follow will therefore concern itself with those actions and judgments which involved or directly influenced the Office of the Chief of Staff.

For an understanding of those actions it is necessary to bear in mind that the military program for defending the Philippines over a period of years was itself a variable influenced by numerous political considerations but dominated for years, so far as the Army was concerned, by the lack of officers, men, material, airfields, and shipping. It was these shortages which down to 1940 were primarily responsible, in the view of WPD, for "failure to undertake adequate defensive measures" in behalf of the Philippines.5 The nightmare of all these lacks was ever present, and to think that the vigorous reinforcement of the islands which finally got under way in late 1941 was due solely to a belated recognition of the islands' needs would be to miss the point of first importance. The reinforcement, such as it was, came about because in late 1941 (Hawaii, Panama, and Alaska being at last cared for after a fashion) the Army for the first time felt that men and materiel were available for the Far East.

The widespread archipelago's vulnerability at one point or another was so great that at best the defense of it could be only partial, and probably could be only temporary as well, without an inflow of assistance from continental United States. This over a long period of years was the basis of Joint Board planning which contemplated the firm defense of an area about Manila Bay for a period whose extent would be determined by the ability to bring up reinforcements after war should develop. The strength of defensive instal-


lations had been increased little since 1922 even though the preventive clauses of that year's naval limitation treaty were no longer binding after Japan renounced that treaty in 1936. A factor bad been Congressional reluctance to make military gestures that might offend Japan. Another was the passage of the Philippine independence act which marked the approaching date of American withdrawal from the Philippines and discouraged military expenditures in an area so soon to be vacated. In 1940, when it became apparent that there was need for immediate reinforcement of the islands, for American strategic purposes as well as for Philippine security, reinforcement could not be extended save by taking men and material away from areas, such as Panama and Hawaii, which the War Department then regarded as more essential to American strategy than were the Philippines themselves. This situation continued well into 1941. "Deficiencies in arms and equipment . . . for the immediate defense of the Western Hemisphere . . . were so serious that adequate reinforcements for the Philippines at this time would have left the United States in a position of great peril," explained General Marshall in his official report on 1941 policy.6  He had said much the same thing more picturesquely in 1939 when President Roosevelt asked if he could not reinforce the islands. He could do so, he replied, only by sending out of the country, to its peril, the Army's "few grains of seed corn." 7 What was done thereafter, when he felt it possible to send aid, was to send such as could currently be spared-first, money to increase the Philippine Scouts; next, temporary officers as they received sufficient training; next, as munitions productions increased, material which no longer had to be placed exclusively nearer home. Consistently the controlling factor was availability of aid. General Grunert, assigned in June 1940 to command the Philippine Department, supplied a succession of warning reports and recommendations-eight of them in July-August 1940 alone-in response to which betterment came only slowly, so large were the difficulties to be surmounted. The attitude of defeatism then noticeable among the Filipinos General Grunert attributed to ". . . the lack of an announced policy backed by visual evidence of defense means and measures." 8

For years responsible officers had made repeated protests against the inconsistency of professing defense of the Philippines as a national policy, while


maintaining there forces insufficient to provide a respectable defense. In 1933 when General Embick, then a brigadier, was commanding the harbor defenses of Manila Bay, he wrote his protests against serious reliance upon the Orange Plan of that day, because of twenty-five years' "progressive weakening of our military position in the Philippine islands." He proceeded:

As a result the Philippine Islands have become a military liability of a constantly increasing gravity. To carry out the present Orange Plan-with its provisions for the early dispatch of our fleet to Philippine waters-would be literally an act of madness. No milder term can be employed if facts are squarely to be faced. In the event of an Orange War the best that could be hoped for would be that wise counsels would prevail, that our people would acquiesce in the temporary loss of the Philippines, and that the dispatch of our battle fleet to the Far East would be delayed for two or three years needed for its augmentation . . . .

He urged a re-examination of military policy with respect to the islands and recommended, in light of the feeble defenses then available, the withdrawal of military and naval establishments to a peacetime strategic frontier of Alaska-Oahu-Panama, in its purpose strikingly suggestive of the withdrawal to the 180 meridian which WPD itself advocated seven years later. In his indorsement of General Embick's study, Maj. Gen. E. E. Booth, then commanding general in the Philippines, added his own warning against the vulnerability of a weak garrison in the islands.9 The following year brought about a statement of policy that recognized the relationship of defense to availability of funds, and not much more:

Depending on the availability of funds, the War Department desires to keep up existing strength, both in personnel and materiel, in the Philippines, and in particular to provide adequate protection for the harbor defenses of Manila Bay, but to go to no further expense for permanent improvements unless thereby ultimate saving will result.

This dubious declaration, approved by General MacArthur who then was Chief of Staff, was repeated verbatim in 1936 in a WPD declaration, again in 1939 in that year's revision of the Philippine Defense Project, again in 1940 in a WPD summary for the Chief of Staff and, in abbreviated form, in a WPD recapitulation of U. S. policy between 1922 and 1940.10 The 1939 protest of WPD against incon-


sistency of policy and preparation to support the policy was a realistic recognition that Army and Navy points of view on the subject were at complete variance, the Army still considering the Philippines a military liability rather than an asset and hence opposing reinforcement of the garrison, especially in view of the anticipated independence of the islands in 1946; in this the Navy did not concur. In August 1939 WPD held that if there was to be sound planning there must be a clear definition of national policy and a choice of three alternatives: (1) to maintain the existing defenses, inadequate as they were to hold Manila Bay against a determined Japanese attack and hence foredoomed to defeat; (2) to withdraw from the Philippines and maintain a western defense at the 180 meridian with awareness that this would augment Japanese prestige and weaken America's; (3) to provide adequate defense for the naval base by air and antiaircraft and ground reinforcements even though this should be at the cost of other American areas needing defense.11 The paper was returned to WPD as "noted" by the Chief of Staff on 6 May 1940, without indication of immediate results or explanation of the long delay. In the interval the question was discussed by the Joint Board, notably on 20 February 1940 when Navy members suggested the wisdom of increasing both Army and Navy aviation strength in the Philippines "in time of peace as an additional deterrent to further Japanese plans for expansion." 12

The suggestion was opposed by General Marshall unless the garrison increase could be sufficient to provide an actual self-sustained defense, the possibility of which he would explore later. It was to that end that WPD, after conferring with Air Corps officers, reported that proper defense would require a composite air wing made up of 441 planes of all categories (there were 37 planes in the islands at the time), and pointed out that such a force would require additional facilities costing in excess of $22,000,000; the equipment and allowances for 9,454 new air personnel would involve an added cost of $99,000,000. The proportionate addition in ground forces (infantry, antiaircraft, and harbor defense) was estimated at 12,741 men (there were 4,800 U. S. troops and 6,400 Scouts there then). The memorandum is of particular interest in its recognition in early 1940 that "the principal reliance would be placed on air power not only to deter an attack on Luzon but to defeat one if made" (a belated but significant recognition of the airplane's role in strategic planning) and in its confident belief that the prospect


of an enlarged air-navy-ground force's defeating a first attack and thus allowing time for the U. S. Fleet to reach the vicinity "would be a serious deterrent to any overt act." For such an establishment, however, WPD suggested that a very considerable augmentation of strength was essential (following the view which General Marshall had expressed in the Joint Board meeting). A lesser addition would be impractical.13

General Grunert's Pressure for Reinforcement

Immediately after his arrival in Manila in June 1940 General Grunert, in a series of personal letters to General Marshall and formal memoranda to The Adjutant General,14 began his efforts to provide much of that augmentation. In July he urged the sending of ammunition (a much smaller amount than he recommended was approved on 5 September after repeated inquiries); also of antiaircraft defense materiel and personnel (a greatly reduced amount was approved on 29 July); also of Air Corps materiel and personnel (no action for months); he pressed for immediate increase of the Philippine Scouts to 12,000 (he was supported in this by WPD but opposed by G-1 for the persuasive reason that such an increase would be charged against the number of new personnel allotted to the Regular Army in that critical period); he sought more funds, largely for harbor defense installations (this proposal was rejected, the explanation citing a policy established three years earlier when, as General Grunert sharply remarked, there was no world war in action and no situation comparable to that of 1940). Another of his unheeded communications, as he reminded General Marshall, was the 16th indorsement upon a question raised twenty months earlier-which meant that the War Department had taken no effective action upon it in that considerable period. This discouraging sequence of events General Grunert recited to General Marshall in his personal letter of 1 September. His primary purpose, however, was to point out the defeatist attitude which had developed in the Philippine Commonwealth, to the point where it was believed that the United States no longer intended to defend the archipelago. General Grunert urged action that would overcome the pessimism. Specifically he recommended "a really strong air force and a strong submarine force both based on the Philippines," the building up of the U. S. Army units in the islands, and the assignment of American officers to train the Philippine Army units


(these being the early elements of the force that General Douglas MacArthur, as Military Advisor to the Philippine Government, was developing: the Scouts, a well-trained and extremely effective group of Filipino soldiers, who were not in the Philippine but in the U. S. Army).

The letter was well timed, for in the War Department there was already a mounting realization that Far East developments were calling for a firmer American policy. This had been indicated by WPD's midsummer effort in behalf of General Grunert's proposal for increasing the Scouts. It now was manifest in an extended study that WPD prepared in discussion both of General Grunert's long letter and of a plea from President Manuel Quezon of the Philippine Commonwealth for support of a Commonwealth military training program.15 WPD summarized briefly the series of recommendations by General Grunert and noted the scant support given them; antiaircraft materiel had been augmented only to a limited degree; the ammunition reserve had been increased to the extent of only one priority rather than three; the aircraft warning service was disapproved on grounds of cost; no action was yet taken on the request for increasing the U. S. infantry regiment; that for Air Corps additions in planes and personnel was still under study; increase for the Scouts had been disapproved in spite of WPD appeal. Mr. Quezon's proposal was under study. The WPD memorandum then noted briefly the crippling character of current policy, quoting the 1934-1936-1939 versions of the Philippine Defense Project previously recited: "to provide adequate protection for the Harbor Defenses in Manila Bay, but to go to no further expense for permanent improvements unless thereby ultimate savings will result." This had resulted, naturally, in no modernization of defenses. WPD referred to its own recommendations of 2 March 1940 for a composite air wing, a Regular Army division, an antiaircraft regiment, and 2,300 harbor defense troops. It referred also to the 21 August 1939 recommendations, still unacted upon, and then recited the large changes which the world situation had undergone since that time in the forms of the Tripartite Alliance, the increase in the Army as a result of the draft act, the new flow of funds, and the naval expansion program which "in a few years" would "permit us to take a firmer stand." But the new WPD recommendation, in default of knowledge of a new national policy to the contrary, had to be based on military expediency alone: it therefore proposed submitting to the President a plan to withdraw to


the 180 meridian, variants of which, it will be recalled, had been suggested in 1933 and again in August 1939. This startling proposal, now formally advanced in the more nervous atmosphere of October 1940, had an impressive result. It did not win support for any such retreat from the Far East to the 180 meridian, and quite probably was not intended to. But a few weeks later there came about a decision of an almost opposite nature-to increase the Scouts to 12,000 (as WPD had urged long before), to increase the infantry and coast artillery components of the garrison, and to augment local defenses.16

Evidence of a Changed Attitude in 1940

The causes of this radical change in American policy with respect to defense of the Philippines were numerous and cumulative, with the written record presently available providing no certain indication of which was dominant. How fully the WPD memorandum of 10 October had reflected the genuine views of higher authority or, in contrast, strengthened a determination to compel a new and contrary policy decision, can only be conjectured. How fully the flow of world events in late 1940 altered previous judgments again is a matter of speculation. But the fact is that in this period occurred events that called for a change of policy, and developments that permitted such a change. In the latter category can be mentioned the mounting appropriations which provided the War Department with a previously unhoped-for inflow of draft troops which would provide needed manpower. In the former category -events that made obligatory a change in Far East policy- can be mentioned the new reports from Manila, and also the continuing uneasiness over Japanese intentions.

Mr. Quezon initiated in August his request for financial assistance in providing the Filipinos with military training comparable to that now in prospect for Americans under the new draft act. His views were opposed at the time by U.S. High Commissioner F. B. Sayre who felt that Quezon was merely looking for American funds to meet expenses that otherwise the Philippine Government would have to meet, but who also felt that it was a matter for


professional military decision. A WPD summary, referring to this correspondence, held that the United States, being itself unprepared for a threatened two-ocean war, should first attend to its own security and should not weaken itself by diverting funds or materiel to the Philippines.17  The blight of insufficient funds, responsible for the deterioration of defense equipment over two decades and largely responsible also for the current shortages both of trained personnel and of materiel, was still the crippling factor observable in Pacific defenses, as at home: the increase in appropriations during 1940 was still insufficient for the vast rebuilding now necessary. Far more important, that increase was destined to prove too late as well, since it could not buy more production from already overloaded industrial plants.

Pressure for improvement of the Philippine defenses, however, was continuous, from General MacArthur in his labors to build up the Philippine Islands' military forces, from General Grunert as head of the US Army's Philippine Department, and again from Mr. Quezon, who renewed his pleas in October. The Staff's original resistance to their suggestions did not stem from doubts of the military soundness of these proposals, but from that same consciousness which had been expressed in August 1939, that unless large additions could be provided, notably in air and antiair equipment, the islands' vulnerability to full-scale attack would doom the defending forces. The key to a successful defense was to be provided by a large addition to defensive power, not a small one, and a large addition manifestly could be provided only by larger funds than were in sight in mid-1940.

In November General Grunert added his support to the Quezon plea, in a presentation quite different from that in his September letter. In September he had noted an air of defeatism in the islands. In November he expressed concern over the possibility, in the United States, of a quite different state of mind that he regarded as much more ill-informed and even more dangerous. He illustrated his point by sending to General Marshall a local newspaper clipping that implied that the new Philippine Commonwealth Army already possessed 12 first-line divisions of 120,000 trained men ready for combat. To make sure that nobody in the War Department was beset by this delusion General Grunert presented the


realities of that force in precise and unflattering terms. He explained that while General MacArthur's long-term project for a Commonwealth Army to mature in 1946 (the date set for Philippine independence) contemplated 1 regular and 30 reserve divisions, feeble progress was thus far made toward that ambitious goal. Currently the Regular Filipino Army had 468 officers and 3,697 enlisted men, so scattered that the largest single unit was the incipient 1st Infantry Regiment, with 286 enlisted men. The Reserve force had, nominally, 6,416 officers anti 120,000 enlisted men, it was true, but, of the officers, 50 percent had received no training whatever and an additional 15 percent no field training: none had commanded a unit larger than a company. The enlisted men's training was limited, groups totaling 17,000 having had 5  months individual and company training during the previous 3 years, and 24,174 having received 10 days' field training in May 1939, but no unit as large as a battalion having yet been assembled for training. Shortages in clothing and equipment were large. There was no ammunition and only small amounts could be provided from local US Army stores, themselves restricted. Should there be immediate need, General Grunert proposed to utilize such Luzon elements of ill-trained infantry and artillery as were available, in company or battalion units, with one experienced American commander for each company, if available. Even so, the Philippine units would be "capable of only defensive operations involving little or no maneuver, and then only in units not larger than a battalion when closely supervised by experienced officers of the U. S. Army." For efficient defense, he went on, organized and equipped Philippine units "should be mobilized now . . . and training instituted." His need was for 500 qualified American officers, 300 from the Infantry, 50 from Field Artillery, 60 from the Medical Corps, 30 Engineers, 20 Quartermasters, 10 from the Signal Corps, 30 for administrative posts.18

The fact that the mobilization General Grunert recommended in this persuasive argument did not take place for many months, and that he was provided not with 500 American training officers, but with 75, is best explained by examination of the memorandum recording the judgment at which WPD arrived, working under the policy then prescribed. Mobilization of the Commonwealth Army had already been considered and the draft of an emergency proclamation by the President for that purpose was already approved by the War and Navy Departments and ready for Presidential signature at a time not


determined: this preparatory step had been taken in October.19 The physical difficulty of providing 500 qualified Reservists was much greater. G-1 reported that such a number could not be provided and G-3 pointed out that the service schools already were under pressure to provide officers for the training of the new draft army. General Gerow, speaking for WPD, held that under existing conditions ammunition in quantity could not be provided for additional Philippine forces in less than eighteen months. Beyond these physical difficulties WPD pointed to certain large strategic obstacles. Notably, the mobilization might convince the Japanese that the United States was building up its own Far East forces, and thus encourage Japan to steps designed to prevent or forestall such an organization, which itself could not be consummated for a year. Even the Philippine force thus envisaged would not itself suffice in an unlimited war; it would necessarily require American aid, and WPD (speaking for the Chief of Staff and the Joint Board as well) was opposed to committing the United States to a two-ocean war. General Grunert's proposal, if carried out, would undoubtedly help Philippine morale but "it would contribute little to the defensive strength . . . in the immediate future, and might result in involving us in action in that theater which we are not prepared to sustain." Record copies of the letter note concurrence of G-1, G2, and G3 and, while General Marshall's view is not specifically stated on the document, he must have approved the action taken. This was substantially as recommended by WPD, namely, the postponement of the summoning of the Philippine Army


to U. S. service, but the assignment of seventy-five U. S. Reserve officers to assist in training that army as such.20

December 1940 Brings New Action

It is surprising to see that, despite this chilly November attitude toward Philippine defense requirements, a pronounced change was imminent in War Department policy-which coincided, of course, with the nation's policy. It was heralded on the day after Christmas 1940 in another and quite different memorandum from WPD to the Chief of Staff. This too was signed by General Gerow. It asserted that certain steps, previously recommended by General Grunert and rejected because of their cost in dollars, men, and materiel, now could be taken without jeopardy to other defense interests. These were the long-sought increase in the Philippine Scouts from 6,000 to 12,000, the U. S. infantry regiment's increase from 1,100 to 1,653, the two coast artillery regiments' increase from 1,489 to 2,954, the promise to ship in April twenty more 3-inch antiaircraft guns, the immediate shipping of ten 155-mm. guns and fifty 75-mm. guns, and the provision of $1,250,000 in the coming budget for construction.21 The Chief of Staff's approval of this significant urging of a reconsideration was not formally initialed for ten days, but he must have given oral approval for, without awaiting the formal act, WPD confidently sent to General Grunert a radio request that he submit his priority list for construction work, and with equal confidence sent rough estimates of these amounts to the Budget officer.22  Implementation of specific parts of the program within his own jurisdiction was soon approved by the Chief of Staff, and by 27 January the President approved the Scouts' increase.23  The shipping of the antiaircraft guns was not so easily achieved. They were not then available in any such quantity, save by taking them away from their holders. Four antiaircraft guns which had been set aside


for protecting two American coastal cities were in fact diverted to the Philippines, and delivery of the remaining sixteen was simply postponed until guns could be available.24  That they should be made available soon was urged by WPD at this time in an impressively farsighted memorandum to the Chief of Staff:

Conditions may warrant the full requirements of antiaircraft materiel being furnished the Philippine Department in preference to units in the United States . . . . Except for a limited number of regiments designated for special tasks, the problem in the United States is one of training, whereas the overseas departments may be confronted with the execution of combat missions on short notice.25

A few days later General Marshall sent to General Grunert the following radiogram:

For international effect during the next few days it is desired that you give evidence of genuine activity in developing Scout Force to 12,000 strength. Later radio will probably carry instructions, for same reason, regarding retention of officers now due to return to States, and commencement of reduction of Army women and children.26

It must be recognized that the marked change in Departmental viewpoint with regard to Philippine defense that came at the turn of the year was not implemented by immediate betterment of defenses in any large sense. The additions to personnel and materiel were modest and their delivery slow, due in part to the distance to be covered but largely to the actual unavailability of men or materiel in quantity. A few examples of insufficiency may be cited: General Brett's emphasis to WPD that its current estimates for defensive installations in the islands should allow for large improvements of an establishment which at the time was "entirely inadequate for the air defense"; General Marshall's remark that "recent action was taken as one of a number of means to impress Japan with the fact that we mean business" (the action being merely retention of sixty officers who were due to return); the hearty assurance to General Grunert that " the entire project" for one of the construction items was approved, so that he could proceed immediately (the amount involved being only $1,000,000) ; the WPD recommendation in February against activating a headquarters company, which was reversed in April only by "a certain amount of juggling" of personnel; and the unhappy confession that probably no respectable amount of .50-caliber ammunition could go out "before the late spring of


1942." 27 The situation is perhaps better revealed in the large by General Marshall's letter to General Grunert in late March, observing:

I have just looked over two staff papers dealing with the improvement of Philippine defenses. On both of these papers the action was considerably short of your recommendations, which have been denied in part only because we are at present unable to stretch our available resources far enough to meet the tremendous pressure we are subjected to from all directions. This is particularly true in the matter of planes, although the staff is exploring every possible way to get modern equipment for your bombardment squadron as well as to meet deficiencies in defensive reserve.

I am telling you this informally because I am acutely conscious of the depressing effect of repeated stereotyped disapprovals on a commander in the field. I want you to know that your recommendations are not being handled in a perfunctory, routine way.28

A later note, following General Grunert's new request for ammunition, antiaircraft equipment, and aircraft, was in much the same tone:

. . . I have looked into the matters you mentioned but am afraid that except for the material concerning which you have already been advised, there is nothing new in the offing. We are doing everything we can for you, and I am sure you understand our limitations.29

The dismal condition of antiaircraft material supply, not only then but for long afterward, is vividly portrayed by a reply of General Somervell late that year to an inquiry about much-needed aircraft warning service equipment. The amount required would not be completed until the end of 1942, at the current production rate, he said, and certain equipment of newly standardized type not until 1943 and early 1944.30

General MacArthur's Large Plan for Defense

During all these months the correspondence on major phases of Philippine defense had been with General Grunert as commanding general of the Philippine Department. Until early 1941 there was relatively little with General


MacArthur, who on completion of his extended tour of duty as Chief of Staff, U. S. Army, in 1935 had gone to Manila as U. S. Military Adviser to the Philippine Government. This activity, open to him as a retired U. S. Army officer, was in harmony with the long-term program for Philippine independence in 1946 as laid down by Congress in 1934. General MacArthur's mission in his own words was not only that "of preparing the Commonwealth for independent defense by 1946, but also the mission given me by President Roosevelt, so to coordinate its development as to be utilizable to the maximum possible during the transitory period while the United States has the obligations of sovereignty." 31 The 1 February 1941 letter to General Marshall, in which he thus recites his aim, may be regarded as the real reopening of General MacArthur's wholehearted relationship with the U. S. Army, as distinguished from that with his immediate employer of the previous three years, the Philippine Government. The Philippine Army constituted a somewhat nebulous potential in the scheme of the Philippine Department, US Army. General Grunert's skeptical observations, previously mentioned, on the current state of the new force and his additional remarks in ensuing weeks were such as an observant departmental commander would make with regard to forces that were scheduled in emergency to come under his command. Not only did General Grunert expect that he himself would have that command if such an emergency should come to pass, but well into the spring of 1941 his expectation was shared by Staff officers in Washington.

General MacArthur's 1 February letter took up an enterprise entirely new to the War Department planning to date. It recapitulated his own ambitious program for the Commonwealth's ultimate 1946 defense forces, to include thirty reserve divisions plus special combat troops, the whole ground force of 250,000 scheduled to be 50 percent complete in 1941; plus a balanced air corps, plus a naval corps "whose primary striking element will consist of from thirty to fifty high-speed motor torpedo boats." This considerable establishment was projected "within the limitations of finances, to provide an adequate defense at the beach against a landing operation by an expeditionary force of 100,000, which is estimated to be the maximum initial effort of the most powerful potential enemy." To that end General MacArthur now explained, there was in ultimate contemplation a defense not only of the Manila Bay area (as envisaged by Orange Plan) or even of all Luzon, but of Luzon and the Visayan


A WARNING FROM THE CHIEF OF STAFF. In this penned memorandum to the War Plans Division General Marshall reported his telephone conversation on 12 December 1941 with Fourth Army Headquarters at San Francisco, warning against a possible attack (which did not come to pass) by a rumored Japanese raiding force. The typewritten transcript, with file number, was made for War Plans Division records.

A WARNING FROM THE CHIEF OF STAFF. In this penned memorandum to the War Plans Division General Marshall reported his telephone conversation on 12 December 1941 with Fourth Army Headquarters at San Francisco, warning against a possible attack (which did not come to pass) by a rumored Japanese raiding force. The typewritten transcript, with file number, was made for War Plans Division records.

A WARNING FROM THE CHIEF OF STAFF. In this penned memorandum to the War Plans Division General Marshall reported his telephone conversation on 12 December 1941 with Fourth Army Headquarters at San Francisco, warning against a possible attack (which did not come to pass) by a rumored Japanese raiding force. The typewritten transcript, with file number, was made for War Plans Division records.

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A REVISION BY THE CHIEF OF STAFF. The alterations by pen, in this draft of a memorandum prepared in WPD, are in General Marshall's script.

A REVISION BY THE CHIEF OF STAFF. The alterations by pen, in this draft of a memorandum prepared in WPD, are in General Marshall's script.


A REVISION BY THE CHIEF OF STAFF. The alterations by pen, in this draft of a memorandum prepared in WPD, are in General Marshall's script.

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CLARIFYING THE INSTRUCTIONS. The handwriting of the original draft of this message to the Southwest Pacific is not identified. The vigorous revisions, in smaller script and blacker ink, are those of General Marshall.

CLARIFYING THE INSTRUCTIONS. The handwriting of the original draft of this message to the Southwest Pacific is not identified. The vigorous revisions, in smaller script and blacker ink, are those of General Marshall.

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Islands as a "homogeneous unit" establishable by blocking the straits leading to its inland seas and thereby leaving those waters free for movement of friendly ships. The blocks were to be effected by mines and coast defense guns supported by the torpedo boats. To effect the blocks the Commonwealth Government would need the grant of materiel from America, to the extent of seven 12-inch guns, twenty-five 155-mm. guns, ammunition, and thirty-two mobile searchlights. General MacArthur requested approval by the Chief of Staff and submission of this project to the Secretary of War and the President.

WPD, examining this letter while already harassed by the endless equipment demands from continental United States, new bases, and British dependencies, immediately questioned the urgency of the Luzon-Visayan project, and also the advantage that this would afford the United States at an early date, comparable to advantages that the same equipment would afford if employed elsewhere in so critical a time. It was suggested that General MacArthur be informed that in any case 12-inch guns would be unavailable before 1943 but that 8-inch railway guns could go forward; that the 155-mm. guns he desired (beyond those previously sought by General Grunert) could not be manufactured before 1942 or supplied from PMP stock without interfering with current plans; that the searchlights would be unavailable before 1942; but primarily that he be asked about the urgency of his project. WPD also suggested that General Grunert be asked for comment.

The replies came together. General Grunert, who reaffirmed the "complete unity of purpose" of the two neighboring establishments, stated his accord with General MacArthur's plan for the archipelago's defense. He too questioned its urgency and observed that for the present his concern was over the defense of Luzon alone, by reason of the lack of munitions, particularly of ammunition about which he had lately received such discouraging information from Washington. General MacArthur's proposed seacoast defense for the inland seas he regarded as "a step in the right direction" and he advised starting available equipment as soon as possible, in the hope that by the time it arrived the other aspects of the situation would be more favorable. At the same time he firmly restated some of his earlier unfavorable judgments on the current state of the Philippine Army. The ground forces might be "50 percent complete in 1941" so far as that pertained to paper organization and personnel for fifteen of the reserve divisions, but these units would not so soon have their required equipment or training: there had been "practically no field training nor target practice"; the air and sea components of the force which General MacArthur contemplated


were "merely in their infancy," with two torpedo boats on hand and a total of forty-two planes.

General MacArthur, in his reply to the Chief of Staff, confessed his own insufficient knowledge of other demands which should enjoy greater priority in the Department's schedule of arms delivery, but observed that the Luzon-Visayan project was imperative to successful defense anyway and merited immediate action in whatever could be afforded: he readily accepted the idea of using 8-inch guns which were ready, rather than waiting for 12-inch guns of a distant future. In accordance with the MacArthur-Grunert judgment and with WPD assurance that neither American needs nor commitments to Britain were impaired thereby, General Marshall recommended to the President (whose own action was necessary for a transfer to the Philippine Government's possession) the grant of the seacoast materiel available. He assured General Grunert that his aid to General MacArthur's large enterprise would not delay delivery of goods to meet the more pressing needs of the U. S. Army's own garrison (General Grunert's) in the Philippines. Shipments began on 3 June.32

Of the development of the Luzon-Visayan enterprise not much more need be said, save that with the larger authority that came to General MacArthur at mid-year, which will shortly be discussed, he pushed the enterprise with energy. That it would lead nowhere, although unforeseeable, proved the fact, for fate allowed insufficient time and materiel, manpower and training. What this impressive plan might have developed in another six months, had the Japanese attack been delayed so long, is a matter for diverting but fruitless speculation. General MacArthur's high optimism over the prospect was revealed at intervals as the work advanced under his direction. From a personal letter from him to General Marshall in late August the Chief of Staff extracted a portion for the President's examination, as follows:

The Philippine Army units that have been called are now [30 August] mobilizing in a most satisfactory manner and the whole program is progressing by leaps and bounds. President Roosevelt's proclamation [mobilizing parts of the Philippine Army for training in the USAFFE] had a momentous effect throughout the Far East. Locally it changed a


feeling of defeatism to the highest state of morale I have ever seen. It was hailed with utmost enthusiasm by all classes . . . .

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. With such backing the development of a completely adequate defense force will be rapid.33

In October, in a letter to The Adjutant General (correcting that unfortunate dignitary for a letter erroneously addressed in the old manner to Commanding General, Philippine Department, instead of Commanding General, U. S. Army Forces in the Far East, as lately ordained) General MacArthur reported:

The Philippine Islands are now being organized into a potential Theater of Operations, with a force of from eleven to thirteen divisions with corresponding Air, Corps and Army troops. The total force will soon be equivalent to an army of approximately 200,000 men. The strategic mission as formerly visualized, of defending merely the entrance to Manila Bay by a citadel type defense with a small token force, should be broadened to include the Defense of the Philippine Islands . . . . The wide scope of enemy operations, especially aviation, now makes imperative the broadening of the concept of Philippine defense, and the strength and composition of the defense forces here are believed to be sufficient to accomplish such a mission. . . 34

The progress made on his inland-seas project was such as to encourage General MacArthur six weeks later to plan an enlarged coastal defense for the Lingayen Gulf area, north of Manila (over which the Japanese invasion ultimately came). His proposal to General Marshall was referred to WPD which in turn called on Ordnance and Coast Artillery for comment upon the USAFFE commander's specific requests for additional heavy guns and other equipment for fighting off enemy transports and supporting naval vessels. Before the necessary data had been accumulated the events of 7 December had ended the need for further study: 35 Regardless of this lack, correction of which unmistakably called for a long period of preparation, General MacArthur's satisfaction with the defense force's advancement to date led him, ten days before Pearl Harbor, to report to the Chief of Staff in such optimistic vein as to bring from General Marshall an expression of gratification: "The Secretary of War and I were highly pleased to receive your report that your command is ready for any eventuality . . . ." 36


General MacArthur Given a New Command

The record available at this time does not reveal the whole chain of circumstances that led in late July 1941 to the return of General MacArthur to the active list of the US Army as commanding general of all U. S. Army forces in the Far East. There is no hint in early 1941 that the Staff, usually well informed, expected such a development. A WPD memorandum of 6 June suggested that "if" he was to be restored to active duty it be only as a successor to General Grunert in the enlarged responsibilities that would come about with mobilization of the new Philippine Army for training under U. S. command: there was no present need, WPD stated (presumably in support of a Chief of Staff wish), for making him Far East commander, as the Army's Far East operations then contemplated were to be solely in the Philippines. Nevertheless, it is to be assumed that General MacArthur himself must have received encouragement from some high authority in Washington, since he wrote a letter on 29 May recommending the creation of a Far East command, with himself as commander. No tangible evidence of who provided any such encouragement is yet found. The 21 May entry in the diary of Secretary Stimson notes that on that day General Marshall said he had already decided to restore General MacArthur to the active list in event of a sufficient emergency; a 20 June confidential letter from General Marshall to General MacArthur says that at a discussion with Mr. Stimson "about three months ago" it was decided that "outstanding qualifications and vast experience in the Philippines" made General MacArthur the logical selection for Far East commander in a crisis: this would date such a decision back to March 1941, but the files reveal no other evidence of such a thing, and while the same letter to General MacArthur makes reference to "your letters to the President and to the Secretary of War" those two documents also remain undiscovered at the time of this volume's preparation. If it was Mr. Roosevelt who initiated the MacArthur appointment the records available at present do not prove it.

It was General Grunert who on 21 May 1941 spontaneously recommended that Commonwealth officials -General MacArthur being particularly in view- be invited to conferences on plans for improving Philippine defenses with funds derived originally from sugar excise taxes and current devaluation.37


It was coincidence that on that same day, 21 May, but before the Grunert message arrived, Secretary Stimson received from Joseph Stevenot, a Manila telephone official, a suggestion of closer contact between General McArthur and General Grunert. Secretary Stimson immediately relayed the suggestion to General Marshall, and on 29 May, in accordance with formal recommendation from WPD, General Marshall approved General Grunert's similar proposal.38  It is interesting to note that General MacArthur already knew that this step would be taken, and also was acquainted with certain connotations that are not apparent in the Marshall-Grunert letter. On 29 May in Manila (a half-day ahead of Washington in time) he addressed to General Marshall what must have been a singularly authoritative letter, for in it he disclosed a fuller foreknowledge of events than General Marshall himself seems to have possessed.39 In reply, three weeks later, the Chief of Staff wrote to General MacArthur the letter previously referred to, and now given in full:

In your letter of May 29th you state that the Philippine Army is to be absorbed by the United States Army in the near future and, consequently, you are closing out your Military Mission. At the present time the War Department plans are not so far reaching. Contingent upon the appropriation of sugar and excise tax funds, Grunert has recommended that about 75,000 troops of the Philippine Army engage in a period of training from three to nine months, in order to prepare them for the defense of the Philippines. While the decision as to the termination of the Military Mission is yours, the War Department plans do not contemplate taking over all responsibilities of your Mission in the near future.

Both the Secretary of War and I are much concerned about the situation in the Far East. During one of our discussions about three months ago it was decided that your outstanding qualifications and vast experience in the Philippines make you the logical selection for the Army Commander in the Far East should the situation approach a crisis. The Secretary has delayed recommending your appointment as he does not feel the time has arrived for such action. However, he has authorized me to tell you that, at the proper time, he will recommend to the President that you be so appointed. It is my impression that the President will approve his recommendation.


This letter is also an acknowledgment of your letters to the President and to the Secretary of War. Please keep its contents confidential for the present. 40

This was written on 20 June, and for several weeks thereafter the correspondence regarding defense of the Philippines continued to be addressed to General Grunert as the responsible authority. This included a letter of 11 July in which General Marshall commented favorably on the Grunert program of expenditures and on his co-operation with General MacArthur. On 12 June General Grunert himself had supported a mobilization of ten Philippine divisions.41  Preparation for the shift of the larger command to General MacArthur, however, was under way, and on 14 July in a summary of steps for augmenting the Philippine defense WPD made note of yet another letter from General MacArthur, dated 7 July, urging once more the creation of a Far East command (rather than merely such a Philippine command as WPD had supported).42 The WPD summary listed also (a) the drafting two days earlier of a bill for appropriating to Philippine defense use the $52,000,000 accruals from sugar excise and currency devaluation funds; (b) the study for summoning the Philippine Commonwealth forces to U. S. active service and temporary allotment of $10,000,000 from the President's Emergency Fund for that purpose; (c) the proposal to send to the Philippines 425 additional Reserve officers (only seventy-five having been sent in response to General Grunert's winter request for 500) ; and, most significantly, (d) a study being prepared that would recommend creating a Far East command and granting it to General MacArthur. By this time, it may be conjectured, some authority higher than WPD had made the corrective decision which, by normal Staff procedure, WPD now was engaged in justifying. Three days later a month-old WPD memorandum was approved by the Chief of Staff; it urged exploitation of the Philippine Army units available and recommended compliance with General Grunert's plan for building up his supplies to support a total defense force of 50,000 men (rather than 31,000) as a war garrison, for a period of six months.43 On the same day, and in obvious compliance with instructions, WPD prepared a new and more considered statement upon the needs of an emergency mobili-


zation of the Philippine Army. It noted that previously it had been impossible to approve General Grunert's April recommendation of a partial mobilization because there were then no funds for the purpose; that the order for mobilization had been prepared for future execution, however, and that it had lately been revised to permit grant of the command to any general designated (namely, General MacArthur) instead of being limited to the commander of the Philippine Department; that through legislation now initiated the necessary money would ultimately come from the excise fund; that until then it might come from the President's Emergency Fund; that accordingly the time now was opportune for mobilizing the Philippine Army, for hastening the 425 necessary training officers overseas, for calling General MacArthur back to active duty, and for bestowing on him the whole Far East command. All these recommendations were approved by General Marshall on 26 July.44 On that same day the Chief of Staff sent to General MacArthur the following message:

Effective this date there is hereby constituted a command designated as the United States Army Forces in the Far East. This command will include the Philippine Department, forces of the Government of the Commonwealth of the Philippines called into the service of the armed forces of the United States for the period of the existing emergency, and such other forces as may be assigned to it. Headquarters United States Army Forces in the Far East will be established in Manila, Philippine Islands. You are hereby designated as Commanding General, United States Army Forces in the Far East. You are also designated as the General Officer United States Army referred to in a Military Order calling into the service of the armed forces of the United States the organized military forces of the government of the Commonwealth of the Philippines dated July 26, 1941 . . . . Report assumption of command by radio.45

A fuller statement of the initial mission of USAFFE, as the new command soon came to be called, was forwarded two days later at the instance of WPD.


It called for present compliance with the Philippine Defense Project of 1940, stated that General Grunert would be able to afford full information on recently ordered reinforcements of the establishment in the Philippines, and added meaningly that, except for the 425 additional Reserve officers in prospect, nothing beyond present commitments could be looked for in the near future.46 Nevertheless, two days later a WPD communication to General Marshall stated that "consideration had been given to the possibility of reinforcing the armament of the Philippines by antitank guns and tanks." Accordingly there was recommendation of sending out fifty half-track 75-mm. guns in September; also a company of light tanks which would be "of great value in meeting hostile attacks against the shores of Luzon"; also a total of 24,000 rounds of 37-mm. antitank ammunition "in view of the possibility of an attack against the Philippine Islands." General Marshall promptly approved.47 The next day dispatch of the 425 Reserve officers was approved, to be followed the next month by orders for 246 additional officers of general and field grade, as now requested by General McArthur (101 Regulars, 145 Reserves); a little later, in response to another request from the USAFFE commander, General Marshall gave assurance that "specialists, individuals and organizations required by you will be supplied promptly when you send details." 48

Factors in the 1941 Change of Attitude

These rapid additions to Philippine defenses, in contrast with the restraints of earlier months, it would seem, came as a surprise to numerous planning officers. That they marked an actual shift of military policy, so considerable as to call for General Marshall's emphasis of it to his immediate Staff, is indicated in General Gerow's office diary notation of 31 July. This recorded a conference in the office of the Chief of Staff that day, attended by himself, the Deputy Chief (General Bryden), and the Chiefs of G-1; (General Haislip) and G-3 (Brig. Gen. H. L. Twaddle), at which General Marshall "stated it was the policy


of the United States to defend the Philippines. This defense will not be permitted to jeopardize the success of the major efforts made in the theater of the Atlantic." 49 If this seems like a mere reiteration of official policy, in that the United States had never formally ceased to regard Philippine defense as its policy, the fact remains that the emphasis was sufficient to impress the remark on the planning chief so strongly as to cause this entry in his diary. It suggests how laggard, in that officer's judgment, the nation had been in implementing its policy. The timing of General Marshall's remark on Philippine defense less than a week after the MacArthur appointment is as significant as is the accompanying caution, even then, against jeopardizing Atlantic defense.

Manifestly, it was a growing recognition of Japanese intentions that provided much of the special stimulus to action in mid-1941, but it is doubtful that to any specific act on Japan's part can the rapidity of the movement be attributed. In contemporary explanations one may note the 12 June declaration of General Grunert that his own recommendation of a 10-division mobilization had its basis in "the tense international situation, the vulnerable location of the Philippine Islands, and relative deficiencies in the U. S. war garrison . . .; the only remedy lay in early reinforcements." General Gerow's testimony in support of the bill for appropriating the sugar excise funds was that "with the outbreak of war between Germany and Russia and the possibility of hostilities extending to the Far East" the War Department had recommended that the Philippine Army be called. General Marshall wrote to General MacArthur that "as a result of the alignment of Japan with the Axis, followed by the outbreak of war between Germany and Russia, the strategic importance of the Philippines was enhanced. Reinforcement, particularly with air units, was indicated, and the assignment of a broader mission than that contained in Rainbow 5 appeared practicable." 50 Japan's "alignment with the Axis" was followed on 22 July 1941 by her establishment of bases in a newly gained zone of Indo-China; these bases would provide a new flanking threat to the Philippines, and while this fact no doubt added to existing American alarms, it did not initiate them. The abortive planning of the ADB conference and its sequels were also a factor in the midyear agitation, but not a measurable one.


Finally, one may reasonably suspect that America's great burst of activity in the Philippines came about not so much from alarms over the new threats as from a sudden awareness that in the newly developed B-17 heavy bomber America at last had a weapon with which the Philippines could actually and effectively and for the first time be armed against such threats. This strategic development had been envisaged early in 1940, when Navy members of the Joint Board proposed increase of air strength in the Philippines and WPD recognized that thereafter "principal reliance would be placed on air power, not only to deter an attack on Luzon but to defeat one if made." 51 Although the great flow of heavy bombers to Manila could not be started then, the policy was well established in 1941 and en route to full implementation. It was summarized late that year in a letter from General Bryden to General MacArthur:

Heretofore, contemplated Army action in the Far East area has been purely of a defensive nature. The augmentation of the Army Air Forces in the Philippines has modified that conception of Army action in this area to include offensive air operations in the furtherance of the strategic defensive combined with the defense of the Philippine Islands as an air and naval base.52

Items in the 1941 Rearming of the Philippines

But the newly available might of the Army Air Force's B-17, potent as it was in the sudden alteration of strategy, seems to have been only one of the factors in Army thinking about the Philippines in the midsummer of 1941. WPD's judgment was set forth in a memorandum concurred in by G3 and G-4 and the Chief of the Army Air Forces. After reciting the augmentations to date of Philippine defense, it listed requirements for the future. These requirements included three categories of material. They were antiaircraft, an infantry division, and (with no emphasis on this item) "modern combat airplanes to replace obsolescent types on hand." In fact much more attention was paid to the need for shipping. It was felt that while the Philippines should receive another regiment of American antiaircraft artillery and another infantry division (both National Guard units which it was hoped the service-extension legislation then


in Congress would make available) this would depend upon the Navy's ability to provide 150,000 tons of shipping.53 (The Chief of Staff's Office disapproved sending the infantry division and added a tank battalion and maintenance company.) The necessity for swift action was briefly summarized:

The present attitude of Japan indicates she may consider reduction of the Philippine Islands a prior requirement to consummation of other plans for expansion. The ability of the Philippine Islands to withstand a determined attack with present means is doubtful. To enhance the probability of holding Luzon and, in any event, giving a reasonable assurance of holding Manila Bay, further prompt reinforcement of the Philippines is essential.

This memorandum is of interest not only as showing what WPD then felt should and could be supplied immediately but as listing the items of aid that had been added since early 1941. They included: increase of the Scouts from 6,415 to authorized strength of 12,000; increase of the 31st US Infantry from 1,107 to 1,653, enlisted strength (this regiment with two Scout regiments made up the "Philippine Division, USA"); increase of harbor defense troops by 1,500; provision of an aircraft warning service company of 200, plus two SCR-270 radio sets with an SCR-271 to go out in September; provision of thirty-one P-40B planes, with fifty later-model pursuits, the P-40E, to be shipped in September, and a squadron of the new bombers, nine B-17D's, to be flown out in September; starting of airfield improvements (many would be needed to maintain the airline of communications to distant Pacific islands); bombs and ammunition; summoning the Philippine Army; the first legislative steps toward providing $52,000,000 from the excise fund referred to; scheduling of a tank battalion and fifty-four M-4 tanks to sail in September; scheduling of fifty 75-mm. antitank guns in September; and initiation of the shipment of eighteen 37-mm. antiaircraft guns with 36,000 rounds of ammunition.

Whether by War Department design, as then urged by WPD, or as a result of new pressure from outside the Army for additional aid to the distant islands, General Marshall made additional allotments within a month. An informal memorandum in mid-September to the Chief of Naval Operations (who had asked what the Army was doing for the Philippines) brought the following schedule of recent and prospective aid:

26 August; part of the antiaircraft regiment had sailed from San Francisco.
8 September; remainder of the regiment had sailed, plus a battalion of fifty tanks, plus the fifty P-40E pursuit planes.


18 September; fifty self-propelled mounts for 75-mm. cannon would be shipped from San Francisco; also fifty more tanks.
"Today" (12 September); the nine B-17's, whose September departure had been promised, landed in Manila after their Midway-Wake-New Britain-Indies Flight.
30 September; two more squadrons of B-17's would leave San Francisco en route to the Philippines.
October; a reserve shipment of pursuit planes would begin moving, probably thirty-two of them in October, a total of 130 additions by December.
November; there would be dispatched a reserve of six to nine B-24 planes ("super Flying Fortresses" General Marshall enthusiastically called them, although later the term "Superfortress" was applied rather to the B-29).
December; some thirty-five more B-17's, plus fifty-four dive bombers, plus two additional squadrons to build up the pursuit group, would be dispatched 54

Four days later WPD recommended the shipment of the 192d Tank Battalion then on maneuvers (this fulfilled the 14 August recommendation), to sail on about 1 November; this was approved, and in another week assurance went to General MacArthur that equipment for his forces was already enjoying the highest priority. It was estimated that, save for ammunition, his defensive reserves for 50,000 men would be substantially in hand by February 1942. Significantly, the full supply of ammunition could not be promised before September 1942.55  The lamentable delay in its delivery was beyond cure, so immense was the drain at that time upon arsenals only just coming into production. But priority in troop transportation now became threatened by current Navy plans to convert the transports West Point, Wakefield, and Mount Vernon to aircraft carriers, and against that conversion plan General Marshall made protest to Admiral Stark. With the three vessels, he explained, much-needed reinforcements could reach Manila by 10 December; without them the troops would arrive in late February, a difference of seventy days. The memorandum proceeded:

Knowing that you are as much interested as I in speeding up the Philippine threat to Japanese shipping, and the vast importance of this threat becoming clearly apparent to the Japanese in the next few weeks, I am sure you will appreciate our situation.56


In September 1941 it can be seen that there was still no adequate realization in the War Department of how rapidly time was running out. Hence the 10 December arrival was thought of as important in the planning. At the very end of September there was a recital of planning that aimed partly at the immediate future, but also at an augmentation running to October 1942 and of course fated never to be attained. This was in the form of an extended radiogram to General MacArthur giving him instructions that justified his expansive title as Far East commander. In this message he was advised of the War Department's plan to integrate the defense of the Philippines, Australia, the Dutch East Indies, and Singapore through improvement of operating fields throughout the area and their supply with fuel, bombs, and ammunition. General MacArthur was asked to obtain from the British in the Far East permission for America's heavy bombardment and reconnaissance planes to make use of British facilities at Singapore, Port Darwin, Rabaul, and Port Moresby and emergency fields; to urge on the British creation of a new airfield in North Borneo; and to negotiate with the Dutch with regard to their facilities. In expectation of this permission being granted he was advised to place some of his own stocks at these bases. For his own purposes he was informed, in this same message, of the prospective sailing within the week of a supply of 3,500 500-pound bombs and of the personnel of the 19th Bombardment Group; of the departure of fifty pursuits and fifty-two dive bombers in November-December, of the arrival of thirty-five B-24's before January, and of thirty-five B-17's about 1 January. In sum, this would provide him a total of

. . . 136 operating heavy bombers and 34 additional in reserve, 57 operating dive bombers and 29 additional in reserve, 130 operating pursuits with 65 additional in reserve. One additional pursuit group is under consideration. This augmentation to be commenced about April 1942 and to he completed about October 1942.57

That these planes did not arrive before the outbreak of war was another item in the succession of tragic events that marked late 1941; had they reached Luzon and escaped the initial Japanese raids, their usefulness in harassing the enemy's invasion fleets could have been a temporarily decisive factor, even though the accuracy of aerial bombing should fall far below optimistic expectations. But, as if the difficulties of airplane production and manpower training were not enough, once some of the new airplanes and crews were ready and en route, bad fortune


dogged their trans-Pacific delivery. A November shipment of B-17 bombers was delayed in California for days by a series of unseasonable and hence unpredicted headwinds, so that they unluckily finished the California-Hawaii leg of their scheduled journey just in time to run into the Pearl Harbor raiders. A group of dive bombers fared little better. General Marshall had ordered this newly equipped and manned group to leave the Louisiana maneuvers and hurry toward the Philippines. They reached Hawaii intact but there, unknown to the Army, the Navy's convoy authorities split the group in two, sending the personnel by fast ship direct to Manila, in order to afford maximum protection, and sending the planes by the slower freight-route through the South Pacific. The Army's first knowledge of this arrangement came after Pearl Harbor when word came that the plane element was aboard a ship diverted for safety's sake to Australia. On arrival at Sidney the planes were hastily uncrated under the trying conditions prevalent at a crowded port with insufficient trained personnel. In assembling the planes the ground crew could find no trace of the solenoids necessary for firing the wing guns, and too late it was discovered that the instruments had originally been fastened to the planes' crating and apparently had been thrown away with that "useless" lumber. By the time new solenoids had been received from the United States, Japan had captured Borneo and, with it, the landing fields without which the short-range dive bombers could not hope to make the transit from Australia to Luzon. By this pair of mishaps General MacArthur failed to get the two vitally needed shipments of heavy bombers and dive bombers.58

The specialists whose assignment had been promised to General MacArthur as soon as he should send specifications were approved in 10 October, by which time they were found to include a full infantry regiment and a field artillery brigade as well as medical, chemical, signal, and other service units.59  A plea for tankers was less successful, the joint Control Committee (on employment of shipping) informing the Army that there already were ample tankers in the Far East, and that only a small cargo vessel was needed, which would be supplied. The report to this effect General Marshall referred to G-4 with instructions to "put pressure on the second paragraph" and to keep him informed as to the certainty of General MacArthur's access to tanker requirements.60


A Hopeful View of Philippine Defenses

The fact that these considerable additions were already on the way to the Philippine defense establishment did much to improve WPD confidence in the Far East situation. The planners' newly optimistic viewpoint was expressed in some detail on 8 October in a communication addressed directly to Mr. Stimson. It presented a study of the strategic situation in the Philippine area, holding that Japan's known aspirations in the Siberian maritime provinces, China, and Malaya were being retarded by Russia's unexpected resistance to Germany, by China's resistance to Japan, by the economic embargoes, and by Japanese uncertainty of a new war's outcome. It stressed the need of keeping Japan nonbelligerent so as to permit the concentration of Allied resources against Germany, and hence recommended not only a continuation of existing deterrents to Japanese aggression but the provision of strong air forces to provide offensive powers that should be clearly visible to the Japanese for purposes of intimidation. In such an enterprise the Philippines were an important part, and the steps to increase their strength and to integrate it with that of the anti-Axis nations in the Far East were enumerated. The study concluded:

Consideration of Japan's forces and her capabilities leads to the conclusion that the [American] air and ground units now available or scheduled for dispatch to the Philippine Islands in the immediate future have changed the entire picture in the Asiatic Area. The action taken by the War Department may well be the determining factor in Japan's eventual decision and, consequently, have a vital bearing on the course of the war as a whole.61

That this was Departmental doctrine is proved by General Marshall's inclosure of the study with a letter to General MacArthur ten days later, identifying it as "an indication of present War Department thought on this subject." This was a step toward explaining to the USAFFE command a prospective change in Rainbow 5 concepts. That plan had originally contemplated defense only of the approaches to Manila Bay and, thus limited, had not proposed wartime reinforcements from the United States. The Tripartite pact and the German-Russian war, however, called for acceptance of a broader mission of which the current reinforcements, particularly in air units, were an earnest: the revision of the operations plan for Rainbow 5 (which General MacArthur had asked for on 1 October) probably would be effected by the joint Board in ten days. Most


vitally, as specifically requested by General MacArthur, the new aim was to defend, not Manila Bay alone but the whole Philippine archipelago-afar more prolonged task calling for much more equipment including ammunition. In proportion to this national objective the enlarged Army missions now would be:

a. In co-operation with the Navy, defend this significantly enlarged Philippine Coastal Frontier which now was placed in the category of Defense E (i.e. in all probability subject to major attack).
b. Support the Navy in raiding Japanese sea communications and destroying Axis forces.
c. Conduct air raids against Japanese forces and installations within tactical operating radius of available bases.
d. Co-operate with the Associated Powers in defense of the territories of these powers in accordance with approved policies and agreements 62

In his letter General Marshall repeated his assurance that reinforcements were being forwarded with all possible speed. Tanks and field artillery were moving well. The lag in ammunition was again so disturbing to planning authorities, however, that WPD reported warningly on 31  October that General MacArthur's 10-day defense needs in .50-caliber ammunition were admittedly less than one-third met; the 20-day defense needs in 3-inch antiaircraft ammunition were less than one-seventh met.63 " The garrison has not reached the effective strength desired by General MacArthur." To cover what he thought of as the publicity needs of the occasion, with Japanese readers as well as American readers in mind, the Secretary of War provided Secretary of State Hull with the text of a purposely brief but suggestive press announcement: "As a routine strengthening of our Island outposts we are replacing obsolescent aircraft in the Philippines with modern combat planes." 64

Swift Developments of November 1941

The recurring uneasiness of WPD, suggested by the memoranda of late October and early November, reflected greatly increased uneasiness elsewhere.


The prolonged discussions of Secretary of State Hull and Ambassador Kichisaburo Nomura, who was professedly seeking a formula for peace although the Japanese plans for the Pearl Harbor raid now were well advanced, continued to accomplish nothing; rather they marked the two nations' approach to complete disagreement. On 3 November Joseph C. Grew, U. S. Ambassador in Tokyo, warned the State Department against any delusion that economic weakening of Japan would hasten a collapse of Japanese military spirit; he specifically warned that it would be short-sighted for American policymakers to regard Japan's known war preparations as mere saber-rattling.65 On 7 November Mr. Hull informed the Cabinet meeting that there was "imminent possibility" of Japan's setting out on new military conquest, and the Cabinet soberly discussed the advisability of speeches which would prepare the American public for tragic events which might come to pass. On Armistice Day, therefore, Secretary of the Navy Knox in a formal address referred to "grim possibilities" in the Pacific as well as in the Atlantic, and Assistant Secretary of State Welles to waves of world conquest "breaking high both in the East and in the West" and threatening to "engulf our own shores," the United States being in greater danger than in 1917, with the possibility that "at any moment war may be forced upon us." So acute were premonitions of trouble that on 17 November Mr. Grew cabled a warning for vigilance against sudden Japanese attack in regions not then involved in the China war.

The effect of this, properly and accurately enough, was to quicken Army apprehensions with regard to the Philippines. Unfortunately it served also to lessen, relatively, the worry over Hawaii. Thus on 10 November at a conference with G-3, G-4, Quartermaster, Navy, and Maritime Commission representatives the WPD spokesman announced that "Philippine movement should have priority over movements to Hawaii, and that the Hawaiian movements would be deferred accordingly." Troop movements to the Philippines that had been scheduled for January would be moved up to December, and shipments in general for that area were to be expedited in every possible way.66 Ten pack howitzers with ammunition, then thought excess to Panama Canal needs, were ordered shipped to the Philippines. A few days later WPD recommended, and General Moore immediately approved, the withdrawing of 130 antitank 75's


from nontask forces in the United States in favor of the Philippines and the immediate shipment of forty-eight 75's from Hawaii to the Philippines for later replacement; shipment (with Hawaii's approval) of 123 more .30-caliber machine guns from Hawaii to the Philippines; forwarding even of a small lot of 1916-model 37-mm. guns.67 Two days later G3 recommended and General Bryden approved the release of 3,564 officers and men of signal and ordnance companies from army maneuvers in the United States so that they could be ordered to the Philippines.68 On 25 November WPD got General Moore's approval for sending out 5,000 mustard gas shells, five tons of toxic smoke equipment, one hundred flame throwers, and 15,000 land mines, all from the Chemical Warfare stores. Two days later even the removal of task force reserve ammunition was approved in order to supply 37-mm. ammunition to the Philippines and, this time, to Alaska also.69 By 28 November WPD was called on for another statement of troops and materiel which were in or en route to the Philippines. Because it is the last such computation made before Pearl Harbor, it is of interest to note that by this computation there then were 29,000 U. S. troops in the islands, with 2,700 more en route, plus 80,000 Philippine troops if one includes the ten divisions expected on 15 December. (Table 3.) This total of 111,700 was far from the total force of 200,000 which General MacArthur had cheerfully looked forward to on 1 October and estimated as sufficient for defense needs. Scheduled to sail in the first week of December were 19,000 more, who of course were turned back en route when the blow fell on Pearl Harbor. As to airplanes, this final summary reports eighty-one P-40E's on hand and sixty-four en route in time to arrive before 7 December; fifty-two A-24 dive bombers en route; thirty-five 4-engine bombers on hand. (Table 4.) As to ground force materiel reinforcement, equipment of one regiment of antiaircraft artillery was on hand, 109 tanks and fifty self-propelled mounts for 75-mm. guns were on hand; forty 105-mm. howitzers were en route, likewise forty-eight 75-mm. guns in one lot and 130 in two other lots scheduled too late to arrive by 7 December.70



Unit Total Officers Enlisted
Total American Philippine Scouts
All units 31,095 a 2,504 28,591 16,634 11,957
Headquarters units 671 367 304 304 0
Philippine Division 10,233 517 9,716 1,807 7,909
Other field units 5,070 280 4,790 2,813 1,977
Harbor Defense 5,225 335 4,890 3,318 1,572
Air Corps b 5,609 669 4,940 4,940 0
Service detachment 4,268 317 3,951 3,452 499
Other c 19 19 0 0 0

a Includes 31 Philippine Scout officers.
b According to W. F. Craven and J. L. Cate, The Army Air Forces in World War II (University of Chicago Press, 1948), I, 170, Air Corps strength on 7 December 1941 was 754 officers, 6,706 men.
c Includes officers for whom no unit is indicated.

Source: Philippine Department, MRU Report of Station Strength, Officers and Enlisted Men, November 1941. AGO records, SAB files. Note that these figures do not correspond exactly with the round numbers employed by WPD.


Type Number
8 December 9 December
Total 194 120 84
B-17 35 30 17
P-40 107 72 b 52
P-35 52 18 15

a Represents number on hand at 1200 (Philippine time) each day. Does not include data for 39 obsolescent bombers and 16 fighters assigned to the Far East Air Force as of 8 December 1941.
b Includes an unknown number of P-40's that were not operational; 55 were reported destroyed in the air or on the ground.

Sources History of the Fifth Air Force (and its Predecessors). Part I, Air Historical Office, pp. 9-10: The Army Air Forces in World War II, I, 192 and 213; Memo, Gerow for CofS, Nov 41, sub: Airplanes in Phil Is, Icl 1, 19 Nov 41, WPD 3633-20. Note variation from WPD estimate of 28 November.


The extent to which reinforcements had lately gone to the Philippines, plus the deceptive confidence that what was en route would also be installed soon and in operating order, appear at last to have built up in the mind of the Chief of Staff, among others, a larger faith in the Luzon defenses than was warranted. There was a significant expression of this on 26 November at a Staff conference in his office, with General Gerow, General Arnold, Colonel Bundy, and Colonel Handy of WPD present. The notes of the conference record the Chief of Staff as reporting that the President and Mr. Hull felt the Japanese were dissatisfied with the current conferences and "will soon cut loose." The notes proceed:

While both the President and Mr. Hull anticipate a possible assault on the Philippines, General Marshall said he did not see this as a probability because the hazards would be too great for the Japanese . . . . We know a great deal that the Japanese are not aware we know, and we are familiar with their plans to a certain extent . . . . We are not justified in ignoring any Japanese convoy that might be a threat to our interests. Thus far we have talked in terms of the defense of the Philippines, but now the question is what we do beyond that.71

At this conference General Gerow said the Japanese probably would not go into Siberia, but most likely into Thailand (a view then prevalent in the Staff), raising a question of American action after the Japanese had passed the agreed upon limit of 100 E-10 N. He also raised a question of immediate instructions for General MacArthur, and was advised that prior to actual hostilities 72 General MacArthur should, in cooperation with the Navy, take such reconnaissance and other measures as he felt necessary. This message was to be discussed later with the Navy. (It actually was sent on 27 November.)

Already, as previously noted, the scope of General MacArthur's control was in debate. He had taken over General Grunert's departmental duties in late October, but the WPD recommendation that (in view of the growing might of Army air power in that area) he also be granted over-all command of Navy elements in the Far East had not got beyond General Marshall.73 General MacArthur ventured the opinion that the Navy was seeking "control" of the Army's


air forces- this interpretation stemming from a contention (apparently by Admiral Thomas C. Hart, commanding the U. S. Asiatic Fleet) that tactical command by the Navy was necessary when aircraft attacks on vessels were made in areas where Navy ships were operating. The Navy proposal, which would have placed Army air elements under Navy control in this respect, was forwarded to Washington with General MacArthur's declaration that it was "entirely objectionable." The commander of USAFFE reiterated that his own portion of the prescribed mission involving support of the Navy would be carried out with all possible energy, but that cooperation would be best found in leaving elements under their normal commands, with a mere co-ordination of their assignments. WPD supported General MacArthur, added that "when unity of command over specific operations is desirable, arrangements may be made by agreement between General MacArthur and the appropriate Naval commander," and recommended that the Navy be informed of the War Department's views.74 This was on 18 November, and the difficulty of reaching an agreement between Army and Navy chiefs on this issue is suggested by the fact that General Marshall did not provide formal approval of the recommendations until 5 December, when apparently General MacArthur had radioed his views on the matter and directly asked for instructions. In the meantime the MacArthur-Hart controversy had been getting too lively, involving a letter which Admiral Stark brought to Army attention. General Marshall felt called upon to inform General MacArthur as follows:

I was disturbed to receive your note of November 7th transmitting correspondence between Hart and yourself. I was more disturbed when Stark sent over to me your letter to him of October 18th. However, your cable of November 28th stating "intimate liaison and cooperation and cordial relations exist between Army and Navy" was reassuring . . . .75

The following week (in answer to another inquiry) General MacArthur was assured that there were

. . . no commitments made here that conflict with your proposed method of cooperation with the Navy. Gratified that you and Admiral Hart are entirely in accord on most effective employment of our combined forces in the Far East. It is intended that Army air units would be placed under Navy unity of command for specific tasks of tem-


porary and definitely naval character. Army unity of command for specific tasks would be established for similar reasons . . . .76

The 5 December letter was simply a fuller explanation of the continuing view that "coordination shall be effected by the method of mutual cooperation." It mentioned as an illustration the possible necessity of detaching Army air units from the Philippines to operate from Singapore in support of a naval operation, in which case the air units would operate under command exercised by the Asiatic Fleet commander.77 All this provided a smarting example of interservice difficulties of the sort that would arise on and after 7 December. For the immediate present matters in the Far East appeared to be under control, as indicated by General MacArthur's 28 November message to which General Marshall had referred

Pursuant to instructions contained in your radio 624, air reconnaissance has been extended and intensified in conjunction with the Navy. Ground security measures have been taken. Within the limitations imposed by present state of development of this theater of operations, everything is in readiness for the conduct of a successful defense. Immediate liaison and cooperation and cordial relations exist between Army and Navy.78

This message was primarily in response to the 27 November warning from the Chief of Staff, already mentioned,79  which stated that negotiations with Japan appeared to be terminated and that while Japan's future action was unpredictable, hostile action was "possible at any moment." It directed General MacArthur to "take such reconnaissance and other measures as you deem necessary" and to report measures he was taking. This General MacArthur's reply did.


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