April 1942 (1)

As the Japanes invaded, they took over the newspapers and portrayed themselves as peaceful liberators.

As the Japanes invaded, they took over the newspapers and portrayed themselves as peaceful liberators.

1 April – Japanese forces made two more landings on New Guinea, one at Hollandia in the north and Sorong on the west.  / Buka Island, in the Solomons, went into enemy hands.  /  In the Indian Ocean, the Japanese carrier Ryuji led a naval raiding party against Allied shipping along the Orissa coast for 10 days and sank 24 merchant vessels as the Japanese Blitz continued to rage on.

Andaman Island area

Andaman Island area

2 April, the entire territory of Western Burma went under Japanese control as their 15th Army pushed the Allied Burma Army backwards.  The US Army Air Force B-17 “Flying Fortress” bombers attacked the enemy around the Andaman Islands.

As Army Chaplains held communion services on Good Friday, the enemy bombed the center of the American lines on Bataan so heavily that the jungle went ablaze.  The G.I.s were forced to escape the black smoke as the Japanese went through the 3-mile gap of the defenses.  The next day, the enemy planted their flag on top of Mount Samat, the highest point of the Mariveles Mountains.  The Japanese 4th Division bombed for 5 hours before the onset of 2 days of heavy combat.

Mount Samat, (on left), 1942

Mount Samat, (on left), 1942

MacArthur radioed in his orders for a counteroffensive and Wainwright relayed this order to MGeneral Edward King on the peninsula, but King knew it was an impossible task.  A Navy doctor on-board a boat headed for Corregidor described the scene: “The air was filled with smoke and flying debris, the din was terrific and horrifying.  A gasoline dump was dynamited which intensified the blast which hurled rock, boulders and human fragments all over the area and into the sea, sinking smaller boats in the harbor and injuring the occupants…”

Mitsubushi - Ki 30s over Bataan front line

Mitsubushi – Ki 30s over Bataan front line

8 April – the troops on Bataan were ordered to destroy their equipment and prepare to surrender.  King signaled Corregidor, “We have no further means of organized resistance.”  Wainwright refused the idea of surrender.

9 April – King ordered the flags of truce to be raised at 0600 hours, he saw no other alternative to save the lives of the men that remained.  The news arrived at the ‘Rock’ too late to be refused.  When Gen. King laid his pistol on the table at the Japanese headquarters, he compared it to Gen. Lee’s shame at Appomatox on the same day of 1865.  MacArthur said at a press conference, “No army has done so much with so little and nothing became of it more than its last hours of trial and agony.”

POWs

POWs

Gen. Homma’s HQ had estimated about 25,000 POWs would need to be transported, but now they were faced with 78,000 American and Filipino troops.  The enemy logistics broke down and 9 April would begin the trek, for men already ill and malnourished, of 65 miles (104 km) long.  One in three would die along the way.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – camo

law-order-girlfriend-mistress-girl_in_every_port-ports-sailors-dpan3387l

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Anthony Bonvetti Sr. – Wilmington, DE; US Army, WWII

William Dubois – New Castle, CO; US Air Force, Capt., Operation Inherent Resolve, 77th Fighter Squadron, F-16 pilot

Louis Forni – Geneva, IL; US Army, WWII, ETO,  3rd Division21 guns

Oval Goad – Alexandria, KY; US Army, WWII & Korea

Sol Hofkins (100) – Golden Lakes Village, FL; USA, WWII, PTO

Brian Mall – Auckland, NZ; RA Army # 2400794, K Force, Lance Cpl.

James McGrath Jr. – US & CAN; US Navy & CAN. Reserves, WWII

Robert Pratt – Lake Worth, FL; US Army, Korea

Angelo Zampieri – Dover, NH; US Navy, WWII / US Air Force, Korea

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About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on December 4, 2014, in WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 84 Comments.

  1. Your posts do bring to the fore, the hellish insanity and situations occurring throughout the South Pacific in those warfare days.
    Love the camourflage cartoon gp.
    Wishing you a great Christmas mate.
    Cheers
    Ian aka Emu

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  2. Great post. Thank you for sharing. And many thanks for visiting my blog, I’m grateful. Peace & light, jules

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  3. blimp warfare
    one of those scary ways to die.

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  4. What a powerful summary of this humiliating defeat…one in three did not survive the march is such a devastating statistic but I’m sure the first hand accounts will turn it painfully into more than a statistic.

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    • I’ve done my best to keep the worse descriptions out of the stories. Despite my always saying history should be remembered, no matter what, we DO have younger readers and some who do not have the stomach for such atrocities. Nevertheless, I hope what I included gives an idea of the truth.

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  5. The newspaper front page is sickening, knowing what comes next. But you are right to highlight the logistics problems facing the Japanese, quite a bit of the disastrous treatment of prisoners arises from the total unpreparedness for the numbers involved.

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    • It also came from the Japanese soldiers’ training, since no surrender was in their vocabulary at the time, they looked down on the G.I. for throwing his hands up -he was trash.

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  6. Most folks know about the Pearl Harbor attack, but I suspect only those interested in WW2 history know that Pearl Harbor was not the only American territory attacked that day. Because of the international dateline, It was already Dec. 8 when the Japanese attacked Manila, then a U.S. colony with thousands of Americans.

    My Manila high school friend, whose parents were living in Manila then, has written an account of the bombing and fall of Manila using many first hand accounts and many photos. You can read it at his Manila Nostalgia blog:

    http://www.lougopal.com/manila/?p=2573

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  7. You can send the desperation in the report. I suspect the eye witness accounts will not be pleasant.

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  8. Jackie Saulmon Ramirez

    I keep thinking about that John Wayne movie, Back to Bataan. Good post. 🙂

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  9. Another excellent write…. and I certainly didn’t see those camo guys coming. 😀

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  10. The first image of the newspaper is wonderful to get to see again. Not that war is wonderful, just to see history all over again.

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    • Yes, it is, I understand what you were saying. I often go into the Trove, Australian newspaper archives (much easier to deal with that the US archives) for that sort of info – what they were saying at the time – not what we see now.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Were you in the 11th Airborne? That was the unit that led the raid on the Los Banos internment camp, which freed some 2,000 American and other Allied civilians. Many of my friends’ parents or relatives were in that camp (or Santo Tomas). I have the book about that raid…Angels At Dawn.

    (My father was in the Army Air Corps and served in the Pacific, including the Philippines, where I was born and raised.)

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    • How wonderful that you found this site, Spencer! I’m afraid it was my father who was the paratrooper, I am a member of the 11th A/B Association. I would love to hear more about your father if you care to share it with us. If you have a post(s) for your father, please leave a link. I am hoping the readers will all accept this site as a place for them and their relatives to be Remembered!! We have a wonderful bunch of people viewing here – you will fit right in.

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      • My father was not a paratrooper. He was in Logistics / Supply, so he didn’t see any front line action.

        He ended the war at Clark Air Force base. Met my mother at a liberation fiesta in Dagupan, on Lingayen Gulf. That is where first the Japanese and then the Americans landed on Luzon. After the war, he stayed in the Philippines, married my mother and went into business with her family.

        After the Japanese invaded,her family hid a truck behind a false wall in one of the barns on their rice plantation. Her family was Spanish and since Spain was neutral during the war the Japanese pretty much left them alone. When the war ended, the military decided to contract out the movement of ammo, equipment, etc. to ports such as Subic and Manila for return to the US. That allowed more troops to go home and also pumped money into the local economy to revive it.

        Since my father was a Major in Logistics / Supply, he knew all the procurement officers doing the contracting for the Army Air Corps. That and the fact there was a scarcity of non-military working trucks immediately after the war pretty much ensured that he was awarded contracts.

        He passed away some years ago and is in Arlington. The ceremony is quite impressive, which you may know if your father is there.

        A movie was made about the ranger raid on Cabanatuan, which free mostly military POWs. Don’t know why there was no movie on Los Banos. That was quite an operation, involving a dawn drop with ground support from Filipino guerillas which achieved complete surprise. The evacuation of the raiders and civilians was by amphibious amtracs across Laguna Bay to US lines on the other side. The book said that it is considered the textbook paradigm for combined air and land assault. There were no American losses.

        Have you ever been to the PI? Regularly, a woman named Sascha who was freed from Santo Tomas has been leading a “war’ tour to the PI. She was interviewed on Ken Burns’ Pacific War documentary. There’s a tour next month. She belongs to a group whose website is http://www.bacepow.net. Info on the next tour is on the “reunions” page.

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        • I thank you very much for sharing your father’s story, combat or no, every job is an important part of a massive chain; without the support men behind the line – where would the soldier be? I don’t have a clue why there is no movie about Los Banos, except it was the Army and not the glamorous Marines. Have you ever notified the 11th Airborne Association’s newspaper, “Voice of the Angels” about your father’s passing? I could do that for you if you leave me his name, company, regiment and date of passing. Plus he will be added to my Farewell Salutes. Once again, Spencer, thank you for the story and for contacting this site – I hope you’ll continue to return.

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  12. Controlling the media–great way to get only your side out to the masses. USSR did that quite effectively in their heyday.

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    • FDR had the say so on newspapers, movies and radio – sort of sounds like the way I described Japan , eh? That helps to explain why FDR was often portrayed in political cartoons as a king or emperor.

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  13. Have you read ‘The War Journal of Major Damon Gause’ ? It’s a first hand account of his escape from Bataan and journey to Australia. Very well written book which I believe was discovered by the author’s son and published after his death.

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    • No, I have not read that one, Peter, but it does sound very interesting. Our next post will be about a different escapee, though. I hope you’ll come by to see.

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  14. I’m enjoying your blog about WWII. My husband’s father was a fighter pilot over the South Pacific in WWII. They don’t call them the ‘Greatest Generation’ for nothing.

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    • Isn’t that the truth, Kate. The more I learn – the more amazed I become. If you have any information on your father-in-law, feel free to share his story here in the comments – all are welcome!! If you have a post(s) for him, please leave a link to it here. Thanks for visiting.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you! My husband, no doubt, has stories I might share.

        When my father- and mother-in-law passed on, the letters he wrote to my mother-in-law came to us. I read through all of them, and in the reading gained a wonderful understanding of the young, war-time couple they were. My father-in-law was so young when he went to war, and yet he was so much older in terms of his wisdom and sense of responsibility.

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        • That generation was forced to mature early, they rarely were the recipients of any ‘baby-coddling’ or over-indulgence. They were a “roll-up-them-sleeves-and get-the-job-done! kind of people. You are very lucky to have those letters, Kate – a part of history at your fingertips.

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          • Funny thing… my father-in-law had four sons… and I’m the only one who wanted the letters or who wanted to read them. I keep them in a safe location… hoping the next generation will treasure them. Personal histories are so important.

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            • Unbelievable how some people just want the past to go away – but it doesn’t – it keeps coming back and we need to be ready for it. It is a very good thing that you have saved the letters from destruction, there are many who will wish to read them.

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  15. Stories such as the one told by the doctor will be forever lost unless folks like you tell us of them. Still, such words fall very short of describing the fear each military man – on either side – encountered in combat, I feel. Can you imagine the terror and fear of being thrust into hand to hand combat where it is only time before odds take over? I cannot – only possibly read about them. Thanks for the post…and I’ve not seen that photo of the Ki-30’s before.

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    • Thank you for reading and sharing your feelings with us, Koji. Going into hand-to-hand has to be traumatizing enough without the starvation, disease and exhaustion to make it 100x worse. To top it off, they had known by now that FDR was NOT sending any help – they had nothing – hence the song ‘The Battling Bastards of Bataan!’

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Powerful story of a very dark time in American history. Fifteen generals captured. Can you imagine that happening today?

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    • I know for one thing – the American public could not comprehend it. Traumatized would be a better term. The Philippines was a cushy post before the war, MacArthur was actually retired military and training the country to have their own army, sort of. With our budget-cuts of today, 15 generals would create a severe ‘melt-down of our brass.’ (OH, that pun was awful 😳 )

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  17. The loss of Burma meant the loss of the Burma Road and the ability to supply the Chinese. It marked the beginning of efforts to resupply China by air, which involved Peggy’s dad as a Hump Pilot. –Curt

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  18. I believe MacArthur did a disservice to Major General Edward King by saying “. . . nothing became of it more than its last hours of trial and agony.” King’s forces tied down Homma’s troops in the Philippines and, perhaps, delayed and reduced Japanese forces available for the invasion of New Guinea and other areas. I once knew a survivor of Bataan. He died in his 90s still convinced that MacArthur had abandoned them and that their effort had not amounted to much. I don’t think he was right.

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    • MacArthur had many faults, but abandoning his men in the P.I. was not one of them (hence his obsession to return to the islands and liberate them). I know of many who feel that way and to them it had to appear so, but FDR didn’t dare lose the general his public loved and MacArthur was first and foremost a soldier who obeyed his orders.
      [off topic – I always believed (IMO), that the obeying of orders here in the P.I. is why he dared to go up against Truman in Korea – he had had it with obeying orders from non-military personnel who did not understand military tactics. Your opinion?]

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      • If you look back at my comment, you will note that I did not say that MacArthur abandoned his men in the Philippines. I said “I once knew a survivor of Bataan. He died in his 90s still convinced that MacArthur had abandoned them and that their effort had not amounted to much.” As I said in my comment, “I don’t think he [the survivor of Bataan] was right.”

        MacArthur was first and foremost a strategist. He understood geography. After the Japanese were stopped in the Solomons and other islands to the east of New Guinea, MacArthur moved to eliminate their control of the north coast of New Guinea by capturing strategic points and bypassing others. Those that were bypassed, he starved out by interdicting their lines of supply. As the Allied forces moved west along the north coast of New Guinea, they established airbases from which they could attack Japanese shipping moving oil, rubber, ore, food, etc. from the Netherlands East Indies to Japan. Remember, the Netherlands East Indies were vital as a source of oil for Japan.

        With the north coast of New Guinea under control, the Philippines were now open for invasion. The Philippines, too, were a source of food and raw materials for Japan. From the Philippines, the South China Sea could be controlled and almost all supplies from the Netherlands East Indies were eventually choked off as well as those coming from Indochina. Some see MacArthur as obsessed with liberating the Philippines, but I see that as a public relations ploy. Few would disagree that MacArthur understood public relations. I see MacArthur’s strategy with regard to the Philippines as a strategic move to choke off food, oil and strategic war materials from Japan. Once we controlled the Philippines, the Japanese were limited to what they could secure from Japanese occupied areas of China, from Korea, and from Manchuria. Unlike the United States, Japan is a resource poor country.

        As for MacArthur’s relations with Truman, I don’t have an opinion. I would suspect, though, that MacArthur’s political ambitions colored them. Many have forgotten that MacArthur sought the Republican nomination for President in 1944. With Republican control of the House and Senate after World War II, MacArthur enjoyed political support from his party. I can only guess how that may have affected his relationship with the President. Whatever that relationship was will continued to be argued far past my lifetime just as McClellan’s relationship with Lincoln still continues to be a topic of interest to some.

        Discussion of MacArthur and his relationship with Truman, in my opinion, only serves to diminish the recognition of the strategic moves of the Allies in the South Pacific to cut the Japanese off from the supplies they needed to prosecute the war they had commenced in 1937 and expanded in late 1941. MacArthur led the effort, but its strategic vision I am sure was not without the input of our Australian and New Zealand allies who also supported the effort with men and material. MacArthur was a significant leader, but we must also always acknowledge achievements of others.

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        • Yes, I know it was not you saying MacArthur abandoned his men, I’ve been up against veterans like the one you met before and it usually is useless to try to change their mind;(maybe that hatred kept them alive at some point.) My father heard MacArthur speak many times (being on Gen. Swing’s staff), and he said the general knew the Oriental culture and way of thinking inside out from living there for so long, and by listening to him, dad learned not only how to stay alive, but how to empathize with the Japanese. (hating the enemy and running rampant to kill him will only get yourself killed). As far as his political aspirations, he had none. The Republicans asked him to run and of course his huge ego let him dwell on it, but he went into Korea. Of course, once Truman fired him, his nomination ideas were squashed.

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  19. Those were sad days. It was very discouraging news to us back home. Thank you for continuing coverage.

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    • You are very welcome, Jim. And to think, the US civilians back home would not know of this until Feb. 1944, when Capt. Dyess’ story was published by the ‘Chicago Tribune.’

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  20. gp, I was waiting for this chapter. Hard to read & take it now & forevermore. Phil

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    • We’re not finished with it yet, Phil. I felt this (for lack of a better word) episode of the war was too personal for those that went through it, so further posts will be the words of men who were there and not historians and researchers. For the faint of heart, I will be editing out the most gruesome descriptions.

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  21. Wow, so many lives lost and can’t imagine walking 65 miles in those conditions.Another great post, Everett.

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  22. A fine review and beginning. Looking forward to the next installment with personal accounts. Your diligence with posting everything about WWII is inspiring. I learn something new everyday from your blog. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Much appreciate the details behind these stories (here and upcoming). This should not be remembered because it has a newsworthy name, these were brave people who were ignored until it was too late.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Thank you for sharing this. This story hits close to home, literally. I’m from New Mexico were many of those prisoners were from. Out of the 1,800 National Guard that were sent to the Philippians, only 1/2 survived, and within a few years after the war almost one half more had died. (I was born at Bataan Hospital).

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Reblogged this on A Conservative Christian Man.

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  26. Thanks for the work you are doing on these, real education to read.

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  27. Bataan Death March?

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