PEOPLE AND PLACES

PEOPLE AND PLACES

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

DERELICTION OF DUTIES by American Leaders and the Sacrifice of Bataan




DERELICTION OF DUTIES by AMERICAN Leaders and the Sacrifice of Bataan

The suffering endured by Filipinos during the Japanese occupation paralleled that of American troops in the region. Moreover, the Philippine Commonwealth experienced greater hardships during the war because of its status as a U.S. protectorate.

World War II

ranks among the deadliest military conflicts in history. From 1939-1945, the estimated number of casualties worldwide exceeded 60 million.1 The United States suffered military fatalities in excess of four hundred thousand, and the Philippines, an archipelago in Southeast Asia and an American colony from 1898 to1946, endured horrifying atrocities such as the Bataan Death March.2 One hundred thousand Filipino civilians (the majority being women, children, and the elderly), were ultimately slaughtered by Japanese Marines during the sack of Manila.3 By March of 1945, this cosmopolitan capital city, once known as the "Pearl of the Orient Seas," lay in ruins.

There has been a great deal of research on WWII in a variety of fields. However, there remains a void in perspectives pertaining to the experiences of the Filipino natives and foreign minorities who resided in the Philippine colony during the Japanese occupation (1942-1945). This paper addresses this breach by advancing the argument that the suffering endured by Filipinos during the latter part of the Japanese occupation paralleled that of American troops in the region. Moreover, this study contends that the Philippine Commonwealth experienced greater hardships during the war because of its status as a U.S. protectorate, and that the  on Philippine soil was never intended to be a "War of Annihilation," a thesis advanced by Zeiler and others; warfare escalated into extermination only when Japanese defeat was imminent.4

In the decades following the 1940s, the most extensive studies concerning the war in the Philippines have involved the Bataan Death March and biographies on General Douglas MacArthur; narratives surrounding the American liberation being the most widely available.5 However, there is so much more to this story. Scholarship involving WWII's impacts upon the Philippine Commonwealth is sparse, since studies have largely centered around the American or European experience. By emphasizing the lost voices of local Filipinos, this paper will provide a unique perspective on the nature of the conflict in Southeast Asia. This from-the-ground-up study will highlight the bravery and immense sacrifices of colonized Filipinos during the pivotal loss and subsequent recapture of the Philippine Islands from the hands of the Japanese. This scholarship offers the opportunity to transcend the fabled Douglas MacArthur legend and tales of the Bataan Death March, and illuminates lesser known, less glamorous aspects of WWII in Southeast Asia. In the process, the widely-circulated and popularly accepted theory that a war of annihilation was the definitive Japanese objective will be called into question.
Historians have presented profoundly differing views of WWII. Past accounts by leaders and elites "who made headlines" and whose "deeds survived as historical truth" have dominated the research on WWII.6 Biographies on General Douglas MacArthur by Carol Morris Petillo and Michael Schaller are prime examples of notable works in the "great man" vein.7 However, there has been a perceptible shift in recent years to uncovering the perspectives of everyday individuals. This progression brings to the forefront the experiences of previously marginalized groups, such as the Filipinos and foreign nationals who resided in the Philippines during the Japanese invasion; they were the masses who bore witness to the Japanese occupation firsthand, who fought and died in defense of American liberty on foreign soil. This welcome trend in historical scholarship offers an increasingly comprehensive and holistic picture of the WWII experience from the ground up. For example, the shift towards the common man perspective is apparent in the work of Juergen Goldhagen, which delves into the experiences of four ordinary foreigners "caught in Manila by the war."8
Narratives like Goldhagen's represent an antithesis to the Good War hypothesis that endorsed the notion that WWII was "noble and heroic," an idea that has dominated historical scholarship since the 1940s, and persists in political rhetoric to this day.9 This "powerful idea based on myth, arrogance, and sanitizing the record," is unfortunate, for it trivializes the lasting scars suffered by war-torn victims, and blunts the invaluable lessons that may be gleaned from such historical events.10 In idealizing WWII, the Allies were customarily portrayed as champions for  in the conflict between good and evil.11This portrayal is so pervasive that it still permeates present political discourse.12
The depiction of WWII as the Good War reached its peak at the end of the twentieth century, when a new theory emerged: the War of Annihilation. This evolution from Good War to Annihilation is exemplified in Annihilation by Thomas Zeiler, which advanced the premise that WWII was an outright race to destroy the enemy's capacity to wage war; where lines between civilians and soldiering were blurred. Zeiler claimed that the objective of the war was to "eliminate the enemy threat physically, ideologically, and totally."13 While this was not entirely accurate when examined in light of the Japanese occupation in the Philippines, it nonetheless presents a sobering picture.
Image of Manila Massacre
February 9, 1945. Colorado Street, Ermita, Manila. Photo: John Tewell
Prized by the U.S. for its strategic location in the Pacific Ocean, and forming what MacArthur called "a key or base point of the U.S. defense line," the Philippines presents a natural barrier between  and the abundant resources of East and Southeast Asia. An archipelago comprising over seven thousand islands, the Philippines is situated east of Vietnam, approximately seven hundred miles from Formosa, Taiwan. With a tropical-marine climate and a land area of 115,124 square miles, the Islands were awarded to the U.S. in 1898, at the conclusion of the Spanish-American War.
A year after acquiring the Philippines in 1898, America instituted a system of self- in the Islands to grant the Filipinos political experience and eventual independence. This experiment limped along, because U.S. intervention never truly ceased. Filipinos were allowed participation in the administration of the Philippines, but U.S. citizens retained all the substantial policy-making positions.
In 1935, the Philippines gained Commonwealth status under President Manuel Quezon, though it remained in every respect a U.S. colony, with Douglas MacArthur serving as Military Advisor to President Quezon and field marshal of the Philippine Army prior to the outbreak of WWII (1935-1941). Under American colonial rule, the objective was the "political  on democratic government" of the Filipinos, along with economic preparation for complete independence; however, this was primarily a farce, and dialogue of independence was biased with an eye towards preserving American self-interests and Philippine dependency upon the U.S. For example, constitutional provisions, such as the Public Land Act, limited the exploitation of Philippine lands and other  to Philippine and American citizens.19 The inclusion of Filipino interests in the Public Land Act was meant to pacify the elite classes and garner their support for continued American occupation. From the point of view of Japan's Imperial Government, the Public Land Act translated to a slight against Japanese nationals, because it essentially disenfranchised over twenty thousand Japanese who were residing in the Philippines by 1935. Such policies were aimed at bolstering U.S. economic interests in the Philippines.
By 1941, Japan was blistering from several perceived U.S. insults. Its oil inventories were in dire straits due to American-led global oil embargoes.21 For the Japanese Government, which had been suffering severely from fuel shortages, the Philippine sugar fields represented the potential for an alternative alcohol fuel source and butane for aviation fuel. The need for substitute fuel sources had hit a critical stage if Japan were to sustain the war effort. At stake in the Philippines were vast natural resources in the form of rice, coconut, sugar cane, hemp (locally known as abaca), timber, petroleum, cobalt, silver, gold, salt, and copper--export industries which were thriving thanks in large part to the generous introductions of American capital.
Japan also viewed the Philippines as a golden opportunity for retribution against the U.S. for the pervasive disenfranchisement policies it promoted in the Philippines, and the prohibitions it championed against Japan globally. As an added bonus, Japan recognized that its occupation of the Philippines would deal America a grave economic blow, since the U.S. imported the bulk of its rubber, sugar, and various agricultural products from the Philippines.
It cannot be ignored that the Philippines was a logistical trading hub, since the Islands were advantageously located in close proximity to the South  Sea, Philippine Sea, Sulu Sea, Celebes Sea, and the Luzon Strait.25 This was a fact of which both Japan and the U.S. were keenly aware. From the Japanese perspective, its invasion of the Philippines served multiple purposes: it was a blatant affront meant to humble the U.S. and impress upon the Americans the sheer might and cunning of the Japanese military; and, by 1941, the Philippines was a trophy ripe for the picking. For nearly half a century, the Commonwealth had thrived under the protection of the powerful United States of America. What is more, by the outbreak of WWII, the Philippines had benefited economically from its colonial ties to the U.S. for many decades. This had guaranteed a measure of stability and lawfulness, with  kept at a minimum, which in turn fostered a climate of legitimacy that attracted private enterprises to the archipelago. Because of the inflow of U.S. financial subsidies into its military infrastructure, the Philippines possessed a fairly modern string of tactically placed naval bases, airstrips, oil tank fields, and roadways that wound through the Island from Cavite to Cebu, from Zambales to Manila--fortifications that the Japanese coveted.2
For Japan, the Philippines was too tempting a prize to resist. On December 8, 1941, Japan launched its "onslaught against the Philippines" within twenty-four hours of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The United States Government representatives in the Philippines reacted swiftly, interring Japanese nationals residing in the Commonwealth. Japanese consulates, Japanese schools and office buildings were converted into temporary detention camps.28 But America's grip upon the Philippines was tenuous at best. The combined forces of MacArthur and the Philippine Army were woefully outmanned, and could not repel the full-scale Japanese assault. As a result, the internment of Japanese nationals proved to be short-lived, for scarcely two weeks later, the Japanese Army seized control of Mindanao in the southeastern Philippines, and all internees were released.
In an effort to rescue Manila from further destruction, on December 26, 1941, Douglas MacArthur declared Manila an "open city," before retreating and abandoning all defensive efforts. It was a calculated move intended to preserve Manila's historical landmarks and spare its civilians. This strategy was effective, and damage to infrastructure was minimal, since the incoming Japanese forces, for the most part, had respected wartime protocols.32 Soon after the Japanese took possession of Manila in January 1942, life continued on as before and a sense of normalcy gradually returned to the city.
Following MacArthur's retreat, while American and Filipino POWs were staggering across Mariveles on the southern end of the Bataan Peninsula in what came to be known as the infamous Bataan Death March, thousands of American civilians were imprisoned in internment camps in Manila.34 The U.S. internees in the Philippines represented the largest group of American civilians to experience "enemy occupation" during WWII.
During the early years of the occupation, the University of Santo Tomas internment camp was not much of a prison; internees were granted "passes" to visit family on the outside. Some passes were a month long, requiring only periodic check-ins. This changed as the war progressed and Japanese camp administrators grew increasingly fearful of subversives.

The Japanese tried very hard to win over the Filipinos. However, they did not tolerate dissention. If a household was caught with a short wave radio, which were forbidden, it was not uncommon for violators to be hauled off to Fort Santiago, an old Spanish fortress at the entrance of the Pasig River, never to be seen again. Discipline was rigorously enforced by the High Command. The Japanese officers disliked lawyers; they did not tolerate arguments, and demanded strict obedience from military and civilian subordinates. Generally, as long as the populace cooperated with officials, the Japanese treated Filipinos fairly and were respectful of local customs and traditions.
From an economic perspective, the Imperial Government recognized that its conquest of the Philippines placed into Japan's possession an agricultural country that could be brought to self-sufficiency, with minimal economic dependency. In its occupation of the Philippines, Japan gained numerous agricultural resources, including Manila hemp (abaca), which was used for rope and twine and was highly prized by the Japanese.56 An added windfall to Japan was that it had managed to deprive the U.S. and much of Europe of major sources of rubber, sugar, hemp, and coconut oil. Moreover, the Philippines was also expected to solve Japan's shortages in cotton and aviation fuel, by utilizing "chemical-yielding plants" like sugar cane and castor oil as alternative fuel sources. The goal was that the conversion of sugar to fuel alcohol as a substitute for gasoline, would appease Japan's fuel crises, while launching the Philippines into total fiscal self-sufficiency.
A popular theory is that WWII was a War of Annihilation, the Annihilation premise being that "civilians are military targets and not immune from warfare." This concept stretches the battlefield to encompass towns and private citizens, exterminating enemy populations and destroying resources (such as infrastructure), by brute force. This was not the case with the Japanese occupation in WWII in the Philippines. On the contrary, the situation began to deteriorate two years after the Battle of Midway, as the defeat at Midway slowly shifted the tides in the Pacific against Japan. With each mounting loss, the inhumane treatment of citizens in Japan's occupied territories escalated.61
It was only towards the latter part of the Japanese occupation (very late in 1944), as American forces were steadily advancing across the South Pacific, that the hypothesis that Japan had unleashed annihilation tactics upon the Philippines, may hold any merit. By the time the sacking of Manila transpired on the eve of the American-led liberation of the Philippines in February 1945, the Japanese Imperial Army occupiers had been replaced by the Japanese Marines.
There were two Japanese contingents occupying the Philippines during this crucial time: the Imperial Army led by General Tomoyuki Yamashita, and the Japanese Navy (Marines) commanded by Admiral Sanji Iwabuchi. The initial occupation of the Philippines in 1941 was carried out by the forces of the Japanese Imperial Army (Yamashita's men), who were tasked with setting up a government in Manila, and assimilating the local population. It was a commission that for the most part, the Imperial Army conducted with self-restraint and discipline. Yet by the latter part of 1944, the majority of Imperial Army officers, whose soldiers had previously displayed a respectful tolerance of the local populace, who had shown a surprising fondness for children, and who had honored Filipino traditions, had gradually been replaced by the Japanese Marines. The Marines were comprised of Korean and Formosan forces and battle-hardened veterans of the vicious China Campaign. These men were charged with defending Manila against the invading Americans in 1945, as the Japanese Army retreated.62
It was unfortunate that the Japanese contingent tasked with holding Manila were a different breed; they were seasoned veterans, desensitized by the brutality of previous campaigns. These Marines spared the Filipinos no mercy. As Japanese defeat loomed, the lines between civilian and military targets evaporated, and annihilation began. Where the Japanese had once been "instructed by their High Command to behave and set an example," irrationality reigned and "they behaved like animals."63 In a 1946 interview, Major General Charles A. Willoughby (U.S. Army, who served as Douglas MacArthur's Chief of Intelligence), confirmed that the sacking of Manila "was an unnecessary act of fury and brutality" that was carried out "mostly by men from the Japanese Marines, the remaining personnel of sunken ships, the commercial crewmen, and others. The army had retreated towards the hills."
In what came to be known as the Battle of Manila, the Marines spared no compassion as impending defeat translated to sanctioned brutality. As American bombs began to rain down upon the Islands, the Japanese Marines turned savage. There were numerous accounts of babies being tossed in the air and speared on bayonets. Sons were shot in front of their pleading mothers.67 Those who elected to remain outside the confines of religious institutions or were not interred at the camps, were rounded up by the Japanese in abandoned apartment buildings and houses and burned alive. Women, children, and the elderly were not spared. Anyone who attempted escape by climbing out of windows or scaling walls, were picked off by rifle fire like pigeons in a hunt.
While Filipinos were permitted to continue to worship unimpeded, the Church ultimately proved to be the death knell for many. Blind devotion to the Catholic faith was universal among Filipinos. True to character, numerous Filipinos and mestizos (Philippine-born Spaniards), reacted to the carnage by fleeing into convents, churches, and parochial universities, seeking sanctuary and protection from the indiscriminate raping and murdering. This proved to be an unmitigated catastrophe. On February 7, 1945, the revered De La Salle College saw sixteen Christian Brothers murdered, along with forty-two Filipino and mestizo men, women, and children who had sought refuge inside its hallowed halls.68Among them, the beloved Father Leo, an Irishman and Dean of the university and who had spent thirty years in the Philippines.69 Mothers and daughters were corralled into classrooms, raped, and then shot.70 At San Augustin Church, the Japanese isolated the Augustinian friars of the convent; six thousand civilians sheltered there. The men were separated from the women and children, and 1,600 were force-marched to Fort Santiago where many met their deaths.71
It was devastating to the Filipino spirit to witness the worst atrocities committed by the Japanese during the latter part of the occupation, perpetrated in religious establishments. The desecration of their religious institutions tested Filipino fortitude beyond anything that transpired during the war. It rocked the Filipinos' steady faith deeply, because the violation of Catholic sanctuaries was previously unimaginable. Nothing could have prepared the native Filipinos for such a travesty. The violence was all the more traumatic given that throughout the Japanese occupation--up until the latter part of 1944--the Filipinos in Manila had met with respectful behavior from their Japanese occupiers. For this reason, civilians were caught completely off guard, and had not expected the Japanese to lash out so brutally.72But "the more the Japanese were getting a beating, the worse they became."

In spite of the possibilities, the U.S. government decided to abandon the Philippines and forgo any attempt to reinforce the “Battling Bastards of Bataan,” as the Americans in the dwindling Philippine perimeter began calling themselves. Even if Roosevelt had decided to try to reinforce the Philippines as the modified war plans called for, the demoralized military forces in Australia were not up to the task.

I'm still wondering if anyone can tell me what threat Germany was to the U.S. in 1941-42? Why "Russia First"??? Could it have been to help out Stalins regime at the expense of American lives? I just don't see the need for Europe first being in the U.S. strategic intrest at that time. I'd be happy if someone could explain to me how it was strategically better FOR THE USA to be involved in a European war when we were first attacked in the Pacific.

Churchill came away from the Atlantic Conference on August 14, 1941, observing the "astonishing depth of Roosevelt's intense desire for war." Before we entered the war, FDR sent a delegation to the Vatican to get the Pope to endorse Godless communism - he refused. With lend-lease, a.k.a. Lenin-lease, before Pearl Harbor FDR pressed his aides to allocate and speed shipments to the Soviet Union in the strongest possible way. FDR exerted frenetic personal devotion to the cause of lend-lease to the communists, distinctly favoring Russia over Britain (and US) and if you read page 549 volume 3 of The Secret Diaries of Harold Ickes, Ickes makes it clear that in a choice between England and Russia FDR would have abandoned England: "if the (public) attitude had been one of angry suspicion or even resentment, we would have been confronted with the alternative of abandoning Great Britian or accepting communism..." On August 1, 1941 FDR said about planes for Russia, "we must get 'em, even if it necessary to take from our own troops." Ickes said "we ought to come pretty close to stripping ourselves in view of Russian aid." The US sent 150 P-40's (the newest) when we were woefully short. In 1944 Churchill publicly complained about Britain being treated worse than the Soviet Union (in 1943 we sent 5,000 planes to Russia; overall we sent 20,000 planes and 400,000 trucks - twice as many as they had had before the war, 9 million pairs of boots, complete factories as part of $11 billion in aid that was never expected to be paid back). FDR's oil embargo of Japan forcing them South to take oil-rich Dutch Indonesia, is incomprehensible unless you realize FDR did it to relieve Japanese military threats to the Soviet Union.
34
A big coastal gun is fired from fortified American positions on Corregidor Island, at the entrance to Manila Bay on the Philippines, on May 6, 1942. (AP Photo) #
 
 




For the American people, the fall of the Philippines in 1942 evoked neither the shock of Pearl Harbor nor the defiance born of the Alamo's fight to the last man. Bataan and Corregidor, while not forgotten, were overtaken by the swift currents of other World War II battles, as Americans found new losses to lament and growing victories to celebrate. Survivors of the Philippine campaign quietly languished in squalid prisoner of war camps or, in the case of the few who avoided capture, struck at the Japanese in unpublicized guerrilla raids. 

Many of these soldiers felt betrayed by both their government and commander. Their grievance went beyond President Roosevelt's order to General MacArthur to depart the Philippines in March 1942. It was rooted in widely disseminated promises Douglas MacArthur made to his soldiers beginning in the first weeks of the war. In message after message, the charismatic commander bolstered the hopes of his Filipino-American force by conjuring images of a vast armada steaming to relieve the besieged archipelago. Without 

revealing details, MacArthur told his warriors: "Help is on the way from the United States. Thousands of troops and hundreds of planes are being dispatched. The exact time of arrival in unknown as they will have to fight their way through." I Buoyed by this hope, the half-starved soldiers fought gallantly and continually frustrated the timetable established by the Japanese army.


35
Japanese forces use flame-throwers while attacking a fortified emplacement on Corregidor Island, in the Philippines in May of 1942. (NARA)




However, the hopes of these brave Americans and Filipinos were misplaced. Even 

before his harrowing escape from the Philippines, General MacArthur knew 

that relief of the Philippines was all but impossible. Yet, the myth of a large 

force bringing desperately needed reinforcements and supplies was perpetuated. As the Bataan perimeter shrank, soldiers kept straining to hear or see the planes and ships promised by their commander. Almost three years would pass before the promise was fulfilled. 

Although-the-soldiers stranded in th Philippines cursed-Mac-Arthur for deceiving them, it is clear that the Philippine commander was initially the 

victim of lies from his superiors in Washington. The venerable Secretary of 

War Henry Stimson, revered Army Chief of Staff George C. Marshall, and the Commander-in-Chief Franklin Roosevelt are sullied by half-truths and false 

denials they conveyed to their field commander in the Pacific. Apologists for these World War II heroes argue that false promises made during those dark days of early 1942 were justified. In their view, official words of hope were essential to foster a fighting spirit, not only among the starving and outnumbered soldiers scattered among the Philippine Islands, but on the American home front as well. 

There is no denying that assurances of relief raised more of the beleaguered Philippine garrison. But actions taken by American leaders to create false hope were wrong on two counts. First, the decision not to level with the troops proved, in hindsight, to be a prudential error. The practical  outcome of the Philippine campaign might have been favorably altered had local commanders been given a truthful assessment of the relief situation. Second and more important, the lies by Roosevelt, Stimson, Marshall, and MacArthur were unethical. Their infidelity was an unconscionable breach of faith that only deepened the final disillusionment of gallant fighters essentially abandoned by the United States.'



Formulation of a Lie 

From the disastrous beginning of the Philippine campaign on 8 

December 1941, key leaders sensed the hopelessness of the situation. On that day, Henry L. Stimson, Secretary of War and former governor general of the Philippine Islands (1928-1929), noted in his diary: "While MacArthur seems to be putting up a strong defense, he is losing planes very fast and, with the sea cut off by the loss of the Pacific 1 fleet, we should be unable to reinforce 

him probably in time to save the islands. However, we have started everything going that we could. ,,'





Stimson's thoughts, recorded on the second day of America's entry into World War II, captured the attitude that would prevail in official Washington from the start of the war until the archipelago fell almost five months later. No one believed relief of the Philippines was possible but most felt there was a moral obligation to try. There were some, however, who felt attempts to relieve MacArthur 

were not only futile, but a waste of limited resources. This was certainly the Navy's view. Admiral Thomas C. Hart, commander of the United States 

Asiatic Fleet, told General MacArthur that resupply of the Philippines was impossible because of the Japanese blockade and lack of sufficient Allied naval forces. The Joint Board in Washington concurred with Hart and ordered the cancellation of a convoy destined for MacArthur's United States Forces Far East (USAFFE).'




 
 

Army Chief of Staff General George C. Marshall felt, as Stimson, that despite limited resources, the men and women fighting in the Philippines could not be abandoned without some effort being undertaken to relieve them. Marshall appealed directly to President Franklin Roosevelt for support. The Commander-in-Chief responded by overruling the Joint Board's decision that would have stopped the relief convoy. Roosevelt also told Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal that the President was "bound to help the Philippines, and the Navy had to do its share in the relief effort.'" Two weeks later in a cheerful New Year's message, President Roosevelt exuded optimism regarding relief of the besieged garrison that many in the islands interpreted as a promise of immediate aid. General Marshall also sought to reassure MacArthur, sending the USAFFE commander encouraging cables detailing weapons and equipment waiting on docks or already en route to the Islands. However, on 3 January 1942, Marshall's War Plans Division issued a frank and pessimistic assessment of the relief situation. The staff officer who developed the report was 

Brigadier General Dwight D. Eisenhower, an old Philippine hand who knew MacArthur and the archipelago's defense plan. Eisenhower told the chief of staff that "it will be a long time before major reinforcements can go to the 

Philippines, longer than the garrison can hold out." He concluded that a realistic attempt to relieve the Philippine defenders would require so vast a force that it was "entirely unjustifiable" in light of the priority given to the 

European Theater.

36
Billows of smoke from burning buildings pour over the wall which encloses Manila's Intramuros district, sometime in 1942. (AP Photo) #
37
American soldiers line up as they surrender their arms to the Japanese at the naval base of Mariveles on Bataan Peninsula in the Philippines in April of 1942. (AP Photo) #
38
Japanese soldiers stand guard over American war prisoners just before the start of the "Bataan Death March" in 1942. This photograph was stolen from the Japanese during Japan's three-year occupation. (AP Photo/U.S. Marine Corps) #
39
American and Filipino prisoners of war captured by the Japanese are shown at the start of the Death March after the surrender of Bataan on April 9, 1942, near Mariveles in the Philippines. Starting from Mariveles on April 10, some 75,000 American and Filipino prisoners of war were force-marched to Camp O'Donnell, a new prison camp 65 miles away. The prisoners, weakened after a three-month siege, were harassed by Japanese troops for days as they marched, the slow or sick killed with bayonets or swords. (AP Photo)







In his diary, Secretary Stimson noted receipt of the "very gloomy study" from the War Plans Division. In Stimson's words, the report encouraged the senior leadership to recognize that "it would be impossible for us to relieve MacArthur and we might as well make up our minds about it." However, either Stimson couldn't make up his mind or he was unwilling to confront MacArthur and others with the growing evidence that supported Eisenhower's conclusion. The Secretary went on to write, "It is a bad kind of paper to be lying around the War Department at this time. Everybody knows the chances are against our getting relief to him [MacArthur] but there is no use in saying so before hand'" (emphasis added). Reflecting Stimson's attitude, Marshall apparently never shared Eisenhower's report with MacArthur nor made its contents public. D. Clayton 







James, the respected biographer of Douglas MacArthur, likened Roosevelt's 




and Marshall's hopeful words to the false encouragement given by some physicians to dying patients. The President's and Chief of Staff's intent, as 




surmised by James, was to brace the Philippine defenders to fight longer than they might have if they were told the truth. According to James, promises 




made by Roosevelt and Marshall deceived MacArthur and were "an insult to the garrison's bravery and determination. General MacArthur may have initially been duped into believing the 




cheery news from his superiors. But it seems highly unlikely that the savvy MacArthur could have long been deluded as the weeks dragged on and convoys destined for the Philippines were diverted to Australia or Hawaii. Historian Louis Morton, whose book The Fall of the Philippines is recognized as the definitive 


work on the topic, notes that USAFFE headquarters was indeed aware that the promised help was unlikely to reach Philippine shores in time. Those who knew the full story told no one. When one American colonel asked a friend on the 


USAFFE staff when relief might arrive, the staff officer's eyes "went pokerblank and his teeth bit his lips into a grim thin line." The troops were encouraged to assume help was weeks, perhaps only days away. 


MacArthur hammered General Marshall with repeated early messages insisting that the blockade could be broken and demanding that the Navy increase its efforts. Marshall, however, acknowledged on 17 January. 1942 that the only reason the Navy should continue to challenge the Japanese blockade was for "the moral effect occasional small shipments might have on the beleaguered forces."lf MacArthur eventually saw the grim reality of no meaningful relief coming from the United States. By February, his cables to Washington began to raise issues concerning the fate of Philippine President Quezon once the Islands were lost to the Japanese. However, General MacArthur did nothing to alter the original picture he painted for his troops. Thousands of malnourished soldiers, riddled with intestinal disease, clung to the belief that if they could hold out for a short time, they would be saved. There is no evidence that MacArthur and General Jonathan Wainwright had a frank discussion of the relief situation as the latter took charge of the Filipino-American force. The change of command was a hurried affair, 


with MacArthur promising Wainwright to "come back as soon as I can with as much as I can." Wainwright's reply, which he came to regret, was, "I'll be here on Bataan ifI'm alive,',Impact on the Soldiers 


As word of Douglas MacArthur's escape to Australia spread among American and Filipino troops, morale plummeted. For some, it was a sign that they had been abandoned to face death or capture by the brutal Japanese. 


While many experienced this disillusionment, others believed the charismatic MacArthur would return from Australia posthaste leading the relief force. 


Indeed, once in Australia, MacArthur's first message was again one of hope. This time he said that the relief of the Philippines was his primary mission. In a pledge that was continuously broadcast and printed on everything from 


letterheads to chewing gum wrappers, the general simply stated, "I made it through and I shall return. There is ample evidence that soldiers placed great stock in MacArthur's renewed pledge from Australia. When "Skinny" Wainwright made the fateful decision to surrender the entire Philippine command in May 1942, 






There is ample evidence that soldiers placed great stock in MacArthur's renewed pledge from Australia. When "Skinny" Wainwright made the fateful decision to surrender the entire Philippine command in May 1942, hundreds of Americans refused to obey the order. One often-cited reason for this disobedience was the belief that General MacArthur would be back to disregarded surrender orders and took their chances in the jungles, waiting for MacArthur's supposed imminent return." Even Major General William F. Sharp, who refused to surrender his Visayan-Mindanao Force for a number of days after Wainwright's capitulation, appeared to believe MacArthur might return at any time. Sharp's staff chaplain wrote after the war that the general cabled MacArthur for guidance 

regarding Wainwright's order to surrender. MacArthur's reply appears to have been a surprise to Sharp, as revealed in this published account: 

"We sent out your message [to General MacArthur], Sir, and we have just decoded a message from down south [Australia]." 

All eyes were on General Sharp as he read the message. There was no expression on his face. "Gentlemen, this is MacArthur's final message: 'Expect no immediate aid! ... This was a hard blow, as rumors flew thick and fast that our fleet was on its way to save the Philippines. None of us had doubted this and we had expected to hear soon the skies thunderous with many planes." 

Not surprisingly, disillusioned soldiers directed their resentment and animus toward MacArthur. The depth of this enmity was apparent in Brigadier General William Brougher's after-action report written in a Japanese POW 

camp. Brougher, a division commander on Bataan, concluded his report in 

extraordinarily condemnatory language: Who took responsibility for saying that some other possibility [relief of the Philippines] was in prospect? And who ever did, was he [MacArthur] not an 

arch-deceiver, traitor, and criminal rather than a great soldier? ... A foul trick of deception has been played on a large group of Americans by a Commanderin-Chief and small staff who are now eating steak and eggs in Australia. God damn them!  

Although 47 years have passed since the faU of the Philippines, some survivors of that ordeal express undiminished bitterness at being deceived by the promise of imminent relief from the United States. One veteran recently wrote, We all knew when General MacArthur ... was ordered by President Roosevelt to desert us, he left General Skinny Wainwright holding the bag. We knew we 

would be killed or captured. As a kid in school, we were taught the captain was the last man to leave the ship. He said, "I shall return." Three years later, by the time he returned, two thousand of his men ... had died.

As one former soldier wrote, "After fighting in the jungle for five months without any support whatsoever except lip service from our US government, I felt our government had deserted me."" 






Regardless of how the blame is spread for this prevarication, the fact is that Roosevelt, Stimson, Marshall, and MacArthur all refused to level with the troops. Failing to inform the soldiers that substantial relief of the Philippines was several months or even years away may be described as an exaggeration or half-truth rather than a lie. Whatever label given to this false promise, it was a breech of ethical standards. Soldiers in the Philippines fought gallantly and held out longer than expected, but at the cost of distrust, bitterness, and resentment toward their leaders and government. Professional Ethics, Military Necessity, and Exceptions to the Rule. The implicit question posed by this episode-when is lying to the troops justified?-is likely to elicit an immediate and resounding "Never!" 






from most military officers. As retired Major General Clay Buckingham wrote in an essay on ethics, the oath of a professional officer should be "to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.,,20 Half-truths or deceptions do not fall within the military's concept of honor and integrity. Not surprisingly, a plethora of books and articles on military ethics echo this view, using vignettes or case studies to illustrate the critical nature of honesty in the military. 




While the US Army has never published a formal code of ethics, Field Manual 1 00-1, The Army, does devote a Chapter to the professional Army ethic and individual values. Among the key values listed is candor, described as "honesty and fidelity to the truth .... Soldiers must at all times demand honesty and candor from themselves and from their fellow soldiers."" 




The values espoused in FM 100-1 are a distillation of ethical standards and moral beliefs that have been operative in the US Army from its conception. Lying and deception as devices to motivate soldiers to accomplish the mission were ethically wrong in 1942 just as they are today. True, anyone 




can concoct a hypothetical situation where a lie or half-truth may be used to save an innocent life. But a moral dilemma that offers lying as the only means to preserve life is extremely rare. Building morale on a deception or motivatiing soldiers with a lie remains unethical. Did our towering leaders of World War II-Roosevelt, Stimson, Marshall, MacArthur-set a course knowing their acts were unethical or, as more likely, did they hold to some other ethical precept they felt to be more compelling than honesty and candor? In questions of morality and ethics, even the most sacred values are challenged when they collide with other bedrock principles. The promise of help to the Philippines is a case in point. America's 







war planners in Washington and MacArthur in the Pacific may have viewed their deception to the troops as a "military necessity." Simply put, military necessity is action that is necessary in the attainment of the just and moral end for which war is fought. Even military necessity, however, does not excuse all steps taken in the name of a "just war." There must be some sense of proportion. Philosopher Michael Walzer of the Princeton Institute for Advanced Studies points out that we must weigh the damage or injury done to individuals and mankind against the contribution a particular action makes to the end of victory." 





To appreciate this argument it is important to recall the military and political situation in the Philippines. In the first months of America's entry 




into World War II, victory over Japan was far from certain. For Marshall and Stimson, and particularly for the nation's political leader, Franklin Roosevelt, the battle for the Philippines was a symbol of America's resolve to stay in the 




fight despite repeated setbacks in the Pacific. It was feared that early capitulation or mass desertions in the Philippines would have great moral and political significance for the nation. This can be inferred from the revealing and startling passage Secretary Stimson wrote in his diary on the eve of Bataan's surrender: 




[It has been suggested] that we should not order a fight to the bitter end [in the Philippines] because that would mean the Japanese would massacre everyone there. McCloy, Eisenhower, and I in thinking it over agreed that ... even if such 




a bitter end had to be, it would be probably better for the cause of the country in the end than would surrender. Obviously, the War Department was willing to go to great lengths to keep Wainwright and his troops in the fight. There was apparently the presumption that final victory over Japan would be hastened and morale at home bolstered by frustrating the enemy's timetable in the Philippines. However, the United States lacked sufficient war materiel to ship to the islands and had no means to pierce the blockade. Roosevelt, Stimson, and Marshall therefore chose to send the brave defenders words of hope regarding relief efforts in order to encourage them to hold on as long as possible.


One can speculate endlessly on what might have happened had the soldiers been told from the outset that they would have to fight without expectation of relief. Perhaps little would have changed. Even before America 

was catapulted into the war by the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Japanese army had an established record of atrocities and disregard for human life. This was verified in the first weeks of the Philippine campaign when soldiers found 

evidence of prisoners being tortured and executed by their Japanese captors. In short, Americans and Filipinos had little incentive to surrender. With departure of the bulk of the US Asiatic Fleet in December 1941, there was no 

means of mass evacuation or escape from the various islands. The soldiers had every reason to fight on toward an uncertain end. However, had the truth been served, the combined American-Filipino force might have succeeded in frustrating Japanese plans to a far greater 

degree. MacArthur and Wainwright could have done more to plan for and establish a guerrilla organization if they had realized earlier in the campaign that adequate resupply and assistance would not be forthcoming. Final conquest of the archipelago might have been delayed by several more months by abandoning the stubborn defense of Bataan and infiltrating guerrilla teams 

north into the Luzon hills. One Japanese general noted that "a well-planned guerrilla defense should have prolonged the warfare after the conquest [of the Philippines] and should have made [MacArthur's] comeback much easier."" 

Perhaps this was more than could have been expected from the malnourished soldiers who were virtually all ravaged by disease. But by hanging onto the false hope of relief convoys steaming to the rescue, there 

was no thought given to abandoning the Bataan Peninsula with its key city of 

Manila and deep harbor at Subic Bay. Only a handful of soldiers ever made it to northern Luzon, where cool mountain hideaways offered an excellent base from which to launch guerrilla operations and a reprieve from Bataan's 

malaria-ridden jungles. 

On a more basic level was the effect MacArthur's promises had on individual soldiers. Had the troops on Bataan been told the truth and dealt with in a forthright manner, they might have been better prepared psychologically for the fate that surely awaited them. Perhaps some who perished during brutal Japanese captivity would have survived. We will never know, but the possibility alone makes this a point worthy of consideration by today's leaders.


Conclusion: A Lost Opportunity 

and An Inexcusable Breach of Integrity Exactly how much each of the key players knew about the Philippine relief effort as the first weeks and months of the war unfolded is unclear. However, there is no doubt that early in the war, Roosevelt, Stimson, and Marshall were not candid with MacArthur about the impossibility of supplying adequate relief for the Philippines. MacArthur's promise of massive convoys steaming toward the Philippines may have initially been a reflection of his faith in Washington to deliver on promises of immediate aid. However, at some point, MacArthur clearly came to know his repeated pledge of relief was years away from fulfillment. Despite this knowledge, he continued to talk 

of massive relief and did nothing to quash the rampant rumors of resupply and support which he had fostered. 

One can hypothesize about how pure the motives were for each actor. Few question that those in Washington felt hopeless and distressed at being unable to give the Philippines the assistance that was so desperately needed. MacArthur's cables to Washington made clear his own frustration at being denied priority over war plans for Europe when his men were fighting for their very lives. However, in the trenches of Bataan and the bunkers on Corregidor, the result was the same. Soldiers built their hopes on a phantom army that failed to materialize before the Japanese overwhelmed them. 

Ethically, the claim of military necessity is a transparent attempt to justify unfaithfulness to the basic moral obligation of honesty and candor. One must sadly conclude that four distinguished figures of World War II, President Franklin Roosevelt, Secretary of War Henry Stimson, General George Marshall, and General Douglas MacArthur, stained their honor by perpetuating a lie. It should come as no surprise that the military's civilian masters in Washington 

were willing to expend soldiers' lives without concern for the truth. Throughout our country's brief history, politicians have shown a limited regard for candor and honesty in both peace and war. But it is hoped that the commander in the field will always be truthful. His honor as a soldier must be absolute. Taking the high road and being honest with the troops would probably not have changed the final outcome in the Philippines. The success of the Japanese invasion was inevitable. Honesty and candor might have made a difference after the fall of the Philippines as soldiers stole away into the jungle or marched toward wretched prisoner of war camps. Had these soldiers not 

been deceived, they would have at least been sustained by faith in their leaders, trust in their country, and belief in the military ethic. As it was, these 

moral anchors were undermined when it became clear that the promises their leaders made regarding relief of the Philippines were lies. Perhaps this loss of the moral underpinning of an army was as regrettable as the military loss of the Philippine Islands themselves.









American prisoners of war carry their wounded and sick during the Bataan Death March in April of 1942. This photo was taken from the Japanese during their three year occupation of the Philippines. (AP Photo/U.S. Army) 



The defense of the Philippines cannot be understood in terms of conventional military strategy. In those terms it was one incomprehensible blunder after another, done with due deliberation and afterward profusely rewarded. Just as Clauswitz said war is politics by other means, the sacrifice of the Philippines can only be understood in the larger political context. Analysis of local decisions by MacArthur, miss the point that FDR was actually calling the shots. His motivations, not MacArthur's are at issue. The sacrifice of the 31,095 Americans and 80 thousand Filipino troops with 26 thousand refugees on Bataan is a separate issue from the sacrifice of the Army Air Corps at Clark and Iba.













Solemnly promising the nation his utmost effort to keep the country neutral, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt is shown as he addressed the nation by radio from the White House in Washington, Sept. 3, 1939. In the years leading up to the war, the U.S. Congress passed several Neutrality Acts, pledging to stay (officially) out of the conflict. (AP Photo) 


The bombers were sacrificed, not only to facilitate the loss of the Philippines, but more immediately to sucker Hitler into declaring war on the United States and events in the Philippines are analogous to Pearl Harbor which happened the same day. However, Hitler did declare war on December 11th and therefore obviously the sacrifice of Bataan proper springs from other motives. To understand Roosevelt's strategy we have to ask a very basic question:Cui bono? "Who benefits?" Who benefited from Japan's temporary ascendancy and the war dragging on? It was obvious that when the Japanese Empire collapsed that there would be a power vacuum in Asia. The ultimate question of the Pacific War was who would fill that vacuum. Who would take China? Roosevelt wanted Russia to fill the vacuum (cf. his actions at Yalta and How the Far East Was Lost, Dr. Anthony Kubek, 1963) and therefore had to prolong the war so the Soviet Union could pick up the pieces. Because the Soviet Union had its hands full fighting Germany and could not dominate Asia until the war in Europe was under control, delay in the defeat of Japan was necessary. Bataan was a pawn in a larger game. The Battling Bastards of Bataan never understood enough to ask the critical question - "who was their real enemy?" It was Franklin Roosevelt. 


The orders to fight on all beaches and not supply Bataan were nothing less than the deliberate sacrifice of 31,095 Americans.




41
These prisoners were photographed along the Bataan Death March in April of 1942. They have their hands tied behind their backs. The estimates of the number of deaths that occurred along the march vary quite a bit, but some 5,000 to 10,000 Filipino and 600 to 650 American prisoners of war died before they could reach Camp O'Donnell. Thousands more would die in poor conditions at the camp in the following weeks. (NARA)






















No comments: