Defenders of the Philippines

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1942 Events

January 9

The first period of Japanese attacks on Bataan begins.

January 13

Japanese attacks on Bataan continue and although they make progress on the east side of the Peninsula they are still held in the west.

Battle of the Points—January 22-February 18, 1942

 A mixed force of pilots, airmen, and sailors and assorted troops forced a change in the timetable of the Japanese to overtake the Philippines in fifty days.  Instead the capture took five months.  Two thousand Japanese troops landed on the promontories “points” of southwestern Bataan surprising the Americans. 

The unsuspecting American troops did not have the proper weapons. Lt. Ed Dyess, commanding officer of 21st pursuit squadron reported that their arsenals looked like they came from an “ordnance rummage sale. “ Many did not know how to use the weapons they had.  Men had trouble determining where they were located in the dense jungle.  Dyess headed to Quinauan Point.  The Philippine Constabulary and the 803rd Aviation Engineer Battalion were also sent there.

 U.S. Navy units went to Longoskawayan Point, where A US. Navy PT-34 boat intercepted some of the Japanese, who split into two groups.  The Japanese scaled 100-foot cliffs to head inland.

 The 3rd Pursuit Squadron, the 301st Chemical Company and the Philippine Scouts came to the aid of the U.S Naval Defense Battalion.  They found themselves up against an experienced jungle army of stealthy Japanese soldiers who would rig corpses and participate in other subterfuge.   The Americans reacted to this by always shooting a supposedly dead Japanese soldier.  The Americans succeeded in driving most of the Japanese back by January 24.  Soon though, US ranks would be suffering from malaria and lack of food, but kept on fighting.  On January 27th, mortars on Corregidor aimed at Longoskawayan Point and got rid of the Japanese resistance there.

 At Quinauan, the battle was harder.  The 500 Scouts who came to relieve the Naval Defense Battalion suffered losses, but Dyess and his troops returned and now had the Scout’s weapons, M-1 Garands to use. The 192nd Tank Battalion also offered supplies and they finally rounded most of the Japanese in an area by the cliffs, and rather than surrender the Japanese jumped off.  In caves, other Japanese held out, and after not being able to smoke them out, Dyess and 20 others formed a landing party to enter the southern side of the Agaloma Bay inlet.

 On February 8, with the aid of ramped up gunboats made by craftsmen of the U.S.S. Canopus, the units went ashore under sprays of bombardment from the Japanese dive-bombers.  Assisted by Lt. I.B. Jack Donaldson, and Lt. Commander Henry “Hap” Goodall, they were able to stop the Japanese at Agaloma Bay.  They threw grenades into  caves and foxholes.

 The Battle of the Points cost the loss of about 2,000 Japanese men, two full battalions, while the US lost only one-tenth of its strength. The effort slowed the opening offensive by the Japanese, making it harder for them to consolidate their possessions.

More about this battle in Battle of the Points by  historian John D. Lukacs in WWII magazine

This article  originally appeared in the September October  issue of World War II magazine,  and is used with permission of the publisher, Weider History Group."

 January 24

On the Bataan Peninsula the US forces begin withdrawals to a second defense line.

January 30

Japanese pressure on the American positions on Bataan is maintained.  As well as striking against the main defense lines, amphibious landings have been made at various points on the coast.  Amboina, the second largest naval base in  the Dutch East Indies is attacked by the Japanese.

February 6

Japanese reinforcements land on Luzon.  The fighting on Bataan has been severe for a few days.

February 22

General MacArthur is ordered to leave the Philippines and establish his headquarters in Australia.

March 2

Japanese troops land on Mindanao.  Targets on Mindanao, Cebu, and Negros are also bombarded by Japanese warships.

March 11

General MacArthur leaves Luzon with the famous declaration, " I shall return."  On orders from Washington he hands over his command to General Wainwright.

March 24

Japanese artillery and aircraft again attack American positions on Bataan and Corregidor.

April 3

After a lull on the 2nd, the final Japanese assault on Bataan begins. There is a long bombardment before the attach goes in and the exhausted fighters are thrown back.

April 5

The Japanese attacks on Bataan continue.  Mount Samat is taken after heavy fighting in which the US 21st Division loses heavily.  Japanese detachments leave Luzon bound for Cebu Islan.

April 7

The Japanese continue to make gains, particular in the eastern sector of Bataan.  The American and Filipino forces are now behind a line running inland from Limas.  Roosevelt authorizes the commanders to take any necessary steps.  Wainwright withdraws as much of his force as possible to the fortress island of Corregidor in Manila Bay.

April 8

The American resistance on Bataan collapses under the fierce Japanese attacks.  The destruction of equipment is ordered as a preparation for surrender.

April 9

General King unconditionally surrenders US forces on Luzon.  Seventy-five thousand men are captured, 12,000 of them American.  The prisoners are marched to San Fernando, 100 miles away, many thousands dying because of ill-treatment on the way.  This is know as the Bataan Death March.  Fighting continues in isolated areas of Luzon and the other islands with some US and Filipino units operating on a guerilla role.  General Wainwright holds out on Corregidor.

April 10

The Japanese land on Cebu with about 12,000 men.  The small American forces retire inland.

April 16

With resistance on Cebu now being overcome, the Japanese also land 4000 troops on Panay

April 26

Fighting continues on Mindanao where Filipino forces resist the Japanese invaders, who now receive further reinforcements.

April 29

The Japanese forces continue to bombard Corregidor and on Mindanao.  With reinforces strength and air support, they push back the defenders.

May 1

More Japanese forces have landed on Mindanao and fighting is therefore heavy.  Corregidor is bombed and shelled.

May 2

Despite the Japanese buildup on Mindanao, they can only make slow progress with their attacks.

May 3

There are further Japanese landings on Mindanao which cannot be beaten off.

May 4

On Mindanao there is reduced activity, but in Manila Bay the Bombardment of Corregidor becomes more intense.

May 5

Just before midnight the Japanese land on Corregidor.  Most of the gun emplacements on the island have been put out of action by the Japanese bombardment.  Nonetheless, the Japanese lose heavily in the defensive fire before they consolidate their landing.

May 6

General Wainwright on Corregidor surrenders with 15,000 American and Filipino troops.  On Mindanao there are further Japanese attacks.

May 7

General Wainwright, in Japanese custody, broadcasts from Luzon to announce the surrender of Corregidor and invites the remaining US forces in the Philippines to do likewise.  Despite the US losses the campaign has not been an unqualified failure.  General Homma was initially allocated 50 days to complete the campaign, but his crack troops have been in fact campaigning now for five months when they might have been employed elsewhere.  One feature of the struggle has been the loyalty of the Filipinos.  This has been contrary to Japanese expectations and contrasts signifigantly with some of the British Burmese Regiments.

May 8

Arrival of President Manuel L. Quezon and family in San Francico after escaping from the Philippines by way of Australia.

May 9

The Japanese forces on Mindanao press home their attacks near Dailirig, practically finishing the defender's resistance.

May 10

General Sharp, commanding the remaining American forces, give the order to surrender.  A few small groups keep fighting for a few weeks.


Month of June

Filipino POWS are paroled from Camp O'Donnell.  Many join guerilla forces to fight the Japanese.  American forces are transferred from Camp O'Donnell to Cabanatuan the largest POW camp in the Philippines and the largest POW camp on foreign ground.  An estimated 9000 Americans will pass through Cabanatuan.  In the month of June 503 die in Cabanatuan.

June 2

President Manuel L. Quezon addresses the United States House of Representatives on the Pacific War Situation.


786 POWs die in Cabanatuan.

August 3

A truckload of Japanese troops is ambushed in Beunavista, Himalayan, Negros Occidental.  This marks the beginning of guerilla Operations in Negros.

October 1

The first Hellship leaves the Philippines.  The Japanese use unmarked tankers through the duration of the war to transport POWs to slave labor camps in Asia.  Conditions are inhuman.  Thousands of men die.


Club Tsubaki opens.  Club owner, Claire Philips, a suburban housewife from Portland, Oregon goes undercover and is able to discover the information on Japanese activities which she supplies to local guerillas.

December 15

The first day without a death in Cabanatuan.