Defenders of the Philippines

picture of captivity and picture of release from captivity

Major General Edward P. King, Jr.

Picture of Edward P. King, Jr.Edward Postell King, Jr. was born in Atlanta, Georgia on July 4, 1884. He graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in law in 1903, but he decided that he would rather pursue a military career, so he applied for and accepted a commission in the Army in 1908, serving initially in the Georgia National Guard. He was then appointed second lieutenant in the U.S. Army and assigned to the 6th Field Artillery Regiment, and he served in the Philippines, completing three tours of duty in the Office of the Chief of Field Artillery, for which he was the Chief Assistant from March 23, 1918 to November 11, 1918. On July 9, 1918 President Woodrow Wilson approved bestowing the Army Distinguished Service Medal (DSM) to King for his work in helping solve the problems of expanding, organizing, and training the Field Artillery.

In 1923, King graduated from the Command and General Staff School and from the Army War College in 1930; he also taught at both institutions, and in 1937, he graduated from the Navy War College. In 1940, King was promoted to Brigadier General and sent to the Philippines, where he took command of Fort Stotsenberg on September 14. He became a Major General a year later and served as artillery officer for General Douglas MacArthur, becoming MacArthur's second highest ranking ground officer after General Jonathan Wainwright. King commanded the North Luzon Force from November 3 to November 28, 1941, when Wainwright assumed command.

When President Roosevelt ordered General MacArthur to leave Bataan for Australia on March 11, 1942, Wainwright also acquired command of all of the U.S. forces in the Philippines, and King became the Commanding General of the Philippine-American forces on Bataan. The Japanese launched their final assault on Bataan on April 3, 1942, and on April 5, they succeeded in capturing Mt. Samat, a major observation post and artillery station. Unable to continue fighting due to the insufficient nutrition and diseases which were plaguing his forces, General King, fearing that his men would be annihilated, disobeyed orders from Wainwright and MacArthur to counterattack the Japanese and surrendered Bataan on April 9, 1942. This was the largest surrender of a military force in U.S. military history.

King then spent the next three and a half years as a POW of the Japanese in various prison camps, and upon liberation he announced that he was solely responsible for the surrender. Nevertheless, he was regarded as a hero, and after the war he served with the secretary of war's Personnel Board until he retired to Georgia. He died on August 31, 1958 in Brunswick, Georgia.

Read Edward King's war diary, donated to the ADBC Museum by Col. John Olson. Note: page 15 was not included in this document.