Military Leaders Who's Who
General Jonathan Wainwright 1883-1953
Wainwright defended Bataan and then Corregidor after MacArthur left the Philippines. He had been on the Philippines earlier in 1909-10 and had served in France during the First World War. In September 1940 he was sent to the Philippines and in December was told to defend Luzon. When the Japanese landed at Lingayen Gulf in December 1941, he retreated to Bataan to avoid being cut off from the main US forces. MacArthur was ordered to leave Luzon and Wainwright was made a lieutenant general on March 19, 1942. He held out far longer than was expected against great Japanese air superiority. He was ordered to go to Corregidor on April 8. Again, he did his best to hold under continual bombardment. When the Japanese hit the island with 16,000 shells and landed 2000 men on May 4th and 5th, he made the decision to surrender to avoid more loss of life. He surrendered on May 6. Guerrilla activity continued in the Philippines. Wainwright accompanied his men on the Bataan Death March and became a POW in Manchuria. He stood next to MacArthur on the USS Missouri when the Japanese officially surrendered. He was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.
King was forced to surrender the largest military force in American history, saving countless lives. 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.
More military biographies of American leaders to come.
General Masaharu Homma, 1888-1946
Homma was the Japanese General who led the Philippine invasion. He previously had served as an intelligence officer. When he landed in Luzon the Filipino troops dispersed. Homma's orders were to take Manila first, but he was trying to decide whether to do that or block the US and Filipino withdrawal to Bataan. He took Manila and wasted time. He also left only 9 battalions to capture Luzon and sent his best division, the 48th to invade the Dutch East Indies. His forces launched their first offense on Mount Rosa in Bataan on January 9, 1942 and after a month of fierce fighting the offensive was halted. Homma was relieved of his command for incompetence and replaced by General Yamashita. Homma remained as a figurehead. In April 1942, the American and Filipino troops surrendered and they marched the troops 60 miles to a railroad line and shipped them to Camp O'Donnell. The Japanese treated the prisoners badly, not providing them food or drink and shooting stragglers. Homma was held responsible for the deaths (approximating 16,000 people). In September 1945, Homma was arrested in Tokyo. He was tried in Manila and executed by a firing squad.
More Japanese Military Leaders to come.