Bibliographic data

Zaide, Gregorio F.: Philippine History for High Schools, Emergency Edition. Manila: The Modern Book Company, 12. repr. [12. Nachdr.] ed., 1974, 321–323.

"Heroic Stand at Bataan"

[p. 321]


Heroic Stand at Bataan . In the early days of January, 1942, General Homma hurled his troops against the USAFFE lines in Bataan. The Fil-American troops resisted with magnificent courage. The Battle of Bataan was on. Day and night, week after week, the fierce fight raged. On the blood-drenched, flaming peninsula of Bataan, Filipinos and Americans, fighting side by side as brothers-in-arms, wrote a new epic in the annals of war, a new page in Philippine-American history.

The Fil-American defenders faced a hopeless situation. They had no air and naval support; they were incompletely equipped and outnumbered; they were harassed by shortages of food, medicine, and ammunitions; and the aid which they expected from America did not come because the United States Pacific Fleet had been crippled at Pearl Harbor at the outbreak of hostilities.

The Escape of Quezon and Sayre . Expecting the ultimate collapse of the USAFFE in the Philippines, President Roosevelt wired President Quezon to come to the United States. This was a matter of military expediency and political significance. If President Quezon were to fall into the hands of the Japanese, America's prestige in the Philippines would be weakened; moreover, there would be no Filipino leader who could continue inspiring resistance against the Japanese invaders.

In response to the wishes of the American President, Quezon, with his family and War Cabinet, left Corregidor by submarine on the night of February 20, 1942. Evident-

[p. 322]

ly, God was kind to him, for he successfully slipped through the Japanese blockade and reached Panay. From Panay, he and his party went to Negros, then to Mindanao, and later reached Australia by plane. After a brief rest in Australia, he crossed over to the United States, reaching San Francisco on May 8, 1942. A special train brought him to Washington, where President Roosevelt and other high American officials welcomed him.

On February 23, High Commissioner Sayre, and his party also escaped from Corregidor by submarine, and eventually reached the United States via Honolulu.

"I Shall Return." During the dark days of Bataan's stand, President Roosevelt repeatedly ordered General MacArthur to proceed to Australia and take over the command of the Southwest Pacific area. Accordingly, on March 11, 1942, General MacArthur, accompanied by his family and staff, left Corregidor in two PT boats and safely reached Mindanao, and from there he enplaned for Australia. Immediately upon his arrival in Melbourne on March 17, he told the world: "I came through and I shall return."

The hard-pressed Fil-American troops in Bataan and Corregidor and the whole Filipino people, who were bearing the brunt of Japanese invasion, were electrified by his pledge. On these three words–"I SHALL RETURN"–our people pinned their hopes and their faith in ultimate victory in the war. They had implicit confidence in MacArthur. Deep in their hearts, they thanked Divine Providence for his escape and prayed for his speedy return to the Philippines.

The Fall of Bataan . Lt. Gen. Jonathan M. Wainwright succeeded MacArthur as commander of the Fil-American troops, whose designation was changed from USAFFE (United States Armed Forces in the Far East) to USIP (United States Forces in the Philippines). He occupied MacArthur's headquarters in Corregidor, and from there directed the gallant defense of Bataan. The brave Filipino and American defenders reeled before the smashing onslaughts of the invaders, but they held their ground and fought on with tenacious courage. "Bataan still stands!” proudly announced the VOICE OF FREE-

[p. 323]

DOM to the world. The VOICE was the radio station of the Fil-American defenders broadcasting daily within the safety of Malinta Tunnel, Corregidor.

By the time Wainwright took over the command of the USIP, the Philippines was the only Allied rampart in East Asia still resisting Japan's mighty hords. Hongkong, British fortified colony in China, had fallen on Christmas Day, 1941. Singapore greatest naval base of Great Britain in the Orient, surrendered on February 15, 1942. Three weeks later, Dutch East Indies fell. Only the Philippines fought on, delaying the enemy, and gave Australia more time to strengthen her defenses.

On April 3, 1942, Good Friday to the Christians and Jimmu Tenno-Sai (Commemoration Day of Emperor Jimmu) to the Japanese, General Homma unleashed the full fury of an all-out Japanese offensive in Bataan. Thousands of Japanese infantry men,

[black-and-white photograph of a group of cheering Japanese, climbing down a mountain, waving flags and weapons]

[Caption:] Fall of Bataan, April 9, 1942

Japanese soldiers shouting, "Bansai!"

supported by artillery barrages and tankfire power, pounded the Fil-American lines. Overhead the Wild Eagles, pride of Japan's air corps, soared and bombed the foxholes, hospitals, and ammunition dumps of Bataan. From the sea the enemy warships poured lethal shells on the defenders' positions. Bataan was doomed. The defenders, weakened by hunger, disease, and fatigue, fought fiercely, and many of them died as heroes. The crack divisions of Generals Lim and Capinpin were torn to bits, and all over the bloody peninsula of Bataan the enemy swarmed like a tidal wave.

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