Bataan-Corregidor Campaign

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BATAAN-CORREGIDOR CAMPAIGN. A few hours after the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor (7 December 1941), Japanese air units from Taiwan attacked Clark Field to destroy the backbone of American air power in the Philippines. Major landings by Lieutenant General Masaharu Homma's Fourteenth Army on Manila on 22 and 24 December caught defending forces under General Douglas MacArthur in a trap, forcing a retreat to the Bataan peninsula. When the Japanese attacked on 7 January 1942, MacArthur's largely Filipino reservist army, backed up by a division of American and Filipino Scout regulars, retreated to a secondary line and then held, inflicting heavy losses.

By February, MacArthur's men were gravely short of food, quinine to combat malaria, and supplies of all sorts. A tight Japanese blockade had isolated the Philippines. In early March, at President Franklin D. Roosevelt's order, MacArthur slipped through the blockade by PT boat to escape to Australia. Homma attacked again on 3 April and quickly cut through the starving defenders. On 9 April 1942 Bataan surrendered; 79,500 men laid down their arms; and many hundreds perished afterward from weakness and brutal treatment by guards on the infamous death march to prison camps in central Luzon.

Corregidor, a fortress island in Manila Bay, held out for three weeks more under MacArthur's former subordinate, General Jonathan M. Wainwright. Japanese artillery and aircraft bombarded the island, forcing thousands to take shelter in tunnels, including the famous Malinta Tunnel, which contained the headquarters, hospital, and nurses' quarters. The Japanese Fourth Division troops broke through on 5 May, inducing Wainwright to surrender the 16,000 defenders the next day. After the war Homma was tried as a war criminal in Manila and executed.


Belote, James H., and William M. Belote. Corregidor: The Saga of a Fortress. New York: Harper and Row, 1967.

Falk, Stanley. Bataan: The March of Death. New York: Norton, 1962.

Knox, Donald. Death March: The Survivors of Bataan. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1981.

Morris, Eric. Corregidor: The End of the Line. New York: Stein and Day, 1981.

James H.Belote

William M.Belote

See alsoAtrocities in War ; Philippines .