This is a story of betrayal of soldiers by their commander General Douglas MacArthur and the American government.

Text and Web-site by James Bowen.
Updated 7 October 2009

Although General Douglas MacArthur was informed of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor nine hours before Japanese bombers struck at the Philippines, the commander of the United States Army and Air forces in the Philippines was paralysed by indecision and failed to bring his command to a state of readiness to meet the clear threat of a Japanese attack. His air power was destroyed on the ground by Japanese bombers. With no air support, the United States Asiatic Fleet was forced to withdraw from Philippine waters. The inexcusable neglect of his duty by MacArthur compromised the defence of the Philippines from the first day. His troops were left in a hopeless position without air or naval support. Although many would believe that he deserved to be removed from command for grave neglect of duty, MacArthur was able to arrange for the President of the United States to transfer him to a new command in Australia before his exhausted and starving troops were forced to surrender to the Japanese. When safe in Australia with his staff officers, MacArthur refused to allow his abandoned troops to surrender, and ordered them to fight to the end. This section of the Pacific War web-site explains how a general, who many would view as unworthy, was able to assume control of Australia's defence in 1942.

Japanese troops scream "Banzai". They have conquered the Philippines and will now
take their revenge on the American and Philippine troops who resisted them for so long.

Index to the Battle of the Philippines:

Strategic Overview

The United States equips the Philippines to resist a Japanese attack

The Japanese Attack finds General MacArthur unprepared

The Siege of Bataan and Corregidor

MacArthur abandons his troops and escapes to Australia

The Fall of Bataan and Corregidor

The Japanese take their Revenge on their Prisoners

Historical Source materials



by Mary Cronk Farrell

Pure Grit: How American World War II Nurses survived Battle and Prison Camp in the Pacific

In the early 1940s, young women enlisted for peacetime duty as U.S. Army nurses. But when the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 blasted the United States into World War II, 101 American Army and Navy nurses serving in the Philippines were suddenly treating wounded and dying soldiers while bombs exploded all around them. The women served in jerry-rigged jungle hospitals on the Bataan Peninsula and in underground tunnels on Corregidor Island. Later, when most of them were captured by the Japanese as prisoners of war, they suffered disease and near-starvation for three years. Pure Grit is a story of sisterhood and suffering, of tragedy and betrayal, of death and life. The women cared for one another, maintained discipline, and honored their vocation to nurse anyone in need—all 101 coming home alive. The book is illustrated with archival photographs and includes an index, glossary, and timeline.

Learn more about the author and this important story of American nurses in the Pacific War at her website: http://www.marycronkfarrell.net/