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  • Could the Philippines be saved?

    On the same line as PhilipLaos's " Could Singapore have been successfully defended"

    Could the Philippines have been saved in 1942?

    I would think the best tactic would have been to pick a limited area and defend it. It would have probably been to much to defend the entire Philippine Island chain.

    But if the U.S. and its Philippine allies could hold onto one Island it would be a dagger pointed at the back of any Japanese move west.

    Luzon would have been the most threat to Japanese supplies coming out of Asia, Indonesia and Malaya. But Luzon would probably would be the hardest to defend.

    Mindanao may have been easier to defend, being closer to Australia and farther from Japan.

    Is there any chance the U.S. if it committed ALL the resources it could to defending a limited area of the Philippines in 1942 could have held on to that area?
    "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it" Beatrice Evelyn Hall
    Updated for the 21st century... except if you are criticizing islam, that scares the $hii+e out of me!

  • #2
    The PI could have held out longer, but without the Pacific Fleet coming to rescue, it was just a matter of time.

    Bataan could have been prepared better. They had been holding maneuvers for years around Mount Natib. They could have hacked some trails to the top and set up defenses. They also could have built some hardened depots on Bataan for food and medical supplies. They should have put that food and storage on Bataan! The 26th Cavalry (Philippine Scouts) could have been expanded to a three battalion, 12 Troop force. The Philippine Division could have been filled to TOE and NOT been levied for Officers and Enlisted men to lead Philippine Army units. The tanks could have been serviced and put ready to action on arrival, not put into storage. The Air Force should have been posted out of range of Formosa. Lastly, the reinforcements and equipment designated for the PI should have come in 1940, not been scheduled for delivery in 1941-2.

    It would have also helped if they had changed the Peacetime Garrison routine for a wartime, training in the field. Finally send Mrs MacArthur, the kid and the Amah home when the other dependents were sent home.

    Pruitt
    Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

    Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

    by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"

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    • #3
      Originally posted by 17thfabn View Post
      On the same line as PhilipLaos's " Could Singapore have been successfully defended"

      Could the Philippines have been saved in 1942?

      I would think the best tactic would have been to pick a limited area and defend it. It would have probably been to much to defend the entire Philippine Island chain.

      But if the U.S. and its Philippine allies could hold onto one Island it would be a dagger pointed at the back of any Japanese move west.

      Luzon would have been the most threat to Japanese supplies coming out of Asia, Indonesia and Malaya. But Luzon would probably would be the hardest to defend.

      Mindanao may have been easier to defend, being closer to Australia and farther from Japan.

      Is there any chance the U.S. if it committed ALL the resources it could to defending a limited area of the Philippines in 1942 could have held on to that area?
      In a word, no. Theoretically, had the US started building up their ground and air forces in the PI a year earlier, while MacArthur was at the same time training the new 10 division strong Filippino Army of trainees and constructing the badly needed military infrastructure of air bases throughout the islands, they might have had a better chance. It wasn't the Japanese who beat the USAFFE forces on Luzon, it was prolonged starvation and disease brought about by the long, disasterous siege of Bataan that eventually spelled their doom. The Japanese never had superior numbers of soldiers on Luzon until just before the final attack on Bataan. It was quite the opposite before this. During the siege of Bataan, Japanese General Homma's men suffered the same problems of jungle borne diseases and lack of food as the Filippino-American forces did. At one point in early March, 1942, the disease ridden Japanese Army had only three battalions of healthy troops facing the USAFFE forces on Bataan. Had Wainwright's troops attacked them then, they could have temporarily raised and broken the siege, but to what end?.

      The biggest problem with the Philippines was its geographic location. It was far too deep in the Japanese sphere of military influence, surrounded on three sides by hostile island chains and too far away from friendly bases of support. Once the Dutch East Indies fell into Japanese hands in early 1942, the absolutely crucial land and sea supply routes with Australia were effectively severed. Mindanao, while being closer to Australia was far more underdeveloped and primative in terms of its road nets and overall infrastructure. The bomber airfields at Del Monte were little more than grass airstrips recently carved out of the jungle. What MacArthur needed most was the time needed to sort out the endless problems of getting his men fully trained, equipped and ready for war and the badly needed military equipment delivered, along with additional cadres of US fighting men, combat engineers and their heavy equipment delivered into the Philippines before the Japanese attacked. MacArthur and the US War Department believed the Japanese would not attack until after April, 1942, at the end of the monsoon season. The US timetable of military deliveries of supplies and manpower was predicated upon this fact. Had the Japanese waited until April 1942 to attack, they would have found the Philippines far stronger, better equipped and a much tougher nut for them to crack. By then, there would have been over 200 B-17 bombers, not to mention hundreds of medium and light bombers and several hundred fighter planes in the islands.
      "Profanity is but a linguistic crutch for illiterate motherbleepers"

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Pruitt View Post
        The PI could have held out longer, but without the Pacific Fleet coming to rescue, it was just a matter of time.

        Bataan could have been prepared better. They had been holding maneuvers for years around Mount Natib. They could have hacked some trails to the top and set up defenses. They also could have built some hardened depots on Bataan for food and medical supplies. They should have put that food and storage on Bataan! The 26th Cavalry (Philippine Scouts) could have been expanded to a three battalion, 12 Troop force. The Philippine Division could have been filled to TOE and NOT been levied for Officers and Enlisted men to lead Philippine Army units. The tanks could have been serviced and put ready to action on arrival, not put into storage. The Air Force should have been posted out of range of Formosa. Lastly, the reinforcements and equipment designated for the PI should have come in 1940, not been scheduled for delivery in 1941-2.

        Pruitt
        Agreed on all counts. The only reason Bataan had any foodstuffs delivered into the peninsula at all was because MacArthur's Quartermaster General Charles Drake, against orders, had started sending barge loads of food, fuel and ammunition both to Corregidor and Bataan well before MacArthur ever ordered War Plan Orange to be placed into effect. It was still far too little and far too late, given the time line. Entire warehouse complexes along Manila's waterfront that were packed full of canned civilian food were carried off by civilian looters after Manila was declared an "Open City" after Christmas 1941. Over a million bushels of rice from the Central Rice Depot at Cabanutuan were never sent into Bataan because of Filippino civilian laws prohibiting the shipment of rice from one province to another. That much rice could have fed MacArthur's troops at full rations until well into 1943. There are hundreds of other stories of equally criminal mismanagement and bad leadership. All of this simply resulted from the fog of war that takes place whenever a peacetime military becomes a wartime military entity with little time to make that change and acclimate itself.
        "Profanity is but a linguistic crutch for illiterate motherbleepers"

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        • #5
          Gents,... don't you think it was simply a case of the US not being any better prepared for the war when it came than Poland, Belgium, France or Britain. All kinds of things "could" have been done but what was "realistically possible" given the mind set of those involved and how they viewed any new conflict.

          Try the question again without recourse to hindsight.
          The Purist

          Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assault of thoughts on the unthinking - John Maynard Keynes.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by The Purist View Post
            Gents,... don't you think it was simply a case of the US not being any better prepared for the war when it came than Poland, Belgium, France or Britain. All kinds of things "could" have been done but what was "realistically possible" given the mind set of those involved and how they viewed any new conflict.

            Try the question again without recourse to hindsight.
            OK. In that light. No. Meaning, yes, you're right. Not prepared. No air power to mount a successful invasion from sea. No ships or aircraft carriers to do it with, and a laundry list of other higher priorities.
            Youthful Exuberance Is No Match For Old Age And Treachery.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by The Purist View Post
              Gents,... don't you think it was simply a case of the US not being any better prepared for the war when it came than Poland, Belgium, France or Britain. All kinds of things "could" have been done but what was "realistically possible" given the mind set of those involved and how they viewed any new conflict.

              Try the question again without recourse to hindsight.
              Don't forget that President Roosevelt efforts were effectively hamstrung by the extremely powerful US Isolationist Political Movement right up until the final weeks before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. FDR was also facing a re-election in 1940 and that election could have easily gone either way. It wasn't until early to mid 1941 that the US military started sending major air and ground reinforcements to the Philippines.

              Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, nearly everything that could have been done to bring relief supplies and succor to the Philippines was done. However, the US should have sent more of their much heavier and less useful pre-war fleet submarines like the Nautilus, Argonaught and etc. to run the Japanese blockade to bring food, 81mm mortar ammunition and medicine supplies from the island of Cebu to Luzon. Such large subs could easily haul over 100 tons of supplies with every trip to the beleaguered Bataan. The round trip could be made in a matter of days and could have extended the life of the Bataan garrison for several weeks, if not longer. Several US submarines did pursue this course, but a dozen or more of them engaged in this practice could have made a real difference in the life and health of the besieged garrison in terms of the length of the siege, until Cebu finally fell to the Japanese on 10 April, 1942,


              "Altogether, ten submarines made the effort to reach the Philippines. One, loaded with ammunition, had been sent out by Hart on King's instructions. Another, with a cargo of 3-inch antiaircraft ammunition, had left Hawaii on 12 January. MacArthur reported the safe arrive of these two submarines in February, the last one reaching the Islands from Hawaii on 3 February.[39] During that month three more submarines made the voyage to the Philippines: Swordfish arrived on the 19th and evacuated President Quezon; Sargo brought one million rounds of .30-caliber ammunition to Mindanao; and Permit sent to evacuate General MacArthur, took on instead torpedoes and naval personnel.

              The next month only two submarines reached the Islands. Seadragon, en route to patrol off the Indochina coast, was ordered to Cebu to carry a load of rations to Corregidor. Though she picked up 34 tons of rations and almost 12,000 gallons of petroleum, she was able to unload only one fifth of her cargo before being ordered out. Snapper, assigned the same mission, succeeded in unloading 46 tons of food and 29,000 gallons of diesel oil before leaving.

              The Swordfish made one more trip. Leaving Fremantle in Australia on 1 April with a cargo of 40 tons of food, she was diverted en route and after a short patrol returned to port and unloaded her cargo. Searaven left the same port a day after the Swordfish with 1,500 rounds of 3-inch antiaircraft ammunition, but was also diverted and failed to deliver any of the shells to Corregidor. The final trip was made at the beginning of May, when the Spearfish, on patrol off Lingayen Gulf, picked up twenty-five men and women, including twelve nurses, just before the surrender.[40] One other submarine from Hawaii attempted to reach Corregidor with a cargo of 100 tons of medical supplies but turned back when Bataan fell.
              The total effort by the submarines added only 53 tons of food to MacArthur's stores--enough for only one meal for two thirds of the men on Bataan--3,500 rounds of 3-inch antiaircraft ammunition, 37 tons of .50-caliber and 1,000,000 rounds of ,30-caliber ammunition, and about 30,000 gallons of diesel oil. In terms of results the effort seemed hardly worthwhile."
              "Profanity is but a linguistic crutch for illiterate motherbleepers"

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by 17thfabn View Post
                On the same line as PhilipLaos's " Could Singapore have been successfully defended"

                Could the Philippines have been saved in 1942?

                I would think the best tactic would have been to pick a limited area and defend it. It would have probably been to much to defend the entire Philippine Island chain.

                But if the U.S. and its Philippine allies could hold onto one Island it would be a dagger pointed at the back of any Japanese move west.

                Luzon would have been the most threat to Japanese supplies coming out of Asia, Indonesia and Malaya. But Luzon would probably would be the hardest to defend.

                Mindanao may have been easier to defend, being closer to Australia and farther from Japan.

                Is there any chance the U.S. if it committed ALL the resources it could to defending a limited area of the Philippines in 1942 could have held on to that area?
                The original US plan was to withdraw to Bataan and defind just the pennsula. There were depots with supplies, etc., built there for that purpose.
                With the US buildup that had started in mid 1941 and was to be complete by August 1942 (at least the initial stage) the Philippines would have had 2 US infantry divisions, 3 battalions of tanks (one of M3 mediums two M 3 light), two tank destroyer / sp artillery battalions, a number of independent battalions of artillery including several 155mm coast defense batteries, engineers, etc. In addition up to 10 Philippine army divisions would have existed with at least a third of these fully equipped and up to strength.
                In the air the USAAC would have more than doubled.
                The USN was going to send more subs, and more importantly newer fleet boats, along with more destroyers and a large number of PT boats to reinforce the Asianic Fleet.

                Had that plan been completed the Japanese invasion as originally occured would have failed.
                Even given the original forces if the US had withdrawn to Bataan immediately and dug in the Japanese would likely have failed and the US forces could have held out until mid to late 1942 when reinforcement would have been at least possible.
                As it was MacAuthur took it on himself to decide to try and defend all of Luzon with the available forces. Handicapping him most of all was a martinet of a CoS, Sutherland and a weak air commander in Brereton.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
                  The original US plan was to withdraw to Bataan and defind just the pennsula. There were depots with supplies, etc., built there for that purpose.
                  With the US buildup that had started in mid 1941 and was to be complete by August 1942 (at least the initial stage) the Philippines would have had 2 US infantry divisions, 3 battalions of tanks (one of M3 mediums two M 3 light), two tank destroyer / sp artillery battalions, a number of independent battalions of artillery including several 155mm coast defense batteries, engineers, etc. In addition up to 10 Philippine army divisions would have existed with at least a third of these fully equipped and up to strength.
                  In the air the USAAC would have more than doubled.
                  The USN was going to send more subs, and more importantly newer fleet boats, along with more destroyers and a large number of PT boats to reinforce the Asianic Fleet.

                  Had that plan been completed the Japanese invasion as originally occured would have failed.
                  Even given the original forces if the US had withdrawn to Bataan immediately and dug in the Japanese would likely have failed and the US forces could have held out until mid to late 1942 when reinforcement would have been at least possible.
                  As it was MacAuthur took it on himself to decide to try and defend all of Luzon with the available forces. Handicapping him most of all was a martinet of a CoS, Sutherland and a weak air commander in Brereton.
                  There was supposed to be one fully equipped US armored division consisting of three battalions of light M-3 Stuart tanks and an additional battalion of Grant-Lee medium tanks, plus all of their required TOE (Table of Organization and Equipment) of supporting vehicles and other units, all under the direct command of James R.N. Weaver sent to Luzon. General Wainwright said it correctly when he sent a message to back to the US saying. "If you just give me enough food supplies, plus one well trained US infantry division and enough fighter planes to keep the Zeros off my back, I'll drive the Japanese out of Luzon and back into the water."

                  The USN had already sent 29 mostly modern Fleet and older S-Boat submarines to the PI before the war, along with the required number of submarine tenders to service them. I'm not sure they would have sent any more of them, unless the war in the PI continued well into 1942.
                  "Profanity is but a linguistic crutch for illiterate motherbleepers"

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by The Purist View Post
                    Gents,... don't you think it was simply a case of the US not being any better prepared for the war when it came than Poland, Belgium, France or Britain. ....
                    Sure, but the devil is in the details, and there is not much educational value in "they were unprepared" as begaining, middle, and end.

                    Originally posted by johnbryan View Post
                    Agreed on all counts. The only reason Bataan had any foodstuffs delivered into the peninsula at all was because MacArthur's Quartermaster General Charles Drake, against orders, had started sending barge loads of food, fuel and ammunition both to Corregidor and Bataan well before MacArthur ever ordered War Plan Orange to be placed into effect. It was still far too little and far too late, given the time line.
                    One of the generally overlooked aspects is the undertrained US/Phillipine Army was holding on half rations. Even with the commitment of a fresh infantry division a sucessfull April offensive is not a given if the defenders had been properly fed and medically supplied.

                    The trick is even if they are still standing in December 1942 there is still no final victory. By that point the USN was down to a pair of beat up carriers, had a wholly inadaquate cargo fleet in the PTO to support a long distance offensive, and the components for a seabourne offensive were not yet properly assembled in the Pacific. A look at the Cartwheel operations of early 1943 suggest just how limited the US offensive capability was in the PTO. The real question is 'how can the Phillipines (Battan) hold out eighteen months or more. Which crosses over into ASB territory.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by johnbryan View Post
                      Don't forget that President Roosevelt efforts were effectively hamstrung by the extremely powerful US Isolationist Political Movement right up until the final weeks before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. FDR was also facing a re-election in 1940 and that election could have easily gone either way. It wasn't until early to mid 1941 that the US military started sending major air and ground reinforcements to the Philippines.
                      Nice summary of the submarine resupply missions.

                      The isolationists were unable to prevent the passing of the War Powers Acts in the panic after France collapsed, or stop the US Army mobilization started in latter 1940, or slow the USN expansion that was taking off in 1940. The failure to reinforce the Phillipines earlier had more to do with the old Orange war plans that did not contemplate any serious defense of PI. That was supplemented by the conflicting decisions concerning the early mobilization of 1940 and winter of 1941. It is possible that without MacArthurs influence the defense of PI would have remained at its 1939 level, with a understrength US division and a small training cadre for the PI Army.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Carl Schwamberg View Post
                        Sure, but the devil is in the details, and there is not much educational value in "they were unprepared" as begaining, middle, and end.



                        One of the generally overlooked aspects is the undertrained US/Phillipine Army was holding on half rations. Even with the commitment of a fresh infantry division a sucessfull April offensive is not a given if the defenders had been properly fed and medically supplied.

                        The trick is even if they are still standing in December 1942 there is still no final victory. By that point the USN was down to a pair of beat up carriers, had a wholly inadaquate cargo fleet in the PTO to support a long distance offensive, and the components for a seabourne offensive were not yet properly assembled in the Pacific. A look at the Cartwheel operations of early 1943 suggest just how limited the US offensive capability was in the PTO. The real question is 'how can the Phillipines (Battan) hold out eighteen months or more. Which crosses over into ASB territory.
                        The problem for the Japanese is that by Mid 1942 the Japanese are no longer capable of really effective offensive action. The units they had in the Philippines would have been reduced to near combat ineffectiveness through casualties and would have required rebuilding just to maintan a siege if US / Fillipino troops were still holding out even on short rations etc.

                        This means their offensive plans for New Guinea and the Solomons would have had to be put on hold to reinforce the Philippines in a push for final victory. That alone would make a big difference for the Allied forces. No Kokoda Trail, no Buna, the Australians could have taken all of New Guniea without a fight.
                        The Solomons slog is avoided.

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                        • #13
                          If there were depots on Bataan set up, they certainly waited too long to start moving food into them. Too much food was kept in Manila. We sent empty trucks through Manila to go to Bataan.

                          There would have been a problem with the Philippine Army. MacArthur was calling up one division at a time to conduct 6 months of training, before discharge back to their home. This is one reason why some divisions did well and some ran. Most the Divisions did not have a trained cadre to show them how to operate heavy weapons, let alone Artillery and Signals.

                          I believe the 41st Infantry Division was tabbed for dispatch to the PI. This was a National Guard Division and I doubt they had been shaken down as yet. Units were called up understaffed and many Officers and NCO's were too old or unhealthy and they were replaced.

                          Some men seconded to the Philippine Army from the Regular Army units there were also with less than a year in the service!

                          The Navy China Squadron picked up and moved to the PI when Japan was threatening their base. They formed the backbone of the sea defense in the first six months.

                          The Coastal Defense Forts around Manila Bay were fully stocked with food and supplies. It was a command decision to leave the good US Army rations there and let the troops on Bataan get by on what they had.

                          Pruitt
                          Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

                          Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

                          by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Pruitt View Post
                            If there were depots on Bataan set up, they certainly waited too long to start moving food into them. Too much food was kept in Manila. We sent empty trucks through Manila to go to Bataan.

                            There would have been a problem with the Philippine Army. MacArthur was calling up one division at a time to conduct 6 months of training, before discharge back to their home. This is one reason why some divisions did well and some ran. Most the Divisions did not have a trained cadre to show them how to operate heavy weapons, let alone Artillery and Signals.

                            I believe the 41st Infantry Division was tabbed for dispatch to the PI. This was a National Guard Division and I doubt they had been shaken down as yet. Units were called up understaffed and many Officers and NCO's were too old or unhealthy and they were replaced.

                            Some men seconded to the Philippine Army from the Regular Army units there were also with less than a year in the service!

                            The Navy China Squadron picked up and moved to the PI when Japan was threatening their base. They formed the backbone of the sea defense in the first six months.

                            The Coastal Defense Forts around Manila Bay were fully stocked with food and supplies. It was a command decision to leave the good US Army rations there and let the troops on Bataan get by on what they had.

                            Pruitt
                            The second division that was supposed to go to the PI was the 25th ID formed when the Hawaii Division was split.
                            Units from the Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico National Guard were being trained to move there as well (a few actually were there from the TNG). The armored units were all regular army ones as were to be the coast defense battalions. A shipment of 240mm guns was at Hawaii when the war broke out and those ended up emplaced there instead of in the Philippines.

                            Had the US gotten their full mobilization to August 1942 done the Japanese would have lost, of that I have no doubts whatsoever. They almost ended in a stalemate as it was.

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                            • #15
                              With the turmoil caused when the Army stripped all Japanese-Americans out of the two Hawaiian National Guard Divisions, it was a while before the 25th Division could get the 161st Infantry Regiment to replace the 298th IR. They also had to wait for the 27th Infantry Division (NYNG) to get there to take its place. They may have stripped the 24th Infantry Division to get the 25th ready to ship out. I don't think the 24th saw combat until 1944!

                              Would the Army have shipped the 25th with all its Niseii before Pearl Harbor? We will never know. The 161st was on the schedule to go to the PI where they would have been broken up as filler for the Philippine Division and Philippine Army.

                              The New Mexico National Guard 200th Coastal Artillery Regiment (actually AAA by then) arrived and served in Manila. A Texas 75mm Artillery regiment was at sea heading for the PI when pearl Harbor happened. they went to Australia and was split into two Artillery Battalions. One was lost on Java! I can't really say who the Arizona contingent was. The 158th Infantry Regiment did not get to Australia until 1943 and first saw combat in December, 1943. It served as a Regimental Combat Team.

                              Actually the Tank Battalions were activated National Guard Companies. Each NG Division had one such Company. Two of the Light Battalions arrived. The Medium Battalion did not go and ended up fighting in Europe as an independent Tank Battalion.

                              Pruitt
                              Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

                              Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

                              by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"

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