ONLINE CATALOG SEARCH

Documents

Ordeal and Hope – Chapter 11 – Pacific Ordeal

   
Publisher: The George C. Marshall Foundation



Twenty-four hours after the first planes left the Japanese carriers off Oahu, General Marshall’s plans and hopes came to grief along with the Pacific Fleet. The way was opened for Japanese expansion to the south, Hawaii’s safety could no longer be assumed, the west coast of the United States appeared vulnerable, and the means to send immediate aid to the Philippines ceased to exist. The nation fell back on a generation-old concept of leaving the garrison to fight a last-ditch stand. But the script differed from the assumptions of the 1920s and the 1930s. Instead of being able to sail with troops and supplies at the start of the conflict, the fleet had to dress its own grievous wounds.

Marshall’s hopes and MacArthur’s plans for defending the Philippines were also smashed. They foundered on the Navy’s losses, the lack of air strength in the Islands, and the ineffectiveness of the defense force MacArthur had been building since 1935. Hampered by insufficient funds, lack of weapons, and poorly trained men, the Far East commander had to depend mainly on the force of United States Regulars he had inherited from General Grunert. As that officer had predicted shortly before he left Manila for home, the Philippine Army was not yet prepared for a trial of strength.

The blow was doubly hard to General Marshall because his chief efforts in the weeks before Pearl Harbor had been spent in strengthening the defenses of the Islands. No less than MacArthur, the Chief of Staff had emotional ties to the Philippines. He had many good friends among the defenders and a commander’s pride in saving the members of a brave garrison from defeat and capture. His first thought on reading the intercepted Japanese messages on


233

the morning of December was to get a prompt warning to MacArthur.

Like his message to Short, Marshall’s wire to,the Far East commander was delayed for several hours. As a result General MacArthur received his first news of the attack on Pearl Harbor by commercial radio at about 3 a.m. Manila time (December 8). The Chief of Staff’s initial warning and official announcement that hostilities had begun arrived two or three hours later. Still later, but several hours before the Japanese attacked Clark Field, General Gerow talked to the Far East commander by telephone.

Writing in 1964, General MacArthur recalled he was himself attacked, he knew only that Pearl bombed and was under the impression that the Japanese had possibly suffered a setback. A record of his conversation with the War Department shows that General Gerow reported that considerable damage had been done to planes and installations in Hawaii and that he “wouldn’t be surprised if you get an attack there in the near future.” General Arnold also definitely warned General Brereton to expect an air attack.

In announcing the commencement of hostilities General Marshall directed General MacArthur and other commanders in the Pacific to put into effect RAINBOW 5, a plan that included air raids against Japanese forces within tactical operating range of available bases. Inasmuch as this wire arrived several hours before the Japanese attack, it should have removed any doubts that the Far East commander had about freedom to act. In fact the message of November 27, while warning MacArthur against committing an overt act of hostility, had specifically added, “This policy should not, repeat not, be construed as restricting you to a course of action that might jeopardize the successful defense of the Philippines. Prior to hostile Japanese action you are directed to take such reconnaissance and other measures as you deem necessary.”

Heated and highly contradictory statements by air and ground officers in the Philippines have obscured the precise orders given at Manila for dispersion of aircraft, an attack on Formosa, or defense of Clark Field. T h e Far East commander and his staff have also insisted that the planes available were so few in number as to be relatively unimportant in Philippine defense. Whatever their worth, the Japanese caught and destroyed half of them on the


234

ground, permitting enemy plan the Philippines almost at will. The point that nagged at both General Marshall and General Arnold was that the destruction came nine hours after clear warning was given. Meeting Robert Sherrod of Time two weeks later, General Marshall declared: “It’s all clear to me now except one thing. I just don’t know how MaArthur happened to let his planes get caught on the ground.”

‘The twin disasters-and the one in the Philippines, while not as overpowering as the one at Pearl Harbor, was far more damaging than realized at the time-were the most staggering blows sustained by General Marshall in the course of the war. Hawaii, which he believed impregnable, seemed in imminent danger of invasion; the air organization on which he had staked his hopes of changing the balance of power in the Far East ceased to exist as an effective force a few hours after the opening attack. Yet those who talked with him then saw no signs that he was shaken. He was obviously surprised at the attack on Hawaii but otherwise showed no emotion during that period.

Marshall may have recalled Pershing’s statement that during the trying days of World War I he never allowed himself to appear worried or gloomy lest it discourage his staff. But he could not hide his feelings from Mrs. Marshall. That evening she noticed a grayness of expression that she had seen formerly only when he was extremely depressed. Withdrawn and silent, Marshall made no mention of the tragedy and encouraged no talk as he went to his bedroom. Recognizing the evidence of great inner tension and unable to think of anything she could say to help, Mrs. Marshall wrote later, “I passed his door and went into my room.’’

If Marshall and those with whom he worked in Washington were self-possessed, most of the nation was not. The west coast was in a ferment of fear and rumor. Japanese were reported off the coast; innocent speculations were magnified into wild fantasies. Requests poured in on the President and War Department for more troops and anti-aircraft artillery to defend the cities of the Pacific Coast!

The heavy losses at Pearl Harbor created bewilderment and anger among a people unaccustomed to defeat. Harsh charges, subsequently discredited, soon circulated that officers and crews were drunk, that Kimmel and Short scarcely spoke, and that sabotage by


235

the Japanese on Oahu was widespread. To clear up the situation the President dispatched Secretary Knox to Honolulu. General Marshall sent Colonel Charles W. Bundy, chief of the plans group of the War Plans Division, to check into the Army side of the attack. His death in a plane crash en route to Hawaii forced the War Department to rely entirely on Knox’s report.

On Knox’s return to Washington in mid-December he stopped first to talk with Secretary Stimson before reporting to the President. The two Cabinet members agreed that both the Army and Navy had been remiss and that they must avoid recrimination and insist on inflexible responsibility and punishment. Apparently on the basis of Secretary Knox’s report, the President directed that both Kimmel and Short be relieved. The two officers were replaced officially on December 17 – Short by Lieutenant General Delos C. Emmons and Kimmel by Admiral Chester W. Nimitz-and were returned to the United States to await further orders. Several weeks later they were permitted to retire, subject to possible court-martial proceedings after the war.

The relief of the Hawaiian commanders came during a period of tremendous confusion as leaders in Washington tried to brace their outposts against further attack and to lay down a course of effective action for the future. The uncertainty remaining as to Japanese intentions and the whereabouts of the enemy fleet stymied initial efforts to reinforce Hawaii and the Philippines. Naval officials responded warily to General Marshall’s proposals to rush planes and men to Oahu, as they checked on reports that Japanese ships were headed for the Panama Canal and the west coast of the United States. In the Far East, Admiral Hart concluded that his squadron must withdraw from the Philippine area-a decision firmly opposed by MacArthur as denying him the use of submarines against invading transports.

In a meeting of the Joint Board on December io the Navy representatives strongly insisted that the Pensacola convoy, bound for the Philippines with planes, men, and supplies, be returned to Hawaii. Reluctantly General Marshall went along with the recommendation. Next day he was “much relieved’’ when the President’s
opposition to the plan made it possible to reverse the decision. Although the situation in the .Philippines was still too uncertain to permit the ships to continue to their original destination, they


236

were diverted to northern Australia in the hope that their cargoes could later be sent to Manila.

Aware that the threat to the Philippines grew hourly, Secretary Stimson and General Marshall sought hard for something they could send to MacArthur by air or by sea before the Japanese blockaded the islands. They met many obstacles, the Secretary grumbled, “particularly because the Navy has been rather shaken and panic-stricken after the catastrophe at Hawaii.”

Having spent nearly ten years abroad-seven and one-half years in the Far East-Marshall was deeply moved by the plight of a  garrison, beset by a strong enemy force, halfway around the world from home. As a lieutenant in 19o2 in south Mindoro, where only one ship a month came to preserve contact with the outside world, he recalled that a delay in arrival of mail and supplies suggested that officers taking their ease in Manila were uninterested in the fate of the tiny garrison. He realized that men in the Far East might think the same of officials in Washington. He worried aloud in his morning conference about the unpleasantness of having to inform MacArthur “in the midst of a very trying situation that his convoy had to be turned back,” and he told his staff that he wanted to send some news “which would buck General MacArthur up.”

In their frustration, it is clear why Stimson, arshall, and MacArthur blamed the Navy for some of their problems. MacArthur’s feelings were so strong that he still claimed near the end of his life that the Navy “might well have cut through” the Japanese blockade with planes and suppli_es. In retrospect, it is difficult to question the Navyls reluctance to send out the bulk of its fighting strength nearly 5,000 miles away from the base at Pearl Harbor when the safety of the Hawaiian Islands was still in question. As  the sole effective protecting force of the west coast and of the American position in the eastern Pacific, the Navy had excellent grounds for opposing a move through Japanese-dominated waters to an area where the enemy had absolute air superiority. Any doubts about the deadly menace of Japan’s air strength should have been dissipated on December 10 when the British warships, Prince of Wales and Repulse, recently sent out to Singapore to strengthen that base, were sent to the bottom of the sea after an air attack that lasted for only two hours.

If Marshall could have started a relief expedition to the Philip


237

pines the day after the attack it might have evaded enemy ships. That opportunity was lost when the Pensacola convoy was diverted to Australia. Every day that passed intensified the danger. The Navy’s inability to set a date when it could reasonably undertake the task asked of it by the Army settled the fate of the Philippines. But RlacArthur’s dogged determination, demands of an outraged American public, and the intense desire of Roosevelt, Stimson, and Marshall to get assistance through to the embattled garrison kept hope alive for another two months.

Aiding Marshall at the most frenzied period of the crisis was a fifty-two-year-old brigadier general, Dwight D. Eisenhower, who had served for six years with General MacArthur in Washington and the Philippines. As a member of the Philippine Mission, 1935-38, he knew better than any other Army officer in the War Department the state of MacArthur’s defending force and the nature of his needs.

Marshall had first met and been favorably impressed by this unassuming, friendly Kansan in 1930, when he had talked with him in the office of the American Battle Monuments Commission in Washington. He ended by inviting the young officer to join his staff at Fort Benning. Although another assignment made it impossible for him to accept, Eisenhower won a favorable entry in Marshall’s little Black Book and his name was listed with those of Bradley, Patton, Hodges, and Clark as available for service when leaders should be needed. T h e two men met only once more, briefly during maneuvers, before Mashall summoned Eisenhower to Washington. Undoubtedly the Chief of Staff had been impressed by General Krueger’s list of the officer’s strong points and by his service as Third Army Chief of Staff in recent maneuvers. It seems likely that Eisenhower had been strongly boosted by his West Point classmate, General Clark, and his former classmate at Fort
Leavenworth, General Gerow, head of the War Plans Division in which the new officer was to serve. Gerow was aware that his friend had been number one at the Command and General Staff School and had an excellent record as a staff officer.

The new general was only one of several top men Marshall brought into the War Department in the first few weeks of war to  take from his shoulders some of the burdens he had been bearing alone. Even before Pearl Harbor, Stimson and Hopkins had be-


238

come concerned about the duties the Chief of Staff was handling personally. On December 111 the Secretary of War had a long talk with General Marshall about the need of giving him additional help for his staggering task. The Chief of Staff, Stimson recorded, was called on for everything from answers to strategic questions to the details of organizing the American Army for training. “I told him that it was more important that his life and brain should be kept going, than anything else that I[ could see on the horizon.”

Eisenhower arrived by train at Union Station in Washington early Sunday morning, a week after the Pearl Harbor attack. A few hours later he was seated in Marshall’s office in the Munitions Building. Quickly the Chief of Staff outlined the desperate situation in the Pacific. Although the Navy’s carriers, which had been
away from Pearl Harbor at the time of the attack, were intact, the remainder of the Pacific Fleet would not be ready for months to play a part in Far Eastern operations. Hawaii desperately needed additional air and ground strength. The Philippines Air Force had been hard hit, although it was not known at the time just how badly. The question then was what to do.

After describing the seriousness of the situation in some detail Marshall suddenly asked, “What should be our general line of action?” It was a large order to dump in the lap of an officer who had just arrived. Wishing to give a careful judgment, Eisenhower replied, “Give me a few hours.” Marshall dismissed him with a simple “All right” and turned to his next item of business.

Marshall had already settled on his basic policy. Before meeting with Eisenhower that morning he had discussed with Stimson the problem in the Far East. They were alarmed by messages from General MacArthur indicating that Admiral Hart, commander of the Asiatic Fleet, had virtually told him that the Philippines were doomed instead of doing his best to keep the lifelines open. Marshall agreed with Stimson “that we could not give up the Philippines in that way.”

That afternoon Marshall traveled out to Walter Reed Hospital on one of his customary visits to his former chief, General Pershing, to bring him u p to date on current developments. On the way home he stopped at Woodley to ask Stimson the outcome of the Secretary’s visit to the White House earlier in the day. The Chief of Staff was “much relieved” to find that Roosevelt sup-


239

ported their position against the Navy. The President had told Assistant Secretary of Navy James Forrestal that they were going to help the Philippines.

Meanwhile General Eisenhower had examined the alternatives in the Pacific. After a short study of the situation he returned to report that major reinforcements could not be sent to the Philippines for a long time, “longer than the garrison can hold out with any driblet assistance, if the enemy commits major forces to their reduction.” Nevertheless he believed it necessary to do everything  humanly possible. General Marshall nodded agreement. “His tone implied that I had been given the problem as a check to an answer he had already reached,” Eisenhower recalled. Underlining the gravity of the situation, the Chief of Staff said quietly, “Do your best to save them.”

In their efforts to apply maximum pressure on the enemy MacArthur, Roosevelt, and Marshall proposed that Russia launch an immediate attack on Japan.16 President Roosevel t specifically invited Marshal Stalin to call an Allied conference in Moscow to discuss possible joint action. Hard-pressed by the Germans, the Russian leader indicated that he preferred to wait until spring before making a decision. On studying Stalin’s reply, General Marshall agreed with Admiral Stark that it was best not to press the Russians.  They found a similar reaction in London.

War Department leaders wanted to provide bases at Vladivostok and in the Maritime Provinces from which the Allies could launch air attacks against Japan. Fearing retaliatory raids, Stalin also denied these requests. I n later years critics of the administration accused Roosevelt of softness and lack of political realism for failing to use his control over Lend-Lease supplies to force the Russians to meet United States demands. At a time when it appeared that the United States might have to divert supplies and planes earmarked for the Russians to other parts of the globe, it did not seem wise to raise that issue. Lest the Germans turn their full fury of their attack on the British Isles and intensify their effort in the Middle East, the British also strongly opposed any measure that might lead to a weakening of Russian resistance to the Germans.

The debate over use of pressure to force the Russians into the  war is part of a larger argument that includes two hardy questions: “Why didn’t the United States let Germany and the Soviet Union


240

kill each other off?” “Why did the United States permit the balance of power to be destroyed in Europe and the Far East?”   The argument assumes that the United States in 1942 was free to follow a course of Realpolztik in its relations with the totalitarian powers. Ideologically it was difficult to choose between Nazism and Communism. Militarily, the choice was simple. A beleaguered Soviet force faced a German war machine that held all Europe between the Atlantic and the gates of Moscow and Leningrad and threatened British control of the Middle East and the Mediterqanean. At the beginning of 1942 Marshall’s intelligence advisers still doubted if the Russians could last through the rest of the winter. With his forces beset by the Japanese in the Pacific, the General was content to follow the British policy of sustaining the only power then capable of engaging the Germans on the Continent of Europe. Even if he had held the power of political decision, the Chief of Staff would have hesitated at a time of fearful peril for the West to disturb the delicate equilibrium by which a severely mangled Soviet Army managed to fight off an enemy that had already-penetrated deep into Russian territory.

Manila stepped up its demands for aid. As the Japanese swarmed ashore on various islands, including Luzon, during the first two weeks of fighting, High Commissioner Sayre and General MacArthur warned the President and General Marshall of growing Filipino discontent. Belatedly Washington realized that what military planners had considered to be a question at most of rescuing a garrison had now become a political problem of saving a people. Bound to the Philippines through strong emotional ties, General MacArthur sternly reminded Washington of American political obligations to its inhabitants.

Arguing that the Japanese blockade of the Islands was paper thin, the Far East commander demanded that the Navy bring in reinforcements. Failing this, he proposed that commercial ships be chartered to run supplies to his troops through enemy-controlled waters and that planes be flown in from British or Dutch bases.  These expedients had already been considered by Marshall and Eisenhower, who were speedily building u p supply depots in Australia from which shipments might be made to the Philippines.

In war, fortune seldom favors the weak and usually coldly spurns those who must have all the breaks to win. Just as an underdog


241

athletic team frequently succumbs to simple errors and misplays, so a military force on the defensive often attracts calamity. Planes turned back at the outbreak of war from the Philippines and then diverted to Australia, in the hope that they could be ferried to MacArthur, arrived just before Christmas. An unfortunate error in unpacking prevented them from being flown to the Philippines. The solenoids, essential to the proper functioning of the firing mechanism, had been thrown away with the crates to which they were attached. Unwilling to risk pilots in planes whose guns would not shoot, American officials left the aircraft on the docks while frantic cables went back to Washington for spare parts. Stimson, for whom the great jumble of new military terms was sometimes overwhelming, exploded to Assistant Secretary of War Lovett: “They have a name that sounds like a bad word. They are some kind of an ‘oid’-they remind me of a bad word-something like
hemorrhoids.”

In time additional parts came by air and by ship, enough to outfit the planes three times over, but the slim chance that had existed of getting them to MacArthur had gone. They were not useless; the bombers played a crucial role in the early battle for the South- west Pacific. Given the situation in Luzon, they might have vanished as quickly as the planes at Clark Field. But to the defenders of Manila, and to General Marshall desperately longing to send something to the Philippines, fortune seemed never to favor the hard-pressed.

Marshall quickly followed up the original shipment of aircraft with fifty-five pursuit planes in the Polk and seventy in the Coolidge. Both ships sailed for Australia before Christmas. The senior officer with the initial convoy, Brigadier General Julian F. Barnes, was designated temporary commander of U. S. Forces in Australia
and directed to make every effort to get the planes to the Philippines. Ih an unusual burst of prodigality the War Department gave him “unlimited credit from the Treasury” to speed the planes to their destination. T h e week before Christmas, Marshall notified MacArthur that fifteen B-24 heavy bombers were being diverted from their original destination to the Southwest Pacific in the hope that they might reach Manila.

Help was on the way, but the tightening of the Japanese blockade around the Philippines made the possibility of its getting


242

through increasingly unlikely. General Marshall tried another tack. Appointing Major General George H. Brett, an outstanding airman then in the Far East, as commander of United States Forces in Australia, the Chief of Staff ordered a build-up in Australia and the Philippines of a sixty-day allotment of supplies of all categories, giving “highest priority” to accumulating and forwarding provisions requested by the Far East commander. He authorized Brett to purchase locally any items that were available, allotting 10 million dollars from special funds and promising more cash when needed.

As far as credit, cash, directives, and grants of broad authority could go toward providing assistance in the critical period after Pearl Harbor, the Chief of Staff went, in his strenuous efforts to move planes, ammunition, and supplies to MacArthur. In those dreary December days he failed not for lack of overriding interest
in the fate of the Philippines, but for lack of ships to run supplies through the Japanese blockade and inability to fly planes through enemy-dominated skies. Washington’s encouraging cables to Manila listing the weapons and equipment intended for the Philippines raised the hopes and expectations of MacArthur and his staff. When the reinforcements did not arrive some of them charged the President and Chief of Staff with indifference to their fate. Later they accused them of cruel deception.

Clutching at any means to fill the Far East commander’s requests, General Marshall explored MacArthur’s proposal for using carriers to take planes to the Islands. Two days before Christmas, Admiral Stark dispelled this illusion of holiday cheer. He ruled impracticable under the existing strategic situation the diversion of these ships from their proper combat functions. This decision left the Army with the staggering task of securing commercial ships in Australia for blockade running. General Marshall handed the job to General Brett, reminding him that his primary mission was “forwarding vi tal equipment eo Philippines as expeditiously as  possible.”

In the midst of these trials the Chief of Staff wired that MacArthur had been promoted to four-star rank. The Far East commander, restored to the temporary grade he held as Chief of Staff and now second only to Marshall in rank in the Army, wryly recalled the remark of an old sergeant on another occasion,, “Thank  God, Captain, we’re holding our own.”


243

As late as December 2 8 Marshall and Arnold still saw a glimmer of hope for the Philippines. The Chief of Staff was pleased that MacArthur was not falling back as fast as his first reports indicated he might be forced to do; the Air Chief believed that once he got heavy bombers operating out of Borneo, he could cover both Saigon and the Philippines.

A close look at enemy progress could not have encouraged optimism. The initial Japanese landings were made on December 10 in northern Luzon-in the region over which Marshall and other members of Liggett’s staff had ridden horseback in 1916. A few days later the enemy came ashore in southeastern Luzon and was soon pushing toward Laguna de Bay-a name that recalled to the Chief of Staff his dismal days of guarding prisoners in 1903. Shortly before Christmas a Japanese force captured Davao in Mindanao in preparation for an early attaGk against Borneo to the south.

Although MacArthur’s forces outnumbered the enemy almost two to one during the period of the he was severely hampered by untrained and poorly equipped Reserves and the absence of air support. Before the first week of fighting had passed, the Far East commander made preparations to move the government and his headquarters to Corregidor and to declare Manila an open city. He made the transfer on a cheerless Christmas Eve; on the day after New Year’s the Japanese entered Manila without opposition.

From central and southern Luzon, the American commander pulled back his forces to the Bataan Peninsula, where he proposed to make a determined stand against the enemy. He handled his withdrawal skillfully, but he lacked time to bring into the restricted area many of the supplies stockpiled elsewhere. Within a few weeks his troops were on extremely short rations. As he concentrated his forces for a last-ditch defense he demanded more strenuous efforts of Washington. He urged the Chief of Staff to rush air and sea forces from Australia by way of Borneo and the Netherlands East Indies to establish a base in the southern Philippines.

In Washington, where the British and United States Chiefs of Staff had been meeting since Christmas Eve in the hope of finding a formula for dealing with German and Japanese threats, there was now firm agreement on holding the Malay barrier and Burma and Australia, but somewhat less emphasis on saving the Philippines.


244

Nonetheless President Woosevelt broadcast a cheerful, indefinite New Year’s message, which both American newspapers and officials in the Philippines accepted as promises of immediate aid. General Marshall wrote hopefully to MacArthur on January 4 that the rapid development of overwhelming airpower on the Malay barrier might cut Japanese communications south of Borneo and open the way to Allied attack on the enemy in the southern Philippines. This prospect became more remote hourly as the Japanese advanced.

Even, as Marshall sought to assure MacArthur of support, his War Department planners were outlining cogent reasons why he should not reinforce the Islands. Showing that half of the air force and the major part of the naval force needed for an effective effort would have to be transferred from other theaters, they concluded that a plan to drive from Australia northward would require an “unjustifiable diversion” of forces from the principal Allied theater in the Atlantic area.

Both strategy and logistics now worked against the Philippines. Yet Marshall continued to try desperate expedients to send some- thing to American and Filipino fighting men. Seizing on General MacArthur’s proposal that anti-aircraft ammunition be sent by submarine, the Chief of Staff persuaded the Navy to dispatch one northward with this cargo. He also made funds available to General Brereton, temporarily commanding ground and air forces in Australia, to hire commercial ships to make the dangerous run.

Marshall’s last major effort to speed supplies to the Philippines came near the end of January with the sending of Patrick J. Hurley to Australia to try his hand. A fiery Irishman from Oklahoma, known for a loquacity that forced even Winston Churchill to stop talking and listen, and for a pugnacity that had led him as a cabinet officer to stalk out of a congressional committee hearing when he felt that a senator had reflected on his veracity, Hurley had the persuasiveness, determination, and the touch of the pirate needed for the job. An officer in World War I, colonel in the Army Reserves, and Secretary of War under Herbert Hoover, Hurley had volunteered his services in a military capacity at the beginning of the war.  Soon afterward the President offered him the post of Minister to New Zealand. On Hurley’s insistence that he wanted military service, Roosevelt sent him over to see General Marshall.


245

“Hurley saw a message from MacArthur there, appealing for something a t Corregidor,” General Marshall recalled. “And he said, ‘If I can just help Doug.’ I said, ‘All right you can help him.’ ” The Chief of Staff proposed that Hurley accept the diplomatic appointment but go out first as a temporary brigadier general, repre-
senting the ‘Army in Australia. He was authorized funds in addition to those already given to the commander in Australia for the purpose of hiring ships to break the blockade of the Philippines. Lest the ebullient Hurley talk too much before leaving, Marshall sent him around to the War Plans Division. “Then I telephoned and said he was coming; that I was sending a letter of instructions; and they were to keep him there and take him to the plane and not to let him get out of the Department.” General Gerow and General Eisenhower took Hurley in tow. After allowing him a short time to complete final arrangements in the city, each donated a, star for his uniform and then put him aboard a plane shortly after midnight.

Hurley was firmly committed to his mission. AS Secretary of War under Hoover he had stressed the vital role of the Islands in American defense. It was he who had proposed the name of MacArthur for the post of Chief of Staff and had shared with him bitter attacks from those who opposed their handling of the bonus marchers in 1932 . His appointment gave MacArthur new hope.

Delayed two weeks by bad weather in California, Hurley arrived in Australia in early February 1942, eager to cut through red tape and delays and mountainous obstacles to help his friend. Meanwhile Marshall was hammering at the commanders in the Southwest Pacific to accelerate their efforts. On the day that he started
Hurley on his way he charged’Brereton to use his funds “without stint” to organize groups of bold and resourceful men to buy supplies and charter ships for blockade running. Prices were to be set high enough “to insure utmost energy and daring” on the part of ship commanders. Two days later he demanded redoubled efforts.

In urging the use of blockade runners, both MacArthur and Marshall were apparently thinking of their use in the American and Spanish Civil Wars. But in 1942 Australia failed to provide the daring freebooters that Bermuda, the Caribbean Islands, and the Mediterranean had afforded in earlier conflicts. Not only were few ships available at any price, but the risks discouraged most sea captains who could be found. Despite liberal offers and feverish activ-


246

ity, Hurley got only six ships started for the Philippines. Of these, only three got through, one to Mindanao and two to the island of Cebu. Of the 10,000 tons landed in the southern Philippines, only 1,000 tons finally reached the garrison in Luzon.

After weeks of trying to aid his old friend Hurley saw why the Army and Navy commanders in Australia had failed to get results: “We did not have the ships, the air force or ground forces necessary to make the operation successful. We were out-shipped, out-planed, out-manned, and out-gunned by the Japanese from the beginning.”

Watching his half-starved forces being battered by Japanese bombings, low on badly needed medical supplies, and facing the reproaches of the Filipinos, MacArthur bombarded the War Department with demands for stronger American measures. Apparently convinced that Roosevelt would certainly act if he knew the situation in the Philippines, he pointedly reminded Marshall that he expected his messages to be shown to the President. He assailed as diversions from the main business of the Allies in the Pacific current efforts to establish a base in Australia and to restore naval lines of communication. Only immediate direct attacks on the Japanese lines of communications, he advised Marshall, would bring results.

Marshall explained patiently that the United States Navy lacked ships for such attacks. Until additional forces could be brought to the Pacific, the Navy, temporarily crippled by the Pearl Harbor blow, could only try to contain the Japanese advance and deny the enemy access to areas that the Allies would need later for mounting their offensive.

It was as if a man dying of thirst were told that he must wait for a drink of water until a well could be dug and a water main laid. Thoughts of well-dressed officers sitting in comfortable offices and sleeping in clean beds excited the anger of the battlers of Bataan and deepened their suspicions of a faceless enemy called Washington.

If the situation was galling to the Far East commander, it was intolerable to the President of the Philippines, desperately ill of tuberculosis, lying on his cot in the crowded tunnel of Corregidor. Forgetting his long fight to break away from the United States and ignoring his inability to give MacArthur the funds needed to build


247

an independent Philippine defense force, he blamed Washington for his plight. His mind recoiled at the thought of the Japanese in the presidential palace in Manila, at the constant menace of enemy planes, and at the almost certain prospect that he would not live to see his country a free republic.

A few days after President Quezon and Vice-president Osmena were sworn in for a second term in a simple but moving ceremony at Corregidor, Quezon decided on a policy of shock action. Bitingly he charged that the United States and Great Britain had failed to aid the Philippines and had purchased a breathing space for themselves by dooming the Islands to virtual extinction. His suggested remedy was absurd on its face, in view of Japanese occupation of his capital and Japan’s long-established ambition to own the Philippines. If no aid was to be sent, he proposed to President Roosevelt, the United States and Japan should be invited to withdraw their forces and the Islands should be neutralized. High Commissioner Sayre approved the proposal if no further relief was forthcoming.

According to General MacArthur, Quezon recognized that the plan was impractical and that it would be unacceptable to either country. In his Reminiscences, General MaqArthur later recalled arguing against it and declaring that he would not endorse it. But not averse to using shock treatment on Washington, MacArthur in forwarding the Quezon plan failed to note his own disagreement and neglected to indicate why President Quezon had recommended it. His covering letter to General Marshall said that, from a military standpoint, the question was whether the plan of Quezon “might offer the best possible solution of what is about to be a disastrous debacle.” He suggested that if the Japanese accepted the idea the United States would lose no military advantages, and if Japan rejected it her action would strengthen the American position psychologically in the Philippines.

The Chief of Staff and the Secretary of War were much concerned by the message and by the fact that General MacArthur’s telegram “went more than halfway toward supporting Quezon’s position.” When they showed the message to President Roosevel t on February g he declared, “We can’t do this at all.” His firmness in a situation that Stimson called “ghastly in its responsibility and significance” impressed General Marshall. “I immediately dis


248

carded everything in my mind I had held to his discredit . . . Roosevelt said we won’t neutralize. 1 decided, he was a great man.’’

In a strong cable, drafted by General Marshall and General Eisenhower, the President authorized MacArthur to arrange for the capitulation of the Filipino units, but declined to consider the neutralization of the Islands. Making clear that he was issuing his orders in complete understanding of the military estimate that ac-
companied Quezon’s message, the President directed American forces to keep the flag flying “so long as there remains any possibility of resistance.” Without reminding MacArthur that the Army had long assumed such last-ditch activity to be the lot of the garrison in the Philippines, he emphasized that the duty and necessity of resisting Japanese aggression to the last transcended in importance any other obligation facing the United States in the Philippines. He expressed his sympathy for the extremity to which they might soon be reduced and declared that the service MacArthur and the American members of the command could render to the country in the struggle then developing “is beyond all possibility of appraisement.”

Stung by the Roosevelt-Marshall version of Nelson’s message at  Trafalgar, the Far East commander retorted that he had no thought of surrendering the Filipino forces under his command. He intended to fight on until destruction of his forces in the Bataan Peninsula and then wage a last-ditch stand at Corregidor.

Dismayed at MacArthur’s suggestion that he planned to go down with his troops, Marshall discussed with his colleagues how best to save him for future service to the nation. As the best-informed American officer on the Far East and the heroic defender of the Philippines, MacArthur exhibited a leadership and example that were essential to future campaigns in the Southwest Pacific. His capture would damage the Allied defensive effort and give the Japanese a psychological victory. No one in Washington was willing to consider such an ending to the MacArthus story.

So far had distrust of Washington’s motives developed in the Far East Command that Marshall’s efforts to arrange for the evacuation of General MacArthus and his family were regarded with deep suspicion. On Febuary 4 the Chief of Staff sounded out on his course of action if Bataan could not be held and only Correg-


249

idor Island remained. He advanced the possibility of General MacArthur’s transferring to Mindanao, where he might organize guerrilla warfare in the central and southern islands before proceeding farther south to resume command of United States Forces in the Far East. As an alternative, he suggested that General MacArthur might go directly to Australia. Asking for a confidential statement of MacArthur’s views, he added that any order for his withdrawal would come directly from the President.ss This request produced a strange effect at the Philippines headquarters. Writing nearly fifteen years later, General MacArthur’s aide and personal friend, General Courtney Whitney, asked: “Was Marshall threatening ahead of time to use the Commander-in-Chief on him?” In asking MacArthur to speak freely, “was he setting any kind of a trap? MacArthur could only guess at the answers.”

Rather than threatening General MacArthur, General Marshall was following the advice of the Far East commander’s friends. Colonel J.  Munroe Johnson, who had served with the Pacific commander in World War I, said that MacArthur would not obey the orders to withdraw if they came only from the War Department. Later, this view was confirmed by Pat Hurley, who cabled General Marshall that the President must “definitely order MacArthur ‘to relinquish his command and proceed elsewhere.”

A few days later, when plans were being made to evacuate President Quezon and High Commissioner Sayre and their families, General Marshall proposed that the Far East commander send his wife and son along lest he later have to withdraw under “conditions impossible for them.” At MacArthur’s reply that they would share the fate of the garrison, the Chief of Staff again urged him to send them away, adding that he might have to be separated from them “under circumstances of greatly increased peril.”

Meanwhile, sentiment was growing in the United States to bring MacArthur out of the Philippines. I n February former Republican presidential candidate Wendell Willkie proposed that MacArthur be summoned to head United States efforts in the Pacific; a bill was introduced in Congress by Representative Knute Hill, Democrat from the State of Washington, to establish a Supreme War Command over all armed forces with MacArthur as their chief.  Senator Millard Tydings, chairman of the Senate Military Affairs Committee, argued that MacArthur would oppose leav-


250 

ing his men and that it would take a peremptory order to get him out.

The plight of the Philippines occupied the central stage in  American thinking while the Japanese swarmed into British and Dutch possessions in the Southwest Pacific, thus accomplishing the real object of their Pearl Harbor attack. In mid-January the ABDA Command, of which the Dutch East Indies, New Guinea, Malaya, Burma, and the Philippines formed a part, had been established under General Sir Archibald Wavell. Australia was excluded from the command, although Australian forces in the ABDA Command area were placed under the supreme commander, and United States Forces in Australia were directed to support his operations. By mid-January when General Wavell joined his American deputy commander, General Brett, and other members of his staff in Java, the defenses of the command had already begun to disintegrate.  The far-ranging Japanese forces had isolated the Philippines, captured Mong Kong, forced back the British in Malaya, and were storming ashore in Borneo and the Celebes. With his forces widely separated and completely off-balance in the face of a coordinated Japanese attack, Wavell was unable to organize an effective defense. Within a month the enemy took Singapore and was threatening Java and Sumatra. Convinced that there was no hope of defending these possessions, Wavell proposed that two Australian divisions being brought from the Middle East to defend Java be sent instead to Burma or Australia. He gained permission to turn the ABDA Command over to the Dutch and return to India.

At this point General Marshall directed the small American ground and air force on Java to continue its support of the desperate Dutch defenders.  The possibility of putting LIP an effective fight ended at the close of February with the defeat of the Allied naval forces in the Battle of the Java Sea. On March 1 the Japanese began landings on Java. Eight days later the Dutch army surrendered. Elsewhere the story was the same. When in early March Rangoon was taken, the Japanese held the land and sea area from central Burma to New Guinea, threatening northwest Australia with attack. In the Philippines a battered American-Filipino force still held out, but its prospects of surviving dimmed with the passage of each day.

As the ABDA Command began to fall apart, General Marshall


251

and Secretary Stimson became convinced that General MacArthur must be ordered out of Luzon. Their first discussions of his future role pointed in the direction of establishing a force in Mindanao which would prepare for a later return to Manila. As the Japanese extended their conquests the American officials abandoned this prospect and turned to the establishment of a new headquarters in the Southwest Pacific. The approaching fall of Java made a strong organization in Australia essential. On February 22 General Marshall drafted orders for the Far East commander that were signed the same day by the President. MacArthur was directed to leave for Australia as soon as possible. He was to stop briefly, not to exceed a week, in Mindanao and then go southward to assume command of American forces in the Southwest Pacific.

A proud man, unaccustomed to defeat, saddened by reverses, MacArthur considered the possibility of disobeying the order and remaining with his troops in a futile but courageous last-man stand. His senior advisers urged him to take the new command, arguing that he could do more there to aid his embattled forces in the Philippines than by allowing himself to be killed or captured at Corregidor. In deciding to comply with the presidential order, he asked and was granted permission to select the psychological time for departure.

On March 11 General MacArthur selected seventeen members of his staff to accompany him and his wife and son by PT boats to Mindanao and then by bombers to Australia. After a dramatic journey, which he described as “undoubtedly unique in military annals,” the party on March 17 reached Batchelor Field some forty miles south of Darwin. There MacArthur was greeted by reporters, to whom he gave the salutation that thrilled the world: “I came through and I shall return.” Soon afterward members of the party flew on to Alice Springs, where they boarded a train for Melbourne. A few days later he drove to Canberra for his first meeting with Prime Minister John Curtin. In this conference MacArthur received the impression that Curtin was solely responsible for bringing him out of the Philippines and for his selection as supreme commander in the Southwest Pacific. Apparently he was completely unaware that the basic decisions had been made in Washington as part of a plan for reorganizing the Allied commands throughout the world.


252

The Japanese capture of Singapore in mid-February foreshadowed the split of the ABDA Command and with it the possibility of keeping Southeast Asia and the Pacific area under a single commander. As early as the igth, President Woosevelt began to think in terms of dividing that part of the world into two command areas with the United States accepting responsibility for Australia, New Zealand, and China, and the British controlling the India-Burma defense. The President suggested this solution to Prime Minister Churchill on the 18th. Before any conclusion could be reached, the political and military leaders of Australia and New Zealand, in a  series of meetings between February 2and March 2, turned their attention to a new Pacific command to include their areas. Fearing that British generals were more interested in the defense of Burma and India than in the Southwest Pacific, they favored an American as allied commander for the area. Apparently assuming that General MacArthur was committed to the Philippines, they considered General Brett, then commanding American forces in Australia and deputy supreme commander under Wavell, for the post.  In late February Brett received intimations from Marshall that Washington was considering MacArthur for the appointment.

Wishing to avoid any appearance of American pressure and believing that the open shift of MacArthur to Australia would bring protests from the Filipinos, General Marshall suggested to General Brett that the Australian and New Zealand governments make a specific request for an American commander. On March 8, still without knowledge of American plans for MacArthur, these governments proposed to Churchill that a United States Commander be named. Their request was submitted more than two weeks after the President’s directive to MacArthur to proceed to Australia to take command of a reconstituted ABDA area.

On the day the Dutch surrendered in Java, President Roosevelt proposed to Churchill the division of the world into three major command areas. The British would have the chief role in the area from Singapore and India to the Mediterranean and the Middle East, the United States would be responsible for the Pacific, and both countries would share responsibility for the Atlantic area.  Although Churchill and Curtin approved an American for the  supreme command in the Pacific, their reservation about boundaries and organization of the Pacific command area required rather extensive negotiations with Washington. These were still being


253

discussed at the time MacArthur left Corregidor. Delays in obtaining final acceptance of the draft directive of March 30 by the governments concerned prevented MacArthur from assuming formal command until April 18.

Because premature announcement of MacArthur’s departure from the Philippines’might endanger the safety of his party, General Marshall withheld even from Curtin information on the journey until MacArthur had actually landed in Australia. On the day the Far East commander stepped aboard the PT boat in the Philippines, Marshall directed General Brett to inform Prime Minister Curtin the moment MacArthur arrived that he was assuming command of the United States forces in that area. Brett was then to propose, in the name of the President, that MacArthur be selected as supreme commander of the Southwest Pacific. He was also to inform Curtin that Washington was announcing that the Australians had asked fok the transfer. The Prime Minister enthusiastically nominated MacArthur for the new post, and his statement was included in a news release of March 18.

Possibly in the excitement of welcoming MacArthur, Curtin overstated his own role in naming the General as supreme commander. He may have assumed that the new arrival was completely informed of Washington’s prior arrangements. Apparently MacArthur was never informed of Marshall’s key role in his transfer to the new command.

Besides stressing Australia’s demand for MacArthur’s transfer from the Philippines, the Chief of Staff took a second step to offset Japanese propaganda attacks on the Philippine commander. On January 30 Marshall directed Brigadier General Richard Sutherland, MacArthur’s chief of staff, to report promptly any action of
his chief for which the Medal of Honor could appropriately be awarded. No reply was received and no further action was taken by Marshall until bills were introduced in Congress in February by J. Parnell Thomas, Republican of New Jersey, and James Van Zandt, Republican of Pennsylvania, to authorize the presentation of the Medal of Honor to MacArthur. When asked for comments by the chairman of the House Military Affairs Committee, General Marshall directed that Sutherland be asked again “to furnish a basis for the award,’’ adding that it would mean more if it came from  the War Department than from Congress.

General Sutherland followed Marshall’s directive and urged that


254

the award be given at the time of MacArthur’s arrival in Australia. He suggested, in particular, that MacArthur be decorated for refusal to take cover during an air attack. General Marshall recalled, “I asked them [MacArthur’s staff] to write it, but they asked us to, so I did it.” The Chief of Staff’s citation acclaimed MacArthur’s gallant defense of the Philippines and praised him for his “utter disregard of personal danger under heavy fire and aerial bombardment,” and for “his calm judgment in each crisis [which] inspired his troops, galvanized the spirit of resistance of the Filipino people, and confirmed the faith of the American people in their armed forces.”

Although realizing that there was no specific act of that called for the award under “literal interpretation” of the statutes, Marshall believed that MacArthur deserved recognition beyond that given by any other decoration the War Department had to award. He justified the proposal on the basis of the presentation of a Medal of Honor to Colonel Charles A. Lindbergh in 1927. “I submit the recommendation to you,’’ he wrote Secretary Stimson, “not only because I am certain that General MacArthur is deserving of the honor but also because I am certain that this action will meet with popular approval, both within and without the armed forces, and will have a constructive morale value.”  The conferring of the medal in the name of Congress by the President was announced on March 25. Nearly two weeks later, on being asked by Representative May for comment on the pending resolution in his committee, Stimson replied that inasmuch as the Medal had been conferred there appeared to be no further need of congressional action.

After being welcomed with wild acclaim in Australia, General MacArthur received from Marshall the first official appraisal of his new command. The boundaries of his Southwest Pacific theater were still being debated by the Combined Chiefs of Staff and the President and Prime Minister. T h e Chief of Staff explained that the forces and planes available to him were small, the limits being fixed by shortages of shipping “of the utmost seriousness” and critical situations elsewhere. To secure his lines of communication, one division had been sene to New Caledonia and small units to nearby islands. Small garrisons and airplane squadrons were being stationed along the line between Hawaii and Australia to protect the movement of troops and supplies.


255

Arthur was profoundly shocked to discover that widely publicized Australian Statements of large forces and stockpiles of supplies were merely propaganda statements to fool the enemy. He was sorely disappointed at the badly battered air force at his disposal and the scarcity of American troops in his theater. Unsympathetic with the Navy’s insistence on protecting its line of communications to Australia and with demands by the Free French that their Pacific islands be properly defended if they were to furnish airfields for the Allies, he was appalled to hear that troops which he believed to be intended for Australia had been landed there briefly and then transshipped to New Caledonia.

Command arrangements had to be worked out between Roosevelt and Churchill and then between the British and the governments of Australia and New Zealand before the Joint Chiefs of Staff could agree on their own division of responsibilities. MacArthur was already concerned over delays that Rad occurred before the final directive was issued in mid-April. He was more than concerned when the Pacific area was divided between his command and that of the Navy. General Marshall, a strong advocate of unified command, was inclined to agree with the Army commander’s protests. He had told Stimson back in February that he thought MacArthur’s “dominating character is needed down there to make the Navy keep up their job in spite of rows which we shall have between them.” He recognized, however, that Admiral King, the new boss of the Navy, would not accept Douglas MacArthur as over-all commander. Disagreements between the Philippine commander and Admiral Hart about command of naval forces in the Islands had already aroused Navy Department opposition to placing its ships under Army command. More important, King felt that the Pacific was primarily a Navy responsibility, that troops and supplies must be moved by his ships, that bases must be seized, maintained, or defended by the Navy, and that ground operations must have close naval support. Marshall saw that if MacArthur wasto retain command of a substantial part of the Pacific he had to agree to a division of responsibility. In the end the Central, South, and North Pacific came under Admiral Nimitz, who wore the hats of Allied commander of these areas and of commander-in-chief, Pacific Fleet, with headquarters at Pearl Harbor. From him came the ships that were assigned to General MacArthur. The arrangement was made to work because of strenuous efforts by Marshall and

 


256

King, but friction continued throughout the war9 leading to recriminations on both sides in the Pacific.

Nearly everything that Marshall and his staff touched in connection with the Philippines and the Pacific command during the early months of 1942 seemed to create friction. In preparing to leave the Philippines on March 11 the Far East commander proposed to establish four commands in the Islands, giving the one in Luzon to General Jonathan M. Wainwright but retaining at Corregidor a deputy chief of staff, Brigadier General Lewis C . Beebe, through whom he expected to exercise command over the Islands. Although other messages concerning the situation in the Philippines got through to Washington during this period, Machthur neglected to notify the Chief of Staff of this arrangement.56

On the assumption that Wainwright had been left in command, General Marshall directed his orders to that officer as “Commanding General, U.S. Army Forces, Far East,” specifying that MacArthur’s new command would retain supervisory control over Wainwright’s forces. Caught in the middle in this situation, General
Beebe urged MacArthur to explain his plight to Washington. On the 20th Marshall notified Wainwright that he had been promoted to lieutenant general and that he was to assume command in the Philippines. Next morning Wainwright carried out his directive and appointed Beebe as his chief of staff. Promptly General MacArthur asked Wainwright on what authority he had based his action.  For the first time MacArthur notified General Marshall of his intention to control operations in the Philippines from his Australian headquarters.

General Marshall was not impressed with the proposed command set-up. He explained to President Roosevelt in March 1942  that it would be difficult for MacArthur in Melbourne, 4000 miles away, to control operations through a deputy chief of staff and that such an arrangement would have a depressing effect on General Wainright, on whose leadership the United States now had to depend. Furthermore General MacArthur, as supreme commander, was not supposed to exercise direct control of any national force. This restriction, imposed on General Wave11 several weeks earlier with the purpose of preventing him from devoting his attention too closely to any one phase of his mission, was still in effect. At Marshall’s recommendation, Roosevelt notified General Mac-


257

Arthur that unless he strongly objected Marshall’s order would stand. The Southwest Pacific commander indicated that he understood the problem and would fit into the new scheme of command. He approved Wainright’s promotion and described his assignment to the Philippine Command as “appropriate.” Later he and some members of his staff sharply criticized the change.

The closing days in the Philippines were especially bitter to Army officials in Washington and the Pacific, During Marshall’s absence in London in April, Stimson discussed with General ,McNarney and General Eisenhower whether they should continue to demand that American forces fight until the end. Believing that the situation had changed completely since February, when there had seemed to be some slight hope that a garrison could hold out, the officials now proposed that the directive be changed. On their recommendation the President sent to General MacArthur, for forwarding to Wainwright, if he agreed in substance and timing, an announcement that the final decision on the action of the Bataan garrison would be left to the commander on the ground. The message arrived shortly after the surrender of Bataan had been announced. Roosevel t hastened to inform General Wainwright that he hoped he could hold Corregidor. Realizing that this course was also almost hopeless, he assured the commander of his full confidence in whatever decision he might make and permitted him complete freedom of action.

General MacArthur was less lenient. He notified Wainwright that he had made no comment on the earlier message because the President’s direct cable had already made clear that the final decision was left to the Philippine commander. But he emphasized to Washington that he was utterly opposed to the capitulation of the Bataan command. He believed that it should fight to the last on the field of battle while taking full toll of the enemy. He was equally set against the surrender of Corregidor, now left in Wainwright’s hands.

In Washington, as in the Islands, it was evident that once Bataan surrendered, Corregidor could not long survive. Despite shortened rations, the damage of shelling, and heavy bombing, the garrison miraculously managed to last nearly a month more. The original defense plan for the Philippines had asked a six months’ defense by the garrison to prepare the way for a relief expedition to return.


258

By superhuman effort the defenders got within sight of that goal. But the prospect of a relief expedition seemed farther away than ever.

The landing of a large Japanese force at the northeastern end of the island on the evening of May made it obvious that resistance was hopeless. In this situation General Wainwright on May 6 decided to ask for terms. His efforts to restrict the surrender only to the garrison at Corregidor proved fruitless as the Japanese commander demanded that Wainwright order all forces under his command elsewhere in the Islands to lay down their arms before an armistice to Corregidor would be granted. With this threat of annihilation hanging over his troops, Wainwright broadcast an appeal for his commanders to cease their resistance. MacArthur attempted until the last to save units in some of the islands from the capitulation, indicating that they could ignore orders from Corregidor.

Unable to aid the commander and his fighters, the Chief of Staff wrote into the message sent Wainwright by the President the words: “In every camp and on every naval vessel soldiers, sailors, and marines are inspired by the gallant struggle of their comrades in the Philippines. T h e workmen in our shipyards and munitions plants redouble their efforts because of your example.” Profoundly touched by the defense the forces had put  up in the last hopeless days, General Marshall proposed to recognize General Wainwright’s efforts by conferring on him the Medal of Honor. Forwarding several affidavits sent him by officers in the Philippines, he asked General MacArthur, for whom he had arranged a similar award, for his recommendation. The Pacific commander replied sharply that the men who made the sworn statements were not in a position to know the facts, that the citation as proposed did not represent the truth, that Wainwright’s actions fell far short of those needed to win the award, and that if he received it the action would constitute an injustice to others who had done far more than the Philippine commander.

“His animosity toward Wainwright was tremendous,” General Marshall recalled. Distressed by MacArthur’s reaction, the Chief of  Staff asked General McNarney to investigate the recommendations for the award and the basis of the opposition to it. He also presented the case to Secretary Stimson. Impressed by Marshall’s belief that the evidence would support the decoration, the Secretary


259

of War strongly favored overriding MacArthur’s opposition. On General McNarney’s warning that a persistence in their course might bring a public airing of a bitter dispute in the Army, the two officials agreed to suspend the matter temporarily until a better time. Neither Marshall nor Stimson changed his mind.   The Secretary became especially indignant several months later when a member of the Southwest Pacific headquarters staff, while visiting in Washington, made a number of derogatory remarks about Wainwright. Stimson pointedly asked if he was acting on MacArthur’s instructions and apparently was not wholly convinced by the officer’s negative reply.

Of all the prisoners of the war, General Marshall was most deeply moved by the plight of those from Corregidor or Bataan. In the dreary months that followed the surrender he made a special effort to send on to families of imprisoned men any hopeful bits of information that might filter through from Japanese prison camps. He was particularly attentive to General Wainwright’s family. In 1943, when Stilwell, Patton, Somervell, and McNarney (temporary lieutenant generals) were recommended for permanent two-star rank, he added Wainwright to the list. On August 20, 1945, when the war was won, Marshall cabled MacArthur: “It seems to me that it would be most appropriate to have General Wainwright present at signing of capitulation. This also appears to be the general view in U.S.  as expressed in the press. Please let me have your reaction.” MacArthur responded that he would be delighted to have him, and General Wainwright was present for the ceremony.

General Marshall also resurrected the idea of a Medal of Honor. At a special reception in the White House garden in 1945, President Truman presented Wainwright with the medal that Marshall had wanted him to have three years before. Apparently Wainwright bore no grudge against his former chief. In 1948 at the Republican National convention, he was to present the name of Douglas MacArthur for nomination as a candidate for the presidency of the United States.

The Wainwright matter and the question of command in the Philippines were relatively minor points of difference. The issue that counted was the decision of Roosevelt and the Joint Chiefs of Staff to stand firm on a Europe First strategy. Apparently MacArthur was never reconciled to this action.

Implicit in all Army and Navy planning since early 1941, this


260

course was plotted before MacArthur became commander in the Far East. Although Marshall and Stimson had modified their views in the fall of 1941 in the hope of building up a threat to Japan in the Philippines, their emphasis on the Atlantic never changed. On the declaration of war, MacArthur attempted to alter the basic Allied strategy. Calling the Philippines the key to the Far East, he insisted that the Army make a major effort in that area. When he was transferred to the Southwest Pacific he urged that the United States place first the war against Japan.

Marshall could not ignore the feelings of his Pacific commander and the substantial backing he gained in the United States. MacArthur’s constant demand for greater support undoubtedly left an imprint on the Chief of Staff’s thinking in his strategic planning. Never absent from his mind was the fact that peripheral operations in the European Theater drew shipping and supplies from the Pacific without significantly hastening the winning of the war. The strategy of grappling directly with the main German forces on the continent of Europe, which he had favored from the beginning gained added impetus as he sought to get on with the war in Europe so that he could turn his full force toward the Pacific.

 

Digital Downloads

XI - Pacific Ordeal.pdf




Collection

, ,


Holding Rights: Public Information

Rights: Public Information

Language: english