Luzon and Battan Mac Arthur’s folly

This week and next marks the implementation and early stages of Plan Orange, bringing to light the poor planning, weakly executed ideas and pipe dream of Mac Arthurs plans for the Philippines.

Image BGG-David Maynard

Forced to make a desperate 150 mile retreat into Bataan, forced to abandon Clark Airfield due to earlier mis management of resources, forced to abandon millions of tonnes of supplies Mc Arthur faced disaster. The epic nature of the mishandling of the Philippine campaign is only mitigated by time and hero worshiping historians.

85% of the aircraft available of the 277 were destroyed or required repair by the 2nd week of the war. The vast majority of the Filipino forces were paper tigers barring the tankless 26th Scouts.

Politics forbade the movement of rice from one territory or province to the next. Truck drivers, railway men  abandoned trucks and depots. All left to the Japanese to feast upon while in this very week in history the men on the march were on half rations!

How? Simply put this happened due to pie in the sky planning by Mac Arthur.. Forward basing of food and supplies for another plan compounded the problems.

Fortunately what could have been a rout if Japanese General Homma had used combined arms and leveraged his air assets the true extent of this folly would have been realized.

Instead the cock sure Allied forces build up their defenses  ignoring ‘rough’ terrain and settled into what they thought was to be a waiting game until reinforcements arrived.

Washington was hamstrung however, not enough planes and ships existed to get meaningful supplies and troops to Bataan.  Even ‘gratitude’ payments to Mac Arthur of $500,000 dollars  by Filipino leadership would not save them from the attrition style warfare employed by the Japanese army. 20,000 US soldiers were left to hold Bataan while Mac Arthur was whisked away to a heroes reception in Australia replete with ‘steak and eggs’*

Lion of Luzon or Dugout Doug?


*General Brougher commander of the 11th Division of Bataan.

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