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What military reinforcement was supposed to be shipped to the Philippine Islands before the the onse

Discussion in 'Land Warfare in the Pacific' started by John Dudek, Apr 26, 2008.

  1. John Dudek

    John Dudek Member

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    I recently read that a battalion of M-3 Grant/Lee medium tanks was in New Orleans, waiting trans-shipment to the Philippines, along with their crews and support equipment at the time of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Can you imagine what a difference that 50+ of these heavy gunned tanks would have made in combat, had they arrived in time?. Armed with both a 75mm and 37mm gun, that's alot of firepower for a single tank. They later proved devestatingly effective in Burma against the thin skinned Japanese tanks that they faced there.
     
  2. Falcon Jun

    Falcon Jun Ace

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    Yes, these tanks would be a tough nut to crack for the Japanese. However, I read a good post in this forum about how these tanks would have to be road bound. A number of them could also end up getting mired in mud because of their weight. Offsetting this would be that the tanks' crew would learn on the job how to handle their vehicles in Philippine conditions. The question would be if these tank crews would have enough time to learn.
     
  3. Carl W Schwamberger

    Carl W Schwamberger Ace

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    There was a battalion of light tanks. Either the old M2 or the newer M3 light tank. I cant recall which. Many were lost early in the campaign to mechcanical failures and shortages of fuel. Enemy action accounted for quite a few. The Japanese AT guns were effective. I dont see it much in circulation anymore, but back in the 1960s there was a account by a survivng tank crewman describing how his entire platoon was destroyed by Japanese AT guns. It was often in magazine articals & a book or two. The tank crewman described how the platoon advanced in a counter attack towards one of the Japanese landing sites. They out ran the infantry and were caught on a road thru flooded rice paddys. Japanese guns had the area covered and knocked out all the tanks in a couple minutes.

    The high powered 47mm AT gun was capable of penetrating the M3 medium tanks armor. I dont know if any of those were sent to the Phillipines as it was not yet standard to Japanese infantry divsions. The 37mm AT gun was similar to the other ATG of other nations in the 1920s & 1930s. It was still in use thru 1945 and was capable of penetrating the side armor of a M4 medium.
     
  4. Falcon Jun

    Falcon Jun Ace

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    John, I spoke too soon. Those tanks already in the PI weren't too tough to crack for the Japanese after all. That's the danger of using tanks in the rural areas of the PI. Which leads me to ask: even if both branches saw limited use, which was more effective against the Japanese during their invasion of the Philippines, armor or cavalry?
    From what I've read and been told so far, it seems the cavalry performed better.
     
  5. Carl W Schwamberger

    Carl W Schwamberger Ace

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    My intial thought was that a few more artillery battalions would be better. but as with everything else the shortage of all classes of supply would offset any advantage.
     
  6. John Dudek

    John Dudek Member

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    I wonder what would have happened had the 2nd Cavalry Regiment been sent to the PI. before the war, rather than to North Africa in September of 1942.
     
  7. Falcon Jun

    Falcon Jun Ace

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    Hmmm, that's a thought. Still, even if this unit were sent to the Philippines before the war, it would not be as effective as hoped if the historical set of officers surrounding Macarthur and the system they espoused weren't changed. From what I've read plus from what have been posted here and elsewhere in the forum, it was apparent that a sense of complacency had pervaded the US command in the Philippines. They created for themselves their own distorted view of reality and when that reality was shattered on December 8 when it was reported that Pearl Harbor was attacked, they were shocked and paralyzed. My view, I admit is simplistic and does not include other contributing factors, but I believe this was essentially the main problem.
    Of course, I'm writing from hindsight. I believe to view this in the proper perspective, we shouldn't just focus on the hows and whys and whats that's been written down over the years. It would also be better to see what the people back then were thinking when these events first took place. From those thoughts arose other actions that eventually shaped the events that we read today. If they had thought differently, they would've acted in another manner. They had to go with what they know at that time, and for them, it was a really perilous period.
     
  8. Falcon Jun

    Falcon Jun Ace

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    Now here's what was written about the Philippines on January 5, 1942 by Time.
    Overwhelming in Numbers
    A United States Army, most of it composed of half-trained Filipnos, last week fought the first great U.S. battle of World War II. By slicing the Philippine Islands supply line from Pearl Harbor, by heavy attacks on Philippine airfields, by plain wear and tear on the islands limited aircraft equipment, Japan won the prerequisite of victory: command of the air. Overwhelming in numbers, the Jap flailed at the U.S. positions with rifle, machine gun, tank and plane, careless of his losses. Bitterly, savagely and calculatingly, the tall men from the U.S. and the short men from the island fought back. It was a battle of churning movement: swift slashes of armored cars and men in trucks, ceaseless slamming of artillery, swiftly emplaced, swiftly moved with the tide of battle.
    But unless the Philippines could get help from the outside--planes, munitions, men, decisive U.S. naval intervention--they would be lost. There was not a man in the lines who did not know it. General Douglas Macarthur had said that the islands could be held but only if their supply was continuous and decisive. He had also said: "Any machine gun nest can be captured if the attacker is willing to pay the price. So can the Philippines be captured if the enemy is willing to write off the losses."
    The Jap was writing off his losses. He came in droves, met withering fire, marched stoically up to it and took his medicine with a grunt. There were more where he came from. The Jap was likely to lose the impetus of his first drive as he hit the prepared defense positions. In the end, Douglas Macarthur might still win. His position was desperate. It was likely to get worse. But it was not yet hopeless.
     
  9. Falcon Jun

    Falcon Jun Ace

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    A week later, January 12, Time had this story on what happened next.

    Last Stand
    This was the brackish taste of defeat that American soldiers had not known in a major battle since Appomattox. Before the week's end, the Army of the Philippines had withdrawn from Manila and was holed up on a small peninsula named Bataan. Bataan is almost devoid of roads, tough for armored force operations, ideal for making the Jap pay for what he might eventually get. Separated from Bataan by only two miles of water is Corregidor, a tadpole-shaped fortress in the mouth of Manila Bay, with its sandy tail pointed toward the city. It was Corregidor that the Jap wanted most. Until its 12-inch guns are silenced, the Jap can never hope to sail his ships into Manila Bay.
    ------

    From these stories, it's apparent that some people back then viewed the Philippine stand as not entirely hopeless and was making a case that the Philippine garrison be reinforced. Others did hold a different view and were preparing other people to accept the Philippines as a lost cause. It's an entirely different perspective from what we in the present hold.
     
  10. Carl W Schwamberger

    Carl W Schwamberger Ace

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    Thats Time magazines view. "Overwhelming in numbers" was not the fact. The consumption of supply including ammunition was larger than allowed for. The Japanese victory came via better training and better supply. The margin for both was thinner than the pop historys suspose. One can only partially understand a battle by studying one side. The Japanese view, and reality, has to be examined.
     
  11. justdags

    justdags Member

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    apperantly an oder of quite a few EMPTY oil drums that came to them full however this was actually really good since it was among the last shipments they recived before the Japan invasion enabling them to resist the invaders till 1944
     
  12. Falcon Jun

    Falcon Jun Ace

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    Yes. I understand your point. Given what we know today, the "overwhelming in numbers" can be viewed as their explanation as to why the US garrison was forced to give ground. In a way, that Time mag story was written to assuage the feelings of the folks in the mainland.
    Taking that Time mag story as an example, one may say that there was a general feeling of a very tough fight ahead for the U.S. Today, we know that the Japanese never did have a chance in the long run.
    But to the Americans in 1942, they didn't know that. The only thing they can do was to pull together and hope that what they were doing would contribute to the defeat of the Japanese and their other Axis partners.
     
  13. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    If you search the National Archives Photographic section for "Bougainville Tanks" you'll find some interesting pictures on this topic. :cool:
     
  14. jdcsa

    jdcsa Member

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    My Father was with the 193rd. Tank Battallion in 1941. He was to be discharged 12/13/1941. According to him, they were to be transfered to the Philippine's, but were held back for the manuvers (North Caolina I think). Their equipment was already loaded on ship, in California, all of their eq. was marked "attn. quartermaster Manila P. I.
    On December 7, 1941, they were locked down in the armory, untill transportation was arranged, then they took the southern route to California. Somewhere in New Mexico, or Arizona, their train was joined by the 25th Division (I think that I am right), they were a National Guard Unit from New York. The 25th's CO wanted everybody to do PT, everytime the train took on water (as the story goes), someone uncoulped the train and left the 25th. Division behind, this had to be early December 1941.
    They shipped out from California, and turned around and landed at Pearl Harbour Janurary 7, 1942 (1 month to the date after the Jap attack). They also were torpedoed going in to pearl Harbour.
    There turn around falls close to the Wake Island campaign and the abourted reinforcement of the Island.
     
  15. Carl W Schwamberger

    Carl W Schwamberger Ace

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    Sounds like something I might try. Uncouple the train cars that is.;)
     
  16. John Dudek

    John Dudek Member

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    I recently found this bit of information pertaining to further US reinforcements being sent to the Philippines:

    26th Field Artillery Brigade
    147th Field Artillery (75mm)(Trk Drawn) Regiment, South Dakota National Guard [At Sea]
    148th Field Artillery (75mm)(Trk Drawn) Regiment, Idaho National Guard [At Sea]
    2nd Bn 131st Field Artillery (75mm)(Trk Drawn) Regiment, Texas National Guard [At Sea]
    34th Infantry Regiment [San Francisco Waiting to Embark
     
  17. John Dudek

    John Dudek Member

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    Some additional information taken from the "Green Books."

    "The schedule of shipments finally established in November provided for sending to the Philippines some 20,000 troops, about one third of them Air Force units, on eleven troopships to sail from fan Francisco between 21 November and 9 December 1941.32 The Holbrook, carrying 2,000 troops and equipment (the 147th Field Artillery Regiment and the 148th Field Artillery Regiment minus one battalion), and the Republic carrying 2,630 troops and equipment (the 2d Battalion of the 131st field Artillery Regiment, the 7th Bombardment Group, and 48 Air Corps officers), sailed from San Francisco 21-22 November. Convoyed by the USS Pensacola, they were due to arrive in the Philippines on 14 January 1942.

    Sailings for 15,000 troops were scheduled for 5-9 December. The President Johnson with 2,500 troops the 2d Battalion of the 138th Field Artillery Regiment and three squadrons of the 35th Pursuit Group), the Etolin with 1,400 troops " including the 218th Field Artillery Regiment minus the 2d Battalion) and the Bliss sailed from San Francisco on 5 December 1941. The following day the President Garfield sailed from the same port with the remainder of the 35th Pursuit Group.33

    In addition to the 30,000 U.S. Army troops present, and those due to arrive in the Philippines, there were 80,000 troops in the Philippine Army, including the ten divisions to be activated by 15 December. The total strength of General MacArthur's command--present, en route, and under orders--amounted to about 137,000, considerably less than the 200,000 he had estimated as sufficient for defensive operations.34

    The Far Eastern Air Force had 35 four engine bombers and 107 P-40E's on hand, and 38 more P-40E's and 52 A-24's (dive bombers) were en route in the Pensacola convoy. In addition, 37 pursuits and 48 four-engine bombers were due to leave the United States by 6 and 10 December, respectively. As for ground force matériel, equipment for one antiaircraft regiment had recently arrived, as well as 105 tanks and 50 self-propelled 75-mm. guns (tank destroyers). Forty-eight 75-mm. guns were en route (with the Pensacola convoy), and more guns and a considerable amount of ammunition were scheduled to be shipped.35"
     
  18. USS GOLD STAR

    USS GOLD STAR Member

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    Reinforcements to the Philippines in 1941...
    The Navy escorted a series of convoys into the PI moving under Army orders. They were escorted by Pacific fleet cruisers through the Central Pacific from Hawaii. USS ASTORIA, CHESTER, LOUISVILLE participated, and USS BOISE was the last, arriving early December.

    LOUISVILLE's convoy arrived 20 November, lifting in the 21st and 34th Pirsuit Squadrons of the 35th Pirsuit Group, USAAF. The HQ squadron of the 35th Group followed with the third squadron in the PENSACOLA convoy. In one of these late convoys the fleet oiler GUADALUPE lifted in the PT boats of Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron THREE, USN (White, They Were Expendable).

    The convoy escorted by cruiser PENSACOLA was routed south via the Torres Strait (Australia - New Guinea) to avoid the Japanese in the Mandates. This convoy was ordered into Brisbane in December.

    One of the tragedies is that so very many of the Army pulots sent to the PI were little more than flight school grads, and handling a P-40, either the P-40B or the P-40E, was an advanced course. Confronting the Japense Navy fighters a task well beyond them. America was rearming, and there was precious little to send at all.

    It is useful also to keep in mind what I consider three salient points. [1] in the 1930s the Navy had concluded that defense of the Islands against Japanese invasion was not possible, and had decided, with presidental approval, to just retake the islands after they were lost. [2] The US ORANGE war plan and its entire concept was geared to a US vs. Japan war (Miller, War Plan ORANGE). By the summer of 1940 with the fall of France, the premise was OBE / overtaken by events, and no longer valid, and thus the RAINBOW plans emerged.[3] All the reinforcement, the great bulk of it, sent to the PI in 1941 was by General Marshall in DC in response to General MacArthur messages demanding same. Remember, in 1941 there was no joint command in the PI... Army and Navy commands answered to their bosses in DC.

    This is an extraordinarily complex period in US history.
     
  19. Falcon Jun

    Falcon Jun Ace

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    Goldstar, I definitely do agree that it was an "extraordinarily complex period" at that time. The historical impression created, at least for me, was that almost everybody in the allies were in a daze at the speed of events confronting them and it took time to pull things together and come up with what would work with what they had available at that time.
    From what was shared in the previous posts, there was an effort to send reinforcements to the PI, hoping against hope that these could do something to improve the dismal outlook for the US forces in PI. However, even if that hope existed, reality has a way of making itself felt. And as previously posted, it would be better to write off the PI. Emotionally as a Filipino, it's still hard for me to take that such a decision was made but rationally, it was the right decision. As Southwestpacific vet mentioned in a previous post, had the reinforcements made it to the Philippines, more US troops would have joined the Death March from Bataan.
     
  20. Devilsadvocate

    Devilsadvocate Ace

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    The US defense establishment had always (from at least 1910) realized that the defense of the Philippines would be a difficult, if not an impossible, task for the US. War Plan Orange evolved out of the debates between the US Army and US Navy as to how it could best be accomplished, but never offered a satisfactory solution to the thorny problem of what to do if Japan ever attacked the Philippines.

    By 1939, it had become apparent that the US would likely become embroiled in a world war and would have much more to worry about than just defending (or recapturing) the Philippines from Japan. Thus the Rainbow series of war plans was born. This development made it even more likely that the US would not be able to successfully defend the Philippines, but even then Roosevelt and Marshall hoped they could deter Japan by making the problem of capturing the islands more difficult. MacArthur had been sent out to the Philippines in 1936 to create and train an independent Philippine Armed Forces in anticipation of full independence scheduled for 1946. He had been hampered by a lack of funds and other problems, but he complicated his problems by reporting to Marshall and Roosevelt in 1941 that he would be able to field a large, well trained infantry force which did not exist and which he had no realistic chance of creating.

    At the same time General Hap Arnold, he Chief of the USAAF convinced Roosevelt and Marshall that a force of the new B-17 bombers in the Philippines would threaten Japan to the extent that they would not dare to attack the Philippines. This was a ridiculous claim, but nevertheless taken seriously by Roosevelt and Marshall, so in mid-1941, it was decided to send the bombers, a force of P-40's to defend them, and additional reinforcements to bolster the Philippine's ground defenses. MacArthur assured Washington that with his non-existent "well-trained" Filipino troops, the B-17's, P-40's, and the additional US troops and equipment being sent to him, that he could hold the Philippines.

    The one obvious flaw in this scenario that no one but the US Navy seemed to notice, was the fact that it would require a strong naval presence to assure a continued flow of supplies and reinforcements to the Philippines. With the US virtually at war (although undeclared) with Germany in the Atlantic, there were no reinforcements being sent to the Pacific Fleet. In fact, the Pacific Fleet was being stripped to send ships to the Atlantic. This meant there was no hope that the US Navy could challenge Japanese control of the Western Pacific in the event of war. It also doomed any hoped-for defense of the Philippines.

    Neither the later versions of War Plan Orange, nor Rainbow 5 (AKA WP 46 or Plan Dog) envisioned a successful defense of the Philippines. Rainbow 5 (drawn up by Admiral Stark in 1939) did not assign any naval forces (beyond those already assigned to the Asiatic Fleet) to the task of defending (or retaking) the Philippines. It's true there was no joint command in the Pacific at this time, but that was also true up until the very end of the war. Admiral Hart, commander of the US Asiatic Fleet had warmed MacArthur and Washington, that he could not stop the Japanese with his antique naval force.

    Everyone involved, Roosevelt, Marshall, Arnold, Stark, Hart, and MacArthur, knew (or should have known), that the US Navy could not assure the continued flow of supplies and reinforcements that a successful Philippine defense depended upon, and that there was no provision for (or possibility of) a naval reinforcement of the Asiatic Fleet. Thus, the American plans for the defense of the Philippines immediately prior to Pearl Harbor appear to have been based on wishful thinking, and an unrealistic hope that the Japanese could be bluffed into foregoing an attack on the Philippines. For a thorough discussion of this matter see Costello's "The Pacific War".



     

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