The Japanese needed a powerful base and harbor. Unfortunately, they chose the Phillipines for their target. Yamamoto and Tojo wouldn't stop until the Phillipines was theres. An amphibious assault would be inflicted against the almost defenseless Phillipines. They would get their harbor from Manilla. If they had this harbor, China, Burma, Malaya, and the Dutch East Indies would be easily accessible to the Japanese.
The Phillipines was in American hands since the Spanish-American War, and there was some military support on the island. On the day Pearl Harbor was struck, the Japanese attacked Clark Field near Manilla and a naval base at Cavite. With these attacks, the Americans lacked enough supplies to launch a great defense against Japan's troops.
The Phillipines consisted of over 7,000 islands; the biggest were Luzon(holds Manilla) and Mindanao. The amphibious assault was located on north and south Luzon shores. The attackers were under the command of Lieutenant General Masaharu Homma. The beach attacks were almost unopposed.
Under Admiral Thomas C. Hart(U.S. Asiatic Fleet) ordered all his remaining ships to Australia. Here, the ships were safe. Japan liked the U.S. retreat; everything was going to plan. Manilla, in fear of an attack, declared it an OPEN CITY. They welcomed the Japan invaders, but the Japanese didn't care. Manilla was attacked on December 27, 1941, destroying buildings, and killing innocent civilians. The Manilla ports were totally destroyed.
On January 2, 1942, the Japanese troops entered the city. The Japanese told the civilians of the city that the code of Bushido would appeal to the city. "Anyone who inflicts, or attempts to inflict, an injury upon Japanese soldiers, shall be shot to death. If the assailant, or attempted assailant, cannot be found, we will hold ten influential people who are in or about the streets of municipal cities where the event happend." Manilla was under Japanese control now.
The only resistance was General MacArthur, who had 60,000 troops, 11,000 Filipino scouts, and 19,000 Americans who were from the armed forces. MacArthur, severely out-numbered, retreated to Bataan Peninsula. Bataan was an ideal defense peninsula. There was one way in and out on land. Streams, hills, jungles, mountains, and volcanoes were some of the defense mechanisms that the Americans could take advantage of. The retreat was slightly successful. Major General Jonathan M. Wainwright's troops numbered 28,000 before the retreat. After the retreat, he had only 16,000 mainly because the Filipinos went home. Brigadier General Albert M. Jone's troops had 15,000 men. When he reached Bataan, he had 14,000 men. When they finally reached Bataan, tank traps and barb wire were laid out for the enemy.
Here at Bataan, the Japanese unleashed everything they had against the Americans. They gave them constant artillary bombardment, sea-borne inflitrations, and every other attack that could be possible. The Japanese command Lieutenant General Homma adviced General MacArthur's troops to surrender. General MacArthur refused, however. On top of this, every supply ship to support MacArthur was sunk before they even reached the shore.
As January approached, the troops were in a struggle for food. They were tired, hungry, and thirsty. They resulted to dogs, monkeys, snakes, and whatever vegetation and animal life they could get ahold of. On top of this, the men were developing serious diseases. Malaria, scurvy, and dysentery were some of the diseases the men were exposed to. Macarthur's troops were against all odds. They had hardly no food, no adequate clothing, and were running low on supplies.
MacArthur didn't have any choice except surrender, but back at home, they had other plans. On February 22, 1942, President Roosevelt ordered MacArthur to leave Luzon. He ordered him to go to Mindanao, where he would be transferred to neutral Australia. He was taken on March 12, along with his family and his needed staff. He left General Wainwright in charge and said to "defend Bataan in as great depth as you can," and "to destroy as much as you can so that it cannot be used against an American effort to recapture the Phillipines." The last quote was just in case they surrendered.
Only about a month after MacArthur left, his remaining troops were forced to surrender. They surrendered on April 9, 1942, which was 35,000 soldiers. General Wainright had escaped to Corregidor. This surrender would be one of the most famous in history.
The thousands of soldiers were to make a series of "death" marches on April 10, 1942. The route which they would be taking would be 85 miles from Bataan to San Fernando. San Fernando was a rail junction and would be the place where the prisoners would be taken to concentration camps.
The Japanese made the U.S. and Filipino soldiers walk in the hot temperatures, into the unknown. All the soldiers were extremely filthy, and were lacking water and food. Some were very near dehydration and starvation. Japanese shot any prisoners with Japanese articles and killed anybody that was too tired to go on. Many Japanese felt that the soldiers might as well be dead because it was against Japanese beliefs to surrender. The Japanese would rather die. So on many occasions throughout the death march, Japanese soldiers would just shoot an American just because.
The Americans underwent some very bad conditions. Marches were pushed to the ground and shot because they couldn't get up. The soldiers were robbed, beaten, taunted with food and water which the Japanese selfishly tossed away in trash bins. Anybody who dropped out because of disease, thirst, exhaustion, starvation, or any other illment was killed by a mop-up squad.
On the sixth day of the death march, they finally landed in San Fernando. They were herded into trains which took them on a 3 hour ride and 7 mile hike up to O'Donnel prison camp in the jungles in Arlac Province. Bataan had fell.
When Bataan fell, Japan was one step closer to controlling Manilla Bay. There was one thing that stood in Japan's way; Corregidor.
Corregidor was in American hands, and had a sophisticated tunnel system all throughout the island. There were many supplies, and a huge hospital. Earlier in the year and in May of 1942, the Japanese pounded this island with a countless number of bombs and shells. Over time, the rock weakened, and the humans could not bare the pounding. The islands weapon systems were eventually wiped out and many fortifications were destroyed. The men and women of Corregidor island knew they would have to surrender.
The remaining fleet on the island destroyed anything and everything that would be of value to Japan. The Dewey floating dock was destroyed along with many other ships. Weapons, books, and confidential papers were also burned or destroyed. On May 6, 1942, Corregidor fell. The fall of the island caused the Americans to lose all possession of the Phillipines they had. However, one good thing came out of this battle. With the American resistance, many Japanese supplies and manpower was used delaying their plans by six months.
The Japanese now had control of the best harbor in the area and had pushed American troops back to Malaya. Now the Japanese were in a position to take the East Indies to get oil and supplies. The Japanese had won their prize.