Japan Goes South



Normally I upload new episodes of my podcast on the 1st and 16th days of each month, but because February is the shortest month, I am giving you the second episode a day early.  For Episode 39 we will see how the Japanese conquered most of Indonesia, an area the Dutch had dominated for more than three centuries, in only three months.



(Transcript, added 08/05/2020.)


Episode 39: Japan Goes South

Greetings, dear listeners! Today we continue the World War II narrative that we began at the beginning of this year – 2018. So far we have seen Japan bomb Pearl Harbor, capture islands in the mid-Pacific like Guam, conquer Malaya and Singapore, and invade the Philippines. So where are the Japanese going to attack next? We saw previously that the part of Southeast Asia they wanted most of all was Indonesia, or as it was called back then, the Dutch East Indies. Although the Japanese have conquered many lands so far, they have not yet taken a place that has oil. And you can’t run a modern economy, or a modern military machine, without fossil fuel. However, Indonesia has the largest oil reserves in the Far East; back in Episode 33 I told you about the oil discoveries. The islands are also abundantly blessed with other resources, especially bauxite, iron, rubber and tin. Now the way has been cleared for the Japanese, with the conquest of the territories between Japan and Indonesia, and they are ready go for what they see as the big prize, the “brass ring” as my generation called it. Will it go as well as their other conquests have gone so far?

I hope this isn’t the first episode of this podcast you have listened to, but if it is, I recommend you also listen to Episodes 17, 22 and 33 to learn about Indonesia during the period when the Dutch were involved there. Episode 17 covers the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the time of the Dutch East India Company, Episode 22 covers the nineteenth century, when the Dutch took over, and Episode 33 covers events in the early twentieth century, before World War II began. And speaking of World War II, to catch up on events in the Pacific theater of that conflict, the episodes you need to listen to are 36, 37 and 38. And now let’s get into the battle for the Indies.


We don’t have as many records for the campaign in Indonesia as we do for the campaigns in Malaya and the Philippines, because the Japanese advanced so quickly; in most places they cut through the Allied defenses like a knife through butter. Japanese Imperial Headquarters predicted it would take six months to conquer the Indonesian archipelago, but except for Timor and western New Guinea, the job was completed in only three months. As a result few pictures were taken, and some records were probably destroyed. To give one example, I could not find any videos recorded at the battle of the Java Sea. Therefore, when I tell you everything I found concerning the Indonesian campaign, it may take less time than you would expect.

On the eve of the invasion, the British had 1,000 regular soldiers, mostly Indians, and about 2,500 native volunteers, to defend the part of Borneo they ruled, Sarawak, Brunei, and North Borneo. Four new airfields were built in Sarawak in 1941, but with most available British forces committed to the fighting in Europe, North Africa and the Atlantic, there were no planes or ships left for Borneo. The Dutch force in the Indies was way down from prewar levels, of course, because it had been more than a year since the Netherlands fell to Germany. Still, the number of Dutch and Indonesian soldiers in late 1941 were 50,000 on Java, 8,500 on Sumatra, 6,600 on Borneo, 2,300 on Sulawesi, 600 on Bali, 500 on eastern islands like West Timor, and 1,300 on and near western New Guinea, for a total of 69,800.

On the other side, the Japanese eventually committed the largest force that it would send anywhere in Southeast Asia: 52 warships, 18 submarines, 193 tanks and armored cars, 2,017 artillery pieces, 5,898 other motor vehicles, 11,750 horses, and 609 aircraft. A total of 107,800 personnel were sent; unfortunately I couldn’t find anywhere how many of these were combat troops. Most of the soldiers would come from the Japanese XVIth Army, led by Lt. Gen. Imamura Hitoshi. They were organized into two divisions, the 38th and the 56th. In addition, the First Paratroop Raiding Group would be used for the Sumatra landing, and when all forces were ready to land on Java, the 2nd Division would be sent from Japan, and the 48th Division would be sent from the Philippines. All these units formed three groups, which would be called the Western Force, the Central Force and the Eastern Force, after the location of the islands they were expected to conquer.

The Allies knew Japan would eventually go for the resource-rich Dutch East Indies, if they could not stop the Japanese in Malaya and the Philippines. Japan showed it was interested in this long before the Pacific War began; while the main fighting was in China, Japan occupied two groups of tiny islands in the South China Sea, the Paracel Islands in 1938, and the Spratly Islands in 1939. Nobody lived on these islands, though in the early twentieth century they had been claimed by China and France. These islands would be useful as stepping stones, for any offensive directed southward, towards the thousands of islands in Southeast Asia.

Podcast Footnote: You may have heard of the Spratly Islands, because they were in the news more recently, when China occupied them and dredged up sand to enlarge one of the islands, making it big enough to build an airbase on it. The Spratly Islands have also been claimed by Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei; Philippine fishermen work in the area with their boats, for instance. At the moment, it looks like the Philippines and China won’t fight over the matter, but with the other claims still up, I don’t think this is the last we have heard of this territorial dispute. End footnote.

In the last two episodes, we saw that Japan began its invasions of Malaya and the Philippines on December 8, 1941, right after the raid on Pearl Harbor. At first, the Japanese were planning to wait at least until January to see what the Dutch would do, and quote, “treat the Netherlands as a quasi enemy until actual hostilities … occur.” Unquote. Well, they didn’t have to wait for long, because the Dutch declared war on Japan on December 8, the same day as the American and British war declarations. Therefore the plan for invading the Dutch East Indies was activated ahead of schedule. The main Japanese concern was that the Dutch would try “scorched earth” tactics and destroy the oil wells to keep them from falling into Japanese hands, so Japan’s strategists and generals emphasized speed; they had to capture the Indonesian oilfields before the Dutch could do anything with them. Thus, on December 13, less than a week after the war declaration, the Western Force left Cam Ranh Bay, in Vietnam.

The Japanese invasion began with an assault on northern Borneo, the British-ruled part of that huge island. Borneo at the time was mostly jungle, with mangrove swamps along the coast. Little was known about the interior, and the only roads that exists were around the river mouths, and they of poor quality. This meant all the objectives that needed to be taken were on the coasts, and the army had to rely on boats for transportation.

The first landing was 10,000 Japanese soldiers coming ashore at Miri, in northern Sarawak, on December 16. Here they captured their first oilfield in the region, but the British had already capped the wells, and removed the equipment and personnel needed to run the wells, sending them to Singapore. The Japanese were right about the need to capture the oil-producing areas quickly. Until they could replace what had been taken away, no oil for them! Or as a famous guest on the Seinfeld show paraphrased it:

<No soup for you!>

The Japanese immediately split into two groups and marched north and south on the coast of Borneo. The group going north invaded Brunei and conquered it, after six days of fighting, Then they captured the offshore island of Labuan on the first day of 1942, before continuing into North Borneo. The sultan of Brunei and most of the officials under him were allowed to keep their jobs; in fact, the Japanese enlarged the sultan’s tiny realm by giving him North Borneo to govern as well. As for the soldiers marching south, they took Kuching on December 23, thereby completing the conquest of Sarawak. We saw back in Episode 23 that the current ruler of Sarawak was a British private citizen, Charles Vyner Brooke, the so-called “White Rajah.” He was on vacation in Australia at this time, and thus avoided getting captured, but the Japanese occupation of Sarawak meant Brooke could not return home until after the war ended. Next, the Japanese force in Kuching marched around Borneo’s western tip and began taking the Dutch part of the island, capturing the towns of Pemangkat on January 27 and Potianak on January 29.

Meanwhile in the eastern part of the Indies, the weakest link in the line of defense against the Japanese was the Portuguese half of Timor. Long-time listeners will remember that in 1640, Portugal and the Netherlands ended a fight over Timor, the island nearest to Australia, by dividing it in two, with the Dutch getting the western half, and the Portuguese getting the eastern half. Still there were disputes over where the property line ran between the two halves, until a treaty signed in 1859 established a permanent border. By this time the Portuguese Empire was no longer important, and while the Lisbon government still gave some attention to its other colonies, like Mozambique and Macao, they positively neglected Portuguese Timor. Investment in infrastructure, health, and education was minimal, and about all they did with the colony was turn it into a Portuguese version of “Devil’s Island,” using it as a place to exile criminals that were seen as quote-unquote “problems,” especially political prisoners.

Portugal stayed neutral when World War II broke out, but the Allies felt the Japanese would grab Timor anyway, like they had occupied French Indochina, so they could not leave the colony alone. On December 17, a force of Dutch and Australian troops occupied Portuguese Timor. Australia was involved in the war at this point because her membership in the Commonwealth of Nations required involvement on Britain’s side; on the day Britain entered the war, Australia entered it, too. Anyway, Portugal protested, but Lisbon did not miss the colony enough to enter the war, or otherwise try to take it back. The Allied presence turned Portuguese Timor from the weakest link into one of the strongest links, and ironically guaranteed that the Japanese would eventually invade the island.

1942 began with the Allies putting themselves under a unified command, modeled after the one they had on the Western Front in World War I. This organization was called ABDA COM; the first A stood for the Americans, the B stood for the British, the D stood for the Dutch, and the second A stood for the Australians. All Allied forces in Southeast Asia and nearby places like northern Australia and New Guinea, what the British called the “Southwest Pacific,” would be under this military umbrella. The commander in chief was the general commanding the British forces in India, Archibald Wavell, and his headquarters was at Lembang, on western Java. Still, it would take more than reorganization to halt the Japanese offensive, for the Allied forces were spread too thin, over an area too large. By themselves, the Indonesian islands and the surrounding sea are about as large as the continental United States. Allied naval strength was down to 9 cruisers, 23 destroyers, and 36 submarines; no battleships or carriers were available. Because it would take time to build enough ships to match the vastly superior Japanese Fleet, the Allies would need a miracle to succeed at this point.

ABDA COM’s first test was already on the way; the Japanese XVI Army had left its home base, at Palau in Micronesia, in the middle of December. In Episode 38 we saw that this army and its support ships had assisted in the Philippine campaign, by taking the city of Davao and the island of Jolo. Now it was approaching Indonesia, and it split into the Central Force and the Eastern Force. The Central Force speeded toward Borneo, and landed on the east coast, taking Tarakan on January 11. Four Allied destroyers rushed to engage the Central Force and they met it off Balikpapan, the site of Borneo’s largest oilfield, before dawn on January 24. This clash, called the battle of Makassar Strait, was the only Allied triumph I can tell you about today; the destroyers escaped unharmed after sinking 4 Japanese transports and a patrol ship and damaging some of the other vessels. Nevertheless, the Japanese were able to take Balikpapan, and went on to take Bandjermasin, on the south coast, on February 10. With that the entire coast of Borneo was in Japanese hands, and since the interior was only fit for the primitive tribes living there, this meant the conquest of Borneo was complete.

The Eastern Force landed at Manado, on the northern tip of Sulawesi, on January 11, the same day as the landing on east Borneo. From there they sailed between Sulawesi and the Moluccas, until they reached the bodies of water called the Flores Sea and the Banda Sea. On Sulawesi they finished conquering the island by landing at Kendari on January 24, and Makassar on February 9. Next, four destroyers escorted two troop transports as they crossed the Java Sea to land their soldiers on Bali, on February 18. This was the first Japanese landing in the southern, more heavily populated layer of Indonesian islands; everything else they had captured up to this point had been in the northern tier of islands. The Allies could not ignore a Japanese presence on Bali; if the Japanese captured the island’s airfield, their planes would be able to strike targets on Java. To deal with this threat, they managed to scrape together a larger naval force: three cruisers, seven destroyers, and two submarines, backed up by twenty planes. The resulting battle, fought off Bali on the night of February 19 & 20, is called both the battle of Lombok Strait and the battle of the Badung Strait. Though the Allies outnumbered and outgunned the Japanese, they could not coordinate their attacks, and the Japanese showed they were better at night battles, by sinking a Dutch destroyer, the Piet Hein, before their ships withdrew. On Bali the mostly native garrison surrendered without a fight, allowing the Japanese to take the airfield intact.

Meanwhile to the east, another part of the Eastern Force captured Amboina, modern Ambon, the most important island in the Moluccas, on January 30, before proceeding on to Timor. This force included four of the six aircraft carriers used against Pearl Harbor. On February 19, when the carriers were just east of Timor, they launched their planes against the nearest Australian city, the capital of Australia’s Northern Territory, Darwin. The air raid wasn’t followed up — the planes would be needed to assist in the landing of troops on Timor — but Darwin was so devastated that it was abandoned for a while. This was the first time a foreign power had ever attacked Australia; before the war ended sixty-four air raids would strike Darwin.

For Timor, there was an amphibious assault on Dili, the Portuguese capital, and a paratroop landing took the Dutch city of Kupang; both of these actions happened on February 20. However, 400 Allied soldiers, mostly Australians, chose to become guerrillas, and they continued to resist the Japanese on the eastern end of Timor for almost a full year, with aircraft and ships from Australia keeping them supplied. We will come back to them in a few minutes.

In the west it was now time for the Japanese to go for Sumatra, the big western island. The Allies had been expecting this as early as December, and tried to strengthen Sumatra’s defenses. Near Palembang, the main city of Sumatra, antiaircraft guns were set up at the two airfields and at the local oil refineries; however, there wasn’t enough ammunition for the guns, because the ammunition delivery ships had been sunk by the Japanese before they could arrive. 3,400 troops, mostly Australians, were transferred to Sumatra from Malaya when it became clear they couldn’t hold onto the Malay peninsula. The last planes based on Singapore were evacuated to Sumatra, too, when the Japanese landed on Britain’s fortress island.

The Japanese staged their first air raid against Palembang on February 6, and the invasion force designated for Sumatra was assembled at Cam Ranh Bay in Vietnam. This was the 229th Regiment of the 38th Infantry Division, and one batallion from the 230th Infantry Regiment, with their troop transports and the escort ships that would go with them. They left Cam Ranh Bay in three groups, organized as follows:

1. Eight transports, one cruiser, four destroyers, five minesweepers and two submarine hunters left on February 9. This group would invade Bangka, a small nearby island, as well as Palembang.
2. Six cruisers, four destroyers and the aircraft carrier Ryujo left on February 10.
3. Finally the largest group, thirteen transports, one cruiser, one frigate, four destroyers and a submarine hunter left on February 11.

The battle for Sumatra began on February 13. Allied aircraft left Sumatra to attack the approaching fleet, 180 Japanese paratroopers landed on one of the Palembang airfields, and 90 more paratroopers came down near one of the refineries. The paratroopers failed to take the airfield, and though they captured the refinery intact at first, the Allies drove them out again, suffering heavy losses of their own in the process. The paratroopers who survived these clashes were joined by 60 more dropped later in the day, and they were able to hold out until the main force arrived.

All attempts to stop the Japanese fleet failed, both with ships and with planes. There was one especially heroic attempt by one boat that had no chance of succeeding. I will read for you Wikipedia’s description of the incident, though I found the story in more than one of my sources. Quote:

“On the morning of 13 February, a river boat commandeered by the British Royal Navy, HMS Li Wo — under Lieutenant Thomas Wilkinson — ferrying personnel and equipment between Singapore and the Dutch East Indies, ran into the Japanese fleet. Although Li Wo was armed only with a 4-inch (100 mm) gun and two machineguns, its crew fired at the Japanese troop transport ships, setting one on fire and damaging several others, while under fire from the Japanese cruisers. This action continued for 90 minutes until the Li Wo ran out of ammunition. Wilkinson then ordered the ramming of the nearest transport, before his ship was destroyed by Japanese fire. Wilkinson received a posthumous Victoria Cross (VC), the highest award for gallantry in the British Commonwealth, and the only VC awarded in the Dutch East Indies campaign.”

End quote.

One Japanese transport, the Otawa Maru, was sunk as it approached Sumatra, while the rest landed their troops on Sumatra and Bangka on February 14. They took Palembang the next day, thereby capturing the key oil port on Sumatra; the Dutch gave orders to destroy all oil and rubber supplies in the neighborhood, and General Wavell ordered all remaining Allied aircraft to withdraw to Java. This left 8,000 Dutch reserve troops and 1,200 paramilitary policemen stranded in central and northern Sumatra. And as if they didn’t have enough problems to deal with, the community of Aceh, on the northwestern tip of the island, launched an anti-Dutch, pro-Japanese revolt. They would. We saw in Episode 22 that this was the hardest part of the Indies for the Dutch to conquer, and the residents of Aceh never fully accepted Dutch rule afterwards. The Japanese began their mopping up operation in this area with an invasion of 22,000 soldiers, which crossed the Malacca Strait from Singapore to northern Sumatra on February 28.

After all this, which Indonesian island was left to the Allies? Did I hear a listener from Seattle say “Java?” And you weren’t making a joke about coffee? Go to the head of the class! Yes, the Japanese saved Java for last because they expected a bigger fight than they had gotten elsewhere; more than seventy percent of the Dutch soldiers were stationed here. For that reason, the Japanese waited until their reinforcements arrived. The Allies also expected a big battle. Because ABDACOM had failed to even slow down the Japanese advance, it was dissolved on February 23, and General Wavell was evacuated to India. For his next assignment, he would command British forces in both India and Burma.

However, the showdown between Japan and the Allies did not come on land but in the waters north of Java, the Java Sea. At 4 PM on February 27, 1942, the Dutch admiral Karel Doorman spotted the approaching Eastern Force, only fifty miles north of Surabaya. Doorman’s only hope was to stop the Japanese ships before they landed their troops, so he moved to engage them, signaling to the rest of the fleet, quote: “Ik val aan, volg mij.” Unquote. This was Dutch for “I am attacking, follow me,” and is considered heroic because the admiral knew the odds were stacked against him.

The Japanese had ten troop transports, escorted by three heavy cruisers, four light cruisers and fourteen destroyers. Against this the Allies had two heavy cruisers, the Exeter and the Houston; three light cruisers, the De Ruyter, the Java and the Perth; and nine destroyers, four of them American, two of them Dutch and three of them British. Admiral Doorman’s flagship was the De Ruyter, though it was not the largest ship he had. Unfortunately morale on the Allied ships was poor, and so were communications between them; in fact, because the ships came from four different countries, the crews hadn’t learned how to work together. The one area in which the Allies held an advantage was superior air power; would that be enough to decide the battle?

At first the two sides simply exchanged shots without inflicting much damage for an hour. Then the Exeter was hit, suffering heavy damage. Doorman ordered the Exeter to return to Surabaya, with one of the Dutch destroyers, the Witte de With, as an escort. Twenty minutes later, a torpedo sank the other Dutch destroyer, the Kortenaer. With the Allied ships now in confusion, Doorman had them fall back and regroup, before engaging the Japanese fleet again. The second clash resulted in the sinking of another Allied destroyer, the Electra, this time by gunfire. On the Japanese side, three destroyers were hit and one of them, the Asagumo, was forced to withdraw.

For a little while Doorman thought the Japanese were doing a maneuver called “Crossing the T,” which would have exposed his ships to maximum gunfire from the Japanese ships. Therefore he ordered a withdrawal to the southeast, except for the four American destroyers, which would lay a smoke screen to cover their retreat. Then after sundown he changed his mind and tried to go around the Japanese warships, in order to get at the troop transports. In so doing one destroyer, the Jupiter, struck a Dutch mine and sank, and then when they passed the spot where the Kortenaer went down, the last available destroyer, the Encounter, stopped to pick up survivors. As for the American destroyers, they returned to Surabaya because they were low on both fuel and ammunition.

Now with only four cruisers left, Doorman attacked the Japanese fleet once more at 11 PM. The De Ruyter and the Java were sunk by torpedoes; Doorman went down with his flagship. The last two cruisers, the Perth and the Houston, followed Doorman’s last instructions, and escaped to Tanjung Priok, the main harbor of Batavia.

The sacrifice of all those Allied ships and men only delayed the Japanese landings on Java by one day. The Eastern Force, the fleet Doorman had tried to stop, made landfall on February 28, forty miles west of Surabaya. Another invading fleet, the Western Force, arrived at Bantam Bay, near the northwestern corner of Java, on the same day. The Perth and the Houston picked up a Dutch destroyer at Batavia and on the evening of February 28, they tried to slip around Java to the south coast, where they thought they could get reinforcements from the Australian Navy. Instead they blundered into the Japanese fleet at Bantam Bay, and this battle, the battle of Sunda Strait, resulted in the sinking of both cruisers, while the Dutch destroyer ran aground on a reef. The Japanese in turn suffered light losses: one minelayer sunk, three troop transports sunk, one troop transport grounded, and one cruiser damaged.

As for the Allied ships at Surabaya, they departed in different directions on February 28. The four American destroyers that had been in the first battle of the Java Sea went by way of Bali Strait, and though they encountered a Japanese destroyer on the way, they made it to Australia. All aircraft remaining to the Allies were flown to Australia as well. The two damaged ships, the Exeter and the Encounter, left Surabaya with an American destroyer, the Pope, hoping to slip through the Sunda Strait and get to Sri Lanka for further repairs. Instead, they encountered the Eastern Force again, just south of Borneo, and were all sunk on March 1; we call this the second battle of the Java Sea. The last Dutch destroyer, the Witte de With, was also heavily damaged in that battle, and was scuttled the next day.

With the Allied planes and ships gone, the end was in sight for the troops remaining. On March 1 the Japanese Western Force made a third landing on Java, at Eretan Wetan, a town on the coast east of Batavia. Batavia fell to the invaders on March 5, and the Dutch East Indies government surrendered unconditionally on March 8. The Dutch soldiers in central and northern Sumatra refused to recognize the surrender, but with the Japanese pressing on them from both the north and the south, they couldn’t resist much longer than that; these Dutch gave up on March 28.

That left the Australians holding out on Timor. This group lasted as long as it did because the native Timorese overwhelmingly preferred the Allies over the Japanese. The Timorese gave the Aussies food and shelter, provided ponies for carrying heavy equipment, acted as porters and guides, and helped set up ambushes; some even joined the Australian guerrilla force. The handful of Portuguese officials on Timor that the Japanese left in their prewar jobs also favored the Allies, though officially they were supposed to be neutral. Over the course of 1942, reinforcements from Australia brought the size of the guerrilla force up to about 700; air raids on Japanese targets by American and Australian planes helped as well. As a result, the Japanese brought in reinforcements of their own, until they had both the 38th and 48th divisions, and five regiments from other units, all on the island; they also turned against the Portuguese, and began removing any Portuguese citizens they got their hands on. The Australian Navy began covertly removing Portuguese, Dutch and Australian citizens from Timor in December; the last of them departed the island on February 10, 1943. Afterwards, native Timorese attempted to continue the struggle, and they suffered terribly at the hands of the Japanese; estimates of the number of Timorese killed during the war range from 40,000 to 70,000.

If there is a bright side to the last story, it is that the fighting on Timor tied down several Japanese units that could have been used on New Guinea, after the war shifted to there. Thus, it is possible that such a diversion kept the Japanese from bringing a force large enough to conquer all of New Guinea; the people of Port Moresby may have to thank the Timorese as well as the Australians, for saving their city. And one of the units mentioned a minute ago never left Timor; the 48th Division, which had previously been used to conquer the northern Philippines and Java, had to perform garrison duty on Timor for the rest of the war.

Okay, that pretty much takes care of Indonesia for World War II. There won’t be any big battles after this – the first battle of the Java Sea was the biggest one – and most of Indonesia will remain under Japanese rule until the end of the war. In a matter of weeks the Dutch had lost a huge area that they had dominated for centuries. 100,000 prisoners were captured, most of which were marched to prisoner of war camps, and forced to do hard labor for the next three and a half years. With the Indonesian story done, it is now time to move to another theater of the war. Currently I plan to return to the Philippines, and wrap up the campaign which started there in Episode 38. So join me next time to find out how that campaign turned out.

If you enjoyed this episode and would like to support the podcast, you can make a donation through Paypal, by clicking on the Paypal button, at the bottom of this episode’s Blubrry.com page. Donations start at one US dollar, and can either be one-time donations, or you can set up Paypal to draw a monthly amount. Either way, I will mention your first name at the beginning of the next episode to be recorded after I receive it. If you cannot see the button, or want to donate another way, contact me on the podcast’s Facebook page. If you cannot donate at this time, you can also help the podcast by writing a review on iTunes, or wherever you listen to or download your favorite podcasts. “Like” the History of Southeast Asia Podcast page on Facebook, so you won’t miss extra content like pictures. And tell anyone you know who might like the podcast; word of mouth advertising is often the best kind of advertising. Thank you for listening, and come back when the monsoon winds are blowing right!


The Battle for the Philippines, Part 1



Yesterday Dan Carlin, the “Godfather of history podcasting,” presented his latest contribution, and now my latest podcast episode is available!  The podcasters I hang out with do not speak evil of each other’s work, so go ahead and plan your day around listening to Dan’s episode (I certainly will), but I will be happy if you listen to mine, too.

Episode 38 continues on the topic the podcast has been covering since the year began — World War II in Southeast Asia.  This time we will see the Japanese invasion of the Philippines begin, but it won’t finish in this episode; resistance to the Japanese is far tougher here than it was in Malaya and Singapore.  And this episode will also give the biography of the American commander, Douglas MacArthur, up to 1941, because he will be a key figure in the war from this point on.



(Transcript, added 07/29/2020.)


Episode 38: The Battle for the Philippines, Part 1

Greetings, dear listeners, and welcome to the third installment of our series on World War II in Southeast Asia! In the first episode we saw Japan attack Pearl Harbor, and in the second episode we saw the Japanese conquer Malaya and Singapore. Now we are going to see the war spread to the American outpost in Southeast Asia, the Philippines. How long will the Japanese winning streak last?

If you have just joined us, and haven’t listened to previous episodes of the podcast, I recommend Episodes 36 and 37 for the World War II narrative, of course. And to find out how the Americans acquired and ran the Philippines before the war, check out the mini-series on the Philippines, Episodes 28 through 31. For today I will begin the narrative by telling the pre-war biography of the American commander. He will play a critical role throughout the Pacific War, from the beginning to the end, and he is a larger-than-life character in both American and Philippine history.


Douglas MacArthur was born in 1880, in Little Rock, Arkansas. His father, Arthur MacArthur, was a Civil War hero, and a veteran of the Indian Wars in the American West, before going to the Philippines at the end of the nineteenth century. For most of his career the elder MacArthur held the rank of captain, but after the Spanish-American War broke out he was promoted rapidly until he became a general, because at this date there were few American soldiers with any military experience, and those who had it were put in positions of command wherever possible. You already met him in Episode 30 of this podcast; forty years before World War II he commanded American forces in the Philippine-American War, and served for one year as military governor of the Philippines. Meanwhile his son Douglas won an appointment to West Point, and his mother, Mary Pinkney Hardy, moved to a hotel near the academy, spending a full four years in that hotel so she could keep an eye on her son. That was the first of Douglas MacArthur’s idiosyncrasies we will see; he always looked to his parents for approval, and as long as they were alive he never could get away from them completely.

The younger MacArthur graduated at the head of the 1903 class, the cadet with the best scores since Robert E. Lee went to West Point, seventy-nine years earlier. Right after that, he went to the Philippines, since that was where American soldiers were needed, but instead of getting stationed around Manila, where his father was, he was sent to the central islands, the Visayas, and treated like any other junior officer. Here he was assigned to the Army Corps of Engineers, which had the job of improving harbors and other parts of the local infrastructure. This is also where he got his first combat experience. One day he was exploring the jungle near IloIlo, the main town on Panay Island, when two guerrillas or bandits ambushed him. One of them shot a hole in MacArthur’s hat, and then in the best cowboy style, MacArthur drew his pistol and killed them both. However, afterwards he wrote in his annual report, quote: “Participated in no battle engagements or actions.” End quote. He had not yet gotten into the habit of exaggerating his own achievements, as he will do so often after this.

MacArthur was in the Visayas for six months, and then he got transferred to a desk job in Manila, where he stayed for another six months, until he came down with malaria and had to return to the states to recuperate. For him the most interesting part of this assignment happened on his off-duty hours. To describe this experience I will read what Stanley Karnow wrote about it, in his book In Our Image.


<Read Page 260 paragraph.>

End Quote.

As soon as he recovered from his malaria in California, MacArthur received a dream assignment. His father, currently stationed in Tokyo as a military attache, was going to tour the rest of Asia, and he picked his son to join his staff as an aide-de-camp; of course his mother went with them, too, though she did not have an official job title. A man who knew the MacArthurs at this time wrote, quote: “Arthur MacArthur was the most flamboyantly egotistical man I had ever seen, until I met his son.” End quote. The tour lasted from October 1905 to June 1906, starting with visits to Japanese military bases in other cities besides Tokyo. Next they sailed into the Pacific, making stops at Shanghai, Hong Kong, Java and Singapore before going on to India. After a complete trip across the length and breadth of India they sailed back, this time with stops in Bangkok and Saigon; in Bangkok the younger MacArthur became a hero by replacing a blown fuse in the palace of King Chulalongkorn Rama V. For the last leg of the trip, they visited half a dozen Chinese cities, and then returned to Tokyo; one month after the tour ended the MacArthurs went back to the United States.

The next assignments were closer to home and uneventful, and they kept the MacArthurs together until Arthur’s death in 1912. Douglas finally saw action in 1914, when he was assigned to the American force that occupied the Mexican city of Veracruz, during the Mexican Civil War. But the real excitement for him came when the United States entered World War I, and MacArthur, then a colonel, was sent to France in 1917. On the Western Front, MacArthur was brave to the point of foolhardiness, feeling that the best way to keep the morale of his troops up was to participate in all their battles. Several fellow officers, including another veteran of the Philippines, General John Pershing, disapproved of him showing off in this way, and some predicted he would soon get himself killed. He was gassed once because he often did not bring a gasmask with him, but also was decorated with multiple medals, became the youngest person ever promoted to the rank of brigadier general, and served as chief of staff, brigade commander, and divisional commander by the end of the war.

After the war ended MacArthur was superintendent of West Point from 1919 to 1922, and he brought the academy’s curriculum up to date by introducing courses in history, government, economics and psychology. And as you probably guessed, his mother followed him to West Point again, and stayed in a nearby hotel again. Then he was sent to the Philippines to command an infantry brigade. This time his mother did not go, because MacArthur had married Louise Cromwell Brooks, a divorced socialite she did not approve of; she did not even attend their wedding. While MacArthur was delighted to be back in the Philippines – he had spent enough time in the islands to consider them his home away from home – his new wife found life in Manila frightfully dull, compared with big American cities like New York. The marriage lasted through this experience, but soured after they returned to the states a couple years later; with Douglas dedicated to the army life, and Louise obsessed with the entertainment and moneymaking schemes that the 1920s are famous for. In short, they were simply incompatible, and got divorced in 1929.

By then, MacArthur had received orders to go to the Philippines again, this time as supreme commander of all US forces stationed there. However, he only stayed until 1930, because President Herbert Hoover promoted him to Chief of Staff of the Army. When he returned to take this job, he brought back a souvenir from the Philippines that would give him trouble: a teenage Filipina actress named Isabel Rosario Cooper, also known as “Dimples.” Americans could have mistresses in the Philippines without raising too many eyebrows, as long as they didn’t marry them, but having one in the states was a scandal. He put her in an apartment in the Washington, DC neighborhood of Georgetown, bought her several kimonos and nightgowns, but did not give her a raincoat because he thought she did not need to go outside. Most of all, he did not want his mother to find out about Ms. Cooper.

The most controversial thing MacArthur did as Chief of Staff was the way he handled the so-called “Bonus March.” Back in 1924, Congress had promised it would pay a $1,000 bonus to each World War I veteran. Payment was scheduled for 1945, but after the Great Depression arrived, many of the veterans were unemployed and desperate; they needed the money now. In May 1932 they formed the Bonus Expedition, also known as the Bonus Army, and marched on Washington to demand immediate payment. When they arrived, 17,000 of them spent June camped in tents and hovels, and met on the steps of the US Capitol to put pressure on Congress. The House of Representatives agreed to move up the payment date, but the Senate voted against it, so the bonus bill did not pass. Most of the veterans left at that point, except for 2,000. On July 28 the remaining squatters rioted, and President Hoover ordered the Army to evict them and their families. Using cavalry, tanks, and tear gas, General MacArthur led the federal troops that marched from the vicinity of the White House and destroyed the camp. MacArthur felt that this use of force prevented a communist revolution, but most Americans were shocked at this treatment of their heroes from the last war. The veterans finally got their bonuses in 1936, when Congress voted in that year to make cash payments.

By the way, MacArthur’s second in command during the Bonus March was another officer you have probably heard of, Major Dwight David Eisenhower. Yes, that Eisenhower – the future supreme commander of the Allied forces in Europe during World War II, and a future president of the United States. From 1932 to 1939, whether MacArthur was in the states or in the Philippines, Eisenhower was there with him, though they strongly disliked each other. When he saw how MacArthur treated the Bonus Army, for instance, Eisenhower exclaimed, quote: “I just can’t understand how such a damn fool could have gotten to be a general.” Unquote. And years later, when somebody asked Eisenhower if he had met MacArthur, he answered, quote: “I studied dramatics under him for seven years.” Unquote. Still, Eisenhower was so good with numbers and at making sure MacArthur never lost his grip on reality, that MacArthur always found him useful. Manuel Quezon liked Eisenhower, too, because while MacArthur tended to describe every situation as better than it really was, Eisenhower answered all his questions truthfully.

Two newspaper columnists, Drew Pearson and Robert S. Allen, made fun of MacArthur’s behavior, comparing him to a pompous dictator, and criticized the heavy-handed way in which he dispersed the Bonus Army. MacArthur filed a libel suit against them, and soon after that Pearson learned about Isabel Cooper. He responded to the suit by having a lawyer tell MacArthur that he intended to have Isabel Cooper testify as a witness at the trial, which meant she would read the love letters the general had sent to her. Rather than have his secret mistress revealed, MacArthur dropped the case, and decided he needed to get Dimples out of his life, too. He gave her $15,000 and a ticket to the Philippines, but instead of using the ticket, Ms. Cooper looked for her fortune in America. She first tried running a hairdressing salon in the Midwest, and later tried to become a star in Hollywood, but the movie industry in those days was only interested in white actresses, so she could only land minor parts. She also tried to tell the story of her romance with the general, and failed to find an audience for it. Finally in 1960, at the age of 44, she gave up and committed suicide by taking an overdose of barbiturates.

Meanwhile, MacArthur could not get along with the new president who had replaced Hoover, Franklin Roosevelt, because Roosevelt and his New Dealers were political liberals, while MacArthur was a conservative. The worst clash involved a shouting match between them, where Roosevelt refused to accept MacArthur’s resignation, and after leaving the White House, the general threw up on the White House steps. A solution to the dispute presented itself, when American and Filipino leaders worked out a plan to prepare the Philippines for independence, and the new Philippine president, Manuel Quezon, asked that MacArthur become his military advisor. Roosevelt agreed to this request, because this would get rid of a political rival. MacArthur agreed, too, because he wanted to get away from Washington, and for his new job he had himself declared a field marshal, the only American to ever hold that title. Thus, he went to the Philippines once more in 1935, with his ailing mother and Eisenhower following along. Six weeks later his mother died, and MacArthur was free from being a mother’s boy at last.

On the boat that took him to the Philippines, MacArthur met Jean Marie Faircloth, the rich daughter of a banker from Nashville, Tennessee. She was proud of her family’s record of service in the Confederate army, during the American Civil War; one of those ancestors had fought Arthur MacArthur, more than seventy years earlier. She comforted Douglas MacArthur after the death of his mother, and they were married in 1937; unlike his first marriage, this one would last for life. One year later they had a son, and to keep a name in the family, they named him Arthur MacArthur IV.

Podcast Footnote: You may be interested to know that this MacArthur is still alive; in three weeks he will celebrate his 80th birthday. Unlike his father and grandfather, the youngest Arthur MacArthur avoided the public limelight after finishing college, living in a Manhattan apartment with his mother until her death in 2000. After that he kept his identity secret by using the alias of David Jordan, until Forbes Magazine tracked him down in 2005, but he refused to grant an interview. He never married, and we don’t know his profession, except that he did not go into the army like the rest of his family. The rumor mill suggests he was a concert pianist and a writer, and has been living in Greenwich Village since 2014. End footnote.

On the last day of 1937, Douglas MacArthur, now fifty-seven years old, retired from the US Army, but he continued to work for Quezon, recruiting and training the Filipinos to defend themselves if Japan attacked. His career had been a distinguished one, that would have satisfied most officers. Little did he know that the most important years of his life were still to come.

By the middle of 1941, a war between the United States and Japan looked likely, so Roosevelt called MacArthur out of retirement, and again made him commander of all US forces in the Philippines. Roosevelt also gave $10 million to build a serious defense force, the first serious expenditure on defense in the Philippines since the Great Depression began. Much of that would go towards planes, because MacArthur felt he could overcome the advantages the Japanese had, if he had enough B-17 bombers. Still, it would take time to send the new equipment over, and train the soldiers. Before that could happen, Japan struck, on December 8, 1941. Now let’s get into that conflict.


Looking back, the way the campaign turned out in the Philippines was inevitable. When Japanese forces moved into Southeast Asia, they were bound to attack the Philippines at some point. Although they were more interested in other territories, if they left the Philippines alone they would be leaving a US base right in the middle of their expanding empire. And because of the distances involved, a Japanese attack on the islands was bound to succeed. The Philippines are 600 miles from the nearest countries on the Asian mainland, about 1,500 miles from Japan, 6,000 miles from Hawaii – and almost 8,000 miles from California. Today airplanes are the most popular way to travel across oceans, but in the 1940s traveling by boat was more common than traveling by air, and it typically took a couple of weeks for a boat to go from the US mainland to the Philippines. When it came to logistics, the Americans did not have the advantage.

For the campaign, the main Japanese force was based on Taiwan, putting it about a hundred miles north of the nearest Philippine islands. In the last episode, we saw that the Japanese units sent to conquer Malaya and Singapore were outnumbered by the Allied troops they defeated. With the Philippines, the numbers were even more lopsided in the Allies’ favor. The force on Taiwan was just two divisions from the Japanese XIV Army, the 16th and the 48th Divisions, commanded by General Masaharu Homma, and its job was to defeat eleven American and Filipino divisions, led by General MacArthur. Moreover, because the invading force landed on eight beaches, it was divided into eight units, of which the largest was only regiment sized, so they were running the risk that the defenders might be able to keep the units separate and destroy them one at a time. To offset this, the Japanese XVI Army would also give some help; it was based in Palau, a group of tiny Micronesian islands one thousand miles east of the Philippines. The XVI Army had another assignment – to conquer eastern Indonesia – so its assistance would be brief, until it reached its own objective.

Besides the advantage of numbers, the other Allied advantage was that the Americans had not worn out their welcome in the Philippines, so there was a genuine fondness for them among the Filipinos. They especially felt that way about MacArthur, because he had befriended them. But while MacArthur boasted that he had more than 100,000 American and Filipino troops ready for anything that came their way, his force was much smaller, and it wasn’t ready. Three fourths of the Filipinos existed only on paper; they had never showed up when they were called into service. For those who did answer the call, training was inadequate, equipment was faulty and obsolete, and many items were in short supply, from steel helmets to shoes in decent condition. Hand grenades were not available at all.

As at Pearl Harbor, the Japanese attack on the Philippines caught the forces stationed there by surprise, and this time it was totally inexcusable, because they had been warned previously. At the same time as the Pearl Harbor raid, Japanese planes had flown over Manila to attack the naval installation at Cavite, and then during the next nine hours, MacArthur was informed of what happened at Pearl Harbor, but he did almost nothing. In addition, this day, December 8, was a Catholic holy day, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, and because it fell on a Monday in 1941, a lot of people took the day off, to enjoy a three-day weekend. The main air force base, Clark Field, had 36 P-40 fighters and 17 B-17 bombers, and the decision was made to send them up just an hour before the main air raid came. Thus, the planes were still being refueled when two hundred Japanese Zero fighters and Mitsubishi bombers came overhead and devastated the base. Another hundred Japanese planes attacked Iba Airfield, forty miles to the west of Clark, which had sixteen more P-40s. All but three of the B-17s and five of the P-40s were caught and destroyed on the ground. With that stroke, the Japanese gained mastery of the sky, and most World War II battles were decided by which side controlled the air, so the Americans and Filipinos were now at an even greater disadvantage than before.

The first ground attack, also on December 8, struck Batan, one of the small islands between Luzon and Taiwan. This was followed up on December 10 with the taking of Camiguan, another small northern island, and landings were made at three points on the north coast of Luzon, the big northern island in the Philippines; those points were Vigan, Aparri, and Gonzaga. Here the objective was to capture airfields, for use in future missions. As soon as this was done, the regiment which took Aparri moved inland, and captured another airfield at Tuguegarao, the capital of Cagayan Province, on December 12. MacArthur and the other American commanders held back their forces, and did not try to stop these landings; they correctly guessed that the main landing had not taken place yet, and these landings were in preparation for it. They did attempt to bomb the Japanese units with the few B-17s left to them, but these raids did not make much of a difference. Also important, the naval commander, Admiral Thomas C. Hart, withdrew most of the American ships from Philippine waters, so they would not suffer the same fate as the fleet at Pearl Harbor; only the submarines stayed behind. With the navy and most of the warplanes gone, the Allied army in the Philippines was now on its own.

Next, the Japanese XVI Army left Palau. 2,500 men from this force landed on the southeastern tip of Luzon and took the nearest city, Legaspi City, on December 12. From here it started to advance on the road running between Legaspi City and Manila.

Podcast Footnote: As I record this, Legaspi City is in the news, because the nearby volcano, Mount Mayon, is belching lava and ash, forcing an evacuation of 56,000 villagers. Mount Mayon is the most active volcano in the Philippines, with a major eruption about every ten years, so for the local residents, this is nothing new. Filipinos also admire Mount Mayon because of its perfect cone shape; think of Mount Fuji without any snow on it, and you’ll get the idea. End footnote.

The rest of the XVI Army headed for Mindanao, the big southern island. Before dawn on December 20, 5,000 troops came ashore and took Davao, Mindanao’s largest city. Because Davao already had the largest Japanese community in the Philippines, the only resistance came from one machine gun squad, and that was taken out by a direct hit from a shell fired by a Japanese destroyer. Three days later the occupation force was attacked by nine American B-17s, flying from Darwin, Australia, but visibility was poor and they did little damage. Then the XVI Army sailed to the Sulu islands and took the largest one, Jolo, on December 25; here there was no resistance. Jolo became an advance base for the XVI Army as it moved into Indonesian waters; we’ll come back to the XVI Army in the next episode. Davao and Jolo were the only places in the central and southern Philippines occupied at this stage in the campaign; as long as there was fighting on Luzon, both sides paid little attention to the other islands.

Speaking of Luzon, the main invasion from the XIV Army began on December 22, with the landing of 43,110 men, and between 80 and 100 tanks, on the beaches of Lingayen Gulf, the bay on the northwest side of Luzon. Once their position was secure, they marched directly south, making a beeline for Manila. The Americans and Filipinos set up five defensive lines between Lingayen Gulf and Manila, but the Japanese broke through all of them during the fourth week of December. Thousands of Filipinos simply threw away their weapons and fled into the jungle, though to their credit, many of them would come back as guerrillas to fight the Japanese later. In southeastern Luzon, the XVI Army force was more than halfway to Manila, and 7,000 troops, reinforcements from the Ryukyu Islands, landed at Lamon Bay on December 24 to join them.

If you want to see where all these places were, check out the first companion map I posted, on this episode’s Blubrry.com page and on the podcast’s Facebook page. This is a public domain map that apparently was created for the website History.army.mil, but I found it on several websites, including Wikipedia and Historylink101.com. I like it because the only details shown are the ones relevant to the Japanese invasion, so it is easy to understand what happened. For the units coming from Taiwan, the map uses Taiwan’s other name, Formosa, but that isn’t a problem as long as you know both names.

The American plan for a worst-case scenario like this was named Plan Orange, and it called for a general withdrawal to one corner of Luzon, the entrance to Manila Bay. By December 23 MacArthur realized that he would not be able to hold Manila, with Japanese troops approaching from two directions. Therefore he activated Plan Orange, and declared Manila an open city, to spare it from death and destruction. The evacuation was a tricky task, because MacArthur’s troops were grouped into two armies, more than 150 miles apart. These armies were the North Luzon Force, under General Jonathan Wainwright, currently on the defensive lines mentioned a couple minutes ago, and the South Luzon Force, led by General George Parker and currently stationed south and east of Manila. Fortunately for them, General Homma did not figure out what MacArthur was doing, and Wainwright was able to hold the last defensive line just long enough for the South Luzon Force to slip behind him, and get into the Bataan peninsula. Meanwhile, the Japanese entered Manila on January 2, 1942.

Podcast Footnote: If you have studied World War II battles, you may have heard of the place the Americans and Filipinos retreated to. Most Americans since then have called it Baton or Batan, but my Filipina wife insists that all three “As” are pronounced, so the correct pronunciation is Ba-ta-an. She got on my case when I didn’t pronounce it that way, so you’ve been warned. End footnote.

Bataan is on the other side of Manila Bay from Manila. In the water next to Bataan is a small tadpole-shaped island, named Corregidor. Because Corregidor guards the entrance to Manila Bay, it has been heavily fortified ever since the days when Spain ruled the Philippines, and MacArthur now moved his headquarters here. He also knew the jungles and mountains of Bataan like the back of his hand; in fact, this is where he caught malaria, the first time he was in the Philippines. With MacArthur was Philippine President Manuel Quezon, and both of them brought their families and staff. As long as the Allies held Bataan and Corregidor, the Japanese could not use Manila’s splendid harbor for shipping. Back in America, General Pershing, now eighty-two years old and retired, was no fan of MacArthur, but he was impressed enough by the evacuation to call it, quote: “one of the greatest moves in all military history.” Unquote.

Now I want you to check out the second companion map if you can, either on Blubrry.com or on the Facebook page. This one just has Bataan and Corregidor, and again shows all the places I will talk about next. The source is the Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection, on the University of Texas website. I have known for many years that this is an excellent place to find historical maps. The map I posted is a thumbnail, one fourth the size of the original; click on it to see the full sized original.

The battle of Bataan began on January 6, 1942, with a Japanese attack on Dinalupihan and Layac, the towns in the northernmost part of the peninsula. Today in Dinalupihan is a war memorial marking where this happened, called the First Line of Defense Monument. The Japanese broke through, and the Americans and Filipinos fell back to the first of two defensive lines they had set up. This was called the Abucay-Mauban Line, and it ran from the Nagbalayong River on the west side of Bataan, to the town of Mabatang in the east. In the middle of the line was a mountain more than 4,000 feet high, Mount Natib. General Wainwright’s troops guarded the eastern part of the line, and Parker’s troops guarded the west, but they did not meet on Mount Natib; the mountain was left largely unguarded because they assumed the terrain was impassible to the Japanese. We saw in the last episode that it was a mistake to think the Japanese could not get in everywhere, and in fact the Japanese broke through the line by climbing over the mountain. Thus, on January 22 the Allies had to fall back again, to the second defensive line. This line was halfway down the peninsula, running between the towns of Bagac and Orion, so it was called the Orion-Bagac Line.

Unlike the other defensive positions, the Orion-Bagac Line held. The Japanese tried staging amphibious landings behind the line, but these were thrown back into the sea. The defenders fought back with great courage and determination, and more than one soldier earned the Medal of Honor for his actions in late January and February. But the real reason for their success was a reduction in the number of attackers. In early January, Japanese Imperial Headquarters decided that more soldiers were needed for the campaign in Indonesia, so one of the two divisions on Luzon, the 48th, was withdrawn and assigned to the XVI Army; it landed on eastern Java at the beginning of March. The 48th Division would not return; after it got done on Java, it was transferred to the island of Timor, and it stayed there for the rest of the war. The other division, the 16th, was now scattered all over Luzon, guarding the captured cities. To continue the battle of Bataan, a reserve unit, the 65th Brigade, was sent to the front. This brigade had only received enough training to make it fit for garrison duty, and the Americans and Filipinos were able to hold it back as long as it fought alone. As a result, on February 8 General Homma broke off the fighting, by ordering a retreat from the farthest positions reached by the XIV Army. By now the Japanese had lost 7,000 soldiers in battles, and some 10,000 to 12,000 had died from disease. On top of all that, Tokyo expected to conquer the whole Philippines in fifty days, and now Homma had missed that deadline.

But this did not mean the Allies had a chance of winning. MacArthur told his men that the United States had not forgotten them, but with the Japanese controlling both the air and the sea, the Americans could not send reinforcements or supplies. And those supplies – food, medicines, weapons and ammunition, were now, if you will pardon the pun, in short supply. Originally it was expected that 43,000 troops would make it to Bataan, but because MacArthur’s withdrawal had been carried out so successfully, he now had 80,000 soldiers and 26,000 civilians to feed and look after. Even worse, the United States had sent supplies before the battle of Pearl Harbor, and MacArthur had stashed them in several locations around the islands, because he did not know where they would be needed. Now he could only get a fraction of those supplies; the Japanese captured most of the rest. Finally, the troops at Bataan could not go on the offensive, though they outnumbered the attackers; with their rations cut, they were too weak and hungry to move much. Any men or supplies lost could not be replaced, while the Japanese could replace their losses. All the Americans and Filipinos could do was use their fading energy to dig in and prepare for the next, inevitable attack.

We’re going to break off in the middle of the February stalemate, because our time is up for today. I don’t like keeping the listeners in suspense for more than one episode, but the events in this podcast have been covered in chronological order from Episode 1, and I’m not going to change that now. While the battle for the Philippines was going on, the Japanese also launched their Indonesian campaign, and that ended in March, before the fighting in Bataan was finished, so the next episode will be about the war in Indonesia. Then the episode after that, Episode 40, will cover the rest of the battle for the Philippines. If I can keep to the schedule I have followed from the start of this podcast, Episode 39 will be available in the middle of February 2018, and Episode 40 will be available on March 1.

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