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  • Four months have passed since the start of the  Pacific War, and of all the initial objectives of  

  • the Japanese Empire, only one remained unachievedThe invaders had up until now conquered the Dutch  

  • East Indies, advanced down the Malayan Peninsula  to capture Singapore, expanded through a series  

  • of islands in the Pacific Ocean, and achieved  important air and naval attacks that caused havoc  

  • on the Allied fleets. Furthermore, with the fall  of Rangoon, the Burma operation was on good track,  

  • so Tokyo was planning to shift to phase two  of operations, looking east towards Midway  

  • and the US, south towards Australia and New  Guinea and west towards Ceylon and India. But  

  • despite the early capture of Manila, still  there was a huge thorn on the Japanese side  

  • that hadn't been vanquished by the invaders. Thustoday we'll continue to cover the Battle of Bataan  

  • as the Japanese get reinforced and prepare for  a final assault against the Filipino defenders.

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  • As we had last seen in the Philippines, the  Japanese forces had suffered a tremendous  

  • defeat in the month of February. Discouraged  and battle weary, the invaders' advance had  

  • been stopped by the resilient American defenders  at the Orion-Bagac Line. Diseases like malaria  

  • and dysentery , alongside starvationweakened both sides in the Philippines,  

  • but they took a heavy toll on the Japanese in  particular. But not everyone died from disease:  

  • by the end of February, some units had been  surrounded in pockets, others had been held by  

  • the tenacious defenders and two entire battalions  had been destroyed at the Battle of the Points,  

  • which finally forced General Homma to order the  withdrawal of all his engaged forces all along  

  • the Orion-Bagac Line. This defeat had left Homma  humiliated by commanders in Tokyo and he forced to  

  • ask for reinforcements, being the only Japanese  commander to have been defeated up until now.  

  • And yet, they would still allow  him to prove his worth in the end,  

  • with the reinforcement of a completely fresh  division and some much needed siege artillery.  

  • The transfer of the 4th Division from Shanghai  to the Philippines would take some time though,  

  • and with the focus of the Empire on the Dutch  East Indies, it would finally arrive by March 15.  

  • Now, with his other forces strengthened  and well-rested and with the additional  

  • reinforcement of the Nagano Detachment , the  Japanese general was ready for a final assault

  • Meanwhile, the American defenders had their  spirits up after the successful defense of  

  • the Orion-Bagac Line, but the lack of food and  medicine due to the strong Japanese blockade  

  • would eventually leave them weaker with each  passing day, as food rations would be cut by  

  • 50% in the last two weeks of fighting. The 26th  cavalry's horses were slaughtered for meat.  

  • Efforts were made to break Homma's blockade, but  it was fruitless, the Americans simply didn't have  

  • the naval resources needed to do so. President  Roosevelt and Chief of Staff George Marshall  

  • thus continued their efforts to supply General  MacArthur, but it was too little for the  

  • commander of the USAFFE, who felt abandoned by  Washington. At this point, MacArthur had also  

  • become a war hero for the American populationbolstered by his personal media coverage team,  

  • thus his safety was paramount, losing him to  the Japanese would be disastrous for morale.  

  • On February 22, with the situation getting  ever more difficult on the Bataan Peninsula,  

  • Roosevelt finally ordered MacArthur to leave  the Philippines and take command of forces  

  • in Australia and the Southwest Pacfiic AreaThe general chose to remain in the Peninsula  

  • as much as he could to ensure that his forces  wouldn't get completely demoralized, but he  

  • eventually had to leave on March 12, traveling  first to Mindanao and then flying to Australia.  

  • Before he left, MacArthur assigned the Visayan  Force to Brigadier-General Bradford Chynoweth  

  • as to allow General Sharp to fully focus on the  defense of Mindanao, from where the Americans  

  • still hoped to launch a counteroffensiveand also ordered Major-General George Moore  

  • to prepare supplies and defenses on Corregidor  Island for a final stand in case Bataan fell

  • Despite MacArthur's intentions to retain command  from Australia, General Wainwright would be left  

  • in command of American forces in the Philippines  , with the final order to fight for as long as  

  • his troops had the ability to resist. When  MacArthur arrived at Adelaide on March 17,  

  • he promised to return to the Philippines with  his famous words “I Shall Return” , which would  

  • become a rallying cry for the Americans in  the future. But at this point, the morale of  

  • the Filipinos was already starting to decline  due to their bad situation, and the general's  

  • departure only hurted their confidence even moreWith the assumption of Wainwright, 1st Corps was  

  • then assigned to General Jones, who had commanded  the South Luzon Force in its retreat to Bataan,  

  • and the overall command of the peninsula  was assigned to Major-General Edward King,  

  • who had been the commander of the artillery during  the campaign. By the end of March, defenses across  

  • the Orion-Bagac Line had been improved and the  half-starved and poorly equipped Filipino soldiers  

  • had further enhanced their training in jungle  warfare. On the other side, Homma planned to make  

  • a coordinated three-pronged assault along a narrow  front located around the key Mount Samat. After  

  • breaking through Samat, the Japanese would then  push to Mount Limay and from there to Mariveles.  

  • This plan was based on the incorrect assumption  that the defenders were executing a defense  

  • in depth along three lines , so Homma  expected the assault to take over a month

  • The assault on Mount Samat would be carried  out by the 4th Division of Lieutenant-General  

  • Kitano Kenzo, closely supported by General  Nara's 65th Independent Mixed Brigade.  

  • Nara was to advance west up the Pantingan River  and then continue towards the Mariveles Mountains,  

  • while the 4th Division divided in two, with  the Right Wing getting across the Tiawir River  

  • and then heading down along the  Catmon Valley towards Samat,  

  • and with the Left Wing advancing on  the east directly towards the mount.  

  • Kitano believed that once Samat was taken, only  a pursuit of the Americans would be required,  

  • so his estimate was far more optimistic than that  of Homma's. In the meantime, General Morioka's  

  • 16th Division would make a feint attack to pin  down the 1st Corps and the Nagano Detachment  

  • would cover the right flank of the invaders with  feint landings across the eastern coast of Bataan.  

  • By the end of March, American forces started to  be subjected to heavy air and artillery attacks,  

  • and on March 28, Homma ordered the  final preparations to be carried out,  

  • so the Japanese units began to move  forward to their expected battle positions.  

  • Two days later, the 16th Division would start  its feint attacks against the 1st Sector;  

  • and by April 2, the preparations for the final  assault against Bataan were finally ready

  • At dawn on April 3, the Japanese commencedfinal 6-hours long air and artillery barrage  

  • over the Mount Samat area before the start of the  offensive. This was undoubtedly one of the most  

  • devastating bombardments of the war, with more  than 60 tons of bombs dropped over the defenders,  

  • destroying many of the defenses recently  constructed and weakening three entire  

  • regiments . By afternoon, the heavy  barrage had achieved its main objective,  

  • so the invaders began their advance . Nara was  confronted by the bulk of the 41st Division,  

  • while Kitano would face the 21st Division  of Brigadier-General Mateo Capinpin.  

  • Some elements of the 65th Brigade would  also engage the 2nd Philippine Constabulary  

  • to prevent them from coming to the aid of 2nd  Corps, but Nara's main effort was directed against  

  • the center of the 41st Division, where they got  to quickly push down against the 42nd Regiment.  

  • The Japanese general expected heavy opposition but  found none , so he decided to continue southwards.  

  • Meanwhile, the Right Wing had crossed the Tiawir  and immediately engaged the 21st Regiment,  

  • rapidly scattering them and continuing its  advance southwards. By nightfall, both forces  

  • had surprisingly advanced up to 1000 yards without  facing strong resistance due to the success of the  

  • bombardment earlier that day, which had devastated  the morale and organization of the defenders.  

  • When news of the disintegration of the corps' left  flank reached General Parker, he sent forward the  

  • 33rd Regiment to stop the Japanese advance on  an area between Samat and the Catmon River

  • The following day would start withrenewed air and artillery bombardment.  

  • The remnants of the 42nd and 43rd Regiments  would yet again flee to the south in a stampede,  

  • leaving only three regiments  to stem the Japanese offensive.  

  • Yet despite their courageous resistance, they were  no match against the superior Japanese firepower,  

  • so they had to retreat further south to prevent  any more losses. At the same time, the Left Wing  

  • finally went into action, attacking the 22nd  and 23rd Regiments and forcing them to retreat.  

  • American artillery at this point was hitting  friendly and enemy units alike, but could not  

  • stop the advance of the invaders. By the end of  the day, the Japanese were in possession of the  

  • entire main line of resistance and the Right Wing  had gotten to the northern foothills of Samat.  

  • Facing a looming disaster, General King sent the  31st Regiment to further reinforce the American  

  • defenders, while also placing the 45th and 57th  Regiments on positions of readiness nearby.  

  • On Easter Sunday, the 4th Division reorganized  its forces for Kitano to start his attack  

  • against Mount Samat. The Right Wing would  seize the heights of the mountain and then  

  • continue south to the Tala River while the Left  Wing executed the main attack against Samat.  

  • After the customary bombardment of the defenderspositions, Kitano started his assault but found  

  • strong resistance coming from Capinpin's  men . Nonetheless, the Right Wing would  

  • advance unopposed towards the northwest slopes of  Samat, forcing the American artillery to retreat

  • Deprived of artillery support, the defenders began  to concede terrain and were eventually pushed back  

  • by the Left Wing. Furthermore, the Right Wing  also advanced on the southern slopes of Samat  

  • and captured many soldiers of the 21st Divisionincluding General Capinpin. By nightfall,  

  • Mount Samat was under Japanese control and  the Right Wing had advanced to the west,  

  • fully routing the 21st Division headquarters. Nara  also continued to drive south towards Mariveles  

  • and the 16th Division and the Nagano Detachment  were preparing to join in the attack against Mount  

  • Limay. But now, with the arrival of the new  reinforcements , King was planning to launch  

  • a four-pronged counterattack aimed to regain the  main line. Yet Homma was also planning to launch  

  • an attack eastwards against the 51st Division  and the 32nd Regiment, with the intention of  

  • pushing southeast to get to the Limay River. At  dawn on April 6, both sides put their plans in  

  • motion. Within a day, the American counterattack  rapidly ended up in complete disaster. Since  

  • the 21st Division had already been routed , the  31st Regiment would have to attack Samat alone.  

  • Despite the 31st's tenacity and resilience, the  bulk of the Left Wing fell upon them, forcing the  

  • Americans to go on the defensive . In the centerthe 33rd Regiment also saw its rear disappear  

  • against the savage Japanese forces, so it ended  up completely encircled by the 65th Brigade

  • And to the west, the 41st Regiment initially  fared much better , but Nara counterattacked and  

  • forced them back to the Pantingan River. The 45th  Regiment was the most successful out of the four,  

  • overcoming the Japanese resistance and continuing  its advance north towards the 41st Regiment,  

  • but already it was clear that the American  counterattack was a failure. On the other hand,  

  • Nara had managed to cut off the 2nd Sector  from the 1st and had advanced so far that  

  • forward elements of the 65th Brigade were  engaging the 57th Regiment. Furthermore,  

  • Kitano sent the 37th Regiment with tanks to  attack against the 51st Division, quickly  

  • overrunning the defenders' positions and forcing  them to retreat behind the San Vicente River.  

  • The 31st Regiment would also have  to follow suit, and to the west,  

  • the 45th Regiment would have to withdraw as well  to avoid an encirclement. By the end of the day,  

  • the Americans truly had a disastrous situation  on their hands, with the loss of two divisions  

  • and with the complete breakdown of the main line  of defense; and on April 7, the situation would  

  • only get much worse. After a failed counterattack  to reestablish a connection with 1st Corps, which  

  • was carried out by the 45th and 57th RegimentsHomma decided to quickly capitalize on his gains.  

  • Seeing a gap between the southern extremity  of the San Vicente line and the 57th Regiment,  

  • Kitano thus sent the 61st Regiment to  endanger the flanks of the Americans.  

  • This attack was highly successful, finally  forcing the 57th to retreat eastwards

  • Meanwhile, despite their strong and fierce  resistance, the isolated 33rd Regiment was  

  • routed at last and only few men would manage  to escape to safety through the jungles.  

  • But the main assault would be carried out by  the 4th Division and the Nagano Detachment,  

  • directly striking at the demoralized  defenders on the San Vicente River.  

  • Under a relentless bombardment, the Filipinos  on the right would break, soon starting an  

  • unorganized retreat . The Americans to the left  fared a little better, but the assault of the 8th  

  • Regiment would finally send them packing as wellTo cover the withdrawal towards the Mamala River,