• The Philippines Campaign (Filipino: Labanan sa Pilipinas) or the Battle of the Philippines, fought 8 December 1941 – 8 May 1942, was the invasion of the Philippines by Japan and the defense of the islands by Filipino and United States forces.

    The Japanese launched the invasion by sea from Formosa over 200 miles to the north of the Philippines. The defending forces outnumbered the Japanese invaders by 3 to 2, however they were a mixed force of non-combat experienced regular, national guard, constabulary and newly created Commonwealth units. The Japanese used first-line troops at the outset of the campaign concentrating forces in the first month enabling a swift overrun of most of Luzon.

    The Japanese high command, believing they had won the campaign, made a strategic decision to advance by a month their timetable of operations in Borneo and Indonesia, withdrawing their best division and the bulk of their airpower in early January 1942. This, coupled with the decision of the defenders to withdraw into a defensive holding position in the Bataan Peninsula, enabled the Americans and Filipinos to successfully hold out for four more months.

    The conquest of the Philippines by Japan is often considered the worst military defeat in United States history. Twenty-three thousand American military personnel were killed or captured and Filipino soldiers killed or captured totaled around 100,000.


    The Philippines campaign is considered by many historians as one of the worst US military disasters in history.  Do you agree with MacArthur’s strategy in leaving to return later even though a lot of US servicemen were about to lose their lives?

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    Leaving the Philippines wasn’t a “strategy” by MacArthur; he was ordered to leave by Roosevelt.  It should also be noted that MacArthur’s handling of the opening phases of the Philippines campaign was sloppy; as I recall, he was caught unprepared by the Japanese invasion, even though by the time it started he had already heard about the raid on Pearl Harbor.

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