the tragedy of bataan
Fall of Corregidor

Fall of Corregidor

When General Douglas MacArthur left the Philippines to escape to Australia he left Lt. General Jonathan Wainwright in command. General Wainwright took his command on the island of Corregidor and placed Major General Edward P. King in command of the troops on Bataan. But within a short time, and without Wainwright's approval, King was forced to surrender his troops.

The Imperial Japanese Army then concentrated on the island of Corregidor. Lt. General Jonathan Wainwright refused to surrender. The island was relentlessly pummeled by the Imperial Japanese artillery for several weeks. The island was surrounded and cut off from receiving any reinforcements and supplies from the United States. On the night of May 5, the Imperial Japanese landed troops and tanks. They quickly began advancing towards Malinta Tunnel where there were thousands of patients and nurses. To avoid a massacre Wainwright was forced to surrender the troops on Corregidor and the other three fortified islands*. But the Imperial Japanese General Masahara Homma refused Wainwright's offer of surrender. The Visayan Islands and Mindanao were commanded by General Sharp who was directly under General MacArthur. There were approximately 12,000 who had laid down their arms and were totally defenseless at this point on Corregidor. The next several weeks were very intense as Lt. General Wainwright tried to communicate to the other islands to also surrender. General Wainwright broadcast the following message on the Manila radio station KZRH:

wainwright TO: Major General William F. Sharp Jr.

After leaving General Homma with no agreement between us, I decided to accept, in the name of humanity, his proposal and tendered at midnight, tonight 6-7 May 1942 to the senior Japanese officer on Corregidor the formal surrender of all American and Filipino armed troops in the Philippine Islands. You will therefore, be guided accordingly and will, I repeat, will surrender all troops under your command both in the Visayan Islands and Mindanao to the proper Japanese officer.

This decision, on my part, was forced on me by circumstances beyond my control. Let me emphasize that there must be on your part no thought of disregarding these instructions. Failure to fully and honestly carry them out can have only the most disastrous results.

wainwright message

The American-Filipino troops on the outer islands were getting conflicting messages from General Douglas MacArthur. MacArthur did not want these islands to surrender but wanted Sharp to create Guerrilla units and hide in the hills. Finally Colonel Traywick, Wainwright's emissary, reached General Sharp to express the severity of the situation where eventually the U.S. commanders on the Visayan Islands, Mindanao and Cebu surrendered.

*Fort Hughes, Drum and Frank.