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January 1942: WW2PH 80 Years After

In commemoration of the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of World War II in the Philippines, we have compiled the diary entries for the second month of the war, along with other interesting material, in the hope that this will help interested readers to get a sense of the of that conflict.

Each date contains the relevant entries as well as materials culled from different sources of information:

  1. Battling Bastards. A Diary-Type Account of the First Days of World War II in the Philippines, by J.G. Doll (The Merriam Press, 1989), which provides the American military perspective on events. These entries are in italics. These provide a fair summary of the American point of view.
  2. The World War II Timeline prepared by the Official Gazette; these entries are in bold. these give an indication of the Filipino point of view.
  3. Various documents and photographs from the Quezon Family Collection.

See what came before in the 80 Years Later Series: December 1941

Prologue: The Long Month

Carl Mydans’ famous photo of MacArthur and Quezon in Corregidor, early 1942

See: December 1941: 80 Years After for the first month of the war.

See: The cavalry and their last charge, December 1941-January 1942.

See: The debate on taking the Philippines out of the war: January 28 to February 12, 1942.

January, 1942: “You must hold in place, and hold, and hold…”

1/1/1942 Day 25 (New Year’s Day)

The South Luzon Force, upon completing its withdrawal across the Pampanga River at Calumpit by 0500 hours and then destroying the bridges there at 0615 hours, is disbanded. Its components continue the withdrawal toward Bataan and General Jones rejoins the 51st Division (PA).

The Japanese move through Plaridel to Calumpit but are unable to cross the Pampanga River because of the blown bridges.

The covering force (elements of both the 71st and the 91st PA Divisions) withdraws from the river line toward San Fernando.

Meanwhile, the 21st and 11th Divisions (PA) continue fighting withdrawals, the 21st along the route Bambam-Angeles-Porac, and the 11th on the route Malagang-San Fernando-Guagua (north of Sexmoan), finally arriving on the line Porac-Guagua during the night of 1-2 January.

The troops on Corregidor are put on half rations.

Elsewhere: In Washington, D.C., the Declaration of the United Nations is signed by 26 countries.

On New Year’s Day 1942 Homma’s reconnaissance spotted large fires in Manila. At 2000 hours he ordered his 48th Division to prepare to rescue Japanese citizens and occupy the capital.

Last American tank crosses Calumpit Bridge, 2:30 a.m.

Calumpit Bridge destroyed at 6:15 a.m. to stop the advancing Japanese troops from the north.

65th Brigade, commanded by Lt. Gen. Nara Akira, debarks at Lingayen. Japanese Imperial Army troops arrive in Banbam, 9:00 a.m.

President Quezon signs Executive Order No. 400, creating the City of Greater Manila.

MacArthur informs Quezon of a Washington invitation to President Quezon to establish the Commonwealth government-in-exile abroad where he will remain as the “symbol of the redemption of the Philippines.” Quezon’s war-cabinet favors acceptance of the invitation because they know that the Filipino people want their President to be saved from falling into enemy hands, or from being killed. Instead of weakening the Filipinos’ will to fight, the cabinet believes Quezon’s departure for Washington will facilitate the timely arrival of help from the United States especially to the troops in the field.

As per their timetable, advanced units of the Japanese Imperial Army enter Manila on New Year’s Day, the “official” birthday of the Japanese Emperor. According to Vargas, the Japanese Emperor’s birthday is “’officially” celebrated on January 1st, irrespective of the actual date he was born. The Japs immediately contact Mayor Vargas in his office at the City Hall. The announcement of Vargas’ appointment as mayor of Greater Manila has been deliberately withheld until a few hours before the Japanese arrival so that he could function as caretaker of the national government after Quezon’s departure on Christmas eve for Corregidor.

January 1, 1942

A fine New Year’s Day—with a faint tinge of hangover and the Japs, like Sheridan, only twenty miles away—more or less. Mostly less. I understand they are doing an Alphonse et Gaston act—can’t decide which general should have the honor of capturing us. With all our anxiety I had to laugh at this morning’s Bulletin… Read More »January 1, 1942

January 1, 1942 – Thursday

  I attended Mass at 7 a.m. and received Holy Communion. I congratulated the President, Lieutenant Colonel Manuel Roxas, & Manolo Nieto, on their feast day. The morning was quiet. At 12:45 p.m. the Air-Raid Alarm was sounded. We could hear the bombs exploding, and our guns roaring. The raid lasted two hours. At about… Read More »January 1, 1942 – Thursday

Jan. 1 – 42

Working at Pillar [Pilar] Field. Ships going in and out, and were always watching for bombers.

1 Jan. ’42

An ominous New Year. Fires and looting started. High Commissioner Aide phoned all law out of control. Japanese forces to outer city today. Contacted the High Commissioner’s Office and the Red Cross for information and advice. Commander Sumner Cheever, U.S.Navy, fell off the main building, a distance of about 60 feet and died in a… Read More »1 Jan. ’42

December 25, 1941 to January 1, 1942

The Marsh family came to stay with us. We had turkey for Xmas but the air raids caused the current to be turned off so it wasn’t very well roasted. Saturday the treasury was bombed. Hank Sperry was there but escaped. It was not easy trying to work amidst raids and meals were most irregular.… Read More »December 25, 1941 to January 1, 1942