Saturday, March 10, 2012

Day 923 March 11, 1942

Philippines. With no hope of relief from the Japanese assault on the Bataan peninsula, General Douglas MacArthur, Admiral Francis Rockwell, their families and staff leave the fortified headquarters on the island of Corregidor, at the Southern tip of Bataan. They will make the 560 mile trip to Cagayun on the island of Mindanao aboard 4 US motor torpedo boats PT-32, PT-34, PT-35 & PT-41 (Lieutenant John Bulkeley, commanding PT boat Squadron 3, wins the Medal of Honor). MacArthur will also be awarded the MOH for “conspicuous leadership in preparing the Philippine islands to resist conquest, for gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action against invading Japanese forces, and for the heroic conduct of defensive and offensive operations on the Bataan peninsula” (at the time, Douglas MacArthur and his father Civil War General Arthur MacArthur are the only father & son MOH recipients). Although MacArthur intends to retain command from Australia as Allied Supreme Commander South West Pacific Area, General Wainwright is appointed as Allied commander in the Philippines.

At 2.11 AM 38 miles East of Iceland, U-701 sinks British anti-submarine trawler HMS Stella Capella (all 33 hands lost).

At 3.16 AM 2 miles East of Fenwick Island, Delaware, U-94 sinks Norwegian SS Hvoslef carrying sugar from Cuba to Boston (6 dead, 14 survivors in a damaged lifeboat make land 14 hours later). At 8 AM 14 miles East of Cape Lookout, North Carolina, U-158 sinks US steamer Caribsea carrying 3600 tons of manganese ore from Cuba to Baltimore (21 killed, 7 survivors on 2 rafts picked up 10 hours later by American SS Norlindo). Italian submarine Tazzoli sinks Panamanian SS Cygnet (all 30 hands survive) 5 miles East of San Salvador Island in the Bahamas.

British passenger freighter SS Chilka is heading to Padang, Sumatra, Dutch East Indies, to embark Allied civilians and troops evacuated from Singapore. At 2 PM 340 miles West of Padang, Japanese submarine I-2 shells SS Chilka with both deck guns (7 killed). After taking 14 hits in 25 minutes, SS Chilka signals surrender and survivors abandon ship before I-2 resumes shelling and sinks her.

At 8 PM 30 miles North of Sidi Barrani, Egypt, U-565 sinks British cruiser HMS Naiad (82 killed, 582 survivors rescued by destroyers HMS Jervis, HMS Kipling and HMS Lively).

220 miles West of the Southern tip of Japan, US submarine USS Pollack sinks Japanese merchant ship Fukushu Maru and passenger-cargo ship Baikal Maru.


  1. How could he have possibly won the MOH? I thought that conspicuous bravery, direct enemy fire and a complete disregard for one's own safety were required to win it?

    Planning in the relative safety of a general's HQ"s, and being whisked away to safety in a PT boat do not jibe with the stiff requirements necessary to genuinely win our nation's highest military honor.

    MacArthur was an excellent general and deserves adulation and praise for being so but does not deserve the MOH for the Philippine debacle. Unlike MacArthur, most winners of this coveted medal do not return.

  2. Thanks for your comment! This is an ongoing debate, for sure. Here's one balanced opinion from the article linked in the above text.

    "It is difficult to argue with those who point out that Douglas MacArthur's Medal of Honor was a political move. It is far less difficult to argue the point that it was not deserved. Since his first engagement with Philippine Outlaws after graduating from West Point, MacArthur had proved himself a man of courage. Acts of personal valor in both the Mexican Campaign (Vera Cruz) and during World War I could easily have resulted in a Medal of Honor award. Those historians who would negate his World War II award because it was a political award must also realize that the fact he had not previously been awarded the Medal for other actions was, in MacArthur's mind, political as well."

  3. I don't begrudge Gen MacArthur his MOH. What angers me is he refused to recommend the same award to General Wainwright.

  4. Yes, bad form. At least Wainwright got one in the end.