BC_Doc wrote: Grt2bOutdoors wrote:
I believe MacArthur would need an executive order from the President to make any such advance. It may have also been that Congress needed to provide authorization to declare war.
This still doesn't explain his folly of leaving the planes on the ground where they were sitting ducks for Japanese pilots.
MacArthur made a number of bad decisions in the Phillipines Campaign.
Just as the British decided to defend Malaya and Singapore (and Hong Kong) but then did not provide enough forces to do so, so the US had made the same mistake in Phillipines. The Phillipines was far too close to the main Japanese bases and air power to be successfully defended, the defence rested on a 'trip wire' thesis that Japan would not dare to challenge the United States by attacking its colonial possession.
The original plan had been to withdraw to the Bataan Peninsula and Corregidor Island as a final redoubt and await relief from the US Pacific Fleet.
Yet MacArthur changed plan and tried to resist the Japanese invasion on the mainland, where his forces were outnumbered and easily beatened by Japanese troops, well trained and battle hardened from the China war. He lost control of the air within hours.
The key supplies were not moved to Bataan as per the original pre war plan. When the US forces retreated there, there were insufficient supplies, food and water. The horror of that siege was multiplied by the starvation of the troops there.
The British version of this was 2 battleships with no air cover (Force Z) at Singapore, which were promptly sunk when they sallied against the Japanese. An Army trapped and outmaneouvred in a disastrous retreat through Malaya after an abortive 'sweep' into Thailand to try to stop the Japanese (again, the British changed plan at the last minute).
When they got to Singapore, there were no landward defences-- they had all been built to resist naval attack. And Churchill threw a whole division, the 18th London division, into the garrison in the last days-- it was almost entirely captured and less than half survived captivity. The artist Ronald Searle survived that by drawing his cartoons, illicitly. Many would die as slave labourers building 'the Bridge over the River Kwai'.
Hong Kong they put 2 Canadian battalions in as a 'tripwire force' who were wiped out, a pointless sacrifice.
MacArthur would redeem himself in the South Pacific island campaign, although his treatment of his Australian allies, who took part in some of the fiercest fighting in New Guinea/ Port Moresby, was execrable and inexcusable. The Australians in that jungle fought a battle which will be forever remembered amongst the English speaking peoples for its ferocity and their courage.
And MacArthur, nicknamed 'dugout Doug' by resentful soldiers, would become obsessed with a reinvasion of the Phillipines, which became a massive strategic diversion in the drive on Japan (the USN/ USMC island drive across the Central Pacific bypassed much Japanese resistance). (I understand he was not without courage, wanted to stay on Corregidor to the last, but FDR ordered him to Australia).
His invasion plan for Japan, Operation Olympic (the invasion of the island of Kyushu, prequel to Operation Coronet, the invasion of Tokyo Bay), similarly ignored vital intelligence-- that the Japanese had mustered the core of their army on the island. Like the invasion of the Phillipines, or Okinawa, it would have been a bloodbath, pitting Allied forces against the cream of the Japanese Army defending its own homeland.
Whilst MacArthur would show his best side in his role as Governor of Japan post WW2, he would go on to master the landing at Inchon, behind North Korean lines. A rash but brilliant stroke.
And then throw it all away in a rash dash for the Chinese border, which brought China into the war. And left US and UN forces in one of the great traps of military history and a desperate retreat back to the 49th Parallel.
Had MacArthur not been fired by President Truman, in one of the great feats of political courage of a US president, the US would probably have gone fully to war with the People's Republic of China in 1950-51, and who knows what consequences that would have brought.
It's interesting despite the fame of his 'old soldiers never die' speech, the Republicans did not choose MacArthur as their candidate (but Eisenhower, an altogether more modest and less bombastic general).
I conclude that MacArthur was capable of brilliant strategic insight, but he was consumed by his own ego, rash, and tended to ignore information that contradicted his previously held view of the situation. A legend in his own mind, but not one of history's great generals.