One of the Marines' main problems was the
steady accumulation of wounded men who could not be evacuated. Only
four corps men were available to help them. No one in the battalion
had first aid packets, or even a tourniquet. The walking wounded
tried to get to the rear, but Japanese artillery prevented any move
to Malinta Tunnel. No one could be spared from the line to take the
wounded to the rear. At 1030 the pressure from the Japanese lines
was too great and men began to filter back from the firing line.
Major Williams personally tried to halt the men but to little avail.
The tanks moved along the North Road with Colonel Sato personally
pointing out the Marine positions. The tanks fired on Marine
positions knocking them out one by one. At last Williams ordered his
men to withdraw to prepared positions just short of Malinta Hill.
With the withdrawal of the 4th and 1st Battalions,
the Japanese sent up a green flare as a signal to the Bataan
artillery which redoubled its fire, and all organization of the two
battalions ceased. Men made their way to the rear in small groups
and began to fill the concrete trenches at Malinta Hill. The
Japanese guns swept the area from the hill to Battery Denver and
then back again several times. In 30 minutes only 150 men were left
to hold the line.
The Japanese had followed the
retreat aggressively and were within 300 yards of the line with
tanks moving around the American right flank. Lieutenant Colonel
Beecher moved outside the tunnel, shepherding his men back to
Malinta hill. He knew his men would be thirsty and hungry and
ordered Sergeant Louis Duncan to "See what you can do about it."
Duncan broke open the large Army refrigerators near the entrance to
Malinta Tunnel, and soon was issuing ice-cold cans of peaches and
buttermilk to the exhausted Marines.
At 1130 Major Williams returned to
the tunnel and reported directly to Colonel Howard that his men
could hold no longer. He asked for reinforcements and antitank
weapons. Colonel Howard replied that General Wainwright had decided
to surrender at 1200. Wainwright agonized over his decision and
later wrote, "It was the terror vested in a tank that was the
deciding factor. I thought of the havoc that even one of these
beasts could wreak if it nosed into the tunnel." Williams was
ordered to hold the Japanese until noon when a surrender party