BRIDGES spanning the Pampanga River.
The blast that destroyed the Calumpit
bridges in the early hours of 1 January signaled the end of the South
Luzon Force. Its mission completed, the force moved on to Bataan where
General Jones rejoined the 51st Division. At the same time General
Stevens of the 91st Division and General Weaver, commander of the tank
group, went on to San Fernando to join their units.
When the debris had stopped falling at the
Pampanga crossing, the covering force of 71st and 91st Division
elements, originally organized by Stevens; returned to its positions
along the river bank. A second force, the 3d Battalion of the 23d
Infantry, with a battery of the 21st Field Artillery, moved into
position near Apalit, about 4,000 yards to the north on the west bank of
the Pampanga. The mission of this battalion, led by Maj. Charles A.
McLaughlin, was to "assist in delaying the enemy advance on San
Fernando," by preventing a hostile crossing before 2000. In support of
both forces was the tank group, posted just below San Fernando.
Late on the morning of 1 January the
Japanese reached Calumpit. The Tanaka Detachment (2d
Formosa, less 3d Battalion, and a battalion of the
48th Mountain Artillery) had moved cautiously from Plaridel during
the night and now faced the covering force across the wide, unfordable
Pampanga. The sight of the Japanese at such close proximity was
extremely disconcerting to the poorly trained Filipino troops. Their
nervousness was increased by the sight of the Japanese bombers which
passed overhead that morning on their way to bomb installations on
During the day the Japanese made numerous
attempts to push a force across the swiftly flowing Pampanga, but to no
avail. The covering force on the river line pulled out for San Fernando
during the afternoon, followed that evening by McLaughlin's battalion.
The remnants of the 71st and 91st Divisions which constituted the first
of these forces were "so badly disorganized and in need of equipment"
that they were sent directly to Bataan. McLaughlin's battalion rejoined
the 21st Division at Porac on the morning of 2 January. The last
elements to pass through San Fernando were the tanks. Reaching the town
at 0200 on the 2d, after all the others had left, they found it to be
"truly a ghost town." The tankers gave the order to blow the bridge
across the San Fernando River and in the darkness moved down Route 7
toward Guagua and the American line being formed there.
The Japanese did not cross the Pampanga
until the afternoon of 2 January when at 1600 the Tanaka Detachment
finally got its artillery over the swiftly flowing river. Once across,
Colonel Tanaka moved forward rapidly and by 1830 had reached San
Fernando. There he made contact with the Kanno Detachment which
had pushed down Route 3 from Angeles.
In the few days from 30 December 1941 to 2
January 1942 the North and South Luzon Forces had completed successfully
the most complicated and difficult maneuver of the campaign thus far.
They had held at Plaridel and along the D-5 line. A part of the force
had crossed the Calumpit bridge, marched through San Fernando, and down
Route 7 toward Bataan. Another part had withdrawn from the D-5 line,
along the flat grassland west of Mt. Arayat to Mexico and San Fernando
to join the others retreating down Route 7. The remainder had moved down
Route 3 to Angeles and then along Route 74 to Porac. Everywhere the
enemy had been held and the route of escape kept open until the last
unit was on its way into Bataan.