Lieut.-Comm. F. H. Callahan
From the Shanghai Evening Post, September 25, 1942
"Bombs rained from heaven and in a twinkling there was nothing left but wrecked planes and debris at Clark Field," declared Lieut.-Commander Ford Hammond Callahan, 42, former intelligence officer of the United States Navy who is now confined at Corregidor, describing the beginning of the hostilities in the Philippines in an interview with Hideo Kumon, the Asahi's war correspondent with the Japanese Navy at Manila.
"That one blow decided the course of the war in the Philippines," Callahan said, and added that it came only eight hours after the first report that Pearl Harbor was attacked.
Before the unexpected outbreak of the war, the interned officer revealed that plans had been made to conduct mass raids on nearby Formosa, but when the time came, his superiors apparently could not agree on their determination to carry them out.
BEATEN TO THE DRAW
He pointed out that all the planes at Clark Field had been rolled out ready for instant action, but the commanding officer could not reconcile himself to the great loss of men and material entailed in such an adventure. Eight hours were spent in futile arguments for and against at headquarters, but swarms of Japanese bombers and fighters only beat them to the punch, he said.
Callahan asserted this hesitation on the part of the higher officers instantly caused the loss of the American air arm in the Philippines. Although the United States had "the highest machine civilization" in the world prior to the outbreak of the war, no such lack of plan and disorganization could be seen anywhere else.
Callahan charged the weakness of a "rotten" Congress and greedy self-seeking capitalists as causing the American nation to lag behind in military expansion, inviting defeats in the current war.
"We of course became the goat," he said, adding, "It burned me up" to think of the slipshod methods pursued by his government.
Revealing that the war was more or less anticipated, he said that long before the outbreak of hostilities, General Douglas MacArthur had made "wonderful paper plans" for the construction of 300 Q-boats, under which these torpedo boats were be used against transports, while suicide squads were to sink such powerful Japanese battleships as the Mutsu and the Haruna.
This widely publicized plan, he continued, fired the imagination of the Filipino people, but their disappointment was much greater than their short-lived joy when the war started. He revealed that when the time had come to use these boats, it was discovered there were less than 50 in existence.
Callahan declared, "Frankly, my opinion of this ambitious Q-boat plan as an officer of the United States Navy is that it was nothing more than a child's plan and another example of American 'wishful thinking.' This fellow Douglas MacArthur who happens to be our superior, how we despise and loathe him," he added.
Callahan described that not only General MacArthur, but also Lieut.-General Jonathan Wainwright was "incompetent, asinine and mediocre"
He recalled one incident illustrating the strange psychology of besieged men. About a week before the Japanese landing on Corregidor in early May, two meals per day which has continued from April, were suddenly increased to three normal three meals. Food in richness and sumptuousness, the like of which has never before been seen in an Army mess, was served in limitless quantity.
However, after the "feasts" everyone was depressed by the sudden overpowering premonition that "everything was not just right."
When it dawned on them, Callahan said they realized that they felt "like a criminal who is feasted before the hanging," for the Japanese landing was immense, in other words, the time for the last walk was coming.
"Yes, we were no better than those criminals who were just about to face the electric chair," he said.
Callahan said the real motive behind the opposition of Philippine independence came from military quarters because they did not want to lose the "pleasure ground" that was Manila.
SAILORS LIVE IN LUXURY
He revealed that even ordinary seamen once reaching the Philippines were able to live like country squires. Seamen's pay augmented by an overseas allowance, and further enlarged into pesos together with the low cost of living, was more than an ample income, under which even enlisted men were able to hire maidservants, cooks and feel "slightly like a millionaire."
Turning to the situation in Corregidor, Callahan said that when the United States Government, despite repeated promises of aid, failed to send materials and men, the garrison became angry. The men had no words to describe their feelings.
The men themselves knew how dubious American war announcements were. "The Voice of Freedom" broadcast from Corregidor was no better than the official American war pronouncements made in Washington." He pointed out the claims sent out from Corregidor during the early part of the war clearly illustrates the unreliability of United States' announcements.
REPORTS SENT UNCONFIRMED
Reports made by American Army pilots in the Philippines that they had sunk the Kongo, Haruna and other Japanese battleships, were sent to Washington without the benefit of confirmation, and at Washington these were stretched a little farther and broadcast to the world.
Callahan said he found Japanese announcements as accurate as is humanly possible.
The steps leading to the capture of the Philippines were totally different from similar operations in the past, the American officer said. He pointed out that France fell after the Germans broke through the Maginot line, and that Manchuria during the Russo-Japanese war fell to the Japanese when Port Arthur was taken after a long siege.
However, he said, the Philippines campaign was directly opposite, because of the fact that Corregidor remained after the rest of the islands fell. It was ironical that the fort which had been built to defend the country was standing while the country was occupied.
Callahan said it would have been better to have given the Filipinos their freedom and avoided needless loss of blood. However, "there is no use crying over spilt milk now." The American officer expressed the hope that the war would end soon so that the several thousand American prisoners can go home again to their loved ones.
Introduction | Author's Note | On to the Front | Gen. Wainwright Surrenders | Prisoners of War | Fort Mills Hospital | Racial Discrimination | Goodbye Corregidor | Lieut.-Comm. F. H. Callahan | Gen. Wainwright's Appeal | Official Communiqués | Santo Tomas Internment Camp |
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