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It's the fate of the Titans to attract the most fulsome praise and the most vitriolic damnation, usually for the very same act, depending upon who wields the pen.
MacArthur's time on Corregidor was characterised by his not unreasonable belief that the US government would send massive reinforcements to him. He spread the news, given to him from the highest sources in Washington, that help was on the way. At that time, he knew nothing of the Anglo-American strategic talks under way in Washington, and he had been sent a series of false encouragements bolstering his belief that the troops in Bataan and later the Corregidor garrison itself, would not be abandoned. Like the false encouragements given by some physicians to dying patients, the hopeful words of Roosevelt and Marshall perhaps intended to brace MacArthur and his men to fight longer than they would have if told the truth. Ironically, it would be he who would be turned against by the Americans in the POW camps of the Philippines, rather than the more deserving leaders in Washington. His lifelong distrust of all things Washington can be easily understood in this light.
D. Clayton James 1
The facts are that, throughout the bombing and shelling alike, MacArthur lived "topside" in a house. Frequently he would go up to exposed areas during bombardments and observe the shelling, always mingling with the men. " It was simply my duty. The gunners at the batteries, the men in the foxholes, they too were in the open. They liked to see me with them at such moments." During duty, with every communication nerve fibre in the whole setup terminating right there in the Administration-Operations lateral of Malinta Tunnel, he remained at his post. His orders were given to subordinate generals - yes, generals, not junior officers - who would paddle off to find out exactly what the score was. They would signal back all vital information and their own personal observations to the Rock. Orders would be issued accordingly. Not only was there no operational need for MacArthur on Bataan, there was every need for his presence almost continuously in that tunnel - the focus point of that nasty little war. But it was unusual that a commander as sensitive about his image as MacArthur would have overlooked the positive value to troop morale, and his own reputation, that more visits to Bataan would have yielded him.
Captain Ind, quoted by D. Clayton James
The General was fine except that he was building up a towering anger against the enemy, to relieve his own feelings of frustration at our inability to fight back. When the first enemy flight appeared, he walked out in the yard to count the number of planes. He stayed throughout the bombing, 'protected' only by a thin hedge around the yard. Once a direct hit went through the house, landing in his bedroom and shattering the whole building. Then a near miss sent fragments flying across the yard and MacArthur ducked behind the hedge while his orderly, Sergeant Domingo Adversario, took off his own helmet and held it over the General's head. A piece of steel hit the helmet and wounded Domingo in the hand as they crouched there. When the raid was over, there was nothing but rubble left on the Topside of Corregidor.
Lieutenant Colonel Sidney I. Huff.
On one topic all observers agree: MacArthur's personal bravery was extraordinary. When his son called "air raid" or antiaircraft gunners yelled "Meatball!" or "Scrambled eggs!" - describing the Rising Sun on the wings of enemy aircraft - men racing for the shelter of the tunnel would encounter MacArthur coming out. Huff recalls: "Everybody on the staff tried to persuade the General to keep away from the entrance or at least to wear a helmet during the raids. He paid no attention to us. We put up big telephone poles, strung with cables, along the approach to the tunnel to prevent suicide bombers from crashing the entrance, and we erected flash walls at an angle to prevent them from skipping a bomb inside where it would set off our ammunition and blow up the whole place. MacArthur, however, kept on walking outside to look - sometimes angrily and sometimes scornfully at the enemy craft wheeling overhead."
William Manchester, American Caesar
Corregidor, known formally as Fort Mills and informally as 'The Rock' is an island of about 1,700 acres in area. Its surface is irregular, with peaks ranging from 600 to 400 feet. It bristled with forty-two huge long-range guns and mortars covering the sea approaches to Manila Bay (but not Bataan at the rear). Inside it was laced with tunnels branching off the main, 1,400-foot Malinta Tunnel. There were then about 10,000 people on Corregidor: 4,000 soldiers, 4,000 military non-combatants, 2,000 civilians. The men lived inside the tunnels or in barracks on the high ground of the west end of the island known as 'Topside' or near the low dock are called 'Bottomside'. They had been far better supplied with food and ammunition, per capita, than the men on Bataan.
The Macarthurs moved into a house located in the topside compound, formerly the residence of the artillery commander. Huff and Sutherland and others of MacArthur's staff took over one end of a three story barracks at Topside. Four days later, 29 December, Japanese aircraft bombed Topside to smithereens.
Of 142 communiques issued out of Corregidor between 8 December 1941 and 11 March, 1942, 109 mentioned only one individual, MacArthur.
Source: MacARTHUR - Clay
Dougout Doug MacArthur lies
ashaking on the Rock
(Sung to the tune Glory Glory Hallelulia)
On January 6, he was at Battery Chicago when enemy bombers appeared overhead. The battery commander urged him to get down as the gun crews dived for shelter, but MacArthur "stayed up, watching through his binoculars, and remarking calmly that the bombs would fall close." (Philippine High Commissioner) Sayre said that MacArthur told him "he believed that death would take him only at the ordained time" - a conviction that he had voiced ever since his days with the 42nd Division in World War 1. Even if he was a confirmed fatalist, the USAFFE commander demonstrated such bravery, boldness and sometimes foolhardiness under fire that his exploits became widely known on the island. Few Corregidor survivors cannot relate an instance in which they personally witnessed MacArthur courageously exposing himself to enemy fire. It is unfortunate that the Bataan soldiers did not have an opportunity to see this side of Dugout Doug.
D. Clayton James
Typically, after a dramatic entry and a display of supreme confidence to the staff at large, he would go over and talk somberly and in a hushed voice to Sutherland. Then MacArthur would sometimes walk alone to the darker end of the lateral where the beds were set up for off-duty officers. There he would pace back and forth in the shadows for long periods, deep in thought and often frowning.
If judged by the postwar literature of the various Bataan-Corregidor veterans' societies, his stature among the American combatants on Bataan never matched Wainwright's. Of course it must be remenbered that Wainright endured the surrender and prison experiences with those veterans. The existing evidence indicates that as of early March, 1942, most of the men on Bataan still believed, or wanted to believe, that somehow, as Mallonée phrased it, MacArthur "would reach down and pull the rabbit out of the hat."
My father, who had for the war delayed commencement of his legal practice, was a very minor staff corporal, and later a sergeant attached to MacArthur's GHQ in Hollandia, Tacloban and Manila. As an Australian, he enjoyed being a member of the US 8th Army. Years later he would tell of MacArthur's daily regimen of walking the verandahs of the HQ huts in Hollandia, Tacloban and later at the Manila City Hall. "He would light his pipe, and walk backwards and forwards, whilst successive officers would fall in behind him, and pace the floor, listening to what he had to say - all the time keeping in step. This pacing would go on for most of the morning, until the morning's "conferences"' were completed. After lunch, if the circumstances dictated (as they almost always did), the show would go on once more. Just being able to see him there inspired us with confidence."
Paul F. Whitman
MacArthur jested infrequently, but he did so when a report came in that Santa Barbara had been shelled by an enemy submarine. MacArthur chuckled and told his staff, "I think I'll send a wire to the California commander and tell him if he can hold out for 30 more days I'll be able to send him help."
D. Clayton James
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Anyone who hasn't read D. Clayton James three volume biography on MacArthur can't claim to be a serious student of MacArthur. If only Amazon.com would carry it!
More readable than D. Clayton James, though lacking his enjoyable and pernickety scholarship, is William Manchester's 'American Caesar'.
Clay Blair's book "MacArthur" was a tie-in to the Gregory Peck movie 'MacArthur' and reflected a very simplistic and negative view of the times. It sold well. The movie was a nitpicker's delight, and any retrospective of Gregory Peck's career would do well to omit consideration of it.