April 5 - April 11, 1942
by David H. Lippman

April 5th, 1942...In Ceylon, HMS Warspite is "adopted" by the London Stock Exchange, which presents her with a plaque and other gifts for the crew. After the ceremonies, Warspite heads for sea. A good thing, too, because that day, 91 Japanese bombers and 36 fighters from Vice Adm. Chuichi Nagumo's five carriers hammer the island. 42 Hurricanes and Fulmars counterattack to no avail, downed by more maneuverable Zeroes. The British lose 19 planes, the Japanese seven. Six Swordfish torpedo bombers blunder into the dogfights and are also shot down. The Japanese pound Colombo Harbor, sinking armed merchant cruiser HMS Hector and destroyer HMS Tenedos. 500 Sailors are killed.
The Japanese have despatched five of the six carriers that hit Pearl Harbor into the Indian Ocean in Operation C, along with the four Kongo-class battleships, to neutralize the British Indian Ocean fleet. The British, lacking high-speed battleships and aircraft that can match the nimble Zero, can only evade the enemy.
Later that day, a Japanese reconnaissance plane spots the British heavy cruisers HMS Dorsetshire and HMS Cornwall. At 1:40 pm, 53 Japanese bombers pounce on the cruisers, coming out of the sun and right ahead of the ships. Dorsetshire takes nine direct hits and sinks in eight minutes. Cornwall is sunk in 22. However, of the 1,546 Sailors on both ships, 1,122 survive the disaster.

In Burma, the Japanese bomb Mandalay, and kill 2,000 people, burning much of the city.

On Bataan, American and Filipino troops gather for Easter Sunday services which open with a massive Japanese bombardment. At 10 a.m., the 4th Japanese Division advances and runs into stubborn resistance from the 21st Philippine Division. The Japanese gradually push the defenders back, and finally overrun the division headquarters, capturing the boss, Brigadier General Mateo Capinpin.

At dinner in Rastenberg, Adolf Hitler and Heinrich Himmler agree to take "Germanic" children away from their families in occupied lands and bring them up in special Nazi schools. Dutch, Flemish, and French children would thus be seized.

The same day, the Norwegian Lutheran clergy, meeting in occupied Oslo, issues a declaration emphasizing the sovereignty of God above all ideologies. This declaration is read throughout pulpits in Norway, and 654 of Norway's 699 ministers of religion resign from their posts as civil servants, while continuing as clergymen.

April 6th, 1942...HMS King George V joins USS Washington at Scapa Flow, and two of the Allies' most powerful dreadnoughts are in the same place at the same time. British and American officers from both ships discuss their favorite topic, gunnery, and the Americans are amazed to find that the British idea is to "head in there just as fast as they could to about 10,000 yards, which for big guns is like shooting a rifle across the room, and letting the enemy have it. This idea of closing the enemy and shooting it out in the Nelsonian tradition was certainly firmly implanted."

5th New Zealand Brigade leaves Maadi Camp in Egypt, to head for Syria, as a backstop against pro-Nazi Turkish intervention.

Chiang Kai Shek tells his officers in China that Gen. Joseph Stilwell is the boss and to obey his orders. He heads down to Mandalay to find the city wrecked from Japanese air raids, and the advancing Japanese.

On Bataan, the American defenders are determined to counterattack, hurling even the 803rd Engineer Battalion, which has been busy creating entrenchments. As these forces move north, they are stalled by retreating Filipinos, and nobody can move in any direction on the muddy, narrow, Bataan roads. The 803rd moves up to support the 21st Division's counterattack, but that hapless outfit is down to 800 men. The 31st US Infantry "Polar Bears" Regiment tries to counterattack, but the Japanese attack first, and the Polar Bears (the only US regiment never to serve on US soil) has to go on the defensive.

The situation is now desperate, as the Japanese are cutting the Americans in half through the center and driving down the east coast road to Mariveles, 7,000 yards past the main line of resistance. American orders are issued and revoked immediately as they are impossible to execute...the defending army is pouring to the rear in huge numbers. Units disintegrate. The US Official History writes, "In two days, the army evaporated into thin air."

Japanese troops invade Bougainville in the Solomons, and the Admiralty Islands, starting their long descent down the green ladder to Guadalcanal. Japanese aircraft bomb the Royal Australian Air Force's flying boat base at Tulagi, the Solomons' capital. The explosions impress the British coastwatchers on Guadalcanal, opposite.

Japanese aircraft from the carrier Ryujo bomb Madras in India, scaring local authorities. They also bomb Coconada and Vizagapatam, which annoys copy editors who have to spell the place in communiques. Japanese troops invade Lorengau in the Admiralty Islands...less than 800 miles from Australia's Cape York.

April 7th, 1942...HMS Duke of York and USS Washington, joined by USS Wasp and two American cruisers, put to sea from Scapa Flow for anti-aircraft drill and familiarization with the Royal Navy's flag signal books and policies. Signalmen spend a busy day hoisting and lower signal flags, while the gunners open up on AA target sleeves. The American 1.1-inch mounts and .50-caliber machine guns are nearly useless, but the radar-controlled 5-inch batteries perform very well. That evening, American ships grant liberty, and US Bluejackets go ashore to find out the truth about Scapa Flow...there isn't very much to do. The Saltness church contains Hoy Island's only telephone, and British and American Sailors line up to call home. Lt. Cdr. Ed Hooper of Washington gets permission to turn a local patch into a softball diamond, and local citizens are amazed by the odd game. Lt. Ray Hunter notes a sign on the island's nine-hole golf course, "If you want some exercise, take a shovel and fill in a bomb crater."

In Bataan, the Americans hit back with the reliable 26th Cavalry Regiment, sans horses. They've all been eaten. Even so, the Cavalrymen charge the Japanese with gusto in an outflanking movement and run into heavy Japanese artillery and light bombers. The Americans are forced to retreat. The Japanese have won in four days an offensive they expected to take a month, for only 630 casualties. One Japanese regiment's casualty return is "none." Sick at heart, Wainwright orders Maj. Gen. King on Bataan to counterattack, and failing that, scatter into the hills to fight as guerrillas.

The island of Malta marks its 2,000th air-raid alert. There is no party.

The Nazis open up yet another death camp, Sobibor, and bring in 2,500 Jews from the medieval Polish town of Zamosc, killing 2,499. The sole survivor, Moshe Shklarek, is put on a work detail.

April 8th, 1942...At noon, USS Enterprise, escorted by cruisers Salt Lake City and Northampton, four destroyers, and the tanker Sabine, sortie from Pearl Harbor and turn northwest. Two hours later, the carrier is joined by its air group, including something new in war, the F4F-4 Wildcat, the new version. This aircraft features self-sealing tanks, cockpit armor, and folding wings for improved stowage and shipboard handling. The carrier's flight deck now sports 20mm Oerlikon AA guns instead of water- cooled .50-caliber Brownings.

In Scapa Flow, American officers relieve the tension and monotony by drinking pink gins and whiskey. Bluejackets drink two bottles of American beer at softball games or warm British beer at the NAAFI hut.

The Gestapo arrests Protestant theologian Karl Friedrich Stellbrink and three Catholic priests, for daring to criticize Nazi rule. All four are later executed.

In Bataan, disaster continues for the Americans. The II Corps reels backwards, disintegrating. Gen. Edward King, commanding Bataan, orders the I Corps to counterattack, in line with Gen. Wainwright's order from the day before, but that outfit's sick and starving men are in no shape to do so.
That evening, King discusses the situation with his staff. King is responsible for the lives of 78,000 American and Filipino soldiers and 25,000 refugees. His hospitals, packed with patients, lie unprotected from Japanese guns. King's quartermaster has only one half-ration of food to issue the exhausted troops...and no way to distribute it. "We have no further means of organized resistance," King tells his staff. He orders two of his staff officers, Col. Everett C. Williams and Maj. Marshall Hurt Jr., to go forward with a white flag. King does not tell Wainwright he is doing this.

That evening, a ragtag collection of boats and launches, including the gunboat Mindanao, ferries nurses and other refugees to Corregidor. The crew of the stranded sub tender USS Canopus destroy their ship. Some 2,300 servicemen manage to flee Bataan - - with authorization. Some 2,300 more cross the two miles by small boat, raft, bamboo pole, and by swimming, bringing with them cerebral malaria. The marginally healthy are put to work on Corregidor's defenses, the dispirited and exhausted crumple in Malinta Tunnel. All night long, gigantic explosions light up the sky with vivid colors as US Army engineers destroy their fuel and ammunition dumps. An earthquake adds to the din. A New Mexico National Guard tank unit lines up its vehicles in a semicircle and fire 37mm ammunition into each other's tanks until they catch fire. Bren gun carriers that were originally destined for Hong Kong's Canadian defenders (diverted to Manila when Hong Kong fell) are also destroyed.

The Japanese attack Trincomalee in Ceylon, but this time British radar works, and the Japanese find the harbor empty of shipping.

In the English Channel, the RAF starts fighter sweeps to tie down the Luftwaffe, keeping them out of Russia. RAF light bombers attack German air and military bases. The RAF doesn't do too well, losing 259 aircraft for only 58 German, but the Luftwaffe gets the point, and imposes flying restrictions on aircraft in Russia, mostly due to fuel shortages.

April 9th, 1942...The Japanese try again to attack Trincomalee in Ceylon. 90 Japanese aircraft hammer the port, and British Blenheim fighters intercept. The Japanese lose seven aircraft, and the British nine. Five more Blenheims sent to bomb the Japanese carriers are also shot down.
As soon as the attack is over, Japanese reconnaissance planes spot the ancient British carrier HMS Hermes, tooling along with her escort, the destroyer HMS Vampire. Nagumo, who has plenty of aircraft, hurls 90 bombers at the carrier, and sink it in less than 20 minutes. Then the Japanese polish off Vampire, and a nearby corvette, tanker, and fleet auxiliary ship. 300 British Sailors are killed. Having battered the British severely, Nagumo's force withdraws from the Indian Ocean.
Also gained on the Japanese side of the ledger from this raid are 112,312 tons of British merchant shipping, sunk by Vice Adm. Jisaburo Ozawa's raiding cruisers and the light carrier Ryujo, which has disrupted sea communications with Calcutta. Indian authorities fear Japanese invasion, and the Admiralty withdraws its "R-class" battleships from the Indian Ocean, as these World War I surplus ships are clearly a greater liability than asset. The Royal Navy now realizes that it will have to send a modern and balanced fleet of fast battleships and carriers to face the Japanese in the Indian Ocean. The Japanese sail home jubilant, their reputation of invincibility greater than ever.

At about 3:30 a.m., Gen. Edward King's two emissaries head for the Japanese lines in Bataan, requesting surrender talks. In a letter of instruction for his staff, King outlines specific points about his command's physical debilitation. He notes that his men are disorganized, sick, on short rations, and cannot move far on foot. He says he has issued orders directing the use of motor transportation to assemble and deliver his personnel, and seeks consideration for the refugees.

Williams and Hurt struggle north in their jeep through an army in collapse, and finally reach the enemy lines at sunrise. The Japanese see the jeep and charge it with fixed bayonets, until they see the American white bedsheet. The Americans are taken to Maj. Gen. Kameichiro Nagano, head oft he 21st Infantry Division, to plead their case. The Japanese send Hurt to fetch King.

A few minutes after 9 a.m., King puts on his last clean uniform and sets out to meet the Japanese. It is the 77th anniversary of the other great American surrender, Appomattox, and King feels like Lee as he rides forward.

It takes King two hours to cover three miles, due to Japanese strafing and shelling, but they finally meet Nagano at an experimental farm station near the lines. They are joined by Col. Motu Nagayama, 14th Army's Chief of Operations. Nagayama says he can only negotiate with Wainwright to surrender the whole of the Philippines. King says he is only there to surrender his own force, and pleads for guarantees under the Geneva Convention for his men. The Japanese refuse, and say negotiation is impossible. The Americans will have to surrender en masse or individually.
As the discussion goes on, so does the fighting, and King hears the roar of artillery and the rattle of small arms, knowing his men are dying. At half past 12, he agrees to surrender Bataan unconditionally. Nakayama then demands King's sword. King is flabbergasted. He tells Nakayama he left his sword in Manila at the outbreak of war and hasn't even thought of it for months. Nakayama is furious. King persuades Nakayama to accept his pistol, and the American officers place their weapons on the table. Despite the ceremony, the Japanese regard this is merely the surrender of King, not the Bataan command.
King asks Nakayama if his men will be well-treated.
"The Imperial Japanese Army," Nakayama declares, "are not barbarians."
78,000 exhausted, starving, sick, American defenders go in the bag, days after the offensive began. The Japanese were expecting to capture 40,000 healthy Americans who could be fed from their own food stocks, a month after the offensive began. The Japanese do not have the resources to care for their PoWs, as they begin marching them north out of the peninsula and to the PoW center at Camp O'Donnell. To add to the brewing disaster will be the Japanese army's standard practice of treating junior personnel and the sick with brutality.

All across Bataan the Americans lie in wait for the Japanese to take them prisoner. Some get their first good night's sleep in weeks, others bathe and put on fresh uniforms. When the Japanese arrive in their dusty khaki uniforms, woolen field caps, and puttees, they beat and rob their captives of knives, watches, fountain pens, flashlights, cameras, scissors, and nailfiles. Senior officers are hauled in for interrogation. Maj. Gen. Edward P. Jones is asked

"You Americans don't expect to win this war."
"We certainly do," responds Jones quickly. "You can't win!"
"Well, you're not going to fight any more" says Lt. Gen. Susumu Morioka.
"No," replies Jones, "But I have four sons who will be fighting."

Japanese guns move into position and start shelling Corregidor.

Last year, April 9, 1994 was declared "PoW and MIA Remembrance Day" in the United States, and the date chosen, that of the surrenders of Appomattox and Bataan, is deliberate.

April 10th, 1942...Japanese troops land on Cebu and Billiton in the Philippines. On Mindanao, Maj. Gen. William Sharp's three Filipino divisions and policemen hold off the Japanese with five 3-inch mountain guns and defective machine guns. His men lack helmets, grenades, and anti-tank weapons, so they turn Coca-Cola bottles into Molotov cocktails. In the Visayas, Brig. Gen. Bradford Chynoweth's 20,000 men are backed up by a well-organized resistance movement.

On Bataan, Japanese troops overrun American hospitals. At General Hospital No. 1, Japanese troops push patients in pajamas and slippers into the line of captives, and start thumbing some north. Most of the patients and staff are left there for two months and issued rice and carabao, before being transferred by truck to Camp O'Donnell.

But at Hospital No. 2, with 7,000 patients, the Japanese officer in command, Maj. Sekiguchi, is harsh from the start, decreasing American food. His men steal watches from the patients, and sardines and orange juice from the kitchen, and seize the hospital's generator and vehicles. They send Filipino prisoners north, in some cases removing their casts or forcing extremely sick men to march along, some crawling or limping along.

In Burma, the Japanese attack the British near Taugdwingyi, and the British have to retreat again.

April 11th, 1942...At Aleppo, Syria, 5 NZ Brigade relieves 6 NZ Brigade, which heads of for Zabboud, wherever that is.

In Bataan, the Japanese start marching their PoWs north, with little rhyme or reason. Some Japanese soldiers give out cigarettes or food to their prisoners, and others rob the men of the same cigarettes and beat them.
As the PoWs head north, Japanese behavior turns even more erratic. Some soldiers let the PoWs rest, forage for food, or even give them bottles of soft drinks. Others use Filipinos for bayonet practice or even deliberately run them down. Some exhausted stragglers are buried alive, or bayoneted or shot for being laggards. When sick Americans collapse, Japanese soldiers leave them where they fall. It is the beginning of the Bataan March of Death.


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