On December 7th 1941, Japanese air forces attacked Pearl Harbor, destroying ships and claiming more than 2,400 lives. This attack is most noted for being one of the single most important events leading to the entrance of the United States into WWII. However, it was also detrimental to American forces in the Pacific southeast, which were unable to receive support from the damaged American harbor.
Ten hours following the attacks on Pearl Harbor the Japanese attacked the main island of the Philippines, Luzon. This island and the defense of it were under the command of Major General MacArthur, who assumed command while the Philippines were still under WPO (War Plan Orange). The key point behind WPO was that the most effective way of defending the island was by focusing all of its protective forces around Bataan. This plan wasn’t so much a means of defense as a delaying measure which would allow the U.S. ample time to send reinforcements. When MacArthur assumed control in July of 1941, he was able to convince the commanding Generals and Admirals that the defense of the island would be more successful if they assumed a more active defense of the Philippines.
The Japanese focused their preliminary attack on Clark Field and IBA Field, crippling the U.S.’s air forces on the island. Following the attack on the air fields, the Japanese switched their attention onto the Cavite Naval base, causing a retreat to other Philippine islands, and... [continues]
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