FEPOW Memorial Church


Philippines & Hawaii

Philippines & Hawaii Malaya Java & Sumatra Burma Strategic Imperatives



Remains of the USS Arizona

Dawn, 7th December 1941 Japanese carrier borne aircraft attacked the main US Pacific Naval Base at Pearl Harbour, Hawaii, while talks were continuing in Washington over Japanese demands in the Western Pacific. Heavy damage was caused to naval craft - total casualties were 3000, including 1500 dead. Several key US aircraft carriers were at sea during the attack and so escaped destruction.

Japanese aircraft also attacked Dasao and Baguio in the Philippines while dropping leaflets urging the local population to revolt against the Americans. The formal declaration of war by Japan was made only later that day.

8th December Britain and the US formally declared war on Japan with Germany and Italy declaring war on the US three days later.

Dawn, 10th December strong Japanese forces with heavy naval and aerial support attempted to land between Vigan and San Fernando on the west coast of Luzon (Philippines). These attacks were repulsed by US and Filipino troops, but later that day Japanese troops established themselves at Apari on the northern tip of the island and attempted to move south. Manila was heavily bombed as was the naval base at Cavite on Manila Bay.

11th December, Japanese forces occupied the Gilbert Islands


22nd December  about 100,000 Japanese troops with tank support landed in the Lingayan Gulf area of Luzon. There were also landings on Mindanao, the second largest island. That day, a small force of US marines, facing overwhelming odds, surrendered on Wake Island 3000 miles to the north east.

31st December faced by overwhelming numbers, American and Filipino forces evacuated to Manila and Cavite. The island fortress of Corregidor continued to hold out. Japanese forces entered the capital at 1500hrs.

2nd January Manila fell to Japanese forces

1st February heavy losses were inflicted on Japanese naval and air force bases in a  surprise attack by US carrier forces in the Marshall and Gilbert Islands supported by cruisers and destroyers.

8th March 1942 Japanese forces landed at Salamaua and Lae in New Guinea. This was followed 3 days later by landings at Finsch Harbour 70 miles east of Salamaua. The invading force was heavily attacked by RAAF and USAF aircraft.

11th March a Japanese invasion fleet heading for Port Moresby was heavily attacked by Allied aircraft causing the force to break up and disperse.

17th March General Douglas McArthur arrived in Australia to take command of air, sea and land forces in the South West Pacific.

18th March US and Australian aircraft engaged Japanese forces invading New Guinea, damaging or sinking 23 Japanese ships.

19th March Major Japanese forces were seen moving South West in New Guinea, but heavy attacks by US bombers temporarily halted the advance.

9th April US and Filipino forces on the Bataan peninsula of Luzon were at last overrun by Japanese forces after an heroic resistance lasting four months. With the exception of 3500 marines and others who escaped to Corregidor, 36,800 defenders were killed or captured.

See map: http://www.onwar.com/maps/wwii/pacific1/1bataan42.htm

By April, the Japanese had started to regroup their invasion force, which had been heavily attacked on 11th March.

4th May US Naval Forces found part of the Japanese fleet at Tulagi in the Solomon Islands and, over the following three days, almost destroyed it. The Battle of the Coral Sea, as it came to be known, was the first in history to be fought exclusively with carrier borne aircraft.

3rd-7th June even greater losses were inflicted on Japanese Naval Forces at the Battle of Midway Island. This battle is generally regarded as the turning point in the Pacific War.

See map: http://www.onwar.com/maps/wwii/pacific1/1midway42.htm