In the decade prior to the Great Pacific War, the Philippine Islands had become a financial and military liability of constantly increasing gravity to the United States. If the development of a Philippine Army, intended to defend the Commonwealth against the Japanese was considered fanciful, then the Orange Plan, with its provisions for the early dispatch of an American Fleet against an aggressor, was hardly less so, for it assumed that the U.S. Pacific Fleet would survive an opening battle. The most forlorn hope was that in the event of war with Japan, the loss of the Philippines would be temporary, and that the Americans caught there would be properly tended to during their captivity.
The inadequacy of the records dealing with operations in the Philippines, and the absence of message files, map overlays, and other after action reports would have made it impossible to write a detailed account of the campaign had it not been for a wide variety of unofficial records.
Fortunately, many officers who commanded subordinate units felt the compulsion to leave a record of their experiences. During their years in prison these men had discussed and compared their operations endlessly with their fellow prisoners and jotted down in cheap Japanese notebooks or on scraps of paper all they could remember and had learned. So scarce was writing material that the men covered every inch of space in the notebooks and wrote in characters so small as to be scarcely legible.
These notebooks and papers were then hidden ingeniously from the Japanese guards. In some cases, the documents were buried and recovered after the war.
The articles varied widely in size and quality. Some are written in dull military prose, whilst other reflect real literary merit. Some are accurate and detailed; others replete with loose generalizations.
Louis Morton, who wrote "The Fall of The Philippines" saw common in them all "a note of bitterness at what they believed to be their abandonment by the government and the desire to justify themselves to the future." The histories in this volume illustrate an unmistakable picture of brave men who resolved to fight on, even after their country could no longer support them.
Surrendered into the custody of the Japanese, it was all they could do just to stay alive. Yet among them, there were those who would risk their lives, one more time, to record the experiences of their comrades in arms.
These histories are accompanied by images from the scrapbook of Andrew Lagonick, to help evoke the period prior to the descent into Hell.