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Timeline: World War II in the Philippines

1941-1944 | 1945-2000  


Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor December 7: Japanese attack Pearl Harbor. Ten hours later, across the date line (December 8), they attack Clark Field in the Philippine Islands. In the days that follow, Japanese ground forces under the command of Lt. General Masaharu Homma begin landing in the Philippines.

December 23: General Douglas MacArthur orders the evacuation of Manila, the removal of headquarters to the island of Corregidor and the withdrawal of troops to Bataan.

December 25: General MacArthur declares Manila an open city.

December 27-28: The Japanese continue to bomb Manila.


Japanese soldiers in the Philippines January 2: The Japanese begin to occupy Manila.

February 8-9: Philippine president Manuel Quezon proposes that America grant independence to the Philippines and that the Philippines surrender, assuming neutral country status. President Franklin Roosevelt rejects this proposal.

March: Under orders from President Roosevelt, MacArthur leaves the Philippines for Australia. President Quezon has already left.

April 3: Japan launches its final offensive on Bataan.

April 9: General Edward King surrenders Bataan.

April 10: The sixty-five mile death march from Mariveles, Bataan to San Fernando, Pampanga begins. Hundreds of Americans and thousands of Filipinos die from starvation, thirst, disease and random execution throughout the six- to nine-day trek.

Prisoners are interned at Camp O'Donnell. In the first two months, 1500 U.S. POWs and 15,000 Filipino POWs perish from starvation, disease and abuse.

May Surrender of the Philippines 6: American general Jonathan Wainwright surrenders Corregidor to the Japanese.

June: Filipino POWs are paroled from Camp O'Donnell; many join guerrilla forces to fight the Japanese. American POWs are transferred from Camp O'Donnell to Cabanatuan -- the largest POW camp in the Philippines and the largest U.S. POW camp on foreign ground. An estimated 9,000 American soldiers will pass through Cabanatuan. In the month of June 1942 alone, 503 POWs die in Cabanatuan.

July: 786 POWs die in Cabanatuan.

October 1: The first Hell Ship leaves the Philippines. The Japanese use unmarked tankers through the duration of the war to transport POWs to slave labor camps in Asia. Conditions are inhuman; thousands of men die.

October: Club Tsubaki opens. Club owner Claire Phillips, a suburban housewife from Portland, Oregon, goes undercover and is able to discover information on Japanese activities, which she supplies to local guerrillas.

December 15: The first day without death in Cabanatuan.


May 23: Spy Claire Phillips is captured.

September 4: A Japanese-sponsored Philippine Constitution is signed.

December: The training of Alamo Scouts begins on Fergussen Island, New Guinea.


April: Army Ranger training begins in New Guinea under Lieutenant Colonel Henry Mucci.

August: The War Ministry in Tokyo issues the Kill-All policy -- a policy to annihilate all remaining POWs.

October 19: A Japanese Air Force Vice Admiral orders the formation of Kamikaze squads to commit suicide attacks on the enemy.

October 20: MacArthur returns to the Philippines, wading to shore on the island of Leyte.

December 14: Atrocity at Palawan. Nearly 150 Americans are executed by their Japanese captors in a POW camp in Palawan, the Philippines.

1941-1944 | 1945-2000  

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