Do we really want to continue in this path and thereby risk shining light on Admiral Hart and the Asiatic Fleet? Thing's don't look so good on the navy side. While MacArthur is crucified for the bad luck timing of planes returning to fields to refuel and rearm just as the initial Japanese attacks from Formosa arrived. What is ever mentioned about the navy? Nothing. Nothing at all. Critics have given the navy a complete pass.
In the pre-dawn hours of Dec 8, orders went out to the Asiatic fleet to be prepared for a dawn attack. Yet, the first engagement between Japanese and American forces in the Philippines took place at about 0700 when Japanese planes attacked the destroyer-seaplane tender Preston which lay at anchor alongside two PBY's...also anchored. A third PBY tended by Preston was in the air... about 15 miles away. All this after being alerted to prepare for a dawn attack. The navy prepared for attack by casting anchors.
After the blue water surface vessels of the Asiatic Fleet fled from the enemy, the 29 submarines of the Asiatic Fleet remained in Manila Bay. On the morning of Dec 8, where were the ~29 submarines of the Asiatic Fleet assigned patrol and picket duty? Surely 29 sub's could form a formidable protective screen about Luzon. Well, they weren't on patrol or picket duty. Instead, they were berthed in Manila Bay (with maybe 2 exceptions). The submarines of the Asiatic Fleet responded to orders to prepare for a dawn attack by checking their mooring lines.
After all the trouble U-boats caused in WWI and given the even greater troubles U-boats were causing in the present war, 29 (with 2 exceptions) U.S. submarines responded to orders to prepare for a dawn attack by making sure their mooring lines were secured to their berths. Actually the sub's submerged in Manila Bay to hide from view but the effect was the same, the sub's were going to remain in port rather than seeking out the enemy.
MacArthur is crucified because a dozen B-17's were caught on the ground while refueling and refitting yet critics remain silent about 27 submarines cowering in Manila Bay. Had those sub's been out on patrol and picket might one of them have tagged a troop transport, tanker or even a carrier?
Even after Dec 8, why is it that most of the PBY's destroyed were destroyed at anchor or while taking off during daylight hours? The PBY could stay aloft from pre-dawn till post-dusk. Why even after Dec 8 weren't they out on dawn to dusk patrols?
Of those naval forces which moved to Bataan prior to WPO-3 going into effect, I seem to recall over 20 percent comprised some or all of the 1K marines that had just arrived from China and were already scheduled to go to Bataan ~Dec 8. My recollection is foggy because I never looked into it deep enough to know which marines were assigned to which units. I know some marines may also have been at Subic Bay (basically bordering Bataan).
In any case, once the marines already planned for Bataan headed for Bataan ~Dec 8, that left 3,600 naval forces outside of Bataan. After Cavite was essentially put out of service on Dec 10, the navy decided to disperse the remaining vessels and assigned PT squadron 3 to Bataan. At the same time, the navy began burning papers at Cavite thereby indicating their intent was to abandon the base.
I don't know how many men were assigned to Squadron 3 but once moved, fewer than 3,600 navy men remained outside Bataan. A significant portion of those would have been at Subic Bay which bordered Bataan.
It wasn't any great insight or sense of reality by Adm. Hart that caused him to move men to Bataan prior to WPO-3. A man that is afraid to fight will always seek an avenue of retreat. Whereas MacArthur had to be ordered off Corregidor in March 1942, Adm. Hart snuck out of Manila aboard a submarine Christmas night 1941.
And who knows. The men on Bataan lasted until April with significantly less than the WPO-3 mandated supplies for 43k men. If MacArthur would have been smart enough to see he needed to move supplies into Bataan sooner, you know fuel and ammo would have been moved as well. Id bet they would have been able to push the 1 year envelope that the WPD believed possible, Id wager October myself.
Again, be it business, politics, or military, the consequences of a failed strategy are always severe. Failed tactics can be recovered from fairly quickly but more times than not, failed strategies coincide with turning points.
Given the mauling delivered to the Japanese by Bataan defenders, I agree that had balanced rations along with supplies for 180 been available, they would have held out much longer than 180 days. That's of course a hypothetical because 180 days of ammo never existed on the island.
By April 1942, provisions for 180 days likely would have been available but by Dec 1941, convoys had only just begun arriving.
Where I would lay blame on MacArthur is in not expecting the unexpected by the Japanese. His intelligence and that of Marshal's pointed to an early date of April 1942 which I believe coincided with the end of typhoon/monsoon season. Supply strategy in the Philippines rode on that assumption. The Japanese preempted that strategy. I think it safe to say, the strategy of defeating the enemy on the beaches is one that any combat commander of the era would have agreed with. Even prior to MacArthur taking command in July 1941, Wainwright wrote that he was opposed to WPO-3 and was doing his best do defeat it.
Anyway, my guess and this is just my guess is that once MacArthur realized the scope of the disaster at Pearl, he knew the USAFFE was on it's own and their best if not only hope was to defeat the enemy on the beaches.
When his forces were routed on the beaches by the main Japanese landings circa Dec 20-24, the full consequences of a failed strategy hit home. All that was left was to put WPO-3 into effect which he quickly did.
Had he chosen to contest Manila and thereby provide more time for supplying Bataan he could. Instead, he made the humanitarian decision to declare Manila an open city and complete the retrograde withdrawal into Bataan. That retrograde withdrawal into Bataan is considered by all a military masterpiece.
I don’t see why we need to do that. The Navy figured it out sooner than MacArthur did. That’s all there is to it. The personnel they left behind were fully supplied per WPO-3 and WPL-46 standards.
The fact that Wainwright was against WPO-3 isn’t really significant either. He was not making the call. MacArthur was, and he reacted too slow and those men ended up under-supplied as a result.