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1942

All American forces in the Philippines surrender unconditionally

On this day in 1942, U.S. Lieutenant General Jonathan Wainwright surrenders all U.S. troops in the Philippines to the Japanese.

The island of Corregidor remained the last Allied stronghold in the Philippines after the Japanese victory at Bataan (from which General Wainwright had managed to flee, to Corregidor). Constant artillery shelling and aerial bombardment attacks ate away at the American and Filipino defenders. Although still managing to sink many Japanese barges as they approached the northern shores of the island, the Allied troops could hold the invader off no longer. General Wainwright, only recently promoted to the rank of lieutenant general and commander of the U.S. armed forces in the Philippines, offered to surrender Corregidor to Japanese General Homma, but Homma wanted the complete, unconditional capitulation of all American forces throughout the Philippines. Wainwright had little choice given the odds against him and the poor physical condition of his troops (he had already lost 800 men). He surrendered at midnight. All 11,500 surviving Allied troops were evacuated to a prison stockade in Manila.

General Wainwright remained a POW until 1945. As a sort of consolation for the massive defeat he suffered, he was present on the USS Missouri for the formal Japanese surrender ceremony on September 2, 1945. He would also be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor by President Harry Truman. Wainwright died in 1953-exactly eight years to the day of the Japanese surrender ceremony.

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