Year
1942
Month Day
May 06

All American forces in the Philippines surrender unconditionally

On May 6, 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 S. Truman. Wainwright died in 1953—exactly eight years to the day of the Japanese surrender ceremony.

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us! HISTORY reviews and updates its content regularly to ensure it is complete and accurate.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Ohio kidnap victims rescued after years in captivity

On May 6, 2013, three women are rescued from a Cleveland, Ohio, house where they had been imprisoned for many years by their abductor, 52-year-old Ariel Castro, an unemployed bus driver.The women—Michelle Knight, Amada Berry and Gina DeJesus—went missing separately between 2002 ...read more

The Hindenburg disaster

The airship Hindenburg, the largest dirigible ever built and the pride of Nazi Germany, bursts into flames upon touching its mooring mast in Lakehurst, New Jersey, killing 36 passengers and crewmembers, on May 6, 1937.  Frenchman Henri Giffard constructed the first successful ...read more

Roger Bannister runs first four-minute mile

In Oxford, England, 25-year-old medical student Roger Bannister cracks track and field’s most notorious barrier: the four-minute mile. Bannister, who was running for the Amateur Athletic Association against his alma mater, Oxford University, won the mile race with a time of 3 ...read more

English Channel tunnel opens

In a ceremony presided over by England’s Queen Elizabeth II and French President Francois Mitterrand, a rail tunnel under the English Channel was officially opened, connecting Britain and the European mainland for the first time since the Ice Age. The Channel Tunnel, or ...read more

FDR creates the Works Progress Administration (WPA)

On May 6, 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs an executive order creating the Works Progress Administration (WPA). The WPA was just one of many Great Depression relief programs created under the auspices of the Emergency Relief Appropriations Act, which Roosevelt had ...read more

John Steinbeck wins a Pulitzer for “The Grapes of Wrath”

On May 6, 1940, John Steinbeck is awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his novel The Grapes of Wrath. The book traces the fictional Joad family of Oklahoma as they lose their family farm and move to California in search of a better life. They encounter only more difficulties and a ...read more

Final episode of "Friends" airs on NBC

At 9:00 p.m. Eastern and Pacific times on May 6, 2004, that familiar theme song (“I’ll Be There For You” by the Rembrandts) announces the beginning of the end, as an estimated 51.1 million people tune in for the final original episode of NBC’s long-running comedy series Friends. ...read more

The theft of “Duchess of Devonshire” painting stirs interest

On May 6, 1876, Thomas Gainsborough’s painting, Duchess of Devonshire, causes a stir when it goes up for auction at Christie's in London. It sells to a London art dealer, William Agnew, for $51,540, the highest price ever paid for a painting at auction. Two days later, Agnew ...read more

Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev reviews Cold War in speech at Westminster College

In an event steeped in symbolism, former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev reviews the Cold War in a speech at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri—the site of Winston Churchill’s “Iron Curtain” speech 46 years before. Gorbachev mixed praise for the end of the Cold War with some ...read more

Harry Gant is oldest NASCAR winner—again

On May 6, 1991, 51-year-old race car driver Harry Gant racks up his 12th National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) Winston Cup career victory in the Winston 500 in Talladega, Alabama. In doing so, Gant bettered his own record as the oldest man ever to win a NASCAR ...read more