Dan Carlin's Hardcore History - Show 64 - Supernova in the East III

Episode Date: October 25, 2019

Japan's rising sun goes supernova and engulfs a huge area of Asia and the Pacific. A war without mercy begins to develop infusing the whole conflict with a savage vibe....

Discussion (0)
Starting point is 00:00:00 What you're about to hear is part three of a multi-part series on the Second World War in the Asia Pacific Theater. If you don't mind your story starting in the middle and you haven't heard the first couple of editions, well, this is a perfect place to start. If you like your stories with the background and the context and all that, well, you might want to catch up on the first two shows. If you already caught up on the first two shows, well, welcome to the long-awaited, sorry about that, part three.
Starting point is 00:00:27 Part of the reason it's a little long-awaited is I wrote a book. You want to find out more about it? Go to our website. Fast forward to the end of this show or just wait till you get there naturally. In the meantime, Supernova in the East, part three. December 7th, 1941. It's history. A date which will live in infamy.
Starting point is 00:00:52 That's one small step for man, the events, one giant leap for mankind. The figures. Not quite to the noise, man, that's the word humanity, from this time and place. I take pride in the words, Ish Bin Aang Bialina. Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall. The deep questions. I welcome this kind of examination because people have got to know whether or not their presidents are crook.
Starting point is 00:01:40 Well, I'm not a crook. If we dig deep in our history and our doctrine and remember that we are not descended from the fearful of man. It's hardcore history. One of the reasons you can't put much trust in the idea of the lessons of history, especially when it applies to specific situations, is that we human beings see the sorts of behaviors that we admire and then we choose the examples that fit our bias. So for example, we all have this tendency to celebrate resolute defiance and strength
Starting point is 00:02:23 and willingness to confront things like, you know, we like our Churchillian confrontation with evil. The ideas, the strong ideas of we learned from 1938 in Munich that you can't appease dictators. You know, this idea of strength is much lauded in the lessons of history, but we never take the opposite lesson, assuming that this is some kind of lesson to heart. And that's that sometimes one might suspect it would be worth putting a statue up to somebody in a government that caved into his adversaries that submitted that cried uncle.
Starting point is 00:03:02 The reason I bring that up is because if you could have found somebody in the Japanese leadership, and that may have included the emperor, who would have done something like that, he would have saved his country from the worst disaster it ever had. And yet think of how impossible it is to imagine a person in that situation doing that. One of the reasons we spent so much time and everybody else does on the dysfunctional development of the Japanese government is because this December 7th 1941 incident is where it fails in the worst possible way. I mean, to quote one of, well, 97% of the historians of the world who think this is
Starting point is 00:03:42 the like one of the worst decisions ever. Naval historian Craig L. Simons called the attack at Pearl Harbor, one of the most reckless and irresponsible decisions in the history of warfare. And the reason it's reckless and irresponsible is because the chances of success in this Japanese war plan are so small. I mean, when are these gambles okay? If you're talking about risking an entire country, right? When is the cost-to-benefit ratio lining up all right for you?
Starting point is 00:04:11 I often wonder how much better life would be for the average German today if Germany had won the war in the Second World War. Are they all living like Kardashians today or are they mildly better off than they would be anyway, right? How much of this actually filters down to the average person as a sort of a counterbalance to balance out the risk that you're taking that you might lose the war? If you look at Germany's risk in 1914, when they march into Belgium, assuming that the British won't get involved and World War I breaks out anyway, say what you want, and
Starting point is 00:04:40 it's a horrible risk because it doesn't just lead to World War I, but the inner war years, the rise of Nazis and World War II, I mean, it's a disaster. But Germany had a decent chance in that war. They could have won it theoretically in the last year of the conflict. So as bad of a decision as that was, it's worlds apart from the Japanese decision which has just as much in the way of cataclysmic ramifications if you lose, but your chances of winning are so much smaller. You want to think percentile dice, you Dungeons and Dragons fans?
Starting point is 00:05:08 97 or above Japanese come out of this in any way, shape or form. Okay. Let's review, shall we, their, you know, if you go to the Japanese Optimist Society, that the military, I made this up, but the, you know, imagine the most rose-colored glasses of the Army and Navy guys, and they're thinking about the multiple ways that they could win this war. We already talked about the first one, and that's going to come into play right after Pearl Harbor, and that is the idea that they are going to explode across the region, take
Starting point is 00:05:37 over a whole, you know, think about a circular area and sort of roughly kind of like an egg maybe that encompasses all the resources they need to be self-sufficient, and then they're going to fortify it all and make the other side take it back in what would be in their minds if you're the rose-colored glasses wearing optimists here, an island, an archipelago version of the First World War, Western Front trenches that would also include a web of air cover as the Japanese see it. So number one is we take it all and we make you take it all back. And this is where, by the way, the Japanese hope to maximize one of the few advantages
Starting point is 00:06:15 they have as they see it over the other side, and that is morale. We started off this entire series talking about these Japanese people who stayed on the islands decades after the war was over. How do you leverage that into winning somehow? Well this strategy of occupying these islands, fortifying them, and then making the Allies take them back, well that's maximizing them, right? Because you're assuming they're going to get tired of losing people for these little sandy atolls in the Pacific more quickly than you are.
Starting point is 00:06:45 Now number two possible way that the Japanese win here, if you're in the Optimist Room, the Axis wins the war. I mean if the Germans win, then maybe everything changes. It should be noted by the way that as Pearl Harbor is happening, the Soviet Union's Red Army are mustering their forces for the big counterattack at Moscow that will change the entire complexion of the war in Europe, so the timing on this could not be worse. Right as we're finding out that Germany is probably not going to win the war, is basically right around the same time period we're at right now.
Starting point is 00:07:20 Finally number three, and this is the most interesting way that Japan wins this war somehow, is what happens if this Pan-Asianism idea that a lot of the Japanese leadership sort of sees as a more PR marketing tool, although some really believe it, but what if that catches on? Remember what that is? All of Asia in this time period, with the exception of Japan and one or two scant other places, are colonial possessions or places like the Philippines that aren't officially colonies, but have a relationship with the United States that's subordinate.
Starting point is 00:07:51 Let's put it that way. There is a lot of anger, as you might imagine, seething in these areas, and these peoples have never been able to confront the Western colonizers in any sort of military sense. But here's a power from Asia that can, and that at least with the marketing material of suggesting that that's exactly what they're doing, in the fantastic rose-colored glasses, dreams of the optimists in Japan, they see a giant rising of all of the peoples of Asia to sort of rally to Japan's banner and leadership. But if those things don't happen, Japan is going to be, as Winston Churchill said, ground
Starting point is 00:08:30 to powder. A better metaphor, if you want to be more accurate, would be burnt to cinders. And the only person who perhaps could have saved them would have been somebody who stood up and said at the last minute when there were no real options, Uncle, and we don't put statues up to people that give in to our enemies, even if they save our entire society by doing so. Now in all fairness, people have always made the argument that this is exactly the role the emperor eventually played in ending the war, more on that later, of course, but that
Starting point is 00:09:08 he bravely, as the only person who really could, said enough. But investigators looking into these things at the Tokyo war crimes trials wanted to know that if he had the power to do that at the end of the war, why didn't he use it before the war broke out? And that's when you get back to the whole dysfunctional Japanese government and all the reasons it was, let's not forget, for example, about assassinations and how much of a tool to prevent thinking that wasn't patriotic enough from being publicly expounded upon.
Starting point is 00:09:41 I mean, there was a period in Japanese history that we talked about where historians sometimes call it government by assassination. And it was the most extreme in Japanese society sort of driving the bus, if you will. And remember, Japan was following the trend of places like Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union where any sort of dissent or not towing the party line was less and less accepted. And super patriotism was sort of the new minimum standard allowable and unquestioning loyalty to the state was required. And Japan, it's been at least the decade previous to this sort of purging itself of
Starting point is 00:10:18 leftists and anarchists and people that wrote bad things about the government and the ones who weren't in prison or under surveillance were cowed. So the voices that might get up and speak against suicidal decisions aren't really in a position to do that by the time December 7th rolls around. And let's remember, almost every country in this story has a nice proportion of its citizens who believe that phrase, my country right or wrong, will remember in Japan they not only believe that phrase probably at higher levels than most people, a significant chunk of them believe that their emperor is a living god.
Starting point is 00:10:55 So if you want to sort of have unquestioning loyalty in the state, when the state is a living god, you can just ratchet that normal level of patriotism that most people think is good way up to 11 off into super patriot land when it can become destructive. But of course, let's remember, it takes somebody like a super patriot sometimes or as we said in the Second World War here in the United States, a fanatic to be willing to kill themselves diving their aircraft into an enemy ship in the hopes of making any little difference in the war effort for their country or their emperor or their beliefs. And the beliefs are interesting from a really human standpoint, there's a great book called
Starting point is 00:11:47 Japan at War, an oral history by Haruku Taya Cook and Theodore F. Cook, that is an oral history with Japanese voices talking about all these different kinds of things. And the introduction talks about how there are certain wartime phrases that were really only used in wartime, but they came out in the interviews because there's nothing else that describes them, and I was interested in why some of these people fought. Because like every army during this period, there's a lot of conscripts, there's a lot of people that go because they have to or because everyone else is going who don't think too much about the causes.
Starting point is 00:12:26 But there's a lot of these people, and especially the super patriots, the ones who feel very strongly who have thought deeply about what they're doing and why. And I was interested in the similarities between the university and high school professors in Germany in the First World War and in Japan before the second. If you go read any number of accounts, but all quiet on the western fronts, the most famous, they all talk about how their professors, it's funny, it's like the opposite of today's stereotype of the Marxist leftist professor that corrupts the young minds that come into the classroom and makes them anti-government.
Starting point is 00:13:05 Before the First World War, these German high school professors were famous for whipping their students up into patriotic frenzy, getting them to join the military. What are you going to do for the empire? And getting them all fired up patriotically. And before the Second World War, you see this same dynamic going on in Japan, and in the book Japan at War and Oral History, one of the people that they quote is one of these young people who gets fired up for idealistic reasons that, you know, it's funny, you could see college students getting fired up about today in a broad sense.
Starting point is 00:13:40 The student's name is Noji Harumichi, and he talks about getting fired up by a professor. Quote, the man who really got me all stirred up about colonialism was Professor Aima Mura Chiyosuki. He was the founder and head of the Department of Colonial Economics at Nihon University, the private college we called Nichidae. He'd say in class, I've been to Shanghai where signs say, dogs and yellow people, no entry. I've been to the South Seas, an area controlled entirely by the white man.
Starting point is 00:14:17 He'd ask us, what are you going to do to knock down this structure? He had studied in America and was a professor of current events, but he devoted himself to rousing speeches like this. My feelings resonated with him. I burned with the desire to act. Given an opportunity, I want to go to the front. I want to go to China. I want to do something myself.
Starting point is 00:14:40 That's what we all said. He continued, and this gives us an idea of how some of the passionate people, you know, on the other side, especially the young idealists might have felt given what they were being taught, quote, America and Britain had been colonizing China for many years. Japan came to this late. China was such a backward nation. At the time of the Manchurian incident in 1931, we felt Japan should go out there and use Japanese technology and leadership to make China a better country.
Starting point is 00:15:13 What was actually happening on the battlefield was all secret then, but I felt sure that the greater East Asia co-prosperity spear would be of crucial importance to the backward races. Japan and Germany would only have to combine forces to break the Anglo-Saxon hold on Asia and redistribute the colonies. That's how we felt then, end quote. It's interesting if you compare why that person thinks they're going to go off and fight. To why, say, Americans in Korea or in Vietnam felt like they were going off to fight.
Starting point is 00:15:51 A high-minded, you know, I knew people like this who went there because they thought they were helping to keep or to free other people, right? We were risking our own blood and treasure, not for our own strategic interests, but literally to help these other people. It was almost a mission of mercy. Now, as everyone knows, once you get onto the battlefield and see what's going on, ideas like mission of mercy sound very different. But what motivates a person to want to go do these things are sometimes the most idealistic
Starting point is 00:16:22 and high-minded reasons. So there's a real irony there when the Japanese army will go act the way that they act in all these other countries that so many of them felt so idealistically connected to when their professors whipped them up into the idea of a crusade to help the other yellow peoples, you know, the term of the time, right? The yellow races, the white races. Now let me pause for a second because it may seem as though we're artificially injecting some of the modern racial discussion into these events from the past.
Starting point is 00:16:58 In other words, viewing it through that lens, but nothing could be further from the truth. Many of you have read the primary sources. You know what I'm talking about. This is a major component of the whole thing. I mean, the racial aspect, forget about the Pacific and the white man and the yellow man, and we're going to use those terms because that's the terminology of the time. But forget about all of that for a minute and just remember what's going on in Europe where we have the concept of the master race and slave races like Slavs and Untermension
Starting point is 00:17:31 who are to be wiped out in camps. I mean, so this whole question of ethnicity and race and superior and inferior beings, this was already going on in the Second World War before this whole part of the world was officially part of the Second World War. And the question of colonialism was longstanding, obviously, and it puts the United States, just for those of you who maybe don't remember, in a very strange position in this whole affair because unlike Britain, France, the Netherlands, and these other countries that have been in the colonial game for a long time, the United States is officially an anti-colonial country,
Starting point is 00:18:08 flirted with it during the Spanish-American War, but even when they have a pseudo-colonial relationship in a place like the Philippines, we don't treat it the same way because we have a self-image that says we're not a colonial people. And the Japanese, by the way, bought into some of that marketing, too, and sometimes the most interesting stuff you'll read about the Second World War comes from authors. And Len Dayton, who wrote an interesting book on the whole war, asked a question that I've seen before, but you don't even think about it very much, and that's why the Japanese have to involve the Americans in this at all.
Starting point is 00:18:40 They could have been fighting an anti-colonial war against the colonial powers in Asia, left the United States out of it, might have saved themselves a loss in a war. Well, there's a lot of reasons, including the Philippines and whatnot, and a growing antipathy in the United States. There was a public opinion poll, he quotes, taken two days before Pearl Harbor that said almost 70% of Americans wanted some sort of controls put on Japan's expansion, and the US always had a soft spot in its heart for China, which was being basically raped by the Japanese.
Starting point is 00:19:12 So things were edging towards this point anyway. But this is more than a racial war on very simplistic, you know, yellow and white questions because the Japanese themselves are involved in this, let's call it trend of this era, of superior and inferior beings, Dr. Seuss' star-bellied snitches. The Japanese do not see themselves as the equals of all these yellow peoples in Asia that they are freeing, using my fingers as air quotes from their European colonial masters. They don't see themselves as the equals of the Koreans, or the Chinese, or the Malays, or the Filipinos.
Starting point is 00:20:01 They see themselves as superior to them in a racial and ethnic sense, the same way that the Germans see themselves as superior to the Slavic people. Now let's put an asterisk next to this whole affair so that when the time comes to talk about it continually in the future, we'll all understand that within all these countries, and I always try to remember this, whether we're talking about Nazi Germany or Japan or the Soviet Union or, well, any country you can think of, there are people that do not match the tenor of the times, that do not match the attitudes of the country and the government, you know, anti-Nazi Germans in Germany who have to have their house bombed
Starting point is 00:20:41 during the bombing raids, just like the Nazi next door who supported the government every step of the way, right? There are Japanese humanitarians who hate what's going on here every step of the way and who would never behave like this, and of course who, because we're all caught up in the gears of history and subject to the randomness or the cosmic decision, however you want to phrase it or put it, of being born when we're born and where we're born, we sometimes avoid such terrible dilemmas, but so let's understand, when I talk about how Germany is or how Japan is, that may be a national sort of stance, the master race
Starting point is 00:21:17 idea in Germany, but it doesn't mean that every German believed in that at all, just like it doesn't believe that every Japanese person believed in the superiority of the Yamato race, and that, you know, the idea, as we said from that student, I mean, it's a spectrum, let's call it a spectrum thing of how Japan felt about the rest of Asia. On one end of the spectrum is that student that we just quoted that makes the peoples of Asia like the Chinese people sound like Native Americans or Aboriginals in Australia, just sort of a backwards primitive people, all they need is some, you know, they would have said in the old west, some Christianizing, we'll send them to some Indian schools, we'll
Starting point is 00:21:58 bathe them, we'll dress them up right, we'll get rid of all that mumbo jumbo they grew up with, and in a generational true, you'll have good old Americans that blend right in the Japanese where that student was feeling similarly about the Chinese, they just need leadership, help, technology, some of our values and ethics, we'll shape them right up, right, we'll help those people, that's one end of the spectrum, that's the one that wants to go help, right, they're still inferior, but they can be fixed, this is a Japanese version of the Peace Corps, my goodness, then you got all the way over the opposite end of the spectrum where you will find these Japanese thinkers who remind you of like Nazi scientists
Starting point is 00:22:37 who have a racial view of people like the Chinese as subhuman, genetically inferior, to be sterilized at least, wiped out maybe, I mean they're the kind of people that might as well just try some experimentation like infecting a bunch of fleas with the bubonic plague and dropping them over their cities and see what happens, which by the way they did, so it runs the gamut, right, but it's the same idea, the Japanese are fighting their own race war on two fronts, one is against these, you know, white folks who think they're so superior and have taken over almost all of Asia, the other is against all these Asians who aren't good enough to be Japanese people, but would be better off, you know, with us
Starting point is 00:23:20 running an empire, I mean from the standpoint of a lot of these colonial peoples, they are being thrown out of the frying pan and into the fire, the transition moment from frying pan to fire for a lot of these people will be at about the same time that the bombs are actually dropping on Pearl Harbor, it's easy for Americans, myself included, to get so focused on what's going on in Hawaii and the surprise attack that was so shocking, that we miss the many other aspects of this Japanese Blitzkrieg occurring in many cases simultaneously and completely coordinated around Asia and the Pacific for the first 48 to 72 hours of this affair, I mean at the moment the bombs are falling on Pearl Harbor, there
Starting point is 00:24:12 are Japanese bombers in the air en route to Wake Island to bomb there, a couple hours before Pearl Harbor there are landings of Japanese troops in northern Malaya, they will bomb the Philippines, they will bomb Guam, they will bomb Wake, they will bomb Midway, a Hong Kong all in the first few hours, they will bomb Singapore and kill 61 people before Singapore even knows they're at war, this is astounding and the scope of Japanese operations is breathtaking, let's remind ourselves the Hutspa involved here though, I mean you could easily describe the Japanese right at the time of Pearl Harbor, remember bogged down in China for years now, a country the size geographically about of the United States,
Starting point is 00:24:56 they are trying to eat an elephant figuratively speaking and they're choking on it and on December 7th 1941 they decide to order a couple more elephants because that's what they're doing here, if this were a movie and you are the person who's writing it, you love this idea because what I mean this is swinging for the fences right but as we said earlier the chances of success are so small and yet the Japanese are trying to maximize those chances, there are a bunch of things they're going to do at every level to try to compensate for their deficiencies, at the grand strategy level what we're talking about here when you go attack all these countries that are so much bigger and have more industrial might
Starting point is 00:25:36 and more manpower than you, what do you do, well you use things like speed and audacity to disorient your opponent, give you an early edge, take advantage, I mean think about it like a pro wrestling match and there's always those matches where the champion turns around the good guy and he starts to take off his robe but he's not looking and the little guy from behind when no one is looking hits him you know in the back of the head and then for the first five minutes kicks him around and tries to take advantage of making him groggy before the big guy comes too, that's kind of what the plan is here, surprise and audacity will confuse and disorient an opponent, at least for a while, I mean think about the
Starting point is 00:26:15 Americans who wake up the next morning after Pearl Harbor open up their newspaper to find out that they're at war and in the very same newspaper they find out that their pacific fleet has already been eliminated for the most part, that will compensate for some deficiencies won't it and it's not the only thing the Japanese are doing because when the bombs are falling on Pearl Harbor as we said the Japanese are attacking locations all over Asia and the Pacific if not simultaneously then near simultaneously, they have advantages in addition to surprise although as we said I mean the idea that the Japanese were going to attack was not a complete surprise because people had seen troopships and whatnot but their ability to do this
Starting point is 00:26:59 and carry it out effectively and the speed at which they were doing it and most importantly if you read the primary sources the aircraft and the air power, I mean the Japanese really established almost air supremacy quickly and this was unexpected, there were a bunch of unexpected things by the way you open up Winston Churchill's history of the Second World War which is of course more like a personal memoir but it's I was starting to count how many times he talked about the Japanese and say that we underestimated them, he always threw in the Americans too to diffuse the blame a little bit the British and Americans underestimated the Japanese capabilities.
Starting point is 00:27:37 We can tie this back sort of though into the racism thing too and there's there's so many sources that point out that a lot of these I mean the British are famous for it in this particular case but it affected everyone where they just didn't see the Japanese as a capable opponent and because of that underestimated them and because of that are now paying the price. I mean take for example, I always use this example because it's I think it highlights the whole thing but there is a plane that will be the one of the big fighter planes in the in the earliest part of this conflict on the American side and the Americans gave
Starting point is 00:28:14 it to the British and some other flyers it's called the Brewster Buffalo. It's a bad plane, the bad fighter plane, the only reason that the Brewster Buffalo is here in the Pacific is because it's assumed to be good enough in the Pacific. People like the Americans and the British are going to be shocked when they run into the Japanese fighter planes and how good they are I mean the famous zero for example and this goes back to underestimating the Japanese as a people because the stereotype of them before the Second World War when it came to things like innovation and design and building was that they were a kind of a copycat people that they could build a good replica of some
Starting point is 00:28:52 other person's design but they weren't capable of coming up with their own advanced designs themselves which is why when they run into these fighter planes and they are better than anything the Allied powers have in the theater it's a shock and it will be just the first of many to get an idea of how the racism allows the Japanese to be underestimated. Arthur Lund Dayton quotes a number of people to show this sort of sniffy superior attitude that some colonial British had concerning the locals and he quotes for example Air Chief Marshall Sir Robert Brooke Popham who commanded that whole region and had seen Japanese soldiers close up in December 1940 and Dayton says that he didn't think much of them and now quoting
Starting point is 00:29:40 the Air Chief Marshall quote I had a good close up across the barbed wire a various subhuman specimens dressed in dirty gray uniform which I was informed were Japanese soldiers and quote Dayton says he told his masters in London and then added quote I cannot believe they would form an intelligent fighting force end quote Dayton continues quote such low opinions of the Japanese were prevalent in the British Far Eastern forces more realistic estimations were not welcomed in April 1941 the British military attache in Tokyo told officers of the Singapore garrison that he regarded the Japanese army as a first class fighting force well trained well officer and possessing highest pre decor as the talk ended
Starting point is 00:30:31 Lieutenant General Lionel Bond head of Malaya command rose to declare that such talk was quote far from the truth he added you can take it from me that we have nothing to fear from them and quote when the British general woke up the governor of Singapore to tell him that the Japanese were landing north of them in Malaya the governor and this according to Dayton also was recorded as saying quote well I suppose you'll shove the little man off end quote so see we're not bringing up this racism stuff to make some sort of racism point we're pointing out that it helps explain how the Japanese were so fatally underestimated I mean if you watch how they dominate the skies in this region and that how that allows them
Starting point is 00:31:18 to do everything else you sit there and wonder where are all the great planes from earlier in this war where are the spitfires and all these planes that you just know are cutting edge they're not really in this theater in any sort of real numbers you know why because they're in all the other theaters I mean the British are fighting recently in Greece their life or death in North Africa they're sending planes to their Russian ally to keep them fighting this is well first of all five minutes ago a peaceful theater second you can't really spare planes you don't have and the Americans are still working on developing fighters that can compete with the Japanese fighters the thing is though that five minutes ago they
Starting point is 00:31:58 didn't know they had that problem five minutes after the war starts they're running into these zeros everywhere and another thing that the primary sources stress a heck of a lot more than the more modern stuff because you know they were there is how disruptive it was to have aircraft like fighter aircraft just come over you and strafe stuff with their machine guns and cannon and it's funny because you know theoretically you don't have to be too mentally inventive to see how devastating that would be if I took a machine gun in my hand and shot it at a bunch of stuff it's gonna do great damage what if you have three or four of them and maybe a 20 millimeter cannon or two two and you're shooting from above
Starting point is 00:32:38 usually things are least defensible you know from the air well that would be disruptive as heck but you don't see a ton of that in the modern sources because they're focusing on the fact that these people are also dropping big bombs at the same time I was reading an Australian journalist more on him later who was continually talking about how disruptive it was just to have a couple of planes come over every few hours and shoot up everything and all you have to do is injure and kill a few people and it's chaos for a while and if before you solve that chaos the planes come back and do it again that's what the first 48 72 hours this look like I mean the Japanese are seemingly everywhere and it's
Starting point is 00:33:17 air power that allows them to be we should point out by the way that everywhere in this particular case is a distance that is hard to get your mind around I believe we said in the last segment this is the largest battlefield in human history and it's not even really close if you look at where operations in the first six months of this war will take place I mean we just mentioned didn't we operations as close to US shores as Hawaii well the Japanese will attack into the center of the Indian Ocean in the near future look at how far apart those are they'll be attacking islands off Alaska and they'll be in operations down by places like Fiji for comparison purposes the distance between Los Angeles and New York is
Starting point is 00:34:07 about 2700 or 2800 miles this battlefield is more like 6000 miles by 4500 miles I read that somewhere but it's close to that I mean it's the distances are crazy and when you look at what a country that has more industrial strength than Japan has and the kind of problems that they're having trying to take over and digest the Soviet Union and of course I'm talking about the Wehrmacht and friends December 7 December 8th 1941 they're involved in maybe the most crucial operations of the war outside of Moscow a decent number of historians would tell you that they feel that the war is decided there and the Germans those of you who know this story know it well are dealing with headaches upon headaches over their logistical supply
Starting point is 00:34:55 lines being stretched so far and remember they've got railroads to help and it's still nightmarish and those distances that they're dealing with are nothing compared to the kind of distances that the Japanese are going to be dealing with once they unleash once they go supernova right when the rising sun of Japan explodes to create this defense perimeter that includes all of the resources they need to be self-sufficient take a look at the geography too because it will be a crucial element in the story first of all we said before and I still find it fascinating if you're going to deal with the human part of a story like this the environment is going to be key to the experience and the kind of battlefield
Starting point is 00:35:37 that is most hellacious is a personal question it's a different answer person to person it's a eye of the beholder sort of thing what bothers you the most may not bother me the most so we may have different ideas of where the most hellish place to fight for example in the second world war was I have a friend who can't stand even the slightest bit of cold he's going to have thought that something like what the Germans are dealing with right about now outside of Moscow is his worst nightmare you know cold to the nth degree on the other hand you go read some of the accounts of the veterans of the pacific war for example and it's a completely different kind of nightmare if you're bothered by spiders and snakes and
Starting point is 00:36:24 centipedes and nighttime I mean it's everybody's got the things that scare them or bother them the most for a lot of people the conditions that Allied forces will see in the Pacific and let's be honest the Japanese didn't like spiders and snakes and centipedes any more than the next people either for some people the Pacific is the worst of all possible battlefield conditions if you look at the way that you know like if I put a map in front of you and said I want you to figure out how to strategize you know winning this war take a look at the island problem for a second because it seems to me that this is the key issue for anyone besides the distances and the fact that you know they're covered by water you have to
Starting point is 00:37:05 try to figure out what to do with the islands because the Pacific has 25,000 islands the Philippines alone which is a single data point on this battlefield has 7,000 or more actually 7,000 plus islands just in the Philippines how do you attack that if you're the Japanese commander or how do you defend it is an equally valid question it's a very interesting kind of war here's the other thing to take note of of these 25,000 islands in the Pacific a ton of them are little more than you know spits of sand out in the middle of the water away from everything or little coral reefs or atolls the problem is is that they're big enough for someone to convert into an airfield they're big enough for you to think about
Starting point is 00:37:50 taking it to keep the enemy from having one or for you to create an airfield there yourself the Japanese defense perimeter idea here involves taking a lot of these islands building airfields on them if they don't have them already and then creating a sort of web of defense that makes counter attacks by the allies trying to retake their territory brutally costly when the second world war breaks out the Japanese already have a pretty good start to this island defense perimeter they own a lot of these islands already ironically they took a bunch of them from their now allies the Germans in the last world war but in the early stages of this conflict they'll snap up a bunch more and they'll quickly be in
Starting point is 00:38:33 possession of more than a thousand of them if you are the allied strategists this is a difficult strategic nut to crack if you think about it and that's exactly what the Japanese are hoping for and while a bunch of these islands fit that stereotype that I just sort of laid out earlier these coral reefs or atolls or little spits of sand a lot of these islands don't fit that stereotype and some of them are very large indeed with dramatically difficult terrain I mean look at places and this is what the maps used to call them as I think I said all these places have different names now which makes it more confusing but I mean the Borneo's and the Sumatras and these places that have heavy
Starting point is 00:39:14 duty jungle combined with big land masses I mean for goodness sake take a place that's a very important strategic value in this conflict and that is you know going to see a ton of fighting how about New Guinea north of Australia New Guinea is the second largest island on the planet if you measure the British Isles from Dover in the south to the York New Islands you know in the northern Scottish area and then you multiply that by three times it's still not as long as New Guinea is we mentioned earlier that the worst battle conditions in the world is an eye of the beholder sort of thing well New Guinea has something for everyone's nightmare in that regard because it is an improbable mix of terrain types first of all it is for
Starting point is 00:40:03 the most part just like your stereotypical Pacific jungle island heavy jungle island now I would say rainforest but it doesn't really conjure up the right vibe not so sure one of the veterans of that campaign would think rainforest did justice to the conditions I mean it sort of conjures up these mental images of unicorns running around and there weren't any unicorns obviously there were however man-eating crocodiles in all the rivers huge man-eating crocodiles so a little bit of a different sort of feel to New Guinea than the rainforest idea might project the jungle is so thick in places that vegetation just rots and stinks and attracts all sorts of insect life while blotting out the sun in some places New Guinea has all of the creepy
Starting point is 00:40:58 crawlies that haunt a lot of people's nightmares whereas in some places you might wake up and have a sigh of relief to know that that dream about that giant poisonous centipede crawling on you was nothing but a dream in New Guinea it's all too real and they might be crawling on you after you know 20 straight days of torrential downpour now what New Guinea brings to the table that's a little different from a lot of these Pacific islands is that in addition to the jungle it's also got enormously tall mountains Borneo does too some of these other places do too and there's a lot of volcanoes or extinct volcanoes in the region but New Guinea has towering mountain ranges so tall that some planes can't quite make it over the hump and have to try to work the
Starting point is 00:41:46 thermal updrafts a little bit to get it over the really you know if they're heavily weighted the really you know tip of the mountain range but that creates an environment that one of my books describes as alpine jungle doesn't that sound sort of mutually exclusive or contradictory alpine jungle i haven't encountered that elsewhere but it gives you a sense of the challenges i mean how do you equip a force to fight in alpine jungle what's more this is a very remote area so once you get away from the coastline toward the interior you know there are no roads there's none of that there's like dirty footpaths and it's so isolated in the interior that before the second world war anthropologists from the west that were trying to get examples of how human beings operated before
Starting point is 00:42:34 cities first arose and stuff like that trying to see us you know as we existed through most of human history 10 000 years ago or whatever they ventured to the interior of places like New Guinea to watch for example tribes of people on the island go to war some of these anthropologists by the way never made it home a bunch of the soldiers who had to fight there suffered you know similar fates and they never made it home either if you look at a map too you can see why New Guinea is such a dramatic island of importance to the people in australia because if you had japanese airfields and troops as close to the united states you know california or new york as the australians have New Guinea close to them we would be losing our minds during the second world war
Starting point is 00:43:26 the australians are directly threatened by the japanese finally you have that area that the japanese are really i mean this is the prize in this gamble the whole reason to take this giant risk add a couple more elephants to the menu is for the potential payoff the potential payoff is a number of territories but most of them are islands they're known as the dutch east indies during this time period their names used to be places like sumatra as i said in borneo the area of malea north of singapore is also very valuable lots of tin lots of rubber lots of interesting exotic sort of hard to find resources and of course oil today these uber valuable resource rich territories are the independent nation states of countries like indonesia and
Starting point is 00:44:20 malaysia but when the second world war in asia and the pacific is starting these are like most of the region under the colonial domination of european states and these particular places this treasure chest of regional resources is almost like a legacy colony if you want to think about it because they're controlled by the dutch and the dutch haven't been a major military power for some time they remind you a little bit of the belgians who are also a colonial power and you think to yourself the belgians are a colonial power they could hardly you would think defend their homeland if they were in trouble but they're a colonial power and speaking to that point when this war is breaking out right around the time of the pearl harbor attacks
Starting point is 00:45:10 the dutch can't defend themselves in europe they're actually occupied by the nazis during this time period and by the way so are the french they also have a puppet government set up controlled by nazi germany so some of these colonial powers are having a hard time keeping their act together back at home in europe but they still want to control these territories and maintain their domination in the region and who wouldn't it's human nature it's just like the japanese wanting to take them over right that's the sort of power of politics mankind's become accustomed to ever since samaria and before right but before the japanese can exploit these territories and use them as sort of the equivalent of the nuclear reactor powering their future empire they have
Starting point is 00:45:53 to take the places first and that's what the early stages of say from december to late february or march are going to be so if you look at this campaign in chapters or sections the first section is the japanese blitzkrieg section and the first 48 or 72 hours as we said is a little crazy i mean with landings north of singapore as we said hong kong's attacked immediately there are landings on philippine islands guams attacked immediately and taken over quickly wake island will be attacked quickly although the marines will prevent it from falling quickly on december 10th so a couple days after pearl harbor famously a british naval attack force goes to see based in singapore by the way sent there right before war broke out by winston churchell in a move that reminds
Starting point is 00:46:41 you of what the u.s constantly does today we'll send a carrier group to a place like the straits of horn moves to display resolve or we'll send another task force to the straits of taiwan to show the flag whatever it might be these are old naval maneuvers and the british of course the greatest navy of all time at this particular moment in history and so churchell sends this task force to singapore as a way of sending a message to the japanese before pearl harbour saying let's remember what you're going to be tangling with if you decide to mess with us right you're not going after chinese now you're not fighting the soviets i mean this is the navy that's so great you model your navy after us now famously there will not be an aircraft carrier with this task force
Starting point is 00:47:24 and the reasons for that are controversial as is everything that happens next as is almost everything from the early failures on the allied side in this conflict it's pretty typical though isn't it whenever you have beginnings of wars there's going to be screw ups and you've had years of peacetime maneuvers and war games and all sorts of things to prepare you for all this stuff that's going to happen but when real war happens murphy's law gets involved in a way it just doesn't in the peacetime war games and you see screw ups after screw ups i mean look at pearl harbour and how many years they're going to be investigating whose fault that was right um right after war breaks out at pearl harbour the japanese will famously bomb clark field in the philippines which is us held
Starting point is 00:48:05 and destroy like half of the planes on the runway when the air command in the philippines already knows that the us is at war and that pearl harbour has been bombed again fingers start getting pointed the singapore situation will see a ton of fingers pointed in british military circles and went on december 10th the capital ships the battleships prince of wales the battle cruiser repulse and their um destroyer complement head out to see or continue their um search for japanese troop transports to sink off of the malayan peninsula get spotted by japanese reconnaissance forces there are planes all over that area submarines uh the japanese initially see them and then lose them and then they find them and pick them up again and then they send land-based
Starting point is 00:48:58 bombers out to go get these ships now we told you earlier that there's an interesting it's called an rma these days a revolution in military affairs happening in naval warfare during this period whenever something like that happens it has to fight the inertia of the prevailing military beliefs because there's so much invested in so many different places and on so many different levels in the way things are think about the reputations at stake in people who've assured for example people in governments who decide to throw money into some particular weapon system that this weapon system is cutting edge and will determine everything in the next war so you got reputations on the line then you got the reputations of the people that decide to make the decision to spend
Starting point is 00:49:42 the money to build these systems then you had the people who support these systems i mean it's as silly as sometimes the fact that something like a battleship if you are a naval commander who wants to command a ship at sea that is one of the top prestige jobs i remember from star trek captain kirk used to say there's only 12 enterprises in the fleet i mean it's this great honor to be a starship captain well where'd you get that from that's taken directly from the idea of commanding a ship of the line or in this case a battleship so you even have that kind of inertia working against the idea that the weapon that's got the highest prestige and the most investment in the navies around the world most states can't even build battleships let's emphasize that right
Starting point is 00:50:24 that's how rarefied the air is here none every country can even build these battleships so what happens if the evidence continually begins to show over and over that they're obsolete nobody really wants to hear that by the time pearl harbour happens you've had more than two years of war in places like the mediterranean the atlantic the north sea i mean the british and the germans and the italians are all tangling with each other so there's evidence accruing and if you're a fan of battleships like i am it hasn't been necessarily very good news but there's mitigating circumstances that's what a person like me who doesn't want to hear what the mounting evidence seems to show and what a lot of other people would say to mitigating circumstances i mean we talked about the
Starting point is 00:51:10 british raid against the italian fleet anchored at the port of taranto right where a bunch of old biplanes by the most primitive level of like air to naval combat you can think of primitive biplanes with a top speed of something like 140 miles per hour are able to cripple or sink four italian battleships and they lost two planes people who love battleships put their fingers in their ear as i do and say not a fair test these ships were tied up at port they weren't maneuvering their crews weren't manning the anti aircraft weapons at full strength i mean not a fair test and that sort of has been the case for the war so far and on december 7th 1941 you get another not fair test when the u.s fleet tied up at port receives a similar treatment but worse
Starting point is 00:52:02 to what the italian fleet got at taranto the reason so many historians pay so much extra attention to this december 10th 1941 naval incident is because it's the best by far the best test case scenario we have the new revolution in military affairs in action because you have two capital ships here and one of them is new commissioned this same year you can't say the paint hasn't been scratched because for a brand new ship it's already seen a lot of action it tangled with the biz mark for example uh the prince of wales though has the latest anti aircraft system heavily armored both these ships by the way the repulse the battlecruiser that's with it and the prince of wales about the length of two and a half us football fields if you think about them
Starting point is 00:52:49 like stubby versions of the titanic that's not far wrong the repulse is something like 30 000 tons in weight uh the prince of wales almost 40 000 tons they are ridiculously heavily armed especially the prince of wales these are mid 20th century death stars and it is hard not to admire them as some of the most technologically sophisticated naval killing machines i mean if if if there's a diabolical side to you where you could admire that kind of weapons perfection i mean that you can see why people could fall in love with a weapons system like this and refuse to see the new reality it's going to be the attack that happens on the morning of december 10th 1941 that is if you'll pardon the pun a capsizing moment for many people on the fence about this
Starting point is 00:53:42 who are trying legitimately to figure out what the data points suggest now we'd mentioned earlier that there was supposed to be an aircraft carrier with this task force the british navy is fully aware of the value of aircraft in a naval situation they are not stupid they would have liked to have had it the indomitable though had run aground earlier wasn't here up until the last minute airpower from the land bases around there were were potentially going to be involved but that didn't happen either the key to the whole thing though and understanding that this is going to be a capsizing moment is that when these ships went out into the south china sea without airpower they did not think of this as an extremely dangerous thing to do if this were 1945 this would be an
Starting point is 00:54:29 almost suicidal thing to do and everyone would have known it but of course the reason that they would have known this is by 1945 plenty of battleships have been sunk by aircraft up to the point we are in the story right now late 1941 december 10th 1941 that had never happened in naval history what's more if these ships and their crews were not unduly concerned about going off without air cover you would imagine they had every right to be considering the amount of anti aircraft weaponry these ships were loaded with there's a war correspondent named od gallagher who writes for the british paper the daily express he's on board the repulse and in his rundown of this incident he focuses intensely on the anti aircraft on the ship you can tell he's overwhelmingly impressed
Starting point is 00:55:23 with it and it's inferior to what's on the prince of wales he talks about something that has a firing rate of 2000 rounds a minute i had to go look it up and it's basically 450 caliber machine guns strapped together on a rack if you look at the way that anti aircraft will eventually evolve at the end of the war there's actually some good footage you can find of late war us naval task forces opening up against i think it's kamikaze's and what you see is i mean the us had perfected this by late war they've got picket lines of destroyers out in advance they've got a bunch of smaller ships surrounding the big ships and they all open up at once the sky fills with explosive metal they have it sectioned off by altitude so you have certain kinds of guns firing
Starting point is 00:56:16 right at sea level for the low flyers and then they've got it graduated in steps every way up the altitude chain it's all synced to radar it's awesome awe-inspiring and all you can think of is how could anybody ever fly through that what would it be like to try to fly through that but here's the dirty little secret about it all enough planes always get through so that you can't defend these ships with anti aircraft alone oftentimes the numbers look pathetically small of planes taken out by anti aircraft but even in the battles where you know you see a lot of enemy planes are destroyed by gunfire from the ships a lot of times it's after the plane has already conducted its torpedo run or bombing run and it's passing over and and past a lot of these planes will make it back to their
Starting point is 00:57:11 base and then be declared total losses now that's great you've reduced enemy aircraft numbers but it didn't stop the attack on the ship at the time so how many planes are you willing to take out and call it an even day if you lose a battleship and they lose 30 planes 40 planes i mean put a number on it army general billy mitchell who said in the years between the two world wars that the us shouldn't even build any more battleships because you could buy a thousand bombers for the price of one battleship i mean he's the kind of guy that might say i'd be willing to lose a thousand planes 999 planes and call it a victory if i took out a battleship you could begin to see that in order to protect these ships you have to expect a level of efficiency on the part of the
Starting point is 00:57:58 anti aircraft weapons that's not realistic to expect now another reason that the people on board these ships are confident that they have nothing to worry about is because they realize that they're not up against the kind of enemy that they're used to facing a lot of these people just came from europe where they were facing the Luftwaffe and germany and these are notoriously good military forces highly trained very efficient and the people on this ship think that they're facing people who don't measure up to european standards for all of the bigotry reasons i mentioned earlier so nothing to worry about that's another thing that this is going to be a data point for this is part of the allies discovering that they have woefully underestimated their enemy here
Starting point is 00:58:46 and war correspondent od gallagher is on board the repulse he writes for the british paper the daily express as i believe i said he recounts what happened on this fateful day when the japanese aircraft find this strike force again the battle itself begins about 11 am 11 15 with japanese aircraft attacking from all different sides and all different altitudes at different times as they sort of arrive so you have six planes eight planes 10 planes some hugging the waves with heavy torpedoes on the horizon others flying in this case they had level bombers so medium bombers that would fly straight overhead at like 10 000 feet and drop big bombs very hard to hit the ships at that height but if you do they're very big bombs od gallagher says that at 11 15 am the
Starting point is 00:59:40 prince of wales anti-aircraft weapons open fire the explosion makes him jump and then he says and let me warn you these are primary source quotes from the era so they're going to have all the bigoted wartime propaganda type terms you might expect but we don't censor primary sources and you wouldn't want us to imagine trying to do that for example with stuff from before the u.s civil war and you'd have huge gaps in anything you might try to say so before warned but gallagher writes about the 11 15 am air assault quote that was the beginning of a superb air attack by the japanese whose air force was an unknown quantity officers in the prince of wales he writes whom i met in their ward room when she arrived here last week said they expected some unorthodox flying
Starting point is 01:00:32 from the japs the great danger will be the possibility of these chaps flying their whole aircraft into a ship and committing harikiri he quotes them as saying he continues quote it was nothing like that it was most orthodox they even came at us in formation flying low and close aboard the repulse he says i found observers as qualified as anyone to estimate Jap flying abilities they know from firsthand experience what the royal air force and the Luftwaffe are like their verdict was now quoting their verdict the germans have never done anything like this in the north sea atlantic or anywhere else we have been end quote both these ships begin maneuvering they both do about 30 knots so they're they're fast they're as we said long which makes it hard to maneuver
Starting point is 01:01:23 but these are all the sorts of things that defenders of battleships suggested that they'd be able to do and survive these encounters and by the way throughout these air attacks the repulse is dodging torpedo after torpedo so there's some truth to the whole maneuvering thing they dodge like 19 of them but this is a numbers game and over the space of about an hour and a half almost a hundred aircraft will participate in what looks very much like the taking down of a large animal on the serengeti by a persistent horde of smaller predators and that is i should point out one of the two ways that these big ships tend to be sunk way number one is pretty classic and very dramatic and it's been around ever since you had magazines filled with explosive
Starting point is 01:02:18 things in naval warfare the critical hit is always a possibility you saw it against the bismarck where the bismarck or the cruiser with it was able to penetrate the magazine of the battle cruiser hood the beautiful british battle cruiser fighting it somehow got into the magazine and boom it explodes and out of a crew of something like a thousand three people survived i mean it was at the bottom of the sea extremely quickly part of it sank in like a second and a half the other one lasted a couple of minutes before boom so the critical hits always been around in naval warfare but with a lot of these big ships it's more like a process of weakening them and what often happens is a lucky hit will happen but if you're trying hard enough a lucky hits inevitable right i mean
Starting point is 01:03:09 you take enough pulls even at the old slot machines in las vegas designed to take your money from you but it'll eventually pay off the air combat's not too dissimilar after dodging 19 torpedoes for example the repulse eventually gets hit by one and what these torpedoes often do is make you more vulnerable so they'll jam the rudder or they'll damage the power uh that happens uh to the prince of wales eventually when she gets hit they're dropping these very big bombs from very high altitude the chance of hitting these ships is very small but if you drop enough bombs you have a decent chance of striking with one and they're big enough some of them are a thousand pounds that if you hit these ships with something like that you're likely to slow them down
Starting point is 01:03:55 and if you slow them down then they become meat the prince of wales after being hit and seeing its power levels drop and its speed drop begins to take a list and gallagher on board the repulse watching this says quote 12 20 p.m the end is near although i didn't know it a new wave of planes appear flying around us in formation and gradually coming nearer the prince of wales lies about 10 cables a stern of our port side she is helpless they are making for her i don't know how many they are splitting up our guns as they realize they are after her knowing she can't dodge their torpedoes so we fire at them to defend the prince of wales rather than attend to our own safety the only analogy i can think of
Starting point is 01:04:46 to give an impression of the prince of wales in those last moments is of a mortally wounded tiger trying to beat off the coup de gras her outline is hardly distinguishable in smoke and flame from all her guns except the 14 inches i can see one plane release a torpedo it drops nose heavy into the sea and churns up a small wake as it drives straight at the prince of wales it explodes against her boughs a couple of seconds later another explodes amid ships and another a stern gazing at her turning over on the port side with her stern going under and with dots of men leaping from her i was thrown against the bulkhead by a tremendous shock as the repulse takes a torpedo in its port side stern end quote the repulse will take a few more
Starting point is 01:05:32 and gallagher will go down with the ship only to be fished from the water file his story and have it appear a mere two days later in the british morning papers more than 800 men died and it would have been much much worse had there not been destroyers nearby to pick up survivors the british admiral on board the prince of wales went down with the ship and drowned when told of this event winston churchell says it was one of the biggest shocks he got in the entire war the cost for sending these two ridiculously expensive technologically sophisticated nearly impossible for most people to build mid 20th century death stars between four and seven japanese aircraft that is a change in the cost to benefit ratio in naval combat
Starting point is 01:06:38 that will create a revolution in military affairs we should also point out another angle that makes this important and that has to do with how long it takes to build these giant ships for example these big battleships take generally between three and four years to build the aircraft carriers that are going to take over as the big important ships are more like two to three years to build but that's a significant amount of time when julia caesar invaded britain in 54 bce he says he built a fleet of six to eight hundred vessels over the winter well when you're building although they were pretty sophisticated but when you're building wooden vessels like that maybe you can pull that off but with these very sophisticated machines it is a process but what that means is
Starting point is 01:07:34 unlike land warfare and unlike air warfare i mean you never want to lose an army and you never want to lose an air force in something like the battle of britain have it ground down to the nub you never want that to happen but if it doesn't lose you the war somehow within a year most of the top powers will have restored something like that now you can't restore the veteran nature of the troops and whatnot that you lose but in the air force you might argue it might be a plus i mean you replace the old stuff with brand new stuff but it's something that you can deal with naval warfare is different because it takes so long to replace these big ships that if you were to lose something like four aircraft carriers in an afternoon that's devastating because the ships that you lay down to
Starting point is 01:08:23 replace them probably won't be ready in time for you to use them in this war so the value nature of the main fleet assets skyrockets and all of a sudden these aircraft carriers are going to be seen as like queens on a chessboard and they will need to be handled with care now when these two capital ships go down december 10th 1941 you have a fantastically weird and interesting situation in global affairs going on and i find it interesting that more attention isn't paid to it because the alternative history potential is just wild but you don't have the second world war going on as we understand it today yet you have two global or maybe you could say hemispheric wars going on at the same time involving some but not all of the same participants
Starting point is 01:09:23 and often in different combinations for example the british and friends that's how i put it the british and friends and allies without the us are already fighting the germans and the italians and the smaller axis powers now after december 7th december 8 they're fighting the japanese too the germans are fighting the british and allies and friends and they're also fighting the soviets the soviet union are fighting the germans but not fighting the japanese the Japanese are not fighting the soviet union but are fighting the chinese and now have attacked the british and friends and now have attacked the united states the united states is fighting the japanese because the japanese attacked them but they're not fighting the germans well we know there's an
Starting point is 01:10:03 undeclared sort of war going on with submarines on the east coast and the US is pushing the boundaries of neutrality by helping where they can, but there's no official war going on against the Germans, right? And the Germans didn't bomb Pearl Harbor, so you have this weird situation that might have continued for quite a bit longer. And it's interesting to speculate how it might have gone had it continued longer, because remember the state of affairs in the United States at this time. This is the end of the period, and I hate this, but that's often referred to in the history books as the isolationist period of American history. It's, if you look at public opinion polls, it's definitely getting more interventionist, but I guess coming from a low point, there are a lot of
Starting point is 01:10:44 people that don't want to go to war in Europe. Franklin Roosevelt, who is now in his third term, which is unprecedented, we still haven't had a president who served more than two. And that worries people who never liked Roosevelt to begin with, right? He's like, you know, a third term, is he ever leaving office? Roosevelt ran on a platform that he wasn't going to send American boys to go die in another European war. Boom, he wins the presidency. He's back in the White House, and now he's going to go start a war against Germany. Not likely, at least not without much more setup. So how long could this state of affairs have continued where, you know, they're all fighting? I mean, it's wild to think about. On December 11, 1941, though, in a move that must
Starting point is 01:11:29 have, you know, put a little bit of a bomb on Winston Churchill, still trying to recover from news of the, you know, sinking of those two capital ships, Adolf Hitler takes all the pressure off of Franklin Roosevelt and solves all his problems if he really wanted to get the United States into European wars, something by declaring war in the United States. Bam. Now, I'm not saying that there was an ample excuses to justify such a move, but why would you do it if you didn't have to? Well, maybe you get something for this, right? So this is what has me thinking back to some of the great German diplomats in history. I mean, one of the greatest of all times, Otto von Bismarck, right? They named the battleship after him. He was alive in Hitler's lifetime.
Starting point is 01:12:16 I can't think on a level high enough to wonder what Bismarck would have done, but I know enough about him to know what he wouldn't have done. He would not have gotten Germany involved in any sort of diplomatic commitment that didn't offer something of tangible value to Germany. That would be extremely unlike him to ever make a bad deal. This is a bad deal because the Germans aren't going to get anything for it. What might they want? Well, my goodness, their life or death at this time period outside the gates of Moscow, right? Against the Soviet Union. Go look at a map. Wouldn't it be wonderful if you're Nazi Germany to have the Japanese attack the Soviet Union from the, you know, from the backside, from the Asian side, and then you've
Starting point is 01:13:00 got them in a vice and you can, you can squish the between both sides, but the Japanese never attack the Soviet Union in this whole war, even though they kind of like to a lot of them. So what do the Germans get for all this? Well, it's an even worse deal because kind of quietly, the US and Britain have already had talks about what they might do. Should a war break out and we find ourselves working together, wink, wink, nod, nod. And one of the things they agreed upon in principle was that if war breaks out and we're in the Second World War, this whole big war, we're going after Germany first. In the history books, there's a couple of different names for this policy. Some call it the Germany first policy. Others, the Europe first policy.
Starting point is 01:13:44 But what it basically says is the Allies agree that the Germans are the number one enemy. We're going to concentrate the lion's share of manpower, resources, attention, money, and lives to defeating the Germans. And then after that's done, we will go over and grind the Japanese to powder at our leisure. The agreement basically calls for a holding pattern in the Pacific while the Germans are defeated. This will be reinforced and codified at a conference at the end of the year. It's called the Arcadia Conference, by the way. And Winston Churchill takes a battleship over to the United States and has his wonderful moment where a lot of Americans fall in love with the Churchillian approach. He goes to Congress and says those famous words. I'll try to not butcher it
Starting point is 01:14:31 here. But he says, you know, I can't help but think had my father been American and my mother British instead of the other way around, I might have gotten here myself. And then, you know, everybody loves that. And he goes and he brings a lot of his military staff with him. And he and Roosevelt and the staffs of the United States and Great Britain meet for a putting together of a coalition military approach. Now let me stop for a minute and talk about how hard this is to do. Think about putting your country's troops under the command of another nation in any way, shape, and form. It's a very hard thing to do. I mean, just look at the Axis powers, for example, and see how hard it's going to be to do. They're lied to each other, right? Japan's in now. But what can
Starting point is 01:15:17 they do to help each other? I mean, they're so far away from each other. You're not going to have Wehrmacht troops, as we said, guarding Pacific islands for the Japanese. And you're not going to have the Imperial Japanese fleet cruising around the Mediterranean sinking British battleships either. But in their defense, it's hard to have these, you know, coalition military organizations work. So that's what makes what the US and Britain do at the Arcadia Conference so monumental. They're able to craft an arrangement for how this war is going to be fought. And there are a lot of people whose noses get out of joint, a lot of hard decisions to be made. But according to Winston Churchill's doctor, Lord Moran, who was there, Churchill was simply
Starting point is 01:16:02 overwhelmed by the production figures that the US was promising. He couldn't even see any of the getting their nose out of joint part of this. And just so you know, I've often thought about this because I was reading again, and the image popped into my head of the analogy here. And maybe it's because I've actually lived this analogy. So I know how it feels like, but so have many of you. It's almost as if the war effort to date without the Americans is like a startup company that's gotten big and the people who were in it at the beginning really know what they're doing now and they're proud of their work and all these kinds of things. And that would be the British and the Allies and all this. I mean, after all, they survived the Blitz and look at how
Starting point is 01:16:35 well they're doing and they're helping keep a lot of other nations in the war with supply. But they're, I mean, pushing to the end of their extremes. I mean, in terms of debt and resources and production in their own people's lives and all that kind of stuff. And the United States is like the big outside investor who comes in, got all the money. So you have to listen to what they say. At the same time, it's a little bit galling to the people that have been there for some time to have these newbies come in and tell you how to do things, no matter how much money they're providing. The United States is going to have a very big footprint in this war. And in the Pacific, it's going to be overwhelmingly large. But as Lord Moran said, all Churchill
Starting point is 01:17:19 could see was all the tanks, planes and ships that the United States was going to bring to the table that was going to ease finally this huge burden that the British had carried throughout the entire two plus years of the war so far. In his book, The Rising Sun, author John Toland quotes Churchill's physician, Lord Moran, about the Arcadia Conference and the agreements on unity of command and all the hard decisions that have been worked out. And he writes about it, quote, Arcadia lasted for another two weeks, much had been accomplished, but some of the British left disgruntled. Now quoting Lord Moran, quote, the Americans have got their way and the war will be run from Washington. Lord Moran wrote in his diary, but they will not be wise to put
Starting point is 01:18:07 wise to push us so unceremoniously in the future. Our people are very unhappy about the decision and the most they will agree to is to try it out for a month. End quote Toland continues quote. Churchill himself went home in great good humor, exalting over the final joint production estimates reached at the conference, 45,000 tanks and 43,000 planes in 1942 and 75,000 tanks and 100,000 planes the following year, quote, he is drunk with the figures commented Moran, end quote. Well, if you had been a startup company that avoided being liquidated already, getting by by the skin of your teeth and looking for every rope to grab on to to continue the struggle, you might be drunk with the production numbers to all of a sudden the British don't
Starting point is 01:19:04 have to worry about money and stuff anymore because the arsenal of democracy is going to provide that and having to put up with the enormous American footprint is just going to be the cost of doing business here. Now the whole time this Arcadia conference is going on and I should point out it will stretch from December 1941 into the new year of January 1942. The Allied footprint in East Asia and the Pacific and all those central Pacific areas isn't growing it's shrinking by leaps and bounds. The Japanese are taking Allied possessions at a speed that is shocking and from a military geek out perspective as I think I've said, it's hard to find anything like this because it appears almost reckless the amount of operations that they have timed in an almost like domino
Starting point is 01:20:05 tumbling fashion try to try to sync up complicated events and you'll see how tough it is now try to sync up so many complicated events in such a short period of time that is historian Craig L Simons writes the Allies barely had time to catalog the advances of the Japanese let alone respond effectively. I can tell you that even trying to keep track of all the conquests on a timeline is confusing because they go on at the same time and they overlap and you have stories happening across a wide range of Asian and Pacific territories and we take for example the first couple of days you're going to have attacks in Malaya which is now Malaysia you're going to have Hong Kong attacked you're going to have the Philippines attacked you're going to have the
Starting point is 01:20:52 Gilbert Islands attacked you're going to have Tarawa attacked Wake attacked Guam attacked Macon Island attacked Siam which is now Thailand invaded Burma invaded North Borneo invaded and that's just in December they're going to kick off another round of conquest the next month it's astounding as I said it almost appears reckless but at the same time there's a certain breathtakingness isn't there in the audacity of it all and then to be successful the fact they are successful this has been something that I think we mentioned people have been pointing fingers about all the time because there's all sorts of mistakes and problems and and all sorts of pre-war different theories on what the best thing to do is which the acid
Starting point is 01:21:39 test of combat settles right we have an argument here between the wars about you know whether or not there should be defenses or whether defenses make the troops less aggressive who's right who's wrong well it's just one guy's opinion until Pearl Harbor right and then you begin to see some of these things worked out unfortunately as always it is the average soldier on the ground who gets to pay the price right for underestimations misassessments or even something that today seems so obvious but that the racism of some of these people involved won't let them to assume that the Japanese are going to be as good fighters as they are which means when they are again the troops on the ground suffer as we said the bruster buffaloes that are being shot down by
Starting point is 01:22:23 the Japanese Mitsubishi zero fighter planes all over this region don't just mean that the poor pilots stuck in those flying coffins as they were sometimes called pay the price but then when there is no fighter cover for the allies to defend the troops on the ground those zeros go strafing all day long matter of fact the one thing if you look at the primary source accounts from allied soldiers during this first period it's it's interesting how often they talk about the Japanese aircraft just coming around a few times a day and strafing up everything and shooting up everything and the amount of chaos that causes and on a day-to-day basis how much it wears you down and let's remember there might have been some very veteran troops for example on the British
Starting point is 01:23:05 Empire side of things in this area but the Americans for example in the Philippines most of those guys have never heard a shot fired in anger so when these planes come overhead and bomb and strafe all the time a lot of these people are seeing their first casualties and facing death for the first time it could be a little unnerving in Hong Kong you have a situation that will be replicated in a bunch of these smaller islands remember Hong Kong is smaller than the islands of Oahu or Maui and Hawaii but they have like a million and a half people living on it so it's a very densely populated place but it's right off the coast of China and that coastline of course during this time period is occupied by the Japanese all of these smaller islands are really tough to
Starting point is 01:23:50 defend against determined attack right because you just surround them by the sea and and pummel them I mean that's what makes the Wake Island defense by the U.S. Marines such a big deal early on in this war it's one of the notches on the Marine Corps belt of heroism by the way one of their famous stories but I mean they deserve what they get I mean there's a few hundred Marines who when the Japanese show up they blow them out of the water kill several hundred invaders they sink a destroyer or two damage a light cruiser and provide one of the few bright spots in American newspapers that Americans are waking up to every day to you know bad news after bad news this falls they're defeated here and all of a sudden on this tiny little island a few hundred Marines
Starting point is 01:24:33 are able to provide some good news the good news by the way uh one of my historians was that I read had said that this is obviously you know just the the propaganda arm of the U.S. media trying to you know gin up some good stuff and it says that when the American government or military cabled the Marines on Wake and said you know do you need anything the Marines reportedly send a message back saying yes send more Japs and the historian said it was very unlikely that they really wanted more Japanese because after all in a very short period of time before the U.S. could mount any kind of rescuer reinforcement operation they got more Japanese they got aircraft carriers and overwhelming force and they were already the Marines running out of ammunition so
Starting point is 01:25:15 they end up having to capitulate in a situation where and again they've got this on the belt of heroism so it wasn't for no reason but a lot more Marines died for the same outcome then maybe would have had to uh in a different circumstance I mean this is something you're going to see replicated all over the region during this first Japanese Blitzkrieg period because you're going to have group of allied soldiers after group of allied soldiers in situations where they pay a much higher price than they would have had to had people been able to simply acknowledge the reality of the situation this is the situation Hong Kong's in for example you wish it's like 1740 or 50 and you have maybe the British and the French going at it and and the British commander or
Starting point is 01:26:00 Lord Cornwall is type figure says well Hong Kong's indefensible we know what they know it so I'm going to go out and I'm going to hand my sword to the French general and I'm going to say please take care of the civilians we surrender there's no way for us to win this time better luck next time we'll get you uh you can't do that for all sorts of reasons number one reason is something we talked about earlier the British and the Americans have sort of different goals at the very last fork in the road here there's a lot of things they see eye to eye on this is the second world war in 20 years after all where they've been working together as either official allies or pseudo allies nonetheless at the very last fork in the road Winston Churchill who let's
Starting point is 01:26:39 understand and Americans forget this is a politician he's a politician on the very very very conservative side of the British ledger during this time period he out conservatives other conservatives and he is fully a man of the 19th century when it comes to his values and outlook and his Victorian empire sorts of views he's a man who wants to preserve the British empire he's got guys on the opposite side of parliament who are thinking that empire is a concept that's not going to last much longer so how do you get a soft landing from it right but in a place like Hong Kong British prestige is on the line the people who live there the 1.5 million civilians or whatever are under the protection of the British government that's a crown colony
Starting point is 01:27:20 which means that British prestige is at stake and this prestige thing is a weird amorphous quality isn't it it's something tangible in the sense that it's one of the things that every historian writing about colonialism will identify as one of the pillars holding up colonial domination because the reason a country can hold down a nation of many many many millions of people with a tiny little force from the mother country and some mutually beneficial deals with local elites is in part because of the prestige involved the British are the greatest colonial empire that has ever been and this wasn't just the self-opinion of the British people themselves many of the people that they governed felt the same way and it was very important for
Starting point is 01:28:06 the continuation of the British empire that they continue to feel this way in his book Hirohito's war author Francis Pike quotes something written by the man who will later be hailed as the founding father of Singapore Lee Kuan Yew where he talks about the view they had of the British before the invasion of Malaya and you wrote quote the superior status of the British government and society was simply a fact of life after all they were the greatest people in the world they had the biggest empire that history had ever known stretching over all time zones across all four oceans and five continents we learned that in history lessons at school I was brought up by my parents and grandparents to accept that this was the natural order of things
Starting point is 01:28:58 end quote if their prestige were to somehow crumble it's not an amorphous thing it's going to mean lives all over the British empire non-white people are watching the Japanese punch the greatest people in the world according to some of the people who grew up under British empire rule in the nose and it is something Winston Churchill in the books that he penned in 1949 1950 he says in this time period when manpower is absolutely at a premium that he would like to divert some forces to India and then tells the commander that he's writing the letter to that he publishes in his own history that they don't have to be fully equipped to take on the Japanese because they're not there to take on the Japanese they're there to handle any revolts by the Indians
Starting point is 01:29:48 who during this time period are under the control of Britain they're part of the British empire although they are this is the era where Gandhi is rising to the fore this is the era where the simmering and bubbling long-term Indian cry for independence is becoming much much more heated and angry and loud and Winston Churchill as this you know old-fashioned British empire supporter wants to make sure that the war aims in this conflict include protecting his vision of what he wants to outlive this war and that's not really something that's part of the American priority list in a place like Hong Kong though it determines why there has to be some sort of resistance put up and there is there's 14 or 15 thousand defenders in Hong Kong but it's such a
Starting point is 01:30:36 tiny island and the Japanese have overwhelming force right over this little strip of water they control the air they control the sea and very shortly after attacking Hong Kong they get control of the water supply and then it's game over then you're looking at a siege from the middle ages right and everybody dying of thirst i'm something ridiculous and that can't happen so Hong Kong is surrendered by Christmas by the way 1941 in Malaya where Japanese troops are actually disembarking from their amphibious assault vehicles in the middle of the night before the Pearl Harbor attack even happens they storm the beach at a place called Kota Baru in northern Malaya now northern Malaysia sort of up by the border with Thailand they actually have a defended
Starting point is 01:31:26 beach there which would which will be rare in Malaya where the Japanese won't have to face a lot of prepared or certainly long-term prepared defenses but they're at this beach and so the Japanese land four five six thousand guys in the middle of the night and run into land mines on the beach barbed wire pillboxes with machine guns artillery sighted on the beach the whole nine yards right it's like a mini-saving private Ryan storm the defenses kind of deal in his book the battle for Singapore author Peter Thompson recounts this storming and in it he has the troops i mean it really does sound like all these similar kinds of assaults because what happens is the first wave sort of storms onto the beach from the from the ships at sea the the transports and they run as
Starting point is 01:32:10 fast as they can toward the enemy and then eventually they run into the first line of defenses they're getting blown up by the landmines but when they run into like the barbed wire they all have to stop for a minute and start working on the barbed wire so they go right to the ground because there's a storm of steel flying over their head right but what ends up happening is then the next wave disembarking from the transports does the same thing they run across the beach and then they have to stop where the previous wave stops so you start to get this bunching up effect where the artillery is just going to have a field day if it can start dropping shells into the middle of this you know crowd of prone men. Thompson recounts how and this is the
Starting point is 01:32:45 kind of thing that interestingly enough makes it into history books sometimes how how one Japanese soldier suicidally throws himself over the vis the vision slit in one of these pill boxes so that the machine gunner inside can't see for a minute because there's a you know a body blocking the view so that the Japanese who's just suicidally sacrificed his life his buddies can go into the pill box with bayonets and hand grenades and clear the thing out. This is a confirmation for some of these allied troops and we should remember this is the first time in history you've had either Anglo or American troops fighting Japanese forces so there's a lot of myths and assessments and you know in the same way that the British forces on board those two capital ships that were sunk on the
Starting point is 01:33:28 10th get to find out you know how many of their assumptions about Japanese capabilities are wrong allied forces on the ground get to find this out now that they're locking horns with Japanese forces too. Some of the rumors are true they are fanatical they are more willing to lay down their lives than any other army any other major army certainly you can think of that Peter Thompson story is an example of of how a general maybe can actually plan to use the lives of his soldiers that way like an arrow in his command quiver and it's been very interesting reading some of the various ideas about you know both what accounts for this and what it does in the military since first of all we had spent some time earlier discussing how there was already a long Japanese
Starting point is 01:34:11 cultural uh a uniqueness when it comes to duty and loyalty and willing to sacrifice one's life and all these kinds of things and suicide even but then you get this era with this modern government with this tinge of totalitarianism involved that sees this as a way to to infuse an ancient samurai spirit with a willingness to lay down your life it's it's a fusion of old and new ideas that creates a situation where the expectation level is amongst all these soldiers that this is something you're expected to do and willingly and without hesitation and historian Eric Bergerud in his rundown says this is something that western troops simply would not do they simply would not follow an order that was suicidal and gave them no way out he writes quote the extreme veneration of
Starting point is 01:34:58 death of the Japanese was unique and came dangerously close to becoming a cult of oblivion it struck at the very nature of the warrior code as understood in the west in the west death in war had value only if it had purpose soldiers were asked to risk their lives in battle not commit suicide an officer intentionally putting his men in a position where they had no reasonable chance of survival would not be obeyed in a western army end quote he then goes on to talk about you know the centuries of time it took to develop you know the code of honorable surrender and how this surrender code that was understood in europe helped prevent the worst of the atrocities and and was good for both sides right you got to save the many were surrendered
Starting point is 01:35:43 lived you didn't have to spend more troops killing them all off so mutually beneficial understood long-term military custom and burger it says the japanese saw this as a sign of weakness burger it says something else that's interesting he portrays the average japanese soldiers put into these positions as almost a victim too and we've talked endlessly haven't we about people who get caught in the gears of history right the place you're born in the time you're born in a lot of people in all these second world war armies are just human beings put in extreme situations where they're expected to behave a certain way and they often have limited options what's more sometimes they don't even see that they have such limited options because they were
Starting point is 01:36:28 raised in an environment with customs with carrots and sticks in their society that sort of set them on a path like we all have with cultural blinders on in other words these japanese soldiers may indeed be victims but they may not have seen themselves that way burger it writes quote the japanese army did nothing blatantly suicidal on the strategic level in the south pacific as we shall see it went to great lengths to evacuate isolated units and retreated when conditions demanded it tactically he writes the situation was very different time after time japanese soldiers fought when circumstances for the unit involved were hopeless the slight delay caused to the allies almost never had genuine purpose it was an exercise rather in mutual
Starting point is 01:37:19 bloodletting that had no reason beyond fulfilling the requirements of soldierly honor as the japanese saw it thousands of men perished consequently for no reason it was a form of political murder most of the victims wearing japanese uniforms by breaking down the fragile restraint afforded by honorable surrender he writes the japanese opened the floodgates for war without mercy as we shall examine later their australian and american opponents proved rather good at the new rules end quote you can see the war without mercy element on display with hindsight now now in the first places that fall to the japanese during this initial offensive in fact as we've already talked about you see it in china years before this but the allies get a first hand
Starting point is 01:38:11 taste of it even when hong kong falls and there are already going to be atrocities or rumors begin to leak out of the japanese executing pow's and whatnot those rumors will get stronger as the number of places that fall continues to pile up that japanese landing at kota baru on december 8th 1941 december 7th 1941 on the other side of the international date line will quickly be followed by an advance inland another landing that goes into thailand and then goes to the other coast of malaya and very quickly the japanese begin conquering their way down both the long coast of the malayan peninsula right 600 miles long jungle on both sides with a mountain range sort of running down the middle and at the very tip of this 600 mile long peninsula on the opposite
Starting point is 01:39:00 end of the peninsula from where the japanese are now is the fortress island of singapore the Gibraltar of the east as some call it and the place where so many who really don't know the inside scoop are placing their hopes for a worst case scenario of stopping the japanese there of course there's a lot of people think of the japanese aren't going to get anywhere near singapore because there's lots of allied troops here in malaya to stop the japanese right where they are and then the japanese start blowing through them like in so many of these cases in this phase of the war what you see on paper if you're a general on the allied side where you see these units that look like they should be able to put up a good fight has very little connection to what's
Starting point is 01:39:48 actually on the ground you'll see this in the philippines too which by the way will be invaded the first islands will be invaded almost simultaneously with the pearl harbor attacks and then the japanese will have landings you know one one this week another week you'll have another i mean you can't even keep track of all the landings they do but there are going to be forces there that the commanders you know sitting back miles and miles and miles away at headquarters think these units are going to be able to resist the japanese on the beach when as several of these books that have nothing to do except talk about these early stages of the philippine conflict point out a lot of these soldiers were newly raised and a lot of these units expected to defend
Starting point is 01:40:23 the beaches against these veteran japanese landing forces had never even seen the weapons or the ammunition that they were expected to use to defend the beach first time they saw it is when the japanese are right offshore how's that going to work didn't work out well the japanese landed in the philippines they start moving inland and again you can't keep track of the defeats and a lot of these defeats are because the japanese keep landing troops after the initial landings in new places this is what control of the air and the sea gives you the freedom to do right while at the same time denying the allies the freedom to easily reinforce their own troops easily supply their own troops or in the worst situations easily evacuate their own troops in malaya the british empire has a
Starting point is 01:41:10 few options but the american forces and there's between like 14 and 16 000 american troops in the philippines for all intents and purposes they might as well be under siege after about the first week in december because the japanese aren't going to be letting any resupply in that area including no new troops and no dunkirk-like evacuation of the ones who are there well what does that mean for those troops it means that they're going to have the same thing in a broad sense happen to them that are going to happen to the british imperial forces in malaya which is they're going to be continually pushed back outflanked and forced to continually pull the line you know backwards to keep from being surrounded and destroyed and in short order they will both
Starting point is 01:41:50 the british imperial troops in malaya and the filipino and american forces in the philippines find themselves sort of like in a last ditch situation off the very coast of the place they're supposed to defend in a castle with a moat type situation in malaya it will be the fortress city of singapore in the philippines it will be the island of koregidor in the philippines though and it helped quite a bit the americans had some tanks which was a good thing because the japanese had tanks too in malaya the japanese also had tanks but none of the british empire forces did there are no allied tanks in malaya and the japanese tanks are not great tanks at all very mediocre but they become super weapons if they don't have to face other tanks and if the anti-tank
Starting point is 01:42:42 weapons on the other side are limited and ineffective that might be a good way to put it not numerous limited and ineffective maybe a better way to put it they have a gun called the two-pounder which is about a 37 millimeter gun for we americans during this period it's obsolete but the better stuff is just coming down the pike i mean there were a couple of years of war that had to happen before everyone realized wow we're gonna have to have some really good anti-tank weapons and you know there's a design lag and all that and putting it into production and testing and all that so i mean the good stuff is on the way but even when the good stuff arrives it goes to places that needed against you know german tanks in north africa maybe so there are some
Starting point is 01:43:19 two-pounders which give great service but there's not enough of them and a bunch of the rest of the anti-tank weapons are like glorify big rifles with steel bullets i mean they're not the kind of thing let's put it this way you have to get so dang close to a tank to use the thing effectively and a tank besides the big gun of course usually has multiple machine guns and when you use the weapon and don't knock out the tank it's a little like knocking on the side of the tank and saying by the way i'm right here behind you if you need to kill me for any reason but over and over again you know there's so much heroism is a weird word i'm not a military glorification person i don't believe in military heroism per se i believe as i said earlier that human beings find themselves
Starting point is 01:44:01 in extreme positions sometimes and i believe in human heroism and oftentimes because well like a lot of other people with dangerous jobs the people in the military are in positions where all right you're in one of these heroic human situations and the troops in the philippines and hong kong and these other islands and of course in malaya too are not fighting a fair fight they have one hand tied behind their back initially and two hands behind their back soon in the philippines it's going to be a question of starvation once they retreat back to corrigidor eventually they're not going to have enough food and there's no way to get a lot more to them um can't resupply them japanese control the air and sea lanes and in malaya it's going to be more
Starting point is 01:44:48 a question of exhaustion because the same troops are going to be fighting day after day after day in malaya they're going to be doing rearguard action after rearguard action and you know what those are right it's a little like when the one superhero you know tells the rest of the team to go on and by themselves tries to hold off the 10 000 aliens and a suicidal move but it allows the rest of the team to fight again another day it's a particularly scary thing to think about it because most of the time the only reason you need to rearguard action is because this army you have to hold off for your buddies was so strong your buddies had to leave so these things that are also called phased withdrawals are sort of the number one tactical
Starting point is 01:45:25 maneuver you'll see done by the allies in both these areas malaya and the philippines and it will be the japanese tanks in malaya that will allow them to burst through these attempts to hold some kind of line over and over again and and they do it often at night the japanese like to fight at night it's a wonderful equalizer they do it on land they do it at sea they are probably until the really good radar starts showing up to the americans in the mid 1940s changing the game a little bit they're probably the navy you least want to face in a night encounter very well trained very good at night uh it's very scary to fight at night because all of the normal panic and scariness and uncertainty that plagues a daytime well lit battlefield
Starting point is 01:46:11 gets much worse at night the japanese also probably the um i would say i would say of all the armies that fought in the second world war major forces right states uh the japanese are the most enamored and like hand-to-hand combat the most you can find individual groups gherkas which are a special elite force in the british empire army for example they like hand-to-hand combat too but it's not like one of the major players in the war an axis power the japanese will engage and look forward to and keep hand-to-hand combat is something in their tool belt in a much more you know upfront fashion i mean we're talking about generals and officers who go into battle carrying samurai swords so there's a there's a little bit of a throwback ethos involved
Starting point is 01:46:56 but by this era when people don't do that very often there's a psychological effect i don't know that i could put a finger on what the effect is but there are some great books written from a psychological perspective often by military mental health professionals talking about the effect of killing in combat and one of the theories is that this is heavily influenced by proximity so the farther you are away from the person you're you're killing the easier it is to do and the the less damage it does to you psyche wise you can shell them from miles away with artillery for example or drop bombs from 10 000 feet and it's one thing having to shoot them in the face from 50 yards away is another thing having to use a bayonet on them or strangle them at
Starting point is 01:47:39 close range is a is a different thing altogether and the combination of the japanese penchant for both night attacks and hand-to-hand combat is one of those unique not unique because you could run into this in any front of the war but you had the best chance of running into it in a place like the pacific and some of these nighttime encounters that us troops for example would deal with in these foxholes in these pitch black you know areas around the islands where they were separated from the other foxholes and the japanese would launch a night attack and dive into these foxholes with bayonets it is like a horror movie the other thing that will work well in malaya besides the surprise attacks and we should also point out because we would be remiss if we did not
Starting point is 01:48:20 the fantastic generals on the japanese side at this point they certainly have a lead in that especially on malaya uh that's that's general yamashita and he's awesome and you have hama in the philippines and he's great too he makes you know a few blunders but then again the guy on the other side is general douglas macarthur and he makes a few blunders too the real killer though in uh in a place like malaya and the philippines is the japanese ability to outflank they do it on land by running into the jungle anytime they're held up by an allied roadblock and infiltrating around and and threatening to surround allied forces so then the allied forces have to pull back to avoid being surrounded so that means your line is moving back and all the work you did to
Starting point is 01:49:03 prepare it and get it ready is wasted because now you have to pull back to the next line of defense but what really kills them is by not controlling the sea the japanese are able to use and it sounds like an improvisation there's a couple of things they do that sound now like improvisation which when i was growing up it was assumed was all part of the plan and i've heard hybrid theories where it's a little of both the japanese will like take everybody's bicycles that they find in malaya or bring them with them again that's the old theory and start riding down the the few main roads in malaya making great progress they can even go down some of the jungle paths on those things they will also pick up every little fishing boat or skiff or landing craft or anything they can get
Starting point is 01:49:41 their hands on tied up at a docker or pulled up on the beach throw as many soldiers as they can turn 2030 into this fishing boat and just take a little joy ride down the coast a few miles and then disembark them behind allied lines maybe at night causing crazy chaos and remember the conditions here make that more likely it's not just a question of the nighttime stuff the terrain plays a factor it's hard to see things in jungles these mountains are in the way the rain is incredible and i have not brought that up enough because it plays a huge role in everything from obscuring sight the japanese tanks could be on you at night in the driving rain to making the morale of the troops just sag more we have to remember these soldiers in malaya and the philippines are rarely
Starting point is 01:50:25 undercover this rain is torrential and can go on for days imagine fighting rearguard action after rearguard action losing your buddies never getting a chance to rest by the time you finally stop instead of resting you have to build defenses as quickly as you can which should have been built before the war but that's one of the screw-ups or acid tests of combat so there you are just dying and it would be awful if it were 72 degrees and wonderful shirt sleeve whether instead you've been out in the rain for two or three days you can see why the people began to fall apart in malaya they fall apart from exhaustion and unlike the philippines the british can get some reinforcements into malaya they can't spare troops anywhere because they're fighting in a bunch of places
Starting point is 01:51:08 but the reinforcements will come in in dribs and drabs a little at a time and instead of allowing them to get acclimated to the climate to wait till the next ship with all their stuff arrives to form a nice mobile reserve that we can then throw in at the key moment to turn the tide of battle they get thrown into the meat grinder as they arrive as quickly as possible and what that does is just wear them out and and make them exhausted too so by the time you know the japanese are pushing down towards singapore and the allies are pulling back towards singapore the allied armies outnumber the japanese but there is shadow of their former self they can't fight anymore without some rest and some refitting and some restoration some help somebody to hold the line while they
Starting point is 01:51:52 wreck i mean it's well church will put it best i think when he talked about the campaign a little bit and uh has one of those lines that's echoed down into history that's you know you can love him or hate him but the guy had a way with words and he was talking about the situation i mean how does a smaller force beat a larger force this is what church will writes and when he uses the word cause way by the way it's sort of like a a bridge but it's a little bit more substantial than that connecting singapore to the mainland and he writes quote the japanese mastery of the air arising as has been described from our bitter needs elsewhere and for which the local commanders were in no way responsible was another deadly fact in the result the main fighting strength of such
Starting point is 01:52:37 an army as we had assigned to the defense of singapore and almost all the reinforcements sent after the japanese declaration of war were used up in gallant fighting on the peninsula and when these had crossed the causeway to what should have been their supreme battleground their punch was gone here they rejoined the local garrison and the masses of base details which swelled our numbers though not our strength he's talking about what some have called the useless mouths the civilians who require food but don't really help much in the defense he continues they remained the two fresh brigades of the 18th british division newly landed from their ships in strange and unimagined surroundings after their long voyage the army which could fight the decisive struggle for singapore
Starting point is 01:53:25 and had been provided for that supreme objective in this theater was dissipated before the japanese attack began it might be a hundred thousand men but it was an army no more end quote once again the many many mistakes that have been focused on during this whole affair i mean you could do hours and hours just on each one and examining the pros and cons uh one of the more interesting aspects of winston churchel's books about this and uh you need the unabridged version if you really want to see what's going on because part of it remember is a defense of himself and he includes it's a very self-serving defense because if there's any place you know in this war and there's a couple where this guy really would seem like the obvious person to blame for some failure
Starting point is 01:54:13 but this is it he even says you know and writes in the book that if if singapore were to fall if malaya were to fall it'd be this giant scandal well who's in charge of the country as the prime minister well there you go and he even falls on his sword at one point in one of these humble moments where he says i should have known i should have asked my staff should have known my staff should have asked there's no excuse and then he proceeds to give an excuse which is interesting remember the adjective attached to this fortress city of singapore you know the Gibraltar of the east right it's a fortress city and churchel says in my defense i basically didn't think to ask whether something called a fortress had defenses he said i would no sooner ask if a battleship
Starting point is 01:54:57 that you had just launched had a bottom so why were there no defenses it's complicated some of it was part of a particular branch of the military theories right at the pre-war you saw it in the first world war two this idea that defenses are bad for morale troops get accustomed to the safety of living behind trench walls or fortifications or whatever then you need them to go on the aggressive they're soft another reason some of the generals in malaya said that they didn't want defenses they thought it was bad for the morale of the civilians that the troops were protecting there's a lot of reasons problem is is that if you turn out to be wrong about that if the acid test of combat proves that it would be very nice to have some defenses
Starting point is 01:55:37 and they're not there once again who gets screwed in that situation and the allied troops will be forever trying to build ad hoc defenses in pouring rain as quickly as they can five minutes after escaping combat with the japanese still on the way you know often at night these soldiers were going to fight an entire campaign against the japanese with the chances so stacked against them that you look at this the same way the marines on wake situation looked like a sort of inevitable amount of suffering that has to be born because the alternative is incomprehensible and i should point out what's interesting is if you actually like delve into each of these situations you'll find that in in almost every case the soldiers on the ground believed that
Starting point is 01:56:23 there was some light at the end of the tunnel or some rescue operation or some some alternative to suicide they had a ray of hope in each one of these situations and oftentimes modern authors and some modern historians will be very harsh in the condemnation of the people that gave them the false hope for example i have a book on the defense of the philippines and the author is scathing against president roosevelt for continually again a roosevelt fan would argue this but continually seeming to give the people defending the philippines the americans and the philippinos false hope that help was on the way and don't worry you just hold out we'll get when they knew that there was nothing of the sort happening i would chalk that up to just one more tragedy the
Starting point is 01:57:05 average soldier on the ground has to deal with for some sort of we would hope big picture aspect that aids the war effort helps the cause and shortens the conflict and we'll try not to go into the cynical territory where we think it might be to cover people's rear ends to deflect blame into a different direction or to get a bunch of doomed people to fight on longer and suffer more because there's some other positive element down the road that this provides a lot of these soldiers i should point out are fighting for time if for no other reason than they're involved in these many rearguard actions and they're fighting so that the rest of the force that they're a part of can get away retreat a few more miles set up a new defense line and try again
Starting point is 01:57:56 and if you read the accounts from allied soldiers during this phase and the war really in the entire pacific war when you're dealing with land warfare stuff on the ground this is a different kind of war in the pacific and it's different because of the japanese and they do things differently and that prompts different sort of responses from their opponents each of the major theaters in this war have a sort of a different vibe if you wanted to say that any theater had a sort of a gentleman's approach to war then that would be something like the western front maybe you could say north africa where you had the british and germans mainly facing off there could be bad incidents between the two don't get me wrong same thing with the americans and the germans i mean
Starting point is 01:58:35 the malmendi massacre anyone during the battle of the bulge i mean it happened but by and large you had a pretty good chance of surviving the war if you fell you know into the enemy's prison camps or they fell into yours the germans would treat the soviets and vice versa very differently on the eastern front you had your malmendi massacres regularly so different sort of vibe over on the eastern front where you had this ideological war of annihilation throw in the racial superiority jewish thing anti commissar thing and i mean he was just set up for extreme state sponsored nastiness the stuff the japanese were doing had a flavor all its own this wasn't state sponsored anything it was a sort of a weirdness that people have been trying to explain japanese people
Starting point is 01:59:20 especially ever since because it didn't make any sort of a logical sense for example you will get incidents where the japanese general in malaya yamashita will find out that his troops did some of the things that the japanese are routinely accused of doing the rapes the killings the you know all the things things will get into more in a minute by the way and he would be appalled and he would punish them and he had specifically ordered that this stuff not happen matter of fact he was executed after the war for some of this stuff but it was really other generals and people who disagreed with that sort of an attitude that could have their troops just run wild either through just benign neglect or outright hostility and cold-bloodedness in other words it was a sort of
Starting point is 02:00:03 a spotty track record that the commanders in japan would have and you could have troops that are well behaved under a vigilant commander and other troops that are poorly behaved under another one and of course listen it doesn't take a whole lot of spotty commanders for a lot of troops to be acting out of line in a lot of places which is what you have by the way again in hong kong the japanese will come in and do something that will become um a little bit of a trademark for them in this early part of the war they will walk into one of these it's a college that is uh being used as a hospital behind the front lines in hong kong right before the city surrenders on christmas 1941 and the japanese troops will start going up to uh injured soldiers lying in their cots and
Starting point is 02:00:48 bayonetting them nurses get raped other people i mean this becomes one of the many occasions where you will find super patriots as you can find in every country right who will try to say that this is propaganda this is contrived that's been disproven i mean i guess i'm perfectly willing to listen to stories of all that kind of stuff because i'm very cynical myself about wartime propaganda and all that kind of stuff the problem is is in some situations the preponderance of evidence becomes overwhelming even with admissions from the very people who did this on the japanese side too so i think this falls you know into a similar place with the holocaust and the number of other things which just it wouldn't matter if you could disprove this aspect or that occasion
Starting point is 02:01:32 the preponderance of the evidence is overwhelming and um graphic and unbelievable to these allied peoples in some respects and it takes a while to adjust and the adjustments are what creates this war without mercy it's not hard by the way to make a pretty good case that these sorts of incidents of atrocious conduct really hurt the japanese and it hurt them on a macro level and a micro level and there are influential thinkers and military leaders who saw this at the time as well but on a macro level remember there's something the japanese empire is selling here and while it's tempting to think of things like propaganda and global marketing as fluff and window dressing let's realize that the thing that Churchill is most scared of is people like the indians buying
Starting point is 02:02:30 into the fluff and window dressing in other words if you think about it the japanese war aims are so audaciously expansive that it's almost impossible to imagine them ever coming true but one of the small little paths towards attaining that goal would be for you know the millions and millions and millions of people that this marketing strategy is aimed towards to buy into it and these sorts of atrocious incidents don't reflect well on the brand do they and let's recall it's not a brand that is without tarnish already because they have all those incidents in china going back to at least the early 1930s then you get these newly liberated peoples you know you the the malayans who the japanese sort of free as they're driving the imperial british forces backwards the filipinos
Starting point is 02:03:25 who don't even realize they need freeing in some cases from the americans being freed and they get a chance to see forget the marketing message they get a chance to see what it's going to be like to live under this new leadership and as we said i think at the last segment it's a little like for a lot of these people you know getting out of the frying pan and thrown into the fire it's going to be really rough in a lot of these places i mean they're the stories from the filipines are classic but i mean classic and horrible obviously but i mean people who get their heads chopped off in the streets by japanese officers wielding samurai swords for not bowing low enough the comfort women the women from some of these localities who are co-opted coerced forced
Starting point is 02:04:12 into prostitution to serve the japanese army i mean these are the kind of things that are the reality of living in this east asia co-prosperity sphere so maybe a lot of people that you know Winston Churchill was worried might throw off the yoke of british oppression are going to try to find a third sort of option rather than adopt the cloak of japanese oppression so on the macro level really really makes the job of the japanese soldiers in the field fighting for this sort of goal harder and by the way a lot of them really believe in the goal and then on the micro level it's really hard on the soldiers themselves and i keep trying to figure out you know how many people in an army have to act a certain way right commit atrocities for example before you can make a justifiable
Starting point is 02:05:01 case that everybody in the other army deserves to be punished for it you'd like to think hey one bad apple commits an atrocity so hopefully that guy gets what's coming to him but we all know that in warfare and in combat since k let's just say caveman times i'm going to assume this idea that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction definitely applies and so you don't have to have too many american soldiers or filipino soldiers or imperial british soldiers from india or the highlands of scotland or canada or australia or a indigenous local malay person fighting for the british you don't have to have too many of those people chopped into pieces and positioned grotesquely and put at a road junction to make sure that the people on their
Starting point is 02:05:50 side see that you don't have to have too many of those stories circulating via the scuttle butt between soldiers to decide that every one of these japanese deserves to be treated like they did it themselves personally now before we think that this is just something that happens in every war everywhere it didn't now the russian front which we all consider if we know anything about it right to be a particularly nasty place you would see people um disfigured and mutilated but in a place like north africa the two sides i mean there's italians there too and the british might bury an italian or a german foe on the battlefield with honors that they might do the same for someone on the other side almost a gentlemanly kind of thing going on a very christian
Starting point is 02:06:37 sort of way to act one's enemy of course the more standard thing would be to just leave them where they lay in the field but rarely did you have people mutilating each other right it wasn't that kind of war but it was in the pacific and it was because one side liked to do it um and you wonder you know you think to yourself what did they gain from all this maybe in some ancient time it was considered intimidating i know that the vietnamans used to do that when they were fighting the french and indochina after this period it's maybe in an indigenous way to say screw you and this is what's going to happen to all of you and maybe you get a psychological edge or an intimidation factor involved in that but in this case it really backfired there was a terrible boomerang effect
Starting point is 02:07:13 that just made allied troops often think that these were not people deserving of any mercy what's more you have the other problem involved and this is connected to the other side of the japanese character that just kills the average japanese soldier in this period it's the fanatical question i think we said when we started this story that there was a different way that the ally propaganda sort of and this is after the war to sort of portrayed the germans and the japanese they portrayed them both in kind of a robotic sense right that they fought for the leader robotically that they were machines but the german machines were cold and logical the japanese were also portrayed as machines but they were like unstoppable and fanatical and and they would
Starting point is 02:07:55 fight to the last fingertip was destroyed and the finger would come chasing you it was that kind of a sort of thing and that led to the other problem which is the the atrocities sort of are a hot blood thing where people act because they feel angry and they they want the revenge and you cut up our people so we're gonna you know we're gonna mistreat your corpses but the cold blooded side of this were a logical person who never wanted to commit an atrocity in his life just operating with common sense just wants his unit you know to get back home wants to see the guys under his command get back to their loved ones in the pacific because of japanese conduct and the way that they acted and part of the fanaticism that probably one could make a case is a part of their soul that
Starting point is 02:08:38 led them to being a people that sort of punched above their weight class historically speaking that never say die the last finger of the robot that's going to keep chasing you that's what's going to do him a lot of japanese soldiers to simply being liquidated on the battlefield and the reason why is because they were seen as extremely dangerous even wounded even while surrendering even while seemingly dead the japanese would come back to life and kill you on the battlefield don't believe me it's one of the wonderful perverse i mean the the war is so interesting but it's also darkly interesting but i mean the first hand accounts are everywhere long lasting and they will be a part of this story until an atomic bomb begins to end this story
Starting point is 02:09:22 but in singapore burning author collin smith has a lot of these first hand stories and um he describes it he didn't say a lazarus moment but he said everyone sort of had their own personal lazarus and what he was talking about was remember this is the first time in malaya in the philippines in these places where the anglo-american troops are clashing with japanese forces so they're learning a lot quickly right what's true what's false uh they they are every bit as fanatical as portrayed that robotic finger will chase you down the street or the equivalent but you can't take chances with them not only will they come after you until totally destroyed sometimes they will try all the little tricks you know wait till you come up to check on them and then whip
Starting point is 02:10:02 out a grenade and blow you and a couple of buddies and themselves up and while this is not behavior that's inhuman and not seen anywhere else it's rare elsewhere it's like we said about the kamikaze you can see people suicidally fly planes into structures or troops or ships or whatever you can see it in other armies it's just really rare and unusual the japanese do it well comparatively you would call it regularly on the russian front you could see a russian who knows he's wounded badly wait till the germans come to check on him and then blow himself and a bunch of germans up that sort of stuff happened but the japanese did it so often that the allies stopped taking chances with him uh in his book singapore burning smith has a story from an australian fighting in this
Starting point is 02:10:45 whole malayan situation being pushed back towards singapore his name is patrick reynolds and he talks about his you know sort of lazarus moment um and i've got to say when you read accounts of the pacific war in no other theater in the second world war does it sound so much like movie combat like it doesn't even sound real like what rocky is to boxing because you go to the other fronts and you're like wow this is a lot more mechanized and the distances are really great and all the the pacific war is a little like vietnam sometimes depending on where you are because it's not all jungle but where it is jungle and overgrowth it's like vietnam was in the sense that the war is often fought in a very small perimeter of a clearing or whatever you can see
Starting point is 02:11:27 because everything else is blocked off by the jungle canopy or vegetation or everything else so everything is right around you it gives a very claustrophobic very isolated sort of feel to it and the stories just sound like you're right up close with the the other side i mean it's very movie one guy against one guy or two guys against one guy lots of stabbing lots of edged weapons it's really quite nasty um and smith quotes lieutenant patrick reynolds in the malay campaign you know fighting down towards singapore quote the section on my right was again pinned down by automatic fire lying amongst a heap of about 15 apparently dead jabs i was signaling to the other section when suddenly one of the corpses came to life holding a grenade in his right hand and raising
Starting point is 02:12:18 himself from the ground with his left i shot at him the grenade exploded simultaneously and half his head was blown off two pieces of the grenade hit me one under the right arm and one on the other side of my head end quote smith has another story of a sergeant desmond mulki he and he talks about his particular lazarus meaning his learning moment the learning curve when he realized that just because these japanese look dead doesn't mean they won't come back to life unexpectedly and smith writes quote sergeant desmond mulki his particular lazarus was a fallen sergeant of the canoe guards he was about to search him for the letters and unit identification beloved by the battalion intelligence officers when the dead man sprang
Starting point is 02:13:09 indignantly to his feet with a grenade in his right fist mulki he grabbed his left hand to stop him pulling the pin this was good thinking but it allowed his opponent to bludgeon him about the head with his grenade while he did his best to fend him off with left jabs mulki he shouted for help and while he was holding the man's arms the guards nco so far from the pomp and circumstance which had molded his military career was first bayoneted and then shot end quote smith then points out that there was another case where um somebody ended up dead on the japanese side when maybe they didn't need to and that this is signaling part of the learning curve and how they're going to start to deal with these unpredictable fanatical people the ones whose robotic finger
Starting point is 02:13:57 will keep coming at you even when you think you destroyed that whole thing and he writes quote there appears to be no good reason why this particular japanese could not have been restrained and captured but it seems that it rapidly became the norm as it did almost everywhere the imperial japanese army ever met western troops to regard almost any attempt to take them alive as much too risky end quote now quoting a 16 yes 16 year old soldier fighting for the british empire quote from that first engagement we learn not to trust their wounded end quote smith had an interesting line though he pointed out that the majority of japanese playing dead were probably playing dead for the same reason anybody's soldiers would play dead in that situation
Starting point is 02:14:48 hoping to be overlooked by the enemy and maybe they'd be left alone and could get away but some of these people clearly didn't and as i said you could see that on any front in the war just not as regularly as you saw it here what percentage of the japanese had to act this way for every japanese potential pow to get the same treatment just in case not fooling around and there's video i have to say one of the most shocking things i ever saw because i definitely grew up in the era where our side was was the unequivocally good side and the other side was the unequivocally bad side and there was not much gray area until i got to the maybe the 1980s and i saw a piece of film footage and it was part of a british documentary and you could not get it in the united states at the time
Starting point is 02:15:33 it was actually something that i believe was released relatively recently and eventually some of that footage made it into american documentaries but because you hadn't seen it in the us i who had seen all the footage over and over a thousand times the black and white stuff you know all the history everything you could ever see i'd never seen this stuff and i was transfixed and i was transfixed for two reasons one it was late war stuff so it was in color which of course makes it all seem so much more real the second reason why is it showed the stuff that would never have made it on the official war footage that the u.s government would have approved and released even after the war it showed things like the possum patrol which one veteran
Starting point is 02:16:10 described as the the point where they would rush out onto the battlefield after the fighting had ceased before the officers could stop them and kill all the wounded japanese i was struck i remember by this american soldier he was killing these grievously wounded japanese soldiers by shooting them in the head with a pistol and he had a corn cob pipe that he was smoking in his mouth while he did this over and over again and i just i was struck by and reminded of the very nonchalant nature of these soldiers who killed every day and had and was just was just killing day i mean it was it was a reminder that when you say war without mercy it's one thing when you see it it's another and when you see your own side doing it and you realize of course they can still
Starting point is 02:16:56 be the good guys in this war and have to do terrible things in order to fight it what do you think war is right well sometimes it can be gentlemanly in both sides can treat the other with respect and bury their dead and and notify the other side of the of the death so that their families can be told you saw this in the first world war for example and sometimes you kill the wounded kill the prisoners and uh just tell the people back at you know base command that once again those fanatical japanese refused to surrender and died to the last man hard not to see it as a tragedy for the poor average japanese kid who ended up in the army at this time fighting this war in this place but for every action there's an equal and opposite reaction and it's hard not to notice
Starting point is 02:17:46 that the japanese were in this particular case reaping what they sowed of course where we are in the story right now the japanese are doing a lot more sowing and it's the allies that are doing the reaping this is one of the times in the story too when there seems to be a particular spike in atrocities in the story and there are two kinds the kind that you could see the allied troops engaging in as well and the kinds you can't so for example the last battle of consequence during the malayan campaign right this japanese drive down the malayan peninsula which by the way by the time they reach singapore uh end of january they will have fought and advanced 600 miles in seven weeks against one of the armies with the highest reputations in military history
Starting point is 02:18:36 and i think it's fair to say it's very fair to say this is not the first string team if we're talking about this like a college football game this may be alabama but this isn't the first string but they're still wearing the uniforms as we said the first string is probably in north africa right now fighting the desert fox urwin rommel but in this last battle of consequence in the malayan campaign mid january uh some australians and indian troops ambush a japanese column on a bridge knock out a bunch of tanks inflict like 500 to a thousand casualties get what i think is a pretty fair to say is a tactical victory at a time when they're already strategically defeated and at this point the allied troops aren't fighting with one hand tied behind their back
Starting point is 02:19:19 they're fighting with both hands tied behind their back and the the australians and indian troops will get outflanked and infiltrated you know the the typical routine that all the allies get in this time period have to retreat back and at a certain point during the retreat the japanese will get their hands on more than a hundred australian and indian wounded had to be left behind by trapped troops and they will butcher them now as we said later in the war you might see allied troops do this depends but you might that's part of that tit for tat thing we were just talking about it's the other kind of atrocities the japanese engage in that are relatively inexplicable and that allied troops would never engage in certainly not on any large scale a perfect
Starting point is 02:20:03 example of it will happen in february there will be an attempt by some people to get away from singapore and a ship will be sunk by the japanese the survivors will make it to shore and the japanese military there will kill the survivors now they were like i think a number like 50 or 60 troops british troops and friends but there were also more than 20 australian nurses i mean these are girls in their 20s that it appears were raped and then forced to walk out into the surf and when they got to waist level were machine gunned these are the kind of things that allied troops did not do this is a different level of atrocity and it's the part that makes again you know when if you think human beings are an interesting species the questions related to why and how
Starting point is 02:20:57 do these things happen and why do they happen when and where they do is a fascinating study and it should be emphasized that obviously this is something we've seen i mean they find the mass graves of people this has happened to in prehistory but each situation seems to be colored by the specifics and in this case this has something to do with the japanese military especially the japanese military of this period what's going on well it can make a lot of people hate you but this is not stuff that anybody's broadcasting we should point out the japanese public certainly knows nothing about this the other thing we should mention is that with all these atrocities sometimes these stories don't come out till after the war sometimes they come out in dribs and drabs
Starting point is 02:21:45 certainly no one like a biblical era ruler is broadcasting this right well we massacred we raped and massacred a whole bunch of nurses in that last town that we took and beware we're coming for you i mean it ain't that kind of deal in fact the denials continue to this day so a lot of this stuff comes out in war crimes trials later and obviously by their very nature these things do not lend themselves to witnesses because the perpetrators are always hoping to kill all the witnesses it does sort of lay out the stakes a little bit for the people that might fall into japanese hands and enough of the scuttle but will will be making it through the general public that they will do things in malaya and singapore like make sure that all the alcohol is destroyed
Starting point is 02:22:29 if it's in the path of where the japanese army is going to march through you know just you don't want to take any chances that the commanders of those troops are trying to keep them in line the last thing you want to have happiness for them to stumble on a bunch of alcohol too just maybe a little maybe pushes them over the edge if they need to be pushed over the edge after that last encounter uh in mid january late january uh the allies are forced over the cause way you know the big bridge that separates singapore from the mainland of malaya the fortress of singapore the allies blow the cause way and there they are now basically besieged of their own choice in singapore which is a 270 square mile place uh you think about los angeles greater
Starting point is 02:23:12 area of los angeles it's like half that got a million people basically there and about 85 000 soldiers the japanese army that's going to come right up to the edge of the of the moat that separates uh singapore from the mainland has like 30 to 35 000 troops i don't have to tell you and you don't have to be a math major to know that's like a third of what they're facing uh maybe a little less than a third but the british empire when they do get defeated especially a guy like churchill who remembers the much uh you know should we call it kiplingized uh history of victorian british colonial conquest when when the british are defeated that's it's it's dozens of plucky englishmen that are overrun after killing you know thousands of the tens of thousands that of zulus
Starting point is 02:23:59 or dervishes or tribesmen in afghanistan whatever it might be it's a total flip of the script here to have the uh non european forces be the ones that are badly outnumbered and yet have the imperial forces on the run it's embarrassing and more than that the optics for the british empire could be deadly this forces churchill into all kinds of interesting decisions of the sort that are fascinating reading today but have to make you if you have any empathy in you at all have to make you glad that you don't have the the soul crushing decision-making responsibility that people like churchill have in in this situation not that he makes the right choice at all but think about what the choice is at the beginning of january winston churchill still seems to be operating
Starting point is 02:24:47 under the idea because he's led to believe this that the fortress of singapore is going to be this great defensive bastion that no matter what happens in malaya will hold out be a thorn in the side of the japanese empire be this place they could rally and and form a counterattack i mean we will still be the the lynchpin of the defense of the entire region and by the end of january churchill because again what he's been told by people in the scene now believes that no matter how many troops are thrown into singapore it's basically indefensible you can't stop it from falling so what do you do the first of the two hard choices for churchill concerns what you do once you connect the dots and decide singapore can't be held now there are shall we call them the ultimate monday morning
Starting point is 02:25:34 quarterbacks today who will point out that knowing what we know now singapore could have been held the japanese rim precarious supply situations there'll be a lot of things thrown out there but remember there's this thing called the fog of war which is connected to what commanders on the ground know and oftentimes they can be bluffed and that's this is a well known i mean yamashita was bluffing and hoping that the enemy wouldn't know his weaknesses but that's a pretty traditional thing churchill was getting information from the people on the ground that singapore couldn't be held so do you send more reinforcements there because reinforcements are on the way already churchill points out that there are places like berma where these reinforcements could mean the difference
Starting point is 02:26:18 between saving or losing berma and he says if we make the wrong choice here we could end up losing both but understand something the british have not publicly written off the people in singapore the million civilians the 85 000 soldiers so if you divert reinforcements from there what are you saying to them what's more while churchills having these meetings that are supposed to be pretty closed doors sometimes they're not as closed door as everyone hopes and somehow the australian prime minister gets word that churchills considering this with his staff and talking about it and writes a letter that church will publish is in his works basically saying after all we've done for you you would run an abandoned singapore which we've you know because
Starting point is 02:27:03 of your assurances made a lynchpin of our defense strategy too and our troops are way off fighting for you in north african places like that and the ally cause and the 17 000 or so that are here close by are in singapore now and you're telling me they're trapped there and you're not i mean the the optics at this become a problem how many people are you willing to sacrifice for optics though so churchill has to debate these questions and eventually he will decide that it's more important to send troops to the island even if you're just adding to the number of prisoners the japanese will eventually get to take there's another question and this has to do with how hard everybody has to resist on this island and churchill i think it's fair to say
Starting point is 02:27:47 that he goes from from from being pretty sure of things in the beginning of january to right around it's the 19th and the 20th of january 1942 when the the light bulb goes on and he almost has my opinion only but he almost looks like he panics a little bit or freaks out about the situation and decides that because he even says this because the russians are fighting so fiercely against the spearheads of elite german divisions you know for their life in moscow and putting a pretty darn good account of themselves and the americans are resisting stubbornly in the philippines it would look terrible if we didn't resist well too churchill issues commands i mean he's the prime minister on multiple occasions the first one that i see is on pretty much the 19th where he tells the people
Starting point is 02:28:28 in singapore that you've got to fight to the death and as time goes on basically looks like he wants this to be berlin in 1945 and every strong point is going to be destroyed individually officers will die with their man and the ruins of singapore will be our tomb kind of thing for example on january 19th 1942 and this is right when he becomes aware that this is an issue he will issue a bunch of different orders to the commander on the scene listed a through j i believe the the list and starting with point h and this is by the way this is a churchill to general is may point h says and continuing quote the entire male population meaning of singapore should be employed upon constructing defense works the most rigorous compulsion is to be used up to the limit where
Starting point is 02:29:21 picks and shovels are available not only must the defense of singapore island be maintained by every means but the whole island must be fought for until every single unit and every single strong point has been separately destroyed finally he writes the city of singapore must be converted into a citadel and defended to the death no surrender can be contemplated end quote so you have here a place that he's now believing is indefensible right you have no options of winning but you have to lose like this for depends on what you want to label it optics or pride or honor and before we dismiss this stuff as you know window dressing that's not worth the lives of real people let's realize that you know you're only a couple of dominoes tumbling before those seemingly
Starting point is 02:30:15 amorphous hard to quantify words actually equals real people and think how much the prestige of the british empire forms one of the pillars that holds it up and what if something like that is badly damaged if people in india were to for example revolt the india is a little like china in the sense that whenever there's an upheaval it ends up costing a lot of lives because there's a lot of people it would also cost a war effort where the british had to then send forces to india to quell problems and maintain i mean it may sound like a non real thing the pride and the honor and the prestige of the british empire but believe me everything in the middle of this war is going to devolve to the same thing at the lowest common denominator and that's going to be life and death
Starting point is 02:31:03 and church who wants these people to put a good showing because it will help cement you know the british pride and honor and he basically says that openly when on february 10th when things are much much worse and the situation in singapore has changed dramatically churchill is still of the opinion that there has to be a god of dameron here he writes a letter to general wavel who is the overall commander in the theater and says quote i think you ought to realize the way we view the situation in singapore it was reported to the cabinet by cigs that persoval meaning general persoval in singapore has over a hundred thousand men of whom 33 000 are british and 17 000 australian it is doubtful whether the japanese have as many in the whole malay peninsula namely five divisions
Starting point is 02:31:56 forward and the sixth coming up in these circumstances he writes the defenders must greatly outnumbered japanese forces who have crossed the straits and in a well contested battle they should destroy them there must at this stage be no thought of saving the troops or sparing the population the battle must be fought to the bitter end at all costs the 18th division has a chance to make its name in history commanders and senior officers should die with their troops the honor of the british empire and of the british army is at stake i rely on you to show no mercy to weakness in any form with the russians fighting as they are and the americans so stubborn at luzan the whole reputation of our country and our race is involved it is expected that every unit will be brought into
Starting point is 02:32:45 close contact with the enemy and fight it out end quote when that particular order i should say reaches wavel wavel adds some more things to it mentioning hey and the chinese have been fighting for four years against these people so adds a little bit more hands the order down to general persoval and command at the scene persoval adds a little almost chastisement which you can see in churchell's writing too a little bit of like hey you outnumber the enemy and then persoval hands this note to his underlings who are supposed to distribute the message to the troops and i was reading i think it was in the battle for singapore peter thompson's book where he says a bunch of these commanders simply ripped up the order and most never told them what the commanders were
Starting point is 02:33:24 saying because they knew that the troops on the ground were being treated as though they were you know top notch ready to go right off the parade grounds but also veterans instead of these people who have been fighting in these horrible conditions over and over since the japanese landed on malaya december 8th i mean a bunch of people who've already who are exhausted and they're being chastised for not putting up a good enough fight when we've ordered you to die to the death because it doesn't look good i think if you were on the ground and you were one of these soldiers you might be a little bit bitter at a bunch of people that basically inferred you haven't fought well enough when you've been fighting with both hands tied behind your back now for weeks because
Starting point is 02:34:07 on the last day of january as we said the causeway is blown up singapore is cut off you have a moat separating the 30 to 35 000 japanese troops from the 85 000 imperial troops in singapore with the million civilians in singapore and in a phase of this war where we've pointed out over and over there's a ton of finger pointing we know who's responsible for pearl harbor who's responsible for this and that this is the finger pointingest moment of all where the hell are the defenses in singapore the fortress city if this fortress singapore idea is like a marketing scam winston churchill kind of portrays himself as the most prominent person to buy deeply into the hype and if we take him at his word um and he was thinking of maybe what defenses were like in
Starting point is 02:34:58 places that had good defenses ineffective though they may have been from this time period you think of the majinot line in france you think of the check defenses that's so unnerved hitler before he was able to get them through negotiation instead and intimidation if that were the case on singapore might have been a really hard nut to crack but of course as churchill points out he found out several things all at once he found out those big guns that everybody counts on to be so formidable and disrupt anything really are meant to be used against naval targets we used to be taught that they couldn't spin around to hit anything on land but apparently that's not true at all the problem has to do more with the fact that they have a lot of armor piercing shells and not a lot of high
Starting point is 02:35:43 explosive ones and those big armor piercing shells just bury themselves in the jungle or the earth they don't do much damage and because these are naval guns the trajectory is pretty flat on these things which makes them useless in a counter battery role and what that means is when the japanese pull up their artillery to shell singapore they're going to have these howitzers and things that lob shells you know in a high arc they can be behind forests or hills or whatever those flat trajectory guns can't hit them so if you have nothing to stop the japanese from pulling their artillery close up and bombarding singapore singapore's in big trouble then there is the land word stuff this boils down though to the reason we spent so much time on these pre-war
Starting point is 02:36:28 planners who underestimated japanese capabilities because when the japanese prove that they can do things that the pre-war planners didn't think they could do the defenses that singapore was relying on are completely inadequate truth be told most armies could not launch an amphibious assault across the straits of jihor under fire successfully and if you're a military planner in 1939 and someone says can the japanese do that a lot of these military planners would have said are you crazy i can count the number of armies that can do that on half of one hand right but the japanese could do that and prove it on february 8th 1942 at night of course when they launch a d-day type assault under fire at night which they didn't even do at normandy and by morning have
Starting point is 02:37:12 landed 13 to 14 000 guys and have established a beachhead now they did have one of the heaviest bombardments from the japanese side of things for the entire war now the japanese were not big land artillery people especially not massed artillery but here they lobbed almost 90 000 shells against the northern coast of singapore created chaos disrupted all kinds of things and then when these japanese hit the water to cross this you know a little less than a mile in some places wide i called it a moat uh when they when they cross it they're crossing it in some places on armored troopships you know armored barges i mean talk about planning talk about capabilities there's an elegance to this that you would have expected to see only in the best armies
Starting point is 02:38:00 a coordination this is hard stuff to do and not screw up and by february 9th 1942 they are in place in the northwest part of singapore island with an established beachhead by the way the next day is when churchill writes that order we just quoted the standard die order and by then he would have known that there were japanese troops on the island the japanese assault force did not have to face the heavy defenses that everyone had thought might be there didn't have to face the bunkers didn't have to face a lot of pill boxes and and land mines and barbed wire and what they did have to face was put together rather hastily we should point out that some of these japanese troops are imperial guard forces they're considered the emperor's own samurai they are veteran troops as
Starting point is 02:38:48 well they are particularly tip of the spear type guys and from this moment on the singapore situation will degenerate to the point where it won't even be a week after churchill's you know stand and die orders that singapore will capitulate that doesn't look good a lot of people have been hammered for why this happens but if you actually get a book and read all the specifics it's murphy's law could not have intervened more and there's all kinds of things where you have no idea who to blame although different people always do take for example there's more than once where key orders are misinterpreted so who's at fault there the the high command that issued the order that was misinterpreted or the lower commanders that read the order and misinterpreted there's a bunch of
Starting point is 02:39:39 those kinds of things i mean whole units and parts of the line will pull back um incorrectly threatening the rest of the line that has to then i mean and the japanese are infiltrating like crazy and i had to think for a while what might even account for why they were so effective at this and just my own theory here and it's probably already been proposed by much smarter people but let me just throw it out there because infiltration as you military history nuts know is not a new thing the germans were doing it with stormtroopers in the last world war bunch of militaries do it in this war but infiltration essentially means sort of hiding behind things and moving up and and bypassing strong points and whatnot well if you're doing this on a
Starting point is 02:40:17 golf course it's got one level of effectiveness if you're doing it in the jungle think about how much more effective it's an amplifier to the infiltration tactics the other thing that the japanese have going for them is kind of you hate to say it's kind of cool because i mean but it's it's we talked about earlier how how the willingness to expend human lives on the part of japanese commanders gave them an arrow in their you know decision quiver their command quiver that most military leaders don't have and one of them is the willingness to allow their troops to trap themselves behind enemy lines because that's what infiltration essentially means what's the worst thing that can happen to you on a battlefield you get surrounded by the enemy right infiltrators
Starting point is 02:41:00 are deliberately moving behind enemy lines and putting themselves in a situation where they are surrounded it's dangerous in fact it's practically suicidal sometimes if i'm an american commander and you tell me you want my troops to infiltrate the way the japanese infiltrate i'm going to say are you out of your mind i'm not gonna that will doom most of those troops the japanese could live with that if the results are worth it and so they're infiltrators and they would poke the allied lines and then find an opening and boom they're through it in the back causing trouble they'll throw up star shells and flares to tell the the people on their side of the lies that they're through the japanese use of infiltration tactics on singapore island are just as effective
Starting point is 02:41:39 there as they've been throughout the whole campaign so far and the other elements of the recipe in this japanese blitzkrieg are equally successful i mean go read the primary source accounts the people on the ground are talking all the time about being pounded from the air strafed bombed just pounded all the time if you look at the first day or two on singapore island the only thing missing from the recipe that was so successful the whole way down malaya is the japanese armor and general yamashita will start ferrying that over within about 48 hours and then the japanese will get the inadequately destroyed causeway that used to separate singapore from the mainland back up and running so that now the japanese armored columns can just drive right on over
Starting point is 02:42:31 and this war will quickly move from the jungles and rubber tree areas to the suburbs and it will get kind of weird there and again this is not something americans are so aware of but i mean we're talking about sidewalks and streets and fire hydrants and front lawns and and people's two-story homes uh the sort of thing where now all of a sudden the japanese snipers hiding in the little girl's bedroom in the upper right hand you know floor from the window and sniping imperial troops that are standing in the middle of the park where the kids used to play i mean it's that kind of fighting needless to say and this is an underappreciated side of the story sometimes when we get into all the military stuff are the civilians who live there now for a while they start moving away
Starting point is 02:43:20 from the fighting i'm i had a um a guy who was in the war in bosnia he explained it this way because he was living in southern california at that time and he said it's like when you get a forest fire uh they're not forest fire they're brush fires in southern california and you see it off in the distance and there's all the smoke in the sky and you know that you know 25 minute drive from here and it's very very very heavy over there but right now life continues in this section of the city just fine but of course the fire can move as anyone in the path of one of those will tell you the war can move too and so for a while if you're a resident in the urban area of singapore the war just looks off in the distance all that smoke and of course the bombing that's
Starting point is 02:43:57 even going on near you but that smoke and that flame and that fire comes closer and the friendly lines are curling inward and the refugees are being compacted into a place where within a couple of days you have a million people crammed into like three square miles and the japanese are advancing on the reservoirs that have the water supplies and the ammunition is dwindling and this is where you get to some of the finger pointing stuff at the troops themselves there will be fingers pointed for example at australian troops which is so weird because they are some of the best troops in the war they've been some of the best troops in the entire malayan campaign but now at singapore they're going to get flagged sometimes but the fighting
Starting point is 02:44:42 is intense and when you read about the fighting and a lot of it going on at night which is extra chaotic right in city street sometimes it's just it's very difficult and you read these accounts and they sound wicked I mean heavy-duty fighting I mean take this one from um this was peter thompson's book but he quotes a soldier from the 18th division and you know they're pulling back behind roads like we pulled back behind thompson road I mean I always had the hardest time picturing these sorts of urban conflicts like the battle of berlin in 1945 always so difficult for me to get my mind around but that's what this is right people are pulling back to the intersection where you know the uh the supermarket is I mean it's that kind of thing
Starting point is 02:45:18 so in this case uh this unit that this uh first-hand account comes from had pulled back and set up a defensive position in a chinese graveyard that had a really good field of fire and he writes quote we dug trenches and that night the japanese started attacking we were in action against them continuously sometimes in hand-to-hand fighting we could see them on various hillocks in this enormous graveyard they tried intimidating tactics by screaming out or they tried to imitate us by saying they were friends and they were advancing they made a tremendous noise I had two forward platoons on little hills and on one ghastly occasion they got in amongst one of the sections in the night and bayonetted some of the men the screams and cries of anguish
Starting point is 02:46:08 were really quite terrible on another occasion I was watching out from my command post when I suddenly saw a japanese officer and about a dozen men crawling up behind one of the forward positions fortunately our machine gun battalion the north umberlin fusiliers were with us and we had a section of machine guns it was a very good target and in a very short time we had put paid to that attack end quote but I mean you do you think of like the pirates sneaking up on you with the knife between the teeth at night there's there's a particular horror to the pacific war and it's that but these troops hardly seem like they're flinching very much right why are they getting some blame some of it appears to be the difference as we said between what these
Starting point is 02:46:57 units look like on paper back at the command post which is almost always in Singapore too far away from what's going on for the commanders to really know what's going on the difference between what their maps look like these paper icons representing these units at full strength fully equipped fully highly morale you know well rested the whole thing and the troops on the ground there will come a point when the australians are accused of not fighting you know you read the commanders letters to each other the troops morale is not what it should be and the australian australian general named Bennett will sort of in an offhanded way complain to this captain that is part of one of these units that's been fighting the whole time and this is recounted in cullen smith's book
Starting point is 02:47:37 and he says quote criticism also came from a surprising quarter quote i don't think the men want to fight end quote general Bennett informed an exhausted captain frank gavin let me stop here gavin's one of these australian officers that's been fighting like the devil for weeks and now remember he's speaking as a captain to a general here uh smith continues quote gavin did not mince words now quoting gavin the men are very tired he told Bennett their rations have been irregular and inadequate they have been constantly in contact with the enemy and they feel that they have been badly let down i feel that too end quote well when you think about it there are incidents that people point to uh sometimes there's one in smith's book that involves bayonetting
Starting point is 02:48:34 that just is one of those moments that reminds you you know combat's one of those things that's sort of on a spectrum and on one end of the spectrum let's call it the ten or the one whichever however we designate it but on one end of the spectrum is the heroic combat fighting that makes up well real combat sometimes uh and then themes of soldierly conduct going back to ajax and achilles and homer and all that but i mean the schwarzen nigger still own face off you know whatever it might be uh and that stuff happens people listening to my voice now i've probably been involved in those kinds of things right that level of fighting now if you go all the way to the other side of the spectrum though and you go away from bravery and heroism and all that stuff you get
Starting point is 02:49:14 to the other aspect of combat the pathetic not ennobling dirty the thing that leaves a stain on the victims and the victimizers and one of these incidents involves the australians on singapore running to some degree now let me just defend them for a second before i go into this because when you realize that these guys had just been acting as a rearguard for the rest of their unit so they're the ones holding off the enemies so the rest of their forces can get away the enemy they're holding off happen to be elements of the japanese imperial guard and at a certain point the imperial guard elements will outnumber the australian rearguard elements and then the imperial guard whip out the bayonets in charge this is all happening i believe at night it certainly gives you the
Starting point is 02:50:05 feel of like an urban situation in terms of the terrain uh smith picks up the narrative and he got it from uh the the remembrances of a japanese corporal who was a member of the imperial guard so he wrote about this incident smith sort of translates it for us and writes quote the imperial guard having passed through the torments of uh buddhist hell is what the word means the torments of buddhist hell had their blood up and we're looking for revenge first corporal sushi kani i hope i pronounced that correctly was involved in a grenade duel with the australian rearguard in his excitement the baseball pitching skills he had acquired at senior high school almost undid him because he threw the first one much too long and was nearly killed by the pineapple variety of hand grenade that came back
Starting point is 02:50:51 and rolled within two meters of the rubber tree he had dived behind the second one he got right then they all charged with fixed bayonets some of the australians now badly outnumbered started running sushi kani chased one down pushed him to the ground and heard a quote deathly yell as he impaled him with his bayonet and then withdrew the blade the corporal noticed that others were neither running nor fighting now directly quoting the corporal quote having lost their nerve some soldiers were simply cowering in terror squatting down and avoiding the hand-to-hand combat in a wait-and-see position they too were bayonetted or shot without mercy end quote that's the pathetic side of combat where you just feel like here you have a bunch of people that are trapped in a place
Starting point is 02:51:43 in a time um and you see this over and over again and if this is considered to be the troops not giving a good account of themselves or what have you uh you want to just like this soldier that said but they feel like they've been let down you just want to flip somebody off don't you how how about you get the aircraft out of the skies and make them stop strafing us all the time and maybe we won't run so quickly when we're charged with bayonets by the imperial guard that outnumbers us i don't know within a short period of time the japanese have advanced into a position where at first they start to threaten the water supply of singapore and then they begin to capture those places and now you have a humanitarian disaster looming the letters between churchill
Starting point is 02:52:28 and the commanders locally begin to soften in terms of this everybody has to stand and die uh thing and persevere the commander in singapore will end up having to accept surrender conditions where the british are photographed carrying a white flag and surrendering i think if it's not the largest it's one of the largest number of imperial troops to a foe in the british army's history oh yeah and there's more atrocities while all this is going on i don't know how to what depth to go into the atrocities there's a famous uh another one of the hospital attacks like the one in hong kong this one we'll see uh upwards of 150 closer to maybe 200 victims and once again we have the rapes we have the bayonetting of of wounded soldiers in their cots it's awful stuff
Starting point is 02:53:20 and the 80 000 or so allied troops that have to surrender to the japanese on february 15th 1942 will be carted off into a captivity that is nightmarish by the standards of any other power you want to grade against in the second world war and needless to say that while those troops will go off and suffer uh for several years in captivity including general personable by the way off to captivity himself the citizens uh all the different ethnic groups the chinese the malaise all the people in singapore are all going to suffer under the japanese occupation there too uh there are books written some of them just in chinese that diagram on a regular basis the local homicides and rapes and mistreatment at the hands of the new colonizers
Starting point is 02:54:19 right the ones that are doing it under the banner of asia for the asians they didn't say it was going to be nice necessarily and it's not going to be churchal earlier had been embarrassed and said that you know this was a shock that we we can't perform better when the russians are doing amazing feats and dying to the last man against the germans and the americans are doing so well in the philippines at luzan well there are some differences because the luzan stuff all the philippine stuff is happening simultaneously with the stuff going on in singapore and malaya and everything but there are some key differences first of all it's the whole campaign really kicks off a little later like two weeks later troops land instantly but i think it's the 22nd 23rd or something of
Starting point is 02:55:01 december 1941 when when like 40 000 japanese troops land on the big island luzan uh where manila is and then everything gets real right away but unlike malaya where there are few or no tanks one or the other some people say few but every every place used to just say there are no tanks in malaya there are tanks in the philippines and it makes a very big difference against the japanese tanks that are landed right if only the imperial troops that had a bunch of tanks in malaya even bad ones um these aren't big monster tanks that you're going to get later in the war a lot of them are light tanks but listen you're just glad to have anything and they give good service because when the americans and the philippinos will continually get pushed back the same way
Starting point is 02:55:43 the imperial forces are right infiltration uh being outflanked amphibious outflankings the whole thing uh the tanks and other troops will be able to provide some sort of cover that allow in this case the allied troops or the americans and the philippinos to pull back and and not get rolled up momentum wise they're able to stop and consolidate for a minute which allows a more sort of vigorous and stubborn defense in malaya the the imperial forces never got a chance to to stabilize the other difference in the philippines it's going to be different is you don't have general persoval in charge of things you have douglas macarthur in charge of things and that is a very different animal well any way you slice it to go from talking about
Starting point is 02:56:34 Churchill inordinately to going and talking about macarthur like we're about to makes me feel like we're completely embracing the great man theory of history and we're just going from one great usually male figure to another dominating the historical scene at will uh standing a stride history like a colossus but you know that's an old theory i mean greeks and romans all wrote that the great man moved the world and whatnot and then there's all kinds of other theories that have cropped up since the trends and forces one right you can't have a hitler unless the conditions for example are set up correctly for one to rise and then if they are set up correctly one will rise my counterpoint to that because i happen to believe the trends and forces but i believe it
Starting point is 02:57:13 interacts with the great man theory my counterpoint is yeah but the figure that arises because of the trend and forces at the time doesn't have to be a quirky nut right you didn't say he had to be weird you just said so the time was ripe for somebody and to me that's where you put the personal stamp on the whole trends and forces thing i feel similarly with macarthur because he's a fascinating dude but his personality is actually going to impact how the whole war is fought and why things go the way they do and you turn around and go well wait a minute even if the trends and forces make it just perfectly ripe for a guy like macarthur to rise they didn't have to produce a guy like macarthur this just so we make it perfectly clear is a diva and he's a diva in the
Starting point is 02:58:02 way you know it's funny every every sort of a group of people that has a diva class amongst them whatever they may be singers actresses whatever it might be generals are another one of those types where they just produced these premedanas it was once said by somebody that i read that one of the great gifts that eisenhower had when he was the commander of allied forces in europe was that he was the one guy who could sort of mediate between a group of premedana allied generals who you know were tough to to coordinate and interact and get to work together the patents and the lung gumries and all those guys martha gellhorn who was the second world war war corresponded married to earnest hemingway for a while definitely one of the more interesting
Starting point is 02:58:48 journalistic figures in war correspondence and needless to say a very early woman on the scene and tough as nails and she went to all these places and talked to all these people and all these governments and systems and she said and i'm quoting from memory but she basically said that the politicians and the generals are the same everywhere you go doesn't matter what the political system is or anything they're just they're a type and it made me think that either the kind of people who are going to turn out or likely to turn out or most of the time turn out to be premedanas and divas in a military sense are those the kind of guys that have the drive to become generals in the first place or does it attract to those kind of people or does being a general and
Starting point is 02:59:26 all the perks that come along with that turn you into a military diva i don't know but macarthur is the best example of type you'll ever see he's a caricature of himself and he's been lampooned for his sort of type more than anybody i've ever seen him from mash to the simpsons to everybody they got the corn cob pipe smoking dark sunglasses i mean iron jaw i mean macarthur is a unique figure but he's weird i mean i have a line in the sand psychologically speaking where on the far side of that line i can't say what you have i just know you're on the far side of the line and most of us you know normal people are on this side of the line and the dividing line is people who seriously refer to themselves regularly in the third person i don't know what it means to do that but macarthur
Starting point is 03:00:17 is on the far side of that line because he does that um he's one of these people though that it's hard to i mean what makes him really interesting is not that he's weird like that but that he kind of lives up to the hype of his own imagination also i mean here's the way um historian craig l simons runs down you know a little bit of this guy's background he's sort of the golden child from the time he first appears on the military scene and simons writes quote douglas macarthur was then and remains today a lightning rod for both admirers and critics the only child of general arthur macarthur who had been awarded the medal of honor for his heroism on missionary ridge during the civil war the younger macarthur had been something of a celebrity even during his cadet
Starting point is 03:01:06 days at west point where he graduated first in the class of 1903 during the first world war he had performed brilliantly returning from the war in 1919 as a 39 year old brigadier general with two distinguished service crosses and no fewer than seven silver stars he became west point superintendent then in 1930 at the age of 50 he became the us army chief of staff and quote macarthur had a mixed reputation though amongst troops depends on who you asked like there were a bunch of troops that had a sour taste in their mouth because it was macarthur who with a an extremely forceful hand broke up some um well they became riots i guess you could say but there was a long-term protest during the hoover administration by uh people during the
Starting point is 03:01:57 depression who were veterans and who wanted their veteran bonus payments given out to them earlier than originally specified because well it was the great depression and macarthur you know these are all veterans macarthur sort of crushed this encampment the bonus marchers they were called roughly and uh and there were people that held that against him forever afterwards and and then there were people like eisenhower and it depends on what you read from eisenhower because you can find him saying good things and bad things i mean he just he thought macarthur's mind was crazy interesting and good but at the same time that the guy was over dramatic well simons continues he talks about the other side right that goes with macarthur is this glittering golden child from
Starting point is 03:02:38 you know long ago almost like born to the role from a military hero father and simons writes quote then there was the man himself in addition to his obvious intellectual gifts macarthur's personal demeanor included an all too evident self-regard that put off many of his contemporaries he seemed ever conscious of himself as a historical figure and frequently behaved even in private as if he were declaiming from a stage pacing back and forth and gesturing theatrically with his corn cob pipe he discounted even disparaged the opinions of others and saw criticism as less disagreement than treason as the historian max hastings put it now quoting hastings quote macarthur's belief that his critics were not merely wrong but evil verged on derangement
Starting point is 03:03:33 simons continues quote these characteristics repelled many of the men he had to work with including king and nimmets macarthur had an astonishing memory a deep knowledge of history and a quick and incisive mind it remained to be seen however if he also possessed the diplomatic sensitivity to orchestrate the land air and sea forces of several countries a skill so evident in his former aide dwight eisenhower end quote i personally don't think that there's any doubt that this guy had what it took to do any of these monumental things in terms of his raw talent and the polishing of the diamond that he had done since he was young this is a very accomplished very gifted person but with it comes the rest of this package and it's interesting as heck in
Starting point is 03:04:25 his great book rampage macarthur yamashita in the battle of manila author james m scott tries to tries to flesh out the macarthur figure and he quotes uh several people talking who worked with him who were talking about the the great brain right he's just brilliant man genius genius these generals are all saying uh he quotes philip law fallett who served on macarthur staff is saying quote his mind was a beautiful piece of almost perfect machinery end quote so so everybody admires this guy's brain but it's weird being alone with him and having him refer to himself in the third person scott quotes dwight eisenhower as saying about the experience quote the sensation was unusual in time i got used to it and saw it not as objectionable just odd he then goes on to say
Starting point is 03:05:14 that the word discuss or discussion is not the right word to use when you're having a discussion with macarthur it's more like a monologue and he had an interesting way of talking that in a way fleshes out the character it's like those theater folk who come off stage and they still sound like they're on stage when they talk right very dramatic using maybe archaic words uh macarthur used archaic words scott quotes a journalist trying to give you a sense of the way macarthur talked and he says quote he often used archaic words and terms as one might a rare spice for extraordinary flavor end quote well that explains president roosevelt's line also quoted in scott's book um he roosevelt said that he talks in a voice that might come from an oracle's cave well if
Starting point is 03:06:01 you spice it up with those archaic words and terms speak of yourself in the third person and use it almost like a stage voice well yeah you sound like an oracle you just know how to play to the crowd right but it's a weird part of the guy's character it makes him more interesting as a historical figure but then of course i don't have to work with him this is a person who also knows how to use the media of his time i mean if twitter or any of the other social media outlets have been around in his day he'd have a billion followers he had his own direct pipeline from the philippines where he was commanding to the u.s media outlets who were hung really waiting for any info he gave and when he provided that info most of the time it only mentioned
Starting point is 03:06:48 a single person him historian ronald h specter in eagle against the sun writes about the macarthur press machine and says quote macarthur's great stature in the united states was in part due to his own highly efficient public relations organization most of the war news from the philippines which the american public read came from macarthur's communiques and press releases of 142 communiques released by his headquarters between december and march 109 mentioned only one individual macarthur end quote specter then quotes another historian that points out that macarthur had a way of getting his name into the press releases in multiple places even when it's not about him particularly like instead of saying uh you know the us army's right flank on batan the press release
Starting point is 03:07:42 would say macarthur's right flanks on batan and instead of saying something like you know the 10th regiments soldiers it says macarthur's man and that historian said the communiques omitted the names of combat units commanders and individuals who had performed exceptional exploits macarthur also had this other side which was something it was part of the uh the rumor mill back in washington dc between the two world wars i mean macarthur was accused of going oriental as it was called at one point wearing kimonos around the office fanning himself with a japanese fan and smoking from a jeweled cigarette holder uh just an interesting guy all the way around the problem was is that there has always been a spectrum of views on macarthur and on one
Starting point is 03:08:31 end of the spectrum are the macarthur groupies the superfans and they are the people who buy into macarthur's world view that he's been stabbed in the back by everyone from the us navy to multiple presidents to whatever it might be uh that this was the greatest soldier in american history that he was the person who was in the right in those confrontations with the presidents and in fact should have been the president someday himself and then on the far opposite end of the scale you have the people who think and this was always part of the lampooning when i was a kid in the 1970s that macarthur is is sort of delusional that the real world is sort of blocked from his vision through the cataract of his own greatness and he's kind of like blithely out of it sometimes
Starting point is 03:09:13 you'll see him issue orders too uh in hero he does where francis pike has some of this he deals with he'll issue these orders that are or make these demands on washington that are so out of touch with reality that you wonder about the man himself for example uh in the early days of the fighting on the philippines after the um pearl harbor attack macarthur is urging washington to strike the japanese home islands now with naval assets right away since they're all occupied fighting him well this is delusional because that's the same time that the navy's telling roosevelt they can't even defend the philippines forget about launching a strike on the japanese home islands pike also quotes admiral heart who was the naval commander of us assets in the philippines and who worked
Starting point is 03:09:55 closely with macarthur between the wars and who considered him a friend himself a friend of macarthur until the war got close and the friendship broke down and pike quotes admiral heart is telling his wife that he's not sure macarthur is quote altogether sane end quote and then he adds that he may not have been altogether sane for some while now what does that even mean i've read a ton about douglas macarthur over my lifetime and i still find him as a figure completely impenetrable i don't know how to process this idea that maybe he's he's this out of touch thing living in his own world like a mr magoo stumbling on from from one military good thing to another triumph i don't he's done it going to do a lot of things in the rest of his life
Starting point is 03:10:41 that seem like really hard things to do under the best of conditions i would think if you weren't grounded in reality they would they would be impossible that's just my view at the same time this guy is so complicated that sometimes it's difficult to know how you feel about him unless you find yourself un unreservedly on one of the two polarities on the guy there's another way of looking at him too which is the crazy like a fox way we mentioned earlier you know how many twitter followers this guy would have how well he used the media of the day well how much of this is all for publicity purposes right i had a buddy said is he putting us on eisenhower had said about his old boss that he would have made a great actor and that he studied dramatics under him
Starting point is 03:11:22 for seven years basically when he worked for him is this all part of branding right maybe you think about it this way maybe macArthur's positioning himself for an eventual presidential run and this is all part of the brand and before you dismiss it out of hand some writers and historians over the years have made similar charges against other public figures from that time churchill even for example the cigar the ever-present booze the hat the v sign you could put it on a poster couldn't you wonderful brand you know exactly who you're dealing with it's it serves two purposes it promotes churchill personally and whatever cause he wants to push at the same time well if churchill could do it macArthur could do it so maybe it's a put-on my response to that is you
Starting point is 03:12:05 know i'm a cynical i all those kind of things i see right through this is the kind of put-on that would work even for me and it's possible it's geared toward working on people exactly like me let me tell you one of my favorite macArthur stories and i'll just give you an idea of how hard this guy is to pin down for this kind of stuff so he gets accused of not visiting the troops often enough in the philippines uh during the whole disaster we're just about to get into he only does it once but it's as highly you know it's it's a big deal right he's coming to the fox holes from he's he's been safe underground on the island of caregador putting out press releases about how terrible things are here but he hasn't actually gone there in the mud in the blood but
Starting point is 03:12:48 there are generals out there who have been wane writes out there you know getting i mean just working his tail off so macArthur is going to go it's this big deal he comes in uh some of the troops talked about how overdressed they were they're in creased pants and shine shoes macArthur's got the corn cob pipe the dark glasses he's got the cap good luck finding that cap on any other u.s military officer in any other service it's basically you know self-designed he gussied it up a bit it's the macarthur cap and he shows up and he tours the defenses for the whole day a lot of people saw him that day and my buddy would have said that's probably part of the plan uh press would have known about it it would have been one of those things where i mean if this was
Starting point is 03:13:30 today there'd be a bazillion retweets and he'd be trending you know the number one thing today on twitter douglas macarthur visits the troops in batan there are multiple accounts of different people who saw macarthur that day in undefeated author bill slone gives an account from a u.s soldier who was in a foxhole in an area that was being hit particularly hard at that time by japanese aircraft lots of bombing lots of strafing and this soldier's in the foxhole just cowering down trying not to die and he looks up and hears general macarthur strolling casually towards them with another general and staff officers the soldier's name by the way is captain ralph hybs and slone has hybs explaining what happens when he sees macarthur and these men
Starting point is 03:14:21 trailing behind him you know coming over the hill in the battle zone towards him captain hybs says quote i jumped out of the foxhole and gave a rather clumsy salute without thinking hybs later recalled macarthur waved to stay put and swinging his riding crop vigorously with great strides moved across the open meadow as more zeros came winging in a couple of his aides were tugging on his shirt and telling him to get down but he shrugged them off and kept walking the bombs landed fairly close but the general was completely oblivious to them me i was in my foxhole there is a really brave man i thought end quote macarthur's courage has never been in doubt my buddy might ask the interesting question though that some have asked about macarthur and some of
Starting point is 03:15:12 these other really superstar generals by the way all of them a little bit media maybe overly media savvy who's douglas macarthur doing all this for he would say he's doing it for the men and there's no doubt that guy his morale skyrocketed so maybe that's the truth but is that the whole truth douglas macarthur's a hard guy to figure out i'll tell you this though if this is a publicity stunt and i said this to my friend i think i used a different analogy i came up with a better one but if this is a publicity stunt it's the kind of publicity stunt that reminds you of like a person who would string a tightrope between two skyscrapers and walk across it carrying a pole i mean he may have invited the media to come and watch it may be an excuse for everybody to come
Starting point is 03:15:55 and cover him but it's not phony and what macarthur did that day is not phony either i was walking past the tv the other night and uh thinking about macarthur and a lightbulb went on over my head when i heard something on the television and my wife begged me not to use this reference because she said you'll embarrass yourself because i know nothing about it i know nothing about the character i know i don't know why he has this nickname i just knew when i heard it that that should be douglas macarthur's nickname it should be douglas the situation macarthur to me that sounded exactly like what his code name should be in washington dc that's what they should call him in the white house when they're talking about him because to people like roosevelt
Starting point is 03:16:35 and general marshall and most of the abdominals a lot of other people douglas macarthur is the situation and the funny thing about douglas macarthur is if he found out his nickname was the situation he might like that too because he wanted to be on the minds of all these people thought he should have been on their minds in fact thought he should have been a higher priority in fact hated the germany first policy that had just been agreed to because it meant his theater was going to be the one that was de-emphasized and macarthur's a big fish in that theater and made a lot of promises to the locals i mean heck he was the field marshal of the philippines for whatever that was worth uh at the time so he's got a lot of personal contact in his relationship by the way
Starting point is 03:17:16 still complicated with the the money and the power in the philippine power structure again depends on you know your image of the man but the reason this guy is such a situation are two more checkboxes on the r u adiva test that he checks off i mean number one he's a pain in the ass to his cohorts and his superiors franklin roosevelt's relationship with him started off sort of lukewarm and degenerated from there by the end of roosevelt's life macarthur hated him and roosevelt had said that macarthur was one of the two most dangerous men in america the other that i think he was thinking of was louisiana senator huy long the king fish macarthur famously had problems with he had problems with the next american president too he had problems with the washington army brass
Starting point is 03:18:07 and in dc he had problems with most of the admirals although he liked and worked well with with bull halsey but a pain in the ass and see normally when you get these kind of people and you're you're looking for a better level of unity these people are not worth the trouble especially if they don't perform while at a certain point you take those opportunities to axe those those malcontents those poisonous people you know those divas unless of course you know they're like frank sanatra or judy garland or one of these sammy davis jr michael jackson any of the giants right out there where you just go i don't care how weird they are um however many green m&m's they want in the uh in in their dressing room i don't care just get me frank sanatra what that means though
Starting point is 03:18:54 is that people like that you invest really high hopes and they become so valuable i mean if you sold out the palladium for frank sanatra you can't cancel frank sanatra without there being big problems and the u.s takes the opportunity that douglas macarthur's stature provides them to invest a lot of hope in douglas macarthur they turn him into a hero by the way the u.s government takes a guy who's already two-thirds of the way to fitting that mold already pours the disney-like propaganda hose on him gives him a congressional medal of honor in the near future to make a superhero out of macarthur the reason this is important is well what if you're sitting in the philippines and you realize you are screwed you are doomed there's no way this is going to
Starting point is 03:19:40 work out the odds are totally against you the only thing that gives you any hope in the philippines is that you have a transcendental military leader in charge it's hard to describe what people thought especially the philippino thought macarthur was capable of he could pull a rabbit out of his hat militarily speaking at any time can't rule out douglas macarthur so you can't remove douglas macarthur either without that whole pillar of hope collapsing he's too big to fire and he knows it so you're stuck with him and the problem is is that initially he does not perform well at all historian ronald h specter said that the government would have been fully justified in removing macarthur to be honest once again i tend to cut people slack in this situation
Starting point is 03:20:27 macarthur and the americans and the philippinos are going to face the same kind of acid test of combat exposure moment that the british and the imperial troops in malaya got to experience right where all of your pre-war estimations are put to the test your assumptions your plans all that stuff gets the final exam and as usual and this is always the problem with war games and what not i mean you generally don't assume for situations that seem too wild to contend with and i can guarantee you macarthur's war plans did not take into account the idea that the japanese might control the air and the sea uncontested control of the air in the sea by the way that's not generally in your assumptions and that's going to be the case so right there a little difference between the
Starting point is 03:21:13 pre-war plans and the actual war conditions the other problem that they had in malaya will be replicated here as well which is that the um decisions made before the conflict breaks out will doom everybody before i start criticizing general macarthur's plan for defending the philippines and of course as a history fan i'm totally entitled aren't i to criticize uh one of the us's major generals throughout its history totally qualified to do that um but before i do let's acknowledge something right away there are no good plans for defending the philippines it's not like macarthur's plan is up against a bunch of plans that were better and it just didn't get showed there are no good plans there's a sizable contingent of top military leadership especially in the navy who considers
Starting point is 03:22:02 the philippines indefensible if the japanese want them they can have them if for no other reason than proximity right look how close japan is compared to the united states and remember these are people who think the philippines are indefensible who are assuming there's still going to be a robust united states navy to contend everything if they're indefensible under those conditions they're really indefensible after pearl harbor but if they're indefensible do you just not defend them do you say that the war policy for the united states and the philippines remember we have you know military assets there it's one of our bases our war plan is that the japanese attack we're leaving and we're leaving the philippine islands to you know the conquerors that is so politically
Starting point is 03:22:45 unpalatable for people that at least we market as a big brother little brother relationship and a lot of philippinos buy into that we uh certainly are making a lot of noise about protecting the islands we have military assets there we have general douglas macarthur there whose wonderful cap is proof that he's all in because that's the cap of the philippine army's top rank field marshal which he holds which is a little weird he had fights with eisenhower about it eisenhower basically saying you're a four star u.s general that's something to be proud of what are you doing holding a gaudy field marshal baton for the philippine but you know i'm an honors and honor and macarthur like that stuff and he wore that cap all throughout the war signature field marshal
Starting point is 03:23:31 cap but macarthur is also out there telling the philippinos in these rousing speeches don't worry we're here you know are the entire weight of the great democracies of the world are here at your side i mean come on your war plan has to do better than we're going home if we're attacked so sometimes the politics get involved in ways and the diplomacy gets involved in ways that sort of doesn't consider too much what's actually going to happen on the battlefield because if the islands really are indefensible what happens to the people you send over there to defend them that's the situation the troops will find themselves in on the ground here the same way that those troops in hong kong fighting for canada and the empire and all these other places had to continue to fight on or what
Starting point is 03:24:19 have you for the honor of the empire well we have to have a war plan here in the united states for an indefensible place because to not have a war plan to defend the indefensible place is indefensible if you know what i mean this is as old as armies by the way there's nothing new at all about putting troops into militarily dubious situations for diplomatic purposes happens all the time and it's a reason that strategists and war planners have to account for i mean they'll understand that sometimes the best we can hope for in a situation is to perhaps not be victorious but have a strategy a plan to not lose or to lose really slowly or to hold out for a long time under siege and then be rescued any of those things might be applicable in certain situations
Starting point is 03:25:13 in between the two world wars there were war plans that accounted for things like that and the the basic attitude was that if you couldn't defeat the enemy you would retreat to the batan peninsula and hold out there the batan peninsula is a wonderful place to retreat for all sorts of reasons the first one is is if you control it look at a map it's sort of right by manila bay if you control it and the bone in the throat fortified little teeny island of corregidor you control manila bay and there's manila the giant urban center of the philippines right there as well macarthur said um that if you had an invasion take the rest of the island if he controlled corregidor and batan then they might have the bottle but he'd have the cork
Starting point is 03:25:58 allied troops would be doing damage to the japanese simply by holding out on batan and corregidor there'd be a thorn in the side of all their operations so this is a good strategic spot to retreat to in terms of having importance but it's also a good spot to retreat to because it's very defensible nature began that process by creating this peninsula that is some of the heaviest jungle you will ever see and i lack the adjectives to distinguish between all the different levels of heavy jungle in this theater but it's very heavy jungle indeed you would never want to have to go root an enemy out of there that was you know waiting for you in addition to the heavy jungle there's not one but two volcanoes in this space that's something like 15 by 30 miles or 20
Starting point is 03:26:49 by 25 miles i've read both but it's not a very big area to have two volcanoes now they're not spewing lava at the moment they're dormant or they're dead i don't know but look at a map they take up a huge chunk of the real estate in this area that's going to be defended and they're going to be used as part of the defense line right i mean if you want to anchor a defense line or you want to have the middle covered by something that uh should keep the enemy at bay we'll put a big volcano in the middle of it and they do then once you decide you're going to use the batan peninsula for this purpose you bring in the combat engineers and you improve on what nature started you lay out the mine fields you build the tank traps you clear fields of fire you site artillery you build pill boxes
Starting point is 03:27:33 and bunkers and you can make this the kind of place that armies will break themselves trying to get into and then of course you have to make sure that the people that end up under siege here because that's what everybody thinks is going to happen it's going to be like the alamo right with hopefully a happier ending they're going to need stuff aren't they so you're going to stockpile all the food and all the ammunition and all the medical supplies on batan so there's plenty to keep people you know happy healthy and fighting while they await rescue from the us navy most of these plans and vision douglas macArthur does not like these plans he does not like the whole gist of these plans the idea that you would assume and plan for a defeat and essentially prepare to be besieged by the enemy
Starting point is 03:28:22 he called it defeatist he can call it anything he wants doesn't really matter until mid 1941 when he's put in charge of american and philippine forces in the philippines and this is uh several months before war breaks out so now this is the guy who has to decide what the plan for the defense of the philippines is going to be and it is not going to be that we're going to assume we're defeated and we're going to prepare to be besieged at batan we're going to throw the enemy back into the sea i mean would you expect any less of one of these superstars some might say super ego generals it just doesn't suit them to say i'm going to plan i'm going to lose and i'm going to retreat and i'm going to try to hold out and then i'm going to let the bloody navy come and rescue me i mean he
Starting point is 03:29:06 didn't he had always had a good job for the navy you're gonna rely it was not going to happen so macArthur comes up with this plan that doesn't look like a bad plan at all if he's got a first class military carrying it out if he's got the u.s military from 1944 it's a good plan he doesn't have that he has something that on paper looks large enough to be mistaken for that but those numbers lie it is macArthur's own team though that he built from scratch and it might have clouded his judgment it's one of the miracles here there is a philippine army that is somewhere between 80 to 100 000 men that's going to be put into action here in the philippines let's understand something 10 years before this time there was no philippine army there was no institute there was
Starting point is 03:29:48 nothing macArthur came in and it's really over the previous five or six years that he's built up this entire institution from scratch and when you think of everything that you have to do to create a foundation for a armed forces of all kinds not just army it's incredible that there are as many philippinos that could meet the japanese and defeat them in this army as there are now and there's 12 000 philippine scouts that are u.s regulars there's units in the first philippine division that are great so no knock on them but when you have 80 to 100 000 men and a military institution that's only been around five six seven years a lot of those people are not going to be ready to face the japanese and this is something macArthur should have known when you have one
Starting point is 03:30:33 of those great minds right that runs like a machine you would think you would understand that you cannot put some of these units in places where if they lose the entire plan goes to hell but that's just what macArthur will do now you don't know it it's all theoretical right until you get the acid test of combat and it's not just theoretical it's backed by macArthur himself so that's the golden seal of approval that just because you think there might be reservations you're not dealing with a normal mortal here believe me this will work i built this team from scratch i know these men they will resist the japanese on the beaches on december 22nd 1941 you get a chance to find out whether macArthur's right or wrong about that and he's
Starting point is 03:31:12 wrong and he's wrong quickly macArthur is accused here by critics of reacting sluggishly to the initial japanese moves and i think that's true but on the other hand let's look at the japanese side of this too part of it is that they're doing things at warp speed and we had mentioned earlier in the malea story that speed and audacity is something the japanese are using to compensate for some of their deficiencies and it worked great in malea it's part of this early japanese blitzkrieg plan and now it's working well in the philippines and it completely discombobulates everything and this is one of those stories where it's the opposite of what it is sometimes where sometimes if you go into a war story talking about where the troops move and
Starting point is 03:31:55 what the generals are doing and all that stuff sort of illuminates and clarifies the situation but sometimes it does the opposite and you sort of lose the forest for the trees and this is one of those situations part of the reason why is the military moves don't matter that much because nothing that the great strategist is going to do is going to change the outcome it's not a question of well if you'd only moved your knight and pawn over here i mean he never you're not going to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat here this is a foregone conclusion because these most of these philippine units cannot fight the japanese they wouldn't probably be able to fight them on equal terms but they're in an extremely disadvantaged situation as we said that the american air force
Starting point is 03:32:38 which is really the army air force has has for all intents and purposes in this part of the philippines by this time cease to exist and these troops these green troops who have almost certainly never heard a shot fired in anger are being bombed and strafed from the air they're being pounded with artillery the japanese have tanks they have offshore naval guns this is a slaughter so this is a plan that was doomed already and the japanese push inland so fast that that you don't realize unless you look at a timeline and match it up to events how quickly it's happening i mean we in the united states celebrate the heroism of the philippine units uh general wainwright's forces the 26th regiment which is the philippine scouts and american forces
Starting point is 03:33:19 in slowing the japanese down and it is heroic i mean the stuff that's done this is some of the alamo type moment you have two kinds of military history you have the triumphs where you're marching through the enemy's city victoriously and it's all great and advancing and offensives and smashing the enemy and that's great and then you have the alamo and these wonderful the thermopoly the wonderful defeats that you celebrate i mean we in the united states and the philippinos we celebrate these delaying actions but when you actually look at a timeline and and they're heroic as heck but but they didn't delay them very long i mean by the 23rd the afternoon of the 23rd and remember it's the morning of the 22nd that the big invasion happens so a day and a half later
Starting point is 03:33:58 general wainwright is asking for permission to retreat to the to a defense line i mean they are already saying we're done and more power to him i mean he's commanding the 26th regiment the philippino scouts which by the way are horse cavalry yes horses men on horses in the jungle it's awesome uh they're getting decimated and he said that this whole time period began an era and i'm loosely quoting here from memory of killing japs being killed and pulling back and he learns and is exquisitely good at keeping the japanese chasing him and then setting up as if he's going to fight a battle making the japanese stop set up for a whole set piece battle which takes hours and everything gets everything into place and then pulling back so it's wonderful rearguard actions
Starting point is 03:34:45 and it serves a great purpose i mean these people are all dying during these rearguard actions and these leapfrog backwards actions for time and the reason we said is because everything's happening so quickly and the japanese will be speeding on their way on the roads towards manila within 48 hours they have also landed on the other side of manila with seven to eight thousand guys macarthur who knew the amphibious assaults were going to come somewhere after all malea was seeing that in spades uh maybe wasn't expecting it quite here because this move now is going to catch manila in a pincer movement and close it up in a ring and threaten to cut macarthur's forces into pieces so that they can be defeated one by one so macarthur has to do something drastic because
Starting point is 03:35:31 his plan is failing so he changes the plan within 48 hours macarthur's new plan is one of the older plans it was called war plan orange three w p o three and it's the sort of plan that macarthur would have called defeatist in fact he did call it defeatist but now that his troops were being defeated it didn't sound so bad to retreat to the batan peninsula and hunker down there for a siege except of course that none of the things that you would have had in place there had this been the plan the whole time or in place there anymore because it hasn't been the plan for months the troops that might have been in a position to easily retreat to batan are now spread out all over the island some of them 140 150 miles away the stuff that should have been stockpiled
Starting point is 03:36:18 in batan to feed uh treat the wounds and disease of and supply the weapons for of all these troops that's not in batan either most of that's been captured by the japanese as they've overrun the supply depots there's this horrible heartbreaking moment if you know this story i'd like to think of it as it's like twisting the knife in a wound that hasn't been made yet where the japanese will burn rice pyramids of rice they'll capture tens of millions of bushels of rice uh that will soon be desperately needed by all these allied forces and it's rice of course that would have been in batan had war plan orange three the new plan been in effect the whole time so macarthur critics have a field day with that one at the same time when the initial plan fails you have to do something
Starting point is 03:37:06 don't you you don't want to stick with the other plan so there's going to be this this chaotic move now for all of these people to get down to batan before the siege starts there essentially it's going to be the only place defended so if you want to be on the allied side of things you need to get down to batan and philippine army units and us army units with a ton of civilians added are going to make their way down to batan as quickly as they can to be safe the only problem for all of them is the philippine highway system at this time cannot handle that kind of traffic and you have massive traffic jams and the reason those are extra heart breaking is because general wainwright and his troops are literally dying for time to keep the
Starting point is 03:37:53 doors to batan open a little bit longer so that these people and the supplies that they can salvage and get down to batan can make it down there and they're stuck in a traffic jam that's extra awful in my opinion and wainwright by the way conducting a heroic leapfrog rearguard action where he will destroy more than 180 bridges sometimes in heartbreaking situations where he's got to make decisions about trapping friendlies on the wrong side because the japanese have just shown up he will fight his way with his troops down to batan on the 26th by the way december 26th remember the invasions only on the 22nd the big invasion manila will be declared an open city so essentially mcarthur and the allies are conceding manila to the japanese which is partly for you
Starting point is 03:38:47 know humanitarian reasons cultural reasons you don't you want to hope that the city doesn't get leveled it's a beautiful great city right it's like paris you always want to hope that it doesn't get caught up in vicious street fighting that destroys the cultural heritage you know that great city at the same time the japanese sort of misread this macarthur catches a break here the japanese sort of think this means they won kind of the they sort of slow down before they score the touchdown before they reach the end zone and it gives macarthur and uh and the allied troops a little extra chance to get away down to batan when i was a kid learning history growing up and it shows you how much your national lens can influence how you see things i was always kind
Starting point is 03:39:27 of taught that this was a kind of a mini victory this part here for the united states and the philippines right we got away hama didn't get us it's like a mini duncork right the japanese failed to destroy us we get across blow the last bridges to batan and 15 000 americans 65 000 philippino troops 20 to 25 000 refugees are sitting there in batan flipping off the japanese ha ha you missed us as i get older i kind of see it more from the japanese viewpoint i mean who's captured who here there's hardly enough food to last like 20 days for this amount of people in batan the medical supplies are are dwindling the ammunition i mean what are they gonna do they're holding on by the skin of their teeth and hama is actually advised by some of
Starting point is 03:40:15 his underlings general hama that you should just leave him there just put up a screen so they can't get away and let starvation in the jungle just do their work right they'll dwindle they'll they'll shrivel on the vine but for reasons that are still not figured out conclusively because different people can still argue about them hama decides that they have to be attacked and destroyed um frances pike thinks he's one of those people who thinks the emperor had something to do with it john told him back in the 1980s thought that hama's pride required it though all the other generals are kicking everybody else's rear end all over this first phase of the japanese blitzkrieg everywhere else he's not going to be the lone guy in front of the emperor who can't get the job done
Starting point is 03:40:57 and right before he's about to get the job done he gets his best unit taken away from him and this is sort of a key moment in the whole affair because some historians attribute everything going the way that they go to the fact that hama doesn't have the khaki unit of veterans that had spearheaded this whole assault into the philippines up to now they get taken from him for all the right reasons right because the japanese high command's looking at this whole first phase of the japanese blitzkrieg and thinking wow this went better than expected victory can go to your head and you already were susceptible to it so far things are going so great you're already thinking let's move up the timetable on phase two which is just what they do so they're going to take this unit away from
Starting point is 03:41:40 hama more quickly than they'd expected but he shouldn't miss it right i mean the japanese walk into the open city of manila which was bombed anyway uh on january 2nd i think it is and pull down the us flag and stop on it the poor philippino people get to find out what life is going to be like under the east asia co prosperity sphere here are the rules but to the japanese high command that unit looks like you know you can afford to part with it now we'll replace it with a bunch of guys who've been doing garrison duty on formosa uh one of the officers quoted in one of my books said that they were in no way shape or form ready for combat bunch of older guys i can relate to them they seem like the kind of guys who would be much happier directing traffic at a not too busy
Starting point is 03:42:24 intersection in an exotic recently captured japanese city like manila and maybe sampling the night life from time to time uh instead they're going to face the bitterest combat the bitterest sustained combat that the japanese have gotten since pearl harbor and they are not expecting this and this poor unit that certainly wasn't ready for is going to take it on the chin and that's going to happen when the battle of batan opens up let me set that up a little for you though because after all these rearguard actions and all these preliminary lines that general wainwright had set and that had gotten turned or infiltrated or whatever uh finally the allied forces are at batan waiting in two battle lines for the enemy the first battle line is across the neck of the peninsula there's another
Starting point is 03:43:14 one across the neck of the peninsula several miles behind it so if the first one breaks you have another one to retreat to the first line is the one we referred to earlier the one that has the 4200 foot extinct volcano in the center of it and it's more than that it's the crags and the rocks and the cliffs and and the ravines and the heavy heavy undergrowth of jungle at the foot of this uh mountain really that makes it seem to general wainwright who i think it is who's laying out the troop dispositions here that it's just impassable that you don't have to worry about troops going through there because troops can't get through there so instead of laying out his troops in an unbroken line across the whole neck of the peninsula you know where they can have one
Starting point is 03:43:59 flank guarded by the sea on one side and the other flank guarded by the sea in the other side he decides that he could get away with just a few patrols around the mountain area and instead of having the unbroken line he'll have two groups of troops one on the east side of this mountain slash volcano one on the west side of the mountain slash volcano each of them about 20 to 25 000 men thrown together in sort of an ad hoc formation that happens once you've had a defeat and everybody's trying to reorganize and get their act together to resist the next you know punch before the japanese arrived there were consultations i think even macarthur weighed in where they asked wainwright are you sure you don't want to put troops up in front of the
Starting point is 03:44:44 the mountain there just in case and wainwright said i've toured the thing no one can get through there this is sort of the fatal mistake for those who are aficionados of this battle but that doesn't preclude the heavy fighting that's going to happen because this will be really the first time since pearl harbor that any allied forces have really had a chance to stop breathe for even one second which is only one second and dig in for a minute and on a wide front be ready for this i mean it's far from optimal the air is still in japanese hands i mean still a million disadvantages but about half as many as normal so far in this campaign i mean ask the british forces in malaya right and in this case on january 9th that poor force of garrison troops from formosa
Starting point is 03:45:31 uh starts approaching almost lined up like bowling pins and as they do the american artillery opens up and begins to teach the japanese what it's going to be like when you have americans and big guns they just handle them well and have for a very long time people are sometimes surprised by american artillery and i go why would you be surprised about americans you know handling big guns with some sort of elegance the british though do it very well in this war as do the germans it's so scientific at this point that the farther ahead your science is generally the better your artillery is and american artillery will give great service in every front the united states fights on in the pacific it will take a horrific toll on the japanese and this poor unit of garrison troops
Starting point is 03:46:21 who were just hoping for a nice cushy stationing in manila get torn to ribbons by american artillery and they will throw themselves against this um prepared line and you will have what historian eric bergery calls the most vicious light infantry war ever carried out between industrialized nations and by that he means this is not like the wars in europe where the field marshals and generals will command thousands of vehicles and people across huge wide swaths of territory where their job is to focus the amazing killing power of modern states in specific breakpoints i mean it's it's a great science that you carry out on battlefields that look more like golf courses because these battlefields look anything but like that in most of this theater and the terrain
Starting point is 03:47:11 inhibits everything this is a war that is not fought mainly by field marshals and generals but as bergery points out by captains lieutenants and sergeants with bayonets and submachine guns where you don't see the enemy sometimes until they're right on top of you and you will see it in the battle of batan over and over again because the japanese infiltrators are nightmarish they are so bad that they will actually surprise general wainwright who as we've said amongst all the american generals is the guy with the most experience so far fighting the japanese and he's the one that said don't worry about the middle there no one can get through there now as we said earlier this is the point where it doesn't do a whole lot of good to talk about
Starting point is 03:47:53 thrusts and parries and and defenses and counterattacks because it just becomes confusing this is small-scale jungle warfare and if you take a snapshot of any sector at any given time you could have one side on the attack one side on the counterattack another side on the defensive one thing you start to see though is that the japanese get lessons in what it's like fighting americans but americans and filipinos begin to get the real hard lessons of what it's like fighting the japanese and it is a unique experience that soldiers on other fronts do not get with the japanese it's like we said earlier it's the old shakespear line just turned in their favor i mean they're like everyone else only more so everything else the japanese do here
Starting point is 03:48:33 that we're going to talk about you can find examples of them doing elsewhere and other people doing on other fronts and in other theaters there are isolated examples the japanese will just do this stuff sometimes as a matter of course for example i remember a story specifically we're on the eastern front the russians charge across a wide front with bayonets you know all yelling a deep-throated yell at the same time i think it was like across the snow and it's amazing right you think who does that well in the eastern front it was rare on the western front it almost never happened in the pacific it happened all the time there was a name for them the american soldiers called them bonsai charges and for the first time in the war the americans get to see
Starting point is 03:49:14 what those are like and they are somewhat unnerving even for the side that is just mowing these people down by the way there are photos that do exist they are not pretty of the aftermath of some of these bonsai charges it is what eric berger had said that we quoted earlier where it is almost like a form of political murder carried out on the japanese troops by their officers because you could understand suicidal charges which is what the bonsai charges are suicidal charges into the teeth of modern combat you could understand them if they achieve something practical or of value but they almost never did one of the first people to witness at least in an american uniform one of these bonsai charges is quoted in bill slone's book undefeated he was a battalion
Starting point is 03:49:59 commander named lieutenant colonel philip fry and he saw one of these attacks on january 10th which is the same day that macarthur was touring the battleground that we mentioned earlier you know standing up when the planes were dropping bombs nearby and uh slone quotes fry is describing this first bonsai charge he witnessed quote it was slaughter all of our guns had been carefully cited for mutual support and the japs were caught by terrific fire both frontal and flanking even now i can't understand why the japs launched an attack of this kind against modern weapons my only explanation is that they hadn't faced train troops before and thought if enough noise were made the opposition would simply fade away the attack was smashed before it got under way
Starting point is 03:50:47 end quote slone then adds quote in future pacific battles on other islands many u.s field commanders would be as puzzled as fry by such suicidal tactics end quote slone goes on to point out what we had talked about earlier that it is it is a weird combination of something that is uh very old and very japanese that has then been morphed and corrupted and reimagined and propagandized by a modern 20th century regime to create this hybrid sort of thing where these japanese soldiers think that they have to go die when they're commanded to do this and these japanese officers somehow think there's value in having them do it by the way that same source later in the work talks about the firepower of a u.s battalion and he is simply talking about the rifle fire alone
Starting point is 03:51:44 of hundreds of men and he says it was beyond the powers of his description so now imagine the battalion with all its machine guns and mortars 20 millimeter or two 37 millimeter or two and now think about those bonsai attacks what you've got men in close order yelling and charging in the open with fixed bayonets again i mean it's unnerving for the people who have to kill them and as eric bergerin had said this is not something you could have western forces reliably do regularly reliably regularly regularly reliably you might get him to do it once so these bonsai charges though are part of what is convincing all the allied troops that they are up against a crazy fanatics here i mean that i remember my step does they're just crazy and and
Starting point is 03:52:36 that changes the way you see them and it's very easy to depersonalize somebody when you just write that i've right in other words this is not a thinking feeling normal human being that i can associate with or relate to this is a crazy person but in a way i mean if this were a war game and we weren't talking about human beings and you were talking about cool things you get if you're the japanese player i mean the japanese had this psychological thing going for them i mean i wouldn't want to lose a lot of people in fruitless charges in order to create that sort of mystique but it was a mystique and they they maximized it in a bunch of different ways the japanese would use i mean they were really disadvantaged when you when you started talking about heavy industry
Starting point is 03:53:18 and heavy tech right the americans had so much more firepower at the unit level but the japanese excelled in all the little ninja type things if you'll pardon the stereotype i mean for example they scared the crap out of the people on the other side and this is part of the vibe we talked about earlier what the worst battlefront would be to fight on in the second world war and i mentioned it's an eye of the beholder thing right it depends on your own quirks or peculiarities which one would bother you the most i have to say that the vibe that you get when you read about the us troops especially in the foxholes in the pacific and batan is the first place where you really get this the vibe that you get there is very similar to that same vibe you get when you're watching one of
Starting point is 03:54:00 those slasher films like a nightmare on elm street it's a perfect analogy because it's one of those things like we had said earlier that the worst battlefield is the one where your proclivities and quirks are the most upset and affected i couldn't handle the horror movie vibe that being in the pacific in one of these foxholes meant that that little note that plays in the horror movie i don't know what instrument it is but they'll hold that note for a long time right when you're about to look behind the corner and see something awful that's the note that's playing for all of these poor soldiers in these foxholes at night and it is almost like the stereotypical setup for one of these horror movies where you're sending a bunch of high school kids to babysit at the old creepy
Starting point is 03:54:40 house where they have a bunch of chainsaws on the wall i mean it's one of those things where you go don't go there you're so stupid of course there's an axe murderer there well in these stories so often it's like two poor gis and they're usually like 18 or 19 years old in a foxhole in a pitch black island night environment and there's other troops all over the place right 20 yards to the left you there's a foxhole 20 yards to the right of you there's a foxhole but you can just barely hear the people there and you can't see them in the dark and you're basically isolated and you have to take turns sleeping this is a horror movie set up right here and the japanese do the greatest job in the world of psychological torture here because and again they do this on every front
Starting point is 03:55:22 in in the war every side does this the japanese just do it so much better first of all they do things that you have to actually imagine happening on other fronts to properly grade so let's calibrate this thinking for a minute if i told you and it's not outrageous you'd believe it if i told you on the western front maybe in 1944 when the germans and the americans are facing each other in france uh that there was a german unit that was there to terrorize the other side and hurt the morale and freak them out and they would come out of their foxholes at night sneak over no man's land jump into an american foxhole butcher the gis in there put them in obscene positions right on the side of the foxhole and blood and then go back to their own trenches at night and if i told you
Starting point is 03:56:04 they called themselves the werewolves or the vampires because that would freak everybody out that's not too hard to believe is it you'd probably go to the movie or read the book about it because the second world war has all kinds of wild things like that right but it's crazy right it's different i mean it's freaky you imagine that people on the ground would probably be talking about it in the sector where it happened did you hear what happened the werewolf struck again you know but i had to think about it like that to realize how freaky it is because in the pacific that happens all the time the japanese do this routinely they jump into the foxholes at night and they butcher people they disembowel them they stuff the genitals into the mouth i mean the stories are all over the
Starting point is 03:56:42 place and this happens i mean every this will happen all over the islands in the pacific and people will wake up it is a not unusual occurrence wake up with their buddy being killed by a japanese soldier who's jumped in the trench at night with a knife they maximize this when the japanese infiltrators get behind you sometimes they're carrying many loudspeakers and they'll start talking to the americans from behind you they carry firecrackers to freak you out they use snipers like nobody else uses snipers and it's another way to make you feel like you're not safe anywhere even behind the lines and i think the reason that they use snipers differently is because they're so much more willing to put their people in suicidal situations and being a snipers
Starting point is 03:57:25 like being an infiltrator i mean it is so freaking dangerous most people are careful if you care about people you know your troops the japanese are much more willing to say if this is going to pay off i mean you know we have to do it and they will often give their snipers different kinds of weapons it's not always the super rifle scope thing they'll give them a submachine gun put them behind the lines and unfortunately for all of us we're all too familiar with how disruptive a gunman in a setting where you're not expecting them can be for a while till you take them out and the us will by the way have to come up with anti sniper patrols who go out there and hunt the snipers but it's all part of making you unsafe at all times and having a horror movie kind of vibe
Starting point is 03:58:07 going on with that one note you know in the horror movie i have no idea what instrument it is or what the note is but you know it's like a violin that's just being held at one note for the longest time as the people are about to look around the dark corner where you know something must be i mean that's the note that the whole pacific war feels like to me on the front lines i feel like i could relax sometimes on the western front between encounters i feel like in the pacific if you're in a foxhole and you fall asleep i mean god forbid you fall asleep on guard duty it is like freddy kruger will be there cutting your throat and you won't know if you're dreaming or not i mean it's one of those things it's funny when you met veterans when i was growing up the more
Starting point is 03:58:44 combat they saw traditionally the less they would talk about it but the vibe was different between people who fought in the pacific and people who fought elsewhere and the one thing that overwhelmingly was different was you could meet people who fought elsewhere that sometimes didn't like their opponents very much or sometimes hated them but but almost to a person i didn't meet anybody who fought the japanese who didn't harbor really still bitter feelings decades and decades later and part of that is because at the level you fight this war there's a lot i mean if you're shot by a german machine gun or 200 yards away it's easier to say something like hey we were both doing our job we're part of a killing machine you know we could have drinks at the bar
Starting point is 03:59:22 later 20 years from now as the veterans of the second world war sometimes did later at reunions it's different if somebody's jumping in your trench and and forcing a knife into the throat of your body while you're trying to hit them on the back of the head with a shovel i mean it's it's as the army psychologist we talked about earlier i believe had said that killing in war is a question of proximity in terms of how much trauma you have if you kill somebody from six miles away with an artillery piece it's one level of trauma if you shoot them from 100 yards away it's another if you kill them with your bare hands in a foxhole it's another and in the pacific you got a lot more of that so you got a lot more people decades later who held on to that it's not surprising
Starting point is 04:00:08 the japanese scared the hell out of people though and when those people got a chance to let the anger that they've been keeping inside them and had nothing they could do about those horrible screams that came from you know multiple foxholes away the other night it's like shark attacks right every night somebody's screaming from some foxhole somewhere and you can't do anything about it when you got your hands on the other side sometimes well the japanese used to explain the way they treated the enemies that they captured sometimes as the troops getting out of hand and exploding and being angry about things well you can see the allies having plenty of reasons to be feel and act the same way can't you these are the kind of things that contribute to
Starting point is 04:00:50 a war without mercy after the first attacks are viciously repulsed by american and philippino forces and american artillery inflicts horrific casualties on the japanese macarthur gets a notice from his counterpart the japanese commander he printed it in full it says this quote sir you are well aware that you are doomed the end is near the question is how long will you be able to resist you have already cut rations by half i appreciate the fighting spirit of yourself and your troops who have been fighting with courage your prestige and honor have been upheld however in order to avoid needless bloodshed and to save the remnants of your divisions and your auxiliary troops you are advised to surrender in the meantime we shall continue our offensive
Starting point is 04:01:44 as i do not wish to give you time for defense if you decide to comply with our advice send a mission as soon as possible to our front lines we shall then cease fire and negotiate an armistice failing that our offensive will be continued with inexorable force which will bring upon you only disaster hoping your wise council will so prevail that you will save the lives of your troops i remain yours very sincerely commander in chief the japanese expeditionary force macarthur says that when he failed to respond to this the japanese showered the american lines with a leaflet that said this quote the outcome of the present combat has already been decided and you are cornered to the doom but however being unable to realize the present situation
Starting point is 04:02:35 blinded general macarthur has stupidly refused our proposal and continues futile struggle at the cost of your precious lives then they address a message directly to the 65 000 filipino troops who outnumber the americans by many times quote dear filipino soldiers exclamation point there are still one way left for you this is to give up all your weapons at once and surrender to the japanese force before it is too late and then we shall fully protect you we repeat for the last exclamation point surrender at once and build your new filipines for and by filipinos end quote macarthur says that everyone roared would laughter in the foxholes that night but the japanese were putting out other notices telling the filipino troops how to kill their american officers and come over to the japanese
Starting point is 04:03:32 side macarthur all this time by the way as you might expect is asking for help and think about what you have here i mean let's assume the worst let's assume that the united states doesn't care about 65 000 filipino troops and and the refugees and everything else which is wrong but let's assume that there's 15 000 american troops here they are essentially doomed if somebody doesn't do something and macarthur is essentially asking roosevelt and the generals back home what are you going to do and he keeps asking for things which given the climate are really impossible he wants aircraft carriers what can he expect me when his help coming is what he's basically saying and here's the funny part about it on one hand you're totally with macarthur and the filipinos by the way are in
Starting point is 04:04:13 sense the the head of the filipines is ready to call it quits he's saying why are my people dying he's we're fighting and burning for a flag that can't protect us and macarthur is kind of feeling a little bit the same way but here's the problem this is why everybody told him this area was not defensible to begin with he wants help and they're saying if we could have provided help the area would have been defensible so macarthur wants to not be written off but franklin roosevelt and the generals and admirals back in washington are beginning to have some of the same ugly business as churcho called it decisions to make where they have to wonder about sending precious supplies that could be very helpful somewhere to a place that's probably already doomed and macarthur
Starting point is 04:04:54 desperately doesn't want to be that place needless to say the filipinos don't either and they're angry the filipino president will shake with rage at one point after listening to franklin roosevelt on the radio promising all these supplies to the battlefront in europe and when the united states is now all of a sudden you know giving aid and support to the former ad not adversary but but not so friendly soviet union and yet nothing for the for the little brothers of the filipines and the leader of the filipines is shaking in his wheelchair and says to macarthur you know how like the americans to be worried about some distant cousin in distress while you know their daughter is being raped in the back room well this is something once again
Starting point is 04:05:36 we get into when he said he said sort of debate where macarthur says that roosevelt's basically telling help him help is on the way i'm not so sure that's true but macarthur certainly always looking to bolster spirits and always an optimist tells everybody else that help is on the way he tells his troops in a proclamation on um january 15th when they have been fighting this bitter fight now and giving a great account of themselves by the way in really really bitter uh combat quote help is on the way from the united states thousands of troops and hundreds of planes are being dispatched the exact time of arrival is unknown as they will have to fight their way through japanese attempts against them it is imperative that our troops hold until these reinforcements arrive
Starting point is 04:06:24 no further retreat is possible we have more troops in betan than the japanese have thrown against us our supplies are ample a determined defense will defeat the enemy's attacks it is a question now of courage and determination men who run will merely be destroyed but men who fight will save themselves and their country and quote american troops were beginning to um talk about macarthur with derision calling him dugout dug for staying on the island of corregidor which was no picnic needless to say being bombed and stuff all the time but he was luxurious compared to the troops in the foxholes who were having you know the japanese ninja type stuffing their genitals into their mouths freddy kruger style so that was about as bad as it gets and if macarthur
Starting point is 04:07:14 and the filipino leader think that the united states is forsaking the philippines the troops in the philippines simply think they're forsaken author james m scott in his book rampage was talking about how the soldiers had white v's painted on their helmets which were supposed to mean victory but it come to mean victims because they were just out there beginning to starve with the disease beginning to get to them and nobody in the united states seemed to be making any effort to do anything about it was their job to just slowly wither on the vine there and american war correspondent with the troops printed a saying or a poem that he says was going around the soldiers they're trying to keep their name in the news remember there's a lot of
Starting point is 04:08:02 things crowding out the siege in betan there's a world at war now in the united states as part of it and there's a lot of newspaper space devoted to places less depressing than the ongoing siege at betan and yet you can imagine 15 000 americans would like to be on the agenda and the war correspondent said that the poem said among other things quote we're the battling bastards of betan no mama no papa no uncle sam no aunts no uncles no nephews no nieces no pills no planes no artillery pieces and nobody gives a damn the americans and philippinos furiously tried to repulse the same things that sunk the british defense in malaya the constant attempts at infiltration or amphibious assaults around the frontal attacks are beaten off
Starting point is 04:08:50 it's the infiltrators that are the terrible problem just like they were in malaya and in this case general wainwright who's been so heroic in how he's conducted everything so far turns out to have been terribly wrong with this idea that this mountain this extinct volcano would block the japanese from infiltrating through the the two groups of soldiers and turning their flank because that's exactly what they do he said they slithered like snakes through the lines at night and to give you an idea of how crazy thick this jungle is john tolin says at one point a thousand of them slipped through the line in this terrain that was supposed to be impassable and were undiscovered for three days think about that for me you could have a thousand
Starting point is 04:09:38 men behind your line and not even know it for three days at one point more thousands get through and the americans involve themselves and the filipinos involve themselves in trying to isolate and close off these pockets of people that have penetrated the front lines so this is not even a defensive battle per se because at times the americans and filipinos have to attack the japanese that have penetrated their lines and have formed pockets it will take the allied troops sometimes weeks to eliminate these pockets within two weeks of the initial japanese assault on batan the allied commanders look at the situation the americans especially and just say this is untenable we have to abandon this line it's too compromised and so i think it's january 22nd that the official
Starting point is 04:10:22 notice goes out and the pullback starts and as usual i'm always intrigued by the last people out in this case it was some u.s soldiers who had to leapfrog their way back you know nine day growth of beard they're described with hollow eyes sunken cheeks you know like dead men walking as they make their way backwards to the next line of defense and then the japanese cause problems even with that retreat but what happens now at this part in the story is the damage that the allied troops have done to the japanese stopped the japanese for a while general hauma and his troops need to you know reform refit resupply they need to get some new bigger guns in here they have to rethink this whole thing and this is a huge personal defeat for hauma it's embarrassing
Starting point is 04:11:16 i was reading one account that said at one point he just passed out from the stress of all this he kept asking for reinforcements the headquarters denied him and so now he basically has to you know look really bad here but say we really need to treat this you know as a heavy duty thing and finish this so that's going to take some time now normally the allied forces would welcome this time because they'd like to refit resupply bring in new fresh troops in the whole thing too but the japanese are the only side that can do that remember that's what this whole siege thing means so this is the period where it's not so much other than the ninja stuff that's happening anyway but it's not so much the enemy activity as it is just being here under these conditions that begin to kill the
Starting point is 04:12:02 troops the starvation and the disease the batan peninsula is one of the most malaria regions on the planet and you also get berry berry dengue fever i mean the number of diseases you can get from this area is um well if you look at photos of frontline soldiers you often will see them covered in all sorts of like they called it jungle rot another author i was reading says that the jungle was the only kind of terrain that reliably and all season long killed the people who were fighting in it there are probably some local tribes that are from the jungle that can handle it but japanese and allied troops alike started to rot literally there are other theaters where the climate could kill you i mean the germans on the eastern front are finding out at the very
Starting point is 04:12:56 same time this story is going on how nasty the russian winter is and how many it will take away you know kill you right on the front lines have people frozen stiff but you know spring will come on the russian step in the jungle you'll still be dying then there's the starvation part that's hard to get your mind around because on this peninsula with all these people and numbers are weird i mean i keep saying 15 000 american troops depending on how you classify it could be 17 000 the number of refugees is unknown the number of filipino soldiers that made it into betan specifically is unknown but 80 to 100 000 it's the number they always throw out there 80 to 100 000 people in this particular what 25 by 20 mile area they're going to pick it clean like locusts
Starting point is 04:13:39 before too long and they eat everything i mean the story is about eating snakes and geckos and all pythons um baby monkeys that look like human babies and i only say that because the guy who told the story the veteran who was quoted in the book i read said he couldn't eat them as starving as he was they would jump into the foxholes because they get scared of the shelling and the soldier in the foxhole would just grab them and you know lunch finally something to eat protein author bill slone in undefeated quotes a colonel glenn townsen commander of the 11th regiment quote rations were reduced from 16 ounces a day to eight and then to four twice a week we got small amounts of caribou mule or horse meat there was no flour vegetables or sugar the quinine was exhausted
Starting point is 04:14:24 malaria rampant almost everyone had dysentery slone then interjects that the men were hungry enough to try to devour anything that seemed remotely digestible and then quotes major herald johnson of the 57th regiment quote i saw soldiers squatting beside trails boiling a piece of mule hide or caribou hide in a tomato can and chewing away at the hide trying to get some nourishment the soldiers never really complained johnson said but all the time you could see the question in their eyes what in the world have you done to us end quote as general hamas preparing for what he figures will be the final push and bringing in new big guns and new troops and fresh units and all this stuff the u.s. government realizes that they're going to lose this situation relatively soon
Starting point is 04:15:18 everybody's really proud of the resistance put up here in batan but at the same time it's clear that the end is near and the u.s. government is looking at this and going where we just created this superhero in douglas macarthur we can't let him fall into enemy hands right it's bad enough to think you might relieve him remember we said the whole house of hope that that much of the policy was based on would collapse if the you know wild card was taken away but what if the wild card were captured by the enemy and it's interesting there was one thing that i had read here that i had never heard before but it fits so well into the story was douglas macarthur was screaming and yelling so much about not getting any support and the u.s. government's not helping him in the
Starting point is 04:15:59 navy he's not helping him and he criticized the navy relentlessly he said for example that there wasn't a real blockade that the navy just said there was a blockade and that if you just challenged it you'd see it was a paper blockade basically implying that they don't have the guts to challenge it macarthur's continual demand for more troops and how he was kind of being left in the lurch was so public and almost you know so petulant some might say that the enemy even started mocking him for it and i had not heard this before reading james m scott's book rampage but he says quote the japanese and the germans had mocked macarthur in other shortwave broadcasts paying tribute to his struggle as a way to embarrass the united states now quoting the japanese broadcast quote in the name of fair
Starting point is 04:16:45 play and chivalry the japanese nation demands that the united states give general macarthur the reinforcements he needs so he will be able to wage a war that would be to his satisfaction win or lose end quote wow that's the enemy sort of making fun of you and the country and everybody at the same time um you get a very different feel for things from macarthur's own writings and there's a reason i haven't been quoting them more we had mentioned with winston churchill that you have to be extraordinarily careful with his work because he will shade things and slant things and spin things but he's careful about it he's he's clever he's tricky the facts are usually pretty reputable and then you know the way he works them is it's it's a certain magic right as he said i know history
Starting point is 04:17:35 will treat me kindly because i shall write that history well macarthur's a whole different animal first of all i've read lots and lots and lots of generals memoirs i've never read one like macarthur's there's nothing like it it is not like a general's uh point of view whereas they certain if you read a book by physicists there's a certain way the mind sort of works in these people and you expect a certain sort of an approach and macarthur doesn't write like a general he writes like i do hardcore history he's more organized too and less tangent so maybe even a clearer version it's dug macarthur's hardcore history when you read the writing it's full of analogies and the drama is enormous and the the reason you have to be careful with him though
Starting point is 04:18:13 is unlike churchill who slants things and spin things macarthur flat out makes stuff up now i didn't say lie notice his detractors call it lying uh they'll call him phony and a bunch of other things but i've read his work and i've i've studied this guy a long time i truly think and it's weird because if you believe this it comes with other baggage i truly think he's genuine and if he's genuine then you have to buy into the idea that he's a little deluded because they go together if you think he's smart like a fox well then you have to sort of buy into the phony thing a little bit i think macarthur believes what he wrote even if what he wrote i mean critics have looked at it for years and said this stuff didn't happen he made it up but i thought he believed it
Starting point is 04:18:51 so i can't trust him on the facts so i didn't use him but what you can trust him on is this i mean what eisenhower say he studied dramatics under macarthur for seven years macarthur's memoirs are dramatic and this is where you get to the point where macarthur's screaming and yelling and and he's ready now to go out when that when the government says macarthur maybe has to leave the philippines he doesn't want to go he threatens to go enlist as a vault resign his commission enlist as a volunteer and fight as a general soldier which is a bit of bravado one of the stories i like about him is when he's at coregador he shows a derringer pistolia as to a compatriot says they'll never take me alive said again a little dramatic but probably true
Starting point is 04:19:34 i still think he gives the best epitaph though to the whole batan campaign and why not maybe he deserves to it's certainly dramatic enough but here's the way he describes it and this is you know one of these really dramatic moments in macarthur's life and believe me he notices it in the macarthur story that he's writing in his head uh this is right before an intermission it should also be pointed out i think that douglas macarthur wrote this himself i think no ghost writer no co-writer nothing quote our troops were now approaching exhaustion the guerrilla movement was going well but on batan and coregador the clouds were growing darker my heart ached as i saw my men slowly wasting away their clothes hung on
Starting point is 04:20:18 them like tattered rags their bare feet stuck out in silent protest their long bedraggled hair framed gaunt bloodless faces their horse wild laughter greeted the constant stream of obscene and reballed jokes issuing from their parched dry throats they cursed the enemy and in the same breath cursed and reviled the united states they spat when they jeered at the navy but their eyes would light up and they would cheer when they saw my battered and much reviled in america scrambled eggs cap they would gather round and pat me on the back and mabuhay macarcer me it's in quotes i have no idea what it means they would grin that ghastly skeleton like grin of the dying as they would roar in unison we are the battling bastards of batan no papa no mama no uncle
Starting point is 04:21:15 sam they asked no quarter and they gave none they died hard those savage men not gently like a stricken dove folding its wings in peaceful passing but like a wounded wolf at bay with lips curling back in a snarling menace and always a nervous hand reaching for that long sharp machete knife which long ago they had substituted for the bayonet and around their necks as we buried them would be a thread of dirty string with its dangling crucifix they were filthy and they were lousy and they stank and i love them end quote by march 12 macarthur has to leave he doesn't want to go but he's convinced that he has to uh he gets this harrowing escape promises to come back makes his way to australia broadcasts a radio announcement where he says the famous i shall
Starting point is 04:22:18 return about coming back and liberating the philippines and of course a wonderful douglas macarthur fashion and i hadn't heard that until recent research apparently he it was suggested to him that he should say we shall return meaning the allies the americans whatever it might be he and chose to use the personal pronoun instead it's just perfect not everybody of course uh was happy or saw macarthur as this superhero again soon to get a congressional medal of honor macarthur's action as he might have surmised not exactly taken well by the people who can't get away on a pt boat and make it to australia ronald h specter and eagle against the sun writes quote quote in the philippines the exhausted americans and philippinos also took a more critical view
Starting point is 04:23:06 of macarthur's action quote who had the right to say that 20 000 americans should be sentenced without their consent and for no fault of their own to an enterprise that would involve for them endless suffering cruel handicap death or a hopeless future wrote general william e brusher who commanded the 11th division on batan continuing quote a foul trick of deception has been played on a large group of americans by a commander-in-chief and a small staff who are now eating steak and eggs in australia god damn them end quote earlier i think we'd mentioned the alamo as a kind of comparison with the situation the texans against the mexicans in that beleaguered little mission that was doomed from the outset commanded by guys like william travis what if instead of dying at
Starting point is 04:24:03 the alamo at the last minute before the big final charge william travis left i'm very important are they need me in washington and listen i shall return just you know make sure you're still here when i get here it'd be a very weird ending to the alamo story wouldn't it in this case macarthur claims in his memoirs if you believe him that he was expecting and wanted to die with the garrison and that even his wife had been asked if she wanted to be evacuated at one of the critical times and she said no and his son's there too and he told the person who said she will share my fate we drink from the same cup it's very dramatic and then he says the head of the philippines dramatically puts his own signet ring on macarthur's finger so that he'll be able to
Starting point is 04:24:44 identify macarthur's body well now macarthur's 4 000 miles away in australia but he still wants the defenders of betan to stick with that plan right we're still gonna die to the last man whether i'm part of that or not and i shall return for this analogy to really be applicable though to macarthur you have to imagine that when william travis got to whatever faraway location he fled to he was still trying to control the defense of the alamo because that's what macarthur's gonna try to do he's never mentally going to let go of the philippines and even though he had his plans to set up a direct micromanagement system from australia which was nixed by president roosevelt and general marshall by the way who said you're not going to control the battle from
Starting point is 04:25:31 4 000 miles away he managed to kind of assume control anyway and by the end of april's going to be made the head of the entire theater anyway so the writing was on the wall so the guy who gets the job after him the poor sap who has to be the losing picture of record here who has to take the loss is our old friend general wainwright who's in the very unenviable position of having douglas macarthur telling him one thing which seems completely disconnected from reality and his sub commanders who are in touch with the actual troops on the ground giving him a healthy dose of you know their reality the long awaited japanese attempt at a knockout blow happens most sources say april third you run into this dateline thing again so some
Starting point is 04:26:16 will say april second the japanese launched the big attack now they have been stockpiling for this they got more than 65 000 troops set up here a bunch of them 15 000 something like that completely fresh they have 80 to 100 aircraft they've amassed they have between 150 and 200 artillery pieces which as i said unusual for the japanese and some of them very heavy siege weapons they have tanks they're ready for this and they start with a bombardment that is very unusual for this front and the philippinos uh john tolan writes in the rising sun have never seen anything like it and the strong point for this battle line is another one of these extinct dormant volcano mountain places and there's a lot of troops on it it's it's it sort of anchors the entire front
Starting point is 04:27:03 and that's what the japanese are going to hit and after a preliminary bombardment of several hours in the mid-morning hours the attack commences john tolan and the rising sun describes it quote at 10 o'clock the firing started the philippinos had never experienced anything so devastating shells seemed to explode on top of each other it reminded american veterans of the heaviest german barrages in world war one bombers of the japanese 22nd air brigade approached unmolested in perfect formation and dropped tons of explosives on the two and a half miles in front of mount samat bamboo groves burst into flame the phenomenon was treated lightly at first men lit cigarettes on the burning trees then brush dry as tinder ignited and the heat became intolerable americans and
Starting point is 04:27:56 philippinos alike leaped from their foxholes and scrambled back to the second line of defense here foliage had been blasted away leaving the ground almost barren and the defenders thought they were safe but a wind sprang up and flames leaped over the cleared area to the lush jungle growth beyond the men were trapped in a circle of fire hundreds were cremated those who escaped fled to the rear like frenzied animals spreading panic end quote i've always found it interesting that the zoom level that you apply to historical events determines the way they sound so that's obviously an on-the-ground level of what the troops are experiencing if you zoom way out and you read encyclopedias of military history and whatnot you just get the bare bones of of what these major
Starting point is 04:28:44 formations are doing but you lose the sense of what's going on to the individual humans but it helps explain sometimes the bare bones in a way that gives you a framework for example in the encyclopedia of military history trevor depuy describes the big japanese knockout blow here at batan this way quote hama reinforced and refitted attacked under cover of incessant air and artillery bombardment bursting through the left flank of second core the japanese forced it back 10 miles in 48 hours on the left first core bent back toward the sea attempted counter attacks but these were easily repulsed second core disintegrated end quote general wainwright will get a note from general macarthur telling him that when the supply situation becomes impossible
Starting point is 04:29:35 there must be no thought of surrender you must attack macarthur's critics have always accused him of trying to get his name in the history books with a grander story his own alamo story and that this has nothing to do with the military situation because the military situation on the ground is something that wainwright is hearing from his sub commanders including general edward king who is the commander on batan and he sends his messenger to wainwright on april seventh telling him that they may have to surrender the response the back and forth here is famous it's heartbreaking and it's recounted in most of the sources but wainwright looks up at this messenger who's a general himself by the way and says you go back and tell general king that there will be no surrender tell him he
Starting point is 04:30:28 will attack those are my orders then there's this long silence and then the general who delivered the message who's been with the troops on batan who knows the score says to general wainwright general you know what the situation is over there you know what the outcome will be and wainwright says i do in a sort of a choked up voice in other words these men now are caught in the gears of history and we're not really so concerned about their specific situation at the moment this is about bigger things and i'll leave it to you to decide which bigger things we're talking about here but the counterattack that those troops are forced to launch in the situations where they do because some of their commanders on the ground say uh uh but the ones who do it's brushed aside easily
Starting point is 04:31:16 the situation is a disaster and general king without telling anyone above him or below him on purpose to spare them the responsibility surrenders seventy eight thousand troops most of them philippino but as we said fifteen seventeen thousand americans whichever number you want to take it is the largest surrender it's considered to be the largest surrender in us army history and king thinks he's going to be court-martialed for this almost certainly he didn't want to tar any of the other people around him with the decision i don't know a lot about general king so it's possible i'm misreading this whole thing but doesn't he look kind of heroic here like he's going to end the suffering finally of these long suffering troops who put in more than
Starting point is 04:32:03 anyone should have asked them to and have resisted longer than anyone thought they could and it's only going to cost him his personal reputation his career uh the embarrassment and tarring and feathering of his descendants the uh destroying of his family name and he comes from a military family and oh yeah the destruction for all history of his reputation he's going to get into that american military history a history book that every general wants to make it into but he's going to be on the page of biggest losers and he's trying to confine the damage to his shoulders alone like i said maybe i don't know the whole story but it seems pretty heroic the very opposite of someone like macarthur who simply seems unable to take responsibility for failure or even admit
Starting point is 04:32:48 that there might be failure general wainwright on the island of caregador when he gets the news about king surrendering doesn't quite see it that way he's bone tired himself by the way but there's a momentary freak out he can't do that make him take it back and all that but the aides inform him that it's too late it's a done deal and wainwright's gonna get a chance to walk a mile in general king's moccasins anyway because within a month he's gonna have to do the very same thing on the island of caregador gonna have to surrender his 10 000 men the marines that are with him because the japanese will have bombed the island for like 27 28 straight days destroyed all the artillery pieces on the island shattered everything above ground and wainwright his staff and these
Starting point is 04:33:33 troops are living in the underground tunnels so they finally come up and there's a photo i recall from memory of the japanese pointing their guns at these they look like staff members if i recall you know from caregador with their hands up and i was always taught to look at the faces of the people in those pictures they're experiencing the most intense moment of their lives right there and then and many of them probably figured they do not have long left to live the general scuttlebut amongst the american troops if you read the primary sources was that the japanese didn't take prisoners now we know from our story here that well sometimes they did and sometimes they didn't but these people don't know which side of the coin flip they're going to be on and i have no
Starting point is 04:34:16 clue at all whether they had heard any rumors about what had happened to their compatriots who had surrendered the month before on batan but if they had heard anything it would have filled them with dread because of the 78 80 000 people who surrendered at batan only about 54 000 ever made it to the final destination the final destination was about 60 to 70 miles away these people mostly had to do that trek on foot you know the condition they were in when they surrendered one of the downsides to fighting to the very end of your strength is that when you surrender you're a basket case in the hands of your captors and what if your captors make you march 60 to 70 miles in 95 degree heat with 90 humidity you're going to have a death march if
Starting point is 04:35:02 there's nothing else involved at all but there's other things involved too sadism there's no other way to put it i had a whole bunch of first-hand accounts from people from the death march i'd actually met one once who couldn't even say the word pow or captive he used the term guest of the emperor and he would say when i was the guest of the emperor but when i looked at these accounts it was interesting it was actually telling all the accounts were about individual japanese soldiers that were just sadistic or torturous or a better word for some of them might be more triumphal we have an idea that troops should behave in a sort of a chivalrous fashion towards enemy troops that they capture but that's not the norm throughout history is it i mean it's
Starting point is 04:35:53 eric berger was talking about how the treatment of captives and pow is developed in europe over several centuries based on a sort of golden rule kind of idea that you know you treat our captives good and we'll treat your captives well right so it was you did it for your own benefit in a way but that that wasn't the shared history everywhere the japanese did not sign all the same agreements on prisoner treatment and they pointed this out sometimes there's also some cultural questions obviously on japanese thoughts on captives and honor and all that sort of stuff but if you're trying to pin this on the same sort of thing you might see on the western front or maybe over in the east where the germans have a homicidal program to wipe out various peoples it's not the
Starting point is 04:36:44 same here you don't have orders from the highest up saying massacre all these people commit all these atrocities you have something more akin to the sort of thing that armies have done to defeat it enemies forever just acting like triumphant jerks i mean you can see videos sometimes or films from surrenders of troops from the 1970s 1980s 90s into the 2000s in some countries where you'll see the victors running up to the line of paraded captives and you know do throat slashing gestures or throw things at them or take them out of line and steal stuff and then beat them and all the time looking for any excuse to shoot anybody well that seems to be more the norm but to us now and even in the mid 1940s it looked barbaric when general king surrendered to his
Starting point is 04:37:35 counterpart he said now you're gonna treat my men well and the counterpart said we are not barbarians well by the standards of the british and the americans you might be if you look at the number of people who died in japanese captivity compared to the number of people who died in german or italian captivity it is a huge difference lord rustle of liverpool was looking at the stats compiled at the tokyo war crimes trials and came up with a doozy now this obviously doesn't include the soviet union or china which would change these numbers immensely but he said a british or american soldier who fell into captivity by the germans or the italians had a four percent chance of dying while in captivity a british or american
Starting point is 04:38:27 soldier who fell into japanese hands had a 27 percent chance of dying before being returned home and it's not even close the most gentle thing you could probably say is that the japanese had a much lower level of priority in terms of attention and resources towards pow's than the other major powers did um the truth is is that guys like general yamashita who led the singapore campaign and general hamma who led this philippines campaign will both be executed by the allies after the war for war crimes and probably neither one of them deserve that if you examine it closely both of those generals i mean hamma had it set up so that there were hospital stops and rest stops and food but only for about 24 25 000 people they had the same problems with the exposure moment
Starting point is 04:39:21 and the acid tests of combat they win but they plan for 25 000 prisoners and they end up with 78 000 well that's going to be chaos anyway isn't it and if it's not your highest priority anyway and if you have quite a few people amongst you that are happy you know behaving the same way that egyptian troops would with captured hitites marched through their capital um your recipe made for a horrific war crime and the stories are all heartbreaking but they're all like you know these are troops who have not had food for days and the japanese didn't feed them but they'd eat in front of them and they'd show them bowls of food or they'd come by on their trucks and they'd smack the line of prisoners in the head with with their rifle butts they would wait for any chance to
Starting point is 04:40:05 to take them out of line and beat them or kill them asking for water could get you killed there's one story and i was surprised to run into it that involves general king himself who just surrendered here he gets to go on the death march too and he doesn't get spared the indignity uh this is the one remembrance i'll do from it because it just shows you that this was about a bunch of captive soldiers that were totally in the powers of their captors and their captors played with them sometimes fatally this quote originally appeared in um mario machi's book under the rising sun memories of a japanese prisoner of war and the survivor he quotes says this quote mile after mile the looting and the beatings continued they cared not who they struck high
Starting point is 04:40:54 ranking officers were no exception i watched one japanese private attack major general king the soldier was so short he had to jump to strike the general in the face with his fist he did it time and time again and the general just stood there guards with pointed rifles waited for us to do something finally the private gave up in disgust and walked away end quote one is tempted to give credence to the japanese excuses about mistakes and and misjudgements and these sorts of things right not being intentional uh but once again even if you have these mistakes if they happen over and over again it becomes more like criminally negligent homicide and lord russell of liverpool in the nights of bushido wrote this about the japanese tendencies quote
Starting point is 04:41:47 from the beginning of the pacific war the generally accepted regulations concerning the custody of prisoners of war and civilian internees were flagrantly disregarded prisoners of war were murdered by shooting decapitation drowning and other methods they died during death marches on which prisoners of war who were sick and quite unfit for any form of exertion were forced to march for long distances in conditions which even fit troops could not have been expected to stand many of those who fell out of the column were shot or bayoneted to death by the escort end quote even reading these atrocities when you read them back to back to back can make you want to pick up a weapon yourself and enlist in the cause of righteousness against
Starting point is 04:42:38 people that would do these kinds of things so you can only imagine what it must have been like for the people actually living this at the same time i'm indebted to some of these historians and authors who made sure to find little shards of humanity in the story and use them to reflect back on the entire situation these sorts of atrocities and these kinds of stories even without the propaganda can put you in a bit of a trance right a red mist clouds your vision and you forget that were it not for these larger issues that human beings have always fought over resources ideologies power politics you know whatever it might be these people probably aren't even in this situation probably have no reason to hate each other and might even be friends and some of these stories
Starting point is 04:43:24 are wonderful one was i forgot where i read it but he talked about a japanese soldier who jumped off of his tank after noticing one of the captives in the batan death march was a classmate from college in the united states and embraced him john toland in the rising sun tells a story of a man of an american captives who who's being having his stuff stripped from him including a ring by a japanese soldier and the officer the japanese officer walks by noticed that the ring is a notar dame class ring strikes the soldier who who took it who looted it in the face gives the ring back and said what year did you graduate and the guy said um 1935 and the japanese soldier says tolan says with a far away looking as i said i graduated from southern california in 35
Starting point is 04:44:14 and you think to yourself why are these people hating each other again unfortunately for all of them there's a massive amount of karmic debt the japanese military here is acquiring that's going to have to be paid off at some point an enormous amount of hate and it's fashionable these days to castigate the allied populations in the latter part of the second world war for being so willing to inflict such crushing damage to the civilian populations of the access powers but if allied populations had hardened hearts by that point in the war it's important to remember what happened in 1941 and 1942 to help harden those hearts in the first place so burro yinaga described this part of the war as being on a roller coaster to disaster
Starting point is 04:45:09 so far the japanese have been trending upward but what goes up must come down the worm will turn and all these karmic debts will be paid in full with interest over the last year or so my work life seems to best resemble an evil keneval motorcycle jump now i don't mean one of those jumps where evil makes it to the other side and everybody's happy and we celebrate and we interview evil afterwards i mean one of those jumps where evil was convinced he's going to be able to pull this off no problem all those buses sure i visualized it many times and then evil goes flying off that ramp at 100 miles per hour he hits the air he's about halfway over these buses and you're thinking to yourself this guy's gonna make it he's gonna pull it off
Starting point is 04:46:07 he gets about two-thirds of the way over those buses and you can see the momentum starts to lag a little bit you go uh-oh a little bit farther in your brain's doing the mental calculations and you think he's not gonna make it and sure enough before the other ramp boom onto the buses rolls about 20 times breaks every bone in his body metaphorically speaking that's what the last year feels like for me and i have to say metaphorically speaking because there are people out there who really got injured in the last year and i don't want to be insensitive but it was one of those career years where i feel like i aged in dog years or president years and the real twist in the knife of the whole thing is that i didn't get out more podcasts because of it i got less
Starting point is 04:46:43 podcasts out but i have an excuse and i hope it helps at least mollify your feelings towards me it is involved in this whole idea of thinking i can keep all these plates spinning and being wrong but i have a problem dealing with outside opportunity has always been a problem for people who have really labor intensive podcasts so i'm not alone in that there's not a lot of slack in most of those people's schedules but sometimes the opportunities are too good to pass up so you convince yourself like evil can evil that you can jump those 20 buses and then you end up breaking every metaphorical bone in your body so uh the shows have been few and far between we're going to try to change that in 2020 get back on the podcast horse and really make up for lost
Starting point is 04:47:26 time the excuse that i have hopefully mollifies all the feelings you may have about this a little bit and that is that we do have uh something to show for the time that uh was not spent on the podcast enough i have a book available if you want it people have been asking for a book for a long time they've been asking for any kind of text format for hardcore history and they want transcripts and i always say the only reason they want transcripts is because they've never seen transcripts i've seen them you don't want them the reaction i have when i read the transcripts is holy cow do i really talk like that so any text form uh any translation into a foreign language all of this stuff's going to have to be done in some sort of book form and i have a book for you it's called the end is always
Starting point is 04:48:10 near apocalyptic moments from the bronze age collapse to nuclear near misses i wrote this over the last year and a half it involves a lot of the same research dna if you will that we use for the podcast it's part of what made that possible right not having to go and start from scratch although to be honest in some of these stories uh the the information has changed so much since we did shows on them and it was back in the days when we did really short shows sometimes so we have a chapter on the bronze age collapse for example and we did a show called darkness buries the bronze age years ago there's no resemblance i mean there's so much has changed but if you've heard all of our podcasts some of the dna the research material the narrative
Starting point is 04:48:50 will be familiar but we tie it in to this uh subject matter that i kind of vaguely knew i was interested in but the editors forced me to sort of confront in the same way that i can sit there and go sure i have torture books on my bookshelf but that doesn't mean anything the editors said uh why don't you sit down assemble all your shows on the floor and look at them and find out if you can see any connecting threads right some some dna that ties all of the subject matter together and it's like doing an inkblot test for some psychologist or something you go wow really and it's all the stuff you know and love statue of liberty in the sand civilizations being knocked back to an earlier level of technology do tough times make tough people all the stuff that we
Starting point is 04:49:32 sort of revel in and uh somebody told me once when i was starting the book gave me some good advice said any good book should have an argument that you lay out like a hypothesis and then you should argue it and then at the end you should come up with a conclusion and make your point and stand by it and i thought oh man that i'm in real trouble because you know me i mean that would that would be so foreign to the people who listen to the hardcore history show because well as a journalist i'm more of a questions kind of person and as a fan of history i'm not going to be your answer kind of person so this book focuses on all those questions that i love and they're questions that people have been examining since ancient greek philosophers and way before so they're important
Starting point is 04:50:11 questions but they're not necessarily answerable ones i mean can mankind handle the power of their weapon system that is both an important and unanswerable question but it doesn't make examining it any less valuable because you don't come up with an obvious answer right so the book is that kind of stuff for those who want to know if we did an audiobook version of it we did i recorded it and i would be interested in hearing from those of you who hear it if you notice any difference between it and the normal podcast because the normal podcast are totally unscripted when i voice the audiobook you have to be word perfect so it's essentially very scripted be curious to find out which version you prefer or if you even notice a difference uh the book is available
Starting point is 04:50:58 at the end of october you can pre-order it now as we said the end is always near apocalyptic moments from the bronze age collapse to nuclear near misses now the other project just leaving austin i think we just wrapped up it was the first official gig it showed up at the tribeca film festival in a stripped down form uh then just went to austin i don't know where it's going next but check warremains.com for more info it's our world war one immersive memory is the way we like to call it i like to call it 15 minutes in hell uh it's the world war one virtual reality destination experience where you go there and the whole environment is controlled by us including the big floor speakers that skywalker sound put together and all those kind of things i call it
Starting point is 04:51:39 15 minutes in hell because they wouldn't let me call it three and a half hours in hell first of all it would cost as much as a star wars movie or something like that the second thing is is that we got big full grown men tapping out sometimes at 12 minutes which i don't understand a bunch of wimps but it's true so maybe three and a half hours in hell would be inviting some sort of post-traumatic stress problems nonetheless people went the comments are great we really appreciate it go to warremains.com if you want to stay updated on where it might be appearing near you thank you for going folks thank you for your patience in getting this out um old evils gonna pull himself back out of the dust brush himself off get right back on that motorcycle jump a ravine
Starting point is 04:52:19 probably with a hardcore history addendum show real soon thank you everybody coming up earlier we compared the surprise attack at pearl harbor to one professional wrestler attacking another popular good guy wrestler while his back was turned before the bell rings well the part of the story so far has been where the surprise attacker is kicking the popular wrestler senseless but at some point if you know that script the popular good guy will regain their wit stand up and begin to issue payback i've seen this happen in real boxing matches before where one fighter will come out and pummel the other one mercilessly until the losing fighter will land one of those blows that completely changes the complexion of the rest of the fight
Starting point is 04:53:17 that stuns the opponent and stays with them they never quite are the same afterwards and it turns the entire tables and momentum and everything well that's what's going to happen to the japanese after a particularly disastrous day at sea in 1942 all that and more in part four of supernova in the east

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