MacArthur and the battle for The Philippines

MacArthur and the battle for The Philippines

Hell and High Water

Battlefield Tours

MacArthur and the battle for The Philippines

Hell and High Water

Battlefield Tours

Your Holiday Essentials

Winter 2023
(12 Days)

Activity Level: 2

Use the button below to register your interest in this tour

click here to register your interest

Register your interest in this tour using the link below and we will keep you updated on the historian, price and departure dates.

click here to register your interest

Tour Introduction

“The days of frontal assault are over”. So said Douglas MacArthur on 26th July 1944 as he assiduously planned for his ‘return’ to the Philippines some three years after he had escaped them. He had anticipated ending his life in the forlorn defence of Bataan, the last bastion of his beloved islands, but instead in March 1942 Roosevelt instructed him to direct the defence of Australia and build a Southwest Pacific Army with which to take the fight to the Japanese. Initial blunders aside, through a series of skilful amphibious assaults, feints and leapfrogging strongpoints that would “wither on the vine” he had wrested control of New Guinea and its outlying islands by the middle of 1944. Combining ULTRA intelligence, his own prescience and meticulous planning, he then embarked on a masterly six-month campaign of manoeuvre reminiscent of that of Napoleon which would fulfil his promise to “return” and liberate the Philippines, one that contrasted sharply with the direct approach of Nimitz’s Marines in the Central Pacific. In the face of an overwhelming Japanese army of occupation he would conduct seaborne landings which were comparable in scale to that of D-Day in Normandy: first on Leyte and then three months later at Lingayen Gulf. While the fighting on Luzon would continue until the end of the war, by March 1945 he was back in Manila, although a suicidal defence by Japanese sailors would ensure that the city was no longer the one he had once known.

Background

In a comprehensive assessment of the defence and recovery of the Philippines and Douglas MacArthur’s inextricable relationship with those islands, this tour visits the two main islands that saw most of the fighting. On Luzon we start in the capital where we find the haunts of American and Spanish colonial past and discuss MacArthur’s pre-war life and influences. We trace the heroic resistance on the Bataan peninsula, explore the lynchpin of its defence on the little rocky island of Corregidor and follow the route of the ensuing cruel Bataan Death March to internment. From the lofty heights above the Surigao Strait and aboard the ferry crossing to Leyte, we discuss the largest naval battle of the Second World War, that of Leyte Gulf. At Red Beach outside of Tacloban we will stand in MacArthur’s footsteps on Red Beach where he proclaimed, “I have returned”, walk those beachheads and follow the breakout up to Breakneck Ridge. Returning to Luzon we stroll along the Lingayen Gulf beaches and drive into the northern mountainous jungle terrain tenaciously defended by the Japanese. And like MacArthur our visit to the island ends with an approach to Manila stopping en-route at the scene of ‘The Great Raid’, the audacious liberation of POWs at Cabanatuan, and at the Manila internment camp at Santo Tomas.

Travel will be by road, sea and air: be prepared for some long days, travel along uneven roads and the infamous Manila traffic. Whilst we will be staying at the best of hotels in Manila, elsewhere we will stay at the best available. Due to current FCDO advice, all participants will be required to sign an insurance liability waiver.

What's Included

  • 5 Star Hotel
  • 3 Star Hotels
  • A three-course dinner party each evening hosted by your expert historian and tour manager
  • All lunches
  • Buffet breakfast each morning
  • Entrance fees for all site visits
  • Internal flight(s)
  • Return flights from London
  • The company of like-minded travelers
  • Dedicated Tour Manager
  • Local travel in modern, comfortable, air-conditioned coach

"War's very object is victory, not prolonged indecision. In war there is no substitute for victory"

General Douglas MacArthur

Itinerary

Day 1. Outward Travel.
Depart London for overnight flight to Manila.

Day 2. Arrival.
Arrive Manila early evening. Check-in to the Manila Hotel for two nights. The hotel, which served as home to the MacArthurs prior to the outbreak of war in the Philippines, houses a small museum about their time in residence.

Day 3. Manila.
From our base in the heart of this busy city we explore its colonial centre, Intramuros, which despite, the virtual levelling of the city in 1945, still boasts walls and fortifications. We’ll see the HQ in the House in the Wall on Victoria Street, Fort Santiago and watch the sun setting over Manila Bay.

Day 4. Bataan.
Follow the belated implementation of War Plan Orange: the vital Calumpit bridge; delaying actions around Baliuag, Plaridel and along the Pampanga river; the First Line of Defence memorial; the Battle of the Pockets along the Orion-Bagac Line; the stunning vista from atop Mt Samat; and Maj-Gen King’s surrender site and museum at Balanga. Continue to Bagac for the night.

Day 5. Death March
Walk the first kilometre from KM0 to KM1 to the Japanese Friendship Tower. Visit San Fernando rail station, the end point of the Death March from where GIs boarded trains to Camp O’Donnell. Visit the Bamban WW2 Museum en-route to the Capas National Shrine which commemorates the Allied soldiers who died on the march and in internment. Return to Manila for two nights.

Day 6. Corregidor.
Travelling by ferry we spend the whole day exploring the fortress island known as ‘The Rock’. Visits include the Malinta Tunnel, the Memorial Museum, Mile Long Barracks and the many memorials and remnants of fortifications.

Day 7. Battle of Leyte Gulf.
An early start and a long travel day. Fly to Surigao and drive to the Surigao Strait Memorial with its magnificent views towards Leyte Gulf from where we can discuss the eponymous naval battle, the largest in WW2. Cross the strait by ferry and drive the length of Leyte to Tacloban our base for the next two nights.

Day 8. The Return.
A full day exploring the battle of Leyte: A-Day landing beaches including MacArthur Landing Park at Red Beach with its iconic statue ensemble, Hill 522 for stunning views of X Corps landings and Dulag where XXIV Corps came ashore. We follow the drive through the Leyte Valley to Carigara and follow the coastal route to Breakneck Ridge. The day ends in Tacloban outside the ‘Price Mansion’, MacArthur’s HQ during the battle.

Day 9. S-Day Lingayen Gulf.
Fly from Tacloban to Clark Field where we visit the Clark Veterans Cemetery before we drive to Lingayen Gulf to view the landing beaches of 6 – 9 January 1945. Although the landings were on a comparable in scale to Normandy, incredibly there is little evidence of this momentous event. We explore Lingayen Beach from where we can gaze right across the gulf and visit the Veterans Memorial Park. Check-in to our Dagupan hotel for one night.

Day 10. Japanese at Bay.
Balete Pass was the site of many of the long-drawn out battles in the north of Luzon. From the eponymous Dalton Pass where the US general was killed by a sniper, we gain a great vista of the terrain tenaciously defended by Yamashita. Thence to Cabanatuan American Memorial and the site of Pangatian POW camp to discuss The Great Raid of 30 January 1945. Return to The Manila Hotel for the last two nights of the tour.

Day 11. Liberation.
We visit Santo Tomas University campus, The Manila Internment Camp, the liberation of which was prioritised by MacArthur. Thence to the Malacanang Palace with its exhibits relating to presidents of the Philippines. There will be some free time for personal exploration or last-minute shopping.

Day 12. Commemoration & Home
A late morning checkout. Pay our respects and remember the sacrifices made by over 17,000 servicemen buried and many more remembered at The Manila American Cemetery and Memorial. Continue to Manila Airport for our return flights.

Your Holiday Essentials

Winter 2023
(12 Days)

Activity Level: 2

Use the button below to register your interest in this tour

click here to register your interest

Register your interest in this tour using the link below and we will keep you updated on the historian, price and departure dates.

click here to register your interest

Photo Gallery

tours by datethemesperiodsdestinations

direct link

Subscribe to Our E-Newsletter

For up to date news as well as details about all of our tours please subscribe to our fortnightly e-newsletter by entering your name and e-mail address below ...