Lacking sufficient food and supplies, the men on Bataan did what they could to resist the Japanese advance. Without guidance from much-needed engineers, the defenders sabotaged wooden bridges (by spreading straw - in preparation for setting them on fire), destroyed steel bridges and prepared temporary bridges for themselves.
Although they continued to fall back, the Americans (pictured here in a Bataan foxhole) and Filipinos continued to hold Bataan. Japanese propaganda, aimed at severing the united defense, failed. Bitterly, however, someone penned these words about saving the peninsula:
...saved for another day
Saved for hunger and wound and heat
For slow exhaustion and grim retreat
For a wasted hope and a sure defeat.
From the safety of Australia - where one of his officers on Bataan (Brigadier General William Brougher) observed the general was likely “eating steak and eggs” - MacArthur sent a no-surrender message to Wainwright:
I am utterly opposed under any circumstances or conditions to the ultimate capitulation of this command. If food fails, you will prepare and execute an attack upon the enemy.
Despite messages of encouragement which MacArthur sent to his troops, many junior officers and enlisted men in the Philippines were extremely upset about MacArthur’s departure. Feeling abandoned not just by their country, but also by their General, they wrote and circulated poems criticizing MacArthur.
Was “Dugout Doug” a sellout? Why should they heed what he had to say?
In Australia’s fresh clime,
he took out the time
to send us a message of cheer.
My heart, he began,
Goes out to Bataan,
But the rest of me’s
Staying right here.
The plight of the men on Bataan and Corregidor worsened.
Some had learned Japan controlled the Pacific - which meant that supply convoys would likely not arrive. Without more food, reinforcements and other assistance, they could not hold out, despite orders to the contrary. They could fight on, but all would surely die.
Surrender seemed to be the only option.