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It had been two and a half difficult years since General Douglas MacArthur had reluctantly obeyed a presidential order to abandon his American and Filipino forces on the Bataan Peninsula and slip away to Australia to organize the Allied resistance. From Australia, he had famously vowed to return to liberate the Philippines. And the people had believed his vow, their faith in him almost spiritual. Believers snuck out at night to paint his words on city walls; resisters secretly printed them on matchbook covers and gum wrappers and carried the oath in their pockets.
The Philippine Islands were among the most important strongholds for the preservation of the Japanese Empire. As consequential as New Guinea had been, the Empire faced inevitable defeat if the Philippines were lost. The more than 7,000 islands of the archipelago dominated the shipping lanes that brought much needed oil to the home islands from the resource rich East Indies. The Commander-in-Chief of the Japanese Combined Fleet said he was willing to sacrifice every ship in his fleet to prevent MacArthur from regaining control of the Philippines. The fleet would be useless, he said, without the East Indies fuel.
Return to Victory is the story of MacArthur’s liberation of the Philippines as told from the perspectives of the three major combatants: the Americans, the Japanese, and the Filipinos themselves. It will examine the strategic and tactical aspects of the campaign through the participation of the soldiers, sailors, and airmen, as well as the experiences of leaders such as General MacArthur, Admiral Halsey, General Walter Krueger, General George Kenney, Admiral Kinkaid, Colonel Ruberto Kangleon, and General Yamashita.
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