Wednesday, December 14, 2016

To Bataan and Back

‘Why do the American people at home parade and rejoice in the glory of “all out” war when these poor devils here daily watch the seas and skies for the aid of the US which now appears too late. I have held hope all along for something to happen to get this mess straightened out and, mind you, I still have hope, but the situation is desperate.’ This is from the diary of Thomas Dooley, aide-de-camp to General Wainwright, commander of the Allied forces in the Philippines, on the day the Japanese took Bataan, the last remaining American stronghold in the region. The quote is taken from To Bataan and Back: The World War II Diary of Major Thomas Dooley, being published today by Texas A&M University.

Dooley was born in McKinney, Texas, in 1913. He studied engineering at the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas (now Texas A&M University) - thus he’s often referred to as a Texas Aggie. After graduating in 1935, he signed 
up early the following year for active duty as a second lieutenant with the US Army, heading a Civilian Conservation Corps for six months. A year with the 2nd Squadron of the 12th Cavalry was followed by jobs in the oil industry. In 1940, he was reactivated for duty, and soon joined the 26th Cavalry in the Philippines, arriving in May 1941.

Dooley was assigned as aide-de-camp to Major General Jonathan M. Wainwright, commander of the Philippine Division, south of Manila. Later in the year, though, Wainwright was named as commander of North Luzon Force, and moved his HQ to Stotsenburg. Early on, Dooley was awarded the Silver Star for actions during the bombing of Clark Field in the Luzon region. He continued to serve with Wainwright through the Corregidor and Bataan campaigns, but was captured and held as prisoner of war for over three years. Following his release, he was a witness to the surrender of the Japanese on board the USS Missouri.

In the midst of bombings, in April 1942, with the Japanese about to overrun the Allies on Corregidor (a small Philippine island off the coast of Bataan), Dooley help compile a list of 25 Aggies on the island, and the artillery commander held an Aggie Muster (a long-standing tradition of the university to pause for a moment and remember and honour the dead). Dooley told a journalist about the muster, and the resulting article received massive coverage in the US, thus forever connecting Dooley to the enduring Aggie tradition.

Dooley remained in the army for the rest of his career, receiving a 
Distinguished Service Medal, with roles ranging from a Combat Command at Fort Hood, Texas, to a three-year assignment overseeing Fire Support Elements in Naples, Italy; his final positions were Chief of Staff of the Armored Command and Deputy Post Commander at Fort Knox, Kentucky. He died in 2006. There is only limited information about Dooley available on the internet, but he is mentioned on the Texas A&M Corps of Cadets website, on a chat thread at Free Republic, and on the Wikipedia page about the Aggie Muster.

Indeed, it is partly (or even mostly) thanks to Tooley’s role in the Aggie Muster on Corregidor that his diaries came to light, and have now been published - today, in fact, by Texas A&M University Press, as 
To Bataan and Back: The World War II Diary of Major Thomas Dooley. They were transcribed and edited by Jerry C. Cooper who explains, in his introduction, how he had been seeking permission to use a speech given by Dooley about the muster to the Texas A&M campus, when he asked about the diaries. And, subsequently, the family sent him copies, and agreed to Cooper transcribing, and possibly, publishing them. Following Dooley’s death the six small notebook diaries were turned over to the Texas A&M University Archives.

Texas A&M University Press says: ‘[Tooley’s] journals reveal the inside story of the battles of Bataan and Corregidor and with it the capture, imprisonment, and struggle for survival of tens of thousands of American prisoners of war. Dooley’s journals - dutifully maintained even as he was a prisoner - are at once witty, articulate, stark, and often reflective.’

To Bataan and Back is very handsomely produced with a good number of photographs, maps, glossary and an index. 
Dooley writes his diary with some flare and humour, but, still, this is largely a book for those interested in the Pacific theatre of WWII. Cooper supplies useful context information in italics through the text (rather than using footnotes), and there is a foreword by Col. James Edwin Ray. Cooper also provides a few facts about Dooley’s life before and after the war, but a more detailed and considered biography would have been useful and interesting. 

Here are a few extracts from Dooley’s diaries - with many thanks to Texas A&M University Press.

11 December 1941
‘Another air raid today. No casualties and little damage done. Casualties on Monday’s raid have been totaled - 82 dead and about 110 wounded. 29 dead were civilians - poor little Carenderas that worked near Batchelors Building. We are getting Jap planes down though. Lots of them are being hit and the Japs toss out equipment to lighten the load so they can get as far back toward their base as possible. Quite a few have been brought down near here though. One plane shot down near Mabalacat (east of Stotsenburg) and Chaplain [Maj. John E] Duffy brought a gun from it to G-2 section. Workmanship crude but they still fire. He reported that natives had buried the pilot and said he was man of larger size than the Chaplain which indicates he was a German. Planes in today’s raid carried Swastika markings. The Nazis have planned and directed the execution of all this. It (especially Monday) was too methodical and timely. My appetite has doubled. For breakfast, even, which prior to “this” consisted of coffee and toast - now consists of fruit, coffee, toast, bacon + eggs and anything else within reach. Am still sleeping like a log when I hit the bunk.’

15 December 1941
‘My intentions are to keep some sort of running account of what goes on in this fracas. Not a diary nor a memorandum, but a cross between the two. I am one week late in getting this poop on the go - that is, it will be one week old in about four hours. My turn came up as Duty Officer from 12:00 midnight to 8:00 a.m. and the routine being very quiet tonight I can get this under way. Corporal Molina, Battery A, 24th Field Artillery (Philippine Scouts) is the Non-Commissioned Officer on duty and he has just shown me a copy of the radiogram signed by General MacArthur saying “a state of war exists between the US and the government of Germany, Japan and Italy”.’

8 April 1942
Bataan fell! [Dooley added this entry in the top margin after recording the event.]
‘A new day which I hope proves to be no worse than yesterday. The II Corps pulled back during the night to a line approximately thru Lumao. All Filipino troops have disintegrated except about one regiment. The I Corps will have to pull back to conform. They (the Nips) continue their bombing of the new areas. These must be some salvation for the Americans on Bataan. Why do the American people at home parade and rejoice in the glory of “all out” war when these poor devils here daily watch the seas and skies for the aid of the US which now appears too late. I have held hope all along for something to happen to get this mess straightened out and, mind you, I still have hope, but the situation is desperate. The reports all day are bad. I took report at 7:00 p.m. which means the end of Bataan. Col. [James V.] Collier called from G-3 Luzon Force and said that Philippine Army troops on right flank of II Corps line had fled and the Japs pouring thru. Proved to be double envelopment as Nips were also coming around II Corps left flank. Col. Irwin (G-3) and Col. Galbraith (G-4) went to Bataan this p.m. with plans for evacuation of certain units to “Rock.” During night Ordnance + Engineers busy destroying ammunition + other such few supplies as need be.

Gen. Wainwright in conference most of day with Chief of Staff Gen. Lewis Beebe (who is quite sound). Gen. Wainwright quite upset. Two days ago Gen. Funk came to “Rock” for Gen. Edward King to say he was going to capitulate. Gen. Wainwright gave two direct orders - one - do not surrender - two - attack with I Corps toward East. Later the second order was modified. Last night when things looked so bad and plans for evacuation of certain units were made and order was given to Gen. (I Corps) to make a frontal attack with his Corps and attack Olongapo. Went to bed about 1:00 p.m. Frank Hewlett, United Press, wanted me to wait up and see the Bataan episode, but I didn’t want to watch it. I feel sick when I think of it and feel that I should be there with them, but I started this war with the General (and before it) and will stay around ’til ordered differently.’

22 December 1942
‘Pretty day - sunshine - Inspection 1:00 p.m. by Jap Quartermaster general. Breakfast + dinner - no good. Supper better - some gabi today - bridge - Gen. Wainwright sent Xmas greetings to English + Dutch. Choir + octette practice. Thoughts of home at this time make me ache.’

17 January 1943
‘Been here 5 months today. Today is memorable in that we had tripe for supper (in the soup). B.P. went down and made the arrangements at the slaughter house where they are killing beef for the Japanese army. He got for us the heart, liver, and stomach of the beef. We had tripe at supper and promise of heart, liver, + kidney for breakfast. “Edible awful” is the term some applied to our meal. Other than that the day was uneventful with inspection and church in a.m. and bridge in p.m. A cold day.’

14 April 1943
‘Distribution of Corned beef from the Red Cross started today. For first month we will receive 3 oz. corned beef per day; 1# sugar per week. We will get 1/2# cocoa + 1# salt per month. The Corned beef is Argentine beef and is wonderful. This small amount of Red Cross real food is remarkably raising the morale of everyone.’

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