Illinois at War, 1941-1945
A Selection of Documents from the Illinois State Archives

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September 20, 1942


Separate Japanese forces launched attacks on American installations on Guam, Wake and the Philippine islands as well as British positions in Hong Kong, Borneo and the Malay Peninsula during the first few days following the initial surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. The Philippines were attacked beginning December 8. Successive Japanese air bombardments and amphibious assaults forced American and Philippine soldiers into a siege position after December 23 on the Bataan Peninsula between Subic and Manila bays. The defenders could not be relieved and President Roosevelt ordered Commanding General Douglas MacArthur to evacuate his person to Australia on February 22, 1942. With food and ammunition exhausted, Allied forces surrendered the peninsula on April 9. The fortress Island of Corregidor laying offshore held out until May 6. After the fall of Bataan the Japanese moved American and Philippine prisoners sixty-five miles inland to San Fernando. On that "death march" many perished as they were led away without food or water and beaten or bayoneted if they could not keep up. Thousands died on the march and in prisoner of war camps where conditions were deplorable.

Hedda Hopper was a popular Hollywood gossip columnist and radio commentator who frequently laced drama into her articles and broadcasts.

Most Japanese civilians and soldiers considered their Emperor Hirohito to be a god. Their fascist state concurrently served as their religion and for them their waging of war was divinely ordained. In this country the war was less well regarded but it was viewed as a higher cause with wasteful strikes over wages and hours and unfair industrial profiteering considered unpatriotic.

Points to Consider

Who was Hedda Hopper?

Who was MacArthur?

What did "the American prisoners on Bataan" refer to?

What did "a patriotism that's a national religion" refer to?

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