MACK WILLIAMS. General Macarthur, the Philippines and Australian troops in WWII.

Nov 7, 2016


The very good Boston Globe article reminded me of two other events in Philippines history of WW11 about which so little is known in Australia. They have some relevance to the contemporary scene.

For a long time prior to the famous Macarthur landing in Leyte, the Australian Government lobbied Washington right up to the President for our 7th Division to be included in the invasion force. Macarthur steadfastly refused even when so directed by the White House. The result was that the AIF’s 7th Division was separated out of the invasion fleet and sent to Borneo (many ending up in Sandakan).  But their supply ships continued on to the Leyte Gulf which involved the largest ever naval force Australia has ever put to sea! How things could have been different!

The only foreigners involved in the very active resistance movement against the Japanese in Mindanao were some Australians who had escaped from Sandakan through Sibutu. They set up first in the hills of Tawi Tawi ( a slightly bigger island to the north). When MacArthur despatched some American commandos by submarine to Tawi Tawi to take command the Philippines guerillas would not let them land. They told him that they wanted to work with the Australians. All the Australians who stayed on were eventually captured and executed by the Japanese.

Mack Williams was former Ambassador to the Philippines.

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