War Plan Orange and Rainbow 5

The war was going particularly badly in December 1941 for the combined Filipino and American forces. It was clear that the Japanese were in control of the coastal area of the Philippines. On Christmas Day 1941, General MacArthur made a difficult call when he ordered all troops to retreat from the beach defenses and go to Bataan and Corregidor. This decision was based on a plan called War Plan Orange. Find out why MacArthur felt that the plan was “defeatist,” and why he pressured the War Department to approve an alternative plan, Rainbow 5. What were the particulars of Rainbow 5? Who was to be involved in it? What was the theory behind the plan? Why wasn’t it executed? Indicate on the map below the territory that would have been affected by implementing the Rainbow 5 plan? 


“I Shall Return”

By March 1942, the Japanese had managed to conquer, or were close to adding to their score card, the following territories: the Admiralty Islands, the Bismarck Archipelago, Borneo, Burma, the Caroline Islands, the Gilbert Islands, the Mariana Islands, Malaya, and the Solomon Islands. By the end of December 1942, the Japanese bombed Manila, the capital of the Philippines. Food supplies were sparse since they were being shared between the Filipino-American troops and civilian refugees. In the early months of 1942, fierce battles were fought as the combined troops worked hard to hold off the Japanese. By March it was clear that the Philippines would be lost to the Japanese. Consequently, President Roosevelt ordered MacArthur to leave the Philippines on March 11, to move to Australia. Upon his departure he uttered words that have become famous in the annals of the war, “I Shall return.” Report on the significance of this order, the importance of MacArthur strategizing a new plan for holding Australia and winning back the Philippines. 


The Philippine Scouts

The Philippine Scouts date back to 1901 when they were organized to suppress rebels in the southern Philippine islands. During this time period the Philippines were under colonial rule of the U.S., as a result of an agreement reached at the Treaty of Paris, following the Spanish American War in 1899.   Because of the Scouts’ service and valor, the U.S. Congress authorized that they be inducted into the regular U.S. Army. 

Research the history of the Philippines between the time of U.S. colonial rule through the partial rule given to the country in 1905, the U.S. commonwealth status granted in 1935, to the planned full independence of 1946. Consider what impact World War II had on the islands and the role that the Philippine Scouts had on the defense of Bataan, and the war generally. 


            Willibald Bianchi                      Jose Calugas                   Alexander Ramsey Nininger

Three Heroes of the Philippine Scouts

It was the role of the Philippine Scouts to stand in opposition to the Japanese who began to land at the Lingayen Gulf in the Philippines in late 1941. Their fight continued through to the Battle of Bataan in April 1942. Three Medals of Honor, America’s highest award for combat valor, went to three outstanding warriors for their defense of Bataan. Willibald Bianchi of the 45th Infantry, Jose Calugas, Sr., the first Filipino ever to earn a Medal of Honor, and First Lieutenant Alexander Ramsey Nininger, of the 57th Infantry, the first member of his West Point class to die in combat. Calugas was only one of the three to survive the war. Investigate the lives of these three individuals and report on their achievements in the field of service to their countries.

He Returned

MacArthur, true to his word, returned to the Philippines in October of 1944, landing at Leyte. Research the importance of his return, the steps leading up to his landing in the Philippines, and the important role played by the Filipino guerrilla force.


Thousands of American Bataan Death March prisoners-of-war were sent to Japan via freighters, many of which were bombed and torpedoed. The soldiers who survived were forced to work in coal and zinc mines, in manufacturing war supplies for the enemy. The 200th and 515th Coast Artillery are two units whose warriors endured the Bataan March. Some survived the ordeal and aftermath. Use the internet to find the stories of those men who were taken as slave-laborers.

American Prisoners-of-War on the Bataan Death March
The Cruelty of War

Much has been written about the cruelty of war, and indeed about the atrocities that occurred during the Bataan Death March. Why were the prisoners treated with such cruelty? Consider the factors:

  • General Homma’s specific orders were to treat the POWs “humanely.”
  • The majority of Japanese soldiers were of a low-rank and they too suffered terribly during the war.
  • The Japanese viewed surrender as a disgrace.
  • There were not enough officers to supervise the march.
  • Many Japanese officers felt they were superior to U.S. soldiers.

Given these issues how might you explain the ill-treatment of the soldiers? With what questions are you left after you have thought through an explanation? What examples can you give from current warfare that seems to have roots based on extenuating circumstances?

Checking Out the Links

Conduct Under Fire—a website that introduces the book, Conduct Under Fire, also links to a comprehensive number of other sites and organizations that deal with the Death March of Bataan and other related topics.

PBS: The American Experience—offers a number of interviews with Bataan survivors

YouTube—original footage of The Bataan March with testimonies from survivors by Hinson Films

PBS: The War—Near Execution—part of the Ken Burns’ series on the Second World War

PBS: For Veterans Only—Remembering Bataan—powerful original footage with individual stories highlighted