Marines in World War II Commemorative Series
Arrival in the Philippines
The 1st Separate Marine Battalion
Preparing for War
Bombing of Cavite
Concentration at Mariveles
Christmas Day
Defenses of Manila Bay
First Bombing
Battle of the Points
The Bombardment Continues
The Formation of the 4th Battalion
1st Battalion Defenses
Japanese Preparations
The Landing
Movement of the Regimental Reserve
Attack of the 4th Battalion
Morning Battle
Special Subjects
The Marine Rearguard on Bataan
Marine Detachment, Air Warning Service
The Bataan Death March

FROM SHANGHAI TO CORREGIDOR: Marines in the Defense of the Philippines
by J. Michael Miller

Preparing for War

On 3 December, Colonel Howard reported to Admiral Hart in Manila to discuss the mission of the regiment. The 4th Marines was put under the command of Rear Admiral Francis W. Rockwell, commanding the 16th Naval District, and given the mission of protecting the naval stations on the island of Luzon, primarily Olongapo and the Navy Section Base at Mariveles. The Commander-in-Chief, Asiatic Fleet, stressed a more important mission to Howard. That mission was to prepare his men for mobile field operations. Hart also underscored the proximity to war with the Japanese.

(click on image for an enlargement in a new window)

Howard returned and informed his staff that Hart felt that war was only "a matter of days if not hours away." Howard emphasized the point by emphatically stating, "We will be at war with the Japanese within a week." After the staff had left, he revealed to Major Reginald H. "Bo" Ridgely the anticipated finality of their mission, saying, "they would never see their families again."

Members of the 4th Marines debark
Members of the 4th Marines debark at the Olongapo Navy Yard. National Archives

On 5 December, Colonel Howard attended a meeting with Admiral Rockwell at the Cavite Navy Yard to discuss the immediate preparations for war. Rockwell ordered him to send one battalion of Marines to Mariveles as a guard for that installation. The following day a reconnaissance was made of the Mariveles area, camp sites were selected, and preparations made to deploy Lieutenant Colonel Beecher's 1st Battalion there by sea on 8 December.

working party unloads gear
A working party unloads the accumulated gear brought by the 4th Marines to the Philippines. Department of Defense Photo (USMC) COR-11003

On 7 December, Colonel Howard put into effect a combat training schedule for the regiment. Marine Barracks, Olongapo, was reduced in strength with men transferred to the 4th Marines, but Howard retained the organization to allow for a constant defense of the yard, releasing Lieutenant Colonel Herman R. "Red" Anderson's 2d Battalion for quick movement into the field.

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Commemorative Series produced by the Marine Corps History and Museums Division