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1939-1945: Turning the Abucay Line
by Patrick Graham


Abucay Hacienda, Philippines, 10 Jan. 1942
On the 9th of January in 1942, The Imperial Japanese forces invading The Philippines launched an offensive into the Bataan Peninsula in the hopes of encircling and destroying the last of the American Forces on the island. After the raid on Pearl Harbor, General MacArthur had enacted War Plan Orange-3, which called for withdrawing armed forces personnel into Bataan and Corregidor to mount a defense, abandoning the rest of the Philippines. The Bataan Peninsula flanked the west side of Manila Bay, insulating it from the South China Sea. It was unforgiving and mountainous terrain, perfect for forming a defensive line.

Upon the invasion of the Philippines, MacArthur had placed the North Luzon Force under the command of General Wainright. This force would bring the battle for the Philippines to the only defensible points among the islands, Bataan and Corregidor. A fighting retreat began as Macarthur’s forces drew toward Bataan. Defensive actions in the first week of January at the Guagua Line and Layac Junction could only buy time as the outnumbered and undersupplied defenders were mercilessly pounded by Japanese armor, artillery and airpower. It was not until they were in Bataan itself that they could find favorable terrain to defend. The American soldiers set up a defensive line that straddled the Calaguiman and Salian Rivers and was anchored at the village of Abucay.

Commanding the Japanese Invasion Force was General Homma. The invasion swiftly brought most of Luzon under Japanese control and the General wished for a quick conclusion to the campaign, especially since most of the defenders were now holed up on the Bataan peninsula. However, the American and Philippine soldiers were not about to give up. Holding the Pensula for as long as possible would cost Imperial Japan an inordinate amount of resources. Homma was given no choice but to grind down the defenders in the unforgiving mountains and jungles of the Peninsula. After desultory probing attacks on the 9th, the 141st Infantry Division sent out its 2nd Battalion in order to turn the flank of the 51st Infantry Division at the Abucay Hacienda. The Japanese soldiers would run into the 3rd battalion of this Division in the middle of a cane field just north of the Hacienda, beginning the first test of the Bataan defenses.

1939-1945 - Turning the Abucay Line:
Note: This scenario makes use of the1939-1945 Starter Set maps.

Scenario AL-1: Turning the Abucay Line (6.1 MB zipped.pdf) Updated 02/15/08.


No longer fighting a running defense in the open and now in the defensible hills brought huge advantages to the defending Americans. However, when the Japanese assault came they still found themselves outnumbered and outgunned. Careful use of machine gun posts overlooking the Abucay River and defensive positions anchored by the Hacienda beat back the Japanese charge.

However, it was only a matter of time before the line was untenable. Japanese attacks had blown ragged holes through the line, creating gaps that could not be filled. Reinforcements would not be coming and it was only a matter of time that the relentless Japanese assaults would push them back. A January 16th counter attack on the left flank, launched by General Parker was bloodily repulsed leaving the line in a much weaker position. General Kimura called for a renewed assault on the western flank on the 18th of January. General Wainwright decided that the line could no longer be held and ordered a retreat to Mt. Silanganan. The Japanese would push on and drive the Americans even from that point.

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