October 20, 1944: General MacArthur Returns


Mine eyes have seen MacArthur
With a Bible on his knee,
He is pounding out communiqués
For guys like you and me,
And while possibly a rumor now,
Someday ’twill be a fact,
That the Lord will hear a deep voice
Say, “Move over God, it’s Mac!”

Anonymous Marine on Corregidor (1942)







The most controversial of American commanders in World War II, MacArthur has always roused strong emotion.  Reviled by some as a supreme egotist and an overrated general, and hailed by others as the greatest general in American history, MacArthur will be fought over in history books from now until Doomsday, a fate which I think would not have displeased him.  However, I suspect critics and admirers alike can agree on one thing.  Seventy-three years ago, October 20, 1944, MacArthur had the supreme moment of his life as he began the liberation of the Philippines:




I have returned. By the grace of Almighty God our forces stand again on Philippine soil — soil consecrated in the blood of our two peoples. We have come, dedicated and committed, to the task of destroying every vestige of enemy control over your daily lives, and of restoring, upon a foundation of indestructible, strength, the liberties of your people.

At my side is your President, Sergio Osmena, worthy successor of that great patriot, Manuel Quezon, with members of his cabinet. The seat of your government is now therefore firmly re- established on Philippine soil.

The hour of your redemption is here. Your patriots have demonstrated an unswerving and resolute devotion to the principles of freedom that challenges the best that is written on the pages of human history. I now call upon your supreme effort that the enemy may know from the temper of an aroused and outraged people within that he has a force there to contend with no less violent than is the force committed from without.

Rally to me. Let the indomitable spirit of Bataan and Corregidor lead on. As the lines of battle roll forward to bring you within the zone of operations, rise and strike. Strike at every favorable opportunity. For your homes and hearths, strike! For future generations of your sons and daughters, strike! In the name of your sacred dead, strike! Let no heart be faint. Let every arm be steeled. The guidance of divine God points the way. Follow in His Name to the Holy Grail of righteous victory!

Douglas MacArthur


More to explorer


  1. Somewhere, in researching a book on WWII Philippines, I read that the recapture of the Island (Leyte etc.) cost more lives than D-Day. I never did chase it down, but I assumed that toll included Philippine soldiers as well.

  2. That’s one cracker of a communique, I’ll give him that.
    And that he gave the Filipinos pride of place was both just and wise–the people of the Island had the most dogged indigenous guerilla force and the least-liked collaborator regime of the Western colonies conquered by Japan.

  3. MacArthur’s coordination with the Filipino guerillas, who viewed the war against the Japanese invaders as a crusade, was superb and well in advance of other commanders during World War II,

  4. “Somewhere, in researching a book on WWII Philippines, I read that the recapture of the Island (Leyte etc.) cost more lives than D-Day.”
    D-Day alone and not the subsequent Normandy Campaign. Leyte cost 15,000 casualties, 3500 dead, and the Japanese garrison was basically wiped out, 49000 dead. The Normandy Campaign through July 24, 1944 incurred 120,000 Allied casualties to 113,000 Axis.

  5. The remaining brick buildings of Corregidor reminded me of the old buildings at Ft. McNair. The Malinta tunnel second only to Roman catacombs for spookiness. The Japanese were barbaric occupiers of the Philippine Islands. Japanese tourists came to the islands in the ’80s because it was cheap. The locals had long memories about the Japanese. They soaked the Japanese tourists every chance they could get…prices for taxis, meals and hotels were three times the price for Americans and Aussies. They claimed there were never snails or flies until the Japanese invaded. My husband’s parents came to visit us when we were stationed at NAS Cubi Pt. Visiting Manila we paid our respects at the American cemetery and at Paw Paw’s request we drove him by Santo Tomas University. As a young army doctor stationed in Manila his assignment was to treat the repatriated prisoners of Santo Tomas Interment Camp and Bilibid Prison. He pointed out a building where he studied tropical diseases at the end of his tour. Never said a word about his wartime experiences otherwise. My husband’s favorite picture of his father is a snap shot of him sitting outside his tent in Quezon City.
    The American Boy Scouts had a special merit badge for reenacting the Bataan Death March to Camp O’Donnel. The real death march for American and Filippino servicemen was awful. For some the camp was a layover for the shipment to Japan for hard labor.

  6. This NZ priest was in the Philipines during the Japanese occupation. Here is the Wikipedia entry on him – there are moves afoot to file his cause for canonisation.
    Francis Vernon Douglas (22 May 1910 – c. 27 July 1943) was a New Zealand priest of the Missionary Society of St. Columban who was killed in the Philippines by Japanese soldiers in 1943.
    He was born in Johnsonville, near Wellington, the fifth of eight children (five sons and three daughters) of Kathleen (née Gaffney) and George Charles Douglas, an Australian-born railway worker. His mother was a devout Catholic from County Sligo, Ireland, and his father became a Catholic in 1926.[1]
    Douglas trained for the Catholic priesthood at Holy Cross Seminary, Mosgiel. Within a few months of his ordination, at the end of 1934, he applied to join the Missionary Society of St. Columban. He was curate at New Plymouth when he left to join the society at the start of 1937. He was appointed to the Philippines in July 1939. He was posted to Pililla. Five years later during the Japanese occupation he was taken by secret police looking for information on guerillas active in his area.
    Over three days in the Church of Saint James the Apostle in Paete, Laguna, he was savagely beaten and had a cruel torture of the water cure, the presumption being that police were trying to extort information from him about guerillas whose confessions he may have heard. He remained silent through it all, and was last seen on the evening of 27 July 1943, very weak but still conscious, being put on a truck with a guard of Japanese soldiers. He was never seen again. It was only after the liberation of the Philippines from Japanese occupation at the end of 1944 that the Columbans could start to piece his story together. What emerged was a picture of a priest, aged 33, who could be regarded as a martyr, having demonstrated outstanding priestly fidelity (especially to the Seal of Confession). He is remembered in the name of a boys college in New Plymouth, Francis Douglas Memorial College.[2]

  7. DC. Don Beckett, thank you for your comment. I’ve read that 8 Columbans in the PI were martyred by the Japanese. I hope Fr. Douglas’ cause for canonization progresses in a timely fashion. There were Columban Fathers near Olongapo which was adjacent to NAS Cubi Pt and Subic Bay(American naval bases). A priest attached to the USMC Air Wing in Okinawa attended a party at our quarters. Prior to the military Fr. Flynn, who was half Malay and Half Irish-American, had been a missionary for 20 years in Mindoro. During his stay father received an invitation to dinner at the Columban College. Being a visitor he didn’t have a ration card; “Would we by any chance have a bottle of Irish whiskey he could take to his fellow priests?” As luck would have it, we did and he reported back that the Columbans appreciated the rare treat. DC. Beckett, thank you for triggering a pleasant memory.
    We travelled throughout Asia during our assignment in ’80s but never went to NZ. I had hoped that we could take our sons to there since my dad and I had taken a hop into Christchurch in the early 70s. The South Island is so beautiful.

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