General MacArthur, having fled the Philippines on orders of President Roosevelt, and after spending 11 days and nearly 3,000 miles in a strategic retreat, arrived in Melbourne, Australia, greeted by a few hundred American troops in pith helmets and several thousand Australians eager for any degree of hope in an increasingly bleak horizon of war news. Curiously, the General is awarded the Medal of Honor by General George Marshall. German and Japanese high commands scoff at MacArthur and don’t expect to hear much more of him.
Meanwhile, the news from the Philippines continues to go from very bad to horrific as American and Philippine troops are cornered on Corregidor and Bataan and resort to eating their horses, mules, various lizards and monkeys to stay alive, barely. Inevitably, dysentery, beri-beri and a host of other tropical niceties begin to take their toll on the number of able-bodied soldiers available to resist the Japanese onslaught. Japanese General Masaharu Homma orders heavy shelling against the beleaguered troops trapped like rats.
The USS Nashville had just arrived in San Diego the day before along with the USS Hornet and support vessels. The Nashville crew got a few days liberty before training started on March 23, training for the upcoming but still top secret raid that would irreversibly change the war on April 18, 1942.