Battan Death March recalled

Discussion in 'Prisoners of War' started by David Layne, Apr 9, 2008.

  1. David Layne

    David Layne Active Member

  2. CXX

    CXX New Member


    On April 9, 1942, US Major General Edward P. King, commander of the Bataan Garrison on Luzon, formally surrendered his troops to the Japanese invaders commanded by General Homma. After four hard months of combat, the troops were now exhausted, low on ammunition, low on food (most of their meat ration coming from horses, mules, caribou and water buffalo) and many suffering from malaria, dysentery and other diseases. The American and Filipino defenders of Bataan were now in no condition to continue the struggle. It was near the town of Mariveles in the southern tip of the Bataan Peninsula that the infamous Bataan Death March began on April 10, 1942. Each morning, in groups of several hundred, the prisoners were herded on to the main road that led north to Camp O'Donnell their first prison camp, about ten days and sixty miles away. Hungry and thirsty, sick and tired, it was every man for himself, few helped one another. If anyone fell behind he was shot, bayoneted or beheaded and their bodies left in full view of the following column. Between Mariveles and Cabcaben the column of prisoners was shelled by their own guns on Corregidor. A few days and 100 kilometres further on, the first column arrived at San Fernando where they were forced into railroad boxcars. Packed like sardines, suffocating in the summer heat, and those suffering from dysentery defecating on each other, many died 'standing up'. Four hours later they detrained at Capas and were forced to march the remaining ten kilometres to Camp O'Donnell.

    Around 9,300 Americans survived the Death March, between 600 and 650 died or were killed on the way. The Filipino prisoners, numbering around 45,000, arrived at the camp after completing the March, about five thousand had lost their lives during the March. The first forty days at Camp O'Donnell saw the deaths of around 1,500 more Americans and by the end of July at least another 20,000 Filipinos had died. On June 6, 1942, the surviving Filipino prisoners were granted complete amnesty and released. The extremely high death rate, the highest of any POW camp anywhere, compelled the Japanese to move most of the prisoners to another camp at Cabanatuan, north of O'Donnell. It was at Cabanatuan that the Death March survivors met up with their fellow countrymen captured on Corregidor and who fortunately did not participate in the March but had suffered the humiliation of being marched through the main streets of Manila in front of thousands of Filipinos who had been ordered out to watch the procession. After the fighting on Corregidor, some American POW's were forced to do a most distasteful duty. Divided into work parties they were ordered to cut the right hand off every Japanese soldier found dead. Some bodies had been lying in the hot sun for days. The dead bodies were then burned and the hands cremated, the ashes placed in small urns to be returned to their families in Japan.

    The striking memorial, built on the site of the Cabanatuan Prisoner of War Camp on Luzon, includes a Wall of Honor on which are inscribed the names of around 3,000 Americans, many of them survivors of the Death March, who died at Cabanatuan
  3. Antipodean Andy

    Antipodean Andy New Member

    Hampton Sides' Ghosts Soldiers is a particularly good account of the Death March...and subsequent rescue from Cabanatuan of the prisoners towards the end of the war.

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