The Bataan Death March

Discussion in 'World War 2' started by Carlo G, Jul 25, 2012.

  1. Carlo G

    Carlo G New Member


    The Bataan Death March was a 70 mile (some say 80 mi) forced march of American and Filipino prisoners of war by Imperial Japanese Army during World War II. Approximately 75,000 soldiers became Prisoners of War: about 12,000 Americans and 63,000 Filipinos.

    The march was characterized by abuse and murder and resulted in very high fatalities of both prisoners and civilians. They were starved and mistreated, often kicked or beaten. Many have died of the extreme tropical heat and exhaustion. No food for the first three days since the Japanese were unprepared for the large number of prisoners. The prisoners were only allowed to drink water from water buffalo wallows. The Bataan Death March was considered as one of the worst atrocities of the World War II.​

  2. Agrippa

    Agrippa New Member

    To the western eyes, the death march would appear to be atrocious. Even before the forced march, wounded soldiers who could not walk were killed. But, one has to see the situation from the Japanese perspective. This is not to say that what they did was right; just saying that what they did was the only thing they knew what to do.
    First, the Japanese soldiers were trained on the code of the Bushido. No surrender is allowed. The warrior fights till he is killed; and failing that, he kills himself. Thus, the Japanese were surprised , and at the same time appalled, that the supposedly powerful Western army would lay down their arms. So, true to their Bushido code, officers were rounded up and shot - this is to give them an honorable death. The rest were to be used in whatever way they pleased. Mostly as forced labor.
    Second, the Japanese invading army totaled only around 60,000 troops in May 1942. How could they handle 75,000 POW's while still continuing the invasion of the other islands? They could not spare troop transport for the prisoners as those are needed by the invading forces. They could not spare food as they also had little for themselves. The supply convoy was still 30 days away. And they had to secure the POW's as soon as possible. So, the weak, the sick and the hungry who would fall back would be kicked, beaten or shot.
    For me, the blame falls squarely on the American general who ordered the surrender. He should have, instead, ordered the troops to disperse taking whatever arms, ammo and supplies they could carry, and fight on as guerrillas. Some actually took the initiative to do just that and harassed the Japanese until the Allied forces returned. Then, there would have been lesser POW's. The sick and wounded would have been shot anyway.
  3. Carlo G

    Carlo G New Member

    ^^ One of the main reason why Filipinos and Americans surrendered to the Japanese is because they ran out of supplies. The food and medicines for Bataan troops was not delivered to the battlefield as they were looted by civilians or captured by the Japanese Army. Imperial Japanese Army supported by their fighter planes, tanks and bombers are well fed and are supplied with medicine to treat their wounded.

    The lack of contingency plan is probably of the main reason why Bataan troops fell to the Japanese.
  4. Susan Kelly

    Susan Kelly New Member

    And thus the quote by Napoleon that an army walks on its stomach rings true.

    I may be a little extreme but this is war. Such stuff does happen. Shortage of supplies is one of the main reason armies fail and the other army constantly tries to limit that supply. People know it's impossible to assault a position without taking heavy losses as the opponent can always retreat a little and form another line of defenses.

    Basically a brutal but good military action by the Japanese. Making such a large force surrender is no mean feat. Their alternative was to starve on spot and try to fight on. Instead they took their luck with the Japanese who they probably knew by rumors as being quite brutal to their prisoners. So slowly starving on spot vs taking a chance to be a POW might of looked quite good at that moment. I mean you knew you had 60,000 fellow compatriots and they can't shoot you all.

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