The Bataan Death March:
A Walk of Terror
In 1942 there was a tragedy that many people have now forgotten. This tragedy was the Bataan Death March. Many American and Filipino soldiers were forced to walk about 65 miles at the threat of being beaten or killed. The soldiers were badly treated and were sometimes deprived of their food and water. We bring this moment back into thought once again.
The Attack Begins:
On December 10, 1941, the Japanese started to attack the Philippines. The Japanese attacked Manila and killed many American soldiers. After losing soldiers in Manila, General Douglas MacArthur retreated to the Bataan Peninsula. MacArthur set up defense lines and held the Japanese for a little less than three months. While these three months past, the American and Filipino troops were running short on food and medicine. The Japanese were waiting for the American and Filipino troops to run out of food and get weak before they made their next attack. Many of the American and Filipino soldiers were becoming sick. During this time the American government sent MacArthur to Australia. The troops were losing hope of winning because MacArthur was leaving them. General Edward King was now to be in charge of the left soldiers. After a hard time fighting, General King surrendered. General Homma Masharu, the controller of the Japanese Bataan campaign now had thousands of enemy captives ready to have march while other generals were through with the Philippines. His plans were to have the soldiers walk from Mariveles to San Fernado. Then he would have them get on a train and take them to Camp O’Donnel.
On April 9, 1942, about 70,000 American and Filipino prisoners were forced to walk a deadly march of about 65 miles from Mariveles to San Fernado. On this walk the soldiers were badly treated, some were killed, and others died from sickness. If you were walking in this procession, you would see two heads on the side of the road every mile. If a person on the sides of the roads tried to give a soldier water or food, the person on the road would be killed. The troops finally made it to the railways. The soldiers were squeezed into the cars. 60 more people were in each car than suppose to. People couldn’t breath, and some people died right there on the spot. The troops finally got to Camp O’Donnel tired and weak. This was the end of the Bataan Death March. All of the American and Filipino soldiers were held prisoners.
Heroes in Death:
This March caused the death of many U.S. and Filipino soldiers. It is awful to know that this happened and the amount of people that died. We should respect those that have survived this horrible act. They marched for our country. We now can see that having hope can overcome your fear.
Stockesbury, James L. “World War II.” World Book 2001, 2001.Marc Pimentel. Migration of Doom Bataan Death March. <http://sandysq.gcinet.net/uss_salt_lake_city_ca25/bataan.htm> Last visited: March, 2002.
To read the story of a man who survived the Bataan Death March.