Bataan Death March

Bataan Death March

In March 1942, Homma began his plans for the American and Filipino troops who would become Prisoners of War. He planned on moving them to Camp O'Donnell, about one hundred miles away. According to the Japanese military, this was not a long distance, and their troops could easily accomplish it within a few days. However, those on Bataan were not in good physical health. Since January they had been on half-rations or less. During the surrender agreement, King told Homma that he had more men than the Japanese planned for and that they were ill and undernourished. But Homma ignored these facts, plus King's offer to drive the troops to the prison camps. According to the Japanese, once the POWs were in their captivity, they could do with them as they wished, and King's requests were disgraceful. (47)

"U.S. prisoners on Bataan sorting equipment while Japanese guards look on. Following this, the Americans and Filipinos started on the Death March to Camp O'Donnell in central Luzon. Over 50,000 prisoners were held at this camp. A few U.S. troops escaped capture and carried on as guerrillas."
From: Hunter, p. 45

From the day of surrender on, the POWs would be harshly beaten and killed for the slightest or no reason at all. Officer status did not provide protection either. First the troops were searched. Any prisoner found with Japanese souvenirs was executed immediately, because the Japanese believed the soldier must have killed a Japanese soldier in order to get it. Many soldiers had found these items, such as money and shaving mirrors. Their own personal property was usually stolen as well. (48)

"Articles Carried on Death March. Crucifix and other possessions of Lt. Col. Dyess. The tobacco can was his billfold."
From: Dyess, between pp. 96-97

The Bataan Death March.
U.S. National Archives
From: Daws, p. 229

The Bataan Death March began at Mariveles on April 10, 1942. Any troops who fell behind were executed. Japanese troops beat soldiers randomly, and denied the POWs food and water for many days. One of their tortures was known as the sun treatment. The Philippines in April is very hot. Therefore, the POWs were forced to sit in the sun without any shade, helmets, or water. Anyone who dared ask for water was executed. On the rare occasion they were given any food, it was only a handful of contaminated rice. When the prisoners were allowed to sleep for a few hours at night, they were packed into enclosures so tight that they could barely move. Those who lived collapsed on the dead bodies of their comrades. For only a brief part of the march would POWs be packed into railroad cars and allowed to ride. Those who did not die in the suffocating boxcars were forced to march about seven more miles until they reached their camp. It took the POWs over a week to reach their destination. (49) Those on Corregidor would suffer the same fate as their fellow soldiers on Bataan did as they too were transferred to Bataan.

"The infamous Death March from Bataan in 1942, showing thinning file of prisoners carrying comrades who dropped along the way."
Photo by: Wide World Photos, From: Buchanan, between pp. 108-109 photo #7

"The Bataan Death March-the end of the road."
U.S. National Archives, From: Daws, p. 229