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April 9: National Former POW Recognition Day

In 1988, President Ronald Reagan issued a proclamation declaring April 9th as National Former POW Recognition Day. The day commemorates the capture of nearly 25,000 U.S. troops that were surrendered by their commander on Bataan in the Philippines on April 9, 1942. Though this day has special significance for the “Battling Bastards of Bataan,” as they came to be known, it honors all former POWs.

We have two collections of POW records on Fold3. The UK, Allied Prisoners of War, 1939-1945 collection contains information on captured prisoners and may show which POW camp they resided at and what happened to them. The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, Unaccounted-for Remains collection, has records for some of the 82,000 American military and civilian personnel missing in action from WWII, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the Cold War.  

Harry Corre

On April 9, 1942, Maj. Gen. Edward King, commander of the U.S. and Filipino forces on Bataan, surrendered to the Japanese. The surrender came after months of fighting Japanese forces despite shortages of rations and supplies for American and Filipino soldiers. One soldier recalled eating rats, worms, or birds – anything to stave off the constant hunger. Already weak from hunger, about 70,000 troops began a forced march after the surrender. It was a nearly 70-mile journey that came to be known as the Bataan Death March. Japanese captors denied prisoners food and water. Many collapsed or were beaten and killed. Although estimates vary, about 16,000 died during the march. Conditions at the camps were hardly better, and many more died from starvation and disease.

Harry Corre enlisted in the United States Army in May 1941. He was serving in the Philippines when the U.S. surrendered. Corre participated in the Bataan Death March and survived a Japanese POW camp. He endured torture, starvation, disease, and exposure. He recalled other starving POWs trading their meager rations for his cigarettes. The extra food kept him alive but left him consumed with guilt. “When you are a POW, the only thing you think about is how to live,” said Corre. In 2011, Corre returned to Japan as a guest of the Japanese government for a weeklong reconciliation tour. When asked about his time as a POW, he replied, “It doesn’t go away…there’s no way you forget it.”

H.M.A. Day

Many Allied forces captured in Europe ended up in German POW camps. Harry Melville Arbuthnot Day was a decorated Royal Marine in WWI. During WWII, he became a decorated Royal Air Force ace pilot. In 1939 his plane was shot down over Germany. Day bailed out and was captured. He escaped his first POW camp but was quickly recaptured. Over the next several years, he became known as the “Escape King” for his nine escape attempts. He capped his exploits by participating in the famous Great Escape from Stalag Luft III, where 76 POWs tunneled their way to freedom. Fifty of the escapees were recaptured and killed by the German forces.

Do you have former POWs in your family? Search our POW records and preserve their story by creating a Fold3 Memorial. Search our Fold3® Honor Wall to read more amazing stories of courage and survival.


  1. Edward Myers says:

    DiLella Joseph , Was in the death marsh. The only man from town.His home was on Leedmon Ave. Joe came home to Phila in1945 The train left Phila. and was going to Indaintown discharge all the men. Leedmon Ave was down by the rail road tracks. The The train stopped there because there is a tunnel. It blue its whistle to get a clerance to enter the tunnel Joe was 300 yards from his home . After 5 years away from home he stayed on board. Why he did not jump off, What could the Army do to him?

  2. Matthew Philip Dukel says:

    My uncle Phillip J. Scheero, pfc U.S ARMY was killed in action while serving in the 129th infantry regiment, 37th infantry division 0n February 9th 1945 in the Battle for Manila. He enlisted on February 18th 1942. It appears he had nine days left to serve, but I do not know how long these brave men chose to fight. This hero, my uncle PHILIP SCHEERO was awarded the DISTINGUISHED SERVICE CROSS and never returned to his loving family in my home town of Philadelphia. Maybe my uncle could have forgiven the japs, but I never will. I hope to find how he bravely gave his life for all of us.

    • If you do not have his death file, the IDPF (Individual Deceased Personnel File), you can request it through Army Human Resource Command at Ft. Knox. They are in the custody of files for surnames M-Z.

      Send a FOIA request email to [email protected] and provide his full name, date of birth, date of death, serial number, unit and your contact info.

      They will email you a letter acknowledging the request and later (a month or two seems to be the time period right now for responses) they email you a download link and password for the file.

      This file will provide details about his death, burial details, often contains letters from family members, sometimes details about his service or death. This is NOT his OMPF (service file) but may contain a few pages from it.

  3. Robert L Coats says:

    Clyde A. Coats, He enlisted in the Army March 14, 1941. After basic training he was shipped to Manila, Philippine Islands April 22, 1941. Arriving in Manila May 8, 1941 and joined Company A 31st Infantry Philippine Division . He finished Jungle training and became a proficient Marksman. Life wasn’t too bad in Manila before WWII ; he had met a few Filipino friends.
    He continued to support his Mother & Family. His brother Robert ( Buck ) Coats also joined the Army after the War started, but went to the European Theatre.
    All troops were notified of the Attack on Pearl Harbor Dec. 7, 1941.
    Hell had broken loose, immediate action was immenient.
    The 31st Infantry fortified the City of Manila against attack . On Dec. 18 th. Clyde helped move supplies and ammunition to Corregidor for beach defense. The Peninsula of Bataan stood close to Corregidor , the 31st Infantry moved to Bataan on Dec.-24th . The real battle began on the 29th Dec. When Japanese troops began over running Philippine positions and pushed Allied troops down the Bataan peninsula. The Japanese Army needed the position to attack Corregidor.
    Losses were heavy on both sides and Bataan became a battle of savage hand to hand fighting in the underbrush, with bloody attacks and counter attacks. It was this type of fighting that on Feb. 14, 1942 Clyde was shot in his upper right chest, just above his lung.
    He was sent to a Field Hospital for a few days before returning to Combat, luckily Clyde shot left handed. The Japanese continued to pour in fresh troops and used constant shelling through out the nights. The Allied defenders were doing their best to hold the Peninsula .They were promised that reinforcements, ammo, food and medicine were on the way.
    Gen. Douglas McArthur had already left the Philippines for the safety of Australia. Gen. Wainwright was in Command from Corregidor and Gen. Edward P. King held command of Bataan and was told not to surrender. The battle continued earning the defenders the immortal name of ( The Battling Bastards of Bataan ) , no Papa , no Mama and no Uncle Sam.
    On April 9 , 1942 Gen. King had ran out of ammunition , food was down to one half ration left , there were 1000’s of wounded . The Japanese were still pouring in fresh troops overwhelming the wore out , famished Allied forces.
    Gen. King decided to surrender his forces before they all died in futile bloodshed which would not gain any military advantage.
    This was heart breaking, Bataan had fallen but the Noble Defenders had written an imperishable page in history. On April 10th 1942 , newspapers in America told their readers that the inevitable had occurred.
    The American defeat on Bataan came long after it was expected, most other Allied posts through out Asia had already fallen to the onslaught of the Japanese.
    The humiliation of defeat was bad enough yet worse was in store for the survivors who had to surrender , the Bataan Death March. It would be over one and a half years before this atrocity and the Japanese prison camps would be known to the world. The Japanese rounded up the defeated men and organized them into about 1,000 men groups. Besides their weapons , canteens , most head coverings or any other supplies and personal belongings were confiscated. If you had any Japanese souvenirs you were beat, beheaded or bayoneted to death. Some men were already near naked from jungle rot of their clothing. Somehow Clyde managed to keep a small book with a pencil slipped inside his shirt; he had began writing notes in the book at the outbreak of the war.
    The Death March began, April was the last month of the dry season.
    When the troops were assembled, they were moved out. Forced to march without rest breaks for up to 20 hours out of 24 without being fed or given any water.
    Those who were sick or physically unable to continue during the march were shot or bayoneted to death. Men helped each other by dragging a comrade along, taking turns staying awake. Clyde and a Mexican American Soldier , Pvt. Stanley Sontoyo from Santa Paula , California survived in this manner. When they were given a rest period it was an open rice paddy beside the road, they were not allowed to drink any of the water. During the March if they crossed a muddy stream and you tried to reach down to get a taste , you were killed if spotted by the Japanese guards. From San Fernando where they were marched down the main street , crowds of Filipinos watched the walking captives struggle on , hoping to spot a family member or loved one . They handed water and bread to some of the lucky ones. Once they had reached Camp O’Donnell on April 14th , heat exhaustion, fatigue and death had taken their toll. At the fall of Bataan there were about 11,796 American troops and 64,000 Philippine troops fighting on Bataan against over whelming Japanese. Over the next 3 months , some 26,000 of those who started the March were dead from the brutality of their captors, starvation, disease and horrible living conditions. It was estimated that between 5,000 to 8,000 Filipino troops lost there lives in the March along with 650 Americans , there were a number of Filipinos who escaped to continue the fight.
    Clyde had been reported missing in action on May 7, 1942 to his mother and family. This was the rainy season , starting with tropical wind and rain without the basic shelters for some prisoners who remained fenced in open holding pens. No blankets or cots were supplied forcing the men to sleep on the ground or on floors of split bamboo for beds. Food at the camp consisted of about 3 cups of rice gruel and water weeds , about 15 ounces per day. Men were dying all around Clyde at a rate of 30 to 50 per day.
    Water was still scarce, they were allowed only one canteen per day. It was during this time that many Americans were abused , Clyde was beat several times with rifle butts and bamboo canes.
    Occasionally, men were used for live bayonet practice. At one time, they took several Filipino officers in the presence of the whole camp, forced them to their knees and beheaded them.
    The smell of death lay like a fog in the early morning hours and ripened with the Rising Sun. You had to have faith in God to survive another day.
    The following dates were logged in Clyde’s book.
    O’Donnell April 14th 1942
    Tyabyas May 21st 1942
    Bilibid July 29th 1942
    McKinley Dec. 2nd 1942
    Nielson Jan. 29th 1943
    Zabalin Oct. 25th 1943
    Bilibid Aug. 20th 1944
    Japan Sept. 4th 1944
    Manila Sept.15th 1945
    USA Oct. 16th 1945

    Prisoners that were willing to work on a detail were given an extra ration of food, sometimes this was only a fish head but it was better than starvation. Clyde was transferred to mainland Japan on Sept. 4th , 1944 aboard a Slave ship the Noto Maru . All prisoners were standing in the hull , no room to sit or lay down . Crammed in like animals , if you had to urinate or excrete it ran down your leg . He was separated from Stanley Sontoyo before this journey. If a man died he was handed up to the deck for a quick burial at sea. Water and rice was given to the prisoners by a bucket & rope . By the time they arrived in Japan many more men were dead or dying. They arrived at Mukaishima, Hiroshima POW Sub-camp No. 4. Clyde was put to work at a dock with fellow prisoners, each day they passed the same route to the Hitachi Dockyards. On Aug. 6th 1945 the first Atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima killing estimated 130,000 Japanese. The prison was about 40 miles from Hiroshima. Immediately the next day the old prison guards were gone , replaced by young boys and some Doctors who started looking after the prisoners. Parachutes had been dropped with Food and Medical supplies which the Japanese brought into the camp for the POW’s. Clyde noticed they were not being guarded and the gate had been left open. Maj. Ralph Artman suggested & Clyde and several other soldiers wandered down the streets to an old tailor shop, which they had noticed travelling back and forth to the shipyards. They drew a picture and in their best Japanese asked the old men to make them an American Flag for the prison camp with some of the parachutes. Cpl. Charles Branum & two Sergeants raised the Flag to let Allied Bombers know not to bomb them. Clyde stepped into the main control room and no one was there , he took his photograph down . The Prisoner ID Photo which had traveled with him from Camp O’Donnell , was now in his little book. Planes dropped more food and medicine by parachute. The war was over on Aug. 14th , 1945. Clyde and most of the prisoners were placed on a hospital ship and arrived back in Manila on Sept. 15th 1945 . Clyde was helped into Manila by a sailor and returned to one of his haunts before the war.
    He had been given some local draw/cash and he gave most of it away to his Philippine friends, who were glad to see him alive.

    On Oct. 1st , 1945 he boarded a hospital transport ship headed for San Francisco, California. He arrived Oct. 16th , 1945 weighing less than 100 pounds. Shortly after arriving he was put on a hospital train and shipped to Borden General Hospital in Chickasha, Oklahoma for further treatment. Members of his family were allowed to visit him. He returned to Lane, Oklahoma on a short leave. Sherman ( Shug ) Bledsoe was about 12 years old but remembers Clyde as a bag of bones when he first got home , still not able to eat any large amount of food or even finish a good Pool Hall hamburger . A few months later Clyde was back home and in better shape.
    He had met Mary J. Rector and decided to ask her to get married. Clyde was discharged on Jan. 25th 1946 but re-enlisted for one more year. His first son Claude was born while he was still in the Army on Jan. 16th 1947. Clyde decided to start making a little more money for his growing family by logging and did not re-enlist again. After his second son Robert was born Aug. 14th ,1948 , 3 years after the Japanese surrender. Clyde sold his logging truck and they travelled to California on a Greyhound Bus. Shortly thereafter Clyde went to work on a drilling rig ,working as a roughneck with his wife’s cousin Jack Rector. Another son Wayne was born in Bell, California on Feb. 6th , 1951.
    In 1955 Clyde had worked his way up to Toolpusher and decided to see if he could find Stanley Sontoyo, if he had survived. The address was in his book and he drove to Stanley’s mother’s home in Santa Paula, California. Stanley and his family were living in Pico Rivera, California. They called Stanley from his mother’s home and then drove to meet him. It was a happy reunion when Clyde pulled up to their home. Stanley and Clyde hugged one another calling each other my friend, they remained friends for life.
    Clyde passed away in Clearlake California Nov. 18th , 1977 . He was a Toolpusher for Camay Drilling Company , drilling Geothermal Wells in the Geysers for Shell’s Geothermal Division.
    He was survived by his wife Mary, Sons Claude, Robert , Wayne and only daughter Marcia born in Santa Paula , California on Nov. 3rd , 1957 . He was buried at Forest Lawn Cypress , California with full Military Honors by Marines from Camp Pendleton.
    For his service to country Clyde was awarded the Purple Heart , Asiatic-Pacific Ribbon with 1 bronze star , Philippine Defense Ribbon with 1 bronze star , American Defense Ribbon with 1 bronze star, Good Conduct Medal , the Presidential Unit Citation with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters and the American Theater Ribbon Victory Medal .
    It is noted that had an invasion of mainland Japan occurred that memos sent to President Truman from Gen. George Marshall estimated casualties between One half to One Million in the first 30 days . After 90 days of ground war the number rose to 1.5 million for the invasion and occupation of Japan. About
    100,000 Allied Prisoners of War lives were also spared , according to Linda Goetz Holmes , author of “ 4,000 Bowls of Rice “. While pouring over piles of Japanese military papers at the National Archives, she unearthed an order sent to all commandants at POW camps across Asia, telling what to do with prisoners if the Allies invade Japan.
    It read : “ It is the aim to annihilate them all and not to leave any traces.” Had the Atomic bombs not been dropped and an Invasion occurred Clyde would not have made it.
    Reference books : Prisoner of the Rising Sun
    by Oklahoma Supreme Court Justice William A. Berry
    Bataan The March of Death by Stanley L. Falk
    “4,000 Bowls of Rice “ by Linda Goetz Holmes
    Atoka County Times by Sherman Bledsoe
    Verbal accounts : Mary J. Coats & Sherman ( Shug ) Bledsoe
    MacArthur and Wainwright: Sacrifice of the Philippines, author John Jacob Beck
    Retaking the Philippines by William Breuer
    The Battling Bastards of Bataan by Richard Sassaman
    Criteria: The Presidential Unit Citation is awarded to units of the Armed Forces of the United States and co-belligerent nations for extraordinary heroism in action against an armed enemy occurring on or after 7 December 1941. The unit must display such gallantry, determination, and esprit de corps in accomplishing its mission under extremely difficult and hazardous conditions as to set it apart and above other units participating in the same campaign. The degree of heroism required is the same as that which would warrant award of a Distinguished Service Cross to an individual in the Army or Navy Cross in the Marines or Navy. Extended periods of combat duty or participation in a large number of operational missions, either ground or air is not sufficient. This award will normally be earned by units that have participated in single or successive actions covering relatively brief time spans. It is not reasonable to presume that entire units can sustain Distinguished Service Cross performance for extended time periods except under the most unusual circumstances. Only on rare occasions will a unit larger than battalion qualify for award of this decoration.

    Mukaijima Branch Camp (Hiroshima 4-B)
    Established as Innoshima Branch Camp of Yawata Temporal POW Camp at
    Kaneyoshi, Mukaijima-cho, Mitsuki-gun, Hiroshima Prefecture on December 27,
    Reorganized to be Mukaijima Branch Camp of Fukuoka POW Camp on January 1,
    Renamed as Fukuoka No.11 Branch Camp on March 1, 1943.
    Transferred under the jurisdiction of Zentsuji POW Camp to be No.1 Branch Camp
    on July 14, 1943.
    Renamed as Zentsuji No.1 Dispatched Camp on December 1, 1943.
    Transferred under the jurisdiction of Hiroshima POW Camp to be No.1 Dispatched
    Camp on April 13, 1945.
    Renamed as Hiroshima No.4 Branch Camp in August 1945.
    The POWs were used by Hitachi Dockyard Company.
    194 POWs (116 American, 77 British and 1 Canadian) were imprisoned at the end
    of the war.
    24 POWs died while imprisonment.
    Despite the obvious failings, the American effort was not completely in vain. “The valiant defense of the Philippines had several important consequences,” wrote US Army historian Jennifer Bailey. “It delayed the Japanese timetable for the conquest of South Asia, [and] became a symbol of hope for the United States in the early, bleak days of the war.” MacArthur’s chief clerk, Paul Rogers, wrote, “The officers and men who fought on Bataan believed in the end that they had been defeated. Be that as it may, they had fought according to plan in a battle they were never expected to win. They were expected only to hold out for three months, and that is precisely what they did.” ( On May 30, 2009, at the sixty-fourth and final reunion of Bataan Death March survivors in San Antonio, Texas, Japanese Ambassador to the United States : Ichiro Fujisaki apologized to the assembled survivors for the Japanese treatment of Allied prisoners of war, on behalf of the Japanese government. )

  4. Dianetann says:

    My Ad was Missing un acti9n ‘a a a German camp.he Got his kñee cap shot Off.saviñg a woñded solider as he a
    Was getting himto the fox holen hag d’hen dad Got shot. the Got into the foxhold.the solider was dead.agerman officer stood vove the hold loked down n spitted on my jump down into he foxhold on my dad wounded kñee da yell an to my dad sirprie hesaid sorry son . They glok hi to a prision vamm.they operated on his kñee dad said they usrd c’hichen wire to wrap his leg but after it strte get infeted zo the remove th wire. T was wintr îif oneprisoner a-hed ip they allt punih my da was bed rdden.tey mare them go outside an dtand Got boued the ráin includin my dad bed and all’they they fall them un an forgot to get y dad .fnelly they Got Jim .they mare the coffee din acorns. They they Got rescue. Da Gough undet Esonbower ww2 Armoù Edward Frances Jurkofsky. Dad s decide now w/ the Purple Heart medals an abunch of others her gae to his grandson.imagion seeing your son after you get a telgragt he’s dead. There’s a lot more to tell .but wanted the world to know my Dad was pride fight under President Esinhower.Batle of the Bold.Dee his daughter