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Bataan Death March Begins: April 9, 1942

April 9, 1942, marks the beginning of the Bataan Death March, in which tens of thousands of American and Filipino soldiers were forced on a grueling 65-mile trek across the Philippine island of Luzon, following their surrender to the Japanese. Thousands of men died on the march, and thousands more would die later in POW camps.

Fold3 Image - Photos from the Bataan Death March
Directly after the bombing at Pearl Harbor, the Japanese bombed Clark Field in the Philippines as part of their campaign to take control of Southeast Asia. This and other raids left the Philippines without air power when the Japanese landed 43,000 troops on the main island of Luzon on December 22, 1941. The American and Filipino troops, under General Douglas MacArthur, retreated to the Bataan peninsula, where they resisted the Japanese for months, enduring starvation, disease, and exhaustion in addition to the fighting.

Finally, on April 9, 1942, Major General Edward King surrendered all 76,000 American and Filipino troops under his command to the Japanese. (General MacArthur had by this time evacuated first to Corregidor, then Australia.) The prisoners of war were divided by the Japanese into groups of 100 to begin the journey to the POW camps at Camp O’Donnell.

The arduous 65-mile trek in blazing hot temperatures lasted about 5 to 10 days, and the already enervated men were allowed little food or water. They also faced numerous instances of brutality by their Japanese captors, from beatings to killings

The men were marched dozens of miles to a rail station at San Fernando, where they were crammed a hundred at a time into boxcars meant for 40. Additional men died on this train journey from suffocation, exhaustion, and dehydration. Estimates vary widely, but at least 500 Americans and 2,500 Filipinos (though likely far many more) died on the march and in the boxcars.

Things did not improve for the tens of thousands of men who survived to reach the POW camps. There were far more prisoners of war than the Japanese had anticipated, and conditions in the camps were horrific. Several hundred men died a day, with total deaths in the camps estimated at around 1,500 Americans and 26,000 Filipinos.

After the war, the Bataan Death March was designated a war crime, and various Japanese military leaders were executed or imprisoned for their role in it.

Do you have any relatives who are Bataan survivors? Share their stories with us! Or find more information about the battle and ensuing march by searching on Fold3.

312 Comments

  1. Another account of the Bataan Death March has been wonderfully written by James Bollich,”Bataan Death March: A Soldier’s Story”. Let us never forget the survivors and those who did not survive. Their sacrifices can never be repaid, only honored.

  2. For years my Mother worked for Forry and Hacker Printing. Partner Charlie Forry was a Bataan Death March survivor. He could never sit on his haunches or bend his knees much. He related to my Mother his experience. One thing that stood out was the Japanese would smash their rifle butts into the prisoners’ knees to try to get them to fall and drop out of line, so they could shoot them. There were other atrocities.

    When the business was for sale a business broker brought potential buyers to look it over. They were Oriental. Charlie flipped out and kicked them all out. He was still angry about the situation.

    • Oriental? What does that mean? Where they Chinese, Philipino or Idonesian?
      I gues the man remained stuck in an “all the same to me” mentality.

    • To you and me, and the thousands reading this fine work…Charlie Forry would be called HERO! Simply that, there is no decent call of “bigot” by a PC culture “warrior” of 2017. Got that….HERO!

    • Even heroes can have feet of clay. Don’t allow that word to blind you to reality. We are not perfect, after all.

    • Inote that Mr Edquist doesn’t realize how the pow’s reached that “mentality.” These were mostly very young men (my brother in law was 17 when he joined the army and was imprisoned in Japan where he worked in the mines as forced labor.) Today we think about the fact that there were millions of other Orientals who also suffered at the hands of the Japanese during the war. I make special note of “The Rape of Nanking” for those who haven’t read about that. But these young men were mostly farm boys who had never seen Chinese, Philopino, etc until a short time before. And yes, it was difficult to distinguish between them. I am sure all of us look alike to them, as well. My dear Chinese grandchildren are learning so much in their school here in Texas. They, too are appalled at the atrocities of war…all war.

  3. Joseph Quitman Johnson also was a survivor of the Bataan Death March, he wrote the book
    “The Baby Of Bataan”. The American Legion Post 96 in Surprise Az. is in the process of being named after him.

    Ed Foerster, Charterr Commander Post 96. – WW 2 Veteran.

  4. Another great account of Bataan Death March and the survivors is “Ghost Soldiers”. The brutality of the Japanese captors cannot be over-emphasized.

  5. I am the last of 5 children of Lt Milton Henry Woodside Bataan Death March survivor. My father was a P40 pilot at Clark field when the Japs attacked. He did not tall about his experiences. We lost him in 1973. He did leave 18 typed pages as part of the war departments debriefing. He was on the train at San Fernando and eventually put in the hull of a boat and transferred to Osaka as slave labor.

    I make sure my children read and reread the graphic accounts of his words. They should never forget his sacrifice!

    • How did you get copies of the transcripts? I would love to get my grand fathers.

    • What an incredible man. I can’t imagine what that does to someone. God Bless that he survived to have a family and the love that comes with it.

    • Joseph- Is there a way you can share those precious 18 pages with the rest of us? A lot of us never got any first hand information from our loved ones about what happened on Bataan to them personally, and I’d really be interested in reading what your father had to say. Thank you for sharing, if you can, and thank you, too, for having your kids know what their grandfather saw, heard, and endured.

    • Hi Joseph- I was wondering if you’d be able to share those 18 pages with the rest of us??? Most of us do not have first-hand accounts from our loved ones about what they endured there, and I’d be interested in reading about what your father shared with you, and what you’re now sharing with the rest of your family. Thank you.

  6. My father-in-law, Angelo Pluchino, was a survivor. I have his handwritten diary that he kept with him during his imprisionment.

  7. In this report there is no mention of the women and children who were also there. A member of our church was a child who lost both of his parents during this atrocity. His mother died in the camp partly because she gave him most of her food.
    You might think he’d have a rough personality after living through such an evil childhood experience, but through faith and courage, he is an angel. He’s always been one of the nicest people.

    • I know of a survivor, as a child, son of missionaries, now goes by the name of Chuck Lewis, and now living (I think) in Connecticut. Could that be the person you mentioned?
      I had the pleasure of walking the Bataan Memorial March this past 25 March in New Mexico with our local survivor, Ret. Col. Ben Skardon, USArmy now 100 years young. An amazing and inspirational person (oldest living survivor).
      Thanks for mentioning those non-military that suffered also. Brings to mind a favorite movie of mine, Empire of the Sun, by Stephen King, about a 12 yr. old son of British state department parents, who was separated from his parents and catptured by the Japanese in their Shanghai invasion.
      Jim reed, Pendleton, SC

    • Read bout the Santo Tomas internment camp. There is at least one book (I can ‘see’ it but cannot remember the name) about that camp. This is the camp where civilian men and women were interned during the war…near Manila if I remember correctly.

    • There is also a really good one on Los Banos, called Rescue at Los Banos. This was opened after Santo Tomas became too crowded. They shipped a bunch of men there to build it first and then started sending families. My great uncle Carlin McClure and great aunt Ryanna McClure were sent there, while the rest of the family remained at Santo Tomas. The rescue of Los Banos was done in a raid behind enemy lines and is considered to be one of the most daring raids during WWII. Had it not happened and they had waited until the prison was back in US hands the internees there would have either starved since they were dying by the dozens every day, or the Japanese would have killed them all by mass murder. They had already forced the men to dig a long trench that would have been their mass grave. The Japanese were no kinder to the civilians than they were to the soldiers.

  8. Morgan French, 92, the last surviving member of the Harrodsburg Tankers, died Thursday in Plano, Texas.

    The Harrodsburg Tankers were a group of 66 Kentucky National Guardsmen who fought on the Bataan Peninsula of the Philippines during World War II. Many of them were captured by the Japanese and endured the Bataan Death March and other horrors as prisoners of war. Only 37 of the men survived the war.

    Mr. French grew up working on farms in the Harrodsburg area with his family, according to an obituary.

    He joined the National Guard in 1937. He, his brother Edward and the rest of the Harrodsburg Tankers, the 38th Tank Co., shipped out for the Philippines in November 1941.

    Edward French was killed in action in Bataan on April 22, 1942. Morgan French was captured less than a month later at Fort Drum in Manila Harbor. He was at first taken to Bilibid Prison, then spent five months in Cabanatuan POW Camp before being put on a “hell ship” and sent to Japan.

    He and other prisoners were liberated by Allied Forces on Sept. 10, 1945.

    After returning home, Mr. French returned to active duty in the Army, serving two tours in Korea. He also served in Germany and at various posts in the United States during his 23-year career. He earned the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart.

    Later, he taught at the Armored School at Fort Knox.

  9. My Cousin, 1st LT. Harvey F. Rice, was listed as MIA for many years by the U.S. Army, in the Philipines.
    They have recently contacted members of our Family for DNA matches and think they have found his remains in a mass grave(#1010) of over 20 persons. He was born 10/17/17 in North Dakota. He died 07/01/42 at the POW Camp at Cabanatuan, Luzon, PI. According to Army records he died of Dysentery and Malaria. He had previously survived the Bataan Death march.
    Very sad news but finally putting many questions to rest for the family. Does anyone else on this site have any information containing his name?

    Thank You, Adele Rice Spidahl

    • Is there a place where family members of POWS and MIAS can sign up in the event more remains are found?

    • Reply to Mary Hensinger: Try The American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor at http://dg-adbc.org/. They can point you in the right direction. The organization’s president, Jan Thompson, is a filmmaker who has made two documentaries, “The Tragedy of Bataan” and “Never the Same–the Prisoner of War experience,” about this terrible time. Her father survived Corregidor and imprisonment.

    • Thank you for the info. I’ll definitely check it out.

  10. My father, James Patrick Boyd, was stationed at Ft. Stotensburg. Here is a bit of his recount of that day.

    “Surrender came at daybreak on April 9, 1942. Company Commander Richard Caden called our 17th Ordnance Company together for the last instructions.

    Just as Captain Caden was about to speak, an officer from a military police company wheeled a jeep alongside. ‘This is it captain,’ he barked. We held them just as long as e possibly could.’

    He got back in the jeep, hesitated a moment and then snapped, “Best thing for you and the men to do is pile your guns in a stack and either blow them up or burn them.”

    The captain scowled. He look into the wall of questioning faces, ‘Well men, you heard it. There’s no use getting killed with our own guns, so put ‘em in a pile.’

    We were marched from our present location, Kilometer Post 182, back along the route of our retreat some 20 kilometers, or 10 miles, to a spot designated by the Japanese as a surrender point.

    Panama, a wiry, redheaded buck sergeant and longtime buddy of mind, spat disgustedly into the dirt. Squinting, he turned his gaze upward to the mountainous reach of green and tangled hills ascending to the north.

    I remarked pointedly, ‘You know, Panama, those hills look pretty good to me.’

    ‘Cactus, they look pretty good to me too. I think that’s the place we should be.’

    The idea of escape wasn’t exactly new. It had been with us since December 8, 1941, the day which the Japanese death their smashing blow to the Philippines. The possibility of escape lay in the mountainous terrain of the peninsula. We approached the Captain and told him.

    “If I didn’t have 147 men looking to me for leadership, I’d go with you.” he assured us.

    We started out with the rest of the men on their march toward to surrender area. It was deceptive tactic and also a practical one for we wanted to get back to a broken down supply vehicle we had passed along the road that morning. There might be food and some equipment we could use.

    We mingled with the flood of men and clanging vehicles trying not to arouse the suspicion of any Japanese officers who might be nearby, and at the same time watching for an opportune moment to get off the road and head for the mountains. A clump of bushes beside the road screen a maze of undergrowth gave us the opportunity. In a split second we left the markers, waited a couple fo minutes and then slid through the bamboo thickets leading towards the hills. We had our rice, flour, and hash and a little American display flag I had taken off a radiator cap on the supply truck.”

    This started a journey of nearly three years that found my father hiding in the jungles. Working with the other escapees and Filipino natives to help bring back MacArthur. In 2011 my father was honored by the Army’s 17th Ordnance division for his service. A building bearing his name is located at Ft. Lee Virginia.

  11. We hear a lot and continue to do so of the Nazi atrocities but the Japanese were just as brutal and in some cases more barbaric then the Germans. My father fought in the Pacific theater and let me tell you the average Army Joe was relieved when we dropped the A-Bombs a now controversial decision that is derided by those comfortable elites who sit back and question this decision. Thankfully we now have a good relationship with the people of Japan but their atrocities should never be forgotten and forever condemned.

    • Amen to all that you said! And the fools who revere MacArthur are just that – fools. He was NO hero!

    • As I have stated before, my Dad served with the 6th Army and landed on Leyte on Oct.20 1944. He never spoke of the war, but ALWAYS held a grudge against the Japanese and Mc Arthur….leaving those nurses behind…..NO EXCUSE…

    • Why “comfortable elites?” Your bias is showing.

  12. My uncle, John B Ivy, my mothers older half brother, survived the Bataan Death March. My mom and JB had the same mom, different dads. He never talked about being a POW but later an article was printed in the Columbia, Mississippi news paper. He married my Dads sister, Alice Wagley. He retired in Goss, MS., and lived there till his death. He did tell us about stealing vegetables from the Japanese gardens and boiling them with their clothes. He was a Texan and was with a group from Texas. He said the Texans stuck together and helped each other. His best friend helped him and he said if not for him , he could not have survived. He figured out that the Japanese were afraid of “crazy ” people and he acted crazy, they left him alone. My uncle JB was my favorite uncle and you would have never known what horror he went through. He said it was his faith and belief in God that kept him strong mentally. I lived with my grandparents during WWII , his mom and step dad. My grandmother, Lillie Walker always said JB was alive and would come home. He did.

  13. My father, Herschel Waller, who served in the 27th Bomb Group, was a survivor of the Bataan Dearh March. He spent the whole war in Japanese prison camps, first in the Philippines and, later, in mainland Japan. He was transferred from the Philippines to Japan in a convoy of “hell ships”. He was finally liberated from the Sendai 7-B POW Camp near Hanaoka, Japan, on September 15, 1945. He never revealed much about his experiences during his captivity before he passed away in 1995.

  14. My grandfathers step son Marion Terrell was in the Death March. He came home and shortly thereafter died of a brain tumor.

    Does anyone know any resources on where to find info on these soldiers other than the Natl Archives?

    • Outside of memoirs and military history books, I would try Fold3 and/or Ancestry.com. IF you are willing to do a lot of digging, then try Newspapers.com and search on soldiers’ names or returning POW topics.

    • If he was from New Mexico, as 1600 of the Bataan fighters were, you can look him up in Eva Jane Matson’s book, “It Tolled For New Mexico.” This is a comprehensive record of all batteries of the 200th Coast Artillery Anti-Aircraft Regiment of the New Mexico National Guard. A thorough history of the 200th is found in Dorothy Cave’s book, “Beyond Courage,” which has been mentioned elsewhere in this blog.

  15. Equidst……Must be one of those that have never had to sacrifice anything for his country. Just wanted to enjoy all the muilk and honey but relied on others to pay for it.

  16. This an important event in the war and I just don’t understand why Hollywood hasn’t made this a movie, yet???

    • They did, about five or six years ago. I can’t remember the name of it, but I saw it in a theater. It included Camo O’Donnell, but I don’t remember much about the film, overall. If you Google it, you might something about it.

    • “The Bridge On The River Kwai” was about the Bataan Death March. I believe it came out in the mid-60s. I recall I was in high school at the time. All the actors in it are dead now. My uncle, Ricard (Dick) Aust was not at Bataan, but survived the sinking of the USE Houston and was a LOW in a Japanese prison camp in Thailand.

    • “Bridge on the River Quai” was about the Allied (primarily British) troops captured in the defense of Singapore, and their imprisonment in Indonesia.

    • British POWs from the fall of Singapore in 1942 were forced north to build a rail line from Thailand to Burma (now Myanmar). Japanese supply rail line for invasion of India (never happened)
      Bataan death march was on Philippines’ island of Luzon around 1,000 miles southeast of Burma.

  17. Regarding the guerilla fighters there was a movie made starring Tyrone Power – An American Guerilla in the Philippines. I’ve also found this clip on You Tube. My father and Clay Connor knew each other in the mountains.
    https://video.search.yahoo.com/search/video?fr=uh3_news_web_gs&p=movie+about+philippine+guerrillas#id=4&vid=70862b9e67cfec6a5e4ebcbb5f181cb3&action=view

  18. My father served with the Australian army and fought at Kakoda in New Guinea and onto Borneo, Mala and onto Japan. I found out from one of my fathers mates how was with him when the battle for Kakoda was coming to a end as the Japanese had been pushed back to coast and the air stip that we’re defending was about to fall. My father added then the Americans showed up after the real battle to claim the victory.
    My father was injured during this final battle and was sent to Port Morsby to recover, while there McArthur showed up to the hospital with the media to showed he cared.
    During this my father apparently yelled at him and asked how many men under his command have to die so you can get your next star and called McArthur a coward.
    I read in my fathers service records that he was charged with disrespecting an officer would be courtmarshed and he was docked 1 weeks field pay, the charge was dropped as in his defence he’s said he fought for Australia and his opinions were that of all Australian services men.

    • My father despised MacArthur! Pop fought in neàrly every battle in the Pacific, including the Philippines. He said that MacArthur lived in a “mansion along with his mother. Plenty of servants etc. Dad also said that it was common knowledge that MacArthur actually slept with his mother. Apparently he was a “real” mama’s boy. It is true President Truman couldn’t tolerate MacArthur and his lifestyle so he fired him!

  19. My step father, Wendell Minter, told of his brother who was part of this horrific treatment and lived to tell about it. I forget what his first name was but the last name was Minter. I would love to have more information on him to share with my grandchildren, my dad has since past.

  20. When I was about 10 years old, there was a man that was stationed at the same army fort as my father who had been in the Bataan March. I was told that he had to eat monkey as that was all the food that they could get since they weren’t fed by the Japanese soldiers. I was also told that as a result of that diet he had stomach problems as a result. This was back in 1950’s. I am glad that those soldiers are being honored at long last!

  21. Does anyone know where I can find a list of names of officers and nurses that were on the submarine Spearfish that were the last evacuees from Corregidor before it was taken?

    • What about the nurses on corrigidor? How and when wrrr they rescued? Does anyone have a nurse relative who was in corrigidor?

    • Only a few of the nurses who wound up on Corregidor were taken off the island. Most of them were captured when the surrender to Japanese forces happened. All of those eventually wound up at San Tomas in Manila.

    • Some of the nurses were later sent to Los Banos after that opened.

    • Navy Nurse Corps Association has the name of the last Nurse off The island with the patients

    • You might look up the ship on google. Also, I don’t have the exact web site, but The Navy keeps a copy of every ship’S Cruise Book. ” They were published during or shortly after the war. I had one from my dad’s ship, the USS Marblehead. It was bombed during the war and barely made it into New Guinea for repairs. My father was Chief Warrant Officer Anthony A SYdor (aka “Sy.” He was a Pearl Harbor survivor and fought in nearly every battle in the Pacific. He was nominated for the Navy Cross.
      Another Baatan survivor: Lornie Cox of Washington State. My Ben’s uncle.

    • Try Fold3. Search on the name of the submarine in “War diaries.”

    • I will look it up. So far not much luck on google.Thanks for your help

    • Fold3 has most Navy logs digitized in the War diaries Section.

      It requires a subscription, but there is so much stuff available through Fold3 that it makes sense.

    • Many thanks

  22. My mother’s second husband and the father of my brother, Jim Williams was a survivor of the Bataan Death March. She received a letter that told her he was missing in action and presumed dead so she remarried Mr. Woods , at the end of the war Williams returned home with mental issues after suffering from tortures he had to endure. They pulled out his fingernails and toenails and asking for information he couldn’t reveal. He removed to Texas to live with his grown daughters. He never fully recovered and died in Texas.

  23. The Navy Nurse Corps Association has information and lots of history about the nurses. There is a memorial to the Angles of Bataan near other monuments in Bataan; I was there for the dedication in 1980. I met many of the survivors and most of the nurses

    • Thank you

    • Wow. As s nurse, I can’t imagine what they went through.

    • The NNCA has lots of historical info including makeshift uniforms, diaries, makeshift items for medical care, etc. the exhibit has travelled around the country. Contact them and ask for history

  24. I acquired a book ( Our Days were Years) by Horace G Teel about the Battan Road March. It is very good reading and informative. They went through HELL.

  25. I had privilege of knowing a survivor of Bataan death March & subsequent imprisonment. He was father of a friend.
    He was a quiet gentle man who did not speak about what happened to them. He is a Hero.
    The spoiled rotten kids of today would never survive such treatment. Nor would the stinking elites who occupy the swamp of DC .
    I have heard that McArthur failed his men.
    So sad. Always was taught he was a great General.

  26. My Uncle Philip Arslanian was Bataan Death March Survivor. He was in the Army Air Corp and was a lifelong and devoted member of the Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor. He was national commander in 1982 and went back to the Philippines for the commemoration. I remember him also going to the launch of the USS Bataan…a light carrier. He was one of the finest persons I have ever known. Despite what he experienced and the atrocities he endured, he held no malice. In fact he stayed in the military until 1960 and was stationed in Okinawa. He spoke very little about his experiences but only through the work of his Veteran’s group. He was a Patriot I learned so much from and loved dearly.
    May God bless the souls of these heroes including the Philapino Scouts that served with honor.

  27. I have been reciving this [ fold 3 ] for some time now , and I must say this is the most talked about subject than all that I have stored, and the told story of “THE INFOMISS BATON DETH MARCH” I was in Japan for r r when I did my tour in VIET NAM and the tour guide told the whole group,[ 32 ] of us he was sorry, his father was a pow guard, and hade lived in the usa in the early thirty’s, At that time their were war lords, HIS FATHER DID HAVE some compashion, but then again this was war and the [JAPS ] at that time did not know about the Genovia convention, which I think is a bunch of (%^$#@(| ] We are the only country who o bides by it.

  28. There is a book about the nurses who were at Santo Tomas in Manila after they were captured by the Japanese. Many of them were Army and were captured when Corregidor fell, but there were also some who were Navy and were added to the group and sent with them to Santo Tomas. Most of them continued to function as nurses, working shifts and caring for the sick and injured. The few supplies they had to work with eventually ran out and they improvised where they could.
    While there was not as much outright cruelty at Santo Tomas as there was in many of the Japanese POW camps, none of the prisoners there were treated well. The nurses slowly starved right along with the other POWs. They were not freed until Manila was finally invaded during the liberation of the Phillippines.
    I can’t remember the name of the book, but it should show up with a search for Santo Tomas. There is also some info about some of the battles which forced the troops and nurses into living in open air hospitals on Bataan, the removal of the nurses to Corregidor just before Bataan fell, the hospital that the nurses worked in on Corregidor, which was set up in caves and corridors that had been dug into that island, and the removal of the.nurses to the mainland after their capture.
    The book is a good read for anyone interested in WWII, but especially for those interested In medical stuff.

    • There are two books about the women nurses that were POWs at Santo Tomas. All This Hell: U.S. Nurses Imprisoned by the Japanese (2000) by Evelyn Monahan and Rosemary Neidel-Greenlee and We Band of Angels: The untold story of American nurses trapped on Bataan by the Japanese (1999) by Elizabeth Norman. These were both very eye-opening as I had never heard about the “angels of Bataan” before. My grandfather was a Philippine scout and survivor of the Bataan death march. Unfortunately, he was haunted by this, experiencing PTSD years later and having to be incarcerated in a state mental hospital because of violent behavior that accompanied his flashbacks. It has always been a very painful memory for me visiting him in the hospital when I was a kid, seeing him as an inmate in an orange jumpsuit. I remember visiting him there one Christmas and he gave me a bottle of gold nail polish as a gift. I’ll never forget it – he didn’t stop being my grandfather.

  29. My great uncle Edwin Olson was a survivor of the Bataan Death March. He was from Colorado. His eyes were severely damaged from the experience. In spite of his health problems and the horrible memories from it, he remained in good spirits throughout his life.

  30. The war results on both sides was terrible. We Americans fire bombed Tokyo several times and caused more civilian casualties than either atomic bomb. That, along with the 100,000’s of deaths of young Japanese men in the war, you would think that there would have been lingering hostility in Japan against us.

    I was in the Navy from 1955 to 58 and went to Japan twoice. While there I went from Yokosuka to Tokyo by train, twice. The people were very friendly, polite, and helpful. Japan was safer for a youn American sailor then, than was Long Beach, Calif, after dark

    • I understand what your saying and that act was awful no question. I am sorry but it was that or more American boys dying trying to get Japan to finally surrender. The Japanese tortured people for years all over the pacific. Innocent women and children by the thousands including my mother and her family. Her cousin was mirdered just because he tried to find food. He was not even a teenager. The result of those bombs was truly horrific, but I believe it was necessary. I agree the Japanese people are wonderful, my family isn’t even bitter towards them, which I find amazing considering what they went through. Sadly war sucks and civilians get killed. They pay the consequences for what their government has done. It’s war.

    • The Japanese invaded China and committed unforgiving atrocities. Every where they occupied, they inflicted such pain and death that it should NEVER be taken lightly. What the Japan mainland had to endure should have been ten fold. My Dad served with the 6th Army in the retaking of the Phillipines. He never forgot what the Japs did to civilians and POW’S the time he was there. The 6th Army endured more consecutive days of any combat unit.I as a Vietnam veteran, still haven’t forgotten what war does to a person, I live with it every day just as my Dad had to endure.

    • I went to Japan during the occupation after WWII. I honestly was afraid of the Japanese when I first arrived. I expected to see savages. When the Japanese surrendered they surrendered completely. I never saw a gentler people. I dispised Emporor
      Hirohito but happy we kept him to control the Japanese.
      Thank God we used the two bombs on Japan as I would have been in the invasion of Japan.

  31. My son’s grandfather is a survivor of the big tan death march in three years as a POW. I’m fortunate to have found some information regarding this on the web. Unfortunately he died still a young man at 49 no doubt from the horrors that he experienced. I will be purchasing the recommended books/books to learn more. The soldier in our family’s name is Emerson Maytubby McCarter.

    • I am so terribly sorry for the AutoCorrect.

    • So so sorry to hear about all family’s trauma.
      My Mother(war was declared on her birthday 3/9/39) and her family were in England and left after the war for a fresh start in Rhodesia. Nobody in the family ever spoke about much of what happened in England. I do know they were sent into air-raid shelters often, a huge bomb blew an enormous hole in the road one street back from their home. My grandfather’s second wife was a refugee from Poland. Red Cross sent her to refugee camp in Rusape, Rhodesia from England(I think) She had spent time in a German concentration camp after working in the salt mines in Poland for them. Very sad for all in those times

  32. The Kentucky National Guard sponsored and helped put together a documentary about the Battaan Death March. At the time several survivors were still living and were interviewed for it. I know it’s abailable on cd. And if you live close to Kentucky is played every once in a while on KET television. Is playing this month

  33. My uncle Roy Edward “Sonny” Crenshaw Jr. of Kannapolis, NC, died in the camp. He was 19 years old. After the war his body was retrieved from the camp cemetery and he was reburied in his home town.

  34. What an gastly experience that must have been for all? How could the people who committed these atrocities actually live with themselves? and what was gained by it all.

  35. Last week I had the privilege to have breakfast with two WWII vets. I brought up the atomic bomb and asked them how they felt about that. They both replied at the same time-It saved many American lives, so it was bad but good. My wife had a cousin, can’t recall the name, but he died during the March.Terrible time, terrible war.

  36. I am trying to find information about Hugh Menish who was a POW of the Japanese. He survived the war but I can’t find anything about him.

    • The archives have POW paperwork. My uncle, a 17 year old Marine, was a Japanese POW. They put him in a camp in Thailand for over 3 yrs. His name was Richard (Dick) Aust from Portland, Oregon. He survived the sinking of the USS Houston. The auto correct is driving me nuts!

  37. Does anyone have any recollection of a WWII Paratrooper Pacific Theatre by the last name of Trusty. I was told he was one of the liberators of the Philippines.

  38. Few people in today’s generation have a clue to what made these survivors and their brothers in arms, the Greatest generation. Your comments lovingly keep love of these veterans alive. My family has many veterans, Marines, Navy, Army, Waves and my civilian grandmother, Minnie Higgins, who supervised a group of women here in Birmingham who rebuilt worn B-24 out machine guns so the planes could keep fighting. I am no Veteran but support them with every opportunity. God bless all of you who lost loved ones on Bataan or lived among survivors who revealed some of their suffering, and especially to those who never stopped suffering. My heart goes out to them and to those of you who keep their memories alive. War is Hell. Such a tragedy to be left and abandoned by the faux hero McArthur, who left to save himself.

    • My father (a late comer to the Pacific after serving in the ETO..his outfit staged for the invasion of Japan) referred to McArthur as Dug-out Doug. But, to give the guy his due, McArthur WAS ordered out.

      What really shines a light, I think, is that he staged his “return” to the Philippines, practicing walking ashore so the cameras could get it just right.

    • My uncle, who I have already written about here, also refers to him as “Doug-Out Doug”. That’s probably the more “printable” name bestowed on him. I hope to see my uncle in August this year, on the occasion of his 98th birthday. He really fooled those nasty Japanese who tried so hard to kill him!

    • Good for your uncle!!! Wish him an AWESOME 98th birthday from ALL of us (I’m sure!) My dad, whom I’ve also written about here, would have been 102 this year (he was 91 when he died), and my awesome uncle (who survived the march but later died due to his severe treatment, starvation, and malaria, died about two weeks after the march) would have been 103 this year! He was only 27 when he died. Bless all of these soldiers and their families!

    • You are SOOOO right about Mac Arthur! ALL he did , he did for self-aggrandizement! Even IF he was told to leave the Philippines, he COULD have stayed and “gone down with the ship” (as it were), whereby really earning those stripes and medals as our fallen heroes did!

    • Amen Doreen!

  39. I know Gen. MacArthur was called dug out Dug by some. But what you do not understand is even Generals like Gen. Mac Arthur have to obey commands. I served under Gen. MacArthur at the end of WWII and in Korea. I have a very different opinion of him.

    • You are correct. He did have to follow orders. He messed up big time when it came to action before the Japanese attacked at all, and especially after Pearl Harbor is what cost us so dearly. He did nothing to prepare. The government was who really abandoned them. Not just the military, but the US civilians living there. They just counted it as a loss before it even started. They decided it wasn’t defendable and therefore did nothing. They knew Japan would go after The Philippines at the very least they could have ordered the evacuation of the civilians months before hand. That’s what makes me mad. My family members were civilians in this war. They were treated little better than the soldiers by the Japanese.

    • GOD bless you, It was well known Roosevelt ORDERED him out. Later, it will be proven that Truman denial of nuclear weapons will kill us all!

    • Obey commands?? Yes, that’s true, HOWEVER, what about him abandoning the troops? What about saying that he’d return with more troops to help, and then he doesn’t come back for about 4 years? What about ALL those people who died because he fled, leaving others in control in his wake and they had to surrender? And what about him fleeing literally in the dead of night with his family and EVEN his son’s nanny, and several others under his direct command???? Why were THEY more important than all those THOUSANDS of people who died or were imprisoned for 3 or 4 years??? No, I’m sorry, but he does NOT deserve the praise and honor so many have given him. You have a different opinion about Mac Arthur that SOOOOOOOOOOO many others don’t. Please tell us what he DID do right………………

    • MacArthur obeying commands involved his having to follow the direct orders he was given by those higher up than he was to get out of the Phillippines. If he had refused to leave he would have been stripped of his command and most likely court martialed. He was not given permission to return to the islands until the island of Luzon had been liberated. He left in the dead of night because that was when the effort to get him and his family off was finally successful. Several previous attempts had been made to remove them and had to be abandoned for various reasons.
      Apparently you know little about the military command structure, or you would understand that NO soldier, sailor, airman, etc. can refuse a direct order from someone above him. If he does so, he will be stripped of rank and court martialed. The court martial would have to find him not guilty before he could regain his rank.
      As for his leaving being the reason the remaining troops were forced to surrender, that is blatantly untrue. There would have been a surrender even if he had been there. They were running out of supplies of all kinds and the Japanese were doing a very good job of preventing most resupply attempts. Even MacArthur couldn’t snap his fingers and make what they needed appear out of thin air.
      With all due respect, I think you need to do a lot of reading and get the facts, instead of getting all worked up over a lot of incorrect info that has been embellished over the years. It reminds me of an exercise we used to have to do in elementary school, called gossip, where the teacher whispered something to the first student, and by the time it had gone through the whole class it was usually so garbled it made no sense at all.
      Please don’t misunderstand me. I have no particular feelings at all for MacArthur. I have just read a lot of well written WWII histories by respected military authorities, and the complaints you state about McArthur have been reputed over and over again by those who knew, most of whom were lower in rank than he was AND served under his command.

    • Sorry, but I would rather believe my uncle who WAS THERE and lived through it than cover-up history accounts.

    • Well, then perhaps it’s your uncle who doesn’t/didn’t want to acknowledge that MacArthur had to follow orders from his Commander in Chief, the President of the United States, Harry S. Truman.
      Everything I’ve read, in anything at all, indicates that MacArthur did NOT want to leave the Philippines. He was going to send his family out whenever it could be arranged, but it wasn’t until he received the direct order from Truman, leaving no one else he could appeal to, that he finally gave in and realized he had to leave himself. He also wanted to return much sooner than he was allowed to, but he was ordered not to go until the President gave permission. Without that permission no transport could be obtained, so, unless he wanted to swim back, he was effectively kept out until Luzon had been recaptured.
      Most enlisted men and NCOs had no idea at all that MacArthur was being forced to leave and they subsequently felt betrayed because he had previously stated he wouldn’t leave them. Many of them never got over what they deemed to have been a lie, and that he had known all along that he would leave. To this day there are men still alive who refuse to acknowledge that MacArthur had to follow orders straight from the President.
      Yes, a lot of men were left behind when he left, but by that point there was no way that many men could be evacuated unless large ships were moved in to get them.
      One of the first things the Japanese did when they attacked the Philippines was to destroy air bases and planes on the ground. This left minimal air power for the US to use, so they had no way to protect large ships. The US could not afford to lose more large ships because we were still rebuilding the Pacific fleet from the disastrous attack on Pearl Harbour. All of this, not MacArthur, contributed to there being no way to get all those men out of the Philippines quickly. It was a bad scene, but due to a whole series of circumstances, and not to just one person.
      War is always bad and there has always been finger pointing, no matter which war it was in.
      MacArthur wasn’t perfect. No one is. But there were many others involved in the decisions that led to all the men who were left behind, just as there were others involved in the decision, ultimately upheld by President Truman, that forced MacArthur to leave the Philippines.

    • Sorry, but I don’t believe a word of it.

    • Before you dismiss my post, keep in mind that I think MacArthur was overrated, a poor general and someone who lived large.

      Now, I would respectfully suggest you read primary documents (try fold3) a lot of historical accounts AND personal memoirs. Several things should result:

      1. You will find not all historians agree with each other
      2. The evidence (the documents and accounts) itself is contradictory
      3. People who were ‘there’ don’t agree with each other either
      4. The term ‘fog of war’ is real.

      THEN you will have to actually decide. Perhaps there is a third point of view out there.

    • Oh well, everyone is entitled to their own opinion.

    • And neither do I.

    • 1942- FDR not Truman.

    • Sorry you’re right. So, FDR was President then and the Commander in Chief. Truman took over in April of 1944.

    • Took over in April 1945.

      Be sure you get the time-line correct as you make up your mind about the events.

    • I can appreciate that you have a different opinion of MacArthur, but the Japanese succeeded so easily because of him. The Japanese destroying all of our air power in their first attacks is one of the inept choices made by MacArthur. He new BEFORE the Philippines were attacked about the attack on Pearl Harbor. He did NOTHING. He did not move his planes from the same wing to wing arrangement on the tarmac that had been used in Pearl and enabled the Japanese to destroy nearly every plane in no time flat. Did MacArthur get them ready and prepared to strike back at the Japanese knowing there was a 100% chance that they would be next? NO. Did he move ammunition and supplies so they would be harder to destroy. NO. FDR by the way was the one who ordered him out, not Truman. Truman was not President yet. Was MacArthur a great military mind who should be revered. Not a chance He wanted the glory without doing the dirty work. He was a narcissistic commander out to make a name for himself. MacArthur was just as incompetent in Korea, which is why Truman fired him for it. After Korea MacArthur’s career was over, something I think that should have happened long before it did. My family were friends with him in the Philippines, my aunt even played with his son, and not one of them thought MacArthur was a great guy when everything was over.

    • I did not disagree with what you have said. I was simply trying to show that removing 70-80,000 men from the Baatan peninsula in a matter of a few days was not possible. Once the attack on Pearl Harbor happened and the Pacific fleet had been almost wiped out, we simply didn’t have the ships necessary to move that many troops quickly anywhere in the Pacific area.
      The build-up of troops in the Philippines happened gradually, not overnight. The removal needed to be quickly, not gradually, and there was no way to do it as fast as needed.
      MacArthur’s ineptness as a general contributed to the men being trapped on the Baatan peninsula, but once the Japanese had them pushed back until they had no where else to go it was all over. Lack of resupply was a big issue in our troops not being able to fight any longer.
      The previous writer, whom I was responding to, kept stating that MacArthur had abandoned the troops and basically left them at the mercy of the Japanese. My point was that when the commanding general is ordered to leave by the President of the US, he has no choice but to obey. That’s not abandonment. It’s following orders from higher up, so high up that there’s no one left to appeal to.
      Whether MacArthur was still there or not, the surrender would have happened.
      It would have been interesting to see how MacArthur would have been treated by the Japanese if he had been captured along with the troops. But we’ll never know the answer to that question.
      The other thing I’ve wondered if why MacArthur kept his family with him for so long. Yes, he made a lot of poor decisions in his command of the Philippine theater of the war, but did he really care so little about the safety of his family that he intentionally kept them there, or was it a series of unfortunate events that prevented them from leaving when other civilians were evacuated earlier.

  40. And by the way, the person who was higher up in command than MacArthur was, Harry S. Truman, Commander in Chief and President of the United States. There was no one else MaCArthur could appeal to. He had no choice but to leave.

    • Check it out. FDR was president of the USA until he died in April 1945. Truman was President during the USA involvement in Korea and actually fired MacArthur.

    • Truman was only a VP when that happened. Crack open a history book or google it.

    • Henry Wallace was VP in 1942. Truman was VP Jan 1945 and pres from Apr 1945. SO MUCH HISTORY ignorance Here!

    • Well at least I knew who the president was in 1942, for Christ sake!
      Who really pays attention to the VP? He’s just a figure-head, Unless the POTUS is on deaths door “I have a terrific pain in the back of my head”, or he’s running for the position. He’s left out of almost every decision. Truman knew nothing of the atomic bombs until he was sworn in.

    • Actually I had to look it up. Just knew it was not Truman. Just trying to keep history correct. Sorry if I offended.

    • I didn’t have to look it up. Heard it too many times in school. What seems to be an issue here are claims made by individuals whose knees jerk and who have not researched, aka looked at other points of view, about the subject at hand.

      Winners do write the histories; and each historian asks and answers questions that by necessity focus on one area of history or another. AND most historical patterns look from the top, down to the individual. But if you look around, most individuals do not have that perspective. And few individuals caught up in ANY experience see it the same way. (remember the fable about the auto accident and five witnesses who see five different accidents.)

      So…we need to be willing to investigate…AND at least get as many ‘facts’ as correct as possible…but not attack the points of view.

    • None taken. If I’m going to dish it out, I should be able to take it, as well.
      I fact checked your fact check. Was surprised to read that Truman had no VP during his 1st term. Probably something you can’t do nowadays.

    • The 25th Amendment, ratified in 1967, gave the President the power to nominate a new Vice President, which would have to be approved by a majority of both the House and Senate. Neither Truman nor Johnson had Veeps during the terms they completed for their Presidents (FDR and JFK). When Spiro Agnew resigned in 1973, Nixon chose Gerald Ford as his Veep. Ford then became President when Nixon resigned in 1974, the only President who never faced a nationwide election. He then chose Nelson Rockefeller as his Vice President. Seems like a lesson in history and government now, but this old lady remembers when it happened.

    • Ah yes! Gerald Ford…..the only president that no one ever voted for. His claim to fame was to pardon Tricky Dick. He was a seat warmer and an economy destroyer.
      If the voters only knew what was to Succeed him, Ford would no doubt have won.
      Don’t know if there’s a presidential museum for Ford. If there is, it should just be a rest stop on an interstate

      Thanks Mannie for enlightening me on the VP issue!

  41. At the beginning of WWII Gen. MacArthur was not officially in the U.S. Army. He was ( I forget his title) in command of the Phillipine Army until he was activated by the U.S.A. Before WWII the American Army did not have even enough arms for soldiers. Some practiced with broom sticks for rifles. America was really not prepared for war. The American people resisted intering the war in Europe. President Roosevelt knew he could not convience the American people we should join the war in Europe but if we were attacked we would fight. I honestly believe the American GOVERMENT knew Japan planned to attack America someplace. WE WERE NOT PREPARED FOR WAR.
    I believe many commenting (not all) did not live during WWII and are getting their information from books. I was in the Army and Air Force during the Korean (police action) War.
    This subject has gotten compleatly away from THE BATAAN DEATH MARCH and gotten to the hate of Gen. Douglas MacArtur

    • I agree that it has gotten away from the blog topic. The only reason I was even reading the blog is because I had an uncle who was in the the Army Air Corps in WWII and was in the Philippines. He survived the POW camp he was interned in and returned home at the end of the war.
      My own father was in the Navy in the war and he was the one who told me what had happened to my uncle. I wanted to talk to my uncle about his time in the service, but my father told me not to even try it. My father said that when my uncle came home he told my father one time only about his experiences, then told him never to ask him anything about it again and for him not to tell any of their family members any of it either. He had already put it behind him, writing it off as a bad experience due to war. He felt he needed to look forward and leave the bad behind him.
      I believe I might have tried to talk to him in his old age, but he was killed in an auto accident in his 50s, only a few years after I had talked to my father. I did talk to my cousin, his daughter, at one time later on, but she knew almost nothing. She said he had refused to tell them little more than that he’d worked on aircraft, and after that her mother had told them not to ask questions about it.
      My uncle was a very nice man and seemed happy with his life and family, so perhaps he had really been able to put it behind him.

  42. I went to Japan during the occupation after WWII. I honestly was afraid of the Japanese when I first arrived. I expected to see savages. When the Japanese surrendered they surrendered completely. I never saw a gentler people. I dispised Emporor
    Hirohito but happy we kept him to control the Japanese.
    Thank God we used the two bombs on Japan as I would have been in the invasion of Japan.

    • Alton, thank you for your service! I’ve been thanking our vets way before it became trendy. I question if some actually mean it. I think they feel like it’s a requirement.
      My father (Richard “Earl” Greenwald) was in WW2. He was in the 594th Boat and Shore Regiment. After the Philippians campaign, we was to be part of the Olympic operation, for the invasion of southern Japan. After reading about what they had planned for us, I know his chances of survival wouldn’t have been good. Along with you and my father, I too wouldn’t likely be here if not for those bombs!
      My father said the same as you, when he was stationed in Tokyo. He said the people couldn’t have been nicer.
      I hope this finds you in good health. Wish my father was still around. He died in 1999 at the age of 77. Miss him dearly!
      You come from the greatest generation by far and I can’t thank the WW2 vets enough! What an unbelievable time in our history!

  43. My family member who survived the death march was Brigadier General Guy O Fort. He was the highest ranking officer to be captured, tortured and executed by the Japanese near Luzon. His remains have not been properly identified nor returned. I am involved in a lawsuit to force the government to use dna to identify the remains and bring this unsung America hero home. He served in the Phillipines for many years including the post of constabulary. I have his handwritten diaries and they are remarkable. MacArthur came through the Philippines and offered him the choice of leaving with him on a ship or staying to defend the Philippine families and soldiers he had lived with and served for so many years.
    He stayed. His children were sent home. He was ultimately captured and imprisoned. He survived the March as he was allowed to ride part of the way because of his rank. Survival was temporary. After torture and his refusal to convince the Moro tribe to lay down their arms against the Japanese, he was executed in November 1942. There are eyewitness reports from the trial of the Japanese officer that ordered his execution that he turned to face his executioners and yelled “you may get me, but you will never get the United States of America. His children were orphaned when Guy’s wife committed suicide by drinking lye.
    I want to bring this remarkable unsung hero home and bury him with his sons here in So California. Anyone who knew him and has a story to share would be so welcome to tell it.
    Truly, how can the US leave our hero’s in mass graves still unidentified?

    • What a brave man. Men like him are what made this the greatest generation. I wish you the very best in trying to find his remains and bring them home. With your work you may help so many other families find and locate the remains of their loved ones as well.

    • Your story gave me goose-bumps! What a hero!! Would that our other so-called leaders in the Philippines would also have been as self-sacrificing as your family member instead of leaving. Your family deserves to have his remains returned, and I know there’s a group who is looking into that…Don’t remember it off hand, but I’ll look into it for you and get back to you. I just found our about a month ago that my uncle’s actual remains are at the American Manila Cemetery, after 76 years of not knowing where he actually was! So there is hope!

  44. Thank You, Barbara Fox for sharing your memory of your Family Member and for taking action to bring home the remains of our real American heroes.

  45. My uncles, (my mother’s brothers) BOTH survived the Bataan Death March. My grandparents received word April 1943, after not knowing for so long, that both their sons, Frederic Francis Rohde (1917-1992) and Philip Grant Rohde (1919-1959) (were Japanese POWs. My uncle Fred was liberated after 4 years from a Luzon prison camp (weighing 73 lbs) and my Uncle Phil also survived Catabatuan after the dramatic Ranger raid. They NEVER spoke about it.
    While they were missing my Mom joined the WAC and was a recruiter—while waiting for her brothers. Just can’t imagine

    • Where were the Rodhe brothers from? I know of a “relative” in Nebraska by that name….It just stood out to me because it’s such a different name. Thanks.