Sunday, November 4

We Were There at the Battle for Bataan

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This unit would be more appropriate for older children....

Pearl Harbor wasn't the only place attacked on December 7, 1941. The Japanese attacked Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, Wake Island Guam and the Philippine Islands. Bataan is a province in the Philippines, located on the island of Luzon. It is across the bay from the capital, Manila.

General Douglas MacArthur was commander of the joint American-Filipino Army in the Philippines. They resisted the Japanese army for several months while waiting for the United States to send re-enforcements and supplies, but the United States attended to Europe first. The President also ordered General MacArthur to leave the island and go wait out the battle in Australia. After this, the troops on the Bataan Peninsula were commanded by Major General King.

Supplies were not getting through to the American-Filipino troops, so many suffered from nutrition deficiencies and endured tropical diseases such as malaria and dysentery. After holding out as long as possible, on April 9, the troops surrendered to the Japanese. With nearly 75,000 men (mixture of American and Filipino troops), this was the largest surrender in United States military history.

The men who surrendered were forced to march 66 miles up the Bataan Peninsula to a prison. The Japanese did not give the prisoners food or water for three days. Those that became weak and fell behind were beaten and killed. Many men died during the Bataan Death March, many more died in the prisoner of war camp from starvation and disease, and even more suffered acute and chronic physical injuries as a result of the march.

The prisoners stayed at the camp until early 1945, when they were rescued when the Allies took the Philippines. Although local newspapers had reported that the prisoners were well-treated, the truth came out when prisoners of war began to tell their stories. The Japanese commanding officer was executed for war crimes against humanity.
Battle for Bataan unit :
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  1. I never heard of this. I'm always amazed that the POWs could even survive such harsh conditions.

    1. It's truly a heart-wrenching story...and this book edits out quite a bit for the young reader!

  2. This looks like a very good study to do for those who are looking for more complete information about the war in the Pacific. It is a fairly underdiscussed part of the war. Thanks for sharing about this important event.

  3. The Pacific Theater gets too often overlooked. So much happened there - so much of it sad.

  4. i read about this sometime in my teens and was horrified at the treatment of the prisoners, took me a long time to think about the Japanese in a friendly light afterwards.... Silly how some things stick eh? I'm over it now (at least I think so though this post brought back memories)