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.

Our spine novel is We Were There at the Battle for Bataan

Access the complete unit in the 'We Were There' Novel Studies Bundle!

Includes THIRTY-SIX unit studies covering World & American History. Each unit addresses a new topic, spanning the the ancient world through post-WW2.  Each unit has introductory text, which will give the student basic background information about the topic at hand.

  • There are photographs and illustrations, and we have also included primary documents when available.
  • After this text, there are featured videos, which augment the background information and help make the topic more accessible for more visual students.
  • You will also find a short list of reading books, including a featured novel that the unit builds upon.
  • There are vocabulary words, places, and people to identify.
  • Reading comprehension, critical thinking questions, and writing assignments are included.
  • We add fun with hands-on activities and extra videos to watch that will bring the era to life.

These studies are directed toward upper grades students, but some have resources for younger students so that the whole family can work together. Our family has used unit studies as curriculum for many years, and we hope that your family will enjoy these, too!

Product Samples:

A Study of Japan:

  • Covers the history of Japan from ancient times to present day
  • Examines the Japanese culture and its influences
  • Explores the geography of this small, but strong island
  • Delves into the technology and pop-culture of the people
  • Goes on rabbit trails about art, history, and modern economics of Japan and its fellow nations
  • Is the equivalent of one year of high school history

Get the entire World War 2 Bundle!


  • The Book Thief
  • We Were There at the Battle of Britain
  • Number the Stars
  • The Winged Watchmen
  • We Were There at Pearl Harbor
  • We Were There at the Battle of Bataan
  • Island War
  • Red Stars
  • The Night Witches
  • Mare’s War
  • We Were There at the Normandy Invasion
  • Code Talkers
  • We Were There at the Battle of the Bulge
  • The Light Between Us
  • We Were There at the Open of the Atomic Era
  • A Merry 1940s Christmas

Product samples:


  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)


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