Outline of Events
(The purpose of this "Outline of Events" is to
provide an overall picture into the plight suffered by the Defenders of
Bataan. It is not meant to provide
detailed, all-inclusive, information. If
you wish detailed information, on any of the steps of this outline, feel free
to e-mail us at Battling Bastards of
1. On Dec. 7, 1941, Japan
attacked Pearl Harbor. The American Pacific Naval Fleet suffered
heavy losses in lives and ships. The
Fleet was incapacitated and could not, in that state, defend American interest
in the Pacific Rim and in Asia.
2. Only eight hours later, on Dec. 8, 1941 (due to the
difference in time zones), Japan
launched an aerial attack on Philippines. Most of the American Air Force, in the Philippines,
was destroyed, while the planes were on the ground.
3. A few days later, advanced Japanese forces, led by Lt.
Gen. Masaharu Homma, landed on the Philippines. The Japanese landings were in Northern Luzon
and Southern Luzon, and in the Southern
4. Gen. Douglas MacArthur, Commander of the
Filipino-American forces decided to meet the Japanese at their points of
landing. This course of action deviated
from the original War Plan, devised prior to WW II, which called for the
American forces to withdraw into the Bataan
Peninsula in case of
5. Inexperienced troops failed to stop the Japanese at
these points of landing. MacArthur had
to revert back to the original plan, withdrawing the Filipino-American forces
into the Bataan Peninsula. By the January 2, 1942, the Northern Luzon
forces were in-place for the defense of Bataan.
6. Their mission, in the baseball vernacular, was to
"lay down a bunt". They were
to stall the Japanese advancement, by forcing them to use much of their troops
and resources in the capturing of the Philippines, for as long as
possible. This would buy the necessary
time needed to rebuild the American Pacific Fleet, which at the time had been
crippled, by the Pearl Harbor attack and the bombing of the American Air Bases,
in the Philippines. Also, a successful defensive stand against
the Japanese would improve the morale of our nation during those early, dark
days after Pearl Harbor.
7. The Filipino-American Defense of Bataan
was hampered by many factors:
a) A shortage of food, ammunition, medicine, and attendant
b) Most of the ammunition was old and corroded. The AA shells lacked proper fuses, as did
many of the 155mm artillery shells.
c) Tanks, Trucks, and other vehicles were in short supply,
as was the gasoline needed to power these items of warfare.
d) Poorly trained Filipino troops, most of whom never
fired a weapon, were thrown into frontline combat against highly trained
Japanese veterans. Americans from
non-combatant outfits: such as air corpsmen and, in some instances, even
civilians, were formed into provisional infantry units.
8. The Defenders of Bataan
continued to hold their ground, without reinforcements and without being
re-supplied. Disease, malnutrition,
fatigue, and a lack of basic supplies took their toll.
9. On March 11, 1942, Gen. MacArthur was ordered to Australia, Gen. Wainwright took his place in
Corregidor, as Commander of the Philippine forces, and Gen. King took
Wainwright's place, as Commander of the Fil-American
forces on Bataan.
10. Around the latter part of March, Gen. King and his
staff assessed the fighting capabilities of his forces, in view of an impending
major assault planned by Gen. Homma.
Gen. King and his staff determined the Fil-American
forces, in Bataan, could only fight at 30% of
their efficiency, due to malnutrition, disease, a lack of ammunition and basic
supplies, and fatigue. On April 3, 1942,
the Japanese launched their all out final offensive to take Bataan.
11. On 9 April 1942, Gen. King surrendered his forces on Bataan, after the Japanese had broken through the Fil-American II Corps main line of resistance.
12. The Japanese assembled their captive Fil-American soldiers in the various sectors in Bataan, but
mainly at Mariveles, the southern most tip of the Peninsula.
Although American trucks were available to transport the prisoners, the
Japanese decided to march the Defenders of Bataan to their destinations. This march came to be known as the
13. The "Death March" was really a series of
marches, which lasted from five to nine days.
The distance a captive had to march was determined by where on the trail
the captive began the march.
14. The basic trail of the "Death March" was as
follows: a 62-mile march from Mariveles, Bataan, to San Fernando, Pamgpanga. At San Fernando, the
prisoners were placed into train-cars, made for cargo, and railed to Capas, Tarlac, a
distance of around 24 miles. Dozens died standing up in the railroad cars, as
the cars were so cramped that there was no room for the dead to fall. They were, then, marched another six miles to
their final destination, Camp
15. Several thousand men died on the "Death
March". Many died, because they
were not in any physical condition to undertake such a march. Once on the march, they were not given any
food or water. Japanese soldiers killed many of them through various
means. Also, POWs were repeatedly beaten
them and treated inhumanely, as they marched.
16. Approximately, 1,600 Americans died in the first forty
days in Camp O'Donnell. Almost 20,000 Filipinos died in their first
four months of captivity, in the same camp.
The healthier prisoners took turns burying their comrades into mass
graves, just as they, themselves, would be buried, days or weeks later.
O'Donnell did not have
the sanitation infrastructure or water supply necessary to hold such a large
amount of men. Many died from diseases
they had since Bataan. Many caught new diseases, while at the
Camp. There was little medicine
available to the prisoners. Their
inadequate diets also contributed to the high death rate. Diseases such as dysentery, from a lack of
safe drinking water, and Beri-Beri, from malnutrition
were common to the POWs. The Japanese
soldiers continued to murder and miss-treat their captives.
18. Due to the high death rate in Camp
O'Donnell, the Japanese transferred
all Americans to Cabanatuan, north of Camp O'Donnell,
on June 6, 1942, leaving behind five hundred as caretakers and for funeral
details. They in-turn were sent to Cabanatuan on July 5,
1942. The Filipino prisoners were
paroled, beginning in September, 1942.
19. Cabanatuan was the camp
in which the men from Corregidor were first united with the men from Bataan. No
Americans* from Corregidor ever made the "Death March" or were
imprisoned in Camp
O'Donnell. Not having suffered the extreme depravations
and conditions endured by the men from Bataan, the prisoners from Corregidor were, overall, much healthier. (*There were
Philippine Scouts and some men from the Philippine Army, captured in
Corregidor, who were interned in Camp
for most prisoners, ended up being a temporary camp. The Japanese had a policy (which was a direct
violation of the Geneva Convention) that prisoners were to be used as a source
of labor. They sent most of the
prisoners, from Cabanatuan, to various other
camps in the Philippines, China, Japan,
where they were used as slave labor.
Some worked in mines, others in farms, others in factories, and others
unloading ships in Port Areas, for the remainder of the war. Each subsequent prison camp, after Cabanatuan, has a story of
21. Left behind, in Cabanatuan,
were, approximately, 511 officers and the prisoners too sick to move (and most
of those too sick to move never recovered and died in Cabanatuan).
Towards the end of the war, most of the men who stayed behind were
placed on ships and sent to other camps, in Japan,
Korea, and China. The Japanese did not mark these ships, to
note that there were prisoners on board.
They were bombed and torpedoed by American planes and submarines. Many of these men died, by drowning at sea.
22. Most prisoners who left Cabanatuan in 1942,
were sent to the other countries mentioned, in ships appropriately called,
"Hell Ships". These "Hell
Ships" sailed from Manila to their various
destinations in Japan, Korea, or China. As mentioned earlier, the Japanese did not
mark these ships as being prison ships, so they were targets for American
planes and submarines. Thousands of
Americans, who were passengers on these ships, met their deaths by drowning at
23. The conditions on these ships are indescribable and as
bad as the conditions endured in "Death March" and Camp O'Donnell.
24. For the remaining three years of their captivity, the
Defenders of Bataan were spread throughout the various slave labor camps in Japan, Korea,
China, and the Philippines,
until each camp was individually liberated, in 1945. These prisoners endured the whims of their
brutal captors, with similar conditions and miss-treatment as those experienced
in the "Death March", and Camp
O'Donnell, and the
uncertainty of when, if ever, their captivity would end.
25. Coming from the warm tropical climate of the Philippines, the men sent to Japan, Korea,
and China had to adjust to
the sub-freezing temperatures of Northern Asia,
without the proper personal equipment and indoor heating to survive such cold
temperatures. In Manchuria, China,
the POWs, who died in the winter, were placed in an unheated shack for their
bodies to freeze, because the ground was so frozen and hard that they could not
be buried until the spring.
26. After they were released, these men were sent to
various military hospitals for physical examinations. Many of their ailments, due to malnutrition,
went undiagnosed. Many of the systemic
fevers they had contracted went undiagnosed.
More importantly, the psychological scars they suffered were never
recognized. It was not until years after
the Vietnam War, that the US
government recognized "Post Traumatic Stress Disorder" or PTSD as a
legitimate disorder. It is safe to say,
each of these men has carried these scars for the rest of their lives, and
indirectly, so did their families.
27. After the war, little was made of the plight of these
men. Until recently, few books were
written about their ordeal. There were
many reasons for this: by the time the Defenders of Bataan came home, the US had already heard a multitude of war stories
about the great battles in the Pacific and in Europe. The Defenders of Bataan had surrendered. (Most Americans failed to recognize that the
Defenders of Bataan were surrendered as a force, by their Commanding
General. They did not surrender as
28. After the War, Japan
and the US
formed an alliance to ensure their mutual economic prosperity and to ensure
their mutual security. It became an
unwritten policy to play down Japanese War Crimes, satisfied with the meager
results produced by the Tokyo
and Manila War Crimes trials.
29. Unknown to most: POWs held by the Germans died at a
rate of 1.1%. POWs held by the Japanese
died at a rate of 37%.
The death rate amongst the Defenders of Bataan was much higher, because of
their weakened condition, prior to their capture.
has acknowledged their war crimes and has made restitution to the victims. Japan has denied everything. In their history books and in their school
books, they have re-written history in an effort to falsely show they were the
victims of the War, citing the atomic bombs in Hiroshima
as proof of their victimization.
After the war and faced with the threat of the Soviet
Union, The United States and it's allies permitted Japan to escape the close
scrutiny given to the Germans. Known Japanese war criminals went free to, not
only, walk the streets of Japan,
but the streets of the United
States, as well.
Please bring this outline to the attention of your school
systems, which are negligent in presenting this part of World War II to the
Return to the Table of