Horror of the 'Bataan Death March'
11th April 1942: American and Filipino soldiers suffer alongside civilians as the Japanese turn a difficult march into a procession of torture and murder
With the final collapse of the resistance on Bataan the Japanese now forced the captured American and Filipino troops on what became known as the Bataan Death March.
The march began on the 10th April 1942 - some 75,000 men were to walk the eighty miles to their detention camp in the tropical heat. There was no food and often no water, many men were only allowed to drink from stagnant pools. Those who could not walk through illness or wounds, or fell behind with exhaustion were shot, bayonetted or worse. Random violence from the guards was routine.
Even when there were breaks in the march the sadistic treatment continued. U.S. Officer William E. Dyess1 managed to later record many incidents, of which this is just one:
Eventually the road, became so crowded we were marched into a clearing. Here, for two hours, we had our first taste of the oriental sun treatment, which drains the stamina and weakens the spirit.
The Japs seated us on the scorching ground, exposed to the full glare of the sun. Many of the Americans and Filipinos had no covering to protect their heads. I was beside a small bush, but it cast no shade because the sun was almost directly above us. Many of the men around me were ill.
‘A squat Jap officer grinned at him and picked up a can of salmon. Then he smashed it against the colonel’s head, opening the American’s cheek from eye to jawbone.’
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