June 14's Fact of the Week: Bataan Death March

Following General MacArthur’s departure, Bataan fell in the Philippines to the Japanese military on April 9, 1942. Tens of thousands of Filipino and American soldiers surrendered as prisoners of war. In an event subsequently known as the Bataan Death March, Japanese soldiers brutally forced the prisoners to first march to San Fernando under inhumane conditions. Thousands died along the way from starvation, heat exhaustion - especially from the sweltering heat, sickness, and dehydration. Often times the Japanese soldiers would arbitrarily beat, bayonet, and kill those that fell behind and could no longer continue or stepped out of the line. Once at San Fernando, the prisoners were crammed into overcrowded trains, forced to stand still in a suffocating small space with rampant disease and death. When the trains reached Capas, they would then march the final few miles to Camp O’ Donnell. At the internment camp, conditions remained similar. Many more would not survive as they continued to face malnourishment especially from the lack of food and shortage of water, deteriorating health conditions and treatment, forced physical labor, and hopelessness.