PEOPLE AND PLACES

PEOPLE AND PLACES

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

WORLD WAR II BATAAN DEATH MARCH -

 

 WORLD WAR II  BATAAN DEATH  MARCH

'It is with no little diffidence and misgiving that I approach my description of the facts and events in the Bataan Death March. To give an accurate description of the misdeeds of these Japanese troops, it would be necessary for me to describe actions which plum the very depths of human depravity and degradation. The keynote of the whole of this crime can be epitomized by two words- unspeakable horror. Horror stark and naked permeates every corner and angle of this case from beginning to end, devoid of relief or palliation. I have searched, I have searched diligently amongst a vast mass of evidence to discover some redeeming feature, some mitigating factor in the conduct of these men which would elevate the story from the level of pure horror and bestiality and ennoble it, at least upon the plane of tragedy. I confess I have failed' 

The March to Death

The Bataan Death March was one of the most brutal atrocities done by the Japanese to the POWs during the second World War. The Bataan Death march (aka The Death March of Bataan) was a war crime involving the forcible transfer of prisoners of war, with wide-ranging abuse and high fatalities, by Japanese forces in the Philippines in 1942. The march occurred after the three-month Battle of Bataan, part of the Battle of the Philippines (1941-42), during World War II. In Japanese, it is known as Batān Shi no Kōshin (バターン死の行進 , Batān Shi no Kōshin?), with the same meaning. There were thousands of Filipinos and Americans killed from Japanese brutality during the march and those who survived suffered hunger and again death from turture.

The Fall of Bataan

On April 9, 1942, approximately 75,000 Filipino and United States soldiers, commanded by Major General Edward "Ned" P. King, Jr., were formally surrendered to a Japanese army of 50,000 men under Lt. General Masaharu Homma. This required Japan to accept emaciated captives who vastly outnumbered them. The Japanese, having expected the fighting to continue longer, had only expected 25,000 prisoners of war and did not have any facilities vast enough to properly care for them.

Logistics planning to move the prisoners of war from Mariveles to Camp O'Donnell, a prison camp in the province of Tarlac, was handed down to transportation officer Major General Yoshitake Kawane ten days prior to the final Japanese assault. The first phase of the operation, which was to bring all of the prisoners to Balanga, consisted of a nineteen mile march that was expected to take one day. Upon reaching Balanga, Kawane was then to take personal command of executing the second phase, which consisted of transporting the men to the prison camp. 200 trucks were to be utilized to take the prisoners 33 miles north to the rail center at San Fernando, where freight trains, which would move them another 30 miles to the village of Capas, awaited them. Upon reaching Capas, the prisoners were then to march an additional 8 miles on foot to Camp O'Donnell. Field hospitals were to be established at Balanga and San Fernando while various aid stations and resting places were to be set up every few miles.

The Death March

Although General Homma and Kawane had expected only 25,000 prisoners of war, they were greeted by more than 75,000 (66,000 Filipinos and 11,796 Americans) starving and malaria-stricken captives at Bataan. During the battle, only 27,000 of these men were listed as "combat effective". Even then, three fourths of this number were still affected by malaria. As a result, the Japanese army met great difficulties in transporting these prisoners from the beginning. Distributing food was also almost impossible as many were fed nothing. 4,000 sick or wounded captives had to stay behind to be treated by the Japanese at Bataan. A shortage of manpower and supplies on the part of the Japanese, who were now laying siege to Corregidor, raised confusion and irritation amongst the guards as many prisoners escaped. At most, only 4 Japanese soldiers could accompany each group of 300 prisoners. The march to Balanga, which was to take only one day, lasted as long as three days for some soldiers.

After reaching Balanga, it became obvious to General Kawane that his trucks could not carry more than half of the prisoners to the rail center at San Fernando. Since most of the other vehicles the Japanese had brought to the Philippines were either in repair or being used for the Battle of Corregidor, those who could not get a ride were forced to continue marching for more than 30 miles on completely unshaded roads that were sometimes made of asphalt. The thick dust swirling in the air would make it difficult for the prisoners to see and breathe while those who were walking barefoot had their feet burned on the molten asphalt. Men who refused to abandon their belongings were the first to fall. The last nine miles of the march from the town of Lubao to San Fernando were among the hardest the men would ever walk.

Those who were able to reach San Fernando alive were then locked into makeshift prisons where they were finally able to receive some level of proper and adequate medical care, food, and rest. Soon after this, however, the prisoners were jammed into freight trains that took them to Capas. Vomiting was frequent during the ride as some were even crammed or suffocated to death. After the three hour trip, which included very few stops of rest, the prisoners then marched the 8 mile road to Camp O'Donnell.

Through the duration of nine days, a majority of the disease and grief stricken Filipino and American prisoners were forced to march as much as two-thirds of the 90 miles that separated Bataan from Camp O'Donnell. Those few who were lucky enough to travel to San Fernando on trucks still had to endure more than 25 miles of marching. Prisoners were beaten randomly and were often denied the food and water they were promised. Those who fell behind were usually executed or left to die; the sides of the roads became littered with dead bodies and those begging for help. A number of prisoners were further diminished by malaria, heat, dehydration, and dysentery. It should be noted, however, that many of the soldiers who accompanied the prisoners of war were not only Japanese, but Korean. Since they were not trusted by the Japanese to fight on the battlefield, most Koreans in the Japanese army were forbidden to participate in combat roles and delegated to such service duties as guarding prisoners. As one prisoner noted, "The Korean guards were the most abusive... the Koreans were anxious to get blood on their bayonets; and then they thought they were veterans."

After the Bataan Death March, approximately 54,000 of the 72,000 prisoners reached their destination. The death toll of the march is difficult to assess as thousands of captives were able to escape from their guards. In some instances, prisoners were even released by their Japanese counterparts. Out of fear that the prisoners would be mistreated, Colonel Takeo Imai made the humanitarian decision of releasing more than 1,000 of his prisoners into the jungle. These acts of kindness, however, were especially rare. All told, approximately 5,000-10,000 Filipino and 600-650 American prisoners of war died before they could reach Camp O'Donnell.

Source: Wikipedia.org

Camps O'Donnell and Cabanatuan

On June 6, 1942 the Filipino soldiers were granted amnesty by the Japanese military and released while the American prisoners were moved from Camp O'Donnell to Cabanatuan. Many of the survivors were later sent to prison camps in Japan, Korea, and Manchuria in prisoner transports known as "Hell Ships." The 500 POWs who still resided at the Cabanatuan Prison Camp were freed in January 1945 in what would be known as The Great Raid.

War Crimes Trial

After the surrender of Japan in 1945, an Allied commission convicted General Homma of war crimes, including the atrocities of the death march out of Bataan, and the atrocities at Camp O'Donnell and Cabanatuan that followed. The general, who had been so absorbed in his efforts to capture Corregidor after the fall of Bataan, remained ignorant of the high death toll until two months after the event. His neglect would cost him his life as General Homma was executed on April 3, 1946 outside Manila.

Bataan POWs

excerpts from history.sandiego.edu

he 1929 Geneva Convention set guidelines on how Prisoners of War were to be treated in the hands of their captors. However, some countries, such as Japan and Russia, did not ratify it. Still, it was believed that they would follow the treatment guidelines, if for no other reason than to protect their own troops in enemy hands from retaliation. While no exact number of World War II POWs can ever be determined, it is estimated to be around thirty-five million.

The International committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) requested assurances from each country that they would abide by the Convention guidelines.

For these states to do so ... would involve maintaining adequate standards regarding food, shelter, labor, and hygiene - all roughly equal to those granted rear-area troops - and guaranteeing the ICRC and the designated protecting power access to camps to make sure these provisions were being observed and to listen privately to prisoners' complaints. The provisions concerning labor - adequate pay, limited working hours, no unhealthy or dangerous jobs, and no war-related work - also severely limited the extent to which costs could be recouped through the employment of POWs. (45)

While the signers of the Convention agreed to abide by the guidelines, not all did. Treatment could range from decent, such as in most American camps, to unthinkable atrocities, such as those committed by the Japanese in the Philippines.

The infamous Bataan Death March is considered to be the worst atrocity committed to Prisoners of War in World War II. While the rationale behind such horrendous behavior is inconceivable to many, it is explained by the mindset of the Japanese military. To their beliefs, to surrender was the ultimate shame and dishonor; therefore, POWs did not deserve humane treatment.

While Japan had ratified the 1907 Hague Convention, and treated its POWs decently afterwards, their belief system had changed by the late 1930s. Japanese military personnel and civilians had a very strong nationalistic attitude, where everything is done in reverence to the Emperor. In World War II, they did not believe enemy POWs deserved humane treatment, and would not allow the ICRC to inspect the POW camps believing that they were only there on propaganda and spy missions. Their soldiers were taught that capture would bring dishonor to themselves and their families. This partially explains why percentage wise, so few Japanese were captured. They would rather die heroically than live in disgrace. By 1942 only a few thousand Japanese were in captivity versus over 200,000 Allied troops.

While the Allies believed Japan agreed to abide by the 1929 Geneva Convention, they in fact only agreed to do so as long as it did not interfere with their military policy. General Tojo Hideki, Japan's war minister and premier, said in 1942, POWs would be expected to do all that Japan's citizens were do to. In reality their treatment was much worse. POWs were subjected to strict discipline, arbitrary beatings, inadequate food and medicine, and executed if they tried to escape. The Japanese were not concerned about retribution to their own soldiers because they were considered non-persons, due to allowing themselves to be captured. When the Red Cross tried to publicize worldwide about the treatment POWs were receiving at the hands of the Japanese, they denied it. When the Japanese realized they were loosing the war, their abuse became worse and they murdered or caused the deaths of thousands of POWs. They did this because they knew liberation was near and they did not want the POWs to be liberated.

Click thumbnail to view full-size

Story of Atrocities by Japs on Hapless Prisoners is released by the U.S.; Deliberate Starvation, Torture, Death

courtesy of Bataan Corregidor Memorial Foundation of New Mexico, Inc

WASHINGTON, D.C. (AP) — JAN. 28, 1944 — A pent-up story of atrocities perpetrated by the Japanese army on the captured heroes of Bataan and Corregidor was released by the United States government today in sickening detail.

A joint report by the Army and Navy broke at last the rigid censorship maintained by the high command on the almost unbelievable reports that came out of the Pacific, to tell what happened to the men whose valor slowed the tide of Japanese conquest.

A Tale of Torture

Compiled from the sworn statements of officers who survived the starvation and torture and escaped, it catalogued the infamy of a brutal enemy, and wrote in shocking terms the code of the Japanese warrior — to subject 36,000 gallant soldiers to deliberate starvation, to shoot in cold blood the thirsty who seek water, to watch sick men writhe and deny them medicine, to horsewhip those who help their fallen comrades, to beat men with two-by-fours, to behead those who try to escape, and to bury tortured men alive.

The three who lived to return and tell of the agony they endured were Commander Melvyn H. McCoy, USN, of Indianapolis, Lt. Col. S. M. Mellnik, Coast Artillery Corps of Dunmore, Pa., and Lt. Col. William E. Dyess, Air Corps, of Albany, Tex. Dyess is dead—killed in a fighter plane crash at Burbank, Calif., recently while preparing to return to duty in the Pacific. Mellnik is with Gen. Douglas MacArthur in the Southwest Pacific, McCoy on duty in the United States.

Statements Verified

“Their sworn statements included no hearsay whatever, but only facts which the officers related from their own personal experience and observations,” said the official report.

The statements have been verified from other sources.

The three officers stated that several times as many American prisoners of war have died, mostly of starvation, forced hard labor, and general brutality, as the Japanese have ever reported.

At one prison camp, Camp O’Donnell, about 2,200 American prisoners died in April and May 1942. In the camp at Cabanatuan, about 3,000 Americans had died up to the end of October 1942. Still heavier mortality occurred among the Filipino prisoners of war at Camp O’Donnell.

The March of Death

The calculated campaign of brutality began as soon as the exhausted American and Filipino soldiers on Bataan collapsed under the overwhelming weight of the enemy assault. What was in store for them was to begin with “the march of death” — and Dyess reported that, beaten and hopeless as they were, they never would have surrendered if they had guessed what lay ahead.

Thousands of prisoners were herded together on the Mariveles airfield at daylight April 10, within earshot of the still defiant guns of Corregidor. Some had food, but were not permitted to eat. All were searched, their personal belongings seized. Those with Japanese money or tokens were beheaded.

Then, in groups of 500 to 1,000 they began the terrible six-day march, along the national road of Bataan toward San Fernando in Pampanga province, the “march of death” so hideous that it would make the black hole of Calcutta sound like a haven of refuge.

A Japanese soldier took Dyess’ canteen, gave the water to a horse, threw the canteen away. In a broiling sun, the prisoners were herded through clouds of dust. Men recently killed lay along the road, their bodies flattened by Japanese trucks. Patients bombed out of a field hospital were pushed into the marching column. At midnight the entire group was penned in an enclosure too narrow to allow any of them to lie down. They had no water — a Japanese officer finally permitted them to drink at a dirty carabao wallow.

Before daylight the next day the March was resumed. Still no food for any of them. — water at noon from a dirty roadside stream. Another bullpen at night. When exhausted men fell out moaning, no one was allowed to help — those who still marched heard shots behind them.

The Sun Treatment

On the third day “we were introduced to a form of torture which came to be known as the sun treatment. We were made to sit in the boiling sun all day without cover. We had very little water; our thirst was intense. Many of us went crazy and several died.

“Three Filipino and three American soldiers were buried while still alive.”

Death for Water

“Along the road in the province of Pampanga there are many wells. Half-crazed with thirst, six Filipino soldiers made a dash for one of the wells. All six were killed. As we passed Lubao we marched by a Filipino soldier gutted and hanging over a barbed-wire fence.

“Before daylight on April 15 we marched out and 115 of us were packed into a small narrow-gauge box car. The doors were closed and locked. Movement was impossible. Many of the prisoners were suffering from diarrhea and dysentery. The heat and stench were unbearable.

“At Capas Tarlac we were taken out and given the sun treatment for three hours. Then we were marched to Camp O’Donnell.

“I made that march of about 85 miles in six days on one mess kit of rice. Other Americans made ‘the march of death’ in 12 days without any food whatever.”

The prisoners taken at Corregidor did not experience that march, but 7,000 Americans and 5,000 Filipinos were packed for a week with no food on a concrete pavement 100 yards square. There was one water spigot for the 12,000 — the average wait to fill a canteen was 12 hours. They got their first food — a mess kit of rice and a can of sardines — after seven days.

6 to 10 Hours for Water

At Camp O’Donnell there were virtually no water facilities. Prisoners stood in line 6 to 10 hours to get a drink. Clothing went unchanged a month and a half. The principal food was rice, varied twice in two months with enough meat to give one-fourth of the men a piece an inch square. A few times there were comotes, a type of sweet potato, but many were rotten and the prisoners themselves had to post a guard to keep their starving comrades from devouring the rotten vegetables. There was an occasional dab of coconut lard, a little flour, a few mango beans. But there was a black market — those who had money could buy from the Japanese a small can of fish for $5.

There was a hospital — a dilapidated building with no facilities, no medicine. Hundreds lay on the bare floor without cover. The doctors did not even have water to wash the human filth from their patients. After one week, the death rate was 20 Americans a day, 150 Filipinos; after two weeks, 50 and 500 respectively. The sick as well as the merely starving were forced into work gangs, and worked until they dropped dead.

Water Here

About June 1, the Americans were removed from Camp O’Donnell to Cabanatuan, where Dyess joined Mellnik and McCoy, who had come in from Corregidor. Conditions there were a little better. There was adequate drinking water, it was possible to bathe in muddy water; but the diet did not improve. And the brutality continued — men were beaten with shovels and golf clubs, “men were literally worked to death.”

Three officers who tried to escape were caught, stripped to their shorts, their hands tied behind them and pulled up by ropes fastened overhead, and kept in this position in the blazing sun for two days; periodically the Japs beat them with a two-by-four; finally one was beheaded and the others shot. By Oct. 26, when Dyess, McCoy and Mellnik left Cabanatuan, 3,000 of the American prisoners had died.

Red Cross Salvation

The three officers were taken with 966 other prisoners, to a penal camp at Davao, Mindanao and put to hard labor. Food was slightly better there, but “the salvation of the American prisoners of war,” Dyess reported, was the American and British Red Cross supplies, both clothing and food, that finally began to arrive months late. The beatings, the murder, the studied mistreatment and humiliation continued. By April 1943, there were 1,100 of the 2,000 prisoners at Davao still able to work.

This was the life from which McCoy, Dyess and Mellnik escaped April 4, 1943. The account is based solely on their official reports, but the Army and Navy said at least four others were known to have escaped from the Philippines — Majors Michiel Dobervitch, Ironton, Minn., Austin C. Shoffner, Shelbyville, Tenn., Jack Hawkins, Roxton, Tex., and Corp. Reid Carlos Chamberlain, El Cajone, Calif., all of the Marine Corps.

Worldwar II Collections and Artifacts

Japan's Mass Rape and Sexual Enslavement of Women and Girls from 1932-1945: The "Comfort Women" System

courtesy of: http://www.cmht.com/cases_cwcomfort2.php

"There has been no greater mass crime that I know of . . . that has been committed against modern women, modern-day women, in the 20th century."-Statement of Brig. Gen. Vorley M. Rexroad (Ret.), January 17, 2001.

Introduction

Beginning in 1931 or 1932 and continuing throughout the duration of the Asian/Pacific wars, the Japanese Government instituted a system of sexual slavery throughout the territories it occupied. During that time, women were recruited by force, coercion, or deception into sexual slavery for the Japanese military. These women were euphemistically referred to as "comfort women" by the Japanese Imperial Army. Although historians often disagree about the number of "comfort women," the most widely used figure is estimated at 200,000. The majority (approximately 80%) came from Korea, then a Japanese colony, and another large percentage came from Japanese-occupied China. Others were taken from, among other countries, the Philippines, Burma, and Indonesia. In addition, some women who were Netherlands' subjects were included in the immense roundup. The women were drawn primarily from those the Japanese considered racially inferior and virgins were actively sought.

The plight of the "comfort women" remains unresolved despite the fact historians have made public many official documents indicating that the system in question did exist and was maintained by, and for, the Japanese Imperial Army. One key Japanese historian, Yoshimi Yoshiaki, maintains that other key evidence remains locked inside Japanese confidential files and should be made public. Although members of the Japanese government have recently issued statements acknowledging Japanese involvement, there have been no formal apologies by the Japanese government. In addition there have been many denials by various influential political groups and editorial boards. As recently as May 2001, Japan omitted any mention of the system of sexual slavery in the history textbooks used to teach Japanese students. The government of Japan officially remains silent on this issue and it is time that they acknowledge their responsibility.

The Women's Daily Ordeal

"When people talk about a living hell, this is exactly what they mean."

By the end of World War II, the use of "comfort women" was a widespread and regular phenomenon throughout Japan-controlled East Asia. The women held in sexual slavery were raped repeatedly -- by some accounts by 30 or 40 men each day -- day after day. Torture and beatings were common. The women existed under miserable conditions, living in tiny cubicles, and often with inadequate food and medical care. For some, the servitude lasted as long as eight years.

Those who attempted to resist, and some who did not, were beaten, tortured, or mutilated; sometimes they were murdered. The treatment of "comfort women" was consistent with Japan's view of the racial inferiority of the populations from which the women were drawn. At some "comfort stations," the women were given Japanese names and required to speak Japanese and entertain the men with Japanese songs. Korean comfort women were referred to as chosenppi ("Korean vagina") or other derogatory Japanese terms for Koreans.

At the end of the war, many "comfort women" were killed by retreating troops or simply abandoned. For example, in one case in Micronesia, the Japanese Army killed 70 "comfort women" in one night just before the arrival of American troops. Others were abandoned, sometimes in dense jungles, when their Japanese captors fled. Many of those died of starvation and disease. Others did not know where they were, were hundreds of miles from their homes, had no money, and no means to return.

Survivors who made it home returned to what were often lives of isolation and societal rejection, compounded by deeply instilled feelings of guilt and shame. Many were ostracized, beaten or even killed. Most of those still living are extremely poor and suffer from severe physical and psychological problems. Many could not marry. As a result of violent physical and sexual abuse, sexually transmitted diseases and drug addictions arising from their war time experiences, many women suffer serious health effects, including permanent damage to their reproductive organs and urinary tracts. Many women also found themselves unable to bear children as a result of their mistreatment. Sleep disorders, like insomnia and fearful nightmares, are common. They suffer grievously to this day.

Military Involvement

The "comfort woman" program of sexual slavery was a systematic and carefully planned system ordered and executed by the Japanese Government. According to a report of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence against women, its causes and consequences, Ms Radhika Coomaraswamy:

The first comfort stations under direct Japanese control were those in Shanghai in 1932, and there is firsthand evidence of official involvement in their establishment. One of the commanders of the Shanghai campaign, Lieutenant General Okamura Yasuji, confessed in his memoirs to have been the original proponent of comfort stations for the military ... a number of Korean women from a Korean community in Japan were sent to the province by the Governor of Nagasaki Prefecture. The fact that they were sent from Japan implicates not only the military but also the Home Ministry, which controlled the governors and the police who were later to play a significant role in collaborating with the army in forcibly recruiting women.

The government of Japan shipped girls and women like military supplies throughout the vast area of Asia and the Pacific that Japanese troops controlled, from the Siberian border to the equator, including: China (including Guangdong and Manchuria), Hong Kong, Taiwan, Korea, Amoi, French Indochina, the Philippines, Guam, Malaya, Singapore, British Borneo, the Dutch East Indies, Burma, Thailand, East New Guinea, New Britain, Trobriand, Okinawa, and Sakhalin, as well as the Japanese islands of Kyushu, Honshu and Hokkaido. The Japanese government built, operated, and controlled hundreds of "comfort houses" in these areas.

Deception and coercion were common in the recruitment of "comfort women" - who were mostly taken from poverty-stricken families - and many were simply abducted by brute force.Tomas Salinog of the Philippines was awakened one night in 1942 by Japanese soldiers breaking into her home. After the soldiers decapitated her father, Salinog was dragged from her house by the soldiers and taken to a nearby garrison. Ms. Salinog, who was thirteen years old at the time, was then raped by two soldiers and beaten unconscious. She was thereafter forced to serve as a "comfort woman" in the same garrison.

Young girls were targeted as they were unlikely to be infected with venereal diseases. The girls and women taken were as young as eleven years old and were sometimes taken from their elementary schools. The women were often removed to remote places where they had no linguistic or cultural ties so that they could more easily be isolated from any prospect of sympathy or help.

In Korea, in addition to recruitment by force and deception, "comfort women" were recruited under the official labor draft, instituted to strengthen the Japanese war effort. (It was called kunro ("labor") or Yeoja ("woman") Jungshindae (in Japanese, Teishintai), meaning "Voluntarily Committing Body Corps for Labor." This is a phrase coined by the Japanese that denotes the devoting of one's entire being to the cause of the Emperor.) Many young women recruited or lured to work in the factories, were diverted by Japan into sexual slavery. The same occurred to many women originally drafted to work in factories.

Only Japanese soldiers were allowed to frequent the "comfort stations" and were normally charged a fixed price. The prices varied by the women's nationality.The rank of the soldier determined the length of time allowed for a visit, the price paid, and the hours at which the soldier was entitled to visit the comfort station. At least a portion of the revenue was taken by the military. According to the testimony of a survivor quoted in the report of the United Nations Special Rapporteur, from 3 to 7 pm each day she had to serve sergeants, whereas the evenings were reserved for lieutenants.

The Japanese Army also regulated conditions at the "comfort stations," issuing rules on working hours, hygiene, contraception, and prohibitions on alcohol and weapons. "Comfort women" were recorded on Japanese military supply lists under the heading of "ammunition" as well as under "Amenities." Army doctors carried out health checks on the "comfort women," primarily to prevent the spread of venereal disease. The "comfort women" system required the deployment of the vast infrastructure and resources that were at the government's disposal, including soldiers and support personnel, weapons, all forms of land and sea transportation, and engineering and construction crews and matériel.

Worldwar II Collections and Artifacts

 

Captured Blog: The Pacific War

War came to the Philippines like a lightning strike. Japan came in with a surprise attack on December 8, 1941, They came just ten hours after the bloody surprise attacked in Pearl Harbor. Japanese troop’s advancement hits every top island in the country. Aerial bombardment was successful that Filipino and American soldiers failed to counter. The defending  Filipino and American  troops were under the command of General Douglas MacArthur. Under the pressure of the invading enemies, the defending forces about 80,000 troops withdrew to the BataanPeninsula and to the island of Corregidor with no aerial support and proper equipments.    The Philippine defense continued until the final surrender of United States-Philippine forces in the BataanPeninsula in April 1942 and on Corregidor in May. Most of the 80,000 POW were forced to undertake the bloody Bataan Death March to a prison camp 105 km to the north.  Many men were killed and died, it is estimated that as many as 10,000 men died before reaching their destination.

Lt. Henry G. Lee of the Philipine Division wrote the poem, "Fighting On."

I see no gleam of victory alluring
No chance of splendid booty or of gain.
If I endure--I must go on enduring
And my reward for bearing pain--is pain
Yet, though the thrill, the zest, the hope are gone
Something within me keep me
fighting on.

A soldier-poet expressed the mood of the men when he wrote:

MacArthur's promise in every mind.
"The time is secret but I can say
That swift relief ships are on the way
Thousands of men and hundreds of planes--
Back in
Manila before the rains!
With decorations and honors, too."
MacArthur said it, it must be true.

See all 28 photos

Americans and Filipinos with no proper equipment to defend the country

The Philippine Scouts Cavalry in a formation for the preparation of Japanese Attacks

The scouts are mobilizing to face Japs invading in Bataan

Japanese are now mobilizing and securing all railways and roads

Dead Filipino soldiers

Filipino Casualties of War

MacArthur makes Manila an Open City to avoid more destruction on Japanese arrival in Manila

The courageous Filipino Scouts ready to defend the motherland

Filipinos are setting up mortars for the advancing Japanese army

Filipino having a drill before the Japanese invasion

Filipino soldiers about to be beheaded by the Japanese

Filipino and American soldiers surrendering to the Japanese

The death march

The proud Philippine Scouts before the Japanese Invasion

 

Japanese and Filipino Soldiers killed in Action

Japanese in premises

This is How manila looks like after the Bombing and scorching the city

Filipinos are always Marines best friend

The proud Filipino Guerrillas

Filipinos helping Americans

Captured Japanese

Surrendering Japanese

This is how Philippines suffered by the War

Destruction everywhere

American Marines entering Zamboanga

Philippines is a paradise to the World and to its people, the second world war brought darkness, death and destruction to the Filipinos. It is the Philippines worst nightmare and something that they do not want to remember. What you see are pictures that holds wonderful memories of Filipino heroism and courage. Filipinos have the undying love for freedom and Peace and they are willing to sacrifice their lives for the sake of it. May this Photo article will give help you out in any way.

the complete Articles of World War II:

Manila under World War II

Pacific and Europe under World War

33

An American soldier stands tense in his foxhole on Bataan peninsula, in the Philippines, waiting to hurl a flaming bottle bomb at an oncoming Japanese tank, in April of 1942. (AP Photo) #

34

A big coastal gun is fired from fortified American positions on Corregidor Island, at the entrance to Manila Bay on the Philippines, on May 6, 1942. (AP Photo) #

35

Japanese forces use flame-throwers while attacking a fortified emplacement on Corregidor Island, in the Philippines in May of 1942. (NARA) #

36

Billows of smoke from burning buildings pour over the wall which encloses Manila's Intramuros district, sometime in 1942. (AP Photo) #

37

American soldiers line up as they surrender their arms to the Japanese at the naval base of Mariveles on Bataan Peninsula in the Philippines in April of 1942. (AP Photo) #

 

Japanese soldiers stand guard over American war prisoners just before the start of the "Bataan Death March" in 1942. This photograph was stolen from the Japanese during Japan's three-year occupation. (AP Photo/U.S. Marine Corps)

39

American and Filipino prisoners of war captured by the Japanese are shown at the start of the Death March after the surrender of Bataan on April 9, 1942, near Mariveles in the Philippines. Starting from Mariveles on April 10, some 75,000 American and Filipino prisoners of war were force-marched to Camp O'Donnell, a new prison camp 65 miles away. The prisoners, weakened after a three-month siege, were harassed by Japanese troops for days as they marched, the slow or sick killed with bayonets or swords. (AP Photo) #

40

American prisoners of war carry their wounded and sick during the Bataan Death March in April of 1942. This photo was taken from the Japanese during their three year occupation of the Philippines. (AP Photo/U.S. Army) #

May 1942: After defending the island for nearly a month, American and Filipino soldiers surrender to Japanese invasion troops on Corregidor island, Philippines. This photograph was captured from the Japanese during Japan's three-year occupation. (AP Photo)

The Bataan Death March was a war crime involving the forcible transfer of prisoners of war, with wide-ranging abuse and high fatalities, by Japanese forces in the Philippines, in 1942, after the three-month Battle of Bataan, which was part of the Battle of the Philippines (1941-42), during World War II. In Japanese, it is known as Bataan Shi no Koshin, with the same meaning.

The Fall of Bataan

On April 9, 1942, approximately 75,000 Filipino and United States soldiers, commanded by Major General Edward "Ned" P. King, Jr., were formally surrendered to a Japanese army of 50,000 men under Lt. General Masaharu Homma. This required Japan to accept emaciated captives who vastly outnumbered them. The Japanese, having expected the fighting to continue longer, had only expected 25,000 prisoners of war and did not have the facilities to properly care for them.

File:March of Death from Bataan to the prison camp - Dead soldiers.jpg

Logistics planning to move the prisoners of war from Mariveles to Camp O'Donnell, a prison camp in the province of Tarlac, was handed down to transportation officer Major General Yoshitake Kawane ten days prior to the final Japanese assault. The first phase of the operation, which was to bring all of the prisoners to Balanga, consisted of a nineteen mile march that was expected to take one day. Upon reaching Balanga, Kawane was then to take personal command of executing the second phase, which consisted of transporting the men to the prison camp. 200 trucks were to be utilized to take the prisoners 33 miles north to the rail center at San Fernando, where freight trains, which would move them another 30 miles to the village of Capas, awaited them. Upon reaching Capas, the prisoners were then to march an additional 8 miles on foot to Camp O'Donnell. Field hospitals were to be established at Balanga and San Fernando while various aid stations and resting places were to be set up every few miles.


PRISONERS ON MARCH FROM BATAAN TO THE PRISON CAMP, MAY 1942 - NATIONAL ARCHIVES

THE DEATH MARCH

Although General Homma and Kawane had expected only 25,000 prisoners of war, they were greeted by more than 75,000 (11,796 Americans and 66,000 Filipinos) starving and malaria-stricken captives at Bataan. During the battle, only 27,000 of these men were listed as "combat effective". Even then, three fourths of this number were still affected by malaria. As a result, the Japanese army met great difficulties in transporting these prisoners from the beginning. Equally, distributing food was almost impossible so many were fed nothing. 4,000 sick or wounded captives had to stay behind to be treated by the Japanese at Bataan. A shortage of manpower and supplies on the part of the Japanese, who were now laying siege to Corregidor, raised confusion and irritation amongst the guards as many prisoners escaped. At most, only 4 Japanese soldiers could accompany each group of 300 prisoners. The march to Balanga, which was to take only one day, lasted as long as three days for some soldiers.

After reaching Balanga, it became obvious to General Kawane that his trucks could not carry more than half of the prisoners to the rail center at San Fernando. Since most of the other vehicles the Japanese had brought to the Philippines were either in repair or being used for the Battle of Corregidor, those who could not get a ride were forced to continue marching for more than 30 miles on completely unshaded roads that were sometimes made of asphalt. The thick dust swirling in the air would make it difficult for the prisoners to see and breathe while those who were walking barefoot had their feet burned on the molten asphalt. Men who refused to abandon their belongings were the first to fall. The last nine miles of the march from the town of Lubao to San Fernando were among the hardest the men would ever walk.

Those who were able to reach San Fernando alive were then locked into makeshift prisons where they were finally able to receive some level of proper and adequate medical care, food, and rest. Soon after this, however, the prisoners were jammed into freight trains that took them to Capas. Vomiting was frequent during the ride as some were even crammed or suffocated to death. After the three hour trip, which included very few stops, the prisoners then marched the 8 mile road to Camp O'Donnell.

Through the duration of nine days, a majority of the disease and grief stricken American and Filipino prisoners were forced to march as much as two-thirds of the 90 miles that separated Bataan from Camp O'Donnell. Those few who were lucky enough to travel to San Fernando on trucks still had to endure more than 25 miles of marching. Prisoners were beaten randomly and were often denied the food and water they were promised. Those who fell behind were usually executed or left to die; the sides of the roads became littered with dead bodies and those begging for help. A number of prisoners were further diminished by malaria, heat, dehydration, and dysentery. It should be noted, however, that many of the soldiers who accompanied the prisoners of war were not only Japanese, but Korean. Since they were not trusted by the Japanese to fight on the battlefield, most Koreans in the Japanese army were forbidden to participate in combat roles and delegated to such service duties as guarding prisoners. As one prisoner noted, "The Korean guards were the most abusive... the Koreans were anxious to get blood on their bayonets; and then they thought they were veterans."

After the Bataan Death March, approximately 54,000 of the 72,000 prisoners reached their destination. The death toll of the march is difficult to assess as thousands of captives were able to escape from their guards. In some instances, prisoners were even released by their Japanese counterparts. Out of fear that the prisoners would be mistreated, Colonel Takeo Imai made the humanitarian decision of releasing more than 1,000 of his prisoners into the jungle. These acts of kindness, however, were especially rare. All told, approximately 600-650 American and 5,000-10,000 Filipino prisoners of war died before they could reach Camp O'Donnell.

Camps O'Donnell and Cabanatuan

On June 6, 1942 the Filipino soldiers were granted amnesty by the Japanese military and released while the American prisoners were moved from Camp O'Donnell to Cabanatuan. Many of the survivors were later sent to prison camps in Japan, Korea, and Manchuria in prisoner transports known as "Hell Ships." The 500 POWs who still resided at the Cabanatuan Prison Camp were freed in January 1945 in The Great Raid.

War Crimes Trial

News of this atrocity sparked outrage in the US, as shown by this propaganda poster. The newspaper clipping shown refers to the Bataan Death March.After the surrender of Japan in 1945, an Allied commission convicted General Homma of war crimes, including the atrocities of the death march out of Bataan, and the atrocities at Camp O'Donnell and Cabanatuan that followed. The general, who had been so absorbed in his efforts to capture Corregidor after the fall of Bataan, remained ignorant of the high death toll until two months after the event. His neglect would cost him his life as General Homma was executed on April 3, 1946 outside Manila.

The war came to the Philippines the same day it came to Hawaii and in the same manner – a surprise air attack. In the case of the Philippines, however, this initial strike was followed by a full-scale invasion of the main island of Luzon three days later. By early January, the American and Filipino defenders were forced to retreat to a slim defensive position on the island's western Bataan Peninsula

2

American prisoners, some with their hands
behind their backs, get a brief respite
during the march.

The American and Filipino forces fought from an untenable position until formally surrendering to the Japanese on April 9. The Japanese immediately began to march some 76,000 prisoners (12,000 Americans, the remainder Filipinos) northward into captivity along a route of death. When three American officers escaped a year later, the world learned of the unspeakable atrocities suffered along the 60-mile journey that became known as the Bataan Death March.

Japanese butchery, disease, exposure to the blazing sun, lack of food, and lack of water took the lives of approximately 5,200 Americans along the way. Many prisoners were bayoneted, shot, beheaded or just left to die on the side of the road. "A Japanese soldier took my canteen, gave the water to a horse, and threw the canteen away," reported one escapee. "The stronger were not permitted to help the weaker. We then would hear shots behind us." The Japanese forced the prisoners to sit for hours in the hot sun without water. "Many of us went crazy and several died."

The ordeal lasted five days for some and up to twelve days for others. Although the Japanese were unprepared for the large number of prisoners in their care, the root of the brutality lay in the Japanese attitude that a soldier should die before surrender. A warrior's surrender meant the forfeiture of all rights to treatment as a human being.

After the war, the finger of blame pointed to General Masaharu Homma, commander of the Japanese troops in the Philippines. Tried for war crimes, he was convicted and executed by a firing squad on April 3, 1946.

"This was the First Murder"

Captain William Dyess was a fighter pilot stationed on Luzon when the Japanese invaded. Captured when the American forces on Bataan surrendered, he joined the Death March and was interned by the Japanese. In April 1943, Captain Dyess was one of three prisoners able to escape from their captors. Captain Dyess eventually made his way back to America where his story was published.

We join his story as he encounters his first atrocity of the March:

 "The victim, an air force captain, was being searched by a three-star private. Standing by was a Jap commissioned officer, hand on sword hilt. These men were nothing like the toothy, bespectacled runts whose photographs are familiar to most newspaper readers. They were cruel of face, stalwart, and tall.

'The private a little squirt, was going through the captain's pockets. All at once he stopped and sucked in his breath with .a hissing sound. He had found some Jap yen.'

 'He held these out, ducking his head and sucking in his breath to attract notice. The big Jap looked at the money. Without a word he grabbed the captain by the shoulder and shoved him down to his knees. He pulled the sword out of the scabbard and raised it high over his head, holding it with both hands. The private skipped to one side.'

'Before we could grasp what was happening, the black-faced giant had swung his sword. I remember how the sun flashed on it. There was a swish and a kind of chopping thud, like a cleaver going through beef'.

'The captain's head seemed to jump off his 'shoulders. It hit the ground in front of him and went rolling crazily from side to side between the lines of prisoners.'

'The body fell forward. I have seen wounds, but never such a gush of. blood as this. The heart continued to pump for a few seconds and at each beat there was another great spurt of blood. The white dust around our feet was turned into crimson mud. I saw the hands were opening and closing spasmodically. Then I looked away.'

'When I looked again the big Jap had put up his sword and was strolling off. The runt who had found the yen was putting them into his pocket. He helped himself to the captain's possessions.'

This was the first murder. . ."

Oriental Sun Treatment

As the prisoners were herded north they collided with advancing Japanese troops moving to the south, forcing a brief halt to the march:

"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.

When I thought I could stand the penetrating heat no longer. I was determined to have a sip of the tepid water in my canteen. I had no more than unscrewed the top when the aluminum flask was snatched from my hands. The Jap who had crept up behind me poured the water into a horse's nose-bag, then threw down the canteen. He walked on among the prisoners, taking away their water and pouring it into the bag. When he had enough he gave it to his horse."

Drop-outs

The parade of death continues its journey as its members inevitably succumb to the heat, the lack of food and the lack of water:

"The hours dragged by and, as we knew they must. The drop-outs began. It seemed that a great many of the prisoners reached the end of their endurance at about the same time. They went down by twos and threes. Usually, they made an effort to rise. I never can forget their groans and strangled breathing as they tried to get up. Some succeeded. Others lay lifelessly where they had fallen.

American prisoners carry their comrades who are unable to walk

I observed that the Jap guards paid no attention to these. I wondered why. The explanation wasn't long in coming. There was a sharp crackle of pistol and rifle fire behind us.

Skulking along, a hundred yards behind our contingent, came a 'clean-up squad' of murdering Jap buzzards. Their helpless victims, sprawled darkly against the white, of the road, were easy targets.

As members of the murder squad stooped over each huddled form, there would be an orange 'flash in the darkness and a sharp report. The bodies were left where they lay, that other prisoners coming behind us might see them.

Our Japanese guards enjoyed the spectacle in silence for a time. Eventually, one of them who spoke English felt he should add a little spice to the entertainment.

'Sleepee?' he asked. 'You want sleep? Just lie down on road. You get good long sleep!'

On through the night we were followed by orange flashes and thudding sounds."

Arrival at San Fernando

Finally, after five days without food and limited water, the dwindling column arrives at its destination:

"The sun still was high in the sky when we straggled into San Fernando, a city of 36,000 population, and were put in a barbed wire compound similar to the one at Orani. We were seated in rows for a continuation of the sun treatment. Conditions here were the worst yet.

The prison pen was jammed with sick, dying, and dead American and Filipino soldiers. They were sprawled amid the filth and maggots that covered the ground. Practically all had dysentery. Malaria and dengue fever appeared to be running unchecked. There were symptoms of other tropical diseases I didn't even recognize.

Jap guards had shoved the worst cases beneath the rotted flooring of some dilapidated building. Many of these prisoners already had died. The others looked as though they couldn't survive until morning.

There obviously had been no burials for many hours.

After sunset Jap soldiers entered and inspected our rows.

Then the gate was opened again and kitchen corpsmen entered with cans of rice. We held our mess kits and again passed lids to those who had none. Our spirits rose. We watched as the Japs ladled out generous helpings to the men nearest the gate.

Then, without explanation, the cans were dragged away and the gate was closed. It was a repetition of the ghastly farce at Balanga. The fraud was much more cruel this time because our need. was vastly greater. In our bewildered state it took some time for the truth to sink in. When it did we were too discouraged even to swear."

2

by Murray Montgomery

There's an old saying I've heard all my life and it is just as true today as it was years ago. It states simply, "Freedom is not free!"
And should some be foolish enough to think our liberty comes without a heavy price — then I invite you to consider the sacrifices made by Russell A. Grokett, Sr. during World War II.
Grokett was part of what has been called the, "Greatest Generation." He was raised in Kansas and lived through the Great Depression. When he was in his twenties, he joined the army and served in one of the last cavalry units in Texas. He experienced the horrors of war while involved in the Battle of the Philippines — he was imprisoned and survived the terror of the Bataan Death March.
After the war, Mr. Grokett got married and had a family. He loved to travel throughout the United States; camping and fishing in the country he helped defend.
Russell A. Grokett Sr. died of a heart attack at the age of 69.
His story has been told in the book, The Circle Is Never Broken, by Estelle Grokett. His son, Russell Grokett Jr., maintains a site on the Internet about his dad. Preserving the memory of this veteran is a family affair, as his grandson Michael A. Knox is also involved in the project.
When United States and Filipino troops surrendered to the Japanese on April 9, 1942, Grokett became a prisoner of war — he would spend the next three and a half years living in hell.
There were approximately 76,000 men involved in the surrender of the Philippines. Some 12,000 being United States troops along with 64,000 Filipinos. Nine thousand of them died as a result of the Bataan Death March.
Grokett's description of the march is a vivid account of something so horrible, it's hard for civilized people to even imagine. He said the prisoners, military and civilian, were made to go 24 hours without food or water in the searing heat and humidity. If a man dropped out from heat exhaustion, the Japanese guards promptly bayoneted him.
Japanese planes kept an eye on the march. Flying back and forth up and down the line. As they walked, the prisoners passed by corpse after corpse along the road. According to Grokett, "The bodies were stiff and beginning to blacken in the intense heat, already covered with flies as carrion birds tore at the flesh."
Grokett told of a game played by the Japanese guards. He said they would amuse themselves by pushing prisoners over the cliff – the screams could be heard until they crashed upon the jagged rocks below. Grokett recalled how the Filipinos had the worst of it. "Young girls were pulled out of the ranks and raped repeatedly. Frightened mothers would rub human dung on their daughters' faces to make them unattractive to the guards," said Grokett.
Later on, the Japanese made the prisoners trot along at double time up a steep slope. Men were dropping everywhere and were bayoneted on the spot. As they passed along a fresh-water stream, many of the thirsty prisoners made a run for the cooling water. Those who did were shot.
Many of the prisoners contacted malaria from mosquitoes and went insane. Grokett also remembered that there was still a battle on-going at Corregidor. He said, "Big tractors pulling 250 millimeter guns toward the bay...rolled over the bodies of the dead and dying along the road."
After the ordeal of the death march, Grokett and the others went on to spend time in prisoner-of-war (POW) camps. Later they were forced into boats to begin a voyage aboard what would later become known as, "The Hell Ships." They were packed like sardines on these vessels for some 33 days. During that time, Dutch submarines attacked the ships — the Dutch didn't know American prisoners were onboard.
While the ships were being attacked, Grokett remembered that the men begin screaming and pounding against the sides of the ship. "Even an animal can't be this confined for this long without going mad," he said.
Of the eleven ships carrying prisoners, only five survived the attack and thousands of POWs died. Before the ships finally arrived at Pusan Harbor in Korea, many of the men went insane. Some committed suicide. There were reports that several men cut their buddy's wrist to drank the blood for lack of water.
Russell A. Grokett, Sr. and the other survivors were finally liberated on August 15, 1945.
From the very beginning, the United States has been defended by some very remarkable men and women. Throughout the years we have been allowed to enjoy our freedom because of their dedication to duty. Whenever you see an American flag, remember folks like Russell A. Grokett Sr., and all those who have died defending this great country.
And most of all remember: "Freedom is not free!"

 

 

 

Much as been made of Hitler's European holocaust or the millions killed during Stalin's purges against his own people, but was this an Asian holocaust? Approximately 15 million Chinese, Indo-Chinese, Burmese, Indonesian, Filipino, Malay, Pacific Islanders and allied prisoners of war were killed or died of neglect. During the European conflict with Nazi Germany, the death rate of Allied soldiers in captivity was 9,348 or about 4% of the total captured or surrendered. The death rate in Japanese captivity was 27%. Once the war had ended, the victorious Allies set up war crimes trials to prosecute those responsible for the atrocities that took place throughout all the Japanese held territories. It was impossible to bring every single individual who committed a crime to justice, but among the 135 Japanese war criminals hanged at Changi prison were the main high ranking officers responsible for the Sook Chingmassacre except one.
The one above all others that should have been the first to feel the hangman place the noose firmly around his neck was Lt-Col Masanobe Tsuji. It was he who had master-minded the notorious death march from Bataan and Corregidor, the slaughter of the patients and medical staff at Singapore's Alexandra hospital, and the Sook Ching massacre among other things. He was the most insidious, calculating, coldly brutal and singularly successful mass murderer of all the Japanese war criminals. There were many evil Japanese but he was the worst and the most wanted but he never faced trial. After a period of hiding after the war to avoid prosecution, Tsuji returned to Japan. On 1 January, 1950 the United States officially lifted Tsuji's criminal status and now, free from possible prosecution, he became a popular author with his account of the Malayan campaign and other stories and even entered politics becoming a member of the Japanese Parliament. Due to his wartime atrocities being made public both in Japan and world wide by a fellow countryman, he prudently decided to quit Parliament and do a six-week tour of South East Asia. He was last seen on 10 June 1961 and from there on he mysteriously disappears from history. One can only hope he suffered a horrible fate.

Whilst the crimes committed against humanity by the Japanese military during the period 1931-45 in the name of the Emperor will forever stain the history of Japan, so must the victorious Allied Governments also take responsibility for a moral crime against humanity. Initially, the war crimes trials were allowed to be conducted with zeal and by dedicated people who believed in justice and or retribution for those who paid the ultimate sacrifice. It was the least their countries could do.

Pearl Harbor
On Sunday, December 7th, 1941 the Japanese launched a surprise attack against the U.S. Forces stationed at Pearl Harbor , Hawaii By planning his attack on a Sunday, the Japanese commander Admiral Nagumo, hoped to catch the entire fleet in port. As luck would have it, the Aircraft Carriers and one of the Battleships were not in port. (The USS Enterprise was returning from Wake Island , where it had just delivered some aircraft. The USS Lexington was ferrying aircraft to Midway, and the USS Saratoga and USS Colorado were undergoing repairs in the United States .)
In spite of the latest intelligence reports about the missing aircraft carriers (his most important targets), Admiral Nagumo decided to continue the attack with his force of six carriers and 423 aircraft. At a range of 230 miles north of Oahu , he launched the first wave of a two-wave attack. Beginning at 0600 hours his first wave consisted of 183 fighters and torpedo bombers which st ruck at the fleet in Pearl Harbor and the airfields in Hickam, Kaneohe and Ewa. The second strike, launched at 0715 hours, consisted of 167 aircraft, which again struck at the same targets.


At 075 3 hours the first wave consisting of 40 Nakajima B5N2 'Kate' torpedo bombers, 51 Aichi D3A1 'Val' dive bombers, 50 high altitude bombers and 43 Zeros struck airfields and Pearl Harbor Within the next hour, the second wave arrived and continued the attack.
When it was over, the U.S. Losses were:

Casualties

US Army: 218 KIA, 364 WIA.
US Navy: 2,008 KIA, 710 WIA.
US MarineCorp: 109 KIA, 69 WIA.
Civilians: 68 KIA, 35 WIA.
TOTAL: 2,403 KIA, 1,178 WIA.

 

News of the Bataan Death March sparked outrage in the US, as reflected in this poster.

After the surrender of Japan in 1945, an Allied commission convicted Masaharu Homma of war crimes, including the atrocities of the death march out of Bataan, and the following atrocities at Camp O'Donnell and Cabanatuan. The general, who had been absorbed in his efforts to capture Corregidor after the fall of Bataan, claimed in his defense that he remained ignorant of the high death toll of the death march until two months after the event. He was executed on April 3, 1946 outside Manila. For unknown reasons, the Allies did not attempt to prosecute Masanobu Tsuji for war crimes. Also in Japan, Generals Hideki Tōjō (later Prime Minister), Kenji Doihara, Seishirō Itagaki, Heitarō Kimura, Iwane Matsui and Akira Muto, and Baron Kōki Hirota were found guilty in responsible to the brutal maltreatment of American and Filipino POW's, and were executed by hanging at Sugamo Prison in Ikebukuro on December 23, 1948. Several others were sentenced to imprisonment of between 7, 20 and 22 years.

 

File:Anti-Japan2.png


Surrender of American troops at Corregidor Philippine Islands, May 1942

123

WWII Articles

Texas National Guard in WWII
How Arnhem was Lost
Saga of Ormoc Bay
Silent Service of the Pacific
USS Wahoo
Polish Cavalry: A Military Myth Dispelled
Confucian Martial Culture
Operation Market Garden
Legacy of WWII Sub Veterans
Lausdell Crossroads
Kasserine Pass
Arnhem Startline
Bushido: Valor of Deceit
British Offensive Operations
Sir Winston Churchill
American Stubbornness at Rimling
The OSS in Greece
Strategy of Blitzkrieg
Breaking Seelow Heights
The Rape of Nanking
Small Battle: Big Implications
Harris Class APA's
Aerial Defense of East Indies
Why the Bulge Didn't Break
American Forces in WWII
Shadow Warriors
Battle of Surigao Strait
Panzer Brigades
Adolf Eichmann
Interview of a WWII Veteran
Failure and Destruction
Winter Warfare
Operation Rusty: The Gehlen-U.S. Army Connection
Was Hitler right to invade Russia?
Hitler, Germany's Worst General
Surface Actions of World War II
MacArthur's Failures in the Philippines
Japan's Monster Sub
Popski's Private Army
The Soviet Formula for Success
Japan's TA Operation
Hitler Youth: An Effective Organization
After Midway: The Fates of the Warships
Barbarossa: Strategic Miscalculation
The Story of a "Go Devil"
Long Range Desert Group
Island of Death
The Failure of Operation Barbarossa
The Liberation of Czechoslovakia 1945
Only the Admirals were Happy
Bicycle Blitzkrieg - Singapore
Good Grief Sir, We're in Trier!
Barbarossa
Thermopylae, Balaklava and Kokoda
How Hitler Could Have Won
The Battle of Midway
Waffen SS - Birth of the Elite
Nomonhan and Okinawa
Der Bund Deutscher Mädel
Rulers of the World: Hitler Youth
Breakout From the Hedgerows
Yalta
Memories of D-Day
Motivation of the Einsatzgruppen
Pearl Harbor and Midway
Amphibious Assaults during WWII
The 9th SS Panzer Division
The Warsaw Uprising
Sea Lion vs. Overlord
Maginot Line
Pointe du Hoc
Battle of Bastogne
Battle of the Barents Sea
Anzio: The Allies' Greatest Blunder
US Army in WWII
Battle of Mers-el-Kebir
Hitler's Ultra-Secret Adlerhorst
The Wilhelm Gustloff Disaster
The 88th Infantry in Italy
Mythos Revisited

As the men of the victorious British 14th Army advanced through Burma on the road to Mandalay in January 1945 they encountered Japanese savagery towards prisoners.

After a battle, the Berkshires found dead British soldiers beaten, stripped of their boots and suspended by electric flex upside down from trees. This sharpened the battalion's sentiment against their enemy.

Back in Britain it was beginning to emerge that such inhumanity was not confined to the battlefield.

Men who had escaped from Japanese captivity brought tales of brutality so extreme that politicians and officials censored them for fear of the Japanese imposing even more terrible sufferings upon tens of thousands of PoWs who remained in their hands.

The US government suppressed for months the first eyewitness accounts of the 1942 Bataan death march in the Philippines on which so many captured American GIs perished, and news of the beheadings of shot-down aircrew.

behead

Grotesque: A prisoner of war, about to be beheaded by a Japanese executioner

In official circles a reluctance persisted to believe the worst. As late as January 1945, a Foreign Office committee concluded that it was only in some outlying areas that there might be ill-treatment by rogue military officers.

A few weeks later, such thinking was discredited as substantial numbers of British and Australian PoWs were freed in Burma and the Philippines.

Their liberators were stunned by stories of starvation and rampant disease; of men worked to death in their thousands, tortured or beheaded for small infractions of discipline.

More than a quarter of Western PoWs lost their lives in Japanese captivity. This represented deprivation and brutality of a kind familiar to Russian and Jewish prisoners of the Nazis in Europe, yet shocking to the American, British and Australian public.

It seemed incomprehensible that a nation with pretensions to civilisation could have defied every principle of humanity and the supposed rules of war.

The overwhelming majority of Allied prisoners were taken during the first months of the Far East war when the Philippines, Dutch East Indies, Hong Kong, Malaya and Burma were overrun.

As disarmed soldiers milled about awaiting their fate in Manila or Singapore, Hong Kong or Rangoon, they contemplated a life behind barbed wire with dismay, but without the terror that their real prospects merited.

They had been conditioned to suppose that surrender was a misfortune that might befall any fighting man.

In the weeks that followed, as their rations shrank, medicines vanished, and Japanese policy was revealed, they learned differently. Dispatched to labour in jungles, torrid plains or mines and quarries, they grew to understand that, in the eyes of their captors, they had become slaves.

They had forfeited all fundamental human respect. A Japanese war reporter described seeing American prisoners - "men of the arrogant nation which sought to treat our motherland with unwarranted contempt.

"As I gaze upon them, I feel as if I am watching dirty water running from the sewers of a nation whose origins were mongrel, and whose pride has been lost. Japanese soldiers look extraordinarily handsome, and I feel very proud to belong to their race."

As prisoners' residual fitness ebbed away, some abandoned hope and acquiesced to a fate that soon overtook them. A feeling of loneliness was a contributory factor in the deaths of many, particularly the younger ones.

The key to survival was adaptability. It was essential to recognise that this new life, however unspeakable, represented reality.

Those who pined for home, who gazed tearfully at photos of loved ones, were doomed. Some men could not bring themselves to stomach unfamiliar, repulsive food. "They preferred to die rather than to eat what they were given," said US airman Doug Idlett.

"The ones who wouldn't eat died pretty early on," said Corporal Paul Reuter. "I buried people who looked much better than me. I never turned down anything that was edible."

Australian Snow Peat saw a maggot an inch long, and said: "Meat, you beauty! You've got to give it a go. Think they're currants in the Christmas pudding. Think they're anything."

But in the shipyards near Osaka, two starving British prisoners ate lard from a great tub used for greasing the slipway. It had been treated with arsenic to repel insects. They died.

Prisoners were bereft of possessions. Mel Rosen owned a loincloth, a bottle and a pot of pepper. Many PoWs boasted only the loincloth. Even where there were razor blades, shaving was unfashionable, shaggy beards the norm.

In the midst of all this, they were occasionally permitted to dispatch cards home, couched in terms that mocked their condition, and phrases usually dictated by their jailers. "Dear Mum & all," wrote Fred Thompson from Java to his family in Essex, "I am very well and hope you are too.

"The Japanese treat us well. My daily work is easy and we are paid. We have plenty of food and much recreation. Goodbye, God bless you, my love to you all."

Thompson expressed reality in the privacy of his diary: "Somehow we keep going. We are all skeletons, just living from day to day. This life just teaches one not to hope or expect anything. My emotions are non-existent."

Prisoner Paul Reuter slept on the top deck of a three-tier bunk in his camp. When disease and vitamin deficiency caused him to go blind for three weeks, no man would change places to enable him to sleep at ground level.

"Some people would steal," he said. "There was a lot of barter, then bitterness about people who reneged on the deals.

"There were only a few fights, but a lot of arguing - about places in line, about who got a spoonful more."

This was a world in which gentleness was neither a virtue that commanded esteem, nor a quality that promoted survival.

Philip Stibbe, in Rangoon Jail, wrote: "We became hardened and even callous. Bets were laid about who would be next to die. Everything possible was done to save the lives of the sick, but it was worse than useless to grieve over the inevitable."

Self-respect was deeply discounted. Every day, prisoners were exposed to their own impotence. Rosen watched Japanese soldiers kick ailing Americans into latrine pits: "You don't know the meaning of frustration until you've had to stand by and take that."

Almost every prisoner afterwards felt ashamed that he had stood passively by while the Japanese beat or killed his comrades. And prisoners hated the necessity to bow to every Japanese, whatever his rank and whatever theirs. No display of deference shielded them from the erratic whims of their masters.

Japanese behaviour vacillated between grotesquery and sadism. Ted Whincup laboured on the notorious Burma railway, a 250-mile track carved through mountain and dense jungle.

The commandant insisted that the prisoners' four-piece band should muster outside the guardroom and play "Hi, ho, hi, ho, it's off to work we go" - the tune from Snow White - each morning as skeletal inmates shambled forth to their labours.

If guards here took a dislike to a prisoner, they killed him with a casual shove into a ravine.

The Japanese seemed especially ill-disposed towards tall men, whom they obliged to bend to receive punishment, usually administered with a cane.

One day Airman Fred Jackson was working on an airfield on the coral island of Ambon when, for no reason, six British officers were paraded in line, and one by one punched to the ground by a Japanese warrant officer. A trooper of the 3rd Hussars, being beaten by a guard with a rifle, raised an arm to ward off blows and was accused of having struck the man. After several days of beatings, he was tied to a tree and bayoneted to death. An officer of the Gordons who protested against sick men being forced to work was also tied to a tree, beneath which guards lit a fire and burnt him like some Christian martyr.

Although Labour on the notorious Burma railway represented the worst fate that could befall an Allied PoW, shipment to Japan as a slave labourer also proved fatal to many.

In June 1944, the commandant in Hall Romney's camp announced to the prisoners that their job on the railway was done. They were now going to Japan.

Conditions in the holds of transport ships were always appalling, sometimes fatal. Overlaid on hunger and thirst was the threat of US submarines. The Japanese made no attempt to identify ships carrying PoWs. At least 10,000 perished following Allied attacks.

RAOC wireless mechanic Alf Evans was among 1,500 men on the Kachidoki Maru when she was sunk. Evans jumped into the water and dog-paddled to a small raft to which three other men were already clinging to.

One had two broken legs, another a dislocated thigh. They were all naked, and coated in oil. A Japanese destroyer arrived, and began to pick up survivors - but only Japanese.

Evans paddled to a lifeboat left empty after its occupants were rescued, and climbed aboard, joining two Gordon Highlanders. They hauled in other men, until they were 30 strong.

After three days and nights afloat, they were taken aboard a Japanese submarine-hunter. The captain reviewed the bedraggled figures paraded on his deck, and at first ordered them thrown over the side. Then he changed his mind and administered savage beatings all round.

Eventually the prisoners were transferred-to the hold of a whaling factory ship, in which they completed their journey to Japan. Filthy and almost naked, they were landed on the dockside and marched through the streets, between lines of watching Japanese women, to a cavalry barracks. There they were clothed in sacking and dispatched to work 12-hour shifts in the furnaces of a chemical work.

Many prisoners' feet were so swollen by beriberi that in the desperate cold of a Japanese winter, they could not wear shoes. Even under such blankets as they had, men shivered at night, for there was no heating in their barracks.

At Stephen Abbott's camp when prisoners begged for relief, the commandant said contemptuously: "If you wish to live you must become hardened to cold, as Japanese are. You must teach your men to have strong willpower - like Japanese."

Yet by 1944 the death rate in most Japanese camps had declined steeply from the earlier years. The most vulnerable were gone. Those who remained were frail, often verging on madness, but possessed a brute capacity to endure that kept many alive to the end.

Out of fairness, it should be noted that there were instances in which PoWs were shown kindness, even granted means to survive through Japanese compassion.

In his camp, Doug Idlett told a Japanese interpreter he had beriberi "and the next day he handed me a bottle of Vitamin B. I never saw him again, but I felt that he had contributed to me being alive."

Lt Masaichi Kikuchi, commanding an airfield defence unit in Singapore early in 1945, was allotted a labour force of 300 Indian PoWs. The officer who handed over the men said carelessly: "When you're finished, you can do what you like with them. If I was you, I'd shove them into a tunnel with a few demolition charges."

Kikuchi could do no such thing. When two Indians escaped and were returned after being re-captured, he did not execute them, as he should have done. He thought it unjustified.

The point of such stories is not that they contradict an overarching view of the Japanese as ruthless and sadistic in their treatment of despised captives. It is that, as always in human affairs, the story deserves shading.

There was undoubtedly some maltreatment of German and Japanese PoWs in Allied hands. This is not to suggest moral equivalence, merely that few belligerents in any war can boast unblemished records in the treatment of prisoners, as events in Iraq have recently reminded us.

Since 1945, pleas have been entered in mitigation of what the Japanese did to prisoners in the Second World War. First there was the administrative difficulty of handling unexpectedly large numbers of captives in 1942.

This has some validity. Many armies in modern history have encountered such problems in the chaos of victory, and their prisoners have suffered.

Moreover, food and medical supplies were desperately short in many parts of the Japanese empire. Western prisoners, goes this argument, merely shared privations endured by local civilians and Japanese soldiers.

Such claims might be plausible, but for the fact that prisoners were left starving and neglected even where means were available to alleviate pain. There is no record of PoWs at any time or place being adequately fed.

The Japanese maltreated captives as a matter of policy, not necessity. The casual sadism was so widespread, that it must be considered institutional.

There were so many arbitrary beheadings, clubbings and bayonetings that it is impossible to dismiss these as unauthorised initiatives by individual officers and men.

A people who adopt a code which rejects the concept of mercy towards the weak and afflicted seem to place themselves outside the pale of civilisation. Japanese sometimes justify their inhumanity by suggesting that it was matched by equally callous Allied bombing of civilians.

Japanese moral indignation caused many US aircrew captured in 1944-45 to be treated as "war criminals". Eight B-29 crewmen were killed by un-anaesthetised vivisection carried out in front of medical students at a hospital. Their stomachs, hearts, lungs and brain segments were removed.

Half a century later, one doctor present said: "There was no debate among the doctors about whether to do the operations - that was what made it so strange."

Any society that can indulge such actions has lost its moral compass. War is inherently inhumane, but the Japanese practised extraordinary refinements of inhumanity in the treatment of those thrown upon their mercy. Some of them knew it.

In Stephen Abbott's camp, little old Mr Yogi, the civilian interpreter, told the British officer: "The war has changed the real Japan. We were much as you are before the war - when the army had not control. You must not think our true standards are what you see now."

Yet, unlike Mr Yogi, the new Japan that emerged from the war has proved distressingly reluctant to confront the historic guilt of the old. Its spirit of denial contrasted starkly with the penitence of postwar Germany.

Though successive Japanese prime ministers expressed formal regret for Japan's wartime actions, the country refused to pay reparations to victims, or to acknowledge its record in school history texts.

I embarked upon this history of the war with a determination to view Japanese conduct objectively, thrusting aside nationalistic sentiments. It proved hard to sustain lofty aspirations to detachment in the face of the evidence of systemic Japanese barbarism, displayed against Americans and Europeans but on a vastly wider scale against their fellow Asians.

In modern times, only Hitler's SS has matched militarist Japan in rationalising and institutionalising atrocity. Stalin's Soviet Union never sought to dignify its great killings as the acts of gentlemen, as did Hirohito's nation.

It is easy to perceive why so many Japanese behaved as they did, conditioned as they were. Yet it remains difficult to empathise with those who did such things, especially when Japan still rejects its historic legacy.

Many Japanese today adopt the view that it is time to bury all old grievances - those of Japan's former enemies about the treatment of prisoners and subject peoples, along with those of their own nation about firebombing, Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

"In war, both sides do terrible things," former Lt Hayashi Inoue argued in 2005. "Surely after 60 years, the time has come to stop criticising Japan for things done so long ago."

Wartime Japan was responsible for almost as many deaths in Asia as was Nazi Germany in Europe. Germany has paid almost £3billion to 1.5 million victims of the Hitler era. But Japan goes to extraordinary lengths to escape any admission of responsibility, far less of liability for compensation, towards its wartime victims.

Most modern Japanese do not accept the ill-treatment of subject peoples and prisoners by their forebears, even where supported by overwhelming evidence, and those who do acknowledge it incur the disdain or outright hostility of their fellow-countrymen for doing so.

It is repugnant the way they still seek to excuse, and even to ennoble, the actions of their parents and grandparents, so many of whom forsook humanity in favour of a perversion of honour and an aggressive nationalism which should properly be recalled with shame.

The Japanese nation is guilty of a collective rejection of historical fact. As long as such denial persists, it will remain impossible for the world to believe that Japan has come to terms with the horrors it inflicted.

1 comment:

Mary said...

Hello,

This is the most complete and high quality website I've seen on the Bataan Death March. It's a work of art. I appreciate all the time and effort you have made to gather and present this important part of history. I am seeking the source of one of your photos and would be grateful if you would contact me.
Thank you!