Wednesday, April 09, 2008

66 Years Ago: The Tragedy of Bataan, a Forgotten Battle

Bataan Death March, April 1942

66 Years Ago: The Tragedy of Bataan, a Forgotten Battle
By Lester Tenney

A Carlsbad veteran remembers America's greatest military defeat.

On April 9, 1942, Gen. Douglas MacArthur's Armed Forces in the Far East was forced to surrender Bataan to the Japanese, this in spite of his orders of April 3 demanding that no surrender be considered and, if ultimately necessary, to “charge the enemy. Make one last stand.” He likened the situation to Gen. George Custer's last stand at Little Bighorn in 1876, except MacArthur was not there for the onslaught that followed.

On that memorable day 66 years ago on Bataan, 12,000 American service men and women, along with 57,500 Filipino troops, were ordered by Major Gen. Edward King, the commander of all fighting forces on Bataan, to surrender to the Japanese Imperial Army. This was the largest military defeat in the history of the United States, yet it has gone largely unnoticed and forgotten all these years.

Yes, the date has been all but lost. Few remember it or the circumstances that led to the defeat of a once-proud army – except the survivors of this catastrophic event.

Let's retrace a few of the events of that period.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Few remember that is except for me. This was the single largest capitualtion of American forces in our history and the beginning of three and a half of the most brutal captivity any prisoners of war ever faced. Nine days later,and five months after Pearl harbor, America would strike back at mainland Japan in a daring air-raid, forgotten as well, "The Doolittle raid'' This is an excellent post Donal, thanks for putting it up. J'Mac.

3:10 PM  
Blogger FairestWitness said...

Hey, J'Mac, didn't you mention a relative who participated in this air raid, or was it Iwo Jima?

3:30 PM  
Blogger VerityINK said...

My mother told us about Bataan when we were very young--she showed us lots of pictures from it, she explained the Holocaust and about who Hitler was... I think I was 9 years old... she mentioned Kristallnacht, and pogroms, and 'ghettos, and Lidice, CZ...

I remember, too, J'Mac--we must ALL keep remembering.

3:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Iwo Ima, fairest, that was my late-father-in-law. He served with the 4th. Marine Divison. J'Mac.

6:53 PM  
Blogger FairestWitness said...

That's right. My father-in-law was a Marine, stationed in the Marshall Islands. He worked on the F6F Hellcat & F7F Tigercat Naval Aircraft. Guess that's where the seed was planted for my hubby's aviation passion, although my father-in-law wasn't even married when he went off to war. I think my hubby was enthralled with Daddy's war stories.

7:07 PM  
Blogger CHOMP said...

I remember the horror of this tragic march...and it was a HORROR! How could anyone forget this once they had read about it, seen the pictures, heard the newsreels, been a survivor?

For those that did forget, let's remind them; for those that never knew, let them read this story.

7:12 PM  
Blogger VerityINK said...

Thanks for all the great posts, folks. J'Mac, you'll always be my site historian!

10:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The nurse in our family doctor's office was stationed at Bataan. She survived the death march, but would never talk about it to anyone.

A lean, tough, non-nonsense red-headed woman with a heart of gold.

She was an ace. Everybody loved her, even though she rarely said two words to anyone.

I'm sure her story and those of thousands of others who fought on the front lines in that war would make great reading, but there's a lot we'll never know.

True heroes usually don't talk much about their bravest deeds.

6:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Te Dath march itself was horrible enough. What our guys suffered for three and half years being held captive by the Japanese was worse than anything you can imagine. Just to give you an idea, 1% of all Allied prisoners held captive by the Germans in WW2 died as a result of their captivity. 40% of all Allied prisoners help captive by the Japanese died as a result of their captivity. J'Mac.

5:45 PM  
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6:29 PM  

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