Bataan Death March
Mrs. Marilyn Swinson (author, Woodbine member, and organizer of "God Bless America" Day activities) compiled the following historical summary in order to increase understanding and respect for the guests we have invited to attend on that day.
Conrad Alberty, former P.O.W. and Baatan Death March survivor
Photo found at Veterans of America
Japan began landing troops in the Philippines December 10, 1941. American and Philippine forces, led by General Douglas MacArthur, were charged with defending the islands. They abandoned Manila and withdrew to Bataan. In March, MacArthur—ordered to Australia—left, declaring, “I shall return.”
The stranded troops fought valiantly to hold out, but they were running out of food, ammunition, and morale. They were loosing more men to starvation and disease than to enemy fire. Finally, in desperation, they turned themselves over to the Japanese in the largest single surrender of military force in American history. Thus began the Bataan Death March, the forced transfer of 75,000 men to Camp O’Donnell, a prison camp some ninety miles away.
The trek was characterized by unfathomable cruelty: beheadings, bayonet stabbings, random shootings, rapes. Prisoners—forced to walk in the hot Philippine sun—were given only a handful of contaminated rice and a half-cup of water per day. Complaining, asking for water, attempting to help a fallen comrade, falling behind, were punishable by death. Japanese vehicles routinely drove over prisoners who fell, and it was not uncommon for guards to hold bayonets out windows of trucks to massacre lines of men marching along the roadside.
It took a week for the prisoners to reach camp. It is estimated that as many as 11,000 died in route. Many others died from delayed effects of the march.
In 1946, General Masahora Homma was held responsible for the brutal treatment of the soldiers. He was convicted and executed the same year.
Below you will find a video of Congressional Representative Virginia Foxx honoring our invited guest, Conrad Alberty, for his service and survival through these most difficult circumstances: