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ABOUT BATAAN - THE "WHY" OF THE EVENT

Bataan Death March: April 1942

April 9, 1942, U.S. surrender of the Bataan Peninsula on the main Philippine island of Luzon to the Japanese during World War II (1939-45), the approximately 75,000 Filipino and American troops on Bataan were forced to make an arduous 65-mile march to prison camps. The marchers made the trek in intense heat and were subjected to harsh treatment by Japanese guards. Thousands perished in what became known as the Bataan Death March.

The surrendered Filipinos and Americans soon were rounded up by the Japanese and forced to march some 65 miles from Mariveles, on the southern end of the Bataan Peninsula, to San Fernando. The men were divided into groups of approximately 100, and the march typically took each group around five days to complete. The exact figures are unknown, but it is believed that thousands of troops died because of the brutality of their captors, who starved and beat the marchers and bayoneted those too weak to walk. Survivors were taken by rail from San Fernando to prisoner-of-war camps, where thousands more died from disease, mistreatment, and starvation.

Ultimately, the exact number of deaths during the death march and the imprisonment that followed it are not known. Accordingly, some 500 Americans and up to 2,500 Filipinos died in the main march. In the prison camp, it is believed that as many as 1,500 Americans and 26,000 Filipinos died due to illnesses and starvation. All in all, of the approximately 22,000 American soldiers captured by the Japanese during the Fall of Bataan, only about 15,000 were able to return home to the States.

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