Battle of Bataan

In the beginning of American interference in the Japanese conquest of Asia, most Americans didn’t know what to expect, especially the soldiers stationed in the Bataan peninsula. Over 120,000 thousand troops, both Filipino and American, waited with Douglas MacArthur, the soon to be general in charge of the Pacific front.. The Americans knew that this peninsula was crucial for the Japanese to take the south part of Asia and push further inland. The Japanese were outnumbered in troops, but exceeded the Americans in weapons, planning, and experience. When the Japanese attacked the Americans, they continued to be pushed down south of the Peninsula. They were pushed to the shore and had no other choice than to surrender. General MacArthur left on a submarine with the quote “I shall return”.

The battle took place after the attack on Pearl Harbor, when the Japanese began an aerial assault in the Philippines. The battle as a whole went from January 7th to April 9th, 1942, lasting 3 months and 2 days. The Bataan Peninsula is located near Manila Bay, on the Luzon Island in the Philippines. The battle came to a conclusion when Major General Edward P. King Jr. surrendered to the Japanese against MacArthur’s orders. This was the largest group of US soldiers to ever surrender. The 78,000 troops, including 12,000 Americans, were taken captive by the Japanese. The surrendered was followed by the brutal and deadly Bataan Death March. After the war, the Japanese commander held responsible for the death march was tried and executed for war crimes. In the end, about 10,000 US and Filipino troops were killed, and another 20,000 were wounded.

This battle was the first to show the true power of the Japanese military, but it was also the first battle to show that the young Americans were committed and determined to fight for freedom no matter what the cost.

Death March: The Survivors of Bataan by Donald Knox

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