1 The march of death
2 Public responses
2.2 United States
3 War crimes trial
4 Memorials and commemorative events
5 See also
7 Further reading
8 External links
The march of death
Dead soldiers on the Bataan Death March.
The Japanese were unprepared for the number of prisoners that they were responsible for, and there was no organized plan for how to handle them. Prisoners were stripped of their weapons and valuables, and told to march to Balanga, the capital of Bataan. Many were beaten, bayoneted and mistreated. The first major atrocity occurred when between 350 and 400 Filipino officers and NCOs were summarily executed after they had surrendered. The Japanese failed to supply the prisoners with food or water until they had reached Balanga. Many of the prisoners died along the way of heat or exhaustion. Prisoners were given no food for the first three days, and were only allowed to drink water from filthy water buffalo wallows on the side of the road. At times, prisoners were made to bury their comrades alive at the side of the roads. Any refusal to do so was met with execution and further punishment to others. Furthermore, Japanese troops would frequently beat and bayonet prisoners who began to fall behind, or were unable to walk. Once they arrived in Balanga, the overcrowded conditions and poor hygiene caused dysentery and other diseases to rapidly spread amongst the prisoners. The Japanese failed to provide them with medical care, leaving U.S. medical personnel to tend to the sick and wounded (with few or no supplies).
Prisoners on the march from Bataan to the prison camp, May 1942. (National Archives). In June 2001, U.S. Congressional Representative Dana Rohrabacher described the horrors and brutality that the prisoners experienced on the march: "They were beaten, and they were starved as they marched. Those who fell were bayoneted. Some of those who fell were beheaded by Japanese officers who were practicing with their samurai swords from horseback. The Japanese culture at that time reflected the view that any warrior who surrendered had no honor; thus was not to be treated like a human being. Thus they were not committing crimes against human beings.[...] The Japanese soldiers at that time [...] felt they were dealing with subhumans and animals." Trucks were known to drive over some of those who fell or succumbed to fatigue, and "cleanup crews" put to death those too weak to continue. Marchers were harassed with random bayonet stabs and beatings. From San Fernando, the prisoners were transported by rail to Capas. One hundred or more prisoners were stuffed into each of the trains' boxcars, which were unventilated and sweltering in the tropical heat. The trains had no sanitation facilities, and disease continued to take a heavy toll of the prisoners. After they reached Capas, they were forced to walk the final 9 miles to Camp O'Donnell. Even after arriving at Camp O'Donnell, the survivors of the march continued to die at a rate of 30–50 per day, leading to...