On April 9, 1942, American and Filipino forces in Luzon, Philippines, surrendered to the Imperial Japanese Army, which had invaded the island nation months earlier. With more than 70,000 troops, this remains the largest American militia in history to surrender. The Japanese, overwhelmed by the number of prisoners of war, forced the POWs to walk from the tip of the Bataan Peninsula to POW camps further inland. Thousands died on what quickly became known as the “Bataan Death March.”
 
The Bataan Death March was about 105 kilometers (65 miles), from the urban area of Mariveles through a tropical jungle to Camp O’Donnell (a former Filipino facility taken over by the Japanese). POWs, already malnourished, weak, and suffering from tropical diseases such as malaria and beriberi, marched in groups of about 100 men. Marchers were beaten and executed for walking slowly. Others were tortured. It took each group about five days to reach the camp. As many as 11,000 troops never made it. 
 
American Gen. Douglas MacArthur, who famously vowed to return to the Philippines after leaving prior to the surrender, eventually helped liberate the islands. Japanese Lt. Gen. Homma Masaharu was convicted of war crimes surrounding the Bataan Death March, and was executed in 1946.
beriberi
Noun

disease linked to malnutrition caused by lack of vitamin B (thiamine) which affects both the nervous system and cardiovascular system.

convict
Verb

to find someone guilty of an illegal act.

execute
Verb

to put to death by order of the law or in a well-planned manner.

facility
Noun

a building or room that serves a specific function.

invade
Verb

to enter and attack.

jungle
Noun

tropical ecosystem filled with trees and underbrush.

liberate
Verb

to set free.

malaria
Noun

infectious disease caused by a parasite carried by mosquitoes.

malnourished
Adjective

not having sufficient nutrition or diet.

overwhelm
Verb

to completely overpower.

Noun

piece of land jutting into a body of water.

prior
Adjective

before or ahead of.

prisoner of war
Noun

person captured and held by an enemy during a conflict.

surrender
Verb

to give up.

torture
Noun

inflicting pain to force a victim to provide information.

troop
Noun

a soldier.

tropical
Adjective

existing in the tropics, the latitudes between the Tropic of Cancer in the north and the Tropic of Capricorn in the south.

Noun

developed, densely populated area where most inhabitants have nonagricultural jobs.

vow
Verb

to promise.

war crime
Noun

severe acts of violence, violating international law, committed against civilians, enemies, prisoners of war, or others during an armed conflict.

More Dates in History

April
MonTueWedThuFriSatSun
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
29 30 1 2 3 4 5