The Bataan Death March

“You just kept walking.” β€”Bataan Death March Survivor

In a Nutshell

In April 1942, the Allied forces in Bataan fell to the Japanese after a four-month siege. The following 105-kilometer (65 mi) death march became one of the best-known atrocities of the war, as harsh conditions and sadistic guards killed up to 10,000 prisoners.

The Whole Bushel

Some events are so inhuman they etch themselves into our collective unconsciousness. With its litany of horrors, casual brutality, and quiet despair, the Bataan Death March is one such event. Having captured the Allied forces stationed in the Philippines in April 1942, the Japanese army decided the prisoners should march the 105 kilometers (65 mi) to San Fernado for transfer to an internment camp. What followed was a nine-day ordeal of unthinkable brutality.

The march commenced in blistering heat. The prisoners, already malnourished and fatigued, were forced to walk long distances each day along a track, lacking shade, shelter, or water. It was here the horror began. No one was allowed to stop—to stop for any reason meant death. Eyewitness accounts report men who collapsed from exhaustion being executed. People suffering the effects of dysentery who stopped to relieve themselves were likewise killed. Those with malaria, those who paused to drink, and those who tried to help comrades were all judged to have “stopped.” They were stabbed, shot, decapitated, or buried alive.

For the guards, the march was like sport. They fractured skulls with their rifles to see if those hit would stop walking. They administered beatings and ran over prisoners with tanks. Over 10,000 died in nine short days, and those who survived face many more hells: from the fatally overheated boxcars that transported them to the prison camps, to the camps themselves—festering pits of disease and squalor. As one soldier later said, to be on the march was β€œto come to the end of civilization.” The walkers entered a twilight world without humanity, empathy or hope—a world we should never allow ourselves to forget.

Show Me The Proof

‘Dying was easy: It’s the living that’s hard’
Revisiting Wartime: 66 Miles of Cruelty

  • Hillyard

    Telling people that it’s ok to be a monster, to kill without mercy, that those wearing the wrong uniform are not human always has terrible results. I may be wrong but I’ve never heard of Japan apologizing for all the atrocities they committed. Yet the U.S. is quite often cast as a villain for using nuclear weapons to end the war. Go figure.

    • Hitler

      that does not mean japan is evil.

      Why dont you analyse what China’s Mao did, who killed more people than hitler alone…

      • Hillyard

        I’m not saying Japan is evil, of course Mao was worse. Just that the govt there downplays things like Bataan, the rape of Nanking etc

        • Hitler

          yea i agree. Somehow i just wished they suckup their pride and apologise MEANINGFULLY.
          But i dont think japan should back down the fight of the senkakus. It is every right that it is theirs.
          China even admit it is japan’s in the 1980s before oil is believed to lie under the isles

          • inconspicuous detective

            that fight wouldn’t end well for japan…so their hands are tied.

      • Fresco Martinez


    • N ToThe B

      when will human-kind apologize for all their atrocities? that’s my race, and we’re disgusting.

      • Hillyard

        Not the entire race, just enough to wonder WTF is wrong with us.

  • Hitler

    actually japan did apologise when one of the prime ministers went to Mao but Mao actually thanked the japanese for invading, because he wont be in power if they didnt.

    Japan also apologised countless times and gave compensation but china and south korea do not feel that is enough.

    Relationship between these 3 countries have improved in the 1980s UNTIL the 2000s when japan goes far right again. Abe is making things worse now but lets not forget how the chinese are brainwashing their citizens…

  • Hitler

    Also it is funny we pay a great deal of attention to axis war crimes. Hey china, why are you censoring your mao ze dong crazy massacre? Mao killed more chinese than the japanese alone.
    Also, As if the USA didnt commit more serious crimes than the japanese…


    • inconspicuous detective

      fuck that apology until we get ours.


      Dude don’t you get it?

      Victor’s justice. Why bash yourself when you can just bash the people who lost the war instead.

  • I’ve been to the site and memorial on Mount Samat, when I worked overseas. The story and site was sad. They have built a 300 foot cross on its summit, which is amazing. You can stand inside it and survey the land.

    • Hitler

      beautiful cross

      • Fresco Martinez

        Fuck your cross round eye

        • jonny illegal

          lol at the fact that some douch with a dragon ball z pic thinks anyone will take hime seriously.

        • Chester

          your just mad cause your got a shrimp dick. Its ok slope your women love the Big American Penis i got, more for me.

  • nyla

    One of my friends grandfather’s was part of this march. Fortunately he was able to escape by jumping off a bridge with others. Some died during the escape.

    I have also visited and been inside that cross. It’s a very beautiful sight.

  • rhijulbec

    An uncle survived that horror. He was one of the most haunted, damaged people I ever met. We didn’t get to Ohio often to visit but I do remember when I was a bit older my mom told me what Uncle Harry had endured. I asked him about it the next time we saw him and he cried as a child does. The memories of what he endured could never be voiced. He would just dissolve, the poor, poor man. Yet he held no malice. He said he had to forgive his torturers, or he would eat himself alive with hate. He was a fine man.

    • Fresco Martinez

      Your uncle deserved it

      • rhijulbec

        lol…I don’t feed trolls! lol

    • Timone

      Your uncle was a good man, a better man than most.

      • rhijulbec

        He was, I thought him a hero. But he was so gentle and loving and funny and full of life on the other side. Just hard for him to do things due to health a lot of times. He, I think, felt he failed because he was a POW.

  • patrick weidinger

    I think it is good to try to put war and all its attrocities behind us, but the fact that the Japanese have still, never really fully apologized to the people who they brutalized during WWII, including the men who died and who survived the Bataan Death March, is a dark stain on their country and culture. The Germans on the other hand have spent the last 60 some years apologizing for, trying to come to terms with as a culture, and rejecting Nazism and all it did and stood for. Certainly not all Germans but as a culture and as a country I think the Germans have faced the horrors they perpetrated during WWII, at least a lot more honestly and fully than the Japanese have. Where is the full apology for, and even more important, the full cultural realization and acceptance that yes, the Japanese were capable of and did perform wartime attrocities such as the use of “Comfort Women”, the use of chemical and biological warfare, the torture and slaughter of helpless prisoners, the slaughter of native peoples of the countries they occupied, and of course, that rape and killing of the Chinese (Rape of Nanking)? I still have not seen it.

  • Fresco Martinez

    Shit the allied were doing the same atrocities to innocent Japanese ppl and other Asians. Fuck them my mothers ppl are the first race and will be the last to survive. All the rest will burn and choke in they’re own ashes πŸ˜€

  • Fresco Martinez

    Round eyes will perish

  • Chester

    Thats why you dont surrender, you dig in and fight, considering everyone knew the barbarity of the Japanese its safe to assume theyd be given the same treatment. Personally i would rather die than being a Jap POW, grab a gun and take as many with ya as you can is what should have been done.

  • pronto

    The father of Tommy & Dick Smothers of the Smothers Brothers comedy act was on this horrific march.

  • Ihsan YoungsterPro

    He was, I thought him a hero. But he was so gentle and loving and funny and full of life on the other side Rumah minimalis nya keren banget, saya juga cari disini loh :

    Rumah Dijual di Pamulang

    Rumah Dijual di Gaplek Pamulang

  • I love to read every article on ww1 and ww2 and this one was a great read,