Wednesday, April 9, 2014

On This Date in Minnesota History: April 9

April 9, 1942 - The Bataan Death March, the forcible transfer by the Imperial Japanese Army of 60,000–80,000 Filipino and American prisoners of war after the three-month Battle of Bataan in the Philippines during World War II, began on this date.1

“78,000 individuals were forced to march over 55 miles, with little to no food or water, following the surrender of Allied Forces. Nearly 20,000 military and civilian personnel died or were killed during the march. Many of the 60,000 survivors suffered the remaining years of the war in Japanese POW camps.

Soldiers from the Brainerd Army National Guard’s 194th Tank Battalion deployed to the Philippines in 1941, were attacked on the Bataan Peninsula by the Japanese on December 8th, 1941 (the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor), fought for five months in sustained combat, endured the Bataan Death March, and those who survived suffered the next three years in POW camps.” 2

The following
Bataan Death March Memorials can be found on the Minnesota State Capitol grounds:

“In honor of the soldiers of the 194th Light Tank Battalion, many of whom were from Brainerd, Minnesota. On April 9, 1942, shortly after the American entry into World War II, these Minnesotans were among those stationed in the Philippines who were ordered to surrender to the Japanese military and forced march up to ten days with no food or water in what has become known as the Bataan Death March, during which thousands of Americans and Filipino soldiers and civilians died.”

“The beginning of the war in the Pacific was disastrous for Americans and its allies. In April 1942, troops fighting on Luzon Island in the Philippines surrendered to the Japanese. Over 70,000 debilitated American and Filipino prisoners were then force-marched 65 miles in six days. Thousands died from the heat and inhumane treatment on this infamous Bataan Death March, and many later perished in prison camps. One small town in Minnesota paid a particularly high price. Among those captured at Bataan was Company A, 194th Tank Battalion, a national Guard unit with 61 men from Brainerd. Thirty-two never returned home. Throughout the war, approximately 27,000 Americans were held as POWs by the Japanese and 94,000 by the Germans. Yet among the grim accounts of conflict and captivity are moving stories of fellowship by those engaged in the struggle to survive.”



Photos taken by Pamela J. Erickson. Released into the public domain April 9, 2014, 
as long as acknowledgement included.  

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