For months, the American and Filipino troops were fighting against the Japanese, but the Japanese received reinforcements on April 3, 1942, that led to the Japanese beginning to fight through the Bataan peninsula. Against General Douglas MacArthur's orders, Major General Edward P. King Jr. surrendered. More than 78,000 troops surrendered that day, marking the largest contingent of U.S. soldiers to ever surrender. The soldiers were taken captive by the Japanese army.
The Baatan Death March came next, where prisoners were forced to become prisoners of war and walk 65 miles without food or water in order to be taken to confinement camps. If a soldier tried to steal water from a nearby stream or collapsed along the journey, they were immediately shot. A total of 10,000 men died during the Bataan March out of the 78,000 troops that had surrendered.
Those soldiers that survived would spend the next 40 months in deplorable confinement camps. They were tortured, fed very little and given little water. Two-thirds of these soldiers died from the deplorable conditions. The prisoners of war would not see freedom until the late summer in 1945.Learn more about World War 2