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What was the purpose of the Bataan Death March?

A:

Quick Answer

The purpose of the Bataan Death March was to kill American and Filipino prisoners of war while transporting those who lived into captivity. Many prisoners died from heat and thirst during the march, and other prisoners died because the Japanese military murdered them along the way.

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Full Answer

The Bataan Death March lasted between five and 12 days for each soldier. Because the Japanese military philosophy was that a soldier should die before surrendering, the Japanese forces thought that the surrendered American and Filipino prisoners did not have any right to basic human needs such as food or water. Witnesses said that Japanese soldiers shot any prisoner who stopped to take a drink of water from a pond or stream. The Japanese military did not allow the prisoners of war to help other injured prisoners.

Prisoners subject to the march walked 65 miles. Witnesses described executions of prisoners by sword or by shooting. Although the exact number is not certain, American and Filipino forces lost between 5,000 and 10,000 men during the march. Most of the soldiers who died came from the Philippines, but the United States lost about half of its forces in the Philippines.

Soldiers who lived through the march lived as prisoners of war for more than three years. Japanese forces transferred many of the prisoners of war to Japan, and a number of the prisoners did not survive the journey from the Philippines to Japan. Many who survived later died of disease, even after leaving confinement.

After World War II ended, General Masaharu Homma faced trial for orchestrating the Bataan Death March. The court convicted General Homma, and a firing squad executed him in 1946.

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