During 1943 as World War II raged throughout Europe, top military brass and U.S. government officials set their priorities. First, the war in Europe must be won before America’s military power would be aimed at the Orient. As a result of this decision, the fate of thousands of American servicemen battling in the Philippines was sealed.
The men under Douglass McArthur, fighting on the large Pacific island of Luzon, were being overrun. In full retreat, they turned south through the Bataan Peninsula but evacuation could not happen fast enough. Surrendering, these surrounded men were corralled together along with those from the “stronghold” Corregidor and marched at a quick pace by the Japanese back inland as POWs, and north to Clark Field, Camp O’Donnell, Cabanatuan prison camp, and some eventually to Davao.
Escape from Davao tells of the thousands who died along this Bataan Death March. Japanese Bushido warriors, firmly believing that death was honorable, and surrender — disgraceful cowardice. They looked upon captives as spineless cowards and treated them as such — inferior and subhuman dogs deserving death they should have accepted with honor.
During this long Death March, all of the following were true.
1. Men were beheaded on the spot if found in possession of any Japanese objects.
2. An American captive’s swollen finger was cut off to steal his West Point ring.
3. Decaying bodies filled ditches on the march and in camps.
4. Marchers were refused access to clean artesian well water.
5. Prisoners had not eaten in two days and were given little, if any, water.
6. Marchers were forced to drink water from ditches contaminated by human corpses and feces.
7. A disoriented man was crushed alive into the earth beneath a cleated tank.
8. Mutilated, decaying human heads were carried aloft on pikes.
9. With z-shaped cuts, guards slashed stomachs of living prisoners tied to a fence.