From those that were there…(1)

Bataan Death March

Bataan Death March

Captain William Dyess was a fighter pilot stationed on Luzon when the Japanese invaded.  He offered a shockingly graphic account of the ordeal in the “Chicago Tribune” newspaper in 1943.  Initially his story was censored, but cleared for publication when the war effort turned to retaking the Philippines.  The captain was one of a handful that escaped captivity. The following is only a portion of Capt. Dyess’ story, due to the length of the series and the truly atrocious episodes related, I have chosen what I feel is best.  The entire length can be located in “Combat, WWII Pacific” edited by Don Congdon.

Willian Edwin Dyess

Willian Edwin Dyess

About a mile east of the hospital [at Little Baguio] we encountered a major traffic jam.  On either side of the congested road hundreds of Jap soldiers were unloading ammunition and equipment.  Our contingent of more than 600 American and Filipino prisoners filtered through, giving the Japs as wide a berth as the limited space permitted.  This was to avoid being searched, slugged, or pressed into duty as cargadores [burden carriers]. Through the swirling dust we could see a long line of trucks, standing bumper to bumper.  There were hundreds of them.  And every last one was an American make.  I saw Fords – which predominated – Chevrolets, GMCs and others.  These were not captured trucks.  They bore Jap army insignia and had been landed from the ships of the invasion fleet.  It is hard to describe what we felt at seeing these familiar American machines, filled with jeering, snarling Japs.  It was sort of super-sinking feeling.  We had become accustomed to having American iron thrown at us, but this was a little too much.

LtColonel Willian Dyess

LtColonel Willian Dyess

It was dark when we marched across Bataan field, which with Cabcaben field I had commanded two days before.  It was difficult walking in the darkness.  Now and again we passed the huddled forms of men who had collapsed from fatigue or had been bayoneted.  I didn’t kid myself that I was safe simply because I was keeping up with the pace.  The bloodthirsty devils now were killing us for diversion. Skulking along, a hundred yards behind our contingent, came a “clean-up squad.”  Their helpless victims, sprawled darkly against the white of the road, were easy targets.  As members of the murder squad stooped over each huddled form, there would be an orange flash in the darkness and a sharp report.  The bodies were left where they lay, that other prisoners coming behind us might see them.

William Dyess' ribbons

William Dyess’ ribbons

 

############################################################################### Military Humor – 

Most popular guy in camp!

Most popular guy in camp

Target Practice

Target Practice

Cartoon postcards are courtesy of Chris @ Muscleheaded, CLICK HERE to see his site. ################################################################################ For those people looking for a Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day post, I felt I did not know what to add to last year’s – which can be located HERE! ############################################################################### Current news – 

USS Kailua (Dickenson)

USS Kailua (Dickenson)

USS Kailau historical site

USS Kailau historical site

The cable ship, Dickenson, was chartered by the US Navy after Pearl Harbor and renamed the USS Kailau.  Her remains have recently been located lying intact 20 miles from Oahu in 2,000 feet of water by the Hawaii Research Laboratory & the NOAA.  Her initial use was to keep global telecommunications open and later she became the target for submarine periscope practice, but her resting place was never marked.   ################################################################################# Farewell Salutes –  Justus Belfield – Utica, NY; US Army, MSgt., WWII, ETO Albert Bueler – Farmington, NH; US Coast Guard, Vietnamrose-flag Theophile Chusty, Jr – Baton Rouge, LA; US MC, Cpl., WWII Albert Debreceny – Taranaki, NZ; NZ Ammunition Corps, Sgt., WWII Robert Glod, Sr – Schaumburg, IL; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Kitkun Bay Florence Hutchison – Edmonton, CAN; RC Navy, WWII Joseph Lapka – Woodland, PA; US Army, WWII, PTO Philip Mack Jr – Seattle, WA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, *th Air Force, B-17 co-pilot Leon Reed – Jupiter, FL; US Air Force, Col. (Ret.), Vietnam, fighter pilot (189 missions) , 559 Tactical Fighter Sq/ 12th Wing Elias Saavedra – San Rafael, NM; New Mexico National Guard, Bataan survivor ##############################################################################

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About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on December 8, 2014, in First-hand Accounts, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 87 Comments.

  1. The Bataan death march must rate as one of the highest atrocities, committed by the Japanese in all the history of the war.
    To read the story of that march makes one wonder on the savagery of mankind.
    Regards
    Ian

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    • I am beginning to wonder if there is a limit to human savagery. I dare not include some of the atrocities I’ve heard and read about, Ian. Thank you for stopping in to read and comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. God…that was hard to read…it tore at my very heart.

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    • They were good men, brought up since birth to endure – why things like this happen is deplorable. I thank you for bearing up under some of these rather horrific tales.

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  3. My favorite high school physiology teacher was medic in the march and told me stories about it that I will never forget. Here’s to you Mr Budge!! Excellent post~

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  4. Unnecessary violence, like killing the helpless, is the worst. It is not genetically linked to a certain nation. It can still be found everywhere in the world… Those who are guilty in this sort of violence, are a shame for human kind.

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  5. If you haven’t read The War Diary of Rocky Gause, it starts on the Bataan Death March and is fascinating.

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  6. It is difficult to read but must be done… I can only imagine how much horror was there in person… yet I don’t want to imagine it… Thank you for taking such care with this post.

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  7. The Philippines had hard fought battles. The book called “A town like Alice” by Nevil Shute. He wrote of the times of war in the Philippines. Allowing me as a young reader to understand the coast of war. Thank you for sharing stories of places and strong men.

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    • You are very welcome, John. As I go through the facts and statistics of the Pacific War, I need to add eye witness accounts and home front posts to give the very personal aspect of what war actually is like. I thank you for stopping in to read Col. Dyess’ story snippet.

      Liked by 1 person

      • My step-dad served four years in Europe from 1942-1945 with the Para-troopers. He won’t discuss the war. He said better to allow bad memories to lay dead. I enjoy your blog.

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        • I’m glad you enjoy it. Sorry you dad won’t discuss his experiences, but it can’t be helped sometimes. They all live thru it the best way they can. Some vets can only speak to other vets about what happened and that may be good for him.

          Liked by 1 person

  8. Horrible accounting…and these are just words. Words cannot fully express the horror endured by those who were there. War is no good…But if we must go to war (like we are now with our stretched out armed forces), the whole country needs to be behind those doing the fighting.

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    • Without one common enemy, I doubt you will ever see the unity that WWII witnessed, Koji. I would like to think I am wrong though.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Well, in a way, WWII wasn’t one enemy unless you group them together as the Axis… We had Germany, Japan and Italy (with Ireland possibly thrown in conceptually as Irish soldiers were deemed traitors for fighting alongside Brits) to fight. We’re in a war against terrorists, aren’t we? The Administration needs to fight to win instead of politiking our armed forces… cuz they’re the ones being shot at or dying due to lack of resources.

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        • Very true, but there’s no front line – the enemy could be your neighbor or mine – who knows? It’s not the war you and I study anymore. We can’t say we are against Muslims per se, only the fanatical ones – okay which ones are they? People have nothing to grab hold of and say let’s fight HIM!!

          Liked by 1 person

  9. Very interesting as always, GP. Still hard to take it all in.

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  10. I have read a full-on account by an American soldier from the march. I will never forget it.

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    • So, you understand why I feel some parts should not be included here. I think Col. Dyess’ story snippet and the next few posts will make it quite obvious what happened. With the amount of books [w/ free speech and technology today, there ‘s no getting away from history. I know you have a vested interest in the POWs, Hillary AND I know you will never forget!!

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  11. Hi gp. For some reason, the comment I made didn’t appear. However, it is over at firstnighthistory, so can be seen there.
    Regards from England, Pete.

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    • I’m afraid I don’t know what comment you’re referring to, I even checked my Spam and this is the only new comment from you. But, thank you for visiting.

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  12. As always, thank you for your unfliching presentation of history. Ugly as war is, no matter who the victims and who the victors, if we don’t study and understand human motivations we may revisit those tragic times sooner than we think.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That is one point no one has brought up before, the understanding. In the ’40s, not many knew the Japanese culture, hence fear and and wariness. The Japanese saw us as over-bearing conquerors – sooner or later there would be a clash. Thanks, Nancy.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Time does not erase any of this horror.

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  14. The Knights of Bushido had much to answer for. and to think they believed what they were doing was honorable. The mind boggles, Their war crimes exceeded the Germans in terms of sheer brutality!

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    • Many of the Japanese soldiers were too humiliated by their wartime actions to even go home. (Once the combat was gone and they envisioned themselves back with parents and family). Many never believed they would ever get to go home. Their training, since childhood had been to be a warrior and fight to the death. Thanks for reading and giving your side.

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  15. What a horrible trek! For some reason it brought to mind the Cherokee Trail of Tears. The world can sometimes be so cruel to others of the human race.

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  16. I also have to agree that march had to be so terrible on the body and the mind. Would have been so hard to endure, Everett.

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  17. gp, Hard words to read from Cpt to Lt Col Willian Edwin Dyess & from what you said he wrote of worse atrocities. Phil

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    • His most famous one of the series is of the first beheading he ever saw and that was just the beginning! It was hard to find enough of the story I felt I could put here. Thank you for viewing it today, Phil.

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  18. One of the darkest stories in the war. –Curt

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  19. I love your stories. My grandfather fought in the Asian Pacific Theater and was at Luzon. I wish he had written down something of his experiences. All we have is his military record and the few stories he told.

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    • All stories are welcome here!! Not just name, rank and serial # either! 😆 My purpose here (besides honoring my father, Smitty, and his unit, the 11th A/B Division), is to try and keep the memory alive of all those that served in this war that affected the entire world then and even today. Your grandfather is one of those to be remembered!

      Liked by 1 person

  20. One of the most horrific of war experiences. Even though it’s so hard to read, it’s important to do so. Thank you for the post; we shall keep the memories alive.

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  21. is the photo the “Bataan Death March” as we call it here in the Philippines?

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    • Yes it is. It was the newspapers that coined that phrase, by the way. When the POWs were first interviewed after their liberation, they had no idea what every one was talking about. They had to be told that their accomplishment had been given that name.

      Liked by 2 people

  22. R. I. P. all the brave fallen ones.

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  23. I just finished reading the compilation of Dyess’ story “Bataan Death March” over the weekend – what those POWs went through was horrific. Thank you for posting!

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  24. Thank goodness that the Japanese have now changed from what they were into our allies, and into decent people. Having said that, I have taught both Chinese and South Korean pupils and clearly there is a lot of hatred still for their erstwhile Japanese masters.

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    • It is quite clear in most of my research that these atrocities were NOT the norm as far as Japanese culture goes. The military had gotten such a thirst for blood and power, it literally became a disease in and of itself. I hope every one realizes that we are looking back in time and that I am in no way making comparisons of the present. Even in August 1945, my father, Smitty, saw what the civilians were really like and made certain I knew too as I grew up.

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  25. A wretched 65 mile hike. It is hard to imagine let alone experience such deprivation and horror.

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  26. Terrible realities of war related here that brings home just how brutal we can be to each other given the right/wrong circumstances.

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  27. Hard to imagine anyone surviving that march.

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  28. These are important stories to remember when we feel that life is inconvenient or that we are uncomfortable in the snow and cold. Thanks for finding and sharing these stories.

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  29. My Grandfather was captured and then he lived in Japan until the end of WW2

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  30. Reblogged this on A Conservative Christian Man.

    Liked by 1 person

  31. Seems there is a big difference between soldiers and savages. But I suppose war brings out the very worst in humankind.

    Liked by 2 people

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