Surrender at Mariveles -- April 9, 1942 – Day 1
When the surrender came, men were waiting in huddled groups. Many weeping unashamedly, Filipino and American alike. The men waved their white flags as the tanks rolled by and Zeros roared overhead. That was a mistake for a Zero made a climb and dove, guns blazing. The plane left. Several bodies littered the ground.
The prisoners turned to run but a loudspeaker told them to stand. Immediately the Japanese soldiers started stripping the American soldiers of watches, rings and taking other personal gear for mementos.
By mid-afternoon Bataan was in a state of bedlam. They had surrendered at Marivelas. The major force of 68,000 Filipinos, 12,000 Americans and thousands of civilians were here. In the confusion of Bataan's surrender, the American guns on Corregidor proved to be an unexpected hazard to the prisoners in southern Bataan.
Large groups of prisoners - Russ in one group - were placed in front of the Japanese guns in hope that the cannon on Corregidor would not fire at the Japanese guns for fear of killing the prisoners. But the Americans fired over the heads of the prisoners and unfortunately, a dozen or more men were killed.
On Corregidor, General Wainwright became aware of this tragedy and ordered the artillery out of action despite heavy shelling by the Japanese. As word spread of General King's surrender, the prisoners sat in large groups on the dirt runways of an air field used as an emergency landing strip by American pilots during the battle of Bataan. Mountains surrounded the area. It was the hottest point on Bataan.
One winter, I caught virus pneumonia and was very sick. I had to work sick or not. Only when you couldn't go anymore were you taken to the hospital. So few survived there, due to lack of medicine and poor care, most tried to stay away.
I persuaded my Japanese guard to let me get inside the big oven in the gauge room to see if it would help my pneumonia. It got so hot I could hardly stand it, but I laid there for several hours.
When the guard checked to see if I might be dead, he found me much improved.
The Bataan Death March
Frantic guards tried to form the prisoners into groups of 300 but yielded to frustration as thousands milled around them. They vented their feelings by slapping and kicking the Americans who did not instantly obey them. The milling men, now in bloodied, tattered rags, were haggard shadows of once proud soldiers.
Night came, bringing a cool reprieve to the men standing in the blistering heat. Any sound from them could bring a burst of gunfire immediately followed by screams. Then all would be silent again.