Every Filipino would know what happened after the fall of Bataan during the 2nd World War. We knew that the Filipino and American soldiers who surrender was made to match for more than 80 miles to what we now known as the infamous “Bataan Death March”.
But did you know the name of the Japanese Imperial Army General who is behind this cruelty? Or did you know that this General later was convicted of the crime against humanity and was sentence to death through firing squad after the World War II.
On 1942, when the Japanese Imperial Army attack and invaded the whole Philippines just after the World War II started in the Pacific. When the last stronghold of the Filipinos and American defenders fall to the hands of the enemy, thousands of soldiers surrendered. The Filipinos and American soldiers who surrendered now become the Japanese Army’s prisoners of war (POW). The Battle of Bataan was headed by Japanese Imperial Army General Masaharu Homma.
With Homma’s order, the 80,000 POWs will be transferred from Bataan to Camp O’Donell in Capas, Tarlac. Transportation is of the problem during this time as they did not anticipate the huge number of POWs to reached 80,000 (their estimation is only at 25,000). This prompted the Japanese soldiers to carry out the order by marching all the POWs through three provinces (Bataan, Pampanga & Tarlac). This march will forever be known in the modern world as the “Bataan Death March”.
Because of the long and hard journey, the lack of food and water, the sick and the wounded, it was estimated that more than 8,000 soldiers died during the course of the six-day ordeal.
While those that simply fall on the line or are leaving behind, were killed or murdered by their captors.
And when the Japanese Imperial Army was defeated by the Allied Forces and the Philippines were recaptured, General Homma went back to Japan. But he was captured in Japan and was bringing back to the Philippines. In Manila, Homma was accused of using brute force against the Filipino and American soldiers during the war and was put into a Military Trial.
And on 1946, the guilty verdict of General Homma arrived and he was convicted to death sentence by means of a firing squad. General Douglas MacArthur had given the directive to carry-out the sentence to Lt.Gen.W.D. Styer who executed the death penalty. The person in-charge of the infamous “Bataan Death March” was executed by means of firing squad on April 3, 1946 in Los Baños, Laguna.
Why firing squad and not any other form of execution? The firing squad is considered as the greatest dishonor a military man could have.
Author’s note: Another compiling story and history of my motherland and its citizens.
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