Bataan has fallen!
That eulogy echoed from the depths of Malinta Tunnel in nearby Corregidor Island had further debilitated the worn out soldiers in this side of the Manila Bay. The crushing defeat had just set in. But the harsh reality would have felt days later as these gallant soldiers forced to endure a long, arduous march.
Immediately after the Fall of Bataan, the US Forces in the Philippines (USFIP) were evacuated by the Japanese from the battlefields as prisoners of war (POW). The more than 70,000 Filipino and American troops who had survived the Battle of Bataan underwent, in this evacuation, the ordeal that history now knows as the Death March.
The Death March started from two points in Bataan: on April 10 from Mariveles, and on April 11 from Bagac. The Filipino and American troops were marched day and night, under blistering sun or cold night sky, staggering through Cabcaben, Limay, Orion, Pilar, and Balanga, where they were given a brief rest and some water.
From Balanga, the POWs were organized into groups of 100 to 200 under guard marched on through Abucay, Samal, and Orani, where the Americans were segregated from the Filipinos. The march continued northward through Hermosa, to Layac Junction, thence eastward into Pampanga through Lubao, Guagua, where the POWs were rested and given little food at the National Development Company compound, Bacolor, and San Fernando.
Already suffering from battle fatigue, the Filipino and American troops were strained to utter exhaustion by this long march on foot many were ill, most were feverish, but none might rest, for the enemy was brutal with those who lagged behind, thousand fell along the way, townspeople on the roadside risked their lives by slipping food and drink to the death marchers as they stumbled by.
In San Fernando, the Death March became a Death Ride by cargo train when the POWs were packed, so densely into boxcars that many of them perished from suffocation, those who arrived alive in Capas, Tarlac had still to walk the last and most agonized miles of the Death March – the six kilometers to Camp O’Donnell which was to become one of the most hellish of the concentration camps of World War II.
In 1967, the National Historical Committee erected a marker along Avenue of the Philippines (Bataan National Highway) near the Mariveles Town Hall to forever commemorate the gallantry of the Filipino and American troops during the Battle of Bataan.