The Bataan Death March

Prisoner of War

“…if you stepped out of line… they would immediately bayonet you.”

“Our rings and watches and any gold that we had was taken by [the Japanese]. We were lined in columns of four and started marching up the one little narrow paved trail toward San Fernando. We didn’t know where we were going, but every time we met a convoy coming down this one paved road, we were forced to get off into the jungle and wait for the convoy to pass. In the jungles, there were pythons in the trees, and on the ground, there were cobras. And the jungles were as thick as any in the world.

The 'Death March' lasted for ten days on my part. During those ten days, I [had] no food and drank very little water.

Many men lost their lives on the ‘Death March’ because if you stepped out of line during the time you were marching in columns of four, they immediately would bayonet you. If you were sick and had to drop out— we were all infected with dysentery —to use the bathroom for your bowels to move, immediately they would bayonet you. There was no opportunity to use the bathroom at any time. If you did, you just kept marching.”

Editor's Note: William Wallace Jr. recalled in his 2018 oral history interview how his father credited his South Georgia upbringing in part for preparing him to survive the Bataan Death March. "He thinks that that’s what prepared him for the Bataan Death March. He told me quite often, had he not experienced the heat, the hard, physical labor that he endured to build muscle and endurance and things like that, he would never have survived the Bataan Death March."