"They went down by twos and threes. Usually, they made an effort to rise. I never can forget their groans and strangled breathing as they tried to get up. Some succeeded. Others lay lifelessly where they had fallen...I observed that the Jap guards paid no attention to these. I wondered why. The explanation wasn't long in coming. There was a sharp crackle of pistol and rifle fire behind us." (Captain William Dyess)
On December 7, 1941, the Japanese military engaged in a preemptive strike against the American Pacific fleet stationed at Pearl Harbor, but they also began maneuvers to attack the American controlled Philippines. Although General Douglas A. MacArthur and Allied forces tried to hold out, they could only fight a delaying action, and the Japanese managed to subdue all resistance by the spring of 1942. However, in the aftermath of Japan's successful invasion, as the nation's military strategists began preparations for the next phase of military actions in the theater, their forces had to deal with a critical logistical problem they had not foreseen. The Japanese had to deal with large numbers of Filipino and American soldiers who had surrendered after a lengthy defense in the Bataan peninsula, but they were not prepared for so many prisoners of war because their own military philosophy emphasized rigid discipline and fighting until the end. They could not imagine a situation in which Japanese soldiers would willingly surrender, so they assumed that no other combatants would do so either.
©2012 Charles River Editors (P)2016 Charles River Editors
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