Battle of Bataan
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|Battle of Bataan|
|Part of World War II, Pacific theater|
Japanese soldiers celebrate victory on Bataan
| United States
|Empire of Japan|
|Commanders and leaders|
| Douglas MacArthur
Jonathan Mayhew Wainwright IV
George M. Parker
Edward P. King
| Masaharu Homma
|79,500 U.S. and Filipino troops||75,000 Japanese troops|
|Casualties and losses|
The Battle of Bataan represented the most intense phase of Imperial Japan's invasion of the Philippines during World War II. The capture of the Philippine Islands was crucial to Japan's effort to control the Southwest Pacific, seize the resource-rich Dutch East Indies, and protect its Southeast Asia flank. It was the largest surrender in American and Filipino military history, and was the largest United States surrender since the Civil War's Battle of Harper's Ferry.
After Japanese carrier planes attacked the United States Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor on the morning of 7 December 1941 (8 December, Manila time), Taiwan-based aircraft within 6–7 hours pounded the main bases of the American Far East Air Force at Clark Field in Pampanga, Iba Field in Zambales, Nichols Field near Manila, and the headquarters of the U.S. Asiatic Fleet in the Philippines at Cavite.
From 8 to 10 December, scattered resistance by ground troops and remaining American air and naval forces failed to stop preliminary landings to seize airfields at Batan Island, Aparri, and Vigan City. Army Air Force B-17s, often with fighter escort, attacked Japanese ships offloading at Gonzaga and the Vigan landings on Luzon. Submarines of the Asiatic Fleet were also assigned to the effort.
In one last coordinated action by the Far East Air Force, U.S. planes damaged two Japanese transports, the flagship Nagato, a destroyer and sank one minesweeper. These air attacks and naval actions, however, did not significantly delay the Japanese assault.
These small-scale landings preceded the main assault on 22 December 1941 at Lingayen Gulf in Pangasinan and Lamon Bay, Tayabas by the 14th Japanese Imperial Army, led by Lieutenant General Masaharu Homma.
By effectively neutralizing U.S. air and naval power in the Philippines, the Japanese gained supremacy that isolated the Philippines from reinforcement and resupply, and provided itself with both airfields for support of its invasion forces and staging bases for further operations in the Netherlands East Indies.
War Plan Orange-3
After securing the beachheads, the Japanese launched a large-scale pincer attack and the three PA divisions assigned to contain the beachhead were pushed back by the invading forces. In the face of this onslaught, the American commander, General Douglas MacArthur, realized that the beachhead defense plan had failed. On 26 December, he notified his commanders that War Plan Orange-3 (WPO-3) was now in effect, thereby reactivating a prewar plan to defend only Bataan and Corregidor in a delaying action. A fighting retreat by units to the Bataan peninsula, whereupon the defending forces, in accordance with WPO-3, would regroup and hold out for six months, at which time the plan assumed (but did not specify) that relief would arrive from the United States. They hoped that with this change in strategy, the Japanese invasion plans might be altered.
The concept of WPO-3 was to delay invading Japanese forces until the U.S. Pacific Fleet could be mustered at full strength and fight its way to the Philippines. At the Bataan peninsula, with its defensive terrain, and backed by artillery from the harbor defenses in Manila Bay and the nearby island fortress of Corregidor, the defenders were expected to hold out until reinforcements arrived. The U.S. Navy had estimated that the Pacific Fleet would need two years to fight its way across the Pacific, but in any case, with the Pacific Fleet having been crippled at Pearl Harbor, no aid would be forthcoming.
Due to MacArthur's decision, with tacit approval from Washington, to change the plan under War Plan Rainbow 5, it was ordered that the entire archipelago would be defended, with the necessary supplies dispersed behind the beachheads for defending forces to use while defending against the landings. With the return to War Plan Orange 3, the necessary supplies to support the defenders for the anticipated six month long defensive position were not available in the necessary quantities for the defenders who would withdraw to Bataan.
Meanwhile, Manuel L. Quezon, the president of the Philippine Commonwealth, together with his family and government staff were evacuated to Corregidor along with MacArthur's USAFFE headquarters on the night of 24 December 1941, while all USAFFE military personnel were removed from the major urban areas. That same day, Manila was declared an open city, and Japanese forces occupied it on 2 January 1942.
The Fighting Retreat
Gen. MacArthur intended to move his men with their equipment and supplies in good order to their defensive positions. He charged the North Luzon Force under Maj. Gen. Jonathan Mayhew Wainwright IV with holding back the main Japanese assault and keeping the road to Bataan open for use by the South Luzon Force of Maj. Gen. George Parker, which proceeded quickly and in remarkably good order, given the chaotic situation. To achieve this, Wainwright deployed his forces in a series of five defensive lines outlined in WPO-3:
- D1 – Aguilar to San Carlos to Urdaneta City,
- D2 – Agno River,
- D3 – Santa Ignacia to Gerona to Guimba to San Jose,
- D4 – Tarlac to Cabanatuan City, and
- D5 – Bamban to Sibul Springs.
When the Japanese invaded the Philippine Islands on 22 December 1941, the untrained Philippine Army troops assigned to beach defense collapsed. After U.S. General Douglas MacArthur had withdrawn his army down the island of Luzon's central plain into the Bataan Peninsula, one last line existed before the Japanese invaders reached the main line of resistance. The Americans would slow the Japanese entry into Bataan by fighting a delaying action at Layac, thus gaining time and deceiving the enemy as to the location of the main defensive positions. For the first time in World War II, American troops faced Japanese soldiers on the ground.
Brigadier General Clyde A. Selleck commanded the Philippine Army's 71st Division and was responsible for establishing the Layac line. Born in 1888, 'Pappy' Selleck was an artilleryman, a West Pointer and a graduate of the Command and General Staff School and the War College. Although the plan for defending Layac was seemingly known to all senior officers in the Philippines, it was not known to Selleck. His short time in the islands—he had arrived on 23 October—the few briefings made on war plans, and a lack of information about the position itself resulted in one of the least knowledgeable officers on Luzon commanding the Layac line.
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (October 2007)|
From 1 to 5 January 1942, as the entire USAFFE converged from south and north, delaying actions were fought to allow the struggling withdrawal to Bataan. The bloodiest fighting occurred at the hastily emplaced Porac-Guagua line, where the 11th Division and 21st Division, respectively led by Brigadier Generals William E. Brougher and Mateo Capinpin with the 26th Cavalry Regiment of Colonel Clinton A. Pierce in reserve, held the line, mostly on open and unprepared ground, against massive aerial and artillery bombardment, strong tank assaults, and infantry banzai attacks by the Takahashi and Tanaka Detachments. Both sides suffered heavy casualties.
Overlooked in this report are the actions of the 23rd infantry regiment of the PA led by Senior Instructor Col Wallace A Mead, USA. The 23rd regiment established the defensive line at porac-pampanga on or about 2 January 1942. Colonel Mead was later awarded the Silver Star for his actions there. The 23rd's defence allowed Capinpin's forces to withdraw and establish new defensive positions. It was Capinpin's recount of the fighting that day that was offered as support for Mead's citation.
WPO-3 called for two defensive lines across Bataan. The first extended across the peninsula from Mauban in the west to Mabatang, Abucay in the east. Gen. Wainwright, commanding the newly-organized I Philippine Corps of 22,500 troops, held the western sector. I Corps included the Philippine Army's 1st Regular, 31st, and 91st Infantry Divisions, the 26th Cavalry (PS)and a battery of field artillery and self-propelled guns. Gen. Parker and the new II Philippine Corps, which included the Philippine Army's 11th, 21st, 41st, and 51st Divisions and the 57th Infantry (PS), and numbered 25,000 men, defended the eastern sector. All of the divisions, understrength at the onset of war, had suffered serious combat losses, particularly to desertions. The U.S. Army's Philippine Division, made up of the 31st Infantry, the 45th Infantry (Philippine Scouts), and supporting units became the Bataan Defense Force Reserve. Mount Natib, a 4,222-foot (1,287 m)-high mountain that split the peninsula, served as the boundary line between the two corps. The commanders anchored their lines on the mountain, but, since they considered the rugged terrain impassable, they did not extend their forces far up its slopes. The two corps were therefore not in direct contact with each other, leaving a serious gap in the defense line. With the fighting withdrawal completed, the Abucay-Mauban line, the USAFFE's main battle position was now finally in place.
On 9 January, Japanese forces under Lt. Gen. Susumu Morioka assaulted the eastern flank of the Abucay-Mauban line, and was repulsed by the 91st Division of BGen. Luther Stevens and Col. George S. Clark's 57th Infantry (PS). On 12 January, amid fierce fighting, 2nd Lt. Alexander R. Nininger, a platoon leader in the 57th Infantry, with uncommon valor, sacrificed his life when, armed with only a rifle and hand grenades, he forced his way into enemy foxholes during hand-to-hand combat, permitting his unit to retake Abucay Hacienda; for his actions he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. Another extreme act of bravery was put forth by a Filipino named Narcisco Ortilano. He was on a water-cooled heavy machine gun when the Japanese burst out of a canebrake in a banzai attack. He shot down dozens of the Japanese with his machine gun, then pulled out his Colt .45 and shot down five more when the machine gun jammed. Then, when one Japanese soldier stabbed at him with a bayonet, he desperately tried to grab the gun, but got his thumb cut off. But he still held on, and then with a sudden burst of adrenaline he turned the gun on the enemy soldier and stabbed him in the chest. When another Japanese soldier swung a bayonet at him, he turned his rifle on the soldier and shot him dead. Narcisco received the Distinguished Service Cross.
Another attack on 14 January at the boundary of positions held by the 41st Division and 51st Divisions of Brigadier Generals Vicente Lim and Albert M. Jones, respectively, aided by the 43rd and Colonel Wallace A Mead's 23rd Infantry, stubbornly refused the Japanese their left flank. The Japanese advanced to the Salian River valley through a gap made by the 51st Infantry's withdrawal. But a patrol discovered the infiltration, and units of the 21st Division rushed to the valley, and repulsed the attackers after a savage encounter.
At another engagement farther to the west, a Japanese force surprised and routed the 53rd Infantry of Col. John R. Boatwright. This force also penetrated deep behind the Abucay-Mauban line along the Abo-Abo river valley. But their advance was held up by combined units of the 21st and 51st Divisions, the 31st Division of BGen. Clifford Bluemel,and Col. John H. Rodman's 92nd Infantry at the Bani-Guirol forest area. The 31st Infantry and the 45th Infantry, Philippine Scouts of Col. Thomas W. Doyle partially restored the abandoned line of the 51st Division.
On 15 January, the reinforced 1st Regular Division of BGen. Fidel Segundo, defending the Morong sector came under heavy bombardment, but held the line. The Japanese penetrated through a huge gap in the Silangan-Natib area, established a roadblock on Mauban ridge, threatening to cut off the division's rear. Repeated attacks by the 91st Division and 71st Division, and 92nd Infantry failed to dislodge the Japanese. The attackers' nightly raids and infiltration tactics became more frequent. Previously, Gen. Parker's II Corps had prevented a similar encirclement at the Salian river battle, but the position of Gen. Wainwright's I Corps was deemed indefensible, and the Abucay-Mauban line had to be abandoned on 22 January.
Battle of Trail 2
Within four days, the Orion-Bagac line was formed. But the defenders had yet to complete their withdrawal to the reserve battle position when the Japanese struck again, through a gap held by I Corps. General Bluemel hastily organized a defense along Trail 2, consisting of 32nd Infantry, 41st Infantry and 51st Division reinforcements, in time to stop a major offensive and plugged the gap.
Battle of the Pockets
The remaining Japanese troops managed to get through, however, and held out at some rear sectors of the Orion-Bagac line at the Tuol River valley behind the 11th Division, and in the Gogo-Cotar River behind the 1st Regular Division. From 23 January to 17 February, coordinated action by the defenders, to eliminate these salients of resistance, became known as the Battle of the Pockets. Fierce fighting marked the action. Capt. Alfredo M. Santos of the 1st Regular Division outmaneuvered and outsmarted the enemy during their attempt to pocket their area. In both attempts, his unit successfully broke through the Gogo-Cotar and Tuol Pockets, thus earning for himself the moniker "hero of the pockets". For his heroic feat in battle, he was promoted to Major in the field. Major Santos was then given the hazardous mission of closing the gaps and annihilating the enemy troops who had infiltrated the lines as the gap posed a serious threat to the positions and the security of the division. With utter disregard for his personal safety, he led a counter-attack against the strong and numerically superior Japanese forces positioned between the MLR and the Regimental Reserve Line (RRL). The fighting began at dawn of 29 January 1942. With dogged determination, the defenders fought assiduously and without pause against all odds to restore the defensive sector assigned to the 1st Regular Division. On 3 February 1942, 1st Lt. Willibald C. Bianchi of the 45th Infantry, Philippine Scouts voluntarily led a reinforced platoon forward against two enemy machine-gun nests, silenced them with grenades, and then manned an antiaircraft machine gun until his wounds disabled him. His Medal of Honor was awarded posthumously. Of the 2,000 Japanese soldiers engaged, only 377 were reported to have escaped.
General Homma on 8 February ordered the suspension of offensive operations in order to reorganize his forces. This could not be carried out immediately, because the 16th Division remained engaged trying to extricate the pocketed 3d Battalion 20th Infantry. With further casualties, the remnants of the 3rd Battalion, 378 officers and men, were extricated on 15 February. On 22 February the 14th Army line was withdrawn a few miles to the north, with USAFFE forces re-occupying positions evacuated by the Japanese.
Battle of the Points
In an attempt to outflank I Corps and isolate the Service Command Area commanded by USAFFE Deputy Commander Brig. Gen. Allan C. McBride, Japanese troops of the 2nd Battalion, 20th Infantry, 16th Division, were landed on the west coast of southern Bataan on the night of 22 January. Intercepted by U.S. PT boat PT-34, two barges were sunk and the rest scattered into two groups, neither of which landed on the objective beach. The Japanese forces were contained on their beachheads by members of Philippine Constabulary units, a hastily organized naval infantry battalion, and by personnel of several U.S. Army Air Corps pursuit squadrons fighting as infantry.
The naval infantry consisted of 150 ground crewmen from Patrol Wing Ten, 80 sailors from the Cavite Naval Ammunition Depot, and 130 sailors from USS Canopus (AS-9) with 120 sailors from the base facilities at Cavite, Olongapo, and Mariveles, and 120 Marines from an antiaircraft battery. Sailors used Canopus machine shop to fabricate makeshift mountings for machine guns salvaged from Patrol Wing Ten's damaged aircraft. The Marines were distributed through the ranks and the sailors were told to "watch them and do as they do." The sailors attempted to make their white uniforms more suitable for jungle combat by dying them with coffee grounds. The result was closer to yellow than khaki, and the diary of a dead Japanese officer described them as a suicide squad dressed in brightly colored uniforms and talking loudly in an attempt to draw our fire and reveal our positions.
Japanese commanders, in an attempt to hold onto their lodgments, reinforced the beachheads piecemeal but could not break out. Battles were fought ferociously against a company-sized group at the Lapay-Longoskawayan points from 23 to 29 January, at the Quinawan-Aglaloma points from 22 January to 8 February, and at the Silalim-Anyasan points from 27 January to 13 February. Out of the 2,000 Japanese troops committed to these battles, only 43 wounded returned to their lines. These engagements were collectively termed the "Battle of the Points".
The Fall of Bataan
On the night of 12 March, General MacArthur, his family, and several USAFFE staff officers left Corregidor for Mindanao aboard four PT boats commanded by Lieutenant Commander John D. Bulkeley. For this and a number of other feats over the course of four months and eight days, Bulkeley was awarded the Medal of Honor, the Navy Cross, the Distinguished Service Cross and other citations.
MacArthur was eventually flown to Australia where he broadcast to the Filipino people his famous "I Shall Return" promise. MacArthur's departure marked the end of the USAFFE and by 22 March, the defending army was renamed United States Forces in the Philippines (USFIP) and Lt. Gen. Jonathan Mayhew Wainwright IV was placed in command.
After the failure of their first attack against Bataan, the Japanese General Headquarters sent strong artillery forces to the Philippines in order to smash the American fortifications. They had 190 artillery pieces, which included bigger guns like 150 mm cannons or the rare Type 96 240 mm field howitzer, with Bataan being its only known campaign. The 1st Artillery Headquarters under Maj. Gen. Kineo Kitajima, who was a known authority on IJA artillery, also moved to the Philippines along with the main forces to command and control these artillery units. Also the Japanese High Command reinforced Gen. Homma's 14th Imperial Army and toward the end of March, the Japanese forces prepared for the final assault.
On 3 April, the entire Orion-Bagac line was subjected to incessant bombings by 100 aircraft and artillery bombardment by 300 artillery pieces from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., which turned the Mount Samat stronghold into an inferno. Thereafter, over the course of the next three days (Good Friday to Easter Sunday, 1942), the Japanese 65th Brigade and 4th Division spearheaded the main attack at the left flank of II Corps. Everywhere along the line, the American and Filipino defenders were driven back by Japanese tanks and infantry.
Based on his two prior attempts, General Homma had estimated that the final offensive would require a week to breach the Orion-Bagac line and a month to liquidate two final defense lines he believed had been prepared on Bataan. When the opening attack required just three days, he pushed his forces on 6 April to meet expected counterattacks headon. The Japanese launched a drive into the center, penetrated into flanks held by the 22nd and 23rd Regiments of the 21st Division, captured Mt. Samat and outflanked all of II Corps. Counterattacks by the U.S. Army and Philippine Scout regulars held in reserve were futile; only the 57th Infantry gained any ground, soon lost.
All along the battle front, units of I Corps together with devastated remnants of II Corps, crumbled and straggled to the rear. The commanders on Bataan lost all contact with their units except by runner in a few instances. In the last two days of the defense of Bataan, the entire Allied defense progressively disintegrated and collapsed, clogging all roads with refugees and fleeing troops. By 8 April, the senior U.S. commander on Bataan, Maj. Gen. Edward P. King, saw the futility of further resistance, and put forth proposals for capitulation.
The next morning, 9 April 1942, Gen. King met with Maj. Gen. Kameichiro Nagano and after several hours of negotiations, the remaining weary, starving and emaciated American and Filipino defenders on the battle-swept Bataan peninsula surrendered.
Radio Broadcast – Voice of Freedom – Malinta Tunnel – Corregidor – 9 April 1942:
|“||Bataan has fallen. The Philippine-American troops on this war-ravaged and bloodstained peninsula have laid down their arms. With heads bloody but unbowed, they have yielded to the superior force and numbers of the enemy.
The world will long remember the epic struggle that Filipino and American soldiers put up in the jungle fastness and along the rugged coast of Bataan. They have stood up uncomplaining under the constant and grueling fire of the enemy for more than three months. Besieged on land and blockaded by sea, cut off from all sources of help in the Philippines and in America, the intrepid fighters have done all that human endurance could bear.
For what sustained them through all these months of incessant battle was a force that was more than merely physical. It was the force of an unconquerable faith—something in the heart and soul that physical hardship and adversity could not destroy! It was the thought of native land and all that it holds most dear, the thought of freedom and dignity and pride in these most priceless of all our human prerogatives.
The adversary, in the pride of his power and triumph, will credit our troops with nothing less than the courage and fortitude that his own troops have shown in battle. Our men have fought a brave and bitterly contested struggle. All the world will testify to the most superhuman endurance with which they stood up until the last in the face of overwhelming odds.
But the decision had to come. Men fighting under the banner of unshakable faith are made of something more than flesh, but they are not made of impervious steel. The flesh must yield at last, endurance melts away, and the end of the battle must come.
Bataan has fallen, but the spirit that made it stand—a beacon to all the liberty-loving peoples of the world—cannot fall!
Outcome and historical significance
The surrender of Bataan would hasten the fall of Corregidor, a month later. However, without this stand, the Japanese might have quickly overrun all of the U.S. bases in the Pacific. Ultimately, more than 60,000 Filipino and 15,000 American prisoners of war were forced into the infamous Bataan Death March. On 7 September 1944 the Japanese ship Shinyo Maru was sunk by USS Paddle; on board the Maru were US POWs of whom 668 died and 82 survived. American and Filipino forces later retook the Bataan peninsula on 17 February 1945.
- Araw ng Kagitingan or Day of Valour. The day Bataan fell into Japanese hands, 9 April, was declared a national holiday in the Philippines. Previously called Bataan Day, the day is now known as Araw ng Kagitingan or Day of Valour, commemorating both the Fall of Bataan (9 April 1942) and the Fall of Corregidor (6 May 1942).
- Dambana ng Kagitingan or Shrine of Valor is a memorial shrine erected on top of Mt. Samat in Pilar, Bataan in the Philippines. The war memorial grounds feature a colonnade that houses an altar, esplanade, and a museum. On the peak of the mountain is the Memorial Cross standing about 311 ft (95 m) high.
- USS Bataan (LHD-5), commissioned on 20 September 1997, the United States Navy Wasp class amphibious assault ship commemorates those who served and sacrificed in the Philippines in the name of freedom in the Pacific.
- USS Bataan (CVL-29), commissioned on 17 November 1943, the United States Navy Independence class aircraft carrier commemorated those who served and sacrificed in the Philippines in the name of freedom in the Pacific until her decommissioning on 9 April 1954.
- Bataan Death March Memorial Monument, erected in April, 2001, is the only monument funded by the US Federal Government dedicated to the victims of the Bataan Death March during World War II. The Memorial was designed and sculpted by Las Cruces artist Kelley Hester and is located in Veterans Park along Roadrunner Parkway in New Mexico.
- Bataan-Corregidor Memorial Bridge is a bascule bridge on State Street in Chicago, Illinois where it crosses the Chicago River. It was built in 1949 and rededicated on 9 April 1998 commemorating not only the Day of Valour but also the centennial of the Declaration of Philippine Independence from Spain in 1898.
In film and television
Among the many films and television programs that feature the story of Bataan are Bataan (1943) starring Robert Taylor, the John Ford classic They Were Expendable (1945), starring Robert Montgomery, John Wayne, and Donna Reed, Back to Bataan (1945) starring Wayne and Anthony Quinn, and two movies about the nurses of Bataan So Proudly We Hail! (1943) and Cry 'Havoc' (1943).
Dozens of documentaries have also featured stories from the Battle of Bataan including Ghosts of Bataan (2005) and an episode of the History Channel series Shootout, entitled Raid on the Bataan Death Camp (2006). Though largely focusing on the Cabanatuan Raid in 1945, this last program also featured stories from the 1942 battle; notably the stand of the 57th Infantry Regiment (PS) at Mabatang.
- Robertson, p. 606.
- Louis Morton. "The Decision To Withdraw to Bataan". U.S. Army Center of Military History. United States Army. Retrieved 22 May 2011.
- None More Courageous – American War Heroes of Today, Stewart H. Holbrook, retrieved 2010-01-14
- Gordon, John IV, Capt. USA "The Navy's Infantry at Bataan" United States Naval Institute Proceedings Supplement March 1985 pp.64–69
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- William L. O'Neill, A Democracy At War: America's Fight At Home and Abroad in World War II, p 115 ISBN 0-02-923678-9
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- Bartsch, William H. (2003). 8 December 1941: MacArthur's Pearl Harbor. College Station, TX, USA: Texas A&M University Press.
- Burton, John (2006). Fortnight of Infamy: The Collapse of Allied Airpower West of Pearl Harbor. US Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-59114-096-X.
- Connaughton, Richard (2001). MacArthur and Defeat in the Philippines. New York: The Overlook Press.
- Mallonee, Richard C. (2003). Battle for Bataan : An Eyewitness Account. I Books. ISBN 0-7434-7450-3.
- Rottman, Gordon L. (2005). Japanese Army in World War II: Conquest of the Pacific 1941–42. Osprey Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84176-789-5.
- Whitman, John W. (1990). Bataan: Our Last Ditch : The Bataan Campaign, 1942. Hippocrene Books. ISBN 0-87052-877-7.
- Young, Donald J. (1992). The Battle of Bataan: A History of the 90 Day Siege and Eventual Surrender of 75,000 Filipino and United States Troops to the Japanese in World War. McFarland & Company. ISBN 0-89950-757-3.
- Morton, Louis (2000 (reissue from 1960)). "Chapter 6: The Decision to Withdraw to Bataan". In Kent Roberts Greenfield. Command Decisions. United States Army Center of Military History. CMH Pub 70-7.
- "Marines in the Defense of the Philippines" Photos and Text
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- Animated History of The Battle of Bataan and Corregidor
- Battle for Bataan
- Info on the Dambana ng Kagitingan Shrine (archived from the original on 13 July 2007).
- Back to Bataan a survivor's story