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Bataan - Forced Surrender Photograph

Bataan - Forced Surrender Photograph American History Social Studies World History World War II Tragedies and Triumphs

Image of a photograph depicting a scene at Bataan following the forced surrender to the Japanese army.

Exhausted men who had insufficient supplies and weapons to resist Japan's assault on the Bataan Peninsula had no choice but to surrender.

General Wainwright did not realize that his men were planning to raise a white flag.  We learn about the background of this photo - depicting a group of surrendered Americans - from an official military history entitled The Fall of the Philippines:

On Corregidor General Wainwright spent the night in ignorance of these events.  At 0300 he spoke to King on the telephone but King did not mention his decision to surrender.  It was only three hours later, at 0600, that General Wainwright learned from his assistant operations officer, Lt. Col. Jesse T. Traywick, Jr., that General King had sent an officer to the Japanese to arrange terms for the cessation of hostilities.  Shocked, he shouted to Traywick, "Go back and tell him not to do it."

But it was too late. Williams and Hurt were already on their way to meet Nagano and General King could not be reached by telephone or radio.  Regretfully General Wainwright wrote to MacArthur:

At 6 o'clock this morning General King . . . without my knowledge or approval sent a flag of truce to the Japanese commander.  The minute I heard of it I disapproved of his action and directed that there would be no surrender.  I was informed it was too late to make any change, that the action had already been taken. . . . Physical exhaustion and sickness due to a long period of insufficient food is the real cause of this terrible disaster.  When I get word what terms have been arranged I will advise you.

For General King, Wainwright had no criticism. "It has never been and is not my intention to reflect upon General King," he later told MacArthur, "as the decision which he was forced to make required unusual courage and strength of character."

Soon he would be forced to make the same decision.

Given the lack of supplies - which the U.S. government had been unable to give to troops in the Philippines - surrender became the only option for these officers and their men.


Media Credits

Photo from The Fall of the Philippines, by Louis Morton. Image online, courtesy the ibiblio.org website (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill).

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To cite this story (For MLA citation guidance see easybib or OWL ):

"Bataan - Forced Surrender Photograph" AwesomeStories.com. Oct 07, 2013. Oct 22, 2017.
       <https://www.awesomestories.com/asset/view/Bataan-Forced-Surrender-Photograph/1>.
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