© Bataan Corregidor Memorial Foundation of New Mexico, Inc.

A 501-(c)-3 corporation.

Best viewed with IE 6.0+. Enable Java Script and allow Pop-ups.

Slide Show: Atrocities Described & Reaction to Release of Report


Click Here



To prevent rescue of prisoners of war by the advancing allies, on 14 December 1944, Japanese guards herded the remaining 150 POWs at Puerto Princesa, Palawan Island, into three covered trenches used as air raid shelters which were then set on fire. As prisoners tried to escape the flames they were bayoneted or shot down. Some escaped by going over a cliff that ran along one side of the trenches, but were later hunted down and killed.


Only 11 men would escape the slaughter, including PFC Alberto Pacheco of the 200th Coast Artillery.


Among the dead were five other members of the 200th: Pvt. José E. T. Mascareñas, Pvt. Trinidad F. Otero, Pvt. Santiago S. Saiz, Sgt. Henry F. Scally, and Sgt. Charles A. Schubert.




Report of Atrocities against Filipino Citizens: “Jap Atrocity Killings Were Battle Orders”


Click Here

Story of Atrocities by Japs on Hapless Prisoners is released by the U.S.; Deliberate Starvation, Torture, Death


WASHINGTON, D.C. (AP) — JAN. 28, 1944 — A pent-up story of atrocities perpetrated by the Japanese army on the captured heroes of Bataan and Corregidor was released by the United States government today in sickening detail.

A joint report by the Army and Navy broke at last the rigid censorship maintained by the high command on the almost unbelievable reports that came out of the Pacific, to tell what happened to the men whose valor slowed the tide of Japanese conquest.


A Tale of Torture


Compiled from the sworn statements of officers who survived the starvation and torture and escaped, it catalogued the infamy of a brutal enemy, and wrote in shocking terms the code of the Japanese warrior — to subject 36,000 gallant soldiers to deliberate starvation, to shoot in cold blood the thirsty who seek water, to watch sick men writhe and deny them medicine, to horsewhip those who help their fallen comrades, to beat men with two-by-fours, to behead those who try to escape, and to bury tortured men alive.

The three who lived to return and tell of the agony they endured were Commander Melvyn H. McCoy, USN, of Indianapolis, Lt. Col. S. M. Mellnik, Coast Artillery Corps of Dunmore, Pa., and Lt. Col. William E. Dyess, Air Corps, of Albany, Tex. Dyess is dead—killed in a fighter plane crash at Burbank, Calif., recently while preparing to return to duty in the Pacific. Mellnik is with Gen. Douglas MacArthur in the Southwest Pacific, McCoy on duty in the United States.


Statements Verified


“Their sworn statements included no hearsay whatever, but only facts which the officers related from their own personal experience and observations,” said the official report.

The statements have been verified from other sources.

The three officers stated that several times as many American prisoners of war have died, mostly of starvation, forced hard labor, and general brutality, as the Japanese have ever reported.

At one prison camp, Camp O’Donnell, about 2,200 American prisoners died in April and May 1942. In the camp at Cabanatuan, about 3,000 Americans had died up to the end of October 1942. Still heavier mortality occurred among the Filipino prisoners of war at Camp O’Donnell.


The March of Death


The calculated campaign of brutality began as soon as the exhausted American and Filipino soldiers on Bataan collapsed under the overwhelming weight of the enemy assault. What was in store for them was to begin with “the march of death” — and Dyess reported that, beaten and hopeless as they were, they never would have surrendered if they had guessed what lay ahead.

Thousands of prisoners were herded together on the Mariveles airfield at daylight April 10, within earshot of the still defiant guns of Corregidor. Some had food, but were not permitted to eat. All were searched, their personal belongings seized. Those with Japanese money or tokens were beheaded.

Then, in groups of 500 to 1,000 they began the terrible six-day march, along the national road of Bataan toward San Fernando in Pampanga province, the “march of death” so hideous that it would make the black hole of Calcutta sound like a haven of refuge.

A Japanese soldier took Dyess’ canteen, gave the water to a horse, threw the canteen away. In a broiling sun, the prisoners were herded through clouds of dust. Men recently killed lay along the road, their bodies flattened by Japanese trucks. Patients bombed out of a field hospital were pushed into the marching column. At midnight the entire group was penned in an enclosure too narrow to allow any of them to lie down. They had no water — a Japanese officer finally permitted them to drink at a dirty carabao wallow.

Before daylight the next day the March was resumed. Still no food for any of them. — water at noon from a dirty roadside stream. Another bullpen at night. When exhausted men fell out moaning, no one was allowed to help — those who still marched heard shots behind them.


The Sun Treatment


On the third day “we were introduced to a form of torture which came to be known as the sun treatment. We were made to sit in the boiling sun all day without cover. We had very little water; our thirst was intense. Many of us went crazy and several died.

“Three Filipino and three American soldiers were buried while still alive.”


Photos at right - top row left to right: LtCOL S. M. Mellnik; Cmdr. Melvyn H. McCoy; LtCOL William Dyess. Middle row left to right: MAJ Austin C. Shofner; CAPT L. A. Boelens; SGT R. B. Spielman. Bottom row left to right: MAJ Jack Hawkins; CAPT Samuel Grashio; and MAJ Michiel Dobervich.


Also see:TEN ESCAPE FROM TOJO” by Commander Melvyn H. McCoy, USN, and Lieutenant Colonel S. M. Mellnik, USA, as told to Lieutenant Welbour Kelley, USNR, on the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum web site.


Death for Water


“Along the road in the province of Pampanga there are many wells. Half-crazed with thirst, six Filipino soldiers made a dash for one of the wells. All six were killed. As we passed Lubao we marched by a Filipino soldier gutted and hanging over a barbed-wire fence.

“Before daylight on April 15 we marched out and 115 of us were packed into a small narrow-gauge box car. The doors were closed and locked. Movement was impossible. Many of the prisoners were suffering from diarrhea and dysentery. The heat and stench were unbearable.

“At Capas Tarlac we were taken out and given the sun treatment for three hours. Then we were marched to Camp O’Donnell.

“I made that march of about 85 miles in six days on one mess kit of rice. Other Americans made ‘the march of death’ in 12 days without any food whatever.”

The prisoners taken at Corregidor did not experience that march, but 7,000 Americans and 5,000 Filipinos were packed for a week with no food on a concrete pavement 100 yards square. There was one water spigot for the 12,000 — the average wait to fill a canteen was 12 hours. They got their first food — a mess kit of rice and a can of sardines — after seven days.


6 to 10 Hours for Water


At Camp O’Donnell there were virtually no water facilities. Prisoners stood in line 6 to 10 hours to get a drink. Clothing went unchanged a month and a half. The principal food was rice, varied twice in two months with enough meat to give one-fourth of the men a piece an inch square. A few times there were comotes, a type of sweet potato, but many were rotten and the prisoners themselves had to post a guard to keep their starving comrades from devouring the rotten vegetables. There was an occasional dab of coconut lard, a little flour, a few mango beans. But there was a black market — those who had money could buy from the Japanese a small can of fish for $5.

There was a hospital — a dilapidated building with no facilities, no medicine. Hundreds lay on the bare floor without cover. The doctors did not even have water to wash the human filth from their patients. After one week, the death rate was 20 Americans a day, 150 Filipinos; after two weeks, 50 and 500 respectively. The sick as well as the merely starving were forced into work gangs, and worked until they dropped dead.


Water Here


About June 1, the Americans were removed from Camp O’Donnell to Cabanatuan, where Dyess joined Mellnik and McCoy, who had come in from Corregidor. Conditions there were a little better. There was adequate drinking water, it was possible to bathe in muddy water; but the diet did not improve. And the brutality continued — men were beaten with shovels and golf clubs, “men were literally worked to death.”

Three officers who tried to escape were caught, stripped to their shorts, their hands tied behind them and pulled up by ropes fastened overhead, and kept in this position in the blazing sun for two days; periodically the Japs beat them with a two-by-four; finally one was beheaded and the others shot. By Oct. 26, when Dyess, McCoy and Mellnik left Cabanatuan, 3,000 of the American prisoners had died.


Red Cross Salvation


The three officers were taken with 966 other prisoners, to a penal camp at Davao, Mindanao and put to hard labor. Food was slightly better there, but “the salvation of the American prisoners of war,” Dyess reported, was the American and British Red Cross supplies, both clothing and food, that finally began to arrive months late. The beatings, the murder, the studied mistreatment and humiliation continued. By April 1943, there were 1,100 of the 2,000 prisoners at Davao still able to work.

This was the life from which McCoy, Dyess and Mellnik escaped April 4, 1943. The account is based solely on their official reports, but the Army and Navy said at least four others were known to have escaped from the Philippines — Majors Michiel Dobervitch, Ironton, Minn., Austin C. Shoffner, Shelbyville, Tenn., Jack Hawkins, Roxton, Tex., and Corp. Reid Carlos Chamberlain, El Cajone, Calif., all of the Marine Corps.