WW2 Bataan fighting recalled

By Ben Cal

April 5, 2019, 9:05 pm

MANILA – On this day, April 5, 1942, four days prior to the fall of Bataan, Filipino and American forces established a “hasty defense line” amidst a hail of Japanese artillery fire and despite being exhausted due to hunger and lack of sleep.

This is contained in the book “150 Days of Hell” authored by retired Constabulary Col. Jose V. Agdamag, Jr., who fought in Bataan in the Second World War, and assisted by his son, retired Navy Capt. Vicente M. Agdamag.

The elder Agdamag described in his diary the heroism of the Filipino and American forces in defending Bataan, although they were outnumbered and outgunned during the wave of offensives launched by the Japanese.

The Japanese used warplanes and artillery to the hilt against the joint Filipino and American forces, who made their last stand in Bataan before they surrendered on April 9, 1942.

Col. Adamag said that “On 5 April 1942, Day 119 of the invasion, “we established hasty defense line. At this time, the morale of my men was low. Food was scarce. Food was served only once a day. Boiled rice (lugaw) with salt was the food for the day”.

He said that for the past three days, the Japanese forces sustained their offensive.

“In the morning, at around 0700-1000, they (Japanese) conducted preparatory fires for effect….hitting front line troops,” Agdamag recalled.

He said that for one hour, there was a lull in the artillery bombardment, only to continue at 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“The Japanese had selected targets like concentration of troops on the first defensive line, our own artillery pieces in our rear areas and our communication system,” Adamag added.

Filipino and American defenders tried in vain to ward off the attack, but the Japanese offensive was so intense that “every day, we were retreating a minimum distance of 300 meters from our original defensive line,” he wrote.

Adamag said the book "150 Days in Hell" is a "stunning presentation of the experiences of my father and the more than 100,000 Filipino and American personnel in the Philippines during the war. It was a sad and gruesome experience. I hope it will never again happen on our treasured soil.”

After Bataan fell, thousands of Filipinos and Americans were held prisoners of war and were forced to walk in the infamous “Death March” from Mariveles, Bataan to San Fernando, Pampanga, a distance of over 100 kilometers without food and water, and those who could not walk were bayoneted to death.

The book is a must read for all Filipinos and Americans to remember the ultimate sacrifice and patriotism of the brave soldiers of the two nations in defense of freedom and democracy. (PNA)