Camp O'Donnel

Courtesy of the National Archives: Camp O'Donnell - Philippines, May 1942

Inside Camp O'Donnell, the men were crowded beyond belief; each water faucet was shared by 1,500 men and a single rat was a meal for 20. The only way to survive was to get food. And that meant stealing it from the Japanese…or each other.
        The sick and weak were not cared for; they were left to die. The only medics were those who had been captured, but they had no medicine to give. The "hospital" was where people were sent to die. Instead of increasing rations in the hospital, they were cut in half. Men worked with 106° fevers so that they wouldn’t be admitted. You could smell the stench of the dead whenever you were anywhere near the hospital. It seemed that dying was the only way out. Over 50 Americans and 500 Filipinos died each day.
        For some, escape was the answer, but the prisoners guarded each other closely. For each escapee, ten prisoners were killed. Those thought to have important information were tortured in and put in dark, underground prisons. Victims lay in their cells, unable to escape the screams of other prisoners, and hoped that they would be forgotten about.

"If you stopped living minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day, thinking only about survival, you had no chance. These valiant career soldiers have set an example of survival that will be forever memorialized. Bataan was truly a hell on earth.

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