My late father was a WW2 soldier in the British army(known as Desert Rats) fighting in Egypt.
Vera Lynn undertook concert tours in Burma, Egypt and India for the troops. She remained popular after the war, appearing in movies and on radio & TV. At the age of 92, Vera became the oldest artist ever to top UK music charts with a melody of her famous songs. She outsold outselling both the Arctic Monkeys and the Beatles.
My favourite rock group Pink Floyd even had a track about her in their superb album ‘The Wall’.
Whenever my wife hears anything about Vera Lynn she would burst into song of We’ll meet again
I was not born yet during the second world war, thank God, but my mother was a young girl then. She remembered that all they had in the world was contained in a baol, a wooden chest, that my Lolo – grandfather – used to cart around. Apparently the baol was full of money but it got caught in the fire or something and was lost.
Below is an anecdotal account from my good friend Fred Natividad, who is also a bit of a history buff, of his own experience during the war.
The Battle of Midway and the Days of Hopelessness
In June of 1942, World War II was just six months old but we already had a feeling of hopelessness because we were not aware of an American naval victory at some place called Midway. Just as soon as the Japanese got in control of the Philippines they promptly committed incredible atrocities not just on American and Filipino prisoners of war but also on the general civilian population. On top of that we began to suffer shortages of food, medicines and everything else we normally needed.
That June of 1942 was a few weeks away from my ninth birthday but I do not remember looking forward to some happy celebration. Birthday celebrations were the least of our concerns. And yet I was aware, though vaguely, that anti-Japanese guerrillas were promptly active all over the country. They appeared audacious in the face of the tight grip of Japanese occupation.
Until after the war I did not know about an American army major who was a guerrilla leader in Northern Luzon. He escaped Bataan when it fell to the enemy. This American named Volckman was second in command to U.S. General Brougher when both commanded the Philippine Army’s 11th Division in Bataan. My father was a corporal in that outfit although he never had any personal contact with either officers.
I did not know, too, that while the general population suffered, guerrillas in their secret hideouts might have been optimistic of the eventual return of the Americans. Guerrillas defied the Japanese with sabotage and abduction of suspected and openly declared collaborators. Unfortunately, sometimes guerrilla activities were at the deadly expense of innocent, albeit anti-Japanese, civilians.
It was after the war that I read about positive news of American military activities right after the fall of Bataan and Corregidor and about the escape of General Macarthur to Australia on orders of President Roosevelt even while the Japanese relentlessly besieged Bataan and Corregidor. From postwar readings I learned about subsequent radio contact between guerrillas in the Philippines and General Macarthur’s intelligence service and about American spies getting smuggled into the Philippines by submarine.
One such spy was Colonel Jesus Villamor, a pilot in what awfully passed for a Philippine airforce. He earned military decorations for his exploits over the skies of Manila and environs at the beginning of the war. He escaped from the Philippines but he secretly returned with some Americans by submarine, carrying some limited supplies to guerrillas, many of whom were led by Americans.
I presume now, so many years after the war, that while constantly on guard, or on the run, from the Japanese and their Filipino collaborators, guerrillas were aware of American campaigns led by Admiral Nimitz in the Central Pacific and by General Macarthur in the Southwest Pacific.
Presumably, guerrillas must have been aware of the Army’s Doolittle Raid on Japan itself or the Navy’s Battle of the Coral Sea. They must have been inspired by the Battle of Midway on June 4, 1942, just a mere six months after the infamous Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. At Midway the Japanese lost 3,000-odd lives. American casualties were only about 10 percent of that. This U.S. naval victory appeared to be the beginning of the end of the once formidable Japanese Navy.
Presumably, guerrillas in the Philippines may have been aware of what happened at Midway and elsewhere – at New Guinea, Tarawa, Guadalcanal… Their radio communication with the outside world may have contributed to their stubborn audacity while the generally uninformed population languished in seeming hopelessness. After all it will still be another three years after the Battle of Midway before the Americans came to liberate the Philippines.
Japanese occupation began to fall apart on October 20, 1944, when General MacArthur announced his triumphant return to the Philippines on the shores of Leyte Gulf while Admiral Nimitz and his Navy continued to decimate what was once an invincible Japanese Navy.
and kindly join us in an online petition urging the members of the U.S. Senate & House of Representatives to co-sponsor S.2004 introduced by Sen Tom Udall on December 15, 2011 and H.R. 3712 introduced by Rep Heinrich on December 16, 2011 that seek to grant the Congressional Gold Medal to the troops who defended Bataan during World War II.
S.2004 — To grant the Congressional Gold Medal to the troops who defended Bataan during World War II.
(Introduced in Senate – IS)
112th CONGRESS 1st Session IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES
December 15, 2011
Mr. UDALL of New Mexico (for himself, Mr. BINGAMAN, Mr. INOUYE, and Ms. LANDRIEU) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs
A BILL To grant the Congressional Gold Medal to the troops who defended Bataan during World War II.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. FINDINGS.
Congress makes the following findings:
(1) Within hours after the attacks on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, the Imperial Japanese forces launched an attack on the Philippines, cutting off vital lines of communication to United States and Filipino troops assigned to the United States Army Forces in the Far East under the command of General Douglas MacArthur.
(2) On December 8th, 1941, the 200th Coast Artillery Regiment, successors to the New Mexico National Guardsmen who made up part of the famed `Rough Riders’ of the Spanish-American War, were the `first to fire’.
(3) Despite being cut off from supply lines and reinforcements, the United States and Philippine Forces quickly executed a plan to delay the Japanese invasion and defend the Philippines against the Japanese invasion.
(4) By April 1942, troops from the United States and the Philippines had bravely and staunchly fought off enemy attacks in Bataan for more than 4 months under strenuous conditions that resulted in widespread starvation and disease.
(5) By maintaining their position and engaging the enemy for as long as they did, the troops at Bataan were able to redefine the momentum of the war, delaying the Japanese timetable to take control of the southeast Pacific for needed war materials. Because of the Bataan defenders’ heroic actions, United States and Allied forces throughout the Pacific had time to regroup and prepare for the successful liberation of the Pacific and the Philippines.
(6) On April 9, 1942, Major General Edward King, his troops suffering from starvation and a lack of supplies, surrendered the soldiers from the United States and the Philippines into enemy hands.
(7) Over the next week, troops from the United States and the Philippines were taken prisoner and forced to march 65 miles without any food, water, or medical care in what came to be known as the `Bataan Death March’.
(8) During this forced march, thousands of soldiers died, either from starvation, lack of medical care, sheer exhaustion, or abuse by their captors.
(9) Conditions at the prisoner of war camps were appalling, leading to increased disease and malnutrition among the prisoners.
(10) The prisoners at Camp O’Donnell would die at a rate of nearly 400 per day because of its poor conditions.
(11) On June 6, 1942, the prisoners from the United States were transferred to Camp Cabanatuan, north of Camp O’Donnell.
(12) Nearly 26,000 of the 50,000 Filipino Prisoners of War died at Camp O’Donnell, and survivors were gradually paroled from September through December 1942.
(13) Between September of 1942 and December of 1944, American prisoners of war who survived the horrific death march were shipped north for forced labor aboard `hell ships’ and succumbed in great numbers because of the abysmal conditions. Many of the ships were mistakenly targeted by allied Naval forces because the Japanese military convoys were not properly labeled as carrying prisoners of war. The sinking of the Arisan Maru alone, claimed nearly 1,800 American lives.
(14) The prisoners who remained in the camps suffered from continued mistreatment, malnutrition, lack of medical care, and horrific conditions until they were liberated in 1945.
(15) The veterans of Bataan represented the best of America and the Philippines. They hailed from diverse locales across both countries and represented a true diversity of Americans.
(16) Over the subsequent decades, these prisoners formed support groups, were honored in local and State memorials, and told their story to all people of the United States.
(17) The United States Navy has continued to honor their history and stories by naming 2 ships after the battle including 1 ship still in service, USS Bataan (LHD-5), in memory of their valor and honorable resistance against Imperial Japanese forces.
(18) Many of the survivors of Bataan have now passed away, and those who remain continue to tell their story.
(19) The people of the United States and the Philippines are forever indebted to these men for–
(A) the courage and tenacity they demonstrated during the first 4 months of World War II fighting against enemy soldiers; and
(B) the perseverance they demonstrated during 3 years of capture, imprisonment, and atrocious conditions, while maintaining dignity, honor, patriotism, and loyalty.
SEC. 2. CONGRESSIONAL GOLD MEDAL.
(a) Award Authorized- The Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President pro tempore of the Senate shall make appropriate arrangements for the award, on behalf of the Congress, of a single gold medal of appropriate design in honor of the troops from the United States and the Philippines who defended Bataan and were subsequently prisoners of war, collectively, in recognition of their personal sacrifice and service to their country during World War II.
(b) Design and Striking- For purposes of the award under subsection (a), the Secretary of the Treasury (hereafter in this Act referred to as the `Secretary’) shall strike the gold medal with suitable emblems, devices, and inscriptions, to be determined by the Secretary.
(c) Smithsonian Institution-
(1) IN GENERAL- Following the award of the gold medal in honor of the defenders and prisoners of war at Bataan under subsection (a), the gold medal shall be given to the Smithsonian Institution, where it shall be displayed as appropriate and made available for research.
(2) SENSE OF THE CONGRESS- It is the sense of the Congress that the Smithsonian Institution should make the gold medal received under paragraph (1) available for display at other locations, particularly such locations as are associated with the prisoners of war at Bataan.
SEC. 3. DUPLICATE MEDALS.
(a) Striking of Duplicates- Under such regulations as the Secretary may prescribe, the Secretary may strike duplicates in bronze of the gold medal struck under section 2.
(b) Selling of Duplicates- The Secretary may sell such duplicates under subsection (a) at a price sufficient to cover the costs of such duplicates, including labor, materials, dies, use of machinery, and overhead expenses.
SEC. 4. NATIONAL MEDALS.
Medals struck pursuant to this Act are National medals for purposes of chapter 51 of title 31, United States Code.
SEC. 5. AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS; PROCEEDS OF SALE.
(a) Authorization of Appropriations- There is authorized to be charged against the United States Mint Public Enterprise Fund, an amount not to exceed $30,000 to pay for the cost of the medal authorized under section 2.
(b) Proceeds of Sale- Amounts received from the sale of duplicate bronze medals under section 3 shall be deposited in the United States Mint Public Enterprise Fund.
H.R.3712 — To grant the Congressional Gold Medal to the troops who defended Bataan during World War II.
(Introduced in House – IH)
HR 3712 IH 112th CONGRESS 1st Session
To grant the Congressional Gold Medal to the troops who defended Bataan during World War II.
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
December 16, 2011
Mr. HEINRICH (for himself, Mr. LUJAN, and Mr. PEARCE) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Financial Services, and in addition to the Committee on House Administration, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned