“The hours dragged by and, as we knew they must. The drop-outs began. It seemed that a great many of the prisoners reached the end of their endurance at about the same time. They went down by twos and threes. Usually, they made an effort to rise. I never can forget their groans and strangled breathing as they tried to get up. Some succeeded. Others lay lifelessly where they had fallen.
I observed that the Japanese guards paid no attention to these. I wondered why. The explanation wasn’t long in coming. There was a sharp crackle of pistol and rifle fire behind us.
Skulking along, a hundred yards behind our contingent, came a ‘clean-up squad’ of murdering Japanese buzzards. Their helpless victims, sprawled darkly against the white, of the road, were easy targets.
As members of the murder squad stooped over each huddled form, there would be an orange ‘flash’ in the darkness and a sharp report. The bodies were left where they lay, that other prisoners coming behind us might see them.
Our Japanese guards enjoyed the spectacle in silence for a time. Eventually, one of them who spoke English felt he should add a little spice to the entertainment.
‘Sleepee?’ he asked. ‘You want sleep? Just lie down on road. You get good long sleep!’
On through the night we were followed by orange flashes and thudding sounds.”
– Captain William Dyess, Bataan Death March. 1942.
As we always say here at Battles and Beers (TM) Every soldier has a story, and every story deserves to be told.