MY HITCH IN HELL by Lester I. Tenney

MY HITCH IN HELL

The Bataan Death March

KIRKUS REVIEW

 A riveting eyewitness account of the notorious Bataan Death March and of three and a half years in enemy prisoner-of-war camps. Tenney was there on December 8, 1941, when a huge and well- equipped Japanese force invaded the Philippine island of Luzon. After a heroic defense, the American and Filipino soldiers surrendered. In the sadistic march that followed, Japanese soldiers broke all of the rules for humane treatment of prisoners of war. Tenney believes that the Japanese soldiers were seeking revenge for the defenders' stout resistance, the loss of about 20,000 Japanese, and the loss of face of their general. The author notes that the Japanese guards also meant to show their superiority over the Americans before Filipino onlookers by hitting, shoving, and spitting on the starved, sickly prisoners who walked too slowly to the prison camp. In some cases, the Japanese shot, bayoneted, or beheaded Filipino civilians who tried to give food to the Americans. Tenney bitterly remembers the survivors reaching Camp O'Donnell suffering from malaria, dysentery, malnutrition, dehydration, pneumonia, beriberi, or diphtheria. Men were killed in the presence of their comrades in heat of well over 100 degrees. In camp, the author relates, Japanese captors refused medical treatment to American prisoners, who were dying at the rate of 50 or more a day, and to Filipino prisoners, who were dying at the rate of 150 a day. Tenney escaped and joined a guerilla group before being recaptured and returned to Camp O'Donnell, where he was further tortured. Finally sent to Japan, Tenney was set free after the Nagasaki bombing. But he retains a permanent sense of sadness for those who never returned: Of a total of 72,000 who were in the Bataan Death March, only 7,500 survived, and of 12,000 who were Americans, only about 1,500 came home. A grim story of heroic survival.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-02-881125-9
Page count: 256pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 1995




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