Curtis Johnson Memorial
Private Curtis Coleman Johnson
Serial # 35105280
Company E 31st Infantry
Birth date March 15, 1923
Home address at entry: Forks of Elkhorn, Kentucky
Enlisted September 26, 1941
Died June 12, 1942 in the prisoner of war Camp O’Donnell as a result of Dysentery.
Bataan Philippines
Very little is known about Curtis Johnson's (my uncle) tour of duty while stationed in the Philippines during the beginning of the Second World War. What is known, is that he survived the fierce fighting against the out numbering Japanese forces during the Battle of Bataan. When Bataan fell, he, along with 70,000 U.S servicemen and Filipinos surrendered, only to be subjected to one of the most horrific crimes of the war...

"The Bataan Death March (also known as The Death March of Bataan) took place in the Philippines in 1942 and was later accounted as a Japanese war crime. The 60-mile (97 km) march occurred after the three-month Battle of Bataan, part of the Battle of the Philippines, during World War II.

The march, involving the forcible transfer of 75,000 American and Filipino prisoners of war captured by the Japanese in the Philippines from the Bataan peninsula to prison camps, was characterized by wide-ranging physical abuse and murder, and resulted in very high fatalities inflicted upon the prisoners and civilians along the route by the armed forces of the Empire of Japan. Beheadings, cutting of throats and casual shootings were the more common actions—compared to instances of bayonet stabbing, rape, disembowelment, rifle butt beating and a deliberate refusal to allow the prisoners food or water while keeping them continually marching for nearly a week in tropical heat. Falling down or inability to continue moving was tantamount to a death sentence, as was any degree of protest or expression of displeasure. Route of the death march. Section from San Fernando to Capas was by rail.

Prisoners were attacked for assisting someone failing due to weakness, or for no apparent reason whatsoever. Strings of Japanese trucks were known to drive over anyone who fell. Riders in vehicles would casually stick out a rifle bayonet and cut a string of throats in the lines of men marching alongside the road. Accounts of being forcibly marched for five to six days with no food and a single sip of water are in postwar archives including filmed reports.

The exact death count has been impossible to determine, but some historians have placed the minimum death toll between six and eleven thousand men; whereas other postwar Allied reports have tabulated that only 54,000 of the 72,000 prisoners reached their destination—taken together, the figures document a casual killing rate of one in four up to two in seven (25% to 28.6%) of those brutalized by the forcible march. The number of deaths that took place in the internment camps from delayed effects of the march is uncertain, but believed to be high."

There is a monument located in the Capas National Shrine, in Capas, Tarlac, Philippines, for the U.S. Servicemen who died at Camp O'Donnell, between April 24 to June 12, 1942 camp.
Read the "Outline of Events" to get the overall picture of the Defenders of Bataan.
More Links
U.S. Army in World War II

...during their occupation of China, the Japanese killed at least fifteen million Chinese soldiers and civilians.
Nanking Massacre: the Forgotten Holocaust

I'm always looking for someone that was in the 31st Infantry Company E that survived Bataan who can tell me something about my uncle who I never had the chance to know.


jsj@tivanet.com