In the midst of a triumphal Japan marching across the Pacific in the early days of 1942, they stood tall, proud, and cared for over 27,000 American military prisoners of war in undersupplied internment camps. These heroes were 77 American nurses and one nurse-anesthetist from the United States Army Nurse Corps, and the United States Navy Nurse Corps deployed to the Philippines – otherwise known as the “Angels of Bataan.”
Why were they the Angels of Bataan? Besides being prisoners of war themselves, they fought through years of starvation and maltreatment while nursing thousands of soldiers after the Fall of Manila and the Fall of Bataan from 1941 to 1945.
Military nurses don’t get enough credit for their work during the war, so let’s give their story some measure of the attention it deserves.
Nurses During The Fall of the Philippines
Japan had started the Philippine conquest from Formosa, landing in Batan Island on December 8, 1941. This would be the start of one of the worst military defeats of the US as the US Armed Forces in the Philippines at that time outnumbered the Japanese Forces by 3:2. Estimates as high as 23,000 American and 100,000 Filipino soldiers were killed or captured despite the numbers advantage.