Photograph of rescued POWs at Cabanatuan

National Archives. Via

Cabanatuan (120.98E 15.49N) was the location of an important supply depot when war broke out in the Pacific. There was also a small airstrip. The warehouses contained 4500 tons of rice, 3.4 million gallons of gasoline, and 500,000 artillery rounds. In the confusion resulting from MacArthur's decision to retreat into the Bataan Peninsula following the failure of his forward defense plan, almost none of these precious supplies made it into Bataan.

The Great Raid. Following the fall of the Philippines to the Japanese, Cabanatuan became a prisoner of war camp. MacArthur, rightly fearing that the Japanese had plans to slaughter surviving POWs to eliminate them as witnesses to war crimes, ordered 6 Ranger Battalion to rescue the prisoners. The raid took place beginning on 27 January 1945 and was assisted by local guerrillas and Alamo Scouts. Some 512 prisoners were successfully rescued from deep behind Japanese lines in spite of interference by the Communist Hukbalahap. One Ranger, 26 guerrillas, and all 225 Japanese guards at the camp were killed.

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