By Hampton Sides
Published by Little Brown and Company, 2001
Soft cover, 150mm x 235mm, 342 pages, foxed pages
Used – solid reading copy
For the American soldiers surrendering on the Phillipine Peninsula of Bataan in April 1942, their war was just beginning. Forced to march through some seventy five miles of miasmal swamps, they died of disease, water deprivation and brutality at a rate of five hundred a day. Those who slrvived the ‘Bataan Death March’ were sent to languish in prison camps, the largest and most deathly of which was Cabanatuan.
By 1945, with the able-bodied prisoners shipped to work in Japan, its population had dwindled to the sickest and weakest; the ghosts of Bataan.
To rescue them involved travelling deep behind enemy lines, trekking thirty miles through jungle and swamps into an area infested with troops. It was a challenge that fell to Lt Colonel Henry A Mucci, commanding officer of the 6th Ranger battalion. When Mucci announced the plan to his troops, the risks were such that he wanted only volunteers. He said ‘I only want men who feel lucky’