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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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