NM Times
Military Experience
Pacific Theater

Battle for Bataan Overview

Battle for Bataan is a multimedia presentation about the people, places, and events surrounding the siege of the Bataan Peninsula. From December 8, 1941 until April 9, 1942, American and Filipino forces fought Japanese invaders on the Philippine Island of Luzon in the first ground battle of World War II. This chapter in American history is told through the story of New Mexico's 200th and 515th Coast Artillery units, but their experiences on Bataan were typical of other units, and their history echoes the history of other units: young soldiers from America in a foreign land, defenders of Bataan and Corregidor, prisoners and slaves of the Japanese.

This material is presented on both a CD and a Web site (reta.nmsu.edu/bataan). It includes video clips, written and video oral histories, slide shows, maps, and an interactive slide show maker that draws from an extensive database of photographs, documents, and other items. The material is organized into the following sections:

Military Experience: The story of the Battle for Bataan told through five multi-media pages, each with videos and a slideshow.

The Regiment: History of the 200th Coast Artillery Unit
Siege of Bataan: From August 1941 to Surrender
Survival: The brutality of the Death March and prison camps
Liberation: World War II in the Pacific and the surrender of Japan
Memorial: How do we remember the lessons of Bataan?

Timeline: The Battle for Bataan told through the words of veterans

Artifacts: A collection of hundreds of images and a slideshow maker

Pacific Theater: Maps of World War II in the Pacific

Curriculum Resources: Teaching resources, including lessons, a printable version of the timeline, oral histories, articles, and historical resources.

Why teach Bataan?
In World War II, nations from Europe, America, Australia, and Asia warred across the lands, oceans, and skies of the world. Although the fighting was far from New Mexico, this war touched the lives of most New Mexicans, including families, friends, and members of the 200th and 515th Coast Artillery units from New Mexico. This unit will deepen students' understanding of the people, times, and places involved in New Mexico's contribution to World War II in the Pacific Theater.

World War II involved a complex series of events that occurred in Europe, Pacific Islands, Asia, and North Africa. It is important to understand the time and places in this conflict before beginning the unit. There are several resources in the site that you may use to develop a basic level of background knowledge. See timeline, articles, and artifacts for background.

Battle for Bataan presents complex moral, emotional, and historical material designed to engage students in critical thinking about history, their community, and its place in world events. When supplementing WW II curriculum with Battle for Bataan resources, teachers should examine:

  • What lessons are to be learned through this study?
  • How will multimedia support the learning objectives?
  • What final products will demonstrate the learning objectives?

Educators are constantly challenged to present historical material to students in a relevant way. Battle for Bataan, with its connection to New Mexico history, achieves learning objectives through material that also feeds students' need for relevance to their world. This material encourages students to consider:

  • What was the role of New Mexico in world history during World War II?
  • What was the role of the students' community in World War II?
  • What was the impact of events in the South Pacific on their community?
  • What is the impact of the events in Battle for Bataan on their family?

Handling sensitive content
Battle for Bataan contains graphic material, depicting horrific events. Some language is racist. It is imperative that educators preview all material.

Before beginning the unit, consider reactions students may have when viewing this material. Allow opportunities for classroom discussion. Educators are encouraged to reflect on the following before beginning this unit.

  1. Define learning objectives for the unit.
    Assess objectives at the beginning, middle, and end of the unit to make sure they are being achieved. (All lessons are cross-referenced to New Mexico Content and Performance Standards.)

  2. Discuss the language.
    • Language changes with time and purpose. Once common terms such as Japs and Nips are no longer socially or legally acceptable. Students hearing this language from family or peers and may not be aware of its social and legal ramifications. Such terms are frequently used in the oral histories.
    • Discuss the differences between home, social, and work language.

  3. Allow students to work with unclear, contradictory, emotional primary source material that is colored by personal perception.
    • Information gathered during times of extreme stress, as in the case of material in Battle for Bataan, reflects the views of many individuals. People who experienced an event describe the event based on their perception. Historians discuss and debate interpretation of events. When educators allow students this experience, it deepens their understanding of history.
    • Working with primary source material allows students to develop analytical skills. Structure interaction with primary source material to provide support for unit learning objectives, student interest and reading ability, as well as a variety of sources.
    • Battle for Bataan covers a multitude of events that happened to thousands of people in different places over a period of time. The experience of one person is not a universal experience. For example, not every soldier experienced the Death March. Some were hospitalized, others were sent to Camp O'Donnell in a truck and others were on Corregidor. And for those who did experience the Death March, some walked more than 60 miles while others rode part way in a truck. Discuss with students that while the tendency is to simplify complex historical events with a universal explanation, this is most often not appropriate.

  4. Demand clear citation of sources
    Technology has added an increased depth to studies. With that depth, comes an added responsibility. Students research, create learning products and distribute those products over the Web. Teach your students the difference between personal pages, .com, .net .edu, and.org pages.

  5. Personalize statistics by looking for signs in your community of NM's involvement in Bataan.
    The bibliography is a rich resource for personalizing the experience on Bataan. The grim statistics of this time period are more than just numbers. The numbers represent the grandparents, uncles, cousins, and neighbors of many New Mexicans. Encourage students to conduct oral histories. When students discover personal connections to historical events, they deepen their ability to understand complex issues.

  6. Ensure content is appropriate for age level.
    If presenting this material to middle school students, communicate regularly with parents about the content. Encourage parents to visit the Web site with their children to discuss any issues that arise. Inform parents and students that some pictures, text, and interviews are very graphic due to the nature of the material and may be disturbing to them.

  7. Discuss stereotypes in the material. The Battle for Bataan allows teachers in a variety of disciplines to extend the content with a close examination of social issues. Class discussions may be structured around questions that have no right or wrong answer such as
    • How do stereotypes limit one's experience?
    • What are the basic responsibilities humans have toward one another, regardless of religious beliefs or legal systems?
    • How do moral beliefs differ from legal obligations?
    • Did survivors possess certain qualities such as an optimistic belief system, a religious faith or some other quality?