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ILLINOIS STATE ARCHIVES


Illinois at War, 1941-1945

A Selection of Documents from the Illinois State Archives


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DOCUMENT 30
COMMUNICATION FROM MRS. WILLIAM VAN PROYEN CONCERNING AMERICAN POWS IN THE PHILIPPINES
November 23, 1943



Explanation

Combined American and Philippine armies surrendered the Bataan Peninsula on Luzon Island to the Japanese invaders on April 9, 1942 after four months of fierce fighting. In that action Company B of the 192nd Tank Battalion was composed of members of the Illinois National Guard who had been activated in early 1941 to strengthen U.S. forces in Southeast Asia. Company B had been based at Maywood, Illinois which is located in west central Cook County, ten miles southeast of Addison. Company B included 125 officers and enlisted men.

General George C. Marshall, Chief of Staff of the War Department, wrote Illinois Governor Dwight H. Green on May 11, 1942 in part as follows.

I wish to report to you that Company B rendered distinguished service throughout
the campaign from the commencement of hostilities until the fall of Bataan. Our
forces had relatively few tanks, but they were employed with great skill and were
manned by soldiers of rare courage. The service to the country rendered by this
Illinois National Guard unit was an important factor in the epic struggle in the
Philippines. Their stubborn resistance in the face of overwhelming odds is an
assurance of the final victory.

The War Department has felt that probably the most convincing evidence of the
determination of our people has been the courage and fortitude with which the
relatives of these men have endured the tragic uncertainty as to the fate of their
sons and husbands on Bataan

Lt. General Masaharu Homma commanded the Japanese conquest of the Philippine Islands. As a consequence of his brutal treatment of Allied prisoners of war he was tried for crimes against humanity in Manila after the Japanese surrender and was subsequently executed.

Points to Consider

Explain American and Philippine action in the defense of Bataan.

Who were the "disloyal Japs" at Camp Tule Lake, California referred to in this letter?

Why was Mrs. William Van Proyen writing Governor Green on behalf of her brother and thousands of other American prisoners of the Japanese?

How could the governor of Illinois have influenced the Japanese regarding their treatment of American prisoners?

See Related Document: 31


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