This Day In History: Lt. Gen. Wainwright Gets Freed From WW2 POW Camp
On this day in history, 1945, Lt. General Jonathan Wainwright was freed by Russian forces from a POW camp in Manchuria.
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During World War II Wainwright served as the Senior Field Commander of Filipino and US forces under General Douglas MacArthur and was responsible for pushing back advancing Japanese forces into the Philippines.
Wainwright commanded the North Luzon Force beginning in December 1941.
President Roosevelt transferred MacArthur to Australia and Wainwright was promoted to temporary lieutenant general and given command of all Philippine forces.
In April, 70,000 troops from Bataan surrendered under the command of Major General Edward King. The next target for the Japanese was the fortified garrison at Corregidor.
The troops withstood a full month with heavy artillery fire, but Wainwright and his 13,000 troops surrendered on May 6.
Wainwright was taken prisoner and was held in POW camps in Luzon, Philippines, Formosa (now Taiwan), and Manchuria. He was the highest ranking American POW.
The Russian Red Army liberated the camp that Wainwright was being held in, in 1945 after Japan surrendered.
For the three and a half years he spent as a POW, he became very malnourished and his hair turned white.
Wainwright had a difficult time coping with surrendering to the Japanese in 1942 and became depressed because he felt that he had failed his country.
Upon returning to America, he was recognized as a war hero and was promoted to full general and awarded the Medal of Honor.