Senior U.S. POW is released
On this day in 1945, Lt. Gen. Jonathan Wainwright, (captured by the Japanese on the island of Corregidor, in the Philippines), is freed by Russian forces from a POW camp in Manchuria, China.
When President Franklin Roosevelt transferred Gen. Douglas MacArthur from his command in the Philippines to Australia in March 1942, Maj. Gen. Wainwright, until then under MacArthur’s command, was promoted to temporary lieutenant general and given command of all Philippine forces. His first major strategic decision was to move his troops to the fortified garrison at Corregidor. When Bataan was taken by the Japanese, and the infamous Bataan “Death March” of captured Allies was underway, Corredigor became the next battle ground. Wainwright and his 13,000 troops held out for a month despite heavy artillery fire. Finally, Wainwright and his troops, already exhausted, surrendered on May 6.
The irony of Wainwright’s promotion was that as commander of all Allied forces in the Philippines, his surrender meant the surrender of troops still holding out against the Japanese in other parts of the Philippines. Wainwright was taken prisoner, spending the next three and a half years as a POW in Luzon, Philippines, Formosa (now Taiwan), and Manchuria, China. Upon Japan’s surrender, Russian forces in Manchuria liberated the POW camp in which Wainwright was being held.
The years of captivity took its toll on the general. The man who had been nicknamed “Skinny” was now emaciated. His hair had turned white, and his skin was cracked and fragile. He was also depressed, believing he would be blamed for the loss of the Philippines to the Japanese.
When Wainwright arrived in Yokohama, Japan, to attend the formal surrender ceremony, Gen. MacArthur, his former commander, was stunned at his appearance-literally unable to eat and sleep for a day.
Wainwright was given a hero’s welcome upon returning to America, promoted to full general, and awarded the Medal of Honor.
“Senior U.S. POW is released.” 2008. The History Channel website. 16 Aug 2008, 04:05 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=6553.
1777 – During the American Revolutionary War, the Battle of Bennington took place. New England’s minutemen routed the British regulars.
1812 – Detroit fell to Indian and British troops in the War of 1812.
1861 – U.S. President Lincoln prohibited the Union states from trading with the states of the Confederacy.
1923 – Carnegie Steel Corporation put into place the eight-hour workday for its employees.
1937 – Harvard University became the first school to have graduate courses in traffic engineering and administration.
1948 – Babe Ruth, Born February 6, 1895, died at the age of 53.
1960 – Cyprus was granted independence by Britain.
1962 – Ringo Starr was picked to replace Pete Best as the drummer for the Beatles. Best had been with the group for about 2 1/2 years.
1978 – Xerox was fined for excluding Smith-Corona Mfg. from the copier market. The fine was $25.6 million.
1984 – John DeLorean was acquitted on eight counts of a $24 million dollar cocaine conspiracy indictment.
1999 – In Russia, Vladimir V. Putin was confirmed as prime minister by the lower house of parliament.
George Carmack discovers Klondike gold
Sometime prospector George Carmack stumbles across gold while salmon fishing along the Klondike River in the Yukon.
“George Carmack discovers Klondike gold.” 2008. The History Channel website. 16 Aug 2008, 04:04 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=4614.
Poet Charles Bukowski is born
Charles Bukowski, leader of the “Meat School” of tough, masculine poetry, is born on this day in Andernach, Germany. Bukowski’s writing is filled with images of sex, violence, and heavy drinking.
“Poet Charles Bukowski is born.” 2008. The History Channel website. 16 Aug 2008, 04:03 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=4065.
Paul Robeson loses appeal over his passport
Famous entertainer and civil rights activist Paul Robeson loses his court appeal to try to force the Department of State to grant him a passport. The continued government persecution of Robeson illustrated several interesting points about Cold War America.
“Paul Robeson loses appeal over his passport.” 2008. The History Channel website. 16 Aug 2008, 04:02 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=tdihArticleCategory&id=2761.
Elvis Presley dies
Popular music icon Elvis Presley dies in Memphis, Tennessee. He was 42. The death of the “King of Rock and Roll” brought legions of mourning fans to Graceland, his mansion in Memphis. Doctors said he died of a heart attack, likely brought on by his addiction to prescription barbiturates.
“Elvis Presley dies.” 2008. The History Channel website. 16 Aug 2008, 03:54 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=6991.