A dual narrative featuring Tess Abbott, an American Army nurse and Flor
Dalisay, a Filipina university student, this is a story of the “Angels of
Bataan”. In 1941, there were 77 U.S. Navy and Army nurses stationed in the
Philippines. Many of these women wanted more from life than their rural farm
upbringing offered, so they went to nursing school and then joined the
The Japanese bombed Manilla on June 8, 1941, just 10 hours after attacking
Pearl Harbor. Life changed drastically in Manilla. The nurses suddenly found
themselves on the front line dealing with war injuries, in addition to malaria
and other illnesses.
When Japan invaded the Philippines, General Douglas MacArthur chose
Bataan and Corregidor Island as his major defense positions and the nursing
staff followed. Bataan fell on April 9, 1942, and Corregidor Island became the
last outpost of organized resistance in the islands. Fearing that MacArthur
might be taken prisoner by the Japanese, on March 11, 1942, he was ordered to
leave the island of Corregidor for Australia.
Allied forces eventually surrendered to the Japanese on May 6, 1942. The
nurses, now prisoners of war, were sent from Malinta Tunnel in Corregidor to
Manila’s Santo Tomas Internment Camp.
Many Fillipinos, including Flor and the network she helped maintain, aided
those held in prison camps. They brought food, money, and information.
This is a story of danger, deprivation, and terror. Shockingly all seventy-seven
nurses survived their multi-year ordeal.