There are over 100 books in print written by or about POWs -- there are
hundreds more unpublished memoirs. I've made just a short list of some
the books I have; I wish I could read all the ones that are out there.
of these books have descriptions at Amazon.com and some have reader
that are very useful. If you want to purchase some of the
titles, a good site for used books is Bibliofind.com. Dr. Charles
has a very extensive bibliography in his book. Feel free to
me your recommendations.
One of the largest collections of POW books and
by Robert S. La Forte,
professor emeritus of history
at the University of North Texas, to which he donated his collection
here). "I collect books regarding prisoners and
captives of the Japanese
in World War II. I have donated over 800 volumes to the University of
Texas Archives, which also holds approximately 200 interviews of POWs
Japan. The North Texas Library also has about 50 volumes which I did
duplicate with my holdings. All the books in my collection are in
and concern mainly Americans, Canadians, Australians, British, and New
Zealanders. They also include a few Dutch and Asian captives."
are the many books written just after the end of WWII. A listing of the
can be found here:
FORTE COLLECTION AND U.N.T. ARCHIVAL
HOLDINGS RELATED TO PRISONERS OF WAR OF JAPAN
Also view this search
at Amazon.com for all books relating to POWs
(ranked by latest publication date). A broader search
here at Google Books.
Hidden Horrors: Japanese War Crimes in World War II,
Prisoners of the Japanese in World War II,
This fact-filled reference book is a must for
students of POW history. It was compiled by one who knows what it was
actually like to be a POW. The author (true name, Willem F. Wanrooy)
was aboard the Junyo-maru when
it was torpedoed on September 18, 1944. The ship was carrying 2,200
POWs of various nationalities as well as 4,320 Javanese conscript
laborers -- a total of 6,520 souls! Only 880 survived, making it the
worst maritime disaster in world history. Wanrooy was interned in POW
camps for 3½ years.
NOTE on hellships: "More than 62,000 POWs were
in 56 ships, of which 19 were torpedoed or bombed (and sunk) and one
was lost in a typhoon. More than 22,000 (35.2 percent) -- or more than
one in three -- lost their lives."
Prisoners of the
Japanese: Pows of World War II in
the Pacific, Gavan Daws, 1994 [A
In the Words of Gavan
|In a Japanese prison camp, under guards holding
life-or-death power, what was it going to take to stay alive, stay
sane, stay human? When the body is savagely beaten, what happens to the
mind and to the spirit? Among starving men, can common human decency
survive? What is the calorie count on friendship, on personal loyalty,
on moral agreements, on altruism? In prison camp, what would it mean to
say that a man is his brother's keeper?
Every POW saw men like himself die horribly.
saw men like himself offer themselves up to death so that others might
live. Those who survived had to struggle to keep themselves alive in
the camps, and then struggle to live with themselves afterward, back in
the world. They were branded by the experience. They have borne the
tribal scars of the POW ever since.
This is what my book is about.... This book is my
effort to tell a story conspicuously absent from the official histories
of both sides, missing in action, so to speak: the truth of life
according to the POW.
Linda Goetz Holmes, 2001
"In these pages, American ex-POWs
their own words what it was like to be slaves for a Japanese
corporation; to be used for medical experiments; to try and stay alive
for weeks in the sealed hold of a Japanese merchant ship. Augmenting
their words with secret Japanese orders, photos of POWs taken by
Japanese companies and one brave prisoner, and her own research, the
author pieces together how and why these things happened. It is a story
being told fully for the first time. Unjust Enrichment
makes powerful, authentic, and unforgettable reading. It also shows
unmistakably why the companies of Japan owe thousands of American
veterans compensation--and an apology."
Journey Into Day: Prisoners of War in Hong Kong and Japan, 1941-1945,
Charles G. Roland, 2001
Another entry in the MUST-READ category for books
those men and women who served in the British Commonwealth, more
Canadian. Good coverage is given on seven POW camps in Japan: Osaka #2
and #3 (Oeyama), Niigata #5, Kawasaki (Yokohama) #3-D, Fukuoka #5
Sendai #2 and Omori (Tokyo); also two Tokyo-area POW hospitals,
and Shinagawa. The final two chapters are well worth the purchase of
book. The chapter Less Than Perfect Soldiers gives
the reader much
insight into understanding Japanese brutality.
Sickness, starvation, brutality, and
forced labour plagued the existence of tens of thousands of Allied POWs
in World War II. More than a quarter of these POWs died in captivity
Long Night's Journey
into Day centres on the lives of Canadian,
British, Indian, and Hong Kong POWs captured at Hong Kong in December
1941 and incarcerated in camps in Hong Kong and the Japanese Home
Islands. Experiences of American POWs in the Philippines, and British
and Australians POWs in Singapore, are interwoven throughout the book
Starvation and diseases such as diphtheria,
beriberi, dysentery, and tuberculosis afflicted all these unfortunate
men, affecting their lives not only in the camps during the war but
after they returned home. Yet despite the dispiriting circumstances of
their captivity, these men found ways to improve their existence,
keeping up their morale with such events as musical concerts and
entertainments created entirely within the various camps
Based largely on hundreds of interviews
former POWs, as well as material culled from archives around the world,
Professor Roland details the extremes the prisoners endured -- from
having to eat fattened maggots in order to live to choosing starvation
by trading away their skimpy rations for cigarettes
No previous book has shown the essential
relationship between almost universal ill health and POW life and
death, or provides such a complete and unbiased account of POW life in
the Far East in the 1940s
Charles G. Roland is
Hannah Professor Emeritus of the History of Medicine at McMaster
University, Hamilton, Canada.
Other papers by Roland: Patterns
of Disease among World War II Prisoners of the Japanese: Hunger, Weight
Loss, and Deficiency Diseases in Two Camps (1991); Allied
POWs, Japanese Captors and the Geneva Convention (1991); Massacre
and Rape in Hong Kong: Two Case Studies Involving Medical Personnel and
Patients (1997); The ABCs of Survival behind Barbed
Wire: Experience in the Far East, 1941-45 (1999). These may
be obtained directly from the author; quantities, however, are limited.
Soldiers: The Forgotten Epic Story
of World War II's Most Dramatic Mission, Hampton Sides, 2001
"Among the plenitude of wartime
the Japanese treatment of POWs in World War II was among the most
horrific, the Bataan Death March being one of the
most notorious examples of the victors' brutality. By January 1945 a
few hundred survivors were in a squalid work camp on Luzon, and Sides'
book recounts a gung-ho military raid to rescue them--and to assuage
American humiliation for their surrender in 1942. Sides opens with the
proximate motivation for the mission: the Americans' fear that as they
closed in on an increasingly beleaguered Japanese military, the
Japanese would vengefully massacre their prisoners. Just such an
atrocity had been perpetrated in December 1944 upon about 100 American
POWs on Palawan. So as the Americans fanned out on Luzon, a unit of
army rangers with Filipino support was sent ahead of the front line.
Their plan, laid and led by Henry Mucci, worked perfectly, as does
Sides' skillfully modulated narrative of the atmosphere,
courageousness, and human cost of the operation." -- Gilbert Taylor,
Death on the
Hellships: Prisoners at
Sea in the Pacific War, Gregory F. Michno, 2001
The Japanese treatment of prisoners
in World War II has been written about before, but only with this
chronicle will readers come to appreciate the true dimensions of the
Allied POW experience at sea. It is a disturbing story that for many
made the Bataan Death March pale by comparison. The survivors describe
their ordeal in the Japanese hellships as the absolute worst experience
of their captivity. Crammed by the thousands into the holds of ships
and moved from island to island and put to work, they endured all the
horrors of the prison camps magnified ten-fold.
Gregory Michno draws on American, British,
Australian, and Dutch POW accounts as well as Japanese convoy
histories, recently declassified radio intelligence reports, and a
wealth of archival sources to present for the first time a detailed
picture of what happened and the extent of the prisoners involved. His
findings are startling. More than 150,000 Allied prisoners were
transported in the hellships with more than 21,000 fatalities. While
many of the deaths were attributable to beatings, starvation, disease,
and lack of food and water, the most, Michno reports, were caused by
Allied bombs, bullets, and torpedoes. He further reports that this
so-called friendly fire was not always accidental--apparently at times
it was more important to sink Japanese ships than to worry about POWs.
The statistics led Michno to conclude that it was more lethal to be a
prisoner on the Japanese hellships than a U.S. Marine fighting in the
campaign. His careful examination of the role of U.S. submarines in the
sinkings and the rescue of POWs makes yet another significant
contribution to the history of the war in the Pacific.
Belly of the Beast
-- A POW's Inspiring True
Story of Faith, Courage, and Survival Aboard the Infamous WWII Japanese
Ship Oryoku Maru, Judith L. Pearson
On December 13, 1944, POW Estel
herded aboard the Japanese prison ship Oryoku Maru with more than 1,600
other captives, almost 1,300 of them would be dead by journey's end ...
Those who emerged from the BELLY OF THE
and the souls of the departed who marched home with them, merit the
recognition Pearson offers in this searing tribute. --
Senator John McCain
An inspiring look at one of World War II's
darkest hours. -- James Bradley, author of FLAGS OF OUR
Flyboys: A True Story of Courage, James
Flyboys is the true story of young
airmen who were shot down over Chichi Jima. Eight of these young men
were captured by Japanese troops and taken prisoner. Another was
rescued by an American submarine and went on to become president. The
reality of what happened to the eight prisoners has remained a secret
for almost 60 years. After the war, the American and Japanese
governments conspired to cover up the shocking truth. Not even the
families of the airmen were informed what had happened to their sons.
It has remained a mystery--until now. Critics called James Bradley's
last book "the best book on battle ever written." Flyboys is even
better: more ambitious, more powerful, and more moving. On the island
of Chichi Jima those young men would face the ultimate test. Their
story -- a tale of courage and daring, of war and of death, of men and
of hope -- will make you proud, and it will break your heart.
My Hitch in Hell: The Bataan Death March, Lester
I. Tenney, 1995 (Also in Japanese, Bataan:
Toi Michinori no Saki
Rising from the Shadow of the Sun: A Story of Love, Survival and Joy
by Ronny Herman de Jong, 2011 -- A historical account of 4 years in the
life of women and children under Japanese oppression on the island of
Java, based on the author's mother’s diary. Click here for the author’s website.
My Time in Hell: Memoir of an American Soldier
Imprisoned by the Japanese
in World War II, Andrew D. Carson, 1997
Hope, Jesse Miller, 1989
Jesse Miller died on February 22, 2001. His
Nettie, recently sent me an article
from The Denver Post about Jesse's life.
It is another story about a hero, though Jesse probably would never
have called himself that. Yet heroes are those who have qualities about
them that others want to emulate -- like courage, the strength to go
on, hope..... and forgiveness.
This story is really what it is all about --
those who trespass against you. In the midst of the inevitable
contention and bitterness between peoples over past history, a story
like this reminds us of the real lesson that we must learn and have the
courage to follow, in order to have that lasting peace.
Ted & Ardes Spaulding, 1999
In this down-home type book, Spaulding tells
growing up in North Dakota, joining the Coast Artillery and being
transferred to a tank battalion which would later bring him to the
Philippines. There he was captured while in Bataan and was on the Death
March, and then later herded with some 1600 other POWs onto the
hellship Oryoku-maru. He arrived at Fukuoka Camp #1 in January 1945.
Read the excerpt below describing life at Fukuoka Camp #1.
Spaulding recalls that not all Japanese were cruel
"I was a cigarette smoker in those
and I used a little trick that hardly ever failed for me. Whenever new
guards appeared on the scene they would shake down their captives for
anything they might still have on them such as smokes and lighters. I
always offered them a cigarette from my pack that had just two
cigarettes left in it. Almost every guard would see that I was almost
out and pull out his own pack to offer me one of his. I ended up with a
full pack. The Japanese soldiers were usually quite average people, a
lot like Americans in interests and emotions. If I took out my
photograph of Catherine and showed it to a guard he would bring out a
photo of his girlfriend or wife to show to me. Some of them were not
mean for the sake of being mean but they could and did get vicious if
we did not follow their orders. Then there were large numbers of those
who were cruel."
You may purchase this book by writing directly to
Spaulding: 938 Custer Ave. NE, Huron, SD 57350. Cost is $20 plus
was on the 28th of January, 1945, that we landed at Moji on the
Japanese island of Kyushu. Each day on the Brazil Maru we had lost a
few people. Our captors were never in a hurry to remove the bodies,
this day no different. We had a sizeable number of bodies piled up in
the hold, directly under the hatch where they were in full view from
above. Imagine now, those were the dead bodies of men who had been
emaciated with skin stretched over bulging bones, faces like skeletons
with heavy long hair and whiskers. It was a gruesome sight, I believe
to compare with the photographs from Buchenwald. The Japanese guards
had built a fire in their area below to keep warm and the smoke was
rising to the upper level. The sun was shining directly down from the
hatch so that anyone looking into the hold would behold an eerie sight.
There was that pile of emaciated bodies with the sun shining on them
through the smoke. I thought that I should have had a camera but then I
really don't believe that I would have wanted a photograph as a
reminder of that day. I can still see it all in my mind, anyway, as
clearly as though I had seen it yesterday.|
Commander with other officers boarded our ship after we docked at Moji.
When they looked down into the hold, viewing the sight that I have just
described, the Commander chewed out the officer in charge of us for at
least fifteen minutes. He was as furious as a man could be. He ordered
the bodies removed, provided a casket for each one and gave them decent
burials. Then they sent over new uniforms for each of us. I remember
how great it felt to be warm again. Some men had next to nothing to
wear and some had a few odd pieces. I had an old Filipino jacket and a
pair of shorts that had been issued to me on the tennis court at
Olongapo. When we were dressed we were taken to a warehouse on the dock
where we were separated into groups. The men who were seriously ill
were transferred to a hospital where most of them eventually died.
final count of those surviving the trip to Japan was four hundred and
ninety some, as far as I can determine, out of the sixteen hundred and
twenty men who began the trip on the Oryoku Maru on December 13, 1944.
This fact did not look good for the Japanese. After the war trials a
number of Japanese officers who had been responsible for us were
After we had been uniformed and fed at Moji, we were
marched (or staggered) through Moji for several blocks, at a busy time
of the day, to the railroad station. There were local citizens crowding
the streets. As I glanced at them I could see sympathy as well as
curiosity in their expressions. They appeared to feel no animosity,
only sympathetic interest in us. I realized how horrible an appearance
we must have made.
We were loaded on a train that took us to
Casi [Kashii] where we were each issued a heavy army overcoat. When we
attempted to put the coats on we were shocked at how weak we were. It
took two men to help each man into his coat, one holding each arm of
From Casi we were transported by truck to Fukuoka
where we were housed in a barracks on a military installation. They
issued each of us another uniform, a pillow and a stack of six or seven
blankets which, unfortunately, were synthetic rather than wool. Wool is
much warmer but we weren't going to complain about a little thing like
that. This generosity was greatly appreciated, the best that we had
received in about two years. We were almost immediately served a
fair-sized bowl of rice, each, and a cup of hot tea. Then we were
assigned to an area a lot like the accommodations we had had at
Cabanatuan No. 1. The building was a long, low one with a peaked roof
and a long corridor running down the center. On each side was a shelf,
about one and a half feet above the floor, where we slept and ate our
meals. We would roll up our bedding and keep it at the back of the
shelf during the daytime. We dropped off our shoes on the corridor
floor to keep the living quarters reasonably clean. Each section had
another shelf along the back wall where we sat and ate our meals and
kept our few worldly possessions.
At that time the Japanese were
aware that they were losing the war, therefore they were fortifying
their country with small military installations scattered around the
countryside. They appeared to be expecting an American invasion.
to me at that particular time, my older brother Bill had decided to go
out to the Pacific war area to rescue me. He, my Mother and my younger
sister, Donna, had been at home in Sherwood, North Dakota, operating
the family dairy business. Bill sold the cows, enlisted in the Army and
found himself in the 96th Division, Engineers. He was among the men who
invaded the island of Leyte. I recall that when I was in Bilibid
Prison, in Manila, we saw the American planes flying over in air
attacks on Leyte. The Americans needed the air base there to make it
possible to attack the enemy in our part of the Pacific. I heard that
the 96th invaded Luzon on the 10th of January and several months later
Bill was a part of the invasion of Okinawa. He never did know exactly
where I was until we met when the war was over.
Life was quite
uneventful there at Fukuoka for several months, arriving at the end of
January and leaving in June of 1945. The Japanese took us out for a
little mild exercise almost every day. We were still very run down but
gradually were regaining our strength. The exercise was undoubtedly
good for us.
In about the sixth week at Fukuoka the Japanese
must have believed that we prisoners needed a good cleaning plus a
medical check-up, of sorts. We walked to the bath house where we were
ordered to strip down, wash ourselves off with a bucket of soapy water
first and then get in a big tub filled with nice, warm water. It was
there where we realized how tough we looked. We saw one another
standing there naked which led to much joking and laughter, so hearty
that we jokers had to sit down on the floor to rest. We were allowed to
weigh ourselves and I was astounded to see that after six weeks off the
boat with a small ration of food every day since, water to drink and a
place to sleep I weighed in at all of ninety-seven pounds. I would like
to know what I had weighed when we got off the boat six weeks earlier.
My average weight before imprisonment had been one hundred and
eight-three pounds on my five foot eleven and a half-inch frame. What a
unique way to lose weight!
We had some emergencies there at
Fukuoka, such as the night a young medic, Pfc. Noyes, went out to use
the open ditch latrine, which was full to the top with a very thick
liquid that you find in all outdoor toilets of that type. Noyes fell
in, probably because he was physically weak. After pulling him out they
dragged him in where the medics pulled off his filthy, wet clothing,
cleaned him up and dressed him. Just overnight Noyes developed
pneumonia which left him ill for a long time. One of the medics who
helped him was John McCormack Brown from Chicago. He claimed to be a
member of the well known, wealthy McCormack family of International
Harvester fame, also related to the equally famous Bordens.
have often wondered why we didn't have many common colds during our
period of imprisonment. I had caught cold at the drop of a hat previous
to that time of my life. I have always believed that it is healthier
for a man to be cold than it is to be warm. Except for the time when we
were in the holds of the first. two ships on the trip to Japan, we had
been cold most of the time.
We were receiving very small rations
of rice each day with adequate drinking water. Occasionally there was
soup made from weeds. There was a bakery there that the Japanese had
set up for us. If we were ill we were allowed a piece of bread each
day, otherwise we could have only a serving of rice. Some of us still
had beri-beri, pellagra and skin diseases which were all caused by poor
There was an incident of men trading cigarettes for extra
food from the kitchen. The only time I ever refused a request from an
officer of higher rank than mine was there at Fukuoka. A Colonel whom I
knew and admired asked me for cigarettes because he wanted to trade
them for extra rations. I had quit smoking in April of 1942. I told the
Colonel that I thought what he wanted to do was very wrong because the
extra food that we would take would deprive some other man of his fair
share. There was just a set amount rationed. He was pleasant about it
and then we discussed the possibility of watching the kitchen to insure
that no more of that type of trading could continue. He explained that
the only reason he had suggested trading cigarettes for food was that
other men were doing it.
Three or four man died while we were in
Fukuoka, always sad, but a definite improvement over our past record in
other camps or on board ship.
I recall that once, in camp, I
made the remark, "Hell, this isn't bad. I spent the first nineteen
years of my life in Sherwood, North Dakota, before I came here. I have
always said that I would work in hell if the wages were right and it
sure is hell here, the wages aren't too bad and I'm not complaining." A
few of my friends became curious about my hometown after hearing my
remarks and I was forced to tell them some stories about my youth. They
didn't believe me when I told them that I had pulled a sled around
town, delivering milk (probably frozen) when it was 48 below zero, even
54 below on rare days. Then they heard all about the fistfights in the
pool hall, pitching hay in 110-degree weather and even more
unbelievable stories than those.
Occasionally we were sent out
on work details, piling up sacks of rice or supplies in the storage
area, but most of the time we weren't very busy. One of the work
details was a trip out to the camp garden. We had weeds to hoe but we
didn't work furiously at that. On one of those work details to the farm
there was a Japanese woman working in a field nearby. She sent a child
over to us with a handful of parched corn for two or three of us.
always enjoyed watching when a Japanese work detail would come in to
our camp. There was always a man in charge with several little girls
working. The man would supervise while the girls bailed out pailsful of
waste from our holding pits from the latrines. The pits were concrete
with open tops made for the express purpose of holding the waste until
it could be used for fertilizer. Those little teenagers had the most
beautiful complexions I had ever seen, but then all Japanese women have
beautiful complexions, probably a result of clean living along with
bland diets. The Japanese civilians were always pleasant to us, would
look our way with pleasant expressions or smiles.
In June of
1945 we were told that we would be moving on to Korea. We were
marched through the city of Fukuoka, which was an interesting
experience. We sat in a warehouse where we watched the Japanese load
the ship that we were waiting to board. Leaving Fukuoka, we boarded
ship where we spent the night sleeping on the floor, crossing the Sea
September 28, 1913 - January 4, 2002
THEODORE IRA SPAULDING
Ira Spaulding was born September 28, 1913 to John Ira and Louisa
(Sherritt) Spaulding at Sherwood, ND. He grew up in Sherwood and
graduated from Sherwood High School in 1931. In his youth he was a
member of the Methodist Episcopal Church and later a member of the
United Methodist Church. When Ted was twelve years old he began his
working career. He sold magazines and newspapers and pulled a wagon
around Sherwood delivering milk for his family's dairy. From 1931
through 1938 he worked in the Sherwood Creamery.
At the age of
twenty, Ted rode on a freight train to Montana where he worked in a
coal mine for a short time and again took a freight train (riding in a
box car) to Washington State where he picked apples in an orchard. He
moved on to San Francisco, CA, where he attended Heald's Business
College and worked as a long- shoreman. He was employed at Seal's
Stadium for a year before moving to Dutch Flat, CA, where he mined gold
in the Trixie Gold Mine. He moved to Phoenix, AZ and drove a truck for
the Arizona Express between Phoenix and Los Angeles for a year.
1936 he returned to San Francisco where he was employed as a clerk for
the John's Manville Corporation. Ted then moved to Salinas, CA and
attended Salinas College, now Hartnell, for two years, from 1938 to
1940. He was elected student body president both years and in his
second year he won the American Legion Award for "male graduate of the
In 1940 he attended the University of California at
Berkeley for one semester before being mobilized with the California
National Guard. He was transferred to Ft. Lewis, WA in the spring of
1941 where he attended Officer's Training School, and graduated as a
second lieutenant in the Salinas 194th Tank Battalion. The battalion
was sent to Ft. Stotsenberg, Philippine Islands,in September 1941. Ted
served in the combat infantry from December 1941 through April 8, 1942
when the U.S.-Philippine forces were ordered to surrender to Japan. He
was on the infamous "Death March" after which he spent three and one
half years in Japanese prisoner of war camps O'Donnell, Cabanatuan #1
and #3 and Bilibid. He was on three of the Japanese "Hell Ships"
traveling to Japan. The prisoners were transported to work in Japanese
labor camps. They were in Inchon, Korea at the time they were liberated.
arriving at home in North Dakota, Ted married Ardes E. Holmberg
February 3, 1946 at Minot, ND. Ted remained in the U.S. Army until 1953
when he moved to South Dakota The Spauldings were stationed in
Swannanoa, NC (Army Hospital); Ft. McClellan, AL; Ft. Jackson, SC; Camp
Carson, CO; and three years at Fort Ord, CA. In 1950 Ted trained
recruits called out for the Korean War at Camp Carson. He had
previously been assigned as Army advisor to the South Dakota National
Guard and m 1950 they purchased their farm and land near Huron, SD.
next and last Army assignment was as Army advisor to the Iowa National
Guard. In 1958 Ted requested a discharge from the Army, which was made
possible by President Truman. He returned to Huron where he entered the
South Dakota National Guard. In 1978he retired from the National Guard
as Brigadier General, Assistant Adjutant General after thirty-seven
years in the service of his country, twelve in the active Army. Ted
graduated from Huron College in 1955 and taught at Huron Senior High
School, Huron Junior High School, and Miller High School and for a
short time was principal and teacher at Custer School.
thirty years he operated an Angus cattle business on his farm. He
served as state supervisor for the Selective Service for ten years,
from 1966-76. Ted was elected to the South Dakota State Senate where he
served for two years. He also served on the Oahe Conservancy Board for
four years and later was appointed to the State Board of Charities and
Corrections, which he continued for nine years, including two years as
chairman. He was on the Huron College Board of Trustees for a time and
a member of the Associated School Boards of South Dakota as well as a
member of the Huron School Board. Ted was on the Valley Township Board
in 1954. He was in the Huron Elks Lodge in 1954-56 and in the Huron
Kiwanis Club in the 1970's. He was a member of the National Guard
Association, and the South Dakota Guard Association. Ted was a Mason
and a Shriner, a member of the Tyrian Masonic Lodge at Sherwood, ND,
and the ZaGaZig Shrine of Des Moines, IA.
Ted won many medals,
some of which were the Purple Heart, Philippine Defense Medal, Prisoner
of War Medal for Honorable Service, Combat Infantry Badge, Legion of
Merit, Presidential Unit Citation with two Oak Leaf Clusters for
performance during the Philippine Campaign, Pacific Campaign Medal, and
the Philippine Liberation Medal. He also received the Selective Service
Award for Meritorious Service. He received the Commandant's Award for
Meritorious Service to the South Dakota Military Academy during its
existence. In 1962 the Huron Chamber of Commerce voted him as "Boss of
the Year" as a result of his leadership in the National Guard. Ted was
a member of the American Legion, the 149th Armor Regiment, Seaside, CA,
Veterans of Foreign Wars. He was a faithful member of the Survivors of
Bataan and Corregidor organization.
He had an article published
in the National Guard magazine and he and his wife, Ardes, wrote a
book, "Itchy Feet,"about Ted's and their family experiences.
for having shared his life are his wife, Ardes; two daughters, Deborah
and her husband, Randy Lincoln, and Rebecca and her husband, Rodney
Freeman; two sons, T Mark and his wife, Lisa Spaulding, and Matthew and
his wife, Jodi Spaulding; thirteen grand-children; one great-grandson;
two brothers and one sister. Ted was preceded in death by his parents;
one sister, Maxine Anderson; one brother, Bill Spaulding; and one
grandson, Randall Lincoln, Jr. Ted died Friday evening, January 4, 2002
at his home after a long illness. He had attained the age of
eighty-eight years, three months and seven days.
Wake, War and
Waiting.., Rodney Kephart, 1950
Kephart's "Victory Flag" here. Captured on Wake Island on
December 23, 1941, Kephart was shipped to mainland Japan to spend the
remainder of the war in POW camps: Sasebo #18, Miyata #D12, Koyagi #2,
and finally Orio #D9 (Mizumaki #6). While aboard a hospital ship, the U.S.S.
Haven, anchored in Nagasaki Bay at the end of the
similar hospital ship), Kephart wrote home to his mother:
I am almost at a loss as to what
with myself after being cooped up so long... I am making every effort
to bring myself back to the life that now presents itself before me.
After the three years and nine months of slavery, torture and
starvation, one is a little slow of thought and ignorant of the
up-to-date things of life. I have found in the last 24 hours, from
listening to the radio, many things mentioned that are absolutely
foreign to me... It is such a relief to get away from the barbarous
screaming of the Japs, the brutal treatment and the starvation and
confinement. Then all of a sudden to be free, have plenty of food, good
clothing, talk to civil people who talk and understand as yourself, and
on top of all, be taken into this haven and treated like a royal guest.
By the time I get home, I hope to have my head cleared and be ready to
drop into life and make the most of my experience.
Home by Christmas: Memoirs 1940 - 1948, Gerry
(Limited copies available; read the excerpt below) - February
2002 photo of Gerry and his wife,
Hennie - Sketch of Hakozaki camp
showing where bomb
hit that was intended for Najima Power Plant
Any "book" has to have a title and
was a bit of a problem as "Memoirs" sounds a bit too expansive for a
simple story. I remembered that during those years in captivity we were
always rather optimistically talking about being "home for Christmas".
In reality, it took me about eight years to get home for Christmas, but
that is altogether another story.
We heard different horror stories about
in other places in the Pacific whenever we met newcomers and we did not
want it to influence our optimistic outlook.
Now, more than fifty years after cessation
hostilities a lot of "dirt" is coming to light, for instance, political
influence to let war criminals "go" (see: Betrayal In High
Places by James McKay. Tasman Archives, New Zealand). But
all this doesn't matter.
I can see the Lord's hand during my whole
and all the "disappointments" turned out to be the best for me. I've
been very blessed indeed with a marvellous wife, children
Finally, I don't want this 'story' to be a
commercial product. Each one of my children will receive a copy and I
have a few spares for friends who are genuinely interested.
HOME BY CHRISTMAS: Memoirs 1940 - 1948
by Gerry Nolthenius
Published February 1998
in November 1944 rumours started to circulate through the camp that a
group of P.O.W. was going to be assembled for some specialist work. We
didn't know what to think of it but a change was not always an
improvement. The whole business didn't appeal to me at all. I was in a
sort I of a routine and could somehow feel at ease with the
circumstances. I don't know what criteria our Nipponese masters were
following but I found myself on their list. I've forgotten how many
were in our group but if my memory is right there were about a dozen
Dutch Navy boys.
Our departure was scheduled early in December
(5th?). It was hard to be separated from my mates Sam H. and Harry Z.
We had been through so much in the previous two years and nine months.
there was a consolation when I saw Dick M. in the same group. I was not
as close with him as with the others but Dick was a good fellow, quiet
but absolutely reliable.
We were marched off late in the
afternoon after the usual counting rigmarole. It was dark when we
boarded the ferry to Nagasaki. In the city another bout of counting and
recounting and then we had to run on the double to the railway station.
To our surprise we had to board an excellent passenger train. The best
part of it was that the wagons were beautifully warm and the seats
nicely upholstered. The windows were blacked out but the guards were
quite an agreeable bunch. One fellow even handed out some smokes, an
unheard of thing.
After a long wait we took off and traveled through the night but we had quite a few stops and waiting periods.
the morning we came to a large railway station, apparently a junction
of several routes. I don't recall the name of the place. We were herded
into a large hall where we found another group of P.O.W. from other
camps. It was exciting to meet up with other Navy boys and exchange
news. I met up with an old mate from High school but for Dick it was
very hard to hear that his brother Sictus died about eighteen months
before. I knew Sic very well; he was my partner when we were running
the ambulance in Surabaja in February 1942.
About midday we
received the customary riceball with seaweed and hot green tea. We
hardly had time to enjoy our lunch when we had to fall in again.
were divided up in different groups but Dick and I managed to stay
together. After an hour or so our group was marched off and we boarded
a train again. Good seats and lovely heated. The windows in our
compartment were not blacked out so we had an excellent view of the
landscape. The train followed a very pretty coastline with little
islands, lots of pine trees and small villages. Towards dusk the
blackout blinds were pulled down and the guards became quite hostile
when we tried to peep out.
About seven P.M. we arrived at a
town, Fukuoka, as we found out afterwards. We had to fall in on the icy
cold platform and were handed over to different guards again. These
were really not very nice. Lots of shouting, hitting with rifle butts
Anyway, we started marching again, in a snowstorm
and boy, it was "COLD". About nine-thirty we arrived at a camp
[Mushiroda] with a bamboo palisade around it, with sentry boxes and
searchlights. The usual roll-call on a sort of parade ground and then
we were addressed by a British-Army Sergeant-major with a very loud
voice and an unsympathetic appearance. What I specially disliked about
this individual was the fact that he was very well dressed for a P.O.W.
Good boots (polished), great coat, gloves, even a swagger stick. A
perfect example of a drill sergeant-major.
We were allocated
into different barracks and Dick and I finished up as the only two
Dutch amongst about thirty Aussies and thirty Americans. I spoke a few
words of English, Dick almost nil, so the situation was not very
bright. It was swim or sink. The sergeant in charge of our section was
a lanky Australian. I only knew him as Lofty, but I really got to
respect him for the way he was ruling the roost. He was very patient
with the two "stupid" Dutchies but he was scrupulously honest,
something I can't say about our American allies. They were civilian
convicts captured on Wake Island and every single one of them had a
rather colourful past of manslaughter, rape and so on.
was very primitive and our task was working on a nearby airfield. The
"carriers" were issued with a flat basket to be carried in front of
your stomach. This was filled by a couple of prisoners and we had to
carry it a few hundred metres, dump the earth and walk back for the
next load. Gets sort of monotonous doing it all day long. Lunch was
brought to the job, the usual binto with pickled "Daigon" (horseradish)
and some hot water.
It was quite a dismal existence being in this camp. The only thing really outstanding in my mind is that it was very cold.
one had to go to the "benjo" (latrine) during the night it was quite
rigmarole. As soon as you stepped outside the door opening one had to
bow towards the sentry who was standing about 50 metres away on a
hillock. If you straightened up before he gave his consent you were
surely in trouble.
One elderly American was caught and he had to
stand at attention for the remainder of the night. Certainly not
pleasant in sub-zero temperatures. Especially with a full bladder.
episode comes to mind. One morning I was detailed to carry nightsoil,
together with an Aussie Digger. Poor "Snowy" was about a foot shorter
as I am and whenever our "friendly" guard urged us on, the contents of
our 15-gallon container started sloshing out and Snow generally copped
the lot of the smelly liquid.
There was one particular Korean
who was an absolute sadist. Personally, I considered him to be on the
verge of insanity. One afternoon after our ordure carrying duty we came
into our barrack and an American was sitting on his blankets repairing
some clothing. Our Korean "Baboon" came in and went into a rage, called
Brandy, the American, over and hit him hard over his head with his
rifle. Brandy collapsed and "Baboon" screamed something unintelligible.
me it sounded like sickbay something or other. So, I went over to
assist our American and next moment I was flattened and "Baboon" pushed
his bayonet against my throat. I really thought that it was the end,
but the Japanese guard commander happened to walk in and "Baboon" was
restrained. I got off with a couple of kicks and about a week later
Baboon disappeared when half of our guards were replaced with a group
of war veterans. They were partly invalids but generally speaking quite
One thing what really struck us was the terrible
corruption in the camp. Apparently, the Sergeant-Major, a Sergeant in
charge of the cookhouse and half a dozen English cooks were running a
flourishing black market in food to be exchanged for cigarettes or
exorbitant prices in American dollars. Cigarettes were being sold for
ten US dollars each.
Christmas 1944 was celebrated as good as
circumstances allowed. The usual Red Cross parcels, one parcel per six
or seven persons. The only difference was that we didn't see any corned
beef or meat and vegetable tins. These were all confiscated by the
cookhouse and were supposed to be included in our Christmas dinner.
Very hard to check whether we received our share but it was more than a
mere coincidence that there were quite a few tins on the black market
the week after. Difficult to prove but it is true.
A few days
after New Year there were rumours that we were in for another move.
This proved to be true. We had the usual roll-call and they gave us ten
minutes to grab our personal belongings and we were marched off.
new camp was new indeed [Hakozaki]. Brand new as a matter of fact. It
was situated amongst pine trees and the barracks were very low. A
trench about two foot deep and eight foot wide and on either side a
platform of pine planks laying on the sand. The roof was quite steep
and near the eaves about eighteen inches high. The cladding consisted
of layers of bark. Not 100% waterproof but as it was snowing and
freezing it didn't leak. Actually towards the end of January we had
about a foot of snow covering the lot and it became quite cozy and warm
Before we were allowed into the barracks we had to
unpack all our gear and on this occasion my stamp collection was
confiscated by Katsura the interpreter.
Early in February
something happened with the cookhouse gang. I never found out what did
happen but the whole lot got beaten up and were subsequently sacked.
whole camp was called on parade and had to watch the gruesome business.
The camp commander [Sakamoto] and Katsura marched along the lines and
picked out a new team of cooks. Katsura grabbed me and said: "You speak
Dutch and English and little Japanese, so you work in cookhouse". In a
way I was not overly keen but had no choice.
In the kitchen we
were familiarized with our work and I had to give the Jap cookhouse
"hancho" a hand with the scullery jobs. Washing buckets from the
guardhouse, pumping water, tending the coal fires and so on. It was
altogether a pretty good job after the initial "training" period.
Tending the fires was the hardest because the coal we were allocated
consisted of dust and more dust. One could pick out the cooks
straightaway; they all looked like chimneysweeps.
One set back
was the amount of hours we had to work. I was generally woken up by a
guard about 2 a.m. and had to start lighting the fire for an oven used
by the Japanese to bake buns for the guards. But as I mentioned before,
there were certain benefits. The guards were very well fed and
generally there was sufficient left in the buckets to have a reasonable
meal on the sly.
The cooks who were preparing the food for the
P.O.W.'s were allowed the normal rations, but we are all human after
all and some pilfering happened, of course. But there was definitely no
"black market" in food I was aware of. We all had our turn going around
the barracks registering the number of sick, who were supposed to
receive only half ration. We could generally arrange in the cookhouse
that these half rations were near enough to full rations.
biggest problem, however, was the official little camp hospital. All
sick and no workers and when the Jap "hancho" checked up and found the
hospital buckets too full it was roaring and slapping of course.
few episodes come to mind, some not very nice. One day when a working
party came back they were searched as usual and one South-African was
caught concealing some potatoes he had pilfered, the Japanese commander
held a speech haranguing the party and declaring that it was a criminal
offence to steal food from the hardworking Japanese farmers and he was
going to punish the culprit as a warning to the others. The poor
South-African was tied to a bench and two soldiers were positioned on
either side and had to administer fifty hits with baseball bats on his
back, each hit a bit lower till they reached his ankles and back up
It was horrible and when one of the soldiers didn't hit
hard enough he was in turn punished by the guard commander with kicks
and hits in his face The Japs went sort of berserk. When it was over
the South-African was taken to the camp hospital but he died a couple
of days later.
This camp commander was transferred about three
months before the war ended and his successor was a slightly better
type but he was a man who liked his "sake" (rice wine) and when he had
a bit too much he was liable to wander through the camp and paying
attention to all sort of little things. Subsequently, he "lecture" the
involved prisoner about it (slaps and kicks).
It was a week or
so after the above mentioned cruelty that I was approached by one of
the doctors who asked me whether I was willing to donate some blood for
a patient in the hospital who was critically ill. I was in a reasonable
healthy condition so I agreed. I had to lie on a table and the
recipient was on a straw mattress on the ground. Doc pushed a blunt
needle in an artery in my arm and so we were connected by a tube. All I
know about the other fellow was that he was English speaking and the
whole procedure was in vain because he died the next day.
the general atmosphere in the camp was not good. We all had a feeling
of insecurity. In Nagasaki we had grown into a familiar routine which
was bearable despite the hunger, dirt and cold. We all had our mates
and we were taken prisoner as a group and we knew each other from
pre-war happier times. In Fukuoka I it was a real hotchpotch of
nationalities and people of all levels of society and worst of all, the
criminal element was well represented.
In February, I think, we
were ordered out of the barracks late at night and we were put to work
unloading some trucks. These trucks contained a few hundred American
Army officers. Hardly any of them could walk and they were absolutely
filthy and lousy. I'll never forget the stench. These poor fellows came
from the Philippine Islands and they were survivors from the Death
March from Bataan. Subsequently they were transported by ship
[Oryoku-maru] to Japan. A few of them survived torpedoing and floating
in the sea for a week or so. The journey from the Philippines to Japan
took almost a hundred days. Water was rationed to a canteen cup (about
a pint) of brackish fluid between three men per day. Hardly any food
They were put in separate barracks and the death toll
amongst them was horrific: ten, fifteen per day were taken out by horse
and cart to be cremated.
Percentage-wise Fukuoka I had some grim
statistics. If I remember right the maximum number at one stage was
680, but at the end of the war there were about 280-300 left over.
the American officers were some tragic cases: One fellow was absolutely
starved close to death. He was a skeleton when he died. I had to help
loading him on to the death cart. I guess that his weight wasn't over
40 kilos and yet when we took his belongings to the camp administration
we found two tins of corned beef and a bar of energy chocolate
(ex-American Red Cross) kept over for a rainy day as the saying goes.
I was outstanding in the oversupply of vermin. Bedbugs galore, everyone
was cultivating an abundant crop of body lice but worst of all became
the fleas when the weather started to warm up. I found myself a good
sleeping spot amongst the rafters where we normally kept our personal
belongings. I could only sleep there when I knew that Winky (a Jap
veteran with one arm) was on duty to wake me up at 2 a.m. That was
about three nights a week. I used to jump down, grab my clothes and
make a dash for the kitchen with only my G-string as covering. In the
kitchen I grabbed a ladle and poured water over my legs to wash off a
layer of fleas about 3.5mm thick. I don't know how the boys could put
up with it for a whole night. I never slept much when I had to sleep on
One night I was fiddling around trying to open up
the kitchen door when I heard the sound of an aircraft pulling up out
of a dive and then: whoosh! The ground shook and I saw a long
torpedo-shaped thing laying about five metres away behind me. Next
thing I remember was panting while lying on my stomach near the
boundary fence at the opposite site of the camp. I must have broken the
world record of the 200 metre dash, but nobody timed me so I didn't
finish up in the records book.
Of course, it was panic stations
for the whole camp. The kitchen area was declared out of bounds and
there were guards everywhere. As soon as it was daylight a truck came
into camp and a few Navy types surveyed the situation. One fellow
stalked the torpedo bomb and squatted down and after further
examination started unscrewing some contraption and removed something
and then his nerves apparently gave in, because he ran away from the
bomb in quite a hurry. Nothing happened so after a while the truck
backed up and the Kaigun boys loaded the bomb onto the truck. Quite a
job because the thing was around 1300 lbs. in weight.
bomb had landed a few metres to the left it would have finished up in
the Jap bathhouse and the water could have triggered the delayed action
and quite an explosion would have resulted.
We presumed that the
target was a power station [Najima] about half a mile downstream across
the river and a railway bridge right next to it. The bomb was a delayed
action time-bomb, which was activated by a device which dissolved in
We could sense an increase in activity, lots of air raid
alarms. Often we could see the vapour lines of the bombers heading
over. It generally started as early as 7 a.m. and lasted well into the
afternoon. We had our dugout air raid shelters but we didn't like the
ventilation holes in the earthen covered roofs because right next to it
were forty-four gallon drums with fuel. We actually spent only a couple
of nights in the shelters. The first time nothing happened. A fortnight
after we had an incendiary raid on the nearby city of Fukuoka [June 19
air raid]. No more raids in our vicinity after this, because Fukuoka
It would have been late in July when I was working
behind the cookhouse. Our water pump was mounted on a platform and the
water ran through a bamboo pipe into a square tub in the kitchen and it
could be directed into the bathhouse as well.
I was pumping away
and all of a sudden I had a very uncomfortable feeling. Looking up l
saw a big round red spot centrally situated on a wavelike profile and
realised it was a single engine plane (Corsair F4U) diving toward me. I
dropped off the platform and when the plane roared past I saw the
American star on the side of the fuselage. Either the pilot was out of
ammunition or he hadn't noticed a person standing on a five foot high
Practically every day we saw activities which showed that the war was getting nearer to the Japanese homeland.
was early August that I witnessed a funny episode: Scotty the camp
bugler and Paddy Cavanagh were great cobbers, always arguing but
inseparable. The Japanese camp commandant had a coop with half a dozen
chickens and a nice big rooster. Scotsman, Irishman and chickens,
indeed a dangerous combination. One very early, dark morning I was
doing my chores, washing the buckets behind the cookhouse when I heard
some muffled mutterings, certain curses with an outspoken Scottish
accent. Looking up, behold, there was Paddy, holding head and neck of a
great white rooster and Scotty, limping and stumbling behind,
struggling with the wings and legs. Truly a joint effort with split
second execution of a well planned expedition. I don't know what the
normal reaction of the commandant would have been, but it happened
after Hiroshima and before Nagasaki and our esteemed landlords were in
a somewhat dazed condition and had more important matters on their
minds than an unfortunate rooster.
It was around the same time
when a prisoner of war was brought in who happened to be an old
acquaintance of mine from Nagasaki. He was Bertie F. who was
lightweight boxing champion in 1940-41 on Java. He was involved in a
fight with a Japanese civilian in the dockyard, was court martialled by
the Kaigun (Navy) and sentenced to two years jail. He was in a way very
fortunate it happened in Japan. The Japanese Kaigun had some respect
for the Dutch Navy boys and treated us more correctly as we could
expect from the Rikugun (Army). On the islands Bertie would have been
beaten to death or bayoneted for the "lucky" (?) ones.
Bertie was taken to a civilian prison and when his time was up he was
taken to Fukuoka I to await further transport to Nagasaki. He was kept
in the dogbox in the guard house and received his ration straight from
We didn't have much chance or time for conversation
but when the invalid guards were on duty we could exchange some news
items. In jail he was forced to do hard labour, working for an employer
who was contractor to empty out toilet cess pits. He was forced to
carry overflowing wooden containers (about 10 gallons) on his
shoulders, the nights were spent in concrete cells with minimum
covering in wintertime, only company Japanese or Korean criminals.
During those two years several more Caucasian prisoners were brought
in, but they were forbidden to contact each other. The majority went
insane within a few months or died. The only good thing Bertie got out
of it was an exceptional good understanding of the Japanese language.
was he who told me on the evening of the sixth of August that the
Japanese were very upset about a disastrous event which destroyed the
city of Hiroshima with hundreds of thousands of casualties. Three days
later he said something similar had happened to Nagasaki. I didn't see
Bertie any more after this. I don't know what happened to him.
early in the morning of the 15th one of the invalid guards told Joe
Truey (a Cuban who was sometimes "too" friendly with the Japanese) that
the Emperor (Showa) was going to have a speech over the radio. All
kinds of rumours circulated in camp of course.
lunch I was off as usual to go to the barrack to have a short afternoon
rest (Because of my very early start I was allowed to do it). My mind
was in a turmoil because of all the rumours and I forgot completely to
make the usual bow for a sentry (being the representative of the
Emperor) and was well past him before I realized that he didn't
challenge me. I just couldn't resist the temptation to go back to him
and I asked him straight out: Senso owari-ka? (Is the war finished?).
He looked at me and bowed with his head: "Hai!" (yes).
absolutely flabbergasted and didn't know how to react. I just walked
off and sat for a while on my bunk before it really sank in properly.
The rest of the day was like a dream.
We had to provide food for
the evening meal, but things somehow didn't seem right. We were allowed
to give extra fishmeal and soybeans and the Jap kitchen hancho didn't
Next morning a live pig was brought in for the P.O.W.
kitchen and Paddy was appointed executioner (he claimed to be a butcher
by trade) but what a horrible mess did he make. He tried to stun the
poor thing with a hammer but it didn't work too well and when he tried
to cut it's throat Porky jumped up and floored Paddy. A couple of other
cooks grabbed the animal and he was soon dispatched. Horrific squealing
and blood everywhere but after all we produced a very nourishing stew
for the fellows.
The second day after V.J. Day (17th August) it
was very quiet. I wasn't called for kitchen duty and slept rather late.
We discovered that the guards had disappeared. Our senior officers
decided that the P.O.W.'s were going to do our own sentry duties and
they tried to draw up some rosters. Not very successful as most of the
boys just went walk-about.
Our Wake island Americans tried to
catch some of the guards but I don't think they had much luck as the
Japs just melted away amongst the population. I was feeling a bit off
colour and the doctor decided that I should have a few days off. I
turned quite yellow after some days and the prognosis was yellow
jaundice. That was the end of my career as cook.
(day three) a Japanese motorbike roared into camp with a couple of
American Airmen. They had landed on the nearby airfield, commandeered a
motorbike with sidecar and proceeded to the P.O.W. camp which they had
spotted on a previous reconnaissance flight. They were absolutely
mobbed as everybody wanted to know what was going on in the world. They
informed us that we had to put clear P.O.W. markers out so we could be
supplied by air with food and further necessities.
20th August we had the first airdrop. What a beautiful sight: Three
Liberator bombers roared low over the camp and on the second pass down
came all coloured parachutes with containers with all goodies. Lovely
tins of everything, boxes and drums with underwear, shirts, trousers,
boots, medicines, vitamins and so on. Too much to take it in at once.
Part of the drop landed outside the parade ground and fence and the
boys rounded up youngsters and women from the Jap village to help carry
the loot into the camp. They were rewarded with chocolate and
cigarettes and so an excellent relationship was established.
was just stacked in a big heap and everybody could help himself. Nobody
bothered about the kitchen anymore. The boys formed groups of four or
five and started their own "messes". We had absolutely an abundance of
Two days after the first drop we had another "raid".
This time only two Liberators. Something went wrong however. Some boxes
and drums came apart from their parachutes and one box landed in such a
way that it decapitated Joe Truey our "Jap friendly" Cuban.
is typical of the attitude of the average P.O.W. that hardly anybody
was really upset. Some even commented: "It serves him right". Another:
"No need to court-marshal him now".
I went outside to watch the
planes when they came over and when I went back to my place I
discovered a hole in the roof and a large drum with boots laying on top
of my bed. At that time it was considered that I was just a lucky
fellow. Now, fifty years later, I realize that I was kept safely in the
Lord's hand as happened more in my life. The Lord has a purpose for
everything and I still cannot understand why I am richly blessed over
A lot of our boys went sightseeing. They just left
camp, commandeered Army vehicles (no civilian ones around) or went to
the railway stations to travel free of charge all over the country. A
couple of fellows got as far as Tokyo-Yokohama and reports filtered
back that when they called at Military Police headquarters our
"esteemed" interpreter Katsura reported himself back into the US Army.
He was executed on the spot according to one informant. I doubt whether
this story was true but in those first weeks after the Jap surrender
everything was possible.
I still cannot understand the total
reversal of the attitude of the Japanese. Wherever we showed up the
people were overly polite and accommodating. When we happened to meet
some military men we just had to look at them sternly and we were
accorded full military honours (saluting, bowing, etc).
story comes to mind: There were a couple of Dutch Navy boys; one with
the name of Roosevelt and the other was Donkelaar. They decided to have
a look at a different camp "Fukuoka 17". They traveled by train, first
class, of course, and on arrival at the destined town they walked out
of the railway station and were accosted by a Military Police Patrol
consisting of some ex-P.O.W., from camp 17. They had to give their
credentials and state their business to be on the loose. Well,
Roosevelt gave his name and the MP said: "You are a liar, the President
died a few months ago. You are under arrest". Next Donkelaar gave his
name and he was arrested being AWOL from camp 17. His twin brother
happened to be an inmate from camp 17.
It was hilarious, but at
the time it was not funny. They were brought as prisoners to camp 17
and had quite a hectic time convincing the camp authorities that they
had told the truth. The Donkelaar brothers had their reunion but the
next morning Roosevelt and "our" Donkelaar escaped and told the story
about the poor fellows in 17 having such an horrid time with their own
We were certainly fortunate that in our camp the
situation was different. A couple of English officers and Sergeant
Major J. tried to re-introduce us to the strict pre-war discipline but
they soon realized that it is very hard if not impossible to drill a
mob of Aussies and American convicts. Regarding the Dutch, it was a
matter of "No Understand" and a dumb look. The Dutch officer was a
medical man who couldn't care less as long as his patients were treated
well. So the British Army gave up.
A lively black market
developed. Red Cross supplies were in overabundance. A couple of
Americans knew of a Japanese Army dump nearby and we soon had a few
truckloads of Army blankets and other clothing "liberated" and the
civilian population was very keen to obtain some warm merchandise for
the coming winter. Our boys were after "kimonos" and other artifacts.
Some started collecting "samurais" (swords) from Jap officers on the
loose. It is still a wonder that nothing serious developed. If an
officer was reluctant he was threatened with General MacArthur's name
and rewarded with a signed chit that he had surrendered his weapon to
"Captain Bullshit" or worse.
On the 31st August we had another
airdrop which was a "special". It was the birthday of Queen Wilhelmina
of the Netherlands and our small group of Dutchies were spoken to by
our Doctor and we sang the Dutch Anthem. Soon after the grocery plane
arrived overhead and down came the "gifts". There was one parachute, an
orange one, which was very conspicuous, orange being the colour of the
house of "Orange" (Dutch Royal Family). The orange container was hauled
triumphantly to the sickbay and
the Doctor read the message
printed on it. I forgot the wording but it was a congratulation for all
the Netherlands servicemen and the box contained a special gift from
such and such squadron to enhance our celebrations. The box contained
prophylactics and condoms. As you can imagine it caused a lot of
hilarity amongst our Allies but we didn't appreciate the joke at the
Anyway, life in camp was very pleasant. August is a
beautiful month, also the groups, messes, all had their territory
staked out amongst the pine trees and we all slept outdoors and dined
"all fresco". The barracks were simply impossible to live in because of
It was toward the middle of September that word came
through that we were to be evacuated by train. On the 15th of September
we were all transported by trucks to the railway station. What a
complete reversal: as P.O.W. we had to run, encouraged by savage Army
men with sticks, rifles and bayonets. Now as "victorious" men we were
very politely helped on board of the trucks and the Army fellows
couldn't do enough to help us carry our gear. We were very "generous"
and rewarded them with smokes and weren't they flabbergasted.
boarded a very good train with windows we could see through, not
blacked out and the countryside we traveled through was quite pretty.
As soon as we approached a town or city, however, we could see a lot of
damage caused by bombing.
But when we approached our destination
we saw how horrendous war is. We entered the precinct of Nagasaki and I
can remember a peculiar smell. A stink of burning and carrion. The
train went rather slow, the rails were not damaged as they were below
normal ground level, but it gave us the opportunity to see what has
happened. We were travelling through a desolate wasteland, everything
looked like pulverised dust and on the hills on either side of the
valley were skeleton-like trees all flattened out and pointing away
from us. On the low wasteland were curious looking things like hardened
lumps of cement. We realised these were skulls and bones and other
remains which weren't obliterated completely.
excitement about going home most of us quieted down. We slowly moved on
and approached a makeshift railway station put up by the Americans. The
platforms were still in good order and the ruins of the buildings were
bulldozed away and the US Seabees had erected a reception centre
especially for the ex-prisoners of war. As soon as the train stopped
everyone jumped out and what a reception we received.
Navy band burst out in the diverse national anthems. First the
American, next "God save the King" and finally "Wilhelmus" the Dutch
anthem. We were quite a hard bitten lot (otherwise we wouldn't have
survived) but this was too much. Men were unashamed crying like
There were dozens of American Navy girls and Red Cross
women and they couldn't do enough for us. They handed out doughnuts and
Coca-Cola and we were really sort of mothered. After a while we were
gradually shepherded into lines for registration and that gave some
light-hearted moments as well. Everything had to be done in English and
that was quite difficult for those Dutchmen who didn't have much of the
British language. One fellow's name was Corporal so he was registered
as corporal Rudy (he was a sailor 2nd class) the next sailor's name
happened to be "Admiraal" so the registering clerk jumped up and said:
"You better go over there Sir, that is the reception line for
officers". We had a good laugh about it.
Next we were ordered
into a passage between rooms and told to discard all our clothing and
things and to put personal things of solid matter like spoons and other
metal articles into little metal crates to be fumigated. Everything
else was going to be incinerated. There went our nice new uniforms
ex-airdrop, there went all the Kimonos the boys had bartered for their
sweethearts. Samurai swords, Japanese pipes and so on were 0.K.
had to walk through successive showers, lukewarm, gradually warmer and
we were grabbed by a couple of medical orderlies who gave a good scrub
down, shampoo and so on. Rinse and another couple gave a rubdown and
drying off. A couple with powder puffs and then we were ushered into
another cubicle where medical doctors gave us a check over. For some
boys it was quite embarrassing as some doctors were females. Something
unheard of in the pre-war services.
After the final 0.K. we went
past counters to be dressed and outfitted again. Underpants size such,
singlets size so and so on. Three of each, shirts, trousers, caps, the
works. All brand new American Army issue.
When we emerged into
the "clean" section of the recovery building we were ambushed by more
Red Cross ladies who supplied us with "comfort bags", a bag containing
articles normally kept in a toilet bag: comb, shaving gear, hair oil,
container with soap, shampoo, flannel. Then again past tables carrying
food, drink, snacks.
It was really too much at once. It was a
world totally different to what we were accustomed to. Our previous
masters were real slave drivers, everything had to be done in a hurry,
on the run. We were always on the alert, looking over our shoulder to
see whether anybody was chasing you up. And now this was like a very
leisurely Sunday afternoon. Take your time, mate, help yourself to
whatever you like or fancy.
However, everything comes to an end
and we were very gradually guided to an entrance ramp of a medium size
aircraft carrier: "USS CENANGO" which was moored close by the reception
centre. What really made a big impression on me was that there was not
a Japanese in sight. Everywhere American men and women in uniform.
board we were directed down into the hangar deck and this was
completely refurbished with hundreds of camping stretchers with pillow
and blanket each. Over the Tannoy (P.A. System) were announcements
about the mealtimes and the location of the different galleys and heads
(toilets). It was a bit confusing for a lot of the Dutch, but there
were sufficient English-speaking Navy men who could translate and
explain to their fellow ex-POWs.
It was great to meet up with my
mates from Fukuoka 2. Harry Z. was in Fukuoka 2 till the end of the war
and he told us about the actual "Bomb". The camp was well outside the
direct danger zone but buildings facing the direction of Nagasaki had
walls collapsing and roofs blown off. A ferry boat on the way from
Nagasaki was completely lifted out of the water and finished up about
120 metres inland. The boys were not allowed out of the camp because of
the radiation danger and they were very surprised that we had been
adventuring all over the countryside.
Herman H. (Sam) was
transferred to a coalmine about two months after I left and he had
quite a difficult and dangerous time working in the mine on very low
rations. Thankfully we all survived and we soon had our stretchers
re-organised so we were together again.
M. Graham, 1998 (Cal lives not too far from us in northwest Oregon. He
shipped to Japan in July 1944 [on the Canadian Inventor]
and was sent
to Omuta Camp #17. From there he saw the mushroom cloud on that fateful
in Nagasaki. See
his article here, and also a
broadcast transcript on Larry King Live with Tom Brokaw.)
This is a true narrative by Sargeant
Graham, who tells of his amazing life of survival in the Pacific
Theater during World War II. He starts with the peaceful life on a
tripical island before the start of the war. He tells of battling the
jungle conditions as well as the enemy during the battle of Bataan,
then the battle of Corregidor and of being overwhelmed and captured by
the enemy. He takes the reader through his three-and-one-half years in
a prisoner of war camp under the inhumane treatment of the Japanese.
Then the wonderful feeling of the return to freedom. It is a gripping
true story of terrible atrocities told in a light and casual way.
I Solemnly Swear,
Robert Morris Brown,
1957 (Excerpt telling of his arrival
I have in my possession an
first edition of the book "I Solemly Swear", written by my cousin, Sgt.
Robert Morris Brown (1912 - 1998), in 1957. It is the true story of his
experiences as a Japanese POW. Captured on Correigidor, he is a
survivor of the Oryoku Maru. The book was not
widely circulated at the time and is now almost impossible to find. He
goes into great detail about both Japanese and American attrocities in
the camps and on the prison ships, including black-marketeering,
treason, vampirism, and cannibalism. Near the end of the book he talks
about his experiences in Moji and Fukuoka. He tells the names and
ultimate fate of many of the men who were with him, which may or may
not be known. Before his death, I asked him if he belonged to any POW
organizations, but he replied that he "was not a joiner."
I have made it into an eBook. It is
$12.00. -- Richard H. Goms Jr., 320 Gordon Lane #E11, Salt Lake City,
Here is a description of the book from the
I SOLEMNLY SWEAR by ROBERT MORRIS
"VANDERBILT" BROWN with DONALD PERMENTER
Perhaps no story to come out of World War
can match for sheer drama and horror the tale of "Vanderbilt" Brown.
A GI captured by the Japs in the fall of
Corregidor, he spent more than three years in Japanese Hellcamps as a
prisoner of war. To his humiliation, on Corregidor after its collapse,
Brown suffered the degrading experience of being a lackey to the
notorious Sergeant John David Provoo, who was later convicted of
treason, then released on a technicality.
Accused on Corregidor of himself being a
traitor, and with his life threatened by fellow American prisoners,
Brown, in desperation, posed as a member of the Vanderbilt family.
Though this ruse worked effectively for his self-protection as a
prisoner, Brown returned from the dead only to find the ghosts of
prison camp days waiting for him.
Here, in his own words, is the true,
realistic account of his experiences-of the prison camps where men
traded their souls for a cup of rice crawling with weevils; of the
doomed prison ship Oryoku Maru, where maddened
Americans practiced cannibalism and even vampirism on their own
comrades in order to stay alive one more day; of the Japanese "water
torture," to which most prisoners preferred death; and of the heroes
and traitors, the informers and black-marketeers, the dedicated nurses
and resolute chaplains, jammed together in soul-rotting misery. . . .
But it is as a probing of the deepest
of man's inhumanity to man that I SOLEMNLY SWEAR has its greatest value
for us today. For it also indicates that not even hell can crush the
human spirit altogether.
Rattray...", Meg Parkes, 2002
A story of survival during WWII,
Alec Rattray..." tells of two captivities - one, a young Scottish
soldier held by the Japanese in Java and Japan, and the other his
relatives back home in Britain.
Capt. Atholl Duncan, Argyll &
Highlanders, was taken prisoner in Java in March 1942, aged 23. His
fiance, Elizabeth Glassey was a medical student at St. Andrews
university. For three and a half years he was held first in Tandjong
Priok in Java then Motoyama, Zentsuji and Miyata prison camps in Japan.
Covering the three years 1941-43, it tells of his arrival in peacetime
Singapore and events as they unfolded.
Written by Meg Parkes using Atholl's secret
diaries and their correspondence, she lets them tell their story in
their own words. The book contains dozens of illustrations -
photographs, maps, drawings, cards, letters, documents and even lists
of names and addresses of fellow prisoners.
"Notify Alec Rattray..." will be invaluable
those who are searching for information about their relatives who were
prisoners of war in the Far East. Fully indexed with a foreword is
written by Major (Retd) Alastair Campbell A&SH. To order,
Duane Heisinger, 2003
of Bataan, Joseph Q. Johnson, 2004
Fallen, Marc Landas, 2004
A Long March Home, Clarence K.
An Angel on My Shoulder, Geoffrey
Under Fire, John A. Glusman, 2005
at My Heels: A Heroic Olympian's Astonishing Story of Survival As a
Pow in World War II, Louis Zamperini,
On May 27, 1943, Louis Zamperini's B-24
the Pacific Ocean. Louis and two other survivors found a raft amid the
wreckage and waited for rescue. Instead, they drifted two thousand
miles for forty-seven days. Their only food: two shark livers and three
raw albatross. Their only fresh water: sporadic rainfall.
On the forty-seventh day, close to death, Zamperini
captured by the Japanese. Thus began more than two years of torture and
humiliation as a prisoner of war.
Zamperini survived and returned home a hero. The
celebration was short-lived -- he plunged into drinking and the depths
of rage and despair. It would take years, but with the love of his wife
and the power of faith he was able to stop the nightmares that haunted
him, overcome the drinking that imprisoned him, and lay to rest the
ghosts of war.
A stirring memoir from one of the greatest of "the
Generation," here is a living document about the brutality of war, the
tenacity of the human spirit, and the power of forgiveness.
Louis Zamperini appears regularly before
from primary schools to colleges, veterans groups, troubled youth,
sports clubs, senior citizens, and religious organizations. Zamperini
is eighty-six, lives in Hollywood, California, and only recently gave
Horyo: Memoirs of an American Pow, Richard M.
Gordon, Benjamin S.
Knights of Bushido, Lord Russell,
memoirs -- SURVIVOR: An American soldier's heartfelt story of intense fighting, surrender, and survival from Bataan to Nagasaki, Francisco L. Lovato, 2008 -- Here's what his son wrote me some time back:
I am searching for an English
speaking person to discuss a segment of my father's book on his
experiences as a prisoner of war in the POW camp Fukuoka Camp # 1. He
was in the camp for about one year prior to the end of the war. He
witnessed the sad fire bombing of Fukuoka and related how at the end of
the war Fukuoka women and children came to the camp with chickens for
eggs and began the process of peace. My father and his men gave the
happy children chocolate candy bars and their mothers food that was
dropped by parachute two weeks following the war. All of the stories
are emotionally moving. I would love to communicate with anyone that
also remembered those times. Photos of the site would also be greatly
Thanks to your info, Dad and I spoke with
Parrott last week for about 30 minutes. Hearing the two of them talk
about common events and Japanese guards was remarkable. They do not
remember each other specifically. Mr. Parrott was at the Fukuoka 1 camp
for only about three months while he recovered from a foot injury, then
was returned to the Mitsui coal mine Camp 17 at Omuta. My father was
originally at the coal mines but was transferred to Camp Number 1
following a severe beating and death threat by a Mitsui overlord (work
boss). I will send you the completed story in about one month. I am
still editing the last review with my father.
Dad said Fukuoka Camp 1 was located about
miles from the town center in a foothill area where a stream/small
river passed through. The railroad tracks that led to the loading docks
by the port crossed over that same stream. He also said that nearby
there were cliffs that they were ordered to dig out caves large enough
for a small airplane to be launched out of with rocket propulsion. As
they dug the caves out of the rock and dirt they dumped it into the sea
straight out the front of the cave. They were never made operational as
the war ended before they could build the "flying bombs".
I would like to get the story of the
children who visited the camp the day after the war was over and were
treated to Hershey chocolate and Juicy Fruit gum published in the
Fukuoka newspaper. The next day the childrens mothers and grandfathers
came to the camp with chickens for eggs. The beginning of peace and
forgiveness. Chocoletto kudasai!
Building for War - The Epic Saga of the Civilian Contractors and Marines of Wake Island in WWII by Bonita Gilbert (2012) - a thorough account dealing with the background of the civilian contractors on Wake Island.
The Sea and Poison (Umi to Dokuyaku),
Shusaku Endo (fiction)
The Fallen: A True Story of American POWs
Wartime Atrocities, Marc Landas, 2004
When a rumor first crossed Special Agent
Cheles's desk in November 1945, there was no way to imagine the horror
he would soon discover. Determined to uncover the truth behind an
informant's report of a downed B-29 plane--and the assertion that one
or more of the survivors had perished at the hands of local
villagers--Cheles ultimately learned that nine soldiers had been
captured and placed in the custody of the infamous Kempei Tai, the
much-feared Japanese police. Further details surfaced about American
POWs and their shocking fate. A benign investigation eventually
exploded into the most sensational war crimes trial to come out of
The Fallen at last reveals the
story of these terrifying war crimes, which grew out of the
little-known inner workings of Japan's World War II biological warfare
program. In frank, riveting detail, Marc Landas unravels the story of
thirty-nine American POWs who were beheaded by the Japanese military;
of the B-29 crew, who suffered an even worse fate at the hands of
Japanese scientists; and of the sole American survivor, Marvin Watkins,
who refused to forget about his lost comrades even when his own country
simply wanted to move on.
Drawing on meticulous research, Landas deftly traces
course of the investigation, from the elaborate cover-up by Japanese
soldiers to Watkins's return to occupied Japan and his role in
uncovering the crew's ultimate fate. Landas reveals the wretched
conditions of Japanese POW camps, the astonishing witness testimony at
the trial, and the awful truth about the missing G.I.s--that they had
served as guinea pigs in unspeakable experiments by Japanese doctors.
Landas pieces together the crewmen's horrific fate and in the process
sheds new light on Japan's biological warfare program during World War
To compound the tragedy, the U.S. authorities
convicted perpetrators for political gain. Landas explains how the push
to establish a lasting friendship with Japan led to the cover-up of
data and the granting of clemency. The result today is that the
Japanese war crimes tribunal--and, indeed, the Americans who gave their
lives--have all but been forgotten.
The Fallen at last reveals the
about an episode that both Japanese and American authorities would
rather have us overlook, offering an appalling, eye-opening tale of
misguided science, corrupt justice, and man's inhumanity.
Japan's Imperial Conspiracy, David Bergamini,
The Yamato Dynasty: The Secret History of
Sterling and Peggy Seagrave, 1999
Gold Warriors, Sterling and Peggy
2002 (Sequel to The
"The Seagraves have uncovered one of
biggest secrets of the Twentieth Century." --- Iris Chang, author of The
Rape of Nanking
It has taken Holocaust victims nearly six
to recover assets stolen by the Nazis and hidden by Swiss banks, and to
win compensation for slave labor at German companies like Volkswagon
and Bertelsman. This success has encouraged victims of Japanese
aggression to come forth with valid demands for similar compensation.
But these victims of Japan are being stonewalled by the White House and
the State Department.
In 1951, since the signing of the San
Peace Treaty ending the war with Japan, these victims have been denied
all rights to compensation. The Treaty falsely declared that Japan was
unable to pay significant reparations because the country was bankrupt
by the war. Every president since Harry Truman has steadfastly backed
up this assertion. As U.S. Ambassador to Tokyo, Thomas Foley declared
in 1998, "The peace treaty put aside all claims against Japan." Foley
now works as a paid consultant to Mitsubishi, helping them to block
private legal actions being brought against the global enterprise by
While denialists maintain that Hirohito was
of peaceful intentions who was manipulated by wicked advisors, the
emperor personally authorized assassinations, was fully aware of
medical experimentation on prisoners of war, and personally approved
the policy of systematic looting of Asia. As Hoshino Naoki, head of the
imperial heroin monopoly, reminded the emperor at a meeting of the
Imperial Headquarters Liaison Conference: "There are no restrictions on
us. We can do anything we want."
Although many books have been published
Nazi looting and economic conspiracy, records of Japan's looting and
economic conspiracy have been removed from Western archives and remain
under secret classification. Millions of victims who were robbed,
enslaved and abused by the Japanese cannot get records on what they
know to have happened to them. GOLD WARRIORS is the only book devoted
completely to the history of Japan's looting of Asia.
GOLD WARRIORS lifts the veil of secrecy,
on thousands of pages of original documents and thousands of hours of
interviews with eyewitnesses, confidential government sources, victims,
financial experts and lawyers fighting to gain compensation and redress
for Japan's war crimes. Twenty years of research back up this
investigation of Japan's systematic looting of Asia, concluding with
startling new evidence explaining why Japan has never paid significant
compensation to her victims.
Drawing on thousands of pages of original
documents and thousands of hours of interviews with eyewitnesses,
victims, financial experts and lawyers fighting to gain compensation
and redress for Japan's war crimes, the Seagraves expose one of the
great state secrets of the Twentieth Century. GOLD WARRIORS is
available exclusively at www.bowstring.net.
The signed edition is available with two CDs containing thousands of
pages of documents and photographs assembled in the course of the
Magic: The Untold Story of U.S. Intelligence and the
Evacuation of Japanese
Residents from the West Coast during WW II, David D. Lowman,
In late 1940 members of the U.S.
Signal Intelligence Service broke Japan's highest level diplomatic code
and then constructed a machine that was an analog of the one used by
the Japanese. This allowed the U.S. to read Japan's diplomatic traffic
from then until after the end of the war. Intelligence thus gained was
cover named MAGIC because it seemed that only
magicians could have produced it.
Among the decoded messages of 1941 were a
detailing espionage planning and operations involving
Japanese-Americans along the West Coast. In February 1942 President
Roosevelt authorized the evacuation of all persons of Japanese ancestry.
In 1983 a congressional commission,
available declassified intelligence and ignorant of MAGIC revelations,
concluded the President's action was the result of racism, war hysteria
and lack of political will.
Now for the first time David D. Lowman,
MAGIC messages and declassified Army, Navy and FBI reports, presents
the real reasons for the evacuation. As a former high level officer in
the National Security Agency and a witness before congressional
committees dealing with the evacuation he was uniquely qualified to
tell this story. Those who could never quite believe the base motives
attributed to our wartime leaders and our country will find Lowman's
BOOKS IN JAPANESE:
Disgrace: The Truth of the Kyushu University Vivisection
"Kyudai Seitai Kaibo Jiken" no Shinso), Toshio
Tono, 1979, 1998,
Vivisection: The Kyushu University Medical
Kaibo: Kyushu Daigaku Igakubu Jiken), Fuyuko
Kamisaka, 1982, Chuo
[NOTE: Dr. Tono does not have a very high opinion of this
The Bell of Peace (Heiwa no Kane),
Hiroshi Kudo, 1996 [About
B-29 crash memorial in Takachiho]
A Bridge Across the Pacific Ocean: Beyond the
of a POW Camp
(Taiheiyo ni Kakeru Hashi: Horyo Shuyojo no Higeki wo Koete),
Joetsu Japan-Australia Society, 1996 [Tokyo #4 Naoetsu]
Preserving Peace: Beyond the Tragedy of Naoetsu
Camp (Heiwa wo
Mamoru: Naoetsu Horyo Shuyojo no Higeki wo Koete),
Board of Education, 1997 [Tokyo #4 Naoetsu]
At a Mine in a Strange Land: A Record of Forced
at the Mitsui Yamano
Coal Mine (Ikyo no Yama: Mitsui Yamano-ko Kyosei Rodo no Kiroku),
Kaichosha, 2000 [Fukuoka #8 Inatsuki]
Japanese War Crimes: Murder Under the Sun, Lou
& E Entertainment, 2000) [Soon to be in Japanese!]
Undercover: The Bataan Death March, A & E
Home Video, 2000
My Sons: The Story of the Arisan Maru,
Brittan Productions for Westar Entertainment, 1997
Island (1942), Universal Studios, 2001
Came Home (1950), Gotham Distribution, 2002
Road, 20th Century Fox, 1997 ("Set in World War II
women imprisoned by the Japanese seek solace from the horror of their
imprisonment by forming a vocal orchestra.")
of Survival, Janson Associates, 1985 -- The
documentary version of
They survived three-and-a-half years
Japanese prison camp in Sumatra during World War II. But these
courageous women had something special going for them: the great music
of Beethoven, Schubert and Chopin. Having no instruments but the human
voice, they recreated from memory the complex symphonic music they had
loved. Even as disease and malnutrition thinned their ranks, these
Australian, Dutch and British women - missionaries, teachers, nuns,
wives and children - used their unique choir to sustain a spirit that
refused to accept defeat. Here is their remarkable story, told by the
survivors themselves, aided by rare archival footage
End All Wars, 2001,
Argyll Film Partners
of the Sun, 2004, Uav Corporation (original
Brian A. Williams (writer / producer of Blood
was kind enough to share with us the following:
Blood Oath is based on a true
about my father, John Williams who was the Army prosecutor (Captain
Cooper/ Bryan Brown) of the largest war crimes trial of alleged B and C
class Japanese criminals. The trial of 91 officers and men was
commenced on Ambon in January 1946 and completed in March 46 on Morotai
island. Over 50% of the accused Japanese were acquitted, a testament to
the extraordinary application of the presumption of innocence by the
Australian War Crimes tribunals who supervised the trials. Even more
extraordinary when one considers that the Ambon camp
had the highest POW mortality rate i.e 75%, of any of the POW camps run
by the Japanese in South East Asia. --> Read
Rescue, Paramount Home Video, 2005 (PBS page
XIV. POW Issues
Lester Tenney (see the chapter
on the Death March from his book) is the first American
ex-POW to bring
a lawsuit against a Japanese company asking for compensation for forced
during his captivity in Japan. He visited us in December 1999 and we
down to where the largest POW camp in Kyushu once stood -- Omuta Camp
He often comes to Japan to give lectures. Following are some letters
articles telling about his lawsuit and visit to Omuta. Also included is
speech to the U.S. Senate and letter to former President Clinton.
Tenney's Letter to Center for Internee Rights magazine
August 18th, 1999
Upon advice of my council, I have been unable to tell
until now about
my legal confrontations with the Japanese Company Mitsui, regarding my
labor, personal damages and the need for an apology. As you may recall,
is the corporation that owned the coalmines in Japan where I was forced
work under inhumane conditions during my years as a POW.
At 8:30 a.m. on August 11th, 1999, my Attorneys filed a
Lawsuit on my behalf
in the Superior Court of Los Angeles County, California. One of the
we decided to take this Action was Senate Bill 1245, which eliminated
Statue of Limitations for those cases involved with slave labor. This
Legislation was signed into Law by the Governor of California on July
A very important, but perhaps overlooked provision of
Law is that
it allows not only survivors of Japanese POW camps to bring an action,
also specifically allows heirs of survivors to bring actions.
The Law Firm representing me is Herman, Middleton, Casey
national Law Firm that has a large number of outstanding trial lawyers
a number of states. The members of this firm have successfully sued
national and multinational corporations, including the tobacco
the asbestos industry and Exxon in the Oil Spill Litigation.
As you know, a lot of the corporations that used POW
some of the largest companies in the world today, such as Mitsui,
Steel Corporation and others. It is clear that the requirement, both
and research expertise, needed to successfully sustain lawsuits of this
requires a firm with substantial resources at their disposal, and I
such a law-firm.
I realize the impact this Bill and my Lawsuit means to
POW or their
heirs and because of that I hereby give you permission to share this
with members of CFIR, so that they may benefit from these events.
With best personal regards, I remain
Newspaper article re lawsuit (Aug. 13, 1999)
U.S. ex-POW sues Mitsui
Visit to Omuta
Tenney overlooking former site of Omuta POW Camp #17
NishiNihon Shinbun (West Japan Newspaper)
December 9, 1999
Lester & Betty
news conference in Omuta
DECEMBER 8 -- 58 YEARS FROM THE START OF THE WAR
FORMER AMERICAN POW VISITS OMUTA
"MITSUI'S RESPONSIBILITY HAS NOT DISAPPEARED"
Former college professor from the U.S., Lester Tenney
the 8th, after
54 years, visited Omuta City's old Mitsui Miike Mine site where he
in forced labor during WWII.
At a press conference which was held afterwards at Omuta
made his appeal: "Mitsui profited from the forced labor, and for its
honor it must apologize."
Tenney told how he became a POW as a soldier in the
Philippines and then
was forced to work in the mine from September 1943 until the end of the
"We had to dig tunnels using dynamite, very dangerous work. We were
to work 12 hours a day. I started out weighing 85Kg, but when I was set
I was only 40Kg," said Tenney, looking back on the harsh labors in the
In July of this year, a new law was enacted by the State
lengthening the statute of limitations for seeking war reparations by
forced to work during WWII. Tenney in August filed a lawsuit with the
Court asking for compensation from the Mitsui Mining Company.
In regards to his lawsuit Tenney remarked, "Even though
mine has closed down, Mitsui's responsibility for the inhumane use of
for forced labor has not disappeared."
Also read Medical
Officer Hewlett's account in which he describes the various
maladies that afflicted Camp 17 POWs.
Louis Goldbrum was at Camp #17 and wrote: "I was
this camp and worked in the Mitsui coal mine for two years. My number
was 45, I came with the original 500 Americans on the Mati Mati Maru.
Because the good Lord selected me to be one who survived and returned
home from a living hell, I am dedicated to help those who are in need
of help and teach the Cost of Freedom to youngsters
who are fortunate to be born Americans and take freedom for granted. I
have formed and coordinate The Former POW Speakers Bureau,
at the VA Hospital in West Palm Beach, Florida. We visit schools and
talk about The Cost of Freedom to the students. It
is very gratifying to get the attention and response after speaking and
answering the multitude of questions from them. Hello to any former
Camp #17 survivors. I wish you well. Goldy, yon ju go ban"
Article by Clarence Graham who was
a POW at Omuta #17 and saw the A-bombing of Nagasaki.
Tenney's Speech to U.S. Senate
Dear Friends and Family:
I am taking this opportunity and method of sharing with
some new developments
in my fight for the POW issue.
I have been asked by Senator Hatch to be a witness at a
Hearing this coming Wednesday on POW issues. I had to prepare a written
that I am to give at the hearing, and I thought you may find the speech
interesting. It once again shouts out loud my feelings and gives you an
into what makes me tick.
Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing
On Prisoner of War Victims of the Bataan Death March
June 28, 2000 at 10:00 A.M.
By Lester I. Tenney
Ladies and Gentlemen of the Senate.
here today in the presence of this
prestigious body of lawmakers is a most humbling experience. I am
honored to have been asked to be a part of this momentous and historic
In early 1942 I, along with 12,000 other Americans who
defending our country on the Bataan Peninsular, were promised from our
supplies, food and reinforcements so that we could continue our defense
the Philippines. As history has shown, the promise made by our
was never fulfilled. During one of President Roosevelt's Fire Side
made in February of 1942, we sat in our Tanks and listened as our
informed the American people that, "in every war there are those who
be sacrificed for the benefit of the whole war effort." We suddenly
he was talking about us! We were being sacrificed, abandoned for the
of the over-all War effort. Well Senators, we were able to live with
after all we were proud young men and women serving our country, and we
an oath to protect our country at all costs.
But on April 9, 1942 we, the defenders of Bataan were
surrendered to the
Imperial Japanese Army and we found ourselves prisoners of war. I would
to share with you what exactly it means to be a prisoner of war. First
all you are stripped of every human right you thought you had. You are
reminded of the fact that you are cowards, you are lower than dogs, and
have no rights whatsoever. You are humiliated beyond belief and your
and morals are challenged on a daily basis. Sickness and diseases like
malaria, beriberi, scurvy and pellagra run rampant in your body. The
of death is everywhere; it lingers in your nostrils for what seems like
lifetime. Many of the survivors have stated that they would have
death rather than captivity by the Japanese if they had known ahead of
what was going to happen.
Now here we are 58 years later, survivors of these
events, and we are once again informed that we are again being
and abandoned by our own Government, but this time not for the War
but instead for the benefit of those large Japanese industrial giants
profited from our slave labor. I must say, I once again feel that I
been taken prisoner, but this time by my own country. My dignity and
are slowly being diluted. The Japanese beat me with guns and swords, my
is beating me down with words. Please allow me to explain. Last year
State of California decided to seek justice for those veterans who were
by the Japanese and made prisoners of war. The California Legislature
passed a statute that was enacted into law allowing claims for
for those veterans who were used as slave laborers to go forward in the
irrespective of the running of the statute of limitations. Pursuant to
law, I, along with many other former POWs who were enslaved by Japanese
during World War II, have since filed lawsuits seeking equality and
Shockingly, the U.S. Department of Justice has recently
a court submission,
the effect of which would nullify the action of the California
Legislature in seeking to open up State courts for
POWs who are
pursuing fair compensation for back wages and injuries suffered at the
of the many private profit-seeking industrial giants of Japan. Equally
distressing is the fact that the same Justice Department has taken a
off" position with regards to the same treaty issue as that of the
This is incomprehensible to me, especially as our
in recent years
awarded reparations to Japanese American citizens, (thousands, who were
classified as Japanese spies and Japanese sympathizers, were also
this compensation) who were placed into relocation centers during World
II. In addition, I am happy to say our Government worked diligently to
resolve the claims brought by victims of German atrocities during the
of World War II.
I am speaking as one of the survivors of the Bataan
March who survived
the atrocities of a barbaric group of victors. The beatings and torture
went through on a daily basis was not half as formidable as having to
as the Japanese victors shot, bayoneted, buried alive or decapitated
friends who unfortunately were unable to continue the March, and we
then forced to witness these slayings.
After surviving the Bataan March, I was taken to Japan
Hell ship. Once
there I became a slave laborer in a coal mine owned by Mitsui. I was
to shovel coal 12 hours a day 28 days a month, for over two years. And
reward I received for this hard labor was; beatings by the civilian
in the mine. The reason for these beatings was because I did not work
enough, did not shovel enough coal that day, or because the Americans
an important battle. We got to know how the War was progressing by the
and severity of the beatings, and the beatings were usually with a
a hammer or a chain, whatever the Mitsui overseers in the mine were
to get their hands on.
Now I, along with many of my former POW friends, are
the Japanese companies that placed us into servitude. Our plight for
of this wrong has been studiously ignored by our own government, and
we are slowly coming to the end of our lives and we would like
to see swift justice done on our behalf. We would like to gain back our
and dignity, and have our country, in some small way, make amends for
to fulfill their previous obligations and promises.
I feel as if I am once again being sacrificed, abandoned
for the War
effort as in the past, but for the benefit of Japanese big business. We
being abandoned by our Department of Justice and our judicial system. I
you Senators, use your position within our government to correct this
and to have our Justice Department turn away from this misguided course
action. We need all segments of our government to accept responsibility
their deeds and their actions.
The court papers recently filed by the Justice
the court proceeding
(U.S.D.C., N.D. Case No. C000064) effectively takes away our right for
of a wrong perpetrated against us by a guilty and negligent Japanese
giant who used us as their slaves, without compensation, without caring
our well being and without controlling the actions of their employees.
The Justice Department erroneously or negligently issued
to the courts of our Nation, omitting the most crucial issue of the San
Peace Treaty, which the Justice Department was asked to review, Section
known as, "The Most Favored Nation Clause," which states, "Should Japan
a peace settlement or war claims settlement with any State granting
State greater advantages than those provided by the present Treaty,
same advantages shall be extended to the parties to the present
Records of our State Department show that at least six other nations
been granted more favorable treaty terms than those given to the United
Article 26 when properly interpreted allows victims of forced or slave
to seek recovery for the wrong perpetrated against former prisoners of
during WW II. Yet, the Justice Department studiously ignores it in its
of interest and mentions not one word about Article 26, even though it
been briefed on this issue.
Thank you Senators for listening to my statement about
responsibility. We served our country with honor, we have had our share
injustice and now we seek responsibility from our government.
Letter to former President Clinton
To my friends and family members who have been kind enough to be
in my lawsuit against Mitsui Mining, I thought you may be interested to
my letter to President Clinton.
Thanks for being there for me.
Lester I. Tenney
Professor Emeritus, Arizona State University
1645 Caminito Asterisco La Jolla, CA 92037
October 2, 2000
Dear Mr. President:
Your personal letter to me a few years ago made a
change in my life
and restored my pride in knowing that what we accomplished on Bataan
what we went through while on the Bataan Death March would not be
(I have taken the liberty of enclosing a copy of your letter to me.)
Mr. President, as you are aware, while we were defending
Bataan, our government
was forced to sacrifice us for the benefit of the over-all war effort.
the surrender of the Philippines, we were taken to Japan and placed
servitude with many different Japanese companies. We received only
food to work another day. Our medical care was practically non-existent
company employees often beat us. Some of us were injured severely or
due to the unsafe conditions in the coalmines, copper, lead and zinc
or at the factories in which we were enslaved. The death rate for POW's
Japan was 37.3 per cent.
Knowing the history of our servitude and understanding
our cause of
action is not against Japan as a nation, nor the Japanese people, why
the State Department now bending over backwards protecting the very
industrial giants that enslaved us during WW II? Just last month in the
where our case is being heard, our State Department took it upon
to argue on behalf of the Japanese companies. I cannot describe the
I had when my own government submitted voluminous briefs in favor of
industrial giants, and I was shocked to have to witness my own
attorneys arguing in the courtroom for dismissal of my lawsuit and they
this as a friend of the Japanese companies that had brutally enslaved
and thousands of other Americans.
I was proud that the United States chose to champion the
of those victims
that were enslaved by the German Companies during the years of the
and to know that our government helped to achieve a victory for justice
set an example for the world to follow. But what I cannot understand is
the United States has turned its back on its own citizens that were
by Japanese companies and has gone to great lengths to legally assist
companies in their fight against we Americans.
After all these years, we victims of Japanese brutality
are at last seeking an apology and some form of restitution for the
perpetrated against us by these private profit seeking Japanese
Mr. President, are we once again being sacrificed by our own
but this time for the benefit of those very Japanese companies whose
were made by forcing American citizens into slavery under inhumane
We are once again having our dignity and pride stripped
us. And in addition,
our freedom and constitutional rights as citizens of the United States
also being taken away. I will not burden you, Mr. President, with the
of the action taken by the bureaucrats at the State Department, except
say that it very clear that the State Department has studied this issue
a cursory and political manner without considering any duty to U.S.
We survivors of Bataan and Corregidor need your help, and we need it
We are all witnessing a severe decline in our health due in large part
our being placed into servitude by these large Japanese companies.
to say, our ranks are rapidly dwindling due to age and infirmity.
Please don't once again allow our country to abandon us.
in and make
your voice heard on the issue of our seeking restitution from those
industrial giants that tortured and enslaved us. Our Senate introduced
'Hatch POW Resolution ' through the support and effort of Senator Hatch
Senator Feinstein, and our Congress, through the efforts of Congressman
introduced the 'Gilman POW Resolution.' These mirror image bills
to encourage our State Department to seek support for our cause and to
to facilitate discussions designed to resolve all issues between we
and the Japanese companies who benefited from our slave labor. Please
President, don't fail us now.
Thank you in advance for whatever you can do to help us
this hour of need.
Author of "My Hitch in Hell: The Bataan Death March"
Tenney article at ABC-NEWS. He appeared both on 20/20
25) and ABC Evening News (May 27, 2001).
FIRMS NAMED IN 25 SLAVE LABOR CASES
FILED IN THE US AS OF 05/12/00
California Portland Cement
Chichibu Onoda Cement Corp.
Irvine Scientific Sales Co. Inc.
Ishihara Sangyo Kaisha Ltd.
Ishikawajimi Harima Industries Co. Ltd.
Ishihara Corp. USA
ISK Americas, Inc.
Japan Energy Corp.
Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd.
Lone Star Northwest Inc.
Mitsui & Co.
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Americas Inc.
Mitsubishi International Corp.
Mitsubishi Materials USA Corp.
Mitsui Bussan Kaisha
Mitsui Engineering & Shipbuilding Co. Ltd.
Mitsui International Corp.
Mitsui Mining USA Ltd.
Nippon Sharyo USA Ltd.
Nippon Steel Trading Co. Ltd.
Nippon Steel USA Inc.
Onoda California Inc.
Onoda Cement Co. Ltd.
Onoda USA, Inc.
Scientific Sales Co. Inc.
Sumitomo Heavy Industries Ltd.
Taiheiyo Cement Corp.
Taiheiyo Cement USA Inc.
SOURCE: AXPOW Association
You may follow the progress on POW lawsuits at
by WW II Victims.
U.S. House paves
for POW lawsuits
July 21, 2001
WASHINGTON (Kyodo) -- The U.S. House of
has passed by an overwhelming majority a budget provision barring the
administration from blocking former U.S. prisoners of war from filing
slave-labor compensation lawsuits against Japanese companies.
The provision, which cleared the lower chamber
Wednesday by a 395 to 33 vote, bars the State and Justice departments
from using government money to oppose slave-labor lawsuits on grounds
that the United States has given up compensation claims against Japan
under the San Francisco peace treaty.
The Senate has yet to act on the measure, which
sponsored by in the House of Representatives by Congressman Dana
The U.S. State Department has submitted briefs to
courts in support of the Japanese government's rejection of lawsuits on
the grounds that the 1951 San Francisco treaty had settled all wartime
According to historians, about 50,000 U.S.
were taken prisoner by the Japanese during World War II. About half
were sent to Japan, where many were forced to perform hard labor,
mainly in steel mills and mines.
|The claim that Japan settled the issue of war
reparations when she signed the San Francisco Peace Treaty (hereinafter
"SFPT") is entirely groundless. In point of actual fact, the SFPT does
not settle ANY claims for reparations between Japan and the other
signatories but merely provides the machinery under which such claims
could be settled at some unspecified future time. "It is recognized,"
states the treaty, "that Japan SHOULD pay reparations to the Allied
Powers for the damage and suffering it caused during the war.
Nevertheless it is also recognized that the resources of Japan are not
PRESENTLY sufficient, if it is to maintain a viable economy, to make
complete reparation for all such damage and suffering and at the same
time meet its other obligations," (emphasis added). Furthermore, the
treaty specifies that the bilateral negotiation that Japan would
henceforth enter into with the aggrieved nations in question would be
for "the damage done," the question of punitive fines or apologies is
Second, contrary to what some have claimed,
South Korea nor the People's Republic of China were signatories to this
treaty. This is a simple indisputable historical fact. It is not
subject to interpretation of any sort. At the time the treaty was
signed, the PRC, along with the Soviet Union and India, explicitly
refused to recognize it. They viewed it for what it was, an instrument
of US imperialism and a legal codification of Japan's status as a
military vassal. That this was the case can hardly be disputed as the
US championship of the treaty was contingent on Japan accepting the
bilateral security treaty with the US that has been the cornerstone of
US Far East policy ever since.
Third, the treaty addresses only legal
between nation states. It does not touch on moral obligation, which is
most often the issue being discussed when Asian nations and their
peoples protest the policies of the Japanese government and its
ministers, and it does not touch on compensation to individuals.
Though all of these facts are certainly
perhaps the most relevant part of the treaty with regard to the recent
controversies over Japan's attitude toward its past is that by signing
it, Japan specifically accepted the judgment of the International
Military Tribunal for the Far East in a legally binding document.
Arguably, Japan rendered the entire treaty null and void when, after
the occupation ended, it commuted all of the sentences of the class A
war criminals convicted by that tribunal still serving time.
Furthermore, it does so again every time the Japanese Prime Minister
officially worships at Yasukuni Shrine as Prime Minister Nakasone did
in 1985, and Prime Minister Koizumi has promised to do this year. When
the prime minister worships in an official capacity, the Japanese
government gives official sanction to the effective rejection Yasukuni
made of the findings of the tribunal when its priests chose to enshrine
the seven class A war criminals sentenced to death by that tribunal, as
fallen martyrs and war dead.
-- From the discussion board
By EDWARD JACKFERT
Past National Commander
The Congressional legislative
for the year 2001 has ended without any favorable action taken on a
number of bills introduced in Congress which would have directly
affected those former prisoners of war of the Japanese military that
suffered immensely while being utilized as slave laborers under the
direction of Japanese industrialists during World War II. Inasmuch as
no action was taken by Congress on these bills in the year 2001, they
will be carried over to the current legislative year 2002. The
following bills that support our pursuit of justice include HR
1198 and S. 1154, Justice for United States Prisoners of War Act of
2001, S. 1272 POW Assistance Act of 2001. HR 1198 currently
has 216 cosponsors. We urge all of the prisoner of war community to
contact their congressmen and request their support of HR 1198 if you
have not already done so.
The above identified bills
introduced in an effort to assist the prisoners of war of the Japanese
military in their litigation efforts in which a complaint filed on our
behalf states that we were forced labor victims under California Code
of Civil Procedure Section 354.6. Accordingly, we believe that we are
entitled to the present value of wages and benefits that should have
been paid at the time our labors were performed. The complaint further
states that the defendants willfully and wrongfully misappropriated and
converted the value of our labor and their derivative profits into
their own property. We believe that the defendants are therefore liable
for the reasonable value of our services under established principles
of quantum meruit and international tort law. The complaint further
states that the defendants unjustly enriched themselves through free
labor of these prisoners of war therefore, we have a just and lawful
claim for the disgorgement of profits under the established principles
of unjust enrichment.
Two lawsuits against
and Mitsubishi are currently being pursued in the
Superior Court of Orange County in the state of California. Judge
William McDonald ordered the defendant companies and the plaintiffs to
enter into mediation. They are to meet every two weeks until the matter
is resolved. Many of you recently received a communication from our
legal counsel notifying you on the current status of the litigation.
An amendment to the
bill, HR 2500, of both the Justice and State
departments which was initially overwhelmingly approved by both the
House and Senate was rejected in a conference committee. This
resolution by Congressmen Rohrabacher and Honda would
have prevented these federal agencies from opposing civil law suits by
former prisoners of war against Japanese individuals and corporations.
On December 24, 2001, the New York Times published an op-ed by noted
journalist Ira Chang which referred to the Rohrabacher-Honda amendment.
This portion of the article pretty much expresses our views on the
The White House
succeeded in having the provision struck in a conference committee; the
Bush administration feared it might interfere with the gathering of
international support for the war on terrorism. A week later, on the
60th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, President Bush and his
father paid a glowing tribute to the memory of World War II veterans.
The president compared the September 11th tragedy to Japan's surprise
attack on December 7, 1941, while his father announced that 'duty,
honor, country' still prevail. This behavior reveals a stunning double
standard. The United States government aggressively supported claims of
European victims of wartime forced labor. The end result was a $5.2
billion fund to settle claims. But for the victims in the Pacific
Theater, the United States has taken the side of Japanese companies
-including Mitsubishi, Mitsui, and Nippon Steel -- against the roughly
5,000 Americans still alive of the 36,000 servicemen used as slave
labor during World War II.
Furthermore, there were two
introduced in Congress to have our government grant a $20,000 gratuity
to former prisoners of war of the Japanese military in line with other
nations of the world (Canada, Great Britain, Isle of Man, Netherlands,
Norway, and New Zealand). Senator Bingaman introduced S. 1302
in the Senate and Congressman Cox introduced HR
2835 in the House of Representatives to have our government
grant such a gratuity. No action has been taken on either piece of
legislation. In an attempt to speed up his efforts in this field,
Senator Bingaman did successfully attach a gratuity payment clause to
the Defense Authorization Bill (Section 1064). However, the officeof
Senator Bingaman informed me that Congressman Robert Stump of Arizona
strongly opposed the amendment (as he did in the year 2000) and it was
struck from the appropriations bill. Senator Bingaman strongly believes
in his effort to grant such a gratuity and will continue his efforts on
our behalf in the 108th session of Congress. Our committee will be
assisting in this effort in any way possible.
Our pursuit of justice has
acknowledged by the media throughout the world. We have had much
television, magazine, and newspaper coverage on our project. Even
Japanese public opinion favors settling World War II claims. In a study
completed recently by the University of Cincinnati, political science
student James R. Masterson revealed an analysis of Japanese public
opinion poll data which disclosed that Japanese citizens
overwhelmingly support compensation of WWII era victims. Only
15% opposes it. This stands in stark contrast to the government's
unwillingness to address the issue more than fifty years after the war.
In addition, Dr.
Tenney had the occasion of being requested to visit Japan in
the year 2001 and made a number of talks to school students in Japan.
He states that there is tremendous support by the younger generation
relative to our mistreatment by the Japanese military. During his visit
to Japan, Dr. Tenney attracted the attention of Mr. Koh Tanaka,
a prominent member of the Japanese Diet who expressed support of our
efforts in pursuit of justice for former prisoners of war who were
severely mistreated by the Japanese military and industrialists. Mr.
Tanaka informed Dr. Tenney that he would seek assistance from some of
the leaders in the Japanese financial markets on our behalf. I have
been informed that People
Magazine recently published a very informative article
which resulted from an interview with Dr. Tenney. Frank
Bigelow was also mentioned in the article. We sincerely
appreciate the devotion of Dr. Tenney on our behalf. He has done much
in the past and will continue to be a leader in our pursuit of justice.
Also, you may be assured the Legislative and Litigation Committee of
the ADBC will be very active once again in the year 2002 on your
behalf. We will not let this matter die. Justice can and will be served.
1. Mizumaki Cross Memorial
Fukuoka Camp #6, also known as Orio Camp, was
located in Mizumaki,
northeast of Fukuoka City. Since most of the POWs were Dutch, a group
ex-POWs from the Netherlands set up this gravesite memorial several
ago. You can read about Dolf
Winkler and his desire
to establish this memorial site, and the tireless efforts of
Kurokawa in making Winkler's dream become a reality. This is truly a
of how wounds can be healed. See also Dutch
Foreign Minister's visit to Mizumaki (article below). The town of Mizumaki
the Memorial Cross on its website as well. This article I
with large portrait of Winkler
of war: Dutch and Indonesian survivors).
[Dutch] Foreign Minister and other officials
visited Kyushu area to offer a prayer before the cross
turning our eyes on the dark aspect of bilateral ties between Japan and
the Netherlands, we see how much pain the war brought to both
countries. The names are engraved in our memories of the war."
above was a portion of a speech delivered by Dutch Foreign Minister Van
Aartsen on April 21 at Mizumaki Town in Fukuoka Prefecture in a heavy
rain. In front of the Cross Tower on which names of 869 ex-Dutch POWs
who died in Japan during WWI were engraved, there assembled the Foreign
Minister and 120 Dutch Navy servicemen. They were visiting Japan to
attend the commemorative event marking the 400th anniversary of
Japan-Netherlands relations and placed a wreath of flowers on the Cross
Among the ex-POWs was Dolf Winkler (83).
He was held as a POW by the Imperial Japanese Army that occupied Indonesia and brought to a coal mine at Mizumaki Town in 1944.
the war, he went back to the Netherlands and later became manager of a
designing firm. When he became 50 or so, he began suffering from
nightmares, always shouting, "Help me!" His doctor told him, "You are
still bearing the burden of the war within you."
In order to overcome the terrible memories, he made up his mind to dare to re-visit Japan.
1985, he visited the site of the coal mine where he had lost many
fellow internees. There, he found a cross still standing in the
graveyard although half-buried in the earth.
The cross was
presumably hurriedly put up as a grave marker by the mining firm after
burying the dead POWs. The mining firm did so because it feared it
might be pursued for its war responsibility. But the graveyard was left
to run wild. Winkler, in cooperation with local historical writer
Eidai Hayashi (66) and others who guided him to there, appealed to the
town government to preserve the cross well.
assistance from a civic group at Mizumaki Town, he came to visit Japan
almost every year to offer a wreath on the cross together with ex-POWs
Since 1967, the Japanese Government, as part
of its "project to bridge between Japan and the Netherlands," has
invited Dutch persons who attend the wreath-offering ceremony there.
those suffering the wounds from the war visit Japan, they can realize
the Japanese they will see with their own eyes now are different from
those in they remember from the time they were tortured by the
Japanese. This is the way I became released from the 40 years of
DAILY SUMMARY OF JAPANESE PRESS
Monday, May 15, 2000
AMERICAN EMBASSY, TOKYO
OFFICE OF TRANSLATION SERVICES
memorializing prisoners of war is at Soto Dam in Yunoki near Sasebo,
up in April 1956 by the city. The POWs were from Fukuoka Camp
located about a quarter mile above the dam construction site. In the
6 months this camp was in operation, some 65 POWs lost their lives
the construction of the dam. Read
from the affidavits of those who were there.
Junshokusha no hi,
"Monument to those who died in the line of duty"
Photo of name plaque
listing the 14 Japanese
and 31 Americans who lost their lives Photo
of top of dam . See
Profile PDF file (in Japanese only) for maps
of this site.
A new plaque was installed on May 30, 2010, which reflects an accurate list of the men who perished at
camp. See THE
SOTO DAM MEMORIAL for more information and photos.
3. Taketa "Sky Martyrs"
B-29 Crash Site: Erected on May 5, 1977, this
the 11 airmen aboard the B-29 as well as the Japanese pilot whose plane
the B-29. See here
for more about this
monument and the airmen's fate. A memorial service is held each year at
monument on May 5.
B-29 Crash Site: At 9:10am on May 7,
a B-29, the "Empire
Express," went down on Mt. Hachimen in Sanko-mura, Oita-ken, after
with a Japanese twin-engine fighter. It had just finished "bombs away"
the target, Usa Airfield, when the fighter clipped the B-29's left
There were only three survivors: T/Sgt. Edgar L. McElfresh, Sgt. Ralph
Romines, and Sgt. Otto W. Baumgarten, all from the
483rd Bomber Squadron,
505th Bomber Group, 20th Air Force Command. The "Empire Express" was
only aircraft lost out of eleven assigned to bomb Usa. Sgt. Tsutomu
the 27-year-old pilot of the fighter plane, did not survive.
The three airmen were brought to the Fukuoka Detention
HQ, and a little over a month later were taken out to meet their tragic
horrible deaths. That graphic story can be found
here. See also Michael
Berg's research on
the Empire Express and executions. For a list of
A peace monument was set up at the foot of Mt. Hachimen
initially by the
landowner, Masayoshi Kusunoki, in the early 50's as a memorial to both
Americans and the young Japanese pilot who died in the area. A larger
here) was completed in 1970 by a group of Japanese along with
officers from Itazuke Air Base. You can read
that story here. Yearly memorial services are held at this
site on May
3rd and include representatives from all over Japan, including Iwakuni
Corps Air Station, making this site the most prominent in all of
In the words of one visitor: "I've been to the Washington
to the various wars, Arlington National Cemetery, and the Nagasaki and
Atomic Bomb memorials and peace parks. None of them compare to the
on Hachimen Mountain. It is unique because it was built and maintained
a monument to U.S. soldiers on the Japanese homeland."
the face of this monument
represents a life expended in search for peace.
May this monument stand as a constant reminder of the futility of
--Inscription on the Sanko Peace Park memorial monument--
B-29 Crash Site: The B-29 that crashed here on
was enroute to Miyata POW Camp #12. It was on its final mission, loaded
relief supplies that
to be air-dropped over
the newly-liberated, and very undernourished, POWs. Unfortunately, the
never reached their intended destination, for the plane
down due to poor visibility and crashed into the side of Mt. Sobo,
all 12 crew members. (For detailed information and photos of target
sites, see the 20th Air
Force Report on POW
Supply Missions to China, Korea, Formosa, Manchuria and the Japanese
Islands. See also Relief of Prisoners of War and Internees.)
Some 900 POW supply flights were run right after the end
WWII, and most
had to fly at dangerously low altitudes over mountainous terrain, often
limited visibility. A total of 8 aircraft and 77 airmen were
Villagers nearby hurried up the mountainside in search
only found their bodies amidst the charred remains of the aircraft and
contents scattered everywhere -- clothing, medical supplies, combs and
toothbrushes, fruit juice, cocoa.
Through the efforts of many local Japanese, the "Prayer
was erected on August 26, 1995, as a memorial to those who died. Each
around the 26th of August a memorial service is held at this site in
Hiroshi Kudo has written an excellent book (in Japanese
dealing with some of the aspects of this fatal flight as well as a
Japanese fighter pilot whose plane also crashed in the Takachiho area
a few weeks earlier. This 222-page book, The Bell of Peace,
Shunsuke Ogata at
The Takachiho Community Center, 1515 Mitai, Takachiho, Miyazaki
The cost is ¥1500. You can read a
he wrote on how he discovered this crash site, as well as an assortment
of other information on this flight (including a list of the airmen)
monument on that same webpage.
B-29 Crash Site: This B-29 crashed on April
29, 1945, during
a bombing mission over Miyakonojo Airfield in Kagoshima-ken. All
aboard died in the crash; only 9 bodies were recovered and buried.
list of airmen
Outside of Kyushu, another important site is the
Peace Memorial Park
in Niigata in central Japan, built on the former site of the Naoetsu
Camp #4B. Most of the POWs there were Australians. A book
about the site
and events leading up to its construction are recorded in
Bridge Across the Pacific
Ocean. An excellent 80-page work for use in
elementary and junior
high schools was produced by the Niigata Prefectural Board of Education
1997 and titled, Preserving Peace: Beyond the Tragedy of
Naoetsu POW Camp
(Heiwa wo Mamoru: Naoetsu Horyo Shuyojo no Higeki wo Koete).
8. Japan-U.K. Friendship Monument, Mukaishima
Located east of Hiroshima where mostly British POWs were interned at
Hiroshima POW Camp #4B. For an explanation of
site, see the
flag made by POWs at this camp. Another
flag story here (PDF file).
Memorial, Fukuoka Camp #24
This camp just north of Nagasaki was "home" to over 200
British and Australian
POWs. See special page on Neil
MacPherson and Owen
Heron visit to Emukae and dedication ceremony for this
Profile PDF file for more information (Japanese only).
Memorial for Alien War Victims: Fukuoka Camp #14
For British, American, Australian, Dutch, Indonesian and
who were at Fukuoka Camp #14 -- some 300 were exposed to the A-bomb
between 50 and 60 dying. See
Profile PDF file for more information (Japanese only). (Click
for enlarged view. Images courtesy of Taeko Sasamoto.)
- Omori Peace Memorial, Tokyo:
- Kanose, Niigata: Building at
Tokyo POW Camp #16
Memorial Monument, Nagano: Tokyo POW Camp #12 (See
date 10/2/05 on this linked page)
- Iruka British POW Memorial Monument, Mie:
Nagoya POW Camp #4
- Oeyama British POW Memorial Monument,
Osaka POW Camp #3
- Omine Memorial Monument, Ube-Sanyo,
Hiroshima POW Camp #6. Memorial stone, English -- Memorial stone, Japanese (Source: Arenan)
War Cemetery: More than 1,700 British Commonwealth
POWs (United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, India, Pakistan)
are buried here
Temple, Mt. Ikoma, Osaka: Ashes of 1,086 Allied
POWs interred here
- Memorial planned for construction at Ryuhoji temple
five Americans and a Norwegian were buried (died in Ofuna Navy
Interrogation Camp, TOKYO POW CAMP MAIN CAMP DETACHED CAMP)
- Ishihara Sangyo factory in Yokkaichi, Mie
Yokkaichi Camp #5 (Inscription on the monument reads: "Nothing is more
sublime than to give one's life for the sake of others. This monument
is dedicated to those who fought and were killed for peace and freedom
in World War II.")
Memorial for POWs: A dozen American airmen were captured and
sent to Hiroshima Kenpeitai HQ just prior to the A-bombing of
Hiroshima. Two Japanese websites show the memorial, including the
plaque, photos of airmen, and related news articles -- US
Victims of A-bomb and Memorial
for US POWs
Memorial: "The City of Niigata finally acknowledged
the existence of the POW Camps in the mid 1990s. A lonely monument in a
small park across the harbor of the Rinko Docks stands in testimony not
only to the hundreds of POWs who were sent to Niigata, but also the
thousands of Koreans and Chinese who were also slave laborers in
Niigata during the war." (photos at bottom of webpage)
- Hakodate Eizenji Temple:
POWs who died at Hakodate POW camps. British
POW visit noted here.
Port Peace Memorial: For Korean and Chinese
conscripted laborers as well as Allied POWs who were brought to Kobe
Port by the Japanese government and companies during WWII and died
while being forced to work there -- out of 5,700 Koreans workers, more
than 47 died; of 996 Chinese, 16 died; of 1,400 Allied POWs, 190 died.
There were some 3,600 crewmen who went down in their B-29's over Japan
World War II. Of those who parachuted out and survived, at least 150
killed where they landed by local townspeople. Over 40 others soon died
to injuries. In Osaka, out of 53 airmen taken, 8 died of their wounds,
were given poison-laced coffee, and the rest were shot and then buried.
Kobe, 43 airmen were either shot or beheaded. In northern Japan, 47
executed. In Kyushu, 43 airmen were either shot, beheaded or dissected
Out of the 530 airmen who became POWs, less than 50%
- Nagara-cho, Chosei-gun, Chiba-ken:
Requiem Memorial for crew of a B-29 (went down on May 26, 1945) and a
Japanese officer executed for war crimes. Erected in 1996 by Choeiji
Temple priest, Mr. Ohashi.
- Tonosho-cho, Katori-gun, Chiba-ken:
Peace Tower erected in 1997 for crew of B-29 which crashed on December
3, 1944. Three survived, one of which was the pilot (Golswaji?), who
later returned to the site for a visit in 1997.
- Higashi Murayama, Tokyo-to:
Kannon for crew of B-29 which crashed on April 2, 1945.
- Shizuhatayama? Park, Shizuoka:
B-29's went down in the city on June 20, 1945, killing all 23 aboard.
Yearly services are held with U.S. military representatives attending.
- Toyota, Aichi-ken: Crashed on
3, 1945, after bombing mission over Nagoya.
- Joyo, Kyoto-fu: Memorial tablets
crew of June 5, 1945 crash on bombing mission over Kobe. Shot down by a
Japanese fighter plane. Six survivors became POWs. Their interpreter at
the time, a Mr. Takeda, later made the tablets.
- Ryujin-mura, Hidaka-gun, Wakayama-ken:
For crash of May 5, 1945, on bombing mission over Kure.
- Yuasa-cho, Arida-gun, Wakayama-ken: Burial
site of pilot of a P-51 which was shot down over the coast.
- Miyaura, Okayama: Crash of June
- Yanai, Yamaguchi: Peace Memorial
erected in 1998 for the 9 crewmen aboard a B-24 which crashed here on
July 28, 1945. Eight survived and were interned. The villagers used
parts of the downed aircraft for utensils and farming tools. These were
returned to the pilot, Mr. Cartwright, in 1985, who later visited the
site in 1999.
- Naka-ku, Hiroshima: The 11
of two B-24's (one of which was the above-mentioned B-24) and a SB2C
Helldiver were captured and interned in Hiroshima. They were all killed
by the A-bomb. A sign to commemorate these men was set up in 1998 by a
- Oga, Akita: For B-29 airmen
C. Assorted Articles
Merry Christmas, Mr. Shirabe
by Asami Nagai
The Daily Yomiuri
July 29, 2000
-- On Oct. 31, 1998, N.G.J.W. Van Marle, a former Dutch prisoner of war
during World War II, was finally reunited with Masaji Shirabe. The two
men, bath wrinkled and. gray-haired now, had not seen each other for 55
years, not since the days Van Marle was a POW in Shirabe's labor camp
As commandant, Shirabe, now 85, was known for his humanitarian treatment of internees in his charge.
been a long time and I don't recall much," he said. "My motto as a camp
commandant was to treat internees as equal people with rights and
dignity that should be respected. That's all."
Shirabe was a
would-be priest-turned-soldier who had studied theology at Doshisha
University in Kyoto. On Oct. 22, 1942, he met about 1,200 Dutch,
British and American POWs arriving at Nagasaki Port to transfer them to
his camp on a nearby island, where they were to labor in the dockyards.
commandant; he allowed the prisoners a self-governing system under 27
officers, made possible through the preservation of the Allied troops'
own military hierarchies. A Dutch officer who had long worked at a Kobe
trading company acted as interpreter, liaising between the POWs and
their Japanese overseers.
Shirabe declared one day a week a
holiday. As a devout Baptist, he permitted internees to celebrate
Christmas, and even went so far as to invite a priest from a local
church into the camp.
In the climate of wartime Japan, it was
perhaps inevitable that his way of treating POWs was criticized as "too
lenient," Shirabe said, adding that on one occasion he even took them
out of the camp to attend Mass at a Nagasaki cathedral.
saw them as enemies," he recalled. "Rather, Japanese soldiers gave me
the biggest headache, because some of them stole internees' personal
The organizers of an exhibition on the Japanese
occupation of Indonesia, slated to open in Japan Aug. 1, decided to use
Shirabe's story as one of the personal histories on display.
decided for himself how to act in wartime. I think it is an important
message that people have to make their own decisions in such
circumstances," said Erik Somers, exhibition director of the
Netherlands Institute for War Documentation and curator of "Dutch,
Japanese, Indonesians -The Japanese Occupation of Indonesia
Just before Shirabe was transferred to another
camp in early 1943, he asked one internee to sketch all 27 officers'
portraits, and requested each officer to add his signature. This
memento, which the former commandant has treasured ever since, was of
great help when Von Marle visited him two years ago.
"He looked just like his portrait on this piece of paper. Seeing this, I soon remembered him," Shirabe said with a chuckle.
artwork and a photo showing the reunion of the two former enemies -with
Van Marle pointing at his own portrait -will be on show at the
"With them, we wanted to suggest that there is a possibility that enemies can live together during a war," Somers said.
surely proved this point. A black-and-white photo taken on Dec. 25,
1943 at a camp in Yamaguchi Prefecture shows him smiling shyly while
POWs raise a toast, surrounded by Christmas decorations.
the war, Shirabe became a priest and moved to Okinawa Prefecture, where
he and his family remained for 35 years. These days, they tour nursing
homes and kindergartens around the nation, using puppets to dramatize
"In the years following the war, we often
wondered what those internees were doing when they returned home," said
Shirabe's wife of 60 years.
Article on lawsuit to
obtain war-time files:
War-files law aims to get answers, compensation:
Suit filed against Japanese companies
may expose secrets, difficult memories
By Michael Doyle Bee
(Published Feb. 25, 2001)
-- Sixty years ago, Tracy resident Melvin Routt fell into the hands of
the Japanese Imperial Army. What happened next, as a prisoner of war
and slave laborer on Japan's home islands, is indelibly etched in
But the broader historical memory of what
happened to other American, Chinese and Korean prisoners remains in
some cases locked away in secret archives. Now, a newly enacted law
could help pry open the World War II files.
"They kept records
on everything that happened pretty much, you know," said Routt, 79.
"There certainly should be information in (the files) that can prove
Routt's specific point is, in part, a legal one. He
and other former prisoners of war are suing Japanese companies, in
hopes of gaining financial compensation for their treatment. The
yellowing war files now maintained by the CIA and other secrecy-minded
agencies could establish links between the prisoners' treatment,
Japanese government policy and Japanese corporations.
there are records," said 79-year-old Fresno resident Harry Dunlavy, a
retired Marine sergeant major who spent three winters at a Japanese POW
camp in Manchuria, "but I suppose they would have to be in Japan."
like Routt, is part of the lawsuit against Japanese companies. He was
forced to work at a tool-and-die company. In the first Manchurian
winter, nearly one-third of the men Dunlavy arrived with died. So far,
he said, "the damn Defense Department has just sat on" the ex-POWs'
But the new law, modified from legislation
first introduced by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., is meant to serve
more than the discovery needs of veteran plaintiffs. More broadly,
proponents believe, it will help keep history honest.
historical accuracy, you're never going to get justice," said Ivy Lee,
a Sacramento resident and retired sociology professor. "Justice could
be in the legal sense, but it could also mean that Japan does not go
around whitewashing history."
Now president of the Global
Alliance for Preserving the History of World War II in Asia, Lee was
among the grass-roots lobbyists pushing for the archives-opening law. A
native of Macau, Lee is particularly keen on uncovering what the
Japanese Imperial Army did in China starting in 1931.
way before what we usually think of as the start of World War II,"
noted Lee, who formerly taught at California State University,
Prompted by Lee, Routt and affiliated groups,
Feinstein initially authored legislation setting up a special task
force to examine Japanese Imperial Army records going back to the 1931
Japanese military incursion into Manchuria.
had established the Nazi War Criminal Records Interagency Working
Group, which recently declassified more than 2.5 million pages of World
War II records. Eventually, as part of a fiscal 2001 intelligence
authorization bill, Congress approved a modified form of Feinstein's
effort. It adds to the roster of the Nazi war criminal records group a
specialist on Asia, and it extends the task force's life by another
It's not all sunshine, though; shadows can remain. The law
establishing the original Nazi records group explicitly exempted the
task force from a part of the 1947 National Security Act, which gives
U.S. intelligence agencies tremendous leeway in withholding
information. But that exemption disappeared by the time lawmakers
finished their latest work. This could return to already-skittish
agencies more power in denying access to the Japanese files, though
lawmakers say they still intend openness to remain the watchword.
task force has not yet named its Pacific war specialist. It has,
though, added a historical adviser, Linda Goetz Holmes, author of books
including "Unjust Enrichment" about American POWs in Asia.
are still probably a significant number of records that have not yet
been declassified," said Holmes, who added that she hopes the uncovered
files might help identify "people who are war criminals and where are
No one knows exactly how many relevant files exist in
U.S. custody. Steven Garfinkel, director of the federal Information
Security Oversight Office and chairman of the Nazi War Criminals
Interagency Working Group, said the task force probably will "end up
surveying millions of pages."
The amount eventually released
will certainly be less than that uncovered by the group's Nazi war
criminal records focus, though still meaningful for individual veterans.
in the Army would be interested in finding out what happened," said
Modesto resident Eugene Brush, who was interned by the Japanese as a
civilian. "They should all be interested in it."
Now 82, the
former Pan American Airways mechanic was imprisoned for three years
after being captured in the Philippines. He worked as a cook in the
Santo Tomas camp for "enemy aliens," and though he harbors no love for
his former captors, he said "there weren't any atrocities unless you
went over the wall."
He feels no burning need to peruse the files that may be uncovered on the Santo Tomas camp.
so far, has kept closed many of its World War II records. The United
States returned to Japan in the 1950s the files that had been scooped
up by U.S. forces at the end of the war. American officials only copied
about 5 percent of the records before returning them in February 1958.
understand you have to have secrets, but these things occurred 60 years
ago," said Sheldon Harris, an emeritus history professor at California
State University, Northridge, and author of "Factories of Death:
Japanese Biological Warfare 1932-1945 and the American Cover-Up."
labor like the kind Routt endured will be one compelling focus of the
augmented task force. Another will be the Japanese Imperial Army's
experiments in biological and chemical warfare, some details of which
have been surfacing in recent years.
In 1945, Routt watched and
felt and smelled from across the bay while the city of Nagasaki was
consumed in an ungodly mushroom cloud. Some time after the atomic bomb
dropped, and Japan had surrendered, Routt returned to his home country
and a lifetime of bad memories that some might prefer to keep locked
"This," Lee said of the archives-opening legislation, "will bring to light all of the secrets."
POW Plight -- Allied WWII prisoners of
Allied WWII prisoners of Japanese still suffer
By Milton Combs
May 26, 2000
World War II the Japanese held more than 140,000 Allied troops as
prisoners of war. Many of these Allied prisoners became forced slave
laborers for Japanese companies, working long hours under dangerous and
extreme conditions. For these ex-POWs there has been little support
from their governments in winning compensation for their suffering.
Because of years of neglect, ex-POWs are now seeking compensation—still
without support fom their governments.
In March of this year, an
article in the Washington Post reported that last September 500
survivors of the infamous 1942 Bataan Death March suffered by American
and Filipino prisoners of war filed a joint suit against five Japanese
companies for slave labor. The article added that on Pearl Harbor Day,
Dec. 7, 1999, the flamboyant New York attorney Edward D. Fagan, (known
for his $5.2 billion settlement with German companies that cooperated
with the Nazis and a $1.25 billion settlement with Swiss banks for
hiding the assets of Holocaust victims) filed a class action lawsuit
against Japanese industrial giants Mitsui, Mitsubishi Corp. and Nippn
On Feb. 16, 2000, The Daily Yomiuri reported that
many of Australia's 3,000 surviving prisoners of war will join a class
action lawsuit against Japanese mining, construction and manufacturing
companies, and banks that profited from slave labor during the
construction of the infamous Burma Railway during World War II.
Companies targeted by this action include Mitsubishi Corp., Kawasaki
Heavy Industries Ltd., Nippon Steel Corp., Showa Denko K.K. and Mitsui
With Germany's recent payment of compensation to
victims, the focus is now on Japan. But what were the actual working
and living conditions of POWs of the Japanese during World War II and
do they warrant reparation? Father Hildebrand Yaiser, a Benedictine
monk who spent more than 50 years in Japan, was asked by the Swiss
Ambassador early in 1942 to be his representative for war prisoners and
internees in Japan. Although there were a large number of camps, he was
allowed to visit only a few, being told by the Japanese military that
they had no obligation to show him any, and that he was being shown
certain camps as a favor.
Let's hope the camps Father Hildebrand
Yaiser visited were not selected because of their superior conditions.
In his autobiography, he wrote about what he saw: "At Yokohama, the
poor soldiers had to sleep on wooden planks covered with straw. The
room was completely dark. All windows had been nailed shut with boards,
and the men especially complained about the darkness. They were
emaciated, dirty and neglected."
He also writes of speaking to a
British brigadier, commander at another camp: "He told me his men were
dying en masse, like flies. The imprisoned military doctor was about
ready to beg me on his knees to bring him some medicine." Working and
living conditions are also presented in reports dated July 31,1946,
titled "Prisoner of war camps in Japan and Japanese-controlled areas as
taken from reports of interned American prisoners," compiled by the
American Prisoner of War Information Bureau. In these reports the
internees tell the horrors of their experience. A report from Fukuoka
POW camp No. 11 describes the danger of the coal mines, work that many
prisoners were forced to do: "Cave-ins were common and deaths were
caused by these sloppages. The prisoners were constantly aware of this
danger, and their nervous anxiety was a greater menace to their health
than the actual work, according to the camp surgeon."
from Hakodate branch camp #2 at Utashinia on Hokkaido states: "This
project was digging coal in an old mine which had about 'worn out." No
attempt was made to replace rotting mine props or overhead beams and,
while no reports are made of fatal accidents, many of the prisoners
were badly hurt by falling rocks and cave-ins." Prisoners were forced
to work even when sick. A report concerning a camp at Tsuruga gives
evidence: "Prisoners pronounced to be too sick to work by the prisoner
camp surgeon were beaten because they could not stand up to the work
Brutality also existed in the camps. "Two
guards—indicated only by nicknames as 'Gorilla" and 'Blackjack," along
with the medical assistant—were extremely cruel in their beatings of
the prisoners, and, in most cases, the prisoners themselves did not
know the reasons. The beatings of the prisoners, frequently into
insensibility, were administered for the slightest cause, generally
unknown to the offender, and were so cruel and damaging as to require
hospitalization." This testimony comes from Fukuoka Camp No. 10 at
Futase on Kyushu. Malnutrition was the cause of many deaths of POWs.
From Fukuoka camp No. 17, the report states that although the men were
forced to work long and laborious hours in coal mines and zinc
smelters, the American camp doctor stated that the "food ration was
insufficient to support life for a bed-ridden patient. All of the
prisoners were skeletons having lost in weight an average of around 60
pounds per man."
Medical care was often denied to prisoners. At
Fukuoka Camp No. 1, medical officer Hata was described as incompetent,
inconsiderate and brutal. Here are the words of one prisoner: "I would
like to emphasize strongly that the Japanese doctors in this camp are
not worthy of any consideration whatsoever, that they were very
neglectful in their duties and at times refused to supply medicine to
the American officers who were dying of pneumonia and whose lives could
have been otherwise saved." At this camp, under the command of
Commandant Yuichi Sakamoto, and with 1st Lt. Medical Officer Hata, 193
American prisoners were interned from Jan. 30 to Apr. 25, 1945. In this
three-month period, 53 men (28% of those interned) died.
these reports prepared by the War Information Bureau, it should be
noted that in some camps the prisoners were treated in a fairly
considerate and humane manner. Sadly, these are the exceptions. For the
vast majority of POW camps, the reports are painfully all too similar.
Beatings, along with lack of sleep, inadequate food and medical care
resulted in the deaths of large nmber of prisoners. Over all, the death
rates of POWs under Japanese control were atrociously high. Gavan Daws,
in his book Prisoners of the Japanese ,details the disturbingly high
death rates of prisoners held by the Japanese. The American death rate
was 34 percent, the Australian death rate 33 percent and the British 32
percent. In comparison, American POWs of the Germans had a death rate
of 4 percent.
Sadly, the suffering did not end with the finish
of the war. Many POWs suffered from post-traumatic shock syndrome, a
condition not recognized as a medical problem until after the Vietnam
War. Gavan Daws writes in Prisoners of the Japanese: "In the first ten
years after the war, while most of them (POW survivors) were still
young, only moving out of their late 20s into their 30s, their death
rate was higher by far than that of civilians of their age, and
considerably higher than that for war veterans who had not been
prisoners. By age 40, proportionally far more of them were dead."
Have allied POWs of the Japanese been fairly compensated for the
suffering they endured while working for Japanese companies as forced
laborers? Were the families of those who did not survive captivity
fairly compensated? According to the Japanese companies and the
Japanese, American and British governments—and still supported by the
Clinton and Blair administrations—the answer is "Yes." Their position
is that all reparation claims against Japan were waived under the San
Francisco Treaty negotiated between Japan and 48 nations and signed in
San Francisco on Sept. 8, 1951. Lawyers for the POWs, meanwhile, argue
the treaty only covered state-to-state claims and does not affect
claims by individuals against Japanese corporations.
look at The San Francisco Treaty shows that there are no direct
references to individual reparations. Article 14 of the peace treaty
indicates that the focus was on areas occupied by the Japanese, not on
the Allied troops sent in to clean things up: "Japan will promptly
enter into negotiations with Allied Powers so desiring, whose present
territories were occupied by Japanese forces and damaged by Japan." Why
was the issue of compensation to Allied POWs overlooked in the San
Francisco Treaty? A look at what was happening in the world at that
time may give indications.
By the autumn of 1948 it was clear
the Communists were winning in China. There was a growing division
between the forces of free enterprise led by the United States and the
forces of Communism lead by the Soviet Union. Japan, because of her
once-considerable industrial power, was viewed as an important factor
in this worldwide contest. On June 25, 1950, the Communist regime of
North Korea invaded South Korea. The United States became heavily
involved militarily in the Korean War and would need military bases in
Japan to support the war just across the waters. The geo-politics of
the cold war had become a factor in peace negotiations between Japan
and the U. S. It is no accident that on the same day as the signing of
the peace treaty, a bilateral security pact between the America and
Japan was signed. Although Article 6 of the peace treaty states, "All
Occupation forces of the Allied Powers shall be withdrawn from Japan as
soon as possible after the coming into force of the present Treaty, and
in any case not later than 90 days thereafter," the security pact
provided for the continuation of American bases and forces in Japan.
make the bilateral security treaty negotiations go smoothly in order to
guarantee American bases in Japan, it is possible that the potentially
embarrassing and unwelcome issues of crimes against humanity were
ignored. The suffering experienced in the camps is made more acute by
what many ex-POWs and civilian internees of the Japanese feel has been
neglect—and even abandonment by their own governments—in seeking
justice and compensation. Their numbers dwindling with each passing
season, they have taken matters into their own hands. For those still
alive, Germany's recent settlement and the recruiting of attorney
Edward D. Fagan to their cause, ex-POWs of the Japanese have renewed
hope that justice, to some degree, will finally be achieved for them,
and for those still remembered.
Amazing Story of Rodney
Kephart and the Victory
Flag at Camp #6 -- Similar stories of other flags made and
flown at POW
camps at liberation:
Two days after the British
the first B-29s came over, and the sky seemed filled with parachutes,
some red, some white, and some blue. Some of the larger loads were
carried in two 55-gallon drums welded end to end and the remainder in
single drums. Occasionally a chute would not open, and the load would
plummet to the earth like a bullet and explode with a frightening force
on impact. On one occasion, there were three or four Japanese civilians
sitting a round a small table having tea and hoping to gather up some
food left on the ground. A chute carrying gallon containers of canned
peaches came plummeting to earth and landed squarely in their midst.
They never knew what hit them: killed by canned peaches.
With these multicolored parachutes, men of
three nations represented in that camp began making handmade flags of
their respective countries. They were crude, but to us they were
beautiful. On September 2, 1945, we hoisted them from poles set in the
ground on the beach as we sang our respective national anthems. Four
hours later, the surrender documents were signed aboard the U.S.
battleship _Missouri_ in Tokyo Bay. (The U.S. flag we made in camp is
on display at the Pioneer Village Museum in Minden, Nebraska, Capt.
Thompson's home state.) -- From "We Were Next To Nothing" by
Carl S. Nordin (1997), POW at Yokkaichi Camp #5
See also Some
men will never forget 'Bataan' --
While in prison camp Omtevedt,
with other prisoners, made an American flag from red, white and blue
parachutes used by American planes to drop food supplies.
[PHOTO OF FLAG]
It was 11 a.m. Aug 18 when the Japanese
lowered their colors and the makeshift American flag was raised. It
went up before any American forces reached Japanese soil and was the
first to fly over Japan at the end of the hostilities.
It was raised daily until Sept. 13,
the prisoners marched to freedom. Omtvedt carried the flag at the head
of the column.
Omtvedt kept the flag and later
to the U.S. Government. It was placed in the Pentagon and is now in the
museum at F. Lee, Va.
story of a US flag made by POWs (PDF file)
Article by Hiroshi Kudo
B-29 crash in Takachiho:
|Excerpt from Northern Miyazaki's Nature Preservation Association Journal, "Tsuchibinoki," No. 2.|
THE WAR IS OVER
("Sobosanchu B-29 Tsuiraku Hiwa")
By Hiroshi Kudo
President of Northern Miyazaki's
Nature Preservation Association
mountain becomes a stage for various dramas. Since ancient times many
of these dramas which have influenced both animals and human beings
have become more elaborate with time. Generally, there are various
cases in which a mountain becomes a stage for a tragic comedy. Once the
drama ends, the mountain, the stage, recovers to a state of calmness,
not unlike how it was in ancient times, untouched and towering high
This effect from long ago has linked ties between people
and mountains, and it is a fundamental occurrence which has become well
respected. Because these dramas take place deep within the forest,
there are many cases in which a single character stars, loses his life,
and the facts about him become lost for future generations.
will explain one such case. It involves twelve young officers, whose
spirits sleep on a mountain in a foreign land. I pray their spirits
rest in peace.
On August 30, 1945, only a couple weeks after the
war had ended, a B-29 plane named "The Flying Fort" (Fuselage No.
44-61554) headed to Kikuchi City, Kumamoto Prefecture. It flew across
the mountain ridge between Mt. Katamuki and Mt. Sobo, past the Bungo
Channel. It was flying at an altitude of 1600 meters through dense fog
just before a heavy rain fall. According the Miyazaki Region Weather
Observatory, at 10 a.m. weather conditions recorded by the Mitai
Observatory Office (located in present-day Takachiho) were as follows:
Wind Direction: --
Wind Speed: 0
Degree of Cloudiness: 10
Signs of Rain Existing
Rain Fall: 5.5mm
It is certain that the B-29 was traveling under these conditions of extremely poor visibility due to rainfall.
November 1, 1944, nine and one-half months before the end of the war,
17,500 planes dropped 160,000 tons of bombs on major cities all around
the country, scorching and altering the land. These planes were also of
the B-29 type. On August 6, 1945, in the middle of the night the
bomb-loaded B-29 "Enola Gay", commanded by Captain Paul Tibetts,
Commander No. 509 of the U.S. Army-Air Force Squad No. 20, left Tinian
Airfield. On the same day at 8:30 and 17 seconds, this B-29 released
its bomb, instantly reducing Hiroshima to ruins. On August 9, the B-29
"Bockscar" piloted by Lieutenant Sweeney also left from the Tinian
base. At 10:58 it dropped a bomb on Nagasaki. Because of the dropping
of these two "new-type" bombs on what was supposed to be
"indestructible divine land," Japan agreed to an unconditional
surrender. Thus, the war came to an end.
With the feeling of
finally being able to return to their hometowns, Chief Pilot Henry
Baker and eleven other crewmembers attempted to fly just over the
mountain ridge extending from Kyushu's Mt. Sobo to Mt. Katamuki. All
were experienced in flying bomber aircraft over long distances. All
fought in the war, risking their lives for their country. However, even
these soldiers of the victorious country were probably in slight
disbelief that they had survived the war. They were positioned
according to their seating arrangements on board their plane weighing a
total of 46 tons with a width of 43 meters and length of 43 meters.
They sat unaware of the tragedy about to occur only seconds after
entering the dense fog mixed with light rain. Some of these men were
possibly lighting a cigarette; again, some may have been gazing at a
picture of their loved ones whom they thought they would be able to see
Not having to worry anymore about the attacks by
persistent small Japanese Army fighter planes or about flak from
anti-aircraft guns, they were quietly performing their last duty,
flying through the skies of Kyushu. Their plane attempted to fly over
an area about as high as the mountain ridge connecting Mt. Sobo (1757m)
and Mt. Katamuki (1603m), near the peak of Mt. Shoji. Right at that
moment, a dreadful disaster occurred. A section of the plane made
contact with the top of the ridge, instantly causing the plane to crash
and be engulfed in flames. Not even the slightest chance of escape was
As the vast sky seemed to turn into a ball of fire,
Pilot Jack L. Riggs of the U.S. Army-Air Force plane gave out a
sorrowful cry. His plane crashed on the northwestern slope of Mt. Oyaji
(1644m) causing a blast of destruction, mowing down trees of enormous
magnitude existing in the virgin forests. The quiet, thick forests of
beech, white oak and "Himeshara," over which a thick fog lay mixed with
light rain, became the stage where this terrible tragedy took place.
The twelve young men on board were in miserable condition after being
thrown out of the plane, which scattered. The scene of this sorrowful
accident was a picture that could only have been of hell.
heard about this crash, this news was not quite as old as it is now.
Two years ago one day in October, I was hiking as usual within the
areas of Mt. Sobo and Mt. Katamuki to continue my research on the
habitation of Japanese bears. After I set up a tent in Shikimibaru, my
two colleagues and I hiked slowly toward Mt. Shoji from Mt. Oyaji. This
hike took approximately 30 minutes. At the beginning of the hike there
was large downward incline leading to the center of a saddle located
between the two mountains. At the lowest point of the saddle I looked
down at my feet to discover a shiny metal object protruding from the
ground. With much effort I was finally able to unearth it entirely. It
was made of stainless steel, decorated elaborately with engraved
numbers and about fifteen alphabet letters, and fastened securely by
rivets. This object looked much like a part belonging to an airplane. I
thought to myself, "But why did it fall from the sky? And why it is
here?" As I walked while holding the object in my hands, I thought
about this odd find for a long period of time. I hiked to Bear Monument
located on Mt. Shoji and placed the object next to the monument.
I was a child, I had heard from my father that an American transport
plane flew very low in the skies just above my hometown, Mitai
District, Takachiho Town, Nishiusuki County, Miyazaki Prefecture. It
flew toward Mt. Furusobo (1633m) and Mt. Hontani (1642m), flying across
the ridge formed by the two mountains. The plane crashed after coming
in contact with trees in present-day Obira Pass, a part of the
prefectural highway running through the Takachiho-Ogata area. The site
of the accident, however, was geographically different. I thought that
this plane accident must have been, therefore, a separate occurrence.
day in the winter of the same year, after passing the hillsides of Mt.
Furusobo and Mt. Shoji, on the Toroku Forest Road which passes through
the Obira Pass, I met up with an acquaintance who was a boar hunter. I
asked this local man about the plane accident that occurred within the
vicinity. Quicker than I expected, I learned about the facts of the
accident. It seems on a rainy day not long after the end of the war
near Mt. Oyaji, there had been an American military plane which crashed
killing about ten people. He remembered that there were a number of
people who went out to collect the relief supplies, making their way
through the bamboo grass at the crash site. They picked up and brought
back pipes made from unknown metals, bullets, helmets of the deceased,
etc. Talking with the man I was finally able to confirm that there was
in fact a "plane crash." However, it was not known clearly when it
happened, what type of plane had crashed, what had happened before the
crash, and who was on board. The feeling of not knowing the concrete
details of the crash created a strong urge within me to conduct some
research. What was known was that this accident occurred during a time
of great confusion right after the War. Moreover, this was a time when,
just a short time before, Japanese people thought England and the
U.S.A. were enemy nations. Exactly how much research could be done
regarding the accident concerned me.
While engaged in my
research, many things were discovered about the crash by pure
coincidence. The first discovery occurred at a second-hand bookstore in
Nobeoka. Without any real objective in mind, I came across a book which
contained a summary about the accident. This summary gave me giving me
more information about the accident. When I opened the book to the
article on the B-29 crash, I would never have guessed that such
information would be obtained in this way. The book dealt mainly with
the history of the hardships endured by farmers reclaiming their land
after the war. It was written by Mr. "K," who was a member of the
village at the foot of Mt. Sobo. Reading this information left a great
impact on my life. I will always remember it. I would like to insert
the following condensed version of the summary:
rainy day, just after the war had ended, an American Army Air Force
B-29 plane crashed near Mt. Shoji with a loud boom. We pushed our way
through the land and searched the mountains to find the relief
supplies. In a time of much need of these supplies, we wanted the goods
for ourselves to use.
We found the crash site, glanced at the
ten or so blue-eyed dead American soldiers pitilessly, and picked up
the canned goods as well as other usable goods and brought them home.
days passed when a jeep from the occupational army came to our village.
Coming in actual contact with these Americans and watching them pick up
every single article to take back to their home country, I became
ashamed of myself, and still am, for thinking such wicked thoughts.
reading the article, I was finally able to obtain the whole story
behind the accident, which I first learned about only after finding
that single stainless-steel object.
Coincidences seem to run in
groups. A few months later, I went to Kumamoto Prefecture on a business
trip. The taxi driver seemed to speak in my native dialect so I
conversed with him to make certain this was true. My intuition was
correct. I discovered that his hometown was the village at the foot of
Mt. Sobo. The conversation extended to my asking about Mr. "K" and the
story about the B-29 crash. It turned out that this driver was actually
Mr. "K's" younger brother! He said that at the time of the crash Mr.
"K" hurried to the crash site. He explained further that most of the
debris had been piled in the area, now known as the front of the
Gokasho Bus Station, and transferred to somewhere in Kagoshima.
hearing his story I immediately visited the crash site to reconfirm
these facts. Since the Third Annual Nature Observation Trip was
expected to take place in May 1990 in the Mt. Oyaji-Mt. Shoji region,
it was decided that members of the observation group, Mr. Katakabe, Mr.
Matsuda and I, would simultaneously take part in the trip as well as
make preliminary inspections of the crash site.
I surveyed the
position of the metal fragment I found two years ago and designated
this area as the "main" area. The distance between the ridge and this
area was barely 60 to 70 meters long.
I was hiking down in the
direction of Mt. Kuro, when a strange sight suddenly came to my
attention. In the vicinity of the destruction, covering a large area,
trees were not permitted to age any further after the crash occurred.
In other words, not a single tree over 45 years old presently exists in
this area -- in the awesome debris, not one tree had survived. In
addition, all together ten objects were found -- bulletproof walls made
of asbestos, rubber hoses, objects made of duralumin (an alloy of
aluminum) destroyed by the enormous impact, electrical system cords,
and objects similar to superchargers with exhaust valves. The cogwheels
connected to the supercharger that were made of a considerably hard
alloy were completely altered. It appeared to have been rotating at a
fairly high speed just before the crash occurred.
all of the accumulated objects together in one place, the three of us
thought quietly about the American soldiers and offered silent prayers.
I was reminded by this event that I was born in a generation completely
ignorant of what war is really like. Hiking through the mountains, I
thought about the men, whose souls lie here within these mountains in
my hometown, and how they did not know a single person here. Right then
it became clear to me that someone had to assume the responsibility of
passing on these facts to future generations. It was a strong feeling
that dwelled in my heart.
To start, I gathered all of the facts
concerning the accident and determined to contact the Authorities on
American Affairs in order to somehow record these facts for posterity.
As it was obvious that I lacked the ability to write a letter in
English, I asked Mr. Atsushi Tomokane of Hinokage town whether or not
he would help me to contact the authorities. He had lived in the U.S.
for a long period of time and had himself been in the military. He
readily accepted my request and promptly telephoned a worker at Yokota
Military Base in Tokyo. He also wrote two letters to the Air Force
Historical Research Center in Alabama to inquire about the crash. He
informed the Center of the contents of the research including the
August 21, 1945 date and all of the information we collected. Soon
after we received a reply from one of the archivists, James H.
Kitchens. The letter stated that the Center could not confirm any of
the facts concerning the accident and requested that we reconfirm the
date of the accident as well as any other pertinent information.
conducting a series of interviews, the date of the accident was again
determined to be August 21. It was possible that the date was
inaccurate, but we thought some type of information similar to our own
could be obtained from the Center. We realized that our data was not as
precise as it should have been and were partly prepared to give up
hope. It was then that we received another letter from Mr. Kitchens. It
was a genuine coincidence that the date Mr. Tomokane received the
letter was August 30. We were finally able to confirm the fact that the
B-29 crashed in the Sobo mountain range exactly 45 years ago on this
date. Apparently Mr. Kitchens had contacted another post to confirm the
information. According to the files on August 30, 1945, the B-29
(Fuselage No. 44-61554), piloted by 1st Lt. Jack L. Riggs of the 45th
Bomb Squadron, 40th Bomb Group, crashed instantly killing all twelve
crew members on board.
A written report containing thirty pages
of detailed reasons for the crash accompanied the letter from Mr.
Kitchens. Although the introductory passage only briefly described the
accident, the rest of the report included detailed information such as
results of the soldiers' autopsies and the remarkable method used to
identify the bodies as well as ages of the soldiers. Also included were
the names and ages of the witnesses and other people connected with the
According to the report, the bodies were wrapped
and buried. Six crosses were placed in the ground to serve as temporary
burial ground markers for the twelve men. On the 27th and 28th of
August the following year, people from the American Military Division
in Fukuoka City visited the crash site to confirm and remove the
bodies. They gently turned up the soil and reconfirmed the bodies'
existence. The deceased men's personal belongings included a picture of
a woman with black hair, a Ronson lighter, a graduation ring, a card
for good fortune, etc. After a year of examining each person's
identification tag, personal belongings, hair color and other useful
sources, all bodies were positively identified.
the report, I thought about how the American officers quickly but
carefully dug up the shallow graves, thinking to return the remains of
their peers to their homeland as soon as possible. Words cannot express
the emotions I felt as I thought about what had taken place. Although
it is unknown as to what happened after this event, it is certain that
all twelve crew members, always together in any military activity, now
rest peacefully at Arlington Cemetery.
As I felt a deep sense of
regret for my lack of study in English, I sat at my desk alone, holding
a dictionary in one hand, and attempted to translate the rest of the
written report. I followed each and every word and phrase of the poorly
photocopied sheets. Unexpectedly, images more vivid than from reading
any Japanese material welled up in my mind while translating the
written report into Japanese.
The thought of young soldiers from a foreign country losing their lives on a mountain in my home country moved me deeply.
scene which became the stage for this tragedy is even at present
surrounded by thick forest. The forest colors express the change from
season to season as though nothing has happened to disturb its cycle.
People who know about these American soldiers are few. A memorial
monument does not exist and not a flower from any of the four seasons
has been offered to the deceased soldiers. Through the cycle of
seasons, flowers have naturally covered the area where the spirits of
the deceased soldiers rest, and little birds' warble to comfort these
At the end of the report, an account of the twelve crew members' names, ranks, and I.D. numbers were given as follows:
Name, Rank, I.D. Number
1. Riggs, Jack L., 1st Lt., 0-750848
2. Cornwell, John G., 2nd Lt., 0-778342
3. Williamson, George H., 1st Lt., O-865008
4. Eiken, Alfred F., 1st Lt., 0-685455
5. Baker, Henry B., Cpt., 0-375237
6. Frees, Henry N., S. Sgt., 16079237
7. Dangerfield, John David, Cpl., 39913681
8. Groner, Solomon H., S. Sgt., 32818450
9. Gustaverson, Walter R. S., Sgt., 13129760
10. Miller, Bob L., Cpl., 39931488
11. Hodges, John W., Jr., Sgt., 33645761
12. Henninger, Norman E., Sgt., 15323591
(Note: Most men at the time were about 20 years old. It was determined from his body that Sgt. Hodges was under 2O years old.)
August 30, 1945, at 2:05 p.m., a B-29 (Fuselage No. 44-61554) carrying
twelve crew members crashed on Mt. Oyaji located in the Sobo Mountain
Range. Six hours later, a silver C-54 airplane flying from the east
showed itself in the skies above Atsugi Air Field. It was General
MacArthur's personal plane the "Bataan." Wearing a khaki-colored
uniform, smoking a corn-cob pipe and wearing black glasses, General
MacArthur stepped out of his plane and said, "It was a long ride from
Melbourne to Tokyo. It was an extremely long flight with many
difficulties, but it looks like it's all over."
THE WAR IS OVER!
A new era for Japan had just begun. In reality, the lives of many
people were sacrificed, leaving their loved ones behind.
benefit of future generations, I promptly printed everything that had
happened within the past two years. I believed that this task would be
difficult for a poor man living in the mountains like me. I had only
learned about a segment of the war by chance. Nevertheless, I committed
myself to this purpose. This essay is the product of my commitment. It
is a long essay for what was supposed to be a small bulletin notice,
but it was intended to introduce this tragic accident. In my next essay
I would like to write out the entire contents of the 30-page written
During my research on the B-29 crash, it was found also
that a small one-passenger Japanese fighter plane crashed at the foot
of Mt. Sobo in the same year on July 27. It was learned that in another
incident, an American military transport plane crashed after hitting
the Ohira Mountain Pass, killing four of its crew members. On these
above mentioned accident sites, I would like to somehow have memorial
monuments built so that they will be remembered by future generations.
May 12, 1958, a crash occurred in the vicinity of Mochida Valley of the
Okue Mountain Range. This disastrous accident, which killed four of the
crew members, involved a Yamato Airline Beaver plane. A memorial
monument has been built in memory of those who died and many people are
aware of this accident. Although research on the B-29 Crash has not
been completed, I would like to express my gratitude for the invaluable
assistance given by Mr. Atsushi Tomokane of Hinakage, Mr. Keiji Anzai
of Kawachi, as well as other members of the research project.
plans for building the Memorial Monument dedicated to the twelve men
are finalized, I would again like to ask the members of the research
project for their assistance.
"Daichi No Tsume Suru Omoi," Daisan Bumeisha
"Tokyo wo Bangeki Seyo," Sanshodo Sensho
"B-29," Sankei Shinbun Shuppankyoku
"Nihon Senryo," Sankei Shinbun Shuppankyoku
"Omei -- 'Kyudai Seitai Kaibo Jiken' No Shinso," Bunsho Bunko
POWs of the "Doolittle Raiders"
with Testimony by DeShazer
- For more on the inspirational story of Jacob
visit these sites:
- For the amazing "rest of the story" about DeShazer
he met Mitsuo Fuchida, the
Japanese fighter pilot who led the attack on Pearl Harbor:
Pearl Harbor to Calvary! -- from the book, God's
Samurai: Lead Pilot At Pearl Harbor
search on DeShazer and Fuchida
Bradshaw tells of when he met Fuchida in Kokura, just north of Fukuoka
Springmeier's The Rest of the Story! about the
missionary, Timothy Pietsch, who gave Fuchida the tract on DeShazer's
story NOTE: We had the privilege of working with Timothy and
Helen Pietsch in Tokyo in the late '80's. Helen, born in Kokura, was
the daughter of C.K. Dozier, the founder of Seinan University in
Fukuoka. Timothy passed away in 1992, Helen in 2005. See this scan
of a Douglas MacArthur's April 4, 1949 endorsement of the Pocket
Testament League where he mentions Pietsch specifically; of note also
is MacArthur correcting the plan of distributing to the Japanese one
million portions of the Scriptures to a total of 10,000,000. See also MacArthur's message commending Bible reading (from The Allied Occupation of Japan and Japanese Religions by William Woodard, 1972).
Medical Officer Hewlett's
article on Omuta Camp
#17, Nightmare Revisited:
DAI JU NANA BUNSHO [CAMP #17]
by THOMAS H. HEWLETT,
M.D., F.A.C.S., COL. U.S. ARMY RETIRED
were expended as F.D.R. predicted and thus became guests of the
Emperor. As such we departed Manila on 24 July 1943 in the hold of Mate
Mate Maru, 500 adjudged fit for heavy manual labor by Japanese doctors.
Our cruise ship had a 155-mm cannon lashed to the bow with heavy rope,
this represented our anti-aircraft fire protection in case our cruise
was interrupted by American air attack. Two doctors and a medical
warrant officer were assigned to keep the detail in good health. En
route Manila to Japan our ship stopped at Santa Cruz and took on
Manganese ore, July 31st found us enjoying the beauties of Taipeh
Harbor in Formosa. Jerry Okonski, one of the group, became very ill
during the Formosa visit. The gracious Formosan and Japanese guards
could not see fit to move him ashore for the necessary emergency
surgery, so utilizing a hatch cover table and dental novocain in the
spine, removal of a ruptured appendix was carried out in bright sun
light. About 7 days later Jerry Okonski was able to walk off the ship
carrying his own possessions. However, the government would not
compensate him for loss of the appendix. We finally arrived in the Port
of Moji 9 Aug. 1943, and after a brief delay termed a "Quarantine," we
traveled by train to Omuta where the civilian population stoned us in
welcome as the first contingent of prisoners of war to enter Camp 17,
Fukuoka Military District. Contrary to a recent publication our trip
was a safe one, we lost no men and thus buried no one at sea. As POW's
we worked in the mine and foundry.....
I have chosen to review
with you factual material from a medical report on Camp 17 which was
compiled by the Medical Staff: Capts. Ian Duncan & Richard Parker,
Australian Army, Lts. Harold Proff and Theodore Bronk, U.S. Army, and
Lt. Gerit Bras, Royal Dutch Army.
It is ironic that this report
was accepted into the Australian Army Museum for its historical value.
Our meager records including the death list were not acceptable to a
U.S. Courts Martial since they were not typewritten. I was young and
inexperienced with the system in those years so at this late date I
apologize for not keeping a typewriter with me. The medical report was
completed Aug. 25, 1945 while the medical staff was still together in a
complete state of recall to review the period, utilizing our private
records as concerned each nationality group.....
As the camp
increased in population, doctors who joined us were assigned to work in
their field of interest. We were young and not fully trained. As an
example, Dr Bras, interested in laboratory work, arrived in camp with a
crude microscope constructed of bamboo tubing and field glass lens.
Thus we gained an additional capability in diagnosis and it became
possible to cross match blood.
Medical supplies for the camp was
a joint responsibility shared equally by the Mitsui Corporation and the
Army. Eventually hospital space increased from a combined dispensary
and ward building to one adequately large clinic building and 6 ward
buildings: 1 isolation ward of 9 beds, 3 medical wards of 30 beds each,
2 surgical wards, 1 of 30 beds, 1 of 58 beds, to a total of 187 beds or
mats. Thru the humaneness of Baron Mitsui, a 1919 Dartmouth graduate,
we did have bed space for the sick and wounded.
Those of us who
remained at Camp 17 following the exodus of the guard detail in Aug.
1945, set out to scavenge the city of Omuta. Early in the exploration
we found several warehouses packed with Red Cross food and medical
supplies. The dates of receipt and storage indicated that these items
had reached Japan prior to Aug. 1943. Thus while we suffered from lack
of food, essential medicines, surgical supplies, and x-ray equipment,
these items, gifts of the American people, were hoarded in warehouses
during our two years in Japan. The reason we were denied these
essentials remains a top secret of the Imperial Japanese Army.....
diseases were a continuing medical problem and despite repeated pleas
to the Japanese command we were never able to obtain any dietary
improvement. The Allied Medical officers considered the basic problem
to be total dietary deficiency while the Japanese considered it as
beriberi, the so-called classic patterns of Vitamin B deficiency. The
first case of deficiency edema (swelling) that appeared in the camp in
Dec. 1944, this patient literally wasted away. Within 10 days after the
polished rice was introduced into camp, edema was noted in increasing
number of prisoners, as polished rice eliminated our only source of
Vitamin B and reduced the major nutrients.....
DISEASES: There was a consistently high disability rate from diarrhea.
To clarify one point, amebic dysentery was never a problem in Camp 17,
only 7 cases were diagnosed by microscoptic exam and 3 of these were
under treatment in Aug. 1945. Medically we used 4 classifications for
1) FOOD DIARRHEA (HIROHITO'S CURSE):
On at least 3 occasions 75% of the prisoners were struck by an
epidemic, in the fall of 1943 following questionable fish soup thru the
mess hall, whale blubber, or the rare issue of clams always produced
such a temporary epidemic, usually these outbursts tended to recede in
48-72 hours. These patients always demonstrated undigested food in the
stool. Purgation and total abstention from food were effective in
handling such epidemics.
2) ACUTE ENTERITIS (BENJO BOOGIE):
These patients gave a history of 3-4 days of diarrhea, with as many as
15 stools per day. They did not respond to an aniline purgative
available in small amounts from the Japanese Army. Bed rest was our
only successful mode of treatment.
3) ACUTE COLITIS: This
condition was undoubtedly bacillary dysentery, it was prevalent during
the summers of 1944 and 1945, at which time 30 hospital beds were
constantly utilized for its treatment, during both periods Japanese
denied the existence of the disease outside camp bounds. Yet prisoners
employed in the mine reported Japanese miners suffering with it. One
Japanese civilian employed in Camp 17 died of the disease in the early
summer of 1945. Sanitary public health measures within the camp were
instituted, but no public health measures were taken in the Japanese
guard housing area and none in the surrounding civilian areas.
CHRONIC INTEROCOLITIS: Required long hospitalization and bed rest and a
strict diet of lugao with warm tea enemas. This could be a terminal
disease in severe malnutrition cases.
PNEUMONIA: Our most dreaded killer, pneumonia continuously maintained
the highest mortality rate of any of the infectious diseases. In the
winter of 1943-44, among the men of the first detail, the morbidity
rate was 8%. The same group, during their second winter in Japan,
showed a morbidity rate of 3%. Both the Australian and Dutch details
who arrived in camp for the second winter showed the higher morbidity
and mortality rates. It should be noted that the second Australian
detail which arrived Jan. 1945, showed the highest morbidity and
mortality of any group in this camp. They arrived from the tropics
during the wintertime. In considering the pneumonia in this camp, one
cannot ignore certain living conditions which contributed to the
development of this disease:
1) Starvation diet.
2) Continuous exposure to extremes of temperatures 32 -105 in the mine; some men worked in water.
3) Persistent upper respiratory irritations in all miners as a result of the irritating gases encountered.
Lack of adequate heating facilities within the camp. Diagnosis of
pneumonia depended upon the physical findings. The lower lobes were the
most constantly involved.
Total pneumonias for the period reached 250 cases and were classified as follows:
to the limited supply of drugs available, treatment was not instituted
in any patient until positive consolidation could be demonstrated.
X-ray was never available.
Total deaths from pneumonia were 48,
of these, 10 were in a state of extreme emaciation when they contracted
this disease. The highest incidence of the disease occurred during the
winter of 1944 and spring of 1945. During these periods 50 to 60 were
in the hospital. In March of 1945, there were 14 deaths from pneumonia.
This was the highest total for any month. The average period of
hospitalization was 20 days, followed by 30 days of convalescence in
TUBERCULOSIS: Most Americans with even minimal
tuberculosis died early in Philippine Island prisons. Pulmonary
tuberculosis first appeared in the first detail of this camp in March
1944, after 7 months of mine work. It was impossible for this prisoner
to have had contact within the camp bounds with a case of active
tuberculosis. One of the Japanese overmen assigned to his group
apparently was troubled with a chronic productive cough. This overman
stated that he was troubled with consumption. This case was diagnosed
by stethoscope and later confirmed by x-ray. There have been in the
camp a total of 11 proven cases and 4 suspects. Of the 11 cases, 8 were
from the American group and 3 of the 8 lived in the same room during
the first winter in Japan. Treatment of these patients was limited to
hospital bed rest. Six of the 11 proven cases died prior to Aug. 23,
FUKUOKA FEVER: Dengue-type fevers are endemic in all Far
Eastern countries. Navy personnel will remember Cauite Fever of the
Philippines. For want of a better name a local endemic fever
encountered in this camp was termed "Fukuoka Fever". Very little
satisfaction was ever obtained from the Japanese concerning this
condition although the disease ranged from 60% to 70% of the entire
camp. It may be described as an atypical aching, profound malaise, loss
of appetite, and profound weakness. There is no rash and the length of
the disease varied from 6 to 15 days. The prevalence of the disease
coincided with the mosquito season. The temperature showed a tendency
to run high the first 2 to 3 days of the illness returning to a low
level for a period of 5 days, to rise again for 2 to 3 days prior to
cessation. The severity of the symptoms varied with the temperature,
the response to salicylates and codine was only fair. The disease
conferred no immunity and 1 recurrence was likely during the season. It
was impossible to keep these patients from duty status except when
temperature was demonstrable. Subjective symptoms had to be ignored.
This condition was developing a high morbidity rate during August 1945.
(BLACK WATER FEVER): Of the population in this camp, 88% had suffered
from malaria in the tropics. Increased numbers of malaria cases were
noted within 2 to 3 months following the arrival of the respective
details from the tropics. It was noted that the Estivo-autumnal type
died out after about 3 months in this climate. The tertian type was
persistent but was rare after 2 years. Many patients received their
first complete course of malarial therapy in this camp. No treatment
was instituted without positive blood findings. Quinine-Atebrin routine
was used in this manner; 7 days of 30 grains followed by 7 days of 20
grains with 3 tablets of Atebrin per day.
A severe form of
malaria in which the urine is black with blood is termed "Black Water
Fever". Three patients developed Black Water Fever within 3 months
after their arrival from the tropics. During the period they were
hospitalized with Black Water Fever, no parasites were demonstrable in
the blood. The treatment consisted of rest and support with intravenous
fluids and transfusions. Recovery was complete in each instance. Dr.
Bras from Java had great knowledge of malaria and took personal care of
the Black Water patients.
Although from time to time the
morbidity rate for malaria was high, the only fatality from this
disease was one patient with cerebral malaria.
prior to the departure of "A" detail from Cabanatuan, instruments were
requested from the senior American medical officers. Having spent a
year on Corregidor with a 500-man labor detail I was well aware of the
need for surgical instruments, and the fact that the Japanese did not
furnish instruments for use on prisoners. My requests were refused by
the senior American officers; they were naive enough to believe that
all essentials would be supplied once we reached Japan. The instrument
kit that I had put together on Corregidor was minimal at best. My
friendship with certain enlisted men working in medical supply at
Cabanatuan made it possible to supplement my kit to the point that at
least we would be able to handle emergency surgery while enroute to
Japan. The individual instruments were placed in the baggage of a
number of prisoners; thus they escaped detection during the inspections
we were subjected to. The instruments were reassembled after we settled
in Camp 17.
Our only available anesthesia consisted of several
vials of dental novocain tablets. Two of these tablets dissolved in a
small amount of the patient's spinal fluid, and injected into the spine
gave about 45 minutes of anesthesia, giving us time to perform most
operations that had to be done.
Dutch torpedo technicians, who
eventually came to Camp 17, were able to make surgical knives out of
old British table silverware.....
As a general rule if a
prisoner suffered an injury in the mine, some physical punishment was
administered underground before he was brought to the surface. This
punishment was handled by the civilian Japanese overmen. If the patient
suffered a broken bone in the mine, x-ray examination might be carried
out at the mine hospital. We might get to see the films 2 to 3 weeks
later, so we treated fractures without x-ray.
operated in cotton gloves, since rubber gloves were not available. We
operated barehanded. The fingernails of the surgical team stayed black
as a result of our using bichloride of mercury and 7% iodine in
preparing our hands before surgery. Despite our primitive equipment and
environment, our infection rate in surgical patients never exceeded 3%.
our first 2 months in Japan several prisoners underwent surgery in the
mine hospital, these operations were done either without anesthesia or
with very weak local anesthesia and the patients were returned to us in
rather severe shock.
Hand injuries which were repaired at the
mine dispensary required thorough exploration as soon as the patient
returned to camp, usually such wounds were filled with coal dust and
severed tendons had to be repaired. Eventually after a number of these
mismanaged wounds were demonstrated to the Camp Japanese Army doctor,
he ordered that injured prisoners be returned immediately to the camp
Sharpened bicycle spokes were used as traction wires
in the treatment of hip and leg fractures. Plaster of Paris was never
available. We observed that simple fractures healed in approximately 2
months in the first year, by the second year in Japan the same type
fractures required 4 to 5 months healing time, this we attributed to
our worsening nutritional state.
PSYCHOLOGIC AND SOCIAL
PROBLEMS: I am troubled that the V.A. can recognize a broad range of
psychologic and social problems in our current society, and not be
cognizant of the fact that some of the patterns they encounter in
former P.O.W.'s are long term results in individuals who had no help
available when the emotional or psychic traumas occurred during long
confinement. The philosophy of the prisoner of war is a strange one,
individually developed to make survival possible in the most hostile
environment. He first learned to laugh at the tragedies that comprised
the every day life. He completely obliterated the pangs of hunger. The
starving man would willingly trade his meager ration for a few
cigarettes. In many instances he would risk his rations gambling with
professionals who pursued their trade without compassion for any life
except their own.
The language problem was ever present.
Interpreters, either Japanese or English-speaking, tended to put
themselves in a command position so they created an atmosphere of
One prisoner of the A detail was executed for
attempting to learn to read Japanese. He was utilized as the target for
a bayonet drill by the guard detail. His body when examined showed over
75 stab wounds.
Early in the course of starvation hunger is
overwhelming and the theft of food by such a person is not a criminal
act. The Greek "Pavlokos" was starved to death in the guardhouse for
stealing food. It took them 62 days to accomplish this execution;
benefit of trial was denied.
For a minor infraction of rules a
19-year-old Australian soldier named David Runge, was forced to kneel
in front of the guard house for 36 hours. During the period he
developed gangrene of both feet; bilateral amputation was carried out
10 March 1945. He was carried on the backs of comrades to keep us
reminded of the benevolence of the Japanese. Runge has only recently
retired from an active life.
In camp the prisoners' life was
subject to the individual whims of the guard on duty. The prisoner
could be aroused from rest to undergo punishment or humiliation,
whichever met the sadistic needs of the guard.
prisoner was faced with falling walls and ceilings, blast injuries and
entombment. He lived each day with the possibility of sudden death or
permanent disabling injury.....
MORTALITY: Our mortality is
recorded, and I might comment that it is lower than Dr. Proff and I
predicted it might be after our first two months in Camp 17. One
hundred twenty-six men died in the 2-year period; 48 deaths attributed
to pneumonia, 35 to deficiency diseases, 14 to colitis, 8 to injuries,
5 to executions, 6 to tuberculosis, and 10 to miscellaneous diseases.
MORTALITY RATE (in percentage points)
Total population 1859 (126) 6.7%
American 821 (49) 5.9%
Australian 562 (19) 3.3%
British 218 (17) 7.7%
Dutch 258 (41) 4.2%
("A" 500 (21) 4.2%)
has just been presented to you is not documented elsewhere in the
medical annals of this country, the proverbial land of plenty.
Certainly no human would knowingly submit to a controlled laboratory
study aimed at duplicating this experience. I believe, along with Dr.
Jacobs, that we survivors still face disabling physical and emotional
problems which can be traced to our experience. Medical computers and
the young physicians of the V.A. are, I believe, completely confused
when called upon to evaluate our problems. Medicine is not an exact
science -- it has chosen to deem the profession an art and a science.
Our hope must then lie with those physicians who evidence art in
dealing with the whole patient.
There is no summary to a
nightmare that was permanently tattooed in our brains, but that is how
it was for those who were "expended".....
of relief supplies air-dropped
at Camp #24
Page on Marine
at Futase Camp #7, including two chapters from his book, Mikado
(Guest of the Emperor).
Jones -- interned at Fukuoka #1 and #17
- 1930's: Mickey
Mouse and Popeye as Japanese Army officers
- 1930's: Mickey's
Army comic book
- 1930's: Betty
Boop leading "A Charge on the Battlefield"
- Front page of April
1945 magazine for children, Children of
Nippon, and subtitled, Destruction
of the Enemy, depicting children practicing with
bamboo spears. NOTE: Above four images from The Toy Museum,
Vol. 24: A Short Historical Survey of Japanese Toys II, 1992
- "Emperor Hirohito was a lifelong
Mickey Mouse and other Disney characters.
child he called his hobby horse Snow White (the
Imperial Household Agency told outsiders it was called White Snow) [NOTE:
How this came about is unclear as Walt Disney was
1901, the same year as Hirohito, and the movie Snow White
did not come out until 1937. The original fairy tale, however, came out
in the early 1800's.]. When he made a state visit to America
in 1975, Hirohito insisted on visiting Disneyland in California, where
he signed Mickey's
guestbook and purchased a Mickey Mouse watch, which he wore
the rest of his life. Hirohito died in 1989 and was buried with his
Mickey Mouse watch still on his wrist." -- from The Yamato
Dynasty by Sterling Seagrave and Peggy Seagrave
military poster asking citizens to help increase supply of
coal for the war effort: "We're counting on you! Our planes, ships,
ammo -- all from coal!"
Historical Center images of POWs and POW camps:
- Wake Island
-- where many of the very first POWs of WWII were taken prisoner (Mansell's
page on Wake Island; see also Wake Island Civilian