POW Camp #1 - Page 10
Cecil was one of the first ex-POWs I corresponded with. He was at Omuta Camp #17 and also at Fukuoka Camp #1 for just a couple of months. He and his wife visited us in April 2000 and we went down to Omuta together to see where Camp #17 once stood. First ,I'd like him to tell you his story in his own words. The letters are not in chronological order -- the story itself is.
NOTE: Cecil died on April 15, 2004 -- another hero and good friend who will be missed by many. Read article from the King County Journal here.
Neil MacPherson & Owen Heron
Official MacPherson - Heron page: Correspondence and Newspaper Articles
Gerry is originally from the Netherlands and is now living in Australia. He spent 9 months at Camp #1 in Hakozaki, and you can read an excerpt from his book about his experiences in Fukuoka [early photo (8K)]. He wrote me the following letter on February 25, 2002:
From The West Australian:
XVI. Letters & Comments
My late uncle, Philip MacFarlane, was stationed at Brady/Hakata in 1945-1946 as part of the initial occupation troops. He was a navigator in the Army Air Corps and flew on missions against Japan in the last stages of the war. These troops were gradually replaced by new troops arriving from the US, and he mustered out in 1946.
He did tell me one particularly sad story that I will never forget. When they arrived in Fukuoka some of the remaining POWs in the camp were in pretty rough shape, too weak to move to the better medical facilities in Tokyo. One in particular was deeply depressed, almost totally uncommunicative, and when he was well enough to travel, my uncle and another guy were given the task of bringing him to Tokyo by train to receive psychiatric help. While waiting in a train station, I do not know whether it was in Fukuoka or not, the man jumped in front of a train pulling into the station and killed himself. My uncle said that he saw a lot of stuff when he was in World War II, but that incident always bothered him the most. The war was over. The guy was going home. Yet he just could not take it anymore, after surviving the almost unbelievable conditions you describe in the POW camps. My uncle was a pretty rough and tumble World War II kind of guy. But he never failed to tear up when he told that story. --- Doug Macdonald
I am more impressed than you can imagine... and more horrified. I was familiar with only a minor portion of what you have reported, some after I returned to the US. It is no wonder that residents of Fukuoka never spoke of the matter, some out of shame, others out of fear. The majority, I would like to think, were not aware such uncivilized behavior even took place. Just after the War, and even when I arrived, our own leaders never mentioned those events, merely that American and other foreign prisoners had been resident. I have no doubt this was to spare the resentment and counter-brutality that would ensue had we known.
I knew only one former prisoner of war, Sgt. Sorrentino, and he spoke only of the work and sacrifice he endured. I do not know whether he is alive now, but it is a credit to him that he could return, yet function, in a manner befitting a civilized man.
Some will, I am sure, be angry and resentful that you have reopened the matter, but not I. I appreciate the time, persistence and care this document so clearly shows. --- Roger Rowen (14th USASA 1961-1964)
Amazing! My shock after going through the web pages from Wes was tempered somewhat by my having read, a few years ago, some of the details of the Rape of Nanking (complete with pictures of in-progress vivisection on living Chinese), the Death March on Bataan, and other atrocities. The saddest part comes with the realization that bestial behavior like that is, along with the highest and noblest work we humans have performed, part of the inventory of human potential.
Here, representatives of the same nation of people every one of us learned to love and appreciate as friends, spouses, colleagues; people who made the pouring of tea and arranging of stones in sand sublime art forms were capable of a level of barbarism so low as to be nearly unbelievable. The lesson for me is that we all have that sinister capacity. It is neither racial nor national; it is, in my opinion, just another part of human nature. It resides in us along with the music of Bach, the delicate art of Sesshu, the perfectly crafted plays of Shakespeare and short stories of Yukio Mishima. Its place in human history and in human potential is as secure as those of the discovery of penicillin, germs, blood typing, and quantum physics and as the invention of movable type, steam power, powered flight, and indoor plumbing. The same nation that produced a Senpo Sugihara, who saved the lives of around eight thousand European Jews produced this, another candidate for "darkest hour."
Thanks, Wes, for a wakeup call we may, God forbid, need from time to time -- Lest we forget. --- Chuck Collins (14th USASA 1962-1964)
I have vivid memory of seeing news footage of the Japanese soldiers throwing up babies and catching them on their bayonets as well as Australians being beheaded, and a friend that was on the Bataan death march. I worked with him for a great number of years and he still had a death wish for all Japanese. I understood his feelings and listened to many hours of his tales of horror. He still had nightmares after all the years past.
Thank you for reminding us of how thankful the Americans should be that nightmares such as this did not occur on our lands. I believe that the general American public has no idea what goes on during conflict between nations. They have no idea what war is all about.
During my short stay in Japan and Korea I had no idea that Fukuoka served as one of the POW camps that I had often seen in the news during my earlier years. Looking at the dates you mentioned in your web page, it was only five years later that I was there.
I was stationed at Brady, arrived in Dec 1951 and departed in Dec 1952. Being a flight crew member, I saw most of the South Korean military bases that had facilities for aircraft. We transported military troops, food, and other supplies from Japan to Korea. During the heavy causality period in '52, we transported personnel to Japan from Korea. This was a very sad occasion for me as a lot of the body bags were empty.
After I was discharged, I was fortunate to get a job as a civilian with the Air Force in Quality Assurance. Met a lot of fine folks during my 37 years with the Air Force, both military and civilian. My wife and I had three children and we now have two grand children. We are retired and are caretakers for our grandchildren, by choice. There are other things, but we are enjoying our time with them.
Thank you for the web site and all the information it contains. I am thankful that I did not know of the history of Fukuoka when I was there in 1952.
God bless us. --- Ken Cooper (Brady Air Base 1951-1952)
Wes, you know that I knew of the happenings that went
we first met,
I had no idea that all of this went on. My trip to the Washington
was the first time I knew that such as this went on. Today, I can
the Japanese people for what happened during WWII. I for one am glad
I did not know about it while I was stationed there. Being 20 to 22
old at the time, I don't feel that I could have forgotten it, and
them at the time. Thanks to our Great Lord, today I can forgive them,
I forgive all that sin against me and my kind. I thank the Good Lord
not letting me know about it at the time. For if I had known then, then
may have never gotten to know how kind and great the Japanese people
be. True is the old saying, "What you don't know will not hurt you." I
being that young at the time, I would have taken a much harsher outlook
the Japanese people. This old world has had and still does have a lot
evil people. We just have to pray that the Lord will change them, and
them. --- Ben Phillips (14th USASA
I started to read this "Prisoner of War Camp #1" and had to stop. I am not at all certain about how I feel after reading as far as I did. I have had pleasant feelings toward the Japanese people, they treated me well despite a few thefts. But I placed myself back there and remembered places I had been and wondered about those people I met. What did they know? How did they feel? My own father was with the 10th Army at the invasion of Okinawa and carried lifelong feelings of hatred toward the Japanese. I recently met a man from the Netherlands who was a Japanese POW at the age of six. His family worked for Shell Oil in Borneo before the war and he alone survived. He had unmitigated hatred for anything Japanese. I also knew a man who survived the Bataan Death March. He simply wouldn't talk about it, other than to say he was there. --- Gerald Lively (14th USASA 1958-1960)
The Pacific Theater Remembered in All Its Horrendous Detail
Be sure to visit the Netsurfer Digest Home Page. You can subscribe to their excellent E-zine.
I was appalled upon reading your POW pages. I had heard some about it through the years, but never realized the depth nor the scope of what had actually happened. Thank you, Wes........For the insight and verrry warrrm Hearrrt you obviously possess. --- Russ Meinke (14th USASAFS)
I just want to let you know how much your website has meant to me. I remember much of WWII as a young boy, seeing relatives and neighbors leave our little sawmill community to go serve in the military... many came home wounded, as ex-POWs, and some didn't come home alive. I was profoundly influenced by the events of this terrible war, and proudly collected scrap metal, old paper, and other things that supposedly helped our war effort. About once a month, we would gather at the company store and be shown the latest war department film of our fighting men's struggles.
Later, as the Korean Conflict wound down, most all young men of my age were still facing the draft at some time or other. I chose to enlist in the Army following my first year of college, and get my military obligation over with. I'll never forget what my father told me as I boarded the Trailways Bus to my induction center... "I'm very proud of you son! Serve your country proudly!" My dad never served in the military. He was too old during WWII, had a family, and was 4-F physically. I didn't understand why he was proud of me, I was serving during a period of peace... but later, my mom explained that dad always carried a certain sense of guilt. So military service was a double bonus for me... I have been eternally rewarded for having served in the United States Army, and my dad was proud of me!
This Memorial Day weekend, our older son Barry and his family visited with us. I made a point of showing your website to him, and to say he was captivated would be an understatement. He spent hours here at the computer digesting your documentary. I have forwarded your URL to him at his home in Auburn, Alabama... and I'm sure he'll be in front of his own computer monitor tonight.
Thanks again for your research and hard work. You have provided an educational resource for me and my family. --- Bob McKnight (14th USASAFS Hakata/Brady Air Base 1956-58)
I have been reading the account of camp #1 by Wes Injerd and found it disturbing as I am sure it was for many who served at Hakata. As a young airman with a motorcycle, I traveled the area and visited the old camp near base where it was said prisoners worked the coal mine. I climbed the slag hill and took pictures from the top and have a few of the old camp. Do you believe the mine at Hakata with its slag hill is the one the British and Aussi prisoners of camp #1 were forced to work in during the war? I have not read any detail from prisoner accounts that give a definite location but it sure seems possible that it is the one. The medical experiments in Fukuoka are beyond comment. What a price many young men paid for our chance to serve our country in such a safe and comfortable place as the Hakata we knew in the mid 60s. I am truly humbled by their service. --- Prentiss Gourde
I came across your information regarding conditions at Fukuoka Camp One while doing some research on the brother of a friend of mine, Ted Baumgarten. Ted's brother, SSGT. Otto W. Baumgarten was apparently executed by the Japanese on June 20th 1945 in retaliation for a B29 raid on Fukuoka June 19, 1945. Otto was a blister gunner on a B29, 42-63549 "Empire Express" and his plane was brought down after a collision with a twin engine fighter on May 7th, 1945 over Oita-ken. Along with Sgt.'s Edgar McElfresh and Ralph Romaines, Otto either parachuted to safety or survived the crash on Hachimen Mountain. ( I have in my possession the missing aircrew report dated May 8, 1945 and a letter to Otto's parents dated 28 April 1948).
I have done considerable research on the incident and shared my information with the family who have always appreciated any information I could locate on the subject. Unfortunately, Ted Baumgarten has recently passed away also; but I am still interested in aspects of the incident and wondering how I might find out if those responsible for the inhumane acts were brought to justice. Ted was always quite bitter about the situation and often wondered if justice was served in relation to the crime. According to the letter from the war department to Otto's parents (dated 28 April 1948) "the perpetrator's of this atrocity will be brought to trial in a General Military Government Court in the near future".
I became interested in the case after my wife and I visited our daughter and her husband who were teaching on the Island of Kyushu, Japan several years ago. Upon returning home, Ted mentioned to me that his brother had been captured during an air raid on Kyushu and subsequently executed. He also thought that the Japanese villagers had some type of a memorial to the American aircrew and the Japanese pilots who were involved in the incident. I relayed the information to my daughter and her husband and they eventually found a large peace park with a memorial stone listing the air crew and their home states. Also, there is some type of a museum with pictures of the air crew hanging on the wall and various parts of the air craft that were salvaged after the crash. We have pictures and a video of peace park and museum. It's quite well done and a tribute to all those involved.
I certainly was interested in reading your description of the incidents regarding captured American air crews at Fukuoka POW camps, sad as they might be. Any further information as how to proceed regarding trials would be greatly appreciated. --- Mike Berg [link to email from Berg regarding Baumgarten]
Having just spent two hours "surfing" your site I am in awe! Without a doubt, it is the singular best POW site anywhere on the web. Congratulations! --- Roger Mansell
I was cruising around the net (which I do a bit too often!), looking for information about WWII POWs, and I came across your web site. I want to compliment you on a very, very fine job of presenting information, in terms of site layout, and most importantly of all, content (!).
Fortunately, no one in my family was a POW in the Second World War, but my dad, numerous other relatives, and several friends of the family served in the conflict, while at least one family acquaintance was a POW in Sagan, Germany. I guess I could dub myself as a serious amateur historian (well, I try to be serious about it!), an interest I pursue by sometimes doing my own historical research here and there.
My dad was in the 25th ("Tropic Lightning") Infantry Division during the war, and was stationed in Nagoya as part of the occupation forces after Japan's surrender. As such, he discovered the wreckage of a B-29 and the graves of its crew at one locale, and was indirectly involved in the discovery of some 50 American aviator POWs who'd been murdered, at intervals, through 1945; most were B-29 crewmen.
Learning of those incidents as a kid made a deep impression on me, and years later, after doing some research at the National Archives, I discovered the identity of the B-29 crew, and many of the murdered POWs. I eventually published my findings in Chester Marshall's series of anthologies about the 20th AF, entitled The Global Twentieth, in the late 1980s. I am sure these books can be found on the net, probably at the "Book Finder" web site.
Keep up the fine work! --- Michael G. Moskow http://www.pacificwrecks.com/people/collaborators/moskow/pow.html
I have had the opportunilty to browse through much of your website. You have researched a lot of info relating to former prisoners of war of the Japanese military. The world needs to know with the necessity of the Japanese government apologizing and paying compensation for their wrongdoings. You have my permission to link your page to mine. My website was hurriedly put together. Currently, I am working on a new website with more extensive info relating to the Defenders Of the Philippine Islands--it will replace the current one some time in the future. Keep up the good work. --- Edward Jackfert (former POW, Kawasaki #2)
I have browsed your site on numerous occasions, and am always amazed at the content! Brilliant! My Father was a Jap POW, and after his stint on "The Railway", ended up at Ube, a coal mine on the north shore of the Inland Sea, more or less the same parallel as Fukuoka. Please keep up the good work. --- David Langton
My dear friend John Francken, a previous Dutch POW in Mizumaki, brought your incredible site to my attention today. I first met John many years ago when I covered Dolf Winkler's visit to Mizumaki. If I had had access at that time to all the documents you have amassed and put together I would have written very different articles, I am sure.
I am deeply impressed by all the work you are putting in this project and will do my very best to give it the publicity it deserves. Even after reading just a tiny part of your site, every bone in my body is chilled to the point of freezing. I have covered the issue, yet am shocked once again. It shows how even informed people, know still far too little.
Next month my site (http://ikjeld.com) will be enlarged with a 'Japan Guide' section; pages full of the best sites about Japanese culture and history with short descriptive explanations. In this section I will also have a page about Japanese militarism. If you don't mind I would like to put a link with short description about your site at the very top. --- Kjeld Duits (Journalist, Photographer, Producer)
I am the grandson of Dale E. Plambeck. He was the radar navigator on the B-29 which was shot down on 5 May 1946 and was one of the vivisection POW's. I just wanted you to know that I am so glad I found your article. I knew from a young age what happened to my grandfather, but it is much more real to read it. I have forwarded this to my mother, Dale's only daughter. My Grandmother is still alive in Fremont, Nebraska. She remarried to one of Dale's best friends.This is why I have 2 grandpas who both served in WW2, Merlin in Europe and Dale in Japan. My grandpa Merlin passed away in May of 2000, and never muched liked to talk about Dale much for it angered him. I also am a Desert Storm Veteran and have always found war history very interesting. I would like more information if you have it. And the location of the B-29 memorial of his crash site or photos that can be blown up if possible. Again thank you for writing the article, it means so much. --- Bob Bruner (read here Bob's paper for his American History class, Atrocities Towards Prisoners Of War)
My cousin forwarded your web page on the Kyushu University Vivisection history, which I read with great interest. Around the time I was 10 (1980 or so), I learned that my grandmother had been married to a man prior to my grandfather, and that her first husband had died as a POW in Japan in World War II. My parents told me he had had his blood removed and replaced with seawater just to see what the effect would be. As a teen (and a rebellious no-nukes idealist at that) I thought that it all sounded so unreal - such an atrocity could never have occurred to someone from my family. What a real honor (and in some ways, a horror) it was to see his story and picture up on your web page. I want to thank you for your time, effort, research, and commitment to the history of the Fukuoka camps. --- Todd Davis (grandson of Eula "Toni" Anthony, war widow of Lt. Dale E. Plambeck)
Fepow Community Top Site Award
To Wes Injerd
Your site: Prisoner
of War Camp #1 Fukuoka,
This is awarded in appreciation for all the hard work you have put in and as a thank you for sharing the information with others.
Ron Taylor - Fepow Community
I know that a lot of POWs were forced to work at various coal mines in Fukuoka. As you know, there were about 90 prison camps in Japan during World War 2. I have been studying about the prison camps in Hiroshima prefecture for the past seven years. We volunteer people are now studying about Mukaishima POW camp and the Innoshima one. Both were located in the islands in the Seto Inland Sea in Hiroshima Pref. Some British POWs have already visited their former camps for the first time in about 50 years. All of them said to me, "The trip to Japan has helped me to lay many of the ghosts to rest which have haunted me since the end of the War. I'm glad I have lived to see the day when we are all friends again." When I hear this from them, I feel nothing is so rewarding as this volunteer work. --- Koshi Kobayashi (volunteer worker, Mukaishima Monument Committee)
I began to feel ashamed not to have known the war tragedies you are citing, as soon as I broused in your webpage. I also feel that these are the kind of stories which any government would try to hide. As your pages grow, I will catch up and say something about them. --- Ryuichi Tanaka, Fukuoka University