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XIII. Books & Videos/DVDs

There are over 100 books in print written by or about POWs -- there are probably hundreds more unpublished memoirs. I've made just a short list of some of the books I have; I wish I could read all the ones that are out there. Many of these books have descriptions at and some have reader reviews that are very useful. If you want to purchase some of the harder-to-find titles, a good site for used books is Dr. Charles Roland has a very extensive bibliography in his book. Feel free to send webmaster Wes Injerd your recommendations.

One of the largest collections of POW books and interviews has been assembled by Robert S. La Forte, professor emeritus of history at the University of North Texas, to which he donated his collection (article 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 North Texas Archives, which also holds approximately 200 interviews of POWs of Japan. The North Texas Library also has about 50 volumes which I did not duplicate with my holdings. All the books in my collection are in English and concern mainly Americans, Canadians, Australians, British, and New Zealanders. They also include a few Dutch and Asian captives." Of note are the many books written just after the end of WWII. A listing of the books can be found here:



Also view this search at for all books relating to POWs (ranked by latest publication date). A broader search here at Google Books. See Recommended New Books for a list of additions with descriptions.


Hidden Horrors: Japanese War Crimes in World War II, Yuki Tanaka, 1998

Prisoners of the Japanese in World War II, Van Waterford, 1994

This fact-filled reference book is a must for all 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 3 years.

NOTE on hellships: "More than 62,000 POWs were transported 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 MUST-READ!!!]

In the Words of Gavan Daws...

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. Every POW 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 best 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.

Unjust Enrichment, Linda Goetz Holmes, 2001 [Excellent!]

"In these pages, American ex-POWs tell in 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."

Long Night's 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 relating to POWs, especially those men and women who served in the British Commonwealth, more particularly Canadian. Good coverage is given on seven POW camps in Japan: Osaka #2 (Narumi) and #3 (Oeyama), Niigata #5, Kawasaki (Yokohama) #3-D, Fukuoka #5 (Omine), Sendai #2 and Omori (Tokyo); also two Tokyo-area POW hospitals, Sagamihara and Shinagawa. The final two chapters are well worth the purchase of this 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 with 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 Jason A. 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.

Ghost Soldiers: The Forgotten Epic Story of World War II's Most Dramatic Mission, Hampton Sides, 2001

"Among the plenitude of wartime horrors, 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, Booklist

Death on the Hellships: Prisoners at Sea in the Pacific War, Gregory F. Michno, 2001

The Japanese treatment of prisoners of war 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 Hell Ship Oryoku Maru, Judith L. Pearson

On December 13, 1944, POW Estel Myers was 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 BEAST, 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 FATHERS

Flyboys: A True Story of Courage, James Bradley, 2003

Flyboys is the true story of young American 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 ni, 2003)

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

Prisoner of Hope, Jesse Miller, 1989

Jesse Miller died on February 22, 2001. His wife, 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 -- forgiving 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.

Itchy Feet, Ted & Ardes Spaulding, 1999

In this down-home type book, Spaulding tells of 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 and inhumane:

"I was a cigarette smoker in those days 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 Mrs. Spaulding: 938 Custer Ave. NE, Huron, SD 57350. Cost is $20 plus shipping.

It 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.

The Japanese 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.

The 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 executed.

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 the coat.

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.

Unknown 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.

I 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 diet.

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.

We 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 of Japan.

In Memory of Ted Spaulding
September 28, 1913 - January 4, 2002


Theodore 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.

In 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 year".

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.

After 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.

His 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.

For 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.

Grateful 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

Read about 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 war (see similar hospital ship), Kephart wrote home to his mother:
I am almost at a loss as to what to do 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 Nolthenius, February 1998 (Limited copies available; read the excerpt below) - February 2002 photo of Gerry and his wife, HennieSketch of Hakozaki camp showing where bomb hit that was intended for Najima Power Plant

Any "book" has to have a title and this 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 massacres 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 of 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 life and all the "disappointments" turned out to be the best for me. I've been very blessed indeed with a marvellous wife, children and grandchildren.

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

Gerry Nolthenius

Published February 1998

Early 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.

However, 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.

In 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.

We 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 and kicking.

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.

The camp 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.

If 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.

Another 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.

To 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 agreeable.

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.

Our 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 inside.

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.

The 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.

The 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.

A 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 again.

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.

Actually, 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 either.

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.

Amongst 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.

Fukuoka 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 the platform.

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.

If the 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 water.

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 was finished.

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 platform.

Practically every day we saw activities which showed that the war was getting nearer to the Japanese homeland.

It 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.

Anyway, 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 the kitchen.

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.

It 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.

Very 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.

Sometime after 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).

I was 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 show up.

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.

One morning (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.

About the 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.

Everything 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 everything.

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.

It 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 the years.

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).

One 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 overlords.

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 time.

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 the vermin.

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.

We 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.

Despite our 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.

A large 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 children.

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.

We 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.

On 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.

Under the Samurai Sword, Clarence M. Graham, 1998 (Cal was shipped to Japan in July 1944 on the Canadian Inventor and was sent to Fukuoka Camp #17, Omuta. From there he saw the mushroom cloud on that fateful day in Nagasaki. See his article here, and also a CNN broadcast transcript (link outdated) 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 in Fukuoka)

I have in my possession an autographed 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 available for $12.00. -- Richard H. Goms Jr., 320 Gordon Lane #E11, Salt Lake City, UT 84107

Here is a description of the book from the dustcover:


Perhaps no story to come out of World War II 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, searingly 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 reaches 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.

"Notify Alec Rattray...", Meg Parkes, 2002

A story of survival during WWII, "Notify 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 & Sunderland 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 to 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, visit:

Father Found, Duane Heisinger, 2003

Baby of Bataan, Joseph Q. Johnson, 2004

The Fallen, Marc Landas, 2004

A Long March Home, Clarence K. Larson, 1998

An Angel on My Shoulder, Geoffrey Monument, 1996

Conduct Under Fire, John A. Glusman, 2005

Devil at My Heels: A Heroic Olympian's Astonishing Story of Survival As a Japanese Pow in World War II, Louis Zamperini, 2004

On May 27, 1943, Louis Zamperini's B-24 crashed into 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 was 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 Greatest 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 students 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 up skateboarding.

Horyo: Memoirs of an American Pow, Richard M. Gordon, Benjamin S. Llamzon

Knights of Bushido, Lord Russell, 1958

Frank Lovato's 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 language 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 appreciated.

Thanks to your info, Dad and I spoke with Mr. 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 5-7 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 Fukuoka 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 and Japanese Wartime Atrocities, Marc Landas, 2004

When a rumor first crossed Special Agent Philip 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 Japan.

The Fallen at last reveals the full 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 the 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 II.

To compound the tragedy, the U.S. authorities released the 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 truth 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, 1971

The Yamato Dynasty: The Secret History of Japan's Imperial Family, Sterling and Peggy Seagrave, 1999

Gold Warriors, Sterling and Peggy Seagrave, 2002 (Sequel to The Yamato Dynasty)

"The Seagraves have uncovered one of the biggest secrets of the Twentieth Century." --- Iris Chang, author of The Rape of Nanking

It has taken Holocaust victims nearly six decades 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 Francisco 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 former slave-laborers.

While denialists maintain that Hirohito was a man 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 about 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, drawing 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 The signed edition is available with two CDs containing thousands of pages of documents and photographs assembled in the course of the research.

Magic: The Untold Story of U.S. Intelligence and the Evacuation of Japanese Residents from the West Coast during WW II, David D. Lowman, 2001

In late 1940 members of the U.S. Army 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 number 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, ignoring 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, using 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 story compelling.


Disgrace: The Truth of the Kyushu University Vivisection Incident (Omei: "Kyudai Seitai Kaibo Jiken" no Shinso), Toshio Tono, 1979, 1998, Bungei Shunshu

The True Story of the "Kyushu University Vivisection Case": An Empirical Record of the Last Witness (Shinso "Kyudai Seitai Kaibo Jiken"), 2019, Bungei Shunshu

Vivisection: The Kyushu University Medical Department Incident (Seitai Kaibo: Kyushu Daigaku Igakubu Jiken), Fuyuko Kamisaka, 1982, Chuo Koron-sha
[NOTE: Dr. Tono does not have a very high opinion of this "tabloid-type" book.]

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 Tragedy 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 POW Camp (Heiwa wo Mamoru: Naoetsu Horyo Shuyojo no Higeki wo Koete), Niigata Prefecture Board of Education, 1997 [Tokyo #4 Naoetsu]

At a Mine in a Strange Land: A Record of Forced Labor 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 Reda Productions (A & E Entertainment, 2000) [Soon to be in Japanese!]

History Undercover: The Bataan Death March, A & E Home Video, 2000

Sleep My Sons: The Story of the Arisan Maru, Shawnee Brittan Productions for Westar Entertainment, 1997

Wake Island (1942), Universal Studios, 2001

Three Came Home (1950), Gotham Distribution, 2002

Paradise Road, 20th Century Fox, 1997 ("Set in World War II Singapore, European women imprisoned by the Japanese seek solace from the horror of their imprisonment by forming a vocal orchestra.")

Song of Survival, Janson Associates, 1985 -- The documentary version of Paradise Road.

They survived three-and-a-half years in a 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

To End All Wars, 2001, Argyll Film Partners

Changi, 2002, Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Prisoners of the Sun, 2004, Uav Corporation (original Australian movie, Blood Oath, 1990)

Brian A. Williams (writer / producer of Blood Oath) was kind enough to share with us the following:

Blood Oath is based on a true story 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 more

Bataan Rescue, Paramount Home Video, 2005 (PBS page American Experience: Bataan Rescue)

The Great Raid, Miramax, 2005

XIV. POW Issues

A. Lawsuits (LAWSUIT PAGE)

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 labor during his captivity in Japan. He visited us in December 1999 and we went down to where the largest POW camp in Kyushu once stood -- Omuta Camp #17. He often comes to Japan to give lectures. Following are some letters and articles telling about his lawsuit and visit to Omuta. Also included is his 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 you until now about my legal confrontations with the Japanese Company Mitsui, regarding my forced labor, personal damages and the need for an apology. As you may recall, Mitsui is the corporation that owned the coalmines in Japan where I was forced to 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 reasons we decided to take this Action was Senate Bill 1245, which eliminated the Statue of Limitations for those cases involved with slave labor. This California Legislation was signed into Law by the Governor of California on July 27th, 1999.

A very important, but perhaps overlooked provision of the new Law is that it allows not only survivors of Japanese POW camps to bring an action, but also specifically allows heirs of survivors to bring actions.

The Law Firm representing me is Herman, Middleton, Casey and Kitchens, a national Law Firm that has a large number of outstanding trial lawyers in a number of states. The members of this firm have successfully sued many national and multinational corporations, including the tobacco industry, the asbestos industry and Exxon in the Oil Spill Litigation.

As you know, a lot of the corporations that used POW labor in Japan include some of the largest companies in the world today, such as Mitsui, Yodogawa Steel Corporation and others. It is clear that the requirement, both monetary and research expertise, needed to successfully sustain lawsuits of this nature requires a firm with substantial resources at their disposal, and I have such a law-firm.

I realize the impact this Bill and my Lawsuit means to other POW or their heirs and because of that I hereby give you permission to share this information with members of CFIR, so that they may benefit from these events.

With best personal regards, I remain


Les Tenney

Newspaper article re lawsuit (Aug. 13, 1999)

U.S. ex-POW sues Mitsui for forced labor

Visit to Omuta

Tenney overlooking former site of Omuta POW Camp #17
Tenney overlooking former site of Omuta POW Camp #17

NishiNihon Shinbun (West Japan Newspaper)

December 9, 1999

Lester & Betty Tenney at news conference in Omuta Former POW Lester Tenney (right) visits old Mitsui Miike Mine after 54 years




Former college professor from the U.S., Lester Tenney (79), on the 8th, after 54 years, visited Omuta City's old Mitsui Miike Mine site where he worked in forced labor during WWII.

At a press conference which was held afterwards at Omuta City Hall, Tenney made his appeal: "Mitsui profited from the forced labor, and for its own 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 war. "We had to dig tunnels using dynamite, very dangerous work. We were made to work 12 hours a day. I started out weighing 85Kg, but when I was set free I was only 40Kg," said Tenney, looking back on the harsh labors in the coal mine.

In July of this year, a new law was enacted by the State of California lengthening the statute of limitations for seeking war reparations by those forced to work during WWII. Tenney in August filed a lawsuit with the California Court asking for compensation from the Mitsui Mining Company.

In regards to his lawsuit Tenney remarked, "Even though the Mitsui Miike mine has closed down, Mitsui's responsibility for the inhumane use of POWs for forced labor has not disappeared."

  • For more on the POW camp in Omuta, read the official Report on Omuta Camp #17.

  • Also read Medical Officer Hewlett's account in which he describes the various maladies that afflicted Camp 17 POWs.

  • Linda Dahl Weeks' project on Omuta #17 - detailed info and bio's of the men at Camp #17.

  • Louis Goldbrum was at Camp #17 and wrote: "I was held in 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"

  • Read these articles about Frank Bigelow, one of the POWs interned at this infamous camp: A Soldier's Story, Bataan Death March and ORDINARY HERO. Frank passed away on July 9, 2003.

  • Article by Clarence Graham who was a POW at Omuta #17 and saw the A-bombing of Nagasaki. See also his bio here.

Tenney's Speech to U.S. Senate

Dear Friends and Family:

I am taking this opportunity and method of sharing with you some new developments in my fight for the POW issue.

I have been asked by Senator Hatch to be a witness at a Senate Judiciary Hearing this coming Wednesday on POW issues. I had to prepare a written statement 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 insight 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. Being here today in the presence of this prestigious body of lawmakers is a most humbling experience. I am indeed honored to have been asked to be a part of this momentous and historic occasion.

In early 1942 I, along with 12,000 other Americans who were fighting and defending our country on the Bataan Peninsular, were promised from our Government supplies, food and reinforcements so that we could continue our defense of the Philippines. As history has shown, the promise made by our government was never fulfilled. During one of President Roosevelt's Fire Side Chats, made in February of 1942, we sat in our Tanks and listened as our President informed the American people that, "in every war there are those who must be sacrificed for the benefit of the whole war effort." We suddenly realized he was talking about us! We were being sacrificed, abandoned for the benefit of the over-all War effort. Well Senators, we were able to live with that, after all we were proud young men and women serving our country, and we took 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 like to share with you what exactly it means to be a prisoner of war. First of all you are stripped of every human right you thought you had. You are constantly reminded of the fact that you are cowards, you are lower than dogs, and you have no rights whatsoever. You are humiliated beyond belief and your faith and morals are challenged on a daily basis. Sickness and diseases like dysentery, malaria, beriberi, scurvy and pellagra run rampant in your body. The smell of death is everywhere; it lingers in your nostrils for what seems like a lifetime. Many of the survivors have stated that they would have preferred death rather than captivity by the Japanese if they had known ahead of time what was going to happen.

Now here we are 58 years later, survivors of these barbaric and sadistic events, and we are once again informed that we are again being sacrificed and abandoned by our own Government, but this time not for the War effort, but instead for the benefit of those large Japanese industrial giants who profited from our slave labor. I must say, I once again feel that I have been taken prisoner, but this time by my own country. My dignity and honor are slowly being diluted. The Japanese beat me with guns and swords, my country is beating me down with words. Please allow me to explain. Last year the State of California decided to seek justice for those veterans who were captured by the Japanese and made prisoners of war. The California Legislature unanimously passed a statute that was enacted into law allowing claims for compensation for those veterans who were used as slave laborers to go forward in the courts irrespective of the running of the statute of limitations. Pursuant to this law, I, along with many other former POWs who were enslaved by Japanese companies during World War II, have since filed lawsuits seeking equality and justice.

Shockingly, the U.S. Department of Justice has recently filed a court submission, the effect of which would nullify the action of the California

Legislature in seeking to open up State courts for American POWs who are pursuing fair compensation for back wages and injuries suffered at the hands of the many private profit-seeking industrial giants of Japan. Equally distressing is the fact that the same Justice Department has taken a "hands off" position with regards to the same treaty issue as that of the German Holocaust victims.

This is incomprehensible to me, especially as our government in recent years awarded reparations to Japanese American citizens, (thousands, who were classified as Japanese spies and Japanese sympathizers, were also awarded this compensation) who were placed into relocation centers during World War II. In addition, I am happy to say our Government worked diligently to help resolve the claims brought by victims of German atrocities during the Holocaust of World War II.

I am speaking as one of the survivors of the Bataan Death March who survived the atrocities of a barbaric group of victors. The beatings and torture we went through on a daily basis was not half as formidable as having to watch as the Japanese victors shot, bayoneted, buried alive or decapitated our friends who unfortunately were unable to continue the March, and we were then forced to witness these slayings.

After surviving the Bataan March, I was taken to Japan on a Hell ship. Once there I became a slave laborer in a coal mine owned by Mitsui. I was forced to shovel coal 12 hours a day 28 days a month, for over two years. And the reward I received for this hard labor was; beatings by the civilian workers in the mine. The reason for these beatings was because I did not work fast enough, did not shovel enough coal that day, or because the Americans won an important battle. We got to know how the War was progressing by the frequency and severity of the beatings, and the beatings were usually with a pickax, a hammer or a chain, whatever the Mitsui overseers in the mine were able to get their hands on.

Now I, along with many of my former POW friends, are seeking justice from the Japanese companies that placed us into servitude. Our plight for recognition of this wrong has been studiously ignored by our own government, and now we are slowly coming to the end of our lives and we would like once-and-for-all to see swift justice done on our behalf. We would like to gain back our honor and dignity, and have our country, in some small way, make amends for failing to fulfill their previous obligations and promises.

I feel as if I am once again being sacrificed, abandoned not for the War effort as in the past, but for the benefit of Japanese big business. We are being abandoned by our Department of Justice and our judicial system. I urge you Senators, use your position within our government to correct this wrong and to have our Justice Department turn away from this misguided course of action. We need all segments of our government to accept responsibility for their deeds and their actions.

The court papers recently filed by the Justice Department in the court proceeding (U.S.D.C., N.D. Case No. C000064) effectively takes away our right for recovery of a wrong perpetrated against us by a guilty and negligent Japanese Industrial giant who used us as their slaves, without compensation, without caring for our well being and without controlling the actions of their employees.

The Justice Department erroneously or negligently issued a formal submission to the courts of our Nation, omitting the most crucial issue of the San Francisco Peace Treaty, which the Justice Department was asked to review, Section 26, known as, "The Most Favored Nation Clause," which states, "Should Japan make a peace settlement or war claims settlement with any State granting that State greater advantages than those provided by the present Treaty, those same advantages shall be extended to the parties to the present Treaty." Records of our State Department show that at least six other nations have been granted more favorable treaty terms than those given to the United States. Article 26 when properly interpreted allows victims of forced or slave labor to seek recovery for the wrong perpetrated against former prisoners of war during WW II. Yet, the Justice Department studiously ignores it in its statement of interest and mentions not one word about Article 26, even though it had been briefed on this issue.

Thank you Senators for listening to my statement about honor, injustice and responsibility. We served our country with honor, we have had our share of 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 interested in my lawsuit against Mitsui Mining, I thought you may be interested to read 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
Phone: 858-454-8310

October 2, 2000

Dear Mr. President:

Your personal letter to me a few years ago made a dramatic change in my life and restored my pride in knowing that what we accomplished on Bataan and what we went through while on the Bataan Death March would not be forgotten. (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. After the surrender of the Philippines, we were taken to Japan and placed into servitude with many different Japanese companies. We received only enough food to work another day. Our medical care was practically non-existent and company employees often beat us. Some of us were injured severely or died due to the unsafe conditions in the coalmines, copper, lead and zinc mines or at the factories in which we were enslaved. The death rate for POW's in Japan was 37.3 per cent.

Knowing the history of our servitude and understanding that our cause of action is not against Japan as a nation, nor the Japanese people, why is the State Department now bending over backwards protecting the very Japanese industrial giants that enslaved us during WW II? Just last month in the courtroom where our case is being heard, our State Department took it upon themselves to argue on behalf of the Japanese companies. I cannot describe the feelings I had when my own government submitted voluminous briefs in favor of these industrial giants, and I was shocked to have to witness my own government's attorneys arguing in the courtroom for dismissal of my lawsuit and they did this as a friend of the Japanese companies that had brutally enslaved me and thousands of other Americans.

I was proud that the United States chose to champion the cause of those victims that were enslaved by the German Companies during the years of the Holocaust, and to know that our government helped to achieve a victory for justice and set an example for the world to follow. But what I cannot understand is why the United States has turned its back on its own citizens that were enslaved by Japanese companies and has gone to great lengths to legally assist these companies in their fight against we Americans.

After all these years, we victims of Japanese brutality in the workplace, are at last seeking an apology and some form of restitution for the crimes perpetrated against us by these private profit seeking Japanese companies. Mr. President, are we once again being sacrificed by our own government, but this time for the benefit of those very Japanese companies whose profits were made by forcing American citizens into slavery under inhumane conditions?

We are once again having our dignity and pride stripped from us. And in addition, our freedom and constitutional rights as citizens of the United States are also being taken away. I will not burden you, Mr. President, with the details of the action taken by the bureaucrats at the State Department, except to say that it very clear that the State Department has studied this issue in a cursory and political manner without considering any duty to U.S. citizens. We survivors of Bataan and Corregidor need your help, and we need it now. We are all witnessing a severe decline in our health due in large part to our being placed into servitude by these large Japanese companies. Needless to say, our ranks are rapidly dwindling due to age and infirmity.

Please don't once again allow our country to abandon us. Step in and make your voice heard on the issue of our seeking restitution from those Japanese industrial giants that tortured and enslaved us. Our Senate introduced the 'Hatch POW Resolution ' through the support and effort of Senator Hatch and Senator Feinstein, and our Congress, through the efforts of Congressman Gilman, introduced the 'Gilman POW Resolution.' These mirror image bills attempt to encourage our State Department to seek support for our cause and to fight to facilitate discussions designed to resolve all issues between we POWs and the Japanese companies who benefited from our slave labor. Please Mr. President, don't fail us now.

Thank you in advance for whatever you can do to help us in this hour of need.


Lester Tenney
Author of "My Hitch in Hell: The Bataan Death March"

See also Lester Tenney article at ABC-NEWS. He appeared both on 20/20 (May 25) and ABC Evening News (May 27, 2001).


California Portland Cement Co.
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 Corp.
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.
Paceco Corp.
Scientific Sales Co. Inc.
Showa Denko
Sumitomo Heavy Industries Ltd.
Taiheiyo Cement Corp.
Taiheiyo Cement USA Inc.

SOURCE: AXPOW Association

You may follow the progress on POW lawsuits at Justice For Veterans and at War Compensation Claims by WW II Victims.

Lawsuit updates:

U.S. House paves way for POW lawsuits
Daily Yomiuri
July 21, 2001

WASHINGTON (Kyodo) -- The U.S. House of Representatives 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 was sponsored by in the House of Representatives by Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, D-Calif.

The U.S. State Department has submitted briefs to U.S. courts in support of the Japanese government's rejection of lawsuits on the grounds that the 1951 San Francisco treaty had settled all wartime claims.

According to historians, about 50,000 U.S. servicemen 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 never addressed.

Second, contrary to what some have claimed, neither 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 obligations 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 significant, 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 at Japan Today

  • Update from The Quan:



Past National Commander

The Congressional legislative year 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 were 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 defendants Mitsui 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 appropriations 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 matter. Quote:


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 bills 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 been 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. Lester 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.

B. Memorials

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 of ex-POWs from the Netherlands set up this gravesite memorial several years ago. You can read about Dolf Winkler and his desire to establish this memorial site, and the tireless efforts of Hiroshi Kurokawa in making Winkler's dream become a reality. This is truly a story of how wounds can be healed. The town of Mizumaki has a page on the Memorial Cross on its website as well. This article I found interesting, with large portrait of Winkler (Traces of war: Dutch and Indonesian survivors).

[Dutch] Foreign Minister and other officials
visited Kyushu area to offer a prayer before the cross

"When 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."

The 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 Tower.

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.

After 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.

In 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.

Later, getting 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 and ex-detainees.

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.

"If 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 suffering."

Monday, May 15, 2000


2. Soto Dam

A monument memorializing prisoners of war is at Soto Dam in Yunoki near Sasebo, set up in April 1956 by the city. The POWs were from Fukuoka Camp #18, located about a quarter mile above the dam construction site. In the mere 6 months this camp was in operation, some 65 POWs lost their lives during the construction of the dam. Read these excerpts from the affidavits of those who were there.

Photo of monument, 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 Camp Profile PDF file (in Japanese only, listed as fk18_soutou_j.pdf in URL) for maps of this site. UPDATE: A new plaque was installed on May 30, 2010, which reflects an accurate list of the men who perished at this camp. See THE SOTO DAM MEMORIAL for more information and photos.

3. Taketa "Sky Martyrs" Monument

B-29 Crash Site: Erected on May 5, 1977, this cenotaph commemorates the 11 airmen aboard the B-29 as well as the Japanese pilot whose plane hit the B-29. See here for more about this monument and the airmen's fate. A memorial service is held each year at the monument on May 5.

4. Sanko Peace Park

B-29 Crash Site: At 9:10am on May 7, 1945, a B-29, the "Empire Express," went down on Mt. Hachimen in Sanko-mura, Oita-ken, after colliding with a Japanese twin-engine fighter. It had just finished "bombs away" over the target, Usa Airfield, when the fighter clipped the B-29's left wing. There were only three survivors: T/Sgt. Edgar L. McElfresh, Sgt. Ralph S. Romines, and Sgt. Otto W. Baumgarten, all from the 483rd Bomber Squadron, 505th Bomber Group, 20th Air Force Command. The "Empire Express" was the only aircraft lost out of eleven assigned to bomb Usa. Sgt. Tsutomu Murata, the 27-year-old pilot of the fighter plane, did not survive.

The three airmen were brought to the Fukuoka Detention Camp at Western Army HQ, and a little over a month later were taken out to meet their tragic and 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 the airmen, see this Japanese webpage.

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 the Americans and the young Japanese pilot who died in the area. A larger monument (Japanese webpage here) was completed in 1970 by a group of Japanese along with some U.S. officers from Itazuke Air Base (see also this PDF, mostly in Japanese). Yearly memorial services are held at this site on May 3rd and include representatives from all over Japan, including Iwakuni Marine Corps Air Station, making this site the most prominent in all of Kyushu. In the words of one visitor: "I've been to the Washington D.C. monuments to the various wars, Arlington National Cemetery, and the Nagasaki and Hiroshima Atomic Bomb memorials and peace parks. None of them compare to the monument on Hachimen Mountain. It is unique because it was built and maintained as a monument to U.S. soldiers on the Japanese homeland."

Each stone imbedded on 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 war.

--Inscription on the Sanko Peace Park memorial monument

5. Takachiho "Prayer for Peace" Monument

B-29 Crash Site: The B-29 that crashed here on August 30, 1945, was enroute to Miyata POW Camp #12. It was on its final mission, loaded with relief supplies that were to be air-dropped over the newly-liberated, and very undernourished, POWs. Unfortunately, the supplies never reached their intended destination, for the plane Memorial on side of mountain (from Yamabiko-kai site)went down due to poor visibility and crashed into the side of Mt. Sobo, killing all 12 crew members. (For detailed information and photos of target camp sites, see the 20th Air Force Report on POW Supply Missions to China, Korea, Formosa, Manchuria and the Japanese Home Islands. See also Relief of Prisoners of War and Internees.)

Some 900 POW supply flights were run right after the end of WWII, and most had to fly at dangerously low altitudes over mountainous terrain, often with limited visibility. A total of 8 aircraft and 77 airmen were lost.Peace Bell Monument (from Gokasho Elementary School webpage)

Villagers nearby hurried up the mountainside in search of survivors. They only found their bodies amidst the charred remains of the aircraft and its contents scattered everywhere -- clothing, medical supplies, combs and toothbrushes, fruit juice, cocoa.

Through the efforts of many local Japanese, the "Prayer for Peace" Monument was erected on August 26, 1995, as a memorial to those who died. Each year around the 26th of August a memorial service is held at this site in Sanshudai. See this website for photos of the memorial stone and plaque showing the names of the airmen who died.

Hiroshi Kudo has written an excellent book (in Japanese with some English) dealing with some of the aspects of this fatal flight as well as a young Japanese fighter pilot whose plane also crashed in the Takachiho area only a few weeks earlier. This 222-page book, The Bell of Peace, is available from Mr. Shunsuke Ogata at The Takachiho Community Center, 1515 Mitai, Takachiho, Miyazaki 882-1101. The cost is 1500. You can read a translation of an article 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) and the monument on that same webpage.

6. Kihoku Crash Site Monument

B-29 Crash Site: This B-29 crashed on April 29, 1945, during a bombing mission over Miyakonojo Airfield in Kagoshima-ken. All crewmen aboard died in the crash; only 9 bodies were recovered and buried. See list of airmen here.

7. Naoetsu Peace Memorial Park

Outside of Kyushu, another important site is the Naoetsu Peace Memorial Park in Niigata in central Japan, built on the former site of the Naoetsu POW Camp #4B. Most of the POWs there were Australians. A book about the site and events leading up to its construction are recorded in A 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 in 1997 and titled, Preserving Peace: Beyond the Tragedy of Naoetsu POW Camp (Heiwa wo Mamoru: Naoetsu Horyo Shuyojo no Higeki wo Koete). Additional website here.

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 this site, see the Peace & Friendship Monument and Wall Plaque. Also visit their website. Read about an American flag made by POWs at this camp. Another American flag story here (PDF file).

9. Emukae 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 memorial. See Camp Profile PDF file for more information (Japanese only).

10. Nagasaki Memorial for Alien War Victims: Fukuoka Camp #14

For British, American, Australian, Dutch, Indonesian and other Allied POWs who were at Fukuoka Camp #14 -- some 300 were exposed to the A-bomb with between 50 and 60 dying. See Camp Profile PDF file for more information (Japanese only). (Click on images for enlarged view. Images courtesy of Taeko Sasamoto.)

Other Memorial Sites in Japan

  • Omori Peace Memorial, Tokyo: Tokyo POW Main Camp
  • Kanose, Niigata: Building at site of Tokyo POW Camp #16
  • Mitsushima 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, Kyoto: Osaka POW Camp #3
  • Omine Memorial Monument, Ube-Sanyo, Yamaguchi: Hiroshima POW Camp #6. Memorial stone, English -- Memorial stone, Japanese (Source: Arenan)
  • Yokohama War Cemetery: More than 1,700 British Commonwealth POWs (United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, India, Pakistan) are buried here
  • Juganji Temple, Mt. Ikoma, Osaka: Ashes of 1,086 Allied POWs interred here
  • Memorial planned for construction at Ryuhoji temple where 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 Pref.: 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.")
  • Hiroshima Peace 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
  • Niigata 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: Memorial for POWs who died at Hakodate POW camps. British POW visit noted here.
  • Kobe 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.

B-29 Memorial Sites elsewhere in Japan (See also B-29 crashes & airmen killed)

There were some 3,600 crewmen who went down in their B-29's over Japan during World War II. Of those who parachuted out and survived, at least 150 were killed where they landed by local townspeople. Over 40 others soon died due to injuries. In Osaka, out of 53 airmen taken, 8 died of their wounds, 6 were given poison-laced coffee, and the rest were shot and then buried. In Kobe, 43 airmen were either shot or beheaded. In northern Japan, 47 were executed. In Kyushu, 43 airmen were either shot, beheaded or dissected alive. Out of the 530 airmen who became POWs, less than 50% came back to the U.S. alive.

  • 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: Peace Kannon for crew of B-29 which crashed on April 2, 1945.
  • Shizuhatayama? Park, Shizuoka: Two 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 January 3, 1945, after bombing mission over Nagoya.
  • Joyo, Kyoto-fu: Memorial tablets for 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 29, 1945.
  • 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 survivors 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 Mr. Morishige.
  • Oga, Akita: For B-29 airmen

C. Assorted Articles and Images

Former Camp Commandant Shirabe:

Merry Christmas, Mr. Shirabe
by Asami Nagai

The Daily Yomiuri
July 29, 2000

FUKUOKA -- 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 near Nagasaki.

As commandant, Shirabe, now 85, was known for his humanitarian treatment of internees in his charge.

The Shirabes

"It's 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.

As 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.

"I never saw them as enemies," he recalled. "Rather, Japanese soldiers gave me the biggest headache, because some of them stole internees' personal belongings."

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.

"He 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 Remembered."

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.

The 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 exhibition.

"With them, we wanted to suggest that there is a possibility that enemies can live together during a war," Somers said.

Shirabe 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.

After 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 Christian teachings.

"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.

Shirabe recommendation

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
Washington Bureau
(Published Feb. 25, 2001)

WASHINGTON -- 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 Routt's memory.

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 our point."

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.

"I'm sure 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."

Dunlavy, 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' courthouse efforts.

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.

"Without 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.

"That was way before what we usually think of as the start of World War II," noted Lee, who formerly taught at California State University, Sacramento.

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.

Congress previously 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 year.

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.

The 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.

"There 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 they now."

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.

"Anybody 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.

Japan, 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.

"I 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."

Slave 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 away.

"This," Lee said of the archives-opening legislation, "will bring to light all of the secrets."

POW Plight -- Allied WWII prisoners of Japanese still suffer:

POW Plight
Allied WWII prisoners of Japanese still suffer
By Milton Combs

Tokyo Weekender
May 26, 2000

During 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 Steel Corp.

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 & Co.

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."

A report 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 program."

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.

In 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."

Justice? 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.

A closer 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.

To 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 discovered us, 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 the 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, along 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, 1945, when the prisoners marched to freedom. Omtvedt carried the flag at the head of the column.

Omtvedt kept the flag and later presented it to the U.S. Government. It was placed in the Pentagon and is now in the museum at F. Lee, Va.

Another story of a US flag made by POWs (PDF file)

Article by Hiroshi Kudo on B-29 crash in Takachiho:

Excerpt from Northern Miyazaki's Nature Preservation Association Journal, "Tsuchibinoki," No. 2.

("Sobosanchu B-29 Tsuiraku Hiwa")

By Hiroshi Kudo
President of Northern Miyazaki's
Nature Preservation Association

A 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 above.

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.

I 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:

Temperature: 24.2C
Wind Direction: --
Wind Speed: 0
Degree of Cloudiness: 10
Signs of Rain Existing
Humidity: 99%
Rain Fall: 5.5mm

It is certain that the B-29 was traveling under these conditions of extremely poor visibility due to rainfall.

From 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 soon.

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 possible.

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.

When I 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.

When 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.

One 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:


One 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.

Some 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.


After 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.

Upon 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.

After placing 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.

After 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 research work.

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.

While reading 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.

The 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 men's souls.

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.)


On 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.

For the 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 report.

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.

On 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.

When 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.

Resource Materials:
"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

The POWs of the "Doolittle Raiders" with Testimony by DeShazer

Medical Officer Hewlett's article on Omuta Camp #17, Nightmare Revisited:



Dec. 1978

We 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.....

Deficiency 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.....

GASTRO-INTESTINAL 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 gastro-intestinal diseases:

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.

4) 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.

RESPIRATORY DISEASES: 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.

4) 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:

1) Broncho-pneumonia-------20%

2) Lobar-pneumonia-------80%.....

Due 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 quarters.

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, 1945.

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.

MALARIA (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.

SURGERY: Just 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.

Japanese surgeons 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%.

During 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 hospital.

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 distrust.

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.

Underground the 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%)

What 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".....

Leaflet explaining contents of relief supplies air-dropped at Camp #24

Page on Marine Corporal Donald Versaw, POW at Futase Camp #7, including two chapters from his book, Mikado no Kyaku (Guest of the Emperor).

Allen Godfrey Jones -- interned at Fukuoka #1 and #17

Assorted images:

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