Kobe House POW Camp
Osaka POW Command

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Kobe House POW Camp
Camp completely destroyed in incendiary raid; this was the Swire and Butterfield warehouse previously used by the American civilians captured at Guam.
Kobe POW Camp 2-B
History and Timeline:
23 Sep 1942:
Established as KOBE BRANCH CAMP at KOBE-shi, KOBE-ku, ITO-cho 28
First men were Royal Scots & English ex Lisbon Maru- arrived few days after 23 Sep 1942
13 Oct 1942: First Americans arrive ex Rykuyo Maru
18 Feb 1943:
Renamed 1-B
7 June 1943: Australians arrive ex Wales Maru
5 Jun 1945
: Destroyed by air-raid;
POWS moved to MAYASHIDA-ku, MARUYAMA-cho 2-1
21 Jun 1945: Moved to WAKIHAMA-cho (West side of Kobe)
Aug 1945: Renamed Kobe 2-B
September 1945: Rescue Effected

Location Map
Nearby Memorial

50 American men were sent up to Japan on the Rykuyo Maru on 13 Oct 1942 (not the later sailing in 1944) and were sent to "Kobe House", a former warehouse of the Butterfield-Swires Company. The 50 men included 15 volunteers from the convalescent ward at Bilibid plus 30 officers and five enlisted men gathered from Leyte, Illilo and Panay Island. They joined the Australians already present.

Japanese Camp Staff:

A partial list of Japanese staff, mostly the nicknames. Supplied by Simon Harmon, son of British POW Alan Harman: Picture of Guards

Camp Photographs & Sketches:

Excellent photos showing work at Nippon Express (Nippon Tsuun) sites
Primary Labor Use:
Stevedores on Kobe docks. Also labored in warehouses owned by Mitsui and Sumitomo.

Hell Ships:
Lisbon Maru
- carried Royal Scots & British from Hong Kong [Recommended book]
Ryukyu Maru - carried Americans from Philippines
Wales Maru (Weills Maru- Byoki Maru) - carried 250 men, 2nd of 30th Aussies to Kobe

Time Line: from Japanese Osaka Records, PW Information

NOTE: Kobe Hospital was a separate camp in the foothills on the north end of Kobe. Camp Report and Deceased roster also lists the men injured in the June air raids - link to Kobe Hospital. After it was burned down in the 5 June 1945 air raid, the patients and staff were moved to Kobe Kawasaki Camp. Kobe Hospital Summary

Photo collection: Bombing of Kobe, June 5, 1945

History of the 2nd-30th AIF men- Excellent story of these gallant Aussies. Particularly good account of this unit and a complete nominal roster.

Camp Rosters:
Unknown number of Royal Scots and British survivors of the Lisbon Maru were present when Australians arrived.
Australians: "J" Force
Americans: General interim roster
Americans: - Liberation Roster
OSA-02 Roster (WO361-1963) - American, British, Dutch, Australian, Canadian, Chinese, Greek, Irish, Maltese

British POW Alan Harman, Royal Arty- ex Lisbon Maru.

Books Describing Life at Kobe House:
  • The best book is the compiled "History of 'J' Force" by Alex Dandie. Dandie summarizes all events in logical order with many first person accounts. If you can find a copy under US$200.00, consider it a bargain. Simply the best POW camp compilation ever produced. A major contribution to history.
  • Equally rare is Arthur Locke's "Kobe House P.O.W. No. 13" which relates his story from capture on Batann and ultimate rescue in Kobe. Well written and very factual.
  • Sinking of the Lisbon Maru- the story of the men who were transported to this camp.
  • "Summer Will Come Again" - John Lane (formerly Jack Ramsbottom)
  • FORGED IN BLOOD AND MUSIC: A story of friendship, courage, and survival by Robert Widders - Story of Lance Bombardier Joseph Denton, an "amazing, epic, and sometimes unenviable tale." Denton served as a volunteer medical orderly in the hospital at Kobe House and would perform musical compositions.