Forbes' Diary

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General description of transfer to Japan. [Nagato Maru] Departs Manila on 9 Nov 1942, arrives Moji on 26 Nov 1942. Sent with 500 men to Tanagawa. [over 400 sent to Hirohata] When the camp was disbanded on 28 Mar 1945, Forbes was sent to Fukuoka #11 [see below] with 69 men. Fukuoka #11 already had approximately 500 British & Dutch POWS.

Begins with page 3- no other identity given in folder

Trip to Japan:

On 6 Nov 1942 I was transferred from Cabanatuan with about 1000 [actual 1600, 20 died en route] Americans to Japan, arriving there 26 Nov 1942. This trip was made under the most horrible conditions. About 600 men were placed in one hold on an old freight ship. The hold seemed to be about 30' x 40' in area. There was no room for lying down. The temperature was extremely hot, with no ventilation except through the hatch. Japanese soldiers occupied the two upper decks, while the prisoners had the lower one. The food consisted of rice, some fish and soup. Latrine facilities were two tubs (wooden) in the middle of the men and a one-place latrine upstairs. A waiting line about two hours long was necessary.

Tanagawa Location:
After arriving at Moji, Japan, 26 Nov 1942, I was sent with a group of 500 enlisted men and officers to a new prison at TANAGAWA, a small town near Osaka. This place was a small ship building yard where submarines and naval corvettes were built. The yard was being enlarged and all American enlisted men were put to work moving rock hills and digging stone and earth out of the new dry-docks.

The mess here for the first winter consisted of rice and thin watery soup, and the quantities of both were very small, There was very little cooking oil issued to be used in the soup at irregular intervals. The rice probably averaged 500 to 600 grams per day, per man. There was probably a pint of chopped green vegetables (greens and turnips) per day per man. Occasionally there was a small piece of fish per man.

Hospital Facilities:
The hospital was a rough wooden barracks with practically no heat furnished. Patients lay on the floor. There were small amounts of Japanese medicines. Men were never admitted to the hospital on recommendation of the two American doctors until it was approved by the Jap medical orderly (A soldier in the Japanese army). As a result, many men died within one or two days after being admitted. I believe 90 % of the approximately 100 men who died here in the winter of 1942 - 43 died from starvation, cold, beatings and filth. All men went about three months from the time they left to Philippines before they were able to take a bath when bathing facilities were established. Lice were responsible for some deaths. There was no change of clothes during this period.

Housing was of the Japanese army barracks type: mud plastered building about 80' x 18', with board floors to sleep on, and very little heat from charcoal, furnished only occasionally. The barracks were bitter cold, and almost every one went all winter without ever getting warm. Five captured Chinese blankets made of thin cotton were the bedclothes.

The latrines were the type used all over Japan: concrete pits and covered.

For recreation there was a library of YMCA books, and later of Red Cross books. The men were permitted to read them only on rest days, which came about once in two weeks.

Red Cross Parcels:
About one Canadian Red Cross box to 5 or 6 men was received here the first winter. They were badly pilfered by the Jap camp officials.

No mall was received here until the latter part of 1943, although each man was allowed to write possibly six letters. presumably most of them were never sent out of the camp.

The men worked an average of 8 or 18 hours per day. Rest days came once in two weeks and finally four times a month. The work in rocks was strenuous and the men were constantly being overcome by exhaustion and hunger. The American officers were forced to do camp work and cremate the dead, and other humiliating work, such as cleaning latrines, cleaning the Japanese quarters, and pulling carts with ropes over the countryside with camp supplies. Gardening made up a good part of their time, and the vegetables were shared by the Japs and prisoners. Both officers and men were beaten by the Jap almost every day.

Japanese Camp Officials:
The first commander of this camp was Sgt.Major Tanaka – for about one month. Lt. Hayami was in command from about Jan 1,1943 until about August 1943. Lt. Kuranishi was in command then until the camp broke up in March 28,1945.
Other officials were ex-soldiers: Amoya, Kamura, Hyashi, Fukuda, Ikeda, Takagi, and Tuda. Many others were changed whose names I did not learn.
After this camp was put in command of Lt. Kuranishi the men fared very well by Jap camp standards. The food picked up, and the hard work slacked up, and also the beatings. About five Red Cross parcels were received per man in this camp, and some bulk Red Cross was received from South Africa and America. Practically every man received some mail and a personal package in the latter part of 1943.
This camp was disbanded March 28, 1945, and the men were broken up into small groups and sent to different parts of Japan. My group of 69 officers and men were sent to Fukuoka Prison Camp #11, on the island of Kyushu. There were already approximately 500 British and Dutch prisoners in this camp.


The camp at Tanagawa, Japan, was disbanded March 28, 1945, and the men were broken up into small groups and sent to different parts of Japan. My group of 69 officers and men were sent to Fukuoka #11, [renamed Hiroshima #4 Mukaijima] on the island of Kyushu. There were approximately 500 British and Dutch already in this camp.

Medical, housing, latrines and recreation conditions were practically the same as they had been in the Tanagawa camp (see folder on Tanagawa), although the food was cut until it would have caused the death of most of our men here had the war carried on a another winter.

The work here by the officers was gardening and camp administration, The enlisted men worked in coal mines under horrible conditions. They were beaten almost continually by the mining officials. At the close of the war fifteen or eighteen Americans out of the sixty-nine were still able to go to the mines to work. The others were exhausted from starvation. The average American's weight was roughly 105 lbs.

Camp commanders here were changed three times in 5-1/2 months. I have forgotten their names. Other officials were Haito, Goto, Stresaki (?) and Sakata.

A complete report on this camp was mad e by the British officer in command, who came there when the camp was established.

Names of American commanders who have more complete records, who were in Tanagawa camp, are:
Major Stockton D. Bruns, Louise, Texas.
Major John M. Galbraith, Jr., High Springs, Florida
Major George W. Campbell (Medical Dr.), 2955 Neil Ave, Columbus, Ohio.