PRISONERS OF WAR CAMPS IN
JAPAN & JAPANESE CONTROLLED AREAS AS TAKEN FROM REPORTS OF
INTERNED AMERICAN PRISONERS
LIAISON & RESEARCH BRANCH
AMERICAN PRISONER OF WAR INFORMATION BUREAU by JOHN M. GIBBS,
31 JULY 1946
SENDAI CAMP NO. 11. ON
THE ISLAND OF HONSHU
This camp in the Sendai Group was located in a mining village
in the mountains geographically indicated as Kamikita Kozan (Kozan
in Japanese can be a mountain or a mine) 12 1/2 miles south of
Aomori and 20 miles west of Lake Ogawahara. This is on the northern
coast of the island of Honshu. The coordinates are 40°.30'N.,141°20'E.
The prison compound covered an area of 300' x 300' and was enclosed
by a wood fence.
2. PRISONER PERSONNEL:
The first occupants of this camp was a detail of 198 American
prisoners from Fengtai, China [arriving] 4 July 1945. The personnel
is classified as follows: Army 4; Navy 1: Marines 7; Civilians
186. The civilians were captured on Wake Island and among them
were a few Pan-American mess boys. The only officer in this contingent
was Cmdr William Foley, U.S. Navy Medical Corps. [China Marines Medical Detach] Naturally
Cmdr. Foley was the senior officer, and by reason of his profession
he became the official camp surgeon. (These POWs were from the
camp at Kiangwan, China. The camp was closed and the prisoners
were sent to Fengtai, China for about a month, then on to Pusan,
Korea and by boat to Japan.)
3. GUARD PERSONNEL:
Upon arrival of the American contingent, 2nd Lt.
Uozumi was camp commandant. On 8 Aug. 1945 this officer is
reported to have committed suicide. He was succeeded by Sgt
Maj. Subano a sadist who apparently satisfied his cruel tendencies
by personally beating the prisoners, without provocation, with
clubs and his saber. At the end of the war the Senior Officer
ordered the Japanese Military Police to arrest and hold Subano
until the U.S. contingent of occupation arrived.
4. GENERAL CONDITIONS:
(a) Housing Facilities: The barracks comprised one two-story
building rectangular in shape, unheated, dimensions 40' x 80'
with wood shingle roof and wood floor. All of the interior was
of rough, sawed lumber without insulation of any kind. The kitchen
was located in the north end of the barracks.
(b) Latrines: Connected with the barracks about 20' away by frame
covered path. This facility was built and maintained by the prisoner
personnel and was about 10' wide and 20' long. Boxes which were
emptied daily constituted the receptacles.
(c) Bathing: This bath house was a detached unheated frame building
about 20' north of the barracks, dimensions 40" x 20'. This
facility was equipped with a wood tub 10' x 10', the water being
electrically heated. Bathing was done by dipping the water out
of the tub in buckets.
(d) Mess Hall: As such there was no mess hall. The food was prepared
by prisoner cooks in iron cauldrons in a kitchen connected with
the barracks. The food was served in the barracks.
(e) Food: During the time that the detail of 198 men were at
this camp the food was maintained without variation in inadequate
amount, to-wit; one small bowl of rice and Soya bean mixture
three times daily with about one teacup full of soup made from
weeds gathered by the prisoners from the mountainside. This diet
was the equivalent of about 2,000 calories while the daily output
of energy was about 4,000 calories. The prisoners lost weight
in an average of about three pounds per week. The medicines confiscated
from the storeroom of Red Cross supplies stood between the prisoners
and death. Practically all of them were suffering from beriberi.
After the surrender of Japan the camp officials became meek and
humble and literally showered the prisoners with food.
(f) Medical Facilities: A hospital had not been provided. One
room on the ground floor of the barracks had been set aside for
the sick prisoners which contained eight beds. Little or no equipment
was available, medicines were not issued, and the Camp Surgeon
had to rely almost entirely upon the administration of the medicines
which he and some of the hospital corpsmen had been able to smuggle
from Red Cross medical supplies In the camp storeroom.
(1) Red Cross: Red Cross parcels were in the store room but
were not issued until after the close of the war.
(2) Japanese Issue: No clothing was given to the prisoners until
after surrender. At that time each prisoner was given a complete
(h) Mail: None either in or out.
(i) Work: The work was in an open pit iron mine requiring hard
labor- The jaunt to and from the mine each day imposed additional
hardships. The routine each day was reveille at 4:30. Off to
work at 5:30 down a 750' cliff, a trek of two miles down the
valley and then a climb of 1,000 feet up the mountain to the
mine. No respite from this routine on Sunday or holidays. Wood
cutting details were formed- Japanese civilians were work leaders
in the mines. Some of these leaders are said to have been kind.
others cruel and driving.
(j) Treatment: Upon reaching Sendai No. 11, all of the prisoners
were dispossessed of their personal belongings including all
the medicines and Red Cross supplies which they brought with
them from China. They were allowed to retain one pair pants,
one shirt, one pair of socks and one pair of rubber shoes. Notwithstanding
the fatigue of the prisoners caused by malnutrition and many
days of hard travel, they were without rest, compelled to begin
work in the mine immediately. The prisoners did not have a dry
outfit to change into upon reaching the camp in wet clothing.
Sleep through the night was made impossible by the frequent counting
of the prisoners by the guards and by the further fact that the
barracks were heavily infested with fleas. This camp was called
a veritable "hell hole" by the prisoners.
(1) Officers; Nothing.
(2) Enlisted Men and Civilians: 10 sen per day. The prisoners
were allowed to buy about 15 cigarettes per month.
(I) Recreation: None
(m) Religious Activities: None
(n) Morale: Very low.
Upon liberation of this camp on 12 Sept. 1945 the
entire detail of 198 men were sent to Sendai and from there to