Japanese POWs

#1
I went to see my grandparents recently and was treated (tret?) to a story about my Great uncle Jamie.

Now, I never met Jamie, as he died long ago, in fact I don't think my Dad ever met him.

Jamie was WW2 RAF and I thought some here on ARRSE might be interested in his story (or the one I was told by my Grandad).

Stationed in Singapore during the war, he and his unit escaped to the neighbouring island, occupied by the Dutch. Upon arrival, they were met by the Dutch and said they planned to take to the hills to form resistance. The general answer from the Dutch was "we don't want trouble, we've capitualted, if you resist we'll send native trackers after you and report your positions to the Japanese". Pretty unsporting, but there you go.

They then attempted to take boats from the harbour to sail to Australia, to avoid capture - the dutch again scuppered plans by sinking them.

Eventually the japanese caught up and after a roundabout journey, Uncle Jamie ended up in a Japanese POW Camp near Nagasaki - I have tracked him down to 2 locations, moving near the ned of the war, but he was near Nagasaki when the bombed dropped and was used to clear up the city thereafter.

The ordeal of capture must have been pretty bad, but this must have been pretty horrific - used as slave labour to clear radioactive fallout. Consequently, Jamie was poisoned by the radioactive material.

He told my Grandad (younger) that whne the war was over and the leaflets dropped by americans (shown in attachment), they knew they were to leave. Upon moving to the American troop ship for onward reception by a US carrier, the Japanese Miitary appeared to thank them for their work and gave each man 2 bags of silver yen - by then a worthless currency. Jamie stated that most were so weak that they threw them in the harbour to better reach the boat!

Long trip home, one of the boats they were on gave up off the west coast of the US and was repaired by rescued RN engineers. They made US soil, stayed for approx 10 days and then through Canada to make the Queen Mary (?) for travel home, where he met my Grandad and Great Grandad.

It fascinated me and I must apologise for the brevity (and probable inaccuracy) in the description - my notes are at home.

I have attached the leaflet dropped, scanned in.
 

Attachments

#2
Very interesting. My great grandfather was held by the Japanese at Changi (I believe) and apparently after the war could never bring himself to forgive them.

It still baffles me to this day that in our education system so much time is devoted to the holocaust. As evil as it was, it didn't directly affect many British people. But tens of thousands of British troops were in Japanese captivity, and the death rate among them was 27.1%. Yet it is not touched upon in the curriculum at all.
 
#3
The mortality rate didn't stop when they came home. My great uncle Jack was a FEPOW and was tortured by those lovely tidy little Japanese people. He came home a complete wreck, Malaria and a host of other parisitic stuff picked up in the Burmese jungle. He never recoved and depressed with the constant illnesses and his inability to hold a job, he finally topped himself in 1958.

There are no jap cars, cameras or manga freaks in my family and it will stay that way.
 
#4
I appreciate that my view may be seen as old school and unsuitable for a multi-cultural society blah-blah but I hate the Japanese. Partly because of the way they tortured my uncle but mainly because of their monolithic refusal to accept any guilt or blame for what they did during the war and in China beforehand. The "comfort women" thing in particular was evidence of a hateful bunch - a modeof imperialism more suited to the "less sophisticated" western empires of Greece or Rome perhaps, than the ego-tripping looking down their snouts at barbarian westerner Nips?

It isn't because they are Japanese I hate them, it is because as a nation they don't seem to have a single person prepared to break step and admit cul;pability, shame or even offer some form of redress - unless there is a ****-off big political/economic carrot or stick in evidence. I cannot begin to tell you how distasteful going on trade missions to Japan was for me. The only high point was bankrupting my "host" by drinking his impoorted malt as if it were super-market blended!
 
#5
Jamie died in 1952 - following several years as a medical curiosity at the hospital near his Weybridge home. Can't think why radiation poisoning wasn't more widespread...

My Grandfather's particular distaste as he recounted the part about the captors smiling broadly and passing over bags of (worthless) coins as payment for their labour.

Jamie never spoke about his ordeal beyond the initial recollection as he was collected from the docks.
 
#6
They certainly do seem to be (or is that have been?) a funny lot. I knew a FEPOW who ended up as a slave labouror in a mainland factory shovelling humungous amounts of coal
down a shute all day every day.

At the beginning and end of every shift they were forced to walk between two long lines of jap workers who beat them with sticks and spat on them.

When he eventually returned home to his wife he woke up on the very first night flashing back with his hands around her throat and they never slept a
single night in the same room for the rest of their married life.

The rest of his working life he spent as a taxi driver in a small seaside resort. Decades after his release he picked up a visiting Jap businessman as a fare to the railway station.

This was the first Jap he had encountered since the war and he was doing OK until he looked in the rearview mirror
and saw the guy's reflection staring back at him.

Cue uncontrollable shaking and having to pull over and throw up.

I believe there is a memorial somewhere in Japan to the woman who killed herself and her child to free up
her airforce husband whose application to become a suicide pilot had been knocked back due to his having a family.

As I say, a funny lot.

I've deliberately never had a Jap car or camera either.
 
#7
I once threw a Japanese tourist down the steps at Piccadilly tube. Yes, I had had a "very good lunch" and strangely nobody seemed put out by the incident. Except the Japanese. So that's all Sir Garnet...

I also hate-fucked a Japanese language student. It was a double hate **** because I had just got divorced so it was Cuddles 2, Women 0, Japanese 0. I was a bit off the rails for a while but I'm alright now, I just shag mongs and prostitutes. It's a hobby.
 
#8
How did the Commonwealth Forces treat the Japanese prisoners? Despite of their 'honour code' there were certainly some taken prisoner. Anyone care to mention this?
The Australian commandos treated them (PoW or not) as two-legged vermin, fit only to be exterminated at the first opportunity, and made no secret of it. Knowing of the Japanese' recreational pursuits in places like Nanking, Singapore and Banka Island massacre - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia , the diggers would only take prisoners - reluctantly - when ordered to by the headshed.

I recommend UQP, not only a cracking read, but also an encapsulation of the prevailing attitude towards the Japanese, as it is the author's wartime diary, published with a minimum of editing. There's some quite unvarnished reading in it; cannibalism, gang rape, mass murder - the author doesn't spare either side.
 

wedge_cadman

War Hero
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
#9
i've just read a book about the Kempeitai, the Japanese military police who were responsible for PoWs.. I now have a hatred for japs..
 
#10
The mortality rate didn't stop when they came home. My great uncle Jack was a FEPOW and was tortured by those lovely tidy little Japanese people. He came home a complete wreck, Malaria and a host of other parisitic stuff picked up in the Burmese jungle. He never recoved and depressed with the constant illnesses and his inability to hold a job, he finally topped himself in 1958.

There are no jap cars, cameras or manga freaks in my family and it will stay that way.
My Gran never forgave the Japs, She never bought anything made by them, owned by them etc. She hated them with a passion. She was in the ATS during the war and was involved in de-mobbing ex Jap POW's. She used to describe them as "broken men" in both body and spirit. No one shouted or barked commands during the de-mobbing as it scared the shit out of the ex Jap POW's.
It was with great relish, she would tell me about how the Brits and the Diggers rarely gave the Japs quarter when captured because of teh atrocities they had committed.
 
#11
Some do forgive.

There is an Anglo Japanhese friendship group set up in Japan by an Am,erica wpoman(?). The japanese do channelk funding for health care for the old FEPOW whose ill treatment has resulted on chronic problems in old age.

I recall posting something after I met some of the Brits who attended the annual cocktail party for this group. One of them was an old gunner - the sole survivor of an atrocity at a hospital in Singapore. I asked him how he ccould forgive. He said that life was too short to to spend in bitterness.
 

RP578

LE
Book Reviewer
#12
Some sentiments just die hard!

murder2.jpg

I do recall when I was younger, running into people who wouldn't buy a Japanese camera etc., but that seems to have passed away. For one thing most corporations are actually owned by companies from different countries and Japanese car manufacturers certainly have financial interests in American ones and vise-versa.

I was in America during the 50th anniversary of Pearl Harbour. This was a time when there was a feeling that the Japanese were taking over America by ruthless and unfair business practices. Crichton's book 'The Rising Sun' came out about then and frankly read like a latter version of The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, but with Japs for Jews ("Japs for Jews"? That sounds like a name for an Indie pop band, but I digress!). You'd hear people trot out the line, "Did you know that Mitsubishi make Zero fighters in WW2?!" as a justification to not buy a Japanese car. I'd point out that German firms made a killing (boom tish!) out of the Nazi war machine and I don't see anyone getting worked up about Volkswagen or Mercedes Benz. More to the point isn't this the whole point about turning swords into ploughshares? Or would we rather that Mitsubishi were still making Zero fighter planes?

My family had two civilian males members (father and 15yr old son) who were captured by the Japanese in Burma and used as slave labour. Years afterwards it was discovered that after the war, the father had survived and married a Burmese woman before emigrating to Tanzania where he had another son. That later, half Burmese, son made contact with my family, but by which time the father had died. No one knows what happened to the first son, though I thinks it's improbable that he survived the war.

I don't think that any of my family held a grudge against the Japanese. I certainly don't. Then again, we're a particularly fatalistic bunch. Shit happens and keeps happening to us! Having been on the end of a lecture of the inhumanity of the British Army to the peace-loving Boers by an Afrikaner, I can't say I liked being judged by the actions of people long before I was born either.

What interests me is how the Japanese prison guards were viewed by the rest of the Japanese military. That is to say, these weren't frontline troops, or even combat support. So were they dismissed as second rate REMFs by a society that valued martial prowess? In turn, could this have influenced how they behaved to civilians and POWs?
 

RP578

LE
Book Reviewer
#13
I recall posting something after I met some of the Brits who attended the annual cocktail party for this group. One of them was an old gunner - the sole survivor of an atrocity at a hospital in Singapore. I asked him how he ccould forgive. He said that life was too short to to spend in bitterness.
I met a Chelsea Pensioner who'd been through a similar experience and took the same attitude. I find people like that remarkable and hope that I could be someone like that. They are the best of us.
 
#14
What interests me is how the Japanese prison guards were viewed by the rest of the Japanese military. That is to say, these weren't frontline troops, or even combat support. So were they dismissed as second rate REMFs by a society that valued martial prowess? In turn, could this have influenced how they behaved to civilians and POWs?
They certainly were though I don't know if this was the primary cause of their ill-treatment of POWs; frontline Japanese troops weren't exactly known for their good behaviour towards POWs either. I think it is worth remembering that the average Japanese soldier was treated pretty harshly by his own superiors too.
 
#15
Some do forgive.

There is an Anglo Japanhese friendship group set up in Japan by an Am,erica wpoman(?). The japanese do channelk funding for health care for the old FEPOW whose ill treatment has resulted on chronic problems in old age.

I recall posting something after I met some of the Brits who attended the annual cocktail party for this group. One of them was an old gunner - the sole survivor of an atrocity at a hospital in Singapore. I asked him how he ccould forgive. He said that life was too short to to spend in bitterness.
You may be thinking of Keiko Holmes OBE,
A former neighbour of ours, I recall her husband's memorial service.

Here's some background on Mrs Holmes
Keiko Holmes - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
 
#16
I met a Chelsea Pensioner who'd been through a similar experience and took the same attitude. I find people like that remarkable and hope that I could be someone like that. They are the best of us.
I know a Japanese lady who found that whenever she encountered former prisoners of the Japanese, the ex-POWS treated her graciously and with kindness; in marked contrast to the occasional 'stick' she received from those who had little connection with the war but felt that they ought to maintain a vicarious grudge.
 
#17
The Australian commandos treated them (PoW or not) as two-legged vermin, fit only to be exterminated at the first opportunity, and made no secret of it. Knowing of the Japanese' recreational pursuits in places like Nanking, Singapore and Banka Island massacre - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia , the diggers would only take prisoners - reluctantly - when ordered to by the headshed.

I recommend UQP, not only a cracking read, but also an encapsulation of the prevailing attitude towards the Japanese, as it is the author's wartime diary, published with a minimum of editing. There's some quite unvarnished reading in it; cannibalism, gang rape, mass murder - the author doesn't spare either side.
Can’t really comment on the Commandos. Your story doesn’t surprise me much though. The Commandos operated well into Indonesia and across to Singapore. They had, at least some, local knowledge and knew very well what the Japanese were up to.

The story goes that the Japanese were so impressed by the bravery of the Commandoes that paddled kayaks into Singapore harbour and sunk some ships that when they captured them, instead of sending them to a POW camp they were given a honourable death, befitting a warrior i.e. they were beheaded.

Think you’re wrong about Diggers in general though. Read this book “Die like the Carp” about Cowra POW camp. There was over 2,000 Japanese prisoners there. Apparently, as soon as we started defeating the Japanese, from Milne Bay Aug 42 on, we started capturing Japanese POWs. The book mentioned during the Battle of Buna, were there was an Australian and an US division fighting together, that the Australians captured hundreds of Japanese prisoners, while the Americans only a handful, all of who were officers of “high value” intelligence wise. The book doesn’t come out and say it, but it implies that Japanese not surrending was a bit of a myth, perhaps created by the US media. In the interest of balance, I should probably point out most of the book was about the 500 prisoners who were killed during a rather suicidal mass breakout attempt.
 
#18
The Australian commandos treated them (PoW or not) as two-legged vermin, fit only to be exterminated at the first opportunity, and made no secret of it. Knowing of the Japanese' recreational pursuits in places like Nanking, Singapore and Banka Island massacre - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia , the diggers would only take prisoners - reluctantly - when ordered to by the headshed.

I recommend UQP, not only a cracking read, but also an encapsulation of the prevailing attitude towards the Japanese, as it is the author's wartime diary, published with a minimum of editing. There's some quite unvarnished reading in it; cannibalism, gang rape, mass murder - the author doesn't spare either side.
I was recently reading a book about the 6th Army Alamo Scouts in New Guinea and the Phillipines, and the Locals hunted Japanese for sport during the long campaign.
 
#19
They certainly were though I don't know if this was the primary cause of their ill-treatment of POWs; frontline Japanese troops weren't exactly known for their good behaviour towards POWs either. I think it is worth remembering that the average Japanese soldier was treated pretty harshly by his own superiors too.
A lot of the POW camp guards weren't Japanese from the main islands but were actually Koreans. Korea had been a part of the Japanese empire since 1905/1910 (see wiki link below).

Korea under Japanese rule - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The same link also supports the point about Koreans being used as POW camp guards:

"Justice Bert Röling, who represented the Netherlands at the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal, noted that "many of the commanders and guards in POW camps were Koreans - the Japanese apparently did not trust them as soldiers - and it is said that they were sometimes far more cruel than the Japanese."[79] In his memoirs, Colonel Eugene C. Jacobs wrote that during the Bataan Death March, "the Korean guards were the most abusive. The Japs didn't trust them in battle, so used them as service troops; the Koreans were anxious to get blood on their bayonets; and then they thought they were veterans."[80] Korean guards were sent to the remote jungles of Burma, where Lt. Col. William A. (Bill) Henderson wrote from his own experience that some of the guards overlooking the construction of the Burma Railway "were moronic and at times almost bestial in their treatment of prisoners. This applied particularly to Korean private soldiers, conscripted only for guard and sentry duties in many parts of the Japanese empire. Regrettably, they were appointed as guards for the prisoners throughout the camps of Burma and Siam."[81] The highest-ranking Korean to be prosecuted after the war was Lieutenant General Hong Sa-Ik, who was in command of all the Japanese prisoner-of-war camps in the Philippines."

I wonder if the Koreans have made any form of financial restitution to the FEPOW? Given the ages of those presumably still alive I'm fairly certain that it would be useful although I suspect their pride (and who can blame them - I won't) would prompt the individuals to say foxtrot oscar...

lancslad
 

Andy_S

LE
Book Reviewer
#20
RE: Diggers hating Japanese
In fact, those Diggers posted to Japan post-1945 considered it the best posting any Australian soldier had ever had. The so-called "Deadliest Man in Australia" (he was a sniper in Korea, and took out 24 men in his first battle) told me how his brother, who had been a POW in WWII, asked him to look up the Japanese sergeant at his camp and pass on his regards - said sergeant, apparently, was a decent man. My Digger interviewee, incidentally, has been married to a Japanese for 60 years now.

I can understand the bitterness of those who went through the war, but as for their children and grandchildren maintaining their prejudice - what's the point?

As for Japan never owning up: Well there are vested politicial interests, but pretty much EVERY Japanese I have met (I have lived in the Far East for the last 20 years) knows of the atrocities Japan committed during the Pacific War.

Case in point? Just last week, i was walking past the Jap Embass in Seoul, where the weekly demo by the surviving "Comfort Women" was underway. Among the attendees were about 30 Japanese schoolgirls, along with their teacher, there to learn a bit of history.
 

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