This is the story of the Japanese prisoner of war camps on the island of Taiwan (Formosa) during the Second World War and of the men who were interned in them.
It seems that many people know about the hardship and suffering of the POW's working on the Death Railway in Thailand and Burma, but few know about the "hell-camps" of Taiwan. We hope to tell the story of the suffering and deprivation endured by the POW's so that all will know - and hopefully never forget!
Our site contains descriptions of the prison camps, a detailed list of all the former prisoners, an honour roll of those who died, and the story of the
Taiwan POW Camps Memorial Society.
71 years ago today World War II came to an end as the people of Japan listened to a radio broadcast from their supposed 'divine' emperor telling them that they must "endure the unendurable and suffer what is insufferable" - he never mentioned the word "surrender" though.
The speech - which lasted only four minutes, was broadcast at noon Japan Standard Time on August 15, 1945, after the Battle of Okinawa, the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the Soviet invasion of Manchuria.
It was the first time that the people of Japan had heard their Emperor's voice (albeit from a phonograph record). It was delivered in the formal, Classical Japanese style that few ordinary people could easily understand. It made no direct reference to the surrender of Japan, instead it just stated that the government had accepted the terms of the Potsdam Declaration fully [unconditionally]. Apparently some were confused as to just what the message was saying, so following the broadcast the announcer clarified that the Emperor's message did mean that Japan was indeed surrendering.
The word "surrender" is still anathema to many people in Japan today and the extreme right wing government of Shinzo Abe is currently doing everything it can to erase the memory of World War II and the many atrocities its armies committed against the peoples of Asia, the prisoners of war, the civilian interness and the comfort women during that time. It is hoped that some day, in some way this will change with a formal acknowledgement and apology from the government of Japan and then - and only then, will Japan and its people be able to have a rightful place in the world community.
Moving on - in 2007 a movement called 'FEPOW DAY' was started in the UK to set aside a special day to honour and remember the Far East Prisoners of War, the civilian internees and the many Asians who were captured and forced to work as slaves for the Japanese in World War II. August 15th was selected as the day and since then every year commemorations have been held in many places, including here in Taiwan. It is hoped that the movement will grow so that more will know and also never forget what these people suffered for the freedom that we know today.
LEST WE FORGET !
On Saturday evening August 13th the Taiwan POW Camps Memorial Society held the 9th FEPOW (Far East Prisoner of War) DAY event at the SPOT THEATRE in downtown Taipei. More than 40 people - including a number of newcomers, gathered for the program which featured an exhibition of WWII military and prisoner of war artifacts from the Society's museum collection, a memorial tribute to the former prisoners of war, and the showing of the movie “The Great Raid” which tells the true story of the mission to rescue 500 POWs from the Cabanatuan POW Camp in the Philippines in January 1945.
Following a short intermission after the feature film, the documentary entitled “The Ghosts of Bataan” was shown. Everyone said how much they enjoyed the films and how much more they learned about the story of the Far East prisoners of war. Below are a few photos taken at the event courtesy William Wang, TPCMS Board member. We will be holding another FEPOW Day event next year and we look forward to seeing you there.
Some of the Society's future POW museum artifacts
The audience and the memorial service with the lighting of the FEPOW candle in remembrance.
19TH REMEMBRANCE WEEK EVENT - DEADLINE FOR REGISTRATION
Time is running out to make reservations for our annual Remembrance Week event which will be held from November 9 – 16, so if you're planning to be with us for our visits to the former POW camps and the Remembrance Day service at the Prisoner of War Memorial Park at Kinkaseki, please be sure to get in touch with us right away.
REGISTRATION DEADLINE IS AUGUST 31st - only special circumstances are excepted, so please contact us as soon as possible to indicate your interest in coming and we will work with you.
We hope that former POWs and their families will make an effort to come as we have a special program prepared for these guests. If you are interested in attending, and for more information, please contact the Society by email or mail (please see the "contacts" page). Hope to see you in November!
THE ENOURA MARU HELLSHIP TRAGEDY
71 years ago on January 9th 1945, the Japanese Hellship Enoura Maru which was en route to Japan with POWs from the Philippines, was bombed in Takao (Kaohsiung) Harbour. More than 350 POWs were killed. They were subsequently buried in a mass grave on Chijin Island nearby, and in 1946 the American War Graves Recovery Team removed the remains and sent them to Hawaii for permanent burial. They currently rest in peace in Section Q of the Punchbowl Cemetery in 20 common graves, marked only with the words "20 Unknowns January 9, 1945". However, we do know who each and every Enoura Maru POW was who is buried there.
In 2006 the Society - in co-operation with the City of Kaohsiung, erected and dedicated the Taiwan Hellships Memorial in the War and Peace Park in Chijin – just across the road from the location of the former mass grave. For the past 5 years the Society has desired - and worked very hard, to have a memorial stone placed on the Memorial Walk at the Punchbowl Cemetery in Honolulu in honour of the men who lie in those graves. There have been numerous articles about this project in the Society's newsletters over the last few years. However, the previous director of the cemetery and his deputy and the supervisor at the US Dept. of Veterans Affairs repeatedly ruled that they would not allow this simple stone that would tell a little of the story of that ship and the men who are buried in Section Q, because "having the word 'hellship' on the stone might offend the Japanese tourists who visit the cemetery for its scenic viewpoints". There was nothing else that was offensive with the inscription in their opinion – just the word 'hellship'.
We are working together with the American Defenders of Bataan & Corregidor Memorial Society in this effort, as many of their members had fathers. grandfathers, uncles etc. on that ship. We have tried many ways to persuade the US Dept. of Veterans Affairs who manage the cemetery - and whose mandate and task it is to look after and support all veterans while they are alive, and to honour and respect them when they have passed on, to allow the stone to be placed on the Memorial Walk, but so far with no success. It is a shame that the VA and the US Government feel that it is more important not to offend Japanese tourists than it is to honour the men who are buried in the cemetery, having given their lives in the service of their country and the cause of America's freedom!
We have the backing of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of America and also the AMVETS organization, and despite appeals to the VA and also a couple of US Senators and Congress people, the issue has not been resolved. We are hoping that perhaps this year with a new cemetery director, and by making contact with some new government reps, that we might be able to see this project finally completed in honour and memory of the men of the Enoura Maru.
American wartime patriotic poster vowing to remember the sacrifice of those who died for their country, so their deaths would not be in vain.
It's too bad that 70 years on this pledge and promise by the US government and especially by the US Department of Veterans Affairs - whose specific responsibility and task it is to make sure that those Americans who died in war are honoured and remembered, has gone unfulfilled for those men who died on the Enoura Maru. Let's hope that this can be rectified this year!
A country's promise - unfulfilled, and one of the Enoura Maru graves at the Punchbowl Cemetery, Hawaii
All of the previous articles from the homepage have been saved together in the Articles and Stories Section under the title of JAPAN UNDER THE NEW ABE REGIME. For those who are interested - and everyone should be, please CLICK HERE to read the series of articles which reveal the startling changes which have already taken place, and which will continue to take place in the near future under this extreme regime.
July 21, 2016 - "Retaking Japan: The Abe Administration’s Campaign to Overturn the Postwar Constitution" - added to the story "JAPAN UNDER THE NEW ABE REGIME" in the Articles & Stories Section. Scroll down to the end and click on the link to get the story from the Asia Pacific Journal.
June 30, 2016 - Spring-Summer2016 Newsletter uploaded to the site. Click here or go to the Society Section and click on the newsletter in the Newsletters box.
May 15, 2016 - The complete list of Taiwan POW Camps updated and put in correct sequential numerical order on the 'CAMPS' page of the website.
April 5, 2016 - Update to the "POW Camp Tours" page, with regards to booking tours
February 26, 2016 - Added - "More Facts About the Numbers in Malaya and Singapore" in the Articles & Stories Section
February 25, 2016 - Revision to "The Truth About the Numbers in Malaya and Singapore" in the Articles & Stories Section
January 27, 2016 - "A New Memorial Bench for the POW Park" added to the Articles & Stories Section
January 23, 2016 - Added - "The Wall - A very Special Place", the story of the Taiwan POW Memorial Wall and poem "THE WALL" to the Articles & Stories Section.
December 28, 2015 - "19 Years of Researching, Remembering and Honouring the Taiwan POWs" added to the Articles & Stories Section.
November 28, 2015 - Fall-Winter2015 Newsletter uploaded to the site. Click here or go to the Society Section and click on the newsletter in the Newsletters box.
November 20, 2015 - Update to "The Memorials for the Taiwan POWs" in the Articles & Stories Section.
October 20, 2015 - The complete article "70 Years Ago - Events in Taiwan POW History" is added to the Articles & Stories Section.
August 24, 2015 - Update to the story "A Family Connection" in the Articles & Stories Section.
April 16, 2015 - "Hirohito's Responsibility for the End of World War II" - added to the Articles & Stories Section.
We would like to remind our viewers that this website is a work in progress, so be sure to check back often.
In 2009 six former Taiwan POWs returned to Taiwan to join in the annual Remembrance Day service at Kinkaseki. Society supporter and good friend Chen, Hsiao - Fang produced a slide show of the event and we invite you to watch it and remember these men to whom we owe a debt that can never be repaid. Click here to view the presentation.
Lest We Forget!
LISTEN TO THE POWS' STORY
Society director Michael Hurst is featured in two radio interviews with Radio Taiwan International. We invite you to:
To listen to these programs click the links below -
Do you need a photo of a loved ones' grave or name on a memorial in the Far East?
Welcome to the ASIA WAR GRAVES PHOTO GROUP.
We are a group comprised of FEPOW organizations and researchers located in the Far East and we are dedicated to providing good quality photos of war graves and the names on the various memorials from the war cemeteries located all across Asia - FREE OF CHARGE - with the sole aim of keeping the memory of the veterans alive, so present and future generations will not forget the sacrifices they have made so far from home.
As well as actual war grave photos, we specialize in photos of the names on all the memorials across Asia. We have all 25,000 names on the SINGAPORE / KRANJI MEMORIAL, all 27,000 names on the TAUKKYAN / RANGOON MEMORIAL, as well as all the other memorials such as SAI WAN, YOKOHAMA and LABUAN. We are happy to be able to supply names from all the memorials as well - FREE of CHARGE!
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Another great source for FREE worldwide War Grave & Memorial photos . . .
An excellent organization in the UK with a website offering thousands of FREE war grave and memorial photos worldwide is British War Graves - War Graves Photographs. Founded and operated for over 10 years by Mick McCann in the UK, the site provides photos for almost all the world’s war cemeteries and more FREE.
Click here for more information on free war grave and memorial photos and to visit their website.
The Society has been urgently seeking information regarding the POWs who were evacuated from Taiwan on September 6, 1945 on the aircraft carrier USS Santee CVE-29, and the Destroyer Escorts USS Brister DE-327 and USS Finch DE-328. We have searched various archives to try to find the ships' deck logs and service records, but up to now nothing has turned up.
However, thanks to some help from a researcher friend in the US, we have found the complete list of men carried on the USS Finch. So that just leaves the USS Brister and USS Santee that we still need complete lists for.
If there are any former crew members of these ships who know of the lists that were made and where they might now be, please kindly get in touch with us.
We would also like to hear from former POWs and their families if they have any knowledge that their relative or anyone they knew sailed on either of these two ships. We would be very grateful for any help and information we can get.
USS Santee - CVE-29 USS Brister - DE-327