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.
It is 70 years ago today - September 12th 1944, that the Hellships Rakuyo Maru and Kachidoki Maru were torpedoed and sunk en route to Japan by American submarines with a loss in life of over 1,750 POWs. On September 21st the Hofuku Maru - another hellship carrying almost 1,300 POWs who had formerly also worked on the Death Railway, was bombed and sunk with only about 250 survivors. Later some of these men would die on future hellship voyages as well.
In addition the Shinyo Maru was torpedoed on September 7th with the loss of 667 POWs and on September 18th the greatest single ship disaster of WWII in terms of loss of life was the Junyo Maru where 5620 POWs and Asian labourers died. Hundreds more also died from thirst, starvation and disease on other hellships that were not torpedoed or bombed.
September 1944 was the worst month of the war for POW deaths by 'friendly fire' as they sailed crowded aboard old transport ships that the Japanese refused to mark with red crosses or any indication they were carrying POWs - in direct violation of the Geneva Convention.
Personally, the director lost two Australian second-cousins on the Rakuyo Maru and in recent days we have received emails from other family members who lost loved ones on these ships. It is a special time of remembrance for us all, and we should never forget those men who paid with their lives for our freedom.
WE WILL REMEMBER THEM !
CLICK HERE to read more of the full story of the 'September 1944 Hellships' contained in the Articles & Stories Section of the website.
PLEASE JOIN US FOR THIS YEAR'S REMEMBRANCE WEEK EVENT
This year's Remembrance Week Event will take place from November 5 – 12, 2014.
We have fifteen overseas guests coming to Taiwan this year, including one former POW.
There will be a POW Banquet on Saturday November 8, and the Remembrance Day service will be held on Sunday the 9th in the Taiwan POW Memorial Park on the site of the former Kinkaseki POW Camp in Jinguashi .
More information will be forthcoming later iand we look forward to having many local friends and supporters join us.
Democracy took root in Japan nearly 70 years ago after the end of World War II. Who would have thought that someone could overturn it so easily? But Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has done just that !
For the past year and half we have featured articles on the homepage regarding the sweeping changes taking place in Japan under the new LDP government of Shinzo Abe and his Right Wing extremists.
We have shown from reports and studies, first hand news accounts and references, how the Abe government wants to return to the extreme Right Wing policies of former times, how they want to rescind the so-called apologies made by former prime ministers and renounce the previous stand on the Comfort Women, now saying that they were simply prostitutes and that they were necessary and that they were not co-erced or forced by the Japanese military to perform services for the troops. In this time they have forced new laws through their parliament limiting the rights and freedoms of Japanese people, and in a similar manner this spring have by-passed Japan's pacifist constitution in order to make it possible for Japan to wage war again. Even more alarmingly, they will continue to limit or abolish human rights and freedoms, so they can persecute those who differ with their opinion or who want to peacefully gather in protests. If one looks back at the history of the 20th Century, one can clearly see that these were also the policies adopted and propagated by Adolf Hitler and the Nazis when they came to power in Germany 81 years ago in 1933! In only 1 1/2 years people are already calling Shinzo Abe a fascist!
All of the previous articles from the homepage have been saved together in our Articles and Stories Section of the website. For those who are interested, please CLICK HERE to read the series of articles which reveal the startling changes which have taken place, and which will continue to take place in the near future under this extreme regime. Things have happened so fast in Japan in the past 1 1/2 years that is has been hard to keep up and one wonders what the future holds for the people of Japan and as well, its Asian neighbours!
AT LAST - A LOOK AT THE WAR CRIMINALS' MEMORIALS
Over the past number of years many articles have been written about the Yasukuni Temple (War Shrine) in Tokyo and of Japanese prime ministers visits there to honour Japan's war dead and particularly the 14 Class A war criminals enshrined there as 'gods'. These visits have caused much controversy and also angered the governments and the people of China and Korea particularly, due to the enormous atrocities that those war criminals and their armies carried out in their countries - and all across Asia, in WWII.
The only photos I have ever seen of the Yasukuni Shrine have been taken from the front, and indeed I have the same photos taken on my visit there many years ago. However I did not go to pay repsects to the Japanese war criminals - I went to see and try to understand more of the POWs' story. I have also visited the adjacent war museum - which is not bad overall for the military relics it contains, but the portrayal of the Japanese in WWII in most cases could not be further from the truth. However, never have I ever seen any photos of the tablets or memorials which are so often talked about on these occasions when the prime minister and other officials visit the shrine. I always wondered what they looked like and what form they took.
Now finally on August 27th 2014, thanks to an article in the Washingtom Post which featured a story about Prime Minister Abe sending an official letter to the Koyasan Temple’s annual ceremony honouring hundreds of war criminals, we can finally see what the inside of these Japanese war shrines looks like.
The ceremony was held April 29 at the Koyasan Okuno-in Buddhist Temple in Koya town, Wakayama Prefecture in central Japan, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sent a letter to the ceremony honouring more than a thousand World War II-era war criminals and praising their contributions to the country. He wrote, “I humbly express my deepest sympathy for the martyrs ... who sacrificed their souls to become the foundation of peace and prosperity in Japan today.” A copy of the letter was obtained by The Associated Press.
The ceremony was held in front of a stone monument that honours about 1,180 Japanese war criminals, including wartime Prime Minister Hideki Tojo and 13 other executed officials. Abe, however, has said that those convicted by the tribunal are not considered war criminals under Japanese domestic law - well go figure - of course they wouldn't be!
So here at last is a photo - courtesy of the Kyodo News and Associated Press, of the 'inside' of a Japanese War Shrine to its wartime 'heroes' -
- now we can see what the Japanese leaders see when they visit these war shrines. The names of all the war criminals are inscribed on the memorial tablets shown here at the Koyasan Okuno-in Buddhist Temple.
There is nothing wrong with having their names inscribed as a remembrance of them in death - as in any 'cemetery', but it is the constant honour and praise by the highest-ranking officials on behalf of the government of Japan of these war criminals who caused so much suffering and death all across Asia in WWII - and revering them as 'gods' - that is so wrong!
Sept. 12, 2014 - The "September 1944 Hellships" feature added to the Articles & Stories Section.
Sept. 11, 2014 - Update to the Collection of articles and reports on Shinzo Abe and his Right Wing Gov't. and the downfall of Japan's democracy - in the Articles & Stories section.
August 28, 2014 - Photo of L/Bdr. Robert Bickford added to the story "OTHER COMMONWEALTH PRISONERS OF WAR " in the Articles & Stories section.
June 25, 2014 - Spring-Summer 2014 Society Newsletter uploaded to the site. Click here or go to the Society Section and click on the newsletter in the Newsletters box.
May 20, 2014 - Collection of articles and reports on Shinzo Abe and his Right Wing Gov't. and their return to former WWII attitudes and the downfall of Japan's democracy under this regime. Click here to read the articles which are constantly being updated.
March 3, 2014 - Addition of the "Remembrance Day at Kinkaseki" slide show - link on the homepage and story in the Articles & Stories Section.
March 2, 2014 - Update to "Asian War Graves and Memorial Photos Available Free" article in the Articles & Stories Section and on the homepage.
February 13, 2014 - Updates to almost all of the articles and stories in the Articles & Stories Section with more information as well as addititional and enlarged photos. In particular the articles on the hellships, the further Japanese atrocities and the memorial to the American airmen at the old Taipei Prison, the Other Commonwealth POWs and the forgotten South Africans.
January 20, 2014 - Addition of the new "Taiwan POW Camps Tour" page to the website. See the main menu on the left side of the homepage.
January 2, 2014 - Update to the article "The Memorials for the Taiwan POWs" - to include the new Shirakawa POW Memorial - in the Articles & Stories section.
We would like to remind our viewers that this 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.
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!
Read More ...to find out further information on the ASIA WAR GRAVES PHOTO GROUP, the war cemeteries and memorials covered, and the other services that are provided - FREE OF CHARGE!
We are pleased to announce that since the creation of the ASIA WAR GRAVES PHOTO GROUP in JULY 2012, we have distributed over 12,300 FREE war grave and memorial photos!
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 free photos for almost all the world’s war cemeteries and more.
Click here for more information on free war grave and memorial photos and to visit their website.
The Society is urgently seeking information regarding the Taiwan POWs who were evacuated 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 are trying to compile lists of the men transported to Manila on these ships and have been searching various archives to try to find the ships' deck logs, but so far nothing has turned up. 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 any of these three ships. We would be very grateful for any help we can get.
USS Santee - CVE-29 USS Brister - DE-327