INTRODUCTION . . .
Over the past 19 years the Taiwan POW Camps Memorial Society has researched and documented the history of the 16 former World War II Japanese prisoner of war camps on the island of Taiwan, then known as Formosa. During this time we have conducted many tours to the camps and related areas during our annual November "Remembrance Week" events, and also throughout the year at the request of individuals, families and groups.
The Taiwan POW camps held over 4,350 Allied POWs and were some of the worst in all of the Far East, including those on the infamous Death Railway. More than 10% of the Taiwan POWs died in captivity from starvation, sickness, overwork and beatings from cruel guards.
We specialize in the WWII history of Taiwan and can research the stories of individual POWs, something that those with a family connection to the camps will find valuable, fulfilling and meaningful. Our tours are personally planned and tailored to meet the special and individual needs of the participants.
We are not a "tour company" for normal tourist activities such as sight-seeing etc., but we provide specialized tours and personal pilgrimages to the camps, as well as behind-the-scenes insights into what took place here in World War II.
We cater to individuals and families, as well as small and large groups. We can also advise on tours to sites in Hong Kong, Singapore, the Philippines and Japan which may relate to a POW's experiences here in Taiwan.
Tours are expertly guided by Michael Hurst MBE, Director of the Taiwan POW Camps Memorial Society and the foremost authority on the Taiwan POW camps. Michael has lived in Taiwan for over 25 years and knows the island well, having also worked in the tourism industry for a number of years.
We try to provide great value to our visitors. The many that we have had over the past years will attest to this, and that our tours have not only provided knowledge about the POWs and the camps, but peace and closure for them as well.
We try to bring alive the story of the former Taiwan POW camps - and the men who were interned in them, through a moving and enriching experience. It will give veterans and widows, and their children and grandchildren, a chance to retrace the footsteps of brave comrades and beloved family members.
We always do our best to provide a memorable and meaningful experience for our POW guests. If you want to follow in the footsteps of a mate or a loved one, or just learn more about the Taiwan POWs' story, then please contact us for more information and a quotation.
No-one is more knowledgeable or qualified to conduct tours to the former Taiwan POW camps than the Taiwan POW Camps Memorial Society . . . and the 'reputable' local Taiwan tour companies don't even offer POW camp tours as their guides have little or no knowledge of the FEPOWs' story or the camps and what happened in them. They usually refer inquiries for POW camp visits to us.
Anyone purporting to do otherwise is mis-representing themselves and is not qualified, and hence the visitor will not have a 'true' POW camp experience, nor will they be able to get comprehensive information about their loved ones and their time in the camps. We want our guests to have the most authoritative, comprehensive and 'personal' tour possible, so be sure to contact us for help with your visit.
We look forward to hearing from those who are interested in our "Following in Their Footsteps" program and tours!
Wartime photo of Kinkaseki POW Camp - The same area today / Former Shirakawa Camp Entrance Site
TYPES OF TOURS . . .
We offer 1 day tours to camps that can be visited in a short time and also 2 and 3 day tours that require more travel time and overnight stays at various places around the island. In addition to seeing the former POW camps, visitors can also experience a panorama of scenery and culture from all across Taiwan.
Costs vary according to the visitor's requirements, length of the tour and number of camps visited, so please kindly contact us for more information and a quotation.
NOTE: ALL TOURS ARE CONDUCTED ON REQUEST AND MUST BE PRE-ARRANGED, PRE-BOOKED AND CONFIRMED WITH THE SOCIETY AS FAR IN ADVANCE AS POSSIBLE.
1. Tours for overseas visitors. . .
Individual and Family Visits / Tours
- for individuals and families who want to visit the places and camps where their loved one or family member was interned as a POW on Taiwan. We can accommodate those who know something of their family member's time here, as well as those who know very little and wish to learn more. It is always advisable that people contact us well in advance so that we have enough time to research the POW's story and better prepare for their visit.
We are also able to accommodate people just stopping over in Taiwan on vacation or business trips, but there may be limitations as to where they can go and what they can do, depending on the duration of their visit and the amount of notice we get.
In every case we will always do our best to research the particular POW's story and prepare as comprehensive a tour as possible, given the resources and time available.
- for extended families and / or groups of up to 20 persons who wish to visit as a group and who can work through a travel agent in their home country to arrange the flights to and from Taiwan directly, and also other possible non-Taiwan arrangements – such as stopovers and hotels and tours in Singapore, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Thailand etc. en route to or from Taiwan.
The Taiwan POW Camps Memorial Society arranges all hotels and travel, tours and events within Taiwan, so the visiting group should not ask their local travel agent to do this part.
POW family members at Heito Camp / Remembering a dear grandfather / At the Karenko POW Memorial
2. Local Taiwan Tours. . .
Tours are available for individuals, schools, youth organizations, clubs, groups and associations wishing to visit any of the former POW camps on the island. Arrangements should be made as early as possible with the Society and are subject to the availability and the schedule of the director to run the tour. Calling early when the desire for the tour comes up, and being somewhat flexible with dates, will usually ensure that the request is accommodated. Contact us any time for more information and a quotation.
NOTE: Local tours are not conducted during the Society's annual Remembrance Week event or at any time during the month of November.
Local International School students visiting the POW Memorial Wall
RECOMMENDED TIMES FOR VISITS TO TAIWAN FROM OVERSEAS
We highly recommend that persons wishing to visit Taiwan do so during our Remembrance Week Event which is held every year in mid-November in the week around Remembrance Day. At that time we organize visits to many of the camps and arrange memorial services, and participants will be able to fellowship with other family members and veterans in a common purpose of honouring and remembering their loved ones. This also provides a greater opportunity for sharing stories and information about many of the FEPOWs.
If November is not convenient, then visitors may come at pretty well any time throughout the year - subject to the availability of the Society director to host the tour. This needs to be worked out well in advance by contacting the Society and providing the proposed dates of the visit.
HOW TO ARRANGE / PREPARE FOR YOUR TAIWAN VISIT
Normally we tell those who contact us regarding visiting Taiwan to just book their airfares and to leave all the other arrangements regarding the Taiwan part of their visit to us. This includes hotels and travel and sightseeing while in Taiwan.
The Taiwan POW Camps Memorial Society arranges all hotels and transportation – including airport transfers, tours and events within Taiwan, so those visiting should not ask their local travel agent to do this part as we are better able to handle this.
If however, people want to stop over in places like Singapore, Hong Kong, the Philippines or Thailand either on the way out or on their return journey, then they can ask their travel agent to arrange for hotels and tours etc. at those other places.
IMPORTANT: Once you have decided on visiting Taiwan, kindly get in touch with us as soon as possible so that we can arrange a detailed itinerary and provide a more thorough explanation of your tour and information regarding your visit.
Also, please do NOT book / confirm your airfares finally until you contact us to make sure that we are available to conduct the tour and also that the day is suitable. We don't usually run tours on the weekends due to traffic congestion, and for those wishing to visit the Taihoku Camp 6 Memorial, the Ministry of National Defense HQ is not accessible on Saturday, Sunday or gov't holidays. Also the museum and mine tunnel exhibit at Kinkaseki are closed on the first Monday of every month, so that day is not suitable as well. We recommend that you do not plan your visit over a weekend - it is best to visit during weekdays. It is very important that you contact us well in advance and work with us to make your tour the best it can be. Thank you!
A visit to the Taiwan camps and the POW Memorial Park will be a moving and unforgettable experience!
Travel Assistance in the UK. . .
We are pleased to be working with Spirit of Remembrance Tours in the UK. They can assist in arranging your flights to Taiwan to see the locations of the camps and commemorate the memory of family and friends, and they can also arrange tours to other places related to the Taiwan POWs – like Singapore, Hong Kong, the Philippines and Thailand. We are linked on their website so please check them out and contact them to inquire about help with your travel plans to Taiwan.
You can view them at: www.SpiritOfRemembrance.com
And contact them at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Or you can call them in the UK at: 01634 233785
Note: The Taiwan POW Camps Memorial Society will handle all the arrangements in Taiwan as above, and we will deal directly with the visitor on all matters – and Spirit of Remembrance Tours can help to get you here!
TRAVEL GRANTS AVAILABLE TO UK RESIDENTS
(Our thanks to Spirit of Remembrance Tours in the UK for supplying this information.)
As to the grants:
Heroes Return 2 - THIS PROGRAM ENDED ON DECEMBER 31, 2015
War Widows Grant in Aid Scheme - STILL IN OPERATION AS WE KNOW
War Widows and Widowers who lost their partners prior to 1967 (since repatriations have taken place), are entitled to receive a FREE visit to their spouse's grave or memorial. If a widow or widower lost their spouse during WW2 they are eligible for both HR2 and the War Widows grant. The Ministry of Defence has funds allocated for you and you should avail yourselves of this money.
It is also important to know that any Allied (American, Canadian, Indian, Gurkha, etc.) armed forces personnel who are presently living in the UK are eligible to receive this grant. This has certainly not been promoted. Widows and widowers of veterans are eligible.
Another fact that is not promoted is that if a veteran served in several theatres of war they are entitled to the one which is furthest away, (i.e. If a navy man was involved in say D-Day and in the evacuation of Singapore he is eligible for the Far East & Rest of World grant).
Also, if let's say that same man did a tour to Normandy and utilized the HR2 grant personally (i.e. claimed £500) he is still entitled to a further grant of £1,500 personally (difference between Northern & Western Europe grant of £500 and Far East & Rest of World grant of £2,000). He can then also claim a further £1,700 if he now needs a carer.
This WW grant is also available to all those who lost their spouse while they were in the armed forces up to 1967 which includes numerous other conflicts in the Far East including Korea.
There are lots of veterans and their families out there who have not claimed the grants or the full amounts that they are entitled to.
For more information on these grants you can contact us or also directly to -
OR the Big Lottery Heroes Return application helpline at 0845 0000121, or email the Big Lottery at: email@example.com
BRITISH GOV'T PAYMENT TO POWS, WIDOWS AND FAMILIES – STILL AVAILABLE
The £10,000 Ex-Gratia payment for British service people who were held captive by the Japanese during World War II – also known as the "special gratuity" is still available, so those who have not already claimed it - and now also family members, can apply for it.
The categories of persons eligible to make a claim for this Ex-Gratia payment include:
1.) Surviving former members of HM Armed Forces who were held as prisoners of war in the Far East during the Second World War.
2.) Surviving British civilians who were interned by the Japanese in the Far East during the Second World War.
3.) The surviving widow or widower of a person who would otherwise have been entitled under categories 1 and 2 above.
4.) If both the FEPOW and the surviving widow died after the year 2000, then the eldest son or daughter qualifies.
How to claim: Telephone the free Veterans Agency helpline at 0800 169 22 77 for details.
To qualify the FEPOW must have been alive in the year 2000 or the surviving widow after the year 2000.