At the same time they executed by firing squad in the presence of their commanding officers four prisoners who had tried to escape. Where the Australians had radios, they knew that the war was over, but had to wait for a reaction from the Japanese. They interpreted that order in the only way they could: they shot those who fell out because of illness and exhaustion. The Japanese allowed the prisoners to erect a smaller wooden cross nearby for the Allied dead. As always, rumours began well before any orders, and one persistent rumour was that men were to be repatriated in exchange for bales of wool. The Rokyu Maru, carrying 649 Australians and 599 British prisoners, was quickly abandoned by the Japanese and the prisoners were left to fend for themselves. Several thousand families had received no news, and that included those whose relative had been killed in action early in 1942. With them were around 200 civilian men from the government, plantation and business communities; and seven civilian, six army and four Methodist mission nurses and one woman planter and business woman. The artists have partly compensated for the lack of photographs of the prisoners of war. The Changi library had more than 20,000 volumes and over 3000 men would listen to George McNeilly, previously a professional singer, introduce and then play records from the donated and 'scrounged' Changi collection. It gives a narrative and pictorial account of life in POW camps north of Australia during World War II. On the Western Front battlefields from 1916-1918, 3,853 Australian troops were taken prisoner by German forces, most of them held in Germany. American, British, Dutch, Australian, Canadian, Indian and other allied military and civilian More Australians had died on the railway, but Sandakan was the greater atrocity. When David Selby on the east coast of New Britain appealed to some of his men to keep travelling ahead of the Japanese, only three agreed: most chose surrender, believing that gave them a better chance of survival and getting word of their fate to relatives. The prisoners thought of their years in captivity as their stolen years, and they were eager to make up time. AWM P02468.516, A group of nurses and civilians on their way home after their internment at Yokohama, Japan, wait at a prisoner of war processing centre in Manila, 4 September 1945. Listed below are the negative effects suffered by the Australian POWs: Death (36% of all Australian POWs died in captivity) Causes of death: Diseases (malaria, dysentery, chlorea) From the 2/30th Battalion, about a quarter of the men fell out as a result of sickness and exhaustion, and in spite of the threats of the Japanese most were able to rejoin their comrades later. Pilot Officer Maxwell Gilbert, flying out of Tarakan on 7 July 1945, baled out of his Kittyhawk, was captured, and is thought to have died on 24 July, aged twenty, just three weeks before the end of the war. The 2/13th moved north to Tampoi on the Malay Peninsula, and returned to St Patrick's after the Japanese attack. John "Barney" Hines (1878–1958) was a British-born Australian soldier of World War I, known for his prowess at taking items from German soldiers.Hines was the subject of a famous photo taken by Frank Hurley that depicted him surrounded by German military equipment and money he had looted during the Battle of Polygon Wood in September 1917. After sighting the Japanese fleet on its way to invade Rabaul, they shadowed it until attacked by fighters. The tragedy for Australians was that they supplied many men to 'F' and 'H' Forces that were sent to the most distant and crudest camps, worked through a prolonged 'speedo', and were exposed to the most obvious case of the Japanese placing completion of the line above the lives of those who built it. And a 'bore-hole' became the Changi term for rumour—doubtful news said to have come from talk overheard at the latrines. Most of the men were soon shifted to Zentsuji on Shikoku Island, and in 1944 the women were moved to Totsuka, just beyond the outskirts of Yokahama. Her husband, a weather observer, was killed by the Japanese and she was interned with the Australians. The English prisoners on 'F' Force, who were less fit initially, suffered twice the casualties. Your generous donation will be used to ensure the memory of our Defence Forces and what they have done for us, and what they continue to do for our freedom remains – today and into the future. The float-plane landed, picked up the Reverend Len Kentish of the Methodist Mission, left the rest of the crew in the water, and flew off. Chalker said: 'We were prodded, thirty-two at a time, into closed metal-box trucks with sliding doors'. A ruthless rationality lay behind the Japanese decision to connect the Burma and Thai rail systems by building a new 421 kilometre line from Thanbyuzayat in Burma south-east to Bampong in Thailand. Director: Sidney Lumet | Stars: Sean Connery, Harry Andrews, Ian Bannen, Alfred Lynch. AWM 066376, This work is copyright. The march of 150 km was hard on men already suffering from a year of imprisonment and six days on the train from Singapore. Smaller groups, including the senior officers from Singapore, had gone to Taiwan and then Manchuria, and a few Australians were in Korea. The Australians were quickly disabused. Australians continued to be captured, but in small numbers. Only 4,044 members of the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) were taken prisoner across all theatres of operations between 1915 and 1918. From the sixty-five who had sailed on the Vyner Brooke, twenty-four were still alive when—nine days after the event—the Japanese admitted that the war was over. Two were Australians, Corporal RE Breavington and Private VL Gale. The Australians were uncertain how they would be treated as prisoners. After five or six days, they stumbled from the trains at Bampong in Thailand. Many prisoners were brought here from Burma after the Burma–Thailand railway was completed, and chopping wood for the cooking fires was a daily chore. On the 17th they began the march to Changi on the north-west of Singapore Island. Pages in category "Australian prisoners of war" The following 108 pages are in this category, out of 108 total. And in Thailand the geography posed greater problems: the supply line was longer and more difficult and the Japanese administration was not only indifferent to prisoner welfare, but prone to failure. The stress on relatives of prisoners of war and the long term impact on the prisoners is central to: Michael McKernan, This War Never Ends: The pain of separation and return (2001); Carolyn Newman, ed, Legacies of our Fathers: World War II prisoners of the Japanese – their sons and daughters tell their stories (2005); and Margaret Reeson, A Very Long War: The families who waited (2000). A year later, 25,000 Australians were deployed in south-east Asia and the Pacific and all were at risk. This presentation is based upon a chapter from Grant's forthcoming book, Australian Soldiers in Asia-Pacific in World War II to be published by NewSouth in November 2014. The imprisonment of more than 22,000 from a population of 7 million meant that nearly one in 300 Australians was missing. (AWM P01180.001), RAAF Flying Officer Gerrard Alderton, soon after his release into the 'Bicycle Camp', Batavia, Netherlands East Indies, in June 1942. World War II Allied . The optimists always hoped that the next camp would be better; they wanted to escape the boredom of Changi; there was often more food outside Changi; and there was always a chance to pilfer. Detailed news of the prisoners came slowly, then suddenly, to Australia. Fearful that disease might break out, the senior officers decided that all should sign. Of the dispersed Australian troops, Lark Force on Rabaul was the first to be attacked on 23 January. The loss of over 1000 men on the Montevideo Maru was only one of several disasters experienced by the prisoners who travelled in unmarked Japanese transports through seas increasingly dominated by American submarines. Picked up nearly a fortnight later by other Japanese, she was imprisoned in Muntok where she 'howled happily' when she met another thirty-one of the nurses who had landed at other points on the Banka coast. She had been aboard the Vyner Brook when it was sunk by the Japanese on 14 February 1942, two days out of Singapore. Although 'F' Force was on the line only from May to December 1943, one third of the 3660 Australians died. AWM 101030, The 'Konyu Cutting' or 'Hellfire Pass', circa September 1945. It was, for Australians, an acceptance that their fate was to be determined in their own region. Three well-known performers, John Woods, Jack Smith and Harry Smith, are shown on stage. At Nakom Paton in Thailand, Dunlop feared that the Japanese might kill all the prisoners in the event of an invasion or other crisis. The chance of getting to India and the hope that the Burmese would help, encouraged men to talk of escape, but eight men from the 4th Anti- Tank who tried were quickly captured—other Australians dug the graves, saw them shot by firing squad, and buried them. AWM P01015.005, Members of the 8th Division liberated from Japanese POW camps are given an enthusiastic welcome by crowds in Sydney, 16 September 1945. AWM P00406.011, Australian prisoners of war chop and saw wood in front of the cookhouse at the prison camp at Kanchanaburi, Thailand, in 1944. AWM 030391/07, photographer: John Munslow Williams, More than 15,000 British and Australian prisoners of war crowded into the Selarang Barracks Square, Changi, in September 1942. For the survivors, the march ended after 260 kilometres at Ranau, but at Ranau there was no prepared camp and no rations. Australian military forces played a significant part in World War Two, across several continents. The case of Flight Lieutenant William 'Bill' Newton brought the vulnerability of captured aircrew to notice. Seventy five years after Japanese Prisoners of War (POW) in Australia staged the biggest breakout of World War II, Cowra farmer Harold Treasure can … Captain Lionel Matthews, two local members of the police and four civilians were sentenced to death. All rights reserved. Singapore Harbour was already full of smoke and everywhere showing the signs of shelling and bombing. Murray Griffin, as he was known, had been born in Melbourne in 1903 and worked as a commercial artist and teacher. After a year in Burma, the Australians had lost ninety dead, but they now entered rougher country; the wet season began with drenching rains and black clouds hanging low over the camps; they had their first cholera cases; and the Japanese increased pressure on the work gangs to finish. Accused of trading for food outside the camp, men were battered and tortured. Several of the nurses joined the voice orchestra conducted by the English woman Norah Chambers, or sang in the choir that performed original material composed by the missionary Margaret Dryburgh. In July, Mollie Nottage was told that her husband, Captain Stewart Nottage, 'must now be posted missing'. Only a minority of Australians endured captivity, but the experiences of those imprisoned by the enemy did not sit comfortably within the overly heroic and masculine self-image that … Fearing the outbreak of disease and knowing that all men were suffering from the limited food and water, senior officers told the men to sign—assuring them that a statement signed under duress was not binding. Malaria alone would have killed few men in the prime of life, but combined with malnutrition and its attendant ulcers, beriberi, dysentery and general weakness, it was lethal. Stan Arneil's group covered 300 kilometres in fifteen nights of marching, arriving at Shimo Sonkurai, close to the Burma border, on 17 May 1943. In February 1944, Catholic and Lutheran missionaries on the Yorishime Maru— also Dorish Maru—were bombed and strafed by American aircraft off Wewak, killing sixty-three and leaving many wounded. They shook hands, staggered and crawled to a road and waited for capture. Ben Barnett, a wicket keeper, had toured England with Australian sides in 1934 and 1938. Others were given long prison sentences. Even after his experiences in battle and as a prisoner on the Burma–Thailand Railway, Don Wall of the 2/20th battalion said: 'this was to be one of the most memorable events of our overseas experience'. Hundreds of Australian civilians were also interned. The first of the ex-prisoner of war memoirs (Rohan Rivett, Behind Bamboo, 1946, and Russell Braddon, The Naked Island, 1952) were published and sold well. Shifted further north, 'A' Force was joined by other Allied prisoners and by October 1942 they had began work on the railway. The New Guineans themselves were divided: some delighted at the sight of the sweating mastas and others evaded guards to bring food and other goods to men they knew. As the guards left the camps, some men liberated themselves. With the known losses on the Rokyu Maru, the railway, and in atrocities such as Tol, and the news that came out of the Philippines as the Americans freed prisoners early in 1945, Australians had every reason to be apprehensive. The pre-war British regiments had lived in its multi-storied quarters, and now most Australians were crammed into Selarang Barracks. When all the prisoners from the first march gathered at Ranau in April, only about 150 were still alive. He has come to symbolise the suffering of the final groups of Sandakan prisoners. Twelve nurses died in the attack or were drowned. The group included members of the Australian Army Nursing Service, mission and civilian nurses and Kathleen Bignell, a planter, all of whom were captured in Rabaul. The Australian Military Forces World War Two Missing and Prisoners of War records provide information on the fate of servicemen in the Second World War. You could have your own little vegetable garden, keep your own chooks, have your own eggs ...'26 Tempted by the general laxity, the proximity of Australia and the friendliness of the Ambonese, Lieutenant Bill Jinkins and six others escaped, made their way through the islands, picked up four other Australian escapers, and after seven weeks of risk and luck sailed into Darwin. He died on 20 March 1945 after almost three weeks of torture and beatings. That farewell at sea, seen by 12,000 Australians, was a significant moment in Australian history: for the first time, Australia made a substantial commitment of forces to its near north. Singapore itself fell on 15 February, and in that greatest defeat suffered in the history of British arms, 15,000 Australians became prisoners. Captured at the fall of Singapore and transported to Korea on the Fukkai Maru, they were led on the march by a member of the Kenpeitai (Japanese security police), followed by a Korean guard. Two more of the crew failed to reach shore. Changi, on the north-east of Singapore Island, was the largest prisoner of war camp. Men who had kept themselves alive with thoughts of vengeance found that when they were at last free they had little desire to retaliate. The forgotten Australian prisoners of war experimented on by the Nazis. In April 1943 750 British prisoners arrived at Sandakan, and the Australians through their outside contacts learnt that another 500 Australians of 'E' Force had landed on the small island of Berhala, just off Sandakan. Prisoners were held in over 40 major camps all over Germany, from Lithuania to the Rhine. From the men who had survived the sinking of the Rokyu Maru they had detailed information of some camps. Others were leaving Changi and going 'upcountry' by train. It was there, Betty Jeffery wrote, that 'we learnt to sleep on unadulterated concrete and eat filthy rice ... the lavatory ... was just a gutter, no protection, no privacy, and used by both the Japanese and us'. A memorial now stands near the site of his death at Ranau. Relief that they had survived their first battles was tinged by the humiliation of defeat, regret that they could no longer defend their homeland when it was under threat, and some apprehension about how they might be received at the end of the war. The 2/40th Battalion captured on Timor were Tasmanians; the 2/21st on Ambon were Victorians; the 2/4th Machine Gun Battalion that arrived in Singapore in January were Western Australians; the 2/18th and 2/19th Battalions were from New South Wales, many of the 2/18th from the north and many of the 2/19th from the Riverina; the 2/26th Battalion, another unit captured on Singapore, was from Queensland; and the 2/3rd Machine Gunners, who fought in Syria and surrendered on Java, had been formed and did much of their training in South Australia, but included companies from Western Australia, Tasmania and Victoria. In a protracted voyage of seventy days, the patched up Byoki Maru' carried cramped Australians through submarine attack and typhoon to reach Japan. During World War I, the Australian Government interned ‘enemy aliens’ living in Australia. The men were uncertain where they were going, but the Japanese had assured senior officers on 'F' Force that food would be plentiful and the work light and men should take musical instruments to use in their leisure. Nineteen Australian prisoners were killed, apparently as incidental victims of a Chinese guerrilla raid on a camp where they were working; but near the end of the war Major Ian Macrae and five other prisoners escaped to take their chances with the Chinese and lived to rejoin their liberated fellow prisoners. This sketch survived by chance when Chalker was caught by a guard, forced to tear up his sketches and beaten for two days. On 16 February 1941 the Queen Mary, once one of Britain's grandest and best-known passenger liners and now a troop ship, was four days' sailing out of Fremantle. If the sick and wounded were going to be looked after, then the prisoners themselves would have to supply virtually all medical equipment, medicines and expertise. On 14 May 1942, 3000 Australians in 'A' Force went on board two crowded, rusty ships. As they topped a long, low rise, Sergeant Don Moore looked back at the apparently endless line of troops and could not understand how they had been defeated. They tried to make up time—at work and by marrying and buying a house. Many survived for weeks, suffering malaria and malnutrition, as they evaded the Japanese. Nearly 15 000 were captured in Singapore; over 2700 on Java and the remainder in smaller groups on Ambon, Timor and New Britain. On 24 April 1998, to commemorate the experiences of the prisoners on the railway, the Australian Government officially opened the Hellfire Pass Memorial, which includes a three and a half hour walking trail that takes visitors to several of the cuttings and bridge sites. Sometimes prisoners recognised that these civilians were in the same boat as they were €“ as victims of Japanese militarism. Greater numbers of Australians were sent to Japan later in 1942 and 1943 when 'C', 'G' and 'J' Forces left Changi for Japan. Most of the other Australians in Japan worked in dangerous conditions in underground coal mines, in ship yards and in various factories. Stan Arneil wrote, 'Modesty we now have none and the sight of crowds of men bogging all over the station yard was sickening'. Then it became a matter of obtaining the necessary vegetables and meat to add to the rice. In spite of Olle's suspicions, a Thai pilot flew him to north Thailand, where he was transferred to an RAF aircraft and was in Calcutta by mid-June. Most of Sparrow Force, surrounded by a vastly greater number of enemy troops, surrendered on Timor on 23 February: a few evaders, the 2/2nd Independent Company and Timorese continued guerrilla operations. Over 22,000 Australian servicemen and almost forty nurses were captured by the Japanese. Civilian internees compelled to travel by ship in New Guinea waters were also vulnerable. In all, around 13,000 Australians went to the railway, and close to 2800 died, a significant proportion of the 12,000 Allied prisoner deaths. Men accepted unaccustomed responsibility: one Australian warrant officer became the de facto commanding officer of 11,000 Allied prisoners of war in Wolfsberg camp. Soon shortage of food and an ill-balanced diet led to the abandonment of most active sports. The war records of Archie Flanagan, the father of Man Booker award winning Australian author, Richard Flanagan, are now released. The best known of those who did was Private George Aspinall of the 2/30th Battalion, who enlisted under age at 17 and carried his going-away present of a Kodak camera with him to war and captivity. Most of the units suffering high casualties as a result of imprisonment by the Japanese have published histories. Eleven disappeared, presumably executed. Six-hundred Australians, one of the last groups to reach Japan, disembarked at Moji from the Awa Maru in January 1945. Most families had received little definite information, and all of it old. The revelations of the soldiers, and 24 surviving nursing sisters, also prisoners of war, are now part of Australian history. The five survivors were picked up by a Japanese cruiser, and the doctor in the sick bay, Metzler said, was the 'soul of kindliness and courtesy', and through the next years he never met another Japanese like the good doctor. Two, Lieutenant Charles Wagner and Sergeant Rex Butler, were killed fighting with the island guerrillas, and the other five were picked up by an American submarine early in 1944 and taken to Australia. 20 Horrific Details about Japanese POW Camps During World War II By Steve The term “prisoner of war” dates as far back as 1660, recognizing an individual detained … The next day he had some: some 'gallant fellows' had walked several kilometres up the line, climbed telegraph poles, smashed the insulators and taken out the sulphur. In June 1943 'E' Force joined the Australian and British prisoners at Sandakan. There is one comprehensive bibliography: David Milne, POWs in Japanese camps: an annotated bibliography of books in English 1939–1999, (2002). Many wrote false names, a surprising number of Australians being called 'Ned Kelly'. In a small town of 1000 where every one knew everybody, three or four were prisoners of war. On their return, the Japanese ordered twentytwo nurses to walk into the sea and opened fire on them. The Japanese began a massive reorganisation of their troops. The men in the background wearing crossed white webbing are members of the Royal Papuan Constabulary band. The piers for timber bridges were sunk by teams of men who hauled on ropes to raise a weight on a primitive scaffold and then let it crash down on the top of the pier. Andras Tomas was 19 when he was captured by the Soviet Union in the fall of 1944. Four died en route. But Australians of the 1940s knew rice more as a dessert, as rice pudding, than as a staple food, and at first the army cooks turned out a glutinous sludge. To disguise his real purpose, Chalker was employed as a nurse and physiotherapist but, Dunlop said, 'His gentle compassion, keen intelligence and sensitive hands made him a marked asset in either capacity'. The Japanese had determined that they were to stay there until they agreed to sign a sworn statement not to escape. The bands of the 2/18th, 2/19th and 2/20th Battalions played on the deck of the Queen, soldiers and nurses on all the ships sang, waved, cooeed and cheered: 'It was a great sight'. The most famous wireless was built into the head of a broom, but in spite of Japanese searches, other receivers and spare parts were kept so that all the major groups of Australians leaving Changi had a wireless. The men were flown from Singapore into Rose Bay by Catalina flying boats, then bussed to hospital for medical examination. Most were captured early in 1942 when Japanese forces captured Malaya, Singapore, New Britain, and the Netherlands East Indies. Requests and inquiries concerning reproduction and rights should be addressed to the Commonwealth Copyright Administration, Attorney-General's Department, Robert Garran Offices, National Circuit, Barton ACT 2600 or posted at, Community engagement team In addition some 300 men who survived the sinking of the HMAS Perth in the Battle of Java Sea in late February 1942 were taken prisoner. News had been spreading informally in Australia from late 1944, and the Australian and other Allied governments made public statements in November, saying what had happened on the Rokyu Maru and drawing on testimony from men who had worked on the Burma–Thailand railway. It was weeks before they could mass produce the white fluffy rice that was both edible and providing maximum benefit. Come and see why. But the new camp was in an intensely malarious area and the weakened women were vulnerable. Several other prisoners had a facility with brush and pencil. Under pressure to 'entertain' Japanese officers, the nurses dressed as unattractive 'gaunt harpies' and successfully resisted all the offered riches of food and drink in exchange for sex. Sir Edward "Weary" Dunlop — an Australian surgeon and legend among prisoners of the Thai Burma Railway in World War II Clive Dunn — British Dad's Army actor, captured following the Battle of Greece in 1941 and held in German captivity until the end of World War II Other prisoners came by boat down the Mekong River to Saigon, and from there the Japanese hoped to ship them on to Japan. Other officers captured in south-east Asia were also sent to Zentsuji, bringing the Australian total to about 100. Beginning in January 1943, the men were being trucked to Singapore station to board trains for Thailand. As a prisoner, Griffin was able to document the three and a half years of Changi, and he met and talked with the men who had been away on the Burma–Thailand railway. Only 190 Australian prisoners of war were buried in Japan, a surprisingly small number relative to the total number of Australians and the severity of the conditions that they recall. The scaffolding, made from bamboo, is at the site of the eleven-span steel bridge that was completed in April 1943, spanning the Mae Klong river, later renamed the Kwai Yai river. After enduring the first death march, Gunner Cleary escaped from Ranau but was recaptured. Dunlop realised the importance of recording details of the suffering of prisoners, the methods employed by doctors, and the technical ingenuity of the prisoners who were making everything from artificial limbs to dental drills and saline drips. On 15 February Frank Christie of the 4th Anti-Tank wrote in his diary 'all over' and then added in capitals 'SURRENDER, CAPITULATE ... a terrible show'. At the Alexandra military hospital on the eve of the surrender on Singapore, the Japanese killed over 150 Allied soldiers. But on 16 August the Japanese admitted that there was an 'armistice', and the men were no longer to be considered prisoners. He was at the helm when Perth was torpedoed in Sunda Strait, and after capture he was imprisoned on Java, went to Thailand with Dunlop Force, and ended the war working in an underground coalmine at Ohama in Japan. More than 8000 prisoners of war and many hundreds of civilian internees had died. The prison camps in Japan varied greatly. In November 1942 it was the Australians' turn. They and about 160 other Australians captured on the Malay Peninsula were imprisoned in Pudu, the civilian gaol in Kuala Lumpur, then transferred to Changi in November 1942. He made a 'small sketch' at Slim River in 1942, but this drawing was completed in 1945. He was right about the first, and the nurses were certainly under threat of the second, but evaded that fate. Then, in the 1980s, there was an unexpected resurgence in interest in the history of war. One-quarter of Australian POWs died in Turkish captivity due to poor food and disease. The Japanese were ordered that no prisoners were to be allowed to drop out of the march for any reason. As the prisoners of war were to say, being an ex-prisoner was a life sentence. Only three managed to reach the French border. A fourth man who survived the march and escaped from Ranau, Bombardier William Moxham, was too ill to be photographed with this group. The camp and all possessions were lost, ten men were killed and many injured. In the foreground, left to right are: Mother Martha (Dutch), Sister M Flavia (Australian) and Sister Berenice Twohill (Australian). The work of the doctors— Albert Coates, Weary Dunlop, Bruce Hunt, Rowley Richards, Roy Mills, Kevin Fagan, David Hinder and others—was praised by their fellow prisoners long before they returned to Australia. AWM P01538.003, Crowds welcome home ex-prisoners of war, Sydney, 1945. With the Japanese continuing to move quickly south, the Australians were constantly in danger of being encircled or stranded. Reacting to the escape, the Japanese tightened conditions, and the Australians became only too aware of their vulnerability after the 'Dutch Garden Party'. 'It made the Japs sit up'. The cemetery at the Thai end of the railway, at Kanchanaburi, is better known. Other men with bag stretchers or cane baskets carried away the rubble left by explosions or teased-out by prisoners of war with pinch bars, picks and shovels. In 1945 survivors were liberated from camps all over Asia: some in the places they had been captured, others in Burma and Thailand, Taiwan, Korea, and even Japan itself. Aboard the Vyner Brooke draped the bamboo poles is old mosquito netting feet ' resulting from,. Left on Ambon, the Japanese fleet on its way to the latrines. 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