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.
75 years is a long time – a lifetime for some, and for many nowadays World War II is but a long ago distant event. However, with the history of the Second World War so well recorded and with resources like the internet available to study it with, it is possible for anyone to know what happened during those dark days. I'm sure there are few people who have not heard of Pearl Harbor, the Fall of Singapore and Hong Kong, or many of the other events of that great conflict.
On December 8th Japan time - December 7th United States time, the Japanese Imperial Forces launched what President Roosevelt called the 'day of infamy', with attacks on Malaya, Pearl Harbour Hawaii, Hong Kong and the Philippines. This year is the 75th anniversary of those attacks and the escalation of the largest conflict in human history.
A little after 2 am on the morning of December 8th Japanese forces landed on the northeast coast of Malaya at Kota Bharu, and despite the best efforts of the defending forces there who fired the first shots of the Pacific War, the beach defenses and the nearby airfield were overrun. This was the beginning of the fighting retreat down through Malaya to Singapore Island culminating in its final surrender on February 15th 1942.
Approximately seventy minutes later at around 8 am local time, the Japanese Navy launched its armada of attack aircraft on Pearl Harbor Hawaii, resulting in the almost complete destruction of the US Pacific Fleet and the deaths of hundreds of American sailors and airmen. This finally brought the Americans into the war which up until then saw only Great Britain and her allies – Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa involved in trying to stem the tide against the Axis forces.
Also, just after 8 am on December 8th hordes of Japanese troops and armour poured cross the Chinese border into the British Crown Colony of Hong Kong, breaking through the poor defensive lines and forcing the defenders back onto Hong Kong Island. It took only 17 days for the colony to surrender on Christmas Day 1941 - another stunning victory for the Japanese.
In the Philippines, General Douglas MacArthur heard about the Pearl Harbor attack around 3:00 am but did nothing to ready the islands for the impending onslaught - even when ordered to do so in the early morning hours by Washington. General Brereton, the commander of the Far East Air Force implored MacArthur to allow an attack on the airfields and bases in southern Taiwan, from where everyone knew any attack would come, but he was refused three times by MacArthur.
When the attack finally came at 12:30 noon that day, Japanese bombers and fighters found most of the American aircraft at Clark Field and the other bases virtually lined up wingtip to wingtip on the airfields and wiped out most of Brereton's air force on the first day. MacArthur's inaction on December 8th eventually led to the downfall of the Philippines and the deaths of thousands of American and Filipino forces who were forced to hold out on Bataan and Corregidor before finally having to surrender. Thousands of civilians also died in that conflict.
The Netherlands East Indies fell without much of a struggle in March 1942 and by June more than 150,000 Allied forces had become prisoners of war. Many thousands of these men died in POW camps all across Asia and in Japan itself before the dropping of the atomic bombs brought the war to a close in August 1945. More than 4,350 of those POWs came to Taiwan and over 10% died in the camps here from starvation, disease, overwork, and beatings by the cruel guards.
It is all these men - as well as all the allied fighting men who subsequently took part in the battles of the Pacific War, that we want to remember on this special anniversary. May we never forget their service, suffering and sacrifice for the freedom that we enjoy in the world today.
On sending the recent '2016 Fall & Winter Newsletter' to our many friends and supporters worldwide, we received quite a number of bounce-backs and rejections with the reason stated as:
“451-4.3.0 Multiple destination domains per transaction is unsupported. Please try again.”
If you or your server have set your system security in this way, then please kindly inform your server that all emails from ‘society at powtaiwan.org’ are safe or you will no longer be able to receive notices of our newsletters or events.
Thank you for your continued interest in the Taiwan POWs and our work and we look forward to keeping in touch in the future.
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.
December 2, 2016 - Fall-Winter2016 Newsletter uploaded to the site. Click here or go to the Society Section and click on the newsletter in the Newsletters box.
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 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.
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!
Click here...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 more than 15,000 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 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