Since early in 1997 there has been an effort to recognize the former Commonwealth and Allied prisoners of war in Taiwan who suffered at the hands of the Japanese during World War II. This project which was known originally as the KINKASEKI POW MEMORIAL PROJECT, came about as a result of information coming to light late in 1996 about the notorious Japanese prisoner of war camp at Jinguashi, Taiwan, formerly known as Kinkaseki. Michael Hurst MBE, a Canadian expat living in Taipei, formed a committee to organize a memorial service for the men of Kinkaseki in May of 1997, and this ultimately led to the construction of a memorial to the POWs of Kinkaseki and the other POW camps in Taiwan. The Kinkaseki / Taiwan POW Memorial was officially dedicated on November 23, 1997.
(See "How It All Began" in the KINKASEKI section - for more of the history of the building of the Kinkaseki Memorial.)
In November 1998 several information plaques were erected near the memorial to tell more of the story of the POW camp and the adjacent copper mine where the prisoners were forced to work in horrific conditions as slaves of the Japanese. The memorial project was finally completed in March 1999 after the building of a low wall along the one side of the memorial and some further landscaping.
The other principle objective of the committee had been to make sure that the former POWs were informed of the memorial and of the fact that they and their comrades had not been forgotten. During those first two years a worldwide search for the surviving POWs of Kinkaseki and the other camps was undertaken, with the result that many living survivors and their immediate next-of-kin were located. This has been an ongoing project which continues to this day.
Since the Kinkaseki Memorial Committee had completed the task of building the memorial - which it was originally formed to do, the committee was stood down at the end of April 1999. However the ongoing job of locating survivors and also identifying the other POW camps on Taiwan still remained.
To that end, a new society was formed on May 1, 1999 to carry on the work that was begun by the Kinkaseki Memorial Committee. This new organization was called the "TAIWAN POW CAMPS MEMORIAL SOCIETY", and like the former Kinkaseki Committee, was made up of representatives of the Commonwealth and Allied community in Taiwan.
The director of the Taiwan POW Camps Memorial Society is Michael Hurst MBE, the founder and first chairman of the Kinkaseki Memorial Committee. The directors and advisors are made up of members of the British, Canadian, Australia/New Zealand, American, Dutch and Taiwanese communities in Taiwan. The committee also has FEPOW representatives in the United Kingdom and Australia, and historical advisors in the United Kingdom, USA and Taiwan.
The aim of the Society was to do research on all of the former Japanese POW camps on Taiwan, and to try to locate those camps and the POWs who were interned in them. Most importantly, the new committee wanted to ensure that the survivors of these camps knew that they and their mates had not been forgotten.
Since its formation, the society has found the locations of all of the former Taiwan prisoner of war camps and has come in contact with more than 300 former POWs and family members. To date we have erected seven more memorials to the POWs around the island in addition to the one at Jinguashi. The Taiwan Prisoner of War Memorial Park - with its 56-foot long POW Memorial Wall (containing the names of all of the former Taiwan POWs), a beautiful life-size bronze sculpture of two POWs struggling to survive, the Taiwan POW Memorial, and an Eternal Flame of Peace and Remembrance, adorn the park in honour and memory of the former Taiwan POWs.
There is still much to do and we are still looking for more POWs who were in Taiwan during World War II. It is hoped they will come forward with their stories and any materials which will aid us in our research. We would appreciate help from family members and anyone who might have information about surviving POWs or the former POW camps on Taiwan. If you can be of any assistance to us in any of these areas, we would like to hear from you.