In the years from 1999 - 2015, the Taiwan POW Camps Memorial Society has erected a number of memorials in honour and tribute to the men of the Allied nations who were taken prisoner by the Japanese in December 1941 and the spring of 1942, and who suffered so terribly in the fourteen prisoner of war camps on the island until they were liberated in September 1945.
British, Australian and Commonwealth POWs captured at the fall of Hong Kong, Malaya, Singapore, North Borneo; Dutch taken prisoner with the surrender of the East Indies in March 1942 and Americans captured at the surrender of Bataan and Corregidor in April and May 1942, made up those who were interned and made to slave for the Japanese war effort here from August 1942 to August 1945 when the Japanese finally surrendered after the dropping of the atomic bombs.
As a bit of background info, in November 1996 information was brought to light about the infamous Kinkaseki POW Camp in northern Taiwan and almost immediately afterward, Michael Hurst, a Canadian expat living and working in Taiwan, decided that something should be done to tell the story of this - and the other camps that were on Taiwan to the world, and to make sure that the men who suffered in them were not forgotten. As a result a committee which was comprised of local Commonwealth expats, was formed to that end. It was called the Kinkaseki Memorial Committee, and chaired by Hurst, a memorial service was planned and held in May 1997 to remember the men of Kinkaseki. Subsequently it was decided to erect a POW memorial on the site of the former Kinkaseki Camp and a re-formed committee saw to it during that year that this was accomplished. The committee was also responsible for erecting several information plaques around the memorial site including one placed on the last remaining gatepost of the camp. When all this work was completed, the Kinkaseki Committee was closed and the Taiwan POW Camps Memorial Society was created to carry on the work of finding the rest of the former POW camps and also the former POWs, so they would know what had been done here in Taiwan in their honour.
Over the years it has been our honour to be able to erect these various memorials here in Taiwan, as well as some overseas, to those men who deserve to be remembered after all the years they were forgotten and neglected in their home countries and by their governments.
It wasn't always easy to accomplish what we set out to do in building these memorials, but it seemed that when trying to obtain permission from government officials and departments, as well as from local Taiwanese, that when we shared the story of the POWs with them, they were moved and touched, and as a result we usually had full co-operation and in some cases financial assistance as well. The majority of the memorials were built with funds raised by the Society through money donated by our friends and supporters all over the world who want to share in this wonderful venture with us.
Perhaps the greatest achievement has been the creation of the Taiwan Prisoner of War Memorial Park, located on the site of the former Kinkaseki POW Camp in Jinguashi. In addition to the orignal Kinkaseki / Taiwan POW Memorial erected in 1997, the park displays a few remaining features of the former camp, along with several other memorials - the Eternal Flame of Peace and Remembrance sculpture, and the 56 foot / 17 metre POW Memorial Wall with the names of the more than 4350 Taiwan POWs engraved in the black granite giving the first and last name, rank and nationality of each POW. These are complimented by a granite map of Taiwan showing the location of all the former camps, and a bronze sculpture of two POWs supporting each other and helping each other to survive entitled "Mates". This is the only memorial park in the world dedicated to the Far Eastern Prisoners of War.
With the completion and dedication of the Shirakawa Camp POW Memorial in November 2013, we have placed memorials at all the major camps on the island where the POWs were interned. In doing so we are ensuring that the former POW camps are marked as historical sites, and also that what took place in those camps will be known and never forgotten.
However, this project is still ongoing as there may be other memorials we want to build in the days to come as the need and opportunity arises.
The following photos and descriptions tell the story of where and when these memorials were erected.
The Kinkaseki /Taiwan POW Memorial - 1997 The Kukustu Camp POW Memorial - 1999
The Taichu Camp POW Memorial - 2000 The Heito Camp POW Memorial - 2004
(Above) Former Taiwan POWs George Reynolds & Stan Vickerstaff pose by the Taiwan POW Memorial Tree
(Right) Plaque on the Taiwan POW Memorial Tree located at the National Memorial Arburetum, Staffordshire, England - dedicated 2003
The Taiwan Hellships Memorial, Kaohsiung - 2006 The Eternal Flame of Peace & Remembrance Sculpture - 2006
The Taiwan POW Memorial Tree - in the POW Memorial Park, Jinguashi, Taiwan - 2007
Bench in memory of George Harrison, Alfred J. Foster & the men of the 5th Field Reg't. R.A., at Crawley, Sussex, UK - 2008
The Toroku Camp POW Memorial - 2009 The American Airmen's Plaque, Old Taipei Prison Wall - 2009
Taiwan Hellships Permanent Display, War & Peace Museum - 2011 The Taihoku Camp # 6 POW Memorial - 2011
The completed Taiwan Prisoner of War Memorial Park - 2011 The POW Memorial Wall with 4,363 names.
Map of the Taiwan POW Camps engraved in granite - 2011.
POW Sculpture entitled "MATES" - depicting two POWs helping each other survive - 2011.
The Karenko Camp POW Memorial - 2012 - The Information Panel tells the story of Karenko Camp
The Shirakawa Camp POW Memorial - 2013 Memorial Bench - Taiwan POW Park - 2015
For those former Taiwan POWs and their family members viewing these memorials erected and dedicated in your honour, we hope that you will know and be assured that you and your mates and your loved ones - many of whom did not return, have not and will not ever be forgotten!