Summary of Camp
Alf Larson/John Powers information
The following summary was submitted by John Powers, based upon a report by Alf Larson:
Alf Larson arrived at Nomachi on 6 Sep 1944 from the Philippines. There were no other POWs there when they arrived. The Americans numbered about 200. Some British POWs arrived in early 1945 from Singapore. The camp was across the bay from the city of Takoaka on the west coast of Honshu. The camp consisted of 2 large barracks, each with 2 tiers of bunks with straw mattresses. There was a central aisle with sleeping platforms on each side. Each POW was given 2 blankets and a hard pillow. The barracks had toilets, running water and a pot bellied stove in the middle of the barracks. There was never enough wood, the stove never heated the barracks. Lice were a problem. Some POWs thought the barracks had been used by Japanese troops prior.
There was a 10 foot high barbed wire fence around the camp with lights. Snow fall was heavy that winter.
POWs worked in a manganese smelting operation across the bay from the camp. Prisoners would board a small ferry to get to work. Others worked in a rock quarry or the machine shop. The camp commander [Nagahara] was called One-Arm Bandit, he had lost an arm fighting in China. The American camp commander testified on his behalf after the war. The POW camp commander was Lt Sense. There was apparently another officer plus a medical officer among the POWs.
Nagahara sentenced to one year in prison
Director of Hokkia Denko sentenced to two years in prison
Diet was soupy rice for breakfast, cooked rice for lunch with occasional soybeans or fish, and soupy rice for supper. Food was cooked in a kitchen and eaten in the barracks. At Nomachi they did not have the opportunity to get other food such as they had been able to do in the Philippines. There they could go out on a work detail and pick weeds or catch a snake. That was not possible at Nomachi.
There was no recreation, prisoners were too tired anyhow. They had no cards, no cigarettes. The prisoners were issued Japanese uniforms with hobnailed boots.
Prisoners could use the bath once a week after the Japanese guards had finished with their daily bath. There was a large wooden tub which would hold 15 to 30 people. The prisoners bathed on Friday. Prisoners did not cut their hair, there was no barber. They had no toothbrushes or toothpaste. There were no medical supplies. They would use burnt rice to treat diarrhea, rice burnt so it was mostly charcoal. They received one Red Cross package while at Nomachi. The city of Takoaka was bombed but not the camp itself. In the last part of August a small plane landed and an American sergeant told them a rescue team would be there shortly. No one showed up so on 14 September Lt Sense told the Japanese commander (only he and a Japanese sergeant were left) to have a train at the siding the next morning. That day the prisoners were issued new Japanese uniforms. The train arrived on 15 Sep and took them to Tokyo, a journey of a day and a half. They ended up on the hospital ship Mercy which took them to Manila.
About 5 POWs refused to work and were starved to death. There were no other deaths. [Wrong - see list of deceased] This information is from Alf Larsen's oral history on BataanSurvivor.com. John N. Powers