Toroku POW Camp
Detailed information courtesy of Michael
Hurst, MBE, founder of the Taiwan
POW Camps Memorial Society
TOROKU POW CAMP (Touliou)
Camp was a school building. Prisoners were in such bad shape that they were not required to do heavy slave labor. Some worked in the nearby sugar factory cutting and processing sugar cane and others did random projects in the nearby village. Many said it was the best camp they were ever in. This camp was not bombed by Allied planes.
Location Map- external link
9 Nov 1944: 294 Americans arrive ex Hokusen Maru
20 Jan 1945: POWS depart for transit to Japan
Many of the men departed this camp and boarded the Melbourne Maru on 14 Jan 1945. This ship carried some 499 POWS. Some also went north to Keelung and were transported to Japan on the Enoshima Maru which carried 452. The Melbourne Maru got underway on 15 Jan and Enoshima Maru on the 24th. The Melbourne Maru arrived in Moji on 24 January and the Enoshima on 30 Jan 1945. Over the next few days men were dispatched to various camps in Fukuoka, Osaka and Sendai areas.
27 Jan 1945: De Blasio, too sick for shipment to Japan, died at Keelung Harbor
5 March 1945: 43 British POWs arrive from Inrin Camp – ex-Taichu Camp, and join 18 Americans who had not gone to Japan. They stay about one month before being transferred again to Shirakawa Camp on 11 April 1945. There were four more deaths in the camp during this time.
Books about this camp:
Courage on Bataan and Beyond- a description of the experience of Abel F. Ortega, 192nd Tank Bn. Excellent selection of photos and the experience of the Death March, O'Donnell, Camp Murphy and hell ships to Japan and final days at Maibara. NOTE: Ortega and many of the men from the Toroku Camp went on the Enoshima Maru, not the Melbourne Maru. Accurate details of POW camp life may be obtained at the Taiwan POW Camps Memorial Society website.
All American prisoners arrived on the Hokusen Maru, also known as the Haro Maru or Benjo Maru. One of the longest hell ship voyages of the war. First loaded 1 Oct 1944 and underway from Manila on 3 Oct 1944. Anchored Hong Kong 11-21 October. Carrier planes attacked on 13 Oct. Arrived Taiwan 24 Oct and men debarked on 8 November. During the entire voyage, at least 36 men died en route. 294 selected POWS arrived Toroku on 9 Nov 1944 along with two officers and one doctor who remained less than one day.
See List of men who perished en route to Taiwan (Formosa) on the Hokusen Maru.
Courtesy of Alcide Benini. This roster lists the 294 men assigned to Toroku and was originally prepared by Hubert D. Hough.
Names & dates of death are noted.
Roster for the British POWs is NOT available at this time.
Slave Work Parties:
Sqd #1-Cane Sugar processing Party
Sqd #2-Mill Party
Sqd #3-(Mill-10 men) (Farm- 20 men)
Sqd #4- farm party
Sqd #5- City Party
Sqd #6- Regular workers
Sqd #7 (35) Carpenters sanitation woodcutters etc
Sqd #8- Medical & misc
Sqd #9- Misc-mostly sick
While the men were given work to do, they were not beaten and pushed as in most of the other "slave" labor camps on Taiwan - like Kinkaseki, Taichu, Heito, and Taihoku. The POWs have told me that the commandant was a kind man (relatively speaking) and was concerned about their welfare. He also allowed the local people to help supplement the POWs' food, and the gardening work they did was for their own use. So comparatively speaking - in this camp at least, the men were not forced to work as "slaves" like they were in many others. (per Michael Hurst)