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E. Vesey Affidavit


I, ERIC VESEY, a commission agent, residing at 18, Pensarn Avenue, Fallowfield, Manchester, in the County of Lancaster, make oath and say as follows:-

(1) On 23rd February, 1942, whilst serving as a Gunner No. 1821778 of the 79th Battery, 21st Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery, stationed at Airkrom, Timor, I was taken prisoner by the Japanese.

(2) About the end of November, 1942, I arrived at Moji, Island of Kyushu, Japan, on board the "Itchi Maru" from Singapore. All prisoners capable of walking were disembarked and with others I stayed overnight at Moji, being transferred by train the following day to Kumamoto Prisoner of War Camp, Island of Kyushu, Japan. Approximately 250 sick prisoners were left behind at Moji and I was later told by men who recovered and were sent to Kumamoto, that of this number 152 died at Moji, but I cannot now remember the names of anyone who died or of my informants.

(3) Food at Kumamoto consisted of a large cupful of steamed rice and about half a pint of vegetable soup three times per day. This diet never varied. Prisoners' clothing consisted of the tropical kit worn when taken prisoner and, with others, I suffered severely during the winter of 1942 and beginning of 1943 from lack of proper clothing.

(4) Latrine arrangements were satisfactory and consisted of earthen trenches covered with wooden lids. Washing facilities were adequate.

(5) The camp consisted of three wooden huts each accommodating approximately 70 men and there were about 200 prisoners at the camp. Sleeping accommodation was on raised wooden platforms and there was enough space for every man. I do not know the name of the Japanese Commandant but Colonel Saunders, 21st L.A.A. Regiment, R.A. was the British Officer in Charge.

(6) There was also a hospital at the camp, in the charge of Dr. Wallace, R.A.M.C. The hospital held about 70 patients and was always full during the first 5 months at the camp, practically always with men suffering from diarrhoea caused through lack of clothing in the cold climate, and bad food. Medical supplies were very inadequate and consisted of the remains of supplies held on capture, although later a small quantity of Japanese material was made available, but I cannot say the extent of the latter.

During the first two weeks at the camp I was a patient at the hospital suffering from diarrhoea, fibrositis and tropical ulcers.

The Japanese refused to provide medical orderlies at the hospital and volunteers were asked for among the prisoners for this duty. Mainly the work involved emptying flat dixies which patients had used as bedpans, as the proper utensils were not provided. This work was very nauseating and disagreeable as the majority of patients suffered from diarrhoea and dysentery.

(7) There was one issue of Red Cross supplies at Kumamoto whilst I was a prisoner, and I received half a tin of condensed milk and a quarter of an apple pudding. Also three tins of corned beef per man was added to the cook house supplies, and fortnightly each prisoner received half a cup of sugar and cocoa.

(8) On my discharge from hospital at the camp I found that working parties had been organised by the Japanese.

Daily, two parties of 50 or 60 prisoners were marched under Japanese Army guards to the airfield at Kumamoto, a distance of half a mile from the camp. The work consisted of constructing aerodrome runways by digging soil and laying ballast, and was supervised by Japanese civilian charge hands. On many occasions men possessing greatcoats were forced by the charge hands to discard them and failure to do this resulted in men being beaten.

On several occasions about December, 1942, and January, 1943, I was beaten about the head and face with the fists by civilian charge hands, but I cannot now recollect the reasons for such beating or the names of the Japanese civilians concerned.

(9) Frequently men on working parties stopped working because they were too sick to carry on. By order of the Japanese Commandant all such men were placed on half rations. About January, 1945, I was placed on half rations for failing to carry on with the work and whilst queueing for food at the airfield I joined the men on a full ration scale, but was observed by a Japanese guard. He immediately pulled me out of the queue and beat me about the head and body with his fists and also the butt end of his rifle. I do not know the name of the guard nor can I recollect the name of any prisoner who may have witnessed the incident.

(10) It was the custom for a men who was sick to report to a Japanese medical orderly who, with Dr. Wallace, examined the prisoner and decided whether or not he was fit to work. On one occasion in January, 1943, I remember William Rushton (formerly of Crewe Alexandra Football Club), reported unfit for work. To my knowledge he was suffering from scurvy, diarrhoea and malnutrition, but after examination by Wallace and a Japanese medical orderly, whose name I do not know, he was forced to go to work. I was in the same working party and Rushton did not perform any work all day but lay on the ground by a fire. At the end of the day he was carried home by members of the working party and died the same night. Another witness was Major Dempsey who was the Commanding Officer, 79th Battery, 21st L.A.A. Regiment R.A.

The burial ground for prisoners of war was in a part of the Japanese cemetery at Kumamoto set aside for Christians, and was about 7 miles from the camp. The Japanese Commandant refused to allow a lorry to be used for Rushton's burial and the body was carried in a badly made wooden coffin provided by the Japanese, by eight prisoners who volunteered for the duty. I remember that J. Fowler of 16, Ninth Avenue, Heyes, Middlesex was a volunteer, and also that a German named Karl Schilling was buried in that cemetery.

(11) During the first 15 weeks at Kumamoto thirty-seven prisoners died from malnutrition and illness made worse by lack of medical supplies and the insufficiency of clothing in the severe cold weather. I remember that one of the 37 who died was an Englishman who died from frostbite followed by gangrene in the feet. His death was directly attributable to lack of medical attention as he had complained of frostbite to the Japanese medical orderlies and to Dr. Wallace to my knowledge. I cannot remember his name.

(12) About July, 1943, I remember that David Adams (believed of the R.A.) who came from the London area, was caught stealing corn cobs from a nearby field, whilst working at the aerodrome. A Japanese civilian informed the Japanese Commandant who knocked Adams down, kicked him, spat on him and trod on his face. I witnessed this incident and on my release in September, 1945, I was told by other prisoners that Adams had later been killed in a coal mining accident but I do not know the situation of the mine or in which camp he was imprisoned at the time of his death.

(13) I cannot remember the names of any of the guards at Kumamoto as they were changed monthly, being brought from nearby military detachments, and I cannot recollect any particular instance of brutality or ill treatment by the guards.

(14) A permanent member of the camp staff was a Japanese civilian named Katsura who acted as interpreter. On one occasion, about February, 1943, a tap had been left running in the wash-house, and, as Katsura could not find the person responsible, be made me stand in line with eleven other prisoners and then beat all of us about the head and body with a bamboo pole. At that time I was ill with fibrositis and tropical ulcers and I suffered severe bruises from the beating and did not recover from the effects for more than a week. I cannot remember the names of other prisoners beaten on that occasion.

(15) A system of inducements, to make prisoners work harder, was introduced by the Japanese Commandant and gifts were made to men for working hard. These rewards usually took the form of a ball of rice about as big as a tennis ball, or two or three cigarettes. At Christmas, 1942, the Japanese Commandant made a presentation to several prisoners, of 100 cigarettes, a bar of soap, an apple and a certificate to say that the recipient was a good worker on behalf of Japan.

The effect of the inducement system was to make some of the prisoners work at a harder pace, and as a consequence the weaker were forced by the Japanese civilian charge hands to try to keep up with them, thus causing greater ill-health generally, and a certain amount of ill-feeling and resentment amongst the prisoners. I suffered considerably over a period of several months during early 1943, through endeavouring to avoid punishment by working as hard as other prisoners.

(16) I was a prisoner at Kumamoto for about 12 months and about November, 1943, with other prisoners I was transferred to a temporary camp which was situated at an ordnance depot in course construction in the Fukuoka district. I was transported by train and conditions of travel were fairly comfortable.

Fellow prisoners at Kumamoto were:-

J. Roberts, 8, Gladstone Street, Eccles.
W.L.R. Chatfield, 10, Alexandra Road, Uckfield, Sussex.
R. Eastham, Burleigh, Long Lane, Aughton, near Ormskirk.
W.H. Partridge, 26, Andalus Street, Stockwell, London, S.W.9.
W. Davies, 31, Chalmer Street, Battersea, London, S.W.8.
G. Catchpole, 39, Aylton Street, Rotherhithe, S.E.16.
Albert Cleeves, 48, St. John's Road, Bedminster, Bristol, 3.
H.S. Hoy, 69, Mackenzie Road, Holloway, N.7.
Archie C. Caines, 4, Station Approach, Hinchley Wood, Esher, Surrey.



Leonard F. Behrens


I, ERIC VESEY, a commission agent, residing at 18, Pensarn Avenue, Fallowfield, Manchester, in the County of Lancaster, make oath and say as follows:-

(1) On 23rd February, 1942, whilst serving as a Gunner No. 1821778 of the 79th Battery, 21st Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery, stationed at Airkrom, Timor, I was taken prisoner by the Japanese.

(2) About November, 1943, all prisoners at the Prisoner of War Camp at Kumamoto were transferred to an ordnance depot [Kashii] which was under construction about 7 miles from No. 1 Prisoner of War Sub Camp at Fukuoka. The Japanese personnel, including the Commandant, were also transferred. Conveyance was by train and accommodation was suitable.

(3) There were about 200 British prisoners and 50 Dutch and all were accommodated in a big ordnance shed situated inside the depot, providing good conditions for all.

(4) Food consisted of a small bowl of steamed rice about the size of a tennis ball and about half a pint of vegetable soup, three times per day. About once per fortnight a very small piece of boiled fish or whale meat was provided, but all prisoners suffered from under nourishment. In particular I suffered from severe boils and running ulcers on my legs caused by ill health through lack of food.

(5) Conditions of hygiene and sanitation were suitable for the requirements of prisoners.

(6) Medical supplies were very scarce and medical attention was limited to prisoners who were very ill. Small quantities of medical supplies were provided by the Japanese but I do not know the amount. Compared with the previous camp, prisoners did not suffer as much sickness, as the work was easier and accommodation was better.

(7) On one occasion at the Ordnance Depot Red Cross parcels were received and were issued by the Camp Commandant on the scale of two parcels between eleven men. Prisoners were forced to open all tinned goods for inspection by the Japanese and in order to avoid contamination and deterioration, and also possible theft, most men consumed all the edible supplies immediately and no real value was derived from the issue.

(8) Work at the Ordnance Depot was performed by prisoners in large parties and consisted mainly of leveling ground and laying ballast preparatory to the erection of further large sheds inside the depot and also just outside. As work progressed Japanese army tanks were brought into the depot and stored in completed sheds. Some prisoners were also employed in the erection of the sheds and practically all the work was carried on under the supervision of Japanese army guards, who treated prisoners fairly on most occasions.

(9) On one occasion about mid-January, 1944, one of the guards came into the hut about 6:30 in the morning. It was very cold and John Broome, whose home was at Salford, said "Samwee" meaning "cold". For some reason this made the guard angry and he forced Broome to go outside and threw several buckets of water over him. He then made Broome stand in the open for more than an hour. Afterwards that guard was always known as "Samwee". I witnessed the foregoing and fellow prisoners also present were:-

J. Roberts, 8, Gladstone Street, Eccles.
J. Fowler, 16, Ninth Avenue, Heyes, Middlesex.
W.L.R. Chatfield, 10, Alexandra Road, Uckfield, Sussex.
R. Eastham, Burleigh, Long Lane, Aughton, near Ormskirk, Lancashire.

(10) One morning about January, 1944, I had a sudden attack of diarrhoea and soiled my trousers before I could reach the latrines. Afterwards I washed my trousers but it caused me to be late for the morning roll call before going with the working party and I hid behind the hut door. Katsura, a Japanese civilian interpreter, saw me hiding, and forced me into the camp area where he gave me a severe thrashing about the head and body both with his fists and a bamboo pole, in full view of all the other prisoners.

(11) I was a prisoner at the Ordnance Depot Camp, near Fukuoka for about six months and about April or May, 1944, I was transferred to No. 1 Sub-Camp, Fukuoka. The Ordnance Camp was nearly completed by that time.



Leonard F. Behrens


I, ERIC VESEY, a commission agent, residing at 18, Pensarn Avenue, Fallowfield, Manchester, in the County of Lancaster, make oath and say as follows:-

(1) On 23rd February, 1942, whilst serving as a Gunner No. 1821778 of the 79th Battery, 21st Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery, stationed at Airkrom, Timor, I was taken prisoner by the Japanese.

(2) About April or May, 1944, with other prisoners, I was transferred from the Prisoner of War Camp at the Ordnance Camp near Fukuoka, to the Prisoner of War Camp at No. 1 Sub-Camp, Fukuoka [Mushiroda]. Japanese personnel including the Commandant were also transferred to the same camp.

(3) The camp was situated about a quarter of a mile from Fukuoka Airfield and consisted of four wooden frame huts, with bark sides and straw thatched roofs, each accommodating about 60 prisoners. There were about 200 British and 50 Dutch prisoners, although later 100 American civilian prisoners from Wake Island were added. One American was Warren V. REED, Crane Buildings, Los Angeles, California.

(4) Food consisted of a small bowl of rice about the size of a tennis ball and about half a pint of vegetable soup three times per day. Occasionally, about once per month, fish was supplied on the basis of one fish about the size of a herring for 15 men. To apportion the fish one of the prisoners would cut the fish as equally as possible into 15 portions and cards were cut for the selection of a piece. All the fish was eaten, including the head, except the eyes. Also men frequently ate orange peel thrown away by the guards, and, when on working parties, prisoners often caught grasshoppers, frogs and water snails and roasted them on fires at the airfield. I have eaten all these on many occasions, in addition to condemned food, such as rice, which I stole from the swill bins at the back of the cookhouse. All prisoners suffered from malnutrition and many, including myself, contracted beriberi and diarrhoea as a direct result. At this camp prisoners were issued with a suit of Japanese clothing similar to army type uniform in quality, but, by order of the Japanese Commandant, the suit was worn only on 'Yasmeday', that is, the rest day we were allowed every ten days. On all other occasions the suit had to he placed neatly folded by the prisoner's sleeping place. The suit was of good quality, and was warm to wear, but prisoners refrained from wearing it because the cold weather was felt even more severely when the remains of tropical uniform were again worn on working days.

(5) Accommodation in the huts provided sufficient space for prisoner's needs, but the construction was very poor. The roofs leaked badly in rainy weather, and there were numerous holes in the bark walls, which made the huts very draughty and cold. Representations were made to the Japanese Commandant to remedy these matters but he refused to help.

(6) Eight latrines were provided and consisted of slits in the earth about three feet deep faced with concrete and were situated on the side of a slope. They were insufficient for prisoners' requirements and frequently overflowed, causing urine to flow into the area surrounding the huts. When this happened the British officers in the camp were forced by the Japanese to empty the latrines, and I recollect Major Dempsey of my Unit and Padre Moreton who came from a parish near Belper in Derbyshire, were two officers forced to carry out this work. Facilities for washing in cold water were provided and on most days hot baths were arranged. The bath consisted of a wooden trough capable of holding five men, two side by side at each end and one crosswise in the middle. On most occasions one bath only was provided, but sometimes there were two. At all times, however, the same water had to suffice for all prisoners, and I have frequently bathed in water like mud on which numerous lice floated.

(7) Normally there were no medical supplies available but occasionally a small quantity was provided by the Japanese. In particular Wakomoto tablets were supplied as an antidote to beriberi but we had to buy these tablets with money earned by working. Pay was 10 cents per day which was equivalent to 1-2/5d. and tablets were sold at the rate of a small bottle of 200 tablets for 2 yen. A camp hospital was available for sick prisoners but, owing to the lack of medical supplies, little benefit was derived. Owing to the weak condition induced by under nourishment, and the heavy work performed, many prisoners suffered from hernia. Prisoners affected in this manner were operated on by Japanese doctors at the civilian hospital in Fukuoka, but were returned to the camp hospital on the day following the operation. Prisoners were always transported prone on the back of a lorry and the road surface was very bad, being full of potholes in many places. One prisoner who was treated in this fashion was Percy "Boxer" Pridd of the Royal Artillery who came from London. I suffered continuously from boils, diarrhoea and severe malnutrition, but I did not receive any adequate medical treatment.

(8) During the time I was imprisoned at No. 1 Sub-Camp, Fukuoka, Red Cross parcels were issued on two occasions. Each time prisoners were lined up in the camp area and parcels were distributed at the rate of one parcel for four men. With other prisoners I was forced by the Japanese commandant to open all tinned goods in his presence, the reason for this instruction being that, they might contain forbidden items. This had the same effect, as at the previous camp when similar rules were enforced by the same Commandant. Prisoners quickly ate all the tinned goods within an hour or two of receiving them and no real benefit was derived.

(9) Prisoners were employed in building runways at Fukuoka airfield which was about a quarter of a mile from the camp. The work consisted of digging out the ground, leveling it, and laying rocks and ballast preparatory to concreting. A number of prisoners were also employed unloading ballast from railway trucks on to motor lorries at the Railway Station at Fukuoka. I was usually employed at the railway station with about 30 other prisoners although later the number was reduced to about 20, and prisoners were in the charge of Japanese civilians and army guards. The work at the railway station was very arduous but there were resting periods whilst the lorries were conveying the ballast to the airfield. Working parties at the airfield were each composed of 50 prisoners and were in the charge of Japanese Army guards and civilian charge hands.

(10) Treatment of prisoners by guards and civilians varied considerably with individuals but I recollect the following occasions of ill-treatment:-

On one occasion about August, 1944 I was in the bathroom with other prisoners. I was looking out on to the camp area through a hole in the bark wall when I saw a Japanese guard, whose name I do not remember, knock down Captain Black. The Captain got up and the guard eventually knocked him down 23 times, and did not desist until Colonel Saunders of the 21st L.A.A. Regiment, R.A., sent for the Japanese Commandant. I do not know the reason for the beating but it was witnessed by other men who were with me in the bathroom but whose names I cannot now recall.

One of the Japanese civilians in charge of working parties at the railway station was a man about 23 or 24 years of age named "Sikisan". One day about September, 1944, during the mid-day break at the aerodrome a fellow prisoner named Gavin Marshall was going across to speak to some Koreans who were eating a short distance away. Sikisan saw Marshall and called him back, and also said that I was the instigator. He hit me on the face with his fist and made Marshall and me perform the exercise commonly known as "hands down", that is, to lie at full length face down supporting the weight of the body on the arms. I was made to do this for three quarters of an hour but Sikisan made Marshall continue from 12:15 p.m. until 3:00 p.m. and during that time he had about five breaks of ten minutes each, when be was forced to help with the work of unloading the lorries.

Another Japanese guard was nick-named the "Mad Monk" and on one occasion about October, 1944, he caught me talking to a Korean. He beat me about the face with his fists so badly that he broke my false teeth. I cannot remember if this was witnessed by any other prisoner.

Part of the work performed at the airfield consisted of the wheeling of ballast in a four wheeled truck running on rails. The distance between the loading and unloading points was about 1,000 yards and one day, about August, 1944, one of the trucks became derailed and following trucks were held up. A Japanese guard nicknamed "Samwee" waited along the line until we reached him and said that it had been done purposely in order that we could steal peas growing nearby. Peas had not been stolen by any of the working party on this occasion, but he made all the prisoners concerned, about 30, including myself, stand in a line. He then walked along the back of the line and slashed each prisoner several times with a heavy bamboo stick. I received a very severe blow on the back of one of my legs and it apparently injured a nerve as my leg was paralysed and I could not walk for about 20 minutes.

(11) With other prisoners I was transferred from No. 1 Sub Camp to No. 19 Prisoner of War Camp [Inatsuki #8], Fukuoka during November, 1944.



Leonard F. Behrens

A Japanese writes on the treatment of POWs...
The Intricate Relationship between 'Aggressor' and 'Victim'

How do we treat our enemies? The treatment of foreigners in wartime is often seen as a meter that indicates the maturity of a particular country's awareness of human rights has been developed. Japan, which sincethe establishment of the Meiji government had been involved in a number of foreign conflicts, had developed various policies concerning the treatment of captives. For example, in 1904 after its declaration of war against Russia, Japan stipulated 'Rules Concerning the Treatment of Prisoners'. In addition, Japan both ratified and promulgated the Hague Convention concerning 'Laws and Customs of Land Warfare' on 13 January 1910. The Meiji government, as part of its concern with the pending problem of the amendment of 'unequal' treaties, accepted international law and endeavoured to ensure the 'humane' treatment of captives through international law. Although the discrepancy in the treatment of Asians and Europeans was a problem, both government and army were conscious of international law. It is probably correct to say that the clear change in the position of the Japanese army towards this matter dates from the period of the Japanese invasion of China.

Japan had participated in the signing ceremony on 27 July 1929 of the Geneva Convention Concerning the Treatment of Prisoners of War, but it did not ratify the Convention. At the time of signing, agreement concerning the treaty had not even been reached among the Japanese Privy Council, and the Japanese army had opposed it for the reason that:

while members of the Imperial Army are not expected ever to become prisoners of war, the same cannot necessarily be said of members of foreign forces; accordingly, despite the seemingly mutual nature of the convention in form, the duty of adherence it imposes upon us is entirely one-sided.

Also, the study of international law concerning war was excluded from the curriculum of Japanese military academies. A customary phrase concerning 'respect for international law' was erased from the Imperial proclamation concerning the opening of hostilities. This disregard of the international rules of war by the government and the military was a significant factor in the subsequent mistreatment of internees and captives during the war.

The existence of a 'battlefield code' of not allowing oneself to be taken captive was also significant. Soldiers were not taught of the existence of the Geneva Convention, but they were forced to memorise the 'battlefield code'. Such a mentality encouraged an attitude of contempt among soldiers towards prisoners of war. The difficulties of the paymaster in obtaining food for internees perhaps reflected this deep-seated military antagonism towards their captives. We must also recognise that the social atmosphere in which the enemy was referred to as Kichiku Beiei ('American and British devils') promoted a degeneration in the treatment of internees.

In addition to these problems of attitude within the military, there was also a significant discrepancy between Japan and the Allied States from the very beginning of the establishment of the POW camps and military internment centres, concerning interpretation of the 'application' of the Geneva Convention. The problem of the treatment of captives was not considered to form part of the main work of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs; instead it was passed on to diplomats and bureaucrats who had evacuated back to Japan after the war broke out, and who therefore had no firm position in the bureaucracy.

There is also an evident discrepancy between Japanese and Anglo- American attitudes towards the concept of 'mistreatment'. In the lower ranks of the Japanese army it can be safely said that there were no 'human rights'. In the army, where harsh physical punishment was inflicted on recruits as a matter of course, anything other than complete obedience towards orders was not tolerated from non-commissioned officers and soldiers, let alone from the Korean civilian employees. Beating and strikingof recruits and soldiers was a daily occurrence. Among the soldiers of the Japanese army, to whom cramped transportation, inferior living conditions and poor food and medicinewere routine, such 'mistreatment' of internees may not have come across as such. Lacking awareness of their own human rights, their understanding of the concept of 'mistreatment' must have been hazy at best.

Differences in the perception of laws and rules should also be considered. Within the Japanese military, on-the-spot punishment of transgressors of camp rules and orders without taking matters further (binta), was seen as being too warm-hearted. Many Japanese soldiers were unfamiliar with the processes of a thorough investigation of the transgression, followed by debate over the justification of the action through militarylaw. Korean recruits and the Indonesian 'troop supplements' were also beaten inthe normal course of their 'training'. In this way, junior officers with little or no knowledge of international law, and the Indonesian and Korean employees who had been trained under them, were placed in positions of authority at the military internment centres. Added to this situation was a shared mentality dominated by feelings of Japanese inferiority towards Anglo-American culture and fear regarding the superior physical strength of Caucasians that had been prevalent in Japan since the beginning of the Meiji era. Racistattitudes among the internees themselves also cannot be overlooked. For example, there was apparently no attempt at solidarity between Dutch citizens born in Holland and those born in the colonies, because of a perceived difference in status between them. As has been noted by Pramoedya Ananta Toer, even among the Dutch who had been born in the colonies, those with mixed Dutch and Indonesian blood were looked down upon.

Source: Utsumi, Aiko, Japanese Army Internment Policies for Enemy Civilians During the Asia-Pacific War (Multicultural Japan, Chapter 11), 1996

F. Saunders Affidavit


I, No. 14721 Lt. Col. Martin Dunstan Sedgwick SAUNDERS, Royal Artillery, with address c/o School of Anti-Aircraft Artillery, Manorbier, nr. Tenby make oath and say as follows:-

1. I was taken prisoner by the Japanese in March 1942, and after spending some time in JAVA I was put on board a ship with other PsW to go to JAPAN. We broke our journey at SINGAPORE and we moved to another ship, the Dai Nichi Maru. There were altogether 1300 PsW on board and the voyage was very uncomfortable. We arrived in JAPAN on the 26 November 1942.

From separate report:
(From Java were were taken to Singapore on 21 October 1942 in preparation for being sent to Japan. At Singapore we were then moved to another ship, the DAI NICHI MARU, on board of which we were joined by a further 800 British personnel. On arrival in JAPAN, men in poor condition were left behind at MOJI (Selected by the Japanese) and I later learned that out of 254 men so left, 125 died. At MOJI the original 500 men were split, and I was sent with 23 other officers and 242 other ranks to KUMAMOTO.)

2. We arrived at MOJI where we were all split up and I was sent with 23 other officers and 242 Other Ranks to KUMAMOTO. Practically every man was suffering from scurvey, pellegra and general exhaustion. The day after our arrival at camp the weather turned to snow. Men were in possession of only tropical clothing. The Japanese supplied no warm clothing until March 1943, when the winter was nearly over, with the exception of old Japanese Army greatcoats. By the end of March 31 men had died, and this total was increased to 35 by the 1st May. These deaths were practically all due to poor food, lack of warm clothes, totally inadequate medical supplies and, in some cases, the brutal maltreatment on the part of the Japanese authorities.

3. During our whole period of captivity in JAPAN right up to 25th April '45, we were under the command of the same commandant, a Lt. SAKAMOTO. This officer was an uneducated man of a brutal and callous temperament, and was in no wise fitted for the position of Commandant. He had as his military Interpreter during the whole period, a three star soldier - TAKEO KATSURA. This man not only acted as Interpreter but was the undisputed power behind the throne, who influenced the life at the camp to an overwhelming extent. These two men are, in my opinion, entirely responsible for the cruel suffering and indignities to which the men in their camps were subjected.

4. The camp at KUMAMOTO was known as No. 1 Sub Camp, FUKUOKA Area, and wherever we went after we left KUMAMOTO the camp itself was always called No. 1 Sub Camp, FUKUOKA Area.

5. While we were at KUMAMOTO we were employed in digging trenches round an aerodrome [Kengun Airfield] (NOTE: Presently Japan Land Self-Defense Force base) and making a road. We were not unreasonably hard worked. Our food consisted of rice three times a day. Later in the summer of 1943 we were given potatoes and bread for about six weeks and nearly had enough to eat.

6. Medical arrangements were very bad. The Japanese doctors were callous, brutal and indifferent. Despite the fact that there was a hospital within sight of the camp we were refused permission to have any operations done there. This refusal on the part of the Japanese resulted directly in the death of one of the PsW who died of appendicitis. Also, another PW who had developed frostbite which turned to gangrene was similarly refused entry in the hospital for the purpose of operation. The Japanese even refused to allow the British doctors to carry out the operation in their hospital. This PW died as result of that refusal.

7. While we were at KUMAMOTO 35 men died. Another man who was too sick to work was deliberately forced to go out work all of one day in bitterly cold weather. He had previously been refused admission to the hospital and as a result of his having to go out to work he died. The Japanese method of deciding who was sick enough to remain in barracks for the day as follows:- Everybody was forced to parade in the early morning however sick they might be. They also had to leave the barracks on their way to work. However, once outside the gate, should any man collapse he was permitted to return. It must be emphasised, that however ill a person was and whatever his temperature might he was forced to go on parade and march as far at least as just outside the main gates before he could possibly return to bed in the barracks. This treatment resulted in several men's death. One of the men who died was called Gnr. RUSHTON of the 79th LAA Bty.

8. Accommodation was very poor. The huts, made of thin wood, had leaky roofs and walls patched with newspaper. The damp mud floors were subject to flooding, and fires, for drying purposes were only permitted on very rare occasions. The windows consisted of wooden shutters which were opened in all weathers at 05.00 hrs daily.

9. No special treatment was afforded to the Officers, though after the first month, they were removed to a separate hut, and when spring came were given a garden in which to work. During the summer months there was some slight relaxation of the prison discipline, and health improved although some 25% of the camp was suffering from sepsis. All through captivity the Japanese made stringent to forbid any communication between officers and me. These efforts completely failed.

10. I frequently made complaints about the way we were treated, but it was explained to me that officers and men would be treated exactly alike. Not only were we treated exactly like the men but all of us where treated like the lowest Japanese Privates. On one occasion I was able to complain to the Colonel Commandant, FUKUOKA Area, which did result in a slight improvement.

11. On the 20 November 1943 we moved to KASHI. In this camp accommodation was adequate. All personnel, officers, men, and the hospital were in one large warehouse. This warehouse consisted of concrete walls and floor with a tin roof, and was, in consequence, very cold, noisy, but dry. While we were joined by 40 Dutch, 30 British, 1 American doctor, and 3 American Enlisted men. At this camp, being near Headquarters, discipline was very much tightened up. There were many instances of beatings and brutalities by the Commandant, KATSURA, and a Sgt. HORZUME [Hozumi?]. This Sgt. HORZUME was additional staff and had joined us just before we left KUMAMOTO. He was brutal, sadistic, and bad-tempered and enjoyed beating people up. The following are examples of the treatment we received while we were at KASHI from Sgt. HORZUME and others:-

Two officers were beaten up by Sgt. HORZUME for no reason. The Cook-Sgt., aged 48, was beaten up, his mouth was split open and teeth knocked out, by Sgt. HORZUME for no reason.

One bombardier was knocked senseless by the commandant and the bombardier's face ground into the earth by the Commandant's boot. One man was made to run stark naked round the compound in the depths of a winter night.

In addition, there were numerous instances of single and mass beatings, with the men forced to kneel for long periods with bamboo sticks behind their knees, while Japanese personnel ,notably Sgt. HORZUME and KATSURA beat them savagely with bamboo rods. All officers, who were not in hospital, oblivious of rank or age, were forced to pull a very heavy concrete roller over broken clay soil for seven hours every day for the first three months of winter. This was termed 'voluntary work.'

12. In April 1944 we moved to MISHERODA [Mushiroda]. This camp was the worst of all our camps for accommodation. The huts were made of wooden frames and the supporting walls were made of a tree bark. Roofing was inadequate and thin thatch, which leaked continuously like a sieve, after one real downpour. Drainage was non-existent, and after the rains the huts and camp generally were quagmires. The commandant apologised for the camp, and said that it was merely to be occupied for the summer. In point of fact we did not move until half way through January 1945.

13. Here we were joined by 198 American Civilian Internees from WAKE ISLAND, and 165 Dutch soldiers, mostly natives. Beatings up and brutal treatment were worse than ever, Special ill-treatment was meted out to the Americans, many of whom were old men. Four officers, in particular, were brutally beaten up. This number included two Dutch doctors. The beatings-up were carried out by blows with wooden slippers across the face, and bamboo canes on the upper and lower legs. Two of these beatings were known and approved by the Commandant, and were carried out by the interpreter KATSURA. The Dutch doctor, who was one of the victims and was particularly brutally beaten-up, was interviewed by the Commandant. The Commandant asked him why his face was in such a state, and on being told the reason remarked "that is what happens when you interfere with the Japanese".

Men were tortured in the Japanese barrack rooms by the Japanese guard. The climax was reached when one man was bound by ropes to a telegraph pole and left for eight hours in the sun, by personal order of the Commandant. This man had, undoubtedly, committed an offence, but not one that merited such brutal punishment. This man was Gnr. Marshall of the 79th LAA Bty. 25 men died in this camp, 24 of them between the 26.11.44 and 16.1.45.

14. This camp was supposed to be light-work camp for the summer months. On 1.12.44 several hospital cases and men weak physically, from mining camps in the neighbourhood were moved to our camp to recuperate, while some of our own fir men took their places. The presence of these weak and ill men explain the heavy death-roll in the two month mentioned above. Responsibility for these deaths must lie with the higher authorities who ordered the move, but the callous and indifferent attitude adopted by our commandant, Lt. SAKAMOTO, materially contributed to these deaths. As a final case, one physically weak Dutchman while on working-party was beaten by the guard so severely that he died two days later.

15. On 18 Jan 1945 we moved to NAZIMA [Najima, though actually Hakozaki site] 4 miles away. The move to this camp took place in a heavy and continuous blizzard of snow. All men who though sick were able to stand, were refused conveyance, and forced to make the march on foot. Several were eventually carried into the new camp by their comrades. Within a week of arrival at the new camp, six men had died. Of all our camps in JAPAN, this was by far the best for accommodation and lay-out, but it was largely uncompleted on our arrival. Here, at the end of January, we were joined by 193 American officers and Enlisted men direct from the PHILIPPINE ISLANDS. They were literally walking skeletons, and 53 died between 31.1.45 and 25.4.45. In addition, between 22.1.45 and 13.4.45 there were 22 deaths amongst the original camp personnel. Many of these deaths were due to lack of medical attention and supplies. In some cases, prescriptions made out by the Japanese doctor were deliberately held back by the Japanese medical orderlies and eventually given to our doctors too late.

16. The following are the descriptions of Lt. SAKAMOTO, Interpreter KATSURA and Sgt. HORZUME, whom I consider responsible for the maltreatment which we suffered while PsW.

SAKAMOTO was an ex-Sgt. Maj. who had been newly promoted Subaltern in Christmas 1942 and had been in many Chinese campaigns. He was a fine athlete and a good swordsman. He was slim, clean-shaven, about 40 years old. 5'7" in height.

KATSURA was revoltingly fat; he weighed about 12 st; 5'6" or 5'7" in height; clean shaven; spoke fluent American; he had been to America for about 15 years before the war. Riddled with VD. His addresses were either: (a) Imperial Hotel, KOBE, or (b) 23. Asa-Asani, Mikata-Son, Oshima-Gun, Kagoshima-Ken, Japan.

HORZUME was about 5'9" in height; very thick set; strongly built; clean-shaven; about 12 st. in weight. Reputed to be a fine wrestler and Judo-expert. Looking cunning, and had particularly narrow slit eyes, even for a Japanese.

17. With the regard to Red Cross supplies, these on arrival in any of our camps were, with one exception, kept back for several days by our Commandant. He steadfastly refused to permit me any latitude in their distribution. Boots and clothing were kept in the Japanese stores. Large numbers of these were never issued, even when some men were entirely without boots or adequate clothing. Red Cross medical supplies were only issued in minute quantities. At NAZIMA [Najima] camp with the particularly sick American from the PHILIPPINE ISLANDS, 10 cases of medical supplies which reached the camp a few days before their arrival, were never issued. The Commandant refused all applications to do so. At the Main Red Cross store in FUKUOKA, there were literally hundreds of cases of medical stores which were never issued to PW camps (of which there were 23 in the FUKUOKA area). This can be testified by the American doctor, Capt. W. KOSTECKI ; by some of my own officers; and by a party of five men whose permanent daily work was the care and packing of all Red Cross Stores in the main warehouse. Finally despite numerous requests and protests by me, no Dental treatment was permitted by the Commandant from the time of our arrival in JAPAN until NAZIMA [Najima] camp, over two years.

18. With regard to mail, the censoring and distribution of letters was organized at PW HQ in FUKUOKA. The number of letters censored daily and distributed, depended entirely on the whim of the Japanese civilian censors. Several of our own officers worked for many months in the HQ offices, sorting thousands of letters for the 23 camps in the area. There were four civilian censors, and on many days their combined output of work amounted to some 50 letters. This indifference by the Japanese censors caused great mental strain for everyone, and, in addition to the main Camp Commandant at FUKUOKA, who must take the responsibility, the main culprit was the Chief Censor, Mr. WATANABE who was quite unspeakably idle and lazy.

19. On 25 April 1945 I and nine other British officers together with 140 Americans, all survivors from the PHILIPPINE ISLANDS were moved to JINSEN camp KOREA. We left behind 17 Officers and about 700 men.

SWORN by the above-named
Martin Dunstan SAUNDERS
at 6, Spring-Gardens in the city of Westminster
this 13th day of March 1946


Legal Staff
Judge Advocate General's Office, LONDON.


The period of captivity falls naturally into four parts:-

(1) JAVA

The following Report is forwarded by me as the Senior British Officer in each of the camps. Personnel were always changing, and at one time, British, Australian and Dutch were all mixed together.

The following are some general points not mentioned in the main Report.

(1) The well-known Japanese dictum that to be taken a P.O.W. was a disgraceful act, and that suicide was the correct alternative, was the major influence on the treatment meted out to us. Our Camp Commandant on several occasions made that very plain to me. Also at one camp, after evening roll-call on the anniversary of our arrival in Japan, the Senior Japanese N.C.O. made us all a speech in which he emphasized that he considered us cowards, and that any treatment was good enough for us.

All through captivity, until our arrival in JINSEN [near Inchon, Korea] there was practically no differentiation in treatment between officers and other ranks. "Lip service" was paid to the fact that Batmen were permitted, but these men were only allowed to clear up after meals. All menial work about the officers' Hut was done by officers. A share of the dirtiest camp fatigues was frequently allotted to the officers, and no consideration was shown for age or rank.

Such fatigues as emptying excreta and urine pits, shovelling coal, carrying rice sacks, etc, were constantly given to the officers. As a direct result from these fatigues two officers developed hernia.

(2) Food throughout was short. The actual bulk ration of rice was sometimes more than given to the Japanese soldiers. Essential foods such as oils, fat, and sugar disappeared entirely after the first year, although up to the end Japanese soldiers received their full rations.

(3) Although, unlike some camps, the officers were not required to take down their badges of rank, they were compelled to salute, at all times, all Japanese soldiers, down to the latest joined recruit.

(4) Medical treatment throughout the 3 years was, in effect, non-existent. Drugs etc, known to be in the camp, were never issued. Fatal results occurred due to this disgraceful treatment, particularly in the early days of captivity.

(5) No camp to which we were moved was ever ready for occupation. Consequently, for the first two months in each camp, life was even more uncomfortable than it subsequently became.

(6) Beatings-up and hitting were given out to all, from the Senior Officer, i.e. myself, down to the private soldier. These beatings-up appear to me, on looking back, to have been calculated deliberately, since they took place at studied intervals of time. They were obviously "to keep us down".

(7) Finally I wish to put on record that despite all their greatest efforts, the Japanese failed to quench the general spirit of optimism which always prevailed amongst us.

(8) Red Cross Supplies

Those, on arrival in any of our camps were, with one exception, kept back for several days by our Commandant. He steadfastly refused to permit me any latitude in their distribution. Boots and clothing were kept in the Japanese stores. Large numbers of these were never issued, even when some men were entirely without boots or adequate clothing. Red Cross Medical supplies were only issued in minute quantities. At NAZIMA Camp, with the particularly sick Americans from the P.I., 10 cases of medical supplies which reached the camp a few days before their arrival were never issued. The Commandant refused all applications to do so. At the main Red Cross Store in FUKUOKA, there were literally hundreds of cases of medical stores which were never issued to P.O.W. Camps. (Of which there were 23 in the Fukuoka area). This can be testified to by the American Doctor, Capt. W. Kostecki; by some of my own officers; and by a party of five men whose permanent daily work was the care and packing of all Red Cross Stores in the main warehouse.

Finally, despite numerous requests and protests by me, no Dental treatment was permitted by the Commandant from the time of our arrival in Japan, until NAZIMA camp - over two years.


The censoring and distribution of letters was organized at P.O.W. H.Q. in FUKUOKA. The number of letters censored daily and distributed depended entirely on the whim of the Japanese Civilian censors. Several of our own Officers worked for many months in the H.Q. Offices, sorting thousands of letters for the 25 Camps in the area. There were four civilian Censors, and on many days their combined output of work amounted to some 50 letters. Our Officers know that many letters which they have sorted, and which had been censored as far back as March 1945, have never yet been sent out. (Present date September 1945.)

This indifference by the Japanese Censors caused a great mental strain to everyone, and, in addition to the Main Camp Commandant at FUKUOKA, who must take the responsibility, the main culprit was the Chief Censor, MR WATANABE, who was quite unspeakably idle and lazy.

See full report by Saunders in PDF format.

On being captured...
The Americans and Japanese had very different concepts about the idea of becoming a prisoner. To us, it was the most humiliating thing that could happen. We were educated to never allow ourselves to fall into the hands of the enemy. It wasn't out of fear or what they would do to us, it was the shame that our families would bear if it were learned that we were POWs that forced the Japanese military and civilians to throw themselves off of cliffs and blow themselves up with hand grenades to avoid capture. I know this is very difficult for westerners to understand, but shame plays a significant role in this society.

This is why we thought so little of the POWs we had taken on Wake. These men had allowed themselves to become captives and were not worthy of honor. They surely must feel to ashamed to ever return to their families. The Americans were under the impression that they had done their best and had been ordered to surrender. This is why the compound was so lively. Men were joking, laughing, talking in loud voices, and generally not acting like POWs at all. Did they know no shame?

From Wake Island In Sight by Shigeyoshi Ozeki (Translated by Daniel King)
Wake Island photos

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