Fukuoka #3
Gibbs Report

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Caution: The Gibbs reports were prepared post-war based upon assorted prisoner affidavits and, apparently, on the reports of the International Red Cross representatives in Japan who were notorious for their bias in favor of the Japanese. In this report, we have added annotations from a POW, Sgt. Terence S. Kirk, USMC, who kept a diary and pictures within the camp. Based upon other affidavits at NARA, Kirk's [in red] observations are extremely accurate!

By John M. Gibbs, 31 July 1946



Fukuoka Camp #3 was first located in a suburban section of the city YAWATA, known as Yauhea, on the Island of Kyushu. Yawata was one of Japan's major steel producing areas, and the camp there was first occupied by American civilians in September, 1942 [23 Sep 1942], who were captured by the Japanese on Wake Island. [and North China Marines] Later in that year the American personnel at this camp was supplemented by prisoners of other nationalities, mainly British and Australian captured at Singapore.

[Kirk: Fukuoka #3 was in the city of Yawata. It was a huge concrete building about 5 stories and set into the side of a mountain. There is a drawing in my book The Secret Camera of the building, I call it the citadel. To go to work in the factory below us we had to walk down a steep hill through the city and climb back up every day, no trucks. In November 1942, 36 Marines were sent there from Woosung.
We were were fed pretty good at first, about 750 calories.
[Note: 3500 calories per day is necessary to retain weight when doing manual labor] Then we were stupid enough to let the Japs talk us into a foot race. We beat the hell out of them and as a result they reduced our rations to 500 calories]

A large steam electric plant was located within 500 yards of the camp installation, and surrounding it were steel mills and steel rolling mills, all producing Japanese war essentials, and relying, substantially, on prisoner labor to operate them.

[Kirk: There were no steel mills or rolling mills near that power plant , they were a half hour ride away, by train to Yawata, that is where we worked.]

To protect the prisoner personnel, as far as possible, from anticipated bombing raids, a new camp was erected in a suburb of Tobata about 300 yards from the bay, just west of the city. Tobata is located at the north central tip of the island about 6 miles from Yawata in a northeasterly direction, and its coordinates are 33º56'N. 130º49'E. The terrain at Tobata was flat. The tallest mountain in that area bounded the camp area on the north. Travel time from camp to the Yawata plants was about 30 minutes. The prisoners of war continued to work in the Yawata plants throughout the war and were transported [to and from] the new camp in open flat cars even during the bitterly cold winter weather. As a result of the exposure many of the prisoners contracted pneumonia and more than a few deaths among them resulted.

[Kirk: Those were not flat cars, they were (open) gondola cars]

About 500 yards from the new camp at Tobata was an enormous power plant standing at an elevation of 300 feet. The furnaces were equipped with 6 smokestacks about 100 feet high from base. Steam turbines furnished power to the most of the plant. It evidently served as a landmark for American bombers because it was not bombed and remained undamaged to the war's end.

There was no distinguishing mark to denote that the new installation was a prisoner of war camp. In order to identify it as housing prisoners of war, the senior American officer requested the Japanese camp commandant to, at least, label the hospital with a red cross which request was curtly denied.


The total prisoner personnel was approximately 1,200 of which 500 were Americans. This figure included 75 civilians taken on Wake Island and 45 Marine and 30 Navy personnel. The remaining American personnel belonged to the Army. Prisoners of nationalities other than American were, English 130; Australians 3; Indians 150; Javanese & Dutch 325 and 20 Chinese. The remaining 72 were Arabian, Malayan and Portuguese.

Col. Ovid W. Wilson, was the Senior American Officer. Lt. Col. Paul D. Philipps, the Adjutant for the American officer group, and Lt. Col. William Dorris, the permanent camp commander of the enlisted men.

The Japanese camp officials were:
Maj. Yaichi Rikitake, Commander, crafty and cruel.
Lt. Hata, camp doctor, non-cooperative, cruel.
Lt. Ogomi, camp doctor.

Cadet officer, Murada, camp doctor.
Sgt. Major, Kita.
Sgt. Kawasaki, pay roll and commissary.
Cpl. Nagakura, stores and clothing.
Private Fukuda, medical orderly, inconsiderate, cruel.
Mr. Manins, civilian guard, cruel.
Mr. Osano, civilian interpreter, non-cooperative, indifferent.


(a) Housing Facilities:
Inasmuch as the camp remained at Yawata for a relatively short period, a description of the housing facilities is omitted. Therefore the following is a description of the camp buildings at Tobata: Ten barracks of very light frame construction, capacity 150 men each, surrounded by a wood fence, comprised the housing facilities. Each building had 2 decks running the length of both sides, making a row of upper and lower bays to a side, the lower tier about 6[inches] off the floor, top tier about 6 [feet] off the floor reached by ladders, into which were fitted typical Japanese mats for sleeping. There was a shelf located at the head of each bay where the prisoners could place their accessories. The floors were of concrete, the roof of a Japanese type of tile. There was no artificial heat except that generated by small round stoves standing on legs about 3-1/2 feet high, over-all, charcoal burner type. Coal furnished for fuel was of inferior quality and was inadequate in quantity.

[Kirk: Mr.Gibbs was never in that prison camp because we never had a round stove to keep warm or any stoves of any kind. That was all. Through out the war, we didn't thaw out until we got back to civilization.
The only fire we had in those barracks was one Christmas day. The Jap colonel pulled a prank on us he knew exactly what he was doing. He passed out enough kindling to fill the three charcoal pits in each of the barracks and had a Jap soldier go around to each barracks and light the kindling. It didn't take more than a few minutes and everyone was outside gasping for air. The worse part of the joke on us we had to open all the windows to clear out the smoke along with it went the body heat. After that it took hours to replace the body heat which kept the inside temperature about fifteen to twenty degrees higher than the outside.]

Fires were not maintained during the night. Even with fire in the stove during the day from 5:00 to 8:00 P.M., the barracks were continually cold. All buildings were electrically lighted, in addition there were special blackout lights, as well as blackout curtains for air raids. Windows (2 per bay both upper and lower) were of multi-glass sliding type.

The hospital, classed as a good building for this type of camp, had steam pipes installed, but heat was turned on only part of the night during the winter. This building was continually overcrowded and undermanned. A second hospital had been erected, however, the use of the facility was denied the prisoners, and it remained unoccupied until Oct. 1944. The patients were bedded in bunks equipped with straw mats. The original hospital, according to American standards, would normally have accommodated from 50 to 60 patients as against 120 patients of occupancy. Ambulatory patients were compelled to wear heavy overcoats during the day to keep reasonably warm. The rear of each barracks contained a wash room equipped with concrete sinks and contaminated running cold water. The men were warned against drinking this water.

[Kirk: Steam heat in the hospital? This is news to me. The Japs told us one day, when a man by the name of Conrad was found dead in his bed that, "nobody dies in the barracks, you must go to the hospital to die." Steam heat is the last thing to have in the hospital is they wanted us to go there to die. Only sick patients were allowed to lay down on their bed and cover themselves with a blanket with a doctor's permission.]

(b) Latrines: In each of the barracks, and to the rear in a separate room, were located a cement urinal and 4 sinks with cold running water. Soap was always inadequate. The latrines, merely 6 wood stalls which afforded semi privacy, were in a separate room and were of usual oriental squatting type. The large tank underneath, which often ran over, was neglected although supposed to be emptied periodically by Japanese laborers.

[Kirk: Dipping the honey out of the outhouses was reserved strictly for the officers to take care of the flowers.]

During the spring and summer seasons the sick prisoners were compelled to dip out these tanks and pour the contents on the camp gardens between the barracks. A foul odor always permeated the camp.

(c) Bathing: There was a separate building for hot water bathing. It was equipped with two large cement tanks approximately 10 feet square and 3 feet deep. Before getting into the tanks the prisoners were required to dip enough water out of the tanks to take a cleansing preliminary bath before soaking out in the tanks.

[Kirk: Nobody did anything to rinse themselves off before getting into the tubs but hang up their towels and get right in the water that must have been 211 degrees and the water smelled and looked like ten thousand people had bathed in it. It was almost like gravy and smelled like sulphur. As I remember, the bath was available all year around.]

During the winter months the prisoners were allowed to use the hot water baths daily. After bathing they immediately went to bed under their blankets in an effort to store up heat against several hours ahead in a cold building. During the summer months they were allowed to bathe every second day.

(d) Mess Hall: This was a large building of wood construction. containing ample rice pots, also tanks for making tea, all steam operated. The floor of the mess hall was of concrete. Each barracks appointed representatives to draw food from the kitchen and take it to the barracks in buckets to be served. The American prisoners did the cooking under the supervision of Japanese mess sergeants.

[Kirk: We never had a mess hall. That was a galley where the millet and daikon (a Jap radish) soup was prepared. Mr. Gibbs said the food was good, I believe he was talking about some other camp. From 1943 to the end of the war we were fed nothing but millet and white radish soup. There two memorable exceptions: first, the Jap galley sergeant found a barrel of rotten whale meat on the dock in Moji that stunk up the camp but it was meat so we held our noses and ate it. The second was fish. They cooked it early in the morning and let it set in the sun all day. When we got back to camp the fish were all crawling with maggots. Some of the men ate maggots and all. I couldn't bring myself to do that, I scraped off the maggots first.
Our food consisted of a small bowl of millet and a bowl of dikon soup for breakfast and supper. Our noon meal was a small bento box with millet. Once in a great while we would find some small pieces of bean cake floating around in our soup. Near the end of the war our noon meal changed to a small hamburger bun. That was it. There were no Red Cross packages or Red Cross food at any time in Fukuoka #3, There was no flour, milk or sugar. There was no Red Cross meat. If there were, the Japs ate it and that goes for the rest of the food if there ever was any.]

(e) Food: The daily ration consisted of about 550 grams of mixed and steamed grain such as rice, barley, maize and red beans, and soup. The soup usually was fairly good. It contained vegetable tops, and frequently carrots, dried fish, bean curd, flour and a type of Japanese radish. In general the food was good except very short in protein and fats. The quantity was insufficient, consequently the men were hungry all the time and gradually became more and more gaunt. They were driven by hunger to stealing and eating anything that ever had any relation to food, such as garbage and other refuse. Because of insufficient food, the majority of the hospital patients were suffering from beriberi, amoebic dysentery and tuberculosis, as the result of malnutrition. Flour was given to the prisoners from time to time with which they baked bread and noodles. Sugar issue was fair. During Feb. 1945 all milk furnished by the Red Cross was given to the hospital patients. There was general complaint concerning the lack of salt. Whenever Red Cross canned meat was issued it was mixed and served with rice. Small amounts of Red Cross food was issued occasionally totaling about 1 '/z boxes per man during a 3-months period. The Japanese retained for themselves the rest of the Red Cross supplies.

(f) Medical Facilities: The Japanese medical officer was Lt. Hata who was later replaced by Lt. Ogomi who in turn was replaced by Cadet Officer Murada. Capt.. Vetales V. Anderson, M.C. & Capt. William A. Blueher, M.C. aided by other doctors brought from the Philippines, administered treatment to the sick prisoners as fully as equipment and medical supplies permitted. The Japanese furnished some adulterated medicines, about 5 types, none of which were vital drugs, except Glucose and sulfa drugs. It was common knowledge to the prisoners that the Japanese had Red Cross medical supplies, both medicines and surgical instruments, in the camp at all times which they refused to allow to be used until after the surrender.

There were a number of deaths from pneumonia because of withheld medicines and oxygen. Although repeatedly requested by the prisoner doctors, the Japanese maintained that oxygen could not be obtained, yet as soon as the war ended, oxygen was made available. One example is given as follows: After a bombing raid in Aug. 1945, two American doctors performed an arm amputation with a hack saw, two old scalpels and few hemostats, although there was a complete chest of Red Cross surgical equipment unopened in the camp. The Japanese themselves made free use of Red Cross food, clothing and medicine. Dr. Hata was outstanding in this abuse. He was personally responsible because of these actions for the death of quite a few prisoners. Some of the doctors brought surgical instruments with them from the Philippines. Other instruments were made by the medical force in camp.

(g) Supplies:
You can erase this entire description as we had none of that stuff. If there was any medical equipment in that camp at all, the Japs stole it all when the war ended. We didn't have anything to help the sick and dying until the food drops from the B29s. Mr Gibbs' rendition of Fukuoka makes the Japs appear to be decent people. That camp sounds like a country club with the passing out of all that Red Cross food. He was talking about some other camp. The Japs were their true selves in our camp. No good bastards.]

(1) Red Cross. YMCA. other Relief; As stated in the preceding paragraph it was known that Red Cross supplies, such as food, clothing, medicines and surgical instruments were in the camp and that the Japanese would not release them. On Christmas day, 1944 the prisoners were issued a full meal of Red Cross food and a good portion of regular Japanese rations, and thereafter for a few weeks, small daily portions of Red Cross food. After 1 May 1945 no shipments of Red Cross supplies were received. Three shipments of books by the YMCA were received after 1 May 1945.
(2) Japanese issue: Overcoats were issued to the prisoners. Few men had a change of clothing. They were shod in worn out foot apparel or canvas sneakers. Most of the men had no underwear. Each prisoner was issued six wool blankets. Cigarettes were issued weekly through the commissary, 10 to officers and 30 to enlisted men. Later the Japanese issued to the prisoners, 1 pair of shoes, 1 very light weight Japanese uniform and 1 suit of underwear. The prisoners were able to buy oranges, tangerines and cigarettes at the commissary.

(h) Mail:

(1) Incoming: None was received by those that arrived in the Jan. 1945 detail of 97 officers and 3 Navy enlisted men. Several hundred letters (dated a year or more previously) were distributed to the permanent personnel. Some news of the war's progress trickled in through underground channels.

(2) Outgoing: The officers in Jan. 1945 were allowed personally to send 1 radiogram. All prisoners also were allowed to send one 40-word radiogram for each 30 men. A card or letter of no more than 50 words could be sent once every several months.

(i) Work: The Japanese medical authorities determined which patients were able to work and their only acceptance of illness was fever. Any patient was required to work who registered fever under 102 so long as his debility was not too severe to permit him to move around. Officers were not compelled to perform manual labor, however, doctors and interpreters were compelled to practice their respective professions. The directing camp officials employed a coercive measure to induce the able bodied officers to volunteer to work - namely - refusal meant a decrease in the already inadequate ration, and when they did work and draw full Japanese rations, many who were then too weak to work continued to suffer a cut in their basic ration. The working day was 9 to 10 hours, and types of work were: stevedores, mechanics and machinists. Considering the physical condition of the men, and their ration, they endured cruel hardships. The working prisoners were classified as "outside (factory) workers," "inside workers (those working in the camp", "sick in quarters," and "hospital". Outside workers received a substantially larger ration than the others. Some of the prisoners were kept busy many months building air raid shelters, however, when raids came over, very few prisoners were allowed in them. The mental strain on the prisoners knowing that the raids were coming, and having no adequate shelter, cannot be described.

(j) Treatment:
Upon the slightest provocation both the officers and the enlisted prisoners were beaten by the guards with clubs and fists. The prisoners were further tormented by lice, fleas and bedbugs. Clothing was filled with lice which could not be eradicated except by boiling the garments. This privilege was denied. The treatment was consistently inhuman.

(k) Pay:

(1) Officers were paid 50 yen per month and were permitted to spend about 10 yen of it in commissary purchases.
(2) Enlisted men were paid when they worked. Generally they were given from 10 to 50 sen a day.

(I) Recreation: Those physically able to work were not particularly concerned about recreation because there was little time left after working hours. Also they were completely exhausted after each days work. However the prisoners usually were given 2 or 3 holidays per month. A small library was installed with books donated by the YMCA. These were printed in English principally, but a few of them were in Dutch and other languages. There were no movies or athletic facilities and very few vegetable gardens. Smoking was permitted at certain hours when a courier from headquarters would carry the "official light" from building to building. Matches and other fire making articles were strictly forbidden. An orchestra of 5 pieces played occasionally in the evening during warm months.

(m) Religious Activities: The prisoners were not allowed to have orthodox religious services except upon the occasion of a burial, when the chaplain prisoners were allowed to perform brief ceremonies.

(n) Morale: Fair
(o) Movements: 97 officers and 3 Navy medical corpsmen were on the Japanese ship ORYOKA MARU which was bombarded while in Subic Bay, the Philippines. They were rescued and taken to Takao, Formosa on a leg of their journey to Fukuoka Camp #3, leaving this camp in April 1945 for Hoten Camp #1 in Manchuria. Of the 103 officers and corpsmen, 24 of the officers died in Camp #3, mainly from dysentery, beriberi and pneumonia superinduced and aggravated by malnutrition and gross neglect suffered while aboard ship from Takao to Moji. Of this group of prisoners only 71 officers including the 3 corpsmen were able to move on to Manchuria. Five of this officer group were too weak to be moved. This detail joined another detail of approximately 500 American prisoners from other camps in the Fukuoka area [on] 24 April 1945. When the prisoners reached Korea the group was divided, 264 of them remained in Korea, 236 moved to the Hoten #1, Mukden, from which place they and other prisoners were liberated on 16 Oct. 1945. Fukuoka Camp #3 was liberated on 13 Sept. 1945.

All of the buildings in this camp were adequate. The facilities, if allowed to be used, also would have contributed greatly to the comfort and health of the men, referring particularly to heating equipment. The food from the standpoint of quality, would have been acceptable. Tubs for bathing and hot water were plentiful and were made use of daily during the winter months.
The perverse Japanese officers however, would not keep steam heat on the hospital long enough each day to do much good. Fires in the barracks stoves were only allowed from 5:00 to 8:00 P.M. These deprivations plus such brutalities as:
(a) Withholding medicines and surgical instruments.
(b) Severe beatings with fists and clubs.
(c) Compelling men to work who were too weak to stand any physical strain.
(d) Scarcity of food causing slow starvation.
(e) Disallowing distribution of Red Cross food and other supplies but pilfering them for their own use, leaves only the conclusion that the camp could not be rated otherwise than VERY POOR.