POW Camp #6-B
# 6B - Omine (Sanyo)
SANYO (UBE KYOGYO)
Omine-machi, Yamaguchi-ken (Prefecture)
CAUTION: Frequently confused with Omine, Fukuoka #5, on the island of Kyushu
Aerial (Oct. 1947; courtesy of Japan Map Archives)
26 Nov 1942: Established as YAHATA Provisional POW CAMP UBE Branch Camp SANYO Detached Camp
1 Jan 1943: Renamed FUKUOKA POW CAMP UBE Branch Camp SANYO Detached Camp
1 Mar 1943: Renamed Fukuoka 6-B (Omine) [caution- this is NOT Fukuoka #6-B Mizumaki]
1 Dec 1943: Renamed Fukuoka 1-D
14 Apr 1945: Jurisdictional control transferred to Hiroshima POW Camp 4-D
Unk Date: Officers removed and sent to Sapporo Jail; returned after the surrender
Aug 1945: Renamed Hiroshima 6-B
15 Sep 1945: Rescue effected
The Camp was located at 34.11'N-131.12'E and was described as follows: "Camp is located on a hillside in the Onoda Coal Mine area, NE of Ube. POW housed in two-storied wooden buildings."
Red Cross Report:
C.A. Kengelbacher report of April 13th, 1943 on camp conditions. Notes Swiss have not been contacted nor able to speak to POWS. Report submitted by Mr. C.A. Kanglebacher, a known sympathizer to the Japanese. During his visit of 13 April 1943, he did NOT meet with any of the prisoners nor their representatives.
This camp was a slave labor camp for Sanyo Corporation using a coal mine declared unsafe before the war.
Narrative as supplied by British historian Stephen Hagen.
British (Boei Glodok Prison, Java) ex Dai-Nichi Maru ex Yoshida Maru; Americans on the Canadian Inventor; at least two American (2) medics on the Kenwa Maru. Those on the Canadian Inventor endured 62 days en route to Japan.
These men (incomplete roster) were known to have been at the Ashio camp.
Americans: erroneously and earlier posted as Fukuoka #5; includes the deceased.
British: (Rescue roster)
XLS- Spreadsheet contains additional information
Original British and American roster
Roster Aug. 15, 1945 (RG 389 Box 2070)
Death lists for Hiroshima camps
Rosters for all Hiroshima camps
Men who were at this camp:
Boyd, Herbert Lee - Corporal, 19th Bomb Group, 93rd Bomb Squadron. Short narrative of his experience from Death March to Omine.
Turner, Gerald "Bud" - American, 4th Marines, Service Co.
Rogers, Leonard - see drawings below.
Steele, Benjamin - Well known for his many drawings on his experiences; see link. He is featured in the book, "Tears in the Darkness" and the film, "Never the Same" (and possible future film by same producer).
Link to Taiwan POW Society News - Former POWs Revisit Omine Camp
Hauser family pictures of camp: Excellent pictures on the Proviso High School POW Research site
Japanese postcard showing mining area (1877)
More pictures- Japanese website
Photos courtesy of Fran de Groen:
"In this image, my father (Sgt Geoffrey de Groen, Pay Corps attached to 2/19Bn) is second from the left (with the moustache). I do not know the identity of the other men (some are clearly US Military Police - were these the ones called 'Bulls'?). Neither do I know where the photograph was taken. The POWs in Omine were taken to Nagasaki when the recovery teams finally found them. I suspect that this shot was probably taken in Nagasaki because of the MPs."HIR-06_OmineCampStuff
Bill MacWhriter (ex-Omine POW) mailed these three items to me:
1. Chopsticks - used to eat food at Omine Camp (every POW had them).
2. Block of wood - the POWs had to carry these around with them at all times. If the Japanese guards found you without your block of wood, you would face the consequences (a beating).
3. Metal Tag - the men had to pin this to their uniforms when they were down in the mine.
Material courtesy of Terry Smyth (see his Facebook page of 2010 trip to Omine camp site)
"My father was a gunner in the British 48th Light Anti Aircraft Regiment during WW2, for the most part of which he found himself undertaking slave labour in a Japanese coalmine... While in the camp, he made friends with three American servicemen: William F. Cowley, Russell W. Gerleman, and Leonard L. Rogers... On their last day of captivity, Leonard L. Rogers gave my father two drawings which I have treasured ever since. All three of his US friends wrote messages on the back of the drawing." ---Terry Smyth
Memorial plaques at Omine site (English and Japanese) (Japanese PDF)
LEONARD ROGERS’ DRAWINGS PRESENTED TO
EDWIN SMYTH AT THE END OF THE WAR
Drawn especially for Smyth, who is my British artist colleague here at the hospital in Fukuoka -- It’s nearing sailing time for home and I present this with best wishes and compliments as a memoir of our prison life in Japan.
L. L. Rogers
Sketched at Fukuoka Prison Camp, Sept 1, 1945.
The ARTIST FROM ESSEX
He left his signwriting business at Clacton-on-Sea Sept. 1939 for duty to his mother country.
Served in England, Sumatra, and Java where he was captured by Japs -- in March 4, 1942
Come’n get me -- ya rats!
The Coal Mine
He was sent to Japan the province of Fukuoka on Island of Honshu. He worked for a time at mining coal but came down with dysentery and his ability as a sign painter landed him a special duty job in the prison camp.
[Later, my father added the following words to the drawing: ‘6 weeks only. Back to mine’.]
But now that it’s over Edwin is anxious to get back to his business and his lovely wife and take life easy -- and to play the xylophone, piano and accordion for his own amusement!!
[The very accurate profile portrait is captioned:]
E. C. G. Smyth
95th Battery, L.A.A. 48th
Regiment – Royal Artillery.
L. L. Rogers, U.S. Marines.
May we continue our friendship via post in the future. I appreciated your cultural conversations very well turned brush work. “Thumbs up”, in all of your future endeavors.
Russell W. Gerleman
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.
Leonard L. Rogers
Be sure to send some little souvenir of merry old England, your business, or picture of the lovely wife and yourself.
William F. Cowley
Pawtucket, Rhode Island
Scene in back area of camp – typical native hut and rice paddies
---- Inside looking Out ----
Presented to Ed. Smyth, Sept 3 1945 -- 8.00A.M. (Japan Time)
First day of Occupation (officially) by Ally Troops.
We threw out the nip guards and Major Busby
took over the Jap Commandants desk at
Hdqrtrs. -- Pleasant Voyage Home.