Source: McMurria affidavit;
RG 331 Box 943 Rabaul Reports; NARA #7 IMG_0029 et al
For the Chief, War Crimes Branch
Civil Affairs Division - War Department
United States of American
Perpetuation of Testimony
of Former 1st Lieut. James A. McMurria, O-373644
In the matter of the POW Camp operated by the 6th
Field Kempai Tai Headquarters in
Rabaul, New Britain - Tunnel Hill POW Camp
Taken At: Columbus, Georgia
Date: 21 July 1948
In the Presence of: George B. Hammer, Special Agent, CIC, Hqs.
Third Army, Fort McPherson, Georgia
Reporter: George B. Hammer, Special Agent, CIC, Hqs. Third
Army, Fort McPherson, Georgia
Questions By: George B. Hammer, Special Agent, CIC, Hqs.
Third Army, Fort McPherson, Georgia
Q. State your name, former
rank and serial number and your present permanent home address.
A. James A. McMurria, former
First Lieutenant, ASN O-372644, Fifth Air Force. My permanent
home address is 586 Overlook Drive, Columbus Georgia.
Q. Mr. McMurria, this
is the third time that we have interrogated you relative to your
being a Prisoner of War of the Japanese during the war. We have
recently been requested by the Chief, War Crimes Branch, Civil
Affairs Division, War Department Special Staff, Washington, D.C.,
to again contact you and ask you specific questions relative
to your confinement at the Tunnel Hill Prisoner of War Camp at
Rabaul, New Britain and the personnel of the 6th Field Kempai
Tai Headquarters that were responsible for the operation of this
camp. We have (8) photographs of former personnel of the 6th
Field Kempai Tai Headquarter ]not in file] which we will show
you later and you will be asked to identify them. However, before
asking you specific questions and showing you these photographs,
will you please give general information relative to your being
a Prisoner of War? Please begin from the point of your being
shot down over Wewak and continue until you were liberated.
A. On 20 January 1943, I
was the pilot of a B-24, carrying a 10 man crew. We had as our
mission that of bombing Wewak, New Guinea. During the raid, our
plane was badly damaged by anti-aircraft fire and enemy fighter
planes, resulting in a crash at sea. Two member of my crew were
killed during the crash [not identified]. The remaining eight
(8) member of my crew and I washed ashore on a small Island,
name unknown, approximately sixty (60) miles from Wewak. We stayed
on this Island for approximately a month before we embarked with
natives in small boats for the mainland of New Guinea. We finally
landed on New Guinea near the mouth of the Sepic River on or
about 25 February 1943, where we were immediately captured by
Japanese soldiers. Upon being captured by the Japanese soldiers,
we were tire with wire and cord, that is our hands and feet were
tied. We were tied so tightly that our arms and legs swelled
approximately 2 to 3 times their normal size. We were not given
any food nor water. Immediately upon capture, I, being an Officer,
was interrogated by a Japanese Officer. I was asked mu name and
serial number which I readily gave. Upon being asked the name
of my Commanding Officer and the numerical designation of my
unit, I refused to answer. The Japanese Officer then motioned
to the Japanese soldiers or guards who gave me a severe beating
with sticks and clubs. After the beating, I gave the Japanese
the name of my Commanding Officer and the 5th Air Force as my
unit as I knew the Japanese, in all probabilities, Already had
the information, having taken many Air Force Prisoners this late
in the war. They checked mu answers with information on file
and apparently the information checked and then they continued
questioning me relative to the disposition of our Navy, Air Force,
Ground Troops and other questions that would normally be asked
a Prisoner of War by any Intelligence organization. I denied
knowledge of such questions, telling them that I was a pilot
and the information they wanted was not known to me.
From the Sepic River, the Japanese carried us to Wewak. Our
hands and feet were tied. They carried us by boat to Wewak, where
we were held until approximately 19 March  and where we
were again interrogated. On approximately 19 March 1943, we were
transferred by water craft to Kairiru Island, and island approximately
8 to 10 miles from Wewak, where we remained until about 11 May
1943, at which time we were transferred to Rabaul arriving there
approximately 16 May 1943.
Q. When you reached Rabaul,
where were you confined?
A. We were confined at the
6th Field Kempai Headquarters.
Q. When your were confined
at the 6th Field Kempai Headquarters in Rabaul, New Britain,
during the war, were you or any of your fellow POWs mistreated
or tortured during interrogations by the Intelligence Officer,
English-speaking Major Saiji MATSUDA, or any of his subordinates?
A. We were not mistreated
or tortured during interrogations. That was the only time we
received decent treatment, such treatment being in the nature
of a bribe. We WERE mistreated by Japanese military personnel
during interrogations at the mouth of the Sepic River and at
Wewak, but again not during interrogations [at 6th Field Kempai
Q. Describe in detail
the type of interrogation conducted at the Kempai Headquarters
at Rabaul before March 1944.
A. The interrogations consisted
of sitting down with an interpreter and an Officer and going
over pertinent questions that seemed important to the Japanese.
We were asked to draw maps, sketches of areas, gun emplacements
and areas of military importance, etc, which we were highly incapable
of doing generally.
Q. Describe the food,
sanitary and living conditions, and medical treatment of the
POWs at the 6th Field Kempai Headquarters in Rabaul before March
A. The food consisted exclusively
of rice and water. The daily amount of rice consisted of about
six (6) ounces. On infrequent occasions a piece of dried fish,
the size of your little finger, might garnish the rice. There
was no such thing as sanitation. Living conditions are best exemplified
by the fact that we had about a 10% survival. There was no medical
Q. While the 6th Field
Kempai Headquarters at Rabaul was being destroyed on or about
2 March 1944 by an air raid, were you and your fellow prisoners
sent to air raid shelters?
A. Yes, for the first time
since we had been captured. It was a shelter constructed by ourselves
and was not sufficient in any respect to withstand bombardment.
Q. When you and your fellow
prisoners were moved from the 6th Field Kempai Headquarters at
Rabaul to the Tunnel Hill POW Camp, located in a mountain pass
named Tanoura on Tunnel Hill Road between Rabaul City and Filapila,
how were you moved? Were you forced to march or were you transported
A. We were tied up, hand-cuffed
and out on the back of open-body trucks. It was approximately
two (2) miles distance from the 6th Field Kempai Headquarters
in Rabaul to the Tunnel Hill Prison Camp.
Q. After the prisoners
moved to the Tunnel Hill Camp, they were confined in a small
cave or tunnel. Describe the dimensions of this cave or tunnel,
the conditions under which you were confined. How long were you
and your fellow Prisoners kept in this cave or tunnel without
food or water?
A. The Tunnel Hill Prison
camp in reality was not a tunnel. It was a cave approximately
5 feet wide and 25 feet long, dug back into the mountain. We
were hand-cuffed at all times while in the cave. The was not
sufficient room for all of us to sit down. After we were sent
into the cave, only about have our number had to stand. We were
without food or water for three days.
Q. The Japanese authorities
claim that approximately forty (40) Allied prisoners were killed
during an air raid while they were being evacuated from Tunnel
Hill and sent to Watom Island which is located in Talili Bay.
Whether or not this is a fact seems highly improbable. State
how the prisoners were removed from the cave at Tunnel Hill after
the bombing of Raul City. (This point is very important because
the Japanese claim that the Allied prisoners were killed during
an air raid and all at one time). When the prisoners were removed
from the cave at Tunnel Hill POW Camp, were they removed in two
separate groups, at an interval of approximately one day, and
were they blindfolded and hand-cuffed? Who removed the Allied
prisoners? Was it the Kempai Tai guards, and were there any Kempai
Tai officers present? What was the date and time of day? Were
any of the prisoners who were removed from the cave on the verge
of death? After the forty Allied prisoners were supposed to have
been killed by bombs during an air raid, were any injured prisoners
or injured guards brought back to the Tunnel Hill POW Camp?
A. In answering these questions,
I wish to say that there were not forty prisoners removed from
the cave. There were approximately twenty-one prisoners. They
were blindfolded, tied and handcuffed by members of the Japanese
Kempai Tai. They were split into two groups. One group was marched
away at approximately 1000 hours, 4 March 1944 and the second
group was marched away at approximately 1000 hours, 5 March 1944.
It was not possible for all these prisoners, being separated
into two groups and marched away at a one day interval, to have
been killed all at one time. Yes, I would say that some of the
prisoners were on the verge of death. We were not even allowed
to mention the incident from the time of occurrence on. No prisoners
were ever brought back and the guards never came back.
Q. How were the forty
Allied prisoners who were removed from the cave at Tunnel Hill
Camp taken away? Were they taken away in trucks or were they
forced to march?
A. They were forced to march
for as far as we could see. Again, I wish to say that there were
not forty (40) prisoners but only approximately twenty-one (21)
Q. Did Medical Officer
Captain Shigeo FUSHITA ever give any medical treatment to Allied
prisoners who were confined in the cave at the Tunnel Hill POW
A. Medical Officer Shigeo
FUSHITA came in and looked us over, but never rendered any medical
Q. Draw a diagram of the
cave or tunnel and the quarters in which you were confined at
Tunnel Hill Camp, immediately after you were transferred from
the 6th Field Kempai Headquarters at Rabaul in March 1944.
A. Here is a sketch [not
found in file] of the entire area, the cave, compounds and location
of the 6th Field Kempai Headquarters in relation thereto. Immediately
after we were transferred from the 6th Field Kempai Headquarters
we were placed in the cave, the dimensions of which I have already
given. We remained there under insufferable conditions for a
period of approximately two to three weeks before being transferred
to a nearby compound, which was somewhat a more livable place.
This diagram will give you a rough idea of the general layout.
Q. Describe the medical
treatment you were given by Medical Officer Captain Shigeo FUSHITA
or any of his assistants whose pictures I have here. [pictures
not in file] At the same time see how many of the individuals
you can identify from these photographs. Did Captain Shigeo FUSHITA
ever conduct any medical experiments on you or your fellow prisoners?
A. In looking over these
pictures, I recognize :SUGA, SAEKI, AOYAGI, DR (CAPTAIN) FUSHITA,
MAJOR MATSUDA AND DR. (CAPTAIN) HIRANO". SUGA was an enlisted
man; SAEKI was a Corporal; AOYAGI was Dr. FUSHITA's orderly;
Dr. HIRANO was a Captain and the Medical Officer who conducted
medical experiments on the POWs. Dr. (Captain) FUSHITA was the
camp Medical Officer.
I also recognize OYAMADA.
He was a non-commissioned officer. These personnel, other than
the Doctors and Major MATSUDA, were all service personnel, such
as cooks, orderlies and carpenters. We were definitely given
NO medical attention by Captain Shigeo FUSHITA or any of his
assistants. They conducted no medical experiments, that is none
of this group except Dr. (Captain) Hirano.
Q. Describe all you know
about malaria medical experiments conducted by Medical Officer
Captain Einosuke HIRANO which resulted in the deaths of Ensign
Donald David Atkiss, USNR, and AR 2/c Richard Lanigan, USNR.
Were these medical experiments performed on the prisoners over
their protests? Dr. Einosuke HIRANO has been interrogated recently
in Tokyo, and he claims that he performed these experiments with
the consent of the prisoners. Describe in detail all that you
know about these medical experiments. Was sheep's blood used
in these experiments?
A. About 25 July 1945, Captain
Einosuke HIRANO conducted medical experiments on five (5) prisoners.
They were: Lt. Holguin, Lt. (Jg) Nason, Ensign Donald David Atkiss,
AR 2/c Lanigan and myself. We were promised quinine and other
malaria treatments if any harm resulted from these experiments.
About every three days these five men gave a few ounces of blood
to the doctor and we in turn were given an equal amount of blood
taken from Japanese soldiers, who were visibly and noticeably
suffering from malaria. This exchange of blood occurred several
times and lasted over a period of about a month.
During this time an orderly was stationed near our compound and
he made three or four smears each day, I suppose to determine
whether or not we were contracting the malaria thus injected.
These experiments were performed over our protests. Such protest
being taken very lightly and, of course, disregarded. We made
no physical effort to prevent these experiments. Dr. Einosuke
HIRANO as such as offered bribes, e.g., medical treatment later,
perhaps an improved diet, etc. Such promises, of course, were
never fulfilled. I have no way of knowing whether sheep's blood
was used in any of these experiments. Ensign Donald David Atkiss
and AR 2/c Richard Lanigan's death was unquestionably a direct
result of these experiments.
Q. Describe the death
of Flight Sergeant John FENNICK, RAAF. He was suffering from
a bullet wound in his leg. Was the bullet ever removed from his
leg by the Camp Medical Officer, or did FENNICK die of blood
A. Your question is misleading.
Flight Sergeant FENNICK is not the person to whom you refer.
Nevertheless, Flight Sergeant FENNICK, RAAF, did suffer from
a broken arm which was never given the proper medical attention.
The person to whom you refer was Flight Officer SIMMONS or SIMMONDS,
NZAF (New Zealand Royal Air Force). He had a bullet wound in
his leg. The bullet was never removed and I am positive he died
of blood poisoning.
Q. Describe the deaths
of the Allied POWs, who died from lack of medical treatment,
giving names and approximate dates of deaths.
A. There were, perhaps, twenty
or twenty-three POWs who died from lack of medical treatment
and starvation. I can furnish the names of twelve (12) of these
men and the approximate dates of their deaths. They are as follows:
CORNELIUS, Hugh-Died 29 April 1944.
WARREN, James- Died 3 June 1944
FESSINGER, Thomas- Died 15 July 1944
HANKS, William- Died 14 August 1944
ATKISS, Donald David- Died 29 July 1945
LAMPHIER, Charles Cobb- Died 15 May 1944
SHERMAN, Robert- Died 30 June 1944
GILES, John- Died 2 August 1944
FITZGERALD, John- Died 27 August 1944
MILLER, James L.- Died 7 May 1945
LANIGAN, Richard- Died 30 July 1945
Q. Who was the Commanding
Officer of the 6th Field Kempai Tai Headquarters? To your knowledge,
did he ever participate in any atrocities or permit any of his
subordinates to participate in any atrocities?
A. Major Saiji MATSUDA as
far as I know seemed to be the highest ranking officer of the
Detachment. He was very actively concerned with the affairs of
the camp. There was a full Colonel, who belonged to the same
outfit, but we never saw him except on rare occasions. There
was also a Warrant Officer who seemed to be actively in charge
of the prisoners.
Q. Colonel Satoru KIKUCHI
was the Commanding Officer of the 6th Field Kempai Tai Headquarters.
To your knowledge, did he ever participate in any atrocities
or permit any of his subordinates to participate in any atrocities?
A. With or without Colonel
KIKUCHI's permission, atrocities were committed by his subordinates.
Colonel KIKUCHI, himself, never actively participated in any
atrocities to my knowledge. If Commanding Officer, he certainly
delegated his responsibility as we saw him only on rare occasions.
Major MATSUDA was the Commanding Officer for all practical purposes.
Q. Mr. McMurria, earlier
in this interrogation, I asked you the specific question, "Were
you or any of your fellow POWS mistreated or tortured during
interrogations by the Intelligence Officer, English-speaking
Major Saiji MATSUDA, or any of his subordinates." You stated
that you were not mistreated or tortured during interrogations.
Will you please further clarify this question.
A. The question was somewhat
misleading as this inquiry is being made for the purpose of determining
whether or not atrocities were committed. As I have said in my
original answer to this question, no atrocities were committed,
we were not mistreated or tortured during interrogations. We
were given such favors as a cigarette or a hard-tack, these being
in a nature of a bribe, but were very welcomed. Atrocities were
committed by the subordinates of Major Saiji MATSUDA but never
during interrogations to my knowledge.
Q. Mr McMurria, I also
ask you a specific question, While the 6th Field Kempai Tai Headquarters
at Rabaul was being destroyed on or about 2 March 1944 by an
air raid, were you and your fellow prisoners sent to air raid
shelters?" Can you add further to this question.
A. That question was a bit
misleading also. I believe that the Japanese had prior warning
that the town of Rabaul was to be a target of destruction on
that date and we were taken into a shelter on that particular
instance. However, during countless air raids we were not put
in bomb shelters as were the other prisoners, that is, orientals,
and Japanese prisoners.
Q. Are you positive that
Dr. (Captain) Shigeo FUSHITA never gave POWs medical treatment?
A. I have answered that no
medical attention was given by Captain Shigeo FUSHITA. This is
to all intents and purposes correct. However, Doctor FUSHITA
did examine us rather periodically, such examinations resulting
only in a smirk, and no administration of medical treatment.
Q. Relative to the medical
experiments, do you know of any specific instance where other
medical experiments may have been conducted?
A. Outside our cell on a
desk used by the guards, was kept a bottle of some clear liquid
that smoked and fumed and had an acrid odor very similar to some
type of acid. All prisoners suffered malignant skin diseases,
such as tropical ulcers and other allied manifestations of Beri
Beri and scurvy. On at least one occasion when the guards felt
so disposed we were doused with this acid solution, the whole
display being highly entertaining to the guards.
/S/ James A. McMurria
JAMES A. MCMURRIA
586 Overlook Drive
State of Georgia [state seal]
County of Muscogee
I, James A. McMurria, of lawful age, being duly sworn on oath,
state that I have read the forgoing transcription of my interrogation
and all answers stated therein are true to the best of my knowledge
/S/ JAMES A. MCMURRIA
Subscribed and sworn to before me this 21st day of July, 1948
/S/ George B. Hammer
GEORGE B. HAMMER
Summary Court Officer