Arrival at Hanawa,
Five hundred of us American Prisoners of War
arrived at the Mitsubishi copper mine near Hanawa, Japan,
on September 9, 1944.
We Americans were the survivors of the Battles
of Bataan and Corregidor in the Philippines following the outbreak
of World War II. All of us were sick, starved, and debilitated
from two and a half years' of POW life and from our recent brutal
boat trip up from the Philippines. Our brief walk from the railhead
near Hanawa to the POW enclosure was long enough for us to detect
the crisp cool weatheran advanced warning of the brutally
cold below-freezing winter ahead of us.
Before we entered the prison compound, we crossed
a flowing stream cut deep into the mountain side. The guard building
stood outside the compound gate. This building housed the Japanese
soldiers and included the solitary cells in which camp rules
violators were housed and punished.
The size of the prison compound was approximately
200 x 350. A twelve foot high wooden fence surrounded
the installation. Inside the enclosure were three barracks each
approximately 20x100. The barracks were connected
by covered passageways that were open on each side. The barracks
had 30 ceilings housing double deck sleeping platforms
lining each side. Straw mats were placed on these platforms to
form bed-like facilities. The floors were packed dirt. Tables
and benches were installed in the aisle of the barracks and provided
eating facilities. The meals were brought in from the galley
in buckets and served by fellow POWs.
Other buildings within the compound included
three squat type latrines over cement pits; two rectangular buildings
for an infirmary and medical personnel; an L shaped building
for the galley and bath; and a Japanese headquarters building.
This compound would be home for us for the next
twelve months. We were immediately taken inside the compound,
lined up, counted and made to stand at attention while our new
Japanese camp commander, Lt. Asaka, gave a speech telling us
that we would stay in this camp until the Japanese won the war,
that we had to bow to all guards and obey their instructions,
that we had to obey all camp rules and that we would be severely
punished for any infractions to these rules, and that we would
be working at the Mitsubishi copper mine and must work
very, very hard.
The next two or three days were spent organizing
the camp and work details. Mine officials came in to study the
skills of the POWs in order to assign jobs. They set up work
details for electricians, machinists, mechanics, foundry workers,
and the miners. Those with little technical skill were doomed
to the depths of the mine all the time. Others did topside and
The health of the POWs was evaluated and a mixture
of Japanese and captured American/English clothing was issued.
All POWs were assigned to a specific work section and to a specific
barracks area. A Japanese civilian employee from Mitsubishi
company was assigned to each work detail and was called the Honcho.
Honchos carried large, heavy walking sticks and were proficient
in its use to "encourage" POWs to work.
The Imperial Japanese Army and the Mitsubishi copper mine
officials now had the American Prisoners of War prepared to produce
copper for Japan.
Page 1- Americans move to Japan
on the Noto Maru
Page 2 - Arrival at Hanawa
Page 3 - Slavery at the Mine
Page 4- Bitter winter of 1944-1945
Page 5 - War ends - Diary Notes