Hanawa Camp history
by James T. Murphy (Page 2 of 5 Pages)

Main Hanawa Page

Arrival at Hanawa, Page 2

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 weather—an 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 20’x100’. 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 mining duties.

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