KILL THE PRISONERS. Page
The Japanese government policy was to not allow the escape of a single POW
and to eliminate them without a lingering trace.
At Hanawa, the final disposition of the POWs
was clear. The Japanese, second-in-command, Sergeant Hoichi Takahashi
who worked directly under the Japanese camp commander, Toshinori
Asaka, was mean and cruel and often times dealt brutal treatment
to the POWs. At other times, he attempted to be somewhat friendly.
During several of his friendly moments he told me and many others
that official Japanese Army orders directed that all POWs be
summarily massacred at the moment that Allied Forces landed on
the Japanese homeland. He said that all Japanese men, women,
and children were armed and ready to defend and die for their
homeland. He told us that they would be through with the POWs
at that time and that we would just be in their way. He did not
tell us the means in which they would massacre us but it was
our belief that we would all be forced into the deepest lateral
of the copper mine, the entrance sealed and that we would be
buried alive there with no trace left for eternity. Sgt. Takahachi showed us, at one time, copies
of the Japanese
orders (in Japanese of course) that
ordered our death when the Americans invade the homeland.
war ended, the Allied Air Forces located our camp and dropped
tons of food, clothing, and medicine. Attached to this narrative
is a copy of the list of items dropped.
My abbreviated diary
entries explain some of the activities in our camp at Hanawa
from the period of August 1945 to September 17, 1945.
August 14, 1945
Suddenly with very
little warning, dramatic happiness occurred at Hanawa. We were
told that we would not go to the mine to work today! August 16
& 17 were Japanese holidays, but we had never celebrated
these days before. Then the Japanese issued the Red Cross food
parcels which consisted of two small boxes for five men. Glad
to get this food because the rations had become very skimpy.
August 17, 1945
All POWs up early
as usual. Ready to go to work. Orders come—no work today!
Our celebration caused the Guards to come into buildings, point
guns at POWs, and threaten to shoot if we did not quiet down.
Rumors all day the end of War. Attitude of Guards completely
changed. Cause no trouble and even try to be friendly. Something
big has happened. Japanese civilian in our camp breaks down crying
and tells us that the American fleet is in Yokohama Bay.
August 18, 1945
Camp Commander goes
to POW headquarters at Sendai. No work; food increase; good treatment.
Boy, something is up!
August 19, 1945
from Sendai. Visits our camp. Japanese tells us Armistice has
been reached and we will be notified tomorrow.
August 20, 1945
9:15 a.m. Standing
in formation, the Japanese Commander delivered speech informing
us that peace has come and he placed us under our own American
officers. After speech was read twice, by the interpretor, a
grand ovation of applause and cheers rang out and many broke
down and cried. Freedom at last! It was hard for me to believe.
Was this just another good dream? The supply room was opened
to us. Chow plentiful (such as it is). Found much winter Red
Cross clothing and shoes in the supply room. This clothing, if
issued earlier would have saved much misery as many of us worked
practically barefooted and in threadbare clothing last winter.
August 24, 1945
place large signs on roof of our buildings with PW written in
red paint. We are told that American planes will fly over and
August 25, 1945
American Navy planes
flew over camp and spotted us.
August 26, 1945
as Grummans flew low over camp.
August 27, 1945
F4U Navy fighters
dropped message telling us to clear area for dropping of oparcels.
Flight of 5 F4U's 5 Grumman fighters and 5 Torpedo planes dropped
food, medicine, clothing and magazines by parachute. News sheets
also dropped. Further instructions for us to signal planes of
our needs also included.
August 28, 1945
Have panels up notifying
planes that we need food and medicine. Also have white-washed
letters on rooftop words—sulfadine-carozone. Cmdr Harding
tossed out message saying "OK on drugs and food. If we can't
help you, B-29's will soon. 1:30 p.m. B-29's appeared over camp.
Dropped leaflets saying Japan has surrendered and that they would
drop us supplies. 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. B-29's parachuted supplies
to us. Food, clothing and medicine dropped all over the countryside.
NIP civilians seem highly excited and amazed. Much food smashed
very badly when parcels broke away from chutes. (The containers
were two 50 gallon steel drums welded together and stuffed with
food. Other camps notified us that personnel had been killed
by falling parcels. That morning our senior officer left with
Taka Hashi Gunso for conference with neutral Red Cross representatives
August 29, 1945
Talked with some
Japanese soldiers telling them of the atrocities suffered as
POWs under the Japanese. They seem very afraid and assure us
that they never harmed a POW.
August 30, 1945
Senior American Officer
back saying we should stay put for now but would probably get
instructions to leave within a week or so. Will be going to a
northern port and then back by Manila, P.I. before going home.
August 31, 1945
B-29's dropped more food at our camp and at a nearby camp. Cannot
comprehend the advance in aircraft and other weapons of war.
Reading magazines and talking about modern advancements.
September 1, 1945
More food drops.
Notice to move out on six hour notice.
September 2, 1945
Officers given party
by local Japanese and told that the people of Hanawa want to
give us a good impression of them to take back to States. Officers
told them our opinions had been formed already—several months
September 3, 1945
Butchered pig and
steer. Good eating. 6:30 a.m. Japanese guards left so guard house
is empty. Our officers formed an M.P. company to protect compound.
Japanese kids throw garlic bulbs over fence to us and we throw
gum and candy back to them. Japanese civilians carry on life
as usual. No planes today but potatoes, onions and tomatoes brought
in daily from local producers.
September 4, 1945
Our guard company issued 6 Japanese rifles and 200 rounds of
ammo. B-29's made two drops about 2 p.m. Most parcels broke away
from chutes and food lost or broken. Radio set brought into camp
so getting news from San Francisco.
September 5, -6, 1945
No food drops. Food
running short. Do we go back to eating rice? Started taking hikes
around this area and swimming in stream. All men are getting
restless and anxious to leave.
We on request from
a Chinese Lt. In a nearby slave labor work battalion, investigate
and find the camp suffering from malnutrition and other serious
diseases. Collected all our old clothing, equipment and extra
supplies and took loads up to the Chinese. We were greeted with
bows and tears; with kisses on hands indicating great appreciation
of the gifts of these bare necessities which they had done without
since being conscripted in China for slave labor in Japan. When
confronted the mine officials denied knowing about their condition
but did promise us that they would discontinue working them,
would feed them and give them medical attention.
September 7, 1945
Our Commander attempts
to keep camp intact and prevent men from leaving. He insists
that we must wait for orders. Mine officials issue wine and saki
and some extra to drink and it looks like pay day nights in the
barracks. Japanese non-coms want to be friendly. These same guys
had produced a copy of an Imperial Japanese Army document to
us a few months before. They explained that these were official
orders from headquarters to massacre all POWs the moment that
American forces landed on homeland Japanese soil! Now smething
big had happened that would change the situation. Now we would
September 8, 1945
men will leve on their own before receiving orders. Men are counted
and then recounted.
September 9, 1945
Commander lifts restrictions
and allows men in 10-man groups to visit area. Made another trip
to the mine and reviewed the mining operation. Treated royally
by mine official and served tea. We gave some of them cigarettes,
matches, gum and soap. These items were scarce to them. Again
visit the Chinese camp and game them more gifts. Visit town looking
for the ones who had mistreated us. Filed charges against some
and they will be apprehended.
September 10, 1945
Started second year
in Japan. Sorry I can't stay longer! International Red Cross
message indicates we will leave within 48 hours.
September 11, 1945
Pass into Hanawa.
Had picture made with 3 friends. Mine officials visit us in p.m.
September 12, 1945
Picked up pictures
in Hanawa. Visited friend and prepared to depart Hanawa.
September 13, 1945
The Big Day! Will
complete packing. Won't take long! Be ready to leave tonight.
9:30 a.m. Five American soldiers arrived in a Jeep to inspect
our camp and to report on our work conditions. They took lots
of pictures and lots of movies. These are the first free Yanks
that we have seen in 3 ½ years. Four are Air Force and
we spent all morning asing questions. We left Hanawa for an overnight
ride to the Port of Shiogama near Sendai. We were processed aboard
the hospital ship Relief. Then we were placed on a Navy
Auxiliary ship Garardo for the trip to Yokohama Harbor.
September 17, 1945
We boarded Navy LSV
Monitor for trip to Manila, P.I. When we finished processing
in Manila, we sailed to Seattle, WA. on the Cliff Fontaine
and then HOME!!
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