Tokyo POW Camp #5-B

Main       Main Camp List        About Us

Niigata #5-B POW Camp
Northwest coast of Honshu Island Approximately 150 km north of Kobe. At the time, Niigata population estimated at 145,000. (37 58' N., 139 02’ E.)
Area map

Tokyo 5-B

Time Line: 
Known to have 250 men at rescue.
20 Aug 1943:
Established; first located at NIIGATA-shi, NUTTARI
3 Sep 1943: 300 men arrive from Hong Kong plus some Dutch sailors from sunk submarine. Hell ship was the collier, "Manryu Maru".
7 Oct 1943:  About 350 men of the American enlisted men of all services (ex- Koho Maru also known as Coral Maru) arrive. At arrival, 200 Canadian and 7 Dutch were already present.
20 Oct 1943: 5 Yank officers and 3 medicics arrive- Major Fellows is senior OIC.
30 Oct 1943: British doctor, Major William "Bill" Stewart, R.A.M.C., arrives from Tokyo Kawasaki Branch Camp 1B.
4 Dec 1943: Moved to NIIGATA-ken, NAKAKAMBARA-gun, OGATA-mura
7 May 1944: First mail arrived
1 Jan 1944: Barracks roof collapses at 2:00 A.M. from snow load -
eight men killed
18 Jan 1944:
1 Apr 1944: Moved to NIIGATA-ken, NAKAKAMBARA-gun, OGATA-mura,
4 Apr 1944: Foundry men come under control of Civilians at Niigata Engineering Works
1 Jul 1944: 150 civilians from Wake arrive late at night. Previously held in Shanghai.
5 Sep 1944: Foundry men move to another camp 1/4 mile away.
18 Jan 1945: Foundry men moved to new barracks and location- receive first Red Cross box, one for every two men.
6 Mar 1945: Four officers arrive- 2 -NZ, one -USN and a B-24 engineer, 2nd Lt Charles H. Shaver, O&797085.
22 Apr 1945: First B-29 sighted over camp
3 June 1945: 100 men arrive including Joe Green
5 June 1945: 125 of the men arrived from the Kawasaki POW Camp (Tokyo Dispatch Camp #5) where the steel mill no longer functioned. (area destroyed in air raids) A number of China Marines were in this new group. The prior 125 men were mostly from the Philippines plus a few Canadians. Medic was a Canadian.
2 Jul 1945: Wake Island civilians arrive from China including Jim Allen.
Source- Chittenden, p 166-7]
10 July 1945: B-29's mine the harbor
14 Aug 1945: A.W. Rance, fluent in Japanese, translated the Emporer's surrender speech for the Niigata POWs as it was being delivered.
xx Aug 1945: Camp spotted by pilots from the USS Lexington
5 Sept 1945: 10:00 P.M. Rescue effected as men depart camp by train for Yokohama- arrive next morning at 7:00 A.M.

Aerial Photograph:

Camp first spotted by planes from the carrier, USS Lexington

Major Donald W. Boyle USMCR (VMF-212) - courtesy of Marty Irons):
Boyle was shot down over New Britain in January, 1943. He was with Maj. Pappy Boyington at Rabaul, Truk, and Ofuna. His family states he was with Boyington at Omori, too, but I have not found evidence of that fact yet.
Boyle is mentioned in William Dixon's account of being a prisoner at Ofuna in the account on your website. This photo was provided courtesy of the Boyle family.
Postwar, Boyington and Boyle were reunited in October, 1945 when a parade was held in NYC.

Primary Slave Labor Use:
Three groups:
Stevedore labor at port of Niigata (Marutsu), primarily foodstuffs and coal (Rinko Coal ) and labor at a foundry (Shintetsu)

Hell Ships:
Lisbon Maru (ex Hong Kong); Manyru Maru (ex Hong Kong); Koho Maru (ex Manila)

Allied Camp Commander:
Squadron Leader
Leonard Birchall, called "The Savior of Ceylon" by Winston Churchill

British & Other Nationalities
Yank & Brit rosters courtesy of Dr. Dee Leavitt, daughter of POW Forest L. Packard, civilian captured on Wake Island. Read his account, The Smile That Saved A Life, and book written by granddaughter, Ellen Dee Walker Leavitt: They Never Wavered: Forrest & Esther Packard During War Years.

Rosters for Tokyo #4 and #5 (RG 407 Box 115) - Roster of Troops, Tokyo POW Camp, 1945; Rosters of American and British POWs leaving Tokyo Camp. Rosters of sick Dutch, American, British, Australian and New Zealander POWs in Morioka Army Hospital.

Roster of Deceased (RG 407, Box 102) - Prepared by Jim Opolony, Director of the Proviso School District "Bataan Project" and Roger Mansell, Former Director of Allied POW Research Center

Major Fellows notes (RG 407 Box 148) - death rosters and confinements

Camp Photographs & Sketches

Interviews & Bios
Doug Idlett, 20th Pursuit - a short biography
Former POW Returns External Link Former POW George Francis returns in 1991.
Raymond Pelkey External Link- good description of Coal yard detail at waterfront.

Books Describing Life at Niigata 5-B:
"Jim's Journey- A Wake Island Civilian POW's Story" by his daughter, Leilani Magnino. Excellent narrative, numerous rosters, illustrations and photographs. Order & preview pages at Amazon.

"From China Marine to Jap POW" by W.H. Chittenden, 1995 - out of print; check for availability as a used book

"From Manila to Niigata, A Prisoner of War Narrative WWII", Joseph C. Baxter Jr, 2007, XLibris (Publisher Link) Excellent narrative but his roster of those who perished has numerous flaws. See roster above.

Field of Spears: The Last Mission of the Jordan Crew by Gregory Hadley (review)

Special page on Carlos Montoya (book)

Japanese Camp Staff: 
Complete list of Japanese staff at surrender and picture of regular staff

Train Wreck
Niigata POWS help rescue Japanese injured in train wreck on way to Yokohama