This was a Post-war interview conducted
on 23 Nov 1945 by Navy Captain Pence and a Mr. James.
More detail is provided regarding Capt. McMillin's transfer to Taiwan and Mukden, Manchuria.
McMillin Interview, 23 November 1945
Source: RG 389, Box 2130
OCR text from scans of the three page document
Note: Pencil correction noted that date of capture was 1941 instead of 1945 in first paragraph.
HOME McMillan Report
Reproduced at The National Archives [NARA]
NOTE: McMillin's name is misspelled.
November 23, 1945
Capt. George MacMillan, USN, [sic] former Governor or Guam who was a prisoner of war in the Far East from December 10, l945 [sic] until the end of the war, visited the office of Capt. Pence on Wednesday, November 21 and conferred with Capt. Pence and Mr. James. [neither man further identified]
Capt. MacMillan spoke first of the Prisoner of War Bulletin, and said that after reading the issues since his return to this country, he felt that the American Red Cross was very well informed concerning conditions in the Far East.
Guam surrendered on 10 December, 1941, and the prisoners were confined there until 10 January, 1942, at which time they were taken to Zentsuji. Capt. MacMillan stated that he and some of his companions were confined in the Naval hospital in Guam, and some of the other prisoners, including civilians, were confined in the Catholic Church property there. Damage at the time Guam was taken by the Japanese was surprisingly light - the Americans were completely overwhelmed.
Capt. MacMillan and his group were the first ones in the Zentsuji camp. The camp was located in the center of the town. Contacts were immediately made with the local Japanese authorities as to what would be considered proper housing, and Capt. MacMillan told them that if they were not able to furnish adequate accommodations and supplies he was sure that our own government would be willing to provide them if given an opportunity to do so. The Japanese were inclined to be rather patient about this, and seemed willing to do what they could to help. The camp was set up to take care of about 350, and most of the time about that many were interned there. The buildings had. been used for storerooms, and were not very well cleaned up. The Japanese were rather apologetic about this and said they would try to improve conditions. A small amount of coal was furnished for the charcoal brazier, and although the Japanese kept saying that coal was scarce, they did not cut down the ration at that time.
Capt. Macmillan was at Zentsuji for seven months, and stated that during that time they bad one visit from the International Delegate, Dr. Paravacini, and two from representatives of the Protecting Power, On this visit, Dr. Paravacini asked for a list of supplies needed, and such a list was made up and given to him. The Japanese insisted on one or two deletions because the prisoners had asked for certain American foods to [xxx] take care of deficiencies in the diet. The Japs said they could ask for these foods, but not for that reason, Dr. Paravacini made an inspection of the camp, but was not allowed to go into the kitchen, where conditions were very bad from a sanitary point of view. He seemed to look everything over with a very understanding eye, Capt. MacMillan stated, and although little was said because the Japanese were following along, the prisoners felt comforted over this visit and the general feeling was that Dr. Paravacini had looked the place over with a very understanding eye. At this time Capt. MacMillan asked Dr. Paravacini to take a list with him of all the prisoners at the camp, to be forwarded to the Navy Department. Such a list had previously been made up and the Japs had agreed to forward it to Dr. Paravacini, but he stated that he had never received such a list, so the Japanese allowed a copy to be given to him at that time, and the names were later cabled.
Capt. MacMillan left Zentsuji on the 24th of August, 1942 and was taken to Karenko, in Formosa, where he remained until April of 1943. He and his companions had been told that they could be provided with certain 'extras on the trip provided they paid for them, so they stopped at the Oriental Hotel at Kobe, where they had fine accommodations. On the steamer Fuji Maru, an old coal barge which was one of the regular ships on the Taiwan run, by paying extra they were allowed to travel second class, and were made very comfortable. The Jap escorts told Capt. MacMillan that they had had orders from Tokyo to treat him well.
The period at Karenko was just about the low point, Capt. MacMillan stated. The Japs were 'feeling their oats, and the men were beaten indiscriminately for little or no reason. The men started working, and worked in the fields during the winter of 1942 and 1943.
Just before leaving Karenko in March of 1943, about 4 or 5 truckloads or British Red Cross parcels arrived in the camp. At that time the men were just about starved to death, the supplies were wheeled past the barracks and taken down to the storeroom and locked up, and the Japanese said they did not know when they could issue them as they had to await orders from Tokyo. The men were transferred before the supplies were distributed, but some of them were sent down to Tamazato, where approximately 6 parcels of British Red Cross were distributed to each men, also some bulk supplies.
Capt. MacMillan was taken to Tamazato and later to Shirakawa, both on Formosa where be remained until the fall of 1944. Further British Red Cross supplies were distributed at Shirakawa, also a small shipment of Canadian Red Cross supplies. Each prisoner in the camp received an equal share of all goods coming into the camp. Capt MacMillan stated that he did not know how much of the material which arrived in the camps was distributed because he did not know how such had come in.
A fairly good sized shipment of medicines was received in Formosa, also a small quantity of vitamins and some Red Cross clothing.
During this period Dr. Paravacini visited the Tamazato camp, in May of 1943, but no opportunity was given for Capt. MacMillan to speak with him alone. The prisoners had been told the day before that he was coming, and that they were to make out a brief of the thing they would like to discuss with him, but that it must be remembered that anything of an unfavorable nature would have to be considered by the Japanese before they could bring it up. A party of eight or nine men, including the Gov. Gen. of the Dutch East Indies, Lt. Gen. Percival, Cen. Wainwright, Gen. King, and others were chosen to meet the International Delegate. Three men out of this group were chosen as spokesmen. At the actual meeting, Dr. Paravacini sat by himself at a table on one side of the room, and the prisoners sat on the other side. The spokesmen presented their situations regarding mail, food, treatment, contact with families, etc. and did a fairly good job of getting their ideas over to Dr. Paravacini. After the meeting, pictures were taken of Dr. Paravacini shaking hands with some of the Americans.
Immediately following this meeting, orders were given that the camp was to be broken up. Capt. MacMillan said that prior to the visit of the delegate, canned goods end other supplies were placed in the PX with a "For Sale" sign on them, but that they were never for sale to the prisoners. Pictures were taken of this also, he said.
In October of 1944, the prisoners were sent to Mukden, in Manchuria. There they received about 3324 Red Cross packages, which amounted to about 10 for each man in the camp. the packages were all intact. At first one package per man was issued about every three weeks, later, they would spread the package out over a period of about 2 1/2 months, giving out 1 can for 4 1/2 men, and puncturing the cans, which had to be turned back the next day. There were still some packages left at the time of the Armistice which the Japanese had told them they intended to issue beginning about the 1st of November, to last through the Christmas period.
Capt. MacMillan expressed great appreciation for the packages end said that be did not believe they could be improved upon, except for the Bordon cheese, which he stated was in very back condition.
Capt. Pence showed Capt. MacMillan some of the cable reports received following camp visits, and Capt. MacMillan stated that some of the things mentioned as being provided, such as individual mosquito nets, canteen supplies etc. were not available as far as he knew. In general, he stated that he felt that the hands of the International Delegates were pretty well tied, and that they did as well as they could under the circumstances. It was his impression that Dr. Paravacini had considerable sympathy with the Japanese; however in some instances this may have enabled him to accomplish more than would otherwise have been possible. At the tine of his death, the papers "made quite a thing of it", and he was buried with honors according to the Shinto religion.
Capt. MeeUillea stated that at one time they were without soap for a period of eight months, and did not have any shaving soap for about two years. He had a razor, and was able to make one blade last a year.
He spoke particularly of the chocolate - said it was wonderful, and that although they were told to eat it slowly, the longest one man could possibly keep his was three minutes. This was considered the record for fast consumption.
There was a pig pen in every camp, end although the prisoners bought the pigs and raised them, they were given only a few parts which were left over after the Japanese took the choice cuts. Capt. MacMillan also stated that once to his knowledge they fed the prisoners a pig that bad died. Fortunately, there were no ill effects.
Capt. Pence showed Capt. MacMillan a picture of the medical kit, and his only comment was that they had taken Japanese tooth paste for stomach disorders a good share of the time. He bed not seen the medical supplies.
Appreciation was expressed for the issues of "The Red Cross News" which had been received during the latter months of internment. The men appreciated this little publication immensely - it carried news regarning legislation, in which they were tremendously interested, and Capt. MacMillan stated that for one thing, through this magazine they knew that charges for their upkeep while prisoners would not be charged against their accounts when they returned.
Capt. MacMillan said that he was paid a salary, which for him was 310 yen, and that when he left Japan be had something like 11,000 yen credit with the Postal Savings Bank there. The rest of it had been spent for various things, including postal cards in the camp. Enlisted men got only what they earned.
In conclusion, Capt. MacMillan stated that he thought individual food packages were preferable to bulk shipments of supplies from a morale standpoint, also that there was less chance for pilferage with this method, and foods arrived in better condition. He repeated that he thought the choice of foods was excellent, and made no suggestions for improvement.