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Massacres and Atrocities of World War II - page 4 of 4 -within the Pacific Region.

This 4 page series reports on some occurrences within:

  1. "Western" Europe - Belgium, France, Greece, Holland
  2. "Eastern" Europe - Czechoslovakia, Poland, the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia
  3. the "Axis" Countires - Germany and Italy, and
  4. the vast Pacific Region.

The Pacific Region

NANKING MASSACRE (December, 1937)

Known historically as the 'Rape of Nanking'. In 1931 (the real start of World War II, with Japans illegal invasion of Manchuria) the Chinese capital Nanking, now Nanjing, had a population of just over one million, including over 100,000 refugees. On December 13, the city fell to the invading Japanese troops. For the next six weeks the soldiers indulged in an orgy of indiscriminate killing, rape and looting. They shot at everyone on sight, whether out on the streets or peeking out of windows. The streets were soon littered with corpses, on one street a survivor counted 500 bodies. Girls as young as twelve, and women of all ages were raped by gangs of 15 or 20 soldiers, crazed by alcohol, who roamed the town in search of women. At the Jingling Women's University, students were carted away in trucks to work in Japanese army brothels. Over a thousand men were rounded up and marched to the banks of the Yangtze river where they were lined up and gunned to death to give practice in machine-gun traversing fire. Thousands of captured Chinese soldiers, many wounded, were simillary murdered. In the following six weeks, the Nanking Red Cross units alone, buried around 43,000 bodies. About 20,000 women and girls had been raped, most were then murdered. Over one hundred girls of the Ginling Girls School were raped.  Department stores, shops, churches and houses were set on fire while drunken soldiers indulged in wholesale looting and bayoneting of Chinese civilians for sport. It is estimated that over 150,000 Chinese civilians and soldiers were killed in this, the most infamous atrocity committed by the Japanese army. Many had been shot in the back as they fled the city. In charge of the troops during this time was General Iwane Matsui. At the Tokyo War Crimes Trial, Matsui was found guilty of a war crime unrelated to Nanking and sentenced to death. He was hanged in 1948. After the war, China tried about 800 persons for war crimes including those responsible for the Nanking and Shanghai massacres. The death penalty was given to 149 defendants. (It is known that one of the commanders during the atrocity was Prince Asaka, an uncle of Emperor Hirohito, but none of the Emperor's family was ever tried for war crimes).


German business man and Nazi Party member, John Rabe, who worked for Siemens in Nanking, became a hero to the Chinese when he established a seven square mile Safety Zone in the western side of the city to help protect civilians from the rampaging Japanese. Showing his Swastika armband and huge Nazi flags that adorned important buildings, the Japanese troops were reluctant to enter the zone. Known as the 'Good Nazi' he is reported to have saved the lives of over 200,000 Chinese civilians and soldiers. John Rabe died of a stroke in 1950 in Germany.

Memorial to the Nanking Massacre.


During the Sino-Japanese war, as Japanese forces moved west towards the railroad junction of Chengchow, there to meet up with other Japanese units advancing on Hankow, the Chinese Nationalists blew up the flood dykes of the Yellow River. The resulting flood inundated three provinces and forty-four counties. Between four and five thousand villages and eleven towns were flooded. A total of 3,911,354 people were displaced. Altogether 893,303 lives were lost through drowning. The Chinese Nationalists blamed this atrocity on the invading Japanese. The dikes were rebuilt in 1946 and 1947 and Yellow River returned to its pre-1938 course. 

HONG KONG ATROCITIES (December 25, 1941)

The lush island of Hong Kong, thirty-two square miles in area, was formally ceded to Great Britain by the Treaty of Nanking in 1842. Around Christmas, 1941, the peace and tranquillity of this island paradise was shattered when the troops of General Ito Takeo defeated the gallant soldiers of Britain, Canada, and India, and detachments of various other nationalities. Intoxicated with the spirit of victory, the Japanese troops showed no mercy to their victims. At Eucliff, fifty-three prisoners were shot, bayoneted, some beheaded and their bodies rolled down the cliff. On Christmas morning, around 200 drunken Japanese approached St. Stephen's College, now a sanctuary for ninety-six wounded soldiers. Barring the front door was the head medic, Dr. George Black. 'You can't come in here' he called out, 'this is a hospital'. With deliberate aim, one of the soldiers raised his rifle and shot the doctor through the head. As the drunken mob surged into the hospital ward, the body of Dr Black was repeatedly bayoneted as he lay at the door. In the wards, a massacre of unprecedented ferocity took place. The Japanese ripped the bandages off the wounded patients and plunged their bayonets into the amputated arms and legs before finishing them off with a bullet. In half an hour fifty-six wounded soldiers had been massacred while the nursing staff looked on helplessly. The female nurses were then led away, to a fate one can only imagine. The patients and staff who had survived the slaughter were then forced to carry the bodies and bloodied mattresses to the grounds outside where a huge funeral pyre was prepared and lit from the college desks and cupboards which had been smashed up for firewood. Similar atrocities was enacted at the Jockey Club in Happy Valley which had been turned into a hospital and at the Salesian Mission at Shau Kei Wan. Atrocities were committed at various locations throughout the colony including the rape of thousands of women and young girls. On this day, any misconceptions the world had that Japan was a civilized nation, disappeared into thin air.


Two graves, about five metres apart, were dug in a wooded area near the village of Tawiri adjacent to Laha airstrip on Ambon Island, The graves were circular in shape, six metres in diameter and three metres deep. Soon after 6pm, a group of Australian and Dutch prisoners of war, their arms tied securely behind them, were brought to the site. The first prisoner was made to kneel at the edge of the grave and the execution, by samurai beheading, was carried out by a Warrant Officer Kakutaro Sasaki. The next four beheadings were the privilege of eager crew-members of the Japanese mine-sweeper No.9 sunk a few days previously by an enemy mine in Ambon Bay. This could only be considered as an act of reprisal for the loss of their ship. As dusk descended, and the beheadings continued, battery torches were used to light up the back of the necks of each successive victim.

The same macabre drama was being enacted at the other round grave where men of a Dutch mortar unit were being systematically decapitated. On this unforgettable evening, 55 Australian and 30 Dutch soldiers were murdered. Details of this atrocity came to light during the interrogation of civilian interpreter, Suburo Yoshizaki, who was attached to the Kure No.1 Special Navy Landing Party, at that time stationed on Ambon. A few days later, on February 24, in the same wooded area, another bizarre execution ceremony took place. Around the graves stood about 30 naval personnel who had volunteered for this grisly task, many of them carrying swords which they had borrowed. When some of the young prisoners were dragged to the edge of the grave shouting desperately and begging for their lives, shouts of jubilation came from those marines witnessing the executions. In this mass murder, which ended at 1.30am the following morning, the headless bodies of 227 Allied prisoners filled the two large graves. Witness to this second massacre was Warrant Officer Keigo Kanamoto, Commanding Officer of the Kure No.1 Repair and Construction Unit. (The remains of those murdered were later disinterred and reburied in the Australian War Cemetery at Tantoei).

Three commanders responsible of the executions were, Commander Kunito Hatakeyama, later sentenced to death by hanging, Lt.Kenichi Nakagawa, sentenced to 20 years imprisonment and Rear Admiral Hatakeyama, who ordered the executions, died before his trial commenced.


A full account of all massacres of Filipinos by Japanese troops would fill several books. In Manila, 800 men women and children were machine-gunned in the grounds of St. Paul's College. In the town of Calamba, 2,500 were shot or bayoneted. Around 100 were bayoneted and shot inside a church at Ponson and 169 villagers of Matina Pangi were rounded up and shot in cold blood. At the War Crimes Trial in Tokyo, document No 2726 consisted of 14,618 pages of sworn affidavits, each describing separate atrocities committed by the invading Japanese troops. The Tribunal listed 72 large scale massacres and 131,028 murders as a bare minimum.

BANGKA ISLAND MASSACRE (St. Valentine's Day, February 14, 1942)

On board the liner SS Vyner Brooke (Captain R. E. Borton, OBE) named after its onetime owner Sir Charles Vyner Brooke, Rajah of Sarawak, and in peacetime had sailed between Singapore and Kuching, were 65 Australian Army nurses of the 2/10 and the 2/13th Australian General Hospitals in Singapore who, together with other civilian women and children, made up the 330 persons being evacuated from the city. In the Banka Strait, a narrow strip of water between the islands of Bangka and Sumatra, the Vyner Brooke was bombed and sunk by Japanese planes. A few lifeboats managed to reach the mangrove lined shore of Bangka Island. On advice from some islanders they were advised to give themselves up to the Japanese as there was no hope of escaping. That night another lifeboat arrived on the shore containing between 30 and 40 British servicemen from another ship sunk earlier. The civilian women, some nurses and children, then set out to walk to the nearest Japanese compound to give themselves up. When the Japanese arrived at the beach the men and women were separated, the men were marched into the jungle, never to be heard of again. The soldiers returned and forced the remaining 22 nurses to wade out into the sea. There, in waist deep water, they were machined-gunned to death, leaving only one survivor, Sister Vivian Bullwinkle, who later managed to reach the island's Japanese Naval Headquarters where she was put to work in the hospital. For over three years she kept the secret of the massacre to herself and a few friends. To speak openly about it would have been a certain recipe for execution. Of the 65 nurses from the Vyner Brooke, 12 had drowned, 21 shot in the water at Radji Beach and 32 had gone into prison in Muntok before being shipped to Palembang in southern Sumatra to serve three-and-a-half years of privation and punishment as prisoners of war. Sadly, only 24 survived the war. (Sister Bullwinkle died in Perth, Western Australia, in 2000, aged 84).

The Bangka Memorial


In January, 1942, a company of Australian, British and Indian soldiers were captured by the Japanese during  the desperate fighting retreat in the Malayan campaign. They were interned in a large wooden building in the village of  Parit Sulong. in the afternoon of January 22, 1942, they were ordered to assemble at the rear of a row of damaged shops nearby. The wounded were carried by those able to walk, the pretext being the promise of medical treatment and food. While waiting at the assembly point, either sitting or lying prone, their hands tied with signal wire or rope, three machine guns, concealed in the back rooms of the wrecked shops, started their deadly chatter, their concentrated fire chopping flesh and limbs to pieces. A number of prisoners whose bodies showed signs of life, had to be bayoneted. In order to dispose of the bodies, which totalled 145, the row of shops was blown up and the debris bulldozed into a heap on top of which the corpses were placed. Sixty gallons of gasoline was splashed on the bodies and then a flaming torch was thrown on the pile. Just before midnight, the debris of the nine shops had burned into piles of grey ash two feet high, the 145 bodies totally incinerated. In 2003 an examination of the site was done but no trace of the massacre was found. Later it was found that the drains in the area emptied at low tide making them a perfect mass grave. In the evening high tide the remains would have been washed out to sea. The perpetrator of this foul crime was Lt-Gen. Takuma Nishimura, 62, who gave the following order: "Instruct the officer-in-charge to execute all the prisoners by firing squad. Kill them all. The bodies of the prisoners are to be cremated on completion of the execution and all traces of their disposal obliterated."

Nishimura later faced trial before an Australian Military Court and sentenced to life imprisonment. He was previously convicted of massacres in Singapore and sentenced to life imprisonment by a British Military Tribunal on April 2, 1947. After serving four years of his sentence, he was being transferred to Tokyo to serve out the rest of his sentence and while the ship stopped temporarily at Hong Kong he was seized by the Australian Military Police and taken to Manus Island where his second trial was held. In this trial he was found guilty and hanged on June 11, 1951.


On the morning of 22/23 of January, 1942, Japanese forces, estimated at between seventeen and twenty thousand, landed at Rabaul on the island of New Britain. Defended by 1,396 men of the Australian 2/22 Battalion of the 8th Division, AIF, (Lark Force ) The New Guinea Volunteer Rifles and men of the 2/10 Field Ambulance Unit, they were soon forced to retreat in the hope of escaping via Wide Bay about 90 kilometres south of Rabaul. On the 3rd of February, 1942, Japanese troops landed from five barges on the shore of Henry Reid Bay, an indent on Wide Bay and near the Tol and Waitavalo plantations. They immediately set out to round up all Australian soldiers hiding out in the surrounding jungle. The first ten taken prisoner were immediately bayoneted to death. The others, worn out and hungry by their trek from Rabaul, simply surrendered. Their hands were bound together, their identity discs and other personal items taken off them and then marched into the bush on the Tol Plantation in groups of ten or twelve and four separate massacres took place, the victims shot or bayoneted in a most cruel fashion. At the nearby plantation at Waitavalo eleven other prisoners were shot from behind by rifle and machine guns.

The Japanese didn't have the decency to bury these men, only to throw a few palm fronds over the bodies. Miraculously, six men survived these killings. When the 14/32nd Australian Infantry Battalion recaptured the area in April, 1945, they discovered a number of areas littered with the bleached bones of 158 victims who had escaped from Rabaul. It is not known how many of the victimes were civilians. The Japanese unit responsible for the murders was the 3rd Battalion of the 144th Infantry Regiment commanded by Colonel Masao Kusunose who was tracked down on December 17, 1946. It was discovered that he had committed suicide by starving himself to death during a nine day fast. In Australia, the official Government report on the massacre was not released until 47 years later, in 1988. (Of the 1,396 men of Lark Force, only about 400 returned home.)

MASSACRE ON BALIKPAPAN (February 24, 1942)

After the destruction of the Tarakan oil-fields the Japanese were determined that the same thing would not happen when they invaded Balikpapan. Two Dutch officers, captured on Tarakan, were sent to Balikpapan with an ultimatum stating that if the oil installations are destroyed, all Dutch personnel in the area would be shot. The two emissaries were directed by the Dutch commanding officer, Lt. Col. C van den Hoogenband, to escape to the island of Java after which he gave the order for the oil-fields to be destroyed. Japanese troops of the 56th Regimental Group, under the command of Major-General Shizuo Sakaguchi, invaded the island on January 23, 1942 and outraged at what they saw, proceeded to round up every Dutch soldier and white civilian they could find. Even eight patients from the local hospital were among the group of 78 victims marched to a beach near the old Klandasan Fortress. Two of the victims were then beheaded on the beach, the other 76 forced into the sea and in an execution similar to the Bangka massacre, all were shot one by one, their bodies left to drift with the tide.


The Doolittle bombing raid on Tokyo brought a retaliation against the Chinese people that staggers the imagination. On April 18, 1942, sixteen twin-engined Mitchell B-25 bombers, each carrying one ton of bombs, and led by Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle, were launched from the aircraft carrier USS Hornet. Their mission was to bomb the Japanese capital, Tokyo, and then, unable to land back on their carrier, proceed to friendly airfields in China, 1,200 miles across the East China Sea. Some of the planes reached their destination safely but the others ran out of fuel and crashed after their crews had baled out. Sixty four airmen parachuted into the area around Chekiang. Most were given shelter by the Chinese civilians but eight of the Americans were picked up by Japanese patrols and three were shot after a mock trial for 'crimes against humanity'. The Japanese army then conducted a massive search for the others and in the process whole towns and villages that were suspected of harbouring the Americans, were burned to the ground and every man, woman and child brutality murdered. When the Japanese troops moved out of the Chekiang and Kiangsu areas in mid-August, they left behind a scene of devastation and death that is beyond comprehension. Chinese estimates put the death toll at a staggering 250,000. Lt. Col. James Doolittle was later awarded the US Medal Of Honor. (The Chinese Department of Defence claims that 1,319,659 Chinese soldiers were killed between 1937 and 1945. It estimates the number of Chinese civilians killed during this period at over 30,000,000.)


While many atrocities were committed on Luzon, this one stands out for its sheer bloody mindedness. Fourteen Filipino resistance fighters surrendered to the Nippon savages after their ammunition was expended. Tied together neck to neck and with hands tied behind their backs, they were marched three miles to their place of execution. Ordered to sit down, another group of prisoners were brought in and forced to dig fourteen holes two feet wide and four and a half feet deep. When the digging finished the fourteen Filipinos, with their neck ropes removed, were forced to jump into the holes while the other group shovelled the earth back into the hole and stamped it down hard until only the head and neck of the victims were visible above ground. Their repugnant duty finished, the grave diggers were then lined up and shot in cold blood. The attention of the Japanese was now focused on the fourteen heads awaiting decapitation. A few soldiers had gone behind some bushes to defecate and after scraping together their excreta on to banana leaves they returned to the buried victims and kneeling down offered each head a last meal. Unable to move, the helpless men could only shake their head from side to side whereupon the Japanese soldiers stuffed the revolting faeces into their mouths amidst peals of laughter from their comrades. After they had their fun, the serious business of execution commenced as an officer drew his sword and with deft strokes separated the fourteen heads from the bodies. No one was ever punished for this foul deed.

THE TRUK MASSACRE (February, 1944)

During the American attack on the island of Truk in the Carolines, around 100 women, (most of them 'Comfort Women' girls forced into prostitution by the Japanese Army) took shelter in a dugout behind the Naval base where they worked. With defeat staring them in the face, the Japanese, fearing that the 'comfort women' would be an encumbrance and an embarrassment, should they fall into American hands, decided to dispose of them. During a lull in the fighting, three ensigns were sent to the dugout. Armed with machine guns, they approached to find a few women emerging from the pitch-dark interior. They were immediately shot on the spot. Entering the dugout with guns blazing, they fired randomly in the darkness. When the screams of the women had died down and only the moans of the wounded could be heard, the ensigns flicked on their torches to find around seventy bodies, drenched in blood, lying on the floor. (After the war the US occupational authorities allowed continued use of a number of these Comfort Women still alive, as prostitutes for their own GIs stationed on the island.)


American airmen shot down during bombing raids on Rabaul, New Britain, were incarcerated in a house, a former tailors shop in Chinatown, now the headquarters of the 6th Field Kempetai under the command of the Japanese Navy. On March 2nd, 1944, the house was demolished in a bombing raid. Fortunately all the prisoners had been transferred to a shelter across the road prior to the raid. While in the shelter, another seventeen prisoners were brought in bringing the total of sixty-two. (these prisoners were from the 5th, 13th Airforce and the 1st and 2nd Wing Marine Air Corps) Next day the sixty-two men were trucked out to a tunnel like cave at Tanoura, a few miles from Rabaul. Packed together in the narrow cave like sardines, they were allowed two buckets of water each day, but only after the guards had washed their dishes in it. Two days later, twenty names were called out to proceed to waiting lorries. Later, more names were called and the lorries departed. The prisoners were under the command of Warrant Officer Zenichi Wakabayashi. According to evidence given by him at the Rabaul War Crimes Trials the prisoners were told they were being transferred to a camp on Watom Island, a few miles off shore.

Assembled in a shelter on Tanoura Beach waiting for sea transport, the prisoners were subjected to a rain of bombs from eight US bombers flying high overhead. A direct hit on the shelter caused the deaths of most of the prisoners, five were seriously wounded and died a short time later. That evening, all thirty-one bodies, or parts of bodies, were cremated in a huge funeral pyre on the beach. Some of the ashes were gathered together and eventually handed over to members of the Australian Army at the end of hostilities. At the War Crimes Trial questions were asked as to why the bodies were cremated when other Allied deaths usually resulted in burial in mass graves. Why was the camp commander on Watom Island, Colonel Kahachi Ogata, never informed that prisoners were about to be transferred from the mainland? Could it be that the thirty one prisoners were deliberately massacred to ease the crowded conditions in the tunnel camp, and to hide their crime, the Japanese had the bodies burned? There is no real evidence to either of these incidents. Were the prisoners massacred or did they really fall victim to 'Friendly Fire'? In 1948, Wakabayashi was again interrogated but maintains he is telling the truth.

MURDER ON WAKE ISLAND (January 12, 1943)

The Japanese invasion of Wake Island, a small atoll some 2,000 miles west of Hawaii (area 6.5 sq kms) cost them dearly, 11 naval craft, 29 planes and around 5,700 men killed. The stubborn defence of the island by the tiny garrison of 388 US Marines and 1,200 civilians workers lasted for fourteen heroic days. On December 23, 1941, Major James P.S. Devereux of the 1st. Defence Battalion, US Marine Corps, and Commander Winfield Cunningham of the Naval Air Station, realizing that the odds were hopelessly stacked against them, called for a cease fire, raised the white flag and surrendered the island. The loss of Wake Island left the US with no base between Hawaii and the Philippines. In January, 1942, the US Marines, numbering 1,187, were herded into the cargo holds of the 17,163 ton Japanese luxury liner Nitta Maru, for transportation to Yokohama and then to Shanghai. Those left behind included the civilians and the wounded Marines. A year passed and on the night of January 12, 1943, the Japanese accused the civilians of being in secret radio communication with US naval forces. The 97 American civilians still on Wake (actually 98 but one was caught stealing food and was beheaded) were marched to the beach and there lined up with their backs to the ocean and brutally murdered by machine guns. After the war, the Japanese commander on Wake, Rear Admiral Shigematsu Sakaibara, and eleven of his officers, were sentenced to death by a US Naval Court at Kwajalein. Sakaibara was transported to Guam to await his fate. There, on 19 June 1947, he was executed by hanging. The murdered civilian P.O.W.s were later buried in Honolulu Memorial, Hawaii.


An island in the Marianas group and a US territory since 1898. Invaded by a Japanese naval force on December 10, 1941, three days after Pearl Harbor, it was the first US territory to be captured in WW11. In less than twenty four hours the US Garrison of 540 men was forced to surrender. Now under Japanese control for the next thirty two months, the islanders suffered unimaginative cruelties in which thousands died. On July 15, 1944, residents of the town of Merizo were rounded up and 25 men and 5 women (all schoolteachers) were selected form the group and taken to a cave in the nearby hills and murdered by hand grenades thrown into the opening. Fifteen victims survived by pretending to be dead. Another massacre occurred next day at the nearby Faha Caves when a group of 31 men were killed in similar circumstances but in this case no one survived. Many such killings took place during the Japanese occupation. In the town of Sumay, all residents were evicted from their homes  while the Japanese troops moved in. During the move, 5 young women were raped. Some houses were requisitioned for brothels to allow 'Comfort Girls' a place to live and work while servicing the troops. Most of the male population were used as slaves, constructing airstrips and Pillboxes and such. When US forces retook the island on July 21, 1944, they found, in Yigo, 51 mutilated bodies and  the beheaded bodies of another 30 men were found in the back of a truck. A total of 14,704 residents of Guam, all bearing the scars of war, survived the Japanese occupation.


In November, 1942, six hundred British P.O.W.s were marched from their prison at Changi to the docks at Singapore to board a 6,500 ton cargo ship. On November 5 the ship entered Simpson Harbour at Rabaul, New Britain. The P.O.W.s were transferred to Kokopo to start building a new airstrip. Three weeks later, 517 of the prisoners were shipped to a camp on Ballalae Island in the Solomon's, there to start work on another airstrip for the Japanese. One prisoner died en route. The 82 men left behind at Kokopo were very badly treated by their captors. Kicked, beaten, punched, thrashed and clubbed on a daily basis they were soon in a terrible state. Gravely ill with dysentery, malaria and berri-berri, they soon succumbed to death and by the end of February, 1945, only 57 were still alive. By April, only 21 of the original 82 were alive. Some had developed diphtheria scrotum which, because of a vitamin deficiency, causes the testicles to swell to the size of pineapples. Eventually the 21 sick prisoners were transferred to the Watom Island camp where they were made to dig tunnels to be used by the Japanese as air-raid shelters. Soon two more died and on September 6, 1945, when 89,291 Japanese military and civilian men and women surrendered to the Allies, the 18 survivors were freed and boarded the destroyer HMAS Vendetta for a hospital on Lae, then on to Australia and home.

The surrender of Japanese forces in Rabaul and surrounding islands was formally signed on board the British aircraft carrier HMS Glory (Captain W. Buzzard) anchored off Rabaul on September 6, 1945. Meanwhile, on Ballalae Island, the prisoners suffered the same horrendous conditions as those at Kokopo. Sadly, not a single one of the 516 prisoners survived the war. In 1943, after the island was captured by the 3rd New Zealand Division, natives revealed that hundreds of P.O.W.s were killed during an Allied bombing raid and when the airstrip was completed at the end of March, 1943, the remaining prisoners were lined up and executed by bayonet and sword. In December, 1945, an Australian War Graves unit exhumed 436 bodies from one mass grave and re-interred the remains in the Bomama War Cemetery at Port Moresby. A total of 188 War Crimes Trials were held at Rabaul after the war. The courts sentenced 93 Japanese war criminals to death, 78 were hanged and 15 were shot by firing squad.


The Mitsubishi built destroyer Akikaze (Lt. Cdr. Sabe Tsurukichi) was ordered to sail to Wewak in New Guinea to remove some German residents who were suspected of using radio transmitters to report ship movements to the Americans. Forty civilians were rounded up, most of them German clergymen, plus a few nuns with two children. About thirty more civilians were picked up when the ship stopped at Manus Island before proceeding to Rabaul. En-route, Captain Tsurukichi received a radio message from the 8th Fleet Headquarters to dispose of all neutrals on board. On the aft deck a wooden scaffold was erected and a sheet hung across the deck to shield the executions from the rest of the prisoners. One by one the victims were led from their cabins, interrogated and blindfolded and taken to the rear of the ship. There, they were hung on the scaffold by the wrists from a rope and pulley and as their feet cleared the deck they were shot by a four man rifle party. Their bodies were then thrown overboard. The two children were taken from the arms of the nuns and thrown into the water. The men were killed first then the women, the whole procedure lasting three hours. At around 10 o'clock in the evening the Akikaze berthed at Rabaul.


Japanese forces occupied the British controlled Andaman Islands. They met no resistance from the local population but within hours the 'Sons of Heaven' started an orgy of looting, raping and murder. Unbelievable orgies were perpetrated in the towns and villages with women and young girls forcibly raped and young boys sodomized. In Port Blair, eight high-ranking Indian officials were tortured then buried up to their chests in pits they were forced to dig. Their chests, heads and eyes were then prodded with bayonets after which the pit was sprayed with bullets until the helpless victims were all dead. The Director of Health and President of the Indian Independence League, Diwan Singh, was arrested and nearly 2,000 of his Peace Committee associates incarcerated in the local jail and subjected to the water treatment, electric shocks and other unspeakable forms of torture for eighty-two days. Those left alive were then taken out to the country and shot and buried. After the massacre the Japanese resorted to a reign of terror, women were abducted and taken to the officers club to be raped by the officer elite. A shipload of Korean girls was brought in to participate in this 'sport'. During the three and a half years of Japanese occupation, out of the 40,000 population of Port Blair around 30,000 were brutally murdered. The small islands of the Andamans were left a scene of utter devastation. This was Japan's way of helping India get her freedom from British rule.


A few miles outside the city of Tacloban, the principle city on the island of Leyte in the Philippines, was a prisoner-of-war camp for Allied soldiers. In charge of the prisoners was a senior British officer, Major Cumyns. Considered by the inmates as a strict disciplinarian, arrogant and conceited who used every opportunity to advance his own creature comforts and at the same time to endear himself to the good graces of the Camp Commandant, Captain Yoshishito. In the camp were 44 British and 120 Australian prisoners-of war plus one solitary American. On Christmas Eve, 1943, four Australians made a desperate attempt to escape. Hunted down, with the help of Major Cumyns, the four were eventually captured. Next morning, Christmas Day, the four Aussies were beheaded in front of the assembled prisoners. Hatred towards Major Cumyns spilled over in the hearts of the Australians and around midnight that night a small group of Australian prisoners crept into Cumyns' hut while he slept, slipped a leather cord around his neck and strangled him to death. From then on the British P.O.W.s refused to have anything to do with their Aussie mates. On the 20th of October, 1944, units of the United States 6th Army liberated Leyte and the P.O.W. camp. There were 120 survivors in the camp who were eventually shipped to Brisbane, Australia. Interrogated by officers of the Judge Advocates Office regarding the death of Major Cumyns, the full story came to light. Nothing came of the inquiry, the whole episode was covered up by the British and Australian governments.

MASSACRE ON ANDAMAN (August 14, 1945)

Situated midway between the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean, lie the tranquil Andaman Islands. As the food shortage became acute during the last month of the war, the Japanese occupiers decided to exterminate all those who were no longer useful or employable. All were deprived of their personal possessions and household goods before being embarked on three boats. About two kilometres from the shore of the uninhabited Havelock Island they were forced to jump into the sea and swim to the beach. Most of them, around a hundred, drowned on the way and those who made it were abandoned to die of starvation. Of the original 300 who landed only eleven were alive six weeks later. The next day, 800 Indian civilians were rounded up and transported to another uninhabited island, Tarmugli. Transferred to the island in small boats, they wandered aimlessly on the beach waiting for further orders. Soon, a detachment of 19 Japanese troops arrived and what followed was one of the most heinous crimes in the annals of the Pacific war. It took the detachment just over an hour to slaughter all but two of the 800 victims by shooting and bayoneting. Next day, August 15, 1945, the day of the Japanese surrender, a burial detail of troops arrived to remove all traces of the massacre. Within twenty-four hours all 798 bodies were collected and burned in funeral pyres until only fragmented bones and ashes remained. The ashes were then buried in deep pits dug on the beach. In a gross miscarriage of justice, the Japanese officer responsible was sentenced to only two years in prison by a British Military Court.

MASSACRE ON PALAWAN (December 14, 1944)

One hundred and fifty American prisoners of war, were incarcerated in a P.O.W. enclosure situated on top of the cliffs overlooking the Bay of Puerto Princesa on the island of Palawan in the Philippines. While working on the construction of an airfield they were made to dig three trenches 150ft long and 4ft 6ins deep within the camp. They were told that the trenches were air-raid shelters and practice drills were carried out. The shelters were small and cramped, the prisoners sitting bunched up with their knees under their chins. When an American convoy was sighted heading for Mindoro an air-raid alarm was sounded. The Japanese guards, thinking the island was about to be invaded, herded the prisoners into the covered trenches and then proceeded to pour buckets of petrol into the entrances followed by a lighted torch to ignite the gasoline. As the prisoners stormed the exists, their cloths on fire, they were mown down by light machine-gun fire or bayoneted, shot or clubbed.

Dozens managed to get through the barbed wire fence and tumble down the fifty foot high cliff to the water's edge only to be shot at by a Japanese manned landing barge which was patrolling the shore. Only five survived by swimming across the bay and reaching the safety of a Filipino guerrilla camp. One prisoner, who tried to swim the bay, was re-captured and brought back to the beach. There, he suffered the agony of having petrol poured on his foot and set alight. His screams delighted the guards who then deliberately set fire to his other foot while at the same time prodding and stabbing his body with bayonets until he collapsed. His body was then doused with petrol and cremated. His remains, and the bodies of the other dead on the beach, were then buried in the sand. US Forces captured Puerto Princesa on February 28, 1945, and weeks later discovered 79 skeletons within the enclosure. They were given a proper burial by the men of 601 Quartermaster Company of the US Army. In all, 145 Americans had died.


When the Allies capitulated to the Japanese in East Java in 1942, around two hundred Allied soldiers took to the hills around Malang and formed themselves into groups of resistance fighters. Eventually they were rounded up by the Kempetai. The captured soldiers were squeezed into three foot long bamboo pig baskets and transported in five open lorries, under a broiling 38 degree sun, to a rail siding and then transferred in open railway goods wagons to the coast. (Eye witness to this transfer was a 15 year old girl, Elizabeth Van Kempen, who witnessed this while standing together with her father, on a nearby ridge of the mountain Semeru. They could plainly hear the prisoners screaming for help and water. Miss Kempen's father was later killed by the Kempetai at Malang on March 25, 1945, for hiding weapons and ammunition. (Elizabeth Kempen now lives, as of 2004, in Tilburg, Holland)

Half dead from thirst and cramp, the captives were carried on board waiting boats which then sailed out to the shark infested waters off the coast of Surabaya. There, the unfortunate prisoners, still enclosed in their bamboo cages, were thrown overboard to the waiting man-eaters. The commander in chief of Japanese forces in Java, General Imamura, was later acquitted of this atrocity in a Netherlands court for lack of evidence. A subsequent Australian Military Court found General Imamura responsible and handed down a sentence of ten years imprisonment.


British paratroopers, operating with the Burmese guerrillas, were the object of a search and destroy mission by the 3rd. Battalion, 215 Regiment of the Japanese 33rd. Division, in June 1945. Believing that the paratroopers were operating with the help of the local inhabitants, the 3rd. Battalion, accompanied by a detachment of the Kempei Tai, surrounded the village of Kalagon near Tenasserim, Burma. By 4pm all the inhabitants were rounded up, the men confined in the local mosque, the women and children locked up in adjoining buildings. That evening, eight of the younger women were taken out by the Kempei Tai and brought to their headquarters for the pleasure of their own officers. They were never seen again. The next morning, a conference was held and orders given to destroy the village and all the inhabitants to be killed. The massacre began that same morning, the villagers being taken out in batches of five to ten, blindfolded and then bayoneted or shot. Their bodies were then thrown down a number of deep wells around the village and as the wells filled up the bodies were pounded down with bamboo poles to make more space for the next batch of victims. In this way the 3rd Battalion disposed of around 600 bodies. Two victims who miraculously escaped, were to give evidence at the trial of the battalion commander and thirteen others before a British Military Court held in Burma after the war. Their plea of 'superior orders' and 'military necessity' was not accepted by the court.

LOA KULU MASSACRE (July 30, 1945)

After surrendering to overwhelming numbers of Japanese troops, around one hundred members of the Netherlands East Indies Army were disarmed and for a while permitted restricted freedom in the town of Samarinda, in Borneo, where most of the soldiers lived with their families. Early on the morning of July 30, all prisoners, including their families, were rounded up and taken before a Japanese officer who summarily sentenced them all to death. No reason was given as they were bundled into lorries and taken to Loa Kulu just outside the town. There they had their hands tied behind their backs and as the men and children watched, the women were systematically cut to pieces with swords and bayonets until they all died. The screaming children were then seized and hurled alive down a 600 foot deep mine shaft. The men captives, forced to kneel and witness the butchery of their wives and children, and suffering the most indescribable mental torture, were then lined up for execution by beheading. When the grisly ritual was over, the bloodied corpses and severed heads of the 144 men were then thrown down the mine shaft on top of their murdered wives and children. The horror of Loa Kulu was discovered by Australian troops who had earlier started a search for the missing Dutch soldiers.


After the Pacific war ended, Holland made a major effort to regain her lost territories, in the Netherland East Indies (Indonesia). When the Dutch Colonial Army took over the area they found around 2,000 Japanese soldiers still on the island. They had stayed behind to help Indonesia gain her independence in case Japan lost the war. In the first nine days of the reoccupation the Dutch soldiers brutally murdered 236 Japanese soldiers in retaliation for the treatment they (the Dutch) had received in Japanese prisoner-of-war camps. Hundreds who were not killed were interned in slave labour camps in Timor and Java where they tried to recreate the same atmosphere as in the Japanese P.O.W. camps. There the Japanese soldiers were tortured and beaten to death when they could no longer work. In a short time the death toll had risen to over 1,000. Those prisoners who survived the retaliation were set free to find their own way back to Japan. Holland and Japan have since exchanged apologies for each other's cruel behaviour towards the prisoners in their care. (In the Netherlands East Indies, now Indonesia, 26,233 Dutch nationals perished between 1942 and 1945 during the Japanese occupation.)


In the port of Cheribon in northern Java, a Japanese submarine took on board ninety civilian prisoners. All were European and included women and children. As dusk fell on that day in late July, the submarine set sail. It travelled on the surface, the ninety prisoners standing outside on deck. From the top of the conning tower two machine guns, aimed fore and aft, could be plainly seen. Fearing the worst, many of the women started crying but were helpless to do anything. Clinging to each other for stability in the gently rolling sea, the ninety captives waited and prayed. After about an hour the submarine suddenly slowed and dived without warning. The machine guns were never used. Swept off the deck as the ship slid beneath the sea the prisoners faced their worst nightmare. Schools of sharks attacked the screaming mass of humanity as men women and children were torn to pieces in a feeding frenzy. There was only one survivor who, minus an arm and right foot to the sharks, stayed alive long enough to be picked up by three Javanese fishermen. After relating his story he lost consciousness through loss of blood and died from his injuries a short time later. His body was then committed back to the sea. The three fishermen were fully aware of their fate should they return to port with the body of an European who was supposed to disappear. After the war this atrocity was reported to the authorities but as all naval files and records of ship movements had been destroyed by the Japanese, the identity of the submarine and its crew was never established.


Directly in the path of the invading Japanese hordes lay the Princess Alexandria Hospital in Singapore. Guarded by a detachment of Ghurka troops they were ordered by a Japanese officer to lay down their arms. The Ghurka NCO replied that this was not a military target but a civilian hospital. Angered by their refusal to disarm, the Japanese officer ordered his men to seize and kill two dozen of the Ghurkha guards. This order was promptly carried out and the Nippon soldiers then entered the hospital. The wholesale slaughter which followed defies description, sick and dying patients being butchered in their beds. Some were just shot, others clubbed and bayoneted and not a few were beheaded by the sword. A number of the victims were survivors from the Prince of Wales and Repulse. The scene of carnage resembled an abattoir, disembowelled patients sprawled everywhere. Doctors and medical orderlies were then killed as were the nurses who were first raped in a most brutal fashion. A similar atrocity occurred in Manila when the Headquarters of the Filipino Red Cross in General Luna street was captured. Some seventy civilians, sick patients and a number of children were put to death in the same brutal and sadistic way. In Burma, on the afternoon of February 7, 1944 an Advance Field Hospital was overrun by the Japanese who first wiped out the protective guard of West Yorkshires then killed every doctor and medical orderly they could find. The sick and wounded were massacred where they lay after their personal possessions were stolen. In all, thirty-one patients, nine orderlies and four doctors were brutally put to death. After the Japanese takeover the city was renamed 'Shonan'.


Collectively known as the 'Chinese Massacres', this peaceful city was subjected to acts of savagery, in many cases beyond anything the Nazis had dished out. The soldiers of Nippon had but one thing on their minds in Singapore, to exterminate the entire Chinese population of this great city. Reliable estimates put the final number killed at between nine and twelve thousand. After interrogation by the Kempetai they were obliged to hand over all their personal possessions, rings, watches, jewellery, money etc. before being forced on to captured British lorries and driven to the Tanjong Pagar Wharf where most were beheaded or bayoneted. Others were roped together and taken on barges out to sea where they were thrown overboard. The slaughter continued for twelve successive days as boats from Singapore Harbour brought even more Chinese civilians to the execution site.

In the Geylang district, thousands of Chinese were herded into the grounds of the Teluk Kurau English School. Altogether, 3,600 persons were then interrogated by the Kempe Tai. In groups of two hundred, they were taken by truck to the crest of a hill off Siglap Road and there they were killed by shooting, beheading or bayoneting. All but one of the Teluk Kurau School victims, perished. In another massacre, seven hundred Chinese were taken to an area just east of Changi and murdered in the most disgusting manner. Their headless bodies were then thrown into already dug mass graves. The victims heads were piled up on the back of a waiting lorry and carted away. Next morning, the sight that greeted the Singaporean was something that they will never forget. Everywhere, mounted on the tips of long bamboo stakes, were the severed heads of murdered Chinese. The first heads to appear on spikes were eight Chinese looters caught red-handed by the military just after the occupation began. After the war, a British Military Court sentenced the commanding general of Japanese troops in Singapore, Lt. Gen. Takuma Nishimura, to life imprisonment, but at a later trial for other crimes, an Australian Military Court handed down a death sentence. He was hanged on June 11, 1951. The hybird word 'Genocide' was first coined by Professor Raphael Lemkin during the Nuremberg Trials and used notably by Sir Hartley Shawcross the British Prosecutor. The word combines the Greek 'genos'  (race, tribe, community) with the Latin suffix 'cide' (killing).


Every criminal act known to man was inflicted on Chinese civilians by the soldiers of Nippon during their occupation of Manchuria. Indiscriminate killings, beheadings, bayoneting of live victims and the vicious raping of tens of thousands of women and young girls, were the order of the day. Living with this constant terror and barbarity the civilian population could offer but little opposition. However, on August 19, 1945, four days after the surrender, a civilian group managed to capture twenty six Japanese soldiers and executed them near the town of Hankow in north-east China. Four of them were beheaded, four were tied to posts and shot through the back of the head, another four had their arms and legs broken and then crudely amputated, four more were found minus hands and feet and had their genitals stuffed into their mouths. The remaining ten had their eyes gouged out and then bayoneted to death. In this act of reprisal, the past methods of killing by the "Sons of Heaven" had been copied to the letter.


On the 23rd of December, fifteen American prisoners of war, who were too sick to work, were taken from their prison cells and driven to the outskirts of San Fernando, Pampanga, in the Philippines. There, in a small cemetery, a hole fifteen square feet was dug. Guards from the truck then took up positions around the hole. One by one, the P.O.W.s were brought to the edge of the hole and ordered to kneel. They were then bayoneted and decapitated. After the war, the guard commander, Lt. Junsabura Toshino, was brought to trial, sentenced to death and hanged.


Sandakan, the prison compound in British North Borneo (now Sabah) held 2,434 Australian and British P.O.W.s, captured when Singapore fell. They were transported in a decrepit tramp steamer, the Yubi Maru, to Sandakan to help build a military airstrip for the Japanese. When their labour was no longer required, they were confined to the prison compound where they slowly died from starvation, disease and brutalities. As the Allies approached the islands, over 1,000 prisoners, still alive, were force marched in groups of 50 to another camp in the jungle near the village of Ranau, about 120 miles away. The 291 prisoners, including 288 stretcher cases, who were too sick to march and left behind at Sandakan, were massacred soon after, many dying after undergoing diabolical torture. In June, 1945, of the 455 prisoners that left Sandakan for Ranau on the first march, only 140 reached Ranau alive, the remainder had died or were shot during the march. Prisoners were shot out of hand, their bodies littering the route. On the second inhumane death march, 536 P.O.W.s left Sandakan but only 189 were still alive when they reached their destination, 142 of these were Australians.

Another march, the third, consisting of 75 prisoners and about 100 Japanese guards, left Sandakan on July 10 on the different northern route but none of the prisoners or guards arrived at Ranau. The mystery remains to this day. Did they all fall victim to the many hostile blowpipe tribes that inhabited the area? During their short stay at Ranau, four Australians managed to escape, another two escaped during the actual march, the rest were either shot or died from exhaustion, or illnesses such as malaria, beriberi, and dysentery. Of the six escapees, three died later and only three from the original 2,434 were alive to bear witness at the War Crimes Trials which followed at Rabaul and Tokyo in 1946 in which fourteen Japanese officers, convicted of war crimes in Borneo, were executed. (The last of the three escapees, Owen Campbell, died in Adelaide on July 3, 2003, aged 87) Captain Hoshijima Susumu, the Sandakan prison commandant was found guilty and hanged at Rabaul on April 6, 1946. Altogether, 1,381 Australian prisoners-of-war died at Sandakan in the most heinous atrocity of the Japanese against Australian troops in the entire Pacific war. Of the British prisoners, 641 had died. The 4,000 imported Javanese slave labourers who worked on the airstrip, less than half a dozen were alive at wars end yet their fate is hardly mentioned in history books. Only 25 Australians escaped from Japanese prison camps to come home again to their homeland. These escapes were from Borneo and Ambon. Around the same number escaped but were recaptured and executed. The number of deaths during the Sandakan marches were four times greater than the Americans who died during the Bataan Death Marches.

Today, the Sandakan War Memorial Park, with its two Australian memorials, is beautifully laid out on the former site of the notorious prison camp.


The code name for the rescue operation planned to liberate the Australian and British prisoners of war confined at Sandakan. In the planning stage for months under the direction of Australian General Sir Thomas Blamey and the Special Reconnaissance Department (SRD) the operation was bungled from the start owing to ineptitude, incompetence, petty jealousies and lack of decision making. The egosticistical US General Douglas MacArthur (not very popular in Australia) nevertheless gave it his unqualified support, but history has wrongly blamed MacArthur who became the scapegoat for Kingfisher's failure. Blamey stated that aircraft and ships were not available for the rescue operation, that MacArthur needed them for 'other purposes' (no doubt, the proposed invasion of Japan). After thirty years the Kingfisher files were released for public access. They show that the RAAF had a pool of around 40 Dakota DC-3s and B24 Liberators in hand and that only 30 were needed for the paratroop assault on Sandakan for which 800 paratroops had trained in the Atherton Tablelands in Queensland. (although they were never told for what purpose) After months of planning, the rescue operation never took place and so, 2,428 Australian and British P.O.W.s died.

When the war ended, 14,526 Australian P.O.W.s were liberated from Japanese prison camps. The Allied occupation of Japan formally ended on September 8, 1951.


On April 9, 1942, US Major General Edward P. King, commander of the Bataan Garrison on Luzon, formally surrendered his troops to the Japanese invaders commanded by General Homma. After four hard months of combat, the troops were now exhausted, low on ammunition, low on food (most of their meat ration coming from horses, mules, caribou and water buffalo) and many suffering from malaria, dysentery and other diseases. The American and Filipino defenders of Bataan were now in no condition to continue the struggle. It was near the town of Mariveles in the southern tip of the Bataan Peninsula that the infamous Bataan Death March began on April 10, 1942. Each morning, in groups of several hundred, the prisoners were herded on to the main road that led north to Camp O'Donnell their first prison camp, about ten days and sixty miles away. Hungry and thirsty, sick and tired, it was every man for himself, few helped one another. If anyone fell behind he was shot, bayoneted or beheaded and their bodies left in full view of the following column. Between Mariveles and Cabcaben the column of prisoners was shelled by their own guns on Corregidor. A few days and 100 kilometres further on, the first column arrived at San Fernando where they were forced into railroad boxcars. Packed like sardines, suffocating in the summer heat, and those suffering from dysentery defecating on each other, many died 'standing up'. Four hours later they detrained at Capas and were forced to march the remaining ten kilometres to Camp O'Donnell.

Around 9,300 Americans survived the Death March, between 600 and 650 died or were killed on the way. The Filipino prisoners, numbering around 45,000, arrived at the camp after completing the March, about five thousand had lost their lives during the March. The first forty days at Camp O'Donnell  saw the deaths of around 1,500 more Americans and by the end of July at least another 20,000 Filipinos had died. On June 6, 1942, the surviving Filipino prisoners were granted complete amnesty and released. The extremely high death rate, the highest of any P.O.W. camp anywhere, compelled the Japanese to move most of the prisoners to another camp at Cabanatuan, north of O'Donnell. It was at Cabanatuan that the Death March survivors met up with their fellow countrymen captured on Corregidor and who fortunately did not participate in the March but had suffered the humiliation of being marched through the main streets of Manila in front of thousands of Filipinos who had been ordered out to watch the procession. After the fighting on Corregidor, some American P.O.W.s were forced to do a most distasteful duty. Divided into work parties they were ordered to cut the right hand off every Japanese soldier found dead. Some bodies had been lying in the hot sun for days. The dead bodies were then burned and the hands cremated, the ashes placed in small urns to be returned to their families in Japan.

The striking memorial, built on the site of the Cabanatuan Prisoner of War Camp on Luzon, includes a Wall of Honour on which are inscribed the names of around 3,000 Americans, many of them survivors of the Death March, who died at Cabanatuan. On the night of January 30, 1945, a secret raid was organized to free the remaining prisoners at Cabanatuan. A team of US Army Rangers, Alamo Scouts and Filipino guerrillas attacked the camp and liberated 517 prisoners. The raiding teams suffered only three fatalities the Japanese around 1,275.


Towards the end of the Pacific War, the execution of captured Allied aircrews became almost automatic. Courts-martial were dispensed with on orders from the Military Police Headquarters. In the Tokai Military District, twenty-seven airmen were executed by firing squad, but often, less humane methods were used. In the Japanese Army Prison in Tokyo all the buildings were built of wood and into this prison were crammed 464 Japanese soldiers serving sentences. Also confined in the prison were 62 American airmen who earlier were shot down and captured. During the night of May 25, 1945, Tokyo was heavily bombed by the US Air Force and the prison was hit by incendiaries. In the conflagration which followed, all the 62 airmen were burned to death. A significant factor in this incident was that none of the Japanese prisoners or any of the prison guards suffered a similar fate. The failure of the Japanese to release the 62 flyers could only have been deliberate.


After a bombing mission over southern Japan on May 5, 1945, the crew of a B-29 bomber had to bale out after being rammed by a Japanese suicide plane. The B-29 crashed near the town of Takete. After landing, the crew were taken into custody and transported to Kyushu University in Fukuoka about one hundred miles north of Nagasaki. In the university's anatomy department they were subjected to the most horrible medical experiments imaginable. One prisoner was shot in the stomach so that Japanese surgeons could get practice at removing bullets. Amputations on legs and arms were practiced while the victims were still alive. One was injected with sea water in an experiment to find out if sea water could be substituted for saline solution. One badly wounded American, thinking he was going to be treated for his wound, was anaesthetized and woke up to find that one of his lungs had been removed. He died shortly after. Others had part of the liver removed to see if they could still live. Only one airman, the pilot of the B-29, Captain Marvin Watkins, was taken to Tokyo for interrogation but survived the war. The other eight all died at Fukuoka. After the war, twenty three doctors and hospital staff were arrested, tried and found guilty on various charges by the Allied War Crimes Trials held at Yokohama. Five were sentenced to death, the others to terms of imprisonment. When the Korean war started in June, 1950, General Douglas MacArthur reduced most of the sentences. The death sentences were never carried out. All were released by 1958. This was the only instance where Americans were used in bizarre medical experiments in WWII, except perhaps at Mukden.


On quite a number of instances, massacres have taken place at sea. In the Atlantic, on March 13, 1944, the Greek registered freighter SS Peleus was torpedoed and sunk by the U-852 (KL Heinz-Wilhelm Eck) Survivors on the life rafts were machine-gunned while other submarine crew members threw hand grenades into the rafts. Thirty two of the survivors were killed, only three were alive when rescued. Eck and three of his crew were sentenced to death by the War Crimes Court in Hamburg and on November 30, 1945, were shot. On the merchant ship Daisy Moller, 53 of her crew were machine-gunned to death by the crew of the Japanese submarine RO-110 on March 18, 1944, after the submarine had rammed the lifeboats. Only 16 crew members survived. The Nancy Moller, en route from Durban to Colombo, sunk by the I-165 on March 18, 1944. Thirty two of the crew were killed by pistol and machine-gun fire. The SS Ascot sank on February 29, 1944, after being torpedoed by a Japanese submarine in the Indian Ocean. Survivors were machine-gunned on the rafts and in the water. Of the 52 crew who had abandoned ship, only eight survived.

The American Liberty ship Jean Nicolet, was torpedoed on July 2, 1944, while en route from Fremantle to Colombo. Her complement of 100 were taken on board the foredeck of the Japanese submarine I-8 and one by one led to the stern of the vessel where they had to run a gauntlet of Japanese sailors who beat them with clubs, iron bars and bayonets before being kicked or pushed into the sea. While squatting on the forward deck waiting their turn, the remaining survivors were washed overboard when the submarine submerged. Of the 100 passengers and crew of the Jean Nicolet only 23 survived to tell the tale. Similar atrocities were perpetrated on the survivors of the tanker British Chivalry (February 22, 1944) sunk by the I-37. Survivors in two lifeboats were machine-gunned, killing 20 crewmembers, the rest drifted for thirty-seven days before being rescued.

The Dutch ship Tjisalak (March 26, 1944) torpedoed in the Indian ocean by the Japanese submarine I-8. A total of 98 crew and passengers (including some British subjects) were massacred by sword and spanners used as clubs by the submarine's crew. Only five survived the massacre. The MV Sutley (February 26, 1944) and the SS John A Johnson (October 29, 1944) both of whose survivors were fired upon while clinging to rafts. The SS Mellore, a British ship en route from Australia to Bombay with general cargo, torpedoed by the I-8 on June 29, 1944. Of the 209 passengers and crew, 79 were killed. During an operation in the Indian Ocean, ships of the Japanese South-West Area Fleet sunk the British motor vessel Behar on 18th March, 1944. Seventy-two of her survivors, including twenty-seven Europeans and forty-five Indians, were taken on board the Japanese cruiser Tone whose captain had received orders to 'dispose of all prisoners'. The prisoners were hit in the stomach with rifle butts or kicked in the testicles and as they lay squirming on the deck, were then beheaded. The American freighter David H. Atwater, sunk by the U-552 (Kptlt. Erich Topp) off the coast of Virginia on April 2, 1942, the crew were machined-gunned as they took to the lifeboats. Only three of the 27 crew survived the massacre. The crew of the German destroyer Erich Giese, sunk during the Battle for Narvik, swimming desperately in the water, were fired upon by British destroyers trying to prevent them reaching shore and joining up with German troops already there. The British cargo ship Kwantung sunk by the I-156 south of Java was carrying 96 crew and some 40 military personnel. Machine-gunned while in the lifeboats, only 35 survived to be rescued.

Savage deeds were committed by all armies and navies during World War II but only when committed by Germans or Japanese were they classed as war crimes by the Allies.

DEATH ON RAMREE ISLAND (February 19, 1945)

Twelve miles off the coast of Burma (Myanmar) lies the fifty by twenty mile wide island of Ramree. In the capture of the island by the British 4th, 26th, 36th and 71st Indian Brigades, RAF and Navy Task Force units, the Japanese occupiers were driven into the sweltering and fetid central area of mangrove swamps. In the thick impenetrable forest of the swamp, the 900 or so Japanese soldiers, many suffering from tropical diseases, were trapped in deep black mud, infested with scorpions, millions of mosquitoes and worst of all, salt water crocodiles. Those trying to escape the swamps were shot down by Royal Navy marines. In spite of calls to give themselves up, they refused. With no food or drinking water hundreds died within days. Many were taken by the crocodiles. The capture of Ramree Island officially ended on February 22, 1945. In the end only about twenty Japanese survived, all too badly wounded even to commit hari-kari.


On August 8, 1945, the Soviet Union declared war on Japan. Having extracted their terrible revenge on Germany, they were now fired by a desire to punish Japan, the second instigator of World War II. Aided by the Mongolian Peoples Republic Army, they attacked the Japanese Kwantung Army in northern Manchuria. The fighting was ferocious and vengeful, the Nippon soldiers attacking in hordes, arms linked, into a withering fire of machine gun bullets. Many, armed with explosives, threw themselves under the tanks of the advancing Red Army at the same time shouting their Emperors name. The few soldiers who were captured showed no hesitation in committing hara-kiri by exploding hidden grenades and at the same time killing many of their captors. The Soviet and Mongolian soldiers unfortunate enough to be captured by the Japanese, faced a swift and terrible death. Their bodies were mutilated, eyes gouged out and genitals removed before decapitation. The Red Army suffered 8,219 killed and over 22,000 wounded. The Kwantung Army lost 7,483 killed and around 70,000 wounded. When the northern Kwantung Army laid down its arms and surrendered, Stalin took his revenge. The 640,000 prisoners, including 148 generals, were transported to Siberia and there put to work on forced labour projects. Some 62,000 of these prisoners died while in Soviet captivity. During the war (1937-1945) Japanese military losses were 1,140,429 killed in action in all theatres.

PINGFAN (1945)

When Russia invaded Manchuria in 1945, the Japanese Government ordered that Pingfan (the Japanese experimental Biological and Germ Warfare Centre in occupied Manchuria) be destroyed. This complex was established by General Shiro Ichii and an Imperial prince and cousin of Emperor Hirohito. The documentation authorizing the building of this establishment, which occupied an area of six square kilometres, carried the Imperial Seal of the Emperor. Prisoners in the holding cells were first killed and all Chinese and Manchurian slave labourers who were forced to work in the complex were then machined-gunned to death. About 600 were killed this way, the bodies of the victims cremated in three large ovens the same way as those used in the Nazi death camps, and their ashes then dumped into the nearby Sungari River. The whole Pingfan complex was then blown up before the Russians arrived. Pingfan had 4,500 flea breeding machines which produced 100 million infected fleas every few days. These fleas, infected with plague, typhoid, cholera and anthrax organisms, were to be dropped on the invasion troops in a last ditch effort to win the war. Most of these plague-infected fleas was purposely released before the complex was destroyed. North-eastern China immediately became a disaster area and at least 30,000 people died over the next three years from plague and other diseases.


About 350 miles from Pingfan (the Germ Warfare Complex in Manchuria) was the prisoner of war camp at Mukden where 1,485 American, British and Australian P.O.W.s were sent in November, 1942. The American prisoners arrived in terrible shape via the hell-ship Totori Maru and suffering from all sorts of diseases contacted during their imprisonment at Camp O'Donnell  and Cabanatuan. In August, 1942, around 1,500 men from Cabanatuan boarded the Totori Maru and sailed for Pusan in Korea. From Pusan they boarded a train destined for Mukden, Manchuria. There were two camps at Mukden, one at Hoten and the other at Hsien, the later holding the higher ranking Allied prisoners who were to be used as hostages in the event of an Allied invasion of Japan. The prisoners at Hoten were put to work producing parts for Japanese aircraft and tanks at the MKK factory. The deaths incurred here were due to neglect, disease, hunger, Japanese brutality and accidental bombing by US aircraft on December 7, 1944 when 19 P.O.W.s were killed and 54 wounded. By November, 1943, a total of 84 British, 16 Australians and a large number of US servicemen had perished.

 It is estimated that around 60,000 prisoners, including Chinese and Manchurian slave labourers, lost their lives at Pingfan and Mukden. Chemical and biological experimental Units 731 and 100 of the Germ Warfare Complex were situated at Pingfan. It was here that Chinese and Manchurian nationals were experimented upon. It is not known exactly how many Allied P.O.W.s were subjected to these experiments but their numbers were relatively small. The terrible experiences suffered by prisoners at Pingfan and Mukden, has been, for over forty years, one of the best kept secrets of the Second World War. With the exception of one or two, none of the Japanese scientists and doctors at Mukden or Pingfan were ever brought to trial, owing to a deal done with the USA, through General Douglas MacArthur, in which it offered immunity from war crimes in exchange for scientific data acquired at Mukden and Pingfan to give the US some germ warfare advantage over the communist Soviet Union. Unit 731s records were moved to US military research centre at Fort Dietrich in Maryland and today are still classified Top Secret. After repeated requests by war crime investigators for authority to arrest General Ishii and the Imperial Prince Takamatus (Emperor Hirohito's cousin) the requests were denied by MacArthur. After the war these men, about thirty five of them, held top positions in Japanese medical and scientific institutions. General Ishii died of throat cancer in 1959.

The combined figure of British and American prisoners of war who died while in Japanese captivity, totalled 24,969. Over 22,000 Australians were prisoners of the Japanese. Of these, 8,296 died while in captivity. Of the Australians who ended up in German P.O.W. camps, 265 died in captivity. Allied POWs in Germany died at rate of 1.2%. Throughout  the Pacific area they died at the rate of 37%.


By the year 2002, Germany had paid out 102 billion Deutschmarks in restitution and compensation to the victims of the Nazi regime. Germany has largely faced up to its legal and moral obligations and admitted its guilt. Not so Japan. Denying its wholesale massacres and thieving by its moronic hordes, the Japanese Government officials hide behind their bland smiles and polite bows and think 'Japan Number One, other countries Number Ten'. No other nation in the world imposes such a distorted view of history on its schoolchildren. For over fifty years, Japan has denied its abuses of Human Rights and refuses to pay any compensation to its victims, especially the survivors of its 250,000 sex slave program. (At this moment a few survivors are fighting for compensation in the Japanese courts) Until Japan faces up to its responsibilities, civilized nations everywhere must regard it with suspicion at best and contempt at worst. At the Nuremberg War Crimes trial, Hans Frank said "A thousand years will pass and still this guilt of Germany will not have been erased". In Japan's case however, it may take a little longer.

However, a citizens group in the Japanese city of Kyoto, have erected a 'Monument of Apology and Friendship' in the city square of Calbayog, on the island of Samar in the Philippines. The city was occupied by the 16th Division of the Imperial Japanese Army during the war. The monument bears the inscription 'The citizens of Kyoto apologize for the invasion by the Army of the Emperor and pledge their friendship'.  It is believed that this is the first time the Japanese have apologized for their actions during World War II.

The first written apology (to South Korea) was presented by the Japanese Prime Minister, Keizo Obuchi, on October 9, 1998, to South Korean President Kim Dae-jung ... 53 years after the war ended!.


Founded in 1881 it became a power in its own right. Originally known as the Military Police of Japan they were torturers par excellence. During World War II, there were around 75,000 members who brought unspeakable terror to all countries occupied by Japan. The Kempei Tai (Japanese counterpart of the Nazi Gestapo) was abolished on October 4, 1945 by the Allied Occupation Authorities. By February 1948, a total of 931 Japanese war criminals had been brought to trial by British military courts. Sentenced to death were 21 Kempetai for the murder of Malay civilians, and 8 others for the torture and murder of British prisoners of war. There methods of torture included burning with cigarettes and lighted candles, hot irons, boiling water and electric shocks to sensitive parts of the body, removal of finger and toe nails, flogging and water torture where the victim was forced to drink water till he lost consciousness. The water was then forced out by jumping on his abdomen. Suspension was another form of torture used where the victim was hung up by the arms or legs and left hanging till he confessed or died.


The Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal began on May 3, 1946, with twenty-eight defendants including fourteen generals, one Field Marshal and three Admirals. The trials were held in the old Japanese War Ministry building at the Ichigaya Garrison and ended on November 12, 1948. The trials lasted two years and ninety days and adjourned at 4.12pm on November 12, 1948. Altogether 314 cases were heard and 419 witnesses were called before before eleven Judges from eleven countries. Emperor Hirohito was granted immunity from prosecution, although all the evidence points to his implication in the planning of aggressive war. He was forced to renounce his divine status. President of the Tribunal was Sir William Webb of Australia. All defendants were found guilty. Prime Minister Tojo and five generals were hanged, sixteen others were sentenced to life imprisonment, six of whom died in prison. The executions took place in Sugamo Prison where the defendants were held, starting at one minute past midnight on Dcember 23, 1948. The bodies were then placed in wooden coffins and taken to Yokohama Municipal Crematorium for cremation. The ashes were then scattered to the four winds. All the others were released by April 1958.In other trials outside Tokyo (2,200 in all) conducted by the major Allies, more than 4,300 individuals were convicted of whom 984 received the death sentence and 475 to life imprisonment. Captured Japanese documents and diaries, amounting to 419,064 were shipped the the USA in late 1947 and early 1948. To help normalize US relations with Japan, after the Peace Treaty was signed in January, 1951, most of these documents were returned to Japan in 1958 but not before some 400,000 pages were reproduced on 163 reels of microfilm.

In December, 1958, Sugamo Prison was closed, all remaining prisoners being freed. In 1971, the prison complex, covering six acres, was sold to the Japan Urban Development Company for 17.7 million US dollars and then demolished. On the site now stands the 'Sunshine City' shopping centre, including a sixty-storey sky scraper. In a corner of the complex is a small park on which stands a large stone placed on the site of the former gallows. The inscription on the stone reads "Pray for Eternal Peace."




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All text researched and compiled by George Duncan. Website by Columbus.