Sparrow Photo 46: After-math The Mitsushima POW Memorial, Hiraoka, Japan. The poppies (left from a visit the previous year) mark the names of members of the 79th LAA Battery. Mitsushima deaths “It not matters whether you are among those who hit or among those who watch, among those who perform or among those who let it happen. You are all guilty, actors and spectators.” – Michael Quoist, 1963. The people of Hiraoka erected a memorial on the site of the former Mitsushima POW camp – at the location of what was the area between the Administration Building and the ‘esso musho’ (guardhouse cell.) The site of the former prisoner of war work camp is now the local elementary school’s sports field. On the memorial it reads: “In April 1943, we did get a supply of Red Cross medicines, but it was insufficient for our needs and due to the lack of medicines the life of the prisoners were endangered and many prisoners died due to lack of medicines.” The following prisoners died as a result of the behaviour of the Japanese camp staff in withholding food and medicines. (From the official records of the Yokohama Class B and C War Crimes Trial.) As a result of the number of deaths at Mitsushima, Tatsuo Tsuchiya being tried as the first war criminal, and the subsequent war crimes trials which resulted in 6
Sparrow  Photo 46   After-math  The Mitsushima POW Memorial, Hiraoka, Japan. The poppies  left from a visit the previous y...
Sparrow After-math executions and 4 life sentences, Mitsushima earned the reputation as one the most notorious POW Camps of the war. But was that reputation deserved? The prisoner of war camp at Hiraoka – which was known as Mitsushima – was Tokyo Headquarters’ second detached camp. The headquarter camp was on a specially built island in Tokyo Bay called Omori. It was effectively Japan’s Alcatraz. The first detached camp was a hospital at Shinagawa – where sick prisoners of war were sent. Mitsushima was effectively Tokyo Headquarters’ first labour camp. It was the furthest from the coast than any other prisoner of war camp, deep in Japan’s mountainous interior. The site was a hydro-electric power scheme, built using stockpiles of American cement, steel, and equipment. Chinese and Korean labourers upstream cleared the area that would become the hydro lake. Allied prisoners of war would collect aggregate (Sakamoto detail), prepare aggregate (Kumagai detail), or assist with lining the intake tunnel (Kamijo detail). The first to arrive at Mitsushima were 82186 Americans captured on the Bataan Peninsula and Corregidor in the Philippines. The Americans volunteered to escape the disease and starvation at Camp Cabanatuan after they survived Camp O’Donnell, which was the final stop of the Bataan Death March. The Americans chosen for the trip to Japan had to pass strict health inspections. Then, they were loaded into the holds of the Nagato Maru, a filthy ship whose previous cargo included livestock. Animal effluent and hay still lined the holds. Sailing through rough seas for 23 days, the Nagato Maru travelled from tropical to near arctic climes. During this journey, the POWs wore what was left of their tropical army uniform. Thirteen died on the journey to Japan. By the time they arrived at Mitsushima, many more were sick. Richard Gordon, author of Horyo, described the journey in a Public Broadcasting Service documentary American Experience – MacArthur: “They jammed us into the holds of the ship, no lights. [They] let us up on deck for the first couple of nights out and then, after that, wouldn’t let us because American submarines were in the area. They had given us life jackets when we first went aboard that ship. And then when the submarines came near us, they took the life jackets off us and put them on the cases of their dead that they had, [that] they were taking back to Japan. The ashes. And they protected the ashes with our life jackets. So fortunately this submarine didn’t hit us that time. But it hit enough other ships after that. But there was no toilet facilities down in those holds. Pitch black. They had one bucket that you used for urinal and defecation and what have you. And the boat would rock and spill it all over and men were lying in it. It’s unbelievable to attempt to describe that. It can’t be done because it gets too close to home when I start thinking about some of those conditions. But that’s what we lived with for twenty-some-odd days. Yet later ships took forty days to get to Japan. So the conditions became even worse for those people. Ultimately, 5,000 Americans went to the bottom of the Pacific 186 A full list of these prisoners can be found on p.742.
Sparrow  After-math  executions and 4 life sentences, Mitsushima earned the reputation as one the most notorious POW Camps...
Sparrow After-math Ocean as a result of those sub attacks and those plane attacks that took place.”187 Conditions weren’t any better when they arrived at Mitsushima Camp. Gordon described the conditions: “The very first five months of [Mitsushima] was probably the worst five months of my life. Worse than anything in the Philippines. Because, number one, we had come out of the Philippines with no clothing, other than what we had on our backs. Which was trousers cut off at the knees because they wore out, shirts cut off at the elbows because they had worn out. No socks and no shoes. “The cold that first winter in Japan was incredible. We had no clothing, as I say. They gave us British clothing they had captured in Singapore. Which they wouldn’t let the Japanese people see us in. So they put a Japanese cloth clothing over us, which they made it so thin you could see through it, but it covered up the uniforms that the Japanese had taken in Singapore...So we would sleep in our clothing and even then, we’d freeze because [of] subfreezing temperatures. And at the bottom of the bay where we slept was a pit. They gave us charcoal to burn. And then at nine o’clock at night, we had to put it out for fear of fires. There was no heat in those barracks all night long. So men slept huddled together for body warmth. And used all sorts of blankets just to wrap each other up in. And if you became ill, as I did, and you had the chills as I did from malaria, it just was that much colder on you because you shivered yourself all night long. “That first winter the guards were a Japanese army guard. They were not civilians yet. They still were active duty soldiers. Young. Japan had-everything they touched at that point in time had turned to gold. They had won everywhere. And the Japanese felt very filled with the spirit of winning. And they were acting out. They mistreated every prisoner they ever laid their hands on. They would make-- take any pretext to beat on you, to make life miserable for you. If they caught you leaving the barracks at night to go to the latrine, because you had to make a lot of trips to the latrine, to the bathroom, if they caught you not completely dressed, they’d beat you. That first winter, we lost something like 48 men, Americans and British. And mainly from the cold and the fact that we were without food and were sick when we went into that camp. Men died.” The following night on 27 November 1942, 193188 British prisoners of war arrived in Japan. One prisoner died on the train journey to Mitsushima. They survived a month long journey from Singapore on the Tofuku Maru in similarly ghastly conditions as the Nagato Maru, which resulted in 27 deaths. On arrival at Japan, about 150 POW were stretchered off sick and about 30 subsequently died. 187 188 Interview with Richard Gordon. American Experience - MacArthur. Public Broadcasting Service. Link: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/macarthur/sfeature/bataan_japan.html. Refer p.742.
Sparrow  After-math Ocean as a result of those sub attacks and those plane attacks that took place.   187  Conditions were...
Sparrow After-math The root of the cause of the deaths at Mitsushima were twofold: 1. 2. The condition of the prisoners when they arrived; and How those prisoners were treated after their arrival. Here is how Charlie McLachlan recalled his arrival at Mitsushima: “It was freezing cold, everything was frozen. The river was frozen, everything was freezing and we were in rags, just shorts, rags, bare feet. “And here he comes out [the camp commander]. Big fur lined leather coat, fur hat, big top boots, and said, ‘If you think you are cold, it is only your mind that is cold. If you think you are cold, rub your body with snow because it is only in your mind.’ “And here he is all wrapped up! All these other ones must have looked down on him. Everybody was in rags, in tatters… frozen stiff.”189 It couldn’t have been made clearer to the Camp Commander, Sukeo Nakajima, that the prisoners of war were his responsibility. His prisoners were there to work. He subsequently was fired by the Commander of Tokyo Camps, Colonel Kunji Suzuki, due to the number of deaths in his care. So, how did Sukeo Nakajima allow so many deaths in his care? Mitsushima was a collision of cultures: stubbornness, ignorance, and prejudice from both sides combining in a lethal cocktail. The Japanese have a deep-seeded fear of disease. It is still evident today as the public wear facemasks to avoid catching or spreading disease. Since Japan opened its borders to trade in the 1850s, Japan also suffered several epidemics. In many ways, Japan feared the West due to the risk of disease. Photo 47: Japanese wear facemasks in public to avoid catching or This fear was demonstrated by the spreading disease. measures the Japanese military took before and after each hellship journey. Each prisoner was ‘rodded’ – a procedure where a glass rod was inserted up the rectum to inspect for diarrhea. Every prisoner was also inspected for respiratory diseases. Some prisoners interpreted these inspections as being some type of slave grading. In fact, the Japanese didn’t want sick on the mainland. That explains why sick were kept on Java, Changi Prison, and Selerang Barracks. On board most hellships, conditions were as cramped for prisoners as they were for Japanese troops. On board the Tofuku Maru, there were three holds. In the rear hold were 600 Japanese troops. In the front two holds were 1,200 Allied prisoners. Not one Japanese troop died on the 31-day voyage. 189 Interview with Charles MɔLachlan. Havelock North, New Zealand, 19 September 2003.
Sparrow  After-math  The root of the cause of the deaths at Mitsushima were twofold  1. 2.  The condition of the prisoners...
Sparrow After-math The poor hygiene amongst some prisoners on the Tofuku Maru caused and spread the epidemic aboard. The prisoners had plenty of food for a 35-day voyage but not enough medicine for such an epidemic. Once the epidemic became severe, the guards stayed clear of the holds. Many prisoners aboard blame the Dutch Javanese soldiers for starting the outbreak of disease. They pointed to the Dutch using food bowls as toilets. They would clean their polluted bowls in the drinking water. Many Royal Air Force airmen would also waste drinking water for cleaning. The Royal Artillery prisoners pointed to these two examples due to the lessons learned on the Warwick Castle trip out to the Far East where they needed to ration water. Those in The Sparrows had two previous journeys on hellships from Timor and Java so, by the time they boarded the Tofuku Maru, they knew how to avoid disease. Another contributing factor to the care of prisoners of war was the Japanese perception of frailty. Westerners were of larger build with more muscle mass and required more food. The Japanese also treated dysentery and digestive diseases with reduced food intake. The prisoners thought that the sick were punished with half rations because they were not working. The Scottish traditionally used the same methods and ate charcoal to flush out disease. The Japanese were very proud of their culture and methods. Even under the Hague and Geneva Conventions, prisoners must be treated the same as the captor’s forces. The guards issued Japanese army split-toed footwear instead of the South African Army boots held in storage for months. The guards said that the army boots would be issued at the end of the war so prisoners could wear them home. The guards were also aware that the locals were suffering from malnutrition. The food and conditions within the camp were better than the locals enjoyed. The distribution of the Red Cross parcels was conducted sparingly and surreptitiously. The guards kept ‘luxuries,’ like hot chocolate and cigarettes, for themselves. Some guards, who were also starving, kept some cans of food. The Japanese were brutal to fellow Japanese. Japanese soldiers could beat lower ranks with impunity. Prisoners were the lowest of the low in the Japanese hierarchy. Japanese civilian prisons – today and back then – are harsh environments. Corporal punishment still takes place. Being taken prisoner in war is inconceivable to Japanese culture. Yet, there were 36,000 Allied prisoners working on the Japanese Mainland. The Japanese used them to fill the labour shortage. They were there to work. They weren’t there to be beaten to death as sport. Based on evidence, no prisoner of war at Mitsushima was killed by brutality. They, however, died: a. b. c. d. e. f. As a direct result of their condition when they arrived at the camp; Due to the climatic conditions of the camp; From being forced to work when they were frail; Due to the lack of medical treatment at the camp; Due to their diet at the camp; and/or Due to a combination of the above.
Sparrow  After-math  The poor hygiene amongst some prisoners on the Tofuku Maru caused and spread the epidemic aboard. The...
Sparrow After-math For a start, Nakajima was a lazy camp commander. He arrived late, left early, and did little in between. The camp was left in the hands of an interpreter, ‘Mushmouth’, who tried to conceal his poor grasp of the English language, and former Japanese soldiers scarred from battle. Guarding prisoners – their enemy – was the ultimate insult. Unable to communicate with the prisoners using words, they used sticks, fists, and rope. This is no excuse for the sadistic nature of some beatings but no cases led directly to anyone dying. Nakajima was so preoccupied with the perception of his camp that he tried to conceal the condition of his prisoners to his superior officer. The Author: “Whenever the colonel would be visiting the sickbay would be emptied out and sent out on work detail.” Chater: “You’d be amazed what happened when the colonel were coming into inspect the camp. We had to turn in all the Red Cross presents, what we had been given out, we had to turn them back in… afterwards. Collected them all. Stuff like this all the time. “When the Red Cross people were coming the same thing happened. We weren’t really allowed to say much to the Red Cross representatives.”190 Nakajima disobeyed the orders from his colonel. Red Cross supplies were meant to be distributed to prisoners. They were not. Nakajima tried to be self-sufficient at the most isolated prisoner of war camp in Japan. He unnecessarily put the lives of prisoners at risk by not asking for help when he could have. Colonel Kunji Suzuki effectively kept to the standards of the Hague and Geneva Conventions, which Japan had promised to observe. The problem is that those under his command did not. The one area where guards did not comply was corporal punishment, which was forbidden by the Geneva Convention. Under the Hague Convention, however, a captor can apply the same discipline to a prisoner as the captor would apply to his own troops. Mitsushima prisoners witnessed brutality between guards. A slap across the ear, a hit on the head with a wooden sword, or a punch in the face was acceptable. It was part of the Japanese hierarchical disciplinary system. Nakajima did not monitor his own guards. Mushmouth, the interpreter, unilaterally deciding who was fit to work. The Author: “A lot of people I have interviewed have said they used to avoid the sick bay. Even when they were sick they wanted to work to stay out of sickbay.” Chater: “Oh yeah.” The Author: 190 Interview with Leslies Hilton Chater. Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, 15-20 June & 6 July 2004.
Sparrow  After-math  For a start, Nakajima was a lazy camp commander. He arrived late, left early, and did little in betwe...
Sparrow After-math “So, do you find it strange that Mushmouth (the interpreter) used to send people out to work who were sick?” Chater: “Send them out?” The Author: “Mushmouth used to send sick people out to work?” Chater: “Oh God yes! Yes sir. He would hold his own sick bay and so would the camp commandant. “You go to work, you go…” After our own people would say they weren’t OK they would come along and say “You go, you go, you OK, you go.” And some of them died working.” The Author: “Some of them died on the job?” Chater: “That’s right. Right at the beginning.” Nakajima could have communicated more regularly with the officer POWs sooner. It was only after he was getting grief from his colonel that he tried to improve the lines of communication. Here is how Chater described the breakthrough. Chater: “People were dying and we couldn’t produce enough for the workforce and [the camp commandant] was getting hell from Tokyo, the Headquarters for the POW Camps. “So eventually he came to us, the same as what happened in the pictures, the Bridge on the River Kwai. They came to us. They used to take the officers and make them stand at attention when anything went wrong when they couldn’t produce enough people. “He eventually came to us.” “What’s the matter with you people? You’re all sick! You can’t get enough workers!” “So we told him bluntly, “In the first place when we arrived here we were all half dead because of the boat trip and you made it worse by cutting the food for anyone who was sick and couldn’t work, half rations.” “And other things like that. Penalizing us. So it made it worse and worse. “And finally he came to us and we told him what was wrong. We said, “We can’t blame you for the ship. It wasn’t your fault. But the other things were your fault because we didn’t have any rest or anything when we arrived at Mitsushima.”
Sparrow  After-math    So, do you find it strange that Mushmouth  the interpreter  used to send people out to work who wer...
Sparrow After-math “OK, what do you need?” “We desperately need medicines for dysentery.” “What medicine do you need?” “The doctor was there and he handed him a list. He turned around to his medical orderly, this was the camp commander, and handed him the list.” “You go up to the village and get these!” “Just like that.” “And also, we’ve got to have to have better food. They can’t work without food particularly when they aren’t well in any event.” “OK!” “Next thing we know we have more food. It’s as simple as that. And gradually you could see the difference in the troops. And I kept a record of how many people we could produce to work up to that time and the time after. You could see the numbers going right up until we could produce all they needed to work.”191 If Nakajima asked for medication sooner from the Red Cross, he would have received it. Once they asked for a real doctor, they got one in the form of Dr. Whitfield. Nevertheless, again, Japanese pride interfered with the treatment of the sick. Japanese used traditional methods that were either outdated by Western methods or not beneficial at all. Burning treatment – where burning cotton wool lined the spine – was one such method. As Dr. Whitfield said, “A hot water bottle would suffice.” Eating charcoal was seen as primitive but, even today, it is the best method for treating some forms of digestive infection. The senior British officer at the camp, Flight Lieutenant Leslie Chater – a Canadian engineer commissioned by the Air Ministry – squarely lay blame on the Camp Commander, Lt. Sukeo Nakajima. Nakajima was where the buck stopped. The Author: “Do you hold anyone responsible for the deaths of the POWs in Mitsushima and Kanose?” Chater: “No.” The Author: “Do you think the guards at Mitsushima were responsible for any of the deaths?” Chater: “No.” 191 Ibid.
Sparrow  After-math    OK, what do you need        We desperately need medicines for dysentery.       What medicine do you...
Sparrow After-math The Author: “Why?” Chater: “The Camp Commander is responsible for deaths. Doesn’t matter what happened they’re responsible for it. The guards were under pretty strict orders… by the book… all set out by the command in Tokyo.” “And the actual… it’s like the British… the actual camp commanders were scared stiff of that top boss. And I gave you some idea, examples of what happened when he finally came to us because he was getting hell from the bossman in Tokyo.” “You prisoners are dying, you have been doing enough work for us, you promised work for us to the company!” “That was the time things turned around.” 192 Notwithstanding the conduct of the guards and commander, the conduct of the prisoners should not be overlooked. Knowing that guards would punish groups for the conduct of one prisoner, several of the prisoners’ conduct exacerbated the cruelty and deteriorated the conditions for the most vulnerable. The lack of leadership by Major Cory and Ace Faulkner stood out as a major problem with cohesion amongst the men. Instead of reigning in troublemakers, they were more concerned with their own welfare. They wanted to be relocated to an ‘officer’s camp’ and moped around the camp. Captain Hewitt struggled to control the American prisoners as Cory and Faulkner’s conduct undermined him. The conduct of people such as ‘Bully’ Jones and Martindale are worthy of war crimes prosecutions. They not only stole food from civilians and the guards, but also from fellow prisoners. In one case, they not only traded meals for cigarettes with Frank Brancaticano, but they also later stole the cigarettes from Brancaticano. After Brancaticano became frail from trading too many meals for cigarettes, Hewitt ordered that no one collect Brancaticano’s meals. Jones and Martindale continued to steal Brancaticano’s meals until he died from pneumonia – a complication from malnutrition. The depth of Martindale and Jones’ depravity is demonstrated by the Christian/Shinto funeral service conducted for Brancaticano. After the service, Jones and Martindale stole the food on the altar left as offerings to the Gods for Brancaticano’s transition to heaven. Brancaticano was the only prisoner at Mitsushima or Kanose to die as a direct result of human cruelty. All the others prosecuted at Yokohama were punished for what they did not do rather than what they did – in other words, negligence. Brancaticano would not have been able to trade meals had it not been for the likes of George Peil. George Peil and Jim Bitner were not trained cooks and yet they wrangled themselves into positions to feed the prisoners. They did not have experience with cooking rice or barley and it showed. The second epidemic at the camp was in spring 1943 when most deaths occurred. Most of the deaths were from inflammation of the digestive system – the result of poor diet. The barley that Bitner 192 Ibid.
Sparrow  After-math The Author     Why     Chater     The Camp Commander is responsible for deaths. Doesn   t matter what ...
Sparrow After-math and Peil cooked was not properly prepared and, instead of providing carbohydrates and essential amino acids, acted like chards of glass through the intestines. It was only after Shichino spoke out that the camp commander took an active interest in the quality of the food served to the prisoners. The level of medical treatment that the prisoners received was the most controversial subject raised by those interviewed. Every former prisoner interviewed mentioned the late arrival of a sufficiently qualified medical practitioner at Mitsushima. Many criticized the Dutch-Javanese doctor, who accompanied the British prisoners from Java, Medical Officer 2nd Class Nicolaas Van Slooten. Squadron Leader Grant did ask repeatedly for a ‘proper doctor’ to be sent to the camp. Eventually, Ships Surgeon Whitfield arrived from Shinagawa via Noetsu too late to save anyone. No deaths occurred at Mitsushima between the time Whitfield arrived and the main group left for Kanose. Once the main group arrived at Kanose, there were only four deaths – Brancaticano and the three Battery men in the Carbide plant. Kanose Commander Hiroshi Azuma was tried for allowing prisoners to be exposed to dangerous working conditions. Central to the prosecution’s case was the length of the stoking rods used by workers at the plant and the provision of safety equipment. What is known is that the same conditions were provided to everyone at the plant. The equipment and methods were provided by United States-based heavy industrial companies. Sparks from the molten nabes of carbide ignited carbide dust on the factory floor and exploded, injuring Harold Rogers and killing Buchan, Crowdell, and Foster. The proximity of the stokers to the nabes made no difference. In reality, a double standard was applied. The prisoners volunteered to stoke the furnaces. They used safety equipment and methods which were best practice.
Sparrow  After-math  and Peil cooked was not properly prepared and, instead of providing carbohydrates and essential amino...
Sparrow After-math Photo 48: Harold Rogers showing two different length stokers used at the plant. (Exhibit in USA vs. Azuma et 5) Photo 49: Prosecution Exhibit M showing molten carbide poured into a nabe. Note the sparks onto the floor.
Sparrow  After-math  Photo 48   Harold Rogers showing two different length stokers used at the plant.  Exhibit in USA vs. ...