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During World War 2, the Japanese Armed Forces captured nearly 140,000 Allied military personnel (Australia, Canada, Great Britain, India, Netherlands, New Zealand, and the United States) in the Southeast Asia and Pacific areas. They were forced to engage in the hard labour of constructing railways, roads, airfields, etc. to be used by the Japanese Armed Forces in the occupied areas. About 36,000 were transported to the Japanese Mainland to supplement the shortage of the work force, and compelled to work at the coal mines, mines, (See first page in thread) shipyards, munitions factories, etc. By the time the war was over, a total of more than 30,000 POWs had died from starvation, diseases, and mistreatment within and outside of the Japanese Mainland. 37,583 prisoners from the United Kingdom, Commonwealth and Dominions, 28,500 from Netherlands and 14,473 from the United States were released after the surrender of Japan. At the end of the war, the Japanese Armed Forces destroyed all documents related to the POW Camps. Furthermore, the Japanese Government had been very negligent in keeping records of such historical facts during the war. In addition to the number of POWs who reached Japanese camps, approximately 11,000 POWs tragically lost their lives when allied air and submarine forces attacked the ships transporting the POWs to Japan, (See sixth page in thread) cruelly & ironically the Japanese frequently painted supply ships with Red Cross’s, yet did not do the same for those vessels that actually deserved these markings. The organisation of POW camps in Japan was repeatedly reformed and rearranged, so the main camps, branch camps, dispatched camps and detached camps opened during the war numbered about 130. On the other hand, there were some that were closed. Thus, in addition to the seven main camps there were 81 branch camps and three detached camps at the end of the war. 32,418 POWs in total were detained in those camps. Approximately 3,500 POWs died in Japan while they were imprisoned. (Forces War Records)

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Gunner William Joseph Butler was held on Taiwan in Taihoku Camp 6.

TAIHOKU POW CAMP # 6 Camp Opened: 11/14/42 - Camp Closed: 09/06/45

The first POWs to arrive in Taihoku Camp # 6 came on November 14th, 1942 from Singapore on the hellship England Maru. After disembarking at the port of Keelung, the men were taken by train to Taihoku (Taipei) the capital, and made to march through the streets of the city to their new camp about three miles northeast of the downtown area. Lining the route was the local population, including hundreds of school children, turned out by the Japanese to show off their conquests.

The No. 6 Camp at Taihoku was the main POW camp in the capital area, and one of the principal camps on Taiwan. At first it was comprised mainly of men from the 5th Field Reg’t., R.A. and the 9/11th Indian Division Signals. However, over the next three years men from other regiments were moved in from other camps. The population of the camp averaged around 500 men for most of the time it was in existence and 74 POWs died there.

Camp #6 contained almost entirely British POWs. The men slaved at building a memorial park and a man-made lake for the Japanese. They were also engaged in farming, and some later worked in the railway and bus repair shops.

This camp was the main transit camp for the movement of POWs to and from Kinkaseki, and it was also the camp that the POWs from other camps passed through on their way to Japan and Manchuria in late 1944 and early 1945. In the last months of the war a few American and Dutch POWs were also interned there.

It was from this camp in July 1945 that 150 men were sent to build another "satellite camp” - called the Oka Camp in the hills north of the city and where the Japanese intended to kill all the POWs from Camp # 6 if the Allies landed on Taiwan. Conditions there were so bad that ten men died while building the camp and seven more died within two days after returning to the main camp following the Japanese surrendered. Taihoku Camp # 6 was finally evacuated on September 6, 1945.

The site of the Taihoku # 6 Camp was located and confirmed in 2000, and for many years the Taiwan POW Camps Memorial Society had desired to erect a POW memorial there. However the site was just an empty field until 2009 when the ROC Ministry of Defense started to build their new headquarters complex in that location.

Early in 2011 the Society approached the Ministry with a request to erect a memorial near the former camp site and this was approved by the minister and wonderful co-operation was received from the MND who took great interest in the project. The memorial was dedicated on Remembrance Day - November 11, 2011. We are grateful to the ministry and the minister for taking such an interest and giving support to this project so that the men of Taihoku Camp # 6 will always be remembered.

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One site says he died on 28 May and another on 27 May 1944; understandable with the international date line. Although he was interned in Taiwan and died there, he was buried in Sai Wan Cemetery in Hong Kong in 1946. May he rest in peace.

His tombstone reads:

10777320 Gunner

W.J. Butler

Royal Artillery

28th May 1944 Age 32

"Always in my thoughts

Dearest son

Till we meet again"


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Death of a loved one as a POW must have been particularly sad and stressful for their next-of-kin, a double misfortune to bear. Living in a country where the dead of past wars are being forgotten for political and cultural reasons, it is encouraging to see that this does not happen in countries with a well-educated and cultured population.

I have a South African friend who has settled in Taiwan and, when I last heard from him in early November last year, he wrote as follows:

"I'm in the midst of preparations for remembrance week. Apart from the big Remembrance Sunday event for the former allied nations at the memorial at the site of the former Kinkaseki POW Camp, we have a dedication of a memorial at the site of the Karenko POW Camp where the Allied high command and top civil officials were held following the falls of Singapore/Malaya, Dutch East Indies, Hong Kong and the Philippines and islands like Guam etc. We have the family of Maj Gen Merton Beckwith-Smith OC of 18th (British) Div captured at Singapore attending. Beckwith-Smith died in the camp on 11 November 1942."

Had Beckwith-Smith died in South Africa, I can confidently say that, since 11 November passes largely without the honouring of war dead, the 60th anniversary of his death on that tragic day in the calendar would have received no civic recognition.



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What a shame that is the situation in S. Africa. I guess the majority don't think about how their grandfathers and great grandfathers were in uniform in both world wars. Perhaps they look at it as just an imperialist issue. Here in the States, the indigenous peoples are very proud about their service and their ancestors' service all the way back to the Indian campaigns. Thanks for the info on what happened in Taiwan recently. I'm not sure if the bulk of Asians will ever forgive or forget the Japanese atrocities; even in a couple of generations. I have students who talk of those atrocities as though they happened yesterday and they were born fifty years or more after the surrender. The Japanese really don't seem to have a clue how the world feels about what they did.

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  • 2 weeks later...

A WWI PoW group in the collection, which is confirmed on the MIC and is important when collecting PoW medals for WWI.

8576 Pte. H. Hudson 2nd Royal Scots

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A group for a PoW from the first battle of El Alamein.

6009188 Cpl. (later Sgt.) C.A. Balls, 1/4th Essex Regiment (taken prisoner at El Alamein on 1/7/42, initially held in Campo 70 (Monteurano, near Fermo Ascoli Piceno) and later reported seeing prisoners shot at Stalag 4B). The 1st/4th Bn. Essex Regt. was part of the the 5th Indian Infantry Brigade commanded by Brig. Dudley Russell, which was in the 4th Indian Division under Major General Francis Tucker.

Stalag IV-B was one of the largest PoW camps in Germany during WWII. Stalag is an abbreviation of the German Stammlager ("Main

Camp"). It was located 8 km (5.0 mi) north-east of the town of Muhlberg in Brandenburg, just east of the Elbe river and about 30 mi (48 km) north of Dresden. A sub-camp, sometimes identified as Stalag IV-B/Z, was located at Zeithain, 10 km (6.2 mi) to the south in Saxony. The camp, covering about 30 hectares (74 acres), was opened in September 1939. The first inmates were about 17,000 Polish soldiers captured in the German September 1939 Offensive. For the first two months they lived under the open sky or in tents. Most of them were transferred to other camps. In May 1940 the first French soldiers arrived, taken prisoner in the Battle of France. In 1941 Australian, British and South African soldiers arrived after the fall of Tobruk, and later in the year Russian POWs from the invasion of the Soviet Union. In October 1944 several thousand more Poles arrived, members of the Armia Krajowa ("Home Army") captured after the Warsaw Uprising, including several hundred women soldiers. In November 1944 the Polish women were transferred to other camps, mainly Stalag IV-E in Altenburg and Oflag IX-C at Molsdorf. At the end of December 1944 about 7,500 Americans arrived from the Battle of the Bulge and At least 3,000 of them were transferred to other camps, mostly to Stalag VII-A. On 23 April 1945 the Red Army liberated the camp. Altogether soldiers from 33 nations passed through the camp.

Interestingly, the British prisoners published two periodicals: the wall newspapers The New Times and a richly illustrated Flywheel. The Flywheel was founded by Tom Swallow, and comprised pages from school exercise-books that carried hand-written articles with colour illustrations from whatever inks the editorial team could produce from stolen materials, like quinine from the medical room; these were stuck into place with fermented millet soup, kept from the meagre camp rations. One copy per issue was produced, to be circulated among members throughout the camp. When extracts were published in hardback format in 1987, the book ran to two reprints. An additional periodical, The Observer was published between December 1943 and May 1944. The camp's Welsh soldiers also created their own periodical called Cymro ("Welshman"), edited by prisoner William John Pitt. The magazines were produced between July 1943 and December 1944. Eight issues of the magazines were created, and out of these one was lost in the camp. Although most of the issues are in English, two pages are in Welsh

Tom Shallows obituary: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/obituaries/tom-swallow-founder-of-flywheel-magazine-781058.html

When the Soviet Army arrived at the camp in April 1945, there were about 30,000 PoWs crowded into the facilities, of these 7,250 were British. About 3,000 died, mainly from tuberculosis and typhus. They were buried in the cemetery in neighboring Neuburxdorf, Bad Liebenwerda; there is a memorial and a museum commemorate them today. The Soviet liberators were in no hurry to repatriate the British and American prisoners to their homelands. In fact they were held in the camp for over a month. Some individual soldiers "escaped" from the camp and made their way on foot to the American lines. In August 1945 the Soviet secret service NKVD opened on the area of Stalag IV-B its Special Camp No. 1, using the shacks of Stalag IV-B. More than 22,800 persons were imprisoned and over 6,700 of them died until the camp was closed in 1948.

1939 Star, Africa Star, War Medal and TFEM GVI - Territorial - 1st type to 6009188 Cpl. C. A. Balls, Essex Regt.

Edited by azyeoman
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Hi Azyeoman

My friend Brett Hendey told me about this thread, glad he did :)

As a fellow POW collector and have a number ranging from WW1 to WW2, 99% South African I must say your collection is impressive. What started as a "sub-theme" for me has actually become a major one. There is always something to find on these guys, especially if they escaped. I have not been a huge contributer here on the GMIC but will start to add some of mine. Hope you will find them interesting when I start.

One of my highlights was finding a diary convering a South African Policeman Officers time as a German guest. A large number of SA Police fought as infantrymen and many were taken at Tobruk when it fell.

Not much free time so please be patient.



Edited by brian conyngham
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  • 3 weeks later...

Excellent condition lapel badges for the Red Cross penny A Week Fund for those donating a penny a week which helped towards parcels for prisoners of war and soldiers overseas. The first is in white metal and the second is brass and enamel by Gaunt of London.

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More homefront items:

Wartime booklet entitled Prisoner of War and dated 1942 listing the location of German PoW camps, prisoner welfare information etc. and containing maps and B&W photos. 28 pages and for a sixpence, which was fairly dear back then.

Also included are two sheets listing items that may or not be mailed to P.O.Ws

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