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Testimonies of POWs

Experiences of Jack Simmonds

The surrender of all allied troops is recognized as February 15 1942. I was 19 years and 8 months old. After a couple of days at the Chinese Church of England College grounds 15,000 men were forced march out to Salarang Barracks a distance of 15 miles. I worked on the Japanese memorial project at the Singapore golf links. After being involved in a traffic accident, I was hospitalized for several weeks. I was later certified able to work..I then worked in a Changi vegetable garden - these vegetables were produced for the hospitals.

On 25th April 1943 200 Australians, 300 British and 1000 prisoners boarded the Kyoku Maru an 18,000 ton ship presumably to be shipped as re-enforcements up to the Burma railway project. We were accommodated in the holes of the ship with just enough room to lie down head to toe. Ventilation was very poor and our food ration was a small bowl of rice and a half a cup of water per day. We were allowed up on deck for 30 minutes each day.

Due to the naval activity of the American navy our course was altered and we sailed to Japan. We dropped anchor at Moji and faired across to Shiminoseki. On May 19th we trained to Osaka. For the next 11 days at Osaka it was hell. We were made to learn the normal every day words, learn to drill Japanese style, learn to salute and learn to goose step. If any error occurred many men were bashed. The buildings in which we were accommodated were new and clean. We were issued with one pair of long trousers and one shirt. It was a case of one style fits all. Likewise the cloven footwear once again were all size 10. I had to make a pair of thongs out of the tread of a truck tire. On June 1st 196 men walked / marched to work. Once at work we were allocated various jobs familiar in a steel foundry. Factory hanchos were in charge of each group. The hanchos were elderly men and mostly amiable. The Kempi Tai patrolled periodically. We were paid about 10 cents per day and collected our pay once each month.

The policy of the Japanese was no work, no pay, no eat. So the more men that worked the better was our ration of food. Bashings took place regularly, more so when the Japanese suffered a set back in the war zone. About March 1945 a massive air raid took place on Osaka and it was after this raid that we were shifted to Takefu. While this raid was on all men were locked inside the huts. The Japanese personnel took refuge in the shelters and slip trenches outside.

When this transfer took place 30 of our men were sent elsewhere and they were replaced by 30 American men. At Takefu we worked in a Carbine factory until August 1945. Some of the names camp staff were  General Muriate, Lieutenant Nossu, Private Terasta (medical orderly), interpreters Murakami and Miyangi, Sergeant Kay, Sergeant Sawamura, Quartermaster Corporal Matsumoto. My work hencho Maonar. Japan never recognized the Geneva Convention. Hence the behaviour food overall inadequate, rest days one day per month. Medical supplies kept in camp commanders office and a poor supply. Vermin prevalent were mice , body lice and bugs ever present. Bedding two poor quality blankets supplemented by cement bags scrounged from the factory. Sickness suffered diarrhea, pellagra, dysentery and accidents suffered at work.

Left to right; Jack Boon, Niel MacPherson and Military Attache of Australian Embassy
  at Commonwealth War Cemetery (April 2004)

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