Discussion in 'Prisoners of War' started by wtid45, Apr 10, 2010.

  1. wtid45

    wtid45 Very Senior Member

  2. wtid45

    wtid45 Very Senior Member

    Some information on New Zealanders.
    A number of New Zealand airmen captured in operations over Burma were confined in the former British civilian jail at Rangoon. The treatment of prisoners in this camp, more especially of the aircrew captured in 1944 and 1945, was bad and at times inhuman. In 1943 it was possible to buy eggs, tomatoes, and sugar fairly regularly; but as time went on this became impossible, and men had to exist on little else than an inadequate rice ration and vegetables grown in the camp garden. Medical care was hampered by lack of supplies and sometimes by obstruction on the part of the Japanese. It was only after some time that books were allowed in the camp, and a ban on all gatherings made it impossible to carry out any organised recreation, to set up educational classes, or to hold religious services. It was exceptional for a day to pass without someone receiving a beating with bamboo, steel golf club or other weapon, and beatings into unconsciousness were not uncommon. Aircrew received worse treatment still. They were kept sometimes five to a filthy cell measuring five yards by three, were given no bedding except old sacks, received half the rations of the other prisoners, and were beaten if caught conversing with one another. Those who came in wounded were almost without exception denied the services of a medical officer.
    Some of the inmates of the cells were in time moved to another part of the camp and were able to improvise some kind of medical treatment for their sick and wounded comrades. Over the whole period of its existence the camp had a death roll of more than 40 per cent of its strength. In the last week or two before liberation some prisoners noticed a slight improvement in the general treatment, but others record that some of the guards were ‘nastier than ever’. Perhaps in this camp more than in others prisoners had good grounds for wondering whether they would survive until liberation came.
    As British forces approached Rangoon the Japanese attempted to transfer fit prisoners to Moulmein, but the rapidity of the British advance compelled them to release most of their prisoners while on the move. Thus on 25 April about half the prisoners in the Rangoon area were marched off towards Pegu, and two days later they were abandoned by their guards. The last Japanese abandoned the Rangoon jail on the night of 28–29 April, leaving behind them a message informing the prisoners that they could regard themselves as free and saying that they hoped to meet them again on the battlefield. Four days later units of the British Army marched into Rangoon, and liberated prisoners were sent by air or by hospital ship to Calcutta.
    source used CHAPTER 12 — Liberation in the Far East and Repatriation (January—September 1945) | NZETC
  3. Verrieres

    Verrieres no longer a member

    Hope no one minds me posting this not WW2 but directly post-war.An account from the 2nd DLI in Jan 1947 regarding their tour guarding Japanese War Criminals.

    The administration of the gaol is divided between the Battalion doing the Guard Duties and " B " P.O.W. Group. A very close liaison between the two is essential for the smooth running of the whole, to ensure this an Officer is detailed for full time duty in the gaol, so on our arrival in Changi Capt. Krieger was appointed to be our Chief Gaoler with the title of " Beast of Changi." He has been prevailed upon to write a few notes on life inside the gaol.
    Since our arrival at Changi in early October our task has been that of guarding Japanese war criminals in Changi Gaol. This was something new in the way of guards, and the troops took to it immediately, especially on finding that they would get an extra suit of clothing for the job. The guards in the gaol are divided into two. The first is the Tower guard, the object of which is to ensure that no one escapes over the prison walls. They are posted in four Towers' one at each corner, the tour of duty for each sentry being two hours, during which time they are locked in the tower with a Bren Gun. From their posts they can see the full length of their walls, at night these are lit by seachlights. The second guard are the actual Gaolers and have charge of the Japs. There are eight blocks in all and each block has N.C.O. and 3 B.O.R.'s The N.C.O.'s are responsible for the dis-cipline, cleanliness, organisation of meals, work, etc., within their block, and also for the searching of kit and men, to ensure that none of them have unauthorised articles on them. The Japs are brought from Japan, Malaya, Burma, Siam, in fact anywhere in. South East Asia, by land, sea and air. They arrive as suspects and are placed in one of the suspect blocks to await interrogation. if, after interrogation it is found that there is insufficient evidence against them they are released and sent back to Japan. On the other hand if the investigation shows that there is a distinct possibility that they are war criminals they are kept in the gaol to await trial. Apart from the " suspect blocks," there is the " condemned block," one for life.sentence people and other long termers, and the Hospital block. The Suspect lead a normal life. They do P.T. and a little drill and also have lectures. The only way of finding out what the lecture is on is by asking the Interpreter, and this source of information is very unreliable, there seem to be only two subjects for lec-tures, Japanese literature or Korean Poetry. The long sentence men live above the kitchens and do all the cooking, laundry and tailoring for the whole gaol. But this block is continually changing as they do not stay long in Changi, as after being sentenced they are sent to a gaol where the sentence can be better carried out. The condemned men just sit in their com-pound all day playing various kinds of sedentary games, apparently without a care in the world. This block has been filling up rapidly since we have been in charge, but nine will take the " one way only " trip before we hand over to the Devons in a few days time. Two of our C.S.M.'s take a prominent part in these 'operations. In one of the courtyards there is a work-shop where some of the " skilled " prisoners are Illowed to work. For the limited materials, etc., at their disposal, some of the work turned out is extremely good. Painters, carpenters, engravers and watch repairers are the ones in chief demand. A favourite game is to give one of the artists a white handkerchief and a photo, and he will repro-duce the photo on the handkerchief in Chinese ink. Some of the men have man-aged to get kit boxes made, whilst other articles made for the Battalion include ash trays, stools, sticks for the Provost staff and a letter rack. Lastly a few words about the inmates of the various blocks. In " A " block there is an Interpreter, held as a suspect, he is small and thin and the most ill-proportioned man anywhere, always willing and trying to please but has vet to succeed. In " C block we have the " Black " Japs or ones who are supposed to have committed the more serious crimes, and here we find a funny little man who looks anything but a soldier who is supposed to be a Major who was picked up in Rangoon. He resembles a Burmese tribesman more than a Jap, and so far no one has been able to get a word out of him, either he really can't understand and they have made a mistake, or else he is putting on an extremely convincing act. In the condemned block is " King Kong," a huge Korean who grins and laughs all the time and hasn't a care in the world. However he will stop laughing before we leave, as he is due for the Hangman's noose along with the other eight. The Hospital block contains two characters who deserve a mention, first there is " Donald Duck... a little Korean, who, whilst in condemned block, attempted to commit suicide with a razor blade and now sits meekly on his bed recovering, but instead of hanging he'll have to be shot. Secondly there is the one who, having been passed fit for trial, got a few years sentence and then became mentally unbalanced whilst acting as cook, and has since become steadily worse. He is kept in a cell by himself and amuses himself by throwing his food all over the place and occasionally trying to bite the wall. The day two psychiatrists came to see him, he yelled and screamed and threw everything he could get hold of, all over the cell. The psychiatrists immediately withdrew and certified him insane. Last of all these characters are the three clerks who work in the office. For easy reference they are called " Brown,'' " Smith," and " White." Smith is chief clerk and really does the work of all three, as Brown spends most of his time writing his life's history, whilst White is the runner, who sits quietly on his stool until someone shouts, " White " ! and then without waiting to hear what is wanted seizes a container and dashes away to get some tea. We hand over to the Devons in a few days time after what have been two very interesting months, but two months is quite sufficient on a job of this kind, any longer and it would become very monotonous.

  4. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    Hi All,

    Just commenting on the New Zealand airmen in Rangoon Jail. All airmen were treated extremely harshly in the jail towards the last years of the war. This was because the Allies had just started to bomb the Japanese homeland by then and of course this would ultimately lead to Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

    The aircrew were kept for long spells in solitary confinement, sometimes as long as 3-4 months. There were all nationalities in the jail, Australian, NZ, South African, American and of course British.

    Rangoon Jail suffered from several 'friendly fire' incidents too, it was close to the docks and often stray Allied bombs would fall rather too close for comfort. One incident did result in Allied POW casualties.

    As stated in the above post the Japanese left Rangoon 'out the back door' as such. This was a very big suprise to the POW's and the 14th Army advacing south towards the city. The very sick and infirm were left inside the jail to look after themselves, but the Japanese commandant took around 400 of the 'fittest' POW's with him when he left. These are commonly known as the Pegu marchers. What the ultimate fate of these men was mean't to be is unknown. All the POW's feared that they would be executed by the Japanese if the war began to turn against the enemy. But they too were turned loose in very early May 1945 and eventually made contact with British forces.

    In general terms the Americam POW's from the jail were flown out of Burma along with the majority of the Pegu 400. Whilst the men of the Commonwealth forces still back in the jail were transported back the India on a hospital ship.

  5. wtid45

    wtid45 Very Senior Member

    I have looked but can find very little on the liberation of Changi I am very intrested as my Dad was either with troops who liberated it or was there shortly after.
    Having just looked at Steves Rangoon footage I thought I would have another look at some of the Changi sites and I read this the mention of Gurkhas is curious given what I say above and in my Mandaly Hill post about the Gurkhas in connection with my Dad. "When the war was over we knew what was happening because there was a radio in Kranji. One day some paratroopers landed in Changi and started to make arrangements with the Japanese. Mountbatten was on the way from Rangoon to liberate us so very soon we had the Gurkhas around the camp in case of any uprising. When the rest of the troops arrived there were many journalists and photos were taken all over the place." SAVE A LIFE - Foreign Prisoners Support Service
    bamboo43 likes this.
  6. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    Perhaps the anniversary of VJ Day has sparked some information release from up on high?:)

    I do hope it continues!

    Keep it coming Jason.

  7. wtid45

    wtid45 Very Senior Member

    Dont know if this book is known of but it would seem to be a amazing piece of work by the Author there is also a second vol which I will also post. A POSTAL HISTORY OF THE PRISONERS OF WAR & CIVILIAN INTERNEES IN EAST ASIA DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR, VOLUME 1 SINGAPORE & MALAYSIA by DAVID TETT Office Bearers of the Malaya Study Group Postal history of the prisoners of war and civilian internees in East Asia during the Second World War. Volume 2. Dutch East Indies 1942-1946. By David Tett.
    [​IMG]Book Reviews This is a great site with some very good POW related books.
    I was extremely impressed when I unpacked the review copy of this book. It is BIG and contains 470 pages and hundreds of illustrations. It is the second in a series of books on Far East POW Postal History; the first, just to be awkward, will be reviewed in the next newsletter. Volume 1 ‘The Changi Connection’ was published in February 2002 to mark the 60th anniversary of the fall of Singapore. Its subject matter was Singapore and Malaya and the book has received international acclaim, winning gold medals in Atlantic City and Chester and a special prize in Melbourne. Volume 3 will deal with Burma, Thailand and Indochina.
    In 1942, The East Indies – Java, Sumatra, Celebes and thousands of islands big and small – had been under Dutch rule for 340 years. The country was stable and peaceful, for the most a paradise. In March 1942, that was all about to change. With the fall of Singapore and many other neighbouring territories, the Japanese invaded the country and within two weeks acquired the vast resources of the former colony. Life thereafter was never the same again. Servicemen of Dutch, British, Australian and American forces became prisoners of war. All Dutch and other aliens were interned. Many thousands of Eurasians suffered the same fate. Over 100,000 civilians lost their freedom. Their paradise was to be lost for three and a half years, in fact as it turned out, forever.
    The ability to communicate with relatives is one of the precious lifelines for prisoners in any war. In East Asia in the Second World War it was especially critical. It literally provided for many the will to live and a tenuous hold on life in those desperate years. This series of books provides for the first time a history of communications between the prisoners and their families, often imprisoned elsewhere. Hundreds of messages are reproduced, illustrating the anguish and instability of these lives tragically caught up in the conflict. Thus the book is more than just a postal history. It provides an insight into the meaning and importance of these communications both to those at home and those imprisoned.
    As with Volume 1, the author has tried to place the postal history in the context of the political, military and social history of the times. Chapters 1 and 2 paint the picture of the on-coming war and swift capitulation. Chapters 3 – 8, 12 and 13 detail the postal history of the time in the three most important islands and in Chapters 9, 10 and 11 stories of individuals are told through the medium of their surviving mails.
    There is much detail on the various prisoner of war and civilian internment camps, of great value to this historian whose mailbag is often full of requests about this camp or the other. I highly recommend this book and urge anyone with an interest in the Dutch East Indies from 1942-46 to add one to their library without delay. The book is available direct from the publishers BFA Publishing, PO Box 34, Wheathampstead, Herts AL4 8JY. Tel 01438-832849. Or from the website at
  8. wtid45

    wtid45 Very Senior Member

  9. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    I have Volume 3, which I picked up on EBay for £15. A real bargain for a very big and detailed book. It has a small section on Rangoon Jail, but concentrates as one might imagine on the correspondence from the Burma Railway POW's.

    If anyone thinks there might be something in it for them, please let me know and I will have a looksee!:)
  10. saddleback

    saddleback Junior Member


    sorry I am very new to this

    My father Daniel Thomas Jones went to changi and then to sumatra
    He was on the mine layer Teviot bank . If anyone has any info I would be very grateful. ( He was known as Taylor as he did clothing repairs )
  11. Pinkwoody

    Pinkwoody Junior Member

    Hi I am also researching Changi as i am told that my Gt uncle was a pow there,so far i have found no records for him but i wont give up as the same happened when i was searching his brother who was POW in a german camp in Poland at the same time...I now have records and pow numbers for him....

    Never give up searching!!! It may take time but with others helping and their knowledge you will get there....

    List of Changi Internees and POW's

    Changi Prison videos, images, text and audio
  12. jacksun

    jacksun Senior Member

    All I can find in the Japanese POW listing WO392/24. Not sure if it is him. The list is British POW's in Japanese hands. This of course would have been the LAST POW camp he was in if it is him.

    27418, Jones, Daniel Thomas, Gunner army #832108 8/3/42 - 2/9/45 Hiroshima camp

    Japanese POW index card reference WO 345/28, not sure what this will give you.



    sorry I am very new to this

    My father Daniel Thomas Jones went to changi and then to sumatra
    He was on the mine layer Teviot bank . If anyone has any info I would be very grateful. ( He was known as Taylor as he did clothing repairs )
  13. pepebear81

    pepebear81 Member

    I am researching my great uncle Stewart Potts. He we died Feb 1942 and was at hms sultan after his boat repulse sank. Any information about him would be great
  14. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

    Last edited: Jan 1, 2019
  15. pepebear81

    pepebear81 Member

    I must do that. I have a record that says he is missing north of bangka island but that is all. So am interested to know if he was trying to flee by boat during evacuation or was a pow.
  16. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

    on that day
    Sultan, Singapore evacuation

    CARTWRIGHT, Cyril, Leading Seaman, D/JX 129039, MPK

    HALL, Bernard B, Ordinary Seaman, D/JX 161433, MPK

    HOWES, Frederick W, Able Seaman, D/J 94901, MPK

    HUNTLEY, Cecil, Act/Petty Officer, D/JX 130379, MPK

    MCCLURG, Hamilton, Able Seaman, D/JX 204773, MPK

    NEVILLE, Jack, Boy 1c, D/JX 171020, DOW

    POTTS, Stewart, Stoker 2c, D/SKX 942, MPK

    REEVES, Edwin J, Able Seaman, D/JX 127215, MPK

    SPARKS, Jack, Lieutenant, Malayan RNVR, killed

    TREWERN, Alfred, Engine Room Artificer 4c, D/MX 50022, MPK

    Royal Navy casualties, killed and died, December 1940
  17. pepebear81

    pepebear81 Member

    Thank you. Does this mean that he would have been on a boat escaping Singapore? So lost at sea?
  18. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

    Quite possibly the Royal Naval casualty site states Singapore evacuation.
    His body was not found hence he is on the PLYMOUTH NAVAL MEMORIAL

    Stoker 1st ClassPOTTS, STEWART
    Service Number D/SKX 942

    Died 14/02/1942

    Aged 21

    H.M.S. Sultan
    Royal Navy

    Son of Stewart and Annie Potts, of Lisburn, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland.

    for your info have a read through
  19. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    UK, British Army and Navy Birth, Marriage and Death Records, 1730-1960
    Name: Stewart Potts
    Event: Death
    Birth Date: 19 Mar 1920
    Birth Place: Moneydaraghnore, Co. Down
    Death Date: 14 Feb 1942
    Death Age: 21

    The place is recorded as 'North of Banka Island' that could be slightly misspelt

    timuk likes this.
  20. pepebear81

    pepebear81 Member

    Wow, thank you all. I am new to research and this has all been very helpful

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