Hofuku Maru

Discussion in 'Prisoners of War' started by Redcap, Mar 5, 2010.

  1. papiermache

    papiermache Well-Known Member


    A few more points prompted by your posting.

    The defendant was the NCO in charge of the draft and not the Captain of the ship. This is an interesting point which the defendant raised in his defence. There was another NCO on board who was more senior. His senior officer was on board the ss Asaka Maru, which sailed in the same convoy from Singapore, and who may have allocated the numbers of POWs to each vessel. This officer was prosecuted in a separate case, along with the ship's master of the Asaka Maru, to be found at WO235/1052 at the National Archives. Both were convicted but received trivial sentences. Investigators also interviewed officers from the relevant Japanese shipping command to try to discover where blame lay.

    I have not read the article but an Assistant Professor of Law has written in the "Journal of International Criminal Justice" at Volume 8 Issue 4 in 2010 on the subject of " Post-World War II British 'Hell-Ship' Trials". This may discuss the point but the National Archives does not have a subscription to the publication and I am not going to spend $32 for the privilege of reading it for one day.

    The convoy that set out from Singapore on 4th July 1944 included five vessels carrying POWs. Using the figures from the excellent book called "Death on the Hellships" by Gregory F. Michno ( which I know to be in error as far as the Hofuku Maru is concerned) there were about 4,723 POWs on the vessels.

    Groups were generally 150 other ranks plus one officer and one medically qualified man. That would mean that between 31 and 32 groups had been assembled in camps in Thailand and crammed into railway trucks for the very unpleasant journey down to Singapore to assemble at Havelock Road camp or River Valley Road camp. Men were then marched to the docks for embarkation.

    I know that James W. Erickson who runs a website called "POWs of the Japanese" has worked for several years on the lists of men on board the Hofuku Maru and I acknowledge that he is the expert on lists. Because the ship ended up in the Philippines and because they were in the US sector then American Archives hold a lot of material about the vessel. We should not forget that there were Dutch POWs on board the ship and there are websites devoted to those men, apart from what the Dutch National Archives and other archives have.

    You refer to "69" party and the units your father referred to in his exercise book. I have come across four of the numbers of groups on board the Hofuku Maru, being 33,34,69 and 70. There should be seven groups for the British men and I can guess at the remaining numbers but will hesitate from doing so.

    It turns out that '69' party had a number of men in it who wrote accounts now to be found at the National Archives. They were in the forward part of the ship, as appears from one account I have seen.

    I have come across no less than 47 different units for the British men who died on board the vessel.

    The 1st and 2nd Battalions of the Cambridgeshire Regiment lost the most men, at about 106 casualties. Other units with losses in double figures were the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders 2nd Battalion, 122 Field Regt. RA, 125 Anti-Tank Regt. RA, 135 Field Regt. RA, 85 Anti-Tank Regt. RA, the Beds & Herts Regt. 5th Battalion, the East Surrey Regiment 2nd Battalion, the Gordon Highlanders 2nd Battalion, the Leicestershire Regiment 1st Battalion, The Loyal Regiment 2nd Battalion, the Manchester Regiment 1st Battalion, The Royal Norfolk Regiment 4th, 5th and 6th Battalions, the Royal Army Ordnance Corps, the Royal Army Service Corps, the Royal Corps of Signals, and the Suffolk Regiment 4th Battalion.

    As you say, it makes sober reading. However, more survived than is generally thought or shown on the internet. Of those who survived some embarked on further vessels to die from the conditions or be sunk by 'friendly fire.' Others died in prison camps in Taiwan or in Japan. About 907 British and Dutch men died when the Hofuku Maru sank or were reported as having died then. The trial shows that about 98 men died before but their deaths tend to be recorded as having taken place on the date of the sinking. James Erickson may have a lower figure than 98. He has a higher figure for those who set sail from Manila. It is a substantial task to trace everyone.

    I am not surprised that your father was unaware of the trial. One reason was that few of the trials were reported in the UK for the simple reason that international telegraphic cables cost a lot to send.

    I am glad that you have now had a look at what the trial was about. There is a lot more information in files in the WO361 series released to the public as late as April of 2011, under various titles.
  2. KKerr

    KKerr Junior Member

    Thanks for the welcome papiermache. I've sent some relevant documents via email - hope you have recieved them.

    I am really interested in your statement:
    "It turns out that '69' party had a number of men in it who wrote accounts now to be found at the National Archives."

    Do you know which men in this party wrote the accounts and do you have a reference for this?

    Many thanks.
  3. papiermache

    papiermache Well-Known Member


    I have received your email and given some information in reply.

    The major file which I have not had time to really look at is WO361/758 where a Sgt. Winstanley gives a typed account about half the way down the file. He was in group 69.

    There are a lot of what I call "Luzon" forms - see earlier in this thread - which were written by those men who were rescued and remained in the Philippines and who were liberated early in 1945 on the same file.

    File WO361/1387 has the account of a Sgt Burgess who must have been with the same group, unless I am mistaken, and a Pte Moore definitely refers to your father on this or another file.

    It is a bit like the proverbial London buses, nothing at all then three or four come along at once.
  4. Recce_Mitch

    Recce_Mitch Very Senior Member

    Karen, I would be interested in any information you have about 18th Div Recce that were on the ship.These men from 18 Recce were lost on the ship.


  5. papiermache

    papiermache Well-Known Member

    Karen and Mitch,

    Search for "Hofuku Maru" limited to files in series "WO361" at the UK National Archives will return three file references WO361/758 ( Note: this is a file with two folders according to TNA: I may only have seen one ), WO361/1387 and WO361/1515.

    The statement by Private R. Moore 5833060 which refers to Karen's father is on WO361/1515.

    Australian National Archives have a better policy than Kew National Archives. When they become aware of a file they put brief details on their computer system and say whether an archivist has checked the file. Anyone interested can contact them and ask them to accelerate the process of checking the file to see if it can be released, or digitised. The digitisation process and availability online is far superior to the Kew version. For example, all the Australian Minor War Crimes Trials are digitised and online. Their cases supplement the UK prosecutions. Anybody interested in Far East POWS should look at the files: they contain a wealth of information. Search for " Military Tribunal" limited to 1945 to 1953 and click on files with Japanese or Korean defendants.

    TNA at Kew simply open the file and put it on the system without prior warning. There appears to be no rhyme or reason as to why a lot of the files released in April last year could not have been released in 2005. Most files have a red stamp showing when it was last reviewed at the Ministry of Defence and by whom. A lot of the files were reviewed in 2005.

    The major file on the Hofuku Maru is WO361/758 and has lists of casualties and copies of international telegrams from Japan commencing in early 1945.The then MOD checked each name at some stage: some names are found to be not casualties in a very few cases. Units are sometimes given to the names. The file refers to something I do not know the proper title of which is "SB". The MOD check "SBs" and make lists, which are on the file. Anyone know what "SB" stands for ?

    To refer once again to Captain David Nelson and the work of the Bureau of Record and Enquiry, the Roll which relates to "18 Recce" is listed in his book "The Story of Changi" as:

    Roll No. 54 18th Bn Recce Battalion ( 5th Bn Loyal Regiment ) Pilot Roll: 18th Div. Inf

    I have not seen this file in WO361 but it may be there listed in a different way.

    The nominal roll should say when the men were moved to Thailand, their next of kin address, whether they were married, and anything else that can be fitted on to one line. The Pilot Roll usually states less.

    The exit from Thailand may not be noted: in a few cases I have seen the initials "OVL" crossed through and replaced by "OVS", meaning overland has been changed to overseas, and a month and year. David Nelson says as follows in his book, with the usual acknowledgements and apologies, :

    " Word reached us on the 4th ( July 1944 ) of a large body of Thailand Administration prisoners quartered at River Valley Road in the city, presumably staging on their way to Japan. At once we set in motion all the means at our disposal and succeeded in registering every individual - 900 Australian Imperial Forces, 600 Royal Netherlands and 850 British. We found Captain W. Barrett, a foundation member of the B.R.E., to be among them but were unable to contact him personally with safety. Concurrently, mail sorting was proceeding steadily, albeit slowly."

    The Kew National Archives Library does not have a copy of David Nelson's book, which gives an essential guide to the newly released holdings in WO361 relating to Far East POWs.
  6. papiermache

    papiermache Well-Known Member

    One of the problems faced in trying to trace the men on the Hofuku Maru is that men were evacuated to Manila from that vessel and from the ss Asaka Maru.

    One man on board the Asaka Maru makes several references to the Hofuku Maru in the piece I have transcribed which is a series of extracts from a diary of his experiences.

    With the usual acknowledgements and apologies this is from WO361/1775:

    SS/330/82/Cas PW
    WO361/1775 SS/330/82/1 ( Cas. P.W)

    while a Prisoner of War in Japanese Hands.

    OCTOBER - 1942

    25th: Left Changi, Singapore, 6.0.p.m. 31 British Other Ranks per truck.

    26th: Food issued twice that day: rice and tinned vegetable stew.

    27th: Arrived Alorstar.

    29th: 6.0.a.m. at Banpon.

    31st: Lorry to Canpuri. Marched from Canpuri to Chunkai.


    9th: No. 7 Working Battalion, Manchester Regiment and Gordon's stopped work on
    orders from British Officers and marched back to camp.

    10th: 1 man of the Loyal Regiment died, now a total of 10 deaths in camp:
    diptheria and dysentry.

    11th: Japanese Commandant lecture and kit search.

    14th: 2 deaths. Increase in working pay.

    18th: Major Cross, Johore Volunteers - he died and Staff Sgt. Major Henderson
    R.A.S.C. died.

    20th: Japanese sentries around the camp doubled.

    All British officers in camp parade at Japanese office for work.

    Small riot in Banpon between Tai police and Japanese soldiers.

    Postcards issued to British prisoners.

    22nd: British Officers stopped 3 dollars of their pay for one piece of soap and
    five sheets of toilet paper and also stopped 15 dollars for use of mosquito
    nets, so far not issued to them.

    23rd: All British prisoners have blood test.

    26th: Major Orme, East Surrey Regiment, knocked down twice by Japanese sentries
    for hesitating to hand over a Parong.



    6th: Pte. Luck, Leicestershire Regiment died.

    7th: 2 more deaths.

    22nd: Capt. Lacey, R.A. beaten up by Japanese Gestapo with Bamboos: cuts on
    arms, legs, back and head and broken fore-arm. Assisted to hospital by
    Col. Outram, R.A.., who protested to Japanese Commandant. Capt. Lacey taken
    to hospital.

    26th: No.7 Working Battalion move up country.

    27th: No.5 Working Battalion move up country.

    ( Personal note: Tooth extracted, no cocaine in camp).

    /FEBRUARY (1)


    FEBRUARY 1943

    2nd: 3 Officers of the Manchester Regiment absent from camp. Returned in
    12 hours. Placed in Japanese guard room, rice and water only for 3 days.
    No.1 Battalion move up country.

    6th: A Corporal of the R.A.O.C. died: diagnosis, Dysentery, diptheria and
    profound wasting.

    7th: Large party of Dutch arrive from Java. Increase of pay starts today.
    Senior N.C.O's 30 or 35 cents a day.

    13th: Soap issued from Japanese today. 60 bars for the camp.

    16th: 17th: Death on each day.

    18th: L/Cpl. Arnold, East Surrey Regiment died.

    19th: C.S.M. Bullard died.

    20th: 5 more diptheria cases reported. 2 deaths on that day, one of which
    was R.Q.M.S. Spencer, attached to the Kodah Volunteers.

    22nd: 40 sick arrive from Wunlun.

    24th: Another large party of sick from up country.


    18th: Very large party of sick down from up country.

    20th: Large party down from up country - sick.

    21st: Reported large parties of Australians moving up from Singapore. State
    there were no more Red Cross issues after October 1942.

    24th: Pte. Squires, Leicestershire Regiment, died.

    25th: Large party of sick down. Sgt. McPherson reported lost 3 stone in weight.
    8 attacks of malaria, malnutrition and beri-beri. Report up country troops
    were bathing in the river, collecting garbage from Jsapanese cookhouse for food.
    Strong wind and rain storm. Both cookhouses and other huts blown down.

    26th: Australians passing through camp report that Major Crafter, East Surrey
    Regiment, alive and fit in Batavia. Reported from No.1 Bridge Camp that the
    following 4 East Surrey Ptes. were caught after escaping and have been shot:-
    Ptes. Darval, Croker, Richardson and Cleaver. Many Dutch & Javanese from up
    country arriving in very bad condition, mainly dysentry.

    28th: 500 fit men move up country.

    29th: 200 sick men down country.

    30th: Large parties of Japanese guards, 50 or more, parade before dawn,
    reported to have shot 4 British Other Ranks for attempting to escape,
    including Sgt. Kelly, R.A.M.C. 2 Ptes. of the Northumberland Fusiliers, and
    1 of the R.A.O.C., believed to be Pte. Fitzgerald. Nippon sentry said
    " British very good, stand up straight", Sgt. " Very good", laughed at Japanese.
    These 4 prisoners have been in the Japanese guard room for 10 days.
    Number in hospital now 1400.

    31st: Another 200 sick men down.


    APRIL - 1943

    3rd: 200 sick down country and 550 British fit men sent up country.

    11th: Japanese soldiers comlained of lack of money. Pte. soldier gets 10 yen
    a month, Sgt. 60 yen, Lt. Medical Officer 150 yen, Col. 480 yen.

    12th: Lt. Colls, East Surrey Regiment, came down with a large party of sick.
    Had been fit for only 3 weeks in the last 5 months.

    15th: Inspection of camp by Japanese Medical Officer, who is supposed to be the
    new Camp Commandant.

    16th: Steam trains actually running on the railway.

    18th: 150 fit men moved to make room for ever increasing sick. New Japanese
    Medical Officer takes over the camp.

    20th: Some letters received in camp dated July 1942.

    22nd: Total in cemetery now 102. Dutch have a bad name for discipline in camp.

    23rd: 150 sick men down from up country. Tightening up of regulations by the
    new Japanese Commandant. 4 British soldiers standing outside Japanese guard-
    room, their hands tied behind them for smoking outside the hut. 1 man kneeling
    on the ground for several hours for failing to salute the Japanese Sgt.
    No man to stop in sick camp for more than two months without being returned to
    his Working Battalion.

    28th: Mail has been waiting at Canpuri for 5 days, but Japanese say they cannot
    afford transport to collect it ( Canpuri is about 5 kms. away ).

    30th: Ordered up country. Proceeded to Canpuri and waited at Canpuri overnight.
    Large working party left behind in Singapore, now seen in Canpuri.


    1st: Entrained.

    2nd: Near Arrau Hill camp, 103 km. mark. Long gradient on railway. Most trains
    fail to make the gradient. Troops off-load and march.

    3rd: Unload kit, hospital stores at Arrau Hill. Japanese Commander, Sgt. Omitaz,
    loots British hospital stores and kit.

    4th: March up country, leaving kit behind - orders of Japanese. Joined up with
    main column, about 500 men, carrying cooking utensils, 4-gallon cans, etc.
    Most men without boots and clad in "G" Strings only. Majority of men bad feet,
    ulcers on legs. Crossed Wompo Bridge. Bridge constructed of green wood in
    three main sections, 50 piers, 13 piers and 7 piers.

    5th: Arrived at 118 Km. mark. Continued moving up on 5th, 6th and 7th.

    7th: Marched approx. 10 Kms.

    8th: 7.a.m. plain rice, tea. Marched off. Track climbing over hills.
    Arrived 150 km mark - Australian camp.

    9th: Reveille 6.30. plain rice and burnt rice substitute coffee. Kinsiau.

    10th: Marched 15 kms., road very hilly. Arrived at Rintin. 120 Dutch graves
    in jungle, reported to have died in 4 weeks of dysentry. Camp being demolished.

    / MAY (cont'd)

    MAY - 1943 (cont'd)

    11th: Reveille 5.45 a.m. rice, porridge and tea. Marched 17 kms. to Endato -
    Dutch camp. Cpl. Gray, L/Cpl. Mordecai, East Surrey Regiment, both very sick.
    Reported proceeding down country.

    12th: Thin rice porrideg for breakfast. Left 8 a.m. Quite a good road.
    Marched 17 kms. Dutch camp. All collected wood for Dutch cookhouse, two
    journeys to the jungle.

    13th: Marched 17 Kms. Arrived at camp occupied by Battalions 1, 6 and 8.
    Carried on to Takanun Base Camp, km. mark 206.

    15th: Small herd of cattle driven in. 3 British deaths in two hours. Three
    or four very old tents put up for hospital, no other accommodation. 1 man
    dead in the field when party marched in.

    16th: 2 funerals at 12 noon, 1 funeral at 2 p.m., 3 funerals at 2.30 p.m.
    Dutch, and 1 funeral at 5 p.m.

    17th: 2 deaths.

    18th: 3 deaths.

    20th: Very wet night, most of the men still sleeping in the open.

    21st: Postcards issued by the Japanese for sending away. 3 deaths.

    24th: Cholera reported in camp, 3 deaths.

    25th: 6 cholera deaths, 19 cases reported.

    26th: Cholera innoculations by Japanese.

    31st: Total of 82 cholera patients, deaths in the last 4 days 26.


    4th: 9 bodies burned today, dead from cholera, 6 died yesterday and 6 today.

    6th: No vegetables, fresh or dry for over six days now.


    1st: 215 graves in the cemetery, i.e., approx. 12 per cent of the camp's
    strength in something over two months.

    13th: Japanese informed British Commandant 120 sick men are to work on the
    railway. Camp employments: cookhouse staff, hospital staff, etc., cut to a
    minimum. Pay for men in camp cut down to 10 cents and 15 cents. Reported
    as reprisals for sinking of Japanese Hospital Ship.

    14th: 21 admissions to hospital - cholera, 2 deaths and 1 death from diptheria.

    15th: Japanese issued today 1 tin of milk between 26 men, 75 per cent of the
    tins blown and useless. 2 ozs of wet flour per man, two years old. 1 sack
    of coffee beans, 1 small raffia sack of sugar and some Japanese cigarettes
    in Three Castle's packets as a special gift.

    16th: Large Australian party, including Capt. Barnett, the Cricketer, moving
    down. Less than 100 men fit out of a camp of 500. Inoculations for cholera.

    / JULY (continued)

    JULY - 1943 (cont'd)

    17th: Japanese Medical Officer visits British hospital, takes names of
    3 R.A.M.C. Orderlies who have died and promises to notify British Government
    that they died through devotion to duty. Cpl. Freer, Manchester Regiment,
    died today.

    23rd: Large parties of coolies, malays and tamils passing up country.

    26th: Group 4 now moving up country ahead of our camp.


    5th: 889 sick down from Col. Swinton's camp. Very very bad, some blind.

    6th: Party of 5th Battalion Suffolk's pass up country, report they have had
    57 deaths in a party of 400 on the way up country. 80 men of Group 4 sleep
    on sandbank in river overnight.

    8th: River seems to be dropping. Fresh vegetables, pumpkins, issued today.
    First time for over seven days.

    11th: No fresh vegetables again and meal very poor.

    13th: Sgt. Hilsden, Leicestershire Regiment, died of cholera in hospital.

    19th: Very small fresh vegetables today.


    4th: Railway workers working from until 8 p.m. (sic)

    24th: Japanese organised a Sports day. Anniversary of the formation of
    Group 2 in Thailand.

    28th: ( See October).


    Sep. 28th to
    Oct. 3rd:

    Working most nights until 1 a.m. in the morning unloading barges, rice,
    beans, etc. Very heavy work.

    4th: Received 6 letters today, dated between August 4th and October 24th 1942.

    8th: 400 sick being evacuated today from this camp to Chunkai.

    9th: 150 for evacuation. Parties of sick also coming down to this camp from
    other camps. British deaths in this camp from May now total 245.

    12th: At work unloading barges, work very hard, heavy sacks.
    13th: Working after evening meal.

    17th: General holiday.

    22nd: First steam train comes right up the line and through.

    24th: Preparations for official opening of railway. Tinned fish etc., issued
    by Japanese.

    25th: Japanese Sports day and holiday. Celebrate opening of railway,
    British and Dutch play football.

    30th: Japanese cinema show 3 newsreels and propaganda films.


    NOVEMBER - 1943

    3rd: 14 Japanese soldiers from camp leave for fighting in Burma.


    16th: Ceremony at British cemetary. All Japanese officers attend with wreaths
    in honour of British prisoners of war who have died on the railway.
    British football team defeats Japanese football team.

    ( Over Christmas )

    Issue of fruit, pompeles, bananas, and limes, presumed to have come from
    money donated by American Red Cross through Swiss Consulate, Bancock. Lot of
    fruit looted and some bad. Unable to get train to send fruit and food
    forward up country to other camps.

    FEBRUARY - 1944

    14th: Red Cross issues. 1 box containing four mouth organs, one banjo, one set
    of badminton lit, two violins, twelve packs of cards and dart-board. Complete
    issue for all of Group 2.

    25th: Japanese phrases and words of command to be learnt by all British
    prisoners under orders to go to Japan. Dry fish and dry vegetables diet
    now. Rice short owing to bad sacks and broken sacks. Japanese are still
    issuing a broken or half sack as a complete sack.

    28th: 5 companies of 150 men each entrain at 5 p.m. for Chunkai.

    29th: 8 p.m. arrive at Chunkai.

    211 Km. camp: Approx. 100 graves.

    Takamun cemetery: About 800 graves.

    Chunkai cemetery: Approx. 1500 graves.

    ( Those figures quoted for June 1944 from hospital records)


    5th: 3 letters received, all dated June, July 1942.

    5th: Sick men on Japanese draft replaced.

    6th: Air raid alert, ack-ack guns heard very close. Do not know exactly
    where they were.

    8th: New clothes issued to Japanese drafts, consisted of khaki drill jackets,
    khaki drill shorts, white vests, long woollen pants, white cotton socks and
    canvas boots.

    10th: Entrain for Nunpladuck railway siding, 43 to a truck. Taken off to
    Nunpladuck transit camp. Carefully kept segregated from remainder of men in
    main camp.

    11th: Blood test and cholera test. Physical trainin in mornings and evenings.

    ( General note:- Over this period there was no work other than camp
    fatigues and several trips to the railway siding for loads of wood
    etc. These 5 companies were standing by to proceed to Japan almost
    day by day. Small entertainments allowed in the huts in the evenings,
    such as debates, quizzes etc. Several small concerts arranged on
    Saturday evenings).

    / APRIL

    APRIL - 1944

    2nd: S.Q.M.S. Adlington, R.A.O.C. died.


    3rd: 1 death, malignant malaria.

    ( General note:- Over this period several air raids on some occasions,
    American Bombers seen going over in the afternoons towards Bancock.
    Ack-ack battery next door to camp, manned by Indians. Open fire each
    time, shooting very inaccurate. All British prisoners of war confined
    to huts, during alerts, guards at all doors, all blankets and washing
    removed from lines outsside (sic). Japanese occupy slit trenches).

    8th: Cholera reported at Canpuri.

    10th: Inoculations for cholera.

    11th: Surprise search by Japanese, all kit checked, all papers found
    confiscated and destroyed.

    16th: Japanese prohibit evening entertainments.

    17th: Japanese issue orders to British prisoners of war camp police that all
    Tai nationals seen near the fences are to be reported. Japanese apparently
    very anxious about Tai's and relations between Tai's and Japanese seem to
    be getting worse.

    18th: Red cross kit arrived today. Tonight 20 Tai cigarettes and 18 American
    cigarettes were issued. That night a train of sick men from Chunkai passed
    through to Nuncomprador, the new sick camp towards Bancock. Reports that this
    camp has running water, some lights, wooden huts and good floors.

    19th: Remainder of the Red Cross kit issued. One parcel for six months.
    Cocoa and some other commodities all issued to hospital, remainder divided.

    22nd: Postcards issued again for sending home, had to be handed in that night.

    25th: Working parties in main camp excavating swimming pool, repairing roads,
    paths etc. No.1 Group, parties for Japan, standing by from midnight.

    26th: Small issues of Red Cross kit. Local purchases through Swiss Consulate:
    boiled ham, local biscuits and native coffee. 600 men of No.1 Group proceed
    to Singapore today for Japan.


    3rd: Third cholera and blood test.

    8th: One party of 150 left for Singapore.

    9th: Four parties leave for Canpuri railway sidings 6.30 p.m., 31 men to a
    truck. Cleaned out trucks of lime and other refuse and then loaded trucks
    with about twenty sacks of rice before getting in. Off about midnight.

    10th: 4 a.m. in the morning. 1-4 gallon tin of boiled rice issued to last for
    one day, i.e. two meals. Half of container of thin vegetable stew between
    two trucks for the same period. On journey down all British camouflaged
    with palm leaves. Several train loads of Japanese soldiers proceeding north
    into Thailand.


    JUNE - 1944 (cont'd)

    10th: We stopped for rice and bean soup for two meals, one pail.

    12th: 7 a.m. in the morning arrived at Alorstar, Prai at 10.30 a.m. Two
    Japanese troop trains in from Singapore from Thailand. Japanese soldiers
    appear disappointed when we say we are not prisoners from Burma. Food
    issues very small.

    12th: 6 p.m. at Taiping. Eurasian station staff, by chalking on a small board
    held back inside the station master's office, inform us that there have been
    landings on the continent of France. Appearance of Malaya very dead, no
    talking or laughing amongst the inhabitants; no crowds. Main towns Taiping,
    Epoh, K.L., etc., half deserted, very little motor traffic and that all
    official Japanese.

    13th: Gemas on Johore border. Johore State forces in Japanese hats and manning
    all strongpoints, guarding stations and bridges. Apparently a general
    mobilisation of Johore State forces and fully co-operating with the Japanese.
    Light machine guns and ack-ack batteries.

    14th: Sometime after midnight arrived at Singapore. Marched through dark city,
    curfew imposed, no pedestrians about. Marched to old camp at Havelock Road.

    14th: Havelock Road, Singapore. Rations poor. Small rice issues, only
    to vegetable is tapioca roots. Some fish issued every day, one day half a shark.
    16th: Indians in encampment 200 yards away. Still very faithful, saluting British
    officers and correctly addressing British N.C.O's. Well disciplined and well
    organised under their own N.C.O's, very helpful. Gave our party some extra
    rations and clothing.

    16th: The "Syonan Shimbun" dated the 13th June, admits Second Front opened in

    18th: Farewell address read from Japanese Colonel on our leaving Thailand for
    Japan. Marched to railway station, passed railway station and turned into
    dock area. Remained on dock side until about mid-day. Each man on embarking
    had to carry a large bundle of smoked rubber to stack on ship. Embarked on
    old single-funnel type steamer, estimated 6,000 to 7,000 tons, built on the
    Clyde 1902. Men marched down into hold at aft part of ship. 27 men in a
    space estimated to be 12ft. wide, 13ft. deep and not 3 ft. high. Only able
    to sit with knees up, impossible to lie down or stand up. All kit, blankets,
    etc., just left in heaps in centre of hold. British officers immediately
    complained to Japanese Ship Commandant, Capt. Eno (?). Several men faint and
    all suffering from heat exhaustion. Later Japanese Commandant gives permission
    for men to stay on aft deck and forward deck. Total on board 750 British
    prisoners of war, 6 officers including 2 Medical officers. Approximately
    40 or 50 Japanese large outside galleys and stoves on aft deck. Large ice-
    boxes and baskets of stores. Three Japanese staff cars and one water tank
    car on forward hold. That evening pulled out into harbour.

    ( General Note:- 3 meals a day, rice very small and thin coloured soup at
    8 in the morning. Fish water and rice at 11 a.m. and watery stew and rice
    at 4 p.m. Sometimes tea served, small ration, but mainly from salty water.
    Water for bathing only available two or three hours a day from a hydrant
    inside of ship. At a later period this was reduced to one hour a day.

    25th: Parade of all men with life-belts. 300 men on forward deck, 125 without
    life-belts, these men told to collect bales of rubber and use as life-rafts.
    Wooden rafts on the ship's deck very old and worm-eaten.


    JUNE - 1944 (cont'd)

    26th: Rained during the night, no shelter for men on deck, everything soaked.
    Korean driver of two staff cars lashed on deck, deliberately aggravating
    conditions by making men keep away from cars and tipping water from pools on
    the tarpaulin over men's kit.

    28th: Large convoy of Japanese troopships into Singapore. One ship very
    badly holed by torpedo. Great aerial activity by Japanese.


    3rd: 17 sick men taken off ship and sent to Changi camp, Singapore. Nearly
    all men on board suffering from beri-beri in some form or other, mainly feet
    and ankles and knees, a lot of stomach trouble reported.

    4th: 9 o'clock in the morning, anchor up, ship sailed. 10 o'clock convoy
    formed, escort of three small torpedo boats or small destroyers.

    5th: Steaming S.S.E. 8 knots, several times slower. 5 p.m. small island
    seen port-side.

    6th: Course changed to N.E. Daylight, land on the starboard, food worse.

    7th: Corse still N and N.E.

    8th: Pack from ice-boxes thrown over the side - bad. 6.30 p.m. anchored in
    open harbour in eight fathoms of water. Many oil derricks on shore. Several
    small Japanese tankers in harbour, very little apparent activity on shore or
    in boats. Place believed to be Miru, in Borneo.

    10th: 5 p.m. anchor up, ship sailed. Convoy consisting of 15 or 16 ships
    sailing S.W. at first. One ship turned back, containing other Group 2
    prisoners, 1250 of them. 8 p.m. course N.W. by N.N.W.

    11th: 4.30 p.m. Passed between two islands in a large bay, outlet on port-
    side, very large mountain at East end of bay, name of mountain believed to be
    Kamabulu. Anchored 8 p.m.

    12th: Left 1.0 p.m.

    13th: Rain at night, little sleep for anybody on fore or aft decks.
    14th: Mountainous country on port-side. 6 British prisoners of war working in
    ship's stoke hold.

    16th: Small islands on all sides, entrance to large bay, pass
    Corregidor. Old American barracks on top of hill still burnt out. Anchor
    down 9.0 p.m. Two rain showers.

    17th Still in Manila Bay. Heavy rain over three days - typhhon. Impossible
    to to find shelter on decks, hold now crowded with sick prisoners.

    19th: Went into harbour tied up alongside wharves. British officer's request
    for men to exercise on deck refused by Japanese.

    20th Very little supplies taken on board. No meat, no fish, few vegetables,
    to mainly wilted or bad. Filipinos working on coaling the ship; by their talk
    24th they are 99 per cent American still. Many sick on boad now, malaria, beri-
    beri and dysentery.

    24th: Out harbour and anchored in bay. Large Japanese troopship convoy in.

    30th: One death.


    AUGUST - 1944

    8th: Myself and 20 other men evacuated by barge to American prison camp
    Bilibid, Manila.

    Midnight: Admitted to American prison camp in Bilibid prison. Camp beds,
    mattresses, blankets and stone building. First time for 2 1/2 years.

    9th: Americans start treatment carbosil and multiple vitamins. Large stocks
    of American Red Cross kit and medical kit held. Issue of mosquito net,
    shaving cream, soap, toothbrush, towels, etc., for the first time. 12 dead
    bodies of British prisoners of war brought ashore and buried, from other ships
    still in harbour.

    25th: 31 very bad cases came in from the same ship. Terrible condition, mainly
    dysentery and beri-beri. Doctors work all night giving blood plasma etc.

    31st: 8 of this last party of 31 have died. Library in Bilibid prison, first
    time we have seen a book since capitulation. Ration about 10 ozs of rice a
    day, some vegetables but not much. Americans received one English and one
    Canadian Red Cross parcel Christmas 1942 and 7 1/4 parcels per man last
    November 1943. Americans have also sent cables and postcards with 100, 50,
    and 25 extra words inscribed. All prisoners today allowed to send one


    1st: 5 British prisoners of war sent to Cabantuan ( Farm camp ). American
    prisoner of war camps in the Philippines being cleared of all fit men. Slight
    cut in rations.

    20th: Plain rice only for two days, no vegetables.

    23rd: Late at night 221 British prisoners of war survivors brought into
    hospital from prisoner of war ship sunk by American planes near Subic Bay.
    Picked up by fishing boats and brought into harbour. Japanese destroyers
    escorting the convoy only picked up Japanese, most of the men in the water for
    five hours. They report that 500 men were sick in the holds and all these are
    thought to have drowned. Boat went down in under two minutes. 94 or 97
    bodies dropped over the side during the time they were in the Bay. Some few
    others may have been picked up by other boats and taken to other ports. Counting
    men already sent to Bilibid from this ship, approximately 750 are thought to
    have been drowned.

    27th: Japanese now issuing hard Indian maize ( or chicken's food) two years old,
    in lieu of rice on various occasions.

    30th: Rations cut to two meals a day, Japanese excuse to save wood. One meal
    at 8 a.m. second meal 3 p.m.


    1st: Draft left today for Japan including 150 British, the fittest off of the
    torpedoed ship. Approximate total 1000 prisoners. Still only two meals a day.
    Plain rice at 8 a.m. Rice and corn with a faint taste of pork at 3 p.m.

    2nd: Second man from the last party in died today.

    9th: Draft of Americans from Cabantuan report that 61 survivors, mainly
    Dutch off of the torpedoed ship are in that camp.

    11th: Another large draft away.


    OCTOBER - 1944

    16th: Reports from Japanese say two drafts are only going to Formosa, not to
    Japan. Plain rice all day, no vegetables.

    21st: News in the camp of Americans landing on islands south of Luzon.

    24th: Pte. Gregory, 5th Royal Norfolk's died.

    29th: Everybody in prison seems generally weaker. Mostly everyone has beri-
    beri owing to short diet. No meat or fish in the last three ration issues.


    4th: Contacted Lt. Swann, locally enlisted officer British Army, attached to
    U.S. Army, making list of all British Other Ranks in American hands.

    15th: Draft of 150 limbless and very sick men sent to McKinley today.


    13th: Last draft for Japan left at 8 a.m.

    17th: Food and cooking utensils sent out of prison to survivors of last
    American prisoner of war ship which was torpedoed just outside Manila. Ship
    was reported to be unmarked and sunk by American torpedo-carrying aircraft.
    Reported to be less than 800 survivors from this ship.

    22nd: Personal packages from relatives through American Red Cross received in
    Manila over twelve months ago and unclaimed have now been issued by the
    Japanese to the American Commandant for distribution. Majority of them are in
    very bad condition, eaten by rats and ants.

    24th: Japanese building strongpoints and machine-gun posts round the prison.
    Clothing from personal packages issued to all prisoners as far as possible,
    any foodstuffs to the kitchen for general mess.

    26th: All of our area of the camp to be cleared out. Civilian internees from
    Bagio being sent down to Manila.

    28th Men, women and children civilian internees brought into prison camp by
    to lorry in the part of the prison just vacated. Sentries placed over the gates, no
    29th chance of communicating. They are apparently getting the same rations as us
    with the exception of a few tins of milk for children.

    JANUARY - 1945

    7th: News in camp of American landings on Luzon.

    7th: Large party of Taiwan guards have left the prison.

    8th) Demolitions taking place in town, heavy reports over two or three days
    and) from various parts of the city.

    10th: Japanese controlled paper, "The Manila Tribune" admits four landings
    on Luzon.

    14th: Japanese paper "Manila Tribune" complains of lack of co-operation of
    Philippine people, complains of looting and condemns refugees for leaving
    Manila and cluttering up the roads. Demolitions still continue in these
    next few days.


    JANUARY- 1945

    17th: Machine gun and rifle shots, during the night, very close to prison.

    21st: It has been given out officially that the last prisoner of war ship that
    was hit and sunk, the men have been transferred to another ship on the
    26th December and that ship has now been sunk, believed with all hands.

    25th: Grain ration cut by a third, now getting corn instead of rice almost

    26th: Artillery fire heard.

    31st: Very very heavy gun fire heard in the night to the South and South West.


    1st: Red, White and Blue kite seen flying from Filipino House over prison wall.

    3rd: Heavy artillery going off from 5 a.m. News in the camp from the guards
    that the American troops are 15 kms. away. Very low flying American aircraft
    flying around the prison. Japanese returning Red Cross medical kit to
    American stores from Japanese Quartermaster's stores. Machine gun fire,
    mortar fire and artillery fire very heavy. Sound of tanks or armoured fighting
    vehicles. Very large fires in most parts of the city.

    4th: 11 a.m. Nippon guards march out of the prison and leave the camp.
    Notice board put on the prison gate by Nippon Commander, in English and
    Japanese saying it was a "Prison Camp". American civilians in other part of
    prison run up an American flag. Heavy explosions and large fires all over the

    SUNDAY 4th FEBRUARY, 7 p.m.

    Barred and wooden shutters on the outside wall were battered
    down by three American soldiers. American tanks and infantry have now
    encircled the prison camp and are remaining on guard all night. Large fires
    still over Manila. Japanese apparently blowing up and burning everything they
    have to leave.
    dbf and Enigma1003 like this.
  7. KKerr

    KKerr Junior Member

    Karen, I would be interested in any information you have about 18th Div Recce that were on the ship.These men from 18 Recce were lost on the ship.



    Hi Paul
    I’ve looked at Dad’s book regarding the 18th Div Recce names. Five in total are there listed as being in “69 Party” as I’ve detailed below. Three of them correspond to your list. The others were probably not in “69 Party” which was my father’s party so that’s why he didn’t list them.

    Platoon 1
    Cpl Robins
    Pvt Ashley
    Pvt Kelly
    Pvt Murrell

    Platoon 2
    Pvt Leach

    I would say it is a typo by my father and that Ashley and Murrell are in fact Astley and Merrill respectively that you refer to. Dad didn’t write anything next to the names in Platoon 1 which meant that as far as he knew they were lost when the boat sank. He did write “Man” next to Pvt Leach signifying that he died at Manila.

    At the end of the book Dad made a summary and of the 18th Div Recce he put that there were 5 in total, 1 Cpl and 4 Pvts. One was lost on 24/8 at Manila(Pvt Leach) and the other 4 were missing.

    If you pm me with your email address I’ll gladly send you the relevant pages if you’d like. Forgive my ignorance but I would like to know what was the 18th Div Recce?
  8. KKerr

    KKerr Junior Member


    I have received your email and given some information in reply.

    The major file which I have not had time to really look at is WO361/758 where a Sgt. Winstanley gives a typed account about half the way down the file. He was in group 69.

    There are a lot of what I call "Luzon" forms - see earlier in this thread - which were written by those men who were rescued and remained in the Philippines and who were liberated early in 1945 on the same file.

    File WO361/1387 has the account of a Sgt Burgess who must have been with the same group, unless I am mistaken, and a Pte Moore definitely refers to your father on this or another file.

    It is a bit like the proverbial London buses, nothing at all then three or four come along at once.

    Hi again,
    This is great news to hear that my father was mentioned in Pvt Moores statement. Do you have any idea what it says about him? I was wondering if you have copies of these statements or are they just what you have seen and remembered on your trips to the National Archives? If you have any documents I would love to see them and as I don't live very close to Kew I don't think I'd be able to get there for quite some time.

    Sgt Winstanley is listed in 1 Platoon in Dad's book - the same Platoon as Dad and he's also listed to as being a survivor. Pvt R Moore was in 69 Party 3 Platoon and listed as a survivor too. I can't find a Sgt Burgess listed although his name rings a bell for some reason.

    The other secret diary that you posted is fantastic and should have seen the light of day long before now I think. It's so sad and gives a real insight into what these poor men endured. Thanks for posting it and please keep in touch.
  9. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    Hi All,

    I have been following this thread over the last couple of days and have enjoyed the content immensely.

    I tried to give papiermache some rep points, but due to the fact that I have awarded such points to him before, cannot do so again at present. Could I ask that one or more of the major recipients of his information on this thread award the reps on my behalf please. That's if you have not done so already.:D

    Thanks and great info papiermache.

  10. papiermache

    papiermache Well-Known Member

    Thanks to Owen for editing out the smilies ( which I asked him to do) in the "secret diary."

    My general idea is to publish material as retyped documents rather than digital photographs. Although this might seem odd since I would probably know enough one day to put the whole story together I have seen a learned Professor do the same in advance of publishing a learned treatise on an Elizabethan character. In other words, you will have to wait for my lousy typing. I am using Text Edit now rather than Word.

    Thanks for the bouquet, Steve. I am blushing. What I am pleased about is to hear about Karen's new archive, so if typing and publishing brings material such as CSM Kerr's exercise book to light then it is worth the effort.

    For the latest instalment I have typed the typed version of Private R. Moore's interview in Taiwan ( there is a handwritten version on file WO361/1515) and publish it here, with the usual apologies and acknowledgements:


    5833060 Pte MOORE R. "2 Cambs" Inf

    ON 21 SEPT 1944 OFF MANILA


    Singapore 27.6.44 to Borneo 1.7.44
    Borneo 11.7.44 to Manila 16.7.44
    Manila 20.9.44 Sunk by bombing.
    ( American Planes (3 hits) 21.9.44 at 1045 hrs.


    About 1100 British
    About 150 Dutch
    Total 1250 Approx.


    Fast 2 minutes.


    SINGAPORE- BORNEO. Food fair. No deaths.

    BORNEO No food available - Ship's crew advised PsW no food
    purchaseable because all supplies under Jap Army control.

    Pay as due PsW handed to Capt EVANS (Manchester Regt. ex Singapore), at Singapore - 10 days pay - At Borneo Capt EVANS handed over this money to Jap Sgts known as "BASQUITO" and "NORAI" ( This latter probably correct Jap name) to enable purchase of supplies. Only commodities purchased, one basket peanuts, one basket chillis. Total cost 100 yen. Balance of money retained by Japs.

    BORNEO-MANILA (4 1/2 days) ( 16.7.44 to 20.9.44 )

    Food very short at MANILA. Conditions VERY BAD. 2 meals daily.

    Morning rice porridge "Pap". Evening boiled rice and one spoonful potato. Many men too ill to eat. General digestive complaints, Beri-Beri. 96 DEATHS in this period. Bodies buried at sea. Lists probably with Capt EVANS and/or C.S.M. F.KERR ( See under "survivors" ).

    MANILA-TAIWAN. Conditions worse. One biscuit and 1/2 tin water ( milk tin) daily. Majority in NUDE. Clothes lost while in water. No clothes provided. Very cold. Typhoon encountered en route.


    1st PARTY. Including informant 53 survivors picked up 3 to 4 hours after sinking by one (1) destroyer 29 ((persons)), and one (1) gunboat 24 persons. Proceeded TAIWAN. 23 Sept (Destroyer) and 24 Sept (Gunboat) taken to Camp close to TAKHU harbour. Moved next day to HIATO camp on TAIWAN. Further movements see "A" Interrogation No 1 form !

    En route TAIWAN, one death on destroyer, three on gunboat. Names unknown.

    Approx 20 of this party are now Recovered PsW and in this camp today. Senior man present is CSM F. KERR believed to have lists of names. On arrival TAIWAN senior Officer was Capt EVANS ( Manchester Regt ex Singapore) evacuated TAIWAN, proceeding JAPAN 19 Jan 1945. No further information.

    2nd PARTY. Arrived TAIWAN about early Nov 44 being part of a mixed party ex MANILA. Story related by several of party including L/Cpl CCOPER T of 2 Cambs (Inf) who left TAIWAN for JAPAN 19.1.45. Pte SHURY, recovered PW at present in this camp.

    This party picked up by Japanese fishing vessels and taken to MANILA, interned PW Camp. While en route Manila again attacked by American Aircraft. No sinkings. Believed one PW killed - name unknown.

    Leaving Manila, party split and embarked on two (2) ships one of which believed sunk. ( Interview Pte SHURY.)

    Date 11 Sept 45.

    (Sgd) R.MOORE

    (Witness) T.P.BRAZIER. Lieut.
    Recce_Mitch and Owen like this.
  11. KKerr

    KKerr Junior Member

    Thank you so much for that papiermache - I'm so excited to know this statement actually exists and Dad is mentioned in it. I can't wait to get hold of a copy myself. You are a gem! Many many thanks.
  12. papiermache

    papiermache Well-Known Member

    In WO361/758 there is a letter dated 18th April 1946 to the MOD Casualty Section which commences: " I am enclosing the original typescript stories of Sjts Burgess and Winstanley, and also some recent correspondence I have had with them, all of which I should be glad to have back as soon as you have finished with them." The letter is signed by "Henry E.F. Phillips." who I have not come across before but who will probably appear in the Army List.

    Both the "stories" are by soldiers on board the Hofuku Maru and subsequent events.

    I have typed these out as they appear with some typographical changes to insert paragraphs but retaining original spelling.

    It is clear that Sgt. Burgess was at the aft of the ship, and I was mistaken in saying he was with "69" party.

    In Sgt Winstanley's account ( Sgt James Winstanley 5949700 ) I have edited out a soldier's name and put an "x" in case it causes unnecessary distress.

    With the usual acknowledgements and apologies, here they are, first Sgt Winstanley's story:




    We left Thailand on June 6th 1944 and as a P.O.W. we all thought we were going to better ourselves, in such as food and living conditions, but time proved that we were sadly mistaken.

    I can always remember before we left Chungkai how all men of the 5th Bedfs assembled one night and had a chat over a drink of the coffee that the P.R.I
    used to sell out there. Then on the day we moved all our Unit that was due to
    leave for Japan was given the (dope) news from Major Robinson. June 6th the day that France was invaded, but we were not to know then. I saw Capt Wormleighton who was then in the hospital with fever and an ulcer.

    Well we were pushed in to the cattle vans as was the custom of travelling
    with the Japs. I think 38 men to one van and it took us four days to reach Singapore. We were billeted in Havelock Road Camp on the smallest of rice rations for just over two weeks, all the men at that time were pretty fit considering, apart from the fever. I was in 69 Party, O/C was than Capt Evans of the Manchesters, CSM Kerr of the Cambs and myself was acting CQMS, most parties consisting of 150 personnel.

    On the morning of June 27th we marched to the docks and boarded a Jap ahip called Hopkuku Maru, about 10,000 tons, 1,250 men were crammed on, 600 men in each of the holds alloted to us.

    We were given two meals a day, water was scarce for drinking, although the Japs could drink and clean their teeth in it. After one day in dock we set sail to our sorrow. Nothing did happen till we got to Manilla, only that most of us had been suffering from Beri Beri of some description, such as blindness, loss of memory and unable to walk and internal pelagra

    During all the voyage all the officers such as Capt Evans, Capt Dean of the Cambs,. tried their utmost to purchase or steal from the Japs better food but it was of no avail until we called at Borneo, but still no improvement in the food. Breakfast on the first meal was just plain rice boiled as a porridge, tea was made out of salt water, the second meal was boiled rice again with a tablespoon of vegetable and perhaps one ladle of soup from the vegetables. The veg. comprised of potato tops, pumpkin leaves, it was a headache for the one to issue it out.

    We were a mixed company and nearly a few of every Unit were present including 250 Dutch. The Jap sergeant in Charge was mad and treated us shockingly. Dr Lewis was our doctor nearly all the way and did good work under the conditions.

    I was at the forward end of the ship with all 69 party, of our Unit there were Sgt Wright of A Coy, Welham & Johnson of D Coy, Karhy, Hayes J, O'Mahony, Peasnall, Edwards, Clarke C.H., Emerton, Heeley, Ives R, Plum, Gilfillan, Hanlon, Mc'Cue, High, Mac'Donald, Burns, Chorlton, Hayward, Ingram, Cpl Hornett, all other Bedfs & Herts were at the other end of the ship with Sgt. Burgess.

    On reaching Manilla things were in a bad state we lost Pte Heeley of D Coy who died of Beri-beri, Pte. Nugent of A Coy died of Interior Pelagra, Hands of D Coy died of Beri-beri, Hayes P of D Coy died of Beri-beri. These four men died and were buried at sea. Heeley and Nugent I myself saw to their kit that they left was issued to them by the Japs.

    Before we set sail from Manilla on 20th Sept 1944 we buried 99 men at sea, and another 50 men were taken to the hospital at Manilla and left there after a lot of persuading. Now up to the 20th Sept. the Americans had never shown up, either by bombing or by submarines, and all this while we had been having our ballast taken out, and the engines repaired. The natives that is the Phillipinos gave us the news when they could and a good supply of sugar which they themselves stole from a boat alongside of us.

    Anyway we carried on, everyday the situation getting worse, rumours of sailing that never seemed to come true. By now everyone had some kind of illness. The hold that we had turned into a hospital was packed full with what we thought was the worse cases, the flies by this having over run the ship. At times we thought

    Sheet 2 Sgt Winstanley's Story.

    of taking the ship in our hands but the chances of getting away were slim. All the men played up to the situation very well, just an odd case here and there where the officers had to step in, some hardly seemed to sleep at all.

    We had eight buckets down our hold for latrine purposes, Dr Lewis did some good operations with razor blades and knife such as appendicitus, cases of Beri-beri had their feet cut so as to rid them of some water, and yet most of us had the feeling that that we could not reach Japan on that boat.

    Pte Ives R was by then blind and could not walk, Pte x went out of his mind and could hardly walk, Pte Chorlton also could not walk, Pte Lawrence of stretcher bearers was covered with ulcers and could not walk, but before he got in that condition did some very good work. Sgt Johnson and Sgt Wright were just beginning to go down, I myself had Beri-beri in the stomach but it did not keep me off my feet.

    Whenever I could help my own men I did such as sugar and other small bits of food that was rationed out under my supervision. It seemed to me to be one long nightmare that had no ending to see men whom I had been with for a few years to suffer like they did, for instance, Pte x all day long would be crying and could not remember anything, if I spoke to him he would break down crying because he thought he was a nuisance.

    But our day for sailing came on 20th Sept, everyone on the boat seemed more cheerful and I myself celebrated with a cup of tea, getting the water from under the winches after the steam came through it, it was the best tea that I had had for months.

    I woke up the following morning and after getting to know the time from someone, which was 7 a.m. passed the time chatting with the lads around never dreaming that soon we should get a rude awakening. The first half of hold had been fed and I made my way to the deck as was my routine to prepare and bring our rations. Sgt. Shardlow of the Manchesters was doing police duty on top as it was an order from the Japs that no one was allowed on deck, only such as myself and persons on duty. I passed him by and made for the Galley when I heard the heavy drone of planes overhead, at first I paid no attention to them thinking they were Japs again, till one of the planes opened fire and dived towards the convoy.

    I estimated over 50 planes and most of them passed over and only a few stayed but they were enough for us. I rushed back down the hold and with the help of the CSM told the men to put on their life jackets, each man had one, the Kapox type and also help the sick with theirs. By this time our ship received a hit at the rear, then the centre of the ship was hit by this time most of the lads realised this was the end of this hell ship then to crown it all we got the next right in our hold caved in, water rushed in throwing the lads down to the bottom.

    By this time it was every man for himself. I gave a jump and reached for a beam and just hung on with my fingers. I can remember another fellow doing the same as I had done, and somehow grasping around my waist. I kicked out with my feet and but for the water coming up and flooding the hold and making him release his grip on me I would have met my doom. The next I can remember is asking a fellow for a pull but he had not the strength nor the time. It was then I went down to the bottom with my life jacket still on, next I can recollect is going through the water with my lungs nearly bursting. It seemed ages before I reached the surface, when I did I caught hold of a part of the wreckage and lay on my back for a few minutes for I was foaming at the mouth and I knew it had been a near thing for me.

    On looking around for my comrades I was surprised to see that I estimated as only a few, say 200 and a sprinkling of the Jap guards. The first man I saw was O'Mahony whom I joined on his raft, and along with two more fellows, who were sick and could only lie, we tried to row ourselves out of the wreckage.

    The Jap serjeant, that was supposed to be in charge of us, was very close to me with his full kit including his sword. I called to Capt Evans to see whether I should make an attempt to drown him, but the odds were too big by then most of the other guards were making for his raft and the destroyer came alongside to take the Japs but not us yet anyway.

    What was left of the convoy picked the Japanese survivors up and cleared off leaving us to drift or row ourselves where we could. O'Mahony abd I decided to make for the shore which was about 1 1/2 miles away. Some of them made the shore but I and about 121 men got picked up by Jap fishing craft after

    Sheet 3 Sgt Winstanley's story

    about nine hours in the water. It was just as well because I was getting cold (---n) out there and hungry and I was completely naked.

    There were about ten of these small boats so it ran out to about twelve of us on each, on our boat they gave us a small rice ball, one or two roots and a straw rice sack to keep us warm. We stayed in a small cove through the night after they had all taken extra food from one of the boats that had been beached.

    We set sail again next morning for Manilla, but before reaching there eight American recce planes came over the Japs opened fire and one of the planes came over and opened fire and machine gunned the boats and sank one. The men were saved apart from two, one Dutchman and an English lad who were shot, the Japs brought the plane down.

    We reached Manilla on the 23rd and was taken by lorries to a P.O.W. Camp run by the Americans, It was a prison in pre-war days called Biliabid Camp. Our greatest surprise was to see all the ships that we had left in the harbour were sunk.

    The Americans treated us very good, but again the food was poor, only a two meals a day and a few vitamin pills and some clothing, our stay was short here, ten days, then we were put on a ship along with the Americans. This time to be crowded in more and the holds battened down. As I said we were just 121 picked up by fishing boats but Capt Evans and others got on a destroyer and were taken straight to Formosa where we joined them later in a camp called SHIRAKOWA. Also those that reached the shore were rounded up and taken to Japan by a later boat.

    Along with myself, of our Unit was Ptes Lowry, O'Mahony, Hadden, Barker, Ingram, we was on that boat from about Oct 3rd till we reached Formosa in Nov. Before reaching Formosa we were chased to Hong Kong here we were bombed by the Americans. Leaving Manilla for the second time after being sunk once was no respite for us, it was not so bad for the Yanks as they were pretty fit compared with us. The officers were Captain Dean ( Cambs) Capt O'Neil (Padre) Dr Lewis and Lieut Lawrence of the Gordons.

    In our hold there were 600 of us, 97 British, 24 Dutch and the remainder Yanks. The senior NCO was CSM Goodbold (Leicester Regt) myself and several other sergeants.

    Within a few days discipline was almost unthought of with Yanks who had no
    respect for their sick men or their officers who consisted mostly of medical staff. First time for me to see officers and men having free fights among themselves. Our own officers did remarkably well I thought because their health was none too good, but the only things that quietened the Yanks were the depth charges that were dropped at nights.

    Now our bed was coal that had been left from a recent camp, as we were battened down our only substitute for latrines were buckets which were lowered and raised through a space in the hatches.

    Owing to this the overflow in the operation of raising the buckets fell amongst
    the men and on to the coal, the consequence was that the floor became a mess of maggots and we could do very little to stop them as the Japs would not co-operate with us.

    We lost two men but I lost count of what the Yanks lost.

    We knew at times that we were being done down by the Yanks with our rations, what they were, water and rice supposed to be twice a day if we were lucky. One day after sticking it out for a couple of weeks I stood on my two feet, told the NCO of the Yanks that if they would come out one at a time we would fight them to a finish and be glad to say they never took me up.

    I was put in charge along with another NCO to distribute the rice out and it came so bad I thought I would have to keep a check and start counting the grains. When we boarded the ship the Yanks had all the tobacco there was, but after a few weeks our lads had taken it all from them in exchange for water that the Yanks craved for. Ever since coming into contact with the Americans I have found out that there is no better man than the Englishman in a tight corner. I do not say it without proof, they just went crazy at night, until I found myself wishing that we could be sunk again, by this time I weighed about nine stone and was classed as big at that time. It was a relief when we pulled into port and got on shore.

    Sheet 4 Sgt Winstanley's story

    Here we were tested for any diseases and took to the same camps as Capt. Evans and his party who were already there. Here I also met Sgt Burgess and Pte. Hayes, our padre, Capt Stallard and others. Ingram, O'Mahony, Hadden and Lowry were parted from me and sent to another camp, that is the last I saw of them. I missed Pte. Ingram who had been a good help on both of the boats.

    Sgt. Burgess, who was in hospital, and myself compiled a list of missing and dead from the shipwreck.

    After a stay of eleven weeks in Shiracowa camp we were told that the party I was in had to go to Japan. It was we thought as good as a death sentence, though everyone in camp tried to cheer us up; our morale at that time was very low. In the few weeks on land we all had repaired a bit of our weight and strength back again. The food was not too good, but the work was fairly easy farming and gardening.

    We had our Christmas and New Year out there, so Jan 17th saw us on another boat in a port called Tehal ready for Japan, the land of cherry blossom, as we were again told. The party was just over 600 strong mostly Americans and Dutch, 97 British and no British officers at all, but four American officers with a Major Ferris in charge. I had a good break here I was put in charge of the Galley, with six British men and four Yanks. We were three days before we set sail and were subjected to bombing from the Yanks all day long, though they scored no hits on us.

    Anyway after a months sailing we managed to land at Moji on the island of Kyshu, from here we were split up into parties and sent to different camps. Pte Barker, Hayward and myself went to No 17 Camp town of Amuta about 40 miles off Nagasaki. This camp also was run by the Yanks, although there were Dutch, Australians and I think in all 300 British.

    We were given a fortnights rest then sent down the coal mine to work. I was put in charge of 48 men and CSM Godbald the other 48, February 12th is the date we got in camp and the death rate was increasing owing to the shortage of food.

    The Yanks had a Stock Exchange for anything you wanted to trade such as rice, soup, salt, beans, orange peel, anything. They also had a Bankruptcy court for lads who owed too many meals and were unable to pay. All the while we were in camp the Americans bombed close by, till July then they burned half the camp down, my hut being one of them.

    Work down the mine was very hard, 12 working hours a day, some one getting injured or killed every other day, and as time went on conditions became worse beatings up were easy to get. One form of punishment was putting hands or feet in water whilst they charged it with electricity.

    Men with legs off owing to kneeling down naked, with water poured over you, and the weather cold, it usually ended with frostbite and then gangrine set in.

    Men went down the mine with walking sticks, after being hurt by a fall, others had to be carried back.

    Then came the Atom bomb, we knew nothing about this new invention at the time, but some of the men said they saw it dropping.

    Anyhow on Aug 15th we were knocked off from work and on the 17th told we were free.

    You yourself will know the feeling and know how hard it is to express it. We had only one officer, an American, in camp at this time and he gave orders to close down the mine. All Japanese we could lay hands on who had dealings with Ps.O.W. were caught and beaten up, the Jap guards were put in a large buiding and not allowed out. The Japanese officer was I think killed by the Chinese who had had the same treatment as ourselves.

    On the 19th I left camp and caught a train to Nagasaki and saw the remains of the damage done by the atomic bomb. Here I caught a destroyer the USS Smith to Okinawa, after having a rough voyage in a typhoon, from Okinawa to Manilla by plane and from Manilla to San Francisco, from there by train to Halifax then boarded the Queen Elizabeth for home, just one of the fortunate ones.

    ( NB In the following list the names followed by an asterisk * were all underlined in type in the original )

    The missing men were:- Sgt Wright A.G., Sgt Johnson R., Sgt Welham. None of these were very sick at the time. and did good work before the action, but have not been seen since.

    Cpl. Walton, Gaylor, Hornett, L/Cpls Norman, Karmy, Odell, all missing.

    Ptes Dimmock*, Willey, Mayne, Jarvis, Peasnall, Sullivan, Chorlton, Lemmon*, Clark C.H., Cox R., Plum*, Emerton*, Ives R.*, High*, McDonald, Angel*, McCue, Dines, Cato, Perry*, Bambridge, Gilfillan, Cawthorne, Edwards, Lawrence*, Hanlon, Prior, Calleweart, Crawley, Jackman, Lawrence*, and Pte Burns*.

    Sheet 5 Sgt Winstanley's Story

    Names with a line under were very sick and almost unable to help themselves at the time (both Lawrences).

    Died at Sea

    Ptes Healey, Nugent, Hands, Hayes P.,

    Pte Kempster died at Shirakawa, Formosa.

    I myself attended Pte Kempster's funeral. Pte Healey, Nugent died at sea in Aug 44, myself was present at the death.

    Hands was on the other end of the ship, but Sgt Burgess could vouch for him. Hands was the first of our Unit to pass away.

    Ptes Leech, Haines we left in Manilla in the hospital.

    Ptes Mayne, Ingram, McCue, Cpls Wilton, Hornett, Gaylor were outstanding in that they worked hard helping the sick. I was looking after Pte Burns, Chorlton and Ives, all being very sick.

    ( Ends)

    Now Sergeant Burgess's story:


    REPORT OF 5949044 Sgt Burgess A.W.

    7th June - 1944 to 18th Dec - 1945

    It was on the 7th June 1044 that a party of Ps.O.W. including myself and 56 ORs of the 5th Bn Bedfs & Herts were entrained at Chungkai (Thailand) for what was to prove a very delayed and terrible journey to Japan during which we were to experience almost every atrocity that the Japanese were capable of committing.

    It is with sorrow and regret that I record in this story the loss of 46 out of the party of Bedfords that started from Thailand.

    The journey to Singapore took just over 5 days travelling in goods wagons 30 or more in a wagon, meals of rice and stew were provided by the Japs at very irregular intervals; whilst on the journey our doctors did very good work with the little medical supplies at their command, and on two occasions I saw Dr Lewis ( Capt, Suffolk Regt ) extracting teeth with ordinary pliers, whilst we were waiting for a change of engines.

    On arriving at Singapore we were quartered in Havelock Road Camp and for some of the fellows it brought back memories of the first few months of capture when they had been in a camp with Col Thomas, the C.O., when it seemed that the Japs were rather at a loss to find sufficient troops for Admin.

    We also met another party of Bedfords, about 40 or 50, in Coy with CSM Pithers, Sgt Nunns and CQMS Dynes, these were going to Japan.

    Eventually we arrived at the docks for embarkation and if ever a man felt like a rat going into a trap it was me when I was pushed into the hold of that ship, it was to prove a veritable prison and in fact a grave for almost 80% of the Ps.O.W. that fate had seen fit to place in this never to be forgotten Hell Hole.

    The day of sailing was ironically the 4th July, American Independence Day, as will be seen later it was the Americans who were to send us to our doom, with the exception of a very few.

    It was soon made evident that we were not going to be overfed for just after sailing we were told that we could get only two meals a day and this only if enough steam could be spared for the rice boilers; in addition water was very limited and at times consisted of boiled salt water.

    After three days everyone was convinced that we had the "Altmark" beat into a cocked hat as far as comfort was concerned and hopes and betting were running high as to whether it was to be the Navy or the Air Force of the allies that would bring about our liberation.

    Developing engine trouble our speed was reduced to about 6-8 knots and after a two day stop at Borneo where the officers arranged with the Japs to purchase fruit or nuts handing them the sum of 200 yen they returned with four coconuts and about 14lb of peanuts and no change.

    Proceeding to Manilla at a slow speed it was daily becoming evident that we should be leaving quite a number of fellows to lie in a watery grave, dysentery, malaria, yellow jaundice, beri-beri and all manner of diseases were beginning to lift their grisly heads and the conditions were such that they were completely out of the control of the medical officers.

    Capt Lewis was consulting the Japs every hour of the day endeavouring to get the conditions altered and had to literally beg for a little extra water for the sick.....needless to say we were not allowed out of the ship's hold only for the purpose of nature. Even this privilege was denied after a time and the conditions prevailing in our living, sleeping and eating space cannot be conveyed to any but those who have experienced it.

    The behaviour of all ranks throughout was the best and it was a common sight to see a comrade with tears in his eyes pleading with his pal to hang on a little longer, but the dread hand of death swept on, fellows were dying as they lay.

    After much pleading, permission was given to land 50 of the most serious cases at Manilla and this relieved the doctors quite a bit, though there were still more than they could adequately deal with. Two Bedfords were among this party Pte Haines and I believed that Pte Calleweart and about six more were in a pretty bad shape including myself suffering from Malaria, Ber-beri and yellow jaundice. About the 28th Aug. we buried the first man and it was not long before the first Bedford followed ( a list has been given ) the number was to reach five.

    Sheet 2 Sgt Burgess's Story.

    During our stay of nearly three months in Manilla Bay various efforts were made by the officers to get us ashore but with no avail.

    Capt Lewis also performed the almost impossible by carrying out two major operations by the light of hand torches, one for the appendix and the other for Duodenal ulcers, both of which were successful, one man has since returned to England and the other was unfortunately drowned when the ship was sunk.

    On about the 18th Sept 1944 50 men were put into a hold all suffering from Beri-Beri and Capt Lewis made three incisions in both feet of each man (this was by way of experiment) to enable the fluid to drain from the body and so prevent strangulation of the heart.

    At 11.00 in the morning of the 21st Sept 1944 we were attacked by American planes, receiving four bombs and two torpedoes which sank the ship in just under three minutes, the loss of life from the explosions must have accounted for 75% of the casualties, for all hatchways and companion ladders were blown to bits.

    I myself in company with Foord, Kempster and Hayes were picked up after four hours in the water, placed in a coal bunker and were given four biscuits and a pint of water for over six days.

    Landing at Taiwan (Formosa) we joined a party under Capt Evans (Major) Manchester Regt.

    Pte Jarvis R. was laying next to me at the time of the sinking and I advised him to put on his life jacket and follow me and this was the last I saw of him. After being picked up by the Jap ship we joined another convoy of about 15 ships when we were again attacked. Pte Foord sustaining a bullet wound in the leg, two more fellows being killed instantly. All but two of the ships were sunk thus bringing the total of ships sunk for the day to 27; not a bad score.

    The party consisted of about 46 including four Bedfords, travelling by open truck on small guage railway through blistering heat. We arrived at Heito where the Bedfords were pleased to learn that about 20 others were quartered in the camp, amongst whom was the padre ( Capt The Rev. Stallard) who took the first opportunity to visit us and what a relief it was to see him it was both physically and spiritually.

    Having received a certain amount of Red Cross supplies the British staff at Heito did the very best they could and I feel that those of us who survived certainly owe a big word of thanks to them all. After a months confinement our next move was to Shirakowa in coy with all the officers and about 200 sick.

    On arrival we were amazed to find beds and rubbing our eyes, yes even sheets but no the dream was not yet over for on each man's shelf was 1/3 pint of milk. Still dreaming we were introduced to our orderlies all of whom were wearing one or two pips and in some cases crowns and pips. Here was living with a capital L after bamboo huts, bugs, hell holes and conditions fit only for cattle.

    I must record here my personal admiration to all the staff at Shirakowa and my deep gratitude to Capt Stallard, Lieut Strakern and Lt. Hinton for the magnificent and splendid service extended to me during what proved to be the happiest and most comfortable time as a P.O.W.

    Capt Stallard, our regimental padre, gave his personal interest to all Bedfords who were in the Camp and his visits of at least once a week were always looked forward to with anticipation when everyone could be sure of both physical and spiritual cheer.

    To say that Major Evans upheld the tradition of the British officer and gentleman is mild praise indeed. I can only hope that he will feel that everyone of the men whose good fortune it was to be associated with him during those arduous days has and always will have of him the greatest admiration possible. Heckled, prodded, kicked by those yellow monkeys I never once saw him lose his head or put personal consideration before his men, and at times he was carrying me about (12 stone Beri-beri) when he himself was about all in.

    In Feb 1945 things had begun to get very warm indeed for the Japs who then decided to move us to Japan proper, so imagine our feelings (after having seen 32 ships put down in one day) when we were told that it was to be ships once again. However we arrived at Muki after an uneventful journey.

    We landed up at a coal mining village by the name of Myata Macki about 40-50 miles south of Fukuoka and were soon working down the coal mines and were soon to feel the spite of the Japs, whom the war was now beginning to affect in no uncertain manner.

    Sheet 3 Sgt Burgess's story

    Four Bedfords had moved with the party from Shirakowa, myself, Ptes Franklin, Foord R and Housegood and it is pleasant to report that all have arrived safely home.

    To report all the atrocities that took place in this camp would take far too long; it is sufficient to say that every occasion was taken to make life unpleasant. Our war barometer was supplied by the Japs who would beat us up severely if things were going bad and not so much when they had an occasional win, so of course, towrds the end it was beatings all the time.

    Food was cut down to a minimum and short rations to the sick for the last two months, the issue was 3/4lb boiled rice or alternately flour paste for a days ration.

    An old disused mine shaft was to be our place of abode during an air raid or invasion, although the Japs informed us that it was fire drill but before the end I think that everyone knew that it was intended to execute everyone of us by dynamiting the front in ( this has since been verified.)

    If any complaint was made all the officers were paraded and beaten up with fists, rifles or bamboo poles whilst meantime other guards were ransacking the kits. Boys of 15 and 16 were employed as guards and these used to delight in hiding in out of the way places and then beating you up for not saluting.

    No church services were permitted, no card playing or entertainment whatsoever and on the rest day the guards would be continually coming round and making themselves unpleasant in every way possible.

    At last the day that all had dreamed about for 3 1/2 years arrived, we were free men again, but it was with a certain amount of trepidation that some of us heard it. Personally a month was to elapse before I was convinced that the War was really over.

    On the 20th Sept. we took train to Nagasaki (passing through atom bombed area - what a sight) and then on to L.S.T. for Okinawa, the Americans certainly done us swell but this heaven on earth was to continue for some weeks yet.

    After a few weeks at Manilla where we were the guests of the Australians we took ship to Victoria B.C. where,after a very rough crossing, we landed on 2nd Nov. Never shall I forget the welcome given to us and afterwards the great kindness of the Canadian people during my 5 weeks stay and also the good work done by the Medical staff of Victoria Military Hospital.

    Finally the experience of over 3 1/2 years during which I had visited nearly every continent in the World and travelled nearly 54,00 miles (sic) was to be finished on the finest and largest ship in the world "Queen Elizabeth" landing at Southampton on 17th December.

    Arriving at the Repat camp at Aylesbury we were clothed, paid and processed, (300 of us) in just over 6 hrs. and eventually I was knocking at my own front door feeling very full and hardly knowing what was going to be my reaction to the biggest moment of my life, that of visiting my wife and 3 1/2 year old son.

    I feel I must say in conclusion that all through these dark and difficult years my biggest ally was that of prayer and faith in God, also the grand spirit of comradeship which at all times was very much in evidence amongst all ranks.

    England to me is the grandest country in the World and nowhere have I found a more friendly and homely spirit than that which exists in my own land.

  13. KKerr

    KKerr Junior Member

    Another great posting thank you. I've been extremely moved by reading these graphic accounts - they are truly heartbreaking. It's incredible to think I've learned so much in such a short time about my Dad's experiences on the Hofuku Maru. It's just such an incredible coincidence that all this has come to light nearly 70 years after the event because I casually typed in "Hofuku Maru" into Google last week. I can never thank you enough for the help. Hope you keep posting as circumstances allow and I look forward to reading more if you get the chance and get your hands on anything. I will make that trip to the Archives perhaps in the next few months and find these things for myself and to get copies. I've had a look at the online catalogue tonight and it seems as if it will be a daunting task to find anything but I will try - if I turn up anything after I do so I'll let you all know. Thanks again.
  14. papiermache

    papiermache Well-Known Member


    In March 2010 I did the same thing-casually search on Google- whilst waiting for the computer to record my CDs to the hard drive ( a pointless task since they sound horrible but you do get a list of music from itunes.) Thanks to Australian newspapers and the digitisation process I got the name "Jotani" and the Hofuku Maru together and thus found the war crimes file WO235/995. Pure luck.

    Since then I have wandered off track at Kew, where I really should be looking at 16th century litigation records, and become fascinated by war crimes trials and how all nations and the United Nations "hide" the records, willingly or not. Even Australian Archives do not have a subject list of trials, although a late historian did write a very good guide on the subject.

    Thanks to your private messages to me I have the names of six men who "died on board prior to the sinking" of the Hofuku Maru, relating to 2nd Cambs. Files in the WO361 series provide a further 23 names, at least, relating to 5 Bn Bedfs & Herts and 4, 5 and 6 Bn of the Royal Norfolk Regiment.

    Commonwealth War Graves tend to record the deaths at sea prior to 21st September 1944 as taking place on the date of the sinking. The evidence of the men shows that between 95 and 100 died prior to the sinking. My list is very much at draft stage.

    The following files in series WO361 have material relating to the Hofuku Maru:

    WO361/ 758 ( the major file ) / 1146 / 1384 / 1387 / 1628 / 1741 / 1746 / 2041.

    Seasoned users of Kew might find this a disproportionately large number of files !

    I have yet to understand the constraints under which Casualty PW worked. Once they had a report that somebody was "missing" they did go to some lengths to write to anyone who filled in a casualty form reporting missing men or who mentioned the fact on a "Q" form or a POW questionnaire. If nothing was found in six months then the presumption of death arose.

    Unfortunately the answer to correspondence in a lot of cases was that the information had already been given, or was with somebody else, or they handed the information including a personal diary kept at great personal danger whilst a POW to somebody from MI9 encountered en route home, and could they have their material back, please ?

    The multiplicity of agencies involved is astonishing, featuring Military Intelligence 2 and 9, and the army units. A glance at the size of the 1945 Army List shows just how immense the administration of conflict is.

    Thank you for your last message, and I hope to post again with more information at some date.
  15. L.p.Nugent

    L.p.Nugent Junior Member

    Hello papiermache
    I have recently found out my great uncle pte E.F Nugent was onboard the hokofuku Maru, and I was always told that he met his end on 21st sept 1944.
    After reading the documents you have posted by sgt winstanley I can now see the truth, that he died shortly before, in late august and was buried at sea, i am amazed at how detailed it is, even stating that Sgt. Winstanley himself was with him at his end. I am quite emotional and I can safely say I never thought I would find out so much information.
    There is one thing that puzzles me, I have found one document which states he was buried in a temporary U.S cemetry in Manila then moved to sai wan cemetry in Hong kong. I can only presume that maybe he wasn't sufficiently weighted and washed up on the Philippines.
    My father is visiting his grave while on holiday in the far east next week.
    My family are simply blown away by what I have discovered in such a short time by reading your posts.
    I just wanted to echo what others have been posting, and say thankyou so much for
    taking the time and for sheading so much light on the matter.

  16. papiermache

    papiermache Well-Known Member


    Thank you for your kind words, welcome to the forum, and I am sorry that your uncle was not taken ashore to hospital with the fifty sick men who were allowed to leave the ship.

    A few burials did take place in Manila of men who died on the ship, but the majority were buried at sea.

    The Commonwealth War Graves Commission has the 28th August 1944 as the date of the death of your great uncle. In file WO361/1387 Sergeant A.W. Burgess records that he died between "8/44 and 9/44".

    I think we can be certain that the CWG are correct. I have not come across the source of their information at the National Archives, but the CWG have their own archive ( I have not been in contact with them.) My brief examination of the files at TNA shows that some documents existed that are not now ( currently) available. My next posting may shed some light on one of these documents.

    The POW organisation based in Changi, Singapore called The Bureau of Record And Enquiry, which I have referred to before, prepared Nominal Rolls of men.

    The BRE roll states that your great uncle moved from Changi "up country" into Thailand, "OVL" or overland on an unspecified date in October 1942. This is on file WO361/2111. It looks like he was in the company of a large number of men from his battalion.

    Further details of the evacuation of sick men from the ship to Manila can be found in "Kentner's Journal" which can be found on the internet by entering those words in a search engine, or through Mansell.Com. Dr. Kentner was an American doctor POW in Manila. He recorded the deaths of men, but I do not know where they were buried. Men were evacuated to Manila from at least two ships during August and September, 1944.

  17. papiermache

    papiermache Well-Known Member

    The following two transcripts are of documents which have been found on two different files, WO/758 and WO/1775, which obviously belong together.

    The list of "2000 names" referred to by G.T.H. Rogers is not on file WO361/758 and will provide details of deaths of men in Thailand and on the vessel.

    These documents do show the considerable lengths that Cas.PW went to in tracing casualties.

    First statement or memorandum of G.T.H. Rogers:


    Mr. Weston

    I formally report that a preliminary interrogation of the second party of recovered prisoners of war to arrive from the Far East (those rescued by American Forces at Manila and Luzon) was carried out at No. 94 Reception Camp, Dropmore, Bucks., on 3rd, 4th and 5th April, 1945. I personally reached the Camp on 2nd April and was able to distribute our introductory pamphlet and forms - specimens attached - to every man with the result that when the remainder of the interrogating party (Mr. Perry, Miss Howell, Miss Gebbett and Mrs. Weston) arrived on morning of 3rd April, the men came prepared with lists of names which considerably facilitated our work. We interrogated 70 men and we expect the remainder of the 126 army prisoners freed to return to the U.K. as and when practicable and possible when we will insure that they too are similarly questioned.

    Nearly 2,000 names of missing personnel and of prisoners of war who, to the knowledge of these 70 men, had died or were on ship sunk, were obtained and these are being "processed." As soon as possible the next of kin concerned will be notified of the preliminary news; later when the men return from leave we shall ask for detailed signed statements enabling us to make official casualty postings in accordance with the information received. I would add here that the G.O.C. 45th Div who is handling all matters connected with recovered prisoners of war, was good enough to visit us on 11th April in order to discuss arrangements for our detailed interrogation of the men when they return from leave; we expect to go to Newcastle-on-Tyne on 30th May for a minimum period of 2 weeks though this is not yet definite.

    P.W.3 are preparing a general report as a result of seeing the latest party, but it can be said that the ex prisoners were generally from No.2 Camp, Thailand, and that they were being transported to Japan in 2 ships. The first, the "Hokopoku ( or Hopokoku) Maru" left Singapore on 27/6/44
    It arrived Manila on 23/7/44 sailed from Manila on 20/9/44 Bombed by American aircraft and sunk in 4 1/2 minutes in Subic Bay on 21/9/44.

    The second the "Osaka (?) Maru" left Singapore on 18th/19th June, 1944 arrived Manila 20/7/44 disembarked sick at intervals to 26/9/44 When the ship left for Japan.

    ( There was a third ship - name unknown - which left Manila with prisoners in December 1944 but this is not material to our present investigations.)

    (Sgd.) G.T.H. Rogers.

    The second statement is a report on the interrogation:

    WO361/1775 SS/330/82/1/Cas PW

    0103/4347 SECRET



    Dropmore Camp - 3/4 April, 1945.
    Curzon Street House - 17 April, 1945.
    Bower Wood Camp - 20 April, 1945.

    All of the party was captured at Singapore and confined at CHANGI. They
    were sent to BANPONG, SIAM, in June 1942 in No.2 Group. Here they were employed
    on road-making and camp building. In October 1942 the party moved to CHONGKWAI.
    In November they were joined by the prisoners from No.4 Group. During the
    construction of the railway they occupied various camps in the neighbour of THA
    KHANUN, their stretch of the railway was to the North-West of No.4 Group's stretch.
    No.1 Group occupied HNONG PLA DUK and THA MAKAN. No.3, 5 and 6 Groups were on
    the BURMA end of the line.

    Conditions in No.2 Group during the construction of the railway were
    generally similar to those in other groups. Collective punishments were common
    and discipline was normally enforced by beatings, at least one of which was fatal.
    Officers were made to work by a threat that their men would be given no rations.
    Their work was bridge-making and cable-laying.

    The cholera epidemic commenced in May, 1943. The disease spread down the
    river through bodies being thrown into the water. The lack of sanitary precautions
    on the part of NEI prisoners was criticised.

    The casualty rate among "F" and "H" Forces, sent from Malaya to the railway
    in the summer of 1943, was exceptionally high, (possibly 50%). Captain Gibson
    estimated total white casualties in SIAM at 17,000. Higher estimates were made
    by other members of the party. Names of the dead were carefully recorded by
    officers. In the larger cemeteries, plans of the graves are buried under the
    main crosses, for identification purposes in case the marked crosses on individual
    graves are destroyed.

    The sick were evacuated to THA MAKAN in the latter part of May, 1943. The
    Senior British Officer of this Hospital Camp was Lieut.-Colonel TOOSEY, R.A.
    In October, the prisoners were moved to CHONGKWAI, to make room for Australians.
    There were about 9,000 prisoners in this camp, and 1,000 graves in the cemetery.
    Sick men continued to arrive by barge and train, many dying on the way. The
    death rate in CHONGKWAI was 20 per day during November and December 1943.

    The railway was completed in November 1943, and the evacuation was carried
    out between December and February.

    Conditions at CHONGKWAI, steadily improved. The Camp was reconstructed
    under the direction of Major OUTRAM, R.A., who acted as Senior British Officer.
    In January 1944 a party of 400 fit men were sent to build a hospital camp at
    NAKHON PATHOM. This is a well laid out camp with wooden huts.

    Shelter trenches in these camps were provided for the Japanese guards only.
    The prisoners were ordered to stay in the huts during air-raids. It was
    believed that casualties had occurred among P.W. during an air-raid on PRANG KAZI.
    There were frequent air-raid alerts. Sometimes a Red Cross Flag was displayed

    Quinine was given regularly in the Hospital camps, but there was a
    continuing shortage of other medical supplies.

    About 2,000 Prisoners of War were selected from CHONGKWAI for transfer to
    Japan. In this party the ratio of officers to men was 1 to 150. No officer
    above the rank of Captain was chosen. The party entrained for SINGAPORE on
    1st June; the journey lasted four days. They saw no other prisoners of war
    on the way.

    / In

    In SINGAPORE, the party was accommodated in RIVER VALLEY ROAD Camp. They
    made contact with some Indian P.W., who were delighted to see British officers
    again. There were some British prisoners at CHANGHI, including a number of sick,
    but no contact could be made with them.

    Captain GIBSON and 1,250 men embarked on the HOFOKO MARU on 26th June. After
    much discussion, a certain number of prisoners were allowed to stay on deck after
    the ship left SINGAPORE, but most of the men were confined in two holds, already
    partly filled with cargo. The mens health, which had been undermined by bad
    feeding in SINGAPORE, suffered from the bad accommodation and lack of sufficient
    food and water. The ship was delayed at MIRI, ( BORNEO ) by a broken engine. She
    made MANILA Harbour on 23rd July, and remained here until 20th September.

    While in harbour, 96 men died. The British doctors did everything possible
    to save lives, but their only medical supplies were two cases of American Red
    Cross material, most of which was taken by the Japanese. After many appeals, the
    Japanese allowed 50 of the worst cases, only, to be taken to a camp in MANILA.
    Conditions on board the ship were appalling.

    The HOFOKU MARU finally sailed on 20th March.(sic) She was bombed and sunk by
    American aircraft on 21st September. 71 prisoners of war got ashore on rafts
    and driftwood. Of these, 63 were recaptured and taken to BILIBID and CABANATUAN
    and 8 ( including Captain GIBSON and three Dutch P.W. ) made contact with the
    guerrilla forces. 161 prisoners of war were picked up by Japanese boats, and
    were taken to BILIBID. The remaining prisoners died in the holds or in the water.
    ( NOTE: There are slight discrepancies between the figures given above, obtained
    from interrogations, and those given in Colour-Serjeant BEACH's Diary ).

    The remainder of the party from SIAM, consisting of 750 men under Captain
    R. HALL, R.A. left SINGAPORE on the ARSARKA (?) MARU on 4th July, ( having
    embarked on 18th June). Conditions were similar to those on the HOFOKU MAKU.
    She made MANILA on 16th July, and remained in harbour for some time. As far as
    is known, only 3 men died on board this ship. Colour Sergeant BEACH and 20
    other sick men, were taken on shore to BILIBID. 31 sick were similarly landed
    on 25th June. The remaining prisoners on board this ship are known to have
    reached JAPAN, cards having been received from OSAKA Camp.

    Conditions in BILIBID and CABANATUAN were much better than in the camps in
    SIAM. Red Cross supplies were comparitively abundant. Drafts were taken from
    the camps to JAPAN at intervals, as mentioned in the appended diary. It is
    thought that 40 British prisoners of war were on board the transport which was
    sunk in December.

    The Japanese do not appear to have made any effort to remove the prisoners
    at BILIBID or CABANATUAN when the American forces landed. Orders were issued that
    the prisoners must remain in the camps; if found outside, they would be treated
    as combatants.

    Captain GIBSON and the other members of this party spoke highly of the
    excellent treatment which they had received at the hands of all American and
    Australian authorities concerned in their repatriation.

    P.W.2.(c) James Leigh
    Curzon St. House, W.1. Major
    MAYfair 9400/Ext....
    4 May, 1945


    A.G. M.I.9 ( 4 copies) H.C. for Canada
    D.A.G.(A) P.W.2. (b) & (c) ( A. Bell, Esq.)
    D.P.W. P.W.3. 5. H.C. for Australia
    D.D.P.W. F.4. (PW) ( Maj. J.L. Lenehan) (3 copies)
    D.D.M.I./PW Cas.(PW) (3 copies) India Office ( A.R. Swinnerton)
    D.F.(d) PW Liaison Officer Colonial Office ( Lt. Col. Cole)
    M.O.12. B.A.S. Washington Air Ministry ( Group Capt. Burgess)
  18. Connell-jud

    Connell-jud Junior Member

    Hi everyone
    I was astounded to come across this site and it's vast information
    I'm seeking any help and details regarding my late uncle
    Authur William connell.presumed lost at sea as a result of the sinking of the hofuku Maru.
    Jud connell
  19. Connell-jud

    Connell-jud Junior Member

    Forgot to add.2nd battalion argyll & Sutherland .he was from middlesbrough
  20. jacksun

    jacksun Senior Member

    I have an A. W. Connell on the Japanese POW Lists. TH stands for Thailand. Dates are "Date of Capture" and "Date of Liberation". In this case I believe the "Date of Liberation" is the date of the sinking of the Hofuku Maru. The "A" means Army, he was a Private "Pte." and his Soldier Number was 3322766, the 10560 is just the number in the list order which is alphabetic so has no meaning.



    Hi everyone
    I was astounded to come across this site and it's vast information
    I'm seeking any help and details regarding my late uncle
    Authur William connell.presumed lost at sea as a result of the sinking of the hofuku Maru.
    Jud connell

    Attached Files:

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