FEPOW Memorial Church

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The FEPOW Story

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The FEPOW Story                       

Many excellent books have been written by prisoners and internees. We do not attempt to replicate them here; merely to try and give some structure and understanding of what happened in the camps.

Only by reading a selection of books will you even begin to get an idea what it was like to be a Japanese POW. see Bibliography Further reading recommendations and other information sources are given at appropriate points and the verbal testimonies of ex POWs recall individual experiences.

By the end of March 1942, vast numbers of Allied prisoners of war were being held in mainly Singapore, Java/Sumatra and the Philippines. POWs were taken in other theatres and at other times, bringing the total to nearly 140,000, but never again was the influx so great.

In addition, there were some 200,000 civilians who would be interned for a similar period and the survivors of some 49 vessels carrying escapees from Singapore to Australia which were sunk or disabled off Sumatra. It is believed 5,000 died. 

Singapore was to become the central staging post for the movement of British and Commonwealth POWs. (Manila fulfilled the same role for US POWs.) They were organised into “Forces” as they were transferred, often by merchant ship, to their destination. These merchant ships were, at the same time, being used to move all types of cargo. In many cases the conditions for the POWs were appalling. The refusal of the Japanese authorities to mark the ships carrying POWs resulted in the death of many thousands as they were attacked by Allied submarines.

Dates of major POW movements from Changi, Singapore, and their destinations.                                           Source: Australian War Memorial

Force Date departure from Changi Destination
A Force 15 May 1942 Burma
B Force 8 July 1942 Borneo
C Force 28 Nov 1942 Japan
D Force 14-18 March 1942 Thailand
E Force 29 May 1943 Borneo
F Force April 1943 Thailand
G Force 26 April 1943 Japan
H Force May 1943 Thailand
J Force 16 May 1943 Japan
K Force June 1943 Thailand
L Force 23 August 1943 Thailand
Senior Officers’ Party 16 August 1942 Japan via Formosa and Korea
Senior Working Party 16 August 1942 Takeo (Formosa) and Seoul (Korea)

 

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