Fukuoka 3-B Report

Wake Island Marine Dennis Connor told me he, Foots Anderson, and Alvin Sawyer got caught stealing canned food (probably Red Cross food which the Japanese would not distribute).  This happened while they were at the White House, the first camp.  They had to wear a red band around their head for 3 to 4 days, then they were court martialed.  They were told all along they would be shot.  Sawyer evidently knew some Japanese and helped get them off with a lesser sentence.  They were held in a room with one blanket for the three of them, no bed but the floor (this was in the winter).  Afterward they were put to work unloading coal from a ship.  In his oral history held at the Westen Historical Manuscript Collection at the Unviersity of Missouri at Colombia he mentions himself, Charles Pierce, and Norman Berg being beaten towards the end of the war.Some time after the war Connor was working for the Missouri Conservation Dept and Sawyer walked in the door.  Their meeting was purely accidental.Connor thought there were about 70 prisoners in the group which was sent out of Woosung in Nov 1942, about evenly divided among Wake Marines, North China Marines, and civilians from Wake.  They sailed aboard the Miike Maru which was also carrying about 5000 Japanese troops.  They went up the coast of China to near Chinwangtao, then over to the Korean peninsula.  They stopped at Pusan and then went across to Moji, about a 2 day voyage.A typical day consisted of getting up at 5 am, counting off in Japanese, out the gate by 6, and back to camp about 7 pm.  They were told by Navy Doctor Herbert Markowitz (Guam) that at the end they were living on 800 calories a day.  The Norris Troney diary also mentions the low rations.  Connor recalls once getting a Red Cross food package to share among four POWs, another time one for 8 POWs, sometimes one box for 25 POWs.  So little Red Cross food came in that when it did the food was usually added to the daily rice ration instead of giving it to individuals. 
Sgt Bill Howard told them the news of the war being over.  There was no big outcry.  Their emotions were drained.  They couldn't laugh or cry.  Other accounts say the same.

For information on what North China Marines were held at Fukuoka 3-B go to the page titled Fukuoka 3-B POW Camp.

These camp reports were written after the war and contain many mistakes-both as to who was in the camps and conditions of the camps.

American Ex-Prisoners of War



FUKUOKA #3, Page 1 of 3


By John M. Gibbs, 31 July 1946



Fukuoka Camp #3 was first located in a suburban section of the city YAWATA, known as Yauhea, on the Island of Kyushu (the building the POWs were kept in was called the Citadel and/or the White House) . Yawata was one of Japan's major steel producing areas, and the camp there was first occupied by American civilians in Sept. 1942, who were captured by the Japanese on Wake Island. Later in that year the American personnel at this camp was supplemented by prisoners of other nationalities, mainly British and Australian captured at Singapore.

A large steam electric plant was located within 500 yards of the camp installation (this reference to an electric plant is probably the plant near the camp at Tobata, not the initial camp in Yawata-see below) and surrounding it were steel mills and steel rolling mills, all producing Japanese war essentials, and relying, substantially, on prisoner labor to operate them.[The POWs were used by the Nippon Steel Company.]

To protect (??) the prisoner personnel, as far as possible, from anticipated bombing raids, a new camp was erected in 1943 in a suburb of Tobata about 300 yards from the bay, just west of the city. Tobata is located at the north central tip of the island about 6 miles from Yawata in a northeasterly direction, and its coordinates are 33°56'N. 130°49'E. The terrain at Tobata was flat. The tallest mountain in that area bounded the camp area on the north. Travel time from camp to the Yawata plants was about 30 minutes. The prisoners of war continued to work in the Yawata plants throughout the war and were
transported from and to the new camp in open flat cars
(actually open gondola cars) even during the bitterly cold winter weather. As a result of the exposure many of the prisoners contracted pneumonia and more than a few deaths among them resulted.

About 500 yards from the new camp at Tobata was an enormous power plant standing at an elevation of 300 feet. The furnaces were equipped with 6 smokestacks about 100 feet high from base. Steam turbines furnished power to the most of the plant. It evidently served as a landmark for American bombers because it was not bombed and remained undamaged to the war's end.

There was no distinguishing mark to denote that the new installation was a prisoner of war camp. In order to identify it as housing prisoners of war, the senior American officer requested the Japanese camp commandant to, at least, label the hospital with a red cross which request was curtly denied.


The total prisoner personnel was approximately 1,200 of which 500 were Americans. This figure included 75 civilians taken on Wake Island and 45 Marine and 30 Navy personnel. The remaining American personnel belonged to the Army. Prisoners of nationalities other than American were, English 130; Australians 3; Indians 150; Javanese & Dutch 325 and 20 Chinese. The remaining 72 were Arabian, Malayan and Portuguese.

Col. Ovid W. Wilson, was the Senior American Officer. Lt. Col. Paul D. Philipps, the Adjutant for the American officer group, and Lt. Col. William Dorris, the permanent camp commander of the enlisted men.

[158 POWs died while prisoner at this camp]

3. GUARD PERSONNEL: The Japanese camp officials were: Maj. Yaichi Rikitake, Commander, crafty and cruel. Lt. Hata, camp doctor, non-cooperative, cruel. Lt. Ogomi, camp doctor. Cadet officer, Murada, camp doctor. Sgt. Major, Kita. Sgt. Kawasaki, pay roll and comnnissary. Cpl. Nagakura, stores and clothing. Private, Fukuda, medical orderly, inconsiderate, cruel. Mr. Manins, civilian guard, cruel. Mr. Osano, civilian interpreter, non-cooperative, indifferent.


(a) Housing Facilities: Inasmuch as the camp remained at Yawata for a relatively short period, a description of the housing facilities is omitted. Therefore the following is a description of the camp buildings at Tobata: Ten barracks of very light frame construction, capacity 150 men each, surrounded by a wood fence, comprised the housing facilities. Each building had 2 decks running the length of both sides, making a row of upper and lower bays to a side, the lower tier about 6" off the floor, top tier about 6' off the floor reached by ladders, into which were fitted typical Japanese mats for sleeping.
There was a shelf located at the head of each bay where the prisoners could place their accessories. The floors were of concrete, the roof of a Japanese type of tile. There was no artificial heat except that generated by small round stoves standing on legs about 3 and 1/2 feet high, over-all, charcoal burner type. Coal furnished for fuel was of inferior quality and was inadequate in quantity. Fires were not maintained during the night. Even with fire in the stove during the day from 5:00 to 8:00 P.M. the barracks were continually cold.[The majority of the POWs were at work in the factory complex during the day. Pneumonia was a common cause of death here.] All buildings were electrically lighted, in addition there were special blackout
lights, as well as blackout curtains for air raids. Windows (2 per bay both upper and lower) were of multi-glass sliding type.

The hospital, classed as a good building for this type of camp, had steam pipes installed, but heat was turned on only a part of the night during the winter. This building was continually overcrowded and undermanned. A second hospital had been erected, however, the use of the facility was denied the prisoners, and it remained unoccupied until Oct. 1944. The patients were bedded in bunks equipped with straw mats. The original hospital, according to American standards, would normally have accommodated from 50 to 60 patients as against 120 patients of occupancy. Ambulatory patients were compelled to wear heavy overcoats during the day to keep reasonably warm. The rear of each barracks contained a wash
room equipped with concrete sinks and contaminated running cold water. The men were warned against drinking this water.

(b) Latrines: In each of the barracks, and to the rear in a separate room, were located a cement urinal and 4 sinks with cold running water. Soap was always inadequate. The latrines, merely 6 wood stalls which afforded semi privacy,
were in a separate room and were of usual oriental squatting type. The large tank underneath, which often ran over, was neglected although supposed to be emptied periodically by Japanese laborers. During the spring and summer seasons
the sick prisoners were compelled to dip out these tanks and pour the contents on the camp gardens between the barracks. A foul odor always permeated the camp.

(c) Bathing: There was a separate building for hot water bathing. It was equipped with two large cement tanks approximately 10 feet square and 3 feet deep. Before getting into the tanks the prisoners were required to dip enough water out of the tanks to take a cleansing preliminary bath before soaking out in the tanks. During the winter months the prisoners were allowed to use the hot water baths daily. After bathing they immediately went to bed under their blankets in
an effort to store up heat against several hours ahead in a cold building. During the summer months they were allowed to bathe every second day. (See link to Fukuoka #17 site for photos of this type of bathing facility. This link is back on the page Fukuoka 3-B POW Camp. Scroll down.)

(d) Mess Hall: This was a large building of wood construction containing ample rice pots, also tanks for making tea, all steam operated. The floor of the mess hall was of concrete. Each barracks appointed representatives to draw food from the kitchen and take it to the barracks in buckets to be served. The American prisoners did the cooking under the supervision of Japanese mess sergeants. (There was no Mess Hall, POWs ate in their barracks. The term Mess Hall used here actually means kitchen.)

(e) Food: The daily ration consisted of about 550 grams of mixed and steamed grain such as rice, barley, maize and red beans, and soup. The soup usually was fairly good. It contained vegetable tops, and frequently carrots, dried fish, bean curd, flour and a type of Japanese radish. In general the food was good (??) except very short in protein and fats. The quantity was insufficient, consequently the men were hungry all the time and gradually became more and more gaunt. They were driven by hunger to stealing and eating anything that ever had any relation to food, such as garbage and other refuse. Because of insufficient food, the majority of the hospital patients were suffering from beriberi, amoebic dysentery and tuberculosis, as the result of malnutrition. Flour was given to the prisoners from time to time with which they baked
bread and noodles. Sugar issue was fair. During Feb. 1945 all milk furnished by the Red Cross was given to the hospital patients. There was general complaint concerning the lack of salt. Whenever Red Cross canned meat was issued it was mixed and served with rice. Small amounts of Red Cross food was issued occasionally totaling about 1 and 1/2 boxes per man during a 3-month period. The Japanese retained for themselves the most of the Red Cross supplies.

(f) Medical Facilities: The Japanese medical officer was Lt. Hata who was later replaced by Lt. Ogomi who in turn was replaced by Cadet Officer Murada. Capt. Vetales V. Anderson, M.C. & Capt. William A. Blueher, M.C. aided by other
[including a young Navy doctor, Herbert A. Markowitz, captured on Guam] doctors brought from the Philippines, administered treatment to the sick prisoners as fully as equipment and medical supplies permitted. The Japanese furnished some adulterated medicines, about 5 types, none of which were vital drugs, except Glucose and sulfa drugs. It was common knowledge to the prisoners that the Japanese had Red Cross medical supplies, both medicines and surgical instruments, in the camp at all times which they refused to allow to be used until after the surrender.

There were a number of deaths from pneumonia because of withheld medicines and oxygen. Although repeatedly requested by the prisoner doctors, the Japanese maintained that oxygen could not be obtained, yet as soon as the war
ended, oxygen was made available. One example is given as follows: After a bombing raid in Aug. 1945, two American doctors performed an arm amputation with a hack saw, two old scalpels and few hemostats, although there was a complete chest of Red Cross surgical equipment unopened in the camp. The Japanese themselves made free use of Red Cross food, clothing and medicine. Dr. Hata was outstanding in this abuse. He was personally responsible because of these actions for the death of quite a few prisoners. Some of the doctors brought surgical instruments with them from the
Philippines. Other instruments were made by the medical force in camp.

(g) Supplies:(1) Red Cross. YMCA. other Relief: As stated in the preceding paragraph it was known that Red Cross supplies, such as food, clothing, medicines and surgical instruments were in the camp and that the Japanese would not release
them. On Christmas day, 1944 the prisoners were issued a full meal of Red Cross food and a good portion of regular Japanese rations, and thereafter for a few weeks, small daily portions of Red Cross food. After 1 May 1945 no shipments
of Red Cross supplies were received. Three shipments of books by the YMCA were received after 1 May 1945.

(2) Japanese issue: Overcoats were issued to the prisoners. Few men had a change of clothing. They were shod in worn out foot apparel or canvas sneakers. Most of the men had no underwear. Each prisoner was issued six wool blankets. Cigarettes were issued weekly through the commissary, 10 to officers and 30 to enlisted men. Later the Japanese issued to the prisoners, 1 pair of shoes, 1 very light weight Japanese uniform and 1 suit of underwear. The prisoners were able to buy oranges, tangerines and cigarettes at the commissary (??).
(h) Mail:(1) Incoming: None was received by those that arrived in the Jan. 1945 detail of 97 officers and 3 Navy enlisted

FUKUOKA #3, Page 3 of 3

men. Several hundred letters (dated a year or more previously) were distributed to the permanent personnel. Some news of the war's progress trickled in through underground channels.

(2) Outgoing: The officers in Jan. 1945 were allowed personally to send 1 radiogram. All prisoners also were allowed to send one 40-word radiogram for each 30 men. A card or letter of no more than 50 words could be sent once every several months.

(i) Work: The Japanese medical authorities determined which patients were able to work and their only acceptance of illness was fever. Any patient was required to work who registered fever under 102° so long as his debility was not too severe to permit him to move around. Officers were not compelled to perform manual labor, however, doctors and interpreters were compelled to practice their respective professions. The directing camp officials employed a coercive measure to induce the able bodied officers to volunteer to work - namely - refusal meant a decrease in the already
inadequate ration, and when they did work and draw full Japanese rations, many who were then too weak to work continued to suffer a cut in their basic ration. The working day was 9 to 10 hours, and types of work were: stevedores, mechanics and machinists. Considering the physical condition of the men, and their ration, they endured cruel hardships. The working prisoners were classified as "outside (factory) workers," "inside workers (those working in the camp", "sick in quarters," and "hospital". Outside workers received a substantially larger ration than the others. Some of the prisoners were kept busy many months building air raid shelters, however, when raids came over, very few prisoners were allowed in them. The mental strain on the prisoners knowing that the raids were coming, and having no adequate shelter, cannot
be described.

(j) Treatment: Upon the slightest provocation both the officers and the enlisted prisoners were beaten by the guards with clubs and fists. The prisoners were further tormented by lice, fleas and bedbugs. Clothing was filled with lice which
could not be eradicated except by boiling the garments. This privilege was denied. The treatment was consistently inhuman.

(k) Pay:(1) Officers were paid 50 yen per month and were permitted to spend about 10 yen of it in commissary purchases. (2) Enlisted men were paid when they worked. Generally they were given from 10 to 50 sen a day. (At least this is what the Japanese claim.)

(I) Recreation: Those physically able to work were not particularly concerned about recreation because there was little time left after working hours. Also they were completely exhausted after each days work. However the prisoners usually were given 2 or 3 holidays per month. A small library was installed with books donated by the YMCA. These were printed in English principally, but a few of them were in Dutch and other languages. There were no movies or athletic facilities and very few vegetable gardens. Smoking was permitted at certain hours when a courier from headquarters
would carry the "official light" from building to building. Matches and other fire making articles were strictly forbidden. An orchestra of 5 pieces played occasionally in the evening during warm months. [none of the POWs I talked to from this camp ever mentioned books or orchestras. They all said we worked, came back to the barracks, ate, and went to sleep. We were too tired to do any more.]

(m) Religious Activities: The prisoners were not allowed to have orthodox religious services except upon the occasion of a burial, when the chaplain prisoners were allowed to perform brief ceremonies.

(n) Morale: Fair

(o) Movements: 97 officers and 3 Navy medical corpsmen were on the Japanese ship ORYOKA MARU which was bombarded while in Subic Bay, the Philippines. They were rescued and taken to Takao, Formosa on a leg of their journey
to Fukuoka Camp #3, leaving this camp in April 1945 for Hoten Camp #1 in Manchuria. Of the 103 officers and corpsmen, 24 of the officers died in Camp #3, mainly from dysentery, beriberi and pneumonia superinduced and aggravated by
malnutrition and gross neglect suffered while aboard ship from Takao to Moji. Of this group of prisoners only 71 officers including the 3 corpsmen were able to move on to Manchuria. Five of this officer group were too weak to be moved. This
detail joined another detail of approximately 500 American prisoners from other camps in the Fukuoka area 24 April 1945.
When the prisoners reached Korea the group was divided, 264 of them remained in Korea, 236 moved to the Hoten #1, Mukden, from which place they and other prisoners were liberated on 16 Oct. i945. Fukuoka Camp #3 was liberated on 15
Sept. 1945. /////On 15 Sep 1945 the POWs were put aboard a train and taken to Nagasaki. There they were deloused, given showers and new clothes. They were put on the English aircraft carrier HMS Speaker and taken to Okinawa. From there they travelled by a variety of air and sea transport. Some of them then returned to San Francisco on the USS Catron, arriving 19 Oct 45. Being held so close to both Hiroshima and Nagasaki and being repatriated through Nagasaki puts any survivors today in a special category for VA benefits. If widows filed in the past for DIC and were denied they should file again. A new ruling on the part of the VA as of March 2002 now makes widows eligible for DIC if the POW died of certain types of cancer. Wesley H. Wells of the Army Air Corps came to Fukuoka 3-B on the Nissyo Maru on August 6 1944. After arriving in Okinawa on the HMS Speaker he flew by B-24 to Clark and then a cargo plane to Manila. The Dutch motor transport Klip Fontaine took him from Manila to Tacoma Washington, arriving 9 Oct 1945. Some POWs think whether you went home by sea or air depended on your physical on Okinawa. Those seen as less healthy were sent by ship. This may or may not be the case./////


All of the buildings in this camp were adequate. The facilities, if allowed to be used, also would have contributed greatly to the comfort and health of the men, referring particularly to heating equipment. The food from the standpoint of
quality, would have been acceptable. Tubs for bathing and hot water were plentiful and were made use of daily during the winter months.

The perverse Japanese officers however, would not keep steam heat on the hospital long enough each day to do much good. Fires in the barracks stoves were only allowed from 5:00 to 8:00 P.M. These deprivations plus such brutalities
as: (a) Withholding medicines and surgical instruments.(b) Severe beatings with fists and clubs.(c) Compelling men to work who were too weak to stand any physical strain.(d) Scarcity of food causing slow starvation.(e) Disallowing distribution of Red Cross food and other supplies but pilfering them for their own use.
leaves only the conclusion that the camp could not be rated otherwise than VERY POOR. [so how does the author of this report explain his rating of morale as being fair??]

To view excellent pictures of the barracks and the kitchen click below. Fukuoka 3-B Barracks Photos

The book DEATH MARCH The Survivors of Bataan by Donald Knox, contains references to Fukuoka 3-B.  The information following is from that book: Clothing issued at Fukuoka 3-B consisted of pants and coats of green burlap with a large weave.  Underwear or socks were not included.  Each POW was issued a cigar like box called a bento box.  This was used to receive three meals a day of rice.  Sometimes dried uncleaned minnows or a piece of shark were included with the rice. POWs were transported from the camp to the factory area in open rail cars.  The tracks ran right outside the camp.  These open cars were used year round, summer and winters. The bath at Fukuoka 3-B consisted of 2 large cement tanks which would hold 30 to 50 at a time.  Those who bathed first would get cleaner but by the time 1500 POWs used the same water clean was no longer an issue.  The heat of this water was very important.  Although the time allowed to bathe was limited, reference after reference is made to how warm individuals felt after this bath.  By wrapping up in all available clothes it was possible to retain this warmth into the night.  It is a good guess this saved some lives during the winter. Towards the end of the war there were more and more night time bombing raids by B-29s. After the guards announced the war was over the POWs slept outside to get away from the bedbugs.  They used the parachutes as sheets.  Doc Hoffman often spoke of how comfortable those parachutes were for sleeping. Click below to view pictures of Fukuoka 3-B, including interior photos of the barracks.

Fukuoka 3-B Barracks Photos