All North China Marines were held in this camp after December 1942 except for the 4 who escaped from Woosung and were then recaptured (see Escapes and Deaths) and the 25 to 30 who were sent to Japan in November of 1942.See sketches of the camp at the end of the report below. The diagrams and sketches were sent to me by Dr. Martin Davis, brother of NCM Herman Davis. The diagrams and sketches were done by Joe Astarita, a POW at Woosung and Kiangwan.
Information from Col Ashurst, Major Brown, and Major Devereaux on the transfer of the POWs from Kiangwan to Japan is at the end of the report.
Photo of Kiangwan used at War Crimes trials.
Click below for excellent information on daily life at Woosung and Kiangwan
See more photos at end of report
Official Report on Kiangwan
KIANGWAN, CHINA. Page 1 of 3
PRISONER OF WAR CAMPS IN AREAS OTHER THAN THE FOUR PRINCIPAL ISLANDS OF JAPAN
1. LOCATION: The Kiangwan camp. built on high and dry ground, was transferred Irom Woosung on 6 Dec, 1942. It was located in the suburbs of Kiangwan North of Shanghai on Tazang Molor Road, perhaps an hour ride by car from Shanghai, A Japanese military airdrome was located about two miles from the camp on the North, and a civilian airdrome about four mites South.
2. PRISONER PERSONNEL: The capacity of this camp was 1,600 and the prisoner personnel was divided as follows:
700 American army, navy and marine corps, plus nationalities brought the camp up to its full complement. (Separate report 10 Sep 45 lists Marines from Peking/Tientsin, US forces Wake Island, US Air Forces in China, men from USS Wake, SS Malama, SS Vincent, SS President Harrison, Pacific Naval Air Bases contractor personnel on Wake, Pan-American Airways personnel-Wake, Liberty Mutual Life Insurance personnel-Wake, men from HMS Peterel and British merchant ships, men from Norwegian merchant ships, and Italian forces from shanghai and SS Count de Verde.) Col William Ashurst, U.S. Marine Corps, was the ranking officer, his executive officer was Maj, Luther Brown.
3. GUARD PERSONNEL: The camp Commandant was Col. Otera whose staff consisted of Capt, Shindo. LI Malsui and a Mr. Ishihara.
4. GENERAL CONDITIONS: Conditions at this camp were fair, and much better than at Woosung, which boosted morale. The prisoners spent their leisure lime in improving the campgrounds by planting flower and vegetable gardens, and laying out a sports field- see info on Mt. Fuji project mentioned later in the report and after the photos below.
(a) Housing Facilities: The barracks, which were roofed with galvanized iron camouflaged with gray. green and blue paint, were surrounded by a live wire fence which was charged only at night, A stone wall, about 10' high, was located back of the fence and on top of that wall was another wired fence. The 7 barracks, which were about 200 yards long. with a capacity to accommodate approximately 250 prisoners each. were of flimsy construction but roomy and well lighted.
(b) Latrines: The latrines were the usual Japanese type and were very crude and unsanitary until improved by the prisoners. They were separately built at one end of each barracks.
(c) Bathing: Bathing facilities, with hot and cold water, were in separate barracks detached from living quarters. The water, which was inadequate during the summer months, came from a deep well.
(d) Mess Hall: The kitchen was operated by the prisoners with a non-commissioned officer in charge. Kitchen arrangements were very crude and utensils were sadly lacking. Bread was baked in the bakery and was of good quality.
(e) Food: Japanese issue was. for the most part. sufficient In quantity of a kind, while greatly tacking in quality. Meats and fats were negligible in quantity and poor in quality. Meals consisted largely of rice, vegetable stew, and small additions of meat - about 150 grams, mostly pork and fish, and 50 grams of bread and tea. The daily issue of Japanese food rations added up to about 2.150 calories, mostly carbohydrates. The paid working prisoners received 100% pro rata of the rations, the non-working prisoners about 80%.
The ration was augmented by supplies from the Red Cross of ham. bacon and fresh fruit which assured each prisoner at least one substantial meal per day. (See below for Colonel Ashurst's notes to the War Department on food at Woosung and Kiangwan.)A special Christmas dinner in 1944, prepared in camp by the prisoners, was furnished by the International Committee of the Red Cross, consisting of vegetable soup. pot roast, boiled sweet potatoes, boiled carrots, hot rolls, coffee and pumpkin pie. The aid of the Red Cross organizations, plus vegetables from the camp garden made food conditions tolerable. (After the war Col Ashurst recommended Red Cross representative Mr. Egle for the Distinguished Service Medal for his work on the behalf of the POWs at Woosung and Kiangwan.)
(f) Medical Facilities: No beds were provided in the hospital, which was first located at one end of a barracks, and which consisted of a few small rooms with no special arrangements. Separate bunks had been arranged by dividing the sleeping platforms. Later. 70 beds made available were transferred to the South side of the barracks so as to be less exposed to the cold. There was no artificial heat. The barracks were equipped with an infirmary, operating room, laboratory and a dental room. Medical supplies furnished by the Japanese, plus additional items donated by the International Committee of the Red Cross were, for the most part, adequate. The x-ray apparatus and other laboratory equipment was taken from Woosung by Capt. (then Commander) LC.Thyson. USN, the senior doctor.
The general state of health was good. From 6 Dec. 1942 until May 1945 there were 22 deaths from natural causes. Malnutrition was the underlying cause of most of the sickness. Japanese authorities furnished all vaccines and insisted on frequent inoculations for Cholera, dysentery and typhoid, plus smallpox vaccinations. (10 Sep 45 report lists 22 deaths altogether at Woosung and Kiangwan. Only 13 actually occurred at Kiangwan. 16 Dec 42 PFC Robert I Wiskochil pneumonia, 9 Mar 43 civilian Joseph V Williams rupture of spleen, 23 May 43 civilian Lee P Driscoll gastric ulcer, 20 Oct 43 civilian John Garrison cancer of pancreas, 1 Jun 44 Pfc Ralph E Phipps pulmonary TB, 19 Aug 44 CPL Frank A Guthrie TB meningitis, 15 Sep 44 civilian Abner S Smith TB of spine, 19 Sep 44 civilian Geronimo Taijeron cancer of liver, 18 Nov 44 PltSgt Holland Cash appendicitis-acute gangrene, 29 Nov 44 First Sgt Paul R Agar cirrhosis of liver, 16 Dec 44 civilian John Ellinson (Ellassen ?)macroeltin anemia, 19 Jan 45 CPL Clyde E Roark TB of spine, 23 Mar 45 Sgt Alton J Bertels pulmonary TB. All military were USMC.) (The report by Colonel Otera in Aug 1945 lists also the deaths of William J Newbold, British, 26 Dec 1942, Rudolph W Hansen, Norwegian, 17 Mar 1944, and John H Demchenko, US Merchant Marine, 1 Jun 1945.)
K1ANGWAN, CHINA. Page 2 of 3
A Japanese doctor. Capt. Shindo (then Lt.) was attached to the camp with a number of attendants Under his supervision, Capt. Thyson had charge of 4 medical officers - two naval doctors, one Royal Army Medical Corpsman, and one officer in the medical corps of the Italian Navy. plus one US, dental officer and three navy male nurses. The relationship between this personnel and the Japanese doctor was cooperative, Capt, Shindo procured medical supplies
(g) Supplies: During the first six months operation of this camp. it was difficult to get in parcels of any kind Later parcels of food, and some luxuries were sent in by friends on the outside, but only by means of the British Relief Association, or directly through the Japanese Gendarmerie. The latter invariably exercised its "squeeze", as all parcels did not reach their destination, and such as were received, had been subjected to pilferage of some of the contents. This
Through the efforts of the Committee of the International Red Cross, a channel was opened for the delivery of bulk supplies of medicaments, clothing, books, etc., including food-stuffs, the deliveries of the latter being made on the 10th and 25lh of each month. Also individual Red Cross packages were received at various times Each prisoner received,
Most of the prisoners and internees were able to retain possession of their personal belongings such as clothing and bedding. However, this was not true of the Wake Island marine prisoners and civilians who were forced to vacate "Wake"
The Japanese authorities supplies a liberal amount of seed, and In time a quantity of vegetables were grown and a part of them were stored for future use. after the Japanese had taken for themselves that portion claimed by them to be "excess".
The range of articles sold in the canteen was narrow and prices were extremely high. No article sold for less than CRB S50. Unless the prisoners pooled their resources, it was difficult to buy anything. From time to time the prisoners received donations which were fixed at 10 yen for an individual and could not exceed 20 yen monthly. The medium of
(h) Mail: There were no regulations restricting incoming mail but it took letters many months to reach camp.
(i) Work: Prisoners who were physically fit, worked in the vicinity of the camp on road building, drainage, ground leveling, etc. They worked 6 days a week and were off Sundays Japanese and American holidays were observed. The workday was from 8:30 to 16:30. In Jan. 1943 the enlisted men worked in building a mount 200 yards long, 50 yards wide
(j) Treatment: In general the Japanese treatment was tolerable. Col, Otera was more or less lenient but some of his subordinates were boorish and stern. Beating was the standard form of punishment for violations of rules such as smoking out of bounds, or any minor departure from rules. Particularly mean was a man named Ishihara, an interpreter. Ninety percent of the mistreatments reported and protested never reached the authorities inasmuch as such protests had to be channeled through Ishihara. (10 Sep 45 report lists beatings numerous by hand, fist, kicking, stick, board, riding whip, rifle, pistol, sword, stabbing with bayonet, water cure, windlass to fingers. Examples given in report are: Summer 42 Lt Huizenga beaten unconscious, 8-13 Jan 44 water cure given to Lt Foley, Sgt B J Schick, Sgt Henry Stowers, Sgt J C Minnick, Sgt Stone, Ambrose Lurn, and Garbor. Ens JJ David and Mr Freyburger were kicked and severely beaten. The wire windlass was applied to Sgt Minnick's fingers.)
(k) Pay: Officers were paid according to the pay of Japanese officers of corresponding rank The Japanese deducted
2"° Lt.: 7083 yen. 1st Lt,: 85.00yen.Capt.: 122 50 yen; Maj : 170,00 yen, Lt. Co.: 230.00 yen. Col.: 312.50 yen
Deductions: Food: 42 00 yen: Clothing: 15 00 yen, Furniture and Electricity: 3.00 yen, for a total of 60,00 yen. The enlisted men were divided into 2 groups The specialists received $27 CRB or about 5 yen a month, arid the ordinary laborers received $15 to $20 CRB a month,
(1) Recreation: Recreational activities were well maintained during the winter months, mostly games, ping pong, chess
The library, housed in a special barracks, contained a reading room, a writing room and game rooms. Through various
KIANGWAN, CHINA, Page 3 of 3
sources the prisoners who operated the library, were able to collect 4,000 books of all types.
(m) Religious Activities: There were several officers among the prisoners who conducted services. Catholic prisoners listened every Sunday to the high-mass service broadcasted from the Church of Christ in Shanghai. Whenever there was a death among the prisoners the Japanese allowed funeral ceremonies and taps were blown.
(n) Morale: The morale of the men was fair.
5. MOVEMENTS: On 20 Aug. 1943. a group of about 200 men wre transferred to Japan. On 11 Nov. 1943, another group of 150 men were also transferred to Japan. On 4 May 1945 a 100-man detail, comprised of carpenters, electricians, specialists, several foremen and one doctor, was sent by train to ready the new camp at Fengtai. (Earlier shipments of POWs had taken place from Woosung in Sept and Nov 1942.) The Col Otera report of Aug 45 lists the following transfers out of Kiangwan prior to the closing of the camp in May 45: On 20 Aug 1943 - 178 US Marines plus 1 US enlisted (Army ?), 327 civilians, 7 British enlisted, and 12 civilians. Of this group 120 went to Tobu (Tokyo) Army District in Japan and 400 went to Tyubu (Osaka) Army District. It may be the 12 civilians were British. On 20 Nov 1943 - 1 US enlisted and 4 civilians to the Tokyo area. On 20 Jun 1944 1 US civilian to the Tokyo area. On 28 Apr 1944 Estonian Ferdinand Reinthall was repatriated. He was a wireless officer on the SS Mary Woller.
On 9 May 1945 Kiangwan Camp was closed and most of the personnel was transported in small boxcars, 10 men to a car, officers 33 to a car. The move was carried out efficiently. They assigned doctors and corpsmen to the cars so as to assure a water supply. It took 5 days to travel to the new camp. and during this period, 7 men escaped. The 25 men left behind were
Colonel Ahurst's notes to the War Dept in Oct 1945 mention the following:
They received four shipments of Red Cross food, clothing, toilet articles, etc. 18 Dec 42, summer 43, Feb 44, March 45. The Japanese took 25% of the Dec 42 shipment, over 50% of the summer 43 shipment. The Feb 44 shipment was mostly given to the POWs because the Japanese still had food left over from the summer 43 shipment they had stolen. The POW officers issued one food package per man per week for three weeks, then a package each holiday for the rest of that year. He says he believed that shipment saved many men. Most of the March 45 shipment was given to the prisoners except the cigarettes, chocolates, prunes, and raisins the Japanese took. The Mar 45 shipment had enough food packages for each POW to have nine packages with 128 packages going to the Japanese. Ashurst eventually got all those 128 packages back from the Japanese but they had already opened 60 of them, thus the losses mentioned above. By March of 1945 the Red Cross was able to send more food purchased on the local market in Shanghai into the camp and also the prisoners were not required to work as hard as they had been earlier.
He mentions the Red Cross, with Mr Edouard Egle as the representative, being able to deliver food every two weeks to the camp. This food was obtained locally. He recommended Mr Egle for the Distinguised Service Medal for delivering "the essential food, clothing and medical supplies delivered ... contributed materially to the general good health of the Prisoners of War and in no small measure was directly responsible for the unusually low mortality rate ...
The two sketches below, done by POW Astarita, were sent to me by Dr. Martin Davis, brother of North China Marine Herman Davis.
The Mt Fuji project pictured here is mentioned in the report above and in both the Biggs and Chittenden books. The project was to construct a rifle range for use by Japanese troops. It took 18 months to complete. POWs loaded by hand and then pushed carloads of dirt on narrow gauge railroad track. At first 4 men were needed and as the hill grew higher it took 6 men. On completion Mt Fuji measured 600 feet long by 150 wide at the base. It stood 40 feet high. In the beginning crews were required to move 9 to 10 loads of dirt a day. This was increased to 45 to 50 loads a day. Picks and shovels were broken by the POWs until they realized every time they broke a tool they would be beaten with clubs by the sergeant in charge of the toolshed. Beatings could injure you enough to be put on the sick list. POWs on the sick list had their rations cut in half. They worked in the snow and in the heat. Only when it rained hard enough to make the mud too slick to push the carts did they not work. The project was completed in mid summer of 1944. (This is why Ashurst said the Feb 44 shipment of Red Cross food packages saved many men. The Mt Fuji project was wearing the men down. By Mar 45 he was able to say the work required was not as hard and the health of the men was better, they were no longer working on Mt Fuji.)
The Transfer from Kiangwan to Japan Col William W. Ashurst replied in letters dated 23 Oct 45, 7 Jan 46, and 1 May 46 to questions from a Captain Smith in the War Department. In the 1 May 46 letter he includes the following information on the transfer: (In the Oct 45 letter Ashurst puts the total numbers for Woosung and Kiangwan from approximately 2800 to approximately 985 over the years. There were Americans, British, Norwegians, Estonians, and Italians. Other reports list the total at 1800. In the other letters Ashurst uses the 1800 figure as the total.) He said he kept a complete record of the North China Marines in captivity but the Japanese took it away and destroyed it on 17 Jun 1945.
Prior to May 1945 about a thousand military and civilian POWs were transferred to Japan from Woosung and Kiangwan. On 9 May 1945 996 POWs left by rail for Fengtai. They passed through Shanghai, Nanking, Soochowfoo, and Tientsin. They arrived at Fengtai the morning of 15 May 1945. Fengtai was their worst experience as they lived in large warehouses on dirt or brick floors. There was much sickness between time of arrival and departure on 19 June.
"On June 19, 1945 left Fengtai near Peiping via rail - Tientsin, Chinwangtao - Mukden, Manchuria - to Fusan, Korea by water to Japan arriving June 29, 1945 (Four days in a filthy camp at Fusan and aboard a crowded, dirty, foul-smelling, louse-and-flea-ridden holds of a prison ship, four decks down, interspersed with diseased Korean Coolies, for a heat-exhausting and stormy trip for two days and one night while crossing mine-submarine-infested waters of the Strait of Tsushima from Korea to Japan.) Then by rail Kobe, Nagoya, Osaki, Tokyo to the Island 'Hakodate' arriving there July 4, 1945.
We were taken on north then by rail to camps in an area called "Nishi-Ashibetsu, Hokkaido, Japan. The officers were then separated from the men and placed in "Hakodate War Prisoner's Branch Camp No. 4., Nishi-Ashibetsu, Hokkaido, Japan." The letter says they were released from here 14 Sep 45. There were many camps in the area "three of ours, some of men from the Philippines, some Dutch and more British and Australian. Our officers were in Camp No. 4 with 48 Australian officers." The Australians were in Camp 4 about two weeks before Ashurst's group arrived 7 Jul 1945.
Ashurst listed the following for departure on 9 May 1945 from Kiangwan.
Group A Americans: USMC - 1 Col, 2 Majors, 7 Captains, 5 1st Lt, 3 2nd Lt USN - 1 Commander, 1 LtCommander, 1 Lt, 2 Lt(jg), 3 Ensign USA - 1 Major, 1 Captain, 10 1st Lt, 7 2nd Lt USMC 1 CWO, 4 WO 309 USMC enlisted, 40 USN enlisted, 8 USA enlisted 29 Merchant Marine officers British: Army - 1 Capt, 2 Lt Navy - 1 Lt Commander enlisted 29 Army, 7 Navy 25 British Merchant Marine officers Total Group A 500 men
Group B Us Merchant Marine crew and civilians 223 Norwegian Merchant Marine officers 5 Italian officers 9, enlisted 61, Merchant Marine officers 2 Total Group B 300 men
Group C American Officer (MC) USN 1 1st Lt(jg) Enlisted (MC) USN 7 Merchant Marine crew and civilians (white) 100 civilians Oriental 88 Total Group C 196. This group included North China Marines Dr Foley (the one American officer) and Navy Pharmacist Mates Black, Davis, Hunt, Johnson, Riley, Ryan, and Schraeder ( the 7 enlisted USN)
Groups A, B, and C were evidently then sent to different areas of Japan. Group A was the group sent to Hokkaido and Group C was the group sent to Sendai # 11. At least some of group B ended up in places like Rokuroshi and Naoetsu. A document dated 10 Sep 1945 discussing the 19 Jun 1945 shipment from Fusan to Japan has 300 Americans, Norwegians, and Italians being located in the Tokyo area, 196 Americans in the northern part of Honshu (this would be Sendai # 11), and the remaining Americans and British in Hokkaido. Major Brown's information verifies that of Colonel Ashurst. Wake civilian James Allen was part of a group of 150 civilians sent to Niigata during this move. So 150 others from Group B were sent elsewhere in the Tokyo area. James Allen's info can be seen at http://rims.k12.ca.us/pow/index.html
There were four articles in the Saturday Evening Post giving Major Devereaux's story of the Wake Marines. They appeared 23 Feb 46, 2 Mar 46, 9 Mar 46, and 16 Mar 46. The information below comes from the 16 March article. In the spring of 45 P-51s buzzed the camp at Kiangwan and became a common sight. The guards became more agitated and herded the POWs into the barracks when the P-51s appeared overhead or were bombing nearby. At times they used their bayonets to get the POWs inside. At least once the guards fired at the P-51s from inside the barracks, shooting out from the windows. By March rumors said the POWs would be leaving Kinagwan. In May an advance detail was sent out from Kiangwan, consisting of civilian workers from Wake, several Navy corpsmen, and about 80 Marines. Lt Foley was in charge. He spoke Chinese and was able to send word back from the rail station they were headed to Fengtai. When the whole camp left about two dozen TB and mental cases were held back. (Twenty nine POWs had been selected to be hospitalized in Shanghai at the time of this move, but the Japanese disapproved of four.) The trip to Fengtai took five days. On 19 June they left Fengtai, a four day train ride into Manchuria and then to Pusan, Korea. They marched 3 miles through rain and ankle deep mud, including a one legged pilot on crutches. "The flies at Fengtai had been thick enough to give us dysentery. Here (Pusan) we had to brush them off our plates with one hand while we ate with the other, if we could makes ourselves choke down the garbage they gave us. The third day at Fusan, they marched us down to the docks and packed us into the airless lower deck of a ferry steamer. The trip across Korea Strait was only twelve hours, but the jam, the stifling heat and the lack of ventilation, not to mention the risk of air and submarine attack, made it far worse than our nine days in the boxcars." They were placed on trains for two days to Hokkaido and arrived at Takagawa (Hokkaido) on 6 July 1945. The morning after their arrival 35 officers were sent 25 miles from Takagawa to Nishi-ashibetsu. There they joined 45 Australian officers captured on Rabaul who were there when the Americans arrived. The Australians had been at Zentsuji. At Nishi-ashibetsu Camp # 4 officers were put to work clearing ground for a garden and then hauling lumber and gravel to a nearby mine. On 14 August they heard Russia was in the war. On 18 Aug they were informed of the Japanese surrender. Red Cross representatives arrived to inspect the camp. On that day the Japanese set up a first aid room and stocked it with all the medical supplies they had confiscated from the POWs when they had arrived from China. The officers left Camp # 4 on 13 September. Devereaux reached Guam 17 Sep, Pearl Harbor 19 Sep, and Washington, DC on 26 Sep. (Those enlisted men sent back by ship did not reach San Francisco until mid October.)
Photo below was taken either at Woosung or Kiangwan. The four in the back, left to right are John Pace (Wake civilian), Jimmy (Wake civilian), John V Castleton, and Dan Walmer. Castleton and Walmer are Navy pharmacist mates captured with the North China Marines. Castleton was serving in Tientsin and Walmer in Peking.
The Japanese are left to right: SgtMajor Ikabe (who had a terible temper), Dr Shindo, Private Tanaka (very friendly and helpful), and kneeling unk medic.