North China Marines held here were those not sent to Japan in November of 1942, August of 1943, and November of 1943.  This was only a temporary camp while the POWs were being sent from Kiangwan to Japan in May of 1945.  Fengtai is located about 7 miles southwest of Peking.  The POWs were housed in a warehouse. The POWs arrived 14 May 45 and left 19 June 45.


By Capt. James I. Norwood and Capt. EmilyL._Shek, 31 July 1946



Fengtai Camp was located 2 miles from the Fengtai Railway Junction, and 8 miles
southwest of Peking in the midst of one of the largest supply depots in North China.
This camp was transferred from Kiangwan and was to be used only as a transit camp.


The Advanced group of 100 men arrived 9 May 1945 to open the camp. The second group,
which completed the movement, arrived 14 May 1945. The total number of prisoners was
about 1,000 of which 430 were civilians, 450 army, navy and marine corps and the rest
made up ofther nationalities. Col. William Ashurst remained as ranking officer and
Maj. Luther Brown his executive.
(The advance group was led by Dr Foley.)


All Japanese officers and guards were transferred from Kiangwan.


Conditions as a whole were deplorable. The housing situation was over-crowded, the
unsanitary state of latrines caused an epidemic of dysentery and diarrhea. The bathing
facilities were practically nil.

(a) Housing facilities: The men were quartered in a large brick warehouse very
much like an airplane hangar. It was 250 yards long and 146 yards wide and approximate-
ly 50 feet high. It was divided into 5 sections by brick walls, the roof was a slate
composition and the floor was concrete brick, windows were on the sides of the build-
ing near the top of the roof. Prisoners slept on the floor and not all were provided
with straw matting. The average floor space per man was 2x6 feet.

(b) Latrines: The latrine was a huge open pit about 20 feet away from the bar-
racks. Three rows of logs were placed across the pit and straw matting all around it.

(c) Bathing: The only water outlet in the entire camp was a single fire hydrant.
A long trough, with numerous outlets, was later added.

(d) Mess Halls: The mess hall was in a separate building about 150 yards away
from the barrack. It was constructed of matting and was more of a shed. The cooking
was done in huge cauldrons and representatives from each section carried buckets to
draw food, whence It was taken to the barracks and served. An oven in the supply depot
was later made available for the baking of bread.

(e) Food: Food here was in a way inferior to Kiangwan. The meat ration was low-
er but there was a great quantity of wheat flour which was used in making noodlesi
dumplings and bread.

(f) Medical Facilities; Medtcal facilities comprised all the supplies and equip-
ment they had moved from Kiangwan. No additional medical supplies were issed by the

A hospital was set up in the same section of the officers quarters. Protests were
made by the doctors and the officers, but to no avail.

(g) Supplies; The Red Cross managed to deliver one shipment of clothes and food,
The Japanese did not issue any clothing in this camp. Some soap and tooth powder were
(Fran Plog told me of a work party finding a warehouse with almost new USMC uniforms and some prisoners getting some clothing from that discovery.)

The day before the prisoners were scheduled to leave Fengtai a Red Cross shipment
of food packages arrived) which was divided among the prisoners and taken by them to

(h) Mail: Only local mail was received and no outgoing mail was allowed...
(i) Work: The officers did not work, but many of them helped in making a base-
ball diamond. The enlisted men were required to work on cleaning up the camp area and
normal labor in the supply depot.

(j> Treatment; The treatment was the some as in Kiangwan and Woosung.
(k) Pay: Officers pay was the same as in Kiangwan and Woosung:

2nd Lt.------ 70.83 Yen 1st Lt.------ 85.00 Yen Captain------.122.50 Yen

Major--------170.00 Yen Lt. Colonel--230.00 Yen Colonel--312. 50 Yen


There was the same deduction of 60 yen for food, clothing, furniture and electricity.
The enlisted men did not receive any pay.

(1) Recreation: Except for the library that was moved from Kiangwan, furnished
by the Y.M.C.A., prisoners did not have much in the way of recreation.

(m) Religious Activities: There were no orthodox church services. Some of the
officers managed to get small groups together and held their own services.

(n) Morale: The morale was.excellent due to the fact that the men had stayed
so long in Kiangwan, that any change was welcomed.


The 996 prisoners were divided into 3 groups, namely A,B, and C. Group A consisted
of 436 American Army, Navy, Marine and Merchant Marine personnel and 64 British Army
and mercantile marines, making a total of 500. Group B consisted of 223 American Mer-
chant Marine and civilians, 5,Norwegians and 72 Italians, making a total of 300. Group
C consisted of 108 American Navy, Merchant Marine and civilians and 68 Orientals making
a total of 196. On June 19, 1945 all 3 groups left Fengtai by train for Pusan, Korea.
They travelled in boxcars and were so crowded that only 1/2 of the men could lie down
at one time. They arrived in Pusan June 24, 1945 and on 28 June were loaded on a boat for
Japan. Upon their arrival in Japan the 3 groups were separated. One group was sent to the
Tokyo area, one to the northern part of Honshu and one to Hokkaido.

End of Report.

Wake civilian James Allen was part of a group of 150 civilians sent at this time to Niigata. The other 150 men from group B was apparently sent elsewhere in the Tokyo area. The James Allen information can be seen at http://rims.k12.ca.us/pow/index.html

Description of travel to Fengtai and Japan from Col Ashurst's notes to War Department -

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."

The Otera report lists the following numbers leaving Fengtai. The dates are apparently when the POWs actually left Pusan, at which time they were officially transferred to Japan and no longer the responsibility of Colonel Otera.

one group of 406 US officer and enlisted, 39 British, 29 US Merchant Marine, 25 British Merchant Marine, 1 South African Merchant Marine. This group left Fengtai on 24 Jun 1945. The Ashurst papers list 407 US military, 29 US Merchant Marine, 39 British military, and 25 British Merchant Marine, for a total of 500 in this group. They went to Hokkaido.

one group of 70 Italian officer and enlisted, 2 Italian Merchant Marine, 223 American civilian, and 2 Norwegian Merchant Marine. This group left 27 Jun 1945. The Ashurst papers list 223 US civilian and merchant marine crew, 5 Norwegian Merchant Marine, 70 Italian military, and 2 Italian Merchant Marine for a total of 300 in this group. They ended up in camps on Honshu, some of them in Niigata.

a third group of 13 US officer and enlisted and 13 US civilian is listed as being transferred on 27 Jun1945 to the Tohoku Army District Command. This appears to be those POWs held in Peking and Shanghai when the rest were sent to Japan.

The Ashurst papers and the official Fengtai report mention another group (Group C) of 196 POWs that had 1 USMC officer, 7 Navy corpsmen, 100 white Merchant Marine and civilians, and 88 Oriental civilians. They ended up in Sendai # 11. This group somehow does not appear in the Otera report, yet all the other numbers equal those in the Ashurst report.


The Otera report specifically says the Shanghai War Prisoners Camp was the title by which the camp was known whether it was at Woosung, Kiangwan, or Fengtai. Otera lists the following as being held under him at the end of the war:

Lt Commander Winfield Scott Cunningham USN

Capt Kendall Frank Everest Jr USAAC, 2nd Lts John David Beers, Robert Leighty Gardner, George Barr, Robert Lowell Hite, and Chase Jay Nielson, all USAAC

Corporal Jacob Daniel Deshazer USA

Sgt Raymond Leonard Coulson, Corporals Connie Gene Battles and Charles Brimmer, PFC Charles Stewart all USMC (This is in error as Cunningham, Coulson, Battles, Brimmer, and Stewart had all been sent to Peking earlier. See Escapes and Deaths)

Pharmacist Mate 2nd Travis Artis Brewer USN

Wake Civilians Pat Howard Herndon, William Jack Hernandez, and Raymond Reese Rutledge. Hernandez had escaped from the train carrying the POWs from Shanghai to Fengtai, but had broken his leg in the process and was recaptured.

Otera lists the following men as being released from his jurisdiction on 5 Aug 1945 to the Civil Assembly Center in Shanghai:

Plt Sgt William Didd Beck USMC, Corp Robert Earl Lee USMC, Seaman 2nd Carl Moor Jr USN, PFC Leroy Glenwood Moritz USMC, PFC John Henry Jesse USMC, Civilian Edward Laurence Cook, Civilian Amos Jerome White, Merchant Seaman Eugene Bright Deturcz, Merchant Seaman Donald Mason Smith, British Merchant Seaman Herbert R Edmondson, Italians Marion Benedetti and Alberto Stebel, and one USMC SSgt with first name of Carl Stephen (last name unreadable)

Otera lists the following as being released from the hospital in Shanghai and being in the Military Internment Camp in Peking, apparently a camp not under his jurisdiction:

PFC William Krenistki USMC, PFC Harris Lee Mercer USMC, Corp Theodore Roosevelt Dedmon USMC, PFC Douglas A Bunn USMC, Civilians Raymond Hadly Wheeler, Reed Bradley Catmull, Daniel Clarence Hall, Howard Elliot Cook, Joseph W Walters, John Sherman Crom, and Royal Army Corporal Charles Kitchener Heather.

All spellings are taken from the Otera report.


Fengtai-NARA photo