The Internment of Western Civilians under the Japanese 1941-1945: A patchwork of internment

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Publisher: Hong Kong University Press. But how the , British, Dutch and American civilian men, women and children captured and interned by the Japanese in the Far Eaast during the same period survived their internment is less well-known. How did these colonial people react to the sudden humiliation of surrender?

The Internment of Western Civilians under the Japanese addresses these questions. Bernice Archer's comparative study of the experiences of the Western civilians interned by the Japanese in mixed family camps and sexually segregated camps in the Far East combines a wide variety of conventional and unconventional source material. This includes: contemporary War, Foreign and Colonial Office papers, diaries, letters, camp newspapers and artefacts and post-war medical, engineering and educational reports, biographies, autobiographies, memoirs and over fifty oral interviews with ex-internees.

An investigation of evacuation policies reveals the moral, economic, political, emotional and racial dilemmas faced by the imperial powers and the colonial communities in the Far East. A female internee, Hilda Bates, wrote: " At One fell outside our hut and was labelled 'bread'. Others contained flour, tinned rabbit, and other meat. The goods were collected by the Japs under the supervision of Australian Officers who distributed them to the groups of internees.

All sorts of what we had thought of as luxuries arrived; such as sugar, sweets, milk, bundles of clothing, and even fashion books! After communicating with the Japanese staff at Kuching, Colonel A. Wilson landed on the Sarawak River on 5 September and conferred with the commander of the Japanese forces there, who confirmed there were 2, Allied prisoners and internees in the area. The next day, Brigadier Thomas Eastick , commander of Kuching Force—a detachment from the 9th Division—flew to the mouth of the Sarawak River in a Catalina where three Japanese officers, including Suga, came aboard for talks.

On 7 September, Walsh was permitted by the Japanese to fly to the headquarters of the 9th Division on Labuan island, to collect surgical and medical supplies for the camp. He returned with two Australian medical officers, Major A. Hutson and Lt. Up-to-date medical care and drugs soon began to show effect upon our sick and many lives were saved by these two officers. Out of the two thousand of us who entered that camp, only seven hundred and fifty survived and of these well over six hundred were chronic sick ".

Immediately prior to the surrender of Japan, rumours abounded in the camp that the Japanese intended to execute all the prisoners rather than allow them to be freed by the approaching Allied forces; [] when Dr Yamamoto informed some prisoners that they were to be moved to a new camp they naturally feared the worst, especially when he promised the unlikely idyll of a camp " equipped with the best medical equipment obtainable Official orders to execute all the prisoners, both POWs and civilian, on 17 or 18 August [] were found in Suga's quarters after the liberation of the camp.


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The orders were not carried out, presumably as a result of the unconditional surrender of Japan on 15 August. A "death march", similar to those at Sandakan and elsewhere, was to have been undertaken by those male prisoners physically able to undertake it; other prisoners were to be executed by various methods in the camp:.

Revised orders for the execution on 15 September of all the internees were also found, this time in the Administration Office at Batu Lintang:. The camp was liberated on 11 September , four days before the revised proposed execution date of over 2, men, women and children. The 9th Division troops arrived at Batu Lintang camp that afternoon, accompanied by a few American naval officers. The prisoners and internees had been forewarned that there would be no delay in taking the surrender, and quickly gathered at in the main square of the camp to witness Eastick accept the sword of Suga.

The following day, Suga, together with Captain Nagata and Dr Yamamoto, were flown to the Australian base on Labuan, to await their trials as war criminals. Suga committed suicide there on 16 September. Nagata and Yamamoto were later tried, found guilty and executed. Photographers and cameramen accompanied the liberating force, and the events, and those of the following days, were well-documented. On 12 September, a thanksgiving service was held in the camp, led by two Australian chaplains from the liberating force and Bishop Francis S. Hollis of Sarawak, an ex-internee.

Repatriation commenced on 12 September, and by 14 September, former prisoners had been removed, though pressure of numbers meant that some were still at Batu Lintang a week after liberation.

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The captured Japanese soldiers were then held at Batu Lintang camp. There they were visited by J. Archer, an ex-internee, who noted "There were about eight thousand of them A lunch of fried rice, fish, vegetable and dried fruit was shown to me. This, I was told, was just an ordinary sample. By June—July , the bodies in the cemetery at Batu Lintang had been exhumed and reburied in the military cemetery on Labuan island. It exists as such to the present day, the oldest in Malaysia. Of the numerous huts that had housed the prisoners, only 21 were considered fit for use in ; after refurbishment the college moved in July from its temporary home in Kuching to the site at Batu Lintang.

These include a single hut albeit with a galvanised roof rather than the attap palm leaf one of the war , the old gate posts, the gate bunker and stump of the Japanese flag pole. There is also a small museum on the site. Three Came Home , an account of female internee Agnes Newton Keith 's time in the camp, was published in It was later made into a feature film of the same name, with Claudette Colbert playing the part of Agnes, Patric Knowles playing her husband Harry and Sessue Hayakawa in the role of Suga.

The Union Jack which had been draped over the coffins of prisoners of war at the camp, and which had been raised in the camp on the Japanese capitulation, was placed in All Saints Church, Oxford in April , together with two wooden memorial plaques. After the deconsecration of the church and their temporary loss, in the flag and plaques were housed in Dorchester Abbey.

The Australian War Memorial in Canberra, Australia holds a large archive of material related to the camp, much of which is accessible on the AWM website [] in the collections databases. Many of the personal recollections held at the latter two repositories are reproduced in the publication by Keat Gin Ooi see below for full reference. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. In the foreground is the Roman Catholic priests' compound. The central open area is one of the parade grounds; beyond that is the main enclosure containing the camps of the British other ranks, the Indonesian soldiers and the male civilian internees.

The female civilian internees' camp is just visible at top right. Three panel signals to the liberating forces are visible on the roof of the long building parallel to the track on the left edge of the photograph. Part of a series on the. Prehistoric Malaysia. Prehistoric Malaysia —6th century. Early kingdoms. Rise of Muslim states. Colonial era.

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World War II. Formative era. Barisan Nasional era. Pakatan Harapan era.


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  • General election — Change of government Bornean States proposed constitutional amendment Abdication of Muhammad V of Kelantan Lowered voting age constitutional amendment By topic. Communications Economic Military. Remains of the Japanese flagpole at the site of Lt. Suga's office. Currently the oldest building in the camp grounds. This section does not cite any sources.

    Please help improve this section by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. September Learn how and when to remove this template message. Pim Ligtvoet. Archived from the original on 2 April Retrieved Morris mistakenly states that Tuxford's wife was in the camp. She was a native woman and so was not interned.

    The Internment of Western Civilians under the Japanese 1941-1945: A patchwork of internment

    Julie was interned with Tuxford's mother and his sister ie with her grandmother and aunt. However, a policy of slow starvation was carried out instead. Archived from the original on They were caught, and although opposed to the activity, Le Gros Clark was implicated. Nine men were tried and sentenced to between six months' and six years' imprisonment. The official surrender broadcast, a pre-recorded speech by Emperor Hirohito , the Imperial Rescript on Surrender , was made at noon on 15 August.

    However, the Japanese Suzuki government had indicated the surrender on August 14, by notifying the Allied forces that it accepted the Potsdam Agreement. Quotation from the papers of G. Archived from the original on 8 April Australian War Memorial. Archived from the original on 18 March Launceston, Tasmania: Bokprint.

    Bell was in the British officers' camp; his wife published his account after his death Brown, D. Colley was in the male civilians' camp; his wife was in the female civilians' camp Cunningham, Michele K. Contains an account by J. A biography of Dr James P. His wife Celia was in the female civilians' camp Forbes, George K.

    Edition limited to copies Howes, Peter H. Derwent Kell is the pen name of Dr Marcus C. Clarke , who was in the male civilians' camp Kirby, S. Woodburn et al. John-Jones, L. Smallfield was in the male civilians' camp Southwell, C. Wartime is the official magazine of the Australian War Memorial.

    Historical related buildings, memorials, monuments and sites in Malaysia. West Malaysia. John's Cathedral St. Mary's Cathedral Victoria Institution. John's Fort St. Paul's Church St. All Souls' Church, C. Anne's Church St. Alwi Mosque. East Malaysia. Labuan Chimney Labuan Clock Tower. Michael's Church, Penampang St. History of East Malaysia. Hidden categories: Coordinates on Wikidata Articles needing additional references from September All articles needing additional references Commons category link is on Wikidata. Namespaces Article Talk. Views Read Edit View history.

    In other projects Wikimedia Commons. By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Kuching, Sarawak. Aerial view of part of Batu Lintang camp, on or after 29 August Prehistoric Malaysia Prehistoric Malaysia. Early kingdoms Gangga Negara. Pan Pan. Kedah Tua. Pahang Tua. Rise of Muslim states Kedah Sultanate.

    Brunei Sultanate. Malacca Sultanate. Sulu Sultanate. Pahang Sultanate. Aceh Sultanate. Pattani Sultanate. Perak Sultanate. Johor Sultanate. Sarawak Sultanate. Selangor Sultanate. Besut Kingdom. Setul Kingdom. Reman Kingdom. Kubang Pasu Kingdom. House of Jamalullail. Colonial era Portuguese Malacca. Dutch—Portuguese War. Pahang Kingdom. Ted Cadwallader, interned from three to six years old, recalled how the guards often touched his platinum-blond hair, took pictures of him, and gave him candy and gum.

    Bernice Archer (Author of The Internment of Western Civilians Under the Japanese )

    The Japanese often conducted machine gun drills on the front lawn of the campus. During these drills, guards rushed forward, dropped to the ground, set up their machine guns, then jumped up, and repeated the drill. Internees understood this to be a demonstration of Japanese military might and a warning not to cross them. Yet, one day, a group of children ran out onto the field behind the guards. The children shouted, laughed, dropped down, jumped up, and generally imitated the guards. After this incident, the commandant discontinued these types of drills. The children swung their arms, imitated the soldiers, and appeared to have a great time.

    The soldiers smiled and permitted it, perhaps flattered at the imitation. Yet, organizing efforts broke down in the last thirteen months as hardship increased.

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    Moreover, the Japanese soldiers who occupied the camp during were battle-hardened warriors who despised their enemy charges. Recent allied victories and advancements in the Pacific theater threatened Japanese strong- holds. Frustrated soldiers intimidated and frightened both adults and children. Rumors abounded that the Imperial Japanese Army intended to murder all males over ten and use women and younger children as human shields. The camp school closed as malnourished children lacked the ability to focus on their studies and the strength to attend classes.

    Hollow-eyed, skinny, and listless, they sat around and talked about food. They exchanged detailed stories of past feasts and collected recipes on any available scrap of paper.

    [Indonesia] Japanese internment camps - World War II

    Without hesitation the boys swooped down and shoveled the refuse into their mouths. After they carried off the bulk of the car- cass for their own consumption, starving men, women, and children scrambled for the offal left behind in the dirt. It filled the void in our bellies but raised havoc with our digestive system.

    I would catch it, an internee doctor would kill and skin it, and Dad would cook it. We were a real team, but Mary [his younger sister] refused to eat cat, regardless of her hunger. Weinzheimer nursed her son through three years of intern- ment. Robin Prising recalled observing adult prisoners eating imaginary meals, gulping and slurping the air, and suck- ing on their hands and fingers. On the evening of February 3, , the sky over Manila glowed red-orange as multiple fires burned throughout the city.

    Many internees recalled the intensifying sound of machine gun fire as they watched tracer bullets and flares streak through the sky like fireworks. We watched, waited, prayed, and lis- tened with trembling excitement. We dared not believe. We had been fooled so many times! Their subsequent internment stripped colonials of their comfortable prewar lives, disrupted familial stability, and pushed many to their physical breaking point. Many adult internees believed that the unconventional living arrangements and subversion of parental authority threatened to produce an unruly, uneducated, and uncivilized cohort of Western youth.

    They considered directing and organizing the activities of children and adolescents as crucial to the normalization and stabilization process. Children and youth benefited from these efforts as they continued their education, learned new skills, and found some stability in routine. Parents also benefitted as the communal response lightened their own childrearing burden.


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    • Children found time, materials, and space in which to create their own experiences, including risky ones. Though many adults perceived free play activities to be bothersome, potentially harmful, and a noisy waste of time, many children developed their creativity and important interpersonal skills through their undirected interactions with nature and with each other.

      Ostensibly, this was a positive development for internees. However, as liberation drew near, resources dwindled and the threat of violence at the hands of their frustrated captors grew. Though internees suspected the conditions indicated an imminent Allied victory, the insecurity of their own future preoccupied them. Thus, efforts at normalization decreased in the last thirteen months of internment as intensified military domination, starvation, and deteriorating conditions hindered organized activities. As a focus of historical inquiry, the children and youth of STIC contribute a new dimension to the internment narrative.

      Examining wartime internment in the Pacific theater through the lens of childhood opens a host of topics and provides new avenues for exploring such issues as child development, psycho- logical trauma, and community building. At the same time, it raises questions JHCY 5. Finally, it acknowledges children and youth as considerable historical actors.

      I am exceedingly grateful to Paula Fass for helping me to organize my thoughts and work through ideas as I crafted this article. Finally, I thank my husband, Walt Terry, for his affectionate support. The STIC population fluctuated regularly as internees were routinely transferred in and out of the camp. The official numbers for civilian internees in the Philippines are estimated at 7, 4, men, 2, women, and 1, children , and it is believed that most of these spent time in STIC at some point. The majority, approximately six thousand, were Americans, followed by fifteen hundred British or Commonwealth citizens, with the remainder from other countries: Frances B.

      Unlike the British in Hong Kong, who mandated the evacuation of all citizens not essential to defense, the American government and businesses in the Philippines failed to plan or call for the evacuation of American families. Though military dependents were evacuated in the summer of , the potential cost and upheaval associated with civilian evacuation prohibited action in this matter. Frederic H. Hartendorp, The Japanese Occupation of the Philippines, vol. I Manila, P. Hartendorp, Japanese Occupation, vol. I, Japanese violations of the Geneva Convention included the imposition of forced labor; harsh physical punishment; failing to provide minimal sustenance; and storing ammunition, firearms, and gasoline in close proximity to civilians.

      The Japanese maintained that they adhered to their own guidelines regarding civilian treatment. These guidelines stemmed from an increasingly intolerant attitude toward prisoners of their own nation. For detailed accounts on the administrative structure of the camp, see Hartendorp and Stevens. Bloom Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, , 72— John R.

      The general sense of pulling together is also a common theme among survivor memoirs. Sams, Forbidden Family, Michael P. Lucas, Prisoners of Santo Tomas, 8. The Brent School in Baguio became a registration and temporary detention center. However, many internees also referred to the school as an internment camp since they could not leave and treatment was reportedly harsh.

      The two younger children remained in the care of the convent until sometime in early Carole M. Petillo, The Ordeal, Archer, Internment of Western Civilians, John W. Yet, in many cases, any sense of relief was short-lived as Japanese elitist attitudes became apparent. Oronato, Forgotten Heroes, Ronald H. Peter R. Wygle, Surviving a Japanese P. Erickson diary, 2 January , box 1, in the Thurman C. Erickson papers, —, at Dwight D. Eisenhower Library, Abilene, Kansas. Three flight crews for the commercial air- line Pan American World Airways were stranded by the Japanese air attack.

      Lily Nova and Iven Lourie, eds. Van Sickle, Iron Gates, 53— Lucas, Prisoners of Santo Tomas, Nova and Lourie, Interrupted Lives, Nash, That We Might Live,



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