Pacific War Trials – part three

Kempeitai

The British prosecuted Japanese along the Malay Peninsula, in Borneo, New Britain, Rangoon and Singapore. In Malay, 35 Kempeitai (secret police) were tried and 29 went to the gallows. The most publicized trial involved those at the “River Kwai” for causing almost 600 deaths of the 2,000 POWs that built the Burma Siam railroad.

Shiro Ishii

Australia listed 35 separate charges, including cannibalism and mutilation of a dead body. The most famous was Shiro Ishii of Unit 731 for subjecting prisoners to horrendous experiments. These crimes against humanity were normally held in cooperation with British and American officials. One trial held on New Guinea was for a Japanese officer who ate part of an Australian POW. The defense claimed starvation as a reason for his mental demise – he was hanged.

The largest trial of 503 Japanese was held by Australia for cruelty to prisoners on Amoina and 92 were convicted. In Rabaul, New Britain, 1,000 American and British POWs were forced to march 165 miles and only 183 made it the entire route. The Japanese commander executed the survivors. The officer had survived the war – but not the court.

Michiaki Kamada

The Netherlands tried an ugly case for Vice Admiral Michiaki Kamada who ordered 1,500 natives of Borneo murdered. Four others were executed for their participation in the awful treatment of 2,000 Dutch prisoners on Flores Island. Another case involved the treatment of 5,000 Indonesian laborers, 500 Allied POWs and 1,000 civilians.

China tried 800 defendants, whereby 500 were convicted and 149 sentenced to death.

The French held the least number of trials and dealt with them as ordinary crimes. Five Japanese were given the death penalty for the murder of American airmen in Indochina. The French were still holding their trials as late as November 1951.

As mentioned previously, the Russian “trials” were held as propaganda against the West. The charges would be dismissed, due to “arrested development.” ( suggesting that the Japanese were hindered in their development since they were not subject to Soviet culture and education.) The Soviets publicly made it clear that they were “on to” Japan and her American friend’s plot against them.

Abe Koso under guard.

The U.S. Navy tried the Japanese accused of crimes on the Pacific islands. Three were held on Kwajalein, in the Marshall Islands and 44 were put on trial on Guam. These were closely held in conjunction with British, Australian and Indonesian officials. Abe Koso, became the naval commander at Kwajalein and ordered the beheading of nine Marine Raiders that were left behind after the Makin Raid. Koso defended his acts by claiming the Marines were U.S. spies. The tribunal rejected his claim and 19 June 1947, he was hanged.

To be continued…

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor –

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Farewell Salutes – 

La Fayette A. Bronston – Springfield, OH; USMC, VIetnam, SSgt., 3 Purple Hearts, Bronze Star, Silver Star

Max W. Daniels (103) – Lake Como, PA; USMC, WWII, cook

WHAT IS A VETERAN?

Joe, Francis & Harry Doyle – Arthur, CAN; Canadian Armed Forces, WWII, KIA (in Memorandum by the Doyle Family)

James Fleming – Hawkes Bay, NZ; NZEF, WWII # 103747, NZ Engineers

Leo Hines – Albany, NY; US Army, Vietnam, 506/11/101st Airborne Division

Wally McLaughlin – Minneapolis, MN; US Army, Korea, 187 RCT/11th Airborne Division

William Schroeder – Boise, ID; USMC, Korea, B Co./1/7th Marines

Michaela Ticha – CZE; MFO Sgt. (Multinational Force & Observers), KIA (So. Sinai)

Gregory Troutman – Salisbury, NC; US Army, Korea & Vietnam, 187th RCT / Pentagon, Col. (Ret. 30 y.)

John ‘Val’ Wachtel IV – Topeka, KS; US Army, Vietnam, Green Beret

About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on November 13, 2020, in Post WWII, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 99 Comments.

  1. There was a BBC (I think) radio feature last year on British veterans. Apparently, POW survivors from Japanese camps in WW2 suffered more ailments in their old age and died earlier than their counterparts who were sent to other parts of the globe. The speculation, of course, is the kind of cruelty they suffered during the time….

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The numbers of those tortured or killed are mind boggling. So important that they don’t just become ‘numbers’ but precious lives taken away by cruelty.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Definitely a horrid time in the world’s history. As much as I study about the Pacific war, it’s affect on those who endured and survived- Axis or Allies – still stun me and sadly lasted for their lifetimes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Especially being as your family fought on both sides, you can see and understand the effects it incurred. So sad that people do these things to each other.
      The interpreter post will be Thursday and I’ll be linking to your site – just so you know. 😁

      Liked by 1 person

  4. My goodness! The war in the Pacific was brutal, more so than the war in Europe. The trials were at many locations and from other countries, which I did not realize. I listened to a WWII veteran who was in the thick of the battle of Normandy interview today, and he said “Everybody made a big deal about Normandy. There were so many movies. But it was only eighteen hours.” He must have understood his ‘brothers’ in the Pacific.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. That is a great definition of a “veteran”, GP.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. These trials are so little known. I never started studying them until I visited the Palace of Justice at Nuremberg and its museum of subsequent War Crimes trials.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Man’s inhumanity to man still goes on. When will it cease?

    Liked by 2 people

  8. GP I am a student of Iaido -a form of Japanese swordsmanship. One kata some schools teach is called Kai Shaku – an assisted suicide. In essence it’s the swordsman part of seppuku ( Hari Kari literally means belly slitting and is different). After the person committing suicide makes a cut into the abdomen the second draws his sword and cuts off the head. A few years ago I found a description of what happened on a IJN stub at surrender. Evidently many of the officers felt that they could not surrender, and chose to commit Seppuku. One officer with some swordsmanship experience was chosen to be the second. In about one hour he removed the heads of ( if I remember correctly ) 19 of his shipmates. Many years after as an old man he described it as much harder to do than his teachers had suggested. Most schools that still teach that kata are forbidden to show it in public ( but video demonstrations a plenty do exist.) As Mishima’s seppuku in the 70’s demonstrated its very easy to cut to high or low inflicting horrendous pain without killing. Being that the IJN encouraged Kendo and not actual combative sword arts I assume that few of the sword welders knew what they were doing making their crime even worse.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Many of the officers would assign a man to cut off his head when committing seppuku in lieu of becoming a prisoner. I believe many historians simply state Hari Kari or suicide in their books to avoid describing what seppuku actually is.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. It’s chilling. It’s also important that we know the history if we are to have any hope of not repeating it. Thanks for these posts, GP. Hugs on the wing.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. A friend who was a Marine who fought in the Pacific campaigns bitterly told me how difficult – and long – it took to recover the remains of the American soldiers who were beheaded. Disgrace upon disgrace. There seems no end at times.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. It is important to remember the atrocities, and the punishments, even now. Some of those who suffered are still alive, and I like to think they got some closure when their tormentors were justifiably executed.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. This no doubt is a silly question, but… You mentioned Kwai, and the building of the railroad. Was that the basis of the film about the bridge over the River Kwai? I remember seeing the film decades ago, but don’t remember a thing about it except the music. It’s astonishing to read about the number of deaths, and the cruelty. Despots invariably are cruel, although authoritarianism of every sort is ugly — even when it comes dressed in “this will be good for you” clothing.

    Liked by 2 people

    • The movie about the bridge over the river Kwai was supposedly based on the actual building, but if you do see the movie again, watch it purely for entertainment. The infamous bridge that crosses over the river Khwae Yai at the town of Kanchanaburi, cost an average of 425 deaths per mile to complete and did NOT significantly improve the enemy’s logistics. The bridge was later destroyed in 1944 by Aerial bombings, rather than Hollywood’s memorable epic film version, “Bridge Over the River Kwai”, which was only loosely based on the facts.

      Like

    • PS. The only silly or stupid question is the one NOT asked.

      Like

  13. What horrendous war crimes! Glad they were punished but perhaps they had heard that “everything is fair in love and war.” Hopefully, we will never see this kind of war again. There will be wars for sure, but hopefully none that destroy lives in such mad ways.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Harrowing reading, GP. I know more about the European theatre, but had the impression that it was felt politically expedient – mainly due to the perceived risk from the Soviets – to treat the Japanese more leniently than the Nazis. My uncle was a guest of the Japanese and, somehow, returned home. I don’t believe he ever forgave them for the way they treated people. As you say, lessons must be learned – and we should never, ever, forget.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Please keep up your good work. I seriously doubt that our schools are giving much attention to the important details of WWII. Your banner of truth must be carried forward.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. This is really shocking. It’s the first time I’d heard of cannibalism as a war crime.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. It doesn’t get much more horrific, G. –Curt

    Liked by 3 people

  18. Wereldoorlog II en alle oorlogen wat een gruwel. Verschikkelijk!

    Liked by 2 people

  19. Cannibalism?! That goes over and above even the most horrendous war crimes, I think. Barring the gas chambers, of course.
    “Arrested development” sounds just like the Russians.

    Liked by 3 people

  20. Such heartbreaking and tragic details. As hard as they are to read very important to ensure the gravity of what happened.

    Liked by 3 people

  21. Oh…so much pain and suffering. man”kind” smh.

    Liked by 4 people

  22. Thanks again, GP. I can only imagine those convicted had some misguided Meiji Bushido belief that regarded surrender as cowardly and therefore subject to mistreatment. Even so, for the most part, justice was served. Good job.

    Liked by 3 people

  23. The number of atrocities is staggering. Given the level of brutality by the Japanese in China, it is surprising there weren’t more trials and convictions there. These war crimes seem to be such a contradiction to my experiences in modern Japan.

    Liked by 2 people

  24. Didn’t know so many countries had war crimes tribunals. I am heartened to read this.

    Liked by 2 people

  25. Cruelty and savage treatment of POW as well as civilians have no place in society. Glad justice was done.

    Liked by 3 people

  26. This is a powerful post, GP. I’ve read about some of the horrendous things POWs experienced but now I know of the justice that was imposed. War is hell. I’ve just finished writing a military thriller that takes place largely in the Middle East. It required enormous research and by the end of it, I was devastated. God bless our men and women who wear or have worn the uniform.

    Liked by 3 people

  27. Great research and detail, thanks.
    (you might want to edit the end sentence and beginning of new one ‘horrendous experiments. These were normally tried in cooperation with British and American officials.’ At first reading tried can imply trying the experiments! instead running trials!)

    Liked by 3 people

  28. I have real difficulty over forgiveness for this

    Liked by 3 people

  29. Having read several stories about Japanese brutality to prisoners and civilians alike. And the lies that they told to their own civilians in Okinawa resulting in mass suicides of women and children it is not surprising to see these trials. They had a terrible war ethic.

    Liked by 3 people

  30. So much cruelty, it must have been hard to be the judges or juror and stay committed to justice not revenge.

    Liked by 3 people

  31. Can you imagine what the Wilson family went through during those months? They’d been told that Dale Wilson was a POW of the Japanese, but only because his name and information had been announced over Tokyo Radio as a POW. That gave them hope, but did they decide it would have been better if he’d succumbed with the bomber and crew instead?

    Liked by 3 people

  32. There are mentioned a lot of very bad and sad things. But at least part of any war, even nobody officially outside a court would tell about. Thank you for this information, GP! Have a beautiful weekend! Michael

    Liked by 4 people

  33. Looking forward to the next installment.

    Liked by 3 people

  34. Considering the time and place, it is surprising so many were not convicted and executed, that vengeance and hate did not prevail more often.

    Liked by 4 people

  35. The cartoon about the submarine is lovely but “What is a veteran?” is very moving.
    Shiro Ischii, incidentally has his own Wikipedia page. It isn’t a cheery read!
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shir%C5%8D_Ishii

    Liked by 3 people

  36. The numbers tried, found guilty and sentenced to death suggest that the courts were interested in justice. I may be reading humanity into the figures, but it seems like it wasn’t revenge. In any case, thanks for doing the research behind these posts.

    Liked by 6 people

  1. Pingback: Pacific War Trials – part three | My Blog

  2. Pingback: Pacific War Trials – part three | The Inglorius Padre Steve's World

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