WAMPO SOUTH AND NORTH
In February 1943, two subsidiary camps were opened, three miles from the main camp, one North one South.
Map of Wamp South and North Camps - February 1943
Map Drawn by J T (Jim) Rea
click on above map to enlarge - it will take time to load as it is a big file
All good times ceased, the railway was being made too slowly, it must be speeded up, more men must go out to work, cookhouse and administrative staff were reduced, sick were sorted out, the least sick were made to go out to work. Work became much harder, at each camp, a rail track had to be made and cut by hand with chisel and hammer around cliff faces and bridges made. Men commenced work at seven am until their task was completed, completed until two am the next morning. Dinner was taken out to them, consisting of boiled rice and dried salted fish, a piece 6 inches long by 2 inches wide and thick and full of unchewable bones. Sometimes a pint of tea, not often, the only drink they got was what they took out with them in their water bottles, [if they had one]. A meal was provided when they returned to camp after work had ceased. Boots were becoming things of the past, P.O.W.s working barefooted or working with a piece of wood held by a piece of cloth around the toes on the feet. Clothing also became worn out or had been cut up for dressings; men had no shorts or shirts, but wore only a loincloth or shorts made from rice sacks. Sickness increased, but men still had to work.
In March, thousands of P.O.W's from camps further down the river, where the railway had been completed began to arrive, food became worse, these P.O.W's were made to supplement work on the rock-faces, sleeping in the open, no accommodation being available, beatings increased, men being beaten by bamboo, spade, iron bars or anything the Nips could lay their hands on, the 'Speedo' had commenced.
During the period up to the end of April, the weather was very hot but fine, but the weather broke, torrential rain fell making the work very difficult, especially on the rock face. The weather did not cause the work to be stopped, rain or no rain the railway must be built, sickness and deaths increased.
On May the 10th, the railway reached Wampo, better rations began to arrive, but not for the benefit of the workers, orders were issued for them to move to camps higher up the river, without a rest Battalions, less 150 very sick P.O.W's commenced marching to South Tonchan. On May the 17th, the 150 sick were moved by barge down river to Chungkia P.O.W. Base Hospital Camp. The rear party then moved by rail and road taking five days, during which time it rained increasingly, they slept in the open and marched, through mud and water a foot deep.
SOUTH WAMPO CAMP
The Work to be carried out at SOUTH WAMPO, required that a cutting was made into the cliff face. This cliff face had a number of huge overhangs, which had to be removed by blasting. In one place, a piece some 150 feet by 50 feet by about 25 feet had to be removed, it stood about 200 feet from the surface of the river. The cliff face we had to work on stretched for some thing like a half to three quarter of a mile. The Nip Railway Engineer here was a Lt Ibuka. The Commandant was Lt Hatori. Our Commander being Lt. Col Lilley of the Sherwood Forresters, a brilliant Camp Commander.
NORTH WAMPO CAMP
There was a very narrow ledge for us to work on, which stretched between the line of the railway and the river some 80 feet below, which was at the foot of a very steep incline. We were working North into the Rock face. A favourite of ours at this time was a Korean Guard known to us as “Blind Boil”. Not a very nice man in any way.
In May 1943, we were introduced to the ‘kind discipline of “The Tiger”, [Staff -Sergeant Furobashi], when we moved to Tonchan Camp and Tonchan South. Here our main tasks were the drilling of shot holes for the explosives, which was not an easy job, with many men injured by flying splinters from the ‘chisels’ we were using. The clearing up afterwards being done by hand, which again led to many cuts and abrasions. Whilst here a body of British and Australian POW’s were to join us for a short time, [these men were part of ‘F’ Force, passing further up the line to other Camps.] It was here that QM ‘Pop’ and three others were caught trying to pass some little food and water to a group of the new men. The end result was the same. ‘The Tiger’ who had a hatred for tall men, made them stand to attention whilst he paraded up and down, and beat them around their backs and legs, with a bamboo rod, which must have been at least two inches across, until it split and splintered beyond use, he then picked up a metal bar and continued to beat them around their backs and legs until he was too tired to continue. They was made to stand to attention without hats for the next three or so hours. When they were dismissed, they were taken to our MO. Captain Pavillard of the SSVV, for medical treatment. It was his care, which got these men and many others through this sort of beating.