Sketch by Jack Chalker

Notogawa

In due time, we arrived by train at Notogawa station.  From there we had quite a walk to the camp.  On arrival at the camp we found that there were 40 Americans, 40 Australians, 40 Dutch prisoners already there.  The British and the Americans were billeted in one hut and the Australians and Dutch were in the other hut.  Hygiene was pretty crude, a long deep trench with a wooden framework was the toilet.  A pipe with a few taps was our place of washing.  We soon found out the project we were to work at.  The camp was built on a small peninsula, in a clump of trees jutting into a lake.  The project was for the lake to be drained and turned into rice fields.  To do this, we would have to make a channel from the lake to another riverbed, which we were to create.  This meant we would be working in water all the time, not a nice prospect.  The weeks passed very slowly and the work was back breaking.  The lack of food was taking its toll, everybody was suffering from malnutrition, dysentery was rife and various other diseases were showing.  I surmised that, we could not last many more weeks in the conditions we were working in, our health was deteriorating rapidly.  Towards the end of July 1945, the project was completed, luckily without any casualties or deaths.  I remember the day when the draining of the lake commenced.  Our work day started to the sound of aeroplane engines.  On looking upwards we could see the trails of hundreds of planes converging, over the lake.  The planes then split into several groups and headed off in various directions.  Our guards were very jittery and started shouting at us and poking us with their rifles.  We answered by pointing up to the planes and telling them, Japan would soon be flattened.  Rumours started circulating from an unknown source, that all prisoners were to be killed in the event of an invasion on Japan.  We believed these rumours to be true and vowed that none of us would give up life cheaply.  We had suffered too much, what with degradation, slavery, starvation, disease and the threat that any day, could be our last.  I do not think that any civilised person could believe, just how sadistic, inhuman and utterly bestial the Japanese military were.  We started hiding anything, that could be used as a weapon.  One morning in late August 1945, we woke up to find that there were no guards in the camp, the Japs quarters were deserted.  We were unsure what was happening, so we just took it as a normal day.  Later on that day, as some of us were standing, talking, outside the camp gate, we noticed a figure coming up the road.  It looked like a soldier, but not a Jap soldier, but “who”.  As he approached us, he was heard to say, “is this Notogawa, prisoner of war camp”, we answered, yes it is, but who are you.  I am an Australian Officer, who has been given the task of evacuating you to “Kobe”.  The war is over.  We could not believe him at first.  He said we would not be moving out just yet, but arrangements had been made for food and clothing etc. to be air dropped to the camp.

 

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War is Ended

 

 

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[J. McHarg Miller] [Stationed] [Siege] [Internment] [Lisbon Maru] [To Japan] [Notogawa] [War is Ended]

 

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