Above photo courtesy of Pat Hilley, whose father John Hilley, RAF, was held at Fukuoka 3-B. Photo was taken from generating plant-large building at back, left in photo below. POWs were taken on open train cars to the factory complex each day. RR track can be seen on other side of camp in photo above.
Photo above taken mid September 1945 at time of rescue.
Photo below courtesy of Roger Mansell. The photo was taken by Norm Adamson, a B-29 pilot of the 500th Bomb Group while on a food drop mission. You can see the markings left center. (These photos are of the camp location after it was moved from the White House/Citadel location in March of 1943.) The camp consists of the long buildings to the right of the power plant with the smokestacks.
This camp was designated as Camp 3-B Yahata Seitetsu in September of 1942. Yahata, sometimes spelled Yawata, was the city, Seitetsu refers to iron works as Yahata was part of a huge industrial complex sometimes called the "Pittsburgh of Japan". This area was later the target for the first B-29 raid on Japan. Yawata is at the northernmost tip of Kyushu, just across the narrow strait from the port city of Shimoneski on the island of Honshu. On 23 September 1942 the camp was established at Yahata as the Yahata Provisional POW Camp and occupied by American civilian POWs sent in September from Woosung, China. On 5 November 1942 another group of POWs, most of them military, arrived from the POW camp at Woosung, China. The building which housed the POWs was called the White House by some of them, perhaps the Citadel by others. This group from Woosung included at least 25 North China Marines and 25 Wake Island Marines. Six civilians, also captured on Wake, 4 Navy, 3 Merchant Marine, 1 Army Air Force, and 1 Pan Air employee were also part of the group from Woosung. There were about 70 POWs in this group. The earlier group sent from Woosung in September 1942 apparently consisted of about 70 civilian POWs from Wake. They probably helped set up the camp to ready it for the larger groups of POWs to follow. Included in the November 42 group of POWs from Woosung was Navy Chief Barney D. Prine, who had enlisted in the Navy in 1907. Three other former first class petty officers included "Heiny" who owned a restaurant in Shanghai and Tony (Daniel?)Colilla, originally from Brooklyn. These men were from the gunboat Wake. (Dennis Connor oral history-U of Missouri at Columbia) On 1 January 1943 the camp was renamed Fukuoka POW Camp. On 1 March 1943 it was renamed Fukuoka 3-B. On 15 December 1943 the camp was moved to Kokura. On 13 September 1945 the camp was closed. (The dates of 15 and 17 September are also used by various sources.) All the "guests" checked out that day and went home. North China Marines Marion Guynn and Terence Kirk and Wake Marine Dennis Connor (with Wake Marines Armand Benjamin and Gene Lutz) had already left the camp and reached US forces. They left separately and in each case with other POWs, but they cannot remember who was with them.
The book "First Into Nagasaki" by George Weller (published 2006) has war correspondent George Weller encountering North China Marine Walter Allen after Allen had left Fukuoka 3-B accompanied by Albert Johnson of Geneva, Ohio, Hershel Langston of Van Buren, Kansas and Morris Kellog of Mule Shoe, Texas. These three are listed by Weller as being crew from the oil tanker Connecticut. The official list from Fukuoka 3-B has them being crew from the SS Stanvack.
Weller also tells of meeting Edward Matthews (from the destroyer Pope) of Everett , Washington, Charles Collings of Northeast, Maryland, Miles Mahnke of Plano, Illinois, Albert Rupp of Philadelphia and William Cunningham from the Bronx (both crew on the sub USS Grenadier), Vetalis Anderson of Denver, William Blucher of Albuquerque, and PhM Stanley Shipp of Hay Springs, Nebraska. All had left Fukuoka 3-B before US forces arrived. In some camps men who left early were threatened with a court martial. All of these names are not on the official list. There are some missing names from those lists, in some cases because the men had left the camps long before US forces arrived and the official lists were compiled. Sometimes the POWs left their camp and were at another camp when US forces arrived to evacuate them. Their names then appear on the roster for that second camp, not the one they were actually held at.
Be sure to read the diary kept by Norris Troney. Norris was one of the Navy men captured on Wake Island. He had enlisted at age seventeen and was only eighteen when he was captured. Norris died in 1961. The diary was sent to me by his son, Norris Troney. The diary follows the pictures below.
North China Marines sent to Fukuoka in November 1942
William Adams, Walter Allen, Allison Anderson, Wade Armstrong, Norman Berg,
Jasper Dawson, Henry Elvestad, Chandler Fouche, Martin Gray, Marion Guynn,
Harold Hoffman, William Howard, Joel Jones, William Killebrew, Terence Kirk,
Edward Kirkpatrick, Dennis Lady, George Lindsey, Max Nuese, Charles Pierce,
Steve Salay, Alvin Sawyer, Marino Simo, Robert Smith, James Wilson
Civilians Delos Brown, Raymond Bainter, Robert or Roland Peterson, ?Conley (Harold Connally, William Connolly ??), Eric Lehtola,C.D. Jones-Maritime Engineer, Carl W. Dilks-Army Air Force(captured on Wake), Frank Gushwa-Merchant Marine, ?Marion-Pan Air, Barnard Moody-Merchant Marine, Robert(?) Scott-Merchant Marine
This list is based on pictures sent to me by Martin Gatewood, a Wake Island Marine who was part of this group, the roster of Americans at the camp, the list of deaths, a phone conversation with Wade Armstrong on 7 Dec 2002, information from Wake Island Marine James O. King received on 19 Jan 2004, and information from Wes Injerd's list of all POWs on Kyushu.
The above names may or may not be complete for North China Marines at Fukuoka 3-B. Wade Armstrong was sure no other North China Marines came to the camp after the original group arrived about 5 November of 1942. Dennis Connor said the same. Wes Injerd has published on his site (see Links) the rosters of all Kyushu camps. No other North China Marine is on any of those rosters. In fact, some of those names known to have been at Fukuoka 3-B are not on those lists. This leads me to believe the above list is close to completely accurate. Just who was in the original group sent from Woosung in November of 1942 is slightly unclear. The pictures, camp roster, and list of deaths gives us the names listed above. Sgt William Killibrew died 10 Feb 44, cause of death listed as acute pneumonia. This is discussed in Kirk's book The Secret Camera. Max Neuse died on 13 Dec 44, cause of death listed as beri-beri and croup pneumonia. This is mentioned in Kirk's book and in the trial record of the camp commander. This record refers to brutalities by civilian employees and guards at the Yawata Steel Mills. On 5 November 1944 there was "alleged" mistreatment which contributed to the death of Max Neuse by beating with heavy tongs. The commander was found not guilty of this charge. A sworn affidavit by North China Marine Alvin Sawyer concerning this beating can be read on the Escapes and Deaths page.
Corporal Harold A. Hoffman discussed Fukuoka in an interview with his church school in Feb 1946:
"the doctor (Japanese) in the medical department felt you for fever with gloves on - when he thought you were faking sick you would get slugged in the jaw. When you were really sick your rations were cut and the guards would say "tomorrow, maybe next day, you die". Barracks full of bed bugs and fleas. We learned one can live on less food than you can probably imagine. A person can stand more than we ever think. We had no heat in our barracks. We warmed up by rubbing ourselves with towels.
If shoes were not lined up straight the worst beatings would follow. When the POWs broke into a building to get at Red Cross food and supplies the Japanese used water torture on some (tied on a ladder with your head down and water poured down your nose) and others were thrown in a water tank (in the winter). We learned a man can take an awful beating. We were told we would work for the Japanese for the rest of our lives and after the war we would help them teach the barbarians in the US how to live. Received my first letter in June 1944. It had been written in June 1942. Received five or six letters during the whole time as a prisoner.
When B-29s dropped food at the end we ate heartily. In a week people looked altogether different."
Below is a page from a log kept by Navy Dr Herbert Markowitz (captured on Guam). It appears through the courtesy of Mrs. Herbert Markowitz and the efforts of North China Marine Marion Guynn and Abe Shragge from the Univ of San Diego.
Click above to read the official report on this camp as compiled after the war by the Prisoner of War Information Bureau. These are commonly called the Gibbs reports. Check with the VA on benefits due to EX POWs because of camp proximity to Hiroshima and Nagasaki and because they were transported out through Nagasaki. Photo taken at the gate to Fukuoka 3-B below. The photo below is of a group of Marines, and apparently some civilians, which was hiding weapons in the last months of the war. They had heard they were all going to be killed when the Americans landed in Japan. The weapons were to defend the POWs. When the Japanese surrendered this group took charge of security for the camp. The clean uniforms came from B-29 air drops and uniforms they had found in a storage room where the Japanese had put them when they took them away from the prisoners when they arrived in November 1942. You can see some of them wearing their uniform on arrival in the photos following this one. Some of them look healthy. The photo was taken just before they left in mid September. By that time they had been eating all they could eat from the B-29 food drops for three to four weeks. Documented cases show they gained as much as 1 to 2 pounds a day. It was not healthy weight but it made them look that way. This information came from conversations with Joel Jones and James King. Joel said he does not like this picture. He said they were asked to smile and they could not - it had been too long.
Identifications are given below the photo.
1. Harold "Doc" Hoffman 2. Marino Simo 3. William Adams 4. Allison "Foots" Anderson 5. James King 6. unk 7. Charles Pierce 8. James Fitzpatrick 9. E E Davis 10. unk 11. unk 12. Thomas Andrews 13. Lewis Richey 14. Edward "Moose" Kirkpatrick 15. Joel Jones 16. Norman "Speed" Laursen 17. Tony LePore 18. Edward Rook 19. Robert "Rocky" Deeds 20. Del Brown 21. James "Duckbutt" Wilson 22. William Howard 23. Alvin Sawyer 24. Henry Elvestad 25. Navy Dr. Herbert A.Markowitz (captured on Guam)
It appears one of the unknowns is PFC Philip W Johnson but I do not know which one.
Below are the pictures taken by the Japanese as these men arrived at Fukuoka 3-B on 5 November 1942. This is not the entire group that arrived from Woosung (Shanghai) that day, but all that I have. Identification was made by North China Marines Joel Jones, Howard Chittenden, Chester Biggs, Terence Kirk, and Fran Plog and by Wake Island Marines James King, Dennis Connor, and Frank Gross.
These same pictures (minus the names) are apparently part of a Wake Island display at the Navy Museum in Pensacola, Florida. The accompanying information assumes all are Wake Island Marines and their camp was on the island of Honshu. Both assumptions are incorrect.
Thompson is USN from a submarine, apparently on Wake for an appendectomy. James King says John Himelrick (from Seattle) was taken to see the Japanese doctor and two days later he was reported deceased. King still questions this death. Records of the Judge Advocate General list Himelrick with date of death on 26 Apr 44 from acute pneumonia. Dennis Connor states in his oral history (with the Western Historical Manuscript Collection, Univ of Columbia, Columbia Missouri) that he took John R (Red) Himelrick his rice the night before he died and could tell he would not last. Eighty eight of the 177 deaths listed at Fukuoka are listed as being from pneumonia. It was easy for a prisoner to catch diseases when they were starving to death. The Japanese would not allow starvation to be written on a death certificate.
Click above to read a diary kept by a POW at Fukuoka 3-B. It is brief, but puts you there, as you read words written just hours after the events.
View the following photos:
An excellent series of photos of the camp and POWs taken in the middle of Sep 1945 just before the camp was finally closed. Do not miss these photos.
View the Japanese transport which carried the POWs from Shanghai to Japan in 1942.
View the English aircraft carrier which carried the POWs of Fukuoka 3-B from Nagasaki to Okinawa in September 1945 and the American troop transport which carried many former residents of Fukuoka 3-B from Guam to San Francisco. They had been transported from Okinawa to Guam on a hospital ship.
Click on above to see document submitted by North China Marine Steve Salay for the trial of the commander at Fukuoka. Information from others, including North China Marine Wade Armstrong, can also be read here. Information on the death of North China Marine Max Neuse can be seen on the Escapes and Deaths page.
Both this document and the trial documents below are must reads to understand conditions at this camp. Be sure to also read the diary of Norris Troney.
Click on above to see transcripts of trial of Yaichi Rikitake, camp commander of Fukuoka 3-B from 6 Mar 44 to 15 Aug 45.
This link is frequently not working so copy and paste the following:
Transcript of an interview with an Army POW, Carl Kramp, captured in the Philippines and sent to Fukuoka 3-B. Probably the best description of life in Fukuoka 3-B. The camp is referred to as Uwada. This is a misinterpretation of Yawata. Details such as the Navy doctor, English and Dutch prisoners, amputation caused by US bombing at the end, and transfer from Nagasaki on an English aircraft carrier all identify this as Fukuoka 3-B.
Above photo of B-29 raid on Yawata used with permission of 444th BG organization.