Names of which North China Marines were in each of these camps is attached to the report for each camp in Japan. Camp of rescue is also included on Unit Roster. The lists are as complete as I can make them at this time. Any information placing individuals in a particular camp is always welcome. Go to the Contact US page.
Below are the reports available on the camps in which various members of the North China Marines were held from December of 1941 to September of 1945. (At least the camps I know NCM were at and if reports are available for that camp.) See the Chronological Unit History and Unit Roster/Camp Sequence pages for information on who went where and when. Information available at this date on camp of rescue is listed on the roster. Any information you have on what camp any North China Marine was rescued from would be appreciated. Please contact me.
These reports were compiled from debriefings of POWs after the war.The pages were scanned and do have a few minor errors.
Click on the camp you wish to read about or continue down to start with Woosung. Rosters are made available mostly through the work of Roger Mansell and Wes Injerd.
SENDAI # 7 held Eugene Litz, James Somers, Frank Stockton, and Walter Freiberger at the end of the war. They were transferred there from the Tsumori and Kawasaki camps.
This photo shows either the Peking Marines being marched to the train station on 10 Jan 1942 or it shows the entire unit of 204 being marched through Nanking on their way to Woosung on 31 Jan 1942. If this is Nanking they were marching from the train to a barge to cross the Yangtze River before loading on a different train to continue to Shanghai and Woosung.
WOOSUNGCamp near Shanghai where all North China Marines were sent in Feb 42.Some left for Fukuoka 3-B in Japan in Nov 42. Everyone else moved to nearby Kiangwan in Dec 42.
The three photos below were taken at Woosung. More photos and sketches after the report below.
At Woosung, from left: Col. Ashurst, Commander Thyson, Maj. Brown , Maj. Devereux, Capt. White, MerMar Captain MacKinnon, Dr. Kahn, Captain Peters of the SS Malama, civilian engineer Raymond Rutledge, Sgt Major Jack Davis in fur hat (?). All three of these photos first appeared in Japanese magazine Freedom, then in Sep 14, 1942 issue of LIFE.
Top left Sergeant Major Jack Davis from Tientsin, top right Colonel William Ashurst, commander of the entire detachment with his headquarters in Peking, bottom left US Navy Commander Leo Thyson (Medical Corps) from Peking, bottom right is Merchant Marine Captain Malcolm Peters of the SS Malama.
Top row: Bernard F. Kelly, William H. Boyden, Francis L. Plog, Robert L. Armstrong (?), Norman R. Estep, John D. Pitner, Steve A. Salay or James Wilson, Harold I. Retzke, Frank J. Novak, Raymond E. Smith.Middle: Jimmie L. Stewart, Edgar A. Croteau, Harold (Doc) Hoffman, Charles W. Parr (?), Norman Berg or Martin Gatewood, Kenneth W. Davis, Fernando C. Rodriquez or Antonio Leon, Gerald A. Newhouse, Michael J. Schick, Edward (Moose) Kirkpatrick.Front: Jack Davis, ______, John H. Ellison, Herman Davis, Walter E. Freiberger, Danny Walmer, Morris F. Haugo, Frank (Dutch) Miller, John (Tex) Castleton, Roy A. Dobson, Herman Wolf. Dog is Ergo.The Fall of Shanghai by Noel Barber describes Woosung as such: "In winter sleet and snow whistled round every corner, and then fogs, drifting in from the sea, chilled you to the bone ... Yet if the winter was long and cruel, the summer was even worse; for then came the heat..."Wake Island civilian John O. YOung said about Woosung "Not enough food, sickness, beatings were all part of prison life. If one would see a cute puppy or kitten we would not think of how cute they were, but could we catch them to eat."
Official Woosung report follows the description below
(note the details in this first hand description not mentioned in the official report)
The following information on Woosung comes from the papers of William Harold Thomas, given to me by his wife Montie Thomas. The papers were written in 1946 as part of a document needed for his re-enlistment. This camp near Woosung, China, was originally old Chinese army barracks. When I arrived it was approximately ten acres of ground surrounded by an electrically charged fence. Inside the fence on one side were seven barracks each with a wash rack and toilet just a few feet outside the rear door. These buildings were side by side about thirty feet apart. Later another electrically charged fence was erected inside the one surrounding the camp and immediately outside the front and rear of each building and the two end ones.These buildings were frame, about seventy feet long and twenty five feet wide. Thery were divided into two or three sections, the divisions being made by an open hallway from one side of the building to the other. These buildings were far from being weather proof i.e. no insulation, poor roofs, floors missing in places, and many window panes missing.Inside each building a hallway or aisle ran lengthwise through the center of the building approximately five feet wide. On each side of this hall were separate rooms about twenty feet square. The center of each room was bare. On each side of these small rooms from the center hallway to the outer wall was a bay to sleep on. In other words in each approximately twenty square feet there were two sleeping bays, six by twenty. Each man had a space twenty six inches by six feet for his alloted space to eat, sleep, etc on. These bays were built about one foot above the floor. In most cases the flooring under these bays was omitted. For about the first month I slept on one of these bays (the word platform would be a better description) with nine other men without anything under me except a couple of thin blankets. Later I was given a cover, similar to our army mattress covers, filled with damp straw. There were two hundred to three hundred men to each building, from eighteen to twenty men in each small room. There wasn't heat of any kind in the buildings that winter.Mess arrangements. For this camp of approximately one thousand five hundred men there was one kitchen. This kitchen consisted of two rows of iron pots (about eleven) with a fire box under each pot. The kitchen contained running water but very few facilities to prepare the food such as containers for washing and benches or tables. The only way to dispose of any garbage was to dump it outside the kitchen. To distribute the food, buckets of about two and one half gallons each were furnished. The food was put in these buckets and carried to the barracks and rationed to each man who had three bowls in a cloth bag and hung on the wall by a nail when not in use. We ate in the same small space used for a bed. Buckets and bowls were washed in cold polluted well water piped to wash racks.Food. My food consisted of rice and soup twice a day and a small loaf of bread with soup one meal a day. The soup was prepared with a pork or fish base, lots of water and few vegetables. The pork and fish were only a few pounds per one thousand five hundred men. Once every two or three weeks I would receive a couple spoon fulls of sugar.Sanitation. At first this camp didn't have any drainage or sewer system. The toilets were immediately behind the wash rack. Each was divided into stalls with a rectangular hole in each. No toilet seats, we had to squat. I have gone several months without toilet paper. There were very few screens on these toilets therefore the flies were terrible. It was impossible to keep them away from our food. Rats abounded by the hundreds. The water was pumped from shallow wells and piped from the wells to the wash racks. The water was unquestionably polluted. We had to boil what water we drank.The bath arrangements consisted of four large wooden vats with a fire box under each. The bottom of each vat was of metal. Each vat was about four feet by eight feet and three feet deep. Most of the time there was only enough fire to heat one or two vats for fifteen hundred men. The baths were constructed as described above for a bath Jap fashion, i.e. all men get into the tub and use the same water but we rationed the water to two small buckets per man as long as it lasted. In warm weather we took cold baths. Soap was very scarce.Later the prisoners dug drainages for sewerage and we managed to talk the Japs out of some lime for the toilets, but it was inadequate. The human waste was dipped out from under the toilet and carried away in buckets by Chinese coolies.We were furnished no soap, buckets, mops etc. to clean our barracks. Very little soap to wash clothes with.Work assignments. The first winter, spring, and summer my work was in helping around camp such as in the kitchen, bathhouse etc. The fall of 1942 I worked digging canals out of camp along the Whangpoo River. The winter of 1942-43 I worked on a monument in honor of the dead Jap soldiers.Punishment. Punishment for infractions of camp rules were severe beatings, doing without food, standing at attention in any kind of weather for several hours, and being turned over to the gendarmerie for trial and punishment in gendarmerie torture houses.Medical treatment. In my first camp all prisoners were given medical exams. We discovered later these examinations were to ascertain who were the best men to send to Japan to work in factories, mines, coal yards etc. and to compare the American condition to the Japs. Medical treatment was practically nil.
In August 1943 Thomas was sent with a group to Kawasaki, Japan.
WOOSUNG. Page 1 of 2
PRISONER OF WAR CAMPS IN AREAS OTHER THAN THE FOUR PRINCIPAL ISLANDS OF JAPAN LIAISON &
By Capt. James I- Norwood and Capt. Emily L. Shek 31 July 1946
1. LOCATION: Woosung Camp is located 15 miles North of Shanghai and 5 miles Northeast of Woosung Forts. It is next to a radio station and was formerly used as a Japanese army barracks.
2. PRISONER PERSONNEL: The first group of prisoners to arrive in Woosung were the survivors of the USS Wake"
3. GUARD PERSONNEL: The first Japanese commanding officer was 1st Lt. Takamato- He was replaced about a week later by Col- Yuse and upon his death in Sept, 1942, Col, Otera became the commanding officer of all Shanghai camps.
4. GENERAL CONDITIONS: Conditions here were poor; health and sanitary facilities were inadequate, and from the first day written protests were filed by senior officers.
(a) Housing Facilities: The camp was made up of 7 old wooden barracks, one of the seven being a small barrack, the rest of them being approximately 210 feet long and 50 feet wide. These barracks were divided into sections holding about 36 men to a section. The men slept on raised platforms on bare boards. All the floors were of wood. The roofs were constructed of a metal covering camouflaged with paint. The windows were glass, and broken panes were never replaced. The officers were separated from the enlisted men at one end of the barracks. They had separate rooms with two to four in a room, depending on their rank- Each barracks housed about 230 men. The entire camp was surrounded by two electrically charged fences. [The March 1943 Red Cross report on a visit to the camp states Col Ashurts again requested screening for the barracks so as to prevent the malaria problems of the summer of 1942. The Red Cross promised to study the problem.]
(b) Latrines: The latrines were located behind the barracks about ten feet away. They were the usual type of Japanese latrines. The excreta was removed by coolies.
(c) Bathing: There were two bathrooms, one for officers and one for enlisted men. In each of these there was a large tub which contained hot water. The tub was approximately 5' high, 7' long and 4' wide. However, the prisoners were not allowed to get into the tubs. They were required to dip the water out of the tub and bathe from a bucket or other small container.
(d) Mess_Hall: A separate building housed the mess hall where the food was prepared by the prisoners. Cooking arrangements consisted of a number of large cauldrons set in brickwork. It had a concrete floor and was relatively clean. Section leaders detailed men to draw food from the mess hall and it was taken to the barracks where the food was served.
(e) Food: Rations for the first two months were very meager. A small bowl of rice, a bowl of stew, and tea composed the diet. In April 1942 the rations were increased to about 650 grams of rice per man per day. plus a quarter pound of meat per man per day. Later the issue of meat was discontinued. Fish (squid) was given to the prisoners on a few occasions. [Red Cross reports make reference to 600 pounds of bacon or ham delivered fortnightly. Major Brown is quoted in a report as saying when the meat is delivered it was all cooked and served at that time so as to give the men one decent meal rather than try to make the meat last over a period of time. The 600 pounds would equate to 4 tenths of a pound per man for one meal. Those Red Cross reports state deliveries of that meat and fruits would not be available in any quantities after April 1942.]
In Aug. 1942 the prisoners of war gardens began to produce, but the Japanese took most of the vegetables. The only potable liquid was tea served in cups five times a day. No arrangements were made for drinking water. The whole supply of water came from a surface well about 30 feet deep. All prisoners were warned not to drink the water. [Red Cross reports say suggestions as to how to solve the water problem were not acted on.]
(0 Medical Facilities: Both medicine and accommodations were insufficient and inadequate. The administering of the sick was left to the three American doctors and the corps men. Capt. Thyson was the senior American doctor. He brought with him a supply of drugs and they lasted until July 1942.
(g) Supplies: In the beginning the Red Cross was not allowed to visit or send supplies, but when Col. Otera took over, clothing, medical and food supplies were delivered by the Red Cross- The American Association, through donations was able to equip the camp with a laboratory, x-ray room, infirmary and a dental room. The Japanese issued a few pairs of shoes, also some clothing to the men from Wake Island. Each man received four cotton blankets which was insufficient for the cold winter. The men from Tientsin managed to bring their blankets and clothing with them while the Wake Island
(h) Mail: Letters were allowed to be written but had to follow a Japanese outlined form. The first mail to arrive in camp was Sept. 1942. Up to this time they had been receiving only local mail. [Examples of these letters can be seen on the page POW Letters and Documents.]
(i) Work: In the early part of April the enlisted men, and civilians, worked at leveling a field, which was to be used as a Japanese parade ground. The men also did farm work and repairing the roads. Later the enlisted men were ordered to polish empty shell cases. Col. Ashurst protested to the Japanese authorities and after much haranguing this was stopped.
(j) Treatment: The guards did not treat the men too well. Face slapping was a common occurrence- Mass punishment occurred on several occasions. The offenses of a few prisoners, as an object lesson to all. brought such infliction as standing in the rain for many hours, the slopping of food for days, or close confinement. These punishments were inflicted upon groups of men regardless of whether or not they had anything to do with the particular breach of rule. All prisoners
(k) Pay: The officers received pay in accordance to the amount paid the Japanese officers of the same rank:
2"" Lt....................... 70,83 yen 1st Lt.................. 85.00 yen Capt................... 122,50 yen
Major ...................... 170,00 yen Lt. Col. .............. 230-00 yen Col................... '312.50 yen
Sixty yen was deducted for room and board:
Food .................................4200 yen
Clothing ............................... 1500
Furniture and Electricity........ 3,00
The enlisted men were divided into two classes, namely, a specialist and an ordinary class. The specialist received 15 sen a day, and an ordinary worker received 5 sen a day.[These payments were meaningless. In many cases the POWs never received them. In most cases the amounts were entered into record books and then subtracted for food or clothing supplied by the Japanese.]
(I) Recreation: The recreation facilities, as a whole, were considered satisfactory. The prisoners had soft ball teams and there was a soft ball diamond. They also had a small orchestra and a glee club. and frequently put on entertainingshows. After working hours they were allowed to play cards.
(m) Religious Activities: Once a month a Japanese minister came into camp to perform services.
(n) Morale: At this time most of the prisoners were optimistic and thought they soon would be exchanged.
5. MOVEMENT: On 18 Sept. 1942, a group of men, about 70. consisting of laborers, technicians, specialists, etc . were
Colonel Otera's report in August 1945 lists the following transfers from Woosung:
13 Sep 1942 - Sir Mark Young and 1 British (to Taiwan)
18 Sep 1942 - 69 US civilians and 1 US Marine (to Fukuoka 3-B)
3 Nov 1942 - 12 civilians and 58 US Marines (to Fukuoka 3-B)
The Red Cross report of a visit in Sep 1942 lists camp numbers as 47 British and 1500 Americans. The 24 March 1943 report lists American officers 34, warrant officers 4, non-commissioned officers 228, privates 330, Merchant Marine 63, Civilians 694, British officers 4, warrant officers 1, non-commissioned officers 19, privates 23, Merchant Marine 33, Other nations 25. The total for Americans is 182 less than the 1500 figure used in Sep 1942, probably due to the shipments of POWs to Japan in the fall of 1942.The 24 March 1943 Red Cross report also lists by name members of an aircrew the Red Cross representative wanted to check the status of. The crew was at Kiangwan and had been since 6 Dec 1942. The men were pilot Howard Allers 397410, navigator Murray Lewis 789254, sgt engineer Saul Webb 6922646, sgt engineer James Young 19015840. Allers had been shot in the left foot. USMC Sgt W Gorden and Pvt B H Manning were also asked about but the report is not clear if they were to have been in the camp or were deceased. A request was made for their Army numbers for identification purposes. Col Ashurst told the Red Cross representatives members of the Marine Corps have no Army numbers. In January of 1944 beatings and torture were used in interrogations of POWs involved in buying and trading with Chinese civilians. Lt Foley, Supply Sgt Schick, Supply Sgt Stowers were given the water cure. (As were SSgt Minnick, PltSgt J. Stone, civilian Ambrose Lurn, and civilian Garbor.) Ensign JJ David, civilian Freyburger, and Sgt Minnick were also tortured.
The Beast of the East Isami Ishihara, a civilian, was the chief interpreter at Woosung and then Kiangwan. To quote from Chester M. Biggs, Jr. in his book Behind the Barbed Wire, "Not a man in camp would escape a beating by the Beast, and we all came to hate him with a passion." Howard Chittenden, in his book From China Marine to Jap POW, refers to Ishihara as "a real son-of-bitch".He was sentenced to life at hard labor by the War Crimes Tribunal in 1946. He died of cancer in 1956 while still a prisoner.
Each barracks at Woosung and Kiangwan had a passage way running down the center. The POWs were divided into sections of 36 men. Each section had half of its men sleeping on one side of the passage way, the others on the opposite side. A wall about 4 feet high separated the sleeping areas from the passage way. Each half section had nine men sleeping on platforms raised slightly off the ground, facing the other nine men across from them. Each POW had a number for himself, then for his section, then for his barracks. They were to wear these numbered badges at all times. You can see this in the sketch above on the left.
Ishihara at his trial. In the book Behind the Barbed Wire Chester Biggs writes about the Beast "swooping down on a barracks at one or two in the morning, hauling a man or two out of their bunks, and taking them to the guard house for interrogation." Interrogation included the Water Cure and the Finger Wire. The Water Cure consisted of a POW being strapped to a board or a ladder with his head lower than his body. Water was forced into him until he vomited and the process was then repeated. At times when his stomach was bloated he was beaten across the stomach. This ended when the POW answered the questions of the day.The Finger Wire was slowly bending a finger back using a wire contraption until the finger broke or became disjointed.
The Beast constantly harangued the POWs about surrendering and how they were men without honor. He insisted he would have commited harakiri had he been in their place. You will notice below the fingerprint card for Ishihara is missing one print. After capture he cut off the tip of that finger. He claimed that was honor enough, as he was a civilian and not a soldier.
Above is a diagram of the POW camp at Woosung. The diagram was done by Gordon Wattles.The sketch below by Joseph Astarita, captured on Wake Island, shows how the prisoners kept warm when they first arrived in Woosung. After a few months they were assigned to various work projects every day. Following that is a sketch showing the POWs on their sleeping benches. The shelf above was their only storage area. Note the rats. In his book The Secret Camera, Terence Kirk talks about not being able to store food to take with him on a planned escape because the rats always got at it.
I have had more than one POW tell me they could remember clearly the man who slept on each side of him because they would huddle together to share body heat. Remembering other POWs in the same barracks was not always so easy.
The two narratives from Wake Island Marines above also discuss life at Woosung. Choose POW, then Marine Corps, then Marvin and Sanders.
Colonel Otera's papers list the following as being repatriated from Woosung:
29 May 1942 - Aaron Billingsley, Thomas Marshall, Albert Morgan, George Welchman, Walter Melly, Graham Summers, and Edward Godwin of the British Embassy in Peking
9 June 1942 - Laurence Hall (Radioman USN), Paul Chandler, Henry Kijak, Loren Schneider, Nathan Smith (all USMC from the 4th Marines)
7 August 1942 - Charles Sheppard (British Embassy Shanghai), John Kennedy, David Kermode, Norman Hart-Baker, Rodney Horne, Ralph Keen (all Royal Navy), British Marines Edwin Sansom, William Burfield, RASC Cedric Fox, William Peckam, Navy writer Victor W. ??, and another illegible name on the British list
28 April 1944 from Kiangwan Estonian Ferdinand Reinthall, wireless officer of the SS Mary Woller was repatriated
Woosung and Kiangwan are each approximately located on the map below. Ward Road Jail is at the foot of the letter "n" in Central.