As Prisoners of War



See article at bottom where Arnold Andressen relates his capture and captivity.

8 Dec 1941 North China Marines captured at Peking, Tientsin, Chinwangtao

[official surrender 1300 8 Dec-Ashurst notes]

(photos of each location on Peking/Tientsin Publications page)

10 Jan 1942

Marines from Peking sent to Tientsin by train to join others

[arrived about 2200 10 Jan-Ashurst notes]

28 Jan 1942

entire unit sent to Woosung POW camp outside Shanghai

arrive 1 Feb 42, bring total in camp to about 1500

[arrived 1300 1 Feb-Ashurst] photos on Woosung page

(Marshall, Stone, Story arrive Woosung 22 Feb 42 - see Escapes)

(it is possible a mass escape was planned while enroute to Shanghai-see Escapes and Deaths page)

10 Mar 1942

4 POWs escape Woosung, recaptured next day

17 Mar 1942

North China Marines Battles, Brimmer, Stewart, Story escape Woosung

16 Apr 1942

4 above Marines recaptured, eventually sent to Ward Road Jail in Shanghai - see their story on the Escapes and Deaths page.

18 Jun 1942

Wake Island civilian (Lonie Riddle) killed by guard, accidentally ??

June 1942

diplomats repatriated

(this included the five men of the Fourth Marines left in Shanghai to close out records when the Fourth was withdrawn to the Philippines in Nov 1941)

most believe this included Major Edwin McCaulley from Peking (but his name shows up on the roster of the Weihsien civilian internment camp in China in March 1943 and on the roster of the exchange ship Teia Maru which sailed for the States in mid September 1943. McCaulley is listed as a civilian on both the Weihsien roster and the Teia Maru roster. The personal information card (for McCaulley) all returnees filled out is missing from the files at NARA. See also page 3 of the Peiping Marine under Peking/Tientsin Publications)

Greg Leck's book, Captives of Empire, lists five retired Marines held at Weihsien. Three, including McCauley, had been interned from Peking. The other two were from Tientsin. All five were living as civilian retired military in those cities. McCauley and the two from Peking, Alphaeus Emil Smithberger and John Charles Smith, were repatriated in September 1943. The two from Tientsin, John Anderson (age 60) and Austin John V Roberts (age 49) were not released until August 1945. Both spellings of McCauley are used in different sources.

summer 1942

Carrol Bucher (photo on Escapes and Deaths page)electrocuted by perimeter fence 28 Aug at Woosung

Seaman 2c RAy K. Hodgkins electrocuted 15 Aug

18 Sep 1942

69 civilian prisoners and one US Marine from Woosung sent to Fukuoka 3-B in Japan (Newell diary, NARA, and Otera papers) apparently to prepare camp for occupation in November

3 Nov 1942

58 US Marines and 12 civilians (Otera papers) from Woosung sent to Fukuoka 3-B in Japan aboard Miike Maru-about 1/3 each North China Marines, Wake Marines, Wake civilians (Dennis Connor oral history at U of Missouri, Columbai-Western Historical Manuscript Collection)

(photos on Fukuoka 3-B page)

6 Dec 1942

entire group at Woosung transferred to nearby Kiangwan-about 700 Americans and 900 others [Ashurst notes say about 1800 POWs then]

Christmas 1942

Jimmie James provides complete Christmas dinner, Emmett Newell diary has frequent references to supplies sent in to camp by Jimmie James

20 Aug 1943

520 POWs transferred to Japan from Kiangwan (possibly aboard the Muroto which transported 520 POWs from Shanghai to Osaka-from official Japanese records) US Marines 178, civilian 323, British enlisted 7, civilian (British ?) 12. 120 went to the Tokyo area, 400 to the Osaka area (Otera papers)

at least 59 NCM were in this group-some go to Kawasaki, some to Osaka 13-B at Tsumori, Chittenden book says about 500, Japanese records say 520 (Dietz notes say 519 men left 19 Aug 43 and included 50 North China Marines)

20 Nov 1943

5 POWS sent From Kiangwan to the Tokyo area, 1 US enlisted, 4 civilian (Otera papers)

Oct 1944

North China Marine Jerold Story escapes Ward Road Jail successfully, Brimmer and Stewart recaptured-again


William Killebrew dies of pneumonia 10 Feb 44 at Fukuoka 3-B

Ralph Goudy dies 12 Mar 44 at Tokyo #5 Kawasaki

Fernando Rodriguez dies of TB 5 Nov 44 at Tsumori

Holland Cash dies 18 Nov 44 at Kiangwan

Max Neuse dies of beating/pneumonia at Fukuoka 3-B on 13 Dec 44

Raymond Lease dies 31 Dec 44 at Tokyo # 5 Kawasaki

(photos on Escapes and Deaths page)


Clyde Roark dies 29 Jan 45 at Kiangwan

Richard Rider dies in air raid at Tsumori on 13 Mar 45

(photos on Escapes and Deaths page)

4 May 1945

some POWs sent to prepare new camp at Fengtai, Dr. Foley in charge

9 May 1945

5:30 am-Kiangwan closed. POWs sent by train to Fengtai, arrive 14 May at noon

about 25 remain behind, too ill, sent to Municipal Police Hospital in Shanghai

2 groups (total of 7) escape enroute, 10 May 45 NCM McBrayer and Huizenga part of successful escape-civilians Bill Taylor and Jack Hernandez escape, Hernandez breaks leg and recaptured. Taylor makes contact with Chinese Communists, meets Mao, after 2-3 months connects with US forces

total of POWs now about 1000, 430 civilians, 450 US military, others

NCM Douglas Bunn, Theodore Dedmon, and John Jesse left behind )Otera papers) (Doug Bunn was shot in Oct 41 in Peking. See Chittenden book page 105). A group of about 25 was left in Shanghai due to injuries or illnesses. (see Bunn's story at Escapes and Deaths page and report on Ward Road Jail at POW Camps Holding North China Marines page) See info on those kept in Shanghai and Peking at the end of the war on the Fengtai report.

[Ashurst notes say 996 POWs, arrived Fengtai (just outside Peking) morning 15 May]

19 June 1945

entire group departs Fengtai at 6 am, travel 5 days to Pusan, Korea

sent by ship (Darian Maru) to Japan 6 am 28 June, arrived Japan 4 pm same day - debarked from transport 29 June at 1 pm (Behind the Barbed Wire says arrived at Susa on west coast, spent 36 hours altogether crammed in hold )

996 total POWs sent to Japan, 300 US, Norwegian, and Italian dropped in Tokyo area, 196 US dropped in northern Honshu at Sendai #11, remainder of US and British sent to Hokkaido (NARA info, Ashurst notes) NCMs Dr. Foley, and pharmacists mates Herman Davis, Art Schraeder, Loy Black, William Hunt, Earl Johnson, William Riley, and John Ryan sent with the group to Sendai #11.(Col Ashurst's notes and rescue rosters)

one group of 150 civilians went to Niigata (as told by James Allen, a Wake Island civilian)

read his narration at http://rims.k12.ca.us/pow/index.html

June/July 1945 to Sep 1945

all North China Marines now in camps in Japan-(except Battles, Brimmer, Bunn, Dedmon, Jesse, Huizenga, McBrayer, Stewart, Story) The majority of the NCM are in Hakodate camps 2, 3, and 4 on Hokkaido island - officers at Camp 4,  enlisted in Camps 2 and 3

6 August

Enola Gay drops first bomb on Hiroshima

9 August

Bockscar spends about an hour trying to drop second bomb on Kokura (location of many POW camps, including the NCM at Fukuoka 3-B) visibility inadequate so go to secondary target-Nagasaki 

2 Sep 1945

Japanese sign surrender documents on USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay

approx mid Sep 1945

most North China Marines released from POW camps

(photo of soon to be released POWs at Fukuoka 3-B, Hakodate #2, Nishi-Ashibetsu pages)


War Claims Act of 1948 allows payment of $1 per day of imprisonment for failure to receive sufficient quantity and quality of food


Amendment to War Claims Act allows payment of additional $1.50 per day for inhumane treatment such as hard labor. Had to file before 3/31/52.

Adult civilian Americans interned by Japan were paid $60 per month of internment, children under 18 paid $25 per month.


surviving North China Marines or spouses receive promotion back pay in 1942 dollars without interest added, must have filed claim by Sep 2003 (in 2005 this filing period extended). In 2007-08 further payments made to NCM or spouses. Considered interest on initial payment. This money was only paid to those who filed. No effort was made by the government to contact the families.


The following article from 1984 was sent to me by Lisa M. Lee,  grandaughter of Arnold Andressen.  The comments in parenthesis were added by myself.

North China Marine recalls his Four-year captivity by Japanese
By Dave Stancliff—Twentynine Palms Correspondent
High Desert Star 1984

While most Americans associate Dec. 7, 1941, with the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the United States entry into World War II, Twentynine Palms resident Arnold Andressen remembers it as his last day of freedom.  On that day, Andressen became a prisoner of war for 45 months, until Japan surrendered in 1945.
Andressen, who was about 20 years old on that “day of infamy”, was stationed in Peking, China, with 200 other Marines.  Nicknamed the North China Marines, they guarded the American Embassy.
At approximately 8 a.m. Dec. 8, a detail of 22 men from the Marine Legation Guard of the Tientsin detachment was captured while stockpiling supplies at the Ching Wang Tae (Chinwangtao) docks.  These officers and men were the first Marine prisoners of the war.
The North China Marines were scheduled to depart Ching Wang Tae on Dec. 10, 1941 on the ship President Harrison.  The vessel had evacuated the 4th Marines from Shanghai during the last week of November.  The Japanese had moved fast.  That morning, 2nd Lt. Richard M. Huizenga was supervising the loading on the Ching Wang Tae docks northeast of Tientsin.  Suddenly a truck driver ran up to him with the news that Pearl Harbor had been attacked.  Quickly, the lieutenant rushed back to his men at the railhead.  He found 21 Marines surrounded by Japanese soldiers.
Organizing a strongpoint, Chief Gunner William A. Lee issued two machine guns, two Thompson submachine guns and BARs (Browning Automatic Rifles).  It was obviously a hopeless situation.  Nevertheless, the Marines were ready to fight.  The Japanese captain allowed Huizenga to talk with Maj. Luther A Brown at Tientsin, who ordered him not to resist.
Meanwhile in both Tientsin and Peking, more Japanese surrounded the Marine Barracks and demanded surrender.  Col. William W. Ashurst, the senior Marine officer at the U.S. Embassy where Andressen was located, had until noon to decide whether to fight or surrender.   It was estimated that 1,000 Japanese troops encircled the Tientsin barracks, while three enemy planes flew overhead.  While records are not clear, a sizeable force of Japanese surrounded the embassy guard in Peking.
As the hours wore on, Andressen, along with two other Marines, was put to work destroying confidential embassy papers.  The weather was freezing but “it didn’t snow that day,” Andressen recalled during a recent interview.
At Tientsin the Marine gate sentry phoned his commanding officer, Maj. Luther A. Brown, and stated that a Japanese officer wanted to speak to him.   The officer, Maj. Omura, who was well known to Brown, brought a written proposal that all officers and men be assembled in one place in the barracks compound, and their weapons and equipment be placed in another part of the compound as the Japanese took over.  The alternative to surrender was sure death, considering the force at hand.
Brown told the major that he would sign only if the Japanese accorded his men the privileges due then under the Boxer Protocol to which Japan and the United States had been signatories.
The Japanese major relayed Brown’s message to his commander, Lt. Gen. Kyoji Tominaga.  The Japanese commander agreed to Brown’s stipulation and said that Japan would honor it if valid.  Brown believed that this stipulation should have guaranteed the repatriation of his men.  Gen. Tominaga then arranged for Brown to telephone Col. Ashurst in Peking.  Ashurst accepted a similar Japanese proposal and advised Brown to do the same.
Andressen and the rest of the embassy guard didn’t know what to expect.  However, they believed that if they offered no resistance they would be considered part of the diplomatic entourage and therefore be repatriated.  Unfortunately, the basis for this belief was nonexistent.  But because their initial treatment was relatively mild and because they received repeated informal Japanese assurances, the Marines made no attempt to escape.  (Not at all accurate.  Donald Marshall and George Stone escaped the move from Tientsin to Woosung and were recaptured.  Dr. William Foley planned the escape of the entire unit on the way to Woosung but was not allowed to make the attempt.  Jerold Story, Connie Battles, Charles Brimmer, and Charles Stewart escaped from Woosung on 30 Mar 1942.  They were recaptured 16 April.  On 9 Oct 1944 Jerold Story escaped from Ward Road Jail (Prison) in Shanghai along with two navy officers.  They made it to US forces.  At the same time Charles Brimmer and Charles Stewart also escaped from Ward Road Jail (Connie Battles was too sick to make the attempt.)  They were immediately recaptured.  James McBrayer and Richard Huizenga escaped from the train while going from Shangahi  to Peking in May 1945.  Both reached US forces.  That is 11 escapes/attempts out of a unit of 203.  I doubt any other unit beat that record.  In all of WW II only 2% escaped.  See www.northinamarines.com for details.)
About 200 Marines with Andressen soon found themselves imprisoned in Shanghai.  That was the beginning of a 45-month ordeal that saw starvation, disease, humiliation, beatings and death.
On Dec. 26, 1941, the U.S. Secretary of State instructed the U.S. charge in Switzerland to request the Swiss government to communicate to the Japanese government the following amplification of the proposal of the U.S. government for the exchange of all diplomatic, consular and other official personnel, their dependents, staffs and personal effects.
In the amplification, the government of the Unite States stated that it, “considers that its official personnel, subject to this exchange, includes the personnel of the Marine guard remaining in China and therefore under protection of international agreement.”  The international agreement to which the U.S. government referred was Article VII of the China (Boxer Protocol) of Sept. 7, 1901, that remained in effect between China and the United States at the time.  Article VII reaffirmed that, “in protocol annexed to the letter of the Jan. 16, 1901, China recognized the right of each power (including the U.S.) to maintain a permanent guard in the said quarter (of its legation) for the defense of its legation.”  Both the United States and Japan were parties to the protocol.
The Japanese government responded in a note dated Dec. 30, 1941, in which it accepted the American proposition of mutually sending ships to Lourenco Marques (Mozambique) for the exchange of officials and others.  Annexed to that note, the Japanese outlined the personnel to be exchanged, but no reference to the Marine guard was made.
On Jan. 15, 1942, the Swiss envoy in Tokyo telegraphed further statements of the Japanese government regarding the exchange proposal.  In that further statement the Japanese government pointed out that “while the Imperial government has no objection to including among those to be exchanged the personnel of the U.S. Court in Shanghai, it is unable to agree to include the U.S. Marine Guard remaining in China as they constitute a military unit.”

The American Department of State observed on Feb. 5, 1942, that, “The U.S. government may refer to this point at a later date.”  On March 5, 1942, the State Department received a document dated Feb. 23 from the Spanish Embassy which was transmitting the Japanese Imperial government’s response to the U.S. proposition.  The Japanese stated “The Japanese government is glad to learn that an agreement has practically been reached in the matter of the exchange of Japanese and American officials and other personnel, however, they desire to make the following observation in order to avoid misunderstanding.”
In these observations the Japanese government noted, “The Japanese government gathers that the U.S. government does not insist on inclusion of the Marine Guards in China in the present exchange.”
Six weeks later, the U.S. government delivered to the Spanish Embassy in charge of Japanese interests a message.  “The U.S. government refers to former communications in regard to the return of the Marine guards in China and expects the Japanese government to take cognizance of their true status as diplomatic guards.”
The published record of the Foreign Relations committee of the United States makes no further reference at this point to the question of the Marine guards stationed in China.
Neither Maj. Brown nor Col. Ashurst, who had surrendered the Peking guard on Dec. 8, 1941, knew of this diplomatic interchange.  On Jan. 3, 1942, Andressen and the rest of the North China Marines were brought to Tientsin and quartered with Brown’s troops.  The entire group of Marines and their personal effects were moved Jan. 27, 1942, by train to Shanghai.  There, a Japanese officer told them in English as they entered the prison camp, that “they were not prisoners of war, although they would be treated as such.  They were still indicating that the North China Marines would be repatriated.
It wasn’t until the exchange ships came and went that the North China Marines began to doubt.
Most were convinced that they were at least slated to be returned to the U.S.  The Japanese told them there just wasn’t room aboard the ships.  The Marines were then transferred, on Feb. 2, 1942, to Woosung Prison Camp at the mouth of the Whang Poo River near Shanghai.  This was a former Japanese army camp, approximately 20 acres overall, and completely enclosed with electrified fence.  The buildings were all frame structure and unheated.  Most of the prisoners were not dressed warmly enough to withstand the biting Chinese winter and all were insufficiently fed.  Later on, many of the Marines were taken to Japan and were forced into slave labor in factories and other industrial complexes.  (23 North China Marines were sent to Yawata in Japan in November 1942. In December 1942 Woosung was closed and the POWs sent to nearby Kiangwan.   54 were sent from there  to two camps in the  Tokyo area in August 1943.  The remainder (except for a few) were sent from Kiangwan to northern Japan in July 1945.)
Andressen found himself working underground in a coal mine.  “There was water at all times in the various levels being pumped out and making for very miserable working conditions,” recalled Andressen.  We all held out pretty well except towards the end when we were pretty weak,” he noted.  “Because of our physical condition our mental condition naturally suffered.”
Andressen lit up his third cigarette in less than half an hour and mused “If the war would have gone on much longer, we wouldn’t have made it.”  However, Andressen and those who survived with him clung to the hope of freedom, and 45 months from the date of their capture, the war ended.
Andressen stayed in the Marine Corps until 1949 at which time he went into the Army.  After nine years in the Army he retired.  But Andressen, like the other surviving North China Marines, is bitter about the experience.  “We all are,” he explained.  “Why did this horrible farce ever take place?”

Was it negligence, indifference or both?  Why were the North China Marines forced to endure undue hardship when the British Embassy Guard (there at the same time) was repatriated together with the British Embassy personnel?  Another question posed by Andressen and his peers involved the Treaty of Peace with Japan, signed in 1951.  It waived all repatriation claims of the allied powers.  Why was there not a provision for the North China Marines who had so unjustly suffered?
Each North China Marine received a $1 per day from the Japanese government.  After the peace treaty was signed between America and Japan, no further action could be taken towards the Japanese government.  During a recent reunion of the North China Marines in Dallas, the consensus of those attending was, “We should take action against the U.S. government for abandoning us.”
Basically it was agreed that they would seek only the following compensatory considerations:  the Medal of Honor and 100 percent unconditional disability of $100,000 for surviving members and dependent families.  Their reasoning is that the first request is easy to assess.  They were ordered to China, then forsaken by the government when an effort by the State Department would have repatriated them.  They were left to suffer starvation, disease, beatings and, in some cases, death – a situation above and beyond anyone’s call of duty.
The second consideration was that the few who survived should be proof to any medical person that life in a Japanese prison camp is not conductive to long life.
Lastly, they ask, how much is it worth to spend 1, 350 days in a hell hole?  How about $74.07 a day?  That is approximately what $100,000 divided 1,350 days equals.
Andressen, in his husky, muted voice, said, “We are hoping to bring our case to the American people on Dec. 7, 1984, to enlist their aid.  Maybe, just maybe, if the outcry is enough, Congress will see fit to redress this great wrong done to the North China Marines.”
“We need something done now.  There’s about 112 of us still alive with an average age of 67.  We just don’t have that much time left.”  Andressen noted it was only recently that he and many others realized just how badly they had been treated.  “We just thought that’s the way it is,” he sighed.
Despite this experience and the knowledge Andressen now has, he’s still a patriot by his own admission.
“I’m an American and I fought for this country,” he said as he slowly stood up, concluding the interview.
His parting thought was from the Pledge of Allegiance, “One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all!”

The writer would like to thank the following sources of information for making this article possible:   Arnold  Andressen;   Capt.  Frank  Dutton (U.S.M.C. Ret.);   William T. Foley, M.D.;  Terence  S.  Kirk’s  Secret Cameras;   Gidon  Gottlieb; Part xii, Chapter 2 of The U.S. Marine Corps Story;  by J.  Robert  Moskin, 4th Marine Unit History Philippine Area Operations official files;  Yanks Don’t Cry  by Martin Boyle, 1963;  and  Hold High the Torch:  A History of the 4th Marines  by Condit and Turnbladh.

Arnold Andressen 1940 in Peking and in 1984