Daily brutality in POW camps

23:38, Apr 22 2012
MEMEMTOES: Ivan MacIntosh holding his father Jim's flying gear, Japanese prisoner-of-war identity tag and other memorabilia from World War 2.

Pilot Jim MacIntosh was caught up in the capitulation of Java and taken prisoner by the Japanese. In 1946 he testifed the War Crimes Tribunal about the way he and other prisoners of war were treated.

Born at Wyndham in 1915, Jim MacIntosh grew up at Waimahaka, later moving to the Carronvale family farm at Quarry Hill. Growing up, his interests included saving for lessons flying Tiger Moth aeroplanes at the Myross Bush airfield.

It was this flying experience that led him to enlist and be accepted as a pilot in the Royal New Zealand Air Force. He left for Singapore with 488 Squadron in 1941. His service there was short-lived because of the Japanese advance.

There followed a retreat to Java with 605 Squadron, flying there with the Dutch, but the capitulation saw Mr MacIntosh and his mates taken prisoners of war.

It was at his final camp, near Nagasaki, that he witnessed the world's second atomic bomb attack. At 11.02am on August 9, 1945 an estimated 40,000 people were killed instantly by the bomb nicknamed "Fat Man".

Mr MacIntosh later said: "We saw this Superfortress coming extremely high from the southeast through patches of cloud. It was just like a silver moth and we saw this object coming down from it with a big cluster of parachutes on it," he said.


"We didn't know what it was, but this blinding flash went off it had the intensity of 1000 arc welders and we were completely blinded. By the time I could see again there was (what looked like) a great big bone with a halo ring round it."

Mr MacIntosh returned to New Zealand after repatriation by the Americans and learned his younger brother, 19-year-old Ivan, had been killed along with 765 crew when the cruiser Neptune sank in the Mediterranean in a minefield off Libya in 1941.

Mr MacIntosh died in 1998.

This is his testimony to the War Crimes Tribunal:

"We spent about 14 months in prison camps in Java, mostly under Korean guards and the treatment received from these guards was brutal. Every day men were beaten up for no apparent reason at all.

"From April to October 1943 we had a Lieutenant Sonei for camp commandant.

"I saw six Americans paraded by this man in front of the guard house and beaten up by each of the guards in turn and by Sonei himself.

"They were then made to kneel on the sharp gravel with a bamboo stick behind each one's knees. They had their heads shaved and had to kneel there for 24 hours without moving, with the hot sun on their heads and nothing to eat or drink.

"This was their punishment for trying to smuggle in some foodstuff they had gone on a working party.

"At the end they had to be carried away.

"In October 1943, we were all taken to Japan...the day after we arrived there we were put to work in a carbon factory.

"Our first camp commandant was Lieutenant Yanaru.

"This man gave his guards a free hand with us and they were allowed to beat us up as much as they liked.

"Our work was very hot and the men often got severely burnt in the kilns and hot carbon dropped on their feet, but still they had to carry on working.

"Yanaru was very certain that Japan was going to win the war and that we prisoners would never see our native lands again. He repeatedly told us that we would always be slaves in Japanese factories.

"One of the worst Japanese guards was a man named Kibabau Kihu, known to us all as Bullhead. This man behaved like a raving lunatic and the treatment he gave the men was just brutal.

"He always carried a pick handle with him and I have seen him use it on the men scores of times. He would knock them down with the stick and then kick them until they got up again. Any excuse was good enough for him the use his stick.

"The men lived in constant fear of him and I consider him responsible for the death of at least one man in his section.

"Another Jap who was continually beating up the prisoners was Sarudai Hoshima known as Freckles. He was a camp guard and during the time he was with us he beat up every man in the camp, several times.

"The men were in continual fear of Freckles day and night as he was in the habit of coming along at any time and pick on someone and would throw them around with his jujitsu holds ...

"During the summer of 1944, Yanaru left our camp and was replaced by Lieutenant Fulsho as our camp commandant. This man was quite good as far as Nips went, and conditions improved considerably.

"He was appalled at the condition of the men from X-ray tests it was proved that only 30 men were fit to work and these only half days."


The Southland Times