On August 16, 1945, the day after Japan surrendered, there were only four American airmen still alive at the Osaka Kempei Tai prison. The men were told that they were being freed and were given back their uniforms, unloaded weapons, personal effects and even their parachutes. Korean forced-laborers reported that the men were smiling and waved to them as they were leaving the camp. One even yelled that they were “going home”.
Instead the Japanese led them to the cemetery where a large hole had been dug. They were beheaded and thrown into the ditch. On top of them were piled their personal effects, along with those of the 55 Americans previously killed, and any other evidence that Americans had ever been held there.
Originally Posted by Really Not All That Bright View Post
I’m sorry, I’ve been very sick all week and haven’t been on the computer. My uncle was one of the other 55, so I am close to the subject. For some reason the government classified what occurred there, I think probably because they didn’t uncover what happened until 1947, when China and eastern Europe where falling to the communists. In the early 90’s I was able to get the declassified documents from the National Archives, and its a horrible story.
There is little on the internet concerning this, at least the last time I checked. However there was kind of a humorous story of a downed airmen who bullshitted the Japs about his knowledge of tha atomic bomb, which saved his life because he was sent to Tokyo, unlike his crewmates who were sent to Osaka. I’ll look that story up and provide a link.
If you want more cites, I have boxes of documents, some of which I’ll scan into the computer. If there are any writers out there looking for an intense story, contact me. This is a piece of history that needs to be told.
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I’m an author of several successful WW2 nonfiction narratives. I’m interested and would like hear more about this. An important part of the story might be your (or your family’s) effort to find the truth.
Can you direct message me here? I don’ think I’m supposed to post an email address.
Looking forward to hearing more about your uncle’s story.
Thank you for your interest, and especially about your concern about what my grandma and mom experienced. I’ll give you an overview of that first, hopefully it may influence the tone of how you write the story.
I want this story to be told as a horror story, which it is, but not because of the facts. It has to show the horror that war did to ordinary people, on both sides, even showing the feelings and motivations of the Japanese who were put into that situation.
My grandfather split during the depression, leaving my Grandmother to raise two kids on her own in Brooklyn, my Mom and my Uncle Ralph. Ralph turned 18 in early 1945, and entered the Army Air Corp. He was trained as a B-29 tail gunner and sent to Tinian Island. On his second mission over Japan, June 5, his plane was shot down.
My Nana was informed at the time that his plane destroyed and he was MIA, and although I think she held out little hope considering the situation, she was still a mother. A year later she received a letter from the Army, dated August 16, 1946, stating since it had been a year and a day since the cessation of hostilities, and that there was no information that he was still alive, they were changing his status from MIA to killed in action.
A year later the Army sent her another letter, this one telling her that Ralphie had survived and been taken prisoner, but that all the Americans taken to that camp had been killed. I am not sure if it was that letter, or the one Nana requested afterwards, that contained this line: They died from beatings, torture, starvation, dysentary, shootings and beheadings.
I’ll contact you shortly, but first let me tell the rest of my grandmother’s story. After receiving those first letters, she was still determined to find out what had happened exactly to her son. But all of her subsequent letters were answered with a form letter stating that they couldn’t release any more information than was given in the original letters.
She kept writing until the late 60’s. (I found out about this from the National Archives, they sent me copies of her letters). She even wrote directly to each new President when they came into office, but even those letters were kicked back down to the same place denying her the information in the first place.
Needless to say, Nana remained bitter. From the earliest I remember her telling me about Ralph, and how I looked like him. When I was old enough to understand what it meant when she said “the dirty Japs murdered him”, I went to my mother for more information. My Mom didn’t want to discuss what had happened to her brother. Instead she gave me a long talk about how bad things happen in war, but we have to learn to forgive, even the Japanese. Over the years mom would occasionally give me (an avid reader) books written by ordinary Japanese describing their experiences and hardships during the war. Fortunately my Mom’s forgiveness had more of an influence on me than Nana’s anger.
But I was still determined to one day find out what had happened to my Uncle Ralph, whose name I chose (and use) as my middle name when I made my confirmation
I see this earlier and was intrigued on it, however now I have a tendency not to believe this one for several reasons.
[li]First I did a quick Google search on Osaka Kempei Tai prison and not find anything.[/li][li]I have a good friend who is much more into WW2 issues than I, and he not hear of this.[/li][li]From all accounts that I read the Japanese on the home islands were very obedient to the Emperor to lay down their arms and end the hostilities.[/li][li]I have not heard of any other rogue incidents in the few days after the surrender and prior to the US taking control of the country.[/li][/ul]
However I am interested in these types of things so would like to learn more if there is more to know.
davida03801, skepticism is always good, but the reasons you cite don’t leave me very doubtful – not yet, at least. I’ve written entire books on events that people would have said the same things about, especially there being no Internet cites and WW2 experts never hearing of it before. Those qualities actually tell me I’ve found a good story that might need to be told.
CraterLayer, the story of your Nana’s devotion to her brother and her persistence over the years is just the kind of thing that can help bring a story like this to life. An incident from 70+ years ago is one thing, but Nana’s quest for the truth brings it forward to today. So, still eager to hear more.
I am surprised that the government would release even that information. One of the Japanese executed for war crimes did not have his crime described; he killed and ate a POW. The army certainly did not want to tell people that their family member was eaten.
Not to belittle your uncle’s death, but over 60 million people were killed during WWII. I know your uncle’s death is extremely personal to you, but what makes you think his story would make an interesting book that would appeal to the masses? Selling books is a business and you would need an interesting hook for the story to be interesting enough for publication.
First of all the “kempei tai” were the Japenese secret police, aka “Gestapo” in German. The word was erased from the Japanese language after the war, but that is how the documents that I received spelled it.
I know how many died in the war, and how many much more suffered. I wish that every one of their stories could be told. The only profit I wish to make from this is to hopefully leave a lesson for future generations.
Unbroken was actually considered somewhat of a failure, even though it grossed $116 million, it was expected to do much more than that given all of the promotion money spent by the studio.
It only garnered 3 Oscar nominations for technical things like sound and cinematography and didn’t win.
It only has a Rotten Tomato score of 51%.
I highly doubt other Hollywood studios are rushing to do WWII POW dramas such as this anytime soon.
As I said earlier, I’m not discounting the personal nature and interest of the OP regarding this story…I just don’t see it being commercial. WRT, exposing the Japanese treatment of POW’s that’s been done and not that revealing.
Dingbang hasn’t gotten back to me yet (I’m sorry for spelling it Edith in an earlier post). If he has given up on me, I’ll continue here.
I had a revelation today:
Just like the Japanese tried to cover up what happened by burying all the evidence on top of the last four Airmen, so did our government try to bury the truth. Maybe for different reasons, but neither makes it right.
Since it looks like Dingbang doesn’t want to, or is unable to take on this project, I put out this request again. Looking for a writer. Who can tell a horrible story on multiple levels. With extreme passion.