contained in the POW Section of the web site is as it appeared in
"History of the 39th Bomb Group (VH)" by Robert Laird &
David Smith on pages 401-408. Links have been added for navigational
401-403 cite the source for information (next 3 web pages) is a
book "Some Survived" by E. Bartlett Kerr. It is "an account of American
POWs in the Pacific. 1941-1945." Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
published it in 1964. NC. 27515-2225. Only a limited part of this
excellent book deals with B-29 POWs, Although names and units of
those crewman are unknown, it does confirm conclusively that large
numbers of 20th Air Force fliers were taken prisoner by the Japanese.
Also, from the instances cited, it would indicate that most of them
probably did not survive.
accounts by the individuals indicated on the above navigational
bar are from pages 404-408 and are comments received in letters
from former Prisoners of War to Mr. Laird for "History of the
39th Bomb Group (VH)".
with additional information appropriate for this section is encourage
to contact email@example.com
Lawton points out in his book, "Some Survived," few people know what happened
to the 25,000 American soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines who were
captured by the Japanese during World War II. Only three out of five survived
the barbaric treatment they received during their confinement; many of
those that did somehow endure, returned home physically, psychologically
and emotionally scarred by months, even years, of imprisonment. The Japanese
military tradition believed fanatically that surrender was dishonorable.
Therefore, they were totally unprepared to humanely handle the largest
number of American prisoners ever taken by a foreign nation. Asian rations
were scarce, but the diet of the POWs bordered on starvation. American
prisoners were taken to their physical and mental limits. This resulted
in overwhelming instances of permanent psychic disorders. They were subjected
to gnawing hunger, extremes of heat and cold, unbearable thirst, unlimited
torture, boredom, loneliness and never-ending fear. In all ways, the Japanese
intention was to completely destroy the bodies, souls and dignity of our
Allied prisoners. Practically all POWs suffered from scurvy, pellagra,
Bin-bin, malaria, malnutrition and poor vision. Many developed gangrene
from untreated wounds. Totally debilitated, they were little more than
walking skeletons. And contrary to universally accepted rules in the handling
of prisoners, they were often placed in locations subject to the most
intense bombings. As a result, an unknown number of prisoners were either
killed or severely maimed by bombs falling within prison compounds.
with the March 1943 B-29 raids, the Japanese had taken captive an increasing
number of B-29 flight crews who had survived after enemy flak or fighters
brought down their planes.
Army had a policy of separating downed American fliers from the other
Prisoners of War. Their reason for doing this was that they did not want
longtime POWs to learn how badly the war was going for Japan. This did
not accomplish its purpose, however, because many of the prisoners had
witnessed for themselves the widespread devastation inflicted on Japan's
cities. Furthermore, they could sense the disintegrating effect it was
having on the people's will to continue the war. After fliers were captured,
the Japanese military conducted half-hearted interrogation. There was
little they could learn that could lessen the calamitous bombings by our
B-29s. It was for this reason that the American Air Force lessened its
restrictions on captured airmen. Here-to fore, the prisoner was allowed
to give only his name, rank and serial number. But now, there were no
limits on information a prisoner could give his captors if it would help
him to escape death or torture.