2009年6月14日 星期日

Kinkaseki 金瓜石 POW Camp

Soldiers in defeat were sent to POW camps where they stayed in limbo until the end of the war. Some then went home. Some never did. When the end is is of course dictated by the victors.

After (not during) the Pacific War, many Taiwanese conscripts were detained in POW camps in Indonesia and Singapore until cleared of any war crimes before being sent home. Those who were stranded on Hainan Island had even more difficult time coming home. Many perished and were simply gone from the pages of history.

A more "conventional" during-the-war POW camp is located in 金瓜石Kinkaseki (one of 16 in Taiwan). The above photo shows a memorial dedicated by a private organization on Nov 19, 2006.

Between 1942-45, 523 POWs from the British Commonwealth were imprisoned here and forced to work in a nearby copper mine. The locals called this camp, 督鼻仔寮. Only 89 survived the ordeal. They were part of the 1,100 transported via the England Maru from Singapore, arriving in Keelung on Nov 14, 1942. The rest went on by train, to the Karenko花蓮港 Camp. Our contributor Mr ChoSan, as a kid, has witnessed their arrival with General Percival at the head of the procession.
(Above: a map of the Kinkaseki POW camp site金瓜石戰俘營地圖 - for an aerial view, please visit http://blog.taiwanairpower.org )

This photo (click to enlarge) shows the now abandoned 13-story processing plant of the Taiwan Metal Mining Co sitting on top of a small hill. The narrow road to its right leads up the hill. And after several twists and turns, it finally winds down to a very steep decline onto where the Kinkaseki POW camp was.

This plant or its predecessors started operation in 1882. Both gold and later copper were extracted here. It most likely had processed the copper ore harvested under extremely harsh conditions by the British and Commonwealth POWs. In the 70s, the metal deposits began to run out. And the plant was shut down in 1987 after an industrial accident, a sulfuric acid spill.

21 則留言:

  1. Other high ranking officials ended up in Taiwan too. General Wainwright, the fellow that was left in command when MacArthur snuck off Corregidor for Australia, also ended up at the POW camp in Heito (Pingtong, I think). I've heard that Wainwright had it really bad. They then sent him to Korea, ironically putting him on hand to personally accept the surrender of the Japanese in Manchuria.

    Just as much as his leadership was a plague for American soldiers at Corregidor and Bataan, MacArthur's insistence on "I shall return" may have sunk the Taiwanese, especially if you accept that US plans to invade Taiwan were overridden by MacArthur's egoism to return to the Philippines.

  2. Both Wainright and Percival were sent to another POW camp near Shenyang (not Korea) where a reverse ranking system was imposed, i.e., a general would be lower in rank than a private.

    How true. Many decisions were made on a personal whim. It was the common folks who ended up getting the short-end of the stick.

  3. I was very impressed by this weblog. I am interested in the history of the PoW camp at Kinkaseki. May I know the source of the map of the camp? Was it made by the PoWs? Thank you!

  4. Thanks. Visitors are always welcome.

    The map is part of a guide of the camp site printed together with both English and Chinese texts. The guide is covered with a pane of lucite, fastened onto a concrete support, located right within the memorial park. The caption says the map was provide by the Taiwan POW Camps Association. My guess is that it was drawn from memory by the POWs.

  5. Hi there. Thank you for the information.
    You have a good knowledge of Danshui and Taiwan history. May I ask what you do here in Taiwan?

  6. Strange, 先生の書かれたものスタイルは張樣(Mr ChoSan)に似ている.


  7. I am not the gentleman you mentioned. I could read very little Japanese, though.

    I ever met a middle-aged man. He told me the locals at Danshui give some traditional ritual on the lives lost in the war with the Western invaders of few hundred years ago. Do you know what people the locals fought? Thank you.

  8. This one is a bit complicated. Let me see if I can sort it out for you. You maybe referring to "敗滬尾", a very simple 拜拜 on lunar calendar 4月18日, in memory of the defenders of Danshui. The problem is that it is still unclear who they fought with: (1) 蔡牽 the pirate (in 1806), (2) the French (1884), or (3) 朱賁 another pirate. There has been some doubt whether it was (2) because 淡水 itself did not suffer much damage as on the other two battles.

    As far as (2), the "lives lost to Western invaders" would have been those during the Sino-French war. A 100-year-old 拜拜 tradition known as "蘇府王爺遶境" takes place on lunar calendar 9月8-9日 in 淡水油車口 where (1) the remains of the Qing soldiers were kept - in a small 廟 and (2) also where some Qing soldiers elected to stay and settle (by marrying local ladies). In this ritual, model ships are sent down the Danshui River out to sea - so the poor souls can sail back to their homeland. It makes sense if this 拜拜 was actually started by the descendants of the Qing soldiers.

    Even native Danshui-ren can be confused by the above.

  9. Thank you very much for such a detailed account of these historical battles.

    What is the historical background of 蘇府王爺 at Tamsui, though? It seemed to me the term 王爺 is sometimes applied to the deities of plagues (瘟神)in Taiwanese folk religion, which I learned from 康豹's book many years ago. The name of his book is "台灣的王爺信仰".

  10. I have not read the book. 王爺 worship is probably unique in Taiwan. Initially associated with plaques indeed, but they later evolved into guardian deities. The one in Danshui came from 唐山 (not sure where exactly), originally intended for somewhere else but ended up here because on the way over, the ship was blown off course by a storm and sank near 金山. The deity (the 金身) was recovered and placed in a house in 油車口. After some alleged miracles, the grateful fishermen built a temple in 油車口 itself to honor him. Then came the Sino-French war, the battlefield happened to be at the nearby 中崙 (the Fisherman's Wharf). The victory was matter-of-factly attributed to the power of 蘇府王爺 (actually two other major deities, i.e., 媽祖 and 清水祖師 also shared the credit).

    You can find many 蘇府王爺廟s in Taiwan, especially the southern part.

  11. Thank you! That was very informative.

    By the way, 東森ever reported on the PoW camp located at Chinguashi. You can still find the video clips on YouTube. You know the key words for the search.

    Hope to read more about Tamsui on your weblog. I like this lovely town.

  12. I actually came back only for a short stay and have found Danshui now over-developed. Still, it was a nice little town to grow up in, despite its violent past.

    Thank you for your interest.

  13. HI,
    Almost miss the excitements on the POW topics.
    I was the one who eye witnessed the arrival of General Percival in Hwalien 花蓮港. Not only witnessed their arrival by train, I also saw them working on the vegetable garden across the river in back of our elementary school though peeking was strictly prohibited. The guards would shout “BAKAYARO” 馬鹿野郎 in Japanese and threw stones on to us whenever we peeked. General Wainwright was welcomed by the middle school students at the newly opened harbor. The POWs then marched from harbor to the camp, which was located a couple of miles away. I saw they arrived by train but they met them at harbor; when I described what I saw years later, they all disagreed with me. It was not until I have explained to them that there were more than one arrivals of the POW; they ceased to argue with me.
    By the way, the record shows that plaque was in full swing around Tamsui in the year 18??. All the houses were set on fire to prevent the spreading of the epidemic. As the matter of fact, one vacant lot behind one of our houses was burnt to the ground for that purpose. The lot is still vacant today. Anyone interested can use Google Earth to locate the spot by tracing Latitude 25011’18.15”N and Longitude 121026’22.81”E. Have fun.
    Hate to mention my personal matter on the net but last month was a bad one. My house was broken in by a burglar; he picked up half of my photographic equipments, including 3 cameras and 2 laptops and 3 MP3 players. Funny thing was he also took 6 pairs of my brand new socks and my eyeglass case designed by Calvin Klein, certainly he knew what he was doing. After the incident, I had a virus attack on my main desktop computer. It shut down my communication system for almost 2 weeks until I got my new Sony laptop and fixed the desktop.
    Sorry to share bad news. Before I go, I would like to express my welcome to our new guest, Mr. 山海九份.

  14. Dear Mr ChoSun,

    Welcome back. Sorry to hear about the unfortunate incident. I am near the end of my stay in Taiwan. This blog of course will continue. Please feel free to add more comments and/or post messages.

  15. Hello Cho-san,

    Thank you for the warm welcome.

    I was amazed that you ever saw general Wainwright and Percival at the harbor of Hualien. Then you must be over 75 years old, erh? My father was from Jiufeng. He is now 76 years old. He told me when he was about 7 or 8 he saw the PoWs march into the valley of Jinguashih. The Japanese soldiers hit those who fell behind.

    I also learned from some sources that Percival and Wainwright were later transferred to Manchuria. The Americans received the intelligency and rescued them out there. I am not sure if this was a true event. I read such info on a Chinese website actually.

    What do you do by profession, though? Sorry for asking.

  16. I wish I could answer to Mr. San-Hai-Kau-Fnn directly and even make friend with him but regret no Email address is available. I am one year older than Mr. S-H-K-F's father, born in the year of monkey. I practice the second oldest profession in the world, which is Civil Engineering before retirement; nowadays, I practice Argentina Tango with my better half instead.
    BTW, General Percival also attended the ceremony of Japanese surrender on S.S. Missouri in Tokyo bay. General Percival always reminds me of a coward one that forced by General Yamamoto to answer accepting his offer to surrender at this moment or not by shouting in his broken Japanese-English, “Yesか?NOか?” As a career military man his advancement ends with WWII, sorry to mention it.

  17. Hello Cho-san,

    Thank you. I felt honored. It would be certainly great to know you. I can be reached with the following email address: abhiseka@pchome.com.tw

    I would feel honored too to get to know EyeDoc, of course.

    The memorial in honor of the allied soldiers who died at Kinkaseki attracted my attention few years ago. It was not until at the age of 14 that I set foot in that area. At that time, I had never heard about the story of the PoW camp there. When I first learned about the story of the PoWs, I felt a pity on the souls who had died young, away from home.

    Just few months ago, the PTS (公共電視) released a documentary titled “ Heat Sun” (赤陽), which is directed by a high school art teacher Mr. Chen Chi-ho. I believe you can track few video clips on Youtube. It is a film featuring Taiwanese soldiers who faced trials at the war tribunal in the aftermath of WWII. I felt sorry too for these poor Taiwanese soldiers. They are even more helpless in many ways, now perhaps still struggling in finding an identity.

    You befriended Gen. Percival? That would be the coolest thing I have learned this year!

  18. Then you must visit our other site: http://shinseimaru.blogspot.com

  19. Dear EyeDoc,

    Thank you. I've read the story of the Shinsei Maru. I deeply regret the loss of these countrymen.

  20. Yes, they are your fellow countrymen albeit long forgotten. Please tell the story to your friends.

  21. I came across your blog when searching the internet for Kinkaseki POW camp. You may want to compare the above POW camp map with an aerial photo of the camp, available on my blog at http://blog.taiwanairpower.org