Taipei Air Station - 1966 - - - " What you have in the end are memories"......... Photo Courtesy of Richard Reesh.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Remembrance Day in Taiwan

Remembrance Day, celebrated on the 11th day of November, is also known as Armistice Day or Poppy Day in Commonwealth countries, and Veterans Day in the United States.

Yesterday, Sunday, 10 November 2013, I attended a beautiful Remembrance Day Service, held  on the grounds of the Kinkaseki Taiwan Prisoner of War Memorial in Jinguashi, Taiwan. Jinquashi is a short distance east of Keelung, along the northern Pacific coast.

The Memorial was constructed on the site of the Japanese Kinkaseki Prisoner Of War (POW) Camp. The only evidence of the old POW camp is a gate post and a short portion of an old wall, which sits along the edge of the new memorial area.

A beautiful Sunday morning.  It was uncommonly warm and sunny, in the mid 80s, when our bus arrived at the old camp area.  The location of the camp can be seen by lifting and dropping these coordinates into the Google Earth search box. 25° 06' 38.6"N 121° 51' 30.4"E  I believe the "street view" of the Memorial area was recorded before the Memorial was completed.

The ceremonies were conducted under the aspects of the Taiwan POW Camps Memorial Society, headed by Michael Hurst.  Michael is the Director of the Taiwan POW Camps Memorial Society.

Some may ask, POW Camps in Taiwan?  Yes, there were 14 different POW Camps located on the island.

This year, there were a number of Prisoner of War family members in attendance. They came from afar to visit the camps where their relatives had been imprisoned during the Second World War.

Please take some time to read about the men who were in the Taiwan POW Camps. 

It kind of puts a knot in your stomach when you think of what these POWs went through, day after day, night after night, never a day or moment away from the surroundings and physical and mental pain of the camps. Words cannot truly describe what these men encountered during their imprisonment in Taiwan, and many of these men, had arrived in Taiwan from other POW camps in Asia.  As I write these words, my heart aches.. We must never forget these, and other men, who lost their lives, for you and me.  And for those who endured their time in these camps, and survived, thank you.  God Bless each of you....

 I know that it's quite difficult to read the words.  I've copied the words.


In November 1942, over 500 British Commonwealth and Allied prisoners of war, captured in the Japanese invasion of Malaya and Singapore, were brought to the POW camp formerly located on this site.  The number later rose to over 1,000 men.

Forced to work under extremely harsh and unsafe conditions in the nearby copper mine, the prisoners suffered injury, disease, starvation and cruel treatment at the hands of their guards.  Consequently, many died.

In late 1944, the Japanese had an access tunnel build from the back of the camp to the mine, under the pretext of making it easier for the prisoners to go to work.  In reality, and in the event of American forces landing on Taiwan, the Japanese High Command had ordered that the tunnel was to be used to "kill all of the prisoners and leave no trace".  The original annihilation order, found in 1946 by those investigating wartime atrocities, and one of only two copies ever discovered, is now in the US National Archives in Washington, DC.

A friendly Taiwanese guard secretly informed six of the prisoners of the plan, but fortunately no invasion came.  The prisoners were later moved to another camp near Taipei where they stayed for the remainder of the war.

This memorial pays tribute to all the men who were interned here, and also to those brave Taiwanese who showed sympathy to them.

Today, all that remains of the camp are the wall and gate post which are situated to the right beyond the pavilion.


Kinkaseki Taiwan Prisoner of War Memorial grounds.

The Kinkaseki Taiwan Prisoner of War Memorial grounds.  Seen in the background, the tent where the ceremony was conducted.  In front of the tent, flags of Taiwan and f the countries of the Allied military men imprisoned in Taiwan POW camps.

Striking photograph of our flags standing in honor, below the beautiful mountains of Taiwan in the distant haze.

Looking into the rear of the tent, standing room only.

Mark Turner, Taiwan POW Camps Memorial Society, opens the gathering.

Reverend Dr. Herbert Barker opens in prayer.

Mal Turner plays opening music.

Michael Hurst, Director, Taiwan POW Camps Memorial Society.
I filmed Michael's message, "Remembering."
Unfortunately, the video sound was not recorded and a "silent" film would not be appropriate for this story.

Standing room only as the program continues.

Hans Song, Deputy Secretary-General, Republic of China Veterans Affairs Commission. 
Mr. Song, presented his message in English and Chinese.

Memorial Stone to the Taiwan POWs.
Easier read of the Memorial Stone.

Gathered at the Memorial Stone. 

Seven Prisoner of War family members visiting from overseas, 3 men closest to left side of stone, and 3 women and 1 man standing closest to right side of stone, pose for photographs after laying wreaths.

Wreaths to be presented at the Memorial Stone.

The Commonwealth and Allied Wreath, one of 8 wreaths presented by various groups of attendees.

Before and after the Remembrance Ceremony, many of us walked around the War Memorial grounds.

A hand drawing layout of the Kinkaseki POW Camp.

"Without a mate, No Prisoner of War could survive"
Wall of Remembrance Names - Listing all known Taiwan POWs

The "Mates" statue and the left end of the Wall of Remembrance Names seen here.

The words say what this place is all about.  We Will Never Forget!

If you're in the Taipei area, take a trip out to the  Kinkaseki Taiwan Prisoner of War Memorial grounds.  
The memorial is beautiful and the views of the mountains and surrounding areas is superb. 

If you can't get there, be sure to sign up for the bus transportation to next year's ceremony.

You can check for information on the Taiwan POW Camps Memorial Society web page.

One last truth from the Wall at Kinkaseki !

I am not familiar with the circumstances of how our Taiwan POWs were released from captivity and how they made their way home. 

We do know how and have film of our Vietnam War POWs return, below.

Before you leave, please  watch the American POWs return to Clark AB, Philippines.

Great piece of film..

If you liked this film, read the story on the Homecoming of our POWs at Clark Air Base,  HERE, where you can watch other films on the POW release, 40 years ago.

1 comment:

titojohn said...

Thanks for sharing this.