POWs in Japan and Korea

POWs in Japan and Korea

POWs in Japan and Korea

Between 1942 and 1945 Australian Prisoners of War were moved to camps throughout Japan for imprisonment and work in different war industries. The movement of soldiers increased with the completion of the Thai-Burma Railway and by early 1945 there were nearly 3,000 Australian prisoners of war in Japan. Work included the coalmines of Nisi Asi-Betu, on Hokkaido, the Taisho sub-marine camp, and on the Nagasaki docks.

Australian women prisoners were also taken to Japan and had to endure very hard conditions. The Japanese treatment of prisoners often acted against the international conventions, as the conditions of capture proved fatal to many.

The treatment of Australian POWs in Korea was generally better than that meted out by the Japanese to POWs in other locations. Keijo camp in Korea was a Japanese 'show' camp where approximately 90 Australians, together with approximately 300 British prisoners grew vegetables and raised rabbits to supplement their diet. The Japanese took these photographs to use as propaganda, circulating them as proof of the 'good' conditions and the variety of foods available to the POWS . The Keijo camp was also used to demonstrate the POW's living conditions to visiting International Red Cross Committee (IRCC) officials. However there were many Australian POWs held in Korea who were kept in appalling conditions. Food allowances were often meagre, and death by malnutrition was not uncommon.

Francis 'Frank' Joseph Baker

No.: NX59308
Name: Francis 'Frank' Joseph Baker
Rank: Sargent
Unit: 2/20 Battalion
Date & Place of Birth: 19/02/1920, Paddington, Sydney
Date & Place of Enlistment: 22/07/1940, Paddington, Sydney
Places of Captivity: Singapore, Thailand, Japan

Listen to Frank Baker's story

Frank Baker arrived in Singapore aboard the Queen Mary on February 18, 1941. He fought with the 2/20th Division in Malaya until the Fall of Singapore, at which point he was marched to Selarang Barracks, where he worked on the Singapore wharves. He was then taken as part of D Force to work on the Burma-Thailand Railway as an orderly, until the railway's completion. After a brief move to Tamawang, he was later sent to Japan aboard a ship christened by the men as 'Byoki Maru' (sick ship). He spent 70 days at sea before reaching Moji on September 6, 1944. Frank was transported by train and boat to Yamani on the island of Shokoku and then to a camp at Niihama. There he remained for the duration of the war, working in Japanese copper mines.

Key of Heaven' Prayer book

Key of Heaven' Prayer book

Currency note


Frank Arthur Ernest Elworthy

No.: NX51361
Name: Frank Arthur Ernest Elworthy
Rank: Lance Corporal
Unit: HQ 22nd Brigade
Date & Place of Birth: 20/05/1909, Gundagai, Sydney
Date & Place of Enlistment: 26/06/1940, Paddington, Sydney
Places of Captivity: Singapore, Thailand, Burma, Japan (Iizouka)

Frank Elworthy enlisted at the age of 31 in 1940. Frank served with the 22nd Brigade Headquarters (Intelligence) in Singapore until its fall in February 1942 when he was taken prisoner by the Japanese. He was transported to Fukuoka Camp No.22 in Japan, finally arriving there in January 1945, where he remained until the Japanese surrender. He was sent on working parties in the coal mines, and on the 23rd of August 1945 he received serious head injuries whilst working in a mine from a dynamite blast, but was soon sent back to work.

ID tags
Demobilisation Procedure Book

boarding card

Douglas Neville Ricketts

No.: NX58924
Name: Douglas Neville Ricketts
Rank: Private
Unit: 18th Battalion
Date & Place of Birth: 05/08/1918, Drummoyne, NSW
Date & Place of Enlistment: 29/06/1940, Paddington, NSW
Places of Captivity: Keijo, Chosen, Konan, Changi

Douglas Neville Ricketts enlisted in the 18th Battalion at the age of 21. He embarked from Sydney aboard the Queen Mary (HMT QX) on the 4th of February 1941, and arived in Singapore 2 weeks later. Douglas served in Malaya as an anti-aircraft gunner until the fall of Singapore when he was captured and taken prisoner by the Japanese. He was recorded as a Prisoner of War on the 24th of November 1942 in Korea, imprisoned at Jinsen, Keijo, and Konan Prisoner of War Camps. The majority of his time was spent at Keijo, during which time he wrote several love letters home to his then fiancé, later wife, Katherine, and kept a journal of his, and his fellow prisoners', thoughts and experiences.


A page from Douglas's journal

A plan of the Jinsen Prisoner of War camp, Korea.

Douglas Ricketts firing an anti-aircraft gun

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Content owner: Museum Last updated: 07 Nov 2019 1:40pm

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