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The FEpow story

'When you go home,
tell them of us and say,
for your tomorrow,
we gave our today'.

The words in the famous Kohima Epitaph

FEPOWs were prisoners on the Thai/Burma railway, the Sumatra railway, the Sandakan Death Marches, in copper mines in Formosa, steel factories in Japan, building roads in Burma, air strips on Ambon, Haruka, Java, Rabaul, New Guinea and the Solomons. Also, thousands died battened down in holds on the 'Hell ships'. 

Many of the Far East prisoners were civilian internees and their story should also be told and remembered. But thousands survived to return and for them the suffering continued for years after and many of our members bear testament to their fathers' constant nightmares and recurring illnesses.

Interactive Map of The Conflicts in The Far East

The Conflicts in The Far East

Click on the map pins to reveal information

Thai/Burma Railway

The notorious Burma-Siam railway, built by British, Australian, Dutch and American prisoners of war, was a Japanese project inspired by the need for improved communications to maintain the large Japanese Armv in Burma. During its construction more than 16 ,000 prisoners of war died - mainly of sickness, malnutrition and exhaustion - and were buried along the railway.

More Info →

Sinagpore - Changi Jail

Changi prison itself and its bleak stone cold cells designed to take 800 prisoners, became the home of the, mainly white, civilian internees - 3000 men and 400 women and children. For two years they endured nightmares and brutality within the prison's stone walls until May 1944 when they were ordered out and given a change of residence.

More Info →

Sumatra Railway

The railway line built by Dutch, English and Australian prisoners of war and by press-ganged Javanese slave labour (Romushas) through marshy forest of central Sumatra under orders from Japanese occupiers had taken a toll in human lives of nearly seven hundred whites and of probably more than 10,000 people altogether.

More Info →

Java Camps

On March 7th 1943, three weeks after Singapore fell, the Dutch also capitulated and Java was surrendered to the Japanese. Of those taken prisoner, 3000 were mainly British and Australian combined forces. Initially many prisoners were taken to an assembly point at Garoet, the centre of Java before being sent by rail to different internment camps that had been set up.After two or three weeks at Garoet, many of the troops were then herded onto decrepit and antiquated old trains bound for Tandjong Priok, which they had left some weeks earlier, when they first arrived in Java.

More Info →

Spice Islands Camps

One of the major tragedies amongst the horrific stories of the Far East prisoners of war in Japanese hands during the Second World War is that of the drafts from Java to the Molucca Archipelago or 'Spice Islands'. My father, Flight Sergeant Eric "Johnny" Johnston, was in one of these parties - a large group whose destination was the tiny island of Haruku (Haroekoe) just east of Ambon and it is this draft that is described in the following.

More Info →

Sandakan 'Death Marches'

At Sandakan very sick Australian, British, Dutch and American servicemen were forced onto several marches carried out by the Japanese. The reason behind moving the men from one camp to another was attributed to the Japanese knowing that the Allies were moving in and were expected to land at Kuching and moving the prisoners prevented them from being liberated.

More Info →

Bataan 'Death Marches'

The Bataan Death March was the aggressive transfer of 60,000–80,000 Filipino and American prisoners of war from Saisaih Point and Mariveles to Camp O'Donnell, Capas, Tarlac, via San Fernando, Pampanga, by the Japanese Army.

Hong Kong Camps

POWs were held captive on Hong Kong for nine long months. Then on 25th September 1942, 1,816 British prisoners were gathered at the Shamshuipo Camp. They were told they were being taken to a better place, a better camp (the same story was told to thousands of men who were to leave Changi Jail, Singapore for Thailand).

More Info →

Formosa (Taiwan) Camps

Many of the prisoners who were ordered to surrender in Singapore on 15th February 1942 eventually found themselves on Formosa and working as slaves down copper mines. After the capitulation and a month spent in Changi Jail, a large number were moved, on the 13th March, to the River Valley Camp where they were held until October 1942. This whole camp was then cleared and the prisoners, mostly British, were taken to the docks to embark on a ship for Formosa - the "Dai Nichi Maru".

More Info →

Japan - Over 150 Camps

The camps in Japan were widely distributed over six main areas, each saturated with prison camps and usually attached to some industry or near the wharves and large ports. In the north was Hakodate and in the south, Fukuoka and Hiroshima and in the central areas could be found Osaka, Sendai, Tokyo and Nagoya.

More Info →

Thai/Burma Railway

The notorious Burma-Siam railway, built by British, Australian, Dutch and American prisoners of war, was a Japanese project inspired by the need for improved communications to maintain the large Japanese Armv in Burma. During its construction more than 16 ,000 prisoners of war died - mainly of sickness, malnutrition and exhaustion - and were buried along the railway.

Singapore - Changi Jail

Changi prison itself and its bleak stone cold cells designed to take 800 prisoners, became the home of the, mainly white, civilian internees - 3000 men and 400 women and children. For two years they endured nightmares and brutality within the prison's stone walls until May 1944 when they were ordered out and given a change of residence.

Sumatra Railway

The railway line built by Dutch, English and Australian prisoners of war and by press-ganged Javanese slave labour (Romushas) through marshy forest of central Sumatra under orders from Japanese occupiers had taken a toll in human lives of nearly seven hundred whites and of probably more than 10,000 people altogether.

Sandakan 'Death Marches'

At Sandakan very sick Australian, British, Dutch and American servicemen were forced onto several marches carried out by the Japanese. The reason behind moving the men from one camp to another was attributed to the Japanese knowing that the Allies were moving in and were expected to land at Kuching and moving the prisoners prevented them from being liberated.

Formosa (Taiwan) Camps

Many of the prisoners who were ordered to surrender in Singapore on 15th February 1942 eventually found themselves on Formosa and working as slaves down copper mines. After the capitulation and a month spent in Changi Jail, a large number were moved, on the 13th March, to the River Valley Camp where they were held until October 1942. This whole camp was then cleared and the prisoners, mostly British, were taken to the docks to embark on a ship for Formosa - the "Dai Nichi Maru".

Hong Kong Camps

POWs were held captive on Hong Kong for nine long months. Then on 25th September 1942, 1,816 British prisoners were gathered at the Shamshuipo Camp. They were told they were being taken to a better place, a better camp (the same story was told to thousands of men who were to leave Changi Jail, Singapore for Thailand).

Japan - Over 150 Camps

The camps in Japan were widely distributed over six main areas, each saturated with prison camps and usually attached to some industry or near the wharves and large ports. In the north was Hakodate and in the south, Fukuoka and Hiroshima and in the central areas could be found Osaka, Sendai, Tokyo and Nagoya.

Java Camps

On March 7th 1943, three weeks after Singapore fell, the Dutch also capitulated and Java was surrendered to the Japanese. Of those taken prisoner, 3000 were mainly British and Australian combined forces. Initially many prisoners were taken to an assembly point at Garoet, the centre of Java before being sent by rail to different internment camps that had been set up.After two or three weeks at Garoet, many of the troops were then herded onto decrepit and antiquated old trains bound for Tandjong Priok, which they had left some weeks earlier, when they first arrived in Java.

Bataan 'Death Marches'

The Bataan Death March was the aggressive transfer of 60,000–80,000 Filipino and American prisoners of war from Saisaih Point and Mariveles to Camp O'Donnell, Capas, Tarlac, via San Fernando, Pampanga, by the Japanese Army.

Spice Islands Camps

One of the major tragedies amongst the horrific stories of the Far East prisoners of war in Japanese hands during the Second World War is that of the drafts from Java to the Molucca Archipelago or 'Spice Islands'. My father, Flight Sergeant Eric "Johnny" Johnston, was in one of these parties - a large group whose destination was the tiny island of Haruku (Haroekoe) just east of Ambon and it is this draft that is described in the following.