This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations . (April 2009) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
Cowra POW Camp, 1 July 1944. Japanese POWs practicing baseball near their quarters, several weeks before the Cowra breakout. The photograph was taken for the Allied Far Eastern Liaison Office, with the intention of using it in propaganda leaflets, to be dropped over Japanese held islands and Japan itself.
|Date||5 August 1944|
|Location||Near Cowra, New South Wales, Australia|
|Outcome||~545 Japanese POWs escape|
The Cowra breakout occurred on 5 August 1944, when at least 1,104 Japanese prisoners of war attempted to escape from a prisoner of war camp near Cowra, in New South Wales, Australia. It was the largest prison escape of World War II, as well as one of the bloodiest. During the escape and ensuing manhunt, four Australian soldiers and 231 Japanese soldiers were killed. The remaining escapees were captured and imprisoned.
The Empire of Japan was the historical nation-state and great power that existed from the Meiji Restoration in 1868 to the enactment of the 1947 constitution of modern Japan.
Cowra is a town in the Central West region of New South Wales, Australia. It is the largest population centre and the council seat for the Cowra Shire, with a population of 10,063.
New South Wales is a state on the east coast of Australia. It borders Queensland to the north, Victoria to the south, and South Australia to the west. Its coast borders the Tasman Sea to the east. The Australian Capital Territory is an enclave within the state. New South Wales' state capital is Sydney, which is also Australia's most populous city. In March 2018, the population of New South Wales was over 7.9 million, making it Australia's most populous state. Just under two-thirds of the state's population, 5.1 million, live in the Greater Sydney area. Inhabitants of New South Wales are referred to as New South Welshmen.
Cowra, a farming district 314 km (195 mi) due west of Sydney, was the town nearest to No. 12 Prisoner of War Compound, a major POW camp, where 4,000 Axis military personnel and civilians were detained. The prisoners at Cowra also included 2,000 Italians, Koreans who had served in the Japanese military, and Indonesian civilians detained at the request of the Dutch East Indies government.
Sydney is the state capital of New South Wales and the most populous city in Australia and Oceania. Located on Australia's east coast, the metropolis surrounds Port Jackson and extends about 70 km (43.5 mi) on its periphery towards the Blue Mountains to the west, Hawkesbury to the north, the Royal National Park to the south and Macarthur to the south-west. Sydney is made up of 658 suburbs, 40 local government areas and 15 contiguous regions. Residents of the city are known as "Sydneysiders". As of June 2017, Sydney's estimated metropolitan population was 5,131,326, and is home to approximately 65% of the state's population.
The Axis powers, also known as "Rome–Berlin–Tokyo Axis", were the nations that fought in World War II against the Allies. The Axis powers agreed on their opposition to the Allies, but did not completely coordinate their activity.
Korea is a region in East Asia. Since 1948, it has been divided between two distinct sovereign states: North Korea and South Korea. Korea consists of the Korean Peninsula, Jeju Island, and several minor islands near the peninsula. Korea is bordered by China to the northwest, Russia to the northeast, and neighbours Japan to the east by the Korea Strait and the Sea of Japan.
By August 1944, there were 2,223 Japanese POWs in Australia, including 544 merchant seamen. There were 14,720 Italian prisoners, the majority of whom had been captured in the North African Campaign, and 1,585 Germans, mostly naval or merchant seamen.[ citation needed ]
The Kingdom of Italy was a state which existed from 1861—when King Victor Emmanuel II of Sardinia was proclaimed King of Italy—until 1946—when a constitutional referendum led civil discontent to abandon the monarchy and form the modern Italian Republic. The state was founded as a result of the unification of Italy under the influence of the Kingdom of Sardinia, which can be considered its legal predecessor state.
The North African Campaign of the Second World War took place in North Africa from 10 June 1940 to 13 May 1943. It included campaigns fought in the Libyan and Egyptian deserts and in Morocco and Algeria, as well as Tunisia.
Nazi Germany is the common English name for Germany between 1933 and 1945, when Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party (NSDAP) controlled the country through a dictatorship. Under Hitler's rule, Germany was transformed into a totalitarian state that controlled nearly all aspects of life via the Gleichschaltung legal process. The official name of the state was Deutsches Reich until 1943 and Großdeutsches Reich from 1943 to 1945. Nazi Germany is also known as the Third Reich, meaning "Third Realm" or "Third Empire", the first two being the Holy Roman Empire (800–1806) and the German Empire (1871–1918). The Nazi regime ended after the Allies defeated Germany in May 1945, ending World War II in Europe.
Although the POWs were treated in accordance with the 1929 Geneva Convention, relations between the Japanese POWs and the guards were poor, due largely to significant cultural differences.[ citation needed ] A riot by Japanese POWs at Featherston prisoner of war camp in New Zealand, in February 1943, led to security being tightened at Cowra.[ citation needed ]
The Geneva Convention (1929) was signed at Geneva, July 27, 1929. Its official name is the Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War, Geneva July 27, 1929. It entered into force 19 June 1931. It is this version of the Geneva Conventions which covered the treatment of prisoners of war during World War II. It is the predecessor of the Third Geneva Convention signed in 1949.
Featherston prisoner of war camp was a camp for captured Japanese soldiers during World War II at Featherston, New Zealand, notorious for a 1943 incident in which 48 Japanese and one New Zealander were killed. The camp had been established during World War I as a military training camp and had also been used as an internment camp from 1918 to 1920, when 14 German internees remained there.
Eventually the camp authorities installed several Vickers and Lewis machine guns to augment the rifles carried by the members of the Australian Militia's 22nd Garrison Battalion, which was composed mostly of old or disabled veterans or young men considered physically unfit for frontline service.[ citation needed ]
The Vickers machine gun or Vickers gun is a name primarily used to refer to the water-cooled .303 British (7.7 mm) machine gun produced by Vickers Limited, originally for the British Army. The machine gun typically required a six to eight-man team to operate: one fired, one fed the ammunition, the rest helped to carry the weapon, its ammunition, and spare parts. It was in service from before the First World War until the 1960s, with air-cooled versions of it on many Allied World War I fighter aircraft.
A rifle is a portable, long-barrelled firearm designed for long-range precision shooting, to be held with both hands and braced against the shoulder for stability during firing, and with a barrel that has a helical pattern of grooves ("rifling") cut into the bore walls. The term was originally rifled gun, with the word "rifle" referring to the machining process of creating grooving with cutting tools, and is now used for any long handheld device designed for aimed discharge activated by a trigger, such as air rifles and the personnel halting and stimulation response rifle. Rifles are used in warfare, law enforcement, hunting and shooting sports.
This section needs additional citations for verification . (March 2019) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
In the first week of August 1944, a tip-off from an informer at Cowra led authorities to plan a move of all Japanese POWs at Cowra, except officers and NCOs, to another camp at Hay, New South Wales, some 400 km (250 mi) to the west. The Japanese were notified of the move on 4 August.
A non-commissioned officer (NCO) is a military officer who has not earned a commission. Non-commissioned officers usually obtain their position of authority by promotion through the enlisted ranks. In contrast, commissioned officers hold higher ranks than NCOs, have more legal responsibilities, are paid more, and often have more non-military training such as a university diploma. Commissioned officers usually earn their commissions without having risen through the enlisted ranks.
Hay is a town in the western Riverina region of south western New South Wales, Australia. It is the administrative centre of Hay Shire local government area and the centre of a prosperous and productive agricultural district on the wide Hay Plains.
In the words of historian Gavin Long, the following night:
At about 2 a.m. a Japanese ran to the camp gates and shouted what seemed to be a warning to the sentries. Then a Japanese bugle sounded. A sentry fired a warning shot. More sentries fired as three mobs of prisoners, shouting " Banzai ", began breaking through the wire, one mob on the northern side, one on the western and one on the southern. They flung themselves across the wire with the help of blankets. They were armed with knives, baseball bats, clubs studded with nails and hooks, wire stilettos and garotting cords.
The bugler, Hajime Toyoshima, had been Australia’s first Japanese prisoner of the war.Soon afterwards, prisoners set most of the buildings in the Japanese compound on fire.
Within minutes of the start of the breakout attempt, Privates Ben Hardy and Ralph Jones manned the No. 2 Vickers machine-gun and began firing into the first wave of escapees. They were soon overwhelmed by a wave of Japanese prisoners who had breached the lines of barbed wire fences. Before dying, Private Hardy managed to remove and throw away the gun's bolt, rendering the gun useless. This prevented the prisoners from turning the machine gun against the guards.
Some 359 POWs escaped, while some others attempted or committed suicide, or were killed by their countrymen. Some of those who did escape also committed suicide to avoid recapture. All the survivors were recaptured within 10 days of their breakout.
This section needs additional citations for verification . (March 2019) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
During the escape and subsequent round-up of POWs, four Australian soldiers and 231 Japanese soldiers were killed and 108 prisoners were wounded. The leaders of the breakout ordered the escapees not to attack Australian civilians, and none were killed or injured.
The government conducted an official inquiry into the events. Its conclusions were read to the Australian House of Representatives by Curtin on 8 September 1944. Among the findings were:
Privates Hardy and Jones were posthumously awarded the George Cross as a result of their actions.
Australia continued to operate No. 12 Camp until the last Japanese and Italian prisoners were repatriated in 1947.
Cowra maintains a significant Japanese war cemetery. In addition, a commemorative Japanese garden was later built on Bellevue Hill to memorialize these events. The garden was designed by Ken Nakajima in the style of the Edo period.
A prisoner of war (POW) is a person, whether combatant or non-combatant, who is held in custody by a belligerent power during or immediately after an armed conflict. The earliest recorded usage of the phrase "prisoner of war" dates to 1660.
A prisoner-of-war camp is a site for the containment of enemy combatants captured by a belligerent power in time of war.
Stalag Luft III was a Luftwaffe-run prisoner of war (POW) camp during the Second World War, which held captured Western Allied air force personnel.
Hugh Vincent Clarke was an Australian soldier, public servant and author, specialising in military history.
The Selarang Barracks incident, also known as the Barrack Square incident or the Selarang Square Squeeze, was a revolt of British and Australian prisoners-of-war (POWs) interned in a Japanese camp in Changi, Singapore.
The Raid at Ožbalt was an operation on 31 August 1944 in which 105 Allied prisoners of war (POWs) were rescued by Slovene Partisans. The majority were liberated from a work site at the village of Ožbalt about 25 kilometres (16 mi) west of Maribor on the railway line to Dravograd in the German Reichsgau Steiermark (Styria), now part of modern-day northern Slovenia. Six of the liberated POWs were separated from the group during an engagement with the Germans a few days after their liberation, but following a 14-day trek across 250 kilometres (160 mi) they were flown out of a Partisan airfield at Semič to Bari, Italy. The successful escapees consisted of eight Frenchmen, nine New Zealanders, 12 Australians, and 70 British POWs.
Benjamin Gower Hardy, GC, known as Ben Hardy, was an Australian soldier who was posthumously awarded the George Cross for the gallantry he showed when Japanese prisoners of war staged an escape on 5 August 1944 in Cowra, New South Wales.
Ralph Jones, GC was an English-born Australian soldier who was posthumously awarded the George Cross for the gallantry he showed when Japanese prisoners of war staged an escape attempt on 5 August 1944 in Cowra, New South Wales.
The Sarposa prison is a high security prison in Kandahar, Afghanistan, used to hold Taliban militants and other criminals including drug traffickers. The prison has been subject to two major escapes, first in a coordinated attack in May 2008, and more recently in a tunneling escape that occurred in April 2011.
During World War II, it has been estimated that between 19,500 and 50,000 members of the Imperial Japanese military surrendered to Western Allied combatants prior to the end of the Pacific War in August 1945. Soviet troops seized and imprisoned more than half a million Japanese troops and civilians in China and other places. The number of Japanese soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen who surrendered was limited by the Japanese military indoctrinating its personnel to fight to the death, Allied troops often being unwilling to take prisoners, and many Japanese soldiers believing that those who surrendered would be killed by their captors.
Sergeant Hajime Toyoshima was a Japanese airman in World War II. His A6M Zero was the first of that type to be recovered relatively intact on Allied territory when he crash landed on Melville Island, Northern Territory, Australia. Toyoshima was the first Japanese prisoner of war to be captured in Australia. While a prisoner of war, Toyoshima was one of the instigators of the breakout from the prisoner of war camp located in Cowra, New South Wales, Australia, sounding a bugle to signal the commencement of the escape and died during the escape attempt.
The Stalag Luft III murders were war crimes perpetrated by members of the Gestapo following the "Great Escape" of Allied prisoners of war from the German Air Force prison camp known as Stalag Luft III on March 25, 1944. Of a total of 76 successful escapees, 73 were recaptured, mostly within several days of the breakout, 50 of whom were executed on the personal orders of Adolf Hitler. These summary executions were conducted within a short period of recapture.
The Palawan massacre occurred on 14 December 1944, during World War II, near the city of Puerto Princesa in the Philippine province of Palawan. Allied soldiers, imprisoned near the city, were killed by Imperial Japanese soldiers.
The Cowra Breakout is a 1985 Australian mini series based on the Cowra breakout, focusing on the friendship between an Australian soldier and Japanese prisoner.
The Sandakan camp, also known as Sandakan POW Camp, was a prisoner-of-war camp established during World War II by the Japanese in Sandakan in the Malaysian state of Sabah. This site has gained notoriety as the Sandakan Death Marches started from here. Now, part of the former site houses the Sandakan Memorial Park.
Cowra Prisoner of War Camp Site is a heritage-listed former prisoner-of-war camp at Evans Street, Cowra, Cowra Shire, New South Wales, Australia. The camp was built from 1941 to 1944. It was the location of the infamous Cowra breakout in 1944. The property is owned by the Cowra Shire Council. It was added to the New South Wales State Heritage Register on 2 April 1999.