August 5th, 2002


Cowra, August 5, 1944

"On Friday, 4 August 1944, in accordance with the Geneva Convention, notice was given of a transfer of all Japanese below the rank of lance corporal from Cowra POW Camp B to Hay POW Camp on Monday, 7 August. At approximately 0150 hours on Saturday 5 August 1944, an unauthorised bugle call was heard in Camp B and immediately thereafter upwards of nine hundred prisoners of war rushed with loud shouts from their huts and attacked the fences of their compound. Large parties of them broke through the fence on the perimeter of the camp in two places. Another party broke through the fence separating their compound from an internal camp road. Before rushing from their huts the prisoners of war set fire to them. The Japanese had armed themselves with a large assortment of weapons, including knives, among them more than 1,000 mess knives many of which had been specially prepared for use as weapons of offence by being ground down, pointed and sharpened or serrated. One group attacked and killed the two Australian crew of a Vickers gun outside the camp. During the ensuing 9 days, 334 escaped prisoners of war were retaken, of whom 25 were dead. 0f these latter 11 were found hanging from trees, 2 had committed suicide by placing themselves before a railway train, and others bore signs of having been stabbed by the knives carried by the Japanese. In all 231 Japanese were killed and 108 were wounded. 1 Australian officer was killed and 3 Australian other ranks were killed and four wounded. Privates Ben Hardy and Ralph Jones who were killed manning their Vickers machine gun were posthumously awarded the George Cross. "

War Memorial Article.

This happened in a town 2 hours down the road. The dead were given a traditional bural, and the Japanese gave the town a garden. The remains of the camp can still be visited. The site is under the Commonwealth War Graves commission.
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