Orbital Studies Documentary Log

(Searched “japanese pow camps ww2” into youtube, first result (45 minutes, but only video actually about Japanese camps specfically [Several go for 55-70 minutes, but describe German camps])

This is a documentary made about a man named Alistair Urquhart, who survived not one, but two full experiences in Japanese labor and POW camps. Alistair was first captured defending the city of Singapore from the relentless Japanese invasion. His first camp experience wasn’t terrible among other accounts, just humiliating, as Alistair would describe. However, this would soon change, as he and many other prisoners were going to be sent to another Japanese camp, with fair work and good food. Their train ride in carriages stuffed with 30 people each, with the walls at over 100 degrees F., made just the journey “hell”. Then, the prisoners were forced on a death march through the jungle to the camp, which wasn’t even built, so that the prisoners had to build their shelter. When they finished, they soon set out to help in the building of the Burma-Thailand Railway. He was soon assigned to work on a bridge (which he helped sabotage), and after defending himself from a guard to was sexually harassing him, he was put into what the camp called “The Black Hole”, a bamboo cage surrounded with darkened metal, that starved and scorched the prisoner inside. He barely survived 7 days and nights of this treatment. Finally, his experience in this camp ended when he was moved to a hospital camp, and then moved onto a ship to go to recently abondoned Japanese factories to fill in for the workers who had just left to fight against the US Army. Along the way, a US submarine had spotted this ship, and torpedoed the ship, which forced Alistair and the prisoners to swim for their lives away from the ship. He made it to a life raft, where he somehow survived for days without food or water, burning by day, freezing by night, all alone, until he was finally picked up, but by another Japanese ship. He was then transported to a camp just outside of Nagasaki. The time was late 1945. Then, one day while Alistair was cleaning out the Japanese latrines, the second atomic bomb detonated in Nagasaki. The war ended shortly after. This account, by all means, is a miracle. Yet, like other survivor stories, it shares two common traits or circumstances. One is the consistant urge to focus on surviving today, shown very repeatedly in this documentary. The other is the series of transitions made as a prisoner that would take them away from the staged executions, whether it be through disease or physical damage. Yet again, the brutality of the Japanese treatment of prisoners again. In a statistic that I had heard repeatedly throughout these accounts and records, the average mortality rate of Japanese POW’s was approximately 25%. In Germany, that percentage was only 4%.  


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