Taiwan POW Camp Memorial Service honors US pilots held during Japan rule
Seventy years ago, on June 19, fourteen U.S. soldiers who were being held at Taipei Prison under Japanese colonial rule were executed. Seventy years later, the founder and director of the Taiwan POW Camps Memorial Society ( ) Michael Hurst has introduced a memorial service in commemoration of those killed at POW camps during the period of Japanese rule.
On June 19 this year, Hurst was joined by American Institute in Taiwan Deputy Director Brent Christensen, British Office Taipei delegate Chris Wood, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Department of Protocol Director-General Larry R.L. Tseng, an Australian Office Taipei delegate and representatives of Air Force Command Headquarters of the Ministry of National Defense.
They were guided to the former execution grounds, which are now a modern garden located in the Chunghwa Telecom (CT, ) Taipei headquarters, by CT staff as it is normally a restricted area.
Standing amid the concrete company offices is a three-meter long brick wall, one of the few remaining parts of the Taipei Prison. It is now preserved by law as a historic site.
Fourteen wooden crosses with the victims’ names written on them were placed in a row, leaning against the fence. Amazing Grace was played on bagpipes while participants placed red poppy chains in front of the crosses to serve as a symbol of remembrance for those who fought and helped in the war.
Before the Japanese Surrender
According to Hurst, more than 30 U. S. Air Force pilots were held captive by the Japanese colonial government in 1945. Fourteen were charged with “bombing civilians,” and then executed after a secret trial.
Two months later, the Japanese government surrendered to the Allied powers. Another eleven foreign pilots also held at Taipei Prison were able to escape and return home.
During World War II, the Japanese colonial government set up 16 POW camps in Taiwan, reportedly imprisoning more than 4,000 prisoners, including highranking commanders from UK, the U.S. and the Netherlands, namely U. S. army officer and Commander of the Allied Forces of the Philippines Jonathan Mayhew Wainwright IV, British General Officer Commanding Malaya Arthur Ernest Percival and Sir Mark Aitchison Young, a British administrator who became the governor of Hong Kong.
Hurst added to his speech that the famous Hakka revolutionary Luo Fuxing was also executed by Japanese authorities here in the Taipei Prison.