The Cowra Break­out

Vision Magazine - - Destinations -

There was one de­ten­tion camp con­sist­ing of four com­pounds sit­u­ated in Cowra dur­ing World War 2. Many Ja­panese and Ital­ian prison­ers of war were held in these camps. But the cap­tive Ja­panese re­fused to ac­cept the hu­mil­i­a­tion of de­feat, and their un­will­ing­ness to sur­ren­der led them to stage a mass prison break­out. At 1:50am on 5th Au­gust 1944, more than 1,000 POW’S made a sui­ci­dal es­cape at­tempt, mak­ing it the largest and blood­i­est POW break­out in mod­ern mil­i­tary his­tory.

Armed with only crude weapons and blan­kets, coats and base­ball mitts as flimsy pro­tec­tion, a gi­ant wave of Ja­panese POW’S erupted out of prison and into the fir­ing line of the vick­ers ma­chine guns held by the guards. The fi­nal toll of the doomed break­out were 4 dead Aus­tralian guards, 107 Ja­panese prison­ers wounded and 231 prison­ers dead, some of whom had taken their own lives. It took nine days to re­cap­ture and re­turn those who es­caped the camp.

A long and flour­ish­ing re­la­tion­ship be­tween Aus­tralia and Ja­pan was born out of this tragedy. The Cowra­japanese Gar­den and Cul­tural Cen­tre was es­tab­lished 35 years af­ter the break­out as a pow­er­ful sym­bol of peace and rec­on­cil­i­a­tion. The Ja­panese govern­ment de­cided in 1960 to bring all of their war dead from all over Aus­tralia to be re-buried at Cowra. A Ja­panese war ceme­tery was built to honour the dead at the site, and is the only ceme­tery of its kind in Aus­tralia.

越獄事件

那一年,二戰結束之際,澳洲軍艦將幾千名被俘軍人從亞洲戰場運回澳洲,並關押在地處考拉的戰俘集中營。戰俘主要是日本人、意大利人和日籍台灣人。他們悠閒地生活在集中營裡等待著戰敗國的認領。

但對於日本人來說,被俘是一種無顏面對祖國的恥辱,他們寧願犧牲在戰場上。

1944 年 8 月 5日凌晨,皓月當空,1,104名日本戰俘突然發起一場當代軍事史上最大的集體越獄行動,他們手持木棍等粗製的「武器」,在狂叫聲中,以「自殺式襲擊」勇敢地撲向有刺的鐵絲網和機槍射擊區域。他們僅有的掩護是棒球套、毛毯和大衣,情急之中的澳洲守衛士兵用機槍掃射都無法阻止日本士兵一心赴死的決心,他們前仆後繼,用一層層的血肉之軀架起一座翻越鐵絲網的人牆,並攀上崗亭徒手殺了澳洲機關槍手,最終三百五十多名戰俘越獄成功。

但九天之後,所有逃犯全部被抓回營地。整個事件中,共有107名日本戰俘受傷,231名戰俘和4名澳大利亞士兵喪生。

The Cowra-ja­panese Gar­den and Cul­tural Cen­tre was es­tab­lished 35 years af­ter the break­out as a pow­er­ful sym­bol of peace and rec­on­cil­i­a­tion.

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