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