Sunday, April 27, 2008

Japanese Prisoners of War in India 1942-1945 By T.R. Sareen

An excellent book on a unknown topic, the Japanese POW's in India. During the Burma war the British took over 2,500 Japanese prisoners in the fighting from July 42 to August 1945. Sareen estimates the Japanese lost about 120,000 men KIA during the same time. It should be noted that 2/3 of the infantry in Burma were Indian and West African. The British made up only 1/3 of the actual fighting forces & in 3 years of fighting lost about 1/3 of KIA. Indian KIA - 10,000 vs. British 5,000. Sareen makes the following points:

1) Tojo codified the Japanese disdain for surrender in 1941. In summary, it forbade surrender, and anyone who surrendered and was returned to Japanese control would be "severely punished" with hard labor/execution. Former POW's would not be allowed to return to Japan . Further, their families would be dishonored and denied a pension. To avoid capture, wounded/sick Japanese were to commit suicide. If unable to do so, medical personnel were expected to kill them.

2) Almost half of all Japanese POW's were too sick/wounded to resist capture. These men did not truly surrender but were TAKEN captive against their will. Some were unconscious from sickness or concussion. The other half were voluntary surrenders. But even the voluntary surrenders were often sick, wounded, and suffering from exhaustion.

3) Few officers and no organized units surrendered. Almost all POW's were individuals or small disorganized groups.

4) Japanese soldiers would often fake surrender/request for medical aid and then blow up the allied soldier with a grenade. Other would use themselves as "bait". They would rise with their hands up and when allied soldiers stood up to receive their surrender, other Japanese troops would open fire. The result is British troops would often shoot wounded /sick Japanese troops rather then take them prisoner.

5) Japanese soldiers believed they would be tortured and executed when taken prisoner. Further, they often try to commit suicide - and even take a allied soldier with them. Accordingly, many died before they reached the POW camp.

6) Japanese soldiers would often give fake names when captured. Feeling disgraced, none of them tried to contact their families. Most felt they were Men without a country. As a result, they would cooperate and provide detailed information on Japanese positions, weapons, and organization.

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