In August 1944, 1104 Japanese prisoners of war at the Australian POW camp at Cowra stage a mass breakout. Four guards are killed in the escape, and 231 prisoners die by wounds sustained or ... See full summary »
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1984  

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Cast

Series cast summary:
...
 Stan Davidson (5 episodes, 1984)
Dennis Miller ...
 Mick Murphy (5 episodes, 1984)
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Storyline

In August 1944, 1104 Japanese prisoners of war at the Australian POW camp at Cowra stage a mass breakout. Four guards are killed in the escape, and 231 prisoners die by wounds sustained or suicide, while 334 prisoners are recaptured over the subsequent nine days. Written by Chris Hartcher <hartcher@ozemail.com.au>

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A Powerful Drama of Men and Ideals at War See more »

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Action | Drama | War

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1984 (Australia)  »

Also Known As:

Breakout  »

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(10 episodes)

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(archive footage)|
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Trivia

This mini-series' closing epilogue states: "On 2nd March 1946, the Japanese ship Daikai Maru steamed out of Sydney Harbour carrying the surviving Cowra prisoners. Three weeks late they disembarked onto an empty wharf in Japan and disappeared into Japanese society. Many have never told their friends, their wives or their children that they were prisoners-of-war [POWs]. Today the 4 Australians and 231 Japanese who died in the breakout lie buried in the War Cemetery at Cowra. In [a] field nearby, cattle graze amongst the ruins of the [Cowra Word War II] Prisoner-of-War Camp." See more »

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User Reviews

 
Cowra Breakout was Iconic Incident WWII. This Movie is Inadequate.
8 July 2006 | by (Sydney, Australia) – See all my reviews

For all that it could have been, this movie is a failure. It fails to adequately explore prisoner motivations or experience or provide a corporate insight into how war time Australia felt or behaved.

August 5 1944, over two years since a break out at Featherstone NZ led to increased security, over 545 Japanese soldiers stormed a machine gun nest and wandered around outback NSW before surrendering. An estimated 234 died and 108 were wounded.

Historian Gavin Long recorded "At about 2 a.m. a Japanese ran to the camp gates and shouted what seemed to be a warning to the sentries. Then a Japanese bugle sounded. A sentry fired a warning shot. More sentries fired as three mobs of prisoners, shouting "Banzai", began breaking through the wire, one mob on the northern side, one on the western and one on the southern. They flung themselves across the wire with the help of blankets. They were armed with knives, baseball bats, clubs studded with nails and hooks, wire stilettos and garroting cords"

The authorities had been tipped off regarding the outbreak, and the Japanese were to be transported to Hay when they fled.

Japanese soldiers were unlikely to have committed ritual suicide over the disgrace of capture, rather, they had been told to expect torture and camp conditions equivalent to Allied detainees in Burma etc. It is known that treatment of Japanese (Italian and German) prisoners had been humane. It is possible individual events might not uniformly express the humanity .. machine gunning the breakout was not the finest moment in Australian History of detainment.


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