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 »
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 <email@example.com>
Cowra Breakout was Iconic Incident WWII. This Movie is Inadequate.
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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