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Jinsen (Inchon) POW Camp in Chosen Korea

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Jinsen (Inchon) POW Camp in Chosen, Korea

Location:

The Jinsen Camp was located on the outskirts of Jinsen, the Japanese for the seaport city of Inchon, about 30 miles S.W. of Keijo, (Seoul), the capital.  In 1910 the Japanese government had formally annexed Korea after centuries of Chinese and Mongol domination and occupied the country until the end of World War II.  During that period they referred to the Korean peninsula as "Chosen."  According to the U.S. Military Intelligence the camp was near the Daijingu Shrine in Eastern Park in the Southeast section of the city about 400 yards from the railroad station.

Prisoner Personnel:

On August 16, 1942, a party of 885 British and 115 Australian POWs designated Japan "B" Party left the Changi POW camp and sailed from Singapore to Chosen (Korea).  Upon arrival  later in August they were interned at camps located in Keijo (Seoul) and Fuzan (Pusan) in addition to the Jinsen (Inchon) Camp.  According to Japanese records 252 Allied POWs were interned at the Jinsen camp in October 1944.  The first American POWs arrived at Jinsen camp on April 27, 1945 having been transferred from Fukuoka Camp No. 1 near the city of Kashii a short distance from the city of Fukuoka, Japan.  This group of 140 POWs consisted of 114 Army, Navy and Marine Officers and 26 enlisted men most of whom had been captured after the fall of Bataan and enlisted men most of whom had been captured after the fall of Bataan and Corregidor.  The Jinsen camp was known as an Officer's camp and only sufficient enlisted men were interned there to perform the menial duties.  Some of these Americans had been survivors of the ill-fated "Hellship" Oryoku Maru which had been sunk by American Navy bombers from the USS Hornet on Dec. 15, 1944 while leaving Subic Bay inthe Philippines with the loss of several hundred lives.  Lt. Col. Curtis Beecher, USMC, the C.O. of the 1st Battalion of the 4th Marine Regiment captured on Corregidor and later the POW commander at Cabanatuan camp was the senior American Officer and Lt. Col. Jack W. Schwartz, MD, was the Medical Officer with Major Allen Steele, R.A. representing the British POWs at Jinsen Camp.

Prior to the liberation of the Jinsen POW camp on September 8, 1945 two of the American Officers had died leaving 138 Americans and 30 Allied P.O.W.s for a total of 168 freed.  Many of the original British and Australian POWs had been transferred in 1945 to the P.O.W. camp in Hoten, China.

Japanese Guard Personnel

 The camp Commandant was Lt. Col. Okazaki and Captain Osabe was the Executive Officer and Adjutant.  Lt. Yamaguchi was the Medical Officer until he was relieved by the C.O. on July 5, 1945.  He was succeeded by M/Sgt. Sumi.  Lt. Yamaguchi was said to be disinterested in the POW's health and released the already meager medicines and medical supplies in very limited quantities.  The camp interpreter was J. Kitaoka.  The camp guards were both Japanese and Korean soldiers.

 Camp Facilities:

The camp compound was about 600' X 300" or slightly larger than 4 acres and was surrounded by a wooden fence topped with electrically charged barbed wire.  Within the camp there was a small vegetable garden which the POWs cultivated.  Only a small portion of the camp compound was available to the POWs.  The camp consisted of several one story Japanese Army
barracks and other buildings fenced off from the rest of the camp.  The barracks were approximately 50 feet wide by 150 feet long of wooden frame and tar-papered roof.  These were divided into three sections and had a dirt floor.  The POWs slept on raised wooden platforms with straw mats about 18" from the floor.  They ran down both sides of the wall leaving an aisle in the middle.  The heating facilities consisted of oblong brick stoves which could burn coal or wood but now fuel was provided.  Latrines were located about 15 feet from the barracks.  There was a 2 room bath house in a separate building about 30 feet from the barracks. The prisoners were allowed to bathe frequently and hot and cold water was provided.