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Some of the Japanese Camps in which Norwegians were held

Tokyo area: Shinagawa, Omori, Yokohama (12), Ofuna. (There were several camps in the Tokyo area).
Osaka area: Kobe (12), Osaka (9).
There were also Norwegian prisoners at: Aomori (far up north of Honshu, possibly spelt Amori), Hitachi, Rokuroshi, Zentsuji (on Shikoku), Omuta and Nagasaki (4) - (on Kyushu), Sendai.
There were also Norwegians in camps in the Philippines.

Other pages on this website related to the text on this page:
Merchant Marine Prisoners of War - Lists the names of the seamen held in Japan and Singapore as well as other places.
Life in Imprisonment - Describes daily life at Ofuna, Omori, Changi, Sime Road and others.
Santo Tomas Documents - Includes a camp newspaper.


OMORI was located half way between Tokyo and Yokohama. The full name of this camp was Tokyo POW Camp Omori-ku Iriarai Kila. It was set up on an artificial island in Tokyo bay, connected to the Tokyo-Yokohama road by a 200 meter long wooden bridge, sourrounded by the sea on all sides. The oval shaped island was about 75 meters long and 65 meters wide. Around the island was a tall bamboo fence with barbed wire attached to it. The prisoners' barracks were in the middle of the island, between the administration buildings and the soldiers' quarters (north) and the anti aircraft guns (south). Again, see my page "Life in Imprisonment" which provides some details on daily life at this camp as well as Camp Ofuna.

OFUNA was southwest of the center of Yokohama (Guri Hjeltnes says northwest, but this can't be right), and served as a "transit camp" where the kempei tai, the Japanese counterpart to the German Gestapo, interrogated the prisoners, often by the use of torture. It held about 400 prisoners.

OSAKA - Civilian Camp Osaka POW Camp No. 1 housed about 2000 prisoners and was located about 150 meters from the sea. About a third of the prisoners were British. Chinese and Indians were installed in a separate barracks. The rest were soldiers from the US Navy and Marines who had been captured on the Philippines.

SHINAGAWA was a labor camp just outside Tokyo, where the first prisoners were British and Americans from Singapore and the Philippines. After Omori had been established in 1943 ('42?), Shinagawa was converted into a "hospital" for prisoners of war. Today it's an industrial/business district and major railway station.

ZENTSUJI CAMP NO. 1 was opened on Jan 15-1941. Located on Shikoku it had about 750 prisoners, mostly Americans but also many British. The many well educated and resourceful prisoners saw to it that the days could be spent in a usefull manner, by giving lessons according to their field of expertise. An American from Oregon gave lessons in agriculture, others taught finance or geology, one of the Norwegians would give presentations on Norway and skiing etc. There were 5 priests in the camp, of different denominations, and sermons were held daily. The camp had a collection of about 3000 books from the International YMCA. Eventually this camp was nicknamed "Zentsuji College".


CHANGI POW CAMP was established after Singapore's fall on Febr. 15-1942, and was the main camp for the captured British forces. Located northwest on Singapore Island near the village of Changi it was the former British military station Changi Barracks, built by the British and therefore had the characteristic appearance of a British outpost in The Far East, with barracks and warehouses. This camp became the largest multinational POW camp, and a sort of a "distribution central" for all the prisoners in southeast Asia. At first there were 50 000 British and other Empire troops there, but very quickly work forces of several thousand men were recruited from Changi and sent to various projects on Sumatra, Burma, and Thailand (the Burma-Siam railway for instance) and other Japanese occupied territories. Due to the huge amount of prisoners the Japanese gave responsibility for the administration and daily running of this camp to prisoners; the guards were mostly Indians from the Indian National Army. The camp was in existence until May 31-1944, when military prisoners were transferred to Changi prison, while the about 3500 civilians were moved to Sime Road Camp.

CHANGI PRISON was located 4 kilometers further south (along the coast towards Singapore). This prison was built for the British by American engineers in the 1930's, using Sing-Sing as a model. It had 4 floors, 440 meters long X 110 yards wide, with walls and the roof made of concrete. In normal times the prison would house 800 prisoners but at one point during the war it had 8000. Among the female prisoners there was also a Norwegian widow and her 2 sons; her husband (Chief Engineer on M/S Hai Lee) had died in a motorcycle accident in Singapore and she struggled for 2 years to keep herself and her children alive while in imprisonment. Some details about this place can be found under "Life at Changi Prison" on my page Life in Imprisonment - Page 2

SIME ROAD CAMP was established in a park. The prisoners lived in cabins of varying sizes. By this time the food situation for the prisoners had gotten even worse. The Japanese saw a potential for food production at this camp and the prisoners were sent to cultivate some of the surrounding areas, among other places a golf course, and though the Japanese took most of the output, this must undoubtedly have helped the health situation somewhat (beri-beri and other diseases were rampant). The prisoners also had the opportunity to cultivate a small area outside their cabins, and this also provided some extra vitamins. By the summer of 1945 about 40 Norwegian citizens were interned at Sime Road Camp. Daily life at this camps is also described on my page "Life in Imprisonment".

The treatment received by prisoners in these camps is well known, so I won't go into that in detail here (see related links at the end of this page).

Related external link:
The Fall of Malaya and Singapore


SHAM SHUI PO was established after the English garrison capitulated. Norwegians who had participated with the British in the defence of Hong Kong were housed here with the British officers and soldiers.

STANLEY INTERNMENT CAMP held civilians. More will be added as info becomes available.

Related external link:
The Fall of Hong Kong
Battle of Hong Kong
Not the slightest chance
- The defence of Hong Kong. Includes a listing of each individual defender.

About 900 Norwegians ended up in about 100 different Japanese camps in Japan, Korea, Manchuria, Mongolia, China, Thailand, Malaya, Sumatra, Java, the Philippines and the Andaman Islands. A little under 400 were sailors, 134 of whom died of various causes; either in imprisonment, during transport on Japanese ships or shot in their lifeboats.

A female Salvation Army major became well known to prisoners in those days, not only to Norwegian prisoners but also to those of other nationalities. Her name was Gunvor Wilberg, and she worked tirelessly to improve life for the prisoners. She had lived on the Philippines for many years, and during the attack on Manila she got a hold of an old truck and drove out to the front with supplies to the soldiers, carrying a pass from General MacArthur himself. During the so-called death march, she was again able to bring both physical and moral comfort to many of the prisoners. The headquarters for the Salvation Army in the US received a thank you note from E. P. King Jr., requesting that his personal and heartfelt gratitude be conveyed to Miss Wilberg "for her efforts to improve conditions for my men during the unfortunate days following Apr. 9-1942. Even where her attempts were blocked by the Japanese I can assure you that her kindness did much to give the men new hope, and helped them endure the terrible march. Many survived who I believe would not have, had it not been for her efforts." Later, she smuggled in food and tobacco to the prisoners of Santo Tomas, and was able to pass on news and continue to give moral support. Her friend, Magnhild Bugge, who lived in Manila with her little son also helped out. Lise Lindbæk says her husband was interned after his ship was captured on Dec. 7-1941, but I believe this is an error. Her husband must have been the Anton Sofus Bugge who is listed under Proteus on my POW's page; this ship was scuttled on March 2-1942. Both women received Haakon VII's frihetskors. ("Tusen norske skip", Lise Lindbæk).

Some related external links for more information on the camps mentioned above:
List of ALL Japanese camps - Site for the Study of Guam and Allied POWS under the Japanese in World War II, which has links to more info on most of the camps mentioned at the top of this page. Here's the main page
Zentsuji POW Camp - includes a list of names of American, British and Dutch prisoners, location map, pictures etc. Brynjulv Baardson and Jens Kristian Jensen from Ravnaas are listed in the roster for this camp. This is a section of the above website, as are the next 4:
Rokuroshi - Also includes a roster where the 2 from Ravnaas are included.
Kobe House - with another roster including the 2 from Ravnaas.
Ofuna Interrogation center
Omori Tokyo Base Camp No. 1 - Includes a roster where 9 Norwegian seamen are listed with their POW number (from Alcides, Madrono, Kattegat).

Map of POW camps in Japan

Fukuoka POW Camp # 1 - Captain Karl Hjalmar Hansen of the Norwegian ship Scotia is included on a master roster for Kyushu POW camps on this page, along with a few other Norwegians, including Torvald Kibsgaard of the Norwegian William Strachan.

Japanese WWII  POW Camp Fukuoka #17 - Includes a roster.

Taiwan Camps - Includes an alphabetical list of names of prisoners (Torvald Kibsgaard of William Strachan is included under the K's, camp given as SH=Shirakawa, Formosa). The site also has several related links.

Changi Museum - Database for civilian internees inerned in Singapore.
Civilian Internees of the Japanese in Singapore during WWII
A Singular Man - The story of a 15 year old American prisoner (Mindanao, Kawasaki steel mills, Shinagawa and Omori).
Major Robert Goldsworthy
- Describes life at Omori prison camp.
Yorktown Aviator - "My Experience as Prisoner of War by the Imperial Japanese." The story of an American pilot at Ofuna.
Biographies and Tributes - A collection of stories from Japanese prison camps (mostly told by Americans, also covers the Bataan death march and the "hell ships").
Deliverance, it has come!- (Los Baños).
Liberating Los Baños
Raid at Los Baños
Note to allied prisoners - This is a copy of an original paper that was dropped from an American plane on August 28, 1945. It landed on the field of the prison camp at Hanawa, Honshu, Japan.

NOTE: Most of the links listed here are chosen for their relation to my text on the Norwegian seamen; for more links to websites on prison camps and WW II in general, go to my Merchant Marines/Ships/Navies Links page.

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