Over 22,000 Australians became prisoners of war of the Japanese in south-east Asia. The wave of Japanese victories, ending with the capture of the Netherlands East Indies in March 1942, left in its wake a mass of Allied prisoners of war, including many Australians. Most of the Australians (14,972) were captured in Singapore; other principal Australian prisoner-of-war groups were captured in Java (2,736), Timor (1,137), Ambon (1,075), and New Britain (1,049).

At the end of the war Australian prisoners of war were widely distributed: 5,549 on Singapore Island and in Johore (Malaya); 4,830 in Burma and Thailand; 265 in French-Indo China; 385 on Java; 243 on Sumatra; 100 on Ambon; 2 on Macassar; 7 on Bali; 150 at Kuching (British North Borneo); 2,700 distributed between Japan, Korea, and Manchuria; and 200 on Hainan Island.

Dates when various prisoner-of-war forces left Changi, Singapore, and their destinations
Force Date departure from Changi Destination

A Force

15 May 1942


B Force

8 July 1942


C Force

28 Nov 1942


D Force

14–18 March 1943


E Force

29 May 1943


F Force

April 1943


G Force

26 April 1943


H Force

May 1943


J Force

16 May 1943


K Force

June 1943


L Force

23 August 1943


Senior Officers' Party

16 August 1942

Japan via Formosa and Korea

Senior Working Party

16 August 1942

Takeo (Formosa) and Seoul (Korea)

AIF units were split up between various forces and work parties.

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