Australian prisoners of war: Second World War - Prisoners of the Japanese

The following sources will help discover further information about an individual's prisoner of war experience.

  • Personal service record, National Archives of Australia 
    The service record will typically include details of when an individual became a prisoner of war and may include details of the camps where they were held.
  • Department of Veterans' Affairs Nominal Roll
    Provides a summary of military service details including whether or not the person was a prisoner of war.
  • Australian Military Forces prisoners of war and missing – Far East and South-West Pacific islands, AWM Official record series AWM232
  • The Roll of Honour records the names of service men and women who died during or as a result of service with Australian military forces.
  • [Casualties - 8th Division:] Details of AIF casualties provided by 2nd Echelon AIF Malaya, for Australian Red Cross Society, Changi, 8 December 1944. AWM Official record AWM54 171/11/2
    Arranged alphabetically and by service number. (Includes force and fate).
  • Casualty information compiled by Lieutenant-Colonel J M Williams, Australian Army Medical Corps, of Australian prisoners of war, Burma - Thailand and Japan, including section on 2/2 Pioneer Battalion. AWM Official record AWM127 77

The prisoner-of-war experience

The following resources are available on the Memorial's website. Search the databases using name of unit, name of camp, name of force (such as A Force, Ramsay Force) or name of country (remember that some countries now have a different name – Taiwan was still called Formosa during the war).

  • Books: Look especially for published unit histories. Some of these contain sections on the experiences of those members of the unit who were taken prisoner-of-war, often with lists of names.
  • Collection Search: To find photographs and private records, search by names of individuals, camps, name of unit or service (e.g., RAAF, RAN, nurses).
  • RecordSearch: Search for official records held in the joint database of the Memorial and the National Archives of Australia using the name of country, camp, unit or service, or prison* and relevant date range. Some examples of types of official records:
    • Series AWM127 contains some nominal rolls, such as those for individual units, groups or nurses, or specific camps
    • War crimes and trials. Affidavits and sworn statements, various items in AWM54 1010/*. To locate items in this series, search RecordSearch using individual names (surname and prison* or prisoner of war) as keywords with AWM54 1010/* in the Series number field
    • War crimes and trials. Control copy of evidence. Synopsis of evidence. Index of names. AWM54 1010/1/8. Alphabetical list of names (not listed individually on RecordSearch) of those giving evidence. Includes name, rank, number, unit, list of prisoner-of-war camps in which they were held, dates and synopsis of evidence
  • Ephemera and souvenirs include some material relevant to Second World War prisoners of war, such as concerts and theatre programs. Some guides are only available in paper format in the Reading Room. Please contact the Research Centre if you would like assistance.
  • Official history of the Second World War
    Lionel Wigmore, The Japanese thrust, Australia in the War of 1939-1945, Series 1 (Army), vol IV (Canberra, 1957).
    Part III describes the experiences of the widely-scattered groups of prisoners of the Japanese from 1942 to 1945.

Location of camps

  • Peter Brune, Descent into hell: the fall of Singapore - Pudu and Changi - the Thai-Burma railway (Sydney: Allen & Unwin, 2014).
  • Frances Worthington Lipe, Japanese prisoner-of-war camps during World War II, 1941-1945: known locations of camps where American, British, Dutch, Australian, Canadian, Indian and other allied military and civilian personnel were imprisoned by the Japanese (Brownsville, Tex.: Medical Research Committee of American Ex-prisoners of War, 1983?). AWM Map Collection G7720.S7
  • [Maps and Plans (Allied) - Asia:] Sketch map of part of Burma - Thailand showing location of F Force and H Force Camps and Halts, Apr - Dec 1943; General diagram of railway between Thailand and Burma and brief list showing Prisoner of War Camps (about Oct 1943); Diagram showing disposition of the strength and others during the construction of the Burma - Siam Railway (finished about Oct - Nov 1943). AWM Official record AWM54 469/4/1
  • [Maps and Plans (Allied) - SWPA:] Sketch map of part of Burma, Thailand showing location of "F" and "H" Force Camps and Halts - Apr - Dec 1943. AWM Official record AWM54 469/5/13

Further information

External sources

The Thailand-Burma Railway Centre is an interactive museum, information and research facility dedicated to presenting the history of the Thailand-Burma Railway. The TBRC has researched the experiences of approximately 105.000 prisoners of the Japanese in South East Asia during the Second World War. They can be contacted regarding this research at admin@tbrconline.com