'Hell's Heroes' is the story of the POW camp that never was - so dubbed by
one old soldier because the atrocities that occurred there went largely
unreported at the time. For while the Burma-Thai railway, the Bataan death march
and events at Changi and in many other parts of Asia became synonymous with
Japanese brutality, most of the camps which were set up to provide slave labour
for the enemy military machine at home were slowly forgotten in the aftermath of
World War II. Yet the experiences of those who found themselves imprisoned in
Japanese camps like the notorious 4-B provided a measure of horror to match some
of the world's most notorious war crimes.
Nestled by the riverside in the west-coast Japanese town of Naoetsu, camp 4-B
was the prison for some 300 Australian soldiers, collectively known as C Force,
who spent nearly three years of their life there after being taken prisoner in
Singapore in February '42 and enduring a spell at the notorious Changi Barracks.
Most of them were from the 2/20th Battalion. Sixty of the 300 died in captivity
- more men per capita than at any other Japanese POW camp. And after the war,
eight guards were executed for their reign of terror at Naoetsu, a figure that
is again more than for any other camp in Japan.
In his gripping history of the men who spent the war in Naoetsu, Roger
Maynard draws on the diaries and memories of those who survived. Their
recollections make compelling reading, but more than that, they demonstrate a
strength and inner determination that seems impossible to comprehend today. How
could these blokes endure such physical deprivation and discomfort for so long?
What happens to men when death is all around them? How do they keep hope alive?
1. Heeding the Charion Call
2. Destination Malaya
3. Battle Stations
4. Unprepared and Under Fire
5. Prisoners of the Japanese
6. Welcome to Hell
7. Death, Diarrhoea and Dog Wallopers
8. When Food is the Only Fantasy
9. Living Under the Shadow of Death
10. 'Kill Them and Leave No Trace'
11. My God, What Have We Done?'
13. 'Hang the Bastards'
14. Searching for Watanabe
15. The Rope-Maker Awaits his Fate
Naoetsu Roll Call
Sources and References
Map of Singapore