Sunday, March 07, 2021

Historian of the POWs of Japan

Linda Goetz Holmes of Shelter Island, a journalist who devoted decades of her life to bringing to light the treatment of Allied POWs imprisoned by Imperial during World War II, died August 18, 2020. She was 87.

Holmes was a member of the Overseas Press Club Foundation and past president and board member of the Society of the Silurians, the nation’s oldest press club. She was also an associate member of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers.

She wrote three influential books about POW experiences, 4000 Bowls of Rice: A Prisoner of War Comes Home, Unjust Enrichment: American POWs Under the Rising Sun (of which there are two editions , 2000 and 2008, with the second having a new forward), and Guests of the Emperor: The Secret of Japan’s Mukden POW Camp. She also completed and published POW archivist Roger Mansell's book on the men and women captured on Guam by the Japanese in December 1941,  Captured: The Forgotten Men of Guam.

Born into a news family
Linda Graves Goetz was born May 4, 1933, in White Plains, NY. She was the second child of Florence (née Brown) and Theodore Becker Goetz, a prominent newspaperman in Westchester County.

Along with her older sister, Susan, she attended Scarsdale schools. According to the Scarsdale Alumni Association, Holmes was “the wittiest in her class”. The caption under her senior photo was “Lady of the Press”.

After graduating from Wellesley College in 1955, Holmes jumped into the world of broadcast. She worked in the television production department at Ted Bates & Co., a pioneering advertising agency in Manhattan, and at CBS Television.

In 1959, she married Theodore Edward Holmes. The couple had two sons and later divorced.

POW research
In 1994, Holmes published her first book, 4000 Bowls of Rice, about Allied prisoners of the Japanese who built the Burma Railway. The book was inspired by a conversation over dinner on Shelter Island with an Australian friend, who’d spent three and a half years in POW camps in Java, Burma, and Thailand.

Holmes relates how Cecil Dickson, who served with the Australian Pioneer Battalion, off-handedly marveled while passing a serving dish of rice, that even though he’d eaten nothing but rice for over 3,800 consecutive meals, he still enjoyed it.

Dickson, also a journalist, was the first POW Holmes met who had actually worked on the Death Railway made famous in the film The Bridge on the River Kwai. After he passed away, his widow sent to Holmes a packet of letters that he’d written during his time as a POW. Holmes conducted research and connected Dickson’s stories of forced labor to records kept about Allied prisoners who built the notorious Thai-Burma Death railway.

In 4000 Bowls of Rice: A Prisoner of War Comes Home, which includes photographs taken in secret by POWs and not previously published, Holmes tells a story of slave labor that had not before been reported. She said she was inspired by the spirit of the prisoners, “the indomitable determination to look ahead because if you dwell on the past you are still a captive in your own mind.”

What enabled the POWs to survive unspeakable hardship? “They helped each other. They helped each other have the will to live.”

The book was added to the John E. Taylor collection of military history and intelligence volumes at the National Archives Library in College Park, Maryland, the National POW Museum at Andersonville GA, and the Australian War Memorial.

In 2011, Linda was the American Defender of Bataan and Corregidor Memorial Society's first Roger Mansell Guest Lecturer. She spoke in Pittsburg at the Society's 2nd annual convention about her work on Roger Mansell's book about the Guam POWs.

Locating and declassifying records of World War II war crimes
Richard Myers, a senior archivist for the National Archives Modern Military Records, was among the people Holmes got to know well during her research. It was at his recommendation that she became the first Pacific War historian appointed to the U.S. Government Interagency Working Group (IWG). It was formed in 1999 under the aegis of the National Archives to locate and declassify material about World War II war crimes. The agency made a final report to Congress in 2007.

In her work with the IWG, Holmes interviewed more than 400 ex-prisoners of war, their families, American and Japanese military personnel and historians, government and banking officials, and archivists from around the globe to authenticate what happened to prisoners in Japanese hands and why.

She presented her findings before audiences at the National Security Agency Center for Cryptologic History, the National Museum of the Pacific War (Admiral Nimitz Museum), and numerous civic groups, veterans organizations, and classrooms throughout the country. You can watch an interview with Holmes recorded for the Robert H. Jackson center on YouTube.

Long time resident of Hay Beach
Holmes was a long time resident of Shelter Island’s Hay Beach and had also lived in Manhattan. She was president of the Hay Beach Property Owners Association (HBPOA) for two separate terms and served as the organization’s unofficial historian. She contributed to Then & Now: The Story of Hay Beach, a publication of the Shelter Island Historical Society and the HBPOA.

In that book, you can see photos of her beloved colonial-era home on Dinah Rock Road, a circa 1775 house that she had transported by barge from Cutchogue. Holmes bought the house in 1968 and a year later hired the Davis Brothers to transport it across the bay to a lot she’d purchased for $7,000.

Holmes was predeceased by her parents and sister. She is survived by her sons, Philip and Theodore. The Shelter Island Funeral Home assisted the family, who received friends on Tuesday, August 25 at the Parish Hall at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church. Funeral services were held the following morning officiated by the Rev. Charles McCarron. Interment followed at St. Mary’s Cemetery. 

requiescat in pace

Editor’s note: This article was adapted from one that first appeared in the Shelter Island Reporter. Their intern Maeve Browne contributed to researching and writing this report. They owe special thanks to Patrick Clifford of the Hay Beach Property Owners Association for bringing this remarkable woman’s story to our attention. Thanks also to Katherine Moore at the Shelter Island Public Library for quickly locating Linda Holmes’ books for us to read.

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Pacific Heroes Day

Ned Lamont, the Governor of Connecticut, declared January 4, 2021


As of this writing, the Proclamation has yet to be put online.

Behind this honor, was a ceremony for Daniel Crowley who was a prisoner of war held by Imperial Japan after being surrendered on Corregidor in May 1942. On the 4th, Dan finally received is Combat Infantryman Badge, POW Medal, and previously unknown promotion to Sergeant.

You can watch the ceremony above and find out more though the press coverage of the Department of Defense ceremony held on that day at the Connecticut Air National Guard Base

ADBC-MS Press Advisory, December 31, 2020 

U.S. Department of Defense



  • Commemorating WWII - Veteran Vignette

In process, to be posted at 

Connecticut Air National Guard’s 103rd Airlift Wing Facebook Coverage  



Public Media

Friday, January 01, 2021

Historic Ceremony for POW of Japan

On January 4, 2021, Simsbury, Connecticut resident Daniel Crowley, 98, will finally receive his Combat Infantry Badge (CIB) for his service with the Provisional Army Air Corps Infantry Regiment defending the Bataan Peninsula in the Philippines against the invading Imperial Japanese forces in the early months of WWII in 1942. Until this ceremony, the U.S. Army has refused to confer the CIB to the provisional soldiers on Bataan.

Dan will also receive his Prisoner of War Medal and recognition of his previously unknown 1945 promotion to Sergeant at a noon ceremony at Connecticut’s Bradley Air National Guard Base presided over by Gregory J. Slavonic, Under Secretary of the Navy, PTDO vice Acting. At the ceremony a representative of Dan’s former employer Northwestern Mutual will announce a donation in his honor to the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor Memorial Society.

Under Secretary Slavonic with his Executive Assistant CAPT G. J. Leland, a former commanding officer of the multipurpose amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5,) worked with the Secretary of the Army to research and confirm all the awards and promotions Dan had earned in WWII.

Dan arrived in the Philippines in the spring of 1941 with the U.S. Army Air Corps. Within hours of the December 7, 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the military airfields in the Philippines were also destroyed. With surviving airmen, he was sent to defend the Bataan Peninsula. Dan avoided the Bataan Death March in April 1942 by swimming to Corregidor and fighting with the 4th Marines. He became a POW with the surrender of all the Philippines in May of that year. Dan was liberated from a POW slave labor copper mining camp in Japan in September 1945. 


The event will be livestreamed on the Connecticut Air National Guard’s 103rd Airlift Wing Facebook page at

A leading voice for Pacific War veterans and their families, the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor Memorial Society (ADBC-MS) promotes education and scholarship about the POW experience in the Pacific, supports programs of reconciliation and understanding, and advocates for a Congressional Gold Medal for the POWs of Japan. The ADBC-MS is the point of contact for all official U.S. government activities affecting American POWs of Japan. 

Over 26,000 Americans were POWs of Imperial Japan. There were more than 200 from Connecticut. Nearly 11,000 died in POW camps, aboard “hell ships,” or as slave laborers for Japanese companies. 

Friday, December 25, 2020

Merry Christmas


Ronald Searle (3 March 1920 – 30 December 2011) is perhaps the best known of the artists who were POWs of Japan. The British illustrator said that his POW experience on the Thai Burma Death Railroad "directed" the rest of his life. Many of his wartime drawings documenting the horror are in the Imperial War Museum. In 1986, he published Ronald Searle: To the Kwai and Back, War Drawings 1939–1945.

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Why was Imperial Japan so cruel?

University of Washington, Seattle Professor Daniel Chirot explores in an October 27, 2020 lecture, the Ideologies of Racial Superiority and Purity: Why Did Germany and Japan Engage in Such Extreme Mass Murder During World War II?

Although there were differences between Germany’s effort to wipe out Jews (and others) and Japan’s massacres (death through work and human experimentation) there was a common ideological basis for these outrages. What lay behind Nazi ideology and Japan’s aggressive militarism, and why were they so vicious? A comparison helps put what happened in perspective and shows why we cannot exclude the possibility that something like this could happen again.

Among the common traits between Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan were a deep sense of racial and ideological superiority. The difference was that the Germans were ideologically genocidal whereas the Japanese were negligently so. The Germans wanted to eliminate certain peoples while the Japanese were simply indifferent to the welfare of their subjugated and enslaved.

Friday, September 25, 2020

Gold Star Families Remembrance Week

This week, September 20th – 26th, is Gold Star Families Remembrance Week, which honors the families of fallen service members and recognizes the sacrifices made by the family members of veterans who died in the line of duty.

The first tanker to die in WWII was a son of African American Kentucky sharecroppers. Pvt. Robert Brooks of the 192nd Tank Battalion was killed by a Japanese bomb on December 8, 1941 at Clark Field.

Cleveland Wright (b. 1931, d. 1992), U.S. Air Force,
“We Regret To Inform You,” 1979. Oil on Canvas.
Collection of the National Veterans Art Museum.
All rights reserved.

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Ceremony and Presidential Proclamation for POW/MIA Day

Navy Rear Adm. Darius Banaji, deputy director of the Defense Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Accounting Agency, hosts a moving ceremony on POW/MIA Recognition Day at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, Sept. 18, 2020.

President's Proclamation on National POW/MIA Recognition Day, 2020

  Issued on: September 18, 2020

Throughout our Nation’s history, America’s sons and daughters have heroically safeguarded our precious freedoms and defended the cause of liberty both at home and abroad.  On National POW/MIA Recognition Day, we remember the more than 500,000 prisoners of war who have endured incredible suffering and brutality under conditions of extraordinary privation, and the tens of thousands of our patriots who are still missing in action.  Although our Nation will never be able to fully repay our debt to those who have given so much on our behalf, we commemorate their bravery and recommit to working for their long-suffering families who deserve answers and solace for their missing loved ones.

Today, I join a grateful Nation in honoring those POWs who faithfully served through extreme hardship and unimaginable physical and emotional trauma.  Their lives and resilience reflect the best of the American Spirit, and their immeasurable sacrifices have ensured the blessings of freedom for future generations.  On this day, we also reaffirm our unceasing global efforts to obtain the fullest possible accounting of our MIA personnel.  The search, recovery, and repatriation of MIA remains help bring closure to families bearing the burden of the unresolved fate of their loved ones.  That is why in 2018, I worked to secure the historic repatriation of remains from North Korea, and why we are continually working to bring more home from around the world.  My Administration will never waver in fulfilling our country’s obligation to leave no service member behind.

This year, as we commemorate the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II and reflect upon both the 70th anniversary of the start of the Korean War and the 45th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War, we pause to recognize the men and women who were held as POWs or deemed MIA in these conflicts against repressive ideologies.  These service members and civilians, many from the Greatest Generation, deserve a special place of honor in the hearts of all Americans because of their selfless devotion, unflinching courage, and unsurpassed dedication to our cherished American values.

On September 18, 2020, our Nation’s citizens will look to the iconic black and white flag as a powerful reminder of the service of America’s POWs and service members who have gone MIA.  This flag, especially when flying high above our military installations abroad, conveys the powerful message of American devotion to the cause of human liberty and our commitment to never forget the brave Americans lost defending that liberty.  On this National POW/MIA Recognition Day, our Nation takes a special moment to pay tribute to those who endured the horrors of enemy captivity and those lost in service to our country.  Our Nation will continue to be resolute in our relentless pursuit of those remains of service members who have yet to return home from war and our steadfast promise to their families that their loved ones will never be forgotten.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim September 18, 2020, as National POW/MIA Recognition Day.  Together with the people of the United States, I salute all American POWs who, in the presence of great dangers and uncertainties, valiantly honored their duty to this great country.  Let this day also serve as a reminder for our Nation to strengthen our resolve to account for those who are still missing and provide their families long-sought answers.  I call upon Federal, State, and local government officials and private organizations to observe this day with appropriate ceremonies and activities.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this seventeenth day of September, in the year of our Lord two thousand twenty, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-fifth.