Monday, August 15, 2011

Liberation and V-J Day

Omori-POW Camp that held Louis Zamperini
On August 15, 1945, Japan's Emperor Hirohito took to the radio to tell his subjects that the "the war situation has developed not necessarily to Japan's advantage" and he had agreed to accept the conditions of the Potsdam declaration. His Gyokuon-hōsō (玉音放送), lit. "Jewel Voice Broadcast" made it clear that ceasing the war was an act of international humanity. He had concluded, "Should we continue to fight, it would not only result in an ultimate collapse and obliteration of the Japanese nation, but also it would lead to the total extinction of human civilization."

To the Allied POWs, it was the end of depravation, torture, abuse, and capricious orders. Chicago Tribune journalist, George Weller, one of the first to interview liberated POWs, recorded their first thoughts and descriptions of experiences. His son published his uncensored and unedited reports in 2006 in First into Nagasaki.

Generally, the POWs talked about their beatings and starvation. In Omuta, one Texas POW who slaved in a Mitsui coal mine camp, Fukuoka 17-B, as one of the "cooks" maybe used his down-home honesty to sum it up best:

Navy Cook Laurel Whitworth (Boerne, Texas): "Leaving Japan for me means not having to cook any more dogs to eat. One day I had to cook sixty-nine, another seventy-three, another fifty-five. I hate cooking dogs." (p. 94)


  1. Laurel "Woodie" Whitworth was my grandfather's brother. He never spoke about his experiences.
    He was born and raised (and died) in Boerne, Texas (not Bourne).

  2. Your great uncle most likely had such a traumatic experience, he never could find the words to describe it. God bless him.

    Thank you very much for correcting the name of Boerne, Texas. Strangely, Weller also spelled it incorrectly.

    Lamar Smith is your congressman, he is not yet a cosponsor of H Res 333.

  3. The POW holding the American Flag is my father, James D. Landrum, who was a crew member on the USS Grenadier. They were captured off of Penang, Malaysia and held in several POW camps including Singapore, Ofuna, Shinagawa, and Omore. The Flag was made from a bed sheet and the pole was a "fireman's pike". I would like to put names on the POWs in the photo. Jerry Landrum


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