POW Movements in Southeast Asia During WWII

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During the Second World War, as the Japanese made use of the POWs as forced labor, the movement of individuals was an important part of meeting Japanese strategic needs.  This is illustrated in the movement of troops in and within Southeast Asia and also their movement to Japan to work in mines and other demanding positions.  The experiences of two such POWs, Bert Turner Salt and Fredrick Reginald Willis, both illustrate this extensive movement of individuals.  Salt was transported more than 5,000 miles during his time in captivity from February 16, 1942 to his liberation on August 15, 1945.  Willis traveled nearly a thousand more miles, having been taken captive in Batavia before being transported to Singapore, where Salt had been captured.  Willis was also in Japan, arriving in July 1943 after spending a year working on the Thai-Burma Railway as had Salt.  The map below roughly illustrates each man’s movements (also available here).

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