ＵＳ Ex-POW Had Bone Broken To Avoid Mine Work
The Asahi Shimbun newspaper; Northern Kyushu edition, October 20, 2011
By Kengo Matsumoto
“I can’t stop the memories coming back,” said Mr. Roy Friese (88), a US former POW, who was forced to labor for two years at Fukuoka #17 Camp, the largest of all the camps in Fukuoka prefecture, when he revisited the city on Oct. 19 after 66 years. His visit also prompted some local people to look back on those years.
Mr. Friese, who lives in California, came to Omuta with his wife Lauretta on the morning of Oct. 19. Mr. Harry Corre (88), who was in the same camp, abandoned his visit that day when his wife hurt herself at Fukuoka Airport. [Note by the translator: Actually this happened at Haneda Airport, but her medical examination was conducted at Fukuoka.]
At first, Mr. Friese visited the Coal Industry and Science Museum and saw a film introducing the history of the coal mine. While he was guided through the exhibition, he stopped to look at the graffiti some Korean laborers left on the wall of their quarters, yearning for home. Those people were taken from the Korean peninsula to work in the mine.
At the site of the former POW camp, Mr. Friese’s memories returned one after another. He confided his experience of being put in the guard house, and having a comrade nicknamed ‘Doc’ [Pete] crush his [left] little finger so he could avoid the mine work and cave-ins. He said twenty-six men had their arms broken by him.
At the site of the Mikawa Pit, where he was forced to work, he asked about ‘Kawano-san’, and if anybody knew anything about this person who was kind to him.
He said that he stayed on in the camp for a month after the end of the war, waiting until the US Occupation Forces arrived. During that period, US aircraft came and dropped food for them.
Mr. Michinobu Ohshiro (77), Chairman of the Miike History Society, testified as follows:
“The B29s, which
seemed just a glint in the sky during the war, parachuted packages of food one
by one. They flew so low we could see inside the planes.” After the war, the
liberated POWs appeared in the town in groups, and went around the houses of the
local people. Ohshiro’s elder brother, a high school student, talked to some of
them in English and learned that they wanted potatoes, onions and things like
that. So he made a deal with them to barter those vegetables for chocolates the
next day. But when the POWs didn’t come back, the brothers were disappointed.
There were some townspeople who fled into the surrounding mountains in fear of
the POWs, but the boys were surprised to find them very friendly.