元米兵捕虜 労働逃げるため骨折/大牟田市

朝日新聞、20111020

 「記憶が戻ってくるのを止められない」。戦時中に大牟田市にあった国内最大規模の福岡捕虜収容所第17分所で2年ほど強制労働させられた元米兵捕虜のロイ・フリースさん(88)は19日、66年ぶりとなる収容所跡で思い出を語った。この訪問をきっかけに、地元の人も当時を振り返った。

米カリフォルニア州在住のフリースさんは19日朝、妻ローレッタさん(78)と大牟田を訪れた。収容所仲間のハリー・コーレさん(88)は妻が福岡空港でけがをし、訪問を断念した。

最初に訪れた市石炭産業科学館では、炭鉱の歴史を紹介する映画、展示品を見た。足を止め、じっと見入ったのが、朝鮮人労働者が宿舎の壁に書き残した望郷の文字。朝鮮半島から連行され、炭鉱で働かされた。

収容所跡では記憶が次々によみがえった。営倉の体験、強制労働や落盤から逃れるため「ドク(医者)」と呼ぶ仲間に頼んで26人が腕を折り、指をつぶしたことも打ち明けた。

強制労働させられた三川坑の跡では、親切にしてくれたという「カワノさん」について周囲に尋ねた。

終戦後も1カ月ほど収容所にいて米軍の進駐を待った。それまでの食料は米軍機が投下したという。

大牟田の歴史を研究する三池史談会の大城美知信会長(77)が証言する。「戦争中はキラッとしか見えなかったB29がカラフルなパラシュートで次々と食料を落とした。爆弾を落とす胴体の腹の中までよく見えるほど、低空でした」

戦後、自由になった捕虜が数人ずつ街に来て1軒ずつ家をのぞいたという。「中学生の兄が英語で話しかけ、ジャガイモやタマネギとか欲しがっていると知り、翌日、チョコレートとの交換を約束した。来なかったのでがっかりした」。怖がって山に逃げた人もいたが、非常に友好的で驚いたという。(松本健造)

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.
                               [Translated by Yuka Ibuki assisted by Anthony Walsh]