元米兵捕虜 収容所跡を訪問善通寺
「日本人の優しさふれた」

 戦時中、善通寺市にあった旧日本軍の捕虜収容所で3年半を過ごした元米兵のマーヴィン・ロスランスキーさん(91)が17日、終戦から 68年ぶり に同市を訪れた。陸軍墓地で地元の人らが守っている仲間たちの墓標に花を手向け、「捕虜のことを忘れずにいてくれる日本人の優しさにふれられ た」と語っ た。(竹田純)

 ウィスコンシン州出身のロスランスキーさんは、18歳の時に志願して海軍に入隊。開戦直後の1941年12月、グアムで捕虜になり善通寺 に移送された。

 研究者らでつくるPOW(戦争捕虜)研究会によると、善通寺には42年1月、日米開戦を受けた最初の捕虜収容所が設けられた。約400人 が収容され、高松や多度津、坂出各港での荷役作業などに従事したという。

 ロスランスキーさんも、近くの山を切り開いたり、駅で米やセメントを運んだりする作業をさせられた。80キロほどあった体重は60キロに まで落ち、重い病にかかるなどした仲間を次々に見送った。

 45年2月のある日、B29が収容所上空に飛来した。悠々と飛ぶ姿に「もうすぐ戦争は終わる」と直感。半年後にようやく終戦を迎えたが、 「あと2週間遅かったら、生き延びられなかったと思う」と振り返る。

 帰国後は中古車商を営み、退役軍人を支援するボランティア活動にも励んだ。今夏、捕虜と市民の交流事業を続けている日本政府に来日を打診 された時 には、「つらい日々を思い出したくない」とちゅうちょした。だが、「当時を知る人間は少なくなった。これが最後の機会」と思い直したという

 この日、妻のジョセフィンさん(92)や、元米兵の遺族とともに、生野町の陸軍墓地や、今は市立西中などが立つ文京町の収容所跡を訪ね た。近くの住民らが戦後、墓地で傷んでいた連合軍兵士の墓標を再建し、今も年に数回、周囲の草刈りなどをしていると説明を受けた。

 ロスランスキーさんは「不幸な時代のことが、きちんと語り継がれていると知り、うれしくなった。帰ったら元捕虜の友人に報告したい」と穏 やかに話した。広島の収容所跡や京都を回った後、21日に離日するという。

20131018  読売新聞)

 


Former American POW visits the former site of Zentsuji POW camp
Touched by Japanese people’s kindness

Yomiuri Shimbun, Oct. 18, 2013

Mr. Marvin Roslansky (91), a US veteran who had spent three and a half years in the Japanese Imperial Army’s POW camp in Zentsuji visited the city after 68 years since the end of the war. Laying flowers at the memorial for his fellow POWs in the military cemetery, which was taken care of by local people, he said, “I was touched by the kindness of the Japanese people who keep the memory of the POWs alive.”

Mr. Roslansky, originally from Wisconsin, enlisted in the US Marine Corps when he was 18 years old. He was captured on Guam shortly after the Pearl Harbor attack in December,1941, and was sent to Zentsuji.  

According to the POW Research Network Japan, the very first POW camp after the breakout of the Pacific War was established in Zentsuji in January of 1942. Approximately 400 POWs were interned in this camp and they were forced to work as stevedores at the docks in Takamatsu, Tadotsu and Sakaide.   

Mr. Roslansky was also forced to work at nearby mountain terrace or at station carrying bags of rice and cement. His normal weight of 170 lbs went down to 130 lbs and he had to watch some of his friends succumb to disease and die.

One day in February of 1945, a B-29 flew over the POW camp. The majestic sight of the plane in the sky convinced him that the war would soon be over.  The war finally came to an end six months later but he reflected, “I would not have survived if the war had gone on for another two weeks.”

After returning home, he started used car business and became active in volunteering to help veterans. When asked last summer if he would like to participated in the Japanese/POW Friendship program, he first hesitated as he did not want to remember the painful days. But he changed his mind thinking, “There are not many people around who remember those days. This may be the last chance.”

On this day, together with his wife Josephine (92) and another bereaved family of a POW, he visited the military cemetery and the former site of the POW camp on which Nishi Junior High school stands today. He was explained that local people were taking a good care of the memorial for those Allied POWs who had died here.

Mr. Roslansky said in a calm voice, “I am pleased to learn that what happened during those sad days was remembered here. I will report it to my fellow former POWs when I return to the US.” He will leave Japan on the 21st after visiting another POW camp in Hiroshima and Kyoto.