A memorial service was held by the Taiwan POW Camps Memorial Society at the old wall of the former Taipei Prison on Jinshan S Road on June 20 to honor the US airmen who were incarcerated in the prison in the last months of World War II, as well as the 14 men who were executed in the prison’s courtyard by a Japanese firing squad 64 years ago.
At 3pm, members of the POW Society and representatives from the Taipei City Government, the ROC Veterans Affairs Commission, the American Institute in Taiwan and other supporters gathered by the old entrance to the prison and marched to where a new plaque is located, led by Canadian bagpiper Mal Turner.
Dignitaries unveiled a plaque and Reverend David Homer of Grace Christian Church read a message and a prayer to dedicate the memorial.
Wreaths were laid alongside the plaque and 14 poppy crosses lined the wall in commemoration of the slain men. The piper played Amazing Grace and two minutes of silence were observed.
Michael Hurst, director of the Taiwan POW Camps Memorial Society said: “The courage of these Allied airmen must never be forgotten. They fought for their country and the cause of freedom and what they believed was right. They have all sacrificed much for our freedom — let us never forget!”
On Jan. 28, 1945, a PB4Y-1 Liberator aircraft was shot down over southern Taiwan and crashed in the sea after attacking Japanese ships.
Of the crew, six survivors were taken prisoner. One of those, who was severely injured in the crash, was sent to Japan where he finished the war in a hospital . The other men were imprisoned in Taihoku (Taipei).
On May 29, 1945, the five remaining crewmen and nine other captured US soldiers were tried before a Japanese “War Disciplinary Tribunal,” found guilty and sentenced to death. In the early hours of June 19, 1945, the men were shot in the prison’s courtyard.
The remaining prisoners were released on Sept. 5, 1945.
For more information on Allied prisoners of war in Taiwan during World War II, visit the Taiwan POW Camps Memorial Society Web site at www.powtaiwan.org.