Mon, Nov 12, 2018 - Page 3 News List

New Taipei City remembers Allied POWs

Staff writer, with CNA

Bells rang out in New Taipei City yesterday as the nation joined the world in commemorating the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.

“We are showing here in Taiwan, half a world away, our solidarity with all those in England, France, Belgium and the other Allied countries,” Taiwan POW Camps Memorial Society director Michael Hurst said at an annual service held in remembrance of the Allied prisoners of war (POWs) from World War II.

The 21st Remembrance Day service was held at the site of the World War II Kinkaseki Camp in New Taipei City’s Jinguashi (金瓜石). It was co-hosted by the society and the British Office Taipei to pay tribute to former POWs who suffered or died in Taiwan.

At 11am, a bell in a nearby temple tolled, while participants observed a moment of silence to mark the 1918 signing of the World War I armistice between Germany and the Allies.

One of the attendees, former US Army doctor Elizabeth Pepe, had traveled from Florida in search of information about her grandfather Frank Brezina, who was one of the thousands of Allied soldiers captured by Japanese troops during World War II and held in Taiwan.

Brezina, a colonel in the US Army Quartermaster Corps, was held in Karenko Camp in Hualien in 1942 and was later moved to Shirakawa Camp in Tainan, where he died on June 26, 1943.

“I’ve been searching for many years on the Internet, trying to find information about my grandfather,” Pepe said. “My mother had not heard from him since she was 17.”

Pepe said her mother is 92 and could not make the trip to Taiwan.

“I promised her I will take photos and movies and tell her what went on here,” said Pepe, who was wearing a US POW medal that had been awarded posthumously to her grandfather.

According to the society, the Japanese captured more than 200,000 Allied POWs during World War II in places such as Hong Kong, Singapore and the Philippines, and sent them to Taiwan, Thailand, Myanmar and elsewhere to serve as slaves.

In Taiwan, more than 4,350 Allied POWs were held in 16 camps from 1942 to 1945, and about 10 percent of them died in captivity from starvation, sickness, overwork or beatings, the society said.

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