Hokkaido October 18, 2013
AN Ex-US POW
“I’LL MAKI IT
HOME,” AGAIN COMES BACK MY THOUGHTS THEN
MR. ASARI, A
LOCAL HISTORIAN, GUIDED HIM
believe I could come back here again, ” exclaimed Mr. Robert Heer (91 years
old), a US former POW who visited the POW Camp site in Kameda Minato-machi,
Hakodate City on October 17, after 68 years. He listened to the explanation
offered by Mr Masatoshi Asari, a local historian, reflecting his memories
coming back to him.
In Hakodate at
that time, there were two POW camps: the Main Camp in Funami-machi, and #2
Dispatch camp in Kameda Minato-machi. Mr. Heer entered the Hakodate POW Camp
#2 Dispatch Camp Kameda on March 16, 1944, which held 126 POWs. The camp was
closed in June because of the increase of fierce air bombings, and he was
moved to a camp in Akabira City, where he was liberated in August.
Mr. Heer, in his camp in Hakodate, the POWs walked to the quay around 1.5 km,
leaving the camp at 7:00a.m., were engaged in unloading salt, coal and so on.
Around 4:30p.m., they finished work and returned as same as their Japanese
counterparts. “Sometimes we took out some fish tins and hid them in our
trousers. Compared to Taiwan, the work was not so hard, and the guards didn’t
report every trivial act against regulations.”
were mostly rice and miso-soup with seaweeds in it. ”In our camp we had our
individual space of around one tatami-mat. It was warm inside and we could
sleep well.” Through Mr. Heer’s witnesses, POW life in a camp/camps in
Hakodate was shown as fairly comfortable.
Asari, Representative of the “Society for Recording Hakodate Bombing”, who
guided Mr. Heer said, “I’m strongly impressed with Mr. Heer’s determination of
“Making it Home”. I feel our mutual communication as human beings, not as
friend and foe, will lead us to renunciation of war.”