Fiona.Mackinnon - If anyone has any info on my grandfather John Mackinnon - Hong Kong Volunteer Defence Corps, transferred to Japan - died November 1944 I would like to hear from them.
His wife was Nora and he had two children, Ian (my father) and Heather. Before the war he was with P&O in Hong Kong and Shanghai.
In particular I would like the location of Tai Hei-Ji Temple where he was cremated. Does it still exist?
Stephen - With reference to your inquiry concerning your grandfather I possibly might have some further information of interest. I guess you already know that he died of beri beri at Innoshima Camp.
You mention the Tai Hei-Ji Temple, with which I am unfamiliar but I can confirm that his ashes where placed by the Japanese at the Jos NJI Buddhist Temple Onomichi. Here they were discovered on 18 October 1945 by an Allied Recovery Team, along with the ashes of a further eighty-five British PW at a side altar in the temple. A report states that, "About a quarter of the temple had been set aside, the floor being covered with white cloth the Buddhist mourning colour, the sides of the reserved area being decorated with flowers real and artificial. The altar was situated at far end of the temple, the altar also being covered with white cloth, with two large vases of flowers at either end. On the altar were baskets containing fruit, and several jars containing incense. The ashes were arranged in irregular groupings on the four higher altar steps.
I can only guess at this time that the Tai Hei-Ji Temple was or is very near the site of Innoshima Camp. It is also possible that Jos NJI Temple at Onomichi is the same, but probably most unlikely in my opinion as the cremation would have been far closer to his camp. The Jos NJI Temple seems to have been used as a central resting place for the ashes of those prisoners who died in the Hiroshima group of camps.
It could be worth your while visiting Public Record Office, which contains file AIR 49/384. This is the notebook kept Warrant Officer Pritchard between 27 November 1942 to 15 September 1945 as camp leader at Hiroshima No 2 POW Camp, Innoshima Island, Japan. It also includes a roll of all RAF personnel and HKVDF who were with your father in captivity at this camp. I would also recommended Terrence Kelly's book `Living With The Japanese' and also John Fletcher Cooke's book `The Emperor's Guest'. Both officers were at Innoshima Camp.
Fiona.Mackinnon - Thank you very much for this information. I went to the Commonwealth War Grave at Yokohama when I was in Tokyo last year. Next trip I'll make a point of going over to the Buddhist Temple you have given me.
When I'm back in UK I'll go to the Public Record Office.
Ron - Two books to try Fiona both by Tom Carew:
The Fall of Hong Kong
Hostages To Fortune
The detail in both is brilliant and well worth a read.
Both are out of print, a library should be able to get them for you or second hand book shop.