Cynthia - rabaul_newbritain@yahoo.com.au

      With regard to your Web Sites below?




      I was evacuated our of Rabaul with my Mother Iris Schmidt, My Brother Ron 12 Years and me 9 Months on the last DC3 28 December 1941. My Father Ardie (Adolf) Schmidt, from Dayboro, Queensland, Australia was Director of Native Education and a member of the New Guinea Volunteer Rifles (NGVR) and was beheaded by the Japanese.

      We returned to Port Moresby and then on to Rabaul December 1946.

      There is a group of us trying to find out what happened to the Men from Rabaul, New Britain, Kavieng, New Ireland and surrounding Islands - we want the truth of what happened, at present I am trying to contact as many families who lost releativies during the Second World War.

      Should you require further information pelase do not hesitate to E-Mail me.

      Thanking you in anticipation,

      Arthur - >Cynthia, Please send me all the information you have, and I will have it published in the National Ex Service Association newspaper and on their international web site.

      Ron - >Cynthia, There is some information on Rabaul in Lord Russell's Knights of Bushido, published 1958.
      I have copied it out for you but warn you this is horrific.

      "On 4th February 1942 the japanese captured a party of twenty-four Australian soldiers at Tol, after landing at Rabaul in New Britain. They all belonged to the Army Medical Corps., and were wearing Red Cross armbands when taken prisoner which the Japanese soldiers immediately removed. On reaching Tol their captors ransacked the prisoners' packs, and took all their personal belongings from them including rings and watches. Their pay books were also taken from them, and they were tied together in groups of three with their hands bound behind their backs with rope. One of them has thus described what then took place:

      They marched us to a plantation about a mile beyond Tol in the direction of Rabaul. We were ordered, by signs, to sit down on a slight rise on the track which led from the road to the plantation....... They then began to take the men down the track in two's and threes. I was in the last party which numbered three. The officer, still using signs, asked us whether we would rather be bayoneted or shot. We chose the latter. When we reached the end of the track, three Japanese with fixed bayonets took us over and walked on behind us. All three in my group were then knocked to the ground, and as our hands were bound behind our backs and we were also tied together, we were unable to move. The escort stood over us and bayoneted us several times. I received five bayonet wounds, but I held my breath and feigned death though I was still alive. As the Japanese soldiers were moving off the man next to me groaned. One of the Japanese sildiers came running back and stabbed him once more. By this time I could hold my breath no longer. When I drew a deep breath the soldier heard me and inflicted six more bayonet wounds. The last thrust went through my ear into my mouth severing an artery on the way. The member of the escort seeing the blood gushing out of my mouth assumed that I was at last dead, covered the three of us with coconut fronds and vine leaves and left. I lay for approximately one hour when I decided to try and get away. I managed to undo the cord which bound me to the other two and started to walk towards the sea, which was only fifty yards away. After taking a few steps I collapsed. It seemed only a short time beforw I regained consciousness. I then tried to saw through the bonds round my hands with the iron heel of my boot, but without success. Eventually I managed to get my leg between my two hands and, raising it, chewed at the cord untill it came apart.

      The exact number of prisoners killed in New Britain after capture is not known but a military court of inquiry which investigated the attocities estimated the dead at not less then one hundred and fifty. The killings were flagrant contraventions of the Hague Vonvention of 1907, to which Japan was a party, and which forbade the killings or wounding of an enemy who, having laid down his arms, or no longer having means of defence, has surrended at descretion.
      All the Australians had surrended, some under the white flag, and all were entiltled to be treated as prisoners of war."

      By Lord Russell

      Keith - >Cynthia/Ron/Arthur,

      First, Arthur, I do apologise for not having replied to your letter sent in response to my order for two books. I will respond and please accept my apology.
      Cynthia and Ron and Arthur, one of the best books I have read to date on Rabaul is by an Austrailian, Peter Stone, and is titled Hostages to Freedom.
      I just missed the last copy in the UK, but at 75 is very expensive. A less expensive way is to order it through the library service if you are based in the UK. A very well thought out and detailed book not only on the Japanese occupation of the Second World War, but also a lot of history from the First World War and prior.
      Good coverage of Post War salvage work too.
      Also included are interviews with those servicemen and civilians, including the native population that survived.
      I hope this is of some help

      Ron - >Cynthia, Some web links on Rabaul.

      Rabaul History

      The forgotten prisoners of Rabaul

      Pacific Wrecks

      Hostages to Freedom, Book

      Corrections to book

      ABC South East SA


      Rabaul Wrecks

      The Prisoners of Rabaul

      The Siege of Rabaul, Book

      Ron - >Cynthia, After finding my copy of "What Price Bushido" by Alf 'Blackie' Baker, I can now give you some details of the 600 gunners which you asked me about.

      As mentioned before they left Changi on the 18th October 1942, led by Lt.Col. John Bassett, who was commander of the 35 Light Anti Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery, and as mentioned in David Nelson's book 'The Story of Changi', they were believed lost.

      Nelson thought the ship was lost, but we now know by Don Walls book 'Kill the prisoners and Alf's book , there were 18 surivors, Alf was one of these.

      They left on the Eige Maru or Masta Maru stopping at Surabaya Harbour, Java, on the 22nd Oct. then Timor, Bali and the Hialmarhere islands, arriving at Rabaul on the 5th November. As you were born at Rabaul, I will not go into details about the volcanoes, but ankle deep in volcanic ash was mentioned, as the last erruption had been in 1937, your mother must have seen this one and described it to you.

      The prisoners were marched to Kokopo Camp. From the start they were badly treated with consistant 'bashings' and being tormented by the guards. The Japanese interpreter, Higaki, was a christian and did his best to help. At the end of November, a parade took place where 517, out of the then 599 men, were chosen to build an airstrip at Ballali (Balalle) Island, eighty-two were thought by the Japanese to be too ill for the task.

      The 82 men left at Rabaul suffered a diptheria attack and by February 1943 were down to 57, by November 1943 there were 21 left alive, they died from illness and mis-treatment by the guards. It was about this time that a brutal Jap, nicknamed 'Blackshirt', returned from Ballali Island.

      It is reported by a Korean, Kateshiro Fukukan that there was a bad air-raid on Ballali Island on the 30th June 1943. Fearing an attack on the island, the day after this raid the prisoners on Ballali were put to death. A mass grave containing 436 bodies confirms this was the case, there were no surivors to tell the tale. The Korean guards mysteriously disapeared after the Jananese surrender.

      In February 1944, the prisoner at Rabaul were moved from Kokopo (called 'Death Valley' by the prisoners) to Watomo on Watom Island. Higaki explained the Japanese had orders to kill the prisoners at Rabaul if it was invaded, but by moving the prisoners to Watom Island they were thought to no longer be at Rabaul so were not killed when Rabaul was invaded.

      The prisoners were put to work on digging tunnels for the defence of the island. The beatings and ill-treatment continued untill 6th September 1945 when the eighteen remaining prisoners were taken back to Rabaul. The night after arriving at Rabaul they were ordered out of the tents to face a machine gun aimed at them, two Japanese officers were arguing and while this was going on Higaki walked over and stood with the prisoners. A Japanese Colonel then arrived and kicked the machine gun crew away and sent the prisoners on their way in a lorry to the beach, to be liberated.

      This is a very brief description as taken from Alf's book.
      The book also contains a Roll of the prisoners at Rabaul and Ballali Island.

      "What Price Bushido" is available from Rev Alf Baker as below:

      Price 12.50
      Postage & Packing 2.50
      Rev Alf Baker
      "The Anchorage"
      111 Trelawney Road
      Plymouth PL3 4JZ

      There is also:

      'Kll the Prisoners' by Don Wall
      'Hostages to Freedom - The Fall of Rabaul' by Peter Stone
      'Rabaul 1942' by Douglas Aplin

      Also look at:



Other Pages connected with Rabaul can be found at:

Gunners 600

Ballale Island


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