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Jonathan Wainwright Released From Japanese Prison Camp

Jonathan Wainwright Released From Japanese Prison Camp

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Speaking from U.S. Jonathan "Skinny" Wainwright, who commanded American and Filipino forces in the last days of Corregidor and Bataan in 1942, expresses his gratitude for his release. On August 20, 1945, he was found alive in a Japanese prison camp in Manchuria, where he'd been held captive for nearly four years.


Childhood and employment Edit

Arthur Ernest Percival was born on 26 December 1887 in Aspenden Lodge, Aspenden near Buntingford in Hertfordshire, England, the second son of Alfred Reginald and Edith Percival (née Miller). His father was the Land Agent of the Hamel's Park estate and his mother came from a Lancashire cotton family. [4]

Percival was initially schooled locally in Bengeo. Then in 1901, he was sent to Rugby with his more academically successful brother, where he was a boarder in School House. A moderate pupil, he studied Greek and Latin but was described by a teacher as "not a good classic". [5] Percival's only qualification on leaving in 1906 was a higher school certificate. He was a more successful sportsman, playing cricket and tennis and running cross country. [6] He also rose to colour sergeant in the school's Volunteer Rifle Corps. However, his military career began at a comparatively late age: although a member of Youngsbury Rifle Club, he was still working as a clerk for the iron ore merchants Naylor, Benzon & Company Limited in London, which he had joined in 1914, when the World War I broke out. [7]

Enlistment and First World War Edit

Percival enlisted on the first day of the war as a private in the Officer Training Corps of the Inns of Court, at the age of 26, and was promoted after five weeks' basic training to temporary second lieutenant. [8] Nearly one third of his fellow recruits would be dead by the end of the war. By November Percival had been promoted to captain. [9] The following year he was despatched to France with the newly formed 7th (Service) Battalion of the Bedfordshire Regiment, [8] which became part of the 54th Brigade, 18th (Eastern) Division in February 1915. The first day of the Battle of the Somme (1 July 1916) left Percival unscathed, but in September he was badly wounded in four places by shrapnel, as he led his company in an assault on the Schwaben Redoubt, beyond the ruins of Thiepval village, and was awarded the Military Cross. [10]

Percival took a regular commission as a captain with the Essex Regiment in October 1916, [11] whilst recovering from his injuries in hospital. He was appointed a temporary major in his original regiment. [12] In 1917, he became battalion commander with the temporary rank of lieutenant-colonel. [13] [14] [15] [16] [17] During Germany's Spring Offensive, Percival led a counter-attack that saved a unit of French artillery from capture, winning a Croix de Guerre. [18] For a short period in May 1918, he acted as commander of the 54th Brigade. He was given brevet promotion to major, [19] and awarded the Distinguished Service Order, with his citation noting his "power of command and knowledge of tactics". [20] He ended the war as a respected soldier, described as "very efficient" and was recommended for the Staff College. [21]

Russia Edit

Percival's studies were delayed in 1919 when he decided to volunteer for service with the Archangel Command of the British Military Mission during the North Russia Campaign of the Russian Civil War. Acting as second-in-command of the 45th Royal Fusiliers, he earned a bar to his DSO in August, when his attack in the Gorodok operation along the Dvina netted 400 Red Army prisoners. The citation reads:

He commanded the Gorodok column on 9–10 August 1919, with great gallantry and skill, and owing to the success of this column the forces on the right bank of the Dvina were able to capture all its objectives. During the enemy counter-attack from Selmenga on Gorodok he handled his men excellently. The enemy were repulsed with great loss, leaving 400 prisoners in our hands. [22]

Ireland Edit

In 1920 Percival served in Ireland against the Irish Republican Army (IRA) during the Irish War of Independence, first as a company commander and later the intelligence officer of the 1st Battalion of the Essex Regiment, in Kinsale, County Cork. [23]

Percival proved himself an energetic counter-guerrilla, noted for his aptitude for intelligence-gathering and the establishment of bicycle-riding 'Mobile Columns'. He was accused of brutality towards prisoners, [24] including the use of strikes of a rifle butt to the head, pincers to pull fingernails and burning cigarettes on the body. These accusations were substantiated by prisoners' testimony [25] but the veracity of the accounts has been challenged by a journalist. [26]

Following the IRA killing of a Royal Irish Constabulary sergeant outside Bandon church in July 1920, Percival captured Tom Hales, commander of the IRA's 3rd Cork Brigade, and Patrick Harte, the brigade's quartermaster, for which he was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE). Both prisoners later claimed to have been repeatedly beaten and tortured while in custody. Hales alleged that a pair of pliers had been used on his lower body and to extract his fingernails. Harte suffered brain injury and died in a mental hospital in 1925. Ormonde Winter, the head of British Intelligence in Dublin Castle, later named Hales as an informer who had invented the story as an excuse for providing the names of his fellow IRA members in return for a lesser sentence. [27] [28]

IRA commandant Tom Barry later stated that Percival was "easily the most vicious anti-Irish of all serving British officers". [29]

David Lloyd George and Winston Churchill met Percival in 1921, when he was called as an expert witness during an inquiry into the Anglo-Irish War. [30]

Percival would later deliver a series of lectures on his experiences in Ireland in which he stressed the importance of surprise and offensive action, intelligence-gathering, maintaining security and co-operation between the security forces. [31] In his reports Percival was scathing of the government's policy of the repeated release of IRA prisoners between 1916 and 1920 stating ". as these men immediately returned to their homes and organised the murder of those members of the RIC who had been instrumental in effecting their arrests". [32]

Historian J.B.E. Hittle wrote that of all the British officers in Ireland "Percival stood out for his violent, sadistic behaviour towards IRA prisoners, suspects and innocent civilians. He also participated in reprisals, burning farms and businesses in response to IRA attacks. [33] By contrast Clifford Kinvig, Percival's biographer considers him to have been unfairly vilified by Republican propaganda due to him being "tireless in his attempt to destroy the spirit of the people and the organisation of the IRA" [34]

Staff officer Edit

Percival attended the Staff College, Camberley from 1923 [35] to 1924, then commanded by General Edmund Ironside, where he was taught by J.F.C. Fuller, who was one of the few sympathetic reviewers of his book, The War in Malaya, twenty-five years later. He impressed his instructors, who picked him out as one of eight students for accelerated promotion, and his fellow students who admired his cricketing skills. Following an appointment as major with the Cheshire Regiment, he spent four years with the Nigeria Regiment of the Royal West African Frontier Force in West Africa as a staff officer. [36] [37] He was given brevet promotion to lieutenant-colonel in 1929. [38]

In 1930, Percival spent a year studying at the Royal Naval College, Greenwich. From 1931 to 1932, Percival was General Staff Officer Grade 2, an instructor at the Staff College. The college's commandant General Sir John Dill became Percival's mentor over the next 10 years, helping to ensure his protégé's advancement. Dill regarded Percival as a promising officer and wrote that "he has an outstanding ability, wide military knowledge, good judgment and is a very quick and accurate worker" but added "he has not altogether an impressive presence and one may therefore fail, at first meeting him, to appreciate his sterling worth". [39] With Dill's support, Percival was appointed to command the 2nd Battalion, the Cheshire Regiment from 1932 [40] to 1936, initially in Malta. In 1935, he attended the Imperial Defence College. [4]

Percival was made a full colonel in March 1936, [41] and until 1938 [42] he was General Staff Officer Grade 1 in Malaya, the Chief of Staff to General Dobbie, the General Officer Commanding in Malaya. During this time, he recognised that Singapore was no longer an isolated fortress. [43] He considered the possibility of the Japanese landing in Thailand to "burgle Malaya by the backdoor [44] and conducted an appraisal of the possibility of an attack being launched on Singapore from the North, which was supplied to the War Office, and which Percival subsequently felt was similar to the plan followed by the Japanese in 1941. [45] He also supported Dobbie's unexecuted plan for the construction of fixed defences in Southern Johore. In March 1938, he returned to Britain and was (temporarily) promoted to brigadier on the General Staff, Aldershot Command. [46]

Percival was appointed Brigadier, General Staff, of the I Corps, British Expeditionary Force, commanded by General Dill, from 1939 to 1940. He was then promoted to acting Major-General, [47] and in February 1940 briefly became General Officer Commanding (GOC) of the 43rd (Wessex) Infantry Division. He was made Assistant Chief of the Imperial General Staff at the War Office in 1940 but asked for a transfer to an active command after the Dunkirk evacuation. [48] [49] Given command of the 44th (Home Counties) Infantry Division, he spent 9 months organising the protection of 62 miles (100 km) of the English coast from invasion. [50] He was appointed a Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB) in the 1941 King's Birthday Honours. [51]

Percival's early assessment of the vulnerability of Singapore Edit

In 1936, Major-General William Dobbie, then General Officer Commanding (Malaya), made an inquiry into whether more forces were required on mainland Malaya to prevent the Japanese from establishing forward bases to attack Singapore. Percival, then his Chief Staff Officer, was tasked to draw up a tactical assessment of how the Japanese were most likely to attack. In late 1937, his analysis duly confirmed that north Malaya might become the critical battleground. The Japanese were likely to seize the east coast landing sites on Thailand and Malaya in order to capture aerodromes and achieve air superiority. This could serve as a prelude to further Japanese landings in Johore to disrupt communications northwards and enable the construction of another main base in North Borneo. From North Borneo, the final sea and air assault could be launched against eastern Singapore—in particular the Changi area. [52]

General Officer Commanding (Malaya) Edit

In April 1941 Percival was promoted to acting Lieutenant-General, [53] and was appointed General Officer Commanding (GOC) Malaya. This was a significant promotion for him as he had never commanded an army Corps. He left Britain in a Sunderland flying boat and embarked on an arduous two-week, multi-stage flight via Gibraltar, Malta, Alexandria (where he was delayed by the Anglo-Iraqi War), Basra, Karachi and Rangoon, where he was met by an RAF transport. [45]

Percival had mixed feelings about his appointment, noting that "In going to Malaya I realised that there was the double danger either of being left in an inactive command for some years if war did not break out in the East or, if it did, of finding myself involved in a pretty sticky business with the inadequate forces which are usually to be found in the distant parts of our Empire in the early stages of a war." [50]

For much of the interwar period, Britain's defensive plan for Malaya had centred on the dispatch of a naval fleet to the newly built Singapore Naval Base. Accordingly, the army's role was to defend Singapore and Southern Johore. While this plan had seemed adequate when the nearest Japanese base had been 1,700 miles (2,700 km) away, the outbreak of war in Europe, combined with the partial Japanese occupation of the northern part of French Indochina and the signing of the Tripartite Pact in September 1940, had underlined the difficulty of a sea-based defence. Instead it was proposed to use the RAF to defend Malaya, at least until reinforcements could be dispatched from Britain. This led to the building of airfields in northern Malaya and along its east coast and the dispersal of the available army units around the peninsula to protect them. [54]

On arrival, Percival set about training his inexperienced army his Indian troops were particularly raw, with most of their experienced officers having been withdrawn to support the formation of new units as the Indian army expanded. Relying upon commercial aircraft or the Volunteer air force to overcome the shortage of RAF planes, he toured the peninsula and encouraged the building of defensive works around Jitra. [55] A training manual approved by Percival, Tactical Notes on Malaya, was distributed to all units. [56]

In July 1941 when the Japanese occupied southern Indochina, Britain, the United States and the Netherlands imposed economic sanctions, freezing Japanese financial assets and cutting Japan from its supplies of oil, tin and rubber. The sanctions were aimed at pressuring Japan to abandon its involvement in China instead, the Japanese government planned to seize the resources of South-East Asia from the European nations by force. Both the Japanese navy and army were mobilised, but for the moment an uneasy state of cold war persisted. British Commonwealth reinforcements continued to trickle into Malaya. On 2 December, the battleship HMS Prince of Wales and the battle-cruiser HMS Repulse, escorted by four destroyers, arrived in Singapore, the first time a battle fleet had been based there. (They were to have been accompanied by the aircraft carrier HMS Indomitable to provide air cover but she had run aground in the Caribbean en route.) The following day Rear-Admiral Spooner hosted a dinner attended by the newly arrived Commander-in-Chief Eastern Fleet, Admiral Sir Tom Phillips, and Percival. [57]

Japanese attack and British surrender Edit

On 8 December 1941 the Japanese 25th Army under the command of Lieutenant-General Tomoyuki Yamashita launched an amphibious assault on the Malay Peninsula (one hour before the attack on Pearl Harbor the difference in date was because the two places lie on opposite sides of the international date line). That night the first Japanese invasion force arrived at Kota Bharu on Malaya's east coast. This was just a diversionary force, and the main landings took place the next day at Singora and Pattani on the south-eastern coast of Thailand, with troops rapidly deploying over the border into northern Malaya.

On 10 December Percival issued a stirring, if ultimately ineffective, Special Order of the Day:

In this hour of trial the General Officer Commanding calls upon all ranks Malaya Command for a determined and sustained effort to safeguard Malaya and the adjoining British territories. The eyes of the Empire are upon us. Our whole position in the Far East is at stake. The struggle may be long and grim but let us all resolve to stand fast come what may and to prove ourselves worthy of the great trust which has been placed in us. [58]

The Japanese advanced rapidly, and on 27 January 1942 Percival ordered a general retreat across the Johore Strait to the island of Singapore and organised a defence along the length of the island's 70-mile (110 km) coast line. But the Japanese did not dawdle, and on 8 February Japanese troops landed on the northwest corner of Singapore island. After a week of fighting on the island, Percival held his final command conference at 9 am on 15 February in the Battle Box of Fort Canning. The Japanese had already occupied approximately half of Singapore and it was clear that the island would soon fall. Having been told that ammunition and water would both run out by the following day, Percival agreed to surrender. The Japanese at this point were running low on artillery shells, but Percival did not know this. [59]

The Japanese insisted that Percival himself march under a white flag to the Old Ford Motor Factory in Bukit Timah to negotiate the surrender. A Japanese officer present noted that he looked "pale, thin and tired". [60] After a brief disagreement, when Percival insisted that the British keep 1,000 men under arms in Singapore to preserve order, which Yamashita finally conceded, it was agreed at 6:10 pm that the British Empire troops would lay down their arms and cease resistance at 8:30 pm. This was in spite of instructions from Prime Minister Winston Churchill for prolonged resistance. [2]

A common view holds that 138,708 Allied personnel surrendered or were killed by fewer than 30,000 Japanese. However, the former figure includes nearly 50,000 troops captured or killed during the Battle of Malaya, and perhaps 15,000 base troops. Many of the other troops were tired and under-equipped following their retreat from the Malayan peninsula. Conversely, the latter number represents only the front-line troops available for the invasion of Singapore. British Empire battle casualties since 8 December amounted to 7,500 killed and 11,000 wounded. Japanese losses totalled around 3,500 killed and 6,100 wounded. [61]

Culpability for the fall of Singapore Edit

Churchill viewed the fall of Singapore to be "the worst disaster and largest capitulation in British history." However, the British defence was that the Middle East and the Soviet Union had all received higher priorities in the allocation of men and material, so the desired air force strength of 300 to 500 aircraft was never reached, and whereas the Japanese invaded with over two hundred tanks, the British Army in Malaya did not have a single tank. [62] In The War in Malaya Percival himself cites this as the major factor for the defeat stating that the 'war material which might have saved Singapore was sent to Russia and the Middle East'. However he also concedes that Britain was engaged in 'a life and death struggle in the West' and that 'this decision, however painful and regrettable, was inevitable and right'. [63]

In 1918, Percival had been described as "a slim, soft spoken man. with a proven reputation for bravery and organisational powers" [64] but by 1945 this description had been turned on its head with even Percival's defenders describing him as "something of a damp squib". [65] The fall of Singapore switched Percival's reputation to that of an ineffective "staff wallah", lacking ruthlessness and aggression, even though few doubted that he was a brave and determined officer. Over six feet in height and lanky, with a clipped moustache and two protruding teeth, and unphotogenic, Percival was an easy target for a caricaturist, being described as "tall, bucktoothed and lightly built". [66] There was no doubt his presentation lacked impact as "his manner was low key and he was a poor public speaker with the cusp of a lisp". [67]

Air Chief Marshal Sir Robert Brooke-Popham, the Commander-in-Chief of the British Far East Command, refused Percival permission to launch Operation Matador in advance of the Japanese landings in Thailand, not wishing to run any risk of provoking the coming war. Brooke-Popham also had a reputation for falling asleep in meetings and not arguing forcefully for the air reinforcements required to defend Malaya. [68]

Peter Wykeham suggested that the government in London was more to blame than any of the British commanders in the Far East. Despite repeated requests, the British government did not provide the necessary reinforcements and they denied Brooke-Popham – and therefore Percival – permission to enter neutral Thailand before it was too late to put in place forward defences. [69]

Moreover, Percival had difficulties with his subordinates Sir Lewis "Piggy" Heath, commanding Indian III Corps, and the independent-minded Gordon Bennett, commanding the Australian 8th Division. The former officer had been senior to Percival prior to his appointment as GOC (Malaya). [70]

Percival was ultimately responsible for the men who served under him, and with other officers – notably Major-General David Murray-Lyon, commander of the Indian 11th Infantry Division – he had shown a willingness to replace them when he felt their performance was not up to scratch. Perhaps his greatest mistake was to resist the building of fixed defences in either Johore or the north shore of Singapore, dismissing them in the face of repeated requests to start construction from his Chief Engineer, Brigadier Ivan Simson, with the comment "Defences are bad for morale – for both troops and civilians". [71]

Percival also insisted on defending the north-eastern shore of Singapore most heavily, against the advice of the Allied supreme commander in South East Asia, General Archibald Wavell. Percival was perhaps fixed on his responsibilities for defending the Singapore Naval Base. [72] He also spread his forces thinly around the island and kept few units as a strategic reserve. When the Japanese attack came in the west, the Australian 22nd Brigade took the brunt of the assault. [73] Percival refused to reinforce them as he continued to believe that the main assault would occur in the north east. [74]

In the post-war Percival Report (written in 1946, published in 1948) the "imminent collapse" of the water supply, estimated by David J. Murnane, the Municipal Water Engineer, on 14 February to occur within 24–48 hours, was highlighted as a direct cause for surrender. [75] According to oral history records, quoted by Louis Allen (author of Singapore 1941–42), Murnane asked for and was promised by General Percival "ten lorries and a hundred Royal Engineers" so he could fix the water supply leaks caused by Japanese bombing and shelling. He never got what he needed: Louis Allen says Murnane got 'one lorry and ten frightened Sikhs'. When confronted again, all that Percival delivered (on 14 February) was one lorry and ten Royal Engineers but it was too late. [76]

Captivity Edit

Percival himself was briefly held prisoner in Changi Prison, where "the defeated GOC could be seen sitting head in hands, outside the married quarters he now shared with seven brigadiers, a colonel, his ADC and cook-sergeant. He discussed feelings with few, spent hours walking around the extensive compound, ruminating on the reverse and what might have been". [77] In the belief that it would improve discipline, he reconstituted a Malaya Command, complete with staff appointments, and helped occupy his fellow prisoners with lectures on the Battle of France. [78]

Along with the other senior British captives above the rank of colonel, Percival was removed from Singapore in August 1942. First he was imprisoned in Formosa and then sent on to Manchuria, where he was held with several dozen other VIP captives, including the American General Jonathan Wainwright, in a prisoner-of-war camp near Hsian, about 100 miles (160 km) to the north east of Mukden. [79]

As the war drew to an end, an OSS team removed the prisoners from Hsian. Percival was then taken, along with Wainwright, to stand immediately behind General Douglas MacArthur as he confirmed the terms of the Japanese surrender aboard USS Missouri (BB-63) in Tokyo Bay on 2 September 1945. [80] Afterwards, MacArthur gave Percival a pen he had used to sign the treaty. [81]

Percival and Wainwright then returned together to the Philippines to witness the surrender of the Japanese army there, which in a twist of fate was commanded by General Yamashita. Yamashita was momentarily surprised to see his former captive at the ceremony on this occasion Percival refused to shake Yamashita's hand, angered by the mistreatment of POWs in Singapore. The flag carried by Percival's party on the way to Bukit Timah was also a witness to this reversal of fortunes, being flown when the Japanese formally surrendered Singapore back to Lord Louis Mountbatten. [82]

Percival returned to the United Kingdom in September 1945 to write his despatch at the War Office but this was revised by the UK Government and only published in 1948. [83] He retired from the army in 1946 with the honorary rank of lieutenant-general but the pension of his substantive rank of major-general. [84] Thereafter, he held appointments connected with the county of Hertfordshire, where he lived at Bullards in Widford: he was Honorary Colonel of 479th (Hertfordshire Yeomanry) Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery, (T.A.) from 1949 to 1954 [85] [86] and acted as one of the Deputy Lieutenants of Hertfordshire in 1951. [87] He continued his relationship with the Cheshire Regiment being appointed Colonel of the Cheshire Regiment between 1950 and 1955 [88] [89] an association continued by his son, Brigadier James Percival who became Colonel of the Regiment between 1992 and 1999. [90]

Percival was respected for the time he had spent as a Japanese prisoner of war. Serving as life president of the Far East Prisoners of War Association (FEPOW), he pushed for compensation for his fellow captives, eventually helping to obtain a token £5 million of frozen Japanese assets for this cause. This was distributed by the FEPOW Welfare Trust, on which Percival served as Chairman. [91] He led protests against the film The Bridge on the River Kwai when it was released in 1957, obtaining the addition of an on-screen statement that the movie was a work of fiction. He also worked as President of the Hertfordshire British Red Cross and was made an Officer of the Venerable Order of Saint John in 1964. [92]

Percival died at the age of 78 on 31 January 1966, in King Edward VII's Hospital for Officers, Beaumont Street in Westminster, and is buried in the churchyard at Widford in Hertfordshire. [93]

Family Edit

On 27 July 1927 Percival married Margaret Elizabeth "Betty" MacGregor Greer in Holy Trinity Church, Brompton. She was the daughter of Thomas MacGregor Greer of Tallylagan Manor, a Protestant linen merchant from County Tyrone in Northern Ireland. They had met during his tour of duty in Ireland but it had taken Percival several years to propose. They had two children. A daughter, Dorinda Margery, was born in Greenwich and became Lady Dunleath. Alfred James MacGregor, their son, was born in Singapore and served in the British Army. [94]

Shenyang WW2 Allied Prisoners Camp Site Museum – Mukden POW Camp

Shenyang WWII Allied Prisoners Camp Site Museum

In 2017, I sought out the site of Mukden Allied Prisoner of War Camp in Shenyang, Liaoning province, Northeast China. Mukden Camp, also known as Hoten Camp, was located on the outskirts of Mukden, present-day Shenyang. The former POW site, at Di Tan Street, in the Dadong district of Shenyang, is now the location of the Shenyang WWII Allied Prisoners Camp Museum. It has one of the best preserved examples of an Allied POW camp. At the time of my visit, the new museum had not been completed.

The Old Site of Mukden Allied Prisoner of War Camp, WWII

A prominent memorial plaque in the museum grounds was still in the process of being erected and was partially obscured. Nevertheless, the plaque provides an excellent overview of the camp’s history from which I have transcribed the following (one line was not visible):

Shenyang WWII Allied POW Camp November 1942 – August 1945 Overview

During World War II Japan transgressed the international convention and set up a prisoner-of-war camp in Mukden (present-day Shenyang) of Northeast China specially for locking up prisoners captured from the allied forces at the Pacific Theater. Known as the “Mukden internment camp” under the jurisdiction of the commander-in-chief of the Japanese Kwantung Army, the camp consisted of the main camp, the first sub-camp, the second sub-camp, and 3 detachment camps. With its occupied areas coming to 50,000 square metres, the main camp had 20-plus buildings inclusive of POW barracks and houses for Japanese armymen and was one of the typical POW camps built by Japanese troops inside Japan and the territories in occupation during World War II. From November 11, 1942 to August 20, 1945 over 2,000 US, British, Canadian, Australian, Dutch and French captives were successively imprisoned in the “Mukden Internent Camp”, including large numbers of senior officers such as the US and British supreme commanders of the Pacific Theater. As a consequence, not only the multiplicity of captives’ nationalities feature the internment camp, but the camp was also characterized by the high military ranks and large numbers of prisoners.
Put under close surveillance and oppressed cruelly by the Japanese army over 3 years’ time, large numbers of prisoners of war died from extreme mental and physical maltreatment such as hunger, beating-up, diseases. Faced with such wicked circumstances, the the prisoners did not give up their will to fight and “persevered … from the smoke-filled battlefields.” At that moment, the help from kind-hearted Chinese workers was the only solicitude felt by them on the alien land.
On August 9, 1945, the Soviet Red Army dispatched troops to Northeast China in the light of the Yalta Agreement, On August 15, Japan declared unconditional surrender. On August 20, the Soviet army entered the Internment camp and the prisoners regained freedom.

Some further history: the first prisoners at Mukden camp had been tansported on the Japanese ship Tottori Maru. On 6th October 1942, the Japanese Tottori Maru had sailed from Manilla, Phillipines with 31 American officer prisoners-of-war (POWs) and 1,930 enlisted POWs from POW camps at Cabanatuan, Luzon and Malabalay, Mindanao. a few of the POWs were survivors of the infamous ‘Bataan Death March’ and some had been captured on the island of Corregidor. A month later, on 7th November 1942, the ship made port at Fusan (Pusan) present-day Busan, South Korea. At Fusan the POWS were disembarked. Two days later, on 9th November 1942, 14 officers and 1,288 enlisted POWs were issued winter clothes and sent by train to Mukden, Manchukuo (Manchuria). A second group of POWs arrived in April 1945, which included captives from Singapore, and a third group in May, that had been relocated from a camp in Cheng Chia Tun.

Japanese ‘Hell ship’ Tottori Maru

Following Japan’s surrender on 15th August 1945, the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), a United States wartime intelligence agency, carried out a ‘Mercy Mission’ code-named ‘Cardinal’. On 16th August 1945, a six-man team led by Major James T. Hennessy were parachuted into a field near to Mukden Camp. They were captured by a Japanese patrol, disarmed and beaten, the Japanese-American interpreter severely- all were later released. Two days later, the local Japanese commander, surrendered and the OSS team entered the camp. The team, whilst on the mercy mission, also sought high -ranking officers that included Lt. Gen. Jonathan Wainwright and Lt. General Arthur Percival. However, the two Lt.Gen were being held at another POW camp, some 100 miles away.

The Soviet Union had declared war on Japan, on 8th August 1945, and invaded Manchuria just after midnight on 9th August. On 19th August 1945, some 250-300 Soviet airborne troops were dropped into Mukden. Forward mobile units of the 6th Guards Tank Army, part of the Transbaikal Front, also arrived. The camp was liberated by the Soviet Red Army on 20th August 1945,

Mukden Allied POW Camp during WW2

It should not be forgotten: that Unit 731, officially the Epidemic Prevention and Water Purification Department of the Kwantung Army, was active at Mukden Camp. Unit 731 of the Japanese Imperial Army, was a covert biologocal and chemical warfare research and development unit based in the Pinfang district of Harbin. Unit 731 committed many crimes against humanity. From post-war evidence, Unit 731 was also involved with medical experiments at Mukden camp. A drawing from the museum, is entitled ‘ A group of Doctors’, believed to be from Unit 731 take measurements from POWs’. Major Robert Peaty (British Army, Royal Ordnance Corps), POW No.24, wrote: ‘entry for January 30, 1943 notes, “Everyone received a 5 cc Typhoid-paratyphoid A inoculation.” The February 23, 1943 entry read “Funeral service for 142 dead. 186 have died in 5 days, all Americans.”.’ Following a secret agreement, high ranking officers of Unit 731 who were involved with these crimes were granted immunity from prosecution by the United States. Nevertheless, the Soviet Red Army did manage to capture 12 members of Unit 731 elsewhere – later to be tried at the Khabarovsk War Crime Trials in 1949.

Finally, a quotation from Mukden Camp POW No.14 Arnold Bocksel, who had served on the US Army Mineplanter (USAMP) Harrison:

Sleep is the opiate of those imprisoned. With eyes closed in slumber, you re-enter old worlds and familiar places. You can go back home and visit with your family and friends. Eat another of Mom’s great meals, see close friends, especially old girlfriends, have fun, and most of all, escape from the reality which is now.

From Rice, Men and Barbed Wire written by Arnold A. Bocksel (1991)

Here are some of the pictures I took at the museum site, including images of drawings and quotations created by Allied prisoners. Click on the thumbnails to view the galleries.

Wainwright, nicknamed "Skinny" and "Jim", was born at Fort Walla Walla, an Army post now in Walla Walla, Washington, and was the son of Robert Powell Page Wainwright, a U.S. Army officer who was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the 1st Cavalry in 1875, commanded a squadron at the Battle of Santiago de Cuba during the Spanish–American War, and in 1902 was killed in action in the Philippines. His grandfather was Lieutenant Jonathan Mayhew Wainwright II, USN, who was killed in action during the Civil War. Congressman J. Mayhew Wainwright was a cousin. [1]

He graduated from Highland Park High School in Illinois in 1901, and from West Point in 1906. He served as First Captain of the Corps of Cadets. [2]

Wainwright was commissioned in the cavalry. He served with the 1st Cavalry Regiment (United States) in Texas from 1906 to 1908 and in the Philippines from 1908 to 1910, where he saw combat on Jolo, during the Moro Rebellion. Wainwright graduated from the Mounted Service School, Fort Riley, Kansas, in 1916 and was promoted to Captain. By 1917, he was on the staff of the first officer training camp at Plattsburgh, New York.

In February 1918, during World War I, Wainwright was ordered to France. In June, he became assistant chief of staff of the U.S. 82nd Infantry Division, with which he took part in the Saint Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne Offensives. As a temporary lieutenant colonel, he was assigned to occupation duty in Germany with the 3rd Army at Koblenz, Germany, from October 1918 until 1920. Having reverted to the rank of captain, he was then promoted to major.

After a year as an instructor at the Cavalry School at Fort Riley, Wainwright was attached to the general staff from 1921 to 1923 and assigned to the 3rd US Cavalry Regiment, Fort Myer, Virginia, from 1923–25. In 1929, he was promoted to lieutenant colonel and graduated from the Command and General Staff School, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, in 1931, and from the Army War College in 1934.

Wainwright was promoted to colonel in 1935, and served as commander of the 3rd US Cavalry Regiment until 1938, when he was promoted to brigadier general in command of the 1st Cavalry Brigade at Fort Clark, Texas.

In September 1940, Wainwright was promoted to major general (temporary) and returned to the Philippines, in December, as commander of the Philippine Department. [3]

As the senior field commander of Filipino and US forces under General Douglas MacArthur, Wainwright was responsible for resisting the Japanese invasion of the Philippines, which began in December 1941. On December 8, 1941, he commanded the North Luzon Force, comprising three reserve Filipino divisions and the 26th Cavalry Regiment (Philippine Scouts). [4] Retreating from the Japanese beachhead of Lingayen Gulf, Allied forces had withdrawn onto the Bataan Peninsula and Corregidor by January 1942, where they defended the entrance to Manila Bay. [5]

Following the evacuation of MacArthur to Australia in March to serve as Allied Supreme Commander, South West Pacific Area, Wainwright inherited the unenviable position of Allied commander in the Philippines. Also that March, Wainwright was promoted to lieutenant general (temporary). On April 9, the 70,000 troops on Bataan surrendered under the command of Major General Edward P. King. On May 5, the Japanese attacked Corregidor. Due to lack of supplies (mainly food and ammunition) [6] and in the interest of minimizing casualties, Wainwright notified Japanese General Masaharu Homma he was surrendering on May 6.

Wainwright at the same time sent a coded message to Maj. Gen. William F. Sharp, in charge of forces on Mindanao naming him as commander of all forces in the Philippines, excepting those on Corregidor and three other islands in Manila Bay. Sharp was now to report to Gen. MacArthur, now stationed in Australia. This was to cause as few troops as possible to be surrendered. Homma refused to allow the surrender of any less than all the troops in the Philippines and considered the troops on and around Corregidor to be hostages to ensure other forces in the Philippines would lay down their arms. Wainwright then agreed to surrender Sharp's men. [7]

General Sharp was placed in a difficult position. He knew if he ignored Wainwright's wish for him to surrender that the hostage troops and civilians at Corregidor could be massacred. Though his troops were badly mauled, they could still put up a fight. It had been expected they would fight on as a guerrilla force. In the end, on May 10 Sharp decided to surrender. Sharp's surrender proved problematic for the Japanese, although Sharp and many of his men surrendered and suffered as prisoners of war until liberated in 1945. A large number of Sharp's men, the vast majority of them Filipino, refused to surrender. Some soldiers considered Wainwright's surrender to have been made under duress, and ultimately decided to join the guerrilla movement led by Colonel Wendell Fertig. [8]

By June 9, Allied forces had completely surrendered. Wainwright was then held in prison camps in northern Luzon, Formosa, and Liaoyuan (then called Xi'an and a county within Manchukuo) until he got rescued by the Red Army in August 1945. [9]

Wainwright was the highest-ranking American POW, and, despite his rank, his treatment at the hands of the Japanese was no less unpleasant than most of his men. When he met General MacArthur in August 1945 shortly after his liberation, he had become thin and malnourished from three years of mistreatment during captivity. After witnessing the Japanese surrender aboard the USS Missouri on September 2, together with Lieutenant-General Arthur Percival, he returned to the Philippines to receive the surrender of the local Japanese commander, Lieutenant-General Tomoyuki Yamashita. [ citation needed ]

Dubbed by his men a "fighting" general who was willing to get down in the foxholes, Wainwright won the respect of all who were imprisoned with him. He agonized over his decision to surrender Corregidor throughout his captivity, feeling that he had let his country down. Upon release, the first question he asked was how people back in the U.S. thought of him, and he was amazed when told he was considered a hero. He later received the Medal of Honor, an honor which had first been proposed early in his captivity, in 1942, but was rejected due to the vehement opposition of General MacArthur, who felt that Corregidor should not have been surrendered. MacArthur did not oppose the renewed proposal in 1945. [10] [11]

Rank and Organization: General, Commanding U.S. Army Forces in the Philippines. Place and date: Philippine Islands, 12 March to 7 May 1942. Entered Service at: Skaneateles, N.Y. Birth: Walla Walla, Wash. G.O. No.: 80, 19 September 1945.

Distinguished himself by intrepid and determined leadership against greatly superior enemy forces. At the repeated risk of life above and beyond the call of duty in his position, he frequented the firing line of his troops where his presence provided the example and incentive that helped make the gallant efforts of these men possible. The final stand on beleaguered Corregidor, for which he was in an important measure personally responsible, commanded the admiration of the Nation's allies. It reflected the high morale of American arms in the face of overwhelming odds. His courage and resolution were a vitally needed inspiration to the then sorely pressed freedom-loving peoples of the world. [12]

General Wainwright was presented the Medal of Honor in an impromptu ceremony when he visited the White House 10 September 1945 – he was not aware that he was there to be decorated by President Truman.

On September 5, 1945, shortly after the Japanese surrender, Wainwright was promoted to four-star General. On September 13, a ticker-tape parade in New York City was held in his honor. [13] On September 28, 1945, he was named commander of the Second Service Command and the Eastern Defense Command at Fort Jay, Governors Island, New York. [14]

On January 11, 1946, he was named commander of the Fourth Army at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, filling the vacancy left by the November 21, 1945 death of Lt. General Alexander Patch. [15] Patch, formerly commander of Seventh Army in the closing days of World War II, had returned in poor health to head Fourth Army in August 1945.

Wainwright reluctantly ended his army career on August 31, 1947 upon reaching the mandatory retirement age of 64. In an emotional military review at Fort Sam Houston, he remarked with a touch of sadness, "This is not an occasion at which I can open my brief remarks with the somewhat stereotyped statement that I am happy to be here. For the generous tribute you have paid me here today I am deeply grateful." He went on to say, "For an old soldier to say that it is a pleasure to take his last review, to address his troops for the last time, and to make his last public appearance as a commander, is in my mind at least a stretch of the imagination and a far cry from the truth." [16]

He became a Freemason in May 1946 at Union Lodge No. 7. in Junction City, Kansas, and a Shriner soon after. [17] [18] [19] [20]

About 1935, Wainwright was elected a Hereditary Companion of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States (insignia number 19087) by right of his grandfather's service in the Union Navy during the Civil War. He was also a Compatriot of the Sons of the American Revolution.

He served on the board of directors for several corporations after his retirement. He made himself available to speak before veterans' groups and filled almost every request to do so. He never felt any bitterness toward MacArthur for his actions in the Philippines or MacArthur's attempt to deny him the Medal of Honor. In fact, when it appeared that MacArthur might be nominated for president at the 1948 Republican National Convention, Wainwright stood ready to make the nominating speech. [10]

He died of a stroke in San Antonio, Texas on September 2, 1953, aged 70. [21]

Wainwright was buried in Section 1 of Arlington National Cemetery, next to his wife and near his parents, with a Masonic service and is one of the few people to have had their funeral held in the lower level of the Memorial Amphitheater. [22] [ failed verification ]

Officers Salute Macarthur as He Signs the Document on Japan's Surrender

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Storming the Philippines

On December 8, 1941, the Japanese brought the war to MacArthur and Wainwright. Commanding a combination of American and Filipino troops, it became apparent early on the Japanese had an overwhelming force. Executing pre-war plans to hold out in the Philippines until reinforcements arrived from the mainland, MacArthur ordered Wainwright to delay at all costs. Throughout the conflict, he could frequently be seen close to the action and directly engaged in the fight reinforcing his title as “the Last Fighting General.”

However, the superior Japanese forces proved too capable, and the order was given to withdraw to the infamous Bataan Peninsula and the fortress island of Corregidor. Then Bataan, having endured several months of siege, was completely overrun in April 1942. It left only the island of Corregidor commanded by Wainwright to determine the fate of the rest of the forces in the Philippines. Having withdrawn to Australia, MacArthur ordered Wainwright to hold out at all costs, but the General on Corregidor saw a different picture.

Wainwright ordering the surrender of American troops in the Philippines

Wainwright and the men of Corregidor continued their courageous stand. Again, Wainwright could be seen checking the front lines, leaping in and out of foxholes, and firing back at the Japanese as best he could.

However, by May 6 they were exhausted. The promised reinforcements had not materialized. To avoid the impending slaughter of his forces that had fought so hard Wainwright assessed they could fight no more. Attempting to surrender only the forces on Corregidor, he contacted the Japanese. They refused, recognizing they could use the survivors as hostages. Realizing the atrocity ready to take place and the inability to fight any longer, Wainwright surrendered all the Philippine forces on May 8, 1942.

How the OSS Found General Wainwright

General Wainwright’s captivity lasted 39 months and took him from the Philippines to Formosa, Japan, Korea, and ultimately Manchuria.

On May 6, 1942, in the Malinta Tunnel, Corregidor Island, General Jonathan Wainwright waited for the Japanese to respond to his surrender offer with a cease-fire. The courageous Army officer took the remaining time before entering into captivity to send a last message to President Franklin Roosevelt: “With broken heart and head bowed in sadness, but not in shame I report to Your Excellency that today I must arrange terms for the surrender of the fortified islands of Manila Bay. If you agree, please say to the nation that my troops and I accomplished all that is humanly possible and that we have upheld the best traditions of the United States Army. May God bless and preserve and guide you and the nation in the ultimate victory. With profound regret and continued pride in my gallant troops I go to meet the Japanese commander. Good Bye, Mr. President.”

The 59-year-old professional soldier had been promoted to lieutenant general and appointed commander of all American and Filipino forces in March 1942 just prior to General Douglas MacArthur’s departure for Australia. He graduated from West Point in 1906 and followed his father’s legacy by requesting assignment to the cavalry. General Wainwright was a combat veteran of World War I and was posted to the Philippines on the eve of war in December 1941.

Wainwright continued to lead American and Filipino forces in the battle for the Bataan Peninsula until overwhelmed by numerically superior Japanese units, forcing a withdrawal to Corregidor Island in Manila Bay where the fight continued for another month. Thousands of Americans and Filipinos were taken prisoner by the enemy and endured torture and appalling hardships for the next three years. General Wainwright’s captivity lasted 39 months and took him from the Philippines to Formosa, Japan, Korea, and ultimately Manchuria.

Finding Wainwright

On August 6, 1945, an atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, and three days later a second bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. By August 12, Japanese surrender seemed imminent. Both military and public concern now shifted to the welfare of Americans who had been taken captive during the early days of the war.

Many prisoners had already been freed with the liberation of the Philippines, but many were still not accounted for. Of special interest to Americans was the fate of General Wainwright. Allied intelligence was aware of several POW camps in North China and Manchuria and believed that Wainwright was held in one near Mukden, Manchuria. There was also evidence that other high-ranking Allied officials were held in the camp, such as General Arthur E. Percival, the former commander of Singapore. Despite Japan’s readiness to surrender, there were still over a million Japanese troops in North China and an entire army group in Manchuria.

The reaction of Japanese field troops to the surrender was unpredictable. There was a possibility of a POW massacre such as occurred in the Philippines prior to the raid on the prison camp at Cabantuan in which a force of Army Rangers, Alamo Scouts, and Filipino guerrillas stormed the notorious camp in January 1945.

Further complicating the situation for Allied planners was the declaration of war by the Soviet Union against Japan on August 8, 1945, which was followed by an invasion of Manchuria.

The Allies developed plans to insert OSS (Office of Strategic Services, the forerunner of the CIA) teams to liberate and protect Allied prisoners held by the Japanese. The six-man teams organized for rescue and humanitarian operations became known as Mercy Missions. Contact Teams had been used in Europe to assist in the liberation of German POW camps, but the operations in China faced a special challenge. There would be a significant lag time between the contact and rescue of POWs and the linkup with friendly ground forces.

Nine teams were organized for missions throughout North China and Manchuria. Of these, the Cardinal Mission became the highest profile operation. The mission launched a parachute drop of a carefully selected OSS team into Manchuria, 900 miles from the Allied headquarters at Chungking.

Major Robert F. Hennessy, a 27-year-old West Point graduate, was selected as leader. Major Robert F. Lamar, a 31-year-old physician, was second in command. In early August, Hennessy and Lamar, along with four other OSS men, parachuted into Manchuria in the vicinity of a prison camp at Hoten near the city of Mukden. Wainwright, however, could not be found. The camp commander advised the OSS officers that the general was held 100 miles to the north at the Sian POW compound. Hennessy directed Lamar and Sergeant Harold Leith, a linguist fluent in both Russian and Chinese, to travel to the Sian Camp and locate Wainwright.

“Are You Really an American?”

After a long and arduous nocturnal train ride, Lamar and Leith arrived at the Sian Camp on the morning of Sunday, August 19. The two OSS agents met with the camp commander, and after a short but confrontational discussion General Wainwright was summoned. A poignant meeting between the Americans occurred a few minutes later. General Wainwright suddenly appeared in the doorway of the commander’s office. The emaciated American hero stood silently in tattered clothing. The OSS men stared at each other with stunned disbelief.

Wainwright broke the silence. “Are you really an American?” he asked.

“General, you are no longer a prisoner of war. You’re going back to the States,” Lamar responded.

Wainwright, however, was conflicted. He had survived over three years of brutal captivity and was afraid of what his fellow Americans thought of him. Would he return to the United States in disgrace and live the remainder of his life in shame?

Wainwright responded slowly, his voice cracking with emotion, and asked the question he had agonized over for three terrible years. “What do the people in the States think of me?”

“You’re considered a hero,” Lamar replied.

The tired old general nodded silently but was still not convinced.

Finding a Means of Escape

Lamar immediately tried to communicate the news to Hennessy in Mukden, but his radio was not working and the Russians had cut the telephone lines. The OSS officer felt the urgency to get General Wainwright and the other liberated prisoners back to Mukden for air evacuation to the safety of Chungking. Japanese units in the area were still armed and dangerous, despite the surrender of the Empire.

Lamar was afraid that General Wainwright and other high-status prisoners such as General Arthur Percival, the former British commander at Singapore, could be kidnapped by rogue Japanese or Russian units and used as hostages. The only course of action for Lamar was to return by train to Mukden and come back to Sian with a convoy of transport vehicles. He estimated his return time to be two days. Leith, because of his fluency in Chinese and Russian, was left with General Wainwright.

Three days passed without the arrival of Lamar and the rescue convoy. The general feared that the OSS officer had been killed before he was able to report the location of the liberated prisoners. Lamar had arrived in Mukden, but the Russians were now in control of the city and on a drunken rampage. The Soviet military had no interest in assisting the Cardinal team in the rescue of the freed POWs. Hennessy and Lamar were powerless to obtain the needed vehicles from the uncooperative Russians.

Meanwhile, General Wainwright and the other prisoners were gripped by frustration and desperation. They were technically free but were still confined to their prison. Ironically, the prison wire now provided some protection from rogue Japanese infantry and uncontrolled Russian troops.

Three Days, 100 Miles

On the afternoon of August 24, the prisoners’ emotions soared as a column of American- made vehicles approached the compound. But, as the convoy got closer, large red stars were spotted on the trucks. It was a Russian unit driving U.S. Lend-Lease equipment.

General Wainwright greeted the Russian commander and, using Sergeant Leith as a translator, requested help in getting to Mukden. The Russian replied that his unit was going to Mukden and the liberated prisoners could join them if they provided their own transportation.

The old general reflexively reverted to his precaptivity command personality and quickly organized the liberated POWs while giving orders to his former captors to obtain the needed transportation. By 6 pm, the Russian convoy rolled out of the Sian prison camp with General Wainwright’s contingent. The freed prisoners hoped to be in Mukden the following morning. However, the Russian commander became lost on the Manchurian backroads. Adding to the problems, a torrential rainstorm struck on the afternoon of the 25th, turning the roads into a muddy quagmire.

The prisoners’ vehicles became stuck in the thick mud, and the Russians threatened to leave them. However, a rail line was discovered nearby and a short time later a small engine pulling three cars appeared. The Russian commander wanted to rid himself of the POW burden. He halted the train and forced the Japanese crew at gunpoint to take General Wainwright and his group. Misfortune quickly followed. The engine jumped the track a short distance from the Russian unit. The frustrated commander stated that he had to continue on but would send help. Wainwright and his exhausted comrades spent a sleepless night in the small passenger cars.

TRUMAN RECALLS WAINWRIGHT SNUB Asserts MacArthur Treated General in Cavalier Way

Former President Harry S. Truman asserts that late General of the Army Douglas MacArthus treated his subordinate, late Gen. Jonathan M. Wainwright, cavalierly when General Wainwright reported to him on his release from a Japanese prisoner‐of‐war camp.

Mr. Truman makes the charge in the second part of his TV series, “Decision: The Conflicts of Harry S. Truman.” The broadcast will be presented elsewhere in the nation tomorrow night and at 10:30 P.M. Friday on Station WNEW‐TV, Channel 5.

Mr. Truman recalls that General Wainwright “was as badly treated as any prisoner of war ever was they knocked him about just as meanly as they could.” Then he continues:

“Well, as soon as the surrender came [in 1945], and the Japanese surrendered, I sent a plane to pick up those imprisoned officers and brought them back. General Wainwright, of course, felt that he ought to stop by and see his former commanding general in Japan.”

General MacArthur was at lunch at the time, Mr. Truman says.

“General Wainwright walked in on him and started to salute and talk to him. MacArthur—instead of asking him to sit down and have lunch—he said, ‘General, I told you Iɽ see you at 3 oɼlock! I'll see you at that time.’

“Well, some time later I sent for General Wainwright, and I gave him the Congressional Medal of Honor. The old man stood there with tears running down his eyes, and he said, ‘Mr. President, I didn't thinkyouu would do this for me. I thought you would have me court‐martialed!’

“I said, ‘You're not the one I want to court‐martial!’”

The records thusfarhave given a different version of tte relations between Generals Wainwright and MacArthur General Wainwright died in September, 1953, General MMcArthur lastApril.

At the meeting in Japan, a photograph was taken and published widely showing Gener al MacArthur embracing General Wainwright. On Jan. 16, General Wainwright gave an interview in which he saidhe believed it would be a “mistake” for General Dwight D. Eisenhower or General MacArthur to accept a Presidential nomination.

“No grand, good soldier ever made a good politician,” he said.

However, on June 22, 1948, General Wainwrigh signed a letter to delegates to the Republican National Convention urging General MacArthur's nomination.

In 1951, General Wainwright again posed for a picture of greeting to General MacArthur. That year he wrote:

“I feel that Lee, Grant and MacArthur were probably the greatest soldiers this country ever produced.”

In 1952, he agreed to run as a favorite‐son candidate in Wisconsin to gather votes for General MacArthur.

In the broadcast, Mr. Truman repeats his charges that part of his trouble with General MacArthur was due to an effort by the general “to get himself in good” with the Republican party so he could win the Republican nomination for President.

The former President adds that if the general had “stuck to his military duties,” he might “well have been an occupant of the White House.”

Happy Birthday General Wainwright

Wainwright at liberation August 1945
T oday, is the anniversary of General Jonathan Wainwright's 62nd birthday. In 1945, he celebrated while not quite a free man. He was liberated the next day, the 24th. Wainwright was in a Japanese POW camp in Northern China where he and other high-value Allied officers were held. As head of U.S. Forces in the Philippines, he surrendered Corregidor on May 6, 1942 and the rest of Philippines within the following days.

On August 16, 1945, a six-man Office of Strategic Services (OSS) team parachute into (Hoten) Mukden (today’s Shenyang), POW camp in northern China to liberate the POWs and locate the senior officers held by the Japanese. On the 19th, several dozen British, Dutch, and American senior officers including Lieutenant Generals Jonathan Wainwright and A.E. Percival were located at the Hsian POW camp (Xi'an or today's Liaoyuan ) , 150 miles north of Mukden. This was the first they heard that the war had ended.

When Wainwright and the other captive officers, enlisted men, and civilians were told of the war's end on August 19, he recounted, "We roared suddenly with laughter . roared until the rest of [the interpreter's] words were blotted out. There was no stopping the laughter. It came up in me, and in the others, with an irresistible force: something born of a combination of our relief, the look on [the interpreter's] face, the blind preposterousness of his beginning, the release from years of tension, the utter, utter joy over having survived to see this blessed day."

However, the prisoners still had to wait for the arrival of the Russian Red Army on August 24th in order to move out. The Japanese, noted Wainwright, left the prisoners the remaining Red Cross packages and they "began having fine, well-cooked meals, the first sufficient food we had since the outbreak of the war. We smoked American cigarettes like chimneys." With the "prospect of getting home soon," Wainwright said he celebrated "the happiest birthday in many years."

The years of captivity took its toll on the general. He had endured prison camps on the Philippines, Formosa, and China. The man who had been nicknamed “Skinny” was now emaciated and drawn. His hair had turned white, and his skin was cracked and fragile. He was also depressed, believing he would be blamed for the loss of the Philippines to the Japanese.

When Wainwright arrived in Yokohama, Japan, to attend the formal surrender ceremony, Gen. Douglas MacArthur, his former commander, was stunned at his appearance. Wainwright was given a hero’s welcome upon returning to America, promoted to full general and awarded the Medal of Honor.

Jonathan Mayhew Wainwright IV was born at Fort Walla Walla into a family with a long history of U.S. military service. During World War I, he was stationed with the U.S. Army in Europe, and in World War II he became commander of all U.S. forces in the Philippines after General Douglas MacArthur (1880-1964) was forced to withdraw. It would be his unpleasant duty to surrender Allied troops after the Japanese conquest of the islands, and he spent more than three years in captivity before being liberated from a POW camp in Manchuria by Russian soldiers. His service and valor were recognized with a promotion to four-star general and the award of the Medal of Honor. After a lifetime of service to his country, General Wainwright retired in 1947. He died in San Antonio, Texas, on September 2, 1953.

Born to the Barracks

Jonathan Wainwright was born on August 23, 1883, the third child of army Lieutenant Robert Powell Page Wainwright (1852-1902) and Josephine Serrell Wainwright (1852-1939). He had two older sisters, Helen Serrell Wainwright (1881-1910) and Jennie Powell Serrell Wainwright (1882-1939). In October 1883 the family transferred from Fort Walla Walla to Fort Bidwell, California. His father, a cavalry officer, fought in Cuba in 1898 during the Spanish-American War. He would die of disease in the Philippines in 1902 during the Philippine-American War.

Jonathan Wainwright IV entered the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1902, as his father had done 33 year earlier (in 1870). Fellow cadets nicknamed the tall and thin Wainwright “Skinny,” a name he liked, and he graduated in 1906 with the prestigious First Captain of Cadets honor. Wainwright chose to serve in the the cavalry and was first assigned to the 1st Cavalry Regiment at Fort Clark, Texas, where he developed a love for the life of a cavalryman and became an expert horseman. In 1908 his regiment was dispatched to the Philippines (where his father had died six years earlier) as part of an expedition sent to quell the Moro uprising on the island of Jolo.

In 1911 Wainwright married Adele "Kitty" Holley (1887-1970), an officer’s daughter he had known for years. They had one child, a son, Jonathan Mayhew Wainwright V (1913-1996), whom his father called “Jack.” It was a major disappointment when Jack’s efforts to gain entrance to West Point were unsuccessful, but he joined the Merchant Marines and had a distinguished record during World War II. He eventually retired as a captain in the Naval Reserve, which pleased his famous father.

Two World Wars

During World War I, the senior Wainwright served in France as assistant chief of staff for the 82nd Division (today’s famed 82nd Airborne Division). Following the war he held a number of cavalry postings and received regular promotions, and on November 1, 1938, "Skinny" Wainwright received his first star as brigadier general, a rank his father never achieved.

In November 1940 Wainwright assumed command of a Philippine Scout division, then took over as commander of the Northern Luzon Front. When General Douglas A. MacArthur (1880-1964) was ordered to leave the Philippines on March 11, 1942, Wainwright, now a lieutenant general, became the senior field commander of all U.S. and Filipino forces in the Philippine Islands. The overpowering Japanese invasion forced the defenders to withdraw to Bataan and drove Wainwright’s headquarters to Corregidor Island. President Roosevelt authorized Wainwright to continue the fight or make terms as he saw fit. Wainwright chose to continue the battle from Corregidor despite the urgings of some that he leave. He messaged:

"I have been one of the battling bastards of Bataan and I’ll play the same role on the rock as long as it is humanly possible. I have been with my men from the start, and if captured I will share their lot. We have been through so much together that my conscience would not let me leave before the final curtain" (Army Medical Department Regiment).

The final curtain was not long in coming. Wainwright's troops were able to slow the Japanese advance for several weeks, but the invasion force proved unstoppable, and Wainwright finally was forced to surrender the Philippines on May 6, 1942.

The Nation's Highest Honor

Wainwright spent the next 39 months as a prisoner of war, held in prison camps in northern Luzon, Formosa, and Manchuria. Liberated by Russian troops in August 1945, he had the pleasure of attending the Japanese surrender ceremony aboard the USS Missouri on September 2, 1945. He then returned to the Philippines to receive the formal surrender of the famed Japanese commander, General Tomoyuki Yamashita. Wainwright was given a hero’s welcome on his return to the United States and was promoted to the rank of four-star general. On September 10, 1945, President Harry S. Truman (1884-1972) pinned the Medal of Honor on Wainwright in a White House ceremony. The citation supporting the medal read:

In November 1945, barely three months after his liberation from Japanese captivity, Walla Walla honored its native son and war hero with a ceremony, parade, and speeches. In 1996, in further tribute to the general, the veterans' hospital at historic Fort Walla Walla was renamed the Jonathan M. Wainwright Memorial VA Medical Center.

Retirement and Death

In January 1946 General Wainwright assumed command of the Fourth Army at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. He made a brief trip to Washington state in August 1946, but chose to live in Texas after leaving the military on August 31, 1947.

The Wainwrights settled in San Antonio following the general's retirement. They purchased a home that Skinny named Fiddler’s Green, after a soldiers' song about a mythical land where cavalrymen go when they die. Unfortunately, their retirement years were not serene. Emotional problems resulted in his wife's permanent hospitalization, and in August 1953 the retired general spent his 70th birthday in the hospital after suffering a stroke. He died the following month, on September 2, 1953.

General Wainwright was buried in Arlington National Cemetery, but his wife, still hospitalized in Colorado, was unable to attend his funeral. His gravesite is near that of his father. Upon her death in 1970, Adele Wainwright was buried next to her husband.

General Jonathan Mayhew Wainwright (1883-1953), ca. 1946

Courtesy Amvets Jonathan M. Wainwright Post 1111, Walla Walla

General Jonathan Wainwright (left) and General Douglas MacArthur, The Philippines, October 10, 1941

Courtesy Center of Military History, United States Army

General Jonathan Wainwright broadcasts surrender of Philippines, watched by Japanese censor, May, 1942

General Douglas MacArthur (left) greets a gaunt General Jonathan Wainwright after liberation from Manchurian POW camp, August,1945

Courtesy Amvets Jonathan M. Wainwright Post 1111, Walla Walla

General Jonathan Wainwright (standing, left) with General Douglas MacArthur at Japan's surrender, USS Missouri, September 2, 1945

Courtesy Amvets Jonathan M. Wainwright Post 1111, Walla Walla

General Jonathan Wainwright (seated facing, second from left) accepts surrender of Japan's Philippine forces from General Tomoyuki Yamashita (seated far right), Baguio, Luzon, September 3, 1945

Courtesy U.S. Naval Historical Center

President Harry Truman awards Congressional Medal of Honor to General Jonathan Wainwright, Washington D.C., September 10, 1945

Courtesy U. S. Army Medical Department Regiment

General Jonathan Wainwright and wife unveil Japan's documents of surrender, National Archives, Washington, D.C., September 12, 1945

Courtesy National Archives

General Jonathan Wainwright with B-29 Superfortress "Bataan Avenger," LaGrande, Oregon, November 9, 1945

Courtesy Amvets Jonathan M. Wainwright Post 1111, Walla Walla

Statue of General Wainwright, Wainwright VA Medical Center, Walla Walla, January 2010


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  7. Eimar

    It doesn't bother me.

  8. Duardo

    It's a funny thing

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