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Gotts Surname Family History


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WW2 Singapore research notes -Continued

Notes on International Red Cross ICRC

The Red Cross struggled to get any agreement to transfer POW information. Reading their  ‘Report of the International Committee of the Red Cross on its activities during the second world war (September 1, 1939 - June 30, 1947)’  it is clear how much work they were doing to try and get lists of POWs. At present, I still do not understand where and when some of the lists in The National Archive were produced, or exactly how the information was obtained on which Casualty Lists was based. I suspect the Index cards were located in the POW Information Bureau in Japan and not updated properly.

In this report there is an interesting section on the attitude to prisoners by the Japanese. Their ancestral ideas were that surrender is degrading and deserving of capital punishment. Even in WW2 when a soldier left to join a combatant unit, there was often a ceremony to which his friends were invited, carried out according to funeral rites. A lock of hair was kept by his relatives. From that moment the man was dead and had returned to his ancestors. He could only come back a conqueror and his family wanted no word of him, as news of his capture would dishonour his family. Many Japanese soldiers took on assumed names after the war and made no contact with their families. This may explain some of the treatment of POWs, but does not excuse it.