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HOME > JAPAN > RABAUL

The prisoners of Rabaul

These are the Allied military personnel (and a civilian or two) who had the misfortune to be captured by the Japanese garrison at Rabaul, on New Britain Island. Those who survived are shown in boldface. I use the term "murdered" instead of "executed" because the latter suggests that the deaths were lawful. Some of those marked "fate unknown" may have been sent to Japan, and there survived.

FO Bruce Anderson RAAF - murdered
PO Francis Anderson RAAF - murdered 4 Nov 1942
* Lt John Arbuckle USN - to Japan; survived
Ens Daniel (Donald?) Atkiss USN - died of disease & neglect 29 Jul 1945
Ershist Bachman, Swiss civilian - died of wounds

WO John Bailey RAAF - murdered 25 Nov 1943?
Lt John Bailey USAAF - murdered
Sgt John Barron USAAF - murdered 5 Mar 1944
Lt John Bartholf USMC - murdered?
Lt Phillip Beck USAAF - murdered 25 Nov 1943

Lt Douglas Bedkober RAA - died of disease & neglect 3 Jan 1944
Lt Alexander Berry USN - murdered 5 Mar 1944
Lt Andrew Borders USN - murdered 5 Mar 1944
* Maj Gregory Boyington USMC - to Japan; survived
Maj Donald Boyle USMC - to Japan; survived

Lt Robert Brindos USMC - murdered 5 Mar 1944
Sgt Charles Bromley RAAF - murdered 20 Jan 1942
Sgt William Brooks USAAF - survived?
FO Allen Brown RAAF - to Japan; survived
Sgt David Brown RAAF - murdered 25 May 1942

Sgt Leslie Burnette USAAF - to Japan; survived
LAC John Burns RAAF - murdered 11 Apr 1942
AOM Harlan? Burrus USN - died of disease and neglect
Sgt Ernest Burnside USAAF - murdered 25 Nov 1943
Callaghan USAAF - fate unknown

Michael Cassera USAAF - murdered
Pvt Robert Cassidy RAA - to Japan; fate unknown
Maj Ralph Cheli USAAF - murdered
* Sgt Chester Czechowsky USAAF - murdered
Sgt Ernest Clay RAAF - murdered 5 March 1943?

1/Lt. Carl Clifford Clemens (Clemons?) USAAF - murdered
Sgt Edward Costantin USAAF - murdered 5 Mar 1943
Lt Hugh Cornelius USMC - died of disease & neglect 29 Apr 1944
Maj Williston Cox USAAF - to Japan; survived
Lt John Cox USAAF - murdered 5 Mar 1944

Lt Crawford USMC - missing Nov 1943
Crocker (American) - missing Jan 1944
Lt Arthur Dale USN - fate unknown
F/Lt Harry Dawkins RAAF - died of disease & neglect 15 Jul 1944
FO Frederick Diercks RAAF - murdered 4 Nov 1944

Lt Thomas Doyle USAAF - murdered 5 Mar 1944
* Edward Durand USAAF - fate unknown
Sgt Fred Engel USAAF - to Japan; survived
F/Lt Colin Esband RAAF - murdered 5 Mar 1944?
* T/Sgt James E. Etheridge USAAF - to Japan; survived

Lt Herschel Evans USAAF - murdered 5 Mar 1944
Sgt Raymond Farnell USAAF - murdered 5 Mar 1944
Sgt Jack Fenwick RAAF - murdered 5 Mar 1944
Lt Thomas Fessenger USAAF - died of disease & neglect 15 Jul 1944
Lt John Fitzgerald USMC - died of disease & neglect 27 Aug 1944

* T/Sgt John Fritz USAAF - believed died en route to Japan
Pvt Robert George USAAF - murdered 25 Nov 1943
Sgt John Gillis USAAF - died of disease & neglect 2 Aug 1944
Sgt Thomas Gordon RAAF - died of disease & neglect
Pvt Jack (Joel?) Griffin USAAF - to Japan; survived

Lt Bill Hanks USAAF - died of disease & neglect 14 Aug 1944
LAC Vernon Hardwick RAAF - murdered 4 Nov 1942
Sgt William Haris USAAF - murdered 5 Mar 1944
* Capt Byron Heichel USAAF - to Japan; survived
Lt Joseph Hill USAAF - murdered 5 Mar 1944

Corp Alfred Hocking RAAF - murdered 4 Nov 1942
Lt Jose Holguin USAAF - survived (see footnote)
AOM Carl Howard USN - died?
Lt Wellman Huey USAAF - murdered 14 Jan 1944
F/Lt Frank Keefe RNZAF - died of disease & neglect


Lt Henry Keel USAAF - murdered 1942
Pvt Cephus Kelly USMC? - to Japan; survived
PO John Kepchia USN - survived
Sgt Michael Kicera USAAF - murdered 5 Mar 1944
Arthur King USAAF - murdered 8 Oct 1942

AOM James Kirk USN - died?
F/Sgt Donald Kirkwood RAAF - murdered 5 Mar 1944
AOM James Knight USN - fate unknown
Lt John Knight USMC - fate unknown
Maj Frederick Koebig USAAF - murdered 5 Mar 1944


Ernest Kraehe RAAF - murdered 5 Mar 1944
Lt Kenneth Krishner USAAF - murdered 5 Mar 1944
Lt Anthony Kuhn USAAF - murdered 5 Mar 1944
* Pvt Frank Kurisko - believed died en route to Japan
Corp Harry Lanagan RAAF - murdered 4 Nov 1944

CPO Richard Lanigan USN - died of disease & neglect 30 Jul 1945
Lt Charles Lanphier USMC - died of disease & neglect 15 May 1944
Ens Paul Malatesta USN - fate unknown
* 2nd Lt Marcus Mangett USAAF - probably died of wounds or neglect
Amm Paul Mannon USN - murdered 22 Feb 1944

Maj Romulus Marr USAAF - murdered
1/Lt Robert Marshall USMC - died of excessive bleeding 20 Jan 1944
Lt Robert Martingale USAAF - to Japan; survived
FO Cecil Mason RAAF - murdered 8 Oct 1942
Lt Harold Massie USAAF - murdered 8 Oct 1942

Lt Walter Mayberry USMC - murdered 5 Mar 1944
Paul McCauley USAAF - murdered 5 Mar 1944
Corp Paul McCleaf USMC - murdered
LAC Ernest McDonald RAAF - murdered 11 Apr 1942
F/Lt John McFarlane RNZAF - fate unknown

FO Leslie McLellean-Symonds RNZAF - died disease/neglect 25 May 1944
Lt James McMurria USAAF - survived
Lt James Miller USN - died of disease & neglect 7 May 1945
AMM Carl Morgan USN - died of disease & neglect 12 Apr 1944
Sgt Romulus Mull USAAF - murdered

Corp John Mulligan USAAF - murdered 25 Nov 1943
Sgt Henry Murphy RAAF - murdered 5 Mar 1944
Capt John Murphy AIF - survived
Ens Joseph Nason USN - survived
Lt Leslie Neuman (Newman?) USAAF - murdered 25 Nov 1943

FO Allan Norman RAAF - murdered 4 Nov 1942
ARM Jerry O'Hagen USN - fate unknown
FO Ross O'Loughlin RAAF - murdered
Sgt Fred Oiley (Olley?) RAAF - murdered 5 Mar 1944
* Ens Isaac John Osborne USN - murdered 12 Apr 1944

Lt Stephen Painter USMC - fate unknown
Sgt Escoe Palmer USAAF - survived
LAC William Parker RAAF - murdered 4 Nov 1942
* Harlan Pease USAAF - murdered 8 Oct 1942
Ens Philip Phillis USN - murdered

Lt Frank Pockney (Pocknee?) RAAF - murdered 5 Mar 1944
AMM Jack Posey USN - fate unknown
Sgt John Preston USAAF - fate unknown
Lt Alphonso Quinones USAAF - survived
Maj Ramsey RAF - fate unknown

Lt Billy Ramsey USMC - murdered
Lt John Rippy USAAF - murdered
* 1/Lt Berry Rucks USAAF - to Japan; survived
Ens John Ryder USN - murdered
* Sgt. Charles Sciara USMC - died of disease & neglect 22 Feb 1944

Lt Robert Sherman USN - died of disease & neglect 28 Jun 1944
Sgt Edward Slipkas USMC - died of wounds 12 Apr 1944
ACM Alfred Sommerfeldt USN - died of disease & neglect
ACM George Spear USN - fate unknown
* F/Lt Brian Stacey RAAF - to Japan; survived?

Sgt Lawson Stewart USAAF - murdered 5 Mar 1944
Lt Donald Stookey USAAF - murdered 5 Mar 1944
Lt Olston Sugden USAAF - murdered 5 Mar 1944
* Sgt Clarence Surrett USAAF - to Japan; survived
Lt Charles Taylor USAAF - to Japan; survived

Lt Arthur Teall USN - fate unknown
Sgt Gordon Thomas RAAF - murdered
Ens Raymond Thompson USN - died of disease & neglect 25 July 1944
Lt Thomas Thompson USAAF - died of disease & neglect 12 Apr 1944
S/Ldr John Todd RAAF - died of disease & neglect 25 Jul 1944

Lt Harold Tuck USMC - died of disease & neglect 19 Nov 1944
Col Marion Unruh USAAF - to Japan; survived
* Sgt Kenneth Vetter USAAF - died of wounds or neglect
Sgt Norman Vickers RNZAF - died of disease & neglect 16 July 1944
F/Lt Geoffrey Vincent RAAF - murdered Nov 1943

Sgt Richard Walsh RAAF - murdered (KIA?) 20 Jan 1942
FO Charles Warren RNZAF - survived
Ens James Warren USN - died of disease & neglect 3 Jun 1944
Sgt Vincent Wasilevsky USAAF - murdered 5 Mar 1944
Sgt Colin Wein RAAF - murdered 5 Mar 1944

Ens William Wells (Welles?) USN - fate unknown (survived?)
Capt Weston USAAF - fate unknown
Maj Sidney Wharton USAAF - fate unknown
Pvt Cecil Marvin White USMC - murdered 12 Apr 1944
Lt Jack Wisener USAAF - to Japan; survived

L/Tel Roy Woodroffe RAN - murdered 10 Aug 1942
Sgt Frederick Woolley RAAF - murdered 5 Mar 1944
Ens Aljah Wright USN - died
Sgt Frank Wyne USAAF - to Japan; survived
Lt Moszek Zanger USMC - murdered Jun 1945

Unknown Finnish civilian - died of wounds

Notes

The basic list is from Henry Sakaida, The Siege of Rabaul (Phalanx 1996, Voyageur Press 1997), and is based largely on research by Jose Holguin, one of the survivors of Rabaul. Since updated with the help of readers of this page, including Carlos Herrera, who had compiled a spreadsheet of victims including many not previously known. I've added details from his list to this one, but the spreadsheet includes information also on the individuals' units and planes; you can download it here.

Arbuckle, Boyington, Stacy, and three others were flown to Japan at the instigation of a Hawaiian-born interpreter, Chikaki ("Edward") Honda, who realized that his only hope of survival was to get back to Japan, and persuaded his superiors that the captives had military information of value.

The information on Durand came from Chris Marks.

Heichel, Rucks, Surrett, Etheridge, Mangett, Vetter, Fritz, and Kurisko survived the crash of the B-17 Reckless Mountain Boy 7 May 1943 on New Ireland. Mangett and Vetter were badly injured and were separated from the others, not to be seen again; in 1946 Vetter's ring was returned to his family by the Australian Red Cross, who received it from Rudolf Diercke, an expatriate planter who had helped the crewmen before they were taken prisoner by the Japanese. Sgt Surrett believed that Fritz and Kurisko died on a prison ship taking them to Japan. (Material supplied by Ellen Surrett and Lawrence Diercke.)

Osborne was reported killed in an Allied bombing raid. However, survivor McMurria told his family that "[Osborne] and another prisoner were handcuffed and blindfolded and led away from the camp on or around 10 April, 1944. He was never seen again, the other prisoners heard gunfire shortly after their departure from the camp." (Email from his grand-niece, Olivia Dobbins.)

Harlan Pease was shot down over Rabaul in August 1942. He won the Medal of Honor, and Pease Air Force Base in Newington NH was named for him. I had no idea when I first posted this list that it would strike so close to home. Czechowsky also bailed out of Pease's a/c; the others apparently were killed in the crash.

Frank Sciara: "My Brother Sgt. Charles Sciara was shot down by a Japanese Zero on January 14th. 1944. His Pilot Lt. Bill Ramsey died in the crash. Some how, no one seems to know, my brother survived and was captured. Lt. Tuck and Corp. McCleaf, two names that appeared on the Prisoners of Rabaul list were shot down the same day."

Cecil Marvin White (formerly listed as Cecil Marvin) was a "turret gunner on a TBF Avenger which was shot down in Simpson Harbor, Rabaul, New Britain, 2/14/1944. He was captured by the Japanese the same day and was apparently murdered by them on 4/12/1944, along with several other POWs." (From Philip White, his nephew)



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