Tokyo 23-D

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During his time in the camp, the air raids became more frequent. An air raid took place on April 4 at 1:45 A.M. Bombs fell around the camp but none fell in the camp. All the windows in the POW barracks were blown out by the shockwaves and the camp kitchen was damaged. No POWs were injured. The POWs spent the next day in camp repairing the damage. Three days later another air raid by 100 B-29s and P-51s took place but it was further from the camp. The POWs learned of President Roosevelt’s death on the 12th and stated the Japanese celebrated as if his death would change the outcome of the war. At 9:25 P.M. on the 15th air raid sirens went off and by 10:00 P.M. bombers were dropping their loads. Once again incendiary bombs landed around the camp setting buildings on fire. The POWs were outside throwing water on the barracks to keep it from going up in flames. To them, it seemed like everything around the camp was on fire and that the planes were coming low over the camp. The only thing that saved the camp from burning was that the wind changed directions.

The next day the POWs did not work since there was no power, water, or transportation. The Japanese civilians roamed the streets since they were homeless. What little they had, they carried with them. When the POWs did go to work a few days later, they saw the destruction. Buildings at the steel mill were still burning days after the attack. The steel beams of destroyed buildings were bent because of the heat from the fires.

On May 22, 250 American B-29’s dropped incendiary bombs on Kawasaki. The bombs landed on all sides of the camp, but not one bomb landed within the camp, even though the air raid lasted for four hours. Keith later said that the POWs welcomed the bombers. The POWs stated it was the largest air raid they had seen until the one that took place on the 25th which started at 10:30 P.M. and lasted until 1:30 in the morning. Another air raid on the 29th that started at 8:00 A.M. was said to be even larger with as many as 600 planes taking part in the bombing. The air raid finally ended at 4:30 P.M. The air raids continued into June. On June 30, Tokyo 23-D was closed and the POWs were sent to Kawasaki #1-B.

At this camp, the prisoners worked 12 hours a day, seven days a week. Every two weeks they would get one day off. They also worked for various companies loading and unloading boxcars at the Kawasaki Station. Documents indicated that the station was a shipping point for large amounts of food. When given the opportunity to steal food, the POWs did. They ate raw eggs and they ate oranges including the skins. They hid food in their clothing and took it back to camp. If they were caught they were severely beaten. It was said the Japanese civilians were kind to the POWs, but if they were caught showing kindness to them, they too were beaten.