These pictures are of the site of Australia's Number 12 Prisoner of War camp at Cowra, New South Wales. We visited the site last weekend. During World War Two the camp held mainly Italian and Japanese POWs. The Japanese were in separate compounds for officers and other ranks. On the 5th of August 1944, 1100 Japanese prisoners attempted to escape. 359 of them succeeded in breaking out and were recaptured over the next 10 days. This was the largest prison escape of the war. 4 Australian soldiers and 231 Japanese prisoners were killed and 108 Japanese wounded. Most of the escapees intended to make their way to the coast and try to get boats; they obviously had no idea of the size of Australia. The camp was operational until the last prisoners were repatriated in 1947. Many of the Italians chose to remain in Australia. Today, all that remains at the camp site are some concrete foundations of the hospitals and mess huts. The other buildings were made only of wood and have long since disappeared. There are several memorials on the site and a replica of one of the guard towers. The site is on the Australian Register of Significant Heritage Sites. Nearby are the Japanese war cemetery and a beautiful memorial garden; you can find pictures of the garden in some of my older posts.
Labels: history, New South Wales