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Fukuoka #17 Branch Prisoner of War Camp was a Japanese Prisoner-of-war camp located at the Mitsui Kozan Miike Kogyo-Sho coal mine and Mitsui Zinc Foundry in Shinminato-machi, Omuta-shi, Fukuoka-ken, Japan, during World War II.
The Camp was opened 7 August 1943 and was gradually populated by about 1,857 prisoners of war of mixed nationalities, mostly Australian, American, British and Dutch. The British, Dutch and Australians were survivors of the Burma Railway construction in Thailand (Siam). The last group to arrive were all Australians, in June 1945; they had formerly been held in the Fukuoka 13-D Oita POW camp.
The camp measured 200 yards by 1000 yards and was surrounded by a 12 feet high wooden fence fixed with heavy gauge wire. There were 33 barracks, all one story buildings 120' x 16' with ten rooms to a barracks. Constructed of wood with tight tar paper roofs, and windows with panes. Officers were billeted three or four per room measuring 9' x 10', with four to six enlisted men accommodated in rooms of same size. There was no heating whatsoever, which was a serious problem in the winter months as the men were living on starvation diets. Each room had one 15-watt light bulb.
There were two meals served each day, usually one cup of rice and some radish soup. Protein was rarely provided.
Baron Mitsui's company leased the POWs from the Japanese Army, who received payment from the Company of about 20 yen per day. The American, Australian and Dutch POWs all worked in the Mitsui coal mine whilst all the British worked in the nearby Mitsui zinc foundry. Pay for privates and NCOs was 10 yen per day and all POWs received about 5 cigarettes each day.
The camp was liberated on 2 September 1945, by which time most of the POWs were in a desperate state of health. Many POWs were suffering from severe beri-beri and on average had lost about 60 lb (27 kg). Camp survivors were evacuated via the destroyed Nagasaki about ten days after liberation.
For a story from a POW at this camp read: http://lindavdahl.com/Bio%20Pages/J.O.Bennett/J.Bennett.CoalMines.htm