This August marks the 70th anniversary of the largest prisoner of war breakout in Australia’s history – a story that, surprisingly, begins on Melville Island, NT.

Story By Steve Cooper

In the early hours of August 5, 1944, 1100 Japanese prisoners of war (POWs) make a suicidal bid to escape from their prison at Cowra, in central New South Wales. By daylight, 231 Japanese are dead and 107 wounded. Twenty POWs commit suicide and about 334 escape into the countryside. Three guards are killed during the breakout, and a fourth soldier is killed attempting to recapture escapees.
For five days in August, this event will be commemorated at Cowra, with one of the few surviving Japanese POWs involved in the breakout, Teruo Murakami, attending as a guest of honour.

This Story is from Issue #96

Outback Magazine: Aug/Sep 2014