EXCERPT FROM AUGUST: JAPANESE POW’s AT COWRA
Saturday August 5th, military authorities announced that a number of Japanese prisoners had escaped from the Cowra
camp, in central-southern NSW, at about 2am. They warned local residents that the men were on the loose, and urged them not
to give any form of assistance to them. The number of escapees was not specified.
Monday morning, these authorities proclaimed via the radio, that everyone had been re-captured, and assured people that the
menace had gone away.
almost all Australians, including those in Cowra, this activity seemed like a minor incident, one that was to be expected
near a camp of 4,000 Axis prisoners of war. The truth of the matter, though, was that on that Saturday morning, 545 Japanese
escaped from the camp, and flooded out into the surrounding country-side. Though they were armed with makeshift weapons, but
no guns, they were under instructions not to harass civilians in any way, and indeed they did not. They were chased by the soldiers from the camp, and it took ten days to capture them all.
this time, 231 of them were either killed or committed suicide, and 108 wounded. Those still living were shipped back to camp.
the initial break-out, two Aussie soldiers manning a Vickers machine-gun fired
into the approaching body of escapes. They were overcome and killed, but not before Private Jones hid the bolt from the gun.
This stopped the Japs from turning the gun onto Australian troops. The two heroes, Privates Jones and Hardy, were awarded
the George Cross posthumously as a result of their actions. A total of four Australians were killed during the incident....