My name is Sjt Maj Sugino Tsuruo, and my unit is Borneo PoW Internment Unit. I joined this unit in August 1942. O 23rd January 1945 I took charge of 157 European PoWs at Labuan with orders from Lt Col Suga to take them from Labuan to Kuching.
They were all fit but some had malaria. Between 23rd Jqanuary and 7th March 1945, 45 of these died of malaria and ber beri in Labuan.
I left Labuan on 7th March with 112 PoWs and 15 Formosan Civilian guards. We reached Brunei on 8th March 1945 and remained there until 2nd or 3rd may 1945, and during that time 30 PoWs died of malaria and beri beri. There was no doctor there, but I issued medicine for malaria and ber beri, to the medical orderlies, who in turn issued it to the sick PoWs. One of the POWs tried to escape here and I know that the Kempei Tai took him and I did not see him again. On about 2nd or 3rd May with 82 PoWs I left Brunei for Kuala Belait and arrived next day. On arriving at Kuala Belait I reported to 1/Lt Kamimura and a WO in command of Kempei Tai. While I was in Kuala Belait the PoWs camped in the old picture theatre, where we remained until 26th or 27th May 1945. Wkile in Kuala Belait 37 PoWs died of malaria and ber beri. During that time I received 7 Indian Pows from Kamimura, of whom one was an officers, but I do not remember his name. We left Kuala Belait on 27th May 1945 and arrived in Miri the following day. On arr5iving in Miri I reported tp Lt Nishimura who was CC of 20 Aerial Supply Cot. He ordered me to go to Cape Lobang. As soon as I received my orders I went to Cape lobang and the Pows were camped in a house inside a barbed wire compound. The PoWs house was made of bush timber and roofed with coconut leaves and was built ready for us when we arrived there. The PoWd remained her until 8th June 1945. During this time they were employed growing vegetables in the vicinity of the PoW Compound, except for two days they worked in Miri township unloading rice from boats and loading trucks. On arrival at Cape lobang I reported to Capt Hasegawa but after that I had nothing whatever to do with him. While the PoWs were at Cape Lobang four of them died of malaria and beri beri. There were two English doctors amongst the PoWs and they examined the dead men and signed the death certificates stating the cause of death to be malaria and beri beri. Copies of these certificates were forwarded to Kuching. The PoWs were buried in four graves near the compound. Most of the PoWs were sick with malaria. beri beri, sores and ulcers. While at Cape Lobang the PoWs diet consisted of meat, rice. sugar, tea, vegetables and tobacco. Those PoWs who were not sick were fat and well.
At 1500 hrs on 8th June 1945 the Sjt Maj of Hasegawa Tay told me that an English fleet was approaching Borneo. I became anxious for the safety of the PoWs and decided to move to a safer place. I then ordered the PoWs to make small bundles of their personal gear to take with them. We left the compound at 2000 hrs and went via a jungle track over the hill to Riam Road and reached the 3.5 mile Riam Road st midnight. The whole party remained here until 0400 hrs 9th June 1945, when a party of 15 fit PoWs and five guards returned to Capt Lobang to pick up some stores consisting of rice, salt, office stores and medicine, There were at this time 20 fit men but only 15 went back, and of the remaining 28 sick ones, 5 were unable to walk and had to be carried by the fit men, The carrying party of fit men returned about 1000 hrs. At about this move down the Rian Road I was responsible to no one and in complete charge of the PoWs. At 0400 hrs 9th June, when the 15 fit PoWs returned to Cape Lobang, I sent a written message by one of the guards to Nishimura telling him that I was going down the Riam Road. At 1800 hrs that night I received a written message from Nishimura telling me to take plenty of food and go to the mountains. At 1300 hrs 9th June, 15 PoWs left 3.5 mile and again returned to Cape Lobang with 5 guards. They returned to 1800 hrs carrting similar stores to the last trip. All the PoWs had a meal at 1800 hrs and then at 2000 hrs the whole party left and went to 5.5 mile Riam Road arriving at 2200 hrs. The whole party made camp in a deserted house and went to sleep. At 0600 hrs 10th June 1945 the PoWs arose, breakfasted and then were allowed to rest through the morning. The PoWs had a midday meal and at 1500 hrs the same 15 healthy PoWs and four guards returned to 3.5 mile Road to bring back stores. At midday I burnt some old PoW documents and letters. The only documents I kept were those relating to the living PoWs and pay matters.Documents concerning PoWs who died at Brunei and Kuala Belait had already been forwarded to Kuching. While I was burning the documents about 100 metres from the house I saw Capt Chambers (?) going into the house acting in what I thought was a suspicous manner as he was looking to all sides as he walked. Capt Chambers was amongst the party who went back and I told Nago, the civilian guard in charge, that he would probably try to escape, in which case he was to be killed. At 1900 hrs 5 or 6 men lead by Sjt Ackland jumped up from where they were sitting outside the house and started to run away. I called out the guard to open fire on the escaping PoWs. In the confusion some of the bullets went in the house and caused the PoWs to come out. As they came out of the house they were shot and bayonetted by the guards. The sick tried to crawl away and they were shot or bayonetted coming out of the house or outside the house. I did not give any orders to cease fire in order to save the sick because I was so excited that I did not know what was happening. Those PoWs who were not killed outright were put out of their agony by shooting or bayoneting. When this was over there were 32 bodies I then ordered three or four of the guards to bury the PoWs. I then heard a burst of firing from about 1000 metres back along the Riam Road. I called about 6 guards and ran in the direction of the firing. When I arrived there I found that the PoWs were then dead and were being carried to one place for burial by the guards. In addition to the guards I saw 8 men belonging to Nishimura Tai. Several men were digging two graves that were about a foot deep when I arrived. When the graves were dug the PoWs were buried and the whole work was completed by about 2030 hrs. I asked Nago what had happened and he told me that the PoWs had been shot trying to escape and that 8 men of Nishimura Tai had helped to kill them. I did not ask any further questions because I understood that the PoWs had not been trying to escape when they were killed. Although I gave orders before they left to kill the PoWs if they attempted to escape I knew myself that they would be killed in any case. After the PoWs were buried at the road I returned to the house to supervise the burial of the others, which finished at midnight. Some personal blongings were buried with the PoWs and the remainder were burnt. After saluting the dead all the guards went to sleep. We arose at 0400 hrs 11th June 1945 and departed for the mountains. I sent a civilian guard back to Nishimura at the 1 mile to tell him that the PoWs had been killed trying to escape. I reached the 7 mile on 11th June, the 10 mile on 12th June, and on the 13th June I returned to Cape Lobang to pick up stores and burn down the compound. Lt Nishimura was with me and it was he who gave orders for the compound to be burnt down, We threw oil all over the building and set it on fire. The following men were guards with the party of PoWs killed on the road:-
The folloing men were guarding the PoWs killed at the house:-
25th Ocober 1945 - New Addition to Statement:-
I now admit that the statement I made was not completely true. I will now tell the complete truth.
The information I gave concerning the killing of the 32 PoWs at the house at the 5.5 mile Riam Road is all true. After the killing of the 32 PoWs, I together with six or seven Formosan guards, immediately went to the 5 mile and waited until the arrival of Nango and three other Formosan guards escaorting 15 PoWs, who rested on a small track leading off the road and opposite us. Shortly afterwards, L/Cpl Kaneko and eight members of the Nishimura Tai also arrived at 5.5 mile.
I thought at the time that as food was getting short, some of the PoWs might try to escape and I decided that it would be better that we killed them. After the PoWs had been resting cout 10 minutes, one of the European PoWs tried to escape by running into the grass. I then gave the order to shoot the whole 15 PoWs. All the Nishimura Tai and five or six Formosan guards took part in the shooting.
After the shooting, some of the PoWs were not dead, so I ordered that they be shot and bayonetted as they lay on the ground. The man previously run into the grass was also shot. We then buried the bodies in two graves and I sent the members of the Nishimura Tai straight back to 7 mile and together with my own men, I returned to 5.5 mile to complete the burial of the PoWs killed there. I later went to 7 mile, where I spent the night.