A F F I D A V I T
I, No. 77678 Captain Nigel Keith Evans, the Manchester Regiment,
at present stationed at 24 M.G.T.C., Chester, and with address C/o Llloyds
Bank, Cox and King's Branch, London, make oath and say as follows:-
1. I was captured at Singapore on about 15 February, 1942. After
being there for some months I was sent up to work on the railway in
Siam. I stayed there until the early part of June 1944. The Japanese
then formed 72 working parties of 150 other ranks, an MO, and an officer
of the line under the rank of major. These parties were intended to
work in Japan. I was posted to one of these parties, which together
with some others left Chungkai on June 6th. We travelled by train
to Singapore where we arrived on June 11th. We were taken to HAVELOCK
ROAD CAMP where we stayed until June 26th when we embarked on the Japanese
transport HOFUKU MARU, a ship of approximately 6000 tons. The total
number on board was 1287 all ranks. We were divided between two holds
and were so crowded that it was impossible for everyone to lie down at
once. We stayed in Singapore harbour until July 4th when we sailed in
a convoy of seven ships escorted by two destroyers. On July 9th we
arrived at MIRI in BORNEO having broken down for six hours on the way.
On arrival we were informed that we would be stopping there for a time
whilst repairs were carried out to the engines. Our convoy together
with one other shipload of prisoners left us and sailed on. When we
were in MIRI the supply of fresh vegetables and meat taken on board
at Singapore ran out and the Japanese serjeant in charge of us said
that they were unable to get any more. Up to this time we had been
receiving two meals of rice and stew a day but we were now reduced to
rice porridge and salt in the morning and a pint of steamed rice with
a level tablespoonful of dried fish in the afternoon. The issue of
fish was one, about the size of a Kipper between sixteen men. We
continued to exist on this diet until after our arrival in Manila
where the salt fish was replaced with an equal quantity of sweet
potato until September 21st - in all seventy four days.
2. We were picked up in MIRI by another convoy and sailed on
July 14 arriving in MANILA on July 19th. Once again we were informed
that the engines were still unsatisfactory and that we would stay there
while further repairs were carried out. Part of our cargo was unloaded
and the Japanese civilians who were on board were disembarked. Despite
numerous alterations and repairs however the boat was not considered
satisfactory until September 20th.
3. As can be imagined our diet and the fact that we were not allowed
on deck after our arrival at Manila soon began to have serious effects.
4. My repeated requests to the Japanese to allow us to go ashore were
refused, the only concession being that we were allowed to send fifty of
the sick ashore to the American Prisoner of War's Hospital. We also
received a small quantity of Red Cross drugs from this hospital but the
bulk of this was stolen by the Japanese guards and crew. All the
Japanese on board were having vitamin injections with drugs acquired from
this supply but we were unable to get any for men who were dying.
5. During our stay in Manila Bay a total of ninety four deaths occurred
on board all of which were due to malnutrition. We were not allowed to
take the bodies ashore and were forced to bury them at sea. After the
first few deaths we were prevented from holding any form of funeral
service. There was no possible reason for this.
6. Conditions on board became terrible. We were compelled to leave
latrine buckets in the hold, to serve our meals there and also keep the dead
there until they could be buried. On one occasion a corpse remained
there for thirty six hours. It was a common sight to see prisoners of war
eating their meals within six feet of a corpse being prepared for burial.
On the day before we sailed over a third of the officers and men
were unable to walk unassisted and there were a number of mental cases. This
was entirely due to underfeeding and the unsanitary conditions under
which we were living.
7. We eventually left Manila on September 20th and sailed with a convoy
of seven freight ships and tankers escorted by two destroyers. We
sailed throughout the day hugging the coast and anchored at night.
We got under way again at 7.00 o'clock the next morning. As breakfast
had not arrived by 11.00 o'clock I went up on deck to ascertain the cause
and saw about seventy planes overhead, on their way as we subsequently┬
learnt to bomb Manila. A number of these planes left the formation
and flew down the convoy machinegunning the boats in turn. They then
returned and sank all seven ships and also one of the two destroyers.
Our ship received three direct hits amidships and sank in two minutes.
All the prisoners on board went down with the vessel. There were
insufficient lifebelts to go round and the holds were partially battened
down. However, the captain, crew, and guards all left the boat as soon
as the machinegunning started making no attempt to release the prisoners.
When I came to the surface the sea was covered with wreckage and there
were a number of men, many of them wounded, hanging on to the various
pieces of wreckage. I had been in the water about two hours when a
destroyer arrived to pick up the Japanese survivors. Together with
about forty men who were in my area I swam over to the destroyer and
started to climb up the ropes and ladders that were hanging over the sides.
The crew however had bamboo poles with which they knocked us off. After
about a further half hour one of the officers gave instructions that we
were allowed to come aboard which we all did with the exception of two
men who were wounded and who the Japanese refused to allow us to assist
as they said they would die anyway. When we were on board we were
placed in the bows of the ship exposed to the sun and wind. All of us
had lost our clothing when the boat went down. We were kept on deck for
four days which the destroyer took to reach TAIWAN. We ran into a storm
that lasted for two days and the decks were continually awash. Two men
died of exposure. Our food consisted of one small ball of rice each day
about the size of a small tea cup. A number of the survivors were
wounded but the Japanese would not give them medical assistance nor would
they supply drugs or dressings with which we could alleviate their sufferings.
8. We arrived at TAKAU on September 25th and were put ashore still
without clothing. We were taken to a Japanese camp nearby where we were
issued with one rice sack per man to cover ourselves. They still refused
us medical attention for the sick one of whom died while we were there.
We then moved to HAITO P.O.W. Camp where we stayed in isolation for one
month being confined to one small hut and only allowed out for about
15 mins each day. We were allowed no books, cigarettes or other amenities.
9. In all there are to the best of my belief 243 survivors out of the
1287 who originally embarked in S.S. HOFUKU MARU.
10. Serjeant JOTANI was the Japanese in charge of the prisoners of war
on board the "HOFUKU MARU". I consider him responsible for all the ill-
treatment which we suffered while on board this ship and for the many
deaths which occurred. JOTANI was picked up with me after the "HOFUKU
MARU" had been sunk and accompanied me on board the destroyer until we
reached FORMOSA. I have been shown Plate 1 containing the photographs
of 12 Japanese and I recognose JOTANI as being No. 165 on that plate.
11. Serjeant NORO was JOTANI's right hand man on board the "HOFUKU MARU"
and he too I consider responsible for the deaths and ill-treatment. I
have been shown Plate 18 containing the photographs of 12 Japanese and I
recognise him as being No. 135 on that plate. NORO also came to FORMOSA
after the sinking.
12. The interpreter on board the "HOFUKU MARU" was called Private ARIE.
As well as being interpreter he acted as adjutant for JOTANI and had a
very great part in making life as unpleasant for us as he could. On
numerous occasions he beat up prisoners of war and whenever JOTANI ordered
our rations to be taken away from us, it was ARIE who actually removed
the food. He also made it a point to interpet (sic) all the orders which were
given him in the most vicious way he could. I do not know what happened
to ARIE after the sinking.
13. All these 3 men, JOTANI, NORO and ARIE stole the Red Cross supplies
which came on board the "HOFUKU MARU" while we were in MANILA, as previously
mentioned in paragraph 4 of this affidavit.
SWORN by the above named Keith )┬
Evans, at 6, Spring Gardens, in the ) N.K.Evans
City of Westminster, on this eighth ) (Signed) N.K. Evans.
day of May, 1946. )