To honour those who served their country

“In this their finest hour”

Borneo Investigation Report

1/Lt Watanabe, Genjo Statement


Made in the perdence of Lieut J.T. Oram - 30th November 1945.


I, 1/Lt. Watanabe, Genjo of Suga Butai and Takakua Tai. Landed at Kuching about 8th September 1942 and stayed there untill 30th May 1944. I then went to Sandakan arriving on 2nd June 1944. I was Adj. to Col. Suga and later performed Adj. duties at the PoW camp. Documents for movement of PoWs from one camp to another passed through my hands.

On arriving at sandakan I carried out the same duties as at Kuching under Capt. Hoshimima. Hoshimima was Comdr. untill May when Takakuwa took over. When I arrived Nagai was there but he left 10 days later with 100 PoWs for Labuan. I heard that some of these PoWs later went to Brunei under S/Maj. Sugino.

On 29th May 1942 I moved to Ranau with PoWs on orders from Army H.Q. We were informed that an Australian landing at Sandakan was imminent and other reasons for movement being the severity of Air raids at Sandakan. Capt. Takakua was in charge and I was two in charge for the movement.

2/Lt Suzuki from Okayama Butai was also present and in addition were S/Maj. Tsuji, S/Maj. Ichikawa (QM), S/Maj. Jujita (Med), Ozawa (civilian interpreter), the last named for four days only.

I remember S/Maj Sticpewich. There were 536 PoWs in the party on leaving the camp. There were 91 english and 439 Australian PoWs. at 1200 hrs. on 1st day of march four PoWs returned to Sandakan by truck from 11 mile. WO Sticpewich assumed charge of No. 2 group. There were then six short - total 530.

On leaving Sandakan I had no nominal rolls of PoWs for movement but only numbers for movement. At the end of the asphalt road, at the end of first day, I called for nominal rolls of all PoWs then present. These were supplied by team leaders.

The first check from nminal rolls revealed descrepancy in numbers of about six.

I gave orders for Fukushima and S/Maj. Tsuji to come along the rear to make out list of dead and put such PoWs in the jungle. These men assisted by other guards who were changed around from time to time.

The last two soldiers to join the force at Sandakan were Suzuki, Mitsuo and Kobayashi Titsuo.

Three parties of MG came to Tambunan in charge of Yano and Shoji and another. They were also O.C. of 3 party and I do not know the names of the O.C. of the other 1 party. I do not know where they are now.

I remember the total destruction of Sandakan camp on 29th mat 1945. The PoWs were allowed to take some documents or medical supplies from the camp. These were burnt by us. A PoW was only allowed to take what he could actually carry, the rest was left behind and destryed. This was all done on Takakua’s orders, and I was present while the destruction was carried out. I do not think that the destruction of the medical supplies was lawful or humane.

About 183 English and Australian PoWs arrived at Ranau out of the 536 that left Sandakan, of these 142 were Australians, and also one Australian who died on last day was carried in dead. Of the 353 unaccounted for 53 escaped and about 90 were ill and put out of their misery by being shot. They asked for death rather that be left behind. I do not know exactly nor did reports show accurately how death occurred.

Fukushima and Tsuji dragged bodies into the jungle. At Takakua’s orders soldiers were told to dispose of sick PoWs and ss that none were left behind. I was in charge of the disposal of sick PoWs but was not present at the killings.

I moved with the rear group, with the exception of Fukushima’s party. Each morning all those PoWs who were unable to travel were placed in groups for Fukushima and Tsuji. The disposal of the PoWs was done behind men I never knew who killed them.

We arrived at Ranau on 25th June 1945, and camped at the foot of the  mountain two miles from ranau. Next day everyone moved to Tambunan direction camp at the 110.5 mile. (I clearly understood the sketch you have shown me). When I reached this camp there was already nine PoWs there under the command 2/Lt Suzuki. This made a total of 192 PoWs in the camp under the command of Takakua.

The figure of 54 escapes was arrived at as the number unaccounted for on my list. This was the only way I could account for them. I did not make out any death certificate and cannot remember any behind made out.

When S/Maj. Sticpewich escaped the orders were to recapture him and find out the plans made by others to escape. There was no order to shoot him.

The investigation in John Hore’s escape at Sandakan was conducted by Moritake and Hoshijima. Hore was killed and his body placed on the PoW camp sign. With Hoshijima I veiwed the body there. I think Hope was shot in the chest by Hinata Genzo.

Prior to that escape PoWs were caught going under the wire at the end of the camp to get food through a drainpipe. These men were taken back to H.Q. and placed in the guard house and were later put in a cage, as we viewed this as a serious offence. The Kempei Tai were not concerned in this. I saw the men in the cage but had nothing to do with their treatment. I know one man, who was very sick, died in the cage. Hoshijima was in charge and gave order to Moritake as to the treatment of these PoWs.

Three days after S/Maj. Sticpewich escaped at Ranau sick PoWs were taken on stretchers up the hill to the cemetery. This was the 1st August 1945. Since I arrived at Labuan I have made further enquiries and as far as I can determine the date that the PoWs were carried up to the cemetery and killed was 1st August 1945. there were about 17 of these sick men. I was in charge and Sgt. Okada and approximately 10 Formosan guards were also present at the killing. All the Formosan guards that were actually posted to the camp were in the camp area that day. I may be able to recognise some of these if I saw them.

After these 17 were killed there were about 16 left in the camp and these were also shot on 1st August 1945. 11 of these were taken about 100 metres along road towards Tambunan and shot. S/Maj Tsuji with a fresh lot of about 15 or 16 Formosan guards and shot the second batch. These killings were about the same time, 1000 hrs on the 1st August 1945. I do not know the names of the PoWs killed. Picone, Cook, Chopping, Oatshot, Daniels (English doctor), Maskey and Evans may have been among them. I only knew a few at Sandakan and only knew a few of the section leaders on the march.

Civilian Fugita (interpreter) was present in camp but had nothing to do with the killings. Sgt. Beppu took five PoW Officers about 100 metres towards Ranau. He had 10 Formosan guards with him. Also at 1000 hrs on 1st August 1945 at 111.5 mile at junction of two roads and behind rice store Sgt. Beppu party shot the five PoW Officers.

Sgt. Iwabe was out seaching for Sticpewich and had nothing to do with the killings, S/Maj Murozumi had not yet arrived from Sandakan. I did not know what Moritake’s orders were. They were given direct from Takakua. My orders cam from my commander, Takakua.

Fugita (med Sgt.) had been wounded and was in bed in the camp area at the time of the killings.

I do not know the reasons was for the killing, but I I think it possible that the commanders feared that the PoWs would escape.

Sgt. Beppu’s Party killed



Sgt. Okada’s Party killed



Sgt. Tsuji’s Party killed



The order for the killing was secret. I have carefully checked the date and am sure that the killings took place on 1st August 1945. Information other then this must be a mistake.

I first knew that the war was over on 2nd September 1945. Documents from H.Q.s gave this information. I heard some surrender bills were dropped from aircraft about 20th August 1945 but did not believe them and thought that they were just propaganda.

On 28th July 1945 I remember Capt. Cook bringing documents to me from deceased PoWs for dispatch to Allied Command. These were all burnt with my personal gear at Ranau.

After 1st August 1945, the camp moved first to Tambunan arriving there on 26th August 1945 and later move to Sapong.

I, 1/Lt Watanabe Genzo, do solemnly affirm the above statement to be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.



                        (Sgd) Watanabe Genze

                        8th December 1945





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[Borneo Investigation Report] [Part One] [Part Two] [Jesselton] [Sandakan] [Sandakan Graves] [I dentification from Paybooks] [Sandakan Marches] [Ranau Burial Areas] [Part Three] [Labuan Ma p] [Sjt Maj Sugino Statement] [Maj Ikegami Tomoyuki Statement] [2/Lt Shimozawa Takaharu Stat ement] [Cases Dealt With] [Part Four] [Letter from PWLO 9 Div] [Full Kuching Numbers Release d] [Part Five] [Major Suga Speech] [1/Lt Watanabe Statement] [Hashimoti Maao Statement] [S/M  Beppu, Yoichi Statement] [Japanese Death Reports] [Atrocities] [600 Gunners Party] [Labuan Pa rty] [Sandakan] [Java] [Roll of Honour]

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