Sandakan Death March

Discussion in 'World War 2' started by Oggie2620, Apr 15, 2010.

  1. Oggie2620

    Oggie2620 New Member

    Just read a book called Operation Kingfisher about the untold stories behind the above including the massacre of 2400 Aussies and Brits on the two death marches to Ranua plus the abortive Operation Kingfisher that might have saved at least some of them. Its pretty damning about General McArthur and to a certain extent the Australian Government (and by extension the British one!) who had their fingers in the pie of preventing Kingfisher.... The author also looks at the psychology of the Japanese in relation to POWs especially Aussie ones. He was the prosecuting officer at the trial of the main Japanese involved in the marches.
    RIP the Sandakaners of both countries...
  2. spidge

    spidge Active Member

    While not being specific to Operation Kingfisher and Sandakan, the Japanese intent was to ensure that all POW's died eventually. The Japanese refused to place Red Crosses on ships transporting POW's and other numerous attrocities. There were exceptions of course however in the main POW's were treated with contempt and were not treated as human beings.

    In German captivity, 1% of POW's died whereas 30% died in the hands of the Japanese.

  3. Oggie2620

    Oggie2620 New Member

    Yes Moffitt does talk about that in the book Geoff because he talks about the main war crime tribunals as well as the ones he was involved in. He states that their government issued edicts that were open to interpretation but that what was written was not always the same as what was verbally conveyed.... Thinking of future deniability? A shame whatever...
    Dee :drama: (an appropriate one for me who does acting as a hobby:drama:!)
  4. Cobber

    Cobber New Member

    I have always wondered about the possibility of success for this operation King Fisher.

    Dropping 800 Paratroopers into the northern Borneo with limited or no help once on the ground would be a challenge in modern peace time let alone a hot drop in 1944/45. How quickly they can organize once on ground will set the mission in progress.
    The POW's would of been in pretty bad physical and mental shape and the need to get them out by boat or plane as quickly after release can not be understated.

    This turns into a what if type post!!!!!
    This; The outward movement of POW's and Australian fighting troops would naturally have to happen very quickly. Right from the start they would be under Japanese defensive and offensive fire from a variety of weapons, and the normal confusion that comes with a para drop. This along with Japanese counter attacks and flanking movements, thus making the job very hard for 800 or less Para's. Removal of all friendly troops from this part of Borneo would have to happen with in the first few hours, other wise they would find themselves in battle with ever increasing Japanese units, and thus eventually being out numbered and sustaining ever more casaulties amongst the Australian attacking force.

    '800 para's'; Dropping in to the jungle, would most likely be spread all over the place no matter how well of a formation that they could be dropped. .
    I cannot see it just being a Para job, the Para's would have to be dropped by air, I would send in Commandos' to a gain and hold a foothold for evacuation of all troops from a "bridge head" or a "air field" and Z Force operatives to give help with the native guerilla units. With the RAN or RAAF units on call for immediate fire support and removal of all allied troops from this area..

    To get the POW's and the attacking force out would of been very hard to achieve, with out large casualty lists. many of the Paras would be used as stretcher bearers for the POW's and for their own wounded comrades using up even more potential fighters.
    The possibility of the mission going pear shaped and sustaining maximum casualties was still quite high, being in Borneo they had no allied troops for thousands of miles. And if it went pear shaped the out cry would of been worse than the one we have still today for not attempting the rescue.

    It sounds all nice and easy send in the Paras rescue the men kill the japanese we win, we all know things are never that easy, and I dare say that if they went ahead and it failed the op roar and royal commissions etc would of been deafening for decades.
  5. spidge

    spidge Active Member

    In support of Cobber's response we will never know how "Kingfisher" would have developed and is a "What If" as it never got off the ground.

    If you read this first article (my favourite taste of Aussie retribution) and then go to the link, there is a bit on "Kingfisher" at the bottom where it does not blame Macarthur but Blamey.

    The other stories of the atrocities to the Chinese and Korean labourers should not be forgotten.

    Nishimura was not going home to the lap of luxury - Glad he never made it!
  6. Oggie2620

    Oggie2620 New Member

    Yes I agree that Blamey was partly to blame but I gather from the book that McArthur was more so. However at the end of the day it was the Japanese who were mostly to blame and the officers on the ground (who were executed despite not guilty pleas) who were the ones who committed the atrocities wherever they were so it was worth writing the book just to bring that to the fore. Cobber I agree with you but somehow to had a few more survivors would have been good. I think the paras themselves would have said go for it rather than doing the training and then not being used (had they known what they were training for!):dizzy:

  7. sniper

    sniper Active Member

    Speaking as an ex-para, any para worthy of his badge would of said lets go for it. But looking at the logistics of this operation and the combat effectiveness of the paras it would of been a no-go anyway. The paras time in the field is really limited to around 48hours due to how lightly armed they are and the amount of equipment they can carry. They would of had to of had regular supply drops laid out in front of them to carry on fighting after that period of time, which could of easily been over-run by the Japanese before they got to it. Without further support from other ground troops they would of been surrounded in no time and we would be adding another 800 names onto the list that were POW's or KIA.
    I agree with Cobber about having the Commando's in forming a bridgehead and maybe even try to form a defensive corridor to funnel out onto the beachead the survivors using at least another couple of battalions of troops. I don't see how this logisically could of been done so i really can't see how anyone could of been blamed for calling this particular operation off.

  8. Oggie2620

    Oggie2620 New Member

    Thanks Sniper for that. I am still new to this so just feel that the Aussies would have saved a few more but I will bow to yours and cobbers greater experience.

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