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Type: Journal article
Title: Rank and leadership in prisoner of war camps in the Far East 1942-1945
Author: Cunningham, M.
Citation: Studia Historica Gedanensia, 2011; 2011:83-100
Publisher: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Gdanskiego
Issue Date: 2011
ISSN: 2081-3309
Statement of
Michele Cunningham
Abstract: Leadership amongst military prisoners of war is an interesting issue to discuss, particularly when the majority of prisoners belong to a volunteer army, as in the case of Australians captured by the Japanese in 1942. When the Allied commanders on Singapore Island capitulated to the Japanese in February 1942 tens of thousands of soldiers became prisoners of war. Their initial reaction was one of disbelief and then anger towards their officers for giving up when they believed they could have fought longer. Once they were prisoners many Australian soldiers found it hard to accept that officers continued to maintain the military structure. As far as they were concerned, they were no longer soldiers and everyone should be the same now. Initially, therefore, it was difficult for Australian officers to maintain discipline, even though the need for organisation and leadership was obvious if they were to survive. As the months passed the prisoners were dispersed in groups of several thousand to varous part of Southeast Asia to work for the Japanese and the leadership exhibited by senior and junior officers varied greatly from camp to camp. While this paper focuses particularly on camps in Borneo, it also considers different camps to determine to what extent rank and privilege were maintained and how that contributed to, or adversely affected, the wellbeing and survival of men interned in them.
Rights: © Copyright by Instytut Historii Uniwersytetu Gdańskiego
RMID: 0020119223
Appears in Collections:History publications

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