World War II and Prisoner Of War Camps

May 10,  1940

Nazi Germany uses quick blitzkriegs, to take over The Netherlands in the European theater.

December 7,  1941

The Empire of Japan attacks the US Navy in Pearl Harbor. The next day the US enters World War II on the side of the Allies.

Johan Albert Rusche during WWII



 Landstrom Sergeant
Photo Services
(Civilian Militia Sergeant)

March 9, 1942

The Netherlands surrenders the Dutch East Indies to Japan.

Johan goes in hiding for 5 months and then was captured by the Japanese. 

July 29, 1942 

Captured as Prisoner of War of the Japanese Empire.



POW for
1,215 days


July 29, 1942 –
September 15, 1944

Johan's Internment Camp Record

POW Camps in Java

Java Party 23

These Dutch POWs included 1,600 from the 10th Battalion camp and 700 from the Kampong Makassar camp near Batavia.

  • Kampong Makassar

    A primitive work camp on the outskirts of Batavia, in existence between April 1942 and October 1945. The Malay word “kampong” suggests an Indonesian rural peasant dwelling. Kampong Makassar  was started by the Japanese army as a POW camp for allied military captives, and consisted of sheds made of bamboo and atap (palmleaf roofing).  The camp  served for most of the war (until December 1944) as a POW staging post before these unfortunate souls were sent to slave labour destinations elsewhere in SE Asia.

  • Internment in Work Camp Kampong Makassar  –  Explosions of Punishments
  • Tjihapit campTjihapit Camp was the biggest of the Bandoeng Camps for Women and Children.
  • Prison camp Deaths in Tjideng
    During the final months of the war the number of  prison camp deaths rose alarmingly. The camp was forced to make its own coffins from bamboo because of a shortage of wood. There were numerous reasons for the high incidence of death. The dramatic overcrowding of the camp during the final months accounts for much of this.

June 6th,

D-Day in European Theater on the beaches of Normandy.

The Junyo Maru

September 16 
September 18,

  The Junyo Maru was a Japaneses “Hell Ship“. These ships transported POWs and Javanese natives in closely cramped quarters. The conditions on board were truly inhuman with no room to move, packed like sardines. The ship was was fitted with extra decks of bamboo, subdivided into cages to keep the prisoners in. They frequently had to remove the dead by passing the bodies overhead or just live with them next to you. There was a latrine in the rear of the boat but the lines were long and took forever to get there through the human mass that most of it was done where they stood.

  Johan was transported on the Junyo Maru with the POW Java Party 23 to work on the Pekanbaru Death Railway. It was escorted by two small gun-boats. Two days out of the Batavia harbor, on September 18th, 1944 at around 5:30pm, the Junyo Maru was struck by several torpedoes from the British submarine HMS Tradewind. The British had no idea there were prisoners onboard and contrary to the Geneva Convention,  Japan did not fly a red cross to signify POWs onboard.

Of the 6,500 prisoners,
 lost their lives in the sinking.
723 Survived.

The worst single shipwreck in the Pacific Theater

See more at wrecksite:  https://www.wrecksite.eu/wreck.aspx?105102

September 18 & 19, 1944

Johan’s story:
Johan said he found himself in shark infested waters through the night and into the next day. He said the gunboats would pick up survivors but only if you could climb up the rope they would send down to you in the water. With hands soaked for 24 hours in water, he climbed aboard one of the boats. He said you had to remain silent and awake. If anyone tried to sleep they were kicked overboard.

September 19 & 20, 1944

  The 723 POWs who survived, were rescued “only to be put to work in conditions, perhaps worse then their comrades who died!”

   The surviving prisoners were transported by truck and train to Pakan Baroe to work on the Sumatra Railway a.k.a. The Pekanbaru Death Railway.

The Pekanbaru Death Railway

The Pekanbaru Death Railway, also referred to as the  Sumatra Railway, was a railway project of the Imperial Japanese Army in Sumatra during the World War II. It was designed to connect Pekanbaru to Muaro in an effort to strengthen the military and logistical infrastructure for coal and troop shipments. The 220 km long railway would connect the Strait of Malacca, via the Siak River to Pekanbaru, to Padang via an existing railway from Muaro.

The railway was completed on Victory over Japan Day, 15 August 1945. It was only ever used to transport prisoners of war out of the area but quickly became overgrown by the jungle.

September 21, 1944

The first group of survivors of the Junyo Maru disaster arrived Pakan Baroe, Camp 3. One prisoner escapes.

September 22, 1944

A second group of 423 survivors arrived at Camp 4.  We assume Johan was in this group. Wing Commander Davis was given responsibility for this camp.

December 12, 1944
January 22, 1945
February 15, 1945
March 7, 1945

Construction of a bridge across the Kampar Kiri.
Long bridge for the narrow-gauge railway Tapoei-Petai was completed.
Tapoei-Petai railway was completed.
Southern railway section started in Moeara.

May 5, 1945

V-Day Germany surrenders to the Allies in European theater.

June 1, 1945
July 12, 1945

Completion of the new bridge acrosss the Kampar Kiri.
Worked continued through the night by light of torches fueled by rubber.

Johan’s story:

Dad had many horrendous stories about the POW camps.

From tring to finding anything to eat on daily work trips, anything that moved he said! Of course, no cooking so everything was raw. They were given less than 800 calories a day in rice. Everyone was emaciated, sick and dying. There was a POW Black Market and he traded cigarettes for food.

Justice was cruel. If anyone was caught stealing they were asked which hand did they steal it with and then chopped it off. He said, no one would steal!

After a section of rail was completed, the POW’s had to take the first trip over newly constructed rail.  

These images are from the Argus collection and show the Pekanbaru POW’s
in the days following the Japanese surrender.

August 15, 1945

Pekanbaru Railway completed.

August 15, 1945

August 20, 1945

Work parties cease.
Japanese camp management burn all administration records.
Wing Commander Davis announces the Japaneses surrender.

August 25, 1945

The Allied liberating team, British Special Operations Executive SOE Force 136‘ entered Pakan Baroe by  parachute.

September 2, 1945

Japan surrenders to US General Douglass MacArthur and the Allies.

September 8 & 13, 1945

First food airdrops start then the first medicine airdrops.

September 25, 1945

The  ‘SOE Force 136‘ arranged food, quarters and medical supplies for the tens of thousands of POW and internees.

October 6, 1945

POW camps close down.

November 25, 1945

Last POWs depart from Pakan Baroe (now Pekanbaru) by airplane.

Out of the 2,220 allied POWs on the Junyo Maru,
 723 survived and only 96 survived after the war!
Johan was amongst the 96!

by Willem Wanrooy – A survivor’s story
Very similar to Johan’s story.

Pakanbaru POW camp, Sumatra

Arrival of evacuated POW from Sumatra at Singapore