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original title: The Cowra Breakout
tags: War, regardless of ideals, is a force that will only drive men apart...Humanity, if it survives the hate and horror, is the only quality that could ever unite them
keywords: suicide, escape, prisonerofwar, breakout, tvminiseries, escapeattempt, drawing, masshanging, farm, christmas, newguinea, sake, seppuku, hanging, massacre, wristwatch, cave, bayonet, worldwartwo, diary
August 5 1944, over two years since a break out at Featherstone NZ led to increased security, over 545 Japanese soldiers stormed a machine gun nest and wandered around outback NSW before surrendering. An estimated 234 died and 108 were wounded.
Historian Gavin Long recorded "At about 2 a.m. a Japanese ran to the camp gates and shouted what seemed to be a warning to the sentries. Then a Japanese bugle sounded. A sentry fired a warning shot. More sentries fired as three mobs of prisoners, shouting "Banzai", began breaking through the wire, one mob on the northern side, one on the western and one on the southern. They flung themselves across the wire with the help of blankets. They were armed with knives, baseball bats, clubs studded with nails and hooks, wire stilettos and garroting cords"
The authorities had been tipped off regarding the outbreak, and the Japanese were to be transported to Hay when they fled.
Japanese soldiers were unlikely to have committed ritual suicide over the disgrace of capture, rather, they had been told to expect torture and camp conditions equivalent to Allied detainees in Burma etc. It is known that treatment of Japanese (Italian and German) prisoners had been humane. It is possible individual events might not uniformly express the humanity .. machine gunning the breakout was not the finest moment in Australian History of detainment. This is one of my favourite mini-series. It is a shame that "Cowra Breakout","The Dirtwater Dynasty" and "Against the Wind' are not put back on Television and/or DVD. All of these are very well acted, very Australian and keeps myself as a viewer,very absorbed. From memory the Cowra Breakout is set during the 2nd world war, in which our two main protaganists meet, during a very bitter battle which I think results in the capture of the japanese actor and the returning of the aussie to a N.S.W town called Cowra. The Japanese are kept as prisoners in POW there camp and our two former enemies become friends. To be captured by the enemy is to be absolutely disgraced and the only honorable thing for a Japanese POW to do is to committ suicide, which some of them try. All in all a very good mini-series with good flow and one which I believe, would be enjoyed by the rest of the world
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