For the Chief, War Crimes Branch
Civil Affairs Division - War Department
United States of American
Perpetuation of Testimony of Former 1st Lieut. James A. McMurria, O-373644
In the matter of the POW Camp operated by the 6th Field Kempai Tai Headquarters in
Rabaul, New Britain - Tunnel Hill POW Camp
Taken At: Columbus, Georgia
Date: 21 July 1948
In the Presence of: George B. Hammer, Special Agent, CIC, Hqs. Third Army, Fort McPherson, Georgia
Reporter: George B. Hammer, Special Agent, CIC, Hqs. Third Army, Fort McPherson, Georgia
Questions By: George B. Hammer, Special Agent, CIC, Hqs. Third Army, Fort McPherson, Georgia
Q. State your name, former rank and serial number and your present permanent home address.
A. James A. McMurria, former First Lieutenant, ASN O-372644, Fifth Air Force. My permanent home address is 586 Overlook Drive, Columbus Georgia.
Q. Mr. McMurria, this is the third time that we have interrogated you relative to your being a Prisoner of War of the Japanese during the war. We have recently been requested by the Chief, War Crimes Branch, Civil Affairs Division, War Department Special Staff, Washington, D.C., to again contact you and ask you specific questions relative to your confinement at the Tunnel Hill Prisoner of War Camp at Rabaul, New Britain and the personnel of the 6th Field Kempai Tai Headquarters that were responsible for the operation of this camp. We have (8) photographs of former personnel of the 6th Field Kempai Tai Headquarter ]not in file] which we will show you later and you will be asked to identify them. However, before asking you specific questions and showing you these photographs, will you please give general information relative to your being a Prisoner of War? Please begin from the point of your being shot down over Wewak and continue until you were liberated.
A. On 20 January 1943, I was the pilot of a B-24, carrying a 10 man crew. We had as our mission that of bombing Wewak, New Guinea. During the raid, our plane was badly damaged by anti-aircraft fire and enemy fighter planes, resulting in a crash at sea. Two member of my crew were killed during the crash [not identified]. The remaining eight (8) member of my crew and I washed ashore on a small Island, name unknown, approximately sixty (60) miles from Wewak. We stayed on this Island for approximately a month before we embarked with natives in small boats for the mainland of New Guinea. We finally landed on New Guinea near the mouth of the Sepic River on or about 25 February 1943, where we were immediately captured by Japanese soldiers. Upon being captured by the Japanese soldiers, we were tire with wire and cord, that is our hands and feet were tied. We were tied so tightly that our arms and legs swelled approximately 2 to 3 times their normal size. We were not given any food nor water. Immediately upon capture, I, being an Officer, was interrogated by a Japanese Officer. I was asked mu name and serial number which I readily gave. Upon being asked the name of my Commanding Officer and the numerical designation of my unit, I refused to answer. The Japanese Officer then motioned to the Japanese soldiers or guards who gave me a severe beating with sticks and clubs. After the beating, I gave the Japanese the name of my Commanding Officer and the 5th Air Force as my unit as I knew the Japanese, in all probabilities, Already had the information, having taken many Air Force Prisoners this late in the war. They checked mu answers with information on file and apparently the information checked and then they continued questioning me relative to the disposition of our Navy, Air Force, Ground Troops and other questions that would normally be asked a Prisoner of War by any Intelligence organization. I denied knowledge of such questions, telling them that I was a pilot and the information they wanted was not known to me.
From the Sepic River, the Japanese carried us to Wewak. Our hands and feet were tied. They carried us by boat to Wewak, where we were held until approximately 19 March  and where we were again interrogated. On approximately 19 March 1943, we were transferred by water craft to Kairiru Island, and island approximately 8 to 10 miles from Wewak, where we remained until about 11 May 1943, at which time we were transferred to Rabaul arriving there approximately 16 May 1943.
Q. When you reached Rabaul, where were you confined?
A. We were confined at the 6th Field Kempai Headquarters.
Q. When your were confined at the 6th Field Kempai Headquarters in Rabaul, New Britain, during the war, were you or any of your fellow POWs mistreated or tortured during interrogations by the Intelligence Officer, English-speaking Major Saiji MATSUDA, or any of his subordinates?
A. We were not mistreated or tortured during interrogations. That was the only time we received decent treatment, such treatment being in the nature of a bribe. We WERE mistreated by Japanese military personnel during interrogations at the mouth of the Sepic River and at Wewak, but again not during interrogations [at 6th Field Kempai Headquarters].
Q. Describe in detail the type of interrogation conducted at the Kempai Headquarters at Rabaul before March 1944.
A. The interrogations consisted of sitting down with an interpreter and an Officer and going over pertinent questions that seemed important to the Japanese. We were asked to draw maps, sketches of areas, gun emplacements and areas of military importance, etc, which we were highly incapable of doing generally.
Q. Describe the food, sanitary and living conditions, and medical treatment of the POWs at the 6th Field Kempai Headquarters in Rabaul before March 1944.
A. The food consisted exclusively of rice and water. The daily amount of rice consisted of about six (6) ounces. On infrequent occasions a piece of dried fish, the size of your little finger, might garnish the rice. There was no such thing as sanitation. Living conditions are best exemplified by the fact that we had about a 10% survival. There was no medical treatment.
Q. While the 6th Field Kempai Headquarters at Rabaul was being destroyed on or about 2 March 1944 by an air raid, were you and your fellow prisoners sent to air raid shelters?
A. Yes, for the first time since we had been captured. It was a shelter constructed by ourselves and was not sufficient in any respect to withstand bombardment.
Q. When you and your fellow prisoners were moved from the 6th Field Kempai Headquarters at Rabaul to the Tunnel Hill POW Camp, located in a mountain pass named Tanoura on Tunnel Hill Road between Rabaul City and Filapila, how were you moved? Were you forced to march or were you transported by truck?
A. We were tied up, hand-cuffed and out on the back of open-body trucks. It was approximately two (2) miles distance from the 6th Field Kempai Headquarters in Rabaul to the Tunnel Hill Prison Camp.
Q. After the prisoners moved to the Tunnel Hill Camp, they were confined in a small cave or tunnel. Describe the dimensions of this cave or tunnel, the conditions under which you were confined. How long were you and your fellow Prisoners kept in this cave or tunnel without food or water?
A. The Tunnel Hill Prison camp in reality was not a tunnel. It was a cave approximately 5 feet wide and 25 feet long, dug back into the mountain. We were hand-cuffed at all times while in the cave. The was not sufficient room for all of us to sit down. After we were sent into the cave, only about have our number had to stand. We were without food or water for three days.
Q. The Japanese authorities claim that approximately forty (40) Allied prisoners were killed during an air raid while they were being evacuated from Tunnel Hill and sent to Watom Island which is located in Talili Bay. Whether or not this is a fact seems highly improbable. State how the prisoners were removed from the cave at Tunnel Hill after the bombing of Raul City. (This point is very important because the Japanese claim that the Allied prisoners were killed during an air raid and all at one time). When the prisoners were removed from the cave at Tunnel Hill POW Camp, were they removed in two separate groups, at an interval of approximately one day, and were they blindfolded and hand-cuffed? Who removed the Allied prisoners? Was it the Kempai Tai guards, and were there any Kempai Tai officers present? What was the date and time of day? Were any of the prisoners who were removed from the cave on the verge of death? After the forty Allied prisoners were supposed to have been killed by bombs during an air raid, were any injured prisoners or injured guards brought back to the Tunnel Hill POW Camp?
A. In answering these questions, I wish to say that there were not forty prisoners removed from the cave. There were approximately twenty-one prisoners. They were blindfolded, tied and handcuffed by members of the Japanese Kempai Tai. They were split into two groups. One group was marched away at approximately 1000 hours, 4 March 1944 and the second group was marched away at approximately 1000 hours, 5 March 1944. It was not possible for all these prisoners, being separated into two groups and marched away at a one day interval, to have been killed all at one time. Yes, I would say that some of the prisoners were on the verge of death. We were not even allowed to mention the incident from the time of occurrence on. No prisoners were ever brought back and the guards never came back.
Q. How were the forty Allied prisoners who were removed from the cave at Tunnel Hill Camp taken away? Were they taken away in trucks or were they forced to march?
A. They were forced to march for as far as we could see. Again, I wish to say that there were not forty (40) prisoners but only approximately twenty-one (21) prisoners involved.
Q. Did Medical Officer Captain Shigeo FUSHITA ever give any medical treatment to Allied prisoners who were confined in the cave at the Tunnel Hill POW Camp?
A. Medical Officer Shigeo FUSHITA came in and looked us over, but never rendered any medical treatment.
Q. Draw a diagram of the cave or tunnel and the quarters in which you were confined at Tunnel Hill Camp, immediately after you were transferred from the 6th Field Kempai Headquarters at Rabaul in March 1944.
A. Here is a sketch [not found in file] of the entire area, the cave, compounds and location of the 6th Field Kempai Headquarters in relation thereto. Immediately after we were transferred from the 6th Field Kempai Headquarters we were placed in the cave, the dimensions of which I have already given. We remained there under insufferable conditions for a period of approximately two to three weeks before being transferred to a nearby compound, which was somewhat a more livable place. This diagram will give you a rough idea of the general layout.
Q. Describe the medical treatment you were given by Medical Officer Captain Shigeo FUSHITA or any of his assistants whose pictures I have here. [pictures not in file] At the same time see how many of the individuals you can identify from these photographs. Did Captain Shigeo FUSHITA ever conduct any medical experiments on you or your fellow prisoners?
A. In looking over these pictures, I recognize: SUGA, SAEKI, AOYAGI, DR (CAPTAIN) FUSHITA, MAJOR MATSUDA AND DR. (CAPTAIN) HIRANO". SUGA was an enlisted man; SAEKI was a Corporal; AOYAGI was Dr. FUSHITA's orderly; Dr. HIRANO was a Captain and the Medical Officer who conducted medical experiments on the POWs. Dr. (Captain) FUSHITA was the camp Medical Officer.
I also recognize OYAMADA. He was a non-commissioned officer. These personnel, other than the Doctors and Major MATSUDA, were all service personnel, such as cooks, orderlies and carpenters. We were definitely given NO medical attention by Captain Shigeo FUSHITA or any of his assistants. They conducted no medical experiments, that is none of this group except Dr. (Captain) Hirano.
Q. Describe all you know about malaria medical experiments conducted by Medical Officer Captain Einosuke HIRANO which resulted in the deaths of Ensign Donald David Atkiss, USNR, and AR 2/c Richard Lanigan, USNR. Were these medical experiments performed on the prisoners over their protests? Dr. Einosuke HIRANO has been interrogated recently in Tokyo, and he claims that he performed these experiments with the consent of the prisoners. Describe in detail all that you know about these medical experiments. Was sheep's blood used in these experiments. About 25 July 1945, Captain Einosuke HIRANO conducted medical experiments on five (5) prisoners. They were: Lt. Holguin, Lt.(jg) Nason, Ensign Donald David Atkiss, AR 2/c Lanigan and myself. We were promised quinine and other malaria treatments if any harm resulted from these experiments. About every three days these five men gave a few ounces of blood to the doctor and we in turn were given an equal amount of blood taken from Japanese soldiers, who were visibly and noticeably suffering from malaria. This exchange of blood occurred several times and lasted over a period of about a month.
During this time an orderly was stationed near our compound and he made three or four smears each day, I suppose to determine whether or not we were contracting the malaria thus injected. These experiments were performed over our protests. Such protest being taken very lightly and, of course, disregarded. We made no physical effort to prevent these experiments. Dr. Einosuke HIRANO as such as offered bribes, e.g., medical treatment later, perhaps an improved diet, etc. Such promises, of course, were never fulfilled. I have no way of knowing whether sheep's blood was used in any of these experiments. Ensign Donald David Atkiss and AR 2/c Richard Lanigan's death was unquestionably a direct result of these experiments.
Q. Describe the death of Flight Sergeant John FENNICK, RAAF. He was suffering from a bullet wound in his leg. Was the bullet ever removed from his leg by the Camp Medical Officer, or did FENNICK die of blood poisoning?
A. Your question is misleading. Flight Sergeant FENNICK is not the person to whom you refer. Nevertheless, Flight Sergeant FENNICK, RAAF, did suffer from a broken arm which was never given the proper medical attention.
The person to whom you refer was Flight Officer SIMMONS or SIMMONDS, NZAF (New Zealand Royal Air Force). He had a bullet wound in his leg. The bullet was never removed and I am positive he died of blood poisoning.
Q. Describe the deaths of the Allied POWs, who died from lack of medical treatment, giving names and approximate dates of deaths.
A. There were, perhaps, twenty or twenty-three POWs who died from lack of medical treatment and starvation. I can furnish the names of twelve (12) of these men and the approximate dates of their deaths. They are as follows:
CORNELIUS, Hugh-Died 29 April 1944
WARREN, James- Died 3 June 1944
FESSINGER, Thomas- Died 15 July 1944
HANKS, William- Died 14 August 1944
ATKISS, Donald David- Died 29 July 1945
LAMPHIER, Charles Cobb- Died 15 May 1944
SHERMAN, Robert- Died 30 June 1944
GILES, John- Died 2 August 1944
FITZGERALD, John- Died 27 August 1944
MILLER, James L.- Died 7 May 1945
LANIGAN, Richard- Died 30 July 1945
Q. Who was the Commanding Officer of the 6th Field Kempai Tai Headquarters? To your knowledge, did he ever participate in any atrocities or permit any of his subordinates to participate in any atrocities?
A. Major Saiji MATSUDA as far as I know seemed to be the highest ranking officer of the Detachment. He was very actively concerned with the affairs of the camp. There was a full Colonel, who belonged to the same outfit, but we never saw him except on rare occasions. There was also a Warrant Officer who seemed to be actively in charge of the prisoners.
Q. Colonel Satoru KIKUCHI was the Commanding Officer of the 6th Field Kempai Tai Headquarters. To your knowledge, did he ever participate in any atrocities or permit any of his subordinates to participate in any atrocities?
A. With or without Colonel KIKUCHI's permission, atrocities were committed by his subordinates. Colonel KIKUCHI, himself, never actively participated in any atrocities to my knowledge. If Commanding Officer, he certainly delegated his responsibility as we saw him only on rare occasions. Major MATSUDA was the Commanding Officer for all practical purposes.
Q. Mr. McMurria, earlier in this interrogation, I asked you the specific question, "Were you or any of your fellow POWS mistreated or tortured during interrogations by the Intelligence Officer, English-speaking Major Saiji MATSUDA, or any of his subordinates." You stated that you were not mistreated or tortured during interrogations. Will you please further clarify this question.
A. The question was somewhat misleading as this inquiry is being made for the purpose of determining whether or not atrocities were committed. As I have said in my original answer to this question, no atrocities were committed, we were not mistreated or tortured during interrogations. We were given such favors as a cigarette or a hard-tack, these being in a nature of a bribe, but were very welcomed. Atrocities were committed by the subordinates of Major Saiji MATSUDA but never during interrogations to my knowledge.
Q. Mr McMurria, I also ask you a specific question, While the 6th Field Kempai Tai Headquarters at Rabaul was being destroyed on or about 2 March 1944 by an air raid, were you and your fellow prisoners sent to air raid shelters?" Can you add further to this question.
A. That question was a bit misleading also. I believe that the Japanese had prior warning that the town of Rabaul was to be a target of destruction on that date and we were taken into a shelter on that particular instance. However, during countless air raids we were not put in bomb shelters as were the other prisoners, that is, orientals, and Japanese prisoners.
Q. Are you positive that Dr. (Captain) Shigeo FUSHITA never gave POWs medical treatment?
A. I have answered that no medical attention was given by Captain Shigeo FUSHITA. This is to all intents and purposes correct. However, Doctor FUSHITA did examine us rather periodically, such examinations resulting only in a smirk, and no administration of medical treatment.
Q. Relative to the medical experiments, do you know of any specific instance where other medical experiments may have been conducted?
A. Outside our cell on a desk used by the guards, was kept a bottle of some clear liquid that smoked and fumed and had an acrid odor very similar to some type of acid. All prisoners suffered malignant skin diseases, such as tropical ulcers and other allied manifestations of Beri Beri and scurvy. On at least one occasion when the guards felt so disposed we were doused with this acid solution, the whole display being highly entertaining to the guards.
/S/ James A. McMurria
JAMES A. MCMURRIA
586 Overlook Drive
State of Georgia [state seal]
County of Muscogee
I, James A. McMurria, of lawful age, being duly sworn on oath, state that I have read the forgoing transcription of my interrogation and all answers stated therein are true to the best of my knowledge and belief.
/S/ JAMES A. MCMURRIA
Subscribed and sworn to before me this 21st day of July, 1948
/S/ George B. Hammer
GEORGE B. HAMMER
Summary Court Officer