Taihoku Prison Memorial Plaque, Taipei
In 1945, a group of 25 US Air Force and US Navy fighter pilots were shot down over Taiwan and subsequently arrested by the Imperial Japanese Army. Rather than be placed in the Prisoner of War camps with the other interned Allied soldiers, the men were sent to the Taihoku (now Taipei) City Prison, a civilian jail in the city’s centre. The men were interrogated, tortured and 14 of the 25 placed on a mock trial as war criminals. The final conviction saw the men sentenced to death for ‘indiscriminate bombing’. Less than a month later, the 14 men were marched into the prison courtyard and killed by a firing squad. Their bodies were cremated and at the conclusion of World War II, the ashes were sent back to the US for a proper burial. The remaining 11 men remained in Taihoku Prison until the end of the war when they were released and sent home to the United States.
60 years later in 2005, the Taiwan POW Camps Memorial Society hosted a commemorative service at the site of the old Taihoku Prison, now owned by Chunghwa Telecom. In 2009, a memorial plaque was unveiled at the site, fixed to the remains of the stone prison walls. Dedicated to the 14 men who were murdered at the prison, the memorial provides a small insight into the horrors of war and Taiwan’s involvement in World War II. In 2015 a third ceremony took place at the Taihoku Prison Memorial to mark the 70th anniversary of the death of the 14 airmen.