Toroku Camp POW Memorial, Douliu

Only open between November 1944 and April 1945, Toroku Camp, or known by some POWs as ‘The Schoolhouse Camp’, was considered by most prisoners who spent time there as the ‘best’ POW camp in Taiwan. Located within a school in the village of Gou Ba (close to the town of Toroku), the first to arrive at the camp were a group of Americans who came to Taiwan on the Hellship ‘Hokusen Maru’. Starved and suffering severely from illness, the men were made to complete only light tasks such as gardening and chores about the campsite. For those in better physical condition, a nearby sugar factory issued the men with daily tasks. Unfortunately in January 1945, nearly all of the men had recovered and were subsequently sent onboard a hellship back to Japan until the war concluded some months later.

Not long after in March, another group of prisoners arrived from camps at Inrin and Toroku. They only stayed for a month before being moved along to Shirakawa. The camp closed soon after and was once again used as a schoolhouse once the war had ended. The two buildings where the POWs had slept were still in use at the school up until 2003 when they were knocked down for safety reasons. It is thought the two buildings were the last POW structures to have remained intact in Taiwan since the end of World War II.

In June 2009, a memorial was unveiled on the grounds of the Gou Ba Elementary School to commemorate the British and American POWs who served time at Toroku camp. Although none of the former POWs of Toroku could attend the ceremony, a small number of survivors shared their experiences via email.