The 13th Mission: Prisoner of the Notorious Omori Prison in Tokyo

The Book

January 20, 1943, was the fateful day of that 13th mission of Robert Martindale, whose B-24 bomber was shot down over New Guinea and the Bismarck Sea. He survived a crash at sea and along with crewmen was picked up. Ten months later, he was sent to the notorious Omori prison in Tokyo.

As a prisoner of war, the author became “barracks commander and camp work officer.” This position gave him a broad view of both the Japanese guards and the international community of prisoners.

After the war, he enhanced this knowledge by research at the National Archives and more than 125 interviews with former POWs. A former Japanese pay sergeant at the Omori camp provided additional materials. The author describes his introduction to the Japanese prime minister, General Tojo, and how he was the first person to greet the second American commodore to land in Japan as the war ended.

The Author

Robert R. Martindale was born at Ft. Brown in Brownville, Texas, in 1919. He joined the service as an aviation cadet in May 1941, and saw combat in the South Pacific with the 90th Bomb Group as copilot of a B-24, until the plane was shot down. Nearly three years were spent as a POW in New Guinea, Rabaul, and in Tokyo, Japan. After a year of hospitalization and medication he was released from active duty, but stayed in the Air Force Reserves until his retirement as a Lt. Colonel. After working for a few years, he returned to college, earning a BA degree from Texas A & I [sic] University and an MA in history and government from the University of Texas at Austin. He taught at a junior college before joining the staff of the Texas Commission on Higher Education, making his home in Austin, Texas.

My Thoughts

This is an incredible story of a survivor of Japanese POW camps, including Omori. Well remembered and researched, it includes a great sketch of the layout of Omori and the office buildings, several photos and an index, plus several Appendixes.

Principal Diseases Responsible for POW Deaths in Tokyo Area Camps 1942-1945
Operations Performed at the Attached Infirmary (Shinagawa Hospital Camp).
POWs, Internees and Civilians Evacuated by the Third Fleet in Honshu
War Crimes Sentences
Nominal Roll of Headquarters Camp Omori, 1945–pages of names, all nationalities
Imperial Rescript on Japans Surrender
Additional Reading: Publications by Former POWs

A valuable resource for anyone studying how Japanese POWs were treated, especially at Omori.

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