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Rabaul Prisoner Compound (Rabaul POW Prison)
Casurine Street and Konbue Street, Rabaul

Location
The Rabaul Prisoner Compoound was located on the corner of Casurine Street and Konbue Street, between the Pacific Hotel and Malaguna Road in Rabaul. Also known as "Rabaul POW Camp" or "Kempeitai POW Prison".

Prewar
Prior to the Pacific War, this building was a tailor shop owned by a Chinese businessman named Akun.

Wartime History
During January 1942, occupied by the Japanese. By early 1943, this building was converted into a prison compound run by the Japanese Army 6th Kempeitai (Kempei-Tai) military police also referred to as the 6th Field Kempeitai (Kempei-Tai). During early 1943 until early 1944 used to detain Allied Prisoners Of War (POW). Other Allied prisoners and civilians were detailed elsewhere. During early 1944, the surviving prisoners were transfered to Tunnel Hill POW Camp. Afterwards, the buildings were either destroyed by bombing or deliberately burned.

1st Lt. Jose L. Holguin recalls:
"The building housing the prisoners and the officers and men of the, military police headquarter were a series of converted, two story warehouse that before the war had been part of a Chinese tailor shop and clothing store. The officers, interpreters and warrant officers lived on the second floor, the prisoners were confined in six cells located on the lower floor of the northernmost building.  The guards had their quarters in the southernmost building."

Horio You Next Die! page 57:
"The new prisoners [Joseph G. Nason and William Welles] were led into a dirt courtyard immediately behind the storefront. It was closed in on all sides by low, one story structures. Nason and Wells were directed towards the left one which had six evenly spaced doors along its length. To the right of each door was a small, waist-high window opening with bars, and below each of these at floor level was a smaller opening - about six inches high and twelve inches wide. Directly in front of this cell block was a three sided, open shelter, where two guards sat on a bench facing the cells."

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Known Prisoners Of War (POWs) detained at the Rabaul Prison Compound:
Captain Alexander Rae Berry pilot TBF 06109 captured March 3, 1943 detained until early 1944 Tunnel Hill executed March 15, 1944
Cpl Cephas L. Kelly gunner TBF 06109 captured March 3, 1943 detained until November 13, 1943 sent to Japan, survived captivity.
1st Lt. Jose L. Holguin navigator B-17E "Naughty But Nice" 41-2430 captured July 17, 1943 detained until early 1944 Tunnel Hill survived
Lt(jg) Joseph G. Nason pilot SBD Dauntless 06524 captured early November 1943, detained until early 1944 Tunnel Hill survived
Ensign William Welles pilot F6F Hellcat 08884 detained until December 20, 1943 flown to Japan, survived

References
E&E Report Gordon Manuel Appendix 1, page 3
"Australian and American prisoners of war are housed in the house of Akun on Casarina Avenue between the Pacific Hotel and Malaguna Road in Rabaul."
Horio You Next Die! page 57
Target Rabaul (6th Field Kempeitai) pages 47, 51, 122, 266, 327-328, 334, 339, 352, 357, (Appendix A - The Prisoners of Rabaul) 363.

 

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