World War II Civilian Prisoners of War
During World War II, almost 150,000 Allied civilians were held in prison camps throughout the areas of East Asia occupied by the Japanese. This included a swath from New Guinea, to the Philippines, Indonesia, Burma, Malaya, and China. In addition, some civilians were held in Military POW camps because the Japanese perceived that they held some connection with an Allied military force, such as being a reservist or a member of a self-defense force. Almost 100 camps held Civilian prisoners throughout the region of Japanese occupation.
Official government statistics show that 14,000 American civilians were among these prisoners, with 7,300 held in the Philippines, 3,300 in China, and the rest scattered throughout the Pacific Islands and other Asian locations. Of these, a total of 11% either died in captivity or disappeared. Another 2,000 Americans who were captured by the Japanese were returned home in prisoner exchanges that occurred in 1942 and 1943.
CPOW, formerly Bay Area Civilian Ex-Prisoners of War (BACEPOW), is dedicated to supporting and telling the story of all of these people who were captives of the Japanese. Though the organization was founded in the San Francisco area, its membership is now nation-wide, with members in several other countries. We welcome those who were civilian and military prisoners, their families and friends, and those who are interested in the history of the prison camps in East Asia. Our primary focus is on the prison camps in the Philippines, where most of our ex-POW members spent more than 3 years under the inhumane treatment of the Japanese occupying force.