Monday, November 22, 2010

Military Monday: Prisoners of the Japanese

One of three ancestors I am currently focussing on is Salomon Mulder (1900-1986). He was a career military man who was stationed in the Dutch East Indies when World War Two broke out in that area. From his military file, I know he was captured and imprisoned in a POW camp in Singapore.

But while there are plenty of resources available about civilian internment camps in the Dutch East Indies and surrounding areas, there is precious little information specific about POWs. What little I knew was gleaned from various books, most often the introduction, and cursory. The most information I could find was about the Thailand-Burma Railroad, also known as the Death Railway, but as far as I know or could determine, my great-grandfather never worked there.

But during my last trip to the library, I found a great book called Prisoners of the Japanese: POWs of World War II in the Pacific by Gavan Daws. It deals exclusively with POWs, has many pages in which Singapore is mentioned according to the index in the back, and although the stories in it are exclusively American POWs, the author explains in his introduction he did this because the American POWs, unlike the POWs from other nationalities, were in every single POW camp to exist.

I am very hapy with this find and I'm certain I'll learn a lot about this period of Salomon's life, even though there won't be any information specific to him in the book. I also saw there was an extensive list of archives used in the book, most of them abroad, so I might even come across an archive I never would've thought to look for Salomon in.