to perpetuate the memory and history of our dead

8.14 Kuching Borneo

One of the most unique side stories is that three USS Houston survivors ended up at a POW camp at Kuching Borneo. From my research, it was unclear how that happened. At first it appeared as if they had been transferred from Java to Borneo, but why?

I was fortunate enough to link up with Borneo researcher and author Lynette Silver, who was able to clarify. She has determined that these three were originally members of the Fitzsimmons Party (aka Java Group #3). For whatever reasons, they were left behind at Singapore when that group moved on to Burma.

Then on 3 FEB 43 a mixed group of former Java POWs were sent from Singapore to the Kuching camp in southern Borneo. The exact reason for such a transfer is unclear. One possible explanation is that they were destine for Japan but could not complete the trip. That is how the Fowler Party ended up in Vietnam.

Seemingly these 3 Americans were among 104 POWs that made this trip. SM1c Harold E. McManus and SC2c Harry H Stone were later liberated from Kuching, while SM1c Harold M. Johnson dies thereof TB on 10 Oct 44.

Seaman Johnson is noted to have a grave in Cedar Rapids Iowa with a burial date of JUN 1948. We must assume that his remains were indeed recovered and re-patriated. Ms Silver relates that Australian war graves recovery teams exhumed all the Kuching Allied graves. Commonwealth remains were buried in CWGC cemeteries. Dutch took control of their war dead. US remains were repatriated, in line with US policy.