Submariner Prisoners of World War II

Outside of the submarine community, there's a common misconception that there were no prisoners of war from the submarine service.  Most assume that prisoners of war are comprised of Army soldiers and Marines but the truth is that not all submarines lost were lost WITH their crew.

This is an attempt to shed some clarifying light on this issue through the use of first-hand stories and photos from a submariner who was a prisoner of that war - Bob "Sarge" York.

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The following photographs have been graciously provided by Bob "Sarge" York (most are from Mr. York but others are from former shipmates (fellow prisoners) and their familles:

(click here for larger view of this photo)

Left to right: Sarge York, Charles Johnson, Gordon Cox, Riley Keysor, Bernard Witze, Chuck Ver Valin.  Sarge York (in the May 2001 message that contained this photo) said, "...we all were in the same camp and as of last Dec. all alive, Sarge."


The typewritten notes on the above photograph are reproduced here:

U.S.S. Grenadier (SS 210) crew 15 September 1945 Prisoners of War at Fukuoka Camp No. 3 located northeast of Yawata between Tabata and Kokura. Camp in background and coal fired power plant.

Back Row L-R: Dean B. Shoemaker, Ben H. Fulton, Randolph J. Garrison, ?iner B. Pierce, John H. Gunderson, Bernard W. Witzke

Center Row L-R: William H. Keefe, Charles (n) Roskell, Hentry W. Rutkowski, Rex R. Evans, Lyle L. Sawatzke, Charles H. Whitlock, Charles E. Johnson

Front Row L-R: Joseph A. Minton, John K. Simpson, Riley H. Keysor, Virgil A. Quillette, Thomas J. Trigg

Fukuoka Camp #3


Fukuoka Camp #3


Bernard Witzke - Prisoner 520

Former POW Slim Landrum dies at 56
(click on image for readable size view)



What follows is an excerpt from a message receive from Sarge York when the creation of this page began. I think it's a most suitable dedication....

"Don I must tell you who should be mentioned was our Yeoman (Robert Palmer) who for many years put out a newsletter keeping the remaining crew informed of the who, whats and whys of all of us. I just received the last newsletter #84 that was never completed due to Robert getting sick, his wife Barbara found it tucked away and even though he passed away last August, decided to send it to all remaining 210ers. His efforts should be considered a labor of love and I am sure his wife Barbara deserves a lot of credit. I don't know if Barbara has copies of all past newsletters but if so it would great if you can get them for distribution on your web page. Food for thought as time is growing short for all our heroes. Sarge"

The trip home....

(click photo for larger version)

More information on the Fukuoka prison camp is available at the North China Marines website and the Center for Research, Allied POWS Under the Japanese website.

Update May 2003: Robert "Sarge" York, passed away Saturday, May 10, 2003 at 8pm. Sarge served on USS Grenadier (SS-210), USS Corsair, USS Dogfish, and USS Bream). He died of lung cancer after a long illness. So long shipmate and friend, and thanks for sharing some of your experiences during World War II. God Bless you Sarge, take care and stand relieved, we have the watch now.... - Don Gentry, Editor.