POW Camp - Cowra

Just under two kilometres to the North-East of the Garden, is the Site of the World War 2 Prisoner of War camp. The camp held 2,000 Italian, 2,000 Japanese, a handful of Koreans and Chinese and around 1,200 Indonesian military prisoners.
On the frosty morning of August 5, 1944 at 1:50 am, more than one thousand Japanese prisoners of war launched a mass breakout from the camp.
 
POW Camp - Cowra POW Camp - Cowra POW Camp - Cowra  

The Japanese belief in the Bushido code of military honour inspired them to die in battle rather than become non-persons in captivity. As a result, a total of 231 Japanese and three Australian soldiers died and another Australian soldier died later that day trying to capture escapees. The bodies of the Japanese were buried in what is now the Japanese War Cemetery in Cowra - adjacent to the Australian War Cemetery. Despite the strong anti-Japanese sentiment of the time, the Japanese cemetery was maintained by members of the Cowra Returned Serviceman's League as a mark of respect.

POW Camp - Cowra POW Camp - Cowra POW Camp - Cowra  

Responsibility for the cemetery was eventually passed to the Australian Commonwealth War Graves Commission and the bodies of all the Japanese who died in Australia during World War II were buried at this, the only known Japanese War Cemetery in the world.
Japanese appreciation for the respectful treatment of the graves led to increasing informal contact between Cowra and Japan. In 1973 it was decided to build a Japanese garden in Cowra with funding from both the Australian and Japanese communities to acknowledge this friendship.
       


Source: on site information board