POW Numbers

June 24, 2013

On March 1, 1944 all internment camps came under Japanese military jurisdiction. From that point on, civilian internees were registered as Prisoners of War (POWs).


Java was divided into three districts, called “Bunshos”. Within each district, every camp was assigned a number. In Bunsho I, camp numbers ranged from 1 to 9, in Bunsho II, from 1 to 6, and in Bunsho III, from 1 to 13 (these numbers are referenced on the individual webpages for each camp on this website). For example: Camp number III, 1 refers to the Gedangan Camp in Semarang.


A separate numbering system existed for internees held within each district. An internee who transferred to another district was assigned a new POW number for their new district. On the webpages referenced below, an overview of the POW numbers for each Bunsho is provided.

Individual POW numbers can be found on:
1. POW cards (aka Japanese registration cards), archived by the Netherlands Red Cross in The Hague. Many are available online at http://www.gahetna.nl/collectie/index/nt00425.
2. Postcards sent by the International Red Cross. Listed beside the sender’s and/or recipient’s names were the symbol for Java (this resembled a “T” with three legs), and their Bunsho and POW number(s).
3. Some camp rosters: for example, the final roster for Tjideng (August 1945), the combined final roster for the three Tjimahi men’s camps (August 1945), and the rosters for Ambarawa 6 and Banjoebiroe 10.
4. Personal belongings (camp IDs, diaries, etc.).

From an individual POW number, some details of an internee’s camp history can be determined. For example, let’s take a name and POW number from the final roster for the Tjideng Camp in Batavia, namely 12,500 (see Overview for Bunsho I below). A review of the Bunsho I numbers shows this number was issued in the ADEK Camp (in Batavia) on November 25, 1944, the day 850 internees transferred in from the Tjihapit Camp (in Bandoeng). Since ADEK and Tjideng are both in Bunsho I, the internee would not have received a new POW number upon trans¬ferring from ADEK to Tjideng. A review of the transfer log at ADEK (shown on the webpage for ADEK) suggests that the transfer to Tjideng probably occurred on March 17, 1945.

The POW numbering system referenced is that of Wiert Krijgsveld. The results of his research are described in detail in the “Geïllustreerde Atlas van de Japanse Kampen”, Volume II, pages 15-18. An overview of his numbering system for the individual Bunshos is provided below.