PWJM

In March 1943, a major redistribution of civilian internees took place as a result of a government decision to reclassify Japanese merchant seamen as POWs. Japanese men who were previously engaged in the pearl-shell industry fell under this category. 524 men were reclassified as PWJMs (Prisoner of War Japanese Merchant Seaman) and concentrated at Hay, leaving all other single males at Loveday. Family groups whose fathers were in this category were broken up. These men were angry about their reclassification and they protested by refusing to sign documents or to allow their fingerprints to be taken. In addition to these 524 men, there was one PWJM among the POWs at Cowra. He was a ship’s engineer, captured at sea near Java. He died in the breakout.