Looking at Cowra in the 40s as part of 75th Breakout anniversary

On August 3, 4 and 5, 2019, Cowra will recognise the 75th anniversary of the the Cowra Breakout.

The Cowra POW Camp commenced operation in 1941 and initially held Italian prisoners from the North Africa campaigns, then Indonesian political prisoners. As the tide of the South Pacific war turned, Japanese prisoners started arriving in late 1942.

In the early hours of August 5, 1944, 1104 Japanese prisoners of war held at No 12 Prisoner of War Camp at Cowra, rioted in an attempted mass escape.

During the attack on the camp's perimeter, three Australians were killed together with nearly 200 Japanese who ran into concentrated machine gun and rifle fire.

More would die later. More than 300 escaped into the surrounding countryside.

During the roundup of all escapees over the next nine days, two more Australians would die.

The Cowra Breakout would see a total of 234 Japanese killed and many wounded.

However from this traumatic and tragic event there would emerge a very special relationship between Cowra and Japan.

The establishment of an expanded Japanese War Cemetery for all Japanese who died in Australia during WWII was just the start of Cowra and Japan's reconciliation and friendship.

This further led to the creation of the spectacular Japanese Garden and Cultural Centre, student and employee exchanges, the annual festival of international understanding in 1965 and the commemoration of the 50th, 60th and 70th Anniversaries of the Cowra Breakout.

In August this year the 75th Anniversary of the Breakout will be remembered with a program of events looking at the living history of Cowra during the 1940s as well as the special commemorative events and wreath laying ceremonies for the Breakout.

The Breakout committee has released details of a Legacy Project which will see the images of an Australian guard, a Japanese POW, an Italian POW and an Indonesian mother and child laser cut into 2400mm high steel sheets installed at the POW campsite.

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