Prisoners of War

Attached to the 34th Division, the 100th entered into combat on September 29, 1943. The battalion marched up hills, through valleys and war damaged villages, crossed the Volturno River and fought its way into S. Angelo d”Alife as they chased the retreating German forces.

Sometime during this period, Hiroshi Hamada became the first 100th soldier to be captured by the enemy. When he could not be accounted for after one of the battles, his good friend, Richard Hamasaki, organized a search.  Because his body was not found, it was hoped that he might have been captured instead. The confirmation of Hamada’s fate came much later after his brother in Hawaii received a message from the Red Cross that he was a prisoner of war in Germany.

During one of the October battles, Hamada had become disoriented, so instead of heading towards his comrades, he stumbled into enemy lines and was captured. Not surprisingly, the Germans were confused when they realized their prisoner was a Japanese American.  He was not mistreated and spent most of his time doing menial tasks such as picking up firewood from the forests. Occasionally, he received a CARE package. Hamada spent the rest of the war – 18 months – in a prisoner compound.

In the fighting for Biffontaine, Sergeant Itsumu Sasaoka was part of a convoy taking food, water and ammunition through the German lines to 100th comrades who had advanced far into the forest. When the convoy was attacked, he stayed on top of a tank and continued to fire his machine gun until he fell off, critically wounded. When friends went back to look for him, they couldn’t find him. He was later sighted at a German POW camp, but was killed by Russian forces when they invaded Germany. His remains were never found.

Susumu Yoshioka was captured in January 1944, during one of the assaults of the continual assaults to break through the German defensive lines. He was officially registered as a POW on January 22nd and sent to Stalag VII in Moosburg, Germany. Years after the war, he recalled to one of his nephews that he was treated well and always had enough to eat. Yoshioka was liberated on July 1945.

Victor Akimoto was seriously wounded at Biffontaine. He died near the French border while he was being transported to Germany and is buried at the Lorraine American in St. Avold, France as is his brother, John.