Use the search box on the left to look for war crimes details, e.g. by trial location, location of alleged crime, type of crime, names of accused, names of victims, dates, etc
wo 235 jag papers
Judge Advocate General's Office: War Crimes Case Files, Second World War
WO 235 is the call number for a series of war crimes records held at The National Archives (TNA) in Kew, Surrey, UK. This series contains transcripts, supporting evidence (e.g. affidavits, photographs, maps, illustrations) pertaining to trials conducted by British military courts in both Europe and the Far East after the Second World War. The cases marked WO 235/813 to WO 235/1117 in TNA's archives relate specifically to war crimes trials conducted in the Far East -- that is, Southeast Asia, South Asia and East Asia.
Notes for Researchers
Usually each case file comprises of documents such as a charge sheet, an abstract of evidence, trial testimonies from accused, victims and witnesses under examination or cross-examination by prosecution or defence counsel, appeals from accused, affidavits and sometimes -- though less often -- photographs, maps or diagrams and other supporting evidence. However, not all case files are as comprehensive. Whether this is because some documents have been lost over time or because some investigations were less complex or exhaustive is unclear. In some cases, trial testimonies were completely absent; all that are left are summaries. And then there are the odd case files here and there that appear to have gone completely missing. Nevertheless, the bulk of the available files are often substantive -- e.g. trial transcripts are recorded verbatim for posterity (e.g. see image of page 11 of Captain Kumasuka's testimony - case no. 819 - on the left) -- and can run into hundreds of pages per case file depending on the number of witnesses and accused that were cross-examined in court.
Cases in the archive are not in chronological order in terms of dates of trials or locations. Further, where the trial was conducted is not always indicative of where the alleged war crime took place. E.g. WO 235/822 case file relates to a trial conducted in Singapore. However, the charge is for ill-treatment of British POWs at Kanburi Camp, which was located in Thailand.
Each case file does not necessarily correspond neatly to one incidence or an alleged crime. One case file could relate to multiple crimes, and alleged crimes are either recorded as having occurred on specific dates, or they may span months or years. The latter is particularly true in cases where charges relate to torture or ill-treatment of persons perpetrated at a specific police station or prison for the duration of the occupation. It is also noteworthy to mention that the majority of crimes tried in British Malaya and British Borneo tend to relate to actions by Kempei or military police. There are however cases which point to a particular army garrison or division. These cases, I found, often involved massacres. Lastly, it should be emphasised -- even though it seems rather obvious -- that not all war crimes were reported and therefore tried. To illustrate, I have yet to find a trial where the charge was rape, although it is well known that rape was widespread. Further, I have found no cases relating to the abuse of women at comfort stations, though these too were known to have existed.
On this website, each case file is saved as a separate webpage. For ease of research, please use the search box at the top of the page. This should draw up a list of links of relevant and specific cases. Alternately, you may browse each individual case by hovering over the "WO 235" navigation bar. This will expand to show a list of individual WO 235 cases, which are listed as sub-pages and identified by the case file number.
I continue to build this website on an almost daily basis and will publish intermittently. This website project will be completed when details on all available WO 235 case files relating to war crimes in British Malaya and British Borneo have been uploaded.
Lastly, please note that any of the images from the WO 235 cases used on this website are my own photographs and are not official copies ordered from TNA. As such, they are meant for illustration purposes only. Please do not copy, reproduce or distribute them. All images are credited and captioned. Archival images distributed under Creative Commons licence are indicated. If, after reading about a specific case, you wish to have copies of any of the records mentioned on this website, please take note of the case file number and order from TNA:
Alternately, where such cases are available freely via the UN's International Criminal Court website (ICC), links are provided.
I have tried to be as concise and accurate as possible. I apologise in advance for any omissions or errors on my part.