New book on the Cowra breakout


The Man Inside: The Bloodiest Outbreak

By Graham Apthorpe

Published by Big Sky Publishing
RRP $29.99 in paperback
ISBN 9781925520491

The breakout of over one thousand Japanese soldiers from the Cowra prisoner of war camp in August 1944 is well known to most older Australians.

The breakout resulted in the deaths of 234 prisoners and four Australian guards. What is perhaps not so well known is that the breakout had its genesis sixteen months earlier when LT Maseo Naka, a junior Japanese officer, escaped singlehandedly from the camp. Naka, unlike most of the inmates, was not content to see out the war in a POW camp.

He was riven with guilt and shame and thought constantly of escape or suicide. Naka’s freedom, however, was short-lived but the ease with which he managed to escape should have alerted the authorities to the shortcomings of the perimeter fence. Sadly this was not the case.

Naka was later court martialled for striking a prison guard.

Graham Apthorpe is the director of corporate services for Cowra Shire and, as noted by Professor Peter Stanley in his foreword, he has been largely responsible for Cowra’s efforts ‘to recall and reflect on its heritage from the Second World War’.

Graham Apthorpe’s account of the Cowra outbreak is outstanding. It deserves a wide readership.


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