Inscription on first monolith:
This memorial honors the thousands of World War II Allied prisoners of war transported under horrific conditions by their Japanese captors on "Hellships" and scattered all across Asia to work as slave laborers in factories, shipyards, and mines to support the Japanese war effort.
Many thousands of men were carried on these ships and thousands of those perished from murder, starvation, sickness and neglect or were killed when friendly forces unknowingly attacked the unmarked ships.
These heroes came from different homelands, different backgrounds, and different circumstances, but they shared a love of freedom and a dedication to their homelands.
Truly the Hellships remain among the most senseless atrocities of World War II as so many lives were destroyed for no purpose or reason.
Inscription on second monolith:
This memorial will offer a place of quiet reflection to future generations who must discover the extraordinary sacrifice of these heroes, not only that they may draw inspiration from their example but also to reaffirm the enduring hope of a world set free from war.
The Hellships Memorial will forever speak of this hope, serving as an anchor holding fast against the slow currents of complacency and forgotten loss.
This memorial was constructed and is supported by those who survived the nightmare of being a POW and family and friends of those who died .
Dedicated on January 22, 2006; Subic Bay, Republic of the Philippines
Inscription on third monolith:
As early as the spring of 1942, only a few months after the fall of Allied territories in the Far East, the Japanese began moving POWs by sea out of the conquered areas and sending them to Thailand, Taiwan, Burma, Korea, and Japan itself to be used as slave labor.
A thousand or more men were crammed into a cargo hold, often with only enough room to stand for a journey that could last weeks. The heat was stifling, the stench unbearable. Even the most basic sanitary and medical provisions were refused. Hundreds of men, already weak and suffering from disease succumbed. Hundreds more went out of their minds.
Added to these inhumane conditions was the extreme brutality of the Japanese guards. Those who survived the unimaginable nightmare of the Hellships described their time aboard as the most horrific chapter of their wartime captivity.
Inscription on fourth monolith:
In the final months of the war in the Pacific with the Allies closing in, the Japanese began to escalate movement of POWs on Hellships. While Japanese weapons transports bore Red Cross markings, ships carrying prisoners of war went purposely unmarked and were unknowingly targeted by Allied aircraft and submarines. Dozens of Hellships were attacked, killing hundreds of Allied POWs.
More than half a century later, many of the men lie beneath no headstone or other marker, their bodies impossible to recover from their watery graves . This is the only Memorial they will ever have.
The Japanese committed many atrocities against POWs, but the decision to transport them on unmarked prison ships making them legitimate Allied targets is beyond comprehension.
Separate marker panel at the foot of the four monoliths:
Australian Commonwealth Military Forces
When World War broke out nearly one million Australians, from a population of only seven million, proudly stepped forward to serve. In bitter fighting in Southeast Asia and the Pacific, Australia suffered some 17,500 fatalities including over 700 civilian casualties. More than 22,000 Australians were taken as prisoners-of-war, and of those some 8,000 perished under the brutal conditions imposed by the Japanese. The sinking of the Hellship Montevideo Maru alone accounted for over 1,000 military and civilian deaths. This monument recognizes Australia's contribution and sacrifice in defense of the ideals of freedom. May future generations never forget these brave men and women who gave their lives in the service of Australia.