New Zealand Embassy Tokyo, Japan

Hodogaya Cemetery: select biographies

  • BONGARD Harper Mervyn

    Harper Bongard came from Leeston in Canterbury and was the elder son of Stanley and Hilarie Bongard. When war began Harper left for England to train as a pilot. He served with 84 Squadron of the Royal Air Force.

    In early 1942 84 Squadron was posted from the Middle East to Sumatra in the Dutch East Indies. Their arrival coincided with the Japanese invasion of Sumatra and then Java. All of 84 Squadron (with the exception of 12 men who escaped in a lifeboat and landed in Australia 42 days later) were taken POW in March 1942. They were held in Batavia (Jakarta) and then sent to various camps in the East Indies, Singapore and Malaya. Some were then sent on to Japan.

    It seems likely that Harper Bongard was among those captured in Java and later transported to Japan as his name appears in a POW list for Hakodate Main Camp in Hokkaido, the northernmost island of Japan. This camp was opened in December 1942 and the POWs worked mainly at the port.

    Harper Bongard is listed as dying of acute bronchitis at Hakodate camp on 3 January 1943. He was buried at Hakodate and later transferred to Hodogaya cemetery.

  • BRODIE William Henry

    William Brodie was 5th Engineer on the NZ-flagged Merchant Navy ship M.V.Hauraki. Captured in the Indian Ocean by the Japanese navy in 1942, the crew of the Hauraki were taken to Singapore. Brodie was among a group of men, mainly engine room staff, who were later transported to Japan.

    Brodie was sent to work at the Mitsubishi shipyard in Yokohama along with many of the others from the Hauraki. When the American bombing of Tokyo in March 1945 made it impossible to continue work at the shipyard, the POWs were sent by train to Kamaishi steelworks on the north east coast of Honshu. During the final Allied bombardment of Japan in July and August 1945, Kamaishi was one of the targets.

    William Brodie suffered severe burns during the raid on 9 August and he died the next day, August 10 1945. He is buried in the NZ section at Hodogaya cemetery.

  • JACKSON Donald Cameron

    Donald Jackson was born in Palmerston North on 24 May 1925. The son of Mr R.A. Jackson, he worked as a bus driver in Lower Hutt before enlisting with Jayforce in 1946.

    Jackson served in Japan 1946-1947 and then joined Kayforce in 1950. He served with 16 Field Regiment of the Royal New Zealand Artillery. In November 1951 he became ill with Manchurian fever and died on 27 November 1951. There was an upsurge of this fever in late 1951 and 31 cases were reported among Commonwealth troops. Donald Jackson was one of two New Zealanders to die of the illness that month. He is buried at Hodogaya cemetery.

    (Note: The Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database lists Jackson as being buried at the United Nations Cemetery in Pusan, Korea.)

  • MAY Arthur

    Arthur May was born in Christchurch on 20 November 1926. He was an electrician before enlisting in Nelson for the Korean War. He served in Kayforce from 1951 until 1954 when he died of complications after a vehicle accident. He served with 10 Company, Royal New Zealand Army Service Corps.

    The official History of New Zealand in the Korean War notes that Arthur May was one of the company’s original members. It further comments that in November 1954 the company had a particularly heavy workload and that two deaths resulted that month from vehicle accidents.

  • McCOOK Alan Frederick

    Alan Frederick McCook was born in New Zealand on 14 June 1919. The son of John and Alice McCook of Christchurch and later Auckland, he worked as a civil servant in Wellington before the war.

    When war was declared in September 1939, Alan McCook was one of the first group to volunteer and he became part of Petrol Company, hastily set up to supply the armed services with POL (petrol, oil and lubricants). The minimum age for recruitment was 21 years but McCook is mentioned as someone who was probably “vague about his date of birth." Petrol Company trained at Trentham and then embarked for Egypt in January 1940. The Petrol Company history records that McCook turned 21 shortly after arriving in the desert.

    McCook was awarded the M.B.E. (Member of the Order of the British Empire) while a Major with Petrol Company. He was also Mentioned in Dispatches.

    Having served right through the 1939-1945 war, McCook moved with 22 Battalion to Japan in early 1946. He was accidentally killed in Japan on 1 January 1947 and is buried at Hodogaya.

  • McNEILL Robert

    Robert McNeill was the son of John and Martha McNeill of Cambridge, Waikato. He served as a signalman with the Royal New Zealand Navy. He was taken POW and sent to the Fukuoka No2 Branch Camp, later renamed Nagasaki Branch Camp of Fukuoka POW Camp.

    McNeill was working in the shipyard until he died of acute pneumonia in April 1944. He was buried in Nagasaki and later moved to Hodogaya cemetery, where he is buried in the British section.

  • MURPHY John Michael

    John Michael, “Mike", Murphy was born in New Zealand on 9 April 1906. The son of James and Catherine Murphy of Ashburton, Canterbury and husband of Veronica Murphy of Napier, he was a waterside worker before the war.

    Murphy enlisted and went to North Africa with the Cavalry Regiment, the group responsible for driving and servicing the bren carriers. He saw action at the battle of Alamein in October 1942 in the Western Desert. Perhaps it was for his action at the start of El Alamein that he was awarded the Military Medal (MM) for bravery. The Cavalry Regiment history records that as the bren carriers were trying to clear the way on the night of 24 October 1942, Murphy’s carrier ran into wire. He leapt out of his vehicle, went forward on foot and cut a passage through.

    When he received the Military Medal, he was a corporal and was later promoted to staff sergeant. He was with the 22 Battalion in Italy when the Japanese surrender was announced.

    He must have volunteered to go to Japan as his previous service would have made him eligible for return to New Zealand. When replacements arrived in Japan from New Zealand, Mike Murphy again volunteered to stay on with Jayforce.

    In the first few months in Japan there was a high incidence of disease and sickness.Murphy died of illness on 18 July 1946. He was buried in Kure in Hiroshima Prefecture but was later transferred to Hodogaya cemetery.

  • TODD William Angus

    William Todd, a second generation New Zealander, was the eldest son of David and Jean Todd of Dunedin. David Todd’s father, William, emigrated to New Zealand from Scotland on the “Pladda" in 1861, arriving in Port Chalmers and settling in Dunedin.

    William Todd’s mother, Jean Renfrew Todd, was from Victoria, Australia. William was born in Dunedin in 1899. He married Natalie Mary Kennedy of Tambar Springs, N.S.W.

    He was first officer on the M.V. Hauraki when it was captured in the Indian Ocean. Todd was among the crew taken to POW camps in Japan. He died at Shinagawa POW Hospital of acute pneumonia and beri-beri after nearly two years working at Yokohama Mitsubishi Dock. He is buried in the Australian section at Hodogaya Cemetery.

  • WEST Albert Edward

    Albert West was Chief Engine Room Artificer on H.M.S. Exeter, a Royal Navy vessel serving in S.E.Asia. H.M.S. Exeter was sunk in the Battle of the Java Sea on 1 March 1942. The crew abandoned ship and watched the Exeter sink. Several hours later survivors were picked up by a Japanese destroyer and taken to the Celebes in the Dutch East Indies to a POW camp.

    Some were later transferred to POW camps in Japan. Albert West was sent to Fukuoka No 2 Branch Camp, later renamed Nagasaki Branch Camp of Fukuoka POW Camp. He died there of acute pneumonia in February 1943.

    West was buried in Nagasaki and later moved to Hodogaya cemetery where he is buried in the British section. His wife was listed as living in Devonport, Auckland.

  • WRIGHT Cecil William Nevill

    Flight Lieutenant Cecil Wright served during World War II, spending over two years as a flying instructor in Southern Rhodesia. He volunteered for No14 Squadron RNZAF, one component of the New Zealand contribution to the British Commonwealth Occupation Force. The squadron left New Zealand for Japan in March 1946. Cecil Wright was killed on 20 April 1946 in an aircraft accident.

Margaret Pointer, Tokyo, 2008

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