National Army Museum, Waiouru, New Zealand : Military History & Army War Museum

World War II Prisoner of War Visits Museum

World War II Prisoner of War Visits Museum

A new signature has been added to the National Army Museum’s wall in the museum’s popular Prisoner of War display.

The wall contains signatures of New Zealand POWs from all services, including those of Charles Upham VC and Jack Hinton VC. Last week the National Army Museum was lucky enough to have added that of Ross Lynneberg (# OSAKA14/619).

Ninety-two year old Ross Lynneberg served in the Pacific with the Royal NZ Navy before being transferred to the Royal Navy. He arrived in Hong Kong the day before the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbour, the same day they bombed Hong Kong. Like many others Lynneberg was captured by the Japanese in Hong Kong on Christmas Day, 1941.

Nine months later he was shipped to Japan together with 1,816 other captured Allied soldiers on the troopship, Lisbon Maru. The troopship carried no Red Cross markings to indicate POWs were aboard and was torpedoed by the USS “Grouper” and severely damaged. The Japanese troops aboard were transferred to another ship but the POWs were left locked in the holds with no food or toilets. Beriberi and dysentry were rife, and the Japanese were going to leave the POWs to drown.

As the ship began to sink some of the POWs escaped, some were shot, others were killed in the water and others including Lynneberg jumped overboard, swam for a few miles before being picked up by a Japanese patrol boat. Only half of the men who boarded the Lisbon Maru made it to Japan alive, and a further 200 died soon after arrival.

Lynneberg spent the remainder of the war in POW camps, serving 1,374 days in captivity. He suffered malnutrition, beriberi, malaria, and was subject to cruel and unusual punishment. He also witnessed the bombing of Hiroshima and remembers seeing the B29 fly overhead and the huge mushroom cloud explosion. He is a living piece of history and the National Army Museum gives its heart felt thanks to Mr Lynneberg for sharing his story and adding his signature to the POW wall.