Seventy-five years ago today, the September 14, 1942, issue of Life magazine carried some of the first photographs of American prisoners of war, both military and civilian, held by Japan. The photographs appeared in an English-language magazine published in Japanese-occupied China with the unlikely title of “Freedom,” which detailed the supposedly benevolent intentions of the Japanese toward the Asiatic people.
The photographs of the American prisoners were published to show the supposedly humane conditions the prisoners were experiencing. Included were the photos shown below, which supposedly depicted the prisoners receiving radio receivers for entertainment during their confinement.
This first photo shows the gift of the receivers to three representatives of the prisoners, standing at attention while they accept the alleged gift. The recipient on the left is not identified. Shown in the center is U.S. Marine Maj. James Patrick Sinnot Devereux, who later served in the U.S. House of Representatives from Maryland. At right is civilian engineer Raymond R. Rutledge, who was working on a construction project at Wake Island when it fell to the Japanese. The military-style hat he is wearing is actually an American Legion cap. In another photo in the magazine, the cap is visible and reveals that he was a Californian. The photo below shows Maj. Devereux (seated at right) with his unenthusiastic men allegedly listening to the radio in their barracks:
Despite the upbeat text of the Japanese propaganda article, most of the photos depict obviously unhappy men such as those shown below, in which they are shown signing phonograph recordings which were later broadcast in POW broadcasts from station JOAK in Tokyo: