Life Vest from Japanese ‘Hell Ship’
From the collection of the Bronbeek Museum, Arnhem
h 45 cm x w 30 cm
The Nitimei Maru, a Japanese troop ship with around 1,000 Dutch prisoners of war and 1562 Japanese soldiers aboard, departed from Singapore on 29 December 1942.
The prisoners of war were being taken to work on the Burma Railway. The Nitimei Maru was just one of many ‘hell ships’, given this name because of the deplorable conditions on board and the frequent beatings by the guards. American planes bombed the ship on 15 January 1943. Thirty-two Dutch prisoners of war were killed. This Japanese life vest, a tangible reminder of that disaster, saved the life of a Mr A.B. Kresmer.