Showa-Denki – One of the Kobe Factories

Showa-Denki was a graphite factory some distance from Kobe house. John Gilmour worked at this factory for nine months. John explained-

We used to leave Kobe House at 7.00 am and marched about half a mile to the railway station. Here we caught an electric train which took us about fifteen miles towards the factory. Once we had all detrained it was about another three-mile march to “Showa-Denki factory”.

As well as John Gilmour, Evan Jones, Frank Hinnrichsen, Peter Omiridis and Wally Hutchinson all worked at Showa-Denki for a time. Having journeyed with the Yoshihara and Toyo worked to Koshen Station the Showa-Denki workforce would travel a few more stations before alighting from the train at Showa-Denki.

It was here carbon electrodes were manufactured in a process in which graphite was used. The graphite dust settled onto every surface, into every corner of the factory and in every nook and cranny on the men’s bodies. With the added negative that there was nothing of marketable value worth looting from Showa-Denki – this job was the least popular of all those at Kobe House.

On 15th February 1945, 22 Australians from Kobe House including Arthur Draper, accompanied Lt. K.W. Goddard to Showa-Denki. This group was to eventually number about 100 men – a mixture of Australians, British and Americans. Also included in this later group would be Alf Jones, Norm Harris and Ron Lynn.

There was an aircraft factory next door to Showa-Denki which soon attracted American bombing raids.   The group was soon moved onto the north coast to Toyama. There were at least two known exceptions – Arthur Draper and Norm Harris who were both moved to Nagoya camp for 3 months before moving on again to Toyama in May 1945.