A prisoner of war (POW) is the name given to a person that has become a non-combatant and held captive during an armed conflict. The belligerent power holds the prisoners in custody and that isolates them from their foe (combatants) that are still in the field of conflict. POWs can be held for a variety of reasons during and even after the conflict has concluded. Some prisoners of war may be released others may be charged with war crimes and possibly executed. Over the centuries, some countries have treated prisoners poorly, some forced the POWs into labor camps, others even forced them to fight for their captors.
Following World War I the 1929 Geneva Convention was an international agreement signed and ratified by many nations that governed the treatment of prisoners of war. Many nations would sign the agreement in the 1930s. Of the major combatants of World War II, Britain, Germany, Italy and the United States had agreed to the terms. China, Soviet Union and Japan had not ratified the treaty.
During WW2 Germany and Italy generally treated Allied prisoners in accordance with the Geneva Convention unless under the control of the SS. However, the Empire of Japan did not. POWs were subjected to beatings, forced labor, murder and other brutal treatments.
On November 8, 1995 the U.S. created the Prisoner of War Medal and Ribbon. POWs retroactive to April 5, 1917 were eligible to wear this medal and ribbon.
This section of the Sons of Liberty Museum website is to catalog U.S. soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines that were captured and became prisoners of war. We welcome additional information as we honor those Sons of Liberty for their service and sacrifice.
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One way we promote public education of military history is through our exhibits. View some pictures of recent Exhibits.
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