Davao Penal Colony and The Davao Escape file photo [27471]

Davao Penal Colony

Type   193 Prison Camp
Historical Name of Location   Davao, Davao, Philippines
Coordinates   7.415059000, 125.623050000


ww2dbaseThe Davao Penal Colony was formed in southern Philippines in 1932 on a land about 30,000 hectares in size. The prison complex itself had an area of about 8,000 hectares. In Dec 1941, after the outbreak of the Pacific War, it held about 1,000 Japanese nationals, guarded by Filipino military police reporting to an American commanding officer. In 1942, as Japanese troops closed in on the colony, many guards simply ran away, and many prisoners escaped during the confusion. During the Japanese occupation period, it was taken over by the Japanese Army as a prisoners of war camp. About two thousand Americans were held at Davao during the war. Prisoners were treated harshly in manners typical of most prisoners of war camps run by the Japanese during this period. Several hundred former Davao prisoners were aboard the transport Shinyo Maru when she was sunk by submarine USS Paddle off the coast of Mindanao on 7 Sep 1944. When American troops arrived at Davao Penal Colony, they encountered bodies of dead prisoners decomposing at the places of their deaths without having been buried.

Mansell Center for Research Allied POWS Under the Japanese

Last Major Update: Aug 2018

Davao Penal Colony Interactive Map


Aerial view of Davao Penal Colony, Philippines, date unknownAmerican National Cemetery, Davao Penal Colony, Philippines, date unknownBarracks, Davao Penal Colony, Philippines, date unknownDavao Penal Colony entrance, Philippines, date unknown

Davao Penal Colony Timeline

7 Oct 1931 Governor Dwight Davis of the Philippines signed a proclamation which reserved a large tract of land on Mindanao, Philippines for the construction of a penal colony.
21 Jan 1932 Davao Penal Colony was formally established in Davao (now Panabo), Philippines.
7 Nov 1942 969 American prisoners of war from Luzon, Philippine Islands arrived at the Davao Penal Colony, Mindanao, Philippines.
8 Nov 1942 The Japanese Army formally took command of the Davao Penal Colony in southern Philippines.
30 Mar 1943 An escape planned by 12 American prisoners at the Davao Penal Colony, Mindanao, Philippines was postponed due to a surprise Japanese inspection.
4 Apr 1943 The only large-scale prisoner of war escape of the Pacific War took place at the Davao Penal Colony, Mindanao, Philippines. It was led by US Army Air Forces Captain William Dyess.

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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. Paul Cardarella says:
20 Feb 2019 01:06:05 PM

My uncle, Woodrow Wilson Jackson, was captured at Corregedor. He was later reported to have died from pneumonia in a Japanese prison camp. I would appreciate any information available regarding my uncle. He was from San Saba, Texas in San Saba county. Thank you.
2. mark says:
4 Jul 2020 03:24:57 PM

my great uncle captain paul w dove davao camp aprreciate info on subject
3. Jacque says:
13 Oct 2020 07:56:41 PM


Capt. Paul W. Dove listed on roster above. It shows that he was put on the "Hell Ship" Arisan Maru in Oct 1944. That ship was torpedoed on Oct 24, 1944, and very few of the 1800 POWs survived. Capt. Dove is not listed as one of the survivors.

Woodrow Wilson Jackson is not listed as a POW at Davao. You might check other POW camps rosters.

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Search WW2DB
Modern Day Location
WW2-Era Place Name Davao, Davao, Philippines
Lat/Long 7.4151, 125.6231
Davao Penal Colony Photo Gallery
Aerial view of Davao Penal Colony, Philippines, date unknown
See all 4 photographs of Davao Penal Colony

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