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Red Arrow VIDEOs-Tortured by Sadistic Prison Guard in Angelina Jolie Movie

'I was Tortured by Sadistic Prison Camp Guard in Angelina Jolie Blockbuster': British Victim of 'The Bird' Reveals how Japanese Psychopath 'Crucified' Soldiers and Got So Excited Saliva Bubbled Round his Mouth

  • Blockbuster Unbroken' shows torture of Olympic star Louis Zamperini
  • Angelina Jolie shows brutal treatment by Japanese guard Matsuhiro Watanabe
  • Officer 'crucified' victims by making them hold railway sleeper above head
  • But the film has triggered a furious backlash in Japan over depiction of camps
  • Now British survivor of camp reveals his own horrific ordeal in POW camp
  • Tom Henling Wade was attacked with SWORD 36 times by Watanabe
  • He tells MailOnline: 'The Japanese never know when to stop'

Daily Mail UK, 31 December 2014

The only British survivor of the brutal Japanese POW camp featuring in Angelina Jolie's new blockbuster has revealed his own ordeal at the hands of the sadistic guard who 'crucifies' his victims.

In the movie, which was released on Boxing Day, Officer Matsuhiro Watanabe relentlessly tortures the one-time Olympic hero Zamperini by making him hold a railway sleeper over his head for 37 minutes.
The film has enraged Japanese nationalists who have denounced it as a 'fabrication' with 'no credibility' and called for Jolie to be banned from the country.

But Tom Henling Wade knows the incident is true because he was there - as Zamperini's barrack's commander - and told MailOnline of his own utterly brutal experiences in the notorious Omori camp.
The 94-year-old told MailOnline:

'Watanabe treated us with terrible brutality and most of the time with no respect at all. He was a psychopath. Practically nothing the prisoners said coming out of that camp was a fabrication.'

Recalling one incident in which he was attacked with a 4ft kendo sword, made of tightly bound bamboo, Wade said: 'He whirled it above his head with both arms outstretched and cracked it down on the top of my head. Then he swung it like a baseball bat against the left side of my head and then the right. He just went on and on the Japanese never know when to stop.'

Scroll down for videos

Brave: Tom Henling Wade, pictured in uniform during the war, is believed to be the last British survivor of the notorious Omori camp where he was tortured by guard Matsuhiro Watanabe

Terror in 1944: American prisoners of war held by the Japanese at Bataan. Here they are herded together prior to continuing the march of death, during which 67,000 prisoners died. These prisoners were interned at Camp O'Donnell from which they were later released by General MacArthur's forces

Filming ordeal: Angelina Jolie directs Unbroken star Jack O'Connell, who plays Olympic hero Louis Zamperine while Tom Henling Wade, now 94, who was Zamperini's commander, reflects on his ordeal

Wade recalls a man who took pride in his sadism and would become so carried away with his attacks that saliva would bubble around his mouth.

He said: 'The first time I was slapped by Watanabe was for insufficient water in my barracks fire buckets. The second and third times were for telling a lie.'
He added: 'We decided we had to have a name for him. I wanted to call him 'The Snake' but an American said we should call him 'The Bird' and that stuck.
'It was anodyne and could be heard but not acted upon because it was not offensive.'

The film is based on Zamperini's biography of the same name, which charts the transformation of a teenage tearaway to an Olympic athlete and eventually a US air force captain in the Pacific War.
The book, which was written after extensive interviews with Wade, details how Zamperini, who only died earlier this year, survived 47 days on a raft in the Pacific and then Watanabe's brutality.

But British POW Tom Henling Wade has also catalogued the cruelties meted out by Watanabe, who was known as The Bird among inmates, in a book of his own called Prisoner of The Japanese.
Then a 21-year-old intelligence officer with the Loyal Regiment (North Lancs), Wade, who was captured at the Fall of Singapore, first encountered Watanabe in September 1943 at Omori, on an island in Tokyo Bay.

Bond: Angelina Jolie has spoken of the strong bond she developed with Louis Zamperini, whose ordeal at the hands of Japanese prison camp guards was the inspiration behind her new film 'Unbroken'

Louis Zamperini, centre, in 1936, flanked by Don Lash, left, and Thomas Deckard, both of Indiana, who all represented the US in the 5,000 metres at the Berlin Olympic Games that year

Allied prisoners crowded into the barracks of the recently liberated POW camp in Yokohoma in October 1945. Many endured horrendous conditions and harsh treatment at the hands of their captors

Angelina Jolie on the set of Unbroken. She was said to be devastated when Zamperini died aged 97 in July

Louis Zamperini became an inspirational speaker later in life

As an officer and barracks commander Wade recalls that he was particularly vulnerable to being singled out for punishment by Watanabe if any of his men transgressed Japanese orders.
It was an apparent lie by Wade over the enforcement of yet another petty rule regarding POWs boots that saw Watanabe subject him to a sustained beating and threats of instant death.
Wade said:

'He cracked a stunning first into my mouth. I staggered back and sat on the laps of two men sitting watching.
'As I rose he landed two more punches left and right on my head. I was too dizzy to think, my face was burning and I felt a bruise on the back of my head when I bounced against a pillar.
'I watched the next blow all the way from his right trouser pocket. I could see his fist swing up to the side of my jaw and I was rocked back.'

The stunned Wade was ordered to Watanabe's room where the Japanese NCO reached for his 4ft kendo sword, made of tightly bound bamboo.
Wade said:

'He whirled it above his head with both arms outstretched and craked it down on the top of my head. Then he swung it like a baseball bat against the left side of my head and then the right.
'He just went on and on the Japanese never know when to stop. He must have hit me about 36 times with all his strength.'

But Wade's ordeal wasn't over because the enraged Watanabe pulled out his imperial army sword. Wade said: 'He told me

'If you lie, if you break a Japanese order, I will kill.' His eyes were blazing with anger.'

One episode that still stands out in Wade's memory is the arrival of a new batch of American POWs, including Zamperini.
He said:

'I knew Zamperini very well. I was barrack commander, he was in my barracks so I was in charge of him and welcomed him into Omori camp.
'He was an ebullient character and we liked him. I do not remember anyone disliking him among the POWs.
'I thought he was very Italian in appearance, very athletic with beautiful long legs and compact body. He looked a perfect miler.
'The other Americans who arrived told me that he was an Olympic athlete and said he had run at the 1936 Berlin Olympics.'

Jolie directs her actors on the set of Unbroken. The film is based on a book about Zamperini's life

Angelina Jolie with Unbroken star Jack O'Connell, left, who plays Zamperini in the controversial film, Domhnall Gleeson, who plays Russell Allen Phillips, and Finn Wittrock as Francis McNamara

Laughing, Wade added:

'He was not as fast as the three British runners who were there but he was good!'

When they were later moved to another camp as the war drew to a close, Wade recalls Zamperini being targeted by Watanabe.
He said:

'He made him pick up a beam of wood 6ft long by 4 inches square and hold it at arm's length above his head.
'He was being crucified holding up this heavy beam of wood. Finally Watanabe allowed the American to put down the beam.
'Zamperini could hardly move, could hardly unlock his fingers. I looked at the clock and it had been 37 minutes. I defy anyone to do it for that long.'

However, Wade doesn't recall Zamperini being struck in the stomach, which is central to the book Unbroken and central to Jolie's film.
Although it is understood that Wade was unhappy about certain passages in Unbroken he prefers to draw a veil over the issue.
He said:

'I would rather not comment on that.'

After Japan's surrender Wade gave evidence of Watanabe's crimes to the War Crimes Commission and US General Douglas MacArthur listed Watanabe as a war criminal.
But Watanabe had become a fugitive, had changed his name and went into hiding, only remerging when the war crimes prosecutions were shelved several years later.

Terrifying: American prisoners of war held by the Japanese at Bataan in 1944 suffered dreadfully

Watanabe subsequently built up a successful insurance business and when he was tracked down by the Mail on Sunday in 1995, was living in a luxurious Tokyo apartment.
He said:

'I understand their bitterness and they may wonder why I was so severe. But now my feeling is I want to apologise. A deep, deep apology.'

The former sergeant then stuck out his chin and feigned a punch with his right hand. 'If the former prisoners want, I would offer to let them come here and hit me - to beat me,' he said. He added:

'I was severe. Very severe. I did not use weapons, only fists and hands. I was obeying orders under Japanese military rule - I had to teach the prisoners military discipline.'

Wade dismisses this claim not least because of his own bitter experience but believes the apology was probably genuine.
Wade, who was brought up in China, admits that if he were younger he might be tempted to take Watanabe up on the offer of a free hit.
When asked if he would strike Watanabe, he said:

'I would certainly have considered it as a younger man. Not now though.'
He said: 'Age has mellowed my perspective, as has my Far Eastern experience. I can understand how Watanabe was trying to be a good Japanese. I can respect him for that but he went too far with the beatings and near torture.

'When he made his apology I said I could forgive him and I stand by this. An apology can mean something and it can mean nothing but in his case it probably meant something.'

Zamperini, who became a born again Christian, also offered Watanabe his forgiveness.

After Watanabe was tracked down by The Mail on Sunday, an American network TV interview with the Japanese OAP followed. Zamperini was prepared to meet his former tormentor but Watanabe backed out.
Zamperini subsequently wrote to Watanabe offering his forgiveness but Watanabe never replied. He died in 2003 and Zamperini died earlier this year at the age of 97.

Mr Wade kept in contact with Zamperini with occasional letters and became close friends with some of Zamperini's fellow American POWs but his friends have now all passed away.
Wade said:

'As far as I know I believe I am the last British survivor of Omori camp but I do not know about the Americans.'

In the film Zamperini is played by Briton Jack O'Connell but in the film credits there is no mention of Wade, who is sanguine about whether he makes an appearance of any sort in the film.
Mr Wade said:

'I would like to see the film at the cinema but perhaps I am too old now. Perhaps I will be able to watch it with a DVD.
'I had no contact with the film makers. I offered to give the British point of view but they did not reply. I wrote to Universal Pictures. Perhaps they did not get the letter.
'I did not really expect them to come back to me because they had accepted so few words from other British veterans with this project. As far as I know the British perspective rarely features in these films.
'I don't know if I am portrayed in the film. I was just 21-22 and the people you remember most would be those who are different and stand out from the crowd.'

Angelina Jolie Chats About Relationship with Louis Zamperini

Watch the New Trailer for Angelina Jolie Directed Movie Unbroken

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