Captured Australian commando Sergeant Leonard Siffleet is shown seconds before his horrific beheading by a Japanese officer welding a sword. Aitape, Papua New Guinea. October 24th 1943. Sergeant Siffleet was with two Ambonese companions on a mission when they were all captured by at least one hundred hostile native villagers. There was a brief melee and Siffleet managed to shoot and wound one of the villagers, but they were captured and quickly turned over to soldiers of the Imperial Japanese Army. The three men were interrogated and severely tortured, and they were confined to this hell for probably two weeks before they were finally taken to Aitape Beach on the afternoon of October 24th. They were bound and blindfolded, and as dozens of native villagers and Japanese soldiers watched they were all beheaded on the orders of Vice-Admiral Michiaki Kamada of the Imperial Japanese Navy. The officer who executed Siffleet, Yasuno Chikao, ordered a nearby private to take a picture as he killed Siffleet. Chikao is sometimes reported as being killed in the war, but he in fact was captured and sentenced to death with his sentence commuted to ten years imprisonment, as it was determined he acted in a subordinate capacity. The photo itself was found on the corpse of a dead Japanese major near Hollandia by American troops in April of 1944, and it's believed that this is the only surviving depiction of a western prisoner of war being executed by a Japanese soldier in World War II. Had it not been for Chikao's order for a picture to be taken of the act or the lucky find of the photo by those American soldiers, it's probable that we never would have learned of the true fate of Sergeant Leonard Siffleet.
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