Terence Sumner Kirk

Terence Sumner Kirk

Birth
Harrisburg, Saline County, Illinois, USA
Death 10 May 2006 (aged 89)
USA
Burial Walnut Springs, Bosque County, Texas, USA
Memorial ID 14244643 · View Source
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Terence was a former World War II prisoner of war who built a pinhole camera from cardboard scraps and used smuggled-in photo supplies to snap photographs of fellow malnourished Marines. At risk of being killed if found out, Kirk built the camera because he wanted to document the horrors the POWs endured during his four years in captivity. Kirk took eight photographs but managed to develop six. He and other Marines walked out of the Fukuoko No. 3 prison in Japan in 1945 after soldiers announced that the war was over. Kirk kept his secret for 38 years after signing a document with the War Department prohibiting prisoners held by the Japanese from telling their stories without government permission. His wife and children didn't know he had been a prisoner of war. But in 1983, convinced that the gag order no longer applied, Kirk released his memoirs and prison photographs in his book "The Secret Camera" and lectured nationwide about the Marines in the Japanese prison camps. Terence was one of seven children born to Benjamin Kirk and Anne Sumner Kirk. At age 3, due to a tragic turn of events, Terence and his siblings were sent to Mooseheart Orphanage, where he was raised and educated. In 1937, he joined the U.S. Marine Corps. He was sent to China and assigned to a security detail at the U.S. Embassy. He was captured on the day the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. Kirk was awarded the Purple Heart in 2004, a six-decade delay blamed on bureaucracy. He died at his home after a heart attack at age 89.
A shocking true story about being a POW in a Japanese prison camp, featuring the only pictures ever taken within the camps, The Secret Camera is the true story of how one North China marine struggled for survival. From his capture on Pearl Harbour Day, through the bombing of Nagasaki, Corporal Terence S. Kirk spent years as slave labour for the Japanese war machine. These are the only photos ever taken inside a Japanese POW camp. A record of courage, faith, and ingenuity, his is a story of heroism, unimaginable adversity, and the will to survive. His photos sat unpublished for more than fifty years, ignored by a U.S. government that seemed indifferent to the atrocities the images documented. But Kirk would not let them languish.


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  • Created by: Elizabeth Reed
  • Added: 10 May 2006
  • Find a Grave Memorial 14244643
  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Terence Sumner Kirk (10 Jun 1916–10 May 2006), Find a Grave Memorial no. 14244643, citing Fulton Cemetery, Walnut Springs, Bosque County, Texas, USA ; Maintained by Elizabeth Reed (contributor 46561848) .