Father Massano and Father Coruado

Case name: Otsuka Misao And Others | Person in Portrait: Father Massano and Father Coruado | Relation to case: Father Massano and Father Coruado were victims in this case.

Learn more about the background of the trials here

Father Massano and Father Coruado were Roman Catholic priests who resided in Malacca. Father Coruado was the superior of the Portugese Mission in Malacca, while Father Massano was his assistant. 

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Father Massano and Father Coruado were Roman Catholic priests who resided in Malacca. Father Coruado was the superior of the Portugese Mission in Malacca, while Father Massano was his assistant. 

They were imprisoned in the military section of Outram Road Gaol, where they later died of disease, with Father Coruado passing on before Father Massano. During their imprisonment, they were both beaten and kicked by the guards. Their deaths and treatment in prison were used as evidence of ill-treatment during the war crimes trial of 44 Japanese military personnel, who were involved in running the Gaol during the war. 

It is unknown why Father Massano and Father Coruado were imprisoned in Outram Road Gaol, or why men of a Catholic religious order were imprisoned in the military section of Outram Road Gaol.


Father Manuel Cardoso, a fellow priest, noted that Father Coruado was a very strong man before his ordeal and was in his 70s during the Japanese Occupation. Reginald Ebert was also imprisoned in the military section of Outram Prison alongside Father Coruado. He recalled that Father Coruado had become so weak during his imprisonment that a simple kick from a guard was enough to fell him. 

Father Coruado was still alive when Reginald first entered Outram Gaol on 26th Feb 1944. At the time, Reginald noticed that Father Coruado was covered in scabies but could still walk. However, within three days he had collapsed and had to be carried to his cell, where he died a few days later.

Another prisoner, British Sergeant George Victor Peter Picozzi, first noticed Father Coruado in early 1944. Picozzi described Father Coruado as having a double rupture in his stomach that made his stomach hang down, and he was bald with a long white beard. Picozzi also noted that Father Coruado never left his cell. After nearly 6 months in the cell, Picozzi noticed that Father Coruado was covered in rashes and septic scabies, and was scratching and moaning. When Picozzi shouted at the Japanese guards to do something for him, a guard nicknamed “Cascara” entered the cell and kicked Father Coruado.

Around four weeks later, when Picozzi next saw Father Coruado, his body, face, and head was completely covered with scabies ,and his beard was matted with pus. Picozzi again got the guards’ attention and the 24th Accused, Guard Yamanishi Nobuhara entered and kicked Father Coruado. Within 2 hours of this, Father Coruado died. The following morning, he was put into a wooden coffin and taken away. 


Massano arrived in Outram Road on 25th December 1943. He was placed in the military section and was noted by a fellow prisoner, Earl Ebert, to be in excellent health. However, his health gradually deteriorated. This was the result of Father Massano contracting scabies, which Earl blamed on the dirt and the poor conditions of Outram Gaol. Earl noted that the Japanese refused to provide for cleaning materials to improve prisoners’ hygiene. Over time, Father Massano’s scabies worsened and it spread all over his body. He was also later diagnosed with bronchitis by Dr Robert Cadwell of the Malayan Medical Services.

However Father Massano did not receive any medical attention for his illnesses  and stayed in his cell for a month. Earl recalled that when Father Massano was extremely ill, the Japanese prison authorities gave the order to move ill patients to a hospital; however, Father Massano was not evacuated despite his condition. 

Another prisoner, Menon, who was briefly Father Massano’s cellmate, noted that he was constantly asking for help or medicine to relive the pain from his illnesses. A Japanese staff came on two occasions to give some injections but there was no improvement in his situation.  He then became delirious, and died four days later. 

Chan Soon Chew was in the same cell as Father Massano in the days before he died. He witnessed a medical orderly visit Father Massano twice before he died, who gave Soon Chew five packets of gray powder to feed to Father Massano before meals. This was the only treatment Father Massano received and no Medical Officer attended to him. 

During this time, Japanese prison guards also entered his cell and assaulted Father Massano twice.

On the first occasion, as Father Massano was delirious and was shouting loudly, the 24th Accused, Guard Yamanishi Nobuhara, had entered his cell demanding that Father Massano keep quiet. Father Massano was too delirious to comprehend so Yamanishi kicked and punched him. However, Father Massano continued to shout even after the assault. 

The second time, another guard who was not on trial entered the cell after Soon Chew had tried to feed Massano. The guard poured the food into the cell’s urinal and kicked Massano repeatedly. This was after Soon Chew had obtained permission from the 7th Accused, Judicial Warrant Officer Kubo Shinkichi, to feed Father Massano given that he had to be fed by others due to his poor condition. Later that night, Father Massano died. 


On 8th March 1944, two Japanese military personnel came to the parochial house at Victoria Street to look for Father Manuel, who was the Superior of the Portuguese Mission in Singapore at that time.  This parochial house was likely part of St Joseph’s Church which was managed by the Portuguese Mission and remains standing today.

The Japanese informed Father Manuel of Father Coruado’s death and asked whether he wished to receive the body for a Christian burial. Father Manuel agreed. However, the Japanese refused to allow Father Manuel to collect the body from Outram Gaol and instead brought the body to the Church in a rough coffin. It is particularly tragic to note that Father Manuel and Father Coruado were lifelong friends who studied in the same college. 

The Japanese came again on 8th November 1944 to inform Father Manuel that Father Massano was dead and whether he wished to bury him, to which Father Manuel acquiesced. Father Massano’s extremely swollen body was delivered wrapped in a cloth instead of a coffin. Father Manuel noted Father Massano was only 27 years old at the time of his death.

Fathers Coruado and Massano were buried in Bidadari cemetery.

Joshua Matthew Goh is a graduate of NUS Law and is currently working in the civil service.

His involvement in the project stemmed from a convergence of several interests: military history, military law and military technology. He finds it most fascinating that many aspects of the war crimes trials are still present in Singapore's military justice system today.

As if he was not enough of a military buff already, Joshua also serves as a reservist Captain in the Singapore Armed Forces.