Personal Memories

Personal Memories of your time in the Far East

      John Dixon - At a recent meeting of my local British Legion, a young man appeared who is in the throes of a project at university. He is calling this 'Heroes', of the miltary kind.

      Consequently he would be interested and grateful for your personal recollections of the part you inevitably played as servicemen in the momentous and stressful situations and events. Perhaps you have never told anyone outside the circle of family and friends. Or perhaps you have...

      It was nice to see a young man taking an interest such as this, and I think he deserves every encouragement. I'm sure it would be rewarding for all concerned to tell him your story, however insignificant you may consider it.

      The project evidently is intended to be on-going after his present university deadline of June 2002.

      His name is Kevin Anderson, and his contact is : tel 01294 462870:
      e-mail: BIGKEV29_2000@YAHOO.COM

      Or if you prefer to write, my address is John Dixon, 97 Argyle Road, Saltcoats, Ayrshire KA21 5NE

      Janet Jacobs - Thank you for your email, I have just joined the COFEPOW as my darling Dad died aged 86 & 4 months on 15th January, this year.

      He was taken prisoner in Singapore and worked on the Burma-Siam railway, right up into the Tavoy area of Burma, he was also sent on a job to Sumatra, and I know when they were freed, he was in a camp down near the borders of Indo China somewhere I think, the same camp as Dr Robert Hardy( whoes secret diary was made into a book about 17 years or so ago) my Dad is mentioned in that book, not by name , but a story he had always told me about when I asked When did you know war was over with Japan ?, Dr Hardy recalls it and my Dad was the corporal in charge of the small working party he speaks of, it was so very wierd to read that, when I bought him the book as soon as it was published , and I relaised it was him.

      I am not sure that I can be of any help to Kevin, but I have hundreds of his stories in my head, I am 46 & half, and in my entire life I have only lived in a different house to my Dad for 4 & Hlaf years, when I first married, he then moved in with us !

      Please feel free to ask him if he would like to contact me I would be delighted.

      I am so very, very touched that someone should show interest in "The Army that was never beaten, but he one that was betrayed", and please pass on my best wishes to Kevin and all my best wishes for his assigment.

      I shall always be gratefull for the survival and safe return of my dear Dad, but untill his dieing day he grieved the good men who were so needlessly lost, I pray he will now br reunited with all his mates in Heaven.

      Keith Andrews - Dear Janet and John (that takes me back to primary school), Interesting that I open my e-mails from both of you on February 15th, the day Singapore fell, 60 years ago.
      My father too was on the Railway, although at the time of the surrender was with another small party of POWs that had been taken off the Railway to go road building, Japanese style,through the Tenassarium Forest, as the Japanese needed the road to retreat out of Burma. Conditions were as bad, if not worse than on the Railway, and I am still investigating for more detail. I too have a copy of Dr. Hardie's book, the camp Janet refers to is Tamuang, the last camp my dad was in on the Railway before going to Takuri on the Mergui Road in May 1945.
      My father always said it was he who took that camps surrender from the Japanese Officer, who spoke perfect English, and had been educated at Oxford before the war.
      My father passed away in 1986, and for the past 18 months have been researching his story, and I too am a COFEPOW member. When I have more detail on the Mergui Road, I will pass it to Kevin, as there appears to be more info in Australia than here in the UK. If he wants to get in touch, no problem.
      My father was with the Coast Guns in Singapore, the last Regiment being 9th Coast. A contact I have made in Singapore is writing a book on the Coast Guns and we exchange information.
      In Singapore they have discovered one of the old Coast Gun tunnels, believed to be no.1 15-inch gun of the Jahore Battery, 9th Coast Regiment, 7th Coast Battery. That tunnel will be opened on February 15th, and my contact in Singapore is looking for stories from next of kin of the gunners, or the gunners themselves. A party has gone out from the UK to this event, and I look forward to hearing what they say when they return.
      I am a young 52, which is why I can remember the Janet and John reading books from school.

      Singapore History Consultants - Good day. I am Jeff Chen, from Singapore History Consultants, Singapore and we are sister company to those guys who run Changi Chapel and Museum in Singapore.

      I somehow came across your e-mail with great interest and it was most timely. U see, SHC has been a history consultant to National Parks who plan to develop Labrador Park into a major military history theme park. We have been working on this project for some time and have recently discovered an old 6 inch QF gun in Singapore. What we plan to do is to put the gun barrel with some restoration works to an old emplacement in Labrador Park. We are also part of the process of coming up with human stories regarding coastal gunners life in Singapore, what was life like, and would be most interested to know.

      Hence, if you do come across interesting stories, can u kindly forward them to us as well? Also, can we know who in Singapore or beyond is writing a book on coast guns in Singapore. We wld like to his/her contact as well.

      Janet Jacobs - Thank you so much for your lovely letter and much info, I am so comforted to have found people who can share my sorrow and pride just the same.
      Dr Hardys book is lovely, in it an entry about Jan 45 says "Word from up north Captain Pitts camp conditions are truely terrible" or words as such , I don't have the book to hand, the old chap lent it to someone and I don't expect I shall ever get it back ( will have to buy a new copy), My Dad was with Capt Pitt, he was an Ozzie medic, and they were up in Burma, digging out places in the rock where the Japs could store petrol, this Capt Pitt took my Dads tooth out that was giving him gip, that was just after the Xmas when there were 44 of them in a little working party and he was the only Englishman the rest were Anzac's or Malay volunteers and I know that there were 2 Indians with them (my father always respected them so much cos they said their prayers every night ) they had nothing for Xmas at all, and the camp working slightly lower had got hold of a pigs head, and sent them half.
      It was on that Job that one of my Dads best mates "Bud" Smith perished and the terain being so hostile they couldfn't bury him properly but dug out rock and did the best they could, the capt read from a prayer book, he was so grieved cos Bud was wounded in action in singapore but struggled on all that time to go there, bud played the mouth organ and used to play and sing "south of the border, down Mexico way", it still affected the old chap everytime he heard it.


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