George - The United States government had on November 5, 1942 declared us "missing following action" and on December 15, 1942 issued "presumptive death certificates" for all of us. This latter action caused any further payment of wages to cease and a $5,000 life insurance benefit to be paid.
Of course, the April 23 broadcast changed everything. My mother had to return the $5,000, but "by law" because the ship had sunk, my wages therefore ceased, and what money the shipping company had been deducting from my wage account and sending to her also ceased.
Janet - My Mother knew my father was alive at the time of the capitulation of the garrison at Singapore cos he was listed " Taken POW", she did also, over the 3.5 years did receive 4 cards from him but only one ever carried a date (Jan 44 ), and the first one arrived 18 months after Feb 42 , and the next 3 all within months of the end of the war, so although he was alive when he sent them , when was it, and was he alive now sorta thing ? Dad always said the Japanese used them as fans on humid days ( probably to taunt them or something ), but to give his card the best chance he always wrote that he was in the best of health, being treated well, not in hospital, and working for pay etc., it seems to have worked as most wives or mothers got one or none !
Also, I am not suprised the USA treated things differently, your goverments made provision where possible to take their bodies home, whereas only this week, in ARAS another soldier has been found after lying in an unmarked grave since 1917 ! poor little devil only 20 years old , and more than likely no one even close enough left to really be interested in the proper burial even though it will be with full ilitary honours.
My Mother dad lost her beloved brother Billy on HMS Grampus in June 40 and I think she was reluctant to be optomistic as her parents and relatives were trying to prepare her for the worst scenario, she always told me ( although I was pretty young when she died so missed out alot on what she could have told me ) that when the letter came and she was SURE he ( my Dad ) had survived , that she was the only one NOT to cry, even the postman and the neighbours shed tears of emmotion and delight but she said " I was pleasantly numb, I was always confident he would make it, but I had cried all my tears for 3 odd years , I could just not cry any more " Bless her she was still only 24 years old, about the same age as I was when I decided I needed to invest in my first apartment, and no man even in the equasion, but she ( along with millions of others ) had had to endure this torture of uncertainty along with trying to keep body and soul together with the harsh conditions of rationing in the UK and a baby to look after, without the benefits of todays medicines etc. God these women were amazing, just as were there men.
Janet - >George, You saying that your Mom had to pay back the death benefit she received for you and the ceasation of wages etc reminds me that my Mother was asked to pressume my father dead by the army and goverment, and was put under quite a bit of pressure to do so.
She totally refused as she was confident he would make it but also as a wife of a serving soldier she got her army wives pay, which seeing as my father had made most of his wages over to her , were very generous indeed, ( Dad made his wages up by playing cards which, I have to say he was very good at, and made a fair bit of money before captivity.)
Many years later my dad told me not only she refused in her heart to accept he was dead, but had she have done, she would have been reduced to a widow's pension which was far less in monitory terms ! This amazed me, as my Mother was the sort of lady who required little from life, enough to pay her rent and bills and enough for food and a meagre clothing allowance, I find it difficult to imagine she even considered the monitary aspect, but it also makes me chuckle too.
Ron - > Janet , just a line about money being paid during the war. When my pop left for the Far East my parents were saving for a house and my older sister was six months old. My father was supposed dead and my mother had to use their saving to survive, when the savings had gone she went to the social who paid her some money. When pop got back and received his back pay of £72 the social took the money out of it they had loaned her.
They never did save up for that house of their own.
So much for the welfare state not bitter as they brought up us kids in a house full of love, worth much more then bricks and mortar.
Janet - >Ron, I couldn't agree more, and especially in those days people who owned their own homes were in a great minority.
We lived on a smashing council estate where we had relatives and extended family by way of friends and neighbours I still call Aunty & Uncle whoever ! much better than no love.
My Mum & Dad were offered their pre-fab and they both thought it was the best thing since sliced bread, some one had refused it can you believe (brand new absloute luxury in 46 ) and my parents were given the keys to look at it. My dad told the lady at the council ,a Miss Freear, that they didn't want to view it they would take it, but she explained by law they had to view it or whatever, so in true Jack Wadge tradition he says "oh yes I understand ok", takes the keys, leaves the council office goes into the cafe next door and has a cup of tea and then walks back in to the council office and says " Thank you thats wonderfull, we'lle take it ", Miss Freear knowing something was not right says " you weren't long " type of thing and the old man said " I ran all the way there and all the way back ", she was in charge of housing at the council even when I was a kid and always was SO nice to my parents.
Infact when they had to move cos I was born and needed a 3 bed house my Mum was peed off bigtime !- she loved her pre-fab.
The money issue that is quite obviously why my Mum wouldn't sign their bit of paper to say she accepted he was dead, also someone from the army told her if she did how much better it would be for her, cos she could them LOOK for another husband, as she must be missing maritial relations, well she took such exception to this and really went into one, which had you have
known my Mum you could just imagine ( a bit like the vicar and the Japanese in heaven episode ) and expalined that she took her vows in a church and however much the army thought they knew, that only God was the one to be answered to, and they could get knotted etc, I think after that they left her alone ! Ron she was a case, she was kind funny, lovely but Jesus if you upset her you would have thought another bomb had just gone off !
I wondered where I got it from, what with Dad and Mum , I can't help myself it's not my fault !!!!!!
Keith - My father was a single man when captured at Singapore, although at some time before that he had some sort of relationship that hurt him badly. I gather this from his inscription to his father on the back of a photo. He met my mother after the war when he returned home, married in 1947, and I arrived in 1949.
He was still in the Army at that time, so approached the local council for housing, only to be told that did he not know there was a shortage of housing, there were more needy cases, and use his back pay to buy a house. He never asked the council for anything again.
Ron - On of my pops work mates, John Green lost a leg in Italy (Coldstream Guards). He wrote out his story for me, the war took one A4 page.
When it got to being refused a new pre-fab in his small village, as these were for outsiders moving in, he wrote four A4 pages, he got things in perspective, the pre-fab was more important to him and his wife, Zelia. He broke into the one he wanted and barricaded himself in until they agreed to let him have one.
His story is worth a read, great chap, helped me alot with my pop.
He deserved his MBE for work on pensions since 1963, retired last year, all in his own time.
When the children next door found out about his wooden leg he demonstrated to them how he held up his socks, with drawing pins.
Keith - There has been much said on this issue, most of it to do with how our fathers were treated on arriving home, or is mistreated the word. But this would not happen today, would it?
Some months ago, I watched a programme on BBC1 regarding the recovery of remains of airmen lost in action over Europe during W.W.2. This part of Europe was the Netherlands, and they had recovered remains of a bomber, and some human remains. I will not go into too much detail, other than to say there are 2000 Aircrew still missing in action in Europe. At the end of the programme the Dutch Colonel in charge of the recovery stated
that a treaty had been signed by H.M.G. instructing that no effort in future was to be made to recover human remains at crash sites of military aircraft lost in W.W.2.
The Americans go to great lengths to bring home the remains of Military personnel, and even to identify if enough evidence permits, the person in question.
This was the case when the remains entombed in the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior, a member of the air force lost over Vietnam, was identified by DNA testing. His remains were disinterred, and re buried in a named grave with full military honours.
Another unknown was then buried in the tomb, again with full military honours.
George Duffy will correct me if I am wrong, but I believe there is within the American Military an Honour Guard, who are dispatched to accompany the remains of military personnel on their journey back to the United States for burial. I have a full copy of the article from After the Battle Magazine if anyone is interested.
Interesting, isn't it?
Janet - >Ron, These stories are so inspiring but also so sad, and they make me very, very bloody angry, but it proves one thing...... NOT ALOT CHANGES IN THIS COUNTRY !
A neighbour who I still refer to as Aunty Olive was married to a Scotsman who had been in Europe during the war, they were refused a pre-fab, so she occupied and squatted in the empty park keepers house in Southall Park a veritable mansion of a place that looks as though it had come out of the Hammer House of Horrors films, ( she was born and bred in Southall ), eventually they evicted her and she made the leader of the housing dept. push the pram with her daughter Tina in, complete with possesions on the top and underneath the pram and the baby's enamel potty tied with a piece of string to the pram handle which proceeded to clank all the way.
She then camped on the steps of Southall Town Hall and had all the media coverage available in those days on the case, yes Ron , it worked OK, they got the pre-fab in the next parade to my Mum & Dad, and eventually in 1956 re housed on the same estate of houses as us in Hayes, but the injustice and unfairness makes me livid.
I think the only reason my Mum & Dad got one in 46 was that my Mum and brother were living with her sister Janet in Southall but my dad could only manage to get digs at an old gentleman's who he had known before the war about 10 miles or so away. Anyway my Mum thought this prefab was FAB bless her.
>Keith, My Dad was really peculiar about any sort of state handouts, he just would not collect them even if he was entitled, I have never really understood the reasons why.
He also never collected his medals untill I did it for him about 10 years ago, his reason was " Bloody good men never got back to wear theirs, and other useless ******* ********* have got them all over their chest, in that case B*ll*cks I don't need or want them",but I persuaded him to claim them as I thought they were valuable sentimantal things that MY children or neices and nephews should be privvy too, he them agreed.
Colin - Just reading the messages about wages etc, I work for one of the government departments and see first hand how pensioner are treated like sh*t when they come to get government help. If they have savings over 8 grand i think it is they get no help at all. If they then spend that money to bring there savings down they still get f*ck all because the money has been seen as squandered. The saddest thing i heard from a WW2 serviceman was " why did i bother risking my life for this crap", I replied to him because a lot of people are thankfull you did as we would not be here now.
P.S Dont hold my job against me because i hate it but i have to pay the mortgage some how.
Janet - >Colin, we all need a job, and we all need civil servants too,( except those chaps from the inland revenue ) it's very nice to think that at least some
The little experience I have gained in these sort of matters, makes me feel that I have half a mind to blow any money I've got on a dammed good time and think about "whatever" later, but being a COFEPOW, and it's 47 years of conditioning , I just couldn't do it. I'm one of these totally unrealistic old biddies who expects a 3 piece suite to last for at least 30 years and carpet never to wear out !
3 years ago my cooker went west, I got 3 different quotes to fix it and they were all within about £10 and the cost of the job was £150 !. I was told it wasn't really viable to repair as it was obsolete BUT Colin it was only 14 years old !
The repair man said " How long do you expect them to last" and I replied " Longer than bloody 14 years", and then of course I went into one telling him that my Mums cooker was the one she had when she left the pre-fab and if it
hadn't been for natural gas being introduced it would still be going strong today ! well to cut a long story short, I bought a reconditioned 2 year old cooker from this guy for £140, all bottle green and brass and a HOTPOINT too and it's really OK, but about a month later I saw my old cooker, which he gave me £15 for , in his window for £125, he had done it all up, but it looked like new when he got it, let alone now, all cream and brown, gleaming chrome etc etc.
WAS I PEED OFF OR WOT ?
So my dear there you are, relatively young people still being affected by the Japanese, and even younger people ( like my kids - having to put up with all my idio's ).
John - >Ron, I don't know whether others had the same experience as my father but you may know that on arrival in Java, there was an horrendous train crash that killed a number of Brits in the 77th HAA I believe. There were a number of officers among them and, as a result, my father, along with a number of others were raised a rank. However, this fact never got back to the Ministry of Defence and, of course, paperwork connected with this was lost when they were captured. When Dad returnedand was given his back pay, it was at his previous rank and the MoD refused to recognise that he had been raised a rank despite representations. I beleive that this happened to a number of his colleagues. The money wasn't a great deal but the principle was important. I wonder what the money itself, if invested since 1945 would have been worth today - take that away from the £10,000 received recently and Dad might have thought that this was what he was due from the government anyway!
Tony - Sorry to be entering this thread a little late (just got back from Singapore last night), but two things I'd like to add.
Firstly, my father was kind enough to video the show about the Dutch recovering a Lancaster and send it over to me. I lived in Holland for five years, and wasn't surprised to see how upset the Dutch airforce guy was when he said that the British Government wouldn't allow further recoveries. The Dutch have never forgotten what it was all about, unlike - sad to say - so many in the UK.
Secondly, I was born in 1959 in a prefab which we finally left in 1969. By that time we had plants of all types growing up through the lino floor, and the whole thing had generally decayed around our ears. Not bad though, considering those places had a design life of just five years!
Janet - >Tony, I am suprised at the state of your prefab, where I live now in Cambridgeshire there are still many to be found that were sold off by the local councills and people have done all sorts to them like re-face them with bricks etc.
Also in Wisbesh ( the nearest town to where I live ) about 10 or so years ago, the local councill announced they were pulling down the remaining pre-fabs and building new houses, there was such an almighty civil uprising amounst the residents that the council relented and refurbished the pre-fabs and they can now be seen with brick skins, all mod cons and central heating etc, they are much desirable as not many occupants of a two bedroom property can say their home is detached !
John - Possibly there were pre-fabs and pre-fabs. Ours was at the ex-USAAF hospital at Morley St. Peter in Norfolk, and it was a very flimsy thing with asbestos (hack, hack) walls. It wasn't one of the "posh" pre-fabs we saw in Norwich.
By the way, my sister used to run the museum at Wisbech. She once staged an exibition about five local men who'd gone to Singapore and had survived Changi and the Railway. She sent me out to Thailand to get photographs to illustrate it, and that's what set me off down this path.
Stuart - Well, it all depends! If it had been in blue chip US equities, his £10,000 could have been generated by around £200 at war's end, I reckon.
Janet - >John, You are quite correct that the missed promaotions were not uncommon.
Before my dad left the UK he was recommended for his third stripe, and while in Singapore in action he got his promotion, However a couple of weeks later they were taken POW and it appears nothing more was ever done about it.
My Dad was convinced that had Capt. Feathers and his party not been killed by the Japs for trying to escape , Dad last saw him trussed up like a chicken in a crate and the Kam Pu Tai ? (spelling) had him in their charge, dad later heard they had beheaded them, that he would have got it sorted etc, this was the only one thing he was really resentfull about, he tried unsuccessfully to get it sorted after he got home, and had he have done he would have stayed in the army, but he was generally fed up about it and left the army in May or June 46.
Ron - First of all I apoligise for this email in advance, it is off the subject of researching the Fepow's but the background is still Fepow related.
John made the point about wages and promotion.
There is another point which has to be born in mind, War Pensions. This one did not occur to me untill Jack Symon - Hell in Five, told me his war pension was better then my fathers as he had two stripes. My pop in all his wisdom refused stripes as he said he couldn't give out orders to his mates. This of course cost him dearly in later life when he did gain a war pension.
Thought you might like to see the pre-fabs at Gorleston in the 1953 floods. We fortunatley had moved to a new council estate by this time, as the baby boom after WW2 cried out for more housing. Like many of you I was one of the many children born on our fathers return, 1947. Our new house was not flooded, but our old one we had left a year earlier was, in fact a telegraph pole had floated through a window.
Don't ask me how we got onto the floods, but I like the picture.
I was born on the road at the bottom of the steps (Beach Road, Gorleston) three house's to the left of the shop.
By the time this photo was taken low tide was in force, the night before at high the water was up to the top pane of glass on the shop door.
My father caught thirty two mice in traps in one night in that house, he was always proud of that feat, to him that was like achieving a world record.
I hope others are not getting fed up with this topic, but I do believe it not only effected our fathers being Fepows it also had an effect on the children of the Fepows, as can be seen by Janets email about cookers.
I still am very thrifty and certainly do not like anything left on a plate, like my father I will finish the remains off, to my wifes dark stares.
To get round my fathers annoyance about left overs my mother made Bubble and Squeek - all the left overs were saved in a big dish and put into the frying pan, this was served hot meal, mostly at tea time and to be honest I looked forward to it.
My father and one of his Fepow mates, Jimmy O'Conner, thought about selling Manjou (Rice) Cakes on Yarmouth Market but in the end Jimmy opened up a traditional market chippy.
To keep all the emails on State Help ? together, I have put them under that title in the Monthly Revue under Repatriation.
They have made very interesting reading. I think we children of the Fepows are more annoyed at the treatment our parents received then they were.
Sorry for the detour.