Eddie - I totally agree with all you have said about John Lane's book "Summer will come again."
It does make interesting reading, especially the part about the "Lisbon Maru" Survivors which really gives an insight into the depths of depravity the Japs were prepared to go.
The only thing that really gets to me is the photographs supposedly taken after his repatriation, Why don't they look like many of the photographs (I have a good number) we all see of repatriated Fepows who at best were skin and bone the remainder being indescribable. Mr lane and Co. appear very fit and in the best of health. I don't wish to say they were not very harshly treated, But obviously no where near as harshly as Fepows in other parts of the far east. I do not wish to say more for fear of a rerun of the somewhat abusive emails received (Not from the list I might add they were the tame one's) after my previous comments.
Kevin - Many exPOW's appeared to "recover" their condition relatively quickly once nourishing food and medecines were available. Thus they often look pretty good in pictures taken not long after the war had eneded.
However most of these men continued to have physical and psychological problems, sometimes for the rest of their lives.
I have pictures of my father and his comrades looking quite happy and relatively fit, in Japan, after the war. However when he returned to home to NZ he required continual of treatment after the intial euphoria had worn off and reality set in. He was hospitalised periodically for many years as a result of the psychological and physical deprivations that he suffered. For example, although he had solid footwear in his Japanese photographs (after the war), when he returned home, for a long time he could not wear shoes because his feet would swell up. This was the after effects of Beri-beri, so I beleive.
So do not be fooled by these photographs. It is what happened in the years before they were taken that is the issue, and on this score there are overwhelming and consistent stories from all over Asia of Japanese brutality and cruelty to civilians and POW's alike..
Janet - >Kevin, I was interstes in your letter,as my Dad's feet were always swelling up just like you say( he also had beri--beri) and he drove my Mum mad all the years after the war as the first thing he did when he got in was take his shoes off and walk around bare foot, he used to sleep untill his dying day with his feet hanging OUT of the bed for more comfort.
After his release they were flown to Rangoon where they collected new kit including boots, wearing these boots made all his toe nails drop off and the Dr said it was the undue pressure, his feet looked like a bunch of banana's all spread out and not kept in shape by shoes.
He was only 5'2" and I know when he got home he still looked skeletal, but as you say, he said he had put on over a stone on the "Orduna" on the journey and at Liverpool he was issued with new uniform cos he had outgrown his !
My Dad "seemed" to cope relatively well with life after but it hid the truth , of what a job he had at times and my Mum had a hell of a life at times, but she always insisted he was not REALLY like that and it was (I quote ) "THE BLOODY JAPANESE"
Ron - >Eddie, As the previous Railway topic suggests, comparing workload, cruelty or hunger is very sensitive, it is best not to get into those areas of comparisons.
To give you a pointer. My father told me that when on the Thailand-Burma Railway, food was better then when they got back to Changi, as they had to boil grass and all the leaves off the hedges had already gone into the pot. My father kept a bamboo cane when he returned to Changi, after the railway, to protect the grass under his bamboo bed place, this was for his belly only, he was also a member of the Kura Kura Club, set up on the railway to give some of their meagre food to the hospital patients, this shows he was not a bad person just had a will to survive.
To put this in perspective, better then nothing is of course better, his statement doesn't mean they lived it up on the railway. The figures of those who died from malnutrition in the railway camps shows the food situation was of course bad, they died by the thousands from hunger, illness and the workload.
Further when my father was put into hospital in French Indo China after the war, they put on weight very quickly, we do not know when the photos were taken. The human frame from man to man differs, not all the POWs looked like the worse photos, illness and build caused many to look worse then others, but they were still all in a very bad condition.
When reading two books about the same camp, a difference in outlook becomes obvious, where one will write only about the cruelty, another will include the comradeship, verse and songs, the difference in outlook is startling and gives the reader two completely different views, which one is true, I don't think it best to compare, as in the eyes of the prisoners both are true.
My fathers screams in the night gave me an early glimpse of the Fepows ordeal, we must remember them collectively and try not to compare their hardships, they all suffered, at least I heard my fathers screams many didn't have that chance.
Kevin - It all sounds so familiar. I think they never talked for two reasons.
1. they wanted to forget
2. a lot of people refused to beleive them.
...life was funny at times...not funny ha but funny weird..... But I guess our dad's were lucky, they came home.
Ron - My father was the same with his feet always slept with them out of the bed and as they had no shoes during captivity his feet had changed shape and he didn't like wearing anything on them.
After the war he was found to have a growth on one of his lungs, this was removed at Kelling Hospital and diagnosed as a tropical disease, he was the first one to survive the removal of a lung at the hospital and the large scar on his back was always a reminder.
Although the only time he had been abroad was with the Royal Norfolks in WW2, he was not allowed a war pension, he was told if it had been TB he would have got one. Later in life he received it with the help of a great friend John Green MBE (select to read John’ story).
My mother had the same problems with his moods and backed off him, we kids were told to stay out of pops way when he was in them. Apart from his moods he was a great and loving dad and loved having his family around him, but the war never left him in his lifetime. The worse I ever saw him was when the Japanese prime minister visited a few years ago, his moods got very bad and he behaved as though he was back in the camps, this was sixty years after POW life. It was frightening for our then eight year old as pop was living with us, as my mum had just died and he didn't want to go back to their house.
With the many Fepow Organisations and web sites, they will not be forgotten, their ordeal and memory will live on.
Janet - >Kevin, The bit I forgot to say, which will give you an indication to my fathers tenacity and fiercley dour nature is that he refused to accept that photos of hiself on his arrival home were HIM !
Photos at my Grandparents house in 1946, he insisted the man holding my brother was his own little brother ! it wasn't at all, cos my Uncle was still in the army at that time in Europe on the clean up operation, another case as you say of selective memory I reckon.
Yes mate, they were lucky in many respects, but not as lucky as us, to have them for all those years and the wisdom they could share with us to help us to do OUR bit .
>Ron, isn't that absolutely appauling that he was denied a pension for all those years, who were these R Souls that sat on the relavent panels ? not ex POW's for bloody sure.
I am interested that your Pop hung his feet out of the bed too, bless their hearts.
My Dad wasn't TOO bad when the Japanese guy came over however it did disturb him, and he kept the paper where the front page showed the FEPOW's turning their back on him.
Something he always insisted was " the Japanese will never pay us any compensation", and how right he was , it was our government, being under pressure from the public after the Isle of Mann government paid their guys Ģ10,000-00.
Makes you sad Ron doesn't it but alos SO wild, thank goodness in alot of ways that as humans we have limits to travel etc, otherwise I'de be buzzing around like mad here and there telling people what I think of them when I got into a paddy !
Kevin - The sentiments about the money and the stories are all so familiar to us all and it is only through forums such as this that I have learned that their are so many who had the same experiences with their father.
Here's another one: As a kid, I used to wake up at night and hear my father in the kitchen, pacing around smoking a cigarette. I thought it was normal, that all fathers woke up in the middle of the night, that is what all fathers did, right?
Another one. We never threw out scraps of food, We had to recycle it. This got ridiculous at times and my mother would have to serupticiously dispose of it. Another thing that in my childhood I thought was normal behaviour.
Whilst I laugh about these things and look back on them fondly, they do reflect the deep scars left by being a POW of the Japanese 1941-1945 (or in fact any deeply trumatic experience) and the ongoing effects on subsequent generations.
(Just out of interest in 1 weeks time (ANZAC DAY) I will be standing on the exact spot that my father stood on when he was captured by the Japanese. I attempted to interest local NZ TV stations because I thought that it would be an appropriate program for TV in my country on this special day. They were not interested in the slightest, so it makes one wonder what they went through it all for .....it seems that only those of us who have had direct contact with the experience acrtually care)
Tom Middleton Jnr - dad captured at Hong Kong . In Shamsuipo, Baseball stadium camp Yokohama, Aomori Tokyo. Nothing leftover at meal times dad still licks his plate clean ! fantastic bloke!!
Stuart - What was the spot, interested you can be so precise?
Janet - >Tom, That's fantastic, my dad was exactly the same, and I have to admit to everyones shock horror I occassionally do so in private ! We had a dog at home, so that as long as the dog had had the scraps he considered they were not wasted, but they never generally were anyway cos just like the other lady my Mum was a genius at recycling !!
>Kevin, I am astonished that NZ TV didn't want to cover it, what an intesting programme that would have made for the ANZAC's and their families.
Bye for now,
Kevin - My father, his brother (Uncle jack) and the radio operator Johnny Jones were captured on the islet of Bikati (Butaritari atoll) Dec 11 1941, they were coastwatchers.
John is still alive, he returned some years ago and has pictures. I have seen him a lot and his pcitures and with a map we I have been able to pinpoint the exact spot. The concrete floor of their "hut" still exists as does a well and these also will help to get my bearings.
>Tom, I think we all did the same with scraps, its the way we were brought up. I can still hear my old man pointing a morsal of potato..."I'd have given my right arm, for that...."
As for TVNZ, Yeah I cannot understand it either.....
David - Maybe it's the same in NZ as here, but nothing changes! this short extract from a Very dear friend of mine will explain!
Sailing on an Aircraft Carrier on the 10th. of October. via Honolulu (one day) and then onwards to Vancouver, Canada arriving on October 26th. 1945.
We spent two weeks here and what a reception we received!. Next we crossed Canada to New York, boarded the Queen Mary, and arrived at Southampton on November 18th. 1945.
No welcome here !!
A few notes from my diary, Sgt. P.Legge
Kevin - >David, Yes NZ was like the UK on that score... they even docked my Dad pay for his missing great coat.... unbelievable but true !!!!!
Ron - Food and clean plates was always an issue, luckily mum used our dog as a bin as well.
Mum recycled all our cloths, pop would not let her throw anything out, but she was a good seamstress, so this was never a hardship.
I went through a really bad time of nightmares when a lad, someone was in my bedroom I could hear their breathing.
In later life mum told me dad used to sit next to my bed at night and just watching me for hours.
He was just glad to be home, but as a child it was a bit frightening.
He was a bit different to my mates dads, gaunt and moody, sometimes very deep, his emotions seemed to flow with the tide, reaching highs and then lows, we spent alot of time with my uncle Jack who were together as Fepows.
Pop did not like being in confined places, halls, church, etc. We walked on the beach for hours in all weathers and he told me stories, never about the war.
As I grew up I understood him more and realised the amount of suffering his mind had gone through.
With no counselling, they had to carry on as best they could, it would certainly be a different story in today's society.
Shirley - I think I must have been luckier than most of you. I wasn't born till 1953, long after my Dad had come home. He never really talked about anything horrific until I was an adult. As kids he only ever talked about the funny things that happened. My dad is one of the funniest and happiest peolple I have ever met , with an amazing gift for enjoying himself and making others enjoy his fun. He puts this attitude down to the fact he thinks he's been living on borrowed time since the Fall of Singapore. He reckons every day he's had since then has been a bonus and tries to make the most of it. He is now 81 going on 22, and has an amazing social life.
He thinks he managed to survive because he had a very hard life as a kid in the East End and was a dab hand at ''liberating'' neccesary supplies whenever he had the chance.
I am enormously proud of my Dad and feel it has been a privelege and an honour to have known him. I only hope that he has passed on some of his positive attitude to life to my children.
Thanks for the site. This is first time I have written but I read everything.
It is our duty to make sure that the sacrifices they made are remembered.
Ron - >Shirley, I wouldn't have changed my pop, he will always be 'My Pop, My Hero'.
I miss him terribly, great dad and family man, his wisdom and appreciation about the simple things in life will always be treasured.
Kevin - >Ron, I thought that you were talking about my Dad, even right down to having an Uncle Jack who was a POW with him.... This is why we contribute to this forum, we all have had a similar experience with our fathers and there is the comfort of knowing that there are many others out there who are the same.
Janet - >Shirley, Your dad sounds a grand old chap and I can understand how much you appreciate having him still around.
I was born in July 1955, 10 years after the war ended when my dad was 40, he was occassionally troubled with tantrums and rages, but it was rare, and he did have health problems but never let them get him down too much.
Just like you I consider knowing my dad and having the privildge of caring for him untill his dying day aged 86 & half, was one of lifes greatest gifts, and just like you I hope I have learned enough to do him justice now he has passed on.
Like your Dad he was a happy man who loved his family and friends and as long as we were all OK so was he.
We are so fortunate that we have had them for all these years, please say Hello to your Dad and send him my best wishes.
John Skliros - I have read with much interest the latest, touching exchange of emails on the list.
When I was researching my Great Uncle’s death on Haruku, I found the attached manuscript in one of the War Office files, Treatment - War Office Report .
It might be of interest to those whose relatives survived. I only copied the part which pertains to the Far East— the whole document relates to Allied PWs in all theatres.
Also, there is a very good source of medical info to be found in Dr Philps’ book Prisoner Doctor which describes the various consequences of malnutrition and the ingenious methods that the prisoners devised to overcome them.
Paradoxically, Anthony Cowling relates in My Life With the Samurai how he made a promise to himself that he would not eat his ration of polished (without the Vitamin D rich husks) rice unless he could find another foodstuff which was nutritious. Although both of these books relate to Java, Ambon and Haruku, Philps and Cowling are very detailed about the conditions and their reactions to them.
PS I am mightily impressed with your work. Public effort never brings praise alone — the ‘church’ out there is too broad. It’s good to know that ‘drivers’ like you are out there.
Janet - >David, that is SO sad, I must say my Dad always said the welcome at Liverpool was tremendous, children out with flags etc, and he said a small number of boats blowing their horns etc and a boat, which I believe was probably one of the Mersey Ferries or similar with a welcome home sign on it, he would become chocked up ( as I am now ) whenever he saw a TV coverage of anything nautical like that where the flotilla of little boates boats go out to escort them in, also at Liverpool awaiting them were ex German POW's who helped them with their kit bags, my Dad always laughed cos one of these chaps said words to the effect " here are mate, I'le help you with your bag ", Dad thanked him and said it was OK he was fine, when the bloke laughed and said, " Don't be silly Short Arse, the kit bag is almost as tall as you ", that tickled him and he accepted gratefully !
On the journey home on the Orduna, they had been given "chocolate" and oranges, the oranges were very bitter so no one really ate them except a few boys like my Dad who knew they were good for you however bitter they were, and the Chocolate was so FANTASTIC that rather than eat it, my Dad saved his ( chox & oranges ) all the way to give to my mum and my brother, well he has never been more dissaoppointed in his life cos my brother who was only 3.5 years said they were both "orrible" and wouldn't eat either and even my mother after 6 years of rationing had a job to eat either too, but my grandmother not wasting anything, made orange sponge pudding,orange suet pudding, orange marmalade and god knows what , she then proceeded to grate the chocolate and use it at every conceivable opportunity in cooking !
>Kevin, You have just hit the nail on the head about drawing comfort from others who share this common bond.
I just do not know what I would have done without this site and the comradeship and support of others who know how it hurts when we loose someone so special.
It's kinda like having a " new " family of sibblings, who although do not share the same parents, what our fathers shared ( and to a different degree our Grandmothers, Grandfathers, Mothers , Aunts and Uncles even in some cases like mine older sibblings ) is so horrendous but special that we all have a common bond with each other to draw comfort from.
I just thank God literally for this site.
Janet - Something I forgot to say was after they were released form the hospital with the matron from Hell, they were met personally by Lord and Lady Mountbatten.
Lady Louis Mountbatten visits released POWs
My father always totally worshiped them both after that, he said they were so wonderfull, Lady Mountbatten was in charge of the hospitality and Louis said " Bla Bla Bla( all the things you would expect him to say ) go and see the Missus and she'lle organise some tea", or words very very close.
Do you remember in the late 60's or 70's a TV programme about Lord Mountbatten ? well we had to watch this in Silence and didn't dare breath or blow our noses so he could cherish every word.
Mountbatten at Government House, Singapore
My father was really very sad at the way Lord Mountbatten died and my son born on 1st Sept 79 has the 2nd name Louis, as a mark of respect not only to the Lord but to my Father.
Janet - >Kevin, I have heard other stories like that about the coats, I guess it must have depended on who the admin personell were or something.
Yes, it is truely unbelievable, but I know it went on.
It beggers belief doesn't it.
Obviously the Civil Service hasn't ever been any different and hasn't improved one bit !!!
I hope you are enjoying a nice autumn day there, here it is Raining and cold - Lovely ( I don't think )
Keith - >David, Long time no message, I hope you are well. A few months ago I exchanged messages with a lady in Canada, who's father came home via Vancouver, through the Pamama Canal, on a troopship she says, not a flattop. Is there any chance you may have info on this. I know it's a long shot, but there you go.
I have not forgotten about the PRO.
Kevin - >Janet, a beautifully warm autmnal day here, blue skies shorts, T-shirts, , its the best time of year...
They never gave my Dad a disability pension either in spite of ontinuing problems that brought on regular hospitalisation. Yet those who hardly saw combat got it for such things as athletes foot..... another in the unbelievable but true category...
Janet - >Kevin, I am just "Gobsmacked", it just defies the imagination.
OK kevin, just rub it in about the weather why don't you !!
I have rellies in Auckland and distant rellies on S. Island, also close rellies in Oz where I was last year at this time , I so wish I had realised what the standard of living and quality of life was like when I was in my 20's I would have applied for immigration status, but by the time I found out how good you lot have it, I was too old, and my Dad needed real care.
Never mind, it makes a lovely holiday destination whenever one can afford it.
Kevin - actually the UK aint bad for a holiday either.....
Pete - Stop it the pair of you and keep on track.
Out of interest I'm from Norfolk UK living in NZ
Janet - Not when you holiday here 52 weeks a rain soaked, cold, cloudy, expensive rip off weeks a year, every year !!
Musn't moan, but I do. it's the only way my husband knows I'm still alive and kicking !!
>Pete How easy for you to keep on track..... in NZ..... in the beautifull autumn, OH forgive me do , it's the fog and frost that have affected me !
Pete - Janet, For goodness sake knock that chip (of Ice)off your shoulder.
Janet - Darlings, I haven't got a chip of any thing on my shoulder except a large slice of Zaney humour may be, and knock it off for you ? Not a chance -
All my best wishes,
Love & Peace,
Kevin - I'm in Fiji now, Kiribati tomorrow, now this is warm....
Janet - >Kevin, OK OK you little wotsit, just rub it in BIGTIME !
Have you detected there are alot of people out there who have had MAJOR surgery to remove their sense of humour ?
Perhaps it's me, I'm rather like my Dad, and can see a funny side to almost any situation, but I wonder how serious these lives are that seem to be lived without any humour, just glad I'm not married to any of them!
Ron - Verse from Cpl. Horace Ashington's Diary , 4th Royal Norfolks, ‘D’ Company:
Whose that strange man Mother ? Sitting down there
With his chopsticks and his sandals and his cropped hair
Why canīt he sit down at the table and eat like one of us
He keeps on mumbling “Kysang” does that word mean a curse ?
He talks about his “Juki” and his “Kiltaki” as well,
And this morning he yelled “Tenko”
Here goes the blooming bell.
Why donīt he sleep in bed, instead of on the floor
And he goes to sleep in a raincoat, tell me whatīs that for.
“Hush ! Hush ! child heīs your father, Heīll be alright ere long
You see he was a soldier And went on to Hong Kong !
The Japs then came and took him away to fat Japan
Where he learnt those funny habits,Whilst working for Kokan
Heīs quite harmless child, so run along and climb upon his knee !
And say “Chio Papa” “Tyham Urushie”
Heīll soon get back to normal and forget about Japan
And heīll be happy evermore, and thereīll be no more “Kysang”