Short Stories

Short Stories

      Janet Jacobs - Does anyone recognise these stories at all ?

      During his time in Thailand on the railway and a little way into Burma my Father often recalled a job they were sent on to carry "back" a dieing Jap.
      Now the fact they wanted this guy carried back and didn't just let him die & bury him out there my Father always pressumed he was a high ranking( ? ), they had to carry him along way and what happened to him after they got back to base camp, ( I think they broght him back to near tarsoe ) I do not know.

      Also there was the man oin the horse, he was a very high Jap rank and col. Lilley told him the prisoners were dieing through other things but primarily cos there was insufficent nutrition and food. The story goes that the Jap told Col. Lilley his job was just to get the railway finished , and col Lilley told him if they didn't feed the POW's they would all die and his railway would never get finished at all.
      Father reported that a few weeks later more meat was brought up river by way of live bullocks and being a slaughter man he got a job slaughtering a butchering, they even cleaned the soft hide and cut it into small pieces and boiled it for god knows how long to soften it and then they could eat it , they used the tripe and all and boiled the bones to extract the marrow so the "stew" was more nutritous. He never cared much for marrow or anything like it after ,( but of course would eat it if it was put on his plate,) because he said all the POW veg they ever got was of a marrow type. I realise that out of all the guys there very few would have carried back the dieing Jap and most would never have known about it let alone repeated it, but you never know, someone may recall being told these too.

      Keith Andrews - If it is the same Lilley, a Lt. Colonel H.H.Lilly, commanding officer 1/5th Battalion, Sherwood Forresters was the o.c of Wampo Central camp, Lieutenant Hatori being the Japanese commander. Hardie's book again. This is early April 1943.
      However, in September 1943, E.E.Dunlop places him in charge of Kinsayok, further up the line towards Burma. Any help to anyone to help with the stories.
      Janet, to go back to a previous e-mail, I am going to get hold of an order of battle for Burma, and will try to find Budd once and for all, if that is possible.

      Janet Jacobs - Keith you're an absolute marvell, how many reference books have you got ? I bet it's a fair few, and I sit wondering how many many hours you must spend trying to help others with their seraches, thank you so much. Father always spoke so highly of Col lilley, it must be the same one.

      He used to tell me about a young Siamese trader who used to come up river with certain supplies and duck eggs, Dad would boil his duck eggs and then eat one a day, he always said "he was only a young man about my own age", I now realise this was Bo Pong, a Capt or similar in the Free Siamese Army, and I believe he got the VC or GC after the war, I know for definate he was the one who somehow told Col Lilley that the Germans had capitulated.

      Keith, must away, have worked all weekend, and am still not ready with this coming weeks laundry yet, my hubby works at Heathrow and commutes which means I must get my skates on before he leaves a 4am tomorrow morning. I reckon this working lark is highly overrated myself and if I didn't have to, I wouldn't !

      Keith Andrews - Lieutenant-Colonel Harold Hutchinson Lilly, awarded the OBE for his services as a POW.
      Lieutenant-Colonel Ernest Edward Dunlop, Australian Army Medical Corps, Senior Medical Officer, Chungkai, Jan-May 1944, awarded the OBE for his services as a POW. He was o/c of the 4th camp (Hospital) my father was in.
      Boon Pong Sirivejjabhandu, Thai Merchant from Kanchanaburi, underground agent and captain in the Free Siamese Army.
      Supplied camps at the southern end of the railway as the Japanese would permit, and much they knew nothing about, and redeemed all pledges after the war, took great risks and for his services and courage was awarded the George Medal (the civilian V.C) after the war I think you know more than you let on, at least your dad told you a lot more stories than mine.

      Janet Jacobs - Was Dunlop, " TYRE'd and Weary Dunlop " ? My Dad has that book cos my Uncle was there with the Anzacs, but he never showed alot of interst in the book ? why I don't know - PROBABLY DIDN'T LIKE HIM ALOT OR SOMETHING !!

      My Dad made my mum always in the late 50's & 60's, buy ANZAC products( anchor butter, Oz cheese and NZ lamb ) as he always said they were "GOOD SOLDIERS", which ment they did not moan, and always tried to keep their spirits up, but lets face it, they were decendants of people who would be brave enough to take a chance on a better life ( like the americans ), and probab;y were genetically better equiped to deal with HARDSHIP . also the bloke who took his tooth out was an Oz , was that Cat pitt ? was he an Anzac ?

      So the old man did know alot what had or was going on, do we know if this Boon Pong was the man who told Col Lilley that Germany had been beaten ?

      What you say about Boon Pong is just what he told me, he said ( I quote best as I can remember ) Col Lilley gave him I O U 's and said (if) when the allies won he would be repayed. this all makes more sense than ever, especially when you say he did get the George Cross or whatever, I wonder if he is stil alive ??, the bit that always marvelled me was that the old chap used to say " you know how diferent we all look, well this bloke so was pretty ! " he then went into a million explanations that he didn't like him like THAT , and I knew exactly what he meant, I knew alot of Gurkhas ( in 1971 & 2 I worked at Hambro's Merchant Bank at their West end Dept in Pall Mall, the 8th Gurkha riffles were doing their tour of duty at Buck house & St James Place ( literally next door - 50 feet away ) and some were just normal , and some of these guys were very S E Asian looking and they were SO pretty, wish I was one of them !! actually all jokes, aside I cam still remember one gurkha who did duty outside St James' Palace, he was SO VERY PRETTY, and David Bredin ( Mjr. ret.) who I know was there at that time, and knows just what I mean ( thnak goodness someone does )

      I am actually a member of the Gurkha Welfare Trust, and for about the last 7 years or so I have sponsored an ex- gurkha and his family,it used to be 10 a month but with raging inflation in Nepal it is now realistic to give 20 a month, at least our boys, how ever horiffic their trauma , were paid a pesssion of sorts , where as the Nepalese got nowt - bad eh !

      Well Me Ducks, ( as they say round these parts ), spose I orta be orf ! - Do keep coming up with this remarkable info PLEASE!

      Keith Andrews - You remember you mentioned that your Dad was at Wampo, and as he was working on the viaduct, I assume it was the early days, and the story of the Japanese they had to carry. This could be something, or nothing, so here goes:

      Searching for info on my dad, and the Mergui Road, I have started to read a recommended book. The chap writing it was a Wampo, working under an evil Gunsuko called Ukemi. To cut a long story short, he made a POW climb a steep cliff side to attach a pulley to a tree on the top so they could put a rope through, and move sleepers. This the poor POW managed to do, and after the rest break, the "Oro men starto" call went up, and the Brits and the Dutch changed duties. The Brits became the
      pick and shovel brigade, the Dutch moved over to the pulley rope. About 3 in the afternoon the pulley rope twisted, and wedged fast in the pulley, and could not be shaken loose. Ukemi, true to form lost his temper, and decided a short sharp tug by the Dutch would solve the problem. It did solve one problem, but not the one it was intended to. The tug on the rope, the tree toppling over the edge of the cliff, the POWs diving for cover resulted in the death of Ukemi, who did not move fast enough.
      Four men were sent off to make a rough stretcher and carry him back to camp. No POWs were lost. The Wampo section had been scheduled to take 10 days, it was completed in 9.

      For what it is worth, but I read this and thought of you!
      I must get out more.

      Janet Jacobs - Keith , that is brilliant, it all seems to make sense doesn't it.

      Have you heard of the Jap callled the "Tiger", apparantly he was awfull, I believe he was with a batch that were sunk en-route to Japan or one of the Islands, I know he lost his sword in the sinking ( what shame that must have brought on his family !) as one of the chaps who was a POW from the next village was with that party and was picked up and survived.

      Keith Andrews - I am trying to help Alie Hart trace her late father's movements along the railway, and she sent me some stories. Does this one ring a bell with anyone:

      A delivery of live chickens arrived at the camp for the Japanese, and were killed as needed, as the guards would not eat food that had been dead for a long time. The POW twigged this, and thinking they were not observed, wrung a couple of the chickens necks, Alie's dad being one of the POWs. They were seen, and the guards lined them up, and beat them with the dead chickens until they had had enough fun. The guards then gave the POWs the carcasses for the their pot. We are looking for the name of the camp. I know it's a long shot.

      This story is taken from a book titled Prisoner on the Kwai, by Basil Peacock, a major in the 5th Searchlight Regiment RA, and leant to me by Jean Roberts. I have read it more than once, and this one always makes me smile:

      A friend of Peacock's was given the job of sharpening tools on a grindstone, and a careless elephant had knocked it over, breaking it. When Peacock came across his friend he had just been given a clout across the head by a Japanese lance-corporal, and came out the hut chuckling, when he should have been livid.

       When asked why, he replied "I shall be able to dine out on this for years. A field officer of the Indian Army clouted over the head by a Japanese lance-jack because his opposite number, an elephant, idling on parade, broke his grindstone"

      The camp in this case was Chunkai, and having just read David Smith's account of this camp, the fact the POW in the story could maintain a sense of humour speaks volumes.

      You really are a gem, answer one puzzle, up pops another. Tiger is a great beer you can buy in Singapore, and goes down well after a long flight to Singapore at the Newton Circus Hawker Centre, at the end of Scotts Road,with a meal of crispy chicken and fried rice. A big bottle that is. But you will not buy that answer will you. Tiger is placed at Tonchon by another party that I have exchanged messages with. He was the camp sargeant, not a nice chap to be polite, and is mentioned in the book "Dawn Came Up Like Thunder" by Leo Rawlings, republished in 1975 by Futura Publications. Order it through the library. Our old friend, Lt. Col. Dunlop in his book places him at Nakom Patom at the end of May 1945, and names him as Hirumatzsan. I will need to get hold of the Rawlings book again to cross check.

      In your message, you say the pow was picked up and survived, do you by any chance have any more details on that. Could be yet another clue! On a serious note, and this is one thing that I will have to do, sit down with pen and paper, read all the messages you have been sent, and note what you have found out. 

      The Tiger (not the beer) thing was pot luck, I have been reading a book and found detail that would help the couple I mentioned earlier and looked up their e-mail to me, and found the details, see what I mean.

      Janet Jacobs - Sadly keith I have no more details on Ted Cooper being picked up, he only died a few years ago and he like my Dad wittnessed the terrible treatment of the Tamil civilians, he was drowning cos his foot was somehow stuck in the life raft and he kept getting dragged under , when a big Ozzie junped in, released his foot and brought him up to the raft again, the ozzie was a really good swimmer THANKFULLY ! he lived in the next village to here and was such a lovely chap, a real gentlemaan.

      Thanks so much for all your help, How many books do you read a year do you reckon ?

      Keith, I forgot to say, thank you for the info on Tiger beer, must try it next time I am in Asia (ha ha ha ) as I've NEVER HEARD OF IT, ( fibbs - BIG TIME FIBBS), I'm actually one of the minority of beer drinking women ( hate most spirits and like wine sparingly !!

      Jean - When my Dad was stationed in Singapore there was a time when he and a few friends had access to the stores. They made the most of their time there by putting half pennies on the metal caps of the Tiger beer bottles and then using a bottle opener to lever them off. This way they did not mark the lids. They would then drink the contents, replace the caps and put the empty bottles back in the crate!

      I'm not sure if they were ever caught out. I now live in a garrison town and from what I see it doesn't seem as if squaddies have changed much. They still like to have fun.

      Janet - I laughed at your email, The way they opened ,the top of bottles, was just how my old chap described it, quite hilarious!!!

      There is also a story of similar origin, like when they had to carry many creats of wine along Wampo for the JAPS, I think you may find that some got contaninated by humans !!!!

      It sorta puts a whole new meaning on " Getting Pissed " doesn't it ? !!!

      Thank you Jean for all you have put towards this site, we are all gratefull.

      Nigel Peacock - What a pleasant surprise to see "Prisoner on the Kwai" mentioned here. Basil Peacock was my grandfather and spoke often about his time on the Kwai.



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