Far East, No. 9, Vol. 1, August 1945

A ugust, 1945 Far East AWOl t I I TORE LAT IVES By COLONEL P.K. MACKENZIE, R.A.M.C., who was Senior British Medical Officer of the P.o.W. in Rangoon Gaol AFTER over three years as a prisoner of war of the Japanese in Moulmein and Rangoon Gaols, I have returned to this country to find an almost unquenchable thirst for news of what is happening in P.o.W. and civilian internment camps in the East. As well as the innumerable questions there are criticisms of the Government, the Red Cross and of other interested authorities for lack of news, and other deficiencies. 1 have learnt since my return of the increasing efforts that have been made by the people at home, both here and in Ami'rica, to get supplies and messages to the camps, and there is no doubt in my mind that everything humanly possible is being tried by the authorities and the Red Cross Societies. Unfortunately, we are up against a nation th^j has no human feelings towards prisoners of war and has never acted upon the standards of treatment laid down in the Geneva Convention. We, who were in captivity, did realise that in all proba­bility everything possible was being done for our welfare by the folks at home and the authorities. That we were cutoff from the outside world, insufficiently fed, deprived of news,letters, and the ordinary amenities of life was, we well knew, not their fault, but the fault of our captors. In our daily contacts with the Japanese, we began to under­stand the curious complexities of their nature, so difficult to assess and judge from the Western standpoint. I have been amazed as I have travelled round this country, speaking of my experiences, at the wonderful courage of relatives. And they in turn have marvelled at my healthy appearance. For in spite of starvation, the almost complete absence of medical supplies, the long bare­foot marches th^J preceded our liberation, and all our other sufferings, effective medical treatment, rest and good food have worked wonders, and gone along way towards curing in a few short weeks the efTects of the treatment meted out to us for over three years. It maybe of help to the relatives of men in Japanese hands to know this. I was actually a prisoner for 1,163 days and till my return to London on June 7th, 1945, my wife received no com­munication whatever, from me, from the date of my capture on February 22nd, 1942. Conditions are very different now, and I would counsel relatives to “grin and bear it ”with patience, a little longer, in the knowledge that every possible avenue of approach is being explored daily by the authorities at home.S k etc hes from Siam Camps These sketches, giving a vivid picture of life at No. 2 Base Camp, Chung-Kai, Siam, were drawn by a prisoner of war therein April, 1943, brought back to this country by a sergeant P.o.W. who was liberated when Manila fell. Top Left: P.o.W.s resting inside one of the bamboo and attap huts. Above: Queueing for the evening meal of rice, sometimes stew, and tea. Left: Exterior of huts 2,3 and 4.\
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