Far East, Companion Journal to The Prisoner of War, Vol. I, No. II, November 1945

Nov ember 1945 Far East 5 Liver pool UVeieome LIVERPOOL has demonstrated its welcome to each re­patriation ship in turn. As every ship has docked so far the sirens of aU the craft in the river have hooted at full And crowds on (Above) Lining up to check in at the Transit Camp. Left) Their first meal in this country. rapks lJholos by courtesy of K c m s U y Newspaper: M anehester. blast— a weird and awe-inspiring sound, the quay and at the dock gates have given fresh and rousing cheers on each occasion. But never has there been a welcome to equal that given by Merseyside to the s.s. Monowat the first of the 16 repatria­tion ships to dock in the nprth. As the sound of the sirens died down their echo was taken up by rousing cheers of the *In turn these were answered from the quay and the white of waving hand­kerchiefs mingled with the colourful Union Jack fiags of the children. The band of the South Lancashire Regiment struck up lively tunes and cheers from lihaki-clad Servicemen on three decks, with a sprinkling of pale blue and navy blue rose to a crcsccndo as the ship drew closer to the quay— and home. On a high platform waving greetings, were the Mayor and Mayoress of Liver-pool Lord and Lady Sefton the other Mayors of Merseyside wearing their heavy gold chains of office and Scrvice chiefs. Red Cross St.and John War Organisation was represented by Mrs. Beckwith-Smith widow of Major-General Beckwith-Smith who died in a Japanese prison camp after commanding the famous 18th Division at Singapore. Another representative of the War Organisation well known to hundreds of relatives whom he has addressed allover the country giving news of prisoners of war was Mr. Sidney G. ToKing. him this happy moment must have been par­ticularly inspiring symbolic as it was of the culmination of hopes expressed to him by anxious wives and mothers day by day for three years past. Lt. ColonelS. J. Cole represented the Colonial Office to look after the 200 civilian repatriates. QUAYSIDE CHEERS When at last the moment came for the men to step ashore they came down the ship's gangway one by one quietly as though this great moment was too much for them. Indeed the excitement was almost unbearable as the few relatives who had somehow managed to get on the quay rushed forward to embrace them. Each man received an individual cheer ashe stepped from the gangway, and even the policemen stepped forward to grasp their hands and murmur a word of welcome. In the refuge of the bag­gage room faces could be buried in a cup of steaming Red Cross tea. After the overwhelming thrill of the first hour it must have been almost a relief to be driven away in lorries to reception camps 011 the outskirts of Liverpool. At Maghull where there were two camps the route and entrance to the camp was decorated with flags and bunting. Once inside the recreation room of the camp was gay with flowers provided by local people and books and periodicals were liberally supplied. There was however little time to re­lax at the reception camp— but who wanted to with the real homecoming so imminent ?The Army authorities on this occasion —as with each subsequent repatriation —did everything in their power and with the utmost conceivable ellicicncy to “hustle' the formalities and get the men home with their families. THE LAST LAP Men from the Monowai were arriving at No. 78 Transit camp Maghull from 3 p.m. onwards. Most of them had left, all formalities completed by 8 o'clock the following morning. Into those seventeen hours which separated the men from the last lap of their journey were crammed multitudinous routine matters bringing the ex-prisoners back into Army routine, if only for a few short hours. The first concern of the repatriates immediately on arrival at the reception camp is to complete the free telegram forms which are sent to next of kin an­nouncing their arrival. Addresses on even' telegram are checked by the Camp Welfare Officer to make sure that they tally with the latest 011 the War Office or Red Cross records. Difficulties of tracing relatives or finding accommodation are also dealt with helpfully by the Welfare Officer. The completion of rather along and formidable form follows in order tc record regimental details essential for Army records and that most imj>ortant point— pay.back Most men have con­siderable sums of money due to them. This is placed to their credit but on arrival at the reception camp an imme­diate advance of io is given to officers and 5 to men. Before being sent on leave a iurther amount can be drawn, graduated according to rank. Any Japanese .currency or camp money is ex­changed by the authorities at the rate of is. 3d. for 8 yen up to a limit of £2. An R.A.P.C. officer and stafi are avail­able so that any pay or allowance diffi­culties can be freely discussed. Each man is X-rayed and medically examined at the transit camp. After these serious matters repatriates turn to the lighter side of reception camp business. They are issued with a N.A.A.F.I. card Red Cross card hand­kerchief chits and beer voucher. The N.A.A.F.I. form entitles each holder to six weeks ration of cigarettes or tobacco at privileged prices and chocolate and Continued on page 12)
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