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

6 Free A U.S. Destroyer Rock Island off Manila. I AM free at last! You should know by now of my existence and the great moment I have so long dreamed of and longed— almost unbelievingly— for has come and gone— the moment when the coast oi Taiwan receded finally into the distance. I think I recognise the fall of darkness last night as my mental severance with the land of my incarcera­tion. Formosa (I stress the change of name here) was still with us when the sun rose and 1 did not see it recede and vanish. Formosa the beautiful was with us Taiwan the harsh nightmare island of death misery starvation crazy rule, petty irritations is gone forever thank God. ~Four weeks ago we were in Shirakawa Camp near Kagi halfway up the west half of Taiwan— exactly on the Tropic of Cancer. And four weeks ago things were pretty grim. Food was lower than it had ever Ixjen before. (Rice went from 68og. for full working ration in May, 1944 down to joog. in July 194.5. eked outwith about 2 x g. of sweet potatoes.) Vegetables were scarce our veg. stew "was made up of potato tops bam­boo shoots or kan-kong. We had had 110 meat for months outside workers were given one or two sweet potatoes in addition inside workers like me had one sweet potato a week on Wednesday the whole camp had about yoog. of sweet potatoes on Sunday so long as the Jap officer in charge of the farm was feeling well disposed towards us. Sometimes he would say the sick and those in hos­pital were not to share in it. The Japs were also being rather tire­some— insisting 011 things like saluting. Officers as well as men had to salute or bow to any Jap soldier who passed within sight. They used to try to catch us out by standing in the shadow or behind a tree ami then pounce outshout­ing“ Kura " kura and either slap us Far East t last !upon the spot or take us to the guard­room. The sick had a bad time of it, too they never liked the sick. We had heard a number of rumours from Jap guards who were friendly with our men outside on the works that things were going badly for Japan much bomb­ing. etc. the Allies had landed on Hok­kaido and Kyushu and even Honshu! Was it Really Over ?On Wednesday August 15th the officer— we called him Baggy Trousers— came in and sat with some of our officers, smiling passing round cigarettes (we’d had none since April). He promised us potatoes then said our rice ration would be increased that he had given orders for a pig to be killed for supper that day, that he would issue us with sugar and salt ration ami some pea-nuts !Next day he got us some cigarettes! Surely the war must be over we thought. What else could all this cherishing mean? Everyday that week we had some meat either a pig or a caribou (water buffalo) was killed for Onus. Satur­day August 18th (I think) Colonel Kil­ patrick (we called him K.P. he was Financial Adviser Hong Kong and was the only full Colonel still at Shirakawa, having been in hospital when the others left) told us tliat the war was over on August 15th and that in a few days we would be moved to Taihoku near Keerun. During the following days we began to takeover our own disciplinary control. We were lorried to Kagi station under somewhat more cheerful conditions than when we came! Kagi itself was bombed flat fearful destruction. Supplies by Air The day after we got to Taihoku where we went into a temporary hutted hos­pital. B.193 marked“ P.W. Supplies/ This photograph was taken during a visit to Camp No. 6, Taiwan in June 1944. On the left can be seen the Camp Interpreter talking to the In­ternational Red Cross Delegate M. Angst. THE STORT OF HOIV TAIWAN BY MAJOR !'.M. GKAZEBmOKE R.E.IN A LETTER TO CAMPS WERE LIBERATED TOLD HIS IFIFE overcame and dropped supplies by para­chute 011 our camp and the other two in the Taihoku area. Two days later they did so again. Some of the parachutes were coloured and we made flags Union Jack Stars and Stripes Dutch and Chinese. The supplies were marvellous and in­cluded rations clothing boots cigar­ettes. They were welcome. Four of these huge 'planes came each time and flew around for about an hour. The Japs continued to give us every­thing— plenty of rice cooking oil meat, f/uit (wed had none for a year) limitless sugar etc also clothing and soap. On August 26 three American officers suddenly arrived from China accom­panied by Mr. Wong ex-Mayor of Foochu and one of the finest type of Chinese as Chungking representative. They had been given the task of contact­ing us. wirelessing away for urgent medical supplies rations etc. (things moved too quickly for this to take effect). Within an hour of their arrival they had setup their portable radio transmitter and were soon in ,contact with the II.Q. Fukien. They also radioed away our names etc. We had already a radio of the Japs and listened into our first news bulletins and on September 3rd to the signing in Tokyo— reception was bad though. British Flags Flying On September 4th we had a unique ceremony outside our bungalow hospital which we now called H.Q. of Allied Representatives K.P. being Senior Representative. We put four Hag poles on the porch and paraded at 9 a.m. all lit men under Lt. Col. Scott. Then Col. Kilpatrick with his "chief "staff officer !.t« 1 Lyneham A.I.F. went to meet the Jap Chief Commandant of all P.o.W. camps and other officers and led them to the porch. The Jap Commandant made a sickly speech in which he said Japan and the Allies had signed a truce and we would be returning soon to our “loving families." lie said he felt sure some of us were unsatisfied with unpoliteness and bad treatment by Jap soldiers. We must understand he said that they were low grades and were lacking in culture and education. Also many of our guards were local Taiwanese and we could not expect much of them. He told us that Japan was an honest sincere and peace- loving nation and we must speak well of her when we get home. Col. Kilpatrick relieved the embarrass­ing situation with a short and dignified speech in which he overtook authority and Nip army stores etc. as Senior Allied Officer and assured the Japs they had nothing to worry about as our men would behave with restraint courtesy and dignity and without vindictiveness, and he expected all ranks of the Nip- jxmese Army to behave similarly. He and the Japs then came out of the porch and faced the flagpoles and on tin command ‘'officers salute “the flags were broken. Lovely thrilling sight to see our flags after all this time. After the ceremony the Japanese overhanded their rifles and ammunition to us. The Two Navies We were sitting at breakfast just before 7.0 on September 6th when with a roar a number of carrier-borne Ameri­can fighters dived low over us again and A view showing the beautiful countryside of Formosa —contrast­ing strangely with the nightmare existence of its P.o.W. camps. again. As soon as we could we got up the flags— Dutch American British, Chinese— and the planes dived downright on them— wonderful thrilling sight. One plane dropped a message which was a letter signed by the Admiral of an American Task Force addressed to the Nip commander of the Taihoku- Keerun area and saying that two U.S. destroyers were arriving at Keerun at once and two British cruisers and one destroyer the next day. We were all excitement! 1 managed to gel into the: party that motored quickly down to Keerun to meet the U.S. destroyers. At Keerun we saw people outside lifting binoculars to their eyes and looking towards the rah b our entrance .It soon became too much for us a 1 1 wed ,walked out on our Japanese "hosts "to seethe destroyers in.come As the destroyers sailed slowly past Stars and Stripes gaily flying we saluted. Then we bundled into cars and drove round to the quay alongside the railway station where the destroyers were to tie up. It was good to see a crowd of robustly fit men again. We faced a battery of American cameras from the deck. When they got the gangway down an armed Marine Piquet with knives and tommy guns came ashore and took up j>osition on the quay and on each side of us. We went aboard leaving the Japs on the quay and in the wardroom met Lt. Cpl. Cooley IT.S. Marine Corps who sat us down and wasted no time in idle talk but Said he's had instructions to evacuate P.o.W. from Taiwan as quickly as possible and to fly in urgent medical and food supplies. Red Cross Parcels We told him that we'd hail Red Cross food parcels dropped by parachute and were fairly well ked x l after though a number of medical supplies were needed such as human plasma. He sent a dispatch right away for medical sup­plies and some "1\ "rations and air­craft were already delivering the stuff on Taihoku airdrome before I got back to Keerun. Col. Cooley said he would take 300 P.o.W. aboard right away and take them out to an aircraft carrier. This would enable them to reach Keerun about j.jo or 5.0 and the destroyers could beat sea before dusk. It was decided that No. 1 camp two miles or so north of Taihoku at a place called Mariana would bethe lucky ones to start the ball rolling. I ingot touch with them about 1.15 p.m. and of course found the Japs had passed no messages. It was pretty short notice, but they were ready all right! Civilisation Again At midnight we had steak and fried potatoes— first really civilised dish we'd had so far. The next was a few hours Duck and geese raising at Taiwan Prisoner of War Camp No. 3. later. Reveille was 6.0 a.m. (I got to bed after 2.30 a.m. after helping get out the numbers of the 50 or (*patients too sick to move and 4001 so medical staff and orderlies staying behind with them). Everyone got up at 5.30 a.m. though, coffee was already served. At breakfast we had FRIED EGGS AND BACON— civilised dish or English dish par excel­lence! At 9.30 we paraded to'entrain and were soon on our way to Keerun. Keerun was very heavily bombed and in a shocking condition. Practically no clearing up had been done and it looked alike city of the dead. The Chinese, or rather Formosans were flocking back again. After several delays we got aboard three destroyers and as we were embarking the White Ensign was seen for the first time in four years as two British cruisers sailed in unfortunately too late to pick us up— the Yanks beat them to it! However in view of all the U.S.A. have done for us mainly British as we are. I am glad they had the satis­faction and kudos for rescuing Onus. aBoard Destroyer On board the destroyer they gave us officers our first really civilised meal— plates knife and fork white tablecloth and napkin and a delicious meal which was upended with ice-cream. They gave 11s our napkins as souvenirs. The destroyer took us out (two hours) to the aircraft carriers to which we were transferred by small launch. We w r ere the last load aboard the Rock Island about it.o p.m. It was a big thrill climbing the gangplank and suddenly stepping into a brilliantly lit place con­siderably larger than the Foresters Hall at Alton and brilliant with white bedsheets, and mattresses packed tight— there were about 700 of us to accommodate. The American officers and crew arc amongst the most delightful Americans 1 have met. I have thoroughly enjoyed my stay aboard this colossal "hotel," and they have gone out of their way to see we have all we want including new clothing. November 1945 November 1945 Far East
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