Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

VJ Day

Collapse
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • VJ Day

    Time to remember those who were still fighting as the VE Day celebrations were underway.



    My dad rarely spoke about his wartime experiences. And even when he did, it was usually some funny anecdote about what he and his mates had got up to.

    He joined the Royal Navy in 1943, aged 17, although his service record shows him as having been 18 at the time, and he served in the North Atlantic, the Med and the Far East.

    The only anecdote about his experiences of conflict I ever heard was from my mum, who told me that when he first came home he used to have nightmares about burning bodies floating in the sea covered in oil.

    A year or so before he died, I was going through some of his old photos and found one of him dressed as Jack Tar standing ‘arms akimbo’ proudly displaying his one tattoo - a pair of swallows carrying a ribbon with his and my mum’s name on it.

    When I turned it over I saw an inscription:

    To Bettie
    Love Eddie
    Singapore 1947

    I showed it to him and asked, sarkily, ‘1947? Didn’t they tell you the war was over?’

    And he responded by telling me a story.

    Apparently, at the end of the war a number of Japanese warships were taken to Singapore harbour to be destroyed. The Japanese crews remained on board but they had been disarmed and were effectively prisoners of war. The plan was for the British to scuttle the ships, presumably after the Japanese crews had been relocated. One of my dad’s jobs was to inspect the ships to ensure the seacocks were working so that when the order came they could be opened and the ships could be sent to their watery graves.

    He described being taken by launch to a particular ship and climbing the ladder, clipboard in hand, to the deck. When he reached it he saw that the ship’s crew, a couple of hundred men, had been lined up to greet him. (I’m not sure if he was alone, but that was the impression I got.)

    A Japanese officer stepped forward, bowed, and gestured him towards where he had to go. As he was walking past the assembled crew, one of them shouted something at him. He said that although he didn’t speak a word of Japanese, he was pretty sure it wasn’t a friendly greeting. The Japanese officer stopped in his tracks, walked over to the sailor who had shouted and punched him in the stomach. The sailor doubled up and sank to the deck. His mates remained rigidly at attention.

    Off went dad, down into the bowels of the ship to check what he needed to check, and when he returned past the assembled crew the shouty man seemed to have disappeared. He said he was never so glad to see the navy launch return to pick him up as on that occasion.

    Now, if I’d had an experience like that when I was 18/19, I’d have told it pretty much every time I had a few beers in me. But if I hadn’t asked my sarky question, I would probably never have heard that particular story. What else did I miss?

  • #2
    My dad, although a lowly lance bombardier was seconded to the US Army a few weeks before VJ day. What happened was that the Americans had landed a large number of Sherman tanks with their transporters at Calcutta (now Kolkata). They then found that they had insufficient drivers to move them up country to the front in Burma. So they asked their allies for help. My dad was a driver/mechanic and he was waiting to be returned to his unit after treatment in hospital for a wound. My dad volunteered when he was told he would be paid US army rates of pay, at least 3 times the British pay. An added bonus as he was also a mechanic he got at least the pay as the equivalent in the US army which was at least a sergeants rate of pay. They were only half way to the front line when the Japanese surrendered. My dad was a bit miffed that the extra pay also stopped.

    Comment


    • #3
      The battle of Kohima is little known today, but in 2013 it was voted ‘Britain’s Greatest Battle’. By rights it should have been ‘Britain’s, India’s and Nepal’s Greatest Battle’.

      https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=FsEYg8F4q08

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Gary Barnett View Post
        The battle of Kohima is little known today, but in 2013 it was voted ‘Britain’s Greatest Battle’. By rights it should have been ‘Britain’s, India’s and Nepal’s Greatest Battle’.

        https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=FsEYg8F4q08
        My dad was just up the road at Imphal. They were surrounded by the Japanese but kept the airstrip open. My dad told me that it was like the WW1 trenches. The Japanese just threw themselves at the barbed wire and after the fighting the barbed wire was festooned with corpses.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Phillip Walton View Post
          My dad was just up the road at Imphal. They were surrounded by the Japanese but kept the airstrip open. My dad told me that it was like the WW1 trenches. The Japanese just threw themselves at the barbed wire and after the fighting the barbed wire was festooned with corpses.
          Yes, Imphal was the same deal as Kohima as I understand it.

          Kudos to your old man.👍🏻

          Comment

          Working...
          X