Prisoner of War of the Japanese 1942-1945
Taken Prisoner at Singapore 15 February 1942
Released 13 September 1945, Niihama, Japan.
Discharged AIF 30 January 1946
The following recollections Frank recorded at Niihama on Japanese signal paper which had acquired. He then completed the details while living in Bunbury with one of his three sisters. Frank had returned home to learn his mother had been murdered in 1943.
NB. Spelling has been left as written by Frank and edited by family member.
Frank McGlinn WX8478 was born in Northam 29 August 1909 (his parents were then living at Goomalling). After completing basic schooling in Perth, in his late teens he moved to Nungarin and worked on a farm for some years. Eventually he obtained and cleared some land of his own in the same district. He worked and improved his property until war was declared and Frank enlisted 18 October 1940.
He trained in Northam camp and was posted to 2/4th Machine Gun Battalion, AIF. In July 1941 the unit moved to Woodside in South Australia for further training and to Darwin in October 1941, where the battalion occupied beach positions.
The unit arrived in Singapore 24 January 1942 where they moved to take up positions at North West sector of the island (a very difficult area to defend).
In the eight days of defensive action the Battalion suffered 310 battle Casualties out of 850 men
A few days before the capitulation Frank was shot in the heel of one foot and was hospitalised, after treatment he was released and sent to Changi.
Following capitulation of Allies to Japan on 15 February 1942, the unit was broken up into small work parties for the remainder of war.
Notes: Anything in Italics is not in the original diary or is a guess on my part. BC
Frank used “Dinner time” for the Midday meal and “Tea time” for the evening meals.
15 August 1945 – Niihama, Japan
On rising at 5 o’clock went up and fixed the table for dishing out breakfast after “Tenko” (or roll call) at 5.30. Breakfast was under a pint (0.57 L’s) of rice with a Bringal (or egg fruit soup). We had to leave for work at 6.30, and it is a good half an hours walk to the copper factory where I work. In Nip we are the “Dai Echee Den Den” party.
On arriving at work I ate the rest of my dinner rice which was about 1 pint of rice which the cooks put in our dinner boxes during the night, this rice has a lot of beans in it. This left 1/3 of a pint of egg fruit soup for dinner.
On going round to start work there were no Nips there at 7.30 and at about 8 o’clock six strolled in as though they did not like work. There were no students at work that day. These students are lads of anything between 14 and 20 years, ours are generally about 16 to 17. They are actually conscripted youth labor and have “YCS” or “YMS” on their caps in English. This means Yatahama Commercial or Middle school, and there are about 25 of these lads that work in “Tamaboon” which is what our department is named. They are always trying to stand over us although without much success. They are nearly as strong as we are though, in our present condition.
Work was very slow all morning and there were only three of us left out of a total of sixteen. The rest were on light work as the work in the copper factory is very hard. One of the three left was in the black market, the other had nearly died and had been put in the cookhouse and had been fattened up.
At dinner time I was carrying some maize flour round the dining room which I had cooked up for Ralph Hadfield WX7246 who was sick, when “Mickey Mouse”, the dirty little bash artist who with “King Kong” and “Silent” are the company guards who take us back and forth to work, caught me with it. I said I had got it from a student as a present and he let me keep it and let me go without a bashing. They are down on the black market and this is the first time I ever saw this guard miss a chance to do anyone over.
Today has been a contrast to the previous days because since 6 o’clock there have been no air raid alarms. Yesterday there were planes over all the time.
The news was read out to us at Dinner time. On starting work again at 12.15 things were still quiet and work slack. At 1.15 the “Boss” came in and went to talk to the three Nips and two of them did a bit of a jig and then shook hands and then their faces lengthened.
Les Smith to said to me that something big had happened. After a while the other Nips clustered round and I said to Les that by the look on their faces we should be shaking hands not working, as the war was over.
About 15 minutes later the boys in the other departments were told to leave their jobs and go to the dressing room. We were told to clean up but the guards ordered us around so we left that for the Nips to do. Rumours flew then. One was that the Nip Prime Minister had made a speech, then the Dutch (“No Hopers” to the last) said that the Nip Captain “Murakami” always made a speech every year, but most of us were of the idea that the war was over.
Before we went back to camp we were told that we would not be going back to work here anymore. We were back in camp by 3 o’clock, to find that all the other work parties were straggling in with similar ideas to us.
We have had our monthly weighing tonight and I have held my weight for the last month. My weight is now 53 kilos which is 8 stone 3 lbs. I have lost a kilo a month in Nippon but still, happy days are now in store for us and we will be putting it back on.
I had a poor night’s sleep last night as owing to no announcements, we were waiting for the nightly air raids to start at nine and continue through the night. Thank God they did not, but excitement, a warm night and plenty of fleas and lice kept us awake. I was also glad when they announced that there was no work, as evidence for the finish was mounting up.
The interpreter “H. Irea” when asked by the Dutch Captain (the “Silver Mare”) said that he could not say anything, but all of us were to rest the same as Sunday. The Nip doctor (the “Goonie”) said the war finished two days ago.
Bluey Phillips, after a long spell in hospital due to an accident, was due to go out to work today. The officers took rice off Reg Lucy which he had pinched from a Nip labor barracks close by. No one else is game to go out. I won a small tomato that was on issue, one to every eight men.
Some time ago we had had to buy a motor tricycle with a body on it, which are very popular for bringing in the rations but it was a dud. Our mechanic (and theirs) could not fix it. Rations are scarce anyhow. The price first asked for the tricycle was 7500 yen (which is about 465-00 pounds Frank’s estimate) to be paid by us and the camp Nips. But the price was finally brought down to 1500 yen (93 pounds about 18 weeks wages in Australia at the time) and this was paid. Today they returned the money.
It is good to think that we are no longer numbers, but are now names as well, the numbers I have had are; in Thailand 353, 444 and 8818, On the boat 78 of 57 party and in Japan 499 and 1669.
It made us want to know officially what was going on, when an air raid siren went off as usual at 6 o’clock, not that I doubt the finish of the war but there are a lot that do.
They took our POW pay book off us this morning. It was only a stiff paper folder with a description of us, the date that we got to Japan and any crimes, or payments that we had got for being good workers.
It is only a week since Cyril Dilley fell down some stairs in the blackout and got concussion and died 12 hours later. It was his birthday today and it is tragic to think that after three and a half years during which he had had a lot of sickness and misery that he should go out so simply.
The huts are long, with the Dutch and mess tables in one half and 240 of us AIF in the other half 630 men are in the two huts. There are 3 rows of sleeping places, one down the centre as well as down the sides and there are two layers one about seven feet high. There is straw matting laid down on the floor and we have a little straw pillow six inches high and one foot long.
The sides of the barracks are made of interlaced bamboo and an earth mixture plastered about three inches thick with pine on the outside. The roof is pine with tar matting or pine bark on it.
There are plenty of double windows which have pine shutters for the winter. The latrines and the pig sty are on the end of the hut. The electric lights are left on and only dimmed at night (or put out when there are air raids). Our summer issue of blankets is three and the winter issue was five. All together a fairly comfortable hut.
What has bucked us up was the announcement that there was going to be no more Jap “Tenko’s” or roll calls. And, that in future roll calls would be in our own lingo with no Japs in attendance. The rations are still light, three pints of rice and beans and a few other vegetables, and we think that now it is over we should get twice as much.
I attended a thanksgiving service (Ray Denny gave it).
The Dutch Captain asked us not to be so impatient about asking for food, he said that the population was very likely to do us damage etc, mostly boloney I thought. We also heard a few more details of the peace terms. The Emperors plea, the hara-kiri of “Obe” and some details of the “New Bomb” which I am thankful did not drop in this area.
The Nip guards are still inside but are closing their eyes. No saluting, no trouble about smoking anywhere, and you can walk around without your hat on.
I got my fountain pen back. We had had to hand over our valuables to our Officer, Lt Withercombe (not on unit roll) when we first came to Japan. Our badges were also given back but they were all mixed up so two men in seven got a set, I missed out.
The Dutch are digging up all sorts of things. Mess dixie’s, one dug up a tin of milk that he had had buried for 11 months and it was still okay. I dug up six packets of razor blades all rusty, some dug up tins of bully beef.
The work that I was on at the copper factory was not too good, as there was too much sulfuric acid, Bluestone, Tar and Kerosene around.
The refining process was, that they had big baths that were filled with Sulfuric acid and Bluestone with water running through them, in which they placed 22 plates of impure copper. Then they had 22 plates that were painted with kerosene and tarred around the edges. There was a weak electric current running through the tanks all the time. The copper used to leave the big plates and form a thin sheet on the back and front of the prepared plates and it was our job to strip (or chip) this sheet of copper from around the edges. Re-tar and re-kerro the plates. There were 36 of these baths and they had to be done every day.
Any cuts you got, formed a scab at the deepest point, then festered and owing to the acids did not heal easily. All together the job is not the best, as the acids dripping on your clothes eat them away, and we are nearly as naked as the day we are born. This “Lumitame” firm does not believe in re-clothing us, though they did give a few of us a pair of white cotton shorts a few days before the end.
It is rather bad for us, mentally, this lying around doing nothing as we are very impatient and are expecting our relieving troops to arrive at any time. Our minds and bellies are very set on it. To us we are very important still. Rather selfish I suppose!
They killed the sow which went 50 lbs dressed. She was not “in pig” as was believed. The “Lolly Lopper” went mad, he said that he had not given permission, that the war was not over yet and that while we were in the camp we had to obey his orders. The Nip Orderly Sergeant had given his permission and it all blew over.
We were taken for a swim in the ocean. It is only one chain (20 metres) to the side of the camp and we found some small rock oysters.
There has been a remarkable decrease in the Beri-Beri (Vitamin deficiency disease with pain, paralysis and swelling of the extremities) in the camp in the last six weeks there being only a few cases now. By God some of the men are thin, some being 5 stone lighter than when they first came to Japan. All the men would average about three stone under weight.
About two weeks before we stopped work, the Nips gave instructions that we were not to wear our leather boots because they would have to last the winter out. We had to wear clogs or bare feet. I went to work in clogs but half way home gave it up and carried them. “Mickey Mouse” made us nearly run because there was an air raid. He carried a big stick to help us along. Aub Bond, pulling two sick men in the cart could not keep up and was nearly made a case for the cart himself. We used to keep in step with boots but clogs are hopeless, and after the first day I wore rubber boots (of which I have three old pair). Because of the fact that I was off with Beri-Beri when they issued the new boots I only got a second hand pair.
Some of the Nip families are bringing their gear back from the mountains after the general evacuations of July and August.
The “Lopper” read us a speech (using the civil interpreter from the mine) which was evidently ready on the l5th, and said that hostilities had ceased but might be resumed. In the meantime we were to stop work and must spend our time in straightening our gear and regaining our health. He said that we were still on working rations and that he would try to get extra rations if we were good boys and obeyed his orders because he was still in charge of the camp.
I am using salt that came from the factory before work finished. It contains a lot of bluestone.
Every morning before they start work, the Nips always salute the boss, bow to the east and clap their hands.
The cooks have spread the pig over three meals and you could not taste it in any of them, so we were disappointed in today’s meals.
There have been a lot of Nip planes flying over, all going in the same direction. There are not to many good ones, mainly they are old. We think that they might be going to some air field ready to be handed over. Some have the red dot painted out.
We are actually losing weight lying around, evidently the reaction has set in. We heard that 2,000,000 allied troops are going to occupy the Jap Empire from the 25th, and that Prince Kanaye is back in a responsible job.
Things are looking up as our cooks, after a week of arguing with the Dutch cooks (who are in charge of the cookhouse) who had said that if anything was pinched, it could not be cooked in the cookhouse. Our boys pinched three bags of rice and some sugar. The sweets are wasted on the average chap as we are gluttons not “epicurean’s” now.
Had a swim and a few oysters.
In the RAP (Regimental Aid Post) rubbish box among some Red Cross packets I found, one bottle Atropine tablets, one bottle of Sulfur tablets and one bottle of Nip vitamin tablets. I handed the first two in and ate the last. Sheer carelessness to throw things like this away.
The 15th and 20th (Battalions) got enough energy to play a short game of soccer which the 20th won 2 -1
Reg Suez, Ron Metz and Basil Jones were sentenced to five days detention by our Officers and are doing it in the other hut. The first two were convicted of breaking out of camp and entering a Jap store, Jones was cited as accomplice, but I don’t think he had much to do with it. They got some salt and a few eggs but were caught by Dutch officers coming back in. There are three Dutchmen also in detention for taking rice from the cookhouse. The rations are not too bad at present with the extra rice the cooks took.
The Nips purchased a hundred odd cigarettes per game and dammed near provided the yen needed. They brought to light 1600 yen from Red Cross fund that nothing was known about and 1400 yen from canteen profits which, as we have hardly ever used the canteen is astounding. We had to pay 150 yen but this is being held in reserve.
On lst August most of the AIF units in this camp ran a sweep to see what day in August the war would finish. 31 of the 2/4th were in one (£1 in each) and each drew a day from a hat. If the war did not finish in August the sweep was to be carried on in September with another £l in. The day announced by the “West Australian” to be the winner. Nick Lambie (believed to be WX9528) drew the l5th, mine was the 26th.
The weather is the best since we have been in Nippon and this month has been just nice and warm. All we need is our floral cotton shorts, most of the boys are sleeping out at nights owing to the fleas.
We consider that it was lucky that we did not have to do another winter in Japan, as we were dreading it and wondering how many would live through it. We had an English potato pumpkin mash with our rice tonight. It was glorious. Excepting when we were coming to Yamane in the train, this is the first time that we have had English spuds.
They have given some of the worst cases of debility, a Plasma transfusion, which is American dried blood from the Red Cross.
We went to the hill store and got some new clothes. We got some outsize clothes, an English coat after the style of our tropical uniform and there were three kinds of pants, nip khaki, light brown or kit bag tan. I was stiff and got the kit bag tan. We also got a pair of Nip white cotton socks.
They made a nice drop of soup from the chicken fowls and five rabbits but unfortunately had no vegetables to go with it.
The Nip doctor told the Nips that tomorrow a Yank plane would come over and drop some food to us and half an hour later they started to put POW with white cloth on the ground and on the roof of the other hut.
Another rumour is that we will get two bottles of beer and lemonade tomorrow. If it is true it should be a good day. We got issued with a cake of soap about the size of a cake of “Velvet” which is the third issue in twelve months, but the other two were not as big.
Played Housy-Housy that Aubrey Collins and Horn WX9418 started, and won about 20 cigarettes
Four months to go to Xmas and we are hoping that we are old members of the RSL by then.
Lt Sanderson (not from 2/4th) said on parade that in case anything was dropped from the air that everyone was to stay away from it except 10 strong, reliable and honest men who were going to be detailed for it, and there was to be no scrounging.
Had a lucky draw with those kit bag tan trousers, had a few pairs of nip army trousers issued between them. Won the first pair and got a Nip coat as well. And, was allowed to keep the tan trousers.
While nothing was dropped from the air, a truck of beer came in and one bottle per man was issued. It is a light beer called “Asaki”.
Got 2/5 of a bottle of beer each which is the rest of it. I swapped the bottle I got yesterday for a notebook (a Japanese Signal Pad about 15 cm by 15 cm) and a bottle of ink.
A truckload of cider came in and after the beer, we are ready to believe that anything can happen. There was an issue of 12 tins of chicken oil, which is equal to five years supply, and eight bags of White Bait which is equal to one years supply in the cookhouse.
Had a big storm last night.
Got issued with a bottle of Mituza cider, the trading price of beer is 40 yen or cigarettes and cider is up to 15 cigarettes. It is a small bottle, and I bought one for 10 cigarettes. It is like a sweet Cream and Soda back home. Some say that it is not like cider at all. The meals are not too bad at present. We had a melon, cucumber “mesau sembol” for breakfast, fried whitebait for dinner and egg fruit stew for tea.
Spent the morning sewing and altering the new clothes to fit me. Rumours are quieter now than they have been after dinner.
The Nips ordered the two pigs to be killed. The Dutch Captain was against it, I think he wanted to keep them for their Queen’s birthday on the 3lst of August but the Nips were determined about it.
About half an hour after the pigs were killed, a big four engined plane appeared and we could see it was not a Nip plane. Naturally there were a lot of wise cracks, while it was circling, about the store dropping. We were all pleased to see one of our own planes on a peaceful job and did a lot of waving as it circled. Then another one appeared and we could see a big “T” painted on the tail. One of them came down to about 500 feet and headed straight for the camp.
We just had time to read POW supplies written on the wings, when they let the parachutes go six at a time. One dropped about 15 yards in the ocean, one dropped in the barrack wash room (missing the latrine trench by the thickness of a pine partition). One dropped on the cook house (this one was medical supplies and had a yellow parachute). The three parachutes dropped in 45 yards where there were 240 AIF men and never hit anyone. Another one went through the waiting room of the Nip guardhouse.
We had to go through the gate to get to the one in the water and we were bashing the gate down and a Nip was on the other side trying to get the bar out. We got out and I was one of the three who went in for a swim to get it out.
Everything was carted in, and put in a heap. There were two kero drums (welded together) to a parachute and they had a box or bags in the centre of the drums and loose tins around the sides. The pace that they hit the ground used to double up the sides of the drums and the waste was terrible. It damn near made us cry, to see fruit salads, meats, etc, flowing round in the mud. There was more food wasted there, than we had seen for three and a half years. They must have made about ten drops and it was done between 1330 to 1630.
They used to circle round once with the doors shut, signal something to us, then next time they would drop it. Evidently, we did not give them enough room. We were trying to catch them as they came down, because after the first drop, they dropped the rest of them outside the camp and we had a great time collecting them.
They went through Nip houses. One knocked a complete house down and killed a woman and two children. Some knocked down telegraph wires etc and burst a water main.
Some of the boys were on the scrounge, but most of them played the game. The parachutes were all cut up for souvenirs and I cannot see all of it getting home because some have got nearly a full chute. I saw where one drum hit the ground and a big cloud of cocoa went up in the air, and there was cocoa coloured water running over an acre of ground. Pamphlets describing the contents of the drop were dropped and I gave a packet of cigarettes to get one. We got two packets of cigarettes, a chocolate issue, a fruit salad and a cup of cocoa. It has been the best day of our life and anyone who could not say that he was happy or not moved in some way, should have died. I think even the crews of the planes get a big kick out of it, as they were hanging out and waving like mad.
Young Bob Whitfield WX10561 dropped one Javanese “Fred Scrum” who was doing a bit of scrounging. (translated we believe McGlinn is referring a POW from Dutch East Indies!)
They sound the air raid sirens as time signals at the works and the boys cannot resist the old saying “Bore it up them” or “Roll on the Yanks”
I am glad that I am a free man for the 36th year of my birth. The Dutch captain gave us all a speech in the morning, saying that we were free and that the gate would be open and we could go for a swim, but could not get away from the camp. Also, now it was now our turn, and not to forget to be hard on those who had been hard on us.
Lt Withercombe said that we would be in units in future, and Blue Philips would be a (Lt).
I read one of the papers that was dropped yesterday, the “Honolulu Times” of the l5th, in which it described the news of the capitulation and terms of it. The paper had “Hirohita’s” speech in it, permitting the surrender of his people, and saying the surrender was caused by the Atomic Bomb, which had destroyed 31% of Nagasaki the llth biggest city in Japan and 60% of Hiroshima the 7th biggest. And had caused 150,000 casualties and demolished 4.1 square miles.
The paper said that the Nips had 150,000 Americans, 64,000 English, Australian and Canadians, and 24,000 Dutch and described the bad condition of them. How they had had to live on 500 calories per day. It showed some photo’s starting with a photo of Pearl Harbour saying “It started here” and showed some of the places that had been fought over, and then it showed the fires of Nagasaki and saying “It finished like this”.
The guards have left the camp. Two Spanish priests came in, they have been here for six years and have not been allowed to go out anywhere. They held a service and seemed glad to see us.
Four fighters came over to see us and did a bit of roof shaving. They had a big “V” on one wing and certainly moved fast. They seemed to be able to turn on one wing tip. Later some twin fuselage planes (Lockheed Lightning’s?) came over to say “hello”.
On the mud flat outside the camp they put a white spot with an arrow and the word “Here”. On top of the hut alongside the POW letters they put in large letters the word “Thanks”. Then a yellow parachute and in the middle of it the Union Jack and the Dutch flag and it looked bloody good.
A couple of days later they sent a telegram to say the red cross was asking for war news and saying that they wanted definite news as the position was intolerable. Today they got word saying that we would be evacuated as soon as possible. In the meantime, to be patient and obey orders. We would be evacuated from Wakayama on the main land and would be sent with (the POW’s from) nine other camps from the Osaka area and some internees. They would try and get word to us as soon as possible.
We were issued with a complete issue of Yanks clothes that were dropped yesterday. We also had a carton of cigarettes issued, matches, chocolates, food, toilet gear, etc. and I was particular fortunate in the draw and have a good collection of gear.
It is the custom in this camp to give you an extra bowl of rice for your birthday. But, after eating all day I had no desire for rice and put it on the cooks for stew instead. I had the satisfaction getting a bowl of pork stew and tonight, for the first time in Japan had the pleasure of giving half a bowl of rice away.
Altogether a wonderful birthday, it only needs to be able to send or to receive word from home to complete it.
The Spanish priest gave early morning mass at 6 o’clock. They came in clogs and went away in good boots, smoking Yank cigarettes and I think had food given to them which they deserved. Well, the US air drop got on the job early and two planes must have dropped about 60 parachutes. Today they had tinned and other stuff in cardboard boxes, five to the chute and well wired together. They mostly fell on the mud flat, and there was only a box or two that burst and very little was wasted.
The Aussies are keen hunters and some of the Dutch lag a bit, though a few do their bit, but at present the Dutch appear to be trying, and doing, the running of everything in the camp to suit themselves. It looked as though a riot was going to develop when they tried to take the parachutes off us and they got called some very nasty names.
It is quite nice watching the parachutes come down. There was quite a good colour scheme, red, blue, yellow, and green. One packet went through the Nip office which is now in our hands.
The priests brought in some newspapers printed in English and we found that the occupation troops did not move in until the 28th so they did not waste any time looking us up.
We had a particular good day as far as food was concerned and we ate that much chocolate that we were sick of it, which has been a dream of ours since becoming a POW. For the first time in Nippon we could put the rice bucket on the table and say help yourself. This was another dream come true, and a small bucket of rice from 16 men was thrown out. Two of the boys went for a ramble and came back drunk. A cow was brought into camp to be killed. There were a lot of records played over the loud speaker, and a wireless set was brought into the camp but it does not work.
We learnt that 32,000 POW’s are to be sent to Manila as soon as possible.
The days are simply flying by at present, and we never seem to have time to do anything. There was food dropped over in the factory area.
One Dutch officer said to a Nip “I have been a prisoner for three and a half years” and laid him out cold. There have been a few punches given by our chaps to the Nips because they are looking to help themselves if they get a chance. A lot of chewing gum and a few cigarettes are being given to the kids.
It is the Dutch Queen’s birthday and they are issuing the Yank Breakfast and Dinner rations. These are in tins and well got up. They are slightly different, but contain sugar, biscuits, porridge, lollies and coffee, and are well packed. Supper has cheese in it.
There were two fighters over early and they dropped a couple of packets containing a carton of cigarettes, and wishing us the best, and a speedy evacuation. The pilot gave his name (a flight Lieutenant) and said he was off the aircraft carrier “Ticonderoga”.
There were quite a few cases of sickness from the chocolate etc. The hygiene man said “Good god it is not chocolate it is ”—–“. The Japanese papers (printed in English) were read out, and we are glad to think that we will soon be seeing plenty of papers again. It is said that we are going to be strict with these people.
We got a further issue of chocolate, chewing gum, cigarettes and various other things. We wish that the Yanks gave that chewing gum habit away as we all have about 50 packets of it. Slim Simpson got two days in detention for trading with the nips. We have now been issued with 28 packets of smokes. I hear that our names have been sent to the Red Cross for transmitting home on 1st September.
There is a report that the “Lolly Lopper” applied to the “Sumitome Company” for a job as clerk, but got knocked back. The way that Murakano got the name of “Lolly Lopper” was, when we first came to Japan he lined us all up and gave us a speech and finally pulled out his sword and said that it had cut off many of the heads of our comrades in the Philippines and Malaya, and if we were not good boys and did not work hard or tried to escape, it would also cut ours off.
They say that the “Loppers” face was worth looking at when he was asked for Nip newspapers. He said that they would not be of any use to us, and was then told that we had been reading them for nearly 2 years. They used to get the papers from picking them up at working parties but mainly they used to sneak them from the Nip office during the early hours of the morning, translate and return them.
There are two translators in camp. Voss Asn a Dutch Lieutenant is one. Voss learnt to translate by having the Nip students at work show him what their alphabet characters were in English and memorising them until he had a chance to write them out. Afterward, a German-to -Japanese book was found.
The rice is being badly cooked now that the heat is off. The cooks do not seem to be worrying.
The boys put up on our roof the words “Thanks Yanks”, “Aussies” and the roofs are now looking like a carnival day turnout.
One of the “Sumitome Compay’s” heads called today and promised us two cows, onions, potatoes, a piano, and a radio which came but did not work too well. He said that we would have plenty to eat while here. I believe that it was mentioned at the signing of peace that POW’s would be sent to a place of safety.
The officers sent some of the Nips guards on their way when they came on the scrounge. “Happy” (Oaka San) was given the most ragged pair of trousers that could be found and told to get out.
I have got a dose of Flu.
Wishing Alma (his youngest sister) a happy birthday today and I am glad that after six years, peace has come again. I suppose that of all the allied forces ours has been the most bitter experience but we will hope that we will forget a lot, and have good times to come.
Went for a two hour route march along the sea shore. We looked fairly smart in our new clothes, and we passed the “Lopper” near camp clad in underpants looking like a coolie and laughed at the changed places. The Dutch captain said to the guard house as we went passed “There will be no roll call today”. A Jap MP and a civil policeman went with us.
The Sumitome’s promises of yesterday came good.
They have got all the ashes of the men who have died in Japan in the guard hut and have two of our men standing at attention with them.
Well the grocer called again and dropped all his stores all over the countryside and we had hill climbs etc collecting the stores. I heard that the reason is that there have been POW’s killed by the drops in other camps. There was a nip women slightly hurt when a load of food dropped into the wrong cookhouse and went into the students cookhouse. There was more smashed up than last time.
On the heels of the grocers, there came about six fighters who did a bit of low flying. They also did a bit of parachute dropping, which turned out to contain some books, cigarettes, cigars, pocket knives, a few convalescent bags of comforts and odd and ends, which were raffled amongst us. The men of the 34th air squadron had had a tarpaulin muster for these, in a letter they apologised for not finishing the show before, and that they were sorry the stuff was not more, but hoped that now we would soon be back with our wives, friends and relations.
COPY OF LETTER DROPPED Sunday 2nd September
The men of our Group 34 decided to get together and give you a little something from us personally. It isn’t much but the best we could do on short notice. We hope that with this token will come early “State Side Duty” for all of you. We are only sorry that we could not get this damn mess over sooner.
So with best wishes, good luck and a speedy trip home to your wives, friends, and sweethearts and,
God bless you all.
We remain, V.T. & V.F.H. Grumman Avenger T.T G.F –1
The ashes of the men, Dutch and AIF in the guard hut have been decorated with flowers and wreaths from the “Niihama” Police Chief, the Niiihama Camp Captain and the Sumitome Besshi Mine Company Ltd.
Two Red Cross officials came into the camp today, one Swedish and one Swiss. Sweden is going to arrange the Dutch evacuation and the Swiss ours. It was pleasant to see a white man carrying a camera again, he took a couple of photos of the boys cutting up parachutes for souvenirs.
The Swiss man said that he did not know when we would be evacuated, but would let us know in a few days, and that our names had gone on from Tokyo. He said we were lucky to be here, as the big cities were flattened and the people hungry. He told us he was one of the first whites to visit Hiroshima and see the result of the atom bomb, and that it was terrible. He was glad (or seemed to be) that we had won the war but emphasized that we should let bygones be bygones.
A camp of 40 civilians have just been found on the mainland not too far from here. Women and men off a hospital ship captured near Java. They are supposed to be in poor condition. The Red Cross have not been notified about them at any time and we sent supplies from here to them.
Last night the Officers sprung a roll call on us at 8.30 pm and there were 29 Dutch OR’s and one Officer missing. Our men all came in when they heard the bugle. The Dutch chap in charge of the cookhouse was one of them, so he got the sack and Jack Prescott was put in charge of it. Certainly the cookhouse did better today.
I bandicooted a few sweet spuds, and got an egg for some cigarettes. Had a Yank ration No. 5 which is one days supply, and with what we get from the cookhouse, am as full tonight as I ever was as a kid at Xmas.
They took us down to the Niihama picture show and put on a picture for us. The picture was one of Nip family life and portrayed all the cringing, bowing and slapping that goes on with these blighters, a poor picture that seemed to have no finish. There were lewd drawings on the walls of the latrines.
The Nips are sending in bread to us and we get about 8 ozs (226 grams) each every 3rd day and does it taste good. I’ll say!
Still the issue of stuff goes on. Cigarettes, food, toilet gear, clothes, etc and if we leave here suddenly I can see a lot getting dumped. The big thing is, we wrote home today and Lt Withercombe, who is going to the mainland headquarters tomorrow, takes the letters with him. We would have liked to receive word from home first, to know that they are OK and are at the same addresses.
We get one of the Yank’s cartons of foodstuffs “10 men for one day” every day now and with the extra stuff from the cookhouse it is making me grunt to keep up with the supply. Especially as I bought some small fresh fish and a Chinese apple for cigarettes.
The Nips are bringing their stuff from their evacuation residences. I suppose it is a convenient time at present while the Factories are not working. All through July and August they took all their furniture and valuables up into the hills, also the spare population went. Sometimes they took the furniture into the hills of a night and brought it back for use during the day.
Well, the grocer called again and dropped another three days supply of food. A good drop very little busted. They are getting about ? gallons of fresh milk from the Nips for the sick, and ice for the camp too. There were six of the twin fuselage fighters playing around and there is no doubt that they are beautiful, fast jobs.
We had to get out and do half an hours squad drill, as they say that we have now to forget all our Nip drill and straighten ourselves up for our return to civilisation. But, they put that much kid talk over, that it bored us even though we know that we need a bit of simple stuff before we get home.
We get an issue one quart bottle of Saki to 13 men, some reckoned it was like a 5th grade brandy.
The 2/4th played the 20th basketball and it was a draw. Two each and quite a fast game. We got amongst the issue of stuff five nip fans, so we are getting quite a bit of stuff together.
Well, it is the lst anniversary of our landing on Japan. The grocer called again this morning and we were saying “Go away we don’t want anything”, as we have got stores mounting up on us”. Each man has his own little box of extras, and food is around him all the time. Then this afternoon, blowed if they did not come again and we had another good drop, landing on the mud flat, with little damage. The rations are done up now in cartons of five different menus. They have cut out cigarettes, etc now and only send rations.
A Nip photographer came to the camp to take unit or group photos. In our unit only five got their pictures taken. I would not minded having a unit photo, but was not fussy about a group one.
Lt. Withercombe came back with news of Newtons party, four dead, not bad. 7,000 POW’s already shifted and a message to us that we were not to roam, but to stay where we were. He had also heard of atrocities that had been committed in other camps.
In our nightly stroll up the road, we now see the Nip as the beggar. He is like all the boongs, far worse than our chaps ever were. They are getting annoying with their “Give me chewing gum, give me cigarettes and chocolates”.
We heard that 3,000 POW’s have been shifted out by aeroplanes in the last two days. 11,000 being shifted to date, or 1/3rd of them. We hope that we are going by air as we have been that far behind the times that we would like a ride in a modern plane.
While on a march Bob Whitfield WX10561 stopped near his old job on the wharf and took his officer and showed him the places where the work party used to hide the stuff they pinched. This party ( No 4) had a fairly good job and got a bit of a scrounge in the shape of sweet spuds and maize flour.
They say that when the Nips who are cleaning the septic tanks out get splashed they lick their fingers it is that rich!!
Well, on the first anniversary on this island of Shikoku we went out in two’s and threes and wandered around where we liked. Ted Bunce (WX9278) and I went out for a ramble and walked right around the outskirts of Niihama. We walked alongside houses and were disgusted with the filth and squalor of them. Each house has its own private rubbish tip, close up to its back door. It is nothing to look in a house and see the mother holding a baby so it can pass its motions on the floor. The insides of the houses are generally tidy for the simple reason that there is very little inside them.
The Nip kids annoyed us by walking alongside us asking for chewing gum etc. They followed us for a long distance, and we were wishing that we were occupation troops, so we could send them on their way. The Nips have certainly changed a lot from their old overbearing style although they have always cringed to the top dog. Of course, I don’t like them.
We did see two or three restaurants and a couple of radio shops open, the rest had nothing in them and nothing to sell. There appeared to be a few Nip soldiers around as though they had just been sent home. Some of the boys got lifts home in cars and trucks. In one place on the way to work there are pictures of our King and Queen hanging on the wall.
The walk made the Beri-Beri come up in my legs a bit.
Bought a fishing line off a kid for ten cigarettes.
A couple of lads had shirts and pyjamas made out of parachutes.
The only complaint that came in, is that some men went to the bake house and asked for bread as they say that they are flat out supplying the extra for the camp and have none to spare.
Wishing Pearl (his younger sister) a happy birthday.
Some of the men went around to the next town and had a fair day. I had a quiet day and raided the garden for pumpkin and sweet spuds and bought some cockles. A few of the good dealers are coming in with chickens, spuds, eggs and onions and I even saw three crabs being cooked.
The cooks brought a couple of Nips into camp that had been treating them to booze and a good time, and to who they owed 100 yen. They gave them 50 yen and nearly had a fight with another chap who objected to Nips sitting on his bed.
The officers know the timetable for our trip from Japan but don’t know which day. The yarn goes that Major Newton put the Nip officer in charge of his camp in jail as soon as he heard the war was over.
Last night at about 11.30 we were woken up by a voice saying that we would be shifting on the l3th and that there were eight Yanks at the office. A little later, a couple of them came across for a yarn. One of them was a member of the Turkish Embassy and could speak Nip the other was a Yank with a nice little automatic rifle.
We have been waiting for three and a half years for a yarn with our relieving force and the Yank knew how to blow his bags. He made us grin by referring to how the Yanks and the British defeated the German invasion of Britain by burning oil on the water. Still, he was very obliging and answered a lot of silly questions for a long time, even though he was sleepy. He said this camp was a dead one as over on the mainland the boys had taken the Nip’s swords and rifles from them and belted a few of them.
We had to go through the Yanks hands and first fill out two identical forms. Then another one mainly about ourselves and next of kin. A message of ten words could be included which they say will be home in five days. Then we had to fill in a medical form and it was finished.
We leave tomorrow and are going to be evacuated by the navy, the first they have done.
There were two nurses and a photographer who took photos of the sick, thin and everything.
The boys went out in the afternoon for their parachute shirts, and sake. They are now good hitch hikers.
There were more drunks around than we have seen for a long time. They smashed the clock, some windows and played with the fire extinguishers. Then they got a Nip flag, burnt it and stood around and sang “God Save The King”.
I am now within lbs of the weight I was when I hit Japan. I have put on 15 1b (6.8 Kg) in four days.
Some of the POWs at Niihama 1945.
We rose at the usual time and when I had had breakfast I went over and packed for Strawb, (Aubrey Hosking WX10097) who only had his first walk without crutches a few days ago. He has been a cot case since early Feb, nearly going west. His legs got jammed between a truck and a wall and went septic. He had a temperature of over 100 degrees (37o C) for over 70 days. He and quite a few others will go on a hospital ship at Wakayama. The sick party went off by truck at 8 o’clock and we had to be ready to get out by 9. The amount of stuff being thrown away would have made our fortune in Thailand, and some of the Nips were given a lot of stuff.
The priests were on the spot again and had three hand carts filled high with goods.
At 9 o’clock we had to clean the place up and after this there was hardly a window left intact.
About 10.15 we started to walk to the station to catch the train from Niihama.
At the station most of the Nips who had been working with the boys were there, a couple with presents. Our chaps gave cigarettes, matches and chewing gum to everyone. The boys were in a very happy mood laughing, singing and poking dirt at the Nips.
At Niihama there were several of the mine heads “Harold Loyd” who always liked his (indecipherable) but this time he stood to attention.
We left Niihama at 12 o’clock in a train with a red cross coach for the sick. The seats in our carriage were nice and soft.
The country is looking very well at present, the rice is coming into ear, and it has a border of Soya beans round it. The sweet potatoes and (indecipherable) are looking well and there are fresh plots of radishes and spinach. The figs are just getting ripe and persimmons are a nice size.
The railway follows the coast and there is workable ground for about half a mile to the hills, which look well with a fleecy cloud about halfway up them.
In the matter of building un-cemented stonework the Nips would be hard to beat. The hills are terraced and ravines build up.
At “Zentuzie”? we saw some Yanks on a train and they were hooked up in front of us. They were from Guam and Wake Islands and had been camped here. There were Electric coaches.
The kids like a good scramble for the chewing gum.
We went on to Takamatsu getting there at 4.15 and going on to a ferry for the mainland. The Yank sick & us on one, and the Dutch on the other. They are very good ferry’s and we saw some big paddle type transport ferry’s with railway engines and three trucks of coal on them.
We landed at Uno and on the railway station found 200 Poms some of whom had been in Thailand and they were now attached to the party. As we left Uno one of the Yanks fired 2 shots at a Nip for something and there were several doing a hundred yards sprint.
The train we had got into was quite a good one, with padded seats. We had to carry three meals from the camp in the shape of Yank rations. At one place we stopped a kid had some grapes for sale, and we dived on them. I took two bunches for a packet of chewing gum. Some just took them.
The way they cram their people into trains make us feel we have plenty of room.
I would have liked to have seen Kobe, but it was dark when we went through there.
After a fairly sleepless night we came to Osaka just at daybreak and there were a network of rails going everywhere with electric trains in plenty. We saw plenty of crowded areas. We also saw where the bombs had destroyed areas as big as a suburb in Perth with only the stone buildings and chimneys standing. We thanked God that Aussie had never known anything like this. It has a big factory area spread over miles.
We passed through some patches of grape trees (?) and saw several glass hot houses.
The country has a lot of trains, and they have subways under the main one (line). We have passed quite a few rivers and their bridges are fairly well built.
We arrived at Wakayama at l0 am. At Wakayama there was what I consider the biggest half of the town, equal to Perth and suburbs, completely burnt out with only a few stone buildings left and only the shells of them. An English band was at the station and it struck up with the tune of ”Happy Days Are Here Again”. Cameras clicked and we were rushed over to a electric train and were taken about three miles to the port.
About 80 of us Aussies went first and we were taken a little way round in a landing barge into what was once a big rest hotel. There we had a number painted on us. Mine was 33 and then we were told to put our personal gear in one bag and clothes in another, and with the rest of our gear had to hand them all in to get disinfected. Then we had a lifebuoy shower, and were sprayed with disinfectant.
Then we had to go through a ring of doctors, who took particulars from us and tested our teeth, ears, eyes, heart, blood pressure, Beri-Beri, etc. Two of them were at you at a time. One of the would be looking at your ears and the other would be testing your legs for Beri-Beri.
After that, we were given a suit of blue Yank sailors clothes and given dinner and a packet of cigarettes from the Red Cross. Then we had to fill in two forms similar to the Niihama ones. Then we had to fill in a form of atrocities we had personally seen. While we could write a book on them, they only gave us three lines to write on and we could not express ourselves. Still, we put in a couple of the worst men. After this we had to collect our gear and go back to the landing barge and be taken out to the mother ship of the landing barges.
The USS Cabilde (LSD l6) can carry 35 landing barges beside her own three and can be used as a dry dock for small ships. It has one 5.5 gun, twin 20 mm’s, four Bofors and a cruising speed of 15 knots. We had a good tea on board, soup, meat and vegetables (including beetroot) and pie with ice cream. Bread and jam were available. All this was given to us on a tray with five holders in it. We also had Lime juice to drink.
There were about 22 warships in the harbour without counting and about 50 mine sweepers. There was one Aussie boat the “Canberra”. Some of the boys spoke to a couple of the Officers from it yesterday.
Well, at 10 o’clock we did what we have been longing to do, sailed from Japan and we were very glad to see the back of it.
As we were moving out the “New Jersey” came in. It is the flagship of the 5th fleet, a 45,000 ton effort with 9 x 16 inch guns. She sits very low in the water and our crew all stood to attention as she passed. Her band was playing, and she had an aircraft carrier and cruiser with her. Later on, we passed 12 more warships.
The meals are very good with real American coffee instead of tea.
The sea is getting rougher as we go along and the boat seems to roll easily. We saw our first picture last night, Deanna Durbin was in it and she looked a lot older to us. We see “The Adventures of Mark Twain” to night.
We are going to Okinawa and expect to be there in two days or less.
The storm has got worse. They gave us turkey for dinner but I fed the fishes with it, and had no tea. They say we are going out to sea to go around the storm so it is a fair size one.
There is a crew of 350 men and the Yanks are treating us to everything and are very fond of hearing of our treatment by the Nips, and we are doing our best to satisfy them.
The only other ship sailing with us is the hospital ship “Sanctuary”. She has the sick and the rest of our boys on her. She does not appear to be rolling half as much as us.
At 4.30 this morning they came and told us that anyone who had gear down in the well (hold?) had to shift it as the waves were coming aboard. Some of the crew are seasick and at Dinner and Tea time we only had sandwiches owing to the fact that it was too rough to do any cooking. They say we are going round the storm, but we think we are bobbing up and down on the same spot.
Spent the morning reading some Aussie papers that they got at Wakayama, from the Aussie reclamation party. I was glad to see that they made whoopee back home on hearing that the war was finished. There were even bits from the “Sunday Times”.
The sea has smoothed out a bit although the ship still tosses a lot.
You can buy a carton of 200 cigarettes for half a dollar American. Some of the boys have swapped souvenirs they were going to take home, for coins, caps, photos, etc.
Well we got to Okinawa at 9 o’clock this morning after going 500 miles out of our way and being two days late arriving. We passed one bay and there must have been at least three Battleships, three aircraft carriers (big ones) and anything up to 100 warships. There were a couple of ships that had been beached in the recent storm. We sailed past this bay and stopped in a bay which must have had 300 odd ships of all kinds. There were planes of all sizes flying round.
We signed a letter of appreciation to our captain and crew. The grub had been good throughout with pork chops and ice cream for Dinner.
We should have got off but did not.
An aircraft carrier with more of our boys on her pulled in this afternoon. There were a couple of autogiro’s (helicopters?) flying round. There was considerable traffic and it looked good at night with the lights on the ships and ashore. The Yanks are very proud of all the ships, planes, etc here. The ships of the victory type have no portholes and are all welded, no rivets.
It is quite a pretty place and I would not mind having a look on shore. The boat, the LSD l6, is only six months old.
After two good meals, in which the boys doubled up as usual (the last meal was turkey). Word was given out that we were to go to another ship. At a little after one o’clock we were taken in a landing barge to the new ship, PA 225. We found the rest of our party already there, except Strawb Dyson & Bill Nottle, (Wilfred Harold Nottle WX9181) who had been taken ashore. A little later the landing barge brought more men from the aircraft carrier (which had brought them from Nagasaki) making a total of 1,900 odd passengers and 500 crew. We were rather crowded but were pleased to see some of the boys who had come with us from Thailand. Some others had come late from Non Pladuk and some of those had been with the Burma force.
There were 24 more 2/4th making a total of 64 on board. Two or three had gone to Nagasaki and got a lifted out by aero plane.
One death by accident was reported, and 45 out of 49 of our chaps went missing when a convoy of 23 ships was attacked off the China coast on Sept 1944 and 21 of them were sunk by allied submarines. There were 550 English and 60 AIF survivors out of a total of 2,000. The survivors were in the water 36 to 55 hours before being picked up. The nips panicked every where. The survivors were attacked again before reaching Japan.
There were a lot of Nip swords, revolvers, wristlet watches, etc amongst these lads.
We shifted along a couple of miles and stopped again. This ship is named the “Bingham” and is a troop carrier. We are in berths 5 high and it is poorly air conditioned. Also the cookhouse does not seem to have the capacity for handling this amount of men, and we only got two meals today. We have been issued with a meal ticket which is punched, so you cannot double up and one has to spend nearly all day in the meal queue. The men who were shipwrecked had only had chopsticks for nearly four months in Japan.
Jim Unsworth WX9385 had to kneel down for three days for pinching a radish from the Nip Q store and in one camp one Aussie had to kneel for 17 days and because it destroyed the circulation in his legs, killed him.
We get a packet of cigarettes issued to us.
A torpedo boat manoeuvred past us and she was certainly a good piece of work.
Told that Bert Fidge (Hurtle Stanley Fidge WX7663) had been left in Singapore (originally selected with ‘Rakuyo Maru’ Party and was left behind with serious eye complaint – the ship was torpedoed – most POWs lost their lives) and and might lose his eyesight. I believe that a few of the Yank officers have given good prices for swords, some giving up to 60 pounds and I heard of one going at 500 dollars.
A picture show to night.
Well, after a quiet day during which some stores came aboard, we sailed at about 5.30 pm, and we are hoping that we have seen the last of the Japanese group of islands.
There are supposed to be 8,000 ex POW’s waiting to get away ashore, these are men who flew here from Japan.
Only two meals again today.
The Yank sailors get around with a big knife on one hip, and hooked to their trousers or belt by a big spring hook, is their dog tags, keys, etc.
Heading for home at about 15 to 17 knots and are keeping away from the land. There are two ships and a corvette. The corvette goes first, and the others follow in its wake. We were issued with a lifebelt of the blowup type, looks like a horse collar. They put on three light meals.
There are plenty of books aboard and everyone who wants one has got one.
Had a quiet day, we are catching up a bit on the world by reading different magazines etc and have a few discussions on progress. The sea is reasonably smooth and the boat rides well, a couple of small bits of land seen, but mostly just sea and we are getting sick of that.
The boat has got plenty of landing barges as lifeboats and there is no doubts that they are a good idea. It has enough Ack Ack to give planes a headache and has radar installed. She is 10,000 tons and last December’s model, but we will be glad to get off it, as the tucker is not plentiful and the organisation is not the best.
We passed the fortress island of Corregidor at about 10 am, and it looks the same as before. We anchored in the bay at about 1 o’clock. The two big wireless masts have disappeared and also a big camp where the sea plane base used to be.
There are over 200 ocean going ships in the harbour, and there are five or six fresh sunken ones since we were here before. From where we are the town looks about the same but the Yanks tell us that it is destroyed.
There was a British aircraft carrier “Indomitable” in here loading troops, but she went out this afternoon. There was also a large submarine going on a tour of the bay.
We moved into the harbour at about 1 o’clock, and the Yanks and Dutch disembarked first and I did not get off until about 4 o’clock. There was a Yank band playing most of the time.
Going into berth I counted 25 ships sunk in the harbour inside the breakwater. It looks like a grave yard for ships, and they say that they have dragged a lot out and blown them up. The wharf buildings have been demolished.
We were loaded 14 to a three ton truck and driven about 20 miles to the camp. All the concrete buildings have been gutted and only the outsides are left, pitted with bullets and shrapnel holes.
There were camps, stores etc all the way out to the camp, with the usual native café’s, shops, and liquor shops.
Every Yank seems to own a jeep.
There was a nigger working battalion and Philipino’s working fairly hard. The natives are most like Malays, they are certainly dressed better, and look better fed than when we went through here last year. The men are dressed in a lot of army clothes, and the women have new dresses.
We got a packet of cigarettes coming off the boat. At the camp we met some more of our boys there are 24 more 2/4th. We had Tea and 12 men were allotted to a big tent with a wooden floor, electric lights, stretchers, mosquito nets, blankets and sheets. They give us a daily issue of two packets of cigarettes, four cigars, l chocolate, l packet of biscuits and three 12 oz tins of beer.
Went to the pictures, they are on every night.
It seemed funny in the truck yesterday. The Yanks kept a close convoy, and they had good brakes. To us it seemed good driving but actually it was only because we had not been in cars or trucks since March 1943.
At first the Yanks appeared to us to be real big chaps, but as our boys got fatter they are looking more the same size.
There are Japs working in this camp. They have new clothes with the letters PW on them, and they have a armed guard over them. They eat and sleep on sheets like we do. It’s too good for them.
The meals are good but light, so we go through twice and then we are full. Bert Wall (Herbert John Wall WX12989) who is a survivor of the sinking (Rakuyo Maru) came in today and had jotted down the names of those who had gone down. We had a good day talking to the other men.
We went to a concert at night and there were three men and three women and the jokes were that tough that we blushed.
Well they started by giving us another rough medical examination, testing urine, teeth, height, weight, sight, a general exam, and two needles, T.A.B. and a vaccination for Cholera. These needles were given to us by Aussie nurses. We also had to put in a stool (specimen) and I believe that there has been the odd case of leprosy found.
After that, we were issued with clothes. They gave us as issue similar to when we first became soldiers, so we will have a lot to lug back. We did not get any “Australians” and they do not possess any of our colour patches although they do have most of their units.
Went to a concert which was put on by a Filipino band, five women and a half breed Chinese girl born in Aussie. They had been interned in Malaya and they had taught the child to sing, dance, play the piano and do acrobatics during that time and to do it well.
Saw a list of some of the men who were released in Thailand and there were a lot whose names were not mentioned.
My weight yesterday was l0 stone 11 lb (68 Kg), so I have got rid of most of the Beri-Beri and put on a lb a day for the last month. I have lost 3/4 of an inch (2 cm) in height since I joined up which is about the average, some have lost up to 2 1/4″ (5.7 cm).
We got our new pay book today and handed our old one in. I got paid 40 pesos which is worth £6.3.4d. I bought some biscuits and chocolates and now that we have some money the canteen is closing down.
The Yanks MP’s get round here with tin hats on and a good hefty wooden baton.
They called for occupation troops for Japan. The conditions are, that after two years service they get six months leave in Aussie but none now. I believe that they got a few. Not for me.
They interrogated us to see if we know anyone who is dead. They have a list and photos compiled in 1944 that they thought were still POW’s in Jap hands. Three of us spent the day checking the names on my list and typing them out. I was astonished to find that very few of the men that had been killed in action had been taken off, so evidently they knew nothing of them up to this time.
We got issued with the Pacific colours.
We finished the list of the dead and our interrogations, in which we had to state what camps we were in, what conditions were like in them, how we were treated, our methods of traveling between camps. Also whether we had seen any men do anything worthy of recognition and any brutal things we had seen done and by whom.
There have been about 700 men told to stand by for traveling home on an aircraft carrier, and another 500 for the aircraft carrier ‘Speaker’. There have been a few men detailed from each tent.
The Yanks wired down all the buildings as a typhoon was supposed to be coming, but only a torrential downpour got here.
We went into Manila and I think that every shop here sells photos of Manila and other souvenirs. I priced cameras and they ranged from 40 to 400 pesos (a peso is worth 3/-). The rot gut liquor is about five pesos and the better class of whiskey is about 25 pesos. There have been 37 deaths through rot gut whiskey.
Every second place is a cafe and dance hall combined and the charges are hot. Jazz music is played while eating and they have girls singing, doing shows, or for you to dance with. A spoonful of ice cream costs a peso, and to have a normal day here you have to be a millionaire. The prices of everything are too high, but considering the amount of troops, it seems a fairly orderly town. The Red Cross provide tea and scones.
The MP’s will pull up a truck for you to get a lift home, and the Yank drivers don’t mind stopping. It took us six different trucks to get home, and I had a good day.
The 700 men who went this morning have returned owing to the fact that the sea was to rough for loading them. A couple of us had a chat with one of the AIF nurses for a couple of hours at the canteen, a very nice woman.
At 2.30 pm four of us decided to go to Manila, and hitch hiked in. One truck took us all the way in. There were, of course, the wrecked places on the way in. The town has been badly knocked about. No electricity has been restored yet and the shops are lit by carbide or petrol lamps.
The boongs trading instincts are wide open, and they cater for souvenir hunters, the thirsty, dancing and dates etc.
There was a plane flying very low over the camp spraying with DDT. Ted and I went into Manila the MP’s on the gate would not let us out without a pass, so we went through the fence. We got a lift but then the driver took a turn and we went out in another direction about 12 miles. We passed Ordnance repair camps and the main hospital. There must have been a lot of sick or wounded because it was a big camp. We went past an aerodrome that must have had 200 wrecked Nip planes on it, they were scattered round in a fashion to suggest “nose dives” for some.
We got a lift back into Manila easily. Had a quiet time in town looking at souvenirs but they were all so cheap looking and the prices were too dear, so we did not buy anything except a few snaps and some of the Jap occupation money. I gave a peso for an Aussie pound, I saw a 10/- red Aussie note but did not buy it. Later I bought a bundle of notes in which there was a 1 pound and a 10 shilling note for a peso.
The mob who was supposed to go on the ‘Speaker’ did not go owing to it being too rough. Bob & Mick went by plane today.
About 1,200 AIF went on the aircraft carriers today. Ted Bunce (Edward William Henry Bunce WX9278) was a reserve and they came round to get him, but he understood them to say “wait in the tent”. He did and missed the boat, but will be on the next draft by air.
The rumour is that only air trips will now be available to Aussie. We went in to Manila on an organised picture show party, and it seemed almost like home, lounging back in decent seats.
The harbour looked beaut, like a carnival, with red and green lights on all the small boats.
A draft of Yanks just in from America came in and as soon as they got into camp, before they had a rest they had to put up a tent for themselves, dig drains, pick up butts and papers round our tents and pick up stones on the road. The Nip POW’s should have done these tasks.
I went on a organised party to Corregidor (island fortress in Manila harbour). Ten men from each Company were allowed to go. Ten put in to go but only four went, and we still had ten men’s rations for dinner. We had two loaves of bread, one tin meat, one big tin of tomato juice, one tin jam, ten apples, two tins of pears and two tins of plum pudding (which was beautiful).
The truck picked us up in camp and ran us to the wharf. We were loaded on to a nice big launch, about 20 of us, and we hardly filled one corner of it. On the 25 mile run out to Corregidor the engineer of our boat was on deck talking and the captain rang for reduced speed too late and we rammed a loading barge at full speed. There was a mob of Philippino’s on the barge and it knocked five into the water. One of them kept singing out “Help me, I cannot swim”. A couple of Yanks looked as though they were going to jump in and help him until I pointed out that he must be standing on the bottom then, as he was treading water as good as I could and he kept himself afloat for ten minutes. It only put some scratches on the boongs and a dent in each craft.
We were only allowed two hours on the island. After dinner I went through the big tunnel where General Wainwright and his men had held out. The tunnel was littered with stone, shells and machinery that had been blown up. There were no lights, so we could not go down the small tunnels that ran up to a quarter of a mile in all directions. At the place where General Wainwright surrendered there were the bones of about 12 Nips that had been dug up in the tunnel and still smelt. I also saw several Nip skeletons in the scrub on the island. All the guns were in the caves and the machine gun nests were well hidden. The barracks were only ruins. Nips were working at cleaning up the mess. It looked like Rottnest.
Other launches had brought many women across. These Yank women look on the hard side and do not pay as much attention to their appearance as they could. The Yanks on the staff here do not keep their personal appearance as well as our Aussie boys. The Yanks cuddle up to all sorts of native women and the truck drivers all seem to have some sort of female in front with them. Big black niggers go a courting too and it is nothing to see women and kids going into tents with these niggers.
These Yank drivers are good drivers but reckless. I have not been with one yet but that we have not narrowly missed an accident.
Lady Louis Mountbatten paid us a visit and made a speech telling us how glad she was to see us, and that her hubby was doing everything to get POW’s home in his command. For us to be patient as we would soon be home. She also said that she had seen Aussies in Singapore and Thailand and that she was going to make her second trip to Aussie when things quietened down.
A lot of men have gone by air, and the rest are now going by air. I am on the No. 6 draft so should go in a couple of days. Spent a quiet day reading, got four letters.
A few more went out of the tent. We are drawing 14 men’s rations for nine men and I got another ration card for 12 men from one of the staff, we give him half of our beer.
I have got approx 1,100 cigarettes and eight packets of tobacco. I have been selling my cigars because they are too bulky to carry.
One West Aussie on the staff here gave us a lot of “Mirrors”, “Kalgoorlie Miners”, and “Sunday Times”.
I am on the draft to go tomorrow.
The orderly room Sergeant came round and woke us up at 2.30 this morning and checked the names in the tent of those who were to go. Mine was not on the list, I questioned it, and he told me my name had never been on the list, so I went back to bed and at 4 o’clock, after the boys had had breakfast and were on parade, he called out the names and mine was about 8th on the list of 98 men so I had to get out of bed, grab my gear, put it aboard a truck, and then go over and get three fried eggs between bread for breakfast.
This orderly room is a proper Aussie one. They don’t know where anything is and don’t know how to handle men.
We drove about 20 miles to the airport. The drivers were AIF drivers, and their truck driving and convoy work was good compared to the Yanks.
We must have passed over nine bridges that had been blown up and were repaired with iron trellis sections. We were taken out of the trucks and put 20 men to a Catalina flying boat. At about 8 o’clock we moved off. We circled for about 20 minutes on the water then rose up smoothly. It was a bit jerky on the water owing to the waves.
The landscape of the Philippines looked better from the air than it did from the ground and there were some fertile areas growing bananas, coconuts, rice, etc. with water plentiful.
I can see it should be easy for a bomb crew to drop bombs on a target. The flying boat rode like a champion and it reminded me of a diesel coach with a bit more noise. I went to sleep for some of the way. Except for a couple of small holes, the only place to look out from was the gun blister in the middle of the ship (only five at a time were allowed).
Except for when we went through a couple of clouds and struck air pockets and dropped a bit it was a good trip to Morotai (Indonesia) where we arrived at 3.30 pm and landed on the water without a bump. We had a hot Dinner and Tea on the plane.
We got scones and cocoa as soon as we arrived at the camp, and were then taken to the Q store and issued with anything we liked. I did not get much as I have all I can carry and had left a pair of Yank boots back in Manila. We got a good kit bag, and also got lots of stuff from the Red Cross. One pair pyjamas and a lot of small things including two packets of Capstans (cigarettes)
A good Tea and picture show at night.
Up at 4.30. There are Dutch civilians here, men, women and children. Released Indians, Yanks and Nip prisoners.
We left at 8 o’clock and had a bit of bumpy weather for a start. Then in a clear sky she did the worst pitching, but we had good flying at 9,000 feet until we hit Melville Island. Our plane cruised at about 108 miles (173 KPH) an hour and had a crew of seven.
The Coral Sea looked quite nice from the air. The water was greenish, with reefs and little green islands. The sea was very calm and at this height with fluffy clouds between us, looked like the sky. At one place there was a lot of islands but we followed the open sea most of the way.
Then we came over Melville Island. What a desolate, God forsaken country it looked, with large salt patches, mangroves and the trees on the ground so thin and scattered. The mission looked neat. The tide was going out in the old usual style.
Darwin, the rear part of Aussie was good to see, knowing it was Aussie. It did not look much improved except that there were some bigger camps. I could see one ship that had been sunk and there were about 13 Catalina’s in the bay.
We landed 3.30 pm and were put into a bus and taken back to Winellie Camp (where they had been based in 1941).
When we pulled up they said “you cannot go into the huts, the women (AWAS) are just making the beds”, we said “this is not our army”. The women are camped in Larrakea.
We camped in the old 2lst Bn lines and except for a few new buildings it is the same camp we left in 1941.
The boys who have been here two days, leave tonight and tomorrow morning. At Tea that night it was that good that we nearly decided to stay in the army. Crockery, men waiting on us, fruit and cream etc.
We changed our Philipine money into Aussie.
We got a pay of £2.10.0 and this morning I sent a couple of telegrams that the girls will go crook at, telling them not to meet the plane.
We went to the Q store, and got two pairs of shorts, shirts, long trousers, socks, tops, and were told that we could either get our Service Dress here or in Perth. I’ll get mine there. We could have got more clothes but we can’t carry any more. The chap tried to tell us that we might get any surplus taken off us in Perth.
We were tested for blood pressure and were taken into Darwin to be X-rayed.
Camps run practically from here to Darwin. The aerodrome has grown into a big one, and there is a fresh one nearer Darwin.
We went to the naval hospital and after the X Ray we got driven round the town. There were more of the European houses left standing than I had expected after reading Nip accounts of their bombing.
The new Darwin hotel had only had one wing hit and the old Darwin (The Chinatown) had disappeared. All of which is to the good.
I was a bit astonished to see the amount of Abo’s working, they looked good.
We got a bottle of Fosters beer for 1-8 d.
One of the boys had a friend up here and was lent a jeep, so five of us were taken around Darwin. To some it might have seemed as though Darwin had got a bit of bombing, and although the pub Chinatown, was gone and what had been the Yank H.Q. had had a bomb dropped in the middle of it, and the good oil tanks had gone up, Darwin to me was only scarred.
What surprised me most was the fact that there were no civilians here, for although every building was taken over by the fighting forces surely there would have been good opportunities for business.
We were taken around Fanny Bay and East Point and it can be understood how they can give us fresh fish because there are fish traps all the way around. Had Dinner at the Survey Sergeants mess and had peaches and rice. Got back to camp at four, we had left at nine.
In the evening we went down to the hospital for an evening with the nurses and had a good yarn with them, drank lolly water and finished up the night by doing the Hokey-Pokey dance. “Ye Gods”, and we thought we were going to return to civilisation and not to be Tropic Happy.
The names of all the other starters from our party are up. Some are going in the morning and Smokey Hayes (Norman Patrick Hayes (WX8374) is going to SA but no planes are going to the West.
Doug Tanner (WX16324) had to go to hospital. They found something wrong with his lungs on the X ray, there is one in about 20 get it even though they look healthy.
I was having a drink of orange juice at the Red Cross when a “Red Cap” blew in and asked me how I was, and how I liked being back. I did not salute or anything and it turned out to be General Murray who is in charge of the NT forces.
Got word at 11 o’clock tonight that we are due to go out in the morning.
Got woken up at 3.15 am and what with packing and not being able to sleep, did not get much more than a couple of hours sleep all night.
We had breakfast and moved out to the aerodrome, then had to wait while they mucked around, then they took us for a run around the drome looking for the plane. It is certainly a big drome with strips going all ways. We found the Liberator (No 358) in the end, there were 19 of us going, plus the crew and our luggage.
We left at 6.15 am and for a while we passed over mangroves, swamps and rivers, then ran in hilly country and dry rivers, red flats and ant hills and it looked a good scene for a Technicolor film.
We passed into the sand drift and there were long lanes of drift hills, then followed the salt lake country. We were flying at 6,000 ft and could not see any stock or anything moving on the ground.
We hit the wheat belt somewhere near Wongan Hills and could see a few abandoned farms for a while. It looks like a big jigsaw puzzle. The crops look very thin from the air, and later we could see whole paddocks that looked as though they had been washed away. The jam country on the other side of the Darling Ranges looked pretty.
We landed at two o’clock and we were not expected at Guildford (the WA Personnel Depot until the 1950’s) until three and there was no one to meet us. Some had to wait for relations but some of us went straight to Hollywood hospital, and were admitted and examined and in spite of kicking up a row, will not be let out until tomorrow.
We nicked off into town, then went visiting and did not get back till 1.30 am and got roared up for not taking our boots off before coming in.
This is the end of Frank’s diary except for the lists of places, dates and ships etc included in the appendix.
Frank was able to reunite with his three sisters while on recuperation leave but unfortunately, his mother had been murdered while he was a POW.
After being discharged in January 1946 he moved to Bunbury to live with Jean, his oldest sister and her family where he transcribed this diary from the notes he had taken on the Japanese signal pad.
He suffered bouts of malaria (not mentioned in the diary) which gradually diminished and after getting back into regular work, regained most of his health and strength. Although not mentioned in the diary and rarely talked about, he had been tortured by the Japanese on several occasions in Thailand and beaten while in Japan and had the scars on his hands and back to prove it.
He never returned to his farm at Nungarin and was killed in a work accident about 2 1/2 years after his return in 1948 aged 39 years.
Significant Places and Dates
|Enlisted||18 June 1940|
|Claremont||18 October 1940|
|Ascot||21 October 1940|
|Left Northam||21 July 1941|
|Woodside||25 July 1941|
|Left Woodside||13 October 1941|
|Darwin||22 October 1941|
|Left Darwin||30 December 1941|
|Port Moresby||4 January 1942|
|Sydney||8 January 1942|
|Left Sydney||10 January 1942|
|Perth||15 January 1942|
|Left Perth||16 January 1942|
|Sunda Straits||20 January 1942|
|Left Sunda Straits||21 January 1942|
|Woodlands, Singapore||24 January 1942|
|Thas||31 January 1942|
|Left Thas||9 February 1942|
|Alexander Hospital||11 February 1942|
|Capitulation||15 February 1942|
|Left Hospital||26 February 1942|
|Left Changi||5 May 1942|
|Left Callecott Estate (Thompson Rd)||20 November 1942|
|Left River Valley Rd||23 December 1942|
|Left Changi||14 March 1943|
|Kanbury (Kanchanabury)||18 March 1943|
|Tarsoa||27 March 1943|
|Left Tarsoa||24 April 1943|
|Konyu No 2||25 April 1943|
|Lower Konyu||10 July 1943|
|Tarsau||19 July 1943|
|Chungkai||23 August 1943|
|Tamuan||23 May 1944|
|Left Tamuan||22 June 1944|
|River Valley Rd||27 June 1944|
|Left River Valley Rd||1 July 1944|
|Left Singapore||4 July 1944|
|Mire (Borneo)||8 July 1944|
|Left Mire||10 July 1944|
|Manilla||16 July 1944|
|Left Manilla||9 August 1944|
|Luzon||10 August 1944|
|Left Luzon||12 August 1944|
|Keelung||16 August 1944|
|Left Keelung||27 (or 28) August 1944|
|Okinawa 1||30 August 1944|
|Okinawa 2||1 September 1944|
|Kowasame||3 September 1944|
|Left Kowasame||5 September 1944|
|Moji||7 September 1944|
|Got Off Boat||8 September 1944|
|Moji||9 September 1944|
|Yamani||10 September 1944|
|Niihama||18 May 1945|
|Left Niihama||13 September 1945|
|Wakayama||14 September 1945|
|Left Japan||15 September 1945|
|Okinawa||19 September 1945|
|Left Okinawa||22 September 1945|
|Manilla||25 September 1945|
|Got Off Boat||26 September 1945|
|Left Manilla||9 October 1945|
|Left Morotai||10 October 1945|
|Darwin||10 October 1945|
|Perth||14 October 1945|
|Discharged||30 January 1946|
Ships Traveled In
Duntroon 1939 / 45 Star
Marella Pacific Star
Aquitane War Medal 1939 / 45
Van Der Lyn Australian Service Medal 1945 / 75
Rashin Maru with Clasp SW Pacific
USS Cabilde-LSD 16 (Landing Ship)
USS Bingham-PA 225
PBY Catalina A24-354 to Darwin and B24 Liberator to Perth.