Jimmy Smith – 2/4th Tenor
A group containing about 50 men from 2/4th (from ‘A’ and ‘D’ Forces) who had gathered at Chungkai Camp in early 1945 had decided to remain together as best they could as a work party.
According to Les Cody’s “Ghosts in Khaki” Chungkai was a ‘closed shop’. The camp staff were British, and they were well and truly settled in and did not intend to lose their comfortable, permanent status. Work parties drafted from here meant recycling the newcomers.
They had been working to make an airstrip at Kachu Mountain Camp and on the move to their next camp, Nakom Nayok. The journey was partly by train and marching.
This journey included two pleasant highlights!
At a railway wayside the men had an unexpected meeting with a group of French nuns. The first time in 3 years it was an opportunity to communicate in a civilised manner and exchange greetings!
The second highlight of the journey was during an overnight stop – their guards permitted a campfire concert.
It was apparently a glorious moonlit tropical night, the men had finished their food and were seated around a cheery fire and Jimmy Smith who had a lovely tenor voice began singing a selection of old favourite songs. The audience remained absolutely silent, isolated in their own magical world of song and memories – they ignored the nearby Japanese guards and the presence of Thai natives gathered in the darkness beyond.
Jimmy’s performance and the night was one never to be forgotten.
The next morning the train journey resumed, punctuated by occasional Allied aircraft until the men finally began a 20- hour non-stop horror march into Nakom Nayok camp. The men were exhausted and unable to persuade the guards to rest at all. They were belted back from sleep as they staggered and fell over the track.