- Contributed by
- People in story:
- George Arthur Abrey
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- Contributed on:
- 12 December 2005
"This story was submitted to the People's War site by CSV/BBC Radio Nottingham on behalf of George Arthur Abrey with his permission. The author fully understands the site's terms and conditions"
George - When war broke out in 1939 I Joined the army and did my training etc. I was posted to 15 Ackack. My army No. being 1459895. Training over we left England 1940 en Route to Basra Iraq before arriving Japan entered the war 1941. All our munitions, equipment lost. Our destination was then changed to Singapore. We were given new equipment and changed from Ackack to infantry. We were told to be at the ready to leave Singapore as Jap army coming in huge numbers left Singapore in hurry, regrouping on an Island called Pelanbang. By leaving Singapore in such hurry no provision for living quarters had been made so we were forced to live hand to mouth in really bad conditions. Quite quickly we were ordered to leave Pelanbang for Batavia. Our force here numbered some 30,000 mixed troops, and wait for it. We had been assembled to watch the departure of General Wavell, who later became Viceroy of India in his departing speech Gen. Wavell said and I quote = I have, he said, all your names in my suitcase, which I will present to parliament and then added I now leave you to be handed over to the incoming Japanese forces. Surrender was a bitter pill to swallow. Well if things were tough now, we were soon to learn Japanese soldiers were best at in handing out the harshest punishment for the slightest infringement of rules which they made up as we went along. We went along we were loaded into covered barges and shipped off to Japan Tokyo in fact. We were packed so tightly between decks that if one stood one lost his place.
When the Japs decided to let us eat the deck cover was lifted and buckets of rice was lowered. Everyone fought to get a handful. When buckets were emptied the buckets were passed around and used as toilets. After many days of sailing we arrived in Japan and put to work in coal mines. Lives, many were left to purely bad conditions ignoring the Geneva Convention. The will to survive became the focal point of our miserable existence and by the way while docked in Tokyo harbour the battens were lifted, on reaching top deck, breathing lots of lovely fresh air. Looking round no Japs were visible. Looking in cupboards we found lots of Red Cross parcels many opened and consumed by Japs, the full ones we ripped open and shared with the sickest of us
The following morning lots of Japs prodded and beat us with rifle butts into line on the desk side saying all shoot all shoot. Actually they left us in blazing sun from 7am to 6pm no food no water but lots of rifle butts prisoners fell in droves but to move to aid them — where they fell is where they stayed. We learned the coal mines we had been forced to slave in were bombed very heavily by US Air force completely destroying. We also did not know at time we actually saw The Mushroom from atomic bomb really awesome sight. The saddest thing for me was to find out my Dear Wife thought I was dead for 2 and a half years. The Japs deliberately avoided humane actions. Anyway shortly after we were shipped to concentration called U.B.E. a holding camp, then onto Waki-Yama where we were kept in atrocious conditions until Wars end 1945.
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