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15 October 2014
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Fred's Journey, Part 3: After the Atom Bomb

by Brighton CSV Media Clubhouse

Contributed by 
Brighton CSV Media Clubhouse
People in story: 
Fred Neale,
Location of story: 
Nagasaki, Japan
Background to story: 
Royal Air Force
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
27 September 2004

The camp as it looked at the time of capitulation. (15th August 1945 Japan official surrender) The number of men in the camp was 42. This picture was hand painted by Fred during his time as a POW on an island off Nagasaki — he made his own paint brush by using the hairs from a local dog, the corner of the painting was eaten by termites

(Note: the Hiroshima bomb was dropped on the 6th August 1945, the bomb Fred mentions is the 2nd bomb dropped in Nagasaki on the 9th August 1945).

After the Atom Bomb we sort of regrouped on what was left of our camp. There were still guards and we had to sort of toe the line, otherwise you got beaten up anyway. The day after they dropped the bomb we went down and marched to the docks, what was left, and to see what would happen. We were severely left alone, there was nothing to work on, there was nothing left. We mooched around I came across - and this has stuck in my mind - this woman with a baby. This poor woman, her baby was skinless and the flies... She was burnt and she was trying to feed it, and her fingers were sticking to it. What could I do? I picked up a piece of wood and fanned them to keep the flies off, until they keeled over.

During the morning we had nothing to eat or drink. Then a big black B29, flew slowly around, under the wings were written, ‘P.O.W. SUPPLIES’. We had to attract its attention. We took our rags off and spelt out, ‘HELP P O W S’. They must have seen us as later a Liberator came over and dropped a message using a field dressing. “Hang on.” it read, “We’ll be back!” In the afternoon a flight came over and dropped lots of things, but we could not hold anything down. I was so sick, I rubbed some peach juice into my skin, but it attracted the flies. I had to wash it off so I jumped in the sea. One man, who was after boots, got squashed like beetle under a parachute drop from the plane. We scrapped him off the sack. The containers had everything in them.

The next thing a little aircraft carrier, the Chennang U.S.A, staggers in and tied up over what was left of the jetty on the other side. Then the invasion barges came across with the Marines in. To see those chaps! They must have been ten foot tall! Well I did not weight six stone, and was all bones, gums all receded and teeth all rotten at the roots. We had no hair, left the whiskers though; I looked as if I had my head upside down. The Marines came in and the first thing they did, obviously, they counted the heads. The Medical Officer (M.O.) came, checked us over. “What atrocities did you suffer?' He asked. “Captain Rice Flitch”, a Dutch collaborator and a captain M. O.” we replied, “He refused to let us have medical stuff.” He was salting them away for when he got to the islands round Java, when he would be king dick. He was taken away, later we heard he had been shot. Amazingly, we suffered no radiation; Jesus must have been blowing the wind onto the land that day.

The next thing was a cable to send home. So I filled in the forms like they told me “Home address, say you are alive” That was the first thing my mum and dad had heard from me, of course, since the fall of Singapore, I had been posted missing believed-killed. It was a great shock to them! When I came home. “Welcome home Fred”, there was bunting all up the street. I took it down and it was all up the next day. I did not know what to expect, I was frightened. I was a POW for three and half years and more to follow. In Japan I knew I would not survive - it was on the books that I would eventually be killed. If the Americans arrived we were all to be killed in the caves, as they were all wired with explosives, we would be buried in there. The Japes were going to fight to the last man; even their little kids were trained to throw hand grenades from the cliffs tops. Until the ATOM BOMB SHOOK THEM RIDGED! We had got something they had not got. They had not got that!

Read the next part pf Fred's story in Part 4: Leaving the POW camp in Japan.

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